AVENGER PLATOON OPERATIONS AND ORGANIZATION
This chapter discusses missions, capabilities, organization, and roles of the Avenger platoon. The Avenger plays an integral role in the combined arms team, especially with winning the information war. The Avenger missions are to counter enemy RISTA efforts and to provide low-altitude air defense to the force and its critical assets.
The Army ADA mission is to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial and missile attack and surveillance. The Avenger platoon leader must understand Army operations doctrine so that the platoon's employment is synchronized with the supported force's main effort. The FAAD mission is to provide low-altitude air defense protection to the force and its critical assets. FAAD contributes to force-protection operations by countering threat RISTA and lethal aerial platforms. FAAD weapon systems ensure the force has the freedom to maneuver during combat operations.
FM 100-5 describes how the Army organizes and applies combat power and synchronizes operating systems on the battlefield to achieve victory. There are five tenets which describe the characteristics of a successful operation. These tenets apply to all leaders of combat, combat support, and combat service support organizations. The Avenger leader must practice and train within these tenets to be successful on the battlefield.
Initiative sets or changes the terms of battle by action and implies an offensive spirit in the conduct of all operations. Initiative requires that leaders anticipate events on the battlefield so that they and their units can act and react faster than the enemy. Applied to individual soldiers and leaders, initiative requires a willingness and ability to act independently within the framework of the commander's intent. The Avenger platoon must be able to anticipate enemy actions and organize its assets to defeat or destroy the enemy air threat before the air threat can negatively impact the friendly force or asset.
Agility is the ability of friendly forces to react faster than the enemy and is a prerequisite for seizing and holding the initiative. It is as much a mental as a physical quality. For the Avenger platoon, agility is the ability to adjust platoon coverage to meet varying air threats. The decision support matrix (DSM) and the execution matrix are examples of tools that the Avenger platoon leader may use to achieve agility through rapid concentration of air defense weapons against enemy air platforms.
Depth is the extension of operations in time, space, resources, and purpose. It is the ability to gain information and influence operations throughout the battlefield. The Avenger platoon achieves depth by using air defense direct fire and early warning assets throughout the entire supported unit's area of operations.
Synchronization is arranging activities in time and space to mass at the decisive point. It requires a clear understanding of the supported unit commander's intent. The Avenger platoon achieves synchronization by massing fires at the critical point on the battlefield. An example of synchronization for the Avenger platoon is the proper positioning of fire units (FUs) on the battlefield to mass fires at the critical point, according to the supported commander's intent, to destroy or defeat any enemy air threat.
Versatility is the ability to meet diverse mission requirements. The Avenger platoon must be flexible to meet diverse mission requirements. An example of versatility for an Avenger platoon is the ability to transition quickly from a defensive to an offensive mission.
The Avenger platoon is organic to divisional ADA battalions, armored cavalry regiments, and ADA brigades. The platoon must support a wide variety of missions dependent on the supported unit.
The Avenger platoon is configured into two different organizational structures. The Avenger Platoon Organization illustration depicts an Avenger platoon that consists of a platoon headquarters (HQ) and three Avenger sections. Units may configure their platoons into two sections of three squads, based on METT-T, but the next two illustrations depict the correct doctrinal platoon structure. The platoon HQ consists of the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and two driver-radio operators. The Avenger section consists of two squads with one FU per squad. The senior sergeant is the section leader and is also a squad leader for one of the squads, Each squad consists of a driver and gunner.
ADA battalions in heavy divisions, ACRs, and separate heavy brigades have four FUs per platoon as depicted in the following illustration. All others have six FUs per platoon as previously shown.
The responsibilities of personnel assigned to Avenger platoons are diverse. This section outlines the general responsibilities of the platoon personnel.
The Avenger platoon leader has dual responsibilities. He commands the Avenger platoon and in this capacity is responsible for its tactical employment and logistics. He may also be the special staff officer for air defense for the supported unit commander.
The platoon sergeant is second in command of the platoon. He must be proficient in all of the tasks normally accomplished by the platoon leader and be prepared to assume the platoon leader's responsibilities at a moment's notice. He must ensure that subordinate leaders are trained to perform leader duties two levels above their position in addition to their normal duties. He is responsible for the discipline and coordination of all logistics and maintenance support the platoon requires. The platoon sergeant must work in close coordination with the platoon leader to ensure unity of effort.
SECTION LEADER (DRIVER)/SQUAD LEADER (DRIVER)
The section leader may assume duties and responsibilities similar to the platoon leader when a section is task-organized separately from the Avenger platoon. He may be the air defense officer (ADO) for the supported unit, responsible for coordination with the staff. However, the Avenger section leader's primary responsibility is FU employment.
The section or squad leader has overall responsibility for the section or squad. The section or squad leader designates targets, routes of movement, and vehicle positions; determines weapons to be fired; and issues fire commands. He also maintains communications and carries out the platoon leader's or platoon sergeant's directives. The section or squad leader has primary responsibility for the maintenance of the Avenger and the training of his section or squad.
The section or squad leader has overall responsibility for his Avenger weapon system. The section or squad leader observes the battlefield to detect and identify targets. He issues fire control orders based on the current rules of engagement (ROE). The section leader is responsible for the proper emplacement of his assigned weapon system. The section or squad leader is also the primary driver.
The gunner observes the battlefield to detect and identify targets. The gunner is the primary operator of the weapon system. He is responsible for assisting the section or squad leader in the operation and maintenance of the Avenger weapon system. He must be prepared to assume all the duties and responsibilities of the section or squad leader.
BATTLE CAPTAIN CONCEPT
The battle captain concept is a technique used to assist the ADO and PSG in C 2 and logistics throughout planning, preparation, and execution. He is usually the senior section leader and is especially useful in helping the PSG transition to the platoon leader job. He can brief the PSG on the current tactical situation should the PSG have to become the platoon leader. The battle captain can also assist the platoon leader with all aspects of planning, preparation, and execution. His involvement can enhance command and control. The battle captain's responsibilities are as follows:
- Prepares to assume duties as PSG.
- Briefs PSG on current tactical situation (platoon and supported unit) to assist PSG's transition to platoon leader.
- Maintains contact and situational awareness with the supported unit.
- Assists with platoon command and control.
- Assists with PCIs, RSOP, and platoon rehearsals.
- Assists with planning and executing platoon service and support plan.
The Avenger weapon system is a lightweight, day or night, limited adverse weather FU employed to counter low-altitude aerial threats. The FU consists of two turret-mounted standard vehicle mounted launchers (SVMLs), a machine gun, a forward looking infrared (FLIR) sight, a laser range finder (LRF), and an identification, friend or foe (IFF). The gyrostabilized turret is mounted on the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV). The FU can launch a missile or fire the machine gun on the move or from a stationary position with the gunner in the turret. It can also be remotely operated from a location up to 50 meters away. Onboard communications equipment provides for radio and intercom operations. The system is capable of climbing a 31-degree slope at 4 MPH and traversing a 22-degree side slope from either side of the vehicle. Target engagement, and weapon characteristics and capabilities are addressed in Appendix K of this manual.
The Avenger's primary weapon is the Stinger missile. The technical data is critical to Avenger operations. See the Stinger Technical Data illustration below. For more information, see TM 9-1425-433-10.
M3P .50-CALIBER MACHINE GUN
The machine gun allows for aerial target engagement within the missile's dead zone and is also used for self-defense. See the illustration above.
The M3P machine gun has limited range and only 200 available rounds. Due to limited ammunition supply onboard, strict firing discipline is essential. The machine gun has a no-fire zone from positive 10 degrees to negative 10 degrees in elevation, and a cutout zone from 270 to 18 degrees in azimuth toward the front of the HMMWV. The turret is mounted on a modified M998 or M1097 HMMWV. The HMMWV provides good mobility over all types of terrain. The Avenger system is powered by two 12-volt system batteries that can be monitored on the HMMWV electrical system.
Platoon members must be knowledgeable of the Avenger's characteristics and capabilities. All platoon members must actively seek to minimize the Avenger's limitations to maximize its combat effectiveness on the battlefield. See the Avenger Components illustration.
ADDITIONAL CAPABILITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Avenger fire power and shoot-on-the-move capabilities tremendously enhance air defense protection for maneuver forces throughout the battlefield. This section addresses Avenger's added capabilities and mobility for survivability.
Turret (Gunner's Station)
The Avenger turret provides the gunner with unobstructed fields of view rotating through 360 degrees in azimuth and from negative 10 degrees to positive 68 degrees in elevation. An SVML is mounted on each side of the turret. Each pod holds four missiles. The load and reload time for eight missiles is six minutes (or seven minutes in MOPP 4).
M3P .50-Caliber Machine Gun
The M3P .50-caliber machine gun includes an ammunition box, a soft recoil mount, a remote charger, a flexible feed chute, and a brass and link collector.
The sensor package includes an optical sight, FLIR, LRF, IFF, and a fire control computer. With these sensors, the Avenger can acquire and track targets in any battlefield environment, such as darkness, dust, smoke, or adverse weather.
The optical sight. The optical sight is a driven reticle heads-up display which allows the gunner to manually acquire targets through the canopy and to aim the missiles.
FLIR. FLIR provides enhanced acquisition capability in various environments: night, smoke, rain, background clutter, and haze. The automatic video tracker (AVT) is a subsystem of the FLIR. The AVT provides autotrack of the FLIR targets.
Laser range finder. The LRF is a self-contained, CO2, eye-safe unit which provides accurate range information. The LRF is used to determine if the target is within the normal performance range of the missile. The LRF is more accurate and simpler for the gunner to use than MANPADS range ring profiles. It facilitates target engagements at maximum range.
IFF. The IFF distinguishes aircraft into three categories--positive friend, possible friend, and unknown. This aids the squad in the identification of targets. The IFF subsystem can provide the squad with up to four days of Mode 4 secure interrogations and several days of Mode 3 interrogations. It is essential that the interrogator be kept updated with Mode 4 data at least every four days.
Fire control computer. The fire control computer automates and simplifies several tasks required of the gunner during target engagement. These are superelevation, lead angle, shoot-on-the-move, and multiple engagements, as soon as one missile is activated. The system's automatic missile spin-up capability gives Avenger its ability to engage multiple targets.
Note: If the computer becomes inoperable, the section will convert to MANPADS.
Remote Control Unit. The gunner can operate the Avenger system remotely up to a distance of 50 meters using the RCU. The hand control switches and indicators on the RCU are the same as those on the gunner's console. However, adjustments to the FLIR console cannot be made from the RCU. As the environment or weather changes, it is critical that the FLIR be kept properly adjusted at all times so that the RCU remains effective.
The Simplified Handheld Terminal Unit
The SHTU displays track data and command and control information from the digital early warning net. The information is used for aerial target cues and WCS and ADW changes and acknowledgements.
An alert is defined as a warning signal of a real or possible danger such as an air attack. It is also a forewarning or preparation for action.
A cue is specific and timely three-dimensional positional data with tentative identification within a designated fire unit's range (see Appendix K).
The light and special divisions interim sensor (LSDIS) and ground-based sensor (GBS) capabilities are an example of the difference between alerting and cueing. Both systems provide timely aerial target data, but only the GBS can provide the specific positional data for a cue. The LSDIS can only alert (see Appendix E). Avengers equipped with navigational and location devices input exact FU location into the SHTU for target displays relative to the FU.
Avenger turrets without the environmental control unit (ECU) pose a heat hazard for gunners when required to operate inside the turret for long periods of time in extremely hot temperatures. In hot weather, units should use the RCU to permit the gunner to operate outside of the turret. In the future, all Avenger turrets will be equipped with an ECU that will allow the gunner to remain in the turret for long periods of time in hot and humid conditions.
Note: Gunners and observers must exchange positions frequently to avoid heat injuries.
The Avenger fire unit is top-heavy. Exercise extreme caution when operating the system on steep grades and side slopes. The driver must observe driving restrictions on the vehicle instrument panel, and not drive on side slopes greater than 22 degrees.
The Avenger's size, weight, and height are important factors when considering march routes or airlift for tactical vehicles. Planners, as well as vehicle drivers, must be aware of these physical characteristics. The Avenger weapon system is fielded on a light and heavy HMMWV. See both the Avenger (M998 and M1097) HMMWV Characteristics illustrations. For more information, see TM 9-1425-433-10.
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