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FM 71-3
The Armored and Mechanized Infantry Brigade


Section I. Introduction
Section II. Armored Brigade and Light Infantry Battalion Operations
Section III. Light and Armored Operations
Section IV. Special Operations Forces


Across the spectrum of operations, there is an overlap in which both armored and light forces can operate. The use of a mixed force in this overlap takes advantage of the strengths of both forces and offsets their respective weaknesses. The integration of armored and light forces can take advantage of the enemy forces structure to attack its weaknesses and seize the initiative (see Figure C-1).

The Army recognizes three general types of combat forces - armored, light, and SOF.

  • Armored forces are armor and mechanized/motorized infantry units.
  • Light infantry forces have no organic carriers, including airborne and air assault infantry.
  • SOF support conventional military operations at all levels of war and influence deep, close, and rear operations. SOF are used optimally in deep operations at the strategic and operational level. SOF include Army Special Forces, Rangers, PSYOP, CA, and Army special operations aviation.

Armored and light operations occur when light forces are attached to an armored force. Light and armored operations occur when an armored force is OPCON to a light infantry force in close terrain occupied or controlled by the light infantry force.

This appendix outlines planning, preparing, and executing operations with the mix of armored and light infantry forces at the brigade level and above.


The potential to use both forces together to capitalize on each others strengths, offset their weaknesses, and attack the perceived weaknesses of any regional threat in war and conflict is unlimited. The interjection of light forces in an armored theater allows a flexible response to increasing tensions and a rapid response in the face of a sudden all-out attack.

Armored and light infantry forces are not routinely mixed but can be effective given the proper situation. The decision to cross-attach light infantry is based on corps-level war planning or on the initiation of a subordinate commanders request for light infantry augmentation. In all cases, the decision to use an armored and light force together is driven by the factors of METT-T.

One advantage of mixing armored and light infantry forces is that the maneuver commander has more flexibility in synchronizing his operation. Light infantry can infiltrate to attack key command and control nodes, for example, while mechanized infantry creates a penetration for an armored task force to exploit. The mechanized infantry can then follow and support the armored task force, while light infantry air assaults or parachutes to continue to seize key terrain or to cut off enemy forces.

The challenge of armored, light, and SOF operations is to understand the capabilities and limitations of each type of armored and light force structure. (For a detailed explanation of the different types and tables of organization and equipment of infantry units, see SH 7-176.) This appendix uses the Infantry Division (Light) Battalion TOE 07015L000 as an example to highlight discussion.

The brigade echelon of command is the most likely armored echelon to have a light unit attached.


The light infantry battalion is an austere combat unit whose primary strengths are its abilities to operate under conditions of limited visibility and in close combat. When attached, the light infantry battalion may come with a 105-mm howitzer battery from the infantry brigades direct support FA battalion. Employment considerations for the 105-mm battery are discussed in the FS operating system portion of this section.


The light infantry battalion is organized as depicted in Figure C-2.

Summary of Equipment

The primary weapon of the light infantry battalion is the M16. There are 65 M203 grenade launchers, 18 M60 machine guns, and 18 Dragons in the battalion. There are four TOWs, four 81-mm mortars, and six 60-mm mortars. The battalion has 27 HMMWVs and 15 motorcycles. There are no 2-1/2 ton or larger trucks in the battalion. There are 42 AN/PRC-77 radios, which are the primary means of communication within the battalion. There are no redundant radios.


It is important to understand exactly what resources a light battalion actually has, regardless of TOE. In most cases, a light battalion requires augmentation to fight in an environment of war. Table C-1 shows an example augmentation of a light battalion.

Table C-1. Example of light battalion augmentation.

Possible Augmentation

Provided By

One GSR section Armored brigade GSR slice, or light division MI battalion
One Stinger platoon (BSFV) Armored brigade CS slice
One initial fire support automation system (IFSAS) w/FSO
Three forward entry devices (FED)
One light engineer platoon Light division engineer battalion
One light truck company (-) Corps
One unit level maintenance team Light brigade
One maintenance team (DS) Light division
One mess team Light brigade
One smoke/decon platoon LO Corps, armored brigade/light battalion
One REMS team Light division MI battalion

LOs should be exchanged at the time of task organization. LOs must know their units capabilities and strengths and should be exchanged for both maneuver and logistics cells.


The missions given to a light infantry battalion in armored brigade and light infantry battalion operations must take into account the armored enemy's superiority in mobility and firepower. The light infantry battalion must offset its vulnerabilities with dispersion, cover and concealment, and use of close and hindering terrain to slow the enemy. Table C-2 shows possible light infantry tasks.

Table C-2. Example of possible light infantry tasks.

Armored Brigade Mission

Light Battalion Task

Movement to Contact Clear and secure restricted areas; follow and support
Hasty and Deliberate Attack Use air assault to fix enemy reconnaissance, infiltration air assault To seize objectives, breach obstacles; create a penetration
Exploitation Secure LOC; use air assault to seize terrain or attack enemy forces
Pursuit Clear bypassed forces; use air assault to block enemy escape
Follow and Support Secure key terrain and LOC; provide rear security
Cover Provide reconnaissance, deception, stay-behind operations
Defend in Sector Block dismounted avenues; counterreconnaissance; occupy strongpoint; ambush; provide rear area security; conduct military operations on urbanized terrain
Breakout from Encirclement Create penetration
Linkup Serve as follow-up echelon
Demonstration Conduct display operations
Retrograde Operations Rear security, route clearance, occupy positions in depth

Operational Planning Considerations

When employing armored or light infantry forces together, both forces' BOS must be integrated.


If information determined by the IPB process is imprecise, light infantry casualty rates are heavier due to the light battalion's relative lack of mobility and differences in weapons ranges between the light force and opposing armored units. Enemy locations must be pinpointed to eight-digit grid coordinates. Avenues of approach and mobility corridors must be evaluated for both armored and light forces. Armored enemy weaknesses must be well defined by the armored brigade S2 and provided to the light infantry unit in a timely manner.

The light infantry battalion is another source for conducting reconnaissance patrols, establishing LPs/OPs, and forming stay-behind teams. The brigade S2 and brigade S3 must consider and incorporate the light infantry battalion into the brigades R&S plan.

Given appropriate terrain, light infantry battalions can perform a screen mission and effectively defeat enemy reconnaissance (counterreconnaissance).


Light infantry is used in close or restrictive terrain to deny the enemy avenues of approach. Enemy mobility is reduced, and the advantage of long-range weapons is nullified.

To help protect the light infantry force, plan to move light infantry during conditions of limited visibility, such as in darkness, severe weather, or fog.

Linkup operations of light infantry with armored forces must be planned and executed in a timely manner. If the light infantry battalion is to attack in advance of the armored brigade, the armored brigade must relieve the pressure from an enemy armored attack. Light units left in contact with an enemy armored force in other than close terrain may be overrun or decimated by artillery if not reinforced with armored forces rapidly.

The brigade S3 must ensure required flank coordination between the light infantry battalion and adjacent armored units is conducted when planning defensive or offensive operations. Flank coordination must emphasize:

  • Deconflicting the effects of projectiles from direct-fire weapons on light infantry operating in the area.
  • Identifying minimum safe trigger lines for use.
  • Shifting of indirect fires.

Recognition signals must be clearly understood by both forces when conducting or completing operations where both forces link up or merge.

ACAs and SEADs must be planned early any time the light infantry battalion uses aviation for movement or attack support. These measures must be planned in and out of the objective/target area.

Fire Support

Since light forces are extremely vulnerable to indirect fire, the armored brigade works through its supporting headquarters to ensure designated counterbattery support is available. The brigade FSO should recommend critical friendly zones to the brigade S3 or light battalion commander. Critical friendly zones may be established in locations that the enemy may consider the employment of indirect fires such as at friendly breach sites, attack positions, support by fire positions, or choke points.

The lack of digital message devices (DMD) and variable format message entry devices forces the light battalion to send its calls for fire over a voice net. If the armored brigade cannot operate with both voice and digital traffic on the fire control nets, it must supply the light infantry battalion with DMDs.

The light infantry battalion's mortars must be integrated into the brigade's indirect fire plan. The improved 81-mm mortar has nearly the same range and lethality as an armored battalion's 4.2-inch mortar.

If the light infantry battalion brings a 105-mm FA battery with it, the brigade FSCOORD should recommend to the brigade commander what mission it should be given. A good procedure is to attach the battery to the brigades DS FA battalion for command and control and logistics, and to ensure it is fully synchronized into the brigades plan. Do not have just the 105-mm FA battalion support the light task force since it can provide the brigade additional firepower. With this FA battery comes the additional requirements of rearming and refueling it. The brigade must ensure the battery receives ammunition and rations like any other unit under its command. During planning, particular attention must be given to ensuring the 105-mm artillery battalion and 60/81-mm mortars are rearmed. The brigade S3 must ensure that the brigade S4 provides the division with the forecast for 105-mm artillery or 60/81-mm mortar ammunition immediately on attachment.

The FS products for the entire brigade must be the same. Having special target lists and overlays for the light task force does not fully synchronize them into the brigades plan. There should be one brigade target list, one brigade FS execution matrix (with the light task force included in the left margin) and one overall scheme of fires. The same holds true if the 105-mm battery is added to the brigades DS FA battalion. There should be no separate products provided to them. They must be given brigade targets to execute and be part of the brigade fire plan. They should be included in the brigades DS FA battalion FA support plan. This ensures they are synchronized, and also resupplied.

Air Defense

Light infantry's primary means of air defense are passive - do not fire first, move at night, and camouflage troop concentrations.

The positioning of the light infantry battalion and its Stinger teams can secure a friendly air corridor and also deny that same air avenue to enemy aviation. The brigade staff must integrate the light infantry's ADA assets into the brigade overall ADA plan.

Resupply of Stinger missiles may hamper continuous air defense coverage if not planned for method and place of delivery.

Stinger teams must either dig in or move immediately upon firing. Missile contrails point to firing positions.

Mobility and Survivability

Within the light battalion, engineer priority is usually survivability, countermobility, and then mobility.

The light engineer platoon has no vehicular haul capacity. When pushing Class IV to light infantry, plan to drop small loads at specific sites along the obstacle belt. Build obstacles in such a way that flanking fires can be used to stop the enemy and force him to dismount to clear the obstacle. Light infantry has limited AT assets and relies on destroying enemy vehicles within small-arms range.

When breaching, lanes must be thoroughly reconnoitered. Use limited visibility to conduct covert breaching efforts.

Combat Service Support

Light infantry unit CSS system works on the basis of push, not pull. The light brigade ordinarily uses throughput distribution to its battalions. It is based on planning and status reporting, rather than requisitioning. This is the major reason for the need to exchange logistical LOs within the light infantry battalion and brigade logistical CPs.

Class I for the light infantry unit is normally handled at brigade level. The light battalion should have a mess team from its parent brigade. The team consists of eleven enlisted personnel, one 5-ton truck, and one M149A1 water trailer. The M149A1 trailer is the only dedicated water-haul asset in the light battalion. Water resupply is an item of command interest and must be given priority for resupply during the brigade's planning process.

Class III resupply is handled by centralized top-off in the trains and the exchange of 5-gallon cans. The light battalion support platoon has two 500-gallon collapsible fuel blivets.

Class V differences lie mainly in mortar and 105-mm artillery ammunition. Light infantry uses both 60-mm and 81-mm mortars.

Light infantry relies on four HMMWV ambulances for MEDEVAC. The battalion should be augmented by M113s from the FSBs medical company. Ground and aerial AXPs must be planned to reduce casualty evacuation turnaround time.

Class IX for the light battalion focuses on replacement of assemblies at the brigade level. The light battalion has one assigned mechanic; the light brigade augments the battalion with a unit-level maintenance team and a DS maintenance team.

Transportation of the light battalion when not in contact and its supplies must be managed by the brigade S4 as requested by the light battalion or brigade S3. The light battalion support platoon allocates six HMMWVs to haul ammunition, one for POL, one for other classes of supply, one for the support platoon leader, and three for command vehicles for the rifle companies. Transportation assets provided to the light infantry battalion from the armored brigade should be placed in the BSA under control of the light battalion S4 NCOIC. The brigade staff must recognize the lack of organic transportation assets in the light battalion and that it may require augmentation to accomplish missions assigned.

Command and Control

Armored and light force commanders and staffs must understand the capabilities and limitations of each others units. Since this presents problems to both units, LOs should be exchanged and main CPs collocated if possible. Exchange of unit SOPs and SOI must occur immediately on attachment. In many tactical operations, the light battalion crosses the LD 24 to 48 hours prior to the armored force. This requires the armored brigade staff to develop a timeline that outlines the OPORD issuance time, resource drop-off times, rehearsal time, and other actions of the brigade centered around the infantry LD time. The brigade XO must ensure all staff sections understand and monitor the actions of the light infantry until the brigade mission is accomplished.

Orders at the brigade level must be simple, timely, and easy to execute. In the light infantry battalion, it is difficult to make changes in either plans or execution and then verify those changes up and down the chain of command. The brigade commanders scheme of maneuver must ensure the mission assigned to the infantry battalion can be accomplished based on its capability and the inability of the enemy to counter the operation.

Communications become a major factor in light and armor operations. Planning must offset the limited number and range of the light units communication capability. The light infantry battalions main CP has high-powered FM radios, at least one MSRT, and often single-channel TACSAT radios.

The low power radios of moving light forces must be considered by the brigade staff. FS nets are also a problem due to dismounted observers operating low power radios. Brigade CPs must carefully position to improve communications, encourage MSRT use, and maximize brigade retrans as well as any available airborne communications.

Digital systems, which mechanized forces rely on, may not exist in light units; if present, they may not have the same distribution. FS and intelligence as well as command and control automation should be compared in advance; analyze the impact and create manual work-arounds.


Movement to Contact/Hasty Attack

In a movement to contact, it is usually best for the light infantry battalion to follow behind the armored brigade. The light unit can be employed along the line of march as a rear OPSEC element. Depending on choke points or restrictive terrain along the route of advance, the light infantry battalion can be airlifted forward to secure these choke points to allow unimpeded mobility to the brigade. The light unit can also fix and destroy bypassed enemy pockets of resistance or perform any combination of these missions.

Deliberate Attack

A light infantry battalion has its greatest utility when the brigade is conducting a deliberate attack. The nature of the deliberate attack lends itself to the tempo of dismounted attacks and allows more planning time for infiltration and airmobile operations. Among the options available to the brigade commander are the following:

  • Conduct an infiltration attack on the enemy's indirect fire assets and command and control centers.
  • Conduct an airmobile attack to create a blocking position.
  • Conduct an airmobile attack to attack the enemy's uncommitted forces from an unexpected direction.

Light infantry deliberate attacks are best accomplished at night or during periods of limited visibility. Attacks during periods of limited visibility are characterized by:

  • Extensive use of thermal night sights, GPS and GSR to vector light infantry units toward an enemy position.
  • The use of indirect fire assets whenever possible to destroy or disrupt the enemy. All available FS assets should support the light units attack until priority shifts to the armored force upon its commitment.

Commanders must take great care in synchronizing all these operations. The attack by the light infantry battalion must coincide or complement the armored forces attack and subsequent linkup. A light infantry battalion has the potential to be a tremendously disruptive and powerful combat multiplier.

Exploitation and Pursuit

Light infantry's utility in exploitation and pursuit comes solely from its capability to conduct airmobile operations. The capability of the light infantry unit to be airlifted forward of the lead elements of the armored brigade to conduct blocking operations can mean the difference between destruction of a retreating (but organized) enemy force and a complete route of the enemy.


The armored brigade may give the light infantry battalion a sector, strongpoint, or BP to defend. METT-T dependent, it is usually best to give the infantry a sector. It is usually next best to assign it a strongpoint mission with augmentation by an armored unit to conduct counterattacks against enemy armor.

Defense in Sector

The objective of a defense in sector is to maneuver to place maximum combat power on the enemy. Because armored unit mobility is hampered when operating in restricted terrain, a light infantry battalion can be used to protect them from enemy infiltration. A light infantry battalion can also channel enemy forces into EAs for indirect fires, aviation, or armored force engagement.

In a sector defense, the light infantry battalion should fight no more than one enemy battalion at a time. The light battalion should have at least 48 hours to prepare the sector. The light battalion TOE does not include entrenching equipment beyond the individual entrenching tool. Experience shows that to achieve the 48-hour standard, the battalion needs two picks and shovels per squad and at least two small emplacement excavators or backhoes. It also needs chain saws to cut trees for overhead cover, if trees are available.

Defending a Strongpoint

To create a strongpoint, the light infantry battalion requires either a lot of time or a lot of engineer assets. The ideal solution is both. A commander should position his strongpoints to give the enemy only two choices: bypass the strongpoint in the direction the commander wishes him to go, or attack the strongpoint. The unit defending the strongpoint must be prepared to fight on a 360-degree front.

If time and resources permit, alternate or supplementary positions for all units should be dug to standard with connecting trenches between them. With trenches, even "crawling ones," the light infantry commander has some capability to reposition forces within the strongpoint. All AT assets should rehearse moving from one side of the strongpoint to the other to shoot the enemy if he attempts to bypass it.

Retrograde Operations

During retrograde operations, the role of light infantry is similar to that of a rear operations tactical combat force. It ensures that enemy, partisan, or airmobile assaults cannot close choke points along the brigades avenue of retrograde. As the enemy advances, the light unit seeks to ensure that the delaying armored forces route of movement remains clear.


Employing an armored brigade with a light division can be a combat power multiplier. Light division and armored brigade operations effectively use the infantry divisions ability to operate in restrictive terrain, such as urban areas, forests, and mountains. The light and armored force should be mutually supporting, based on the commanders concept of employment, to ensure assets of both forces are integrated and synchronized. This section discusses the

considerations in planning and executing tactical operations of a light division with an armored brigade under OPCON relationship.


Cross attachment of an armored brigade to an infantry division must be thoroughly considered. Corps planners must consider the capabilities and limitations of the combined force with respect to the:

  • Size and mission of the force.
  • Location of the deploying unit in relation to its parent unit.
  • Support capabilities of the deploying force.
  • Source of support for the deploying force.
  • Self-sustaining capability of the armored force.

Options for task organizing an armored brigade to support an infantry division are, in priority:

  • Separate armored brigade OPCON to an infantry division.
  • Armored divisional brigade OPCON to an infantry division.

The recommended command relationship for an armored brigade supporting a light division is OPCON. Under this relationship, the division is not burdened with the armored and mechanized brigades logistics support. The division staff must plan for the increased requirements for terrain, movements in the rear area, and for the increased logistics support structure.

When requesting the support of an armored brigade, the division should routinely expect to receive a brigade task-organized. The armored division provides additional assets to the armored brigade within its capability. Additional division assets are three heavy expanded mobile tactical trucks (2,500-gallon tankers), two MSEs nodes, and one MP platoon. This is the minimum essential organization required to support the infantry division. This is what the parent armored division should provide the armored brigade and still remain capable of conducting and supporting armored division operations. Normally, additional augmentation for the armored brigade comes from corps if the parent armored division is committed.


The purpose of employing light and armored forces together is to capitalize on the unique strengths of each type of force while minimizing its limitations. To accomplish this, both light division and armored brigade commanders must understand the capabilities and limitations of each force and synchronize all CS and CSS assets to accomplish the desired effects on the enemy.

Placing an armored brigade OPCON to an infantry division is a combat multiplier for the division only if three conditions are met. First, use of the armored brigade must support the division mission. Division commanders must ensure the TTPs used by their forces and the armored brigade are compatible. Artillery, engineer, air defense, intelligence, attack helicopters, signal, and divisional CSS assets must be properly coordinated with the armored brigade to support light and armored operations.

Second, the armored brigade must bring its own logistics support. The armored brigade should be under an OPCON relationship to the light division. This relieves the light division of supporting the brigade. The infantry divisions FSBs are not able to support the armored brigade with fuel, ammunition, and repairs.

Third, the light infantry commander must remember the differences in tempo between light and armored forces and use these differences to his advantage. Differences in mobility change the way the infantry division fights. The armored brigades mobility allows it to move quickly. It depends on mobility and firepower to survive. Integration of speed and mobility is vital when conducting operations as a combined light and armored force.


The employment of a mixed force must be based on sound METT-T analysis. By maximizing capabilities and minimizing limitations, commanders can effectively integrate armored and light forces. A discussion of capabilities for armored forces and considerations for minimizing limitations when OPCON to a light infantry division follows.

Armored Force Capabilities

Specifically, armored forces can operate as attack or counterattack forces and accomplish rapid movement in exploitations and pursuits. The armored force provides the infantry division the following capabilities:

  • Seize terrain and penetrate or envelop enemy defenses or strongpoints.
  • Conduct defensive operations by dispersing over great distances and by concentrating rapidly. They can also defend from strongpoints.
  • Rapidly exploit success in the offense or defense, including the effects of nuclear, chemical, and conventional fires.
  • Conduct delaying actions against larger enemy armored forces.
  • Conduct security missions.
  • Provide organic air defense against low-altitude hostile aircraft.

Considerations to Offset Armored Force Limitations

Armored forces depend mainly on radio communications. This makes them vulnerable to radio electronic combat. Because of this, the armored brigade commander must ensure all subordinate commanders understand the higher commanders intent, doctrine, drills, and control measures for an operation. This ensures execution of plans when radio communications are disrupted from jamming or inoperable systems.

Armored forces have a high consumption rate of supply items, especially Classes III, V, and IX. Anticipation of these supply needs, integration of supply assets into the BSA at optimum times, and extensive use of logistics packages can reduce this burden on the light division. The brigade LO must ensure logistical support issues are addressed by the light division during planning.

Armored forces are vulnerable to antiarmor weapons and mines. Proper integration of dismounted infantry, use of FS assets, terrain driving, and extensive reconnaissance to locate and target enemy antiarmor positions and minefields reduce this vulnerability. Armored brigade mobility considerations must be integrated into the R&S plan of the light infantry division. The brigade S2 and S3 must review the divisions R&S plan to ensure integration of assets support armored force maneuver.

Because of the limited number of dismounts available in armored units, these units have difficulty defending positions against enemy infantry. When armored forces are positioned to defend on mechanized avenues of approach, the brigade should request augmentation with light infantry to reduce this vulnerability.

The armored brigade brings extra capabilities to the infantry division - armored protection, mobility, and firepower. The light division can use these capabilities to exploit success or reinforce the defense. The integration and synchronization of these capabilities can overwhelm a numerically superior force. When the light division is planning, the brigade commander and staff must ensure that the armored brigade and subordinate units are employed to exploit their capabilities.


Assigning complementary missions to each force is the guiding principle for employing armored and light forces. The infantry division can expect to conduct tactical operations with armored units in all combat environments. The most common employment of armored forces by infantry divisions occurs when terrain and vegetation favor use of infantry, but an enemy may have small numbers of motorized, mechanized, or armored units.

Under proper circumstances, the infantry division receives one armored brigade from the corps. The brigade normally comes with additional task-organized maintenance, Class III, and Class IV.

The armored and light force can conduct a multitude of missions and tasks ( see FM 71-100). Examples of offensive and defensive missions and tasks are as follows:

  • Light and armored operations in the offense include light missions of movement to contact, attack, and raid that are supported by armored tasks such as reserve, overwatch, counterattack, attack by fire, covering force, and deception. When the infantry division is conducting an attack, the armored force can support it as a mobile reserve to conduct counterattacks.
  • Light and armored operations in the defense include light missions of defend, delay, and withdrawal. Armored tasks to support these missions include counterattack, reserve, covering force, overwatch, reinforce, and DLIC.


The effective employment of a force with both armored and light elements requires detailed planning. Mutual planning, development of orders, rehearsals, and coordination between respective commanders and staffs must take place. Critical areas in the planning process include the command and support relationship, composition of CS and CSS, and effective use of terrain. A common SOP or an understanding of each units SOP is essential to synchronizing all combat, CS, and CSS units. A discussion of specific planning considerations follows.


Detailed intelligence is critical to the success of light and armored force integration. Intelligence requirements for each force must be understood and integrated into the IPB process. The brigade S2 coordinates with the light division G2 to ensure the IPB products developed by the light division include an armored force orientation. Armored forces orient on unit concentrations, tank and AT locations, counterattack routes, armor obstacles, EAs, and artillery and air defense locations. Both forces PIR and DSTs must be combined, compared, and explained to both staffs in detail. The R&S plans of both units should be jointly developed and coordinated. The use of the armored brigades long-range observation and direct-fire systems must be integrated into the light divisions R&S plan.


When defending or attacking, elements of an armored or light force can fix the enemy while the armored force attacks. In either case, the armored brigade requires adequate terrain and space to maneuver. The brigade S3, XO, or commander must ensure the following considerations are observed by the light division G3 cell during planning:

  • Armored forces are best suited to operate in open and mixed terrain. Mobility and organic firepower make it easier for mechanized and armored forces to disperse and rapidly concentrate at the decisive point on the battlefield.
  • The difference in operational tempo between light and armored units must always be a consideration, including the scheduling of rehearsals. It may dictate an early rehearsal time to allow both forces to take part.
  • Both units' direct and indirect fires should mutually support each other. The armored brigade can use its long-range direct fires to provide suppression and overwatch fires for the light division. The light division should plan to use the armored forces long-range antiarmor fires. In light and armored operations, differences in equipment may dictate different techniques in marking TRPs.

Fire Support

The armored force must recognize that dismounted infantry operations focus on stealth, which could preclude preparation and other preliminary fires. Planners must integrate available FS for each force into the fire plan.

Division planners must be familiar with the organization, capabilities, and limitations of all forces involved. It is likely that the armored brigade's DS FA battalion will support the light division elements if they are sent out early. The decision by the light division to use the armored brigade's DS FA battalion occurs from initial IPB, intelligence gathered from higher collection assets, or a quick FS mission analysis. Normally this results in a preliminary division target list and scheme of fires, and a WO issued to the DS FA battalion until the formal field artillery support plan (FASP) can be developed. This allocation of FS assets may require moving a single 155-mm battery forward enough to reach on and beyond the objective of an element of the light division. Radar critical friendly zones should be planned in depth along the light force elements route, on all LZs, points of penetration, and attack positions to protect the light force as it moves to its objective. A 155-mm indirect fire system may be assigned to fire any targets generated by the radar zones.

During planning and preparation phases, a liaison team, normally the brigade FSO, facilitates the synchronization of FS. Restrictive fire control measures must be jointly developed and understood by everyone. Take special care when planning potentially lethal dud-producing munitions. Dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) and FASCAM restrict the light units ability to maneuver. When these munitions are planned, the brigade FSO must coordinate with the light division to ensure no future actions by the light division are hindered.

During the planning phase of an operation, it is important to have the DIVARTY commander make face-to-face coordination and rehearse the plan with the DS FA battalion commander. This ensures the shooters and executors understand what the other expects and better integrates the light forces fire plan. The brigade commander and staff must be knowledgeable of the light division FS plan to ensure FS is available to the armored brigade when maneuvering.

Air Defense

Commanders should direct their attention to ADA resupply requirements. Centralized planning is required to orchestrate ADA support for light and armored operations. The division can consolidate ADA units to provide denser coverage around critical targets. Armored forces provide the light division excellent coverage with their enhanced ADA capability and can carry the resupply of Stinger missiles for light Stinger units.

Mobility and Survivability

The division G3 and engineer must develop a common obstacle plan, and consider using light infantry to clear choke points and obstacles for the armored force. Division planners must also consider weapon disparities in range, their impact on prepared obstacles, and use of terrain during battle handoff to an armored force. The priorities of mobility and survivability may be different for each force. The light force must be prepared to take full advantage of armored force engineer assets. When light forces breach obstacles for armored forces, planners must ensure the breach is large enough for the widest vehicle in the operation. The armored brigades engineer battalion commander must plan to augment the light division to conduct survivability and countermobility operations.

Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical

The light division is more limited in its decontamination capabilities than the armored force. The mobility of the light division is affected by the need for soldiers to carry protective clothing in addition to their standard load. The use of armored unit vehicles may be planned to assist in transporting NBC equipment. An armored brigade has expedient devices and water-haul capabilities that can offset the light divisions shortfalls. The brigade staff must ensure this support task is understood early in the planning process. The brigade chemical officer must analyze this requirement and ensure the brigade remains capable of protecting its units.

Combat Service Support

CSS requires an understanding of the current, ongoing, and forecasted needs of both forces. Commanders must be able to cross-level CSS to support overall support requirements and be prepared to receive CSS augmentation from the corps support group. The division can coordinate use of transportation assets of the armored force to facilitate this cross leveling. The light division emphasizes replacing parts; the armored unit emphasizes repair. This requires continuous attention throughout the operation. The armored force performs maintenance continuously. The light commander must understand this requirement and provide an opportunity for such maintenance. The armored brigade may be required to provide light division elements with limited water, resupply, and casualty evacuation assistance.

Command and Control

The corps headquarters defines the authority and responsibility within the light and armored force by designating command relationships. The armored and light force must exchange LOs. The planning process is jointly conducted and the development of orders and overlays is coordinated. Confirmation briefs are required at brigade level of combat, CS, and CSS units to ensure timing, synchronization, and understanding of the commanders intent.

Standard operational terms and symbols must be used and codes, recognition signals, and SOIs exchanged. The directing headquarters may need to set up a retrans site to compensate for the shorter range of the light units communications equipment. The brigade staff must ensure communications nodes are established to provide continuous communications among all command and staff elements within the brigade and higher headquarters.



Brigades and battalions may operate near or with SOF. The command relationship is determined by the higher headquarters. SOF personnel normally provide a liaison team (a special operations command and control element) to coordinate with other units, usually at brigade level, and to control SOF within the AO. Most often, SOF personnel precede conventional forces into the AO.


SOF can:

  • Infiltrate and exfiltrate specified operational areas by air, land, or sea.
  • Operate in remote areas and nonpermissive environments for extended periods with little external direction and support.
  • Organize, equip, train, advise, and direct indigenous military and paramilitary units and personnel.
  • Train, advise, and assist US and allied forces.
  • Conduct R&S and target acquisition.
  • Conduct direct-action operations, including raids, ambushes, sniping, emplacement of mines and other munitions, and terminal guidance for precision-guided missions.
  • Conduct rescue and recovery operations.



  • Depend on the resources of the theater Army to support and sustain operations.
  • Cannot conduct conventional combined arms operations on a unilateral basis. Their capabilities are limited to advising or directing indigenous military forces conducting this type of operation.
  • Do not have organic combined arms capability. They habitually require support or attachment of other combat, CS, and CSS assets.
  • Cannot provide security for operational bases without severely degrading operational and support capabilities.


The following are pertinent considerations, by BOS, for the employment of SOF during the combat operations phase of CONOPS.


Special reconnaissance gives the CINC, joint task force, or Army force commander the ability to conduct HUMINT collection in denied areas at the operational and strategic level. For example, the special forces MI team can provide information on critical enemy command, control, and communications nodes.

CA assets can provide timely intelligence to the commander through interviews with refugees.


Special forces and Ranger units, under the command and control of SOF headquarters, can conduct direct-action missions against HVTs, such as critical enemy command, control, and communication nodes.

Audiovisual PSYOP teams can aid the tactical commanders deception plan.

SOF can improve host-nation military forces through training and advisory programs.

Fire Support

Special reconnaissance or direct-action teams can conduct terminal guidance operations for high-performance aircraft against HVTs using laser target designators or beacons.

Special reconnaissance or direct-action teams can provide nonattributable target acquisition and adjustment of deep fires in deep operations.

Special operation or direct-action teams can provide up-to-date target intelligence and confirmation needed to validate HVT matrices. It is important to integrate them into the R&S plan.

Special operations command and control element coordinates with fire control elements to prevent fratricide of SOF elements in the conventional units area of influence.

SOF can conduct training to improve host-nation FS assets.

Air Defense

SOF participate in JSEAD operations by reporting neutralized enemy ADA sites.

Combat Service Support

SOF assist in the identification of and coordination for host-nation assets.

CA elements assist in the implementation of population resource control measures.

SOF assist in refugee control measures.

Command and Control

SOF direct-action units remain under the control of an SOF headquarters and establish a liaison element with the conventional headquarters to provide time-sensitive information.

Direct-action units can be placed in GS or DS of a conventional unit. In that case, the SOF unit headquarters would be collocated with the conventional units headquarters. This allows the flow of timely information and facilitates planning for and integration of the SOF unit into the conventional units operations.

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