Continuous Operations

US forces execute continuous operations to maintain constant pressure on the enemy without regard to visibility, terrain, and weather conditions. The ability to effectively sustain this pressure is often a key to success on the battlefield. It is also the most difficult challenge that Army units face, placing enormous stress on soldiers, vehicles, and equipment alike. Continuous operations demand that units conduct planning, preparation, and execution activities around the clock while maintaining effective OPSEC at all times.

Numerous factors, which will vary with each situation, influence the actions and requirements of friendly forces during continuous operations. The tempo will range from slow to fast. Some units may remain in constant enemy contact, or under the threat of contact, for several days. Other units will operate in low-threat areas with only a remote possibility of contact. Throughout the area of operations, enemy forces will, at any given moment, be attempting to acquire intelligence information and gain the tactical advantage.

The company team commander must understand the demands of continuous operations under all possible conditions. He must provide his soldiers with the leadership and training they will need to meet the challenges of the battlefield.


Section 1 Leadership and Training
Section 2 Planning and Preparation
Readiness and Stand-to
Work Plan
Rest Plan


Preparation for continuous operations starts prior to combat with leadership and individual training. The following discussion focuses on leadership and training activities the company team commander should initiate within the unit. These will help to reduce the degradation of combat effectiveness that can occur as a natural consequence of continuous operations.


The commander uses his leadership abilities to instill a sense of trust and confidence within the company team. In doing so, he helps his subordinates to develop the skills they need to effectively lead their own elements. Leadership guidelines at all levels of the team include the following:

  • Build and maintain soldier resources. An essential element of this principle is individual fitness, both physical and mental. Develop and enforce a well-rounded program of physical fitness training. Ensure that soldiersí diets provide balanced nutrition and that they receive proper medical care, including current immunizations. Conduct morale-building activities, such as unit social and athletic functions, and encourage soldiers to take advantage of available leisure time.
  • Maintain high standards. Demand both personal and professional excellence of all leaders and soldiers in the unit. Lead by example. This helps to create a powerful desire in each soldier to accomplish the mission.
  • Develop individual confidence. Take a genuine interest in all soldiers in both personal and professional matters. This fosters a "family" atmosphere that builds confidence within each soldier and leads to strong unit cohesion.
  • Develop unit confidence. Confidence flows from the top down. Bold, audacious, selfless service builds esprit, morale, and commitment to the unit and its mission.


Thoughtfully designed and competently conducted training is the foundation on which the company team commander builds unit success. Guidelines for effective training include the following:

  • Conduct realistic training. Realism in training situations can help to reduce the stress that soldiers will experience when they face actual combat.
  • Cross-train all critical skills. Cross-training ensures that the commander will always have soldiers available to perform, or assist with, critical tasks. The more important the task in the company team scheme of maneuver, the higher its priority for cross-training.
  • Make physical fitness a priority. Soldiers who are physically fit can fight off the effects of fatigue and can recover more quickly from the exhausting labors involved in combat operations.
  • Foster a spirit of the fight. As with unit confidence, a bold, audacious attitude creates a fight-to-win spirit within the unit, spurring soldiers to do everything needed to accomplish the mission.


Time management is the key to success in continuous operations. During the planning and preparation phases of an operation, the commander dictates priorities of security, work, and rest. These priorities, in conjunction with REDCON levels, enable the commander to develop his unitís timeline. He then uses troop-leading procedures to outline time requirements and disseminate them to the platoon leaders. (NOTE: Refer to Chapter 2 of this manual for a detailed discussion of troop-leading procedures. Appendix M covers OPSEC procedures.)


Readiness conditions

REDCON levels allow quick responses to changing situations and ensure completion of necessary work and rest plans. The commander uses the REDCON status as a standardized way to adjust the unitís readiness to move and fight. Refer to Figure E-1 for characteristics of the four REDCON levels.

REDCON-1. Full alert; unit ready to move and fight.

  • NBC alarms and hot loop equipment stowed; OPs pulled in.
  • All personnel alert and mounted on vehicles; weapons manned.
  • Engines started.
  • Company team is ready to move immediately.

NOTE: A variant of REDCON-1 is REDCON-1.5; the same conditions apply except that the vehicles are not started in REDCON-1.5.

REDCON-2. Full alert; unit ready to fight.

  • Equipment stowed (except hot loop and NBC alarms).
  • Precombat checks complete.
  • All personnel alert and mounted in vehicles; weapons manned.

(NOTE: Depending on the tactical situation and orders from the commander, dismounted OPs may remain in place.)

  • All (100 percent) digital and FM communications links operational.
  • Status reports submitted in accordance with task force SOP.
  • Company team is ready to move within 15 minutes of notification.

REDCON-3. Reduced alert.

  • Fifty percent of the unit executes work and rest plans.
  • Remainder of the unit executes security plan. Based on the commanderís guidance and the enemy situation, some personnel executing the security plan may execute portions of the work plan.
  • Company team is ready to move within 30 minutes of notification.

REDCON-4. Minimum alert.

  • OPs manned; one soldier per platoon designated to monitor radio and man turret weapons.
  • Digital and FM links with task force and other company teams maintained.
  • Company team is ready to move within one hour of notification.

Figure E-1. REDCON levels.


Stand-to encompasses all actions taken to bring the company team to a maximum state of preparedness. Times for stand-to are derived from the task force commanderís OPORD. Unit SOP should specify stand-to requirements, which will usually include procedures for sending and receiving reports, use of accountability checks for personnel and equipment, and criteria for assuming REDCON levels 1 and 2. (NOTE: Stand-to procedures for digitized units include the updating of POSNAV systems, IVIS synchronization, and completion of log-on for SINCGARS radios.)


The work plan enables subordinate leaders and soldiers to focus their efforts in preparing vehicles, equipment, and themselves for operations. Refer to Chapter 2 of this manual for a detailed company team timeline for troop-leading procedures and the associated preparations and priorities of work.


The rest plan allows some soldiers to sleep while other crewmen conduct priorities of work and maintain security. To be effective in sustained combat, a soldier should get a minimum of 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours. Less than 4 hours of sleep can significantly degrade combat performance.

Planning and decision-making are among the skills that suffer most dramatically when soldiers cannot get enough sleep. The commander must ensure that subordinate leaders either have rest plans of their own or are following his rest plan as directed.

The company team SOP must provide for an adequate division of duties to allow leaders to get sleep. This may require key leaders to share duties. When soldiers are tired, confirmation briefings become critical whenever orders are issued, even for the simplest task.