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APPENDIX D

M249 EMPLOYMENT

The M249 light machine gun is primarily a squad leader's weapon to be employed as an automatic rifle. Under certain circumstances, the platoon leader may designate it as a machine gun and with some adjustments, use it as a platoon weapon. This appendix addresses the distinction between the M249's two roles and the organizational, equipment, and employment differences involved in each.

D-1. AUTOMATIC RIFLE AND MACHINE GUN

The automatic rifle provides mobility and a high volume of fire up front in the assault or across the squad's position in the defense. It is the squad leader's weapon to use in the close fight. When configured as a machine gun, it includes a tripod, a T&E mechanism, and a spare barrel, and has a designated crew (gunner and assistant gunner). The M249 in its machine gun configuration trades mobility and flexibility for accuracy at longer ranges and endurance. Endurance means its ability to stay in the fight longer, because it normally has ammunition stockpiled or carried with it by its crew. As a machine gun, the M249 provides effective suppressive fires in support of the offense and accurate long-range fires in the defense.

D-2. M249 IN BRADLEY-EQUIPPED UNITS

The 25-mm gun and the coax machine gun provide the required high-volume, accurate firepower from a stable and mobile platform. Often, the BFVs are not in the best position to provide this kind of fire for the squads. When positioned to engage armored or mounted formations, their focus and primary targets are different from the rifle squads. They may be oriented in a different direction, since the squads are positioned to engage a dismounted enemy. Sometimes the terrain dictates a separation of the mounted section from the rifle squads making mutual support, in terms of interlocking fires, impossible. It is under these circumstances that the platoon leader may consider designating one or more of the squad's M249s as machine guns. The remainder of this appendix addresses this type of situation. References to platoon machine guns indicates automatic rifles designated for use as machine guns.

D-3. M249 AS AN AUTOMATIC RIFLE

Automatic rifles allow rifle squads to take a light automatic weapon with them in the assault. In the defense, they add the firepower of 10 or 20 riflemen without the addition of manpower. Characteristically, automatic rifles are light, fire rapidly, and have more ammunition than the rifles in the squad that they support. Each squad has three automatic rifles. No additional equipment configuration is needed, because the automatic rifleman fires the M249 either from the bipod mode or from various hand-held positions. The chief distinction in using M249s as automatic rifles is in the manner of their employment in offensive and defensive operations. Automatic rifles play two roles in the offense: base of fire and maneuver.

a. Offense--Base of Fire. In establishing a base of fire, automatic rifles can be the key weapons. They can also add their fires to that of the machine guns.

(1) Engagement ranges. Ranges will vary based primarily on the nature of the terrain. An average for engagement ranges is from 300 meters to about 800 meters. Among the small-arms weapons, only the machine guns can engage the enemy with any accuracy beyond 800 meters. Thus, if the remainder of the squad or fire team is going to employ its weapons as a base-of-fire element, then it must position itself within that 800-meter range from the objective. If the base-of-fire element closes to within 300 meters, the maneuver element may find itself without enough room for assaulting. The base-of-fire element may not be able to shift fires across the whole objective. It may not be able to engage to the flanks of the objective to help isolate it.

(2) Targets. In the bipod mode, automatic riflemen attempt to engage any enemy automatic weapons not engaged by the machine guns. Because their weapons are less accurate than the tripod-mounted machine gun at longer ranges, they will normally distribute their fires across the objective to suppress enemy soldiers or positions.

(3) Positioning. In addition to range considerations, squad and platoon leaders must consider that automatic rifles firing from the bipod mode should not attempt overhead fires. Their decreased stability makes them unsafe for firing over the heads of the maneuver element. This means that the base-of-fire element must engage from one side or another of the maneuver element's approach to the objective.

b. Offense--Maneuver. Automatic rifles form the backbone of the maneuver element in the assault. Squad and platoon leaders should consider the following in planning for the maneuver element.

(1) Engagement ranges. At ranges less than 300 meters, these weapons are fired either from the bipod or in an assault mode from the hip, shoulder, or underarm position.

(2) Targets. Automatic riflemen target any enemy supporting weapons that are being fired from fixed positions anywhere on the squad's portion of the objective. When the enemy's supporting weapons have been destroyed, or if there are none, the automatic riflemen distribute their fires over that portion of the objective that corresponds to their squad's or team's position. At these ranges, the automatic riflemen will be engaging point targets.

c. Defense--Primary Role. Although the automatic rifle is capable of adding long-range fires to the platoon leader's fight, it is primarily the squad leader's weapon. Just as the squads protect the platoon's BFVs and machine guns from dismounted enemy assault, automatic rifles protect the squad. Their function is to provide a high volume of fire across the squad front and suppress or destroy a dismounted enemy force in its assault against the squad.

(1) Engagement ranges. Given a squad front of 100 to 125 meters and a squad sector of fire that extends to 300 meters forward of the squad positions, the engagement range of the automatic rifle across the front extends from 0 to 325 meters (Figure D-1).

(2) Targets. If the automatic riflemen have not initiated their fires with the platoon machine gun, they pick up the fight as the enemy closes. They engage enemy automatic weapons and command and control elements. At closer ranges, they have more point targets than area targets. They achieve enfilading fires as the enemy closes. They must cover the entire squad sector of fire, or they must overlap with the fires of the other automatic rifles.

(3) Positioning. The protective role of the automatic rifles most often points to the classic technique of positioning them on the flanks to fire across the front of the squad. But the fundamental requirement is for the automatic rifles to be positioned to fire across a broad sector or in a wide arc. Distribution of fires, not concentration, is their goal. When final protective fires are called for, they lay across to their left or right limit and fire along the enemy side of the squad's final protective obstacle.

d. Defense--Secondary Roles. Automatic rifles may also lend their fires to the platoon's machine gun fires. This is done in two ways. First, they may either add their fires to the platoon engagement areas to concentrate fires on the enemy before he closes in an assault formation. At some point, however, when the enemy has begun closing, the platoon leader must relinquish control of the automatic rifles to the squad leader to protect the squad against the enemy's assault. Even though the platoon leader or company commander initiates the final protective fires, the squad leader controls them. Second, automatic rifles may be used to cover specific narrow secondary avenues of approach when the platoon's machine guns have been positioned elsewhere against more dangerous avenues of approach.

(1) Engagement ranges. In a secondary role, automatic rifles initiate fires at greater ranges than usual (beyond 300 meters). However, their sectors of fire are narrower since they are concentrating their fires at predetermined targets.

(2) Targets. Automatic rifles positioned to augment the platoon machine guns engage the enemy according to specific criteria provided by the platoon leader. Firing at longer ranges, they engage area-type targets to suppress the enemy and disrupt his formations.

(3) Positioning. As an augmentation to the platoon's fire plan, automatic rifles may be positioned after the machine guns have been positioned. They may not be in the best position to support the squads' defense initially. Squad leaders should consider and plan for a supplementary position that allows the automatic riflemen to relocate and continue the fight in support of the squad as the enemy closes.

e. Rate of Fire. In either the offense or defense, automatic riflemen must restrict themselves to firing three-round bursts to maintain their effectiveness against enemy targets. The M249 in the bipod or hand-held mode moves too easily off its point of aim after three rounds and automatic riflemen must readjust their aim.

f. Ammunition. In the offense, the automatic rifleman is limited to what he can carry and fire on the move. Hence, while the automatic rifle affords a high volume of fire, it also rapidly consumes ammunition. Conservation and careful logistic planning become important. This problem is less critical in the defense, where ammunition can be stockpiled.

g. Automatic Rifle Marksmanship. When firing from the bipod or unsupported mode, automatic riflemen must know and apply the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship: steady position, aiming, breathing, and trigger control. Mastery of these fundamentals helps increase the effectiveness of the automatic rifleman's fires.

D-4. M249 AS A MACHINE GUN

Machine guns provide a high volume of accurate fire against dismounted enemy and light vehicle targets. In the offense, they are the key weapon in the base-of-fire element. In the defense, machine guns and dismounted antiarrnor weapons are the key weapons. Platoon leaders position them first and then build the defense around them. Squads protect them from dismounted assaults.

a. Configuration. Since the Bradley-equipped rifle platoon does not have dedicated machine guns, the platoon leader must plan for and make adjustments once he has decided to designate one or more of the automatic rifles as a machine gun.

(1) Equipment. When used as a machine gun, the M249 requires a tripod, a T&E mechanism, and a spare barrel. These items increases the stability, the ability to make minute adjustments in aiming, and the ability to fire greater than three-round bursts.

(2) Squad organization. To assist in the handling and manipulation of this equipment, to carry the additional ammunition that the machine gun requires, and to provide additional observation (spotting of the rounds) and security, the machine gunner needs an assistant gunner. The platoon leader designates another soldier to act as the assistant gunner. The designation of the automatic rifle as a machine gun to augment platoon fires means a corresponding reduction of the squad's firepower and strength.

(3) Employment. Machine guns support the platoon fight. The platoon leader positions them to concentrate fires in those spots where he wants to do the most damage to the dismounted enemy. He positions them to take advantage of grazing fire, maximum engagement ranges, and best observation of the target area; for example, objective (offense) or engagement area (defense). Machine guns combined with obstacles and tied in with the machine gun fires of adjacent platoons form the basis for mutual support in the defense.

(4) Control. The platoon leader either positions and controls the machine guns or designates one of the squad leaders to assist him.

b. Offense. Because machine guns are not as mobile as automatic rifles, they normally remain with and form the key weapon of the base-of-fire element. It is possible to bring a machine gun with the maneuver element for added firepower in the assault. But once it has set up, it becomes another base of fire and is quickly left behind by the rest of the element as it sweeps across the objective. It will spend more time displacing than firing. The following are additional considerations for using the machine gun in offensive missions.

(1) Engagement ranges. The base of fire is positioned between 300 and 800 meters from the objective. This is primarily a function of the ranges of the other small-arms weapons firing as part of the base of fire. If the base of fire must be outside 800 meters, the remainder of the base-of-fire element provides security for the machine guns.

(2) Targets. With the increased accuracy afforded by the tripod, machine guns can cover area targets better and shift from point target to point target faster. They primarily engage enemy machine gun teams or lightly armored vehicles.

(3) Positioning. Machine guns are capable of firing over the heads of friendly soldiers if terrain or maneuver constraints require it. They do not need to be placed on the flanks of the maneuver element's approach.

(4) Employment. Machine guns target key enemy weapons until the maneuver element masks its fires. Machine gunners then shift their fires to the flank opposite the one being assaulted. They continue to target any enemy automatic weapons that provide mutual support to his position or engage any groups of enemy counterattack. On signal, the machine guns and the base-of-fire element displace to join the maneuver element on the objective where they consolidate the position.

(5) Control. Machine guns remain under the control of the base-of-fire element leader until they linkup with the platoon on the objective.

c. Defense. Figure D-2 illustrates how a BFV platoon might defend two avenues of approach. The BFVs engage enemy vehicles on the mounted avenue of approach. Machine guns engage the enemy on the dismounted avenue, while automatic rifles protect the squads with interlocking fires.

(1) Engagement ranges. Machine guns continue to fire accurately beyond 800 meters. Platoon leaders must weigh the advantages of stand-off (the ability of a weapon to out range an opposing weapon) against the loss of surprise entailed in engaging early with only a portion of the platoon's weapons. Platoon leaders should seek to build a machine gun defense that begins early and is tied with an obstacle system such that the initial fires of the machine guns force the enemy to deploy in a direction that leads him into the fires of the rifle squads.

(2) Targets. Machine guns target enemy automatic weapons, key weapons, and command and control elements. Once the enemy deploys, machine guns engage his supporting automatic weapons. As the enemy closes, if the machine guns have destroyed all of the enemy's supporting weapons, they can engage the assaulting troops with enfilading fires across the platoon front. Normally, because their goal is to concentrate fires, they will have narrower sectors of fire than automatic rifles. It is important for platoon leaders to identify secondary sectors for their machine guns that cover the platoon front. They also lend their fires to the platoon and company final protective fires on order.

(3) Positioning. In addition to all the positioning considerations above, platoon leaders must place their machine guns where they can provide fires into the desired engagement area, while taking advantage of as many of the effects of terrain as possible. When they position machine guns first, this becomes easier and it provides a focus for the positioning of the squads.

(4) Employment. Machine guns concentrate fires into designated engagement areas to destroy the enemy initially with a sudden burst of fires, then suppress him to prevent him from identifying friendly positions and from moving out of the engagement areas. Should the enemy begin deploying for an assault, machine guns continue to destroy or suppress maneuvering elements, but also look for and engage the enemy's supporting elements. As the enemy closes, the rifle squads engage assaulting troops while the machine guns suppress the enemy's overwatching automatic weapons.

(5) Control. Platoon leaders normally retain control of the machine guns. They may direct a squad leader to control the machine guns, but the squad leader needs to concentrate on the fires of the squad.

d. Rate of Fire. The machine gunner should fire five- to seven-round bursts to achieve a beaten zone. With the help of the assistant gunner in spotting rounds, machine gunners are better able to observe the effect of their fires on the target over increased distances.

e. Ammunition. The addition of an assistant gunner provides the capability of carrying more ammunition when the machine gun crew moves dismounted. The assistant gunner can also help in reloading the gun or observing the changing target array while the gunner reloads.

f. Machine Gun Marksmanship. Unlike the automatic rifle, the machine gunner must know more than the fundamentals of marksmanship. He must also master the manipulation of the T&E mechanism. He and the assistant gunner must be adept at spotting rounds and adjusting their aim to bring the impact of the rounds on target. A different set of fundamentals applies. Machine gun crews must know how to employ techniques such as identification of dead space; use of principle direction of fire, final protective fires, and range cards; construction of a machine gun position, and others. These techniques are in FM 23-14.

D-5. FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES OF AUTOMATIC FIRE

The following describes and defines those fundamental techniques of fire common to automatic rifles and machine guns. More detailed information is in FM 23-14.

a. Techniques of Fire. Techniques of fire include direct lay, assault fire, overhead fire, and fire from a defilade position. Only automatic rifles use assault fire. Only machine guns can employ overhead fire.

(1) Direct lay. Gunners and automatic riflemen use the direct-lay technique by aligning the sights of the weapon on the target. This is the easiest and quickest means of delivering fire.

(2) Assault fire. Automatic riflemen use assault fire when in close combat. Assault fire involves firing without the aid of sights. Automatic riflemen use the hip, shoulder, and underarm positions to achieve assault fire. Of these, the underarm position is the best when rapid movement is required. In all three positions, automatic riflemen adjust their fire by observing the tracers and the impact of the bullets in the target area. Additional considerations for automatic riflemen using assault fire include--

  • Maintaining alignment with the rest of the assault element.
  • Reloading rapidly.
  • Aiming low and adjusting the aim upward toward the target.
  • Distributing fires across the objective when not engaging enemy automatic weapons.

(3) Overhead fire. Gunners can use overhead fire when there is sufficient low ground between the machine gun and the target area for the maneuver of friendly forces. Gunners must accurately estimate the range to the target. Gunners must establish a safety limit; that is, an imaginary line, parallel to the target, where fire would cause casualties to friendly soldiers. Gun crews and leaders must be aware of this safety limit. Leaders must designate signals for the lifting or shifting of fires. Gunners should not attempt overhead fires if the terrain is level or slopes uniformly, if the barrel is badly worn, or if visibility is poor.

(4) Defilade positions. Defilade positions protect gunners from frontal or enfilading fires of the enemy. The advantages of cover and concealment are obvious; however, such positions may not provide the gunner or rifleman a view of some or all of the target area. In this instance, some other member of the platoon must observe the impact of the rounds and communicate adjustments to the gunner or rifleman. In determining whether or not to use a defilade position, gunners and leaders must consider the complexity of laying on the target, the gunner's inability to make rapid adjustments to engage moving targets, the ease with which targets are masked, and the difficulty in achieving grazing fires for a final protective line.

b. Characteristics of Fire. To assist the gunner and rifleman in better understanding the characteristics of fire for their weapons, the following definitions are helpful.

(1) Trajectory. Trajectory is the path of the bulletin flight. For the M249, the path of the bullet is almost flat at ranges of 300 meters or less. At ranges beyond 300 meters, the trajectory curves as the range increases.

(2) Maximum ordinate. This is the highest point the trajectory reaches between the muzzle of the weapon and the base of the target. It always occurs at a point about two-thirds of the distance from the weapon to the target. It also increases with the range.

(3) Cone of fire. This is the pattern formed by the different trajectories in each burst as they travel downrange. Vibration of the weapon, variations in ammunition, and atmospheric conditions all contribute to the different trajectories that make up the cone of fire.

(4) Beaten zone. This is the pattern formed by the rounds within the cone of fire striking the ground or the target. The size and shape of the beaten zone changes as a function of the range to and slope of the target. Gunners and automatic riflemen should engage targets so as to make maximum effect of the beaten zone. The simplest way to do this is to aim at the center base of the target. Most rounds will not fall over the target, and any that fall short will create ricochets into the target.

(5) Danger space. This is the space between the weapon and the target where the trajectory does not rise above 1.8 meters (the average height of a standing soldier). This includes the area of the beaten zone. Gunners should consider the danger space of their weapons when planning overhead fires.

c. Class of Fire. The US Army classifies automatic weapon fires with respect to the ground, the target, and the weapon.

(1) Fire with respect to the ground includes grazing fire and plunging fire.

(a) Grazing fire. Automatic weapons achieve grazing fire when the center of the cone of fire does not rise more than 1 meter above the ground. When firing over level or uniformly sloping terrain, the M249 can attain a maximum of 600 meters of grazing fire.

(b) Plunging fire. Plunging fire occurs when weapons fire at long range, when firing from high ground to low ground, when firing into abruptly rising ground, or when firing across uneven terrain, resulting in a loss of grazing fire at any point along the trajectory.

(2) Fire with respect to the target includes enfilade, frontal, flanking, and oblique fire.

(a) Enfilade fire. Enfilade fire occurs when the long axis of the beaten zone coincides or nearly coincides with the long axis of the target. It can be frontal or flanking. It is the most desirable class of fire with respect to the target, because it makes maximum use of the beaten zone.

(b) Frontal fire. Frontal fire occurs when the long axis of the beaten zone is at a right angle to the front of the target, that means when firing directly into the front of a target.

(c) Flanking fire. Flanking fire is delivered directly against the flank of a target.

(d) Oblique fire. Gunners and automatic riflemen achieve oblique fire when the long axis of the beaten zone is at an angle other than a right angle to the front of the target.

(3) Fire with respect to the weapon includes fixed, traversing, searching, and traversing and searching fire.

(a) Fixed fire. Fixed fire is delivered against a stationary point target when the depth and width of the beaten zone will cover the target.

(b) Traversing fire. Traversing distributes fires in width by suceessive changes in direction.

(c) Searching fire. Searching distributes fires in depth by successive changes in elevation.

(d) Traversing and searching fire. This class of fire is a combination in which successive changes in direction and elevation result in the distribution of fires both in width and depth.

d. Types of Targets. Targets have both width and depth. The size of the target, stated in terms of the number of aiming points required to engage it completely, determines its type.

(1) Point targets. Point targets require the use of a single aiming point. Examples of this include bunkers, weapons emplacements, vehicles, and troops.

(2) Area targets. Area targets require more than one aiming point. Gunners and automatic riflemen use traversing, searching, or a combination of the two to engage the target. Area targets are distinguished as linear, deep, and linear with depth. Gunners and automatic riflemen engage deep targets using searching fire. They engage linear targets using traversing fire. Finally, they engage linear with depth targets using traversing and searching fire.

e. Rates of Fire. Automatic weapons fire in one of three rates: rapid, sustained, and cyclic. Normally gunners initially engage targets at the rapid rate to suppress the enemy quickly. Thereafter, they fire at a sustained rate to conserve ammunition. Automatic riflemen continue to use the three-round burst, refighting their weapons as quickly as possible. In engaging aerial targets, gunners and automatic riflemen use the cyclic rate.

(1) Rapid fire. Rapid fire is 200 rounds per minute in bursts of 5 to 7 rounds at 2- to 3-second intervals.

(2) Sustained rate. Sustained fire is 85 rounds per minute in bursts of 5 to 7 rounds at 4- to 5-second intervals.

(3) Cyclic rate. The normal cyclic rate of fire is 750 rounds per minute. To fire the cyclic rate, the gunner holds the trigger to the rear while the assistant gunner feeds ammunition into the weapon.

f. Techniques for Automatic Weapons in the Defense. Gunners and automatic riflemen use a number of techniques to ensure effective fires in defensive operations. Some techniques tie the characteristics of the weapons to the nature of the terrain. Others ensure distribution of fires across the squad or platoon front. Still others facilitate the concentration of fires against likely enemy avenues of approach, or in engagement areas bounded by tactical obstacles. Finally, others aid in maintaining accurate fires during limited visibility.

(1) Sector of fire. A sector of fire is an area that is required to be covered by the fire of an individual weapon or a unit. Most weapons are assigned both a primary and secondary sector of fire. Sectors of fire help to ensure distribution of fires across the squad or platoon front. By adding them to a sector sketch, squad or platoon leaders can verify that all of their individual and key weapons have achieved interlocking fires within a squad or platoon sector. Within their sector of fire, gunners and automatic riflemen must identify all targets, target reference points, left and right limits, and dead space.

(2) Final protective fires. Final protective fires form an immediately available prearranged barrier of fire to stop enemy movement across defensive lines or areas. These fires consist of the final protective lines of automatic weapons, and the adjusted sheaves of mortars and artillery. Leaders strive to tie FPFs in with obstacles to hold the enemy at the point where friendly fires have their deadliest effect; that is, close-in, enfilading, grazing fire.

(3) Final protective line. A final protective line is a predetermined line along which automatic weapons place grazing fire to stop an enemy assault. As a security measure, all automatic weapons that have assigned FPLs remain laid on them unless the gunners or automatic riflemen are engaging other targets. FPLs are fixed in direction and elevation, excluding a small shift in elevation (search) to adjust for prone or crawling enemy soldiers or for irregularities in the terrain. Because they are fixed, FPLs can be fixed in all conditions of visibility.

(4) Principal direction of fire. A principal direction of fire is a priority direction of fire assigned to cover an area which provides good fields of fire or has a likely avenue of approach. It is also used to provide mutual support to an adjacent unit. Automatic weapons that do not have assigned FPLs are laid on a PDF when gunners or automatic riflemen are not engaging other targets.

(5) Dead space. Dead space defines that portion of an area where the waist of a soldier falls below a gunner's or automatic rifleman's point of aim. The most accurate method for determining dead space is to have one soldier walk the line of sight of the weapon (FPL or PDF) and make a pace count of those areas where he encounters dead space. Dead space can also be determined by observing the flight of tracer ammunition from a position behind and to the flank of the weapon.

(6) Field-expedient methods. The two most common field-expedient methods for laying the M249 in the bipod mode on predetermined targets are the notched-stake or tree-crotch and the horizontal log or board technique.

(a) Notched-stake or tree-crotch technique. This technique is effective for all conditions of visibility. It involves sighting the weapon on each target and marking the position and elevation of the stock with a notched-stake or tree-crotch. The automatic rifleman then scoops out a shallow groove to provide for the movement of the bipod legs and to keep the front end of the weapon aligned.

(b) Horizontal log or board technique. Automatic riflemen use this technique to mark sector limits and engage linear targets. It is best suited for flat, level terrain. It involves placing a log or board horizontally so that the weapon slides along it easily. The board may then be notched within its length to lay the weapon on a specific target reference point. It may also have limiting stakes placed to define the weapon's left and right limits.

g. Fire Control. Leaders control the engagements of their automatic weapons through the use of control measures, coordinating instructions, and fire commands.

(1) Control measures include, but are not limited to sectors of fire, target reference points, FPL or PDF, and prearranged signals.

(2) In the offense, coordinating instructions to gunners include instructions to initiate fires, a description of how the platoon leader sees the sequence of automatic weapon engagements, and the location of other friendly soldiers in the area. In the defense, the leader describes the presence and subsequent action of friendly soldiers to the front of the platoon position (scouts, passing units), the initiation and sequence of weapon engagements, priority targets, and the planned or probable shifting of forces to displace or counterattack.

(3) The signal to initiate fires or FPFs or any occasions not covered by planning can be handled through the use of fire commands. Fire commands must be clear and concise. Gunners and automatic riflemen repeat all fire commands. Fire commands contain the following elements.

(a) Alert. The leader must specify WHO is to engage.

(b) Direction. The leader must clearly indicate the general direction of the target. He may do so orally (giving a general orientation or designating a reference point), by pointing, or by directing fires with tracer rounds from his own weapon. If he uses tracers, this becomes the last part of the command, and he directs "Watch my tracers."

(c) Description. Following the word "Target," the leader briefly describes the target, generally by the type of object: troops, vehicles, aircraft.

(d) Range. Leaders provide an estimate of the range to the target. Gunners and automatic riflemen use this estimate to set their rear sights, and to know how far out to look to identify the target.

(e) Method of fire. This element includes two parts: the manipulation (class of fire with respect to the weapon--fixed, traversing, searching, or traversing and searching), and the rate of fire. When the leader omits the rate of fire, the gunner assumes a rapid rate.

(f) Command to open fire. Timing the initiation of fires is important to gain surprise. Leaders may preface the command to commence firing with "At my command" or "At my signal." Gunners and automatic riflemen respond with "Ready" when they have identified the target and are ready to engage. Leaders then give the specified command or signal.

(4) Leaders adjust fires (direction, elevation, rate), identify new targets, cease fires, or terminate the alert, with subsequent fire commands.

(5) Finally, squads and platoons should establish SOPs governing the activities and automatic initiation, control, and cessation of fire for their automatic riflemen and gunners. These SOP items can include, standard sectors for observation and fires, when to initiate or return fires, priority targets, and how often to check with leaders once they have begun engaging the enemy.



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