ADA S2 Survives Warfighter: The Untold Story
by Captain Howard V. MacCready
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
The purpose of this article is to briefly relay the experiences and lessons learned following my graduation from the MI Officer Advanced Course (OAC). They culminated with a successful exploitation of the Forward Area Air Defense Command, Control, and Communications Intelligence System in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Warfighter 96.
During the OAC, I found out that my follow-on assignment was S2, 2d Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalion, 44th Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Naturally, I asked all the prior ADA branch-detailed officers how I could prepare for my new assignment above and beyond what we were learning in OAC. The majority of my classmates responded,"Oh man, you'll have it easy. ADA S2s are just security managers. I don't think our S2 really was involved in mission analysis or even wrote an intelligence estimate. Work on your golf game because you're going to have a lot of time on your hands."Boy, were they wrong!
Within my first month as the S2, we changed battalion commanders. I met Lieutenant Colonel Dale C. Eikmeier, our new battalion commander, as he graduated from Air Assault School. I do not think either of us will ever forget the first words that he said to me: "Great to have you aboard; looks like we are going to have to teach you your job."At the time I did not know that
LTC Eikmeier began my education as an S2 with a list of resources that I wish to pass on to future ADA S2s. I began to read a publication that was originally developed by Fort Huachuca but somehow ended up in the hands of the Air Defense School. The publication title is Air Defense Artillery Military Intelligence Officer Handbook. If you try to get it from Fort Huachuca, you must ask for SHO TIXADA, June 1992, or from Fort Bliss, ST 44-34-80. This publication, although slightly dated, will give all MI officers an understanding of exactly what the third dimension of the battlefield means to the ADA commander. My next reading assignment was Chapter Two of LTC Eikmeier's NTC Notes. Chapter Two discusses the doctrinal terms of IPB, explaining them with an ADA twist for focusing intelligence. I soon found out that the FM 100-5, Operations, definitions for area of interest (AI), area of operations, battlespace, named area of interest (NAI), and decision support template (DST) had to be further refined to meet my target audience's expectations.
- LTC Eikmeier had just completed a three-year rotation at the National Training Center (NTC) as the senior air defense observer/controller.
- He had written a book about his experiences there which included an entire chapter concerning intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and the role of the S2.
- He knew better than I that my OAC education had not prepared me for the expectations that he would place on me in the coming months.
- Good Resources
Definitions With an ADA Twist
For an ADA S2, the AI is defined by which aircraft may be employed within the specific combat region. The AI is further refined by the locations of all aircraft that could be involved, including any possible third-party nations, even if they are halfway around the world. In a broad sense, your AI is determined by the air support your foe may receive from his allies and the location of his organic airframes.
To define battlespace, you must first leave behind the OAC test answer
"the area defined by the maximum distance that your weapons systems and collection assets can reach including those used in the electromagnetic spectrum. Battlespace is thinking space."
For ADA commanders, it is the time they have to make decisions based on the threat picked up by the Air Force's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) as far away as 400 kilometers (km).
To get a real feeling for battlespace in the realm of ADA, draw a circle 330 km from the center around a single point on a l:250,000 map. This circle reflects the 20-minute early-warning line for fixed-wing aircraft flying at a combat ingress speed of 540 knots (roughly 1080 km per hour (kph)). Now draw a circle l08 km from the same point. You now have the 6-minute early-warning line for the same fixed-wing attack platform, your 20-minute early-warning line for the same fixed-wing attack aircraft, and your 20-minute early-warning line for rotary-wing aircraft in the attack mode flying at roughly 120 knots (240 kph). Finally, draw a circle 40 km from that same point; this gives you the rotary-wing six-minute early-warning line. These early-warning lines allow the commander to make changes in his states of alert and give localized early warning for air attack. By doing the above exercise, you have also laid the ground work for your NAIs and DST. Before we discuss NAIs and the DST any further, I feel we must cover the nebulous topic of air avenues of approach (AAA).
To determine your AAAs, you must know four key things:
After you know the answers to the above questions, you can apply this knowledge to the terrain specific to your conflict. AAAs typically follow major terrain features, both natural and manmade. In a desert environment, AAAs follow roads, pipelines, power lines, major wadis, river basins, and so forth. In jungle terrain, AAAs would follow such things as mountain ridge lines, valleys, major road networks, rivers, and coastlines.
Your AAAs are simply your best guess at what terrain feature the enemy pilot is using to navigate his aircraft from his location to your location. AAA development is an art that requires extensive knowledge of the terrain at hand with respect to the threat air force's ability to navigate both by day and night. For the most part, you can get a jump on your enemy air assessment and AAAs by reading Annex G (Air Defense) to a division or higher level unit's operations plan and operations order. I find that most divisions and corps put all air intelligence-related information in Annex G rather than Annex B (Intelligence). This is a mistake; intelligence and terrain analysis belongs in Annex B. You can find more detailed information about enemy airframes and capabilities in Jane's All the World's Aircraft, Jane's All the World's UAVs, Multi-Command Manual 3-1,Volume II,2(a classified Air Force study on aircraft and air defense missile systems), and open source Internet sites, country studies, and lastly, your local public library.
Now that you have your AAAs, you can draw your early-warning circles directly on that overlay. I learned that the early-warning circles also serve as NAIs. I could deny or confirm an enemy course of action based on whether aircraft passed these lines. I depended on the AWACS to monitor my NAIs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The AWACS downlink to the 2-44 ADA Battalion comes through a system known as the Forward Area Air Defense Command, Control and Communications Intelligence (FAAD3I) system. To best describe the system without going into the "technogeek" level, it gives you a picture of all airborne moving target indicators for 400 km from the AWACS. The downlink will tell you if the aircraft being displayed are
- What is the level of training and proficiency of the threat pilot force?
- What is the predominant command and control (C2) system used by their air force for air mission execution?
- What are the capabilities of the threat airframes?
- From where do you expect the air threat to be staging?
The FAADC3I system gives you real-time intelligence. The system, coupled with an analysis of the terrain, will allow you to target exactly the enemy's operating base and help determine what he is doing on the battlefield. The FAADC3I system will help you correlate enemy air movement with potential ground force movement. A well known but rarely remembered fact is that aircraft operate in support of ground maneuver forces. Thus the threat's ground maneuver plan is generally made clear by the location and activity of his rotary- and fixed-wing forces.
Now back to our discussion of NAIs. I draw early-warning and NAI circles around what I perceive to be the enemy commander's high-priority targets. For the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the threat will usually target our fire support elements first. These elements include
- Hostile, friendly, or unknown.
- Single, a few (2 to 3 ships), or many (4 or more).
- Current location, heading and speed (in meters per second).
Geographically, these assets are found in the tactical assembly area (TAA), forward operating bases (FOBs), and other key locations on the battlefield such as flight landing strips (FLS) and forward air refueling points (FARPs).
For each of these locations on the battlefield, I construct three NAIs. Any enemy aircraft activity passing through these NAIs will help deny or confirm enemy intention to attack these critical areas of the battlefield. I then template where I believe the enemy aircraft operating base is and what possible FARPs, FLSs, FOBs, drop zones, and helicopter landing zones he would use in a conflict against us. I found that by plotting the enemy ADA coverage with special emphasis placed on the bigger air defense systems (including the SA-11 and SA-12 missiles), I could narrow my search with considerable accuracy. Enemy forces protect their assets with air defense in much the same way we do. Large, long-range systems protect aviation and the means to support it. Shoulder-fired and bullet systems are placed forward in a reactionary role protecting soldiers and their equipment. By templating based on the enemy air defense laydown, you can now establish more traditional point NAIs for FARPs, FOBs, TAAs, FLSs, and so forth.
The circular early-warning lines also serve as your time phase lines. Generically, the most likely air attack times occur during before morning nautical twilight (BMNT) and early evening nautical twilight (EENT). Without going into great detail, the BMNT and EENT times coincide with the most favorable air density, visibility, and winds. The Air Defense Artillery Military Intelligence Officer Handbook explains the effects of weather on aircraft better than I ever could. Based on these most probable flight times, where the enemy aircraft are staging, the distance from the enemy airfield to the target, the aircraft combat ingress speed, and the early-warning circles, you can estimate at what time and where enemy aircraft will be employed on the battlefield. To get to the graduate level of this analysis, you must have an in-depth knowledge of how your enemy employs his aircraft, namely his doctrine. (Hint: If your enemy is specifically the forces from the Fort Leavenworth Battle Command Training Program, you can find all that you need to know in the FM 100-60-series opposing force (OPFOR) manuals. These include the
- Our helicopters and means to support them.
- Organic and attached artillery.
- Air defense systems.
- C2 nodes.
It took me eight months to fully understand what my commander wanted and needed from me as the S2. We in MI preach that the "commander drives intelligence." I feel that in addition to being the conductor of the train, the commander must also be teacher and mentor. If he is not, the train he drives will surely derail because the S2 will not know where to lay the track.
- Armor- and Mechanized-Based OPFOR: Operational Art (Combined Arms Command and Fort Leavenworth Pamphlet 350-14/FM 100-61).
- Armor- and Mechanized-Based OPFOR: Tactics (Combined Arms Command and Fort Leavenworth Pamphlet 350-16/FM 100-62).
- Infantry-Based OPFOR: Operations and Tactics (Combined Arms Command and Fort Leavenworth Pamphlets 350-15 and -17/FM 100-64).
With respect to our recent Warfighter exercise, our battalion targeted the enemy for close air support and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). On five separate occasions we denied him the opportunity to lift his air assets to interdict our operations. We did this by using the FAADC3I system, coupled with the products of traditional IPB, threat doctrine, detailed terrain analysis, and a lot of luck. As an ADA S2, you are the division's subject matter expert on enemy air. Currently in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), we are undergoing a reformation of our IPB thought process. Enemy air is now every S2's concern. For too long, maneuver S2s have turned to their ADA liaison officers in the tactical operations center (TOC) and asked, "What is the enemy air going to do?" No maneuver commander would allow you to turn to an armor officer and ask him what the enemy tanks can do, or at what point in the battle they will be employed.
The MI Corps must take the responsibility for training future S2s in the entire IPB process, not only that segment dealing with ground activity. Air defense is not blameless in the current separation of ground- and air-related IPB. The air defenders have become accustomed to being the air threat experts. It is a hard pill to swallow, but we as MI professionals owe it to the force as a whole to become the experts for both air and ground IPB.
The l0lst Airborne Division (Air Assault) has made great strides in the past year. FAADC├├3──I is not just an ADA early-warning tool. We have remoted the air picture from the air defense shelter into every brigade TOC, G2 and G3 operations, and the Analysis and Control Element. The Division as a whole is becoming better with every exercise at integrating the air and ground IPB into a seamless process.
I can now say, without a doubt, that LTC Eikmeier taught me how to be an S2. I hope the lessons I learned will help other MI officers searching for the answer to the question, "So what does the ADA S2 do?"
1. LTC Eikmeier's book, called NTC Notes, has not yet been published. Interested readers can inquire through their ADA battalion (a copy was furnished to each). If you cannot locate a copy, contact Captain John Spencer via E-mail at [email protected] for help in obtaining a copy. (You can call him at (502) 798-5302 or DSN 635-5302 if you do not have E-mail.)
2.Multi-Command Manual 3-1, Volume II, Threat Reference Guide and Countertactics. Contact Senior Airman Willbanks at DSN 682-7852 for details on distribution.
Captain MacCready is currently Commander, HHC, 3d Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He has a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Illinois. Readers can contact the author at (502) 798-6074, DSN 635-6074, and via E-mail at mac [email protected] army.mil.