RECONNAISSANCE, SELECTION, AND OCCUPATION OF A POSITION
RECONNAISSANCE AND THE ADVANCE PARTY
Reconnaissance, selection and occupation of position ensures the rapid and orderly movement to and occupation of a firing position. On the battlefield, a sophisticated enemy can locate and engage a battery in various ways. To survive, we may have to move often. Frequent movement, however, reduces responsiveness; it necessitates greater reliance on other batteries to assume the mission during displacement. To minimize movement time, all key personnel must be able to do the reconnaissance, selection, organization, occupation, and movement tasks quickly and efficiently. The key to a successful RSOP is discipline and team effort. Reconnaissance is the examination of the terrain to determine its suitability for use in accomplishing the mission.
A continuous and aggressive reconnaissance is essential to timely and accurate fire support. The BC or his representative must continually perform this reconnaissance and plan ahead to meet any contingency. The BC must have a clear understanding of the tactical situation, of both friendly and enemy forces, while planning and executing any movement. The headquarters controlling the movement of the battery directs the essential elements of the movement--when, where, and how. The BC will advise the controlling headquarters of any factors to be considered in determining the essential elements of the move.
The battery commander may receive movement orders ranging from a five-paragraph operation order (OPORD) to a simple authenticated radio message. A movement order from higher headquarters should include the general location of the new position, the azimuth of fire, no earlier than (NET) time the unit can cease firing capability, no later than (NLT) time to be in position ready to fire, route (if applicable), and any specific instructions (danger areas, intelligence, alternate positions, movement techniques). Unit SOP should determine which, if any, of the above items are delegated to the battery commander.
Troop leading procedures (TLPs) provide a mental framework to ensure complete preparation, dissemination and execution of the battery mission. The process provides a checklist for the commander from receipt of the mission to execution. The steps may occur out of order or simultaneously after receipt of the mission.
a. Receive the Mission. Upon receipt of the FA support plan (FASP) or a warning order, the commander must analyze the mission in order to identify critical fire support tasks. He defines the task, purpose, method and success for each task to determine specific ammunition, logistics and unit preparation requirements. He should identify the precombat checks (PCCs) in priority that the sections must accomplish. A battery SOP should have PCCs that support routine tasks. These checklists streamline mission preparation. Finally, the commander needs to set a timeline for all critical events from issuing the warning order to execution.
b. Issue the Warning Order. The commander takes his battery mission, critical fire support tasks, PCC priorities and timeline and issues a warning order to maximize battery preparation time. Even incomplete information can allow the sections to accomplish most of their required preparations. A modified five paragraph order works well.
c. Make a Tentative Plan. The commander must gather information to make his plan by focusing on battery level METT-T and intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), if available. The commander is concerned with positioning, movement, logistic support, rehearsals and defense as he makes his plan.
d. Initiate Movement. If the mission requires repositioning, the commander should start his battery movement as early as possible (in accordance with METT-T) to make use of available time.
e. Conduct Reconnaissance. Depending on METT-T, the reconnaissance may be a simple map reconnaissance. Ideally, it will consist of ground reconnaissance, establishing and verifying survey control, fully preparing the position to receive the battery, and developing the battery defense. Coordination for survey, engineer support, route security, adjacent unit coordination, and fire support can be accomplished.
f. Complete the Plan. The commander must organize the information into a coherent order to issue to his sections. The level of detail is METT-T dependent, but as a minimum must convey the essential information to accomplish the critical fire support tasks. Prepare a terrain sketch or map board to use to issue the order. Rehearse to ensure a focused and clear delivery.
g. Issue the Order. Key players must be present for the brief. Headquarters and BOC personnel should attend so they understand their role. Be concise, but specific in the subunit missions to each section. Once complete, use backbrief techniques to make sure your orders and priorities are understood. Have the XO and other key leaders back brief you after they have had time to analyze and implement their part of the plan. State the specific items you will check or have another leader check. Update your time line and rehearsal schedule.
h. Supervise. This is the most important step. Leaders must conduct precombat inspections (PCIs) and spot-check the plan to ensure standards are met. In the defense especially, leaders must ensure weapons range cards, fighting positions, observation posts, and knowledge are to standard. Use subordinate leaders to assist, but the commander must conduct the priority PCIs. The requirements for effective PCIs are outlined in FM 7-123.
Note: Appendix C of this manual provides a sample battery field artilley support plan checklist, sample precombat checklists, a sample warning order, a mission analysis work sheet, and a sample battery operations order.
The BC is responsible for the overall RSOP. He or his representative performs general reconnaissance and leads the advance party. He selects a battery or two firing platoon positions and a battery trains position (if applicable). The gunnery sergeants will then conduct the detailed RSOPs for their locations.
The three methods by which the battery commander and platoon leaders may conduct a reconnaissance are map, air, and ground. The best reconnaissance is one which uses a combination of all three. Normally, the commander is able only to make a map inspection, followed by a ground reconnaissance.
a. Map Reconnaissance.
(1) Any reconnaissance begins with a map inspection. Potential positions and routes to the new position can be chosen. This method is very fast and allows unsuitable routes to be eliminated. In addition, likely ambush sites can be identified on the map. The BC or platoon leader can also determine an initial order of march for the howitzers. The rule he applies here is that the howitzer which will travel the farthest into the new position will be the first vehicle in the column. There are also two major disadvantages to conducting only a map inspection:
(a) Terrain and other features may have been altered. For example, a bridge shown on the map may no longer exist. Military load classifications of bridges are not listed on maps. Bridges must be physically inspected.
(b) The surface conditions of the route and position cannot be determined. For example, the ground may not support an Ml09A3-A6 howitzer or an Ml98 howitzer and its prime mover.
(2) If available, aerial photographs should be used to supplement maps. They are usually more recent, show more detail, and present a clear picture of the current condition of the terrain to be crossed.
(3) In addition to aerial photographs, the battery commander can ask his battalion S2 or higher headquarters intelligence section for products from the terra-base computer program concerning his subsequent position areas and routes.
b. Air Reconnaissance. If time and resources are available, information gained from an air reconnaissance may be very beneficial in the selection of routes to be used and areas to be occupied. Although a fast method, true surface conditions may not be distinguishable or may appear distorted. The battery commander must be careful that his flight plan does not compromise the route or the new position area. Normally this method will not be available to the battery commander.
c. Ground Reconnaissance. The best method of reconnaissance is the ground reconnaissance. The suitability of routes can be physically examined. The true condition of the terrain is especially critical if the surface has been affected by enemy action (NBC attack) and/or weather conditions. The ground reconnaissance is the slowest method.
To maximize the tactical benefit, the reconnaissance must be thoroughly planned. As part of the planning phase for any operation order or RSOP, the factors of METT-T must be considered before any action is taken.
a. Mission. The mission is the governing factor in planning the RSOP. The unit must remain able to perform its mission with minimal degradation as a result of tactical or survivability moves. The battery commander must perform, or have previously done, his mission analysis with respect to his current and subsequent positions. Then he can identify the battery's critical tasks in each of these positions, and determine a list of movement and positioning criteria.
- The battery cannot lose firing capability. Therefore, the battery must move by platoon.
- Battery is out of range to execute their portion of the fire support plan. Therefore, move by battery using fastest movement technique.
- Battalion has two batteries moving at the same time. The battery could receive an emergency mission. Therefore, the battery must consider an internal platoon order of march and perform a reconnaissance of areas along the planned route to assist the battery on meeting this contingency.
b. Enemy Situation. The current enemy situation must be thoroughly understood. The disposition, intentions, and capabilities of enemy forces must be analyzed before the RSOP, particularly their local capabilities as revealed in current combat information.
Enemy Situation Examples:
1. If the most likely enemy action during the battery's movement is from air attack, then:
- The BC requests a change to the given route to support a terrain march for certain segments of the planned route where there is not adequate concealment for the battery.
- The route must allow the march units to conduct their immediate action drills for air attack.
- A route reconnaissance must be performed to determine easily identifiable features to serve as air target reference points (TRPs).
- If a terrain march is too slow, move in an open column.
2. If the most dangerous enemy action during the battery's movement is ambush, then:
- Each march element, to include the reconnaissance and advance parties, must lead with an armored vehicle and/or crew served weapon.
- Coordinate with higher headquarters to determine possible ambush sites and clear those areas so that advance parties or main bodies can conduct reconnaissance by fire.
Positioning Criteria Examples:
1. If the most likely threat in the subsequent position is enemy counter-battery fire, then the battery commander must ensure position areas support maximum dispersion and hardening.
2. If the most dangerous threat to the battery in the subsequent position is from mechanized forces, then:
- The battery commander must ensure the position is not located on platoon-sized or larger avenues of approach.
- He must perform a reconnaissance of possible observation posts (OP) to provide for early warning to execute hasty displacements or the activation of howitzer direct fire and/or tank-killer teams.
- He must make a reconnaissance of the position area for supplemental positions for howitzer direct fire and/or tank-killer teams.
- He must make a reconnaissance to determine if the position provides adequate defilade and terrain masking.
c. Terrain and Weather. The BC and/or platoon leaders must analyze the routes to be used by the unit assets and the time and distance required to make the move. The ability to move one firing platoon while keeping the other in position and firing is critical to the platoon-based operations and the accomplishment of the battery mission. Moving the battery over long, difficult routes requires well planned, coordinated movement orders and unit SOPs. The effects of the weather on the terrain to be crossed must be analyzed to facilitate rapid movement. Weather affects visibility (fog, haze) and trafficability (ice, rain-softened ground).
d. Troops. The current troop strength and level of training must be considered. The mission may not change; but the troops available to accomplish it will. As the other factors of METT-T vary, so will the number of troops necessary perform the mission. Because of casualties and these varying conditions, adjustments must be made during the planning phase.
e. Time. The amount of time available for the RSOP will effect all phases of its accomplishment. The time factor will change due to events on the battlefield. Whether minutes or hours are allowed for the RSOP, adjustments must be made.
The reconnaissance party should consist of enough individuals to accomplish successful RSOP. An example of a reconnaissance party is: the commander, the GSG, and representatives from each howitzer FDC; and support section. If enough survey or position azimuth determining system (PADS) sections are available, a survey capability should be allocated to the commander. This capability will depend upon survey priority established by the battalion S3. The commander of a firing battery chooses position areas for the platoons or the battery and determines the azimuth of fire. The GSG then performs detailed position area RSOP.
For either a deliberate or a hasty occupation, a prearranged signal or procedure should be used to alert and assemble the advance party. The signal should be in the unit SOPs, which will also list the personnel, equipment, vehicles, and place of assembly (See Tables 2-1 and 2-2). The advance party is assembled no later than the prepare-to march-order phase.
Depending upon the mission and tactical situation, the BC may direct that a howitzer section go forward with the advance party. Reasons for taking howitzers forward may be:
- To confuse enemy moving target locating radars, as part of the infiltration plan.
- To determine the suitability of the route and firing position when conditions are doubtful.
- To conduct a registration or an offset registration.
a. Before departing to reconnoiter the new position, the BC briefs the platoon leaders and other key personnel on the movement information.
- Enemy situation. Rear area activity. Major avenues of approach. Air activity. Potential ambush sites.
- Friendly situation. Changes in tactical missions and locations of friendly maneuver units and supporting artillery.
- Mission: Changes in the mission of the supported maneuver unit and supporting artillery.
- Concept of the operation. General location of the battery and/or platoon positions, azimuth of fire, routes, order of march, location of start point (SP) and RP and times.
- Mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) status.
- Areas of known chemical and/or nuclear contamination.
- Administration and logistics: When and where to feed unit personnel, priority for maintenance recovery, ammunition resupply, and refuel location.
- Command and signal:
- Command: Changes in location of the battalion command post (CP) and battalion support operations center, and the location of battery commander. It also includes a contingency plan if the BC does not return or report back by a predetermined time or event.
- Signal: Movement radio frequencies and net control restrictions. Signals for immediate actions at the halt and during movement.
b. After being briefed by the BC, the platoon leader or XO briefs the remaining key personnel by using the movement order format in Figure 2-1.
a. After making a map inspection, planning the the reconnaissance, and briefing the necessary personnel, the BC is now ready to make a ground reconnaissance. Accompanied by the advance party, the BC or his representative departs on the route reconnaissance. The primary purpose of this reconnaissance is to determine the suitability of the route of the units movement. Items to be analyzed include possible alternate routes, cover, concealment, location of obstacles, likely ambush sites, contaminated areas, route marking requirements, and the time and distance required to traverse the route.
b. Once these areas are analyzed, any information considered pertinent should be sent back to the firing unit. Radio traffic must be carefully monitored to ensure that information does not compromise unit movement.
SELECTING THE NEW POSITION
The BC selects a battery position or two firing platoon position areas and the battery trains area (if needed). Once the general areas have been determined, the gunnery sergeants conduct the detailed RSOP of their respective position areas and select alternate and supplementary positions. Position selection considerations are discussed below.
a. Mission. This is the most important consideration. The position must facilitate fire throughout the maximum area of the supported maneuver force.
b. Communications. The position must facilitate communications with stations within assigned and monitored radio nets.
c. Defilade. Defilade is protection from enemy observation and direct fire weapons by use of a terrain mask. Defilade positions should be used; however they should not be so close to the mask that low-angle fire capabilities are restricted.
d. Defensibility. The position should facilitate both active and passive defense so that it:
- Can be entered without enemy observation.
- Offers effective cover and concealment, with emphasis on concealment. Also, survivability positions can also be dug by engineers to enhance both cover and concealment.
- Avoids high-speed enemy approaches.
- Has more than one entrance and exit route, preferably in the rear of the position.
e. Trafficability. Soil should be firm enough to support all vehicles.
f. Weather. The effects of weather on terrain must be considered.
g. Survey Control. Survey must be established or it must be available in a short amount of time.
The BC or platoon leader must select primary, alternate, and supplementary positions.
a. A primary position is one from which the firing element will accomplish its assigned mission.
b. An alternate position is the one to which the unit moves in case its primary position becomes untenable. Since the unit will continue its mission from the alternate position, it must meet the same requirements as the primary position and should be far enough away to escape the effects of enemy indirect fire on the primary position. It should be reconnoitered and prepared for occupation. Each section chief must know the route to the alternate position, because movement to that position may be by section.
c. A supplementary position is one selected for accomplishment of a specific mission, such as offset registration, adjustment with a roving gun, or defense of the primary position.
(1) Supplementary position(s) for defense should be selected to cover likely enemy avenues of approach.
(2) Position(s) for offset registrations and roving guns should be far enough away so that counterfire will not affect the primary position.
ORGANIZING THE NEW POSITION
a. Having arrived in the new position area, the advance party conducts a security sweep and prepares the position for occupation. The purpose of the advance party security with METT-T and the absence of enemy, mines, booby traps, NBC hazards, and so on. Natural cover must be used to the maximum. Security is continuous throughout advance party operations.
b. The advance party is not normally manned or equipped sweep is to perform position area reconnaissance to confirm to clear areas of organized enemy activity, mines, or NBC its suitability for occupation by the main body in accordance hazards. If these threats or conditions are present in the proposed position area, the advance party breaks contact with any enemy forces or marks minefield and hazards and moves on to find another position area. The battery commander can coordinate for additional assets, or augment the advance party with internal assets, to provide the additional ability to clear areas of small enemy forces, obstacles, and minefield.
c. The following are some tactics, techniques, procedures, and considerations units should incorporate when performing advance party security sweeps.
(a) Sight. Advance party members look for:
- Enemy personnel, vehicles, and aircraft.
- Sudden or unusual movement.
- Smoke or dust.
- Engine exhaust fumes.
- Unusual movement of farm or wild animals.
- Vehicle tracks.
- Signs or evidence of enemy occupation.
- Recently cut foliage or vegetation.
- Lights, fires, or reflections.
- Muzzle flashes.
(b) Hearing. Advance party members listen for:
- Running engines.
- Track sounds.
- Metallic sounds.
- Dismounted movement through brush or woods.
(c) Smell. Advance party members smell for:
- Cooking food.
- Vehicle exhaust.
- Burning petroleum products.
- Burning tobacco products.
d. Advance parties use reconnaissance methods that they have trained and rehearsed in detail. The correct reconnaissance technique will maximize security and mission accomplishment.
(1) Mounted reconnaissance of a position area should be used when:
- Terrain is open and provides maximum visibility.
- Time is limited.
- Very detailed reconnaissance is not required.
- Minefield and obstacles in the area are not expected.
- Enemy contact is not likely.
The advantages of a mounted reconnaissance include:
- The use of the advance party vehicle, depending on which type of vehicle is used (radio, GPS, possible armor protection, firepower).
- Easy to break contact and move on.
The disadvantages of a mounted reconnaissance include:
- Loss of stealth.
- Loss of some reconnaissance detail.
(2) Dismounted reconnaissance is used when:
- Detailed reconnaissance is required.
- Maximum stealth is necessary.
- Enemy contact is expected or likely.
- Terrain is restrictive or is surrounded by wooded areas.
- Time is not limited.
- Mines are likely in the area.
The advantages of a dismounted reconnaissance include:
- Allows the advance party to obtain detailed information about the position area.
- Less chance of enemy stay-behind forces remaining undetected.
- Allows for maximum security of the advance party.
The disadvantages of a dismounted reconnaissance include:
- Time consuming.
- Difficult to overwatch entire advance party with a crew-served weapon.
- Advance party is removed from the support of their vehicle (comm, GPS, and so on).
- More difficult to command and control.
(3) In reconnaissance by fire, advance parties place direct fire on positions where there is a reasonable suspicion of enemy occupation; the goal is to cause the enemy to disclose his presence by movement or returning fire. Advance parties use this technique when enemy contact is expected and time is limited. Reconnaissance by fire does not work in all cases. For example, disciplined troops in prepared positions will not react to the advance party's fires. Some situations in which reconnaissance by fire may be employed include:
- Bunker complexes that may or may not be occupied.
- Existence of an obvious enemy kill zone.
- Signs of recent enemy activity.
Key considerations for reconnaissance by fire include:
Indirect fire is very difficult to coordinate and requires much more time to execute and control.
- Direct fire will disclose the advance party's location.
- Requires a high degree of situational awareness to ensure that no friendly units are fired upon or return fire.
(4) Some situations might dictate a combination of mounted and dismounted reconnaissance. In any case, battery commanders and gunnery sergeants can use the following guidelines to ensure maximum security and mission accomplishment:
Always use an element with appropriate firepower to overwatch the reconnaissance party.
- If possible, use prominent terrain to gain a vantage point to visually sweep the area with binoculars or night vision devices prior to entering.
- If dismounting, select a concealed, secure, dismount site well outside the position area.
- Develop and rehearse a contingency plan for each security sweep.
e. The following are positioned in the battery or firing platoon area:
- Howitzer locations.
- The aiming circle.
- FDC or POC.
- MX-155 or TM-184 terminal strip.
- M8A1 automatic chemical agent alarm.
f. If the battery support elements are present, they will be positioned with full consideration for survivability and operability as the tactical situation dictates. FM 6-20-1 presents information and guidance on determining positions for CSS elements.
a. The factors of METT-T must always be considered when howitzers are emplaced. The main emphasis is on mission and enemy. The artillery will most likely face a general threat of counterfire, air attack, ground attack, and radio electronic combat. To counter that threat, the BC or platoon leader must consider techniques such as dispersion, movement, hardening, and concealment when selecting positions for his howitzer.
b. The enemy counterfire threat and air attack threat may be so great that the BC or platoon leader will consider dispersing his howitzers over a large area and maximizing the natural cover and concealment offered by the local terrain. This type of howitzer positioning is called terrain gun positioning (Figure 2-2). The capabilities of the LCU and battery computer system (BCS) to compute individual piece locations have enhanced terrain gun positioning.
c. The enemy ground attack, guerrilla, and special forces threats may cause the BC to position the howitzers in a tight and defensible position area. Key personnel in the battery must consider hardening and unit defense. The diamond formation in platoon-based units (Figure 2-3) and the star formation in battery-based units (Figure 2-4) are optimal in these circumstances. They provide excellent 6400-mil firing and unit defense capabilities.
d. Linear formations such as the "line" and "lazy W" can best be used during situations such as emergency and hasty occupations which require immediate fire support. These formations provide an optimum standard sheaf in the target area and offer excellent command and control. However, they are vulnerable to air attack. Position improvement such as dispersion and concealment should be considered as time and the tactical situation permit.
e. The bumper number of a particular howitzer section is associated with each howitzer number (1 through 8). This association does not change from position to position. If a howitzer becomes disabled or lost en route to a new location, its associated howitzer number and all other howitzer numbers do not change. For example, once a weapon is designated Number 7, it remains Number 7. The LCU and BCS are initialized with individual howitzer muzzle velocity data which corresponds to a specific howitzer. Use of this procedure allows convenience in referring to pieces based on location and at the same time eliminates the requirement to vary the data base in each position. The howitzers are numbered from right to left and from front to rear when facing the azimuth of fire.
PREPARATION FOR OCCUPATION
a. The BC finalizes his plan of occupation. He gives priority to performing those tasks that facilitate immediate fire support. The plan is not limited to, but should include, the following:
- The general location for the FDC or POC and howitzer positions.
- The azimuth of fire materialized by a terrain feature or by pointing his vehicle in the direction of fire.
- Entrance and exit points and guidance to the gunnery sergeant for the track plan.
- Guidance on the scheme of defense.
- Location of the ground guide pickup point.
b. The first sergeant or gunnery sergeant establishes the track plan, organizes the vehicle dispersal area, selects a position for each element in the service area, and plans the defense of the position. Considerations are as follows:
(1) Use existing roads.
(2)Select separate exit and entrance routes.
(3) Ensure routes follow natural terrain features such as gullies and tree lines and take advantage of natural overhead cover and concealment.
(4) Brief vehicle guides on the track plan. If concealment is critical, the gunnery sergeant may dictate the exact route of each vehicle. In SP units, sharp pivoting, which will disrupt ground cover, must be avoided.
c. The gunnery sergeant does the following:
(1) He sets up and orients the aiming circle where it will have line of sight to the howitzers. If survey is available, he directs the survey team to emplace an orienting station (ORSTA) where it will have line of sight to the howitzers and an end of orienting line (EOL) where it can be easily identified from the ORSTA. Additionally, he briefs the survey team on any marking requirements, in addition to unit SOP, necessary for the EOL. He then sets up the aiming circle over the ORSTA and verifies survey, by measuring the azimuth to the EOL (direction) and map spot/GPS (position and altitude), before releasing the survey team.
(2) As soon as the gun guides emplace panoramic telescope (pantel) marking stakes, the gunnery sergeant measures and records the initial deflection to each stake and records the azimuth (az) to the howitzer on DA Form 2698-R (Figure 2-5). Priority is to announce the initial deflection to each gun guide over the wire line to check communications. If wire is not in, gun guides will come to the aiming circle and record the initial deflection. The gun guide gives his initial deflection to his gunner and section when the platoon arrives.
(3) He determines the distance and the vertical angle (VA) to each howitzer (see Chapter 4).
(4) Having determined the deflection, VA, and distance from the aiming circle to each weapon, the gunnery sergeant gives the data (Figure 2-5) to the FDC representative. The data are applied to the M-17 plotting board for computation of TGPCs (see Appendix D).
(5) He obtains site to crest and piece to crest range from each gun guide. He then determines XO's min QE for the lowest preferred charge the unit expects to fire in the position. Add a 20 mil safety factor to allow for the accuracy of the M2 compass.
d. Each gun guide does the following:
(1) He emplaces the pantel marking stake in the designated location. This stake marks the location of the pantel of the weapon.
(2) He stops the weapon parallel to the guide stake or tape so that when the weapon is emplaced, the pantel will be over the hole left by the pantel marking stake. The proper emplacement of the pantel marking stake and guide stakes for SP units is shown in Figure 2-6 and for towed units in Figure 2-7.
(3) Lays wire from the TM-184 to his cannon position and hooks up to his TA-312 telephone.
(4) Receives and records the deflection to his pantel marking stake.
(5) He helps the GSG determine the distance from the aiming circle to his gun position. The primary means of determining distance from the aiming circle to each howitzer position is the subtense method, With this technique, the gun guide positions a 2-meter subtense bar (see Table 5-6) or M-16 rifle (see Table 5-7) over the pantel marking stake while the GSG measures the angle. If necessary, the gun guide paces the distance from his howitzer position to the aiming circle and reports the distance to the GSG. He double-checks the distance by pacing back from the aiming circle to the pantel marking stake.
(6) He determines site to crest by using the M2 compass or M2A2 aiming circle (see chapter 4). He then determines piece-to-crest range and relays site to crest and piece-to-crest range to the GSG.
(7) He walks the track plan as directed by the GSG. He walks the selected route from the battery or platoon entry point to the howitzer position and makes sure that there are no obstacles. He uses the existing roads and trails. Selected routes should follow natural terrain features, such as gullies and tree lines, and should take advantage of cover and concealment.
(8) He takes up a defensive position as directed by the GSG.
(9) He and the other gun guides assemble at the pickup point when directed by the GSG.
e. The FDC or POC representative does the following:
- Emplaces the TM-184 (when the communications representative is not present).
- Lays wire from the TM-184 to the FDC position.
- Guides the FDC or POC vehicle into position.
- Erects the OE-254 antenna.
- Over a secure radio, relays survey and lay data to the main body.
f. The communications representative does the following:
- Emplaces the TM-184.
- Ensures that all other wire lines are laid, tagged, and properly connected to the TM-184, and lays wire to the aiming circle.
- Assists with erection of the OE-254 antenna.
Note: The communications representative's first priority is to establish internal wire communications to transmit firing data. His second priority is to establish communications with outposts and make drops at various other locations the GSG indicates.
a. When the advance party has limited time to prepare a position, the BC or GSG must establish priority tasks. As a minimum, he must ensure the following:
(1) Cannon positions are selected.
(2) Aiming circle is set up.
(3) Cannon positions are prepared, to include placing of howitzer and pantel marking stakes and recording of initial deflections.
(4) Minimum essential internal wire communications are established.
(5) Attempt is made to pass survey and lay data to the main body.
b. Duties are decentralized. As soon as the BC or GSG selects the position, the gun guides select positions for their howitzers.
c. The battery commander's or GSG's driver is left at the release point to guide the entire platoon into position. Gun guides meet their vehicles as they approach their positions.
d. The FDC or POC representative and the GSG conduct their normal duties as much as time permits.
Night occupation priorities are similar to daylight occupations. However, they require more planning, more time, and additional techniques to ensure a smooth and orderly occupation.
a. Gunnery Sergeant. The GSG is especially concerned with noise and light discipline, security, and communications between advance party members.
b. Gun Guides. Guides must be thoroughly briefed and should pace their routes before and after darkness. They should be equipped with filtered flashlights to guide the vehicles. Color coding of individual howitzer sections will facilitate section identification during night operations (example: first or fifth section-blue, second or sixth section-red, third or seventh section-yellow, and forth or eighth section-green). Light discipline must be controlled.
a. DA Form 5969-R (samples in Figures 2-8 and 2-9) enables the platoon leader to consolidate information in preparation of his report and in his determination and verification of the minimum QE. The report should contain the following information:
- Date-time group (DTG).
- Howitzer number and bumper number.
- Azimuth of fire.
- Lay deflection (from the lay circle or other howitzer number).
- Distance from the lay circle to the howitzer.
- Site to crest (in mils).
- Distance to crest (in meters).
- Crest object (such as a tree or ridge line).
- Minimum quadrant elevation.
- Maximum quadrant elevation.
- Left and right deflection limits.
- Propellant temperature.
- Sensitive items.
- Ammunition status, which consists of projectile types, square weights, amounts, and lot numbers; fuze types and amounts; and primer types and amounts.
b. The report is required for each position area or firing point occupied. For centralized control of the report, the section chief will submit the report directly to the FDC. The position commander and FDO will take necessary actions.
A tactical march is the movement of a unit or elements of a unit under actual or simulated combat conditions. There are several methods of moving the platoon in a tactical configuration. Each method has its specific advantages and disadvantages. The BC or platoon leader decides which method or combination of methods is best. The methods discussed in this section are open column, close column, infiltration, and terrain march.
The open column road movement is used for daylight movements when there is an adequate road network that is not overcrowded, when enemy detection is not likely, when time is an important factor, and when there is considerable travel distance involved. Vehicle interval in an open column is generally 100 meters.
a. Advantages of this method are as follows:
- Speed (the fastest method of march).
- Reduced driver fatigue.
- Improved vision on dusty roads.
- Ease in passing individual vehicles.
- Ease in dispersing vehicles as a passive defense measure against an air attack.
- Less chance of the entire unit being ambushed.
b. Disadvantages of this method are as follows:
- Greater column length requires more road space.
- Other traffic often becomes interspersed in the column.
- Communication within the column is complicated.
For close column movement, the vehicle interval is less than 100 meters. At night each driver can observe the "cat-eyes" of the blackout markers on the vehicle in front of him and maintain an interval of 20 to 50 meters (Figure 2-10). If the driver sees two marker lights, the interval is too great. If the driver sees eight marker lights, he is too close. If the driver sees four marker lights, he is maintaining the proper interval. During daylight, close column is used when there is a need for maximum command and control; for example, during periods of limited visibility or when moving through built-up or congested areas.
a. Advantages of this method are as follows:
- Simplicity of command and control.
- Reduced column length.
- Concentration of defensive firepower.
b. Disadvantages of this method are as follows:
- Column is vulnerable to enemy observation and attack.
- Strength and nature of the column are quickly apparent to enemy observers.
- Convoy speed is reduced.
- Driver fatigue increases.
When the platoon moves by infiltration, vehicles are dispatched individually or in small groups without reference to a march table. This technique is time-consuming and the vehicles are difficult to control. It is used when the enemy has good target acquisition means and quick reaction capabilities.
a. Advantages of this method are as follows:
- Least vulnerable to hostile observation.
- Ideal for covert operations.
- Provides passive defense against air and artillery attack.
- Deceives the enemy as to the size of the unit.
b. Disadvantages of this method are as follows:
- Most difficult to command and control.
- Small elements are more vulnerable to ground attack.
- Individual vehicles may get lost.
The terrain march is an off-road movement. A unit using this type of movement should travel close to tree lines, along gullies, and close to hill masses (see Figure 2-11). A terrain march should be conducted when enemy observation or interdiction by artillery fire or air attack is likely. A platoon may move safely on a road for some distance and change to a terrain march at a point where enemy observation becomes likely or vehicle congestion provides the enemy an inviting target.
a. Advantages of this method are as follows:
- Strength and nature of a column are difficult to determine.
- Avoids traffic.
- Provides passive defense against air and artillery attack.
b. Disadvantages of this method are as follows:
- Displacement time may be increased.
- Ground reconnaissance is required.
- Soil conditions may complicate this type of movement.
- Improper movement leaves wheel or track marks to the new position.
- Extensive coordination is required to avoid traveling through other unit areas.
c. The battery using the terrain march may move in open or close column or by infiltration. The battery can displace either as a unit or by echelon. Continuous fire support is essential.
PREPARING FOR MOVEMENT
The details given in a march order depend on the time available, the tactical situation, and traffic conditions. The order may be supplemented by strip maps, sketches, and march tables. The main items in a march order are based on the battery commander's reconnaissance order. They are as follows:
- Organization, to include order of march and composition of the column.
- Instructions from the XO or platoon leader to the main body. These should include start point, checkpoints, designated rally points, release point, times for arrival at and clearance of these points, rate of march, vehicle interval, route of march, order of march, and review of immediate actions to take in case of trouble.
- General instructions regarding restrictions on use of roads, maximum speed of march units, catch-up speeds, alternate routes, detours, use of lights and any special instructions regarding march discipline or defense against air or ground attack.
- Communication instructions regarding the use of radio, messengers, flags, whistle or horn signals, pyrotechnic signals, and hand and arm signals.
A load plan prescribes efficient loading of personnel and equipment for movement. Each vehicle should have one. A good load plan is insurance that a unit will move into the new position with all its equipment. The load plan for a vehicle must be such that the equipment most essential to the mission is loaded last. The load plan should be recorded and graphically portrayed. Load plans should be identical between like sections within the same battalion. The load plan should be combat configured (complete rounds), based on the "go to war" basic load. Steps in preparing the load plan include the following:
- Examining the battery TOE to determine the personnel, equipment, and vehicles authorized for each section.
- Carrying non-TOE property in the section responsible for using it.
- Listing the personnel and equipment to be carried in each vehicle. Equipment should be located to facilitate identification under blackout conditions.
- Practice loadings to test the validity of the load plan.
- Establishing a list of items that must be removed from. the vehicle and carried forward if the vehicle becomes disabled.
- Using load plans. Operator manuals and Appendix E of this publication present examples.
- Indicating that howitzers and ammunition vehicles use separate camouflage nets.
When the command PREPARE TO MARCH ORDER is given, everything possible will be done to quickly displace the unit. However, these actions must not hamper the ability to continue to deliver fire. Actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Stow section equipment.
Note: The collimator and any equipment or item forward of the howitzers remains in place until receipt of the final command MARCH-ORDER.
b. Upload all ammunition. Transload ammunition from the ammunition vehicle to the howitzer to allow maximum ammunition availability at the next position.
c. Stow camouflage nets.
d. Load all service elements (mess, maintenance, and so forth).
e. Ensure that security is continuous.
The organization of the battery or platoon column varies according to the tactical situation, the threat, and the position area to be occupied. The following points should be considered:
a. In areas where enemy attack is probable, the cannons should be dispersed throughout the entire column.
b. If feasible, there should be two air guards per vehicle. One scans the sky forward of the vehicle while the other scans the sky rearward.
c. Machine guns should be distributed evenly throughout the column and should be aimed alternately to the left and right sides of the route of march.
d. Unit instructions should specify that some personnel fire 3-5 round bursts and some personnel fire on semiautomatic to maintain continuous fire.
e. The NBC detecting and monitoring equipment should be located with the lead vehicle of the convoy. The unit could upgrade its MOPP level during movement.
CONDUCTING THE MARCH
a. Officers and NCOs ride where they can best control the march. The senior person in each vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all orders concerning the march are carried out.
b. Key personnel should disperse throughout the column. This should preclude losing a disproportionate number of these persons as a result of enemy action.
c. The column must keep moving. Procedures for the pick up of mission-essential personnel and equipment if a vehicle breaks down should be indicated in the unit SOP. For example, the driver stays with the vehicle and the maintenance representative stops to help. If the disabled vehicle cannot be repaired in a reasonable time or recovered by the platoon, the position and condition of the vehicle are reported to the BC for recovery. The maintenance representative must proceed along the route of march as soon as possible to be available to the rest of the platoon.
d. Each vehicle commander is responsible to watch for signs, markers, signals, and other traffic.
e. The specific objective of march discipline is to ensure intelligent cooperation and effective teamwork by march personnel. Teamwork includes the following:
- Immediate and effective response to all signals.
- Prompt relaying of all signals.
- Obedience to traffic regulations and control personnel.
- Use of cover, concealment, camouflage, dispersion, blackout precautions, smoke, and other protective measures against air, ground, armor, and NBC attack.
- Maintaining correct speeds, positioning, and intervals between vehicles within the column.
- Ability to recognize route marking signals and signs.
The control measures discussed below help in convoy movement:
a. The start point is normally a geographical feature identifiable on the ground and on a map. The first vehicle of the convoy must cross the start point at the specified start time. The BC is responsible for determining the route to the start point and the time it will take to get there. If the unit is displacing as part of a battalion move, the start point is also the point at which control of the marching element is normally assumed by battalion.
b. Normally, a checkpoint is a geographical feature identifiable on the ground and on a map. It is used in reporting progress along the route of march. It may be used as a target when planning fires in defense of the convoy.
c. Normally, the release point is normally a geographical feature identifiable on the ground and on a map. The last vehicle of a convoy must cross the RP at the specified time. The BC is responsible for determining the route from the RP to the new position area. If the unit is displacing as part of a battalion move, the RP is also the point at which control of the marching element is regained by the platoon. The BC or GSG may send a vehicle from the advance party to the release point to lead the unit into the new position area.
d. A pickup point is a location, normally within the position, where the gun guide meets the howitzer and guides it into position.
e. Normally, a rally point is a geographical feature identifiable on the ground and on a map. It is used as a point of assembly and recovery from dispersion due to enemy attack. The designated rally point(s) should be located near or on the alternate route to the new position.
f. Route marking aids in the move. The route-marking detail marks the route by posting signs and/or personnel at those critical locations where elements of the march might make a wrong turn. Details concerning traffic control and route marking are presented in FM 55-30 and FM 19-25.
g. Predetermined signals should be established to aid in convoy control. Colored flags in daylight and flashlights at night can aid in simple but important communications within the column. (See FM 21-60.)
a. During administrative marches, halts are made at regular intervals or at selected sites. They allow personnel to rest, to service the vehicles, and to check the loads. Normally, halts are not scheduled for tactical marches.
b. During extended vehicle marches, wooded areas, built-up areas, and appropriate terrain should be selected as halting places. They provide concealment and do not present a straight line of vehicles for attack by enemy aircraft. Avoid stopping near crossroads, railroads, and other easily identifiable reference points.
a. Immediate Action Procedures. A unit must always assume that it is a high-priority target and vulnerable to all kinds of attack while moving. Preplanned immediate actions can decrease vulnerability. In establishing immediate action procedures, the BC or platoon leader should consider the following:
- The enemy situation-with what he expects to be attacked.
- The organic resources for countering the different types of attack.
- The nonorganic support available for countering attacks.
- The amount of time available for training the platoon in the particular immediate actions (for example, infantry squad tactics in response to a blocked ambush).
- The type of communications to be employed with the immediate actions-flags, radio, arm and hand signals, and so forth.
- How best to neutralize the attack.
- Planned fires along the route of march.
b. March Column Under Artillery Attack. The immediate actions in defense against hostile artillery fire are to move out of the danger zone, report the situation to higher headquarters, and request immediate counterfire. If a platoon expects hostile artillery fire during the march, it can reduce its vulnerability by moving--
- By open column or infiltration.
- Under the cover of darkness or during other periods of reduced visibility.
- By terrain march.
c. March Column Under Air Attack. In the event of an air attack, all available personnel should engage the aircraft immediately. On order of the convoy commander, the column either disperses or halts. If ordered to halt, vehicles should disperse alternately off both sides of the road. A high-performance aircraft cannot be engaged effectively by leading it with low-volume, independent small arms fire. As the aircraft approach, all personnel fire their weapons in the air to form a wall of bullets through which the aircraft must fly.
d. Roadblocks. An element may be halted by a roadblock. The maximum amount of firepower available, including howitzer direct fire, should be placed immediately on the roadblock and on both sides of the roadblock. If nonorganic support, such as close air support, covering artillery, or armor is available, it should be called on immediately to help. If the roadblock cannot be neutralized, the unit must try to disengage under cover of supporting fires. Upon disengaging, the element should meet at a designated rally point and resume its march by an alternate route. An attempt to crash vehicles through a roadblock before it is checked for mines may result in unnecessary losses and a complete blocking off of the road by disabled vehicles.
(b) Unblocked ambush. In an unblocked ambush, the element should increase speed and move through the ambush area while placing the maximum amount of small arms and automatic weapons fire on the attackers and report.
(2) A consideration in employment of the main armament of the howitzer from the kill zone is that the targets may be too close for proper fuze action. Only the 105-mm antipersonnel round (M546) can be set for muzzle action to engage targets close to the weapon.
(3) If the area was identified during the map inspection as a likely ambush site, on-call fires are executed. Otherwise, a fire request is sent immediately to the battalion FDC.
(4) If the ambush or any other enemy action is of such magnitude as to cause the column to break up, individual elements should proceed to the new position or designated rally point on their own.
a. Detailed descriptions of the various types of movements and marches are in the following manuals:
- FM 55-30, which includes information on the organization of motor movements, the movement of personnel, and the planning of motor movements.
- FM 100-50.
- FM 101-10-1, which includes planning guidance for movements.
b. When the unit moves by rail, air, or water, it normally moves as an element of the FA battalion or with a supported unit. In any case, the battery receives detailed instructions in the form of a movement order or pertinent extracts from the movement order. A warning order alerts the battery and gives enough information of the impending movement for the battery to make plans and to take the necessary preliminary action. The references listed below provide adequate information for the following types of movement:
- Movement by rail--FM 55-15, TM 55-601.
- Movement by air--FM 55-9, FM 55-12, FM 90-4, and FM 101-10-1.
- Movement by water- FM 55-15 and FM 101-10-1.
The BC ensures that movement procedures are included in the unit SOPs. He should consider the following items before establishing a movement SOP:
- Tips on establishing a realistic movement SOP (paragraph 2-41).
- References identified in this chapter.
- STANAG 2041 and QSTAG 520, Operation Orders, Tables and Graphs for Road Movement (see FM 55-30 for applicable details).
- STANAG 2154 and QSTAG 539, Regulations for Military Motor Vehicle Movement by Road. The applicable details of this agreement to be included in unit SOPs are extracted from STANAG 2154 and are shown below.
OCCUPYING THE POSITION
This section describes three types of occupation-deliberate, hasty, and emergency. Also, the key functions performed in laying and readying the battery or platoon for firing and for sustaining operations are addressed. Regardless of the type of occupation, local security must be established and maintained.
a. A deliberate occupation is one that has been planned. The advance party precedes the unit and prepares the position. The occupation may be during daylight hours following a daylight preparation, at night after a daylight preparation, or at night following a nighttime preparation. A common error in a deliberate occupation is allowing too much activity during preparation, thereby risking compromise. Only the minimum number of vehicles and personnel should go forward. When the tactical situation allows, a very good method of occupying a new position is to do the advance preparation prior to darkness and move by night. Nighttime movement following a nighttime reconnaissance is often necessary, but it can be more time-consuming.
b. The hasty occupation differs from the deliberate occupation mainly in the amount of time available for reconnaissance preparation. Generally, it results from unforeseen circumstances. The hasty occupation begins as a deliberate occupation, but due to limited time for advance party preparation of the next position, it becomes a hasty occupation. It reinforces the importance of the battery commander's planning ahead and establishing priority tasks.
c. An emergency occupation results when a call for fire is received while the battery or platoon is conducting a tactical movement.
a. A guide meets the battery or platoon at the pickup point and leads the vehicles to the entrance of the position area. There the vehicle guides are waiting to lead the vehicles to their selected locations.
b. Each gun guide aligns his weapon on the azimuth of fire and gives the initial deflection to the gunner.
c. Intrabattery communications are used for laying.
d. The GSG implements the security and defense plan as personnel become available.
e. Other considerations for night occupations areas follow:
(1) Light discipline must be practiced. Proper preparation for a night occupation will minimize the need for lights. Vehicle blackout drive and blackout marker lights should be turned off as soon as the ground guide has begun to lead the vehicle into position. During the laying process, only the aiming circle (AC) and the weapon being laid should have any night lights on.
(2) Noise discipline is most important, since noise can be heard at much greater distances at night.
(3) The time for occupation is increased.
(4) Each vehicle guide should know where his vehicle is in the order of march so the platoon can move smoothly into position without halting the column.
(5) Filtered flashlights are used to lead the vehicles.
Each driver must stop his vehicle whenever he cannot see the light from the guide's flashlight.
(6) Vehicles will not move within the position without a guide.
In a hasty occupation, day or night, the platoon requires more time to occupy. This is because some preparatory tasks were not accomplished due to the limited time available. This may result in the following:
- Delay in getting the vehicles off the route of march.
- Laying by voice.
- Increased laying time, since gun guides might not have aligned the stakes on the azimuth of fire or obtained initial deflections.
- Increased FDC preparation time because not all initial updated location data will be available.
(1) The nature of the emergency occupation requires a modification of the normal procedures used to occupy and lay. The procedures apply to all artillery units, towed and self-propelled.
(2) The key to success for the mission is a well-rehearsed SOP.
(3) The XO or platoon leader must know exactly where he is at all times during a road march. He must constantly be selecting possible emergency mission firing positions by map and visual reference. If possible, the BC or gunnery sergeant should identify suitable position areas for emergency missions along the route while performing his reconnaissance and pass this information to the platoon leader or XO.
b. Actions Upon Receipt of the Mission.
(1) The XO, platoon leader or FDO receives the call for fire and does the following:
- Authenticates the mission.
- Ensures FDC personnel monitored the call.
- Notifies the driver.
- Signals the convoy.
- Selects a firing position and passes the proposed coordinates to the FDC personnel.
- Determines the best method to lay the unit. In order of preference, the methods are as follows:
- Distant aiming point (DAP).
- Aiming posts.
- Improve position defense plans.
- Improve camouflage.
- Bury and overhead wire lines.
- Harden critical elements.
- Perform maintenance.
- Rehearse reaction forces.
- Conduct training.
- Resupply all classes of supply.
- Complete position area survey.
- Be prepared to march-order.
- Improve the technical solution to meet the five requirements for accurate predicted fire.
- Approval authority for displacing the battery or platoon.
- Duties of convoy commanders.
- Convoy organization.
- Weapons and ammunition to be carried.
- Hardening of vehicles.
- Protective equipment to be worn by personnel.
- Preparation of vehicles (detailed instructions regarding tarpaulins, windshields, and tailgates).
- Counterambush action.
- Drills in reaction to air or artillery attack.
- Security measures.
- Maintenance and recovery of disabled vehicles.
- Any scheduled refueling and/or rest halts.
- Establishment of rally points.
- Grid azimuth method.
- Howitzer backlay method.
- Aiming point-deflection method.
(2) The FDC does the following:
- Determines the azimuth of fire.
- Starts computing initial data. See Appendix F for BCS emergency occupation procedures.
c. Communications. Data must be passed quickly and efficiently. The small unit transceiver (if available) is an effective tool. Wire can be used if the battery internal wire system is designed for very rapid emplacement. In the absence of these systems or if some elements are not operational, all key personnel must have relays and/or runners in position to get data as they become available. For example, as each nonadjusting howitzer is emplaced, a relay should move immediately to the aiming circle to get his deflection. Another runner should get firing data from the FDC.
d. Aiming Points. Aiming points will be established in the following priorities:
e. Security. In M109A3-5 units, for security, the M992 should automatically disperse in a semicircle from the right front around the rear of the position to the left front. They should be well outside the gun line and not be a factor in line of sight between the aiming circle and the howitzer. In towed weapon units where ammunition is carried separately, the prime mover should move to the rear as soon as possible to reduce line-of-sight problems and congestion. Administrative vehicles and their occupants should move into security positions.
f. Position Improvement. Upon completion of the mission, the tactical situation dictates whether the unit moves on or continues position improvement, The unit should make the five requirements for accurate predicted fire a priority. (A more detailed discussion of the five requirements is in FM 6-40.)
g. Teamwork. There are few tactical activities which require more teamwork than an emergency occupation. Everyone (drivers, gunners, relays, chiefs) must know his job and do it automatically. Remember, engines will be running, and if success depends on a leader shouting commands and directives to untrained personnel, the mission will surely fail.
a. Once the occupation is completed and the unit is ready to answer calls for fire, sustaining actions begin. They are continuous and done in the priority determined by the BC or platoon leader. These actions may include the following:
b. Care must be taken in the way ammunition is resupplied and vehicles are refueled, particularly in SP units. These activities can reveal the location of the battery. If possible, these tasks should be done at night.
c. The advance party should always be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.
a. During combat, a unit keeps proficient in those skills that are used day-to-day. If not used or practiced, skills that may be required later can be lost. Consideration should be given to conducting training during combat lulls. Such training will ensure that a platoon stays able to perform all skills required.
b. Training in convoy operations and immediate action procedures should conform to the unit SOP. This will ensure that personnel are adequately trained to cope with situations that may confront them. Some considerations for establishing a training program are discussed below:
(1) Establish a realistic movement SOP. It should conform to battalion SOPs and should cover, as a minimum, the following:
(2) Stress estimating and maintaining the specified interval between vehicles, especially if the column halts. Put interval-marking signs on your motor pool exit to help train drivers.
c. Teach the drivers to habitually evaluate the terrain in light of the cross-country mobility of their vehicles. Even in a well-developed area with a good road net, a driver may be required to make an off-road detour to bypass a roadblock or a section of damaged highway. The habit of constant terrain evaluation enables him to make a quick decision and select the most practical route promptly.
d. Practice terrain movement in small elements.
e. Practice immediate action. Include vehicle breakdowns, equipment transfer, and vehicle repair or recovery. Many such items can be in the SOPs.
f. Practice blackout movements to accustom the drivers to using the blackout lights. As they become proficient, restrict them to "cat's eyes" only.
g. Consider the following tips for increasing the units capability for rapid and secure tactical vehicle marches.
(1) Do not limit training to those times when the entire unit is available. Whenever two or more vehicles are going to the same place, conduct the movement as a tactical march.
(2) Find out how fast the unit can travel, both on and off the road, without losing the slowest vehicles. (Putting the slowest vehicles up front will automatically pace the column.)
(3) As a planning guide, on roads and trails the battery or platoon will average 25 kilometers (km) per hour in an open column and 10 km per hour in a close column (at night).
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