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FM 71-3
The Armored and Mechanized Infantry Brigade


Most brigade operations will commence or terminate in an assembly area. Consequently, the brigade can plan on conducting frequent tactical movement into and out of assembly areas on a routine basis.

Section I. Tactical Road March
Section II. Assembly Areas



The tactical road march is a unit move in a combat-ready posture normally conducted in the combat zone. Enemy contact is possible either during the march or soon after arrival at the unit's destin-ation. Units normally move by tactical road marches to assembly areas to prepare for combat operations. The S3 is responsible for planning tactical road marches.


The following paragraphs are definitions used in movement and tactical road marches.

Close Column
Vehicles are spaced approximately 25 meters apart.
Open Column
Vehicles are spaced 50 to 100 meters apart. Normally used during daylight, open column can be used at night with proper night-vision equipment.
Vehicles are dispatched individually, in small groups, or at irregular intervals at a rate that keeps the traffic density down and prevents undue massing of vehicles.
March Column
A march column consists of all elements using the same route for a single movement under control of a single commander. The column is normally brigade-size and is composed of three elements. The head is the first vehicle of t
A serial is a major subdivision of a march column and is normally battalion-size.
March Unit
A march unit is a major subdivision of a serial and is normally company-size.
Reconnaissance Party
The reconnaissance party conducts route reconnaissance of movement routes to determine travel times, bridge and underpass capacities, and trafficability. It identifies critical points, obstacles, and (if there is enough time) alternate routes.
Quartering Party (Advance Party)
The quartering party reconnoiters the new assembly area and guides march elements to and into the new area.



An assembly area is a position in which a force prepares or regroups for further action. Units in assembly areas execute maintenance, resupply, and personnel actions to maintain the combat power of the force. Task organization and reorganization of the force, the development and issuance of tactical orders and plans, coordination with other units or higher headquarters, reconnais-sance, training, and rehearsals may also be conducted. Units occupying assembly areas employ passive and/or active OPSEC measures to deny enemy intelligence any indicators of friendly plans and intentions, force composition, or unit identity and locations consistent with the higher commander's deception plan. Designation and occupation of an assembly area may be directed by a higher headquarters or by the unit commander such as during relief or withdrawal operations or during unit movements. Assembly area planning, occupation, and departure are difficult and time consuming. Performed correctly, they can aid in structuring the unit for timely execution of combat operations. Done incorrectly, they confuse and disorganize a unit before it ever makes contact with the enemy.


Assembly areas are typically outside the range of enemy medium artillery fires, generally no closer than 15 kilometers from the LC. Examples of assembly areas include locations occupied by units designated as reserves, by units after completing a rearward passage of lines, temporarily by units during movement, and by units during reconstitution. Brigades typically occupy assembly areas alone, although their parent divisions may be in the same general geographic area, as when the division is in the corps rear area as the corps reserve. Assembly areas ideally provide

  • Concealment from air and ground observation.
  • Cover from direct fire.
  • Terrain masking of electromagnetic signal signature.
  • Sufficient area for the dispersion of subunits and their vehicles consistent with the tactical situation, both enemy and friendly.
  • Buildings for unit trains, maintenance operations, and command and control facilities (TOC/TAC CP/rear CP).
  • Suitable entrances, exits, and internal routes. Optimally, at least one all-weather paved surface road transits the assembly area and connects to the MSR in use by the next higher headquarters.
  • Terrain that allows the observation of ground and air avenues of approach into the assembly area.
  • Good drainage and soil conditions that support unit vehicle movement.

Units in tactical assembly areas are typically preparing to move forward to execute a forward passage of lines followed by offensive operations or have been assigned a reserve mission by their higher commander.



Brigade assembly areas may be organized using one of two methods.

Method One

The brigade may assign sectors to subordinate maneuver battalions and require them to tie-in their fires with adjacent battalions. In this method the brigade command and control facilities, brigade HHC, and most CS assets are located near the center of the assembly area. This technique essentially configures the brigade in a perimeter defense, with maneuver battalions deployed along the entire perimeter and oriented outwards (see Figure D-1).

Method Two

The brigade may assign separate individual assembly areas to subordinate elements. In this method, subordinate units maintain their own 360-degree security. Areas between subunits should be secured through visual and electronic surveillance or patrols. Brigade command and control facilities, the HHC, and the bulk of CS assets occupy positions central to the outlying maneuver battalions. FAAD units may need to collocate with outlying maneuver units or establish separate firing positions around the brigade to provide adequate air defense. This is the most typical organization for the brigade assembly areas (see Figure D-2).

When the brigade is in the corps rear or division rear and is not designated as a reserve, field trains of the brigade's subordinate battalions are collocated with their parent unit and the BSA is not established. In that case, the FSB moves and establishes a separate assembly area like other battalions of the brigade.

When the brigade moves forward of the division rear or is in the division rear as a reserve, the BSA is formed by combining the battalion field trains with the FSB. In either case, the FSB/BSA is positioned to the rear of the supported battalions. This positioning prevents the extensive traffic in and out of the FSB/BSA from interfering with battalion assembly area activities. It also allows the battalions to move forward and deploy without having to maneuver through or around the BSA/FSB. The location of the FSB/BSA in relation to supported battalions depends on the rear area threat, mission of the brigade, proximity to division/corps MSR, and the ability of the BSA/FSB to support the battalions, given the distance between them. Other information concerning the positioning of the BSA/FSB is in Chapter 8.


A quartering party is a group of unit representatives dispatched to a probable new site of operations in advance of the main body to secure, reconnoiter, and organize an area prior to the main body's arrival and occupation. Unit SOPs establish the exact composition of the quartering party and its transportation, security, communications equipment, and specific duties. Quartering parties typically reconnoiter and confirm the route and tentative locations for their parent elements selected from map reconnaissance. Quartering parties also usually act as a liaison between their parent headquarters and the quartering party of their higher headquarters to change unit locations within the assembly area based on the results of their reconnaissance.

In organizing for the movement to and occupation of a tactical assembly area, the brigade headquarters does not employ a quartering party that includes subunit representatives. The brigade HHC and TOC organize and dispatch a single quartering party to confirm the tentative locations for the HHC support elements and the new brigade TOC location. If the brigade moves to the assembly area at a later time, the brigade HHC/TOC quartering party returns to the brigade's current location after completion of a reconnaissance of the area. In this case, the quartering party may not act in a liaison capacity, and subunit requests for changes to the assembly area plan are resolved after returning to the brigade's present position.


Units position themselves in assembly areas IAW their parent unit's plan. Units are typically guided into position by their quartering parties. Occupation is accomplished smoothly from the march without halting or bunching of units at the RP.

Units normally establish routes and separate SPs/RPs for march elements that proceed from the march column's route or RP toward the march units' assembly area positions. This technique clears the route quickly, maintains march unit command and control, and prevents bunching of units at the march column RP. March units may follow a similar procedure.


All actions in the assembly area are focused on preparing the unit for future operations. Actions most commonly associated with assembly area activities include resupply, personnel replacement, maintenance, reorganization, rest, and planning future operations.

The brigade commander prioritizes the actions to be taken by subordinate units in the assembly area and allocates resources to accomplish these tasks. Resources are prioritized by the commander. Priorities are assigned based on his estimate of the situation, which is summed up in the factors of METT-T. Since occupation of the assembly area is done in preparation for future combat, the commander's METT-T analysis considers not only the current and projected status of the unit but also anticipated combat missions the brigade may execute.

The brigade commander and staff execute staff planning and TLPs to prepare the brigade for its next mission and to produce and disseminate a feasible, coherent tactical plan that accomplishes the brigade's mission within the framework of the higher commander's intent. Communications and liaison with higher, lower, and adjacent units are maintained. Additional planning and coordination for contingency plans may be conducted. Brigade CP elements are afforded time and resources to prepare for the next mission.

Forward to Appendix E.
Return to Appendix C.
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