Section I. EMPLOYMENT IN THE DEFENSE
This section provides guidance for employing the Dragon in defensive operations. This information applies to all types of infantry and other types of units. In infantry units, the platoon has the mission in the defense to repel the enemy's assault-by-fire and close combat. The Dragon has combat characteristics that are important to the defense. (FM 7-8, FM 7-7J, and FM 7-10 cover defensive techniques thoroughly.) The Dragon(s) can—
Destroy or immobilize armored vehicles, depending on type.
Deliver accurate fire, day or night.
8-1. FIRING POSITIONS
Figure 8-1 shows the three types of firing positions: primary, alternate, and supplementary.
Figure 8-1. Primary, alternate, and supplementary positions.
a. Primary Position. From this position, the gunner or team can cover the assigned sector of fire. The position should offer good observation, good cover and concealment, and a good field of fire.
b. Alternate Position. The alternate position is either to the flank or slightly to the rear of the primary position. The gunner or team must be able to cover the same sector of fire as they could from the primary position. He (or they) occupies the alternate position when they must leave or cannot occupy the primary position.
c. Supplementary Position. The supplementary position covers avenues of approach and any TRPs not covered by the primary and alternate positions. This position usually falls close enough to the primary position to share mutual support with other positions.
Whether mounted or dismounted, the gunner should observe certain basics when moving to and from firing positions.
a. Avoid disturbing natural foliage.
b. Move in and around positions as little as possible.
c. Move into the position from the rear. In the defense, the only movement forward of the position should be the gunner and the other soldiers clearing the fields of fire. The leader checks for cover and concealment and paces the distances for the range card.
d. Select good covered and concealed routes to and from positions. Gullies and reverse slopes are excellent options for protection and ease of movement.
8-3. SELECTION OF FIGHTING POSITIONS
The two main factors in positioning the Dragon include gunner protection and effective use of the weapon's capabilities. The gunner must remain exposed while tracking his targets. When firing at a target at maximum range, he remains susceptible to counterfires for as long as 12 seconds. The gunner avoids positions that would force him to fire into the sun, which could affect his ability to track the target. Many of the steps for protecting gunners also make the most of the Dragon's capabilities. Gunners can enhance mission accomplishment by following some basic rules when selecting positions:
a. Use natural cover and concealment. Choose positions where the terrain provides cover from enemy fire and concealment from enemy ground and aerial observation (Figure 8-2).
Figure 8-2. Use of natural cover and concealment.
b. Try to choose positions where the gunner can engage the enemy's flank or rear from behind frontal cover. A gunner firing obliquely should do so from beneath the protection of a parapet or natural cover. Dragon missiles probably will not defeat a tank hit in the frontal 60-degree arc. You will also find other armored vehicles easier to kill from the flanks and rear. The enemy has a tougher time tracing the origin of a Dragon round fired from his flank than one fired head-on.
(1) From an oblique weapon position, a gunner can provide frontal cover to protect against direct suppressive fires. An oblique position also helps to conceal his location from the view of any person or vehicle approaching from the front (A, Figure 8-3).
Figure 8-3. Engagement of the enemy with flank or rear shots.
(2) In the attack, a tank orients firepower and observation mainly to the front. This helps keep the tank from detecting the launch site (B, Figure 8-3).
c. Avoid using Dragon positions that must engage targets from the front (especially tank targets).
d. Position Dragons so they can provide mutual support. Ideally, position them 300 meters apart. This helps protect the gunners by ensuring continuous coverage of enemy armored vehicles. To do this—
(1) Employ Dragons so their fires interlock with and support other Dragons, TOWs, or tanks. Ensure that sectors of fire overlap. Cover each sector with more than one antiarmor weapon.
(2) Position Dragons to engage any enemy armored vehicles that assault another Dragon, TOW, or tank position.
e. For security, integrate Dragon gunners with nearby infantry. Leaders should provide local security for any Dragon gunner employed away from the squad or platoon such as a Dragon team or armor-killer team.
8-4. PREPARATION OF FIGHTING POSITIONS
The enemy must not learn the true location of the Dragon. Clearing away loose debris behind the launcher, wetting down the backblast area, and covering the ground with shelter halves reduces the Dragon's launch signature (backblast). To prevent detection, soldiers move only in and around the position. As long it can see the target clearly, the unit can use indirect fires (HE, smoke, and WP) and small-arms weapons to distract the enemy. Other deception measures include preparing partly visible dummy positions to draw enemy fire away from the actual positions, then positioning Dragons on less obvious firing positions. The Dragon fighting position offer have unobstructed fields of fire, mask clearance (minimum dead space that could hide targets in the sector), and a clear backblast area. Just as it can do with other weapons organic to the platoon, the unit can employ the Dragon either from hasty or improved positions. Soldiers situate and orient a fighting position to cover a sector of fire.
a. After receiving a sector of fire and firing location from the leader, the gunner constructs the Dragon position to cover the sector. He clears only what he must clear for effective fields of fire. He camouflages the position using available materials and improves the position as time permits.
b. Leaders must consider the backblast and the muzzle blast when employing the weapon. To prepare a Dragon fighting position, the gunner follows these guidelines:
(1) When the gunner fires from an improved position, the muzzle end of the launcher must extend 15 centimeters (6 inches) beyond the front of the hole. The rear of the launcher must extend out over the back of the hole. As the missile leaves the launcher, the unfolding stabilizing fins require at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) of clearance above ground. The position should offer protection to the front (a parapet) or other natural or man-made cover.
(2) Gunners clear the ground in front of and behind the position. They remove rocks, sand, and debris. This prevents a dust cloud from forming when the gunner fires. Dust would obscures a gunner's vision and marks the location for enemy observers. When the gunner must fire in only one direction, a one-person fighting position works best (Figure 8-4, following; and Figure 8-5).
Figure 8-4. Construction of a one-person fighting position.
Figure 8-5. Construction of overhead cover.
(3) The gunner should be positioned to fire obliquely. This protects the gunner from frontal fire while he engages the target from the flank. If necessary, the gunner can fire to the front as well as to the oblique from a one-person fighting position.
(4) The wedge shape of the two-person fighting position gives the gunner frontal protection. It also allows the gunners to engage their targets from the oblique or flank. The team constructs the position as follows:
(a) Trench. Construct the trench position the length of three M16s, in an inverted "V." Dig it waist-deep. Make the trench waist-wide plus about 15 centimeters (6 inches) (A, Figure 8-6).
Figure 8-6. Construction of a two-man fighting position.
(b) Front Parapet. Construct the front parapet as long and as wide as the length of an M16. Build it up until it measures two helmets high (B, Figure 8-6). Build the front parapet in front of the trench.
(c) Grenade Sump. Make a grenade sump as long as an entrenching tool, and as wide as its blade. Dig the floor of the main trench such that it slopes gently downward from each end toward the center of the position, and so that it slopes gently downward from the rear to the front (C, Figure 8-6).
(d) Overhead Cover. Construct overhead cover at each end of the trench large enough to protect one soldier and extra rounds. It should measure 31 centimeters deep by 1 meter wide (12 inches deep and 3 feet wide). It should extend 46 centimeters (18 inches) over each side (D, Figure 8-6).
(e) Flank Parapet. Construct a flank parapet at each end of the trench. The width of each should measure the same as the length of an M16, as high as two helmets, and a length sufficient to provide good flank protection. To increase overhead protection, build flank parapets are built on top of the overhead cover (E, Figure 8-6).
(f) Bipod Trench. Dig a bipod trench for each sector of fire. The back of the bipod trench should measure 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) forward of the main trench. Make the bipod trench two helmets long, one helmet wide, and 15 centimeters (6 inches) deep (F, Figure 8-6).
(g) Front Cover. Sometimes the gunner can fire only in one direction. If so, construct front cover so the gunner should engage targets from the flank (G, Figure 8-6). Also construct cover and concealment from other directions (Figure 8-7).
Figure 8-7. Fire in one direction.
8-5. PREPARATION OF RANGE CARDS
A range card consists of a sketch of the terrain that a specific weapon system covers. The range card contains information that helps in planning and controlling fires, in quickly detecting and engaging targets, and in orienting replacement personnel or units. Using a range card, a gunner can quickly find the correct information he needs to engage targets. In order to engage targets rapidly in all visibility conditions, gunners need range cards. They also need them so another soldier could continue the mission if the gunner can no longer fire. For this reason, after he prepares the Dragon for firing, the gunner prepares a range card in duplicate for each position. That is, for each position, he makes one to keep at the position and another for the leader. The two types of range cards are standard (DA Form 5517-R) and field-expedient.
a. Information Provided on All Range Cards. All range cards must show the following:
Weapon symbol, position, or both.
Sector of fire.
Maximum engagement line.
Range and azimuth TRPs.
Distance and azimuth from a known point (gunner reference point).
Magnetic north arrow.
b. Standard Range Card. Once the leader provides the necessary information, the gunner prepares a standard range card in duplicate (Figure 8-8).
Figure 8-8. Example completed DA Form 5517-R, Standard Range Card.
c. Field-Expedient Range Card. Because he may not be able to find any standard range cards in a combat situation, the gunner can draw one on anything available. He prepares a field-expedient range card the same as he would any other range card, except that he uses the weapon symbol to show only the location of the weapon system (Figure 8-9).
Figure 8-9. Example field-expedient range card.
8-6. TARGET IDENTIFICATION
The activities, locations, or signatures (visual or otherwise) of potential targets identify them as enemy. Dragon gunners must receive sufficient training to recognize the sizes, shapes, and thermal images of all types of targets. Turrets and main guns offer the most recognizable identifiers.
a. Friendly foreign units may operate with or near US forces. This complicates the task of identifying friendly vehicles. To reduce the chance of engaging an allied vehicle, the commander can establish target priorities. Antiarmor gunners then engage only specific types of enemy vehicles. Which type the commander tells them to engage depends on the enemy situation. Dragon gunners must be able to perform the following in sequence:
(1) Determine whether a vehicle is tracked or wheeled.
(2) Determine whether a vehicle is friendly or enemy.
(3) If an enemy vehicle, use Table 8-1 to determine its type.
Table 8-1. Vehicles categorized by function.
(4) From the type of vehicle, identify the type of enemy unit. This aids the gunner, because each type unit has a unique organization and target value to the gunner, S2, and intelligence community.
(5) State the nomenclature of the vehicle.
b. Most weapons and vehicles produce telltale signatures. For example, most tracked vehicles use diesel fuel, which emits a large amount of black smoke. Tracked vehicles make more noise than wheeled vehicles. Antiarmor units can use these and other signatures to help them locate and identify enemy targets.
c. Dragon gunners mainly detect target signatures by sight, sound, and smell. If they detect anything suspicious or unusual, they should thoroughly investigate it. Sun shining off a flat surface, such as off a windshield, sounds of diesel or turbine engines, or the clanking or squeaking of end connectors can indicate the locations of targets.
(1) Soldier Signatures.
Cut or missing vegetation (cleared for fields of fire or camouflage).
Freshly dug earth (may indicate a fighting position).
Noise from equipment or talking.
Light from a match, cigarette, or fire.
(2) Tracked Vehicle Signatures.
Large dust clouds.
Noise made by tracks and engine.
Vehicle tracks on the ground.
Distinctive silhouette or shape.
(3) Antitank Weapon Signatures.
"Swish" of missile launch.
Long, thin wires in brush, trees, or along the ground.
Dismounted soldier looking through a periscope-type device. (Launcher could be up to 100 meters away from him.)
(4) Aircraft Signatures.
Reflection of the sun from aircraft canopies and rotor blades.
Dust and movement of foliage caused by a hovering helicopter.
Sound of a turbine engine (high-pitched whirring sound).
(5) Obstacles and Mines.
Loose dirt or dirt that has been disturbed in a regular pattern.
Areas where large trees have been removed.
8-7. TARGET RECOGNITION BY TYPE
Learning to recognize targets by type presents little challenge. However, identifying them as friendly or enemy requires careful study and attention to detail. Tanks are most difficult, because many friendly and enemy tanks share many design similarities. When camouflaged and moving at a distance of 1,500 to 2,000 meters, the gunner may not detect the differences. Soldiers must know which friendly and threat armored vehicles most likely will appear on the battlefield (STP 21-1-SMCT, available in Reimer's Digital Library). Soldiers can use training aids, such as GTA 17-2-13, to study the armored vehicles of other nations (Figure 8-10). To identify most armored vehicles or tanks, the gunner considers the type, location, and absence or presence of certain equipment. Specifically, he looks at the suspension system, turret, and main gun. However, he should remember that, just like friendly forces, the enemy also uses camouflage and deception.
Figure 8-10. Differences between armored vehicles.
a. Suspension System. Vegetation and terrain often conceal a vehicle's suspension system, which makes it the least identifiable part of the vehicle. If the gunner can see it, he can distinguish a suspension system by its—
Road wheels and support rollers.
Road wheels only.
Number of road wheels.
Spacing between road wheels.
b. Turret. The gunner distinguishes turrets by these characteristics—
Position on the hull: well forward, center, or to the rear.
Presence, absence, or location of a searchlight.
Shape of the turret: rounded, elongated, or boxy.
Externally mounted storage racks and other equipment.
c. Main Gun. The gunner distinguishes tank main guns by looking for—
A bore evacuator on the gun tube.
A muzzle brake or blast deflector.
The presence or absence of a thermal jacket.
d. Commander's Station (Some Tanks). Normally a simple hatch or cupola, the commander's station projects from the top left or right side of the commander's turret.
8-8. THERMAL IDENTIFICATION
Using the AN/TAS-5 to identify targets by their thermal signature presents a challenge. Doing it successfully requires extensive training. Appendix I discusses in detail how to identify targets by their thermal signatures. Gunners use the same steps to identify vehicles thermally as they would to identify them through the daysight.
The Dragon gunner should engage the enemy within his own capabilities and the capabilities of the weapon.
8-9. ENGAGEMENT RANGE
At 1,000 meters, targets viewed through the daysight look about the size of a postage stamp. Engaging a target while viewing its thermal image in the nightsight presents more difficulty.
a. The Dragon's best engagement range for moving targets falls between 200 and 800 meters, for two reasons:
(1) The shorter flight time reduces the gunner's vulnerability to enemy counterfires.
(2) At closer ranges, the target appears larger in the sights.
b. The gunner's skill in tracking and hitting the target reflects his level of proficiency. Before he fires a Dragon missile at an enemy target, the gunner must determine whether he can engage the target. He can do so if—
It falls within engagement range.
Its exposure allows the gunner to identify and track it.
Its continued exposure gives the missile time to reach the target.
8-10. RANGE DETERMINATION
The Dragon gunners use the stadia lines in the daysights and nightsights to determine if a target falls within range. Moving and stationary vehicles may present flank, oblique, and frontal or rear targets (Figure 8-11). At maximum range (1,000 meters), A 6-meter (20-foot) long target completely fills the area between the stadia lines and exceeds the stadia lines at a closer range.
Figure 8-11. Frontal, oblique, and flank targets.
a. Flanking Targets (Full Stadia). Adjust the sight picture by moving the launcher so the target centers between the stadia lines (Figure 8-12).
Figure 8-12. Range determination for flank target.
Figure 8-13. Range determination for oblique target, more flank visible.
Figure 8-14. Range determination for oblique target, more front or rear visible.
c. Frontal (Head-On) or Rear (Going Away, Half-Stadia) Targets. Adjust the sight picture by moving the launcher to align the vertical cross hair and one of the stadia lines on the target (Figure 8-15).
Figure 8-15. Range determination for frontal or rear target.
8-11. TIME AND SPACE
The gunner uses the time or space factor to determine whether he can engage the target.
a. The gunner looks through his sight to determine whether the missile can hit a moving target before it can find a covered position. He aims the sight at a point directly in front of the moving target. With a target moving at a speed of 35 KPH or less, if the gunner sees no obstructions or covered areas on the apparent path of the target, he can destroy the target (Figure 8-16).
Figure 8-16. Target able or unable to reach cover in time.
b. If the gunner places the cross hairs center of mass and fires at once, the target will not reach the protection of the hill in time (Figure 8-17). If the gunner does fire—the target will reach the protection of the hill before the missile hits (Figure 8-18).
Figure 8-17. Target unable to reach cover in time.
Figure 8-18. Target able to reach cover in time.
8-12. VULNERABLE POINTS OF ARMORED VEHICLES
After the gunner decides that he can engage a target, he should try to hit it at its weakest points. Leaders can help by positioning Dragons where the gunners can take advantage of those weak points.
a. To do so, the gunners must know the weak points of each type of enemy armored vehicle. An enemy armored vehicle usually has the most armor protection on its front glacis (slope). It has less on its flanks, and still less on its top, back, and belly. Any armored vehicle's weakest areas include its internal fuel tanks, ammunition storage areas, and engine. Destroying the engine not only immobilizes the vehicle, but may ignite ruptured fuel lines, causing a fire or explosion.
b. Gunners have a better chance to get a kill with oblique or flanking shots. They must keep themselves ready for opportunities. For example, a potential target may expose its flank when it tries to bypass an obstacle or evade an oncoming ATGM. Gunners produce more mobility kills with flank and oblique shots. However, they can do so even if they only hit the vehicle's wheels, track, or suspension system (Figure 8-19). Flank shots deflect off armor less often than oblique shots. The top or bottom (belly) of an enemy armored vehicle may show briefly, while the vehicle breaches an obstacle or antitank ditch, fords a river with steep banks, or traverses a shallow valley. By carefully analyzing the terrain in the assigned sector of fire, the gunner can determine where approaching armor units will expose their weaker armor.
Figure 8-19. Flank and oblique target shots.
8-13. FIRE CONTROL
Effective Dragon fire requires well-planned and executed fire-control measures. Proper fire control ensures that Dragons engage targets at the best possible times. Leaders should never endanger Dragon gunners by ordering them to fire prematurely. Firing at a target traveling out of range offers little chance of success. So would firing when, for any reason, a target offers little chance of a first-round kill. Leaders should employ only the Dragon best sited to hit the target. Lack of fire control reduces a unit's antiarmor capability. Under ideal conditions, Dragons dispersed as far apart as 1,600 to 2,000 meters can concentrate their fires on the same group of targets (Figure 8-20).
Figure 8-20. Dragon dispersion.
a. Fire Control Methods. Effective fire control methods prevent the wasteful firing of more than one Dragon missile at the same target, and they prevent premature firings. Unnecessarily firing a Dragon may disclose the location of the defensive position to the enemy. Dragon fire control methods include sectors of fire, TRPs, engagement priorities, fire patterns, and fire commands.
b. Sector of Fire. A sector of fire refers to an area limited by boundaries and assigned to a unit or weapon to cover by fire (Figure 8-21). The gunner or unit assigned a sector of fire may fire only within that sector. Leaders make sure that sectors overlap in order to cover all areas and so that the Dragon gunners do not hesitate when enemy vehicles come into range.
Figure 8-21. Sector of fire.
c. Target Reference Point. By definition, a TRP identifies an easily recognizable, natural or man-made point on the ground. Each gunner in the unit's sector must know how to identify all TRPs visually or by locating them on a map. TRPs offer a great way to define visually a gunner's sector of fire.
d. Engagement Priorities. Engagement priority means the order in which Dragons engage the various types of vehicles in an enemy formation. Because many enemy tanks have improved armor, Dragons have the best chance of killing command and control vehicles and APCs. If the unit has TOWs and tanks, it should use those weapons to kill enemy tanks. The warning or OPORD lists the engagement priority, which includes as its main priority the completion of the mission. The engagement priority (Figure 8-22) lists C2 vehicles first, because the enemy relies heavily on its leaders for combat operations. Eliminating leadership will cause confusion and disrupt the enemy's mission.
Figure 8-22. Example of engagement priority.
e. Fire Patterns. Fire patterns describe the relationship between Dragons and their targets. Firing patterns help leaders control gunners. They also give gunners specific targets to focus on. Two basic patterns include cross fire and depth fire. Leaders should not fixate on one, but should remain flexible and change the pattern as needed. Within the unit's sector, the leader could use both patterns at the same time.
(1) Cross Fire. Leaders use cross fire with targets dispersed laterally or when obstructions prevent the Dragon from firing to the front. Gunners must stagger their cross fire. That is, when the first missile hits, only then may the next gunner fire. Cross fire prevents Dragon gunners from picking up the infrared flare from, and thus controlling, each other's missiles instead of their own. Cross fire increases the chance of a kill.
(a) Flanking Targets. With flanking targets, leaders have each gunner engage the target at a diagonal to his position.
(b) Frontal Targets. With a frontal target, that is, a target moving straight at the Dragon, cross fire helps prevent detection.
(c) Follow-Up. As they destroy their targets, Dragon gunners shift their fire to the center of the enemy formation (A, Figure 8-23).
Figure 8-23. Fire patterns.
(2) Depth Fire. Leaders use depth fire when targets are exposed in depth. Dragons on one side engage the nearest targets, while Dragons on the other side engage the farthest targets. The gunners then shift their fire toward the center of the formation. This can be specified by unit SOP or in the section leader's order (B, Figure 8-23).
f. Fire Commands. The leader can use fire commands to control the gunner's rate of fire, time of fire, and point of fire. However, when distance dictates radio delivery of fire commands, the gunner will have to divide his concentration between listening to the radio and firing the Dragon. His assistant, if he has one, can listen to the radio and relay the radio commands (Table 8-2).
Warns the gunner(s) of a fire mission.
"Enemy in sector, prepare to fire."
TARGET DESCRIPTION/ LOCATION
Briefly describes the target location relative to a TRP or the gunner
"BMP, 200 meters right of TRP 1."
METHOD OF ENGAGEMENT
Provides instructions for engaging a formation — fire cross or depth fire, fire front to rear, fire left to right or right to left, and so forth.
"Team Alpha, fire from rear to center."
"Team Bravo, fire from front to center."
Gives the command to fire.
"Team Alpha, fire."
Table 8-2. Fire commands and examples.
g. Emergency Fire Signals. How would the leader control fires at a distance without radio? The next quickest option includes using sectors of fire and alternate signals with pyrotechnics. Units must establish SOPs and practice what communications procedures to use when they lose communications.
h. Range Cards. In some situations, such as when moving from position to position to cover the movement of an advancing force or during retrograde operations, preparing and using range cards does not work. Then, TRPs offer the best way to control the distribution of fire. However, if time and circumstances permit, gunners should prepare range cards for primary, alternate, and supplementary positions. These valuable tools help the gunner engage targets successfully.
8-14. LIMITED VISIBILITY
The gunner has little opportunity to engage targets in darkness, haze, smoke, or fog. The platoon or company must have a simple and quick procedure or SOP that will help him conduct quick limited visibility engagements and that includes provisions for—
a. Target Acquisition. The gunner can find targets using his sight, binoculars, NVDs, or a combination of these.
b. Communications. The platoon leader ensures he has the communications means to issue target acquisition data and fire commands rapidly. These means must allow him to disseminate SOPs, signals, and fire commands. In a static position, he can "hot loop" all essential personnel on wire communications.
c. Illumination. When natural and battlefield light sources, such as burning vehicles, provide too little light to illuminate the target, the gunner uses the AN/TAS-5 nightsight. Leaders may have responsive artificial sources of illumination they can dedicate to supporting antiarmor fires. Two examples of illumination available to platoon leaders for marking TRPs at night include artillery and mortar illumination. (Chapter 1 discusses AN/TAS-5 operational capabilities.)
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