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This Chapter Implements QSTAG 217 and STANAG 2934, Chapter 3.

MLRS units are employed to provide FA medium range rocket and long range missile fires in support of the corps, Army, theater, joint or coalition forces and Marine MAGTFs or in the conduct of TMD to destroy, neutralize or suppress the enemy in accordance with Army depth and simultaneous attack doctrine. Successful MLRS operations start with a sound organization for combat that maximizes MLRS capabilities. Key to this process is a complete understanding of employment considerations and a thorough analysis of the factors of METT-T (mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available).

This section implements QSTAG 217 and STANAG 2934, chapter 3.

Section I


General Employment Considerations

The corps, division, and joint task force (JTF) commander's areas of operation normally include all areas occupied by enemy forces that may jeopardize completion of the current mission. Often, MLRS can engage enemy forces to the full depth of those areas of operations. Fire support planners must consider many factors when employing MLRS.

System Capabilities

The tremendous flexibility of the MLRS makes it an important fire support asset to maneuver commanders at all levels. The MLRS C3 capabilities; the organizational structure; and the system range, firepower, and munitions, all contribute to this flexibility (see Table 3-1).

The MLRS C3 system can interface with many types of other C3 systems. This allows for an interface with numerous C2 computer systems as well as target acquisition (TA) and sensor systems (see Chapter 5).

The MLRS organizational structure allows assignment of tactical missions down to the firing battery and platoon levels, if required. The MLRS firing batteries are equipped to operate independently from parent battalion control. The MLRS firing platoons may execute separate standard or nonstandard tactical missions for limited periods. Augmentation of platoon assets increases this semi-independent capability. The MLRS range, firepower, and munitions give fire support planners flexibility in supporting the maneuver plan. Every U.S. Army M270 launcher has the capability of firing the entire MFOM. However, the launcher FCS must be configured to fire the desired munition types.

Mission and Enemy

The commander's scheme of maneuver and the enemy's capabilities and predicted courses of action identified by the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) are the next considerations in employing MLRS.

Close Operations. In the close fight, MLRS best supports the maneuver commander with rocket fires. MLRS rocket range exceeds most cannon munitions and allows maneuver commanders the opportunity to augment cannon fire with a lethal indirect fire capability enhancing maneuver force protection. In close operations, MLRS can be used for counterfire, raids, suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), and engaging targets beyond the FLOT that will impact upon the close battle. The targets best suited for MLRS in the close fight are personnel, light materiel, CPs, and self-propelled artillery. The MLRS M26 rocket has a large "footprint" (dispersion of submunitions in the target area) and therefore requires detailed planning in close operations. Planners should ensure that the MLRS footprint and probability of dud munitions in the target area are considered by maneuver commanders when synchronizing battle plans. The same planning factors for 155-mm or Air Force-delivered DPICM will provide acceptable data for planning in close operations. Specifically, they must be careful not to assign missions or targets that are closer than 2000 m to friendly troops. Some risk will be accepted when firing MLRS into areas friendly units could occupy or pass through during future operations.

Deep Operations. Army doctrine (FM 100-5) requires the field artillery to provide deep fires and fires in support of other deep operations. The MLRS can support the commander's deep operations plans with M39 (Army TACMS) missile fires normally fired by corps GS MLRS units. With a range of 165 km, the M39 is well suited for attack of long-range, high payoff targets (HPTs). This includes attack of HPTs with extremely short dwell times where minimizing the time from acquisition to firing (sensor-to-shooter time) is critical. Chapter 4 discusses options for posturing units and Chapter 5 discusses methods to reduce processing times in these situations. The range capability also allows engagement across the front laterally. The methodology for planning and executing deep operations is decide-detect-deliver-assess (D3A). This methodology requires that targets and their areas of engagement be planned during the decide phase. In deep operations, most fires are planned and scheduled as opposed to immediate, unscheduled fires on targets of opportunity. In the planning process of the decide phase, the following must be considered:

  • The M39 missile stockage levels and locations. Management and delivery of munitions depend heavily on fire planning decisions made early in the decide phase.
  • Target acquisition (TA) and sensor system availability, C3 linkage to the MLRS firing unit, and target acquisition and sensor systems cuing to detect and/or track targets.

These assets (launchers, munitions, and TA and sensor systems) are limited. Therefore, fire support planners must carefully plan and coordinate the development of deep targets and their attack. The warhead description and capabilities of the M39 missile are addressed in Chapter 1. The D3A methodology and the doctrine for planning and executing fire support in deep operations are addressed in FM 6-20-30 and FM 6-20-10.

Rear Operations. The objective of rear operations is to ensure freedom of action and continuity of operations, logistics, and battle command. Use of MLRS fires in support of rear operations is limited because MLRS is an area fire weapon; it is not the FS weapon of choice for rear operations. MLRS fires may, however, be required in support of division or corps response operations and/or tactical combat force (TCF) operations.


Proper positioning and employment of MLRS units increase their effectiveness. The MLRS units fight forward, positioned as close to the FLOT as possible, to maximize the system's ability to attack deep. Positioning launchers forward and intermixing them with other fire support systems and maneuver units in the maneuver brigade sector degrades the ability of the enemy to template MLRS operations and locations. Shoot-and-scoot tactics are used to reduce the enemy's ability to acquire and engage MLRS launchers with indirect fires. Fighting forward, however, does increase the risk to soldiers since MLRS units have a limited ability to defend themselves against ground attack. When positioning forward, minimum range is also a consideration. It also increases coordination requirements because the signature of MLRS when it fries increases the vulnerability of all elements in the immediate vicinity to enemy fires. Digital communications are essential for effective MLRS operations. Communication requirements, particularly FM line of sight, area key consideration when selecting position areas.

Planning and Coordination

Employment of the MLRS requires thorough planning and coordination. Operations orders and fire support plans should include detailed tasks and instructions for MLRS units. These instructions must include types and amounts of each munition by unit, platoon and/or launcher posturing (see Chapter 4), and FCS configuration for specific launchers. Planning should consider the need for launcher redundancy in the allocation of targets to ensure timely target attack. (See Appendix B, Field Artillery Support Plan.)

Rocket fires will generally be short of the division and/or corps fire support coordination line (FSCL). There should be emphasis during planning and coordination on establishing procedural controls and deconflicting these fires with the division Army airspace command and control (A2C2) element.

Missile fires will generally be beyond the FSCL because of the range of the weapon and expected target types. There should be emphasis during planning and coordination on establishing procedural controls and deconflicting these fires with the joint force, particularly, the air component. While there is no requirement to coordinate or seek approval prior to the delivery of fires beyond the FSCL (but within the area of operations [AO]) of the force headquarters, there is a responsibility to notify the affected components to reduce the risk of fratricide, increase efficiency, and avoid duplication when possible. Accurate reporting of platoon center locations is paramount since these locations are used to develop and coordinate air force restricted operations zones (ROZs).

Maneuver and force FA commanders must consider the items discussed below when planning for MLRS fire support.

Fire Missions. The MLRS, in support of close operations, uses two basic types of fire missions--planned (scheduled) and targets of opportunity (unscheduled). MLRS fires typically require longer reaction times than cannon systems. The MLRS is suited more for planned missions. Both scheduled and unscheduled missions are used in the offensive and defensive phases of the close battle. (For further discussion of fire planning, see Chapter 5.)

Configuration Time. Normally, all the weapon files required to carry out anticipated missions are loaded in the launcher FCS before fire missions begin. Changing from one munition to another takes no additional time if the correct weapon files are loaded. Unusual circumstances may warrant loading additional files.

Reaction Time. The MLRS units normally require at least 30 minutes to process and execute any fire plan. This time can be reduced by using methods other than the non-nuclear fire plan (NNFP) function of FDS (see Chapter 5 for more information).

Launcher Response Time. The MLRS response time on any given mission may vary from 2 to 20 minutes (see Chapter 4 for more information).

Munition Load. The MLRS units may carry any of the MFOM. The unit mission dictates a munition load and resupply necessities. Mission changes may require exchange of part or all of a unit's ammo stocks.

Munition Range. The minimum and maximum munition ranges must be considered in positioning elements and assigning missions.

Note: More detailed discussions of MLRS battalion, battery, and platoon operations are in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.


Movement. The shoot-and-scoot tactics combined with the wide dispersion of elements help MLRS elements avoid detection and minimize vulnerability. Survivability is enhanced by the rapid transmission rate of digital message traffic, secure voice communications, quick emplacement and displacement. However, they also require more planning and coordination because of competition for terrain. Firing platoon leaders and battery commanders must coordinate with maneuver unit commanders throughout all phases of an operation.

Mission. The M270 firing missiles may be less vulnerable to counterfire than it is when firing rockets. This is due to a shorter time from initial launch to movement from the firing point and randomly selected off-axis firings. The M270 firing missiles will be a higher priority enemy target.

Detection. The key to MLRS survival on the battlefield is the avoidance of detection. Enemy forces can detect MLRS units firing either rockets or missiles by the means discussed below.

  • Air-Ground Observation. Until it fires, an M270 launcher normally is difficult to detect by air-ground observation. During firing, the large signature of the launch provides easy location of the firing point by direct observation.
  • Counterbattery Radar. At lower firing elevations (less than 300 mils), MLRS rockets are difficult to detect by counterbattery radar. At firing elevations greater than 300 mils, the rockets can be more easily acquired because of their higher trajectory. The Army TACMS off-axis launch, low radar cross section, and semiballistic guided flight program further reduce MLRS vulnerability to enemy radar acquisition.
  • Sound Ranging. The vulnerability of MLRS to detection by sound ranging exceeds that of cannon artillery. Enemy sound ranging techniques are highly advanced and extremely accurate.
  • Flash Ranging. The MLRS is readily detected by flash ranging because of the large visual signature of the launcher firing. Enemy flash ranging techniques are highly advanced and extremely accurate.
  • Radio Direction Finding. Overuse of radio communications can make detection by enemy radio direction finding more likely. This is especially true because of the radio-intensive nature of MLRS operations. Terrain masking, short transmissions, and use of low radio power and directional antennas and consistent use of frequency-hopping capabilities can improve survivability.

Organization for Combat

The force commander establishes the command and control of MLRS units through his organization for combat. This is a two-step process as follows:

  • Step l-Establish a command relationship by placing the unit in a specific tactical organization.
  • Step 2-Assign a tactical mission. Divisional MLRS batteries and corps MLRS battalions will always be assigned tactical missions. The MLRS batteries of an MLRS battalion may also be assigned tactical missions.

Command Relationships

The force commander normally establishes one of the following relationships with a tactical unit for each field artillery unit:

  • Organic
  • Assigned
  • Attached
  • Operational Control (OPCON)

A Commander-in-Chief (CINC) has other relationships available when the MLRS unit is involved in Joint operations (see Joint Pub 3.0).

  • Tactical Control (TACON)
  • Support

Normally, the force commander will select one of the following options in establishing the command relationship.

Option 1. The corps commander retains direct control of the MLRS battalion through the corps artillery headquarters TOC. Normally, this option is used only in controlling MLRS units configured for delivering Army TACMS fires. The corps artillery TOC does the following:

  • Coordinates movement, positioning, and delivery of fires of the MLRS unit(s) to support the corps operations.
  • Monitors ammunition status.
  • Coordinates combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) for the MLRS unit(s).

The advantages of Option 1 areas follows:

  • The corps commander can directly influence the battle as an active participant rather than as an allocator of combat power. He applies long-range missile fires at decisive points to help shape the close fight and to support his deep maneuver.
  • In some situations, intelligence-generated targets may be sent directly from the sensor platform to the commander's tactical terminal (CTT) or ground station modules (GSM) at the MLRS battalion for immediate attack. Targets also can be sent by the corps to the MLRS battalion.

The disadvantages of Option 1 areas follows:

  • Communications may be constrained by the distances over which the MLRS battalion and corps artillery TOC have to communicate.
  • Terrain management for launchers is time-consuming. The coordination for OPAREAs and firing points requires clearance through the corps FSE, division FSE, brigade FSEs and, in some cases, battalion FSEs.
  • Requests for additional fires from within the corps must be routed through the div arty and corps and then sent to the battalion for execution.

Option 2. The corps commander attaches the MLRS battalion to a FA brigade. If the corps commander keeps the FA brigade under his control with a GS or GSR mission, the corps FSE will send request for fire through the FA brigade HQ to the MLRS battalion. The battalion may continue to receive target data directly from sensors through the CTT and GSM. If the corps commander allocates or prioritizes the brigade fires to a division (reinforcing a div arty), the division FSE will send requests for fire through the div arty and then through the FA brigade HQ to the MLRS battalion.

The advantages of Option 2 are as follows:

  • Communications relayed through the FA brigade HQ facilitate C2 of MLRS unit and launcher operations.
  • The MLRS can still effectively respond to targets requested by corps.
  • The corps commander can still establish priorities of fires. This will increase the combat power within a subordinate unit area.
  • The FA brigade is more capable of assisting and supporting the attached MLRS battalion than a corps artillery TOC or div arty.

The disadvantages of Option 2 are as follows;

  • When brigade fires are not allocated to a division, the processing time for division requests for fire is increased. (A quick fire link might be established from div arty to the FA brigade to preclude this problem.)
  • Coordination with maneuver units for position areas may be difficult and time-consuming.

Option 3. The corps commander allocates some or all of the MLRS units directly to the divisions, thus increasing their combat power. This decentralized employment of the MLRS battalion may be most appropriate to fast-paced offensive operations. The MLRS battalion, or its batteries, may be attached to a committed division. This division normally would further attach the MLRS unit to the div arty. The div arty must provide information on the following:

  • Required supply rates for ammunition.
  • Target attack criteria.
  • The SEAD criteria.
  • Interdiction requirements.
  • Supportability of future operations.

If the corps commander attaches an MLRS battalion to a division, the battalion, operating with the div arty, may assume OPCON of the divisional MLRS battery. Priority of fires, with specific target criteria, can be established and shifted quickly within the division in accordance with the plan for support.

The advantages of Option 3 are as follows:

  • Additional MLRS units give the division more immediately available combat power.
  • Communications are streamlined between the MLRS unit and its supported headquarters.

The disadvantages of Option 3 are as follows:

  • It may be time-consuming to change the task organization and get the pure battalion back under the corps artillery of FA brigade control when required.
  • Fire planning and MLRS attack of targets identified at corps and echelons above corps are degraded because there are no immediately available MLRS fires at that level.
  • If all MLRS assets attached to the divisions, no MLRS units could be assigned the mission of GS to the corps for Army TACMS fires.

Tactical Mission Assignment

Field artillery battalions normally meet their FA support requirements through one of the four basic or standard tactical missions. Assignment of a tactical mission implies that a FA commander will meet each of the seven inherent responsibilities of his mission, as applicable (see Table 3-2).

Considerations. The corps MLRS battalion and the divisional battery may be assigned any tactical mission consistent with the force commander's fire support guidance. The MLRS units can readily accomplish R, GSR, and GS missions. Because the divisional MLRS battery does not have a liaison section, it must fulfill liaison requirements with internal assets. The battery commander may choose to collocate his CP with that of the supported unit.

General Support. An MLRS unit assigned a GS mission provides FA support for the force as a whole. This is the most centralized mission for the force commander. It provides fires that are immediately responsive to his needs. Planned fires and fires against HPTs are best provided by those MLRS units with a GS mission. Assigning a GS MLRS unit a priority of fires allows the commander to influence specific areas of the battlefield. The priority of fires option can fulfill many of the R and GSR needs.

General Support Reinforcing. The GSR mission requires the MLRS unit to furnish fires for the force as a whole as its first priority and to reinforce the fires of another FA unit as the second priority. A GSR unit remains under the tactical control of the force FA headquarters and responds on a first-priority basis to the needs of that headquarters. The GSR mission gives the force commander flexibility to meet the needs of various tactical situations.

Reinforcing. If assigned an R mission, the MLRS unit should operate on the reinforced artillery battalion Ops/F (VHF-FM) (digital) and cmd (VHF-FM) (voice) nets. Communication with the force FA headquarters should be maintained with the HF AM radio and/or mobile subscriber equipment (MSE). The MLRS battalion has a liaison section to help in implementing and executing an R mission. There is no organic liaison capability at the firing battery. The BC can do this to some extent. A major consideration in giving an MLRS unit an R mission is the ammo expenditure rate. In an R role, expenditure of MLRS ammo may exceed the unit resupply capability. Another consideration is ensuring the reinforced unit understands MLRS capabilities and limitations. When reinforcing a DS cannon battalion, liaison at both the FA unit HQ and the force FSE may be appropriate.

Direct support. Normally, establishing appropriate priorities of fire modifying the GS, R, or GSR missions will be adequate to handle those instances where MLRS must be extremely responsive in support of a maneuver force. When possible, MLRS units should reinforce the habitually associated DS cannon unit rather than assuming the DS mission on its own. However, an MLRS unit may have to assume a nonstandard DS mission, because it is the only indirect fire asset available. Before assigning a DS mission to any MLRS unit, the following factors should be carefully considered:

  • The MLRS battalion lacks the fire support coordination personnel normally associated with a DS FA battalion. The organic liaison section is inadequate to satisfy this function.
  • Given its large footprint and greater range, MLRS DPICM is best used against area targets and to complement cannon fires.
  • Danger close for MLRS M26 rockets is 2 km.
  • MLRS tires are normally less responsive than cannon fires.
  • The MLRS has extensive ammo resupply considerations that adversely impact on its ability to sustain continuous fires.
  • The MLRS lacks the munitions normally required for a DS mission (for example, illumination and smoke).
  • The MLRS comm nets are insufficient for the DS mission.
  • The use of MLRS in the decentralized DS mode denies the force FA commander the use of an important asset needed to influence the battle.
  • Precision Error. Rockets are inherently less precise than cannon projectiles. They have a much larger CEP are therefore much less predictable. Inherent random inaccuracies (bias and precision errors) are discussed in Appendix C.

Nonstandard Mission. If the commander's intent cannot be satisfied with one of the standard FA tactical missions, a nonstandard tactical mission may be assigned. These missions amplify, limit, or change one or more of the inherent responsibilities or spell out contingencies not covered by those responsibilities. A nonstandard mission may be assigned if there is not enough artillery to cover all the contingencies or if a FA battalion, FA battery, or MLRS platoon is required to meet the responsibilities of more than one tactical mission. Examples of some nonstandard missions include those discussed below:

  • An MLRS firing battery answers calls for fire from a combat aviation brigade. The FDS can communicate digitally with an aerial observer in an OH-58D through the helicopter's airborne target handover system (ATHS). It also can communicate digitally with an observer using a digital message device (DMD) or other hand-held digital device in an OH58A or OH-58C helicopter. The battery FDC also can receive voice calls for fire from aerial observers. All of these configurations allow the MLRS firing battery to engage the variety of targets the aviation brigade can acquire.
  • A battery from an MLRS battalion is attached to a FA brigade which is DS to an ACR or separate maneuver brigade but remains GS to the regiment or brigade.
  • An MLRS battalion is attached to a FA brigade which is reinforcing a Marine Corps or coalition army force artillery headquarters. However, the MLRS battalion is positioned by and has its fires planned by the reinforcing FA brigade headquarters, not the force FA headquarters.
  • A nondivisional MLRS battery is GSR to a DS cannon battalion but is positioned by and has its fires planned by the reinforced FA unit headquarters.

Operations with the Marine Corps

This section discusses operational considerations when supporting MAGTF operations.

Size of Force

The most appropriate force alignment is an MLRS battery supporting a Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) MEF (FWD) and an MLRS battalion supporting a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). The smallest MLRS unit to deploy in support of Marine Corps (USMC) operations will be a battery. However, the number of launchers in the battery may be tailored to a specific mission. Subdivision below the battery level could limit the operability, flexibility, response, and sustainability of MLRS fires. MLRS units will be selected to support USMC requirements based on METT-T considerations. Only echelon-above-division (EAD) units (AC or RC) may be selected to fulfill support needs.

Each deployment package must be supplemented with an additional logistical package (see Chapter 6, Combat Service Support) due to the lack of Army support available and the likelihood that the unit would be entering an immature theater. Additionally, the MLRS battery requires liaison and staff augmentation. Elements of an MLRS battalion headquarters could effectively perform the function of interfacing with a USMC controlling headquarters on operational and logistical matters.


The method of deployment/entry will largely depend upon METT-T considerations corresponding to the specific contingency operation. It is a function of the size of the force, time available, availability of secure airfields and port facilities, and whether or not an amphibious landing is to an uncontested or benign beach or port.

Battle Command

The MLRS unit should be under the command and control of the force field artillery headquarters. In the case of a MEF (FWD), this would be a Marine artillery battalion. In the case of a MAGTF of larger size, this would be the Marine artillery regimental command operations center (COC). Although MLRS units best provide general support fires, the MAGTF commander will ultimately direct tactical mission assignment.

Communications. Army and USMC radio systems (AM and FM) are compatible. MLRS units supporting USMC units not equipped with SINCGARS will operate in a non frequency hopping mode. There are some unique challenges regarding data communications between VRC12 series radios and SINCGARS. These are addressed in Chapter 7 (MLRS Communications).

Artillery Computer Systems. There are few compatibility issues with regard to data communications. The MCFSS and the MLRS FDS and FDDM all communicate using TACFIRE protocols. Version 10 software allows full compatibility of MCFSS and FDS/FDDM with current rocket and missile munitions.

Communications Security (COMSEC). Army and Marine Corps COMSEC systems are compatible using both SINCGARS and VRC-12 series radio systems. Both MCFSS and MLRS FDS/FDDM use the KY-57 for data encryption. The MLRS battery, when operating separately, requires three (3) internal communications nets and one (1) for liaison. The entire MLRS battalion requires a minimum of fourteen (14) internal communications nets in order to function. The USMC is responsible for providing these communications nets in the signal operating instructions (SOI).

Target Acquisition. The USMC has both unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and organic TPQ-36 radar sections for use in both intelligence gathering and acquiring targets.

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The USMC currently has the PIONEER system. This UAV will penetrate into enemy airspace out to a range of 185 km to conduct reconnaissance missions. It has an endurance of four hours of flight time. Both the U.S. Army and the USMC will be fielding the HUNTER system. This UAV has a range of 200 km and an endurance of eight to 12 hours of flight time.
  • AN/TPQ-36 Weapons Locating Radar (WLR). The AN/TPQ-36 is optimized to locate hightrajectory indirect fire weapons such as mortars to a range of 15 km, but it can also locate cannon and rocket artillery to a range of 24 km.
  • AN/TPQ-37 Weapons Locating Radar (WLR). The AN/TPQ-37 is optimized to locate low trajectory indirect fire weapons, such as cannon artillery to a range of 30 km and rocket artillery to a range of 50 km. Supplementing the force FA headquarters with multiple Army TPQ-37 radar sections would significantly add to the target acquisition capability of the MAGTF.

Liaison. During joint operations, liaison is normally reciprocal. This would require the controlling USMC headquarters to provide a liaison to the MLRS unit headquarters as well.

Offensive Operations

An MLRS unit must be prepared to support the four basic types of offensive operations:

  • Movement to contact.
  • Attack.
  • Exploitation.
  • Pursuit.

A detailed discussion of these operations and the responsibilities of the fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) for each of them is in FMs 6-20, 6-20-30, 6-20-40, and 6-20-50.

Movement to Contact

Units conduct movement to contact to gain or regain contact with the enemy. Once contact is made, the commander can further develop the situation.

The MLRS can provide support during both movement and follow-on operations once contact is made. With its long range and tactical mobility, MLRS is suited to augment other artillery fires in supporting covering forces and flank guard formations.

The MLRS must be integrated into the march columns to ensure responsive supporting fires during the initial action. By planning for delivery of immediate mass MLRS fires, the commander can help the supported unit as it seizes and retains the initiative.


The purpose of the attack is to defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy. Successful attacks depend on the skillful massing of effects against the enemy force. The commander's intent will drive the selection of available attack options - hasty attack, deliberate attack, spoiling attack, counterattack, raid, feint, demonstration, or any combination of these.

MLRS can best be used in support of attacks by delivering deep fires against reserve or reinforcing formations, delivering counterfire, providing SEAD, massing against counterattacks, and reinforcing the DS artillery of attacking brigades. MLRS, if employed properly, is an excellent choice in support of raids, spoiling attacks, etc. (see discussion below).

Exploitation and Pursuit

Exploitation and pursuit operations follow successful attacks. An exploitation is when the attacker extends the destruction of the defending force by maintaining continuous pressure. A pursuit is an offensive operation against a retreating enemy force.

Both exploitations and pursuits involve rapid movement forward. The 32 km range of MLRS rockets, the 165 km range of missiles (Army TACMS), and system mobility enable MLRS to efficiently support these operations. Because of the rapid movement in these attacks, maneuver units usually are unable to coordinate extensively or directly for fire support. Without this coordination, MLRS use in these operations must adhere to positive clearance of fires procedures.

Some considerations in these types of offensive operations include: positioning MLRS units close to the line of departure or FLOT, making sure MLRS units travel well forward with maneuver units, and planning for ammunition and ammunition resupply throughout the operation.

Defensive Operations

In defensive operations, the corps and division commanders normally have more centralized control of MLRS assets to ensure that they are immediately responsive to the force commander. However, MLRS units may be attached to or under the OPCON of armored cavalry regiments (ACRs) or other covering force units. The duration of the attachment or OPCON and other instructions and restrictions should be delineated in the OPORD.

The MLRS units can support defensive operations with fires by providing the following:

  • Counterfire and SEAD fires.
  • Fires on enemy C3 assets and maneuver assembly areas to disrupt command, control, and attack preparations.
  • Engagement of enemy forces as far forward as possible. Attack of targets with MLRS DPICM will strip enemy forces of light armor and infantry support and will cause mobility and firepower kills to heavy armor.
  • Long-range missile fires on targets arrayed in depth, deep targets, uncommitted forces, and other HPTs.

A Firefinder-MLRS direct link is most effective during defensive operations. This link allows rapid detection and destruction of enemy artillery and mortars as they fire in support of their maneuver's advance.

Defensive operations require different positioning considerations. The positioning of MLRS in the security area, to range more deeply, must be carefully considered and planned. Considerations include the following:

  • Increased security risks to MLRS units.
  • Communications requirements.
  • Limited logistical support as a result of positioning far forward.
  • Availability of suitable firing positions and routes.

In MLRS unit positioning, munition minimum range must be considered. The units could be positioned at different, staggered distances from the FLOT, which would overcome minimum range limitations.

The MLRS units should not be positioned on major avenues of approach. This is to prevent enemy breakthroughs from jeopardizing the unit or forcing it to displace prematurely. It would also preclude displacing several MLRS platoons or batteries at the same time and losing that fire support.

Nonstandard Employment Techniques

Force commanders can employ MLRS units in numerous ways for special missions. These missions include conducting pro-active counterfire strikes against enemy indirect fire systems, attacking deep targets as part of a spoiling attack (raid), and moving forward with maneuver security forces in order to conduct SEAD missions or attack other HPTs. There are some unique considerations for planning and executing such operations. The considerations listed below are not all-inclusive. They are intended as a planning aid.


The force commander's intent for the mission must be clearly understood. Command of the attack force should fall to a single commander (artillery or otherwise). During the planning process MLRS unit commanders should ask:

  • How much time is available to complete the mission and conduct the planned withdrawal?
  • What are the proposed firing and C2 locations? What are the routes to those locations? What are the withdrawal routes?
  • What is the acceptable level of risk in completing the mission (has the commander established criteria for aborting the mission)?
  • What are the target descriptions? How many and of what type/size are the targets?
  • What is the acquisition source?
  • Are ground maneuver units available to assist in protecting both firing units and associated radars?
  • Was the commander's intent established in the commander's criteria?
  • Is the controlled supply rate (CSR) sufficient to accomplish current and follow-on missions?
  • Is there a follow-on mission?

Force Protection

MLRS units are high priority targets for the enemy. Based on the nature of the mission, the attack location, the enemy situation, and the acceptable level of risk force protection requirements will vary.

  • What is the threat?
  • If a maneuver force is required, what is the size and structure of the force? How can that force best protect the MLRS unit?
  • What is the risk of receiving counterfire? Is there a need to have acquisition assets and additional firing units for counter-counterfire?
  • What is the current and projected air defense posture? Should the force include dedicated air defense weapon systems?


Coordination is essential during any operation and particularly important for raids and other special missions.

  • Is there a need for, and have we established, liaison with the supported and supporting forces (force maneuver TOC, security force HQ)?
  • Have the routes been cleared with the appropriate headquarters?
  • Are there adequate comm assets and nets? What frequencies?
  • If the attack force must pass through the FLOT of another unit, then a passage of lines will be necessary. Have we conducted coordination for the passage of lines during the planning phase?


During special missions, there is a need to minimize the size of the force. This allows the unit to attack the targets and continue with the follow-on mission quickly. Units should include only minimum essential logistics support.

  • How much and what type of ammunition is required?
  • Should a maintenance support team accompany the force? If so, what should go?
  • How much fuel is required? Will we require refueling in order to complete the mission?
  • Will launchers require reloading? If so, how often and where will this be done?


  • How many C2 nodes does the mission require? Will a BOC or a platoon operations center (POC) be sufficient? Will it require augmentation from the TOC?
  • Is there a need for maneuver to provide force protection? If so, what is the minimum required force? How are they controlled? Will they provide a liaison to the MLRS unit C2 element?
  • Will we be linked directly to the corps or division FSE using a "quick-fire" net?
  • What acquisition assets are available for counterfire (AN/TPQ-36, AN/TPQ-37)?
  • Are electronic warfare (EW) assets going to be committed to the effort to mask the electronic signature (jammers)?


Rehearsals are an integral part of the planning process. A rehearsal should both practice and test the plan. If at all possible, the rehearsal should be conducted with the force commander's rehearsal. A combined rehearsal will improve responsiveness of fires and the synchronization of all the force commander's resources for the battle.

Units must establish procedures for rehearsals as a part of their tactical SOPs. As a minimum, the SOPs should identify the following:

  • Who will participate in the rehearsal.
  • What should be rehearsed.
  • What the sequence of the rehearsal will be.
  • What the priority of methods for rehearsals will be.


The rehearsal should include significant events, such as the maneuver scheme, target acquisition employment, and obstacle emplacement. The battalion S3, S2, FDO, attached radar personnel, and unit FDC's are all essential participants as well. Whenever possible, the firing batteries and platoons, down to individual launcher level, should participate. The battalion benefits from the rehearsal by obtaining information for movement, schedules of fire, munitions requirements, and a more complete understanding of the operational time involved with the scheme of maneuver.

If the force commander does not conduct a rehearsal and rehearsal time is available, the S3 and/or LNO should conduct a rehearsal. They should use the existing maneuver OPLAN, the fire support plan, the fire support execution matrix (FSEM), and the FA support plan and matrix. The FSEM is ideal for use in rehearsal, since the rehearsal is normally conducted by performing and/or reciting--

  • Actions to occur.
  • Possible friendly initiatives.
  • Possible reactions to enemy initiatives.
  • Control measures.
  • Significant events that are to occur in relation to time or to phases of an operation.

The rehearsal conducted by only unit personnel is limited that the success of the rehearsal and benefits to be derived from it depend on how well the LNO conducting the rehearsal knows the force commander's concept of the operation. The battalion operation section pays particular attention to displacements. The battalion FDC issues fire orders. Attached radars work situational cues with the cueing agents. Each firing unit conducts tactical and technical fire direction through launcher level. If alternative friendly courses of action hinge on enemy actions and if time permits, the alternatives may be rehearsed.

Note the important features of the rehearsal. It presupposes the complete plan--a plan complete enough to be executed, not a final or unchangeable plan. It is designed to show whether everyone knows his responsibilities (for example, for firing a target, moving a battery, switching frequencies, observing a named area of interest [NAI] and the cues for his action). It allows a check on whether the plan will work. Finally, the rehearsal as a whole is clearly under someone's direction (for example, the S3 or LNO).

Methods of Rehearsal

There are many ways to conduct rehearsals. When time is limited, there will be no chance to rehearse everything. You must streamline your plan and focus your rehearsal on critical events.

Rehearsals may be conducted face-to-face, by wire, or by radio. The first two methods have the advantage of greater security; the last two test communications in the course of the rehearsal. Face-to-face rehearsals tend to be time-consuming and concentrate leaders in one place, but they are often the most secure and are usually the least ambiguous.

Suitable or Actual Terrain. The use of a suitable maneuver area or the actual area in which the operation is to be conducted is the best method for conducting a rehearsal because of its increased realism. Communications lines of sight, clutter on specific communications nets, trigger points and actual operational times required to move from position to position may be visually simulated. This method requires a large area and an increased amount of preparation and planning time. Its use may depend on operational or signals security (SIGSEC) considerations.

Model. Models may be constructed showing buildings, compounds, or built-up areas. This type of rehearsal requires good intelligence information on the area of operation and more time to construct the model itself. Normally, it is used for special operations.

Map. This type of rehearsal may be conducted on any map with the appropriate overlays. This method may be used when time and rehearsal space are limited. Using this method limits the number of participants to those who can gather around a single map unless individual maps are used. Actions to be taken are recited by the participants.

Sand Table. The sand table method expands the area in which rehearsal participants may gather around a single graphical representation of the operation. Maneuver graphics may be depicted by using engineer tape, string, or spray paint or simply by carving out lines in the ground. Key terrain, topography, and objectives may be depicted by the use of rocks, items of equipment, or piles of earth. Preparing for this rehearsal method requires more time; however, it generally permits more participants and is a better visual aid.

Wire. Wire rehearsals generally limit the number of agencies that can rehearse. They also don't test the radio communication on which execution usually depends.

Radio. Radio rehearsals are usually the most comprehensive and the easiest to conduct on short notice, but they present the greatest risk of compromise and frequently confuse participants--" Is this a real fire mission or a rehearsal?"

Tips for Successful Rehearsal

Whatever the technique, a successful rehearsal will be as close to the way you want to execute as possible. When a problem emerges during the rehearsal, fix it right there. To gain the most advantage from the rehearsal, the leader should do the following:

  • Supervise and monitor the rehearsal to ensure that it maintains its focus and direction.
  • Select time for the rehearsal that allows enough time to correct problems found in the plan.
  • Use actual players, not stand-ins, especially in organizations with little experience in continuous operations. Crucial players, such as LNO, Ops officers, and radars, must be included.
  • Involve all of the elements that will be required to perform the mission, concurrently if at all possible. This means including the firing batteries, down to launcher level, in the rehearsal. When firing batteries are included in the rehearsal, the leader must distinguish clearly between the rehearsal and the execution of the plan.
  • Stop and correct problems as they arise. Not all plans will be complete at the time of the rehearsal, but problems that are identified must be corrected in the plan before its execution.
  • Have built-in checks of the plan. The S2 participates, and those responsible for execution report back. These checks anchor the rehearsal in the enemy situation, the terrain, and the details of the plan.
  • Rehearse the plan as it will be executed; the sequence and the execution cues are the same.
  • Cover, as a minimum the following at each rehearsal:

-Grid locations for critical targets (as a minimum) are verified.

-Trigger points, lines, or events are verified for each target.

-Primary and backup communication links.

-For each target, priority and purpose are established.

-Method of engagement is specified for each target.

-Attack guidance is specified for each target.

-A movement plan specifying when and where units will move is prepared.

Target Acquisition and Sensor System Interface

The MLRS C3 system interfaces directly with most digital comm systems. Therefore, it is easily linked to any TA or sensor systems equipped with digital communications. This linkage allows faster response for attack of detected targets. Five of the most likely sources of target information are the Firefinder radar, the OHU.S.58D helicopter, the UAV, and the joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) or Guardrail signals-intelligence (SIGINT) systems.

Firefinder Radar

The MLRS FDS at all levels can interface directly with the Firefinder DMD emulator in a digital, nonsecure mode. This link gives the force FA commander an extremely fast, responsive, and effective counterfire capability. Through zone management and the use of common sensor boundaries, MLRS-Firefinder operations can orient on the maneuver commander's battlefield priorities while still providing counterfires to the force as a whole. Specific commander's guidance is essential for providing targeting zone and report criteria for the radar section and engagement and effects criteria for the MLRS unit. (See FM 6-121 for more detailed information.)

Messages. The Firefinder DMD emulator can transmit six and receive nine message types. The MLRS FDS can receive only the fire mission; calls for fire (FM; CFF), forward observer command (FM; FOCMD), and plain text message (SYS;PTM) messages.

Zones. Up to nine zones can be entered in the Firefinder radars. All zones may be one of four types discussed below or any combination of the four types. These zones prioritize target detections and determine in which format the detection will be reported.

  • A critical friendly zone (CFZ) is an area, usually a friendly unit or location, that the maneuver commander designates as critical. It is used to protect an asset whose loss would jeopardize the mission. When the computer predicts that an enemy round will impact in a CFZ, the location of the weapon that fired the round will be reported by the computer in precedence ahead of all other detections. Any location of a weapon firing into a CFZ will result in an immediate call for fire (FM; CFF message) unless it is manually overridden by the radar operator. The FM; CFF message is received by IFSAS as a Priority I message. Thus, a CFZ provides for the most responsive submission of targets to the fire support system.
  • A call-for-fire zone (CFFZ) designates a search area forward of the FLOT that the maneuver commander wants suppressed, neutralized, or destroyed. An area designated as a CFFZ would likely be on a suspected enemy indirect fire systems. Its designation would be closely tied to information developed during the IPB process. A CFFZ provides the second most responsive priority of requests for fire generated by the radar. A target identified in a CFFZ will generate a FM; CFF Priority 2 message. However, the commander may upgrade this to a Priority 1 message for certain CFFZs.
  • The artillery target intelligence zone (ATIZ) is an area in enemy territory that the maneuver commander wishes to monitor closely. Any weapons acquired in this zone will be reported to the IFSAS computer ahead of all target detections except CFZ and CFFZ. However, the detections will result only in a target report (ATI; CDR).
  • A censor zone (CZ) is an area from which the commander wishes to ignore all target detections. The CZs must be used very judiciously, since the computer does not report to the operator a round originating from a CZ. A CZ may be used to ignore a friendly artillery position that, because of its aspect angle to the radar, could be detected as enemy artillery. This situation could occur when the FLOT is uneven or when friendly units are in enemy territory.

Attack Criteria. Firefinder generates only a target grid location and a mortar, type unknown (MORT UNK) or an artillery, type unknown (ARTY UNK) target description. Since Firefinder cannot discriminate between target size and specific type, the commander must establish specific attack criteria (for example, six M26 DPICM rockets for all mortar targets).

Firefinder Restrictions. Direct Firefinder-MLRS interface places several restrictions on Firefinder and MLRS usage as follows:

  • The Firefinder's inability to discriminate beyond mortars and artillery prevents fill use of the commander's engagement criteria.
  • Firefinder digital nonsecure communications is highly susceptible to EW.
  • The direct link of Firefinder and MLRS displaces IFSAS from the reporting loop. This prevents complete target analysis for artillery intelligence evaluation and counterfire assignment.
  • Firefinder can generate more targets than one MLRS battery can handle with its nine launchers. Even a moderate, but constant, stream of Firefinder targets will place an enormous strain on the MLRS resupply system.
  • Firefinder can generate more target information than the MLRS battalion TOC can process. To be responsive and to engage legitimate targets, the TOC must be augmented with targeting personnel.

Optimum Use. Direct Firefinder interface is best used when--

  • Reduction of time from acquisition to firing is paramount (fleeting targets).
  • Enough MLRS assets are available to handle the high volume of counterfire targets generated and/or enough ammo is available to support the fire mission load.
  • Enough additional MLRS and other FA assets are available to engage all targets generated by other sources.
  • Enemy EW capability is low.
  • The force FA commander determines that only MLRS is necessary in the engagement of counterfire targets.
  • Counterfire is determined to be the most critical requirement.

OH-58D Helicopter

The FDS at platoon battery, or battalion can communicate digitally with an aerial observer in an OH-58D through the helicopter's ATHS. This link gives near-real-time target acquisition.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps will be fielding the HUNTER system. This will penetrate into enemy airspace out to a range of 200 km to conduct reconnaissance missions. It has an endurance of eight to 12 hours of flight time. Both services currently use the PIONEER system. This UAV has a range of 185 km and 4-hour flight time. There is no organic data communications interface between these UAVs (and their C2 system) and the MLRS unit FDS. However, data communications can be established if the UAV company is supplemented with the Marine digital message system (AN/PSC-2A) or augmented with one of the two liaison sections from the MLRS battalion headquarters with their organic FED.

Ground Station Module

MLRS battalions may be provided with a, GSM in order to reduce "sensor-to-shooter" times during decentralized execution of delivery. The GSM receives target information directly from JSTARS airborne platform (E-8C), UAV and broadcast nets. These systems provide near-real time info on target location, description, speed, direction of travel and limited identification.

The GSM is a highly mobile-self-supporting system. Its prime mission is targeting, battle management, surveillance, and data processing. There are two variants of this system, the medium GSM (MGSM), mounted on a 5-ton and a light GSM (LGSM), mounted on a HMMWV. Both systems are identical in capability except the MGSM cannot operate on the move. The GSM with the MLRS bn. gives the corps and division commanders immediate responsive attack capability against deep targets located by the E-8C radar system, UAV, and broadcast intelligence.

Targeting information received at the GSM is unfiltered raw data. It has not been processed by targeting or intelligence analysts for deception and target importance. Extensive commander's guidance is necessary for the battalion to effectively engage HPTs.

Section II


Army forces and soldiers operate around the world in an environment that may not involve combat. This section describes the principles and tenets associated with Army operations other than war (see FM 100-5, Chapter 13 for detailed explanations).

The Army is often required, in its role as a strategic force, to protect and further the interests of the United States at home and abroad in a variety of ways other than war. Operations other than war (OOTW) often are of long duration and undergo a number of shifts in direction during their course. In operations other than war, victory comes more subtly than in war. Disciplined forces, measured responses, and patience are essential to successful outcomes.

Operations other than war may precede and/or follow war or occur simultaneously with war in the same theater. They may be conducted in conjunction with wartime operations to complement the achievement of strategic objectives. They are designed to promote regional stability, maintain or achieve democratic end states, retain US influence and access abroad, provide humane assistance to distressed areas, protect US interests, and assist US civil authorities.

The Army conducts such operations as part of a joint team and often in conjunction with other US and foreign government agencies. Army soldiers serve daily in this capacity: engineers help host nations build roads and improve infrastructures; military police (MPs) assist in the restoration of civil order; medics provide inoculations and advice for preventing disease; mobile training teams enhance local militaries' expertise in securing their nations' interests.

OOTW will not always be peaceful actions. Determined opponents may resort to fighting or other aggressive acts in an attempt to defeat our purposes and promote theirs.

The OOTW environment is a complex one that will require disciplined, versatile Army forces to respond to different situations, including transitioning rapidly from operation is other than war to wartime operations.

The Principles

Operations other than war have principles that guide our actions. Commanders must balance these principles against the specific requirements of their mission and the nature of the operation.

Objective: Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.

Unity of Effort: Seek unity of effort in every operation.

Legitimacy: Sustain the willing acceptance by the people of the right of the government to govern or of a group or agency to make and carry out decisions.

Perseverance: Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capability in support of strategic aims.

Restraint: Apply appropriate military capability prudently.

Security: Never permit hostile factions to acquire an unexpected advantage.

The Activities

Operations other than war (see Figure 3-1) include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Noncombatant evacuation operations.
  • Arms control.
  • Support to domestic civil authorities.
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Security assistance.
  • Nation assistance.
  • Support to counterdrug operations.
  • Combating terrorism.
  • Peacekeeping operations.
  • Peace enforcement.
  • Support for insurgences and counterinsurgencies.
  • Attacks and raids.

Roles of the MLRS Unit

The primary function for MLRS in OOTW is in the resolution of conflict phase. MLRS units may also support OOTW in a non-combat support role, as a show of force/resolve, or in a direct action role by attacking high payoff targets.

Non-Combat Roles

In a non-combat support role, the MLRS unit may use its organic communication capability to support the task force command and control structure. The unit's M985 HEMTT offers unique logistical support capabilities.

As a show of force/resolve, the presence of the MLRS system in support of peace enforcement or peacekeeping missions demonstrates the nation's commitment to the mission.

Combat Roles

Supporting peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations in a direct action role, the MLRS system can engage HPTs at extended range. When working with the Firefinder radar system, MLRS can effectively neutralize mortar and artillery firing positions in accordance with rules of engagements established by the joint task force.

The Army conducts attacks and raids to create situations that permit seizing and maintaining political and military initiative. Normally, the US executes attacks and raids to achieve specific objectives other than gaining or holding terrain. Attacks by conventional ground, air, or special operations forces, acting independently or in concert, are used to damage or destroy high value targets or to demonstrate US capability and resolve to achieve a favorable result.

Section I of this chapter details some considerations for planning and executing participation in the raid (nonstandard employment techniques).

Tactics, techniques, and procedures specific to OOTW include:

  • Minimize Movement. During OOTW the greatest threat to the force will usually be from small groups and terrorists conducting raids and ambushes. Occupation of a defensible firing position affords the MLRS unit with greater survivability in the OOTW scenario than does standard MLRS tactics of hide, move, and shoot.
  • Collocate With Other Units. Occupying positions in conjunction with other task force units provides the MLRS unit with an increased degree of protection against enemy small unit attacks. Coordination is the key to success.
  • Harden Vehicles. Using engineer assets to harden the MLRS position will improve survivability. Weather and terrain will dictate if the unit berms up or digs down. In either case the key to success is prior planning and coordination with the supporting engineer unit.
  • Direct Link with Firefinder Radar. When supporting the task force with counter mortar/counter battery fires, a direct link should be established between the MLRS unit and the Firefinder radar to improve reaction time. A positive method of clearing fires must be established and enforced.

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