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The Battlefield

The US Army must be able to fight and win on any battlefield in the world. The enemy may range from small well-supported insurgent forces to large mechanized forces such as those of the Soviets and their surrogates. Army forces may be engaged in a variety of combat missions. The environment may range from the tropics to the arctic. Battles may be fought in areas in which there is little or no prewar US presence or in regions where we have sizable forward-deployed forces. Our doctrine for support, like our doctrine for combat, must stand up to the test of the entire gamut of these conditions and scenarios.


FM 100-5, the Army's keystone doctrinal manual, explains the Army's operational concept for the air-land battle. This manual gives the basic doctrinal background on which all other doctrinal manuals are based. In its explanation of the air-land battle, FM 100-5 emphasizes the terms initiative, depth, agility, and synchronization as being the basic tenets for success on the modern battlefield.

These terms apply to combat support and combat service support elements as well as to combat forces. Inherent in these terms is an understanding between all commanders, supporting and supported, subordinate and senior, vertical and lateral, of the overall mission and the plans to accomplish it. Subordinates must clearly understand the intent, as well as the details of the overall commander's plan. This allows them to deviate from the details when the situation demands or when an opportunity to hasten the execution of this intent presents itself.

Leaders at all echelons and of all the force elements must be able to think faster, make decisions more rapidly, and act quicker than the enemy. All efforts must be synchronized so that the parts of the force may combine quickly and powerfully at the most opportune point and time. CSS elements are an indispensable element of massing at the critical point and time. The weight of support must be added to the weight of combat power. They are inseparable.

Success on the battlefield will require many changes in attitude and training methods. Initiative and innovation must be stressed, and an aggressive spirit must permeate US forces. All training must be as close as possible to anticipated conditions on the modern battlefield. These conditions include environment, tempo, and the dimensions of time and space. Teamwork, flexibility, and initiative must always be emphasized in training programs.


The modern battlefield poses great challenges, not only to the combat and combat support forces, but also to the CSS units that must sustain the forces. US forces must get the most out of what they have. Every conceivable logistics asset must be used. CSS planners and operators must possess the same leadership qualities as combat leaders in order to effectively support the overall tactical plan.

The CSS force must make use of the principles of responsiveness, flexibility, and initiative. The changing situations that will be met on the battlefield require that CSS commanders foresee needs before demands are placed upon them. The commander of the CSS unit must understand the operational plans of the supported unit commander in order to perform responsively. CSS must be flexible in order to be responsive. The CSS commander must not be tied to traditional support methods, but always be willing to tailor organizations and try innovative support methods. The support commander must be prepared to accept deviation in plans and still have the initiative to carry out the mission. The CSS commander must know the CSS requirements of the supported force and the details of the operational plan and advise the supported commander of the possible CSS risks in the plan. However, the CSS commander must still be able to come up with ways to support the plan and reduce the risks.

Effective communications must be maintained between maneuver units and support units to coordinate support activities. Establishing priorities for CSS is a must. Ammunition and bulk fuel resupply, pre-positioned stock, maintenance, personnel replacement, and medical evacuation may have the highest priorities, depending on the tactical plan. Close coordination is also necessary to insure that the units with the highest tactical priority receive their required support first. Effective communications and coordination will enable the support unit commander to emphasize the flow of supplies rather than the buildup of stocks. It may be necessary, however, to stock critical supplies near points of anticipated consumption to permit continued operations in the event disruptions in the CSS system occur. Such action, however, must not impede the movement of the maneuver units. Constant coordination is always necessary to insure effective integrated transportation support in constantly changing circumstances.

The combat mission of the supported units must remain the prime consideration in the functions of CSS units. Resources and priorities must be tailored to changing combat situations. CSS units must be flexible enough to support from any base arrangement and be able to survive and accomplish their mission. Maintenance, supply, transportation, and other support elements must be close enough to be instantly responsive to the requirements of the supported units.


The nature of the enemies the Army might face ranges from poorly organized insurgent bands to the large, mechanized, highly sophisticated forces fielded by the Soviet Union and its allies. While the lesser forces are certainly not to be ignored, the Soviet type force is potentially the most dangerous and is the type of threat against which US forces, equipment, and doctrine are developed. The following paragraphs will center on the Soviet model.

Threat armies have some of the most formidable forces in the world, both in size and quality. These forces are capable of continuous, high tempo operations in both conventional and NBC environments.

The strategy of the threat forces in the European theater calls for the rapid defeat of NATO forces and the occupation of Western Europe. Threat forces can attack NATO's central region for a relatively short period of time without being reinforced.

Threat tactics stress such elements as firepower, surprise, decisive force, deep maneuvers, and deployment in echelons to decisively defeat the opponent. The threat objective is to break through main defenses using artillery preparation and a high-speed offense and to destroy remaining defenses by attacking the flanks and the rear. This doctrine features the use of speed and shock by saturating the battlefield with tanks. High-speed armored forces penetrate as far as possible to rear areas.

A major element of Soviet military doctrine is disruption of the enemy rear area. Disruption may be carried out independently deep into the rear area or behind the main battle area in close coordination with maneuvering forces. Threat forces employed in the rear area include airborne units, air assault and heliborne units, special operations teams, sabotage and reconnaissance units, and nets of direct action and support agents. Powerful, rapidly maneuvering units called operational maneuver groups will drive into the defender's rear area early in the conflict to conduct raids, seize critical objectives, and destroy the cohesiveness of the defense. The Soviets will support rear area operations with artillery, air attacks, radio-electronic combat, and nuclear and chemical assets. Attacks by Soviet naval infantry in coastal areas are also possible.

In view of the threat's concept of striking deep, CSS units must be trained and equipped to defend themselves against enemy surveillance and attack. FMs 100-2-1, 100-2-2, and 100-2-3 give additional threat information. For a discussion of the rear area threat, see chapter 8.


US forces must survive and successfully operate in an NBC environment to win the air-land battle. Threat forces have built up their combat capability to employ NBC weapons and to fight and survive in an NBC environment. Threat doctrine clearly includes the use of chemical weapons in conjunction with either nuclear or conventional weapons. Threat forces are large, well equipped, and well trained in NBC operations and defense. All threat combat, combat support, and CSS forces and specialized NBC troops are extensively trained in NBC operations.

US Army CSS planners and operators will develop NBC defense plans tailored to the mission, perceived threat, and available NBC equipment assets. Support units will have to be highly mobile and able to operate from widely dispersed positions. Medical support problems will be compounded with the number of patients generated. Large losses are likely to occur in supplies and equipment. Vital ADP equipment may sustain extensive damage or be rendered useless by the electromagnetic pulse resulting from a nuclear blast. Contamination avoidance procedures to protect critical supplies and equipment must be an integral part of NBC defense plans. Vital ADP facilities must be in hardened shelters, if possible, to protect against NBC effects. There will be a sharp increase in the maintenance work load. CSS personnel, dressed in full protective equipment, will have to work for long periods of time. This protective clothing will cause lower productivity. Salvage, recovery, classification, and maintenance operations will be hindered by damaged equipment that is contaminated. Decontamination operations must be done, or commanders must increase personnel risks to save time. Some equipment may have to be repaired while it is contaminated, and medical patients may have to be decontaminated before treatment.

CSS system operators must prepare for this environment by including NBC training in conventional task missions. CSS units must be able to defend against NBC attack and continue their mission in an NBC environment. Intense training of CSS units will help them to survive and support the battle. Additional information on operations in an NBC environment is contained in FMs 3-87 and 21-40.


Any support that can be obtained from a host nation, a third nation, or from a segment of the population frees US forces from performing specific functions or providing materiel. In some areas of the world we already have firm commitments from other nations to perform specified functions or provide specified supplies. In other areas of the world we do not have such agreements. This fact should not deter planners from seeking such support in peacetime. Certainly it should be sought as soon after the initiation of hostilities as possible. Indigenous support is an economy of force measure and should be used whenever feasible. Planners must, however, have reasonable assurance of its being available.


Operating as part of an alliance such as NATO, each nation has the responsibility for CSS to its own forces, but efficiency requires mutual support among nations. US forces in the past have relied primarily on organic support; however, in NATO greater reliance is now being placed on European national support. Using host nation support means fewer US support elements, while still maintaining required support of combat forces. This requires that agreements be concluded among the allied nations as to how the alliance will fight the battle and how it will support the battle logistically.

These agreements, as well as the priorities and procedures for allocating resources to support the battle, must be developed and validated in peacetime. These agreements, which include standardization agreements, umbrella/implement agreements, memoranda of agreement/understanding, and mutually-accepted operations plans, all cover materiel and nonmateriel subjects. These agreements and the concept of mutual support create an environment in NATO in which US CSS forces may be requested to provide support allied forces and to develop contingency plans for providing such support.

Standardization agreements between the United States and its allies are binding. All US Army elements are to comply with them subject to any specific arrangement made by the United States. While units serving in allied areas routinely operate under the provisions of these agreements, CONUS-based active and reserve component units, particularly mobilization forces, must also be ready to implement them.

US forces deployed under the NATO alliance are invited guests of the country (host nation) to which they are deployed. The host nation has a sovereign authority to execute territorial responsibilities throughout the country. These include operation and control of ports; rail facilities; airspace; inland waterways; POL pipeline and bulk storage facilities; and commercial communications networks. Traffic control, maintenance of law and order over civilians, use of civilian labor, damage control and repair, and rear area combat operations are also included.

Execution of these territorial responsibilities by the host nation impacts on the size and composition of the CSS force in theater. When these host nation functions overlap the responsibilities of the US commander, the host nation will execute its responsibilities. However, when the host nation cannot execute its responsibilities for one reason or another, the territorial commander can delegate these responsibilities to another allied commander. As an example, the host nation might turn over control of main supply routes to another nation or to the alliance to insure that functional priorities of the alliance are met. On the other hand, the use of US military police for traffic control will give way to host nation forces if the host nation chooses to execute its territorial responsibilities.

However, whether in consideration of the host nation exercising its territorial responsibilities or mutual support agreements among nations, adjustments to US forces structure and deployment plans must be directly related to signed agreements. These agreements must define the tasks, priorities, and procedures for validation or revision. The use of reasonably assured host nation support to complement US military capabilities is essential to maximize the combat power of forward-deployed and rapidly deploying forces in wartime. Such support is the preferred method of meeting unsatisfied military support requirements. Where host nation support is clearly impractical, reserve units will be programed to satisfy the requirement. If neither of these means is feasible, additional active support units will be programed against the requirement. For additional information on support agreements, see STANAG 2868.

The foregoing has stressed indigenous support in a NATO environment simply because it is the area of our greatest commitment and because the host nation support system there is the most advance. Similar agreements exist between the US and other allies in other areas.


In areas of the world in which we do not have significant forces in peacetime, indigenous support may still be arranged ahead of time if relations between the US and the nation in question are amenable to such arrangements. The more detailed the agreement, the more effective it is likely to be during war. Again, a key to planning is the reasonable assurance of the support being available. If doubt exists, it is better to plan on having the support or supplies provided by US resources.

There are many potential trouble spots in the world in which we will have no previous arrangements. This should not preclude CSS planners and operators from seeking support from the nation or from friendly segments of the population upon initiation of hostilities. This support should be sought as early as possible, normally through civil affairs channels. Any task performed by non-US resources can reduce our troop strength commitments.


OPSEC protects military operations and activities by identifying and eliminating or controlling intelligence indicators that the enemy could use. OPSEC is concerned with the protection of both classified and unclassified data that hostile agencies could process into meaningful use. It deals with physical security. OPSEC must be included in all CSS plans as a routine part of operations. It must become second nature to CSS planners and operators in all types of units and at all levels of command.

Military forces are increasingly dependent upon communications-electronics for command and control, employment of forces, weapons security, and logistics support. This dependence makes them vulnerable to hostile actions designed to reduce the effectiveness of friendly electronic devices. Command posts, weapon systems, and logistics bases cannot survive if they are easily identified and located because of their electromagnetic emissions. Tactics which conceal emitters or deceive the enemy as to their identity and locations are vital to successful operations.

Because of technical advances in intelligence collection, sensors, processing, communications, and data processing, survival on a modern battlefield requires extensive OPSEC discipline. OPSEC should be a state of mind; a skill reduced to habit, where everyone practices the use of camouflage and noise, litter, smoke, and communications discipline. OPSEC doctrine must be included in all CSS plans.

06-03-1996; 09:16:36

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