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Army operations require worldwide strategic mobility. Given this requirement, Army forces must have the capability to conduct operations in any environment, under any conditions. These conditions include war, peace, and conflict. Army aviation doctrine focuses on the integration and synchronization of aviation forces within the framework of the land component commander's operational concepts.



a. Aviation is not a substitute for any other member of the combined arms team. Rather, it brings a degree of versatility not replicated by other members of the combined arms team and a range of unique capabilities that complement those of the other combat arms.

b. Aviation maneuvers rapidly and simultaneously in the ground commander's battlespace to bring decisive combat power to bear at the decisive points and times in the area of operations (AO). There is an inextricable linkage between maneuver and fires. Army aviation maneuvers while leveraging organic firepower to shape the battlespace or conduct decisive operations as directed by the force commander.

c. Aviation compresses battlespace by shortening and/or mitigating the effects of time/distance factors and terrain on maneuver. Aviation forces also reduce time requirements through speed and mobility once thorough planning is complete. Aviation's ability to operate in all dimensions of battlespace provides a degree of flexibility and agility that is unique.

d. Synchronizing aviation maneuver with ground maneuver--by enhancing reconnaissance, providing security, and conducting attacks and counterattacks--allows the friendly force commander to shape the battlespace to set the conditions for the close fight and achieve a positional advantage in both time and space by altering the enemy's tempo. Linked with deep fires, aviation maneuver offers the ground commander the capability to influence events simultaneously throughout his AO.


The ability to successfully fight and/or conduct war, peace, and conflict operations depends on the correct application of the five basic tenets of Army aviation doctrine. These tenets include--

a. Initiative.

(1) Initiative determines or changes the terms of battle through action. In combat operations, aviation commanders set the tempo by seizing the initiative. Commanders fight tenaciously and aggressively, never allowing the enemy to recover from the initial shock of an attack. Soldiers and systems are pushed to the limits of their endurance for as long as necessary.

(2) Retaining the initiative requires planning beyond the initial operation and anticipating key events well into the future. In stability and support operations (SASO), aviation commanders take the initiative by anticipating near-and long-term personnel, equipment, and logistical support requirements relative to the operation.

b. Agility.

(1) Agility is the ability of friendly forces to act faster than the enemy. In combat operations, aviation commanders exploit the agility of their units through speed, mobility, and reaction time capabilities.

(2) Technological developments in intelligence gathering, aviation mission planning, and communications have improved situational awareness during both the pre- and post-aircraft launch phases of an operation. This situational awareness provides an edge to aviation commanders in that aviation assets can now be directed to critical places at critical times on the battlefield.

(3) Furthermore, agility allows the aviation commander to rapidly rearm and refuel, get back into the fight, and continue to attack the enemy. In SASO, aviation commanders use their assets to reach locations unreachable by other means of transportation. Aviation assets can move personnel, equipment, and supplies in large quantities and in a timely manner.

c. Depth.

(1) Depth is the extension of operations in time, space, resources, and purpose. In combat operations, aviation commanders understand depth as the ability to conduct simultaneous close, deep, and rear operations. Commanders sustain the momentum by taking advantage of all available resources, and attacking the enemy simultaneously in all battlefield dimensions.

(2) With access to joint and combined arms capabilities, aviation commanders can plan for and control numerous means of simultaneous or near-simultaneous ordnance delivery on multiple targets. In SASO, depth is the capability to conduct simultaneous yet different type operations.

(3) For example, attack helicopters may be required to conduct reconnaissance throughout certain areas of an AO, while CH-47 Chinook assets are transporting life support supplies in another part of the same AO, while medical relief operations are being conducted in still another part of the same AO.

d. Synchronization.

(1) Synchronization is the use of time, space, and resources to produce maximum relative combat power at the decisive time and place. In combat operations, aviation commanders understand synchronization as the planned integration and execution of combat power.

(2) Synchronization requires exact coordination among the various combat, combat support (CS), and combat service support (CSS) units in any operation. Joint and multinational asset capabilities must be considered where and when applicable. In SASO, aviation commanders must synchronize both vertically and horizontally, planning phases, alert phases, deployment, early entry operations, mission execution, and redeployment.

e. Versatility.

(1) Versatility is the ability of units to meet diverse mission requirements. In combat operations, aviation commanders demonstrate versatility by their ability to shift focus, tailor aviation forces, and move from one role or mission to another rapidly and efficiently.

(2) In SASO, the aviation commander recognizes mission requirements may not mirror the mission essential task list (METL), to which the aviation unit has been trained. Non-METL-based tasks require a change in focus, rapid trainup, and execution under conditions outside the normal operating environment.


Aviation units operate in the ground regime. As a fully integrated member of the combined arms team, aviation units conduct combat, CS, and CSS operations. Aviation units operate across the entire length and breadth of the AO (close, deep, and rear), and can be expected to conduct simultaneous operations, 24 hours a day.

The key to success in planning aviation maneuver in conjunction with the ground scheme of maneuver is including the aviation commander early in the planning process. Aviation missions are received by the commander and, with his guidance, the aviation headquarters will task organize forces and plan the execution of aviation operations. It is important to note that the aviation commander's AO can be as large as the division or corps AO.


Aviation combat missions (Figure 2-1) are performed by maneuver forces engaged in shaping the battlespace and conducting decisive combat operations by employing direct fire and standoff precision weapons in combined arms operations.

a. Reconnaissance.

(1) Reconnaissance operations obtain information by visual observation or other detection methods. This information may concern the activities and resources of an enemy or potential threat, or the meteorological, hydrographic characteristics of a particular area. Reconnaissance assets must possess the ability to develop the situation, process the information, and provide it to commanders in near real time. Army aviation's most modern assets, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and the AH-64 Apache, give the force commander a dramatically improved 24-hour air reconnaissance capability that can better develop the situation and rapidly send information to wherever it is most needed. No longer is the primary mission of attack helicopter assets within cavalry units to protect the scouts.

(2) Air reconnaissance complements and extends the zone covered by ground reconnaissance. Successful aerial reconnaissance obtains information useful in effectively directing ground reconnaissance units. Under favorable conditions, aviation furnishes early information concerning the enemy's general disposition and movements to considerable depth beyond the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA).

(3) Army aviation not only participates in the traditional missions of route, area, and zone reconnaissance, it also significantly contributes to reconnaissance-in-force. Reconnaissance-in-force is always conducted by a large enough force to place the enemy at some risk while providing self-protection. It can be conducted by an aviation-pure force or in conjunction with ground forces. Its primary purpose is to gain information and test the enemy's strength, disposition, and reaction. It is used when the enemy is known to be operating in some strength in a given area but sufficient intelligence cannot be developed by other means.

b. Security.

(1) The commander conducts security operations to provide maneuver space, reaction time, and protect the main body. Security is incorporated as part of the battlefield framework in planning all offensive or defensive operations. Although reconnaissance and security missions are associated with the corps cavalry regiment and the division cavalry squadron, attack helicopter battalions are well suited for these missions.

(2) Counterreconnaissance is an inherent task in all security operations. It is the sum of actions taken at all echelons to counter enemy reconnaissance and surveillance efforts through the depths of the AO. It is active and passive and includes combat action to destroy or defeat enemy reconnaissance elements. In the execution of counterreconnaissance, air and ground cavalry units operate either offensively or defensively using whichever tactics best accomplish the task.

(3) Surveillance is also continuous during security operations. Even during security missions that involve fighting the enemy, the aeroscouts' primary task remains gathering information. Air and ground scouts are coordinated to synchronize their complimentary capabilities.

(4) Army aviation's special electronic mission aircraft (SEMA) perform surveillance at both the operational and tactical levels of war.

c. Attack.

(1) The primary purpose of attack helicopter operations is the destruction of enemy ground force at decisive points. Attack units can conduct deep operations or be used in conjunction with ground maneuver units during close battle operations. For cross-component support, Army attack helicopters, usually tasked as units, can perform a close air support (CAS) function.

(2) Attack units normally are most effective when used in mass in continuous operations on the enemy's flanks and rear. Night operations are the preference. Corps attack battalions can be used independently by the corps commander or placed under OPCON of divisions to execute massed attacks on the enemy in depth.

d. Air Assault.

(1) Air assault operations are those in which air assault forces (combat, CS, and CSS)--employing the firepower, mobility, protection, and total integration of helicopter assets in their air or ground roles--maneuver on the battlefield, under the control of the air assault task force commander (AATFC), to engage and destroy forces or to seize and hold key terrain. Either the ground or air maneuver commander is designated the AATFC.

(2) Air assault operations are inherently complex, fully synchronized combat operations particularly important for light forces as they are the primary means of rapid deployment. In some cases, they are the only means of employment directly into combat. Air assault should always be considered by heavy forces to assist in overcoming obstacles in the seizure of critical terrain, and in follow and support missions to preserve the momentum of attack.

(3) The level of precision required to successfully conduct air assault operations requires deliberate planning and the detailed synchronization of all battlefield operating systems (BOSs).

(4) Air assault security is provided by air cavalry and attack units in coordination with conventional fire support to set conditions before the air assault and to continue to provide supporting fires once the air assault force is established on the ground.

e. Theater Missile Defense.

(1) The theater missile threat is real and increasing in scope. Proliferation of theater ballistic missiles (TBMs) presents a serious threat to maneuver forces during many potential contingencies. While the risks from fixed-wing aircraft may have decreased, the threat from TBMs, cruise missiles, and other unmanned aerial vehicles continues to grow. TBMs have many employment options. They offer various warhead choices, operate over extended ranges, and are relatively inexpensive.

(2) Theater missile defense (TMD) is a joint mission. It is accomplished by establishing an effective, interoperable battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (BM/C4I) system that permits the joint force commander to integrate and enhance the joint force's capabilities to--

  • Destroy incoming theater missiles in-flight (active defense).
  • Reduce the vulnerability of friendly force and critical assets from the effects of theater missile attacks (passive defense).
  • Destroy hostile theater missile capability by offensive actions against missile launchers; command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) and logistics facilities; and other theater missile infrastructure (attack operations).

(3) Army aviation plays a key role in TMD by executing deep operations to attack all elements of the hostile theater missile system.

(4) This mission could be conducted as a deliberate attack against known systems or as a search and attack operation when exact locations are not confirmed.

(5) Army aviation faces several challenges in the future execution of TMD to include airspace management, obtaining and processing real-time target information, and range of aircraft, while balancing payoff with mission risk. Although the challenges are many, Army aviation--with the AH-64 Longbow Apache--brings significant range, lethality, connectivity, and survivability to the TMD mission. Army attack helicopters offer unique and complementary potential to the ground commander when properly planned for and employed in TMD operations.

(6) Enhanced situational awareness through digitization also will provide important in-flight, divert capability to high-priority targets.

NOTE: As of the writing of this manual, tactics, techniques, and procedures for TMD are being developed, defined, and refined at all levels.

f. Special Operations.

(1) Special operations aviation (SOA) units are trained, equipped, and manned to support both special and conventional operating forces. Special operations cover a series of unique primary, collateral, and emerging missions that directly support a theater combatant commander.

(2) Army SOA assets are dedicated to conducting special operations missions across the full range of military operations. They provide a mix of short-, medium-, and long-range lift, and limited light-attack capabilities. They support all principal, collateral, and emerging mission areas; they can conduct autonomous special reconnaissance and direct action missions.

(3) FM 1-108 contains detailed information on SOA.

g. Support by Fire.

Support by fire (SBF) is a mission given to attack helicopters, directing them to establish a base of fire or an overwatch position. It can be used to engage a target while ground or air maneuver assets move to or bypass the same target area. It may range from suppression to destruction of the target; however, the primary mission is to fix the target so another force may maneuver. SBF positions are less restrictive than battle positions.


Aviation combat support (CS) is the operational support and sustainment provided to forces in combat by aviation units.

a. Command, Control, and Communications.

(1) Maintaining command, control, and communications (C3) is critical to any operation. Aviation units provide communication enhancement through airborne transmission or relay equipment. Aviation assets, such as the A2C2S, permit commanders to quickly see their AO and command, control, and communicate on the move.

(2) Aviation assets may conduct liaison between separate units, transmit intelligence, and verify unit situations and locations. Other intelligence functions include target acquisition, reconnaissance, and employment of intelligence-gathering systems. The speed, flexibility, and communication assets inherent to aviation units contribute to the synchronization and deconfliction of Army combat forces.

b. Air Movement.

Air movement operations are conducted to reposition units, personnel, supplies, equipment, and other critical combat elements in support of current and/or future operations. These operations include both airdrops and air landings. As these operations are usually aviation-pure missions, the aviation unit commander is usually the most qualified to produce the greatest efficiency of movement.

c. Electronic Warfare.

(1) Electronic warfare (EW) is an essential component of C2 warfare (C2W). As part of C2W, EW is used in conjunction with multidisciplined counterintelligence to protect friendly C2 while attacking the enemy's C2 structure. Effective use of EW--as a decisive element of combat power--requires coordination and integration of EW operations with the commander's scheme of maneuver and fire support plan. The integrated use of EW throughout the battlefield supports the synergy needed to locate, identify, damage, and destroy enemy forces and their structure.

(2) SEMA use the electromagnetic spectrum to locate, and target, enemy units and facilities; intercept enemy communications; disrupt enemy C4I; and target acquisition capabilities. SEMA are organic to corps and divisions. They receive their mission taskings from the G2, not the aviation commander. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be assigned to aviation units but may also get their mission taskings from an external source. For both operational and safety reasons, both manned and unmanned aerial SEMA platforms must operate within the A2C2 system.

d. Combat Search and Rescue.

(1) Aviation units must be prepared to conduct combat search and rescue (CSAR) in support of their own operations and to provide support at both the intra- and inter-service levels. CSAR planning should begin before forces deploy or immediately after arrival in the AO. Aviation units must develop a complete CSAR posture using a planning process that is fully complementary to ongoing operational planning. CSAR plans must be designed with the flexibility to employ all joint CSAR-capable resources in the most efficient and effective manner.

(2) For detailed planning of CSAR operations, refer to FM 1-111 and FM 90-18.

e. Air Traffic Services.

(1) Air traffic services (ATS) encompass two areas: Army airspace command and control (A2C2) and air traffic control (ATC). ATS units provide a range of support that spans the entire theater during deep, close, and rear operations. Also, ATS operations span the wide range of military operations servicing Army, service component, interagency, multinational, and host nation airspace users.

(2) Specifically, ATS personnel support the A2C2 system, a subordinate element of the Army C2 system. ATS liaison personnel, along with other staff representatives, are found at the division, corps, and theater A2C2 elements, as well as at other airspace-related elements within the theater air-ground system. They provide technical expertise in the operation of the A2C2 system to coordinate, integrate, and regulate use of a defined area of airspace by all users of that airspace. In addition, they integrate the division and corps airspace information centers--through which air operations data concerning friendly, unknown, and hostile aircraft are exchanged with subordinate units and the tactical operations centers (TOCs).

(3) ATC are those operations that provide advisory, procedural, and positive control at terminal locations and through en route coordination centers. These operations are both tactical and fixed base in nature, found from brigade landing/pickup zones to theater logistical airfields with full instrumented services. ATC units can conduct airborne, air assault, or air landing operations onto the battlefield; and immediately establish ATS throughout a theater. In many theaters Army ATS will be the first on the scene, and they will be controlling aviation forces from all services. ATS services include--

  • Airspace deconfliction and airspace control measures.
  • Navigational assistance.
  • Flight following.
  • Air threat warnings.
  • Weather information.
  • Artillery advisories.
  • En route navigational structures.
  • Airfield/landing zone. (LZ)/pickup zone (PZ) terminal control.
  • Precision and nonprecision instrument approaches.

(4) For further information on these services consult FM 100-103.

f. Aerial Mine Warfare.

Aerial-delivered mines can support tactical operations by emplacing tactical minefield; reinforcing existing obstacles; closing lanes, gaps, and defiles; protecting flanks; and denying the enemy AD sites. Aerial-delivered minefield also can be employed for flank protection of advancing forces and for operating in concert with air/ground cavalry units performing screen and guard missions.


Aviation combat service support (CSS) is the assistance provided by aviation forces to sustain combat forces. One aviation brigade can restore a mechanized battalion task force worth of combat power to a division each day through the expeditious movement of critical repair parts. Army aviation provides air movement of personnel, equipment, and supplies; and performs aeromedical evacuation and aviation maintenance.

a. Aerial Sustainment.

Aerial sustainment is the movement of equipment, material, supplies, and personnel by utility, cargo, and fixed-wing assets for operations other than air assault and combat support. These air movements are considered CSS missions because the aviation forces are not task organized with combined arms forces, nor do they move CS forces or assets whose primary mission is to engage and destroy enemy forces. Missions include intratheater airlift; administrative relocation of troops and nonmilitary personnel; and administrative relocation of equipment, material, and supplies.

b. Casualty Evacuation.

(1) Casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) is a part of combat health support. CASEVAC includes battlefield pickup of casualties; evacuation of casualties to initial treatment facilities; and subsequent movement of casualties to treatment facilities within the combat zone. CASEVAC is an aviation mission directly supporting a ground unit with casualty evacuation aircraft from forward locations to the brigade support area (BSA) or other designated collection/treatment facility. Aeromedical assets also will move medical personnel and supplies. Medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) is the process of moving patients while providing them enroute care. Most aviation units are not equipped or staffed to perform MEDEVAC. It is also requested through medical channels. CASEVAC can be performed by any Army aviation utility aircraft when tasked by the maneuver commander. These requests would go through aviation channels.

(2) FM 8-10-6 provides further details on MEDEVAC employment.



Corps and division aviation assets will contribute during the preparation for offensive operations by assisting in finding, fixing, and engaging the enemy. When early engagement of enemy forces is desired in a meeting engagement, aviation forces may be employed to develop a situation until adequate ground forces can be moved into position to join in a hasty attack.

a. Movement to Contact.

(1) A movement to contact gains initial ground contact with the enemy or regains lost contact. Cavalry units, attack units, and target acquisition and reconnaissance units perform the movement to contact like a zone reconnaissance. Unlike a zone reconnaissance, the effort focuses on finding the enemy force; developing the situation early; and preventing the premature deployment of the main body following the cavalry. Terrain reconnaissance is conducted as necessary to support the intent of locating the enemy.

(2) As a result, movement to contact proceeds much faster than a zone reconnaissance. The division cavalry squadron can perform this mission when serving as part of a covering force or advance guard during a division movement to contact. A movement to contact is characterized by rapid, aggressive action. The commander rapidly develops the situation and may be permitted, particularly in division cavalry, to bypass enemy forces to maintain momentum. During a movement to contact, aviation assets may perform a number of tasks to include--

  • Reconnoiter and determine the trafficability of all high-speed routes within the zone.
  • Inspect and classify all bridges, culverts, overpasses, and underpasses along high-speed routes.
  • Identify all bypasses and fords that cannot support rapid, heavy movement.
  • Find and report all enemy forces within the zone and determine their size, composition, and activity.

(3) The cavalry squadron gains contact using the smallest element possible. This is normally scouts or aeroscouts performing reconnaissance for their troop. Actions on contact occur rapidly at platoon and troop level to prevent unnecessarily deploying other squadron assets.

(4) Division cavalry facilitates speed by using air cavalry to reconnoiter forward of the ground troops or to screen along exposed flanks. The reserve allows flexibility on contact and rapid resumption of movement by the troops.

b. Attack.

(1) During attack operations, aviation forces are employed in the close fight; they can be employed deep against second echelon forces, enemy artillery, helicopter forces, and enemy reaction forces, which could disrupt the momentum of the attack. Destruction of enemy C2 nodes can also be critical to the success of the attack.

(2) Operations beyond the depth of the close fight--especially when conducted in synchronization with other combined arms, and joint service contributions--can break the cohesion of enemy defenses and lead to exploitation and pursuit. These operations are least effective against dug-in targets.

c. Exploitation.

During exploitation operations, massed aviation assets under the aviation brigade may be used to maintain pressure on the disintegrating enemy forces. They also may be used to strike enemy forces attempting to reform or to provide reconnaissance in front of friendly advancing ground exploitation forces. Aerial reconnaissance gives the commander the capability to fight for information in the third dimension; then, operating in conjunction with ground forces, it can optimize the speed of advance.

d. Pursuit.

(1) When an exploitation or pursuit scenario develops, the inherent speed and mobility of aviation forces are ideally suited to maintain enemy contact, develop the situation, and deliver aerial fires upon positions of enemy resistance. Since pursuit is a difficult phase of an operation to predict, forces may not be positioned to properly exploit the situation.

(2) Aviation forces may be moved quickly to find, fix, and attack fleeing enemy units; locate the enemy strike forces; and guide US ground forces into attack positions or around enemy exposed flanks. The maneuverability and firepower of Army aviation make it the optimum force to conduct both exploitation and pursuit operations.

e. Search and Attack.

(1) Search and attack operations (a form of movement to contact) are generally conducted by smaller, lighter maneuver forces in densely forested areas to destroy enemy forces; deny area to the enemy; and collect information. They may also conduct search and attack operations--

  • Against a dispersed enemy on close terrain unsuitable for armored forces.
  • In rear areas against enemy special operations forces (SOF) or infiltrators.
  • As area security missions to clear assigned zones.

Search and attack operations can prevent the enemy from planning, assembling, and executing operations on his own initiative.

(2) Most search and attack operations begin without detailed prior information about the enemy. The commander must produce much of his own intelligence as the operation unfolds. These operations are conducted at company, battalion, and brigade levels with division support. Historically, units conduct search and attack operations--

  • In an environment of friendly air and fire superiority.
  • Against squad-to-company size forces equipped with small arms and mortars, but normally without artillery support.
  • Against both regular and guerrilla forces whose locations are unknown.
  • In an environment where the enemy has the advantage of knowing both the terrain and the local populace.

(3) There is a significant risk associated with this mission. If the aviation unit is surprised by a well-prepared, dug-in force, its effectiveness drops drastically; the probability of aircraft losses increases significantly. FM 1-112 describes search and attack in greater detail.


In defensive operations, the speed and mobility of aviation are used to maximize concentration and flexibility. During preparation for defensive operations, Aviation may support the covering force with aerial reconnaissance and fires. During the defense, aviation can be used to attack deep against high-payoff targets, enemy concentrations, and moving columns; and to disrupt enemy centers of gravity. Attack helicopter battalions can be employed in depth to attack follow-on echelons before they can move forward to the close battle. Aviation forces can be employed to conduct screening operations; in conjunction with ground forces, they conduct guard operations on an open flank.

a. Mobile Defense.

(1) The mobile defense is a defense that actively orients on the destruction of the enemy force. Generally, the force commander will resort to a mobile defense under the following conditions:

  • Friendly forces are insufficient to adequately defend the AO.
  • The commander possesses sufficient mobile forces to create a striking force.
  • Orientation of the defense is for the destruction of the enemy force versus the retention of terrain.

(2) The mobile defense employs a combination of fire and maneuver, offense, defense, and delay to defeat the enemy attack and destroy the enemy force. The main effort in the mobile defense will be the striking force (Figure 2-3). Other considerations in a mobile defense might include--

  • The planning of forward displacement of fire support assets when the striking force attacks.
  • The ability of the defending force to provide fire support to the striking force to mass fires.
  • The fact that the targets of the striking force may be beyond conventional artillery range.

(3) The striking force is key to the commander's scheme of maneuver; thus, the mobile defense may fail without its commitment. It is not a reserve since it is deployed on a specific mission; it is not available for commitment elsewhere. The mobile defense normally will have a reserve independent from the striking force. Attack helicopter battalions can be used to blunt the enemy's attack; thereby, they assist in the setup for the striking force.

(4) During the striking force attack, aviation forces can support--with direct and indirect fires--the attacking maneuver force. Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter units can assist in moving artillery and infantry to support the striking force attack. Together, combat aviation and ground maneuver forces provide a much more effective strike force that can bring simultaneous fires to bear upon the enemy from unexpected directions.

b. Area Defense.

(1) Area defense (Figure 2-4) is a defense that focuses on denying the enemy access to designated terrain or facilities for a specific time, rather than on the outright destruction of the enemy. The area defense is normally organized around static defensive positions in depth, seeking to destroy the enemy forces with interlocking fires.

(2) Division commanders normally position their forces in sectors and/or battalion battle positions on suitable terrain with a specific orientation of fires. In area defense operations, the ground commander can employ aviation maneuver forces to help contain tactical emergencies--by disengaging them from one area and quickly concentrating them in another. Also, the aviation brigade's mobility and agility permit division and corps commanders to leverage risk by possibly eliminating the necessity of holding as large a ground maneuver force in reserve.


a. In the conduct of the delay, aviation forces can assist the ground commander--by rapid concentration and employment of fires--to allow for disengagement and repositioning of friendly forces. Aviation forces can be employed to conduct surprise attacks to confuse advancing enemy formations. Air delivered mines can be used to supplement obstacles emplaced by engineers to impede or canalize enemy movements throughout the battle space. Air assault forces may be used to move rapidly between delaying positions.

b. The withdrawal, as in the delay, uses air cavalry and attack helicopters, in an offensive posture, to attrit enemy maneuver and fire support units; and to provide security for withdrawing friendly forces. During retirement, aviation forces can perform security operations to protect the movement of ground forces.

c. Retirement operations are conducted primarily at night; therefore, aviation's ability to maneuver, find, fix, and destroy the enemy, during the hours of darkness, is an advantage to the ground commander. Air cavalry units can assist in the security of routes of withdrawal. The retirement may occur over extended distances, and the security mission may be given to the corps or division aviation brigade commander. If so, appropriate ground units should be placed under his OPCON.


Although the planning focus for the corps differs from that of the division, the planning guidelines at both echelons are similar for aviation forces. Whether a corps commander is deciding on how to shape tomorrow's battlefield, or a division commander is planning tonight's counterattack, the planning principles for aviation brigades remain constant--brigades plan and battalions execute.

a. Deep Operations.

(1) The aviation brigade provides attack battalions to destroy the high-payoff targets in the form of maneuver objectives selected by the force commander. Air assault units conduct deep operations to place infantry at critical areas of the battlefield in support of the scheme of maneuver. Aviation also inserts and extracts special operations forces and long-range reconnaissance teams. Deep operations (Figure 2-5a) require intensive detailed joint planning, coupled with extensive intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB).

(2) Some of the coordination functions that must reconducted for a successful mission are--

  • Tracking the enemy through a series of named areas of interest (NAIs) and target areas of interest (TAIs).
  • SEMA and Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) sensor support and product dissemination coordinated for use in real or near real time (NRT).
  • Development of a decision support template (DST).
  • Joint suppression of enemy air defense (JSEAD).
  • Indirect fires.
  • Friendly air defense artillery (ADA) status.
  • Airspace deconfliction coordinated in the A2C2 cell.
  • Synchronization with the ground scheme of maneuver.

(3) In a high-threat environment, aviation deep operations must be fully supported by elements of all the battlefield operating systems to ensure success. Long distances traversed over hostile territory will demand heavy emphasis on JSEAD.

(4) Use of cannon artillery, multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), and Army tactical missile systems (ATACMS)--to suppress and destroy enemy forces along the route or in the target area--must be carefully synchronized. Army and Air Force EW capabilities should be planned as part of a deep operations package. Joint deception operations may be employed. Logistical aspects of the operation must receive heavy emphasis. Contingency planning facilitated by predictive intelligence will allow force packages to be prepared in accordance with the commander's intent. This should allow quick reaction to an execution "frag-order" (FRAGO) that can set the operation in motion in minutes, rather than hours. Application of the decide, detect, and deliver methodology will enable the aviation brigade to be responsive even when the demands of distance and enemy reaction make the planning complex.

b. Close Operations.

(1) In close operations (Figure 2-5b), aviation is a great combat multiplier. Massing attack helicopters in the main effort greatly enhances the scheme of maneuver. Aviation monitors the division commander's battle and delivers near real-time intelligence. Aviation can rapidly shift focus and concentrate forces for critical engagements. Aviation units conduct maneuver--using the same standard maneuver graphics as ground forces--and fight from battle positions similar to armor and infantry.

(2) The principles of direct fire planning require the same terrain analysis principles for an AH-64 Apache company commander as that required of an M1A1 Abrams tank company commander. One difference, the Apache company commander can expect to operate throughout the entire corps/division AO; he must be prepared to execute operations anywhere within the corps commander's battlespace.

(3) Army aviation units may, on a mission basis, be placed under OPCON of a ground maneuver brigade. Conversely, infantry and armor units may be placed under OPCON of an aviation battalion or brigade. Because of the possibility of fratricide, it is imperative that such operations be carefully coordinated and that battlefield identification systems be used. Normal maneuver control measures are appropriate for controlling both aviation and ground forces.

(4) The coordination of airspace and fire support must be synchronized through A2C2 procedures. The effective use of combined arms maneuver in all areas of battlespace will help ensure the survivability of friendly forces. Aviation utility and C-47 Chinook aircraft provide essential CS and CSS within the main battle area. Army aviation assets shape the ground commander's fight by providing armed reconnaissance; critical C2; rapid movement of combat power; EW operations; and delivery of aerial mines. CSS missions also support the fight by providing aeromedical evacuation; preplanned, and immediate, aerial resupply; air transport of exchange components; and pre-positioning of fuel and ammunition.

c. Rear Operations.

(1) Aviation offers a full range of capabilities during rear area operations (Figure 2-5c). It can be a tactical combat force (TCF) or act as a reaction force against enemy threats. Aviation's providing aerial resupply, troop movements, aeromedical evacuation, and movement of equipment--such as artillery--across the battlefield is an example of the more common missions accomplished behind the forward line of own troops (FLOT).

(2) Detailed contingency planning is required for success in all rear area operations. Contingency planning and establishing C2 relationships for the rear battle sets the conditions for commitments for aviation forces in the rear areas. The aviation commander selects forces for the conduct of rear area operations based upon METT-T and contingency orders from higher headquarters.


a. Air Combat in Deep Operations. During deep operations, aviation--

  • Provides aerial security during air assault and attack helicopter operations.
  • Must coordinate air combat planning with the ADA commander and other combined arms forces in the area.
  • Must develop procedures for surviving an enemy air attack and then reconstituting aviation units.
  • May require allocation of aviation forces exclusively for air combat roles.
  • May require on-order missions for the majority of aviation forces. This allows the force commander to commit only the aviation assets necessary to counter the air threat while others continue primary maneuver or support missions.

b. Air Combat in Short Range Air Defense Operations (Close/Rear Battles)

(1) During short range air defense (SHORAD) operations--

  • Air combat operations provide for the protection of the combined arms team to include combat, CS, CSS units, and other high-value assets and locations.
  • Air combat operations provide self-defense to aviation units.
  • Assets must coordinate air combat planning with the ADA commander and other combined arms forces in the area.
  • Attack and air cavalry assets may be tasked or diverted to perform air combat operations.
  • Aviation may augment ground ADA forces in protecting vital assets in the rear area while they are repositioning or reconstituting.

(2) Although aviation is developing a credible air combat capability, aviation units should not normally be assigned areas of AD responsibility. Aviation can best use its maneuverability and firepower to augment ground AD at the point of enemy attack or to temporarily fill gaps in the maneuver force's ADA coverage.

c. Other Issues in Combat Operations.

(1) Air combat operations may be critical in future wars. Air combat is the engagement or evasion of enemy aircraft. It is always a specified or implied mission when an air threat is predicted or present. Air combat operations--as a component of SHORAD in the close and rear battles--assist in protecting the combined arms force; providing self-defense; and augmenting tactical AD systems.

(2) Risk versus payoff does not warrant using Army aviation assets in a dedicated air combat role; therefore, Army aviation's response to an air threat is primarily defensive. Whenever possible, planned destruction of an air threat should be accomplished with ADA, field artillery, and/or Air Force assets. In addition, entry into an air engagement detracts from Army aviation's overall mission as a maneuver force.

(3) Aviation commanders must be prepared to support the force commander by conducting both offensive and defensive air combat operations. Air combat engagements will be short; victory will go to the side that can concentrate effective fires first.

(4) A major consideration for maneuver force commanders will be how to allocate adequate aviation forces to the ground scheme of maneuver while retaining force sufficiency to conduct on--order counterair operations. Aviation commanders tasked with multiple combat missions involving a significant air threat must be prepared to apportion a part of their force to conduct air combat operations. METT-T and IPB will determine the amount of combat power used for air combat missions and counterair requirements.

(5) Any armed helicopter can be called upon to execute air-to-air combat with any of its organic weapon systems. The weapon of choice will almost always be an air-to-air missile; however, if the mission profile does not include them, 30mm and 20mm, rockets, TOW, and Hellfire missiles can all be used in an air-to-air role.

(6) FM 1-112, Appendix F, includes detailed procedures and engagement criteria for each weapon system.


a. Effective liaison between Army aviation units and supported elements is imperative. Aviation liaison officers (LNOs) will support maneuver, CS, and CSS operations. When under the OPCON of ground maneuver elements, aviation commanders should ensure that they are represented by well-trained, tactically proficient, LNOs especially during the planning process.

b. The role of the commander in this function cannot be overstated. Aviation commanders are the key linkage in establishing and perpetuating effective liaison; they should maintain a personal interface with the supported unit commander throughout operations.

c. LNOs, and S3/G3 air officers, must know aviation force structure; operational tactics; weapon systems capabilities, aviation maneuver employment; and sustainment requirements. The aviation LNO must be familiar with the capabilities of all Army aircraft available to the supported unit. These officers must continuously conceptualize how aviation can influence combat action and help other combat arms to achieve greater combat effectiveness.


a. Aviation Forces in SASO.

(1) Aviation units have participated and can anticipate participating in every activity in SASO. Aviation's ability to rapidly deploy and operate effectively in austere environments makes it an invaluable asset in SASO. Aviation provides combat, CS, and CSS for SASO by--

  • Reaching remote areas.
  • Delivering food and medical supplies.
  • Providing emergency communications.
  • Providing aeromedical evacuation.
  • Extracting disaster victims.
  • Providing reconnaissance and security, combat projection, and the movement of personnel and equipment, administratively and tactically.

(2) The very presence of aviation makes it a highly visible deterrent force that can rapidly transition from peace to conflict.

b. SASO and Aviation Task Organization.

(1) SASO can quickly transition from peacetime through conflict to war. Aviation units selected for SASO missions should carefully analyze the possibility of the mission deteriorating to conflict.

(2) A critical challenge facing aviation unit commanders is the task organization of their forces to accomplish the mission. As in the example of Somalia, a single aviation task force may well combine--under the operational control of one headquarters--the missions of the cavalry, attack, assault, CS, CSS, and humanitarian assistance. The aviation brigade commander, before deploying his force, must ensure that the deploying force is manned with a staff whose experience will cover the range of anticipated missions.

(3) Some major areas of consideration and planning include--

  • Rules of engagement must be very clear to every commander and soldier; they should be specific enough to address the appropriate response to each known or suspected threat.
  • Mission statement and commander's intent must be clear and understandable.
  • Increased reliance on nonorganic personnel for assistance (nongovernment, civil affairs, counterintelligence).
  • Mission versus METL: Identify training deficiencies before deployment.
  • AD threat: tactics and techniques necessary to accomplish the mission.
  • Military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT) operations.
  • Night vision operations in an urban environment.
  • Combat search and rescue.
  • Extraction of downed crews in urban terrain.
  • Nondoctrinal service and support packages.
  • Publications.
  • Calibration, how/where.
  • Maintenance sustainability.
  • Compatibility with host nation/allies.
  • Facilities.
  • Cranes or other overhead lift.
  • High operational tempo (OPTEMPO).
  • Compatibility of aircraft to mission requirements.
  • AVIM support.
  • Combat identification.
  • Aerial command post operations.
  • Convoy security.
  • Nondoctrinal communications requirements.
  • Force protection.
  • Psychological operations (PSYOP) operations.
  • Transport of civilian personnel on military aircraft/rules and authority.
  • Gunnery tactics, techniques, and procedures in an urban environment, limiting collateral damage, and eliminating fratricide.
  • Flight following in areas without support infrastructure.
  • Aircraft survivability equipment/survival vest, armor vests, weapons selection for crews, video cameras/video play back, rules of engagement, legal status of forces, limits of legal authority.

NOTE: The foregoing is not an inclusive list. The aviation commander, using all available information at hand, will have to anticipate requirements and organize his forces.

c. SASO Overview.

(1) SASO are designed to promote regional stability maintain, or achieve, democratic end-states; retain US influence and access abroad; provide humanitarian assistance to distressed areas; protect US interests; and assist US civil authorities. Such employment of Army forces may minimize the need for combat operations by defusing crises and nurturing peaceful resolution of issues.

(2) The Army usually conducts such operations as part of a joint team, and often in conjunction with other US and foreign government agencies. SASO are intrinsic to a combatant commander's peacetime theater strategy; an ambassador's country plan; or civil assistance, at home. The employment of aviation forces can be integrated by the combatant commander into the activities that support theater and country-specific plans to achieve regional and national objectives. Compel, reassure, and deter will be the foundation for SASO plans.

(3) SASO will not always have peaceful results. Several of the activities employing aviation forces will be conducted in the presence of hostile threat forces; they may result in combat, either by design or by the reaction of those threat forces.

(a) In general, the same principles and tenets that apply to aviation forces in combat operations will apply to aviation forces in these operations where the potential for combat exists. The main modification to the aviation principles and tenets is the need for restraint in SASO.

(b) In SASO, it is essential to apply appropriate military capability prudently. The actions of soldiers and aviation units are framed by the disciplined application of force in accordance with the specific rules of engagement. The use of excessive force could impede the attainment of both short-and long-term goals; therefore, restraints will often be placed on the weaponry, tactics, and levels of violence allowed in this environment. Also, because of the decentralized nature of operations often found in this environment, sergeants, warrant officers, and company grade officers are often placed in decision-making situations that could very well have strategic implications. Commanders should attempt to anticipate these situations and ensure the rules of engagement appropriately address them.

(4) The principle of security must be emphasized by aviation forces engaged in SASO. The presence of US forces in nations around the world may provoke a wide range of responses by factions, groups, or forces of unfriendly nations. Regardless of the mission, the commander must protect his force at all times. He should never be lulled into believing that the nonhostile intent of his mission does not put his force at risk. Inherent in this responsibility is the need to be capable of rapid transition from a peaceful to a combat posture, should the need arise.

(5) The activities in which aviation forces will be employed in SASO can be grouped in three main categories: peacetime contingency operations; peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance; and military support to civilian authorities. These categories are discussed below.

d. Security and Limited Conflict. The seven types of operations that have some potential to result in armed conflict are discussed below.

(1) Show of force. A show of force is a mission carried out to demonstrate US resolve in which US forces deploy to defuse a volatile situation that may be detrimental to US interests or national objectives. These operations can influence other governments or politico-military organizations to respect US interests and international law. They can take the form of combined training exercises; rehearsals; forward deployment of military forces; or introduction, and buildup, of military forces in a region. The mobility, flexibility, agility, and firepower of aviation forces make them ideal for employment in such operations. Emphasis in show of force operations for aviation will be on readiness to conduct combat and CS missions.

(2) Noncombatant evacuation operations. NEO relocate threatened civilian noncombatants from locations in a foreign country or host nation. These operations may involve US citizens whose lives are in danger; they may include selected host nation citizens or third country nationals. NEO may be conducted in the environments of conflict or war in a peaceful, orderly fashion or may require forcible means. Aviation forces are employed in the rapid air movement of noncombatants from endangered areas not safely served by fixed-wing aircraft. Scout and attack aircraft provide security for the air movement; they are prepared to engage hostile elements that may attempt to interfere with NEO.

(3) Counterdrug operations.

(a) Military efforts support and complement--rather than replace--the counterdrug efforts of other US agencies, state agencies, and cooperating foreign governments. Aviation support can occur in any or all phases of a combined and synchronized effort to attack the flow of illegal drugs at the source, in transit, and during distribution. Army participation in counterdrug operations will normally be in support of law enforcement agencies. SEMA units play an active role in counterdrug operations.

(b) Support to host nations includes assistance to their forces to destroy drug production facilities; collaboration with host nation armed forces to prevent export of illegal drugs; and nation assistance to help develop economic alternatives to production, exportation, and distribution of drugs. Support to interdiction efforts centers on monitoring and detecting illegal drugs in transit as well as integrating C3I systems. In interdicting drug production at the source, aviation units may be used to assist in locating production facilities; inserting reconnaissance, and special operations, teams; and supporting troop lift of indigenous forces engaged in counterdrug operations. Air cavalry scouts can be employed in the reconnaissance of suspected drug production areas, particularly at night, using forward-looking infrareds (FLIRs) and night observation devices. The contributions of aviation C2 aircraft, assault helicopter units, and scout/attack aircraft can be effective in the conduct of such operations.

(c) Aviation units and soldiers may support domestic counterdrug operations in planning and providing training assistance. Equipment loans and transfers and other assistance may be requested and provided. This support may expand as national policy and legal restrictions evolve.

(4) Support for insurgences and counterinsurgencies.

(a) At the direction of the National Command Authority (NCA), US military forces may assist either insurgent movements or host nation governments opposing an insurgency.

(b) US military resources will be used to provide support to a host nation's counterinsurgency operations in the context of foreign internal defense (FID) through logistical and training support. Military support to FID is provided through the unified CINC.

(c) Where US forces are supporting a host nation's counterinsurgency operation, most of the aviation missions can be employed effectively. Initially, aviation may assist host nation commanders with C2 aircraft. Air assault units will be essential for tactical troop movements; scout or attack units may be required for reconnaissance and security. Aeromedical evacuation from remote or inaccessible locations may be required.

(d) In view of the uncertainty of counterinsurgency requirements, it may be that only a few aviation missions would be appropriate. In such a situation, it is possible that selected aviation battalions would be deployed and organized into provisional units, rather than deploying full aviation brigades. These deployments make it imperative that a modular concept of aviation logistics is in place to support nonstandard aviation organizations.

(e) The United States supports selected insurgences opposing oppressive regimes that work against its interests. Because support for insurgences is often covert, SOF are frequently involved. Their extensive unconventional warfare training and experience makes SOF aviation units well suited to provide this support. General purpose aviation forces may be employed when the situation requires their specialties or when the scope of operations is so vast that overt conventional forces are required.

(5) Combatting terrorism. The two major subcomponents to combatting terrorism are antiterrorism and counterterrorism. During peacetime, the Army combats terrorism primarily through antiterrorism--passive defensive measures taken to minimize vulnerability to terrorism. Antiterrorism is a form of force protection and is, therefore, the responsibility of aviation unit commanders at all levels. Counterterrorism is the full range of offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. Army elements, such as SOF aviation units, assist in this interagency effort by applying specialized capabilities to preclude, preempt, and resolve terrorist incidents abroad. SOF aviation may conduct counterterrorism operations by inserting and extracting special operations teams and providing firepower to support their operations.

(6) Peace enforcement.

(a) Peace enforcement operations are military operations in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between hostile factions. These factions may not be consenting to intervention and may be engaged in combat activities. Peace enforcement implies the use of force or its threat to coerce hostile factions to cease and desist from violent actions. Units conducting peace enforcement must be prepared at all times to apply combat power to restore order, separate warring factions, and return the situation to one more conducive to civil order and discipline.

(b) Aviation units--which can be deployed into the area of operation with early entry ground forces--can have a significant deterrent effect on the indigenous combatants, particularly if these factions have armored forces. Air cavalry units or attack units may be employed to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance over wide areas and provide visual route reconnaissance. Chinook helicopter units may have an important role in moving military and civil peace enforcement personnel, or in delivering required supplies when warring factions interdict surface transportation or routes become impassable.

(c) Aviation forces employed in peace enforcement operations must operate in conjunction with ground maneuver forces that can interpose themselves between warring factions on the ground. Forces should expect ambiguous situations to be normal and must adhere to authorized rules of engagement. This is a difficult mission that requires restraint, patience, and a heightened awareness of force protection measures.

(7) Attacks and raids.

(a) The Army conducts attacks and raids to create situations that permit seizing and maintaining political and military initiative. Aviation is well suited to these combat operations because attacks and raids are normally conducted to achieve specific objectives other than gaining or holding terrain. Attacks by conventional air, ground, and aviation forces--acting independently or in conjunction with SOF--are used to damage or destroy high-value targets or to demonstrate US capability and resolve to achieve a favorable result.

(b) Raids are usually small-scale operations involving swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information; temporarily seize an objective; or destroy a target. Raids include a rapid, preplanned withdrawal after completion of the mission. Aviation forces conduct such attacks and raids using either attack helicopter or assault aviation assisted by air cavalry reconnaissance and security elements.

e. Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance.

(1) Peacekeeping operations.

(a) Peacekeeping operations support diplomatic efforts to maintain peace in areas of potential conflict. They stabilize conflict between belligerent nations or factions; therefore, they require the consent of all parties involved in the dispute. Peacekeeping often involves ambiguous situations requiring the peacekeeping force to deal with extreme tension and violence without becoming a participant. As with peacemaking operations, aviation units and soldiers engaged in peacekeeping must apply restraint; have patience; and maintain a heightened security awareness, in executing these missions.

(b) Peacekeeping forces deter violent acts by their physical presence at violence-prone locations. They collect information on the situation by all means available. Scout aircraft and SEMA platforms are indispensable components of a joint peacekeeping force. C2 and liaison aircraft will enable the leaders of the force to move to critical points rapidly and remain abreast of the situation as it develops.

(2) Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

(a) Humanitarian assistance operations provide emergency relief to victims of natural or man-made disasters; they are initiated in response to domestic, foreign government, or international agency requests for immediate help and rehabilitation. Disaster relief operations include refugee assistance; food programs; medical treatment and care; restoration of law and order; damage and capabilities assessment; and damage control.

(b) Aviation can provide logistics support to move supplies to remote areas; extract or evacuate victims; assist in establishment of emergency communications; and provide aeromedical evacuation services, in support of medical operations. Aviation's ability to deploy rapidly--and its capability to operate effectively in austere environments--make it ideally suited for these missions.

(3) Nation assistance.

(a) Nation assistance operations are conducted in support of a host nation's efforts to promote self-development. The goals of nation assistance will be specified in the ambassador's country plan and the CINC's theater strategy. The goals of nation assistance normally are accomplished through education and the transfer of essential skills to the host nation.

(b) Army aviation's participation in nation assistance will normally be limited to the use of individual soldiers and teams to train and educate; and the use of liaison aircraft to assist in overcoming terrain obstacles, and limited road nets, and as a means of communications.

(4) Security assistance.

(a) Security assistance programs are the means by which the United States provides defense materiel, military training, and defense-related services--by grant, loan, credit, or cash sales--to further national policies and objectives. The main interface of the US Army with a host nation occurs through the Security Assistance Training Program. The program has two primary subcomponents--the International Military Education and Training Program (IMETP) and the Foreign Military Sales Program (FMSP).

(b) The IMETP is designed to enhance the proficiency, professional performance, and readiness of foreign armed forces. The Army conducts international education and training in the continental United States (CONUS), as well as in the host nation. The United States Army Aviation Center (USAAVNC) provides formal courses, orientation tours, and on-the-job training in support of this program.

(c) The FMSP allows designated governments to purchase military equipment, services, and training from the United States. The sale of aviation end items may require training in the operation and maintenance of those items. Mobile training teams, resident instruction at the USAAVNC and other US Army schools, and similar methods are used to conduct this training. The FMSP differs from the IMETP in that the recipient of FMSP pays for the equipment, services, and training received.

f. Military Support to Civilian Authorities (MSCA).

(1) When appropriate governmental authority directs the armed forces to assist in domestic emergencies within CONUS, the Army has primary responsibility. Army aviation units support disaster relief; provide humanitarian assistance and ATS; and conduct similar operations, when directed. The ability of aviation units to rapidly deliver relief supplies and services to devastated or inaccessible areas rapidly is a critical advantage in the execution of such operations.

(2) Federal law authorizes the domestic use of military force to suppress domestic violence or insurrection. The Constitution and federal law, however, place restrictions on the use of military force in this manner.

(3) The Posse Comitatus Act requires specific Presidential or congressional approval and direction before Active Army or US Army Reserve forces may execute the law in place of duly appointed law enforcement means. The Army National Guard has similar, but less stringent, restrictions. In its capacity as a state militia, the National Guard may employ aviation units to assist state law enforcement officials largely at the discretion of the state government.

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