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Preparation for combat includes briefings and briefbacks, inspections, and rehearsals.


All commanders must closely supervise briefings. Soldiers should receive enough information about the weather, terrain, and enemy in the objective area to perform their duties intelligently. To allow for contingencies, each person should also know the overall plan.


A tentative plan for briefings in the marshaling area is prepared before marshaling.

a. Each of the higher units prepares a briefing plan that includes the following:

  • Time and place for each briefing.
  • Briefing facilities available.
  • Personnel involved in each briefing.
  • Details to be covered in each briefing.
  • Security measures during each briefing.

b. The briefing schedule is coordinated with airlift units so that the crews of assault aircraft and other selected airlift personnel can attend briefings with the soldiers they transport.

c. The briefing schedule must allow for briefback of all aspects of the plan at each level. This requires flexibility in the plan.


On arriving at the marshaling area, units establish briefing rooms in buildings, huts, or tents within the sealed area. Briefing rooms should contain the best possible briefing aids. The rooms should be big enough to hold the platoon, the aircraft load, or the largest group to be briefed at one time. Some platoon and squad briefings take place outside regular briefing rooms with simple aids like maps, photos, and sketches.

a. Each brigade and battalion establishes at least one briefing room. When possible, each company establishes its own. Otherwise, the battalion provides one or more briefing rooms for its companies to use. Platoons (or aircraft loads) are rotated through the assigned briefing rooms according to the briefing schedule. Individual squads can also be rotated through briefing rooms.

b. On the departure airfield, briefing facilities are established in the joint CP for joint briefings of the senior airborne and airlift commanders and their staffs.

c. The briefing facilities used by the assault units are kept for use by buildup units. Advanced landing fields, AAs, and routes in the airhead can be shown to interested personnel, and the current situation reviewed on the basis of situation reports.


The S3 prepares the briefing schedule in coordination with the S2 for inclusion in the marshaling plan. Briefings are critical and are conducted down to the lowest level of command. Except for key commanders and staff officers, information about the operation is on a strict need-to-know basis before marshaling, so marshaling area briefings must be detailed. Each soldier must know exactly the part he plays in the operation. He must also know the plans of his unit and of adjacent units. Contingency actions for individuals and units must also be included in these briefings. The S2 should ensure that the necessary briefing aids are available before soldiers enter the marshaling areas. An annotated low-altitude air photo of the landing area, explained by photo-interpreter personnel, is the most effective briefing aid. Accurate terrain models and sand tables of the airhead are effective. Large-scale maps with defenses and obstacles overprinted from the latest air photos are valuable as well.


For coordination and understanding, a series of joint briefings is conducted during marshaling for selected airborne and airlift personnel. At these briefings, information and instructions are given on all matters that are of joint interest in the air movement and ground assault plans. The schedule and scope of joint briefings are determined at the joint commanders' conference. Airborne and airlift commanders and selected staff officers attend the command briefings conducted as part of their conferences. (FM 100-27 provides a recommended format for joint briefings.)

a. Airlift Crew Attendance at Airborne Unit Briefings. The crews of aircraft should attend the briefings of the airborne unit they are transporting; the aircraft crew and the airborne unit land are a team in the objective area.

b. Ground Unit Attendance at Airlift Briefings. Ground units send representatives to airlift unit briefings to learn all they can about Air Force plans, especially air movement plans. Although airlift units are responsible for the air movement, airborne units are interested in --

(1) Takeoff arrangements, including marshaling of aircraft on the ground and assembly in the air.

(2) Routes to the objective, including alternate routes.

(3) Final approach to the objective, including direction of flight, checkpoints on the ground, altitude, and aircraft formation.

(4) Details of fighter cover and friendly air defense units.

(5) Intelligence estimates on expected enemy air and antiaircraft opposition.

(6) Evasion and escape procedures.

(7) Ditching procedures.

(8) Anticipated weather, including the direction and velocity of the wind at the objective.

(9) Communications, including signals for the parachute exit.

(10) Use of alternate DZs/LZs.

c. Final Briefing. All aircraft commanders attend the final aircrew briefing, if possible, It is conducted by the airlift commander or representative just before takeoff. It includes all last-minute information and instructions for the air movement.


The mission briefing is presented by the Air Force for the commanders of the various dispersed airfields, and for required crew members, plus representatives from other organizations or services as appropriate. When the dispersed concept is employed, each commander at the dispersed airfields conducts mission briefings for the crew members at their respective locations. Joint representation provides a basis for mutual understanding before the mission and is encouraged at all briefings. This briefing is a comprehensive coverage of all the mission's phases.

a. Scope. Since the scope of the mission briefing varies with the nature and complexity of the mission to be performed, it is not possible to outline all detailed matters to be covered. Handouts can be used for certain subjects such as navigation, operations, and others at the discretion of the commander. The briefing order is as follows (although the briefing includes only the items that fit the mission):

  • Opening statement by the unit or mission commander.
  • Intelligence.
  • Operations (first of two sections).
  • Navigation.
  • Weather.
  • Communications.
  • Flight surgeon.
  • Operations (second section).
  • Commander.
  • Chaplain.

b. Content. The following items are discussed in the mission briefing. Special briefings for more detail are the option of the commander.

(1) Opening by the unit or mission commander. This includes --

(a) A brief description of the overall operation.

(b) The purpose of the operation.

(c) The role of the unit.

(d) Participation of other organizations.

(2) Intelligence. This includes--

(a) The general situation, enemy, and friendly forces.

(b) Enemy capabilities.

(c) Friendly air and ground activity, including rescue.

(d) Priority intelligence requirements.

(e) Evasion and escape.

(f) Conduct if captured.

(g) Security.

(h) Reports.

(i) Debriefing, as required.

(3) Operations. This includes --

(a) Execution of the marshaling plan and trip numbers (including designation of spares).

(b) Loading of emergency equipment needed for the mission.

(c) Inspection of aircraft.

(d) Loading of aircraft, including liaison with unit being transported.

(e) Inspection of personal equipment and crew.

(f) Completion of forms (including clearance, weight and balance, and manifests) and collection of them before takeoff.

(g) Times for stations, engines, taxiing, check-in, and takeoff.

(h) Taxi and runup procedures.

(i) Aborts during runup or takeoff, or while in flight.

(j) Takeoff.

(k) Route and return.

(l) Route, DZ/LZ, and return (including aeromedical evacuation or diversionary routes, if applicable).

(m) Use of CCTs/LRSU.

(n) Coordination of the crew over the DZ.

(o) Landing and taxiing procedures.

(p) Emergency procedures (other than SOP).

(4) Navigation. This includes --

(a) Airspace restrictions.

(b) Navigational aids.

(c) Emergency airfields.

(d) Coverage of DZ/LZ and salvo area(s) with photos, maps, or other aids. (This should be covered in a separate briefing after the mission briefing.)

(e) Time hack.

(5) Weather. This includes --

(a) Existing and forecast weather at departure time, on the airfield, en route, and in the objective area.

(b) Winds at the departure airfield, en route, and at the objective area (including drop altitude where applicable).

(c) Weather outlook, if the operation is to take place more than 24 hours after the general mission briefing.

(d) Time and location of the final weather briefing (if applicable).

(6) Communications. This includes --

(a) Call signs.

(b) Frequencies.

  • Check-in.
  • Taxi.
  • Takeoff.
  • En route (including special reporting procedures).
  • Objective area.
  • Landing.
  • Emergency.
  • Rescue.

(c) IFF use.

(d) Communications security, authentication, and radio silence.

(7) Flight surgeon. This includes --

(a) Health service support missions and type of units involved in the operation.

(b) Required immunizations.

(c) Use of water purification tablets.

(d) Waste disposal.

(e) Endemic and epidemic diseases in the AO.

(8) Operations (second section). This includes --

(a) Schedule for further briefings.

(b) Critique.

(c) Messing and transportation.

(d) Flying safety.

(e) Mission reports and other forms.

(f) Maintenance support.

(9) Commander. This includes --

(a) Special command instructions.

(b) Designation of time and place for final briefings on topics such as weather decisions.


Although special emphasis is placed on briefing soldiers in the marshaling area, operational briefings for unit commanders and staff officers continue, regardless of the amount and scope of briefings received earlier. Any details of the operation previously withheld for security reasons are divulged. New intelligence and changes in plans are promptly disseminated. Information and instructions previously issued are reviewed. A common briefing on all battalion missions should be given to all regimental/brigade and battalion commanders. If this is done, battalion missions can be shifted with little delay in case of inaccurate landings. Company commanders in a battalion should be given a common briefing so that company missions can be changed if an unexpected event occurs after landing.


Briefbacks and rehearsals are not the same. Briefbacks are related to the planning process; rehearsals are related to execution. Briefbacks to the commander of operational concepts should be required from all subordinate commanders and leaders for missions tasked in OPLANs, OPORDs, or FRAGOs. Briefback times and locations are normally specified in the coordinating instructions paragraph of the OPORD/OPLAN. The scope and detail required depends on the mission and time available. It may range from an oral review using operational graphics to an in-depth explanation using terrain models, visual aids, and other devices. The commander should conduct at least two briefbacks with subordinate commanders. When possible, briefbacks should be conducted collectively at a meeting of the order group. The first briefback occurs immediately after the OPORD has been issued to ensure subordinates understand their mission. The second briefback occurs after subordinates have prepared their own concepts of the operation. However, before subordinates issue their OPORDs, the commander may recommend changes. In quickly developing situations, an abbreviated version may be required. The format of the briefback is a matter of unit SOP but should include the following information:

  • Division/brigade commander's intent and mission statement.
  • Intelligence overview.
  • Specified, implied, and mission-essential tasks.
  • Constraints and limitations.
  • Unit mission statement.
  • Unit commander's intent.
  • Task organization.
  • Concept of the operation (maneuver, fire support, engineering, air defense).
  • Coordination.
  • Combat service support.
  • Command and control.
  • Time schedule.
  • Rules of engagement (if applicable).
  • Minimum force requirements (if applicable).
  • Other operational considerations (deception plan, safety guidance, and so on).


Specialized briefings are held to present detailed instructions not required for everyone at the mission briefing. Therefore, the mission briefing requires less time and detail.

a. Attendance. Specialized briefings can be held for the following personnel:

(1) Aircraft commanders.

(2) Navigators (for the purpose of studying DZ overlays and timing points, and for comparing routes, checkpoints, and so on).

(3) Radio operators (to detail special communications procedures, use of IFF, strike reports, and so on).

(4) Loadmasters/jumpmasters (including coordination of loading, unloading, or aerial release procedures).

(5) Aeromedical (for air evacuation flights only.)

(6) Combat control team/Army assault team.

(7) Others as required.

b. S3 Air Brief to Jumpmasters. As soon as ground tactical and air movement planning is complete and jumpmasters are selected, the S3 Air conducts a jumpmaster briefing. This briefing should include all primary jumpmasters and can include assistant jumpmasters, safety personnel, and leaders of airland chalks in the assault echelon. At this briefing, the S3 Air gives out a jumpmaster packet for each aircraft. The packet and briefing should provide the following:

(1) Mission and ground tactical plan.

(2) Air movement plan.

(3) Names of assistant jumpmasters and safeties; time and place to brief them (if they are not present).

(4) Time and location for initial and final manifest call, prejump training, and uniform and equipment inspections.

(5) Transportation arrangements for moving to the marshaling area or departure airfield.

(6) Time and place for parachute issue and the type of main parachute to be used.

(7) Time a weather decision will be made.

(8) Time and location for briefing.

(9) Aircraft tail numbers, chalk numbers, and parking spots.

(10) Loading time.

(11) Time and location for aircrew and jumpmaster briefing.

(12) Station time.

(13) Takeoff time.

(14) Flight plan (formation, route, checkpoints, direction of flight over the DZ, emergency radio frequencies, and call signs).

(15) Drop time.

(16) Medical support plan.

(17) Landing plan with emphasis on assembly aids and procedures.

(18) Communications procedures on the DZ.

c. Jumpmaster Briefing to Assistants and Safeties. Time must be allowed for the primary jumpmaster to brief his assistants and safety personnel before he briefs the jumpers. He provides the information given to him in the S3 Air briefing, assigns duties to all personnel, and gives his concept of actions in the aircraft. He reviews SOP items and addresses possible contingencies. The following are some other items to discuss in this briefing:

(1) Door assignments.

(2) Inspection procedures.

(3) Rigging station assignments.

(4) Exit procedures (including the location in the stick where the jumpmaster exits and the name of the person who assumes his responsibilities after he exits).

(5) Actions of jumpmaster personnel in emergency situations such as emergency bailout, hung parachutist, and so on.

(6) Procedures for handling door bundles.

(7) Briefing duties.

(8) Abort procedures and bump plan.

d. Jumpmaster/Troop Briefing. As soon as practical after the first manifest call, the jumpmaster briefs personnel on the details of the operation. Items discussed include the following:

(1) The DZ and alternates.

(2) Type of aircraft.

(3) Chalk number.

(4) Type of parachute.

(5) Briefing on serials, the CDS, heavy drop, and type of aircraft, if part of a larger airborne operation.

(6) Time a weather decision will be made.

(7) Type of individual and separate equipment that soldiers will jump with.

(8) Time and place of parachute issue.

(9) Station time.

(10) Takeoff time.

(11) Length of flight.

(12) Actions in the aircraft.

(13) In-flight emergencies.

(14) Direction of flight over the DZ.

(15) Drop altitude.

(16) Predicted wind speed and direction on the DZ.

(17) Route checkpoints.

(18) Search and rescue procedures.

(19) Landing and assembly plan.

(20) Parachute turn-in points.

(21) Time and place of final manifest call.

(22) Medical support plan.

(23) Obstacles on or near the DZ.

(24) Time and location of any aircraft-related rehearsals.

e. Aircrew and Jumpmaster Soldier Briefing. This briefing is given before or after loading the aircraft.

(1) Preflight. Items discussed concerning preflight procedures include the following:

  • Takeoff time.
  • Air Force CCT or DZSO contact time (when the jumpmaster will be informed by radio of DZ conditions).
  • Drop time.

(2) In-flight. Items discussed concerning in-flight procedures include the following

  • Movement in the aircraft.
  • Smoking restrictions.
  • Airsickness.
  • Latrine.
  • Lighting.
  • Flight altitude.
  • Formation and interval.

(3) Approach to the DZ. Items discussed concerning procedures during the approach to the DZ include the following:

  • Checkpoint warning.
  • Time warning.
  • Visual and oral signals.
  • "No drop" signal.
  • Jump door restrictions.
  • Drop zone identification (jumpmaster must be briefed on what marking features, or both to look for).
  • Drop altitude.
  • Drop speed.
  • Drop heading.
  • Number of passes.
  • Turnoff direction.

(4) Emergency procedures. Items discussed concerning emergency procedures include the following:

  • Jettisoning of load.
  • Fuselage fire.
  • Abandonment of aircraft.
  • Emergency bailout.
  • Crash landing.
  • Ditching.
  • Rapid depressurization.
  • Malfunctions.
  • Towed parachutist.
  • Treatment of casualties in the aircraft before the drop.

(5) Other details. The briefing official should --

(a) State which jump door affords the best view of the DZ for a safety check.

(b) Name the key people on board who must be advised of a ground abort.

(c) Inform the loadmaster who will command the soldiers on board in an emergency if the jumpmaster is not the last parachutist.

(d) Coordinate receipt of information on the direction and velocity of DZ winds (before the one-minute time warning).

(e) Emphasize to the aircrew the importance of receiving accurate time warnings.

(f) Ensure the loadmaster understands that the soldiers should raise and fasten seats.

f. Cross-Service Representation. Because of the close coordination required in airborne operations, each unit should be represented at unilateral briefings given by the other. This pertains mostly to the mission briefings that cover the entire air movement phase. The security requirements of airborne operations dictate that such cross-service representation be limited to supervisory staff and liaison personnel on a need-to-know basis.


Thorough briefing of each person taking part in an airborne operation is essential to the success of the operation. The preassault briefing is conducted in detail, and ground reconnaissance by the airborne unit is impractical. Therefore, the procurement and preparation of briefing aids is vital. Each soldier should enter the target area with enough knowledge to independently perform his duties.

a. All units arrange for briefing aids before entering the marshaling area. Divisional units survey the marshaling camp to find what briefing facilities are provided. Other facilities and aids are procured by divisional units, as needed.

(1) Briefing aids (such as maps, air photos, slide projectors, kits for making terrain models, movie projectors, and screens) can be obtained from higher headquarters.

(2) Briefing aids such as charts, sketches, diagrams, terrain models, and sand tables are made.

(3) Low-altitude air photos of the landing area (from intelligence channels), on which photo interpreters mark terrain features and the size and shape of the landing area, are also useful.

(4) Large-scale maps with antiairborne obstacles and defenses overprinted on them are very useful. Accurate sand table models and terrain models can be made from these maps.

b. Requirements for briefing aids vary with the operation, the construction facilities available, and supply of materials and equipment. No standard set of briefings aids is prescribed.


Unit commanders, leaders, and other selected personnel (jumpmasters, riggers, and so on) conduct inspections to prepare the unit for operations. Several types of inspections are conducted during the marshaling process.


The initial inspection is performed after the first manifest call. Each parachutist is checked for proper uniform (including ID card and tags), for the condition of his parachutist helmet and air items, and for properly rigged equipment.


Rigged equipment is checked at the departure airfield to ensure that items such as rucksacks, weapons, and bundles are properly rigged. This can save the time it would take a parachutist to rerig his equipment. The equipment is quickly checked during parachute issue.


The jumpmaster personnel inspection is held while parachutists rig. Because individual rigging is completed at different times, care must be taken to maintain the exit sequence. If this is not done, cross loading and unit assembly plans might be affected. (See FM 57-220 for more detailed information.)


The jumpmaster, accompanied by the USAF loadmaster, inspects the aircraft and coordinates any activities peculiar to the airborne operation. He checks the inside and outside of the aircraft. (See FM 57-220 for more detailed information.)

a. In parachute aircraft, airborne representatives check --

  • Coverings on protruding objects that might be dangerous to parachutists.
  • Aerial delivery system, including the release mechanism.
  • Anchor line cable.
  • Static line retrieval system.
  • Parachute doors.
  • Air deflector/air spoiler.
  • Jump platforms.
  • Warning and jump signals.
  • Seats and safety belts.
  • Locations and number of auxiliary exits, first-aid kits, air sickness bags, and ear plugs.
  • Stowage of loose equipment in the cargo compartment.
  • Ditching equipment and emergency bell.
  • Location and condition of latrines.

b. In airlanding aircraft, airborne soldiers check items listed for parachute aircraft and inspect-

  • The cargo tie-down system.
  • Floors for strength, load spreaders, and treadways.
  • Loading ramps.
  • Cargo doors for their locations, size, and operation.

c. The pilot and the airborne representative jointly inspect after the equipment and supplies are loaded. The aerial delivery system on parachute aircraft is checked for proper rigging. Weight and balance figures are rechecked for safety. The cargo tie-down system and the ACL are also checked.

d. Just before the soldiers enplane, a final joint check is made to ensure that the aircraft is properly loaded and ready for takeoff.


The marshaling plan should call for detailed inspections of equipment aided by maintenance personnel from the supporting MACG. This ensures that all items of equipment are in the best possible condition before rigging or loading. All rigged loads, low velocity or LAPES, must be inspected to ensure that they, and the equipment used on them, are assembled and installed to meet the criteria outlined in the rigging manuals. The types of inspections are discussed herein.

a. First Inspection. This type of inspection must be performed on a rigged load before it leaves the rigging site. It must be conducted by a qualified parachute rigger supervisor other than the one supervising the installation of parachutes and extraction systems.

b. Before-Loading Inspection. This type of inspection must be performed on a rigged load before it is loaded into the aircraft. It must be held jointly by school-certified inspectors from the unit supplying the equipment to be dropped, the aerial port loading the equipment, and the aircrew loadmaster dropping the equipment.

NOTES: 1. School-certified inspectors must have successfully completed the Airdrop Load Inspector Certification Course of the US Army Quartermaster School.

2. DD Forms 1748 or 1748-1 is used to perform and record the before- and after-loading inspections according to AR 59-4/AFR 55-40/OPNAVIST 4630.24B/MCO 13480.1B.

c. After-Loading Inspection. This type of inspection must be performed on a load after it has been loaded and rigged in the aircraft. It must be held jointly by school-certified inspectors from the unit supplying the equipment being dropped, the aerial port loading the equipment, and the aircrew loadmaster dropping the equipment. This inspection is not done by inspectors that performed the before-loading inspection.


Rehearsals are always conducted and are vital to mission accomplishment. Specialized training of ground forces and aircrews is required for some missions.


As soon as an airborne unit receives a planning directive for an assault landing, all unit training is aimed at preparing the soldiers for that operation.

a. Analysis of Mission, Enemy, and Terrain. An analysis of the unit mission, the enemy situation, and the terrain in the objective area reveal the problems that will confront the unit after it lands.

b. Review of Training Program. A review of the training program will show what specific operational training the unit needs to improve its combat efficiency for the operation. To add realism, training areas are selected that resemble the objective area. Mock-ups are made of the installations, obstacles, landmarks, and enemy defenses in the objective area.

c. Specialized Training. All units, including platoons and squads, receive specialized combat training for the type of fighting and equipment their mission requires, and training on enemy vehicles and equipment, For example, when the unit must capture a town or village, it receives intensive training in house-to-house and street fighting for a night operation, the unit receives night training. Techniques of air movement, landing and reorganization are also trained after landing. As the detailed plan develops, however, specialized or refresher training is given on the methods or techniques to be used in the coming operation. This training includes the following:

(1) Packing of equipment containers.

(2) Loading of personnel and equipment into aircraft, especially when previous training has not included that type of aircraft.

(3) Parachute drops and assault transport landings under the expected combat conditions.

(4) Use of assembly aids.

(5) Prejump training for parachutists.


Before marshaling, units are trained to use the aircraft that will transport them, including loading and ditching techniques and flight safety rules. If training in loading and air movement techniques has not been completed, units will receive more training during marshaling. Sometimes, an unfamiliar type of aircraft will be used, or a known type of airlift aircraft will have new or modified equipment. This could include tie-down devices, loading ramps, cargo doors, light and bell signals, ditching gear, or aerial delivery systems. Units may have to marshal for an airborne assault without recent training in airborne techniques. When airborne soldiers need special training in loading and air movement, the airborne and airlift commanders at the departure airfield prepare a training program together.


Because speed and precision are important in airborne operations, every detail of the OPLAN should be rehearsed, especially for night operations. Lack of equipment or training can limit the scale of the rehearsal or create artificial conditions. Rehearsals should be like the operation. They are held from squad to the highest level allowed by time and facilities. Because rehearsals may cause a breach of security, division and higher commanders control the conditions under which they are held.

a. The complex nature of airborne operations requires cooperation, coordination, and rehearsals between the participating services. Early planning ensures that the following are available:

  • Airlift aircraft.
  • Suitable training areas.
  • Critical items of equipment to replace those damaged or lost.
  • Replacements for casualties sustained during rehearsals.

b. Problems (inherent to airborne operations) that can be rehearsed are listed by priority, not by sequence. During these rehearsals, airborne forces should combine into combat teams exactly as they will in the ground operation. These rehearsals can include the following

(1) Execution of the tactical plan.

(2) Communications procedures for the ground attack and en route.

(3) Assembly and reorganization after landing. (This can be rehearsed by "tailgating" ground transportation.)

(4) Loading of aircraft IAW Air Force balancing procedures and requirements.

(5) Landing and unloading procedures for airland assault aircraft, including actions of the AACG.

(6) Supply and casualty evacuation after landing.

(7) Marshaling procedures.

c. If it is not possible to stage operational rehearsals, a thorough CPX should be held under field conditions similar to those in the projected combat area. Few, if any, restrictions apply for the holding of a CPX on the highest level. Command post exercises should be conducted for all echelons, including airlift forces.

d. A joint critique should be held after battalion and larger-scale airborne rehearsals. Lower echelons should be rated even if time prohibits the joint critique.


The following are included in rehearsals of airlift forces.

  • Inspection, maintenance, and servicing of all aircraft.
  • Takeoff and assembly procedures.
  • Close formation and low-level flying in both daylight and darkness.
  • Use of instruments and navigational aids, including ways to employ the JAAP.
  • Assembly of aircraft at departure bases IAW the aircraft parking plan.

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