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"A soldier can survive on the battlefield for months without mail, weeks without food, days without water, minutes without air, but not one second without ammo!"

(Author Unknown)


Munitions is the dominant factor in determining the outcome of combat or stability and support operations (SASO). It is a critical component of fire and maneuver operations performed by the force projection Army. Munitions provide the means to defeat as well as destroy the enemy. They give the force the ability to block, screen, or protect itself.

The limited quantity of our modern munitions and weapons systems requires that munitions are managed to ensure availability and enhance combat readiness. In the future, most major military operations will be joint or coalition and based on unexpected contingencies. These operations will require the munitions logistic system to be modular, tailorable, easily deployed, and flexible.

This chapter introduces the munitions support structure and its mission. It addresses the following topics:

  • Supported units.
  • Support environment.
  • Munitions support considerations.
  • Sustainment imperatives.
  • Munitions strategic, operational, and tactical interfaces.
  • Transportation interfaces.


Our national security needs form the basis of our national military strategy. We must support the four basic demands that are fulfilled by the military. They are:

  • Guarantee strategic deterrence and defense.

  • Exercise a forward presence in vital areas of the world.

  • Respond effectively to a crisis.

  • Retain the capacity to reconstitute forces.

The Army's ability to react and sustain the battle improves the chances of conduct-ing a successful operation. The munitions soldier's mission is to ensure munitions arrive in the hands of the warfighter in the right quantities and proper types at the decisive time and place. Munitions logistic plans must mesh the tactical level commander's plan to the operational and strategic plans. This helps ensure timely support and sustains the operation.

Commanders, with advice from logis-ticians, tailor support packages to meet theater requirements for a variety of strategic contingency plans. The use of modular ammunition units increases our ability to meet theater munitions requirements. Modular units will be deployed based on operational needs and will help ease strategic lift requirements.

The Army's ability to meet its force projection requirements calls for highly mobile, multifunctional organizations capable of projecting munitions support anywhere in the world. The measure of success is the ability to accomplish the following effectively and efficiently:

  • Provide munitions to operational and tactical commanders.

  • Support current and future gener-ations of combat power anywhere in the world.

  • Sustain maneuver forces in a wide variety of mission profiles.

  • Support the tenets of Army oper-ations doctrine.

  • Retrograde munitions to the conti-nental United States (CONUS) or other theaters of operations.


Every unit on the battlefield requires munitions. Providing sufficient types and quantities at the right place on time is critical to the success of combat operations and SASO. When the Army fights as part of a joint, multinational, or combined force, US Army munitions units may support other US services and allied forces.


Ammunition units must push munitions forward on the battlefield. At the same time, they must maintain minimum essential stocks throughout the distribution system to retain maximum flexibility and mobility for future combat operations. The need to protect ammunition support activities (ASAs) from rear area threat activities complicates muni-tion support operations. Military Police (MP) units augment ammunition units to provide security for ASAs.

Ammunition units may find themselves close to combat. In such situations, units must continue to provide essential munitions support while relocating away from the threat. Disruptions from threat forces are likely to occur throughout the theater of operations, from brigade support areas to deep within the communications zone (COMMZ).


The tenets of Army operations doctrine, as presented in FM 100-5 (see Figure 1-1), are basic to operational and tactical success on the battlefield. These tenets also establish the framework for organizing sustainment.


  • Initiative

  • Agility

  • Depth

  • Synchronization

  • Versatility

Figure 1-1. Five tenets of Army
operations doctrine

Doctrine enables the combat force to take advantage of opportunities to achieve tactical or operational success. Ammunition units must follow the five logistics characteristics, as presented in FM 100-5 (see Figure 1-2), to support combined arms operations.


  • Anticipation

  • Integration

  • Continuity

  • Responsiveness

  • Improvisation

Figure 1-2. Five logistics characteristics


Combat service support (CSS) com-manders must anticipate future events and the needs of combat commanders. Staffs must devise and develop new methods for supporting those needs. While the unit is still supporting current operations, the logistics planner must forecast munitions demands based on future operations plans. Logistics planners must anticipate events and still remain flexible enough to accommodate likely contingencies. Successful anticipation in munitions support operations is the ability to meet shifting demands resulting from rapidly changing tactical conditions. to best support combat units, it is imperative that logistics officers be tactically and technically competent. See FM 100-5, Chapter 3, for a more detailed explanation of this charac-teristic.


Unity of effort requires that CSS commanders fully integrate logistical support into the tactical and operational plans of the combat commanders. munitions support must be bold, innovative, and based on a clear understanding of the commander's intent; however, guidelines for safe, secure operations must be followed. Combat commanders require the greatest possible freedom of action; therefore, munitions units must organize to support the combat forces and their operations. Also, munitions support must be fully integrated into deception plans.


Continuity in munitions support is a critical factor in allowing combat commanders to have depth, retain momentum, and maintain the initiative. The continuity of sustainment is paramount to the continued success of the operation. While the tempo of combat operations varies, sustainment operations never cease. During lulls in combat, munitions units must rebuild combat loads and replenish stocks. Also, they must conduct inspections, preventive maintenance services, repacking, demilitarization, destruction, and retrograde operations.


All munitions support units must be responsive to the changing needs of the combat user. They must be prepared to relocate their support base and redirect incoming munitions without interrupting the flow of ammunition to the fighting force. CSS plans must be flexible to allow the combat commander the ability to fully exploit a tactical opportunity.


Improvisation is the ability that allows the commander to react to unexpected and unanticipated events and to exploit them to the fullest to accomplish his mission. No amount of planning can account for all possible contingencies on the battlefield. When the normal supply of ammunition is interrupted, extraordinary effort, innovative supply procedures, and other unconventional methods may be needed to support combat operations. However, improvisation is not the answer for poor prior planning on the part of the commander.


The CSS commander should use the four support considerations (see Figure 1-3) as a guide when incorporating combat service support sustainment into operational plans.


  • Support combat commander's intent.
  • Support forward.
  • Maintain total asset visibility.
  • Rely upon the Army's system of effective leadership.
  • Figure 1-3. Four support considerations

    The first consideration is supporting the combat commander's intent. The com-mander's intent may change with the situation and depends on many variables.

    The second is supporting as far forward as possible. As ammunition containers arrive in theater, they are sent forward to a TSA or CSA. At the CSA the containers are unloaded, and the ammunition is configured into mission configured loads (MCLs). The MCLs are then sent forward to ASPs or ATPs.

    The third is maintaining total asset visibility (TAV) to meet the needs of the combat forces. TAV means that munitions supplies are tracked from the time that they are introduced into the distribution pipeline until they arrive at their final destination so that their exact location is known at all times.

    The fourth is relying upon the Army's system of effective leadership to adapt to the changing needs of the battlefield. Effective leadership enables ammunition unit commanders to accomplish their critical munitions support mission to the combat forces. All commissioned officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers must be effective leaders as well as technically and tactically proficient.


    Levels of munitions support parallel the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war (see Figure 1-4). At the strategic level, the national military strategy determines the theater strategy. The theater campaign plan is derived from the theater strategy and links the operational level (joint task force [JTF] campaign plans) to the strategic level (theater strategy). Plans for conducting major operations are derived from the JTF campaign plan. Battles and engagements are the tactical level components of major operations. Ammunition support is an integral part of the plan at each of these levels.

    Munitions support is instrumental to the commander in building, sustaining, and projecting combat power to shape the battle. It is an essential part of the logistics system at each level of war. The theater (operational level) munitions system links the strategic and tactical levels of war. For more information, see FMs 100-5, 100-10, and 100-16.

    Figure 1-4. Levels of war and guidance hierarchy

    Strategic Level of
    Munitions Logistics

    The strategic level of the munitions logistic system is the support base for all deployed forces and provides munitions based upon projected munitions expen-ditures. The strategic munitions logistic system includes special activities under Department of the Army (DA) control. These include national inventory control points (NICPs), national maintenance points, depots, arsenals, plants, and factories. Supporting the strategic level of munitions is the function of these CONUS organizations or the theater base in the COMMZ and is coordinated with the logistics support element (LSE).

    The LSE is the forward element of the munitions logistical base. It provides limited strategic level or other directed logistics support in the theater on an interim basis. The Army service component commander (ASCC) (formerly known as the theater commander) has command and control of the LSE.

    An LSE consists of military, contrac-tors, and civilian employees. They provide support within, as well as outside, the theater of operations, producing a seamless system. To optimize the logistics flow, the munitions logistics system is centrally managed at the strategic level and decentralized at the operational and tactical levels.

    The United States Army Materiel Command (USAMC) coordinates strategic organization actions through the LSE deployed in the theater. The early deployment of the LSE ensures a positive link to deploying ammunition units. Also, the LSE may have to fill gaps in the munitions support force infrastructure until the deploying units arrive in theater. The initial deployment will be for logistical assistance along with the other logistics personnel assigned to major units. The LSE does not replace capabilities provided by munitions support units in the force structure. Rather, it provides an interface between the strategic and operational munitions logistics levels.

    Operational Level of
    Munitions Logistics

    The ASCC links Army plans to the combat commander's strategic level plans. The Army forces (ARFOR) commander links his plans to the operational level plans. These links enable the operational level of munitions logistics to support the com-mander in chief's (CINC's) plan. See FM 100-7 for more information.

    Providing this support in a force projec-tion environment presents new challenges. The ARFOR commander establishes priorities for operational level munitions. Operational bases within a theater provide strategic and operational munitions support to the tactical forces. Based on METT-T, the CINC develops a munitions organization capable of executing munitions CSS tasks to support the campaign plan.

    The difference between the operational and tactical levels of munitions logistics is the longer planning and preparation time required to support extended operations. The operational level of munitions logistics encompasses support required to sustain campaign plans and major operations. It attempts to balance current consumption of munitions supplies with the needs of future major operations. It also enables success at the tactical level of war.

    Operational munitions support signifi-cantly impacts the ARFOR commander's decision process. The commander uses METT-T to determine logistics time and distance factors, throughput, and lines of communication (LOCs). Assured logistics communications supporting high data transmission rates with the national industrial base provide TAV of critical items. In-transit visibility (ITV) allows the commander to know the location of resources in transit and to allocate them based on their projected arrival. The operational level of the munitions logistic system provides the link between the strategic and tactical levels.

    Tactical Level of
    Munitions Logistics

    The tactical level of munitions logistics sustains the tactical commander's ability to fight battles and engagements. Successful tactical level munitions logistics provide the right munitions, on time, at the correct location to the requesting unit. Mobile, responsive capabilities are essential for prep-aration and execution of the tactical level of munitions logistics.

    The munitions distribution system includes all supply activities needed to provide munitions to the using units within a theater of operations. Munitions requirements from combat battalions and brigades proceed through the materiel management channels of the divisions, corps, and theater until they ultimately reach the CONUS-based NICP.

    The use, and therefore the structure, of ASAs have evolved. ASAs vary in size, capability, and mission. They are not bound by strict, hierarchical support structures but are based on projected mission requirements.


    Munitions support units are organized to meet mission support requirements. Each unit has the appropriate mix of personnel, MOS skills, tools, and equipment to accomplish assigned missions. Chapter 2 of this manual provides more information on the structure of munitions support units and doctrine.

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