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Combat Service


The combat service support (CSS) functions of arming, fueling, fixing, and manning weapons and weapon systems do not change during military operations on urbanized terrain. Forward support for the combat forces continues to be the basic concept governing CSS operations. No significant changes in doctrine or organizations are required. However, the characteristics of the urban battlefield and the nature of urban combat may impact on how CSS is provided.

Urbanized regions normally contain a well-developed distribution system designed to provide products and services to even their smallest population centers. Major portions of this network of highways, rail lines, airfields, ports, pipelines, and storage facilities may be available to assist in the movement of personnel, supplies, and equipment to the battle area.

Built-up areas will frequently provide suitable locations for the deployment of CSS organizations. Such areas offer excellent cover and concealment and may contain easily adaptable maintenance, storage, and medical facilities. At the same time, rubbled or damaged built-up areas may be obstacles along lines of communication which are vital to the efficient functioning of CSS elements. The close and continuous nature of urban combat may modify specific logistical requirements and capabilities as the dominant role shifts from armor and mechanized formations to infantry supported by other arms.

The presence of large population groups within the battle area, whether under a stay-in-place policy or as refugees, will increase civil affairs support requirements and may demand special security measures.

This chapter describes basic considerations applicable to combat service support activities during offensive and defensive operations on urbanized terrain. Emphasis is placed on those operations conducted in and around built-up areas, since it is here that the most significant impact on current CSS procedures and techniques is felt.


The division support area (DSA), occupied by the division support command (DISCOM) and many of the attached corps CSS units, is the hub of CSS activities. As in other environments, the DSA must be located as far forward as possible. Since CSS units will be high-priority targets for the enemy, they should normally be dispersed throughout the numerous small built-up areas in the battle area in order to reduce their vulnerability to detection and attack. This dispersion may complicate command and control, but these disadvantages will normally be outweighed by the increased security, cover, and concealment afforded by built-up areas.

When using built-up areas as support bases, fire protection and physical security become increasingly important considerations. Supplies must be protected both from enemy attack and theft. All classes of supply are subject to pilferage. Rations, fuel, small arms and their ammunition, and medical supplies are the most susceptible items.

Unit trains may also be located in the smaller built-up areas in the forward battle area to take maximum advantage of the cover and concealment.

Field trains will normally be collocated a brigade support area


along the main supply routes if adequate space is available fo dispersion. The size of the combat trains may be increased to provide greater maintenance, ammunition, and medical support capabilities as far forward as possible.


During the attack or defense of a built-up area, support elements will normally move supplies and equipment as far forward as possible with increased emphasis placed on unit distribution. Supply requirements will also vary from those encountered during operations in other tactical environments.


Class I (Subsistence)

Increased difficulty may be met in delivering prepared meals to forward elements. Vehicular delivery within the built-up area may be impracticab-e because of rubble, dispersal of forces in buildings and structures, and the proximity of opposing forces. Where the isolation of units or sub elements is probable, the stockage of an additional day or two of combat rations at platoon or company level or in the combat trains may be required. Water resupply may also be difficult. Local water sources, if available, must be tested and carefully monitored to detect contamination before internal codsumption. There will be an increased requirement, particularly during defensive operations, for portable water containers to allow dispersed stockage at small-unit level.

Class II (Individual Equipment)

Urban operations have little impact on Class II requirements other than those problems relating to delivery to individual level.

Class III (POL)

Increased use of unit distribution and the conduct of sustained dismounted operations in the built-up area will reduce tactical vehicle fuel requirements at maneuver unit level. However, this decrease may be balanced by increased fuel requirements for engineer and power-generating equipment attached to or operating with the forward units. Again, an increased availability of small, portable fuel containers may be required where vehicular delivery is impracticable. The dispersed storage of fuels throughout a built-up area also increases the fire hazard.

Class IV (Construction Materials)

The availability of barrier material to construct counter-mobility obstacles and reinforce the restrictive nature of terrain in built-up areas is particularly critical during defensive operations. Use of local materials to include the selective rubbling of structures in the defensive area reduces supply requirements and the concurrent demand they place on the transportation system. The requirement to stockpile sand in individual fighting positions as a fire-fighting aid is a priority task that must be accomplished in the preparation of the defense.

Class V (Ammo)

Arming weapon systems for the urban battle requires a detailed consideration of the possible change in roles of each system, the composition of basic loads, forward stockage capabilities, and resupply procedures.

Attacking a built-up area may result in changes in ammunition required supply rates (RSR). There will be an increase in artillery and mortar ammunition requirements if it is necessary to provide sustained isolating and interdiction fires in addition to preparatory and suppressive fires. There may also be a requirement to change the mix of artillery fuzes in basic loads to insure the availability of time and variable time fuses.

Increased quantities of smoke munitions of all types will be needed at each level to obscure maneuver. Demolition materiel takes on added importance in order to clear obstacles and breech structures along with the use of antipersonnel and antitank mines as part of obstacle preparation. Ammunition requirements for the combat engineer vehicle demolition gun and for tank overwatch fires may also increase. Within the built-up area, consumption rates for small arms ammunition, handgrenades, and light antitank weapons increase. Each of these factors may contribute to a requirement to redistribute allocated resources or to establish controlled supply rates (CSR) not normally experienced. Ammunition supply minipoints may be required throughout the battle area.

Similar considerations apply to the defense. The defender has a significant advantage in being able to plan and estimate specific ammunition requirements for each portion of his assigned area. Prestocking selected Class V items in defensive positions during preparatory stages can reduce resupply difficulties anticipated during the battle.

During offensive or defensive operations, throughput shipments of ammunition to battalion field trains should be used whenever possible. Movement of ammunition to unit level may require a combination of vehicle transport and manpack.

Class VI (Personal Items)

Competing priority transportation requirements may limit the availability of personal demand items. The provision of sundry packs with ration resupply should be used whenever possible.

Class VII (End Items)

As in other tactical environments, the requirement for and availability of major end items cannot be easily forecast. Maximum emphasis should be placed on forward repair rather than end item replacement.

Class VIII (Medical)

The isolation of units and intensity of small-unit battles in built-up areas may increase the requirement for medical supplies. Evacuation difficulties may require in-place treatment and increase the demand for first aid items such as dressings, splints, and protective or cleansing ointments.

Class IX (Repair Parts)

Forward repair and maintenance operations may create the requirement to stock high-usage repair parts within unit trains to insure rapid repair of weapon systems and tactical vehicles.

Class X (Nonmilitary)

Support of civil affairs units may require the stockage and distribution of supplies to be provided the local populace.


Adequate road networks are available throughout the urban battlefield for the movement of supplies, equipment, and personnel forward to division and brigade support areas. It may be necessary to restrict selected roads to military traffic when civil support and refugee control operations compete for available routes. In many cases, railroad systems will also be available for the transportation of heavy or bulky classes of supply such as ammunition. Aviation assets, operating from dispersed civil or military airfields, may provide for the movement of priority lightweight items.

Transportation operations forward of the DSA or BSA may be more complicated. Built-up areas can become significant obstacles to vehicular movement because of rubble and other battle damage. Route maintenance is a priority task for engineer units. Bypassed pockets of resistance and ambushes pose a constant threat along supply routes. Route patrols and observation posts may be required to provide security, but these activities are expensive in terms of manpower. Armed convoys or the substitute of lightly armored vehicles for trucks may be required for the movement of critical supplies. Resupply by helicopter or US Air Force aircraft should also be considered. The air defense threat and the proximity of opposing forces will normally preclude their routine use in forward areas. Helicopters are ideal for emergency resupply and for the movement of high-priority items to the combat trains. Forward of the combat trains, it may be necessary to break supplies down into small loads to be transported by hand.


Equipment should be repaired as far forward as possible by unit or direct support maintenance company teams. Recovery operations should be limited to the movement of disabled equipment to guarded sites selected along supply routes or to the combat trains. Within built-up areas, rubble may preclude the evacuation of vehicles and heavy equipment. On-the-spot repair may be required. Cannibalization of nonrepairable equipment may also be required where end-item resupply is not possible. These factors increase the importance of diagnostic training for operators and crews in order to insure that the correct parts and maintenance personnel are sent forward.


The same restrictions that impact on transportation operations may preclude vehicular or aerial evacuation of casualties within built-up areas. Litter bearers will normally be needed to move wounded to a point where they can be further evacuated by ground or air ambulance. Litter relay teams may be required along lengthy evacuation routes to conserve energy and expedite evacuation. Litter bearers will normally have to be drawn from combat units. These personnel must be trained in techniques for moving casualties to ground level from underground systems or from the upper floors of buildings.

The limited availability of medical aidmen, coupled with the physical separation of small-unit elements within built-up areas, may limit the initial treatment of casualties to first aid administered by nonmedical personnel or self-treatment measures.


As with medical treatment, the evacuation of remains from a built-up area is a major problem.

During sustained operations, litter bearers may also be required for this task. Once evacuation has been accomplished, standard processing and burial procedures are applicable.

FM 10-63, Handling of Deceased Personnel in Theaters of Operations, contains additional information on graves registration procedures.


The presence of a large concentration of civilians confined within a comparatively small area can significantly inhibit tactical operations. The initiation of hostilities may result in mass civilian casualties, disruption of essential life support facilities, and operations.

Refugees attempting to escape over roads may seriously impede or block movement over routes required by the military. Combat service support units will frequently find lines of communication clogged with vehicles and pedestrians. The presence of civilians will often restrict the application of fires. Selected areas may be designated as no-fire areas to prevent civilian casualties. Other areas can be limited to small arms and grenades, with prohibitions on air strikes, artillery, and mortars. Target acquisition and the direction of fire missions will be complicated by the requirement to determine the identity of personnel targets. Flame weapons must be judiciously employed or prohibited in areas that may contain civilians.

The presence of local civilians and mass movements of refugees influence the location and type of obstacles that may be employed. Minefields are coordinated with designated refugee routes or guarded until the passage of refugee- is complete. Boobytraps and flame obstacles are not emplaced until the evacuation of civilians is complete. Buildings occupied by civilians or facilities that provide essential life services (e.g., hospitals) are not mined or destroyed.

Increased security and special security considerations are required to preclude:

  • Civilians from being used as cover by enemy forces or as agents.

  • Pilferage of supplies and theft ofdweapons or vehicles.

  • Sabotage.

  • Civilians from passing through or lodging in defensive areas.

The limits of authority of commanders at all levels over government officials and the civilian populace must be established and well understood. A commander must be afforded that degree of authority necessary for him to accomplish his mission; however, the host government's concern and responsibility for its populace and territory will affect the commander's latitude in conducting military operations. In secure areas, where the host government can function effectively, the commander's authority in civil-military matters may be very limited. In less secure areas, where the host government may be only partially effective, the commander may be called upon to assume greater responsibility for the safety and well-being of the civilian populace. Operations within highly populated areas may require diversion of men, time, equipment, and supplies for humanitarian reasons. If host government agencies collapse, the drain on military resources could become substantial. The disruption of government-provided civilian health and sanitary services will also sharply increase risks of disease and the possibility of epidemics among civilians and military forces.

If they become panic-stricken, refugees may exceed the host government's ability to control them, thus requiring minor US force augmentation or the commitment of a large force to protect life, property, and to restore order. In addition to peacekeeping, there may be requirements for the forces to secure vital host government facilities.


CA activities include both governmental and operations. Governmental support operations are conducted by the US military to aid and assist allied governments and populations or to establish a military government in occupied enemy territory. Governmental support activities include the advice and assistance provided by selected CA specialists; the extensive involvement of CA and other military units in support of a friendly or allied government and populace; and the exercising of legislative, executive, and judicial authority over occupied enemy territory. Governmental support operations are usually conducted by CA units organized under a single CA command.

CA command support includes procuring local goods and services for military use, reducing civilian interference in military operations, and assisting the commander in fulfilling his moral and legal obligation to the local government and civilian populace. Command support is normally provided by the attachment of CA command support units to the supported tactical, administrative, or logistical command.

Both types of CA operations may be conducted in an area at the same time. The presence of CA governmental support units will normally reduce the responsibility that CA command support units and their supported commands have for assisting the host government. Additionally, CA governmental support units will serve as an interface between the host government and CA command support and other military units.

In the event a fully effective civil government is not functioning in a built-up area, combat/combat service support commanders may be temporarily responsible for administering essential civil activities until the civil government is reestablished or until responsibility can be given to CA governmental support units. These activities are normally performed by those civil affairs elements attached to combat/combat service support units. Where friendly and effective local government organizations exist, they are used to assist in civil affairs activities. See FM 41-5, Joint Manual for Civil Affairs, and FM 41-10, Civil Affairs Operations, for further discussion.


The control of refugee movements in combat operations is a Military Police responsibility. Measures for controlling civilian refugees are contained in TC 19-7, Straggler and Refugee Control. The most important principle in refugee control is reliance on the host government forces (military/civilian) wherever possible. Frequently, US forces will be totally committed to fighting and therefore unable to provide such support or will have limited refugee control capabilities.

If the host government is incapable of performing this mission, US forces (combat/combat service support) may be required to conduct any or all of the following refugee control measures (TC 19-7):

  • Enforcing standfast orders or prohibiting other unauthorized movements.

  • Searching and taking custody of enemy agents or other hostile personnel discovered among refugees.

  • Screening refugees for suspicious activities, such as detection of infiltration by guerrillas, enemy agents, and escaping members of the hostile armed forces.

  • Performing traffic control on designated refugee routes.

  • Escorting refugee columns when so directed.

  • Directing or diverting refugee columns tosecondary roads and through areas not utilized by military elements.

  • Performing police duties, such as traffic control or security, at refugee assembly areas, collecting points, and centers or camps, when directed.

  • Enforcing prescribed restrictive measures, such as curfews, identification and pass systems, restricted areas, restraining lines, no-passage lines, checkpoints and roadblocks, travel permits or manifests, licensing or registration of vehicles or prohibitions on the use of vehicles, priorities of movement, and limits on personal belongings.


The standards for the treatment of civilians by US forces are established by laws and regulations. These rules are summarized below:

  • Provide medical care to sick or wounded civilians, within immediate capabilities.

  • Do not use coercion in questioning or interrogating civilians.

  • Treat all captives (military/civilian) humanely.

In all circumstances, civilians are entitled to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated and shall be protected against all acts of violence or threats.


Cultural and humanitarian property should not be attacked or destroyed. This category includes:

  • Churches.

  • Art, science, or public service buildings.

  • Historical monuments.

  • Hospitals.

  • Schools and orphanages.

These places are considered protected property so long as they are not used by the enemy for military purposes at the time of friendly tactical operations.

When applying firepower in a built-up area, only military targets may be attacked. Mass bombardments (air/artillery) are tactically counter-productive (reduces mobility and provides better cover). They also alienate the population whose support in achieving tactical and strategic objectives is required.

Built-up areas present many opportunities for looting. Soldiers must understand that the taking of "souvenirs" is looting or stealing. As men acquire loot, they discard needed equipment which results in an overall loss of combat efficiency.

No matter how well-trained or well disciplined a unit may be, troops will loot unless precautions are taken in advance and violators are promptly and appropriately punished. Looting detracts from the soldier's alertness, increases his vulnerability and that of his unit, and reduces his initiative and efficiency. Such actions may delay the progress of the attack and alienate the population.

06-21-1996; 09:15:44

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