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FM 71-3
The Armored and Mechanized Infantry Brigade


Army operations reflect the changing nature of war. Brigades must be versatile organizations capable of deploying anywhere in the world on short notice. Brigades operate within joint, multinational and/or multiagency operations and must synchronize all available systems.

Fighting and winning battles and engagements remain the brigades primary purpose. Commanders mass the effects of combat power, when and where necessary, to accomplish missions. New technology gives commanders the capability to attack the enemy simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield.

This chapter discusses the fundamentals of brigade operations under three main topics:

  • It addresses brigade doctrine for force projection operations.
  • It depicts a framework for tactical battlefields.
  • It discusses the BOS as fundamental to brigade operations.

Section I. Force Projection
Section II. Tactical Battlefield Framework
Section III. Battlefield Operating Systems



Force projection is the demonstrated ability to rapidly alert, mobilize, deploy and operate anywhere in the world throughout the spectrum of Army operations. Force projection operations extend from mobilization to deployment and subsequently to redeployment.


Force projection usually begins as a rapid response to a crisis although it may involve a deliberate, slower buildup and deployment. During peacetime, the brigade includes deployment as part of its training.

Brigades generally execute force projection operations in six stages. The ensuing discussion provides a general overview of each stage and addresses key implications for the brigade. An example N-Hour sequence is at Appendix G.

Predeployment Activities

Predeployment activities include planning, task organizing and echeloning the brigade, as well as preparing personnel and equipment for deployment. When alerted, the brigade may have to modify existing OPLANs. These modifications may include readjusting task organizations for initial entry and follow-on forces into the AO, sequencing of forces, and refining sustainment requirements.

The key to the brigades deployment is task organizing, echeloning, and tailoring forces. Task organizing is the process of forming combined arms task forces with limited self sustainment capability for rapid deployment. Echeloning is organizing and prioritizing units for movement. Echelons are often divided into elements such as advanced parties, initial combat forces, follow-on forces and closure forces. Each echelon has a designated commander. Task organizing and echeloning occur during initial planning. Force tailoring is the adding or subtracting from planned task organizations and occurs after a thorough mission, enemy, terrain, troops and time available (METT-T) analysis by the commander and his staff.

Following receipt of a mission, the brigade prepares its personnel and equipment for deployment through preparation for overseas movement activities. These activities ensure that deploying units meet all requirements to deploy into another theater of operations.


The proper arrival sequence of forces into an AO contributes to the stabilization of the situation and maintains a viable force protection capability. The time-phased force deployment data programs the arrival of equipment. Units arrive in a theater, by air or sea, and then move rapidly through marshaling areas, staging areas, and tactical assembly areas before executing operations.

Entry Operations

The brigade arrives in theater either as an entry force or a follow-on force. Entry forces are tailored to carry out initial combat operations to secure the lodgment. Follow-on forces expand lodgments and build up combat power to conduct combat operations. The brigade may conduct either an opposed or unopposed entry.

During an opposed entry, the brigade conducts a forcible entry into an area that may contain hostile forces. In this situation initial entry forces are primarily combat forces.

During an unopposed entry, the brigade may serve as a deterrent, act as an advance party for a larger force, or participate in noncombat operations. The brigade may also conduct an unopposed entry under hostile conditions. The brigade deploys into an area where combat operations are ongoing or imminent but the points of debarkation (POD) are secure. In either opposed or unopposed entry operations, consider security of the force when tailoring the initial entry units.


Operations are the missions executed by the brigade that contribute to overall mission accomplishment. The brigade may conduct both combat and noncombat operations. During combat operations the brigade conducts offensive, defensive, and other operations discussed in later chapters. Another section in this chapter discusses noncombat operations as part of OOTW.

War Termination and Postconflict Operations

War termination and postconflict operations are activities taken to restore conditions in the AO that are favorable to US national policy. During this period, the brigade focuses on force security and preparing for redeployment.

Planning and versatility are two vital components of successful post-conflict operations. Commanders and their staffs begin planning postconflict operations before cessation of combat operations. This planning includes: adjusting the rules of engagement (ROE), force protection measures, host-nation considerations and the transfer of responsibilities to units assuming control of the brigades AO.

Postconflict activities include a variety of tasks from enemy prisoner of war (EPW) control to civil affairs (CA) of the host nation. The brigade also begins retraining its units on critical tasks and preparing for follow-on missions. Transferring responsibilities (for the brigade) is normally conducted as a relief in place.

Redeployment and Reconstitution

Redeployment is situation dependent and requires task organizing and echeloning similar to deployment. Some units and personnel will depart early, such as advance parties, nonessential personnel, and equipment. During this phase units continue to train on individual and mission essential task list (METL) tasks.

The objective of reconstitution is to prepare for follow-on missions rapidly. These activities include rebuilding unit integrity and accounting for soldiers and equipment. These activities continue after arrival in continental United States (CONUS) or home theater. The focus is on reconstitution of units to predeployment levels of readiness.


The battlefield framework helps the commander visualize how to best employ his forces. It relates friendly forces to one another and the enemy in terms of time, space, resources, and purpose. At the tactical level, the battlefield framework consists of three interrelated concepts: AO, battle space, and an organization of the tactical battlefield.

The next higher headquarters normally assigns the brigade commander an AO. He then visualizes the battle space where he will employ his combat power to dominate the enemy. In visualizing his battle space, the commander considers key and decisive terrain, direct and indirect fires, and probable enemy courses of action (COA). The commander thinks in depth and visualizes how to engage the enemy simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield.


An AO is designated by higher head-quarters and is depicted by graphic control measures. At a minimum, the AO should be large enough for the commander to employ all of his organic, assigned, and supporting assets. The brigade commander establishes control measures within his AO to assign responsibility, coordinate fires and maneuver, and to control other activities. Both war and OOTW use the concept of AO.


A commanders capability to acquire and, more importantly, dominate the enemy determines a physical volume called battle space. It includes the brigade commanders vision of how he will employ his assets and actions to dominate the enemy. Battle space can change as the commanders vision of the battlefield changes. It also changes according to how the commander positions his assets. All friendly combat power that the commander can bring to bear on the enemy is included in his vision of battle space. Agility, lethality, and speed of both friendly and enemy combat systems influence battle space.


Commanders must consider all aspects of the three-dimensional battlefield and use standard control measures to organize their AO. Battlefields may be linear, asymmetrical, or noncontiguous and generally include deep, close, and rear components. Deep, close, and rear are not separate fights; each is part of the entire tactical battle.

Deep Operations

The best way to defeat the enemy is by fighting him simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield. Deep operations are normally those operations conducted against enemy forces not in the close fight. Deep operations prevent the enemy from using his forces when and where he wants on the battlefield. These operations are not necessarily a function of depth, but a function of what forces are being attacked and the intent of the operation. Deep operations are conducted in both the offense and defense.

Simultaneous deep and close engagements prevent the enemy from concentrating his strength. The perceived or actual threat of a force against an enemy's weakness may be sufficient to divert the enemy and force him to protect that vulnerability. Simultaneous attacks force the enemy to fight in one direction and protect himself in another. This results in the enemy committing his forces where he did not intend and disrupts his overall plan.

The commander and staff must have a clear understanding of the purpose and objectives of deep operations. They must recognize the benefits of deep operations versus operations against committed forces on the FLOT.

Close Operations

Close operations consider and include reconnaissance and security, a main effort and a reserve. Battalions in immediate contact are fighting the close battle.

The brigade commander decides when and where the close battle will occur. Concentrating the effects of his combat power in support of ground forces becomes the brigade commanders focus in close operations.

Reconnaissance and Security

Reconnaissance and security are critical to the brigades success. In general, reconnaissance and security are two missions. At brigade both are closely related. Reconnaissance actions yield information on the disposition and intentions of enemy forces and direct friendly units into the fight. Security protects and conserves the combat power of the brigade.

Main Effort

The main effort is assigned to only one unit at a time. Designating a main effort provides the focus that each subordinate needs to link his actions to the actions of those around him. The commander and staff must be flexible enough to shift the main effort as needed.


Reserves give a commander options and flexibility. Reserves exploit success and expedite victory. They are used to weight the main effort to maintain momentum, provide security, and defeat enemy counterattacks. Missions for the reserve are planned and are not solely in response to unforeseen enemy actions.

Rear Operations

The objective of rear operations is to ensure freedom of maneuver and continuous operations. Rear operations are generally concerned with maintaining lines of communication (LOC) and support during an engagement. This includes securing main supply routes (MSR) against level I and II threats. Additionally, rear operations maintain the rate of supply necessary to sustain the current operation.



BOS intelligence to the commander drives the brigades intelligence effort. His role does not begin with the current crisis or operation, but well before and is continuous throughout the operation. The commander focuses the intelligence effort and ensures it is responsive to his information requirements (IR) and those of his subordinates. He focuses the effort by stating his priority intelligence requirements (PIR) and targeting priorities. In his PIR and IR, he includes his requirements for intelligence support to force protection and battle damage assessment (BDA). Through his S2, the commander ensures the intelligence BOS, both his own and that of higher echelons is responsive to his needs and focused on his requirements.

It is especially critical that an up-to-date enemy data base be prepared during the IPB process by the brigade S2 to support offensive operations and to answer the commander's PIR. The threat estimate and data base are used to identify specific enemy vulnerabilities and weaknesses. This information assists the brigade commander in properly concentrating his available combat power.

The development of PIR and IPB is a continual process throughout the planning and execution of the operation. The brigade intelligence section answers PIR using a detailed reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) plan developed and coordinated by the brigade and battalion task force S2s and S3s. The brigade S2 requests additional information and collection assets from its higher headquarters when the brigade commander's PIR cannot be gathered by organic brigade assets.

During the operation, the brigade S2 provides the commander continuous updates of enemy activities and anticipated enemy COAs. His sources include reports from the ASAS, monitoring of battalion radio nets, and analysis of reported sightings of enemy activities.


The brigade commander employs all of his organic and supporting systems to create the conditions for success. The brigade commander then maneuvers his forces to defeat the enemy with minimum risk to his soldiers.

By maneuver the brigade gains the potential to destroy the enemy or hinder his movement through the direct or indirect application of lethal combat power. As the brigade commander develops his concept of the operation and considers the maneuver of all his forces, he must retain a balance in the application of maneuver, firepower, and protection. The nature of this balance establishes the priorities and relationships of maneuver to other operating systems as the commander translates the art of his vision of operations to the science of detailed planning and execution of combat functions.


FS can deliver a variety of Army and joint munitions throughout the depth of the battlefield. The brigade is normally supported by a DS FA battalion. Additional FS assets may include

  • CAS.
  • Naval gunfire (NGF).
  • Army aviation.
  • Reinforcing and GS reinforcing FA battalions.

The brigade fire support element (FSE) is the focal point for the integration of all FS for the brigade. The brigade FSCOORD is the DS FA battalion commander. He is assisted by the brigade FSO. When the FSCOORD is not available, the FSO advises the maneuver commander on FS. To effectively integrate FS into the operation, the FSCOORD must understand the mission, the commander's intent, the concept of the operation, and the commanders guidance for FS. The FSCOORD is critical to the planning process from the outset. The FSCOORD ensures FS assets are properly employed and synchronized.


The division commander's ADA priorities determine what ADA resources the brigade will receive. Normally, the brigade receives a battery of ADA.

The air defense officer (ADO) must understand the commander's mission, intent, and concept of the operation. Continued involvement of the ADO in the planning process is critical to the successful integration of ADA support with the brigade concept. The ADO recommends air defense priorities to the brigade commander, and coordinates with the brigade S3 for terrain requirements for ADA weapons and sensors.

Mobile systems such as the Bradley Stinger fighting vehicle (BSFV), man-portable air defense (MANPAD), and in certain situations, Avenger, will support the maneuver force in the forward area. If MANPADs are used in the forward area, provisions for armor protection, command and control, and early warning must be made.

The entire combined arms team has a role in counterair operations. All units practice air defense early warning and passive air defense measures. Also, tanks, crew-served weapons, indirect fires, intelligence, and EW systems, add to the all-around protection of the force. During offensive operations beyond the range of forward area air defense (FAAD) sensors and voice communications, special provisions for early warning throughout the brigade must be planned, coordinated, and implemented.


This BOS includes both engineer and nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) functions. Specifically, it addresses mobility, countermobility, survivability, and NBC defense operations.


Engineer operations provide mobility to the brigade, degrade the enemy's ability to move on the battlefield, and provide protective emplacements for personnel and equipment. Mobility, countermobility, and survivability operations are planned to be consistent with the commanders intent and to complement the concept of the operation.

The brigade engineer must receive clear guidance and priorities for the engineer effort. He is an integral part of the development of the concept of the operation; he coordinates with the S3, FSO, ADO, S2, and S4 to integrate and synchronize engineer operations.

Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Operations

Division assets available to support brigade offensive operations include NBC decontamination, NBC reconnaissance, and smoke. These assets are normally platoon-size organizations. Based on the factors of METT-T, these organizations may be OPCON, attached, DS, or GS to the brigade.


Brigade decontamination operations during the offense focus on immediate and operational decontamination operations. Thorough decontamination operations are designed for reconstitution operations. Operational decontamination operations are conducted at the battalion level using organic lightweight decontamination equipment.

The brigade commander identifies mission-critical assets and establishes priorities for decontamination within the brigade. The S4 coordinates logistics support for decontamination and provides it through normal supply channels.


All brigade units have an implied mission to conduct NBC reconnaissance using organic detection and identification equipment. The brigade S3 establishes the NBC reconnaissance requirements and tasks based on the brigade chemical officer's recommendations. The procedures for detecting, marking, identifying, and reporting of contaminated areas are established in SOPs according to relevant Standardization Agreements (STANAG).


The brigade conducts smoke operations to screen friendly forces and obscure or deceive enemy forces. Normally, smoke is employed with at least one deceptive screen for every primary smoke screen. Assets that are available to provide smoke include the vehicle engine exhaust smoke system (if using DF2), smoke pots, artillery and mortar smoke, and generated smoke. To conduct a successful smoke mission, the brigade must provide the following information to the supporting smoke unit:

  • Commander's intent.
  • Location of target.
  • Length of mission.
  • Start time.
  • Visibility requirements.


The brigade S4 identifies and coordinates the specific logistics needs of the maneuver brigade. Based on the brigade S4's planning estimate, the forward support battalion (FSB) commander and his staff tailor a mobile CSS package to be pushed forward to support the brigade. Specific coordination for locations of ammunition transfer points (ATP), unit maintenance collection points (UMCP), and MSR outside of the brigade support area (BSA) are coordinated between the FSB S3 and brigade S4 at the rear CP and approved by the brigade S3. This coordination ensures the integration of the CSS plan with the tactical plan.

FSB logistics support must be continuous. The FSB displaces priority resupply classes by bounds to support the momentum of the offense. The movement of the FSB is coordinated among the FSB, rear CP, and main CP to ensure continuous support and to avoid impeding maneuver elements.


The command group, augmented by other special staff as desired by the commander, is positioned to see, sense, and control the battle. By being well forward, the commander can feel the tempo of the battle, improve communications, and influence the main effort with his presence. The command group moves much of the time and relies on the brigade main CP to maintain communications with higher and flanking units.

For security, the TAC CP and the main CP should move frequently. Usually, one section is stationary while the other repositions. While the main CP displaces, the TAC CP may require augmentation to adequately perform the command, control, communications, and intelligence function. Therefore, the TAC CP may be augmented with personnel from the current operations, intelligence, operations support, and FS sections out of the main CP. The signal section leapfrogs FM retransmission systems and mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) forward to maintain communications.

The main CP continues to perform its essential current battle coordination; however, the main CP focuses its effort toward future battle planning. This is possible because the disruption of frequent displacement has caused much of the command, control, communications, and intelligence structuring for working the current battle to be pushed forward to the TAC CP and command group.

The rear CP and FSB commander are heavily committed to pushing CSS forward through the cluttered battlefield to sustain operations. The rear CP and FSB commander are initially concerned with sustaining forward units; providing rear area security; clearing MSR; evacuating casualties, equipment, and EPWs; and preparing to reestablish CSS base areas forward. The rear CP and FSB commander are responsible for terrain management in the BSA.

Forward to Chapter 3.
Return to Chapter 1.
Return to the Table of Contents.

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