This chapter focuses on execution. Narrative examples of offensive and defensive operations are provided to portray actions taken by FSOs at the company, battalion, and brigade levels in executing a fire plan. Key items addressed are--
- The shifting of priorities of fire.
- Employment of night close air support.
- Employment of special munitions (illuminating, smoke, Copperhead, and FASCAM).
- Priority targets and final protective fires.
- Control of fires.
- Coordination of fires within a zone of action.
- Fire support coordinating measures.
- Coordination within an FS cell as the status of assets changes.
Fire support officers at all echelons must be aggressive in the execution phase of an operation. This requires a thorough knowledge of the fire support plan as it applies to the maneuver commander's concept of the operation. Using the fire support execution matrix when participating in the maneuver commander's rehearsal allows the FSO to anticipate events that must occur at specific times on the battlefield. Thus, he can be more aggressive in ensuring the fire support tasks are done by subordinate FSOs and all fire support systems.
The fire plan must be flexible to meet changing situations on the battlefield. Plans are seldom executed without changes being required as the enemy alters his course of action. The maneuver commander's rehearsal allows for the final war gaming of contingencies.
The FSO must be constantly aware of the current status of weapon systems available for the operation and of their capabilities. However, he must also be aware of the positions, status, and capabilities of the observers who will execute fires. Using his expertise, he must be prepared to advise the commander on the best asset to be used against specific targets and to tell him where observers should be positioned to best accomplish the mission.
The FSO must prepare to handle maneuver requests for special munitions. He should conduct realistic training so he can better advise the commander on--
- The operational time required to fire FASCAM.
- The benefits of firing the mission early.
- The methods of engagement and control to be used in firing illumination.
- The employment and/or positioning of COLTs to engage the enemy with Copperhead.
- The effects of smoke munitions.
Finally, the FSO must be constantly aware of all actions required to put effective fires on the target. For example, he must know what actions will occur in an FA battalion CP and in a firing battery in response to a call for fire from an observer. He must know the response time of other fire support assets. He must know the control means used by FS cell personnel (for example, those an ALO uses to guide aircraft to, into, and out of the target area) if he is to execute the fire plan to support the maneuver commander. The FSO must be acutely aware of the importance of execution and must react to unplanned demands with a sense of urgency.
The battalion OPORD that follows corresponds to the brigade-level order shown in Appendix E. In this example, the fire support execution matrix is the fire support plan for 1st Bn, 22d Inf.
The defensive narrative example depicts a brigade defense in sector.
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