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Fire support for offensive operations can be described in terms of an offensive framework presented in FM 100-15. This framework shows corps and divisions using five complementary elements in fighting their offensive battles:

  • A main attack with supporting attacks as required.

  • Reserve operations in support of the attack.

  • Reconnaissance and security operations forward and to the flanks and rear of main and supporting attacks.

  • A continuous deep operation in vital parts of the zone of attack.

  • Rear area operations necessary to maintain offensive momentum.



The commander must provide responsive fire support (from available air, ground, and sea resources) that protects and ensures freedom of maneuver to forces in contact with the enemy in deep, close, and rear operations. Each of the five complementary elements of the offensive framework must be considered when determining fire support requirements.

Basic Tasks

Corps and division commanders normally ensure adequate fire support for offensive operations through a process of allocation and retention of specific fire support assets. The four basic tasks of fire support are as follows:

  • Support forces in contact.

  • Support all aspects of the battle plan.

  • Synchronize fire support.

  • Support and sustain fire support.

Support Forces in Contact

This task includes the allocation of weapon systems and sorties to subordinate elements, such as division and brigade, which actually engage the enemy. Supporting forces in contact usually means providing support for the close operation.

Support the Battle Plan

Supporting the battle plan means retaining fire support for any possible contingency. Fire support assets for rear operations and deep fires must be identified and marshaled for execution at the right time and place.

Synchronize Fire Support

The synchronization of fire support at corps and division is essentially a command function. The FSCOORD helps the commander integrate all fire support with the appropriate battlefield operating systems (BOSS). These systems include maneuver, command and control, fire support, air defense, intelligence, mobility and survivability, and combat service support.

Support and Sustain

Fire support for offensive operations must be sustained through all phases of an operation. It must survive through all phases of an operation without a degradation of availability.

Attack and Acquisition Systems

Specific fire support attack systems and acquisition systems are allocated through normal practices, such as field artillery organization for combat. Adequate fires are made available to meet the corps and division commanders' close support, counterfire, and interdiction requirements. Other fire support means, such as tactical air, naval gunfire (division and below), and nonlethal (EW) systems, are allocated if available and applicable to the needs of the force commander.

Nuclear Weapons

The allocation of nuclear weapons to support offensive operations is discussed in detail in FM 100-30. The table below summarizes the roles of nuclear weapons in offensive operations.


Roles of Fire Support in the Attack

Close Support

To satisfy the close support needs of the attacking corps and divisions, FSCOORDs consider the fires discussed below.

Preparatory Fires. These are fires that support penetrations of the main defensive belts. They are not necessarily scheduled preparations in the classic sense; rather they are intense, concentrated fires that support an opening for a penetration.

Blocking Fires. Blocking fires isolate the main effort and fix other forces in the main defensive belt for the supporting attacks. Use FASCAM if necessary; but be sure minefield locations have been coordinated with and approved by the division engineer and disseminated to all units.

Continuous Suppression. Continuous suppression of direct-fire weapon systems allows maneuver forces to close with the enemy and destroy him with organic direct fire.

Obscuration and Screening Fires. Obscuration and screening fires allow maneuver forces undetected movement.

SEAD Fires. SEAD is critical for all operations. CAS, BAI, and attack helicopter operations in support of combat operations require SEAD fires against the many antiaircraft systems that accompany the Threat's forward elements. Some of this SEAD is appropriate for nonlethal (EW) attack assets that jam air defense radar systems. A critical element in performing SEAD is locating enemy air defense weapons and facilities. Electronic warfare support measures and other target acquisition sources are used for this purpose. SEAD fires may be developed into a program of fires to support friendly air operations, to include CAS, BAI, JAAT operations, and support to air corridors. Smoke also may be used to hide friendly aircraft from ground observers. Airspace coordination areas and phase lines may be used to coordinate a SEAD effort.


Counterfire at corps and division must be aimed against specific enemy fire support functions. By using the IPB and/or TVA process and the decide-detect-deliver targeting methodology, we can determine, locate, and attack specific high-value functional targets such as C3 nodes, target acquisition systems, and key weapon systems. The destruction, neutralization and suppression of these targets yield high payoffs in the following areas:

  • Keep the enemy from disrupting our attack formations with a counterpreparation, thus ensuring our freedom of maneuver.

  • Prevent the enemy's ability to provide counterfire which would result in degraded friendly fire support.

  • Eliminate or reduce the enemy's capability to counterattack by shifting and massing fires

  • Conduct a counterair program directed against the enemy's use of attack helicopters.

Counterfire at corps and division levels need not be limited to field artillery. Artillery cannons, rockets, and missiles will provide the preponderance of counterfire. However, tactical air support, electronic warfare, Army aviation, and naval gunfire, if available, may be used to attack counterfire targets.


The use of interdiction to support the commander's concept of operation and scheme of maneuver must take into account the following:

  • Targeting efforts must focus on the enemy's capability to shift resources to defend or reinforce his positions.

  • Interdiction will be conducted primarily by the corps. However, the division may contribute interdiction fires, depending on the scale of the attack.

  • Interdiction attack assets may include field artillery rockets and missiles and Army aviation and Air Force assets performing air interdiction and battlefield air interdiction.


In offensive operations, fire support assets are allocated to weight the main attack. For field artillery, this is done by assigning a preponderance of decentralized tactical missions (direct support and reinforcing) to the main attacking force. The corps commander also can add weight to his main attacking division by attaching corps field artillery elements to the division or by providing reinforcing units to division artillery. Employment of field artillery brigades is discussed in detail in FM 6-20-2. By decentralizing field artillery units, corps and division commanders provide their subordinate maneuver commanders the support they need to gain and retain the initiative of the attack.

Tactical air support adds weight to the main attack when CAS sortie allocation is increased. A continuous flow of preplanned CAS sorties allows the main attack force to respond to contingencies that develop during the course of the division battle as well as retain the initiative.

Allocation of other fire support assets and resources must follow the same decentralized methodology. Based on the factors of METT-T and the commander's concept of the operation, these allocations give subordinate maneuver commanders flexibility and responsive fire support. Decentralized allocation gives the attacker the flexibility to exploit opportunities as they arise.

Positioning and Displacement

Positioning of field artillery assets is determined by the mission assigned to the subordinate field artillery battalions. Artillery retained under corps or div arty control with a mission of general support or general support reinforcing (GSR) is positioned by the commander of the respective force artillery. By positioning artillery in particular sectors and assigning zones of fire, the force artillery commander can lend weight to the main attack, provide additional adequate support, and facilitate future operations. In the offense, artillery is positioned well forward to exploit weapon ranges and to preclude untimely displacement when fires are needed the most.

Corps and division artillery units are positioned well forward in the forward brigade sectors. MLRS units in particular, with their inherent mobility, can be positioned well forward, nearer the FLOT. There they can engage targets that are beyond the range of cannon artillery. Good positions will be at a premium with units actively competing for them. While the field artillery commanders select positions, all positions must be coordinated through the FS cells in whose sectors the proposed positions are located. Ultimate approval rests with the maneuver commander concerned. Units in direct support of brigades and their reinforcing artillery normally have overall priority in positioning.

In the offense, units must conduct timely displacements. Fire support must be continuous and must not be outpaced by maneuver. Units that are positioned by corps artillery, and even by division artillery, are in real danger of being left behind unless repositioning is frequent and is synchronized to support the forward progress of maneuver elements.

Corps and division tactical CP operations cells must aggressively seek out the current forward line of troops. They must ensure rapid dissemination to brigade CPs of this vital information lest GS and GSR units be left behind. Survivability moves are less frequent in the offense. This is because moves are focused more on supporting the maneuver force and we have superiority in combat power in the offensive zone.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination

Fundamental to the success of any operation are proper ordering of priorities and an orderly and logical consideration of each factor affecting fire support. Thus, it is essential to the success of offensive operations conducted by corps and divisions to instruct commanders and staff planners on each of the fire support considerations. The fire support considerations of consequence at all echelons for the attack include the following:

  • General planning and coordination parameters.

  • Fire support planning, coordination, and tasks.

  • Targeting procedures.

  • Intelligence preparation of the battlefield.

  • Use of electronic warfare assets.

  • Weapon status during the attack.

General Parameters

At the main CPs of corps and division, most of the FS cell actions involve planning the deep battle, coordinating the future and current battles, and allocating resources for current and future battles to the subordinate units. Although these FS cells rarely request fire support for immediate engagement of targets, they must ensure that preplanned TACAIR requests are submitted during the planning process. The brigade and battalion FS cells are much more involved in the execution of the current battle, and most immediate TACAIR requests will be submitted at these levels. They fight within the parameters established by the higher headquarters and with the resources they have been allocated.

This is not meant to imply that brigade and battalion FS cells need not plan fires in advance of operations. They just don't plan as far into future battles as the cells at corps and division. In fact, the fire support principle of "use the lowest echelon capable of furnishing effective support," as explained in FM 6-20, must always be considered by fire planners. Fire support planning, coordination, and execution should be done at the lowest level possible with the fewest number of elements necessary to accomplish the mission. For example:

  • Division coordinated fire lines (CFLs) should be used sparingly and only to open up the division zone to fight the division deep battle. The division FS cell is often too far removed to emplace, cancel, and move CFLs for the close-in operation.

  • A corps artillery asset with a GSR mission to a division artillery makes positioning extremely difficult. A preferred method in the offense is to make that unit reinforcing with the necessary restrictions to facilitate future operations.

  • SEAD should be planned and fired by the unit using the air support. It is almost impossible to coordinate SEAD fired by divisional DS artillery for CAS flown in support of a brigade or task force operation. It is much easier to use the brigade fire support with division artillery augmenting as necessary.


Fire support coordinators develop a fire support plan that assists and complements the maneuver plan. The fire support plan provides fires in direct support of committed maneuver elements and in general support of the entire force. It also provides for fire support to the reserve when it is committed. When use of nuclear or chemical weapons has been authorized, the fire support plan assigns such weapons and fires to appropriate executing units.

In planning a preparation, consider the following factors:

  • Will the loss of surprise be significant?

  • Are there enough significant targets?

  • Are there enough fire support assets (weapons and ammunition) to support the preparation?

  • Can the enemy recover before the effects can be exploited?

  • Can you include flank or follow-on forces?

  • Can the effects of nuclear and chemical fires affect the scheme of maneuver?

Other types of planned fires may be substituted for a preparation. Aggressively applied series, groups, and programs of targets can be used to support each echelon of maneuver throughout the attack. These fires are continuously planned to suppress forces on flanks of the penetration, fix enemy forces away from the penetration, and prevent reinforcement by follow-on forces. These fires help block enemy movement of reserves, destroy his command and control facilities, neutralize his artillery, and prevent the of retreating elements.


For effective fire support coordination in combined operations, there must exchange of liaison personnel down escape be an to the lowest possible echelon along the common boundary. Personnel not only must be tactically and technically competent but, ideally, also should be proficient in language to facilitate rapid coordination. The fire support coordinators at all levels are responsible to ensure both fire support coordination and mutual assistance of fire support assets.


Targeting for the attack follows general procedures detailed in FM 6-20-10. The FS cell targeting decision process is shown in the illustration below. This example emphasizes the targeting methodology of decide-detect- deliver. The planning associated with a successful targeting effort requires close interaction between the commander, the intelligence and operations staffs, the fire support officers, and several combat support agencies.

Done properly, the decide function provides a clear picture of the priorities applicable to the tasking of target acquisition assets, the selection of an attack means, and the requirement for postattack assessment. Specifically, the decide function answers these questions:

  • What targets should be acquired and attacked?

  • Where will the targets likely be found?

  • What acquisition assets are best suited to locate the targets?

  • Which attack option applies - maneuver, fire support, electronic warfare, or a combination of these?

  • Is damage assessment required and/or possible?

The detect function is performed by target acquisition (TA) assets designated in the intelligence operations and fire support plans of the operation order. All TA assets must be considered and used if applicable.

Finally, the deliver portion takes place when and where the guidance provided during the decide function has determined.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

One requirement for a successful attack is a thorough IPB. Important for all tactical operations, IPB is clearly critical if we are to avoid being surprised by the enemy. IPB provides much of the information for the intelligence estimate, which in turn impacts on the target development process. IPB is a continuous, systematic effort to analyze the enemy, terrain, and weather we will be facing during the attack. IPB seeks to evaluate Threat capabilities and helps staff members predict enemy courses of action as we press on with our attack. IPB also seeks to provide the corps and division commander and staffs a window into the minds of the enemy commander and his staff. From this, we may anticipate the enemy's reaction to our attack as well as predict what his courses of action would be if our present operation fails.

The initial IPB effort produces doctrinal, situation, decision support, and electronic templates. Templates of terrain factors and weather conditions are initially based on climatological weather records. Templates are later based on current and forecast weather and terrain conditions as the battle continues.

Target value analysis is used to identify high-payoff targets that support the commander's concept. TVA produces a high-payoff target matrix and an attack guidance matrix. TVA is conducted by the plans cell and is closely tied to the IPB.

Electronic Preparation of the Battlefield

The all-source production section (ASPS) at corps and division CPs and the EWS perform the initial electronic preparation of the battlefield (EPB) in support of the G2's IPB effort for the attack. The initial EPB is passed to the MI unit technical control and analysis element (TCAE). This element expands the EPB and correlates it with technical data, to include call signs and frequencies. EPB also examines the association of specific emitters with identified enemy units. It checks the radio line-of-sight from these emitters to potential locations of friendly EW assets. The result of the EPB is the identification of targets that are important to the enemy's defensive operation and that can be degraded with available EW assets.

Weapons Status

The need for responsive fires is a driving force in the assignment of tactical missions to field artillery units of the entire force. Yet, individual units must displace from time to time. They must rearm, refuel, and maintain the weapons if they are to provide the support expected. This is particularly true of certain weapon systems, such as the MLRS or the semiautonomous howitzer improvement program (HIP) howitzer.

MLRS. The fire planner can ensure a reasonable response time upon which to base his fire plan by prescribing response posture options to the launchers. A detailed discussion of several options for the MLRS is in TC 6-60. To facilitate our main attack and the supporting attack operations, the fire planner should assign the hot status for MLRS units to ensure immediate response time for this system.

Sustainment for and continued fire support from MLRS can be facilitated by assigning some elements (launchers) a cold status when not needed for immediately responsive support. These two options, or statuses, may be described as follows:

  • All operational launchers are placed in the hot (go) status during surge conditions, such as a full attack scenario. Weapons so designated are expected to respond to a fire mission immediately. Launchers are in a position that eliminates or reduces the distance, if any, necessary to displace before firing. Crews are on board and fully alert. Estimated time of first round fired is 2 minutes.

  • A cold (no-go) status extends the fire mission execution time by 30 minutes. Operations officers must order an upgrade from cold to hot as soon as a hot system is processing a mission. This is to maintain continuity of hot systems.

HIP Howitzer. In the case of the semi-autonomous HIP howitzer, the unit may be directed to limit survivability moves during critical phases of the operation. This ensures the maximum number of howitzers are available for firing.


Effective command and control, as well as coordination, depends heavily upon commanders, staffs, and subordinate commanders exchanging battlefield information on a timely basis. Although wire-dependent communications assume a smaller role, the mobile subscriber equipment system helps offset this loss in capability. Radios provide the primary means of communication for fire support coordination.


The establishment of a common survey grid is a command responsibility within each unified command. It is essential for the effective massing of indirect-fire systems.

Survey planning begins with understanding the maneuver commander's intent and receiving the FSCOORD's guidance. During planning, full consideration must be given to the commander's concept, priorities, tactical situation, survey control available, desired accuracy, number of installations, and METT-T factors. This information can be translated into survey requirements for the target acquisition sensors and the designated attack systems, which must be on a common grid by the time required. Aggressive survey planning that answers who, where, when, why, and how is absolutely essential to ensure mission success.

Planning and coordination originate at the corps survey planning and coordination element (SPCE), which is directed by the corps survey planning and coordination officer (SPCO). The corps SPCE ensures synchronization between topographic engineers, division artilleries, and nondivisional units and/or systems requiring common control. Coordination and planning at the div arty SPCE are done by the division artillery survey officer assigned to the div arty HHB. The div arty survey plan is further coordinated at the battalion level with the battalion reconnaissance and survey officer (RSO). Interface among all echelons of command must be maintained to ensure that common survey control can be provided to units in support of maneuver commanders. Coordination and synchronization of the corps survey plan are essential to mission success.

Separate field artillery brigades also have SPCEs organic to their HHBs. They plan and coordinate the interface of their organic survey requirements with those of the corps or division SPCEs.


Current ballistic met data must be applied for accurate artillery fires, battlefield forecasts, radiological fallout predictions, and target acquisition. This information is in the form of met messages provided by the artillery met sections. Met sections are assigned to div arty, FA brigades, and FA battalions of separate brigades. It is the responsibility of the commanders (coordinating with the met officer and the S3 or G3) to position the met sections to best measure the atmosphere for support of all firing units involved.

Planning and use of the met section begins with the maneuver commander's intent, the FSCOORD's guidance, and the battlefield weather conditions. During the planning, full consideration must be given to the following:

  • Commander's concept.

  • Mission priorities (type of met data required).

  • Tactical situation and security.

  • Prevailing winds (determine met section location).

  • Location of units supported.

  • Location of other met sections.

  • Communications facilities.

Coordination and planning for met support begin at corps artillery with the corps ballistic meteorology manager (CBMM), the FSCOORDs, and the FSOs. The CBMM establishes liaison with all units involved and coordinates the met support requirements. The primary consideration is that the met station must be located where the sounding of the atmosphere will best represent the met needs of the supported units.

A typical corps artillery configuration may include two met sections positioned forward, where they can best sound the atmosphere through which most weapon trajectories will pass. They provide ballistic and target acquisition met data. Also, one section may be at the rear to provide upper air data for USAF weather teams. This information supports aviation missions, determination chemical warning areas, prediction radiological fallout areas, and preparation weather forecasts.



Contingencies for the use of reserves normally are a part of the corps or division plan. In the offense, a sizable reserve force exists. At the corps, the reserve may be a division; while at the division, the fixed figure for a reserve force should not be estimated, Reserves can--

  • Deal with enemy counterattacks.

  • Reinforce or maintain momentum.

  • Sustain the attack of committed units.

  • Deal with a level III rear area threat.

  • Provide security.

  • Complete the destruction of enemy forces.

  • Secure deep objectives.

  • Open the next phase of a campaign or major operation by seizing objectives beyond the defined area.


In organizing the artillery for combat and in allocating other fire support assets, the following must be considered:

  • A plan for the use of fire support organic to or habitually supporting the reserve force until it is committed.

  • Provision of adequate support to the force at the time of commitment.

  • Factors of METT-T.

  • Scheme of maneuver.

Missions of GS to the force, GSR to a div arty of a committed division, and DS to a brigade are ideal missions for artillery of a reserve force. Positioning and ammunition expenditures can be controlled by the force artillery that has overall responsibility for fire support. This helps the units make an easy transition to their on-order missions once their force is committed. The GS or GSR mission also permits the unit to continue fire planning for its on-order mission without being too involved in the current battle.

Once the reserve is committed, all on-order missions are executed. Depending on the mission of the committed reserve, normally more than the organic or habitually supporting fire support is provided. Augmenting fires are provided by--

  • Reinforcing artillery from corps assets or other div arty units now assuming a reserve mission.


  • Naval gunfire, when available.

  • Other agencies when used as fire support means.

Similarly, the targeting effort also focuses now on supporting the newly committed unit to ensure success.

Units assigned to counter level III rear security operations to threats or units that have follow-and-support missions are not considered in reserve. They require their own organic fire support or habitually supporting DS FA battalion. However, if only one brigade of a division has the rear area security mission, only that brigade needs its supporting DS FA battalion. Meanwhile, the other artillery battalions can be used to augment the fires of other committed units.

If the likelihood of commitment for the reserve force is immediate, the organic or habitually supporting artillery must be in position to support the force. Therefore, only limited support to committed elements may be provided by these units to ensure timely transition to their on-order missions.

Fire Support Considerations

Plan fires to support the commitment of the reserve during movement. Fires are planned--

  • On the destroy flanks to protect the force.

  • On the way to the objective.

  • On the objective to suppress, neutralize, or destroy targets.

  • Beyond the objective to prevent counterattacks, to help consolidate the objective, and to prevent reinforcement of the objective area.

  • On enemy elements that have been bypassed.

Plan deceptive fires to deceive the enemy into thinking the reserve is committed elsewhere. These may be massed fires and smoke delivered on forward enemy elements.

Plan mass fires at the breakthrough point or at the point of assault to create a hole in the enemy defenses. Plan heavy suppressive fires throughout the breakthrough area. Fires are continuous until maneuver closes.

Fire support coordinating measures such as CFLs must be well forward to ensure the force will not outrun them.

Plan to rearm, refit, and refuel organic and supporting fire support before assumption of the on-order missions.



Reconnaissance and security operations are characterized by smaller forces spread over large areas. Generally, these forces are needed during a movement to contact which consists of a covering force, an advance guard, and rear and flank security forces.

Reconnaissance Operations

Reconnaissance operations are used to gather information through either route, zone, or area reconnaissance. Fire support contributes to the reconnaissance efforts by using aerial and ground observers, sensors, and radars to gather combat information and intelligence.

Fire Support Tasks

Fire support tasks are as follows:

  • Orient on the location or movement of the reconnaissance objective.

  • Report all information quickly and accurately.

  • Help the force retain freedom of maneuver.

  • Provide deceptive fires.


Consider attaching FA assets to the reconnaissance force.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination

FA units must have mobility equal the supported force.

Main body FA units should be positioned to support reconnaissance elements if possible.

Fire plans should be executed only if surprise is lost. It is not normally the intent of the reconnaissance elements to become engaged with an enemy force.

Plan UAV and TAR missions to help gather combat information and to avoid physical contact with the enemy.

Security Operations

Covering Forces

These are self-contained forces, operating at extended distances from the main body. A covering force is expected to penetrate the enemy's security zone, locate forces in the main defensive belt, and limit the ability of the enemy's security forces to collect intelligence by stripping away his reconnaissance assets.

Fire Support Tasks. Covering force fire support tasks are:

  • Provide responsive fires to covering force elements. To penetrate the enemy's security elements without becoming engaged in a direct-fire maneuver battle, fire support must be immediately responsive.

  • Provide deceptive fires. Deception in covering force operations allows some freedom of maneuver in one area while the enemy's security elements react in another. This freedom of maneuver allows a penetration of security forces.

Allocation. Although the covering force is a self-contained force, it operates as a thin force over a relatively wide front. Normally, an armored cavalry regiment is tasked to be the covering force in a corps movement to contact; however, a division also may be tasked. In either case, the relative combat power of the corps covering force to the main defense of the enemy is unbalanced.

Fire support allocations to the covering force must make up for the combat power imbalance. For field artillery, this means extreme decentralization of assets. The corps should consider attaching FA brigade units to the covering force to provide enough FA of one DS battalion for each maneuver battalion-or squadron-size element. If possible, a mixture of calibers in the covering force (155 mm and 203 mm) helps to deceive the enemy as to the composition of the force. The mix of calibers, which may be achieved through cross-attachment, also maximizes the advantages of both weapon systems:

  • 155-mm weapons provide rapid response time and a mix of munitions.

  • 203-mm weapons provide a heavy punch and greater nuclear and chemical capabilities.

Other fire support allocations to the covering force may include CAS on ground or strip alert, EW, and UAV for reconnaissance and target location. Field artillery elements within the main body should be positioned so as to be responsive to covering force units when possible. This may be difficult for cannon units; but the MLRS, if positioned forward in the main body, can provide fires against enemy high-value targets in the main defensive belt. MLRS fires also provide a greater mixture of calibers responsive to the covering force.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. Plan for hasty attack and/or hasty defense. The covering force may encounter a formidable force with which it must become engaged. If possible, the covering force will attack. If a hasty attack is not possible, the covering force must prepare a hasty defense and plan a deliberate attack or allow the main body to pass through and attack.

Plan for a passage of lines by main body forces (see Chapter 6).

Plan nuclear and chemical fires to block enemy avenues of approach and to deny essential terrain to the enemy.

Plan UAV, AFSO, reconnaissance to help before physical contact.

Fire support coordinating and Air Force locate the enemy measures should be permissive and on-order but well in front of the rapidly moving covering force. (CFLs should be established in conjunction with phase lines [PLs].)

Positions for FA units are best planned and coordinated by FSCOORDs and their FSOs. Displacement will be frequent, and positions must be coordinated well in advance.

Fire plans should be simple yet as detailed as possible. Modification of fire plans must be expected throughout the covering force operation. Most fires will be fires against targets of opportunity.

Advance Guard and Flank Security Forces

These are normally furnished and controlled by the main body forces, while rear security forces normally operate under corps control. The advance guard must maintain contact with the covering force; and usually, it furnishes a liaison element to the covering force headquarters. The advance guard performs reconnaissance, conducts attacks, and delays or defends as necessary to give the main body time to react. Security forces (flank and rear) normally perform a screening mission because of the extensive distances covered by a moving corps.

Fire Support Tasks. Fire support tasks for guard and screening forces include the following:

  • Responsive fire support for the security forces. The limited numbers of maneuver units over a large area (especially for a screening force) require very responsive fire support.

  • Fires to prevent decisive engagement of security forces or to support decisive engagements when unavoidable.

  • Suppressive, screening (smoke), and illumination fires to allow freedom of movement.

  • Nuclear and chemical fires to block enemy approaches and deny terrain.

Allocation. As security forces operate at some distance from the main body, FA units may need to be attached to the supported force. Air support, to include CAS and tactical air reconnaissance, also must be allocated to security forces, as they may become engaged with a far superior force.

Main body FA elements should be positioned to support security forces whenever possible. This may require nonstandard tactical missions for the main body FA. For example, a main body FA battalion may be given a nonstandard tactical mission of DS with second priority for calls for fire to the security force headquarters.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. An FA force attached to a security force must be as mobile as the supported force. In a fast-moving corps movement to contact, over extended distances, mobile FA units are necessary to keep up with the maneuver force.

Positioning FA units is best done through close coordination between maneuver and FA headquarters. The FSCOORD (FSO) is in the best position at the maneuver CP to locate, plan, and coordinate subsequent position areas. Displacements are required often and must be coordinated well in advance.

Mixed calibers of FA weapons usually are not possible in guard and screening missions. However, main body FA can be made responsive to these security forces if the FA is positioned forward and to the flanks of the main force.

Tactical air reconnaissance and UAV missions may be used to help develop the situation. Other aerial sensor information from corps may be linked directly or indirectly to security elements.

If available, COLTS and/or AFSOs designate targets for laser-guided munitions. Engagement of command and control vehicles before the situation develops allows the supported force to gain and retain the initiative.



Normally, corps offensive operations focus on enemy units and support systems to the rear of the main defensive belt. Division deep operations normally focus on the main defensive belt second-echelon units and support. Fire support for deep operations may include the fires of field artillery, rockets, missiles, and air support; and lethal and nonlethal command, control, and communications countermeasures (C3CM).

Deep operations may include the attack of the following general target types (not all-inclusive):

Follow-on echelons of the enemy.

  • Independent tank regiments anti/or battalions.

  • Attack helicopter units.

  • C2 and fire direction nodes and facilities.

  • Air defense systems.

  • Nuclear delivery systems.


Adequate fire support attack means and acquisition sensors must be identified and alerted for a possible deep operations commitment. Field artillery ammunition and fuel must be provided at the critical time and place. Army aviation assets must be retained until the force commander decides to employ his deep option. The factors that should be considered when designating potential deep fire support assets are discussed below.

Field artillery units may require nonstandard tactical missions or modified command relationships. This involves the establishment of ammunition expenditure restrictions and positioning instructions for accompanying FA units aimed at conserving fuel.

Fire support assets committed to the close operation may be required to provide SEAD fires for tactical air and Army aviation assets engaged in deep operations.

Specific fire support coordinating measures must be implemented. Airspace coordination areas (ACAs) must be established in conjunction with air corridors. Restrictive fire lines (RFLs) may be used to delineate the fires of converging ground and air forces.

AFSOs may be used to facilitate fire support coordination and execution.

Deep Targeting Considerations

Usually, targeting for fires and nonlethal attack means is focused on planned engagements. A planned engagement entails some degree of prearrangement such as general target location, weapon system designation and positioning, and munition selection. Planned engagements may be scheduled for a particular time or may be keyed to a friendly or enemy event. Other planned engagements may be specified by target type and may be on call based on the characteristics of the target; for example, dwell time or high-payoff considerations. Unplanned engagements may be conducted, but they must satisfy the same relevancy criteria as those of the planned engagement.

The targeting effort is performed by the plans cell. FM 6-20-10 details the members and duties of this functional grouping (cell) for each echelon.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

IPB, collection operations and management, and intelligence production are the key functional processes underlying IEW contributions to the deep fires decide-detect- deliver methodology. The maneuver commander's most critical role at every echelon in deep fires is in the decide phase. The decisions made here guide those who plan and control subordinate actions. They provide the frame of reference necessary for appropriate focus and synchronization of the assets available to the commander.

Decide Phase

Specific IEW contributions to the decide phase include the following:

  • Situation development (ASPS of the corps CP support element).

  • Target development (ASPS of the corps CP support element).

  • Collection management (collection, management, and dissemination [CM&D] section of the corps CP support element).

Situation Development. Situation development includes the processing of all-source data to support battle management. It also includes developing and forwarding all-source reports and displays on the projected or current enemy situation. IPB provides a framework for situation development and guides mission planning, collection, and analysis.

Target Development. Target development is based on the commander's target selection and attack criteria. It includes the processing of all-source data to propose targets for nomination and the reporting of target damage assessment (TDA) (discussed in the deliver phase). Target development consists of the following functional procedures:

  • Developing criteria.

  • Processing immediate targets.

  • Developing and nominating targets.

  • Performing target damage assessment.

Members of the plans cell concentrate on locating high-value targets for consideration as high-payoff targets. High-payoff targets are then arranged in a high-payoff target matrix.

Collection Management. On the the basis of commander's intent, concept of operation, guidance on what targets should be acquired and/or attacked, and target selection standards, the G2 formulates his collection plan (where and when should targets be found and who can find them?). The collection plan is a dynamic tool used to coordinate and integrate the efforts of all collection units and agencies. Collection management is cyclic. It begins by processing information requirements (IR). These requirements may take many forms and are generated by many sources; for example, the commander's PIR and IR, targeting needs, tastings from higher echelons, and requests for information from subordinate and adjacent commands. In corps and division operations, most of these requirements are based on information needs associated with named areas of interest (NAIs) and target areas of interest (TAIs) developed through IPB. Once requirements are analyzed, the element must determine collection resource capability and availability. After availability is determined, units and agencies are selected and tasked to acquire and report information. During this process, all units and agencies are considered for tasking against every requirement. Capable assets are selected by a process of elimination. Collector and ASPS reports are then monitored throughout the collection process to ensure that intelligence and information are reported to the right user in a timely manner.

Target development, aided by the collection management process, is a cooperative effort between the G2, G3, and FSCOORD. The G2 identifies specific target sets associated with those critical Threat functions that could interfere with the friendly course of action. The G2's analysis of the ability of the corps or division to find relevant targets must be coupled with the FSCOORD's analysis of his ability to attack them. The FSCOORD determines availability of fire support assets and ammunition status. The commander then makes the final decision on relevant targets, attack means, and priorities for both acquisition and attack.

NOTE: For additional discussion, see FM 6-20-10. Additional coordination is made with echelons above corps and the Army BCE, located at the Air Force TACC. Thus, the necessary total AirLand Battle interface is provided.

Detect Phase

Sensors. IEW sensors are cued to provide specific information on the high-payoff targets selected for actual attack during the decide phase. This usually is done while the sensors are conducting their routine collection efforts. The sensors give the artillery system last-minute target updates just before launch.

Tactical Missile System. The tactical missile system (TACMS) requires that valid information on target locations be provided to the deep fires system no later than 30 minutes before launch in a centralized mode and in near real time in a decentralized mode. The information which must be provided by the IEW sensors during this time consists of the four items discussed below.

Target Description. Target descriptions provide short summaries of what the target is; for example, a battalion assembly area or a regimental CP.

Target Location. Target locations are given in UTM grid coordinates of at least six digits. Altitude is included if possible. Geographic coordinates to the nearest minute may be required in some circumstances; for example, for deep battle air support.

Target Location Error. Each sensor type has an associated target location error (TLE). Analysts must ensure that the TLE associated with the target description meets the guidelines established in the attack criteria.

Dwell Time. Dwell time, or how long a target is expected to be at a designated location, is required for critical targets. If a time cannot be determined, the SOP established by the fire support system will be used to execute a firing or jamming mission. Accurate dwell times preclude reacting to old data that normally would cause wasted expenditure of resources, including ammunition.

Confirmation. Because execution time will be constrained, confirming detections can be based upon single-source sensor data when at least three conditions exist:

  • The single-source sensor must be only confirming activity previously identified by all-source detection.

  • The sensor must be capable of reliable discrimination and locational accuracy.

  • The sensor must be capable of quickly communicating processed data to the corps CP.

These three criteria are met by the following systems:

  • Guard Rail common sensor system.

  • Corps IEW UAV system.

  • Joint surveillance and target attack radar system (J-STARS).

Deliver Phase

Fire Mission Processing. Deep, operational fires are delivered with different attack means, such as field artillery tactical missiles. In terms of C3 these fire missions are executed in either a centralized or decentralized manner or a combination of the two. The postattack assessment is a critical aspect of the deliver stage. It enables the fire support and IEW systems to determine the effectiveness of friendly deep fires and nonlethal attack means. This assessment determines the degree to which the attack has succeeded, and it provides an input back into the targeting system for future reference.

Quick Fire Channels. Most deep targets are detected through the all-source analysis performed in the ASPS. However, since execution time will be constrained, confirmation of target trigger event detection can be based on single-source sensor data if the enemy target behavior has been previously derived from all-source analysis. Quick fire channels may be established for this purpose and also to provide last-minute target data directly to the firing unit.


Deception measures can contribute to the success of deep operations and should be considered. These measures can be used to deceive the location of enemy as to the nature, time, or the deep operation, Fire support deception measures may include the following:

  • Deception fires.

  • False transmission on fire support nets.

  • Movement of artillery.




Rear operations are defined as those actions, including area damage control, taken by all units (combat, combat support [CS], CSS, and host nation), singly or in a joint or combined effort, to secure the force, neutralize or defeat enemy operations in the rear area, and ensure freedom of action in deep and close operations.

For purposes of this discussion, rear operations may be at all echelons down to division but not including brigade rear areas, which actually are considered to be part of the MBA. The rear area starts with the brigade rear boundary and extends through the boundary to the corps rear line.

Corps rear operations are the corps rear boundary those activities from forward to the rear boundaries of committed maneuver units which are conducted to ensure the corps freedom of maneuver and continuity of operations, including continuity of sustainment and command and control. The corps must synchronize the rear operations functions of terrain management, security, sustainment, and movement with the corps close and deep operations, in consonance with the corps commander's concept and intent.

Threat Activities

Soviet doctrine emphasizes the integrated conduct of tactical operations in their enemy's rear. The purpose of these operations is to seize and maintain the initiative while degrading or eliminating their enemy's flexibility and capability to sustain combat operations. To achieve these aims, Threat activities in a corps rear area target key facilities to include:

  • Nuclear weapon storage and delivery systems.

  • Critical corps command, control, and communications facilities.

  • Air defense sites.

  • Reserve assembly areas.

  • Critical support and logistic facilities.

Three levels of response to Threat activities seine as a guide for planning rear operations. Rather than focusing on the size or type of threat, these levels focus on the nature of friendly actions needed to defeat the threat:

  • Level I threats are those which can be defeated by base or base cluster self-defense measures.

  • Level II threats are those which are beyond base or base cluster self-defense capabilities but which can be defeated by response forces, normally military police (MP) with supporting fires.

  • Level III threats are those which necessitate the command decision to commit a corps combined arms tactical combat force to defeat them.

These Threat activities will not necessarily occur in a specific order, nor is there a necessary interrelationship between threat levels. The corps rear area may face one or more levels of Threat activities at one time. Also, some level I and II Threat activities will likely begin well ahead of general hostilities.

In addition to the Soviet capabilities outlined above, their doctrine integrates into their deep operations planning tactical air force and attack helicopter strikes; the delivery of long-range artillery, missiles, and rockets; and radio electronic combat. Thus, the complexity of Soviet deep operations capabilities and doctrine pose; rear operations.

Defense Against Threat Activities

Units are responsible for their own defense against level I threats. Each base or base cluster commander is responsible to detect defeat and minimize the effects of level I threats and to limit the effects of a level II threat. The best defense involves aggressive preparation of fighting positions, use of camouflage, sound and aggressive guard and security procedures, well-rehearsed reaction forces and evacuation plans, artillery fires planned in defense of positions, and so forth. In all cases the planning and reaction time will be minimal. It is possible that defeat of a strong level II force may require use of a reaction force and/or indirect fire. The key to success will be locating, tracking, and fixing the enemy.

Fire Support

Rarely will there be enough fire support assets available to satisfy the needs of deep operations, the MBA and the rear area at the same time. The availability and timely use of fire support in rear operations are critical to the commander's overall battle plan. Rear operations are important to sustain the MBA forces and to ensure freedom of action throughout the theater. A successful rear operation may not directly affect the outcome of close or deep operations. However, its failure may destroy a commander's ability to conduct sustained combat operations and ultimately achieve campaign goals. Indirect-fire assets normally are not available, nor necessarily desirable, for employment against a level I threat. Operations against a level II or III threat require the timely application of fire support to ensure the defeat of the rear threat.

With few exceptions, indirect-fire assets should not be employed against a level I threat or against those level II threat forces that can be defeated by base or base cluster units or by the reaction force. These are usually individual or small-unit operations, of limited scope and duration and provide too fleeting a target for successful engagement. Enemy forces, battalion or larger, which could comprise a level III threat have the size, combat power, and identifiability which would require the use of indirect-fire assets.

Rear operations are also a command responsibility. The operations cell of the rear CP is the tactical center that controls rear operations at each echelon. Operations in the rear of brigade, division or corps areas will have a profound effect on the conduct of close and deep operations. Therefore, such operations must be anticipated and plans must be devised to defeat the rear enemy. All plans, to include fire support for rear operations, are passed through the tactical chain of command to the rear CP.

The forces already on station are responsible for fighting the rear enemy initially. The immediate problem for the commander responsible for rear operations is how to manipulate his limited resources, including fire support, at the right time and place. Considerations that affect the application of fire support for rear operations are as follows:

  • The reduction of fire support to the main battle effort.

  • The suitability as determined by the overall tactical situation.

  • The responsiveness of the available weapon systems.

  • The precision and collateral damage effects of the weapon systems.

  • The existence of communications nets to facilitate fire support activities.

  • The availability of observers to identify targets and adjust fires.

Potentially, the whole spectrum of fire support systems is available for deployment in rear operations. Practically, some are more suitable than others and all depend on the factors of METT-T.

The FS cell is responsible for continuous evaluation of fire support assets available for rear operations. A prioritized list should be developed and coordinated with the operations cell of the rear CP. As close and deep operations change the status of these fire support assets, this list must be updated. Only in this way can effective fire support be quickly provided to counter a level III threat or a level II threat which cannot be defeated by base or base cluster forces or by the designated reaction force.

Field Artillery

Two options are available for the deployment of artillery to support rear operations.

The first option is that artillery can be organized for combat to support the close operations (the covering force and the main battles) with on-order missions given to selected units for rear contingency plans. Artillery so organized must be capable of firing throughout 6,400 mils. It may be able to cover brigade rear areas from its forward positions. However, to engage targets for division and corps rear areas, it must be ready to displace rapidly to the rear. If attacks occur at the same time in the main and rear areas - a likely contingency - there will be conflicting priorities for fire support. There is also a time factor problem with this plan in that artillery may have to displace up to 50 kilometers (km) to engage targets in the corps rear area. The time for this deployment may render its support ineffective. Furthermore, it takes artillery already committed to close operations away from the main battle for an unspecified period of time. There are variations to this option Corps artillery may be used to cover division and brigade rear areas but be positioned to fire at maximum range into the MBA.

The second option is the allocation of some artillery to the tactical combat force assigned to counter level II and level III threats. There is some merit to this idea, since one battalion split into battery fire bases could cover a considerable area of the rear zone. The use of air assault artillery in this role would facilitate coverage of the rear and speed response times.

Generally, the farther away from the FLOT the incursion occurs, the less likelihood there is that the threat may be met by FA sources. In the rear areas of the theater army, it is possibile that FA units either transiting or reconstituting may be used to provide fire support. However, the likelihood that they will be in range, complete with basic load and fuel, and in communication with the operations cell fo the rear CP is remote.

Priority for MLRS is at present to deep operations. Although its range enables it to cover a large area of the rear, its ammunition type is unsuitable for close support and is apt to create extensive collateral damage.

If a target is within range, if an observer can engage the target, and if he has the communications to contact the firing unit then FA remains the single most responsive all-weather, day-and-night fire support system for rear operations.


Normally, mortars have insufficient range to engage rear areas, unless they happen to be in the vicinity of an attack. If reserve infantry battalions are in the vicinity, they may be deployed as a tactical combat force to defeat the threat; then their organic mortars would be of value. In the light role, mortars could be inserted by helicopter to provide an immediate asset until other systems can be deployed. They would require a secure base from which to operate and a logistical backup if they were to sustain fire support for a lengthy period of time.

Ammunition considerations for both artillery and mortars should, if time is available, include a request for ammunition for immediate consumption. The required supply rate (RSR) also must be increased to handle rear area (unforecast) consumption. The use of FASCAM should be severely limited. Under most conditions, it even should be ruled out.

Close Air Support

CAS provides a swift response to a threat in any area. Immediate CAS can be requested through TACPs at maneuver command posts and through the rear CP operations cell. Aircraft can be directed to any part of the battlefield within minutes and can deliver an extensive range of munitions with precision accuracy. Terminal control presents, perhaps the single largest problem for CAS. Most CAS aircraft must be guided onto a target by voice and/or procedure control or by laser designation Most CAS depends on weather and daylight Fratricide is a real possibility and must be minimized in rear operations.

AC-130H Spectre

Gunships provide a suitable rear area fire support system. The reduced threat from air-to-air and ground-to-air antiaircraft weapon systems, together with its day-and-night capability and high volume of firepower, makes this aircraft ideally suited for rear area fire support. It does have a VHF ground-link-to-observer capability but it can also loiter over the target area, acquire its own gun targets, and control its own engagement. Its weapon array of two 20-mm Vulcan cannons, one 40mm cannon, and one 105-mm howitzer makes the system suitable for engagement of all types of threat.

Naval Gunfire

NGF may be suitable for rear area fire support when deployed in general support of a division or when given a nonstandard mission for rear area support. The suitability of NGF depends on the antishipping threat, the hydrography of the area and the ability of the ship to range suitable targets. One important factor is the large range dispersion pattern, particularly for the 16-inch gun, which must be considered in conjunction with assessment of collateral damage.

Army Aviation

Aviation brigades are units of which some elements may be used to provide fire support. The advantages of these units are their firepower, reaction time, mobility, and ability to engage a target with precision and without the use of ground observers, They are also responsive on Army communications nets. Attack helicopters provide one of the most readily available assets to engage rear area incursions. They have the command and control structure, the mobility, and the firepower to engage large Threat forces autonomously, rapidly, and decisively. For attacks in the rear area, Army aviation in conjunction with CAS is probably the most effective form of attack. For EAC, it is probably the only means of attack that can neutralize the enemy swiftly and completely.

If available, AFSOs in OH-58D helicopters are a possible choice to support the rear area tactical combat force. They can help find the enemy force and quickly bring artillery fires on that force. AFSOs could be employed when the aviation brigade is the rear area tactical combat force.

Host Nation Support

In certain areas, host nation support (HNS) provides CAS, artillery, and mortars. For example, there is a well-defined infrastructure in the German Territorial Army. The Territorial Army is subdivided into three commands throughout Germany; each command is subdivided into division-size units called Wehrbereichskommando (WBK). Each WBK has a number of Home Defense Brigades, organized along regular army brigade lines. Each brigade has a battalion of field howitzers in close support. Two of the four maneuver battalions are equipped with 120-mm mortars. US Army units in the rear areas can expect to receive fire support from heavy mortars, 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers, and German Air Force CAS. The normal practice of exchanging liaison personnel among allies working in combined operations greatly facilitates such requests for support.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

The primary fire support coordinating mea- sures (Appendix F) are restrictive measures-- restrictive fire areas and lines. They should be established by the operations cell of the rear CP. The procedures for establishing fire support coordinating measures in the rear area must become part of the overall planning process. Forces employed to deal with a level III force in the rear normally are given an area of operation. The establishment of a boundary within the rear and the possible addition of a force fire support officer require close coordination with the rear FSO. These measures should be reviewed routinely by higher headquarters; posted on rear CP operations maps; entered into TACFIRE; and given to the Air Force, reaction forces, and any TCF. Fire support coordinating measures that apply to rear area operations are discussed below.

Restrictive Fire Area. A restrictive fire area (RFA) could be established around a base or base cluster or along a main supply route (MSR). No fires or effects of fires are allowed inside the RFA unless requested by the base or base cluster commander. This permits fires in support of the base without the additional step of clearing those fires with the establishing authority. Fires along MSRs also are permitted without closing the MSR to our own resupply and troop movement. The restriction on the RFA can be on certain types of munitions (for example, no scatterable mines or no Air Force 500-pound or larger bombs with delay fuzes). The establishing authority can allow the use of these munitions if they are deemed necessary.

No-Fire Area. A no-fire area (NFA) could be established around population centers and critical facilities. This prevents any fire into these areas unless authorized by the establishing authority or in cases of immediate self-defense.

Restrictive Fire Line. An RFL should be established by the commander of combined forces. This should be done when using a tactical combat force. If the tactical force is non-US, the RFL must be established at the combined force headquarters that controls both the US and the non-US forces.

EAC-Host Nation Interface

At EAC, fire support coordinating measures must be coordinated extensively with the host nation. They may, in fact, be established by the host nation. This coordination must ensure a common understanding of graphics and the exact meaning of the measures used.

Fire Planning

Overall fire planning responsibility belongs to the rear operations commander. He is assisted by his fire support staff members in the rear operations cell. It is anticipated that most fires will be on targets of opportunity.

Positioning Considerations

The supporting artillery must be positioned to support rear operations. Positioning coordination with the rear CP operations cell is necessary to avoid fratricide of CS and CSS units and destruction of critical supplies when field artillery and other fire support means receive Threat counterfire. This action also facilitates the ability of the rear CP to coordinate terrain management, movement control, and sustainment.


The FA battalion personnel at all levels are possible target sources in the brigade area because of the high density of troops in the zone. These personnel include FS cells of maneuver units in reserve; gun battery reconnaissance, survey, and occupation of position (RSOP) and survey parties; and trains personnel. Distances at brigade level may be short enough for redeployment in a timely manner. From division back to theater army area command (TAACOM), the likelihood of observers already in position with communications is remote. Some repositioning would be necessary

Aerial fire support observers and aeroscouts from the aviation brigade form a readily responsive, mobile asset. AFSOs can adjust artillery fire, and the aeroscouts have the necessary communications to provide emergency final CAS control.

Normally, military police are designated as the echelon reaction force. They are in place in the rear areas and have intimate knowledge of local terrain. They are trained in the adjustment of FA but not in the control of CAS.

Army target acquisition assets available for rear operations are limited. Most facilities are oriented to the close and deep operations. However, depending on the threat the commander may reallocate some resources to the rear on an on-call basis. Some readily available assets can be oriented quickly to assist acquisition in the rear. These include the Mohawk-borne side-looking airborne radar (SLAR), side-looking infrared (SLIR), Quick Look (noncommunication emitter detection), and aerial photographic equipment. Also, the Guard Rail communications detection system is available through Army channels. The Air Force has a number of assets available. These include airborne warning and control system (AWACS), SLAR, AC-130 Spectre (with forward-looking infrared [FLIR] and low-light-level TV), photo imagery, and, ultimately, J-STARS. Some of these may be tasked to provide accurate locations for predicted fire support.

Fire Support Command and Control

The principles of fire support planning and coordination in the rear areas do not differ significantly from those in the forward areas. There is, however, a difference in the facilities available. MBA maneuver units are well-seined by FSOs at all levels from company up to corps, are equipped with quick fire channels to the gum, and are adequately staffed. Rear CPs have only limited manpower and limited communications facilities. Main operations will be fought and won in the forward areas; and this operation should, naturally, receive the preponderance of assets. The rear area is primarily a reinforcement and logistic zone, whose main function is to facilitate the rapid and efficient resupply of forward fighting units. It is not conceived as a combat zone. Nevertheless, if a level III attack occurs, or if a level II attack against high priority units cannot be neutralized by base, base cluster, or reaction forces, the rear area may temporarily assume an importance greater than that of the close operations. In this case, the maneuver C2 must be agile enough to cope with the problem for time will preclude the shift of C2 from the main CP to the rear. Similarly, the fire support planning and coordination channels should be able to complement the operational flexibility and provide rapid application of fire in the rear. This requires fire support personnel to advise the rear operations commander; and it requires communications to plan coordinate, and call for fire support.

The nature of command and control in rear operations varies with the echelon of command. The theater army rear presents problems which do not occur at the brigade. In general, the closer to the FLOT, the easier the problem of command and control.


The FSO, in conjunction with the operations officer at the rear CP, is responsible for fire support planning. They establish and disseminate the communications procedures (net, call signs, and so forth) to be used by rear area elements for planning and requesting fire support. Bases, base clusters, and response forces normally request fire support on the operations net or MCS (MSE, when available) to the rear CP. Calls for fire normally are not initiated by base or base clusters. They report situational information to the response force commander and the rear CP, who determine indirect-fire requirements and initiate the request. The response force, whose objective is to eliminate the Threat without commitment of the TCF, integrates all available fire support into its plans and operations. If no fire support agency has been dedicated to rear operations, response force requests for fire are sent to the FSO at the rear CP, The request is coordinated at the operations cell and forwarded to the main FS cell.

The most responsive approach to continue the mission depends entirely on the agency providing the fire support and the requesting unit. All indirect fires in the rear area must be observed fires. The rear FSO should talk directly to the agency providing fire support and the requesting unit on the same net. An AFSO, if available, can be used for this function. The FSO and/or AFSO provides the link between the fire support agency and any untrained observer. Some assets, such as attack helicopters and AC-130s, increase interaction because of their ability to actually observe the target and thus avoid nearby friendly elements. In fact, attack helicopters employed in conjunction with an AFSO may be the most responsive and efficient means of providing fire support to the rear area operations.

When the TCF is committed, one net from the supporting artillery unit can be used as the rear fire support net. The rear CP FSO and the DS artillery unit commander plan fires and position firing units where they can best support TCF operations. The rear CP FSO must carefully coordinate fires with rear area elements to avoid fratricide.


The FSO located with the corps operations cell of the rear CP conducts fire support planning and coordination. He effects fire support planning and coordination among the operations cell of the rear CP, the host nation, the corps MP brigade, the nuclear weapons logistics element (NWLE), the ASOC, the corps FS cell, the subordinate rear operations cells, and any fire support asset identified to provide fire support for the rear area. There is no digital interface from the corps operations cell of the rear CP to the corps main FS cell. An option to provide a digital interface is to position a corps artillery liaison section at the rear FSE, if the situation permits.

Fire support planning and coordination for corps rear operations are similar to those at division. The FSO collates base, base cluster, RAOC, and response force fire plans and coordinates the composite rear operations fire support plan with the main FS cell and the TCF. Fire plans and requests for fire are passed to the rear CP FSE over the rear operations net or MSC (MSE, if available), except in cases when one net from a dedicated fire support agency is available for use as the rear fire support net.

Should the TCF with its supporting artillery be committed to a level III threat operation, the rear CP FSO will coordinate with the main FS cell for additional fire support assets as needed to assist base, base cluster, RAOC, or response forces in countering other level II or III threat incursions. The TCF will retain priority of fires. The FSO will provide specific guidance concerning control measures and who can call for fires (normally limited to response forces).


Support Group

Echelons above corps may include TAACOMs as the next higher headquarters. Requests for fire support to the TAACOM and/or TAACOM area support group (ASG) operations cell are coordinated by the FS cell and planned by the plans officer. The tasking of fire support assets is passed from ASG operations cell to TAACOM reserves or corps assets. This tasking should include information about the signal operating instructions (SOI) for fire support assets to contact the ASG operations FS cells for coordination. At corps and TAACOM there is a requirement for a rear operations fire support net whose frequency is known to all transmitting units. This net could be monitored by all units in the area, and both requests for fire and fire orders could be transmitted via the FS cell.



Exploitation is an offensive operation that follows a successful attack to take advantage of weakened or collapsed enemy defenses. Indicators for exploitation are as follows:

  • The enemy is having difficulty maintaining his position.

  • Attacking divisions are making decisive gains.

  • Enemy resistance, particularly supporting fire, is lessening.

  • Deep surveillance operations detect a general enemy withdrawal.

Exploitation can be directed by the next higher headquarters or initiated by the corps commander or division commander. Its purpose is to prevent reconstitution of enemy defenses containing major enemy forces; to disrupt or to capture major enemy reserves; to secure deep objectives, cutting major lines of communication; and to position forces for future operations.


Exploiting divisions should have as much TACAIR as possible. These aircraft can--

  • Operate effectively when enemy defenses are crumbling.

  • Quickly deliver massive amounts of ordnance.

  • Operate across wide and deep sectors.

  • Seek out, follow, and destroy withdrawing enemy forces.

  • Present no rearming or refueling burdens to the land force.

  • Block avenues of approach for counter-attacking enemy forces.

Other fire support required for exploitation forces should be highly mobile and flexible to respond quickly to the needs of maneuver. On-order priorities and on-order missions for field artillery must be designated to quickly shift priorities to units within the exploitation force and/or follow-and-support force if necessary.

Control of assets must be decentralized because of the decreased requirement for massed fires and the need for extremely responsive fire support. In organizing corps artillery for combat, attachment to divisions and, in turn, division artillery should be considered. This would ease command and control problems.

Fire Support Considerations

In fire planning for the exploitation, the following types of fires should be considered:

  • Fires not only in front of the force but also to the flanks and rear.

  • Massed fires on enemy choke points and key terrain to canalize, slow, and block the enemy movement.

  • Suppressive fires to fix bypassed enemy pockets of resistance until friendly maneuver elements are safely past and follow-on forces can deal with them.

  • Fires that do not create obstacles and barriers to our own forces and limit forward progress. Chemical and nuclear fires, in particular, can hinder forward movement if improperly placed.

Fire support assets should be positioned well forward and displaced continually.

Some available CAS should be on ground alert.

Fire support coordination should be completed early on. Use on-order measures to facilitate rapid emplacement and movement of assets. Consider placing RFLs between the direct-pressure force and the follow-and-support force.

Sustainment of the force is primarily an exercise in the movement of assets. The ability of the CSS structure to move forward with fuel, ammunition, and maintenance support determines the limits of advance for the force and force artillery.

Aerial resupply for units in exploitation is a planning option for consideration to sustain the operation.



When enemy resistance has broken down entirely, an attack or exploitation may give way to a pursuit. The objective of the pursuit is to maintain relentless pressure on the enemy and completely destroy him. The pursuit is characterized by broad decentralization of control and rapid movement. Because a pursuit is rarely anticipated, forces normally are not prepared for it. Also, lines of communication become increasingly difficult to sustain. In conventional warfare, pursuits are rare, mainly because a force is not able to sustain such an operation to its completion.

A pursuit operation is basically conducted by two attacking elements. One element provides continuous direct pressure against the enemy across a broad front, while another highly mobile enveloping element intercepts the enemy's retreat and destroys him.


Field artillery organization for combat must be extremely decentralized to increase responsiveness of fires. Division and corps commanders should strongly consider attaching FA units to the force conducting a pursuit.

Also, air support must be extremely responsive to effectively slow the retreat of the enemy. Ground or air alert may be necessary to provide the degree of responsiveness required.

Fire Support Considerations

In planting fires for the pursuit, the following should be considered:

  • Provide responsive fire support to both the direct-pressure force and the encircling force.

  • Provide fires to slow the enemy's retreat and to allow the enveloping force to catch up. If FASCAM is used to slow the retreat, ensure safety zones for the mine-field are disseminated.

  • Provide fires to stop reinforcements.

  • Use smoke to slow and disrupt the retreat.

  • Use CAS and attack helicopters against hard targets and dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) on soft-skinned targets.)

  • Use quick fire planning techniques for hasty attacks.

  • Plan for continual displacement of mortars and FA. Subsequent positions must be coordinated through FS cells as early as possible.

  • Plan for greater use of retransmission station (retrans) communications equipment.

NOTE: The AFSO can be equipped to provide voice or digital retrans for short periods.

  • Provide fires to fix bypassed forces until follow-on elements can engage. Consider free-fire areas around bypassed pockets of resistance.

  • Ensure that fire support coordinating measures are well forward to allow for the speed of the operation.

  • Plan RFL when necessary between the converging, enveloping, and direct-pressure forces.

  • Plan for increased petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) and ammunition usage. Air transportation of supplies may be required. Use captured enemy materiel and stocks of supplies when possible.

  • Plan the use of AFSOs, UAVs, tactical air reconnaissance, and surveillance aircraft. They are necessary for timely and accurate information about enemy locations and activities.

  • Engage command and control elements with lethal and nonlethal means to disrupt the enemy's attempts to consolidate and reorganize.

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