Stability Operations

Stability operations apply military power to influence the political environment, to facilitate diplomacy, or to interrupt or prevent specific illegal activities. These operations cover a broad spectrum. At one end are development and assistance activities aimed at enhancing a governmentís willingness and ability to care for its people. At the other are coercive military actions; these involve the application of limited, carefully prescribed force, or the threat of force, to achieve specific objectives. Army elements may be tasked to conduct stability operations to accomplish one or more of the following purposes:

  • Deter or thwart aggression.
  • Reassure allies and friendly governments, agencies, or groups.
  • Provide encouragement and/or support for a weak or faltering government.
  • Stabilize an area with a restless or openly hostile population.
  • Maintain or restore order.
  • Lend force, or the appearance of force, to national or international agreements and policies.

For more detailed information on stability operations, refer to the following publications:


Section 1 Planning Considerations
Decentralized Operations
Rules of Engagement
Rules of Interaction
Force Protection
Task Organization
CSS Considerations
Media Considerations
Operations with Outside Agencies
Section 2 Stability Activities
Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
Support to Domestic Civil Authority
Peace Operations
Show of Force
Support to Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Operations
Combating Terrorism
Support to Counterdrug Operations
Arms Control and Nation Assistance
Section 3 Company Team Tasks
Establish and Occupy a Lodgment Area
Conduct Negotiations
Monitor Compliance with an Agreement
Establish Observation Posts
Establish Checkpoints
Conduct Patrol Operations
Conduct Convoy Escort
Open and Secure Routes
Conduct Reserve Operations


The following paragraphs examine several important considerations that will influence planning and preparation for stability operations. For a more detailed discussion of these subjects, refer to FM 100-23.


Although stability operations are normally centrally planned, execution often takes the form of small-scale, decentralized actions conducted over extended distances. Responsibility for making decisions on the ground will fall to junior leaders. Effective command guidance and a thorough understanding of ROE (refer to the following paragraph) are critical at each operational level.


The ROE are directives that explain the circumstances and limitations under which US forces initiate and/or continue combat engagement with hostile forces. These rules reflect the requirements of the laws of war, operational concerns, and political considerations when the operational environment shifts from peace to conflict and back to peace.

ROE must be briefed and trained to the lowest operational level. They should be established for, disseminated to, and thoroughly understood by every soldier in the unit. Another important consideration in development and employment of ROE is that commanders must assume that the belligerents they encounter will also understand the ROE; these unfriendly elements will attempt to use the ROE to their own advantage (and to the disadvantage of the friendly force). Refer to FM 100-23 for a more detailed discussion of ROE.


These directives, known as ROI, embody the human dimension of stability operations; they lay the foundation for successful relationships with the myriad of factions and individuals that play critical roles in these operations. ROI encompass an array of interpersonal communication skills, such as persuasion and negotiation.

These are tools the individual soldier will need to deal with the nontraditional threats that are prevalent in stability operations, including political friction, unfamiliar cultures, and conflicting ideologies. In turn, ROI enhance the soldierís survivability in such situations.

ROI are based on the applicable ROE for a particular operation; they must be tailored to the specific regions, cultures, and/or populations affected by the operation. Like ROE, ROI can be effective only if they are thoroughly rehearsed and understood by every soldier in the unit.


Commanders must implement appropriate security measures to protect the force. Establishment of checkpoints, effective base camp security procedures, and aggressive patrolling are examples of force protection measures.


Because of the unique requirements of stability operations, the company team may be task organized to operate with a variety of units. This includes some elements with which the team does not normally work, such as linguists, counterintelligence teams, and civil affairs teams.


The operational environment the company team faces during stability operations may be very austere, creating special CSS considerations. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reliance on local procurement of certain items.
  • Shortages of various critical items, including repair parts, Class IV supply materials, and lubricants.
  • Special Class V supply requirements, such as pepper spray.
  • Reliance on bottled water.


The presence of the media is a reality that confronts every soldier involved in stability operations. All leaders and soldiers must know how to deal effectively with broadcast and print reporters and photographers. This should include an understanding of which subjects they are authorized to discuss and which ones they must refer to the PAO.


US Army units may conduct certain stability operations in coordination with a variety of outside organizations. These include other US armed services or government agencies as well as international organizations (including private volunteer organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and UN military forces or agencies).


FM 100-5 categorizes stability operations into several activities. The boundaries between these activities are not always well defined nor are they meant to be exhaustive. This section provides an introductory discussion of stability activities; for more detailed information, refer to FM 100-5 and FM 7-98.


NEOs are primarily conducted to evacuate US citizens whose lives are in danger, although they may also include natives of the host nation and third-country aliens friendly to the United States. These operations involve swift insertion and temporary occupation of an objective, followed by a planned withdrawal. Leaders use only the amount of force required for self-defense and protection of evacuees.


Domestic support operations, covered in FM 100-19, are conducted by military forces in support of federal and state officials under provisions of, and limited by, the Posse Comitatus Act and other laws and regulations. Actions defined by the US Congress as threats to national security warranting military support include drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and customs violations.


Peace operations encompass three general areas: diplomatic (peacemaking and peace-building), traditional peacekeeping, and threatened or actual forceful military actions (peace enforcement). The company team may participate in peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations.


A peacekeeping force facilitates truce negotiations and political settlement of disputes. In doing so, it must assure each side in the dispute that other parties are not taking advantage of settlement terms to their own benefit. Peacekeeping differs from internal security in that the force does not act in support of a government. Rather, the peacekeeping force must remain entirely neutral; if it loses a reputation for impartiality, its usefulness within the peacekeeping mission is destroyed.

Peace enforcement

Several unique characteristics distinguish peace enforcement activities from wartime operations and from other stability operations. The purpose of peace enforcement is to maintain or restore peace under conditions broadly defined at the international level. It may entail combat, armed intervention, or physical threat of armed intervention. Under the provisions of an international agreement, the task force and its subordinate company teams may be called upon to use coercive military power to compel compliance with international sanctions or resolutions.


Forces deployed abroad lend credibility to a nationís promises and commitments. In support of this principle, show of force operations are meant to reassure a friendly nation or ally through a display of credible military force directed at potential adversaries. These operations may also be conducted to influence foreign governments or political-military organizations to respect US interests.


This type of support includes assistance provided by US forces to help a friendly nation or group that is attempting to combat insurgent elements or to stage an insurgency itself. This type of stability activity is normally conducted by special forces.


In all types of stability operations, antiterrorism and counterterrorism activities are a continuous requirement in protecting installations, units, and individuals from the threat of terrorism. Antiterrorism focuses on defensive measures. Counterterrorism encompasses a full range of offensive measures to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. For more information on these activities, refer to JCS Publication 3-07.2.


US military forces may be tasked for a variety of counterdrug activities, which are always conducted in conjunction with another government agency. These activities include destroying illicit drugs and disrupting or interdicting drug manufacturing, growing, processing, and smuggling operations. Counterdrug support may take the form of advisory personnel, mobile training teams, offshore training activities, and assistance in logistics, communications, and intelligence.


Armored and mechanized company teams may work with another nationís military to conduct arms control or nation assistance activities. These types of support usually entail short-term, high-impact operations.



A lodgment area is a highly prepared position used as a base of operations in stability operations. Like an assembly area or defensive strongpoint, the lodgment provides a staging area for the occupying unit, affords a degree of force protection, and requires 360-degree security.

At the same time, several important characteristics distinguish the lodgment area from less permanent positions. Most notable is the level of preparation and logistical support required for long-term occupation. The lodgment must have shelters and facilities that can support the occupying force and its attachments for an extended period. The area must be positioned and developed so the unit can effectively conduct its primary missions (such as peace enforcement or counterterrorism) throughout its area of responsibility.

In establishing the lodgment, the company team may use existing facilities or request construction of new facilities. A key advantage in using existing structures is immediate availability; this also reduces or eliminates the need for construction support from engineers and members of the team. There are disadvantages as well. Existing facilities may be inadequate to meet the teamís operational needs, and they may pose security problems because of their proximity to other structures.

The company team may establish and occupy a lodgment area as part of a task force or, with significant support from the controlling task force, as a separate element. Figure J-1 illustrates a company team lodgment area established using existing facilities.

Planning the
lodgemant area

Before he begins preparation, construction, and occupation of the lodgment area, the commander must plan its general layout. He should evaluate these factors:

  • Location of the lodgment area.
  • Effects of weather.
  • Traffic patterns.
  • OP sites and/or patrol routes.
  • Entry and exit procedures.
  • Vehicle emplacement and orientation.
  • Bunkers and fighting positions.
  • Fire planning.
  • Size and composition of the reserve.
  • Location of possible LZs and PZs.
  • CSS considerations, including locations of the following:
  • - Mess areas, showers, and latrines (including drainage).

    - Storage bunkers for Class III, Class IV, and Class V supplies.

    - Maintenance and refueling areas.

    - Aid station.

  • CP site security.
  • Size, composition, and function of advance/reconnaissance parties.
  • Nature and condition of existing facilities (quarters; water, sewer, and power utilities; reinforced "hardstand" areas for maintenance).
  • Proximity to structures and/or roadways (including security factors).

Priorities of work

The commander must designate priorities of work as the company team establishes the lodgment area. He should consider the following tasks:

  • Establishment of security of the immediate area and the perimeter.
  • Establishment of initial roadblocks to limit access to the area.
  • Mine clearance.
  • Construction of revetments to protect vehicles, generators, communications equipment, and other facilities.
  • Construction of barriers or berms around the lodgment area to limit observation of the compound and provide protection for occupants.
  • Construction of shelters for lodgment personnel.
  • Construction of defensive positions.
  • Construction of sanitation and personal hygiene facilities.
  • Construction of hardened CP facilities.
  • Continuing activities to improve the site (such as adding hard-wire electrical power or perimeter illumination).

Figure J-1. Example company team lodgment area using existing facilities.


The company team may face a number of situations in which leaders will need to conduct negotiations. There are two general types of negotiations: situational and preplanned. Situational negotiations are conducted in response to a requirement for on-the-spot discussion and resolution of a specific issue or problem. An example would be members of an advance guard negotiating the passage of a convoy through a checkpoint. Preplanned negotiations are conducted in such situations as a company team commander conducting a work coordination meeting between commanders of former warring factions, known as FWFs, to determine mine clearance responsibilities.


At the company team level, situational negotiations are far more common than the preplanned type. In fact, employment in stability operations will require the commander, his subordinate leaders, and other soldiers to conduct some form of negotiations almost daily. This in turn requires them to have a thorough understanding of the ROE and ROI.

Members of the company team apply this working knowledge to the process of discussing and, whenever possible, resolving issues and problems that arise between opposing parties, which may include the team itself. A critical aspect of this knowledge is the negotiatorís ability to recognize that he has exhausted his options under the ROE/ROI and must turn the discussion over to a higher authority. Negotiations continue at progressive levels of authority until the issue is resolved.

In preparing themselves and their soldiers for the negotiation process, the commander and subordinate leaders must conduct rehearsals covering the ROE and ROI. One effective technique is to war-game application of ROE/ROI in a given stability situation, such as manning a checkpoint. This forces leaders and subordinates alike to analyze the ROE/ROI and apply them in an operational environment.


Preplanned negotiations require negotiators to thoroughly understand both the dispute or issue at hand and the factors influencing it, such as the ROE and ROI, before talks begin. The negotiatorís ultimate goal is to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides and that reduces antagonism (and/or the chance of renewed hostilities) between the parties involved. The following paragraphs list guidelines and procedures for each phase of the negotiation process.

Identify the purpose
of negotiations

Before contacting leaders of the belligerent parties to initiate the negotiation process, the commander must familiarize himself with both the situation and the area in which his unit will be operating. This includes identifying and evaluating avenues of approach that connect the opposing forces. Results of the negotiation process, which may be lengthy and complicated, must be based on national or international agreements or accords. Negotiation topics include the following:

  • When the sides will withdraw.
  • Positions to which they will withdraw (these should be located to preclude observation and direct fire by the opposing parties).
  • What forces or elements will move during each phase of the operation.
  • Pre-positioning of peace forces that can intervene in case of renewed hostilities.
  • Control of heavy weapons.
  • Mine clearance.
  • Formal protest procedures for the belligerent parties.
Establish the
proper context

The next step in the process is to earn the trust and confidence of each opposing party. This includes establishing an atmosphere (and a physical setting) that participants will judge to be both fair and safe. These considerations apply:

  • Always conduct joint negotiations on matters that affect both parties.
  • When serving as a mediator, remain neutral at all times.
  • Learn as much as possible about the belligerents, the details of the dispute or issue being negotiated, and other factors such as the geography of the area and specific limitations or restrictions (for example, the ROE and ROI).
  • Gain and keep the trust of the opposing parties by being firm, fair, and polite.
  • Use tact, remain patient, and be objective.
  • Never deviate from applicable local and national laws and international agreements.
Prepare for the

Thorough, exacting preparation is another important factor in ensuring the success of the negotiation process. Company team personnel should use the following guidelines:

  • Negotiate sequentially, from subordinate level to senior level.
  • Select and prepare a meeting place that is acceptable to all parties.
  • Arrange for interpreters and adequate communications facilities as necessary.
  • Ensure that all opposing parties, as well as the negotiating team, use a common map (edition and scale).
  • Coordinate all necessary movement.
  • Establish local security.
  • Keep higher headquarters informed throughout preparation and during the negotiations.
  • Make arrangements to record the negotiations (use audio or video recording equipment, if available).
Conduct the

Negotiators must always strive to maintain control of the session. They must be firm, yet evenhanded, in leading the discussion. At the same time, they must be flexible, with a willingness to accept recommendations from the opposing parties and from their own assistants and advisors. The following procedures and guidelines apply:

  • Exchange greetings.
  • Introduce all participants by name, including negotiators and any advisors.
  • Consider the use of small talk at the beginning of the session to put the participants at ease.
  • Allow each side to state its case without interruption and without making premature judgments.
  • Make a record of issues presented by both sides.
  • If one side makes a statement that is incorrect, be prepared to produce evidence or proof to establish the facts.
  • If the negotiating team or peacekeeping force has a preferred solution, present it and encourage both sides to accept it.
  • Close the meeting by explaining to both sides what has been agreed upon and what actions they are expected to take. If necessary, be prepared to present this information in writing for their signatures.
  • Do not negotiate or make deals in the presence of the media.
  • Maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times.


Compliance monitoring involves observing FWFs and working with them to ensure they meet the conditions of one or more applicable agreements. Examples of the process include overseeing the separation of opposing combat elements, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from a sector, or the clearance of a minefield. Planning for compliance monitoring should cover, but is not limited to, the following considerations:

  • Liaison teams, with suitable communications and transportation assets, are assigned to the headquarters of the opposing sides. Liaison personnel maintain communications with the leaders of their assigned element; they also talk directly to each other and to their mutual commander (the company team or task force commander).
  • The commander positions himself at the point where it is most likely that violations could occur.
  • He positions platoons and squads where they can observe the opposing parties, instructing them to assess compliance and report any violations.
  • As directed, the commander keeps higher headquarters informed of all developments, including his assessment of compliance and/or noncompliance.


Construction and manning of OPs is a high-frequency task for company teams and subordinate elements when they must establish area security during stability operations. Each OP is established for a specified time and purpose. During most stability operations, OPs are both overt (conspicuously visible, unlike their tactical counterparts) and deliberately constructed. They are similar in construction to bunkers (refer to FM 5-103) and are supported by fighting positions, barriers, and patrols. (NOTE: If necessary, the company team can also employ hasty OPs, which are similar to individual fighting positions.) Based on METT-TC factors, deliberate OPs may include specialized facilities such as the following:

  • Observation tower.
  • Ammunition and fuel storage area.
  • Power sources.
  • Supporting helipad.
  • Kitchen, sleep area, shower, and/or toilet.

Each OP must be integrated into supporting direct and indirect fire plans and into the overall observation plan. Figure J-2 illustrates an example OP.

Figure J-2. Example deliberate observation post.


Establishment of checkpoints is a high-frequency task for company teams and subordinate elements involved in stability operations. Checkpoints can be either deliberate or hasty.


The team or a subordinate element may be directed to establish a checkpoint to achieve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Deter illegal movement.
  • Create an instant roadblock.
  • Control movement into the area of operations or onto a specific route.
  • Demonstrate the presence of peace forces.
  • Prevent smuggling of contraband.
  • Enforce the terms of peace agreements.
  • Serve as an OP and/or patrol base.


Checkpoint layout, construction, and manning should reflect METT-TC factors, including the amount of time available for emplacing it. The layout of a deliberate checkpoint is depicted in Figure J-3. The following procedures and considerations may apply:

  • Position the checkpoint where it is visible and where traffic cannot turn back, get off the road, or bypass the checkpoint without being observed.
  • Position a combat vehicle off the road, but within sight, to deter resistance to soldiers manning the checkpoint. The vehicle should be in a hull-down position and protected by local security. It must be able to engage vehicles attempting to break through or bypass the checkpoint.
  • Place obstacles in the road to slow or canalize traffic into the search area.
  • Establish a reserve.
  • Establish a bypass lane for approved convoy traffic.
  • Establish wire communications within the checkpoint area to connect the checkpoint bunker, the combat vehicle, the search area, security forces, the rest area, and any other elements involved in the operation.
  • Designate the search area. If possible, it should be belowground to provide protection against such incidents as the explosion of a booby-trapped vehicle. Establish a parking area adjacent to the search area.
  • If applicable, checkpoint personnel should include linguists.
  • Properly construct and equip the checkpoint. Consider inclusion of the following items:
  • - Barrels filled with sand, concrete, or water (emplaced to slow and canalize vehicles).

    - Concertina wire (emplaced to control movement around the checkpoint).

    - Secure facilities for radio and wire communications with the controlling headquarters.

    - First-aid kit.

    - Sandbags for defensive positions.

    - Wood or other materials for the checkpoint bunker.

    - Binoculars, night vision devices, and/or flashlights.

    - Long-handled mirrors (these are used in inspections of vehicle undercarriages).

  • Elements manning a deliberate CP may require access to specialized equipment, such as the following:
  • - Floodlights.

    - Duty log.

    - Flag and unit sign.

    - Barrier pole that can be raised and lowered.

    - Generators with electric wire.

Figure J-3. Example deliberate checkpoint layout.


Patrolling is also a high-frequency task during stability operations. Planning and execution of an area security patrol are similar to procedures for other tactical patrols except that patrol leaders must consider political implications and ROE. (NOTE: Refer to FM 7-10 for a detailed discussion of patrol operations.)

Figure J-4 illustrates the use of patrols, in conjunction with checkpoints and OPs, in enforcing a zone of separation between belligerent forces.

Figure J-4. Example employment of checkpoints, OPs, and patrols to enforce a zone of separation.


This mission requires the company team to provide a convoy with security and close-in protection from direct fire while on the move. The task force may choose this course of action if enemy contact is imminent or when it anticipates a serious threat to the security of the convoy. Depending on METT-TC factors, the company team is capable of providing effective protection for a large convoy. (NOTE: Smaller-scale convoy escort operations may be conducted by lighter security forces such as military police units.)

Battle command

The task organization inherent in convoy escort missions makes battle command especially critical. The company team commander may serve either as the convoy security commander or as overall convoy commander. In the latter role, he is responsible for the employment not only of his own organic combat elements but also of CS and CSS attachments and drivers of the escorted vehicles. He must incorporate all of these elements into the various contingency plans developed for the operation. He must also maintain his link with the controlling TOC.

Effective SOPs and drills must supplement OPORD information for the convoy, and rehearsals should be conducted if time permits. Additionally, extensive PCCs and PCIs must be conducted, to include inspection of the escorted vehicles. The commander must also ensure that all required coordination is conducted with units and elements in areas through which the convoy will pass.

Before the mission begins, the convoy commander should issue a complete OPORD to all vehicle commanders in the convoy. This is vital because the convoy may itself be task organized from a variety of units and because some vehicles may not have tactical radios. The order should follow the standard five-paragraph OPORD format; it may place special emphasis on these subjects:

  • Inspection of convoy vehicles.
  • Route of march (including a strip map for each vehicle commander).
  • Order of march.
  • Actions at halts (scheduled and unscheduled).
  • Actions in case of vehicle breakdown.
  • Actions for a break in column.
  • Actions in built-up areas.
  • Actions on contact, covering such situations as snipers, enemy contact (including near or far ambush), indirect fire, and minefields.
  • Riot drill.
  • Refugee control drill.
  • Evacuation drill.
  • Actions at the delivery site.
  • Chain of command.
  • Guidelines and procedures for negotiating with local authorities.
  • Communications and signal information.

Tactical disposition

In any escort operation, the basic mission of the convoy commander (and, as applicable, the convoy security commander) is to establish and maintain security in all directions and throughout the length of the convoy. He must be prepared to adjust the disposition of the security force to fit the security requirements of each particular situation. Several factors affect this disposition, including METT-TC, convoy size, organization of the convoy, and types of vehicles involved. In some instances, the commander may position security elements, such as platoons, to the front, rear, and/or flanks of the convoy. As an alternative, he may disperse the combat vehicles throughout the convoy body.

Task organization

When sufficient escort assets are available, the convoy commander will usually organize convoy security into three distinct elements: advance guard,
close-in protective group, and rear guard. He may also designate a reserve to handle contingency situations. Figure J-5 shows a company team escort force task organized with an engineer platoon, an aerial scout section, a task force wheeled scout section, a BSFV air defense vehicle, a task force mortar section, and the teamís normal maintenance and medical attachments. (NOTE: The convoy escort will normally be provided with linguists as required.)

The following paragraphs examine the role of the advance guard, of security assets accompanying the convoy main body, and of the reserve.

Advance guard

The advance guard reconnoiters and proofs the convoy route. It searches for signs of enemy activity, such as ambushes and obstacles. Within its capabilities, it attempts to clear the route. The distance and time separation between the advance guard and the main body should be sufficient to provide the convoy commander with adequate early warning before the arrival of the vehicle column; however, the separation should be short enough that the route cannot be interdicted between the passage of the advance guard and the arrival of the main body.

The advance guard should be task organized with reconnaissance elements (wheeled scouts and aerial scouts, if available), combat elements (a tank or mechanized infantry platoon), and mobility assets (an engineer squad and a tank with plow or roller). As necessary, it should also include linguists.

Main body

The commander may choose to intersperse security elements with the vehicles of the convoy main body. These may include combat elements (including the rear guard), the convoy commander, additional linguists, mobility assets, and medical and maintenance support assets. Depending on METT-TC, the convoy commander may also consider the employment of flank security. The length of the convoy may dictate that he position the accompanying mortars with the main body.


In a company team escort mission, the reserve may consist of a tank or mechanized infantry platoon and the attached mortar section, if available. The reserve force will either move with the convoy or be located at a staging area close enough to provide immediate interdiction against enemy forces. The supporting headquarters will normally designate an additional reserve, consisting of an additional company team or combat aviation assets, to support the convoy operation.

Figure J-5. Example company team convoy escort mission.

Actions on contact

As the convoy moves to its new location, the enemy may attempt to harass or destroy it. This contact will usually occur in the form of an ambush, often executed in coordination with the use of a hasty obstacle. In such a situation, the safety of the convoy rests on the speed and effectiveness with which escort elements can execute appropriate actions on contact.

Based on the factors of METT-TC, portions of the convoy security force, such as a tank platoon or tank section, may be designated as a reaction force. This element performs its normal escort duties, such as conducting tactical movement or occupying an assembly area, as required until enemy contact occurs; it then is given a reaction mission by the convoy commander.

Actions at
an ambush

An ambush is one of the most effective ways to interdict a convoy. Conversely, reaction to an ambush must be immediate, overwhelming, and decisive. Actions on contact in response to an ambush must be planned for and rehearsed so they can be executed as a drill by all escort and convoy elements; particular attention should be given to fratricide prevention.

In almost all situations, the security force will take several specific, instantaneous actions in reacting to an ambush. These steps include the following:

  • As soon as they acquire an enemy force, the escort vehicles action toward the enemy. They seek covered positions between the convoy and the enemy and suppress the enemy with the highest possible volume of fire permitted by the ROE. Contact reports are sent to higher headquarters as quickly as possible.
  • The convoy commander retains control of the convoy vehicles and continues to move them along the route at the highest possible speed.
  • Convoy vehicles, if they are armed, may return fire only if the security force has not positioned itself between the convoy and the enemy force.
  • Subordinate leaders or the convoy commander may request that any damaged or disabled vehicles be abandoned and pushed off the route.
  • The escort leader uses SPOTREPs to keep the convoy security commander informed. If necessary, the escort leader or the security commander can then request support from the reserve; he can also call for and adjust indirect fires.
  • Once the convoy is clear of the kill zone, the escort element executes one of the following COAs based on the composition of the escort and reaction forces, the commanderís intent, and the strength of the enemy force:
  • - Continue to suppress the enemy as the reserve moves to provide support.

    - Assault the enemy.

    - Break contact and move out of the kill zone.

Actions at
an obstacle

Obstacles pose a major threat to convoy security. Obstacles can be used to harass the convoy by delaying it; if the terrain is favorable, the obstacle may stop the convoy altogether. In addition, obstacles can canalize or stop the convoy to set up an enemy ambush. The purpose of route reconnaissance ahead of a convoy is to identify obstacles and either breach them or find bypasses. In some cases, however, the enemy or its obstacles may avoid detection by the reconnaissance element. If this happens, the convoy must take actions to reduce or bypass the obstacle.

When an obstacle is identified, the convoy escort faces two problems: reducing or bypassing the obstacle and maintaining protection for the convoy. Security becomes critical, and actions at the obstacle must be accomplished very quickly. The convoy commander must assume that the obstacle is overwatched and covered by enemy fires.

To reduce the time the convoy is halted and thus to reduce its vulnerability, these actions should occur when the convoy escort encounters point-type obstacles:

  • The lead element identifies the obstacle and directs the convoy to make a short halt and establish security. The escort overwatches the obstacle and requests that the breach force move forward.
  • The escort maintains 360-degree security and provides overwatch as the breach force reconnoiters the obstacle in search of a bypass.
  • Once all reconnaissance is complete, the convoy commander determines which of the following COAs he will take:
  • - Bypass the obstacle.

    - Breach the obstacle with the assets on hand.

    - Breach the obstacle with reinforcing assets.

    NOTE: Among the obstacles the convoy may encounter is an impromptu checkpoint established by civilians or noncombat elements. If the checkpoint cannot be bypassed or breached, the commander must be prepared to negotiate passage for the convoy.

  • The commander relays a SPOTREP higher and, if necessary, requests support from combat reaction forces, engineer assets (if they are not part of the convoy), and aerial reconnaissance elements.
  • Artillery units or the supporting mortar section are alerted to be prepared to provide fire support.

Actions during
a halt

During a short halt, the convoy escort remains at REDCON-1 status regardless of what actions other convoy vehicles are taking. If the halt is for any reason other than an obstacle, the following actions should be taken:

  • The convoy commander signals the short halt and transmits the order via tactical radio. Based on METT-TC factors, he directs all vehicles in the convoy to execute the designated formation or drill for the halt.
  • Ideally, the convoy will assume a herringbone or coil formation. If the sides of the road are untrafficable or are mined, however, noncombat vehicles may simply pull over and establish 360-degree security as best they can. This will allow movement of the escort vehicles as necessary through the convoy main body.
  • If possible, escort vehicles are positioned up to 100 meters beyond other convoy vehicles, which are just clear of the route. Escort vehicles remain at REDCON-1 but establish local security based on the factors of METT-TC.
  • When the order is given to move out, convoy vehicles reestablish the movement formation, leaving space for escort vehicles. Once the convoy is in column, local security elements (if used) return to their vehicles, and the escort vehicles rejoin the column.
  • When all elements are in column, the convoy resumes movement.


This task is a mobility operation normally conducted by the engineers. The company team may be tasked to assist them using its mine plows and rollers and to provide overwatch support. The route may be cleared to achieve one of several tactical purposes:

  • For use by the task force for its initial entry into an area of operations.
  • To clear a route ahead of a planned convoy to ensure that belligerent elements have not emplaced new obstacles since the last time the route was cleared.
  • To secure the route to make it safe for use as an MSR.

The planning considerations associated with opening and securing a route are similar to those for a convoy escort operation. The company team commander must analyze the route and develop contingency plans covering such possibilities as likely ambush locations and sites that are likely to be mined. The size and composition of a team charged with opening and securing a route is based on METT-TC. For additional information on combine arms route clearance operations, refer to FM 20-32.


Reserve operations in the stability environment are similar to those in other tactical operations in that they allow the commander to plan for a variety of contingencies based on the higher unitís mission. As noted throughout this section, the reserve may play a critical role in almost any stability activity or mission, including lodgment area establishment, convoy escort, and area security.

The reserve force must be prepared at all times to execute its operations within the time limits specified by the controlling headquarters. For example, a platoon-size reserve may be directed to complete an operation within 5 minutes, while a company-size force may be allotted 10 minutes.

The controlling headquarters may also tailor the size and composition of the reserve according to the mission it is assigned. If the reserve is supporting a convoy mission, it may consist of a company team; in a mission to support established checkpoints, the reserve force may be the dismounted elements from a platoon or company team, supported by aviation assets.