Air Assault Operations
Army aviation and infantry units can be fully integrated with other members of the combined arms team to form powerful and flexible air assault task forces that can project combat power throughout the entire depth, width, and breadth of the modern battlefield with little regard for terrain barriers. The unique versatility and strength of an air assault task force is achieved by combining the capabilities of modern rotary-wing aircraft - speed, agility, and firepower - with those of the infantry and other combat arms to form tactically tailored air assault task forces that can be employed in low-, mid-, and high-intensity environments.
Air assault operations are those in which assault forces (combat, combat support, and combat service support), using the firepower, mobility, and total integration of helicopter assets, maneuver on the battlefield under the control of the ground or air maneuver commander to engage and destroy enemy forces or to seize and hold key terrain. Air assault operations are not merely movements of soldiers, weapons, and materiel by Army aviation units and must not be construed as such. They are deliberate, precisely planned, and vigorously executed combat operations designed to allow friendly forces to strike over extended distances and terrain barriers to attack the enemy when and where he is most vulnerable.
Air assault operations are high risk, high payoff operations, when properly planned and vigorously executed, allow commanders to apply the four basic tenets and 10 combat imperatives of the Air Land Battle Doctrine (FM 100-5). An air assault task force can dramatically extend a commander's area of operation, enabling him to execute Air Land Battle Doctrine in areas ranging beyond the capability of more conventional forces.
Air assault operations are accomplished by employing an Air Assault Task Force (AATF). The AATF is a group of integrated forces tailored to the specific mission and under the command of a single headquarters. It may include some or all elements of the combined arms team. The ground or air maneuver commander, designated as the Air Assault Task Force Commander (AATFC), commands the AATF and is normally an infantry commander.
Although air assault, airborne, ranger, and light infantry units are much more suited to the role than are other types of infantry, all infantrymen and their supporting arms counterparts must be prepared to execute air assault operations when the situation dictates. Mechanized infantry units of the heavy division can exploit the mobility and speed of organic or supporting helicopters to secure a deep objective in the offense, reinforce a threatened sector in the defense, or to place combat power at a decisive point on the battlefield.
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