Ground Tactical Operations
1. There are five stages to an air assault operation. They are, in reverse order of execution, the ground tactical plan (GTP), the landing plan, the air movement plan, the loading plan, and the staging plan. The GTP drives the air assault; convenience of landing considerations is subordinate to putting air assault forces down where they need to be so they can fight the way they need to fight. Even so, it cannot be created in a vacuum. It is the first step in an integrated backward planning process used for air assaults. Although the Gold Book does not address the specifics of the GTP, it is imperative that the GTP drive all landing considerations. The five plans tie together in this way:
a. The ground tactical plan drives LZ selection.
b. LZ selection creates the landing plan.
c. The LZ location directs the air movement plan.
d. The flight routes and current friendly locations dictate the loading plan and PZ locations.
e. The PZ loading plan designates the requirements that become the staging plan to move our troops onto the PZ when and where needed.
2. The ground tactical commander (GTC), in accordance with doctrine, TTP, and METT-TC, determines his ground tactical plan. The plan includes the following components:
a. Mission objectives.
b. Primary/alternate LZs.
c. Task organization.
d. D-day/H-hour times.
e. Forces required/available.
f. Special equipment required (kick-off bundles).
g. Fire support plan (including preparatory fires).
h. Attack aviation missions.
i. Means of identifying LZ(s).
j. Landing formations.
k. Offloading procedures.
3. Placement of LZs. Should forces land near or far from their objectives? In most cases, air assault forces attempt to land on an objective. Landings at a distance from the objective depend upon the AATFC and GTC estimates of the situation.
Annex A - Offloading Techniques