Liaison Functions and Responsibilities
F-1. Joint Pub 1-02, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines liaison as that contact or intercommunication maintained between elements of military forces to ensure mutual understanding and unity of purpose and action.
F-2. FM 100-5 requires US Army units participating in combined operations to establish liaison early with forces of each nation and the next higher headquarters. The intent is to foster better understanding of missions and tactics, facilitate the transfer of information, and enhance mutual trust, cooperation, and confidence. Liaison personnel must know and understand staff and operational organizations, doctrine, and procedures of the force with which they work.
F-3. FM 100-15 further notes that, as a minimum, liaison teams have reasonable life support capabilities, communications equipment, and transportation. In addition, they must have constant access to essential information and stay aware of changes in the supported commander's intent or concept of operations.
F-4. FM 101-5 provides liaison duties and responsibilities for the sending unit, receiving unit and LNO for specific operations and provides a liaison checklist and outline of a liaison officer's handbook.
F-5. The L-series objective TOE authorizes six liaison teams for corps arty HQ, two for FA brigade HQ, and one for heavy div arty HQ. Airborne, air assault, and light infantry div arty TOEs do not provide any dedicated liaison personnel. MTOEs for specific units may increase or reduce these numbers.
F-6. An objective TOE FA liaison team consists of three personnel: an LNO, FS sergeant, and FS specialist (driver/radiotelephone operator). METT-TC may dictate that fewer people man a team for short periods of time. Regardless, each liaison team must be equipped with a vehicle and the means to communicate between supported and supporting unit CPs. Also, it should be equipped with digital communications and the means to link with the ACUS.
F-7. FS liaison is part of the FA's FS coordination function and largely depends on whether or not FSEs already exist to support that function.
ESTABLISHING LIAISON THROUGH FIRE SUPPORT ELEMENTS
F-8. The majority of FA liaison requirements in support of maneuver units are met by FSEs. Corps and division FA HQ and DS cannon battalions provide FSEs as part of their normal mission. For example, div artys will not provide liaison to their division HQ since FSEs are already collocated within division CPs and perform liaison functions along with their other duties. However, other FA units may be required to establish liaison with maneuver units. This is the case when FA brigades, with no organic FSEs, are given responsibility as force FA HQ. If the supported maneuver unit already has an FSE, as in case of a divisional maneuver brigade, the FA brigade liaison party will augment the existing FSE. If supported maneuver elements have no FSEs, as in case when US artillery supports an allied force, the supporting FA unit must not only provide liaison, but also a fully capable FSE. This element will have to be assembled out of the supporting unit's organic assets, or may be furnished by the unit's higher HQ.
LIAISON TO UNITS WITHOUT FIRE SUPPORT ELEMENTS
F-9. A more common situation occurs when non-divisional artillery reinforces another FA unit. An example of this is an FA brigade reinforcing a div arty. Under the liaison principle of supporting-to-supported and the seven inherent responsibilities of the standard tactical missions, units with an R or GSR tactical mission must establish liaison with the reinforced unit.
F-10. An artillery commander must consider whether or not he has been assigned contingency or o/o missions. An o/o mission that changes the supported maneuver or FA unit may require FA commanders to establish liaison with units to be supported in the future. Although the intent is to facilitate planning and coordination for the supporting and future supported unit, it may present a problem in case of multiple o/o missions. For example, an FA brigade might be tasked to be an ACR's force artillery HQ. It also might have an o/o tactical mission to:
Reinforce one or more of the corps' div artys.
Reinforce an allied division.
Act as force FA HQ for a divisional maneuver brigade with a counterattack mission.
Provide GS to the corps.
Although the brigade almost certainly will not perform all of these o/o tactical missions, the commander must be prepared to respond to any one of them and require the FA brigade to establish liaison with multiple elements simultaneously.
F-11. As noted above, supporting FA commanders may have insufficient liaison teams to meet all requirements. In such cases, they must prioritize and provide liaison teams for the most critical requirements. To meet requirements beyond organic capabilities, commanders have several options, to include forming teams "out of hide". However, since they cannot field more vehicles, radios, or digital communications devices, this option is limited. It should be noted that the requirement to establish liaison does not necessarily require dispatch of a liaison team. Supporting and supported units may choose to collocate CPs. If communications are adequate, and if digital communications are established, commanders may also decide that electronic liaison is enough. If no means are available to establish full-time liaison, then periodic coordination between units may have to suffice.
F-12. Artillery CPs that dispatch liaison teams are called sending units. Gaining units are called receiving units.
Note: Critical duties and responsibilities to the success of FA liaison are the tasks related to automation. These tasks will depend on the type (if any) of automation of the sending and gaining units, the software version in use, the ability to communicate digitally, and the procedures established in the unit automated sop and procedures unique to the automated software in use.
SENDING UNIT RESPONSIBILITIES
F-13. Sending unit responsibilities are as stated in FM 101-5. Additional FA responsibilities are as follow:
FA LNOs to maneuver units must thoroughly understand FA TTP to support the combined arms team effectively and to instill the necessary trust and confidence in the combined arms commander.
Have reliable transportation, communications, automation, and COMSEC equipment with appropriate codes. The sending unit must plan to replace equipment and COMSEC material, if necessary.
FA LNOs must be included as an authorized subscriber in the subscriber table of the IFSAS/AFATDS of the sending unit and must be prepared to provide the IFSAS/AFATDS tab to the FASP.
RECEIVING UNIT RESPONSIBILITIES
F-14. See note in paragraph F-12 above.
CLEARANCE OF FIRES
F-15. Although FSEs have primary responsibility to coordinate clearance of fires and preclude indirect fire fratricides, LNOs can assist FSOs in this role. They can coordinate parent unit requests to fire into the supported unit's zone or coordinate fires into the parent unit's sector.
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