Section V. Assembly Areas

An assembly area is an area in which a force prepares or regroups for further action. As a rule it is secure from interference by enemy light artillery. Preparations can include reorganization, resupply, planning, issuing orders, and maintenance. Even though a degree of security is provided by being behind friendly lines, the unit always occupies the assembly area in a manner to defend itself if attacked.

The nature of any particular assembly area is a reflection of the tactical situation in which it occurs. Occupation may be hasty or deliberate, duration long or short. Occupation can occur after a long move to complete preparations for combat. It can be very hasty after a passage of lines to regroup. During rear operations, cavalry occupies an assembly area as a base in the division rear area. Occupation may be directed by a higher commander or determined by the unit commander. Location and dimensions of the area can also be dictated or left up to the commander.


Certain tasks are associated with planning, occupying, and operating an assembly area. These tasks are largely a matter of SOP. The circumstances in which the assembly area is occupied dictate to what extent these tasks are performed. The tasks are as follows:

Site Selection

Site selection of assembly areas is governed by specific unit requirements. In division cavalry, the squadron can occupy one assembly area, operate a separate assembly area for the air cavalry troops, or operate out of separate troop-level assembly areas. Regimental cavalry may occupy one assembly area, but will normally assign separate assembly areas for each squadron. The regiment's size and the diversity of the units require that specific unit needs be carefully considered in assembly area site selection. For instance, trafficability for wheeled vehicles may be more of a concern for the support squadron than for a line squadron. An assembly area should have the following characteristics:

The longer that occupation of the assembly area is planned or anticipated, the more important these characteristics become.

Quartering Party

Quartering parties are formed at troop level and at squadron level when appropriate. They are a composite of subordinate unit representatives. The squadron party also includes medics, communications, and staff representatives. The first sergeants control troop-level parties and the command sergeant major controls the squadron party. The quartering party provides for its own security. Quartering parties have three responsibilities: reconnaissance, organizing the area, and guiding arriving units. During tactical unit movement, area reconnaissance can be performed as a follow-on mission by the reconnaissance party. Air cavalry can perform reconnaissance of the assembly area early as part of the reconnaissance party. Area reconnaissance is performed to determine suitability of the area. Organizing includes selecting and marking unit and vehicle positions, improving and marking routes, and marking or removing obstacles. Guide duties include meeting units at the release point and leading them to positions.


A squadron assembly area can be organized by assigning troops to sectors of the perimeter or by dispersing troops in their own assembly area within the squadron area. As units arrive, guides move them, without stopping, to unit locations and vehicle positions. Organization of the area based on unit order of march precludes congestion at the release point. Once in positions, units and vehicles make adjustments. Positioning considerations are as follows:


An assembly area is not designated as a defensive position, but the squadron or troop organizes it to detect and defeat an enemy ground attack. Security against air attack is best provided by passive measures designed to conceal the unit from detection. Guards at all entrances and exits control the flow of traffic. Observation posts cover key terrain features and likely avenues of approach. Platoons prepare fire plans and coordinate on the flanks. Security is augmented by patrols, sensors, and surveillance devices. Contact points for units assist in coordination. Roads are the specific responsibility of subordinate units. Fire support plans are prepared by the fire support team and fire support element. Minimal use of radios reduces electronic signature. Movement is confined to roads to preclude needless surface disruption, leaving a visible aerial indicator. Unnecessary vehicle movement is restricted. Noise and light discipline is enforced.

Internal Activity

Actions in the assembly area follow SOP and requirements of the situation. Planning, orders, resupply, reorganization, vehicle and aircraft maintenance, weapons maintenance, and rest occur. For pending combat operations, precombat checks and inspections occur. Reconnaissance of routes out of the area is made to prepare for departure and initiation of the follow-on mission.


Departing the assembly area is the first step of a mission and is just as important as the mission itself. A progressive system of increasing readiness, such as REDCON levels, ensures units are ready to move when required without needlessly tiring soldiers and wasting fuel for long waits. The assembly area is occupied with the follow-on mission in mind to preclude congestion on departure. Routes from subordinate unit locations are reconnoitered and timed. Subordinate units designate a linkup point and units move to and through that point based on their reconnaissance. Departure is conducted under radio listening silence.


The air cavalry and attack helicopter troops normally operate out of either a rear or a forward assembly area. All troops are usually consolidated in the rear assembly area while a forward assembly area is occupied by only one troop at a time.

In the armored division cavalry, the two air troops and aviation unit maintenance (AVUM) consolidate to form their own air assembly area. Flight operations deploys with the air assembly area. and acts as its communications post. The air troop assembly area is either located in the vicinity of the squadron field trains as part of the base cluster or may operate away from the field trains but still outside of medium artillery range. Flight operations assist the air troops by tracking the battle and providing flight information. It is run by the flight operations officer or NCOIC.

The regimental aviation squadron normally establishes a squadron assembly area in the rear. The squadron command post, the bulk of the HHT and AVUM troops, and the assault helicopter troop operate out of this assembly area. The bulk of planning, maintenance, and service support takes place here. Troops rest here as well. The HHT provides support in the assembly area and establishes forward area rearm/refuel points (FARP) to support forward operations. The AVUM troop organizes contact teams to provide forward support at FARPs.

The forward assembly area is small and normally occupied for short periods by air cavalry and attack helicopter troops. It is used as a holding area where aircraft can shut down while waiting to be committed or to relieve another team or troop on station. This allows the troop to remain forward for rapid response when required while preserving fuel. Activities here are limited to minor maintenance by contact teams, battle damage assessment and repair, and crew maintenance. The forward assembly area is usually located near a FARP to accommodate combat service support. Air crews in the assembly area must monitor squadron nets on aircraft radios to eavesdrop on the situation and respond when needed. Maintaining communications may require keeping an aircraft operating. Security from attack by medium-range artillery may be achieved by distance or cover afforded by terrain masking. The forward assembly area may be located in an urban area where aircraft can be hidden behind or in the shadows of buildings. It should not be located along high-speed ground or air avenues of approach. If the assembly area is positioned outside the regiment or the squadron's area of operations, coordination with the unit owning the ground is made. Troop operations cannot be restricted by this arrangement.

Section VI. Battle Handover and Passage of Lines

Battle handover is a coordinated operation between two units that transfers responsibility for fighting an enemy force from one unit to the other in the close-in battle. It is designed to sustain continuity of the combined arms fight and protect the combat potential of both forces involved. Battle handover is usually associated with conducting a passage of lines.

A passage of lines is a tactical operation designed to pass one unit through the positions of another unit without interference. A passage may be designated as a forward or rearward passage of lines. Passage may occur when security forces withdraw through the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) or when an attacking or exploiting force moves through forces in contact.

Reconnaissance and security operations frequently begin or end with a passage of lines. Battle handover and passage of lines are inherent aspects of transferring responsibility for the battle between commanders while maintaining continuity of the fight. Cavalry can be either the passing or stationary force.

Battle handover may occur during both offensive and defensive operations. During defensive operations, it is normally coordinated in advance so that it requires only minimum coordination when ordered to occur. In the offense, it is often initiated by a FRAGO based on the situation at hand. Clear SOP allows units to quickly establish the necessary coordination to preclude a loss of momentum in the attack. The control measures used are simple and standardized.

In the conduct of air and ground operations, air and ground troop commanders often pass an enemy force in contact to one another. Battle handover governs this process in terms of close coordination, fire support, and mutual understanding of responsibilities. The troops do not go through the structured process discussed in this section. This internal handover is established in regiment and squadron SOPs for rapid execution with minimum additional coordination.


Three key players are involved in a battle handover: the stationary commander, the passing commander, and their common commander. Each commander has certain responsibilities. The common commander defines the location and time for the handover, identifies any specific tasks, and monitors the execution. The passing and stationary commanders coordinate according to SOP and execute the handover. Until handover is complete and acknowledged by the two commanders, the commander in contact is responsible for the fight. Once battle handover is executed in a forward passage of lines, the passing commander assumes tactical control over the stationary force until passage is complete. In a rearward passage, the stationary commander assumes tactical control over the passing force until passage is complete.

Opportunities for a staggered handover that are advantageous for the corps or division may occur. These opportunities are seized when possible. The common commander specifies where the handover occurs and defines the resulting responsibility for the zone or sector. Generally, the commander in contact remains responsible for the zone or sector where handover did not occur.

Handover occurs along a line defined as the battle handover line. This line is a phase line recognizable on the ground forward of the stationary force. The line is established by the common commander in consultation with both commanders. The stationary commander has the major determination in the location of the line. This line is forward of the FEBA in the defense or the FLOT in the offense. It is drawn where elements of the passing unit can be effectively overwatched by direct fires of the forward combat elements of the stationary unit until passage of lines is complete. The area between the battle handover line and the stationary force belongs to the stationary force commander. He may employ security forces, obstacles, and fires in the area.

While a line defines the battle handover, seldom do events allow this to happen cleanly. Battle handover is a physical as well as command process. Physical handover should be viewed as a transition that occurs in the zone of the battle handover line. Events may dictate that a force break contact forward of or behind the line, as in the gap between echelons of an attacking enemy force. Close coordination, physical and by radio, between the two units involved in the handover allows those at the small unit level to coordinate and execute this process. The stationary unit is just as active as the passing unit.

Battle handover begins on order of the common commander of both units involved. Defensive handover is complete when the passing unit is clear and the stationary unit is ready to engage the enemy. Offensive handover is complete when the passing unit has deployed and crossed the handover line. The battle handover line is normally considered the line of departure for the attacking unit.

Coordination for battle handover normally flows from the commander out of contact to the commander in contact. This coordination overlaps with the coordination for the passage of lines and the two should be conducted simultaneously. This coordination is best established as SOP to facilitate rapid accomplishment. Coordination normally includes the following requirements:

For the engaged force, the most important task is to maintain contact and continue the fight. The enemy must continue to see the level of activity that has been established. The enemy who perceives that the handover is occurring will attempt to seize the opportunity to destroy the friendly unit at a vulnerable moment.

In the regiment, passage of lines normally occurs at squadron level. The regiment monitors progress and coordinates with the higher headquarters of the other unit involved. The squadron is required to conduct detailed coordination and to execute the passage. This section discusses passage of lines at squadron level. The same considerations apply to the aviation squadron, combat support, and combat service support units of the regiment. The separate troop-size units of the regiment often conduct passage with a squadron, but may do so on their own or under regimental control.


Passage of lines is the physical process conducted during the battle handover. The squadron is required to break contact and move through the defender to the rear. Breaking contact is supported by massed indirect fires, smoke, close air support, and assistance of the stationary unit. This can be difficult when facing an enemy who is attacking. The commander must structure the fight to allow the squadron to wrest the initiative from the enemy at least temporarily to permit the passage. The best opportunity for the squadron to pass lines is in the gaps between echelons of the attacking enemy formation when one has been stopped and the next has not closed. During a guard mission, this gap is frequently between the advance guard battalion and the regiment main body. During a cover mission, this gap is frequently between regiments. These gaps can be measured in terms of both time and distance. Executing a passage of lines while engaged in a major fight may well result in the loss of part or all the squadron.

A passage of lines is a complex operation requiring detailed coordination, extensive planning, and close supervision between units. As such, the conduct of a passage of lines is a command and control challenge. On receipt of a warning order that directs an operation requiring a passage of lines, the passing unit commander and his staff establish liaison with the unit in contact or being passed. Normally the passing unit collocates its TAC or main CP with the TAC or main CP of the unit being passed. Certain basic considerations and coordination must be integrated/ conducted at all levels in the planning process:

One of the most critical aspects of a passage of lines is terrain management. The passing unit's S3 coordinates with the stationary unit's S3 to exchange information concerning the disposition of friendly forces within the stationary unit's area of operations. Stringent graphic control measures must be established and coordinated with all units involved in the passage to ensure success. The following graphic control measures are used in the planning and execution of passage of lines.

Control measures used for the passage are integrated with the battle handover line as illustrated in Figure 8-14.

Figure 8-14. Rearward passage of lines.

Combat support and combat service support elements of the passing unit can initiate passage before it is actually ordered in order to assist as necessary during the actual conduct of the passage. This is most often the case with trains and fire support units. Locations for those assets where they can continue to conduct support operations are coordinated with the passing unit.

The force being passed should be prepared to fire supporting fires for the passing force as it crosses the BHL. Passing force artillery units may locate firing units in the stationary unit's area to assist in supporting fires or continue to move with their units. In either case, fire support plans must be integrated. Units should take advantage of the TACFIRE system to speed coordination of the fire plans.

The unit conducting the passage of lines may designate forces as a DLIC to maintain pressure on the enemy while the bulk of friendly forces break contact and withdraw. The DLIC may be a unit designated by the higher command, or it may be made up of elements from each troop/squadron. Mortars and other CS/CSS assets are part of the DLIC as necessary. Air cavalry may be part of the DLIC to increase the capability of the DLIC to accomplish its mission. If the greatest enemy threat lies on a single avenue of approach, the unit on that avenue may be left in place and augmented with elements from other units.

Due to their mobility advantage, air cavalry units will probably be the last units remaining in contact with the enemy before the battle handover is complete. The rearward passage of aircraft is coordinated the same as that of ground units. Aircraft may use the same passage points as ground units, and air corridors may follow the same routes used by ground units. Different passage points and air corridors may be coordinated with the stationary unit as necessary.


A forward passage of lines is normally conducted to maintain the movement or offensive operation of a unit. This operation is necessary when the factors of METT-T do not permit one unit the freedom of bypassing another friendly unit and, therefore, must pass through it. As such, a forward passage of lines may be conducted to-

Many of the planning procedures for elements executing a forward passage of lines is similar to those outlined for a rearward passage of lines. Control measures are simply reversed (see Figure 8-15). Attack positions can be used in the stationary unit rear area as necessary and should be coordinated whether or not they are actually used.

Figure 8-15. Forward passage of lines.

There are basically two techniques of passing the passing force. In the first technique, the passing force deploys in its attack formation in the attack positions to the rear of the FLOT and crosses the FLOT in attack formation. This technique is appropriate if there is adequate maneuver space for the passing force to deploy effectively, and to deploy without disrupting the stationary force defensive positions (such as desert operations). This technique also allows the passing force to rapidly attack once it crosses the FLOT.

In the second technique, the passing force may deploy after crossing the FLOT. Using this technique, the passing force crosses the FLOT in march column and then deploys into attack formations prior to crossing the BHL. This technique may be required in more restrictive terrain. If this technique is used, the FLOT should be outside direct fire range of the enemy to allow the moving force to deploy without being fired upon.

In either of the techniques described, there will be stationary unit scouts on or near the BHL. The passing unit may have their scout platoon link up with stationary unit scouts and continue the mission, or may have combat units deploy along the BHL to overwatch movement of other units. The units on the ground at the BHL must know the scheme of maneuver of the passing force so they can act accordingly.

If the unit being passed identifies a gap or weak point in the enemy's deployment, it should go about identifying axes of attack for the passing force that will take advantage of that weakness (recon pull). The premiere consideration is that the stationary force should not pass the moving force into the teeth of the enemy defense. The passing force must be flexible enough to modify its scheme of maneuver, if necessary, to take advantage of weaknesses in the enemy's defense.


The commander of the unit in contact is responsible for maintaining the fight with the enemy. His XO is the best choice to serve as the unit representative to establish contact with the unit out of contact. He has a clear picture of the entire unit situation and battle status. Coordination for the passage is normally conducted at the lowest level possible. Several troop XOs can be coordinating passage at different contact points simultaneously. The squadron XO coordinates their efforts and coordinates with the battalion or brigade command post. If the XO is unavailable or a troop has more than one passage point, SOP identifies other leaders who conduct this coordination. The troop first sergeant remains focused on combat service support and, in particular, recovery of battle damaged equipment and evacuation of casualties when in contact. He also begins coordination for combat service support requirements for subsequent operations.

Section VII. Relief in Place

A relief in place is an operation in which a unit is replaced in combat by another. Responsibilities for the combat mission and the assigned sector or zone of action of the replaced unit are assumed by the incoming unit. Reliefs may be conducted during offensive or defensive operations. They are normally conducted during limited visibility to reduce the possibility of detection.

The purpose of the relief is to maintain or restore the combat effectiveness of the committed unit. A relief can be conducted for the following reasons:

Defensive relief is conducted to continue the defense. Cavalry can relieve a larger force when assigned an economy-of-force defensive mission. Task organization normally does not resemble the force very closely. This is considered in determining the method of relief.

Offensive relief is normally conducted as a forward passage of lines to maintain the momentum of the attack.


There are three basic methods of conducting a relief in place:

Relieving one unit at a time is the most time consuming but secure method (see Figure 8-16). Relief proceeds by troop or company team. Units are normally relieved in place with the relieving unit assuming the relieved unit's positions and missions. This method is most common when units have similar organizations or when occupied terrain must be retained. Subsequent to relief, the assuming unit makes adjustments to positions. The relieved units withdraw once they are relieved without waiting for other units. This method requires detailed planning and coordination. Most of the planning considerations discussed here apply to this method.

Figure 8-16. Relief in place.

Relieving units simultaneously is a variation of the first method. It is faster but less secure as all units are moving simultaneously. Close coordination is required to prevent congestion. Once command groups and combat trains are collocated, troops move forward at the same time along designated routes. Relief occurs simultaneously at each location. Relieved units withdraw immediately upon relief. The withdrawing unit does not wait to form up battalion or squadron march columns, but normally forms up at rally points behind the FEBA in platoon or company team columns before moving out.

Relief by occupying positions in depth or adjacent to the relieved unit is considered an area relief (see Figure 8-17). It is appropriate when units are dissimilar, when the relieving unit performs a different mission, or when improved defensive terrain is away from the line of contact. This method is also appropriate when the unit being relieved has been chemically or radiologically contaminated. Cavalry may frequently conduct this type of relief. When possible, the relieving unit should be able to place direct fires on the other unit's fire control measures. The relieved unit withdraws one unit at a time or simultaneously and conducts a rearward passage of lines through the relieving unit, if appropriate.

Figure 8-17. Area relief.

In all three methods the normal sequence of relief is from rear to front. Overlap always occurs with the relieved unit maintaining communications, fire support, and positions until relieved.


The relieving unit establishes continuous liaison with the relieved unit immediately upon receipt of the order. Liaison occurs down to troop and company level. Personnel from the outgoing unit remain with the incoming unit throughout the relief until the incoming unit is familiar with the situation. The squadron command group moves to the command post of the unit being relieved to coordinate the operation. Combat trains are collocated to facilitate coordination and transfer of equipment, excess ammunition, fuel, water, and medical supplies. Liaison includes coordination of the relief, the relieved unit's scheme of maneuver and fire support plan, and intelligence updates.

The command net of the relieved unit is entered and monitored by the relieving unit. Troops and company teams of both units remain on their internal and parent unit nets. The relieving unit maintains radio listening silence on all nets until the relief is complete. The sudden increase in radio traffic is a quick indicator to the enemy that a relief is occurring. Upon passage of command, the relieving unit returns to its command net and lifts listening silence as necessary. The relieved unit should maintain radio listening silence during its withdrawal.

Normal reconnaissance and surveillance activity is continued. Surveillance teams and radar equipment of the outgoing unit remain in position until the relief is completed. If time is available and the situation permits, leaders down to troop and platoon level conduct a reconnaissance prior to the relief. Reconnaissance should be conducted during daylight and darkness as the incoming unit must know the location of individual and vehicle positions, weapons, communication centers, command posts, aid stations, and all other essential facilities. This reconnaissance should also include all routes for vehicle and foot traffic, the specific location of assembly areas, and locations for service support units. Reconnaissance parties in the forward areas should be small.

Deception plans aid secrecy and surprise. The normal patterns of activity must be maintained by the relieved unit. The relieving unit must, at least initially, conform to this pattern. The outgoing unit's radios are manned until the relief is completed to prevent the enemy from detecting a change. As a ruse, the relieving unit may replicate the relieved unit's radio nets as it departs to mask movement and preclude a detectable drop in established electronic signatures for the area.

The relief at troop level includes receiving the relieved unit's range cards, fire plans, and indirect fire plans. During a relief in limited visibility, ground crew-served weapons may be exchanged since re-laying them is difficult. The following equipment may be exchanged to the extent that commonality exists:

Unit obstacle locations are identified, minefields are recorded and verified, and minefield records are transferred.

Fire support coordination and liaison are conducted between the units. If field artillery units are to be relieved, they are the first to collocate and the last to leave. Range cards, target lists, and overlays should be given to the incoming unit to ensure the effective delivery of fire. Fire support assets of the relieved unit remain in position throughout the relief of maneuver units and are prepared to support both units. Fire support assets of the relieving unit move into positions as quickly as possible so they can support both units during the relief. The howitzer battery of the regimental armored cavalry squadron may have to relieve a unit of larger size (such as artillery battalion).

If the outgoing artillery and its supported command are relieved at the same time, responsibility for fire support passes at the time of that relief. If the command of the field artillery and the supported maneuver units are passed at different times, the passing of fire support responsibilities is mutually agreed upon by the two fire support coordinators, unless otherwise directed.

Movement control is maintained by designating and ranking routes in priority. The squadron XO supervises unit movement. Rally points for the relieved unit are used at company level to quickly organize the unit for withdrawal. Guides are positioned at critical points along the routes. Assembly areas are designated and activities performed in these areas are specified. Separate assembly areas are designated for the incoming and outgoing units to minimize confusion. Time spent within assembly areas is minimized to avoid possible compromise.

Passage of command may be specified in the division or corps order as a time when relief is to be completed. At unit level, the commanders mutually agree to the sequence for the passage of command. This is physically accomplished when a specified percentage, normally greater than one-half of the relieving units are in position and report relief. Passage of command at squadron and task force level is acknowledged face-to-face by both commanders and passed to subordinates.

When planning and coordination are complete, the squadron commander issues his order. To reduce confusion and maintain secrecy, the relief order should, as a minimum, include the following:

If either unit gains direct fire contact with an enemy force, it immediately notifies the other unit and the higher headquarters directing the relief. If command has not passed, the relieving unit is immediately under operational control of the relieved unit. The relieving unit performs missions as directed by the commander of the unit being relieved. If command has passed, the relieved unit or portion still forward is under operational control of the relieving unit. The presence of collocated command posts facilitates rapid coordination and action if enemy contact is encountered during the relief. Unity of command is imperative.

Section VIII. Linkup

A linkup is a meeting of friendly ground forces. One or both forces may be moving. The forces are normally separated by the enemy. Cavalry can participate in a linkup as part of a larger force or as one of the forces involved. Linkup can occur in the following situations:

As part of a stationary force, cavalry can screen or guard. In these missions cavalry may be the first unit to establish contact with the approaching force. As part of a moving force, cavalry performs zone reconnaissance or movement to contact for the main body to facilitate rapid movement. If conducting the linkup on its own as the moving force, the cavalry unit performs the mission as zone reconnaissance or movement to contact (see Figure 8-18). If speed is paramount in making the linkup, certain reconnaissance critical tasks can be deleted. Using air cavalry troops to reconnoiter routes for advancing units also helps increase the tempo of the reconnaissance.

The regiment may be employed as a linkup force when there is a requirement for overwhelming mobility and firepower to break through enemy forces.

Figure 8-18. Example of a linkup.

The headquarters directing the linkup establishes the command relationship between the forces involved and the responsibilities of each force. Normally both forces remain under the control of the headquarters directing the linkup. If this headquarters cannot adequately control the operation, responsibility is delegated to one of the forces involved. Operational control is the normal command relationship used. Often the moving unit is placed under operational control of the stationary unit, or the unit out of contact is placed under operational control of the unit in contact.

When possible, the commanders of the units involved establish liaison. If the enemy is between the forces conducting a linkup, this liaison may not occur and coordination is then accomplished by radio. The air cavalry troops may be able to perform liaison tasks even when the enemy separates the two forces. During the operation, the two units attempt to maintain continuous radio contact with each other or the higher headquarters. As a minimum, the units exchange the following information:

Communications between the units involved are essential. The headquarters directing the linkup is responsible for ensuring SOI and recognition signals are compatible between the two forces. If the linking units do not have the same SOI, the higher headquarters directs one unit to change, normally the unit not in contact. If the units involved in the operation are not under another unit's operational control, they maintain their parent command nets.

Both units in the linkup coordinate their operation with each other as well as with the directing headquarters. This precludes engaging each other as units close.

Aviation units are helpful in linkup operations. Air cavalry troops can assist in the initial coordination between the forces to be linked up. Air cavalry can assist in route reconnaissance and provide early warning of enemy locations. Aviation can also extend the range of communications. In the armored cavalry regiment, the regimental commander will normally hold the attack helicopter troops in reserve.

Forces plan linkup operations as they would any other operation, with the following additional considerations:

Section IX. Breakout From Encirclement

A breakout is an offensive operation conducted by an encircled force. Encirclement occurs when a unit loses freedom of maneuver resulting from enemy control of all ground routes of evacuation and reinforcement. It does not imply that the unit is surrounded by enemy forces in strength. Threat doctrine stresses bypassing forces that cannot be quickly reduced. An enemy force may be able to influence the unit's subsequent operations while occupying only scattered positions and may not be aware of the unit's location or strength. The encircled unit can take advantage of this by attacking to break out before the enemy is able to exploit the situation.

To breakout successfully, the unit must perform the following actions:

Cavalry units can participate in a breakout as part of a larger force or by themselves. As part of a larger force, cavalry can perform reconnaissance or security missions for the main body.


Time of Attack

Time cannot be wasted in developing a plan or preparing. Attacking at night or during other conditions of limited visibility is advantageous. However, if waiting for limited visibility risks the destruction of the unit, the attack is executed as soon as possible.

Location of Attack

The unit attacks the enemy's weakest point in the direction of other friendly forces. Against scattered resistance, it attacks through gaps between enemy units. If the enemy is more concentrated, a penetration may be necessary.

Speed of Execution

Successful breakout operations depend largely on speed of execution. Once the penetration is achieved, elements move rapidly, maintaining the momentum of the attack to linkup with friendly units.


As soon as the commander determines that his unit has been encircled, he moves combat support, combat trains, and the command post toward the center of the area to ensure their survival. Additionally, he may have to redeploy some of the maneuver units to provide all-around security. Since the encircled unit concentrates the bulk of its forces to break through enemy resistance, its rear and flanks are vulnerable. A rear guard is organized to protect those areas. A feint may deceive the enemy as to the intentions of the unit.

Evacuation of Casualties

Wounded soldiers are not left behind. Evacuation of severely wounded may be completed by air once the breakout is completed. Less severely wounded soldiers can be evacuated on unit vehicles. Soldiers killed in action are also evacuated on unit vehicles.

Destruction of Equipment and Supplies

Equipment and supplies should be carried out of the encircled area. Some usable equipment and supplies may be abandoned to execute breakout operations quickly. This materiel must be destroyed or disabled.

Combat Support

All available fires are used to support movement. Preparatory fires are normally not fired to retain surprise.

Air Cavalry

Aircraft are extremely vulnerable if they remain with the encircled force. The commander considers displacing them to friendly unit locations as an encirclement appears imminent. During movement, the air cavalry performs reconnaissance to assist the encircled unit in determining the breakout point. They can subsequently perform reconnaissance or security for the force attempting the linkup. If the encircled elements contain a FARP or encompass a large area, critical aviation assets may remain.


Regardless of previous command relationships, all elements encircled become attached to the senior tactical commander. The composite task force is then organized into five distinct tactical groups:

If possible, the task organization of the force complements both the breakout and subsequent attack or linkup (see Figure 8-19). If a squadron is part of a larger force conducting a breakout, it can serve as one of these elements. The reserve force and rear guard are roles a squadron is most suited to perform. The regimental commander assigns squadrons the missions of rupture, reserve, and rear guard forces.

Figure 8-19. Breakout.

Rupture Force

A rupture force penetrates enemy positions and opens a gap for the remainder of the force. Once it has opened a gap, it holds the shoulders until the main body has passed through. Then it either joins the rear guard or becomes the rear guard, depending on the situation. The rupture force should be organized with the necessary combat power to accomplish the initial rupture of the enemy forces.

Reserve Force

A reserve force follows and assists the rupture force. The reserve force normally passes through the rupture force, maintaining the momentum of the breakout operation. In determining the composition of the reserve force, the commander decides how much combat power is needed to make the penetration and how much is required to maintain momentum once the operation has started. Once the reserve passes through the rupture force, it usually leads the force in a subsequent movement to contact.

Main Body

The main body consists of the main command post, combat support, and combat service support elements. Combat support elements are task-organized to support the attack. Combat service support elements move as a single group within the main body. Positive command and control of this element by the S4 or other designated leader precludes unnecessary delay in the movement.

Rear Guard

A rear guard protects the rear of the force as it moves out of the encircled area. The rear guard must be strong enough to delay or disrupt an enemy attack. For a squadron it is normally a troop reinforced as necessary. The rear guard delays during the rupture, follows the main body through the gap, and is joined by the rupture force if so specified. If the rupture force becomes the rear guard, the rear guard can assume another mission, such as flank security.

Diversionary Force

A diversionary force deceives the enemy as to the location of the rupture point by conducting a show of force elsewhere. The diversionary attack should be as mobile as available vehicles and trafficability allow. A cavalry squadron is well suited for the role of diversionary force. The diversionary attack should be directed at a point where the enemy might expect a breakout attempt.

Success of the diversionary force is critical to the success of the breakout. If the diversionary force fails to deceive the enemy as to the location of the main effort, the enemy can focus his combat power on the rupture point. This could lead to the failure of the entire breakout operation. To aid in achieving deception, the commander may elect to use the following measures:

The diversionary force may achieve a rupture of enemy lines. If a rupture occurs, the diversionary force commander must know the intent of the main body commander. The main body commander may exploit this success, or the diversionary force might disengage to follow the reserve force through the planned rupture point.

Since the force will be required to fight in numerous directions during the breakout, control of subordinate elements must be clearly defined. Command of the rupture, reserve, rear guard, and diversionary forces and the combat support and combat service support elements is assigned to maintain the momentum of the attack, even if communications are lost or degraded. The TAC CP is positioned to command and control the rupture operation initially.

Section X. Obstacle Breaching Operations

An obstacle is any physical characteristic of the terrain, natural, man-made, or cultural that impedes the mobility of a force. The effectiveness of an obstacle is enhanced considerably when covered by fire. Obstacles can include abatis, antitank ditches, blown bridges, built-up areas, minefields, rivers, road craters, naturally existing terrain, and wire. They are classified as either existing or reinforcing.

Existing obstacles are any natural or cultural attributes of the terrain that impede a force's movement. Existing obstacles affect ground and some low-level air movement. Existing obstacles are treated as if overwatched when initially encountered until the presence of the enemy is determined.

Reinforcing obstacles are specifically constructed, emplaced, or detonated to tie together, strengthen, and extend existing obstacles. The two categories of reinforcing obstacles are tactical and protective. Tactical obstacles directly attack the ability to maneuver, mass, and reinforce. All tactical obstacles are designed to produce a specific effect such as block, fix, turn, or disrupt.

The threat employs obstacles to slow, disorganize, and canalize the attacker. They may be used alone but are normally covered by preplanned fire concentrations. Existing and reinforcing obstacles are integrated to support the defense. The threat plans obstacles to confine the attacker within fire sacks and to make the employment of the reserve easier. Minefields are laid by an engineer mobile obstacle detachment. Minefields may be used to secure the flanks of a force, or to support a counterattack by the reserve against a penetration.

IPB provides situational templates that indicate known, suspected, and probable locations of obstacles supporting an enemy defense. This information is essential in evaluating the nature of any obstacle encountered during a mission. Effective reinforcing obstacles are often encountered when operating across terrain used in previous operations. IPB may also provide this information.

Obstacle breaching is a combination of tactics and techniques used to project the maneuver forces to the other side of an obstacle. If the mission and situation permit, the first choice of cavalry is to seek a bypass. This is particularly true for large built-up areas that can quickly bog down the unit. Bypassed obstacles are marked and reported for possible later breaching by follow-on engineer units. Bypassing does not relieve responsibility to perform reconnaissance. Cavalry can breach obstacles as necessary or when required to continue the mission.


The four fundamentals of breaching are suppress, obscure, secure, and reduce (SOSR) as explained below.


The commander organizes the force to accomplish SOSR quickly and effectively. This requires him to establish support, breach, and assault forces with the necessary assets to accomplish their missions. These forces are always designated for the deliberate, in-stride, assault, and covert breaches. Usually these forces should be designated for any type mission either in the OPORD or through SOP. Identification of these forces even when obstacles are not expected will aid the force during its transition to breaching operations.

Support Force

The support force's primary purpose is to eliminate the enemy's ability to interfere with the breaching operation. The support force performs the following actions:

Breach Force

The breach force's purpose is to create the lanes that enable the assaulting force and the attacking force to pass through the obstacle and continue the attack. The breach force is a combined arms force that includes engineers, breaching assets, and enough maneuver force to provide local security. The breach force also applies SOSR in the following ways:

Assault Force

The assault force's purpose is to destroy or to dislodge the enemy on the far side of the obstacle. It secures the far side of the obstacle by physical occupation of the terrain. Initially, the assault force may be tasked to assist the support force in suppressing the overwatching enemy. Fire control measures are essential since the breach and support forces will continue to engage the enemy when the assault force is committed. The assault force assumes control for direct fires on the assault objective as the support fires are lifted or shifted. The support force continues to suppress other supporting enemy units not on the assault objective.


The deliberate breach is a scheme of maneuver specifically designed to cross an obstacle to continue the mission. A unit conducts a deliberate breach when the force ratios for support, breach, and assault forces are beyond the capability of a subordinate unit. The deliberate breach is characterized by thorough reconnaissance, detailed planning, extensive preparation, and explicit rehearsal. One or more subordinate units are tasked to perform the role of support, breach, or assault forces. The deliberate breach is centrally planned and executed.

Units will normally conduct deliberate breaching operations under the following circumstances:

A deliberate breach requires detailed reconnaissance, detailed rehearsals, and overwhelming suppression of the enemy's overwatching direct fire weapon systems before the obstacle can be reduced. The breach force is task organized with the bulk of mobility assets and is tailored to counter a specific type of obstacle. Direct and indirect fire systems are massed in the support force to provide the necessary suppression. The required forces are massed into the assault force to seize the initial foothold on the objective. The synchronized actions of the support, assault, and breach forces must be meticulously planned in the scheme of maneuver to achieve synergism at the breach.

Cavalry troops, squadrons, and regiments can conduct a deliberate breaching operation. Normally, a troop executes a deliberate breach because the commander must halt the unit's momentum to maneuver his platoons as support, breach, and assault forces. The regiment is the highest level that conducts a deliberate breach.

The following is an example of a divisional cavalry squadron conducting a deliberate breach during a moving flank guard. The squadron is tasked to cross the line of departure separately from the main body. IPB has indicated the presence of obstacles along the line of contact, so the squadron conducts a deliberate breach as an implied task. An air cavalry troop reconnoiters the flanks and rear of the obstacle and suspected enemy position and begins the reconnaissance of the security zone. A cavalry troop, designated as the support force, is positioned to overwatch the obstacle and to suppress the enemy position. A second troop as the breach force, task organized with engineers and breaching assets, maneuvers to the breach, reduces the obstacle, creates lanes, and secures the far side of the obstacle for the assault force. A third cavalry troop, organized as the assault force, moves rapidly through the lanes and assaults the enemy position. The second air troop may be used as the squadron reserve or could begin screening the flank of the security zone. The support force is responsible for using indirect fires to suppress the enemy and to provide obscuration at the breach site. Once the assault force has destroyed the enemy position and the breach site is secure, the squadron continues with the moving flank guard mission. The support force troop moves through the breach and begins the three-fold mission. The breach and assault forces, after quickly reorganizing and consolidating, move to accomplish their respective missions.


The in-stride breach is a special type of breaching operation used to quickly overcome unexpected or lightly defended tactical obstacles. An in-stride breach of an obstacle or enemy obstacles is conducted to maintain the momentum of an attack by attempting to breach obstacles as they are encountered in stride. The breach is made without pausing to make elaborate preparations. It can be conducted by a unit of any size, normally by combat elements. In-stride breaches are characterized by speed, surprise, minimum loss of momentum, and minimum concentration of forces.

Regimental or squadron commanders plan and prepare their force for in-stride breaches by task organizing their subordinate units with the forces necessary to conduct independent breaching operations. The actual breach is usually conducted at the troop level. The troop commander designates the specific support, breach, and assault forces based on his task organization. The troop commander is responsible for synchronizing the SOSR through his own detailed breach planning or well-rehearsed breach drills. In-stride breach planning therefore focuses on allocating sufficient assets to the subordinate squadron or troop commanders. This tactic allows the squadron commander to seize and maintain the initiative through simple, decentralized, independent breaching operations under the responsive command and control of troop commanders.

Squadrons prepare as part of SOP to conduct in-stride breaches of obstacles encountered during missions. The SOP emphasizes decentralized breaching or crossing at the lowest unit level possible at each obstacle encountered. Breaching or crossing existing obstacles that are not part of enemy obstacle systems is considered routine and forms part of the standard drills or techniques used by troops and platoons.

IPB products identify existing and reinforcing obstacles. Squadron and troop commanders use this information while developing their plans to integrate obstacle breaching or crossing into the plan. Task organization decisions are made concerning the best use of attached engineer assets. Integrated planning ensures rapid execution without inordinate delay at the obstacle. The regimental commander influences the breaching ability of squadrons by task organizing regimental assets. The commander planning the breach must consider missions for his forces that allow quick transition to a deliberate breach should attempts at in-stride breaching fail.


The assault breach allows a force to penetrate an enemy's close-in protective obstacles to assault and destroy the defender in detail. It is normally conducted by armor and infantry conducting a deliberate attack. Cavalry units may conduct an assault breach when conducting missions as an economy of force. It differs from the in-stride and deliberate breaches in that it is conducted by troops and platoons assigned the mission of assaulting an objective as part of the larger force's attack. It provides the force with the mobility it needs to gain a foothold into an enemy defense and to exploit success by continuing the attack (see Figure 8-20). The nature of the assault phase requires a different application of the SOSR breaching fundamentals than that used during the in-stride and deliberate breaches. The squadron commander still provides the breaching unit with the assets it needs to accomplish the mission. However, he also provides his own support force to assist in the suppression of the enemy on the assaulting unit's objective. The troop executing the assault breach still organizes his platoons into support, assault, and breach forces. The troop commander or platoon leader plans, prepares, and executes the assault breach under the circumstances that follow.

Figure 8-20. Assault breach.


The covert breach is a special breaching operation conducted by dismounted forces (scouts and engineers, or infantry if the unit has been augmented with infantry) during limited visibility. The breach is silently executed to achieve surprise and to minimize casualties. It relies on stealth, quiet lane reduction techniques, and dismounted maneuver. Due to the lack of dismounted capability in cavalry units, commanders must weigh the need for surprise versus overwhelming suppression.

The commander may choose to execute a covert breach when-

The main difference between the covert breach and other breaching operations is the execution of the SOSR breaching fundamentals. Suppression is planned but remains on call or until the assault begins. Obscuration is planned but remains on call; it may be used if it enhances limited visibility without causing undue enemy attention to be focused at the breaching site. Security is provided by the security team of the breach force; it provides early warning and covers the withdrawal of the reduction team if discovered. The obstacle is reduced by a reduction team using silent techniques, such as-

FM 90-13-1 outlines the doctrine for combined arms breaching operations and covers all four types of breaches in explicit detail.


A hasty water crossing is the crossing of any inland body of water to include rivers, canals, or lakes. The commander develops his concept to ensure that combat support and combat service support assets are on hand and ready to support as the troop approaches the water obstacle. Air cavalry troops and ground teams are ideal to expedite a water crossing because of the terrain independent movement capability of aircraft. Planning ensures that aircraft are available as the ground unit approaches the obstacle.

The first choice of the commander is to seize bridges intact before the enemy can destroy them. This is the quickest and most economical means of crossing, and is used whenever possible. Crossings may also be made by tactical bridging, fording, or swimming.


Air or ground scouts normally encounter the obstacle first. They immediately begin reconnaissance to determine the following:


Security is established before the troop or squadron begins crossing in force.


Upon completion of reconnaissance and establishment of security, the troop begins the crossing. Crossing sites selected must accommodate the least capable vehicles in the troop or the commander runs the risk of separated forces. Scouts may be able to cross by swimming, but will need to reconnoiter for ford or bridging sites for tanks and combat trains. If an armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) is available, it is positioned well forward in a hide position, but does not come forward until the scouts have selected the bridging site. The troop does not delay at the crossing site to improve it for other squadron assets. Site capability is reported to the squadron for the commander's decision for continued use or engineer improvement. As the crossing begins, the troop commander staggers movement of subordinate units to preclude bunching up at the crossing site.

Fire Support

Fire support is required to suppress known or suspected enemy overwatching the water obstacle. Mortars are positioned to provide support as the reconnaissance of the obstacle begins. The regimental squadron commander positions the howitzer battery to provide effective fires for the troop or troops facing the obstacle. The fire support officer is positioned to observe the crossing site and to manage the fire support effort. Smoke is planned to screen the crossing, but used only if necessary.

Follow-on Forces

The troop normally is not required to improve a crossing site for follow-on forces of the squadron or main body. Crossing sites that may be used by other forces are marked by the troop. The squadron commander is responsible for crossing site improvement and normally uses attached engineers. The size of the water obstacle and the significance of any particular crossing site to the division or corps commander determines where he places his effort. The squadron commander improves the site only for assault traffic. The regimental commander may elect to improve the crossing site further with his organic engineer assets, depending on the importance of the site to the corps. Engineers moving with the main body are responsible for developing crossing sites for sustained high-volume traffic. Military police assist the forward movement of follow-on forces.

Section XI. Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense

NBC defense is the methods, plans, procedures, and training required to establish defense measures against the effects of an attack by NBC weapons. NBC defense operations are performed to reduce casualties and damage to equipment, and to minimize disruption of the mission. These measures are continuous in nature and integrated throughout all combat operations. They are largely suitable for adaptation into SOP. Three fundamentals guide NBC defense:

Avoidance is the most important fundamental of NBC defense. To survive and accomplish the mission, individuals and units must take precautions to avoid or minimize effects of initial and residual NBC hazards. There are four steps to contamination avoidance: passive defense measures, warn and report NBC attacks, locate and identify NBC hazards, and limit exposure to NBC hazards. FM 3-3 discusses chemical and biological contamination avoidance, and FM 3-3-1 discusses nuclear contamination avoidance in detail.

Protection is required when contamination cannot be avoided. Protection is closely linked to avoidance and the techniques of both overlap. There are two types of hazards: immediate and residual. Immediate hazards produce casualties immediately after the attack and are the primary concern. Residual hazards are those that produce casualties over an extended period or have delayed effects. Protection is divided into two broad areas: individual and collective. Individual protection is the measures each soldier takes to survive and continue the mission. Collective protection provides a contamination-free working environment for selected personnel, and allows soldiers relief from continuous wear of MOPP gear. Collective protection is most commonly found in cavalry units in combat vehicle overpressure systems. FM 3-4 discusses NBC protection in detail.

Decontamination is the process of making a person, object, or area safe by absorbing, destroying, neutralizing, making harmless, or by removing chemical or biological agents or radioactive material clinging to or around it. Decontamination stops the erosion of combat power and helps the unit avoid casualties. The three types of decontamination are immediate, operational, and thorough.

Training NBC defense is essential. It must be realistic, reinforced continually, and integrated into every unit exercise. The stress and fear of contaminated environments must be recognized and controlled. Individual endurance, protection discipline, teamwork, and SOP must be developed and reinforced.


All soldiers must understand the concepts of NBC defense and the skills necessary to survive an attack. Individual soldiers must be able to survive in order for the unit to survive and continue operations. Individuals are responsible for-

Squadron and troop commanders, assisted by NBC defense specialists, assess unit status, integrate NBC considerations in planning, and designate and train special purpose teams. These special purpose NBC teams include the following:


The best defense is to avoid becoming a lucrative target. If contamination cannot be avoided, then its effects must be reduced. Passive avoidance measures are not a direct reaction to enemy NBC attack. These measures listed below are already considered in the course of other operations, but contribute to NBC attack avoidance.

Leaders and NBC personnel conduct vulnerability analysis to determine the risk of attack then incorporate appropriate protective measures. Protective measures must not unnecessarily degrade the effectiveness of the squadron. Protective measures are also used when contamination cannot be avoided. These protective measures include the following:

MOPP Levels Command
Mask Carried Carried Carried Carried Worn1 Worn Worn
Overgarment Ready3 Available4 Worn1 Worn1 Worn1 Worn
Vinyl overboot Ready3 Available4 Available4 Worn Worn Worn
Gloves Ready3 Available4 Available4 Available4 Available4 Worn
Ready3 Available4 Available4 Worn Worn Worn
Ready3 Available4 Worn2 Worn2 Worn2 Worn2
1In hot weather coat or hood can be left open for ventilation.
2The CPU is worn under the BDU (primarily applies to SOF personnel and armor vehicle crewmen).
3Must be available to the soldier within two hours. Second set available in 6 hours.
4Within arm's reach of soldier.

Figure 8-21. Mission-oriented protective posture.

Protective measures against biological weapons are the most difficult to take. These measures include the following:


The attack can take several forms. These include direct attack, downwind hazard from attack elsewhere, entering a minefield with chemical mines, or inadvertently entering a contaminated area. Individual soldiers react immediately to protect themselves against contamination or initial nuclear effects. Before chemical weapons usage is confirmed, soldiers will don the mask only when there is a high probability of a chemical attack. High probability chemical attack indicators are as follows:

Upon initiation of chemical warfare, commanders must decide whether their personnel should automatically mask upon other possible indicators of chemical use. These indicators include enemy artillery or rocket attacks and smoke operations.

If intelligence sources identify possible enemy biological agent use, including toxins, the commander may again institute automatic masking. Troops automatically mask for conditions that may signal biological attack such as smoke, spray, mist, presence of dead animals or insect vectors. Since some toxins will attack the skin, protective clothing should be worn.

Commanders establish and continually assess the automatic masking policy as the situation and mission change. Individual reaction is the first step of unit response. Additional reactions are also standardized in SOP and include the following:

The mission must continue, even though degraded. The enemy often employs chemicals to disrupt the defense as part of an attack. The troop or squadron cannot become so involved in responding to the attack that it stops the mission underway. Training, SOP, and discipline are the foundation of continued combat effectiveness.


Following the attack or inadvertent exposure, actions initiated during the attack continue. The alarm is passed throughout the squadron with emphasis on units downwind of the attack. Other squadrons react as necessary. NBC-1 reports are prepared and sent. Additional information is sent as updates to avoid delay in the initial report. Perform first aid (self aid, buddy aid, or combat lifesaver). Agent identification is initiated to determine decontamination requirements and to allow unmasking as soon as possible.

Decontamination proceeds as soon as the situation allows (see Figure 8-22). Immediate decontamination is the immediate neutralization or removal of contamination from exposed portions of the skin and critical equipment surfaces. Soldiers perform this decontamination without supervision, using individual equipment and vehicle decontamination apparatus. Operational decontamination is the actions of teams or squads within the squadron to reduce the spread of contamination on people or equipment and possibly allow temporary relief from MOPP 4. Operational decontamination occurs as far forward as the situation allows. Thorough decontamination operations decontaminate clothing and equipment so soldiers can perform their mission with individual and respiratory protection removed. Thorough decontamination takes detailed planning and outside assistance. In the armored cavalry regiment, that assistance is provided by the regimental chemical company, which normally operates a centralized decontamination site. The division cavalry relies on support from the division chemical company.


Figure 8-22. Decontamination techniques.

Operating in a nuclear environment requires continuous or periodic monitoring as necessary. A reconnaissance mission may be assigned for the purpose of conducting a radiological survey. Radiological survey information is forwarded as an NBC-4 report. Exposure must be closely monitored and reported. Radiation exposure is determined by the cumulative dose or radiation history of the unit maintained by platoon or section on a radiation exposure guide. Excessive exposure of units may force commanders to move or relieve units. Acceptable levels of exposure are determined for the operation and expressed as degrees of exposure risk-negligible, moderate, and emergency. Fallout decontamination is accomplished by brushing or wiping the contaminated dust off clothing and equipment. Do not use masks to protect against fallout particles; use a damp cloth held over the nose and mouth. This method is generally preferable to masking to avoid trapping contamination in the mask filter.

When the squadron receives a strike warning (STRIKWARN) message, actions are initiated to minimize the effects of the friendly strike. These actions are established in SOP (and common task manuals) and the warning must be disseminated to every element of the squadron. Each crew prepares its vehicle or position for the attack.

Section XII. Independent Troop Operations

Although the division cavalry squadron is normally employed as a whole, there are exceptional situations when the squadron best accomplishes the mission by employing subordinate troops independently. These situations occur predominantly during rear and contingency operations.

The variety of missions being performed during rear operations lend themselves frequently to performance by troops. If the squadron is covering dispersed areas in the rear as the tactical combat force, ground troops may operate out of their own assembly areas in their specified area of operations. Air cavalry troops may be best suited to reestablish contact with a brigade command post or commander, especially when time is critical. Facilitating the movement of forces through the rear area may require only the support of a troop. If movement is to include support of a subsequent operation, then this becomes a squadron mission. Area damage control likewise can be performed by the ground troop in the area or initially by an air cavalry troop for rapid assessment. When troops are operating independently, they still perform missions according to the principles outlined in Chapters 3 through 6 of this manual. Command and control is still exercised by the squadron and service support is provided to the troops.

When elements of the squadron are task organized with brigade task forces during contingency operations, scout platoons, ground troops, or air cavalry troops may find themselves operating independently of the squadron. They are attached to the brigade and receive missions and service support from the brigade. If the operation is of long duration, the troop is the lowest level that can sustain operations.

Special cases that dictate a temporary detachment of a troop may arise during the conduct of other operations. A ground troop can be placed under operational control or attached to a ground maneuver brigade if the squadron encounters the conditions below.

The air cavalry troop can-

When supporting an attack helicopter battalion, the air cavalry troop is not used as a substitute for attack helicopter company aeroscouts.

As the exception to the normal employment of the squadron, these independent operations are considered of short duration when performed. These missions are often performed by a troop under squadron control when the commander considers that to be sufficient force. A ground troop may be placed under operational control or attached to another headquarters, but an air cavalry troop is normally only under its operational control. The duration of an independent air cavalry troop operation is normally one to two fuel loads. The squadron commander assesses the degradation to his overall combat power when a troop is detached and he must perform another mission. The division must be appraised of this degradation when directing detachment of a troop.

Section XIII. Contingency Operations

Contingency operations are military actions requiring rapid deployment to perform military tasks in support of national policy. The size of a contingency force, its mission, and its areas of operations vary. These operations provide a show of force in support of a threatened ally to deter aggression, react to the invasion of a friendly government, protect the property of US nationals, rescue hostages, and perform other tasks as directed. Contingency operations normally take place in locations where there are no forward deployed forces capable of immediate reaction. The task organization of the force is threat based. Light forces are quickest and easiest to deploy, but heavy forces may be required to face a mechanized threat or operate over extended distances. These operations are normally joint operations and command and control rests with a joint task force. The light cavalry squadron participates in a contingency operation as part of the division or a brigade task force. Armored cavalry participates when its forces are required to fight a mechanized enemy.


The unique aspect of a contingency operation is deployment (see Figure 8-23). The division generally organizes brigade-size task forces and deploys by echelon in three phases. The organization of the task forces reflects requirements to meet the contingency. The echelons of the division are assault, follow-on, and rear. The three phases of the operation are deployment, lodgment, and expansion. In a corps level operation, a division may be considered an echelon itself and be introduced during one of the phases of the operation. Cavalry squadrons (regiment or division) are normally introduced in at least squadron size during the lodgment or expansion phase.

Deployment Assault Seize/establish Reconnaissance/security
lodgment at selected beyond lodgment
Secure for follow-on
Lodgment Follow-on Follow-on forces Reconnaissance/security
arrive; beyond lodgment;
Lodgment expanded; Support combat operations
Combat power buildup
Expansion Rear Combat power Reconnaissance/security;
buildup; Support combat operations
Logistics base buildup;
Expanded combat

Figure 8-23. Contingency operations.


The squadron is normally task organized with the brigades and deploys by echelon. Requirements for reconnaissance and security forces dictate the manner in which the squadron deploys. A ground troop may be task organized by platoon with the brigades. If the operation involves only a single brigade, the entire troop should deploy. Air cavalry troops are best deployed as a troop because of their size. Aircraft maintenance requirements are considered when deploying an air troop early. The AVUM troop may be required to deploy with the troop, or aviation maintenance is provided by other deploying assets of the aviation brigade. When the squadron command and control structure arrives in the contingency area, the squadron commander assumes control of his already deployed forces and conducts operations as a squadron. If the contingency operation involves extended operations, large areas, major movements, and the potential of facing a mechanized enemy, then the entire squadron should be committed as part of the contingency force.


Once deployed, combat operations are conducted according to the principles discussed in Chapters 3 through 6. Contingency operations frequently involve fighting irregular forces in a counterinsurgency role.