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Chapter 3


"No one starts a war - or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so - without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it. The former is its political purpose; the later its operational objective. This is the governing principle which will set its course, prescribe the scale of means and effort which is required, and make its influence felt throughout down to the smallest operational detail." (emphasis added)


Field Marshall Carl von Clausewitz,
On War, viii, 1832,
tr. Howard and Paret

3-1. The ideas set forth by Carl von Clausewitz over 150 years ago on the nature of war still have tactical applicability today. As a unit prepares for an operation and the staff conducts the MDMP, the commander visualizes the purpose, objective and key tasks and expresses them as his intent. Additionally, he will give planning guidance to his staff to assist in course of action (COA) development. This chapter provides fire support considerations for various types of operations. Gaining an appreciation of how to apply fire support in offensive, defensive, stability and support operations, as well as during military operations on urban terrain (MOUT), breaching, passages of lines, and airborne and air assault operations, will help you develop your guidance for fire support and key you in on the type of information the FSCOORD / FSO should provide.


3-2. Fire support in offensive operations is characterized by centralized planning with decentralized execution. Planning factors, such as EFSTs, on order missions, priorities of fire, FSCMs, and so forth, must be developed within a flexible framework to allow changes to be made and efficiently disseminated, understood, and implemented. Before you issue your planning guidance, and as part of visualizing your decisive point(s), determine how fires will set the conditions for actions at the decisive point(s)/objective(s) and/or how they will augment your actions at those decisive points/objectives.


Place FSCMs, especially the coordinated fire line (CFL) if established, where they make tactical (IAW a mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops, time available, and civil considerations (METT-TC) analysis) sense and aid in facilitating the attack of targets (permissive) or preventing fratricide (restrictive). For example, always using phase lines as CFLs may fail to account for the enemy consideration of METT-TC for FSCM establishment and can hamper, rather than assist, the rapid attack of targets of opportunity.

Movement to Contact

3-3. Consider placing a battery with the advance guard in a brigade movement to contact (MTC) or battalion mortars with the advance guard in a task force MTC to provide immediately responsive fires. Paladin units are ideally suited for supporting this operation because of their fast emplacements and on-board computing capability. (see FM 3-09.21, Training, Tactics, and Procedures for the Field Artillery Battalion (FM 6-20-1) for dedicated battery considerations.)

3-4. Once contact is made, the brigade (FSCOORD's recommendation; your decision) must be prepared to shift priority of fires to the unit in contact and control of all available fires to the observer who is in the best position to control fires against the enemy.

3-5. If intelligence supported, have fires planned on reserves and uncommitted forces to facilitate freedom of action once contact is made. Have fires planned along the axis of advance to assist in dealing with contingencies. Additionally, plan fires on possible counterattack avenues of approach against forces other than reserves and uncommitted units that may influence the operation. Likely support by fire positions should be covered with an on-call critical friendly zone (CFZ). Have the staff consider fire support to security and reconnaissance forces. Consider consolidating FIST assets. Is it necessary for the trail battalion or companies to retain their FISTs when those personnel could be executing brigade EFSTs or augmenting the lead battalion/company?

3-6. The proper synchronization of maneuver with fires demands that rehearsals consider the movement of fire support assets (who, when, where, how) tied to flexible, yet known, triggers. Ensure the FSCOORD is maximizing the use of priority targets and that these targets are being put into effect and canceled based on the forward element's movement. Ensure the FSCOORD/FSO plans for possible breaching operations considering the S(uppress) and O(bscure) of suppress, obscure, secure, and reduce (SOSR).

Example EFST for a Movement to Contact.

Task: Disrupt ability of enemy squads to withdraw once in contact.

Purpose: To allow unit in contact to fire/ maneuver and destroy with direct fires.

Method: Execute priority targets with mortars first, then artillery. One artillery target allocated to each task force (TF). COLTs priority is to locate elements of the regimental artillery group (RAG) for proactive counterfire.

Effects: Provide a sustained duration of suppressive fires that the enemy must risk maneuvering through in order to withdraw.

Hasty Attack

3-7. Depending on time available, fire support plans are generally more centralized and directive. Consider the use of quick fire planning techniques. In a quick fire plan, the respective FSO leads the targeting team to develop EFSTs using very specific guidance from the maneuver commander. Once the commander approves the EFSTs, mission-type orders are issued to the necessary detect an deliver asset to accomplish the purpose of the EFST. The plan is developed, disseminated and executed in a very short period of time. Brigade and battalion staffs should develop standing operating procedures (SOP) items that facilitate such fire planning under time constraints.

3-8. In all offensive actions, particularly this one and the movement to contact, because of an unclear enemy situation or lack of detailed planning time, the detect function will be the most difficult to execute. Give the R&S and observation plans your personal attention (if feasible).

3-9. Realize subordinate units will also have less time to plan for this type of operation. On the fire support side, this might mean the DS battalion S3 (and his S2 and fire direction officer (FDO)) as well as the battalion FSOs or FS noncommissioned officers (NCOs) should be at the brigade TOC while the plan is being developed (at least through COA decision).

3-10. If a hasty attack is being conducted from a transition out of a movement to contact, have clear triggers for command or support relationship changes (if any are planned). For example, a COLT or Striker team attached to the lead battalion reverts back to brigade control.

Deliberate Attack

3-11. There should be time to overlay the overlays. Has the S3 ensured that the R&S plan, scheme of maneuver, fire support plan, engineer plan, and others are all integrated with each other?

3-12. Use fires, both lethal and non-lethal, to set conditions for success at decisive points/objectives. Employ COLTs and Strikers to execute brigade EFSTs; some EFSTs will probably have to be executed by subordinate battalions. The top-down fire plan should appear to be one seamless scheme of fires. If CAS, attack aviation, and/or air assault operations are planned, include SEAD in all fire planning.

3-13. Ensure that the FSCOORD or FSO discuss with you and your staff the pros and cons of preparation fire before you issue planning guidance. This will become a significant EFST if a preparation is part of your concept of the operation. Establish a definite trigger, initiated by a maneuver force, for the lifting and/or shifting of fires; consider redundant signals and rehearse them.

3-14. Enforce target refinement cutoff times. Consider carefully the decisions you will have to make based on an assessment of executed fires (have the conditions been set?) - what redundant means have been planned?

3-15. Bypass criteria and engagement criteria (for example: "No FA fires on single moving vehicles") are very important for the FSCOORD so that he can not only tell his subordinates what threats they may face while moving to support you, but also help keep fires focused on EFSTs and HPTs. (There is more on attack guidance in Chapter 4). Bottom line: are fires supporting your concept throughout the area of operations (AO) for the duration of the mission? Has the FSCOORD adequately accounted for the movement of field artillery and other fire support assets as the attack progresses?

Example EFSTs for a Deliberate Attack.

Task: Disrupt the enemy on objective from effectively engaging attacking forces with direct fires.

Purpose: Allow infantry to close and engage the enemy with direct fires.

Method: Echelon CAS, artillery and mortar suppressive fires across the objective. Priority of fires to TF 2-64, target AD0018, Bn 6 rounds (rds) with marking round and 2 sorties A-10 CAS. airspace coordination area (ACA) Blue in effect.

Effects: CAS destroys 1 platoon; artillery and mortars provide continuous (sustained rate of fire) fires within 200 meters (m) of other 2 platoons until cease or shift fire is ordered.

Task: Limit the enemy's ability to effectively observe the actions of the breach force and assault force vicinity the point of breach.

Purpose: Allow breach force to reduce enemy obstacle and assault force to commence the assault to secure the far side.

Method: Continuous artillery and/or mortar smoke screen between enemy within direct fire range of the point of signals that its objective is secure. breach and the obstacle. COLT initiates smoke then hands off to TF 2-64, target AD0008, 1000m smoke screen for 30 minutes. TF observers control mortar smoke.

Effects: Effective smoke continues until assault force signal that its objective is secure.


In breaching operations, suppression and obscuration fires will be planned. The key for effective FA support here is not just stating how much but for how long. Express your desired suppressive effects by clearly articulating duration or another observable end-state (or condition that has been met).

Exploitation and/or Pursuit

3-16. Use fires, both lethal and non-lethal to sustain your momentum. FA movement for this phase of the operation should be planned as part of the original order. Again, Paladin units are ideally suited for supporting these operations. Gauge your rate of advance based on FA movement. Consider using fires to suppress pockets of resistance to allow uninterrupted advance of maneuver units.

3-17. Plan fires to slow the enemy's withdrawal and to disrupt reinforcements. If SCATMINE are used, precise safety determination and dissemination are critical so that friendly momentum will not be lost. The management of FSCMs and radar zone changes will have to be executed quicker in these operations - your decision will be sought here.


3-18. Fire support in defensive actions is characterized by centralized planning with centralized execution. Planning factors, such as EFSTs, on order missions, priorities of fire, FSCMs, final protective fires, use of minimum safe distances, and risk estimate distances, to list the more common, must be developed to support a synchronized attack at the place and time you want to kill the enemy. Before you issue your planning guidance, and as part of visualizing your decisive point(s), determine how fires will set the conditions for actions at the decisive point (s) and/or how they will augment your actions at those decisive points. The combined use of obstacles and fires in the defense plays a larger role in the concept of the operation because of the importance of countermobility. However, all BOS must be synchronized as in the offense. Fires are planned, and EFSTs determined, as in the offense.

Area Defense

3-19. Initial priority of fires is normally allocated to (forward) security forces. If the enemy is attacking in echelons, isolate the first echelon by initially focusing fires on the follow-on echelon(s).

3-20. Consider counter-preparation fires to disrupt enemy preparatory fires. Planning considerations for this EFST are similar to a preparation in terms of ammunition consumption, counterfire, and assets required.

3-21. If the defense is planned as a phased operation (counter-reconnaissance, security zone, main battle, counterattack), EFSTs should be designated for each phase with triggers and dissemination instructions identified for when they change.

3-22. Specify engagement criteria for each phase of the defense. Single, lightly armored vehicles may be approved for FA attack during counter-reconnaissance operations but not during the main battle.

3-23. The FSCOORD should be coming to you asking for engineer assets to provide survivability positions for FA weapon and radar systems. This need will apply to the mortars at battalion level. As for FSCMs, you can place the CFL close to your forward elements (have a trigger planned to move it once security forces join the main battle area) to facilitate the rapid attack of targets.

Security Zone Considerations

3-24. The positioning of fire support assets for the defense has to include considerations for support of security zone actions. Augment the security zone with additional observers. This will depend on the number and location of EFSTs to be executed. Ensure the FSO has considered communications with security forces, especially battalion scouts and COLTs/Strikers if operating in your AO.

Main Battle Area Considerations

3-25. Ammunition expenditures are historically higher in the defense. Ensure the FSCOORD or FSO back-briefs you on the FA capability to execute EFATs and how loss of weapons and/or ammunition affects that capability.

3-26. If possible, tell the FSCOORD " is where I want every artillery piece in the brigade available to fire..." and indicating either an EA or TAI, specific time, a condition that presents itself, or a combination of these factors. Be as specific as possible in designating which obstacles will be covered with indirect fires. Your FSOs ought to recommend as part of a COA which, or how many, obstacles can be covered (you may have to prioritize). Providing redundant observers for EFSTs is relatively easier in the defense. Ensure the FSO does so in his observer plan.

3-27. A FPF is a special mission used only in defensive operations. The FSCOORD/FSO recommends who gets them; you approve them.

3-28. Have the S3, FSO, ALO/TACP, ADA LNO, and S3 Air ensure there is no conflict between ACA, air corridors and indirect fire positions.


The maneuver commander, not the FSO, is responsible for executing EFSTs from the OPORD. That responsibility includes ensuring the target is refined, observed, rehearsed and executed according to the scheme of fires. You can help ensure that your subordinate commanders understand this by including EFST responsibility in paragraph 3d of the OPORD (tasks to subordinate units). During rehearsals, have your maneuver commanders articulate their fire support responsibilities

Rear Area Considerations

3-29. The principles of FS planning and coordination in the rear areas do not differ significantly from those in the forward areas and apply to both the offense and defense. There is, however, a difference in the facilities available. Rear command post (CPs) have only limited manpower and limited communications facilities

3-30. Consider the use of attack helicopters and slower fixed-wing CAS because of their ability to actually observe the target and thus avoid nearby friendly elements. In fact, attack helicopters may be the most responsive and efficient means of providing FS to the rear area operations.

3-31. With few exceptions, indirect fire assets should not be employed against a Level I threat or against those Level II threat forces that can be defeated by base or base cluster units or by the reaction force. Level III threats have the size and combat power which could require the use of indirect fire assets.

3-32. The forces already on station are responsible for fighting the rear enemy initially. The immediate problem for rear operations is how to manipulate the limited resources, including FS, at the right time and place. Considerations that affect the application of FS for rear operations are as follows:

  • The reduction of FS to the decisive or shaping operation.

  • The suitability as determined by the overall tactical situation.

  • The responsiveness of the available weapon systems.

  • The precision and collateral damage effects of the weapon systems.

  • The existence of communications nets to facilitate FS activities.

  • The availability of observers to identify targets and adjust fires.

3-33. The applicable FSCMs for rear area operations will be restrictive measures [for example, no fire areas (NFAs), restrictive fire area (RFA)s and restrictive fire line (RFLs)]. The operations cell of the rear CP should establish them. The procedures for establishing FSCMs in the rear area must become part of the overall planning process. Forces employed to deal with a Level III force in the rear normally are given an AO. The establishment of a boundary within the rear and the possible addition of a task force FSO require close coordination with the rear CP. These measures should be reviewed routinely by higher headquarters (HQ); posted on rear CP operations maps; entered into the advanced field artillery tactical data system (AFATDS); and given to any supporting component forces and reaction forces.

3-34. The supporting FA must be positioned to support rear operations if assigned that EFAT. Since the rear area does not have a maneuver unit with FSO normally assigned to it, the headquarters and headquarters battery (HHB) battery commander (out of the DS battalion) often serves as an ad hoc rear area fire support officer. Positioning coordination with the rear CP operations cell of the base support battalion (BSB) or headquarters and headquarters company (HHC), depending on the level of command) is necessary to avoid fratricide of combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) units and destruction of critical supplies when FA and other FS means receive counterfire. This action also facilitates the ability of the rear CP to coordinate terrain management, movement control, and sustainment.

3-35. Potentially, all FS systems are available for deployment in rear area operations. Practically, some are more suitable and all depend on the factors of METT-TC.

Mobile Defense

3-36. If part of the striking force, retain your DS battalion - even prior to commitment. This simplifies command and control (C2), ammo management and positioning. When part of the striking force, plan and integrate fires as for a deliberate attack. When part of the defending force, plan and integrate fires as for an area defense. In either case, pay particular attention to the location of the converging forces and the need for an RFL.

Example EFSTs in the Defense.

Task: Delay the ability of follow-on enemy echelons to support units in contact.

Purpose: Allow defending unit to fight enemy echelons sequentially.

Method: Close air support, scatterable mines, and/or massed artillery fires at restrictive points along the enemy avenue(s) of approach. Priority of fires to COLTs until effects achieved.

Effects: Northern infantry company delayed at least 30 minutes in reaching phase line (PL) Gray. CAS destroys 4 of 4 tanks. FA destroys 2 of 5 BMPs.

Task: Disrupt ability of stationary enemy reconnaissance elements to identify and report friendly unit defensive positions.

Purpose: To preserve the security of defensive positions and maximize the effectiveness of the engagement areas.

Method: Precision munitions, artillery/mortar illumination and suppression priority targets. Each TF allocated 1 Copperhead (CPHD) target; priority for illumination to TF 2-64; each TF allocated one artillery target (battery 2 rds) for immediately responsive suppressive fires

Effects: 5 of 6 regimental reconnaissance (recon) vehicles destroyed west of PL Gray.

Task: Disrupt ability of enemy infantry to penetrate friendly defensive positions.

Purpose: Allow infantry unit to disengage from enemy forces, maneuver and reposition within the defense.

Method: Execute a linear priority target with sustained artillery or mortars fires until purpose is achieved or ammunition is depleted. Each TF allocated 1 battery FPF - direct link from FSO to battery commander authorized.

Effects: FPF is adjusted for each firing unit. Fires commence within 30 seconds of command to fire and continue until cease loading is ordered.


3-37. Attack enemy forces far forward. Suppress enemy forces and degrade their ability to maneuver. Use CAS to help disengage and slow/attrit advancing enemy forces. Use your fires as an overwatch element if executing a bounding overwatch type maneuver scheme. Fires can cover obstacles, gaps and flanks, provide massed fires to delay the advancing enemy, and integrate non-lethal fires, including screening fires, into the scheme. Consider the use of fires to assist in disengaging. Allocate FPFs as necessary.


3-38. Have the FSO and chemical officer plan to mask the movement of friendly forces with smoke during both day and night operations. Leave the maximum number of firing units forward. Establish disengagement criteria for them and ensure this plan is rehearsed. Other considerations are similar to those for a delay.


3-39. Non-lethal fires may be the primary means of attack in many stability operations.

Ensure the staff integrates the IO coordinator (if attached), PSYOP representative, civil affairs representative, IEW staff officer, public affairs officer, representatives from government agencies, non-governmental and possibly local civilian leadership into the concept of the operation and targeting process. What your staff does is not necessarily different in stability operations; the desired effects and assets used may be significantly different than for the offense and defense.

3-40. Use offensive lethal fires strictly in accordance with the ROE. Use defensive fires to protect the force; ROE will still apply. Plan fires for base camp defense (if base camps are used). Ensure radar zones become an integral part of the force protection plan.

3-41. As you consider the use of Firefinder radars to enhance force protection, remember that all acquisitions will already be a priority for action - use CFZs judiciously. Ensure censor zones are placed over friendly indirect positions - hold the FSO or targeting officer responsible for moving, confirming or canceling radar zones.

3-42. Consider dissemination of the fire support plan down through battalion, company and platoon to the leaders in charge of checkpoints, patrols and logistics convoys. Use aviation assets, if available to assist in executing the R&S plan.

3-43. Clearance of fires may include coordination with designated civilian organizations. Plan and rehearse clearance of fires drills. Establish liaison with allied military organizations to facilitate calls for fire and clearance of fires.

3-44. Consider using fires into uninhabited/unoccupied areas (possible free fire area) to demonstrate our deterrent capability (ROE dependent). The minimization of collateral damage will become a major constraint. Refer to the ROE frequently as FSCMs are established.

3-45. To demonstrate power projection, consider moving field artillery and mortar units within your zone, emplacing them, and pointing the tubes at positions that are selected to send a message to civilians and soldiers of both (all) sides.


3-46. Your fire support structure can support these actions by providing effective C2, observation posts, convoy operations, local security, sustainment operations and liaison capabilities. What your staff does (in terms of planning and preparing) is not necessarily different in support operations; the desired effects and assets used may be significantly different than for the offense and defense.

3-47. Non lethal fires will be the primary means of attack in support operations. Ensure the staff integrates the IO coordinator (if attached), PSYOP and public and civil affairs representatives, IEW staff officer, representatives from non-governmental organizations and possibly local civilian leadership into the concept of the operation and targeting process.


3-48. The scheme of maneuver may include movement to contact or air assault (or a combination), breaching operations, a hasty or deliberate attack to seize objectives in a city or town, and providing fires for a follow-on mission - ensure the FSCOORD and FSO know to plan fires for the entire operation, not just the urban terrain phase.

3-49. The approval process based on the political sensitivity of engaging MOUT targets in certain situations can reside at command levels much higher than the requesting commander. This process, along with detailed information about the target and your intent must be completely understood by the targeting team.


Target engagement in Somalia required National Command Authority (NCA) approval. Four essential elements of information had to be submitted to receive approval: military significance of the target, reliability of targeting information, extent of possible collateral damage, and, engagement weapon options. Additionally, extensive time and effort were spent researching and compiling required information concerning the characteristics and effects of munitions available in theater. IPB and target analysis were time consuming and tedious tasks, but they were necessities for the approval process from the tactical commander through the unified commander to the NCA.

3-50. Ensure the FSCOORD, FSO and battle staff have considered the following:

  • What are the indirect fire ROE? What is on the restricted target list?

  • Dissemination of maneuver scheme and fire support products down to the lowest level.

  • Specifying who positions the COLTs/Strikers.

  • What radar zones and cueing agents are required in the objective city?

  • Where are the underground fuel and industrial storage tanks, gas distribution lines, gas storage tanks, and gas lines above ground?

  • How has the enemy reinforced buildings?

  • How will fire support and other personnel requesting fires determine 8-digit grid coordinates to targets in built-up areas?

  • What is the general construction or composition of buildings, road surfaces, and barrier obstacles that require breaching? Which buildings have basements? (Collateral damage issues.)

  • Which buildings/structures require large-caliber weapon/howitzer direct fire before assaulting?

  • Where does tall building masking prevent indirect fire from engaging targets?

  • Where are areas between tall buildings that prevent aircraft from engaging targets?

  • Which sites provide the best observation posts (both friendly and enemy)? Which can be used for laser designators? Will an OH-58D be available for laser designation?

  • Where to best position mortars, towed, and self-propelled (SP) artillery (both within and outside the city)? Which positions permit 6400-mil firing?

  • Identify enemy mortar capability and radar zone requirements and limitations.

  • Which areas of the city are most likely to be affected by the incendiary effects of detonating artillery and mortar rounds?

  • Are targets outside the city to help block advancing enemy elements necessary, planned and triggers determined?

  • Consider the use of smoke to obscure friendly operations from enemy observation.

3-51. ROE and restrictions on collateral damage may dictate a reliance on precision munitions. If so, ammunition resupply should become one of your priorities. Give explicit guidance on the use of, or restriction on, illumination.


Bosnia/Croatia. Any building floors above the 5th floor were dealt with very effectively by artillery in both the indirect and direct fire modes. Open areas were planned targets. Adjusting fire became problematic if the observer location was not carefully chosen.

Grozny. Indirect fire was used on the approach to the city and for capturing the outskirts. The majority of self-propelled artillery was attached to the maneuver elements because artillery could elevate where tanks and BMPs could not. Direct fire was more effective in minimizing rubbling than indirect fire.


3-52. The FSCOORD and FSO will focus on executing SOSR-related EFSTs - your guidance, especially as it relates to suppressing and obscuring (when and where, for how long) is critical. Fires support may have to execute other EFSTs while suppression and obscuration are ongoing (on-call and targets of opportunity) - how will you prioritize EFSTs throughout the breaching operation? The FSCOORD should consider requirements for force protection at the breach site. Ensure the FSO checks the dimensions of CFZ(s) established - do they account for fairly static elements waiting to go through the breach and reorganizing beyond the breach?

3-53. Have the FSCOORD/FSO consider the following:

  • Use scouts or other observers to set conditions at the breach site prior to arrival of the main body. Correctly identifying where to penetrate, suppress and obscure, and communicating that information quickly, is imperative.

  • Plan target handoff with observers or scouts.

  • Predict likely enemy locations and plan on-call fires accordingly.

  • Position observers with redundancy.

  • Plan for the shifting of priority of fires to the support force, then to the assault force. What are the triggers?

  • Plan and fire smoke to cover movement of the support force.

  • Using obscurants for deception in order to protect the breach site.


3-54. Because of the greater range of field artillery systems, the transfer of fire support coordination responsibility may occur prior to the maneuver units' battle handover - ensure the FSCOORD has coordinated this event closely.

3-55. Information should be exchanged between the stationary and passing force's FSEs, including:

  • Specific SOP information.

  • Target lists and fire plans.

  • Status of fire support assets.

  • Attack guidance, target selection standards and engagement criteria.

  • EFSTs and HPTs.

  • FSCMs and maneuver control measures.

  • Recognition signals.

  • Information on obstacles.

  • Positions for fire support assets.

  • Meteorological and survey information.

  • Automated database and electronic messaging information.

  • Signal operating instructions (SOI).

  • ROE and security measures in effect.

  • Intelligence situation.

3-56. Ensure the FSCOORD considers the following for a Forward Passage of Lines:

  • Use of smoke to obscure enemy observers or screen friendly movement.

  • The stationary force supports the close battle while the passing force's artillery moves through.

  • The FSE of the passing force sends a liaison to the FSE of the stationary force.

  • The CFL is continually updated. FSOs must know the lead element's position continuously.

  • Fire support assets should be positioned near the passage point without interfering with the passage of lines. Give priority of positioning to the passing force.

  • Ensure passing force plans fires to support operations after the passage of lines.

3-57. Ensure the FSCOORD considers the following for a Rearward Passage of Lines.

  • Use of smoke to conceal movement through passage points.

  • Planned fires to support disengagement of forces and the deception plan (if part of the concept of operation).

  • Ensure counterfire actions are planned and controlled by the stationary force.

  • Give priority of positioning to the stationary force.

  • The FSE of the stationary force sends a liaison to the FSE of the passing force.


3-58. Conduct of fire support coordination distinguishes the initial assault phase from subsequent phases. During the assault phase, C2 is conducted from an airborne platform. The FSCOORD/FSO should review SEAD requirements in support of the air movement plan. Fire support planning and coordination functions are transferred to the ground force when the assaulting force commander and his FSO are on the ground and operational. FSE personnel should be cross-loaded in the landing plan so that loss of an aircraft does not completely disrupt fire support provided to the assaulting force.

3-59. At first, the assaulting force FSO is more concerned with close-in targets, while the airborne FSE focuses on deeper targets. Initial targeting intelligence is likely to come from national assets. Information links to the FSE must be thoroughly reviewed and understood by the targeting team. Fire planning for the ground tactical plan should consider EFSTs that support of the concept of operation and those that support defending the airhead.

3-60. Have the FSCOORD and FSO consider the following when planning fire support for an airborne operation:

  • Positioning of artillery and mortars inside the airhead line to provide continuous 6400-mil fires without adversely impacting on airfield operations.

  • Centralized control of fires.

  • Minimum indirect fire ranges.

  • A2C2.

  • Tactical cross-loads.

  • Assault command post (ACP) operations.

  • Use of permissive FSCM to facilitate tactical air attacks.

  • RFAs around the airfield to reduce cratering and other collateral damage.

  • Use of long-range surveillance detachment (LRSD)/ long-range surveillance unit (LRSU) for target acquisition.


3-61. Not only should fire support be synchronized with the ground tactical plan, landing plan and air movement plan, but ammunition resupply procedures must be carefully integrated into the operation due to limited haul capacity.

3-62. Have the FSCOORD and FSO consider the following when planning fire support for an air assault operation:

  • Will the landing zone be prepared with pre-planned fires? Is lethal SEAD required?

  • Will false landing zones be utilized? If so, are false preparations desired?

  • Where are the flight routes in relation to planned targets and delivery assets? Determine flight times, checkpoints, and code words.

  • How are air defense systems being targeted? How will they be destroyed or suppressed? For how long (if suppression is called for)?

  • What are the abort criteria?

  • What A2C2 measures will be required?

  • Will additional detect/assess or deliver assets be required from higher headquarters?

  • Input for air mission briefing.

  • Command and control considerations to include an effective plan to request and clear fires given various cross-loads of personnel and communications equipment.

3-63. Fire planning procedures, the targeting process, and targeting products are conducted/developed as for any operation with special consideration of the above.

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