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Chapter 6

Unit Defense

The techniques and procedures employed by the Paladin unit to establish the defense are similar to those in FM 6-50, Chapter 3. The Paladin is extremely flexible and allows for many employment options to optimize its defense. A detailed threat and terrain analysis will dictate how commanders will employ Paladin to ensure its survivability.


6-1. Leaders create a defensive plan that is flexible enough to accommodate the movement and dispersion of howitzers within a PA. The BC and platoon leaders identify the critical elements of the defense and convey that information to subordinates. Key terrain features, high-speed avenues of approach, and danger areas must be known and understood to develop an effective defense.

6-2. The GSG works with the BC during RSOP to initiate and develop the defense plan. The GSG sketches the plan on the firing area map/defensive diagram. When the unit arrives in a new position, the platoon sergeant and platoon leader refine the plan. The section chief executes the plan and provides feedback to the platoon sergeant.


  • Responsible for the overall defense of the battery.
  • Responsible for identifying the primary threat to the battery and possible enemy avenues of approach.
  • Responsible for coordinating mutual supporting defense with adjacent units.
  • Responsible for relaying any change to the tactical situation which may affect the battery.
  • Based on threat capabilities or limitations and time available, identify possible areas in unit defense to accept/assume risk in order to ensure mission accomplishment.
  • Establish priority of work for defense.


  • Responsible for the overall execution of the battery defense.
  • Integrates platoon defensive plans into an overall battery defensive plan and forwards to battalion.
  • Responsible for organizing and positioning the defense for the battery support (trains) elements.


  • Responsible for the overall defense of the platoon.
  • Coordinates with the platoon sergeant on the defensive plan IAW FM 6-50, Chapter 3.


  • Responsible for the development of the platoon defensive plan IAW FM 6-50, Chapter 3.


  • Initiates firing area defense diagram (FADD) during RSOP.
  • Identifies potential TRPs and enemy avenues of approach in conjunction with the battery commander.
  • Establishes initial security of firing area as required.


  • Executes the platoon defensive plan.
  • Monitors assigned sectors.
  • Develops section defensive plan IAW guidance/TSOPs.


  • Executes the platoon/section defensive plan.
  • Monitors assigned sectors.



6-3. The best defense in a high counterfire threat environment is for Paladin howitzers to execute survivability moves after firing and maximize dispersion between sections.


6-4. Concealment without movement is the best defense in a high air threat environment. If Paladin is detected and attacked, the key to survival is dispersion and engaging attacking aircraft with a large volume of fire. Immediate actions against air attack include using organic direct fire weapons (or air defense assets if attached) to return fire.


6-5. The best defense against an armored or mechanized ground attack is for the Paladin unit to move to a position from which it can continue the mission without a direct confrontation with the enemy. The section chief moves out of the danger area, notifies the POC, and continues the mission. However in some circumstances fighting an enemy force may be unavoidable. The unit TSOP should address immediate action drills to include direct fire engagement criteria.


6-6. The best defense against a ground threat is avoiding detection through concealment. When the counterfire threat is low, protection from ground attack is enhanced with the establishment of pair, platoon or battery defensive positions. An additional defensive measure against a ground attack is for the Paladin unit to displace to an alternate position.


6-7. The Paladin's best defense is to avoid enemy detection. Firing positions should be selected that allow the howitzer sections the maximum ability to hide while continuing to operate. Tree lines, the bed or valley of a stream, and built-up areas provide excellent means of concealment. When the battle becomes static, camouflage discipline should be rigorously enforced and camouflage nets may be used to effectively conceal the unit.


6-8. A formidable defense calls for sound tactics and the proper employment of the unit's organic weapons. Defensive weapons available to the Paladin battery include direct fire by the howitzers (see TM 9-2350-314-10, Chapter 2), .50 caliber machine guns, M60 machine guns, MK 19 grenade launchers, M18-series mines, light antitank weapons, and 5.56-mm rifles. Artillery fires are a key element of battery's defensive planning. The BC coordinates his defensive plan through the battalion S3. Mutual defensive support with adjacent friendly units is coordinated face to face by the commander or NCO in charge (NCOIC) with the nearby unit.


6-9. Unit TSOPs and checklists are important tools in the development and execution of a strong defense. Figure 6-1 provides an example checklist for the development of an effective battery defense.

Figure 6-1. Example of Defensive Checklist

6-10. The BC must ensure that battery TSOPs address all aspects of unit operations, to include procedures for dealing with NBC attacks. TSOPs should cover protective measures, immediate action, decontamination, and reporting. Guidance for the commander is in FM 3-100, NBC Operations.



6-11. Employing one of the following three methods during operations enhances Paladin defense:

  • Clock method.
  • TRP method.
  • Static method.

6-12. The clock method is recommended while moving and upon occupations. Vehicles are assigned sectors of fire in relation to a clock, with 1200 hours (hrs) as the direction of travel while moving and 1200 hrs along the azimuth of fire during and after occupations. Adopting the standardized clock method provides the means to assign areas of responsibility to gun sections and facilitates rapid occupation and emplacement of security. Further, this method enhances the section's ability to move and quickly refocus its primary and secondary weapon systems on assigned areas of responsibility. This has been referred to as a "floating" or "flexible" defense. The clock method may be employed while moving in various formations and upon initial occupation until a suitable TRP method can be established.

6-13. After the completion of occupation, the platoon senior COS/platoon sergeant/GSG executes the TRP method by replacing "clock" sectors of fire with identifiable TRP sectors of fire ensuring all sectors interlock. Figures 6-2 and 6-3 depict examples of a platoon defensive diagram during mated/separated operations and during overwatch operations using TRPs.

Figure 6-2. Example Defensive Diagram--Mated/Separated

Figure 6-3. Example Defensive Diagram--Overwatch

6-14. Static defense is an improvement on the TRP method during periods of less frequent movement (i.e., low threat of counterfire). Sections maximize cover/concealment and improve their positions to include individual fighting positions and survivability positions. Units position listening posts/observation posts (LPs/OPs) to provide early warning and limited security. Static defense includes but is not limited to the techniques described in FM 6-50, Chapter 3.

6-15. During all three methods, units designate known rally points before/during movement and when emplaced to facilitate defensive operations upon attack.


6-16. Battery and platoon level defensive operations are effective when the ground threat is greater than the counterfire threat. Conventional battery and platoon defensive operations differ little from those described in FM 6-50, Chapter 3 and FM 6-20-1. Consolidating the howitzers into a battery or platoon formation increases the unit's defensive capability against ground attack. Battery trains and POCs may be collocated with the firing elements to provide additional security particularly at night. Survivability moves are driven by the tactical situation.


  • Security within the battery is maximized.
  • Available firepower for defense against ground and air attack is increased.
  • C2, supply distribution, feeding, and sleep rotations are easier to manage in platoon and battery-level operations.
  • Wire communications, if used, reduce radio signatures in the platoon and battery area.


  • Easier to locate.
  • Provides larger target array for threat forces.
  • More vulnerable to counterfire.


6-17. This mode enhances howitzer section defense, especially during degraded operations and hours of limited visibility. The Paladins and their FAASVs provide mutual security through interlocking fires with crew-served weapons. Paired howitzers coordinate survivability moves with each other to ensure continued mutual defense. FAASVs assist in the security of the entire position, regardless if they are used in the paired configuration or in the overwatch position.


  • Complicates enemy's targeting and attack decision process
    • Firing areas are better protected against ground and air attack over single howitzers.
    • The increased number of soldiers in the area reduces the psychological factors of isolation compared to single howitzer operations.


  • More difficult to C2 and resupply over platoon operations.
  • More vulnerable to ground attack over battery and platoon defense.


6-18. This mode of operation is least preferred. However, it is very effective when the counterfire or air threat is much greater than the ground threat. Defense against ground threat suffers because of crew and firepower limitations. Mission and crew rest requirements make it difficult to provide LPs and OPs.

6-19. The dispersion and isolation of single howitzer operations place the immediate responsibility of making defensive decisions on the section chief. To effectively employ this method of operation, the section chief must understand the commander's guidance, be skilled in applying the defensive procedures in FM 6-50, and be capable of establishing a local defense. He must make an initial plan to displace or fight from his position and develop the plan with the platoon sergeant.

6-20. The COS and the ATC work together to establish an effective defense. The ATC bears a large responsibility to defend the howitzer, particularly when the howitzer is occupying or firing. The COS and ATC must make effective use of cover and concealment. Entering a position, they must sweep and clear the immediate area, identify danger areas, avenues of approach, and an egress to an alternate position or rally point. BCs must maximize coordination with adjacent and surrounding units when employing single howitzers.


  • Less vulnerable to counterfire.
  • The smaller signature makes detection of individual howitzer difficult.


  • Most difficult to C2.
  • Does not provide for mutual support against ground threats.

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