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Chapter 2

Techniques for Self-Defense Warnings

This chapter implements STANAG 2047

This chapter explains how to use proven techniques to accomplish self-defense against air attack. In the past, US forces have had air superiority and the US Army has fought on the battlefield with little concern about surveillance or attack from the air. However, we could face a significant air threat in our next war or military operation. Potential enemies could have significant air capabilities. We can expect that friendly units will be targeted and attacked from the air as well as from the ground. Because air defense artillery has limited resources, many Army units and facilities will not receive dedicated air defense protection. These units and facilities must be prepared to protect themselves. All units must reduce their vulnerability to air action by implementing passive and active air defense measures.



2-1. The air defense command and control structure uses air defense warnings, local air defense warnings, and directed early warning to alert all members of the force of hostile air activities. Non-ADA units may monitor ADA early warning nets. These nets contain additional information for ADA units to include more detailed track information. However, the format of directed early warning does not necessarily follow the SALUTE format. Track location will be reported using the same systems as directed early warning. Consult unit SOI to find the appropriate frequencies to monitor.

2-2. Air defense warnings represent the area air defense commander's evaluation of the probability of air surveillance or attack. The AADC issues air defense warnings throughout the entire theater of operations. The three ADWs are red, yellow, and white.

  • ADW Red. Attack or surveillance by hostile aerial platforms is imminent or in progress. This means that hostile aerial platforms are within a respective area of operations or in the immediate vicinity of a respective area of operations with a high probability of entry.
  • ADW Yellow. Attack or surveillance by hostile aerial platforms is probable. This means that hostile or unknown aerial platforms are en route toward a respective area of operations.
  • ADW White. Attack or surveillance by hostile aerial platforms is improbable. ADW White can be declared either before or after ADW Yellow or ADW Red.


2-3. The AADC routinely issues ADWs for dissemination throughout the entire theater of operations. ADWs describe the general state of the probable air threat and apply to the entire area. Any commander, after coordination and approval from the AADC, may issue a higher level of warning for his command but not a lower level. The chain of command must ensure that every soldier knows the current ADW. ADWs will be sent out on ADA command nets and ADA early warning nets at every level. It is the responsibility of air defense officers at every level to inform their respective supported commanders of the current ADW. Army commanders must then inform their subordinate units of the ADW.


  2-4. While ADWs describe the probability of hostile air action over the entire theater of operations, LADWs tell with certainty what the air threat is for a specific part of the battlefield. LADWs are designed to alert a particular unit, several units, or an area of the battlefield of an impending air attack. ADA units use LADWs to alert Army units about the state of the air threat in terms of "right here and right now" and can be used in conjunction with ADWs. Examples of LADWS are described below:

  • DYNAMITE-Attack is imminent or in progress.
  • LOOKOUT-Attack is likely.
  • SNOWMAN-Attack is not likely.

LADWs do more than describe the current level of air threat in the immediate area. They also require specific air defense reactions from receiving units. Unit commanders must establish in their TSOPs what they want their units to do when an LADW is received.

  2-5. Rules of engagement are the positive and procedural management directives which specify the circumstances and limitations under which forces will initiate or continue combat engagement with encountered forces.


2-6. Commanders at all echelons have the responsibility to take whatever action is necessary to protect their forces and equipment against air or missile attack. When under attack, the right of self-defense takes precedence over any other established rules and procedures which normally govern engagements.

  2-7. Hostile criteria is the description of conditions under which an aerial platform may be identified as hostile for engagement purposes. They are the basic rules for identification of friendly or hostile aerial platforms, established by the appropriate commander. The commander may consider speed and altitude, among other requirements, within a specified airspace when he establishes the hostile criteria. He may also consider specific enemy characteristics or hostile acts.


2-8. Weapon control statuses- WEAPONS FREE, WEAPONS TIGHT, or WEAPONS HOLD- describe the relative degree of control of air defense fires. Weapon control statuses apply to weapon systems, volumes of airspace, or types of air platforms. The degree or extent of control varies depending on the tactical situation. Establishment of separate weapon control statuses for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, UAVs, and for missiles is normal. Air defense forces must have the ability to receive and disseminate weapon control statuses for all classes of air platforms.


  • WEAPONS FREE: Weapons can fire at any air target not positively identified as friendly. This is the least restrictive weapon control status.

  • WEAPONS TIGHT: Fire only at air targets positively identified as hostile according to the prevailing hostile criteria. Positive identification can be effected by a number of means to include visual identification (aided or unaided) and meeting other designated hostile criteria supported by track correlation.
  • WEAPONS HOLD: Do not fire except in self-defense or in response to a formal order. This is the most restrictive weapon control status.



2-9. Directed early warning is designed to alert a non-ADA-supported unit, units, or an area of the battlefield of an immediate or possible threat. It is passed over the supported unit command net or a net designated by the maneuver unit commander as flash precedence traffic. Directed early warning defines the LADW and states whether the aerial platform is friendly or unknown, a cardinal direction, and, if known, the most likely affected asset(s) within the supported force. For example, if an early warning source reports four enemy rotary-wing aircraft inbound from the east, and 1st Brigade is attacking along the eastern axis during a division attack, the ADO reports an LADW and directed early warning message: "Dynamite! Dynamite! Four Hinds from the east against Axis Blue!" Dynamite is the LADW that alerts the division to attack, and the response according to the local SOP must be immediate. The SHORAD battalion TOC will broadcast directed early warning on the division command or O/I net and to the SHORAD battalion.

2-10. When a threat to the supported force is identified, the AD A2C2 will transmit LADW on the supported force command net. When the brigade AD LNO receives early warning from the ABMOC or from the ADA sensors, they will direct early warning down on the battery command nets. The AD LNO will transmit directed early warning on the platoon nets and supported force command nets.

2-11. Directed early warning must be quick, simple, and redundant in nature. It is imperative that all units, to include maneuver units, receive early warning, especially those units that have only minimal air defense coverage. Unit SOP will determine the exact procedures; however, the following elements should be included:

  • Preface- A method used to differentiate tracks.
  • Identification- Type of aerial platform, location, and time.
  • Local air defense warning- Self-explanatory.
  • Direction- Self-explanatory.
  • Size- Few, many, or actual number.

Affected asset- Not sent "in the clear" on unsecured nets.



2-12. The following scenario illustrates the use of ADWs, LADWs, and the directed early warning system: The corps commander, based on the recommendation of his ADA brigade commander, declares ADW Yellow to be in effect for the entire corps area of operations as the corps begins its attack. ADA units inform the units they are supporting that the LADW is Snowman. All units assume the appropriate posture for LADW Snowman according to their TSOPs. After a period of time, an aerial platform is spotted in the battlespace but is not threatening, or is inbound and there is time to react. The LADW "Lookout" is sent out to all affected units which heightens the readiness state. Several hours into the corps attack, a maneuver brigade with a direct support ADA battery is making substantial progress along Axis Blue. Suddenly, the ADA battery receives information from air defense channels of an inbound enemy air attack heading for the brigade. The battery commander gets on the maneuver brigade command net and announces, "Dynamite! Dynamite!" When units in the brigade hear "Dynamite!" they should immediately react according to their TSOPs. Responding to the situation, the maneuver brigade commander may increase his ADW to Red. The division and corps commanders may also increase their ADWs to Red. As the air attack approaches, the battery commander would pass on the following DEW message to the affected task force: "Dynamite! Dynamite! Four Hinds attacking from the east against Axis Blue!"

2-13. LADWs may be disseminated in any of several ways in addition to the method described in the preceding scenario. Under ideal circumstances, the ADA battalion or brigade will receive word of inbound enemy air in time to send LADWs to the affected units via the early warning system.



2-14. Air defense, passive or active, is more effective if it is known beforehand that an air attack is imminent. The initial warning should come from the supporting ADA unit or higher headquarters, but the likelihood of a timely alert is increased when an air threat warning system is established within each unit.

AIR THREAT 2-15. Assign air guard personnel and set up a system of TSOP alarms to warn against an impending air threat. Figure 2-1 shows the hand-and-arm signal for air threat.


Figure 2-1. Hand-and-Arm Signal for Air Threat.



2-16. To provide a standard method of disseminating emergency warnings within NATO forces, the US armed forces have concurred in the provisions of STANAG 2047. The air attack warning system is included in the unit TSOP. The actual form of a visual signal and method of display are left to the discretion of the local commander. Pertinent extracts are shown in Table 2-1. Only the "red" visual warning in Table 2-1 is mandatory.

Table 2-1. Emergency Air Attack Alarms (NATO).


Red-imminent air attack
(Preferably square in shape)

1. Unbroken warbling siren for 1 minute duration.

2. Succession of long blasts on vehicle horns, whistles, bugles, or other wind instruments in a ratio of 3 to 1; about 3 seconds on and 1 second off.

3. Vocal "Air Attack" or corresponding national term when one nation is involved.

All clear
Removal of appropriate
warning sign

1. Steady siren note for 1 minute or sustained blast on a vehicle horn, whistle, bugle, or other instrument to indicate absence of all NBC and air attack hazards.

2. Vocal "All Clear Air Attack" or corresponding national term when only one nation is involved.

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