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FM 71-3
The Armored and Mechanized Infantry Brigade


Section I. Mission, Capabilities, and Limitations
Section II. Organizations and Functions
Section III. Army Operations
Section IV. Brigade Battlefield Focus
Section V. The Threat Environment

Armored and mechanized brigades are organized to fight successful engagements in conventional and various operations other than war (OOTW) activities. They are subordinate commands of a division and corps and perform major tactical operations as part of a division or corps operation. Regardless of the threat environment, the key to victory is to impose our will on the enemy by forcing him to conform to the brigade's desired end state. This requires the brigade commander and staff to identify the decisive point(s) and synchronize the efforts of subordinate maneuver battalions, combat support (CS), combat service support (CSS), and available higher headquarters' combat power in support of the brigade effort.



The primary mission of the brigade is to deploy on short notice and destroy, capture, or repel enemy forces, using maneuver and shock effect. Brigades also conduct various OOTW activities, independently or as part of a joint or multinational headquarters in peacetime and conflict environments.


The brigade has special capabilities and limitations. Table 1-1 shows the capabilities and limitations of the brigade.

Brigade Capabilities

Brigade Limitations

Conducts sustained combat operations with
proper augmentation.
Mobility and firepower are limited by --
  • Urban areas.
  • Dense jungles and forces.
  • Very steep and rugged terrain.
  • Significant water obstacles.
Accomplishes rapid movement and deep penetrations. Strategic mobility is limited by heavy equipment.
Exploits success and pursues a defeated enemy
as part of a larger formation.
Consumption of classes III, V, and IX supplies is extremely high.
Conducts security operations for a larger force.
Conducts defensive, retrograde, and other operations.
Conducts offensive operations.
Conducts operations with light and special operations forces.
Conducts OOTW.
Deploys rapidly onto pre-positioned equipment.

Table 1-1. Brigade capabilities and limitations.



Brigades are organized as follows:

  • As a combination of armored and mechanized infantry battalions.
  • Often times composed with an aviation battalion or task force.
  • Occasionally composed of a light infantry battalion, and other supporting units grouped under the command of a brigade headquarters.
  • CS and CSS units are task organized to the brigade as necessary.
  • Brigades normally operate as part of a division or corps.

The functions of brigades are to:

  • Perform tactical tasks under the command of a division, corps, or a joint task force headquarters.
  • Participate in division or corps operations according to the principles and concepts in FM 71-100 and FM 100-15.
  • Task organize as directed.

The only permanent unit assigned to a brigade is its headquarters and headquarters company (HHC) (see Figure 1-1). For an example of a divisional brigade task organized, see Figure 1-2.


Separate brigades normally conduct operations under corps command, and are organized to provide their own support. The enhanced brigades of the Army National Guard are separate brigades. Their only enhancement is in an authorized over structure in personnel. These brigades have a formal training association with corps and divisions to further enhance their training readiness. Units organic to the separate brigade include:

  • A brigade HHC to provide command and control.
  • Limited CS assets to include military police (MP), chemical, and air defense elements.
  • Armored and mechanized infantry battalions.
  • An armored cavalry troop.
  • An engineer battalion.
  • A military intelligence (MI) company.
  • A support battalion of several support units with the added ability to link directly with corps support command for augmentation.
  • A FA battalion to provide fire support (FS).

Additional combat, CS, and CSS units may be attached to a separate brigade as required by the brigade's mission and operating circumstances. The separate brigade may be attached to a division (less support), but is usually controlled by a corps (see Figure 1-3 and Figure 1-4).


Army operations doctrine describes our approach to generating and applying combat power at the operational and tactical levels. It is based on securing or retaining the initiative and exercising it aggressively to accomplish the mission. Brigade commanders and staffs must understand the brigade's mission in relationship to the operational plan (OPLAN) as they fight engagements and participate in battles as part of the tactical battlefield. It consists of the brigade's area of operations (AO), battle space, and organization of the battlefield (deep, close, and rear). Deep and rear operations are essential to winning close operations. The brigade commander develops his intent and accepts risks to achieve decisive results. He secures the initiative and conducts operations to impose his will on the enemy. The commander maneuvers the brigade to position strength against weakness, throw the enemy off balance, and synchronize combat power to complete the enemy's defeat or destruction.

The brigade commander must understand the intent of the division commander and the corps commander to properly employ his forces. Additionally, the brigade commanders intent must be understood by his subordinates two levels down. Brigade tactics emphasize the use of fire and maneuver to destroy, delay, or disrupt enemy forces. Commanders and staffs must integrate and synchronize a variety of functions to generate overwhelming combat power at the decisive point(s). While this is critical during war, it is equally important in all environments.

The brigade commander sets the conditions for success. He then uses all of his precision organic and supporting systems at maximum capability to meet these conditions. Maneuver, then, is employed to decisively defeat the enemy with minimum risk to his soldiers.


The tenets of Army operations apply throughout the full range of military operations. Success on the battlefield, or during OOTW, depends on the brigade's ability to fight in accordance with (IAW) the five basic tenets of Army operations:

  • Initiative.
  • Depth.
  • Agility.
  • Synchronization.
  • Versatility.


Initiative is the ability to set or change the terms of battle by action. The armored force is the only force with the mobility, lethality, shock effect, survivability, agility, and staying power in all weather conditions and climates capable of seizing and exploiting the initiative. Initiative implies an offensive spirit when conducting an operation. To do this, the brigade commander trains subordinates to take risks and to be bold, innovative, and aggressive. By understanding the intent of the next two higher commanders, the brigade commander may confidently operate with mission-type orders and exploit success. The brigade commander sets the terms of battle by

  • Conducting an estimate of the situation to quickly gather the essentials of the tactical situation.
  • Implementing a decision-making process that rapidly provides clear, concise orders to subordinate battalion commanders and staffs.
  • Incorporating intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) to support the decision-making process and the construction of the decision support template (DST). IPB helps refine the priority information requirements (PIR).
  • Designing tactical plans that provide a reserve force poised to strike the enemy in depth, conduct counterattacks, and occupy flank or positions in depth.
  • Conducting quick decision making from existing combat orders and issuing fragmentary orders (FRAGO) based on common operational procedures and control measures to adjust to changing situations and to exploit opportunities.

In the future, automated command and control systems will provide commanders with the ability to see their forces in relation to the enemy. This information, and a clear understanding of the higher commander's intent, will allow commanders to rapidly identify and exploit tactical opportunities.


Depth is the extension of operations in time, space, and resources. Brigade commanders and staffs must forecast and anticipate events so the enemy is attacked simultaneously throughout the entire depth of the battlefield. The brigade commander uses depth by:

  • Synchronizing combat and CS assets to isolate enemy formations and to deny the enemy commander an opportunity to generate combat power.
  • Developing comprehensive plans for the security of the brigade rear area against Level I, II, and III threats.
  • Employing formations that enhance depth, security, and agility.
  • Aggressively employing internal reconnaissance and security assets.
  • Attacking the enemy beyond the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) with indirect fires, close air support (CAS), electronic warfare (EW), and attack helicopters.
  • Developing a logistics plan to support brigade operations.

Automated command and control systems and CS assets enhance the maneuver brigade's ability to attack enemy forces with precision and in depth. The all-source analysis system (ASAS) provides maneuver commanders with accurate information on the enemy that can be used to plan maneuver and fires. CS systems like the M109A6 Paladin and enhanced mortars provide the commander with the ability to synchronize and maintain sustained accurate fires for deep and close targets simultaneously.


Agility is the ability of friendly forces to react faster than the enemy and is a prerequisite for seizing and holding the initiative. Agility requires flexible organizations and quick-minded, flexible leaders who can act faster than the enemy to retain the initiative. At brigade level this means:

  • Defining responsibilities among the tactical command post (TAC CP), the main CP, and the rear CP to streamline command and control procedures that reduce decision-making time.
  • Positioning the TAC CP and the command group forward to see and control the battle.
  • Using IPB to predict probable enemy intentions and to operate within the enemy decision cycle.
  • Using well-defined standing operating procedures (SOP) to provide accurate reporting and rapid reaction on the battlefield. This includes adjusting CS and CSS assets when the maneuver plan or task organization changes.
  • Training the brigade staff and assigned battalions to respond quickly to changing situations with minimum guidance, while remaining consistent with the commander's intent.

Automated command and control systems and FS and surveillance systems provide commanders the ability to quickly access information on friendly combat and logistical capability and the capabilities of the enemy in near real time. This capability allows commanders to control the tempo of military operations in a manner that allows his forces to exploit the situation.


Synchronization is arranging activities in time and space to mass the effects of combat power at the decisive time and place. The product of effective synchronization is maximum use of every resource to make the greatest contribution to success. Brigades synchronize their operations by:

  • Ensuring that IEW operations are linked to the commanders requirements and respond in time to influence decisions and operations.
  • Designating and resourcing the brigade main effort.
  • Coordinating and integrating CS and CSS assets.
  • Using the logistics estimate to ensure adequate resources are available and allocated.
  • Rapidly massing combat power effects at the decisive point to achieve local surprise, mass, and shock effect without lengthy explanations or orders.
  • Planning in advance to exploit the opportunities created by tactical success.
  • Allowing decentralized execution of operations.
  • Using synchronization tools.
  • Conducting rehearsals.


Versatility is the ability of a brigade to shift focus, to tailor forces, and to move rapidly and efficiently from one mission to another. Versatility implies a capacity to be multifunctional, to operate through the full range of military operations. At the brigade level, versatility requires:

  • Understanding the commander's intent two levels up.
  • Anticipating major changes based on the tactical and political situation.
  • Providing clearly defined objectives and guidance to subordinates.
  • Conducting detailed planning in depth.
  • Improvising as needed.
  • Applying the military decision-making process and principles.


Maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership comprise the dynamics of combat power. Combat power is the effect created by combining the four dynamics in combat action against an enemy. Commanders generate combat power by anticipating future operations and, once committed, applying the dynamics of combat power. Information about enemy and friendly forces capabilities is key to generating and sustaining combat power.


Maneuver is the employment of forces on the battlefield through movement, supported by fire or fire potential, to achieve a position of advantage in respect to the enemy in order to accomplish the mission. It is the means of concentrating forces at decisive points to achieve surprise, psychological shock, physical momentum, and dominance. Maneuver and firepower are complementary dynamics of combat power. Although one might dominate a phase of the battle, the synchronized effects of both characterize all operations.


Firepower provides the destructive force essential to destroying the enemy's ability and will to fight. Firepower includes the focusing and resourcing of direct and indirect fires (lethal and nonlethal), and other combat multipliers with maneuver to destroy the enemy.


Protection conserves the fighting potential of a force so commanders can apply it at the decisive time and place. It has four components:

  • The first component counters the enemy's firepower and maneuver by making soldiers, systems, and units difficult to locate, strike, and destroy. This is accomplished by implementing passive and active measures such as camouflaging, fortifying fighting positions, conducting security and reconnaissance activities, and enforcing strict operations security (OPSEC) standards.
  • The second component includes conducting and maintaining all CSS activities to keep soldiers healthy and to maintain their fighting morale.
  • The third component is safety. Commanders enforce safety procedures in training, planning, and conducting operations to preserve combat power.
  • The fourth component is the prevention of fratricide. Com-manders seek to lower the probability of fratricide while not overly constricting boldness and audacity in combat by planning, rehearsing, and controlling direct and indirect fires.


The most essential dynamic of combat power is competent and confident leadership. Leaders determine the degree to which maneuver, firepower, and protection are maximized, effectively balanced, and brought against the enemy. Commanders at all levels develop tactical and technical leaders by stressing regular study of military doctrine, theory, and history and by providing a training environment that allows for practical experience.


Inherent in Army operations is the simultaneous attack of enemy forces. The brigade's primary focus is to defeat the enemy while protecting its CS, CSS, and command and control facilities. The brigade must be poised to exploit every opportunity to disrupt the enemy's timetable by combining the effects of fires, barriers, and maneuver throughout the depth of the battlefield. Simultaneous operations open opportunities for decisive action by reducing the enemy's ability to generate combat power and creating periods of friendly superiority to gain or retain the initiative. Simultaneous operations are based on the characteristics of effective intelligence. Intelligence must be timely, relevant, accurate, and predictive. Intelligence will support the brigade through the intelligence battlefield operating system (BOS).

A brigade may conduct deep operations with fixed-wing air, artillery interdiction, and Army combat aviation. The commander and staff identify high-payoff targets (HPT) and synchronize organic and supporting higher headquarters' attack assets to destroy them. Offensive EW systems must be designated with FS assets to affect deep targets. Deception can also be used to delay and disrupt enemy forces. The use of information generated from the division ASAS enhances the brigade's ability to plan and synchronize operations.

Each echelon of command creates the time and space necessary for its major subordinate echelons to defeat enemy forces in contact before engaging those not in contact. This is done by attacking enemy forces or functions to delay, disrupt, and destroy them before they can affect operations of subordinates. The subordinate commander may request the superior commander to take specific measures against deeper enemy forces, normally in the subordinate's battle space that may impede accomplishment of his mission. The subordinate commander should specify what effect he wants done to the enemy: delay for a specific time, canalize along a specific avenue of approach, or defeat in a specific area.

Brigades normally fight as part of a division. Separate brigades are organized for and normally conduct sustained operations under corps control. In either case, brigades most often fight as part of a larger force. Divisional brigades are tactical headquarters that control mission-tailored battalion task forces. When operating with a division in war, brigades normally direct engagements against enemy battalions and regiments beyond the forward line of own troops (FLOT) by controlling task forces and attack helicopter units, by establishing priorities of supporting artillery fires, and by coordinating CAS operations (joint and combined). Brigades direct and coordinate the actions of subordinate task organized units. Brigade commanders select the ground for the battle and the form of maneuver to accomplish the mission. The brigade influences an engagement mainly through synchronizing reconnaissance and security efforts, task organizing maneuver battalions, assigning subordinate missions and tasks, applying combat multipliers, assigning and shifting priorities of CS and CSS assets, and constituting and committing a reserve. The brigade fights the battle through integration of the combined arms team. The end result of effective synchronization appears to the enemy as one continuous fight.


The brigade no longer faces a single, monolithic, well-defined threat. During the Cold War, planning was centered on confronting numerically superior heavy opposing forces (OPFOR) in Europe, the Far East, or Southwest Asia. Now the brigade must focus on conducting contingency operations (CONOP) as part of a force projection operation. These brigades must be able to conduct these operations across the range of military operations (peace, conflict, and war) against threats ranging in size from major regional powers, lesser powers, and terrorist groups to insurgents.

Emerging regional threats are more diverse and less predictable than former Cold War adversaries, but are just as deadly. These threats reflect the more traditional threat concept such as armor, infantry, and artillery formations maneuvering on a battlefield with CAS and the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction. However, the brigade may also be called upon to conduct operations in the midst of a nontraditional threat.

The brigade may face a nontraditional threat while conducting OOTW. Though a brigade may not be initially deployed to conduct some of these operations, it could conduct them as part of the post-conflict phase of some other CONOP.

With the diversity of the threat, the IPB process becomes even more important at the brigade level. No longer will the threat always fit into a neat time-distance (TDIS) scenario. Potential adversaries may use a wide variety of doctrine, tactics, and equipment. The staff supports the commander by conducting IPB throughout the entire operation.

Forward to Chapter 2.
Return to the Chapter 1.
Return to the Table of Contents.

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