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.
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.
Within the U.S. Army, the combat support branches are the:
- Chemical Corps
- Corps of Engineers (these are units involved with civil engineering, not combat engineering)
- Military Intelligence Corps
- Military Police Corps
- Signal Corps
- Army Aviation (e.g., Battlefield Reconnaissance, Signals Intelligence, and Assault Helicopter units)
- Combat Support Branch Insignia
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