Mobile Mortars:  Fire Support For Every Intensity Conflict
AUTHOR Major Patrick D. Connally, USMC
CSC 1991
SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting
I.  Purpose: To point out the need for a Mobile  Protected
Mortar System (MPMS) to supplement existing indirect fire system;
and  show  that the mortar variant of the light  armored  vehicle
LAV/M,  when upgraded with the 120mm mortar will best serve this
II.  Problem:  Considering the proliferation of  advanced
weapon  systems  in the world today, the  organic  indirect  fire
support available to the Marine infantry battalion is simply  not
flexible enough, responsive enough or lethal  enough to influence
modern battle decisively.
III.  Data:  The traditional role of mortars has been  to
provide  close and continuous fire support for  maneuver  forces.
The  81mm  mortar, presently in service at  the  Marine  infantry
battalion is simply not enough organic indirect fire support  for
today's   contingencies.   Lessons  learned  through  the   years
validate the need to have both organic mortars and direct support
artillery.   There is an unquestionable need to have  an  optimum
blend of howitzers and mortars.  However when budgetary  concerns
necessitate trade-offs, we must avoid cutting into the muscle  of
the  infantryman's  indirect fire  support  capabilities.   Since
hostile  counterfires  remain the single greatest threat  to  our
indirect fire systems, the proliferation of sophisticated weapons
the   world   over  are  cause  for  concern.   To   maintain   a
counterbalance  we  must  have  systems with  the  very  best  in
tactical,  operational  and  strategic mobility.   The  LAV/M,  a
mortar variant of the light armored vehicle, already in  service,
has  these qualities.  When equipped with the 120mm mortar and  a
number of other state-of-the-art upgrades, the LAV/M  essentially
becomes a Mobile Protected Mortar System MPMS.  Maneuver  tactics
require that we deploy highly mobile and protected indirect  fire
weapons  well  forward.  Whether to exploit successes on  a  fast
moving  and fluid battlefield, or to move rapidly  inland  during
over-the-horizon  (OTH) amphibious operations, the MPMS would  be
the most versatile indirect fire weapon in our inventory.
IV.  Conclusions:  The time has come for the infantry
regimental  commander to have a reliable, responsive  and  lethal
means  of indirect fire support dedicated to him in battle.   The
tactical  and  logistical  advantages of  fielding  an  MPMS  are
apparent.   The major disadvantages exist in the  development  of
doctrine  for employment and in the dollar costs associated  with
its acquisition and fielding.
V.  Recommendations:  The MPMS should be organic to the
artillery  regiment  for training and  logistics  reasons.   When
employed  in war MPMS units should be dedicated to  the  infantry
regiment.  With its superior tactical, operational and  strategic
mobility,  the MPMS can provide fire support for every  intensity
Thesis  Statement:  Considering  the  proliferation  of  advanced
weapon  systems  in the world today, the  organic  indirect  fire
support available to the Marine infantry battalion is simply  not
flexible enough, responsive enough or lethal enough to  influence
modern battle decisively.
I. Historical Perspective
     A. Mission and Organization
     B. Employment Past and Present
	  1. Offensive employment
	  2. Defensive employment
II. Considerations on the Modern Battlefield
     A. Combat Considerations
	  1. High and Low Intensity Conflict
	  2. Counterbattery Fires
	  3. Weapons Proliferation
	  4. NBC Environment
     B. Maneuver Warfare
	  1. Fluid Battle
	  2. Mobility
	  3. Depth of Target Area
     C. Special Scenarios
	  1. Low Intensity Conflict
	  2. Amphibious Operations
	  3. SOC/MEU
     D. Technical and Logistical Considerations
     E. Developments
	  1. 120mm Mortar Variant
	  2. Gunnery, Navigation and Fire Control
     F. Organization and Employment
	  1. MPMS Battalion a Part of the Artillery T/O
	  2. MPMS Battery the Dedicated Battery
     Historically,  mortars  have been  considered  the  infantry
battalion  commander's  "hip pocket artillery."   Usually  ground
mounted  and  organic to the infantry unit, mortars are  only  as
mobile   as    their   infantry   operators.    Considering   the
proliferation  of  advanced weapons systems the world over,  the
organic  indirect fire support available to the  Marine  infantry
battalion   is simply not flexible enough, responsive  enough  or
lethal enough to influence modern battle decisively.  The  mortar
variant  of  the light armored vehicle LAV/M,  offers  tremendous
potential  in  the areas of tactital, operational  and  strategic
mobility on the battlefield of the future.  However, the  tactics
and employment of this exceptionally versatile weapon system must
be  well  thought out.  In this article I will  examine  critical
thought  from the past in order to evaluate the need  for  mobile
mortars.   Additionally,  a glimpse at modern warfare  will  help
draw  conclusions  about  the organization and  employment  of  a
Mobile Protected Mortar System (MPMS).
Historical Perspective
     The  traditional  mission  of mortars has  been  to  provide
immediately responsive indirect fire support for maneuver forces.
Organic  to  the Marine infantry battalion,  the  mortar  platoon
organization  includes  eight (8) 81mm mortars, and  is  normally
employed in two sections of four (4) tubes each.
     In  offensive  operations  mortars  have  always  played  an
invaluable  part in supporting the infantry scheme  of  maneuver.
By  providing  immediate  suppressive  fires  which  augment  the
maneuver commander's fire support plan, mortars have become known
as  "hip  pocket  artillery."   An  all-weather  source  of  fire
support,  mortars lend themselves to the attack of known,  likely
and  suspected enemy targets to the front and flanks of  maneuver
elements.   Mortars are certainly one of the most rapid means  of
delivering illumination and obscuration fires during daylight  or
at night.
     In defensive operations mortars have always been the  weapon
of choice to attack targets at ranges between that of the  direct
support  artillery  and the direct fire weapons  organic  to  the
infantry  battalion.   The high-angle of fire and rapid  rate  of
fire  of mortars, as compared with most artillery systems,  makes
mortars  ideal  for breaking up,  disorganizing  or  channelizing
dismounted infantry elements during an attack.  As longer  range,
precision  guided munitions are developed, the value  of  mortars
against enemy armored systems will become more apparent.
     Over  the past sixty years, the U.S. Army and  Marine  Corps
have  experimented with a variety of mortars and  their  mobility
variants.   Included are the U. S. Army's 107mm mortar, 4.2  inch
mortar  and  the Marine Corps'  107mm  howitzer-mortar  (HOWTAR).
Originally  the  Army's 107mm mortar was intended for  use  as  a
chemical weapons delivery system and was eventually  incorporated
into  the infantry battalion for the direct support mission.1  As
speed and mobility became more pressing issues with regard to the
tempo  of  modern  battle, mortars were tested on  a  variety  of
tracked  and  wheeled carriages.  Not only was there a  need  for
mobility of the weapon system, but the need to move ready-service
ammunition was great.
     During  the  1960's  the  Marine  Corps  reconfigured  their
artillery battalions with fewer 155mm howitzers and created a 4.2
inch   mortar  battalion  in  the  place  of  a  105mm   howitzer
battalion.  There was an unquestionable need for heavy mortars  at
the  infantry battalion, but the shortage of direct support  (DS)
artillery became apparent as the 4.2 inch mortars were  regularly
attached  to  the  infantry battalions.  The  Marine  Corps  soon
realized  that 4.2 inch mortars were not accurate  enough  or  of
sufficient range capability to mass fires at distances  necessary
to  effectively  support the maneuver regiment.   Ultimately  the
artillery's counterfire capability had been dangerously  degraded
when the artillery regiments were configured with mortars in  the
place of howitzers.
     The   Marine  Corps  continued  to  search  for  a   lethal,
responsive  and  mobile method of indirect fire support  for  the
infantry   battalion,  and  one  that  would  not   degrade   the
capabilities  of the artillery regiment.  To this end  the  107mm
HOWTAR,  combination  howitzer and mortar, was tested  and  found
superior  overall to the 4.2 inch mortar as an  organic  infantry
weapon.   At  the  same  time the HOWTAR  was  determined  to  be
inferior  to  the 105mm howitzer as a  direct  support  artillery
weapon.2   With  the  improvements  in the  81mm  mortar  and  the
demonstrated versatility of the 105mm howitzer, the HOWTAR  never
lasted as an alternative for a heavy mortar weapon system.
     Hence, during the period 1960-1970, the Marine Corps learned
many  important lessons regarding the employment of  mortars  and
direct support artillery.  Most importantly however, the need  to
have a medium-heavy mortar organic to the infantry battalion  and
a  howitzer-heavy  artillery  regiment  were  points  which  were
reinforced.   Mortars  simply could not replace  the  artillery's
capability to mass fires at longer ranges.  Through the years the
81mm  mortar has continued as the organic indirect  fire  support
weapon  of  the infantry battalion.  More recently  the  infantry
battalion  has been augmented by the 60mm mortar at  the  company
level  also.   Unfortunately, the Marine Corps  has  always  been
constrained by a strict budget and has never achieved the optimum
blend  of heavy mortars and artillery.  It is essential  to  have
both  systems, and the Marine Corps should make a  commitment  to
field the very best of each.
Considerations on the Modern Battlefield
     Since hostile counterfires remain the single greatest threat
to  our indirect fire systems on the battlefield, there needs  to
be an on-going effort to improve the mobility, responsiveness and
lethality of these systems.  Many allied and threat nations  have
already  fielded  variants of the 120mm mortar attesting  to  the
greater versatility of a heavier mortar system. The Soviets  have
equipped  their  airborne units with a tracked,  lightly  armored
personnel  carrier  (BMD)  with  a  combination  gun.   The   gun
reportedly  has direct fire capability out to one  kilometer  and
fires a conventional 120mm round.
     The proliferation of Soviet manufactured weapons around  the
globe, a large percentage being indirect fire systems, emphasizes
the  importance  of keeping our own similar systems  in  service.
Also we must keep moving forward in the design and employment  of
weapons   capable  of surviving on the modern  battlefield.   Even
though  enemy artillery fire during this most recent conflict  in
Southwest Asia was inaccurate, and less intense than anticipated,
doesn't  mean  that  it will be that way in the  next  war.   The
potential  for  mass  destruction of  friendly  forces  by  enemy
artillery  fire  was clear and present.   However,  even  without
having  to cope with the degree of terror and disruption  wrought
by  weapons  in  the  hands of better  trained  foes,  there  was
apparently  not enough Marine artillery to go around.   The  81mm
mortar  obviously  lacked  the  range,  mobility,  accuracy   and
lethality  that was needed by forward infantry units.   Artillery
counterbattery   fires  and  preparation  fires  were   regularly
interrupted  by calls for fire that a heavier, longer range,  and
mobile  mounted mortar might have satisfied.3  Thank  goodness  the
enemy's counterfire capability malfunctioned this time.
     Although  there has never been a single weapon  system  that
completely satisfied contingencies in every clime and place,  the
LAV/M,  literally a Mobile Protected Mortar System (MPMS),  could
very likely approach that lofty standard.  When equipped with  an
NBC overpressure system, state-of-the-art fire control equipment,
and  "smart"  munitions, the MPMS would be an  excellent  way  to
satisfy  the indirect fire support needs of a maneuver  regiment.
During  amphibious operations, including  over-the-horizon  (OTH)
operations;  deep  vertical assaults and raids; or  in  sustained
land actions anywhere, the MPMS would be a viable and  survivable
supporting  arm.   Particularly  during  those  times  that   the
artillery  is  constrained  or  vulnerable,  the  MPMS  could  be
employed well forward to buy time or confuse the enemy about  the
point of main effort.  Such employment options for the MPMS might
include  security force operations  (screening,covering,guarding)
and raiding or delaying tactics especially when the threat of NBC
warfare exists.
     In  Southwest  Asia artillery  units  conducted  pre-emptive
raids   on  counterfire  targets  by  moving  closer   to   enemy
emplacements,   then  rapidly  displacing  to   safer   locations
following  their attacks.  Although the use of  roving  howitzers
and  artillery raids are viable concepts, one must remember  that
the  sound,  flash and counterfire surveillance  systems  of  the
Iraqis'  were  generally ineffective.  The dismal show  of  Iraqi
counterfire was the best evidence of this point.4  Artillery is
a  very precious asset, and in future wars we may not be able  to
afford  any piece-mealing of our artillery support on raids  that
will   be   rapidly  addressed  by  massive  amounts   of   enemy
counterfire.  The MPMS would reduce the need to hazard the slower
firing, less mobile and generally more vulnerable howitzers.  The
MPMS would also have the speed, range, rate of fire and selection
of  munitions which makes it the best candidate for on-call  fire
missions  in  support  of the infantry scheme  of  maneuver.   An
infantryman  must never have to wait very long for indirect  fire
support, especially when in contact with the enemy.  However, when
artillery  must be pulled from counterfire missions and  programs
of  targets to engage targets of opportunity three things  occur:
1)  fire  support  is  slowed,  2)  artillery  positions  may  be
unnecessarily  revealed to the enemy and  3) some artillery  units
may  have  to  move  to  avoid  counterfire  which  reduces   the
availability of fire support  for a time.  Our howitzers must  be
guarded  for  action at the critical time and place  against   the
most  lucrative targets on the battlefield.  The  indiscriminate
firing  of  artillery undoubtedly impacts on the time  and  space
factors  in  battle,  and  in maneuver warfare  time  is  of  the
     At  the risk of over simplifying maneuver warfare  doctrine,
suffice  to say that success in battle depends on the  rapid  and
violent exploitation of weak points or gaps in the enemy's battle
formations  using combined arms action and  aggressive  maneuver.
Showcased in this doctrine is the fluid nature of battle and  the
importance of time, space and tempo in war.  These same time  and
space  factors  place  the  greatest  demands  on  indirect  fire
     In  order to exploit our successes as suggested in  maneuver
warfare  doctrine,  it  is  imperative  that  highly  mobile  and
protected indirect fire systems are deployed well forward on  the
battlefield.   Additionally,  these  systems  must  be  able   to
accurately  deliver both  "smart" and conventional  munitions  at
high sustained rates of fire to augment field artillery  support.
This  point  was  also validated in  Southwest  Asia  as  Marines
stormed  through  gaps in the Iraqi defensive lines  and  rapidly
moved  forward.  The Marines soon out-ran  the  preponderance  of
their  own  artillery  support.5  The fast  moving  tempo  of  the
operation  drastically  compressed the time required  to  deliver
fires.  Forward units faced a target-rich and deeper battle  area
than  could be adequately ranged by the majority of  our  mortars
and artillery.  If we would have had an MPMS, these gaps in time,
space and tempo would have been filled until the artillery  units
were emplaced forward.
Special Scenarios
     Warfare on the scale of that which Marines  participated  in
Southwest Asia is something that we must certainly be prepared to
contend with in the future.  However, in the near term, more than
likely,  the  talents of the Special  Operations  Capable  Marine
Expeditionary  Units  (SOC/MEU) will be needed in  a  variety  of
special  scenarios.   Example  scenarios  include  low  intensity
conflicts  (LIC)  in  areas adjacent to  critical  sea  lines  of
communica t ion (SLOC), noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) in
urban terrain and counternarcotics or counterguerrilla operations
in the mountains and jungles of the world.
     In  most special scenarios there is not much of a  need  for
the  heavier  and  longer range howitzers  or  multiple  launched
rocket systems.  The greater need is for a highly capable  mortar
system.   The MPMS would be more than adequate for  the  indirect
fire support requirements of a SOC/MEU.  For any higher intensity
conflict, Maritime Prepositioned Shipping (MPS) would undoubtedly
"upgun"  the  force  as  was  demonstrated  in  Southwest   Asia.
Deploying  MEU's  would do well to leave their howitzers  in  the
continental  U.S. where they can continue to train for  the  high
intensity  conflict (HIC) with the artillery  regiment.   Instead
the  MEU's should deploy with a battery of MPMS's which are  much
more versatile and supportable on deployments of this nature.
     In support of the aforementioned position a brief comparison
is  helpful for clarification.  The MPMS is its own prime  mover,
it takes less than half the shipboard space and weighs less  than
the  current  howitzer and prime mover.  Unlike  towed  howitzers
today, the MPMS brandishes a high rate of fire and mobility  upon
delivery in the operating area.  Too often howitzers are left  in
place  without a prime mover for long periods of  time  following
helicopterborne insertions.  Again a lesson relearned in Operation
Desert  Storm,  the  howitzer's  massive  ammunition  load   only
complicates mobility.6
     The  tactical, operational and strategic mobility of the  LAV
in most circumstances is far superior to the tracked and  wheeled
vehicles  in  the  U.S.  inventory.   Mobility  is  the  critical
ingredient in maintaining the tempo of the conflict. "Tempo is  a
significant  weapon  because it is through faster tempo  that  we
seize  the  initiative  and  dictate the terms  of  war."7  As  a
derivative  of the LAV, the MPMS would certainly be able to  keep
up with the tactical and operational tempo of the conflict.  The
MPMS is tailor-made for helicopterborne operations, deep vertical
assaults, raids and OTH amphibious operations.
     The  Landing  Craft  Air Cushion (LCAC)  and  Landing  Craft
Utility  (LCU)  are each capable of delivering four  (4)  battle-
ready MPMS's  along multiple axes during surface assaults.   With
its  enhanced  mobility, 400 mile cruising range and  ability  to
negotiate  inland water obstacles, an MPMS is capable  of  moving
rapidly  inland  from  widely dispersed  points  of  entry.  This
clearly helps avoid the unnecessary build-up and delays  commonly
experienced by towed howitzers at landing beaches.   Furthermore,
the  strategic  mobility of the MPMS would provide  for  a  rapid
build-up  of combat power in any theater of war as follows.   The
C-5A can carry eight(8) MPMS's, the C-17A six (6) MPMS's and  the
C-141 two (2) MPMS's.
     The  LAV/MPMS's relative freedom from the complex  logistics
normally required to repair and maintain combat vehicles makes it
particularly  well suited for rapid deployment forces also.8  The
reliability of this vehicle stated in mean miles between  mission
failures  (MMBMF), is unparalleled.  To strike a contrast,  Tank-
Automotive  Command  (TACOM)  reported that  the  Army's  Bradley
fighting  vehicle averages 580 MMBMF, meaning it can run  for  an
average  of 580 miles before it is likely to suffer a  mechanical
breakdown  that  will  put  it  out  of  service.   The  LAV/MPMS
demonstrated an astonishing 5,739 MMBMF in Marine Corps  testing,
and  further  testing  by GM of Canada showed  6760  MMBMF.  The
LAV/MPMS also requires only 0.17 hours of maintenance per hour of
operation which is less than half the maintenance time needed for
the Army's new M-113 armored personnel carrier (APC).
Capabilities and Developments
     The LAV/M presently under development is a turreted,  recoil
mounted,  120mm mortar with a breech load capability.   The  81mm
mortar  variant  is  now in service in the  Fleet  Marine  Force.
According  to  TACOM,  the LAV's only real weakness  may  be  its
relatively weak armor.  Although the details are still classified,
the LAV's  armor is all-steel and sufficient to withstand  7.62mm
AP  (armored-piercing)  projectiles  in  the  front  and   7.62mm
standard projectiles elsewhere on the vehicle.  Direct hits  from
anti-tank  weapons and artillery are quite obviously  a  concern,
but  the   LAV's ability to avoid being hit  through  concealment,
speed,  firepower  and maneuverability is documented.   The  1984
test crews from 1st LAV Battalion discovered that 70% of the time
the  LAV  emerged from combat simulations  completely  unscathed.9
The  LAV/M  fully combat ready weighs 28,200 pounds.   If  it  is
equipped  with the 50 caliber machine gun instead of the  7.62mm,
then the weight increase is approximately 150 pounds.  The weight
allocations for the LAV/M are as follows:
Hull                              21470
Turret                             3625
Crew                               1215
Ammunition                         1890
120mm                             60rds
7.62mm                          1000rds
50cal                            600rds
L8A1 Smoke Grd                          
     Depression  of the barrel from -7 to +85 degree  allows  the
weapon  system  to address direct fire targets such  as  bunkers,
urban   structures,  and  other  targets  of   opportunity.    An
ammunition family has not been determined,  but  all  previous
experimentation  and  testing  has been  accomplished  using  the
Israeli  K6  120mm  family  of  ammunition.   TACOM's  suggested
approach is to develop an ammunition family for the LAV/M  120mm,
but  make  it acceptable for ground mounted  systems  also.   The
family  of munitions under consideration includes high  explosive
(HE), smoke and illumination shells.  However the application  of
special purpose rounds, such as an anti-tank round and  precisely
guided munitions, will be assessed as they are developed.
     Recently,   British   Aerospace   Dynamics   Division,    in
cooperation   with  Thomas  Brandt  Armements  of  France,   have
conducted  guided  firings of 81mm  anti-armor  mortar  munitions
called MERLIN.  When fielded, MERLIN will enable forward deployed
infantry  elements  to engage enemy armored vehicles  at  two  or
three  times the distance of direct fire anti-tank weapons.   The
120mm  guided  mortar round  being  developed  will  be  even  more
capable.   This  round  will have a range of 8000  meters  and  a
warhead  capable  of  defeating main  battle  tanks  fitted  with
reactive armor.10
     Moreover, the LAV/M's maximum firing rate with its turreted
and  breech-loaded  mortar would be 20 to 25  rounds  per   minute
using  an  auto-rammer and a slidifly wedge  breechblock.  If  an
automatic feeding system was ever made feasible, then a 40  rounds
per minute rate of fire should be achievable.11  The crew of  five
(5)  includes the commander, gunner, loader, ammunition  handler
and  driver.   As  this  design  becomes  more  sophisticated,  a
reduction in crew strength by one member is projected.
Fire Control and Navigation
     From  1988 to 1989 the Naval Surface Warfare Center  (NSWC)
evaluated  alternative  methods to improve  fire  control  and
navigation  for  the  LAV/M.  The Marine  Corps  desires  greater
efficiency in both fire control and navigation to compensate  for
the increased speed and variability of the modern battlefield and
anticipated constraints on manpower and training.
     To  improve the capability of the LAV/M to perform its  fire
support  mission  in  a  more timely  manner,   three  pieces  of
equipment  were incorporated into the mortar fire  direction  and
laying  system: 1) the North Finding Module (NFM), 2)  the  M1A1
Collimator and 3) a magnetic compensating compass.  These  three
items   allow the LAV/M to become a nearly self-supporting  weapon
system  independent of normal mortar procedures for  emplacement.
This  fire  direction and laying system is  compatible  with  any
mortar or artillery system that a vehicle might be equipped with.12
     The  first  part  of the system, the  NFM,  is  a  pendulous
gyrocompass and can give azimuth information to align the  mortar
on  an  azimuth to an accuracy of two (2) artillery  mils.   This
means that the mortar can be laid for direction within three (3)
minutes without the use of an M2 aiming circle.  The NFM can also
determine an azimuth with respect to grid north or true north.
     The  second  part of the system, the M1A1 collimator  is  an
infinity  aiming  reference  device  used  by  the  artillery  to
simulate  an  azimuth  reference at an  infinite  distance.   The
collimator  provides the most accurate reference for  laying  and
firing  indirect  fire weapons.  In the past the  collimator was
usually  ground mounted, but a vehicular mount has been  devised.
With this capability the crew no longer needs to place out aiming
reference  stakes  and  can place the weapon  in  action  without
dismounting the vehicle.
     The  magnetic compensating compass forms the third  part  of
the  laying  system.  With this device mounted  in  the  driver's
compartment, nearly all of the magnetic signature of the  vehicle
can  be  canceled allowing the driver to align the  vehicle  very
close to the initial direction of fire.
     These upgrades on the LAV/M allow the mortar or any indirect
fire system to be self-contained systems without any need for the
crew  to  dismount the vehicle during emplacement or  firing.  In
brief,  the laying process is speeded, the crew is protected  and
accuracy  of the mortar is enhanced.  With the possible  addition
of a position determining system the LAV/M is well on its way  to
becoming the MPMS that we need.
     At  present the Tandy PC-6 hand-held computer is being  used
to experiment with gunnery data associated with the 120mm  LAV/M.
The  NSWC has proposed to continue to develop the 120mm  software
on  the  PC-6,  then at a later date upgrade the  software  to  a
militarized  computer with full screen capability.   Full  screen
capability will interface the entire gambit of firing table  data
(ie.  angle  of sight, MET+VE corrections, fuze  settings  etc.),
mortar and howitzer capabilities, multiple guns, multiple targets,
multiple  forward observers, automatic safety checks, survey  and
more.  The 120mm mortar ammunition firing data already exists  in
computer  form for use on the PC-6 or proposed  militarized  fire
direction center (FDC) computer.  A proposed FDC computer,  fully
militarized,   is  expected  to  be  capable  of  digital   radio
communications    and    linked    to    an    onboard    vehicle
navigation/position   determining  unit.13  The  impact  of   these
upgrades  on accuracy, responsiveness and survivability  of  this
versatile system is significant.
Organization and Employment
     The  infantry battalion is presently equipped with the  81mm
mortar  in  a  ground-mounted configuration.  If  there  must  be
trade-offs to enhance chances of fielding the MPMS then let  them
come from someplace other than the field artillery regiment.   If
that  proposal is rejected, then we should configure  our  direct
support  artillery battalions with four (4) firing  batteries  of
six (6) howitzers each instead of the eight(8) howitzer batteries
now  in  service.   This  arrangement  would   also   streamline
operations  and logistics connected with the artillery  battalion
making it better suited for faster moving scenarios.
     Certainly   the   potential   maintenance   and    logistics
requirements of the MPMS need to be considered in decisions about
organization  and  tactical employment.   Most  importantly,  the
infantry  battalion must always have some form of indirect  fire
support  immediately  responsive to  its  needs.  The MPMS  is  the
weapon of choice.  If the 81mm mortar platoon became a victim  to
trade-offs or budget restrictions then the MPMS would more  than
fill  the void.  Hopefully the Marine Corps would strive to  keep
as many indirect fire systems in service as possible  and  take
cuts  and make trade-offs elsewhere.  However, to make  the  MPMS
organic  to  the  infantry organization  presents  a  variety  of
training and logistics ptoblems.  Instead the MPMS should be made
organic to the direct support artillery regiment, but when it  is
tactically  employed  it  would be  dedicated  to  the  infantry
     Under  the aforementioned proposal there would be  one  MPMS
battalion  in each artillery regiment.  The MPMS  battalion  would
have  three (3) MPMS batteries, and each MPMS battery would  have
four  mobile mortars and one command vehicle.  The MPMS  batteries
would be manned and commanded by artillerymen, and the  artillery
regiment  would be responsible for the maintenance and  logistics
details associated with the system.  This arrangement makes sense
since  the  artillery  regiment  is  maintenance  and   logistics
intensive and structured to meet such requirements.  Training  of
MPMS  units  would also benefit by close  association  with,  and
supervision  by, the artillery regiment.     Employing  the  MPMS
battery  in  a  dedicated role  has  several  marked  advantages.
Furthermore,   if  the  direct  support  artillery   organization
continues  to  match  one artillery  battery  for  each  infantry
battalion, then the advantages become more pronounced.  First, the
MPMS  battery  would  be  unquestionably  more  responsive  than
howitzers  are  to  calls for fire on  targets  of  opportunity.
Artillery batteries would also be more flexible and responsive to
the "bigger" and longer range missions for which they are  better
suited.  Next there would not be a need to have teams of  forward
observers (FO) for both the MPMS battery and the  DS  artillery
battery.   Calls for fire from the FO would simply be monitored by
the  DS  artillery FDC, as they are now, and the  artillery  would
remain  prepared  to engage the most lucrative targets  in  mass.
Most importantly, the infantry regimental commander would have  a
formidable indirect fire asset dedicated to him to supplement his
artillery  support.  In this way he would be able to  weight  his
main  effort on the battlefield as he saw fit  without  degrading
his  artillery support.  Finally, our deploying  SOC/MEU's  would
have the most responsive fire support available today.
     History shows that there is a need to have close  continuous
fire support for maneuvering infantry.  The 81mm mortar is simply
not   enough   organic   indirect  fire   support   for   today's
contingencies,  and the field artillery is not responsive  enough
to   make  the  difference  in  most  scenarios.   There  is   an
unquestionable  need  to have an optimum blend of  howitzers  and
mortars.  However, when budgetary concerns necessitate trade-offs
we  must  avoid  cutting into the  muscle  of  the  infantryman's
indirect fire support.
     The proliferation of sophisticated indirect fire systems the
world  over suggests that we must maintain a  counter-balance  in
weapons technology and in the tactical, operational and strategic
employment of those systems.
     The Marine Corps needs a versatile and highly mobile  means
of indirect fire support for its maneuvering regiments especially
when the artillery is constrained or vulnerable.  LAV/M a  mortar
variant  of the light armored vehicle has already  been  fielded.
This system is a step in the right direction because it is highly
mobile and has been equipped with an 81mm mortar.  When  equipped
with  120mm  mortar  and  a  number  of  other   state-of-the-art
upgrades,  the LAV/M is essentially the Mobile  Protected  Mortar
System (MPMS) that will best meet the challenges of the future.
     The  time has come for the infantry regimental commander  to
have  a  reliable, responsive and lethal means of  indirect  fire
support dedicated to him in battle.  With its superior  tactical,
operational  and strategic mobility, the MPMS can  provide   fire
support for every intensity conflict.
     1  Kler,  Timothy. "LAV/120mm Turreted Howitzer/Mortar."  Tank-
Automotive Command; Warren, Mich. 1991 (Mimmeographed).
     2  Commanding Officer, 11th Marines Transmittal. " Infantry
Heavy  Mortars and Direct Support Artillery."  11th Marines, FMF
Organization  Test  Program  Phase  I Unit Field  Tests,   Camp
Pendleton, Ca. Dec. 1960. (Monograph 1960).
     3  Interview with Captain Thomas J. Connally, S-3A, 11th Mar,
1st Mar Div., March 15, 1991.
     4  Humble,  LtCol, G-3, 1st Mar Div. "1st  Marine  Division
Operations  in  Southwest  Asia."  Quantico,  Va.  MCCDC,   1991.
(Lecture presented at the Command and Staff College, MCCDC).
     5  Ibid. Humble.
     6  Mazzara, Andrew F. LtCol USMC, "Artillery in  the  Desert
1991 Report #1,"  Marine Corps Gazette, April 1991, pp.53-55.
     7  U.S. Marine Corps Doctrine, "Campaign  Demands  Strategic
Aims," Marines, 20 Jan.  1991, pp.22-25.
     8  Segal, David  "Whatever Happened to  Rapid  Deployment?"
Armed Forces Journal International, March 1991, pp,39-40.
     9  Ibid.
     10  Foss,  Chris  F. "Merlin Development  Still  on  Line."
Jane's Defence Weekly,  (26 Nov. 1988), 1349.
     11 Ibid. Kler.
     12  Bambi,  Robert,  "LAV 8lmm/120mm Fire  Control  &  Fire
Direction  Point Paper." (Unpublished Paper of the Naval Surface
Warfare Center), Sept. 1989.
     l3  Lorenzo, John M. Jr. "Mortar FDC Software and  Computer
Point  Paper." (Unpublished Paper of the Naval  Surface  Warfare
Center), Sept. 1989.
Bambi,  Robert.  "LAV 81mm/120mm Fire Control  &  Fire  Direction
     Point  Paper."  (Unpublished  Paper  of  the  Naval  Surface
     Warfare Center.), Sept. 1989.
Commanding  Officer,  11th Marines Transmittal.  "Infantry  Heavy
     Mortar   and   Direct  Support  Artillery."   11th Marines, FMF
     organization  Test  Program  Phase  I Unit Field  Tests,   Camp
     Pendleton, Ca., Dec. 1960. (Monograph 1960).
Foss, Chris F. "Merlin Development Still on Line." Jane's Defence
     Weekly, (26 Nov 1988), 1349.
Humble,  LtCol.,  G-3 1st Marine Division. "1st  Marine  Division
     Operations in Southwest Asia." Quantico, Va.,1991. (Lecture to
     Command and Staff College, MCCDC).
Interview  with Captain Thomas J. Connally USMC, S-3A, 11th  Mar,
     1st Mar Div., March 15, 1991.
Kler,   Timothy.  "LAV/120mm  Turreted  Howitzer/Mortar."  Tank
     Automotive Command; Warren Mich.,1991. (Mimeographed).
Lorenzo,  John  M. Jr. "Mortar FDC Software  and  Computer  Point
     Paper."   (Unpublished  Paper  of  the  Naval   Surface   Warfare
     Center. ), Sept.1989.
Mazzara,  Andrew  F. LtCol USMC. "Artillery in  the  Desert  1991
     Report #1." Marine Corps Gazette, April 1991, pp. 53-55.
Rozman, Thomas R. LtCol USA. "Organic Indirect Fire in the  Heavy
     Maneuver Force." Infantry. (March-April 1990), 18-20.
Segal,  David.  "Whatever Happened to  Rapid  Deployment?"  Armed
     Forces Journal International, March 1991, pp.39,40.
Thomas, Jim. "Mortar Ammunition, M374 (series) and M821  (series)
     Equivalence,"  P.M.  Mortars, Picatinny Arsenal,  Sept.  1989.
     (Report to MCRDAC,MCCDC, Quantico, Va.).
U.S.  Marine Corps Doctrine, "Campaign Demands  Strategic  Aims."
     Marines, 20 Jan. 1991, pp. 22-25.

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