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The purpose of field artillery target acquisition is to provide timely and accurate location of targets to permit attack. To effectively perform their missions, artillery units must be able to acquire targets within the supported maneuver unit's area of operations. To succeed on a highly lethal battlefield, the cannon artillery battalion must maximize the use of target acquisition assets to acquire enemy forces and attack them.


Field Artillery Battalion S2

The target acquisition coordinator for the FA battalion is the FA battalion S2. He advises the S3 on the employment of any TA resources organic or attached to the battalion and recommends sectors of search. Once TA assets are deployed, the S2 supervises their operations. He formulates the radar deployment order as described in FM 6-121 to control radar coverage and operations. He includes it in the TA tab to the FA support plan. Using information provided by the TA assets organic or attached to the battalion, he prepares and maintains the TA capabilities overlay to help any him in his duties. An example TA overlay is shown below. (See FM 6-121 and FM 6-20-10 for additional details.)

The S2 works closely with the FSOs and targeting officers to provide TA support for maneuver operations. Depending on the mission assigned to the FA battalion, he may work with any or all of the following agencies:

  • Fire support officers.
  • Fire support teams.

  • Liaison sections.

  • Maneuver unit S2s.

  • Adjacent units.

  • Battery and battalion fire direction officers.

  • The targeting element of the div arty TOC.

  • Other targeting information sources.

The FA battalion S2 is important to the collection and targeting effort of the supported maneuver brigade S2. The FA battalion S2 develops his own collection plan, He relies on the maneuver unit to help him answer questions posed by his PIR when his own assets are unable to provide the necessary support. In turn the information gathered by the FA battalion S2 is of significant value to the brigade S2, who uses it in the brigade's situation development and targeting effort. The flow of information between the artillery and maneuver S2s must be a two-way street, and the artillery S2 must be conscientious in pushing information upward as well as down to the batteries. A detailed discussion of the duties of the S2 as they relate to the intelligence collection and targeting effort is found in Chapter 3.

Targeting Officer

The targeting officer is from the direct support FA battalion habitually associated with the supported maneuver brigade. He is most usefully employed in the maneuver brigade TOC, performing functions similar to those of the field artillery intelligence officer (FAIO) at higher levels. He assists the brigade S2 and the FSO regarding specific target vulnerabilities. The targeting officer gives the FSE a 24-hour FSO capability. He acts as the FSO in his absence and helps the FSO perform his duties. Also, he works with the brigade S2 and helps him and the FSO by providing information on the vulnerabilities of targets. He advises the brigade S2 on target accuracy and description requirements and evaluates dwell times for attack by fire support systems. His duties in the targeting area include the following:

  • Help the brigade S2 write the target acquisition and surveillance plan.
  • Help provide staff supervision of the TA assets attached or organic to and under the operational control of the brigade.

  • Develop, recommend to the commander, and disseminate the attack guidance matrix to the fire support element, command post, and subordinate elements. (See FM 6-20-40, Appendix G.)

  • Determine, recommend, and process time-sensitive high-payoff targets to the FSE.

  • Coordinate with the maneuver brigade S2 for target acquisition coverage and processing of brigade high-payoff targets.

  • Coordinate with the DS field artillery battalion S2 for maneuver unit assistance in covering IR and PIR identified by the artillery S2 but which he lacks assets to cover.

  • With the brigade S2, produce a target selection standards matrix for TA assets working for the brigade.


Fire support teams with the supported companies are important parts of the TA effort. They are principal sources of visually squired targets for the battalion and have direct access to targeting information from other personnel of the company. Normally, the company FSO reports information directly to the FSO at the maneuver battalion. The maneuver battalion FSO passes this information to the brigade FSE, which in turn passes it to the direct support battalion S2, brigade S2, S3, targeting officer, and other FS cell personnel as required. The company FSO can be an invaluable source of information. For example, the results of a crater analysis reported by a company FSO may be used to reorient or cue weapons-locating radars. (See FM 6-20-40 or FM 6-20-50 for a detailed discussion of FIST operations.)


The OH-58D is a division and/or corps aerial platform for conducting multiple tactical missions in a relatively short period of time. Because of its mobility and target acquisition systems, this helicopter gives the commander a powerful TA asset.

The OH-58D helicopter consists of a modified OH-58 airframe, a mast-mounted sight, an airborne target hand-over system (ATHS), an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) and an advance avionics cockpit. The pilot, an army aviator with aeroscout training and an AFSO are the flight crew of the OH-58D. The pilot is the primary operator of the aircraft. The AFSO--

  • Performs navigation assistance.
  • Provides tactical coordination between the supported maneuver element and the supporting artillery units by using digital or voice communications.

  • Lases and designates.

  • Performs hasty fire planning.

  • Reports to higher headquarters.

  • Is the secondary operator of the aircraft in an emergency.

Because of its limited numbers, its multipurpose utility, and the requirement for target attack and TA system support, use of the OH-58D systems involves detailed planning and execution at all echelons within the fire support structure. Its use should be based on the factors of METT-T and the commander's intent. The OH-58D AHRS requires updating over survey control points every 15 minutes of flight or a flight distance of 15 kilometers to ensure maximum navigational accuracy. (See TM 55-1520-248-20 for specific requirements.) The AFSO can also be designated as a cueing agent for WLRs, since he can provide real-time information on indirect fire systems. (See FM 6-20-2 for a detailed discussion on OH-58D and AFSOs.)


The COLT is a high-technology observer designed to maximize the use of smart munitions. Although originally conceived to interface with the Copperhead, a COLT can be used with any munition that requires reflected laser energy for final ballistic guidance. Thus, at present, the team can also lase for smart munitions delivered by Air Force and Army aircraft. Within the heavy force structure, the team is composed of three soldiers. In the light forces, it consists of two soldiers. Both heavy and light force COLTs are equipped with ground/vehicular laser locator designators (G/VLLDs) and the necessary mobility and communication assets to do their mission.

The COLT (with its G/VLLD) can be used for target location, ranging and/or designation, and target area survey. (To accurately perform target area survey, the COLT's location must be surveyed.)

COLTs are positioned by the brigade FSO or his representative to support the maneuver commander's overall plan. Consider employing COLTs in pairs to provide the best coverage and increased survivability This also allows for continuous COLT coverage during an operation. (See FM 6-20-40 or FM 6-20-50 for a detailed discussion on COLTs.)


Because of their primary mission surveyors will rarely, if ever, be able to continuously man observation posts. However, their mobility increases the likelihood that they will acquire hostile targets that merit indirect fire engagement.

The survey teams must also help the battalion S2 and S3 in acquiring combat information as they perform their normal mission or reconnaissance. They are particularly useful in gathering information about the terrain.


The weapons-locating radars AN/TPQ-36 and ANTPQ-37, commonly referred to as Firefinder radars, automatically provide fast and accurate locations of indirect fire weapons. They can handle simultaneous fires from more than one location and can detect and locate firing positions from the first round. Target locations are sent either to the targeting element of the div arty or FA brigade TOC or directly to a firing unit for engagement.

The Firefinder system is an organic element of the target acquisition battery in the heavy division. Each TAB has three AN/TPQ-36 radars and two AN/TPQ-37 radars. In light divisions, each DS battalion has an organic AN/TPQ-36. Two AN/TPQ-37 radars are provided as part of the corps target acquisition detachment (CTAD) that a light division receives as augmentation when deployed. Each radar section is functionally organized to provide independent weapons-locating support to a designated FA headquarters.

Normally, the AN/TPQ-36 radars are attached for support to the direct support FA battalions of the div arty and are positioned 3 to 6 km behind the FLOT. The AN/TPQ-37 radars may be attached for support by the div arty to subordinate units in a GS role. In this case, they are positioned 8 to 12 km behind the FLOT. These subordinate units may include attached FA brigades and GS and GSR battalions.

Both the design and the complementary nature of the system coverage argue for a degree of centralized control. Div arty retains the authority to establish either directly or through a subordinate unit headquarters, the specific sector of search for each radar section and cueing guidance. Div arty further retains positioning authority for radar sections under its control, and it influences positioning of sections attached to FA battalions to ensure adequate coverage of the entire division sector or zone. This process is inherent to the superior-subordinate relationship but is highlighted here to emphasize the unique role of the div arty TOC in providing responsive radar coverage for the entire division. The RDO gives specific guidance to the WLRs on authorized cueing agents, location of zones, and sectors of search. Using Threat information obtained from the DS battalion S2 and the survivability flowchart in FM 6-121, the radar warrant officer and/or section chief will determine how long the radar will be able to radiate from a position before having to reposition for survivability.

The AN/TPQ-37 WLR sections normally are retained under control of the div arty TOC. The sections normally pass targeting information to the target production section of the targeting element. However, depending on the requirements of the tactical situation, they may be directed by the div arty TOC to pass information to a designated FA battalion or brigade. If an FA brigade is designated to receive targets located by WLRs, consideration should be given to providing at least a part of the div arty targeting element (target production section order-of-battle section) to the FA brigade, since the brigade has a very limited target production capability. FM 6-121 describes using the FA brigade in this manner.

The AN/TPQ-36 radar sections may be organic to, attached to, or habitually associated with a specific DS artillery battalion. When the section is organic or attached, the DS artillery battalion may retain control of the section. Div arty guidance applies on positioning sectors of search zones, and cueing guidance. Also, the DS battalion commander must consider the following:

  • The additional signature presented by the AN/TPQ-36.
  • The additional requirement placed on battalion and/or battery personnel to secure the radar position as part of the defensive plan.

  • The additional terrain management and coordination necessary with the maneuver unit.

  • The requirement placed on battalion and/or battery personnel to logistically support the radar section.

  • The requirement to have WLRs and firing units on a common grid.

Radar sections organic or attached to the FA battalion of a separate brigade involved in an independent operation are employed as directed by the FA battalion commander. If a separate brigade is attached to a division, the organic radars remain associated with their parent unit. However, div arty coordinates their operations the same as it does for divisional radars.


The mission of the MTLR AN/TPS-25A or AN/TPS-58 is to detect, locate, and identify moving ground targets with sufficient accuracy for attack by friendly weapon systems. The radar also can vector friendly patrols to specified areas. The MTLRs are usually employed by div arty in general support of the division and are therefore seldom directly controlled by cannon battalions. However, they may be attached to battalions for support only, such as security, survey, and Classes I and III.

If the radar is attached to a battalion for employment, the considerations for the MTLR are similar to those for other TA radars; they must be taken into account to ensure effective operation of the system. (For a detailed discussion of tactics, techniques, and procedures for employment of FA target acquisition assets, see FM 6-121.)


Electronic warfare (EW) systems can acquire targets by analysis of electronic emissions and message traffic or by direction finding. Battalion survey sections may be tasked to furnish survey support for these systems.

To improve responsiveness to high-payoff targets, the div arty TOC may arrange through the G3 for certain kinds of target information to be sent directly from the military intelligence (MI) (CEWI) battalion operation center to a GS or GSR battalion. These arrangements would include guidance for the attack of targets (attack guidance matrix, HPT list). The engagement of these targets would be reported immediately to the div arty TOC.

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