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by CH (CPT) Martha J. Hayes, NTC; CH (CPT) Gail F. Porter, 1st Cav Div; and
CH (CPT) Paul M. Saltysiak, 1st Cav Div

UNIQUE COMBAT THREAT. CSS soldiers conduct offensive operations in a notably different manner than combat arms units. While their supported maneuver units are on the offense, CSS units are most often on the defense. They experience chemical attacks, artillery attacks, and disrupting actions from platoon level and smaller. But while defending themselves against these threats, they are totally committed to continue their support to their maneuver unit(s).

EMOTIONAL STRESS OF CASUALTY EVACUATION. Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) from forward units is a logistics nightmare, but chaplains find that it also puts significant emotional stress on the soldiers who evacuate wounded soldiers from maneuver units into the support area. The evacuation mission is not limited to medical personnel. They are augmented by mechanics, cooks, and others in bearing litters and driving 2-ton trucks and other nonstandard evacuation vehicles. The chaplain must, of course, provide ministry to the wounded and to the medical caregivers. Additionally, however, the chaplain is also challenged to tailor pastoral care to the other unit soldiers involved in evacuation. Because they are not in the immediate area of the medical company, they can become "lost" if the chaplain is not proactive in seeking out who they are and helping them process their experience.

BATTLE RHYTHM. Pre-battle, battle, and post-battle are the periods which provide a "rhythm" for soldiers on the battle field. For combat arms soldiers, the rhythm consists of a buildup in activity during the pre-battle phase, a peak in activity during the battle phase, and a dramatic drop in activity in the post-battle phase. For CSS soldiers, the period of peak activity is pre-battle. There is somewhat of an ebb in this activity during the battle phase, and then another increase in activity during the post battle phase. Graphically, it looks something like this:

VARIETY OF MISSIONS. The support battalion is configured to perform a variety of tasks, and, as such, it inhabits a myriad of Military Occupational Skills (MOSs). The following is a sample of MOSs found:

Refrigeration/heating repair specialists Optometry technicians
Welders Water purification specialists
Aviation Mechanics Lab technicians
Forklift operators Fuel handlers
Medical Service Corps Dentists
PROFIS doctors Missile technicians
Armament technicians Electronic Maintenance specialists
Heavy truck drivers Repair parts specialists
Ambulance drivers Fuel and electric repair specialists

The support battalion chaplain has the challenge of learning all these MOSs of the soldiers in a CSS battalion and the diversity of missions among companies within the battalion.


  • The CSS battalion chaplain cannot limit his or her focus to their own unit's ministry needs. There are typically many other units operating in close proximity that do not have chaplain coverage. This usually includes signal units, soldiers from the field and combat trains occupying the BSA, and separate company-sized units operating in the DSA.

  • Maneuver units forward have priority of fill for chaplains. Should the chaplain for one of these units be killed or injured, the CSS battalion chaplain may be called to move forward. He or she must be prepared physically and mentally to do so at any time.

  • Ministry to casualties can be overwhelming because of the higher volume. Battalion aid stations in forward units evacuate to support battalions, which typically hold 40 patients. Most casualties seen by a support battalion chaplain do not come from the chaplain's own unit, but from units forward.

  • Chaplains in CSS battalions can be in the position of having two technical chains. In garrison, FSB chaplains in a division are under the supervision of the DISCOM Chaplain. During deployment, the FSB chaplains come under the supervision of the supported Brigade chaplain.


The ministry is challenging and unique in all areas of the Army. Army doctrine for chaplain support in Force XXI, Army XXI and the Army after next is rapidly evolving. CSS chaplains will be the "ministry logisticians" for the Army of the 21st Century.

Danger: Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)

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