The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Chapter 4

Stability Operations and Support Operations




4-1. Stability operations and support operations are activities in peacetime and conflict that do not necessarily involve armed clashes between two organized forces. Stability operations and support operations activities are outlined in FMs 17-95, 100-5, 100-20, 71-100, 1-100 and 1-111.

4-2. Air cavalry squadrons may deploy under the control of their parent unit or as the aviation element of another HHQ. These HHQ may include another brigade, division and/or corps headquarters, an ARFOR headquarters, or a JTF headquarters. When deployed with the regiment or an aviation brigade, the squadron will normally consist of only its organic assets and draw support from the brigade and/or regiment. When not deployed with a higher aviation headquarters, the squadron can act as an ATF headquarters but must be task organized with significant attachments of CS and CSS elements.

4-3. During some operations, squadrons can expect to work with government, host nation, or international agencies. These agencies may not have the military style chain-of-command to which soldiers are accustomed. Prior coordination and flexibility are key to mission success. Chain of command, support responsibility, reporting requirements, and the authority to approve specific actions must be clearly understood by all parties prior to initiating the mission.

4-4. In stability operations and support operations, the majority of missions are often focused on the efforts of CS and CSS units. These units will frequently be the main effort, while combat units become the supporting effort. For example, air cavalry could provide route security for a government agency transporting critical medical supplies.

4-5. Stability operations and support operations require accurate intelligence on terrain, facilities, and potential hostile forces to be successful. These operations require in-depth situational awareness at all levels of command and restraint in the application of combat force. Extensive force protection measures to minimize the vulnerability of friendly forces are necessary due to the politically sensitive nature of most stability operations and support operations. Air cavalry's ability to collect timely intelligence through reconnaissance and protect the force by performing security operations gives them a key role in stability operations and support operations.

4-6. The majority of missions given to air cavalry squadrons during stability operations and support operations will either conform to or build upon their standard reconnaissance and security roles. Generally, the major differences in unit operations during stability operations and support operations will be in the C relationships between the squadron and its HHQ and the greater requirement for restraint in potentially hostile situations.


4-7. Army doctrine is based on the principles of war. Stability operations and support operations also have principles that guide commander's actions. The six principles of stability operations and support operations are-

  • Objective. Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. Military objectives must be in line with political objectives to accomplish the operational or strategic goals.
  • Unity of effort. All elements must work toward efficiently accomplishing the common objective.
  • Legitimacy. Sustain the willing acceptance by the people of the right of the government to govern or of a group or agency to make and carry out decisions.
  • Perseverance. Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capability in support of strategic aims.
  • Restraint. Apply appropriate military capability prudently.
  • Security. Never permit hostile factions to acquire an unexpected advantage.

4-8. The application of each principle will vary depending on the specific operations. Commanders must understand these principles, as they may be designated as ATF commanders in stability operations and support operations. These principles are explained in-depth in FM 100-5.


4-9. There are several key employment guidelines provided in FM 1-111 for the aviation commander to consider in the planning process. The current ACS doctrinal roles and missions as outlined in this manual also apply in the stability operations and support operations environment. The air cavalry commander will have to tailor his mission and assets as the situation requires.

4-10. The unit should expect a wide variety in the tempo of operations and plan accordingly. A staff must be able to adjust rapidly to many different operational considerations. The unit must plan ahead and have developed contingency plans for numerous situations not normally addressed in the unit's METL. These can be identified and trained for at home station with STX. Some subjects that should be addressed are civilians on the battlefield, media relations and public affairs, and defense against terrorism.

4-11. The operational conditions of stability operations and support operations frequently require the integration of specialty personnel with the aviation unit staff, including civil affairs, psychological operations, SJA, and special forces personnel. Besides the specialty staff personnel, the units may be required to operate with infantry, armor, artillery, engineer, CSS, or a combination of these assets. Whatever the composition, the unit must have a fully integrated staff that can coordinate and plan operations. Liaison officers from the squadron to other units and from supporting units to the squadron will be critical.

4-12. The AC process, civil and military laws, airspace restrictions, radio frequency usage, ground convoy clearances, aircraft operating time restrictions, flight clearances, refueling procedures, and product disposal procedures vary in almost every country in the world. The aviation unit commander must be prepared to adapt his unit to the host nation operating environment or operational considerations. Serious complications can develop when host nation requirements are not met by the force, possibly resulting in restrictions on the unit or even mission failure. In some situations, Army aviation conducting stability operations and support operations may be required to be included on the air component commander's air tasking order to ensure situational awareness and reduce the possibility of fratricide.

4-13. The squadron commander must clearly understand the ROE and be prepared for them to change at any time during an operation. All personnel should be briefed on the ROE prior to every mission. For ROE assistance, the unit commander should consult with the SJA representative. The aviation unit commander should plan for an SJA representative to deploy with the force.




4-14. The two categories in which a cavalry squadron could expect to be employed are stability operations and support operations. During stability operations, the squadron would primarily perform its METL related tasks and be prepared for the potential escalation to full-armed conflict. During support operations, the squadron would use the capabilities of its combat systems to increase the effectiveness of the overall effort. Again, squadrons must be prepared for renewed hostilities or civil disorder. The RAS can expect to perform the same missions as the DCS, but the flexibility of its AHT leads to additional air movement, utility, and general support missions that the RAS may be tasked to perform. In addition, many of these missions will be performed as an integrated piece of the overall U.S. military capability-often in conjunction with forces from other nations, other U.S. agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and United Nations forces. Therefore, leaders should familiarize themselves with basic joint operational procedures and terms.


4-15. There are seven types of operations that have some potential to result in armed conflict, therefore involving air cavalry combat capabilities.


4-16. A show of force is a mission carried out to demonstrate U.S. resolve in which U.S. forces deploy to diffuse a volatile situation that may be detrimental to U.S. interests. It may take the form of combined training exercises, rehearsals, forward deployments of military forces, or introduction and buildup of military forces in a region. Air cavalry assets (mobility, flexibility, agility, and firepower) make them ideal for employment in such operations. Typical missions would include area and route security, screen, and tactical demonstration.


4-17. NEO relocates threatened civilian noncombatants from locations in a foreign country or host nation. NEO may be conducted in a peaceful, orderly fashion or may require forcible means. Noncombatants may be evacuated by a ground maneuver force or by using aviation. KWs can conduct reconnaissance to aid in locating noncombatants and provide security for all stages of their assembly and movement.


4-18. The U.S. military has the lead role in detection and monitoring of drug trafficking activities outside U.S. territory and plays a major supporting role to the interagency community involved in counterdrug operations. Air cavalry may be used to support interdiction efforts by monitoring and detecting drug movements, locating production facilities, and reconnaissance of suspected drug production areas at night under FLIR, TIS, and NVDs. The Posse Comitatus Act restricts active duty military units from performing certain reconnaissance functions when these operations are conducted within CONUS. SJA augmentation may be required.


4-19. U.S. forces may directly support a host nation's counterinsurgency operations.


4-20. Combating terrorism includes the full range of offensive measures taken to deter, prevent, and respond to enemy activity. Air cavalry conducts area security of key locations and route and/or convoy security along critical LOCs to detect or deter enemy activity.


4-21. These operations are conducted in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between hostile factions. Since peace enforcement implies the use of force or its threat to coerce hostile factions to cease hostilities, a squadron assigned to support these efforts must be prepared to apply combat power to restore order, separate warring factions, and return civil order and discipline. Air cavalry units can expect R&S missions and security missions to protect the U.S. and allied forces involved, in addition to tightly controlled applications of force.


4-22. The Army conducts attacks and raids to create situations that permit seizing and maintaining political and military initiative. Attacks by conventional air, ground, and aviation forces independently or in conjunction with SOF are used to destroy high value targets or demonstrate U.S. capability or resolve. Aviation forces will conduct these attacks and raids with attack or assault helicopter units, or both, often with air cavalry reconnaissance and security elements.



4-23. These operations support diplomatic efforts to maintain peace in an area of potential conflict. Peacekeeping differs from peace enforcement in that it is conducted with the consent of all parties involved. Air and ground assets are normally employed in screening a demilitarized zone.


4-24. When disaster relief, refugee assistance, or damage control missions are conducted outside OCONUS they are categorized as humanitarian assistance operations. These missions can be performed in response to foreign or international agency requests for immediate help. Air cavalry elements may be employed to augment C requirements, search for casualties, assess damage, and prevent looting and disorder. The requirements for force protection and security should not be disregarded because hostile factions within a country may oppose these efforts.


4-25. These are humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions that are conducted in CONUS. The squadron's effort with those of the civilian authorities requires effective coordination and liaison.


Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias