Infantry Drills

2-48: Air Assault Operations

Previous: 2-47: Additional Planning Considerations

2-48. Air assaults are high-risk, high-payoff missions. When properly planned and vigorously executed, these missions allow leaders to generate combat power and apply warfighting functions. An air assault can provide leadership the means to control the tempo of operations, enabling rapid execution of operations to retain or exploit the initiative.

2-49. An air assault task force is most effective in environments where limited lines of communications are available to the enemy, who also lacks air superiority and effective air defense systems. It should not be employed in roles requiring deliberate operations over an extended period, and is best employed in situations providing a calculated advantage due to surprise, terrain, threat, or mobility. In particular, an air assault task force is employed in missions requiring:

  • Massing or shifting combat power quickly.
  • Using surprise.
  • Using flexibility, mobility, and speed.
  • Gaining and maintaining the initiative.

2-50. FM 3-99 addresses the following basic considerations for planning and execution of air assaults:

  • Air assault operations are best conducted at night or during weather conditions allowing aircraft operations that obscure enemy observation. This facilitates deception and surprise.
  • Indirect fire support planning provides suppressive fires along air routes and in the vicinity of landing zones. Priority for fires should be to the suppression of enemy air defense systems.
  • Infantry unit operations are not changed fundamentally by integrating with aviation units. However, tempo and distance are changed dramatically.
  • Ground and aerial reconnaissance units should be employed as early as possible to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities to shape the operational area for execution.

Next: 2-51: Urban Terrain

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad