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This chapter implements STANAG 2129 and QSTAG 538.

This chapter gives the battalion commander and his staff guidance for the conduct of tactical operations to maximize both the support of maneuver operations and the survivability of the cannon battalion.

Section I


Basic command and control of the cannon battalion are provided by the command post. The CP contains the personnel, communications, and automation systems that help the commander in planning, coordinating and executing the FA portion of the fire support plan for the supported maneuver unit.


The CP supervises operations, tactical fire control, targeting and planning for the FA system. To accomplish the fire support mission, the FSCOORD is tasked to provide close support for maneuver forces in contact or to augment the fires of supported elements, to protect the force as a whole by providing counterfire and to attack the enemy at depth. The CP is the facility that recommends and directs measures to accomplish these tasks.

Specifically, the CP performs the following functions:

  • Advise the FSCOORD on the FA organization for combat, FA positioning allocation of ammunition and FA attack guidance.
  • Perform FA targeting--produce artillery targets which will allow the maneuver commander to attack the enemy throughout the width and depth of the battlefield.
  • Perform tactical fire direction--choose an FA unit to engage targets in response to the commander's attack guidance, and ensure the desired effects on these targets are achieved.
  • Monitor current operations--control cannon assets and FA target acquisition assets organic or attached to or reinforcing the battalion.
  • Plan future FA operations--generate the FA support plan in response to the scheme of maneuver and the concept of fire support of the maneuver unit.
  • Perform alternate CP functions for reinforcing or reinforced artillery battalions through mutual support unit (MSU) operations.

The battalion S3 has the staff responsibility for ensuring effective control of the battalion command post. He is helped by an assistant S3, who serves as one shift leader, and the S2, who functions as an additional shift leader and supervisor of the intelligence process.

See Appendix C for a detailed discussion of the physical layout and the organization of the command post.


There are two major subdivisions in the FA battalion CP. They are made up of TOE sections from the FA battalion headquarters and headquarters battery (HHB). These subdivisions are the operations and intelligence (O& I) element, composed of the operations and intelligence sections and the fire direction center, composed of the fire direction section. The duties of each subdivision are what its name implies. The O&I element performs all of the operational duties such as targeting and keeping track of the status of subordinate units. The FDC performs tactical fire direction by processing calls for fire, determining the type and amount of ammunition to be expended to achieve the desired effects and transmitting fire orders to the firing batteries. In addition, the battalion FDC has a limited technical fire direction capability.

Operations and Intelligence Element

The O&I element is concerned with both current and future operation it coordinates all aspects of FA support. Its specific duties include those discussed below.

Operations Section. The duties of the operations section are as follows:

  • Coordinate the positioning of batteries and platoons supporting current brigade operations.
  • Plan all battery movements and help the battery commander with coordination of movements. This includes assignment of routes and clearance of position areas.
  • Maintain current operational status of all organic and reinforcing FA units.
  • Prepare and disseminate all operational reports.
  • Maintain current information on the tactical situation.
  • Give the FDC current operational data on battery and platoon positions, both current and planned.
  • Coordinate survey requirements for the supported maneuver unit sector with the reconnaissance and survey officer (RSO) and the force field artillery SPCE.
  • Monitor, manage, and expedite ammunition resupply and other logistics operations with the battalion CSS staff.
  • Schedule all preplanned fires in coordination with the fire direction officer (FDO).
  • Prepare and ensure dissemination of the FA support plan.
  • Supervise ammunition management for the battalion, and oversee the activities of the battalion ammunition officer (BAO).
  • Supervise battalion tactical nuclear and tactical chemical operations. (See Appendix D for detailed discussion.)
  • Inform other stall sections (S1, S4, combat trains, field trains) of the current status of the brigade and any changes that will require changes in FA Support.
  • Provide liaison to reinforced FA units.
  • Be prepared to assume command and control of reinforcing or reinforced artillery battalions during MSU operations.
  • Coordinate communications requirements with the battalion signal officer (BSO).

Intelligence Section. The intelligence section is an integral part of O&I. It provides two major functions. The S2 serves as one of the two CP shift leaders, and the section provides the S3 with intelligence information essential to the operation and survival of the battalion. Specific duties of the intelligence section are as follows:

  • Prepare an in-depth intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) of the supported unit sector, in coordination with the supported maneuver S2. Ensure that LPB, essential elements of information (EEI), and information requirements (IR) for the battalion are met. The FA battalion IPB is not an independent product. It is an extension of the supported maneuver unit IPB, which focuses on specific artillery-related intelligence requirements. IPB production is a continuous process.
  • Assist the S3 in positioning firing units to ensure that positioning is coordinated with IPB and survivability requirements.
  • Develop the target acquisition tab to the FA support plan and the DA Form 5957-R (Radar Deployment Order) (RDO) for organic and attached radars. The RDO designates positions and establishes cueing procedures. Coordinate the use of all TA radars, organic or attached with the battalion S3. For more detailed information see FM 6-121.
  • Develop targeting data based on the supported maneuver commander's high-payoff target (HPT) list and attack guidance matrix. Provide recommendations and input to the supported maneuver unit targeting team, which is developing the HPT list and attack guidance matrixes for the maneuver commander. For detailed information on the targeting process, see FM 6-20-10.
  • Develop enemy artillery order of battle, and predict target locations.
  • Monitor enemy artillery tactics and techniques within the supported unit sector, and report to higher headquarters.
  • Exchange combat information and intelligence with the supported maneuver unit, and pass intelligence to subordinate and reinforcing units and to higher headquarters.
  • Coordinate nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) defense activities within the battalion.
  • Coordinate with battery first sergeants to develop a ground and air defense plan for the battalion.
  • Coordinate external battalion security requirements.

Fire Direction Center

The FDC provides timely and effective tactical and technical fire control in support of current operations. Specific duties are as follows:

  • Monitor and operate in the battalion voice and digital fire direction and fire support coordination nets.
  • Schedule fire units for preplanned fires in coordination with the S3.
  • Ensure that commander's attack guidance is established and applied to all fire mission requests.
  • Execute preplanned fires as requested by FSEs or observers.
  • Respond to immediate fire requests in the priority established by commander's criteria.
  • Determine registration requirements in conjunction with the S3.
  • Provide expert assistance to the firing battery and platoon FDCs as required. Coordinate for or provide technical fire direction in case of catastrophic loss of the technical fire direction capability of a firing battery.
  • Ensure that all requests for fire comply with current fire support coordinating measures.
  • Assist the S3 in monitoring ammunition expenditures, and recommend changes to attack criteria as deemed necessary.

If the unit is TACFIRE-equipped, further duties are as follows:

  • Input into the TACFIRE computer parameters for commander's criteria.
  • Conduct MSU operations as required.
  • Establish and practice standard procedures for FDC operations in a degraded (manual, voice) mode. See Chapter 4 for manual backup procedures.


The activities of the CP are supervised by a number of key personnel in addition to the battalion commander and the executive officer (XO). These are the S3 (operations officer), the S2 (intelligence officer), the FDO, the RSO, and the BSO. The duties of each of these officers are briefly discussed below, as are the duties involved in the liaison function.

Battalion Commander

The battalion commander is responsible for the performance and operational status of his unit. He oversees the employment of the battalion and concerns himself with the training morale, and sustainment of the unit. In this sense, his responsibilities are identical to those of any commander. However, when the battalion commander is the senior field artilleryman in support of a maneuver unit, he assumes a second set of duties--those of FSCOORD. This situation is most likely to occur when the battalion is placed in direct support of a maneuver unit, normally a brigade or an armored cavalry regiment (ACR).

As FSCOORD, the battalion commander is the maneuver commander's principal advisor for all fire support matters. As the FA battalion commander, he is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the battalion in executing its portion of the maneuver commander's overall intent for fire support. As FSCOORD, the commander must position himself on the battlefield where he can best fulfill both sets of responsibilities and influence the battle. He may have to position himself in the FA battalion area to directly exercise his commander duties. He must have freedom of movement so he can best support the maneuver force. To this end, the commander must delegate specific duties to his XO and S3 when his FSCOORD duties require that he go forward with the maneuver commander and thus be absent from the battalion area for extended periods. Specifically, the battalion commander is responsible for the following:

  • Supporting the maneuver force. The primary focus of the commander, and the battalion as a whole, must be on maximizing the ability of the unit to integrate its fires with those of all other fire support systems at the time and place and in the quantity required by the supported maneuver commander.
  • Overseeing the training of the entire battalion, with particular emphasis on those elements directly concerned with fire support and delivery of fires.
  • Continually assessing the needs of the battalion, in terms of both its ability to sustain its own operations and its ability to support the maneuver force.
  • Providing knowledgeable, experienced officers to serve as battalion XO and S3, since they will often be called on to perform many of the duties of the commander in his absence. The S3 in particular must understand the commander's intent for the battalion and make tactical decisions accordingly.
  • Establishing clear and consistent standards and guidance for current and future operations. This guidance allows the staff and battery commanders to adhere to the commander's intent without his constant personal supervision when his duties as FSCOORD require his presence elsewhere.
  • Providing for the administrative and logistical support of the battalion. The commander's primary assistant in this area is the battalion XO.

Executive Officer

The XO is the second in command of the battalion. Also, he is the senior staff officer of the unit and serves as the primary logistician. In a garrison environment, these duties complement one another. However, during tactical operations when the battalion commander is forward with the maneuver commander and acting as FSCOORD, the requirement to function as both second in command and senior logistician may create conflicting priorities for the XO. The conflict is due to both the nature of the duties and the locations from which each must be performed.

The battalion commander must decide to which of the two functions, second in command or senior logistician the XO will give his primary focus at any given time. This decision will be based on the immediate requirements of the battalion and the overall tactical situation. Changing situations may change the XO's focus daily, or more often. The XO must recognize that his primary function is to understand the battalion commander's intent and that he is the senior officer responsible for executing that intent. When he is functioning primarily as second in command, one or more of the primary staff officers (probably the S4) must assume a major portion of the functions of senior logistics coordinator; the XO gives as much input and assistance as possible. When the XO must concern himself primarily with the logistic support of the battalion the S3 must assume a greater portion of the commander's duties in the battalion area.

As second in command, the XO must keep fully abreast of current and anticipated operations. He must be prepared to assume the duties of the commander anytime the need arises. He must position himself forward, traveling between the battalion CP, the batteries, and the supported maneuver brigade CP to perform his duties. In the battalion commander's absence, the XO acts as mentor to the battery commanders and enforces the commander's standards throughout the unit. The duties of mentor and standards enforcer are particularly critical. The XO is the only officer with the rank, experience, and mobility to perform these functions when the commander is forward as the FSCOORD.

As the senior logistician, the XO supervises the activities of the CSS staff (S1, S4, battalion maintenance officer [BMO], maintenance technician, BAO, BSO, and battalion surgeon or physician's assistant [PA]). He is primarily responsible for ensuring that the battalion is sustained. The logistician function requires that the XO position himself where he can best coordinate the logistical support of the battalion.

This may require that he spend most of his time in the rear, normally in the area between the brigade support area (BSA) and the combat trains, depending on the factors of METT-T. The XO acts primarily as a coordinator and facilitator. He makes face-to-face contact with his counterparts on the brigade, div arty, or FA brigade staff and ensures that the battalion is supported with a minimum of confusion or lost effort.

S3 (Operations Officer)

The S3 has overall responsibility for the functioning of the CP. All CP personnel work for the S3. He is the principal planner. He is responsible for developing the FA support plan. Specific duties of the S3 include the following:

  • Producing the FA support plan. This includes planning for positioning, movement, and employment of all organic attached and reinforcing firing units and TA means.
  • Coordinating plans with higher and subordinate fire support and maneuver units.
  • Maintaining the operations map.
  • Managing ammunition consumption and supervising the activities of the BAO.
  • Integrating operations security (OPSEC) into the overall operations of the unit.
  • Issuing detailed orders to the RSO concerning requirements and priorities for survey.

The S3 is the principal advisor to the FA battalion commander in regards to the following:

  • Field artillery organization for combat.
  • Field artillery attack guidance.
  • Firing unit and target acquisition positioning.
  • The field artillery estimate of the situation.
  • Establishment of target selection standards.
  • Integration of Firefinder zones to support the maneuver commander.

S2 (Intelligence Officer)

The S2 performs a wide variety of tasks concerning intelligence, targeting, and OPSEC. In addition, he helps the S3 supervise the CP operation. Specific duties of the S2 include the following:

  • Supervising the intelligence section.
  • Developing artillery IPB in conjunction with the supported maneuver S2.
  • Expanding the supported unit IPB to focus on fire support issues and on survivability and mobility issues for the battalion.
  • Developing priority intelligence requirements (PIR) related to fire support.
  • Writing the enemy situation portion (paragraph 1a) of the FA support plan.
  • Writing the target acquisition tab of the FA support plan, to include the RDO for organic or attached radars.
  • Organizing and supervising in coordination with the maneuver S2 an aggressive collection effort designed to answer PIR.
  • Positioning, tasking, and supervising organic and attached TA assets in conjunction with the S3.
  • Coordinating with the S3 and RSO for survey support for battalion TA assets.
  • Developing enemy artillery order of battle.
  • Predicting artillery target locations. He passes predicted locations to the maneuver FSEs and the battalion FDC.
  • Ensuring all subordinate and reinforcing units are kept informed of the enemy situation. In addition to the firing batteries, this may include survey teams retransmission stations, wire teams, radars, and the battalion trains.
  • Monitoring enemy artillery tactics and techniques.
  • Coordinating the battalion ground and air defense plans with the batteries.

Fire Direction Officer

The FDO is the person primarily responsible for supervising tactical and technical fire direction in the battalion. On the basis of guidance from the FSCOORD and the S3, he decides where and how the battalion and any reinforcing units will free. Specific duties of the FDO include the following:

  • Supervising the fire direction section.
  • Helping the FSCOORD develop commander's criteria based on the supported maneuver commander's concept for fire support.
  • Developing and supervising input of appropriate parameters into the TACFIRE computer (TACFIRE units only).
  • Analyzing requested targets for attack by field artillery. He considers desired effects, method of fire and types of ammunition needed.
  • Ensuring complete dissemination of the fire plan to subordinate elements.
  • Conducting rehearsals of the fire plan with subordinate and reinforcing firing units.
  • Processing requests for other types of fire support.
  • Maintaining the current target overlay.
  • Keeping FA elements informed of targets.
  • In TACFIRE units, establishing procedures and training personnel to accomplish tactical and technical fire direction in a degraded (manual, voice) mode.
  • Establishing procedures for interface between TACFIRE and non-TACFIRE units.

Reconnaissance and Survey Officer

The RSO is the FA battalion commander's principal advisor on survey operations. He is mainly concerned with providing timely survey control to the firing batteries. At the same time, he tries to satisfy the survey needs of TA assets, the supported maneuver unit, and other combat support units in the sector. Specific duties of the RSO include the following:

  • Coordinating and supervising survey operations within the supported maneuver unit sector.
  • Formulating the survey plan after receiving guidance from the battalion S3 and the force field artillery SPCE.
  • Providing the survey input to the FA support plan (as required). Survey information is normally included in paragraph 3 (Concept of the Operation), either as a separate subparagraph or as part of the coordinating instructions. The RSO may prepare a survey tab to the FA support plan. An example of a survey tab is in Appendix E.
  • Coordinating requirements for survey control directly with firing battery commanders.
  • Supervising, as weather conditions permit, establishment of a battalion simultaneous observation station for passing directional control.
  • Performing general reconnaissance and observation as required by the S3 and S2.

Battalion Signal Officer

The BSO is the cannon battalion commander's principal advisor on communications and signal operations.

Assisted by the communications platoon leader (in heavy divisions and separate maneuver brigades only), he has staff responsibility for establishing and maintaining all types of communication (radio, wire, messenger, and so forth) in the battalion area. Specific duties of the BSO include the following:

  • Planning and coordinating integration of the battalion communications system into those of the supported maneuver unit and force FA headquarters.
  • Writing the signal paragraph (paragraph 4a) of the FA support plan.
  • Serving as communications security (COMSEC) custodian for the battalion and maintaining and issuing signal operation instructions (SOI).
  • Performing communications reconnaissance (recon) and survey to assist the S3 in siting key elements of the battalion, to include retrans stations.
  • Supervising operator and organizational maintenance of communications equipment.

Liaison Officer

One of the seven inherent responsibilities of a cannon battalion assigned an R or a GSR tactical mission is to provide liaison to the unit being reinforced. Corps battalions have organic liaison sections, consisting of an officer and one enlisted soldier with a wheeled vehicle and radios. Divisional battalions do not have organic liaison teams. However, when divisional battalions are assigned an R or a GSR mission, they must provide for liaison. Liaison responsibilities include the following:

  • Passing information on the tactical situation to the reinforcing battalion CP.
  • Ensuring that both units establish radio nets for--

--Exchanging orders, situation reports and intelligence reports.

--Passing fire missions.

--Quick-fire nets, as required.

  • Passing unit locations, ammunition status, weapon strength target lists, and fire plans between the two units.
  • Assisting in passing command and control during MSU operations.

Liaison is a function rather than a position. As long as the functional requirement is met to the satisfaction of the battalion commanders involve exchange of liaison officers (LOs) is not absolutely required. If the two battalions choose to collocate CPs or FDCs, the liaison requirement has been met and no liaison officer is required. If both units are automated and digital communications are adequate, a liaison officer may not be necessary.

The liaison function is particularly critical when one of the battalions involved is automated (TACFIRE-equipped) and the other is not. A liaison must be established that allows both units to take maximum advantage of the available automation. This may require establishing a nonstandard liaison relationship, such as reinforced to reinforcing. The problems associated with an interface between TACFIRE and non-TACFIRE cannon battalions are discussed in Appendix A, along with the possible options for establishing liaison between the battalions.

When a battalion of an FA brigade is assigned a tactical mission of GS, it will normally be positioned in the area of operation of a maneuver brigade. The FA battalion commander may wish to consider sending one of his liaison teams to the maneuver brigade FSE. This team can help the battalion commander in tracking the maneuver situation and in keeping the maneuver commander informed of the location and status of a sizable friendly force that is in his area but not under his control.

Section II


Fire support planning is the continuing process of analyzing allocating, and scheduling fire support. It determines how fire support will be used, what types of targets will be attacked, and with what means. The goal is to effectively integrate fire support into battle plans to optimize combat power. To do this, fire support planning is concurrent with battle planning. Planning must be flexible to accommadate the unexpected in combat and to facilitate rapid change. It anticipates the massing of fire support assets, changes in the force mission realistic movement times, resupply target acquisition, technical support to include survey and met requirements and the replacement of entire units.


The fire support plan is a document that contains the information necessary for understanding how fire support will be used to support an operation. The fire support plan may be a formal part of the operation order, as it normally is at maneuver brigade and higher; it may be in the form of a fire support execution matrix (FSEM), as it normally is at maneuver battalion and below, or it may be a combination of the two. The fire support plan is never finished--it is continually updated and refined as the tactical situation changes and more information becomes available. Close coordination between field artillerymen and supported maneuver commanders is essential throughout the planning process. The process of planning for fire support that results in the fire support plan is called fire planning.

Deliberate fire planning is conducted through a formal top-down process, with bottom-up refinement as time permits. The advantages of top-down fire planning are that the concept for fire support is developed early and the artillery battalion and maneuver forces can plan for the battle concurrently. The planning cell for the maneuver unit (normally at brigade) then relies on the most experienced field artilleryman in the force, the DS battalion commander. The top-down approach allows the company fire support officers (FSOs) to concentrate on execution of a coordinated fire support plan. Finally, in high-tempo operations, the top-down fire planning process provides a workable plan in a relatively short time. See Appendix F for a detailed discussion of the fire planning process.

The movement of FA units must be completely integrated into the movement plan of the supported maneuver unit to ensure that firing elements are positioned to support the commander's intent. This is especially true during fluid or fast-moving situations, where the artillery can quickly be left out of range or exposed to direct fire from attacking enemy forces. Planning for displacement of artillery units should consider the need to provide continuous support for the maneuver force as well as FA survivability. These are key considerations not only for fire support but also for FA support planning.

At some time before an operation begins, the FSO must finalize his plan. As part of this process, he must establish a cutoff time, after which additional input to the plan must be approved by the FSCOORD on an exception basis. This cutoff time is established by the FSCOORD and is published in the operation order. The FA battalion S3 has a role in establishing the cutoff time. He offers input concerning the time necessary to--

  • Compute and disseminate firing data.
  • Prepare and move ammunition.
  • Position firing units to support critical elements of the plan. This includes positioning firing elements of any units reinforcing the fires of the DS battalion.

Brigade-Level Fire Planning

Brigade fire planning begins when the brigade commander, FSCOORD, S2, and S3 receive the mission and begin to discuss how they will fight the battle. They develop a number of possible courses of action. For each course of action, the FSCOORD develops a fire support concept and a recommendation for the maneuver commander's intent for fire support. As the courses of action are discussed, the FSCOORD draws from the commander further details of both the concept for maneuver and the fire support necessary to support it. As the maneuver commander makes his decision regarding the maneuver concept of operations, the FSCOORD is receiving a detailed intent for fire support. This interaction is the foundation on which the entire fire support plan is built. Once the scheme of maneuver and the commander's intent for fire support are established, the brigade FSO and the FSCOORD can begin preparing the fire support plan, which becomes part of the brigade OPORD.

Top-down fire planning gives the maneuver brigade a fire support plan that focuses the fire support effort exactly where the brigade commander intends to fight the battle. It provides guidance and allocates resources to maneuver and artillery units, assigns target execution responsibility, and fully supports the brigade commander's scheme of maneuver.

The instruments used to plan and execute top-down fire planning are the fire support execution matrix the brigade target list, and an attack guidance matrix. These are part of the brigade fire support annex. The FSEM, a one- or two-page document, is found at all levels. It states the commander's intent for fire support, assigns resources and responsibility for executing targets by phases of the battle, and presents critical fire support information. The attack guidance matrix graphically portrays when to attack targets in the 13 target categories and the desired results (that is, suppress, neutralize, or destroy). (See FM 6-20-10 for detailed discussion of the attack guidance matrix.) Top-down fire planning detail should be commensurate with the level of maneuver planning done at the brigade. If the tactical situation permits, lower-echelon FSEs should be allowed enough flexibility to plan for the detailed integration of fire support assets during their planning process. The maneuver commander's intent for fire support at the battalion and/or task force level is more detailed than that at brigade.

Task-Force-Level Fire Planning

The task force (TF) takes the guidance and resources provided by brigade and plans fires to support the TF commander's battle. The task force planning tools and process are similar to those at the brigade. Again, the most important factor in developing a good fire support plan is the initial integrated planning by the commander, FSO, S2, S3, and engineer.

The task force fire support execution matrix is in a format similar to the brigade FSEM, but it portrays how the task force will fight the fire support battle. The most critical portion of the task force FSEM is the commander's intent for fire support. It assigns resources and responsibilities for executing targets by phases of the battle and graphically portrays critical fire support information. A task force commander's intent is more specific than the brigade commanders. It covers the task force area of responsibility and may identify specific targets and assets, especially his own organic mortars, to fire.

One difference between the brigade and task force FSEMs may be the inclusion of the scouts and mortars in the task force matrix. The scouts are treated like any other maneuver unit. The mortars may be given section firing positions, and their expected movement by phases is outlined in the matrix. The companies are assigned target execution responsibility. The assignment of a target brings with it the responsibility of the company to position observers to cover the target. The maneuver execution matrix tasks a company commander to engage specific targets during different phases of the operation. The company FSO executes these responsibilties. If a company FSO or FIST becomes a casualty, the company is not relieved of the responsibility to fire the targets assigned in the task force OPORD.

Company-Level Fire Planning

The company refines the task force fire support plan to meet the company fire support requirements. Targets are added if necessary, but the company fire support teams are primarily responsible for executing the brigade or task force fire support plan. These shooters stand on the ground with their company commanders and identify trigger points to help synchronize the battle. The primary concern of the company FSOs is planning priority targets and final protective fires (FPFs) and validating target locations. They ensure that the company has primary and backup observers (that is, other key leaders in the company) able to observe the trigger points of their targets. The company fire support execution matrix is the tool that they use to execute the plan. The company FSEM is a maneuver document. It is designed so that all key leaders in the company understand and are able to execute the fire support battle.

The company FSEM executes the company fire plan. It is developed in such detail that the company commander, platoon leaders, or platoon sergeants can execute their fire plan. It establishes by whom, when, where, and under what conditions each target will be fired. It provides the critical information a platoon leader would need to tight the battle.

The commander's intent for fire support outlines his concept for firing the key targets as he maneuvers the company. It is given in explicit detail. Targets, identified by target numbers, are fired as maneuver platoons pass specific points or are engaged by certain size enemy units. The commander's concept is locked into his maneuver plan.

For specific fire support planning guidance, see FM 6-20-30, FM 6-20-40, and FM 6-20-50.


The FA support plan is based on the fire support plan and contains information necessary for understanding how field artillery will be used to support the maneuver brigade operation. Unnecessary repetition of SOP items is avoided. The operations section of an artillery unit assigned the tactical mission of direct support is responsible for preparing the FA support plan. The inherent responsibilities for fire planning are specified in the assigned tactical mission. When assigned the DS mission, FA battalions do their own tactical fire control planning as well as that for any reinforcing artillery. The S3 issues his FA support plan to organic and reinforcing units, the supported unit, and higher headquarters. It may be in the form of a written FA support plan, an FA support matrix fragmentary orders, or oral orders, depending on the time available. See Appendix E for examples of an FA support plan and an FA support matrix.

A written FA support plan follows the five-paragraph field order format. It includes the information necessary to explain the plan and other special information on the use of FA fires in support of the operation. The heading of the plan indicates the FA headquarters publishing the plan, security classification, map reference, and time zone. The ending of the original copy bears the signature of the FA commander of the publishing headquarters. All other copies are authenticated by the field artillery S3.

The essential elements of an FA support plan are as follows:

  • Allocation of all field artillery assets.
  • Projected changes to the allocation of FA assets based on tactical contingencies in the OPORD (on-order missions).
  • The FA battalion commander's concept of the operation. (This may be included in paragraph 3a of a written FA support plan or in the FA support matrix if no written plan is produced.)
  • Requirements for positioning and movement of firing units to support the fire support plan. (An FA support matrix is recommended See Appendix E.)
  • The controlled supply rate for ammunition, if any (paragraph 4 of the plan).
  • Arrangements for command and control if they differ from unit SOPs (paragraph 5b of the plan).
  • Specific instructions for attached target acquisition assets, survey, and met (paragraph 3, Coordinating Instruction or individual tabs to the FA support plan). (See Appendix E.)
  • Specific instructions for combat service support, if different from normal unit SOPs (paragraph 4 of the plan).
  • Restrictions on ammunition expenditures, types of fires and limiting risk to friendly troops (paragraph 3 of the plan).
  • Current and on-order fire support coordinating measures (paragraph 3 of the plan or overlays).
  • The target list developed by the supported maneuver unit.
  • Schedules for preplanned fires.
  • Special instructions on rules of engagement, fire support communications, and logistic support.
  • Location of command posts, ammunition supply points (ASPs), and ammunition transfer points (ATPs).
  • NBC coordinating instructions.


Planning time is almost always limited. However, there are several techniques that can speed the planning process. Each type of operation has characteristic requirements. (See Chapter 2 of this book FM 6-20-40, FM 6-20-50, and applicable maneuver manuals.) Therefore, the FA battalion commander and his staff can analyze the mission and anticipate the maneuver commander's requirements. The ability to anticipate requirements allows the staff to begin planning immediately on receipt of the mission.

Battalion Staff Assignments

Once the FA battalion S3 knows the area and general nature of the operation and the commander's intent, he can assign portions of the FA support plan to members of his staff:

  • The S2's IPB should be continuous. If it is, he can quickly develop a situation template and a collection plan.
  • The plans officer or assistant S3 might be tasked to plan the battalion positioning.
  • The RSO or survey chief plans survey support.
  • The signal officer designs a signal plan to support the operation.
  • The FDO is concerned with the development of the fire plan.
  • The executive officer's CSS staff works out logistical support.


The battalion is supporting an attack whose first phase is a movement to contact.

The assistant S3 knows he must keep firing units moving close behind the brigade advance guard while others maintain a continuous firing capability. He knows he must have as many units as possible in position to support at crucial points in the operation--crossing the line of departure, assaults on objectives, and so forth. And he uses his knowledge of the friendly situation and the S2's decision support template (DST) to come up with clear trigger points for movement to support the force.

The FDO knows he can't count on having all units available to fire at all times and recognizes the same critical points the assistant S3 does.

The BSO understands he must provide for retransmission as the FSOs advance and the batteries move. He looks for terrain that provides line of sight between the TOC and his retransmission stations. He gets the FDOs and FSOs to assign observers battery computer system (BCS) relay addresses.

The RSO knows he must bring survey control forward as the batteries advance. In close coordination with the force artillery SPCE, he plans backup means of extending common control.

The CSS staff must be involved from the beginning of the planning process. The ability of the logisticans to support various courses of action may well dictate both the maneuver commander's and the FSCOORD's choices. If a particular operation or course of action requires unusual types or amounts of supply support, the CSS staff needs all the reaction time possible to maximize support.

Battalion-Battery Interface

Each staff section can identify its counterpart in the batteries. The signal officer's counterpart is the battery communications chief. The RSO's is probably the gunnery sergeant. The battalion FDO has the battery or platoon FDOs. The assistant S3 can work with the battery XO or a platoon leader.

As the battalion staff members complete their plan they should rehearse it with their counterparts, or at least have their counterparts give them a quick back-briefing. This ensures that the subplans are clear and understandable and that they are formed in time to be effective.

Role of the S2

The FA battalion S2's contribution to the planning and execution process is often overlooked. The S2 can provide intelligence products that are essential to the cannon battalion as well as to the mission of the supported maneuver unit as a whole. He has access to collection assets such as forward observers (FOs), company FSOs, FSEs, weapons-locating radars, and a survey platoon whose secondary mission is reconnaissance.

The FA battalion S2 must rely heavily, but not exclusively, on the supported maneuver unit S2's intelligence products. The battalion S2 expands intelligence products of the supported unit, particularly the IPB, to focus on fire support issues and survivability and mobility issues for the FA battalion. He coordinates not only with the maneuver S2 but also with the div arty or FA brigade S2. Through the div arty and FA brigade TOCs, he has access to the div arty and corps artillery intelligence products.

As the artillery liaison with the supported headquarters, the maneuver unit FSE provides a critical link between the FA battalion S2 and the maneuver S2. One primary duty of the targeting officer located at the maneuver TOC, is to facilitate the exchange of target-related information, information requests, and artillery-related intelligence products.

The FA battalion S2 conducts an IPB. (See FM 34-130.) He may rely heavily on the maneuver brigade S2's battlefield area evaluation, terrain analysis, and weather analysis. However, he adds his assessment of these items as they affect fire support systems and FA battalion mobility and survivability. For Threat evaluation, he continually studies the Threat fire support system. His knowledge of Threat weapon systems is critical.

The FA battalion S2 combines his knowledge of the Threat fire support system with the maneuver S2's battlefield, terrain and weather analyses to create situation templates. His templates should show, as a minimum, major fire support units, command posts, OPs, TA assets, and deployment of air defense (AD) assets. In short, the situation templates should provide the essential elements of the enemy situation portion of the FA support plan. They can also be used to provide focus for the collection plan and to build a database including enemy equipment strengths, personalities, supporting assets, and other information applicable to the intelligent estimate.

The analysis done by the FA battalion S2 allows him to become a major contributor to the brigade DST development. Of particular importance to the maneuver brigade S2 in developing the DST are such factors as--

  • Indirect and direct fire weapon ranges.
  • Where and how those systems are normally deployed on the battlefield.
  • How the Threat organizes his fire support system for combat.
  • Threat fire support system vulnerabilities.
  • Other actions, such as massing of artillery, that may reveal the enemy's intention.

The FA battalion S2 gives information to the maneuver brigade S2 to help him in determining the enemy avenues of approach, objectives, and various courses of action. As the brigade staff begins its planning and coordination, information provided by the FA battalion S2 may be used to help in the selection of engagement areas, target areas of interest (TAIs), obstacle plans, decision points, high-payoff targets attack guidance, and preplanned fires in support of the operation.

The battalion S2 also analyzes the brigade DST and develops his own DST to support mobility and survivability decisions for the FA battalion. His analysis of terrain in three dimensions and of the brigade DST aids in the FA battalion S3's selection of position areas. The S2 also considers this analysis when he integrates the battalion internal defense. The analysis must cover the aircraft the enemy is using, the degree of air threat that exists, and probable air avenues of approach. The finished product will assist in synchronizing fire support for the operation and accounts for both air and ground threats to the battalion.

During the IPB process, the FA battalion S2 may develop PIR and IR. These may be in addition to the brigade PIR. He will be more interested in regimental artillery groups (RAGs), division artillery groups (DAGs), bypassed enemy units, OPs, and target acquisition. Therefore, the S2 must make a comprehensive collection effort that answers his PIR as well as those of the brigade S2. He does this by focusing his collection assets on named areas of interest (NAIs) (IPB event template) and by assigning collection tasks to each asset. When the battalion has control of FA radars (WLRs and/or moving-target-locating radars [MTLRs]), the S2 must ensure that those assets are fully integrated into the intelligence collection plan. He must address and continually revise the following factors to ensure that they meet the needs of the maneuver units as the battle changes: search sectors, positioning WLR zones, cueing of radars, survivability, and communications. For additional guidance, see FM 6-121 and the example DA Form 5957-R in Appendix E of this manual.

The FA battalion S2 must develop and supervise a comprehensive reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) effort to meet his PIR. To do this, he must take maximum advantage of the assets available to him to answer the questions posed by the PIR. Assets the S2 will normally be able to use as sources of information include the following:

  • Forward observers with the maneuver (infantry) companies.
  • Fire support officers at the company, battalion, and brigade levels.
  • Survey parties.
  • Combat observation/lasing teams (COLTs) available to supported maneuver unit.
  • Battery defense OPs and listening posts (LPs).
  • Battery advance parties.
  • Weapons-locating radars attached to, organic to, or otherwise supporting the battalion.

The S2 must analyze the ability of his available assets to the answer his PIR and must identify any shortfalls. To aid him in this effort, the S2 can use a collection plan work sheet. The collection plan work sheet has no specific format. One possible format for the work sheet, with an explanation of its use, is shown below. The S2 may use this format or develop one of his own.

The FA battalion S2 also contributes to target development. Working closely with the targeting officer, the S2 helps identify the enemy's most valuable assets relating to certain phases of his operation (high-value targets). He recommends as the brigade HPTs those whose attack substantially contributes to friendly success. On the basis of his knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of sources of targeting information, the S2 contributes to the determination of target selection standards (TSSs). These standards state the reliability and accuracy of each source of targeting information. This reliability is expressed in terms of whether reports from the source are to be considered targets or merely target indicators. (Target indicators require confirmation by other sources.) Sound TSSs help prevent the S2, or any other element of the fire support system, from generating fire missions that lack the accuracy of target location to be effective. See FM 6-20-10 for detailed discussion on the targeting process and target development.


Rehearsals are an integral part of the planning process. A rehearsal should both practice and test the plan. If at all possible, the FA rehearsal should be conducted with the maneuver commander's rehearsal. A combined rehearsal will improve responsiveness of fires and the synchronization of all the maneuver commander's resources for the battle.

Units must establish procedures for rehearsals as a part of their tactical SOPs. As a minimum, the SOPs should identify the following:

  • Who will participate in the rehearsal.
  • What should be rehearsed.
  • What the sequence of the rehearsal will be.
  • What the priority of methods for rehearsals will be.


At any level, fire support participants in a maneuver commander's rehearsal should include all members of the FS cell and any subordinate FS cell members associated with participating subordinate maneuver headquarters. These members include the FSCOORD and/or FSO, air liaison officer (ALO), naval gunfire liaison officer (NGLO) and/or supporting arms liaison team (SALT) officer, mortar platoon leader, chemical officer, and Army aviation liaison officer, as applicable. Also, the S2, the intelligence and electronic warfare support element (IEWSE) team leader, and the engineer officer, in particular, should be present. They should participate in the rehearsal of significant events, such as target acquisition employment and obstacle emplacement. The FA battalion S3, S2, RSO, radar personnel, unit FDCs and COLTs are all essential participants as well. Whenever possible, the firing batteries and platoons, down to individual section level, should participate. The FA battalion benefits from the rehearsal by obtaining information for movement, schedules of fire, munitions requirements, and a more complete understanding of the operational time involved with the scheme of maneuver.

If the maneuver commander does not conduct a rehearsal and rehearsal time is available, the FSCOORD and/or FSO should conduct a fire support rehearsal. He should use the existing maneuver operation plan (OPLAN), the fire support plan the fire support execution matrix and the FA support plan and matrix. The FSEM is ideal for use in the rehearsal, since the rehearsal is normally conducted by performing and/or reciting--

  • Actions to occur.
  • Possible friendly initiatives.
  • Possible reactions to enemy initiatives.
  • Control measures.
  • Significant events that are to occur in relation to time or to phases of an operation.

The rehearsal conducted by only fire support personnel is limited in that the success of the rehearsal and benefits to be derived from it depend on how well the FSCOORD and/or FSO conducting the rehearsal know the maneuver commander's concept of the operation. Within the DS artillery battalion, the commander, S3, FSO, and S2 structure the fire support rehearsal in accordance with the enemy's most likely course of action and the friendly scheme of maneuver. At the appropriate time, each participant carries out his part of the plan. The FSOs fire their assigned targets, place fire support coordinating measures into effect, and make the reports the battalion depends on for its combat information. The FOs do the same. They ensure that their assigned missions, especially high-priority ones like FPFs, are loaded in the buffers of their digital message devices (DMDs) and ready for transmission. The ALOs monitor airspace coordination procedures, clear aircraft to depart from the initial point (IP), call for target marking and request SEAD fires. The DS battalion CP monitors all of this. The battalion O& I element pays particular attention to displacements. The battalion FDC issues fire orders and passes messages to observers. If there is a mutual support unit, the two FDCs exercise transfer of controls. Attached radars work situational cues with the cueing agents. Each firing unit FDC computes fire commands, acknowledges fire support coordinating measures, and ensures that it can fire its assigned mission. Missions are passed to the howitzer sections, which determine whether the necessary ammunition is on hand and if the mission is within traverse limits. If alternative friendly courses of action hinge on enemy actions and if time permits, the alternatives may be rehearsed.

Note the important features of the rehearsal. It presupposes the complete plan--a plan complete enough to be executed, not a final or unchangeable plan. It is designed to show whether everyone knows his responsibilities (for example, for firing a target, moving a battery, switching frequencies observing an NAI) and the cues for his action. It allows a check on whether the plan will work. For example, observers confirm that they can see their targets and FDCs confirm that they have ballistic solutions to their targets. Finally, the rehearsal as a whole is clearly under someone's direction (for example, the FSCOORD or S3).

Methods of Rehersal

There are many ways to conduct rehearsals. When time is limited, there will be no chance to rehearse everything. You must streamline your plan and focus your rehearsal on critical events.

Rehearsals may be conducted face-to-face, by wire or by radio. The first two methods have the advantage of greater security the last two test communications in the course of the rehearsal. Face-to-face rehearsals tend to be time-consuming and concentrate leaders in one place, but they are often the most secure and are usually the least ambiguous.

Suitable or Actual Terrain. The use of a suitable maneuver area or the actual area in which the operation is to be conducted is the best method for conducting a rehearsal because of its increased realism. Communications lines of sight, clutter on specific communications nets, trigger points or target reference points (TRPs), and actual operational times required to move from position to position may be visually simulated. This method requires a large area and an increased amount of preparation and planning time. Its use may depend on operational or signals security (SIGSEC) considerations.

Model. Models may be constructed showing buildings, compounds, or built-up areas. This type of rehearsal requires good intelligence information on the area of operation and more time to construct the model itself. Normally, it is used for special operations.

Map. This type of rehearsal may be conducted on any map with the appropriate overlays. This method may be used when time and rehearsal space are limited. Using this method limits the number of participants to those who can gather around a single map unless individual maps are used. Actions to be taken are recited by the participants.

Sand Table. The sand table method expands the area in which rehearsal participants may gather around a single graphical representation of the operation. Maneuver graphics may be depicted by using engineer tape, string or spray paint or simply by carving out lines in the ground. Key terrain, topography, and objectives may be depicted by the use of rocks, items of equipment, or piles of earth. Preparing for this rehearsal method requires more time; however, it generally permits more participants and is a better visual aid.

Wire. Wire rehearsals generally limit the number of agencies that can rehearse. They also don't test the radio communication on which execution usually depends.

Radio. Radio rehearsals are usually the most comprehensive and the easiest to conduct on short notice, but they present the greatest risk of compromise and frequently confuse participants--"Is this a real fire mission or a rehearsal?"

Tips for Successful Rehearsal

Whatever the technique, a successful rehearsal will be as close to the way you want to execute as possible. When a problem emerges during the rehearsal fix it right there. To gain the most advantage from the rehearsal, the leader should do the following:

  • Personally supervise and monitor the rehearsal to ensure that it maintains its focus and direction.
  • Select time for the rehearsal that allows enough time to correct problems found in the plan.
  • Use actual players, not stand-ins, especially in organizations with little experience in continuous operations. Crucial players, such as FISTs, COLTs and radars, must be included.
  • Involve all of the elements that will be required to perform the mission, concurrently if at all possible. This means including the firing batteries, down to howitzer section level, in the rehearsal. When firing batteries are included in the rehearsal, the leader must distinguish clearly between the rehearsal and the execution of the plan. Activities at the battery include--
    • - Having each platoon operations center (POC) compute data to ensure that the battery can range the target and will not violate fire support coordinating measures.

      - Having each howitzer section dry-fire the mission to ensure that the necessary ammunition is on hand and that there are no traverse limit or site-to-crest problems.

  • Stop and correct problems as they arise. Not all plans will be complete at the time of the rehearsal, but problems that are identified must be corrected in the plan before its execution.
  • Have built-in checks of the plan. The S2 participates, and those responsible for execution report back. These checks anchor the rehearsal in the enemy situation, the terrain and the details of the plan.
  • Rehearse the plan as it will be executed the sequence and the execution cues are the same.
  • Cover, as a minimum, the following at each rehearsal:
    • - Grid locations for critical targets (as a minimum) are verified.

      - Trigger points, lines, or events are verified for each target.

      - A primary observer and a backup observer are identified for each target. Backup observers may be other fire support personnel or may be key personnel (company commander, platoon leader, and so on) from the supported maneuver unit.

      - Primary and backup communications links are identified for each observer.

      -Target engagement criteria are established; for example, INITIATE FIRES ON TARGET TA3014 WHEN 5 ENEMY TANKS HAVE PASSED TRIGGER POINT 2.

      - For each target, priority and purpose are established.

      - Method of engagement (for example, time on target (TOT), at my command, or when ready) is specified for each target.

      - Attack guidance, such as shell-fuze combination, number of volleys, and unit(s) to fire, is specified for each target.

      - A movement plan specifying when and where units will move is prepared.


One of the most difficult, yet absolutely essential, steps of the planning process involves establishing a cutoff time for submission of refinements to the fire support plan or any schedule of fires while taking full advantage of last-minute reconnaissance reports and other targeting information. The FSCOORD and his staff, in conjunction with the maneuver commander and his FSE, must have reasoned consistent procedures for modifying the fire support plan and schedules of fires in the period immediately before a maneuver operation begins. To ensure the most up-to-date information is available and executed, these procedures must be streamlined before any change is made to an approved plan or schedule.

Normally, this modification procedure is part of the unit SOPs. At a minimum, the procedure will establish who can authorize modifications to the plan what information will dictate a change to the plan and how late-developing information must be reported to affect the plan. This procedure applies also to schedules of fires which are a part of the fire support plan.

  • Who can make changes to the fire support plan? Once approved, the fire support plan is part of the brigade OPORD. Normally the brigade commander is the only one who can authorize a change in the plan. However, he may delegate the authority to change the fire support plan to the FSCOORD
  • What types of information will cause the decision maker to direct a change in the existing approved fire support plan? The original fire support plan was based on the best information available at the time the plan was developed. Updated or refined information may become available anytime through various channels. Reconnaissance patrols, the covering force, FOs, COLTs and a wide range of other agencies may provide information that contributes to a more accurate assessment of the situation than was previously possible. The information which will affect the plan most is normally operation-specific and centers on the commander's PIR and IR. Other information that may cause a change to the plan should be identified at the rehearsals, both maneuver and fire support.
  • How must late-developing information be reported? The key is accurate and timely reporting to the level at which decisions can be made. Communications means for reporting this type of information should also be identified and practiced at the rehearsals.

As new information is reported, the FS cell (including the S2 and targeting officer) and the FA battalion S3 and S2 must work together to determine the following:

  • What are the accuracy and reliability of the new information? If it is target information, does it meet target selection standards?
  • Does the new information require a substantial change to an existing scheduled or preplanned target?
  • What is the best method of attack (FA, mortars, TACAIR, and so forth)?

While the staff is considering the effect of the new information on the approved schedule of fires or preplanned target list, the FSO and FA battalion S3 should also consider the following alternatives:

  • If time is available, change the schedule of fires or preplanned target list by simply substituting the higher priority target. If the change to an individual target is too great to allow shifting, a new target should be generated rather than attempting to change the grid location of an existing target. Then disseminate the changed plan or schedule.
  • If the new information confirms the absence of a target at a particular location simply delete the suspected target from the schedule of fires or target list.
  • Designate targets generated by the new information as on-call targets.

All of the above actions must take place in a matter of minutes. Firmly established and well-rehearsed procedures will facilitate timely and appropriate actions based on the situation.

Section III


This section discusses the battalion operations functions of moving and positioning the FA battalion in order to accomplish its mission. Other battalion operations functions, such as tactical and technical fire direction and logistical support, are discussed in other parts of this book.


The staff must plan for the following types of positions and include them in the coordination process with the maneuver headquarters:

  • A primary position is one from which a unit will accomplish its assigned tactical mission.
  • An alternate position is one to which a unit moves when the primary position becomes untenable or unsuitable for accomplishing the assigned mission. The alternate position must allow the unit to perform the same mission assigned to it in the primary position.
  • A supplementary position is one to which a portion of a unit moves to perform a specific mission.

NOTE: For additional details on positions for field artillery, see FM 6-50.

A number of factors will influence the S3's choices of where and how to position the firing batteries, trains, and CP. The two key considerations are as follows:

  • The battalion must be able to provide the support the maneuver forces require.
  • The battalion must survive if it is to continue to provide support in the future.

Firing units should be positioned laterally and in depth. This increases their survivability and their flexibility in responding to calls for fire across the zone of action of the supported unit. When the cannon battalion S3 positions mixed calibers, he must consider carefully the capabilities and limitations of each system. If the weapons of one or more of the reinforcing units are of a different caliber than those of the DS battalion, attention must be paid to matching the range and ammunition capabilities of each system to the missions required by the maneuver plan. The 203-mm battalions lack the variety of munitions (smoke, illumination, family of scatterable mines [FASCAM], Copperhead, and so forth) to support many DS-type missions. The 105-mm units may not be able to mass or range as deeply as required.

Propellant availability is another important consideration in positioning. In positioning batteries, it is easy to fall into the habit of considering only the maximum range of a system. However, batteries cannot always achieve maximum range. For instance, the 18,100-meter maximum range of an M109A2/A3 battery can be achieved only with M119-series propellant. In most instances, M119 propellant is a relatively small portion of the unit basic load. Not all projectiles are compatible with M119. Lower charges (green bag, M3, and white bag M4) will make up at least a part of the unit combat load and may well be the only propellant available. Firing units must be positioned for range accordingly. Another propellant consideration is that maximum charges are equivalent full charge (EFC) rounds. Firing maximum charge greatly shortens tube life and the time required between retubings.

In supporting an attack, it is useful to orient on the forward line of own troops (FLOT) rather than on the objective. Units that are content with being able to range the objective often find themselves unable to support consolidation or on-order missions to continue the attack. For example, during offensive operations, batteries should be positioned as close behind the lead maneuver elements as the terrain and tactical situation permit.

Additional specific considerations of position selection include those discussed below.


The battalion must be able to accomplish its tactical mission from the position. Priority of FA positioning goes to nuclear-capable units first, then to DS and reinforcing units, then to GSR and GS units. Brigade units have priority over division units within the brigade area: division units have priority over corps units within the division area.

Tactical Situation

The battalion should be positioned to facilitate support of the maneuver operation being conducted. For example, if the supported brigade is conducting a movement to contact, the battalion should be positioned well forward and should be prepared to move to keep pace with the brigade. An FA position should not interfere with the effectiveness of a combat unit.


Since the unit is positioned to accomplish its assigned mission, survivability of the various elements of the battalion must be considered. Some considerations are as follows:

  • The position should help the unit conduct active and passive defenses against ground and air attacks. It should provide for early warning of an enemy approach, provide for adequate camouflage, and allow for mutual artillery support.
  • The position should be located in defilade to deny the enemy direct observation and fires. A defilade position also allows for communications masking and for some protection from the effects of nuclear weapons.
  • The position should allow for maximum dispersion to increase survivability against enemy counterfire. Positions should be hardened as time is available and may be integrated with the obstacle plan.
  • The position should allow for timely and unobserved displacement.

Future Operations

Because of the need to shift units around the battlefield to support current and future operations, the future mission of the battalion should be considered when it is positioned so that there is a smooth transition from one mission to the next.

Zone of Supported Unit

The battalion should be positioned to range the entire zone of the supported unit. Also, by positioning within the zone of its supported unit, the battalion reduces the complications of coordinating position areas and movement routes through the maneuver area.


Communications capability closely follows mission and survivability in terms of importance in selecting positions. Both artillery C2 and TACFIRE depend heavily on good communications. Without functioning communications, the maneuver operation cannot be adequately supported. Thus, positions must be selected that allow for reliable communications with the supported unit and higher headquarters. Remoting and directional antennas should be used whenever possible.

Enemy NBC Capabilities

The enemy capability for use of NBC munitions must be considered. A vulnerability analysis must be conducted. Enemy NBC capabilities favor dispersion within a position but dispersion does not negate the capability to mass fires. See FM 101-31-1 and FM 3-10-1 for nuclear and chemical vulnerability analyses, respectively.


Current and anticipated weather conditions and the effect of weather on the terrain, especially trafficability influence the selection of a position.


Reconnaissance is conducted to select the best battalion and battery positions, march routes, start and release points, command posts, observation posts, and communications sites and to analyze the terrain on which the battle will be fought. Reconnaissance helps the unit move from one location to another as quickly and in as organized a manner as possible.

Planning and Coordination

Reconnaissance planning begins as a result of the commander's initiative, his estimate or revised estimate of the tactical situation, or a change in orders. After considering the time available and the tactical situation the commander may decide that a ground reconnaissance will be made. If he does he should plan to include in the reconnaissance party only the personnel and equipment necessary to help formulate plans, issue orders, and select and prepare positions. Normally, the S3, BSO, RSO, and battery commanders, when available, form the reconnaissance party. In some cases, the S2 may go with the recon party to plan for radar positions, observation posts, and all-around security. Composition of the recon party is generally prescribed in unit SOPs.

Concurrently with the planning for reconnaissance to establish exact positions for occupation, the staff coordinates with the maneuver headquarters, normally through the FSO, to--

  • Clarify any questions as to the ability of the battalion to support the operation from its planned positions.
  • Resolve any conflicts in positioning between the FA battalion and the maneuver elements.
  • Ensure all elements of the force understand the organization of FA within the area of operation.
  • Determine how specific maneuver operations, such as the obstacle and deception plans, affect the reconnaissance, its intended routes, and the subsequent tactical movement of the unit.

Reconnaissance Techniques

There are three types of reconnaissance--map, ground, and air.

Map Reconnaissance. The map reconnaissance is made as a preliminary to ground or air reconnaissance. It is used when time is short or when the projected position is occupied by the enemy. Some things to be considered in making a map reconnaissance are as follows:

  • Actual terrain conditions cannot be determined.
  • Roads, towns and terrain features may have changed.
  • Other units may be in the position.
  • Enemy forces may be in the area.

Ground Reconnaissance. This is the best method of reconnaissance and is used whenever possible.

Air Reconnaissance. This is made in conjunction with a map and ground reconnaissance whenever possibe. It is used when time is short, when air assets are available, and when air superiority exists in the area to be reconnoitered. Some considerations for the air reconnaissance are as follows:

  • The physical condition of the ground is difficult to determine.
  • The route to be used cannot be adequately reconnoitered.
  • Key staff elements cannot accompany the commander.
  • The reconnaissance could give away future plans and intentions.

Reconnaissance Party

Included in the battalion recon party are the S3, BSO, RSO, and battery commanders if available. During the reconnaissance, the party makes decisions regarding the following:

  • Communications sites.
  • Position entrances and exits.
  • Concealment.
  • Defilade.
  • Trafficabiltiy.
  • Radar positions.
  • Observation posts.
  • All-around security.
  • Survey requirements.
  • Routes of march.
  • Start points.
  • Release points.
  • Time of movement.
  • Use of route markers or traffic control points.
  • Order of march.
  • Order for displacement.
  • Enemy and friendly situations.


Survey is the means to establish accurate locations and directional control for weapons and TA assets. Survey establishes a common grid, which permits the massing of fires, the delivery of surprise observed fires, the delivery of effective unobserved fires, and the transfer of target data from one unit to another. The FA battalion survey section is responsible for providing survey control to all of the firing elements any organic and/or attached TA assets, and any other assets as required; for example, OH-58Ds, combat electronic warfare and intelligence (CEWI) units, and mortars. The establishment of survey control is a command responsibility.

Commander's Guidance

The maneuver commander initiates the requirements for survey planning when he issues guidance to the artillery commander. He does so by stating his scheme of maneuver, the rate of movement, the anticipated enemy threat, and critical phases of the battle. The FSCOORD analyzes the commander's guidance and extracts the information that will allow him to visualize the survey requirements for the fire support assets. He can gain most of the information by reviewing the scheme of maneuver, rate of movement, effects desired on high-payoff targets, and accuracy requirements for TA sensors.

Each artillery commander is responsible for establishing a common grid throughout his area of operations. The FSCOORD or S3 must issue orders and guidance to the RSO so that detailed planning and coordination can start. Those survey requirements must be included in the FA support plan so that all fire support personnel are aware of them. The artillery commander's guidance must provide the following:

  • Priorities for survey, to include survey methods.
  • Accuracies required if other than SOP. Modified survey techniques may be needed as the result of METT-T.
  • Times that portions of the plan are to be completed.
  • Position requirements (primary, alternate, and supplementary).
  • Future plans. (This information is necessary to allow the RSO to plan for future survey operations.)

The S3 is responsible for the direct supervision of the RSO. He must coordinate continuously with higher-echelon staff and commanders and be prepared to advise the artillery commander on any deviation from previous guidance. If the tactical situation or the absence of accessible survey control points (SCPs) requires the use of hasty or field-expedient methods of establishing common control the force artillery commander must be informed.

The RSO and/or chief surveyor decides how best to use the PADS and conventional survey teams. They develop a survey plan using all available assets and techniques to best meet the guidance given by the S3. The plan must be coordinated with the force artillery SPCE to get SCP data and to eliminate duplication of effort. The force artillery SPCE is ultimately responsible for the detailed coordination of the entire survey effort. Battalion RSOs through the S3, may be tasked to do additional tasks based on the requirements of the force artillery as a whole. The RSO of a reinforced battalion must coordinate with the reinforcing battalion RSO so that all assets are provided with survey support in a timely and economical manner. Survey assets may have to be pooled on occasion without regard to unit identity to achieve the mission.

Survey Planning Factors

The FSCOORD and S3 must be aware of the basic capabilities and limitations of survey before they can issue effective guidance and/or orders to the RSO. They must be aware of the factors discussed below.

Unit Capabilities. They must know what personnel and types of equipment the survey teams have to effectively task them, that is, the number of conventional survey teams and PADS teams.

Survey Planning Times. The following times are used in planning survey:

  • Conventional survey team 2,000 to 4,000 meters per hour.
  • PADS survey team:
    • - Cross-country: 10 kilometers (km) per hour (kmph).
      Unimproved road: 25 kmph.
      Improved road: 50 kmph.

      -Maximum mission time: 7 hours (system shutdown and reinitialization require about 40 minutes).

      -Maximum mission radial distance: 55 kilometers (system will require update data).

Employment of Conventional Survey Teams. The PADS tends to be the primary means of providing survey to the units. However, conventional teams can be used very effectively in conjunction with the PADS teams. (See FM 6-2 and ST 6-2-20 for a detailed discussion.)

Planning Guide

The F3COORD and S3 can use the following guide to ensure that most of the issues relating to survey planning are covered. It is not exhaustive and may have to be modified to meet a particular situation.

  • Select primary, alternate, and supplementary position areas for all assets requiring survey.
  • Set time requirements associated with providing survey.
  • Determine accuracy requirements for the weapon and the TA system. Standard requirements should be reduced only if time is a critical factor. An example might be providing only direction to FA units and requiring units to establish their own locations by use of hasty techniques.
  • Set a survey priority for each weapon, each TA system, and any other asset requiring survey. This is a necessary element of the planning process because of the number of assets and positions to be surveyed. This means that survey must be controlled at the highest feasible level and not be done independently by individual battalions and units.
  • Determine the availability of starting SCPs, PADS update points, closing points, and so forth. If they are not readily available, include the requirement to emplace them in survey priorities.
  • Coordinate at all levels. The requirements from higher headquarters must be determined so that they can be included in the planning process.


The battalion can displace by unit, echelon, battery, or element (that is by platoon section or vehicle).

Displacement by Unit

In a displacement by unit, the battalion displaces with all elements moving at once. This method is best used when the battalion is supporting a unit not in contact or when augmenting fires are available.

The advantages of this method are as follows:

  • This type of displacement is most easily controlled.
  • It is the fastest method.
  • Long moves are made more easily.

The disadvantages of this method are as follows:

  • The battalion presents a big target.
  • While moving the battalion is not providing any fire support.
  • The traffic will further congest already crowded roads.
  • The commander has little flexibility once the movement has started.

Displacement by Echelon

In a displacement by echelon, the battalion displaces one or two firing batteries, a portion of the C2 element, and some headquarters and service elements in one echelon. The rest of the battalion stays in position to support the ongoing operation.

The advantages of this method are as follows:

  • The maneuver operation receives continued support.
  • The MSU control of the remaining elements is simpler.
  • Command and control are facilitated.
  • The size of moving convoys is smaller than in a displacement by unit.

The disadvantages of this method are as follows:

  • Each of the moving elements is relatively large.
  • Support to the operation is degraded by as much as two-thirds, depending on the technique used.
  • The commander's flexibility is limited.

Displacement by Battery

In a displacement by battery, each battery of the battalion moves only after the preceding battery has completed its move and is in place. The CP and trains move by a separate schedule. This method is used primarily to support a unit in contact.

The advantages of this method are as follows:

  • Support to the maneuver operation is continous.
  • By use of the mutual support unit, command and control of fires are continuous.
  • Command and control of the movement are centralized.

The disadvantages of this method are as follows:

  • Support to the operation is degraded by one-third throughout the movement of the battalion.
  • The movement is slow.
  • The movement of individual units presents a large target.
  • The commander's flexibility is not maximized.

Displacement by Element

In a displacement by element, the battalion displaces by individual elements as recommended by the battery commanders. Their recommendations are based on knowledge of the level of training of the battery.

The advantages of this method are as follows:

  • Flexibility of the commander is increased.
  • Maximum continued support to the maneuver operation is ensured.
  • The signature of the moving unit is very small.
  • The higher the level of training of the unit, the more effective this technique becomes.
  • Command and control of the movement are decentralized. The C2 elements are released to concentrate on the conduct of the battle.
  • Flexibility in selection of movement routes is unlimited.

The disadvantages of this method are as follows:

  • Considerable time is required to complete the move.
  • Control by the mutual support unit is not facilitated.
  • Command and control problems are increased.
  • Information flow must be rapid and accurate.
NOTE: Units should use a standard interpretation of the order PREPARE TO MARCH-ORDER (PTMO). Batteries are unready to move when they are directed to march-order and displace if they have not been given PTMO. The CP should always give as much warning as possible to the firing battery before requiring it to displaced. There must be a mutual understanding of what tasks the battery will do and the extent to which its functions are degraded while in a PTMO status.


Although other types of movement, such as rail and airlift will occasionally be used the normal means by which the cannon battalion moves from one position to the next is the road march. The characteristics of a road march as opposed to any other type of tactical movement are as follows:

  • The purpose is relocation of the unit.
  • It is done at a set rate of speed.
  • A specific interval is maintained between vehicles and packets.
  • The prime consideration is the rapid movement of the unit.


As in the conduct of all operations, an estimate must be made to determine the most viable course of action. The planner considers the factors of METT-T in determining the best way to move the unit.

The road march should be planned in as much detail as possible. Detailed planning consists of three steps:

  • Determine requirements for the move.
  • Analyze movement capabilities.
  • Establish movement priorities.

Standing Operating Procedures

The unit SOPs are a key element in conducting successful unit movement. The movement portion of the SOPs should address all of the following considerations and procedures:

  • Vehicle load plans.
  • Composition of serials.
  • Control measures (such as start points, checkpoints, and release points).
  • Rates of march under different conditions.
  • Communications arrangements.
  • Security measures. Include emergency action measures, such as actions in case of air attack or ambush.
  • Time intervals and distance.
  • Halt procedures.
  • Reporting instructions.

Planning Sequence

As time permits, the following sequence for movement planning is recommended:

  • Issue warning order as soon as possible.
  • Review and finalize estimate to determine and confirm routes and organization of the march elements.
  • Organize and send reconnaissance and quartering parties.
  • Prepare detailed movement plans.
  • Organize the march.
  • Review reconnaissance information.
  • Compute march data, and develop a movement table.
  • Prepare and issue march order.


Reconnaissance is essential if the battalion is to conduct a successful road march. As a minimum, the S3 must make a map reconnaissance of the routes and the destination area. If at all possible, a ground reconnaissance should be performed. Assets available to the S3 for conducting this reconnaissance are the RSO and his surveyors, the HHB and firing battery commanders, and the BSO. Reconnaissance is invaluable in determining the following:

  • Travel times.
  • Bridge capacities.
  • Identification of critical points and checkpoints.
  • Location of friendly obstacles.
  • Road conditions.
  • Actual distances.

March Techniques

Three march techniques can be used during tactical road marches: close column, open column, and infiltration.

Close Column. Vehicles are spaced about 25 to 50 meters apart during daylight, during periods of limited visibility, or when moving through built-up or congested areas. Vehicle density is about 30 vehicles per kilometer.

Open Column. Distance between vehicles is increased to provide greater dispersion. In a close column, the length of a 155-mm self-propelled battalion is 3 km: in a 100-meter open column it is 10 km. An open column is less prone to ambush and lessens accident probability.

Infiltration. Vehicles are sent one at a time, in small packets, or at irregular intervals. Infiltration makes control difficult. It is slow and should be used only when the threat dictates.

March Organization

A march column includes all elements using the same route for a single movement under the command of a single commander. A march column consists of the following:

  • The head is the first vehicle of the column. It sets the column pace.
  • The main body is composed of serials and march units. A serial is organized under one commander for planning, regulation, and control. A battalion usually forms one serial of a large march column. A march unit is a subdivision of a serial. Its movement is controlled by a single commander using voice, visual signs, or radio, if allowed.
  • The trail party follows the march column and is responsible for emergency repair and recovery, medical aid evacuation and emergency refueling.


Movement control is enhanced by using the control measures and means discussed below.

Start Point. Each movement has a start point (SP). This is an easily recognized point for starting the move. It should be far enough from assembly areas that units are organized and moving at the detailed rate by the time it is reached. Each unit should have a separate route to the start point. Each unit is responsible for reconnoitering its route to the SP and determining times of arrival and clearance of the SP. If the unit is displacing as a part of a battalion move, the SP is also the point at which control of the marching element is normally assumed by battalion.

Release Point. The release point (RP) gives the march column a common point for reverting to parent unit control. It should be on the route and recognizable on both the ground and the map. It is important that units disperse quickly from the RP. Again, separate routes should be used from the RP to the new area of each unit.

Critical Points. Critical points are points used for reference in giving instructions, places where interference with movement may occur, or places where timing may be critical. Movement should continue uninterrupted through these critical points. Guides or signs may have to be used.

Checkpoints. Checkpoints are features identifiable on the ground and on the map. They are used in reporting progress along the route of march. They may be used as targets when planning fires for the defense of the convoy.

Restrictions. These are points along the route, such as bridges or intersections, where movement may be limited or obstructed for specified periods of time. The planner must consider these restrictions and try to organize the move so that minimal interference occurs at these points.

Communications. Personal contact and visual signals are the usual methods of communicating on a road march. Radios should be used only in an emergency.

Traffic Control. Traffic control (TC) is the responsibility of the controlling headquarters. The military police (MPs) are usually employed at critical points along the route to give directions and minimize the delay caused by other columns civilian traffic, congested areas, or rough terrain. Road guides, posted by the quartering party, can help the MPs control traffic.

Speed Control. It is critical that the head of the column not exceed the authorized speed of the slowest vehicle in the column in order to reduce column whipping. All people involved must maintain the correct interval both between vehicles and between march units.

Halts. Halts must be made for rest, personal comfort, messing, refueling, maintenance, checking of equipment, allowing other traffic to pass, and getting back on schedule. The time and length of halts are detailed in the movement order or in unit SOPs. There are two types of halts:

  • A short halt is usually taken for 15 minutes after the first hour and for 10 minutes every 2 hours from then on. March elements should stop at the same time, but it may be necessary to halt at a certain part of the route rather than at a fixed time.
  • A long halt is planned in advance. Additional time must be allocated and added to the total travel time for a long halt. Locations are selected to allow all vehicles to clear the road and disperse. The area must be large enough to conduct all necessary activities such as refueling and maintenance and it must be defensible.

Planning Factors

Distance, rate of march, and time factors form the basis for planning.

Distance. Distance factors include the following:

  • Vehicle distance is the distance between two consecutive vehicles.
  • Column gap is the space between two elements. It is calculated in length or time units measured from the rear of one element to the front of the next.
  • Traffic density is the average number of vehicles in 1 mile or 1 kilometer of road. It is expressed in terms of vehicles per mile or kilometer.
  • Column length is the length including gaps, of a column from front to rear.

Rate (Speed). Speed factors are as follows:

  • Speed is the actual rate of speed of a vehicle at a specific moment. It is expressed in miles or kilometers per hour.
  • The pace is the speed of a column set by the head vehicle to maintain the average speed prescribed in orders.
  • The rate of march is the average distance traveled in a period of time. It includes short halts.

Time. Time factors include the following:

  • Arrival time is defined as the time the head of a column arrives at a certain point.
  • Clearance time is when the tail of the column passes a certain point.
  • Completion time occurs when the last vehicle in a column passes the release point.
  • An extra time allowance (EXTAL) of 1 minute per 25 vehicles is allotted over and above the calculated pass time. If there are fewer than 25 vehicles in total, EXTAL is not added. If there are over 600 vehicles, 2 minutes per 25 vehicles is allotted.
  • The pass time (PST) is the actual time between when the lead vehicle (veh) passes a given point and when the last vehicle passes the same point.
  • Time distance (TDIS) is the time needed to move a certain distance at a given rate of march.
  • Road clearance time (RCT) is the total time a column needs to clear a section of road (RCT = time distance + pass time.)
  • A time gap is the time aspect of the column gap.

Planning Formulas

The basic factors used in movement planning are distance, rate of march (speed), and time. If the planner knows two of these factors, he can deduce the third by using simple mathematics. Suppose the planner wants to determine the rate of march. He would use the formula R = D/T, in which R is rate, D is distance, and T is time. To find distance, the formula is D = R x T; to find time, it is T = D/R. These formulas give us information about the basic factors of rate, distance, and time. The march planner needs to know additional information. As the composition of each column is different, the march planner must determine pass time, time distance, arrival time, and completion time.

Pass time can be determined by using the formula:

Time distance is found by using the formula:

The release point is normally the terminal point of movement. Arrival time at the RP is computed by adding time distance and long halts to the start time. If the unit passes the SP at 1000 and its time distance was 6 hours and 30 minutes and there was one long halt of 1-hour duration, the planner would add these and derive an arrival time of 1730.

Completion time is calculated by adding pass time to arrival time or by adding time distance pass time, and halts to the start point time.

Dissemination of Movement Plan

Once planning for the road march is complete, the plan must be disseminated and briefed. This is achieved through the use of a movement order, which is a type of OPORD. The order covers the friendly and enemy situations, destination routes, rate of march maximum speed details of air and ground alert guard halts, vehicle distance, time gap, start point, release point, critical point, service support, and command and control. Other data such as route markers may be included as necessary. Many of the items could be covered in unit SOPs and need not be repeated in the movement order.

A strip map or sketch of the route is usually included as an annex to the movement order. All key personnel, to include each driver, should receive a strip map. It should show the start and release points, restrictions, and critical points with the distance shown between each.

A road movement table is another annex to the movement order. It is a convenient way of sending essential information to subordinate units. It consists of two parts. One part, the data paragraphs, shows information pertaining to two or more march elements, a list of march units, and all other information arranged in tabular form. The other part breaks information into specific march units and could include number of vehicles, load class of the heaviest vehicle, points of departure and destination route, route to SP, critical point, and route to the destination from the RP. A remarks column is included to cover any details not shown elsewhere.


The following actions should be considered in occupation of a position:

  • Site weapons and equipment to make use of the natural cover and concealment provided by the terrain and man-made features. See FM 5-103 for additional information on using terrain to enhance survivability.
  • Camouflage vehicles and installations to deny the enemy direct observation of the locations and activities of friendly units.
  • Maintain camouflage, noise, and light discipline.
  • Select weapon locations behind hill masses or near buildings or trees to preclude direct observation and to reduce the signature effect of firing.
  • Use remote radios and sensors.
  • Ensure wide dispersion between and within units.


Battalion and battery commanders should disperse their units during mid- to high-intensity warfare or anytime the primary threat to the unit is indirect fire or air attack. Dispersed units are less likely to be acquired and are more likely to survive air or indirect fire attack if they are dispersed. Automated fire control (TACFIRE) allows commanders to quickly mass fires of widely dispersed firing units. In low- to mid-intensity conflict, or anytime dismounted ground attack is the primary threat, consolidation of units or elements of units into tight defensive perimeters is indicated. See FM 6-50 for further discussion.

Occupation of Built-Up Areas

Digging in to harden a position is limited by equipment and personnel available to the commander. The existing terrain structures, cover, and concealment should be used whenever possible. In this regard, use of urban terrain becomes critical.

Advantages. Some of the advantages of occupying built-up areas are discussed below.

A built-up area provides fortified positions and overhead protection. Urban positions provide some measure of ready-made protection in the form of concrete and brick buildings and structures. Through intelligent and innovative positioning of equipment, the existing terrain can provide a measure of protection without significant preparation or resource expenditure. Some degree of protection against indirect fires is afforded by the buildings themselves (indirect fire dead space) and by the use of cellars, basements, large buildings, and underground structures to provide overhead cover without expending manpower or resources. Supplies vehicles, and maintenance facilities may be positioned in buildings not suitable for TOCs and howitzers. This enhances the unit capabilities and provides camouflage and concealment for down-loaded unit equipment and supplies. Cellars may be used to provide crew quarters for rest and meals. However, great care must be taken in an NBC environment because cellars may become traps for certain chemical agents, such as phosgene, mustard gas, and thickened nerve agents, which are heavier than air. This also applies to sewers and subways.

Enemy target-locating capabilities are degraded. The enemy's TA capabilities are significantly degraded because of the effects of terrain masking on observation. The inherent heat and noise signatures of the cities mask sound ranging and infrared (IR) detection systems. The inherent frequency modulated (FM) emissions make radio direction finding (RDF) difficult. Conventional photographic reconnaissance is more difficult because there is a greater demand on image interpretation with the clutter of an urban landscape. It is easier to hide in an environment where the unit equipment is less out of place than in a rural and more natural environment.

The use of existing support facilities in the urban environment relieves some of the pressure on the unit to provide these services itself. Facilities such as electrical power, building materials (Class IV), plot maps (civilian survey), underground sewers, communications, and water (if potable) are valuable assets to a firing unit.

The existing telephone system underground tunnels, and local authorities (police and local defense or government) can be used to enhance the ability of the unit to communicate. This alleviates some of the reliance on FM communication, which may be significantly degraded by the buildings. Also, reduced use of FM radio may allow the unit to operate undetected for a longer period of time. Roads, canals, railways, subways, and airfields can be used to enhance mobility and to resupply units.

Competition for key terrain is reduced. Where there is a choice between occupying rural and urban terrain, maneuver normally prefers the open ground. There it can use fields of fire at the maximum range of its organic small arms. Artillery can occupy urban terrain without significant reduction in its range capabilities. Firing units occupying urban terrain leave more open terrain for another unit to occupy.

Disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages of occupying built-up areas are discussed below.

Usually these areas are on likely avenues of approach. To enhance survivabilty artillery normally avoids positioning along likely enemy avenues of approach. In urban combat, this may often not be possible because every road or alley is a possible avenue of approach. This fact must be considered in positioning of firing units. All available obstacles, such as overturned cars, buses, trucks, railway cars, and demolished structures, must be used to delay any enemy approaches into the area. This must be closely coordinated with maneuver so as not to impede friendly movement.

Any unit deployed in urban terrain is vulnerable to human intelligence (HUMINT) and sabotage activities. It is more susceptible to sabotage and observation by civilians and spetsnatz forces because of the difficulty in securing a firing unit location due to the lack of a contagious perimeter.

Survey is more difficult. A unit not equipped with PADS will have difficulty with magnetic interference as a result of metallic structures. There is an increased requirement for M2A2 aiming circles because of line-of-sight problems. There also are line-of-sight problems from the aiming circle to guns and other aiming circles.

Communication with higher and supported units by FM radio is significantly degraded because of line-of-sight problems. Careful siting of antennas and retrans stations may be required to overcome the problem. Also, use of high-frequency (HF) backup sets may be necessary.

Artillery firing units may find themselves surrounded by enemy forces as the result of the nonlinear nature of urban combat. The firing unit must be prepared to defend itself against enemy assault while performing its primary role of delivering fire support. Depending on availability, a maneuver squad or platoon not committed elsewhere may be required to provide local security for a firing unit. However, it is likely that an artillery battery must be prepared to prevent a breach in the line by defending its own position against enemy ground assault. The German army found these tactics necessary on the Eastern Front during World War II, with thinly spread forces and fluid FLOTs. This means that firing batteries must be trained and equipped to build barricades to prepare demolition to lay minefield, and to prepare Claymores and booby traps.

Positioning artillery units near urban structures may create site-to-crest problems. The height of some of the buildings along the gun-target line directly in front of the battery position may have to be reduced to avoid the use of high-angle fires. Otherwise, the XO or platoon leader must plan to fire with fewer than the normally required number of guns on some missions, since some howitzers may be masked for some targets. In this case, the remaining guns must make up the shortfall in rounds required.

Lay and occupation times are increased as a result of movement, construction, spade emplacement, and the ability to see aiming circles. Multiple aiming circles may be required to lay a battery or platoon. Furthermore, the use of other lay techniques, such as referring between pieces, will be difficult because howitzers may not be able to see each other.

Displacement may be difficult because of the rubbling effect and the width of roads in the urban area.

In addition to site-to-crest problems, individual sections may have difficulty traversing and elevating tubes because of interference of buildings.

Location of the Battalion Tactical Operations Center

The FA battalion TOC within the CP should consist of those sections the battalion commander needs to adequately control his battalion and to maintain proper coordination and communications links with the supported units. The battalion commander may not be physically located at the TOC consistently, since his duties as the senior FSCOORD often may require his presence elsewhere. The HHB commander and first sergeant (1SG) are responsible for the security and logistical support of the TOC as part of the CP. For this reason, the TOC is normally located near the combat trains, and these two facilities may be collocated. The battalion TOC may consist of but is not limited to the following:

  • S3.
  • S2.
  • Operations and intelligence sections.
  • Fire direction section (that is, FDC).
  • RSO and survey section.
  • Communications (BSO) and a radio repairman).

Options for the positioning of the TOC are discussed below.

Option 1--Forward. Position the TOC to provide accessibility to both the batteries of the FA battalion and the supported maneuver unit TOC. Movements would be based on the C2 requirements of the FA battalion and the movement of the maneuver TOC.

Option 2--Vicinity of the Supported Unit Command Post. Position near the maneuver TOC with selected elements (S2, targeting officer) collocated with the brigade FSO. The headquarters element normally would be no more than 5 km from the maneuver TOC. To maintain this positioning posture, the FA battalion commander must consider the requirement to move when the maneuver TOC moves.

Location of Battalion Trains

Battalion trains consist of the following facilities:

  • Mess.
  • Administration.
  • Supply.
  • Ammunition.
  • Medical.
  • Maintenance.

The battalion trains may be organized as field and combat trains or as unit trains. Field or unit trains are generally collocated in the brigade support area, and the combat trains are positioned as far forward as possible. For further discussion of trains organization and positioning see Chapter 7.


If the cannon battalion is to provide support in both present and future operations, it and its subordinate elements must survive. The planners and executors within the battalion must consider a number of factors when seeking to enhance the survivability of the unit while providing support to the maneuver unit. Some of those factors are discussed below.


When positioning, units should occupy locations off high-speed avenues of approach. Artillery units are ill-suited to direct fire battles and should seek to avoid them.

Mutual Defense

Battalions must integrate their defenses to provide early warning and mutual defense. Battery defenses are successful when they are organized to provide--

  • Early warning.
  • A reaction force.
  • Fighting positions around work areas.
  • Assigned sectors of fire integrated to cover the area and to avoid fratricide.

The battalion S2 has staff responsibility for supervising and integrating battery defenses into a battalion scheme of defense. The battery 1SG is the responsible individual at battery level.

Position Improvement

Position improvement must be continuous and to standard. No relaxation of standards should be permitted. Position improvement begins on occupation and continues until the unit receives the order to displace. Soldiers should prepare individual and crew-served weapon fighting positions with at least 18 inches of overhead cover. All vehicles and equipment, to include tents, should be camouflaged. Noise and light discipline must be rigidly enforced.

Immediate-Action Status

Immediate-action status should be specified. This status gives battery commanders clear guidance on the flexibility they have to respond to enemy activity. There are two immediate-action states: remain in position and displace to alternate positions. One of these two states should be specified for each type of threat--ground attack (dismounted), ground attack (mounted), air attack and counterfire. Unit SOPs should clearly state battery and platoon actions for hasty displacement and survivability movements. The SOPs must address procedures for movement, reports, and requests for permission to displace. In automated units, TACFIRE procedures should be emphasized to ensure the battalion FDC is aware when a unit displaces and is not available for massing of fires.

Air Defense

Enemy aircraft represent a major threat to the survivability of the cannon battalion. The battalion has little air defense capability beyond its organic small arms. The actions discussed below can aid the unit in countering the air threat.

S2s must prepare IPB in three dimensions. Air avenues of approach and the type of aircraft the enemy is likely to use must be identified and briefed to the commanders.

Units must take advantage of incidental coverage. Few cannon battalions have organic air defense sections. They must rely on incidental coverage from AD units deployed in the area. Maneuver FSEs must keep the battalion informed of the location and type of AD units in the supported unit sector.

Air defense warnings and weapons control status must be disseminated within the battalion.

Battalions must rely on good passive defenses supplemented by organized small-arms air defense. A good camouflage plan, rigidly enforced by the chain of command, is the best defense a unit has against acquisition and engagement by hostile aircraft. Active air defense (small-arms engagement) is a self-defense measure only. Artillery units should not call attention to themselves by engaging aircraft not actively attacking them.

Soldiers must know the capabilities of their weapons and the techniques for successful small-arms air defense. Massed small-arms fire is effective in deterring an enemy aircraft from aggressively pressing an attack.


The mission of the cannon battalion is to provide responsive fire support to the maneuver commander. To do this, an efficient, flexible, and positive C2 system must be established for the basic firing unit of the cannon battalion the cannon battery. The internal structure of the batteries, combined with an extended communications network, allows positive command and control at all times, regardless of whether the battalion is organized under the battery-based or platoon-based concept.

In a battery-based unit, command and control of the firing battery are provided through the battery commander and the battery operations center (BOC). The BOC is the battery focal point for operations.

In a platoon-based unit, the requirement for functional C2 exists at both battery and platoon levels. In the platoon, this requirement is met by the platoon operations center. The POC is nothing more than the FDC with added operational responsibilities. The commander of the platoon-based unit must also provide for a single point of contact for C2 of the battery. However, since this battery has neither the personnel nor the equipment to establish a separate BOC, the commander normally does this by designating an element within the firing battery, normally one of the POCs, to perform the battery operations function. This designated POC handles all the tactical and logistical information and personnel and maintenance reports for the battery as a whole.

Positioning and displacement will vary between units on the basis of METT-T and the structure under which the battalion is organized. When the battalion positions batteries by platoon, the platoons normally remain close to each other, that is, within 400 to 1,600 meters. This makes control of the firing battery easier for its commander, promotes mutual defense for the two position areas, and eases the resupply of all classes of supply from the battery or battalion trains. Under normal operations, the battalion continues to recommend areas for positioning or goose eggs, for each firing battery rather than for each platoon, However, such goose eggs should be large enough to provide primary and alternate positions for both platoons.

For a detailed discussion of command and control and positioning of the cannon battery, see FM 6-50.

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