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This chapter addresses other types of operations and the peculiarities associated with the tactical employment of air defense artillery units in support of these operations. A task force conducts operations that complement offensive and defensive operations. They may be a part of a larger operation, or in some cases, be performed alone. These operations may require augmentation by specialized equipment and personnel with special skills from brigade or above. In support of other combat operations, the basic principles and guidelines for the employment of air defense artillery weapon systems do not change.


Retrograde operations are conducted to economize forces, maintain the freedom to maneuver, or to avoid decisive combat. Brigades use retrograde operations to gain time, deceive the enemy, disengage, shorten lines of communications, or eliminate exposed flanks. The three types of retrograde operations are delay, withdrawal, and retirement.


The intent of delay operations is to trade space for time, inflict maximum damage on the enemy, and avoid decisive engagement. Delays consist of a variety of subordinate unit missions ranging from attacking and conducting ambushes to defending and conducting feints. The delay creates time to support other battlefield events, such as allowing reserves to reposition. A TF will conduct a delay as part of--

  • The covering force operation for defending or withdrawing forces.
  • The advance guard or covering force operation when meeting superior forces.
  • An economy-of-force operation to fix or contain an enemy attack on a low priority avenue of approach.
  • A deception operation to support a counterattack.

The delay is conducted using successive alternate positions. Air defense artillery units accompany and provide coverage to maneuver units in the delaying forces. The air defense artillery platoon leader must establish disengagement criteria which allows air defense artillery weapon systems to reposition and overwatch the movement of the delaying force. Depending on the distances between the occupied and subsequent positions, the BSFV platoon may be split into sections to provide air defense protection of the delaying force in the occupied position and their movement to the subsequent position. See the Tactical Delay illustration. Stinger teams will be dismounted if a section or the platoon is repositioned along the delay route to cover critical choke points or areas of expected air attack.


A withdrawal is conducted to remove a unit from combat, adjust defensive positions, or relocate the force. A withdrawal may be executed at anytime, by any size force, or during any type of operation. Preferably, a withdrawal is made while a unit is not under heavy enemy pressure.

Task forces normally conduct withdrawals using a covering force and a main body. If the TF is conducting a withdrawal as part of a brigade or division force, the larger unit may provide a covering force to help the TF break contact.


Retrograde Operations

Encircled Forces

Linkup Operations

Defile Operations

Relief in Place

Passage of Lines

Air defense artillery weapon systems supporting forward maneuver units in a withdrawal must be positioned to provide air defense protection as they are breaking contact. Air defense artillery weapon systems may be positioned along withdrawal routes or deployed with the withdrawing force (see illustration below). Stinger teams will remain mounted unless dismounting is necessary. Stingers will dismount at choke points and passage points. The air defense artillery platoon leader must coordinate with adjacent air defense artillery units to determine who has coverage responsibility.


A retirement is an orderly move to the rear by an element not in contact with the enemy. The TF conducts a tactical or administrative move to the rear along multiple routes. Security is essential: advance, flank, and rear guards are employed. Retiring units may travel in a tactical column or in convoy formations, increasing their vulnerability to enemy air attack. Since retrograde units travel in tactical road marches or administrative convoys, air defense assets may be pre-positioned at choke points, along likely air avenues of approach, or integrated into convoys. See the Air Defense Artillery Supporting a Retrograde Operation illustration.


All retrograde operations are difficult and inherently risky. To succeed, they must be well-organized and executed. A retrograde operation requires these specific elements.

Leadership and Morale

Soldiers must not perceive a move to the rear as a defeat. Leaders must maintain morale. Withdrawals must be conducted in a tightly controlled manner. Leaders must keep soldiers informed. Leaders must be present and set the example to maintain the soldiers' confidence.

Reconnaissance, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RISTA)

As combat power is echeloned to the rear, the RISTA threat increases. Air defense artillery assets must maintain vigilance to defeat the enemy air threat. During retrograde operations, air assaults and air insertions are likely.


Mobility for air defense artillery forces must be maintained. Retrograde operations are fluid in nature, and air defense assets must maintain the agility to adjust coverage throughout the operation.


Deception enhances the security of moving units and surprise by denying friendly unit dispositions to the enemy. The proper use of deception causes indecision and delay in enemy actions. Deception is aided by taking maximum advantage of darkness and other limited visibility conditions. Infiltration techniques are used to cover the relocation of units and material. Visual, electronic, acoustical, and thermal decoys can greatly enhance deception.

Conserve Combat Power

It is imperative for the commander to conserve the combat power of his unit during the retrograde operation. Future operations may depend on the use of this combat power.


Due to battlefield mobility and the nonlinear nature of the battlefield, there will be situations where forces become encircled or bypassed. Regardless of the operation, units may be cut off from other friendly forces either by design or due to rapidly changing situations. Whether defending strong points, retaining key terrain, conducting attacks, holding the shoulder of friendly or enemy penetrations, units face the possibility of encirclement. Encirclement occurs when a ground force has all of its ground routes of evacuation and reinforcement cut by the enemy.

Forces face encirclement most often when enemy forces bypass defending units or when advancing units are cut off by an enemy counterattack. The most important consideration of encircled forces is the continuation of their mission. The encircled force commander must attempt to establish communications with his higher commander. In the absence of communications, he must, however, act on his initiative within the intent of the higher commander to maintain the integrity of his fighting force. Encircled forces have several options. They can--

  • Defend until relieved.
  • Conduct a breakout toward friendly forces.
  • Attack and conduct small unit harassment operations (guerrilla warfare operations) to attrit enemy units from the main attack.
  • Attack rear-echelon enemy forces and installations to disrupt their operations.


The senior maneuver commander within the encirclement assumes control of all forces. He informs his superior of the situation and simultaneously begins to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Reestablish a chain of command.
  • Establish a viable defense.
  • Establish a reserve.
  • Organize fire support.
  • Reorganize logistics.
  • Establish security.
  • Reestablish communications if interrupted.
  • Continue the defense.
  • Maintain morale.


Encircled forces may elect to stay in position and defend encircled. Important considerations in the decision to stay and fight are--

  • Mission and commander's intent.
  • Exfiltrate from the encircled positions toward friendly forces.
  • Good defensive terrain.
  • Available reinforcement or relief.
  • Availability of the necessary combat support to sustain the operation.
  • The enemy's mobility.
  • Motivation and discipline of troops.


Breakout operations are planned, organized, and executed before the enemy has time to react. Commanders considering the breakout option face the critical demand of time. Encircled forces have to act before the enemy decides on a course of action and begins to contain or destroy the encircled forces.

The attack to breakout of an encirclement differs from other attacks only in that a simultaneous defense in other areas of the perimeter is maintained. To achieve a breakout, the commander accomplishes the following tasks:

  • Deceive the enemy as to time and place of the breakout attack.
  • Identify and exploit gaps or weaknesses in the encircling force.
  • Exploit darkness and limited visibility.
  • Organize the forces for the breakout.
  • Concentrate combat power at the breakout point.
  • Coordinate with supporting attacks.


If success of a breakout attack appears questionable and a relief operation is not planned, the least preferred option to preserve a portion of the force is through organized exfiltration. It can distract the enemy from his main effort and produce intelligence for the main force.

The encircled forces are organized into small groups under small unit leaders and exfiitrated during periods of limited visibility through gaps in the encircling forces. Equipment which cannot be taken is left behind and destroyed.


Air defense units that are caught with encircled forces will continue their air defense mission. They should orient their fires to the likely air avenue of approach. If a break-out force is planned, the air defense units should mass their fires to cover the force during the break-out. Air defense artillery leaders must rigidly enforce fire control measures to conserve ammunition.


Linkup operations are conducted to join two friendly forces. Both forces may be moving toward one another, or one may be stationary or encircled. Linkup operations may be conducted in a variety of circumstances. They are most often conducted to--

  • Complete the encirclement of an enemy force.
  • Assist the breakout of an encircled friendly force.
  • Join an attacking force with a force inserted in the enemy rear (for example, an airborne, air assault, or infiltration force).

For a TF linkup operation, the TF TOC establishes the command relationship between forces and the responsibilities of each. It also establishes control measures such as linkup points, boundaries between converging forces, fire support coordination line, restrictive fire lines, coordinated fire lines, and other measures to control maneuver and fires. Control measures may be adjusted during the operation to provide for freedom of action as well as positive control.

When one of the units involved is stationary, linkup points are usually located where the moving force's routes arrive at the location of the stationary force's security elements. Alternate linkup points are also designated since enemy action may interfere with linkup at primary points. Stationary forces assist the linkup by opening lanes in minefields, breaching or removing selected obstacles, furnishing guides, and designating assembly areas.

Linkup between two moving units is a difficult operation. Primary and alternate linkup points for two moving forces are established on boundaries where the two forces are expected to converge. As joining units move closer to one another, the need for positive control to avoid firing on one another must be coordinated by commanders to ensure that the enemy does not escape between the two forces. Leading elements of each force must be on a common radio net.

During linkup operations, air defense considerations must focus on air defense protection of friendly forces. There must be lateral communication between the air defense officers from both forces to assure an integrated and synchronized air defense effort. The battery TOC may assist in communications or synchronization during linkup operations. The air defense plan should incorporate the air defense priorities of both supported force commanders, the total number of air defense weapon systems available, and the factors of METT-T. Platoon and fire unit responsibilities must be planned, coordinated, and rehearsed. The supported force and parent unit must be informed of the disposition of air defense elements throughout the operation. Failure to synchronize the air defense plan may result in fire units with the same priorities and leave the task force vulnerable to air attack on unprotected air avenues of approach.

During linkup operations, particularly with airborne or air assault units, the rules of engagement become extremely important. The brigade A2C2 element must ensure timely dissemination of information and coordination so that air defense artillery units do not engage friendly aircraft that may be supporting the airborne or air assault units.


A defile operation is a critical and vulnerable mission. Because of terrain considerations, maneuver forces must mass into relatively small areas. The benefits of dispersion are lost and vulnerability to air attack increases. Air defense artillery units must provide protection to the force conducting the operation.


Defile drills through choke points or passage points are a routine, yet a critical phase of offensive operations. They pose particular challenges to the BSFV platoon. Because of terrain or mission constraints, maneuver units canalize forces into relatively narrow arcas, usually moving in column formation. The benefits of dispersion are lost and vulnerability to enemy indirect and direct aerial fires increases. Often, minimum cover and concealment exists at choke points. Targeting choke points is a common procedure. Choke points can be natural or man-made and can vary from bridges and mountain passes to passages through minefields or between obstacles. Passage lanes are choke points because they canalize the force while it moves through a stationary force.

Two techniques exist for providing air defense coverage at choke points. They are pre-positioned coverage and hasty coverage from the march. The BSFV platoon may use either of these techniques. Whenever possible, the Stinger teams should he dismounted and oriented to PTLs and STLs. The BSFV supplements the Stinger with a PTL and sector of fire.


River crossings are conducted to maintain the momentum of an operation. The approach to the water obstacle is made on a broad front whenever possible. Hasty crossings using captured bridges or fords are the products of rapid offensive action.

Detailed planning ensures that fire support and crossing means are available with two tactical concepts in mind. First, assault forces lead, making the initial assault of the obstacle and continuing the advance from the far side. Second, follow-on forces provide overwatch, direct and indirect fire support, crossing site security, and support assistance to the assault.

The BSFV platoon must be prepared to support river crossings by either hasty or deliberate operations. In either case, considerations are similar to providing air defense of a breaching operation. Massed friendly forces in a small area provide the enemy a target rich environment. Factors of METT-T and the IPB must be continuously monitored to determine whether the crossing will be opposed or unopposed. Planning and continuous coordination are critical to successfully providing air defense for the force.

The BSFV platoon leader must consider the following as he prepares his units to defend and negotiate obstacles:

  • Identify enemy air avenues of approach.
  • Know where local security is positioned.
  • Conduct a thorough reconnaissance.
  • Decide on the most suitable method for crossing obstacles.
  • Support the operation from the near and far side.
  • Include vehicles, personnel, equipment, and entrance and exit points in planning considerations.
  • Plan for continued operations once the crossing has been completed.
  • Consider the effects obscurants will have on weapon system's visual acquisition and identification of targets.
  • Ensure crossing assets are protected.
  • Identify key terrain on the far side that enemy aerial platforms may use for hide and standoff engagement positions.

The BSFV platoon leader must ensure that he knows what is happening during all phases of the operation. He must be flexible and aggressive in his planning to ensure air defense protection is provided during the entire crossing operation. See illustration of Air Defense Artillery in Support of a River Crossing.


Obstacles must be rapidly overcome to retain the initiative and to maintain momentum. When confronted with an obstacle, the task force will bypass, breach, or force through the obstacle. Bypass is accomplished through reconnaissance, while forcing through is chosen when there are no other alternatives. A force through will result in high losses of equipment and personnel. Regardless of the method selected, obstacles must not be the focus of attention and should be breached or bypassed as quickly as possible en route to accomplishing the mission.

The supported force air defense plan should be designed to protect the force initially in its maneuver configuration; however, once the commander gives the order to conduct an instride breach, the air defense protection must shift to protect the breach site. In this regard, air defense planning considerations are the same as for a river crossing. This does not imply that air defense assets necessarily move to the breach site, although some assets may. Air defense assets should remain with their respective maneuver elements establishing near side air defense protection. Positions should be established which take advantage of dominating terrain that cover enemy air avenues of approach into the area. Furthermore, air defense assets must establish positions on the near side of the breach that ensure the effective range of the weapons system extends to the far side of the breach. This will ensure air defense protection for breach and assault force elements on the far side of the breach until far side security is established and near side air defense elements reposition to the far side of the breach. BSFVs will usually accompany support force elements through the obstacle network to the far side of the breach.

The BSFV platoon leader must coordinate with all air defense elements in the vicinity of the breach to ensure BSFV platoon fires are integrated with the battery's air defense plan. Air defense positions and fire control measures must be planned throughout the depth of the breach. This will prevent one BSFV squad from duplicating the effort of another BSFV squad. See illustration of FAAD Breaching Operations.


Relief in place is an operation in which a unit is replaced in combat by another unit. Responsibilities for the combat mission and the assigned sector or zone of action are assumed by the incoming unit. A relief in place can occur during offensive or defensive operations.

The primary purpose for a relief in place is to maintain the combat effectiveness of committed elements. A relief in place may be conducted to--

  • Give a unit a break from combat when it has taken heavy losses.
  • Relieve the stress of prolonged operations in adverse weather or terrain.
  • Replace a unit that requires medical treatment or decontamination as a result of combat losses or exposure to chemical or nuclear munitions.
  • Conform to a larger tactical plan.

In the relief in place of a unit, the BSFV platoon attached to the relieving force will coordinate with the replaced force air defense artillery element. This coordination will cover, but is not limited to, air IPB, rules of engagement, current air activity, present fire unit positions, A2C2 information, the operations plan, logistics, and communications. Air defense protection must be planned for all forces during all phases of the relief in place.

As the relieving BSFV squads arrive, they will move out to designated positions selected by the platoon leader. The squads emplace and are integrated into the present unit's air defense coverage.

This overlap of air defense protection will aid in ensuring good coverage. Once the replaced unit's systems have departed, the platoon leader will assume complete control of the mission. The platoon leader must do the following before assuming control:

  • Relieve air defense artillery systems in place; do not degrade air defense.
  • Coordinate with the departing unit about the enemy situation, specifically the departing unit's assessment of air avenues of approach.
  • Recommend air defense priorities to the supported commander.
  • Determine the air threat and enemy capabilities.
  • Evaluate air avenues of approach.
  • Confirm the present WCS and ADW.
  • Confirm hostile criteria and ROEs.
  • Confirm the locations of friendly AD units.
  • Position fire units according to the supported commander's AD priorities.
  • Establish communications with early warning sensors in the area.
  • Obtain and disseminate airspace control measures.


A passage of lines is conducted to allow a moving unit to pass through a stationary unit. It can be conducted as part of offensive, defensive, or retrograde operations. A passage of lines may be designated as a forward passage or rearward passage. A passage of lines is rarely a primary mission; it is usually performed incidental to a mission.

In planning a passage of lines, air defense is absolutely essential. Whether passing forward or to the rear, the moving unit will be forced to move slower and often in some type of column formation during the passage. Congestion in assembly areas after the passage and the linear nature of the movement presents a lucrative target to hostile air assets. As a result, air defense must be coordinated with the stationary unit. In most cases, the stationary supported force will be able to protect the passing force, allowing the passing force supporting air defense assets to move with them. However, if the passing force requires static air defense coverage, the terrain will have to be coordinated with the supported stationary force.

The stationary force BSFV platoon may be reinforced or augmented with additional ADA elements to provide air defense protection for the passage of lines. It is imperative that the moving force ADA platoon leader coordinate with the stationary force ADA platoon leader for the position of all air defense elements supporting the passage of lines. Furthermore, he must develop and coordinate an air defense plan in the event the moving force becomes static.

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