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Chapter 3

Air support and airspace management must be planned and employed in concert with the JFC's campaign plan. They must also support land and air operations plans in order to effectively synchronize air and ground operations. This chapter describes how the BCD sections ease the synchronization and deconfliction of air-ground operations. Figures in this chapter reflect the ARFOR subordinate to the JFLCC. BCD operations described in this chapter apply to the association of the BCD with any echelon: ASCC, corps, or division.



One must understand the joint environment in which the BCD operates in order to filly understand the functioning of the BCD. To promote clarity, the discussion in this chapter is based on the BCD relationship to a USAF JAOC. For the BCD relationship to the NAVFOR and MARFOR JAOC, see Appendix B. A more complete explanation of the joint environment is contained in JP 3-56.1.

Joint Force Air Component Commander

The JFC normally designates a JFACC to exploit the capabilities of joint air operations through a cohesive joint air operations plan with a responsive and integrated control system. The JFACC is normally the service component commander having the most air assets and the capability to control and direct joint air operations. He derives authority from the JFC. The JFACC's responsibilities normally include the following:

  • Planning.
  • Coordination.
  • Allocation.
  • Tasking.

All of these are based on the JFC's apportionment decision.

The JAOC is set up to operate as a filly integrated facility and staffed to fulfill all of the JFACC's responsibilities. Other service components provide liaison officers and staff augmentation as required to coordinate requestor needs and maintain an "up to date" picture of component operations. The result is a JAOC staff organized and manned so that component representation reflects the composition of the joint force.

BCD Interface with a JAOC

The BCD sections mesh with a USAF hosted JAOC as depicted in the figure on the next page. The links are primarily automated and comprised of both joint and services-unique systems. BCD sections do not operate independent of each other. They inform each other of current or future actions needing immediate or planned coordination. They also keep the ARFOR staff informed of the same and respond appropriately to COMARFOR requests for help.

In the figure below the organization of a JAOC provided by the USAF as the JFACC is shone. If appropriate all of the following may reside in the JAOC:

  • MARLO.
  • NALE.
  • USN surface operations liaison element.
  • SOLE.

The director of combat operations (DCO) reports to the deputy commander for operations (DO) and is the director of the JAOC. Subordinate to the JAOC director are the chiefs of combat plans and combat operations. The director of combat intelligence (DCI) reports to the deputy for intelligence. Subordinate to the DCI is the chief of the CID who oversees combat plans intelligence and combat operations intelligence.

Apportionment and Allocation Process

BCD personnel must understand and consider the apportionment and allocation process to coordinate the COMARFOR's air support and airspace requirements. The JFC, in consultation with his staff, the JFACC, and the component commanders, determines the air apportionment. The BCD commander provides technical advice and staff functional support to the COMARFOR as he prepares to meet with the JFC. The BCD also ensures the COMARFOR requirements are considered as the JFACC staff prepares the apportionment recommendation that is submitted.

Once the JFC makes his apportionment decision, the JFACC translates the apportionment decision into specific numbers of sorties by aircraft or weapons type available. The translation into sorties is called allocation.

Air Apportionment

The JFC orchestrates component operations by assigning missions and apportioning forces. Air apportionment lets the JFC ensure the weight of the joint air effort is consistent with his concept of operations and objectives. Air apportionment is the determination and assignment of the total expected joint air effort by priority and/or percentage that should be devoted to the various air operations and/or to geographic areas for a given period of time. Apportionment guidance lets supported commanders anticipate the level of air support. The apportionment decision may be daily or may remain in effect for a longer period of time, such as for a phase of the campaign.

The JFC, in coordination with the component commanders, decides apportionment and provides guidance. This may take place in a variety of forums.

On the basis of the JFC's initial guidance and objectives, the JFACC determines air objectives and guidance. He articulates these to the air strategy cell and/or GAT cell in the JAOC. After deliberations with representatives of all components at the daily GAT meeting, the GAT cell furnishes the JFACC with a recommendation for air apportionment that will accomplish the JFC's objectives. Another product of the GAT meeting is the draft joint integrated prioritized target list (JIPTL). The JIPTL lists the highest priorities of each component. Broad guidance for developing the JIPTL maybe provided by the JTCB, if one is formed. After consultation with the other components, the JFACC presents the apportionment recommendation to the JFC. The JFC will make the final decision.

Note: The exact procedures and terminology may vary slightly between theaters. Each theater tailors operations to suit the environment.

The BCD commander's input during GAT meetings is based on the COMARFOR's intent and concept of operations, and prioritized target nomination list. The BCD representatives go to the meeting with a full understanding of the priority, desired effect, and rationale for each nominated target to justify inclusion in the JIPTL. The following actions may take place at this meeting:

  • Consider recommending changes to key targets.
  • Develop and recommend updates to the joint target list (JTL).
  • Assess joint air capabilities for future operations to meet JFC objectives and component nominations.

At this meeting the BCD commander or his representative clarifies the COMARFOR's air support requirements. He will explain the justification for the priority of each target.

Apportionment Timelines

For planning purposes, the JFC's initial guidance for the apportionment recommendation may address a period 96 or more hours into the future. The figure below illustrates a notional integrated air-ground operations planning process. However, the JFC's final apportionment decision for a specific ATO is normally made after requests for air support have been passed from the COMARFOR to the BCD.

Proactive consideration of factors bearing on future operations is key to synchronizing and sustaining maneuver, fires, and interdiction. This consideration begins as soon as practical. General guidelines regarding time frames for commanders initiating planning considerations and establishing initial guidance vary with the level of command. As a general rule the following apply:

  • Ninety-six hours or more at EAC.
  • Seventy-two hours at corps.
  • Forty-eight hours at division.
  • Twenty-four hours at brigade.

Early planning permits COMARFOR identification of high-value targets (HVTs) associated with various courses of action (COAs) and subsequent coordination to refine and validate targets for nomination during the air tasking cycle and notional 48 hour joint ATO time line. Early planning also eases parallel planning and input from subordinate commanders as shown in the figure above.

The figure represents a notional process. The time lines represented are not prescriptive. Approaching the twenty-first century, commanders and planners should not be tied to a 96 hour planning and 48 hour execution cycle. Systems of shared databases, common picture and information age technology will speed up the process. The emerging technologies permit commanders to emphasize Army operational tenets of agility and flexibility in planning, coordinating, and executing air and ground operations.

The COMARFOR considerations to support the planning normally address a period 96 or more hours into the future. The process of nominating targets during this 96 hour planning and coordination window is supported by the apportionment process. Target nominations may be confirmed 24 hours before execution of the ATO. Minor changes to target nominations may be made within the 24 hour ATO development cycle, or during execution of the ATO. The planning windows ensure perceived target requirements are based on projected enemy capabilities and actions. This highlights the importance of operational level IPB and joint war gaming to support ARFOR requirement forecasts.

Allocation Process

During allocation, component commander's give common use sorties to the JFC for JFACC tasking. This determines sortie availability for the tasking period. Allocation is done through exchange of air allocation request (ALLOREQ) messages. The messages address the following three areas:

  • Service component planning for their organic support missions and internal requirements as a result of the JFC's apportionment decision.
  • Sorties not needed by the service component and available to the JFC for common use tasking by the JFACC.
  • Requests for additional air support beyond the capability of the service components.

The JFACC's tool for planning and executing air requirements is the ATO. The BCD is an integral part of the planning, coordinating, and executing the ATO in support of ARFOR operations.

Joint Air Tasking Cycle

The JFACC uses a joint air tasking cycle to produce an ATO that will give efficient and effective use of joint air capabilities and forces assigned by the JFC. To meet both the apportionment guidance of the JFC and component air support requirements by joint air sorties the cycle provides a repetitive process for the following:

  • Planning.
  • Coordination.
  • Allocation.
  • Tasking.

Much of the day-to-day joint air tasking cycle is conducted through a series of information exchanges by designated component coordination elements (such as the BCD). The exchanges provide a means of requesting and scheduling joint air missions. The figure below illustrates the tasking cycle. BCD activity during the air tasking cycle is reflected by the figure titled BCD SUPPORT OF JOINT TARGETING DURING THE NOTIONAL ATO CYCLE. The figure reflects a notional process for development of the ATO including integration of COMARFOR targets.

There are usually three joint ATOs at any time:

  • The joint ATO in execution (the plan for today).
  • The joint ATO in production (the plan for tomorrow).
  • The joint ATO in planning (the plan for the following day).

The figure below illustrates the concept.

Joint ATO Phases

The number of ATO phases may vary based on theater and contingency needs. The following discussion reflects the cycle in the figure titled NOTIONAL AIR TASKING CYCLE, and is based on the ATO phases described in JP 3-56.1. The figure titled BCD SUPPORT OF JOINT TARGETING DURING THE NOTIONAL ATO CYCLE, reflects the application of joint targeting considerations during the notional air tasking cycle.

The Phase l-JFC-Component Coordination

The JFC consults, normally daily, with his component commanders to do the following:

  • Assess the results of the war fighting effort.
  • Discuss the strategic direction and future operation plans.

This gives component commanders an opportunity to introduce recommendations, support requirements, and state their ability to support other components. JFC gives broad guidance and objectives. The guidance includes the daily apportionment decision.

Phase 2-Target Development

The joint targeting process normally begins before forces are deployed or before the onset of hostilities. During the deliberate planning associated with an OPLAN at the CINC level, for example, a JTL may be constructed. This JTL is a database that contains the following:

  • Prioritized target categories.
  • Specific targets.
  • Sufficient detail to help complete target identification, location, and assessment.

The JTL reflects the theater view of the threat. It is the start point for the JFC's targeting process focused on his AOR. As the JFC's concept of operations is developed, the JTL will be updated. During execution of the OPLAN, the JTL continues to serve as an updated reference.

The objectives and guidance received during phase one are used to focus target development. The BCD plans section processes the COMARFOR target nominations through the JAOC combat plans division, during phase one. COMARFOR target nominations may be derived from the JTL data base, or may be selected from the following:

  • Intelligence.
  • Reconnaissance.
  • PSYOP.
  • Surveillance inputs.
  • Current intelligence assessments.
  • Other information and considerations not known when the JTL was initially developed.

The COMARFOR target nominations are coordinated and incorporated with target nominations from the other components after they are deconflicted with other C2W elements. The end product of the target development phase is a draft JIPLT, and a detailed air apportionment recommendation.

Phase 3-Weaponeering and Allocation

During this phase, targeting personnel quantify the expected results of lethal and nonlethal weapons use against prioritized targets. The draft JIPTL, from the target development phase, is the basis for weaponeering assessment activities. BCD personnel help the JAOC weaponeers identify the critical nodes of the COMARFOR targets that must be attacked to meet COMARFOR targeting objectives. After weaponeering, planners assign the appropriate assets to attack the targets. The final prioritized targets are incorporated into the MAAP. This MAAP is the plan of employment that forms the foundation of the ATO.

Phase 4 ATO Development

After the MAAP is approved by the JFACC, the JAOC combat plans division continues detailed preparations concerning the ATO, SPINS, and the ACO. The BCD plans section notifies the COMARFOR of any nominated targets which will not be included in the MAAP. Guidance from the JFC and JFACC, target worksheets, MAAP, and component requirements are used to finalize the ATO, SPINS, and ACO. The COMARFOR may submit critical changes to target nominations via the BCD during the final phase of ATO development. On the basis of the results of the MAAP, the COMARFOR may prioritize nominated targets not on the MAAP as alternates.

Phase 5-Force Execution

The JAOC directs the execution of and deconflicts all capabilities and forces made available for a given ATO. The JFC may give the JFACC the authority to redirect joint air operations. The JFACC must notify affected component commanders upon redirection of joint sorties that were allocated in the joint ATO to support them. The BCD operations section monitors the execution of the ATO. The section tracks all events relating to units performing assigned flying missions, and air defense of friendly forces. The BCD focuses on the defense of key facilities and locations. The BCD must continuously coordinate with the JAOC operations division to update the status of COMARFOR priority targets. In addition, they must coordinate for unforeseen or changing requirements for COMARFOR air support and airspace control measures.

Phase 6-Combat Assessment (CA)

This phase compares mission results to the original objective guidance and commander's intent. Use of all available intelligence sources help in determining mission success or failure. In addition, a determination is made concerning the need for further operations against the same target. The BCD will monitor the aircrew MISREPs they receive from the GLOs and information from other intelligence sources at the JAOC during the execution period. The ARFOR will use the assessments of attack effectiveness to develop future targeting guidance.



At the same time the ATO is developed, the BCD ensures COMARFOR interests are met in other operational areas. These areas include the following:

  • Deep operations.
  • Air and missile defense.
  • Airlift.
  • Associated airspace command and control.

Planning, coordination, and execution of operations in all these areas are eased by the DOCC and TMD cell (when formed).

BCD and the ARFOR Decision-Making Process

The COMARFOR and staff follow the military decision-making process described in FM 101-5 to develop operations plans and orders. The plans document command decisions, guidance, and intent for the application of assets to accomplish assigned missions. The BCD is not directly involved in this decision-making process. However, the BCD provides the input previously discussed which is key to plan development. The sections of the BCD communicate with the appropriate cells of the ARFOR TOC (army, corps, or division) to exchange information on the following:

  • Operations.
  • Intelligence.
  • Administration.
  • Logistics.

BCD and ARFOR Deep Operations

The BCD evolved to provide coordination for the Army deep operations effort. Deep operations seek to attack the enemy beyond the immediate fight. The attacks shape the battlefield to support the COMARFOR intent for current and future operations.

Advancements in reconnaissance and surveillance, weapons, information and communications technology now permit the commander to find and target the enemy in all dimensions of the battle space. In tactical echelons, the primary weapons are the following:

  • Artillery systems.
  • Attack helicopters.
  • CAS.
  • SOFs.
  • PSYOP.
  • Maneuver forces.

However, the primary means for attacking deep targets are fixed- and rotary- winged air power, rocket, and missile artillery. This requires that the ground commander closely coordinate deep operations with the JFACC. The BCD forms the link between the two agencies.

The primary links for the BCD are the following:

  • TMD cell (when formed).
  • ARFOR corps and below tire support elements (FSE).
  • Headquarters with which the ARFOR directs contact in support of mission requirements (for example AD, FA, and attack helicopter headquarters).
  • Supporting national and theater intelligence services.
  • JFACC staff agencies internal and external to the JAOC (for example J-STARS crew, GLOs at AMC, ACC, and ABCCC units).


The figure below represents the BCD relationship to the DOCC for coordination of deep operations. The DOCC is resourced at corps but is developed 'ad hoc' at division level at the commander's discretion. The ASCC and corps DOCC is supported by the automated deep operations coordination system (ADOCS). The AFATDS replaces ADOCS functions as it is fielded.

The ADOCS is designed to automate and simplify the planning and execution process. The ADOCS also serves as an electronic link to the fire direction system (FDS). As ADOCS matures, it will also serve as a link to the maneuver control system (MCS) and the all source analysis system (ASAS). The ADOCS significantly speeds the coordination and staffing process and thus is ideal for processing and engaging targets with short dwell times. The ADOCS graphically displays numerous types of critical friendly and enemy battlefield geometry sets to include the following:

  • Unit locations.
  • Air corridors.
  • Restricted fire areas.

The ADOCS operates on a local area network of work stations as shown in the figure above. Configuration of work stations is a unit decision. Work effort is optimized on the basis of command and staff needs.


USAF airlift provides rapid movement of cargo, passengers and equipment without regard to terrain restrictions. It also makes possible resupply of critical items over extended distances. There are, however, limitations to the capabilities of airlift. These include the following:

  • Weather conditions.
  • Theater airfield availability and capacities.
  • Aircraft availability.
  • Weight and cube of material.
  • Requirement for specialized crews and equipment.

Joint Pub 3-17 gives capstone guidance for planning, coordination, and execution of airlift. The daily airlift allocation depends on awareness of all legitimate requirements by JMC personnel. Once made, airlift requests are handled through component logistic channels, with variations for the immediacy of the request.

Planned Requests

When air movement requirements are known or projected in advance, they are handled as planned requests. Planned request are processed through normal logistic channels. In all cases the JMC should task planned requests within the operational lead time established by the USAF component commander. Lead time is the time needed to source, task, and generate actual missions in support of a specific requirement. Lead time varies, depending on the scale of the request, available forces, and the theater air planning process.

Immediate Requests

When air movement requirements are identified too late for normal ATO tasking cycle coordination, they are handled as immediate requests. Immediate requests are usually made to satisfy urgent employment, sustainment, or extraction requirements. Once identified at an appropriate level in a component, they are transmitted directly to the JAOC. The request is normally sent by a theater air liaison officer (TALO), through operational channels. This allows the JAOC to make preparations for the missions, while the actual request is staffed quickly through logistic channels. The theater airlift force is normally fully employed. The JMC may fill validated immediate requests by redirecting sorties supporting planned requests.

The primary operational responsibility of the BCD airlift section is to speed the processing of airlift requests in support of COMARFOR operations. The section must understand the request procedures and formats. The airlift role of the BCD varies from operation to operation. The BCD airlift section normally performs the following:

  • Receives requests from the COMARFOR and coordinates them with the airlift coordination cell (ALCC).
  • Ensures the airlift schedule is provided to the COMARFOR.
  • Monitors air movement.

BCD airlift section personnel use the global decision support system (GDSS) and global transportation network (GTN) to monitor airflow. The figure below depicts an airflow process and links to BCD for air deployment of Army forces.

USAF airlift and airdrop require much longer lead times to plan and coordinate than do Army combat service support (CSS) air movement operations because:

  • Material and personnel must be moved to an airfield. This requires supplemental transportation and added coordination.
  • Material and other air cargo must be palletized and/or rigged. Personnel must be marshaled and manifested. Load planning and an D/AACG may be needed.
  • Request procedures inherently require longer lead times because the final validator is the JMC, not the Army. Large scale operations need advance planning to reallocate and relocate resources.

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