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Stinger Platoon Operations

Command control of the Stinger platoon is performed by the Stinger platoon leader from his headquarters element. To insure coordination and integration of the Stinger sections in the overall air defense for the supported unit, he normally locates his headquarters element in the vicinity of his parent battery. The purpose of the Stinger headquarters element is to command and control Stinger sections and teams, collect and pass on pertinent information to the sections, and position Stinger teams as required to support the mission.

This chapter will discuss how platoon and section headquarters personnel operate in combat. It describes how platoon personnel prepare for combat operations and how they accomplish their mission.


In the division, the Stinger platoon operates as an element of either a Chaparral or a Vulcan battery. When an ADA battery is supporting a maneuver force, the battery commander is the air defense artillery officer for that maneuver force. For example, when a Vulcan battery is in direct support of a brigade, the Vulcan battery commander is the principal adviser to the brigade commander on air defense matters. The Stinger platoon leader is a subordinate ADA unit leader. He provides assistance to the commander on Stinger matters and receives direction on Stinger employment.

When not deployed with a higher level ADA unit, the Stinger platoon leader can serve as the supported unit's air defense advisor. This situation occurs when, through the process of organizing for combat, the Stinger platoon is the sole air defense unit providing air defense for a maneuver force.

This would also be the case where a Stinger platoon is organic to a separate brigade/regiment. Once priorities are established by the commander, the Stinger platoon leader develops the plans and orders necessary to defend the unit against air attack. The Stinger platoon leader receives direction from the commander/S3 for Stinger employment.


Command Relationships

Troop Leading Procedures

SOPs and Combat Orders

Reconnaissance, Selection and Occupation of Position

Platoon Operations

Platoon Headquarters Internal Operations

Section Headquarters Internal Operations


The platoon leader must prepare for combat by following certain procedures and organizing for the specific mission. To accomplish the tactical mission, the platoon leader should follow a logical sequence. It begins when he is alerted for a mission. It starts all over again when he gets a different mission. In combat, the leader will rarely have time to go through each step of the planning sequence in detail. The steps include:

  • Receive the mission.
  • Issue a warning order (to subordinate leaders).
  • Make a tentative plan (that will accomplish the mission).
  • Initiate the necessary movement.
  • Make the reconnaissance.
  • Complete the plan.
  • Issue orders.
  • Supervise and refine the plan.
  • Once the battle starts, subsequent orders and responses must be fast, effective, and simple. This requires teamwork and an understanding which permits the leader to turn a mission-type order into action. This action must support the plan of the next higher commander without detailed instructions. The process is not rigid; modify it to fit the mission, situation, and available time.


    Stinger leaders receive a mission in either an oral or written operation order (OPORD) or a fragmentary order (FRAGO). The order is prepared and sent from the battery tactical operation center (TOC) to the Stinger platoon headquarters. It outlines the mission for the unit. A platoon leader may have about 2 to 3 hours time to prepare for the operation; however, time will vary with the tactical situation. The platoon leader should analyze the mission and plan the use of available time.


    The platoon leader issues a warning order to the sections, telling his subordinates of the action and the time it is to start. The warning order must be issued early enough for the sections to have time to plan and prepare. Normally, warning orders are issued through the chain of command. This allows all personnel to be kept informed of what they must do and why. A warning order gives advance notice of an action or an order that is to follow. They are usually issued as brief oral or written messages.


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    If the platoon leader knows the mission and terrain, he can make a quick decision about how the unit can accomplish the mission. This is a tentative plan that he can change if necessary when he goes through the remaining steps. The tentative plan he develops is the basis for coordination, reconnaissance, reorganization (if any), and movement.


    Make good use of available time so that the section chiefs can prepare their teams to move. The platoon leader must have an SOP to permit these actions to proceed simultaneously so that no time is wasted. The sections may be required to move with their supported unit to provide air defense protection en route. If so, coordination must be effected with the ADA battery commander or convoy commander as the case may be. Such matters as the location of FAARs, new signal instructions, reorganization and maintenance, and any other items not covered by SOP should be taken care of before the movement starts.


    The platoon leader may or may not see the terrain over which the platoon may fight. In most cases he can only make a map reconnaissance. Combat conditions require the procedure to be completed in a few hours. The positions of Stinger teams are determined in designing the defense. These positions are plotted on a map and represent the tentative location for defense. The platoon leader considers overlapping coverage between weapons, any weighting of the defense desirable, and nature of terrain so far as can be determined from the map. Actual positions must be selected from a ground reconnaissance and may vary within narrow limits from positions selected by map reconnaissance. The platoon leader may accompany the battery commander on his reconnaissance. Whether section representatives accompany the reconnaissance party depends upon the tactical situation and time. In most cases the section chief will accompany the supported battalion reconnaissance party.


    As a result of the reconnaissance, the platoon leader may or may not alter the tentative plan. Focus on specific tasks for all units. Make certain that all team locations are accessible to FAAR for early warning and are coordinated with the supported unit.


    Most orders are issued orally, sometimes from a handwritten, five-paragraph, field-order outline and a sketch or overlay. If the commander has made a reconnaissance, he will issue orders from a vantage point in the assigned area. This permits him to point out particular terrain features on the ground as well as on the map. The commander may issue overlays with his order. He then requires subordinate commanders to copy this information on their own maps. The Stinger platoon leader may or may not accompany his battery commander to hear the brigade order. But at some point in time, he will receive the order. At times he will get the section chiefs together and issue orders to them before an operation. Normally, however, the section chiefs will receive the operations order or FRAGO from the platoon leader during a fast-moving operation. Personnel are briefed in sufficient detail to insure that they understand exactly what they are to do. Items covered during the briefing should include, at a minimum, the enemy situation, the friendly situation, how Stinger will support the operation, ADA rules of engagement, missile resupply status, FAAR locations, frequencies, and any additional material deemed necessary by the platoon leader.

    Again, the tactical situation and time will be the deciding factor on how the platoon leaders and section chiefs receive their instructions.


    Make sure that all arrangements have been made to get the job done. The platoon leader and section chief must supervise to insure that all necessary preparations for conduct of the operation are being made. These include coordination, reorganization, maintenance, resupply, movement, and other required actions. Make sure teams have maps, CEOI extracts, full gas tanks, full basic loads, and reprogrammed IFF interrogators (if needed).

    Make provisions for maintenance of communications between the sections and the platoon headquarters. Terrain and distance factors could disrupt radio communications. The platoon headquarters element must relocate to reestablish radio contact. Once the operation has begun, see that the plan is followed and be prepared to refine the plan as the situation develops.



    The best way to insure that troops quickly understand what a leader wants them to do is to develop SOPs for different situations. Use these SOPs during training. SOPs tell platoons or sections how to react and what the platoon leader/section chief wants them to do. In other words, they preclude having to issue the same instructions every time something needs to be done. This is important because once the battle begins, success or failure may depend on how fast the unit can react to the orders the platoon leader/section chief receives.

    There will be situations when special instructions will need to be issued. The time available will determine exactly how to issue the orders. Even when there isn't much time, the ideas shown below will help in issuing clear and complete instructions.


    An operation order is simply a presentation of the information and instructions needed to accomplish a specific mission. The amount of detailed information in the operation order will depend on the information already received and the time allowed for preparation.

    The example shows how to organize the platoon order to make sure troops are told everything they need to know. This format will help the platoon leader to prepare his order. Use it as a checklist and remember that it is only a guide. Give the order in words that the troops can understand. For example, he might say, "here's how we're going to do the job," rather than, "execution."


















    The most important part of receiving an order is knowing what the unit has to do in respect to the area and the supported unit. The chances of success are reduced unless the leader knows exactly what he is supposed to do, what other units are doing, and where and when these actions are to be done. After hearing the entire order, don't leave until all of the questions have been answered.

    As soon as the order is received and the commander's plan is understood, take a few minutes to go over the notes that were taken. Think about the order and ask these questions --

    • What mission(s) was received?
    • What is known about the threat?
    • How does the terrain and weather influence the operation?
    • What supplies or equipment are needed?

    Are any special tasks assigned to anyone?

    Mission. Identify exactly what the unit is to accomplish. Be sure to know how much time is required to prepare. Are there any restrictions or special tasks that apply to the platoon or section?

    A thorough understanding of the mission will allow the leader to make a time schedule for required preparations. The platoon/section leader will be told what time the operation is to begin and when the platoon/section must be ready to go. He should identify the things that must be done, then work backwards from the "ready" time to allow the troops time to finish each task. This technique is called the "reverse planning sequence."

    Threat. Develop the best picture of the Threat:

    • Where he is located.
    • What his strength is.
    • What type of weapons and equipment he has.

    This applies equally to the ground and air threat. Tell the troops as much as you know about how to destroy the kind of enemy you are likely to meet.

    Sometimes the enemy will use the same pattern over and over in a certain area. For example, if the enemy has been conducting ambushes around road junctions, tell the troops about it.

    Terrain and Weather. Most decisions on routes, sectors of fire, primary target lines, team positioning, and movement depend on the terrain. Study every bit of ground to properly employ men and equipment and gain an advantage over the enemy. Proper use of terrain will provide cover and concealment before, during, and after the operation; increase the effectiveness of Stinger fire; and decrease the effectiveness of enemy fire.

    Take into consideration how weather can influence the operation. Cold, heat, rain, or snow can create problems if men and equipment are not prepared. Also, certain weather conditions can lower Stinger effectiveness (refer to chapter 5).

    Supplies, Equipment, and Special Tasks. Consider the mission to be accomplished. Does the unit have the right kind of supplies and equipment? If the mission requires a special skill, such as tactical air movement, be sure to know how to do it. If help is needed, or if something is needed for the operation, but is unavailable, tell the leader/commander.


    Stinger units will be continually moving, whether employed in forward or rear areas. The section must move often to perform its mission and survive on the battlefield.

    Reconnaissance, selection, and occupation of position (RSOP) must be part of every unit's SOPs. SOPs for RSOP must be thoroughly understood and practiced repeatedly by unit personnel. SOPs must cover both day and night movements and occupations of position. They should include loading plans for each of the ways in which the unit can be moved -- rail, sea, air (both cargo aircraft and helicopter), and road. The platoon, normally, does not displace by itself. Therefore, this discussion will be limited to RSOP as applied only to the section. The section usually displaces with the supported unit and seldom conducts an RSOP independently.


    The basic sequence of actions for conducting RSOP is as follows:

  • Receive a movement warning order.
  • Issue the section warning order.
  • Plan the reconnaissance.
  • Brief personnel and issue orders.
  • Make a ground reconnaissance and select positions.
  • Plan and prepare for the occupation.
  • The time available for RSOP and circumstances under which it is conducted will vary greatly. A section chief will seldom have time to conduct a detailed ground reconnaissance and a methodical occupation of position. Often, time will permit only a hasty map reconnaissance, some quick oral orders, and a rapid displacement to new positions. No matter how abbreviated the RSOP, however, the basic actions remain about the same. The two actions most commonly abbreviated will be the ground reconnaissance and the planning of the occupation.

    After conducting a map reconnaissance, the section chief identifies the team primary/alternate positions to an accuracy of about 100 meters. The team chief can then pick the best position within the general area. If a ground reconnaissance is possible, the section chief or his designated representative will normally perform it. The purpose of the ground reconnaissance is to verify the tentative general positions selected in the map reconnaissance. Team members are not normally taken on the ground reconnaissance unless the section is released from its air defense mission. In this case, the senior team chief is normally left in charge of the section while the section chief conducts the reconnaissance.

    If the terrain is particularly difficult or the distance to be traveled long, the section chief should have the teams accompany the supported unit until reaching the new positions to insure air defense coverage during movement. Upon reaching the new positions, he can reposition his teams as necessary to take advantage of the terrain not shown by his map reconnaissance.

    A section RSOP may be required for two reasons:

    When a Defended Asset or Unit Moves. The reconnaissance party may consist of the section chief and guides from the supported unit. The teams would move with the supported unit providing air defense protection en route. Members of the recon party may be used as guides at the release point to insure a rapid and orderly occupation of position.

    As time permits, the section chief and his party make a detailed reconnaissance of each team position as well as his own CP location.

    The section chief will brief the guides as to each team's primary sector and primary target line. As the teams pass the release point, they will pick up their guides and move to the selected firing positions. If not already accomplished by the reconnaissance party, each team's primary task is to select the best firing position within the area assigned by the section chief and become operational. In addition, each team will select at least one or two alternate firing positions. As time permits, they will continue to improve primary and alternate positions, digging foxholes, camouflaging, and providing overhead cover.

    In this example, the section is given a new mission. The section is to defend a key bridge within a battalion rear area.

    In Response to a Change in Mission. This situation requires that the section chief move his section as a unit rather than by individual teams or as a supported unit movement. First, the section chief issues a warning order to allow his team chiefs to prepare for the movement. Using a map, the section chief normally spots locations for his teams. The section chief selects a route, an assembly area, checkpoints, and release points along the route.


    The Stinger platoon headquarters instance, the platoon leader could leave the element is small. It consists of the platoon leader and two other individuals. They are the platoon sergeant and the radiotelephone operator/driver. The element is transported on a 1/4-ton truck and trailer. This element is not staffed to operate as a large command post. The platoon leader normally locates his headquarters element in the vicinity of his parent battery. Depending on the tactical situation, the element can collocate with a centralized Stinger section which has good communications. Collocating with a centrally located section can be used to take advantage of additional personnel. For platoon sergeant in charge of the element and he could be free to visit his other sections, check on the troop's welfare, supplies, problems, etc. Also, more personnel would be available to man the element.

    The platoon leader can locate close to the brigade TOC. At this location, the headquarters element radio can be remoted from the vehicle to the TOC. He can assist the AD coordination officer from the supporting ADA battery to the TOC. This duty can give the Stinger platoon leader first-hand information on the air battle. The platoon radio must be monitored at all times, even if the teams are on standby.

    The platoon headquarters monitors the operational state of all sections by radio. The platoon headquarters maintains a Stinger situation map and overlays, and monitors the position and engagement reports of its sections. Personnel and equipment losses are monitored and reported to higher headquarters. The platoon headquarters monitors missile expenditure and coordinates missile resupply within the supported maneuver unit. If necessary, the platoon headquarters may have to reallocate existing missile stocks between sections. The platoon headquarters assists its sections in resolving any unforeseen problems which the section cannot handle.

    Air defense priorities within the supported maneuver unit are frequently reexamined to accommodate any change in plans and unit losses.


    For Stinger platoon day-by-day operations, some simple yet effective procedures may be used to keep the commander posted on the air defense situation. The platoon leader should be prepared to brief his commander on all air defense matters pertaining to the force whenever called upon to do so. In turn, he must also attend briefings on operations and intelligence so that he knows what the unit is doing. He should also keep the platoon sergeant abreast of the tactical situation and any on-going activities.


    The platoon leader has the platoon sergeant and the radiotelephone operator/driver to assist him.

    Platoon Sergeant. The platoon sergeant is the senior noncommissioned officer assigned to the Stinger platoon. The platoon has a very complex command and control problem for a unit of its size. The platoon controls a total of 18 teams operating in a large part of the division area. Some of the platoon sergeant's responsibilities and tasks include, but are not limited to: assisting the platoon leader in planning and conducting the defense of the supported unit against low-altitude air attack, establishing and maintaining communications with Stinger sections, and supervising the training of Stinger sections.

    Radiotelephone Operator/Driver. The radiotelephone operator (RATELO)/driver is required at the platoon and section levels. This position requires an experienced individual to operate the command net station and monitor the C/V command net radio and early warning net. He transmits time-critical air defense information to the sections when other personnel are absent or asleep. The platoon headquarters radio must be monitored 100 percent of the time.


    Several operational aids may be used by headquarters element personnel to assist them in their daily operations.

    Air Defense Status Chart. The operating status of the Stinger section and other pertinent data are maintained to provide a ready source of information for the headquarters personnel. A commander may want to look at the chart at any time, so it must reflect current status. The use and design of the chart will vary with the individual platoon. This chart could be mounted on a small board and covered with acetate. It does not have to be elaborate. In fact, the status can be shown on a sheet of paper as shown in the example.

    Operations Overlay.An operations overlay can be fabricated by superimposing a locally devised coordinate system on acetate over an operations map. An operations overlay of this type can be used for airspace coordination purposes so that the platoon leader can determine which Stinger teams are affected by friendly aircraft flights. The operations overlay for the platoon need not be elaborate. An overlay normally shows locations of friendly units, boundaries, control points, coordinating points, objectives, directions of attack, axes of advance, and routes of march.

    Stinger weapon positions are plotted on the operations overlay. The overlay should be classified according to the SOP.

    Journal of Events. The Stinger platoon headquarters should maintain a journal of events which reflects important actions concerning the platoon. States of alert, changes in weapons control status, etc., should be recorded. Entries should be simple and direct and need not be typed. Some units may require only that the Stinger platoon contribute entries to the unit's staff section journal. In any event, the Stinger platoon CP should operate in concert with the commander's or S3's directives in this matter. Sample entries are shown. (Detailed information pertaining to journals and workbooks is found in FM 101-5.


    Stinger personnel must take the initiative to obtain all information concerning the enemy air threat, the terrain, and the weather. Much intelligence information is disseminated from the division to brigade and from the brigade to the battalion. This information is available to the battery command post. Pertinent intelligence should be passed on to Stinger platoon personnel as required.

    Some of this information is gleaned from order of battle manuals, captured maps, situation reports (SITREPS), aerial photography, weather reports, etc. The platoon coordinates with the supported unit's intelligence section daily for updated intelligence and maps. Each Stinger section and team must have a map of the area in which they are operating.

    Threat Air Intelligence. Threat air intelligence will come down to the platoon from the battery CP. The platoon leader will forward pertinent information to the sections. The platoon leader may also visit the battery CP to obtain specific information. In the case of nondivisional Stinger units, the Stinger platoon leader may contact an air defense command post such as the C/V command post for this information, if time and distance permit. The Stinger teams need to know the composition of the air threat for aircraft recognition purposes. They must know as much as possible about enemy aircraft they will encounter and any new variations of ground attack techniques which may develop. A list of enemy aircraft is developed by intelligence agencies and provided through air defense channels to assist in identification after hostilities commence.

    Periodic updating of information pertaining to these aircraft will better prepare Stinger personnel for combat. Even during combat operation, the Stinger platoon leader must continue to reinforce aircraft recognition skills of Stinger personnel during inactive periods.

    Terrain and Weather. Terrain and weather affect Stinger operations. For example, terrain that affords good observation and long fields of fire favors the use of attack helicopters by the enemy. Stinger personnel must become adept at map reading and recognizing masked locations from which hostile aircraft/helicopters may launch surprise attacks. Weather conditions affect Stinger operations to a considerable degree. Stinger effectiveness is degraded during certain atmospheric conditions. In general, the higher the humidity, the shorter the range of infrared radiation acquisition. Other particles in the atmosphere, such as dust, smoke, fog, and rain, will absorb and scatter ir radiation and reduce ir acquisition range. Also, these conditions will reduce visual detection and identification ranges which are vital to gunner reaction times during an engagement.

    Weather affects all aspects of operations. The Stinger platoon leader must consider not only the effects of weather on his Stinger teams and weapons, but also its effect on air operations and on the terrain. The platoon leader may have to relocate teams in periods of reduced visibility to maintain overlapping coverage.


    The Stinger section chief selects the position where the section headquarters is to be located. The section headquarters will be located at some point between the teams and the supported unit CP or the Stinger platoon CP. The main consideration is whether he can effectively command and control the Stinger teams. To accomplish this, he must communicate with each team.

    Day-by-day operation of the headquarters element is very similar to that of the platoon headquarters. Many of the control requirements are time critical.


    The section chief positions his teams in accordance with the commander's air defense priorities. If the maneuver unit is supported by a Vulcan platoon, that platoon leader assumes overall control of ADA resources. In this case, the Stinger section chief assumes the role of a subordinate ADA leader.


    Section Chief. The section chief directly controls his teams and is heavily involved in air defense planning. He must transmit early warning to the teams, evaluate friendly flight information, and adjust the weapons control status in the affected area. He monitors and evaluates the individual positions of the Stinger teams. He must monitor the current ammunition and fuel status of the teams and keep the platoon leader informed on important supply problems.

    The section chief coordinates with company/battery/troop commanders and other leaders on positioning his teams. He coordinates with these leaders on security, rations, medical aid, communications requirements, etc., on a local level.

    Also, he must evaluate and forward after-action reports required by the unit SOP.

    The section chief may have to reallocate missiles. For example, if one team has expended all its missiles, he may have to reallocate missiles within the section until resupply is affected.

    In addition to these duties, the section chief advises the supported unit on air defense matters including small arms air defense.

    Radiotelephone Operator/Driver. The RATELO/driver assists the section chief to operate the section command net and operate the Stinger section headquarters.


    Operational aids at this level must be small and simple.

    Air Defense Status Chart. An air defense status chart at this level must show team locations and other pertinent information to section operations as shown in the example.

    Operations Overlay. An operations overlay can be made similar to the one at platoon level.


    The section chief must determine when and where to reprogram the Stinger team's IFF interrogators and recharge the IFF interrogator batteries. This servicing is based on the tactical situation. He may stagger this operation. That is, he may do this operation for three teams on one day and two teams on another day.

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