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The goal of fire support planning is to know the maneuver commander's guidance, intent, and scheme of maneuver and to coordinate fire support assets to support the operation. This chapter offers considerations to use during the planning of offensive and defensive operations. It does not address commander's intent or METT-T. Therefore, each FSO, company through brigade, must add those two items to the considerations to adequately plan and coordinate fire support for an operation. The product of fire support planning is the fire support plan, a key component of the commander's operation plan. The plan must be simple, flexible, and descriptive; it must complement the scheme of maneuver. Light infantry tactics are considerably different from mechanized tactics, and unique terms are used. Therefore, it is imperative that the FSO read, know, and understand all of FM 71-101 and FM 7-72.

Maneuver Tactics and Fire Support

The effectiveness of the total fire support system depends on the successful performance of the four basic tasks of fire support:

  • Support forces in contact.

  • Support the battle plan.

  • Synchronize the fire support system.

  • Sustain the fire support system.

NOTE: For an expanded discussion of these
tasks, see FM 6-20, Chapter 3.


Purpose of Offensive Operations

The primary purpose of an offensive operation is to destroy the enemy. This is done by breaking through his defensive system and driving rapidly and violently into his rear to destroy artillery, air defenses, command posts, logistical support, and his command and control system. FMs 7-20, 7-30, 71-101 and 100-5 describe in detail the purposes, fundamentals, and types of offensive operations. Other purposes of the offense are as follows:

  • Secure key terrain.

  • Gain information on enemy strength.

  • Deceive and divert the enemy.

  • Deprive the enemy of resources.

  • Hold the enemy in position to keep him from concentrating.

Types of Offensive Operations

There are five basic types of offensive operations to be provided fire support:

  • Movement to contact.

  • Hasty attack.

  • Deliberate attack (to include the forward passage of lines).

  • Exploitation.

  • Pursuit.

The support for each of these types is discussed in detail later in this chapter.

The following fire support tasks are performed in support of all types of offensive operations:

  • Locate targets.

  • Help integrate all available fire support assets.

  • Provide conventional, chemical, and nuclear fires at the desired times and places. (The brigade FSO will inform the FS cell of the current FLOT and radiation exposure state [RES] category to expedite the employment of a division nuclear subpackage to support brigade operations.)

  • Destroy, suppress, and/or neutralize enemy direct and indirect fire weapons.

  • Provide illumination and smoke or obscurants.

  • Provide fires in support of joint air attack team (JAAT) operations.

  • Suppress or destroy enemy air defenses, command and control, and logistics facilities.

  • Deliver scatterable mines.

  • Prepare for support of future operations.

Movement to Contact


The movement to contact is conducted by maneuver forces to gain or reestablish contact with the enemy. It may be used in any combat situation where the initiative is not clearly in the grasp of either opponent or where the enemy has broken contact.

A movement to contact is characterized by rapid movement decentralized control, and the hasty deployment of combined arms formations from the march--to attack or to defend. The movement should result in a meeting engagement. Target acquisition and intelligence means strive to discover the enemy's formations and facilities well before the lead elements of the friendly force reach him.

One of the primary tasks for a FSCOORD is to predict likely enemy locations and to plan on- call fires accordingly. Fire support units must be prepared to react quickly when needed.

Supported forces move aggressively toward the enemy but are not sure exactly where or when they will fight. A friendly force moves with the smallest practicable element forward. A reinforced battalion-size force might lead a division; whereas, a company or troop could lead a brigade. Forward elements advance along concealed routes covered by an overwatch element positioned to support by fire. The supported commander decentralizes control to leaders to the front and to the flanks. He retains the bulk of his combat power to permit flexible response once contact is made. The most pressing demand on fire support is responsive fires when called for.

FSCOORD Activities

FSCOORD activities to support a movement to contact at company, battalion and brigade levels are shown in the following table.

Fire Support Planning

The movement to contact is a fluid situation in which supported elements try to locate the enemy. Initially, top-down fire planning will be used if time permits. Targeting for fire support usually is based on predicted enemy locations(targets). Past enemy tactics under similar conditions and the terrain influence this targeting effort. On-call fires are planned to meet possible contingencies. As the advance continues, plans at brigade are updated. Fire support planning at the two levels normally executing the movement to contact when planning time is limited is shown below.

Positioning of
Fire Support Assets

Success in fire support operations requires the proper positioning of contributing assets, such as weapons and target acquisition means. Some of the positioning considerations are shown below.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

The most commonly used fire support coordinating measure in a movement to contact is the coordinated fire line (CFL). Because of the fluidity of the enemy situation the CFL is moved forward, keeping with the advance of the supported maneuver element. The fire support coordinating measures at each level are discussed below.

Fire Support Considerations

Immediately responsive fires are provided initially to the lead element and then to the lead company as contact develops. Responsive fires are provided by--

  • Assignment of priorities of fire.

  • Allocation of priority targets to the company or team performing a mission requiring responsiveness.

  • Responsive repositioning of firing batteries by the artillery S3 as the movement to contact progresses.

  • Effective positioning by FOs and/or COLTs.

  • Integration of additional assets, such as the immediate response of mortars upon contact with the enemy.

Responsive fires are also enhanced by effective assignment of forward observers to the available communications nets. Assignment can give specific observers priority of response. The quick fire net and the exclusive net are options. They do not prevent the firing unit from answering calls for fire from other than the specific observer.

  • A quick fire net (voice) authorizes a direct association of an observer with a selected weapon system (normally field artillery). Although the designated observer is not the only observer on the net, he has the highest priority for calls for fire. In a voice net, the net control station (NCS) (normally the FDC) will restrict all other net traffic immediately upon receiving a request for fire from the priority observer. In a quick fire net (digital), the designated observer may be given priority in the tactical fire direction system (TACFIRE) or the observer may be allowed to communicate directly with a designated battery computer system (BCS). (See TC 6-40A.)

NOTE: In either digital case, the operators must
diligently and continuously review input queues
to ensure immediate actioning of the priority call
for fire.

  • An exclusive net is a fire direction net designated (as a field expedient) to be used for a limited period of time solely by the observer and the appropriate FDC. No other subscriber will enter the net except in an emergency. This procedure will be used only for special situations. The commander, considering the factors of METT-T, must determine that absolute responsiveness to a specific unit is mandatory. This procedure requires frequencies and radio equipment that normally are not readily available. Therefore, the FDC may switch from a net it normally monitors to the exclusive net; but it will always monitor its fire direction net.

On the basis of the commander's guidance, TACAIR and massed fires are scheduled on deep targets. Fires are planned on and around reserves and logistics sites to hinder their movement onto the battlefield. Fires are planned on flanks to protect the flanks and to reduce the number of maneuver forces committed to the flanks.

Fires are planned on the terrain to be traversed. As maneuver forces move, immediate suppression missions are fired to help the maneuver force get within range of the enemy direct fire weapon systems. Immediate smoke is fired to obscure OPs, screen friendly movement and help maneuver forces breach obstacles. COLTs may be positioned forward near the advance guard in an overwatch position to provide responsive fires when contact is made. Once contact is made with the enemy, the FSO must be prepared for either a hasty attack or a defense.

Coordinated fire lines are placed well forward of friendly maneuver forces. On-order CFLs are planned on phase lines so the CFLs can be lifted and shifted quickly.

Hasty Attack


The hasty attack is launched with minimum advanced planning. The main goal of a hasty attack is to seize the initiative. It is usually conducted following a movement to contact, during a counterattack, or when unexpected enemy contact is made. The commander attacks quickly from his existing dispositions to gain the upper hand or to keep the enemy from organizing resistance. Planning is normally extremely limited. The principles of the attack--concentration of effort, surprise, speed, and flexibility--apply to the hasty attack. The need for rapid, decisive action results in a need for simpler schemes and a greater reliance on SOPs and independent execution. The FSCOORDs must be prepared to ensure rapid reaction of the fire support system.

Once enemy contact has been made during the movement to contact, supported maneuver commanders deploy and attack from the march. They coordinate their maneuver and supporting means in an attempt to fight through and continue the advance. The FSCOORD participates in this coordination.

The hasty attack is a difficult operation. It tries to maintain the momentum of the force. It seeks to fix the enemy's forward elements in place with firepower, to find gaps and/or weak spots or open flanks, and to move quickly through. Speed is essential. Fire support plays a key role. Often, it allows supported commanders to bring down massed fires in selected areas and to quickly shift these fires throughout their sectors.

FSCOORD Activities

FSCOORD activities to support a hasty attack at company, battalion, and brigade levels are shown below.

Fire Support Planning

Fire support planning time for the FSCOORD to prepare for the hasty attack is very limited. He must capitalize on existing fire plans, adding targets as necessary. The commander's priorities may change for both the targets and the firing means. Fire support planning involvement of the FSCOORD at each level of concern is discussed below.

Positioning of Fire Support Assets

Positioning concerns for fire support assets are discussed below.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

Usually, the nature of a hasty attack inhibits the establishment and dissemination of formal fire support coordinating measures.

Deliberate Attack


The deliberate attack is one that is thoroughly planned and coordinated. Fires and maneuver are fully meshed. Time is available to do this. Usually, this type of attack is necessary when the unit is confronted with a well-organized enemy defense and when the enemy cannot be turned or bypassed. Attacking forces must be organized in depth. Reserves must be positioned and prepared to replace lead elements or to exploit success wherever it is achieved. Fire support must be flexible to meet all contingencies.

Usually, attack planning begins with the receipt of a mission. Tasks needed to accomplish the mission are developed in estimates by the supported commander and his staff, to include the FSCOORD. Usually, a mission is translated into the seizure of certain objectives to accomplish the mission.

In designating objectives for the attack, commanders consider the factors of METT-T. Once objectives are selected, the scheme of maneuver and the allocation of forces and fire support can be determined.

The scheme of maneuver seeks to gain a position advantage over the enemy, to close with him quickly, and to destroy his capability to defend. The attack may be oriented against the front, flanks, or rear of the defender. It may be conducted from the ground, the air, or both. The specific form is determined after METT-T are considered. The scheme selected must promise the quickest possible seizure of the objective. It must facilitate future operations. The scheme identifies where the main attack is made and the provisions for exploiting success when it occurs. In the attack, the maneuver commander must be prepared to shift his main attack to exploit unanticipated successes elsewhere.

In some cases, the enemy situation may be so obscure that the supported commander may not designate a main attack until the situation develops.

The allocation of forces and fire support is determined concurrently with the scheme of maneuver. Combat power is concentrated against enemy weaknesses. Commanders weight the main attack by positioning reserves to reinforce the main effort, by assigning a narrower zone to the main attack force, or by assigning priority of fires and other support to the main attack.

The reserve is one of the commander's principal means of influencing the action once the attack is under way. It is used to reinforce success in the attack. Usually, the reserve is positioned near the area in which it is most likely to be committed. The FSCOORD ensures that fire support for the reserve, when committed, is planned.

The fire support plan provides for fires that directly support assault elements and for fires in general support of the entire force. Provisions are included for support of the reserve when committed. An important consideration in deliberate attack planning is the decision on whether to fire a preparation. This decision is based on the need for surprise, knowledge of the enemy strength and dispositions, NBC protection requirements, available munitions and/or weapon systems, and the results desired from the preparation.

FSCOORD Activities

FSCOORD activities to support a deliberate attack at company, battalion, and brigade levels are discussed in the following table.

Fire Support Planning

Fires are planned to support maneuver phases of the operation. Groups and series are planned to support the movement. Suppressive fires are planned on enemy overwatching direct fire systems to help maneuver direct fire systems engage them. Smoke is planned to screen movement, obscure vision from enemy OPs, and help in breaching operations. Preparation fires should be planned and may be executed at the commander's discretion. During the attack, immediately responsive fires are provided to the lead elements by assigning priority of fire support. Consolidation of the objective is supported. Fires must be reinforcement of the enemy and to defeat enemy counterattacks. A hasty attack or defense is planned. Throughout the operation, the attack of deep targets is planned to block movements of reserves and follow-on forces into the close-in battle area. The FSCOORD at each level must ensure the adequacy of fire support for his level. Actions for fire support planning in the deliberate attack at company, battalion, and brigade levels are discussed below.

Positioning of Fire Support Assets

Some of the positioning considerations for fire support assets supporting a deliberate attack are discussed below.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

These measures are used in the deliberate attack to facilitate attack of the enemy and provide safety for friendly troops. At all levels, fire support coordinating measures in effect are posted to maps, charts, and overlays. Actions to implement fire support coordinating measures at each level are discussed below.



Exploitation follows an attack and is initiated from an attack formation. Exploitation forces usually go for deep objectives. They seize command posts, sever escape routes, and hit reserves, field artillery, and combat support units. Exploitation forces keep the enemy from reconstituting an effective defense. Field artillery movements and positions are carefully planned and coordinated.

Supported forces drive swiftly for deep objectives. The force should be large, fairly self-sufficient, and well supported by combat support assets. It should be able to change direction quickly.

Decentralized execution is characteristic of an exploitation. However, the major command must retain enough control to preclude an overextension of its force.

Forces in the exploitation usually advance rapidly. Actions are characterized by speed, boldness, responsive fire support, and speedy commitment of reserves.

Follow-and-support forces may be used in exploitation and pursuit actions. These forces--

  • Widen or secure the shoulders of a penetration.

  • Destroy bypassed enemy forces.

  • Relieve supported units that are halted to contain enemy elements.

  • Open and secure lines of communication.

  • Guard prisoners and key areas or installations.

  • Control refugees.

The exploiting force clears only as much of the assigned sector as necessary to permit the advance to continue. Threat forces that interfere or can interfere with exploiting forces are destroyed. Others are bypassed and reported to the next higher headquarters. Occasionally, some forces may remain to fix enemy pockets of resistance until relieved by follow-and-support elements.

FSCOORD Activities

The FSCOORD activities at any level to support an exploitation include the following:

  • Continuously coordinate with the FSCOORD of the follow-and-support force to identify bypassed enemy elements and to pass fire support tasks.

  • Anticipate situations that would require rapid transition to more centralized fire support.

  • Ensure that ammunition, supplies, and maintenance are moved forward with the exploiting fire support means.

  • Plan for a hasty attack.

  • Use on-order CFLs to quickly activate them. Restrictive fire lines (RFLs) may be necessary between the direct pressure force and the follow-and-support force.

Once brigades begin their exploitation, the division need for highly centralized control and deliberately planned massed fires decreases. There is an increase, however, in the need for highly mobile, flexible fire support that is responsive to the needs of the exploiting brigades. Fire support tasks for the exploitation include--

  • Suppression of bypassed pockets of enemy resistance.

  • Support for maneuver elements left behind to fix bypassed enemy.

  • Support for hasty attacks against the enemy that cannot be bypassed.

  • Fires to prevent counterattack by enemy forces.

  • Deep fires to block the retreat of enemy forces and to prevent enemy reinforcements.

  • Counterfires on enemy indirect and air defense weapon systems.

Fire Support Planning

Fire support may include TACAIR and attack helicopters in addition to field artillery.

TACAIR. An exploiting brigade should be allocated as many TACAIR sorties as division can afford. These aircraft can--

  • Operate wide and deep, given at least air parity.

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

Attack Helicopters. When task-organized by division, attack helicopters can accomplish missions similar to those of TACAIR. However, the refueling and rearming burden remains a division task.

Field Artillery. Fire planning for the exploitation may be fairly detailed for the first few kilometers beyond the penetration zone. After that point, however, it is hasty and informal, orienting on the rapid attack of targets of opportunity. It is done primarily by company and battalion FSOs.

If an exploiting maneuver element meets a pocket of resistance that can be bypassed, supporting field artillery may have to place continuous suppression fires on the bypassed enemy until the supported element is safely past. In other situations, the supported element may have to leave a task force in position to fix the bypassed enemy force while the exploitation continues. The FSCOORD with the exploiting element must then arrange for fire support for the stay-behind force.

The FSCOORDs at battalion and brigade levels must continually anticipate and plan for hasty attacks in case major resistance is met and cannot be bypassed.

Positioning of Fire Support Assets

Because of the speed inherent in the exploitation, positioning of fire support weapons is extremely challenging. Both weapons and target acquisition assets must be positioned to meet the needs of supported forces. The speed of an exploitation limits use of many TA assets because of emplacement and displacement times. Hasty survey techniques are normal. Naval gunfire ships, if available, are positioned to exploit the ranges of their weapons. Supporting aircraft may be on ground or air alert to enhance their responsiveness.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

The brigade FSCOORD closely monitors the progress of exploiting elements to ensure that fire support coordinating measures are updated quickly. Usually, the FSCOORD recommends that the CFL be kept well forward. Locations for the advancing friendly units are constantly changing, and all fire support in the objective areas must be closely coordinated.



Pursuit, like exploitation, may also follow an attack and is started from an attack formation. The pursuing commander keeps constant pressure on the enemy to prevent his orderly withdrawal. Fire support helps maintain this pressure by timely field artillery movements and positioning. Follow-and-support forces may be used as in the exploitation.

The pursuit to destroy a retreating enemy is an extension of the exploitation. Its purpose is to cut off the enemy and completely destroy him. The force commander quickly commits all available elements to pursue when the enemy can no longer operate effectively and tries to flee.

Forces conducting a pursuit continue direct pressure with one element on a broad front against the enemy. Another highly mobile encircling element cuts the enemy's line of retreat to intercept and destroy him. If the encircling force cannot outdistance the enemy, it attacks the enemy's main body on its flank.

Air assault forces may secure key terrain in the path of the retreating enemy to block his escape routes. Fire support strikes deep and concentrates on escape routes and enemy reserves.

In many respects, fire support for the pursuit is similar to that for the exploitation. The main differences are explained by the single goal of the pursuit, which is to destroy the enemy. Rapid advances on multiple routes characterize both operations. However, in the pursuit, the objective is to bring the elements together to destroy the enemy.

The fire support system must be flexible enough to allow independent support for both the direct pressure forces and the encircling forces during the pursuit yet allow coordinated employment to destroy the enemy after he is trapped.

FSCOORD Activities

Tasks for fire support in the pursuit are discussed below.

The direct pressure force is supported as follows:

  • Fires are placed on retreating enemy units to slow, erode, demoralize, and destroy them.

  • Enemy rear guard and strongpoint elements are suppressed so that they can be bypassed and contact with the main force can be maintained.

  • Fires from all fire support means are massed on enemy forces concentrated around choke points, defiles, communications centers, and bridges.

The encircling force is supported as follows:

  • Enemy positions are suppressed with smoke, HE, and improved conventional munitions (ICM) so that the enveloping force can bypass them.

  • Fires support the encircling force flank attack if it is unable to outdistance the enemy's main body.

The converging direct pressure and encircling forces are supported by massing fires from all fire support means to destroy the trapped enemy.

Fire Support Planning

Like for the exploitation fire planning for the pursuit is primarily hasty and informal.

Fire Support Coordinating Measures

The most critical coordination problem facing the FSCOORD of a pursuing element occurs when the direct pressure and encircling forces converge on each other to destroy the enemy. The FSCOORD must ensure that all fires concentrate on the trapped enemy. Normally, an RFL is placed between the two converging friendly forces to ensure smooth and safe coordination of fires.

Special Offensive Operations


An ambush is a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. It is an excellent technique to destroy enemy forces if intelligence about enemy dispositions and intentions is limited.

Fire support for the ambush includes the following:

  • Fires planned along reconnaissance routes. These should be fired only if surprise is lost. They include identifying or marking fires and smoke for screening or obscuring.

  • Fires in support of the deception plan.

  • Fires planned on checkpoints, rally points, rendezvous points, and along planned withdrawal routes.

  • Fires planned to support primary and alternate ambush positions.

  • Blocking fires to keep the enemy force from escaping.

An FO should go with the ambush force. If that is not possible, a communications net for calls for fire must be established and monitored by the appropriate fire support personnel or agency.


A raid is an operation, usually small-scale, involving a swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, to confuse the enemy, or to destroy his installations. It ends with a planned withdrawal upon completion of the assigned mission.


A feint is an offensive operation intended to draw the enemy's attention away from the area of the main attack. This induces the enemy to move his reserves or to shift his fire support in reaction to the feint. Feints must appear real; therefore, some contact with the enemy is required. Usually, a limited-objective attack ranging in size from a raid to a supporting attack is conducted.

Reconnaissance in Force

A reconnaissance in force is a limited-objective operation conducted by at least a battalion task force. Its purpose is to get information and to locate and test enemy dispositions, strengths, and reactions. Even though a reconnaissance in force is executed primarily to gather information, the force conducting the operation must seize any opportunity to exploit tactical success. If the enemy situation must be developed along a broad front, the reconnaissance in force may consist of strong probing actions to determine the enemy situation at selected points.


Purpose of Defensive Operations

The purpose of any defense is to defeat an enemy attack and gain the initiative for offensive operations. Light forces defend to deny the enemy the initiative and as a prelude to offensive operations. The use of superior positions, terrain positioning, and fighting the enemy throughout the depth of his formation set the stage for successful offensive operations. The key to defense is depth. Light forces must be able to attack the enemy throughout his formations from positions that are mutually supporting and arrayed in depth.

Types of Defensive Operations

The most traditional defensive operations are those characterized by the use of control measures. They include--

  • Defend in sector.

  • Defend from a battle position.

  • Defend from a strongpoint.

  • Perimeter defense.

Battalions and above are normally given the mission to defend in sector, leaving the commander the most latitude to develop his own defensive plan. Battalions may be given one of the more restrictive or defined defensive missions, but these are normally reserved for smaller units.

Defend in Sector

The most frequent and least restrictive defensive operation that a commander may receive is to defend in sector. It requires him to defend in an area defined by two lateral boundaries--a rear boundary and the forward edge of the battle area ( FEBA). The unit may defend forward in sector, denying enemy penetration or simply countering enemy attempts to infiltrate. It may defend to draw the enemy into the sector to expose his flanks and rear to attack. Also, light infantry defend-in-sector operations may be defending river-crossing sites; denying road or trail use in an area; or forcing an enemy to dismount by impeding mechanized movement along a major, high-speed avenue through close terrain. Regardless of the specific mission, when assigned a defend-in-sector operation, the commander is responsible for the positioning and maneuver of his force. Coordination is made with the units on both flanks to ensure that fields of observation and fire overlap and that there are no gaps in the defense.

Defend From a Battle Position

Defend from a battle position is used when the terrain is suited to concentrating fires. Battle positions are normally used when key terrain must be held or when the position commands a good engagement area. Obstacles are used to slow the enemy and canalize him in the engagement area in such a manner that the battle position units can engage targets from the flanks and rear.

Defend From a Strongpoint

A strongpoint defense is unique because it is a mission, a technique, and a control measure. A unit can defend from a strongpoint, but the planning and preparation for this mission are time- and resource-intensive. The enemy cannot bypass or reduce the strongpoint without expending excessive resources and time. It is essentially an antiarmor nest. Because of the nature of the operation, strongpoints are located in restrictive terrain--such as urban areas, mountains, and thick forests--that cannot be bypassed easily. Since the defending unit must keep the enemy from bypassing or reducing the strongpoint, priority tasks for engineers are countermobility and survivability. The strongpoint is defended until the defending unit is formally relieved by the commander directing the defense.

Units may be directed to construct a strongpoint as part of a larger overall defensive plan. To do this, the defending unit must be augmented with extensive engineer support, additional key weapon systems, pioneer tools, additional transportation assets, and CSS resources. To offset some of the support requirements, the commander may decide to take advantage of an existing obstacle, such as a town or village, to reduce the time required to develop a strongpoint.

Strongpoints may be on the FEBA or in the depth of the battle area. The commander makes that determination on the basis of the time and resources available, the availability of engineer support, the terrain available to serve as the choke point and his ability to tie the choke point into the rest of the defense.

Several aspects of the strongpoint defense are critical. The following aspects are incorporated into the overall plan:

  • Covered and concealed routes are constructed or planned between positions, along routes of supply and communication, and to support counterattacks and maneuver within the strongpoint.

  • Food, water, ammunition, pioneer tools, and medical supplies are stockpiled in each fighting position.

  • The strongpoint is divided into several independent but mutually supporting positions or sectors. If one of the positions or sectors must be evacuated or is overrun, obstacles and fires limit the enemy penetration and support a counterattack.

  • Obstacles and minefield are constructed to disrupt and canalize the enemy formations, to reinforce fires, and to protect the strongpoint from assault. The obstacles and mines are placed as far out as friendly units can observe and cover with fire, within the strongpoint itself, behind the strongpoint, and at points in between where they will be useful.

  • Several means of communication within the strongpoint and to higher headquarters are planned and tested. They include radio, wire, messenger, pyrotechnics, and other signals.

  • The strongpoint is improved or repaired until the unit is relieved or withdrawn. Additional positions can be built, tunnels and trenches can be dug, existing positions can be improved or repaired, and barriers can be built or fixed.

  • The strongpoint position itself must be an obstacle to enemy mounted movement.

A strongpoint may be part of any defensive plan. It may be built to protect vital units or installations around which more mobile units maneuver, or it may be part of a trap designed to destroy enemy forces that attack. It may be in an urban area or in a wilderness.

Urban areas are easily converted to strongpoints. Stone, brick or steel buildings provide cover and concealment. Buildings, sewers, and some streets provide covered and concealed routes. Buildings can be rubbled to provide obstacles. Telephone systems can provide communications.

Nonurban areas are also used as strongpoints. Normally, they are constructed by digging into the earth. Sometimes parapets may be built. However, in most cases, concealment should not be sacrificed to provide cover. The strongpoint is molded to the terrain and uses natural camouflage and obstacles. Mountains, rivers, swamps, and forests can support formidable strongpoints.

Perimeter Defense

The perimeter defense is conducted in the same manner as defense from a battle position, except the perimeter defense orients on 360 degrees. The perimeter defense is often used as a light infantry technique.

While a battle position can allow for some penetration, a perimeter defense cannot. Perimeter defenses protect the force, hold specific terrain or protect a key installation from destruction by ground attack or infiltration. In the perimeter defense, the flanks of all units are tied together to provide mutual support.

If the perimeter is penetrated, the reserve blocks the penetration or it counterattacks to restore the perimeter. Units obtain depth by planning positions in depth. Antiarmor weapons are positioned on the most likely enemy avenues of mounted approach. Mortars are usually positioned in the center of the perimeter and can fire 360 degrees. Perimeters may defend assembly areas, specific installations or equipment (such as CPs, downed aircraft, bridges, airfields, and roadblocks), or key terrain; or they may be part of a larger unit perimeter, airhead or lodgment.

Patrols provide early warning and harass the enemy.

Fire Support for
Defensive Operations

General fire support considerations for the defense apply to all defensive operations discussed above. Key is the application of fire support as early as possible throughout the entire defensive sector in support of the defensive battle plan.

Fires Forward of the Main Battle Area

Counterreconnaissance fires are planned to deny the enemy information about friendly forces. The following considerations apply:

  • Fires are executed on reconnaissance (recon) and intelligence-gathering elements (the combat recon patrol and forward security element).

  • Fires should be planned to support the forward recon or scout elements according to their mission guidance from the commander. Fires should be planned to help these elements move and disengage as they fall back.

  • Augmentation of forward elements with observers or additional target acquisition assets may be required.

  • Laser-guided munitions, guided by COLTs placed forward or by aerial fire support systems, may be used in the counterreconnaissance effort. If COLTs are employed their proper positioning to support the commander's intent will be key.

Fires are planned to develop the situation early by forcing early deployment by the enemy. Actions that contribute to early deployment are as follows:

  • Engage the enemy at the maximum effective range of available fire support systems.

  • Ensure observers are in forward positions to be effective; they may be placed in key positions overmatching avenues of approach.

  • Plan fires to delay enemy advances and to cause enemy armor or mechanized elements to button up.

  • Canalize the enemy into choke points and preplanned, long-range engagement areas; plan to mass fires on choke points and engagement areas to inflict maximum early casualties.

  • Plan fires to isolate lead echelons from follow-on forces. This makes it easier for friendly maneuver forces to defeat the enemy in sequence. Plan smoke and FASCAM, if available, behind enemy forward elements and in front of follow-on forces.

  • Engage high-payoff targets in follows forces early to disrupt enemy operations.

  • Plan a counterpreparation, which may be executed at the commander's discretion.

  • If a covering force is deployed forward of the main battle area (MBA), coordinate fires on targets in the security area with the covering force.

  • Plan TACAIR on known, likely, or suspected enemy locations.

Fires in the Main Battle Area

Throughout the Depth of the Main Battle Area. As the enemy moves into the MBA use fire support to force him to deploy early, revealing his main attack. Contingency plans must be made to reallocate fire support assets once the main attack is identified. Plan fires throughout the depth of the MBA as follows:

  • Mass fires to delay, disrupt, and destroy the enemy throughout the sector.

  • Plan supporting tires, smoke, suppression fires, and priority targets along withdrawal routes.

  • Plan fires to help maneuver move and disengage from enemy forces as they fall back through the MBA.

Planned Engagement Areas. Plan fires as follows in support of planned engagement areas:

  • Use fire support to canalize the enemy into choke points and/or engagement areas.

  • Plan groups for simultaneous engagement of enemy within the engagement area.

  • Plan series to preclude the enemy's movement out of the engagement area and to keep him moving under continuous fire.

  • Consider an illumination schedule over the engagement area.

  • Plan massed fires to inflict maximum casualties on enemy within the engagement area.

  • Plan TACAIR and the airspace management requirements for its employment.

  • Consider the use of attack helicopters support role.

Support of the Obstacle Plan. Plan fires in front of, on top of, to the sides of, and behind obstacles to maximize their effect as combat multipliers. These fires may be shifted from one or more planned targets, depending on the size of the obstacle. Plan fire support as follows:

  • Plan fires far forward of obstacles to disrupt enemy formations, to separate attacking echelons, and to force enemy deployment into forward engagement areas. As the enemy approaches an obstacle, massed fires and priority targets maximize casualties on enemy elements halted or bunched by the obstacle.

  • Plan fires on top of obstacles to hinder breaching attempts and to destroy breaching teams or equipment, including lane markers. The commander must consider the effects of these fires on the obstacle itself when deciding to fire on top of it.

  • Plan fires to the sides of obstacles to hinder enemy attempts to bypass obstacles.

  • Plan fires behind the obstacle to destroy the enemy piecemeal as he passes through the obstacle, to support the withdrawal of friendly elements, and to force the enemy into another engagement area.

  • Consider smoke to support the obstacle plan. Fired in front of the obstacle, smoke obscures the obstacle from the enemy. Fired on top of and to the sides of the obstacle, smoke hinders breaching or bypassing efforts; it silhouettes the enemy for overwatching elements if the enemy succeeds in breaching or bypassing.

  • Devise an observation plan that provides for continuous observation (to include periods of limited visibility) from multiple vantage points.

  • Designate redundant responsibilities for executing fires in support of obstacles and primary and alternate communications means.

  • Defensive Fires. Plan defensive fires as follows:

  • Integrate indirect fire support into direct fire defensive plans.

  • Suppress enemy direct and indirect fire weapons.

  • Assign priority targets and final protective fires to battle positions strongpoints, or perimeter defenses to preclude the enemy's breaching of defenses.

  • Consider the use of appropriate fire support coordinating measures to facilitate attack of the enemy.

  • Make contingency plans to reallocate fire support assets to strengthen vulnerable areas. On-order priorities of fire must be designated and TACAIR must be planned to support contingencies.

Support of the Hasty Attack. The opportunity to counterattack may appear quickly. Plan continuously to support a hasty attack:

  • Use quick fire planning techniques as planning time will be limited.

  • Place CFLs close to forward units to open up the area for rapid engagement of the enemy.


This section Implements STANAG 2082, Edition 5.



The delay trades space for time while inflicting maximum punishment on the enemy without becoming decisively engaged. The delaying force selects positions that provide long-range observation and fields of fire. Thus, friendly forces can engage the enemy at long ranges and bring him under increasingly heavy fires as he maneuvers toward friendly positions. The delaying force seeks concealment and cover for delaying position, assembly area, and routes of movement. It occupies battle positions long enough to cause the enemy to deploy and to allow the delaying force to develop the situation and maneuver to an attack position. The delaying force normally deploys to the next delay position before becoming decisively engaged.

Fire Support Considerations

Fires are planned to engage the enemy early, before he gets to the battle positions, to inflict casualties and disrupt his approach to the positions. Massed fires on high-payoff targets and canalizing terrain are planned. Enemy reserves and logistic sites are engaged to reduce the ability of the enemy to support the attacking force.

All fire support assets must be used to support the forces as they proceed to the rear. Priority targets are planned and designated, as are fires along the route from the old position to the next position. Observers are placed in position to support the displacing force. COLTs may be needed to provide the degree of support necessary. All assets are used to support the movement. Smoke may be used to screen the movement.

Fires must be planned in front of, on top of, and to the sides of the battle position to engage the enemy immediately before his attack of that position. Also, FPFs should be planned.

Fires must be planned for the disengagement. Specifically, massed fires on likely and known enemy positions and smoke should be planned. Use of the COLT can help in this.

At some time during the battle, the enemy may become particularly vulnerable. The commander may decide to conduct a counterattack. There may be enough planning time to use quick fire planning procedures. Otherwise, the FSO must be prepared to shift and mass fires. He must plan continuously. If the counterattack is going to be more than a limited one, the FSO must be prepared to reallocate assets in support of it.



During a withdrawal, all or part of a force disengages from the enemy and moves away in an organized manner. A withdrawal may occur under enemy pressure or not under pressure. It may be executed during daylight or darkness. When withdrawing from the enemy, it is important to put distance between the disengaging force and the enemy as quickly as possible, preferably without the enemy's knowledge. Withdrawal is best done under the cover of darkness or limited visibility, even though command and control is more difficult. Smoke helps conceal the operation. In the case of the withdrawal under enemy pressure, the commander will leave an overmatching force, a covering force, or a detachment left in contact (DLIC) to maintain contact with the enemy and keep him from spoiling the withdrawal. The DLIC may have to perform a delay to keep enemy forces from engaging friendly forces at this critical time.

Fire Support Considerations

Withdrawal Without Enemy Pressure. Ideally, the maneuver force will be able to withdraw without enemy pressure. In such a case, the commander will want to use a deception plan to make it look as though the force is still in contact with the enemy. The withdrawal may be detected by the enemy. Therefore, the FSCOORD must be prepared to support a withdrawal under enemy pressure.

Withdrawal Under Enemy Pressure. If the force must withdraw under enemy pressure, the DLIC must be given maximum fire support to help in the disengagement. Suppression of enemy direct fire systems and the use of smoke to obscure enemy OPs must be planned. Because of terrain considerations, smoke may be required to screen friendly movement. TACAIR and attack helicopters in a fire support role may be used to provide effective support.

Barriers and obstacles become critical to the success of the operation. Massed fires in support of barriers and obstacles and the use of smoke can severely restrict enemy movement.

Passage of Lines


A passage of lines is conducted to allow a moving unit to pass through a stationary unit. It can be conducted in offensive or defensive operations. During this passage, both units are temporarily concentrated in the same area and are, therefore, vulnerable to enemy action. The normal confusion of combat is increased by having two units in an area where only one was before. Therefore, extremely detailed planning and coordination are required. A passage of lines is rarely a specified mission; rather, it is usually an implied task.


Extremely detailed planning is required for a passage of lines to avoid unnecessary casualties and damage to equipment and to deceive the enemy. The aspects of planning that the FSCOORDs of the stationary and passing forces must be concerned with are discussed below.

Control Measures. The following data must be passed between the forces involved:

  • Location of passage lanes.

  • Location of passage points.

  • Location of contact points.

  • Recognition signals.

  • Attack positions or assembly area (in a forward passage).

  • Routes (start points [SPs] and release points [RPs]).

  • Location of CS and CSS units (in a rearward passage).

Transfer of Control. The commanders of the two forces decide when transfer of control will be effected. Most often, it will be determined by event; however, the commanders may select a time (H-hour) to effect transfer of control. This transfer of control impacts on fire support (that is, the mission changes from DS to GS, GSR or reinforcing [R] or from GS, GSR, or R to DS). Also, responsibility for fire support coordination passes from the FSCOORD of the force in contact to the FSCOORD of the passing force at H-hour (or event). In a fluid situation which will be the norm, this transfer of control will probably not occur across the front at the same time. Therefore, it must be planned for and procedures established such as for collocation of DS battalion CPs, to ensure smooth transition.

Targeting. Targeting is similar for forward and rearward passages of lines.

For a forward passage of lines--

  • Screen enemy forward observation of passage.

  • Plan groups and/or series of targets on enemy direct fire systems, command and control, indirect fire systems, TA systems, and AD.

  • Plan fires to support the deception plan.

  • Plan smoke to screen friendly movement through passage points.

  • Plan fires to interdict enemy counterattacks in the area of passage and reinforcements.

  • Emphasize massing indirect fires.

  • Ensure the stationary force supports the close battle while the passing force indirect fire assets move through.

  • Ensure counterfire is planned and controlled by the stationary force.

  • Position COLTs of both forces to designate targets for precision guided munitions.

  • Plan fire support coordinating measures.

  • Use aerial fire support observers (AFSOs) to cover dead space and flanks.

  • Ensure the passing force plans fires to support operations after the passage of lines.

For a rearward passage--

  • Plan smoke to conceal movement through passage points.

  • Plan fires to disengage forces.

  • Plan fires to support the obstacle and barrier plans.

  • Plan fires to support the deception plan.

  • Plan fire support coordinating measures.

  • Ensure the stationary force supports the close battle while the passing force indirect fire assets move through.

  • Ensure counterfire is planned and controlled by the stationary force.

  • Plan fires on the passage points to be fired after friendly units have passed through.

  • Ensure the stationary force plans fires to support operations after the passage of lines.

Positioning of Field Artillery

Positioning is a critical task in the support of a passage of lines.

Forward Passage. The field artillery of the passing force should be infiltrated from the rear assembly area to the designated primary positions to support the operation. These positions should be near the passage lanes but not so close that they interfere with the maneuver force movement. On a forward passage, position priority goes to the passing force. During the passage of lines, the passing force FS cell and/or CPs collocate with the stationary force FS cell and/or CPs. The FSCOORD must coordinate FA position areas with the maneuver commander. Position areas forward of the passage points are away from the passage points. Their selection is based on the anticipated rate of movement of the maneuver forces and terrain availability.

Rearward Passage. The field artillery of the stationary force should be positioned well forward to provide deep fires to support the withdrawal of the passing force. Again, these positions should be away from passage lanes. In the rearward passage, the stationary force has positioning priority. As the passing force artillery moves through, it should position behind the stationary artillery and move laterally away from the passage lanes.


Close cooperation and coordination of plans between the commanders and staffs of the involved forces are mandatory. Once the passage of lines is ordered, the FSCOORD of the passing force in a forward passage of lines needs to send a liaison section to the FSCOORD of the force in contact. In a rearward passage, the FSCOORD of the stationary force needs to send a liaison section to the FSCOORD of the passing force. The FSCOORDs define and assign mutually agreed upon fire support responsibilities to facilitate the passage. It is important to remember that each unit will be in the area of responsibility of another unit for a period of time and that detailed coordination is vital to ensure each unit understands how the other operates. The two FSCOORDs need to share information and coordinate as follows:

  • Exchange unit SOPS, and resolve differences in operating procedures.

  • Exchange existing targets and fire plans.

  • Describe unit target acquisition assets.

  • Exchange high-payoff target matrix, attack guidance, and casualty criteria.

  • Exchange control measures in effect; for example, passage points, passage lanes, and contact points.

  • Exchange fire support coordinating measures currently in effect and those that will be in effect.

  • Coordinate recognition signals.

  • Provide information on obstacles and barriers.

  • Coordinate position areas.

  • Provide met information to passing force.

  • Provide available survey control to passing force.

  • Exchange SOIs, and resolve communications differences; for example, frequencies, call signs, and challenge and password.

  • Coordinate security measures in effect.

  • Exchange intelligence.

Deliberate River Crossing

Maneuver Tasks and Events

In the deliberate river crossing, maneuver tasks are as follows:

In the advance to the river--

  • The crossing site must be secured.

  • Control measures must be established.

  • Control must be transferred from the assault force to the crossing area commander, who controls the movement within the crossing area.

In an assault crossing of the river--

  • Support forces develop crossing sites, emplace crossing means, and control unit movement into and away from the crossing sites.

  • Defensible terrain is secured on the exit bank The area must be large enough to accommodate the assault force and other essential elements.

  • Follow-up forces provide overmatching direct and indirect fire support, crossing site security, and follow-and-support assistance to the assault force.

In the advance from the exit bank--

  • Assault forces lead, making the initial assault of the river and continuing to attack from the exit bank.

  • Support forces help the assault forces to the objective.

  • The assault force may make a hasty or deliberate attack from the exit bank.

In securing the bridgehead, CSS elements sustain the assault and subsequent advance to the bridgehead. When the bridgehead is secured, the river crossing is complete.

Fire Support Considerations

Fire Support Tasks. The following are fire support tasks in the deliberate river crossing:

  • Make fires immediately available to crossing forces.

  • Assign priority of fires to assault forces.

  • Plan smoke and suppression fires in greater than normal amounts if necessary.

  • Use smoke to screen both actual and dummy crossing sites.

  • Use smoke to obscure enemy direct fire positions in the bridgehead area until the crossing forces can engage them.

  • Suppress enemy forces in the bridgehead area until the assault force can provide its own suppressive fires.

  • Follow river-crossing SOP in planning fire support.

  • Use all available targeting assets to develop targets in the bridgehead area. A direct link between TA assets and supporting artillery should be considered.

  • Use target value analysis to help develop high-value targets and facilitate effective engagement of high-payoff targets.

  • Ensure that DS and reinforcing units move into the bridgehead area as soon as feasible behind the assault force. This maximizes range capability of the weapon system and enhances coordination.

NOTE: Movement by battalion is appropriate if
reinforcing FA is available.

Command and Control. Maneuver forces may move into temporary defensive positions pending the crossing. The massed units at the crossing site are vulnerable to indirect fire and counterattack. Fire support must be planned accordingly.

Procedures to request, control, and coordinate fires must be designated to provide continuous fire support when DS artillery battalions cross the river. The following considerations apply:

  • Designate and disseminate on-order fire support coordinating measures.

  • Ensure that advance coordination between GS and DS units addresses C3 considerations to facilitate a smooth transition.

  • Include all FS cells in the planning process.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. The width of the crossing area will affect the planning. The amount of time necessary to cross a river--hence, the vulnerability of the crossing force--will affect the types and volume of fires requested.

Prepare fire plans to soften enemy defenses at crossing sites and to seal off far bank positions. Fire planning should include the following:

  • Fires to facilitate the assault force securing the exit bank.

  • Preparations, groups, and series to support the operation as the assault force secures the bridgehead.

  • On-order fire support coordinating measures.

  • Interdiction fires to isolate the bridgehead area from enemy reinforcement.

Plan smoke to obscure actual and decoy crossing sites and to screen friendly movements. Mortars and artillery may be used to establish a smoke screen on the enemy side of the river. Smoke pots and generators will be required to establish large-area screens and to sustain a smoke screen to support the operation.

NOTE: Smoke created by almost any means will
pinpoint the area. Smoke used in river crossings
will draw the enemy's attention; therefore, it is
important that the smoke screen extends over
enough of the area so that the actual point of
crossing is not obvious to the enemy.

Relief in Place


Supported maneuver forces conduct a relief in place to remove units from combat. A deployed force is replaced by another unit, which assumes the mission and the assigned sector or zone of action of the outgoing unit.

The relief in place is executed in stages, from front to rear or rear to front. The incoming unit assumes the general defense plans of the relieved unit.

Secrecy is vital to success, as the operation must be conducted without weakening security. Normal patterns of activity must be maintained to deceive the enemy. The relief in place must be executed expeditiously, and it is normally conducted at night or during periods of limited visibility.

The following principles apply to all relief operations:

  • The relief sector remains under the control of the outgoing commander until all his forward elements are relieved (or as mutually agreed upon or directed).

  • Normally, the CP of the incoming commander is collocated with that of the outgoing commander.

  • Liaison and communications between outgoing and incoming FS cells are established.

  • SOPs are exchanged by outgoing and incoming units.

  • Existing fire plans are passed to the incoming FSCOORD.

  • Routes and times for the withdrawal of the outgoing field artillery are established.

Fire Support Considerations

Fire Support Tasks. The following are fire support tasks in a relief in place:

  • Arrange for an exchange of outgoing and incoming FS cell liaison personnel.

  • Provide incoming field artillery with existing fire plans.

  • Determine needs for smoke and other types of ammunition.

  • Establish how the outgoing field artillery will be relieved.

  • Establish how the outgoing field artillery will contribute.

Command and Control. Normally, the field artillery units will not be relieved at the same time as the maneuver forces. The change of fire support responsibilities is as agreed upon by the two FSCOORDs unless otherwise directed.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. The outgoing force passes fire plans to the incoming force so that plans can be continued. The following are specific tasks in fire support planning and coordination:

  • Prepare and disseminate plans to support the incoming force.

  • Make available to all concerned fire planning SOP items of the incoming force.

  • Make arrangements for the incoming force to use the targeting list and fire support means of the outgoing force.

  • Ensure that fires have been planned to support or emplace a barrier or 'an obstacle to slow advancing enemy.

  • Plan smoke to screen friendly movements.

  • Support the deception plan.

Encircled Forces


A force is considered encircled when all ground routes of evacuation and reinforcement have been cut by enemy action. A force may be ordered to remain in a strong position on key terrain to deny the enemy passage through a vital choke point following an enemy breakthrough, or it may be left to hold the shoulder of a penetration. In either case, it may become encircled.

When the encirclement occurs, the senior maneuver commander within the encirclement assumes control of all forces. He must quickly establish a viable defense, and fire support must be centralized.

If there is a breakout, it will be attempted as soon as possible. The longer the encircled force takes to reorganize and break out, the more organized the enemy becomes. The breakout is normally conducted during periods of darkness or limited visibility. Overwhelming combat power is focused at the breakout point. Tank-heavy or mechanized forces, when available and terrain permitting lead the attack. The rest of the forces fight a delaying action or defend the perimeter during the initial stages, FA units are integrated into the formations.

Fire Support Considerations

Fire Support Tasks. The following are fire support tasks in an encirclement:

  • Reorganize available fire support.

  • With the force commander, determine the most critical areas in defense, future breakout plans, and the amount of outside help available.

  • Prepare for the breakout.

Command and Control. Field artillery and mortars are centralized and positioned throughout the encirclement to limit vulnerability and mass fires. Communications are reestablished with FA units and higher and lower FS cells.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. The following are fire support planning and coordination tasks in the encirclement:

  • Plan fires for both the defense and the subsequent breakout.

  • Effect fire support coordination with FS cells outside the encircled area.

  • Use fire support for deception, if necessary.

  • Establish fire support coordinating measures (an RFL if necessary).

  • Use TACAIR and precision guided munitions during the breakout.

  • Plan massed fires at breakout points to enhance momentum.

Linkup Operations


Linkup operations join two friendly forces. They may be moving toward one another, or one may be stationary. It is a complex operation that requires detailed planning and coordination. Linkup operations often require a passage of lines when the linkup is made, the linkup force may join the stationary force or it may pass through or around and continue the attack.

The controlling headquarters of both forces establishes the command relationship between the two forces and the responsibilities for each. It also establishes the control measures to be used.

Forces that are linking up exchange as much information as is practical before an operation. Considerations may include--

  • Fire support needed before, during, and after the linkup.

  • Recognition signals and communications needs from both forces.

  • Future operations following the linkup.

Fire Support Considerations

Fire Support Tasks. The following are fire support tasks in the linkup:

  • Ensure all fire support personnel know the fire control measures and recognition signals for the linkup.

  • Ensure fire support personnel are continuously aware of the progress of the linkup forces.

Command and Control. Centralized control is desirable.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. The following are fire support planning and coordination considerations in the linkup operation:

  • Most planned fires are short of the RFL.

  • Targets beyond the RFL must be cleared by the controlling headquarters.

  • Smoke and illuminating fires must not cause adverse effects on the other friendly forces.

  • Fires must ensure the enemy force between the two friendly forces cannot escape. Use of FASCAM maybe considered to block enemy withdrawal.

  • Indirect fire weapons are positioned to allow them to mass fires at linkup points.

  • Positions should afford easy access to routes to be used after the linkup.

Security Operations


Security missions do counterreconnaissance tasks and prevent harassment, surprise, or sabotage by enemy forces. Units conducting security operations provide information about size, composition, location, and direction of movement of enemy forces. Reaction time and maneuver space gained by this information allow the main body to prepare and to deploy to engage the enemy. Security operations include--

  • Screening.

  • Guarding.

  • Covering (discussed with defensive operations).

  • Area security operations.

A screening force--

  • Maintains surveillance and gives early warning to the main body.

  • Impedes and harasses the enemy with supporting indirect fires.

  • Destroys enemy reconnaissance elements within its capability.

A guard force does all the tasks of a screening force and prevents enemy ground observation, direct fire, and surprise attack. A guard force reconnoiters, attacks, defends, and delays as necessary to give the main body time to react or to continue its mission. It can be conducted to the front, rear, or flanks of the main body and is normally done within friendly field artillery range.

Area security is normally associated with rear battle operations. It protects units, installations, facilities, and lines of communication from enemy attack or sabotage and reestablishes support capabilities.

Fire Support Considerations

Fire Support Tasks. Fire support must be highly responsive to the security forces. The following are fire support considerations:

  • Fire support means must be as mobile as the force being supported.

  • Fire support communications means must be flexible.

  • The requirement for stealth will often dictate the nature of operations.

Command and Control. As security forces may operate some distance forward of the main body, FA may be attached to the supported security forces.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. Fires should be planned to cover the security operations of the force. The following are considerations:

  • Fires may be used to screen movements or areas.

  • Illuminating fires may be needed during night operations.

  • AFSOs and sensors may be used.

  • TACAIR reconnaissance aircraft can assist in most operations.

  • Indirect fire weapons are positioned to allow massing of fires in the target areas of interest.

  • COLTs in overwatch positions should be used as designators for laser-guided munitions.

Reconnaissance Operations


Reconnaissance operations are used to gather information. There are three types of reconnaissance operations:

  • Route reconnaissance missions are assigned to gather detailed information about a specific route and all adjacent terrain or about an enemy force moving along a route.

  • Zone reconnaissance is a thorough reconnaissance of all routes and terrain within specified boundaries. It is made to report the location of all enemy forces within the unit zone.

  • Area reconnaissance is conducted when a commander needs information concerning a specific area, such as a town, proposed assembly area, or other feature that may be critical to an operation.

Fire Support Considerations

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 helps a reconnaissance force by--

  • Orienting on the location or movement of the recon objective.

  • Reporting all information quickly and accurately.

  • Helping the force retain freedom to maneuver.

  • Gaining and maintaining enemy contact.

  • Developing the situation quickly.

Command and Control. Attachment of FA may be considered.

Fire Support Planning and Coordination. The planning and coordination parallel those for security operations.

Mobility. Fire support must be as mobile as the supported force.

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