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CHAPTER 8

COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT

Combat service support elements arm, fuel, fix, feed, clothe, and provide
health service support, transportation, and personnel for the reconnaissance
platoon.  The reconnaissance platoon leader is responsible for supervising
CSS within the reconnaissance platoon.  The PSG is the CSS operator for the
reconnaissance platoon.  He advises the platoon leader on the logistical
requirements and in forms the platoon leader of the platoon's logistical
status.  The PSG is assisted by the squad leaders.

8-1. ORGANIZATION

The reconnaissance platoon has no organic CSS assets. The PSG coordinates directly with his supporting XO, 1SG, or S4 for all CSS. He is the main recipient for all maintenance, supply, and personnel reports.

    a. The reconnaissance platoon presents complex, logistical considerations for the battalion staff. The reconnaissance platoon normally operates forward of the battalion. It deploys earlier and stays away longer than other battalion elements. During combat operations, the PSG coordinates directly with the 1SG or S4 to discuss support requirements and problems.

    b. The battalion staff plans and coordinates for all CSS. The logistical plan is implemented by the battalion S4, support platoon leader, company 1SG, supply sergeant, PSG, and squad leader. The reconnaissance platoon's SOP should address the duties and responsibilities to standardize routine and recurring CSS operations. (See Appendix D.)

8-2. ADMINISTRATION

Proper handling of paperwork is necessary for both efficiency and morale. The battalion PAC provides most of the administrative support. Information is passed from the reconnaissance platoon to the PAC through the S1 or the PAC supervisor. Though the system is informal, the information must be accurate and timely. The reconnaissance platoon administration consists of personnel services and replacement operations.

a. Personnel Service Support. Although many of the services are automatically provided, the reconnaissance platoon leader and PSG are responsible for ensuring these services are provided for the reconnaissance platoon. Services include--

  • Awards and decorations.

  • Leaves and passes.

  • Command information.

  • Mail.

  • Religious services.

  • Financial services.

  • Legal assistance.

  • Welfare.

  • Rest and relaxation.

    (1) The reconnaissance PSG is responsible for reporting or requesting changes in personnel records, promotions and reductions, and classifications or reclassifications.

    (2) Based on local SOP, a strength accounting report is sent to battalion headquarters over the admin/log net, detailing strength by officer, enlisted, and attached personnel. These reports are used to determine the quantity of rations, water, and ammunition for the reconnaissance platoon; they must be accurate. At higher echelons, these reports determine who receives priority for replacement troops.

    (3) A DA Form 1156 ( Figure 8-1) is completed when a casualty occurs or as soon as the tactical situation permits. Known information should be completed on the form before a casualty occurs. The form can then be placed in a common location (for example, top pocket of BDU). The soldier's squad leader usually prepares the form and gives it to the PSG. The PSG then forwards the completed form to the battalion S1 or medical personnel. A brief description is included on how the casualty occurred, the place, the time, the activity performed, and who or what inflicted the wound. If the squad leader does not have personal knowledge of how the casualty occurred, he obtains this information from a soldier who does. DA Forms 1155 and 1156 ( Figure 8-2) are completed within 24 hours or as soon as the tactical situation permits. This information is used to inform the casualty's next of kin and to provide a statistical base for analysis of friendly or enemy tactics.

b. Replacement Operations. Integrating replacements into the reconnaissance platoon is important. Normally, reconnaissance platoon replacements come from the rifle companies. This provides the platoon with experienced soldiers who are familiar with a combat environment, battalion SOPs, and the chain of command. The platoon leader and PSG welcome each soldier to the platoon, explain the standards, and introduce the soldier to his squad leader. The PSG obtains battle roster information and ensures the company 1SG has the information.

    (1) The squad leader introduces the soldier to the squad and then briefs him on duty positions. He also ensures the soldier has a serviceable weapon, ammunition, MOPP gear, and essential equipment. This in-briefing also includes recent, current, and planned activities of the squad and platoon.

Figure 8-1 Example of a DA form 1156.

Figure 8-2. Example of a DA form 1155.

      (2) The soldier is briefed on SOPs and special information concerning the area of operations. He may be given a form letter to send to his next of kin. The letter tells them where to mail letters and packages, and how to use the American Red Cross in emergencies, and it introduces the chain of command.

8-3. LOGISTICS

Reconnaissance platoon logistics involve supply, transportation, and maintenance. The chain of command must stay abreast with the status of supplies and equipment.

    a. Supply/Requests. The PSG coordinates and supervises the platoon's logistical effort. He receives requests for supplies and equipment from squad leaders, reviews them, and gives them to the supply sergeant or to the appropriate battalion staff section, depending on the battalion SOP.

    b. Ammunition Basic Load. The basic load is the total amount of ammunition required to be on hand to meet combat needs until resupply can be accomplished. A reconnaissance platoon's basic load is different from an infantry platoon's basic load. The soldier's basic load includes small-arms ammunition, grenades, M203 rounds, and possibly Claymores. The platoon should not use large amounts of ammunition, except in cases of self-defense. The platoon requests additional or special ammunition through the battalion supply system.

    c. Supply System. The supply systems consist of Classes I through IX.

      (1) Class I (subsistence items and gratuitous issue health and welfare items). MREs are carried by each soldier, usually a three- to five-day supply. Hot meals are brought forward when possible if only to supplement MREs. All meals should be eaten in shifts but never in a centralized location. During continuous or cold-weather operations, soldiers should eat more than three meals a day; therefore, an extra food allowance is planned. Water is not a Class I supply item, but is associated and delivered with Class I. Water is delivered in water cans, disposable 5-quart bladders, trailers, collapsible drums, or pillow tanks that are filled at the BSA location. Aerial delivery of these containers can also be conducted. Depending on the environment, water can be one of the most critical supply items in the area of operations. Soldiers must be prepared to use natural water sources (after purifying) to help reduce the logistical burden. The platoon should know how to find, test, and use water sources. (See FM 21-76.) In areas where soldiers consume between 3 to 12 gallons of water a day, resupply is a constant challenge. Soldiers must always top off water containers, regardless of how little is needed.

      (2) Class II (items of equipment, other than principal items, which are prescribed TDAs). Individual tools, individual equipment and clothing items, chemical lights, batteries, engineer tape, tentage, and housekeeping supplies are requested through the supply sergeant. The platoon deploys with enough Class II items until resupply can occur. Leaders tailor the soldier's load based on mission and ability for resupply.

      (3) Class III (petroleum, oil, and lubricants). Class III is delivered to the platoon during resupply operations. If the platoon uses vehicles, they should be topped off whenever the tactical situation permits.

      (4) Class IV (construction and barrier materials). Barrier materials, such as lumber, sandbags, concertina or barbed wire, and pickets, are used by the reconnaissance platoon for OPs and obstacles and to improve fighting positions. These materials are requested through the battalion or the company supply sergeant. They should be identified and requested during planning.

      (5) Class V (ammunition). Class V is delivered to the platoon during resupply operations. Some ammunition is kept in the combat trains for immediate issue. The ammunition configuration in regards to the soldier's load is critical. The platoon leader weighs the soldiers' carrying capabilities against the various equipment and supplies required for a particular mission. Since the reconnaissance platoon engages with direct fire for protection only, most of its load consists of reconnaissance and surveillance devices (NVDs, binoculars, radios) rather than ammunition.

      (6) Class VI (personal demand items). In a combat environment, Class VI may be sent with Class I as sundry packs, such as tobacco products, candy, and toiletry articles.

      (7) Class VII (major end items). Class VII is major equipment that is assembled and ready (combat vehicles, missile launchers, HMMWVs, and major weapons systems). Major end items that are destroyed are immediately reported to higher headquarters. A report serves as a request for replacement.

      (8) Class VIII (medical material). Normally, Class VIII supply for the reconnaissance platoon is provided by the supply section of the battalion HHC. Normal supplies include medical supplies, such as first-aid dressings, refills for first-aid kits, water purification tablets, and foot powder. The reconnaissance platoon's combat lifesaver ensures that the platoon has the necessary medical supplies to sustain it during combat operations. The reconnaissance platoon does not have a combat aidman. In emergency situations, the battalion medical platoon may provide critically needed supply items to combat lifesavers.

      (9) Class IX (repair parts). Class IX is the basic load of repair parts that is part of the combat PLL. The reconnaissance platoon may carry extra repair parts for items that are critical to mission accomplishment (for example, antennas, handsets).

    d. Resupply Techniques. The battalion staff (S4 and XO) develops a plan for resupplying the reconnaissance platoon. The reconnaissance platoon leader ensures that his logistical needs (present and future) are addressed by the battalion. Without a workable plan, the combat effectiveness of the reconnaissance platoon diminishes. The reconnaissance platoon leader analyzes the logistical plan with the same detail that he does the tactical plan. The tactical situation dictates the methods used to resupply and sustain the reconnaissance platoon.

      (1) The reconnaissance platoon can use the nearest company's CSS assets. The company commander must understand the importance of supporting the reconnaissance platoon. The reconnaissance platoon should have priority for supplies. This also applies when the reconnaissance platoon arrives during a resupply operation. This method strikes a balance between the reconnaissance platoons' ability to pull back for resupply and the battalion's ability to send supplies forward. Also, the logistical planners for the company and battalion must include enough supplies for the company and the reconnaissance platoon. The battalion's SOP should clearly state that the reconnaissance platoon has priority for resupply.

      (2) Another method is to make the reconnaissance platoon responsible for his own supplies. Not only would the PSG coordinate for supplies, but he would also pick up, distribute, and return the LOGPAC. This limits the platoon since it must operate without the PSG for extended times. This is the easiest method of resupply for the battalion but the worst for the reconnaissance platoon.

      (3) Cache or pre-positioned supply points are used during R&S missions.

        (a) The criteria for selecting a cache point is important. When selecting a possible cache point, consider if the point can be located by simple instructions that are clear to someone who has never visited the site. A point may be ideal in every respect but if it has no distinct or permanent landmarks within a readily measurable distance, it should not be used. The point should have a primary and alternate route that avoids detection by anyone in the area. Also, consider the effects the weather will have on the cache point. For example, seasonal changes in the foliage may leave the point and routes exposed.

        (b) Caches can be concealed above or below ground. An above-ground point is easier to use, but it is more likely to be discovered by the enemy, civilians, or animals. There is always a security risk in using a cache point; therefore, it should be inspected for enemy signs and secured before use. The cache site may have been booby-trapped, or it may be under enemy observation.

        (c) During reconnaissance, cache points can be established along the intended route of advance or near the objective by advance elements. These elements can be dismounted, airmobile, or vehicle-mounted. Special forces, allied forces, or partisans can set up these points; however, this method is rarely used.

        (d) During security operations, the reconnaissance platoon can set up cache points throughout the area of operation. These points should be in each alternate or supplementary OP, in addition to other locations throughout the depth of the sector.

        (e) During patrols, cache points can be set up early or during the patrol itself To avoid carrying a heavy load during an operation, soldiers may drop items en route that are not needed at the objective, and then recover them on their return. Often, wounded personnel or transportation assets (boats, vehicles) are left in addition to supplies. Security must be maintained by using different routes, by ensuring items are camouflaged, or by leaving soldiers at the cache site to guard the supplies.

      (4) Aerial supplies can be delivered by Air Force aircraft or by Army helicopters. The container delivery system (CDS) is used by the Air Force. (For more information on CDS operations, refer to FM 55-60. For more information on the use of Army helicopters, refer to FM 57-38.) The reconnaissance platoon should have soldiers that are trained in the use of Air Force aircraft and Army helicopters. The airdrop of supplies poses less risk to the aircraft; but this can result in supplies being widely dispersed or lost, which increases the time needed for recovery and resupply. Airlanding supplies is the quickest and most accurate way to deliver. However, it poses an added risk to the helicopter and can attract enemy infantry or artillery to the resupply point. Unless conducting resupply in an area under friendly control and away from direct enemy observation, the platoon should conduct resupply away from the battalion and in an area that can be defended for a short time. The reconnaissance platoon identifies potential LZs within its area of operations. These LZs can be used for routine or emergency resupply, or for evacuation of personnel and equipment. Once the reconnaissance platoon recovers its resupply, it moves to another location to consume or distribute those supplies. Security is always required during resupply operations.

8-4. MAINTENANCE

Proper maintenance keeps all materiel in serviceable condition. This includes performing PMCS, inspecting, testing, servicing, repairing, requisitioning, recovering, and evacuating. Repair and recovery are accomplished as far forward as possible. When equipment cannot be repaired on the site, it is moved to the rear to a maintenance recovery point. Maintenance tasks are divided into unit (operator and organizational), DS and GS, and depot-level maintenance. The platoon leader, however, is mainly concerned with unit maintenance and repair of equipment in DS maintenance. Maintenance responsibilities are divided among the following positions.

    a. Platoon Leader. The platoon leader--

      (1) Ensures all platoon weapons and equipment(NVDs, mine detectors, communications equipment) are combat-ready or reported as non-mission capable to the commander.

      (2) Knows the present status of equipment to include document numbers and job order numbers. He informs the battalion staff when the status of critical equipment changes.

      (3) Develops and supervises a maintenance training program.

      (4) Ensures equipment and soldiers have the appropriate TMs, and that soldiers are trained and supervised to complete their maintenance level.

      (5) Ensures unit-level PMCS are performed on assigned equipment IAW the appropriate operator's TMs.

    b. Platoon Sergeant. The PSG--

      (1) Directs and supervises unit maintenance of platoon equipment.

      (2) Helps the platoon leader comply with his responsibilities and assumes them in his absence.

      (3) Coordinates with the designated maintenance element for operator-level repair and requests organizational level maintenance and DS level maintenance.

      (4) Supervises and accounts for platoon personnel during maintenance periods.

      (5) Ensures repair parts are used soon after receipt.

      (6) Collects and consolidates the platoon's maintenance status in the field and gives the appropriate reports to maintenance personnel.

      (7) Keeps the platoon leader informed of maintenance and logistics status.

    c. Squad Leader. The squad leader--

      (1) Constantly updates the PSG on maintenance and logistical status of squad equipment.

      (2) Ensures DA Form 2404 is completed and updated IAW DA Pamphlet 738-750. Ensures priority of maintenance effort is to mission-essential equipment.

      (3) Ensures soldiers are properly trained in PMCS procedures and PMCS are performed on equipment IAW the applicable TM.

8-5. RECOVERY AND DESTRUCTION

Recovery is required when equipment is damaged and cannot be quickly repaired on site. Damaged or inoperable equipment should be evacuated; when this is not possible, the equipment is destroyed.

    a. Evacuation. Most damaged equipment can be carried by the platoon until it can be picked up by battalion or by company support elements.

    b. Destruction. Instructions for destroying each item of equipment are found in the operator's TMs. The reconnaissance platoon leader requests permission from the commander before destroying any equipment. When communications fail, the platoon leader must use his judgment to decide whether equipment evacuation is possible.

8-6. MEDICAL SUPPORT

The reconnaissance platoon has a limited ability to evacuate casualties. Emphasis is on prevention since soldiers can become combat ineffective due to disease and nonbattle injuries. Evacuation of multiple casualties makes the platoon combat ineffective (two personnel are normally required to evacuate one serious casualty). By understanding and applying the principles of field hygiene, by preventing weather-related injuries, and by paying attention to environmental conditions, leaders are able to reduce casualties. (See FM 21-10 and FM 21-11.)

    a. Health and Hygiene. Any litter casualty within a squad severely degrades that squad's ability to perform its mission. Squad leaders must maintain high standards of health and hygiene by ensuring soldiers--

    • Shave daily so the protective masks will seal.

    • Bathe and change clothes regularly to prevent disease.

    • Treat cuts and scratches before they become infected.

    • Check hands and feet regularly to avoid trench foot, blisters, frostbite, or immersion foot.

    • Drink water and eat balanced meals.

    b. Casualties. The platoon leader must plan for casualty treatment, evacuation, and positioning of established casualty collection points in the area of operations. Coordination between the platoon leader, PSG, and supporting medical platoon must be accomplished before the mission. Soldiers and leaders must be trained in first-aid procedures. Training of combat lifesavers is essential to providing enhanced first-aid treatment for casualties due to the lack of MOS-qualified medical personnel.

      (1) Treatment of serious casualties entails stabilizing the soldier until evacuation is conducted. Selected squad members are trained as combat lifesavers to assist in treating and evacuating casualties. Squad members are part of the platoon's aid and litter team(s), and assist with first-aid treatment as a secondary mission. Their first priority is the combat mission. The PSG supervises this process.

      (2) Casualties are treated where they fall (or under nearby cover and concealment) by an aidman (if attached) or combat lifesaver. They are then collected at the platoon casualty collection point, which is identified by the platoon leader in the OPORD. Once casualties are collected, treated, and ranked by precedence (separated into urgent, priority, and routine cases), the evacuation begins. Casualties are evacuated from the platoon casualty collection point by any means available. HMMWV ambulances or helicopters are the primary transportation assets used for evacuation. Ambulances (ground and air) should pick up casualties as far forward as possible or as the tactical situation permits. Deceased soldiers are evacuated by backhaul on supply vehicles, not in ambulances or MEDEVAC helicopters. ( Figure 8-3 is an example of the format used when requesting air MEDEVAC.)

      (3) In rough terrain or on patrols, aid and litter teams can evacuate casualties to collection points, or they can carry casualties with the platoon until transportation arrives. Casualties with minor wounds can either walk or assist in carrying the seriously wounded.

      (4) The platoon SOP includes the following:

      • Duties and responsibilities of key personnel in planning and executing casualty evacuation.

      • Priorities of evacuation.

      • Provisions for retrieving and safeguarding weapons, ammunition, and equipment.

      (5) Paragraph 4 of the OPORD should provide the following:

      • Location of casualty collection points (battalion, company, platoon).

      • Procedures and responsibilities for MEDEVAC.

      • Planned use of nonmedical transportation assets for evacuation.

      • Procedures for treating and evacuating EPWs and civilian casualties.

      • Communication nets for evacuation requests.

Figure 8-3. Example of an aeromedical evacuation request.

8-7. PRISONERS OF WAR

Prisoners of war are good sources of combat information. EPWs are processed and quickly evacuated to the rear. When enemy soldiers surrender or are captured, the squad is responsible for taking them into custody and control until evacuation is completed.

    a. Enemy. The platoon leader directs squads to take EPWs to an intermediate collection point. The EPWs are then turned over to other personnel (company or 1SG with guards) who evacuate them to the battalion collection point. If no one is available, squads are directed to evacuate EPWs to a collection point. This method should be avoided since it detracts from the platoon's ability to accomplish its main purpose--reconnaissance. If an EPW is wounded and cannot be evacuated through medical channels, the platoon leader notifies battalion.

      (1) A surrendering enemy soldier should never be approached. He could have a weapon hidden nearby, or he could be booby-trapped. The enemy soldier is gestured forward until there is no doubt that he is surrendering, rather than trying to lure friendly soldiers into an ambush. A thermal sight may be used to locate possible ambushes. When searching an EPW, one soldier covers the EPW with a weapon, while another soldier searches him. Soldier must not wear a weapon when searching the EPW. The searching soldier must not get between the EPW and the soldier covering him.

      (2) The rights of EPWs have been established by international law, which the US has agreed to obey. Once an enemy soldier shows he wants to surrender, he should be treated humanely. It is a court-martial offense to physically or mentally harm, mistreat, or needlessly expose an EPW to fire.

      (3) The senior officer or NCO on the scene is legally responsible for the care of EPWs, ensuring EPWs are processed using the five "S" principles--search, segregate, silence, speed, and safeguard. If the reconnaissance platoon cannot evacuate an EPW within a short time, food, water, and medical treatment must be provided. The EPW is not offered nonessential comfort items such as coffee or cigarettes. This could affect the interrogation procedures.

      (4) Before evacuating the EPW, a tag ( Figure 8-4) is attached to him. Tags may be issued or made from materials available on the battlefield. (See STANAG 2044.)

      (5) Captured enemy documents and equipment are excellent sources of information. Documents include maps, orders, records, or photographs. If captured items are not properly handled, the information could be lost or delayed until it is useless. Documents and equipment are evacuated to the battalion collection point as rapidly as possible. Each item is tagged ( Figure 8-5). If the item was found on an EPW, his name is included on the tag, and the item is given to the guard. The guard delivers the item and the EPW to the battalion collection point.

    b. Civilians. Civilians who are captured as the result of curfew violations or suspicious actions are detained and treated the same as EPWs. The platoon evacuates them to the battalion collection point, using the five "S" principles.

    c. Enemy Prisoners of War. Evacuation of EPWs can be a time-consuming process. The platoon leader notifies battalion and requests guidance when mission accomplishment is hampered due to this process.

Figure 8-4. Example of a standardized EPW tag.

Figure 8-5. Example of a document and equipment tag.

8-8. SOLDIER'S LOAD

The soldier's load is a crucial concern of the reconnaissance platoon leader. How much is carried, how far, and in what configuration are important mission considerations. The platoon leader should require soldiers to carry only mission-essential equipment. The reconnaissance platoon cannot be overloaded with equipment that covers all possible contingencies. The battalion supply system must be able to deliver contingency supplies. (For more information on load planning, calculating, and management, see FM 21-18.) (Techniques used to assist leaders and soldiers in organizing tactical loads to ensure safety and combat effective are discussed in Appendix D.)



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