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The fire support system is made up of three distinct components that function together to give the commander the fire support he needs to accomplish his mission. These three components are as follows:

  • Command, control, and communications (C3) systems, facilities, and personnel required to manage fire support and to direct those tactical and technical/ actions needed to attack targets quickly and effectively.

  • Target acquisition systems needed to acquire targets by reconnaissance, surveillance, and devices. These systems include many individuals, units, and resources on the battlefield that help detect the to enemy.

  • Weapons and ammunition to deliver the firepower on the target according to the commander's battle plan.

The key to effective fire support is the force commander's ability to bring these assets to bear on the enemy in an integrated and coordinated manner that is synchronized with the scheme of maneuver. These components are the tools that enable the commander to make fire support work. How he uses these tools depends on how well his fire support commanders and staff officers understand and operate the fire support coordination process. This process must occur at all echelons of command, but it is more complex at the corps and division levels. AirLand Battle doctrine has a major impact on fire support at these levels, where fire support must simultaneously be planned and executed for the deep, close, and rear operations.

This chapter provides the foundation for understanding the use of all of the fire support tools and the duties and responsibilities of the many fire support operators. This chapter serves as a transition from FM 6-20 in that it is a recapitulation of the principles of the fire support system. This is a necessary redundancy because the components of the fire support system must form a base from which the reader can proceed to the later chapters covering the planning and execution processes.

Each component of the fire support system is addressed in a separate section of this chapter. Component characteristics, requirements, and capabilities are described and examined in detail. Other references supporting the material in this chapter are listed in the References portion of this publication.

"If the band played a piece first with the piccolo, then with the brass horn, then with the clarinet, and then with the trumpet, there would be a hell of a lot of noise but no music. To get harmony in music, each instrument must support the others. To get harmony in battle, each weapon must support the others. Team play wins."

- General Patton

Fire Support Organizations

Command Responsibility

The force commander is responsible for integrating fire support within the concept of the operation. At corps and division, as in other echelons of command, the commander has a fire support staff that works with his coordinating staff to help him discharge his responsibility for fire support. Fire support cells (FS cells) are organized to facilitate the coordination and execution of the fire support system. The functions of the FS cells are supervised by the force artillery commander, who acts as the fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) for the force commander. Normally, the FSCOORD operates through the FSE that is a part of the main command post (CP) fire support cell.

Fire Support Cell Functions

The FS cell is a central clearing house for planning, coordinating, and synchronizing fire support for the corps and division. The exact way it is organized varies among corps and divisions, Organization depends on the unit missions, availability of fire support assets, and command preferences. The actual makeup of the FS cell is flexible. However, it ensures that all fire support assets respond to the force commander's intent. (Appendix A, Section I, gives the details of corps and division organizations.)

Fire Support Cell Staff

The FSE staff personnel are from force artillery headquarters; however, the FS cell is not a field artillery organization. The field artillery is but one of several fire support capabilities represented in the FS cell. The following agencies normally operate as part of the FS cell:

  • Field artillery (FSE) 1.

  • Tactical air support (tactical air control party [TACP])1.

  • Army aviation (avn)1.

  • Air defense (AD)1.

  • Electronic warfare (EW).

  • Naval fire support (naval gunfire liaison officer [NGLO])1,2.

  • G3 air1.

  • G23.

  • Engineer (engr).

  • Air support operations center (ASOC)2.

  • Nuclear and chemical (NC) support.

  • Army airspace command and control (A2C2).

Field Artillery


The mission of field artillery is to destroy, neutralize, or suppress the enemy by cannon, rocket, and missile fire and to help integrate all fire support into combined arms operations.


The field artillery system provides close support to maneuver forces, counterfire, and interdiction as required. These fires neutralize, canalize, or destroy enemy attack formations or defenses; obscure the enemy's vision or otherwise inhibit his ability to acquire and attack friendly targets; and destroy targets deep in the enemy rear with long-range rocket or missile fires. Field artillery support can range from conventional fires in a company zone to massive nuclear and chemical fires across a corps front.

Command and Control

Clearly defined, systematic, and positive command and control (C2) ensures that the field artillery contributes to the fire support system in a responsive manner and that it is adequate to support the mission, Command and control relationships are established through command relationships (that is, organic, assigned, attached, or operational control [OPCON]) and assignment of tactical missions (that is, direct support, reinforcing, general support reinforcing, or general support).

Fire Support Integration

Field artillery has the dual mission of integrating all fire support available to the force commander and providing field artillery fires, For this reason the corps and division artillery headquarters and headquarters batteries (HHBs) are organized and equipped to field full-time FSEs for the corps and division CPs. Each corps and division CP usually is divided into a tactical CP, a main CP, and a rear CP, FSEs operate at the tactical CP and at the main CP, as part of the FS cell, simultaneously and continuously.

The FSE consists of field artillerymen who are specialists in working all of the operations phases of the three components of the fire support system. They also ensure the functioning of each component as it relates to the field artillery system. When the FSE deploys to the corps or division main CP, it forms the hub of the FS cell.

Tactical Air Support

Air Support Operations Center

The ASOC plans, coordinates, and directs close air support and tactical air reconnaissance operating in the supported ground commander's area of responsibility. It provides tactical air representation to the corps. It is an operational component of the tactical air control system (TACS), which is tasked to coordinate and direct tactical air support operations. The ASOC is under the operational control of the tactical air control center (TACC) or the allied tactical operations center (ATOC) in NATO. Its primary function is to provide fast reaction to satisfy immediate requests from ground forces for close air support (CAS) and tactical air reconnaissance (TAR). It also helps in planning for battlefield air interdiction (BAI). The ASOC may be at the division level when the division operates as a separate unit.

Requests for tactical air assets to support the maneuver commander's concept of operations are coordinated at the FS cell with the ASOC and are transmitted through Army command channels to the TACC. The air component commander (ACC), through the TACC or theater equivalent, allocates resources to the corps through the ASOC on the basis of guidance provided by the joint force commander (JFC). Normally, the TACC retains operational control of air interdiction (AI) and TAR assets. The employment of AX forces against targets which are expected to have a near-term effect on the maneuver commander's battlefield is known as battlefield air interdiction. BAI and TAR are coordinated with the ASOC in as near real time as possible. Mission, threat, and targeting information available at the FS cell must be coordinated through the ASOC with the TACC.

The TACC transfers control of CAS assets to the ASOC for employment. The ASOC is responsible for establishing and maintaining the TACS at command levels below the land component commander (LCC). This is done through TACPs assigned at corps, division, brigade, and battalion levels. Allocated CAS assets are distributed to subordinate Army units on the basis of priorities established by the G3. Normally, the ASOC is established at corps level; however, its functions must be provided at any command level if an independent maneuver unit is provided tactical air support.

Air Liaison 0fficer

The ASOC is supervised by the air liaison officer (ALO), who serves as the primary advisor to the force commander on all Air Force matters. Although the manning of the ASOC may vary, depending on the operational requirement, the ASOC will always be prepared to work on a 24-hour basis. It has a jump capability to ensure continuous operation. Representation from the ASOC forms an essential part of the FS cell at the corps main CP. In some cases, the entire ASOC may be situated within the FS cell; while in other corps, the ASOC proper is near the FS cell with the ALO or his assistant actually working with the FS cell.

Tactical Air Control Party

A TACP is provided to corps, division, brigade, and battalion. The TACP--

  • Provides advice to the Army commander.

  • Operates the Air Force air request net.

  • Provides a coordination interface with the respective FS cell.

  • Keeps the ASOC informed on division activities; at the corps level, supplements the ASOC manning and/or integrates into the corps staff in planning future operations.

  • Provides final attack control for CAS attacks.

At corps and division levels, the TACP includes an ALO, a fighter liaison officer (FLO), a tactical airlift liaison officer (TALO), and a reconnaissance liaison officer (RLO).

At maneuver brigade level, the TACP includes two ALOs and two tactical air command and control specialists (TACCSs). At maneuver battalion level, the TACP consists of one ALO and two TACCSs. The duties of these individuals are as follows:

  • The air liaison officer--

      º Is the Air Force commander's representative at battalion through corps levels.

      º Advises the respective maneuver commander and his staff on the capabilities, limitations, and employment of tactical air (TACAIR) - in particular CAS, BAI, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), reconnaissance, and airlift.

      º Ensures the TACP maintains communications on the Air Force air request net.

      º Helps plan the simultaneous employment of air and surface fires, to include input to the G3 (S3) air and FSCOORD for air support plans included in the fire support plan.

      º Provides direct liaison for local air defense measures and airspace management with the Army airspace command and control element.

  • The fighter liaison officer--

      º Is a member of the FS cell and A2C2 element.

      º Advises the G3 (S3) air and FSCOORD on the capabilities, limitations, and employment of resources allocated for CAS.

      º Helps in and advises on the development and evaluation of CAS and BAI requests to include the suitability of targets for attack by air resources.

      º Directs close air strikes (normally not at division or corps ).

  • The TALO is the Military Airlift Command (MAC) representative of the TACP. The TALO provides specific knowledge and expertise on the employment of tactical as well as strategic airlift in support of ground operations.

  • The reconnaissance liaison officer at corps supports Army requests for reconnaissance.

Army Aviation


Army aviation performs the fill spectrum of combat, combat support, and combat service support missions.


In support of the fire support mission area, Army aviation functions in the roles discussed below.

Dedicated Aerial Forward Observation. Target acquisition reconnaissance platoons and companies provide aerial observation or transport field artillery forward observers to vantage points that otherwise are impractical to reach. With their lasing capability, these units can provide terminal guidance information for various precision guided munitions.

Air Movement of Weapon Systems and/or Ammunition. Utility and cargo aircraft carry artillery to firing positions deep in enemy territory to achieve surprise. These aircraft also move weapons and ammunition to support widely dispersed field artillery units in support of close operations. They offer both speed of movement and flexibility of employment to the ground commander. Also, Army helicopters can move special munitions in support of field artillery operations.

Air Reconnaissance. Air reconnaissance units obtain and report near-real-time intelligence information that is used for fire support targeting.

Intelligence Electronic Warfare. Fixed- and rotary-wing special electronic mission aircraft (SEMA) serve as intelligence electronic warfare (IEW) platforms for acquiring targets for fire support assets. The SEMA helicopters provide airborne communications intercept, direction finding (DF), and jamming in support of division and armored cavalry regiment (ACR) IEW operations, Also, corps fixed-wing SEMA provide aerial reconnaissance, surveillance, communications intercept, and EW target acquisition in support of corps IEW operations.

Attack Helicopter Operations. The primary mission of attack helicopter units is to destroy armor and mechanized forces. Attack helicopters are employed in combined arms operations to maximize their weapons and aircraft capabilities in accomplishing the commander's antiarmor missions. They are well suited for situations in which rapid reaction time is important or where terrain restricts ground forces. On the basis of the commander's risk-versus-payoff assessment, attack helicopter units may be tasked to provide fire support when no other fire support elements or assets are available (for example, in deep operations or while operating with ground maneuver forces in a low-intensity conflict environment out of range of friendly artillery). When tailored for this mission attack helicopters lose their antiarmor systems to provide aerial rocket fire. Although these aircraft can fire aerial rockets indirectly at extended ranges, the fires delivered are not accurate enough to warrant the large expenditure of ammunition required to perform this type of mission. To accurately employ aerial rockets, the aircraft, using running fire techniques, have to close with the enemy forces within ranges that make them vulnerable to a multitude of Threat air defense weapon systems. The loss of the antiarmor capability and the increased vulnerability dictate that attack helicopters be used in a dedicated fire support role only on rare occasions.

Aerial Mine Delivery. The Army is fielding an aerial mine delivery system. This system gives assault helicopter units the capability to lay hasty antitank and antipersonnel minefield. When integrated with the obstacle plan the fire support plan, and the ground commander's scheme of maneuver, this capability increases the effect of canalizing and defeating the Threat force.

Aeromedical Evacuation. Aeromedical units provide evacuation for wounded and injured personnel on a mission-by-mission basis.

Command and Control

The command and control of Army aviation elements rests with the unit commander to whom they are organic, OPCON, or attached. The force commander decides how aviation will be integrated into his overall battle plan and if and when aviation will be used in a fire support role. When the fires of aviation assets are integrated into the commander's scheme of maneuver, both supporting and supported elements must understand the commander's intent and purpose for the integration. Coordination between the ground force and the aviation units ensures that the commander's conditions are established and known by all concerned. These conditions describe the support aviation will provide; and they assign responsibilities concerning priority of fires, available munitions, liaison, communications requirements, positioning, and fire planning.

Delivery System Characteristics

Army aviation can quickly reach and move throughout the depth and breadth of the battlefield. This mobility and flexibility help the combined arms commander seize or retain the initiative. The types of fire support mission area discussed below.

Cargo and Utility. These aircraft used in the are categorized as aircraft have the primary mission of transporting soldiers, weapon systems, ammunition, and supplies throughout the battlefield. These units can conduct air assault or air movement operations. These aircraft allow the commander to influence the action by introducing combat power at critical times and crucial locations to defeat the enemy forces.

Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance. These aircraft serve as the eyes for the commander. They provide near-real-time intelligence and terminal guidance for a variety of weapon systems; for example, Hellfire and Copperhead.

Attack Helicopters. These aircraft are equipped with a considerable array of accurate and lethal weapons. They can deliver pinpoint destruction by firing antiarmor missiles or suppressive area fires with rockets and cannons.

C2 for Joint Air Attack Team Operations

Upon receipt of a joint air attack team (JAAT) mission, the aviation commander assumes responsibility for the coordination and execution of the JAAT operations. He should be keenly aware of the ground and air tactical plan.

Air Defense

A representative of the corps and division air defense coordinator (ADCOORD) usually is in the FS cell. He helps coordinate fire support for counterair operations, This includes selection and prioritization of Army offensive counterair (OCA) and SEAD targets.

Electronic Warfare


The mission of electronic warfare is to exploit, disrupt, and deceive the enemy command and control system while protecting friendly use of communications and noncommunications systems.


Electronic warfare is an essential element of combat power. In addition to its intelligence-producing capability, it is considered a nonlethal attack means. As such, it is a key resource to be integrated and synchronized with fire support assets in support of the battle plan. It can, when integrated into the overall concept of operation, confuse, deceive, delay, disorganize, and locate the enemy. It can delay the enemy long enough for the force commander to exploit a situation that otherwise would have been missed. Jamming, in particular, provides a nonlethal alternative or supplement to attack by fire and maneuver. It is especially well suited for targets that cannot be located with targeting accuracy or that require only temporary disruption. Electronic warfare has two facets, offensive and defensive.

Offensive Electronic warfare. Offensive EW is the employment of assets to disrupt or deny the enemy's effective use of his electronic systems. It consists of electronic support measures (ESM) and electronic countermeasures (ECM). Generally, ESM produce combat information that can be used for attack by ECM, fire, or maneuver with little systematic analysis or processing. The ECM consist of jamming and deception. One function of jamming is to degrade the enemy's combat power by denying effective operations in the electromagnetic spectrum. Another function of jamming is to reduce the signal security of enemy operators and thereby gain information through ESM. Jamming may be subtle and difficult to detect, or it may be overt and obvious. It can be done from both aerial and ground platforms. Electronic deception is used to deceive enemy forces through their own electronic systems. It provides false information to the enemy through electronic devices to induce him to act in accordance with the supported battlefield commander's desires. It is integrated with, extends, and reinforces tactical deception operations.

Defensive Electronic Warfare, Defensive EW consists of those actions taken to ensure friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

NOTE: Although all these components of EW are of significant interest to the fire support system, the intent of this discussion is to focus on electronic countermeasures as an attack means. See FM 34-1 and FM 34-40 for more detailed information.

Command and Control

Electronic warfare assets are in military intelligence (MI) units at all levels and in other services. The electronic warfare section (EWS) is the staff element at corps and division that coordinates the employment of ECM. The EWS falls under the staff supervision of the G3. The G3, in coordination with the G2 and the MI brigade or battalion, is responsible for the integration of ECM into the fire and maneuver scheme. The EWS controls jamming directed at high-payoff targets and targets of opportunity while minimizing jamming effects on friendly systems and operations. The EWS, the FS cell, and the G3 section operate together to plan the attack of high-payoff targets to support the commander's battle plan. The use of ECM should always be considered when deciding to attack a particular target. More importantly, the synchronized, simultaneous use of ECM and lethal attack means requires the EWS to maintain a close, continuing working relationship with the FS cell. The best means of ensuring a close working relationship between the EWS and the FS cell is to collocate them.

Jamming Characteristics

The ECM system consists primarily of jamming. This jamming can be divided into communications and noncommunications jamming.

Communications Jamming. Communications jamming interferes with enemy communications systems. It may be applied to secure communications systems to force the enemy to transmit in the clear so that the communications can be exploited for combat information. Jamming can also aid in direction finding. It forces the enemy to transmit longer, allowing time for tip-off and multiple locator cueing from different locations for position determination. Radiation jamming against communications equipment is done by use of spot, sweep, or barrage jamming.

Noncommunications Jamming. Noncommunications jamming consists primarily of reradiation jamming. It is directed against such electronic devices as radars, navigational aids, guidance systems, and proximity fuzes to disrupt them. It causes those systems to receive false information and targets, thereby degrading system effectiveness. Reradiation jamming is done by the use of special equipment to receive enemy transmissions, change them in some way, and retransmit the signal back to the enemy.

Effectiveness. Jamming effectiveness is governed primarily by the distance of the target receiver from the jammer and the distance between the transmitter and the receiver of the targeted enemy communications. Jammers are high-priority targets for destruction. Because of their high-power output and unique electronic signature, they are relatively easy to detect and locate. Jammers have to move for survivability and to maintain favorable transmission paths against enemy radios, which are moving as the battle progresses.

Naval Fire Support


When naval fire support is available and the general tactical situation permits its use, naval firepower can provide large volumes of devastating, immediately available, and instantly responsive fire support to combat forces operating near coastal waters. These fires may be in support of amphibious operations within range of naval aircraft and gunfire, but they also may be made available to support land operations.


The general mission of naval fire support is to support maneuver force operations by destroying, neutralizing, or suppressing enemy targets that oppose our forces. Naval fire support may be provided by naval gunfire and naval air power. Usually, it is delivered in concert with supporting fires from other arms.

Naval Gunfire Ships

Naval gunfire ships are assigned one of two missions - direct support or general support. Relationships between assigned ships and supported ground force units are based on limited, delegated responsibility. For example, a ship placed in support provides the requested fire within its capability, but ship positioning and method of delivery are at the discretion of the ship captain. The supported ground force unit selects the targets, the timing of fires on the targets, and the adjustment of fires.

Direct Support. A ship in direct support (IX) of a specific troop unit delivers both planned and call fires. Call fires are to the ship what targets of opportunity are to artillery units. A naval gunfire spotter with the supported unit conducts and adjusts call fires. Call fires also may be adjusted by a naval gunfire air spotter. Members of the air and naval gunfire liaison company (ANGLICO) are specially trained in conducting naval gunfire. However, the procedures are simplified and standardized so that any trained supporting arms observer can effectively adjust the fire of a ship. Naval gunfire (NGF) DS is not the same as field artillery (FA) DS. A direct support ship will respond to calls for fire from units other than the supported unit when ordered to do so by the fire support group commander, the division naval gunfire officer, or the brigade NGLO.

General Support. General support (GS) missions are assigned to ships supporting units of brigade size or larger. The normal procedure is for the fires of the GS ship to be adjusted by an aerial observer or for the liaison officer (LO) to assign the fires of the ship to a battalion spotter for fire missions. In the latter case, on completion of the mission, the ship reverts to general support. Prearranged fires are delivered in accordance with a schedule of fires.


Mobility. Within the limits imposed by hydrographic conditions, the naval gunfire ship may be positioned for the best support of the ground force. The ability of the ship to maneuver is an important factor in planning for support of separated forces. It also allows selection of the most favorable gun-target (GT) line.

Ammunition Variety. The variety of projectiles, powder charges, and fuzes permits selection of optimum combinations for the attack of targets. Fuzes, for example, can be set to provide for air, surface, or subsurface detonation of rounds.

Muzzle Velocity. The high muzzle velocity and relatively flat trajectory of the naval gun make it suitable for direct fire or assault fire, particularly against materiel targets that must be penetrated or destroyed and that present a vertical face.

Rates of Fire. The large volume of fire that can be delivered in a relatively short time is a distinct advantage in delivering neutralization fires. For example, the 5-inch/54-caliber gun has a rate of fire of 35 rounds per minute at the maximum rate and 20 rounds per minute at the sustained rate.

Defection Pattern. The normal dispersion pattern is narrow in deflection and long in range. Very close supporting fire can be delivered when the GT line is parallel to the front line. This pattern also permits effective coverage of such targets as roads and runways when the GT line coincides with the long axis of the target.


Flat Trajectory. The relatively flat trajectory of naval gunfire results in a large range probable error. Therefore, the dispersion pattern of the naval gun is roughly elliptical, with the long axis in the direction of fire. Before selecting naval gunfire as the proper fire support means, the FSCOORD must consider the GT line and its relation to the forward line of own troops (FLOT).

Hydrography. The hydrographic conditions of the sea area in which the naval gunfire ship must operate may be unfavorable. It may cause undesirable firing positions or require firing at longer ranges.

Fixing of Ship Position. The accuracy of naval gunfire depends on the accuracy with which the position of the firing ship has been fixed. Navigational aids, prominent terrain features, or radar beacons emplaced on the shore may be used to compensate for this limitation.

Weather and Visibility. Bad weather and poor visibility make it difficult to determine the position of the ship by visual means and reduce the observer's opportunities for locating targets and adjusting fires. Bad weather also might force the ship out to sea.

Changing Gun-Target Line. If the ship is firing while under way, the line of fire in relation to the frontline may change. This could require cancellation of the fire mission, because the inherent large range probable errors may endanger friendly forces.

Communications. The sole means of between ship and shore is radio. Normally, several nets are established to control and coordinate the support. Radio communications can be interrupted by equipment limitations, enemy EW, and unfavorable atmospheric conditions.

Enemy Action. If the naval gunfire ship comes under enemy surface, subsurface, and/or air attack, the ship may cancel its fire mission with the ground forces and try to counter this threat.

Magazine Capacity. The shore bombardment allowance varies with the ship type (600 to 1,800 rounds). When the need arises, remaining rounds will be held for self-defense of the ship.

Naval Gunfire Support Personnel

The ANGLICO personnel are available to advise unit commanders from company through division levels on how to best use the naval air and gunfire support available to them. Liaison personnel can give unit commanders and FSCOORDs information on weapon ranges, ammunition effects, all-weather bombing capabilities, and landing zone requirements. For maximum effectiveness, ANGLICO support should begin during the planning phase of an operation. The ANGLICO task-organized teams should be attached to the units they will support as soon as possible. ANGLICO personnel at all levels, company through division are trained as NGF spotters and/or forward air controllers and can request and control missions for the units they support. So that they can move in the same manner as the unit they support, ANGLICO personnel are trained in parachuting, skiing, snowshoeing, and inflatable rubber boat operations.

Organization of the ANGLICO

The ANGLICO is composed of a company headquarters and a division air and naval gunfire liaison team, which includes three brigade air and naval gunfire platoons. Each platoon consists of a brigade air and naval gunfire liaison team, to be located at the brigade CP, and two supporting arms liaison teams (SALTS), which can be assigned to any two of the maneuver battalions in the brigade. Each SALT contains a liaison section to be located at the battalion CP, and two firepower control teams (FCTs), which can be assigned to any two companies in the battalion.

Division. At division level, the ANGLICO provides its commander, a Marine lieutenant colonel who functions as the naval gunfire officer (NGO) in the division main FS cell, and the deputy commander, a Marine major who functions as the naval aviation liaison officer (NALO) in the TACP.

Brigage. The brigade air and naval gunfire liaison team provides an air officer (a Marine major) and an NGLO to the brigade CP. Normally, they are located with the brigade FS cell.

Battalion and Company. Two battalions may be assigned SALTS. The SALT controls and coordinates naval firepower at the battalion FS cell and oversees two FCTs. The FCT conducts naval air and gunfire missions at company level.

Nuclear and Chemical Support

Nuclear and chemical weapons can support operations throughout the AirLand battlefield, but the targets and tactical considerations vary with each operation. These weapons can be used to support either offensive or defensive operations. Nuclear and chemical weapons enhance close operations by increasing the capability of combat forces to control the FLOT. In deep operations, nuclear and chemical weapons can be used to retain freedom of action for our own forces. However, use in rear operations should be viewed as the least likely application of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Command and Control

At the heart of nuclear and chemical weapons employment is command and control. Continuous positive control over these munitions is imperative; but at the same time, they must be responsive to the fire support requirements of the operational and tactical commanders. The corps is the focal point for tactical nuclear weapons employment.


The planning process is continuous and congruent. The focus of nuclear and chemical planning at any level is command guidance. Amplifying guidance, as well as changes and modifications to the original written command guidance, may be generated by the staffs and commanders when required by the evolving battlefield situation. Command guidance includes the following:

  • Intent of nuclear and chemical weapons use. This includes specific guidance concerning type of casualties desired, amount and duration of contamination, desired coverage percentage, and degree of assurance required.

  • Synchronization with other attack means and the scheme of maneuver.

  • Target priorities.

  • Acquisition of enemy targets.

  • Nuclear and chemical weapons employment limitations and preclusions.

  • Impact on future friendly operations.

  • Decision points.

  • Contingency plans.

  • Coordination with adjacent, supporting, and affected units.

  • Delivery unit and weapon system status.

  • Availability and location of munitions.

  • Response time for execution.

  • Strike warning to friendly units.

  • Civil affairs.

  • Damage assessment.

Nuclear Weapons Employment Considerations

When authority is granted, the long range and flexibility of nuclear fires make it possible to shift the focus and concentration rapidly over wide ranges. The commander can use nuclear weapons to support his scheme of maneuver; to mass fires rapidly without shifting maneuver forces; and to delay, disrupt, or destroy enemy forces in depth. Commanders can use nuclear fires to destroy, neutralize, or suppress surface targets including enemy weapons, formations, and facilities. Nuclear fires have the potential to be the principal means of destroying enemy forces. The scheme of maneuver will be synchronized to exploit the effects of the nuclear fires.

Tactics, techniques, and technical procedures are established for each type of delivery system. Artillery systems can be placed in a high state of readiness to expedite their delivery of nuclear munitions. Cannon artillery, because of range limitations, normally is employed close to the FLOT. The responsiveness of the cannon system depends on the type and configuration of warhead used and the location of the system in relation to the target. The responsiveness of missile systems is based on the status of warhead mating and location. The employment means selected for a mission is based on the factors of mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and time available (METT-T). However, nuclear fires normally are integrated with conventional fires and smart munitions as well as maneuver forces.

Nuclear-capable units are high-value targets. The enemy will use every means available to destroy them. To counter this, nuclear-capable units must deploy early and be dispersed throughout the battle area. Emphasis must be placed on deception, cover, concealment, security, and the prevention of targeting by the enemy. Increased reliance on a combination of dispersion, hardening, movement, and deception will also improve their survivability. Depth of positioning is a command decision. It must be based on the factors of METT-T and weighed against the associated risk. Artillery in the forward area is most vulnerable to detection and destruction; therefore, dispersion and concealment are critical. Nuclear assets must be survivable so that, when required, they are available to execute nuclear fire plans in a timely manner.

While nuclear weapons may be employed singly in certain situations, they normally are employed as part of a package. A package is defined as a discrete grouping of nuclear weapons by specific yields designed for employment in a specified area during a specified period of time and for a specific purpose. Packages may be designed to support strategic, operational, and tactical objectives; and they are planned as far in advance as possible to meet potential battlefield situations. A package is identified and treated as a single entity. A subpackage is planned and/or developed at the division and meets the same criteria as a corps package. The subpackage plan is forwarded to the corps for inclusion in the corps package. The number and type of weapons in a package vary depending on the level of command at which it is developed, the threat, the mission the terrain and population characteristics. For a further discussion of packaging, see Appendix B.

Chemical Weapons Employment Considerations

Missions. Chemical munitions give the commander additional weapons support. The tactical management of chemical ammunition is carried out by allocation of and authority to expend weapons and by prescribing a chemical ammunition load. The FSCOORD recommends to the commander the chemical ammunition allocations, the authority to expend, and the basic loads for those weapons under the commander's control.

Allocations. Allocation is the apportionment of specific numbers and types of complete ammunition rounds to a commander for a stated time period. It is a planning factor for use in the development of war plans. An allocation lets the subordinate commander develop plans based on the allocation of chemical ammunition. Additional authority is required for the actual dispersal of allocated weapons to locations desired by the commander to support his war plans. The expenditure of these weapons is not authorized until release by proper authority. Before receipt of Presidential release, only allocation of chemical ammunition will be made. When Presidential approval is received, the allocating commander may designate all or a portion of the allocation as an authority to expend.

Authority to Expend. A specific number of complete chemical ammunition rounds authorized for expenditure by a commander is termed "the authority to expend." Authority may be for a specific period of time, for a given phase of an operation, or for the accomplishment of a particular mission. When weapons allocation is changed to authority to expend, the number of weapons fired should be reduced only when absolutely necessary; and notification should be given as early as possible. Restrictions on the types of targets that may be attacked may be specified. Normally, they appear in the operation order or standing operating procedures (SOP). Any commander with an authority to expend may further subassign chemical ammunition to units under his control unless he is instructed otherwise. The authority to expend is related to physical possession of chemical ammunition. However, a commander could receive an authority to expend weapons to be delivered by aerial means, and the tactical Air Force would keep physical custody of the weapons. In accordance with Army doctrine, chemical weapons are authorized to commanders who require and can effectively employ them.

Control. The responsibility for planning, coordinating, and controlling chemical weapons remains at corps until after release has been approved and, most likely, through the first retaliation fires. The detailed planning and coordination are done at division. If our retaliation does not end chemical activities, authority to use chemical munitions can be given to division and brigade. If release is given to brigade, chemical fire planning becomes a coordinated effort with the S3 and FSCOORD playing the key roles. On the basis of guidance given by the division and brigade commanders, the brigade FS cell coordinates with the S2, S3, and chemical officer to select targets for engagement. Following approval by the brigade commander, appropriate nuclear strike warning (STRIKWARN) messages are disseminated to higher and lower maneuver headquarters, FA units, and FS cells.

Mission-Oriented Protective Posture Levels. Mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) levels provide a standardized method of specifying the degree of protection required from nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) threats as determined by the commander.

G3 Air

The G3 air is an integral part of the FS cell at both corps and division. He has staff responsibility for the implementation of the Army air-ground system (AAGS). The G3 air works closely with the ALO and aviation officer at division and with the ASOC at corps in processing air requests. The FSCOORD depends on the G3 air to add maneuver expertise to the FS cell by participating in the preparation and execution of all fire support plans and orders.


The all-source production centers (ASPCs) at both corps and division are closely integrated into the targeting process through the addition of fire support personnel. There is a need to establish direct links between the FS cell and the ASPC. Targeting guidance, established by the commander, should drive the intelligence tasking to support target production. The G2, the G3, and the FS cell must establish decision-making procedures to ensure that a proper balance exists between target production and intelligence production. The United States Air Force (USAF) weather teams at corps and division provide observation and forecasts of weather conditions across the battlefield and intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) products. Forecasts include upper air and cloud conditions which affect smart munitions.


The engineer is responsible for advising on the allocation and employment of engineer assets and the consolidation and support of obstacle plans. He has access and terrain analysis to engineer topographic support from engineer units which may be of value in fire support planning. The assistant division engineer (ADE) at division and the assistant corps engineer (ACE) at corps normally collocate with the G3. However, they work closely with the FSCOORD to ensure that all critical obstacles can be covered by fire. The engineer staff officer coordinates the planning of family of scatterable mines (FASCAM) employment (Appendix C). FASCAM is a limited resource that must be carefully controlled for maximum effectiveness, The FSCOORD ensures that field artillery units are positioned and munitions are available to execute missions.

Army Air-Ground System

Army liaison to the Air Force begins with the battlefield coordination element (BCE), which interprets the land battle situation for the TACC. The BCE focuses on planning and executing the interdiction (BAT) battle, while the CAS battle is executed at corps level through the ASOC. The BCE provides coordination channels for the exchange of intelligence and operational data between the Army and Air Force components. The BCE can provide full functional area interface with an Air Force, a Navy, or a Marine Corps TACC, either unilaterally or simultaneously, to effect the full synchronization of Army maneuver and Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps TACAIR. The BCE is organized in two divisions, as described below.

Operations Division

The primary duty of the BCE operations division is to synchronize Air Force execution of the interdiction targets requested by Army forces and to interpret the ground battle for the supporting Air Force. A fusion section validates BAI targets and provides battle damage assessment (BDA) to the Army. It also maintains a constant exchange of current enemy information with the Army, An operations section monitors the execution of the air tasking order (ATO) and updates BAI targeting data. Army air defense and airspace activities are coordinated with the TACC airspace control center (ACC).

Plans Division

The BCE plans division is responsible for integrating the ground battle planning with the TACC tactical air support planning process. The plans section coordinates Army-planned requests for tactical air support, including BAI, planned CAS, EW, and TAR. The product of this coordination is an air tasking order reflecting those TACAIR nominations from the Army that the air component commander can and will execute. The intelligence section coordinates with Army intelligence agencies to get reports and collection requirements. The airlift section coordinates Army airlift support requirements with the airlift control center (ALCC).

Ground Liaison Officer and Air Reconnaissance Liaison Officer

The Army further provides liaison representatives at each tactical fighter and airlift wing operations center supporting ground operations. Ground liaison officers (GLOs) and air reconnaissance liaison officers (ARLOs) provide Army expertise to Air Force wings and the Air Force reconnaissance squadron. GLOs and ARLOs brief pilots on the ground tactical situation and debrief pilots upon return from missions.

Operations Cell of the Rear Command Post


The division operations cell of the rear CP has a fire support officer (FSO) and two fire support sergeants to assist in planning for rear operations. They represent the FSCOORD and are responsible for rear area fire support planning and coordination. The FSO coordinates artillery positioning (when applicable) with the rear operations cell; establishes procedures for requesting fire support to include mortars, artillery, attack helicopters, and TACAIR; recommends fire support coordinating measures; and advises the rear operations cell in fire support matters. In heavy divisions, a variable format message entry device (VFMED) at the rear CP provides a digital link to the main FS cell and the division artillery (div arty) CP. All rear CP fire support personnel and equipment are provided by Reserve Component augmentation.

The rear operations (ops) net (FM) provides the primary communications link between the rear CP and the base or base clusters in the rear area. Most rear area units also have access to the division multichannel communications system (MCS) (or mobile subscriber equipment [MSE], when fielded). Since there is no dedicated fire support net for rear operations, the FSO must use the rear operations net or the MCS to plan and coordinate fires. Regardless of the means chosen, the FSO must ensure that all rear area units, to include the tactical combat force (TCF), are aware of the communications procedures (net, call signs, and so forth) to be used to plan, coordinate, and execute rear area fire support. Bases, base clusters, and response forces submit their fire support plans to the rear area FSO. He collates them and coordinates the composite rear area fire support plan with the main FS cell. Calls for fire from a rear element are made to the rear area FSO. He coordinates those requests within the operations cell and with other rear area elements and forwards the request to the main FS cell. The main FS cell determines the most suitable fire support asset available, initiates the request, and notifies the rear FSO of the decision and response.

The TCF designated to interdict and defeat level III threat forces normally includes supporting artillery. One net from the supporting artillery unit may be used as a rear area fire support net, thus improving responsiveness and reducing traffic on the rear operations net.


The corps operations cell of the rear CP has an FSE consisting of one FSO, one fire support sergeant, and a fire support specialist provided by Reserve Component augmentation. The corps rear CP FSE has no digital interface with the corps main FS cell. The primary communications link between bases, base clusters, rear area operations centers, and the operations cell of the rear CP is MCS. Similar to division, there is no dedicated fire support net for corps rear operations. If a fire support agency (such as an artillery or aviation unit) is designated to support rear operations, one of its nets can be used to plan, coordinate, and execute rear area fire support.

The FSO consolidates fire support plans from subordinate rear area operations centers (RAOCs), response forces, and the tactical combat force for integration into the overall corps rear fire support plan. The FSO establishes procedures for requesting fire support. In the absence of a designated rear area fire support agency, requests for fire are coordinated at the operations cell of the rear CP and forwarded to the main FS cell. (See Chapters 4 and 5 for further discussion.)

1 Is a part of the corps A2C2 element.

2 As required.

3 May not be physically located in this cell on a continuous basis. Provides input and/or information as required.

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