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Assault echelon (AE)

Definition The term “Assault Echelon (AE)” refers to the primary attacking force in a military operation. It is typically composed of combat units and support elements tasked with carrying out the main assault against an enemy position. The AE is responsible for engaging and neutralizing the enemy, while creating an opportunity for follow-on forces to […]


The term “Assault Echelon (AE)” refers to the primary attacking force in a military operation. It is typically composed of combat units and support elements tasked with carrying out the main assault against an enemy position. The AE is responsible for engaging and neutralizing the enemy, while creating an opportunity for follow-on forces to exploit.

Key Takeaways

  1. Assault Echelon (AE) refers to the primary attacking force in a military operation, consisting of units specifically designated to engage and defeat enemy forces.
  2. AE is an essential component of any offensive action, working in coordination with supporting elements such as artillery, air support, and tactical reserves to ensure mission success.
  3. Assault echelons are commonly organized based on their objectives, terrain, and enemy force disposition, allowing for flexibility and adaptability during the course of a battle to achieve optimal results.


The term “Assault Echelon (AE)” is significant in military operations as it describes a critical element of the force that leads and executes the primary offensive mission.

The AE is specifically designed, organized, and equipped to be the primary breakthrough component of an attacking force.

It is crucial to have an AE to ensure a coordinated and systematic operation, employing various resources – such as infantry, armor, artillery, and air support – to penetrate enemy defenses, establish advantageous positions and seize objectives.

The effective implementation and performance of an AE can consequently determine the success of an attack, and ultimately the overall outcome of a military operation, making it an essential aspect of strategic planning and execution.


The primary purpose of the Assault Echelon (AE) is to breach enemy defenses and rapidly secure key objectives in a military operation, effectively paving the way for subsequent forces to move in and consolidate control over the region. By employing the AE, the military aims to rapidly neutralize or weaken enemy forces, especially in a heavily defended area, before the opponent has the opportunity to respond efficiently or muster reinforcements.

The AE is specifically designed and fully equipped with the necessary resources, personnel, and capabilities to overcome the initial resistance encountered, enabling other committed forces to achieve their objectives with minimal impediments. In order to achieve the purpose of swiftly overrunning enemy defenses, the Assault Echelon is comprised of specially trained soldiers and vehicles proficient in forced-entry operations.

These units are typically characterized by their high level of aggressivity, mobility, and ability to maintain momentum in rapidly changing situations. The AE is equipped with advanced weaponry, armored vehicles, and often supported by air, artillery, or intelligence support elements to ensure maximum efficiency in its operations.

In essence, the AE acts as the spearhead of an offensive campaign, quickly breaking through and destabilizing enemy defenses in order to create favorable conditions for following forces to secure victory and prevent long, protracted engagements.

Examples of Assault echelon (AE)

Operation Overlord (D-Day): The D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II on June 6, 1944, serves as an example of an assault echelon. In this operation, Allied forces used multiple assault echelons, composed of infantry, paratroopers, and amphibious landing forces. These echelons worked together to establish a foothold on the heavily defended beaches of Normandy, enabling the subsequent entry of additional forces and ultimately leading to the liberation of France.

Operation Market Garden (World War II): Another example of an assault echelon occurred in September 1944 during Operation Market Garden. This operation aimed to secure and control key bridges in the Netherlands, allowing the Allies to advance deeper into German-occupied territory. The assault echelons consisted of airborne troops dropped into the Netherlands, followed by ground forces moving up to reinforce and exploit the gains of the initial assault.

Battle of Inchon (Korean War): The Battle of Inchon in September 1950 during the Korean War saw the implementation of assault echelons as part of a decisive amphibious invasion. The operation aimed to outflank the North Korean forces that were occupying South Korea at the time. The assault echelons consisted of US Marines and Army troops, who conducted simultaneous landings at various beaches. These echelons quickly seized and secured their objectives, allowing for the rapid landing of follow-on forces and the ultimate success of the Inchon invasion.

FAQ: Assault Echelon (AE)

What is an Assault Echelon (AE)?

An Assault Echelon (AE) refers to the primary combat element responsible for conducting offensive operations during a military campaign. It consists of various fighting forces, such as infantry, armor, and artillery units, that are specifically tasked with attacking and defeating enemy forces.

What is the purpose of an Assault Echelon?

The primary purpose of an Assault Echelon is to overpower and defeat enemy forces during military operations. It is designed to provide a decisive advantage to friendly forces by attacking and capturing strategic objectives, thereby weakening the enemy’s ability to wage war effectively. The AE also helps to secure friendly force positions and establishes a foothold for subsequent operations.

How does an Assault Echelon differ from other types of military units?

While various military units have specific roles and responsibilities on the battlefield, an Assault Echelon is primarily focused on conducting offensive operations. This means that their primary role is to find, fix, and destroy enemy forces, whereas other military units, such as logistical support, play a more indirect role in achieving mission objectives.

What types of forces make up an Assault Echelon?

An Assault Echelon can consist of a wide range of different force types, depending on the mission requirements and tactical situation. Generally, an AE is composed of a mix of infantry, armor, and artillery units, with additional support assets such as aviation, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare elements. The exact composition of an AE can vary significantly based on factors such as the size of the operation, terrain, and enemy capabilities.

How are Assault Echelons employed during a military operation?

Assault Echelons are employed based on the specific requirements of a military operation. This typically involves conducting a thorough analysis of the enemy’s composition, disposition, and capabilities to develop a plan that effectively exploits their vulnerabilities and achieves mission objectives. Once a plan is developed, AE elements are then maneuvered into position and tasked with engaging and defeating enemy forces according to the commander’s intent and operational plan.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Expeditionary forces
  • Amphibious assault
  • Combat readiness
  • Tactical formations
  • Joint operations

Sources for More Information

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