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RSOI - Its Purpose, Definition, and Challenges

"Today's leaders and planners must understand Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) as a part of deployment and employment. Contingency offensives will differ substantially. They will tend toward bare sufficiency because the Army will be smaller and have fewer "troops available." The need for speed and size constraints of strategic deployments will also affect the nature of force-projection offensives. RSOI will continue directly into the offensive in many cases. Commanders of attacking forces will, therefore, have to make hard decisions of timing and will be forced to weigh greater risks than those faced by the commanders of larger forward-deployed forces. Among those are the risks of attacking too soon before the full potential of the deploying force is developed and of waiting too long, thus allowing the original aggressor to solidify his defense. The bold, decisive, risktakers, idealized by Army doctrine, will have to get even bolder (wiser, too, in all likelihood) to effectively build and track combat power."

--LTG L. D. Holder, former Commander,
Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth


United States military strategy rests on the dual concepts of forward presence and power projection. Power projection is the ability to apply all necessary elements of national power to be at the place and time required to achieve national security objectives. For this power to be credible, we must have the capability to rapidly deploy military forces to deal with the situation and terminate the conflict. If this capability is effective and demonstrable, then we may be able to deter potential adversaries and affect successful operations worldwide.

The military element of power projection is force projection. This is the ability to mobilize and rapidly deploy forces anywhere in the world and successfully conduct operations. Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI), taken together, is a process by which combat power is generated in an Area of Operations (AO). Often viewed as a logistics endeavor, it is, a critical operational challenge that relies on a logistical infrastructure. RSOI is an operation employing logistical assets to meet the commander's requirement for forces. The commander's operational dilemma is balancing the combat force requirement. RSOI is the critical link between strategic deployment and tactical maneuver.


As outlined in FM 100-5, Operations, Chapter 3, Force Projection, the eight stages of force projection are:

1. Mobilization (if necessary).
2. Pre-deployment activities.
3. Deployment.
4. Entry operations.
5. Operations.
6. Post-conflict or post-crisis operations.
7. Redeployment.
8. Demobilization.


RSOI focuses on the entry stage. In this critical stage, sufficient military forces arrive, are received, joined with equipment, and are prepared for integration into the theater mission. RSOI is derived from FM 100-17, Mobilization, Deployment, Redeployment and Demobilization (MDRD), 28 Oct 92. This FM provides keystone doctrine for conducing the RSOI process. The manual also points out that RSOI is a portion of the deployment process. It is the essential process that transitions arriving personnel and materiel into forces capable of meeting operational requirements. The principal value of RSOI is that it speeds the assembly of combat power.

RSOI is not logistics. However, it is an operation with heavy logistical implications. Observation has shown that the brigades that approach RSOI with the same methodology and intensity with which they approach any operation tend to perform better than those who subordinate RSOI activities to be only a logistical staff requirement. To be successful at RSOI, the same level of command emphasis, planning, rehearsal, synchronization drills and attention to detail as other operations is required. Understanding what happens to a unit at any point in this process is important to the commander. The commander must understand the implications of RSOI and then plan follow-on action.

The Army's RSOI tasks:

1. Join the soldiers arriving in the theater of operations with their equipment.
2. Integrate the unit into the fight as a combat-capable force.

The RSOI process consists of the following four essential and interrelated processes:

1. Reception: The process of unloading personnel and equipment from strategic or operational transport, marshalling local area transport (if required), and providing life support to the deploying personnel. It is the process of receiving unit resources (personnel, equipment and supplies) into the theater of operation. Reception begins with the arrival of the first personnel or equipment in the theater and ends when personnel and equipment are staged.

2. Staging: The process of assembling, holding, and organizing arriving personnel and equipment into units and forces; incrementally building combat power; and preparing units for onward movement; providing life support for the personnel until the unit becomes self-sustaining. This is done to incrementally build forces capable of meeting the operational and tactical commanders' requirements. Similar to reception, staging applies to resources, not units. Staging begins when the first equipment or personnel arrive (from reception) at the staging areas and ends when personnel and equipment are rejoined for onward movement. Throughout the RSOI process, but more specifically in the staging area, the Task Force is accomplishing all of the elements required to transform it into a combat-ready unit. This includes, but is not limited to, units reassembled and united with their equipment, acclimatization to the theater, training, force protection, weapons screen and zero, class V and supplies uploaded, and planning for future operations.

3. Onward movement: The process of moving units and accompanying materiel from reception facilities and staging areas to tactical assembly areas or other theater destinations. It also includes moving arriving non-unit personnel to gaining commands and moving arriving sustainment materiel from reception facilities to distribution sites. This movement is accomplished by rail, road, or air. The mode of transportation depends on the tactical and logistical situation.

4. Integration: The synchronized transfer of authority over units and forces to a designated component or functional commander for employment in the theater of operations. The seamless flow between phases and the transition of units to the tactical commander. Unlike the first three parts of RSOI, integration is not logistics-intensive, but rather necessitates a unit-to-unit interface. Integration is complete when the receiving commander establishes positive command and control (C2) over the arriving unit in the tactical assembly area (TAA), and the unit is capable of performing its assigned mission. Integration is the final step in the RSOI process of force projection and is only achieved after successful completion of Reception, Staging, and Onward movement. Integration planning and coordination, however, must begin early and be continuous throughout the force projection process.

There are four principles of RSOI that guide its development and execution. These elements are essential for the successful planning and conduct of the entire process. The four principles are:

1. Unity of Command: It is imperative that all military forces are employed in a manner that masses combat power oriented toward a common objective. The same principle applies to RSOI. Only one organization should control and conduct the process. This organization must be able to adjust its resources based upon the number and amount of forces deploying, control movements in the area of operations, and provide life support functions to arriving personnel.

2. Unit Integrity: Unit cargo and personnel should be moved by the same transportation asset. This gives a distinct advantage to units and for the force closure process. This greatly simplifies the force tracking mission while giving the unit an increased training opportunity. Although it is not always possible to place all equipment and personnel belonging to one unit on one ship, it is possible to at least consolidate each on one transportation asset. This will assist in the challenge of tracking the combat force buildup of the unit.

3. Optimum Logistical Footprint: Essential to the effectiveness of RSOI is defining the logistical structure and proper size of the logistical footprint required to provide support to the deploying forces. The goal is to optimize the requirement with the proper forces to provide support. The amount of logistical forces should be adequate to provide the necessary life support elements to the deploying forces but not too large as to constitute a burden to the commander with more support than is needed. Supporting assets must be deployed in a properly timed sequence to leverage their capabilities. Increasing the RSOI capability to ensure there are no blockages in ports or staging areas is an option to reduce force vulnerability.

4. Unity of Effort: All aspects of the RSOI process must be measured against the objective set forth by the Joint Force Commander. Each aspect of RSOI must be performed concurrently with the other aspects to achieve this objective.

The deployment of any unit usually is conducted in five phases. RSOI is conducted during the entry phase and consists of a number of tasks. The tasks associated with RSOI are focused to effectively receive and prepare both personnel and equipment for further deployment and employment. To conduct an effective RSOI of combat forces into the Theater of Operations, it is imperative that sufficient logistical forces are available to perform all related support tasks. These tasks include:

  • Receive personnel and equipment at the Aerial Port Of Debarkation (APOD) and/or Sea Port Of Debarkation (SPOD).
  • Operate the railhead or convoy dismount point.
  • Move personnel and equipment from the APOD/SPOD or railhead to the Staging area.
  • Join unit personnel and equipment.
  • Provide equipment, supplies, services, and life support necessary to achieve readiness for onward movement.

The exact size and composition of the Reserve Component (RC) logistical force is dependent on several factors:

  • The size of the force to be supported.
  • The speed of deployment.
  • The duration of the deployment.
  • The existing host-nation support infrastructure.


There are some challenges to conducting each of the stages of RSOI. These are easily identified and are listed in bullet format. They are provided based on an analysis of many unit rotations through the Combat Training Centers (CTCs) and actual operations. Keep in mind that these challenges were observed by rotating units and may not pertain to all units. Keying on these challenges during both planning and execution will ensure a smoother and more efficient operation. The size, configuration, and equipment peculiar to each unit may affect how that unit flows through each of the stages.


  • Unity of Command.
  • Security.
  • Establishment of Accountability.
  • Intransit Visibility.
  • Preparation for Staging.
  • Port Support Activities.


  • Combining personnel and equipment in controlled area.
  • Incremental buildup of combat power.
  • Scheduling units and material for movement.
  • Life Support.
  • Real Estate Management.
  • Communication.
  • Host-Nation Support.


  • Transportation Network.
  • Enemy Interdiction.
  • Reporting Procedures.
  • Movement Control.


  • Establishing transfer of authority procedures.
  • Enabling a seamless flow of units and material.
  • Dividing responsibilities between previous command, gaining command and the integrating unit.
  • Establishing status reporting procedures.

Integration has two parts. During the first part of integration, the unit must be internally operational and able to perform its mission. It must be able to communicate, move, resupply, and fight or support its authorized capability. The unit's internal C2 must be tested to determine that it is operational. As integration progresses, the unit must be absorbed into a like, joint, or combined force. During the second portion of integration, the unit must be able to communicate and receive C2 from its higher headquarters.


As a result of the RSOI process, units are normally operational prior to arrival at the TAA. The arriving unit is absorbed by a higher headquarters or receives a mission handoff from a departing unit. The arriving unit becomes operational to its authorized level and then integrates with the receiving higher headquarters. A new C2 structure and communication network must be established with the new headquarters. Simultaneously, the arriving unit must establish security within the higher headquarters' TAA. Command and control, communications, and security are the priority of effort during the integration phase of RSOI. Any logistics-intensive tasks (supply, transportation, maintenance, and services) that were not completed during reception and staging are conducted concurrently with integration.

Integration applies to units melding into a ready, operational force. The unit's personnel and equipment are combined and moved from the staging area to the tactical assembly area. Integration may take hours or days. The complexity and time required for integration depends on the size, contingency conditions, and pre-deployment or ongoing coordination and planning. Continuous coordination, which includes in-transit total visibility (ITV) of equipment and personnel and force tracking, helps predict when in-country integration can begin and how long it will take to complete.

RSOI effectiveness depends largely on several functions. The first is C2. RSOI requires an effective combat power-tracking system with responsive leaders and managers. Another is communications. Reliable communication is pertinent throughout the RSOI process at all echelons of command. This will aid the responsiveness to problems and assist in major decisions at higher levels of command.

During RSOI, security is paramount. RSOI operations must be protected from the full range of threats to include espionage, local unrest, terrorist activities and weapons of mass destruction. Obviously transportation is important. This process calls upon the full range of Army transportation support from discharging ships and hauling cargo to providing information for force tracking. Host-nation support will always be exercised. The RSOI process is facilitated by use of host-nation resources such as ports, airfields, railways, land for staging, traffic convoy and convoy escorts. This calls for liaison and contracting capabilities.

The proper field services are a definite morale booster. RSOI calls for a variety of soldier support services such as food, water, sanitation, and billeting. Service requirements increase in correlation with the number of days the unit spends in the marshalling area.

Reception, Staging and a portion of Onward movement occur in the marshalling area. The marshalling area is defined as an area of sufficient size and facilities, such as airfields, ports, beaches, where the complex tasks of arrival, off-load, equipment and personnel linkup and staging, supply distribution, assembly, and preparation of forces for employment are conducted.

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