was the threat and the tremendous firepower and the ability of this task force
(TF Hawk), in my opinion, that helped Slobodan Milosevic start the decision
process for peace.that's what caused peace to have a chance." |
- SMA Robert E. Hall
TF Hawk was a unique organization, designed to complement the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deep operations capabilities with AH-64 Apache attack helicopters during Operation ALLIED FORCE. The task force was organized and deployed into Albania to conduct operations over Kosovo. TF Hawk's primary deep operations assets were its AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and its Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs). Ground maneuver units provided force protection, which was given the highest priority, commensurate with mission accomplishment. Additional units from within the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) corps provided combat support, and combat service support. TF Hawk elements included:
- One Attack Helicopter Regiment (ATKHR) with 24 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters organized into two squadrons.
- One Corps Aviation Brigade (CAB) Task Force (TF) with 31 support aircraft including UH-60 >Blackhawks, CH-47 Chinooks, and C-12 fixed-wing aircraft.
- One reinforced MLRS battalion with 27 launchers.
- One mechanized infantry brigade combat team with one mechanized infantry TF and one airborne infantry battalion.
- A Deep Operations Coordination Cell (DOCC) composed mainly of corps headquarters personnel.
- A support package headed by a Corps Support Group (CSG), which included organic transportation, quartermaster, ordnance (maintenance and ammunition), medical, finance, and personnel services units and attached engineer units.
- One task-organized signal battalion.
Once deployed in its assembly area in the vicinity of Tirana, Albania, TF Hawk was to:
- On order, conduct deep attacks to destroy enemy forces in the TF Hawk area of responsibility (AOR). The TF was to also support air interdiction through the targeting process.
- On order, conduct Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD).
- Be prepared to conduct offensive and/or defensive operations to defeat enemy attacks toward the TF assembly area or base camp.
- Take all possible steps to maximize force protection.
- As NATO and Serbia reached agreement on peace in Kosovo, be prepared to provide initial U.S. forces for the peacekeeping mission.
TF Hawk succeeded in deploying and training for its mission to provide a deep operations punch in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE. But as with any other contingency operation, this one was not without its problems. Many observers question the length of time required to deploy TF Hawk into the theater of operations while others question the significant trainup time required to prepare the task force AH-64 crews for combat. The authors of this set of newsletters have written significant lessons and Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) arising from TF Hawk operations that will facilitate future similar operations.
Nevertheless, these lessons must be framed in the proper context. Although the media portrayed TF Hawk as slow in deploying into Albania, we must remember that it deployed to an austere theater through one single Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD), Rinas Airport. This airfield in Tirana, the capital of Albania, also served as the Theater Staging Base (TSB)/Tactical Assembly Area (TAA). It not only had a limited Maximum on Ground (MOG), defined as how many parked aircraft can be worked simultaneously, but also required significant improvements before it was capable of supporting combat operations. Although confusion over Joint Inspection (JI) standards and shortage of trained unit air movements personnel detracted from the efficiency of the deployment, it did not significantly delay the TF Hawk deployment.
Although never employed in combat, the task force AH-64 crews conducted numerous mission rehearsal exercises (MREs) to prepare for combat operations. Without the right perspective, we may judge these crews as not having been proficient enough in deep operations to carry them out successfully when initially deployed. Our old Cold War motto was "Fight as you train," which uses the model of "Train, Alert, Deploy, Fight." In this model, Army units were acquainted with their wartime scenarios and could train prior to alert and deployment to fight our Cold War enemies.
The new reality in our post-Cold War environment requires a "Train as you fight" mentality because of shrinking resources and the impossibility of training for the many diverse scenarios that U.S. Army units may face. The Army used two models to address this reality. The Army used the "Alert, Train, Deploy, Fight" model to employ units alerted for peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, and the "Alert, Deploy, Train, Fight" model to prepare TF Hawk for operations. Both models allowed U.S. Army units to train for contingency operations after alert, either while at homestation or after deployment into theater, because time was available. At the end of 16 full-up MREs, the TF Hawk Deputy Commanding General - Air (DCG-Air) noted that he would "put the TF Hawk pilots and commanders up against anyone." The Army must continue to seize every opportunity to train its forces to fight and win within the specific scenario of a contingency operation while minimizing friendly losses. Nevertheless, units must be well-trained enough in peacetime to fight and win anytime.
Using the outlined frame of reference, this three-volume set of newsletters provides TTPs and lessons from TF Hawk through a series of articles written by subject-matter experts (SMEs) from a CALL Combined Arms Assessment Team (CAAT). The first volume contains two articles that examine the subject areas of Command and Control and the Deep Operations Coordination Cell. The Command and Control (C2) article studies the unique aspects of the task force headquarters design and relationships with higher headquarters. It also examines the organization and function of the various headquarters sections, and select C2processes related to directing and leading subordinate forces and acquiring and communicating information and maintaining statuses. The Deep Operations Coordination Cell (DOCC) article reviews the doctrinal organization and function of the DOCC and provides lessons and TTPs on TF Hawk DOCC organization, planning and targeting, preparation for combat, and battle tracking.
The second volume of this series studies several of the key combat and combat service aspects of the task force. AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and the MLRS, equipped with the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), were TF Hawk's two deep strike assets. In the article, Attack Helicopter in Deep Operations, the author provides organization, planning, rehearsing, and execution lessons and TTPs. MLRS Deep Fires examines MLRS operations, MLRS tactical mission, and fire mission planning. Additionally, the article reviews various MLRS-specific support lessons and TTPs. Military Intelligence and Signal support were essential in this challenging tactical environment. The third article in this newsletter, Military Intelligence Support Operations, reviews the various phases of intelligence support for Mission Rehearsal Exercises (MREs) and NATO air strikes, and lessons learned in employing the Hunter UAV. The final article, Signal Support, studies operations, communications systems, and automation lessons learned and TTPs derived from communications support of the task force headquarters and units conducting deep attacks.
This volume examines combat service support, force protection and simulations support for TF Hawk. Again, this newsletter is a series or articles written by SMEs from the CAAT that observed operations in Albania. The Combat Service Support (CSS) article provides deployment, supply, maintenance (air and ground), and medical support lessons and TTPs. The article, Support Aviation in Deep Operations, supplements the CSS article and reviews UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopter logistical support for TF Hawk. It also examines Downed Aircraft and Aircrew Recovery Team (DAART) and C2support for the deep attack. The Force Protection article examines operations security and safety. Finally, in Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) and Army Simulations, the author studies the effectiveness of BCTP in preparing TF Hawk to plan deep operations. He also looks at exercise design and simulations software lessons and possible changes in TTPs to improve the realism of future simulations training.
Although task force deep strike assets were ultimately not employed against targets in Kosovo, TF Hawk, nevertheless, provided many important lessons and TTPs, which should be considered for future deep and contingency operations. It encountered many problems, but met and overcame all major challenges.
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