Combat Service Support
Combat service support for air assault operations must be planned, organized, and executed to support a rapid tempo in highly mobile and widely dispersed operations. The traditional doctrinal distances and responsiblities do not always apply to air assault operations. The air assault logistical planner must recognize this from the outset and be prepared to adapt and innovate with the resources at hand. Just as the AATF is tailored for combat operations by air, the logistical system must be tailored to support by air and is therefore dependent upon considerable outside support.
6-2. Air assault task force S4.
a. It is imperative that the AATF S4 be involved in the planning of air assault operations from the initial stages onward. This ensures that all facets and constraints of logistical support are considered, and provides the lead time necessary to organize and position those units and resources that are required to support the mission.
b. The S4 and the S3 must coordinate closely and continuously throughout any air assault operation. Both must share the same resource for moving combat power and sustaining assets - the helicopter.
c. To organize CSS for air assault operations, the logistical planner must know:
(1) The task force mission.
(2) The concept and duration of the operation.
(3) The task organization to include densities of-
(b) Weapon systems by type.
(c) Equipment by type.
(d) Aircraft by type.
d. He must also consider the impact of the following:
(1) Enemy situation.
(4) Reliance on air lines of communications.
(5) Great distances between supporting and supported units.
(6) Large ammunition and aviation fuel consumption rates.
e. The prudent air assault logistical planner will ensure that CSS is provided, not only for his organic and attached elements, but also for DS or OPCON units. Although the AATF does not have the inherent responsibility for CSS to OPCON, DS, or GS units, it does have the responsibility to ensure that CSS is coordinated for the supporting unit(s). The coordination expressly designates who provides CSS throughout the operation. When a large attachment joins the AATF, the attachment should bring appropriate amounts of its own CSS assets from its parent unit. These assets are controlled by the AATF administrative logistics center to provide coordinated CSS to the attached unit.
COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT ORGANIZATION
a. The AATF is supported by both organic and external elements organized to push supplies, materiel, fuel, and ammunition forward by air.
b. A brigade-size AATF must rely on the forward area support team (FAST) or the forward support battalion (FSB) to support the operation. When the AATF is organized around an infantry battalion nucleus, a task-organized forward service support element may be dedicated to supporting the air assault operation.
c. A battalion AATF FSSE would typically consist of.-
(1) Medical support - a light shocks section.
(2) Maintenance contact teams for communications, automotive, armament, and recovery.
(3) Class III (ground) and Class V support sections.
d. The exact organization and disposition of CSS elements is a function of the AATF's mission and anticipated follow-on operations. Normally, two options for organizing and positioning CSS elements prevail:
(1) If the AATF anticipates being extracted from the objective area following mission completion, unit trains and supporting CSS elements are not normally displaced forward but remain in the brigade support area (BSA) or other rear area.
(2) If the AATF is to remain in the air assault objective area to link up with other forces, or to conduct extensive follow-on operations, CSS elements would initially be provided by moving FSSEs and combat trains forward when the enemy situation permits.
6-4. Air assault task force trains.
a. The trains for all AATF elements must be organized, located, and controlled so as to facilitate the consolidation, packaging, and air movement of support packages configured to unit size (normally company or platoon).
b. The organization of trains varies with the mission assigned the AATF and the CS and CSS available. Trains may be centralized in one location (unit trains), or they may be echeloned in two or more locations (echeloned trains). It is normally appropriate to centralize all AATF logistical assets at one location as unit trains under the control of the AATF S4. This provides ease of coordination, control, and security of logistical assets, and allows for the most efficient use of logistical support helicopters.
c. Echeloned trains are normally only used when operations extend over vast distances such as might be expected in the delay or during an economy-of-force or security mission. The AATFC would normally elect to echelon his trains when he feels that CSS must be collocated with maneuver units to provide immediate, dedicated support.
d. The AATF commander normally moves only essential support elements to the objective area.
6-5. Command, control, and communications (C3).
a. The AATF SI and S4, under the direction of the AATF executive officer (XO), operate the administrative and logistics center and have overall responsibility for CSS command and control.
b. Timely and effective CSS depends on a good communications system. At AATF level, CSS communication may be by radio, courier, or radio teletypewriter (RATT). The AATF administrative and logistics center radio net is used for most administrative and logistic traffic. For lengthy administrative and logistical reports, messenger or RATT should be used. "As of" and "due" times for reports at all levels should take this into consideration, allowing more time for long reports to be delivered by messenger.
c. The administrative and logistics center is the net control station (NCS) for the administrative and logistics net. The S4, SI, headquarters company commander, maintenance officer, support platoon leader, medical platoon leader, company first sergeants, and others as required, operate in the administrative and logistics net.
d. When FM radio communication over the AATF administrative and logistics net is not possible, due to the distance between stations, hard copy messages are sent with resupply or evacuation aircraft.
6-6. Helicopter external load operations.
a. Transporting supplies and equipment by helicopter external (sling) load has the advantage of rapidly moving heavy, outsized, or urgently needed items directly to the using unit. The logistical planner can enhance the sustainment of the AATF by planning well in advance for slingload operations and by understanding the limitations imposed by external load operations.
b. External load limitations to be considered:
(1) If a cargo is too light or bulky, it will not "fly" properly when suspended under the aircraft at cruise airspeeds.
(2) The external load must not exceed a helicopter's lift (under given atmospheric conditions) or hook capabilities (8,000 pounds for the UH-60).
(3) Airspeeds must be slower when helicopters carry external loads.
(4) Dust, sand, or snow, which would be blown during hover for pickup or delivery of cargo, may preclude safe external load operations.
(5) The higher altitudes, which must be flown with slingloads, may subject the aircraft to more ground fire.
(6) Extended hovering to pick up or deliver a slingload during darkness is inherently more dangerous than similar daylight operations.
(7) The availability of suitable slings, cargo nets, cargo bags, and other air delivery items may preclude or limit external load operations.
c. There are normally three different elements involved in a slingload mission: the supported unit, the aviation unit, and the receiving unit. The responsibilities and functions of each are:
(1) The supported unit (normally the AATF S4) is responsible for:
(a) Selecting, preparing, and controlling the PZ.
(b) Requisitioning all the equipment needed for slingload operations, including slings, A-22 bags, cargo nets, and containers.
(c) Storing, inspecting, and maintaining all slingload equipment.
(d) Providing a sufficient number of trained ground crews for rigging and inspecting all the loads, guiding the helicopters, hooking up the loads, and clearing the aircraft for departure.
(e) Securing and protecting sensitive items of supply and equipment.
(f) Providing load derigging and disposition instructions to the receiving unit.
(g) Providing disposition instructions to the receiving and aviation units for the slings, A-22 bags, cargo nets, and containers.
(2) The aviation unit is responsible for-.
(a) Effecting and/or establishing coordination with the supported and receiving units.
(b) Advising the supported unit on the limitations of the size and weight of the loads that may be rigged.
(c) Advising the supported and receiving units on the suitability of the selected PZs and/or LZs.
(d) Providing assistance for the recovery and return to the PZ of the slings, A-22 bags, cargo nets, and containers as required by the supported unit.
(e) Establishing safety procedures that will ensure uniformity and understanding of duties and responsibilities between the ground crew and flight crew.
(3) The receiving unit is responsible for:
(a) Selecting, preparing, and controlling the LZ.
(b) Having trained ground crews available to guide the aircraft in and derig the load.
(c) Coordinating with the supported (sending) unit for the control and return of the slings, A-22 bags, or any other items that belong to the supported unit, and returning them as soon as possible.
(d) Preparing, coordinating, and inspecting backloads, such as slings, A-22 bags, and so forth, and having them ready for hookup or loading.
d. See FM 55-450-1 for additional information on these procedures.
COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT EXECUTION
The AATF is normally configured to conduct the initial assault with one to three days of accompanying supplies to ensure some degree of self sustainment. When the enemy situation permits, resupply is accomplished by air on a routine basis to keep supplies at the one- to three-day level.
a. The most efficient method for conducting the resupply of forward AATF units is the logistics package (LOGPAC) method. A LOGPAC is a resupply element based on a day's logistics requirements for a company. It is organized in the unit trains by the company supply sergeant and the support platoon leader and prepared for air movement. The AATF SOP establishes the standard LOGPAC.
b. Supplies going forward from the trains move by methods that reduce loading and unloading times. Palletized or external slingloads reduce the ground-time vulnerability of aircraft because they can be unloaded quickly.
c. When preparing the loads, the S4 provides essential equipment and personnel (for example, hookup teams, ground guides, signalmen, slings, pallets, nylon webbing, chainlink slings, and clevises).
Maintenance involves inspecting, testing, servicing, repairing, requisitioning, rebuilding, recovering, and evacuating. The assault echelon is not normally accompanied by maintenance personnel. During air assault operations, repair above the operator level is accomplished in one of two ways:
a. Contact teams from organizational or support maintenance may be flown forward to effect immediate repair of critical equipment.
b. Deadlined and/or damaged equipment is evacuated by air.
6-10. Field and personnel support services.
These services for the soldier are an important part of the overall support effort and continue during air assault operations; however, these services are rarely part of an air assault operation. Rather, they are accomplished in a rear area outside the air assault area of operations.
6-11. Medical support.
a. Support. This is provided by the medical platoon and the medical section of the FSSE, when available. The support is planned by the AATF medical platoon leader and is addressed in the administrative and logistics annex to the OPORD to include:
(1) Location of far forward treatment sites.
(2) Ground and air evacuation plans and/or routes.
(3) Location of support hospitals.
(4) Communications instructions.
To adequately support the mission, the platoon leader should be included in all operational and/or tactical briefings.
b. Medical evacuation. The primary means for AATF medical evacuation is by medevac helicopter. Inflight medical care is essential for those patients whose condition is serious enough to require air evacuation. Medical evacuation crews will deliver patients to proper treatment facilities.
c. Control. There are two options for controlling medevac requests:
(1) Allow subordinate units to request medevac direct from the medical unit.
(2) Receiving and consolidating requests, establishing casualty priorities, and dispatching medevac aircraft.
d. Coordination. When possible, the AATF SI coordinates directly with the medevac unit commander or section leader. He provides the unit a complete copy of the AATF's CEOI, PZs, LZs, and flight route overlay. This makes it possible for the medevac helicopter pilot to establish radio contact on the internal radio net of the supported unit. This helps relieve congestion on the command radio net. When medevac communications take place at the AATF level, they are usually done on the administrative and logistics net. Since the medevac unit has the PZs, LZs, and flight routes, the AATF commander can direct medevac aircraft through his sector via a specific flight route. This lessens interference with ground operations, indirect fires, and TACAIR. A technique used in the employment of medevac helicopters is to have them trail the AATF while it is en route. This ensures that the helicopters are immediately available to take on wounded and ensures pilot familiarity with the route to the objective area. If evacuation is required later, faster response is possible.
e. Nuclear, biological, and chemical. In the event that contaminated casualties have to be evacuated by helicopter, the aircrew should be warned before actual pickup. When flying with these casualties, all personnel on the aircraft must be in appropriate mission-oriented protection posture (MOPP) and land downwind from the medical aid station after notifying the station of casualty status and the contaminating agent.
In addition to their assault and assault support roles, utility and medium (CH47) helicopters play an important role in providing CSS for the AATF. Helicopters are relied upon for movement of supplies, materiel, fuel, ammunition, maintenance contact, and for evacuation of damaged equipment.
AVIATION SUPPORT CONSIDERATIONS
Aviation units consume large amounts of fuel, ammunition, Class IX, and maintenance support during intensive air assault operations. Although aviation units are normally responsible for meeting their own unique logistical support requirements, the air assault logistical planner must be aware of the requirements, plan for them, and be prepared to assist as necessary.
6-14. Forward area rearming and refueling points.
Forward area rearming and refueling points are established by aviation units to provide for the rapid rearming and refueling necessary to sustain a fast pace. Forward area rearming and refueling points are:
a. Established in the vicinity of the ground unit exercising operational control (behind the FEBA, and out of range of enemy artillery).
b. Positioned to reduce turnaround time, thus optimizing helicopter availability, and repositioned frequently to avoid detection and destruction.
c. Fully mobile, using ground vehicles and helicopters.
d. Capable of operation within 30 minutes of installation and capable of redeployment within 30 minutes.
e. Capable of performing refueling and rearming operations rapidly and efficiently.
6-15. Aircraft maintenance and recovery.
a. Maintenance. Aircraft have substantial maintenance requirements. However, maintenance is kept to a minimum in the operational area. A method used to accomplish this, and still have responsive maintenance, is to have aircraft standing by to move maintenance contact teams where required. In addition, a maintenance aircraft and personnel may accompany the flight. If an aircraft has maintenance problems during movement, maintenance personnel may be able to repair it and save valuable aircraft operation time.
b. Recovery. If an aircraft is forced to land on enemy terrain due to mechanical problems or combat damage, every effort is made to protect the aircraft and crew until they can be evacuated. However, mission execution has priority over rescue and recovery operations. The AATF commander is notified immediately of any downed aircraft. He takes action to secure and recover the crew and aircraft with his resources or requests recovery by higher echelon. When an aircraft is downed, the senior occupant assumes command and establishes a defense of the area or organizes evasive action. If an aircraft is abandoned, steps are taken to destroy it to preclude its capture or the capture of sensitive equipment or documents. The level of authority required to destroy the aircraft is established in higher echelon SOPs (it may be covered in the OPORD). However, if capture is imminent, the aircraft, equipment, or documents should be destroyed. Recovery of a downed aircraft is accomplished by the aviation unit. The AATF commander may have to provide security for the recovery team.
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