FSB Organization and Functions



The forward support battalion is part of the heavy division support command. The DISCOM provides direct support-level logistics and medical support to all organic and attached elements of the division. As depicted in Figure 2-1, it consists of the following elements:

  • HHC/MMC. The HHC supervise and controls DISCOM operations and advises the division commander and staff on logistics throughout the division. The MMC provides materiel management for weapon systems, controls maintenance priorities, and coordinates supply functions to meet the needs of the division. FM 63-22 provides a full discussion of the responsibilities, organization, and operations of the HHC/MMC.

  • Main support battalion. This multifunctional logistics and medical unit is the division CSS operator in the division rear area. It provides direct support to division units in the division rear and designated and backup support to the FSBs. It is based in the DSA, though it provides support forward as required. Information on the MSB is in FM 63-21.

  • Forward support battalions. T he DISCOM has one FSB to provide direct support to each division maneuver brigade.

  • Aircraft maintenance company. This separate company under the DISCOM provides AVIM support to division units. It is the subject of Chapter 6 of FM 63-2-2. Other operational information appears in FM 1-500.


The FSB itself is organized as shown in Figure 2-1. The battalion has a headquarters and headquarters detachment, supply company, maintenance company, and medical company.

As part of the maintenance company, the FSB is assigned tank, mechanized infantry, and artillery systems support teams. The FSB maintenance company has one team to support each maneuver battalion assigned to the supported brigade, as well as the DS artillery battalion.

The FSB's primary role is to provide direct support to the brigade and division units operating in the brigade area. This role entails a dual requirement. First, the FSB must plan to support future operations. It must anticipate requirements and incorporate planning guidance. In addition, the FSB must support current operations. It must monitor the implementation of the support plan. This requirement involves the continuous coordination discussed throughout this manual. The FSB must actively monitor all support operations in conjunction with the brigade S4. It makes adjustments as required to ensure support requirements are met. For example, it is not enough for the FSB to plan when supported task force HEMTTs should pick up fuel. If the HEMTTs do not show up, the FSB must know about it and coordinate with the brigade S4 to find out what the problem is and what needs to be done to resolve it.

The FSB also provides support to nondivisional units, such as corps artillery and engineer battalions, located in the brigade area of operations. The FSB is the single point of contact for support in the brigade area of operations. However, in order to support nondivisional units, it must be augmented with elements of the corps logistics task force operating in the division area. (See FM 100-10.)

In addition, the FSB is responsible for base cluster defense of the BSA and operates under the brigade command for this mission. Chapter 5 is a detailed discussion of the BSA security and terrain management operations of the FSB.

The FSB performs its mission if it supports the brigade's course of action and meets the DISCOM commander's guidance. Specifically, it supports the brigade and reinforcing/ supporting units by providing or coordinating to provide all classes of supply, as well as maintenance, medical, field services, and transportation support in the amounts and at the times specified in the brigade service support annex and the FSB SOP. It must replenish its supported units' basic loads of all supplies except repair parts. Prescribed loads of maintenance-significant class II and IV items and repair parts must also be replenished. Equipment must be maintained to meet prescribed operational levels. Class VII items are distributed in accordance with the brigade commander's priorities. The FSB coordinates transportation requirements with the movement control officer to meet the needs identified by the brigade. Finally, medical evacuation and treatment operations and field services activities must be coordinated between the brigade and FSB to ensure brigade needs are met. Specific information on the elements of the FSB appears in Chapters 6-9 of this manual.


The FSB organization as outlined above and discussed later provides flexibility. The DISCOM commander and staff are responsible for tailoring resources to support tactical operations. They maintain constant contact with the division staff to anticipate future support requirements-who will require what types and amounts of support in what battlefield locations at what times. The DMMC, medical operations center, support battalions, and AMCO keep the DISCOM aware of the current and projected status of logistics and medical resources. As a result of this information, the DISCOM task organizes to best support the force.

The FSB commander may receive additional assets from the MSB or a corps logistics battalion task force to provide required support beyond the FSB's capability. The FSB may also receive resources from or have to relinquish them to another FSB. There is no magical formula the FSB commander can use to tell him what assets he may receive or have to give up. The DISCOM commander must decide on the basis of numerous variables including the tactical situation, changes to the task organizations of supported units, shifting support priorities, and status of resources available throughout the division area of operations. The FSB's responsibility in this process is to keep the DISCOM commander abreast of the logistics and medical situation in its brigade area and of current and anticipated support problems.

One example of a requirement for task-organizing would be the cross-attachment of a battalion-sized unit within the division. Before such a cross-attachment takes place, support to the unit must be coordinated and identifiedin the attachment order. Coordination takes place among the FSBs involved, the DISCOM support operations branch, the MSB support operations section, and the affected brigade and battalion S4s. In addition, medical support is coordinated among the MSB and FSB support operations sections and medical companies, the DISCOM medical operations center, the division surgeon, and the affected brigade and battalions.

Planners must know what CSS assets are available to accompany the battalion. This will include the battalion's support platoon as well as any DS maintenance team associated with the battalion. For instance, if a division artillery battalion has been in direct support to a maneuver brigade which is now placed in reserve, the artillery battalion will receive another role since artillery is never in reserve. If the battalion is placed in support of another brigade, the artillery MST from the maintenance company of the FSB supporting the brigade in reserve would come with the battalion and continue to work out of the service battery site. Also, the ATP section of the supply company would augment the ATP of the receiving brigade. The FSB medical company treatment squads/teams may operate with the maneuver battalion HHC's medical platoon in support of task force operations. Cross-leveling of other assets from the losing FSB would depend on the requirements of its supported brigade, the units being cross-attached, the status of resources in the FSB, the support priorities, and the length of time for the cross-attachment. Sometimes support elements cannot be evenly split. For example, if the FSB has only one or two soldiers in a partitular MOS, it may not be possible to send any support of that type when a brigade element is cross-attached to another brigade. In such cases, elements of the MSB may be sent forward to augment the capability of the FSB which receives the additional requirements.

In all cases, planners responsible for organizing logistics and medical elements in the brigade areas must consider the following:

  • The mission of the additional unit.

  • The number of people in the unit.

  • The number and types of equipment.

  • The priority of support to each brigade.

  • The level of combat effectiveness required for the additional battalion.

  • The length of time the battalion will need support.


The base of operations for the FSB is the brigade support area. The brigade S3 approves the BSA location based on the tactical situation and the recommendation of the FSB commander and staff and the brigade S4. The FSB commander must ensure the area is small enough for C3 and security purposes, yet large enough to accommodate the dispersion required by the FSB and all the other elements normally located in the BSA. The size will vary with the terrain, but an area of 4-7 kilometers in diameter is a planning guideline.

In addition, the FSB commander, FSB S2/S3, and brigade S4 must consider --

  • Availability of roads.

  • Capability of roads to handle heavy traffic and large vehicles in all weather.

  • Availability of built-up areas.

  • Overhead cover and concealment.

  • Suitability for technical operations.

  • Dependability.

  • Communications profiles.

  • Accessibility to air support assets.

  • Distance from enemy artillery. A typical distance from FLOT to BSA is about 25-30 kilometers during support of defensive operations. This distance would put the FSB and brigade trains elements outside the range of all but long-range multiple rocket launcher fire, for example, from the BM-27. The distance may be less during offensive operations. However, it will vary with METT-T.

Though the FSB is based in the BSA, elements will be positioned on the battlefield to maximize forward support. Typical locations are depicted in Figure 2-2. In addition to the elements in the BSA, MSTs are often sent to work out of the maneuver battalion UMCPs and artillery battalion service battery sites. Also, medical company ambulances are typically stationed at maneuver battalion aid stations. In addition, ambulance exchange points are set up between maneuver battalion aid stations and the clearing station in the BSA. This reduces ambulance turnaround time. It also provides an FM communication link between medical platoons of maneuver battalions and the FSB medical company for air and ground patients evacuation. In addition, LRPs are preplanned and plotted on CSS overlays to clearing station in the BSA. expedite forward projection of support to customers. Other specific deployment possibilities for FSB elements are discussed in Chapters 7-9.


The FSB, along with supported battalion S4s, HHC commanders (field trains), service battery elements, and other support units, sustains the brigade across the entire depth of the battlefield. However, at brigade level, close, deep, and rear activities are practically indistinguishable. They are usually conducted with the same assets.



An offensive operation maybe launched at any time and with little notice. To have as much advance notice as possible and to ensure the brigade commander's course of action is supportable, the FSB commander and staff anticipate requirements and maintain continuous contact with the brigade staff. They monitor tactical nets whenever possible. In planning for an attack, the FSB ensures support equipment is ready, supplies are in position, and coordination is made to meet transportation needs.

As the attack develops, communication links between the brigade and FSB must remain operational. The FSB must also ensure the preparations discussed below do not give away tactical plans. In addition, all elements of the FSB should be prepared to move forward by echelon as described in Appendix A. Figure 2-3 depicts a representation of the brigade area during an offensive operation.

Supply. The most critical supplies are classes III, V, and IX. To handle high fuel consumption, forward stocks are built up and the class III point is prepared to move forward rapidly or set up forward tactical refuel points as described in Chapter 7.

Though ammunition expenditures may not be as high as with a heavy defense, responsive resupply is essential. A significant problem will be maintaining this support over extended supply lines. The sustained cannot require artillery service battery vehicles to travel far from firing elements or maneuver battalion support platoons to haul ammunition over great distances. The FSB must ensure ATP elements areas far forward as tactically feasible. The support operations officer, in coordination with the DAO, must plan for the forward movement of the ATP and coordinate for transportation assets. The FSB also coordinates with the artillery battalion S4 and DAO representative to preposition ammunition on request at designated firing positions.

Other supply considerations include --

  • Weapon systems replacements requirements.

  • Use of preplanned push packages of essential items, such as water, fuel, medical supplies, ammunition, and chemical defense equipment.

  • Obstacle-breaching and bridging materiel requirements.

  • Potential use of captured supplies, especially vehicles and fuel.

  • Increased use of MREs.

  • Use of controlled exchange and cannibalization as a source of repair parts.

  • Availability of host nation support, particularly procurement of class III packaged items, building supplies, barrier materiel, and in some cases sundry items.

Transportation. Transportation assets will be heavily taxed in the offense. Long lines of communications and high requirements for selected supplies and personnel replacements will stress the system. The FSB has extremely limited transportation resources. The resources it has must be used to keep the FSB mobile to advance with the attack and, whenever possible, to push support forward. This support may include such techniques as short-term pushing of supplies or moving refuel-on-the-move equipment. The support operations section must ensure that transportation requirements to sustain the momentum of the attack are communicated to the MCO in the DISCOM in a timely manner. Also, the FSB coordinates with the brigade S3 and DISCOM MCO to use road nets efficiently. The opening and securing of routes must be included in the tactical plan.

Maintenance. Maintaining momentum also requires keeping in or returning to the current battle as many weapon systems as possible. Therefore, emphasis is on battle damage assessment and rapid return of equipment to the brigade. As described in Chapter 8, the FSB maintenance company sends MSTs forward to UMCPs to support this concept. The MSTs must be task organized to ensure the right people go forward with the necessary transportation, communications assets, tools, TMDE, repair parts, and components. Teams must include mechanics who can make rapid and informed decisions on what can be repaired on site, what to evacuate, what to cannibalize, and what to abandon after being made useless to the enemy. The DISCOM may establish timelines which suggest that equipment that cannot be repaired on site within a certain period of time be evacuated or reported and left for follow-up maintenance elements to repair. Each MST will work closely with the supported battalion's BMO to make maximum use of lulls in the battle to get as much equipment as possible ready for when action resumes. In fast-paced actions, the maintenance control officer, acting on requirements made known by the MSTs, will arrange use of air transportation to bring repair parts forward and evacuate damaged equipment.

Medical. Deliberate attacks will likely result in high casualty rates. High casualty rates and long evacuation lines will stress the medical resources of the DISCOM and may require them to be augmented. Before the onset of an attack, FSB medical company assets are placed as far forward as combat operations permit. The medical company commander must ensure treatment elements have a full basic load of supplies before the attack begins. Once operations begin, the DMSO pushes prepackaged sets of class VIII supplies to battalion aid stations and the clearing station. Unit loads must be topped off. To keep the medical company mobile, patient holding in the BSA is minimized. Ground evacuation assets are positioned at battalion aid stations.

In fast-moving situations, predetermined ambulance exchange/patient collection points are identified along the axis of advance and evacuation routes. Such points when collocated with a treatment team from the medical company also provide units without organic medical support with a patient disposition site when the situation is so fluid that full area support is difficult.

In exceptional cases, increased evacuation demands may require nonmedical transportation assets to be used. If required, this intensifies the burden on the already stressed transportation system.

Field Services. Due to the mobility of offensive operations, some field services provided by corps (such as laundry and clothing exchange and bath) may be temporarily suspended. However, GRREG operations will intensify. The FSB must ensure adequate GRREG supplies are available. The other field service that assumes greater importance in the offense is airdrop. It may be required to increase support mobility. Although airdrop support comes from corps, if the FSB is the supported unit, the FSB staff must plan request procedures, drop zone selection and control, recovery of supplies, and evacuation of airdrop equipment.


The role of the FSB in the defense is to support defensive battles while maintaining the capability to shift to the offense with little notice (Figure 2-4). This requires the FSB CP to stay current with the battle. Emphasis must be placed on locating FSB support points out of reach of possible penetrations in protected and concealed locations without sacrificing support. Elements must also be out of the way of potential retrogrades. FSB units should be dispersed as much as possible without impairing command and control or security. Built-up areas will also be used as much as possible. ADA coverage must be planned; emphasis will be on passive measures. The FSB must also dig in as much as equipment and time allow. This includes positions for personnel and equipment.

Supply. Supply operations will be most intensive during the preparation stage. The FSB will plan to preposition critical supplies (particularly fuel, ammunition, and barrier materiel) far forward and in successive defensive positions. As soon as the FSB knows a defense is planned, it must begin required coordination to have obstacle materiel throughput by corps assets as close to the emplacement sites as possible. If available, FSB assets may help unload barrier materiel at emplacement sites.

Throughout the defense, class V expenditures are likely to be high. Therefore, the FSB must position the ATP to maximize responsiveness. Requirements may also be high for chemical filters, MOPP gear, and decontaminates. In many defenses, however, consumption of fuel will be low relative to rates during an offense.

Transportation. As implied in the discussion on supply, transportation is most critical while preparing for a defense. Prepositioning supplies and shifting personnel and equipment before the operation will tax the system. The FSB's major role in this area is to coordinate transportation requirements with the DISCOM MCO for support operations.

Maintenance. The maintenance company's emphasis in the defense is to take all required steps to maximize the number of weapon systems available at the start of the operation. Once defensive operations begin, the principles are the same as for the offense. However, in some defenses where lines are not extended, forward support may be maximized by consolidating all maintenance company assets, including the SSTs, in the base shop and sending out small, highly mobile MSTs to perform quick, on-site repairs or component exchanges.

Medical. Though casualty rates are likely to be lower than in an attack, patient flow from forward areas will be complicated by enemy activity. This activity may also inhibit evacuation as well as increase casualties among medical personnel and damage to evacuation assets. Medical company personnel must be prepared to get to casualty sites faster and to minimize time to perform emergency treatment and evacuation. Predetermined ambulance exchange points should also be designated. The medical company commander and FSB support operations section should have coordinated with the medical operations center for increased use of air ambulances.

Field Services. If laundry and CEB facilities are located in the BSA, the FSB staff should ensure they do not interfere with tactical operations.


Support for a retrograde operation is particularly complex. Communication with the brigade and tracking of the tactical situation is especially important. Maneuver elements at a given time may be defending, delaying, attacking, or withdrawing. Thus, it is essential that FSB elements are echelon to continue to provide support to the delaying force at an old defensive site while establishing support to withdrawing elements moving rearward. Any FSB personnel and equipment not essential to supporting forward elements should be moved as soon as possible.

Supply. Planning must ensure that supplies are delivered to projected sites along the withdrawal route where requirements will exist. Only critical supplies (classes III, V, and IX) will be moved forward to support the delaying force. Also, only enough supplies will be moved forward to meet requirements which cannot be met with supplies already positioned in forward areas. Any supplies which are already forward but not required by the delaying force should be moved back. The same applies to transport assets. Guidance on civilian property should be supplied by DISCOM headquarters.

Transportation. Retrograde operations will stress transportation resources. The MCO and provost marshal will require the FSB support operations section to assist in the critical tasks of controlling MSB transportation assets in the brigade area and in ensuring road nets stay open. The FSB must evacuate nonessential personnel and items early to avoid congested roads later. In addition, it must ensure only essential items are moved forward. Finally, the FSB support operations section makes sure all transportation assets moving resources forward assist in the evacuation effort.

Maintenance. Maintenance planning emphasizes support forward while moving most of the maintenance company rearward. Time for repairs is limited. Forward elements should concentrate on exchange versus repair and maximize cannibalization. Efficient recovery and evacuation is required. HET support should be coordinated with the DISCOM. However, evacuation assets will be scarce so forward repair is essential. Since command and control will be difficult, MST leaders must take the lead to keep the maintenance control officer aware of the team's location, resource status, and class IX requirements.

Medical. Patient evacuation is complicated by several factors. Evacuation routes may be congested with withdrawing forces. Evacuation assets will be required to move patients that would normally be treated in the clearing station. Nonmedical transportation assets may not be available to assist. Also, medical company assets should be moved back by echelon as early as possible. This will then require prompt patient sorting and evacuation. Locations of successive treatment sites must be predetermined.

Field Services. Any laundry and CEB units in the brigade area will also be moved to the rear as soon as possible. Nonessential services may be temporarily suspended. Facilities of suspended activities may be integrated in deception plans.


A divisional brigade does not normally conduct separate deep operations. However, as part of deep operations conducted by the division, the heavy brigade can direct battles against enemy battalions and regiments up to 15 kilometers forward of the FLOT. The brigade controls its maneuver battalions and supporting attack helicopter units, sets priorities of supporting artillery fires, and coordinates USAF close air support operations. Its focus in the offense is interdiction of regiments and battalion reserves. In the defense, the brigade focuses on second echelon elements. Deep fires are sustained the same as close operations. Sustainment of deep maneuver, however, must be carefully planned. Deep maneuver is a high-speed, short-duration, audacious operation. CSS will be austere. Early in the planning phase, the FSB commander through the brigade S4 informs the brigade commander of available logistics and medical assets, replenishment prospects, and likely effect of support on the tactical operation in terms of a risk analysis the brigade commander can understand. There are two general methods for supporting a deep operation.


If there is no open, secure line of communication, self-sustainment will be required. CSS will be limited to what the brigade can carry with it or forage. The brigade will carry as much class III and V as possible. To carry more critical class III and V supplies, maneuver elements will likely download nonessential supplies and equipment. They will leave behind with the field trains all nonessential personnel and major equipment (for example, food service teams, trucks, kitchen trailers, S1 sections). If more downloading is required, consideration should be given to leaving behind class I and II items. These are relatively easy to resupply by road or air. They also allow at least some leeway from the time the need is determined to exist and when items must be delivered. Maintenance elements for quick repairs and medical personnel and equipment to perform emergency treatment may also accompany the brigade.

If the operation is limited in distance and duration, the FSB's role may be to --

  • Help ensure the brigade is fully loaded before the operation. This may include providing refueling support as far forward as possible.

  • Coordinate for transportation assets to move nonessential items which brigade elements do not move immediately.

  • Prepare to displace as a single entity to forward positions on the call of the brigade commander with the approval of the DISCOM commander.

If an increase in the brigade's self-sustainment capability is required, some FSB assets may go with the brigade. How this is done will depend on the situation. If the operation is to be of relatively long duration and secure LOCs are likely to be opened before the end of the operation, the FSB may move its critical assets with the brigade. These assets would probably include the 5,000-gallon tankers with refuel-on-the-move equipment, the ATP (if resupply is projected), MSTs, and additional medical assets. The FSB in this case will fold into the brigade movement formation. It will be protected by surrounding combat elements.

If even more mobility is required or the operation is to be of very short duration, FSB assets may be used to augment the battalion support platoons. The tankers with drivers would be the most likely assets to augment the battalions though their trafficability and survivability must be considered. This method would be the quickest means of providing additional capacity. However, keeping the FSB assets centralized provides more flexibility to maximize support as priorities change.

In all cases, only essential resources which will not inhibit the operations of the brigade should accompany it. Planners must remember that the FSB's hauling assets are limited and have little off-road capability. The FSB's supply assets are designed to receive and issue or transload supplies, not to move them over substantial distances. So, for instance, it will profit the brigade little to bring MHE if the lack of a secure LOC prohibits resupply during a brief operation. Also, equipment that cannot be quickly repaired will probably have to be abandoned after being made useless to the enemy.

Sustainment Over a Line of Communication

If sustainment is to be provided over a LOC, the essential elements of the FSB will likely accompany the brigade. They will be required to receive and issue supplies, assist in the effort to repair and recover/evacuate damaged equipment, and provide additional patient acquisition, tread evacuation capability.

Such an operation will likely involve the brigade's participation in a division deep operation over extended distances or time periods. In such cases, the brigade should avoid downloading items; return trips to retrieve them may be impossible, and division transportation assets are likely to be unavailable to move maneuver unit nonessential items. To support such operations the FSB itself will normally require additional support from the MSB or other division or nondivisional elements. This may include low-bed trailers or, when available, HETs to move FSB MHE, additional 5,000-gallon tankers, trucks to move ammunition, fuel pumps and hoses to permit use of captured materiel, and commitments to provide on-call aerial resupply of designated items. Additional corps tractor-trailers uploaded with ammunition may travel with the class V section so that when the ATP arrives at the new site ammunition is immediately available.

If a surface LOC is used, much combat power will be tied up either to keep it continuously open or to reopen it each time a convoy moves over it. Air LOCs permit faster, more responsive support, but require air superiority or at least parity. Support may involve either air-landing, airdrop, or both. If air-landing is used, the FSB is likely to be involved in establishing and securing landing zones. Engineers may also be required to prepare landing zones. If enough planning time is available, preplanned air-drop resupply missions should be considered to enhance responsiveness. If planning time is limited, immediate airdrop resupply requests may be used for urgent or priority requirements. Planners should be aware that receipt of airdrop deliveries in the BSA will require labor, MHE, security teams, and transportation assets of the FSB and the supported brigade. Evacuation of recovered airdrop equipment to the corps for reuse is a critical consideration. Priority should be given to the return of parachutes, followed by containers and platforms. Recovery of the equipment in deep operations will be difficult.


Rear operations are conducted to secure the force ,neutralize or defeat enemy operations in the rear area and ensure freedom of action and deep operations. The goal is to provide BSA security to ensure operations in the rear are not impaired. If the BSA is not secure brigade elements conducting close and deep operations cannot be sustained. This important topic is covered in depth Chapter 5.

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