PLAN, PREPARE, EXECUTE
CSS: PLAN, PREPARE, EXECUTE
CPT Kurt J. Pinkerton and CPT Sean Jenkins, Tarantulas, NTC
Force-Level CSS Planning
Company has suppressed Objective Ray for 45 minutes. The breach is complete,
and the engineers are emplacing the second breach. Charlie Company has cleared
Objective Tom, and the reserve force is assaulting to seize Objective Ray.
The task force commander receives a fragmentary order over the radio to move
his support-by-fire force through the breach and orient fires onto Objective
Dave to allow the brigade main effort to assault. |
The staff informs the task force commander that the task force is incapable of executing the mission because they lack the fuel, ammunition, and additional support required to evacuate casualties.
QUESTION: How did the task force get to this point?
ANSWER: Improper logistical estimate.
During the past two years at the National Training Center (NTC), the number one reason logistical support fails is the lack of planning at the task force and company levels. An S4 trainer routinely observes the S4's fight to be integrated into the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP), but a company/team trainer routinely sees a lack of CSS planning and graphics at the company level.
These deficiencies are not usually tied to a lack of knowledge on the part of the CSS players, but, rather,a lack of experience in developing an integrated CSS plan to support the maneuver plan. Normally, the first time a task force CSS team is required to think through the entire spectrum (before, during and after operations) of CSS planning is during their NTC rotation. At the company level, the NTC rotation is usually the first time a 1SG and XO have to provide support to their company for an extended period of time.
FM 7-20, The Infantry Battalion, FM 71-2, The Tank and Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force, FM 71-123, Tactics and Techniques for Combined Arms Heavy Forces: Armored Brigade, Battalion Task Force, and Company Team, and numerous articles published in Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) Newsletters outline CSS operations and discuss how they must be synchronized with the maneuver plan, but how is it actually done? This article discusses a technique for CSS planning and execution.
The technique most frequently discussed and seen today in planning CSS operations has three phases: Before, During, and After. By organizing operations into phases, the S4 can methodically break down his planning requirements and develop a solid CSS plan.
The S4 should execute the MDMP for the CSS plan just as the S3 does with the maneuver plan. Throughout the process, the S4 must ensure the CSS plan is disseminated as accurately and as regularly as the maneuver plan. In accordance with FM 71-123, a task force should issue approximately three warning orders (WARNOs) prior to the dissemination of the operations order (OPORD) (Figure 1-1):
WARNO No. 1: Goes out immediately upon receiving the mission from brigade.
WARNO No. 2: Goes out upon completion of the mission analysis brief and issuance of the commander's guidance.
WARNO No. 3: Goes out upon completion of the course-of-action (COA) brief and commander's decision.
Order No. 1
3. General Instructions:
*All statuses are current and projected.
Order No. 2
3. General Instructions:
Order No. 3**
**Graphics distributed with this warning order.
To ensure that the CSS players are planning and preparing for CSS operations, each of the three WARNOs needs to provide more detail than the previous one so the executors (HHC commander, support platoon leader, truck platoon leader, BMO, etc.) can prepare and begin CSS operations.
CSS Planning Techniques:
1. Upon receipt of the mission, the S4/S1 immediately issues WARNO No. 1 via a net call over the administration/logistics net to let the CSS players know of the impending mission.
2. Mission Analysis. The S4 begins his mission analysis focusing on the logistical and personnel estimate (Figure 1-2).
Arming - Do we have enough Class V? How long can the mortars suppress/illuminate? How many tanks/BMPs can we kill? Who is support by fire? Can I get Class V resupply in by air or ground? How responsive (time) will our emergency resupply be? What will it contain? Will we get a resupply before the line of departure (LD)? Who is priority? When do scouts leave the LD?
Manning - How many casualties will we take? Where? What MEDEVAC will we have? How do we evacuate casualties? Through an EA? Ambulance exchange point (AXP) locations up close due to distance? Other unit AXPs/battalion aid stations/forward aid stations? How can we evacuate scouts?
Fixing - Will the wrecker go forward? Self-recovery - can we consolidate tow bars to AT/ADA Plts? Can we get some from sister elements? Where are their MCPs? What is our Combat Power? At UMCP? At field trains?...Projected status in 24 hours?
Transporting - Do we have enough aircraft? How many trucks/Will they transport the whole unit? Can we use vehicles for non-standard CASEVAC? How long will it take to make a complete route and return? Will we have the capacity for resupply?
Fueling - Haul capacity? Time to refuel before LD? Will we need to refuel prior to mission complete?
- Current and projected combat power.
- Current and projected logistical assets (fuel and cargo trucks, medical ambulances, etc.).
- Current and projected personnel status.
- Current and projected supply status (specifically Class III, IV and V).
- Current and projected combat power.
- The S4 reads all paragraphs of the order, putting special emphasis on paragraph 4, and reviews the brigade CSS graphics.
- The S1 with the medical platoon leader look over the maneuver graphics and CSS graphics and start preparing a personnel estimate and developing a CHS plan.
S4 should have a complete personnel and logistical estimate and a clear understanding
of the specified and implied tasks upon completion of this stage. Items that
should be identified are:
- AXPs in the task force sector/zone.
- Changes in task organization that will affect the supply requirements.
- Potential treatment site locations that may coincide with AXPs.
- Potential limitations or constraints. (An example of a limitation or constraint would be the inability to support in depth with treatment teams, or the inability to develop a complete defense because of a lack of Classes IV/V.)
- The S4 then ensures that key CSS times are placed on the Task Force timeline (LRPs, CSS rehearsal, Classes IV/V point established, etc.).
It is important that the data briefed is quantifiable. For example:
"Sir, we have 30 M1s and 20 M2s available for the fight; additionally we have 12 Fuel HEMMTs. As the support-by-fire force for the brigade, we should be able to fight for approximately 12 hours or travel 400 miles and suppress the objective for 2 hours."
3. Course-of-Action Development. When the S4 and the key CSS players have completed the mission analysis phase, they begin course-of-action development. Unlike the S3, the S4 usually can develop one plan that will support all maneuver courses of action. Critical during this phase is the use of the medical platoon leader, the NBC officer or NCO, the truck platoon leader and the S3 Air.
4. Wargaming. During wargaming, the S4 must ensure the CSS overlay is used so he and the medical platoon leader can synchronize the CSS plan with the maneuver plan. Routinely, units will develop a good CSS plan, but will fail to synchronize the plan with the maneuver plan, resulting in the maneuver units outrunning their logistical support during execution. Upon completion of wargaming, the S4 and all the wargaming participants brief the task force commander, and the maneuver and CSS plans are approved.
5. WARNO No. 3 is now issued with a set of graphics to the CTCP, UMCP, medical platoon leader, support platoon leader, and the FTCP. There are numerous techniques for getting the graphics to the critical players:
6. Another product developed throughout this entire process is a critical information list or a commander's critical information requirements (CCIRs) list for CSS. The CCIR list for CSS is a valuable tracking tool for the S4. This list should be posted in the CTCP, UMCP, FTCP, company command posts (COCPs) and the battalion aid station to ensure everyone reports the critical tasks that are complete, and any changes to the proposed support package. This information allows the task force commander to make decisions about potential changes to the plan and preparation because of CSS constraints. These tasks are vigilantly tracked by all command posts and progress briefed throughout the entire preparation phase.
7. The CSS rehearsal is another critical event during the preparation phase. The rehearsal can be done in conjunction with a LOGPAC (preferred method) or as a separate event at the task force Rock Drill site. The final activities that take place throughout the preparation phase are LOGPACs. During the LOGPAC meetings, the CSS status is being updated through the exchange of data. Because this data could affect the plan, it is important to ensure everyone is at the meeting, that they are turning in their LOGSTATs and DA Forms 5988, and that nobody leaves until everyone is in agreement.
The execution phase is relatively routine if proper effort was put into the preparation phase.
1. It is crucial that the S4 closely battle-track the fight to allow the logistics tail to maintain the momentum with the combat forces. The CTCP should be set up to remain mobile and still be able to maintain a battle-tracking chart and situational map. A technique used by one task force is displayed below.
2. Although receiving reports from the companies during the fight is critical, the amount of information received usually overloads the Administrative Logistic (A/L) net. The S4 should eavesdrop on all traffic, except for requests that pertain specifically to supplies, in an attempt to lower the amount of traffic on the A/L net. To reduce transmission times on the A/L net, recommend the following techniques:
3. The S4 must focus on the fight to ensure that the treatment teams are positioning on time and at the correct locations. He must activate scheduled resupply if necessary or initiate emergency resupply operations if the situation arises, and ensure that vehicle recovery is being executed in an efficient and effective manner. The S4 does not have time to have long conversations on the radio, nor do you want your A/L net so busy.
1. Once the fight is complete, the CSS "fight" begins. CSS players really earn their money during the consolidation phase.
2. Personnel tracking is the most difficult process.
3. The S4, along with a lot of the key CSS leaders, starts to prepare and/or move to the TOC to prepare for the next mission (starting the entire process over again).
Planning, preparing, and executing CSS operations is not an easy task. There are many activities that take place throughout the process and few personnel to ensure it all comes together. If you can master this process, then you will greatly increase the chances for success and have a definite influence on the outcome of the battle. If you come to NTC with the knowledge of how to plan and execute CSS operations and you understand the ROE used at the NTC, you have a better-than-average chance of winning on the NTC battlefield!
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The Task Force XO: Roles and Responsibilities
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