With over 10 years of experience in providing
multifunctional support, the Special Operations forward support
company can serve as a model for conventional forward support
companies that are learning to operate as multifunctional,
The Army’s functional logistics companies have transformed
recently to multifunctional companies that are assigned directly
to maneuver battalions. However, the Special Operations forward
support company (FSC) has been conducting multifunctional
operations since 1995. The responsibilities of the
Special Operations FSC commander have expanded over the years
from mainly training, resourcing, and deploying the company
in support of Special Operations Forces to include planning
for operations. Planning and developing the concept of support
are now critical duties for the FSC commander. This article
will focus on the Special Operations FSC commander’s
expanded responsibilities and the organization of the FSC in
today’s operating environment.
Planning FSC Operations
For an FSC commander, developing plans
with the supported battalion’s logistics officer (S–4)
is just as important as training or resourcing the company. Being
aware of the supported battalion’s operations allows the
FSC commander to develop support concepts that sustain current
operations but are flexible enough to function in the contemporary
operating environment. This is a change from the current doctrine
for an FSC commander outlined in Field Manual-Interim (FMI) 4–90.1,
Heavy Brigade Combat Team Logistics—
The commander is responsible
for everything the FSC does or fails to do. He must be proficient
in the tactical employment of the company and its assigned
and attached logistics elements. The commander must also know the capabilities
and limitations of the company’s personnel and equipment in performing
the sustainment mission as well as those of the logistical elements
attached to him. Additionally, his responsibilities include leadership,
tactical employment, training, administration, personnel management,
supply, maintenance, communications, and sustainment activities of
These duties require the commander to understand the capabilities of
the company’s Soldiers and equipment and to know how to employ
them to best tactical and logistics advantage. At the same time, the
be well versed in enemy organizations, doctrine, and equipment.
An analysis of the FSC commander’s responsibilities
as outlined in FMI 4–90.1 suggests that he also would
be the officer best suited to develop the support concept
and perform the role of support operations officer (SPO).
Yet the FMI tasks the company executive officer or a platoon
leader with this responsibility. The officer who performs
the role of SPO must understand multifunctional logistics
and logistics planning. These tasks require experience and
schooling in order to create executable plans. Thus, SPO
is a role that the FSC commander should perform with assistance
from his subordinates.
When a Special Operations FSC commander deploys, he may have a planner from
his battalion support operations shop to assist in conducting operations.
Yet, he is the officer most experienced in providing logistics support. He
attends the supported unit’s meetings and updates to maintain situational
awareness. He then can anticipate upcoming requirements and develop support
plans to meet those requirements. He uses his personal experience and understanding
of his company’s capabilities to provide support without exceeding
its capabilities. He is not only a commander but also a planner.
As a planner, the Special Operations FSC commander coordinates with conventional
logistics units to request support when his unit’s internal capabilities
are exceeded. This requires him to understand conventional logistics units’ capabilities
to provide that support while not detracting from their missions. While the
Special Operations FSC commander plans and coordinates, his subordinate officers
conduct parallel planning for execution of the same missions. This process
mirrors what occurs at battalion or higher level, yet it is performed at
company level. This trains the subordinate leaders and allows them to execute
a plan they developed.
Coordinating With the
A Special Operations FSC commander also coordinates with
the supported unit’s S–4 and his battalion
SPO on current situations. This coordination allows the
S–4 to verify the battalion plan and the SPO to conduct
parallel planning. Constant communication with all players
ensures that the mission is deconflicted and that any constraints
are identified early and corrected.
Planning is crucial to execution, but organization is also
a key to success. Although conventional FSCs are multifunctional
in organization, they are still broken down into
functional platoons. The Special Operations FSC is configured
the same, except that it has medics
in the headquarters section and it has a transportation platoon
that comprises a movement control section and truck squads.
The charts below show the standard composition of a conventional
FSC and a Special Operations FSC.
chart above shows the standard organization of
a forward support company (FSC). The chart below
shows how the
Special Operations FSC varies from the standard
Multifunctional Special Operations FSCs have task-organized to better support
their customers and allow for habitual support alignment. Developing multifunctional
platoons from functional platoons has created flexibility and allows platoon
leaders to train their personnel for upcoming missions and to create forward
logistics elements more quickly. This process works for both contiguous and
Reorganizing FSCs to create multifunctional platoons allows flexibility for
the supported units as well as the FSC. It also trains the platoon leaders
to perform not only troop-leading procedures but also mission analysis since
they will execute what they develop. Multifunctional platoons also enhance
support during mission sustainment operations at the maneuver company level.
Incorporating lessons learned and tactics, techniques, and procedures of
Special Operations FSCs will give conventional FSC commanders more options.
Examining the responsibilities of the FSC commander and the organization
of the unit will help FSCs better perform current and future operations.
Having platoon leaders conduct parallel mission planning trains future FSC
commanders by allowing them to perform their duties and understand the duties
of their leaders.
Major James W. Bogart is assigned to the 82d Sustainment Brigade, 82d
Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the Commander of
Special Operations Support Battalion (Airborne) Forward Support Company when
he wrote this article. He has a master’s degree in military art and
science from the Army Command and General Staff College and is a graduate
of the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course and the Army Command and
General Staff College.