This chapter provides doctrine for air defense battle command. It addresses the aspects of command, the responsibilities of the commander, and control as it relates to battle management. It also addresses the command systems capabilities necessary to help the commander to integrate and coordinate functions and execute successful operations. Battle command is a vital factor in executing the tenets of Army operations, surviving, and winning quickly and decisively on future battlefields or in operations other than war.


Battle command is the art of battle decision making, and leading and motivating soldiers and their organizations into action to accomplish missions at least cost to soldiers. Battle command includes visualizing the current and desired future states of friendly and enemy forces and then deciding how to get from one to the other at least cost. The commander assigns missions, prioritizes and allocates resources, selects the critical time and place to act, and knows how and when to make adjustments during the fight. In addition to deciding, battle command includes leading and motivating units toward the desired end state. This leadership must be up front. Leaders must be with soldiers. They must feel the pain and pride then decide on the best course of action to accomplish the mission at least cost to soldiers.

Commanders assess; take risks; and see, hear, and understand the needs of subordinates and seniors. Commanders go where they can best influence the battle, where their moral and physical presence can be felt, and where their will to achieve victory can best be expressed, understood, and acted upon.


Battle command has two vital components--decision making and leadership. Both components demand skill, wisdom, experience, and courage. As such, command is more an art than a science. In battle, it is often guided by intuition and feel gained from years of practice and study. The two elements of battle command are tightly interwoven. They integrate leading, guiding and motivating with the knowledge to establish and define the limits of control throughout the course of a mission.

Decision Making

Decision making is knowing if to decide, then when and what to decide. Decision brings with it the cost of committing resources, foreclosing options, incurring risk, and revealing intentions to the enemy. Commanders anticipate the activities that will be put into motion once a decision is made. They know how irreversible some commitments will be once execution begins. Uncertainty and chance will always complicate decision making.

The commander cannot, and should not, attempt to know everything. However, he must know that which is important. The battle command system must provide him a solid base of information from which he can pick and choose what he needs. The commander must glean the information he knows to be vital from what is available and provided by others. He bears personal responsibility for defining the critical information, friendly or enemy, he must have. The commander cannot be a prisoner of a command post. He must retain access to the information he needs to command wherever he is on the battlefield.

Battle command demands that leaders position themselves where they can best command without depriving them of the ability to respond to changing situations. The commander must be able to go where he can bes assess the operation and risks and make the necessary adjustments.

Battle command demands that the commander retain his objectivity when making decisions and not be swayed by the passions of the moment. The successful commander requires a balanced detachment from the unimportant, with an instinctive recognition of what is important and what requires his direct involvement. The commander cannot attempt to address personally every action. Knowing what requires his attention and what can be handled by his staff and subordinate commanders is key to time management and a decentralized command environment.


Leadership is taking responsibility for actions of the command and the decisions which cause those actions. Commanders will be compelled to act without all the relevant information and must be prepared to deal with the consequences thereof. The lack of available information does not invalidate the responsibility of command. Forces, when put in motion, are not easily reversed. After forces have been put in motion, the commander must provide the strength and will to follow through with the choices, and the wisdom to know when they must be changed and further decisions made.

The commander's strength of character and ability to motivate are among the most vital components of successful command. The commander serves as a role model. He promotes the proper ethical perspectives, sustains a positive and progressive command climate, and fosters a sense of organizational unity and cohesion. Commanders are technically and tactical proficient and possess the moral toughness that provides soldiers the will to fight.


Command--the art of motivating and directing soldiers and organizations to accomplish a mission-- must be supported by the means to regulate the forces to achieve the commander's intent. Command, however, and the decision making and problem solving that come with it, are not done in isolation. The commander's staff and subordinates assist in developing, modifying, and improving the initial versions of plausible courses of action and in development of future courses of action for events that most likely are not yet totally clear.

Battle commanders must be flexible enough to respond to changing situations and to anticipate the demands of, and solutions to future operations. They must train themselves, their staffs, soldiers and units so that they are prepared for whatever missions they are assigned. Commanders must be able to visualize the future, formulate concepts, allocate means, and direct the necessary missions required to achieve victory.

Commanders make estimates of future operations and assessments of the current situation to determine their own intent and formulate the concept of the operation. The prioritization of actions and considerations of the acceptable degree of risk guides the commander in determining the amount of control he can, and should, delegate to others to synchronize actions across the area of operations. Command without freedom of action to subordinates denies their initiative and lessens the ability of the battle commander to employ all of his resources to their fullest potential.


Control is inherent in battle command. Control is more scientific than command. Commanders command while the headquarters and staffs coordinate and make necessary adjustments consistent with the commander's intent. Control monitors the status of organizational activities, identifies deviations from the commander's intent, and regulates the forces and means toward an intended aim.

Control provides the commander freedom to operate, delegate authority, and lead from any position on the battlefield, while synchronizing actions vertically and horizontally throughout the AO. Control derives from understanding the commander's intent, implementing good SOPs, training units and soldiers prior to battle, rehearsing, using graphic control measures specific to the situation, and maintaining continuous dialogue between commanders at all levels. Proper control ensures all operations are synchronized and sustained throughout their duration. The process of controlling an organization is directed towards ensuring that the efforts of all elements are synchronized, adjusting as the situation dictates. However, focus must be maintained on the intended end state and purpose as expressed in the commander's intent. Skilled staffs work within the commander's intent to direct and control units and allocate the means to support that intent.

The role of the staff is defined and focused by the commander. The staff and subordinates assist the commander in developing, modifying, and improving the initial versions of courses of action based on their expertise.

They perform the fact-filtering and development work. But when completed, it is the commander who makes the judgment-informed decisions. It is through the staff and battle command systems that the commander exercises control. Staffs compute requirements, allocate means, and integrate efforts. They monitor the status of organizations, identify variance, correct deviations, and push analyzed information to the commander. Staffs acquire and apply means to carry out the commander's intent and develop specific instructions from general guidance.

Control provides the means to regulate, synchronize, and monitor forces and functions through collection, fusion, assessment, and dissemination of information and data. Control is associated with functional areas and depends upon data and information systems. It allows the commander through the staff to monitor the status and efforts of the command and adjacent units and to maintain situational awareness throughout the battle space. Responsive control means (communications, computers, and sensors) allow the commander to manage and direct the process.

The communications segment of the battle command and RISTA systems must provide information quickly and with reasonable security, to whomever needs it. Information transfer between sensors, deciders, and weapon systems or forces is necessary in every type and level of battle management. Information-age technology can provide the commander an abundance of real-time information which can, if properly presented, reduce uncertainty and confusion. However, if improperly managed, it could burden the commander

The speed of operations has quickened because of advances in the rate of intelligence and information flow. The ability to gather, manage, process, and circulate information, in near-real-time, among sensors, deciders, weapons, and highly mobile forces give operational and tactical commanders the means to set battle tempo. Tempo is a function of speed of operations within time to accomplish missions based on the commander's plan and available resources.

Tempo requires both mental and physical agility by leaders and organizations. Commanders must understand these relationships and manage them effectively. Commanders must possess the mental agility and discipline to make timely decisions to modify the tempo to their advantage, deny the enemy the initiative, and decisively defeat it at the selected time and place.


The battle command system must support the ability of the commander to adjust plans for future operations while focusing on the current fight. The battle command system for air defense is grouped into two categories, engagement operations (EO) and force operations (FO). EO and FO functions are closely related. There is a real-time interaction that takes place between many of the EO and FO functions during battle. This interaction results in continued force optimization as the battle progresses. The related tools for implementing command decisions include communications and computers.

Reliable communications are imperative to battle command and to control. Effective battle command requires reliable signal support systems to enable the commander to conduct operations at varying tempos over extended distances. Good signal planning increases the commander's options to exploit success and facilitate future operations. The battle command style of the commander dictates the structure of the supporting communications system. The commander is able to move freely about the battlefield and is electronically linked with the command post to access time-sensitive data and to influence the battle. Space-based systems provide commanders reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, navigation, early warning, and positioning information that greatly facilitate battle command. Satellite communications support all battlefield operating systems. These space-based systems significantly upgrade the speed and accuracy of information that commanders exchange with subordinates. For more details on space operations, see Appendix C.

Engagement Operations

EO includes those functions required to execute the air, missile, and countersurveillance battles. The air surveillance function establishes a correlated air picture with target types and identification. The mission control function processes commands from higher echelon units, evaluates the threat, optimizes engagement performance, monitors the outcome of engagements, and manages the employment of sensors and decoys. The attack operations support function determines the location of enemy air and missile launch sites and provides it to attack systems. The data distribution function distributes the air picture and track data.

Force Operations

FO includes those functions required to plan, coordinate, prepare for, and sustain the total air defense mission. The situation analysis function continuously collects and evaluates all available information on friendly and hostile forces, including the intelligence tasks of continuous IPB and situation development. The defense planning function develops and assesses various options and produces a preferred course of action.

The coordination function implements the coordination and cooperation required to develop, distribute, and execute the plan. Meanwhile, the directives and orders function promulgates the plan in a timely manner. The monitoring and controlling function observes and records activities taken in response to orders issued and performs alerting based on the situation. The routine staff function supports the overall battle command process. Predictive EO algorithms will use FO information from the situation analysis function as the basis for recommending or directing EO activities.


Key to the centralized planning conducted at each level of command is the role of the commander. The commander does not merely participate in the processes--the commander drives them! From initial intelligence preparation of the battlefield through course of action development to the actual issue of orders and directives, the personal involvement of the commander is critical.


The commander is the key to concept formulation, planning, and executing at each level of command. The commander's personal responsibility is formulating the single unifying concept. Commanders must understand the intent of the commander two levels up and understand the intent and concept of operation of the immediate senior commander. Commanders must also understand the battle from the perspective of adjacent units and subordinate commanders who must execute the decisions. The commander's estimate and assessment process helps decide how to accomplish the assigned mission.

Through personal assessment and war-gaming, commanders must determine and specify which critical and priority items of information they need to see and understand the battlefield and the flow of operations. The commander must focus the organization and battle command systems to give the information needed to conduct the estimate and refine the assessment driven by time or event. The commander must, however, still be prepared to make decisions and accept risk without complete information, recognizing that waiting for complete information may result in lost opportunities to act. Too much information can paralyze a force as quickly as too little data if the commander is hesitant to act in ambiguous situations. The commander must tell the staff what information is important to get. Whatever factors are present, the commander is personally responsible for establishment of the commander's critical information requirements and priority intelligence requirements.

Once the commander has the necessary information, he must possess the creativity and intuition to visualize the flow of events toward a future state. The commander formulates a concise expression of how elements of the command will operate together to accomplish their operational responsibilities and missions.

Commanders must be able to convey to subordinates a clear, concise statement of their intent for future operations which includes the purpose; what, how, and when they want specific tasks accomplished; and the desired end state. Their concept of the operation must include an overall scheme of operations, the necessary interfaces and coordination, the sequence from one phase to another, and the priorities and risks the commander is willing to take. Connectivity must exist between current operations and the branches and sequels of the future plan. While a portion of this future state may be directed by a higher level commander's intent, the commander must possess the ability to envision the organization's future state within its battle space.

While techniques and procedures may vary, planning and executing operations are continuous and concurrent activities. Commanders must master time-space-resource-purpose relationships and understand the ways they affect friendly and enemy capabilities to achieve battle success. They must be able to orchestrate all functions affecting their battle space--intelligence, fires, force positioning, resourcing, deception, and timing. In addition, they must have a personal awareness of the battle to influence the tempo and impact of the operation. Commanders make necessary adjustments to current operations and possible modifications of future operations through interactions with other commanders and staffs as well as their own staffs.

Decision making and problem solving are not done in isolation. However, the commander must determine which decisions may be made by designated subordinates.

Typical decisions retained by commanders are for changes in intent, mission, concept of operations, priorities (main effort, air, or missile defense), or major reallocation of means.


As air defense coordinator (ADCOORD), the ADA commander and representatives in the force CP are responsible for active air and missile defense planning. The ADCOORD is an integral member of the commander's staff planning team. The ADCOORD assists in integrating CA and TMD priorities into the force's targeting process. He recommends active, passive, and other combined arms air defense measures in the air defense estimate. After approval and staff coordination, the ADCOORD develops the air defense annex to the plan. Appendix B provides a detailed description of the air defense estimate and annex.

The ADCOORD also coordinates with AD elements at higher and lower echelons, as well as at adjacent units. Coordination ensures vertical and horizontal integration of air defense coverage throughout the battlefield. In force-projection operations, this will include integration with joint or multinational counterair and theater missile defense participants.


A command post (CP) is a location which provides the means for a commander to exercise control of his forces. To promote efficiency and staff coordination, the commander groups his staff elements by function. He is responsible for his headquarters location, composition, and organization. Command posts in ADA units are generally organized into CPs, tactical operations centers (TOCs), and fire direction centers (FDCs).


Air defense batteries and platoons usually perform force operations functions from a command post. However, any ADA command from theater Army to squad level may form a CP to perform c2 functions as directed by the commander. Battalions and brigades may form assault CPs to conduct force operations functions when larger, more robust headquarters are not available.


A TOC is a subelement of a CP for headquarters with staff elements (brigades and battalions). A TOC consists of a physical grouping of the staff elements concerned with current and future tactical operations and tactical support. Air defense TOCs handle force operations.


A fire direction center is that subelement of brigade and battalion TOCs and battery and platoon CPs where the commander exercises engagement operations. The FDC receives target intelligence and fire control orders and translates them into appropriate fire directions and fire distribution. The following systems are used at ADA FDCs:


Command posts must support the commander wherever he is. Battle command systems must provide assured access to timely, accurate, and relevant information through integrated, interoperable digitized links with all echelons, other services, other government agencies, and alliance or coalition forces. They must also provide the commander with the ability to respond to changing circumstances from any point within or outside the battle space while moving or stationary.


At each echelon, command posts are organized to perform the following functions:


Tactical information must be communicated among commanders, staffs, and weapon systems. The commander must be able to communicate his intent while moving freely about the battlefield. Electronically linked with his command post, the commander must be able to access time-sensitive operational and intelligence information to assess and influence the battle at the critical time and place. A seamless, secure communications network that provides horizontal and vertical integration of voice, data graphics, imagery, and video information is essential. This network must support integrated combat operations, and the focus must be on the warfighting commander. Implied in these requirements are streamlined communications procedures, global connectivity of extended-range assets, and integrated communications among the various joint and multinational forces, operations, intelligence, logistics, and administrative functions. These communications networks must provide entry at key points in the force to facilitate data exchange through automated routing and filtering of information.


Command and control relationships for ADA units are established by the joint force commander, joint force land component commander, and corps/division commanders according to joint doctrine. As discussed in Chapter 3, ADA forces assigned to corps and lower maneuver elements are under the operational control of the echelon commander. At echelons above corps, ADA forces are under the operational control of the JFLCC.


Special command relationships can be formed by placing the ADA unit under tactical control, attachment, operational command, or operational control of another unit. These statuses create special operational, training, administrative, and logistical relationships among the ADA unit, its parent organization, and the receiving unit. Standard ADA support relationships can also be used.

Tactical Control

Tactical control is the detailed! and usually local, direction and control of movement and maneuver necessary for mission accomplishment. The parent ADA unit commander retains training, administrative, and logistical responsibilities.


Attachment is the temporary placement of a unit within another organization. Subject to the limitations imposed by the attachment order and by the rules of engagement and air defense procedures established by the joint force commander, the commander of the organization receiving an attached ADA element will exercise the same degree of command and control over attached units as over organic units. This includes administrative and logistical support. The parent ADA unit commander retains the responsibility for the transfer and promotion of personnel.

Operational Control

Operational command and operational control (US) are synonymous terms in a pure US environment. In this relationship, the commander receiving the ADA unit is responsible for--

The parent ADA unit commander is responsible for--

Operational Command (NATO)

Operational command is a special command status in which the receiving commander is responsible for--

The parent ADA unit commander retains responsibility for--

Operational Control (NATO)

Operational control gives the receiving commander responsibility for--

The parent ADA unit commander retains responsibility for--

Support Relationships

Support relationships define specific arrangements and responsibilities between supporting and supported units (see the following illustration 5-1). There are four support relationships.

Figure 5-1. ADA Support Relationships

Direct support. In DS, the supporting unit provides dedicated support to a specific unit. A DS ADA unit provides dedicated air defense for a specific element of the force which has no organic air defense. The supporting ADA unit coordinates its movement and positioning with the supported unit. A FAAD platoon, for example, may provide DS to a mechanized task force. The platoon will provide dedicated support to the task force and the platoon leader will position the platoon in conjunction with the task force commander's concept of the operation.

General support. An ADA unit in GS provides support for the force as a whole. It is not committed to any specific element of the supported force. It does not support a specific unit within the larger unit's area of operations. An ADA unit in GS remains under the control of its higher ADA commander, and is positioned by its ADA commander. GS is commonly used to protect EAC, corps, or division level assets.

Reinforcing. A reinforcing (R) ADA unit augments the coverage of another ADA unit and strengthens the air defense of the force. A reinforcing ADA unit is positioned to protect one or more of the reinforced unit's priorities as specified by the supported ADA unit commander. For example, a corps high- to medium-altitude air defense (HIMAD) battalion could reinforce the ADA battalion assigned to the division.

General support-reinforcing. An ADA unit with a GS-R mission provides support for the force as a whole and secondarily augments the support provided by another ADA unit. ADA units with a GS-R mission have a primary responsibility to provide support to the force as a whole within a specific area, but must coordinate with the supported ADA unit to reinforce the coverage of assets in the AO.

Selecting a support relationship. To determine the most appropriate support relationship for accomplishing the ADA mission, the following questions need to be answered:


The control chain is a more complex structure than the command structure. In a US environment, the JFC normally assigns responsibility for theater-level air and missile defense operations to a single area air defense commander. The AADC manages by coordinating and integrating the entire counterair effort within the theater. The AADC may create air defense regions and appoint a commander for each. The region air defense commanders (RADCs) may be selected from any service component. The RADC is fully responsible for integrating defensive counterair operations throughout the region. The control and reporting center (CRC) supervises the surveillance and control activities of subordinate radar elements, provides means for air traffic identification, and integrates region defensive counterair operations.

In certain regions, an air operations center (AOC) is interposed between the RADC and CRC. The sector commander then exercises tactical command over all subordinate elements. In these regions, the SOC liaison team provided to the corps is termed the air defense operations liaison team and acts as a point of coordination between the integrated air defense system and the corps conducting operations in the sector.

When Army air defense means are assigned, attached, or organic to Army maneuver elements, they remain subject to area or region rules of engagement to ensure a coordinated and integrated air defense effort. The maneuver corps and division commanders will have command as previously described, of these assigned, attached, or organic Army air defense units. Priorities for these air defense resources will be developed by the maneuver commander.


While automation and digitization are becoming bigger factors in battle command, the combat functions still require personal involvement. Since the commander cannot be at all places at all times, the staff and liaison teams support command intent and information needs.


Staff coordination is a function of staff organization, command post configuration, doctrine, and local SOPs. The ADCOORD must have a representative in the staff cells to plan and execute deep, close, and rear operations.

This representation provides horizontal and vertical coordination to the various elements of the joint force. These staff elements include intelligence, fire support, EW, Air Force staff, Army aviation, Navy and or USMC air control systems, maneuver, and the Army airspace command and control (A2C2) cell at all echelons of command. Staff coordination is possible due to the battle command structure that integrates the combat functions. The combat functions provide an interface among all staff elements at each level of command. The result is a vertical and horizontal integration of staff activity which serves to unify the effort of the force at all echelons.


Liaison is essential in multinational, joint, interagency, and combined arms operations. Robust liaison facilitates understanding, coordination, and mission accomplishment. Liaison personnel must be familiar with the staff and operational organizations, doctrine, and procedures of the force with which they will work as well as being subject matter experts on the air defense combat function.

The senior ADA organization in the theater is responsible to provide liaison to the land component commander, the battlefield coordination element, and the area air defense commander. It may also find it necessary to send liaison teams to the air operations headquarters of other services or multinational forces. In addition, liaison teams may also be required at other combat function locations, for logistics or intelligence, for example.

Corps ADA brigade commanders provide liaison to the CRC, and all CPs of the corps and to selected major subordinate commands. In some cases, it may even be necessary to send liaison teams to divisions to supplement the divisional ADCOORD.

ADA battalion commanders provide liaison to the supported forces or to the headquarters of the force in whose area they are operating. Dedicated liaison teams are provided to each committed and defended maneuver brigade task force or equivalent level force. ADA commanders as ADCOORD may supplement or replace liaison teams. At battalion task force level and below, liaison teams are not provided on a dedicated basis. ADA leaders perform duties as ADCOORD, ADA commander, and AD staff officer.


Effective battle command enables air defense forces to successfully perform their combat missions and support overall force objectives. The following fundamental principles form the basis for air defense engagement operations:

Although these principles apply to both offensive and defensive activities, they particularly relate the management of air defense systems in active air and missile defense operations to the conduct of the overall battle.


Centralized control with decentralized execution permits the full exploitation of the combat effectiveness of air defense operations at each level of command. Centralized control ensures unity of effort. Decentralized execution gives subordinate commanders the flexibility that is essential to achieve the tenet of agility.

Centralized control is essential to ensure integration and coordination of all air defense assets from the ADA brigade down to the ADA fire unit to maximize their collective effect on the battlefield. Centralized control also facilitates the synchronization of offensive and defensive operations within the Army and among all the participants in joint or multinational operations. In the case of Army ADA, centralized control is executed through compliance with theater ROE and air defense weapon control procedures. Data integration and operational coordination complete the synchronization. Decentralized execution is necessary because the number of activities associated with air defense operations prevents any one commander from effectively controlling all air defense forces and actions. Decentralized execution also enables air defense assets to maximize their individual capabilities and meet the extreme engagement time lines of air and missile threats. Thorough planning and coordination link centralized control and decentralized execution.


The related functions of airspace control and air defense engagement operations are coordinated through the principle of air battle management which maximizes both offensive and defensive effectiveness.

Air battle management is essential in an air environment that has large quantities of both threat and friendly air users. Current weapon systems, although highly sophisticated, do not possess infallible identification technology. Therefore, the goal of air battle management is to control the engagement of air targets, ensuring the destruction of enemy aircraft and missiles while preventing fratricide and unnecessary multiple engagements.

Extensive coordination is necessary to prevent interference among all airspace users. As a participant in air battle management, the ADCOORD at each level of command ensures close coordination among all airspace users. Management of the air battle employs a mix of positive and procedural control measures.

Integrated Combat Airspace Command and Control

Airspace control provides increased operational effectiveness by promoting the safe, efficient, and flexible use of airspace. Airspace control permits greater flexibility of operations. Airspace control consists of the coordination, integration, and regulation of the use of airspace with defined dimensions. Within a joint force AO, the JFC assigns overall responsibility and authority for airspace control to one component commander. The mission of the airspace control authority is to coordinate and integrate the use of airspace within the joint AO. Because of the close relationship between airspace control and air defense, the airspace control authority (ACA) is normally the AADC. Subject to the authority of the joint force commander, the ACA establishes the broad policies and procedures for airspace control operations and coordination among units operating in the airspace control area.

Airspace control measures afford the ACA the means to procedurally or positively control all airspace users. Airspace control measures are rules to reserve airspace for specific users, restrict actions of airspace users, control actions of specific airspace users, or require airspace users to accomplish specific actions. The ACA implements the airspace control measures through the theater airspace control plan and specific directives. The ADCOORD and A2C2 element at each echelon provide Army requirements to the battlefield coordination element (BCE) at the USAF air operations center or the equivalent coordination element at the Navy or Marine Corps tactical control facility for incorporation into the airspace control plan.

An important function of airspace control in air defense operations is identification. Positive hostile and friendly identification ensures timely engagement of targets and reduces the potential for fratricide. The tactical situation, electronic interference, or equipment malfunction may preclude positive friendly identification, but airspace control measures provide a procedural backup. From an ADA perspective, many airspace control measures provide a means of probable friendly identification and default hostile identification. These measures allow friendly forces optimum use of airspace while minimizing the risk of engagement by friendly air defense. Examples are minimum risk routes and standard-use Army aircraft flight routes and air corridors.

Other airspace control procedures afford commanders the means to control airspace use, protect ground operations or facilities, and control other users of the airspace. High-density airspace control zones and restricted operations zones are examples of airspace procedural control measures. Joint Pub 3-52, FM 100-103, and FM 100-103-1 provide further details.

Positive Control

Positive control relies upon real-time data from sensors, IFF, computers, digital data links, and communications equipment to provide airspace and air defense control. Positive control is desirable but not always possible due to battlefield conditions and inherent system vulnerabilities. Facilities for positive control are subject to direct attack, sabotage, or jamming. Line-of-sight requirements and limited communications can also restrict the availability of data from facilities that are operational.

Procedural Control

Procedural control overcomes positive control and identification shortcomings. Procedural control relies upon techniques such as segmenting airspace by volume and time and using weapon control statuses. Procedural techniques are usually more restrictive than positive techniques but are less vulnerable to degradation from electronic or physical attack. Procedural control enhances the continuity of operations under the adverse conditions expected on the battlefield. For example, it provides an immediate backup system should degradation of positive control occur. Additionally, procedural techniques provide a management means for air defense systems that do not have real-time data transmission capabilities.

Mix of Positive and Procedural Control

The optimum method of controlling air defense operations is a mix of positive and procedural techniques. Commanders charged with air battle management consider the factors of METT-T in their analysis. They specifically focus on mission, AO, and the threat expected.

For positive management, commanders also consider the numbers and types of electronic means available. This will vary according to the depth of the battlefield. As operations move farther forward, available means for positive control decrease, necessitating additional procedural management.

Air traffic behind the division generally moves in ways that are wellsuited for positive control. Air defense is usually in a critical or static asset defense role in this area. In this area of the battlefield, positive control is easier to effect and is the preferred method. Procedural control provides backup.

Forward of the corps, aircraft generally move based primarily on mission requirements. These aircraft are used to provide a rapid and flexible response to the needs of both air and ground commanders. The high volume of aircraft and friendly missiles, combined with flexible and varying missions, make positive control extremely difficult and necessitate more reliance on procedural control.

The nature of the theater may also dictate what type of control is used. Mature theaters have elaborate and tested electronic management facilities in place. Contingency theaters may have no such systems in place and will rely more heavily on procedural control. As the lodgment area expands and additional assets arrive in the theater, a transition to positive control may take place.


Engagement operations procedures facilitate the integration of air defense into both the force commander's concept of the operation and the battle for air superiority. The AADC establishes and promulgates JFC approved ROE for air and missile defense. Additionally, the AADC, in conjunction with the ACA and the component commanders, may establish air space coordination areas such as fighter and missile engagement zones. The principal users of the procedures are ADA units, but all participants in air defense operations must adhere to these procedures.


Warning procedures and alert statuses alert, prepare, or cause units to build up for combat. Most warning procedures and alert statuses have specific application for air defense forces.

Defense Readiness Conditions

Defense readiness conditions (DEFCONs) describe progressive alert postures primarily for use between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of unified commands. DEFCONs are graduated to match situations of varying military severity, and are numbered 5,4,3,2, and 1 as appropriate. DEFCONs are most applicable to national missile defense.

Weapons Alert Designators

Weapons alert designators (WADs) describe a progressive system of alert postures. They are used by the AD commander to specify minimum percentages of ADA fire units within parent organizations which are required to be at given states of readiness. ADA commanders use WADs to meet the threat, provide maintenance, and allow crew rest among other tactical concerns.

States of Readiness and States of Emissions Control

States of readiness (SORs) describe the degree of readiness of ADA fire units and sensors expressed in minutes from time of alert notification to time of weapon firing or sensor in operation. States of readiness can also be modified to include emission control and system configuration considerations and are then called states of emission (SOEs) control. SORs and SOEs are based on the WAD and air defense warning. They are normally designated by ADA battalion commanders for their subordinate batteries, platoons, and fire units. Additionally, SORs and SOEs can be used to specify personnel manning requirements. ADA commanders use WAD and SORs and SOEs to ready the force in a logical way for action against the enemy while retaining the ability to stand down units for rest or maintenance.

Air Defense Warnings

Air defense warnings (ADWs) represent the commander's evaluation of the probability of air attack within the AO. ADWs are routinely issued by area or region AD commanders. They can also be issued by any commander. In no case can a commander lower ADW issued by the AD area or region commander. The issuance of an ADW is not tied to any other warning procedure or alert status. Therefore, a commander may issue an ADW irrespective of DEFCON or WAD. ADA commanders do not change the readiness posture of their units by changing the ADW, but instead raise or lower the WAD or SOR and SOE. The three ADWs are--

Air Defense Emergency

Air defense emergency is an emergency condition, declared by the Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command. It indicates that attack upon the continental United States, Canada, or US installations in Greenland by hostile aircraft or missiles is considered probable, is imminent, or is taking place.


Rules of engagement (ROEs) are the positive and procedural management directives which specify the circumstances and limitations under which forces will initiate or continue combat engagement with encountered forces. The JFC approves the theater ROE. These established ROE enable the AADC to retain control of the air battle by prescribing the exact conditions under which engagements may take place. ROE apply to all warfare participants in the theater and are disseminated to all echelons of air, land, and sea forces. The first three ROE are applicable to all air defense contributors. The others are primarily for ADA forces.

Right of Self-Defense

Commanders at all echelons have the responsibility to take whatever action is necessary to protect their forces and equipment against air or missile attack. When under attack, the right of self-defense takes precedence over any other established rules and procedures which normally govern engagements.

Hostile Criteria

Hostile criteria are basic rules that assist in the identification of friendly or hostile air platforms. These rules are promulgated by the commanders of unified commands and by other appropriate commanders when so authorized. The commander who establishes hostile criteria parameters may consider the factors of speed, altitude, and heading or other requirements within specified volumes of airspace. The commander may also consider specific enemy characteristics or hostile acts. Echelons having identification authority use hostile criteria to determine the identification of detected air targets. The highest echelon capable of managing engagement operations normally retains identification authority. Upon target detection, fire units with real-time data transmission capability assist the controlling authority by forwarding target information. The controlling authority makes final target identification and delegates engagement authority. Delegation of the controlling and identification authority to lower echelons is normal for ADA and non-ADA units that do not have real-time transmission capability for identification data. Such units have both identification and engagement authority.

Weapon Control Status

Weapon control statuses--WEAPONS FREE, WEAPONS TIGHT, or WEAPONS HOLD--describe the relative degree of control of air defense fires. Weapon control statuses apply to weapon systems, volumes of airspace, or types of air platforms. The degree or extent of control varies depending on the tactical situation. Establishment of separate weapon control statuses for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, UAVs, and for missiles is normal. Air defense forces must have the ability to receive and disseminate weapon control statuses for all classes of air platforms. The AADC imposes the fixed-wing weapon control status. The AADC normally delegates the authority for establishing rotary-wing weapon control status to the appropriate maneuver force commander. The AADC may also delegate the weapon control status for UAVs to the maneuver force commander. The maneuver force commander may further delegate the authority to subordinate maneuver commanders, based on the tactical situation or operation. Maneuver commanders who do not have authority to establish weapon control statuses still may direct more restrictive weapon control statuses in their AO.

WEAPONS FREE. Weapons can fire at any air target not positively identified as friendly. This is the least restrictive weapon control status.

WEAPONS TIGHT. Fire only at air targets positively identified as hostile according to the prevailing hostile criteria. Positive identification can be effected by a number of means to include visual identification (aided or unaided) and meeting other designated hostile criteria supported by track correlation.

WEAPONS HOLD. Do not fire except in self-defense or in response to a formal order. This is the most restrictive weapon control status.

Level of Control

Level of control describes the AD echelon at which positive management of the air battle is being conducted. This can be an AOC, CRC, ADA brigade, battalion FDC, or the individual fire unit.

Modes of Control

The two modes of control are centralized and decentralized. The mode of control selected will depend upon the capabilities of the C4I system, the weapon systems being employed, and both the friendly and enemy air situation.

Centralized control. This control mode is where a higher echelon authorizes target engagements to fire units. Permission to engage each track must be requested by the fire unit from that higher AD echelon. Centralized control is used to minimize the likelihood of engaging friendly aircraft while permitting engagements of hostile aircraft and missiles only when specific orders are issued to initiate the engagement.

Decentralized control. This is the normal wartime mode of control for air defense, whereby a higher echelon monitors unit actions, making direct target assignments to units only when necessary to ensure proper fire distribution, to prevent engagement of friendly air platforms, and to prevent simultaneous engagements of hostile air targets. Decentralized control is used to increase the likelihood that a hostile aircraft or missile will be engaged as soon as it comes within range of an ADA weapon system.

Control of engagement operations during the air battle can be centralized at a higher headquarters' FDC, or decentralized to a subordinate FDC. For instance, in a situation where battle management has been decentralized to the ADA brigade FDC, the ADA brigade commander exercises centralized control of subordinate units. At the same time, however, higher control echelons are continuously monitoring the actions of the brigade. These higher echelons are exercising decentralized control while the brigade commander exercises centralized control. Thus, centralized control and decentralized control are conducted simultaneously.

Autonomous Operations

Autonomous control is the mode of operation assumed by a unit after it has lost all communications with higher echelons. The unit commander assumes full responsibility for control of weapons and engagement of hostile targets.

Fire Control Orders

Fire control orders are commands which are used to control engagements on a case-by-case basis, regardless of the prevailing weapon control status. These commands are most often used by higher control echelons when monitoring the decentralized operations of subordinate units. Fire control orders can be transmitted electronically or verbally; however, not all of the fire control orders shown below can or will be used by every type of ADA unit. Examples of fire control orders are explained in the following paragraphs.

Engage. This command is used to order a unit to engage (fire on) a specific target. This order cancels any previous fire control order which may have been given on that target.

Cease Engagement. This command is used to stop tactical action against a specified target and is always followed by an Engage command. This order may be used to change an ongoing engagement of one target to another of higher priority. Missiles in flight are allowed to continue to intercept. In NATO, this order may also be used to preclude simultaneous engagement of a target by more than one weapon system (does not apply to Patriot, see Cease Fire).

Hold Fire. This is an emergency fire control order used to stop firing and all tactical action to include the destruction of any missiles in flight. This order may be used to protect friendly aircraft.

Cease Fire. This command is given to ADA units to refrain from firing on, but to continue to track, an airborne object. Missiles in flight are allowed to continue to intercept. This command is used to prevent simultaneous target engagement by manned fighters and ADA units.

Cover. This command is used to order a fire unit to assume a posture that will allow engagement of a target if directed. For radar-directed systems, this means achieving a radar lock on a specified target. This order can be used for targets that are presently being engaged by another fire unit or for targets that have yet to become a significant threat. Units that receive this command report tracking, lock on, and ready to fire to higher echelons (does not apply to Patriot).

Engage Hold (Patriot only). This command is used to temporarily restrain a fire unit from automatically engaging a target. If the fire unit has not fired, target tracking continues. Missiles in flight are allowed to continue to intercept.

Stop Fire. This is an emergency fire control order to temporarily halt the engagement sequence due to internally unsafe fire unit conditions. It is seldom transmitted outside the fire unit. This command can by given by anyone in the fire unit who detects an unsafe condition. The engagement continues after the unsafe condition has been corrected.


Supplemental fire control measures are procedural management measures issued by competent military authority which delineate or modify hostile criteria, delegate identification authority, or which serve strictly as aids in fire distribution or airspace control. Army commanders request the establishment of supplemental fire control measures through the A2C2 system. The approval authority is normally the ACA, who promulgates the measures in the airspace control order (ACO). The supplemental fire control measures are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Air Defense Operations Area

Air defense operations area (ADOA) is an area and the airspace above it within which procedures are established to minimize mutual interference between air defense and other operations. It can include designation of one or more of the following areas or zones.

Air defense action area. This is an area and the airspace above it within which friendly aircraft or ADA weapons are normally given precedence in operations except under specified conditions. This type of ADOA is primarily used to minimize mutual interference between friendly aircraft and ADA weapon systems. ADOA which have been prioritized for ADA weapons are similar to restricted operations areas for aircraft (see below), except that ADOA are normally in effect for longer periods of time.

Air defense area. This is a specifically defined airspace for which air defense must be planned and provided. This type of ADOA is primarily used for airspace control, but may also be used to define any area within which ADA units are operating.

Air defense identification zone. The air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is the airspace of defined dimensions within which the ready identification, location, and control of airborne vehicles are required. This type of area is normally used only for airspace control. Areas within an ADIZ will normally be characterized by extremely stringent hostile criteria and weapon control statuses.

Weapon Engagement Zone

Weapon engagement zone (WEZ) identifies a volume of defined airspace within which a specific type of AD weapon is preferred for use in an engagement. Use of WEZ does not preclude engagement of high-priority targets by more than one type of weapon system if centralized control of each weapon system involved is available. The activation of a WEZ can be used to delegate identification and engagement authority. The WEZ can be used for specific threats. For example, a manned aircraft WEZ can be established for fighters and ADA would still be able to engage missiles and UAVs.

ADA engagements within an activated WEZ can be conducted by the echelon controlling engagements without further permission or from the establishing authority of the WEZ if the targets meet specified hostile criteria. This holds true regardless of the level of control, weapon control status, or hostile criteria in effect outside the activated WEZ. Thus, an activated WEZ supplements ADA hostile criteria and is used by FDCs and fire units to make target assignments and engagement decisions. Commonly used WEZs are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Fighter engagement zone. A fighter engagement zone (FEZ) is established in an area where no effective surface-to-air capability is employed.

Missile engagement zone. A missile engagement zone (MEZ) is a volume of airspace which establishes control over engagements by HIMAD. A MEZ defines the volume of airspace within which these weapons can conduct engagements without specific direction from the authority establishing the WEZ.

Forward area air defense engagement zone. A forward area air defense engagement zone (FAADEZ) is an area of FAAD deployment that may fall within a MEZ. It is also possible that some areas may be solely defended by FAAD assets. A FAADEZ can be established to define the airspace within which these assets will operate. Because centralized control over short-range air defense weapons may not be possible, these areas must be clearly defined and promulgated so that friendly aircraft can avoid them. (JCS publications still use the terms SHORAD and SHORADEZ.)

Joint engagement zone. A joint engagement zone (JEZ) is a concept under study. In a JEZ, AD forces from two or more components (one airborne and one surface-based) operate together in the same volume of airspace.

High-Density Airspace Control Zone

A high-density airspace control zone (HIDACZ) is airspace of defined dimensions in which there is a concentrated employment of numerous and varied airspace users. These can include aircraft; artillery, mortar, and naval gunfire; local AD weapons; UAVs; and surface-to-surface missiles. HIDACZs are established by the ACA upon request of ground commanders. AHIDACZ is established when the level and intensity of airspace operations dictate the need for special airspace control measures. The number of such zones will vary depending on the combat situation and the complexities of airspace control in conjunction with fire support coordination. The establishment of a HIDACZ normally will increase temporary airspace restrictions (see below) within the volume of defined airspace. Additionally, establishment of a HIDACZ within a maneuver area will normally give that maneuver unit commander complete weapon control status authority within the activated HIDACZ.

Weapons Free Zones

An air defense zone is established for the protection of key assets. Units are at WEAPONS FREE.

Temporary Airspace Restrictions

Temporary airspace restrictions can be imposed on segments of airspace of defined dimensions in response to specific situations and requirements. These can include combat air patrol operations, air refueling areas, and concentrated interdiction areas. The promulgation of such restrictions will include--

Four common temporary airspace restrictions are restricted operations areas, minimum risk routes, standard-use Army aircraft flight routes and air corridors, and sectors of fire and primary target lines.

Restricted operations area. A restricted operations area identifies airspace of defined dimensions within which the operation of one or more airspace users is restricted, generally for a short time. These areas are established by the airspace control authority in response to the requests of ground force commanders. Consequently, the maneuver unit commander will normally have complete weapon control status authority within an activated restricted operations area.

Restricted operations areas for air and missiles can be established to maximize ADA effectiveness. In such eases, the normal ADA weapon control status will be WEAPONS FREE.

Restricted operations areas for ADA can be established to maximize air effectiveness. In such eases, the normal ADA weapons control status will be WEAPONS HOLD.

Minimum risk route. Minimum risk route (MRR) is a temporary corridor of defined dimensions passing in either direction through ADA defenses, a HIDACZ, or through a restricted operations area. It is designated to reduce risk to high-speed aircraft transiting the tactical operations area at low altitudes. The weapon control status for MRR will normally be maintained at WEAPONS TIGHT. Such circumstances will exist where there is inadequate timely control capability to permit a more flexible method of air defense. In such eases where friendly air does not use MRR, it is recognized that established AD procedures will apply. Low-level transit routes are the NATO equivalent of MRR.

The weapon control status for ADA fire units whose engagement ranges intercept an activated MRR remains at WEAPONS TIGHT for that part of the route. Should it become necessary to change to WEAPONS FREE, that particular route will be closed by the commander who established it.

Standard-use Army aircraft flight route and air corridor. Standard-use Army aircraft flight routes identify temporary corridors of defined dimensions established below the coordinating altitude to allow the Army commander to safely route movement of aviation assets performing combat support and combat service support missions. They normally are located in the corps through brigade rear areas but may be extended to support logistics missions.

Air corridors are restricted routes of travel specified for use by friendly Army aircraft and established to prevent friendly forces from firing on friendly aircraft.

The weapon control status for ADA fire units whose engagement ranges intercept an activated standard-use Army aircraft route or air corridor remains at WEAPONS TIGHT for that part of the route or corridor. Should it become necessary to change to WEAPONS FREE, that particular route will be closed by the commander who established it.

Procedures for deconflicting friendly surface-to-surface missile firings and UAV operations can be found in FMs 34-25-2 and 100-103-1.

Sectors of fire and primary target lines. Sectors of fire and primary target lines (PTLs) are established to assist in the distribution of ADA fires. Sectors of fire for HIMAD are normally designated at battalion after review of fire unit radar coverage diagrams. Sectors of fire or PTL for FAAD are normally designated by the battery commander or platoon leader. These limits must be clearly defined by right and left azimuths. Those ADA units with automated tactical data systems must know whether they are to assign and engage air targets within or beyond the stated sector boundaries.

Cruise missiles and UAVs. In general, cruise missiles and UAVs should come under the ROE established for manned aircraft. Due to the similarity of cruise missiles and UAVs to manned aircraft, appropriate ROE must be established to deal with that potential threat. A balance must be drawn between the possibility of fratricide and the threat of an armed UAV or cruise missile penetrating the defense.