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Chapter 3


This chapter covers aviation operation principles, planning considerations, task organization, and employment principles and roles of the aviation brigade. It is a foundation for commanders and their staffs to use in employing their aviation units at all echelons in close, deep, and rear operations.


SECTION I. Aviation Operation Principles


a. Aviation provides the essence of a versatile force whose primary focus is combat operations. General principles that apply and go beyond or derive from the principles of war and the tenets of Army operations (chapter 1) drive mission and execution. FM 1-100 describes aviation operation principles in detail.

b. Army aviation operation principles are as follows:

(1) Aviation operates in the ground regime.

(2) Aviation expands the battlefield in space and time at each echelon.

(3) Aviation performs combat, combat support (CS), and combat service support (CSS) battlefield functions.

(4) The role of combat aviation is to locate, report and/or destroy enemy ground forces and support elements.

(5) Aviation is concentrated at division and corps level.

(6) Aviation units are integrated into the combined arms down to the level at which they will be employed.

(7) Planning times for aviation and ground maneuver elements will be the same.


a. The general principles listed above drive Army aviation mission planning for - and execution of - combat operations. By providing guidance beyond the principles of war and the tenets of Army operations, they establish the broad doctrinal focus of Army aviation operations.

b. For example, when applying these principles, aviation commanders -

(1) Define aviation's role as an essential member of the combined arms team.

(2) Integrate Army aviation into all strategic, operational, and tactical operations to achieve success.

(3) Enable Army aviation to retain tactical maneuver advantage over the enemy.

(4) Shape the battlespace with aerial and ground maneuver forces during combined arms, joint, combined, special, and contingency operations.


SECTION II. Planning Considerations



a. The focus of Army aviation must enhance ground-paced maneuver and exploit maneuver. Army aviation has the capability to place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power in the third dimension. Thus, aviation accelerates the tempo of combat operations while remaining an integral part of the combined arms team. During offensive and defensive operations, the aviation brigade is employed offensively to retain the initiative and offensive spirit critical to successful operations in close, deep, and rear areas.

b. In planning aviation operations, the brigade commander and his staff must consider several factors. The two primary factors are the higher commander's intent and mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T). After the analysis is completed, a concept of operation is developed. Then orders are issued for execution by subordinate elements. Other considerations include risk analysis and CSS.


Unit commanders must understand how their actions complement the overall plan. Army aviation operations doctrine emphasizes exploiting the initiative at every level of command; however, all initiatives must follow the intent of the next higher command. Misinterpretations can lead to counterproductive actions and potentially disastrous results. The higher commander's plans for conducting the battle dictates the employment of the aviation brigade. Therefore, the brigade commander not only must be cognizant of the mission but he must also appreciate the ultimate objective of higher echelon actions. The commander ensures that his intent is clearly understood. He also establishes guidelines for reacting to contingencies that may develop during the operation. Such planning promotes initiative.


The brigade commander and his staff must fully analyze the factors of METT-T and understand its many areas.

a. Mission. The specified task or mission issued to the aviation brigade must be fully understood. The brigade commander-and his staff-must determine whether the commander's units can fulfill the mission as prescribed. If not, the commander must convey to higher headquarters what augmentation or support he needs to accomplish the mission.

b. Enemy. Commanders must know enemy doctrine, tactics, forces, and objectives; assess enemy capabilities and intentions; exploit enemy weaknesses; and focus intelligence assets. All information available about the enemy should be obtained through a detailed brigade S2 intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). This information must be continuously updated and thoroughly disseminated. The IPB is one of the most important aspects of planning. FM 34-130 discusses IPB in detail.

c. Terrain. The terrain is as important as the mission and enemy. Many details about the terrain can be obtained through IPB. However, several other factors should also be considered. These include environmental conditions of the aviation brigade's area of operations (AO), the weather, and surface conditions that may affect both friendly and enemy operations.

d. Troops. Troops available include those units assigned to the aviation brigade as well as other forces that may be task-organized with the brigade. Aviation brigades can also accept operational control (OPCON) of other aviation forces. Section III covers task organization in more detail.

e. Time Available. Time is also a critical consideration. Time may include time of execution as well as time for preparation of a particular operation or mission. Ideally, planning at higher headquarters consumes one-third of the time allocated; subordinate units should be allowed two-thirds of the time for their planning and preparation.


SECTION III. Task Organization



a. Aviation Brigade Pure. Aviation brigades may be employed as an aviation brigade pure force. As a pure force, aviation brigades offer the force commander the agility and flexibility to create windows of opportunity and to strike aggressively and decisively against threat operational and tactical centers of gravity. Speed, range, and mobility are inherent in an aviation-pure organization.

b. Combined Arms. Aviation brigades may be task-organized with other maneuver forces or be the controlling headquarters for a combined arms force. The combined arms organization provides force commanders the unique capability to accelerate the tempo of ground maneuver operations while employing ground and air maneuver to keep the enemy off balance. Appendix F covers combined arms operations in detail.

c. Force Protection. Pure aviation brigades are minimally manned to provide force protection. When attached, external force protection support personnel must be ready to provide ground security around and throughout the brigade assembly areas (AAs). Force protection packages vary according to the mission, operating environment, and sizes and locations of the AA(s).


a. Synchronization is the arrangement of battlefield activities to produce maximum relative combat power at the decisive point. Synchronization relies on the complementary and reinforcing effects of combined arms and services. It requires a unity of purpose that fuses close, deep, and rear operations. Synchronization also depends on the mastery of time-space relationships as well as knowledge of enemy and friendly capabilities. Careful and complete planning and coordination are extremely important for integrating the combat power of aviation forces with other combined arms assets. The goal of synchronization is to use every asset where, when, and in the manner in which it contributes most to superiority at the point of decision.

b. Forces in combined arms operations complement each other's objectives. Aviation and ground forces do not always attack along the same axis or have identical objectives. The key is to plan operations that synchronize combat power to constantly pressure the enemy.

c. Aviation brigades are integrated into the scheme of maneuver through liaison operations ( LOs). Also, aviation unit commanders coordinate face-to-face with ground commanders as described in paragraph 2-17 (Liaison Operations).


Aviation brigades and subordinate units may operate with other maneuver, CS, or CSS elements during all operations. These assets may be employed in either a command or support relationship, depending on METT-T and the overall scheme of maneuver.

a. Command Relationships. Command relationships are assigned, attached, under OPCON, or under tactical control (TACON). Aviation forces operating in the maneuver role may be placed under OPCON or TACON of another maneuver headquarters (normally brigade and higher) for a specific mission or period of time. Aviation forces also may conduct CS and CSS operations under OPCON; however, they usually operate in a support relationship.

b. Support Relationships. Joint Publication (JP 0-2) states that-when a superior commander decides that one force should aid, assist, protect, or sustain another force-a support relationship will be established between the forces. Direct support (DS), general support (GS), and mutual support (defined below) are the only support relationships that apply to Army aviation operations. For example, assault helicopter and medium helicopter units may perform air movement operations or command aviation assets may enhance command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) operations.

(1) Mutual Support: Mutual support is the support that units render each other against an enemy because of their assigned tasks, their position relative to each other and to the enemy, and their inherent capabilities. (JP 1-02)

(2) General Support: General support is the support that is given to the supported force as a whole and not to any particular subdivision thereof. (JP 1-02)

(3) Direct Support: Direct support is the support provided by a unit or formation not attached or under the command of the supported unit or formation, but required to give priority to the support required by that unit or formation. (JP 1-02)


SECTION IV. Employment Principles



Aviation brigades contribute at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of warfare. Integration of Army aviation into all strategic, operational, and tactical operations is a decisive factor in achieving overall success during modern combat. Force commanders shape the battle with aerial and ground maneuver forces during combined arms, joint, and combined operations-as well as contingency operations-across the spectrum of conflict. Army aviation operations-whether enhancing ground-paced maneuver or accelerating the tempo of operations-enable force commanders to retain tactical maneuver advantage over the enemy.


a. The employment of aviation units differs little from that of typical ground maneuver forces. The principles below are guidelines for the employment of aviation assets operating on the modern battlefield. These principles are further described as they pertain to aviation brigades.

(1) Fight as an integral part of the combined arms team. Integration of aviation employment is key to the overall scheme of maneuver. Aviation brigade assets are optimized when integrated into the ground tactical plan. Aviation brigades can conduct independent or pure aviation brigade operations; however, they are normally a member of the combined arms team. Aviation brigades require augmentation to conduct independent operations for extended periods. Whether pure or task-organized, they increase the tempo of operations. When employed as a member of the combined arms team, aviation brigades also help ensure that the enemy has to fight in more than one direction.

(2) Exploit the capabilities of other branches and services. During all operations, aviation brigade assets rely on other branches or services or both. The aviation brigade at any echelon must be employed with other branches to offset its own vulnerabilities; thus, it must exploit the strengths of other branches and services. For example, during a maneuver operation, ground units expose the enemy. Then aviation forces-including combat, CS and CSS-exploit the enemy's weaknesses. These assets must be fully exercised to obtain their maximum potential.

(3) Capitalize on intelligence-gathering capabilities. Aviation brigades provide the force commander with enormous intelligence-gathering capabilities. Thus, the commander must focus on his intelligence-gathering assets and integrate or capitalize on the capabilities of all assets available for mutual support.

(4) Suppress enemy weapons and acquisition means. Enemy air defense (AD) weapons and acquisition systems may be defeated actively or passively. The aviation brigade commander must accomplish one or both of these tasks. Passive means include terrain flight techniques, employment of aviation survivability equipment (ASE), and avoidance. Active measures include direct or indirect weapons employment against a particular target. Aviation brigade elements may perform this mission in a mutually supporting role or depend on other branches or services for this function. During the planning and execution of an operation, aviation brigades must use assets such as attack aircraft, field artillery (FA), intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) support forces, US Air Force (USAF), US Navy (USN), and US Marine Corps (USMC) assets or a combination of these.

(5) Exploit firepower. Aviation brigades allow the force commander to exploit firepower in several ways. Attack helicopter units provide direct fires during offensive and defensive operations. Aviation units-particularly target acquisition companies and platoons-observe and adjust indirect fires. Assault and medium helicopter units position and resupply AD, antitank, and FA units across the battlefield. The aviation brigade lends depth to the force, as in defensive operations when they may be employed to cover the deployment of ground maneuver forces. They also are well suited to attack trailing enemy formations.

(6) Exploit mobility. Aviation brigades allow the force commander to position fire and maneuver assets rapidly anywhere on the battlefield. These forces quickly position themselves at critical points to counterattack enemy penetrations, exploit and pursue enemy retrograde actions, or influence enemy actions deep in enemy rear areas. Also, aviation brigades conduct air assault and air movement as a part of the overall scheme of maneuver to provide mobility for the force commander.

(7) Exploit surprise. With their increased firepower and mobility, aviation brigades can exploit surprise when and where the enemy least expects it. Aviation forces may be employed day or night-and in some adverse weather conditions-to enhance the element of surprise. Planning, however, remains critical to the success of the unit.

(8) Mass forces. Mobility plays a vital role in massing forces. Aviation brigade assets can be rapidly positioned and repositioned at critical points on the battlefield. Combat power is refocused relentlessly anywhere on the battlefield to exploit the enemy's weaknesses.

(9) Use terrain for survivability. Although aviation brigade maneuver, CS, and CSS units are not restricted by terrain, they are-in a sense-bound by terrain for survivability. Aviation forces also must use terrain for cover and concealment as their ground counterparts. Army airspace command and control (A2C2) is a necessary element; it ensures that a force commander's "airspace" is not violated and that personnel and equipment are not lost needlessly.

(10) Displace forward elements frequently. Aviation brigades typically are not displaced well forward as an entire unit. Elements of the brigade may be employed for a specific mission or period of time based on METT-T.

(11) Maintain flexibility. Aviation brigades greatly enhance a force commander's flexibility. While the focus may be on close or deep operations, aviation brigade assets may be tasked to perform rear operations at the same time or as a separate action. Flexibility provided by aviation brigades allows the commander to combine the firepower and mobility employed with surprise and the massing of troops to conduct combined arms and joint operations.

(12) Exercise staying power. If planned in detail and coordinated properly, aviation brigade assets may be employed for a sustained period of time or for a specific operation. Aviation forces greatly enhance the commander's staying power. However, they must be augmented by CS and CSS to increase their staying power. Through integration of CS and CSS assets with aviation and other maneuver forces; these assets are available for future operations, as well as for present operations.

b. The guidelines for Army aviation employment are a collection of flexible, common sense ideas. They are not to be rigidly applied; these ideas, instead, must be carefully tailored to each situation. Certain situations may require emphasis on one or more of the principles. Leaders must weigh the operational payoff against the inherent risk.


SECTION V. Employment Roles



a. Aviation brigades provide the force commander with the capability to conduct missions across the range of military operations. This section focuses on those missions the aviation brigade is required to execute. It describes the major employment roles and other battlefield functions related to the employment principles of aviation brigades. These roles and principles complement the participation of aviation brigades in combined arms, joint, combined, and special operations. The employment roles for aviation brigade operations include combat, CS, and CSS. Normally, in the CS and CSS roles, aviation brigades are force providers.

b. Knowledge of the threat, IPB, and METT-T are the keys to balancing aviation's employment principles properly. Thus, the commander can achieve success on the modern battlefield.


During combat operations, aviation brigades conduct attack, reconnaissance, security, air assault, and special operations (SO), and exercise command and control (C2).

a. Attack. Attack helicopter operations normally are offensive in nature; however, they may be conducted during offensive or defensive operations. Attack helicopter battalions (ATKHBs) operate in the close, deep, and rear environments. Attack helicopter capabilities include antiarmor, antipersonnel, suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), joint air attack team (JAAT), limited air combat, and the destruction of enemy facilities and materiel. Attack helicopter missions include raids, exploitations, pursuits, deceptions, counterattacks, spoiling attacks, reconnaissance, and security. Attack helicopter operations can cause the enemy to divert combat forces and force the untimely commitment of follow-on forces. The intent behind all attack operations is to hinder the threat's current and future operations. Essential elements for attack operations include friendly and enemy situational awareness, an extensive SEAD effort; command, control, communications, and countermeasures (C3CM); and well-planned and supportable CSS.

b. Reconnaissance. Reconnaissance operations obtain information by visual observation or electronic detection methods. This information may concern the activities and resources of an actual/potential enemy, or the meteorologic, hydrographic, and/or geographic characteristics of a particular area. The division cavalry and air reconnaissance squadrons conduct this mission as part of the aviation brigade or are employed directly by the division commander. The cavalry and air reconnaissance squadrons conduct zone, area, and route reconnaissance as well as force-oriented and reconnaissance-in-force operations. Although not their primary mission, ATKHBs also can perform reconnaissance. FM 1-112 and FM 17-95 provide detailed procedures for reconnaissance operations.

c. Security. Security forces provide reaction time, maneuver space, and protection for the main body. Security operations include screen, guard, cover, and rear area security missions. Although not a formal type of security operation, air assault security also is a critical mission performed by attack helicopters.

(1) Screening force operations. Screening operations are conducted within supporting indirect fires from the main body. The cavalry squadron normally conducts screening operations for the division commander or in support of a ground brigade. FM 17-95 discusses screen operations in detail. An overview of screen missions includes:

(a) Maintaining surveillance.

(b) Providing early warning to the main body.

(c) Impeding and harassing the enemy with supporting fires.

(d) Performing counterreconnaissance by destroying enemy reconnaissance elements.

(2) Guard force operations. Guard operations are conducted within supporting indirect fires from the main body, and accomplish all the tasks of a screening force. In addition, a guard force prevents enemy ground observation of, and direct fire against, the main body. A guard force may reconnoiter, conduct target acquisition and engagement, attack, defend, and delay to accomplish its mission. FM 17-95 discusses guard operations in detail.

(3) Covering force operations.

(a) A covering force accomplishes all the tasks of screening and guard forces. However, a covering force may operate outside the range of the main body's indirect fires and is a tactically self-contained force.

(b) Armored cavalry regiments (ACRs) normally conduct covering force operations for the corps. If the corps has an ACR, the corps aviation brigade may be required to augment it. If the corps has no ACR, the aviation brigade may be tasked as the covering force headquarters. In this situation, the aviation brigade commander can expect to be augmented with additional ground maneuver forces, CS, and CSS. He also should be relieved of deep and rear operational requirements when conducting operations as a covering force.

(c) A division covering force probably will be a brigade-size task force (TF). If the division aviation brigade is tasked to be the covering force headquarters, the brigade commander can expect to be augmented with ground maneuver forces and additional CS and CSS. If the aviation brigade is not tasked to be the covering force headquarters, the aviation brigade commander can expect to support the covering force operation with aviation brigade assets. FM 17-95 discusses covering force operations in detail.

d. Air Assault. Aircraft are vulnerable during movement, insertion, and extraction operations; therefore, they require support from combined arms resources. Attack helicopter units and FA normally are integrated into the movement, insertion, extraction, and ground tactical plans to provide security and to weight combat power. Terrain flight techniques mask unit movements, thus enhancing survivability and deception. While air assault operations are tied directly to the ground tactical plan, coordination time normally is short. These operations are enhanced when pathfinders or personnel trained in air assault coordinate landing zone (LZ) and pickup zone (PZ) activities. Comprehensive standing operating procedures (SOPs) and habitual training relationships also make these operations more effective. Assault helicopter battalions (AHBs) deliver forces directly into close, deep, and rear combat operations. Air assault forces-

(1) Seize and retain key terrain.

(2) Engage and destroy rear area threats.

(3) Attack and/or counterattack during close and deep operations.

(4) Conduct raids and deception operations.

(5) Block or contain enemy forces.

e. Special Operations (SO). Aviation brigades may be employed in roles critical to the success of SO. They also may operate with, augment, or participate in SO. Aviation brigades may have to provide aviation support to special operation forces (SOF)-conducting unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, antiterrorism, and other SO activities. FM 1-108 and Appendix K of this manual describe SO missions and operations.

f. Theater Missile Defense(TMD).

(1) TMD is a joint mission with four primary pillars: active defense; passive defense; attack operations; and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I). The aviation brigade's primary contribution comes in the area of attack operations. The aviation brigade can execute this mission using either of two methods, depending on the conditions with which it is confronted. If the enemy's precise location is known, the mission can be planned and executed like a standard deliberate attack. The more likely method is search and attack. This method is used when the targets are moving or only an approximate location is known. The aviation brigade uses its available intelligence and the speed of movement of the TMD to establish a search area. When available, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can precede the unit into the area to aid in the search. Ingress and egress to and from the search area are executed like any other deep mission; however, the technique used for the search of the area itself is based on METT-T. The airspace requirements for this mission are extensive until complete situational awareness is available to all joint players. The risks also are very high compared to the assets executing the mission; however, only the aviation brigade can find and kill these targets without a precise location provided by another sensor. A possible extension of both methods-mentioned in FM 100-12-is a divert mission at the discretion of the appropriate commander. This means that an attack unit would have some or all of it's assets diverted to attack a TMD target during the conduct of another mission. This mission is high risk one even when attempted with the presence of the following imperatives:

(a) Notification and planning. Notification comes in the form of a "be prepared" or "on order" mission to the commander from his higher headquarters to execute TMD operations. This notice allows the unit to develop routes, supporting SEAD packages, and control measures to execute the mission.

(b) Communications. A clear over-the-horizon communications link between the aviation brigade/battalion and the air mission commander of the attack helicopter force conducting the deep attack is required. Through this communications link, the mission change order is given and all pertinent supporting information passes. Digital connectivity between the aviation unit to both the intelligence and FS structures also is required. These links give the executing unit the truth about the enemy's ground situation at the new objective area as well as during the ingress and egress phases. They also help protect the executing aviation unit from fratricide without taking those critical long-range shooters out of the fight.

(c) Training. For TMD training to take place, the unit must haveTMD included in the unit mission essential task list (METL), which allocates time and resources for training in TMD.

(2) FM 100-1 contains a more detailed discussion of general TMD operations. Specific tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for TMD attack helicopter operations can be found in FM 1-112. JP 3-01.5 describes joint TMD.

g. Support by Fire. In the support by fire role, the aviation brigade directs attack helicopters into an overwatch position to establish a base of fire. This action allows other maneuver assets to move to, or around, the target area or engaged enemy force. The intent of this action can range from suppression to destruction of the enemy force, but the primary mission is to fix the enemy force so another friendly force can maneuver.


Aviation combat support is the operational assistance that aviation assets provide to combat elements. During CS operations, aviation brigades enhance command, control, communications, and intelligence ( C3I); and conduct air movement, aerial mine warfare, combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations; electronic warfare (EW); and air traffic services (ATS). In the CS role, the aviation brigade also performs close air support (CAS). These operations are addressed below.

a. C3I Enhancement. Maintaining C3 is critical to any operation. The continuous flow of intelligence also is vital. Operating at long ranges and against enemy EW hinders C3I.

(1) Aviation brigades can quickly provide reconnaissance, surveillance, and security of friendly lines of communication. These lines also include future locations. Brigade assets also may have to maintain surveillance of the area or provide security while an area is being established. Brigade assets may deliver messages and documents that cannot be electronically transmitted in a nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) or a jamming environment. Brigade elements have this mission most often when radio listening silence is imposed or equipment has become inoperable. Messages may include combat plans and orders, written coordination and control measures, and graphics. Documents delivered are critical reports essential for sustaining combat operations. These lines include-

  • Roads.
  • Air and ground supply routes.
  • Relay and retransmission sites.
  • Critical signal nodes.
  • Microwave facilities.
  • Telephone wire structures and systems.
  • Air and sea points of debarkation.
  • Supply and maintenance centers

(2) Brigade elements may provide communications enhancement through airborne retransmission or transport retransmission/relay equipment. They also may expedite movement of one or more command posts (CPs). Brigade assets permit commanders to see their AO easily. Thus, commanders can better control their units. Other brigade tasks may include liaison between units required to transmit intelligence and to verify the unit situation and location. Other intelligence functions include target acquisition, reconnaissance, and employment of intelligence-gathering systems. All heliborne platforms can contribute to these type operations.

b. Air Movement. In air movement operations, aviation brigade assets sustain air and ground maneuver units during close, deep, and rear operations. Air movement operations deliver troops, supplies, and equipment while remaining clear of enemy engagements. Assault and medium helicopter units are employed with their aircraft in both internal and external load configurations. Aviation brigade units emplace and reposition critical combat units, equipment, and supplies for current and/or future maneuver operations.

c. Aerial Mine Warfare. Aviation brigades conduct aerial mine warfare as a large-scale operation. This operation is part of the overall engineer plan. The entire brigade may be employed with attack or reconnaissance units to secure the operation. At the same time, utility helicopter assets rapidly deliver mines, aerially, to a designated area as prescribed in the plan. The Volcano system gives the aviation brigade the capability to emplace large minefields rapidly. This operation may be conducted in the countermobility role to inhibit the enemy's movement either in an offensive operation or a retrograde operation to prevent the enemy from withdrawing. This operation promotes friendly offensive operations, particularly while friendly elements are in pursuit. Aerial mine warfare also may assist in friendly mobility operations. Emplacing mines into blocking positions inhibits the threat from hindering friendly movement. FM 1-113 contains detailed information on employment of Volcano minefields.

d. Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). Aviation units normally conduct CSAR operations to recover friendly isolated personnel. These operations may include locating and extracting friendly ground elements that have been cut off or left behind. This mission is not to be confused with medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). Appendix D discusses in CSAR operations in detail.

e. Air Traffic Services. ATS units support A2C2 systems as a subordinate element of A2C2. ATS liaison personnel-along with other staff representatives-are located within the division, corps, and theater A2C2 elements. They provide functional area (technical) expertise in the operation of the A2C2 system. ATS integration elements at the division and corps airspace information centers (AICs) use organic communications and navigational systems to update air operations information. The information pertains to friendly, unknown, and hostile aircraft and the overall A2C2 situation. ATS elements may provide the main communications link to support Army aviation and ground maneuver unit requirements; for example, to establish and control forward arming and refueling points (FARPs), PZs and LZs-and temporary airdrop or air-land areas-and for joint or multinational forces. ATS units provide a range of tactical support during deep, close, and rear operations. This support may include various services required by Army, service component, and allied aircraft. Some of these services are-

  • Airspace deconfliction during current operations.
  • Navigational assistance.
  • Flight following.
  • Air threat warnings.
  • Weather information.
  • Artillery advisories.
  • En route navigational structures.
  • Landing area terminal control.

f. Intelligence and Electronic Warfare. In the IEW role, aviation brigade cavalry and reconnaissance units gather intelligence and perform counterintelligence and counter-counterintelligence. They perform these missions by seeing the enemy and destroying his assets that can see our forces. These assets monitor and report enemy activity. The division aviation brigade's organic EH-60 Black Hawk aircraft also provide some IEW capabilities through communications interception, jamming, and direction finding.


Aviation CSS is the assistance that sustains combat forces using aviation assets. During CSS operations, aviation brigades conduct aviation maintenance and aerial transport operations. They primarily emplace and reposition logistical support: equipment, materiel, and supplies. These operations also may include the movement of personnel.

a. Sustainment. Sustainment is the movement of equipment, materiel, supplies, and personnel by utility/cargo and fixed-wing assets for operations other than air assault and combat support. Missions include intratheater airlift; administrative relocation of troops and nonmilitary personnel; and administrative relocation of equipment, materiel ,and supplies. Aviation maintenance and logistics operations are critical to sustaining all aviation forces. Inherent are the functions required for the CSS of aviation brigade units as well as other maneuver, CS, and CSS forces.

b. Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC). Aviation units-such as assault or medium helicopter forces-may have to augment the aeromedical capability during mass casualty situations or when the tactical situation dictates. During these situations, commanders must weigh the risk of transporting casualties by nonmedical resources that cannot provide en route medical care. Often a casualty may have a better chance of survival if left in the care of ground medical personnel until medical transportation assets arrive. Aeromedical evacuation units assigned to the MEDEVAC battalion have the primary mission for medical evacuation. They are employed well forward in the combat zone (CZ) in direct support of a division AO. Personnel may be evacuated from as far forward as the tactical situation permits, normally the maneuver supplies. Aviation maintenance /logistics operations are critical to sustaining all aviation forces.


SECTION VI. Battlespace



a. FM 100-5 states that battlespace is a physical volume that expands or contracts in relation to the ability to acquire and engage the enemy. At the brigade level, it is determined by the range of direct fire systems and the terrain on which these systems are applied. Battlespace includes the breadth, depth, and height in which the commander positions and moves assets over time. Battlespace is not assigned by a higher commander and extends beyond the commander's current AO. Battlespace includes the combat power of all friendly forces that can be brought to bear against the enemy, including joint and combined forces.

b. An aviation brigade commander's battlespace is dictated by the organization's ability to acquire and engage the enemy with direct fire systems. It is not limited by division or even corps boundaries or graphics. Therefore-because attack aviation assets provide the force the greatest extension of direct fire capability-both the corps and division aviation brigade commander's battlespace is at least equal to the corps commander's battlespace. As a result of the aviation brigades ability-at both corps and division levels-to acquire and engage the enemy throughout a given AO, both corps and division aviation brigade commanders must be prepared to fight the corps deep battle as well as the division's close battle. For example, combat operations may require all attack battalions within the corps to conduct deep strikes against threat ground forces hours or even days before those threat forces enter into close combat operations with friendly ground forces. As the ground battle compresses in both time and space, all attack battalions within the corps may be required to focus on the division's close fight.

c. Within a given battlespace, aviation brigade commanders must understand the effects of geography and terrain; they must appropriately apply the use of organic capabilities and be prepared to integrate available joint and multinational assets in actual or potential operations.

d. The aviation brigade commander's potential battlespace extends out to the range of the attack helicopter assets; therefore, the aviation brigade staff should identify and plot all potential engagement areas (EAs) within that range. In addition, ATKHB primary and alternate BPs should be designated around the EAs, with proposed air corridors extending from the forward line of own troops (FLOT) to the various BPs. This identification and plotting process allows for a smoother and more expeditious transition into contingency operations. This is true especially if the ATKHB(s) are currently employed when the contingency operation develops.

e. Unity of effort is essential to operations within a given battlespace. Ownership of assets is less important than application of their effects toward an intended purpose. In that way, battlespace can overlap, shared by other commanders who perceive ways to employ their respective assets to mutual advantage.


a. The aviation brigade 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 AO. There is an inextricable linkage between maneuver and fires. The aviation brigade maneuvers while leveraging organic firepower to shape the battlespace or conduct decisive operations as directed by the aviation brigade commander.

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

c. Synchronizing aviation maneuver with ground maneuver allows the friendly force commander to shape the battlespace to set the conditions for the close fight and achieve a potential advantage in time and space by altering the enemy's tempo. Linked with deep fires, the aviation brigade's maneuver offers the ground commander the capability to influence events simultaneously through the AO.


SECTION VII. Simultaneous Attack In Depth



a. FM 100-5 takes the concept of warfighting beyond fighting battles sequentially. It discusses conducting operations throughout the enemy's depth to gain synergistic effects over an adversary. Simultaneous attack in depth means being able to attack and defeat the enemy anywhere between friendly rear and enemy rear boundaries, and to conduct these operations simultaneously. Simultaneous attacks-throughout the depth of the battlefield-place critical enemy functions at risk at the same time. They deny the enemy the ability to synchronize or generate combat power. They also deny the enemy the cohesion required to execute his plan. They induce friction into his scheme of maneuver and degrade his will to fight.

b. Fighting in depth expands the battlefield in time, space, resources, and purpose. Simultaneous attack is the application of combat power throughout the depth of enemy forces and functions in such a way as to cause destruction, confusion, and demoralization. This method provides the commander the focus necessary to strike decisively and denies the enemy options for conducting military operations. Thus, it allows the commander to completely dominate the tempo of the battlefield.

c. Through the joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS), aviation brigades have access to battlefield technology that integrates and synchronizes tactical and joint systems. This technology gives them the ability to detect, track, and strike targets in depth. Combining enhanced acquisition, longer range delivery, and precision strike gives the commander the ability to mass devastating effects simultaneously with an economy of means.

d. Synchronization of deep, close, and rear operations is a complex undertaking. It requires a clear understanding of the commander's intent within the organization, stimulating both command and staff initiative. Effective operations, in depth, require dynamic, anticipatory responses to synchronize a variety of assets. The ultimate success in synchronizing deep, close, and rear operations determines the outcome of battles, major operations, and campaigns.


Aviation commanders must expect to conduct close, deep, and rear operations simultaneously. For this reason, these operations consist of special and continuous synchronization requirements. For commanders at all levels, synchronization of close, deep, and rear operations requires deliberate planning and staff coordination. Commanders must understand the relationship among these three arenas and their combined impact on the course of the battle. During such operations, aviation brigades conduct combat, CS, and CSS. As a member of the combined arms team, aviation brigades are key participants integrated into the offensive or defensive plan for close, deep, and rear operations. Aviation brigades can serve as a security force as well as a tactical reserve. The following sections focus on activities and functions of such operations.


a. Close operations involve actions taken against enemy forces in contact with friendly ground forces. Close operations may be conducted simultaneously with deep and/or rear operations. Close operations at any echelon comprise the current activities of major committed ground combat elements together with their immediate CS and CSS. At the tactical level, close operations comprise the efforts of smaller tactical units-such as aviation brigades-to win current engagements. Close operations bear the ultimate burden of success or failure in combat. The success of deep and rear operations is measured by their eventual contribution to close operations. Close, deep, and rear operations are interdependent.

b. Integral activities during close operations include attack, assault, CAS, indirect FS (including counterfire), CS, and CSS of committed forces. During close operations, aviation brigades may be employed as a security or reserve force in the security or main battle area. Aviation forces are integrated and synchronized into the commander's scheme of maneuver.

c. Aviation brigades at all echelons conduct close operations. The planning and execution of close operations are discussed in detail later in this chapter.


a. Deep operations may be conducted simultaneously with close and/or rear operations. Deep operations comprise activities directed against enemy forces not in contact with friendly ground forces. The objective of deep operations is to delay, disrupt, or destroy enemy forces, facilities, and high-payoff systems. These activities are designed to influence the conditions in which current/future close operations are occurring or will occur. At the tactical level, deep operations shape the battlefield to obtain advantages in subsequent engagements. Successful deep operations create the conditions for future victory. The principal targets of deep operations are the freedom of action of the opposing commander and the coherence and tempo of his operations.

b. During deep operations, aviation brigades may conduct attack, assault, surveillance and target acquisition, deception operations, C3CM, and C3. Aviation brigades also may provide security for a larger force.

c. Aviation brigades at all echelons can conduct deep operations. The planning and execution of deep operations are discussed in detail later in this chapter as well as in Appendix G.


Rear operations may be conducted simultaneously with close and/or deep operations. Rear operations at any echelon comprise activities rearward of elements conducting close operations. These activities are designed to ensure freedom of maneuver and continuity of operations, including sustainment and C3. FM 71-100, FM 100-15, and FM 100-16 describe rear operations at the respective echelons. Rear operations are critical to ongoing and subsequent close and deep operations. Aviation brigades play a key role in accomplishing the following four tasks or functions of rear area operations: Close, deep, and rear operations (CS and CSS) sustainment; movements control (nontactical); terrain management; and security.

a. Close, Deep, and Rear Operations Sustainment. Aviation CS and CSS assets sustain other maneuver, CS, and CSS units in the rear area in support of current and future close, deep, and rear operations. They support the tempo of combat, ensuring the ability to take advantage of all opportunities without delay.

b. Movements Control. Aviation units may assist in movements control by providing C2 aircraft to monitor or facilitate movements in the rear area. They also may assist through surveillance and protection of main supply routes (MSRs).

c. Terrain Management. Aviation forces take part in terrain management. They provide C2 aircraft for rear C2 assets to move rapidly in the rear areas to expedite terrain management operations. They also manage their assigned sectors, AAs, or support areas.

d. Security. Aviation brigades and subordinate units play a key role in rear area security. Attack, cavalry, or air reconnaissance units assist in the rear IPB. They can reconnoiter likely LZs, drop zones ( DZs), and avenues of approach that may be used by the enemy. They may also detect and delay or defeat rear area levels of threat as described in Table 3-1 below. Aviation brigades or subordinate elements are employed mainly as a tactical combat force to counter level III incursions. They may delay or destroy enemy forces en route or after they have arrived in the rear area. As a tactical combat force (TCF), aviation assets are employed best with other maneuver forces to counter rear threats; however, they may be employed independently.

e. Planning and Execution. Aviation brigades at all echelons conduct rear area operations. The planning and execution of rear operations are discussed in detail later in this chapter.


Table 3-1. Levels of threat

Level I
Those enemy forces that base or base cluster defenses are capable of defeating.

Level II
Those enemy forces that base or base cluster defenses are not capable of defeating. Response forces, such as MPs, are required to counter Level II threats.

Level III
Those enemy forces that have entered the rear area and must be countered by tactical combat forces, such as infantry, armor, and aviation.


SECTION VIII. Planning And Executing Close, Deep, and Rear Operations



a. The battlefield framework helps commanders relate their forces to one another-and to the enemy-in time, space, resources, and purpose. The battlefield framework establishes an area of geographical and operational responsibility for the aviation brigade commander. It provides a way to visualize how forces will be employed against the enemy.

b. At echelons above the aviation brigade level, the battlefield framework is agreed upon and coordinated. This framework results in a graphic depiction of the boundaries separating corps, divisions, maneuver brigades within the divisions, battle handover lines (BHLs) , and the separate corps and division deep operations areas of responsibility. From these graphics, the aviation brigade commander is able to determine on which geographical areas the close, deep, and rear operations planning processes will focus. These boundaries are provided to the aviation brigade staff by the next higher echelon. The aviation brigade staff, in turn, provides them to all subordinate battalion staffs.

c. Once the various force boundaries have been established and provided to the aviation brigade, the aviation brigade commander can begin the planning process. However-because of battlefield fluidity echelons above corps (EAC), corps and division aviation brigades can be employed anywhere in the corps sector-the boundaries designating specific operational areas of responsibility may change at any time. Therefore, aviation brigade commanders at all echelons must be ready to shift focus should the situation require.


a. The close, deep and rear operations targeting process is initiated at echelons above the aviation brigade level. This process incorporates the decide, detect, deliver, and assess (D3A) methodology defined below.

(1) Decide. The decision phase determines where the enemy will be attacked, what specific enemy systems will be attacked, the priority of those enemy systems designated to be attacked, when these enemy systems will be attacked, and what friendly attack systems will be employed during the engagements. This phase provides the focus and priorities for collection management and fire planning. This phase is a result of the intelligence estimate, the commander's mission analysis, current and future friendly force operations, and probabilities of enemy courses of action. As a result of this process, the brigade commander receives specific guidance regarding targeting information. Included in this guidance will be a developed targeting list.

(2) Detect. The detection phase begins with the aviation brigade staff tasking, and/or requesting, the support of intelligence gathering assets (sensors) to support the operation. The tasking/request for tasking of intelligence gathering assets should be accomplished immediately after the decision phase is complete. This tasking incorporates the sensors into the operations planning process early on; it increases the probability that the right sensors are focused on the right areas, at the right time. Once the designated targets have been observed and identified, continuous tracking by the sensors must be conducted. Observation, identification, and tracking information must be transmitted from the sensors to the various echeloned staff elements throughout the duration of the operation. Available battle command systems will determine which staffs receive information directly from the sensors and which staffs receive information transmitted down from their next higher. If onboard aircraft systems allow, pertinent information and intelligence also should be transmitted directly to the aircraft; this continues until the operation is complete. The aviation brigade commander must ensure that all pertinent information/intelligence relative to the operation is provided-and updated as necessary -to the aviation brigade staff and executing units. Last, the aviation brigade commander must ensure that the detection process continues until mission completion.

(3) Deliver. The delivery phase is the execution of fires on targets. This phase is initiated by a trigger event or projected target activity. At this point, the aviation brigade launches organic and aviation assets under OPCON of the designated area of responsibility, conducts the operation, and returns to the AA. This phase may require several turnarounds in which aviation assets expend their ordnance or conduct air assaults, return to conduct FARP operations, then continue with the operation before returning to the AA for mission completion.

(4) Assess. Target assessment is the status of targets after the targets have been serviced, and should be conducted as soon as possible. Attack helicopter units should make every attempt to determine the status of their targets immediately after an attack and report their battle damage assessments (BDAs) up through the chain of command. Intelligence personnel should be present at the crew debriefing to extract critical data and follow-up initial BDAs. Gun camera tapes should be provided to higher whenever possible.


Based on mission analysis, the aviation brigade commander task-organizes assets under his command, which may require-

  • Allocation/integration of C2 aircraft from one subordinate battalion to another.
  • Complementary employment of both assault and attack assets.
  • Aircraft support for FARP operations.
  • EW support aircraft.
  • Utility/cargo helicopter support.
  • An aviation CSAR task force (TF).


a. Command and Control.

(1) The aviation brigade command process normally does not change between close, deep, and rear operations. Division aviation brigade assets may be under OPCON to a corps aviation brigade for the duration of an operation or corps aviation assets may fall under the command of a division aviation brigade commander. It is possible that aviation units will be under OPCON to a rear area commander-ground or aviation-for rear area operations. These possibilities further emphasize the fact that aviation brigade commanders and their units must be able to fight anywhere and anytime on the battlefield. Normally, the location where the operation will be conducted (corps or division operations area of responsibility) will dictate which aviation brigade commander commands the operation.

(2) In an operation where aviation assets are under the OPCON of another aviation brigade, the relinquishing/gaining commanders will ensure that the OPCON unit is integrated-tactically and logistically-into the planning process as soon as possible. A liaison officer (LNO) from the relinquishing unit should be dispatched to the gaining command upon notification of the planned OPCON status. As soon as possible thereafter, the commander of the unit to be placed under OPCON should conduct personal coordination with the gaining aviation brigade commander.

(3) Aviation brigade operations require the concentrated efforts of the entire brigade staff to coordinate and synchronize. These extensive coordination and synchronization requirements involve numerous staff functions beyond the scope of a single aviation brigade staff. Specifically, the aviation brigade staff coordinates and synchronizes with other corps/division level assets, corps/division level staffs, subordinate maneuver units, adjacent units, supporting EAC units, and supporting service assets.

b. Command Communications Systems. Tactical information flow varies, depending on the individual unit's battle command systems capabilities. For over-the-horizon communications, some units may require fixed-wing relay while others are equipped with high frequency nap-of-the-earth (HF NOE) communications, while still other units may use satellite communications (SATCOM). As individual unit-ground and aviation-and joint communications systems are upgraded, information flow directly between sensors and shooters may prove to be more tactically advantageous to the aviation brigade and subordinate battalion commanders (i.e., reduced relay time).


a. Planning is initiated with an operations plan/operations order (OPLAN/OPORD) passed down from a higher echelon to the aviation brigade. Paragraphs 3-27 and 3-28 discuss planning and execution actions generic to close and deep missions. Refer to Appendix G for a detailed checklist of deep operations planning and execution tasks.

(1) For close operations, key OPLAN/OPORD information should include the commander's intent, scheme of maneuver, main effort, priority of fires, and support graphics such as the engineer overlay, fire control measures, and maneuver graphics. The OPLAN/OPORD also dictates if aviation brigade units are to be placed under the OPCON of a ground maneuver brigade (and, if so, which brigade[s]) or operate under the C2 of the aviation brigade commander.

(2) For deep operations, the OPLAN/OPORD should state the commander's intent, scheme of maneuver, and identify the aviation brigade as having priority of effort. Therefore, a direct support FA unit also should be designated to support the aviation brigade's deep operation.

(3) Despite the type operation, the OPLAN/OPORD identifies which engagement areas/air assault objectives will be the focus of the operation. If the operation is an attack, the OPLAN/OPORD should specify the destruction criteria-i.e., the minimum percentage of threat equipment to be destroyed-to achieve mission success.

b. The OPLAN/OPORD sets in motion these aviation brigade staff close and deep planning actions. (These actions assume that the aviation brigade commander retains C2 over the brigade's assets during the operation.)

(1) ACTION: The aviation brigade commander establishes liaison-if not already established-with the ground maneuver brigade commander(s) over whose ground space aviation assets will operate. If possible, initial coordination should be conducted face-to-face between the aviation brigade commander and the ground brigade commander (s).

(2) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff must seek and maintain situational awareness. Intelligence updates are the hinge upon which close, deep, and rear operations are planned and executed. The brigade staff must aggressively seek continuous, accurate intelligence and disseminated it to the subordinate battalions as quickly as possible. Simply waiting for the next higher to transmit intelligence data fails to maintain focus on the brigade commander's intelligence requirements. The enemy's location and capabilities on the battlefield significantly influence friendly mission planning and execution. Battle command systems are established that allow the brigade staff to request/receive intelligence updates directly from the next higher's G2.

(3) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff must ensure that the aviation brigade commander is aware of all available airspace that can be used during any given brigade operation. Airspace that is restricted from use or dedicated to other airspace users is indicated in the airspace control order (ACO). While the ACO contains all preplanned airspace control measures, it does not describe the most current air picture because of post-publishing changes and immediate airspace requests. Therefore, the brigade A2C2 element must continuously request airspace updates/changes from the next higher's A2C2 element. If airspace conflicts develop, the brigade A2C2 element must alert the next higher's A2C2 element immediately so the deconfliction process can begin.

(4) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff determines the size of the maneuver force required to successfully complete the mission.

(a) For attack operations, the brigade staff develops a gun-to-gun lay matrix. This matrix compares the relative combat power of an ATKHB against a given threat. In the example, the tank regiment has about 150 combat vehicles. Assuming an operational readiness rate of 90 percent, the tank regiment has 135 operational combat vehicles. If a 70-percent destruction criteria has been set by a higher echelon, then one ATKHB carrying 155 HELLFIRE missiles is a sufficient force to accomplish the mission (assuming a 70-percent probability of HELLFIRE missile hits).

(b) For air assault operations, the brigade staff coordinates with the supported ground unit to determine how many ground forces are required within a certain timetable in the LZs. This information determines how many aircraft are required at any given time during the operation. The brigade staff determines the number of UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft required-based on 12 combat troops per airframe (seats installed) and 15 combat troops per airframe (seats out/kevlar blanket installed). The brigade staff determines the number of CH-47 Chinook aircraft required-based on 33 combat troops per airframe (seats installed) and 60 combat troops per airframe (seats out). Units SOPs vary; therefore, an aviation LNO from the supporting brigade must verify these figures before any detailed planning takes place. The brigade staff coordinates attack helicopter air assault security, as required. The number of attack helicopters tasked to support the air assault varies depending on the threat situation.

(5) ACTION: The brigade staff determines the size/task organization of the force required to execute the mission. Then the staff prepares and provides all subordinate units taking part in the operation with a warning order (WO). Next, the brigade staff starts to develop the OPORD/fragmentary order(s) (FRAGOs), as appropriate. The OPORDs/FRAGOs incorporate the next higher echelon's decide, detect, and deliver methodology into a brigade focus. All aviation brigade internal assets tasked to support the primary aviation unit executing the operation are under OPCON of the primary aviation unit upon receipt of the WO.

(6) ACTION: When conducting attack operations, the brigade staff determines the most tactically advantageous ATKHB BPs. When conducting air assault operations, the air assault task force commander (AATFC) and staff-in coordination with the aviation brigade staff-determine the most tactically advantageous landing zone areas (LZAs) for the AHBs. The brigade staff selects these BPs and LZAs. Then it provides overlays to the appropriate subordinate battalion staffs for further refinement and coordination. The brigade staff constructs ATKBN BPs based on-

(a) Cover and concealment. Depending on the threat acquisition systems, the geographical location of the BP may be the single most important factor in BP construction. Cover is protection from enemy direct fire. Concealment is protection from enemy visual or electronic observation. The BP should provide cover and concealment for aircraft not firing, and concealment for aircraft that are firing.

(b) Width. In close attack operations, there is a high probability that the subordinate attack battalion(s) are able to conduct reconnaissance of their intended BPs before the actual operation. In addition, attack units-operating in a close environment-stand a much higher risk of fratricide because of the proximity of friendly ground units. Therefore, the brigade staff should ensure that the width of the BP provides the executing aviation unit commander the freedom to maneuver in the vicinity of the EA, while remaining out of range of friendly armor and/or small arms weapon systems. Finally, the width of the BP should allow the attack commanders to engage the enemy as far rearward as the BHL. In deep attack operations, there is a high probability that the selected BPs will not have been reconnoitered before the arrival of the executing unit. In addition, the enemy may not be exactly where pre-aircraft launch intelligence estimates indicated they would be. Therefore, the brigade staff should construct BPs with as much width as the tactical situation will allow. This provides the executing unit commander as much flexibility as possible once in the vicinity of the EA.

(c) Depth. The BP depth should extend from the edge of EA to an established rear boundary. The distance from the closest edge of the EA to the rear boundary of the BP should be the same distance as the optimum range of the primary heliborne weapon system to be used. For example, if an AH-64 battalion is used in the attack, the depth of the B should be 9 kilometers (kms) from the edge of the EA to the rear boundary of the BP. (Once inside the BP, the attack commanders will decide the most tactically advantageous firing positions.)

(d) Altitude. The altitude of the BP should be the same or higher than the EA. A position above the EA allows the attack/reconnaissance aircraft a better field of view and the advantage in the engagement.

(7) ACTION. The brigade staff coordinates with the supported ground unit when determining the location(s) of the deep operation LZAs. The LZA is a grouping or cluster of one or more LZs to be used in the deep operation. Each LZA has an on-call restricted operations zone (ROZ) constructed around it. The brigade staff constructs assault helicopter battalion (AHB) LZs based on the following:

(a) Proximity to the objective. LZ locations are objective based-i.e., oriented on the objective- while incorporating all the factors of METT-T.

(b) Terrain conditions. Terrain-specifically slope and ground conditions-dictates whether or not helicopters will be able to land in a potential LZ. Visual reconnaissance of the potential LZ may be difficult or impossible because of the tactical situation. Therefore, a careful map study of the LZ is necessary to determine suitability for landing.

(c) Obstacles. The terrain in and around the LZ should be analyzed to determine its effect on air traffic patterns. The approach and departure paths should be free of obstacles.

(8) ACTION: The brigade A2C2 cell requests an on-call ROZ encompassing the EA(s), BPs, and/or LZAs. The ROZ provides the executing aviation unit commander freedom of movement (within certain constraints), control of fires, and fratricide prevention while operating in the ROZ. The purpose of the "on-call" status of the ROZ is to alert the next higher's A2C2 cell that the ROZ will be activated only during mission execution and the activation time is pending. The on-call ROZ request is submitted and coordinated through the next higher's A2C2 cell to the battlefield coordination element that coordinates airspace requirements with the theater/joint force airspace control authority at the air operations center (AOC). ROZs-like most airspace control measures-must be approved by the airspace control authority (ACA). There is a time lag between the time of the request and ultimate approval by the ACA. The A2C2 cell needs to be proactive to submit these requests with enough time to clear the airspace and get approval.

(a) ROZ dimensions. The request for an on-call ROZ will include the ROZ dimensions. If an AHB is the primary aviation unit conducting the operation, the ROZ dimensions should include the EA plus a 9-km buffer zone-based on the AH-64's maximum standoff range-around the attack battalion's BPs. If an AHB is the primary aviation unit conducting the operation, the preference will be to request one ROZ that encompasses each LZA.

(b) ROZ activation time. The request for the on-call ROZ will include a ROZ activation time. The ROZ activation time is the expected window of time during which executing aviation units will operate in the ROZ. The ROZ activation time is based on the executing aviation unit's departure from the AA or forward AA en route to the BP or LZ. The aviation brigade staff continuously updates the next higher's A2C2 cell on the expected ROZ activation time.

(c) ROZ deactivation time. The request for the on-call ROZ will include an estimated ROZ deactivation time. The ROZ deactivation time is that time when the executing aviation units will no longer conduct operations in the ROZ. This time is based on the expected time of the last aircraft returning cross-FLOT into friendly territory, i.e., mission completion.

(9) ACTION: The brigade staff selects the Standard Army Aircraft Flight Routes (SAAFRs) and constructs the on-call air corridors to be flown during the operation. SAAFRs are a network of established aircraft routes facilitating the movement of army rotary-wing aircraft. They usually extend from the corps rear area to the rear areas of the ground maneuver brigades. Aviation units conducting operations will transit along the SAAFRs until the route turns into an air corridor. Air corridors are the flight routes army aircraft use after crossing the FLOT; they are temporary in nature. Once the SAAFRs have been selected and the air corridors have been constructed, the brigade staff provides them to the subordinate battalion(s) executing the operation for coordination. After coordination has been conducted with the executing battalion(s), the brigade staff submits the SAAFR and on-call air corridor plan (including expected usage times) to the next higher echelon A2C2 cell for approval and coordination. The purpose of the "on-call" status of the air corridors is to alert the next higher's A2C2 cell that the air corridors will be activated only during mission execution and the activation time is pending. The brigade staff ensures that all airspace is deconflicted before mission execution. Although SAAFRs do not require ACA approval, it is still critical that the locations of these routes are known and plotted by the ACA and all units they might affect. The weapons control status for AD weapon systems under a SAAFR should be tight to prevent fratricide. In most theaters, the ACA designates that status.

(a) Standard Army Aircraft Flight Routes (SAAFRs). The brigade staff selects SAAFRs based on-

  • Entry/Exit procedures. Aviation units will be located at fixed bases or AAs. These locations will have established entry/exit procedures before the conduct of any aviation operations. SAAFR selection must consider these entry/exit established procedures.

  • Terrain. SAAFR selection should exploit the concealment provided by the geographical environment. High terrain that can be scanned by threat electronic capabilities should be avoided. Aircraft cresting the high ground can provide the threat with radar signatures even at extended distances.

  • Fire support systems. Although SAAFRs are constructed to avoid ground-based FS systems, artillery units may displace frequently. These artillery location shifts should be monitored by staff elements above the aviation brigade level; the brigade staff should be alerted when such an event takes place. In the event artillery units do displace to positions within the dimensions of a SAAFR-and the SAAFR is considered to be the best tactical route to the FLOT-then the aviation brigade staff must ensure that all artillery tubes, rocket launchers, and missile systems are shut down during the operation. This deconfliction process is coordinated through the next higher's A2C2 cell.

  • Minimum risk routes (MRRs). An MRR is an air route used by high-speed, fixed-wing aircraft to transit from rear locations to regions across the FLOT. SAAFR selection should avoid active MRRs, although the tactical situation dictates whether or not this can be accomplished. Avoidance of active MRRs reduces planning factors and execution considerations.

  • Special operations activities. Army and Air Force SOF will use the same SAAFR network as Army aviation aircraft. SAAFR selection must consider other forces conducting operations using the same SAAFR airspace.

(b) Air corridors. The brigade staff construct/select air corridors based on-

  • Dimensions. Air corridors should be 1-km wide and for one-way traffic only. Air corridors will extend from the surface up to the coordinating altitude. The ACO stipulates the coordinating altitude.

  • Enemy ADA. Enemy ADA is the single most important factor in the selection of an air corridor. Enemy acquisition and weapons engagement ranges must be plotted to ensure that the executing aviation unit has the greatest possible chance for mission success. The effects of terrain on threat acquisition and weapons engagement ranges must be considered when constructing air corridors. The result should be air corridors that provide the executing aviation unit commander with the flight path of least resistance.

  • Enemy ground order of battle (GOB). Enemy ground units (other than ADA) can present as much of an AD threat as primary AD weapon systems. Air corridor construction should be planned through the areas that intelligence channels indicate as having the least amount of ground units.

  • BP/LZA entry and exit points. The release point (RP) of the air corridor should facilitate a tactical ingress into the battalion's BP/LZ. Reciprocally, the start point (SP) of the return air corridor should facilitate a tactical egress from the battalion's BP/LZ. The enemy situation dictates the location of both the ingressing RP and egressing SP.

(10) ACTION: The brigade staff plans for localized JSEAD even if aircraft penetration into hostile territory is to be conducted under stealth conditions. If a subordinate battalion within the aviation brigade has been OPCONed to a ground maneuver unit-e.g., an air assault battalion under OPCON of a ground air assault task force [AATF]-then the gaining command is responsible for planning and executing JSEAD operations. The supporting aviation unit provides assistance. However, when the aviation brigade is tasked to conduct brigade-level assault and/or attack operations, the aviation brigade staff plans and executes JSEAD operations. The aviation brigade staff plans JSEAD as follows:

(a) The brigade staff continues to monitor and update the threat situation along the on-call air corridors and ROZ(s). This process continues until mission completion. All intelligence updates are passed to the subordinate battalions as quickly as possible.

(b) The brigade staff requests on-call suppression of all current and potential threat acquisition and engagement systems along the air corridors and in the ROZ(s). Fires will be planned for the entire time aviation elements are across the FLOT. If the JSEAD fires are to be executed by the brigade staff-i.e., timed JSEAD-the duration of the suppressive fires vary depending on the threat situation; however, but the last round should impact 2 minutes before friendly aircraft transition the area. Therefore, SEAD fires for any given area should equal aircraft transition time minus 2 minutes. If the SEAD fires are to be executed by the executing aviation unit, then the executing aviation unit commander will initiate the SEAD fires.

(c) The brigade Air Force/Air and naval gunfire liaison company (ANGLICO) representative(s) request on-call suppression of all current and potential threat acquisition and engagement systems along the air corridors and in the ROZ(s) that cannot be suppressed by Army indirect FS systems. In addition, all service component laser identification codes are retrieved from the ACO (or appropriate source) and provided to the executing ATKHB.

(11) ACTION: The brigade staff coordinates the air movement of Army air transportable artillery systems that must be repositioned by air to support the SEAD operation. If brigade external air movement assets are required for this operation -i.e., additional utility/cargo helicopter support- requests are submitted through the next higher's G3. Additional utility/cargo assets tasked to support another aviation brigade are under OPCON of the gaining command for the duration of the air movement operation. This may include artillery system repositioning after the operation is complete.

(12) ACTION: The brigade staff plans for EW aircraft support. This includes all Army and joint EW aircraft that can be tasked for the operation. This support will be on-call. The brigade staff confirms that tasked joint assets are specifically designated for the operation in the ACO. The brigade staff plans for/request airspace ROZ(s), as necessary, for the brigade internal EW assets. The tactical situation is considered when planning the location of EW aircraft orbits ROZ(s).

(13) ACTION: The brigade staff plans for/request communications support aircraft (e.g., Improved Guard Rail V) as required to maintain/supplement over-the-horizon communications. Communications support also may be provided by joint assets-e.g., Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). Army (aviation brigade external) and Navy communications support aircraft assets are requested through the next higher's G3. The brigade Air Force LNO requests Air Force aircraft communications support through Air Force channels. Liaison personnel ensure that the aviation brigade staff is provided with the proper frequencies for any given operation.

(14) ACTION: The brigade staff integrates FARP operations into the operation. Aircraft supporting FARP operations must be given the same advance notice as other executing units in the operations WO. If subordinate units require a FARP to be positioned on terrain not controlled by the aviation brigade, then the aviation brigade staff must request nonaviation brigade terrain usage through the next higher's G3. After receiving approval for terrain occupation, aviation brigade liaison personnel should conduct face-to-face coordination with the unit owning the terrain.

(15) ACTION: The brigade staff ensures that all communications procedures have been coordinated with the appropriate subordinate unit commanders and staffs. Although the brigade staff plans for JSEAD fires and EW support, the executing aviation unit commander probably will give the order to shoot fires and activate EW support. The brigade staff must ensure that all brigade internal and external communications frequencies are coordinated horizontally and vertically.


a. A trigger event drives the execution of an attack operation. A trigger event is an enemy or friendly action that causes the ATKHB to launch and engage the enemy. Examples of a trigger event may be a threat armored force transitioning through a named area of interest (NAI) or a friendly force conducting an attack operation in another part of the theater. The next higher's staff notifies the aviation brigade of the trigger event.

b. The execution of an air assault operation is time driven or event driven. The time sequence for a time-driven air assault operation is stipulated in the next higher's OPORD. Final coordination times for an air assault operation are synchronized between the executing air assault unit and the supported ground unit. An example of a trigger event for an air assault operation would be that a successful deception operation has been conducted in another part of the AO. The event shifts the enemy's focus and security away from the air assault objective. Again, final coordination times are synchronized between the executing air assault unit and the supported unit.

c. The trigger event is the catalyst by which the aviation brigade's next higher echelon gives the command to execute the deep operation. Upon notification to execute the deep operation, the aviation brigade staff executes the following actions:

(1) ACTION: All subordinate executing units are directed to increase their readiness conditions to a final pre-launch status. Those units under OPCON to the primary executing aviation unit are notified by their controlling headquarters. Local SOPs dictate the amount of time required to attain the final pre-launch status, but the command to launch will be transmitted only after all other pre-launch procedures have been coordinated. Mission execution orders are transmitted to subordinate units by the quickest, most secure means available.

(2) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff provides a final pre-launch intelligence update to the executing unit(s). This update is conducted either face-to-face with unit commanders or transmitted electronically.

(3) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff requests-through the next higher's A2C2 cell-the activation of all ROZs, air corridors, and special use airspace (SUA) relevant to the operation. In addition, the staff alerts the next higher's A2C2 cell that use of the SAAFR will commence with aircraft launch. The brigade staff verifies that all requested airspace has been activated before aircraft launch. Airspace deconfliction takes time so these requests need to be submitted well in advance of mission execution.

(4) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff requests JSEAD FS. Service component liaison personnel and the brigade FSO alert/update their appropriate brigade external staffs. The final command to fire JSEAD may be generated by the brigade staff, but probably will be generated by the executing aviation unit commander or designated air mission commander.

(5) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff alerts the next higher's G3 if over-the-horizon communications activity can be expected. Request are made to alert the supporting Army and joint aircraft.

(6) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff alerts the brigade's FARP elements that the operation is being executed.

(7) ACTION: After ensuring that all pre-launch procedures have been coordinated, the aviation brigade commander/staff orders/directs the subordinate unit commander to launch and execute the mission.

(8) ACTION: The aviation brigade staff receives subordinate battalion BDA reports and updates the next higher echelon as required.

(9) ACTION: Upon mission completion, the aviation brigade staff requests deactivation of all ROZs, air corridors, and special use airspace (SUA) relevant to the operation. This request is conducted through the next higher's A2C2 cell.


Rear area combat operations usually require immediate response. Therefore, planning actions should incorporate all possible contingencies.

a. Rear Area Planning. To plan rear area operations, the aviation brigade must understand the next higher commander's priorities of protection. The brigade also must have the next higher's rear operations plan. In addition, the brigade must conduct a thorough IPB and establish the C2 functions peculiar to rear operations. The priority of protection list includes all of the critical assets that the next higher commander has designated to be secured in the rear area. These assets may include-

  • C2 facilities.
  • Ammunition supply points.
  • Class III facilities.
  • Corps/division reserve forces.
  • Main supply routes (MSRs).
  • Bridges.
  • Corps/division support area.

b. Protecting Assets. The next higher commander assigns the priorities for the protection of these assets. These assets are placed on a standing list in the order of precedence. Intelligence and AD assets are vital; they must be focused according to the rear operations plan. Also, the corps aviation brigade must coordinate with these assets. The brigade also must maintain communication nets with these assets.

(1) The rear CP publishes the rear area OPLAN. The OPLAN contains tactical guidance, task organization, and assignment of missions to various elements that are assigned to protect the rear area. This plan normally is transmitted as an annex to the OPLAN or OPORD. It contains specific information-such as unit locations and FS coordination measures-required to develop the aviation brigade staff's OPLAN for rear operations. The corps rear OPLAN allows the aviation brigade and subordinate units to begin preparing for employment in the rear area. For example, attack assets with an on-order rear operations commitment can start reconnoitering BPs and routes to BPs-day, night, night vision devices (NVDs)-around critical rear area assets. Assault helicopter units-with an on-order rear operations mission-also can begin reconnoitering routes (primary NVD-day) while looking for suitable LZs around critical assets. Artillery and infantry units should be collocated with their respective assault and medium helicopter units. Coordination with bases or base clusters and AD units also is essential. This planning helps ensure that the employment of aviation units in rear operations is highly responsive.

(2) Fundamental to the aviation brigade's employment in rear operations is an extensive IPB both behind and beyond the FLOT. This IPB results in fairly accurate predictions of threat objectives in the rear area as well as air and ground avenues of approach to these objectives. The rear CP can develop an LZ or PZ denial plan by the rear CP based on LZs identified by the IPB. Aviation assets also may play a vital role in producing or contributing to the IPB. For example, these assets can reconnoiter possible LZs and routes used by the enemy. The results of the IPB and METT-T then are considered by the aviation brigade when assigning missions and priorities to subordinate units. With limited aviation assets, other forces-such as AD units-must be integrated to cover suspected AAs, LZs, and likely objectives. The IPB-which allows for the allocation of various early warning systems defined below-ensures that the tactical combat force (TCF) has enough notice and reaction time to employ its combat forces.

(a) Human intelligence (HUMINT).

(b) Signals intelligence (SIGINT).

(c) Communications intelligence (COMINT).

(d) Electronic intelligence (ELINT).

(3) C2 of rear operations rests with the rear CP. Base clusters and TCFs report to the CP when executing the rear operations plan. To be tied into this C2 network, the aviation brigade establishes voice communications with the rear CP. It also sends an LNO to assist in aviation planning at the corps level. Once an incursion is detected, the responding force establishes voice communications with the base defense or base cluster targeted by the threat incursion. Keep in mind that the TCF normally woudl respond only to a level III rear area incursion. The base cluster defense handles level I incursions. Level II incursions probably will require some external assistance like an MP unit.

(4) The final stage of rear operations planning for the aviation brigade is the control portion of the C2 process. After analyzing the IPB products, the priority of protection, and the corps rear OPLAN, the aviation brigade identifies several decision points or time lines that optimize aviation employment. The rear CP ensures that the appropriate assets -joint acquisition, detection, and intelligence collection assets-both aerial and ground-are concentrated on that area of the battlefield. It also ensures that adequate warning is given to the aviation forces involved in rear operations. Finally, all aspects of planning for rear operations must be coordinated into a realistic and timely alert status (THREATCON); thereby, the aviation brigade's forces can respond quickly.

c. Execution Methods. Once the incursion-imminent or actual-into the rear area has been detected-and determined to warrant aviation commitment-the actions of the aviation brigade for countering the threat force fall into two categories. These categories are attack on the en route threat force and attack on a landed threat force in the rear area.

(1) Attack on the en route threat force. The attack on the en route threat force primarily applies to countering a heliborne or airborne threat. Orientation of friendly detection systems toward IPB-developed staging areas and air avenues of approach aids in early detection. Such detection systems include short-range air defense (SHORAD) early warning nets; forward area air defense (FAAD); and C2I. This early detection helps neutralize or destroy the threat force in the air. Also, aviation brigade units -primarily attack helicopter units- have some limited air combat capability that can complement the ground AD effort. They can compel threat aviation forces to fly evasive maneuvers into the acquisition and attack envelopes of friendly surface-to-air systems. Therefore, a refined A2C2 plan helps destroy the threat force while minimizing the potential hazard of engagement by friendly AD systems.

(2) Attack on a landed threat force. Attack on a landed threat force by aviation brigade elements in the rear area may be the least desirable employment option. Currently, however, it is the most probable course of action because of the speed with which the enemy can conduct rear area incursions. Employment must be anticipatory; therefore, the aviation brigade's intent should be to destroy threat forces before they reach the rear area. If they are not destroyed, however, threat forces may be countered by a combination of attack helicopter and air assault actions prescribed in the rear area operations plan. As the brigade's forces develop the situation, additional combat forces are added, as required. Air cavalry units and light infantry are ideal forces for this mission using search and attack.


SECTION IX. Corps Airfield Operations


Within the corps rear area, one or more airfields may be required. Normally, the airfields will be a primary and an alternate. An airfield is any area-with or without personnel-designated for takeoffs and landings by fixed-wing aircraft.


Probable users within the combat zone include USAF tactical airlifts and MEDEVAC-as well as Army military intelligence (MI) units, command aviation aircraft (fixed-wing), and logistical support units. Engineers may help establish or construct corps airfields and also provide crash rescue. MPs may be employed for security.

a. Doctrinally, USAF airlifts-during combat operations forward-support combat forces at any level of conflict on a sustained basis. They also evacuate casualties from forward of the corps. Operations forward consist of three categories. First, routine operations support the corps support area (CSA). Second, emergency operations support division areas. Third, rear operations support brigades. Airlift support of these contingencies depends on the availability of US aircraft and the establishment of airfields that can accommodate and handle containerized cargo. Terminal operations for C-130 or C-17 aircraft require an all-weather, day-and-night landing capability. They can use unimproved runways of at least 3,000 feet during day operations; however, they require 4,000 feet for night operations. ATS will be provided by ATS units and USAF combat control teams (CCTs) for the first 72 hours. Afterward, ATS becomes the sole responsibility of Army ATS units.

b. The MI battalion (aerial exploitation(AE)) provides EW target acquisition support to the corps. The aerial EW company has 12 RU-21 or RC-12 aircraft. These aircraft normally operate at corps fully instrumented airfields. An airfield service section provides airfield service support to the battalion. Support includes aircraft fueling and emergency airfield lighting. EW missions require near all-weather, day-and-night landing capability. The heavy electronics configuration and structural design limit the aircraft to airfields with improved 5,000-foot runways.

c. The command aviation battalion has five assigned fixed-wing aircraft that enhance C3I functions for corps operations. These aircraft mainly perform utility and command liaison missions. These aircraft must have an all-weather capability; their primary mission is to transport high-ranking military command and staff officials. The aircraft must have an instrumented airfield with an improved 5,000-foot runway.

d. Logistical support units-such as a corps support command (COSCOM)-may need an airfield to receive bulk supplies or evacuate damaged equipment.


The main purposes of an airfield are to serve fixed-wing aircraft and support logistical operations for the corps and its subordinate units. If required, corps aviation fixed-wing assets may use an airfield at a USAF installation or a hard surface such as a road or an expressway. However, the corps commander may direct that a corps Army airfield be established and maintained. If so, several corps-level units will establish and maintain the airfield. An airfield commander must be appointed and support assets allocated.

a. Airfield Commander. Within the corps aviation brigade, the corps aviation group commander may serve as the airfield commander or he may direct that the command aviation battalion commander or ATS battalion com- mander establish and operate the airfield. The corps aviation group also may provide support assets to include a flight operations section for base operations, ATS, and aviation maintenance support.

b. Construction and Crash Rescue. Corps engineer units can construct and maintain specified airfield facilities. They also provide crash rescue in support of airfield operations.

c. Logistics. COSCOM units are directed to provide logistical support of airfield operations; this support primarily includes Classes I, III, and V. Other services provided are transportation and movements control for USAF airlift operations of bulk supplies.

d. Medical Evacuation. Medical units may position corps medical units at the airfield for liaison between Army and USAF MEDEVAC forces. Army medical units also may provide medical support for airfield operations on-site.

e. Security. MPs provide security for corps airfield operations. Other forces, such as infantry, artillery, and airfield participants or host nation assets may augment security operations.


SECTION X. Covering Force Operations



When designated as the corps covering force, the aviation brigade must have enough ground maneuver forces and CS and CSS assets-including additional communications support-to achieve the full effect of the combined arms team. The strength of the covering force depends on the size of the security area and the intensity with which the corps commander intends to fight the battle. It also is based on the number of other contingencies for which the corps must prepare. The aviation brigade as a whole may or may not be employed in such operations. Normally, only those corps aviation brigades assigned to corps without an assigned ACR are employed as a covering force headquarters. The attack regiment headquarters may be given the mission and augmented as necessary. During covering force operations, specific tasks for corps attack assets include reconnaissance and screening operations. These assets may also be held as a tactical reserve to exploit friendly attacks or to counterattack enemy penetrations. Assault and medium helicopter units provide assets to conduct air assaults on other counterattack forces. These units also provide CS to reposition critical personnel, equipment, and supplies.


The aviation brigade provides the division commander with new options for determining the best allocation of resources for the covering force mission. The division commander may augment the covering force with assets from the aviation brigade; for example, cavalry squadrons or ATKHBs. In this case, an attached or OPCON relationship is appropriate to share the burden of supporting these elements for the duration of the covering force battle. The ground brigade commander may use assets from an assault helicopter company (AHC) to transport engineer barrier material forward. He may also position FARPs to support brigade units in the security area. After the covering force passes, he plans and coordinates actions to refit these units for future missions. If the division has to constitute its own covering force, the aviation brigade headquarters can plan and control the covering force battle. If the aviation brigade commander is assigned the covering force mission, the other ground brigades will be free for detailed preparation of the main battle area (MBA). In this situation, the division commander task-organizes the aviation brigade with additional ground maneuver, CS and CSS assets.

a. Aviation Brigade as the Covering Force Headquarters. When designated as the covering force, the aviation brigade must have adequate ground maneuver forces and CS and CSS assets to achieve the full effect of the combined arms team. The strength of the covering force depends on the size of the security area and the intensity with which the division commander wants to fight the battle. It also is based on the number of other contingencies for which the division must prepare.

(1) Table 3-2 shows an example of task organization for a covering force mission. This example depicts a covering force for the air assault division (ASD). Here, the aviation brigade is augmented with two air assault battalions (ASBs) and an appropriate mix of CS assets. The ASBs are task-organized according to the commander's concept of the operation and METT-T. Similar considerations are applied to the distribution of CS assets. This example also indicates that two of the brigade's organic attack helicopter battalions are being retained under division control for contingencies in deep or rear operations.


Table 3-2. Task organization for covering force mission

TF 1-324 (AASLT)
1-324 IN
2/A/1-541 Air Defense (DS)
2/C/354 Engineer (DS)

TF 3-554 (AASLT)
3-544 IN
1/A/1-541 Air Defense (DS)
3/C/354 Engineer (DS)

2-19th ARS

1-227th ATKHB

3-227th ATKHB
1-102 AVN (AHB)
2-102 AVN (CAC)
3-102 AVN (MHB)
2-14th FA (105 TOWED) (DS)
1-19th FA (155, TOWED) (DS)
A/1-541 Air Defense (-) (DS)
C/354 Engineer (-) (DS)
1/B/321st MI BN (DS)
1/329 NBC DEF CO (DS)

(2) The aviation brigade commander must ensure that adequate CSS elements are available to sustain and maintain the force. A logistics composite support unit (LCSU) may be configured to support covering force operations. The LCSU includes assets from the DISCOM, COSCOM, and appropriate forward service support elements or mobile support teams and the parent unit that accompany ground maneuver units augmenting the covering force. Initially, this unit would locate close to the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), perhaps to the rear of the forward MBA positions, to provide responsive support. These support elements or units may include service and supply, maintenance (air and ground), and medical support elements.

(3) The aviation brigade commander and staff provide timely C2 during the covering force battle. This C2 is assisted by clear and concise mission guidance, battlefield control measures, FRAGOs, and responsive communications. To maintain communications with forward elements in the covering force, the headquarters may use line-of-sight (LOS) or non-LOS communications systems. CPs usually are echeloned with a main CP positioned to the rear of the security area and a tactical CP positioned for optimal control of the battle. The tactical CP is composed of ground vehicles or aircraft.

b. Ground Task Force Roles. The covering force commander usually task-organizes ground maneuver battalions. His decision is based on his concept of the operation and METT-T. TFs are integrated into the maneuver scheme with aviation and reconnaissance assets to fix and destroy enemy forces. When operating in the covering force, ground maneuver battalions echelon their trains. The location and composition depend on METT-T. The same support precepts apply as for other operations. Normally, field trains are located to the rear of the security area while combat trains may be located well forward, depending on METT-T. Ground maneuver forces are given missions to delay, defend, and counterattack.

(1) TFs cause delays to trade space for time. Delays can also draw the attacker into positions that expose the enemy's flank or rear units to counterattack. Successful delay operations mainly slow the enemy's advance to gain time. Their secondary role is to destroy as much of the enemy force as possible yet preserve the freedom of maneuver. These tasks are accomplished by forcing enemy forces to deploy and react to successive engagements without allowing them to achieve decisive results. Such actions are costly to the enemy in time and attrition of combat power.

(2) During covering force battles, TFs may defend to retain key terrain or to deny or canalize enemy movement along a specific avenue of approach. They also defend to stop the enemy in EAs that foster counterattacks. TFs may defend in sector or from BPs or both. In some operations using the economy-of-force principle of war or when portions of the security area are more defensible than others, the commander may employ a combination of sectors and BPs. Figure 3-1 illustrates the options for the disposition of forces in the defense.

(a) Sectors. Sectors are designated along the most defensible terrain astride enemy avenues of approach. They clearly define areas for which a TF commander is responsible. Because sectors are less restrictive than designated BPs, the TF commander selects BPs or sectors for company teams. When sectors are established, the movement of individual TFs can be monitored by imposing phase lines as control measures.

(b) Battle positions. When the security area is clearly dominated by key terrain features, it may be better to designate TF BPs. In this instance, the covering force commander first identifies likely enemy avenues of approach; then he selects EAs and BPs throughout the security area on terrain that dominates those avenues. Thereby, he is able to control the battle by having the TFs occupy the BPs and delay, defend, or attack from them.

(3) To seize the initiative, the covering force commander plans and conducts counterattacks when opportunities occur. His aggressive action stalls the momentum of the attack and forces the enemy to react continually to the expected. Counterattacks may be oriented on destroying enemy forces or on seizing key terrain. Local counterattacks must be executed rapidly. The division commander supports his covering force operations with battlefield interdiction or deep attacks to delay and disrupt follow-on forces; at the same time, a local counterattack is conducted against first-echelon elements. Counterattacks may be conducted by positioning units to neutralize enemy forces by fire or by maneuvering units against the enemy's flanks or rear units. The aim is to sever LOCs and to envelop the force. Figure 3-2 illustrates the possibilities for local counterattacks when ground maneuver forces are employed with aviation assets.


Figure 3-1. Disposition of forces in the defense


c. Aviation Brigade Roles. As the controlling headquarters, the aviation brigade commander normally employs all subordinate units during covering force operations. Likewise, when the brigade is not the covering force most of the brigade will be employed by the controlling headquarters.

(1) Cavalry squadron roles. During covering force operations, cavalry and air reconnaissance forces perform reconnaissance and security operations.

(2) Attack helicopter battalion roles. The attack helicopter battalion is one of the primary tools with which the covering force commander retains the offensive spirit. As implied by its name, the mission of the ATKHB is to attack. With its maneuver speed, it responds quickly to contingencies throughout the security area. ATKHBs normally are employed from forward AAs or attack positions in the rear of the security area. This rear location affords limited protection from enemy indirect fires but provides responsiveness throughout the security area.

(a) Under most conditions, attack helicopter units should not be employed below battalion level. Attack helicopter companies do not have the resources to recycle elements for sustained engagements between the FARP and the AO. The ATKHB, however, can accommodate different mission profiles as depicted in Figure 3-2. It may employ its attack companies in three modes: maximum destruction, phased employment, or continuous attack. FM 1-112 contains more detail on the employment of attack helicopter units.

(b) One of the precepts of Army operations doctrine is to fight as a combined arms force by synchronizing all available maneuver and fire support assets. Commanders must ensure that coordination between aviation and ground units is continuous and detailed. This coordination precludes any possibility of being misunderstood or becoming disconnected during the battle. Table 3-3 lists some key requirements that must be coordinated among subordinate units to promote battlefield control.

(c) Attack helicopter units have numerous roles in covering force operations. They may be employed independent of ground maneuver units in deep attacks and against enemy second-echelon forces. They also may be integrated with the ground maneuver units during delay, defensive, and counterattack operations.

(d) To disrupt the enemy's attack schedule, the covering force commander often conducts simultaneous actions against first-echelon and follow-on enemy forces. The ATKHB can weaken, disrupt, and delay enemy second-echelon regiments while other units destroy the first echelon as illustrated in Figure 3-3. Actions against the second echelon are risky. When successful, however, they pay off in tremendous dividends. Such actions buy time, retain the initiative, and preserve the balance of power in close operations.

(e) As an integral part of the covering force mission, ground maneuver units often conduct delay operations to slow the momentum of the attack. The covering force commander ensures that delaying units do not become so decisively engaged that they lose their freedom to maneuver. If they do, these units may be bypassed or encircled by the attacking force. To preclude these situations, the covering force commander interjects attack helicopter units into the battle at critical times. Their combat power distracts and disrupts the attack while ground units disengage and displace. In this mission profile, timing is critical. Therefore, premission planning should include reconnaissance of BPs. These positions should allow flanking engagements into the attack force. They also should provide clearly defined control measures; thus, events can take place in the proper sequence. For instance, the ground unit commander notifies the ATKHBs when the enemy reaches a designated PL. Then the battalion moves to a designated forward holding area. When the enemy reaches a second PL, the ground commander issues the battalion a prearranged signal. The battalion then moves its attack companies into previously selected BPs and provides maximum fires against the enemy's flanks.


Figure 3-2. Possibilities for local counterattacks with aviation assets


Table 3-3. Required coordination between aviation and ground units


  • Established liaison.

  • Detailed premission planning.

  • Joint reconnaissance.

  • Contingency planning.


  • Complementary initial and subsequent battle and attack positions.

  • Fire distribution guidelines.

  • Established target priorities.

  • Locations of ground maneuver, FA, and AD units.

  • Fire support priorities.

  • Fire support and obstacle overlays.

  • Maneuver scheme.

  • Coordination for movement and fires across sector boundaries.

  • Battlefield control measures.

  • Attack and displacement signals.

  • Airspace C2.

  • Use of laser designation systems.

  • Common radio frequencies and signal operation instructions (SOI).

  • Locations and methods for on-the-spot mission updates.

(f) Individual ground maneuver units may defend as part of the covering force mission to deny the enemy access along a specific avenue of approach. They also may defend when the momentum of the attack fades and the enemy first echelon can be stopped. Defensive operations generally are not static. Attack helicopter units require considerable maneuver space; therefore, they should never be confined to a static disposition within a defense plan. Instead, attack helicopters should capitalize on their unrestricted maneuver advantage over enemy ground forces. They could be employed in continuous attacks throughout the depth of the battlefield against the enemy's flank or rear units. They also could conduct spoiling attacks against enemy formations that have halted or have been slowed. Because attack helicopter units often operate forward of friendly ground units, direct and indirect fires must be coordinated. The coordination requirements presented in Table 3-3 should be addressed. Fire distribu- tion guidelines, FS priorities, and coordination for movement and fires across unit boundaries should be emphasized and coordinated. Figure 3-3 portrays the concept for ATKHB employment during defensive operations.


Figure 3-3. ATKHB employment during defensive operations


(g) The covering force should counterattack when the opportunity presents itself. Counterattacks in the security area should be short and violent. The objective is to destroy the enemy force before it can respond. In counterattack situations, attack helicopters usually are employed in large numbers to ensure fire superiority over the enemy at the critical point in the battle. They normally maneuver along different attack routes and should attack from a different direction than ground forces. (Figure 3-4 illustrates counterattacks in the security area; Figure 3-5 shows the employment of the attack helicopter battalion in the security area.)


Figure 3-4. Local counterattacks in the security area



Figure 3-5. Employment of the attack helicopter battalion in the security area


(h) When planning CSS requirements, commanders must anticipate high consumption of Classes III and V to sustain ATKHBs. Ensuring that these items are sent forward to Class III supply points and ATPs close to the security area is critical. Also, the positioning of FARPs directly affects turnaround times and responsiveness to sustained operations. Another factor that may affect the employment of attack helicopters is imposed controlled supply rates. Control may be required because of limited supplies of rockets, antitank missiles, and other high-use munitions. Employment plans need to be flexible because this restraint may adversely alter the unit's capabilities.

(3) Assault helicopter battalion (AHB) roles. As part of the covering force mission, the AHB performs air assaults or emplaces ground forces into antiarmor ambush sites and forward operating bases (FOBs). It also anticipates extensive support missions to assist in battlefield preparation and sustainment. The AHB transports barrier materials, supplies, and equipment to forward units and constantly repositions FARPs and resupplies them with Classes III and V. AHB assets may also evacuate wounded personnel and transport replacements forward if other divisional assets cannot meet battlefield requirements.

(4) General support battalion (GSAB)/Medium-lift roles. During covering force operations, the GSB will execute the same missions as the assault battalion as well as airborne C2. Brigades with CH-47 Chinook battalions have an even more robust capability to move troops, combat systems, and supplies. If the division's MEDEVAC capability gets stretched too thin, one CH-47 can carry 24 litter patients to support mass CASEVAC.


The aviation brigade also may conduct a covering force operation during an offensive operation such as a movement to contact. Movement to contact gains or reestablishes contact with the enemy. It develops the situation early and results in an advantage before the decisive engagement. This operation is characterized by decentralized control and rapid commitment of forces. It terminates when enemy resistance requires the deployment and coordinated effort of the division. During a movement to contact, the division normally is configured with a covering force, an advance guard, flank and rear guards, and the main body as depicted in Figure 3-6. Each of these elements performs a distinct mission to support the movement to contact.


Figure 3-6. Organization for movement to contact


a. Aviation brigade missions. During a movement to contact, this brigade can execute several missions at the same time to support division operations. Within light divisions, the brigade may normally be designated as the controlling headquarters for either the covering force or the advance guard.

(1) When supporting the division, the brigade employs its subordinate assets to enhance and extend division capabilities. As depicted in Figure 3-7, the cavalry and air reconnaissance squadrons may take part in the covering force to conduct screening operations. At the same time, the ATKHBs positioned in forward AAs are ready to react to enemy contact initiated by the covering force or advance guard. Also, the AHC helps displace FARPs forward and is prepared to accept on-order missions to conduct air assault operations when task-organized. In this situation, the aviation brigade commander must control his assets closely to respond in a timely manner to contingencies that may develop.


Figure 3-7. Aviation brigade in division movement to contact


(2) As the controlling headquarters for the covering force, the aviation brigade must be augmented with additional ground maneuver forces and receives CS and CSS assets in direct support. Figure 3-8 shows possible locations for maneuver elements under aviation brigade control. The cavalry squadron provides reconnaissance, initiates contact with the enemy, and develops the situation. As ground TFs maneuver to engage enemy forces, ATKHBs can respond by providing firepower to the ground maneuver commander. The AHC performs missions to sustain the movement of the force.


Figure 3-8. Aviation brigade task-organized with ground maneuver forces in movement to contact


b. Cavalry and Air Reconnaissance Squadron Roles. The major roles of the squadrons are reconnaissance and screening operations.

c. Ground Maneuver Battalion Roles. Ground maneuver battalions must augment the aviation brigade in covering force operations. Their additional maneuver capability maintains the momentum of the movement to contact. These battalions follow cavalry or air reconnaissance forces. Once the cavalry has established initial contact with the enemy, battalions attack to penetrate and destroy the enemy's forward defenses.

d. Attack Helicopter Battalion (ATKHB) Roles.

(1) The ATKHBs give the aviation brigade the necessary organic combat power to engage, fix, and destroy the enemy. Their ability to move rapidly and mass firepower at the decisive place and time gives the task force commander a formidable unit to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.

(2) During a movement to contact, attack helicopters are critical to the success of advance forces and the main body. As the covering force encounters enemy formations, attack helicopters move forward to engage them. These helicopters can strike deep to attack enemy forces as they reposition in response to covering force actions. They can also assist ground forces in bypassing enemy positions. With the mobility and firepower of these battalions, the TF commander can often overwhelm the enemy and seize the initiative without marshaling ground forces to attack. Also, attack helicopters may augment the reconnaissance and screening capability of the cavalry and air reconnaissance squadrons.

(3) The availability and responsiveness of ATKHBs are key factors in their employment. However, the battalions cannot be expected to maintain continuous overwatch while awaiting the employment of ground maneuver forces. They normally operate from successive FAAs. FM 1-112 gives specific information on the tactical employment of ATKHBs to support a ground maneuver unit.

e. Assault helicopter battalion (AHB)/Utility Roles. The AHB/GSAB role in a movement to contact is critical to sustaining the entire operation. To avoid overcommiting the AHB/GSAB, additional assets may be requested from the corps aviation brigade to augment the AHB/GSAB mission. The AHB/GSAB moves personnel, supplies, and equipment rapidly throughout the battlefield to support the operation. The battalion could be used for the movement of fuel and ammunition so that the aviation brigade's other air assets can continue to move or the battalion could conduct air assault operations with ground troops to seize terrain that is critical to ground forces or block the movement and withdrawal of the enemy.


SECTION XI. Offensive Operations


The aviation brigade is employed offensively during the force commander's offensive or defensive scheme of maneuver. The aviation brigade or subordinate elements may participate in all or a portion of offensive operations-movement to contact, hasty and deliberate attacks, exploitation, and pursuit.


a. During a movement to contact, the aviation brigade can simultaneously execute several missions to support division operations. In some cases, it may be designated as the controlling headquarters for either the covering force or the advance guard. When supporting the division's scheme of maneuver during a movement to contact, the brigade employs its subordinate assets to enhance and extend division capabilities. The cavalry squadron often participates in the covering force. At the same time, the ATKHBs are positioned in forward AAs as a tactical reserve. They will react to enemy contact initiated by the squadron or the division's advance guard. Also, the assault helicopter company helps displace FARPs forward. It is prepared to accept on-order missions to conduct air assault operations. As the controlling headquarters for the covering force or the advance guard, the aviation brigade should be augmented with additional ground maneuver forces. The brigade can receive CS assets in direct support.

b. The aviation brigade conducts movement to contact to gain or regain ground contact with an enemy force. Terrain reconnaissance is required to execute this mission but only in an effort to find the enemy. The movement to contact terminates when the the unit reaches the objective or limit of advance without enemy contact or upon contact with an enemy force. During the movement to contact, these critical tasks must be accomplished unless the higher commander directs otherwise-

(1) Reconnoiter and determine the trafficability of all high-speed routes within the zone.

(2) Inspect and classify all bridges, culverts, overpasses, and underpasses along high-speed routes.

(3) Identify all bypasses and fords that cannot support heavy rapid movement.

(4) Clear all high-speed routes of mines and obstacles withinits capability or locate bypasses.

(5) Find and report all enemy forces within the zone and determine their size, composition, and activity.

c. Although a movement to contact is similar to a zone reconnaissance, there are a few additional considerations. They are-

(1) The zone should be narrower to allow the commander to better concentrate his combat power.

(2) The unit gains contact with the smallest unit possible and quickly executes actions on contact to prevent the unnecessary deployment of larger forces.

(3) Speed increases risk. A thorough IPB is required to show which areas can be moved through quickly and which areas require more deliberate movement.

(4) NBC reconnaissance elements and engineers are well forward to recon known or suspected contaminated areas and help negotiate obstacles which allows troops to bypass and continue movement.

(5) Air cavalry moves forward of ground forces and screens along exposed flanks to help speed the movement.

(6) CSS assets are tailored to the mission and move with the combat trains. Prepackaged logistics packages (LOGPACs) heavy on class III and V are included.


The hasty attack is an offensive operation. It usually evolves from a movement to contact or proceeds from successful defensive operations. It also may develop from modifying a preplanned counterattack operation or from continuing beyond the objective of a deliberate attack. Seizing and retaining the initiative over the enemy is the purpose of a hasty attack despite its origin. Violent, aggressive action characterizes a hasty attack, which must be executed in minimal time. The principles of attack-concentration, surprise, speed, flexibility, and audacity-apply in a hasty attack as in other offensive operations. Throughout all operations, commanders must constantly seek opportunities to attack. They must determine quickly if the enemy can be defeated by hasty attack and, if so, execute the operation rapidly. Hesitation on the part of the commander may cause his forces to lose momentum, allowing the enemy to regroup and regain the initiative.

a. Aviation Brigade Missions. Aviation brigade elements often take part in the hasty attack to support division operations.

(1) The brigade may conduct hasty attacks as a maneuver force headquarters, either designated as an aviation brigade or task-organized with additional ground maneuver forces. Figures 3-9 through 3-11 show examples of these employment situations.

(2) To execute a hasty attack rapidly and decisively, leaders need a simple scheme of maneuver and effective SOPs and battle drills. They must react quickly so that the initiative and opportunity are not lost.

b. Cavalry Squadron Roles. Primarily because of their reconnaissance mission, the cavalry squadrons forces normally will be the first forces of the division to locate and establish contact with the enemy.


Figure 3-9. Aviation brigade assets participating in a division hasty attack



Figure 3-10. Aviation brigade in a hasty attack as a maneuver force



Figure 3-11. Aviation brigade in a hasty attack as a maneuver force augmented with additional ground maneuver forces


c. Attack Helicopter Battalion (ATKHB) Roles. In the hasty attack, attack helicopters can shock and overwhelm enemy forces with their speed and firepower; then they can seize the initiative. They are best employed against moving, massed mechanized or armor enemy forces. Figure 3-12 depicts an ATKHB attacking enemy forces moving to reinforce a position under attack. In other missions, the ATKHB-

(1) Attacks enemy counterattacking forces.

(2) Provides immediate antiarmor firepower.

(3) Attacks withdrawing or moving enemy forces.

(4) Attacks bypassed units or pockets of resistance.

(5) Attacks enemy uncommitted reserves, C2 nodes, and support facilities.

(6) Screens forward or to the flanks of an attacking force.

(7) Conducts air combat.

d. AHB/Utility Roles. Helicopters carrying air assault forces form a combat maneuver force that can conduct a hasty attack. This force can seize key terrain to block enemy movement, reinforce a weakened sector, or exploit a tactical advantage gained by attacking forces. AHB assets can also place forces in the enemy's rear to disrupt it's maneuver potential and make it fight in two directions at once.


Figure 3-12. Attack helicopter battalion in a hasty attack



a. Purpose. A deliberate attack becomes necessary when enemy forces cannot be defeated by a hasty attack or cannot be turned or bypassed. It also is necessary to secure key terrain or destroy substantial enemy forces.

(1) Commanders and staffs must plan, coordinate, and synchronize every phase of a deliberate attack. They gather detailed intelligence from all available sources to determine the actual disposition and capabilities of the enemy. Before attacking, leaders ensure that thorough reconnaissance, target acquisition and development, and a detailed analysis of all related factors have been completed. The success of a deliberate attack requires positive, aggressive leadership at all levels of command. Combat power must be rapidly concentrated to exploit the enemy's weaknesses and the attack must be violently executed.

(2) A deliberate attack is expensive in terms of manpower, equipment, supplies, and time. Such an attack requires detailed planning and the assets to execute the operation. When friendly forces are on the move, a deliberate attack is the least desirable method of attack. It often may lead to loss of momentum; thus, the enemy may be able to react, regroup, and reinforce its positions. Therefore, the movement to contact and the hasty attack are preferred over the deliberate attack.

b. Aviation Brigade Missions. The aviation brigade conducts deliberate attack missions in deep, close, or rear operations areas. If attacking heavily fortified positions, it must be augmented with additional ground maneuver forces.

(1) The roles of the aviation brigade units during a deliberate attack differ little from those during a hasty attack. The main difference is the amount of coordination, synchronization, and preparation that takes place before the attack.

(2) During deliberate attack operations, the cavalry or air reconnaissance squadron performs reconnaissance and screening for the attacking force. The ATKHBs then envelop enemy positions and strike moving enemy reserve formations. Simultaneously, ground maneuver forces assault and break through the more heavily fortified positions. The AHC may be task-organized with infantry to conduct air assaults for blocking enemy withdrawal routes or securing objectives.

c. Cavalry Squadron Roles. The squadron conducts continuous reconnaissance operations before and during the deliberate attack. These operations provide real-time intelligence for planners and attackers. During the attack, the squadron may screen the maneuvering force from surprise as it moves to the objective as shown in Figure 3-13. In the deliberate attack, the cavalry or air reconnaissance squadron-

(1) Provides limited security for maneuvering forces.

(2) Conducts feints and demonstrations to deceive the enemy.

(3) When an enemy force weakens and exploitation is about to begin, the squadron locates enemy egress routes and disrupts withdrawal of enemy forces.

(4) Reconnoiters for vulnerabilities in the enemy defense.

(5) Locates enemy C2 elements, logistics facilities, and reserve forces.

(6) Conducts delay operations, with augmentation, to allow massing of forces for the attack.

(7) Provides rear area security.

(8) Secures lines of communication.

d. ATKHB roles. Attack helicopter battalions are part of the scheme of maneuver in the deliberate attack. These battalions provide mobile and flexible combat capability. They are least effective against heavily fortified positions and they cannot seize and hold terrain. They are best suited for attacking massed, moving enemy armored formations. In the deliberate attack, ATKHBs can-

(1) Attack to exploit initial successes.

(2) Attack withdrawing enemy forces or moving enemy reserves.

(3) Conduct independent deep attacks to destroy enemy C2 elements, logistics facilities, and maneuver forces or to participate in a scheme of maneuver in close or deep operations.

e. AHB/GSAB roles. AHB/GSAB assets move combat troops and equipment into the fight or they move equipment and supplies to sustain the fight. With these assets, a nonmechanized AATF can stay in the fight. The AHB/GSAB is ideal for increasing the mobility of the attacking forces and for accelerating combat tempo as the fight moves to the exploitation phase.


Figure 3-13. Cavalry or air reconnaissance squadron screening during deliberate attack



a. Purpose.

(1) Exploitation takes immediate advantage of a newly created or discovered enemy weakness. The objective is to strike swiftly and deeply into the enemy's defense and destroy its ability to conduct an orderly withdrawal. The exploitation is initiated when the enemy cannot maintain its defenses. The enemy's vulnerability to exploitation is indicated by the-

(a) Increase in abandoned material.

(b) General decrease in enemy resistance.

. (c) Increase in the number of prisoners being captured.

(d) Overruns of the enemy's artillery positions, CPs, signal installations, supply dumps, and supporting units.

(2) Exploitation is an opportunity to make gains well beyond those dictated by normal force ratios. In just a few days, more gains can be made than in months of other operations. Exploitation forces should be large and reasonably self-sufficient. They should be well supported and have the flexibility to change direction on short notice. They must be at least as mobile as the exploited force.

(3) Exploitation begins with forces maneuvering deep to continue the momentum of the attack. As the battle progresses, commanders normally will designate exploiting forces by issuing FRAGOs during the attack. An objective is assigned to the exploiting force. The objective will be one that, if captured or destroyed, will contribute significantly to destroying organized enemy resistance.

b. Aviation Brigade Missions. The aviation brigade is an ideal exploitation force; it is well suited to the fast tempo of this operation. The brigade can easily maneuver to outflank or cut off enemy forces, fixing them so that they can be destroyed. During an exploitation, the brigade will capitalize on early success, maintain the momentum of the operation, and keep the enemy off balance. It must maintain continuous pressure against enemy forces to prevent them from reorganizing their forces and especially from reinforcing their defenses. Destroying C2 facilities, cutting lines of communication, and destroying the logistic capability will be primary missions. Figure 3-14 shows the aviation brigade in exploitation.

c. Cavalry Squadron Roles. The squadron provides reconnaissance and screens for the exploiting force. It conducts reconnaissance to assist the force in maintaining rapid and continuous momentum. As contact continues with the enemy, the squadron reconnoiters the enemy's rear area to locate enemy forces and targets.

d. ATKHB Roles. ATKHBs strike the enemy in rear areas and flanks to disrupt its withdrawal or reorganization as exploiting ground maneuver forces continue to attack. As they maneuver against the enemy, the ATKHBs can destroy maneuver and fire support forces, C2 facilities, and logistics installations and can counter threat helicopters.

e. AHB/GSAB Roles. The AHB/GSAB rapidly moves troops, equipment, and supplies forward to maintain the momentum. When combined with infantry as an AATF, the AHB/GSAB seizes key terrain, crosses obstacles, and otherwise uses it's mobility to block and cut off disorganized enemy elements.


Figure 3-14. Aviation brigade in exploitation


a. Purpose. As the enemy begins to lose its ability to defend or delay and attempts to disengage and withdraw, exploitation may develop into pursuit. The main purpose of pursuit is to destroy the enemy force completely. Success during pursuit requires unrelenting pressure against the enemy to prevent it from reorganizing and preparing defenses. Despite the lack of time for planning and coordination, the transition to the pursuit must be rapid. Commanders of all units in exploitation must anticipate the transition to pursuit and continually consider new courses of action. Two separate forces are designated for a pursuit.

(1) Direct pressure force. The first force is a direct pressure force. It conducts a series of hasty attacks to maintain forward momentum and to cause maximum casualties. Preferably, armor-heavy forces would continue day and night with unrelenting violence.

(2) Encircling force. The second force is an encircling force that moves swiftly to cut off the retreating enemy. The encircling force must be at least as mobile as the enemy. The force advances along routes parallel to the enemy's line of retreat to reach key road intersections, bridges, and mountain passes ahead of the enemy. The force then establishes strong blocking positions to cut off the enemy's escape routes. The ATKHBs are ideal flanking or encircling forces.

b. Aviation Brigade Missions. The aviation brigade can play a major role in the pursuit. As part of the direct pressure force, aviation brigades conduct reconnaisance, perform security operations, and conduct attacks to destroy the enemy. As part of the encircling force, the brigade can outflank the retreating enemy with attacks or air assaults to fix, block, and ultimately destroy its forces. Figure 3-15 depicts the aviation brigade in pursuit.

c. Cavalry Squadron Roles. The squadron can screen for the direct pressure and encircling forces as they advance in the pursuit. Air assets are best employed to operate on the deep axis of advance in reconnoitering the withdrawing enemy to determine its retreat routes, egress routes, and location. Ground cavalry may operate more efficiently with the slower moving, direct pressure force by conducting screen operations to warn of enemy reinforcements or flanking actions. The squadron is not normally fragmented. However, this particular role is one technique for its employment.


Figure 3-15. Aviation brigade in pursuit


d. ATKHB Roles. The ATKHB maneuvers deep to outflank and contain retreating enemy forces. Repeated attacks by the ATKHB will speed the disintegration of the enemy's ability to delay. As the attacks continue, attack helicopters can take the lead in blocking and defeating any breakout attack by the enemy.

e. AHB/GSAB Roles. The AHB/GSAB provides assets to sustain the pursuit. It also provides maneuver capability to promote the destruction of the enemy. Its assets can be used primarily in two ways. First, AHB/GSAB assets rapidly move equipment and supplies forward to replenish critical shortages. This mission may become essential to sustain momentum. Second, AHB/GSAB assets maneuver air assault forces to fight the battle and outdistance the enemy to block its withdrawal. Air assault forces quickly seize key terrain features, such as bridges, so that pursuit forces can advance rapidly.


SECTION XII. Defensive Operations


The aviation brigade performs two types of defensive operations. They are mobile defense and area defense.


Mobile defense is force oriented. It is used to defeat or destroy enemy forces without regard for holding specific terrain. It is primarily used when friendly forces hold a mobility advantage over enemy forces or when friendly forces are insufficient to conduct an effective area defense. The mobile defense allows the enemy to maneuver to a position where he is exposed to a decisive attack by a striking force. The commander will split his force into two elements. The first is the fixing force. Its mission will be to stop the enemy's movement or channel him into a vulnerable area. The second element is the striking force. Its mission will be to conduct the decisive attack that defeats or destroys the enemy force. The striking force is always the main effort. The aviation brigade can be effectively employed in either role. As the fixing force, the brigade can use attack helicopters to blunt the enemy's attack and slow his movement while it employs air-delivered mines to further slow and canalize the enemy force. As the striking force, the brigade can employ it's attack helicopters to rapidly maneuver to the enemy's flanks. Its utility and medium lift units can rapidly move artillery and infantry into striking position to support the attack.


Area defense is terrain oriented. It is primarily used when the opposing force has a mobility advantage over the friendly force or when the commander's intent is to hold or deny the enemy use of critical terrain for a specified period of time. The aviation brigade could execute this mission when task organized with ground maneuver forces. It is characterized by multiple battle positions in depth oriented for interlocking fires on primary enemy avenues of approach. Aviation forces can rapidly maneuver to any location to mass direct fires for a counterattack or to defend a heavily engaged ground maneuver force.


SECTION XIII. Special Purpose Operations


Aviation brigades provide responsive assets for special purpose operations during close, deep, and rear operations. These brigades perform reconnaissance-in-force, raids, deception operations, and search and attack.


The reconnaissance-in-force always is 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. It is a limited-objective operation that obtains information and locates and tests enemy dispositions, strengths, and reactions. 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.

a. During the reconnaissance-in-force mission, the commander must be able to exploit any tactical success. The aviation brigade can exploit that success or extricate other forces. However, aviation forces normally are task-organized with other maneuver forces to execute a reconnaissance-in-force mission. The mission normally is planned and conducted as a deliberate attack.

b. In this operation, the reserve is an ideal mission for portions of the aviation brigade. Despite the terrain, helicopters can move to assist forces in contact much more rapidly than ground forces. The speed and flexibility of the aviation brigade are key in employment as a reserve force during reconnaissance-in-force operations.

c. If the call comes to reinforce and continue the attack, AHC assets place troops on flanks to keep the penetration gap open and reinforce leading elements. Air assault forces quickly position to support lead ground units in contact and greatly increase the momentum. Attack helicopters also stop, delay, or impede enemy reinforcements after air and ground cavalry forces have located them.

d. In extricating the attacking force, AHC assets extract dismounted troops, soldiers from disabled vehicles, and personnel slowed down by captured prisoners or enemy equipment and weapons. Assault helicopters may move troops from one delay position back to the next. Attack helicopters are useful in providing overwatching fires while armor and infantry units disengage and reposition in a delay. They also delay enemy reinforcements from arriving before friendly forces have pulled back across the forward line of own troops (FLOT).

3-42. RAIDS

A raid is a limited-objective attack into enemy territory for a specific purpose other than gaining and holding ground. Raids typically destroy key enemy installations and facilities, capture or free prisoners, or disrupt enemy C2 or support facilities. Aviation brigades may be employed pure to conduct a raid with attack assets. Assault helicopter units can be task-organized under a maneuver headquarters to conduct air assault operations as part of a raid.

a. The raiding force must accomplish its mission and withdraw before the enemy can react. The most common raid missions are-

(1) Rescuing friendly personnel.

(2) Deceiving or harassing enemy forces.

(3) Capturing enemy materiel or prisoners.

(4) Obtaining specific information about the enemy.

(5) Destroying enemy materiel, installations, or personnel.

b. Aviation brigade assets will not usually move with a ground force preparing for a raid because of mobility differences. However, at times, they may meet the ground force at the objective to add firepower and provide security. Attack helicopters destroy, confuse, and divert the enemy and prevent it from being reinforced while the ground force completes its mission.

c. If a major enemy reaction occurs during the raid, attack and assault helicopters assist in the withdrawal or emergency extraction of the ground force. As with the reconnaissance-in-force mission, adding suppressive fires may hold off the enemy reaction force long enough for the ground force to withdraw. Assault helicopters may be the only available means of extracting the ground force in an emergency because of time constraints and terrain limitations. Attack helicopters can provide security while possibly assisting in the destruction of abandoned friendly vehicles.

d. Conducting the raid solely with helicopters is a natural outgrowth of the technological development in helicopters and changes in doctrine. The raiding force normally is composed of attack helicopter units and AHB assets. However, a pure attack helicopter force may perform a mission to destroy a CP or a multiple rocket launcher (MRL) unit. The increasing tactical emphasis on deep operations will cause a greater demand for ATKHBs to conduct raids.

e. During a raid, assault helicopters can insert and extract the raiding force. However, the length of time the force is on the ground makes waiting helicopters vulnerable to attack. Therefore, the force should be inserted by other means-such as airdrop or amphibious landing-and then be extracted by helicopters.


The four recognized types of deception operations are feints, demonstrations, ruses, and displays. The two types of deception operations most commonly performed by the aviation brigade are feints and demonstrations discussed below.

a. Feints. A feint is a supporting attack. It diverts the enemy's attention from the main effort. Cavalry, air reconnaissance, or attack helicopter units normally conduct feints on a limited basis. A feint usually occurs before or during a main attack to deceive the enemy. This deception causes the enemy to move its reserves and shift its fire support to meet the feint; thus, the main attacking force would meet less resistance. During defensive operations, feints often are used independently to keep the enemy moving and to disrupt its preparations for an attack. A series of feints also harasses and confuses the enemy. In some cases, feints cause the enemy to become careless. Units must execute the attack violently to convince the enemy that the feint is the main effort. If the feint penetrates the enemy's defenses, the commander may exploit his unexpected success with follow-on forces or change the course of the main attack to follow the feint. Planning for such contingencies must be made well in advance. The feint does not need to penetrate the FLOT to be effective. A violently executed attack may still cause the enemy to move its reserves and other main forces to the threatened sector.

(1) The feint must appear to be a serious attack. Therefore, helicopters normally associated with an attack must be present. Attack helicopters attack flanks to prevent enemy troops from moving to reinforce the threatened sector. After a breakthrough, they increase the momentum of the attacking force by destroying enemy forces and containing bypassed pockets of resistance. Attack helicopters also participate in the initial attack.

(2) If an unexpected breakthrough is to be reinforced by deploying the reserves or altering the main attack route, helicopters are particularly useful. In either case, the momentum of the attack must be maintained until reinforcements arrive. Meanwhile, assault helicopters move dismounted troops and supplies to the lead unit in contact. Attack helicopters impede, destroy, or delay enemy reinforcements. They also aid the lead ground units in contact by increasing the rate of advance. Cavalry or air reconnaissance forces continue to screen flanks. These forces also report movements of enemy forces and critical information from all sectors.

b. Demonstrations. A demonstration is a show of force in an area in which a decision is not sought. A demonstration threatens attack but does not actually make contact with the enemy intentionally. Any element of the aviation brigade can conduct a demonstration. Assault helicopter assets accompanied by cavalry, air reconnaissance, or attack aircraft create an ideal demonstration that may appear to be an air assault operation.

(1) Demonstrations serve the same purpose as feints even though no contact is made with the enemy. Demonstrations lack the realism of the feint; however, the absence of physical contact with the enemy makes it easier to employ the demonstration force elsewhere. Like all deception operations, demonstrations require-

(a) A thorough knowledge of the enemy and its collection sources.

(b) Integration with friendly plans.

(2) Under normal battlefield conditions, the noise associated with helicopters is a liability. In demonstrations, however, it is the noise that makes helicopters so useful. Helicopters are an effective tool in limited visibility; the noise of moving helicopters-plus a soldier's natural tendency to exaggerate the enemy's numbers-makes this tactic successful. Demonstrations vary greatly in execution.

(3) To convince the enemy that friendly forces are moving from one staging area to another, the aviation brigade may use several empty helicopters to make repeated landings and takeoffs from a likely location. This activity can be combined with vehicular noise; it may be done at night or during adverse weather conditions. As enemy listening posts detect this noise and as enemy radar catches momentary blips moving in the same direction, the enemy may well conclude that a large redeployment is taking place.

(4) In an amphibious assault on an island or a peninsula, helicopters may make repeated landings at one location. These landings may cause the enemy commander to draw some of his forces away from the true assault objective.

(5) Helicopters may also be used to slingload an artillery section into a flank or a deep location for a demonstration. On a nonlinear battlefield, several scenarios may be feasible without directly engaging the enemy. A few artillery pieces that are firing from a decisive sector are located accurately by the enemy by means of radar, crater analysis, or sound sensing. The enemy may mistake this firing for a much greater activity taking place. Also, removing an artillery section before an enemy attack may cause the enemy to move its combat forces in another direction.


Attack aviation assets or air cavalry units search for, and attack, specific targets within generally defined search areas. These missions are conducted when the target location is not known but a general vicinity of the target is estimated. Examples of search and attack missions are-

a. Attack helicopters hunting an isolated theater missile launcher-with supporting vehicles-and destroying them.

b. Air cavalry and light infantry engaging bypassed enemy forces.

c. Aviation and infantry reacting to a Level III threat that has already landed in our rear area.


SECTION XIV. Division Reserve Mission



a. The aviation brigade provides the division commander with another headquarters in which he may build a reserve. Therefore, he may sometimes elect to fight with three brigades forward and configure the reserve around the aviation brigade. The aviation brigade executes the division reserve mission in addition to other mission requirements during close operations. A reserve is a portion of a force that is withheld from action at the beginning of an engagement. Thus, it is available for commitment later at a decisive point and time. When a commander sets a portion of his forces aside as a reserve, he has formulated a plan for these forces. Reserves are not used to redeem failures; reserves are designated by the commander to be committed at a decisive point and time to exploit success or to ensure mission accomplishment. Reserves are employed during offensive and defensive operations. In the offense, reserves exploit success by attacking enemy forces where they are weakest. Reserves reinforce or maintain momentum by passing through or around friendly units held up by enemy forces. Also, reserves can defeat enemy counterattacks. In the defense, reserves reinforce the defense of committed forces. They contain enemy forces that have penetrated friendly defenses. In addition, they counter rear area threats and relieve depleted units. During defensive operations, a reserve force is mainly to regain the initiative through offensive action.


b. The mission of the reserve requires flexibility and agility. Extensive planning, coordination, and liaison are required throughout the higher headquarters' AO. The reserve must be prepared to react anywhere within the higher commander's AO. Employment of the reserve may be to the flanks, rear, or it may execute branches and sequels to the basic plan. The reserve must also be prepared to reinforce the main effort or immediately transition to other operations. The brigade staff must monitor the entire battle area and maintain communications with all elements of the division or corps to anticipate mission requirements. Forces must be postured for continuous operations. As a rule, the size of the reserve force is two echelons below the size of the total force (i.e., for a division, a battalion; for a brigade, a company.)


Figure 3-16. ATKHB employment options



Reserves must be able to move rapidly to seize opportunities on the battlefield. The size of the reserve force depends on METT-T. The size may be at least one-third of the entire force. At the division, the reserve may be composed of a maneuver brigade and the division's aviation assets. At the brigade, the reserve may be made up of a battalion TF with aviation assets placed under OPCON of the brigade. A battalion TF normally has a company team for a reserve. Aviation assets under OPCON of the brigade may be tasked to augment or support a battalion's TF; however, these assets will remain under OPCON of the brigade headquarters.


Aviation forces are ideal for the division reserve mission. As the headquarters for a reserve, the aviation brigade plans missions to contain penetrations during close operations and to destroy enemy forces with counterattacks. When established as the reserve, the brigade normally is augmented with ground maneuver forces to enhance its capabilities for blocking actions and retaining critical terrain. In his planning, the brigade commander organizes combined arms TFs based on the commander's intent and METT-T. He issues "on-order" missions to organic units and units under OPCON that participate in reserve missions. He also plans CS and CSS requirements. As the reserve, the brigade also provides the division commander with a responsive force for conducting deep and rear operations contingencies. The brigade is employed as a reserve in the rear to counter threat incursions. Although the brigade headquarters is in a reserve posture, its subordinate units may remain actively engaged in maneuver, CS, and CSS operations throughout the division sector.


ATKHBs normally are a reserve for the division or a ground brigade. Attack forces may be held in depth initially and respond promptly when needed. They are often the most effective means of reinforcing defenses against armored attacks that have broken through. Because of weather (visibility) limitations and a potentially high AD threat, they should never be the only forces held in reserve. During offensive operations, attack helicopter forces are most often employed as a reserve during exploitation and pursuit.

a.In an exploitation, the ATKHB is employed as part of a larger force. As ground forces succeed offensively, the ATKHB disrupts and destroys enemy armor, artillery, C2 assets, and CSS and other enemy forces attempting to reorganize.

b.In a pursuit, the ATKHB again forms part of a larger force. Ground forces continuously pressure the rear area of the withdrawing enemy. At the same time, attack helicopter forces attack along the flanks or move into blocking positions with AATFs blocking the enemy's line of retreat.

c. In the defense, attack helicopter forces mass to destroy enemy penetrations of friendly defenses. While ground forces engage the enemy from defensive positions, attack helicopter units maneuver to the flank and rear units of the enemy to attack in depth.


With ground forces, assault helicopter units seize key terrain along an axis of advance for a friendly attack during offensive operations. They may seize and secure bridges, tunnels, and choke points that-if held by the enemy-could slow the attack. During the offense, assault helicopter forces may move friendly ground forces to the flanks of enemy forces as they withdraw and friendly forces continue their destruction during an exploitation. In a pursuit, AATFs seize a blocking position to close the enemy's lines of communication and to prevent enemy counterattacking units from entering the engagement. During the defense, assault helicopter forces seize key terrain and occupy blocking positions along the areas of enemy penetrations. In occupying a blocking position, the AATF gives the commander time and space so that he can reposition his resources to destroy the penetration. The TF also allows the commander to retain the bulk of his reserves for a counterattack elsewhere so that he can regain the initiative. Assault helicopter forces move ground forces to the enemy's point of attack or maneuver quickly to the flanks of the enemy and counterattack.

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