Area of Responsibility - Area of Operation

Area of Operation

The Areas of Operation, or AOs, are areas that component and force commanders define their tactical operability. It is also known as close battlespace. The commanders focus on establishing command and control in this area; which encompasses all aspects of fire support—naval gunfire, air and artillery superiority—in order to provide his ground forces the support they need. Also, the commander sets up force protection and supportive arms, such as logistics or reinforcements.

The term "area of operations" has long been used in the U.S. Army, for the geographic areas of interest to much smaller units than the combatant commands. It has especially been used among U.S. Army Special Forces.

The commander can choose to organize his AO so that his subordinates have contiguous or noncontiguous AOs:

  • Contiguous AO—In a contiguous AO, all the subordinate commands' share one or more common boundary within supporting distance of one another in the battlespace. A commander may establish their battlespace in a reflection of linear operations, where there is a continiuty and contiguous array of units across the area of operation (AO).
  • Noncontiguous—A noncontiguous Area of Operation is one where one or more subordinate AOs do not share a common boundary. The commander establishes noncontiguous AOs when a more likely situation is one where the task force conducts non-linear operations within a noncontiguous battlespace and within an operational framework with noncontiguous deep, close, and rear areas.

Operation Restore Hope in Somalia during 1992–1993, is an example of a battlefield framework with noncontiguous areas. The United States' Marine Air-Ground Task Forces' (MAGTF) rear area was centered around the separate sites of the embassy compound, port, and airfield in the city of Mogadishu, while its close area was widely scattered around the towns and villages of the interior that were occupied by the MAGTF. The MAGTF’s deep area included the rest of the country and particularly those population and relief centers not under the joint force commander's supervision.

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