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Stinger Employment Principles and Guidelines

Stinger units are organized and equipped to accomplish the ADA mission within their system capabilities. The specific tactical mission assigned to a Stinger platoon will vary depending on the mission received by its higher headquarters and the current tactical situation.

This chapter describes the types of missions which can be assigned to a Stinger unit. It also describes how Stinger deployment may have to be changed based on changing priorities and how Stinger is organized to support the tactical plan. The chapter also shows how Stinger defenses are planned.



Stinger's role is to provide air defense for forward combat elements against low-altitude hostile aircraft. Stinger defends high-priority maneuver and field artillery battalions in position, and also defends high-priority critical assets (e.g., command post, trains, ASP, and POL) for which no ADA guns or Chaparral are available. Stinger also complements ADA guns when priorities and the situation permit.


Section I Organization for Combat

Allocation of Forces

Organizing for Combat

Tactical Missions

Types of Air Defense

Section II Air Defense Planning

Air Defense Employment Principles

Air Defense Artillery Employment Guidelines

Stinger Defense Design Requirements

Section III Different Defense Considerations

Static Critical Asset Defense

Mobile Critical Asset Defense

Defense Of Maneuver Units


Stinger assets of a division are consolidated at the Chaparral/Vulcan (C/V) battalion and are allocated in accordance with the division commander's priorities. Once priorities are established the C/V battalion commander will task-organize to defend these priorities. Priorities may include forward maneuver brigades, cavalry squadron, artillery units or point targets; i.e., bridges.


When task organizing for combat, certain general guidelines are applicable to any type of operation. The organization must support the tactical plan; for example, the force at the critical point must be strong enough to do the job. The platoon is designed to operate with four sections. Allocate enough time for sections to move into the supported maneuver unit area. Anticipate future requirements - organize so that minimum changes will be required.

At brigade level, task organizing of ADA assets allocated by the division commander for a particular operation is based on the brigade commander's priorities for air defense. The ADA commander must retain sufficient control to react to rapid changes in air defense priorities which come about by changes in the ground commander's scheme of maneuver. Normally at brigade level, the ADA battery commander will task organize the ADA assets for the brigade. The Stinger platoon leader may help in this task.

A maneuver battalion may require more or less than five teams; there may be instances where a maneuver battalion requires no Stinger teams. To support these varying requirements, the Stinger platoon leader retains the flexibility to adjust the number of teams in the sections in accordance with the tactical situation.

Additionally, the SHORAD battalion commander retains the flexibility to adjust the number of sections in Stinger platoons. For example, if a brigade is organized with more than three battalions and has more than one supporting field artillery battalion, the SHORAD battalion commander may detach sections from other Stinger platoons and attach them to the Stinger platoon supporting the brigade.

The platoon's success in combat is based on the skillful use of its Stinger assets. To properly task organize at this level, leaders must have a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the section, teams, and Stinger weapons they have available to allocate.

At times, a Stinger platoon may provide the only air defense for a brigade. In this case, the platoon leader makes recommendations to the commander on air defense priorities and task organizing.


The role of the Stinger weapon system is to provide air defense against hostile low-altitude rotary and fixed-wing aircraft for critical assets of the supported organization. The ADA commander selects the appropriate tactical mission for his subordinate elements based on the mission he receives and on the tactical situation which confronts him.

Therefore, the tactical mission received by your platoon can be an ADA standard tactical mission, an ADA standard tactical mission, with certain elements modified or deleted, or a specific narrative mission.

An ADA standard tactical mission can be assigned to any type of ADA unit and assigns specific responsibilities to the receiving unit and establishes a specific and definite command relationship between the supported and supporting unit. Four ADA standard tactical missions are: general support (GS), general support-reinforcing (GS-R), reinforcing (R), and direct support (DS).


An ADA unit with a GS mission provides air defense for the force as a whole. It supports the entire force and is not committed to any specific element of the force. This is the case where a Stinger section could be in GS of a battalion as a whole. Also, a Stinger platoon may be placed in GS of a brigade as a whole.


An ADA unit with a GS- R mission primarily provides air defense for the force as a whole. Secondarily, it also augments the coverage of another ADA unit. GS-R units are not committed to any specific element of the force. An example may be a Stinger platoon primarily supporting a whole brigade and secondarily reinforcing coverage of a Vulcan platoon which is DS to a maneuver battalion. This tactical mission is seldom used for Stinger.


An ADA unit with a reinforcing mission augments the coverage of another ADA unit. Both ADA units are committed to a specific element of the force. This tactical mission is seldom used for Stinger.


An ADA unit with a DS mission provides dedicated air defense for a specific element of the force that does not have its own ADA. The ADA unit is committed to that specific element of the force. For example, a Stinger section may be placed in DS of a maneuver battalion for a certain operation. This mission is used frequently with Stinger.

ADA standard tactical missions can be assigned to any type ADA unit. This does not mean that any one standard tactical mission is the norm for a particular type unit. It is possible that none of the ADA standard tactical missions will apply in particular situations. In such a case, the ADA commander might issue a standard tactical mission with certain elements modified. Or he might avoid the use of standard tactical missions altogether and issue only a specific narrative mission. Therefore, it is incorrect to say, for instance, that DS is the normal tactical mission for Stinger. Direct support is a possible Stinger mission, but by no means the normal Stinger mission.

The standard tactical mission definition states that such missions assign specific responsibilities to the receiving unit. The responsibilities of each ADA standard tactical mission are summarized in matrix form.






This defense type is reserved by friendly Air Force units. (Stinger does not participate in this type defense.)


This is a specialized application of area defense. It places limited ADA weapons in a strict attrition role. A belt defense is not normal ADA employment. (Stinger does not participate in this type defense.)


This is defense of a limited area, normally in the defense of the vital elements of a force or the vital installations of the rear zone. The asset defended can be either mobile or static. (A point defense is the air defense normally used by all ADA units including Stinger.)


This type of defense is used by friendly units to defend themselves against air attack through the use of organic weapons. (Stinger participates in this type defense.)




Four basic principles govern the employment of all air defense weapons: Mass, Mix, Mobility, and Integration. These principles provide the foundation for the employment doctrine and tactics discussed in this chapter.


This is achieved by allocating enough Stinger air defense weapons to adequately defend the asset. For example, a Stinger section is the minimum force that can defend a maneuver battalion. If the threat is severe or if the battalion is widely scattered, two sections may be required to obtain the mass necessary to defend the battalion.


This is achieved by employing different types of air defense weapons together to defeat the air threat. When a variety of weapons are used together, air defense is more effective. Thus, a mixture of Vulcan guns and Stinger weapons augmented by small arms, all differing in characteristics, offers a better defense than Stinger alone.


This permits the application of the principles of mass and mix on a dynamic battlefield. Continual movement of air defense units is required to provide protection for moving point defenses (maneuver elements).

Stinger teams must be able to move continually with armor and mechanized infantry forces, reacting to the frequent changes in missions and priorities. Stinger teams should possess mobility equal to the maneuver element they are supporting.


This is achieved by tying all ADA weapons together in a common effort and by coordinating air defense with maneuver. Effective command, control, and communications links must be established between all levels of the air defense artillery organization and with each maneuver element receiving air defense support. Stinger is integrated into the overall air battle through application of the air defense commander's rules and procedures. It is integrated into the maneuver force through coordination between the Stinger platoon leader and the maneuver force commander.

The Stinger platoon leader and his commander must also be guided by these principles when deciding where and how to use Stinger sections and teams.


Certain general guidelines must be considered by Stinger platoon and section chiefs when designing defenses and selecting locations for Stinger teams. These include balance fires, overlapping fires, weighted coverage, mutual support, early engagement, and defense in depth.


Since critical assets will often be attacked as targets of opportunity, attack can come from any direction. It is, therefore, desirable to have equal firepower in all directions. On rare occasions, enemy aircraft may be confined to a well-defined avenue of approach. Balance may then be sacrificed and the defense weighted in the direction of attack. This should be done, however, only when there is little possibility of an attack from another direction.


Teams are normally positioned so that the engagement capability of one team overlaps that of an adjacent team. By following this guideline, the section chief can guard against the possibility that an aircraft will slip through the defense without being engaged by at least one Stinger team. The maximum overlapping fire distance between teams is 4,000 meters. In cases where more than one weapon system is employed in the same defense, overlapping fires should be achieved between LIKE weapon systems.


In unusual circumstances, such as when terrain restricts low-level attacks in particular directions or when intelligence has established that air attacks will come from a particular direction, a defense can be weighted.


Mutual support allows one Stinger team to fire into the dead zone of another Stinger team. The maximum mutual support distance between teams is 2,000 meters.


Stinger teams should be positioned so that they can engage an aircraft before it can attack the unit or asset being defended. This means that teams should be positioned out away from the asset being defended or well forward in the direction of the expected air attack.

Ideally, an attacking aircraft should be engaged and destroyed before it can release its ordnance. The range at which an aircraft can release ordnance on a target is defined by an ordnance release line (ORL). The ORL will, of course, vary with the type of ordnance, the attack technique used, and the speed and altitude of the aircraft. In general, the Stinger section leader should plan for a defense against aircraft using the pop-up technique. The range of the ORL for this type of attack varies from 500-1,500 meters.


This is that quality of a defense which allows supporting fire units to absorb and progressively weaken attack, prevent observation of the asset by the enemy, and allow the supported commander to maneuver his reserve. It is achieved through adherence to all the other employment guidelines.


Besides the principles and guidelines discussed previously, other considerations must be taken into account when planning a defense. Discussed below are the requirements and situations under which the principles and guidelines are applied. In some cases, it may be advisable to use effectiveness templates when planning a Stinger defense. Sample effectiveness templates are shown in (SNF) FM 44-1A(U).


The Stinger platoon leader/section chief must know the ground commander's scheme of maneuver before he can plan a successful defense.


Air defense priorities provide the basis for the Stinger platoon organization for combat. Since the number of assets which may require Stinger protection usually exceeds the number of weapons available to adequately protect them, a priority listing must be developed. Air defense priorities are established for every operation and for each course of action considered by the supported commander and staff. The development of the priority list is essentially a matter of assessing each element of the supported unit as a potential target for enemy air attack. Factors considered include:

Criticality. The supported unit commander makes a determination on the importance of various assets to the success of the operation. For example, a bridge may be deemed to be absolutely essential to the advance of a battalion which will conduct a river crossing operation. Air defense of this bridge then might have a higher priority for air defense and requires more ADA weapons than other less important assets.

Vulnerability. Another consideration is vulnerability. Some assets may be hardened or hidden while others are required to be in the open. Others may be naturally more vulnerable to damage from air attack. For example, a bomb dropped on a fuel dump will cause much more damage to combat capability than the same bomb dropped on a tank company.

Recuperability. This considers how fast an asset can recover from damage inflicted to again perform its mission. At times, recuperability can become of prime importance. For instance, if fuel is critically short, a fuel dump could not be recouped quickly. It would, there- fore, be important to protect that asset. When fuel becomes available, the importance of the fuel dump might be decreased.

Sufficient air defense artillery assets to cover all possible targets may not be available. The commander may be able to relocate or consolidate assets to make the most of available air defense. For instance, a battalion's trains might be shifted closer to battalion TOC so that it can be afforded some Stinger protection.

Once priorities have been established, the SHORAD battery commander, in conjunction with his Stinger platoon leader, determines how his sections and teams should be allocated and, if appropriate, what positions they should occupy. At the battalion level, the Stinger section chief may operate in the same manner as the platoon leader at the higher level. In a point defense, Stinger may be employed alone or be integrated with other divisional air defense weapons.


In considering the threat, the Stinger leader asks himself two questions. What types of aircraft, ordnance, IR, and ECM has the threat been using in the area? How can the threat be expected to attack the defended unit?

The enemy air threat is perhaps the most difficult factor to evaluate. It is difficult to estimate what targets the enemy will attack and what tactics he will use. For example, if a helicopter threat exists, maneuver company teams in the forward area provide lucrative targets because of the threat ATGM capability and should receive priority for Stinger assets. Primary targets will be those targets that will stop or slow their attack, such as tanks, ATGM, and hard points. They will try to destroy these targets to achieve a breakthrough.


When selecting positions for Stinger teams, the following must be considered:

Observation and Fields of Fire. This is the primary consideration. Positions should be selected that provide all- around visibility and allow the weapon to be fired in any direction. Positions should ideally have at least 5 km of observation in the direction from which attack is expected. When employed with other Stinger teams in a point defense, the prime consideration for position selection is visibility within its assigned sector closest to its primary target.

Communications. Positions selected should offer good line-of-sight communications with the Stinger section headquarters, unit being supported, and the FAAR being used for early warning. If the team cannot communicate from its position, the position is unsatisfactory.

Physical Security. Team positions must have protection from ground attack. Teams must be positioned within or near friendly units for security against ground attack. This is particularly true when teams are supporting units in the forward area. Also, teams must have protection against enemy ground fires. Masking between the position and the enemy hides the position from enemy ground observation and suppressive actions.

Cover and Concealment. Firing positions should offer cover and concealment so the team is afforded protection from enemy observation and fire. Because of the dust and smoke signature produced by a missile firing, the enemy can spot a Stinger firing position and attack it. Therefore, the team must seek and obtain cover and concealment immediately after firing. The team's vehicle and trailer must also be camouflaged.

Accessibility for Team Vehicles. The position should be easy for the team vehicle to move into. Concealed routes are necessary to the rear and flanks for rapid shifting of position. The team must be relatively close to the vehicle for access to the basic load. If the selected team firing position is too far from the team vehicle, the team will have difficulty in off-loading and carrying Stinger weapons. Also, the team will have to carry other equipment to the site, such as TADDS, field wire, and the remote control unit for communications. Another consideration is good accessibility for the team vehicle when the team must move quickly to an alternate position.

Technical Requirements. The technical requirements of the Stinger weapon position pertain to safety. The gunner must insure that the area behind the weapon is clear of other personnel to a distance of 50 meters (164 feet). The team chief should be close to the gunner's side and insure that he is not endangered by the weapon backblast. Also, the gunner should allow at least 5 meters safety distance from equipment (e.g., a vehicle).


Hilly terrain presents masking problems for the employment of Stinger. Also, hilly terrain restricts communications, acts to inhibit team mobility, and increases the supply problem. Weather can adversely affect Stinger ir acquisition range. For example, rain, snow, and fog will absorb and scatter ir radiations and reduce ir range. Also, rain, snow, dust, fog, smoke, heat shimmer, and haze tend to reduce visibility which reduces the range of visual detection of aircraft. The effects of terrain and weather can thus influence the number of Stinger teams needed, and their locations to defend the asset.


As a general rule Stinger teams may not be available in sufficient numbers to defend all the ground commander's assets. The Stinger platoon leader must therefore make this fact known to the supported unit commanders and make recommendations on how many assets he can defend.






Stinger's capability to engage approaching aircraft makes it a valuable weapon for a static critical asset defense. It is especially effective when combined with other air defense weapon systems in a mixed and integrated defense.

The first step in planning a defense is to define the area to be defended. The area to be defended is defined by the borders of the asset increased by the radius of effect of the most likely weapon the enemy may use. This information should be plotted on a map. The C/V battalion and/or the supported unit S2 can usually provide information on the expected threat.

Vital points within a defense and routes of approach must also be considered before the planner can say he has adequately defined the area to be defended:


Within a fairly large critical asset defense, certain assets will probably be of higher priority than others. The commander may be able to accept limited amounts of damage in some parts of the defense and unable to accept any damage in others. In these cases, coverage should favor the high-priority assets.


Routes of approach fall into two general categories, probable and forced. A probable route of approach is one that the enemy is likely to use, but is not restricted to use. The pilot of an aircraft traveling at 500 knots 150 meters above the ground can see little detail on the ground. He can, however, see large objects such as highways, rivers, and mountain ranges and may use them to assist in navigation. If such landmarks lead to a critical asset, they may be considered as in or near the probable route of approach. A forced route of approach is one that the attacker is compelled to use. When considering probable routes of approach, the planner may favor the routes in his coverage but balance cannot be disregarded completely. Balance is completely abandoned in favor of weighted coverage when considering forced routes of approach.


A thorough knowledge of enemy capabilities and techniques is essential when planning a defense. Chapter 1 of this manual describes attack techniques Stinger personnel will encounter.

In most cases, damage to an asset can result from an indirect hit within the radius of effect of the weapon the enemy chooses to use. Additionally, the fact that an enemy pilot may release the weapon at a distance from the asset, and not directly above it must be considered. Considering these factors, it then becomes the objective of the Stinger platoon/section leaders to organize a defense that insures engagement of the target prior to the point at which a weapon can be released.

The ordnance release line (ORL) will vary with the type of attack used. Since Stinger is designed to counter low-altitude aircraft, the ORL for the pop-up type attack should be used in planning - 1.5 kilometers is generally a good figure to use. In some instances, however, ordnance may be released farther from the target. If a pilot desires to attack an area, rather than a point, the ORL may be as much as 2 to 3 kilometers from the target. Unless there is terrain masking, Stinger's forward aspect capability will compensate for this.

Once the area to be defended has been defined, the defense planner must position his teams in accordance with the employment guidelines of balance, overlapping fires, early engagement, and weighted defense.



Once the section chief has defined the area to be defended and plotted it on a map, he begins his map analysis. The section chief often will have to make decisions quickly and will not have time for a detailed analysis. The map analysis described below will serve as a logical base upon which to make decisions.

The section chief must identify two things in this analysis - team positions and any areas the teams cannot cover as placed.

An incoming low-flying aircraft is masked to position A as shown below because position A is at a lower elevation than hill 101; therefore, a team at position A may not see a target until it is on this side of hill 101. The team at position B can see beyond hill 101; therefore, it can capitalize on early detection and the forward aspect capability of the weapon. The section chief selects position B over position A.

While this method is not particularly accurate, it does provide the section chief with a good idea of what positions are best for his teams. These positions may have to be further adjusted after a ground reconnaissance is conducted.

Once the final position is selected, the section chief must coordinate those locations with the supported S3.



Stinger teams will often be required to provide air defense for units while they are moving in convoy or march column along roads behind the line of contact. Units in convoy will usually be moving at a speed of 15-20 mph in either an open column (50-100 meters between vehicles) or closed column (50 meters or less between vehicles). The total length of the convoy will, of course, vary depending on the spacing of the vehicles and the size of the unit. For example, in closed column, a mechanized infantry battalion is about 6 kilometers long and in open column about 18 kilometers long. A field artillery battery in closed column is approximately 1/2 kilometer long and in open column about 2 kilometers long.

When traveling in convoy under conditions of good visibility, units are likely targets and are vulnerable to attack by enemy air. As with the defense of units in position behind the line of contact, attack by high-performance aircraft is the primary concern; attack by helicopters is less likely.

March columns are more likely to be attacked as targets of opportunity, rather than as preplanned targets. This means, in essence, that the pilots of enemy aircraft must first find and pinpoint the location of the targets before making an attack run. An attack on a convoy by a flight of aircraft is described in chapter 1.

Stinger can be employed to defend a convoy by pre-positioning Stinger teams along the march route or by integrating Stinger teams into the march column.


Stinger teams may be pre-positioned to defend a convoy as it passes a critical point along the route. This is the perferred way of defending a convoy, if the tactical situation permits. This method of employment can be considered when a critical point can be identified along the route where the convoy is likely to be forced to bottleneck or may halt; such as at bridges which could be destroyed before or as the unit crosses, road junctions where other traffic may slow or halt the column, or refueling points. This method can be used when the distance to be traveled by the convoy is relatively short (e.g., about 5 kilometers); or when circumstances will permit Stinger teams to join and be integrated with the column after it passes the critical point.

Pre-positioned teams can be used only if the route is relatively secure from ground attack. This allows pre-positioning of Stinger teams at the critical point. Stinger teams can move out ahead of the column and occupy positions prior to the convoy passing the critical points.

The enemy may preplan air strikes at critical points such as crossroads and bridges along march routes. Since these points are readily identifiable from the air, there is a higher probability of attack on the first pass by enemy aircraft. Accordingly, when possible, an early engagement capability against any direction of attack should be provided.

When establishing a point defense along the march route, the employment guidelines for Stinger are applied in the same way as when defending a stationary point defense behind the line of contact. Once the convoy passes the critical point, Stinger is moved ahead to another critical point. Stinger teams are often employed in leapfrog style to insure continuous protection along the route of march. This tactic is extremely difficult to employ if there is only one congested primary route.


If only one team is available, the team should not be split. When teams are split, efficiency is greatly degraded. The ADA planner should employ a sufficient number of systems to achieve mutual support or over-lapping coverage.

When air attack is imminent. or in progress, the Stinger team moves its vehicle off the road and quickly dismounts. The team takes up the best available firing position - a position from which the aircraft can be seen and Stinger can be safely fired.

When possible, the Stinger team engages the aircraft on its first pass and before it makes its attack run on the convoy. Stinger teams should be ordered to hold fire against enemy aircraft only when WEAPONS HOLD is in effect. This also applies when it is necessary to support the commander's concept of the operation; for example, to support a deception operation.

When the column is attacked, the massed fires of all available small arms, machine guns, Stinger, and any supporting ADA weapons are placed on the attacker to destroy him, drive him away, or cause his ordnance delivery to be ineffective. When the immediate threat of air attack has subsided, the Stinger team resumes its assigned position within the convoy, passing other vehicles as necessary to regain this position.


Defending maneuver elements in offensive and defensive operations are covered in detail in chapter 7. Certain general considerations apply to both operations. A Stinger section defending a maneuver battalion will generally be closer to the forward edge of the battle area than one defending a fixed asset. Three factors take on a high degree of importance. These factors are physical security, mobility, and position requirements.


Physical security becomes a primary consideration. To perform their mission effectively, Stinger teams must be reasonably secure from ground attack. This may preclude positioning teams in front of maneuver elements. The early engagement capability is reduced to insure physical security of the Stinger team.


Mobility is the second major consideration. The Stinger team must have the capability to move and shoot to keep up with maneuvering combat elements. This mobility must be achieved and maintained to insure air defense protection to the maneuver force. The mobility of the Stinger teams must be the same as that of the supported force.


Position requirements is the third major consideration. The Stinger section chief should position his teams as close behind maneuvering elements as possible. The positions should provide all-around observation and if possible have line of sight with a FAAR. This usually dictates positions on high terrain. If a position with all-around observation is not available, then a position from which the team can at least see in the direction of the enemy avenue of approach is desirable. The section chief's position must also have line of sight for communication with the Stinger teams and the supported unit.

As a general rule, Stinger teams should overwatch maneuvering elements from good positions. Maneuver elements are most vulnerable to air attack when moving; therefore, Stinger teams must be prepared to fire at all times.

Maneuver units in the forward area can expect attacks by both high-performance aircraft and helicopters. Although attacks from any direction are possible, attacks from the general direction of the enemy ground forces are most likely. Enemy aircraft will probably approach their targets on routes generally perpendicular to or parallel with the forward line of own troops (FLOT). Aircraft may even penetrate and attack the point defense from the rear if they have any remaining ordnance. Maneuver units are more likely to be attacked as targets of opportunity than as preplanned targets. Therefore, jet aircraft attack techniques may be similar to those depicted for the attack of march columns wherein the aircraft pilot first finds and fixes his target and then attacks.

When two or more Stinger teams are supporting one company team, they should normally be separated, with teams on opposite flanks or ends of the unit's formation to improve early engagement against aircraft attacking from various directions. The dimensions of the company team formation are usually small enough to permit overlapping fires between Stinger teams positioned in this manner.

Remember, when a company team comes under air attack, it should temporarily divert some or all of its small arms and machine guns to an air defense role to assist Stinger and other supporting ADA weapons in destroying or driving off attacking aircraft.

The allocation of Stinger teams, both to the support of committed maneuver companies and to the defense of other assets in the task force rear area, will often provide a bonus effect of early engagement and overlapping fires. To illustrate by example, a battalion task force is in a defensive position with its company teams deployed along the FEBA. The TOC, trains, and heavy mortar platoon are to the rear as shown.

One Stinger team has been allocated to each company, one team to the battalion TOC, and one team to the heavy mortar platoon. The Stinger teams have been positioned to defend these individual assets.

Shown below are considerations when in the defense of a task force as a whole.

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