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This chapter implements STANAGs 2044, 2088, and 2875

Being technically skilled ensures you know how to do your mission. Being tactically skilled enables you to survive to get it done. On the battlefield you must be able to--

  • Suit your actions to the tactical situation.
  • Move in combat in a way that reduces exposure to enemy observation and fire.
  • React to encounters with the enemy and survive.
  • Bring fire on the enemy.
  • Defend against air and armor attacks.
  • Call for and adjust indirect fire.


To achieve what the commander intends for you to achieve, you must--

  • Understand the commander's intent.
  • Have a plan for attaining your objective.
  • Be well prepared to carry out the plan.


Troop-leading steps help you--

  • Develop and test your tactical plan.
  • Make good use of your preparation time.

STEP1. Receive the mission by oral or written OPORD or FRAGO. First instructions are likely to be in the form of a warning order. The warning order gives enough formation to allow the unit to prepare. When you receive an order--

  • Analyze the mission.
  • Consider operations underway.
  • Consider time needed to plan and carry out the new mission. Will sleep plans be needed to ensure all teams are on a similar rest posture?
  • Plan the use of available time. Your most critical resource may be time, especially daylight hours.
  • Make a timetable, using reverse planning:

--Identify what must be done.

--Work backward from the time you want your men ready, allowing them time to do each task.

  • Use no more than one-third of your time for planning. Your unit needs the remaining time to make preparations. See also the discussion of tactical and operational planning in Chapter 16.

If time is too short to do the rest of your troop-leading steps in detail, at least do a fast mental review and--

  • Make a quick map recon while sending for the subordinate leaders, depending on the level of the mission.
  • Have the minimum control measures needed posted on their maps.
  • Give an abbreviated order.
  • Cite enemy and friendly situations.
  • Give the mission of the team, squad, or platoon and the concept of the operation.

When you do not have enough time to do even these actions, have the unit move out. Then issue a FRAGO by radio or at the next scheduled halt. Continue your planning as you move.

STEP 2. Issue an oral warning order to your subordinate leaders as soon as possible. Give enough information for the unit to begin preparing for the mission. If need be, issue several warning orders to keep your subordinates informed.

Your unit SOP should detail what actions to take when a warning order is received. Such actions may include drawing ammunition, rations, water, and communications gear and checking vehicles and equipment. Keep all personnel informed of what they are to do and why they are to do it.

STEP 3. Make a tentative plan. You--

  • Develop your plan based on the factors of METT-T (using the OPORD format and the higher HQ order). The order may be specific about the tasks the unit is to do. The time available may be limited. Even the scheme of maneuver may be dictated. But you still must evaluate the mission in terms of METT-T to see how your element can best carry out the commander's order.
  • Consider each factor and compare courses of action to form a base for your plan.
  • Include your concepts for reconnaissance, coordination with adjacent and/or supporting units, and the movement of your unit.
  • Issue the plan, when firm, as an order.

STEP 4. Instruct your soldiers to start moving to the operations site. Allow subordinate leaders enough time for their actions if the element has to move and reorganize for the mission.

STEP 5. Ensure that the terrain where your unit will operate is reconnoitered. At the least conduct a map recon. (A map recon is the easiest but least reliable recon. It usually is only a supplement to other types of recon.) Study the map for terrain features, natural barriers, and other characteristics. Have your soldiers help identify key terrain features. See FM 21-26 for map reading skills. Follow up with a visual recon of the area to be used and the terrain over which you will operate. A visual recon can be done on the ground or in the air:

  • Ground recons take time but are the most reliable type of recon. You see terrain features up close and can note problems not easily seen using other recon methods. See detailed discussion of recon patrols in Chapter 4.
  • Air recons cover terrain quickly. (To do an air recon, show the pilot, on a map, the terrain to be reconnoitered. Specify the type of information you will be gathering. Have one person in the plane track the patrol's route on a map. At critical points, if the aircraft can land, have part of the patrol dismount to make a ground recon while the rest of the patrol goes back into the air to provide overwatch security. If the aircraft cannot land, make a visual search for enemy activity or for the required information.)

Use what you learn on your recon to verify your plan or to change your plan. Adapt your tactics to the terrain and the abilities of your force. If you cannot finish your recon due to distance or enemy pressure, make your plans from what you have seen. Give instructions for later actions in general terms and confirm or change as you move over the terrain.

STEP 6. Complete the plan. You--

  • Add details or makes changes to your tentative plan (as a result of the recon and of coordination with nearby and/or supporting agencies).
  • Identify specific tasks for all your subordinate elements.

STEP 7. Issue your OPORD or FRAGO. You--

  • Make sure your soldiers know the plan.
  • State instructions clearly and concisely (using OPORD format). (Platoon and squad orders are usually issued orally. However, if time permits, they can be written. When the order is written, delete the service support and command and signal paragraphs if covered by SOP.)
  • Have subordinate leaders back-brief the orders.
  • When possible, give the order from a vantage point where your soldiers can see the area in which they will operate. This lets you point out terrain features on the ground as well as on a map. If this cannot be done, use a terrain model or a sketch to help explain the order.

STEP 8. Supervise and refine the preparation to be sure your soldiers are ready to do the job. To do this, you--

  • Use the feedback received from your subordinates.
  • Make sure every soldier knows the mission and understands the commander's intent for the operation. The unit must be able to carry out the mission in your absence.
  • Do not stop preparing when you have completed the troop-leading steps.
  • If there is enough time before an operation, have your soldiers rehearse their actions. Rehearsals build confidence and improve performance. They also allow faults in a plan to surface. If possible, rehearse on terrain and under conditions like those at the operation site. Actions to be taken in the objective area should be given priority. A rehearsal is especially helpful if you will be operating in reduced visibility.


Your last action before an operation is inspecting. Allow ample time for your unit to correct problems. Inspect the men, checking their mental and physical readiness. Inspect their equipment, checking--

  • Weapons.
  • Ammunition.
  • Individual uniforms and equipment.
  • Mission-essential equipment.
  • Water and rations.
  • Communications equipment.
  • Vehicles.
  • Camouflage.

The equipment used during a mission is based on unit SOP and special considerations. The SOP should specify a combat load (see also Chapter 3) and a list of ammunition and equipment usually carried on missions. Changes from the SOP combat load are based on METT-T.

Ensure that your soldiers have everything they need for a mission. Be sure they--

  • Know their duties.
  • Have only the equipment they will need.
  • Are wearing that equipment correctly and securely.

After an operation begins, ensure your plan is followed. But be ready to change your plan if the situation demands.


All patrols have similar basic considerations. When ordered to lead a patrol, start your troop-leading steps. Then--

  • Decide what elements and teams are needed for the kind of patrol you will be leading.
  • Select personnel for those elements and teams.
  • Use your unit's normal organization and chain of command (squad leaders and platoon sergeant) to man the patrol. (The HQ dispatching the patrol may provide special troops, such as demolition specialists, interpreters, guides, military working dog [MWD] teams, and forward observers. The leader's company may provide aidmen and messengers.)
  • Designate litter, search, or prisoner teams, as needed.
  • Decide what weapons and ammunition are needed. Contrast the difficulty in carrying the weapons when dismounted against the benefits of the weapons to this mission.
  • Select soldiers' load-bearing equipment (if not in SOP) and equipment to aid in control, to use in the objective area, and to use en route.
  • Decide how much water and food is required based on duration of the patrol.
  • Designate the combat load based on unit SOP and METT-T, paying close attention to the terrain (most patrols are conducted over a wide area). Patrols on sand and on unimproved roads may require a lightened load. Trailers are usually not taken on patrols. (The trailers are left with a stationary MP element at a rally point along the patrol route. This way extra water, food, and equipment can be picked up when needed.)

All patrols have similar basic actions and events that need to be planned. You must plan a scheme of maneuver. You must plan and select rally points and plan the actions to be taken there. You must plan communications and coordinate fire support. You must have a "recovery plan" if you will be returning with prisoners, equipment, or the like. And you must be certain that the location of the leaders is planned and known for all phases of the patrol, during movement, at danger areas, and at the objective.


Plan your scheme to suit a patrol moving dismounted as well as mounted. Tailor your scheme to accord with the factors of METT-T. Your scheme of maneuver coordinates your movement and fires (direct and indirect) to obtain the most combat power if and when you need it. Unless it is required by its mission, a patrol strives to avoid contact that would inform the enemy of the patrol's presence. If contact is made with the enemy, the patrol quickly breaks such contact and continues its mission. MP actions on contact with an enemy force are reporting and maintaining observation. Harassing fire from crew-served weapons takes place only if the patrol can do so without becoming decisively engaged. MP do not become decisively engaged unless ordered to do so by higher authority. To develop your scheme of maneuver--

  • Select primary routes to and from the objective.
  • Make the return route different from the route to the objective.
  • Select an alternate route that maybe used either to or from the objective. You will use the alternate route if the patrol makes contact with the enemy on the primary route. Also use the alternate route if you know or suspect that the patrol has been detected.
  • Establish control measures like rally points, checkpoints, phase lines, and routes of march.
  • Determine the amount of time needed to reach the objective by considering the distance, terrain, anticipated speed of movement, friendly and enemy situation, and the time by which the mission must be completed.
  • Determine the amount of time needed at the objective person present will decide whether or not to continue to complete the leader's recon and move elements into position, as well as the time needed to complete the mission.
  • Base the times of departure and return on the amount of time needed to reach the objective, accomplish actions at the objective, and return to base camp. (The amount of time needed to return to base camp maybe difficult to determine because casualties, prisoners, or captured equipment may slow the patrol. And having a different return route can mean a difference in travel time.)
  • Decide by what means you will move to the start point. If the patrol is not going to be mounted, then you must arrange for the security of equipment that will remain when the patrol departs. A platoon may want to use its walking wounded to secure the vehicles left behind. (Transport of the patrol can be by a variety of means, even aircraft.)
  • Identify and coordinate radio frequencies and target reference points for indirect fires. Plan fires along the route of march to the objective, on the objective, to the flanks and rear of the objective, and on key terrain in the area of the objective. Fires can also be employed during withdrawal from the objective to keep an enemy from reinforcing its position, conducting a counterattack, or pursuing the patrol.


Patrol members must know where to assemble if they become dispersed. Select rally points either during the patrol or by a map study prior to the patrol. Those selected from a map are tentative and remain so until confirmed on the ground. Look for rally points that--

  • Are large enough for assembling the patrol.
  • Are easily recognized.
  • Have cover and concealment.
  • Are defensible for a short time.

Plan, in detail, actions to be taken at rally points to--

  • Set up security.
  • Account for personnel.
  • Establish chain of command.
  • Decide to continue or abort mission.

You must ensure that the patrol can continue as long as there is a good chance of accomplishing the mission. The plan may call for persons assembled at the rally point to--

  • Wait until a prescribed number of personnel arrive and then continue the mission under control of the senior person present.
  • Wait for a prescribed period, after which the senior the patrol, based on troops and equipment present.

Brief the planned actions during the OPORD.

Select an initial rally point where the patrol can rally if it is dispersed before reaching an en route rally point. Select an objective rally point (ORP) where the patrol can halt to prepare for actions at its objective. The patrol also returns here after completing actions. The ORP--

  • Must be near a patrol's objective, but there is no prescribed distance to it from the objective.
  • Must be far enough from the objective so that--

--The patrol's activities will not be detected by the enemy.

--The ORP will not be overrun if patrol is forced off its objective.

  • Should offer cover and concealment, be defensible, and be out of sight, sound, and small-arms range of the objective.

Typically, during a patrol, the leader selects and announces en route rally points as the patrol moves along its route, or he confirms points that earlier were selected from a map. If the patrol becomes dispersed between rally points en route, the patrol rallies at the last rally point passed.

The patrol halts as it nears the ORP. A recon element moves forward to see if the point is suitable as an ORP and if any enemy troops are near. When the leader is satisfied, two members are sent back to bring the rest of the patrol to the ORP. The patrol then sets up a perimeter for all-around security. When the ORP is secure, the leader, compass man, and element leaders go on a leader's reconnaissance to--

  • Pinpoint the objective.
  • Select or confirm positions for the patrol's elements.
  • Obtain information to confirm or alter the plan.

Before the leader departs he tells the assistant leader the particulars about his absence. Use the memory device, "GO TWA, you and me," for this purpose.

  • G - Going--where the leader is going.
  • O - Others--who he is taking with him.
  • T - Time--how long he will be gone.
  • W - What--what to do if he does not return.
  • A - Actions--actions to be taken on enemy contact by you and the patrol; actions to be taken by me.

When the leaders return from the recon to the ORP to complete plans and disseminate information, they often leave one or more persons behind to keep watch on the objective and report any changes. If the patrol moves out of the ORP as one element, the leader designates a release point where the patrol will separate. Each element then proceeds to its position by its own route.


Plan communications. Be sure radio call signs, primary and alternate frequencies, time to report, and codes are known. Rehearse the signals to be used on the patrol. Signals may be needed to lift shift, or cease supporting fire, start an assault, order withdrawal from the objective, signal "all clear," and start and stop movement of the patrol. All signals must be known by all patrol members. Ensure the appropriate challenge and password is taken from the current SOI.


If your patrol is likely to take captives, you must be prepared to--

  • Use the "five-s-and-t method" (search, silence, segregate, speed, safeguard, and tag) used by all capturing troops for handling captives until they are passed into the custody of MP operating an EPW collecting point. STANAG 2044 requires troops to tag EPWs they capture.
  • Notify military intelligence (MI) or psychological operations (PSYOP) interrogators if you believe your prisoners may be of high intelligence value. EPWs of high intelligence value may be held briefly at division and corps HQ for interrogation by MI personnel. See STANAG 2033 for discussion of categories of EPWs with intelligence value.
  • Be able to transport the prisoners and any captured materiel out of the objective area.

If air transport is used, prior coordination is essential. The aircraft may be stationed in the objective area or the recovery area. Stationing of aircraft in the objective area is based on the tactical situation, the nature of the operation, its duration, and the radius of action for the aircraft. The recovery pickup zone may be close to the objective for immediate evacuation. Or the patrol may divide into small groups to rendezvous with the aircraft at a pre-designated pickup zone some distance from the objective. Plan primary and alternate recovery and rendezvous points.


Mission, terrain, and the likelihood of enemy contact dictate how you move. (Techniques are the same for teams, squads, or platoons.) Move in a way that reduces exposure to enemy observation and fire. Avoid skylining vehicles. Use concealment, deception, and camouflage whenever possible. Terrain is the best protection from enemy observation and enemy weapons. When not in contact with the enemy, most movement by MP on main supply routes (MSRs) is mounted. When in contact with the enemy, movement may be mounted or dismounted. Use hills, draws, depressions, woods, and other natural features to protect both mounted and dismounted elements.

When you are moving in the rear area, plan and carry out your actions so that if you meet the enemy, it can be on your terms and not on his. Use movement techniques that ensure your first contact with the enemy is made by your smallest possible force. This provides early warning and gives the remainder of the force time to react.


Movement techniques are geared to the likelihood of contact: not likely, possible, and expected. You use the movement technique that best fits the likelihood of contact.

MP elements not in contact or not expecting contact with the enemy normally move mounted. In a squad movement, move teams on a column axis (one team behind the other) so only the lead team makes first contact with the enemy. This lets you adjust the distance between teams to support the lead team. The distance between the lead vehicle and the other vehicles depends on the likelihood of contact with the enemy. As likelihood increases, the lead team moves farther out, and the trailing teams prepare to maneuver in support of the lead team.

The distance between trailing elements is based on visibility and knowledge of the terrain. (Recommended distances between mounted elements are for use in flat, fairly open terrain. If you can maintain control and still support the lead element, increase distances. If the terrain becomes hilly or if the view of lead elements becomes blocked by buildings or trees, decrease distances.) In adverse weather--

  • The lead team dismounts and checks the condition of the route for vehicle travel.
  • The rest of the lead element provides overwatch security for the dismounted team.
  • Subordinate leaders each stay in visual contact with the element to their front.
  • One man in the last team of each element keeps visual contact with the lead team of the element to the rear. Movement is usually controlled by using arm and hand signals. For a detailed discussion, see FM 7-8 for dismounted movements and FM 17-95 for mounted movements. See also MP Drills 1 and 2, Traveling and Bounding Overwatch, in ARTEP 19-100-10-DriIl.

During movement each team has a primary area of responsibility. The team's weapons are oriented on this area. Gunners watch this area to give early warning of approaching enemy aircraft. See Reacting to Air Attack, this chapter. During temporary halts when MP teams move their vehicles to" alternate sides on or off the road (in a herringbone pattern that lets vehicles pass down the center of the column), the gunners remain with the mounted crew-served weapons, responsible for defending a given sector.

Meanwhile team leaders ensure communications are monitored. If the halt is going to be for an extended period, the team sets up a dismounted observation post/listening post (OP/LP).


The technique you use for moving while in contact with the enemy is to maneuver. Maneuver is two actions that occur at the same time. One element moves to a position where it can engage the enemy while another element supports that movement with a base of fire. You maneuver to move forward, either to close with the enemy or to gain a better position for firing at the enemy. You also can maneuver to find out more about the enemy, to help you locate their positions, and to determine their strength. And you use maneuver to move away and withdraw safely.

When maneuver begins, the MP leader most often goes with the base-of-fire element and controls its fire. The base-of-fire element covers the movement element by shooting at the enemy position. The movement element advances within the supporting range of the base-of-fire element, taking a position from which it can fire on the enemy. The movement element then becomes the base-of-fire element, and the former base-of-fire element begins moving. Depending on the distance to the enemy position and the amount of cover and concealment available, the base-of-fire element and the movement element alternate roles as needed to continue moving.

You can maneuver mounted, dismounted, or in a combination of the two. A fire element using the MK19 GMG will have difficulty moving dismounted. Maneuver mounted when you are protected from enemy fire by the terrain. Look for covered and concealed routes for mounted maneuvers.

When receiving direct fire, the movement element uses maneuver while the base-of-fire element suppresses enemy fire. If the movement element is not receiving direct fire, it either uses bounding overwatch or maneuvers internally.

Members of a dismounted movement element move based on the intensity of enemy fire. When facing intense enemy fire with little cover, you may be forced to crawl. Use either the low crawl or the high crawl depending on the situation, the need for speed, and the example set by the leader. Crawling is slow, but it reduces your exposure to enemy observation and fire. When not moving forward, place suppressive fires on the enemy. You may need to advance all the way into and through enemy positions by crawling.

You can use short rushes from one covered position to another when enemy fire allows brief exposure. To do this, you--

  • Advance by short rushes to avoid enemy fire.
  • Try to stay up no more than three to five seconds, so that the enemy does not have time to track you with weapons fire.
  • Select your next covered position prior to beginning your rush.
  • Rush from cover to cover.
  • Do not hit the ground in the open just because three to five seconds are up.

Members of a mounted maneuver element move based on enemy fire and the terrain. When you move--

  • Use the terrain to mask movement.
  • Move quickly between protected positions so the enemy cannot bring fire on your vehicle.
  • Dismount when the terrain no longer provides protection.


Planning a patrol's means of crossing "danger areas," those areas in which there is an increased risk of detection, can reduce the chances of a fight. Make specific plans for crossing each known danger area. Make general plans for crossing unexpected danger areas. Patrols should be able to quickly modify these plans to fit the tactical situation. Typical danger areas are--

  • Known enemy positions.
  • Roads and trails.
  • Streams.
  • Open areas.

When moving, be cautious at danger areas. Use bounding overwatch or variations of it to cross a danger area. Decide how the patrol will cross based on the amount of time available, the size of the patrol the size of the danger area, the fields of fire into the area, and the amount of security you can post. To cross a danger area, a patrol must--

  • Designate near- and far-side rally points.
  • Secure the near side.
  • Secure the far side.
  • Cross the danger area.

A small patrol may cross all at once, in pairs, or one element at a time. A large patrol normally crosses its elements one at a time. The leader positions security teams far enough out on both flanks and to the rear of the crossing point to give warning of approaching enemy and to over-watch the crossing element. Once flank and rear security is positioned, the danger area is crossed by a team. The team crosses quickly and reconnoiters and secures the far side of the danger area. The area on the far side must be large enough for full patrol employment. When the team leader is sure the far side is safe, he signals the rest of the patrol to cross. As each element crosses, it moves to an over-watch position or to the far side rally point until told to continue movement. When the patrol has crossed the danger area, the security teams cross and rejoin the patrol.


Usually you will move to contact simply to find and gain information about the enemy. But you may not know exactly where the enemy is. Thus, unexpected (chance contact) encounters sometimes result.

If the patrol makes a chance contact with the enemy, freeze. You must react immediately, giving the arm-and-hand signal that tells the patrol to "freeze." Members halt in place and stop all movement. Do this whenever you or a member of the patrol sees the enemy or hears something suspicious. Patrol members hold the freeze until signaled to do something else.

If the patrol sees, but is not yet seen by approaching enemy troops, and has time to do other than freeze, all elements move on line (some left and some right as you direct) to take up the best available concealed firing positions. See Ambush Patrols, Chapter 7. Let the enemy pass if the patrol is not detected. If the patrol is detected, the first person aware of detection initiates fire.

If contact is made and your patrol and the enemy element become aware of each other at the same time, and at such close range that maneuver is not feasible, you may make an "immediate assault." The troops nearest the enemy open fire and shout, "contact, front (right, left, or rear)." The patrol moves swiftly into the assault. It stops the assault if the enemy withdraws and breaks contact. If the enemy fights, the assault is continued until you can break contact, the enemy can be destroyed, or the enemy breaks contact.

To break contact with the enemy without disorder, the "clock system" is used. It is used when the patrol and a larger enemy element see each other at the same time. The patrol must break contact or be destroyed. The direction the patrol is moving is always 12 o'clock. When contact is made, the leader shouts a direction and distance to move--for example, "4 o'clock, 300." This tells the patrol to move in the direction of 4 o'clock for 300 meters. If contact is broken, the patrol rallies at the designated distance and continues with the mission. If contact is not broken, then another direction and distance is given. This action continues until contact is broken. The leader can also use the clock system to shift/direct fire at a certain location.

If contact is made and the patrol is seen by the enemy before the patrol sees them and comes under--

  • Sniper fire, the patrol returns fire in the direction of the sniper and conducts maneuver (fire and movement) to break contact with the sniper or destroy the sniper.
  • Indirect fire, the patrol quickly gets out of the impact area. The patrol does not seek cover, as they may be pinned down by doing so. By continuing to move, the patrol is more difficult to hit. Use the clock system to break contact.
  • An ambush, the patrol takes immediate action--

--Personnel in the kill zone return fire immediately and quickly move out of the kill zone.

--Elements not in the kill zone lay down a base of fire (and smoke if available) to support the withdrawal of the elements in the kill zone.

--The patrol breaks contact and reorganizes at the last rally point.

--The leader decides after or while the elements in the kill zone are being extracted whether to destroy the ambushers or break contact based on the situation and the mission. If no guidance is given, the patrol's immediate action is geared to breaking contact.

See also MP Drill 4 in ARTEP 19-100-10-Drill.



Fire on the enemy is the key to forward maneuver. When you maneuver--

  • The fire element tries to destroy or suppress the enemy.
  • The fire element covers and protects the maneuver element as it advances.
  • Whenever possible, the fire element moves into its firing position undetected. Fire from an unexpected direction has a greater effect than fire from a known position.

Firing on the move is less accurate than firing from a halt. However, to halt and fire takes more time and is more dangerous. A stationary vehicle is more likely to be hit than a moving vehicle. The team leader decides whether to fire while moving or to fire from a short halt based on how dangerous the target is.

Along with firing the familiar M60 MG, MP fire the MK19 and/or the .50-caliber MG crew-served weapons.

Firing the MK19

The MK19 can be fired on automatic between 0 degrees and 70 degrees elevation. The elevation depends on the mounting arrangement. And you can use the traversing and elevating (T&E) mechanism with the different mounts. The MK19 can be fired from--

  • A dug-in fighting position.
  • The sitting position when tripod mounted.
  • The standing position when vehicle mounted.

The MK19 can be fired--

  • Ground mounted with the M3 tripod.
  • Mounted on M151-series vehicles with the M4.
  • Mounted on the HMMWV weapon platform.
  • Mounted on 2 l/2-ton and 5-ton cargo trucks with the M66 ring mount.

The best firing position for you to use with a MK19 GMG is gun defilade. This position provides--

  • Cover.
  • Concealment.
  • Survivability.
  • Maximum fields of fire.
  • Covered routes into and out of the position.

For gun defilade--

  • Position the MK19 below the enemy's line of sight, but allow the gunner to be exposed so he can observe and fire.
  • Remember, the weapon remains most often on the vehicle, so the gun defilade position must include the vehicle as well as the MK19. (While the MK19 cannot be seen by the enemy, the arcing trajectory of the rounds, especially at longer ranges, allows for effective fire.)
  • Base your placement of the MK19 on the immediate terrain, target location, fields of fire, and the like.
  • Be cautious about using positions within forested areas. (In forests aiming and firing accuracy is a must; the rounds might strike trees at close range and detonate, injuring friendly troops.)
  • Ensure that when firing from gun defilade the driver stays ready to move to vehicle defilade or other firing positions as needed.

When you cannot achieve a gun defilade position or when the terrain prevents target engagement, the next best position is vehicle defilade. This position conceals and protects as much of the vehicle as possible but permits the MK19 GMG to engage targets requiring direct fire or low trajectory (for example, at closer ranges or shooting downhill). When engaging targets at closer ranges (for example, within range of the enemy weapons), the driver must be ready to move the vehicle to a protected position or alternate firing position if the enemy is beginning to bring effective fire on the position. The driver must also be ready to move the vehicle to a protected position when reloading. Whenever possible, the gunner directs movement of the vehicle. The gunner has better fields of observation and knows where the weapon needs to be located to bring effective fire on the target.

Firing the M2 HB (.50-Caliber)

The .50-caliber can be fired--

  • Ground mounted with the M3 tripod.
  • Mounted on the HMMWV weapon platform.
  • Mounted on 2 l/2-ton and 5-ton cargo trucks with the M36 truck mount.

The .50-caliber provides single-shot or automatic fire. You must adjust the headspace and timing. You can fire from--

  • A dug-in fighting position.
  • The prone position when tripod mounted.
  • The standing position when vehicle mounted.

Three techniques of fire may be used with the .50 caliber:

  • Direct laying.
  • Overhead fire.
  • Gun defilade.

Direct laying is the simplest and most effective technique. For direct laying, align the sights of the gun on the target and fire.

Overhead fire is delivered over the heads of friendly troops. When firing overhead--

  • Ensure all members of the gun crew are aware of the location of friendly troops.
  • Make sure the range from gun to the target is between 350 and 850 meters.
  • Be sure the rate of fire is 40 rounds per minute or less.
  • Do not fire through trees.
  • If possible, notify friendly troops that fire is to be delivered over them.

Gun defilade for the .50-caliber is the same as for the MK19. See also MP Drills 5, 6, and 7 in ARTEP 19-100-10-Drill for dismounting and placing into action the M60 MG, the MK19, and the .50-caIiber MG.

Firing At One Target Or Many

Point fire is directed against a particular target like a machine gun position. All troops fire at the same target. Spreading out the base-of-fire element makes this type of fire particularly effective because the fire is directed from many sources. When the leader wants the fire element to engage a specific target, he either communicates directly or uses prearranged signals to let the rest of the unit know the target's location. He may use radio to direct the base-of-fire element, because radio offers immediate voice communication. Also, he can adjust fires from reference points or landmarks by radio. For example, he may say, "From the burning scout vehicle, northwest 50 meters, machine gun position." If portable radio equipment is not available, he uses prearranged visual signals, such as smoke or flares. Unless it is being used for some other purpose, a smoke round from a grenade launcher can be used as a signal. A smoke canister also can be used.

Area fire permits you to rapidly cover an entire area with fire even if you cannot see the enemy. This method is used without command. Area fire is the quickest and most effective way to bring all parts of a target under fire. To use area fire--

  • Assign each element in the unit a portion of the target.
  • Distribute fire in width and/or depth to keep all parts of the target under fire.
  • Place fire on likely locations for enemy positions rather than into a general area. If the leader wants fire on a woodline, he may shoot tracers to mark the center of the target.

A rifleman fires his first shot on that part of the target that corresponds to his position. If he is left of the leader, he fires to the left of the leader's tracers. He then distributes his remaining shots over the part of the target extending a few meters right and left of his first shot. He covers the part of the target that he can hit without changing position.

A grenadier frees into the center of his team's target area. He then distributes his shots over the remaining target area from the center to each side and from front to rear.

A machine gunner covers part of the target depending on his position and how much of the target is in range. When possible, he covers the entire team target. When placing automatic suppressive fire on the enemy, the tendency is to shoot high. Therefore, he places first bursts low and works up to the target. The squad leader tells the machine gunners where to shoot by assigning sectors of fire.

A MK19 gunner engages area targets with traversing and searching fire after the leader designates the width and depth of the target. If one MK19 GMG is being fired, the gunner engages the area target by adjusting his fire on the center of mass, then traverses and searches to either flank. Upon reaching the flank, he reverses direction and traverses and searches in the opposite direction. If two MK19 GMGs are being fired as a pair, the point of initial lay and adjustment for both guns is on the midpoint of the target. After adjusting fire on the center of mass, fire is distributed by applying direction and elevation changes that give the most effective coverage of the target area. Usually, the right gun (number 1) fires on the right half, and the left gun (number 2) fires on the left half.

Firing From A Halt

When the fire element is in position, it lays a heavy volume of fire on the enemy to suppress them. When the enemy is suppressed, the fire element can reduce its rate of fire as long as it keeps the enemy suppressed. As the movement element nears its objective, the fire element increases the rate of fire to keep the enemy down. (Gunners providing suppressive fire, however, must remember that the combat minimum safe range for the MK19 GMG is 75 meters, so shifting of fires is more critical and must be done earlier for the MK19 GMG than for other machine guns.) This lets the movement element close with and assault the enemy before the enemy can react. When the assault begins, or on a signal, the fire element stops firing, shifts its fire to another target, or "walks" its fire across the objective in front of the movement element, and then shifts or ceases fire.

Positions for fire elements are located so that their fires are not masked by movement of the maneuver element. For this reason, fire element positions are often higher and usually to the flank of the maneuver element. The maneuver element neither masks the fire of the fire element nor moves outside the protective umbrella provided by the fire. A platoon or squad can point fire at one target or an area of several targets. In both cases, the leader must control the fire. He must ensure the fire is directed on the enemy, not on the maneuver element.

Firing On The Move

Accurate firing while moving is affected by--

  • Terrain.
  • Vehicle speed.
  • The cooperation and ability of the team.

When sighting from a moving vehicle, or at a moving vehicle, or both, you must "lead" the target. The speed of the firing vehicle, time of flight, and the angle of engagement affect the amount of lead required. Time of flight is the time it takes the projectile to move from the firing vehicle to the target. The angle of engagement is the angle found between the center line of the vehicle and the gun when laid on target. When a round is fired from the flank of a moving vehicle, that round drifts in the same direction and at the same speed as the vehicle. The longer the flight time and the larger the angle of engagement, the greater the drift. Thus the gunner must apply more lead to the shot.

If a lead is required and the gunner is traversing left to keep on target, the gunner must lead left. If the gunner is traversing right to keep on target, the gunner must lead right. This is true whether the firing vehicle is moving or the target is moving or both are moving.

Crew-served weapons engage all targets on the move with "free gun" fire. To deliver this type of free, the gunner removes the T&E mechanism from the bottom of the receiver, allowing the gun to be moved freely in any direction.


Enemy aircraft can attack and try to destroy any target they can see. MP use both passive and active air defense measures. To avoid sightings by enemy aircraft, MP use--

  • Cover.
  • Concealment.
  • Camouflage.
  • Dispersion.
  • Early warning (quick recognition of enemy aircraft).

The best protection from air attack is concealment. Enemy aircraft attack ground troops whose locations have been discovered. Give concealment and camouflage a high priority at all times. A sighting of a few soldiers can disclose an entire unit's location, even if most troops are well concealed. See also MP Drill 3, React to Indirect Fire, in ARTEP 19-100-10-Drill.

Early warning gives you a chance to take cover. The warning may come through communications channels, from local OPs/LPs, or from convoy "air guards." A warning can be given by whistle, voice, radio, or any other method.

All OPs/LPs watch for enemy aircraft as a standard duty. In an air sighting, the first person to see an enemy aircraft shouts "aircraft," then "front (right, left, or rear)." In a convoy air guards are given sectors of sky to observe for enemy aircraft. When an enemy aircraft is spotted, the predetermined alarm is given until all vehicles are aware of the situation (could be a horn or hand signal).

When an alarm is given, all dismounted troops take cover at once. Go below ground level, if you can. If the aircraft is not firing, withhold fire to avoid disclosing your position. Allow the aircraft to pass. Stay concealed until the all clear is given. Report through your superior the sighting of hostile aircraft. Low-flying hostile aircraft may appear suddenly from behind low hills, trees, or haze. To gain surprise, aircraft may attack with the sun behind them. Before firing at enemy aircraft you must be able to positively identify the aircraft as hostile. See FM 44-30. If the aircraft is making a firing run on the patrol, take cover and return fire. However, commanders may restrict active air defense when friendly aircraft are in the area.

In convoys, drivers alternately pull their vehicles off the road to the extreme right and extreme left, seeking concealment from air observation. If the enemy aircraft is not attacking, take the same actions as stated earlier. If the aircraft is attacking, dismount and seek cover away from the vehicle (the vehicle may be the aircraft's target). Return fire. All personnel remain under cover until the command is given to regroup.

Small arms may be fired at attacking aircraft during or after the first attack. Fire to saturate the airspace through which the aircraft will fly. Do not try to "trap" the aircraft. For arms firing techniques see FM 44-8. When engaging hostile aircraft--

  • Fire only on command unless under direct attack (being fired on by aircraft).
  • Ensure that direction of fire does not place rounds on friendly personnel, equipment, or positions.
  • Deliver a large volume of fire.
  • Lead a slow-moving aircraft and adjust fire by observing the flight of the rounds, especially if tracer rounds become available, using the free-gun technique of fire.
  • Aim center mass at a grounded or hovering helicopter and a helicopter that is coming directly at your position. Cease fire when the aircraft passes out of range.

Slow-moving rotary-winged aircraft that are on the ground, hovering taking off, or landing are most successful-ly engaged by the MK19. The MK19 GMG's 40-millimeter ammunition is fired at a relatively slow speed and has a high trajectory at long distance. Take into consideration that any rounds that do not hit the aircraft will detonate upon impact with the ground. And be aware at all times of the location of friendly elements within range of the weapon.

Some MP units have the Stinger man-portable air defense weapon. But MP do not have the accompanying identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment to electronically determine if the target is a friend or foe. Thus, as "nondedicated gunners" you can engage only those enemy aircraft that are attacking.


Because MP traverse so much of the battlefield, MP may well encounter enemy armor. Engage enemy armor targets only for self-defense or when total surprise can be achieved. Place antiarmor weapons on avenues of approach to defend against armor. After initial contact volley, relocate immediately. Enemy armor can move very fast to exert its firepower.

The LAW/AT4 provides antiarmor capability for MP teams. The LAW/AT4 is primarily employed against armored personnel carriers; however, it can be used against battle tanks (when fired at the side or rear). The LAW/AT4 is issued as ammunition rather than as an individual weapon. You carry and employ it in addition to your basic weapon.

The most stable firing positions for the LAW/AT4 are the standing supported, the prone, and the prone supported. Whenever possible, use a supported position. It is more stable and aids in aiming.

The best methods of engaging armor are volley and pair. Regardless of the method used, the closer the target, the better the chance for a first-round hit. Aim for the center mass of the target. Armored vehicles' most vulnerable spots are the top and the rear.

The sides of armored vehicles can also be penetrated. Armored vehicles are hard to destroy when firing at their front.


A call for fire is used to obtain fire support from other units. Fire support may be needed in the rear area if the enemy endangers key units or facilities. Fire support may come from mortars, artillery, Army aviation, and United States Air Force aircraft. All MP must know how to call for and adjust fire. To call for fire--

  • The leader tells the radio-telephone operator (RATELO) a target has been seen.
  • The RATELO starts the call for fire while the target location is being determined.
  • The RATELO sends the information as it is determined instead of waiting until a complete call for fire has been prepared.

You may go directly to the fire direction center (FDC) of the firing unit for artillery fire support. Or communications may be relayed to MP leaders, the rear CP fire support element, or, when so directed, a tactical combat force (TCF).


Artillery fire support can provide the rear area with on-order fires to assist in countering Threat incursions. To obtain artillery or other fire support, use a standard call-for-fire message. No matter what method of target location is used, the call for fire consists of six elements transmitted in three parts. There is a break and a readback after each part.

In the first transmission, send--

--Element 1: Observer identification.

--Element 2: Warning order.

In the second transmission, send--

--Element 3: Target location.

In the third transmission, send--

--Element 4: Target description.

--Element 5: Method of engagement.

--Element 6: Method of fire and control.

At the very least, a call for fire must include the first four elements. "Untrained observers" need to use only the first four, and the FDC decides the methods of engagement, and fire and control. Every MP must know that to put indirect fire on a target, he has only to tell the FDC--

  • Who he is.
  • Where and what the target is.
  • How close the target is to friendly troops.
  • Where the target is in relation to his or other known positions.
  • Direction from himself to the target.

If needed, FDC personnel will help in the call for fire and subsequent adjustments by asking leading questions to obtain all the information they need. See also FM 6-30.

Adjusting Fire

You adjust fire to move the center of impact to within 50 meters of the center of the target. Do this by sending the FDC subsequent corrections, which are deviation (lateral) and range corrections. The FDC can talk you through an adjustment if necessary. The burst is moved to, and kept on, the observer-target line in order to get positive range spottings. The observer-target line is the line of sight (an imaginary line) between you and the target. When the range spotting cannot be determined, request a lateral correction to place the burst on the observer-target line.

Make range corrections to bracket the target between two successive rounds. Use the "successive bracketing" technique. After the first definite range spotting is determined, send a correction to the FDC to establish a bracket of known distance around the target (for example, one round over the target and one round short of the target). Then successively split this bracket until you are within 50 meters of the target. Now call for "fire-for-effect."

If the nature of the target dictates that effective fires are needed faster than the above can provide, "hasty bracketing" should be used. Hasty bracketing depends on a thorough terrain analysis to give you an accurate initial target location. You obtain a bracket on your first correction in a manner like that used for successive bracketing. Once you have this initial bracket, use it as a yardstick to find your subsequent correction. Then send the FDC the correction to move the rounds to the target and call for fire-for-effect. Hasty bracketing improves with observer experience and judgment. Fire-for-effect consists of one or more rounds from each gun of the unit firing at the target.

Dispersion of the guns will cause the rounds to saturate the area with shell fragments. To end a fire mission, state, "End of mission," and report the results of the fire-for-effect; for example, "End of mission, three T-62s neutralized, estimate two casualties, over."

Illuminating The Battlefield

Battlefield illumination can provide MP enough light to aid in ground operations at night. Illumination can--

  • Mark targets for close air support (CAS).
  • Increase visibility in areas of suspected enemy activity.
  • Furnish direction to patrol activity.

Illumination is called for and adjusted like other indirect fire. But the method of engagement and the method of fire and control (STANAGs 2088 and 2875) differ. You request illuminating shells. The method of fire and control differs in that the adjustment is based on how much visibility is needed in the target area. If you call for--

  • "Illumination," you will get one round from one gun.
  • "Illumination, two guns," you will get one round each from two guns. They will burst simultaneously.
  • "Illumination, range and lateral spread," you will get one round each from four guns. The rounds will burst simultaneously in a diamond pattern.

The request must include the following initial information:

  • Date when illumination is needed, if illumination is preplanned.
  • Purpose of illumination.
  • Requested time and duration of illumination (for example, three minutes at 2150 hours or three minutes on call).
  • Grid reference and, if needed, height of the points or areas to be illuminated.
  • Method of control (any restriction in time and place before and during operation).



Army aviation provides the echelon commander with the ability to move combat resources across the breadth of the battlefield with little regard for terrain barriers. These units can provide surveillance or screen over a wide area in adverse weather and at night. Attack helicopter units provide the rear area with a highly maneuverable antiarmor firepower. They are ideally suited for situations in which rapid reaction time is critical.

Controlling Fire

While en route to a target area, the attack helicopter will contact the caller on the radio. For example, "1L22, this is 1X47, fire team arrives estimated target area in four minutes, over." At this time, transmit a call for fire consisting of--

  • Target location and description.
  • Proximity of friendly unit to target. The words "danger close" must be included when a friendly unit is 600 meters or less from the target. "Danger close" is required because some types of ordnance cannot be used in close proximity to friendly ground forces. When "danger close" is included, MP must mark the location of their unit. The method of marking should be one that least reveals their position to the enemy, such as using panels or mirrors.
  • Protection of friendly units. Are MP in good fighting positions, hasty positions, or exposed?
  • Direction of friendly unit from target (cardinal direction).
  • Other friendly fire support considerations, including artillery/mortars firing in the area and tactical aircraft (attack direction/altitude).
  • Dangers to flight. Report locations of known or suspected enemy antiaircraft weapons or other dangers to fight (wires in target area, enemy artillery fire impacting in the target area, or enemy aircraft).

When the helicopter arrives over the objective, the helicopter fire team contacts you. Mark the target and state the method of adjustment. You can use three methods to mark the target. You can give--

  • A reference either to a prominent terrain feature that can be identified from the air or to a known point.
  • A direction to the target from a reference point. State the direction in roils or degrees.
  • A reference to friendly fire, such as smoke grenades, tracers, smoke streamers, mortars, artillery, marking rockets.

The three methods of adjustment used to adjust a fire team's fire are "impact observed," "impact sound," and "observer-target." The preferred method of adjustment for an attack helicopter in support of a ground force is either impact observed or impact sound. Once established, do not change the method of adjustment unless the situation so dictates. If the method of adjustment is changed, inform the fire team. When any adjustment is 50 meters or less, the observer transmits the adjustment and calls for fire-for-effect.

When using the impact-observed method of adjustment, the observer estimates direction to the target by using a cardinal heading. He estimates the distance from the point of impact to the target in meters.

When the observer cannot see the point of impact, he may use the impact-sound method of adjustment. For this method of adjustment, the observer transmits, "Adjust fire. Impact sound. Over." The impact-sound method differs from the impact-observed method in that the observer senses by sound, rather than sees, the direction of the impact and makes his corrections accordingly.

Although the impact-observed method is preferred for adjusting the fire of attack helicopters, the observer-target method, which is less desirable, may be used. When using the observer-target method, the observer must mark his location. This may, however, compromise his location.

To use the observer-target method, the observer senses the direction, left or right, and the distance, in meters, from the impact to a point on the observer-target line. Then, he senses the position of the point on the observer-target line relative to the target, long or short, and the distance along the observer-target line to the target. The observer's sensing must be converted to corrections, such as right, left, add, and drop, and transmitted to the fire team. The chance of error for this method is greater than for the other methods.

An example of an exchange of information between an observer and a fire team using the observer-target method follows:

--Observer: "Left, five-zero. Add 100. Fire for effect. Over."

--Fire team: "Roger. Out." (Team commits against target.)

When the target is suppressed or destroyed, the following transmission would occur:

--Observer: "End of mission. Target suppressed (destroyed). Over."

--Fire team: "End of mission. Out."

Unobserved rounds are handled the same as for the other methods.

Reference points visually locate the target. The pilot's eyes are led to the reference point and from the reference point to the target, sometimes through a series of decreasingly obvious reference points. It is much harder for a pilot to find a target than to keep that target in sight. Any reference point must stand out or contrast with its surroundings.

Adjusting Fire

Attack helicopter fire allows the pilot to observe the impact and effect of the ordnance on the target. This simplifies the adjustment procedure. However, you must still be prepared to adjust direct aerial fire. When adjusting aerial fire--

  • Establish a reference point. The point of impact of the first round(s) is the recommended reference point.
  • Adjust for target strike. Do not try to bracket the target. The helicopter crew has direct visual contact with the target and needs only specific directions to fix the location.
  • Transmit corrections.

An example of a typical exchange of information between the observer and the fire team follows:

--Observer: "Adjust fire. Impact observed. Over."

--Fire team: "Impact observed. Out." (Team fires at target.)

--Observer: "Northwest, seven-five. Over."

--Fire Team: "Roger. Out." (Team fires at target.)

--Observer: "North, three-zero. Fire for effect. Over."

--Fire team: "Roger. Out" (Team commits against target.)

--Observer: "End of mission. Target suppressed (destroyed), Over."

--Fire team: "End of mission. Over."

If observer does not see the impact, the transmission would be as follows:

--Observer: "Unobserved. Over."

--Fire team: "Unobserved. Over." (Team fires at target.)

Adjustments continue until the mission is accomplished.


During major enemy incursions in the rear, fighter aircraft may be available to support ground operations by providing "immediate" CAS. Close air support consists of air attacks against enemy targets that are close to friendly forces. To be effective, CAS requires detailed coordination with the maneuver of ground forces. The coordination must be responsive, integrated, and controlled. Typical CAS targets are--

  • Enemy troop concentrations.
  • Fixed positions.
  • Armored units of immediate concern to ground forces.

Close air support missions are flown at the request level of command. They are planned, directed, and controlled by the Air Force through the tactical air control system.

To direct the Air Force support, talk to a forward air controller who, in turn, talks to the pilots. The controller can be in an aircraft, but he may be operating on the ground. In most cases, the controller will come forward to a point where he can see the target. Once he has the target in sight, he can adjust the aircraft to the target. If the controller cannot see the target, you will have to tell him how it can be identified. Also make sure that the controller knows where all friendly elements close to the target are located.

If you are unable to talk to a forward air controller, contact a fire support team operating in your maneuver area. Fire support teams have the equipment to talk directly to pilots of aircraft and they are trained observers for CAS.

Marking Friendly Positions

Mark friendly positions during close air strikes if there is no danger of compromise to enemy observers. This may require only a message saying, "All friendlies are south of the target. Nearest are 500 meters." As a rule, a mark is usually necessary when friendly troops are closer to the target than 300 meters. Marks may be overt or covert. Any marking method that can be seen of ground forces. The missions can be initiated at any or heard by the enemy is overt.

Selecting Attack Headings

A fighter aircraft is more likely to destroy its target if it attacks along the long axis of the target. Once he knows where all friendly units are and where the target is, the forward air controller will usually tell the fighter pilot which attack heading he should use. However, if the controller cannot see the target, you may have to recommend a direction of approach. Remember that fighters should not attack across friendly positions.

An attack toward friendly units is undesirable because of ordnance dispersal patterns. An attack from behind and over friendly lines is also undesirable for several reasons. Some fighters dump empty cartridges overboard as they strafe. An empty 20-millimeter case weighs 114 grams (4 ounces) and hits the ground at 167 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour). An even greater hazard would be an inadvertent bomb release as the pilot repeatedly selects and arms his weapons systems while in the attack pattern.

For more detailed information on CAS, see FM 6-30.

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