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Military

Chapter 5

Fire Commands

Fire commands are given to coordinate crew efforts and deliver effective fire on a target. Fire commands reduce confusion and deliver all required information necessary to engage the target.

This chapter discusses the various elements of a fire command, other types of fire commands, and crew duties in response to a fire command.

Elements of a Fire Command

The six elements of a fire command are: alert, weapon/ammunition, description, range, direction, and execution. These elements provide the crew with the essential information to engage the target.

Note. All elements of the fire command, except for the command of execution, may be given by the vehicle commander or gunner.

ALERT

The alert element of the fire command alerts the crew to an impending engagement. It consists of the following terms:

  • M2, MK 19, and M60/M240B crews announce "GUNNER." (This element is omitted if the gunner initiates the engagement.)
  • TOW crews announce "SQUAD."

WEAPON/AMMUNITION

The weapon/ammunition element of the fire command tells the crew and gunner the type of weapon and ammunition to use for the engagement. It is omitted if only one weapon system is available. Weapon/ammunition terms are:

  • "MACHINE GUN."
  • "MISSILE."

DESCRIPTION

The description element of the fire command tells the gunner what type of target to identify and engage. If there are multiple targets, the commander designates which target is to be engaged first (for example, "TWO TRUCKS-LEFT TRUCK"). Most targets may be designated by one of the following terms:

FIRE COMMANDS
TYPE OF TARGET TERM
Tank or tank-like target. "TANK."
IFV or APC. "PC."
Nonarmored vehicle or wheel vehicle. "TRUCK."
Dismounted infantry. "TROOPS."
Helicopter. "CHOPPER."

DIRECTION

The direction element of the fire command tells the crew and gunner the general direction to the target. This element may be given using one or a combination of the following methods.

CLOCK METHOD

The clock method is based on which way the vehicle is facing, the front of the vehicle being twelve o'clock. Example: "ONE O'CLOCK."

SECTOR METHOD

The sector method is best used to indicate a direction from the direction of movement or vehicle orientation using the terms center, left, right, and rear. Center sector is always the direct front. Example: "RIGHT FRONT."

REFERENCE POINT METHOD

The reference point method is used to hand over targets near a TRP. It can also be used to pinpoint targets at long ranges using a mil shift from a known point or terrain feature (this requires the vehicle commander and gunner to be familiar with the mil reticle relationship of the optics in use). Example: "TRP TWO."

RANGE

The range element of the fire command tells the crew and gunner what range to set on the weapon site. Machine gun crews should use this element if the gunner cannot accurately determine the range to the target. This element is not used with the TOW. The following are examples of range terms:

FIRE COMMANDS
RANGE TERM
1,000 meters. "ONE THOUSAND."
1,200 meters. "ONE TWO HUNDRED" or "TWELVE HUNDRED."

EXECUTION

The execution element of the fire command gives the final authorization to engage the target. Only the vehicle commander can give the execution command. Examples: "FIRE" and "AT MY COMMAND."

TERMINATION OF ENGAGEMENT

Although this is not an element of a fire command, every engagement must be terminated. The vehicle commander announces "CEASE FIRE" to end an engagement. The vehicle commander has overall responsibility of the vehicle and is still responsible for terminating the engagement.

COMMON TERMS OF FIRE COMMAND ELEMENTS

The following common terms are used to provide instruction to crew members not directly involved with the engagement, or to lessen confusion during the engagement:

FIRE COMMANDS
IDENTIFIED The gunner announces "IDENTIFIED" when he has the target in sight and is preparing to engage. This term is required when the vehicle commander initiates the fire command, and should occur prior to the execution command.
ON THE WAY The gunner must announce "ON THE WAY" prior to firing.
CEASE FIRE The vehicle commander or gunner must announce "CEASE FIRE" when they observe target destruction or when the vehicle commander wishes to terminate or interrupt the engagement.
CEASE TRACKING "CEASE TRACKING" is announced to terminate a TOW engagement during a multiple target engagement. The crew prepares for an immediate reload drill.
CEASE TRACKING,
OUT OF ACTION
"CEASE TRACKING, OUT OF ACTION" is announced to terminate a TOW engagement for the final time. This tells the crew that an immediate reload will not be necessary.
BACKBLAST AREA
CLEAR
Any crew member, to ensure that the backblast area is clear prior to giving the execution command, announces "BACKBLAST AREA CLEAR."
TRAVERSE, SEARCH,
Z, OR Z-PATTERN
If the vehicle commander wants the gunner to use a specific method of engagement, he announces "TRAVERSE, SEARCH, Z, OR Z-PATTERN" prior to the execution command.
MISCELLANEOUS
COMMANDS TO THE
DRIVER

Other commands to the driver, used to facilitate vehicle movement before, during, and after an engagement, include:

  • "DRIVER MOVE UP."
  • "DRIVER BACK."
  • "DRIVER STOP."
  • "DRIVER SEEK HULL DOWN."
  • "DRIVER MOVE OUT."

Types of Fire Commands

INITIAL FIRE COMMAND

Most engagements initiated by the vehicle commander begin with the initial fire command. When the vehicle commander decides to engage a target that is not obvious to the gunner, he must provide the gunner with the information needed to engage the target effectively.

INITIAL FIRE COMMAND FOR MACHINE GUN CREWS

For the machine gun crews, the vehicle commander must alert the crew and give the target description, direction, and execution. He should add the range element if he feels it is necessary to achieve first round hit and if time permits for accurate range estimation. (The range element is usually added during defensive engagements.)

SAMPLE MACHINE GUN COMMAND
Element Commander Gunner
Alert. "GUNNER."  
Weapon/Ammunition. (omitted)  
Description. "PC."  
Range. (optional)  
Direction. "ONE O'CLOCK."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE FIRE."  

REDUCED FIRE COMMAND

If the gunner identifies a threat target, he can initiate a reduced fire command by giving an acquisition report, consisting of the target description and direction. Once the gunner gives the acquisition report, the vehicle commander must confirm the target and give the execution command before the gunner can engage the target. If the vehicle commander is manning the weapon, he may use a reduced fire command. The vehicle commander does not have to announce "FIRE," but he must announce "ON THE WAY," subsequent to firing.

SAMPLE REDUCED FIRE COMMAND BY GUNNER
Element Commander Gunner
Alert. (omitted)  
Weapon/Ammunition. (omitted)  
Description.   "PC."
Range.   (optional)
Direction.   "ONE O'CLOCK."
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE FIRE."  

REDUCED FIRE COMMAND FOR MULTIPLE TARGETS

When engaging multiple targets, some of the elements of the fire command will not have to be repeated for the remaining target(s). The vehicle commander or gunner issues an initial or reduced fire command, including the description for all targets in the order they will be engaged. Once the first target has been destroyed, the vehicle commander or gunner needs to give only the description and execution elements for the remaining target(s). (To engage the remaining target(s) effectively; however, the range or direction may need to be added.)

SAMPLE REDUCED FIRE COMMAND FOR MULTIPLE TARGETS
Element Commander Gunner
Alert. "GUNNER."  
Weapon/Ammunition. (omitted)  
Description. "TWO PCs-NEAR PC."  
Range. (optional)  
Direction. "ONE O'CLOCK."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE FIRE."  
Description. "FAR PC."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE FIRE."  

TOW FIRE COMMAND

The vehicle commander must make sure the backblast area is clear, and that the vehicle is properly aligned for the missile engagement.

CAUTION

The Tow missile should not be fired over the side of the HMMWV.

SAMPLE TOW FIRE COMMAND
Element Commander Gunner
Alert. "SQUAD."  
Weapon/Ammunition. "MISSILE."  
Description. "TANK."  
Direction. "ONE O'CLOCK."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
  "BACKBLAST AREA CLEAR."  
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE TRACKING, OUT OF ACTION."  

TOW MULTIPLE FIRE COMMAND

The TOW multiple fire command is conducted in the same manner as the machine gun fire command, with one exception. After destroying the first target, the vehicle commander announces "CEASE TRACKING;" when the final target is destroyed, he must announce "CEASE TRACKING, OUT OF ACTION."

SAMPLE TOW MULTIPLE FIRE COMMAND
Element Commander Gunner
Alert. "SQUAD."  
Weapon/Ammunition. "MISSILE."  
Description. "TWO TANKS-STATIONARY TANK."  
Direction. "ONE O'CLOCK."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
  "BACKBLAST AREA CLEAR."  
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE TRACKING."  
Description. "MOVING TANK."  
    "IDENTIFIED."
  "BACKBLAST AREA CLEAR."  
Execution. "FIRE."  
    "ON THE WAY."
  "CEASE TRACKING, OUT OF ACTION."  

CORRECTIONS

If the vehicle commander makes a mistake, he announces "CORRECTION," corrects the mistaken element, then repeats all elements after the corrected element. Example: "GUNNER - TROOPS - ONE O'CLOCK - CORRECTION - TRUCK - ONE O'CLOCK."

REPEAT

If a crew member does not hear or understand an element of a fire command, he repeats the element in question; the vehicle commander will repeat the element in question. Example: Gunner: "RANGE." Vehicle commander: "FOUR HUNDRED."

SUBSEQUENT FIRE COMMANDS

A subsequent fire command is used to make adjustments in direction and elevation, or change the rate of fire after an engagement is in progress. It can be given by the vehicle commander or gunner and includes the alert, correction, and execution commands.

ALERT

The alert portion of a subsequent fire command is nothing more than the vehicle commander or gunner announcing his sensing (the strike of the round in relation to the target) (see Figure 5-1).

Figure 5-1. Sensing..

CORRECTION

Corrections in direction are made first, then range. The gunner may omit this element if he can sense the strike of the round and make his own corrections. These corrections can be made using the following methods:

Mil Method The mil method is usually used to make corrections in direction. The commander or gunner announces the number of mils to move the gun left or right to make the rounds strike the target. To use this method, the gunner must be able to convert the correction in mils to clicks on the T&E mechanism.
Target Form The target form method is the simplest to use. One form is the visible height or width of the target. The visible height is used to adjust the elevation, and the visible width is used to adjust the azimuth. Corrections are announced in numbers of target forms left, right, up, or down.
Meter Method The commander or gunner announces the correction in meters left, right, add, or drop. To make this correction, the gunner adjusts his sight picture to reflect the requested correction.
T&E Adjustments The commander or gunner announces the correction in number of clicks left, right, up, or down. The gunner moves the deflection and elevation wheel on the T&E mechanism. The vehicle commander must understand the T&E mechanism and be able to convert corrections in direction and range into clicks in deflection and elevation.

EXECUTION

If the gunner is making the correction, he announces "ON THE WAY," and continues to engage until the target is destroyed or he receives the command to cease fire. If the commander is making the correction he announces "FIRE."

Example of subsequent fire commands:

The vehicle commander gives the correction: "SHORT-RIGHT ONE-HALF TARGET FORM-ADD TWO TARGET FORMS-FIRE."

The gunner gives the correction: "SHORT-ON THE WAY."

Crew Duties in Response to a Fire Command

The vehicle commander, gunner, and driver have specific crew duties to perform in response to each element of a fire command. Once the vehicle commander has given the fire command, his primary focus must be on retaining control and observing the sector. The gunner should take over the engagement and destroy or suppress, as necessary, while giving subsequent commands to shift targets, organizing other targets, and planning the vehicle's next activity. If the engagement is fired while on the move, the driver must maintain a steady platform and move as quickly as possible to a covered and concealed position.

Crew Ready Reports

Ready reports are not required, but are highly recommended. They are used before and after an engagement. The following is an example of a ready report.

SAMPLE READY REPORT

The vehicle moves in and occupies a BP (in training or war), and the vehicle commander initiates a ready report.

  • The driver monitors his gauges, places the GEAR SELECT in the proper gear, and reports "DRIVER UP" or "DRIVER-VOLTS GAUGE AMBER, FUEL RED."
  • The gunner announces the weapon status; for example, "GUNNER BATTLECARRY HEDP" or 'GRENADE" for the MK 19, "APIT" or "BALL" for the M2, or "TOW ALPHA," "BRAVO," or "MACHINE GUN" for the TOW.
  • The vehicle commander makes his adjustments, then reports to higher, "BLUE 1, THIS IS BLUE 2 REDCON," which means he is at the ready condition.

Note. The word battlecarry means that a specific range has been set on the sights for the MK 19 or M2, and a specific range of observation has been designated to the TOW gunner.

The vehicle commander also initiates a ready report at the end of his engagement. He-

  • Looks for changes in his vehicle status (such as, battle damage, ammunition expenditure, and target effects).
  • Forwards this information in his status report or spot report, depending on the unit's SOP.
  • Resets his vehicle.



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