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One of the seven basic tasks of the field artillery battalion is to communicate. The ability of the FA cannon battalion to communicate with its subordinate elements and with the maneuver force it supports is perhaps the greatest single factor in determining whether or not the unit will accomplish its mission. Communication must be considered as a critical factor in the planning and execution of any tactical operation.

Section I


Communication (comm) in a FA cannon battalion is essential to efficient fire support and is a command responsibility. The commander's estimate of communications requirements should provide adequate communications assets with all elements of his command and with supported reinforced, and adjacent units. To establish a responsive and dependable communications system, the cannon battalion must overcome several limitations:
  • The battalion is authorized a limited number of combat net radios to support multiple requirements.
  • The battalion monitors multiple radio neworks while maintaining continuity of operations during displacement.

  • The battalion communicates over long distances to many diverse elements, such as FISTs, FSOs, reinforcing units, and higher headquarters.

  • The battalion relies heavily on radio communication, as the speed of battle may prohibit the efficient use of wire and messengers.


A communications system must satisfy one or more of the following requirements, but it may not necessarily satisfy them all:

  • Reliability is the ability to function with the desired accuracy and dependability at all times. Elements of a reliable system are robustness resiliency, and a sufficient capacity to meet all communications requirements.
  • Flexibility is the ability to support widely dispersed forces under adverse conditions. Some indicators of a flexible system are multimeans multiaxis (more than one line or net), mobility (to move with the supported force), and modular construction for ease of repair and replacement.

  • Security is the ability to protect messages from unauthorized exposure and usage. Also, security is protection to the user from exposure to electronic warfare.

  • Speed of the system must be sufficient to ensure timeliness of the message.

  • Economy ensures timely communications with a minimum amount of personnel and equipment:

When planning communications systems, consider both internal and external requirements to communicate:

  • Internal communications requirements include the facilities for control and coordination of the activities of the unit. The installation and maintenance of internal communications systems are the responsibility of the unit commander. In a higher headquarters, such as a battalion or division the internal communications system serves as part of the external communications system of the subordinate unit.
  • External communications requirements include the facilities by which a unit maintains communication with its next higher headquarter adjacent units (as required), and supported or reinforced units. These allow the unit to receive data and information necessary to do its mission. The commander of any unit is responsible for the integration of his communications assets into the communications system of the next higher headquarters.


Communications systems differ according to the various means of communication--messenger, visual sound radio, and wire.

The communications means in a unit depend on the personnel, equipment, and transportation provided by the MTOE. The various means of communication have different capabilities and limitations. The means employed in any situation are generally those that provide the reliability, flexibility, security, and speed that meet or exceed the minimum required by the situation. Means should be employed so that they complement each other to provide the flexibility needed for communicating. Reliable communication can be greatly increased by using all the means available.

Messenger System

Messenger systems are the most flexible, reliable, and secure of the communications systems. They can handle all types of messages, including the bulky messages other systems cannot handle. The major disadvantages include nonavailability of personnel and equipment to support the system, the impersonality of the system, and the relative slowness of the system. Also, messenger service is affected by weather, terrain, and combat situations,

Visual and Sound Systems

Visual and sound systems have similar advantages and disadvantages. They are used extensively in almost all situations and are readily available to everyone. They must be preplanned and coordinated to ensure comprehension. Advantages include limited electronic signature in creating either visual or sound signals. They do not emit radio frequency (RF) signals, so EW is not a threat. Disadvantages are the noise, confusion dust, and smoke of the battle, which can obscure many of the signals. Also enemy forces can mimic and deceive by the use of similar signals. Signal operation instructions include a section that lists some visual and sound signals. SOPs list the remainder for a specific unit operation.

Radio System

Radio has advantages when compared to the other means. It does not require a physical link; therefore, radio transmissions can span great distances very quickly. It is easily installed and requires a minimum of manpower to operate. When required, it can be remoted away from operations centers, retransmitted to achieve even greater distances, and combined with wire systems as a result of net radio interface (NRI) to allow commanders to communicate over wire and radio. Another advantage--the ability to scramble our transmissions--while providing security, may lead to a disadvantage. When conversations cannot be overheard, operators tend to talk too long and too often which can make the unit susceptible to enemy electronic warfare. Radio direction finding can target the transmitter; and interference, jamming, and intrusion can render radio communication relatively useless. Radio is also susceptible to co-site interference (antennas located too close to one another); mutual interference (bleed-over caused by radios operating on adjacent frequencies); and electronic noise created by placing antennas near power lines, generators, and other emitters such as radar and microwave sites.

Wire System

Wire also has advantages when compared to the other means. It is more secure than radio, visual, and sound systems; but it is never to be considered completely secure without cryptographic devices. Wire systems are not particularly vulnerable to EW, but they are extremely susceptible to damage from enemy artillery and our own tracked vehicles. Because of its limited vulnerability to EW, wire is almost always the system of choice in a defensive operation. It is also valuable in offensive operations when the situation and time permit its installation. Surprise may be obtained by using a wire system in preference to radio to prevent giving away positions. While wire systems have some distinct advantages over radio, they also have offsetting disadvantages. They are not mobile, with the exception of the mobile stations in the mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) system. They must be carefully planned before installation; and their installation requires more time, personnel, and equipment than the other systems. While they are mostly secure, they can be tapped; and not all taps require a physical connection to the wire.


General responsibilities for communication are discussed below.

Echelons of Command

The senior unit is responsible for establishing communication with its subordinate units, whether organic or attached. This responsibility is primarily one of planning and directing the establishment of the linking communications systems, since assets belonging to either the senior headquarters or the subordinate unit may be used (senior-to-subordinate relationship).

Tactical Missions

Each of the four standard tactical missions has an inherent communications responsibility. (See the SEVEN INHERENT RESPONSIBILITIES OF FIELD ARTILLERY STANDARD TACTICAL MISSIONS chart in Chapter 1.)

Direct Support. An artillery unit with the mission of direct support must establish communication with the supported maneuver unit headquarters (supporting-to-supported relationship).

Reinforcing. An artillery unit with the mission of reinforcing must establish communication with the reinforced artillery unit headquarters (reinforcing-to-reinforced relationship).

General Support Reinforcing. An artillery unit with the mission of general support reinforcing must establish communication with the reinforced artillery unit headquarters (reinforcing-to-reinforced relationship). Communication must also be established between the artillery unit with the GSR mission and the senior artillery headquarters to which the battalion is providing support. The senior artillery headquarters must establish communication with the GSR unit (senior-to-subordinate relationship).

General Support. An artillery unit with the mission of general support does not have an inherent responsibility for establishing external communication with any other unit. However, the senior artillery unit must establish communication with its subordinate artillery units (senior-to-subordinate relationship).

Battle Area

Adjacent commands must maintain communication with each other to ensure coordination of the combat effort. The command on the left establishes communication with the command on its right, as facing the FEBA or FLOT (left-to-right relationship).

Joint Maintenance

Regardless of which unit is responsible for establishing communication, all units served by the system must help restore any communications system outage.


Individual responsibilities for the communications system are discussed below.


The commander is responsible for the adequacy and proper use of the communications system within his command. He is also responsible for its efficient operation in the system of the next higher command. The authority to establish, maintain, control, and coordinate the various communications means within the command may be exercised by a subordinate in the name of the commander when such authority is properly delegated.

Battalion S3

The S3 establishes priorities for communication in support of tactical operations. In coordination with the battalion signal officer, the S3 selects the general locations of the command posts and affiliated installations with communication as a major consideration. The rest of the staff submits requirements to the S3 for signal communication.

Battalion S2

The S2 assesses the enemy's capability to interfere with signal communication. He is also responsible for the counterintelligence aspects of signal operations within the battalion.

Battalion Signal Officer

The BSO works under the staff supervision of the S3 but is directly responsible to the commander for the battalion communications systems. The BSO advises the commander and staff on electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), signals security, communications training, communications planning, and selection of CP sites from a communications standpoint. He prepares the command and signal paragraph of the FA support plan. He coordinates with signal units for communications support. He supervises the communications activities in the battalion, to include the installation, operation, and maintenance of the battalion communications system and equipment. He is responsible for the COMSEC equipment and serves as the battalion COMSEC custodian for the unit. He issues and accounts for COMSEC equipment, key lists, codes, ciphers, SOI, and authentication systems.

Battalion Communications Platoon

The communications platoon is organized with a platoon headquarters, a wire section, and a radio section. This platoon installs, operates, and maintains the communications system for cannon battalion command and control. The organizational maintenance mechanic (MOS 31V) assigned to the platoon performs organizational maintenance on battalion headquarters communications equipment. He also provides organizational maintenance and assistance for the subordinate units of the battalion.

All elements of the battalion evacuate communications equipment for repair through the communications platoon. The platoon installs and operates the battalion wire system. This system includes lines within the headquarters and CP for the commander, staff, and elements of the HHB and lines to subordinate batteries and attached units when time and conditions permit. Priorities for installation of lines normally are established by SOP or are as directed by the battalion commander or S3. The platoon operates single-sideband (SSB) radio teletypewriter (RATT) equipment in the div arty or FA brigade RATT net(s) (when available). The exact composition of the platoon headquarters varies with each type of battalion. Two key personnel are the platoon leader (heavy divisions only) and the battalion communications chief. Their responsibilities are outlined in FM 11-50.



The communications plan is designed to fulfill the requirements of a tactical mission. Planners use communications responsibilities, communications requirements, and the unit TOE (which provides the communications means) to produce a standardized system. To meet specific requirements, commanders may have to modify their systems on the basis of METT-T.

Standard Radio Nets. The field artillery uses a set of standard radio nets for all of the standard tactical missions. This net standardization enables units to quickly and accurately interface in a combat environment. Standard net structures and purposes should not be arbitrarily changed except to tailor them to a modified mission. Such modifications should be kept to a minimum. Standard net structures (net titles, purposes, users, and equipment) are defined in this manual. They should be amplified in unit SOP and kept current as changes occur.

Voice and Digital Nets. The radio net architecture should change, depending on whether the unit has predominately voice or digital communication. Automated (TACFIRE-equipped) battalions operate in two voice nets (one for command and control and one for fire support coordination) and four digital nets (three fire direction and one fire support coordination). This architecture is designed to support a system that relies primarily on digital communication. If digital capability is lost by the battalion or by one or more of the batteries, the voice nets quickly become overburdened. A plan must be developed for converting some digital nets to voice while continuing to support the remaining digital stations and for reconverting to digital nets as that capability is restored. It is extremely important to keep voice traffic off digital nets and vice versa, so a specific sequence for conversion must be developed for various contingencies. This procedure should be included in unit SOP and practiced during training.

System Mixes. The factors of METT-T affect the use of wire, visual, sound, and messenger systems to a greater extent than they do the radio nets. Any system or mixture of systems that will communicate the information with the least exposure to enemy EW and not place total reliance on radio is preferred. To describe any one system as "primary" is no longer appropriate.

Electronic Counter-Countermeasures. ECCM should be part of each battalion SOP. They can improve OPSEC and preserve communications. ECCM techniques that have been found to be effective include the following:

  • Require authentication on nonsecure nets. Proper authentication procedures can eliminate intrusion and imitative deception.
  • Do not mix plain and encrypted traffic on the same net. Doing so compromises the nature of the net, which makes interception and analysis easier for the enemy.

  • Use secure equipment whenever possible. If the battalion is supporting a unit without secure capability, specify nets that will be unsecured and enforce secure discipline on all remaining nets.

  • Limit transmissions to less than 20 seconds. This makes interception and direction finding more difficult.

  • Work through jamming if at all possible. Jumping nets should be a last resort. Remember that if jamming is bad enough to keep a unit from operating on a particular net it will also keep many of the stations from receiving the signal to change frequencies. If antijam frequencies are to be used, they must be disseminated well in advance, so that subscriber stations can move to the alternate frequencies in sequence as communication becomes impossible on the primary frequency.

  • Use only authorized call signs from the SOI and change them on schedule. Use of permanent call signs (for example, REDLEG 6) makes analysis easier for the enemy.


Communications operations must take advantage of all available techniques to facilitate accomplishment of the mission. Techniques such as remoting transmitters, radio retransmission, antenna multiplexer, and the use of directional antennas help the cannon battalion to provide timely fires and to survive to fight again.

Remoted Transmitters. Remoting transmitters allow for the separation of the RF emitter from the personnel and equipment of the CP or other critical facilities. Also, remoting radios allows the transmitter to be sited for optimized communication while allowing the user to position in locations better suited to survivability. Remoting also minimizes on-site or mutual interference while dissipating and reducing electronic signature. For additional information concerning remoting, see FM 24-18.

Retransmission. Retrans operations may be used to extend the area of coverage of a specific radio net or to reduce the electronic signature of a position. By use of a retrans site, RF power output can be reduced at the CP or other location. Overall net ranges can be doubled by the effective use of retransmission.

Frequency modulated very high frequency (VHF) transmission distances are restricted by terrain and obstacles. The siting of radio equipment is often critical. The following are helpful hints for using FM retransmission:

  • As a minimum, make a map recon of the area of operation. Coordinate with the S2 and S3 during the planning phase.
  • Analyze the terrain for optimum communications to support the scheme of maneuver.

  • Select primary and alternate locations for retrans. Consider accessibility, defense, and logistical support.

  • Arrange the timetable for site occupation and net operation. Don't wait until retrans vehicle is needed before sending it out.

  • Ensure operators are well trained. They must be able to provide manual relay if they have equipment failures.

  • Ensure operators are aware of the tactical situation.

  • Ensure users understand how retrans works.

  • If retransmitting digital traffic, program additional key and/or delay time to allow radios to key up.

  • If using a forward entry device (FED), plan to use nearby BCSs to relay messages to TACFIRE. This capability is useful when direct communication with TACFIRE is not possible. Relay addressing should be established per SOP or as identified in the appropriate SOI.

NOTE: Additional information on retransmission operations is in FM 24-18.

Antenna Multiplexers. Using antenna multiplexers, such as the TD-1288 or TD-1289, reduces the number of ground plane antennas required to operate multiple radios. The time required to align and tune these devices is considerably less than the time required to install multiple antennas. More information on antenna multiplexers is in TM 11-5820-880-12.

Directional Antennas. Directional antennas reduce electronic signature in two directions while extending the range of the radio along the long axis of the antenna. Techniques concerning antenna construction and siting are included in ECAC-CR-83-200.

Reestablishment. Communication is essential for fire support. If communication with a station is lost, everything possible must be done to reestablish the link. The operator should--

  • Troubleshoot the radio.
  • Erect omnidirectional or uniderectional antennas.

Digital nets are backed up by voice nets and vice versa. If digital communication is lost, resolve the problem on the voice net. If a station cannot be contacted on any fire support net, coordinate with maneuver counterparts to use their nets and/or stations to reestablish communication. Unit SOP must prescribe exact actions to be taken to reestablish communication, and all personnel must be intimately familiar with those actions.

Communications Planning Ranges

The table below can be used in communications planning. The ranges presented here were determined under ideal conditions; weather and terrain may have drastic degrading influences.


The following tips will help in establishing and operating a responsive and dependable communications system:


  • Use the lowest power setting for effective transmission.
  • Make transmissions as short as possible.

  • Use proper radiotelephone procedures.

  • Use the proper antenna (directional antenna if possible).

  • Use masking if possible to hide your signal.

  • Use only authorized codes.

  • Remote radios if possible.

  • Enforce net discipline.

  • Authenticate.

  • Try to work through jamming.

  • Plan for the use of retrans.

  • Keep radios aligned and tuned.


  • Use homemade codes.
  • Use homemade call signs.

  • Start vehicles with radios on.

  • Try to talk around sensitive information.

  • Display frequencies or call signs.

  • Make antenna "farms."

Section II


Radio systems have some advantages over other means of communication. They can be used to quickly communicate over great distances with a minimum of personnel from either fixed or mobile stations. They can be established with COMSEC devices to provide on-line cryptographic security for all transmissions. Because of these advantages, the field artillery uses radio systems most often. The major disadvantages of radio systems are that they are extremely vulnerable to electronic warfare and that the enemy may use radio direction finding to locate and target transmitter positions.


Radio communications systems are divided into separate groupings, called nets. This division is based on the purposes for which the nets are used. Each net is titled, and each title has been standardized to consist of four elements:

  • Controlling headquarters (division artillery, battalion, and so forth).
  • Designated purpose of the nets (command [cmd], fire direction, intelligence [intel], and so forth).

  • Frequency spectrum (HF, VHF, ultrahigh frequency [UHF], and so forth) and/or modulation (FM, amplitude modulated [AM], or SSB, a form of amplitude modulation).

  • The type, whether the net is a voice (V), a voice and facsimile (fax), a RATT, or a digital (D) net.

For example, the battalion operations/fire (VHF-FM) (digital) net is abbreviated as bn ops/F (VHF-FM) (D) net.


A radio net is a channel, frequency, or subfrequency with more than one subscriber for the purpose of transmitting information related to the mission requirements. Each net has a controlling station called the net control station (NCS). The net may be a "free" net, in which all stations are free to contact one another at any time, or a "directed" net, in which all stations must contact the NCS for permission to contact other subscribers.

In general, eight primary nets (six internal and two external) are required for a cannon battalion to operate and perform its mission. In non-TACFIRE units, all six internal nets are FM voice. In TACFIRE units, four of the nets are FM digital, with three dedicated primarily to fire direction and one to fire support planning and coordination. Four of the nets are FM voice and are used for internal command of the battalion; administration and logistics; survey planning and coordination; and voice fire support planning, coordination, and execution. The voice fire support and survey nets are the external nets. They are in the SOI of the supported maneuver unit and the force field artillery headquarters. "Force FA" headquarters is the headquarters that assigned the battalion its tactical mission and/or the headquarters authorized to change the battalion's mission. This headquarters will normally be a div arty or an FA brigade but may also be a corps artillery.

Radio nets require fully mission-capable equipment. SOPs should be developed for the use of operational equipment and the exchange or substitution of operational equipment for non-mission-capable equipment when in a field environment. Field artillery radio nets, listed in order of priority to receive backup radio equipment resources, are fire direction, fire support, command and control, and administrative and logistics nets.


A cannon battalion combat radio net matrix is shown below. According to the battalion's tactical mission (DS, R, GSR, or GS), the matrix depicts what net(s) the unit should enter and at what level of communication.

The next four graphics show subscribers to the internal and external radio nets for each tactical mission.

The radio nets of the artillery cannon battalion must meet the requirements of the tactical mission assigned--direct support, general support, reinforcing, or general support reinforcing. The organization of the artillery cannon battalions may differ.

Some battalions are organized with organic sections that support FISTs, maneuver battalion FSEs and maneuver brigade FSEs; other battalions do not have these elements.

Apart from these differences in organization, the fire direction, operations, and intelligence sections are identical. This similarity forms the basis of the radio networks discussed in the following paragraphs. These networks are grouped according to the FA cannon battalion mission.

Direct Support Mission

The DS battalion nerve center is the command post. The DS battalion may be equipped to support a heavy maneuver brigade with self-propelled howitzers or a light infantry brigade with towed howitzers. The requirements are the same, but the equipment configurations are different. Nets indicated as digital may be voice nets until units field the necessary equipment to use digital methods and means of communication.

Internal Nets. The DS battalion operates on six internal nets.

The direct support battalion command (VHF-FM)(voice) net is used for command and control and collection and dissemination of tactical information and intelligence. The DS battalion operations section is the NCS.

The battalion fire direction 1, 2, and 3 (VHF-FM) (digital) nets are identical. They are used for tactical and technical fire direction from FOs through the DS battalion FDC to the controlling FDC. The fire direction nets (FD 1, FD 2,and FD 3) should be assigned according to the mission, not necessarily one per battery (for example, FD 1 to Btry A, FD 2 to Btry B, and FD 3 to Btry C). The NCS for all three FD nets is the battalion FDC.

The battalion operations/fire (VHF-FM) (digital) net is used for fire support planning and coordination between FA elements, for mutual support operations, and for tactical and technical fire direction to reinforcing artillery units. The NCS is the battalion operations section.

The battalion administration/logistics (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used for coordinating all battalion administrative and logistical matters. The battalion administration and logistics operations center is the NCS.

External Nets. The DS battalion operates on five external nets (and possibly two as-required nets). Additional information on these external nets is in FM 6-20-2, FM 6-20-40, FM 6-20-50, and TC 6-40A. In addition, the battalion RSO operates as a full-time subscriber in the force FA (normally div arty) survey (VHF-FM) (V) net.

The force field artillery command (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used for command and control, tactical operations, intelligence, and voice coordination with all artillery elements and units (organic, attached, and reinforcing). The force FA operations section is the NCS.

The force field artillery operations/fire 1, 2, and 3 (VHF-FM) (digital) nets are identical. They are used for tactical fire direction, fire support planning and coordination, mutual support operations, and met data. Normally, each of the DS battalions will be in one of the nets. Other artillery elements, such as the AN/TPQ-36 radar, the AN/TPQ-37 radar, and the MTLR, may also be in one of these nets depending on the task organization. The FSEs at the division tactical CP and the division main CP, if not collocated with force FA CP, will also be in one of these nets. The force FA fire control element is the NCS.

The force field artillery command/fire (HF-SSB) (V-fax/RATT) net is a multipurpose long distance net used for command and control and fire support coordination with subordinate units out of VHF range. If required, it can be used to pass digital data. The fielding of mobile subscriber equipment, an area common-user communications and telephone system, will eliminate the requirement for RATT networks linking most combat units. The RATT nets will be replaced with a voice-facsimile net. The operations section at the force FA command post is the NCS.

The supported maneuver unit operations/intelligence (VHF-FM) (voice) net is a maneuver net used for operational and intelligence traffic. The maneuver unit CP is the NCS. The DS battalion CP operates in this net to transmit and receive operational and intelligence information. Non-FA observers may call for fire in this net. The maneuver unit operations section is the NCS.

The supported maneuver unit fire support (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used for voice fire support coordination and planning. It is also used to request and coordinate close air support and naval gunfire (NGF) operations. Non-FA observers may call for fire in this net, The maneuver unit FSE is the NCS. The DS battalion CP operates in this net to provide immediate reaction to the maneuver commander's fire support requirements.

The reinforcing battalion operations/fire (VHF-FM) (digital) net is used, as required, if the DS battalion receives a reinforcing battalion.

The higher headquarters administration/logistics (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used, as required, for coordination of administrative and logistical matters. The higher headquarters ALOC is the NCS.

Reinforcing Mission

Internal Nets. When assigned to the reinforcing mission, the internal nets are the same as those required for the DS mission.

External Nets. External nets change to reflect the responsibility of reinforcing to reinforced.

The battalion enters the reinforced battalion command (VHF-FM) (voice) net. The purpose is to be immediately responsive to the needs of the reinforced artillery unit.

The battalion enters the reinforced battalion operations/fire (VHF-FM) (digital) net. The purpose is to receive tactical fire direction from the reinforced artillery unit.

The battalion continues to monitor the force FA headquarters command/fire direction (HF-SSB) (V-fax/RATT) net to remain responsive to the force FA headquarters when directed to assume a different tactical mission.

The RSO monitors the survey (VHF-FM) (voice) net in which the reinforced unit survey platoon operates.

Mutual Support Unit. Mutual support between two battalions means that the TACFIRE computer of one provides tactical fire direction for the other when that unit must displace or has equipment failure. Mutual support may be conducted between any two TACFIRE-equipped artillery battalions, but it is normally performed between a direct support and a reinforcing battalion.

When the reinforcing battalion must take control of the DS battalion firing batteries for tactical fire direction, it will operate on the DS battalion's three fire direction nets.

When the DS battalion must provide tactical fire direction to the reinforcing battalion's firing batteries, it will do so on the reinforcing battalion's operations/fire net.

To link each battalion TACFIRE computer, either the higher headquarters operations/fire (1, 2, or 3) net or one of the two battalion ops/F nets will provide the computer-to-computer link between the units.

General Support Reinforcing Mission

Internal Nets. The cannon battalion may be assigned the tactical mission of general support reinforcing. The internal nets are the same as for the DS mission.

External Nets. External nets change to reflect the responsibility of reinforcing to reinforced.

The battalion enters the force FA command (VHF-FM) (voice) net to continue to be responsive to force FA headquarters (general support).

The battalion enters the force FA operations/fire 1, 2, or 3 (VHF-FM) (digital) net to continue to be responsive to force FA headquarters (general support).

The battalion enters the reinforced battalion command (VHF-FM) (voice) net to be immediately responsive to the needs of the reinforced artillery unit.

The battalion enters the reinforced battalion operations/fire (VHF-FM) (digital) net to receive tactical fire direction from the reinforced artillery unit.

The RSO monitors the force FA survey (VHF-FM) (voice) net. If the reinforced unit operates in a different survey net (such as when a battalion of an FA brigade is GSR to a div arty DS battalion), the RSO must monitor the supported unit survey net full time while monitoring his parent unit survey net as much as possible with his available radios.

The battalion remains on the force FA command/fire direction (HF-SSB) (voice-facsimile/RATT) net.

General Support Mission

Internal Nets. The cannon battalion with a GS mission operates three internal nets (and three as-required nets).

The battalion command (VHF-FM) (voice) net serves the same purpose as that net for a battalion with a DS mission. It has similar subscribers.

If fire direction is done in the voice mode, the battalion fire direction 1 (VHF-FM) (digital) net may become overburdened. This creates the need for additional fire direction nets. Units must open and allocate additional FD nets (FD 2 and FD 3) as required.

The battalion administration/logistics (VHF-FM) (voice) net serves the same purpose as the DS battalion admin/log (VHF-FM)(V) net and has similar subscribers.

External Nets. When providing general support to a maneuver force as a part of a field artillery brigade or a div arty, the battalion operates on four external nets and one as-required net.

The force FA command (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used for command and control, tactical operations, intelligence, and voice coordination by all force FA elements. The force FA operations section is the NCS.

The force FA operations/fire 1, 2, and 3 (VHF-FM) (digital) nets are identical. They are used for tactical fire direction, fire support coordination target acquisition, and met data. The force FA fire control element (FCE) is the NCS.

The force FA command/fire direction (HF-SSB) (voice-facsimile/RATT) net is a multipurpose long distance net. It is used for command and control, fire support coordination, and fire direction with subordinate units out of VHF range. If required, this net can be used to pass digital data. The force FA operations section is the NCS.

The force FA survey (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used by the RSO for coordination and control of survey assets.

As required, the force FA administration/logistics (VHF-FM) (voice) net is used for coordination of all administrative and logistical matters. The force FA ALOC is the NCS.

General Support to a Light Infantry Division. When supporting a light infantry division (LID), the cannon battalion operates on three external nets and three as-required nets.

  • Division artillery command (VHF-FM) (voice) net.

  • Division artillery operations/fire 1, 2, or 3 (VHF-FM)(digital) net.

  • Division artillery command/fire direction (HF-SSB)(voice-facsimile/RATT) net.

  • As required, the maneuver fire support (VHF-FM)(voice) net.

  • As required the div arty target acquisition/intelligence (VHF-FM)(voice) net.

  • As required, the division artillery administration/logistics (VHF-FM) (voice) net.

Section III


Wire systems are more secure than radio, visual, or sound systems; but they can never be considered completely secure without on-line cryptographic equipment. They are not particularly vulnerable to EW but are extremely susceptible to damage from tracked vehicles and enemy artillery. Both voice and digital data can be communicated by wire. Wire communications systems are divided into networks called circuits. These circuits are based on the purpose of their use.


Wire circuits parallel combat net radio (CNR) systems. That is a wire circuit will be installed whenever possible to back up radio. Wire is not used extensively in offensive operations, but it is often the preferred communications means in defensive operations.

Wire circuits require extensive planning and coordination. Battalion signal officers must coordinate with signal battalion and/or brigade for access into the area common-user system, SOPs should further explain the planning, installation, and retrieval of wire systems. Priorities for installing FA wire circuits are fire direction network, fire support network, command and control network and administrative and logistics network.

Wire communications systems should be relatively free of splices. Digital data will not be usable if signal quality is degraded due to excessive splices. Whenever possible, terminal boards should be used instead of manual switchboards to connect digital wire lines.


The various wire circuits are discussed below according to battalion tactical missions.

Direct Support Mission

The DS battalion has four wire teams and a switchboard section to install wire. The battalion gains access into the area common-user communications system, whether it is multichannel or MSE, to complete the DS battalion wire system.

Consistent with the tactical situation, battalion wire teams install wire circuits in a predetermined sequence. SOPs should indicate wire team composition and responsibilities.

The responsible wire team installs a wire line from the DS battalion FDC to the brigade area common-user signal node. This is a digital circuit to connect the DS battalion FDC to the division artillery FDC. While returning from the signal node, the same team installs a wire line from the common user node to the battalion switchboard. This is a voice circuit to the maneuver brigade, division artillery, and other battalions. It uses the area common-user communications system. It may be necessary to install more than one line each way to meet all mission responsibilities These circuits parallel the force FA ops/F 1, 2, or 3 (VHF-FM)(D); force FA command (VHF-FM)(V); maneuver unit ops/intel (VHF-FM)(V); and maneuver unit FS (VHF-FM)(V) radio nets.

At the same time, the other three wire teams install wire lines from the DS battalion FDC to the wire heads at the cannon batteries. These are digital circuits to connect the DS battalion FDC to the platoon FDCs. While returning from the cannon batteries, the wire teams install wire lines for voice circuits from the battery wire heads to the battalion switchboard.

While the wire teams are installing the long lines (from battalion to battery), the switchboard section installs the DS battalion CP internal wire circuits and provides a test station to help the wire teams. The battery wire section gives technical assistance to the battery in the installation, operation, and maintenance of the intrabattery wire net, (See FM 6-50, Chapter 9.)

If time and situation permit, a wire team should install a direct wire line for a digital circuit to the maneuver brigade FSE and as it returns, another wire line for a voice circuit from the supported maneuver brigade switchboard to the DS battalion switchboard. These circuits parallel DS battalion ops/F (VHF-FM)(D), maneuver unit ops/intel (VHF-FM)(V), and maneuver unit FS (VHF-FM)(V) nets.

MSE users will be required to run their own lines from their terminal devices to the nearest extension node. MSE circuits will not support the fire support digital networks at the battalion level.

Reinforcing or General Support Reinforcing Mission

The FA battalion with the mission of R or GSR installs a wire line for the digital circuit to the reinforced battalion FDC. On the wire team's return, it installs a wire line for a voice circuit to connect the switchboards of the two battalions.

General Support Mission

Wire circuit installation for a battalion with a GS mission is the same as that for a DS battalion, with the following exceptions:

  • There is no requirement to establish a wire link to a maneuver brigade CP or FSE.
  • The link between the battalion FDC and the force FA headquarters is of even greater importance. Wire can be laid to the area common-user signal node or directly to the force FA CP, or both.

Section IV


Changing technology is altering the face of the AirLand Battlefield. In no area are these changes as widespread and profound as in the communications field. Equipment either currently being fielded or to be fielded in the near future will significantly improve the ability of the FA cannon battalion to communicate, both internally and with the maneuver and artillery units it supports.


The MSE provides secure, automatic digitized voice, data, and fax communications to the user, whether static or mobile. It will replace the existing area common-user multichannel communications system and many of the RATT nets. It is an area communications system extended by mobile telephone. The MSE can be used for data (digital) transmission; however, its primary purposes are for voice telephone and facsimile communications.

The division and corps signal units will establish the MSE system by positioning signal nodes throughout the division and corps area of operations. Extension nodes will be placed near maneuver brigade and div arty CPs as well as throughout the rear areas. Cannon battalions will access the MSE system either by wiring into the extension nodes or by using cellular-type radiotelephones through the signal nodes.

When in place, the MSE net functions similarly to a civilian telephone system. Subscribers are assigned individual telephone numbers, which can be dialed directly. Text and graphics can be transmitted in hard copy via the fax capability of the system.

The cannon battalion uses three key pieces of equipment when it operates in the MSE net. These are as follows:

  • The digital nonsecure voice telephone TA-1035/U is the conventional telephone of the MSE system. It converts voice signals into digital signals and transmits these converted data at 16,000 bits per second. The DNVT must be wired into the junction box J-1077/U which is located at the area signal node, normally located near the brigade CP. The user is responsible for laying the wire to the junction box. The battalion will have DNVTs in the CP, in combat and field trains, and at the firing batteries. The DNVTs cannot operate with the older wire telephones, such as the TA-312.
  • The mobile subscriber radiotelephone terminal AN/VRC-97 is the cellular telephone of the MSE system. The MSRT links into the MSE net through one of the radio access units (RAUs) positioned throughout the area of operations by the signal unit. The RAU picks up the signal from the MSRT and switches it into the nearest signal node. The cannon battalion will have four MSRTs) mounted on the vehicles of the battalion commander, executive officer, S3, and service battery commander. In addition, the battalion will have two stand-alone installation kits (SAIKs), which will allow the S3's and service battery commander's MSRTs to be dismounted for use in the CP and trains.

  • The lightweight digital facsimile (LDF) AN/UXC-7, when connected to the MSE net through the DNVT or digital secure voice terminal, will allow the battalion to send and receive text and graphics in hard copy.

The MSE will eliminate the RATT service that was previously provided by the signal battalion assets. Those RATT nets that are internal to the artillery will also disappear; however, they will be replaced by the improved high-frequency radio (IHFR) with a digital device, either a smart terminal or a facsimile, or the traffic will be passed over MSE facsimile.

The dedicated, sole-user (multichannel) circuit that provided a computer-to-computer link between some battalions and their higher headquarters will also disappear. These digital requirements will be met by the addition of an MSE-TACFIRE interface device, allocated to select units. Not all battalions will receive this device.


The combat net radio is, and will continue to be, the major means for passing fire direction and coordination data, command and control, around the AirLand Battlefield. The new SINCGARS will replace the AN/PRC-77 and AN/VRC-12 series for short-and intermediate-range communication (up to 50 km). The new IHFR will replace the AN/GRC-106-based radio sets for longer ranges (up to 80 km and farther with proper antenna and frequency selection). As stated above, the RATT will be severely reduced and ultimately eliminated by the MSE and IHFR communications systems.

The CNRs will be used for voice and data communication throughout the corps sector, but they will be relied on more heavily forward of the maneuver brigade headquarters.

The single-channel ground-airborne radio system is the new generation CNR designed to provide a major means of command and control. Its main features are its resistance to jamming through frequency hopping and its increased capacity of 2,320 channels. The basic radio is designed on a modular basis to achieve commonality among various systems configurations. It can be used in the manpack or vehicular package. It is interoperable with the AN/VRC-12-series radios. The present radio net structure will not change in terms of mission capability, net size, assignment of net stations, or distance covered. Planning considerations, however, require frequency management on a decentralized basis. This means frequency management will be done at the battalion level and will require intensive management by staff and supervisors at all levels of command.

The battlefield electronic signal operation instructions system is a decentralized system for frequency management and the publication of unit SOIs. The electronic SOI is designed to provide more responsiveness to rapidly changing and highly mobile battlefield conditions. The system consists of a basic generation unit (BGU) and an electronic notebook (EN). Any radio operator who normally carries a paper SOI will have an electronic notebook instead. Distribution channels are the same as those now used for the paper SOI.

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