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Eight Keys to Success for the Support Battalion

by MAJ Howard R. Christie, ADLER 08 Support Operations O/C, CMTC

Units must cross the LD with their Combat Service Support (CSS) intact to make it to their objective. To get the fighters successfully across the LD, CSS units must carefully examine how they plan, prepare, and execute CSS operations.

Do you have CSS in place to support a Brigade Combat Team (BCT)? Does it work? It is reliable? Synchronized? Flexible? Training for high intensity conflict (HIC) is tough enough. Some units have the additional burden and unenviable task of transitioning from non-linear stability actions and support actions back to linear High-Intensity Conflict (HIC) operations. CSS planners' tasks are complicated at Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) by this transition. Provided in this article are some key techniques to help CSS planners ensure timely and flexible support to maneuver units.

For the supported unit to be successful, CSS support must include the right mix of all classes of supply, PLUS maintenance and services. We all know that the Support Battalion's success is rated relative to the achievement of its supported maneuver units (did they get their tanks and Bradleys across the LD?) The support battalion staff elements could easily start the process by asking themselves the following basic questions:

1. How do we support the BCT?

2. How do we synchronize the Concept of Support (COS)?

3. How do we ensure continuity of supporting plans and verify the sustainability of the tactical plan?

4. How do we communicate over long distances to provide timely and accurate CSS support?

5. How do we regenerate combat power at CMTC?

6. How do we manage our systems?

7. How do we synchronize BSA operations?

8. Why should we understand how the maneuver fights?

KEY No. 1. Establish reliable, synchronized and well-defined CSS to support a Brigade Combat Team (BCT).

  • Include all classes of supply, maintenance and services to achieve success for the supported units.
  • Train up and rehearse before deploying to CMTC.

KEY No. 2. Develop a sound Concept of Support (COS) for the supported BCT before they arrive at CMTC. The COS provides the framework for all CSS support to deployed units.

  • An effective COS clearly defines how units will receive support.
  • CSS planners must synchronize the COS to make certain they will provide the full spectrum of support.
  • Support battalions must synchronize the COS with the brigade S4 before the CSS rehearsal. Clear definition and synchronization allow all CSS planners and executors to understand and apply the plan.

KEY No. 3. Rehearse! Just as combined arms rehearsals contribute to tactical success, a CSS rehearsal improves support operations for the supported BCT.

  • CSS and CHS planners work together to plan and rehearse CSS operations.
  • Rehearsals validate synchronized plans, ensure continuity of supporting plans, and verify the sustainability of the tactical plan within the maneuver commander's intent.
  • When conducted with the right players, rehearsals can remove anxiety from the maneuver commanders.

KEY No. 4. Plan and train to establish and maintain reliable, redundant tactical communications, to include logistics connectivity.

  • A unit that cannot communicate cannot support or win. Each battle presents a new set of logistics requirements.
  • Units must communicate the logistic demands of this ever-changing environment, or it will not provide timely and accurate CSS support for the BCT.
  • Redundant communication systems and determined soldier action to maintain positive communications spell the difference between logistics life and death.

KEY No. 5. Understand the maintenance and Class IX systems from crew level to direct support.

  • With this understanding, planners can identify the weak links in their systems and correct the problem(s) as they occur. This ensures the delivery of combat power to the BCT.
  • Hold daily maintenance meetings to stay informed. To be useful, these meetings must have a defined agenda, a scheduled time (based on tactical and logistical operations), and must be attended by the key CSS planners in the BCT.

KEY No. 6. Establish a system of reporting and tracking to manage information systems.

  • CSS planners must have an accurate means to gather information, anticipate CSS shortfalls, and manage CSS.
  • Without a COS, units cannot provide accurate tactical logistical requirements to the BCT.
  • Exercise, refine, and incorporate the system into existing standing operating procedures (SOPs), and follow the SOPs.
  • The bottom line for information management remains maximizing combat power for the maneuver commander.

KEY No. 7. Conduct daily BSA tenants' meetings.

  • These meetings provide the support battalions and the brigade staff excellent opportunities to integrate all tenants into the BSA.
  • The meetings synchronize BSA base defense operations, administrative issues, and operational logistics (internal and direct support).

KEY No. 8. Understand how maneuver units fight.

  • How the BCT will fight determines all logistic planning, including the best method to support, which requires broad tactical and technical proficiencies.
  • A logistician who does not understand warfighting will not adequately track, anticipate, or provide timely CSS support to the BCT.


CMTC provides the support battalions with many training challenges and opportunities for learning. The keys to success presented here can bring success only when applied at all levels of the support battalion. Keying on these techniques allows units to establish the standard and get the most from their CMTC training experience.

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