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This appendix implements STANAG 2103/QSTAG 187, Edition 6, and STANAG 2104/QSTAG 189, Edition 6.

This appendix addresses the following areas of concern for fire support planners on the AirLand battlefield:

  • Deep operations.

  • Close operations.

  • Rear operations.

  • Counterfire.

  • Suppression of enemy air defenses.

  • Nuclear operations.



To successfully conduct a deep attack, the FSCOORD, G2, and G3 must cooperate fully to keep the proper emphasis on deep operations.

In the offense, a deep attack is conducted primarily by fire to isolate, immobilize, and weaken the enemy in depth in order to sustain the momentum of the attack. In such an attack, fires are planned to block the movement of enemy reserves.

In the defense, the deep attack may be conducted by fires and/or by maneuver forces.

In either the offense or the defense, fires are planned to degrade and disrupt enemy--

  • Attacking echelons.

  • Fire support.

  • Command, control, and communications.

  • Combat support and combat service support.

FSCOORD Considerations

Lance missiles, Army tactical missile system (ATACMS), EW, attack helicopters, and BAI are the primary tools used to provide long-range deep attack fires. When maneuver elements are used in the deep attack, artillery may be required to accompany the force. When field artillery accompanies the maneuver force in the deep attack, fire support considerations include the following:

  • Mutual support must be planned for FA units equipped with automated fire support equipment.

  • Extended communications lines are required between the MBA force artillery and the accompanying artillery units.

  • Ammunition expenditure will be large.

  • Maneuver force assistance may be needed to ensure security and survivability of FA units.

  • Target acquisition and intelligence-gathering assets will be taxed because of distances, frequency, and speed of moves.

  • Logistical support to include recovery, repair, and resupply, constrain the force.

  • Mobility of FA units must match that of the maneuver force.

  • Command and control problems are inherent in any force operating at extended ranges horn its parent organization.

  • Simultaneous interdiction fires using long-range weapon systems must be planned to add weight to the attack.

Initially, the deep attack force must rely on the MBA forces for most of its fire support. Counterair (CA) missions must be used to prepare the route of advance and to ensure either local air superiority or air parity. Attack helicopters may have to provide convoy protection. Offensive EW will be necessary to keep the enemy from effectively redeploying to meet the deep attack force. Tactical deception measures to cover development of the deep attack force help ensure surprise.

When the deep attack force has outdistanced the MBA artillery, organic mortars, accompanying artillery, and CAS provide most of the fire support for the force.

Successful deep operations create the conditions for future victory. The following factors must be considered in planning for deep operations:

  • Deception.

  • Deep surveillance and target acquisition.

  • Interdiction by ground or air fires, ground or aerial maneuver, special operations forces (SOFs), or any combination thereof.

  • Command, control, and communications countermeasures.

  • Command and control.

Deep operations must be focused against those enemy capabilities which most directly threaten the success of projected friendly operations.

Deep Operations Plan Format

A sample of a deep operations plan format is shown below. Individuals or elements shown in parentheses indicate responsibility for information in the paragraphs.



At the operational level, close operations include the efforts of large tactical formations - corps and army groups, joint or unified headquarters - to win current battles. At the tactical level, close operations include the efforts of smaller tactical units to win current engagements. Among the activities typically making up close operations are the following:

  • Maneuver (including deep maneuver).

  • Close combat (including close air support).

  • Indirect-fire support (including counterfire).

  • Combat support and combat service support of committed units.

  • Command and control.

The measure of success of deep and rear operations is their eventual impact on close operations.

Fire Planning

Timely fire planning provides adequate fire support to protect our forces in the close and rear battles. At the same time, it keeps the enemy from effectively developing his own operations by providing for deep attack of targets, which would interfere with our battle plan. The process by which this is achieved includes the following:

  • The formulation of a fire plan to coordinate the allocation of resources. This includes the allocation of GS artillery and details of control arrangements and proposals for the use of TACAIR. Thus, the fire plan can be modified to meet changing requirements.

  • The acquisition of information and high-payoff targets and the passing and processing of that information.

  • The consideration of weapon resources available and the selection of the most suitable weapons to attack the targets.

Planning Guidelines

In any fire planning, there are certain common guidelines.


The basic principle of mass must be kept in mind when making a fire plan. It can be achieved only by a proper organization for combat, proper selection of weapons and ammunition, and, in some cases, the amendment of a tactical plan.


The provision of adequate fire support depends on flexibility, both in planning before and control during the event. It is also necessary to allow for modifications in the fire plan to cater to unforeseen circumstances.


A simple fire plan is easier and quicker to produce, has a better chance of being understood by all concerned, and is easier to modify if necessary.


Surprise in defense and attack may be prejudiced by the preparations for supporting fire and by the use of stereotype methods. To avoid loss of surprise, careful consideration must be given to the amount of prior adjustment of fire that may be carried out. Some may be essential if fire is to be brought down close to our own troops. In other cases, it may be advantageous to accept a proportion of nonadjusted fire, especially if it can be adjusted by observation during the actual engagement of the target. The ideal, of course, is to bring down accurate fire without any obvious preparation. This requires accurate and common survey between target acquisition sensors and attack systems.


Many weapons are used to produce fire support, and their differing characteristics are designed for a specific task or tasks. The weapons available must be considered as a whole, each complementing the other. At division level, the main weight of fire support comes from the division- and corps-allotted field artillery. Yet, to make a fire plan first with field artillery and then to add air, mortar, and naval gunfire results in a badly balanced plan that fails to make the best use of available resources. Fire support must be coordinated so that each weapon plays the part for which it is best suited.

Ammunition Supply

The supply of ammunition for a fire plan must be considered in the early stages of planning. The ability of the logistic system to provide the quantities of ammunition required affects the weight of fire support available. It can be a controlling factor in the selection of H-hour and could affect the whole operational plan. Hence, every effort should be made to forecast the need for ammunition in time for the logistic system to have adequate stock ready rather than react after the need has arisen.

Sequence of Fire Planning

The general sequence is the same for both informal and formal fire plans. In a formal fire plan, apart from the greater time available for its preparation, more fire support resources are used. Thus, greater coordination and detailed planning at higher headquarters are required. An informal fire plan usually is coordinated by the headquarters originating the plan.


In an informal fire plan, the planner knows the resources available to him. In a larger, formal fire plan, an allocation of resources usually is given with the task when it is handed down from higher headquarters. If the operation originates at the lower level, it may be necessary to ask for an allocation of extra resources. This allocation usually is made in terms of fire units, ammunition, and aircraft. It may be qualified by times available or restrictions to certain phases. In formal fire planning, the initial allocation of fire support is a planning allocation, which can be changed as planning proceeds and priorities are established. When considering resources, direct-fire weapons integral to the attack force, such as armor, must be considered as well as other sources. In either case, the more information available on the enemy layout and dispositions, the more accurate and effective will be the fire support. Information availability also determines the resources retained under the commander's direct control and the priorities of fire.

Commander's Concept

The commander's concept is considered against the fire support available. The FSCOORD must advise the commander when he is making his estimate. Once the commander has determined his concept, warning orders should be issued to fire support agencies concerned. This allows preparations to commence, including adjustment and planning for redeployment, reallocation of resources, and bids for extra support.

Detailed Fire Plan

Once the course of action has been determined, the detailed fire plan may be begun. The FSCOORD must know the following:

  • The targets to be engaged and timings.

  • Any targets on call.

  • Requests from the G3 air for TACAIR.

  • The effect required on each target, which he translates into terms of weapons and types of ammunition.

  • The priority of engagement of targets.

  • Arrangements for changing the fire plan.

  • Policy on adjustment of targets before H-hour.

Fire Planning Terms

The various types of fire support required in battle and the terms used to describe such fire support include those discussed below.

Fire support tasks in all phases of war are as follows:

  • Interdiction (attack at depth).

  • Counterfire.

  • Suppression of enemy air defense systems.

Defensive fire includes--

  • Support that includes counterpreparation fire, close planned fire, and final protective fires (FPFs).

  • Covering fire as support to a counterattack.

Offensive fire includes--

  • Preparation fire.

  • Covering fire.

  • Defensive fire to cover reorganization.

Interdiction Fire

The aim of interdiction fire is to disrupt, delay, and destroy enemy forces that, because of range limitations or intervening terrain, cannot fire their primary weapon systems on friendly forces. Targets include first-echelon forces not participating in the direct battle and follow-on echelons. Interdiction fire creates windows for friendly unit offensive maneuver. Brigade commanders may develop a requirement for interdiction fires based on their concept of the operation and war games or rehearsals. These targets may then be given to the division main command post FS cell for inclusion in the division's planned or on-call target list.


The aim of counterfire is to destroy or neutralize the enemy indirect-fire systems, to include mortar, artillery, air defense, missile, and rocket systems. Observation posts and field artillery command and control facilities are also counterfire targets. Counterfire allows freedom of action to supported maneuver forces and is accomplished with mortars, guns, and aircraft. Counterfire is planned and executed for offensive and defensive operations, or it is fired in response to a request from a maneuver commander. An efficient combined arms target acquisition system is required, and counterfire should be controlled at the highest level that can ensure the timely attack of targets. See Section IV for a detailed discussion of counterfire.

Suppression of Enemy Air Defense

SEAD is that activity which neutralizes, destroys, or temporarily degrades enemy air defense systems in a specific area to enable air operations to be successfully completed. Army SEAD operations are designed to support operational and tactical plans by protecting Army aviation assets near the FLOT or during cross-FLOT operations. SEAD also includes the protection of Air Force aircraft (such as CAS aircraft) supporting the ground commander's operation. The basic principle of Army SEAD operations is see-kill. This means that enemy air defense systems are attacked immediately upon detection, consistent with the commander's intent and the best application of resources. Formal SEAD fire planning normally is conducted and coordinated at division level or higher and may involve other services (J-SEAD).

Defensive Fire

When enemy preparations for an attack are discovered, his forces must be brought under the maximum mass of counterpreparation fire immediately. The objective is to defeat his ability to mount the assault and to start the close defensive operation at the longest practicable range. Defensive fire provides close support to maneuver. It inflicts both personnel and equipment casualties on the enemy.


A defensive fire plan provides the framework on which to fight a defensive battle. It allows the maximum weight of fire to be brought to bear quickly on the enemy's preparation for the attack and his assault. All available weapons must be included in this fire plan.

The volume of fire required on each target may not be known in the planning stages. The success of a defensive fire plan depends on the flexibility of response. The fire support command and control system, coupled with its communications, provides the medium for this flexibility. A large part of the defensive battle is fought and controlled through this system.

Planning Sequence

Defensive fire planning starts with an examination of the enemy's probable action, usually based on his approaches to our position. The fire plan should not be based on individual defensive fire tasks but rather on the treatment of particular approaches. This must include the routes, assembly areas, lines of departure, and ground over which the enemy will assault. An enemy is particularly vulnerable in his initial moves for an attack and when organizing into assault formation. Once an enemy attack gets under way, one of the main purposes of a defensive fire plan is to seal off the attack and keep the enemy from reinforcing it.

Fire planning is conducted through a formal top-down process with bottom-up refinement as time permits. The corps G2, in conjunction with the G3 and FS cell representatives, performs a detailed IPB and target value analysis for the entire corps area of operation. Named areas of interest and target areas of interest are included in the IPB. High-payoff targets for the corps and specific targets of interest and/or schedules of fire come top down to the division FS cell. Concurrently, the division G2 and FSCOORD must refine the corps guidance for the division area and concept of operation. As they are developed, the division FSCOORD receives from corps targets in the division zone and area of interest which have been developed by the corps IPB and/or acquired by corps or higher acquisition assets. The FSCOORD, working with other FS cell members, the G2 and the G3, develops targets within the division zone. He adds these targets of particular interest to the division target list and passes the target list to each brigade. The target development process continues, concurrently, down to company level. After review of the battalion target list, the company FSO nominates additional targets in his zone or sector and forwards his target list back up to the battalion FSO. The battalion FSO considers the targets he receives from each company FSO, consolidates them (for example, eliminates duplications) and forwards a copy of the refined target list back to the brigade FSO. As target lists are developed at each level, fire plans are prepared to support the commander's intent for synchronizing the scheme of maneuver with fire support. Fire plans also allocate targets to the appropriate fire support agency or asset for execution at the appropriate time.

Counterpreparation Fire

Usually, there is some warning of an enemy attack. The enemy must be brought under the maximum mass of counterpreparation fire as early as possible. The close defensive battle should start at the longest practicable range. The ideal defensive fire plan is one that disrupts the enemy's preparations to such an extent that he cannot mount an assault,

Counterpreparation fire disrupts the enemy's preparations for an attack or a counterattack. It does this by striking him in his assembly areas; breaking up his attack formations; disorganizing his command, control, and communications; impairing his target acquisition efforts; and reducing his morale. Counterpreparations are usually scheduled as on call. The counterpreparation may be phased - although this is certainly not required - to successively attack certain types of targets.

Phase 1 includes--

  • Forward elements.

  • Indirect-fire systems.

  • Observation posts.

Phase 2 includes--

  • Command posts.

  • Communications and reserves while attack of indirect-fire systems continues.

NOTE: Targets are selected, usually at brigade level or higher, on likely enemy approaches to defensive positions.

Planned Fire

The aim of planned fire is to break up the enemy's attacks by striking him when he is forming up or assaulting. Subsequently, the fire is adjusted to continue attacking him during his assault until he is forced to break off the attack. Targets are initially selected by company commanders; the final selection is made by the battalion commander. Further coordination occurs at higher levels to prevent duplication of targets; for example, near unit or force boundaries. When selecting planned fire targets, the following factors are paramount:

  • The likely enemy approaches.

  • The location on the ground at which the enemy is likely to be first detected when attacking.

  • The likely enemy assembly area.

  • The use of planned targets as reference points for subsequent adjustment of fires.

Measured Response

The force SOPS should establish a standard response for certain defensive fire tasks. The SOP also may identify the FSCOORDs or units which may initiate these responses. This procedure ensures that ammunition expenditure is controlled, that priorities are maintained, and that FSCOORDs or units authorized more fire support resources are kept informed as the battle progresses.

Fire Planning for an Attack


For the purpose of fire planning, the attack may be considered as basically a movement problem; that is, the movement of enough force onto an objective to achieve an aim. The enemy will strive to prevent this by using his fire support, obstacles, and maneuver. The main purpose of a fire plan for an attack is to neutralize enemy direct and indirect fire during all stages of the attack and to prevent reserves and second-echelon interfering.

Types of Plans

A fire plan for an attack can forces for an attack can vary from an informal fire plan required as soon as possible to a formal fire plan in support of an attack some time in the future.

Informal Fire plan. Depending on the time available, informal fire planning may be necessary at brigade level and below. An informal fire plan is developed to meet a relatively urgent H-hour. However, the maneuver commander may have to delay his H-hour if artillery redeployment or ammunition availability so necessitates; and this should be one of the factors considered in his estimate. Having targets on call will be more normal than having a timed program related to a rate of advance. Fire may have to be adjusted as the attack proceeds if there was not enough time to do so previously. Well-rehearsed fire planning drills between commanders and FSCOORDs and/or FSOs are essential.

Formal Fire Plan. The formal offensive fire plan follows the same top-down process with bottom-up refinement as discussed earlier. The plan often involves a large concentration of fire support resources. The coordinating headquarters normally is the division or corps FS cell (usually one level above the headquarters making the fire plan). A substantial redeployment of artillery and a large-scale positioning program for ammunition may be required. This is the responsibility of the coordinating headquarters. Consequently, a considerable amount of time usually is needed for planning and coordination.


The best prepared fire plan rarely goes beyond H-hour without some changes. FSCOORDs and/or FSOs at all levels must ensure that fire planning and target adjustment drills are well-rehearsed and procedures for changing the fire plan are clearly understood by all.

Planning Considerations

The fire plan must cover the entire attack and be integrated with the actions of the attacking troops. Offensive fire planning should include the types of fire discussed below.

Preparation Fire

Preparation fire may vary from a brief, intense bombardment on selected targets to a prolonged effort over several days, covering a large number of targets. Commanders must be clear on what they hope to achieve by this sort of fire. The effectiveness of preparation fire varies with each situation; and its feasibility depends on such factors as surprise, deployment, ammunition supply, and type of weapons available. Preparation fire is planned by the commander planning the attack. Normally, fire begins before H-hour and may extend beyond it. Firing may start at a prescribed time, or it may be held on call until needed, The preparation may be phased as follows:

  • Phase 1 - attack of fire support means and observation capabilities, including artillery headquarters and command posts.

  • Phase 2 - attack of main command posts, communications facilities, assembly areas, and reserves.

  • Phase 3 - attack of defensive areas in the forward portions of the position areas and targets that pose an immediate threat to attacking units or forces.

Covering Fire

Covering fire is used to cover the movement of the attacking unit or force during the formation, assault, and initial stages of reorganization during the early stages of the attack. Its most effective form is massing of fire on a time schedule. There may be targets on call, and some weapons must be superimposed on targets to provide a reserve of firepower. This reserve is used to engage targets of opportunity or to counter unexpected enemy action.

Covering fire is used during the attack and counterattack. The aim of covering fire is to protect assaulting troops by neutralizing enemy direct-fire weapons that can engage them during the attack and counterattack. Neutralization is achieved when the enemy is prevented from maneuvering, observing, and using his weapons effectively and a 10 percent kill rate is inflicted. To be effective, covering fire support should be potentially lethal, intense, and continuous. Covering fire support for an attack always should be planned in advance by the commander planning the attack. Normally, it includes one or all of the following: schedules, targets on call, and targets of opportunity.

Schedules. Schedules establish planned timings for individual targets to cover the period of the attack. The schedule must be modifiable, since few attacks go exactly as planned. If communications are lost, fire support would be provided in accordance with the schedule; the maneuver force would have to adjust its rates of movement to synchronize with the schedule.

Targets on Call. These are planned targets that are arranged in all detail less their timings. They ensure a quick response and can be called for at any time. This is a form of contingent fire planning.

Targets of Opportunity. At times in an attack, covering fire support may be needed on targets that have not been planned. Fire can be called for by FSOs, COLTs, forward observers, air observers, naval gunfire liaison officers or air liaison officers supporting the attack, and the assaulting troops themselves. All combat arms officers and non-commissioned officers also should be trained to call for and adjust fire support.

Defensive Fire During Reorganization

The attacking unit or force is most vulnerable to counterattack during reorganization. Defensive fire to cover this phase must be included in the fire plan. Initially, these targets are planned from maps, air photographs, or other information sources. Then they are confirmed and, if possible, adjusted as soon as possible after the assault arrives on the objective.

Cover for Exploitation

Normally, this cover consists of massed fire on call and an allotment of weapons and ammunition. Opportunity exploitation tasks may have to be supported by resources retained under the commander's direct control for the purpose of influencing the battle when required. The commander may have to reallocate fire support resources or change priority of fires.


The neutralization of enemy guns and mortars should be a continuing process throughout the attack. Demands for fire support resources at critical stages of the attack may restrict counterfire for certain periods. Even though counterfire is coordinated at the highest level, normally division or above, it must be considered at all stages of planning the attack. It must not be treated as a separate subject after the stages discussed earlier are planned. Counterfire must be considered as the neutralization of the enemy's main fire support. Its importance to the success of the attack cannot be overemphasized.

Determination of H-Hour

H-hour is determined by tactical considerations and the time necessary to prepare for the attack. A commander may have to decide on the relative importance of launching his attack quickly as opposed to waiting for guaranteed accuracy of fire support. In larger-scale attacks, the preparations could be lengthy. They could include positioning of ammunition, redeployment of resources, and, possibly, movement forward of extra fire support. From these factors, a D-day can be established. H-hour may still be governed by technical requirements. For example, if resources must be moved under cover of darkness to new primary positions before they fire the fire plan, H-hour cannot be early in the evening. If close air support is to be relied upon to any extent, daylight and certain weather conditions may be needed.

Commander's Ability to Influence

In the same way the commander provides for a maneuver reserve for all stages of an attack, he also must retain control over fire support resources (GS or GSR) that are immediately responsive to his needs. The commander does this to--

  • Engage previously undetected targets that threaten to break the momentum of the attack.

  • React to enemy initiatives; for example, prevent the enemy from moving his reserve to reinforce a faltering sector of his defense.

  • Maintain a capacity for counterfire throughout the attack.

  • Provide for defensive fire during the reorganization stage.

  • Ensure he has enough firepower available to support exploitation or extraction of specific elements as dictated by the tactical situation as it develops during the attack.

As a general rule, the less the commander knows about the enemy, the more fire support resources he should retain to support the battle plan as a whole. The amount and composition of resources retained under centralized control by the commander depend on the following factors. These factors are deduced during the commander's estimate (the FSCOORD's and/or FSO's advice would be sought as appropriate):

  • The likely enemy reactions to the attack.

  • The size and composition of the likely Threat force at each stage of the attack (both maneuver and firepower elements).

  • The number and type of targets that must be attacked simultaneously during the attack.

  • The number and type of fire units and ammunition available for the attack.

  • The size of the ammunition reserve that can be established for all stages of the battle.

  • The ability to position fire support resources under centralized control so that they can be superimposed on the fire of others. This should be planned so that the removal at short notice of the superimposed fire does not seriously diminish the effects of fire on the target nor affect the structure of the fire plan.

Changes to Fire Plans

A fire plan can be changed during its execution to meet unforeseen circumstances. The authority to do this should be kept at the highest feasible level, usually with the commander of the operation. Orders for changes must be clear and simple so they can be readily understood in the heat of battle. Change is easier if its possibility is considered during planning by--

  • Keeping the plan as simple as possible.

  • Dividing coveting fire into clearly defined stages.

  • Grouping targets.

  • Keeping enough GS fire units superimposed. The proper handling of GS firepower can sometimes obviate the necessity for a change to the fire plan.


Fire delivered in support of any plan should be observed. Observers from the artillery, Army aviation, Navy, or Air Force, as appropriate, should be located where they can observe the effect of fire and make any necessary adjustments. Also, they should be able to pass back information on the progress of the attack. To be effective, these observers should be in static positions and not intimately involved in the battle.

Mobile observers are needed with the attacking troops to deal with targets of opportunity. They also provide observation, reporting, and liaison during the critical reorganization phase. In particular, they adjust the defensive fire tasks that have been planned and request any additional planned close targets for inclusion in the list of defensive fire tasks.

The briefing of observers, either accompanying an attack or observing it from a static or airborne position, is most important. They must fully understand the tactical plan and the fire plan, the authority for modification, and the allocation of observers for the adjustment of fire.



The purpose of rear operations is to ensure friendly forces freedom of action to support combat forces in the close and deep operations. Depending on the threat level involved (see Chapter 4, Section VI), rear operations CPs control available forces for rear area security. The FSCOORD considerations unique to rear operations are discussed in this section.

Fire Support Tasks

The following are fire support tasks unique to rear operations:

  • Establish an FSE within the operations cell of the rear CP.

  • Identify fire support assets available for rear area fire support.

  • Select and prepare supplementary positions for indirect-fire weapons if needed.

  • Arrange survey control for rear area positions for indirect-fire weapons.

  • Determine FA ammunition considerations for rear operations.

Command and Control

Command and control considerations operations include the following:

  • Fire support agencies committed to in rear support rear area forces are designated by on-order missions.

  • Communications procedures (net, call signs, and so forth) to plan and execute fire support are established and disseminated.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination

Considerations in fire support planning and coordination for rear operations are as follows:

  • Implement fire support into rear operations plans.

  • Plan fires and targets in the rear area.

  • Coordinate for route clearance with the rear CP CSS cell and with the rear operations cell for the movement of FA units through the corps or division rear area.

Special Considerations

The principal means of fire support normally available to support rear operations are mortars, field artillery, and aircraft. In those areas near a coastline, NGF support also may be available.

Dedicated fire support for rear operations should be considered when the Threat situation dictates and sufficient fire support assets are available.

For some rear operations, field artillery with a 6,400-mil firing capability positioned within the MBA may be able to support rear operations from its current positions. Other actions may require supplementary positions from which artillery can provide support. Routes to those positions are reconnoitered. Firing positions are prepared as time and the situation permit. Communications for fire support are planned. Maneuver elements assigned to rear operations will have their company fire support teams in place. This gives these elements FSCOORDs at levels through brigade-size forces.

The following factors must be addressed in planning fire support for rear operations:

  • Assembly and movement of reserves:

      º Position reserves to support their anticipated commitment and to be secure from observation and attack.

      º Move reserves under protection from enemy observation and interdiction.

  • Deployment routes free from observation.

  • Redeployment of fire support assets to--

      º Support future operations.

      º Protect them from enemy observation and interference.

  • Maintenance and protection of sustainment efforts:

      º Protect against ground, air, and missile attack.

      º Accumulate stocks to support projected operations without decreasing support to currently engaged units.

  • Maintenance of command and control.

  • Deployment of command posts and communications networks where they can continue the fight without a break in operating tempo.



JCS Pub 1 defines counterfire as fire intended to destroy or neutralize enemy weapons.

Counterfire consists of fires targeted throughout the battlefield that are intended to attack the total enemy fire support system. It includes fires against accompanying mortars; helicopter forward operating bases; vector target designation points (VTDPs); fire support C2; artillery, rocket, and missile systems; and support and sustainment installations.

Counterfire gains freedom of action for all friendly maneuver forces and is provided by all of the fire support means, both lethal and nonlethal. Counterfire is not a separate battle. It is inseparably tied to close and deep operations and is part of the overall combined arms fight to achieve fire superiority. A fine line may exist between counterfire and attack at depth. However, once a target is capable (that is, within range) of affecting the close fight, its attack is considered counterfire.

Counterfire is a function the force commander must address; it is not solely the responsibility of the force artillery commander. Intelligence assets must be prioritized to accurately locate; and operational attack assets (such as artillery, mortars, TACAIR, attack helicopters, naval gunfire, and EW assets) must be brought to bear on the total enemy fire support system.


In the Soviet Army, the artillery is the arm of decision and the king of battle. Historically, from the Great Patriotic War to more recent experiences in Afghanistan, the Soviets exploit the success of fire support with maneuver forces.

Threat artillery is the decisive factor to achieve victory and guarantee success. Its ability to concentrate and mass fires for the main attack is expected to achieve devastating effects.

Typically, a Threat front commander pushes forward the target acquisition, C2, and artillery assets from both the first- and second-echelon armies. Our maneuver commanders will likely see across the FLOT an array of fire support systems that includes accompanying regimental fire support systems as well as supporting artillery positioned forward from division and army levels. Supporting artillery will be organized into regimental artillery groups, divisional artillery groups (DAGs), and army artillery groups (AAGs). The graphic shows a doctrinal laydown of the target set belts for Threat fire support systems.

Accompanying artillery, RAGs, and DAGs focus primarily on support of close operations against friendly maneuver elements. However, as required, they will also engage our fire support assets to support the Threat maneuver commander's efforts to gain fire superiority. In most situations, the primary targets for accompanying and supporting artillery are friendly maneuver forces and battle positions, not friendly artillery, The mission of the Chief of Artillery or Chief of Missile Troops and Artillery - as part of the overall reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and fire support effort - is to use his organic and supporting assets to locate friendly maneuver units and then create the conditions for a breakthrough attack by destroying them with intense and overwhelming fires. These fire support systems (cannons, target acquisition, and C2) are employed forward and located within 10 km of the FLOT.

The Soviets will also conduct extensive counterfire operations against our fire support systems. Their number one target priority remains the location and destruction of our nuclear-capable artillery and missile units. Doctrinally, Soviet counterfire operations are conducted primarily by use of AAG assets; however, RAGs and DAGs can also be used to support the counterfire battle. Centralizing control of his counterfire effort allows the Threat commander to mass large volumes of fires, possibly at the expense of timeliness. This potentially slower response may allow us to interrupt the Threat commander's decision cycle - a key ingredient to AirLand Battle success.


During Threat offensive operations, the main objective of Soviet fire support is to create a breakthrough situation in our maneuver force forward positions. When on the defense, the main objective of Threat fire support is to disrupt our attack formations through interdiction, massing and firing a solid wall of fire (barrages) in front of their own forward defensive positions. Our counterfire effort must negate this intense, numerically overwhelming condition and give our force commander an opportunity to achieve fire superiority. Fire superiority allows freedom of action for maneuver forces to achieve maintain dominance and to use direct systems to attack Threat maneuver forces.

Achieving fire superiority against a force and fire with overwhelming numerical advantage in delivery systems requires a counterfire effort that attacks the entire Threat fire support system early, in depth, and throughout the battle. Targeting the enemy fire support systems includes the proactive detection and attack of enemy nonfiring systems (sensors, C3 facilities, support, and sustainment installations) as well as firing systems (the weapons themselves) before they engage friendly forces; for example, MRLs in assembly areas, a ZSU 23-4 on the road, or the signature of an operating VTDP.

The force commander must, through counterfire, wrest the initiative from his Threat opponent. To achieve fire superiority, our counterfire effort must do more than merely react to Threat fires. We want to attrit the overall Threat fire support system by using proactive counterfire and attacking Threat forces at depth, before Threat fire support systems can influence current operations. The counterfire efforts of the corps and subordinate divisions must focus throughout the entire depth of each commander's area of responsibility. Future organic target acquisition and attack systems will further extend the range of the corps proactive counterfire effort to 150 km.

Counterfire is a shared responsibility. Both corps and division are responsible for counterfire planning and execution. While the responsibility is shared, the location of the targets sets, the capabilities of sensor platforms, and the ranges of available weapon systems allow for an orderly and calculated division of labor.

Counterfire must contribute to the successful fulfillment of the corps commander's intent and the corps mission. In some scenarios, the corps mission may best be accomplished by planning and executing counterfire centrally at corps. To fix responsibility for counterfire within the corps, consideration must be given to--

  • The location of hostile targets.

  • The level at which the necessary assets and the ability to synchronize acquisition, processing, and delivery exist.

Corps Counterfire Responsibility

The corps commander is responsible for counterfire throughout the depth of the corps area of responsibility. He, his FSCOORD, and his staff assess the counterfire threat to the corps. They determine the best way to protect the corps combat forces and to defeat, delay, or disrupt the Threat array. This estimate or analysis includes an assessment of the counterfire capabilities of the corps and its subordinate divisions. The corps commander's counterfire responsibilities include the following:

  • Describing his intent; planning; and then deciding on the most effective course of action (COA) and task organization for the corps and its divisions to successfully meet the counterfire threat, protect the maneuver force, and at the same time corps mission.

  • Segmenting the battlefield maneuver boundaries and/or accomplish the by delineating assigning areas of responsibility for corps and its subordinate divisions. This helps establish the delineation of counterfire responsibilities within the corps zone.

  • Assigning missions and responsibilities, to include specific taskings to intelligence assets through the G2.

  • Allocating resources. The corps commander ensures that counterfire assets are allocated in accordance with assigned missions and his intent. Corps assets may be retained at corps or allocated to subordinate divisions. Conversely, in some situations, the corps commander may require the use of division assets to support a corps counterfire responsibility. He should provide guidance for use of certain critical assets such as the corps aviation brigade, BAI and reconnaissance sorties, OH-58Ds, SOFs, and EW assets.

  • Requesting additional TA and attack systems from army group, theater, or joint task force level or from other EAC headquarters.

  • Detecting and attacking. The corps detects and attacks targets within its area of responsibility, typically beyond the established fire support coordination line (FSCL). The corps also may attack targets within a division area of responsibility when the division has forwarded such a request to corps based on priority and need. Within its capability, the corps may respond to requests for additional fires from adjacent units.

  • Monitoring. The corps commander monitors the execution of his intent throughout the corps area.

  • Assessing. Finally, the corps commander must assess the protection of his combat units and the effects of counterfire against Threat fire support systems. As appropriate, he adjusts intelligence collection and/or attack priorities for protection of his force and attack of enemy targets. He may reallocate assets and/or modify the missions of subordinate units.

Corps Counterfire Forward of the Division


By using organic assets and accessing higher-level resources, the corps commander has a capability for proactive counterfire. (The ability of divisions to effectively conduct counterfire with organic assets against targets beyond 30 km is currently limited by both acquisition and delivery means.) The corps commander can--

  • Detect heavy MRL battalions, VTDPs, helicopter forward operating bases, and other counterfire targets. He does this by use of organic aviation assets and collectors from the corps MI brigade, long-range surveillance units (LRSUs), and special operations forces.

  • Attack Threat fire support systems with MLRs and cannon battalions of the corps FA brigades out to ranges of 30 km. Beyond 30 km, deeper strike assets (such as EW, Lance, ATACMs, Army aviation, allocated Air Force sorties, and ground maneuver forces) must be considered for target attack.

  • Request additional acquisition and/or attack assets from EAC, the JTF commander, or the Air Force. The joint attack of artillery (JAART) concept requires that attack helicopters, TACAIR, and available indirect fires attack Threat fire support systems across the FLOT. A JAART is similar to a JAAT operation, but it is targeted against Threat fire support systems. A JAART may be a viable option if the corps commander faces an overwhelming counterfire threat and decides to commit all available fire support assets to reduce force ratios.

Corps Counterfire in the Division Area

The corps commander decides how the corps will conduct counterfire operations. He influences how subordinate division commanders fight through the allocation of corps assets, the issuance of attack guidance, and the identification of corps high-payoff targets. He can support a division commander's counterfire efforts by attacking Threat fire support systems at depth; thus, he helps to shape the division counterfire battle.

In addition to allocating assets to divisions, the corps commander can further support a division counterfire battle by responding to the division requests with BAI, MLRS, Lance, and EW. With respect to counterfire in the division area of responsibility, the corps commander--

  • Assigns missions to division and corps fire support assets and delineates their areas of responsibility by establishing boundaries.

  • Provides IPB products and critical intelligence information developed at corps or received from higher or adjacent headquarters.

  • Detects and attacks targets forwarded by the division. As appropriate, the corps, after coordinating with the division FSE, may attack Threat fire support targets within the division zone by massing fires to achieve required effects. Procedures for attacking Threat systems firing from across boundaries also must be coordinated.

  • Task-organizes and allocates assets. On the basis of the commander's intent and the factors of METT-T, the corps commander can give the divisions added assets for detection and attack of Threat fire support. Most often corps provides nondivisional FA delivery assets to augment div arty fire support capabilities. This can be done by either of the following actions:

      º Assigning an FA brigade a tactical mission such as reinforcing or GSR to a div arty.

      º Attaching the FA brigade to the division requiring augmentation. The FA brigade normally is then further attached to the div arty.

Normally, the corps commander retains the command relationship with the FA brigade. Thus, he can keep a string on corps delivery assets for future requirements and maintain a capability to mass fires, when required. He may modify the seven inherent responsibilities of the assigned tactical mission of the FA brigade, The addition of an FA brigade to the division provides the following:

  • An additional force artillery brigade-level C2 headquarters.

  • Additional target-processing capability.

  • Increased firepower, typically with a mix of cannon and rocket battalions.

An FA brigade, however, does not bring with it additional assets to improve the TA capability of the division. When Firefinder Block III radars are issued to div arty TA units (mid-1990s), the displaced AN/TPQ-37 counterbattery radars could be given to FA brigade HHBs. With TA assets, FA brigades afford additional flexibility to the corps commander and a means of enhancing counterfire target acquisition capabilities when employed in support of a div arty.

Division Counterfire Responsibility

Typically, most of the reactive counterfire battle takes place within the division area of responsibility. Most of the Threat active fire support systems are located in this area.

The responsibilities of the division commander mirror those of the corps commander. Although his assets are fewer in number and variety, the division commander does have organic target acquisition, target processing, and delivery assets to conduct counterfire. The div arty commander, as FSCOORD for the division, is responsible for orchestrating the division counterfire effort.

When an FA brigade from corps artillery is available to the division, the div arty commander may assign it the counterfire role, Responsibility for the execution of the division counterfire effort, however, remains with the div arty commander.

Counterfire for Low-Intensity and Mid-Intensity Situations

During low-intensity conflict (LIC) or mid-intensity conflict (MIC), Threat fire support systems will likely be less modern and perhaps less extensive than friendly fire support capabilities. Nevertheless, the Threat commander will use his fires much as he would in a high-intensity environment. Most Threat systems will include mortars and towed howitzers. Typically, self-propelled systems and MRLs will be introduced as the level of conflict escalates. Host nation logistics bases, friendly laager areas, and main supply routes are all potential targets for Threat fire support.

Counterfire responsibilities and the planning and execution requirements for these situations are identical to those previously discussed. Friendly capabilities to detect and attack hostile systems and rules for engagement are the primary differences in LIC or MIC. The light force structure provides a more limited counterfire capability. Heavier forces, however, may also be employed in LIC and MIC situations,

Contingency operations responding to LIC or MIC situations could include heavy and/or light forces. The task organization provided by the JTF commander, manifested by contingency plans and the time-phased force deployment list, dictate where the responsibility for counterfire will be placed and how it will be fought.

NOTE: The counterfire planning sequence at ail echelons uses the decide-detect-deliver methodology. These functions as implemented at corps and division are discussed below.

Corps Decide Function

Counterfire at the corps level begins with the corps commander's guidance to the corps artillery commander (the FSCOORD). At this level, decisions are made to meet a specific commander's intent. The ultimate results are mission assignments and a task organization. The intent and planning guidance of the corps commander allow the corps FSCOORD, G3, and G2 to develop a restated mission and to begin planning the assignment of responsibilities and resources for counterfire to support potential courses of action. As a minimum, the corps commander's intent and planning guidance should include the following:

  • Responsibility for specific portions of the battlefield.

  • Allocation of available assets.

  • Use of nuclear and chemical weapons.

  • Priorities for protection of friendly elements and attack of enemy areas.

  • Permission to execute before H-hour.

  • Requirements for battle damage assessment.

Given the commander's planning guidance and intent, the corps plans and FS cells (including the FSCOORD, G3, G2, and other key staff) develop COAs and associated organizations for combat to support the intent, The decide function of planning orients the collection and target acquisition effort and specifies the commander's attack guidance for execution.

The G2 is a key staff officer to help plan and execute counterfire. He is best able to focus the intelligence collection power of the corps through the corps tactical operations center support element (CTOCSE). Within the corps artillery, the G2 and G3 make recommendations to the corps G2 to maximize the use of corps TA and intelligence collection assets. The factors of METT-T may dictate that division-level acquisition means (such as EW assets and Fire finder radars) be task-organized under corps control. Consistent with the corps commander's intent, the following must be carefully considered:

  • Who will control the counterfire fight.

  • How these tasked assets will be returned in a timely manner to the divisions.

A key decision aid in the decide function for counterfire is the IPB, which includes the following:

  • Situational templates to identify potential targets and to develop NAIs and TAIs.

  • Decision support templates (DSTs) to provide windows of opportunity and to help identify the key decision points.

  • Target value analysis to give the commander a cost-effectiveness analysis, which identifies the high-payoff targets. High-payoff targets focus both detection and attack assets against specific types of targets by templating, signatures, and vulnerabilities.

In addition to establishing boundaries and areas of responsibility, the corps commander can also use fire support coordinating measures to help delineate counterfire responsibilities. The corps can establish an FSCL, which expedites the attack of all targets forward of it by both surface and air-delivered fires. The establishment of an FSCL allows higher, adjacent, and lower headquarters to engage targets without coordinating with the establishing headquarters. Thus, a portion of the corps area of responsibility is free for the attack of targets by all players. The attack of targets beyond the FSCL by ground forces should, however, be coordinated with supporting TACAIR when possible. The primary consideration for the placement of an FSCL is that it should be located beyond the area in which the corps intends to shape its deep operations fight. However, the corps deep operations concept may not seek to shape the fight but may only focus on maximizing the destruction of enemy units and/or systems. Then, the corps should establish the FSCL as close as possible to its close operations area. During offensive operations, the FSCL would be further away from friendly forces than during defensive operations. In either case, the FSCL should be placed on identifiable terrain and far enough from friendly ground maneuver forces that it does not restrict their ability to maneuver. The intent of the corps commander may be to free an area of the battlefield so that it can be expeditiously attacked by both corps and division cannon and rocket fire support systems. In that case, he should limit the depth of the division areas of responsibility and not establish a corps FSCL in an area he has allocated to a division.

The following conditions should be met before an FSCL is established by corps:

  • There is a portion of the corps deep operations area in which selective targeting is not required to shape the deep operations fight.

  • The expeditious attack of targets beyond the FSCL will support the operations of the corps, the attacking unit, or the higher headquarters of the attacking unit.

  • The corps and its supporting units are willing to accept the possible duplication of effort which may result from dual targeting beyond the FSCL.

The decide function at corps is mirrored through subordinate echelons. The decide function of the counterfire planning sequence culminates with mission assignments and tasks to target detectors and shooters.

Corps Detect Function

Target acquisition tasks supporting the corps counterfire effort flow from the decide function and are issued in the corps collection plan.

The corps G2 and FS cell develop the target acquisition plan and organize sensor tasking and reporting. Specific requirements for organic collection assets and requests for nonorganic assets are included in the corps collection plan. The corps FAIO located in the (CTOCSE ensures that the MI brigade assets (ASPS and EWS) understand both accuracy and time requirements to produce valid targets. The corps artillery G2 and G3 coordinate closely with the corps G2, FS cell, and FAIO to determine when selected sensors will shift their priority from intelligence gathering to target production. This shift in effort should be indicated on the corps decision support matrix and keyed to specific events on the battlefield. The corps artillery G2 also coordinates with the corps G2 and FS cell to ensure his PIR for the acquisition and attack of enemy fire support assets are included in the corps collection plan.

The processing and developing of targeting information from nonorganic corps assets must be streamlined. The collection and target acquisition process must also provide for assessment of target damage.

During the corps mission analysis and command estimate process, the need for additional sensor assets may be identified. One source for additional sensors which would be under the direct control of the corps commander and his staff is the reserve divisions, The EW and TA assets organic to a reserve division could be used to support the corps counterfire effort or to augment the capabilities of a committed division. One way to do this is to task-organize the reserve division acquisition assets (such as Firefinder radars, EW assets, and OH-58Ds) and assign them a tactical mission such as GS to the corps or GSR to a committed div arty. Care must be taken, however, to ensure these assets will be available to the reserve division when it is committed.

Corps Deliver Function

The deliver function for counterfire executes the acquisition and attack guidance of the commander. The attack of counterfire targets must feature streamlined target processing and violent, massed fires.

The FAIO located in the CTOCSE facilitates transmittal of timely targeting information to the FS cell and/or the FA headquarters controlling the counterfire fight. He also gives CTOCSE personnel the accuracy and timeliness requirements for friendly attack of targets.

The FS cells process targets by matching target defeat criteria, commander's attack guidance, and attack system capability. The corps FS cell attacks counterfire targets by--

  • Using cannon, rocket, and missile assets of corps FA brigades assigned a GS or GSR mission.

  • Providing the corps G3 air target locations and desired effects for TACAIR packaging.

  • Coordinating with the G3 for attack with corps aviation and/or EW assets.

  • Forwarding counterfire targets via fire support channels to subordinate divisions for attack.

  • Providing targets to adjacent corps for attack.

Division Decide Function

The decide function for counterfire at division mirrors that at corps. Priorities are established, combat assets are allocated, and tasks are specified to best meet the commander's intent.

The division FSCOORD, G2, and G3 develop and recommend the following:

  • Target priorities for acquisition. They coordinate with the EWS for EW target acquisition.

  • High-value targets and priorities.

  • Target selection standards for accuracy and timeliness.

  • Decision points and time lines for execution.

  • Fire support coordinating measures to expedite the attack of counterfire targets consistent with the commander's intent (for example, CFLs and boundaries).

  • Requirements for target damage assessment.

The centralization of assets under a single command and control headquarters is a key aspect of an effective counterfire effort. Normally, during offensive operations fire support assets are more decentralized than in the defense. However, if the commander's METT-T analysis determines that counterfire will be a major factor in the battle, he may opt for a more centralized organization for combat even for an offensive operation. This translates to the assignment of fewer reinforcing missions to available fire support assets in favor of more GSR missions. In accordance with the seven inherent responsibilities associated with the tactical mission of GSR, the force artillery commander retains first priority for calls for fire and positioning authority over a unit with the GSR mission. This gives the headquarters controlling the division counterfire effort both the assets and the flexibility to effectively conduct the counterfire effort. The commander's intent and priorities for detection and attack of Threat fire support are documented in the fire support appendix of the OPORD.

Division Detect Function


The division G2 is responsible for developing and implementing the division collection and target acquisition plan. This plan identifies the tasks MI assets must perform to support the maneuver and fire support plans developed by the FSCOORD and G3. The G2 also coordinates with the div arty on how artillery TA assets can be used to support the overall plan.

Agencies Involved

Generally, within the division, intelligence flow and target detection involve several agencies.

G2. The G2 focuses the overall collection and target acquisition effort for the division. He coordinates with div arty for the support of its acquisition assets.

Military Intelligence Battalion. The MI battalion TOC and its TCAE are the central point for data collection from both DS and GS intelligence assets. They are the link to the corps MI brigade.

Division Tactical Operations Center Support Element. The division TOC support element (DTOCSE) gives the division access to sensitive compartmented information. The division FAIO is in the DTOCSE. He can transmit perishable or time-sensitive targeting data to either the FS cell or the artillery headquarters controlling the counterfire battle (div arty or a supporting FA brigade) while providing location accuracy requirements to collection assets. To know where to send information, the FAIO must know what information or targets must be processed by the FS cell for attack by other than FA assets and what targets are to be engaged by the FA. The use of the attack guidance matrix developed during the command estimate process is essential to providing the FAIO this information.

Electronic Warfare Staff Officer. The EWSO helps the DTOCSE translate mission guidance for EW systems under division control.

Air Liaison Officer. The ALO provides current capabilities and status of Air Force assets.

Division Artillery S2. The div arty S2 has staff responsibility for the division target acquisition battery assets. He is aided by the counterfire officer and the target production section. They recommend positioning, target coverage and/or changes in coverage, and organization for combat for the div arty TA assets. The div arty S2 must coordinate the radar target acquisition plan as discussed below.

Command and Control. The div arty has several possible options for the employment of its radars:

  • It can keep them centralized with all assets reporting information to a central headquarters (div arty or a supporting FA brigade). The same headquarters would also control and coordinate positioning and zones of search for the radars.

  • It can attach assets to subordinate units. Thus, the subordinate unit can establish reporting procedures and coverage requirements and can position the attached asset (for example, attach an AN/TPQ-36 radar to a DS battalion).

  • It can use a combination of the above. For example, it can retain the AN/TPQ-37s or AN/TPS-25s or -58s under div arty control and give command and control of (attach) the AN/TPQ-36s to the DS battalions.

NOTE: Regardless of which option the div arty chooses, the radars should be attached to a subordinate headquarters for survivability and logistical support.

Positioning Considerations. Both tactical and technical aspects of positioning must be considered.

Zones of Search. Search zones prioritize the search pattern and provide the reaction posture of the radars to best meet the maneuver commander's intent and priorities. Each Firefinder radar can store up to nine different zones. There are four different types of zones used with the radar. Those types and their functions are as follows:

  • Critical friendly zone (CFZ). The CFZ designates the highest priority friendly locations of the maneuver commander and provides the most responsive priority of fires from the radars. Cued radars detecting incoming rounds into this zone immediately generate a priority request for fire. FSCOORDs recommend to maneuver commanders positioning of CFZs and their size for best responsiveness. Typical CFZs include maneuver assembly areas, headquarters, forward arming and refueling points (FARPs), and other troop concentrations.

  • Call-for-fire zone (CFFZ). The CFFZ designates a search area beyond the FLOT that the maneuver commander wants suppressed or neutralized. The CFFZ designation is closely tied to the IPB process. A CFFZ would likely be a suspected RAG or DAG position. The CFFZ provides the second most responsive priority for fires from the radar.

  • Artillery target intelligence zone (ATIZ). An ATIZ enables a maneuver commander to watch an area closely while assigning higher priority to more important areas. Targets identified in this zone will be evaluated for attack as received but will not automatically generate a fire mission.

  • Censor zone (CZ). A CZ is used to designate areas from which the commander does not want to attack targets. This zone is often used to avoid overlap and duplication.

Zone Management. Zone management must support the maneuver commander's intent. The key to zone management is the coordination of zones among adjacent radars to provide both optimum detection and priority for attack. Zones are assigned to individual radars according to how the div arty has organized its assets for combat:

  • Radars under the operational control of div arty. Div arty designates specific zones for each radar. In some instances, all division radars may be assigned the same nine zones. A specific zone may be designated on request from a subordinate maneuver commander or for the support of the division as a whole. The division may also have some zones either designated by the corps commander or shared with adjacent divisions.

  • Radars under the operational control of the close support battalions. To coordinate all coverage within the division, the div arty may still designate all or a portion of the zones for these radars. Zones may also be assigned independent of other division radars to reflect the protection priorities of the supported maneuver commander.

  • A combination of the above.

Establishment of Communications. Firefinder radars have the capability for two FM nets, one of which is digital. The digital net can be used to pass information either to the counterfire headquarters by use of the target acquisition/intelligence net (digital) or to a controlling FA battalion FDC by use of a fire direction (FD) (digital) net. The FM voice net can be used to pass information either on a command net or on an FD net.

Radiate Time. Threat EW activity considered with mission requirements will dictate cumulative radiation time before survivability moves are required. FM 6-121 provides a radiation time survivability chart. In some LIC or MIC situations where no counterradar threat exists, radars could conceivably radiate continuously. Commanders should decide, and radar technicians should closely monitor, radiation times and movement requirements.

Cueing. One of the most difficult planning factors is the determination of when and how to best cue the radar for activation. The counterfire headquarters must establish cueing guidance for radar sections. Both authority to cue and priority for cueing requirements must be clearly understood. Planned cueing schedules are normally ineffective. Therefore, cueing guidance should specify the cueing agent and the radar section to which he is linked (to include C2 and communications) and should establish the specific conditions for activating the radar. The cueing scheme should be included in rehearsals. Key personnel for cueing include FSCOORDs, FSEs, cueing agent(s), S2s of radar-controlling headquarters, and the radar section(s).

Fire Support Coordinator. The FSCOORD recommends to the maneuver commander designation and activation of CFZs based on mission and intent. The S2 must know where CFZs are and their effective times.

Fire Support Element. FSEs coordinate communications links among cueing agents located in the CFZs, radars, and attack assets.

Cueing Agents. Cueing agents maintain communication with radars and establish internal alert procedures within the CFZ with the maneuver commander.

Radars. Radars respond to requests from cueing agents and generate requests for fire.


Coordination of zones among adjacent radars provides both optimized detection and priority for attack. Coordination of cueing guidance and search zones is a dynamic process that must be closely tied to both operations planning and target acquisition. Successful management of these assets by the counterfire headquarters is as critical to fire support success as the positioning of attack assets and firing positions.

Division Deliver Function

The FSCOORD and division G3 supervise the execution of counterfire within the division.

The division FS cell coordinates and monitors the execution of counterfire through--

  • The div arty S3 for all cannon and rocket systems available to the division.

  • The ALO for allocated TACAIR support.

  • The division aviation officer for employment of attack helicopter battalions.

  • The DTOCSE for EW Support.

The div arty S3 plans the execution of the field artillery portion of the fire support plan. The MLRS battery is the only organic GS shooter available for attack at depth, counterfire, and reinforcement of close operations. Therefore, the div arty will normally require additional assets.

Assignment of Division Counterfire Role to a Field Artillery Brigade

Assignment of the counterfire role to an FA brigade reinforcing a div arty is appropriate. The div arty commander as the division FSCOORD, however, remains responsible for all division fire support, to include counterfire. Div arty must ensure the FA brigade has adequate personnel and materiel resources for counterfire. The TAB personnel should go with the radar assets to the FA brigade for C2 and employment expertise.

FA brigades require both TA assets and additional processing capability to effectively perform counterfire. Closely linked to division maneuver through the FS cell, the FSCOORD and div arty S3 must provide and coordinate the following for the FA brigade:

  • Command intent for counterfire, to include required zones and cueing guidance.

  • Intelligence support from division-controlled assets. Counterfire targets from MI battalion assets, div arty ATI files, and higher headquarters must be expeditiously forwarded to the FA brigade.

  • Land management issues and position areas for FA brigade battalions and acquisition assets forward in the division area.

  • Traffic and movement priorities for units and ammunition.

  • Ammunition forecasts and other service support requirements. Often, FA brigades have equipment not normally found in the division; for example, in 203-mm (8-inch) battalions. Requirements for special maintenance or ammunition must be coordinated.

  • Survey and met support for FA brigade units.

In a heavy division, an automated (digital) capability must be provided to nonautomated FA brigades to maximize communications with the Firefinder radars and the div arty TOC. If available, div arty should provide either a VFMED with operator or a digital message device (DMD) to the FA brigade.

Employment of Target Acquisition Assets

The div arty target acquisition effort is managed by the div arty S2 and is coordinated with the division G2 and FSE. Div arty acquisition assets must support the corps effort and the intent of the division commander.

The div arty S2 recommends an organization for combat of TA assets to best meet the division and corps commanders' requirements. Firefinder radars can be--

  • Centralized at div arty or at the FA brigade.

  • Decentralized by attachment to a close support battalion. Control of radars by a reinforcing battalion, when available, allows the brigade FSCOORD to better manage his assets in support of the brigade battle.

  • A combination of the above.

Centralized control enhances responsiveness, increases survivability, and guarantees the optimal coverage to support the division commander's intent. It is recommended when the IPB indicates a high counterfire threat. In vague situations or lower threat environments, assets may be more decentralized.

When Firefinder radars are attached to close support battalions, they are controlled by either the direct support or reinforcing battalion S2. Normally, the AN/TPQ-37 radars and the MTLRs are retained centrally. Options for the command and control of the AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 radars are shown below.

How a division or brigade commander and his FSCOORD plan to defeat Threat mortars must also be considered in determining how acquisition radars will be employed. The AN/TPQ-36 radar was primarily designed as a countermortar radar. It is the choice for locating enemy mortar units because of the ballistic trajectory of the mortar and the close proximity of the radar to the FLOT. Regardless of whether the radars have been operationally centralized or decentralized, the division AN/TPQ-36 radars must be linked to a shooter for mortar targets. This shooter most likely will be the close support battalion; however, in certain situations, we may want to link the radar to a task force (TF) mortar platoon. Given the inherent ballistic trajectories of mortars, friendly artillery may have to shoot high-angle fires to engage enemy mortar positions. This makes the artillery unit much easier to detect. Although strictly dependent on the maneuver commander's guidance and the situation, friendly mortars engaging Threat mortars may often be the best answer to how we should conduct countermortar operations.

Division Artillery Support Platoon

The heavy div arty is currently authorized six OH-58D systems. A key divisional asset, the OH-58D system is employed to best support the division commander's intent. The capabilities of this system make it an effective combat multiplier for counterfire within the division.

The OH-58D can help locate and designate Threat artillery for attack with precision guided munitions fired from cannon, aviation, or Air Force assets. The OH-58D is most effectively employed at night or in inclement weather. With a planning range of 10 km for its mast-mounted sights, this valuable asset may be particularly useful for proactive counterfire by detecting Threat fire support systems before they fire. In some situations, this system could conceivably detect and designate accompanying artillery, RAGs, and possibly DAGs without crossing the FLOT. Operations forward of the FLOT demand careful consideration and normally require packaging with other Army aviation or Air Force assets as well as SEAD for survivability.

Examples of Organization for Combat

As previously discussed, there are numerous ways in which field artillery can be organized to support the counterfire effort. (Remember, counterfire is only one consideration when organizing for combat to support the corps or division total mission.) The following examples illustrate one way to organize for combat. The organization for combat is based on the commander's intent and available assets for each scenario.



The effective employment of air assets in the AirLand Battle gives the force commander a powerful source of fire support. Army aviation and the air platforms of other services, particularly the Air Force, enable the ground commander to quickly influence the close and rear operations and to add depth to the battlefield.

Requirement for SEAD

The availability of fire support from air assets also gives the force commander the corresponding responsibility to protect those assets. This obligation is significant in view of the increasingly sophisticated threat that faces US forces across the spectrum of warfare.

Advances in technology and force structure increases have given Soviet forces, and Soviet client forces, the capability to field integrated air defense networks stronger than anything previously encountered by friendly air forces. These networks, consisting of weapon systems, radars, and C2 nodes, present a formidable all-altitude protection umbrella.

The most efficient enemy air defense systems will be on the high-intensity battlefield. However, enemy air defense capabilities in mid- and low-intensity environments pose a significant threat to US air assets. To facilitate AirLand Battle doctrine, friendly air assets must be able to survive to contribute their full combat potential. Therefore, SEAD is a critical function, which must be accomplished quickly and efficiently.

SEAD operations must be synchronized with all elements of the fire support system and with all members of the joint and combined arms team to produce maximum combat power. Unity of effort is essential in this endeavor. Synchronization of all fire support requires detailed planning and coordination and precise timing. The synchronization of fire support directed against enemy air defense is especially critical and exceedingly difficult.

The degree of criticality of a given SEAD operation, as of any other operation, must depend on the force commander's perception of the factors of METT-T. For example, the relative worth of enemy air defense targets in terms of high payoff varies in accordance with the need to commit air resources. A specific enemy air defense target may always be considered a high-value target. However, the advisability of attacking such a target must be weighed against constraints affecting the allocation and distribution of fire support assets. Actions against Threat air defenses that are not engaged against friendly air assets may not render a high payoff when ammunition expenditures are considered. However, the key point is that once the force commander decides that a specific air operation is necessary to accomplish his mission, the fire support system must be fully able to perform SEAD.

Conduct of J-SEAD

To maximize aircraft survivability, the fire perform the US Army and Air Force have developed procedures for conducting J-SEAD operations against enemy surface-to-air systems. Most of the SEAD operations conducted at corps and division will be of a joint nature involving Army, Air Force, or another service. Therefore, the scope of the discussion on attacking enemy air defenses will include J-SEAD. However, the fire support system can perform SEAD when the Army is operating independent of Air Force support. For additional information, refer to TACP 50-23/TRADOC TT 100-44-1.

SEAD Categories

Campaign SEAD

Campaign SEAD operations are preplanned, theaterwide efforts conducted concurrently over an extended period against air defense systems that normally are located well behind enemy lines. They are designed to systematically attack the enemy's critical air defense facilities, systems, and C2 nodes to reduce his overall air defense capability. This includes establishing target priorities, aligning suppression assets with specific targets, and positioning these assets to effectively engage those targets. Primarily, campaign SEAD operations are executed by Air Force suppression assets. Army participation in campaign SEAD operations is limited. However, long-range surface-to-surface weapons and EW systems are used to complement Air Force capabilities. At the same time, Army forces conduct the localized and complementary categories of SEAD to support SEAD campaigns. The overall responsibility for campaign SEAD rests with the air component commander.

Localized SEAD

Localized SEAD increases the effectiveness of combat operations by protecting friendly aircraft. It allows aircraft to fly in the low and medium altitudes while operating within the engagement envelopes of enemy air defense systems. Localized SEAD supports CAS and Army aviation operations, reconnaissance activity, and the establishment of corridors for Air Force and Army aviation missions. The Army coordinates localized SEAD operations with the Air Force through the ASOC when supporting CAS aircraft and through the BCE when supporting other Air Force missions such as AI. Localized SEAD operations are confined to geographic areas associated with ground targets that will be attacked from the air.

Complementary SEAD

Complementary SEAD involves a continuous process of seeking enemy air defense system (EADS) targets and attacking them, thereby reducing the enemy's overall capability. Complementary SEAD is an unstructured campaign to degrade the enemy's air defense capability. It is conducted throughout the battle area independent of specific aviation missions. This differs from campaign or localized SEAD, in which targets are preplanned. In general, all Army weapon systems capable of engaging EADS should participate in this category of SEAD on a see-kill basis. However, as with most aspects of AirLand Battle doctrine, Army involvement in complementary SEAD is for the purpose of supporting current and future objectives. The level of effort dedicated to complementary SEAD is controlled by the prioritization of Army fires within designated geographic areas where friendly air operations are anticipated. Complementary SEAD also includes those actions taken by the Army and Air Force aircrews for self-defense.


Each service has different suppression capabilities and responsibilities in SEAD operations. SEAD responsibilities are determined by weapon system characteristics and SEAD mission requirements and objectives. The Army conducts SEAD primarily near the FLOT, while the Air Force is responsible for SEAD generally beyond the location of friendly forces.

The Army has primary responsibility for the suppression of ground-based EADS to the limits of observed fire. Observed fire is that fire for which the points of impact can be seen by an observer. An observer could be a person (such as a forward observer or an aerial observer) or target acquisition equipment (such as air or ground radars and sensors that can control fires on the basis of observation).

Targets that cannot be engaged with observed fire are the primary responsibility of the Air Force. The Army has secondary responsibility to suppress accurately located targets out to the range limit of its weapons, In these situations, the Army can suppress targets with unobserved indirect fire if the targets are located accurately enough.

Air Force Responsibilities

The air component commander is responsible for the following actions:

  • Coordinating priorities (including target and geographic areas) for the SEAD effort with appropriate Air Force and Army commanders.

  • Prioritizing EADS targets for attack.

  • Planning and executing Air Force SEAD operations.

  • Requesting SEAD support from other component commands when required.

Army Responsibilities

Army corps and divisions play an important part in SEAD operations. The corps FS cell and the ASOC coordinate SEAD requirements to support CAS missions. The corps FS cell coordinates SEAD requirements in support of other air operations through the land component commander's BCE. The BCE coordinates and integrates SEAD efforts, including Air Force SEAD, in support of Army aviation operations near and beyond the FLOT. The FS cell also advises the ASOC and BCE on Army SEAD effort in support of Air Force assets. The corps provides SEAD support by using its own resources or by tasking subordinate units for support, when applicable. Also, the FS cell establishes target and geographical area priorities and target attack guidance for subordinate units.

The division responsibilities are similar to those of the corps. The division requests, coordinates, and synchronizes SEAD support from the corps and Air Force when required. The division also develops intelligence on EADS composition and location and disseminates it to corps, subordinate units, and other units supporting the division.

Initiating the SEAD Process

The SEAD process starts with the Army or Air Force unit that requests air operations. First consideration is given to those suppression means organic to or available to the requesting unit. When SEAD requirements exceed the availability or capability of these means, the TACS or AAGS structure is used to request or coordinate joint support.

SEAD is an integral part of air or aviation mission planning. Requests from subordinate Army echelons are consolidated, reviewed, prioritized, and scheduled by use of available Army assets. Targets exceeding Army capabilities are nominated and forwarded to the Air Force for scheduling and inclusion in their SEAD operations. SEAD requests are processed through the appropriate Army FS cell channels. (Headquarters at EAC are organized with fire support elements.) The FS cell or FSE at each echelon is configured to plan, coordinate, and execute responsibilities inherent in SEAD operations. Requests for Air Force assets are then forwarded to the BCE or the ASOC. Once approved, the schedule and other pertinent information are sent back through the same channels to the requesting Army echelon.

The Army also responds to Air Force-generated requests for Army SEAD to support air missions in accordance with established guidelines and priorities. As with Army-initiated SEAD requests, Air Force requests are processed through appropriate Army channels to the supporting units. The Army FSCOORD coordinates the mission and directs the SEAD effort. The FSCOORD also assesses the effectiveness of Army SEAD to ensure that results are forwarded to the requesting command.

If response time is critical, SEAD requests can be expeditiously processed. Time-sensitive SEAD requests can be processed directly from the FS cell to the BCE (Army requests) and from the TACC to the ASOC (Air Force requests).

SEAD Planning and Execution

The corps is the focal point for Army SEAD operations. It assesses the situation, determines requirements, assigns priorities, and allocates resources. Also, the corps ensures that the Army SEAD effort is integrated into, and synchronized with, the joint force commander's battle plan. In the corps CP, the FSCOORD directs SEAD operations through the functioning of the corps FS cell. This requires the coordination of all fire support means as well as intelligence-gathering and EW capabilities. The G2, in conjunction with the corps intelligence cell, gives the G3 and the FSCOORD information on the projected enemy defense threat. These data, plus airspace use information, are integrated into the SEAD plan by the FS cell (TRADOC Pamphlet 525-9).

At the corps level, campaign SEAD is supported by the coordinated use of air- and ground-based acquisition platforms, which include helicopter and fixed-wing assets. Disruptive efforts are planned to complement destructive efforts and include the full spectrum of EW capabilities. EW systems are used to degrade jammable threats and to neutralize enemy systems when destruction is not feasible.

The primary lethal attack means the Army has for supporting deep suppression is field artillery. Long-range rockets (MLRS) and surface-to-surface missiles (Lance) may be used to support campaign SEAD if targets are within their ranges.

NOTE: The conventional Lance warhead has a limited capability for SEAD. Near-term developments in MLRS range capabilities will improve the Army SEAD capability.

The corps plans and conducts localized suppression to protect aircraft that are required to penetrate the FLOT. This entails the suppression of EADS along the routes to (ingress) and from (egress) the attack objective as well as systems surrounding the objective when they are within range of Army attack means. A corridor may have to be established to protect helicopters participating in air assault operations.

Within the division CP, the FSCOORD determines the availability of acquisition and suppression systems. When Air Force assets are to be involved in supporting division operations, the TACP coordinates SEAD requirements and targets with the FSCOORD. Other staff responsibilities and coordination at division are similar to those at corps, with the FS cell directing and coordinating the SEAD effort. The division can participate in the three types of SEAD; however, its ability to contribute to campaign SEAD or to conduct deep suppression is limited. Army involvement in complementary SEAD is primarily at division level. When the division SEAD capabilities are exceeded, support is requested from corps.

SEAD Targeting

The targeting process for SEAD is the same as for any other target set. The targeting of enemy air defense weapons is conducted within the framework of the decide-detect-deliver approach to targeting and battle management. The product of the targeting process (that is, the successful conduct of SEAD) must ultimately accomplish one or all of the four basic tasks of fire support. The attack of enemy air defense weapons must--

  • Support air or aviation assets engaged in contact with the enemy air defense threat.

  • Fulfill some aspect of the commander's battle plan.

  • Be synchronized with the air operation.

  • Be capable of sustaining its effort.

The synchronization of SEAD is even more critical and difficult than the synchronization of fire support for ground maneuver because of the time sensitivity of air operations.

The responsibilities for SEAD targeting run across the corps and division staff sections as discussed below.

The G3 has the primary staff responsibility for ensuring that a particular SEAD operation is in consonance with the force commander's battle plan for using or supporting an air operation. The G3 confirms the commander's requirement for SEAD in terms of synchronization with the overall plan of battle, geographic areas such as corridors, and specific times for SEAD support.

SEAD operations are directed through the FS cell. The FSCOORD manages and directs the corps or division SEAD effort.



Planning and executing the use of nuclear weapons parallel those actions for conventional fire support. However, a few procedures and techniques are unique, and several considerations become increasingly important. When determining the suitability for use of nuclear weapons, the commander must--

  • Weigh the relative effectiveness of nuclear and nonnuclear weapons to achieve the desired results.

  • Recognize collateral risks (friendly troops, civilians, and obstacle creation).

  • Consider enemy responses.

  • Consider the effect of denial or delay of release.

Planning Considerations

Nuclear weapons are available only in limited quantities and must be used judiciously. Theater strategic employment is directed primarily at producing a political decision. Employment at corps level and below is explicitly intended to influence a decision at the operational level on the battlefield. However, tactical commanders and FSCOORDs at corps and division levels should plan to employ and integrate those limited weapons directed for use to achieve the greatest possible tactical advantage. This planning must--

  • Be continuous and flexible.

  • Integrate nuclear weapons with other fire support means and with maneuver.

  • Synchronize intelligence collection and damage assessment with the nuclear release time frame and time span.

  • Use maneuver to exploit the advantage gained from nuclear weapons.

  • Be coordinated with adjacent units.

  • Consider the effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and blackout.

  • Avoid keeping all tactical nuclear weapons in reserve.

Planning Allocation and Coordination

Nuclear weapons must be applied to a specific purpose in the battle plan. To do this, nuclear weapons are allocated (Do not confuse this term with "authorized for use") to support various tactical contingencies. This allocation process is continuous and occurs both before and after authorization for expenditure.

A tool that enables the corps commander and his staff to allocate nuclear weapons and integrate them into each tactical contingency is the nuclear weapons package. A package is a distinct grouping of nuclear weapons for employment in a specified area during a short time to support a corps tactical mission. A package is characterized and defined by four parameters:

  • A specified number of nuclear weapons, listed by yield or by yield and delivery system.

  • The purpose for which the package would be employed.

  • A time for employment.

  • An area for employment.

A package is given a name to identify and refer to a specific set of parameters. That package is then treated as a single entity for the purpose of request and release.

The corps develops package(s) to meet foreseeable contingencies. Normally, the package is then sent to higher echelons, adjacent units, and supporting units to facilitate coordination and to speed the release process.

Weapons within a package may be allocated to division(s), a separate brigade, or an ACR for planning. This allocation is referred to as a subpackage. It is a subelement of a package, and it lies in the sector or zone of a subordinate unit. A subpackage is planned by the subordinate unit. Then it is forwarded to corps for approval and inclusion in the corps nuclear package.

Phases of Planning

Because of the fleeting nature of the targets usually attacked at corps level and below, most packages do not contain fixed target lists.

Like conventional fire support, nuclear fire planning is continuous and dynamic. Nuclear employment planning generally follows normal staff planning procedures. Generally, packages are developed through a four-phase refinement process.

Peacetime Planning

Peacetime planning is preliminary planning based on the area, type of tactical situation expected, hypothetical threat, known limiting requirements, available resources, and proposed requirements.

Transition to War

Transition to war involves updates to packages that may apply to a particular upcoming combat situation. Using updates to limiting requirements, IPB, and the actual threat supplements peacetime planning already accomplished.

Battle Focus and Refinement

Battle focus and refinement are further development and refinement of the particular packages that specifically apply to the current fluid tactical situation. The situation also may require the development of new packages to meet new contingencies. New and updated packages are developed in accordance with issued planning guidance and are forwarded to higher headquarters to speed the release process if required.

Refinements are made to a package after it has been approved and authorized for expenditure but before firing. These are made to accommodate changes in the tactical situation. They can be made without further authorization if they remain within the scope of the approved package. The refinement process is the most critical stage, because the fluidity of the tactical situation will most likely require changes during the time it takes to get authorization to fire the package.

Planning Steps

The steps discussed below for each phase provide the techniques for nuclear package planning and nuclear target analysis. The assumptions are that no nuclear planning has been done and there are no plans in existence. The initial focus is at corps level. The same procedures are used at division and are, in fact, an extension of the planning done at corps. Planning is actually a joint endeavor involving unity of effort and capitalizing on the sharing of information. Subsequently, the focus shifts to division level to discuss wartime planning actions within the scope of the scenario in Chapter 2.

Peacetime Planning

Given a contingency plan with an area of operations and a type threat, a large portion of the time-consuming work of nuclear planning and analysis can be completed during peacetime, long before the war commences. The objective is to build packages that are usable but flexible enough to apply to a given situation on a fluid battlefield. The idea is to do as much of this work as possible ahead of time.

References and Coordination

Gather references, and initiate coordination as discussed below.

Read Nuclear References. Locate and read the appropriate nuclear references.

Read the EAC OPLAN. Extract the corps mission, the assigned area of operations, and Threat information. Make particular note of specific nuclear planning guidance.

Input to the IPB Process. As the FAIO is participating in the G2's IPB process, ensure he is both including the enemy's nuclear posture and identifying lucrative locations and times for friendly nuclear attack for further analysis.

Coordinate for Obstacle Preclusion. Start coordination with the nuclear weapons employment officer in the G3 plans section. This is to identify critical features, such as a strategic bridge, that under most circumstances the commander would not want damaged,

Coordinate for Logistical Support. Contact the corps nuclear weapons logistic element officer to determine what weapons may be available and to initiate nuclear weapons logistical support planning.

Coordinate for Civilian Preclusion. Extract population and structure preclusion guidance from the EAC OPLAN. Initiate coordination with the corps G5 to get specific data.

Coordinate for Delivery System Information. Contact the FA S3 and the ASOC to determine what delivery systems and air-delivered bombs may be available.

Planning Information

Collect and compile planning information as discussed below.

Through the FAIO, get the G2's initial situation template and event template developed during the IPB process, Place this information over a map.

Get the obstacle preclusion points from G3 plans. Place this information over a map.

Get the population and structure preclusion points from the G5. Place this information on a map.

Get information from the FA S3 and the ASOC about what delivery systems and air-delivered bombs may be available. Identify the weapon yields involved.

Desired Ground Zero

Identify tentative desired ground zeros (DGZs) for the largest-yield weapon that will fit within preclusion constraints on each mobility corridor (MC) where critical events and activities are expected to occur and where high-value targets (HVTs) will appear. The specific procedure is discussed below.

Start at the forward edge of the corps area of operations; and identify the locations where critical events, activities, and HVTs are expected to occur on a specific MC. These may be one point or a cluster of points within an area. If they are a cluster of points, identify the most probable center or a weighted average center.

NOTE: The EAC OPLAN may include the results of some operational-level nuclear planning that has already been done within the corps area of interest. These results should be looked at in more detail.

Select the largest realistic nuclear yield that may fit in the area.

Using the planning guidance constraints established by EAC or the G3, extract the preclusion and least separation distances for that yield from FM 101-31-2 or from an automated source. Apply the arcs to the preclusion points.

Place the weapon aimpoint on or as near as possible to the point or center of points. Ensure that the aimpoint does not fall within any preclusion arcs. If it does, move it slightly off-center of the point (within reason).

If the aimpoint still lies within a preclusion arc(s), select the next smaller yield weapon and repeat the two preceding steps.

Continue this process down each MC throughout the corps area of operations. The result will be a map overlay identifying the largest-yield weapons that could be used to attack HVTs in probable critical areas throughout the corps area of interest without violating preclusion constraints.

Overlay Modifications

After receipt of the corps commander's restated mission and initial planning guidance, modify the overlay produced above as necessary.

Selective Employment Plan

Develop a selective employment plan.

Courses of Action. The G2, G3, and FSCOORD, collectively, use the war-gaming process to develop courses of action. They bring to this analysis the knowledge and results gathered thus far from their own analyses of the corps mission and its essential and implied tasks. During the war-gaming process, the use of nuclear weapons is considered in each instance as are the other means of applying combat power (such as maneuver, EW, and TACAIR).

The G2 plans officer, G3, and targeting officer, as the corps nuclear weapons employment experts, actively participate in this war-gaming process. As situations are identified where the use of nuclear weapons is being considered as an opportunity or a requirement, this group provides its expert analysis and technical advice on the use of nuclear weapons.

To actively participate in the war-gaming process used to develop courses of action, this staff group develops a methodology for conducting the analysis and a framework for keeping track of the various situations and proposed packages being developed. One way to do this is as follows:

  • Split the corps area of operations into sectors. The avenues of approach lines and the time phase lines that run perpendicular to them and the MCs that were developed by the G2 can be used. Label each panel and each MC for internal reference. Use the same labels as the G2 used.

  • Then draw a matrix and label each axis accordingly. Use the matrix to record the objective of use and the number and yield of nuclear weapons to be used in each box. Add some more panels to the matrix to consider multiple MCs and/or usage across the entire corps front.

Detailed Analysis. As the G2, G3, and FSCOORD identify a situation that may be an opportunity or a requirement for the use of nuclear weapons, the FSCOORD turns to the supporting nuclear staff group for a detailed analysis. Using the updated situation and event templates and a stated objective, they begin to analyze the situation. The G3 plans nuclear employment officer and the targeting officer tentatively identify aimpoints that will best counter the Threat actions as depicted on the situation and event templates. The G2 plans officer advises. To do this, two things must be assumed: the primary target category and the conventional damage contribution.

If a tank division is being attacked, the probable choice for primary target category would be Personnel in Tanks/Immediate Transient Incapacitation. Incapacitation is the defeat criteria if the enemy could close on the FLOT within 24 hours. Latent Lethality is used as defeat criteria if the enemy could close on the FLOT later than 24 hours. On the basis of these two criteria, target coverage is then determined by the corps commander and stated to the staff as a percentage of coverage (for example, 30 percent coverage).

Conventional damage contribution might be, for example, 50 percent. This means that 50 percent of the overall required damage will be contributed by conventional weapons and 50 percent by nuclear weapons.

Adjusted Aimpoints. After selecting tentative aimpoints for this one box, the target analyst overlays the preclusion information developed as described above. If any of the tentative aimpoints selected violate any preclusion constraints, an attempt is made to offset the aimpoints enough to avoid the violation yet achieve the desired target coverage. If this does not work, try one of the following procedures:

  • Repeat the same steps, using smaller-yield weapons that potentially could be delivered in this box.

  • If the preclusion constraints are self-imposed, modify them.

  • Repeat the same steps, exchanging nuclear targets for conventional targets or changing the total damage contribution mix.

  • If the preclusion constraints are imposed by EAC, make a note that they prevent the optimum execution of a package in this area. This may be addressed to EAC later.

Using the adjusted aimpoints, determine the feasibility of delivering the yields and quantities of weapons within the box. Modify the yields, types, and/or quantities as necessary to arrive at a package that is deliverable.

Thus far, the following results of evaluating this situation should be recorded on the appropriate box in the matrix:

  • Type and strength of forces involved.

  • Objective of use.

  • Nuclear-conventional damage contribution mix.

  • Primary target category and/or coverage.

  • Number of weapons by type and yield

  • Any unresolved preclusion problems.

This process is used to evaluate the entire corps area of interest. When the G2, G3, and FSCOORD have completed their preliminary analysis of MCs, they evaluate the courses of action that involve the use of multiple MCs. The use of nuclear weapons in situations involving multiple MCs and/or usage across the entire corps front should also be evaluated. Include this information in the matrix.

Weapons Package Options. From the situation and event templates and the matrix, identify the key large-scale situations that provide the best opportunity for, and/or that most likely will require the use of, nuclear weapons. Consider the worst-case scenario for the following:

  • Each main enemy avenue of approach into the corps area of operations.

  • Multiple approaches.

  • Limited use across the corps front.

From the matrix, extract the weapons packages that apply to the situations identified in the preceding paragraph. Compare them with each other, and select the weapons package that is larger in either yield size or quantity of weapons or both.

Combine the objectives and damage contribution mixes for as many situations as possible.

Coordinate with the NWLE to determine the feasibility of logistically supporting each situation. Modify the situation as necessary.

The result of this process is the identification of one nuclear weapons package that is adequate to meet each specific situation yet is broad and flexible enough to be employed across the corps front. If two or more of the situation packages or objectives are so drastically different that one package will not suffice, two or more weapons packages options may be included within the emerging plan.

If EAC preclusion constraints in one of the situations identified above would prevent the use of nuclear weapons, the G2, G3, and FSCOORD must decide if the situation should be reported to the corps commander. If the corps commander agrees and thinks it is necessary, he may elect to identify the situation to the EAC commander and request that the constraint(s) be modified. He should point out the projected detrimental effect on friendly forces if the constraints are not modified.

Briefings. The G3, with the advice of the G2 and FSCOORD, selects the best course of action. The staff then briefs the corps commander. They report the results of their efforts, focusing specifically on the selected course of action. In their briefing, the G3 and FSCOORD include the results of the preliminary nuclear analysis that affects the selected course of action.

Subsequently, the nuclear staff group joins the G2, G3, and FSCOORD and briefs the corps commander on the results of the package development effort. This briefing summarizes the results of the analysis of other courses of action from a nuclear perspective. It includes the nuclear weapons requirements for each course of action throughout the corps area of interest and, most importantly, the package(s) that will enable the corps to meet each of these requirements. Also at this time, the nuclear staff group informs the commander of any constraints established at EAC that, if not modified, would prevent the most effective employment of a nuclear weapon(s).

The corps commander tentatively approves the package and issues his nuclear employment concept to amplify his intent. He explains his decision and states any changes to be made or additional situations to be considered.

The supporting nuclear staff group modifies the package as required on the basis of the corps commander's intent and guidance just received.

Coordination. Coordinate with subordinate divisions.

The G3 plans nuclear employment officer, with input from the G2 plans officer and the target analyst, writes the nuclear planning guidance that goes in the nuclear support plan that is part of the corps OPLAN. This nuclear planning guidance should include the following:

  • Corps commander's concept for employment of nuclear weapons.

  • Nuclear-related planning assumptions.

  • Obstacle and civilian population and/or structure preclusion information.

  • Type and yield of weapons potentially available for use.

  • Largest-yield weapon as compared to the preclusion overlay.

  • IPB situation and event templates, nuclear sector overlay, and nuclear employment matrix (discussed above).

Division Actions. The division staff should follow the procedures listed above in conducting the nuclear analysis. Specifically, they should--

  • Validate the portion of the corps nuclear analysis that falls within the division area of interest.

  • Conduct a detailed nuclear analysis of the division area of operations. This includes developing their own more refined IPB situation and event templates and nuclear employment matrix.

  • Compare the results of the analysis with the corps-developed package(s). Recommended changes necessary to meet certain situations or to increase flexibility are noted.

  • Brief the division commander on the results of the nuclear analysis, and get his approval.

  • Give the results of the nuclear analysis, along with recommended changes, to the corps nuclear support planning staff.

Corps Actions. The corps nuclear support staff consolidate the results of the division detailed analysis, eliminate duplications, and make any necessary changes to the corps package(s). Working with the NWLE, they develop delivery unit prescribed nuclear loads and detailed nuclear logistical deployment and support plans to support the package. They--

  • Brief the corps commander, and get his approval. The briefing should include a review of the following:

      º Nuclear package employment assumptions.

      º Courses of action that require nuclear weapons.

      º Contents of package(s).

      º Deployment and logistical support plan.

  • Forward the package to the EAC for approval. Continue to track the action through the approval process.

  • Review and update the package as follows:

      º As new information becomes available.

      º When new requirements are developed by EAC.

      º At least annually.

Transition to War Planning

The current state of peacetime planning must be determined - what has been done so far.

The division receives the wartime mission from corps. Contained in that order are nuclear planning guidance and an initial weapons planning allocation. Actions at division are as follows.

  • Extract pertinent information.

  • Gather and quickly review nuclear references.

  • If not stated, ascertain which package and subpackage provide the best framework for conducting initial planning.

  • Update IPB and limiting requirements. Adjust aimpoints as necessary.

  • Ascertain threat to nuclear weapons fixed storage sites. Report assessment to corps. Review nuclear weapons deployment plans.

  • Conduct nuclear vulnerability analysis for division units based on updated Threat information available. Repeat as new Threat information becomes available. Give results to division commander, via G3, for decision and subsequent transmittal to subordinate brigades.

  • Participate in war-gaming process. Modify existing subpackages as necessary.

  • Analyze new courses of action for use of nuclear weapons as they are developed.

  • Complete the initial nuclear planning within the nuclear planning guidance issued by corps.

  • Forward the results of initial nuclear planning and any nuclear planning done as a result of the war gaming discussed above that may be relevant to corps. (For example, planning might be outside the realm of current corps guidance, in line with a different subpackage, or completely new.)

  • Ensure current nuclear weapons configuration in PNL or prescribed nuclear stocks (PNSs) and corps nuclear ammunition supply points (NASPs) adequately supports the potential uses identified above.

  • Monitor nuclear weapons deployment.

  • Report lost, damaged, or destroyed weapons to corps NWLE via the corps FS cell; and request replacement.

Battle Focus and Refinement

This is now the middle of war. Tactical nuclear use has not occurred. Looking out 72 to 96 hours, corps has determined that use of nuclear weapons will be required. Corps submits a request to EAC. In a new nuclear planning guidance message, corps instructs division to conduct detailed planning; planning is continuous.

Division extracts the corps nuclear planning guidance from orders and the latest messages. Included are specific guidance in line with an existing nuclear package and a specific weapons allocation in line with a recent request message.

More war gaming is done between the division G2, G3, and FSCOORD.

High-value targets are identified. Specific TAIs and NAIs are identified. Potential high-priority targets (HPTs) for nuclear weapons are identified.

Decision points are locked in.

Nuclear targeting tasks are included in targeting and intelligence-collection tasks to the collection manager for tasking of sensors.

Organic sensors are tasked. Requests for other sensors are forwarded to corps and on to EAC if necessary. This includes collection for decision making at decision points, targeting within TAIs, and posts trike analysis requirements.

A new contingency has just arisen for which the G2, G3, and FSCOORD have developed a new course of action that may involve nuclear weapons. This requires the creation of a new subpackage that does not fit the scope of the current request or any existing package well. The subpackage is created and forwarded to corps for consideration.

Package Refinement

The corps package is refined. The following actions are now taken within the subpackage:

  • Confirm decision points.

  • Determine delivery units.

  • Confirm FLOT locations.

  • Confirm preclusion data.

  • Process sensor information.

  • Identify HVT locations.

  • Receive release.

  • Adjust aimpoints.

  • Report FLOT and aimpoint locations to corps for deconfliction.

  • Coordinate aimpoint locations with conventional fire support and maneuver actions.

  • Receive authority to expend nuclear weapons.

  • Prepare nuclear warning (STRIKWARN) messages IAW STANAG 2104/QSTAG 189.

  • Analyze probable Threat response. Reanalyze friendly nuclear vulnerability, and recommend changes to unit posture if necessary.

  • Execute strike.

  • Report nuclear detonation in accordance with STANAG 2103/QSTAG 187.

  • Submit expenditure reports through charnels IAW SOP.

  • Make poststrike reconnaissance and analysis.

  • Evaluate results of poststrike analysis. Determine if restrike is necessary and, if so, if it is permitted.

Follow-On Strike

The situation has shifted, and EAC has directed corps to prepare for first follow-on use immediately. Division has recommended to corps that certain of the nuclear targets in the first strike be restruck in this next use. Also, this next use will be in an adjacent division in an adjacent corps. The situation will require the transfer of weapons to this adjacent allied corps, corps-to-corps nuclear support, and restrike of the division targets.

Nuclear Logistical Support Principles

To deliver the nuclear package(s) on the enemy, nuclear ammunition must be positioned properly on the battlefield. Therefore, some nuclear ammunition usually is carried by delivery units, and some is carried by other combat support units.

Nuclear ammunition that is designated for and carried by a delivery unit is called the prescribed nuclear load.

Nuclear ammunition that is designated for a delivery unit but carried by a combat support unit is called prescribed nuclear stocks.

A unit PNL or PNS may be changed at any time by the corps or division commander. When determining or changing a unit PNL or PNS, the following should be considered:

  • Unit mission.

  • Requirements for numbers of weapons in current and future packages.

  • Availability, survivability, and security of both nuclear weapons and their associated delivery systems and/or units.

  • The carrying capacity of the unit.

When planning overall nuclear logistical support, the following should be considered:

  • Capability to concentrate nuclear fire in any sector of the corps area quickly.

  • Minimum handling and movement of nuclear weapons.

  • Simplicity and uniformity in procedures.

  • Survivability of weapons.

  • Security of classified or critical material, installations, and communications.

Nuclear Weapons Resupply

One area requiring specific or additional planning effort when nuclear weapons may be used is nuclear weapons resupply.

The nuclear weapons logistical support structure may vary according to the unique requirements of a specific theater, but it must provide timely and reliable support in the six areas outlined below. The methods of implementation, however, will require flexibility and innovation in response to short reaction times and changing combat conditions. Support must do the following:

  • Ensure operational readiness. Maintain the capability to provide nuclear weapons support to appropriate units as required to support planning and execution.

  • Move smoothly from peacetime storage to deployment locations to support nuclear delivery units as required.

  • Provide continuous nuclear weapons support. This support includes, but is not limited to, resupply and maintenance (and in some cases transportation support) to move weapons forward or laterally for redistribution.

  • Ensure timely delivery of complete rounds. Coordinate with firing units to deliver nuclear rounds (warhead section, fuze, powder, or missile body) as required.

  • Support US allies as required. Maintain US custody of nuclear weapons until proper release is directed. In addition, provide weapon support such as supply and maintenance.

  • Be survivable. Nuclear weapons storage areas will be prime intelligence targets. Good operational security techniques/must be practiced. Dispersal, in fact, may be the key to survivability. Also, a deception plan must be written and executed at each level of command.

Nuclear-capable units joining a mature theater must get the supporting special weapons brigade SOP and the communications security (COMSEC) materiel required to authenticate nuclear control orders. In an immature theater, nuclear ammunition is moved into the theater by USAF or US Navy assets. Once in the theater, ammunition can still be moved into the corps by either USAF or Navy assets. At this point, US Army ordnance units secure and move the ammunition before it is issued to using units.

Nuclear weapons resupply is coordinated in the corps by the nuclear weapons logistics element (see FM 9-6 and FM 9-84). The special ammunition ordnance brigade is a major subordinate command of the theater army. It is responsible for providing the corps commander service and sustaining support for Army nuclear weapons and high-cost, low-density missiles. This support includes supply, accountability, surveillance, and maintenance of the items from entry into the theater until expenditure or retirement. The brigade also provides security until the nuclear ammunition is issued to the firing unit. The brigade commander normally serves as the theater army logistic system manager for nuclear ammunition. Special ammunition ordnance battalions are assigned to the ammunition ordnance brigade. The battalion provides a corps with nuclear ammunition supply and maintenance services. Normally, the battalion forms mobile NASPs and a weapons holding area (WHA). The NASPs, located in the corps area usually contain the nuclear weapons designated for the supported corps. The WHA, located in the communications zone (COMMZ), contains the theater reserves. An NWLE is at the corps tactical CP to coordinate nuclear logistic support for the corps. The corps NWLE coordinates the distribution and reallocation of weapons between the NASPs and the delivery units as directed by the corps FSCOORD.

The NWLE officer is the key to effective nuclear logistical support within the corps. He can best perform his duties if he is located in the FS cell. He provides expertise on movement and resupply capabilities and requirements to the FSCOORD. The DFSCOORD's, target analyst's, and NWLE officer's combined knowledge of nuclear weapons release procedures, deployment plans, movement and resupply capabilities and requirements, weapons effects, analysis techniques, and existing packages form the technical base of expertise within the corps FS cell for the employment of nuclear weapons. The NWLE officer is specifically responsible for--

  • Maintaining the current status on all nuclear weapons within the corps. Reporting changes in status to the NWLE at EAC.

  • Recommending positioning of the NASPs supporting the corps to ensure weapon survivability, permit flexible response, and best support corps delivery units.

  • Anticipating logistical requirements.

  • Advising the FSCOORD and corps commander on nuclear logistical matters.

  • Coordinating ground or air transportation for the movement of nuclear weapons within the corps or between the NASPs and delivery units.

  • Coordinating for the delivery of new warheads and evacuation of unserviceable warheads through an airhead or seaport located in the corps area.

  • Coordinating the movement of warheads between ordnance battalions or delivery units outside the corps. This may involve the transfer of warheads to allied units.

  • Coordinating permissive action link (PAL) teams.

  • Submitting nuclear accident incident response and assistance (NAIRA) reports to EAC.


References pertaining to nuclear operations are as follows:

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