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This chapter implements portions of STANAG 2887 and QSTAG 217.
In combat the field artillery (FA) cannon battalion provides indirect fire support to maneuver forces on the battlefield. To do this, it must perform seven basic tasks. A command relationship is established with a senior headquarters (HQ), and a tactical mission is assigned each battalion.


Coordinate Fire Support

The senior field artilleryman assigned to the force is responsible for managing the fire support effort of that force. Also, he is the principal advisor on fire support matters. Details for the total fire support effort are in FM 6-20. This publication concentrates on the cannon FA support effort.

Acquire Targets

This task represents the eyes of the FA fire support effort. Target acquisition (TA) is discussed at length in Chapter 5 and involves both organic and nonorganic means.

Deliver Field Artillery Fires

This task represents the muscle of the FA fire support effort. It involves all the efforts required for the gunnery team (observer, fire direction center [FDC], firing sections) to get the proper weapons-ammunition combinations on targets. Chapter 4 discusses this function in detail.


Communication in an FA cannon battalion is essential to efficient fire support. The communications system must satisfy combat power requirements. These include fire support, command and control, and maneuver. This task is discussed in Chapter 6.


Movements of FA units must be planned and synchronized so continuous fire support can be provided to the maneuver operation. This task is discussed in Chapter 3 along with considerations in positioning the unit as a result of that move.

Maintain and Resupply

Maintaining and resupplying FA units contribute to the sustainment of the battle and the combat power of the force as a whole. This task is discussed in Chapter 7 as a part of battalion combat service support (CSS) operations.


To provide support, the battalion must survive. Chapter 3 presents movement and positioning technique that will enhance the chances of the battalion surviving in a combat environment. These techniques should be used as a guide. Units should develop their own tactics, techniques, and standing operating procedures (SOPs) to avoid detection and destruction by enemy forces. Normally, the battalion is employed in its separate entities--firing units, trains, and a command post (CP). Therefore, the battalion commander and staff must be aware of the techniques as they affect these separate entities. These techniques are discussed throughout this manual.


Command and control of the FA cannon battalion are established through a two-step process.

  • The first step is to establish a command relationship with a senior headquarters. This relationship -- either organic, assigned, attached, or operational control (OPCON) -- is normally established with an FA headquarters, such as division artillery (div arty) or an FA brigade. However, it can be established with a maneuver headquarters.
  • Once a command relationship is established, a tactical mission is assigned. The four standard field artillery tactical missions are direct support (DS) reinforcing (R), general support reinforcing (GSR), and general support (GS). The assignment of a tactical mission and the inherent responsibilities associated with each mission establish in detail the relationship between the supporting FA unit and the maneuver or FA headquarter being supported.

Command Relationships

Clearly defined, systematic, and positive command and control (C2) are required to ensure that the field artillery contributes to total fire support in a responsive manner and that it is adequate to support the mission. The C2 relationships that may be established between an FA battalion and a senior headquarters are discussed below.

Organic. An organic element is one that is assigned to and forms an essential part of a military organization. Normally, it is shown in the unit TOE. Examples are a Firefinder radar (AN/TPQ-36) section organic to a light division DS battalion and a TA platoon (radar, survey, and meteorology [met]) organic to a DS battalion in a separate maneuver brigade.

Assigned. A unit or personnel may be placed in an organization on a relatively permanent basis. That organization controls, administers, and provides logistical support to the unit or personnel for the primary function, or the greater part of the functions, of the unit or personnel. Examples are FA battalions assigned to division artilleries.

Attached. Units or personnel may be placed in an organization temporarily. Subject to limitations imposed by the attachment order, the commander of the formation, unit, or organization receiving the attachment exercises the same degree of command and control over the attached unit as he does over units and persons organic to his command. However, the responsibility for transfer and promotion of personnel normally is retained by the parent formation, unit, or organization. The attachment order should state clearly the administrative and support responsibilities of the gaining unit to the attached unit. Examples are FA battalions assigned to the corps and attached to FA brigades of the corps.

Operational Control. OPCON is the authority delegated to a commander to direct forces assigned so that he may--

  • Accomplish specific missions or tasks that are usually limited by function, time, or location.
  • Deploy units concerned.
  • Retain or assign tactical control of those units.

OPCON does not, of itself, include administrative or logistical control. In NATO, it does not include authority to assign separate employment of components of the units concerned. Normally, OPCON is not a command relationship given to FA units. The four tactical missions (DS, R, GSR, and GS) perform the same function yet more precisely define the relationship with the supported command.

Standard Tactical Missions

A field artillery tactical mission describes in detail the support responsibilities of an FA unit. The mission also establishes the relationship of the FA unit with a maneuver unit or another FA unit. It does not affect the organizational structure or the command relationships that result from that structure. A field artillery tactical mission is assigned by the force commander. He bases his assignment on the advice of the force artillery commander, who is the fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) for the force. See FM 6-20-2 for a detailed discussion of the considerations for assigning an FA battalion a particular tactical mission.

Field artillery battalions normally meet their FA support requirements through one of four basic standard tactical missions: direct support, reinforcing, general support reinforcing and general support. Assignment of a tactical mission implies that a field artillery commander will meet each of the seven inherent responsibilities of his mission.

Direct Support. A battalion operating in direct support of a maneuver unit is primarily concerned with the FA support needs of only that unit. The DS battalion commander is the FSCOORD for the supported maneuver force. Fires are planned and coordinated with the maneuver unit, and the DS battalion commander positions his unit where it can best support the scheme of maneuver. If the battalion cannot provide the support required for a planned scheme of maneuver, the FSCOORD must inform the supported maneuver commander. The same battalion should support the same maneuver force habitually to enhance coordination and the training effort. Direct support is the most decentralized standard tactical mission.

Reinforcing. Reinforcing is a tactical mission that causes one FA battalion to augment the fires of another FA battalion. When a direct support FA battalion needs additional fires to meet the FA support needs of a maneuver force, the reinforcing mission may be assigned to another FA battalion.

General Support Reinforcing. The GSR mission requires the FA battalion to furnish artillery fires for the force as a whole and to reinforce the fires of another FA battalion as a second priority. A GSR battalion remains under the control of the force artillery headquarters, which has priority of fires. The GSR mission gives the force commander flexibility to meet the requirements of a variety of tactical situations.

General Support. A battalion assigned the mission of general support supports the force as a whole and stays under the immediate control of the force artillery headquarters. This mission makes artillery immediately responsive to the needs of the force commander. It is the most centralized of the standard tactical missions.

Nonstandard Tactical Missions

If the commander's intent for fire support cannot be accurately conveyed with one of the standard FA tactical missions, a nonstandard tactical mission may be assigned. That mission may amplify, limit, or change one or more of the seven inherent responsibilities; or it may spell out contingencies not covered by those responsibilities. A nonstandard mission is assigned if there is not enough field artillery to cover all the contingencies or if an FA battalion is assigned more than one functional mission.

If the revision of a tactical mission is so complex that the standard field artillery mission is no longer recognizable, a nonstandard mission statement will address each of the seven inherent responsibilities.


1-50 FA:        GSR 1-20 FA; do not exceed 50 percent of CSR to R 1-20 FA.
1-89 FA:        GS provide liaison officer to div arty TOC.

The nonstandard tactical mission is one means of adjusting to an unusual tactical situation. It is also a means by which the commander can tailor his fire support assets in anticipation of future operations. Another way the commander can prepare his fire support for future operations is to give the units contingency or on-order tactical missions. The assignment of an on-order mission lets a unit anticipate an FA support need in a future situation.


1-50 FA:        R 1-20 FA; O/O DS 3 BDE
1-89 FA:        DS 1-23 Cav (div security force); after completing rearward passage, GS 52 Inf                       Div Mech).


bde = brigade                                                                    inf = infantry

cav = cavalry                                                                    mech = mechanized

CSR = controlled supply rate                                            O/O = on order

div = division                                                                    TOC = tactical operations center

Operations in an Allied Environment

As stated here, each of the four standard tactical missions has seven inherent responsibilities. However, these tactical missions and responsibilities are not viewed exactly the same by the armies of nations allied with the United States. A battalion commander may be required to operate in an environment covered by bilateral agreements. In this environment, the operation order (OPORD) will be his guide for bilateral operations. The United States and its NATO allies and its British, Canadian, and Australian allies have agreed to the terms of STANAG 2887 and QSTAG 217, respectively. When they are supporting allied troops or working with allied artillery, FA battalion commanders must know the responsibilities included in these agreements as viewed by other nations.

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