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The amount of processing needed to develop a target varies extensively.
In its simplest form, targeting is the passing of a target from a known,
accurate, and reliable source to the fire control element (FCE) or FDC for
attack within established time frames. In its most complex form, it is the
collation of target indicators from diverse sources into a target
identification and location accurate enough to justify attack with fire
support means.

In TACFIRE-equipped units, target data are transmitted and processed automatically according to the commander's guidance and target selection standards stored in the TACFIRE computer. The automation of target processing has greatly enhanced the responsiveness of the entire fire support system. When the advanced field artillery tactical data system (AFATDS) is fielded, it will give the field artillery an even greater capability to process target data and engage targets expeditiously.

Although TACFIRE, and eventually AFATDS, provides automated target data processing, div arty and FA brigade headquarters still must be able to process target data manually. If the automated system fails, we must still be able to process incoming information. Also, not all units have an automated capability. We must be able to quickly and accurately process target data under all conditions. This appendix explains how target data are processed manually in either a div arty or an FA brigade headquarters.


Targeting information being reported to the TOC is recorded first on an artillery counterfire information form. (See Appendix B.) It is designed so that a user can report information by block letter to avoid confusion. It should be used as a work sheet to record information sent by voice. It should also be used as a prompt to ensure that a complete report is received.

Note: A reproducible copy of DA Form 2185-R
(Artillery Counterfire Information) is at the back
of this book. Its use is explained in Appendix B.

As soon as possible, information recorded on the artillery counterfire information form (ACIF) should be transferred to a target card. The target card is used to store detailed information chronologically so that it can be referenced quickly in a manual targeting operation. Target cards are prepared by and filed within the target production section of the targeting element in the div arty TOC. An original and two copies are prepared of each target card. Targets are disseminated by circulating the target cards through the TOC fire control element, operations element, and order-of-battle section and then back to the target production section for updating and filing. Target number and category are recorded in the heading of the target card. This allows the cards to be referenced by target number and target category. For detailed information on the use of the target card, see FM 6-20-2.

Information that comes into the TOC should be passed immediately to the target production section. The information is compared to target selection standards to determine if the reported data constitute a valid target or a suspect target. The information is then transcribed onto a target card, and actions described below are taken by the different sections within the TOC. Directional information that is not associated with a grid cannot be placed on a target card and should be placed on the ray overlay. The DA Forms 2185-R should be retained until the ray is associated with a target.

Target Card Flow for Targets

After a target card is completed for a target, the original should be sent to the FCE and one copy to the OB section. In the FCE, the information on the target card is compared to the attack guidance. If the guidance is met, a fire mission is processed. Fire support coordinating measures should be checked, and necessary coordination should be made before the fire mission is processed. The target is recorded on the master target list. Targets added to the master target list that were not originated by the FSE are sent to the FSE to be added to its target list. If the target is attacked, the FCE should record on the target card the unit that fired, date-time group of the engagement, and type and/or number of rounds fired before sending the card to the operations element.

The original target card is then sent by the FCE to the operations element to keep that element informed of the situation and to aid in the coordination of support for the FA system. The target is then added to appropriate schedules as necessary. Ammunition status is updated if necessary, and any requests for additional fire support are evaluated and sent to the appropriate agency.

As the fire control and operations elements are processing and annotating the original copy of the target card, the OB section is recording and evaluating the information on the copy it received from the target production section. Information should be recorded on the OB map, in a detailed duty log, and in an OB workbook.

After all the information has been added by the other sections, the original and copy of the card are returned to and filed in the target production section. One copy is filed by target number; the other, by target type after the data from one have been transcribed to the other. If the target was engaged, that information should be given to the OB section. Also, if TDA is available, it should be recorded on both copies of the target card and passed to the OB section.

Target Card Flow for
Suspect Targets

Grid-producing information received by the target production section that does not meet target selection standards and produces a suspect target is also recorded on a target card. For suspect targets, the original target card is maintained by the target production section and the information is posted on the target overlay as a suspect target. One copy is sent to the OB section for posting on the OB map. The OB section will analyze this new information to see if a target can be confirmed through other sources. When the OB section has recorded all of the information from the target card, OB section personnel will initial the section's copy of the target card and return it to the target production section. The target production section maintains suspect target cards in a separate file. Suspect target cards are continuously evaluated with new information to develop targets. Once a suspect target becomes a valid target, both copies of the target card are routed through the TOC as discussed above.

Duty Journal

If time permits, each element or section should keep a duty journal to record major events that occur during its shift. The duty officer will specify types of information to be recorded, all of which should ease shift transition. This information might include:

  • Changes in target selection standards or attack guidance.

  • Changes in the enemy posture, disposition, or activity.

  • Changes in the fire support capability.

  • Changes in fire support coordinating measures.


While a detailed record of information is desirable, peak activity periods may preclude such meticulous procedures. Traditionally, in manual operations, plotting information on maps has been a method of rapidly recording and displaying data. Each element will have at least one map. The targeting element will maintain two maps--one in the target production section and one in the OB section.


Target information is recorded on overlays by using target symbols and crater ray symbols. Target symbols should not be confused with gunnery tick marks. They are different in construction and with respect to the information recorded on them.

Target Symbol. A target symbol is a small cross with information pertaining to the target type and source. The upper right corner (Quadrant I) contains the target number; for example, AY2001. The lower right corner (Quadrant II) contains the source of the target and the target location error (TLE) of that source; for example, weapons-locating radar and a 0- to 50-meter target location error. The lower left corner (Quadrant III) contains the target description.

In the upper left quadrant of the symbol is recorded either the last time a transmission was picked up from that station, the last time fires were noted from the position, or the time the target was first located.

Not all agencies that plot targets need to put all the information in the target symbol. The FCE needs only the target number and type and sometimes target location errors when such errors force a modified attack response. The target production section should plot all the information to help in developing and purging targets. Unit SOP should establish required elements of targeting information to be plotted in each section or element to include FSEs. In any circumstances, the question that must be answered is, What must be recorded to allow us to perform our mission?

Figure A-1. Target Symbol

Suspect Targets. A suspect target symbol should be drawn with dashed lines. Everything known about the target should be included. Suspect targets should be plotted only by elements that are engaged in developing or predicting targets. They should never be plotted on maps used to control allocated fire support. In the case of the div arty TOC, only the targeting element would plot target indicators.

Target Indicators

Directional information that may indicate the location of a target is recorded by plotting rays on a ray overlay used on the target production map. Most rays will be plotted from crater analysis. (See Appendix B.) While not a high-technology source of information, crater analysis is still valuable. It is the only absolute way of confirming which weapon systems are firing into the zone short of actually seeing the weapon fire.

At div arty, the ray overlay should be posted on the target production section map. There should be provisions to transfer the overlay to the OB section map for brief periods to aid the OB section in target prediction.

Crater Rays. Crater rays are drawn on an overlay starting at the point where the rounds impacted. Rays are drawn in the direction reported in the SHELREP; that is, the direction from the impact point to the point from which the round was fired. On the overlay the impact point is represented by a dot, around which a small circle is drawn. The length of the ray drawn corresponds to the maximum range of the weapon that was associated with the shelling report. If the weapon is not known, the ray should be drawn to scale of the maximum range of the longest shooter in the zone.

The crater ray is labeled with all information available to aid target production and OB sections in developing targets. The description of the weapon or weapons that fired is placed on top of the ray. The description should conform to the format specified by SOP for describing Quadrant III of the target symbol (for example, number, caliber, and type of weapon). Care should be taken to ensure that the shelling report includes a rough count of rounds, the duration of the shelling, and the nature of the fire (volley or individual gun). Targeting personnel should prompt or query reporting agencies to provide such information, as it can be used to determine the number of weapons firing. In the case of a large number of rounds, careful examination of the craters should be made in an effort to determine the number of batteries that massed on the target.

The ray should be labeled below with the date-time group (DTG) associated with the shelling and the local file number of the SHELREP associated with the ray. If the DTG of the shelling is not available, the time the shelling was reported should be recorded. The local file number allows a target analyst to refer back to the SHELREP in the file to determine who sent the message and to view detailed information of the shelling not presented on the ray.

Figure A-2. Sample Crater Ray

Figure A-3. Crater Ray Color-Coding Scheme

Rays should be color-coded to avoid false correlation of data. The color-coding system above simply speeds up the process of correlating the rays. It should not preclude the target analyst from looking at the description of the rays before converting the intersections into a target.

Obviously, a chance for error exists if targeting personnel fail to look at the weapon description. However, the number of weapon system types in each Threat caliber range listed precludes assigning a specific color to each caliber and type.

When three crater rays associated with a specific caliber intersect and they are noted as occurring within a limited period of time, normally the result is a target. The rays may intersect at a single point, but more often they intersect to form a triangle from the intersection points. The target may be derived by placing a point in the center of the triangle formed by the intersecting rays. However, it is possible that the intersection triangle could be quite large. In that case, one of the rays is probably in error and the target analyst should wait until another ray or other information pertaining to the firing location is received. Once a target is developed or a ray is associated with a grid, the information should be transferred to a target card. The target card is processed as discussed earlier. The ray(s) may then be removed from the overlay, and the DA Forms 2185 should be placed in an inactive file.

Flash Rays. It is also possible to record an independent flash ray (that is, the graphical information from a reported observation of a flash associated with a measured azimuth). Flash rays are difficult to relate to a weapon system (except multiple rocket launchers) and usually cannot be ascribed to a specific caliber. Flash rays can be used in association with crater rays and suspect targets. All information available should be placed on the flash ray.

Figure A-4. Flash Ray


Each section in the div arty TOC keeps and processes different target information for different reasons. This paragraph details what information should be maintained in each section. The narrative is summarized by the flowchart at the end of the appendix.

Target Production Section

The target production section should maintain the target card file for the TOC. The section should keep an active file of current, valid, and suspect targets and an inactive file of targets that have been purged. The section should maintain the target production map and three overlays on which the following items should be attached or plotted:

  • Major friendly unit boundaries. These may be drawn on Overlay 1, or they may be drawn on the map if it has an acetate covering.

  • Target acquisition assets and their coverage. This information is included on Overlay 1.

  • The ray overlay. This is Overlay 2 and contains all reported ray information.

  • All targets in Categories 1, 2, and 4 and all suspect targets are on Overlay 3, the target overlay.

Order-of-Battle Section

The OB section plots information differently than the other elements of the TOC. Instead of plotting targets by using target symbols, the OB section uses standard military symbols. Standard military symbols allow a viewer to identify unit types very quickly. The primary mission of the OB section is to develop the enemy order of battle. Therefore, the section must be able to get the "big picture" very quickly. If the targets were plotted with target symbols, this would be much more difficult. The OB map should be posted with the following data:

  • The enemy situation, including suspect enemy units and boundaries.

  • Friendly unit boundaries.

  • A terrain and obstacle overlay, if prepared.

The OB section uses two other tools in predicting target locations and developing enemy order of battle. The first is the DA Form 1594 (Daily Staff Journal or Duty Officer's Log). The other is the order-of battle workbook. These tools, in conjunction with the OB map, allow the OB section to make predictions and projections about the enemy force.

Daily Staff Journal. Good military sense dictates that each functional part of the TOC keep track of the important incidents that occur on each shift. This ensures some continuity of operations and makes changing shifts more efficient. The OB section must keep such a journal, but it must also maintain a complete record of events based on the time that the event occurred or was noted. Therefore, the OB section maintains two daily journals. The first is kept like any staff journal, chronologically as information is received. The other daily staff journal kept by the OB section is maintained chronologically by event. This provides the OB officer a means of evaluating the activity in the sector and the implications of that activity based on the times noted. Because of the number of changes likely to occur in the second journal locally approved means such as magnetic boards or 3- by 5-inch cards may be used to facilitate inserting changes.

OB Workbook. The OB workbook is a collection of information that allows the OB section to file information by topic. The workbook is locally fabricated, and no set format is prescribed for the topics to be included. It will be maintained only for a particular operation or until a unit breaks contact, after which another workbook should be started. Examples of topics include FA weapons, nuclear-capable systems, movement indicators, air activity, command and control facilities, and deception. These are examples only. Individual units develop topics that are relevant to their operations. Order-of-battle officers must analyze the mission and the commander's requirements and prepare a workbook to support that mission.

Fire Control Element

The fire control element should plot all targets on the fire control map. If too many targets are being developed, consideration should be given to plotting the high-payoff targets first and the lower-priority types as time permits. Other items that should be plotted on, or attached to, the fire control map are:

  • Field artillery assets (that is, FA battalions) in the division zone and assets outside the division zone that can respond to requests from the division; for example, corps GS artillery or corps units general support reinforcing to the division but not positioned in the division zone. Range fans of each of these also are included.

  • Fire support coordinating measures and maneuver control measures.

  • Major friendly unit boundaries.

Operations Element

The operations element plots all friendly units and any targets that should be watched because of their serious potential to interfere with operations.


Target damage assessment is necessary to determine the effectiveness of attacks. In the case of particularly dangerous or important targets, the success of the operation may hinge on determining if an attack was successful. The agency responsible for determining overall TDA requirements is the targeting team. (See FM 6-20-10.) Certain TDA will be available from organic field artillery TA assets. The best source of TDA is direct observation of the target, either from the air or from the ground. While it may not be possible to divert an aircraft to observe a target, critical targets may require the programming of an acquisition asset to accomplish TDA. This will require the identification of targets requiring TDA during the planning process so that the G2 or S2 can plan for or request the acquisition asset for TDA. Other sources of TDA include:

  • Weapons-locating radars.

  • Prisoner-of-war interrogation (IPW).

  • Refugee and agent reports.

  • Stay-behind teams.

  • Captured documents, reports, and surveys of captured terrain.

  • Signals intelligence (SIGINT).

  • Activity analysis by intelligence personnel.


Purging targets is one of the most difficult aspects of the targeting problem. It is heavily dependent on understanding the tactics of the enemy and having a clear picture of the tactical situation. There is no way to produce a "cookbook" for purging targets, because the factors that drive purging are so situation- and terrain-dependent. There are some things that should be considered under any circumstances.

The increasing mobility of those forces that we may expect to face has led to a reevaluation of movement as a survival technique for those forces. In an offensive situation, self-propelled (SP) artillery may move as often as once every two missions for short distances (500 to 800 meters) to avoid counterfire. Command observation posts (COPs) in armored command and reconnaissance vehicles (ACRVs) can function completely from within their vehicles.

Similar vehicles are available for battery and battalion fire direction centers. These mobile self-contained targets will require that targeting personnel usually apply short dwell times to their locations.

Towed artillery and major unit main headquarters can be expected to remain in position for longer periods. The engineer capability to harden such targets may make them valid for longer periods than had originally been anticipated.

Rates of advance of opposing forces must be considered. Forward CPs and COPs, accompanying artillery, and maneuver units will need to be purged quickly if the rate of advance is high. Should the rate be low, such targets can be purged at the same rate as GS artillery, main headquarters, and other targets found in the division.

The dramatic increase in mobility of Threat air defense assets has made the concept of a suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) program for close-in air defense systems much more time-sensitive than in the past. The on-board land navigation and target acquisition systems have given short-to medium-range air defense weapons the ability to move and set up quickly.

Detailed tactics and terrain-dependent factors that determine purging criteria can come only from the intelligence elements that support the corps, division, and brigade. Purging guidance should be written down and posted in the targeting element and the fire support element. Purging guidance should reflect the time from acquisition to when the target is no longer valid. It should associate that time with a particular target or set of targets. TDA that indicates the target is no longer operating at that location should also be used to delete targets from the active file.

As targets are purged, the change in status must be reported to every element that maintains a target list or file.

Figure A-5. Manual Target Data Processing

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