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For the field artillery cannon battalion to provide effective fires in support of the maneuver force, the leaders of both the FA battalion and the maneuver force must understand the maneuver commander's concept of operations and the concept for employing fire support assets in support of maneuver operations. This chapter discusses the fire support requirements for the two basic types of maneuver operations, offense and defense, and fire support for specialized missions. The focus is cannon battalion operations in direct support of the maneuver unit, normally a brigade and the operations of cannon battalions performing either reinforcing or general support reinforcing tactical missions supporting DS units. Details on overall fire support management for maneuver operations are included in FMs 6-20, 6-20-10, 6-20-30, 6-20-40, and 6-20-50.

Section I


As it prepares to provide fire support to the maneuver force, the FA cannon battalion is subject to the same constraints and limitations that the tactical situation has imposed on the maneuver commander the battalion supports. The friendly and enemy situations, the terrain, the weather, and the availability of logistical support will determine what fire support the battalion can provide. A critical part of the role of the FSCOORD is the ability to assess what the fire support system can and cannot do and to present this information to the maneuver commander in a clear and forthright manner. This assessment must be available to the supported commander throughout his planning process.


In planning for the employment of fire support assets to support maneuver operations, it is useful to break the process down into five areas of consideration.

  • Fire support tasks.
  • Command and control.
  • Positioning and displacement.
  • Fire support planning and coordination.
  • Additional considerations peculiar to a particular mission. or tactical situation.


In planning for maneuver operations and for fire support of maneuver operations, a number of factors must always be considered. These factors are the mission the enemy's capabilities and likely courses of action, the impact of the terrain and weather, the availability and condition of the planner's own troops, and time available for planning and execution of the mission. These factors maybe recalled by using the memory aid METT-T, for Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops, and Time available. The factors of METT-T must be considered in planning for field artillery support of any maneuver operation.


While planning, the maneuver commander considers both current and future operations for his force and the assets that will be available for each--the who, what, when, where, and why of what is to be accomplished.


The enemy's total overall capability must be considered. The commander must take into account anything the enemy is capable of doing and not just what he is most likely to do.

Terrain and Weather

The terrain and weather in the area are considered to determine how they affect the capabilities of both the attacker and the defender.


The quantity, level of training, physical condition, and morale of friendly forces (to include availability of weapon systems and critical equipment) are considered.

Time Available

For any maneuver mission to be successfully accomplished, the commander and his staff need time for planning, gathering and positioning forces, coordinating fire support and logistics and making whatever other preparations are required. The time available to accomplish these tasks has a significant impact on what the commander can do in any particular tactical situation.

Section II


The offensive is the decisive form of war--the commander's ultimate means of imposing his will on the enemy. Operational or tactical considerations may require the commander to temporarily assume e defensive posture. To win, however, he must ultimately attack. During offensive operations, maneuver forces are vulnerable, as they must expose themselves as they maneuver to close with the enemy. Fire support, particularly field artillery is critical to the success or failure of en offensive operation it prepares the way for the maneuver force by suppressing, neutralizing, or destroying the enemy as well as obscuring his vision of friendly movement.


The offense is a combat operation designed primarily to destroy the enemy. Offensive operations are conducted to--

  • Defeat enemy forces.
  • Secure key or decisive terrain.
  • Gain information.
  • Deceive and divert the enemy.
  • Deprive the enemy of resources.
  • Hold the enemy in position.
  • Disrupt an enemy attack.

In the offense, the commander has the advantage of choosing the time, place, and strength of the attack. To succeed, the attacker must maneuver quickly, penetrate deeply, survive enemy direct and indirect fires and countermeasures, and maintain the momentum of the attack.


AirLand Battle doctrine divides offensive operations into four general phases. These are preparation, attack, exploitation and pursuit. The length and nature of each phase vary with each situation. Several major types of offensive operations are included in the four general phases. The five types of offensive operations a cannon battalion can expect to support are as follows:

  • Movement to contact.
  • Hasty attack.
  • Deliberate attack.
  • Exploitation.
  • Pursuit.

An offensive operation can progress from a movement to contact to a hasty attack then to a deliberate attack to an exploitation and finally to a pursuit. However, not all offensive operations will necessary include each type of offensive mission.

Movement To Contact

The purpose of the movement to contact is to gain or regain contact with the enemy and to develop the situation enough to determine whether a hasty or deliberate attack is in order. Anytime the maneuver force is moving toward the enemy but is not in contact, the unit is performing this type of offensive operation.

Hasty Attack

The hasty attack allows minimum planning and usually develops from a movement to contact. It can also develop from the modification of a deliberate attack or small-unit counterattacks. It must occur without hesitation and the maneuver commander must seek the enemy's weakest sector. Suppression of enemy positions and weapons is crucial, and indirect FA fires must be integrated with direct fires.

Deliberate Attack

When an enemy weakness that would allow for a hasty attack has not been found a deliberate attack is conducted. It normally is conducted by a force larger than battalion size. A deliberate attack is characterized by the following:

  • Thorough detailed planning.
  • Rapid concentration of forces.
  • Timely use of enemy weaknesses.
  • Violent execution.
  • Positive aggressive leadership at all echelons of command.

Deliberate attack involves overcoming strong enemy forces in established positions. It is undertaken after thorough reconnaissance acquisition, and development of targets and analysis of all other factors affecting the situation. In general terms, during a deliberate attack, the attacking force seeks to--

  • Locate the enemy's weakest point.
  • Suppress positions from which the enemy can use direct fire.
  • Maneuver to the weakest point by use of the cover and concealment available.
  • Penetrate or envelop an open flank.

Fires must be planned to soften enemy defenses before the attack. Short violent preparations targeted against frontline defenses, observation posts (OPs), command and control, indirect fire weapons, and reserves are prearranged. During the attack, fires must be provided to--

  • Neutralize, destroy, or suppress forces that could impede the attack.
  • Suppress the enemy on the objective.
  • Neutralize resistance during the final assault.
  • Isolate the objective with fires beyond and to the flanks.

Fires during the consolidation phase must protect reorganizing troops; break up counterattack, and prevent enemy reinforcement, disengagement, or resupply.


The exploitation is undertaken to follow up success in the attack. It is a series of movements to contact and hasty attacks, all conducted with two overriding requirements--speed and violence. The attacker bypasses pockets of resistance and concentrates on destroying the more vulnerable headquarters, combat support, and combat service support units. The enemy's ability to reconstitute a defense or make an orderly withdrawal should be destroyed.


Pursuit follows successful attack and exploitation. It cuts off and annihilates a retreating enemy by keeping direct pressure on him and by intercepting and destroying his main force. Maneuver battalions can expect to be ordered to bypass resistance of any kind and to move relentlessly to deep objectives that serve as choke points for the retreating enemy. The considerations for movement to contact, hasty attack, and exploitation all apply to the pursuit, since it follows a successful attack and exploitation.


In the offense, fire support agencies must take a number of essential actions if the maneuver commander is to successfully accomplish his mission. These actions include the following:

  • Allocate responsive fire support for leading elements.
  • Allocate fire support to neutralize enemy bypassed combat forces.
  • Provide preparation fire, when required, to weaken enemy resistance.
  • Plan targets to protect assaulting troops by neutralizing or suppressing enemy direct fire weapons.
  • Plan fires beyond objectives to prevent enemy reinforcement during the attack and to support friendly consolidations once the objective has been seized.
  • Use permissive fire support coordinating measures well forward to preclude endangering friendly forces.


Basic Tasks

To support offensive maneuver operations, the supporting FA commander should consider specific aspects of the seven basic tasks of the field artillery.

Coordinate Fire Support. Coordinate fire support as follows:

  • Coordinate and synchronize all available fire support systems.
  • Destroy, neutralize and/or suppress enemy direct and indirect fire systems.
  • Suppress and slow mobile armor formations.
  • Provide fires in support of attack helicopters (AHs), tactical air (TACAIR), and joint air attack team (JAAT) operations.
  • Provide suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) fires.
  • Isolate the battlefield to prevent enemy withdrawal or reinforcement of forces in contact.
  • Identify and engage deep targets that affect the operation.

Acquire Targets. Acquire targets as follows:

  • Use all available sources to locate targets.
  • Plan to rely more on division and/or corps target acquisition assets for identification of deep targets.
  • Plan for frequent repositioning of TA assets to keep pace with the speed of the offense.

Deliver Field Artillery Fires. Accomplish this task as follows:

  • Provide conventional nuclear and chemical fires at the time and place required by the maneuver commander.
  • Provide illumination and smoke.
  • Deliver precision and special munitions.
  • Be prepared to receive and execute quick-fire plans.
  • Plan for increased use of hasty survey as the unit capability to provide conventional survey decreases because of the speed of the advance.
  • Plan for reduced accuracy of met data or more frequent movement of the met station as the advance progresses.

Communicate. Communicate as follows:

  • Establish retransmission (retrans) capability to cover extended lines of communication (LOC).
  • Rely increasingly on radio communications, since establishing wire links becomes more difficult in mobile situations.

Move. To move, accomplish the following:

  • Plan to use more hasty occupations to support fluid operations.
  • Plan to use map reconnaissance more often since time available for ground reconnaissance will likely decrease. Consider air reconnaissance if available.
  • Position firing units well forward to range beyond objectives.
  • Plan alternate routes to bypass enemy obstacles. Request engineer mobility support.
  • Consider repositioning light units by air.

Maintain and Resupply. Accomplish this task as follows:

  • Coordinate stockpiling of ammunition for preparations.
  • Plan for increasingly extended lines of resupply.
  • Plan for more frequent moves of the combat trains to provide adequate support for firing batteries.
  • Synchronize resupply of ammunition and petroleum oils and lubricants (POL). Ensure enough ammunition--of the right types--is pushed far enough forward to link up with advancing artillery units.
  • Consider aerial resupply using Army air, container delivery system (CDS), and/or mass supply (light forces).

Survive. Accomplish this as follows:

  • Plan for firing and battery defense in a 6,400-mil environment, since encountering bypassed enemy elements becomes more probable.
  • Consider enemy counterpreparation capabilities.
  • Within the framework of the maneuver deception plan, consider deception techniques to confuse the enemy's intelligence-gathering assets.
  • Consider using Firefinder zones to protect friendly units from enemy indirect fire.

Additional Field Artillery Considerations for Offensive Missions

The field artillery tasks discussed in the preceding paragraphs are general in nature and must be considered during any offensive operation. In addition to these general considerations, each type of offensive mission requires that the FSCOORD consider the unique requirements of that particular mission. Additional FA considerations for the various offensive missions include those discussed below.

Movement to Contact. Considerations for supporting this type of operation are as follows:

  • Locate the enemy and provide immediately responsive fires to leading elements. Use priority of fires and quick-fire channels.
  • Attack deep targets with massed fires to prevent reinforcements.
  • Plan for hasty attack contingencies.
  • Anticipate frequent moves and hip shoots.
  • Keep ammunition uploaded.
  • Plan for employment of hasty smoke and/or illumination.
  • Plan fires on the terrain to be traversed and on the flanks to protect the force.
  • Place coordinated fire lines (CFLs) well forward of friendly maneuver elements. Plan on-order CFLs on phase lines to facilitate rapid shifting as the force moves.

Hasty Attack. Additional considerations for the hasty attack are as follows:

  • Anticipate immediate suppression and quick smoke fire missions.
  • Expect the rapid shift of massed fires to exploit the enemy's weak point.
  • Use a quick-fire plan.
  • Use the maximum number of firing units possible in the early moments of the attack to suppress or neutralize the objective area with massed fires.
  • Be prepared to illuminate areas at night.

Deliberate Attack. Field artillery considerations for the deliberate attack include the following:

  • Stockpile enough ammunition to support the operation.
  • Position firing units well forward to reach deep beyond the objective.
  • Expect large amounts of smoke to be expended to screen friendly movements and obscure enemy observation.
  • Be prepared to fire illumination.
  • Be prepared to support the deception plan by massing fires and dropping smoke on forward enemy units not in the area of the main attack before the main attack begins.

Exploitation. During the exploitation, the considerations for the movement to contact and the hasty attack will apply in addition to the following:

  • Place additional emphasis on 6,400-mil capability to support units in contact with enemy located out of zone.
  • Plan for frequent moves to keep pace with the target array.
  • Keep ammunition upload, and provide for emergency resupply of POL and ammunition.
  • Keep good perimeter security, since bypassed enemy units will be trying to break out and return to their own lines.
  • Target deep to sever escape routes or to prevent reinforcements.
  • Use FA-delivered scatterable mines to slow withdrawing enemy forces or reinforcements.

Pursuit. Additional considerations during the pursuit are as follows:

  • Maintain pressure to demoralize the enemy with massed fires. The lack of resistance expected makes counterattack unlikely.
  • Plan fires on enemy high-speed avenues of withdrawal.
  • Streamline firing units to displace as quickly as possible.
  • Plan for aerial resupply.
  • Position well forward so effective fires can be delivered promptly.
  • Be prepared for radio retransmission and/or relay, since communications capabilities decrease with distance.
  • Remember that if pursuit is especially fast-moving the FA battalion may be attached to the maneuver unit and may possibly become the force FA headquarters.
  • Have a contingency plan for linkup operations. Maneuver elements may be airlifted to deep objectives to cut off the enemy at choke points.

Section III


While the offense is the decisive form of warfare, the defense is the stronger form. The advantages of the defender include cover and concealment advance preparation and detailed knowledge of the terrain. Defensive operations are conducted to retain ground, damage or defeat attacking enemy forces, and buy time and strength to allow the maneuver commander to gain the initiative and resume the offense. Field artillery allows the defending maneuver commander to attack the enemy before he moves within range of direct fire weapons to maximize the effectiveness of combined arms kill zones and engagement areas, and to economize maneuver forces for a planned counterattack.


The defense is a coordinated effort by a force to defeat an attacker and prevent him from obtaining his objectives. The immediate purpose of a defensive operation is to cause the enemy's attack to fail. In doing so, the defense may also achieve one or more of the following:

  • Destroy enemy forces.
  • Gain time.
  • Economize forces for concentration elsewhere.
  • Retain key terrain.

Regardless of the reason for assuming the defensive, the basic objective of the defense is regaining the tactical initiative through offensive action. Defense in the AirLand Battle is not passive. Defense by the corps or division may well involve offensive missions on the part of the subordinate brigades and task forces.

Defensive operations at the brigade and battalion task force levels require the maneuver commander to--

  • Seize the tactical initiative.
  • Maintain agility and flexibility in using direct fire maneuver, fire support, and combat service support to control the tempo of the battle.
  • Fight the enemy throughout the depth of his formation (deep attack).
  • Synchronize all available combat power.

The ability of the fire support system to do all of these tasks is critical. It is the only system that can attack the enemy follow-on echelons before they close with the friendly maneuver unit.


During defensive operations, the maneuver commander may assign subordinate units specific defensive missions. Typical defensive missions are discussed below.

Defend in Sector

This mission requires the defending unit to prevent enemy forces from passing beyond a line that defines the rear boundary of the sector while retaining flank security and ensuring that the unit's scheme of defense is integrated into the parent unit's overall scheme of maneuver. This mission allows the commander of the defending unit the greatest latitude in determining how he will conduct the defense. Initial positions are generally established as far forward as possible, but the commander may use any technique he believes will accomplish the mission.

Defend a Battle Position

This mission places a unit in a battle position (BP) to concentrate its fires, limit its maneuver, or place it in an advantageous position for a counterattack. The BP is a general location on the ground. The commander positions his forces on the best available terrain on or near the battle position. He may also position security forces forward of and around the BP. Combat support (CS) and CSS elements may be positioned outside of the BP. The commander can maneuver his forces freely within the BP and can maneuver outside the BP to attack enemy forces if the tactical situation permits.

Defend a Strongpoint

This mission requires that the commander retain a specific piece of ground at virtually any cost. A strongpoint is established on a piece of ground the enemy cannot safely bypass. It is fortified and manned to keep the enemy from reducing it without excessive losses of time and resources.

A strongpoint is established as a part of the parent unit's overall scheme of defense. It is usually sited on key terrain that the friendly force must retain to be successful in its overall defense. Establishing the strongpoint requires a substantial investment of resources particularly engineer assets, to fortify the position and emplace obstacles. Normally FA units are not positioned within the strongpoint; but they must be positioned so that fires can be massed in support of the position.


In the defense, fire support must take several essential actions to help the maneuver unit accomplish its mission. Specifically, fire support agencies must take the following actions:

  • Provide adequate fire support to the security area forces, forces engaged in the main battle area (MBA), and forces conducting deep and rear operations.
  • Plan counterpreparation fires to disrupt enemy preparations for an attack.
  • Plan permissive fire support coordinating measures close enough to open up as much of the battlefield as possible yet far enough away to avoid interference with friendly operations.
  • Plan for target acquisition and control of fires on all avenues of approach.
  • Plan fires on avenues of approach to disrupt enemy attacks by striking the enemy during his assault. Subsequently, the fire is shifted to continue attacking the enemy until he is forced to break off the attack
  • Select planned targets on the most critical avenues of approach, and allocate firing units for final protective fires.


Basic Tasks

To support the maneuver commander's defensive operation, the supporting FA commander should consider specific aspects of the seven basic tasks of the field artillery.

Coordinate Fire Support. Coordinate fire support as follows:

  • Coordinate and synchronize all available fire support systems.
  • Coordinate the use of all available fire support agencies.
  • Destroy, neutralize, and/or suppress enemy direct and indirect fire systems.
  • Suppress and slow mobile armor formations.
  • Isolate the battlefield to prevent enemy withdrawal or reinforcement of engaged forces.
  • Identify and engage deep targets with available FA systems.
  • Coordinate and synchronize the use of FA special munitions.

Acquire Targets. Acquire targets as follows:

  • Integrate all information sources to locate targets.
  • Rely increasingly on division and/or corps TA assets to identify deep targets.
  • Integrate organic field artillery with division and higher headquarters agencies to identify counterfire targets.
  • Coordinate radar priorities and responsibilities.

Deliver Field Artillery Fires. Accomplish this task as follows:

  • Provide conventional, nuclear, and chemical fires as required by the maneuver commander.
  • Provide illumination and smoke.
  • Deliver precision and special munitions.
  • Deliver fires in support of the maneuver commander's obstacle and deception plans.
  • Coordinate for met and survey.
  • Deliver massed fires.
  • Be prepared to support rear operations.

Communicate. Communicate as follows:

  • Use wire communication when possible.
  • Plan redundant communications means.

Move. To move, accomplish the following:

  • Plan positions to provide for hasty displacement and survivability moves.
  • Conduct ground reconnaissance, selection, and occupation of position (RSOP) whenever possible.
  • Deconflict movement plans with the maneuver headquarters. Consider especially the obstacle plan in planning movements.
  • Clear successive FA positions in advance with the maneuver headquarters.
  • Prepare to support a counterattack or hasty attack to exploit tactical opportunity.

Maintain and Resupply. Accomplish this task as follows:

  • Prestock ammunition for immediate consumption.
  • Plan for surge use of CSS. Take advantage of decreased length of supply lines.
  • Coordinate for forward triage of wounded personnel and forward repair of damaged equipment to return both to combat effectiveness rapidly.
  • Consider means for channeling enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) and refugees to the rear area.

Survive. Accomplish this as follows:

  • Position units to protect them from enemy indirect and direct fires.
  • Harden positions whenever possible.
  • Coordinate for engineer support and Class IV materials.
  • Plan for use of direct fire in support of battery defenses.
  • Consider using Firefinder zones to protect friendly units from enemy indirect fire.

Additional Field Artillery Considerations for Defensive Missions

The field artillery tasks discussed in the preceding paragraphs are general in nature and must be considered during any defensive operation. In addition to these general considerations, each type of defensive mission requires that the FSCOORD consider the unique requirements of that particular mission. Additional FA considerations for the various defensive missions include those discussed below.

Defend in Sector. This mission is characterized by an extremely fluid tactical situation in which friendly and enemy units may often be intermixed. To support the sector defense, the FA battalion must do the following:

  • Position batteries in depth to ensure continuous support as forward batteries displace.
  • Position batteries off high-speed avenues of approach.
  • Track the battle continuously and keep the batteries informed as enemy forces approach.
  • Plan for rearward displacement. Coordinate routes and recognition signals with the supported maneuver unit. Key leaders must know the locations of existing and planned obstacles.
  • Pre-position ammunition for counterpreparation and immediate consumption. Keep ammunition uploaded for rapid movement.
  • Conduct communications reconnaissance for fallback positions, and pre-position retrans if necessary.

Defend a Battle Position. The battle position defense is generally less fluid than the sector defense. Field artillery considerations for the defense of a battle position include the following:

  • Position batteries to ensure that fire support is available to security forces.
  • Harden battery positions to the maximum extent possible. Request engineer support when it is available.
  • Use wire communication to the maximum extent possible.
  • Ensure that the locations of all friendly obstacles and engagement areas are known and plotted in the battalion and battery FDCs.

Defend a Strongpoint. Defense of a strongpoint is seldom a stand-alone mission. Normally, the strongpoint is a part of an overall mission of defend in sector or defend a battle position. In these situations, the FA considerations for the strongpoint are in addition to those for the overall mission. Field artillery considerations for the strongpoint defense itself include the following:

  • Position batteries so that all or at least a substantial majority of the available fire can be massed in support of the strongpoint.
  • Consider establishing a quick-fire net for the use of the FSCOORD for the unit manning the strongpoint.
  • Position observers to overwatch the strongpoint and control fires if communication is lost or the position is overrun.

Section IV


The operations discussed in this section occur often during combat. Some actions--such as passage of lines, crossing water obstacles, relief in place, and amphibious operation--are usually one phase or another of the operation. Since they are common to both the offense and the defense, they are addressed collectively here.


In some combat situations, a commander may require a maneuver force to hold certain areas or to stay behind in enemy-held territory. For some forces, such as airborne and air assault elements, encirclements are commonplace. Field artillery weapons usually support all types of these defenses and their subsequent breakouts. Major considerations for the field artillery with the encircled force may include the following:

  • Complete 6,400-mil coverage is needed.
  • Massing capability should be retained where practical.
  • Aerial resupply of ammunition may be needed.
  • The amount of SEAD fires increases.
  • Target acquisition should be reorganized commensurate with the assets on hand to ensure adequate coverage.
  • Fire support communications should be reorganized to ensure that overloading of fire support nets is minimal.
  • Survival techniques must be stressed.
  • Coordination with outside fire support agencies must be effected; and appropriate fire support coordinating measures, such as a restrictive fire area (RFA) or a restrictive fire line (RFL), must be established.
  • Censor zones for weapons-locating radars (WLRs) in both the encircled force and the main force should be used to prevent fratricide.

Encircled forces must act quickly to save themselves. A supported commander assumes (or has) control of all encircled elements. He must know whether the higher commander wants a breakout or a defense of the encircled position. If breakout is the choice the force breaks out quickly before escape routes are blocked. If defense in place is the choice, plans are made for subsequent linkup with a relieving force.

Defense Encircled

The maneuver commander may decide to stay in position and defend in place. In a defense in place, the maneuver commander's responsibilities include the following:

  • Reestablishing a chain of command, as necessary.
  • Organizing a viable all-around defense.
  • Establishing a reserve force (armor-heavy is preferred).
  • Reorganizing fire support to have centralized control where possible. Establishing a force artillery headquarters if necessary.
  • Reestablishing the logistics for the force.
  • Establishing security in the area.
  • Reestablishing communication as needed.
  • Ensuring the survivability of the force.
  • Continuing to improve defenses in the area.
  • Keeping up the morale of elements.


An attack to break out of the encirclement differs from other attacks in that the force must at the same time defend in other areas of the perimeter. Considerations for the maneuver commander and his FSCOORD include the following:

  • Use of deception by concealing preparations and repositioning by radio and wire traffic and by avoiding obvious egress routes.
  • Exploitation of gaps or weaknesses.
  • Use of periods of darkness and limited visibility.
  • Organization of the breakout elements.
  • Concentration of combat power at the breakout point.
  • Coordination with adjacent forces, as needed.
  • Exfiltration when appropriate.

The artillery should be neither the first nor the last unit out of the perimeter. If more than one firing element is within the perimeter, withdrawal should be phased to maximize the time at least some fire support is available. Unit integrity at platoon or battery level must be maintained if at all possible. All elements must maintain fire direction capability. The FA commander must keep contact with both the lead element commander and the forces remaining in the perimeter. Moving units must be prepared for hip shoots if required.


A breakout may not be possible or desirable. If it is not, another maneuver force may attack the enemy force to effect a linkup. During such attacks, the encircled elements must understand the considerations for the linkup:

  • Coordination of plans for the linkup.
  • Organization and conduct of the attack to relieve the encircled forces.
  • Use of an RFL by the commanders of both forces. This ensures that the converging forces do not fire on each other.
  • Coordination of subsequent actions.

Field artillery considerations for the linkup include the following:

  • Supporting field artillery helps integrate fires with the battle plans. Fire support coordinating measures are established.
  • Field artillery fires are included in linkup plans. Weapons are positioned to support the relieving force.
  • Plans for subsequent actions usually include new missions for the field artillery.
  • Censor zones for Firefinder radar are established and exchange.


A retrograde operation is an organized movement to the rear or away from the enemy. It may be either forced or voluntary. Supported maneuver elements execute retrograde operations to harass, exhaust, resist, delay, and damage enemy formations and facilities. These operations gain time, avoid combat under unfavorable conditions, or draw the enemy into unfavorable positions. They allow supported commanders to reposition forces, shorten lines of communication, or use forces elsewhere. The FA battalion commander must--

  • Start developing delay plans early.
  • Arrange with supported units a withdrawal schedule for the field artillery.
  • Reach out with long-range FA fires from initial positions.
  • Ensure continuous and responsive FA support for all sectors.
  • Reconnoiter positions to the rear and the routes to them, considering alternate routes and key terrain.
  • Maintain high mobility throughout the delay.
  • Be constantly aware of the delaying actions in progress in adjacent sectors.
  • Contribute to the obstacle and deception plans with FA fires.
  • Provide suppressive fires and counterfires as needed.
  • Consider resupply operations during the action.
  • Consider resupply points along withdrawal routes (for POL and ammunition).
  • Consider use of Firefinder critical friendly zones (CFZs) to cover critical points or withdrawal routes; for example, river-crossing points and bridges.


Forward Passage

During the offense, when a passage of lines is to occur, responsibility for FA fires passes from the stationary force to the passing force at the same time control is passed to the maneuver units. The passed (old) FA force may be attached to the new FA force, or it may be ordered to reinforce the new FA force from its present positions. These augmenting FA fires may be needed until the passing force has moved out of range of these weapons. Some of the main considerations for an incoming FA commander are as follows:

  • Liaison with the old FA headquarters, to include communications links.
  • Passage plans of the supported force.
  • Secrecy needs in the area.
  • Available target lists and fire plans.
  • Available position areas and routes.
  • Enemy observation capabilities in the area.
  • Fire support coordinating measures in effect and needed.
  • Resupply operations for the future.
  • Elements that are needed forward.
  • Exchange of survey data with the new force artillery survey planning and coordination element (SPCE).
  • Exchange of Firefinder zone data, particularly call-for-fire zones (CFFZs) and artillery target intelligence zones (ATIZs).

Rearward Passage

Withdrawal actions in the defense often involve a rearward passage of lines. This action is most evident when a covering force is withdrawing behind the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA). Liaison is established early between FA commanders with each force. Information is exchanged and fire plans are coordinated to ensure that the full weight of the field artillery is exerted as necessary. Arrangements are made for the transfer of FA support responsibilities within the sector of the supported maneuver element. This transfer usually coincides with the passing of maneuver control. Some additional considerations may include the following:

  • Coordination between the passing FA force and the maneuver elements in place.
  • Exchange of FA fire plans.
  • Establishment of communications needs.
  • Positions and routes for the passing field artillery, if needed.
  • Mission for the passing held artillery at new positions.
  • Resupplies for the passing field artillery if appropriate.
  • Firing requirements for the incoming field artillery, if appropriate.
  • Exchange of survey data with the passing field artillery SPCE.


Supported maneuver forces conduct a relief in place to remove units from combat. A deployed force is replaced by another unit, which assumes the mission and the assigned sector or zone of action of the outgoing unit.

The relief in place is executed in stages, from front to rear or from rear to front. The incoming unit assumes the general defense plans of the relieved unit.

Secrecy is vital to success, as the operation must be conducted without weakening security. Normal patterns of activity must be maintained to deceive the enemy. The relief in place must be executed at night or during periods of limited visibility.

The following principles apply to all relief operations:

  • The relief sector remains under me control of the outgoing commander until all his forward elements are relieved (or as mutually agreed upon or directed).
  • Normally, the CP of the incoming commander is collocated with that of the outgoing commander.
  • Liaison and communication are established between outgoing and incoming fire support (FS) calls.
  • Outgoing and incoming units exchange SOPs.
  • Existing fire plans are passed to the incoming FSCOORD.
  • Routes and times for withdrawal of the outgoing field artillery are established.

The following are fire support tasks in a relief in place:

  • Arrange for an exchange of outgoing and incoming FS cell liaison personnel.
  • Provide incoming field artillery with existing fire plans.
  • Determine needs for smoke and other types of ammunition.
  • Establish how the outgoing field artillery will be relieved.
  • Establish how the outgoing field artillery will contribute.

Normally, the FA units will not be relieved at the same time as the maneuver forces. The change of fire support responsibilities is as agreed upon by the two FSCOORDs unless otherwise directed.

The outgoing force passes fire plans to the incoming force so that plans can be continued. The following are specific tasks in fire support planning and coordination:

  • Prepare and disseminate plans to support the incoming force.
  • Make available to all concerned fire planning SOP items of the incoming force.
  • Make arrangements for the incoming force to use the target list of the outgoing force.
  • Ensure that fires have been planned to support or emplace a barrier or an obstacle to slow the advancing enemy.
  • Plan smoke to screen friendly movements.
  • Support the deception plan.


A river provides a natural line of defense and restricts surface movements. Depending on the situation and the nature of the river obstacle, the supported commander may decide to make either a hasty crossing or a deliberate crossing. If the river obstacle is considered minor and the enemy force is weak he may make a hasty crossing without changing battle formations. If the river is a major obstacle or the enemy force is strong he must deploy temporarily into a defense-oriented posture, build up combat power, and make a deliberate crossing. Command and control may be complicated while commands are split up with elements on both sides of the river. For more detailed information, see Appendix B and FM 90-13.

Aerial fire support observers (AFSOs) provide surveillance beyond the river. Ground visual observation may be limited because of the increased use of smoke. The WLRs should be positioned so that their sectors of search can detect fires targeted against the river-crossing site and associated assembly areas and air defenses. Careful management of CFZs is essential. Tying CFZs to authorized cueing agents will further enhance the ability of WLRs to direct fires against enemy indirect fire systems. (See FM 6-121 for a discussion of cueing agents.)

Screening and obscuring smoke is used extensively. Smoke and preparatory fires are planned on dummy sites as part of the deception effort. Fires (series and groups) are planned to neutralize the bridgehead area and then to isolate it. Deep fires are also planned to prevent reinforcements. Scatterable mines may be used to seal off the crossing site.

When practical, centralized control of field artillery is desirable to allow the commander flexibility. The GS and GSR cannon units may provide close support fires while the DS and R units are out of action and crossing the obstacle.

Positioning should facilitate rapid crossing. Most of the field artillery crosses the river when continuous effective support can no longer be delivered from the far bank positions. Direct support units begin displacing to far bank positions when first-phase objectives on the far bank have been seized and secure positions are available for occupation by the artillery. Survey assets should be crossed as soon as possible, either ahead of or with the first FA units to cross. When a survey team equipped with the position and azimuth determining system (PADS) is crossing by river barge or boat, plans should be made to allow the battalion-level PADS to do a 10-minute zero-velocity update just before the crossing, If the crossing will take longer than 10 minutes (including loading time, the time before the boat starts to cross, and unloading time), then a conventional team will have to put in a starting control point on the far shore.

Communication is critical when units are split on the two banks of the river.

Ammunition expenditures, especially of smoke and illuminating projectiles, will be high during a deliberate crossing, Initial resupply on the far bank may be by air because of congested crossing sites.

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