Find a Security Clearance Job!



Army Airspace
Command and Control

Successful battles and engagements may depend on how effectively airspace over the air-land battlefield is utilized. Within this airspace, a high density of friendly weapons systems and aerial vehicles, with overlapping operating envelopes and flight profiles, must contribute to maximum combat effectiveness without interfering with each other. Airspace control maximizes force effectiveness without hindering the combat power of any friendly combatant.


Army airspace command and control consists of those actions that ensure the synchronized use of airspace and enhance the command and control of those forces using airspace. The A²C² system includes those organizations, personnel, facilities, and procedures required to perform the airspace control function. The A²C² system, when linked with the airspace control authority (ACA) by communications, standardized procedures, and liaison, becomes part of the theater integrated airspace control system.

The airspace control function consists of coordination, integration, and regulation of the use of airspace of defined dimensions. It also provides for identification of all airspace users. Coordination is that degree of authority necessary to achieve effective, efficient, and flexible use of airspace. Through integration, requirements for the use of this airspace are consolidated to achieve a common objective at the lowest possible level. Through regulation, activities in this airspace are supervised to prevent real-time conflicts among the various airspace users while achieving the necessary flexibility to ensure the greatest combat effectiveness. Identification promotes timely engagement of enemy aircraft while reducing the potential of fratricide.


AirLand Battle, the US Army's basic warfighting doctrine, prescribes the use of all weapons, arms, and services fighting to the full width and depth of the battlefield. The very term AirLand Battle recognizes the inherent third dimension of modern warfare. The basic tenets of the Army's warfighting doctrine--initiative, agility, depth, and synchronization--describe the characteristics of successful combat operations. These four tenets, especially synchronization, require airspace control and an effective airspace control system.

Synchronization begins by determining the desired effect or outcome to be achieved. Synchronization achieves the commander's desired effect by combining various elements of diverse, concurrent, or sequential combat power and actions integrated across the width, depth, and vertical dimensions of the battlefield to defeat enemy strengths throughout the area of operations. This synchronized application of combat power is planned and coordinated around the commander's concept of operations. Coordination, the adjustment of activities to one another, is a primary requirement for synchronized operations, as is concentration, the application of combat power at a specific place and time.

Army airspace command and control is the Army's operational approach to accomplishing the functional activity of airspace coordination. A²C² maximizes joint force effectiveness by ensuring the concurrent employment of airspace users, synchronized in time, space, and purpose to produce maximum combat power at the decisive point. The commander and his staff must address airspace control considerations during the planning for and the conduct of offensive and defensive operations. The commander's tactical plan must address the effective utilization of airspace above a unit's area of operations. It must coordinate air and ground movements in support of the scheme of maneuver with supporting fires, reconnaissance and surveillance operations, air defense operations, supporting tactical air operations, and sustainment operations, where such operations require the shared and synchronized use of airspace.

The Army exercises command and control over its forces in an area of operations assigned by the joint force commander (JFC). The airspace above the joint force area of operations and the Army's area of operations is the airspace control area. This is the basic geographical element of airspace. An airspace control sector is a subelement of the airspace control area and is established to facilitate the control of the overall area. Airspace control sector boundaries normally coincide with the air defense organization subdivision boundaries. Airspace may be further divided by airspace control measures and restricted areas.

Within a joint force area of operations, the JFC assigns overall responsibility and authority for airspace control to a single component commander. Normally, this is the joint force air component commander (JFACC). The mission of the airspace control authority (ACA) is to coordinate and integrate the use of airspace within the joint area of operations (airspace control area). Because of the close relationship between airspace control and air defense, the ACA normally is also the area air defense commander (AADC). Subject to the authority of the JFC, the ACA establishes the broad policies and procedures for the employment of airspace control operations and the coordination, as required, among units operating in the area of operations. As the JFC assigns missions to subordinate component commanders, he also determines priorities for the use of airspace, when required, and resolves conflicts over the use of that airspace which can not be resolved through coordination. (For further discussion of duties of the ACA, refer to FM 100-42.)

Airspace control involves four basic functional activities--command and control, air defense, some aspects of fire support coordination, and air traffic control. The A²C² system must--

  • Expedite accomplishment of the tactical and operational mission by providing the procedures and current directives necessary to accomplish the mission, while minimizing the potential hazards due to friendly air defense, indirect fires, Army aircraft, unmanned air vehicles, and tactical air operations. This is a basic command and control task.

  • Ensure that air defense weapons are free to engage all hostile aircraft within prescribed rules of engagement while avoiding engagement of friendly aircraft. Airspace control must facilitate identification of aircraft through procedures easily executed by the pilot and identified by the air defense system. Air defense operations must not cause delays in air support by creating complicated or lengthy air route structure.

  • Ensure that ground-based fire support weapons systems are responsive to the maneuver commander and free to fire without posing an operational hazard to friendly aircraft operations.

  • Provide air traffic regulation and identification within assigned area of operations or designated areas. Air traffic regulation is a corollary of air defense. The commander of the unified command, theater, or joint task force establishes the general priorities and restraints with due regard for the requirements of all users of the airspace. The air defense commander must have the capability to ensure that friendly aircraft may enter, depart, or move within the defended areas without undue restrictions upon their movements and with the least adverse impact upon the offensive and defensive capabilities of the command. The regulation of air traffic facilitates identification of aerial platforms, promotes air safety, and contributes to the optimum use of air defense weapons against hostile targets.

Ground tactical commanders must have the freedom to use the airspace over their forces and must have maximum flexibility to use organic and supporting assets within that airspace within the limitations imposed by the JFC. Key to this requirement is a responsive A²C² system, standardization, minimal restrictions, and close and continuous coordination among all airspace users.


To be successful in future conflicts, the Army requires a system that permits commanders to execute their battles unhindered by other operations. The AirLand battle will be fought in all three dimensions. In addition, the ground commander must plan to execute deep, rear, and close operations. The ground commander will be required to coordinate combat, combat support, and combat service support (CSS) forces simultaneously. Potential users of the airspace include fire support assets, Army aviation, air defense (AD), and US and allied air forces. Each must be permitted to maximize its combat potential. Just as the ground commander must anticipate and coordinate his requirements for ground maneuver elements, he must also anticipate and coordinate requirements for users of airspace in his area of operations.

The objective of A²C² is to ensure the most effective employment of combat power by those airspace users whose unrestricted use of airspace might result in the loss of friendly air assets. Conversely, A²C² must integrate air assets into the ground battle without unduly inhibiting the application of ground-based combat power.

The accuracy and lethality of enemy AD systems will force many airspace users to seek protection by operating at very low altitudes when they are near the forward line of own troops (FLOT). The resulting high density of airspace users in confined airspace near the FLOT will require a command and control (C²) system that facilitates the concurrent employment of aircraft in areas where they can be separated from other airspace users in time and space or at least be ensured of minimum risk from conflicting with other airspace users.

Functional operations which require airspace and must be integrated and synchronized with other friendly combatant forces by means of the A²C² system include--

  • Fire support operations,

  • Air defense artillery (ADA) operations,

  • Army aviation operations,

  • Special electronic mission aircraft (SEMA)operations,

  • Heliborne electronic warfare operations,

  • Remotely piloted vehicle operations,

  • Intratheater airlift operations,

  • Amphibious operations, and

  • Joint and combined arms operations.


Aviation provides an unprecedented capability to the commander. The mobility of aviation forces allows Army aviation to be highly responsive across the entire battlefield in a wide variety of combat, combat support, and combat service support roles.

Aviation is virtually dependent upon the unforgiving medium of airspace to accomplish its roles and missions. The medium of airspace is used by other forces to conduct high-speed maneuver, deliver fires, and employ FAAD weapons. The unrestricted use of airspace by all forces poses an operational hazard. Airspace control is required basically to reduce the potential loss of friendly air assets, and to enhance the flexible and effective use of this operational medium by all forces.

Air vehicles achieve their agility by virtue of their freedom from restrictions of the terrain. To achieve the protective advantages of terrain, air movement and maneuver are fitted to the terrain in much the same manner as ground forces. Army aviation operations are generally conducted in the terrain flight dimension of the battlefield, which is fundamentally linked to ground maneuver at all echelons. Through airspace command and control, the commander fully synchronizes his combat activities and employs his aviation assets and air maneuver to contribute decisively to the outcome of the battle.

Aviation units are organized to conduct attack, air assault, reconnaissance, intelligence, and logistical operations. They are assigned to echelons above corps, corps, divisions, and armored cavalry regiments. Airspace requirements for Army aviation cover a broad category of units and special requirements. Aircraft assigned to the aerial exploitation battalion (AEB) and operating out of the corps rear area have unique airspace requirements. Aviation units operating primarily in the communications zone (COMMZ) and corps rear areas have different requirements than those operating in the division area and forward.

In forward portions of the area of operations where close and deep operations are conducted (division rear boundary forward), airspace requirements are normally governed by the threat. Aviation units maneuver over the battlefield, operating below the coordinating altitude, using terrain flight and standardized movement techniques. Attack helicopters and air cavalry, and aviation companies involved in air assault operations, normally conduct combat operations as a tactical formation (unit) and respond to the tactical directions of an aviation command and control system. As such, ACA policy and procedures concerning air traffic management, identification of airspace users, and flight following are implemented differently than for aircraft operating in the COMMZ and corps rear area, or in an area designated as controlled airspace. Aviation elements of corps and echelons above corps normally conduct combat service support missions as small elements or individual flight crews. As such, they operate under their own control rather than under the control of their parent command and control system. When operating in the main battle area, these aircraft must communicate and coordinate with the commander of the area of operations that they are transiting over, or that they are supporting.

In the main battle area, air traffic generally operates in the terrain flight environment. Aircraft must be free to provide rapid, flexible response to the requirements of the commander. This mandates tactical flexibility in airspace control procedures. Aviation units in this area employ procedural control measures. Attack helicopter battalions and air cavalry units exercise procedural control over forces through the command and control system. They use such techniques as assignment of objectives and use of sectors or zones, axis of advance, phase lines, boundaries, battle positions, assembly areas, forward arming and refueling points (FARPs), attack positions, and other standard operational procedures.

In the rear operations area (division rear boundary to corps rear boundary), air traffic usually transits along axes perpendicular to the FLOT between division support areas, key corps support command facilities (major base clusters), airfields, and command and control sites. Movement is usually predictable, follows routes which afford ease of navigation, provides masking from the threat, avoids restricted areas and other hazards, and is at greater flight altitudes. Aircraft operations are managed primarily by adhering to standard airspace control measures and more positive means of control. Adherence to IFF procedures, flight following requirements, and monitoring air traffic services facilities has greater emphasis in this area. Additional coordination is required when transiting through airspace subsectors. (For further information on aviation operations, refer to FM 1-100.)


Fires from mortars, cannon and rocket artillery, and guided missiles pose a potential hazard to friendly aircraft activities. The highest probability of conflict between aircraft and surface-to-surface indirect weapons fire occurs at relatively low altitudes in the immediate vicinity of firing battery (platoon) locations and target impact areas.

The field artillery facilitates the rapid engagement of targets and, at the same time, provides safeguards for friendly forces by using fire support coordination measures and a network of fire support teams, liaison parties, and fire support elements (FSEs). Fire support coordination measures allow fire support systems to discriminate friendly from enemy employ fires across boundaries, and coordinate the joint engagement of targets. Interface between FSE and A²C² element representatives ensures requirements are coordinated rapidly and information exchanged.

To reduce potential conflicts between surface-to-surface indirect fires and aircraft, information pertaining to firing battery locations and fire support plans and activities is provided to the A²C² element. The A²C² element disseminates this information to all aviation, air traffic services (ATS), and tactical air elements. Additionally, the close interface between the FSE and the A²C² element ensures that planned artillery fires are routinely coordinated with air operations, and planned air activities are coordinated with ground operations. Such coordination is essential so that fires, air operations, and ground operations do not interfere with each other. For example, an uncoordinated deep attack by the Army fire support system against an enemy force could result in an unexpected repositioning of threat air defense just prior to a planned air strike. Similarly, an uncoordinated air mission beyond the fire support coordination line (FSCL) could disrupt and delay precisely the wrong enemy force and, in the process, interfere with the ground scheme of maneuver. (For further information on fire support coordination and coordination measures, refer to FM 6-20).


Air defense artillery fires are controlled by rules and procedures established by the area air defense commander. The AADC manages the air battle and the integrated air defense system through a combination of command and control systems (positive control) and procedures (procedural control). Two categories of air defense command and control procedures that impact on A²C² are rules of engagement and supplemental fire control measures.

Rules of engagement are the positive and procedural management directives which specify the circumstances and limitations under which air defense artillery forces initiate or continue combat engagements. There are seven components of rules of engagement. These components are--

  • Right of self-defense,

  • Hostile criteria,

  • Level of control,

  • Weapons control status,

  • Modes of control,

  • Autonomous operations, and

  • Fire control orders.

Supplemental fire control measures for air defense artillery include--

  • Air defense operations area,

  • Weapons engagement zone,

  • High-density airspace control zone (HIDACZ), and

  • Temporary airspace restrictions.

Air battle management includes airspace control as well as air defense command and control. Generally, two basic methods have been established to exercise air battle management--positive management and procedural management. Positive management relies upon real-time data from radars; identification, friend or foe (IFF); computers; digital data links; and communications equipment. Procedural management relies upon the use of tactics, techniques, and procedures, such as airspace segmented by volume and time, and use of rules of engagement and weapons control statuses.

In forward area air defense (FAAD), the primary goal of airspace control is to avoid engaging friendly fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft while imposing as few constraints as possible on both aircraft and FAAD systems. Achieving this goal involves the development of procedures to be employed by FAAD and aircraft as well as a command and control system to support the timely dissemination of procedural information.

Army ADA operations are controlled from command posts (CPs) established at Army AD command through platoon levels. The fire direction centers (FDCs) coordinating the fire of Hawk and Patriot fire units are located at ADA brigade and battalion levels. The FDCs are supported by local radars and automated C² systems tied either to the Air Force control and reporting center (CRC) or the control and reporting post (CRP) of the sector. Chaparral, Vulcan, and Stinger CPs operate manually and depend on voice communications and procedural methods of control. The FDCs and CPs are key ADA control facilities in the corps and division areas and are integral parts of the A²C² system. (For further information on ADA operations, refer to FM 44-1.)


The corps relies on the military intelligence (MI) brigade to satisfy much of its information needs. Brigade ground-based systems support the divisions and focus on close-in targets. Aerial SEMA collection assets provide general support to the corps concentrating on deeper targets.

The SEMA assets of the MI brigade are assigned to the aerial exploitation battalion. These SEMA assets include the Guardrail and Quick Look systems of the aviation company (electronic warfare), and side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) aircraft of the aviation company (aerial surveillance). (For additional information on the AEB, refer to FM 34-22.)

The AEB SEMA assets conduct flight operations in airspace generally within the corps area of operations, well behind the FLOT and above the coordinating altitude. Flight profiles for these aircraft are situationally dependent and are based on mission requirements, aircraft and sensor capabilities, weather, and the threat from surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft.


Quick Fix is a tactical, heliborne intercept and electronic countermeasures system deployed on a modified utility helicopter. Quick Fix helicopters are organic to the division, separate brigade, and armored cavalry regiment.

As with SEMA airspace requirements, Quick Fix flight profiles are situationally dependent on mission requirements, aircraft and system capabilities, air defense threat, and weather. A flight profile requires airspace within the division or corps area of operations and at altitudes above the coordinating altitude. In addition to its airspace requirements, Quick Fix requires the monitoring of electronic warfare (EW) operations to coordinate the use of the electromagnetic spectrum by all forces.


Remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) are assigned to RPV batteries, which are assigned to the corps field artillery. RPV batteries are normally attached to a division to support target acquisition and intelligence missions.

The RPV battery contains the air vehicles, ground forward control stations (FCSs), central launch and recovery sections (CLRSs), and battery headquarters elements. When the battery is attached to a division, the allocation of CLRSs and FCSs, as well as RPV time, is determined by the division G3 in coordination with the G2, fire support officer, and RPV battery commander.

The CLRS is normally positioned near the brigade rear boundary. The CLRS conducts the launch, recovery, and hand off to the FCS of the air vehicles. The FCS controls the RPV flight from a forward position near the FLOT. Employment depth, altitude, and mission duration (flight profile) are governed by weather mission requirements, visibility, fuel capacity of the air vehicle, and data link limitations between the FCS and the vehicle.

Because of their small size, agility, and limited ability to see-and-avoid other aircraft, RPVs pose a limited operational hazard to manned aircraft operating within the same general area. Army helicopters and low-flying close air support (CAS) aircraft generally operate at altitudes below the RPV flight profile. The only area they must avoid is that airspace within the general area of the CLRS. There are situations where CAS, battlefield air interdiction (BAI)/air interdiction (AI), and tactical reconnaissance aircraft may be operating at the same altitude and within the same area as the RPV. Resolution of airspace conflicts must be accomplished to avoid operational conflicts, and procedural or positive measures employed as appropriate. If an RPV unit is supporting the division, the RPV battery commander must be an on-call member of the division A²C² element.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being introduced into the Army force structure. The intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) unmanned aerial vehicle is designed to satisfy IEW requirements. The IEW UAV will be organic to the corps military intelligence brigade and to selected commands. The IEW UAV differs from the fire support system RPV in that the IEW UAV system will operate out of the corps or division rear area; it will operate at greater depths forward of the FLOT, and for longer durations; and it will have different launch and recovery procedures.

Airspace control considerations and requirements for IEW UAV operations are generally similar to those addressed for RPV operations. The A²C² system coordinates and integrates UAV airspace requirements through close and continuous interface among the A²C² element, the IEW UAV element and its parent headquarters, and the intelligence cell of the corps main CP.


Airlift refers to air transport of supplies, personnel, and equipment by Army rotary wing aircraft and by Air Force intratheater fixed-wing aircraft. Airlift operations include all missions except those involving the movement of combat forces to contact in an objective area. Airlift operations support requirements of all components of a joint force. Airlift forces, Army and Air Force, have airspace utilization requirements which must be considered by airlift planners and by airspace control systems of supported and supporting elements.

The theater COMMZ normally has main and intermediate operating bases (airfields) capable of accepting large intertheater aircraft of the Air Force Military Airlift Command. While the Air Force controls the air terminals, Army aviation may also use these airfields for their airlift operations.

The corps area normally contains small austere airfields that handle intratheater Air Force aircraft as well as Army aviation forces supporting airlift requirements. Unless the division area is relatively fixed, it normally does not have airfields that can accept Air Force aircraft conducting routine airlift support. Intratheater fixed-wing aircraft fly airlift missions in support of close and deep operations using air-land or airdrop delivery methods. The employment of airlift forward of the brigade rear boundary is a command decision based on available assets, mission priority, and factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops and time available (METT-T). Army rotary-wing aircraft of the corps and division aviation brigade conduct airlift operations throughout the division area, and in support of deep operations.

Airspace requirements for airlift missions within the corps or division area require coordination between airlift managers and planners and members of the A²C² team. These key individuals include the corps and division movement control officer (MCO), transportation officer, liaison officer provided by the aviation brigade (when aviation assets are under operational control (OPCON) of the MCO for logistical missions), tactical airlift liaison officer, and members of the appropriate A²C² elements. The A²C² system, as part of the theater integrated airspace control system, coordinates airspace requirements, establishes the necessary routes and such measures as drop zone restricted operating areas, and provides navigational aids (NAVAIDS) and air traffic services. Air Force combat control teams (CCTs) support the conduct of deep airlift operations. The mission of the CCT is to establish assault drop zones, landing zones, and extraction zones in austere and high threat environments. This mission includes placing initial en route and terminal navigation aids and providing air traffic control. Army ATS units and facilities within the corps and division area also provide this support for all intratheater airlift aircraft. (For further information on airlift operations, refer to FM 100-27 and FM 55-40.)


Army forces participating in amphibious operations exercise airspace control techniques and procedures under the guidance and direction of the commander, amphibious task force (CATF). The joint force commander assigns to the CATF the amphibious objective area, which includes airspace of defined proportions. To ensure unity of effort in overall airspace control, the CATF coordinates airspace control operations within the defined airspace with the ACA responsible for airspace control in the surrounding airspace control area. At the termination of the amphibious operation, the assigned airspace is disestablished, and the airspace control functions are transferred to the ACA for that designated area or sector.

The naval tactical air control system (NTACS) contains those naval command, control, and communications facilities responsible for airspace control functions during amphibious operations. The major elements of the NTACS include:

  • Tactical air control center (TACC).

  • Tactical air direction center (TADC).

  • Supporting arms coordination center (SACC) (similar to the Army's fire support element).

  • Air support control section (ASCS) (similar functions as the Air Force's air support operations center).

  • Antiair warfare section (AWS) (similar functions as the control and reporting center).

  • Helicopter direction center.

Army forces operating within the amphibious objective area with requirements to use airspace interface with the CATF's tactical air control system through the elements of the A²C² system in the same manner as with the Air Force tactical air control system (TACS). Liaison and the collocation of functional elements provide timely coordination and integration of airspace users.

As the tactical situation develops and command and control agencies of the amphibious task force are established ashore, control of gunfire and missile support transfers from the CATF to the landing force commander. At the discretion of the CATF, control of air operations in the amphibious objective area passes to the appropriate commander ashore.

With selected control functions transferred to the landing force, Army forces ashore in the amphibious objective area coordinate fire support, air operations, and air defense, as these functions affect airspace, with the appropriate command and control elements of the landing force commander.

If the landing force commander is the commander of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), the two airspace control facilities within the MAGTF with which the A²C² system must interface are the direct air support center (DASC) and the tactical air operations center (TAOC). The TAOC is the senior facility responsible for air defense and air traffic control. The DASC is equivalent to the division A²C² element and the air support operations center at corps. The DASC is collocated with the MAGTF fire support coordination center; aircraft conducting close air support missions are controlled by this element. (For further information on amphibious operations, refer to FM 31-11.)


Coordination and integration of Army airspace operational requirements with those of other component and national forces are conducted at all echelons of command. This coordination and integration effort is accomplished primarily through the interface by the A²C² system with the tactical air control systems of the other component and national forces.


The integrated airspace control system within a joint force is an arrangement of those organizations, personnel, facilities policies, and procedures required to perform airspace control functions. The ACA fulfills his responsibilities through the integrated airspace control system. This system is structured around the Air Force tactical air control system (TACS) and includes the Army airspace command and control system (A²C²). If the joint force includes US Marine Corps or US Navy Forces, their air command and control systems are integrated into the airspace control system.


The USAF TACS (Figure 1-1) is the organization, personnel, procedures, and equipment necessary to plan, direct, and control tactical air operations and to coordinate air operations with other services and allied forces. It is comprised of control agencies and communications-electronics facilities that provide the means for centralized control and decentralized execution of combat operations. Airspace control is a function of many elements of the TACS. The following paragraphs describe the organization and responsibilities of the generic TACS elements to illustrate the various functions of airspace control in a combat zone. Within established theaters, elements of the TACS may be given different names, or their functions may be performed by different organizations, but all basic airspace control functions are provided.

Tactical Air Control Center. The TACC is the senior air operations element of the TACS. Its functions include the centralized planning, directing, controlling, and coordinating of air operations for the JFACC within the designated area of operations. Within the TACC, the airspace control center is the focus for the ACA responsibilities.

The TACC is responsible for formulating airspace control procedures and coordinating airspace control activities that complement planned tactical mission requirements. The TACC also coordinates airspace use and ensures that airspace control plans are compatible with current operational requirements and capabilities. In joint operations, the TACC includes the battlefield coordination element (BCE) representing the LCC.

Airspace Control Center. The airspace control center is the element within the TACC through which the ACA coordinates and integrates the use of airspace in a combat area. The airspace control center is manned with Air Force AD and air traffic control (ATC) personnel. This allows for the development of an airspace control plan that integrates air defense and ATC. The airspace control center is responsible for--

  • Formulating ATC policies, plans, and procedures and coordinating ATC activities that complement planned tactical mission requirements.

  • Coordinating airspace utilization with other component air traffic control agencies.

  • Ensuring that air traffic control plans are compatible with current operational capabilities.

  • Obtaining appropriate representation from the other agencies and components to man and operate the airspace management liaison section (AMLS) of the airspace control center. Army personnel from the BCE's A²C² section provide this representation.

  • Evaluating requests and establishing airspace restrictions and special procedures for the use of airspace.

  • Coordinating and publishing the airspace control order (ACO).

Control and Reporting Center. The CRC is directly subordinate to the TACC and is the primary TACS radar element concerned with decentralized execution of air defense and airspace control functions. Within its area of responsibility, the CRC directs the region or sector air defense; provides threat warnings to friendly aircraft; provides aircraft guidance or monitoring for both offensive and defensive missions; relays mission changes to airborne aircraft; coordinates control of missions with subordinate TACS elements and other agencies; and provides positive identification of aircraft.

Liaison is established with other components to secure airspace usage data from related control systems. For example, the Army flight operations center (FOC) liaison element is collocated or electronically linked with the CRC.

The CRC detects and identifies hostile airborne objects, recommends changes in air defense warning conditions, specifies weapons status, and scrambles or diverts air defense capable aircraft. During joint operations, the CRC assigns appropriate hostile airborne targets to the Army air defense system through the air defense liaison officer (ADLO) located within the CRC.

Airspace control is a function of the CRC. As the manager of the airspace control function, the CRC battle commander has the following specific responsibilities:

  • Implement guidance from higher authority on airspace and tactical control procedures and advise the TACC of necessary changes to current operating procedures.

  • Coordinate the use of airspace with appropriate air defense agencies.

  • Coordinate procedures with terminal air traffic control elements within his assigned sector.

Message Processing Center. The TACS MPC provides the automatic transfer of tactical data over digital data links between elements of the TACS, including airborne warning and control system (AWACS), and other component command and control systems.

Control and Reporting Post. The CRP is subordinate to the CRC and provides radar surveillance and control within an assigned subsector. The CRP has capabilities similar to the CRC and may assume CRC functions when directed. One or more CRPs may be employed, depending on area size, terrain features, and anticipated level of air operations.

Airspace Management Liaison Section. Airspace management liaison sections are established at appropriate elements within the airspace control system and are manned by Army personnel along with representatives from other components involved to include Allied representation. The AMLS coordinates for operational commanders airspace requirements and requests for establishment of special procedures for the use of airspace. These sections also assist the ACA in coordinating and integrating flight operations and air warning information of the components.

Forward Air Control Post. The FACP is a mobile radar element subordinate to the CRCC or CRP. It normally deploys into forward areas to extend radar coverage and to provide control of air operations, early warning, and gap-filler service. Because of its mobile and compact design the FACP can move quickly to provide required radar coverage in changing tactical situations.

Airborne Elements of the Tactical Air Control System. The AETACS consists of the airborne battlefield command control center (ABCCC) and the AWACS. The ABCCC is an airborne control element of the TACS which provides the capability to control and coordinate the execution of tactical air operations in forward battle areas, normally to extend control beyond the range of ground-based TACS elements. The ABCCC may also function as an airborne air support operations center (ASOC) or as a limited TACC during the early stages of a contingency until the TACC is employed.

The AWACS is an airborne control element of a TACS that provides global mobility and a high degree of command and control flexibility. The AWACS may be used during the deployment, employment, or redeployment phases of tactical air operations. The AWACS extends radar and radio coverage beyond that attainable by ground elements. This permits air defense warning, aircraft control navigational assistance, coordination of air rescue efforts, and changes to tactical missions at distances well beyond the FLOT. In addition, AWACS can perform airspace control functions until ground-based TACS facilities are positioned, or during degraded operations. The AWACS may also be used in operations of short duration that do not warrant the use of ground elements or when the tactical, political, or geographic situation denies access to secure land areas. The TACC normally manages the employment of AWACS assets in support of both offensive and defensive operations.

Tactical Air Control Party. The TACP requests, coordinates, and controls tactical air support for ground forces, advises and assists ground commanders, and meets other related tactical air support special requirements of individual ground force echelons. TACPs above brigade do not normally perform forward air controller functions.

Forward Air Controller. The FAC is a member of the TACP who controls close air support aircraft and integrates air attacks with fire and maneuver of supported ground forces. He may operate from airborne or ground positions. The FAC will maintain contact with attack aircraft, other TACS elements, and the appropriate fire support coordinator or ground commander. His airspace functions include coordination of air attacks with field artillery, ADA, and appropriate aviation elements of the supported force in the target area.

Combat Control Team. The CCT provides airspace control services in a theater of operations at remote assault zones (such as drop or landing zones). It also deploys clandestinely ahead of main assault forces, providing a variety of services such as weather observations, reconnaissance and intelligence reports, en route and terminal NAVAIDs, and communications. Additionally, it moves with the main ground force to provide terminal assistance to airlift forces engaged in resupply or extraction operations. When assigned to Air Force special operations forces, the CCT accomplishes other missions unique to unconventional warfare. CCTs may not be available to support all airlift missions in the corps and division area. Army tactical ATS elements or pathfinders may be required to provide airspace control services as required. Such requirements will be coordinated with the airlift liaison officer, G4, movement control center, and corps or division A²C² element.


The land component commander exercises command of all assigned land forces and is responsible for planning and executing ground combat operations. Subject to the operational C² of the joint force commander, the land component commander (LCC) is responsible for merging C² and A²C² for assigned forces. The LCC's responsibilities for accomplishing the functional activity of A²C² include--

  • Tactically employing ground forces.

  • Using FAAD weapons systems according to the policies and procedures established by the area air defense commander.

  • Coordinating the employment of his forces, aircraft, and weapons with other service components as required by the tactical situation.

  • Providing airspace control in designated special use airspace under policies and procedures established by the ACA.

  • Forwarding requests for establishment of airspace control measures to the ACA for approval.

  • Developing airspace control plans and procedures for assigned forces under the policies and procedures of the ACA.

  • Establishing and maintaining interface with the ACA and the integrated airspace control system.

The land component commander of a theater of operations is assigned the responsibility to design and direct major ground operations for the theater of operations. A theater army as the Army service component command has support responsibilities and is responsible for the COMMZ.

The LCC exercises control over assigned forces through a tactical operations center. The assigned land assets of the LCC are controlled and directed through the land component or army group, corps, and division headquarters.

The A²C² system (Figure 1-2) is an arrangement of A²C² staff elements of each command echelon from maneuver battalion through theater army. It includes ADA command and control elements, fire support coordination elements, Army air traffic services facilities, and airspace control liaison personnel with key facilities of the ACA. These staff elements, command and control facilities, and liaison elements are linked by communications and standing operating procedures and by a common understanding of the situation, the mission, and the commander's intent and concept of operations.

Join the mailing list