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CHAPTER 2

FUNDAMENTALS OF ANTIARMOR UNIT EMPLOYMENT

Using the fundamentals of antiarmor unit employment increases the probability of destroying targets and enhances the survivability of the antiarmor elements. The fundamentals are discussed in the following paragraphs.

2-1. PROVIDE MUTUAL SUPPORT

Because of their assigned tasks, their relative positions (with respect to each other and the enemy), and their inherent capabilities, units give mutual support to each other. Mutual support is established by employing the TOW by section and by overlapping sectors of fire between sections.

  1. Employing by Section. Employment of TOW by section (Figure 2-1) establishes mutual support between two squads. If one squad is attacked or forced to displace, the other squad can continue to cover the assigned sector. To achieve this, the squads position themselves so that fires directed at one squad do not suppress the other squad.
  2. Figure 2-1. Employment by section.

  3. Overlapping Sectors of Fire. Overlapping sectors of fire (Figure 2-2) is essential to mutual support. It must be accomplished with primary, alternate, or secondary sectors of fire.

Figure 2-2. Overlapping sectors of fire.

2-2. PROVIDE SECURITY

Antiarmor units are vulnerable to attack by dismounted infantry. To protect antiarmor units, position them near friendly infantry units. Antiarmor squads do not need to be in the same place as infantry, but the infantry should be able to cover dismounted avenues of approach to the antiarmor positions. When moving with infantry, antiarmor units provide their own local security.

2-3. STRIVE FOR FLANK SHOTS

Antiarmor squads and sections should be positioned to engage tanks from the flank (Figure 2-3). Frontal shots at enemy armor are less desirable because--

  • A tank's armor protection is greatest in the front.

  • A tank's firepower and crew are normally oriented to the front.

  • Frontal engagement increases the chance of detection and suppression.

  • A tank is a bigger target from the flank.

Figure 2-3. Engage from the flank.

2-4. USE TOW STANDOFF

An advantage of a TOW over a tank's main gun is its accuracy beyond 2,000 meters (main gun effective range). The accuracy of a tank's main gun decreases with increased range while that of a TOW does not. Positioning TOW to exploit its maximum range decreases vulnerability to detection and return fire. This range advantage, called standoff, is the difference between the tank's maximum effective range and the TOW's maximum range (Figure 2-4). At its maximum range of 3,750 meters, a TOW 2 has a 1,750-meter standoff advantage against a tank with maximum effective range of about 2,000 meters.

Figure 2-4. Standoff range.

NOTE: The T-64B and T-80 Soviet main battle tank can fire ATGM through their main gun tubes. The postulated range is 4 kilometers, in which case the standoff does not exist. Threat armored vehicles can also fire HE to suppress TOW gunners at ranges greater than 2,000 meters.

2-5. USE COVER AND CONCEALMENT

  1. Cover is protection from the fire of enemy weapons and from enemy observation ( Figures 2-5 and 2-6). It may be natural or man-made.

      (1) Natural cover includes--

      • Reverse slopes.
      • Ravines.
      • Hollows.

      (2) Man-made cover includes--

      • Fighting positions.
      • Walls.
      • Rubble.
      • Craters.

    Figure 2-5. Cover.

    Figure 2-6. Reverse slope.

  2. Concealment is protection from observation (Figure 2-7). Concealment hides a soldier, unit, or position from ground and aerial observers and gunners. Concealment includes not only camouflage but also light, noise, movement, and odor discipline. With recent improvements in night vision and other detection devices, darkness alone does not constitute concealment. Leaders must choose inconspicuous positions that avoid skylining the launcher.

    Figure 2-7. Concealment.

  3. Cover and concealment are critical to the survival of antiarmor weapons systems. The TOW system has several inherent weaknesses (long time of flight, slow rate of fire, distinctive signature, gunner exposed during tracking [except ITV]). The effects of the weaknesses can be reduced through cover and concealment. Leaders should look for terrain that affords good cover and concealment. Conspicuous terrain features, such as lone buildings or trees, hilltops, and other obvious positions, should be avoided. To further reduce vulnerability to enemy fire, antiarmor weapons should be dispersed laterally and in depth so that no two weapons can be suppressed at the same time by a single weapon. If possible, antiarmor squads should be at least 300 meters apart (Figure 2-8).
  4. These aspects of cover and concealment also apply to movement and the selection of routes.

    Figure 2-8. Dispersion between squads.

2-6. EMPLOY IN DEPTH

Antiarmor fire should be employed in depth. In the offense, routes and firing positions should be selected to support the forward movement of attacking units. In the defense, antiarmor squads may be either forward initially and moved to in-depth positions as the enemy closes; or, they may be positioned initially in depth.

2-7. EMPLOY AS PART OF A COMBINED ARMS TEAM

Skillful integration of infantry, engineer, and indirect-fire assets will significantly improve the survivability and lethality of antiarmor units.

  1. Infantry is needed to provide local security, to emplace obstacles (wire, mines), and to engage dismounted infantry and armor.

  2. Engineer assets assist in shaping the engagement area by emplacing obstacles that slow or temporarily stop the enemy. This increases the enemy's time in the kill zone and causes him to present a flank shot as he maneuvers around an obstacle.

  3. Indirect fires (artillery and mortars) are used to slow the enemy rate of advance, break up formations, cause vehicles to button up, and suppress accompanying artillery and ATGM. They are also used to help conceal friendly launch signatures and cover the movement of TOW squads from one position to another. TOW platoon leaders can request indirect fires by contacting either the battalion mortar platoon or the direct support artillery battalion. Frequencies, call signs, and priorities of fire must be coordinated.



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