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What the Heck is RSOI?

by CPT Donald Bernett , Fire Support Division Observer/Controller

"Force projection replaces forward defense as a more likely employment of Army elements..." --FM 100-5

The National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, CA, has begun training rotational brigades on how to conduct rapid force buildup as they deploy to the country of "Mojavia." Deployment to the NTC has been radically changed. There is no longer an administrative mindset when drawing equipment. The force buildup during this first week is now called Reception, Staging, and Onward Movement Integration (RSOI). This article is the first effort by the Fire Support Division at NTC to provide field artillery battalion commanders and staff with a definition of RSOI training intent and some Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) we have developed that may assist planning and execution.

RSOI is derived from FM 100-17 (28 Oct 92) Mobilization, Deployment, Redeployment, and Demobilization (MDRD). This FM provides Capstone doctrine for the development of Army policy for planning and executing MDRD operations. Doctrinally, deployments are conducted in five phases.

The five deployment phases include pre-deployment activities, movement to the Ports of Embarkation (POEs), strategic lift, theater reception, and theater onward movement. Pre-deployment activities are not new to armored and mechanized forces. These activities are deployment, individual and collective training and soldier readiness checks in preparation for the desired mission capability. The movement phase is the sequencing of units to the POE and the strategic lift phase begins with the departure from the POE to arrival in theater. The reception phase is the arrival and departure of forces at the POD. The onward movement phase begins with the linkup, configuration of forces, sustainment, and receipt of Pre-positioned War Reserve Stock (PWRS) at designated marshaling areas. This phase concludes with the arrival of forces at the gaining command's staging areas where combat preparation begins. This final phase is the focus of training during your deployment to Mojavia.

During the deployment process, commanders are concerned with the type of "Entry Operations" they will execute. Entry operations may or may not be in direct support of host nation or forward presence forces. Entry operations may be opposed or unopposed. Opposed entry requires combat operations to land deploying forces. Unopposed entry allows forces to peacefully deploy with the assistance of the host nation. Unopposed entry allows us to build combat capability, train and acclimate to the environment. This is the type of entry units face in Mojavia with the understanding that they may be required to assist the host nation if the situation rapidly changes from unopposed to opposed entry.

"Even as the commander begins entry operations, his main focus shifts to building up his capabilities in preparation for operations." --FM 100-5

Onward Movement

This phase requires a detailed plan to execute. The basic mission of all deploying units is to rapidly build combat-ready units (or sets). Arriving units must prepare combat sets for conduct of tactical operations to support the gaining commanders need to provide force protection and flexible response to enemy actions.

The concept of onward movement execution is to track the arrival of your personnel and equipment from the PODs and PWRS, and integrate this with Combat Service Support (CSS) requirements as rapidly as possible into mission-capable firing elements. In Mojavia you may be required to deploy firing elements (i.e., sections, platoons or batteries) to support a maneuver element before your whole battalion has completed its buildup. Your staff must be able to provide the brigade commander with a frequent, accurate assessment of what firing capability you currently possess. Accurate assessments, given all of the complexities of the deployment sequence, the draw of PWRS and the buildup of sustainment requirements, create a monumental challenge to units. Because there is little doctrinal guidance, units are forced to improvise a system to track and report their readiness progress.Onward Movement Planning

TABLE 1

"Tactical commanders must adapt to the nature of the deployment flow and prepare plans that rapidly build combat power." --FM 100-5

This "preparing of plans" is the focus of the TTP. Onward Movement week is the time to execute, not plan. The time to plan is before you even receive a deployment notification. The plan you write is a concept of how your unit will build combat power, in stages, until you are a fully mission-capable battalion. Because you cannot waste time, all leaders from section chief to battalion commander must understand their piece of the plan. This "base plan" provides definition of "combat-ready" requirements and sufficient detail to allow execution at section chief level.

For example, the S2 has a detailed list of what each battalion element must have for maps. The S4 has a detailed list from the plan of what each class of supply Unit Basic Load is for the battalion and each battery. The base plan includes section and vehicle load plans, and "combat-ready" PCC and PCI checklists. To make the base plan flexible, organize by "key considerations" which allow you to control combat power buildup as much as possible. Organize these requirements into a logic sequence of execution. For example, you must establish survey before you can declinate the aiming circles, so this may affect equipment priorities and timing of training events once you have arrived. (Do you need more CSS personnel first, such as, do mechanics have priority, and do they bring their tool boxes?) At the NTC we use the term "key considerations" from FM 100-5 and have tailored those from doctrine to apply to battalion-level units. The key considerations we use are:

Build Logistical Power. This is the interface with your brigade S4 and appropriate host-nation facilities for the equipment and supplies you will need for combat operations. Ensure that you coordinate closely with the brigade S4 so he understands what supplies are critical and in what sequence you need them. Your S4 personnel will have to work the pickup schedule hard because the schedule will change often.

This key consideration requires detailed UBLs for each class of supply. Examples of problems with UBLs stem from statements like "Class III (P): 15 days of supply" with no specific quantities by type down to individual battery level. To establish specifics, do a detailed analysis of each class of supply and use the commanders and staff to develop UBLs (don't leave it up to the S4 to determine on his own). For example, to establish the amount of Class IV you will require for a UBL, first determine how many fighting positions each battery requires and then develop a detailed listing of raw materials requirements into your plan.

Build Combat Power. To define this, the commander must determine the definition of what makes a firing platoon combat capable. (Note: The battalion commander should designate whether the base element are platoons or batteries.) The way we organized this consideration was to develop four categories: shoot, move, communicate, and sustain. Within these categories, we look at specific items and tasks a platoon (or larger element) must complete before being committed to combat operations. For example, one item under "shoot" is the execution of Fire Control Alignment Tests (FCATs). Under "sustain," we look at the receipt and quantity of classes of supply, establishment of PLL, ULLS operational, to name a few. This consideration must be very detailed, and convey with precision what must be accomplished and reported by each section chief. These standards must be known by all leaders. See Table 2.

COMBAT POWER BY BATTERY

MOVE COMMUNICATE
- COMPLETE VEHICLE DRAW - CONDUCT PMCS ON ALL COMMO EQUIP
- COMPLETE PMCS - CONDUCT LONG RANGE RADIO CHECKS--VOICE AND DIGITAL
- CLASS III BULK AND PACKAGE - DISTRIBUTE CURRENT SOI
- CONDUCT 100% ACCT OF PERS & EQUIP - SET FREQ AND LOAD SECURE
- CONDUCT AREA OF OPNS BRIEF - CHECK VEHICLE INTERCOM/CVCs
- CONDUCT EQUIPMENT UPLOAD
- MOUNT M-9 PAPER
- COMPLETE TLP
- CONDUCT PCC / PCI
SHOOTSUSTAIN
- CONDUCT FCAT- CONDUCT PMCS / FIX DEFICIENCIES
-AMMO DIST PLAN, INCLUDES SMALL ARMS- CHECK NBC MONITORING SYSTEM AND PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
- CONDUCT FUNCTIONS CHECKS ON CREW SERVED AND INDIVIDUAL WEAPONS- UPLOAD ALL CLASSES OF SUPPLY (CL I, III, IV, V, IX)
- CONDUCT ROE BRIEF- VERIFY LOAD PLANS
- CONDUCT THREAT BRIEF- ESTABLISH PLL
- CREW MANNING- CONDUCT TLP
- CHECK & LOAD FIRING BTRY & FIRE CONTROL EQUIPMENT- CONDUCT ULLS OPERATIONS
- CALIBRATION PLAN- INTEGRATE ATTACHMENTS
- DIST MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
- CONDUCT PCC / PCI

TABLE 2

Training. Unopposed entry is an excellent opportunity to train and rehearse individual and collective shortcomings and acclimate to the environment. Training requirements initially come from the METL (battery and battalion) and are adjusted according to METT-T. You must have a training plan prior to deploying from home station. Once you arrive in-country, prioritize your training requirements; in this way, you will ensure the unit is executing the most important tasks before hostilities commence. Reporting of training completed is a chain of command function, and the S3 should utilize the staff to monitor training accomplishment.

Intelligence. This is not only the daily tracking of the enemy situation, but also the rapid introduction to the host-nation policies (SOFA) and area of operations. S2 input is vital to understanding the probable operational requirements. The S2 must tailor intelligence data to meet the battalions needs. Create a system which battery commanders can use to quickly disseminate information to soldiers.

Force Protection. Conduct risk assessments. For example, the staging area in "Irwin City" is small and unpaved. A Brigade Combat Team worth of vehicles is moving in a very small area, creating a lot of dust and noise. Minimize the impact of physical security concerns on the unit's ability to issue COMSEC and weapons. These items must be checked as soon as possible and not kept locked up until the last minute. Delaying the issue of these items directly affects the load plan/PCC/PCI effort and the ability to accurately portray combat readiness.

Battle Command. The ability of commanders to respond to hostile actions is directly affected by execution of specific tasks and accurate reporting of unit status. Definitions of all items of interest must be detailed, understood, and trained. The entire staff (operations and logistics) should be fully utilized to track the status of all these key considerations and provide the commander with recommendations on how to adjust the plan to maximize the unit's current combat capability. Consolidate your staff personnel into one operations area, and have all reporting centralized. The staff should continually update status boards which effectively show the progress of each combat element. All too often, staffs are not utilized because everyone calls the Commander, XO and S3 directly on PRC-127s. Because the big three do not usually carry detail charts with them, they only get a portion of overall combat readiness. More trends are shown in Table 3.

TRENDS

PLANNING:
  • INADEQUATE INTEGRATION PROCESS: Do not have a good plan to integrate home-station equipment and drawn equipment to build combat-ready status.

  • INADEQUATE TRAINING PLANS: Do not have adequate training plans to ensure all systems and crews are checked out and rehearsed prior to moveout.

PREPARATION:

  • UNCLEAR DEFINITION OF COMBAT READY: Leaders have not developed the requirements a "set" must complete to be combat ready.

  • INADEQUATE DEPLOYMENT PCC/PCI PROCESS: Units are showing up with key items missing because of inadequate deployment checks and poor identification of required items to bring.

  • POOR SOP STANDARDIZATION: DIVARTY, battalion, and battery SOPs not detailed or standardized. SOPs rewritten and not field tested. SOPs are not fully disseminated and understood.

EXECUTION:

  • BATTALION STAFF NOT USED. BN TOC/ALOC personnel not involved in status tracking and combat power building.

  • OPERATIONS AND LOGISTICS NOT SYNCHRONIZED. S3s and S4s are tracking their individual functions. They are not synchronized to develop combat power efficiently.

TABLE 3

OPLAN/OPORD DEVELOPMENT

"...planning depends on the time available to accomplish...When time is not a critical factor, deliberate planning is used." --FM 100-17

Once this base plan is written, it can quickly be modified to specific contingencies. Once you know where you could be deployed to you can immediately begin to gather information which is factored into the plan. The base plan is modified to produce an OPLAN, such as OPLAN Mojavia. If possible, an advance party (OPLAN RECON) is sent to the area of operations to confirm what equipment and supplies you must bring and what is pre-positioned. With base plan in hand, the advance party immediately uses the checklists, load plans, and key considerations to understand what your probable combat capability timeline will be ( i.e., 36 hours to get the first platoon operational.) The OPLAN uses planning factors, and some assumptions on supply availability, to determine a timeline for when requirements will be executed. For example, a planning factor may be that the DYNCORPS PWRS yard is only open 0700 to 1700 daily. A timeline (or XXXX schedule) shows specific critical milestones, for example: H+24, declinate aiming circles; H+42, all M109A6s and CATVs are drawn; H+48, all gun sections will complete loading by load plan; H+54, conduct pre-combat inspections (PCIs) to determine if FCATs are completed to standard. Load plan checks may reveal significant differences between your vehicles and the PWRS, such as no built-up 2.5-ton trucks are available. This detail allows the FSCOORD to brief the brigade commander, with credible detail, on the time required to build combat-ready sets. Finally, the OPLAN Reconnaissance should produce detailed, revised pre-deployment checklists to ensure sections take what they need.

The ability to develop an OPLAN is ideal. An unknown contingency or sudden crisis will force you to modify the base plan accordingly. The process is essentially the same except time is compressed and you may go directly to an OPORD. Once deployment orders are issued, you convert the plan into an OPORD. Paragraphs 1 and 2 are updated with the latest (refined) mission and enemy situation. Paragraph 3 is finalized by inserting known date-time groups into the XXXX schedule to create the execution timeline.

Execution

Detailed planning and tracking of RSOI execution are critical to success. Deployment can be haphazard, leaders are staggered into theater, subordinate leaders must be able to refer to a OPLAN or OPORD so they can execute, with confidence, the commander's intent. Decentralized execution is the norm, but the staff must actively seek critical information. The staff must develop a tracking system which will show the battalions combat capability continually. This system shows the integration of home-station and pre-positioned equipment, the current and projected status of CSS requirements and can show a near-term ( ~ 6 hours ) projection of the number of combat-ready sets.

In summary, expand upon the definition of combat ready, create a concept of building combat power all leaders understand and then support it with detail planning that will facilitate decentralized execution. Deployment to the NTC is not business as usual. We have broken the "administrative vehicle draw at the NTC" mindset. The RSOI progress will improve the deployability of all FORSCOM units and ensure all leaders understand and are more capable of executing any deployment mission.

"The enemy may attack unexpectedly before deployment is complete. This may cause some commanders to fight without their entire complement of forces present." --FM 100-5



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