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Rear Area Protection

The RAP goal is to provide security of rear areas and facilities in order to insure freedom of logistical flow, continuous combat and combat service support, and unimpeded movement of units throughout the rear area.


Units and facilities in the TAACOM are vulnerable to attack by enemy forces because of their importance to the sustainment of the tactical effort and their limited combat capability. Therefore, enemy forces, ranging in size from single agents and saboteurs to airborne, airmobile, and amphibious forces as large as divisions, will attempt to demoralize TAACOM forces, disrupt support activities, interdict lines of communication, and cause the diversion of combat forces from the main effort. Likely targets of enemy attack in the TAACOM include--

  • Nuclear and chemical storage facilities and delivery systems.
  • Lines of communication.
  • Command and control headquarters.
  • Radar, electronic warfare, and air defense artillery sites.
  • Airfields.
  • Logistics installations.

Attack of such targets with highly trained forces and long-range nuclear, chemical, and conventional weapons represents an important feature of the enemy's concept of battle.

To defeat enemy incursions in the COMMZ, minimize damage, and insure the uninterrupted support of the main effort, comprehensive plans must be developed and implemented. These plans must provide for the dispersal, distribution, and protection of vital command and control and support facilities. The key to rear area protection operations is sound planning, effective OPSEC, early warning, and the rapid deployment of sufficient forces and resources to counter the threat and minimize damage to friendly forces and facilities. These operations must be accomplished without degrading the primary missions of combat support and combat service support units and without requiring any more assistance from combat forces than is absolutely necessary. Thus, rear area protection operations are not conducted in isolation. Rather, they are an integral part of the air-land battle effort which stresses that just as we plan to fight in the enemy's rear area, the enemy plans to fight in ours. Accordingly, rear area portion operations should provide for--

  • The use of available on-call forces to meet and defeat rear area threats based on a balancing of needs between the front line fight and the rear area battle.

  • A system of command and control and early warning.

  • A system of graduated responses that is founded on units in rear areas defending themselves against small-scale enemy incursions and gaining time until reinforcements arrive to help neutralize any large enemy forces.


    The success of RAP operations hinges on the binding together of diverse resources. Therefore, like any other tactical undertaking, unity of effort also applies to RAP operations. In the TAACOM, the TAACOM commander is responsible for RAP operations. The commander's authority is exercised by the RAP officer, who directs any required TAACOM area RAP efforts. The RAP officer is assisted by the RAOC, which provides the command and control structure to plan, coordinate, and assist in directing the execution of the rear area battle.

    To successfully defeat enemy operations in rear areas, clear-cut lines of authority for specific RAP responsibilities must be set up and maintained at all levels before any plans or operations are started. The RAOCs will establish a tactical chain of command to control RAP. Tactical combat forces will be attached to the RAOC when a level III incursion occurs. The RAP officer, through the RAOC, fights the rear area battle using bases, base clusters, MP, and tactical combat forces. The tactical chain reports directly to the echelon commanders and conducts staff coordination with the TA DCSOPS.


    The base commander is responsible for the defense of the base. When enemy activity exceeds base defense capabilities, base defense forces engage the enemy and gain time until reinforcements arrive to help neutralize the threat.

    The base cluster commander is designated by the support group commander and is responsible for coordinating RAP activities within the base cluster. The base cluster commander is normally a battalion commander who has a headquarters and staff, The cluster commander establishes a base defense operations center that interfaces with all of the bases within the cluster and with the TAACOM's rear area operations center. The cluster commander supervises base defense planning and execution within the cluster.

    The support group RAOC is responsible for coordinating the RAP activities of all the units in the area. In so doing, the support group commander and the RAOC review subordinate unit RAP plans and coordinate the employment of outside resources (military police, engineers, combat forces, military intelligence, communications support, and HNS) with the TAACOM RAOC, MP brigade, signal brigade, engineer brigade, and other organizations as appropriate. The support group commander also establishes priorities for the defense of bases and base clusters within the area of operations.

    The TAACOM commander coordinates the positioning of all combat service support units in the TAACOM. The TAACOM commander is also responsible for integrating the RAP plans of the support groups into a single, coordinated TAACOM RAP plan. Where applicable, close coordination is effected with HN elements. In some theaters, the HN may be assigned responsibility for RAP in the COMMZ.

    The MP brigade commander is responsible for planning and conducting combat operations against threat forces in the rear area. The brigade commander deploys forces to provide early warning of rear area threat activity concurrently with other assigned MP missions. Within the brigade's capability, the commander provides response forces to assist bases that are under enemy attack. When enemy forces exceed this capability, the brigade commander provides prompt and accurate information to the RAOC and participates in RACO with combat forces, when requested.


    The intelligence mission in support of RAP is to provide integrated, timely, and accurate intelligence regarding the assigned areas. There are no organic intelligence organizations specifically tailored for RAP. In the COMMZ, the theater army intelligence officer identifies requirements that are satisfied by the theater army military intelligence brigade. Intelligence support elements from the military intelligence brigade are in direct support of the RAOC, MP command, and subordinate units as required. They assist in identifying RAP intelligence requirements and establishing priorities with the military intelligence brigade.


    Command relationships often change with the implementation of RAP plans. For example, a maintenance company commander may not be located on the same base or installation as the maintenance battalion headquarters. As a result, the company commander may have two chains of command, one technical and the other tactical. For normal day-to-day operations, the commander reports primarily to the parent battalion headquarters. For RAP purposes, however, the company commander reports to the base commander and fights the rear area battle through the tactical chain if and when attacked. The technical chain is used to redistribute support away from the base and insure that combat support and CSS previously supplied from the base under attack is provided from another support base. The coordination of the tactical and technical chain is managed between the RAOC and the TAACOM SPO. Rapid reporting helps to insure that all concerned parties receive combat information and intelligence. It also helps to insure that critical resources are applied at the right time and place.


    Responses to enemy attacks in the rear area must be rapid and strong enough to defeat attacks with minimum disruption of friendly operations. Therefore, enemy operations in rear areas must be anticipated and plans made for the defense and immediate reinforcement of sensitive areas. Additionally, every effort must be made to defeat enemy forces while they are in the air or on a landing site, since once landed and dispersed, they pose a much greater threat to friendly forces.

    A summary of threat levels and friendly responses is shown in table 8-1.

    Depending on the threat, RACO are conducted by three characteristically different types of forces separately or in combined effort. These forces are base defense forces, MP response forces, and tactical combat forces.


    LEVEL I: Agents, saboteurs, and terrorists. Base defense forces.
    LEVEL II: Diversionary operations and sabotage by tactical units. Base defense forces and military police
    LEVEL III: Airborne, airmobile, heliborne, amphibious,deliberate ground operations, and infiltration. Front-line committed forces oran available rear area combat


    Well-planned and tenacious base defense is the keystone of effective rear area protection operations. The primary focus of base defense force operations is to meet and defeat attacks by saboteurs, terrorists, and special operations teams (Level I). When attacked by diversionary forces or the reconnaissance elements of tactical units (Level II), base defense forces must be prepared to fix, isolate, or contain the attack until military police or other forces can respond. Bases may also be attacked by battalion-sized or larger enemy forces. In such cases, base defense forces must be capable of establishing a base of fire, such as small arms and some antiarmor fires, and coordinating any available indirect fires to isolate, limit, or delay the enemy attack until reinforcements arrive. Attention. must be given to training and equipping CSS units who will compose the base defense force if they are to accomplish their RAP mission.


    When enemy forces (Level II) exceed base defense capabilities, MP forces respond and conduct combat operations to close with and destroy the attacking enemy force within their capability. Additionally, MP routinely provide early warning of indications of rear area threat activity. Where a viable host nation agreement still exists, their forces have the responsibility to identify, intercept, and destroy threat forces. In the event of a major (battalion-sized or larger) enemy incursion in the rear area, the HN may request assistance from allied forces. When no viable host nation agreement exists, military police elements assume these functions.


    Base defense and response forces are not normally capable of countering battalion-sized forces that the enemy will likely use to conduct airborne, airmobile, or amphibious (Level III) incursions into friendly rear areas. Therefore, the destruction of major enemy incursions in the COMMZ is the primary responsibility of a tactical combat force. The tactical combat force may be a brigade-sized unit that is assigned within the TAACOM area. It could be a brigade from one of the divisions or a newly arrived unit in the theater, such as a separate brigade, that is awaiting rotation into the main effort.

    Fire support, when needed, may be provided by organic fire from elements involved in RACO action.

    Other units that are well suited for RACO missions include air cavalry, combat aviation, air assault, airmobile, engineer, reconstituted corps, and light infantry units augmented with air or ground transportation. Additionally, during the early stages of conflict and pending the availability of additional combat units to perform RACO missions, host nation forces may play a critical role in RACO, even to the extent of performing those missions in some theaters.

    The tactical combat force is attached to the RAOC and reports through the tactical chain of command to the TAACOM commander. It is positioned in locations that facilitate the accomplishment of its mission, such as in the vicinity of landing zones or likely Level III objectives. It will be assigned an area of operations to close with the enemy. All units within the area of operations are under the operational control of the tactical combat forces for the duration of the mission.


    The lethality and range of modern weapon systems and the enemy's concept of striking deep is such that units in rear areas are as vulnerable to enemy action as the troops of committed units. Therefore, to insure their survival and continue support of the main effort, all units located in rear areas must plan and train for ADC operations just as they plan and train for RACO. ADC operations include preventive and control measures taken prior to, during, and after an enemy attack, major accident, or natural disaster to limit damage, seal off affected areas, save lives, and salvage equipment. Thus, the primary objectives of ADC operations are to minimize a unit's vulnerability and facilitate its ability to survive and reconstitute when damage does occur.

    Units and bases in the COMMZ cannot always depend on dedicated support for ADC operations from outside resources. Even if outside resources are available, weapons of mass destruction may alter the terrain and impede their timely arrival. Therefore, commanders must plan and train for damage contingencies using organic manpower and equipment.


    The RAOC is designed to plan and coordinate the rear area battle in peacetime and to direct and monitor the actual battle in wartime. It will perform these functions if host nation support is not viable. In communications with tactical operations centers, the RAOC accesses the tactical command and control, intelligence, fire support, and communications resources quickly and directly and achieves an integrated and balanced tactical response.

    Base defense planning includes all RAP activities to include RACO and ADC. The base commander is responsible for the base defense plan. Unit commanders are responsible for self-defense independently or as an element of a base or base cluster. Base cluster commanders are responsible for communication, RAOC and MP interface, interface with host nation support at the working level, and coordination of the base cluster response.

    Base defense liaison teams from the RAOC are located in TAACOM and the support group areas to provide RAOC liaison and technical support. The base defense liaison teams review all base cluster defense plans, coordinate base cluster plans with the RAOC, and monitor the execution of the plans during combat operations. The base cluster commander develops a cluster response with the advice and assistance of the area support group RAOCs and the base defense liaison teams.

    The operational resources (engineer, ordnance, medical, chemical, maintenance, civil affairs, supply, military police, and transportation) associated with RAP are not normally dedicated. Base defense plans include those operational resources present in the area; however, commitment of resources to the RAP mission is approved by the commander in the rear area. The RAOC coordinates execution of all aspects of base defense plans to include obtaining support in combat.

    RAOCs within the TAACOM provide the commander's RAP guidance to subordinate commands. A RAP operation plan (RACO and ADC) is developed to include defensive priorities, initial base and base cluster positioning, and operational resources. Host

    nation assistance is identified and integrated by the RAOC with the assistance of the ACofS, CMO.

    Military police or other forces respond to the threat within areas of responsibility designated in the RAP plan. Execution by military police is decentralized; information is provided to the RAOC. ADC support for bases is arranged according to the priorities developed in plans and the tactical situation and is requested through operations channels by the RAOC. Fragmentary orders are issued by the RAP officer, or requests for assistance are rendered to the TA DCSOPS by the RAOC as the situation dictates.

    For a more comprehensive discussion of rear area protection operations, see FM 90-14.


    In those cases where operations take place in a foreign nation whose sovereignty remains viable and host nation support agreements have been agreed upon, rear area protection, especially in the COMMZ, may be assumed by the host nation. Where appropriate, the integration of RAP and host nation support is accomplished within the COMMZ by the theater army DCSOPS. The theater army, TAACOMs, area support groups, units, and installations are linked primarily through counterpart-to-counterpart interface in a host nation telephone system for coordination of RAP with appropriate host nation military organizations.

    06-03-1996; 09:19:44

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