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This chapter addresses MLRS unit operations. This includes organization of the battalion staff for tactical operations, as well as firing battery operations. Instructions covering features of combat operations which lend themselves to definite or standardized procedures without loss of effectiveness should be covered by a tactical standing operating procedure (TSOP). A guide and checklist for preparing an MLRS battalion TSOP, is at Appendix D.

Section I


Six Basic Tasks

In combat, the field artillery MLRS battalion provides indirect rocket and missile fire support to the ground force or in the conduct of TMD. In order to accomplish this, the battalion must perform six basic tasks.


This task represents the collective efforts of the unit as it transitions from a training environment. It is the initial stage of force projection operations. It involves the planning, coordination, and conduct of operations to move unit equipment and personnel to the operational theater by air, land, and sea.

Deliver Fires

This task represents the collective efforts of the entire gunnery team to successfully attack targets. It includes all liaison, survey, tactical and technical fire direction activities and the management of target acquisition information culminating in the successful delivery of MLRS rocket and missile fires. Management of target acquisition information may include controlling field artillery radar systems attached to the unit as well as military intelligence, joint, and national sensor system down-links under their operational control. It may also include processing and correlating targeting data with regard to commander's criteria and intent in order to initiate attack of HPTs with short dwell times.


Communication in MLRS battalions is critical to providing fire support. This is especially true with the reliance on automated system for data processing and fire direction functions. Both the dispersion of subordinate elements and the distance to controlling/supported headquarters challenge the battalion organic communications assets. The communications system must satisfy the needs for command and control, movement, liaison, delivery of fires, and logistics.


Positioning and movements of MLRS units require detailed planning and extensive coordination. In addition to ensuring continuous fire support, the plan must support the force commander's intent, consider security, and limit impact on the tactical maneuver commander's maneuver area.

Maintain and Resupply

Maintaining and resupplying the MLRS battalion is essential to sustaining the combat power of the unit and of the force as a whole. Chapter 6 discusses this task as a part of CSS operations.


To provide the support, the battalion must survive. The unit must implement tactics, techniques, and procedures that enhance the unit's ability to survive. These include everything from the avoidance of detection by the enemy to conducting detailed operational decontamination of personnel and equipment and effectively employing maneuver security forces under the operational control of the unit.

Battalion Headquarters

The MLRS is an extremely versatile and flexible system. Therefore, the MLRS battalion commander must consider several options when organizing the staff for tactical operations. In addition to the factors of METT-T, he must consider survivability, dispersion, support requirements, past experience, and SOPs. He can devise almost any option to accomplish the unit mission. Several options are addressed below.

Option 1--Dual CPs

The HHS is divided into a battalion CP and a battalion trains. At the battalion CP, the Operations, Intelligence, and fire direction sections act as the TOC and provide C2 for the battalion elements and the primary comm link to the controlling force FA headquarters. The TOC also monitors and, if necessary, coordinates for logistical support through the ALOC for the forward elements of the battalion.

At the battalion trains, the ALOC coordinates and controls support operations. The battalion XO supervises the ALOC. The HHS HQ, trains, and ALOC are located in one area. See Chapter 6 for logistical support information.

This type of organization emphasizes a reduced signature of the battalion HQ and increased responsiveness of the battalion CSS system. The POL resupply, maintenance, medical treatment, ammo resupply, and other support operations are handled by the ALOC and/or trains personnel. Signal personnel may stay with the TOC.

Option 2--Consolidated CP

The entire HHS, both TOC and ALOC with trains, is located in one position area. This option derives the greatest measure of local defense from organic elements and simplifies TOC and ALOC procedures and operations. However, if battalion ammo resupply operations are centralized at battalion level, the size and operational signature of the combined TOC, ALOC, and trains may facilitate the enemy locating, targeting, and attacking the CP.

Option 3--Mixed CPs

The HHS is split into a battalion CP and a battalion trains as with Option 1. The commander moves some of the trains support elements to the battalion CP location and places them under the control of the TOC. He leaves the rest under the control of the ALOC to operate from the trains area. The primary objective is to move critical support as far forward as possible within operational and/or situational constraints and to provide greater security for the battalion CP.

Battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC)

Within the TOC there are three distinct but related operations: fire direction, operations, and intelligence (see Chapter 5 for more information on fire direction). Although the functions differ, they must work together to ensure effective delivery of fires. The S3 supervises the TOC.

Operations Responsibilities

  • Issue plans and orders.
  • Establish liaison as required.
  • Plan and coordinate all unit movements.
  • Coordinate positioning with controlling FA headquarters or maneuver FSE.
  • Record all significant events on DA Form 1594 (Duty Log).
  • Maintain operational overlays.
  • Maintain a situation map.
  • Monitor and project ammo status and/or requirements.
  • Establish communications on appropriate nets (see Chapter 7).
  • Exercise staff supervision of unit NBC operations.
  • Ensure operations security (OPSEC).

Intelligence Responsibilities

  • Enemy situation awareness.
  • Terrain analysis.
  • Intelligence information processing and coordination.
  • Weather updates.
  • Management of target-related information.
  • Map control.
  • Physical security.

Liaison Function

Although the liaison section is not physically part of the TOC, the two teams provide the TOC an essential link to numerous supported, supporting, and adjacent headquarters and agencies. Corps MLRS battalions have an organic liaison section consisting of two liaison teams. One team includes the LNO, a liaison sergeant, and a liaison specialist. The other team consists of the senior liaison sergeant and the assistant liaison sergeant. Each team is equipped with a HMMWV with FM radios (ANVRC-92A), a PLGR, and a MLRS FDS. Divisional batteries do not have organic liaison teams. However, when divisional batteries are assigned a R or GSR mission, they must provide for liaison. This function may be accomplished by the battery commander, ammunition platoon leader, 1SG, or another experienced NCO, depending on the situation. Liaison responsibilities include the following:

  • Passing information on the tactical situation to the reinforcing battalion CP.
  • Ensuring that both units establish radio nets for-

-Exchanging orders, situation reports, and intelligence reports.

-Passing fire missions.

-Quick-fire nets, as required.

  • Passing unit locations, ammunition status, weapon strength, target lists, and fire plans between the two units.

Liaison is a function rather than a position. As long as the functional requirement is met to the satisfaction of the commanders involved, exchange of LNOs is not absolutely required. If the two units choose to collocate CPs or FDCs, the liaison requirement has been met and no liaison officer is required. If both units are automated and digital communications are adequate, a liaison officer may not be necessary.

When a corps MLRS battalion is assigned a tactical mission of GS, it will normally still be positioned in the area of operation of a maneuver brigade. The commander may consider sending one of his liaison teams to the maneuver brigade FSE. This team can assist the battalion commander in tracking the maneuver situation and in keeping the maneuver commander informed of the location and status of a sizable friendly force that is in his area but not under his control. When supporting a MAGTF, the Marine controlling FA headquarters will provide a reciprocal liaison to the MLRS unit (see Appendix E, LNO Checklist).

Battalion Administrative and Logistics Operations Center (ALOC)

The ALOC monitors and coordinates all tactical logistics functions affecting the MLRS battalion and its subordinate or attached units. The Bn XO executes overall supervision of these functions with the S1, S4, and select members of the special staff directly coordinating and controlling service support activities in these functions:

  • Manning.
  • Arming.
  • Fueling.
  • Fixing.
  • Moving.
  • Sustaining soldiers and their systems.


The Bn S1 is responsible for personnel readiness, replacement, and casualty management. Included in these are:

  • Personnel strength accounting.
  • Replacement management (assignment and requisition).
  • Casualty reporting and management.


The Bn S4, in coordination with the TOC and battery LOCs, is responsible for ammunition management and resupply (including small arms and MFOM) in support of MLRS battalion operations. Key considerations are MSR deconfliction, threat, and projected operational tempo (OPTEMPO) driven requirements.


The Bn S4, again in coordination with the TOC and battery LOCs, is responsible for ensuring the battalion's Class III (bulk and package) on hand quantities are sufficient to facilitate current and future operations. Key considerations are main supply route (MSR) availability, threat, and project unit moves (frequency, speed, and distance).


The BMO and battalion maintenance technician (BMT) are responsible for recovery, evacuation, and overflow from unit maintenance collection point (UMCP), to direct support units (DSU) locations, as required, organizational level repair of unit tactical and combat vehicles and engineer equipment. He directs the activities of the Bn maint section and DS unit MSTs. Additionally, he is responsible for coordinating Class IX repair parts availability. The BSO, although normally forward at the TOC, coordinates commo maintenance support.


The Bn S4 is responsible for coordinating external augmentation of unit organic capability as required.

Sustaining Soldiers and Their Systems

There are five elements to sustaining soldiers and their systems. Responsibility for these is shared across the staff--specific staff proponency.



Personnel Services

S1, Chaplain, Legal

Health Services

S1, PA

Field Services


Quality of Life


General Supply


Functional Command Post

The battalion TOC and ALOC must be organized to conduct sustained 24-hour operations. The purpose of the functional CP is to standardize the functions and equipment within the command post organization of units.

Current functional diagrams for the MLRS battalion CP are in Appendix F. These diagrams use personnel and equipment authorizations in the current objective L-series TOE and are designed to--

  • Improve effectiveness in executing C2 functions.
  • Improve C2 interoperability.
  • Improve application of limited CP resources.

The MLRS battalions should use these diagrams as a source for developing tactical SOPs and for determining specific materiel and personnel requirements and training programs for CP sections and individuals.

Section II


Battery Headquarters

The MLRS firing battery is the basic unit of employment of the MLRS. This chapter addresses battery employment and operations. Platoon-level operations, which differ from battery-level operations, are addressed in Section 3. Instructions covering features of combat operations which lend themselves to definite or standardized procedures without loss of effectiveness should be covered by TSOP. (For a guide and checklist for preparing an MLRS battery TSOP, see Appendix D.)

The battery HQ provides command, control, and logistical support to the battery. The command element and the BOC provide the command and control. The rest of the headquarters has the assets to enable the battery to function independent of any battalion control. The elements and sections organic to the battery HQ perform almost all service support functions normally associated with the battalion.

Battery Operations Center (BOC)

The battery operations officer supervises the BOC. The BC can establish a BOC staff whose shifts may include the operations officer, the ammo platoon leader and sergeant, the fire direction computer, the NBC NCO, and the supply sergeant.

The BOC operates in the FDC armored CP carrier tent extension. The battery and battalion command (voice) nets can be remoted to field tables in the extension. The BOC establishes communications with the essential HQ elements. The BOC personnel maintain situation maps and overlays. They maintain SCP, ammunition, maintenance, and similar status charts and post other operational information in the tent extension.

Operations. The MLRS BOC is the C2 center of the battery. The BOC directs all battery operations in coordination with the battery commander. It directly controls FDC, survey, and NBC operations. It monitors ammo and launcher status and directs battery internal and external logistics and support operations. The BOC passes movement orders and other information to the subordinate platoons directly to platoon HQ.

Fire Direction. The MLRS firing battery FDC operates as a sub-element of the BOC. With the FDS, it controls all tactical fire direction.

Logistics Operations Center (LOC)

The battery LOC is the primary C2 center for all adminlog operations, maintenance, and battery defense. It coordinates to procure external support and directs internal admin-log operations to include resupply. The LOC accomplishes these tasks in accordance with (IAW) priorities set by the BOC. The ammunition platoon leader/sergeant and/or 1SG directly supervises LOC operations.

Split Headquarters Operations


There are basically two options for employment of the battery headquarters; dual and consolidated. Food service, supply, communication, and maintenance sections may be consolidated with the BOC at the battery HQ. When consolidated, wire communications should be established between the LOC and the BOC. The BOC is the focal point for support requests, planning, and coordination. Dual headquarters operations can be accomplished by the firing battery establishing a battery trains with a LOC as a logistics command post. The LOC activities are still directed by the BOC. The commander decides which assets to deploy with the LOC and which to leave with the BOC. Commanders should consider the following when organizing their command posts.

Terrain. An elevated location is needed by the BOC for communications. The logistics elements (ammo platoon, maintenance, and supply) require a good road network and firm ground. If these two needs cannot be met at the same location, the commander may choose to separate the elements; for example, he may place the BOC on a hill and the trains in a nearby town.

Enemy. Because of enemy counterfire or air attack capability, the commander may choose to split operations. The BOC's large signature may jeopardize the entire headquarters.

Communications. Distance increases C3 and defense challenges and requires the LOC to monitor the battery command or other designated frequency. The radio in the ammo platoon's HMMWV can be used to monitor the net. This restricts, however, the use of the vehicle. When the LOC is located near the BOC (within 200 m), wire line communications can be used between the two operations centers. This reduces C3 problems and the electronic signature.

Battery Headquarters Positioning Considerations

Battery Operations Center

The BC or first sergeant should locate the BOC on elevated terrain for communications. It should be in the center of the headquarters position for maximum protection against ground attack.

Food Service

This section should be located on firm, accessible ground; should have good drainage; and should be upwind from the field latrine. The food service section machine gun and cargo truck should be positioned to cover critical areas of the headquarters position, such as an avenue of approach.

Maintenance Section and Direct Support Attachments

This section should be placed to cover a portion of the defensive perimeter and to allow maintenance vehicles to move in and out easily in support of the platoons. The maintenance (maint) section has a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the recovery vehicle and an M60 machine gun. Both should be sited and used for position defense or emplaced at an LP and/or OP. The section also should be heated on firm, accessible ground that gives dispersion of the section vehicles and vehicles being repaired and recovered. Maintenance recovery vehicles usually move last in the march order.


This section requires firm terrain as well. The supply vehicles (not including the POL tankers) are placed to cover a portion of the headquarters position. The supply and POL vehicles are placed for easy access to and from the position. The supply section has an M60 machine gun which can be emplaced as part of the position defense or on an LP or OP.

Ammunition Holding Area

The AHA should be adjacent or closest to the MSR. It should be large enough to hold all of the battery HEMTT-HEMATs. It should be easily located, in darkness or daylight, by the ammo platoon personnel. Placed closest to the main supply route (MSR), the AHA controls the main access route into the area.

Other Headquarters Elements

The rest of the headquarters platoon usually locates near the BOC. The NBC NCO works in the BOC, while the commander's vehicle and tent usually are located within 50 m of the BOC. The PADS survey section should be located within easy access of the BOC.

Battery Defense

Threat Capabilities

The enemy will direct actions against the field artillery to suppress, neutralize, and/or destroy our capability to fight.

Detection. Detection is done through the study of our doctrine and the processing of SIGINT, imagery intelligence (IMINT), and human intelligence (HUMINT).

  • Signals Intelligence. Using signal intercept and radio direction finding (RDF) equipment, the enemy collects various FM and amplitude modulated (AM) radio transmissions. Tactical FM radios operating on low power can be picked up by enemy RDF units at distances in excess of 10 km. High-power signals can be detected at distances up to 40 km. However, directional antennas and reduced radio usage will improve survivability. Radars can detect firing weapons to a 200 m accuracy. Seismic and sound ranging can produce targets within 150 m. However, their accuracy is diminished by other battle noise.
  • Imagery Intelligence. This effort consists of photographic imagery, thermal detection, radar location, and laser imagery. Unless assigned as a special mission, the processing of IMINT requires six to eight hours. Target location error from IMINT is 200 m.
  • Human Intelligence. Long-range patrols, spies, partisans, and enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) are the HUMINT collectors. Although HUMINT relies primarily on visual observation, the peculiar equipment, predicted activities, bumper marking, spoils of war, and rubbish that is left behind add to the accuracy of the targeting effort.

Attack. A battery can be suppressed and destroyed by the following:

  • Counterfire.
  • Air attack.
  • Ground forces.
  • Electronic Warfare.

Headquarters Position Defense

The primary method of survivability for an MLRS firing battery is to avoid detection. The battery headquarters should use natural and manmade camouflage, noise and light discipline, and terrain to reduce the risk of detection from the ground or air.

The battery headquarters should position .50 caliber machine guns, M60 machine guns, antitank weapons, and M203 grenade launchers to orient on likely enemy avenues of approach. The listening posts (LPs) and observation posts (OPs) should provide sufficient early warning to the battery.

The BOC must stay attuned to the current tactical situation and ensure that information is disseminated to all battery elements. Especially important is information pertaining to enemy locations and disposition, friendly units in or near platoon OPAREAs, the NBC threat, and locations of friendly and enemy minefields.

Defense Against Armored or Mechanized Force

The best defense against an armored or mechanized ground attack is for the MLRS platoon to move to a position from which it can continue the mission (alternate OPAREA) without a direct confrontation with the enemy.

Defense Against Air Attack

Concealment is the best defense against air attack. If the unit is detected and attacked, the key to survival is dispersion and engaging attacking aircraft with a large volume of fire. Fortunately, MLRS units are naturally dispersed, therefore providing enemy aircraft an elusive target. Normally, the MLRS unit will fall within the supported unit's air defense umbrella and may have air defense assets attached. This does not preclude the use of all available direct fire weapon systems in returning fire.

Defense Against Dismounted Attack

Dismounted enemy elements will attack using:

  • Special operations forces (SOF) using indirect fire.
  • Ambushes.
  • Guerrilla-type attacks (normally not exceeding platoon size and often conducted at night or in adverse weather).
  • A diversionary attack and then a main attack.
  • Dismounted infantry.

The best defense against a dismounted ground attack is to displace to an alternate position. In some situations, where the counterfire threat is minimal, launchers may operate from mutually supporting hide areas. These HAs may allow launchers to observe each other and provide early warning of dismounted ground attack.

Equipment and Materiel Destruction Procedures

The BC must ensure that the unit SOPs include the procedures for the destruction of unit equipment and materiel. He designates personnel to perform the destruction and ensures that adequate emergency destruction (ED) material is available. See TM 43-0002-16, FM 5-250 and STANAG 2113 for guidance in preparing unit SOPs.


The MLRS battery displacement options resemble those of other FA units, however, the BOC directs and controls the displacement of subordinate platoons. The BC usually is directed to displace by battery, battery echelon, or platoon. Some considerations in selecting an option for displacement are as follows:

  • Maneuver unit scheme of movement.
  • Continuous fire support (fire plans/targets).
  • Overall tactical situation.
  • Immediate and future requirements of the supported unit.
  • Characteristics of the terrain to be traversed.
  • Distance of march.
  • Time available
  • Enemy capabilities.
  • Command and control capabilities.

Displacement by Platoon

This is the most common and preferred method of MLRS displacement for divisional MLRS batteries. One firing platoon at a time is displaced, either as a complete platoon or by individual vehicle infiltration.

Displacement by Battery Echelon

In this method, one or two of the major elements of the battery are moved in two or more groups, such as two firing platoons. Then elements of the battery HQ or ammo platoon and the rest of the battery are moved.

Displacement by Battery

This method, displacement of the entire battery at once, is the least preferred for divisional MLRS batteries, but, may be preferred for MLRS battalions. Distance, mission, route priorities, or the overall tactical situation may dictate a battery-level move.

Jump Battery Operations Center

Each BOC tries to maintain C3 and fire direction processing while moving. This is not always possible. A firing platoon can assume control of the battery as the headquarters displaces or if the FDS becomes nonmission-capable. The platoon FDS enters the digital net with the div arty TACFIRE/IFSAS, MLRS battalion FDS, or corps TACFIRE. Once this link occurs, the platoon assumes the role of battery FDC. The BC must ensure continuity of C2.

Tactical Marches

A tactical march is the movement of a unit or elements of a unit under actual or simulated combat conditions. There are several methods for moving an element in a tactical configuration. Each method has specific advantages and disadvantages. The BC decides which method or combination is best.

Open Column

The open column 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, or when the travel distance is great. A vehicle interval in an open column is generally 100 m.

The advantages of the open column 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.
  • Less vulnerability to indirect fire.

The disadvantages of the open column areas follows:

  • Greater column length requires more road space and more time to close on the OPAREA.
  • Other traffic often becomes interspersed in the column.
  • Communication within the column is complicated.

Close Column

In close column movement, the vehicle interval is less than 100 m. Close column is used to maintain maximum command and control during periods of limited visibility or when moving through built-up or congested areas.

The advantages of the close column areas follows:

  • Simplicity of command and control.
  • Less time to close on the OPAREA.
  • Reduced column length.
  • Concentration of defensive firepower.

The disadvantages of the close column areas follows:

  • The column is vulnerable to enemy observation and attack.
  • The strength and nature of the column are quickly apparent to enemy observers.
  • Convoy speed is reduced.
  • Driver fatigue is increased.


When the battery moves by infiltration, vehicles are dispatched individually or in small groups without reference to a march table. Though 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.

The advantages of infiltration are as follows:

  • Vehicles are less vulnerable to hostile observation.
  • Opportunities for cover are increased.
  • Defense against air and artillery attack is provided.
  • The enemy is deceived as to the size of the unit.

The disadvantages of infiltration areas follows:

  • It is time-consuming.
  • It is difficult to command and control.
  • Vulnerability of small elements is increased.

Terrain March

The terrain march is an off-road movement to reduce vulnerability and to avoid traffic. A unit using this type of movement should travel close to tree lines, along gullies, and close to hill masses. When enemy observation or interdiction by artillery fire or air attack is likely, a terrain march should be conducted. A unit 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 makes an inviting target.

The terrain march should be considered when traveling to subsequent positions, but first, the following factors should be considered:

  • Displacement time may be increased.
  • Ground recon is required.
  • Soil conditions and other natural obstacles may complicate this type of movement.
  • Wheel or track marks to the new position may be left.
  • Extensive coordination is required to avoid traveling through other unit areas.

The MLRS unit employing the terrain march may move in open column, in close column, or by infiltration.

Special Formations

Based on the theater of operations and the tactical situation, the BC may choose to move his platoons in a special formation such as a wedge or multiple wedge. This is most appropriate in a desert environment where there are few obstacles to movement, visibility exceeds several kilometers, movement is over extended distances, and/or there is a need to provide rocket fires while moving. Commanders should consider placement of vehicles to protect C2 elements and make most efficient use of available weapon systems for defense. (See Figure 4-1.)

Conduct of the Movement

Preparation for the move should include the following actions:

  • Conduct preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) of equipment.
  • Recover wire.
  • Replace section equipment in the proper storage areas.
  • Remove overhead cover and camouflage.
  • Load all service elements, such as mess and maintenance.

The organization of the column varies according to the tactical situation, the threat, and the position to be occupied. The following considerations apply:

  • Vehicles should be arranged in an order that facilitates speed, occupation of the new position, and defense during movement and occupation.
  • Preparations should be made for personnel in a convoy to return fire, if attacked.
  • Key personnel and equipment should be dispersed throughout the column. This enhances command and control during attack and precludes losing a large number of critical soldiers and equipment to enemy action.

The following control measures help in the movement and are normally established by higher headquarters.

  • The start point (SP) is a clearly defined initial control point on a route at which specified elements of a column of ground vehicles come under the control of the commander having responsibility for the movement.
  • A checkpoint is a predetermined point on the ground used as a means of coordinating friendly movement. Checkpoints are not used as reference points in reporting enemy locations.
  • The release point (RP) is a clearly-defined control point on a route at which specific elements of a column of ground vehicles revert to their respective commanders, each one of these elements continuing its movement toward its own appropriate destination.
  • A rally point is an easily identifiable point on the ground at which units can reassemble/reorganize if they become disbursed.
  • A route-marking detail marks the route by posting signs and/or personnel at critical locations to guide the convoy. Details concerning traffic control and route marking are in FM 19-25 and FM 55-30.
  • Predetermined signals, such as colored flags and flashlights, should be established by SOP to aid in convoy control.

March Discipline

Officers and NCOs ride where they can best control and supervise the march of their units. The senior person in each vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all orders concerning the march are carried out.

The column must keep moving. The unit SOP should indicate who stops to pickup mission-essential personnel and equipment if a vehicle breaks down. Usually, the driver stays with the vehicle and the maintenance section stops to help. If the disabled vehicle cannot be repaired in a reasonable time or be recovered by the unit, the position and condition of the vehicle are reported to higher headquarters for recovery. To be available for the rest of the unit, the maintenance section must be prepared to proceed along the route of march independently and as soon as possible. The maintenance section and all other sections must have maps and must be thoroughly briefed concerning the route of march.

Each vehicle commander must watch for signs, markers, signals, and other traffic.

March discipline is attained through training and internal control within the marching unit. The specific objective of march discipline is to ensure cooperation and effective teamwork by march personnel as follows:

  • Respond immediately and effectively to all signals.
  • Relay all signals promptly.
  • Obey traffic regulations and the instructions of traffic control personnel.
  • Use cover, concealment, camouflage, dispersion, radio listening silence, blackout precautions, and other protective measures against air, ground, and NBC attack.
  • Maintain correct speeds, positioning, and intervals between vehicles within the column.
  • Recognize route-marking signals and signs.
  • Use correct procedures for handling disabled vehicles.

During extended vehicle marches from rear areas to the main battle area (MBA), sites that provide cover and/or concealment should be selected for the halts needed to service equipment or to rest personnel. Security must be maintained at these locations.

March Column Contingencies

Immediate Action Procedures

An MLRS firing battery or platoon is a high-priority target for the enemy. The MLRS units are most vulnerable to attack while moving, therefore, they must establish a SOP for defensive actions if attacked on the march. In establishing this SOP, the BC or platoon leader must consider the following:

  • Enemy situation (kinds of attack to be expected).
  • Organic resources available to counter each kind of attack.
  • Nonorganic support available to counter attacks (fire support from FA units and so on).
  • Amount of time available for training the unit in particular defensive actions (such as infantry squad tactics in response to a blocked ambush).
  • Type of comm system to be employed with defensive actions (flags, radio, arm-and-hand signals, etc.).
  • Means of protecting the battery or platoon.
  • Methods to neutralize the attack.

March Column Under Artillery Attack

The defensive action in response to artillery fire is to move out of the danger area, report the situation to higher headquarters, and request immediate counterfire. If a unit expects hostile artillery fire during the march, it can reduce its vulnerability by using one of the following methods of movement:

  • Open column or infiltration.
  • Movement during darkness or other periods of reduced visibility.
  • Terrain march.

March Column Under Air Attack

Under an air attack, the unit should immediately engage the aircraft with all air defense weapons available in the column. At the same time, it should disperse off both sides of the road and halt. High-performance aircraft can be effectively engaged with low-volume, independent, small-arms fire. As the aircraft approach, all personnel in the column should fire their weapons in the air two football fields (200 m) in front of the aircraft to form a wall of bullets through which the aircraft must fly.


When halted by a roadblock, the unit must apply, on both sides of the roadblock, the maximum amount of firepower available. If nonorganic support is available, such as close air support or covering artillery or armor, the convoy commander or controlling authority should request it immediately. If the roadblock cannot be neutralized, the unit must disengage under cover of supporting fires. Upon disengaging, the unit should meet at a designated rally point and then resume its march by using an alternate route. An attempt to crash through a roadblock with vehicles before the roadblock is checked for mines can result in unnecessary loss of equipment and personnel. The road may become completely blocked by disabled vehicles.


There are two types of ambush--blocked and unblocked. Both must be countered in the same manner: Get out of the kill zone, and neutralize the ambushing force with firepower.

If the route is blocked, maximum available fire should be placed immediately on the attacking forces. Personnel in the kill zone should dismount, attack as infantry, and evacuate the kill zone as soon as possible. Convoy personnel not in the kill zone also must react immediately and outflank the ambushing forces.

In an unblocked ambush, the convoy should increase its speed and move through the ambush area while placing the maximum amount of small-arms fire on the attackers.

The area may have been identified during the map inspection as a likely ambush site, and on-call fires may have been planned. If so, the convoy commander or controlling authority executes on-call fires. Otherwise, he immediately sends a fire request to the FDC of the controlling FA headquarters.

The ambush or any other enemy action may be of such magnitude that the column is broken up. Then individual elements should go on their own to the position or designated rally points.

Survey Support

Each MLRS firing battery has a survey section, equipped with one PADS. It provides survey control for the current and planned platoon OPAREAs. Each launcher section is equipped with a GPS device (AN/PSN-l1).

Launcher crews use SCPs to initialize, update, and calibrate the launcher PDS. Although M270 launchers do not require directional control, there must be horizontal and vertical position control in each of the platoon OPAREAs. There may also be a requirement for establishing SCPs for conducting PDS calibration. The survey section establishes these SCPs with the PADS by using 10-minute Z-VEL (zero-velocity) corrections.

Required Accuracies

There are different accuracies associated with SCPs for MLRS and required accuracies for firing. Although the SCP accuracy requirements may seem restrictive, they are based on the accuracy of the launcher SRP/PDS and the assumption that the launcher will move no more than 6 to 8 km between SCPs before conducting an update. The SCP accuracy requirements ensures that after the launcher moves 6 to 8 km the SRP/PDS will retain an accuracy within the prescribed MLRS firing point requirement. STANAG #2934 and QSTAG #269 define the MLRS SCP accuracy requirement as 8 meters CEP for position and 3.6 meters probable error (PE) in altitude (see Table 4-1).

System Accuracy

The two primary systems for establishing position control (PADS and PLGR) have different system accuracies (see Table 4-2).

Based on both the system accuracies of PADS and PLGR and the required accuracies established for SCPs and FPs, the PADS is currently the only means to establish position control at SCPs. The PLGR can be used to establish position control if the data is entered during an update at the FP from which the launcher will fire.


The accuracy of the data produced by PADS is directly related to the accuracy of its starting data. MLRS units require fifth-order survey. Whenever possible, starting data for the battery PADS should be at least of fourth-order accuracy (see Table 4-3). These data can be obtained from higher headquarters, trig lists, or from other artillery units operating in the same area as the MLRS unit. When surveyed starting data are not available, use alternate methods described below. Survey control is provided to the platoons by the battery survey team. The points the battery survey team establishes should be considered SCPs. Ideally, the SCPs are located on readily identifiable and accessible terrain, such as road junctions. The launcher personnel must be able to locate each point and stop the launcher at the SCPs without excessive maneuvering. Within platoon OPAREAs, SCPs for launcher updates are established at the reload points. The POC personnel give SCP coordinates and altitude to each launcher section and the PADS survey section. They also leave these data on a tag at a marker to identify the SCP.

The survey section is controlled by the BOC and directed to link up with the platoon leader requiring survey support. The locations of all SCPs are maintained on the BOC situation map or charts for future use. Upon completion of his survey mission, the PADS chief reports directly to the BOC for further instructions.


If there is no survey control, the platoon leader must establish alternate methods of survey. He uses one of the following options:

  • Use the PLGR (AN/PSN-11) to establish survey.
  • Use adjacent unit SCPs or their survey assets to extend survey control into the OPAREA.
  • Use SCPs outside the OPAREA. Depending on the number of SCPs and their distance from the firing points, this method may severely limit platoon operations, since launchers should be updated after 6 to 8 km of travel.
  • Use the launcher SRP/PDS to establish SCPs in the OPAREA by transferring survey from other SCPs and known points. This method may create some accuracy loss (accuracy depends on the distance traveled by the launcher); however, it is as accurate as hasty survey techniques up to an 8 km transfer-distance, and it is faster.
  • Use a hasty survey (a graphic resection) to establish SCPs. The steps for establishing survey control through graphic resection are described in Appendix G.
  • Use map spotting. Well-trained map readers using graphic training aid (GTA) 5-2-12 often can establish an SCP to the same accuracy as by using hasty survey techniques. Map spotting should be used only as a last resort.

Meteorological Support

The launcher FCS uses all lines of the current computer met message to compute rocket firing data. Rockets are particularity sensitive to low level winds.

Met messages usually are received in a digital secure mode from the controlling headquarters TACFIRE/IFSAS and/or MDS. They are routed through the battalion or battery FDS and sent to the FCS. The battery FDS sends met messages to all launchers and platoon FDSs simultaneously.

The platoon FDS can store the message and retransmit it to a launcher if necessary. Both the platoon FDS and the launcher FCS can be manually loaded with met data through keyboard entry if required.

The FDS interfaces directly with the MDS or MMS. Current met information can be obtained by communicating directly with the MDS on the met section net. The MDS is deployed down to FA brigades, while the MMS is used by light infantry, airborne, and air assault division artilleries.

Met Message Space and Time Validity

Space Considerations. The accuracy of a met message may decrease as the distance from the met sounding site increases. Local topography has a pronounced effect on the distance that met data can be reasonably extended. In mountainous terrain, distinct variations of wind occur over short distances. This effect extends to much greater heights than the mountain tops. Large bodies of water will affect both the time and space considerations of the met message due to the land and sea breezes and the effect of humidity on density (increases in humidity decrease air density). Met messages for artillery are considered valid up to 20 km from the balloon release point over gently rolling terrain. The validity distance decreases proportionally with the roughness of the terrain.

Time Consideration. The passage of time may decrease the accuracy of a met message because of the changing nature of weather. There are no specific rules for determining the usable time, since that determination will depend on the characteristics of the atmosphere, periods of transition, met section movement, personnel, supplies and equipment, and the altitude of the met message required by the firing unit. When the weather pattern is variable, the usable time is variable. If a frontal passage is forecast for the area, the met section will take a new sounding after the passage of the front. When the weather pattern is stable, and is forecast to remain so, time between messages may be extended up to several hours or longer, depending on the time of day and existing weather conditions.

Transition periods. Periods of transition account for a portion of the time consideration. General guidance in preparing flight schedules for soundings is discussed below.

  • During and just after sunrise, temperature changes occur as the atmosphere becomes heated. Temperatures are more stable throughout the afternoon. Therefore, soundings are performed more often (every two hours) in the morning and less often (every four hours) in the afternoon.
  • As sunset approaches, the air cools rapidly. During this time, changing temperatures are monitored closely. Flight schedules may have to be adjusted (to one every two hours) as the atmosphere cools. The cooling of the air stabilizes about two hours after sunset. At this time, flights normally return to a schedule of once every four hours.
  • During night and early morning hours, the atmosphere reaches maximum cooling and becomes stabilized. During this time, soundings could be taken at intervals that exceed two hours and four hour intervals between flights are common.
  • Regardless of the above, the tactical situation and the immediate needs of the unit are the main considerations that determine sounding schedules.

Criteria for Use of Meteorological Data. The order of preference of various sources of met data (see Table 4-4) for use by MLRS units is:

  • Current met message from a station within 20 km of the launch point.
  • Current met message from the nearest station more than 20 km from the launch point.
  • Met messages more than two hours old but from a station within 20 km of the launch points. A 4-hour old met message may be used except when day/night transitions or frontal passages are occurring.

Met Message Checking Procedures

It is imperative that all personnel question any peculiarities noticed on their copy of a met message. Also, any time there is reason to doubt the timeliness and/or validity of a met message, the higher headquarters should be consulted. The battalion or battery headquarters will contact the source of the met message. Met section personnel are qualified to explain any message variations and/or to correct message transmission errors. Verbal dissemination of messages often induces copying errors, especially when a message is copied on paper other than the standard met message form. Message checking guidelines for personnel are covered in this section. Because the computer met message (Figure 4-2) is a record of actual measured weather conditions, it is likely to show drastic changes.

Message Heading

  • Check date and time entries to insure that the met message data are current. If the message is more than four hours old, check with the met section. (The date and time are Greenwich mean time [GMT], not local standard time.)
  • Check met station height.
  • The identification line pressure and surface (line 00) pressure should be the same.

Message Body

  • Wind speeds and directions should be fairly uniform with proportional changes in altitude.
  • Large changes in wind direction (1,000 mils) or abrupt increases or decreases in wind speeds (10-15 knots) should be investigated.
  • Temperature accuracy is difficult to evaluate. Erratic changes in temperature (e.g. 20 Kelvin) should be investigated.

Atmospheric pressures always decrease consistently from line to line. Pressure will never increase with height. Transposed figures are the most common errors in pressure values. If errors in pressure are determined, the met section must verify the corrected values.

Section III


Platoon Headquarters

The MLRS firing platoon conducts operations under the control of the battery, occupies a separate area of operations, and conducts its own RSOP. The MLRS firing platoon can be considered analogous to a cannon firing battery for fire support, positioning, and logistics considerations. Tactically, the platoon leader must do all of those tasks usually associated with the cannon battery commander. The leaders of the firing platoon must be innovative and creative in their approach to operations. The unique tactics of an MLRS firing platoon place great responsibility on personnel to meet their missions. Instructions covering features of combat operations which lend themselves to definite or standardized procedures without loss of effectiveness should be covered by TSOP. Preparation of MLRS platoon TSOPs is normally guided by a battery TSOP. (For a guide and checklist for preparing an MLRS battery TSOP, see Appendix D.)

Platoon Operations Center (POC)

The POC is located in an armored CP carrier with an FDS. The POC is manned by MLRS fire direction personnel and is supervised by the platoon leader or the platoon sergeant. The recon sergeant also may work in the POC when he is in the platoon HQ position. The platoon leader or platoon sergeant should locate the POC on elevated terrain for communications and should center it in the platoon HQ position for maximum protection against ground attack and ease of platoon internal wire communications.

Command and Control

The platoon leader and platoon sergeant are responsible for the command and control of platoon operations and for advising the BC and/or BOC on their launcher and ammo status. The BC and/or BOC directs the platoon leader and sergeant concerning the specific number of operational launchers that are posturing for specific munitions and ready to fire status. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant are responsible for coordinating all logistical support with the LOC. The POC personnel monitor all traffic between the BOC and the launchers by using the platoon FDS. Loss of the platoon FDC would severely hinder platoon command and control. The POC personnel maintain a DA Form 1594 and a DA Form 7232-R. A reproducible copy of DA Form 7232-R is at the back of this manual. An example of an MLRS FDC Fire Mission Log is shown in Chapter 5. Fire Mission Logs should be maintained for one year as a record of live fire missions conducted.


The POC is the hub of platoon support activities. Any attached MSTs stay with the platoon HQ and are deployed IAW unit SOP. Launchers, in an inoperational (INOP) status, normally move to the platoon HQ area to reduce the security, command, control, and resupply burdens.

Operational Area (OPAREA)

An MLRS platoon area should be large enough to allow a 3 by 3 km OPAREA by the platoon leader's map and ground recon (see Figure 4-3). Exact size of the OPAREA is a function of METT-T and a result of risk assessment. The tactical situation may require that platoons modify the size of the OPAREA. Smaller areas severely restrict the platoon leader's employment options, the length of time the platoon can occupy, and the survivability of the platoon. Regardless of the size, the entire OPAREA may not be used intensively nor exclusively. However, after use by MLRS launchers, the firing point (FP) areas may be subjected to intense enemy counterfire; therefore, they are considered highly dangerous. Except for cases of tactical necessity, launchers should use a firing point only once. The signature of the M270--noise, smoke, and fire--makes it easily identifiable from a great distance, especially in open terrain. Quality terrain is desired by all units, and parts of the MLRS platoon OPAREA can be used by other units. This often requires MLRS units to conduct face-to-face coordination with units on the ground. There are six types of positions within the OPAREA; each type may have several locations. The platoon leader or platoon sergeant must identify all OPAREA position types by grid during a recon. These positions are discussed below.

Firing Point (FP)

Each platoon OPAREA should have at least nine FPs, three for each launcher. Each launcher section chief is responsible for selecting his firing points. The following are considerations in selecting a firing point:

  • The platoon leader is responsible for selecting firing areas. The section chief then selects FP locations (the launchers should not fire from slopes greater than 89 mils).
  • There should be no immediate mask in the probable direction of fire.
  • Hide areas (HAs) should normally be located within 100 m of the FP, however, longer distances are acceptable if response times can be kept short.
  • The FP may be on a "reverse slope" of a terrain feature. Although masks should still be considered, reverse slopes break line-of-sight with the FLOT and may reduce the threat of attack by enemy direct fire systems during firing operations.
  • The FP may be located on a road. For rocket missions, the road should be perpendicular to the general azimuth of fire. For missile missions, the road should parallel the general azimuth of fire. The road should lead directly to the RL or the next FP. This reduces ground signature, response time, and time required to move.
  • Communications must be established with the BOC and the POC.
  • It should be 500 m from any other FP (800 m preferred) and 800 meters from any other position or element except HAs.
  • For attack of critical, time sensitive targets with missiles, the launcher may be placed at my command (AMC) for extended periods of time (up to 2 hrs). FPs for these missions should also seine the purpose of a HA and provide concealment. These special FPs should be selected to enhance survivability while the launcher is laid on target waiting the command to fire.

Hide Area (HA)

The HA is selected by the launcher section chief. It is an area in which to hide the launcher while awaiting a fire mission. It should be a covered and concealed position close to the designated FP (normally not more than 100 m away). A launcher in the HA must be able to communicate with the BOC. The HA can be on a road leading to the FP to reduce a ground signature and to speed response time.

Reload Point (RL)

The RL is where the launchers upload launch pods and the HEMTT-HEMATs off-load. This is the most vulnerable point for each element. Each platoon OPAREA should have at least two RLs. The RL selection is based on the following:

  • Cover and concealment for a HEMTT-HEMAT and launcher in the position at the same time.
  • Maneuver room for the 100-foot turning radius of the 55-foot-long HEMTT-HEMAT and boom operations.
  • It should be at least 800 m from FPs and at least 500 m from any other element.
  • Firm ground or pavement for supporting vehicles and launch pods.
  • Covered and concealed route from AHA to RL.
  • Trafficability.

Survey Control Point (SCP)

The SCP is where the launchers update the PDS. At least two SCPs should be established in the OPAREA. These should be collocated with the RLs, to reduce travel time of the launchers. The same considerations, except in the area of Class V resupply, apply for SCPs as for RLs.

Platoon Headquarters

Platoon HQ is where the armored CP carrier CP track, the platoon leader's HMMWV, the platoon sergeant's HMMWV, and, if attached, the 27M DS MST vehicles are positioned. Normally, INOP launchers (being serviced, crew resting, etc.) are also positioned here. Each platoon OPAREA should have a primary platoon HQ location and an alternate location, if possible. The platoon HQ location is based on the following:

  • Optimum communications with the BOC and launchers.
  • Cover and concealment.
  • Communications mask between the position and the enemy.
  • Defensibility with the AHA.
  • Trafficability.

Ammunition Holding Area (AHA)

The AHA is where the ammo section positions its vehicles while awaiting transload or delivery of ammunition. It can be collocated with the platoon HQ if the ground threat is greater than the air attack or counterfile threat. Otherwise, the AHA should be 100 to 300 meters from the platoon HQ and astride the main entrance route into the platoon HQ for entry control. The AHA is not an issue point for the firing sections. The AHA selection considerations are as follows:

  • Cover and concealment.
  • Trafficability.
  • Maneuver room for the 55-foot-long HEMTT-HEMATs (100 ft turning radius).
  • Proximity to the MSR.
  • Defensibility with platoon headquarters.

Launcher Survey Control

Survey Control Points

Although cover and concealment are factors in SCP selection, utility should be the primary consideration. The SCP must be readily accessible so the driver can stop the launcher with the rear edge of the left drive sprocket aligned next to the SCP marker. The area and SCP marker must be such that the driver can position the launcher without ground guidance or excessive maneuvering. The SCPs should be collocated with a reload point, if possible. This allows rapid return of the launcher to operational status.

PDS Calibration

Calibration of the PDS (at least every 30 days, replacement of SRP/PDS, change in operating conditions, or after track or suspension maintenance) corrects for errors caused by differences in track tension or by wear of sprockets and track components. It accounts for the characteristics of each specific launcher. The crew calibrates the launcher PDS IAW the technical manual. The launcher, under specific operating conditions, requires two SCPs, 4 to 6 km apart with a straight route of travel between them, located to at least fifth-order accuracy. One point is used to initialize the PDS for location. The launcher is driven to the second SCP at about 40 km per hour, and the first set of calibration corrections is determined. The launcher is then driven back to the starting SCP, where a second set of calibration data is computed. If both sets of calibration data are within tolerance, the system is functional and an averaged set of data is used. Calibration is not normally conducted in the platoon OPAREA. The battery operations officer plans the calibration course (s) for the battery as part of his survey plan. They are normally centrally located behind the firing platoons. A valid calibration can be conducted with any weapon loaded when the appropriate cables (W19 and/or W20) are connected to the pod.

PDS Update

Errors that are a function of time and total distance are corrected by means of PDS updates. The PDS allows an error of up to 0.4 percent of the distance traveled. Crews should update launchers every 6-8 km of travel.

SRP Alignment

Errors that area function of time are corrected through the use of periodic SRP realignments. Realignments are required every 11 to 60 minutes of launcher movement depending on the munitions type and whether or not the SRP is compensated (see SRP/PDS). If the launcher is moved with the SRP turned off or not stabilized, the position location capability is lost. The system must then be updated at an SCP and the SRP realigned before the launcher can respond to any fire mission requests. Initial alignment of the system takes about eight minutes. However, allowing the SRP to stabilize 2 1/2 additional minutes longer after SRP READY is displayed will increase the time before realigmnent from 15 minutes to 60 minutes for rocket munitions and from 11 to 28 minutes for the Army TACMS.

Launcher Response Posture

A launcher response posture dictates its readiness to respond to fire missions. The commander determines how his unit launchers will be posturing. The commander normally directs the platoons to have a specific number of launchers in hot operational (OPER) status. The number is based on guidance from the controlling FA headquarters, METT-T, total launchers available, ammunition available, crew available, and fatigue. The platoon gives the BOC information on crew and launcher status and decides which launchers to posture as directed. The platoons usually rotate their launchers through hot status, changing individual launchers and maintaining the total number of required hot launchers. Commanders may designate the response posture of entire platoons.

The two methods of posturing, tactical and technical posturing (see Figure 4-4) are discussed below:

Tactical Posturing

Through several generations of software for the FCS and FDS, the terms hot, cool, and cold have come to indicate launcher action response posture.

Hot. Hot status indicates the launcher is fully capable of firing. Usually, the status is based on the launcher's electrical and mechanical systems, not on its location or ammunition load. A launcher may be hot and, therefore, mechanically capable of firing. However, it may not be on or near a FP; or perhaps it may not have any, or enough or the right type of ammunition aboard.

Cool. Cool status indicates a launcher is capable of firing but only after the SRP is aligned.

Cool status indicates the launcher SRP/PDS has been turned off but that all other systems are on and fully functional. To reduce long-term wear on the components, the crew enters the FCS auxiliary menu, selects SPLL COOL, and turns the SRP/PDS off. About eight minutes are required to align the SRP and return it to operational capacity when it is turned on again.

The FDS is notified of SPLL COOL status when the crew sends a LCHR LST launcher status message, indicating that the launcher is INOP--SPLL COOL. The FDS will not select an INOP launcher to fire.

Cold. Cold status indicates the launcher is not-mission-capable (NMC) for maintenance reasons or that one or more essential systems are shut down for maintenance, PMCS, crew rest, etc. If a cold launcher is mission-capable, it may take 30 minutes or more for it to respond.

Technical Posturing

The launcher crew makes one or more entries into the FCS to notify the BOC of the launcher status and location. These LCHR LST messages are entered as launcher OPER or INOP. Additional explanatory entries and the launcher's current location and altitude are entered.

OPER. Upon entering OPER into the LCHR LST message, the crew must choose a numeric code to further identify the launcher status. For OPER messages, these are location codes. When LCHR LST is sent, the FDS displays the launcher status (OPER or INOP), current ammo load, and code location (FP etc.). Code messages may be assigned by unit SOP; however, only the code number will appear on the FDS. For example, OPER 06 might indicate that the launcher is fire-mission-capable but is displacing with the platoon to a new OPAREA.

INOP. The crew usually sends an INOP LCHR LST message to the BOC when the launcher is NMC. Instead of indicating locations, like OPER codes do, INOP codes indicate reasons for the launcher being INOP. The codes may be assigned messages under unit SOP. The messages are displayed on the FDS when LCHR LST is transmitted. For example, INOP 07 might mean that the launcher is INOP if the crew is conducting PMCS or refueling.

LCHR LST. After entering the OPER or INOP codes, the crew must verify and enter the launcher's grid coordinates and altitude for transmission to the FDS. LCHR LST is transmitted after the location fields are edited. The LCHR LST messages can also be used to send additional information. If a fire mission is stored in the FCS, the crew edits and transmits the fire mission target number. If no fire mission is stored, the target number is sent blank. The number and type(s) of rockets on board also can be sent. This updates the FDS on the launcher ammo load. If the LLM has been laid for a fire mission, the crew can transmit the azimuth of fire, quadrant elevation (QE), and fuze time. If the LLM is not laid, these data are all zeros.

Fire Direction System Posturing. The FDS shows launchers as either OP, PART, MOBL, COOL, or INOP. The MOBL, COOL, or INOP launchers are not considered by the FDS when selecting a launcher to fire. The FDS continuously displays each launcher status as well as the code location and/or reason for the status. This provides easy reference for the BOC personnel in determining the battery's overall and individual launcher status and location. The FDS also can transmit a command message to a launcher, directing the crew to bring the launcher to a hot (OPER) status. This message automatically turns on the SRP/PDS to begin the process.

Detachment of the MLRS Firing Platoon

The MLRS firing platoon can provide fires without its parent MLRS battery or battalion. Logistical support of the detached platoon is a significant challenge. For a short time, a cannon battalion could provide limited support while the platoon's assigned ammo section provides short-haul Class V resupply. Detailed support must be planned and specific resources allocated to support the platoon before this type of mission is executed.

Section IV



Frequent moves are common to MLRS operations. Survival on the modern battlefield necessitates such tactics. The BC must anticipate movement and plan in advance for displacement. He must keep the controlling headquarters advised of all factors that will impact on the movement of a platoon, the headquarters, or the battery as a whole.

Because MLRS units are dispersed, firing platoons conduct their own RSOP and the BC and first sergeant conduct the recon and selection for only the battery HQ positions.

Platoon OPAREA reconnaissance is the responsibility of the platoon leader and the primary duty of the recon sergeant. The platoon recon party also may include the platoon sergeant in the platoon leader's absence and/or the ammo section chief (or his representative) to advise on AHA positioning.


The keys to successful RSOP are discipline, teamwork, and rehearsal. Battery and platoon RSOPs are executed in a four-step process.

The first step is to prepare for the upcoming occupation. Preparation will include a mission analysis to determine what the unit is required to do and how long it has to do it. The factors of METT-T are considered and troop leading procedures are initiated.

The second step involves reconnaissance. The time available will dictate the method of reconnaissance employed. The reconnaissance party is selected by the BC/1SG based upon the mission and unit TSOP. Ammo personnel are often included in recon parties to offer advice on vehicle placement and provide additional defensive firepower.

The third step involves the actual selection and occupation of the position by an advance party. Again, METT-T and unit TSOP will dictate the size and composition of the advance party. Personnel on the advance party prepare the selected position for occupation by the main body and conduct a security sweep. Battery headquarters personnel conduct advance party operations. Firing platoons prepare their positions during reconnaissance operations.

The fourth step is the assembly, movement, and occupation of the position by the main body. The main body usually begins this step only after the advance or recon party, with its jump BOC or forward Plt HQ, has emplaced and is ready to transfer C2.


Preparation must include briefing leaders on the following:

  • Mission.
  • Tentative next locations.
  • Proposed routes.
  • Adjacent units.
  • Possibly the designation of a POC as jump BOC if the BOC displaces and can no longer communicate.
  • Enemy situation (threat to movement and occupation).

In planning the RSOP, an analysis of the factors of METT-T is essential.


Providing responsive fire support is the overall mission. A key consideration for the MLRS battery commander is determining the movement technique (battery, platoon, or echelon) that best supports the fire support needs of the maneuver force.


All members of the battery must fully understand the enemy situation and related factors. An imminent enemy offensive requires increased MLRS fire support, which is degraded during moves. Enemy rear area incursions jeopardize moving elements; enemy target acquisition and counterfire capabilities may change the distance or frequency of displacement.


Terrain dictates time and distance requirements, primary and alternate routes, positioning possibilities within the assigned area, and many other factors.


Commanders and platoon leaders must consider the availability of troops and their state of morale, rest, and training.

Time Available

The maximum time possible must be allotted to MLRS commanders and leaders for the RSOP. However, the time available for RSOP changes constantly, and planning must include variations and contingencies.


At least four recons are required to move the entire battery into a new position (one for battery HQ and three for the firing platoons). The three types of recon are map, air, and ground.

Map Reconnaissance

The map recon is preliminary to the ground or air recon. Potential positions and routes to them are selected. This method is very fast; it allows unsuitable routes to be eliminated. Also, likely ambush sites, rendezvous points, checkpoints, and other pertinent locations can be identified on the map. The major disadvantages of the map recon are as follows:

  • Actual terrain conditions cannot be determined. Terrain features change with time, especially vegetation and the presence of manmade features. The map publication date should be checked.
  • Surface conditions of the route and the position cannot be determined accurately.
  • Other units may be in the position.
  • Enemy forces may be in the area.

Air Reconnaissance

An air recon is made in conjunction with map and ground recons, whenever possible. If time and resources are available, information gained from an air recon is very useful. Air recons are faster than ground recons. However, they may give an inaccurate picture of the surface conditions and may reveal the route and the new position to the enemy.

Ground Reconnaissance

This is the best type of recon because the routes and position can be physically examined. However, this is the slowest type of recon.

Selection and Occupation of Position

Battery Headquarters Considerations

The battery commander or first sergeant must consider many factors in the selection of the battery HQ area.

Mission. Mission is the most important consideration. The position must facilitate both C3 and logistical support to firing platoons.

Tactical Situation. The tactical situation largely dictates the following:

  • Location and size of the position area.
  • Whether or not the headquarters is split into separate BOC and LOC locations.
  • The technique of positioning the vehicles.
  • The use of terrain in defense of the unit.

Communications. The position must optimize communications between the battery HQ, controlling FA HQ, platoons, and launchers. Terrain communications masking will enhance survivability.

Defensibility. The position should permit both active and passive defense so that it-

  • Can be entered without enemy observation.
  • Offers good cover and concealment.
  • Has more than one entrance and exit.
  • Takes advantage of existing terrain features.

Trafficability. The soil must be firm enough to support the vehicles of the unit. If an urban location (town or village) is used, the street widths, bridge classifications/capacities, turning radii, and overhead objects must allow adequate clearances for the heavy and large battery vehicles.

Weather. Weather conditions and the effect of weather on the terrain must be considered.

Road Network Availability. The headquarters area should be on or near an MSR used by battery resupply and support vehicles going to and from the platoons, ATPs, ASPs, and supply distribution points.

Other Factors. Additional factors to be considered are as follows:

  • Zone of supported force.
  • Location of ATPs and ASPs.
  • Location of maneuver units.
  • Weather and trafficability in the supported zone.

Platoon OPAREA Considerations

One of the advantages of MLRS is that the system requires very little, if any, position preparation. The MLRS firing platoon uses no advance party. The position preparation that does occur is either completed during the reconnaissance or does not impact on operations and is completed after occupation.

The firing platoon has considerations beyond those discussed under the battery headquarters section:

  • Communications with the BOC.
  • Open areas for firing points.
  • Dispersion requirements of platoon locations; for example, FPs, HAs, RLs, SCPs, platoon HQ, and AHA.
  • Maximum cover and concealment for the platoon HQ, HAs, RLs, SCPs, and AHA.
  • Trafficability within the OPAREA and location of the MSR.
  • Availability of a road network to reduce ground signature.
  • Traffic patterns for reload and other operations.
  • No major terrain or manmade features interfering with OPAREA operations (rivers, major highways, cities, etc. . . .).
  • Establish easily identifiable displacement routes from the OPAREA.

Occupation. Once the platoon sergeant arrives with the main body of the platoon, the platoon leader must ensure all launchers reload, update SRP/PDS, receive OPAREA data, and are thoroughly briefed on the OPAREA. The platoon sergeant should ensure all combat, command and control, and support vehicles are positioned IAW the platoon leader's guidance.

Security. Because of the limited number of personnel, lack of crew-served weapons, and large size of the platoon area, defense against a ground attack is limited. The platoon is a high-priority target for enemy ground maneuver and special operations forces. Since the platoon is normally positioned as close as possible to the FLOT in the maneuver brigade sector, security must be a high priority to avoid exposing the launchers and nearby maneuver units to enemy ground or indirect fire attack. The keys to survivability are the avoidance of detection and passive defense. The platoon sergeant is in charge of the platoon area security and does the following:

  • Coordinates with DS cannon and maneuver units within the OPAREA for direct fire support and early warning of imminent attack.
  • Uses mines and trip flares if available (this requires extensive coordination).
  • Gives a rendezvous grid to each launcher for use in case of hasty or emergency displacement.
  • Places the M60 machine gun on the most likely avenue of approach to the platoon HQ (usually with LP and/or OP at the entry control point in the AHA).
  • Has launcher chiefs dismount one man in the HA to provide local security, except during a fire mission.

Masking Data

Masks are terrain features that have enough altitude to potentially interfere with the trajectory of the rocket or missile. There are two categories of masks: immediate and downrange. Immediate masks are within 2000 m of a launcher firing point and are measured and input to the FCS by individual section chiefs. Downrange (DR) masks are beyond 2000 m and are measured and input to the FDS by the platoon leader and/or battery operations officer IAW with unit operating procedures. Downrange masks are measured and applied in two ways: Crest Clearance Tables and Automated DR Mask Checks.

Crest Clearance Tables

The tables at Appendix H allow leaders to establish a minimum planning range beyond a crest for launchers in a specific firing area to ensure that rockets will clear the crest and that warhead event will not occur until the crest is cleared. This is most significant when deployed in mountainous regions. The planning range derived from the tables can be used to establish the size of the area beyond a crest that cannot be attacked from a particular firing point or OPAREA with rocket munitions.

Automated DR Mask Checks

Downrange masks can be entered in the FDS as three dimensional boxes around the terrain feature. They are then used by the FDS during tactical fire direction to determine if the target can be ranged from the launcher firing point (or platoon center) without striking a major terrain feature. The operations officer and/or platoon leader conducts a terrain profile analysis of the area and identifies terrain features that may interfere with the trajectory. He measures each of the terrain features in terms of altitude, width, and grid coordinates (see Figure 4-5). He then ensures entry of this data into the FDS database (see TB 11-7025-306-10-2). A consideration in using this method is that the three-dimensional box will normally be much larger than an existing terrain feature. This means that, although a terrain feature may not physically interfere with the trajectory, the described DR mask may cause the FDS to detect a violation. Leaders can reduce this effect by selecting the smallest acceptable value for DR mask width.

Section V


Force Projection

In order to provide long range artillery fires for contingency forces, MLRS units must be capable of deploying anywhere in the world with little or no notice. The discussions in this chapter cover planning considerations for contingency operations and deployment. This chapter is not intended to be all inclusive but rather to highlight considerations when planning for contingency operations.

Force projection usually begins as a contingency operation--a rapid response to a crisis. Alert may come without notice, bringing with it a tremendous stress on soldiers and systems, accompanied by pressure from various external sources. In any event, rapid, yet measured response is critical.

The following are considerations when preparing a force projection package:

Lethality for the Deploying Force

An important consideration for planning contingency operations that involve possible combat operations is to introduce credible, lethal forces early. A tailored force with enough assets--to include long range indirect fire assets--might enable the force to deter the enemy from attacking. The ability to rapidly airlift MLRS assets makes MLRS a logical choice when long range, lethal, indirect fires are needed.


MLRS commanders must anticipate deployments in order to mentally and physically prepare units for force projection missions. Anticipating possible contingency missions and planning for them reduces the amount of pressure and stress placed on soldiers and systems.

Force Tailoring

Force tailoring is the process of determining the right mix of units and the sequence in which they are to deploy. MLRS commanders must be ready to deploy subordinate elements of their unit to support a particular force projection package.


Early deploying units usually face a maze of complex information requirements--some relating to the enemy, others to local laws, availability of facilities, and similar considerations. Force projection operations need accurate and responsive tactical intelligence. In order to satisfy their intelligence requirements, MLRS commanders must determine the available sources and establish connectivity with appropriate agencies.


Successful force projection requires flexible logistics and support systems. MLRS commanders must consider all classes of supply and logistical support when preparing to deploy as part of a force projection package.


Demanding and relevant training is important. When alerted to deploy, MLRS units must build upon home station training by focusing on missions and conditions they expect to encounter in a particular contingency. Leaders must conduct mission essential individual and collective training during deployment and after arriving in the theater of operations (see Appendix I, Section Evaluation and Training).

Joint Operations

Joint operations occur when multiple service and functional components combine efforts under a JTF. The synchronization of air, land, sea, space, and special operations forces is critical to effectiveness and ultimate mission accomplishment MLRS units may support any of a number of components during joint operations. One of the most likely is MLRS support of a MAGTF. The exact size and composition of the MLRS unit to support MAGTF operations will be a function of METT-T. Normally, an MLRS battery or battalion will support a MEF or MEF Forward (MEF[Fwd]) based on METT-T.

Combined Operations

Combined operations occur when two or more nations combine their efforts in a military operation. Force projection operations will almost always involve operations with other nations. MLRS commanders and soldiers should be sensitive to cultural differences that may impact their operations.


MLRS units are capable of deploying by air, land, or sea as part of an all Army force or as part of a combined arms force. Timelines for deployment will always be driven by METT-T. Generally, this timeline will be developed based on reverse planning done at higher headquarters. Factors that affect reverse planning include but are not limited to: aircraft availability; type, size, and amount of equipment, and personnel and equipment attached.


The MLRS system has the ability to be deployed by C141B and larger type aircraft. MLRS commanders must ensure their soldiers are familiar with aircraft loading procedures as well as with Air Force rules and regulations regarding transport of equipment.


MLRS units must also be prepared to deploy their equipment by sea. This is especially true for follow-on forces. MLRS commanders should ensure that their units are familiar with all facets of sealift operations.


Often, units must move their equipment to a seaport by rail or heavy equipment transport (HET) then load the equipment onto ships. MLRS commanders must be familiar with specific vehicular requirements for transport and ensure that their soldiers are trained on proper loading techniques.

Deployment Packages

Since contingency forces are tailored to meet the specific mission requirements of a force projection package, the possibility exists that only parts of MLRS units will deploy as part of a force projection package. These packages assume that a slice of C2 up to the BN level will accompany each package. This allows for more rapid integration of follow-on elements of the battalion by having the structure in place. It also facilitates activities such as operational and logistics liaison with support from the battalion. Table 4-1 gives examples of possible MLRS packages that could be used to support difficult contingency operations. These tables are general in nature and do not include detailed ancillary personnel and equipment requirements. These tables do, however, include approximate numbers of direct support maintenance equipment and personnel.

Special Operations

Operations in Mountainous Terrain

More ammunition may be required to support the force in mountainous terrain because of reduced munitions effects. Cross-country restrictions force the enemy to use roads and trails, which will enhance interdiction fires. Additionally, mountainous regions may affect MLRS employment because of the low trajectory of MLRS rocket munitions. Leaders should use the crest clearance tables in planning platoon OPAREAs (see Appendix H).

C2 is degraded in mountainous regions because of decreased effectiveness of FM radio communications.

Movement control is more difficult on winding mountain roads. Occupation and displacement is also limited in these regions to the use of available roads, which generally are narrow and twisting. Terrain march may be impractical or impossible.

Logistics resupply is more difficult because of the limited number of roads and the slower convoy speeds. Survey may not be as accurate, and target acquisition may be limited by terrain masks. Ambushes are likely in this type of terrain.

Operations in Jungle Terrain

MLRS is not normally appropriate for jungle operations. The system requires open firing areas and freedom of movement in order to maximize both its effectiveness and survivability. In addition to these fundamental limitations, jungle operations present problems because of the high humidity and dense vegetation. Humidity may reduce electronic equipment and launcher LRU operability. Dense vegetation degrades M77 munitions effects. In a thick canopy, DPICM is ineffective.

Communications equipment is degraded because of high humidity, vegetation density, and electronic line-of-sight restrictions. Antennas may have to be elevated to overcome line-of-sight restrictions.

Immediate masks are prevalent in jungle terrain. Selection of platoon OPAREAs and launcher firing points is hampered by soft terrain and thick vegetation, because the ground on available roads is soft and use of terrain march is restricted. This type of terrain is much more suited to light cannon operations than MLRS.

Logistics resupply is hampered by reduced mobility and survey control is more difficult to establish. Target acquisition accuracy is degraded because of heavy foliage. Launchers should be positioned closer together to provide for better security.

Northern Region Operations

Northern operations are characterized by frozen earth, snow-covered terrain, intense sunlight, and prolonged darkness. Rocket and missile smoke trails last longer in cold weather, thus making launchers more readily identifiable to enemy TA assets.

Radio communications can be unreliable in extreme cold, and equipment may become inoperative.

Frozen, snow-covered terrain may limit the number of available positions for platoon OPAREAs. Mobility is slowed for headquarter elements, as wheeled vehicles and trailers generally are not suited for operations in northern areas. In extreme cold, metal tends to become brittle and parts breakage increases. Convoys must travel in a close column during whiteout conditions and prolonged darkness.

Logistics resupply is hampered by reduced mobility and difficulty in determining grid locations. Target acquisition equipment can be adversely affected by snowstorms and intense cold.

Military Operations on Urban Terrain

The massive growth of urban areas and manmade changes to the landscape significantly affect the conduct of future battles. Commanders at all levels must be aware of the unique advantages and disadvantages associated with operations conducted in and around cities, towns, villages, and similar built-up areas. Special techniques may be used in attacking the defilade areas between buildings. Increasing the target altitude used in the FDS and FCS will allow the submunitions to achieve a more vertical fall prior to detonation and thus clear buildings and other obstructions (see Figure 4-6). Commanders must still consider the precision error and large submunitions dispersion patterns when applying this method of attack due to the high probability of extensive collateral damage. Low-level winds at the target area will add to the precision error. At longer ranges, large altitude adjustments may yield a "NO SOLUTION ERROR" in the launcher FCS.

C2 of a firing platoon operating in an urban area is demanding. Decentralization to the maximum feasible extent may be required. The reduced ability to communicate necessitates more detailed orders and SOPs. The height and density of structures reduce the planning ranges for all organic radio equipment. Imaginative positioning of antennas for the platoon HQ, such as intermingling them with existing civilian antennas or in treetops, may increase transmission range and enhance survivability. Existing civilian communications networks may be used to supplement the organic capability of the unit.

MLRS units should not position launchers in built-up areas. Buildings can serve as concealment for hide areas, but the low trajectory of the system necessitates open areas for firing. Any urban area used for hide or CP positions should-

  • Be free of civilians.
  • Be away from the center of the built-up area.
  • Have several routes of escape.
  • Be off the main high-speed avenues.
  • Afford as much cover and concealment as possible.

The use of existing structures (such as barns, auto repair shops, and warehouses) as hide areas or CP locations maximizes protection and minimizes the camouflage effort.

More time must be allotted for reconnaissance. Depending on the density of buildings in the area, the reconnaissance party may have to use infantry techniques for house-to-house fighting to clear and check the buildings.

Desert Operations

Deserts are arid, barren regions that cannot support any quantity of life because of lack of fresh water. They are characterized by temperature extremes (+ 136 F in Libya or Mexico to bitter cold in the Gobi Desert) with fluctuations exceeding 70. Fire support considerations vary according to the type of desert; however, considerations common to all include munitions effects due to the temperature extremes and a lack of identifiable terrain features. The three types of deserts are discussed below.

  • The mountain desert is characterized by barren, rocky ranges separated by flat basins that may be studded by deep gullies created during flash floods.
  • The rocky plateau desert has slight relief with extended flat areas and good visibility. It is characterized by steep-walled, eroded valleys (wadis). These are extremely attractive for concealment and limited cover but are subject to flash flooding.
  • The sandy or dune desert has extensive flat areas covered with dunes subject to wind erosion. The dune size, the texture of sand, and the leeward gradient may prohibit terrain movement entirely.

Map reading is difficult and resections are impossible unless a number of prominent points are available. Position data from PADS, the launcher FCS, and the PLGR are critical.

Lack of vegetation makes camouflage difficult. In all cases, the MLRS unit is visible to the ground observer. From about 400 m in the air, the camouflaged command posts appear bigger than the surrounding dunes or mounds of sand and vegetation. Moving directly from position to position is not only feasible but often preferable using special formations (see Tactical Marches above).

High temperature and ever-present sand cause failures in mechanical and electronic equipment. Fuel and air filters must be cleaned after each operation, sometimes twice per day. Optics must be protected before the glass becomes opaque. Static electricity caused by the hot winds interferes with refueling operations and with radio traffic and launcher reload. Turning radii of tracked vehicles is limited because of the buildup of sand between the idler wheel and the track.

Amphibious Assault

Inherent in the concept of an amphibious assault is the projection of a fighting force into an area on shore that is assumed to be heavily defended. The force must be built in combat power from zero strength to a point where it is effective and credible. To provide adequate support, an MLRS unit must be prepared to fire immediately upon landing.

Although MLRS units are not intended to fulfill amphibious assault requirements, they may be required to conduct transit from ship-to-shore via landing craft. The MLRS equipment can be entered into the theater by air or sea, based on the priorities of the force or MAGTF commander. In those cases where the command authority directs positioning of MLRS equipment on Army prepositioned afloat (APA) or Maritime propositioned forces (MPF) shipping, the force or MAGTF commander must consider the limitations of MLRS unit equipment with respect to each of the landing craft capabilities, since MLRS unit equipment is not currently "through-surf" capable.

Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC). This preferable method of ship-to-shore transit for the MLRS unit allows the launchers to disembark on dry land, affording maximum protection to MLRS system electronic components.

Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) and Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM-8). The commander must consider that use of the LCU and LCM-8 will likely expose the launcher to partial immersion, potentially damaging components with salt water. However, these craft can be used for all ancillary wheeled vehicles.

Because of the small size of beachheads, positioning coordination with the supported maneuver force is critical. Units must remain flexible to change the predetermined positions on the basis of situation development at the beachhead.

Units must plan to embark and debark with all available MTOE equipment. Vehicles must be prepared for fording. Wheeled vehicle tires may be partially deflated for improved performance on beach sand. Saltwater and sand increase the need for preventive maintenance. Unit basic loads must be transported forward with the unit. An adequate ship-to-shore resupply of ammunition must be part of the plan and coordinated by the controlling FA headquarters (Div Arty, Marine Arty Regt, etc.) S4.

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