EMPLOYMENT OF ANTIARMOR WEAPONS
This appendix introduces concepts and tactics for the integrated employment of antiarmor weapons against enemy armored forces. It discusses how the fires of these weapons are integrated into offensive, defensive, and retrograde operations.
J-1. PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
This paragraph discusses the basic considerations for the integrated employment of organic or attached antiarmor weapons in the combined arms team against an armored enemy force. These considerations are fundamental and apply to all phases of combat.
a. Employment of Dismounted Infantry Units. Armored units have the advantages over dismounted infantry units of mobility, firepower, and armored protection.
(1) To offset this vulnerability to artillery and other fires, dismounted infantry units must either fight from well-prepared positions, deny the enemy knowledge of their location, or effectively suppress enemy fires during maneuver.
(2) To offset advantages of the speed of movement, firepower, and shock effect of armor massed in formation, dismounted infantry must operate on terrain that severely restricts the movement of armored vehicles deployed in formation, such as built-up areas, dense forests, mountains, or marshlands. If dismounted infantry forces must be employed in open terrain, they can be successful only if they fight from a series of mutually supporting, well-prepared defensive positions. These need to be reinforced with a strong system of antitank mines and other obstacles, which will break up the integrity of attacking armor formations or blind and suppress the enemy to prevent effective fire.
(3) When operating on an armor dominated battlefield, dismounted infantry forces will often be employed in defensive roles, such as holding critical terrain, defending key installations, or securing the movement of armored spearheads by blocking enemy armored approaches on the flanks and rear.
(4) Offensive operations in which dismounted infantry forces can be employed are: to reduce pockets of resistance, which have been bypassed by the armor spearheads; to infiltrate overland, by helicopter, or by parachute to attack critical soft targets (command posts, logistic installations, and road and rail nets); or to seize critical terrain in the enemy rear.
(5) In retrograde operations, dismounted infantry, because of its lack of mobility and protection against all types of fires, is not suited for the conduct of delaying actions against an armored force unless the terrain severely impedes and restricts the movement of armored vehicles.
(6) The helicopter allows the commander to rapidly deploy infantry forces to critical points in the battle. In the case of TOW and Dragon, which can both be easily transported with their crews by helicopter, the commander can quickly mass the antiarmor fires of these weapons.
b. Types of Antiarmor Weapons. In general, all weapons can be effective against armored vehicles. These weapons can be classified into three categories, according to the way in which they are employed in the tactical scheme:
(1) Munitions designed to disrupt the enemy's formations, slow or canalize his movements and inflict some casualties. This category includes mines and fires that cause him to button up or otherwise restrict his vision and seriously restrict command and control of the formation. They include VT artillery, smoke, and tactical air-delivered mine-fields and smoke. Man-made obstacles, such as tank ditches, abatis, stumps and posts, "dragon teeth," and wire, also fall into this category.
(2) Weapons that are employed to suppress enemy direct fire weapons and artillery fires, causing their fires to be less effective. These include automatic weapons, small arms, artillery and mortar fires, tank APERS rounds, smoke, and tactical air-delivered cluster bomb units and general purpose bombs.
(3) Weapons designed to kill armored vehicles. These include ATGM, antitank guns, tank guns, LAW, 40-mm HEDP rounds, and tactical air-delivered Maverick air-ground missiles, Rockeye CBU, laser-guided bombs, and some mines.
(4) Field expedient weapons. These are discussed in paragraph J-9.
J-2. EMPLOYMENT CONSIDERATIONS
Proper employment of antiarmor weapons includes making the most of their strong points. Effective fires require proper positioning, proper movement techniques, fire control, command and control, and logistics. FM 7-91 provides a detailed discussion of the employment of antiarmor weapons.
a. Positioning. The key point to remember in positioning antitank weapons is that of ambush. Position antitank weapons so that they can fire from a concealed and, if possible, a protected position. They should be able to gain surprise and engage the enemy vehicle in its flank or rear. Finally, they must avoid observation from overmatching enemy tanks, antitank guided missiles, or artillery forward observers. Concealment, cover, surprise, engagement criteria, and flank shots are the main considerations for positioning antitank weapons. Other considerations are dispersing, providing mutual support, and, in the case of the TOW, taking advantage of its standoff range against most tanks.
(1) Cover and concealment. Protection against automatic weapons and artillery suppression is critical for TOW and Dragon gunners because of the gunners' tracking time required. The TOW missile time of flight to maximum range (3,750 meters) is about 21 seconds. The Dragon missile takes about 12 seconds to travel 1,000 meters. Any fires that cause the gunner to flinch or to take his eye from the sight or target may cause him to miss the target.
(a) One of the major causes of gunner error is enemy suppressive fire. No matter how well concealed a position may be, it can still be detected by the enemy if the personnel in the position are careless. The most often neglected aspects of camouflage with respect to antiarmor weapons are movement of personnel in and around the position and failure to conceal from overhead observation. Both are dead giveaways of what might otherwise be well-concealed positions. It is impossible for the enemy to place suppressive fires on the gunners if he cannot find them.
(b) Cover and concealment go hand in hand. Use every fold in the ground for protection against enemy fires. Overhead cover should be constructed. If engineer support is not available or time does not permit the construction of complete positions, field expedients gathered from battlefield debris can be used. The important thing is to get some kind of cover.
(2) Dispersion. Under ideal visibility conditions, TOW sections that are separated by as much as 6 kilometers can fire at the same target. To reduce vulnerability to enemy fire, antiarmor weapons should be dispersed both laterally and in depth so that no two weapons covering the same sector of fire can be suppressed at the same time by the fire from a single enemy weapon.
(a) In the case of a TOW section, the distance between squads should be at least 300 meters, so that no two can be suppressed by a single volley from one battery of enemy artillery. Sometimes this may not be practical because of terrain restriction or the difficulty of the section leader in controlling the fires of the two squads when separated this far.
(b) In Figure J-1, the size of a 152-mm howitzer battery open sheaf, drawn to scale, would be only about 600 meters in width. From this, it is obvious it would take large volumes of artillery to effectively suppress such dispersed ATGMS.
Figure J-1. Dispersed ATGMs 152-mm artillery battery open sheaf comparison.
(3) Mutual support. Mutual support is the help two weapons or units give one another (Figure J-2). TOW squads and tanks are rarely employed individually. Whenever possible, TOW sections and tank platoons are employed intact to ensure mutual support within the section/platoon. The other aspect of mutual support that concerns antitank weapons crews is protection against dismounted attack. Infantry can provide this support.
Figure J-2. Mutual support between weapons.
(4) Flank engagement. Avoid frontal fire. An antitank weapon firing from the front must be regarded as an exception. A frontal engagement not only attacks the thickest armor on the vehicle, but also is most likely to be detected because the vehicle crew is oriented to the front.
(a) Flank engagement is vital at ranges of less than 2,000 meters (the range at which the enemy tank gun has a better than 50/50 chance of a first-round hit.) Also, when advancing, a tank's firepower and observation are generally oriented to the front, making it difficult to detect and retrace an ATGM launched from its flank (Figure J-3).
Figure J-3. Flank engagement.
(b) However, a trailing tank may see the launch signature or movement. Therefore, position the weapon so that there is something between weapon and the tanks not being fire on-a paraport, or wall, or natural cover. Flank concealment is necessary, but flank difliade is not preferable. Concealment of flash is essential, not only from the following tanks, but from the enemy's Ops as well. A weapon seen is a weapon lost.
(5) TOW standoff. When positioning a TOW, its standoff advantage against enemy infantry carries should be exploited. As tanks close with infantry in prepared positions, their vulnerability to the infantry increases greatly. This is especially true if the tanks do not have accompanying infantry.
b. Movement on the Battlefield. Movement of antiarmor weapons is coordinated with the maneuver of other forces. When moving between firing positions, use the terrain to conceal/cover movement from enemy observation and direct fires. Use smoke to obscure the enemy gunners' vision or use artillery and automatic weapons to suppress known or suspected enemy weapons positions. When moving against ATGM fires, protection is gained by moving through wooded areas or by quick rushes between folds in the ground.
J-3. FIRE CONTROL
The increased ranges of antiarmor weapons permit the shifting and massing of fires from positions that are widely dispersed, both laterally and in depth. Coupled with increased ranges, fire control is further complicated by the number and variety of antiarmor weapons that may be supporting the company.
a. Effective fire control procedures will ensure that units--
(1) Use each weapon in its best role (Figure J-4).
Figure J-4. Use of weapons.
(2) Engage the enemy as rapidly as possible. The enemy will try to reduce his exposure time.
(3) Expose only those weapons actually needed to fire (Figure J-5).
Figure J-5. Exposure of weapons.
(4) Distribute fires to ensure complete coverage of enemy targets (Figure J-6).
Figure J-6. Distribution of fires.
(5) Engage most dangerous threats first.
(6) Coordinate artillery and obstacles with direct fires.
b. Fire control also--
(1) Permits the massing of fire from widely dispersed firing positions (both laterally and in depth).
(2) Prevents firing that gives away the position before a more opportune moment for engagement, thereby retaining the advantage of first shot.
c. Proper fire control also prevents erroneous engagement of friendly tanks by friendly TOWs. A T62 and an M60 look very similar at a range of 3,000 meters. Also, covering forces withdrawing from the security echelon could be engaged by weapons in the MBA if proper fire control procedures are not used.
d. Fire control measures must be easily understood, responsive, and flexible. The most commonly used measures for controlling fires are sectors of fire; engagement areas, target reference points, priorities of engagement, phase lines, checkpoints, and trigger points.
(1) Sectors of fire. A sector of fire (Figure J-7) is the area of responsibility for fire assigned to a weapon or unit. They are used to ensure adequate distribution of fires of all weapons throughout the battle area. They are normally identified by assigning TRPs for the left and right limits.
Figure J-7. Sectors of fire.
(2) Engagement area. An EA (Figure J-8) is usually an open area along an enemy avenue of approach. It is used to mass the fires of platoons and sections. Normally, additional fire control measures are assigned to each weapon to distribute fires within the EA.
Figure J-8. Engagement areas.
(3) Target reference point. A TRP is an easily recognizable point on the ground, either natural or man-made (Figure J-9). It is used as a battlefield reference point for identification of targets and for controlling the fires of weapons or units firing into the sector. Leaders ensure that the TRP is visible under any conditions (day, night, fog), or that the weapon system can orient on the TRP by other means, such as aiming stakes, range card data, or direction markings on the interior of the turret. Field expedient TRPs must be addressed in the unit SOP. Engineer stakes, VS-17 panels, and similar items are effective daylight marking techniques. For night, use chemical lights (visible/IR) or heat-producing techniques such as coals in ammunition cans or batteries to mark the TRPs. The TRP marking technique must be unnoticeable from the enemy side.
Figure J-9. Target reference points.
(4) Priority of engagement. The enemy formation may consist of tanks, armored personnel carriers, ATGM launchers, C2 vehicles, air defense weapons, and so forth. In any case, fires can be effectively distributed by assigning each weapon/section a type vehicle (priority of engagement). For example, "Tanks engage BMP , TWO engage tanks," "Section 1 engage BMP, Section 2 engage tanks." Since tanks are the backbone of the armored formation, they should be engaged on a priority basis by all antiarmor weapons within range if a priority has not been announced. Under certain circumstances, a priority of engagement by type vehicle may be assigned by higher headquarters. For example, if enemy anitaircraft fire is preventing the Air Force or attack helicopters from operating in the MBA, destruction of these weapons may be given a priority. If long range enemy ATGMs are reducing effective tank employment, they may be assigned as a priority target. Once the engagement criteria has been met, antitank crews engage targets as required by their fire control measures. In the case of multiple targets, engage the most dangerous first.
(5) Trigger points. Trigger points are TRPs or phase lines (trigger line) where a unit or weapon system begins engaging targets. Every weapon should be assigned a trigger point. If not directed by higher, the squad leader should leader should select trigger points for each weapon to ensure gunners do not engage targets beyond maximum effective range. Properly selected trigger points can make mutually supporting positions more effective because of the enemy reaction to the first engagement. Backup signals to initiate fire should be coordinated in event the responsible unit fails to initiate fire at the assigned trigger point.
(6) Phase lines and checkpoints. Phase lines and checkpoints are used to control fires between units, usually when one or the other of the units is moving such as in the attack or retrograde. An example of the use of phase lines is given in Figure J-10. Checkpoints could be used in a similar manner as phase lines to control fires between two units.
Figure J-10. Phase lines.
J-4 COMPANY FIRE CONTROL PLAN
The CO develops the company fire plan to support his scheme of maneuver. The following example is one technique to apply the fundamentals discussed in this appendix.
a. Situation. C company's mission is to destroy the enemy reinforced company team to prevent the envelopment of the battalion main effort (A Co). The troops available are three infantry platoons, one tank platoon (OPCON), a TOW section, and the organic antiarmor and mortar sections. The combined obstacle overlay (Figure J-11) shows the results of the CO's terrain analysis.
Figure J-11. Combined obstacle overlay.
NOTE: Battalion directed that the bridge be prepared for demolition and that C Co would control the firing.
b. The Enemy. The enemy situational template (Figure J-12) shows the enemy's main attack on AA 2 (one tank platoon, two infantry platoons in column) and a supporting attack on AA 1 (one infantry platoon). The enemy will plan artillery on the prominent hilltops to suppress direct-fire systems. He will also plan smoke to screen his movement, particularly from the key terrain in the rear of our sector, which controls both AAs.
Figure J-12. Enemy situational template.
c. Potential Decisive Points. The CO now determines where in the sector to mass his fires; possible locations are all along the AAs. The CO uses other considerations and facts from his estimate to select these locations. For example, he considers how to surprise the enemy and how to avoid their artillery fires. The CO now selects TRPs (Figure J-13) where he wants to destroy the enemy. Other TRPs may be added later on, or some of these maybe deleted as the fire planning continues. The key point is that the locations for massing fires are determined first, and then weapons are positioned to achieve this-not vice versa.
Figure J-13. Selection of TRPs.
d. General Concept and Development. The CO now begins to array weapon systems, based on the enemy most probable COA, to mass combat power at the TRPs. Since the enemy threat is mounted, the CO focuses on arraying his antiarmor systems (Figure J-14), and allocates infantry squads to protect them, provide security, secure obstacles, and provide depth to the defense. The CO considers the enemy main effort first and decides to fight this force from the FEBA to disrupt the enemy plan and draw this enemy force into the sector where he can gain flank and rear shots. The tanks are obviously the best system to fight this force in depth, so the four tanks are arrayed on this avenue along with the TOW section and four Dragons. The remaining two Dragons are arrayed against the supporting attack on AA 1.
Figure J-14. Allocation of antiarmor systems.
NOTE: At this point, the CO would normally develop several COAs, wargame and compare these, and select the best one as his concept. In this example, the one COA is expanded into the complete plan.
e. Detailed Concept and Initial Fire Planning. The CO's concept is to disrupt the synchronization between the enemy's main and supporting attack by delaying against the main attack with the tank platoon and destroying the supporting attack in EA Red. The enemy3s main attack will then be destroyed in EA Blue. d. General Concept Development. The CO now The tank platoon delays in sector Platoon will destroy this enemy force into the sector where he can gain flank the enemy in EA BLUE (Figure J-15). An execution and rear shots. The tanks are obviously the best system matrix is an effective tool for the commander to right this force in depth, so the four tanks are arrayed (Table J-1). on this avenue along with the TOW section and four
Figure J-15. Company operations overlay.
Table J-1. Company execution matrix.
f. Fire Planning. This concept applies the fundamentals for employing antiarmor assets in the following ways:
(1) Antiarmor weapons and units are positioned off of the prominent terrain; therefore, they are less likely to be suppressed by preplanned indirect fires. They are also less likely to be detected once they begin engaging.
(2) The enemy is allowed to penetrate into a position where his flanks and rear will be exposed to the massed fires of the company.
(3) The TOW section is positioned at a distance from its EA; this allows flank and rear shots, better survivability, and engagement with TOWS, Dragons, LAWS, M203s, and MGs at the same time (massing of fire).
(4) Mutual support is achieved by employing antiarmor weapons in pairs. When the CO positioned the TOW squads, he made sure they were dispersed but had overlapping sectors of fires.
(5) The terrain is used to mask the weapons from enemy detection and fires. The river is used to canalize the enemy into EA BLUE.
(6) Engagement priorities are assigned to weapons and units to ensure the best weapon engages each target.
(7) TRPs are assigned to distribute fires in EA BLUE and to prevent friendly fires on friendly positions.
(8) Trigger points are established, which will ensure effective fires from the assigned weapon systems, but also the expected enemy reaction will make subsequent engagements more effective.
(9) Additional fire control measures and positions are planned to provide flexibility to the plan.
(10) The CO centralized the control in EA BLUE more than in EA RED because there was only one unit responsible for EA RED. The 1st Platoon leader is responsible for establishing the required fire control measures for EA RED.
g. Complete the Plan. To complete the preparation for this battle, the indirect fires and obstacles would be integrated to support the CO's concept. The subordinate leaders would position weapons and units and assign specific sectors or other control measures to each weapon. A complete rehearsal should also be conducted to ensure the soundness of the CO's concept and that all soldiers understand their responsibilities. If time was limited, the company would rehearse the disengagement and movement of the tank platoon to BP 4-1. During the battle, the CO or other leaders will adjust the fire control measures due to enemy actions, friendly losses, or other factors. This is done by using FRAGOs or by prearranged signals.
J-5. COMMAND AND CONTROL OF TOW/DRAGON
TOW and Dragon employment may be either centralized or decentralized. The TOW sections of the battalion antitank platoon may be attached to a rifle or tank company (decentralized), or they may be retained under battalion control (centralized). The Dragon may be controlled the same way. The gunners may be controlled by the platoon leader or platoon sergeant (centralized), or placed under squad leader control (decentralized).
a. In situations that are characterized by a number of decentralized actions, such as a movement to contact or delaying action, or when units are widely dispersed, employment is normally decentralized for both TOW and Dragon.
b. When antiarmor weapons are to support a maneuver element, rapid employment of weapons is aided if the supported unit selects the firing positions for them before they arrive. This procedure applies both in the attack and retrograde, when the antiarmor crews may not have had time to reconnoiter and select firing positions, and in the defense when firing positions have not been reconnoitered.
J-6. TOWS AND TANKS
TOWs will often be employed in coordination with tanks. When employing these two weapons, remember -the tank is an assault weapon; the TOW is not! The tank is a better weapon than TOW against enemy armor at ranges less than 2,000 meters. This is because of the armor protection for its crew which, unlike TOW, enables it to move and fire despite enemy small arms and artillery fires, a more rapid rate of fire, and a larger on-board basic load of ammunition.
a. When operating with tanks, TOWs will normally overmatch and support (from behind or from the flanks) the movement of the tanks as they close with the enemy.
b. When displacing to the rear, TOWs move back first, covered by the tanks. Once the TOWs are in good firing positions from which they can overmatch the movement of the tanks, the tanks displace to new positions.
The employment techniques for LAWs differ considerably from those used for ATGMs because of the following differences in capabilities between the LAW and ATGMS.
a. Because it has a warhead with a lesser capability than the TOW and Dragon, flanking engagements against armored vehicles are critical for successful LAW engagement. Flanking engagements take advantage of the tank's thinner armor to the flanks and rear. Likewise, multiple hits--not desirable for TOW and Dragon--are necessary for LAWs to ensure a good probability of crippling or destroying an enemy tank. Unlike ATGMS, the LAWs/AT4s are short-range systems. Its probability of hit on a target decreases as the range to the target increases. Therefore, close range engagements--again not desirable for ATGMs--are highly desirable for the LAW.
b. The effectiveness of light antiarmor weapons is significantly increased when they are employed by multiple firings--volley, pair, or sequence firing. The principles of LAW tactical employment can be summarized as--
- Blind the enemy. Slow or stop him, then destroy him.
- Use concealed firing positions.
- Hold your fire until you can get a sure hit.
- Engage from flank or rear with multiple firings (pair, sequence, or volley).
J-8. PROTECTION CONSIDERATIONS
The effective use of antiarmor weapons to defeat an enemy armored attack depends on the coordinated use of all elements of the company.
a. Infantry protects antiarmor weapons from dismounted assaults by enemy infantry and from mounted armored assaults along terrain where long-range ATGM are not effective. This paragraph examines some of the considerations for protecting infantry forces. As infantry forces are vulnerable to all types of enemy direct and indirect fire and to armored assaults, and as an armored enemy will use massed armored assaults supported by massive supporting fires, such protection is an absolute necessity.
b. The techniques of protecting Infantry forces are covered in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of this manual. When facing an armored force, added emphasis should be given to the following techniques of protection:
- Make maximum use of the terrain, for example, armor restrictive terrain.
- Use cover and concealment.
- Use mortars, artillery, and other supporting fires to avoid exposure.
c. Indirect fires can be used--
- To blind or destroy enemy OPs and FOs.
- To obscure movement through exposed areas with smoke.
- To reduce the effectiveness of an armored attacker by 50 percent by damaging armored vehicles and forcing them to button up. This slows their movement and reduces their fields of vision. Given the visual deadspace inherent in an armored vehicle when buttoned up, it is of great advantage to the dismounted infantryman to force this action (Figure J-17). Figure J-18 depicts a view as seen through the vision blocks of a typical threat tank (white area).
- To blind an armored formation with smoke, slowing it down and breaking the mutual support between elements of the formation.
- To suppress enemy direct-fire weapons.
Figure J-17. Weapons deadspace.
Figure J-18. Limits of view through vision blocks.
d. Dug-in infantry is more than five times better protected against artillery fire, and far better able to defeat a mounted armored attack, than when it is exposed. To survive, infantrymen must be able to rapidly prepare individual positions. The longer a unit is in position the better protected it should become. Leaders must ensure that preparation of positions takes place.
e. Armored units have a mobility advantage over dismounted infantry units. The ability to meet an attack from any direction is essential. Even a few minutes of warning of such an attack can make the difference between an armored assault overrunning an infantry force or of it being defeated by the infantry. To provide adequate warning, all-round security must be maintained at all times. The security should be put out as far as practical to give timely warning. Emergency signals that warn of armored attack should be established as a matter of SOP to ensure quick warning to as many personnel as possible.
The infantry has always relied on certain field expedient measures to destroy enemy armor. Many of these are still effective.
a. The specific measures are discussed in FM 7-8. The infantry rifle company CO must understand these techniques and develop his plans to allow the soldiers to use them effectively. Most of these techniques are flame devices, or they use large amounts of explosives (40 pounds). They require the infantryman to get very close to the vehicles.
b. The CO attempts to develop situations that allow the company to fight armor in very restrictive terrain or at night. He also separates the armor from its supporting infantry. His plans also attempt to slow or stop the vehicles with obstacles, fires, or deceptions to allow the field expedient techniques to be more effective.
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