Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 6 – Section II – Planning Considerations


6-8.        Planning sustainment operations is primarily a company- and battalion-level operation. While the company commander and XO plan the operation, the platoon leader is responsible for execution at platoon level.


6-9.        The platoon sergeant executes the plan at squad level. Sustainment at the Infantry platoon level is characterized by the following: responsiveness, economy, flexibility, integration, and survivability


6-10.     To be effective sustainment needs to be responsive.  This requires users to provide timely requests for supplies and support while requiring providers to anticipate user needs in advance.


6-11.     To be efficient, sustainment providers and users exercise conservation.  Because resources are always limited, it is in the best interest of everyone to use only what is needed.  The principle of economy necessitates that Soldiers, leaders, and their units conserve resources whenever possible.  This also ensures other Soldiers and units will have the supplies they need.


6-12.     The principle of flexibility embodies the chaotic nature of combat.  Providers and users alike remain aware that, despite the best efforts of all involved, things seldom go as planned; shipments are delayed, convoys are attacked, and supplies are destroyed.  To support the needs of both the individual unit and the rest of the units on the battlefield requires both the user and provider to know what they need, when they need it and possible substitutes.


6-13.     To function properly, sustainment considerations must be integrated into every aspect of an operation.  Sustainment is not branch or rank specific – it is an essential part of all operations at all levels by all Soldiers.  Again, without sustainment units can not accomplish their mission


6-14.     On the whole, sustainment assets are necessary yet finite resources that are easily destroyed.  Units without their classes of supply can not fight.  Accordingly, survivability of sustainment assets is a high priority for everyone.  This affects the platoon in two ways.  First units may be required to conduct security missions for sustainment assets, such as convoy security, base security, and response force activities.  Second, units must ensure the survivability of their own supplies and any asset that might be under their charge by properly safeguarding them

Development of the Sustainment Plan

6-15.     The platoon leader develops his sustainment plan by determining exactly what he has on hand to accurately predict his support requirements. This process is important not only in confirming the validity of the sustainment plan, but also in ensuring the platoon submits support requests as early as possible. The platoon leader formulates his sustainment execution plan and submits support requests to the company based on his maneuver plan. It is critical for the company to know what the platoon has on hand for designated critical supplies.

Operational Questions

6-16.     The sustainment plan should provide answers to the following types of operational questions:

Types of Support

–  Based on the nature of the operation and specific tactical factors, what types of support will the platoon need?


– In what quantities will this support be required?

– If occupying a SBF position, how long is the platoon likely to fire, and at what rate of fire? This drives the estimate for required Class V.

– Will emergency resupply be required during the battle? Potentially when and where?

– Does this operation require prestocked supplies (cache points)?


– What are the composition, disposition, and capabilities of the expected enemy threat?

– How will these affect sustainment operations during the battle?

– Where and when will the expected contact occur?

– What are the platoon’s expected casualties and equipment losses based on the nature and location of expected contact?

– What impact will the enemy’s special weapons capabilities (such as CBRN) have on the battle and on expected sustainment requirements?

– How many EPWs are expected, and where?

Terrain and Weather

– What ground will provide the best security for CCPs?

– What are the platoon’s casualty evacuation routes?

– What are the company’s dirty routes for evacuating contaminated personnel and equipment?

Time and Location

– When and where will the platoon need sustainment?

– Based on the nature and location of expected contact, what are the best sites for the CCP?

– Where will the EPW collection points be located? Who secures them, when does the platoon turn them over, and to whom?


6-17.     Determine support requirements by asking the following questions:

– What are the support requirements by element and type of support?

– Which squad has priority for emergency Class V resupply?

Risk Factor

– Will lulls in the battle permit support elements to conduct resupply operations in relative safety?

–  If no lulls are expected, how can the platoon best minimize the danger to the sustainment vehicles providing the required support?

Resupply Technique

6-18.     Resupply techniques the platoon use will be based on information developed during the sustainment planning process.

Classes of Supply Considerations

6-19.     The platoon sergeant obtains supplies and delivers them to the platoon. The platoon leader establishes priorities for delivery, but combat demands that Class I, V, and IX supplies and equipment take priority because they are the most critical to successful operations.

Class I

6-20.     This class includes rations, water, and ice. It also includes gratuitous issue of items related to health, morale, and welfare. The Daily Strength Report triggers an automatic request for Class I supplies. Personnel in the field trains prepare rations and deliver them with the LOGPAC. If the unit has special food requests, they must request them (for example, if a mission calls for MREs in lieu of planned hot rations).

Class II

6-21.     This class includes clothing, individual equipment, mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) suits, tentage, tool sets, and administrative and housekeeping supplies. The platoon sergeant normally distributes expendable items such as soap, toilet tissue, and insecticide based on battalion and company LOGPAC schedules.

Class III

6-22.     This class includes bulk and packaged petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) products, which Infantry platoons do not normally require. Unusual Class III requests are coordinated by the company and then delivered to the battalion combat trains.

Class IV

6-23.     This class includes construction materials, pickets, sandbags, and concertina wire.

Class V

6-24.     This class covers all types of ammunition and mines including, C4, and other explosives.

Class VI

6-25.     This class includes personal-demand items including, candy, soaps, cameras, film, and sundry packets that are normally sold through the exchange system.

Class VII

6-26.     Infantry platoons do not normally have vehicles. However, this class includes major end items such as major equipment and vehicles. Battle loss reports trigger the issuance of Class VII items.

Class VIII

6-27.     This class covers medical supplies. The BAS replaces combat lifesaver bags and first-aid kits on a one-for-one basis.

Class IX

6-28.     This class includes repair parts and documents required for equipment maintenance operations. Repair parts are issued in response to a specific request or are obtained by direct exchange of repairable parts. The latter can include batteries for NVDs, and man-portable radios. In combat situations, exchange and cannibalization are normal ways to obtain Class IX items.

Class X

6-29.     This class includes materials to support nonmilitary programs such as agricultural and economic development. Division level or higher will provide the platoon with instructions for requesting and issuing Class X supplies.


6-30.     This category covers anything that does not fall under one of the existing classes of supply.


6-31.     Proper maintenance is the key to keeping equipment and other materials in serviceable condition. It is a continuous process, starting with preventive measures taken by each Soldier responsible for a piece of equipment, and continuing on through repair and recovery efforts. Equipment services include inspecting, cleaning, testing, servicing, repairing, requisitioning, recovering, and evacuating damaged equipment for repair.


6-32.     The Soldier’s load is a main concern of the leader. How much is carried, how far, and in what configuration are important mission considerations. Leaders must learn to prepare for the most likely contingencies based on available information, because they cannot be prepared for all possible operations. See FM 21-18, Foot Marches,  and FM 3-21.10, The Infantry Rifle Company,for detailed discussions on load planning, calculating, and management techniques used to assist leaders and Soldiers in organizing tactical loads to ensure safety and combat effectiveness.


6-33.     The platoon’s combat load varies by mission and includes the supplies physically carried into the fight. The company commander may direct minimum requirements or be very specific for the composition of the combat load. Often, the unit SOP or the platoon leader specifies most items. The basic load includes supplies kept by the platoon for use in combat. The quantity of most basic load supply items depends on how many days in combat the platoon might have to sustain itself without resupply. For Class V ammunition, the higher commander or SOP specifies the platoon’s basic load.


6-34.     Because the Infantry platoon leader has no organic transportation, they request transportation support through the 1SG or company XO. They, in turn, request it from the battalion S4 for ground transportation or S3 air operations if the transportation is for helicopters. Whenever possible, unless there is a specific reason not to, rucksacks and excess equipment should be transported by vehicle.

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