UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!




Figure 1-1.

The doctrinal principles described in this chapter are guides for the
management and employment of FA target acquisition systems. Local
modifications of these principles should be considered in light of their
impact on the total TA system. Several tactical radars were designed
specifically to meet the targeting needs of the Field Artillery. Current FA
target acquisition systems include the AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37
weapons-locating radars (WLRs), commonly known as the Firefinder
radars, and the AN/TPS-25A and AN/TPS-58B moving-target-locating
radars (MTLRs).


The targeting process supports the commander's decision as to which targets will be attacked. It helps determine which broad attack option will be used to attack the targets--maneuver, electronic warfare, fire support, or a combination of these. It also helps to determine which particular asset will engage the target. The targeting methodology can be characterized as decide-detect-deliver.

The decide function of the targeting process provides the priorities that apply to the following:

  • The tasking of TA assets.

  • Information processing.

  • The selection of an attack means.

  • The requirement for target damage assessment (TDA).

The decide function identifies enemy high-value targets (HVTs) during intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). The HVTs are evaluated in staff estimates, and the enemy courses of action (ECOAs) are war-gamed to determine the most likely one. IPB continues with Threat integration and decision support template (DST) development. Targets whose effective engagement will most greatly affect friendly operations are consolidated into a high-payoff target (HPT) list. This HPT list must be approved by the commander. Once a target has been selected as an HPT, the means of attacking the target is selected. Attack options include maneuver units and their direct fire weapons, attack helicopters, nonlethal systems, and the indirect fire support systems. If indirect fire support systems are used to attack targets, the field artillery is responsible for coordinating the fires.

The detect function translates the target priorities developed in the decide function into the intelligence collection plan and TA taskings given in the operation order (OPORD). The G2 or S2 is the principal director of the collection management effort. The effort is focused on the HPI list. Collection management synchronizes the use of all organic or attached TA assets to collect and process information. It then disseminates that information in the form of targets to an attack system.

The deliver function is the actual attack of targets by lethal and/or nonlethal means in accordance with the commander's attack guidance. If TDA reveals that the commander's guidance has not been met, the targeting process will continue focusing on that target.

The targeting process is continuous at all levels from corps through division and brigade to task force. Because of their command and control (C2) requirements, ranges, and capabilities, field artillery TA assets are located mainly at division and brigade levels. Target acquisition, however, is still an integral part of the entire targeting process. (See FM 6-20-10 for a detailed discussion of the targeting process.)


Field artillery target acquisition plays a key role in the targeting process. Without accurate targeting data, indirect fire weapons (such as mortars, cannons, rockets, and naval guns) are of limited value.

The WLRs organic to FA units are the primary means of locating enemy indirect fire support systems. Tasks for the WLRs should be integrated into the collection plan priorities developed in the decide function. If appropriate, tasks should be noted on the operational factors matrix of the DST for special actions at specific points in the battle. (See FM 34-3 for a detailed discussion of the DST and operational factors matrix.)

Tasking for the moving-target-locating radars that are organic to FA organizations should also be an integral part of the collection plan. The range advantage of these MTLRs over the AN/PPS-5 and AN/PPS-15 moving-target-indicator (MTI) radars makes them valuable for target acquisition and/or development. The G2 or S2 should treat the MTLRs much as he does the MTI radars in the collection effort.


Technology has made the battlefield extremely lethal. To survive, we must find and attack the enemy before he can find and attack us. Timely target acquisition provides the means to ensure coordinated fire support to increase our lethality and, ultimately, our survivability.

The targeting process complements operational planning and the synchronization of combat power. The fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) oversees the routine activity and function of managing most target attack assets. Targeting is enhanced by the formation of the maneuver commander and his principal operational, intelligence, and fire support advisors into an informal functional team. This ensures that targetintelligence gathering assets belonging to national sources, military intelligence (MI), the US Air Force (USAF), and maneuver forces will be exploited for targeting information.

Direct Support Battalion

To effectively perform its mission, the direct support FA battalion must be able to acquire and attack targets within the supported unit area of interest and/or area of operations.

Many targets reported by members of the fire support team (FIST) will be immediate threats to the supported force. They must be expeditiously attacked. The DS battalion may also have one or more organic or attached AN/TPQ-36 radars. With them, the battalion can either locate and attack mortars and artillery or locate and report the targets to div arty for attack. If the DS battalion has a reinforcing artillery battalion, that battalion may be given command and control of the radar. The DS battalion S2, in close coordination with the DS battalion S3, the maneuver brigade S2, the targeting officer, and the brigade fire support officer (FSO), is responsible for staff supervision of the battalion TA effort.

Division Artillery
Tactical Operations Center

The div arty tactical operations center (TOC) supervises the counterfire effort of the division. The TOC therefore has an inherent responsibility for locating and correlating counterfire targets. It uses all sources of targeting information, organic and nonorganic, to locate targets. Although the major targeting effort of the TOC is directed toward counterfire targets, it develops other targets as well.

Field Artillery Brigade
Tactical Operations Center

The FA brigade TOC is organized similarly to a div arty TOC. It can use targeting information and intelligence to produce counterfire targets. However, the brigade TOC has no organic targeting capability. Therefore, the FA brigade (bde) headquarters must be augmented with targeting personnel when it is to perform the counterfire mission.

Corps Artillery

The corps artillery uses information produced by the corps intelligence (intel) assets and other sources at echelons above corps (EAC) to produce targets. Also, corps with a light, airborne, or air assault division assigned will have a corps target acquisition detachment (CTAD) for each of those divisions. These are designated as FA detachments (TA) (corps) in the field. The corps will attach its TA assets on the basis of mission needs. The detachment is normally collocated with a division to facilitate training. (See Chapter 5 for detailed information on the CTAD.)


Counterfire gains freedom of action for all friendly maneuver forces. It can be accomplished by the fire support system by both lethal and nonlethal means. Counterfire is not a separate battle. It is inseparably tied to close and deep operations and is part of the overall combined arms fight to achieve fire superiority. While a fine line may exist between counterfire and attack at depth, once a target is capable (that is, within range) of affecting the close fight, its attack is considered counterfire. Intelligence assets must be prioritized to accurately locate targets. Attack assets (such as artillery, mortars, close air support, attack helicopters, naval gunfire, and EW assets) must be brought to bear on the enemy total fire support system.

Counterfire is the maneuver commander's responsibility. The FSCOORD is his primary advisor and executor. Field artillery target acquisition exists to support the maneuver commander's scheme of maneuver during the offense and to protect his most vulnerable assets during the defense. Effective use of target acquisition enhances observation of critical terrain; for example, avenues of approach, potential assembly areas, and possible enemy reconnaissance routes. Maneuver commanders must emphasize that all combat information must be reported into fire support as well as operational channels. The commander ensures proper positioning of TA assets for maximum effectiveness of counterfires, counterpreparation fires, and counter-reconnaissance fires.


The AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 WLRs detect and locate enemy mortars, artillery, and rockets quickly enough for immediate engagement by friendly counterfire. They also may be used to observe registrations and help in adjusting fire for friendly artillery units. For specific information on the mission, operation, and characteristics of the Firefinder radars, see Chapter 3 .


The field artillery has two MTLR systems--the AN/TPS-25A and the AN/TPS-58B. These radars detect, identify, locate, and track moving ground targets. They enable the field artillery to acquire moving targets in enemy territory. For specific information on the mission, operation, and characteristics of the AN/TPS-25A and AN/TPS-58B, see Chapter 3.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list