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The employment of airborne forces on the ground is similar to that of other infantry ground units. The entire range of these operations is movement to contact, deliberate attack, hasty attack defense, or withdrawals. FMs 7-8, 7-20, and 7-30 discuss doctrinal employment of airborne units. They also discuss tactics, techniques, and procedures for the conduct of tactical operations. This chapter only discusses the differences that result from variations in organization, equipment, and method of arrival in the combat area.


The ground tactical operation phase of an airborne operation can include raids, linkup, relief, withdrawal (either overland or by air), exfiltration, recovery, survival operations, or airfield seizure. Aspects of these operations, when conducted from the objective area, are in this section.

7-1. RAIDS

The organization, equipment, and capabilities of airborne units give them the ability to conduct airborne raids behind enemy lines. Dispersed and fluid-type warfare provide many opportunities for the conduct of airborne raids. Army, Air Force, or Navy aircraft can be used to transport the raiding force. (See FMs 7-20 and 7-85 for information on the planning, preparation, and execution of raids.)

a. Mission. The airborne force can conduct raids--

  • To destroy enemy installations or positions.
  • To capture or kill the enemy.
  • To rescue friendly personnel.
  • To harass or disrupt enemy operations.
  • To seize critical equipment or similar intelligence objectives.

A planned withdrawal is executed on completion of the assigned mission.

b. Objectives. Types of objectives vary; commanders can find suitable objectives deep in enemy territory or close to the area of combat. When there is a choice, the objective that most nearly fulfills the following conditions probably gives the best chance for success:

  • It can be successfully engaged with small forces.
  • Once seized, it can be held and defended with available forces.
  • It is difficult for the enemy to reinforce.
  • It is easy to locate under poor visibility conditions.

c. Similarities to Ground Raids. Airborne raids are similar to ground raids, except the raiding force uses air transport to move to the objective area and can withdraw by air. Air transport permits the raiding force to bypass enemy positions and to overcome terrain barriers and distance factors. The objective of the airborne raid is more likely to be beyond the supporting distance of the parent unit than other types of raids.

d. Coordination. Commanders compile overall plans at higher command levels because of the coordination required with multiservice agencies. The raiding force is mainly concerned with the scheme of maneuver employed within the objective area. Higher headquarters coordinates the operation with other Army agencies, Air Force units, and Naval units that may be involved. The commander's initial estimate of the situation determines the time required for planning.

e. Preparation. This closely parallels the preparation required for an airborne assault with emphasis on the following aspects:

  • Detailed intelligence.
  • Deception and CI plans.
  • Detailed withdrawal plans, including contingency plans.
  • Force composition.

f. Training. Special training for each operation should be conducted except when raids must be mounted on short notice. The training should be immediately before the operation and teach the raiding force its duties and roles. Training should end with at least one joint rehearsal of the operation, including the withdrawal phase. This rehearsal should occur early to ensure that lessons learned can be incorporated into the OPLAN.

g. Composition. The nature of the mission may require attachment of specialized units or equipment to the airborne unit conducting the raid. The size of the force should be as small as possible and still accomplish the mission; usually, it is no larger than a battalion. The raiding force is reorganized into self-contained elements tailored to accomplish special tasks, including assault parties, security parties, and a reserve. However, the TOE structure is retained so the established chain of command can be used. To maintain flexibility, a reserve may be kept outside the objective area until needed.

h. Time and Duration. Airborne raids can be conducted at night, dawn, or twilight; in fog or mist; or during other low visibility conditions. These conditions facilitate surprise and the delivery of the raiding force to the objective with a minimum risk of detection. Executing a daylight raid usually requires greater use of support fires, including tactical air support, and the use of measures to limit enemy observation and intelligence.

i. Conduct. Immediately on landing, the elements of the raiding force independently begin their assigned tasks without further assembly.

(1) The actions of the raiding parties are decentralized; each operates as required by its own missions, but their actions are coordinated by the raid commander. In the attack of objectives, speed should be stressed.

(2) The force entering the objective area must be strong enough to defeat the enemy forces in the immediate AO and to accomplish the assigned mission. Therefore, the key to the success of the overall mission is to isolate the objective area; it prevents the enemy from moving strong tactical forces into it to defeat the raiding force. Isolating the battle area can be accomplished by stealth or force.

(a) Stealth. The raiding force can enter the objective area with such speed and stealth that enemy forces do not have time to locate them or time to react with sufficient combat power. Stealth operations are possible when the objective area is in a remote part of the enemy area or when the unit can quickly accomplish the mission.

(b) Force. If the mission cannot be accomplished before the enemy can locate the raiding force and move tactical forces to the area to attack, then force must be used. This requires extensive support from outside agencies to isolate the objective area, to keep the enemy from moving forces to the area, and to prevent the enemy from launching a major air attack into the area.

j. Withdrawal. The withdrawal is carefully planned because it is usually the most difficult part of the operation to execute. The raiding force can be withdrawn by air, land, or sea or a combination of these.

(1) The airborne withdrawal can be performed by assault or medium-transport aircraft, helicopter, or water-based aircraft; it can be preceded by overland withdrawal to pickup points. Space in the returning aircraft is restricted. All equipment and supplies should be evacuated if possible, but plans should stress the withdrawal of personnel rather than equipment. All equipment that cannot be withdrawn is destroyed.

(2) The commander must designate the required landing areas early in the planning phase. He should not change areas at the last minute.

(3) The raiding force can withdraw overland by exfiltration. (See paragraph 7-5.)

(4) Evacuation by sea is practicable wherever water approaches exist. Submarines, destroyers, and small boats can be used. Plans should provide for alternate beaches and possibly for NGF to cover the withdrawal.

k. Requirements for Army Aircraft. The characteristics of Army aircraft (mainly helicopters) make them ideal for use in raid operations. Habitual employment of the same Army aviation personnel during raid-type training lessens the need for extensive rehearsal before raid operations. Army aircraft are needed in the objective area for reconnaissance, movement, and evacuation of forces that remain in contact with the enemy.

l. Communications. A reliable communications system must be established within the objective area, and from the objective area to the headquarters outside the area that controls the overall operation.

m. Command Structure. The headquarters that controls the operation must have over all the units taking part in the operation; control of all elements by one commander is essential.


Recovery operations are specialized raids organized to liberate imprisoned or detained personnel or to return specific equipment to friendly control. These operations are normally performed by SOF, but may be performed by infantry units. They include recovering and extracting downed or hijacked aircrews and political or military leaders. Airborne forces use surprise and combat power to overwhelm resistance before detainees or prisoners can be harmed.

a. Success of the Operation. Success depends on--

  • Speed and surprise.
  • Violent action.
  • Quickly identifying, securing, and safeguarding evacuees.
  • Limited time on the objective.
  • Rapid and orderly extraction.

b. Planning. The planning of personnel and equipment recovery operations is the same as for the raid. The difference is that the commander must plan for the extraction of recovered personnel and for the loading and extraction of sensitive equipment. Personnel and equipment recovery raids are often executed as contingency missions. They require the commander to plan and execute the recovery quickly. An ISB or REMAB should be considered for rehearsals and OPSEC.

c. Augmentations. This type of operation often requires augmentation by personnel with special skills. Examples are medical personnel, technical experts, mechanics, or crew members trained in repair and retrieval operations, and linguists or translators.

d. Organization. The recovery force is organized the same as for a raid. Special teams are sometimes needed to perform certain missions involved in the recovery. Reconnaissance teams can be inserted ahead of the force to reconnoiter the objective, to locate the detained or imprisoned personnel, and to provide guides.

(1) All planning and execution takes place as described for the raid. The emphasis must be on detailed, timely intelligence.

(2) Medical teams, to include a physician, must be available to care for the detainees; they should accompany the search team.

(3) Guide teams and escort teams are planned. Escorts should be planned on a 1:1 ratio for detainees.

(4) Teams must be trained in searehing and clearing buildings and operations in a MOUT environment in general. (See FM 90-10-1 for detailed information on infantry operations in urban an area.)

e. Execution. The enemy must be assaulted when he least expects it. The force must ensure that friendly detainees are not harmed during the assault--either by friendly or enemy personnel. Evacuees can be categorized as follows:

  • Category 1. All previously identified US nationals. No special security measures are required.
  • Category 2. All other US nationals with credible proof (visa or passport), such as tourists, American expatriates, or US businessmen. No special security measures are required.
  • Category 3. Those with questionable US citizenship and foreign nationals and their immediate families, such as those employed by the US government. Armed security guards are required.
  • Category 4. Possible infiltrators, saboteurs, and unfriendly foreigners. These personnel are treated the same as EPWs.

Recovered personnel can be identified by total numbers or by name, if names are available to the recovering force. The evacuee's chain of command can assist in assembly and identification.

f. Extraction. The commander should plan for the extraction point to be close to the point of recovery. This prevents the detainees from moving cross-country or the raid force from transporting bulky equipment long distances. For small groups of detainees or small items of equipment, the extraction point can be farther away. Recovery operations can use any method, or combination of methods, of extraction. Close planning and coordination are required with Army, Air Force, or Navy aviation for evacuation of the target area.

g. Operations After Recovery. Once evacuees have been recovered to a secure location, they are processed for return to control of the appropriate authority. The recovery area is organized into five operational areas: command, reception, processing, comfort, and departure. All evacuees are registered and informed of their legal rights. They are screened for medical problems and intelligence information. Evacuees are updated on the host nation in a secure area. Their privacy is protected. Evacuees are later prepared for further transportation, if required.


Evacuation/withdrawal of an airborne force can be preplanned or become necessary because of enemy action. The limitations of transport aircraft and the circular shape of the airhead introduce complicating factors not present in a normal ground withdrawal. (Figure 7-l.)

a. Evacuation Sequence. When the situation permits, the plan usually provides for evacuation in the following sequence: supplies, materiel, and soldiers.

b. Withdrawal/Evacuation Factors. The following factors must be considered when executing either a withdrawal or an evacuation.

(1) The operation requires sufficient aircraft and suitable LZs.

(2) Local air superiority or absence of enemy air interference is essential.

(3) The operation is sensitive to weather, primarily in the objective area, but also in the base area.

(4) Surprise and deception are essential to the operation's success. An alert and determined enemy can be expected to try maximum interference as soon as he detects evidence of a withdrawal.

(5) The withdrawal of the DLIC is the most critical phase of the withdrawal.

(6) The decision to withdraw by air must be made early to permit adequate planning and coordination.

(7) Priorities for evacuating soldiers, supplies, and materiel must be established; supplies and equipment that cannot be evacuated are destroyed (with the exception of Class VIII medical supplies).

c. Responsibilities and Procedures. The breakdown of withdrawal or evacuation responsibilities is as follows:

(1) Airborne commander. The overall commander directing the conduct of an airborne operation orders the withdrawal or evacuation of the force.

(2) Ground force commander. The ground force commander determines the priority of unit movement. He furnishes the airlift commander a list of units broken down by priority into aircraft loads, indicating departure points and destination. He establishes the DACG, which performs the following functions:

(a) Ensures that prescribed planeloads of personnel and equipment are available in the ready areas and are prepared to load.

(b) Calls prescribed planeloads forward from ready areas as aircraft arrive.

(c) Notifies the Air Force when aircraft are loaded.

In a planned withdrawal, the ground force commander provides trained teams to load and secure equipment; technical assistance is given by qualified airlift personnel. In a forced withdrawal, such teams are not available. Therefore, the ground force commander can request the airlift commander to land Army loading teams in the objective area.

(3) Airlift commander. The airlift commander controls air movement, establishing facilities within the objective area to coordinate the arrival and departure of aircraft.


When the commander anticipates that an airborne force will engage in sustained combat after linking up with ground forces, planning should provide for this. Preservation of the force is vital since the airborne force will most likely be deployed behind enemy lines. (See FMs 7-20 and 7-30 for information on linkup operations.)


If an airborne force cannot link up with ground forces or cannot be extracted by air, it must prepare to conduct an exfiltration by single companies, platoons, or squads to reach friendly lines.

a. Situations. Stealth and evasiveness are key elements of exfiltration Commanders favor this method of extraction when--

(1) The enemy has air superiority.

(2) The enemy can prohibit air or water extraction.

(3) The distance to friendly lines is short.

(4) The terrain provides cover and concealment (for movement on foot) and limits enemy mobile units.

(a) Soldiers and units can use multiple exfiltration routes if the enemy detects them. They can also use captured enemy vehicles and equipment to assist in the exfiltration.

(b) The exfiltration force can exfiltrate in one body or in small groups. Exfiltrating in small groups saves the time assembly can cost the unit.

(5) The exfiltrating force moves lightly equipped and unburdened with captured personnel or materiel.

(6) The exfiltration route passes through an area occupied by friendly locals or guerrilla forces who can assist the movement.

(7) Areas along exfiltration routes are uninhabited.

(8) The enemy force is dispersed or cannot concentrate against the exfiltrating force.

b. Patrolling. Units employ aggressive patrolling to detect enemy weak points.

c. Size of Units. Units should be small to avoid detection but large enough to protect themselves. Terrain (especially avenues of approach to friendly lines), enemy strength, and friendly strength (including fire support) determine the size of units. All elements should have communications equipment. They should move at night or during limited visibility over close terrain.

d. Use of Vehicles. Commanders can exfiltrate vehicles or can use them in a limited maneuver role. Before departure, units redistribute supplies. They also determine the disposition of dead and wounded personnel, and allocate vehicles for their transportation. Crews can destroy in place vehicles that are not mission capable or those to be left in the airhead, then join the main body as it exfiltrates.

e. Approach of Friendly Lines. Units should approach friendly lines in daylight. The units depart the airhead at a prescribed time interval while the covering force maintains security and simulates normal unit activity.

f. Communications. Units establish communications with friendly forward units and coordinate fire support, recognition signals, and passage of lines.


A vital part of all premission planning is the development of en route plans and postmission plans for survival, evasion, resistance and escape operations, and for SAR operations. Such plans enhance survival of the force and the transport of aircrews. (See FM 20-150, FM 21-76, and AR 350-30.)

a. Responsibilities of Airborne Commander. The airborne commander is responsible for helping develop the plan in coordination with all supporting agencies. He ensures that all members of the airborne force and supporting aircrews are briefed on the plan.

b. Development of Plans. Each plan is unique because each situation has unique problems. The plan devised by the airborne commander must address these problems, while gaining from the individual abilities and training of the airborne soldiers and their supporting aircrews. The following considerations apply to SERE/SAR plans devised during airborne operations.

(1) Plans enhance survival of soldiers who can no longer accomplish their assigned missions. The group's senior combat arms officer must decide if any missions remain that the group can accomplish. If not, then he must try to evade and escape enemy capture if unable to link up and be extracted with the rest of the force. Because of the depth of penetration behind enemy lines, most successful plans can involve either air or water movement away from enemy-held territory.

(2) Dismounted forces can move a great distance (especially at night) over rugged terrain to reach an area where they can rendezvous with SAR aircraft or boats. Escape and evasion plans for airborne elements should include avoiding contact with the locals; however, the aid of friendly insurgent forces can be enlisted. The plan can also include the use of E&E networks that are in place behind enemy lines; however, these nets must not be compromised by the volume of evaders.


A breakout from encirclement is conducted when units operating behind enemy lines are cut off from friendly forces and surrounded by superior forces. Given airborne unit missions, the chance of operating as an isolated force behind enemy lines is great. The breakout is characterized by determination of enemy weak points, deception, massing of combat power, and a direct attack for a violent and timely breakout. (FM 7-20 discusses the considerations for planning and the execution of breakout operations.)


Airborne personnel are capable of sustained action after their heavy equipment has been introduced into the airhead. They can be used in any role that might be assigned to an infantry unit. When ground or naval forces link up with airborne personnel who may face employment in another airborne operation, the controlling headquarters should relieve the airborne forces so they can be withdrawn to a rear base, reorganized, and readied for the next airborne operation. (Reliefs are discussed in FMs 7-20 and 7-30.)


An airfield seizure is executed to clear and control a designated airstrip. The purpose can be to allow follow-on airland forces to conduct transload operations or to establish a lodgment in order to continue combat operations from that location. Airfields can be seized and occupied by friendly forces for a definite or indefinite period.


Requirements for the seizure of an airfield, subsequent securing of the airhead, and the introduction of follow-on forces depend heavily on the factors of METT-T and the commander's concept of the operation.

a. Planning Factors. Certain factors must be considered when conducting the estimate for an airfield seizure.

(1) The key element is surprise. Assault of the airfield should be conducted at night to maximize surprise, security, and protection of the force. Timing is critical; the assault should be executed so that the follow-on assault echelon (airdrop or airland) can also be delivered under the cloak of darkness.

(2) Enemy air defenses near the airfield and along aircraft approach and departure routes must be suppressed.

(3) The size of the airfield must be sufficient for landing and takeoff of aircraft to be used after seizure. Minimum operating length determines how much of the airfield must be cleared.

(4) The configuration and condition of the airfield, including taxiways and parking, determines the maximum-on-ground capacity for aircraft at one time. This, combined with offload/transload time estimates, impacts directly on scheduling follow-on airflow into the airfield. Surface composition and condition and predicted weather conditions must allow the airfield to accept the required number of sorties without deteriorating the surface below minimum acceptable safety standards.

(5) The airfield location must facilitate follow-on operations. If transload operations must occur, the follow-on target must be within the range of the aircraft to be used. If not, then forward area rearm/refuel assets must be available and positioned to support the follow-on operation.

(6) The airfield must be defensible initially with assault forces against any immediate threat and with planned follow-on forces against larger, coordinated counterattacks.

b. Airborne Force Task Organization. The airborne force's task organization varies, depending on METT-T factors. However, airfield seizures require the designation of elements to clear runways, assault designated objectives, and screen areas valuable to the operation besides normal task-organization considerations. Supporting assets and attachments should be considered in organizing the force. As with any other airborne operation, the commander organizes his force into three echelons: assault, follow-on, and rear.

(1) The future of the army is fighting joint combined-arms operations with a mix of light and heavy forces. The original concept for the light division and the restructure of the airborne and air assault divisions envisioned that the needs for antiarmor and other CS would be provided by corps in the form of plugs. The concept of fighting pure is contrary to the concept of combined-arms warfare. Heavy units would be task-organized with light infantry and other forces into TFs to gain the complementary effect of the combined arms. The mix of the force would be determined by the threat. The insertion of light armored assets in the assault echelon would provide, in the early phases, an increased antiarmor capability.

(2) Reconnaissance and security teams can be deployed ahead of the main body. They can be used to determine enemy dispositions on the airfield and whether airfield runways are cleared or blocked. They can also look for enemy air defense assets near the airfield. These teams maintain radio contact with the airborne commander who is en route to the objective. They can be used in the selective destruction of enemy facilities by directing air strikes or by employing laser target designators to limit collateral damage to the airfield. Reconnaissance and security teams can also be used to sever land-line communications not vulnerable to friendly EW efforts or to provide early warning of the approach of enemy reaction forces. Reconnaissance and security teams can come from a LRSU, special operations forces, or battalion scout platoons. However, the commander must weigh the risk of team compromise and consequent loss of surprise against the value of intelligence obtained.

(3) Air Force CCTs are required to provide airspace management assistance as well as control of aircraft after landing (for example, parking locations and taxiing control). Combat control teams can be inserted ahead of the force as part of a JAAP; it can jump with the airborne assault or can airland with the first assault aircraft.

(4) TOW, scout, and MP vehicles, or other mobile weapons platforms, should be front-loaded in the airland assault echelon. These vehicles, relying on surprise and speed for security, must quickly move to blocking or screening positions. They also provide a mobile antiarmor capability.

(5) If engineer units are to accompany the assault force, they should be tasked to clear the runways of obstacles. Special consideration must be given to the type and quantity of obstacles on the runway. This has a major impact on engineer assets required by the TF, the time for clearance, and the planned time of arrival of airland sorties. To assist the engineers, bulldozers and mine detectors (metallic and nonmetallic) can be dropped in the initial assault. To reduce injuries, the commander should outfit runway clearing elements with elbow and knee pads when they are parachuting onto a hard-surface runway. Selected personnel can be tasked to jump-start disabled vehicles or airfield support vehicles required to assist the offload. Engineer personnel must understand the amount of space required to land specific types of aircraft. (See Appendix C.)

(6) Civil affairs and PSYOP personnel help the commander control civilians and PWs.

(7) Depending on the threat, commanders can determine that certain objectives near the airfield and key terrain surrounding it (control towers, communications nodes, terminal guidance facilities) should be secured at the same time units are clearing the runways. This requirement increases the number of personnel designated to participate in the initial airborne assault. Should this be necessary, commanders can adjust aircraft loads. Those aircraft designated to drop personnel cannot transport as much airland cargo because the station near the jump doors must remain clear.

(8) A number of other assets can be available to assist insertion, C2 and support.

(a) Airborne battlefield command and control center. The ABCCC's mobility and communications capabilities provide valuable C2.

(b) C-130 Talon. This aircraft's sophisticated navigational equipment permits insertion even under the most adverse weather conditions.

(c) AC-130. The availability of AC-130s allows for continuous fire support from a mobile and accurate airborne platform. If air refueling is available, the AC-130 can stay on station and provide overhead support for extended periods. (For more information, see FM 7-20.)

(d) Unit-level communications. At this level leaders can augment communications by using hand-held radios for special elements and teams and by setting up special nets for the initial assault.

c. Airfield/Lodgment Actions. Several actions must take place to accomplish the seizure of an airfield and the subsequent establishment of the lodgment. These actions or considerations include:

(1) Quickly seize critical enemy C2 facilities that will prevent the reinforcement of the enemy force defending the airfield complex. At the same time, the assaulting force must isolate the objective area to further reduce the possibility of reinforcement.

(2) Deploy and employ enough ground combat forces to prevent enemy penetration of the lodgment area (airhead, beachhead).

(3) Establish a coherent defense against air attack to ensure that the assaulting force is not interdicted or the airfield damaged or destroyed by air-delivered munitions.

(4) Ensure enough combat power (ADA, maneuver, FA, and so on) is employed to preserve the air and sea LOCs and to facilitate the delivery of follow-on forces by air, land, or sea.

(5) Seize the airfield quickly enough to facilitate a rapid buildup of forces to expand the airhead into a lodgment line. This ability is expressed in terms of airframes to perform over-the-horizon insertion of forces.

(6) Quickly establish an AACG. This group can be under the control of the battalion XO or S3 Air. It requires positive control to facilitate rapid offloading of aircraft. Aircraft execute either combat offloading of pallets or engine-running offloading of vehicles, equipment, and personnel. Personnel should prepare all vehicles and equipment for immediate offloading as soon as the aircraft stops. Dunnage and tie-downs remain on the aircraft to save time.

(7) Deny the enemy the use of airborne sensors and UAVs. All ADA measures, air superiority, and effective camouflage operations measures must be executed to contribute to this effort.


The sequence of events during the assault, seizure and consolidation of the force on the captured airfield dictates the timing of the delivery of the follow-on echelon to the objective area.

a. Insertion of the CCT/JAAP Into the Objective Area. Insertion can be overt or covert based on the threat. Insertion of these teams depends on the ability to get them into the area undetected. If surprise is paramount, the airborne force may rely on other means to pinpoint the objective area and on other sources of intelligence and navigation.

b. Preassault Fires. Preassault fires maybe used when collateral damage can be controlled with no danger to the airfield. They are normally used to suppress or neutralize enemy air defense systems and installations (SEAD). Air Force assets may be used to jam enemy radar and communications during this period and before the parachute insertion.

c. Airborne Assault (by Assault Echelon A if the airborne force is so task-organized) to Isolate the Airfield and Establish the Airhead. The assault initially starts at P-hour to eliminate enemy resistance on the airfield and to secure the runway(s) from direct fire. The airfield complex is further isolated by the establishment of blocking positions to deny access to and from the airfield area. Simultaneously, key facilities are seized and or neutralized. Particular attention should be directed to limit collateral damage since these facilities may be necessary for sustained combat operations after the lodgment is established.

d. Insertion of Assault Echelon B with Additional Combat, CS, and CSS Assets. An RSL is established to provide early warning to the main body. It may consist of a series of infantry OPs and antiarmor ambush sites as well as a cavalry screen. Assets for this task are best formed from vehicle-mounted scouts or light armor assets. They should be task-organized with infantry to fight and delay the enemy as the main body prepares for a possible counterattack.

e. Reserve. A reserve should be constituted at every level to weight the main effort. A mounted reserve provides the greatest degree of flexibility. The reserve should be committed to exploit success, complete the mission, or to handle contingency missions. (For more information, see FM 7-20.)

f. Clearance of the Runway(s). The enemy may have pre-positioned vehicles or other obstructions on runways, taxiways, or parking aprons to deter and slow down the use of the airfield complex by attacking forces. Once the assault echelon has seized initial objectives, the runway clearance teams (engineers, infantry, and other designated personnel) begin clearing or repairing the runway(s), This clearance includes the removal of dunnage from heavy-drop platforms. It must be done immediately to facilitate the introduction of follow-on forces by airland delivery.

g. Follow-on Echelon Deployment. The follow-on echelon is deployed to the objective area once the initial assault objectives are secured and the airhead is established. This echelon may be deployed by paradrop or by air-land if the airfield facilities have been identified, repaired, and placed into an operational status.


The battalion may be required to conduct security force operations in its area of responsibility, concurrent with offensive operations against the enemy. All actions, however, must be strictly within established rules of engagement and the law of land warfare. The objectives of security force operations are as follows:

  • To isolate the insurgency from its civilian support (population and resource control).
  • To prevent interference with friendly operations by the civilian population (population control).
  • To secure military installations and lines of communication from insurgent attack.
  • To solicit the active support of the civil population for the friendly cause. (For more specific information, see FM 7-20.)


Political concerns dominate shows of force and demonstrations. Military forces conduct these operations within delicate legal and political constraints. The political will to employ actual force--should a demonstration of it fail--is vital to the success of these operations. Actual combat is not their goal. The force coordinates its operations with the country team or teams. Before commitment, the chain of command should certify that the force understands the national purpose, ROE, and inherent risks of the operation. Noncombatant evacuation operations relocate threatened civilian noncombatants from locations in a foreign or host nation. These operations normally involve US citizens whose lives are in danger. They may also include selected host nation natives and third country nationals.

a. Under ideal circumstances, there should be little or no opposition to an evacuation; however, commanders should anticipate possible hostilities. In the LIC environment, this type of operation usually involves swift insertion of a force and temporary occupation of an objective, followed by a planned, quick withdrawal. This mission is ideally suited to an airborne element. It involves only the force required for self-defense and the protection of the evacuees.

b. Military, political, or other emergencies in any country may require evacuation of designated personnel as the situation deteriorates. The Department of State initiates requests for military assistance; they also obtain necessary clearances from other governments. This assistance can include basing and overflight authorizations, and the use of facilities essential to performing the evacuation.

c. If the chief of the US diplomatic corp expects trouble, he should direct the early withdrawal of dependents and nonessential personnel by ordinary transport. If this has already occurred, only a minimum of personnel normally require emergency military evacuation. Thorough planning ensures that US, host nation, and international media understand the operation's intent. This enhances security and the dissemination of positive information.

d. The evacuation may take place in a benign environment, face a threat of violent opposition, or require combat action. The specific situation determines the type of evacuation required. The evacuation force commander has little influence over the local situation. He may not have the authority to preempt hostile actions by military measures; yet, he must be prepared to defend the evacuation effort and provide protection for his forces. Thus, the key factor in NEO planning is a correct appraisal of the political-military environment in which the force will operate.

e. An understanding of the role and status of host nation security forces is important. Host nation resources can provide essential assistance to the operation. These politically sensitive operations are often monitored or controlled at the highest level. Diplomatic and legal restraints limit military action to only those activities that permit the evacuation without hindrance. Care of the civilians and the maintenance of order at the evacuation site will be the ground forces commander's responsibility.

f. Airlift operations demand close cooperation among the airlift control element, the ground forces commander, and the diplomatic mission. Aircraft commanders supporting the evacuation should coordinate flight information with the appropriate sovereign airspace authorities to the maximum extent possible, However, positive airspace control may be difficult and airspace control systems may be inadequate. In cases where sovereign authorities are unable or unwilling to either approve or deny clearance, each aircraft commander must operate at their own discretion. They use caution proportionate to the circumstances to lessen risk. If no effective airspace control exists, the airlift commander should assume airspace control responsibilities and keep the diplomatic mission and ground forces advised on the progress of the airlift.

g. Commanders should remember that NEO can quickly turn into peacemaking or peacekeeping operations. They must plan for these contingencies.

h. Rescue and recovery operations are sophisticated actions that require precise execution, especially when conducted in hostile countries. They may be clandestine or overt. They may also include the rescue of US or friendly foreign nationals; and the location, identification, and recovery of sensitive equipment or items critical to US national security.

(1) Hostile forces can oppose rescue and recovery operations. On the other hand, these operations may remain unopposed if the potentially hostile force is unaware of them or unable or unwilling to interfere. Stealth, surprise, speed, and the threat of overwhelming US force are some of the means available to overcome opposition.

(2) Rescue and recovery operations require timely intelligence, detailed planning, deception, swift execution, and extraordinary security measures. They usually involve highly trained special units, but they may also receive support from the general purpose forces.

i. The US executes strikes and raids for specific purposes other than gaining or holding terrain. Strikes and raids can support rescue or recovery operations or destroy or seize equipment or facilities that demonstrate a threat to national collective security interests. They can also support counterdrug operations by destroying nareotics production or transshipment facilities or support a host government's actions in this regard, Strikes and raids are the most conventional of peacetime contingency operations The principles of combat operations apply directly. The unified CINC normally plans and executes them.


Airborne units can deploy from a CONUS base directly to the objective area. A more common method would be for the airborne unit to first deploy to a REMAB or to an ISB before establishing a lodgment in the AO. In certain circumstances, the objective can be beyond the range of aircraft operating from a REMAB or ISB in friendly territory. Therefore, a forward operating base in hostile territory can be seized to facilitate or project further operations.


The REMAB is a secure base to which the entire airborne unit (including organic and attached support elements) deploys and continues mission planning. (Figure 7-2.)

a. Location. The REMAB is within the geographical area encompassed by the command authority of the theater or JTF commander. This ensures that the CSS elements providing support to the airborne unit are operating within their normal area. It prevents or lessens out-of-sector support requirements for CSS elements. The REMAB should be in an area similar in terrain and climate to the objective area. Time spent at the REMAB lets the unit begin acclimatization.

b. Planning and Coordination. The REMAB also provides a secure location for the unit to conduct detailed planning and coordination with the controlling headquarters staff.

c. Command Preparation. In the REMAB, the commander conducts rehearsals, refines and modifies plans, determines PIR, and coordinates with the proper intelligence source to receive that information.

d. Additions to the Unit. In the REMAB, individual specialists who augment the force are integrated into the unit if they have not already joined. Specially trained supporting units, such as aviation and communications elements, also join the force at the REMAB.

e. Functions of a REMAB. The REMAB must provide--

(1) Access to the controlling headquarters staff.

(2) Physical security of billeting, planning, maintenance, and communications areas.

(3) Mess, billeting, latrine, and shower facilities for the force and its supporting elements.

(4) Access to a C-141- or C-130-capable airfield, possibly with all-weather operations.

(5) Access to secure communications and processed intelligence.

(6) Access to rehearsal areas where sites can be built and live-fire rehearsals can be conducted.

(7) Access to the unit locations of major supporting elements such as naval landing craft or Army aviation units.

(8) An external security force and an active CI agency.

(9) Vehicle transport for personnel lift, equipment transfer, and administrative use.

(10) Access to maintenance support facilities.

(11) Medical support facilities to augment the airborne medical personnel.

(12) Covered areas for packing parachutes and rigging airdrop loads.


Elements of the airborne force deploy to an ISB to make final plans, coordinate, and task-organize. The unit's organization and composition are finalized for movement to the objective area. Deployment to the ISB is common when terrain or distance precludes insertion to the objective area directly from the REMAB or CONUS. Contingency missions often involve the use of an ISB. Intermediate staging base operations are often employed when the mission requires transloading from strategic airlift assets to theater airlift assets.

a. Facilities. The ISB is not occupied for long periods; however, some facilities are needed to support the airborne force. These include the following:

  • Materiels-handling equipment required for transloading.
  • A location away from civilians or traffic routes.
  • Security and CI elements.
  • Secure communications.
  • Fuel for aircraft and vehicles.
  • Potable water supply.
  • Austere airfield support facilities, possibly capable of all-weather operations.
  • Areas for test firing weapons.
  • Covered and concealed areas for assembly of the airborne force and rigging of parachutes and door bundles.
  • Austere billets or rest areas.
  • Austere messing arrangements.
  • Medical treatment facility.

b. Location. The ISB location should provide adequate OPSEC to prevent compromise of the operation.


Objectives for airborne or airland assault operations may be beyond the range of aircraft operating from an ISB or REMAB in friendly territory. Therefore, a base in hostile territory must be seized for the further projection of force or for the recovery of previously deployed forces.

a. Establishing an FOB requires seizure of an airfield or airstrip. The force conducting the follow-on operation can be a part of the force seizing the FOB or a new force introduced after the FOB is seized. In most operations, the FOB is retained only as long as necessary to support the follow-on mission. A planned withdrawal is executed on mission completion.

b. Before launching subsequent airborne or airland assaults, reorganization may be required. This is especially true if the subsequent assault force comes from the unit that seized the FOB. To lessen this requirement, the follow-on assault force can be the reserve for the initial mission, or it can be a completely new force that only refuels or transloads at the FOB. Transloading must be accomplished quickly. Loads must be prerigged and loaded to facilitate transloading. Control is established by the CCT and ADACG.

c. If the FOB is used to receive previously committed forces, planning considerations must include:

  • Accountability procedures.
  • Medical care and evacuation.
  • Maintenance requirements.
  • Resupply/refueling operations.

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