Win the adventure of a lifetime!

UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!




After the air movement plan has been developed, briefed back refined (if necessary), and approved, the next plan to be developed is the marshaling plan; it supports the previous three plans. The tactical, landing, and air movement plans are used to determine the number of personnel and vehicles to be stationed at or moved through each airfield. The marshaling plan provides the necessary information and procedures by which units of the airborne force complete final preparations for combat, move to departure airfields, and load the aircraft. It also provides detailed instructions for facilities and services needed during marshaling. The procedures in this chapter assist airborne commanders and staffs in planning for marshaling and CSS.


The marshaling plan appears as an appendix to the service support annex of the airborne force OPORD or as an annex to an administrative/logistics order. The S4 is the principal assistant to the commander for the marshaling plans of specific units. Marshaling begins when elements of the force are literally sealed in marshaling areas and it terminates at loading. The procedures are designed to facilitate a quick, orderly launching of an airborne assault under maximum security conditions in the minimum possible time.


Units complete the following preparations before marshaling -- especially for airdrops. Last-minute marshaling activities include briefing personnel, inspecting, preparing airdrop containers, issuing rations and ammunition, and resting.

a. N-Hour Sequence. As soon as a unit is notified of an airborne operation, it begins the reverse planning necessary to have the first assault aircraft en route to the objective area in 18 hours. The N-hour sequence (see Appendix G) contains the troop-leading actions that must take place within a flexible schedule, ensuring that the unit is prepared and correctly equipped to conduct combat operations on arrival.

b. Rehearsals. Rehearsals are always conducted at every echelon of command. They identify potential weaknesses in execution and enhance understanding and synchronization. Full-scale rehearsals are the goal, but time constraints may limit them. (For additional information, refer to FM 7-20.)

c. Assembly, Inspection. and Maintenance. As soon as practicable, units assemble the equipment and supplies that are to accompany them to the objective area. Inspections are held to determine the status of equipment. Maintenance is performed; parachutes, aerial delivery containers, and heavy-drop loads are prepared. Commanders and leaders brief soldiers, and rations and ammunition are issued. The soldiers should eat when time permits.

d. Storage of Unneeded Items. Individual clothing and equipment and unit equipment not needed in the objective area are packed in suitable containers and stored with the rear echelon or rear detachment.


Unit marshaling areas should be located near departure airfields to limit movement. Higher headquarters can either control the movement to the marshaling area completely, or it can get a copy of the march table and use it to control the traffic out of the AA, along the route of march, and into the marshaling area. Advance parties assign soldiers to areas.

a. Movement Resources and Requirements. The S4 of the unit to be marshaled notifies higher headquarters on the number of organic vehicles that the unit can furnish to move its personnel and equipment to the marshaling areas. This information and the personnel list furnished by the S3 must be available early enough during planning to procure any other transportation required for the movement.

b. Airfield Marshaling Areas. When marshaling areas are on airfields, they are temporarily placed at the disposal of the airborne unit's higher headquarters. The air base commander's permission is obtained by the tactical units that must conduct activities outside of the camp area.

c. Parachute Issue and Rigging. Parachute issue and rigging may be conducted on the ramp, alongside the aircraft, or in-flight.

(1) Ramp side advantages are as follows:

  • Reduces the parachute supply problem.
  • Efficient use of personnel.
  • Supply accountability.

(2) Ramp side disadvantages are as follows:

  • Parachutists may require transportation to the aircraft.
  • Parachutists are rigged for a greater period of time.

(3) Plane side advantages are as follows:

  • Parachutists are not required to walk while rigged.
  • Decentralized execution reduces rigging time.

(4) Plane side disadvantages are as follows:

  • Parachutes must be transported to the aircraft.
  • Rigging process may impede other activities.

(5) In-flight advantages are as follows:

  • Prevents fatigue during long flights.
  • Provides more time for rehearsals and inspections.

(6) In-flight disadvantages are as follows:

  • Reduces the number of parachutists that an aircraft can carry.
  • Requires loading of parachutes on the aircraft.


Uncommitted airborne forces pose a strategic or operational threat to the enemy. Concentration of forces during marshaling should be avoided to keep impending operations secret and to deny lucrative targets to the enemy. Dispersal techniques include the following:

a. Move. Units move rapidly under cover of darkness to dispersed marshaling areas near air facilities.

b. Control. Commanders control movement to loading sites so most personnel arrive after the equipment and supplies are loaded on the aircraft.

c. Prepare. Commanders prepare for loading before arrival at the loading site.

d. Avoid. Commanders avoid assembling more than 50 percent of a brigade at a single point at any time.


The degree of dispersal is based on an intimate knowledge of the operation's problems and what is best for the overall operation. Regardless of the dispersed loading procedures, the airlift commander ensures that aircraft arrive over the objective area in the order required by the air movement plan. Depending on the situation, one of the following dispersed loading procedures is used:

a. Movement to Departure Air Facilities. Airborne personnel and equipment are moved to departure air facilities where airlift aircraft maybe dispersed.

b. Movement to Intermediate Staging Base. Before the mission, airlift aircraft fly to an ISB to pick up airborne personnel and equipment. Personnel and equipment are airlifted to dispersed departure airfields; the mission originates from these facilities.

c. Combination of Procedures. Airlift aircraft fly to ISBs for the equipment before the mission. The equipment is airlifted to the dispersed departure airfields and the mission originates from these facilities, or airlift aircraft stop en route at ISBs to pick up personnel. Crews load aircraft quickly, so the fewest possible aircraft are at the ISB at one time.


Departure airfield selection is based on the proposed air movement and the capability of airfields to handle the traffic. Loading sites near departure airfields are designated after the selection of departure airfields. For any specific situation or operation, one or a combination of the following factors can determine the selection:

  • Mission.
  • Airfields (number required, location, and type).
  • Runway length and weight-bearing capacity.
  • Communications facilities.
  • Navigational aids and airfield lighting.
  • Location of participating units and marshaling areas.
  • Radius of action required.
  • Vulnerability to enemy action, including NBC.
  • Other tactical air support available or required.
  • Logistical support available, required, or both.
  • Facilities for reception of personnel and cargo.
  • Facilities for loading and unloading of personnel and cargo.
  • Facilities for dispatch of personnel and cargo.

NOTE: While dispersion is necessary to avoid the effects of nuclear weapons, excessive dispersion increases control problems and can diminish the effectiveness of other supporting ground and air operations.


The marshaling area is a scaled area with facilities for the final preparation of soldiers for combat Commanders select marshaling camps within the marshaling area based on the air movement plan and other considerations. Another way to avoid concentration of personnel is to time-phase the movement of soldiers from their home bases through the marshaling area to the departure airfield, minimizing the buildup of forces. After choosing the marshaling areas and departure airfields, choose loading sites near the airfields.

a. Selection. The following factors are considered when selecting marshaling areas.

  • Distance to airfield(s).
  • Time available.
  • Existing facilities.
  • Availability of personnel and materials for construction.
  • Availability/access of maneuver and training areas.
  • Communications requirements.
  • Briefing facilities.
  • Location of participating units.
  • Security/vulnerability to enemy action.
  • Logistical support available or required.

b. Assignment. In the marshaling plan, the S4 (in coordination with the S3) assigns units to marshaling areas near the departure airfields the units will use. Every effort should be made to locate the areas as closely as possible to departure airfields to reduce movement time between them; it also reduces the requirement for vehicles.

c. Operation. The airborne forces' higher commander is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the marshaling areas.

(1) Operating detachments and necessary equipment are provided for each camp. These detachments furnish signal communications, transportation, medical, and postal services. They also operate mess facilities and utilities.

(2) Personnel from the units being marshaled or from follow-on units of the airborne force can assist in the operation of the camps if it does not interfere with their preparations for the airborne operation. Equipment from these units cannot be used because it must be packed and loaded for movement to the objective area.

(3) Small stocks of supplies and equipment of all services are maintained at each camp to fill last-minute shortages of the units being marshaled. Service maintenance support is furnished as required.

(4) The number of personnel required to support operation and maintenance of marshaling areas varies. Based on past experience, about 10 percent of the number of personnel being marshaled is required for supporting services.


Commanders can use this information as a guide to the selection and modification of existing facilities for brigade TF use. Figure 6-1 shows a typical marshaling area layout for a brigade-size unit that needs about 100 acres.

a. Task Force Camp. The brigade or battalion (task-organized for the mission) and a MACG occupy a brigade TF camp. If no facilities exist, support elements must construct the camps.

b. Camp Specifications. The brigade TF camp should be near a departure airfield and large enough to support the brigade, its attachments, and supporting personnel. The MACG supports the marshaling requirements of the brigade camp. Each brigade camp has a site for rigging the brigade's equipment for air delivery (airland, airdrop, and LAPES).

c. Camp Security. The camp itself should be surrounded by security fencing or, at least, triple-strand concertina. It should have a posted security zone outside the perimeter that is at least 50 meters wide and cleared of brush and trees. If available, lights should be used to illuminate the security zone. Gates to the camp should be two lanes wide to accommodate heavy traffic.

d. Billeting. Quarters, unit headquarters, messes, supply rooms, and latrines should be constructed and allocated to maintain unit integrity.

(1) Bivouac site. If billets are not available, a bivouac site can be prepared with tents laid out in company streets. (See FM 101-10-1/2 and CTA 50-909.)

(2) Mess facilities. FM 101-10-1/2 provides the guidelines for determining mess hall size.

(3) Latrine areas. There should be enough latrines to serve at least 4 percent of the male soldiers and 6 percent of the expected female soldiers. Latrines should be built at least 100 yards downwind from food service facilities to prevent contamination of food and water. They need to be 30 yards from the end of the unit area, but within a reasonable distance for easy access.

(4) Shower facilities. Enough shower facilities should be provided to support the size force in the marshaling area.

e. Rigging. The airborne force requires facilities for rigging heavy-drop equipment, CDS, and LAPES platform loads. Although equipment can be rigged outdoors, it should be rigged in a large building, such as a hangar, where it is protected from weather. The following facilities are needed to out-load:

(1) Loading area control center. The LACC is provided for the initial preparation of vehicles for heavy drop, LAPES, or airland. It should have a 10-foot by 20-foot area for each vehicle and a 20-foot-wide area between rows for maintenance. A large area must be provided on either side of the LACC for maneuverability within the LACC for maintenance or other vehicles. Figure 6-2 shows an example LACC for heavy-drop rigging.

(2) Rigging sites. The rigging site shown in Figure 6-3 accommodates the rigging and outloading of about 50 platforms in a 24-hour period, depending on the availability of trained personnel, equipment, and supplies. The rigging site uses an assembly line rigging technique. Riggers can operate as many lanes as required (with augmentation and as available space allows), although four are provided in this example.

(a) Lanes. Each lane has five rigging stations, one for each of the following:

  • Vehicle preparation.
  • Platform preparation and load positioning.
  • Lashing installation.
  • Parachutes and extraction system.
  • Joint Army/Air Force load inspection.

(b) Personnel. Each rigging site requires about 240 support personnel and 60 riggers (two shifts), Support personnel typically include:

  • One OIC for each rigging site.
  • Two warrant officers (MOS 921A) for each rigging site.
  • Twenty-five support personnel for each rigging lane.
  • Twenty support personnel for each platform outload at a rigging site.
  • Each site requires 30 riggers, plus 1 for each rigging station, 2 for each joint airlift inspection station, and 1 for each outload station.
  • One ammunition specialist (MOS 55B) for each rigging site.

(c) Equipment. The following items of equipment are usually required to load equipment on platforms and to load platforms on vehicles for transportation to the departure airfield:

  • Four 14-ton air-transportable cranes.
  • One 40-ton crane.
  • Two 5-ton wreckers.
  • Ten 10-ton M172 semitrailers and tractors.
  • One 6,000-pound, rough-terrain forklift.
  • One 10,000-pound rough-terrain forklift.
  • Five tractors and trailers for hauling air items.
  • Trailers with ammunition for ballast.

(d) Rigging areas. A 75- by 110-meter area (roughly) is required for the rigging area itself. The ground surface should be clear, level, and compact. Each assembly line is about 25 feet wide by 110 feet long; it has at least a 30-foot gap between lanes to allow for vehicular movement Each line requires a foundation of 2-inch by 10- or 12-inch planks by 25-feet-long planks; it is laid side by side every 5 feet to support the roller conveyors (if a hardstand is not available). Space is reserved at the beginning of each lane to pack ammunition and other supplies onto vehicles and at the end of each lane to operate the loading equipment.

(E) Holding areas. Holding areas for rigging supplies are provided on either side of the rigging site for delivering and unloading rigging supplies. (Figure 6-4.) Enough space must be provided to drive through and park the trucks delivering materials to this site.


The staff of the unit to be marshaled advises the MACG, through a liaison officer or by personal contact, of the requirements for the deploying unit at the marshaling areas. Support units provide their services until the assault force departs and the marshaling areas close.

a. Staff Members and Duties. Staff members of the marshaling unit perform specific duties as follows:

(1) The S1 requisitions replacements, requests recreational facilities, and coordinates medical support.

(2) The S2 coordinates security and deception measures to ensure secrecy.

(3) The S3 submits the personnel roster and outlines training, briefing, and rehearsal requirements.

(4) The S4 identifies the deploying unit's requirements for supply, maintenance, transportation, and storage facilities.

(5) The staff makes all arrangements far enough in advance of the marshaling period to enable support personnel to procure the facilities and install them where necessary.

b. Support Agencies. When the divisional airborne brigade deploys and the marshaling areas close, the division support command acts as the provisional logistical unit at the home station. The theater commander responsible for the AO provides the provisional logistical support unit for the ISB. If a support unit cannot pre-position at the ISB, a support unit from the home station command is included in the advance party. Marshaling control agencies assist the airborne and airlift force in the execution of the operation.

(1) Marshaling area control group. To enable the majority of the airborne force to concentrate on preparing for planned operations, support agencies are designated by division headquarters to provide most of the administrative and logistical support. These nonorganic units and certain organic units not participating in the airborne assault are organized into a provisional unit known as the MACG. The MACG commander is the principal logistical operator for the deploying force; he executes the logistical plan. Typical assistance provided by this unit includes:

  • Transportation.
  • All classes of supply.
  • Communications.
  • Campsite(s) construction, operation, and maintenance.
  • Messing.
  • Maintenance.
  • Rigging.
  • Recreation and other morale services.
  • Local security personnel to augment the Air Force, when required.
  • Health service support.

(2) Airlift control element. The ALCE coordinates and maintains operational control of all airlift aircraft while they are on the ground at the designated airfield. This includes aircraft and load-movement control and reporting, communications, loading and off-loading teams, aeromedical activities, and coordination with interested agencies. The ALCE's support function includes activities that relate to the airfield. Typical tasks for this Air Force unit include:

(a) Support and control exercises and contingency operations, as defined in MAC and TAC manuals and mission directives, on both a planned and a no-notice basis.

(b) Conduct around-the-clock operations to provide supervisory control and to ensure effective use of the tactical airlift force on assigned missions.

(c) Direct, execute, and coordinate mission directives, plans, and orders assigned.

(d) Distribute completed loading manifests as required.

(e) Furnish copies of the aircraft parking plan to support units.

(f) Coordinate loading of aircraft.

(g) Coordinate disposition of Army equipment and personnel remaining behind or returning because of aborted sorties.

(h) Ensure that appropriate and adequate briefings for Army and AF personnel are conducted.

(i) Coordinate flight clearances.

(j) Coordinate configuration of aircraft.

(k) Schedule and coordinate proper AF coverage of assault LZs, DZs, and EZs.

(l) Schedule and publish air movement tables for supported units.

(m) Provide or arrange weather support for the mission.

(3) Departure airfield control group. The DACG ensures that Army units and their supplies and equipment are moved from the marshaling area and loaded IAW the air movement plan. Timing is critical at this point in the operation -- strict control of both air and ground traffic must be maintained on and across active runways.

(4) Arrival airfield control group. The organization of the AACG is similar to the DACG. When personnel, supplies, and equipment are arriving on aircraft and need to be moved to marshaling camps or holding areas, the AACG is responsible for offloading them. Like the DACG, the AACG works closely with the ALCE unit at the arrival airfield.


Complex outload operations are more difficult because they are usually conducted at night under blackout conditions.


Since most or all of the airborne units' vehicles are rigged for air delivery, airborne units must rely on the supporting unit for transportation during outload. These requirements are closely related to and dictated by the loading plans developed for the operation.

a. Contents of Loading Plan. Loading preparations are included in the marshaling plan. Loading plans outline the procedures for moving personnel and heavy-drop loads from the alert holding area to plane side. They also outline the use of available materiels-handling equipment. The loading plans are closely coordinated with the supporting airlift units.

b. Formulation of Loading Plan. A loading plan is formulated at joint conferences. It contains information about the number of personnel and the amount of equipment to be airlifted, ACLs, and the general sequence of movement.

c. Adherence to Loading Plan. Strict adherence to the loading timetable is mandatory. The loading of equipment and supplies must be completed in time to permit postloading inspection, joint pretakeoff briefing, and personnel loading by the designated station time.

d. Loading Responsibilities. The general delineations of loading responsibilities in connection with the airborne operation are as follows:

(1) Airlift commander. He --

(a) Develops plans for specific loads and the sequence of movement in conjunction with the unit being moved.

(b) Establishes and disseminates instructions for documenting and manifesting all cargo and personnel.

(c) Provides instructions for loading and unloading aircraft and for cargo tie-down.

(d) Parks aircraft IAW the parking plan.

(e) Provides loading ramps, floor conveyors, tie-downs, load spreaders, and other auxiliary equipment such as operation ejection equipment.

(f) Prepares aircraft for ejection of cargo and for the safe exit of parachutists from aircraft in flight. Cargo to be ejected in flight is tied down by Air Force personnel.

(g) Ensures that an Air Force representative is present to provide technical assistance and to supervise the loading unit during the loading operations of each aircraft.

(h) Verifies documentation of personnel and equipment.

(i) Furnishes and operates materiels-handling equipment required in aircraft loading and unloading if the Army unit needs it.

(2) Airborne commander. He --

(a) Establishes the priority and sequence for movement of airborne personnel, equipment, and supplies.

(b) Prepares cargo for airdrop, airland, or extraction IAW applicable safety instructions.

(c) Marks each item of equipment to show its weight and cubage and, when appropriate, to show the center of gravity. Ensures hazardous cargo is properly annotated on DD Form 1387-2 IAW TM 38-250.

(d) Documents and manifests all loads of Army personnel, equipment, or both.

(e) Directs and monitors movement of ground traffic to the departure airfield or loading area, and accepts delivery at the destination.

(f) Delivers properly rigged supplies and equipment to the aircraft IAW the loading plan.

(g) Loads, ties down, and unloads accompanying supplies and equipment into and from the aircraft with technical assistance from a representative of the Air Force. Cargo to be ejected in flight is tied down and ejected by AF personnel. (Exception is made in the case of containers of supplies and equipment that are pushed from the jump exits by paratroopers immediately before their exit from the aircraft.)

(h) Ensures that Army personnel are seated aboard aircraft, are properly equipped, and have their safety belts fastened by station time.

(i) Briefs and supervises Army vehicle operators to ensure that the operators thoroughly comprehend airfield vehicular traffic procedures and pertinent safety precautions before they operate vehicles around aircraft.

(j) Provides vehicles and loading personnel to outload Army personnel and cargo from aborting aircraft and reload them on spare aircraft if time permits.


A control system at arrival airfields is essential to prevent congestion and to facilitate orderly movement of cargo and personnel.

a. Parking. The main parking consideration is loading access. Dispersal must provide the most security possible with the least possible vulnerability and, at the same time, allow maneuvering room for loading the equipment.

(1) Chalk number. To facilitate identification of individual aircraft during loading, all aircraft are given a chalk number IAW the parking plan. The displayed chalk number should be readily discernible to personnel approaching the aircraft.

(2) Parking plan. The airlift force commander furnishes the airborne unit commander with an accurate parking plan to include airfield layout, location of aircraft by chalk number, location of standby aircraft, and access route(s).

b. Controlling Traffic. A traffic control system is essential to avoid congestion at loading and unloading sites. In outloading, any force control is accomplished by using a call-forward system in which loads are brought into the loading area as required. The following control system outline applies to airlanding facilities as well as airfields. (Figure 6-5.) The system provides a separate loading facility for personnel, heavy-drop loads, and aerial supply. The separation is essential to control loading and decrease the time required to load. The airfield control system is set up with the minimum required personnel and communications equipment, and with regard to the size of the forces being moved.

c. Loading Procedures. The actual outload is complex and requires close supervision to ensure all equipment and personnel are loaded on the correct aircraft as quickly and efficiently as possible.

(1) Initially, personnel and equipment are dispersed in marshaling areas distant from the loading airfields, but in close communication with control groups at the airfields.

(2) When called, the unit or equipment is moved by planeload to the call-forward area. The fewest possible planeload are maintained on hand in the call-forward area to ensure uninterrupted loading. Guides and military police are used as required.

(3) As aircraft arrive in the loading area, planeload are called forward; unit members load and tie equipment down with the technical assistance of Air Force personnel.

(4) Control personnel maintain a log listing the departure of each aircraft. It contains the following information:

  • Aircraft tail number.
  • Summary of load or unit load number. (Manifests are correlated with this entry.)
  • Time aircraft was available for loading.
  • Station time.
  • Takeoff time.
  • Remarks.

d. Unloading Procedures. At arrival airfields, the control system is the reverse of that used at departure airfields. On arrival, crews unload aircraft and move the loads to dispersed holding areas where arriving elements build up to convenient size for further movements. Crews keep load categories separated to facilitate control and movement.

Join the mailing list