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Combat Support [CS]

Combat Support [CS] consist of fire support and operational assistance provided to combat elements. CS forces include units and soldiers that provide critical combat support functions in conjunction with combat units and soldiers to secure victory. Military occupational specialties designated as combat support include jobs in the fields of engineer, military police, signal, military intelligence and civil affairs.

Specialties in fields such as personnel, finance, supply, maintenance and transportation are designated as Combat Service Support [CSS]. Combat forces are units and soldiers who close with and destroy enemy forces or provide maneuver and firepower on the battlefield. Combat branches of the Army include Air Defense Artillery, Armor, Aviation, Field Artillery, Infantry, Special Operations Forces, and combat engineers.

It has been widely recognized and long known that logistics is vital to any army; however, it is equally understood that logistics has always been one of the limiting factors of military operations. The US Army stands at a point in time when both the technology and the opportunity to transform are present for consideration in designing a new force. Army leaders envision a highly effective objective force that is capable of being rapidly deployed anywhere on the globe to fight in any environment. This objective force must be designed and fielded in such a manner as to require a minimum amount of combat zone combat support (CS) footprint, or stated another way, the logistics tail.

In the mid-1980s the Combat Support (CS) branches were incorporated into the regimental system. Unlike the Combat Arms, which each had several regiments, CS branches retained their "Corps" title. The entire branch was integrated into a regiment under the "whole branch" concept.

Maneuver units in contact with the enemy are totally dependent upon their logistical support in terms of services, and these CS units' survivability is essential. Potential adversaries have long regarded the support base as an easy target, and we must train everyone to fight as infantry.

There is a poorly defined distinction between the "combat arms" (who actively try to kill the enemy, as attack helicopters do), and the combat support and combat service support branches. Combat support, in theory, refers to those who actively facilitate the battle (such as the Signal Corps, Military Intelligence, Engineers, Military Police, and the Special Operations Forces' Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units) while combat service support (CSS) refers to those who sustain the ability of the combat arms to fight by transporting the ammunition, fuel, food and water, servicing and repairing the equipment, providing health care, sorting the mail and providing other personnel and administrative services.

The distinctions between "combat" and "support" are often arbitrary and inconsistent across soldiers within a branch or corps. The combat engineers are a macho "combat arm" who share and often exceed the risks of the infantry and armor as they precede them into battle to clear minefields and bridge or blow up obstacles. They rely on sophisticated armored vehicles or brute strength, and defend themselves or attack enemy positions with personal and heavy weapons. The civil engineers use military versions of civilian equipment to build roads, buildings, and other infrastructure in the rear. The combat signalman crouches alongside the infantry platoon leader under fire, while signal battalions set up and operate the mobile subscriber telephone nodes, satellite uplinks, and other communications throughout the theater of operation.

The military police may be far forward or far to the rear, maintaining route security, securing and guarding enemy prisoners of war, or enforcing the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) on US service members who misbehave.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:42:41 ZULU