This chapter describes the air defense (AD) combat function, relates the tenets of Army operations to air defense, and defines the mission of air defense artillery (ADA). It also presents an overview of the manual and summarizes two successful air defense operations.


This field manual provides the doctrinal foundation for Army air defense operations in joint and multinational operations. Air defense is one of the seven combat functions, which also include intelligence, maneuver, fire support, mobility and survivability, logistics, and battle command. Air defense operations provide the force with 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.

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 enemy 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 tactical air-to-surface missiles (TASMs). Air defense includes both offensive and defensive actions.

The airspace of a theater is as important a dimension of joint operations as the terrain itself. 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 defense operations contribute to gaining and maintaining the desired degree of air superiority, provide force protection, and help win the information war.

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.

The Army's part in the theater campaign is diverse and requires a combined arms force. Air 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.


The mission of US Army ADA is to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance. This mission statement expands both the types of elements which require protection and the types of aerial threats air defense forces must destroy.


While past ADA doctrine specified which forces and assets would receive air defense protection, the current mission statement is not so restrictive. ADA commanders allocate assets 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.


Geopolitical assets are nonmilitary assets that US, allied, or host nation civil authorities nominate for air 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 defense priorities list must be done at the highest levels. Geopolitical assets may include the territory of the USA.


The threat is not limited to attack aircraft, helicopters, and tactical ballistic missiles. The threat includes all aircraft, indirect fire surface-launched missiles, aerial surveillance platforms, and theater missiles. An expanded list of threats driven by technological advances and proliferation now includes unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and satellites. Chapter 2 provides more detail and information on the threat.


The new mission statement greatly expands the range of possible ADA operations. Successful air and missile defense is key to generating and sustaining combat power in force-projection operations. The AD contribution to friendly efforts to counter enemy reconnaissance, intelligence surveillance, and target acquisition efforts has gained greater emphasis. Current and future Army ADA capabilities must synergistically combine with the AD assets of other services to defeat the new multifaceted threat. Army ADA forces participate in operations at all levels of war. At the strategic level, the future national missile defense system will provide protection against accidental, unauthorized, or limited launch of ballistic missiles against the United States. While capabilities do not currently exist to meet the full spectrum of ADA mission requirements, the mission statement provides ADA a clear vision for the 21st century.


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


ADA units take the initiative by participating in planning for both offensive and defensive counterair and theater missile defense operations. Air defense 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 enemy aerial reconnaissance platforms. ADA units engage air threats from directions and in ways that the enemy does not expect.


ADA units anticipate and counter enemy actions and react rapidly to changes in the situation. They quickly change from offense to defense, entry 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.


ADA units are among the first units to deploy during force-projection operations and the last units to depart during redeployment operations. They conduct operations throughout the width and depth of the theater. ADA units achieve defense in depth using a system of systems approach, which gives multiple opportunities to defeat the enemy aerial threat. ADA systems see deep into enemy airspace to contribute to the commander's situational awareness and defeat air, missile, and surveillance threats at maximum range. Army air defense includes contributions from all battlefield operating systems and units.


Air defense units see beyond their immediate tasks and objectives to recognize how their efforts fit within the concept of the operation. They counter the entire aerial threat spectrum by integrating a system of systems. Air defense commanders integrate their operations horizontally with all battlefield operating systems and vertically with both higher and lower echelon air and missile defense units. Deep, close, and rear operations require simultaneous support.


ADA units meet diverse mission requirements. Commanders can 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.


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.

While contributing to all four elements of combat power, air defense 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 all the active and passive actions units take to preserve combat power and deny the enemy the ability to successfully attack the force.

Air and missile defense operations are important active force protection measures. Offensive counterair and 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. Besides air and missile defense, force protection has four components.

The first 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, counterreconnaissance, security operations, and fortified fighting positions. Air defense contributes to counterreconnaissance by destroying UAVs and aircraft conducting reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) operations against the force. Frequent moves disrupt the enemy command and control cycle. These measures help commanders protect their force from enemy observation throughout the conduct of operations. The second component of protection keeps soldiers healthy and maintains their fighting morale. Commanders and leaders at all levels take care of their soldiers' basic health needs. They consider the welfare, morale, and spirit of soldiers as they build cohesion and unit esprit de corps.

Safety is the third component of protection and is 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 successful operations and the preservation of combat power.

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


Air defense is one of the seven combat functions. The combat functions--intelligence, maneuver, fire support, air defense, mobility and survivability, logistics, and battle command--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 combat functions exist at all echelons of command from echelons above corps through battalion. 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. Air defense commanders synchronize their operations by integrating them horizontally with other combat functions and vertically within the air defense combat function.


Theater missile defense and theater counterair (theater air defense) operations are separate but highly related mission areas. As discussed earlier, counterair targets are manned aircraft and UAVs, while TMD targets are comprised of ballistic, cruise, and air-to-surface missiles. Operations to protect the force from theater missiles differ fundamentally from those actions taken to defend against the counterair threat.

Manned 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.

The aircraft threat is relatively cooperative when compared to missile threats. In addition to the fixed nature of aircraft-related support facilities, the operational battlespace (opportunities to engage) is much greater. While aircraft conducting operations against the force are exposed to defensive fires for tens of minutes, missile engagement opportunities are measured in seconds.

Though there are some areas where counterair and TMD operations overlap (for example, sensors, weapons, communications, et cetera), TMD and counterair command and control (C2) relationships differ. The unique challenges posed by theater missiles 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 counterair engagement operations. As a result of these conflicting demands, the joint force adopts separate C2 approaches which optimize TMD and counterair operations to best protect the force from each type of threat.


The Army must be ready to fight enemies whose air, missile, and surveillance capabilities vary widely throughout the range of military operations. Successful air defense operations begin with a thorough understanding of the enemy's air capabilities, doctrine, and operations. Chapter 2 provides an overview of existing and future air threats.

Air superiority is crucial for success on the battlefield. Army air defense operations contribute to joint counterair and TMD operations. They protect the force from air and missile attack, aerial surveillance, and support the attainment of air superiority. Chapter 3 establishes the doctrinal foundation for discussion of Army air defense operations and their relationship to joint and multinational theater missile defense and counterair operations.

Chapter 4 describes the fundamental principles for the employment of Army air defense to include contributions from all battlefield operating systems. Battle command is the art of decision making, leading, and motivating soldiers and their organizations into action to accomplish missions. As with every component of combat power, the direction and control of ADA operations maximize their contribution to the effectiveness of the force. Chapter 5 details Army air defense battle command doctrine and tactics.

Army air defense plans and conducts operations at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. Chapter 6 addresses ADA planning and execution at each echelon of command.

Chapter 7 addresses ADA logistics. The main theme is that ADA logistics follow standard Army doctrine, procedures, and organization.

Chapter 8 covers ADA's role in operations other than war (OOTW). Special emphasis is placed on the versatility of ADA forces and those circumstances where successful operations other than war require the contributions of air defense forces.


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.

The Normandy campaign of June 1944, and the subsequent breakout, provide 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.

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 pilotless 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 tactical ballistic missile in combat. As indicated by the debris from the TBM which 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.

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 Hawkbatteries 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.