AIR INTELLIGENCE PREPARATION OF THE BATTLEFIELD
AIR INTELLIGENCE PREPARATION OF THE BATTLEFIELD
FM 34-130 explains the IPB process in detail. The commander uses IPB to understand the battlefield and the options it presents to friendly and threat forces. IPB is a systematic, continuous process of analyzing the threat and environment in a specific area. By applying the IPB process, the commander gains the information necessary to selectively apply and maximize his combat power at critical points in time and space on the battlefield. Airspace, or the aerial dimension, is the most dynamic and fast paced of the three dimensions. The intelligence staff must consider all the aspects of air operations and must be aware of the capabilities of all air threats, to include UAVs, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, TASMs, and rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. The G2 and S2 have overall staff responsibility for IPB. ADA and aviation officers must provide input to the G2 and S2 when integrating air aspects into the IPB process.
The IPB process has four steps:
Since terrain, weather, and other characteristics of the battlefield have different effects on air and air defense operations, aerial IPB differs from ground IPB. Enemy forces must be evaluated in relation to the effects that weather, terrain, and friendly operations will have on them. The most significant threats that must be evaluated for aerial IPB are UAVs, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Aerial IPB is an integral part of the IPB process at all levels.
The battlefield includes aerial dimensions to an area of operations, battle space, and an area of interest. Because of the aerial dimension, each of these parts of the battlefield framework may be different from that of ground force operations.
The air area of operations is the area where the commander is assigned responsibility and authority for military operations. It usually is, but does not necessarily need to be, identical to the ground area of operations in width and depth. It extends vertically up to the maximum altitude of friendly ADA systems.
Battle space is a physical volume that expands or contracts in relation to the ability to acquire and engage the enemy. It varies in width, depth, and height as the commander positions and moves assets over time. Battle space is not assigned by a higher commander and can extend beyond the commander's area of operations.
AREA OF INTEREST
The area of interest is the geographic area and the airspace above it from which information and intelligence are required to facilitate planning or successful conduct of the commander's operation. Because the commander and staff need time to process information and plan and synchronize operations, the commander's area of interest is generally larger than the area of operations or battle space. It is also larger due to the great distances that air and missile systems can rapidly cover. The air area of interest will extend vertically to cover the maximum service ceilings or trajectories of aircraft, UAVs, and missile systems. Horizontally, it will extend to cover the maximum range of aircraft, UAVs, and missiles, plus threat airfields, forward arming and refueling points, navigation aids, and missile sites. The area of interest extends to the limits from which intelligence and information must be gathered about enemy forces which could affect friendly forces.
The effects of terrain and weather on the enemy and friendly forces must be analyzed. They are different than the effects on ground operations.
Terrain analysis in support of air defense is significantly different from terrain analysis for ground operations. The nature of airspace does not eliminate the need for terrain analysis because enemy air and friendly ADA will still attempt to use terrain to their own best advantage. IPB focuses on the impact of geographic factors on the ability of threat air to approach, acquire, and engage a target, or deliver airborne or air assault troops. Analysis of the terrain for IPB follows the same principles as ground analysis and uses the military aspects of terrain (OCOKA).
These aspects relate to the influence of terrain on reconnaissance and target acquisition. In the IPB context, observation relates to optical and electronic line of sight. Many battlefield systems require line of sight to effectively operate or acquire and engage targets. These systems include radios, radars, jammers, direct-fire weapons, and airborne and ground sensors as well as friendly ADA systems. Fields of fire relate to the terrain effects on weapon systems. Airspace must be analyzed with regard to routes which provide the best protection for air threats entering the target area, and those which provide the best fields of fire once they reach the target area.
Cover and concealment have slightly different applications with respect to air systems. The following tactics and techniques fall into the context of cover and concealment:
Threat aircraft, cruise missiles, and possibly even UAVs will use contour flying, masking, and ground clutter to avoid detection and to provide cover from direct fires. Aircraft will also use the terrain by loitering on reverse slopes, using pop-up tactics, and by using ground clutter and vegetation as a backdrop to enhance concealment.
Obstacles are broken down into three primary types:
Of particular interest are obstacles and terrain which restrict lateral movement within an avenue of approach. This will canalize movement or restrict evasive action. Additionally, terrain may stop the employment of certain air threat systems if the terrain exceeds the system's maximum operating ceiling.
Key terrain is any locality or area in which the seizure, retention, or control of it will afford a marked advantage to either combatant. In the aerial dimension, these consist of terrain features which canalize or constrain air threat systems, and terrain with an elevation higher than the maximum ceiling of air threat systems. Additionally, areas that can be used for airfields, missile and UAV launch sites, landing and drop zones, or forward arming and refueling points also need to be considered as key terrain (since these areas could be used to support friendly or threat air operations). Terrain can be used as an aid to navigation. Man-made features are also used as cues to navigate to targets.
Air avenues of approach are evaluated using the same criteria as for ground. A good air avenue of approach will permit maneuver while providing terrain masking from surface-to-air weapon systems. Some common air avenues of approach are valleys, direct lines from the enemy point of origin, and river beds. Factors which should be used to determine air avenues of approach, both ingress and egress, are the--
Type of air threat. UAVs are small and elusive. They usually fly low. Altitude can vary. Once in the target area, they may fly an orbit attempting to stay out of engagement range of ADA. Most surfaced-launched cruise missiles are terrain following and they use terrain masking. Due to their range, they may take indirect approach routes. Ballistic missiles are not terrain dependent. They fly a straight ground track from launch point to objective. Their flight is not restricted by terrain. TASMs usually fly direct routes from launch platform to the target. Rotary-wing aircraft primarily conduct contour flights. They follow ridge lines and military crests, using the terrain to mask their approach to the target area. Fixed-wing aircraft usually follow major terrain or man-made features. Depending on range, they may fly a straight line to the target. Ordnance or payload may affect range and altitude of the air system and thus influence the selection of avenues of approach.
Point of origin. When determining air avenues, the staff looks at the commander's entire area of interest. Analysis begins at the threat airfield or UAV or missile launch site and works toward the probable enemy objective. This allows a look at the big picture. The staff considers the range of the air systems and location of navigation aids and ground control sites.
Probable threat objective. Each avenue of approach must end at a target, drop zone, or landing zone; or within reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, or target acquisition range of a target; or at a drop or landing zone. Reverse IPB is used to pick threat objectives. Potential to support maneuver forces. Air assets which are used to achieve ground objectives will seek to use air avenues of approach coincident with ground avenues of approach. Air assets attacking deep are not limited to these ground avenues. Missiles and RISTA UAVs are not limited by ground corridors.
Freedom to maneuver. Does the avenue--
Protection for the air system and pilot. Does the avenue provide--
Air threat and pilot capabilities. Can the air system or pilot--
Air operations are especially susceptible to the effects of weather. Weather analysis for air and air defense operations is designed to predict the most likely time over target and other considerations based on weather effects and light data.
Many of the same factors the G2 or S2 considers for ground operations are as follows:
Threat evaluation for air operations consists of a detailed study of enemy air capabilities, organization, and doctrine. The following steps should be used when evaluating the threat:
Typical questions which should be answered during this step must also include the commander's critical information requirements and priority intelligence requirements. They are as follows:
ADA units evaluate a broad range of order of battle data and threat capabilities to include the ground force and EW threat to ADA units. They also evaluate the answers to the following questions.
What are the capabilities of the air systems in terms of--
What are the capabilities of threat UAVs in terms of--
What are the capabilities of threat TBM systems in terms of--
What are the capabilities of threat cruise missiles in terms of--
This should determine what targets are to be labeled as high-value targets. High-value targets are assets the enemy or friendly commander has deemed as important for the successful accomplishment of his mission. High-value targets are determined by operational necessity and weapon system capability.
Determining both the threat air and ground courses of action integrates the results of the previous three steps into a meaningful conclusion. Given what threat air and missile forces prefer to do, and the effects of the operational environment, what are the enemy's likely objectives and what COAs are available to him? The G2 or S2 develops enemy threat models that depict the threat's air and missile COAs. They also prepare event templates and matrices that focus intelligence collection on identifying which COA the threat will execute. The process of developing these templates and matrices is covered in depth in FM 34-130. The decision support template is an integrated staff product that results from the war-gaming of potential friendly COAs.
Situation templates are graphic depictions of expected threat dispositions should they adopt a particular COA. They usually depict the most critical point in the operation as agreed upon by the G2 and G3. However, the G2 or S2 might prepare several templates representing different snapshots in time starting with the initial threat array. The situation template integrates air attack and surveillance profiles with terrain. It focuses on specific air avenues of approach and mobility corridors to determine which avenues are the most capable of supporting specific attack techniques, profiles, and the most direct routes to landing and drop zones to protect and ensure the survivability of air threat systems.
The event template is a guide for collection and reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) planning. It depicts named areas of interest (NAIs) where the commander expects to see certain activities of tactical significance and is used to confirm or deny an enemy course of action. These NAIs are based on the terrain constraints on air approach routes to potential targets and analysis of the enemy's attack and RISTA profiles. The G2 or S2 develops an event matrix to support the event template by providing details on the type of activity expected in each NAI, the times the NAI is expected to be active, and its relationship to other events on the battlefield. Examples of NAI include landing and drop zones, forward arming and refueling points, forward staging areas, aerial choke points, and TBM, cruise missile, and UAV launch points.
The decision support template is based on the situation and event templates, event matrix, and the wargaming of friendly COA results and should depict--
Air TAIs and DPs are determined in the same manner as for ground operations. However, due to the high speeds of air systems, decision points must be placed significantly farther in advance of the TAIs.
IPB is a systematic, continuous process of analyzing the threat and
environment in a specific geographic setting. Applying the IPB process helps
the commander apply and maximize his combat power at critical points in time
and space by determining the threat's likely COA, and describing the
environment and its effects on operations. Preparation and continuous
updates of the aerial portion of IPB are fundamental to the execution of the
air defense and land force missions on the modern battlefield.