Integration of Heavy and Light Forces

Employing tank and mechanized infantry company teams with light units can be a combat multiplier. This type of organization can take advantage of the light unitís ability to operate in restricted terrain (such as urban areas, forests, and mountains) to increase the survivability of the overall force. At the same time, the integrated force has the advantage of the mobility and firepower inherent in tank and mechanized infantry units. All forces should be mutually supporting based on the commanderís concept of employment; this ensures effective integration of tank, mechanized, and light assets.

This appendix provides information the company team commander must consider in conducting operations with light forces. It focuses on the two scenarios that are most likely to affect the company team: attachment of the team to a light brigade or battalion and attachment of a light platoon to the team. For more detailed information on a heavy platoon attached to a light infantry battalion, refer to FM 7-20 and FM 17-15. For a more detailed discussion of heavy forces attached to a light infantry company, refer to FM 7-10.


Section 1 Organization of Light Forces
Capabilities and Limitations
Organization of Light Force Brigades
Organization of Light Force Battalions
Organization of Light Force Companies and Platoons
Section 2 Planning Considerations
Command and Control
Fire Support
Air Defense
Mobility and Survivability
Combat Service Support
Section 3 Operations and Tasks
Section 4 Task Organization Considerations
Task Organization Below Platoon Level
Additional Attachments to the Company Team
Operational Organization
Section 5 Additional Operatonal Considerations
Dismounted Infantry Movement Rates
Tank-Mounted Infantry
Safety Considerations
Section 6 CSS Operations
Planning and Integration
Supply Requirements
Operational Considerations



Light forces have the capabilities to perform the following actions:

  • Seize, occupy, and hold terrain.
  • Move on foot or by aircraft, truck, or amphibious vehicle.
  • Move in all types of terrain.
  • Conduct operations with tank and mechanized infantry forces.
  • Conduct covert breaches.
  • Conduct air assault operations.
  • Take part in counterinsurgency operations within a larger unit.
  • Rapidly accept and integrate augmenting forces.

Light forces have the following limitations:

  • They must depend on nonorganic transportation for rapid movement over long distances.
  • Without protective clothing, they are vulnerable to the effects of prolonged NBC exposure.
  • They require external support when they must operate for an extended period.
  • Unless dug in with overhead cover, they are extremely vulnerable to indirect fires.
  • Unless dug in, they are vulnerable in open terrain to long-range direct fires.


The heavy company team may support any of three primary types of light brigades: light infantry, airborne, and air assault. These organizations vary in capabilities and limitations and in their impact on the heavy force. For example, differences in the organization of the brigade headquarters and in antiarmor capability may affect the heavy company team mission. The company team commander must understand the organization of the brigade that the team will support.

Light infantry brigade

Light infantry brigades have the most austere of the three headquarters organizations in terms of communications capabilities and the number of staff officers. There is no assistant S3, assistant S3-Air, or LO. There are few vehicles in the main CP. Organizational maintenance is centralized at the brigade maintenance section. All Class I rations are prepared by the brigade mess team. Like the light infantry division, the brigade must depend on corps-level transportation assets. A key characteristic of the light infantry brigade is its limited antiarmor capability. There are 12 TOWs and 54 Dragons or Javelins per brigade. In addition, the light infantry division has only one attack helicopter battalion.

Airborne brigade

Once entry operations are complete, the airborne brigade essentially functions as a light infantry brigade. It has more CS and CSS assets than does the light infantry brigade and has 60 TOWs and 54 Dragons or Javelins. The airborne division has only one attack helicopter battalion.

Air assault brigade

Staff and CSS functions in the air assault brigade are similar to those in tank and mechanized brigades. The air assault brigade uses helicopters to extend its command and control and CSS capabilities. Antiarmor capability is the same as for the airborne brigade. The air assault division has a combat aviation brigade, consisting of two attack helicopter battalions, that adds to its antiarmor capability.


Light infantry

The light infantry battalion is the most austere light battalion and the one whose organization is most different from that of a heavy battalion. There are only three rifle companies and a headquarters company in the battalion. It has four TOWs and 18 Dragons or Javelins. Organic fire support is provided by an 81-mm mortar platoon assigned to the headquarters company.

Differences between this battalion and the air assault and airborne battalions are greatest in the organization of support and logistics elements. It has no trucks larger than its 27 cargo HMMWVs. The battalion has no mess team; Class I is prepared at brigade level. There is only one mechanic in the entire battalion; repairs are conducted at the brigade level. The battalion has only 18 long-range radios.

Air assault and
airborne battalions

Once inserted, the air assault and airborne battalions perform much like the light infantry battalion, with walking a primary means of transportation. Each battalion has 10 two-and-a-half-ton trucks and 36 cargo HMMWVs and can conduct nontactical movement by truck. Each has a mess section and a 16-man maintenance platoon. Air assault and airborne battalions have 30 long-range radios, and both have 20 TOWs and 18 Dragons or Javelins. Their organic fire support is provided by an 81-mm mortar platoon assigned to the headquarters company.


Light infantry
company and platoon

The light infantry company has three platoons and a headquarters section, a total of 130 soldiers. The company headquarters contains both the antiarmor section, consisting of six Dragons or Javelins, and the mortar section, which has two 60-mm mortars. The rifle platoons, with 34 soldiers each, are organized into three squads and a headquarters section, which controls the platoonís machine guns. Each rifle squad consists of two fire teams.

Airborne and air
assault companies

Airborne and air assault companies are capable of more independent action than their light infantry counterpart. Each of the three rifle platoons has its own weapons squad, as well as three rifle squads. The weapons squads have both machine gun crews and antiarmor missile crews. The company headquarters retains control of the 60-mm mortar section.


Employment of heavy and light forces requires thorough integration of the operating systems of both types of units. This section focuses on considerations for each of the seven operating systems.


The directing headquarters designates command relationships between light infantry and the tank or mechanized infantry force. The command relationship between a light unit and a heavy unit can be either attached or OPCON. A light unit attached to a heavy unit can normally be adequately supported. Attachment of a heavy unit to a light unit, however, requires considerable CS and CSS support from the heavy unitís parent organization or from higher-level support assets.

Light units normally have considerably less long-range communications capability than their heavy force counterparts. A gaining heavy unit must therefore thoroughly analyze the communications requirements of an attached light unit.

Units conducting light/heavy or heavy/light operations normally exchange LOs, who assist in joint operational planning, coordinate the development of orders and overlays, and serve as advisors to the counterpart units. In addition, leaders from the attached unit may be required to perform special functions in the light/heavy or heavy/light configuration.

Additional command and control considerations include the following:

  • LOs and/or unit leaders may be required to conduct linkup and coordination, either in theater or prior to deployment.
  • When a single tank or mechanized infantry company team is attached or OPCON to a light infantry brigade or battalion, personnel from the teamís parent organization should be designated as LOs, serving as planners and advisors for the supported unitís commander. A strong LO team requires proper manning, equipment, and expertise; it must be capable of conducting 24-hour operations. It must have the equipment to communicate effectively with the supported unit as well as vehicles to move around the battlefield. Whenever possible, the team should include two officers and two NCOs (along with drivers as needed). The logistics LO should be the senior soldier from the CSS slice, with expertise in Class I, III, and V resupply and medical and maintenance support. (NOTE: If an LO team is not available, the company team CP should collocate with the brigade or battalion TOC.)
  • When a single tank or mechanized infantry platoon is OPCON or a light infantry platoon is attached, the platoon leader serves as the principal advisor to the supported headquarters commander. For a tank or mechanized infantry platoon, the platoon leader normally works with a light infantry battalion commander; a light infantry platoon leader normally assists a company team commander.


Detailed intelligence is critical in integrating light infantry with tank and mechanized infantry forces. Light forces orient on concentrations of enemy units, including counterattack forces and artillery and air defense assets; they also focus on the enemyís infantry avenues of approach and LZs/PZs.


Either the light force or the tank/mechanized infantry force can fix the enemy, allowing the other force to maneuver. Whether it conducts the fixing operation or maneuver, the light force requires the advantage of close terrain. These maneuver considerations apply in light/heavy or heavy/light employment:

  • The light force is best suited to close and restricted terrain, where it can impede the enemyís mobility and nullify his ability to use long-range weapons and observation assets.
  • The differences between the operational tempo of light infantry and that of tanks and mechanized infantry is always a key consideration, as are rehearsal schedules. An early rehearsal may be required, both to allow light and heavy forces to take part jointly and to effectively resolve the operational differences.
  • To help prevent detection, the movement of light infantry must be planned to coincide with limited visibility conditions such as darkness, severe weather, smoke, or fog.
  • Direct and indirect fires should be mutually supporting during integrated operations. The company team can use its long-range direct fires to provide suppression, allowing infantry units to maneuver. Conversely, light infantry forces can provide overwatch or support by fire to the company team, allowing tanks and BFVs to maneuver in restricted terrain.
  • Mechanized units can assist infiltration by augmenting security at the LD. They can use their thermal capability to scan the area for enemy forces and can provide direct fire support as necessary.


Fire support assets available to both light and heavy forces must be integrated into the fire plan. Light infantry units have different indirect fire assets than do the heavy forces and have more limited communications assets associated with their indirect fire systems. Tank or mechanized infantry forces must recognize that dismounted infantry operations rely on stealth, which may not allow for preparatory and other preliminary fires. In addition, light forces are extremely vulnerable to indirect fires; as a result, light infantry positions should be designated as CFZs.


Air defense assets may be deployed to fight and provide protection within the scope and design of any organization. Because infantry forces frequently maneuver in restricted terrain, Avenger and BSFV coverage may not be feasible. In such operations, man-portable Stingers should be allocated to support the infantry.


A common obstacle plan must be developed for light/heavy or heavy/light operations. Light forces may be used to reduce obstacles and clear choke points for the tank and mechanized infantry forces. In breaching operations, light forces must ensure the breach is large enough for the widest vehicle in the operation.

Survivability remains the priority for light forces. They must be prepared to take advantage of the engineer assets available to the heavy forces.

In an NBC environment, light forces lack decontamination equipment and therefore are more limited than the tank or mechanized infantry force. The mobility of light forces is affected because soldiers must carry protective clothing in addition to their standard loads. When other transportation assets are not available, tank and mechanized infantry units should assist in carrying NBC equipment for light forces. Additionally, heavy battalions have expedient means to haul decontamination equipment and water, reducing the load for light infantry units. In planning for NBC operations, commanders must take METT-TC factors into account; they must plan linkup points to ensure their light forces can obtain critical NBC-related items as they need them.


Light units are not organized, equipped, or trained to meet the support requirements of a heavy unit. They must rely on considerable assistance from the heavy unitís organic elements and or from corps-level support assets to support an attached heavy unit. Heavy units, however, should be able to provide support to a light infantry attachment. For a more detailed discussion of CSS considerations, refer to Section 6 of this appendix.


Table H-1 lists the operations normally performed by a light brigade or battalion, along with the heavy company teamís supporting tasks or operations for each operation.

Table H-1. Light brigade/battalion operations and supporting
heavy company team operations and tasks.



Movement to contact

Support by fire; attack by fire; assault; breach;
follow and support; reserve; route clearance; convoy escort; checkpoint/roadblock operations.


Support by fire; attack by fire; assault; breach.


Serve as security force (screen); lead the exploitation (assault or attack by fire).


Serve as enveloping force, reserve (attack by fire
or assault), or security force (screen); lead direct pressure force (support by fire, attack by fire, or assault).

Security (screen, guard, cover)

Screen; guard; defend; delay; attack by fire; assault.


Screen; guard; defend; delay; attack by fire (counterattack); assault (counterattack).

Retrograde (delay, withdrawal, retirement)

Defend; delay; screen; guard; attack by fire (counterattack); withdraw.

Breakout from encirclement

Serve as rupture force (assault or attack by fire) or rear guard (delay).

Table H-2 lists the operations and tasks normally performed by the tank or mechanized infantry company team, along with the light platoonís supporting tasks for each operation or task.

Table H-2. Heavy company team operations and tasks and
supporting light platoon tasks.



Attack by fire

Secure an ABF position (reconnoiter an area or attack); provide local security or act as the blocking force (defend).

Support by fire

Secure an SBF position (reconnoiter an area or attack); provide local security; conduct overwatch/support by fire.


Serve as the fixing force (defend); perform linkup with follow-on forces.


Attack; assault; breach; overwatch/support by fire; knock out a bunker; clear a trench line; clear a building.

Clearance in restricted terrain

Attack; assault; overwatch/support by fire; knock out a bunker; clear a trench line; clear a building; breach.


Defend; defend MOUT/building; construct an obstacle.


Perform surveillance or screen.


Breach; overwatch/support by fire; assault.

Hasty water/gap crossing

Cross water obstacles; assault; overwatch/support by fire.


Delay; break contact.


Break contact; serve as advance party (assembly area procedures).



In some circumstances, tank or mechanized infantry sections may be task organized to light infantry companies, normally as OPCON elements. The infantry company is the lowest level to which a heavy section should be task organized. (NOTE: Individual vehicles should never be task organized.)


In addition to the organic and attached elements normally associated with a company team (as discussed in Chapter 1 of this manual), the company team may receive additional CS and CSS elements when it is OPCON or attached to a light force. Table H-3 summarizes these potential augmentation assets.

Table H-3. Heavy company team augmentation assets.



Support section (with 2 or 3 cargo HEMMTs, 2 fuel HEMMTs, mess team)

Parent heavy battalion

DS maintenance contact team (shop office section with limited ASL; automotive team; armament section with limited DX; communications/electrical section; 5,000-gallon POL tankers)

Parent heavy FSB

Mechanized engineer platoon

Parent heavy division engineer brigade

Air defense section

Parent heavy division ADA battalion

The heavy company team should be attached to a light brigade when the teamís parent unit is not adjacent to the brigadeís zone or sector and is not close enough to provide adequate logistical support for the heavy team. Attachment requires the light brigade to support the heavy company. To do this, the light brigade and its parent division must receive CSS attachments from the corps. These should include assets to provide Class III and Class V resupply, transportation, and heavy maintenance. It may be possible to provide assets from the company teamís parent division to the light division, routing them through the corps.


There are no special organizational considerations when a light platoon is attached to a heavy company team. The platoon operates as a single maneuver element under the control of the company team commander.

When the company team operates in support of light forces, it may deploy in one of several different configurations based on mission and situational requirements. These options, which may be limited by the task organization of the company team, include the following:

  • As a single element under control of the company team commander. The company team may provide support either under brigade control or under control of a designated battalion.
  • Split into two company(-) organizations (if four platoons are available), with the company team commander controlling one element and the XO controlling the other. Another command and control arrangement would have the company team commander controlling the company at a central location from the team CP while the two company(-) maneuver elements operate under control of the senior platoon leader in each. The XO may be tasked to control one of these elements as required.
  • Partially task organized, with one or two platoons attached to outside battalions. The company team headquarters and remaining platoon(s) are retained under the parent brigadeís control or are task organized to a battalion.
  • With individual platoons attached directly to outside battalions. The company team commander is located at the battalion with the most critical mission.


The following considerations apply in the employment of the heavy company team during light/heavy or heavy/light operations.


Commanders of heavy forces often overestimate (or simply fail to recognize) the speed with which dismounted elements can move. Numerous factors can affect the rate of march for light forces: tactical considerations, weather, terrain, march discipline, acclimatization, availability of water and/or rations, morale, individual soldiersí self-confidence, and individual loads. Table H-4 summarizes dismounted rates of march for normal terrain.

Table H-4. Dismounted rates of march (normal terrain).





4.0 kmph

2.4 kmph


3.2 kmph

1.6 kmph

The normal distance covered by a dismounted force in a 24-hour period is from 20 to 32 kilometers, marching from five to eight hours at a rate of 4 kmph. A march in excess of 32 kilometers in 24 hours is considered a forced march. Forced marches increase the number of hours marched, not the rate of march, and can be expected to impair the unitís fighting efficiency. Absolute maximum distances for dismounted marches are 56 kilometers in 24 hours, 96 kilometers in 48 hours, or 128 kilometers in 72 hours.


An additional maneuver consideration for a light/heavy or heavy/light operation is the decision of whether to move infantrymen on tanks. This mode of transportation can be difficult, but it is not impossible. It does, in fact, afford some significant advantages. The mounted infantry can provide additional security for the company team. When the team conducts a halt or must execute a breach or other tactical tasks, infantry assets are readily available to provide support and security. The commander must weigh the potential dangers of carrying dangers of carrying tank-mounted infantrymen against the advantages of mobility and security they can provide. For specific procedures and safety considerations involved in mounting infantry on tanks, refer to FM 17-15.


Communication between vehicle crews and soldiers on the ground is difficult, even under the best of circumstances. On M1-series tanks, the crew can route wire from the AM-1780 through the loaderís hatch or vision block to a field phone attached to the outside of the tank. Infantry squads can communicate with the BFV crew using the external wire connection located on the rear of the vehicle. In addressing the communications issues inherent in light/heavy or heavy/light operations, the commander may also consider altering radio net configurations and/or prearranging visual signals.


At least initially, most infantrymen will not be familiar with the hazards that may arise during operations with tanks, BFVs, and other armored vehicles. The most obvious of these include the dangers associated with main gun fire and the inability of armored vehicle crews to see people and objects near their vehicles.

Leaders of heavy and light units alike must ensure that their troops understand the following points of operational safety:

  • Tank sabot rounds and BFV antipersonnel rounds discard stabilizing petals when fired, creating a downrange hazard for infantry. The aluminum petals of the tank rounds are discarded in an area extending 70 meters to the left and right of the gun-target line out to a range of 1 kilometer. The danger zone for BFV rounds extends 30 degrees to the left and right of the gun-target line out to 200 meters from the vehicle. Infantrymen should not be in or near the direct line of fire for the tank main gun or BFV cannon unless they are under adequate overhead cover.
  • Tank main guns create noise in excess of 140 decibels. Repeated exposure to this level of noise can cause severe hearing loss, even deafness. In addition, dangerous noise levels may extend more than 600 meters from the tank. Single-layer hearing protection, such as ear plugs, will allow infantrymen to work within 25 meters of the side or rear of the tank without significant hazard.
  • Crewmen on tanks and BFVs have very limited ability to see anyone on the ground to the side or rear of the vehicle. As a result, vehicle crews and dismounted infantrymen share responsibility for avoiding the hazards this may create. Infantrymen must maintain a safe distance from armored vehicles at all times. In addition, when they work close to an armored vehicle, dismounted soldiers must ensure that the vehicle commander knows their location at all times.
  • NOTE: A related hazard is that M1-series tanks are deceptively quiet and may be difficult for infantrymen to hear as they approach. As noted, vehicle crews and dismounted infantrymen share the responsibility for eliminating potential dangers in this situation.

  • M1-series tanks have an extremely hot exhaust plume that exits from the rear of the tank and angles downward. This exhaust is hot enough to burn skin and clothing.
  • The TOW missile system has a dangerous area extending 75 meters to the rear of the vehicle in a 90-degree "cone." The area is divided into a 50-meter danger zone and a 25-meter caution zone.


CSS planning and execution are critical elements for integration of light and heavy forces. Light brigades are not organized, equipped, or trained to meet the support requirements of a heavy company team. CSS may be further complicated if the heavy team is operating across a large geographical area to meet the demands of a decentralized mission. On the other hand, a heavy organization will normally be able to meet the logistical needs of an attached light unit; this includes the attachment of a light platoon to the company team. The following discussion covers CSS considerations that may affect light/heavy and heavy/light operations.


Light/heavy operations may require the heavy team to integrate into the light brigade organization early in the deployment phase. In turn, this may require CSS assets to move into the theater of operations very early as well, usually at the same time as the command and control elements. Specific support requirements, including the needed quantities of supplies, will depend on the mission; they must be planned and coordinated as early as possible. In addition, because the light brigade does not possess the required logistical redundancy to sustain the heavy company team, it is imperative that mission requirements calling for division- or corps-level CSS assets be identified early in the planning process.


Operations with a light brigade create many unique supply considerations for the heavy company team. The sheer bulk and volume of supplies required by the heavy team merit special attention during the planning and preparation phases. The following paragraphs examine some of these supply-related considerations.

Class I

Class I food requirements are determined based on the heavy teamís personnel strength reports. This process may be complicated by unique mission requirements imposed on the team, such as rapid changes in task organization or dispersion of subordinate team elements over a wide area.

Class II

Many Class II items required by tank and BFV crews, such as specialized tools and Nomex clothing, may be difficult to obtain in a light organization. Although such items can be ordered through normal supply channels, the heavy company team may face significant delays in receiving them. To overcome this problem, the heavy team should identify any potential shortages and arrange to obtain the needed supplies before leaving its parent organization.

Class III

The fuel and other POL products required by the heavy company team are extremely bulky; they present the greatest CSS challenges in planning and preparing for light/heavy operations. Transportation support must be planned carefully. For example, planners must consider the placement of fuel HEMMTs during all phases of the operation. They must also focus on general-use POL products, such as lubricants, that are not ordinarily used by the light brigade. As noted previously, the heavy team should stock its basic load of these items, as well as make necessary resupply arrangements, before attachment to the light brigade.

Class IV

The heavy company team does not have any unique requirements for barrier or fortification materials. The main consideration is that any Class IV materials that the team commander wants may have to be loaded and carried prior to attachment.

Class V

Along with POL products, ammunition for the heavy company team presents the greatest transportation challenge in light/heavy operations. Planning for Class V resupply should parallel that for Class III; key considerations include anticipated mission requirements and the availability of HEMMTs. Ammunition may be prestocked based on expected consumption rates.

Class VI

Light/heavy operations create no unique requirements for personal demand items and sundries.

Class VII

Class VII consists of major end items; this includes entire vehicles, such as a "float" tank or BFV the company team requires as a replacement for one its organic vehicles. The handling of these items requires thorough planning to determine transportation requirements and positioning in the scheme of the operation.

Class VIII

The heavy company team involved in light/heavy operations has no unique requirements for medical supplies.

Class IX

Repair parts for combat vehicles are essential to the sustainment of the heavy company team. Requirements for items on the teamís PLL and ASL must be carefully considered before light/heavy operations begin. The team may find it advantageous to prestock selected items to meet its anticipated needs.


The variety of organizational options for the heavy company team, such as deployment as a single unit or attachment of separate platoons, requires that the teamís CSS organization be both flexible and adaptable. Most CSS assets supporting the heavy team will operate from the BSA. The company team trains, under control of the 1SG, will generally operate as a single entity in support of detached platoons and other team assets. The exception is when the heavy team is operating as two equal company(-) elements. If the team has sufficient assets, it can split its CSS effort into two separate support elements, each working directly with a company(-) element.