This chapter discusses the role of the Avenger platoon as part of the collection of FAAD weapon systems in force-projection operations. It discusses techniques and special planning considerations needed to support the maneuver force during force-projection operations. The focus is on how to counter and defeat enemy aerial platforms from early entry through postconflict activities. Avenger considerations for each force-projection stage are addressed. The chapter includes discussion on other FAAD systems as well as echelons above platoon level so that Avenger platoon leaders can understand their role in the overall operation.
In general, FAAD doctrine for force-projection operations may be applied to both contingency and mature theaters of operations in which a force must operate without US base support, and in which the threat is capable of attacking any point in the area of operations (AO). The stages of force projection include mobilization (if necessary), predeployent activities, deployment, entry operations (which include expansion and buildup operations), postconflict or postcrisis operations, redeployment, and demobilization. This chapter will primarily concentrate on the stages of early entry through postconflict operations.
The overall focus for FAAD is to protect the force from low-altitude aerial threats during force-projection operations. FAAD systems accomplish this by denying enemy intelligence gathering efforts through countering reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA), reducing the enemy's aerial combat power, allowing the force freedom of maneuver, and protecting the force's critical assets. See the FAAD in Force Projection illustration.
Each FAAD system plays a specific role. Avenger focuses on countering enemy aerial RISTA efforts and providing force protection to the supported force and designated critical assets. The BSFV provides freedom of maneuver to heavy forces, thereby providing the ground force commander with the opportunity to seize the initiative and achieve rapid, decisive victory. Stinger teams are essential for light and special forces and enhancing force protection for heavy forces. Stinger teams provide the flexibility and versatility needed on a fluid battlefield by augmenting the coverage of other FAAD systems. FAAD C3I allows for a more effective air defense synchronization by providing detection and tracking data which support the slew-to-cue requirements, early warning, and situational awareness, as well as reducing the potential for fratricide.
Threat tactics will vary by country, and there will be certain universal operational objectives that can be expected by all threat nations. The expected objectives are: to cause massive casualties, interdict force buildup and movement to contact, and minimize their own battle losses. To accomplish these objectives, threat forces will attempt to make maximum use of their survivable ground-based fire and maneuver systems as their primary weapon systems of choice. Their less-survivable systems and manned aerial assets will be their second choice for munitions delivery.
Tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs) are the most rapidly spreading air threat system. Their flight profiles do not operate in the low-altitude spectrum, but their targets are found throughout the battlefield framework. TBM targets are mostly stationary sites such as airports, seaports, logistics sites, and battle command facilities. The TBM threat can exist throughout the du ration of US military operations. Although the Avenger is not responsible for countering TBMs, the Avenger platoon leader must be pre pared to advise commanders on this threat and passive measures that should be employed.
The primary aerial threats that must be countered by FAAD systems are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles, and rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. Key characteristics of these priority threats are summarized next.
UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES
UAVs include both drones and remotely piloted vehicles. They are inexpensive, easily procured or manufactured, and versatile. There are over 100 UAV programs being pursued by at least 33 countries. Their small radar cross sections (RCSs) make them very difficult to detect and track. Payloads may consist of radar seekers, high-explosive warheads, FLIR cameras, laser designators, TV, thermal imaging devices, chaff, decoy, and electronic attack capabilities. Ranges can vary from 25 to 800 kilometers, and the upper limit of flight endurance reaches 40 hours. They perform a wide variety of missions including RISTA, suppression of enemy air defense, ground attack, decoy, communications relay, and chemical detection. The RISTA mission, which uses UAVs to pass real-time information back to threat long-range attack systems, is the greatest near-term concern for forward area air defenders and the force commander.
CMs are considered the most stressing threat because of the difficulty in detecting them at launch or during flight, and the inability to destroy them at extended ranges. They can be packaged with a variety of payload options with ranges from 10 to 400 kilometers, and may be launched from the ground, air, or sea. CMs, with their increasing accuracies and warhead diversity, are a potent threat.
Versatility and survivability make rotary-wing aircraft ideal for logistics resupply, air assault, command and control, and heavily armed weapons platforms for attack roles. Rotary-wing aircraft currently exist in every potential theater US forces may enter. Many countries in these theaters possess dedicated attack helicopters. Armed with standoff antitank guided missiles, these helicopters can inflict heavy casualties on the force and destroy critical assets. The proliferation of utility helicopters is also of concern. Utility helicopters, combined with standoff munitions and state-of-the-art target acquisition technology, can produce less expensive, robust helicopter capabilities for any country.
Although fixed-wing aircraft no longer constitute the principal air threat to ground forces, the following types of fixed-wing aircraft may be employed by the enemy against friendly forces: bombers, fighter-bombers, fighters, and close air support aircraft. Any of the fixed-wing family may carry tactical air-to-surface missiles (TASMs), while only the larger ones will carry CMs. Improvements to fixed-wing aircraft will include increased survivability and improved fire control accuracy.
An area air defense commander (AADC) designated by the joint task force or theater commander will plan and control air defense operations. The AADC establishes theaterwide rules of engagement. Forces will receive air defense warnings and weapon control status from the joint force air component commander (JFACC).
Force-projection operations are inherently dynamic. The platoon leader must consider the following effects on command and control:
- Forces deployed will likely be joint. Joint operations are complex operations defined as integrated military activities of two or more service components of the US military. Their complexity will make command and control more difficult.
- The political concerns used to develop the ROE may conflict with the physical security needs of the force, causing the leader to carefully balance physical security, mission, and ROE.
- The ROE are sometimes established late, requiring flexibility on the part of air defenders.
- The Avenger platoon leader will execute a counter-RISTA mission as part of a higher headquarters counter-RISTA plan. The primary consideration is security. The mission will be planned at a minimum by the battery commander. Counter-RISTA mission considerations are--
- Security for the ADA fire units throughout the mission.
- Terrain management.
- Airspace coordination.
- Sensor plan to support the mission.
- FAAD C3I support.
- EW plan.
- Mission duration (day and night).
- Logistics plan.
Avenger platoon leaders need to understand the following basic factors which are common to force-projection stages prior to operations:
- Air defense will be a joint mission. The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps air elements will counter the threat fixed-wing assets while the Army and Marine Corps ground air defense units will counter the missile and low RCS threats (UAV, RW, CM, and FW) not destroyed by friendly air defense.
- Whenever possible, US forces will seek unopposed entry. However, in opposed or unopposed entry, operations forces and facilities in and around the debarkation point (APOD, SPOD, staging areas, and supply points) are extremely vulnerable to air and missile attacks.
- Expansion operations may cover vast distances, as in Operation Desert Storm.
- The ground commander may be forced to accept risk at some stage or stages. The degree of risk he is willing to accept will drive air defense priorities, coverage densities (weighted coverage versus balanced fires), and the number of deployed systems.
- Early deployment of FAAD assets is crucial to the success of entry operations.
- FAAD systems should be oriented to the threat's primary avenue(s) of approach. Balanced fires employment coverage of a defended asset will be the exception not the norm. Threat aerial movement will be restricted by US and coalition force's fixed-wing air superiority, especially over friendly air space. Threat forces operating UAV and or CM platforms will attempt to use terrain and varied flight profiles to evade US sensors. These routes should be identified during air IPB analysis.
- Avengers deployed in a counter-RISTA role with light and special divisions should be positioned farther forward from the defended assets and units to allow more time to engage because the LSDIS only provides two-dimensional data (azimuth and range). This increases search time for target detection. At a minimum, the following planning considerations (in addition to the commander's intent and priorities, aerial IPB, supported force scheme of maneuver, METT-T, and asset criticality) must be assessed by the Avenger platoon leader during the development of his plan.
During the METT-T and IPB analysis, the Avenger platoon leader performs the following tasks to ensure such areas as aerial composition, capabilities, limitations, and ground force dispositions are addressed:
- Identify the number and type of platforms that are projected to be operating within the AO and that pertain to the assigned air defense mission. An example would be RISTA platforms (UAV, RW, and FW) that may be operating within the assigned sector during a counter-RISTA mission.
- Identify specific capabilities and limitations of sensor and or weapon packages of the projected aerial platforms. Some examples of RISTA platform capabilities are sensor types detection, recognition, and acquisition ranges; downlinks (real time versus nonreal time); relay capability; platform endurance; and platform range. Examples of weapon package capabilities are: maximum ranges, attack profiles, ordnance release points, guidance systems, and warhead types.
- Identify any platform limitations and how they affect the performance of the enemy's mission.
- Address how the presence or absence of enemy ground forces in the AO affects the employment of the Avenger systems.
When performing the following tasks, the platoon leader will address the capabilities and limitations risk areas for the Avenger and other ADA systems during his METT-T and IPB analysis. They are as follows:
- Identify the amount of risk the supported force commander is willing to accept and how it affects the employment of the Avenger fire units.
- Identify Avenger weapon system and FAAD sensor capabilities and limitations against the projected aerial threat and address how they affect the air defense plan. An example of this is the Stinger missile's engagement capability versus a UAV with standoff capability.
- Identify other available ADA systems operating within the AO and address how they contribute or hinder the air defense plan (that is, having only one sensor [GBS or LSDIS] may affect employment of the weapon systems).
Avenger should be the FAAD system of choice in countering enemy aerial RISTA platforms. Avenger is the most effective FAAD system capable of receiving and using a C3I cue. The weapon system provides rapid reaction and multiple engagements within seconds. The Stinger missile's limited engagement range against UAVs may be overcome by sound IPB, positioning well forward from the defended asset, and the ability of the Avenger to use C3I data.
When conducting a counter-RISTA defense for critical assets, Avenger should be positioned far enough forward and away from the asset (along anticipated air avenues of approach) to negate an enemy UAV's standoff detection capabilities (most stressing aerial RISTA threat). See Avenger Employment During Expansion and Buildup paragraph below. A current planning factor of deploying 5 to 7 kilometers forward and away from the asset should be used. This planning factor is threat-dependent and FU security-dependent. The employment distance may vary by country and region depending on aerial platform capabilities. The standoff UAV must close to within a specific range of the critical asset and at a low altitude to obtain discrete target recognition. With Avenger positioned forward and out from the asset, the UAV will be well within the Stinger missile's engagement envelope prior to collecting any target information. Positioning the fire unit too close to the critical asset may result in its inability to engage the UAV before it obtains RISTA data. By developing his air defense plan to counter the standoff UAV, the Avenger platoon leader will also enable his fire units to counter other aerial platforms (RW, FW, and CM) prior to ordnance release.
The entry operation is the most vulnerable period when preparing for war, and the Avenger platoon will most likely be one of the first units deployed to defend the entry area. The platoon leader must ensure that his platoon is combat ready to include training, physically and mentally, for this type of operation.
An example of a joint force entry operation may begin by forces deploying from CONUS and other locations via airlift and sealift for ports of debarkation contained within or near the area(s) of operations. Upon debarkation, the forces are marshaled into staging areas to prepare for future operations or further movements. Deploying forces are most vulnerable, and the success of the operation is at greatest risk, during initial entry operations, especially forced entry operations. Aerial ports and seaports of debarkation (APODs and SPODs), as well as staging areas, will be lucrative targets for threat aerial platforms. Throughout this stage, enemy UAVs conducting RISTA missions can reveal details about arriving forces and provide targeting information to long-range attack systems.
The FAAD mission during this stage focuses on denying enemy aerial RISTA efforts. FAAD weapon systems and FAAD C3I (Avenger and GBS) should be deployed within the earliest airlifts to ensure composite defense against the threat spectrum. Avenger will provide the requisite firepower and mobility to accomplish the counter-RISTA mission with required alerting and cueing data provided by the GBS. In addition to integrating with other Army air defense artillery systems, FAAD elements integrate their weapon and sensor coverages with deployed joint and combined arms defenses.
Protection of forces and equipment in this stage requires FAAD systems to be positioned to maximize overlapping fires, but depend on the factors of air IPB, METT-T, and asset criticality. Positioning based on an in-depth IPB will provide for defense against threat aerial platforms.
The Avenger platoon leader must deny the enemy his "eyes." Avenger must be positioned to negate aerial RISTA platform detection capabilities. At a minimum, when planning air defense protection, the Avenger platoon leader must consider the commander's intent and priorities, aerial IPB, support force scheme of maneuver, METT-T, and asset criticality. Stinger teams and ground protection from the maneuver force may be deployed to augment Avenger platoon coverage during this stage of operations. The Avenger platoon leader may rely on liaison or coordination with the USAF for long-range early warning information until the battery or battalion C3I elements arrive. The platoon leader should check first to see if corps or echelons above corps (EAC) theater missile defense (TMD) has deployed early to counter ballistic missile threats; this would mean liaison teams may already be established for early warning information. Avenger platoons must receive early warning from one of the options. Early warning is a must if the Avengers are to be effective. See the FAAD in Entry Operations illustration.
The Avenger platoon leader must ensure integration of his tire units into the battery and other air defense weapon systems planning and coverage as follow-on forces arrive. As heavy forces are introduced into the entry operations, they will deploy with their organic FAAD battalions and additional follow-on corps ADA brigade elements. The Avenger platoon leaders will be relieved on order and will move with the rest of the battery to provide air defense for their brigade and divisional force assets.
Threat in Entry Operations
Early-on entry forces may debark and deploy in an air inferiority or air parity environment. The threat will have more available air assets during this stage than any other. He can be expected to use all aerial platform types (TBM, UAV, RW, CM, and FW) against lucrative targets in the areas of debarkation. UAVs will conduct RISTA operations to primarily gather battle damage assessment (BDA), and intelligence and targeting information of troop and logistical concentrations. Low-altitude aerial threats (RW, CM, and FW) will be employed in attack operations against APODs, SPODs, assembly areas, and supply points.
Operations for Avenger During Entry Operations
Early-entry FAAD elements (Avenger, GBS, and LSDIS) must integrate their AD coverage with those of the joint and combined air defense assets. Entry operations will primarily be a corps or EAC responsibility. This corps and EAC ADA brigade can be expected to deploy the initial FAAD forces in country. These forces will provide protection for the ports of debarkation and initial assembly and staging areas. Follow-on corps and EAC FAAD elements should be used to augment division ADA requirements as needed. This follows the higher-to-lower support philosophy.
The counter-RISTA defense of protected forces and assets in this stage requires Avengers to be positioned to maximize early engagement depending on the air IPB, METT-T, asset criticality, and the amount of risk the supported force commander is willing to accept. See the Avenger in Entry Operations illustration. This positioning, based on an in-depth air IPB and METT-T, will provide for defense against RISTA UAVs and, in turn, other low RCS threats. Note: Avenger platoon leaders should develop their plans to negate the most stressing threat (that is, standoff UAV detection range versus RW and FW ordnance release points). By focusing their plan in this manner, all other low-altitude threats should enter within the engagement envelopes of the Avenger fire units prior to becoming threats to the force. MANPADS teams may be deployed to augment Avenger platoon coverage during this stage.
The Avenger platoon must take advantage of its mobility to ensure its survivability while giving maximum air defense protection to the supported force and critical assets. Avenger fire units must conduct rapid movement to selected positions upon debarkation and quickly become operational.
EXPANSION AND BUILDUP OPERATIONS
Expansion and buildup operations set the conditions for victory. Buildup in combat power, supporting forces, and equipment occurs during this phase of operations. Expansion of the force and rapid buildup may include establishing forward operating and logistics bases, expanding the lodgement, closing the remainder of the force in country, linking up with other forces, and preparing for future operations. During this phase, units road march or conduct movement to TAAs. These movements can be quite extensive, up to several hundred kilometers. Within the assembly areas, units are equipped, rehearsed, and prepared to initiate operations.
The FAAD counter-RISTA systems of choice are the Avenger, GBS, and FAAD C3I. Denial of threat observation of force composition and routes of movement will require that the Avenger weapon systems and sensors be pre-positioned along the routes and or positioned with the screening force to allow for tactical flexibility. See the FAAD Employment During the Expansion Phase (Road March) illustration below. Stinger and BSFV may be required to augment the defense. The Avenger platoon leader will position his squads and teams in such a manner as to ensure that threat aerial RISTA platforms cannot observe friendly force movement or assets. Avenger platoons should be prepared to conduct the counter-RISTA mission well forward and to the flanks of the route areas, ensuring continued denial of threat aerial information gathering efforts.
THREAT IN EXPANSION AND BUILDUP
The threat will focus on conducting RISTA operations to locate unit movements, determine unit sizes and strengths, and postulate their ultimate destinations. UAVs will be the primary aerial RISTA platform. Information obtained by UAVs will be relayed back to the enemy who uses any attack means necessary to inflict maximum casualties, inhibit momentum, and destroy forces. These attack means may include lethal UAVs, cruise missiles, and rotary-and fixed-wing aircraft.
AVENGER IN EXPANSION AND BUILDUP
During movement, the denial of threat aerial observation of force composition and direction and routes requires FAAD elements (Avenger, GBS, and LSDIS) to be pre-positioned along the routes. The magnitude and duration of the counter-RISTA defense are dependent upon the amount of risk to the force the supported force commander is willing to accept. The least risky operations essentially call for a concentrated employment of weapon systems and sensors deployed along the entire route for the length of time needed to move the force. This employment is asset intensive and unrealistic because the FAAD mission for entry operations is still ongoing. The combination of the two missions requires the employment of both corps and EAC and divisional FAAD assets. A more probable approach will incorporate some degree of risk into the defense, thus requiring fewer fire units and sensors.
Avengers should be employed to maximize early engagement. If risk is accepted, FUs can be employed with gaps between systems. See the Avenger in Counter-RISTA Role During Movement illustration. Deployment, weighted toward the anticipated air avenues of approach, could effectively counter route observation by a UAV using a standoff loiter, direct fly-over, or zig-zag profile. See the Flight Profiles for UAVs illustration. Deploying Avengers with gaps between coverage requires fewer fire units than deploying Avengers that have overlapping or touching coverage for the same route distance. Some risk is incorporated into the air defense plan, but is acceptable. This spacing is not only predicated on IPB and forward positioning, but is also based on the improbability of a threat aerial platform having detailed IPB of air defense coverage, flying a perfect course between the deployed Avengers, and reaching the target area.
Avengers protecting the TAAs will be positioned well forward and to the flanks of the assembly area, to deny enemy aerial RISTA. The maneuver force will be positioned in the TAAs for final preparation just prior to launching the attack. Stinger MANPADS teams augment air defense coverage, and BSFVs are positioned with their supported maneuver element preparing to conduct operations with the maneuver force. The low-altitude air defense mission is to ensure that the supported force commander retains the element of surprise and the ability to mass his forces at the place and time he chooses. See the TAA Protected by FAAD (Expansion and Buildup Phase) illustration.
Passive defense measures should be the dominant deployment guideline for forces located in TAAs. Concealment and surprise must be maintained. Avengers, supported by GBS and LSDIS, provide counter-RISTA protection maximizing early engagement. See the TAA Defended by Avenger illustration below. Avengers should be ready to engage any aerial threat (RW, CM, and FW) but should only do so if they or the force is attacked. Avenger sections must understand that most threat RISTA assets (UAVs, RW, and FW) have the ability to rapidly disseminate intelligence information. Priority for Avenger deployment should be to deny the enemy this capability.
During operations, maneuver forces deploy out of TAAs and into attack formations that facilitate movement and mass sufficient combat power to ensure decisive victory. Commanders adjust their tempo appropriately as they anticipate closing with enemy forces. They decide where their forces can deploy into formations that facilitate the initial contact and still provide freedom of action for the bulk of their forces. Avenger and FAAD C3I will be deployed with the covering force, along the flanks and in overwatch positions, of the maneuver force and continue to deny threat aerial RISTA efforts while protecting the movement. BSFV platoons deploy with their maneuver elements. Stinger MANPADS augment air defense coverage of the maneuver force. See the FAAD Operations (When Deploying From a TAA) illustration.
The threat will attempt to counter the attack with a myriad of aerial platforms. RISTA UAVs will seek to determine friendly unit locations, movements, and objectives. Aerial and artillery strikes will be generated from the intelligence gathered against targets such as the maneuver force, forward area rearm and refuel points (FARPs), aviation forward operating bases (FOBs), command and control nodes, reserve troop concentrations, logistical sup port areas, and terrain features or obstacles which could constrict unit movements, thereby resulting in massed forces. Lethal UAVs can be expected to be employed against maneuver forces as they advance towards and close with enemy forces. The lethal UAVs, if used for such purpose, can be effective at disabling FAAD C3I or destroying armored vehicles. Cruise missiles will be targeted against logistical concentrations and command and control nodes. Rotary-wing aircraft will be used to attack the forward elements and the flanks of the advancing maneuver forces to slow their tempo, cause confusion, and thereby inflict maximum casualties. They will also conduct operations, cross-forward line of own troops (FLOT), close air support (CAS), and air insertion operations. These attack and armed helicopters constitute the most widespread and capable air threats to ground forces in the close battle.
During this stage of force-projection operations, the primary focus of FAAD weapon systems shifts from counter-RISTA to force protection. Avenger will be deployed along the flanks of the maneuvering force (IPB and METT-T dependent) to defend against rotary-wing aircraft and lethal UAVs, and to counter enemy aerial RISTA efforts. Stinger augments the air defense coverage and provides flexible force protection to the AD commanders. BSFVs in support of maneuver units will be primarily used to counter threats such as RW and lethal UAVs. FAAD C3I elements must preplan positions throughout the area of operations and then occupy those positions to ensure continuous extended coverage and cueing information is provided to FAAD systems supporting the force. See the FAAD Protection During Maneuver Operations illustration.
At the close of the decisive battle, friendly forces may be required to prepare for follow-on operations. They must rearm, refuel, and reconstitute personnel and equipment. Friendly forces are extremely vulnerable while conducting these types of activities. They become lucrative targets for enemy long-range strike systems which are able to detect and target them based on information received from enemy RISTA UAVs. Low-altitude air defense, primarily Avengers, shield the force from the enemy reconnaissance and attack and ensure success of future operations.
During postconflict operations, friendly forces are marshaled into staging areas for follow-on operations or redeployment. Forces will either be redeployed to another theater of operation or back to CONUS.
While the most significant aerial attack capabilities may have been eliminated, friendly forces must be prepared to counter isolated air and missile attacks from any remaining threat forces. Avenger platoons will be primarily concerned with countering potential enemy RISTA efforts, thereby providing force security and preventing surprise attacks. These actions allow for unimpeded reconstitution and unharassed redeployment of forces. FAAD systems in postconflict operations will defend in the same manner as in entry operations.
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