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The roots of the TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE problem are the different primary communications systems used by the force. Non-TACFIRE artillery units use voice communication for command and control. In TACFIRE units, while voice is still used, digital communication is the primary means of conducting control functions.


Digital communication offers tactical advantages: high speed and less vulnerability to radio direction finding, intercept, and jamming. However, it does not allow simultaneous distribution of information. This is an important consideration for commanders concerned with synchronization of combat power.

TACFIRE digital communication is point-to-point in nature. TACFIRE sends separate messages to each destination. It offers information sharing by message of interest (MOI) processing. This allows TACFIRE to receive a message, automatically generate a copy, and transmit the copy to an appointed agency (MOI subscriber). This works well within TACFIRE-equipped organizations. However, units that use solely voice communication lack the digital communications terminals required to receive and action MOI information.

The task then is to develop a plan to distribute a limited number of digital terminals to key positions. This will support the information-sharing requirements of both units. This plan should be as simple as possible and should cause no disruption of either unit's SOPs. The plan must also address the training problem raised by the non-TACFIRE unit's lack of familiarity with TACFIRE. There are various techniques for achieving interoperability. The operator's skill and attention to detail under stress will become even more important. Equipment faults will become even more critical than for normal TACFIRE operations.

Maintaining a level of commonality between the units under these conditions will be difficult, but it is essential for success. There are two basic situations presented in this appendix: a non-TACFIRE unit reinforced by a TACFIRE unit and vice versa.


There are three major considerations in planning for TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE operations.

Tactical Missions

The first consideration is the tactical missions of the two organizations. Each unit will retain its assigned tactical mission. The need to interoperate in no way negates each battalion's inherent mission responsibilities.

Attack Guidance

The second consideration is the attack guidance of the supported maneuver commander, which must translate into commander's criteria. This term refers to a wide range of parameters an operator can input into the TACFIRE computer so that commander's guidance and the tactical situation are considered during processing. An order of precedence must be established for commander's criteria. The commander having the higher priority mission will establish the commander's criteria.

NOTE: The dual purpose mission of the GSR battalion is taken into consideration in the order of precedence. When the div arty or FA brigade transmits a fire order to the battalion, commander's criteria will have already been applied.

Equipment and Personnel Distribution

The third consideration is how to distribute digital communications equipment and TACFIRE personnel. The sole criteria for the options discussed in this appendix are mission and digital equipment available.


The techniques involved in facilitating TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE unit interface vary with the tactical situation. However, they can be reduced to two general options, one of which contains two alternatives.

Option 1

Merge or collocate the command posts (or at least the FDCs) of the non-TACFIRE and TACFIRE units.

Option 2

Maintain separate CPs and establish full-time, digitally capable (that is, with a VFMED or a PSG-2 DMD) liaison between the two battalions. The responsibility to provide liaison inherent in the tactical mission does not change. However, the liaison requirement may influence the commander's choice of options or alternatives. If the battalion must provide liaison as an inherent part of its mission, the commander may choose to expand the role of the liaison team to include facilitating the TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE interface. In determining whether to use Option 2, the commander must realize that, regardless of tactical mission, the TACFIRE-equipped unit must provide digitally-equipped liaison to the non-TACFIRE unit. In the case of a TACFIRE DS battalion being reinforced by a non-TACFIRE battalion, each unit must provide liaison to the other. Within Option 2, there are two alternatives.

Alternative 1. When the non-TACFIRE battalion is equipped with the battery computer system, maintain separate fire direction centers. The non-TACFIRE batteries are put into the TACFIRE battalion computer. Fire orders are sent from the TACFIRE unit to the non-TACFIRE unit's batteries digitally. The non-TACFIRE unit is kept informed via the liaison team.

Alternative 2. The TACFIRE unit gives up a VFMED with trained operators to create a liaison team "out of hide" to send to the non-TACFIRE unit. One possible source for the liaison digital device is the O&I element's VFMED. (Sending a liaison team is already an inherent mission if the TACFIRE unit has an R or a GSR mission.)

NOTE: Fielding of the FIST DMD PSG-2 will greatly enhance TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE operations. DMDs will be particularly advantageous when a TACFIRE unit reinforces a non-TACFIRE unit. The non-TACFIRE unit will be able to send fire missions digitally to TACFIRE or directly to the battery BCSs as required.


Each of the two options has advantages and disadvantages relative to the tactical missions of both the TACFIRE and the non-TACFIRE battalion. The supported FA commander will decide which option (or combination of options) to employ to best accomplish the missions of both units.


Situation 1--Non-TACFIRE DS Battalion Reinforced by a TACFIRE Battalion

Planning--Organization of Units.

Option 1--Collocated Command Posts. This option gets the non-TACFIRE battalion into the digital arena. The resulting physical and electronic signatures can be reduced by deploying the TACFIRE shelter and the non-TACFIRE battalion HHB (minus battalion commander and staff) as a support CP. The main CP then consists of the TACFIRE battalion O&I element and the non-TACFIRE battalion commander and staff. Wire communication links the support CP to the main CP.

The collocation of command groups raises the question of combined staff functions. A combined staff supports the 24-hour mission with two teams. Each team must have a mixture of members qualified in TACFIRE and manual methods. An example is shown below

Option 2--Separate Command Posts. Under this option, the TACFIRE unit sends a liaison team to the non-TACFIRE unit. The team carries the O&I element's VFMED or a PSG-2 DMD if it is available. This creates a degraded O&I element at the TACFIRE unit. However, the liaison team can enter information into TACFIRE digitally.

Fire Mission Processing. Fire mission processing depends largely on which option the commander decides to use. The responsibilities inherent in the tactical mission do not change.

Option 1. Fire missions are called in to the FA battalion FDC by voice and are processed by TACFIRE. TACFIRE can then send the fire orders to BCS-equipped batteries digitally. The batteries still must be ready to receive voice fire orders. TC 6-40 gives excellent guidance on how to send voice fire orders. A thorough knowledge of how to send voice fire orders is essential to continuing the fire support mission when digital communication is not possible.

Option 2. The units operate the way they normally train. The liaison team sends the call for reinforcing fires to the TACFIRE battalion FDC. If the liaison team has a DMD or VFMED, fire requests can be transmitted digitally. The liaison team uses a voice call for fire if it is not digitally equipped. A good liaison team should keep both the supported and supporting units abreast of the situation. This means the liaison officer must be sure that both units have the following data:

  • Ammunition and fire unit data.
  • Battlefield graphics (control measures and geometry).

  • Commander's criteria (attack guidance).

  • Fire planning information (as required).

  • Situation reports.

Fire Support Planning. The TACFIRE computer assists the DS battalion in its fire support planning effort. Using TACFIRE to conduct fire support planning requires assistance from the R battalion TACFIRE personnel. Fire planners must apply the maneuver commander's criteria to the data base for the fire plan. These criteria are input and stored in the R battalion TACFIRE. Fire planners then determine the fire support assets and the fire support coordinating measures to be put into the TACFIRE data base.

The targeting effort of the DS battalion remains the same. Fire support personnel submit their target lists by voice up through the fire support chain for processing. The battalion FDC or the liaison team, if equipped with VFMED, enters these targets into the preliminary target list. Using the div arty TACFIRE artillery target intelligence files, fire planners can develop additional targets for this list. The liaison team, using the maneuver commander's guidance, applies fire planning criteria to the plan and gives the computer scheduling instructions. The TACFIRE unit now computes the plan and sends it to the non-TACFIRE unit for action. During the execution phase, the plan is disseminated to the firing batteries digitally, by use of NNFP; FCs or voice communication. Voice communication may prove to be a better method for sending the fire plan data to the batteries.

Net Structure. The DS non-TACFIRE communications net structure is almost unchanged. The single required change is that the battalion ops/F net becomes a digital net. This net supports the data link between the R battalion TACFIRE, the DS battalion BCSs, and the liaison team. The TACFIRE battalion FDC should be the NCS for this net. The supporting battalion monitors the DS battalion FD voice nets.

Situation 2--TACFIRE DS Battalion Reinforced by Non-TACFIRE Battalion

Planning--Organization of Units. This interoperability configuration is somewhat easier to execute than that discussed in Situation 1. The DS TACFIRE battalion has digital devices for the fire support and target acquisition devices (AFSOs, radars, and so forth).

Planning considerations are the same as in the first situation. The TACFIRE operator must input the maneuver commander's criteria to establish mission priorities. The two options have the same advantages and disadvantages as before. The DS battalion may send a VFMED-equipped liaison team to the R or GSR unit. If a VFMED is not available for this purpose, the supporting unit sends liaison to the supported unit. In either case, this liaison team has the mission of helping the non-TACFIRE unit integrate into the TACFIRE operation.

NOTE: The force artillery headquarters programs the GS criteria into its computer. The computer then applies this guidance to missions fired by the GS units when supporting the force. Commanders and their staffs must then determine the sources and requirements for information needed to support the scheme of maneuver and how to place input-output devices to support these requirements. If the team is VFMED-equipped, the force artillery TACFIRE can address the GS mission by relaying through the DS TACFIRE unit to the GSR unit.

Fire Mission Processing. Fire mission processing is the same as in normal operations. If the liaison team sent to the non-TACFIRE battalion has the O&I element's VFMED or a FIST DMD, the liaison team receives requests for reinforcing fires digitally. The liaison team then gives the supporting unit the request.

All observers must be able to call for fires by voice. Thus, when the TACFIRE-equipped unit FDC moves, the non-TACFIRE unit can take command and control of both units by using voice communication. The basic concept is to keep procedures simple and in accordance with those in the FM 6-20 series, FM 6-30, and TC 6-40. A good way to tell observers to use voice calls for fire is to use a code word obtained from the brevity list in the SOI. When fire support and firing battery personnel hear the code, they know that it is time to use voice calls for fire and voice fire orders.

Fire Support Planning. The TACFIRE automated fire planning capability should be used as much as possible. All printouts generated during the fire planning process should be saved. This allows the fire planners to continue fire planning efficiently even if TACFIRE becomes inoperative. The TACFIRE operator will enter any plans generated in the O&I element if that element does not have its VFMED, which may have been sent with the liaison team. The operator in the TACFIRE FDC will be doing many tasks normally done in the O&I element; therefore, he may experience more stress, and his performance may be degraded over time. This situation has the same fire plan execution method as Situation 1.

Net Structure. The DS battalion communications net structure remains almost intact. The single required change is that the DS battalion TACFIRE FDC, the R or GSR FDC, and the liaison team now use the battalion ops/F net for the digital data link. The TACFIRE battalion FDC will be the NCS for this net. The R or GSR battalion will not monitor the DS battalion FD nets, since these are primarily digital. The R or GSR unit will monitor the established voice fire net, normally the supported maneuver unit FS net.


The recommendations below concern techniques and procedures for executing fire support in a TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE environment.


The main consideration for C2 relationships between the two battalions is developing a mutually acceptable scheme of control that avoids unusual or unfamiliar procedures. During execution, C2 procedures must be as simple as possible and consistent with the way the unit normally operates.

Conduct a coordination meeting between the commanders and operational staffs of the two battalions. Using the maneuver commander's concept, develop commander's criteria for programming into TACFIRE to accomplish the mission. Develop unit assignment ordering (ASGORD) numbers to be used. Ensure that all units involved are completely informed about the plan and are able to execute.

The S3s and FDOs of the two units trying to interoperate develop information requirements and then determine sources of information to support these requirements between the units. During the execution of the plan, the S3 gets feedback on how well the plan is working and makes adjustments as necessary. The best plan poorly executed will not accomplish the mission. Because there is a limited amount of digital equipment in this type of operation, the main requirement is to ensure that personnel in either unit can function without digital communication.

Net Structure

The primary communications consideration is establishing a digital link between the TACFIRE and non-TACFIRE units. This link will normally be the DS battalion ops/F net. All other nets in each battalion are unchanged.

Fire Support Planning

Implement procedures to make the maximum use of TACFIRE. Make certain the maneuver commander's concept is used to develop criteria for the fire plan. These criteria or guidance must be programmed into the TACFIRE data base.

Fire Control Coordination

Determine the right mix of manual versus automated control. Agree on procedures to handle requests from supported to supporting units.

Fire Orders

As previously discussed, FM; FCs (fire orders) can be sent from the TACFIRE unit to the BCS-equipped batteries of a non-TACFIRE battalion either digitally or by voice.

If all batteries are to receive digital fire orders, the non-TACFIRE units must be entered into the TACFIRE communications data base. This data base can be checked with a SYS;1201 report. Communication must then be established with the non-TACFIRE unit BCSs. (The non-TACFIRE battalion commander relinquishes a degree of tactical fire control over his unit when using this method.)

The TACFIRE battalion may send requests for fire to the non-TACFIRE battalion FDC digitally via the liaison team's VFMED or DMD or by voice. The non-TACFIRE battalion FDC then sends fire orders to its batteries by voice. The following are procedures to effectively issue voice fire orders:

  • Develop fire order standards for both battalions, DA Form 5338-R (Computer Checklist) can be used as a work sheet. The units should develop identical fire order standards if possible. This will allow for rapid voice dissemination of fire orders with a minimum of confusion.
  • Use call signs from the SOI when announcing units to fire.

Instead of saying BATTALION, use the first letter of the unit's abbreviated call sign.
Battalion FDO says TANGO 6 ROUNDS.
(Unit's abbreviated call sign is T68.)
  • Modify the voice fire order. These modifications are as follows:

- Give target location and altitude.
- Use actual times for time-on-target missions as opposed to, for example, 5 MINUTES FROM NOW.
- Give the target number with the fire order.
This is an example of how the FDC can quickly issue a fire order for a battery to fire six volleys of dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM). (DPICM has been specified as standard.)

(The battery designated by the unit SOP reads back the fire order.)
GRID 416352, ALTITUDE 345, OVER.
GRID 416352, ALTITUDE 345, OUT.

A battalion time on target can be called for just as easily.

GRID 416352, ALTITUDE 345, OVER.

Again, this method gets the critical information to the firing units with a minimum of transmission because of good fire order standards and clear and simple procedures.


The FA support plan must include additional paragraphs for TACFIRE-non-TACFIRE operations. This information will be included in the TACFIRE tab to the FA support appendix to the fire support annex to the maneuver OPORD. (See also the example in Appendix E.)

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