FIRE SUPPORT PLANNING, PREPARATION, AND EXECUTION
Fire support planning ensures that all available FS assets are employed in concert with your scheme of maneuver. During the planning process, you and your FSCOORD or FSO determine how fire support can support your battle plan. The DS battalion commander (FSCOORD) cannot be at the brigade HQ continuously. His assistant, the brigade FSO, serves as a full-time liaison between the DS artillery battalion and the maneuver brigade. A dialogue between you and your FSO must take place. Each time you sit down with your S3 to discuss current or future plans, concepts, or COA, your FSO should be present. The FSO's effectiveness is predicated on you including him in your staff planning process. This chapter focuses on the key aspects of planning, preparing, and executing your fire plan.
Top-down fire planning gives the maneuver brigade an FA plan that focuses the FS effort exactly where the combined arms commander intends to fight the battle. It provides guidance, allocates resources, assigns target execution responsibility, and fully supports the combined arms commander's scheme of maneuver.
Fire support planning is the
continuing process of analyzing, allocating, and scheduling fire
support. It determines how fire support will be used, what types
of targets will be attacked (decide), what collection assets
are available to acquire and track the targets (detect/track),
what assets will be used to attack the target (deliver),
and what assets are available to verify (assess) effects
on the target. The goal is to effectively integrate fire support
into battle plans to optimize combat power. Planning must be flexible
to accommodate unexpected and rapid changes. It anticipates the
massing of FS assets, changes in the force's mission, realistic
movement times, resupply, target acquisition, technical support,
and unit replacement.
Formal fire planning is conducted
through a deliberate top-down process, with bottom-up refinement.
An advantage of top-down fire planning is that the concept for
fire support is developed early, which allows the artillery and
brigade staffs to plan concurrently. Additionally, the most experienced
field artillerymen in the force, the FSCOORD and the brigade FSO, develop the initial fire
plan. In high-tempo operations, the top-down fire planning process
provides a workable plan in a relatively short time. Finally,
top-down fire planning allows the artillery battalion the planning
and preparation time needed to support the fire plan.
The concept of top-down fire
planning is simple. Planning originates at the higher levels and
is refined at the lower levels. The plan, in its completed form,
has a limited number of FA targets.
The brigade fire plan contains
only those targets the FSCOORD thinks are essential to support
the commander's intent. The remaining targets are allocated to
the task forces, according to priorities for FA support. The TF
commander plans targets to support his plan on the basis of the
targets he was allocated by brigade. Any remaining artillery targets
may be further allocated down to the companies. Mortar targets
are allocated by the TF commander and FSO in the same manner in
which the brigade allocated their artillery targets.
By limiting the number of
targets in the total plan, we focus our fires on meaningful targets,
increase the level of detail, and provide the FA battalion's FDC
with a manageable number of targets. The brigade assigns target
execution responsibility down to specific task forces. The TF
commander must then assign responsibility within his command.
Primary and backup observers must be identified.
Critical to the success of
your top-down fire planning is the concept of bottom-up refinement.
During the decision-making process, targets are planned on the
basis of map spots and situational templates. Targets must be
refined on the basis of such things as the reconnaissance effort,
actual occupation of the terrain, and updated intelligence.
In a mechanized environment, most battles are decided in the first 90 minutes. The number of "killer" fire missions your artillery can shoot during this period is limited as shown below (in a perfect world). When the factors normally affecting artillery units are considered, the number of "killer" fire missions is further reduced as shown below (in reality).
Looking at the fire plan from
this perspective, your targeting effort must focus on critical
events to accomplish your intent.
|...IN A PERFECT WORLD|
TOTAL BN 3s AVAILABLE lN 1 HOUR: 10 MISSIONS .
COMM PROBLEMS...EW THREAT
1 MINUTE SHIFT TIME FOR 155-MM HOWITZER
TOTAL BN 3s AVAILABLE IN 1 HOUR: 5 TO 7 MISSIONS
fire planning is conducted throughout the tactical decision-making
process. The considerations listed below illustrate how to integrate
fire support into the tactical decision-making process.
preparation of the battlefield, while not a separate step in the
tactical decision-making process, warrants special consideration.
The IPB affects FS planning in the following ways:
- Situational templates are
the start point for the targeting effort. Poor templates used
in the war-gaming process result in poor targeting.
- High-value targets are developed
initially from doctrinal templates and refined by the situation
templates. HVTs are those assets that the enemy commander requires
to successfully complete his mission. During the war-gaming process,
discussed later in this chapter, HPTs are identified. HPTs are
those HVTs that must be acquired and successfully attacked for
the success of your mission.
- Targets generated during the
IPB process are included in the initial stages of the top-down
fire planning process.
During the mission analysis
phase, your FSO must accomplish several tasks. He should call
the DS battalion and give them a warning order. He should provide
an FS estimate.
In addition to the normal
information in the warning order sent to the DS battalion, the
brigade FSO should provide the brigade staff's planning time line.
This allows the DS battalion S3 to get in early on the staff planning
process. This will facilitate concurrent planning by the DS battalion.
When developing the FS estimate,
the FSO must consider the following areas :
- Availability of firing units.
How many tubes of what type are available for the upcoming operation?
- Maintenance or combat losses.
What is the likelihood of getting any tubes back in time for H-hour?
- Allocation of FS assets. What
FS assets were allocated by the higher HQ for the upcoming operation?
- Ammunition considerations.
Field artillery ammunition requirements place the most demands
on transportation assets in the brigade. Providing the right types
and quantities of ammunition to the artillery on time requires
extraordinary planning. Early in the planning process, determine- -
° Ammunition shortfalls.
° Availability of ammunition.
° Availability of transportation support.
The status of the COLT and
FISTS must be determined. This applies to both personnel and equipment,
especially the FISTV. Determine the following:
- Can shortages be organized
and placed in the most critical areas?
- Is the FISTV a high-maintenance priority?
The OH-58D helicopter is an important consideration in mission analysis. The need for this asset must be identified early and requested to the division. Again, this helicopter is no longer an FS asset and must be coordinated externally with the aviation brigade.
completed the estimate process, the brigade staff comes together
with you and briefs their estimates. After the mission analysis
briefing, you issue your guidance to initiate the development
of COAs. Your guidance at this stage is critical to develop a
viable FS plan that supports your overall intent. It should include
- Attack criteria.
- Engagement criteria. This
is the size and type of units you want engaged at different points
in the battle.
- Priorities for target engagement.
This is when the high-payoff targets are prioritized.
- Guidance for special munitions
(illumination, smoke, Copperhead, FASCAM).
- Specify how, when, and where
fire support should be employed in the development of COAs.
Consider having your FSO give
you a backbrief to ensure your guidance was clearly understood.
(For additional information on backbriefs, see
As the combined arms commander,
you must decide what effect fire support must have on a particular
target. Most important is the interpretation of terminology. The
maneuver definition of destruction is much different than the
definition of the field artillery. As stated in Chapter 2, articulate
your desired effects in exact numbers by vehicle type or unit
size. The three types of artillery effects are as follows:
- Destruction -to artillerymen,
destruction equates to 30 percent casualties. This may not guarantee
achievement of the maneuver commander's intent. The surviving
70 percent may still influence the battle. Destroy should mean
the target is rendered permanently combat ineffective. Destruction
missions are expensive in time and ammunition. The FSCOORD and
commander must have a mutual understanding of the desired effects.
Key questions should address the size and type of unit the commander
desires destroyed. Consider whether neutralization or suppression
may be more efficient. With Copperhead, however, destruction of
HPTs is feasible attack guidance.
- Neutralization -FM 101-5-1 definition of neutralization leads the commander to understand
the target will not be able to interfere with a particular operation.
Neutralization renders the target ineffective or unusable for
a temporary period, pending repair or reconstitution. The element
of timing requires mutual understanding between the FSCOORD and
commander. Damage of 10 percent or more to a target that is repairable
within 12 to 24 hours may meet a brigade commander's guidance
but may not establish the conditions for division success. Key
questions the FSCOORD or FSO must ask are when and how
long does the commander want the target rendered incapable
- Suppression -suppression
is used to prevent effective fire on friendly forces. It is typically
used to support a specified movement of forces. Exercise observations
reveal a tendency to use one round volleys to suppress a target.
This is normally insufficient to provide suppression for an action
or move that lasts more than a few minutes. The FSCOORD or FSO
must ask the commander when and how long he desires the target
to be suppressed.
Another solution is for you
to describe what you want fire support to accomplish in order
of priority. Usually, this will be a menu of choices that eventually
exceeds the capabilities of the assets available. The FSCOORD
or FSO then has the responsibility to draw the cut line and tell
you what you cannot have. Through a process of give and take,
the list will be refined, and the fire supporters can put the
artillery, mortars, NGF, and CAS where you want them. Additionally,
effectiveness cannot be measured in number of tanks or BMPs (amphibious
infantry combat vehicles) destroyed. If your guidance was to suppress,
then success should be measured in effective missions not battle
damage assessment (BDA).
Course of action development
should not be limited to field artillery but should consider all
FS systems. The FSO must develop the COAs with the maneuver S3
if the synchronization of maneuver and fire support is to be maximized.
The repositioning of artillery and other FS assets must be determined
so that the operating tempo (OPTEMPO) is maintained without a
degradation of fire support.
Early on, the DS battalion
needs to have cleared land so they can start reconnaissance and
movement. Terrain management considerations must include the following:
- Locations of delivery units,
radars, TOCs, and trains.
- Movement routes and times.
- Supply routes.
A technique to reduce coordination
for position areas is to develop an overlay which identifies the
- Areas that require no coordination
- Areas that require coordination
before they are occupied.
- Areas not available for occupation.
The enemy counterfire and
air threat will increase terrain requirements for field artillery
and mortars so that survivability moves can be conducted. (For
information on the Confederation of Independent States [CIS] artillery
and mortar capabilities, see Appendix H.) Priorities of positioning
are as follows :
- Direct support artillery
- Reinforcing battalions.
- General support reinforcing and GS units.
War gaming is arguably the
most critical step in the decision-making process. As the staff
conducts the action-reaction-counteraction drill, the FSO is actually
developing the fire plan by placing targets on the map to support
your scheme of maneuver. An effective war-gaming process will-
- Determine the high-payoff
targets to allow development of the high-payoff target list.
- Synchronize fire support with
other battlefield operating systems (BOSs) and allow initial development
of the FSEM. (For an example of an FSEM, see Appendix I.)
- Define critical events for
brigade and TF FSOs.
- Provide an 80 percent solution.
For the process to work, you must have given the FSO guidance
for fire support with which to begin. Without this, he will be
planning on the basis of his vision of the battlefield, not yours.
- Position the artillery. Consider having the DS battalion S3 present during war gaming.
After the proposed COAs are briefed, you announce your decision and state your concept of the operation. The fires paragraph should clearly articulate the scheme of fires. Specificity is the key. (For additional information on developing the fires paragraph, see Appendix I
The following should be considered
for the FS portion of the orders brief:
- Scheme of fires.
- Targets planned and their
- Availability of FS assets,
their status and allocation.
- Priority of fires (POFs).
- Clearance of fires procedures
(if different from standing operating procedures [SOPs]).
- Attack guidance matrix and
HPTL. (See Appendix J for an example of an AGM, and see Appendix K for an example of an HPTL.)
- Fire support coordinating
measures. (For additional information on FSCM, see
- Cutoff times for target refinement.
- Rehearsal instructions.
- Any requirements a higher
FS team will place on subordinate FS teams.
- Retransmission requirements
for communications, depending on terrain.
targeting meeting is a technique used to update and revalidate
targets. These meetings should be scheduled daily or should be
mission dependent. Target acquisition assets are coordinated and
synchronized, and the HPTL and AGM are updated. Key personnel
involved are the-
- Brigade XO -he is responsible for conducting the targeting meeting.
- Brigade FSO or targeting officer -he assists with or runs the targeting meeting. He ensures required FS assets are planned and allocated. He ensures the validity of the HPTL and makes changes on the basis of the respective commander's guidance. He also makes any changes to the HVTs on the basis of updated intelligence.
- Brigade S2 -he ensures the brigade collection assets are retasked after each targeting meeting to ensure the commander's guidance is met.
- Other participants -they may include the ALO, ANGLICO or SALT, EW officer, DS battalion S3 and S2, brigade engineer, ADA representative, brigade chemical officer, and the DS battalion FDO.
Each participant reviews his
taskings, assets available, and allocation of assets to meet the
commander's guidance. The meeting verifies and/or updates the
HPTL (decide); verifies, updates, and retasks available collection
assets (detect); allocates delivery systems to engage the target
(deliver); and confirms the assets tasked to verify the effects
on target (assess). At brigade level, high tempo and austere staffs
make this a very informal process.
The preparation phase is characterized
by conducting rehearsals and refinement. The paragraphs below
discuss these key concepts.
The combined arms rehearsal
is required to synchronize all the BOSs before combat operations.
Any last-minute changes to the operation made after the rehearsal
may cause a reduction in the effectiveness of your fire support.
Key FS points that should
be highlighted during the rehearsal include- -
- Synchronization of the FS
plan with the scheme of maneuver.
- Target execution responsibilities,
to include primary and backup observers and-their engagement criteria.
- Artillery and mortar positioning
and movement plans.
- Verification of the TA plan.
- Fire support coordinating
- Close air support and JAAT
- Verification of windows to
mass battalion fires.
An FS rehearsal will also be conducted shortly after the maneuver rehearsal. Key participants will include the artillery battalion, mortars, all FSEs, observers, and other FS agencies such as the ALO. The focus of this rehearsal is on the FS system from shooter to executor. It should address areas such as- -
- Communications to observers,
FSEs, radars, TOC, trains, and alternate nets.
- Positioning elements such
as mutes, order of march, and movement times.
- Observer locations such as
FIST, COLT, and OH-58D.
- Fire support coordinating
- Target lists and schedules.
- Fire direction such as fire
unit availability, ammunition management, firing data and on-hand
ammunition verified, timings for special munitions, site-to-crest,
air corridors, and restrictive FSCMs.
Refinement of targets is an
essential part of the preparation phase. Initial targeting is
usually based on map spots, which requires the need to establish
actual target locations on the basis of the terrain. Refinement
considerations include- -
- Changing the target locations,
but not the purpose of the target. The purpose of the target was
established during the war-gaming process; changing it dilutes
- Adhering to the target cutoff times. Massive changes to the plan close to H-hour are detrimental to the artillery's ability to successfully support the mission.
When establishing the target
cutoff time, consult with the DS FA battalion S3. He and his staff
have the greatest challenge reacting to last-minute changes. The
DS FA battalion S3 knows best the capabilities of his staff and
firing units to react to last-minute changes in the fire plan.
During the battle, the positioning
of the FSCOORD and FSOs is dependent on mission, enemy, terrain,
troops, and time available (METT-T). Some considerations include- -
- Command and control requirements
to execute the fire plan.
- Communications assets available
to the TF FSO and FSCOORD. These assets must be addressed and
rehearsed before execution.. At a minimum, they will need to communicate
on their respective maneuver command and FS nets. The FSCOORD
will also have the need to communicate on the FA battalion command
net. When not collocated with his supported maneuver commander,
the most critical net for the FSCOORD is the maneuver command
net to ensure that FS needs are being met. On the basis of the availability
of radios in the vehicle in which the TF FSO or FSCOORD is riding, a plan must
be developed to serve his communication needs. The brigade and
TF FSEs provide a critical communication function by monitoring
nets not available to the TF FSO and FSCOORD and keeping them
apprised of the situation.
- The payoff in traveling with
the commander versus being in FM contact.
- The FSOs ability to control fires from your position. His ability to communicate and see the battlefield will determine this.
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