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Chapter 1


This chapter describes the air defense (AD) combat function, relates the tenets of Army operations to air and missile defense operations, and defines the mission of air defense artillery (ADA). It also provides vignettes of successful air and missile defense operations.


1-1. This field manual provides the doctrinal foundation for Army air and missile defense operations in joint and multinational operations. Air defense is one of the seven combat functions, which include intelligence, maneuver, fire support, mobility and survivability, combat service support, and command and control. Air and missile defense forces provide protection from enemy air and missile attack. They prevent the enemy from separating friendly forces while freeing the commander to fully synchronize maneuver and firepower.

1-2. The air defense combat function contributes to joint theater counterair operations and to joint theater missile defense. Theater counterair operations protect the force and critical assets from attack by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Theater missile defense protects the force and critical assets from attack by theater missiles, which include ballistic missiles, cruise missiles (CMs), and air-to-surface missiles (ASM). Air and missile defense includes both offensive and defensive actions.

1-3. The airspace of a theater is as important a dimension of joint operations as the terrain. Friendly forces use airspace for critical purposes including maneuver, delivery of fires, reconnaissance and surveillance, transportation, and battle command. Effective control and use of airspace directly influence the outcome of campaigns and battles. Commanders consider airspace and the apportionment of air power in planning and supporting their operations. They expect the enemy to contest their use of the airspace and must protect their forces from enemy observation and attack. Air and missile defense operations contribute to gaining and maintaining the desired degree of air superiority, provide force protection, and help win the information war.

1-4. Synchronization of ground operations with air operations is fundamental to the conduct of successful campaigns and battles. Friendly air forces, through such missions as counterair, air interdiction, and close air support, directly support the land campaign.

1-5. The Army's part in the theater campaign is diverse and requires a combined arms force. Air and missile defense forces protect the combined arms team, and other priority forces and assets by preventing enemy aircraft, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles from locating, striking, and destroying them.


1-6. The mission of US Army Air Defense Artillery is to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance.


1-7. ADA commanders allocate forces based on the supported commander's priorities. In addition, the mission is broadly written to include protection of critical assets, installations, and facilities along with joint and multinational forces when required.


1-8. Geopolitical assets are nonmilitary assets that US, allied, or host nation civil authorities nominate for air and missile defense protection. These assets could be political, religious, ethnic, historical, or territorial in nature. Since protection of geopolitical assets may not directly support military operations, integration of geopolitical assets into the air and missile defense priorities list must be done at the highest levels. Geopolitical assets may include the territory of the USA.


1-9. The threat is not limited to attack aircraft, helicopters, and ballistic missiles. The threat includes all aircraft, indirect fire surface-launched missiles, aerial surveillance platforms, large caliber rockets, and theater missiles. Chapter 2 provides more detail and information on the threat.


1-10. Successful air and missile defense is key to generating and sustaining combat power in force-projection operations. The ADA contribution to friendly efforts to counter threat reconnaissance, intelligence surveillance, and target acquisition efforts has gained greater emphasis. Current and future Army ADA capabilities, both active and reserve component, must synergistically combine with the AMD forces of other services to defeat the multifaceted threat. Army ADA participates in operations at all levels of war.


1-11. National Missile Defense is a joint service program to develop a fixed, land-based system to protect the United States against limited, long-range ballistic missile attacks. The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) has responsibility for publishing National Missile Defense (NMD) doctrine.


1-12. Air and missile defense operations are inherently joint operations, multicomponent, and embody Army doctrine. ADA forces are versatile, agile, and fight throughout the depth of the battlefield. Through aggressive planning and fully orchestrated execution, ADA allows the commander at any level to seize and maintain the initiative. Commanders integrate air and missile defense operations into campaigns fought at the operational level, and battles and engagements fought at the tactical level.


1-13. ADA units meet diverse mission requirements. They require discipline, high standards, and thorough preparation. Commanders need to shift focus, task-organize, and move from one role or mission to another quickly and efficiently. ADA units are multifunctional, able to defeat several different air threats while operating at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.


1-14. Agility is as much a mental quality as a physical one. ADA units anticipate and counter enemy actions and react rapidly to changes in the situation. ADA forces must quickly change from offense to defense, entry operations to decisive operations, and counterair to theater missile defense. Concentrating coverage and fires, or screening the flanks from attack and surveillance, are tasks routinely accomplished by ADA units.


1-15. ADA systems see deep into enemy airspace to contribute to the commander's situation awareness and defeat air, missile, and surveillance threats at maximum range. They achieve defense in depth using a systems approach technique, which gives multiple opportunities to defeat the enemy aerial threat. Depth also includes staying power, which is the access to adequate resources to continue the fight.


1-16. Synchronization requires controlling the tempo of operations as well as weighting and shifting air and missile defense efforts. ADA units counter the entire aerial threat spectrum by integrating a system of systems. Commanders integrate their operations horizontally with all battlefield operating systems and vertically with both higher and lower ADA units.


1-17. ADA units take the initiative by participating in planning for both offensive and defensive counterair and theater missile defense operations. ADA commanders recommend enemy airfields, missile launch sites, command and control nodes, and logistics for deep attack. They contribute to winning the information war by destroying threat aerial reconnaissance platforms.


1-18. Commanders seek to apply overwhelming combat power to achieve victory with minimum casualties to their forces and assets. Combat power combines the elements of maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership. Overwhelming combat power is the ability to focus sufficient force to ensure success and deny the enemy any chance of escape or effective retaliation. Commanders apply overwhelming combat power by bringing all combat elements to bear at the optimum time and place, giving the enemy no opportunity to respond effectively. Commanders integrate and coordinate a variety of functions with the elements of combat power. As a result, they convert the potential of forces, resources, and opportunities into actual capability through violent, coordinated action at the decisive time and place. They attempt to defeat the enemy's combat power by interfering with its ability to conduct reconnaissance, maneuver, and apply firepower.

1-19. While contributing to all four elements of combat power, ADA makes its greatest contribution to force protection. Protection conserves the fighting potential of a force so that commanders can apply it at the decisive time and place. It includes active and passive actions units take to preserve combat power and deny the enemy the ability to successfully attack the force. Force protection has five components:

  • Air and missile defense operations
  • OPSEC/deception operations
  • Health/morale of soldiers
  • Safety
  • Avoidance of fratricide

1-20. The first component of force protection is air and missile defense operations. Offensive counterair and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) attack operations attempt to defeat or suppress enemy capabilities to launch air and missile attacks. Defensive counterair and TMD active defense destroy enemy aircraft and missiles that threaten the force.

1-21. The second component of protection combines operations security (OPSEC) and deception operations, to help keep the enemy from locating friendly units. Proper dispersion helps reduce losses from enemy fires, as does the use of camouflage, discipline, counter-reconnaissance, security operations, and fortified fighting positions. Air defense contributes to counter-reconnaissance by destroying UAVs and aircraft conducting reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) operations against the force. Frequent moves disrupt the enemy RSTA cycle. These measures help commanders protect their force from enemy observation throughout the conduct of operations.

1-22. The health and welfare aspect of force protection keeps soldiers healthy and maintains fighting morale. Commanders and leaders at all levels take care of their soldiers' basic health needs. They consider the welfare and spirit of soldiers as they build cohesion and unit esprit de corps.

1-23. Safety is the fourth component of protection and is a part of all operations. Commanders and leaders embrace safety as a principal element in all they do. Safety in training, planning, and operations is crucial to the preservation of combat power and continued successful operations.

1-24. The fifth component of protection is the avoidance of fratricide. ADA forces use both technical and procedural means to identify friendly aircraft. Compliance with airspace control measures by all friendly airspace users is essential. The primary mechanisms to reduce fratricide are air defense airspace control measures, detailed situational awareness, strong leadership, disciplined units, synchronized operations, and anticipation of risks.

1-25. A related imperative for air and missile defense operations is the issuance of early warning (EW) throughout the theater.


1-26. Air defense is one of the seven combat functions that provide a structure for integrating and synchronizing critical combat activities in time, space, and purpose. At every echelon, commanders use the available battle command system to visualize, plan, direct, coordinate, adjust, and control the combat functions. The seven combat functions are:

  • Intelligence
  • Maneuver
  • Fire support
  • Air defense
  • Mobility and survivability
  • Logistics
  • Battle command

1-27. The combat functions exist at all echelons of command. Successful operations occur when the combat functions interact horizontally and vertically. Horizontal interaction occurs when all combat functions interact at the same echelon to maximize combat power. Vertical integration occurs when higher and lower echelons within each combat function interact to synchronize operations. ADA commanders synchronize their operations by integrating them horizontally with other combat functions and vertically within the air defense combat function.


1-28. Theater missile defense and theater air defense operations are highly related mission areas. Air targets are manned aircraft, cruise missiles, and UAVs, while TMD targets are comprised of theater missiles.

1-29. Aircraft demand extensive infrastructure support and generate great demands in terms of manpower and training. Aircraft require runways and sophisticated maintenance and support facilities to sustain operations. These static, lucrative targets are highly vulnerable to attack by the joint force. Mobile missile launchers are much less vulnerable, and are manned by fewer soldiers requiring significantly less training.

1-30. An aircraft threat has fixed nature aircraft-related support facilities, thus making the operational battlespace (opportunities to engage) much greater. Aircraft conducting operations against the force are exposed to defensive fires for tens of minutes, while missile engagement opportunities are measured in seconds.

1-31. The unique challenges posed by theater missile defense require a highly responsive C2 structure, which decentralizes engagement operations to the lowest level. By comparison, the requirement to avoid fratricide of friendly aircraft mandates strict, highly centralized control of theater air defense engagements.


1-32. World War II offered lessons about modern warfare that remain relevant 50 years later. Army divisions joined both joint and allied forces in the conduct of combined arms, force-projection operations supported by modern fighter aircraft and bombers. Enemy air forces were large, and highly capable, and had the potential to deliver both conventional and chemical munitions. They held US and allied forces at risk throughout the duration of the war. In addition to the air threat, the allies faced attack by surface-to-surface and cruise missiles. To counter the introduction of sizeable enemy air forces, the Army developed and fielded equally capable air defense forces. Early experiences at Kasserine Pass and in the Pacific taught the importance of air defense to force protection. By 1944, commanders routinely integrated air defense forces into Army operations at all echelons.

1-33. The Normandy campaign of June 1944, and the subsequent breakout, provides excellent examples of air defense operations in a force-projection scenario. Eleven battalions of antiaircraft artillery (AAA) supported the assaulting US divisions. As the beachhead expanded, additional AAA groups and brigades joined the assault forces to form a near-leak-proof defense. Though the Luftwaffe flew thousands of sorties against the forces and assets concentrated in the beachhead, the allies suffered no significant damage due to air attack. American antiaircraft artillery met the challenge by destroying more than 300 enemy aircraft.

1-34. Following bloody hedgerow fighting, American forces conducted a breakout in July 1944. The plan fully integrated and synchronized AAA with ground force operations. AAA again successfully protected the maneuver forces as they swept across France, destroying more than 300 German aircraft. As units moved forward, the allies captured new ports for use as forward logistics centers. The Germans made a determined effort to destroy the major port, Antwerp, using V-1 aircraft, the first cruise missiles. American air defenders rose to the challenge, destroying more than 70 percent of the missiles and keeping the port open throughout the five-month attack.

1-35. Operation OVERLORD is illustrative of the steps taken in a forced entry, force-projection operation. Air defense protected the force in the points of embarkation and throughout entry operations, expansion of the lodgment, and conduct of decisive operations. The threat posed by enemy aircraft and missiles, potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction, presaged the situation faced by US forces during a more modern force-projection operation.

1-36. Fifty years after the end of World War II, American forces once again were called upon to conduct force-projection operations against a modern mechanized army that was supported by large numbers of technologically advanced aircraft and ballistic missiles. As during World War II, air defense forces were fully integrated into operations at all echelons.

1-37. Seven days after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Stinger teams and Vulcan squads from 2-52 ADA and 3-4 ADA were on the ground in Saudi Arabia, protecting the advance elements of XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82d Airborne Division. They were quickly followed by a Patriot battery from 2-7 ADA which provided air and missile protection for the aerial port of debarkation at Dhahran. During the buildup preceding the ground war, elements of 21 Army air defense battalions were deployed to protect US and coalition forces and assets in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.

1-38. 11th ADA Brigade's Patriot batteries made history the night of January 18, 1991, when Alpha Battery, 2-7 ADA, protecting forces in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, recorded the first intercept of a ballistic missile in combat. As indicated by the debris from the BM that fell to the ground, the missile would have struck a village housing soldiers from VII Corps. Scud intercepts became a nightly event for the Patriot soldiers protecting coalition forces and the cities of Saudi Arabia and Israel. The fiery collisions of Patriot and Scud missiles were captured live by network television, and telecast worldwide to prime viewing audiences. The morale of the soldiers of the coalition, and the citizens of the United States, soared with each successful intercept.

1-39. Air defense units protected the divisions and corps in their tactical assembly areas, and were fully integrated into the maneuver units as they conducted breaching operations and attacked Iraqi divisions in Kuwait and Iraq. Patriot and Hawk batteries of TF 8-43 ADA and TF 2-1 ADA protected VII and XVIII Corps breach sites, and joined division ADA units in protecting the maneuver forces, fire support, logistics, and command and control elements throughout the attack. Stinger sections from 2-44 ADA participated in history's largest air assault on February 24th, when the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) attacked 150 miles into Iraq to seize Forward Operating Base Cobra. Vulcan crews from the mechanized and armored divisions destroyed numerous enemy infantry-fighting vehicles, killed and captured hundreds of Iraqi infantry, and reduced fortifications to piles of rubble. As a fitting end to the war, TF 8-43 ADA was given the honor of protecting Safwan Airfield, where coalition commanders received the surrender of the Iraqi armed forces on March 12, 1991.

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