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CHAPTER I

CSS: PLAN, PREPARE, EXECUTE


RSO&I Operations for the Main Support Battalion (MSB) and
the Corps Support Battalion (CSB):
Building the Capability to Support

by MAJ Bryan K. Robbins, Senior DSA Trainer, NTC

"RSO&I is not logistics. However, it is operations with heavy logistical implications....To be successful at RSO&I requires the same level of command emphasis, planning, rehearsal, synchronization drills and attention to detail as other operations." CALL Newsletter No. 97-7, Reception, Staging, Onward movement & Integration, Feb 97.

RSO&I Week.Draw Week.Prep Week.whatever you call it, the first week of a rotation at the National Training Center is a hectic and busy week for main and corps support battalions. These battalions provide support from the Division Support Area (DSA) to the brigade combat team throughout the entire rotation at NTC to include the time spent in the "Dust Bowl" before and after the "war." During RSO&I week, the main and corps support battalions of the DSA must build their own logistical and combat power simultaneous with providing support to the brigade combat team (BCT) to assist them in building combat power.

STANDARD RSO& MISSIONS FOR THE DSA
  • Establish accounts and interface with the Theater Logistics Base.
  • Inventory and sign for supply stocks.
  • Issue UBL for Class I, II, IIIP, IV, and V for all units in the BCT.
  • Establish and operate the Field Ammunition Supply Point (FASP).
  • Provide bulk fuel support to the brigade combat team (BCT).
  • Provide a Battalion Aid Station for the rotation unit bivouac area (RUBA).
  • Provide linehaul transportation support to the RUBA from the railhead.
  • Draw equipment and prepare to support combat operations for the BCT.

The monumental task of deconflicting the battalion's internal and external support issues can be a little less difficult by establishing clear priorities of work for RSO&I and adopting some proven techniques and procedures from other units.

TRACKING BUILDUP OF LOGISTICAL COMBAT POWER. It is absolutely critical for the MSB or the CSB supporting the DSA to maintain an accurate status of the equipment draw and logistic capabilities.

Problem: Many units have tried putting the S4 and the Battalion Maintenance Officer together in a small control cell in the draw yard, tasked with monitoring and controlling the entire draw process, and posting updates at their little control cell in the draw yard. Unfortunately, this method puts all the information in a vacuum, and, when neither of those individuals can be found, the information is usually unavailable.

Technique: Have the Support Operations Officer (SPO) post the information on charts in the TOC, to include periodic updates throughout the day to maintain accuracy. The charts should be by company, with a battalion rollup showing status by class of supply and type of equipment. Evening updates by company commanders can confirm or deny information gathered during the day, and provide a further update on the most recent activities. This becomes more important as the week progresses and more support missions are required by the BCT as they prepare to roll out of the cantonment area.

Without this information, the battalion cannot adequately plan and prepare for future support missions on a daily basis. Appendix B of CALL Newsletter No. 97-7, Reception, Staging, Onward movement & Integration, has good examples of combat power-tracking charts for a forward support battalion that can easily be modified for the systems and capabilities found in a main or corps support battalion. Company charts should be maintained as well as battalion rollup charts. The company charts are more suited to track specific mission capabilities of that unit. Trying to pull that information out of a battalion rollup chart can be complicated and misleading.

EXAMPLE:
HOW TO TRACK DAILY COMPANY STATUS BY SYSTEM.
PROJ=NUMBER PROJECTED TO HAVE ON TD00
OH=CURRENT NUMBER ON HAND
STATUS=GREEN, AMBER, RED, OR BLACK

WHAT SHOULD WE KEEP TRACK OF? Individual commanders will provide guidance on what they deem critical systems; i.e., the capabilities and equipment available in main support battalions are different from those of corps support battalions. Support Operations Officers will track what their support battalion deems as critical systems or capabilities. Regardless what is deemed critical to a specific battalion's mission, there are some basic pieces of equipment that are common to all battalions and their support mission at the National Training Center:

Critical systems for main or corps support battalions - and average number used at NTC:

  • 931 Tractors - 48 total prime movers for trailers, fuel tankers, and water tankers
  • Fuel tankers - 11 for JP8
  • Water tankers - 6
  • MHE - 8 total with mixed variety of sizes from 4K to 10K
  • HETs - 3 systems
  • 871 Trailers - 44 for trash and general bulk cargo
  • PLS (if available) - 3 to 27 based on availability for Class V and other bulk cargo

Water tankers and fuel tankers should be tracked for draw, certification, testing, and filling. Just because a tanker is out of the draw yard does not mean it is available for support.

  • The fuel tankers must pass fuel filter effectiveness tests, and the water tankers must be certified for potable water use by the preventive medicine (PVNTMED) team.

  • Deploying a PVNTMED team with bio test kits gives the unit an advantage in completing this task on schedule because they do not have to rely on host-nation support.

  • Water teams for the FSB are normally attached on RSO&I day four or five if this should be a priority task.

WHAT OTHER TASKS MUST BE COMPLETED? In addition to all the other tasks, the battalion must complete vehicle crew drills for rollovers and fire before moving into the maneuver box. These drills must be done during the week of RSO&I--drills done at Home Station prior to deployment do NOT qualify a crew at the National Training Center.

MSB and CSB soldiers should also complete ammunition draw and weapons zero. The DSA should expect to use their weapons against the OPFOR. The NTC battlefield is becoming more and more "lethal" as the PPG and OPFOR continue to increase their attention toward the logistics forces. Convoys are interdicted on the MSR, the BSA is attacked, and civilians on the battlefield (hostile and non-hostile) provide ample opportunity for MSB and CSB soldiers to get into the action. Therefore, it is a must that they zero their weapons (MILES) during RSO&I!

DAILY TRAINING PLAN FOR RSO&I WEEK: Many units deploy to NTC after having completed a thorough training plan in preparation for the rotation. They arrive at NTC training complete, and ready to just get their equipment and start the rotation. However, there is always something in which the unit could use some extra training, and there is time during RSO&I week to accomplish that training.

What to train: There may be specific tasks to train that are unique to the upcoming mission, but the basic fundamentals are always a good place to start. At a minimum, units should conduct training on the following tasks during RSO&I:

  • night driving with NVGs for terrain familiarization
  • route reconnaissance (with approval from 52d Div G3)
  • convoy defense battle drills
  • reporting procedures
  • vehicle crew drills for rollover and fire - REQUIRED

How to fit training into the RSO&I schedule: Some of these tasks cannot easily be done in the first part of the week; however, there is usually time for units to conduct this training in the evenings beginning on Wednesday, or RSO&I day three. Some techniques observed that worked well are:

  • leaders (squad through company commander) conduct reconnaissance of routes via HMMWV on RSO&I days two through four
  • convoy defense battle drills completed at platoon and squad levels without vehicles, just walking
  • terrain familiarization driving with NVGs between the cantonment area and the Field ASP
  • reporting procedures trained during COMMEX for radio checks, or from squad leaders and platoon leaders to the company commander after completing training or support missions.

The bottom line is units must be imaginative in developing ways to conduct the training. Publish a written training schedule of essential, important, and opportunity tasks by unit, for each day, and follow through with completing the training to standard.

IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE? YES! The alternative is to coordinate for the support of a Reserve Component support unit to be on station during the RSO&I mission. This unit would conduct all the normal support missions for the BCT while the battalion supporting the DSA focuses on preparing itself for future operations. The battle handover of support missions usually occurs on the evening of RSO&I day four. Historically, units that have coordinated this support have had a much easier week and are successful much quicker in preparing their personnel and equipment for future missions. However, support from the Reserve Components is only available approximately four rotations per year.

SUMMARY

Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration is an arduous mission. Failing to plan and prepare makes it more difficult. The week of RSO&I at the National Training Center is even harder on the battalion supporting the DSA because of the logistical support requirements occurring at the same time. The support the Reserve Component can provide is great, but units cannot count on external support always being available everywhere in the world. Units can be successful in this mission on their own with the appropriate amount of planning and preparation prior to deployment, and synchronized and supervised execution on arrival in theater. Command emphasis is required to make this happen. Remember, this is a mission, and must be treated as such. Commander's intent, concept of the operation, and all the other pieces of the operations order give the subordinate commanders the guidance and direction needed to go out and be successful in this mission. Keep this in mind the next time your unit begins preparation for deployment to the Mojave Theater of Operations.


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