Combat support

In the United States Army, the term combat support refers to units that provide fire support and operational assistance to combat elements. Combat support units provide specialized support functions to combat units in the areas of chemical warfare, combat engineering, intelligence, security, and communications.[1]

Combat support should not be confused with combat service support, which are units which primarily provide logistical support by providing supply, maintenance, transportation, health services, and other services required by the soldiers of combat units to continue their missions in combat. Expressed another way, Combat Support units are focused on providing operational support to combat units, while Combat Service Support units are focused on providing logistical support to combat units. Actual combat units are collectively referred to as combat arms units; hence, all army units fall into the category of either combat arms, combat support, or combat service support.[2]

United States Army

Currently, U.S. Army organizational doctrine uses the classification "Maneuver, Fires and Effects" (MFE) and "Operations Support" (OS) to group the former combat support arms branches into Maneuver Support; Special Operations Forces; Network and Space Operations; and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance functional areas.[3]

Within the U.S. Army, the traditional combat support branches are/were:

Before the Army ceased using the combat arms / combat support arms / combat service support arms classification system in 2008, the following branches were classified as combat support arms from the year designated.


United States Marine Corps

United States Marine Corps doctrine designates all Ground Combat Element (GCE) forces, other than infantry, including field artillery, assault amphibian, combat engineer, light armored reconnaissance, reconnaissance, and tank as combat support. The primary mission of all USMC combat support units is to directly support the infantry.

The Marine Corps does not have a separate "Chemical Corps" but rather mans each GCE battalion with NBC specialist personnel (officer and enlisted) in the battalion operations section. The Marine Corps also maintains a battalion-sized Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) as an element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), responsible for fulfilling the mission of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) consequence management.

USMC military intelligence (intelligence battalions), military police (law enforcement battalions), and signal (communications battalions), as well as radio battalions (signals intelligence and electronic warfare), air naval gunfire liaison, force reconnaissance, psychological operations, civil affairs, and public affairs units are designated as Command Element (CE) (C4ISTAREW) units and are classed separately from GCE combat support units.

All Marine Aviation aircraft squadrons and aviation support units (aviation headquarters, tactical air command, air control, air support, communications, aviation logistics, and aviation ground support squadrons, as well as low altitude air defense battalions) are organic to the Aviation Combat Element (ACE). In the Marine Corps, the Army Aviation combat support missions of battlefield reconnaissance, signals intelligence, and assault helicopter support are performed by the ACE through the Marine Aviation functions of aerial reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and assault support. (The remaining three functions of Marine Aviation are: offensive air support, antiair warfare, and control of aircraft and missiles.)

Combat Service Support (CSS), known in the Marine Corps as the Logistics Combat Element (LCE), is responsible for providing direct logistical support to GCE units and general logistical support throughout the MAGTF. Combat Logistics Battalions (CLBs) provide motor transport, supply distribution, and landing support (i.e., materiel handling) directly to dedicated GCE units, while Combat Logistics Companies (CLCs) provide direct logistical support to dedicated ACE units. (The ACE also contains two specialized types of CSS units, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons (MALS) and Marine Wing Support Squadrons (MWSS). The MALS provides direct intermediate aircraft maintenance, aviation supply, and aviation ordnance support to dedicated aircraft squadrons, while the MWSS provides airfield services to a dedicated Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)). Supply, maintenance, transportation support, engineer support, medical, and dental battalions provide general logistical support throughout the MAGTF.

See also


  1. ^ "Intelligence Jobs & Careers". Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  2. ^ "Army Branches". Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  3. ^ UNC Charlotte Army ROTC: Career Path & Branch Homepages, Branches Overview Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  4. ^ U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-90: Tactics (dated 4 July 2001), Appendix A: Army Branches and Tactical Echelons, Appendix A: Army Branches and Tactical Echelons, A-8. Combat Support, Figure A-2. Combat Support Capabilities Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Insignia". Retrieved 2016-04-26.
329th Armament Systems Group

The 329th Armament Systems Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit, last assigned to the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. It was inactivated in 2007.

The group was first activated in July 1942 as the 329th Fighter Group. It acted as an Operational Training Unit for fighter units and as a Replacement Training Unit for Lockheed P-38 Lightning pilots deploying to overseas theaters until 1944, when it was disbanded in a major reorganization of the Army Air Forces training units.

The group was activated again as part of Project Arrow, a program by Air Defense Command (ADC) to revive World War II fighter units to replace its Air Defense Groups. It was inactivated in 1959 when ADC realigned its fighter force.

The Air Armament Systems Group was activated in 2005 as part of the Air Force Materiel Command Transformation, in which Air Force Materiel Command replaced its traditional directorates with wings, groups, and squadrons. The following year it was consolidated with the 329th Group as the 329th Armament Systems Group. It was inactivated in 2007 when the Air Armament Center combined its units into the 308th Armament Systems Wing.

377th Air Base Wing

The 377th Air Base Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force based at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. The wing has been the host unit at Kirtland since January 1993. It was activated on 1 January 1993, when Air Force Materiel Command assumed responsibility for operating the base from Air Mobility Command.

The wing was first organized in 1966 as the 377th Combat Support Group at Tan Son Nhut Airport, Republic of Vietnam. In 1972, it was expanded to wing level and gained a tactical flying mission. It began phasing down in early 1973 and transferred most of its remaining assets to the Vietnamese Air Force before inactivating.

The wing was activated in 1985 as the host organization at Ramstein Air Base and served in that capacity until it was inactivated in 1991 when United States Air Forces Europe implemented the Objective Wing organization, combining all functions at Ramstein under the 86th Wing.

3918th Strategic Wing

The 3918th Strategic Wing (3918th SW) is an inactive United States Air Force unit, discontinued on 31 March 1965.

The 3918th SW was a ground service support element for the Strategic Air Command 7th Air Division (AD), stationed at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, in the United Kingdom. It was upgraded to wing status on 1 February 1964 and discontinued on 31 March 1965. Throughout most of its existence it was controlled by Strategic Air Command, under the 7th Air Division (AD) and stationed at RAF Upper Heyford.

The wing provided host station support functions primarily for SAC B/RB-36 Peacemaker, B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortess, & KC-97 Tanker Wing and Support Elements deployed to Upper Heyford during REFLEX deployments from United States bases. In addition to its assigned units, the 1st Aviation Field Depot Squadron (later 1st Aviation Depot Squadron) and the 11th Aviation Depot Squadron (later 11th Munitions Maintenance Squadron), which were assigned to 7th AD and attached to the wing and were responsible for the control of special weapons at Upper Heyford.

It was inactivated in 1965 and replaced by USAFE's 7514th Combat Support Group (CSG) as the host base operating unit when SAC turned control over Upper Heyford to the United States Air Forces in Europe. Detachment 1, 98th Strategic Wing assumed the SAC mission.

3920th Strategic Wing

The 3920th Strategic Wing (3920th SW) is an inactive United States Air Force unit, discontinued on 31 March 1965. The 3920th SW was a non-flying ground service support element for the 7th Air Division (AD) of Strategic Air Command (SAC), based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in the United Kingdom. It was established on 1 December 1952 as the 3920th Air Base Group. When activated, the wing assumed the resources (Manpower, Equipment, Weapons, & Facilities) of the 7503d Air Support Wing, which had been established on 25 May 1951. Throughout its existence it was controlled by Strategic Air Command

and served as the host for deployed SAC bombardment, strategic reconnaissance, and air refueling units.

3973d Strategic Wing

The 3973d Strategic Wing (3973d SW) is an inactive United States Air Force unit, discontinued at Moron Air Base, Spain in 1966. It was established in 1957 to support forward deployed elements of Strategic Air Command (SAC) (REFLEX) and added support of Boeing B-52 Stratofortress CHROME DOME missions, which continued after REFLEX operations ended. It was discontinued when its parent Sixteenth Air Force was transferred to United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) after the CHROME DOME mission ended in Spain.

417 Combat Support Squadron

417 Combat Support Squadron (French: 417e Escadron de soutien au combat) is an Air Force unit with the Canadian Forces. Based at CFB Cold Lake it provides helicopter support to the base operations. Since 1994, it has also provided search and rescue.

439 Combat Support Squadron

439 Combat Support Squadron (French: 439e Escadron de soutien au combat) is a squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, based in Bagotville, Quebec.

It was formed as No. 123 (Army Co-operation) Squadron in early 1942 for army training operations in eastern Canada during World War II, being renumbered No. 439 Squadron RCAF in late 1943 when it transferred to England. The squadron briefly flew the Hawker Hurricane before receiving the Hawker Typhoon, flying ground attack missions with the Second Tactical Air Force in support of Allied advances in northwestern Europe from mid-1944 to the end of the war in May 1945.

Disbanded shortly after the end of the Second World War, the squadron was reformed in 1951, operating the Canadair Sabre from England and France until 1963, when it was disbanded. It was quickly reformed as 439 Reconnaissance/Attack Squadron, operating the CF-104 Starfighter. Moved to Germany in 1967, it underwent several redesignations before assuming a ground attack mission at CFB Baden–Soellingen as 439 Tactical Fighter Squadron. After converting to the CF-18 Hornet in the mid-1980s, the squadron participated in the Gulf War. It assumed its current title in 1993, operating the Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopter.

501st Combat Support Group

The 501st Combat Support Group is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was last active as part of the 501st Tactical Missile Wing at RAF Greenham Common, England, where it provided support for the wing and tenant organizations as the host organization for Greenham Common.

The group was originally activated as the 501st Air Service Group, a support group, at the end of World War II and continued this mission with the American occupation forces in Germany through the beginning of the Berlin Airlift, when it was inactivated as United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) implemented the wing base organization system. In 1982 the group was consolidated with the 501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, a Second Air Force unit that provided base support at Great Bend Army Air Field, Kansas from 1943 to 1944.

The group was activated once again in 1953 as the 501st Air Defense Group, when Air Defense Command (ADC) established it as the headquarters for a dispersed fighter-interceptor squadron and the medical, aircraft maintenance, and administrative squadrons supporting it. It was replaced in 1955 when ADC transferred its mission, equipment, and personnel to the 56th Fighter Group in a project that replaced air defense groups commanding fighter squadrons with fighter groups with distinguished records during World War II.

501st Combat Support Wing

The 501st Combat Support Wing is a administrative support wing of the United States Air Force. It is one of three "wings" (overarching units) located in the United Kingdom as components of 3rd Air Force and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE).

633d Air Base Wing

The United States Air Force's 633rd Air Base Wing is the host organization for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Its headquarters are at Langley Air Force Base. The unification of support for Langley and Fort Eustis was directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

The wing was first activated at Pleiku Air Base, where it supported special operations and forward air control units in the Central Highlands of South Viet Nam. It served as the host organization for Andersen Air Force Base on Guam when that base was transferred from Strategic Air Command to Pacific Air Forces in 1989 until it was replaced by the 36th Air Base Wing in 1994.

77th Aeronautical Systems Wing

The 77th Aeronautical Systems Wing (77 ASW) is an inactive United States Air Force unit, last assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Its World War II predecessor unit, the 77th Reconnaissance Group supported ground units in training by flying reconnaissance, artillery adjustment, fighter, and bomber missions, and in the process trained reconnaissance personnel who later served overseas.

Combat Support Group RAAF

The Combat Support Group is part of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Combat Support Hospital

A combat support hospital (CSH, pronounced "cash") is a type of modern United States military field hospital. The CSH is transportable by aircraft and trucks and is normally delivered to the Corps Support Area in standard military-owned Demountable Containers (MILVAN) cargo containers. Once transported, it is assembled by the staff into a tent hospital to treat patients. Depending upon the operational environment (e.g., battlefield), a CSH might also treat civilians and wounded enemy soldiers. The CSH is the successor to the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. As of November 2017, the United States Army and United States Army Reserve is in the process of reorganizing the Combat Support Hospitals into smaller, modular units called 'Field Hospitals'.

Fast combat support ship

The fast combat support ship (US Navy hull classification symbol: AOE) is the United States Navy's largest combat logistics ship, designed as an oiler, ammunition and supply ship. All fast combat support ships currently in service are operated by Military Sealift Command. The AOE has the speed to keep up with carrier battle groups and the capacity to fully support their needs. It receives petroleum products, ammunition and stores from various shuttle ships and redistributes these items when needed to ships in the carrier battle group. This greatly reduces the number of service ships needed to travel with carrier battle groups.

The four ships of the Sacramento class were 53,000 tons at full load, 796 feet overall length, and carried two Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. The Sacramento class was retired in 2005.

The Supply class ships displace 48,800 tons full load and carried two Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters.


Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO (HELSEACOMBATRON TWO or HSC-2) (previously Helicopter Combat Support Squadron TWO (HC-2)), also known as the "Fleet Angels" (previously the "Circuit Riders"), is a helicopter squadron of the United States Navy based at Naval Station Norfolk operating the Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk. The Fleet Angels are a Fleet Replacement Squadron providing trained MH-60S crew to units on the East Coast.

List of United States Air Force Groups

This is a list of Groups in the United States Air Force that do not belong to a host wing.

The last level of independent operation is the group level. When an organization is not part of the primary mission of the base it will be made an independent group. They may report to a wing or they may be completely independent (the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess Air Force Base). They may also be organized as an expeditionary unit, independent but too small to warrant a wing designation. The organization of the independent group is usually similar to the operations group, but with a few squadrons or flight from the support side added to make the organization more self-sufficient, but not large enough to become a wing.

No. 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing RAAF

No. 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing (396 ECSW) is a ground support wing of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Part of the Combat Support Group, it is responsible for the provision of combat and base support services and maintains the RAAF's "bare bases" at Weipa, Exmouth and Derby in the northern part of Australia's airspace. The wing consists of three expeditionary combat support squadrons, one combat support squadron, an operations support squadron, a combat logistics squadron and two support units, which are located at various bases all around Australia, and in Malaysia at RMAF Butterworth.

RAAF Base Amberley

RAAF Base Amberley (ICAO: YAMB) is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) military airbase located 8 km (5.0 mi) southwest of Ipswich, Queensland in Australia and 50 km (31 mi) southwest of Brisbane. It is currently home to No. 1 Squadron and No. 6 Squadron (operating the F/A-18F Super Hornet), No. 33 Squadron (taking delivery of the Airbus KC-30A) and No. 36 Squadron (operating the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III jet transport). Amberley is also home to Army units making up the 9th Force Support Battalion (9 FSB). Located on 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres), RAAF Amberley is the largest operational base in the RAAF, employing over 5,000 uniformed and civilian personnel. There are a variety of other formations on the base such as training colleges and maintenance areas. Amberley's largest squadron in terms of personnel is No. 382 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron RAAF (ECSS) providing both garrison and deployed combat support. Amberley was one of only two airfields in Australia (the other being Darwin International Airport) that were listed as a Transoceanic Abort (TOA) landing site for the Space Shuttle. Amberley is currently undergoing a A$64 million dollar re-development program. The RAAF has plans to have Amberley operating as its "superbase" with flights of F/A-18F Super Hornets, F-35 Lightning II, KC-30A, C-17 Globemaster. No. 35 Squadron (Operating C-27J Spartan) is planned to move to the base from RAAF Base Richmond after it is fully equipped with the C-27J.

Type 901 fast combat support ship

The Type 901 is a class of fast combat support ship of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. The first ship launched by the GSI shipyard in December 2015, commenced sea trials in December 2016 and underwent replenishment-at-sea trials with a Type 071 amphibious transport dock in waters of the South China Sea in the first half of 2017. It was then commissioned into service in September 2017. The second vessel in class is currently under construction at the GSI shipyard for scheduled delivery between 2018 and 2019.

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