Army Attack Pathfinders: where to airland/airdrop Air-Mech-Strike Forces and terminally guide Army attack aircraft


Army Commandos fast rope into a city center without tracked armored vehicles to extract the force for link-up. Without shock action and firepower, Army UH-60 type helicopters are forced to circle overhead to provide continous air presence and fire support for the ground troops below. Two helicopters are hit by enemy air-burst RPGs and go down, resulting in a bitter fight over the two crash sites until allied country armored vehicles can be brought in to break the siege. Hand-held laser pointers are used by ground troops to direct impromptu helicopter air strikes to keep the enemy at bay through the night.


After a helicopter recon team is inserted, the enemy opens fire causing a Navy SEAL to fall off the rear ramp. A rescue force lands and finds itself pinned down by enemy mortar fires and has to wait and wait and wait some more for USAF CAS aircraft to arrive. Several men die from exposure and bleed to death until an extraction helicopter can land safely. The After Action Review (AAR) from the 4/31st Infantry states:

"2 ETAC's per company (1 was RTO) worked great but if they went down no one else knew how to contact CAS"

In the September 30, 2002, Army Times, "Officers: Air Force Policy Left Ground Troops High And Dry: General, senior officer say units need more personnel to call in munitions" Sean D. Naylor reports:

"The Army general who ran Operation Anaconda and one of his senior fire-support officers are taking issue with Air Force practices they say allowed enemy targets to escape destruction and deprived Soldiers under fire of badly needed close air support.

In particular, they say, the Air Force's reliance on precision-guided bombs created several problems for troops on the ground in Anaconda, the March battle in Afghanistan's Shah-e-Kot Valley. The comments come at a time when Army leaders are fighting a rear-guard action in Washington against what they see as the Defense Department's trend toward over-reliance on precision-guided munitions in shaping the future U.S. military.

Their arguments are laid out in two articles in the September-October issue of Field Artillery magazine, the official journal of the Field Artillery Center and School at Fort Sill, Okla. The first article is an interview with Maj. Gen. Franklin 'Buster' Hagenbeck, the 10th Mountain Division commander who was in charge during Anaconda. The second article, 'Afghanistan: Joint and Coalition Fire Support in Operation Anaconda,' was written by Lt. Col. Christopher Bentley, Hagenbeck's fire support coordinator during the operation.

It sometimes took 'hours' for the Air Force to deliver close air support to Soldiers on the ground, Hagenbeck told Field Artillery. Once a request for close air support had been passed to a jet by an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, it took the Air Force 26 minutes to calculate the desired mean point of impact, which is required to ensure the bomb hits the target, Hagenbeck said.

After that, the aircraft had to get into a busy airspace management scheme before it could attack the target and deliver the bomb. 'Aircraft were stacked up to the ceiling' and could only be flown in a few at a time, he told Field Artillery. 'It took anywhere from 26 minutes to hours [on occasion] for the precision munitions to hit the targets.'

'That's okay if you're not being shot at or the targets aren't fleeting,' Hagenbeck told Field Artillery. But often U.S. troops were under fire, and the targets were 'fleeting.'

When al-Qaida forces on resupply missions stopped their sport- utility vehicles in one place long enough, 'the fixed-wing aircraft would slam them,' Hagenbeck told the magazine. But, he said, that didn't happen often enough.

'We really worked to find ways to kill fleeting targets the first three or so days,' he told Field Artillery. 'Honestly, we weren't that successful.' But getting the jets on station quickly enough was only part of the problem. All too often, according to Hagenbeck and Bentley, even when a jet was available, Air Force rules prevented it from coming to the aid of Soldiers who needed its support.

'We have a huge procedural and training issue we've got to work through with our Air Force friends,' Hagenbeck told Field Artillery.

The problem, as he explained it, is that the Air Force refuses to drop precision-guided munitions unless the strike has been called in by an Air Force ground forward air controller or an Air Force enlisted terminal attack controller. But there are not enough of these personnel for one to be placed in every Army unit that might require close air support. This particularly was the case in Anaconda, Hagenbeck told Field Artillery.

'This war became platoon fights separated by distances in very rugged terrain with too few ETACs to go around,' he said.

Even infantry units with an airman to call in strikes, he said, can easily lose that critical capability during combat.

'What happens if the ETAC is injured and has to be medevaced [medically evacuated] or is killed?'

'We needed as many ETACs and GFACs as we could [get] on the ground, and the Air Force doesn't have them now, and they probably won't have them in the foreseeable future,' he told Army Times.

The solution, according to Hagenbeck and Bentley, is to train and certify the Army's forward observers - who call in artillery and mortar fire - as 'universal observers,' able to call in any Army or Air Force munitions. 'Our FOs must be certified as ground forward air controllers,' Bentley said in the article. 'This may be a sore spot with the Air Force, but I believe it to be nonnegotiable.'"

2002 Ranger Association Banquet Remarks

The following message from Bill Schwartz '59 is reposted with his permission.

George Lawton

On Close Air Support issues, Bill Schwartz, after listening to comments and discussions from various 10th Mountain Division officers who fought in Afghanistan and participated in the Senior Leaders Panel, came to the following conclusions:

"CAS in Afghanistan was abysmal until the arrival of the A-10s, months into the operations. As I listened to the informal tales told by 10th Mountain Division people about the lack of support, my stomach turned. This was not the Air Force that supported us in Vietnam. Air Force shooters would not fly below 10,000 feet in daylight per Air Force dictates, not for political reasons. Hence no strafing runs. No AC-130 support was permitted by the Air Force during daylight hours. For example, when the Rangers were going back into Roberts Ridge to find the SEAL who was killed and support the operators in the area, AC-130 support was withdrawn by the AF Cmd Center in Saudi Arabia five minutes before Chinook touchdown at the LZ because it was daylight. The result as we know contributed to dead and wounded Rangers.

CAS as we knew it was only provided by Navy and marine aircraft when they were in the AO. Only they would come in low for strafing and bombing runs. Unless a unit had an ETAC or FAC they weren't permitted to call in AF close air support. Small units lacked this support. Precision munitions often weren't and could require hours to get on target. At one point it took five hours to bring in close air support for 10th Mountain troops that were in a tough fight. After the Rangers were evacuated from Roberts Ridge, the Air Force pounded the hell out of it for hours with precision munitions prior to a reinsertion by the 1-87 Inf. When the 1-87 hit the LZ the same Al Queda who fought the Rangers were still on the ground. None had been killed. It took troops on the ground to kill the 12 Al Queda that continued to fight from their fortified positions.

One of the reasons for poor CAS was that the Air Tasking Order was laid out 72 hours in advance, and the Air Force staffers were so bureaucratic that they wouldnt adjust weapons loads or missions. By the time the 10th left, they were able to reduce this to 18 hours. This approach to air support means that hitting fleeting or moving targets is very unlikely.

The ASOC in Afghanistan was often overruled by Blue Suit staffers at the Command Center in Saudi Arabia who didnt have a clue as to the real situation on the ground.

For a long period the Air Force would not allow heavy lifters to land in Afghanistan in daylight. Because of poor weather conditions at night this stifled resupply operations. God forbid a round should hit a resupply bird. I contrast this with Vietnam when C-123s and C-130s landed under fire in daylight to support troops on the ground.

In effect there is a significant cultural difference between the views of the Army and the Air Force when it comes down to close air support. These problems must be ironed out before any further operations, such as in Iraq, are undertaken.

The 21st century threat has changed to asymmetric enemies operating in closed terrains who will need to be defeated by decisive Army maneuver forces that can separate friend from foe in an increasingly urbanized world. "Army Attack Aviation Returning to the Close Fight: Impact of the MOUT Environment" a SAMMS monograph by Major Frank W. Tate vividly details how the current battlefield demands re-emphasis on the close fight. He states:

"At the division level, attack battalions should shift their training focus to supporting ground brigades in the close fight. This training should include modified gunnery tables focusing on running and diving fire at close range targets with strict accuracy standards. Additionally, attack battalions will need to significantly increase the amount of combined arms training they conduct. Infantry and Armor units will need to work with Aviation to develop effective helicopter fire support request formats and target handovers. Ground units will have to train Soldiers on techniques for controlling air attacks. Attack battalion assets will be more likely to work in small groups of two to three aircraft. Aviation commanders will have to decentralize control and consider OPCON relationships with ground units as an option to ensure unity of command and effort.

Before divisional attack battalions can conduct effective training for conducting close air support in MOUT or any environment, Army Aviation will need to develop appropriate doctrine. Current Army Aviation doctrine is woefully inadequate in its approach to fighting in MOUT and does not address close air support as a mission performed by Army helicopters. Army Attack Aviation close air support into its doctrine if units are going to be effective in this challenging role.

As Gen. DePuy taught in the mid-1970s, weapons system procurement should be based on needs determined in doctrine development and threat analysis. Since the major threats to the U.S. have changed in the post Cold War era and our doctrine and force structure are undergoing review based on this threat, we should review our procurement efforts to make sure they comply with the current needs. The AH-64D Longbow and the RAH-66 Comanche were both conceived and initially designed based on Cold War threats. The Longbow is potentially the greatest tank killer in the history of warfare, capable of deep attacks with fire and forget precision in a wide variety of weather and any illumination or battlefield obscuration conditions. The Comanche is a stealth technology helicopter designed especially to penetrate deep in a high ADA threat environment to provide reconnaissance and limited attack capability. With a threat that is unlikely to field large tank armies that operate in large geographic areas, large numbers of expensive weapons systems that are optimized to fight deep against tank formations may be unnecessary and detract from fielding systems that are needed.

Some Chechnya analysts have suggested that attack helicopters have a limited role in low intensity conflict (LIC) and particularly MOUT. Fast-moving fixed-wing aircraft have more survivability, stealth, surprise, and versatility. Fast movers are far less vulnerable to air ambushes that are alerted to oncoming helicopters by the tremendous noise. Unmanned reconnaissance aircraft can fly low and provide the information that helicopters are often used for. Recent case studies indicate that the level of effectiveness attack helicopters have in the MOUT environment is directly proportional to the level of preparedness attack helicopter crews have for operating in the urban environment and in the close fight. The U.S. Army Attack Aviation must develop effective TTPs for close fight employment in MOUT or they may well be viewed as obsolete for the coming fight."

The U.S. Army's doctrinal realignment of its attack helicopters to provide CAS firepower to enable its maneuver forces to move requires that it have air-ground integration ie; an on-the-ground Forward Air Controller (FAC) to maximize their fires with precision and confidence born out of a habitual relationship with the ground maneuver forces. The threat also realizes the best way to defeat Army forces is to not let them deploy by anti-access strategems where airfields and ports are destroyed or contaminated by nuclear, biological or chemical agents. The Army must have a 3D/2D maneuver synergism called "Air-Mech-Strike" where upon its forces can deploy anytime, anywhere in the world by USAF and Army aircraft with tracked armored fighting vehicles to secure lodgments and compliment the 2D maneuver of heavier forces. This rapid-deployment expertise must be embedded into every brigade of the U.S. Army to fully exploit opportunities for decisive maneuver by rapid follow-on deployment into assault zones secured by Army Airborne/Special Operations Forces.

With limited manpower available, it seems prudent that the best place to reside FAC and air deployment subject matter experts would be within the Army's Aviation Brigades.

Brigade level and below:

Army Attack Pathfinder Platoon

Every Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Army would have an Army Attack Pathfinder Platoon (AAPP) composed of primarily 11B Infantry and 19D Cavalry scout enlisted Soldiers. This puts real grunts in the Aviation Brigade. They would perform the following major missions:

1. Orchestrate 3D airland and airdrop movements by both Army and USAF aircraft for the Army ground unit its attached to
2. Control Army attack aircraft for CAS
3. Control ECAS for USAF aircraft
4. Security Force for Army Aircraft Assembly Area when not acting as Attack Pathfinders
5. Provide Armored All-Terrain Mobility for an Infantry Rifle company upon request 6. Attack Pathfinder non-pilot officers and enlisted will do tours as secondary MOS 93B AeroScout observers in the OH-58D and other scout observation aircraft when not assigned to the APP. Having AeroScout observers will double the amount of crews available to fly OH-58D missions instead of having a co-pilot act as an observer.

AAP would have CO, XO, 1SG, NBC NCO, 2 Mechanics and 8 teams of 3 men (Driver, Gunner and LNO) and 12 x M973A2 armored SUSV Ridgway fighting vehicles described in our book, "Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Maneuver Warfare for the 21st century" The LNO would be a warrant or commissioned officer Aviators with a radio talking directly to aircraft pilots using their same lingo.

Officers commanding the Attack Pathfinder Platoon would be either 96A rated aviators or 11A infantry or 19A Armor branch and must complete the same Attack Pathfinder training as their enlisted charges

Army Attack Pathfinder Team

96A, 11A or 19A Commanding Officer and XO

11B or 19D MOS Enlistedmen and Warrant Officers

To hold "Attack Pathfinder" Additional Skill Identifier (ASI):

Parachute jump qualified and on quarterly jump status
Air Assault qualified
Attack Pathfinder qualified
JFCC (ECAS) qualified
Assault Zone Survey qualified
93B Aerial Observer qualified in OH-58D or pilot


AN/PRC-119 SINCGARS radio to communicate with Army aircraft
AN/PRC-113 or 117 radio to talk to USAF aircraft in event USAF TACP radios not available
Hand-held laser range finder/GPS coordinate binocular
AN/PEQ-1A Portable SOFLAM/GLTD II NSN 1260-01-459-2774 laser target designator with day/night optics
Portable digital pathfinding computer system
M4 5.56mm carbines
DZ/LZ Marking equipment
C4 demolitions
M224 60mm trigger-fired mortar with colored smoke bombs for marking targets (pilot calls color of smoke he sees over the radio to prevent enemy spoofing)


M973A2 armored Ridgway SUSV or M113A3 Gavin vehicle that is parachute airdrop or airland from CH-47D capable: carries all their pathfinding and CAS gear Portable digital pathfinding computer system with FALCONVIEW and ARC VIEW software
eMountain Bikes
Mounted new generation SOFLAM (GLTD II) laser target designator for Hellfire ATGMs and guided 2.75" rockets
Radios mounted in racks
ASP-30mm autocannon ring-mount
Runway lights
C4 demolitions

When USAF A-10s, Army AH-64A/Ds and OH-58Ds are operating together with Army Attack Pathfinders and USAF TACPs, this becomes a Joint Air Attack Team (JAAT). The AF TACPs control the A-10s (AN/PRC-113 radios) and the Army Attack Pathfinders control the helicopters (AN/PRC-119 radios) with both having the ability to control the other's aircraft in an emergency.

Attack Pathfinders will do tours in the observer's seat of OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and RAH-66 Comanche scout/attack helicopters to better render Close Support terminal guidance by having an appreciation of what such support looks like from the air.


Each 19D Scout Platoon at Battalion level would have all its members go through Attack Pathfinder school in order to be trained to render ECAS from Army or USAF aircraft. They would operate their normal vehicles but have the same terminal attack guidance gear that the Attack Pathfinder Platoon has except not for pathfinding for aircraft.

Army Attack Pathfinder School

Expand current Pathfinder school by two weeks; one week classroom and 1 week in the field controlling Army aircraft live-fire missions/day and night

All AAP Soldiers Attack Pathfinder qualified and graduate from the 3-week USAF Joint Firepower Controller's Course (JFCC) at Nellis AFB, Nevada as well as the Combat Control Team Assault Zone Survey Course. ASI awarded upon completion of all these schooling requirements. All WO2s must successfully serve tour as Attack Pathfinders to become WO3s.

The Pathfinder Badge would have a lightning bolt added to the torch to signify the FAC capability of the graduate. Pathfinders without "attack" training can attend just the 2-week terminal guidance course to upgrade their rating/badges to the "lightning bolt".

Sample Pathfinder Missions

Peacetime USAF airland deployment

Let's say 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division is going to fly to Bosnia. Once there, they will have an Army Aviation Brigade attached to them. The AAPP would first work with them to load their armored vehicles with USAF coordination to fly themselves to Bosnia. Once there, the AAPP would with digital means plan, then survey/verify and mark helicopter landing zones for the Aviation Brigade's helicopters. Any parachute airdrop missions would be handled by them acting as a DZST.

Combat airland deployment

Consider that 1st Brigade of the 25th Light Infantry Division is flying by C-130s to airland behind 1-501st Paratroopers into a jungle area to force their way into a city threatened by rebels to rescue American citizens. AAPP digital pathfinding and mission planners conclude there is no airfield and runway that can be seized without a bloody fight with the rebels with MANPADS. The AAPP determines several locations that could be used as "assault zones" which C-130s could operate from. The AAPP and the USAF CCT fly 2 hours ahead into the first potential assault zone and survey it. Let's say its a suitable road but has telephone poles lining the sides; they quickly chop the poles with C4 and chain saws towing them away with their Ridgway fighting vehicles so the "Geronimos" could jump in and secure the drop zone. The AAPP continues to prepare the assault zone for the inbound 1st BDE to airland as the USAF CCT marks the runway and provides Air Traffic Control support.

As the brigade airlands and moves out as a combat force to encircle the city, AAPP can transport an infantry company while at the same time have a trained Attack Pathfinder head out of the Ridgway vehicle can control USAF thru ECAS until Army Attack aircraft can be landed and put into flying condition for CAS.

Sample Terminal Attack Missions

Rotary-wing Army Attack Mission: AAPP

Both USAF fixed-wing and rotary-wing mission: JAAT

New Tasks/Capabilities for Attack Pathfinders

1. Laser rangefind and target designate for Army helicopter gunships

TASK: Control CAS at night with a Hand-held Laser Pointer

CONDITIONS: At night, on a range with targets at distances of at least 600m. Equipped with a hand-held laser pointer (LPL-30, PEQ-4, or IZLID II), PVS-7 (or PVS-14), and either a PRC-113 or PRC-119. With fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft in support. With callsigns and frequencies. STANDARD: Using a Hand-held Laser Pointer, the Soldier will:

a. Determine the most advantageous attack axis for the pilot to be able to see the IR mark.
b. Radio a 9-line brief to the aircraft.
c. Mark the target with the Hand-held Laser Pointer.
d. Clear the aircraft hot onto the target.
e. Throughout the procedure, demonstrate the proper actions for the terms "Rope", "Snake", "Steady", "Shift", "Stop", and "Terminate."

NOTES: a. This standard can be accomplished with actual aircraft conducting SIMCAS. No ordnance is required.
b. This standard requires the Soldier to communicate by radio with pilots in actual aircraft.

REFERENCES: a. MCWP 3-23.1 Close Air Support
b. MAWTS-1 Forward Air Controller (Airborne) Handbook
c. MCRP 3-16.8B J-FIRE Multiservice Procedures for Firepower
d. Joint Pub 3-09.3 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for CAS

TASK: Boresight the PVS-13 to the PEQ-1A SOFLAM

CONDITION: In the daytime or dusk with a PEQ-1A SOFLAM, tripod, and (5) BA-5590 batteries. With a PVS-13 and (2) AA batteries.

STANDARD: The Soldier must execute the following within (6) minutes.
a. Mount the PEQ-1A SOFLAM to the tripod.
b. Insert (5) BA-5590 batteries into the battery bag case, connect case to the PEQ-1A SOFLAM.
c. Turn the PEQ-1A SOFLAM on.
d. Select a target for boresighting.
e. Insert (2) AA batteries into the PVS-13.
f. Mount the PVS-13 to the PEQ-1A SOFLAM.
g. Turn the PVS-13 on.
h. Adjust the view of the target with the Objective and Eyepiece focus ring. Adjust the reticle brightness with the Reticle Brightness Knob.
i. Using the Reticle Windage and Elevation Knobs, boresight the PVS-13 to the same target as the PEQ-1A SOFLAM.


a. The PVS-13 is mounted on the weaver rail above the eyepiece on the PEQ-1A SOFLAM.
b. Laser Safety precautions must be taken at all times.
c. The Laser Boresight System, to be fielded in 2001, will boresight any optic to any weapon without requiring live rounds.

TASK: Designate a target at night with the PEQ-1A SOFLAM and PVS-13

CONDITION: With a PEQ-1A SOFLAM, properly mounted and set up. With a PVS-13 properly mounted and boresighted. With a designated target at least 600m downrange.

STANDARD: The Soldier must execute the following tasks within (2) minutes:
a. Find the range to the designated target.
b. Change the laser code to a given code.
c. Laze the designated target.

NOTES: Laser Safety precautions must be taken at all times.

TASK: Control CAS at night with the PEQ-1A SOFLAM and PVS-13

CONDITIONS: At night, on a range with targets at distances of at least 600m. With a PEQ-1A SOFLAM and PVS-13 properly setup and boresighted. With either a PRC-113 or PRC-119. With fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft in support. With callsigns and frequencies.

STANDARD: The Soldier will:

a. Determine the most advantageous attack axis for the pilot to be able to see the IR mark.
b. Radio a 9-line brief to the aircraft.
c. Designate the target with the PEQ-1A SOFLAM.
d. Clear the aircraft hot onto the target.


a. This standard can be accomplished with actual aircraft conducting SIMCAS. No ordnance is required.
b. Laser safety precautions must be taken at all times.
c. This standard requires the Soldier to communicate by radio with pilots in actual aircraft.

REFERENCES: a. MCWP 3-23.1 Close Air Support
b. MAWTS-1 Forward Air Controller (Airborne) Handbook
c. MCRP 3-16.8B J-FIRE Multiservice Procedures for Firepower
d. Joint Pub 3-09.3 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for CAS

FM 17-18 Light Armor Operations states:

Tactical Air Control Parties. The USAF provides one TACP to each maneuver battalion. Each TACP includes an ALO, who performs FAC duties, and two TACAIR C2 specialists. One of the specialists is trained in terminal air control techniques and can perform TACP duties. The ALO supervises the activities of the TACP personnel; he advises the commander, FSO, and S3-Air on capabilities and limitations of TACAIR and other technical or tactical aspects of TACAIR missions as required. The ALO uses USAF TACAIR requests to maintain radio contact with all other TACPs in the division and with the air support operations center (ASOC). When possible, he provides final coordination of CAS missions in the battalion area. The TACP transmits to the ASOC all requests for immediate CAS. He advises the S3-Air and FSO of other units' immediate air requests. As changes in the TACAIR situation are transmitted over the TACAIR request net, the ALO relays them to the S3-Air and FSO.

TACP procedures in this manual conform to US Army and USAF standards. TACPs participating in allied operations should be familiar with the characteristics and attack profiles of all aircraft that may support ground operations.

Preplanned Missions. Preplanned missions are those for which a requirement can be foreseen. They permit detailed planning, integration, and coordination with the ground tactical plan. In the defense, CAS can be used to thicken fires in a decisive EA. In the offense, CAS can be planned to strike an anticipated enemy counterattack in the vicinity of an objective. Inherent in such preplanned CAS missions is the possibility that the target will not appear at the place and time that was expected. Such missions would then be released and used to fill requests for immediate CAS elsewhere on the battlefield. Preplanned CAS missions are most desirable because munitions can be tailored to the target and complete mission planning can be accomplished. Categories of planned CAS are--

Scheduled mission. This is a CAS strike on a planned time on target (TOT), and will be included in the daily air tasking order (ATO).

Alert mission. This is a CAS strike on a preplanned target area executed when re quested by a supported unit. It is usually launched from a ground alert but may be flown from an airborne alert status. Alert (on-call) CAS allows the ground commander to designate a general target area within which targets may need to be attacked. The ground commander designates a conditional period within which he will later determine specific times for attacking the targets. Requests for planned CAS missions originating at the light armor battalion level are forwarded to the brigade FSE over the OI net or by any other means available. When the request is received by the FSE, it is reviewed by the G3-Air, the FSO, and the ALO. They determine the suitability of the targets for air attack and consider potential airspace conflicts. The FSO may decide that it would be better to use another weapon system against that target. As a minimum, he will integrate CAS into his FS plan. The G3-Air will then add the request to the file for planned CAS missions, eliminate duplications, and assign target priorities. He then forwards the consolidated request to an assistant G3. Consolidated requests are coordinated with the division FSCOORD and ALO. The requests are then forwarded to the corps G3-Air. Figure 7-6 depicts the planned CAS request net.

Figure 7-6. Planned close air support request channels.

Immediate Missions. Immediate missions are executed in response to requests from supported ground maneuver commanders to fulfill urgent requirements that could not be foreseen. Details of such missions are normally coordinated while the aircraft are in the air. Immediate mission requests are normally processed through USAF channels. Before requesting immediate CAS, the following points should be considered:

Target type. CAS is most effective when attacking exposed and/or moving enemy forces and air defense assets.

Enemy air defenses. Both antiaircraft artillery (AAA) and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) are systems that may require suppression before CAS can be effective.

Target acquisition. Well-camouflaged or small, stationary targets are difficult for pilots to acquire. These kinds of targets will require some kind of marking for identification. The use of an FSE or COLT to laser-designate a target can help target acquisition.

Day or night observation. For night missions, the FSO should give special attention to target identification and the use of artillery to illuminate the target.

Time available. Response and station time for CAS aircraft can vary from a few minutes to more than an hour. The TACP will normally have the most up-to-date information.

Figure 7-7. Immediate close air support request channels.

Requests for immediate CAS missions that originate at maneuver company level are forwarded to the battalion FSE and to the ALO (see Figure 7-7). Based on direction from the S3 and FSO, the ALO can make the request through the TACAIR request net from the TACP directly to the ASOC. The TACP at each level monitors the request and acknowledges receipt. Silence by an intermediate TACP indicates approval of the request by the associated Army echelon. If any echelon above the requesting echelon disapproves the request, the TACP at that echelon notifies the ASOC and the initiating TACP, giving the reason for disapproval. When the request is approved, the ASOC orders the mission flown. Immediate missions involve launching general alert aircraft using air alert sorties and/or diverting aircraft from other missions. Figure 7-8 depicts a typical immediate CAS request flow.

Before CAS aircraft release ordnance on the target, the TACP and FSO must accomplish several tasks. Radio frequencies and laser designation settings used by the FSOs, COLTs, and tactical aircraft should be predetermined and forwarded to all parties. Since most aircraft do not have FM radios, the ALO will use the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) tactical air direction net to communicate with CAS aircraft. Most USAF FM capability is nonsecure; therefore, it is critical that proper authentication procedures be used when FM radios are employed.

Following approval of the CAS request, the TACP and tactical air controller (TAC-A) receive aircraft mission data from the ASOC. These data include mission number, aircraft call sign, number and type of aircraft, ordnance carried, and TOT. The TACP determines any additional essential information, such as updated enemy locations and identification means, availability of fires for suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), friendly ADA considerations, and time factors for the attack. If CAS aircraft are fitted with LSTs, the laser setting must be passed to the attack aircraft. When aircraft arrive at the target area, the TACP provides the pilots with updated information. They must be given enough information to positively identify the target. The TACP is also prepared to abort the attack if the safety of friendly troops is threatened. During the entire attack, the ALO watches for enemy surface-to-air fires and warns the aircraft accordingly.

If the CAS aircraft are fitted with LSTs, the TACP coordinates with the FSO or COLT to ensure that the targets are accurately marked for the aircraft. The LST-equipped aircraft detects the reflected laser, locks onto it, and illuminates an aiming cue in the pilot's head-up display. Even with laser designators, the use of marking smoke should be considered to help the pilot aim his LST accurately. Caution should be used to avoid laser-to-target visibility and attenuation problems caused by the smoke.

CAS Planning Considerations. CAS mission success is directly related to thorough mission planning based on the factors discussed in the following paragraphs.

Weather. Does the weather favor the use of aircraft? What is the forecast for the immediate future? Weather is one of the most important considerations when visually employing weapons; it can hinder target identification and degrade weapon accuracy.

Target Acquisition. Targets that are well camouflaged, small and stationary, or masked by hills or other natural terrain are difficult to identify from fast-moving aircraft. The use of marking rounds can enhance target identification and help ensure first-pass success. Moving targets will usually highlight themselves.

Target Identification. This is critical if CAS aircraft are to avoid attacking friendly forces by mistake. It can be accomplished by providing a precise description of the target in relation to terrain features easily visible from the air. Smoke, laser target marking, or other means can also be used.

Identification of Friendly Forces. Safe means of friendly position identification include mirror flashes, marker panels, and direction and distance from prominent land features or target marks.

Figure 7-8. Typical immediate CAS request flow.

General Ordnance Characteristics. What types of targets are to be engaged, and what are the desired weapon effects?

Final Attack Heading. Choice of the final attack heading depends upon considerations of troop safety, aircraft survivability, and optimum weapon effects. Missiles and bombs are effective from any angle. Cannons, however, are more effective against the sides and rears of armored vehicles.

Troop Safety. This is a key consideration in using CAS. The primary cause of fratricide is misidentification of friendly troops as enemy forces.

SEAD. SEAD will be required based on the capabilities of the aircraft and presence of enemy air defense systems in the target area.

CAS and Artillery Integration. Army artillery and tactical airpower are complementary. Because artillery support is more continuous and responds faster than CAS, CAS missions must be integrated with artillery so that limited firing restrictions are imposed. The ACA is the FS coordination measure used to accomplish this integration. There are four standard ACAs: lateral, altitude, timed, and altitude and lateral separation.

Other planning factors that must be considered are time available for planning, C3 and terrain. Refer to FM 6-20-50 for these additional planning factors.

Strike Execution. As the CAS aircraft reach the general vicinity of the target, they fly to a contact point that is normally given to the pilots through USAF channels. At the contact point, the pilots change radio frequencies and come up on the supported ground unit's TACP frequency. The pilots are then given a situation update by either a TAC-A or the ALO as they continue flying in the direction of the target. The CAS aircraft then fly to a reference point on the ground that the pilots can identify from the air, called the initial point (IP). When the CAS flight leader is cleared to attack, he switches to the attack frequency, contacts the TACP, and reports when his flight departs the IP and is en route to the target. This radio call is used to coordinate any required SEAD and/or target marking rounds.

It is important to remember that this entire procedure, in a high-intensity, high-threat environment, would have to be done as smoothly and quickly as possible. If the attack aircraft are not aligned with the correct target or if friendly troops may be endangered, the TACP must abort the attack. The CAS abort procedure uses a challenge and reply response. The CAS flight leader gives the TACP the two-letter challenge code; the reply "letter" from the TACP is the abort-call "code word." The reply letter should be transmitted after the words "ABORT, ABORT, ABORT." This procedure is possible only if the TACP or ALO has the same authentication system as the aircraft.

An effective daytime technique of marking target areas is to fire a mortar smoke round into the target area. Pilots can easily verify the target area prior to releasing ordnance. During limited visibility, the same technique can be used only using illumination rounds set for ground burst.

Night Planning and Operation Considerations. In a high-intensity, high-threat environment, the capabilities of CAS aircraft employed at night are very limited. To improve the capabilities of night CAS, the USAF is acquiring additional night-capable systems such as the low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night (LANTIRN) system. Despite the limitations, CAS aircraft still have a few advantages while attacking at night. The most important advantage is the limitation darkness imposes on enemy optically-sighted and infrared (IR) antiaircraft systems. This is particularly true if they do not have NVD. Airborne or ground-based illumination can also degrade enemy night-vision capabilities.

The two most important requirements of a night CAS operation are identification of the enemy or target and positive marking of friendly unit locations. The ground maneuver commander should rely on his own Army assets to accomplish the marking and illumination requirement. Although flares released from airborne FACs, other CAS aircraft, or "flare ships" can effectively illuminate target areas, illumination fired by ground artillery and heavy mortars are normally preferred due to the continuous capabilities of sustained indirect fire. Fixed-wing aircraft that can conduct night CAS missions with battlefield illumination are the AV-8B, A-10, A-7, F-16, F-4, F-111, and F/A-18.

Laser designation capabilities of the A-10, A-7, AV-8B, and F/A-18 enable these aircraft to acquire targets without use of conventional illumination. The LSTs carried by these aircraft detect the reflected laser, lock onto it, and provide the data directly to the pilot. The F-4, F-16, F/A-18 and A-7 can also use radar to provide reference information for night operations. In addition, small radar reflectors, optimized for particular airborne radars, can create spotting cues for CAS aircraft.

Marking friendly unit locations improves joint air attack team (JAAT) and CAS safety and also provides target area references. Tracers and radar beacons can serve both purposes. If safe separation is a factor, friendly unit marking is critical. Fired into the air, 40-mm illumination grenades and flares are effective, but they may be useful to the enemy as well. Flares used during limited visibility operations can create the "milk-bowl" effect, making it more difficult for a CAS aircraft to find its target. When used under a low cloud ceiling, flares can also highlight the aircraft against the cloud cover. Strobe lights are very good night markers. They are commonly used with blue or IR filters and can be made directional by the use of any opaque tube. In overcast conditions, strobe lights can be especially useful. Aside from the obvious security considerations, almost any light that can be filtered or covered and uncovered can be used for signaling aircraft.

USAF Aircraft Characteristics. CAS missions never consist of less than two aircraft sorties. These aircraft may make more than one pass over the target area except in high-intensity, high-threat situations, where the capabilities of modern air defense systems present added dangers. The following paragraphs provide examples of two types of aircraft, the A-10 and the A-7, that will normally be given CAS missions. Table 7-5 is a summary of reference data for aircraft that perform CAS missions; Table 7-6 is a summary of ordnance available for CAS.

Table 7-5. Aircraft reference data.

Table 7-5a. Aircraft reference data (Cont).

Table 7-6. Aircraft ordnance reference data.

The A-10 (Thunderbolt) is designed specifically for the CAS role. In a typical CAS mission, the A-10 could fly 150 miles and remain on station for an hour. It can carry up to 16,000 pounds of mixed ordnance with partial fuel, or 12,086 pounds with full internal fuel. The 30-mm GAU-8A gun carried by the A-10 can fire 2,100 or 4,200 rounds per minute and defeat the whole range of ground targets encountered in the CAS role, including tanks. In addition to the GAU-8A, the A-10 can also carry free-fall or guided bombs, gun pods, six AGM-65 Maverick missiles, jammer pods, and the Pave Penny laser spot tracker. A typical standard ordnance load for the A-10 is two to four Maverick missiles and over 1,100 rounds of 30-mm ammunition, consisting of an armor-piercing incendiary (API) and high-explosive incendiary (HEI) mix. The API has a depleted uranium penetrator. The Maverick used by USAF aircraft uses TV or IR seekers with fire-and-forget and day-night capabilities. The warhead is a 165-pound shaped charge for use against tanks or a 300-pound penetrating high explosive. Time required to acquire and lock the weapon onto a target usually restricts the A-10 to one missile per pass. In a target-rich environment, there may be time for further engagements with the 30-mm gun before breaking off the attack. The 30-mm gun is normally aimed at a point target and fired for a one-second burst of 30 rounds. The on-board load of 1,170 30-mm rounds, fired at 2,100 rounds per minute, could be expended in just 30 seconds.

[Editor: A-7s are retired from U.S. service]

The A-7 (Corsair) is a subsonic tactical fighter that was delivered to the USAF and Navy between 1968 and 1976. The A-7 has on-station time of 30 to 50 minutes with a maximum speed of 663 mph. The aircraft's outstanding target kill capability, first demonstrated in Southeast Asia, is achieved with the aid of continuous-solution navigation and weapon-delivery systems, including all-weather radar bomb delivery. Additionally, a large number of A-7s were modified to carry the same Pave Penny laser target designation pod as the A-10. The A-7 can carry up to 15,000 pounds of air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles, bombs, rockets, and gun pods. In addition, it has the standard M-61A1 20-mm Vulcan gun, which is effective against lightly armored vehicles.

The F-16 (Fighting Falcon) is a single-engine, single-seat, lightweight, high-performance, multirole aircraft. This highly maneuverable fighter excels in air-to-air and air-to-surface roles. In the air-to-surface role, using a 20-mm Gatling gun, it is the most accurate aircraft in the inventory and can be used for both CAS and AI.


U.S. Navy (USN) and/or U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) air requests are forwarded by the respective SALTs to the aviation unit in support of the unit. The brigade FSO submits all air requests, including those for USMC attack helicopters (AH-1W Cobra), through the Marine air officer or ANGLICO. The actual terminal control of the air assets is done by the firepower controller of the FCT. In the absence of an observer, USN and/or USMC air may be controlled by the company FSO, the ALO, or the USAF FAC.

Like USAF support, USN/USMC TACAIR never consists of less than two aircraft sorties. These aircraft may make more than one pass over the target area, but loiter time is contingent on transit distance. Refer to Figure 7-4 and Table 7-1 for additional information. The following are the two most common USN/USMC aircraft that provide CAS to light armor operations.

The F/A-18/D (Hornet) is an extremely versatile aircraft that can provide excellent CAS with its 20-mm rotary cannon and a basic load of either 515 or 580 rounds. Loiter time is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on external fuel tanks and ordnance load. The F/A-18 can carry 13,700 pounds of conventional ordnance consisting of 2.75-mm and 5-mm rockets, Walleye, HELLFIRE, TOW missiles, fuel-air explosive (FAE) and flares. It is equipped with a laser designator, radar, and FLIR/NVG. The maximum speed is 1,190 mph (without ordnance or external fuel tanks).

The AV-8B (Harrier) can also provide CAS with its 25-mm rotary cannon, however, its basic load is only 300 rounds and can only remain on station for up to 30 minutes. The AV-8B can carry 8,000 pounds of the same type of external ordnance as the F/A-18. For target acquisition, it has LST and FLIR/NVG. The maximum speed is 685 mph (without ordnance or external fuel tanks). Section III. Army Aviation Support

Army aviation assets will deploy with light infantry contingency TFs. Light armor units may operate with attack and/or reconnaissance aviation assets to perform reconnaissance and security operations.


The organization of the light division aviation brigade and reconnaissance squadron is dependent upon whether the division is light, airborne, or air assault. The ACT in each type of division, however, has the same organization.


The capabilities of the AH-1, AH-64, and OH-58D attack helicopters include--

The AH-1 Cobra can carry multiple loads, dependent on the mission, enemy situation, and atmospheric conditions. Weapon systems include 2.75-inch rockets, 7.62-mm minigun, 40-mm grenade launcher, 20-mm cannon, and TOW.

The AH-64 Apache is equipped with the pilot night vision sensor to enhance flight during periods of reduced visibility. It also has a target acquisition sight/designator to lase targets for laser energy-seeking munitions. Its weapon systems include 2.75-inch rockets, 30-mm cannon, and the HELLFIRE missile.

The OH-58D (Kiowa Warrior) is the armed version of the OH-58 (AHIP) with HELL FIRE, Stinger, 2.75" rockets, and .50 caliber [heavy] machine guns. The helicopter is equipped with a thermal imaging system (TIS) and a low-light camera system. The helicopter is capable of operating on a digital TACFIRE network. The Kiowa Warrior will eventually replace all Cobras and Kiowas in the cavalry squadrons and attack battalions of the light and airborne divisions. EMPLOYMENT

The aviation brigade provides divisional Army aviation support. This support can be for attack, air movement, air assault, reconnaissance, intelligence, security, and/or logistical operations. Cargo helicopters (CH-47s) are available only in the aviation brigade of the air assault division or at corps level.

Light armor leaders at all levels must be aware of the integration of Army aviation assets into the maneuver plan so that light armor and rotary aircraft can work efficiently as a team.

Light armor units will normally work with Army aviation assets in reconnaissance, security, or logistical roles.

An ACT may operate with a light armor battalion during a reconnaissance or screen mission. Planning and guidance for future operations are conducted by the light armor battalion. The light armor unit commander assigns missions to the ACT commander. The light armor battalion staff provides essential intelligence, logistical, and FS information. The ACT commander can respond quickly to support a ground commander's scheme of maneuver. The minimum information he must know is--

Enemy situation.

Availability of FS.

FS coordination measures in effect.

Current battlefield graphics.

Attack helicopter assets in the area.

Disposition of friendly ground elements.

Commander's relationship to the new unit.

Person to whom spot reports are to be reported.

Location of supporting Classes III and V aviation assets.

An ACT may also work with light armor companies or platoons as a reconnaissance team. For example, during the early stages of a CONOPS, air reconnaissance aircraft can provide early warning for the mobile light armor ground force tasked to provide security for the airhead. Available light armor and ACT assets can be task organized by the commander to provide a highly mobile screening force in a predominantly dismounted brigade AO.

Attack Helicopter Mission. The primary mission of attack helicopters is to destroy massed enemy forces with aerial firepower, mobility, and shock effect. Light armor with attack helicopter augmentation significantly gain, maintain, and exploit the initiative to defeat the enemy. They operate in offensive, defensive, or special purpose operations. The attack helicopter can be committed early in battle. It can reinforce ground combat units and can attack, delay, or defend by engaging the enemy with direct and indirect fires. Attack helicopter battalions cannot seize or retain terrain without cross-attached ground maneuver forces. However, to deny terrain to the enemy for a time, they can dominate the terrain by fire. Also, attack helicopters are limited by a combination of fuel capacity and flight time, weather and visibility restrictions, and the air defense environment. They are most effective when employed as a battalion. Attack helicopters can also be assigned to do the following:

Conduct rear operations.

Coordinate and adjust indirect fires.

Suppress or destroy enemy air defense assets.

Reinforce ground maneuver forces by fire.

Conduct JAAT operations with CAS and FA assets.

Destroy enemy communication and logistical assets.

Disrupt and destroy enemy second echelon and follow-on forces.

Protect air assault forces during all phases of air assault operations.

Destroy enemy helicopters that pose an immediate threat to mission accomplishment.

Considerations. The commander must consider the following factors before employing attack helicopters and air cavalry/reconnaissance troops.

Offense. Attack helicopters conduct combat operations against enemy force alone or along with friendly ground forces. In the offense, attack helicopters are most effective against a moving or counterattacking enemy force. They are least effective against a dug-in enemy force. With proper planning, attack helicopter battalions can provide antiarmor firepower against an enemy armored force. Rather than being used as a reaction force, attack helicopter battalions should be integrated into the maneuver battalion's scheme of maneuver. This is normally done at division or brigade level and must include coordination for terrain to support attack helicopter operations.

Defense. Attack helicopters, due to their mobility are shifted on the battlefield as needed. They are used to stop enemy penetration into the main battle area, to attack enemy in the covering force area, or to reinforce or thicken the defense on parts of the battlefield. They can also perform effectively in an economy-of-force defensive role. Planners must coordinate BPs for attack helicopters.

The light armor battalion may, on rare occasions have attack helicopter assets OPCON to assist in an antiarmor battle. An army aviation LO may be provided to the battalion to coordinate aviation support when this type of mission is planned. He will advise the commander and assist in planning the use of aviation assets to support the maneuver plan.

European Stars and Stripes
August 15, 2002

Afghanistan War Showing Air Force The Importance Of 'Eyes On The Ground'

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes

ARLINGTON, Va. - Afghanistan has added a "new wrinkle"; to the Air Force's basic doctrine, according to the service's top analyst for the war on terrorism: Wars aren't won by air alone.

The rugged and unforgiving mountains of Central Asia have revealed many hard truths to each of the services. But for the Air Force, perhaps no single lesson resonates more clearly, Col. Fred Weiners said Tuesday: "Eyes on the ground" are essential to round out the advanced space- and air-based sensors, weapons and platforms that make up the service's inventory.

"You can have all the high technology you want, but it's these 25-year-old staff sergeants on the ground ... making strike decisions" that, according to Weiners, have in the past been made by high-level planning officers located nowhere near the battlefield.

Weiners is acting director of the Air Force's Task Force Enduring Look, and spoke with Stripes in an interview in his office in Arlington, Va.

Air campaigns traditionally have been planned in advance. Coordinates have been known, and target sets could be chosen from data gathered weeks or months in advance.

To hear an Air Force official emphasizing the need for "boots on the ground" is a significant shift in conventional U.S. military thinking.

The Army and Marine Corps both are founded on the principle that war is never won until "boots hit the ground" - when military personnel actually occupy the turf. The Air Force has tended to be dominated by officers who believe air operations alone can conquer an enemy.

In Afghanistan, however, forward air controllers and special operations forces -not planners sitting in Washington with maps and satellite photographs - have been responsible for almost all critical targeting calls, Weiners said.

"They are our most versatile and highly sophisticated sensor, and they are proving highly effective," Weiners said. "They dramatically enhance overall air power and bombing effectiveness."

Thanks to ground controllers, "We've enjoyed an accuracy like we've never enjoyed," Weiners said - and not only due to more sophisticated "smart" bombs, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

Sensor-To-Shooter Loop

But Afghanistan also revealed a critical break in this "sensor-to-shooter" loop: Air Force pilots had not had enough practice working with the ground operators, particularly the special operations forces.

The service has moved with extraordinary speed to remedy that deficiency, Weiners said.

His task force first identified the need for more pilot training with ground forces in January, and by June, pilots at the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., were "engaging special operations forces on the ground, including full mission profiles and simulations, to replicate what we were doing [in Afghanistan]."

Not every lesson coming out of Afghanistan is revolutionary. Much of what the Air Force is gleaning validates tactics and technologies that have worked well in exercises, but never have been proven in combat, Weiners said.

One especially critical validation to come out of the Central Asian campaign is proof that the Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Forces, which were designed for peacetime, also work in war, Weiners said.

As the Defense Department continued to pull back from its overseas bases throughout the 1990s, Air Force leaders decided they needed a way to keep the increasingly home-based service ready for action.

C-17 Proves Itself

One example: Afghanistan is the first major conflict for the Pentagon that has required "everything to come in and out by air," Weiners noted.

The Air Force's newest transport, the C-17, was key, Weiners said.

"The C-17 really proved itself, given the austere nature of our bases" in Central Asia, he said.

Creative aircrews also have found ways for the C-17 to perform that its designers never anticipated, Weiners said, citing in particular its function as a "mobile filling station."

Afghanistan has no fuel supply infrastructure, and roads there are so treacherous that trucking large amounts of fuel in is out of the question.

That means every drop of aviation gas and jet fuel needed by the U.S. forces is supplied by the Pentagon's fleet of KC-10 and KC-135 tanker aircraft.

Meanwhile, Army and Marine helicopters and the assorted special operations aircraft stationed at the rough airfields that dot Afghanistan "need a lot of gas," Weiners said.

During Operation Anaconda in March, when fuel was at an absolute premium, an unknown airman came up with a novel idea to get fuel to the fighters quickly: Combine the C-17's ability to land almost anywhere with its large fuel tanks.

"We would park a tanker in an orbit, and the C-17 would go up, tap the tanker, land and off-load the fuel - and now you have avgas [aviation gas]" where tankers can't land, Weiners said.

Bombers With Eyes

Another much-discussed evolution was the decision to use of Cold-war era strategic bombers in tactical combat.

The Air Force's B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers all were originally designed to deliver nuclear munitions in end-of-the-world scenarios.

In Afghanistan, however, Air Force officials took advantage of the bombers' extensive payloads, range and high-altitude capability to deliver lethal strikes on enemy forces - all while being directed by ground-based forces.

The bombers proved very effective, Weiners said.

"The B-1s and B-52s flew approximately 10 percent of the sorties and delivered close to 60 percent of the weapons," Weiners said.

During the Gulf War, B-52s dropped some 30 percent of all U.S. bombs. Neither the B-1 nor the B-2 was deployed.

One reason for that is the versatility of the bombers: They can carry traditional "dumb" bombs, but thanks to modifications, they also can deliver a range of smart weapons.

Secondly, all this can be done with greater standoff. The bombers fly much higher than fighter craft with no need for a visual, using coordinates from forward air controllers - the eyes on the ground.

Change comes with difficulty for the military; it's a "risk-averse group," Weiners said.

But, he said, "this is a great time to question the old way of doing things."


An Army Combat Aviator writes:

"Like everyone else in the Army there are not enough people to go around, at least not down to battalion level. I spent almost a year in Germany as the LNO to any brigade in 3AD that went to the field. During a REFORGER the brigade commander put me and another CPT out as LNO to the two forward brigades. Worked great. The Army is trying to figure out how to have enough aviators to build up the staffs so that we can really function for 24 hours. Doubtful we will see an increase in the number of slots for enough LNO's at battalion, but there is an appreciation that it is good to have LNOs at the ground maneuver brigades. A job for a senior (post command) CPT. One could make the argument that it would be a great pre-command assignment, but better to have a CPT who understands how to fight an attack unit down with the ground troops, even if at brigade. If the brigade wants to push the LNO to a battalion I suppose that could happen to.

An alternate idea would be to introduce a FAC school that trains NCO's and junior officers how to coord with Apaches. Would send apache drivers to go through the school too, with a ground portion so that they can get an idea who they are working for. Also make them mo glad they are aviators :) Oh well another stupid "lets make everyone a little more combined arms oriented" idea................ School should be at Benning or Knox."

An Army Apache Officer writes about how Aviation Warrants have gone soft:

"The problem being.....(OK maybe one of many) we have created an Army of bitter CWO @$##*#. Excuse my French. On my last excursion to the field (3 week FTX) there was an uprising complete with lynch mobs that said 'they' would sue the leaders in the BN if they (the pilots) were forced to participate in a scheduled 3-day training event. The issue at hand - evasion and land nav that was to include link-up procedures (mad minute) with unconventional forces (rescuers), modeled after the asymmetrical environment, that we will probably all see eventually. This was to be their last training objective prior to full authentication followed by a repatriation celebration. Tough - realistic training. The BN CDR broke - and cancelled the training. A victory for one Co. CDR and a lot of whining warrants who are supposed to be hunter/killers, but instead are dillusionally 747 pilots in their own mind.

Today, I was in a meeting with a good CWO training officer who revealed to me a roster (it was a petition), of many of the warrants making the statement they would not deploy to NTC except for a duration of 2 weeks. I recognized one name in particular. He had sought legal council, and built a case, to (that's right) sue the leadership in the BN because he had received a tick bite while on the aforementioned FTX.

This is becoming the rule - not the exception. What is Aviation going to do?

That's a rhetorical question.

Warrants ought to have to do something to get promoted to CW3. Like go be a LNO with an infantry BDE. It would be better to push them to the BN level though. Put them in their own M113's like the [USAF] FAC's.

AVN needs the FAC school! That's a great idea."