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Appendix B


One of the FA battalion CP's most critical functions is to convert raw and processed intelligence information into targets. This process may be as simple as processing a call for fire from an observer who sees a halted tank company or as complex as correlating reports from divisions, corps, and national assets, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together until an identifiable target emerges. The end product, a target that cannons, rockets, and missiles can attack with measurable results, must be the focus for artillery to provide essential support required by the force commander. In this appendix, Section I addresses manual target data processing, while Section II discusses manual fire planning.


B-01. The amount of processing needed to develop a target varies extensively. In AFATDS/IFSAS/FDS/LTACFIRE-equipped units, target data is transmitted and processed automatically on the basis of the commander's guidance and target selection standards stored in the computer database.

B-02. Although AFATDS/IFSAS/FDS/LTACFIRE provide automated target data processing, the ability to manually process target data quickly and accurately is still a valid requirement for the FA battalion. If automated systems fail, units must still have the capability to process incoming information. This appendix explains how target data are manually managed and processed.


B-03. Targeting information (e.g., bombing and rocketing reports) reported to the CP for developing targets will be forwarded and recorded first on DA Form 2185-R (Artillery Counterfire Information) (Figure B-1). It is divided into four portions to report information by block letter to avoid confusion. It should be used as a work sheet to record information sent by voice communications and as a prompt to ensure that a complete report is received. For details on DA Form 2185-R, see FM 6-121.

Figure B-1. DA Form 2185-R

Figure B-1. DA Form 2185-R

B-04. As soon as possible, transfer the information recorded on the artillery counterfire information form to a DA Form 4695 (Target Card) (Figure B-2). An original and one copy of each target card are prepared. The target card is used to chronologically store detailed information for quick reference in manual targeting operations. The target production/intelligence section in the TOC prepares the target cards. To disseminate targets, the original cards are circulated through all elements in the TOC before filing. Information in the header allows the cards to be referenced by target number and category.

Figure B-2. Target Card

Figure B-2. Target Card

B-05. Targeting information that comes into the TOC should be passed immediately to the intelligence section. It will be compared to target selection standards and transcribed onto a target card, if necessary. Directional information that is not associated with a grid cannot be placed on a target card and should be placed on a ray overlay. DA Form 2185-R should be retained until the ray is associated with a target.

B-06. After target cards are filled out, the original should be sent to the FDC, where it is compared to the attack guidance. If attack guidance or other target attack criteria is met, a fire mission will be processed. The target should be recorded on the master target list and, if not initiated by the force FSE, distributed as an addition to the target list. FSCM should be checked and necessary coordination made before attacking the target.

B-07. The original is then sent to the operations element to keep them informed and to aid in FS coordination. The target is then added to appropriate schedules. Ammunition status is updated, if necessary and requests for additional FS are evaluated and sent to the appropriate agency.

B-08. After all information has been added/updated by the applicable TOC sections, the cards are returned to the intelligence section and filed--one by target number and the other by target type, after data from one has been transcribed to the other.

B-09. Each TOC element (time permitting) should keep a duty journal to record major events that have occurred during their shift. Information to be recorded will be specified by the TSOP or the duty officer and will ease shift transition. Examples of types of information to be recorded should include:

  • Changes in target selection standards or attack guidance.

  • Changes in enemy posture, disposition or activity.

  • Changes in FA missions, capabilities, or task organization.

  • Changes in FSCM.

  • Changes in HPTs.


B-10. While a detailed record of information is desirable, peak activity periods may preclude such meticulous procedures. Traditionally, in manual operations, plotting information on maps is a method of rapidly recording and displaying data. Each TOC element usually has at least one map.


B-11. Target information is recorded on the map by using target symbols and crater ray symbols. Do not confuse target symbols with gunnery "tick" marks. They are different in construction and information recorded on them.

B-12. A target symbol is a small cross with information pertaining to the target type and source (see Figure B-3). The upper right portion (Quadrant I) contains the target number (for example, AY2001). The lower right portion (Quadrant II) contains the source of the target and the assessed geographical accuracy (e.g., weapon-locating radar (WLR) and a 0- to 50-meter target location error). The lower left portion (Quadrant III) contains the target description. The upper left part of the symbol (Quadrant IV) is used to record the last time a transmission was picked up from that station, the last time fires were noted from the position or when the target was initially located.

Figure B-3. Target Symbol

Figure B-3. Target Symbol

B-13. Not all agencies that plot targets need to record all information in the target symbol. The FDC only needs the target number and type and occasionally target location errors when such errors force a modified attack response. However, the intelligence section should plot all information to help develop and purge targets. Supervisors should establish TSOPs for required elements of targeting information plotted on maps.


B-14. Plot suspect targets using dashed lines, with everything known about the target included. Suspect targets should only be plotted by elements that are engaged in the process of developing or predicting targets. Suspect targets should not be plotted on maps used to control allocated attack means.


B-15. Directional information is a target indicator and is recorded by plotting rays on a ray overlay on the target production map. The majority of rays will be from priority target reports or target reports from Firefinder radars. While not a high-technology source of information, crater analysis is also valuable. It is the only way of confirming the caliber and, possibly, the type of weapon systems firing into the zone, short of physically seeing the weapon fire.


B-16. Crater rays are drawn starting at the point where the rounds impacted. They are oriented in the direction reported in the shell report. The impact point is represented by a dot, around which a small circle is drawn. The ray is drawn to the scale length of the range of the weapon that was associated with the shell report. If that is not known, it should be drawn to the range of the longest shooter in the zone (Figure B-4).

Figure B-4. Sample Crater Ray

Figure B-4. Sample Crater Ray

B-17. Label the ray with all information available to aid the intelligence section in developing targets. Place the description of the weapon(s) that fired on top of the ray. The description should conform to the format specified for Quadrant III of the target symbol (number, caliber, and type). Take care to ensure that a rough count of rounds, the duration of the shelling and the nature of the volley or individual gun are included in the shell report. Targeting personnel should prompt or query reporting agencies to provide such information, as it can be used to determine the number of weapons firing. In case of a large number of rounds, craters should be examined to determine the number of batteries that massed on the target.

B-18. Label the bottom right portion of the ray with the date-time groups associated with the shelling. If that is not available, record the time the shelling was reported. The number on the right is the local file number of the target information form associated with the ray. This number allows an analyst to refer back to who sent the message and to view detailed information not presented on the ray.

B-19. Color-code all rays to avoid false correlation of data and to accelerate the correlation process (Table B-1). It does not eliminate the need to review the description of the rays before converting the intersections into a target.

Table B-1. Crater Ray Color-Coding Scheme

Heavy (cannon) 161 to 210mm Red
Medium (cannon) 121 to 160mm Green
Light (cannon) 76 to 120mm Blue
Multiple rocket launcher All calibers Orange
Mortar All calibers Yellow
Unknown -------- Black

B-20. A chance for error exists if targeting personnel fail to look at the weapon description. However, the number of calibers in each type of threat weapon system precludes assigning each caliber or type a specific color.

B-21. When three intersecting crater rays are associated with a specific caliber and noted as occurring within a limited period of time, normally the result is a target. Annotate this target by placing a point in the center of the triangle formed by the intersecting rays. It is possible that the triangle could be quite large. In that case, one of the rays is probably in error and the targeteer should wait until another ray or other information pertaining to the location is received. Once a target is developed or a ray is associated with a grid coordinate, transfer the information to a target card. The ray(s) should be removed from the map and DA Form 2185-R placed in an inactive file.

B-22. Post the ray overlay on the intelligence section map. The overlay and order of battle information aid in target prediction and situation development.


B-23. It also is possible to record an independent flash ray (observation of a flash associated with a measured azimuth). Flash rays are difficult to relate to a weapon system (except MLRS) and usually cannot be ascribed to a caliber. They can be used in association with other crater rays and suspect targets. All information available should be placed on the rays (Figure B-5).

Figure B-5. Flash Ray

Figure B-5. Flash Ray


B-24. BDA is necessary to determine the effectiveness of attacks. In the case of critical targets, the success of the operation may hinge on determining if an attack was successful. Certain BDA will be available from organic FA TA assets. The best source of BDA is direct observation of the target, either from the air or from the ground. While it may not be possible to divert a UAV or aircraft to observe a target, critical targets may require the tasking of an acquisition asset to accomplish BDA. This requires the identification of targets requiring BDA during the planning process so that the S2 can request the necessary BDA acquisition asset. For additional details on BDA, see FM 6-20-10. Other methods of assessing BDA include the following:

  • Weapons-locating radars.

  • EPW interrogation.

  • Refugee and agent reports.

  • Stay-behind teams.

  • Captured documents, reports and surveys of captured terrain.

  • Signal intelligence.

  • Activity analysis by intelligence personnel.


B-25. Purging targets is one of the most difficult aspects of targeting. It is heavily dependent on understanding opposing force tactics and having a clear picture of the tactical situation. There is no standard solution for purging targets as factors that drive purging change with the situation and terrain.

B-26. The increasing mobility of potential opponents has led to a reevaluation of movement as a survival technique for those forces. In the offense, self-propelled artillery may move as often as once every two missions for short distances (500 to 800 meters) to avoid counterfire. Command and observation posts in armored command and reconnaissance vehicles can function completely from within their vehicles. Similar vehicles are available for battery and battalion FDCs. These mobile, self-contained targets require that targeting personnel apply short dwell times to their locations.

B-27. Towed artillery and major unit HQ can be expected to remain in position for longer periods. The engineer capability to harden these targets may make them valid for longer periods than originally thought.

B-28. Always consider the rate of advance of opposing forces. Quickly purge forward CPs, command OPs, accompanying FA, and maneuver units if the rate of advance is high. Should the rate be low, purge these targets at the same rate as GS artillery, main HQ and other targets found in the division.

B-29. The dramatic increase in mobility of threat AD assets has made the concept of a SEAD program for close-in AD systems much more time sensitive than in the past. Onboard land navigation and TA systems have given short-to-medium range AD weapons the ability to set up and engage quickly.

B-30. Detailed tactics and terrain-dependent factors that determine purging criteria are provided by intelligence elements that support corps, division, and brigade. Purging guidance should be in writing and posted in the TOC. As targets are purged, the change in status must be reported to every element that maintains a target list or file.

B-31. Purging guidance should be target specific and reflect the time from acquisition to when the target is no longer valid. Delete targets from active files if the BDA indicates the target is no longer operating at that location.



B-32. Fire planning is a continuous process conducted by FSCOORDs and FA TOCs at all levels to ensure that fires support the maneuver commander's OPLAN/OPORD. As part of the fire planning process, the FSCOORD, and/or FSO, nominates targets that support the commander's plan. Prearranged fires are planned to ensure responsive engagement when requested. Although some of the planned fires may apply to offensive or defensive actions only, others are appropriate to all types of operations and levels of combat. To facilitate operations as a part of a multinational force, the US has implemented STANAG 2934 (Chapter 8)/Quadripartite Standardization Agreement (QSTAG) 515. The applicable provisions have been incorporated throughout the fire planning discussions. The manual fire planning techniques for schedules of fires are described in the following paragraphs.


B-33. The procedure for preparing a DA Form 4656-R is outlined below. A reproducible copy of DA Form 4656-R (scheduling work sheet) is at the end of this appendix.


B-34. Enter the type of schedule, the supported unit, and the OPORD for which it is being prepared.

Line Number

B-35. This is an administrative control number. Number each line sequentially. This gives all holders of the schedule a means of quick reference for finding which units have been scheduled and specific information that relates to those targets.

Organization and Caliber

B-36. Enter the organizational information, to include caliber and weapon type, for each unit for which you have planning authority.

Firing Units

B-37. Enter the site and designation of the firing unit.

Scheduling Targets

B-38. To the upper right of the Firing Units column is an untitled portion of the work sheet, referred to as the timing block. The upper portion of the block is used by the firing units to establish time to fire or lanyard pull time, so that the fires impact at the scheduled times.

B-39. Information on the lower portion of the block is based on time of impact of rounds fired. The purpose of the block is to establish the duration of a particular schedule relative to time. Schedules may start at a specific time (H-hour) or may be scheduled on call (start plotting at time 0).

B-40. Below the timing block is a block of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines, called the time matrix. It is used to assign targets to firing units. This assignment is based on the ability of the unit to adequately engage the target as shown by the target overlay. The time matrix graphically portrays time of impact and duration of fires and may refer to a specific shell-fuze combination to be used. This is done by representing the target to be engaged by either a dot (one volley) or a horizontal line (more than one volley). The interval between the vertical lines is based on the weapon system rate of fire and the number of different systems being scheduled on the same work sheet. For example, for a 155-mm howitzer, the normal interval is 60 seconds. Thus, a target being engaged by three 155-mm volleys would have a duration line three vertical lines long with impacts on each of the vertical lines. Another consideration in scheduling is the shift time of the weapon system being scheduled. Shift time is the length of time needed for the firing unit to cease firing on one target and commence firing on the next scheduled target.


B-41. The REMARKS column is used to amplify information in the time matrix portion of the work sheet and to include information for the engagement of on-call targets. A parenthetical letter refers to the amplifying information in the REMARKS column. On-call targets are listed on the line of the firing unit assigned to engage them. Any other amplifying information is listed starting under the last firing unit line. No duration lines or dots are used for on-call targets because the duration of fire is not specified. If a unit is ordered to fire its on-call target while it is firing the schedule, it will:

  • Leave the schedule.

  • Fire its on-call target at the maximum rate of fire.

  • Rejoin the schedule at real time.

  • Report to its controlling headquarters scheduled targets that were not engaged and targets on which commander's effects were not achieved.

B-42. It is up to the controlling headquarters to notify the commander and recommend appropriate action to engage these targets.


B-43. The preparation is an intense volume of fire delivered in accordance with a time schedule to support an attack. It may include a single FS means (FA only) or multiple means (mortars, FA, NSFS). Normally, fires begin before H-hour and may extend beyond it. Usually, a DS FA battalion or higher echelon plans a FA preparation. Fires may start at a prescribed time or may be held on call until needed. The duration of the preparation is influenced by the following factors:

  • FS requirements of the force.

  • Number of targets for attack.

  • FS assets and ammunition on hand.

B-44. A preparation may be phased to allow successive attacks of certain types of targets, if time and intelligence is available to do so (Table B-2). Phase I should provide for the early attack of enemy FS means and observation capabilities including FA HQ and CPs. Such an attack degrades the enemy's ability to react with long-range indirect fires and to gain intelligence about the operation. Phase II should attack other CPs, communications facilities, assembly areas and reserves. The goal is to degrade the enemy's ability to reinforce and shift forces to counter the main effort of friendly forces. The final phase should include defensive areas in the forward portions of enemy position areas and targets that pose an immediate threat to attacking troops. The purpose of this phase is to suppress enemy direct fire systems until friendly maneuver forces have closed with them. Provisions must be made to keep hostile FS means and other critical targets neutralized throughout the preparation, time, and ammunition permitting.

Table B-2. Potential Targets in a Preparation


Indirect fire systems

      FA/mortar positions

Operations and/or FA HQ

Command, control and communications facilities

Reserve and logistic sites

Assembly areas

Forward elements

B-45. When assigning FA systems to targets in the preparation, planners should, if possible, ensure that some fire units remain available to attack targets of opportunity. During the firing of a preparation, a target of opportunity may pose such a threat to the supported force that some FA units may have to leave the preparation to attack it. If the FA is directed to do so, the S3 assigns the units to fire on the target of opportunity.

B-46. If FA units are diverted from the preparation, they rejoin the preparation at the current point in time--not at the time they left it. For example, if a unit firing a preparation is diverted to a target of opportunity at H-5 and takes 4 minutes to attack that target, the unit would reenter the preparation at H-1. This means that some targets may not be attacked at all or may be attacked by FS assets not originally planned for the preparation. The firing unit diverted from the preparation must report to the appropriate FSE those targets that were not fired or were not fired with the scheduled amount of ammunition. This information lets the FSCOORD and the supported maneuver commander make sound decisions for the attack of those targets while ensuring the safety of the attacking force.

B-47. Units must continually update preparations to purge old targets and add new ones. The scheduler must set a time after which no other changes can be made. This cutoff time varies among units and is based on training, communications, and scheduling capabilities. The scheduler must ensure that there is enough time for changes to be sent to firing units, for technical fire direction to be performed, and for ammunition to be prepared and fired. The maneuver commander, advised by his FSCOORD, makes the final decision as to whether or not to fire a preparation. His decision is based on the following:

  • Will the loss of surprise from the preparation be offset by the damage done to the enemy?

  • Are there enough targets and means to warrant a preparation?

  • Can the enemy recover before the preparation fires can be exploited?

B-48. The preparation must begin and end with all fire units that are used in the preparation. Gaps (for example, two or more consecutive shift times) should be avoided, if possible. Shift time is the interval between the time a FA unit can have fires impacting on one target and the time it can have rounds impacting on a new target. Shift time is affected by many variables, for example, state of training, amount of shift and type of munitions to be fired. For planning and scheduling purposes, a shift time of 1 minute is established for light and medium (105mm and 155mm) artillery. The MLRS shift time depends on launcher availability. Launchers moving to new firing points may not be ready to fire for up to 20 minutes or longer. Careful fire planning and management by MLRS battery and battalion personnel can ensure continuous launcher availability. As a rule, launchers do not engage more than one target from a single firing point. Launchers fire a second mission only in exceptional cases. Any gaps that do occur should be filled by refiring. Phase I targets or targets the maneuver commander has designated as priority targets. Units participating in the preparation should not begin firing on targets in a subsequent phase unless they have begun firing on the last target of the current phase or they have completed firing the current phase. This may not always be possible because some weapons may not have adequate range to fire at targets in all phases (Table B-3). In that case, the weapons are scheduled into the phase that is within their capabilities rather than being excluded altogether from the preparation. Fires are planned on the basis of the sustained rate of fire for each weapon system and shift time between targets (Table B-3).

Table B-3. Artillery Cannon and Rocket Characteristics

SP 155mm howitzer
a. 30,000
b. 22,000
1 round per minute 1 minute
SP 227mm MLRS M270 a. NA
b. 30,000
1 round per 4.5 seconds N/A
Towed 105mm howitzer
a. 19,500 (IRAP)
15,400 (RAP)
b. 14,300
3 rounds per minute for first 30 minutes
1 round per minute thereafter
1 minute
Towed 105mm howitzer M102 a. 15,100
b. 11,500

3 rounds per minute 1 minute
Towed 155mm howitzer M198 a. 30,000
b. 22,400
2 rounds per minute for first 30 minutes
1 round per minute thereafter
1 minute


IRAP - improved rocket-assisted projectile


B-49. Usually, a DS FA battalion or higher echelon plans a counter-preparation each time the supported force makes an extended halt. These intensive fires are delivered just before the start of an enemy attack. They are designed to:

  • Disrupt or delay the enemy's attack formations.

  • Disorganize his command, control, and communications.

  • Impair his TA efforts.

  • Decrease the effectiveness of his fire and maneuver.

  • Destroy his personnel and equipment.

  • Reduce his offensive spirit.

B-50. Counterpreparations normally have two phases. Initial fires (Phase I) should provide for early and simultaneous attack of enemy forward elements, indirect fire systems, and observation posts. Phase II fires should attack the enemy's command posts, communications, and reserves while neutralization of his indirect fire systems continues. Fires from participating units should begin and end together when possible, and gaps should be avoided. When targets are scheduled in a counterpreparation, it is important that the firing begin on the last targets of one phase at the same time or before firing begins on the first targets of the succeeding phase. Shift times and sustained rates of fire discussed above for a preparation also apply for a counterpreparation.

Table B-4. Sample of Targets Phased in a Counterpreparation

Indirect fire systems Command and control facilities
Forward elements Logistic sites
  Reserves and assembly areas
  Communications facilities

B-51. The maneuver commander, on advice from his FSCOORD, decides when to fire the counterpreparation. Premature firing should be avoided to prevent disclosing targets for enemy counterfires. Counterpreparations are scheduled as on-call, since the firing normally depends on enemy initiative.

B-52. Fires from participating units begin and end together and as in the preparation, gaps should be avoided. When targets are scheduled in a counterpreparation, it is important that firing begin on the last targets of one phase at the same time or before firing begins on the first targets of the succeeding phase. Shift times and sustained rates of fire discussed earlier for a preparation also apply for the counterpreparations.


B-53. Several fire planning techniques are useful when fire is desired on multiple targets. Groups, programs, or series of targets can be established in these situations. The manner in which each of these is graphically shown, the level at which it is established and its purpose are discussed below.


B-54. A group of targets consists of two or more targets on which simultaneous fires are desired. The fact that targets are included in a group does not preclude the attack of individual targets within the group. For FA fires, the DS battalion FDC is the lowest echelon that can form and implement a group of targets. The FSCOORD or FSO, determining the need for a group of targets, directs that the DS battalion FDC schedule the group. The planning and scheduling of groups of targets can be a time-consuming process. The groups can require considerable firing assets and limit the ability of the unit to mass fires on any single target. If the FDC does not have the assets available to fire the groups, it may pass the request to the force artillery or next higher artillery CP for planning.

B-55. Graphically display a group (Figure B-6) by circling the targets and identifying the group with a group designator. The designator consists of the two letters assigned to the block of target numbers allocated to a unit (for example, maneuver brigade, or DIVARTY TOC) with a number inserted between the two letters. For example, if a brigade is assigned the letters BC, its first group of targets is designated B1C, the second is B2C and so on.

Figure B-6. Group of Targets

Figure B-6. Group of Targets

B-56. List groups of targets on the scheduling work sheet (See Figure B-7). Groups of targets normally are fired on call of the supported unit. Schedule groups so that initial fires strike the targets simultaneously. On the top line of the scheduling work sheet, enter the group number. Below the group number, list the targets of the group opposite the firing unit assigned the targets. Below each target number, show the number of rounds to be fired. No line or dot is drawn between the target number and the ammunition. More than one group can be scheduled on the same scheduling work sheet.

Figure B-7. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Groups of Target

Figure B-7. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Groups of Target

B-57. A firing unit can be scheduled for only one target in each group. More than one firing unit can be scheduled against a single target if needed.


B-58. A program of targets is a predetermined sequential attack of targets of a similar nature (Figure B-8). Targets in a particular program are normally of the same type (for example, all AD targets, all C2, or all mortar targets) and are selected and planned based on the commander's guidance. A program may be initiated on call or at a specific time or event.

Figure B-8. Scheduling Work Sheet - Counter-Op Program

Figure B-8. Scheduling Work Sheet - Counter-Op Program

B-59. Each type of program is scheduled starting at 0 and extending as long as needed. A line indicates duration of fires. A dot indicates a single volley impacting simultaneously at a given time (e.g., the single volley may be a battery, battalion, or DIVARTY). Once a program is initiated, targets within the program are fired in a predetermined sequence as shown in the schedule. Normally, the lowest echelon that designates and plans programs of targets is the DS FA battalion. There are no special graphics associated with a program of targets. Programs appear on scheduling work sheets and schedules of fires.


B-60. A series of targets consists of a number of targets and/or groups of targets planned for firing in a specific sequence to support a maneuver operation. The DS battalion FDC is the lowest echelon authorized to form and implement a series of targets. Series are planned by FSCOORDs or FSOs to support the maneuver commander's scheme of maneuver. It may be executed on call or at a specific time or event. It is scheduled to start at 0.

B-61. Once a series is begun, targets and groups within the series are fired in a predetermined time sequence. Simultaneous attack of targets in a group within a series is as requested by the initiator or as determined by the FA fire planner. Attack is based on the nature of the targets and the requirements of the force commander. Groups need not be fired as groups when fired as part of a series unless requested.

B-62. Graphically, a series is shown as individual and/or groups of targets within a prescribed area (Figure B-9). The series is assigned a code name or a nickname.

Figure B-9. Series of Targets (with a Group as part of the Series)

Figure B-9. Series of Targets (with a Group as part of the Series)

B-63. The fact that a series of targets has been formed does not preclude the attack of individual targets and/or groups of targets within the series. As with groups, manual planning and scheduling of series of targets can be a time-consuming process and may require fires from supporting FA units. A scheduling work sheet is prepared for each series of targets requested (Figure B-10).

Figure B-10. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Series of Targets

Figure B-10. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Series of Targets


B-64. Some targets have a specified duration of fire, but the ammunition requirements are unknown, for example, smoke and illumination targets on which expenditures are affected by wind speed and direction. Fire planners complete the illumination and/or smoke schedule as follows:

  • Indicate, by a horizontal line, the time on target and duration of fire.

  • Place the target above this line.

  • Below the line, center a subscript keyed to a remark in the REMARKS column that shows the method of engagement (for example, two-gun illumination, lateral or range spread, first rounds WP and HC, succeeding rounds HC).

  • When scheduling smoke, back off 1 minute to allow for buildup time (if using HC only and not WP for initial rounds). Buildup time is not to be used when firing on the same target. The maneuver commander must realize that because of weather, smoke fires cannot have guaranteed effects. When asking for smoke, the commander must be explicit in his intention. The FSCOORD must specifically look at alternative methods of achieving the intention if the smoke is not effective. This can be done by planning on-call HE targets to suppress selected areas (Figure B-11).

Figure B-11. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Smoke and Illumination

Figure B-11. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - Smoke and Illumination


B-65. Final protective fires are immediately available fires designed to create a barrier to impede enemy movements across defensive lines or areas. They are integrated with the commander's defensive plans and are intended for use primarily against dismounted infantry. Maneuver brigade commanders allocate FPFs to maneuver battalions, which in turn allocate them to their companies. The FPFs are allocated one per FA firing unit and one per mortar section or platoon. When they are not engaged in another fire mission, weapons are laid on firing data for FPFs. This ensures immediate responses to calls for FPFs. The shape and pattern of these fires may be varied to suit the tactical situation on the basis of the supported company commander's desires. Authority to call for the FPFs is vested in the supported company commander or platoon leader in whose area they are located. On the target list work sheet, a target is designated as a FPF target by placing the letters "FPF" in the REMARKS column space for that particular target. Show FPF targets by their designated target numbers.


B-66. SCATMINE is scheduled similar to other munitions, however, it may be more difficult to properly schedule due to the lengthy times required to emplace some SCATMINE minefields. Because SCATMINE planning can complicate the scheduling process, the S3 and FDO should ensure that accurate information on the location and size of the minefield is received early in the planning process. See FM 6-40, FM 6-20-40, and FM 6-20-50 for additional details on manual SCATMINE planning procedures.


B-67. Since MLRS fire planning procedures deviate in some ways from the traditional fire planning methods, MLRS fire planning is discussed separately. Different procedures are required because of MLRS characteristics (its munitions, range capability, and volume of fire), and the MLRS employment doctrine (shoot-and-scoot tactics, and use of hide positions).


B-68. In support of force operations, MLRS uses two basic types of fire missions - scheduled (rocket fire plans) and unscheduled (all others). With DPICM, the MLRS has a high volume of fire to a range of 30 km. This makes it particularly effective against the following:

  • Large or inaccurately located targets.

  • Enemy artillery and ADA systems.

  • C3 systems.

  • Assembly areas (vehicles and/or personnel) and logistics sites.

  • HPT beyond the range of cannon artillery.

B-69. Ammunition resupply is a problem for all weapon systems, but is a particularly important consideration for MLRS. FA planners must work closely with logistics planners to ensure adequate resupply of MLRS units.

B-70. MLRS ammunition consumption rates, ammunition resupply, and fire control system configuration concerns dictate that MLRS be limited mainly to the attack of HPTs. HPTs characteristics will differ from operation to operation depending on enemy and friendly force postures. Targeting priorities for the MLRS normally are:

  • HPTs 15 to 30 km from the FLOT.

  • HPTs 0 to 15 km from the FLOT that cannon artillery cannot effectively engage.

  • Other targets 15 to 30 km from the FLOT.

  • Other targets 0 to 15 km from the FLOT that cannon artillery cannot effectively engage.


To prevent the possibility of fratricide, MLRS should not engage targets closer than 2 km from friendly forces.

B-71. To plan MLRS fires, the fire planner must understand the response posture system used for reporting the status of the self-propelled launcher-loaders (SPLLs) of the MLRS unit. They are designated as being in a hot, cool or cold status by the MLRS battery FDC. Definitions and response times for the various response postures are shown below. This system helps the FDO select the MLRS launcher (or launchers) to fire a mission and helps the fire planner know the availability of MLRS fires.

B-72. The HQ performing fire planning for an MLRS unit must know how many launchers are currently in a hot status, how many launchers can be brought to a hot status, and how long it will take to bring them to a hot status.

B-73. When the fires of an MLRS unit are scheduled, each MLRS launcher is considered a fire unit. If all six launchers in a battery were hot, then the scheduling work sheet would have six lines for MLRS - one for each launcher. The Firing Units column of the target list work sheet is left blank for MLRS units. The MLRS battery FDC selects the launcher to fire.

B-74. When scheduling the fires of MLRS units, fire planners should never plan more targets than the total number of launchers that can be brought to a hot status by the time the targets must be fired, even if those targets use less than a full launcher load of rockets. Since a launcher can fire no more than 12 rockets per mission, targets requiring more than 12 rockets must be scheduled for two or more launchers. (See Table B-5.)

Table B-5. MLRS Response Postures

Hot Fully operational, ready for a fire mission 3 minutes plus travel time from hide area to firing position1
Cool Fully operational except that the stabilization reference package is turned off; requires time for the gyro to stabilize before it can fire Hot response time plus 7 1/2 minutes1
Cold Out of action 30 minutes if the launcher is mission capable
1This assumes a zero response time by the crew.

B-75. Because of the difficulty in accurately determining the time required for an MLRS launcher to move from one firing position to another, each launcher normally is scheduled only once in a schedule of fires. If the schedule is long (more than 30 minutes) and the MLRS commander can give the fire planner an accurate estimate of the time it will take the launcher to move to a new firing position and be ready to fire (including time for ammunition resupply), a launcher may be scheduled to fire on more than one target. It also is possible that a launcher can fire one mission, move to another firing point, and fire again. However, this situation is not expected to occur often.

B-76. When preparing a scheduling work sheet for MLRS, do not use lines to show the duration of firing. Instead of lines, a dot is used between the target number and the number of rockets to be fired, regardless of how many rockets are fired or the duration of firing. The only exception to this rule is in the scheduling of groups, when neither dots nor lines are used. Examples of remarks that might appear on a scheduling work sheet for MLRS are shown in Figure B-12.

Figure B-12. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Counterpreparation

Figure B-12. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Counterpreparation

B-77. The preferred manner to fire MLRS in a fire plan is through the designation of a NLT TOT. This gives the MLRS unit greater flexibility and facilitates its firing of the targets on the schedule.

B-78. The time interval between rocket firings can be specified. This interval can be between 4.5 and 99.9 seconds. Even though the internal between rockets can be as long as 99.9 seconds, for reasons of survivability, the interval should be short enough that all rockets are fired within 2 minutes. If no interval is stated, the rockets will be fired at maximum rate of fire, approximately 5 seconds between rockets.

B-79. If all available launchers fire on schedule, temporary loss of this FS asset can be expected for 20 to 45 minutes as launchers move to update points, reload, and return to hide or firing points.


B-80. These schedules are not normally fired at specific times. Instead, they are fired on call and are usually keyed to a specific event or maneuver phase. (See the counterpreparation scheduling worksheet, Figure B-12.)

B-81. When MLRS fires are planned on these schedules, a significant buffer time of 3 minutes (plus move time) is necessary for hot launchers. The buffer time for a hot launcher is needed because before a launcher can fire, it must move from its hide position to a launch position, orient itself for location, and direction and compute firing data. A 10 1/2 - minute buffer time (plus move time) is needed for cool launchers. The longer buffer time is required to bring the launcher from a cool to a hot status.

B-82. Whenever possible, the MLRS unit should be given a not-before time and not-after time to fire a target. This allows the MLRS FDC more flexibility in selecting a launcher to fire and a TOT for each target.

B-83. Because MLRS units normally fire only one target per launcher in a counterpreparation, the scheduling rules concerning gaps in the schedule and starting and ending the schedule with all units firing do not apply to MLRS. However, the rules for phasing and refiring are applied as required.

B-84. MLRS fires are usually directed at HPTs. Therefore, the MLRS may be assigned targets that must be fired at a specific point in the counterpreparation rather than in the appropriate phase. Critical targets fired by MLRS may be refired by cannon units (or in rare instances by another MLRS launcher). Normally, MLRS will not refire targets originally fired by a cannon unit.


B-85. Groups may at times be scheduled for fire by MLRS units (see Figure B-13). Groups must be planned with one or more launchers firing on each target. Also, MLRS and cannon units may be scheduled on targets in the same group; however, close coordination must be made between cannon and MLRS unit FDCs to ensure that the targets in the group are fired simultaneously. When given the order to fire the group, the MLRS FDC will fire the mission as a TOT or AMC mission, causing fires to fall simultaneously on all targets in the group.

Figure B-13. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Groups of Targets

Figure B-13. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Groups of Targets


B-86. Because preparations are keyed to a specific H-hour, MLRS units can fire at any predesignated time during the preparation. This also applies to programs and series (See the preparation scheduling work sheet Figure B-14). Close coordination with the MLRS unit is necessary to ensure that enough launchers are in position to meet the preparation schedule.

B-87. As with counterpreparations, all scheduling rules apply except those concerning gaps and starting and ending with all units firing.

Figure B-14. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Preparation

Figure B-14. Example Scheduling Work Sheet - MLRS Preparation


B-88. Programs of interdiction fires will normally be a series of TOT missions given to the MLRS battery. The not-before and not-after times discussed earlier also can be used.

B-89. MLRS normally will not be assigned a mission that would cause its involvement in a quickfire plan. The reason is its inability to operate on more than one voice net and one digital external radio net. If MLRS is included in a quickfire plan, the same techniques used to schedule a series should be used.

Figure B-15. Scheduling Work Sheet (Example/Reduced)

Figure B-15. Scheduling Work Sheet (Example/Reduced)

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