Also found in: Acronyms.
a unit or subunit of any size sent out by a larger combined arms unit in the direction of the enemy.
On the march or in an offensive a forward detachment may be sent ahead of the advance guard in order to forestall the enemy by capturing advantageous lines and securing the deployment of one’s own troops. It may also act to capture important inhabited areas, road junctions, mountain passes, or bases of operation and hold them until the approach of the main forces. When defending, a forward detachment is sent out for combat in the security zone in order to weaken the enemy grouping and determine his concept of operation. A forward detachment can be supported by air force and artillery.
The term “forward detachment” appeared in the Russian Army in the 19th century (for instance, I. V. Gurko’s forward detachment in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78). In the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), forward detachments of the Soviet Army included tank and infantry units and subunits and artillery, engineer, and signal subunits. The distance of a forward detachment from the main forces was several dozen km.
The term “forward detachment” is also applied to a unit of a naval landing party assigned to capture and hold a bridgehead and to provide security for the landing of the main forces.