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Forward aviation combat engineering (FACE)

Definition Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) is a military term related to strategic battlefield operations. It includes activities where military engineers work alongside aviation units for the construction and maintenance of forward operating bases and other tactical infrastructure. The objective is to support the rapid mobility and enhance the effectiveness of air operations within hostile […]


Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) is a military term related to strategic battlefield operations. It includes activities where military engineers work alongside aviation units for the construction and maintenance of forward operating bases and other tactical infrastructure. The objective is to support the rapid mobility and enhance the effectiveness of air operations within hostile territory.

Key Takeaways

  1. Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) primarily involves the use of aviation resources to carry out combat engineering tasks in forward areas, close to or on the battlefield. It ensures rapid movement, deployment, and repurposing of military resources in a combat environment.
  2. FACE operations are remarkably significant to warrant the mobility and flexibility of troops and equipment, often involving tasks such as the construction, repair, or maintenance of airfields, roads, bridges, and other necessary infrastructure that supports the operations of the force.
  3. The term also encapsulates the removal or neutralization of obstacles like mines or roadblocks that could hinder the smooth functioning of aerial or ground operations. Thus, FACE teams play a crucial role in enhancing the operational efficiency of the military by overcoming terrain and other physical constraints in real time.


The term Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) is significant in military operations as it denotes a specialized blend of combat engineering and aviation.

The FACE teams are responsible for swiftly assessing, preparing or repairing landing sites in forward, often hostile, locations to facilitate the safe landing, take-off, and operation of military aircraft.

The quick functionality of FACE teams supports the strategic mobility of airpower, crucial in scenarios where swift and reactive operations are required.

Hence, their operation capabilities directly impact mission success, troop safety, and overall military efficiency.

In essence, the importance of FACE lies in its contribution to enhancing operational readiness, military maneuverability, and tempo during conflicts or humanitarian operations.


Forward Aviation Combat Engineering, or FACE, is an operational maneuver that serves a strategic purpose in military operations. At its core, the purpose of FACE is to prepare and equip terrain, often in remote or hostile locations, to facilitate and support aviation operations. By setting up or improving airfield conditions, FACE enables the rapid deployment of aviation forces in unpredictable or rapidly changing battle scenarios.

It liaises closely with aviation units to accommodate their operational needs ensuring quick and efficient reinforcement or extraction, while also delivering a robust response mechanism for medical evacuation emergencies or supply drops. FACE plays a crucial role in bolstering an outfit’s operational readiness, reaction flexibility, and troop mobility. As a part of broader combat engineering, FACE is about enabling forces to live, move and fight in operational theaters and maintain their fighting ability.

This is achieved through the construction, repair, or enhancement of forward operating sites such as landing zones, assembly areas, and temporary bases. It facilitates quick reaction times, promoting strategic superiority. The terrain exploitation initiative gives the military forces an edge to surprise the enemy, initiate a counteroffensive, or retreat, based on the fluctuating dynamics of the battlefield.

Examples of Forward aviation combat engineering (FACE)

Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) typically involves the use of engineering and construction capabilities to facilitate the forward movement and operation of aviation units in a combat scenario. In practical terms, this could mean constructing or repairing airfields, setting up landing zones, and clearing terrain for aviation operations. It’s a specialised capability usually associated with airforce and engineering units. However, due to the confidential and classified nature of these operations, real world examples aren’t publicly available and fully disclosed for security reasons. That being said, I can provide general examples that align with the potential scenarios that FACE would be applicable:

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During this campaign, it could be reasonably assumed that there would’ve been extensive use of Forward Aviation Combat Engineering techniques as the allied forces rapidly deployed their units into Kuwait and Iraq. Work would likely have included rapidly establishing, repairing, and maintaining forward operating bases and landing strips in the desert terrain.

The U.S. Invading Afghanistan (2001): This is an example of a situation where a military force rapidly infiltrated a remote and unforgiving terrain, setting up Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in order to enable ongoing and rapid air logistics, resupply, and close air support missions.

United Nations Peacekeeping missions: In several places around the world, a lot of peacekeeping missions require the set up of makeshift helipads in difficult terrains to facilitate the movement and safety of peacekeeping forces. Remember these are hypothetical examples that involve tasks and scenarios which FACE personnel might be called to perform; they are not specifically documented instances of where FACE was employed. The exact details and particular operations are typically classified information.

FAQ: Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE)

What is Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE)?

Forward Aviation Combat Engineering (FACE) is a term used in military operations that refers to the application of combat engineering principles in support of forward aviation operations. It involves the deployment, construction, and maintenance of airfields and other aviation facilities in forward-operating areas.

What are the key activities under FACE?

Key activities under FACE include airfield construction and maintenance, obstruct removal, sourcing and managing construction materials, and providing emergency and preventative engineering resources to ensure the continuity of forward air operations.

Which military units typically perform FACE operations?

FACE operations are typically performed by specialized military units called Aviation Combat Engineers. These units are equipped with engineering expertise and machinery to operate in various combat and non-combat scenarios.

What is the importance of FACE in military operations?

FACE plays a crucial role in ensuring that aviation assets can deploy and operate effectively in forward areas. It allows for rapid deployment and mobility of aviation forces, improves their sustainment, provides force protection, and greatly enhances the operational effectiveness of the military.

What capabilities or skills are typically required for FACE operations?

Individuals involved in FACE operations typically need to have expertise in various aspects of combat engineering and aviation operations, including technical knowledge of airfield construction, familiarity with military construction equipment, ability to operate under adverse conditions, and awareness of operational security considerations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Combat Engineering Support
  • Aviation Battle Damage Assessment & Repair
  • Forward Operating Bases
  • Military Aerospace Engineering
  • Airfield Damage Repair

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army Official Website – Their official website has extensive information about different military operations, including Advanced Combat Engineer operations.
  • U.S. Department of Defense – The Department of Defense’s official website covers many aspects of military operations and may also contain information about FACE.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – This official website often has detailed information on combat engineering operations, and it is possible FACE resources can be found.
  • National Guard Official Website – The National Guard’s official website also often has information on various military operations, which might include FACE.

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