Passive Air Defense: A Neglected Concept CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA Aviation PASSIVE AIR DEFENSE: A NEGLECTED CONCEPT Submitted to Dr. Rudolph V. Wiggins In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for Written Communications The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Qantico, Virginia Major J. Q. Butler United States Marine Corps April 6, 1984 PASSIVE AIR DEFENSE: A NEGLECTED CONCEPT OUTLINE Thesis Sentence: The Marine Corps must exert a determined effort to round out its air defense by placing as much emphasis on passive air detense as it does on active air defense. I. Introduction A. Passive air defense defined B. Active air defense defined II. Background on American air defense A. American air bases safe since World War II B. Soviet Union now significant threat III. Description of passive air defense measures A. Hardening B. Deception C. Concealment D. Dispersal IV. Conclusion A. Passive air defense: difficult, costly, necessary B. USMC must improve PASSIVE AIR DEFENSE: A NEGLECTED CONCEPT Passive air defense, the term seems to imply inactivity. Perhaps this explains why the Marine Corps has paid so little attention to the subject. It is not an unknown term. LFM-02, Doctrine for Landing Forces, defines it as: All measures, other than active defense, taken to mini- mize the effect of hostile air action. These include the use of cover, concealment, camouflage, dispersion, and protective construction.1 FMFM 5-1, Marine Aviation, and FMFM 5-5, Antiair Warfare, give essentially the same definition although they refer to it as "Passive Antiair Warfare". Unfortunately, other than defining what constitutes passive air defense measures, little else is written on how to employ it effectively. The plans and orders for major Marine exercises routinely ignore passive air defense measures other than camouflage. Active air defense, now that is a different story! This aspect of air defense receives lots of attention. Again referring to LFM-02 we find active air defense defined as: Direct defensive action taken to destroy or reduce the effectiveness of an enemy air attack. It includes such measures as the use of aircraft, antiaircraft artillery, electronic counter-measures, and surface-to-air missile systems.2 FMFM 5.1 and FMFM 5-5 considers this type of defense as a category of "Active Antiair Warfare" which includes our attacks against enemy airfields and other air assets. These are things every Marine can sink his teeth into: attacking enemy air bases, shooting down enemy aircraft, and bombing radar sites. Distinguished Flying Crosses and other decora- tions come from such activities. Who ever heard of a medal for properly dispersing aircraft around an air base or cleverly disguising a fuel farm as something other than a fuel farm? Seriously, a good offense is always better than a good defense. Even the most perfectly conceived passive defense would result in destruction of our aviation units if our active air defenses were to suffer the same atrophy as our passive measures. However, a good defense is also required if our forces are to survive on today's battlefield. Several studies have determined the Soviets could launch a surprise attack with massive waves of aircraft against most of our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air bases. Although their losses would be heavy, our air forces could be crippled if not properly dispersed in hardened and concealed sites. The Marine Corps is working hard to improve its ability to conduct an active air defense for the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). The Marines Corps must also exert a determined effort to round out its air defense by placing as much empha- sis on passive air defense as it does on active air defense. In researching the subject of passive air defense I discovered two things. First, there is a paucity of anything written on the subject in Marine Corps publications. Second, the attitude of many Marine aviators is that passive measures are not worth the effort in today's world of high technology intelligence gathering equipment. Perhaps the second finding explains the first. The truth is, something can and must be done. It is time that we, as professional Marines, learned how to fool the enemy target analysts. The United States enjoyed a period of over thirty years in which its air bases were considered immune to an air attack. In our last two conflicts, Korea and Vietnam, our air bases were never threatened by an enemy air attack. We felt corn- fortable basing our aviation units in large air bases with little dispersion of aircraft at the air field. No attempt was made to employ passive measures other than hardening. Several generations of Marine aviators have now come to expect to find their aircraft parked a short distance from the main- tenance control office. Our maintenance crews have also enjoyed the luxury of walking a short distance to repair a malfunction. Those days are over Marines. It is time we all woke up to reality. The reality of today is that we are faced with a skilled and determined enemy, the Soviet Union, whose doctrine calls for massive, theater-wide attacks against enemy air bases beginning with the commencement of hostilities. Soviet strategy emphasizes the importance of a preemptive first strike against NATO nuclear forces, command and control centers, and airfields. These attacks against NATO have in the past been planned as nuclear strikes; however, the Soviets have recently developed an impressive conventional strike force. Beginning in the mid-seventies the Soviets began a modernization of its aviation assets with the emphasis for the first time on ground attack aircrart. The Soviets can now field numerically superior air forces with ground attack aircraft capable of conducting crippling air attacks using conventional weapons against most of NATO's air bases. They no longer need to cross the nuclear threshold to neutralize NATO's air forces. I suppose, given the extent of the threat and the wide array of detection methods, the adoption of a passive air defense program might seem pointless. Indeed, a study of passive defense techniques for the U. S. Air Force air bases in NATO stated that at times the best we can do may not be good enough and that passive measures may sometimes cost more than they are worth.3 However, the study went on to agree with other studies which concluded passive defensive techniques are an important part of theater air base defense and should be employed. What then are these passive defense techniques which may be costly but are worth the effort? The Marine Corps lists five: cover, concealment, camouflage, dispersion, and pro- tective construction. The U. S. Air Force study mentioned earlier, expands slightly upon these and I believe presents a better description of what measures to employ. Figure 1 is that study's listing of passive measures along with the related objective for each measure. PASSIVE DEFENSIVE MEASURES AGAINST AIR ATTACKS Click here to view image It should be noted that to be effective these measures must be considered a "package deal". Employing only one or two will not provide the desired effect which is to reduce the vulnerability of our forces to air attack by enemy air forces which break through our active air defenses. Of the three objectives of passive measures, hardening requires the least amount of imagination and planning. Everyone understands the need to place aircraft in protected revetments. Much of NATO's aircraft are now sheltered in hardened shelters which provide overhead as well as lateral protection. Unfortunately, there are not enough of these shelters to go around and Marine aviation units will probably be required to construct their own revetments. Construction of these revetments must be coordinated with the plans for dispersal and deception. Deception measures can be anything from an inflatable decoy aircraft to an entire dummy airfield. The key to the success of the deception is that the deception must be tied in to actual operations and appear to be the real thing in every respect. The use of decoy aircraft alone a section of highway will not, by itself, convince the enemy you have based an aircraft unit there. A redundancy of indicators must be presented to the enemy intelligence analysts if they are to be fooled. Fueling, arming, and billeting areas must be simulated as well as maintenance sites to present a complete picture of an operating base. Simulated communication and electronic emissions common to air base operations must also be used. Realistic activity can be portrayed by having actual aircraft land and takeoff from the site. The goal of all this effort is to direct the enemy's attention away from an actual airbase. The implementation of a deception such as a dummy air base such as the one just described requires thorough planning, increased manpower, and additional equipment. The Marine Corps is presently incapable of even attempting such a decep- tion. It has neither the equipment nor trained personnel to plan for and employ a dummy air base. It has no recent experience with which to base any plans upon. Currently, any attempt at deceptive basing would probably be inadequate to deceive the enemy. A comical example of an unconvincing deception occurred in North Africa between the British and Italians in World War II. The British constructed a fake airfield near Tobruk hoping to lure the Italians away from the real airfield. The attempted deception was poorly done and failed to fool the Italians who attacked the dummy airfield with dummy bombs!5 Usually an attempted deception is discovered ineffective when real bombs begin falling on the real airfield. The Russians used dummy airfields extensively in World War II to protect its airfields. A good description of the techniques employed was written by Colonel E. Simakov.6 In true Russian fashion Colonel Simakov spoke glowingly of the successful deceptions and failed to mention any failures. Despite this one sided view, he recounts how the use of dummy airfields was integrated into every construction of real ones. Colonel Simakov describes three methods of deceptive aircraft basing. The first method was to make an abandoned airfield appear still active. This method was useful in concealing redeployments of aviation units. The second method was designed to conceal an operating airfield along the most likely flightpath of enemy aircraft. This consisted of simulating activity at a dummy airfield in close proximity to a well concealed operating base. Enemy aircrews were fooled into dropping their bombs away from the real base. The third method consisted of setting up false concentrations of aviation units. These concentrations were either away from the real concentration (to divert enemy assets away from the sector of real activity) or around a real airfield (to help conceal activity around a generally known airfield). According to Colonel Simakov these methods were extremely successful against the Germans. Now I realize that it was much easier to construct a real and a fake airfield in World War II than it is today. The 8000 feet long by 150 feet wide concrete runways which most of our modern jet aircraft require cannot be readily simulated. However, the Marine Corps has the capability of constructing an Expeditionary Airfield (EAF) if an existing airfield is not available. The Soviets know this and will probably be watching for the employment of the EAF. The Marine Corps must develop plans for employing dummy EAF's simultaneously with the construction of the real one. The Marine Corps is also unique among other American services in its use of the AV-8 Harrier, a vertical and short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) aircraft. This aircraft is specifically designed to operate from dispersed sites. Site preparation is required but a runway is not essential. What is needed is a plan to construct fake VSTOL sites with decoy AV-8's and other equipment to aid in the concealment of the real sites. Basing of helicopter units is another example in which a runway is not required. Helicopters will be based rela- tively close to the battle area, therefore, extremely vul- nerable to attack by fixed-wing airplanes and armed heli- copters. Much more thought must be given to concealing these assets of the MAGTF if mobility of our ground forces is to be maintained. The deceptive measures can not be effective if there is not an equally well developed plan to impair the enemy's target acquisition attempts. Tonedown, camouflage, and concealment measures are interrelated and have the obvious objective of hiding something from the enemy. Dispersal causes the enemy to look for more targets. The combination of these four measures and the deception measures already discussed will complicate the enemy's targeting process. A brief description of each of the target acquisition impair- ment measures is needed to complete the discussion on passive air defense measures. Tonedown refers to the masking of brightly constrasting features such as an 8000 feet long concrete runway in the middle of a green countryside. Anyone who has flown over the EAF at 29 Palms, California can also attest to the need for tonedown in the desert. Tonedown will not hide the runway from the target analyst, but it may cause the enemy pilot conducting a low level, visual attack to spot the airfield too late to commence an attack on his first pass. If he is forced to commence a second attack it doubles our chances to shoot his down. Camouflage is much more difficult today with the various electronic, infrared and radar sensors which are not as easily fooled as the camera or naked eye. Camouflage netting can hide a squadron command post from an enemy pilot traveling at 500 miles per hour; however, an infrared photograph will identify the netting as false vegetation and the electronic signature of the equipment and communications from the site will help determine what is under the netting. Also, radar imaging can "see" through common netting or vegetation and locate tanks, trucks, aircraft, and other objects hiding underneath. Is there anything that can be done to counter these sensors? Of course there is! But, it takes more equipment and effort. A squadron at a dispersed site needs enough camouflage netting to prepare dummy positions around its area. Most communications from the site can be made by wire, commercial telephones, or courier. Radio transmissions can be limited to burst transmissions using remoted, directional antennae to reduce the probability of detection. Camouflage nets now exist which absorb and diffuse radar pulses, thereby masking the radar signature of whatever is beneath it. Concealment is the final aspect of hiding from sight. It may be thought to be synonymous with camouflage, but camouflge is only one aspect of concealment. The objective of concealment is to prevent recognition or to hide from view. Camouflage is concealment by disguise. For example, covering tents, aircraft, andvehicles with netting is concealment by camouflage. You are trying to make the area look like the natural vegetation. Concealment may also be accomplished by hiding personnel and equipment in existing buildings or in caves. Concealment of an aviation unit can be accomplished by basing it among structures not normally associated with the unit's activity. For instance, a helicopter air group could base itself away from an airfield and use warehouses or other large buildings around an urban area to hide the aviation supply and maintenance vans. Operating sites for the aircraft squadrons would be dispersed around the urban area or nearby countryside. This leads to the last passive measure, dispersion. Dispersion is of two kinds: on-base and off-base. On-base diepersion spreads the aircraft out over a large area of the air base. Ideally, each aircraft parking spot is revetted and camouflaged. The advantage of this dispersal system is that no one attack could destroy all of the aircraft as could be done if they were lined up in a row. The disadvan- tage is that a damaged runway traps any aircraft which has not already taken off. Off-base dispersal spreads aviation units out between a main base and several satellite bases. On-base dispersal is employed at each site but the force as a whole is not limited to the runways of one air base. The Marine Corps needs to do more to improve its ability to operate from dispersed sites, particularly in the NATO theater. It can not afford to place all its aircraft in just two or three locations. In the first place, there will probably not be room. If the Marine Corps is ever committed to NATO, the U. S. Air Force will surely be phasing in its reinforcing squadrons as well. The helicopter air groups may find themselves based away from airfields because the fixed-wing squadrons may need every available runway, and not because someone thought it to be a good idea. In the second place, the existing air bases have already been targeted by the Soviets. Placing too many aircraft at one location will make the air base too lucrative a target to pass up. Lastly, dispersal within NATO is becoming an expected mode of operation and the Marine Corps will need to be able to coordinate its dispersed assets. Dispersal of NATO's air forces, of which the Marine Corps could be counted, has been a subject of growing concern in the past several years. In an excellent research paper, Wing Commander Peter P. W. Taylor of the Royal Air Force noted little impetus to improve the dispersal capability of NATO's aircraft as late as 1977.7 At the time of the paper NATO was vacillating between hardening the existing air bases or developing a better dispersal capability. Taylor contended that both measures were required. As I have already stated, passive measures are a package deal. One measure complements the other. More recently, the U. S. Air Force has sponsored several studies to reduce the vulnerability of its forces to air attack. One such study considered various technical alternatives to provide better dispersal in Europe.8 The study analyzed the effects of various basing concepts and aircraft character- istics upon survivability in the first ten days of war with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The study concluded that the most effective concept was that of dispersed sites using VSTOL aircraft.9 The study, completed in 1980, consid- ered 1990 as the target date for completion of the dispersal concept. The study visualized the concept in the following manner: These bases will be located relatively near the parent base, in order to ease logistics and control. To mini- mize the signature of the site all operations will use vertical take off and landing... Concealment of the base is of prime importance in selecting suitable locations; such locations may be in rural or urban areas, or on existing airfields. Low site signature will be maintained by redeployment at two-day intervals to new sites: it is necessary, there- fore, that a large number of sites be surveyed and allocated to this function.10 The technical improvements in aircraft design, namely VSTOL capabiliies, have not been pursued and this basing concept will only be possible for those forces having the AV-8. The Swedish Air Forse has an outstanding dispersal plan.11 It consists of more than 100 isolated sites, usually with a reinforced section of highway for a runway. Many are stocked with fuel, ordnance, and spare parts. These sites are ready at any time to receive over 500 aircraft. The Swedish Air Force constantly exercises the system which increases the probability it will work if war actually comes. Such a dispersal plan is obviously beyond the capabilities of the Marine Corps; however, it is certainly an excellent model for NATO in general. Passive air defense is a difficult business. It costs time, money, and manpower. It takes constant attention to details and close coordination between many people. However, regardless of the problems involved it must be done. It is just as important to the survival of our Marine aviation units as is the active air defense. The Marine Corps can no longer ignore the need to get serious about this aspect of its air defense. To do nothing in a war will mean that Marine aviation will rapidly lose the capability to do anything. FOOTNOTES 1MCDEC, USMC, Doctrine for Landing Forces. LFM 02 (Qantico, 1971), p. 123. 2Ibid, p. 123. 3Daniel Dunbar and James A. Keller, Study of Passive Defense Techniques for USAF Theater Air Bases (U) (Albuquer- que, N. M.: Falcon Research and Development Co., 1975), p. 35. (Classified report). 4Ibid, p.7. 5Earl J. Boyce, Cover and Deception in World War II - Its Lessons and Doctrine Implications (Maxwell AFB, AL.: Air University, 1982), p. 17. 6Colonel E. Simakov, "Operational Camouflage of Air Assets," Tr. Major Robert E. Townsend. Soviet Awareness Red Eagle Reader, Special Ed. 1980, pp. 142-145. 7Peter P. W. Taylor, NATO's Dispersal Capability: A Fatal Flaw? (Maxwell AFB, Al.: Air University, 1977), p. 23. 8Peter Middleton, Technical Alternatives to Provide Aircraft Dispersion in Europe (England: Stephen Howe (Consultants) Ltd, 1080), I, pp.1-3. 9Middleton, I, p. 20. 10Middleton, IV, p. 49. 11Talor, p. 32. BIBLIOGRAPHY Boyce, Earl J., Major, USAF: Cover and Deception in World War II - Its Lessons and Doctrine Implications. Maxwell AFB, Al.: Air University, 1982. Dick, D. J. "Soviet Chemical Warfare Capabilities," Inter- national Defense Review, 14 (November 1981), 31-38. Douglass, Joseph D. Jr. The Soviet Theater Nuclear Offensive. Washington; U. S. Air Force, No date. Gould, P., et al. NATO Tac Air Basing Study (U). Alexandra Va.: Institute for Defense Analysis,1981. (Classified) Hartoup, Guy. Camouflage: A History of Concealment and Deception in War. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980. Middleton, Peter. Technical Alternatives to Provide Aircraft Dispersion in Europe - Executive Summary, I. England: Stephen Howe (Consultants) Ltd, 1980. Middleton, Peter. Technical Alternatives to Provide Aircraft Dispersion in Europe - Preliminary Analysis, II. England: Stephen Howe (Consultants) Ltd, 1980. Middleton, Peter. Technical Alternatives to Provide Aircraft Dispersion in Europe - Supporting Analysis, III. England: Stephen Howe (Consultants) Ltd, 1980. Middleton, Peter. Technical Alternatives to Provide Aircraft Dispersion in Europe - Final Analysis, IV. England: Stephen Howe (Consultants) Ltd, 1980. Sidorenko, A. A. The Offensive (A Soviet View). Tr. U. S. Air Force. Washington: U. S. Air Force, 1970. Simakov, E., Colonel, USSR. "Operational Camouflage of Air Assets." Tr. Major Robert E Townsend. Soviet Awareness Red Eagle Reader, Special Ed. 1980, 142-145. Sollinger, Jerry M. Improving U. S. Theater Nuclear Doctrine: A Critical Analysis. Washington: National defense University Press, 1983. Soviet Military Power. Washington: Department of Defense, 1983. Taylor, Peter P. W., Wing Commander, RAF. NATO's Dispersal Capability: A Fatal Flaw?. Maxwell AFB Al,: Air University, 1977. U. S. Army. Headquarters, Department of the Army. Tactical Deception, FM 90-2. Washington, 1978. U. S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Marine Aviation. FMFM 5-1. Quantico, 1979. U. S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Antiair Warfare. FMFM 5-5. Quantico, 1980. U. S. Marine Corps. Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps. Doctrine for Amphibious Operations. LFM 01. Washington, 1967. U. S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Doctrine for Landing Forces. LFM 02. Quantico, 1971. Whiting, Kenneth R. Soviet Air Power. 1917 - 1978. Maxwell AFB, Al.: Air University Library, 1979.
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