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by LTC Richard T. Wallace, CMTC

Battles at the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) are usually not long enough in duration, nor are resupply actions difficult enough, to expose logistics as a real show stopper. But during real world operations, logistics operations could become just that, a show stopper. Simple matters such as supply route conditions or weather can significantly impact time/distance factors for resupply operations. If the logistics concept of support and other logistics portions of the plan are not synchronized with the overall plan, the mission may well fail. The Brigade Combat Team (BCT) XO, as the chief of staff, can ensure logistics issues are addressed, the plan is synchronized, and problems or risks managed and minimized. The BCT XO's influence should impact on the planning, preparation and execution of all logistics operations. After all, logistics planning for the mission is an essential ingredient of the plan-prepare-execute process.

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The XO's Role in PLANNING

1. During the planning phase, the XO must ensure that primary logistics personnel are present and participating in plan development. This should include at least the Bde S1 or S4 and the FSB's security, plans, and operations officer (SPO). The brigade S1/S4 provides the personnel and logistics estimates to support initial planning and course-of-action development. In continuous operations, the BCT XO can realistically expect only one ALOC representative who knows the current CSS situation. In most cases this will be the S4.

2. Logisticians prepare the logistics estimate early in the planning process. The function of the logistics estimate is to ensure the planners consider current and projected logistics statuses while developing courses of action. Items covered in the logistics estimate should include at least the following:

What is the density of personnel or equipment being supported?
What is the current and proposed task organization?
How will the task organization affect logistics support?
What resources are available NOW (organic, lateral and higher)?
What will each unit need before the next mission?
Where are these resources?

3. The logistics planner's participation in COA development and analysis ensures that COAs developed are feasible and supportable from the logistical as well as the tactical standpoint. Evaluating courses of action begins early in planning and is continuous until mission completion.

4. Once the commander approves a course of action (whether the recommended one, a combination of those recommended, or an entirely different COA), the next step is to wargame it further, in as much detail as time allows. This wargame will synchronize the approved COA, developing it into a complete, robust plan that accomplishes the mission and best uses all available resources. This wargame, or "synchronization drill," is a more detailed look at the approved course of action and ensures that all battlefield operating system (BOS) representatives have a common vision of how the fight will unfold. The XO runs this wargame, and ensures that all key players are part of it. A logistics representative at the wargame will ensure that:

a. the plan does not evolve into something unsupportable,

b. logistics operators have the current routes, planned obstacles, targets, etc.,

c. the plan includes the most current logistics and personnel information and estimates, and

d. logistics assets and facilities are in the right place: able to support the fight, but out of the path of friendly maneuver forces and templated enemy actions.

5. The wargame should address all areas of CSS (arm, fuel, fix, man, transport, sustain) during each phase to ensure an integrated, responsive plan. It should address at least the considerations listed below:

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6. Once the wargame is complete, the staff should have a full understanding of the plan and required interactions between each BOS and each element involved in the mission. Armed with this understanding, the staff can write effective supporting portions of the order, which will be coordinated with the other BOS and staff sections. The outcome of the wargame is an order for the commander's approval that is tightly focused on mission accomplishment.


1. The BCT XO ensures that the Brigade S1 and S4 have fully developed the CSS plan. He also coordinates with the FSB commander/SPO to confirm that the FSB can support the brigade during the operation. Much of this can be done at the combined arms (CA) rehearsal. (Good sources of information on rehearsals have been published by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL): Newsletter No. 91-1, Apr 91, Rehearsals; article in CTC Quarterly Bulletin No. 95-8, Jun 95, Combat Service Support Rehearsals - A Framework; article in CTC Quarterly Bulletin No. 95-11, Sep 95, The Battle Before: A Rehearsal.)

2. Commanders, staff, and CSS personnel should take part in the rehearsal. Participating in the CA rehearsal is crucial for the CSS players because of possible new information obtained and issues deconflicted. Some examples of the benefits to be gained include:

Intelligence: Current enemy situation, IPB, weather, threat to CSS activities.

Maneuver: Graphics, boundaries, route deconfliction, real-estate management forfuture logistics sites.

Fire Support: Targeting information, ammunition restrictions, Fire Support Nets.

Mobility, Counter-Mobility, Survivability: Location of obstacles and mines, conditions of bridges and routes, priority of
survivability assets to CSS units.

Air Defense: Air Defense Warnings and status of air defense units in support of CSS operations.

Combat Service Support: Manning, arming, fueling, fixing, moving, sustaining.

Command and Control: Command Post locations, attachments and detachments.

Signal: Communications, SOIs.

Military Police: Route Security, Convoy escort, Traffic Control Points.

Civil Affairs: Political, economic, host-nation support/non-support: materials handling devices, rail heads, hospitals, water sources, CLASS II and IV, etc.

Nuclear, Biological, Chemical: Threat, Decontamination equipment/sites, MOPP suits available.

Army Aviation Assets: Air corridors, priority of lift.

Risk Assessment: Safety, convoy speed, maps, appropriate weather equipment, sleep plan.

3. The BCT XO conducts the combined arms (CA) rehearsal, and uses it to demonstrate and confirm each member's understanding of the plan's synchronization. With all key players present, the XO conducts the rehearsal and walks through key parts of the operation. He can observe and practice directing the interactions of all BCT elements including his staff. His focus is on critical events and timing required to achieve the desired effects. At the end of the rehearsal, the BCT XO recaps any plan changes that emerged during the rehearsal and confirms that all players have them. Immediately after the rehearsal, he ensures that FRAGOs are written and distributed that capture all changes made at the rehearsal.

4. The BCT XO should run the CSS rehearsal. An effective technique is to have the CSS rehearsal at the same location as the combined arms rehearsal and immediately after it.

a. This gives the XO time to review the CSS status between the CA and CSS rehearsals while the operators, commanders and logisticians are all at the rehearsal site.

b. The XO can also ensure that logistics operators get the changes that emerged from the CA rehearsal.

c. Doing both rehearsals on the same visual aid (sand table, terrain model or other) will eliminate the time and effort of building multiple visual aids.

d. Having the rehearsals sequentially at the same place allows maneuver operators and logisticians the chance to meet face to face and do coordination that might otherwise not be done.

e. The drawback of this technique is that if the CA Rehearsal is held in the vicinity of the BCT TOC, travel time from the BSA will be long for key logistics operators. The concurrent benefit, however, is that it allows support personnel to see and experience the conditions forward.

The XO's Role in EXECUTION

The BCT XO helps synchronize the fight by serving as a conduit of critical information at the Main CP. Accurate battle tracking at the TOC is a necessity for the BCT. Only with this accurate and current information can the XO "see" into the future. His focus must be to help bring all possible systems into the fight and recommend to the commander actions that will help ensure success.

a. While the commander fights the current engagement, the BCT XO keeps abreast of all critical current and projected statuses. He coordinates as required with all adjacent, subordinate and higher headquarters for this relevant combat information. This includes, at a minimum, SOP reports on status of casualties, damaged equipment and all classes of supplies.

b. The BCT XO must understand the CSS situation so he can make timely and accurate reports and recommendations for future actions to the commander. One way to facilitate this is by having a CSS LO at the TOC.

(1) A CSS LO at the TOC assists the BCT XO, as well as the CSS operators in the ALOC.

(2) By maintaining constant communications with the BCT ALOC/ FSB CP (which are normally collocated), the LO can bring current, accurate CSS information into the BCT TOC which may be critical to the commander during the conduct of the battle. The instant transfer of information from the Main CP to the ALOC obviously benefits the CSS operators as well.


The BCT XO is a key player as the CSS integrator. He must ensure that the entire staff, including his CSS planners and the FSB staff, stays focused on the overall BCT mission. With his guidance, all can stay intent on integrated, realistic, timely planning of a mission. He provides focus for detailed, timely, complete preparation for the mission, to include continued assessments and thorough rehearsals. Most importantly, he helps win the fight by making solid recommendations during mission execution, based on solid, timely flow of all types of information among all critical nodes in the BCT.

How to Synchronize the Brigade S4 and Support Operations in the BSA

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