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Effective combat support is the responsibility of the battalion commander.
Mortars, artillery, air defense artillery, combat engineers, intelligence
assets, and aviation assets provide combat support.  The battalion commander
decides how to employ his assets based upon his estimate of the situation.
These elements may be attached, OPCON, DS, or GS to the reconnaissance
platoon.  The reconnaissance platoon must know the employment
considerations and the abilities of all combat support assets.


Mortars and field artillery are the main indirect fire support available to the reconnaissance platoon ( Table 7-1). This section discusses the responsibilities, the considerations, and the procedures for employment of all indirect fire assets supporting the reconnaissance platoon.


The reconnaissance platoon must understand how the battalion plans for and executes indirect fires in support of the commander's scheme of maneuver. A reconnaissance platoon does not have assigned FOs to assist in the planning and execution of indirect fires. The battalion commander attaches or places under OPCON a FIST to assist the platoon in calling for fires. He uses the battalion FSO to advise and integrate indirect fire support into the battalion's scheme of maneuver.

    a. The fire-planning process begins at higher echelons and progresses downward to company FSOs and other key personnel to include the reconnaissance platoon leader. Its effectiveness requires continuous coordination and feedback from the lower echelons upward. Limited input regarding actual targets is not normally available to the platoon. Instead, the key functions are refinement and confirmation of target locations and execution of events. Specific responsibilities are listed on the fire support execution matrix, which the battalion FSO prepares in support of the current operation. The matrix tells the leaders who is responsible for each target, when the target should be executed, and by what means (artillery, mortars, CAS). (An example of a fire support matrix developed by a battalion FSO is shown in Figure 7-1.) The matrix is set up with the maneuver elements along the left side and different phases of the mission along the top. It illustrates the platoon's role throughout the operation. The platoon should always be included as a subunit in the matrix.

Table 7-1. Mortar capabilities.

Figure 7-1. Example of a fire support matrix.

    b. The reconnaissance platoon may be required to call for and adjust indirect fire support IAW the battalion fire support matrix. The platoon may have designated target reference points (TRPs). TRPs are preplanned artillery targets that the platoon uses to call for and adjust indirect fire. The use of TRPs and proper procedures to call for fire is critical in order to receive immediate indirect fire. If available, the use of global positioning systems and laser range finders assist the platoon in calling for fire. Unless FOs are supporting the reconnaissance platoon, the platoon is responsible for calling and adjusting indirect fire. The call for fire is a message prepared by an observer. Any soldier in the platoon can request indirect fire support by calling for fire. (For additional information, see FM 6-30.)

      (1) Calls for fire must include--

        (a) Observer identification and warning order.

        • Adjust fire--uncertain of target location.

        • Fire for effect--rounds on target; no adjustment.

        • Suppress--used to obtain fire quickly.

        • Immediate suppression--used when being engaged by enemy; must give target identification.

        (b) Target location methods. Target location is sent in six digits. The direction is given in mils and is sent before the first adjusting rounds are shot. The direction is the location of the observer to the target (observer-target [OT] line). The FDC must know the observer's exact location. The observer sends OT line and distance (to the nearest 100 meters) from his position to the target.

        (c) Target description. Give a brief description of the target using the acronym "SNAP."

        • Size/shape.

        • Nature/nomenclature.

        • Activity.

        • Protection/posture.

      (2) A call for fire may also include the following information (optional elements):

        (a) Method of engagement. The method of engagement consists of the type of adjustments, danger close, trajectory, ammunition, and distribution.

        (b) Method of fire and control.

        • At my command--fired at observer's command.

        • Cannot observe--fire will not be observed.

        • Time on target--rounds land at specified time.

        • Continuous illumination--FDC will determine when to fire.

        • Coordinated illumination--observer determines when to fire.

        • Cease loading--used when two or more rounds in effect (causes loader to stop loading).

        • Check firing--temporary halt in firing.

        • Continuous fire--will continue to fire unless told to stop.

        • Repeat--will repeat last mission.

        (c) Refinement and end of mission.

        • Correct any adjustments.

        • Record as target.

        • Report battle damage assessment.

        (d) Danger close (announced when applicable).

        • FA mortars--danger-close target is within 600 meters of any friendly troops.

        • Naval gunfire--danger-close target is within 750 meters when using 5-inch or smaller guns (1,000 meters for larger naval guns).

        • Creeping method of adjustment--the FO uses the creeping method of adjustment (corrections of no more than 100 meters) exclusively during danger-close missions.

Figure 7-2. Example fire mission (grid).

Figure 7-3. Example of a fire mission (polar plot).

Figure 7-4. Example of a fire mission (shift from a known point).

Figure 7-5. Lateral and range shifts.

    c. Once the call for fire has been made, the observer adjusts the fire onto the target. If he has accurately located the target, he requests, "Fire for effect." When the observer cannot locate the target (due to deceptive terrain, lack of identifiable terrain features, poor visibility, or an inaccurate map), he adjusts the impact point of the rounds. During adjustment, one artillery piece or mortar is used. The observer chooses an adjusting point. For a destruction mission (precision fire), the target is the adjusting point. For an area target (area fire), the observer picks a well-defined adjusting point close to the center. The observer spots the first and each successive adjusting round, and he sends range and deviation corrections back to the FDC until rounds hit the target. The observer spots by relating the round's point of impact to the adjusting point. (See FM 6-30 for a more detailed discussion of adjusting mortar and artillery fire.)

      (1) Deviation spotting. Deviation (left or right) spotting involves measuring the horizontal angle (in mils) between the burst and the adjusting point ( Figure 7-6). A burst to the right (left) of the target is spotted as "(so many) mils right (left)." An angle-measuring device is used to determine deviation. The mil scale on binoculars or the fingers and hand may be used (Figures Figure 7-7 and Figure 7-8).

Figure 7-6. Deviation spotting.

        (a) The horizontal scale on binoculars, divided into 10-mil increments, is used for measuring horizontal angles. The vertical scales, in 5-mil increments, in the center and on the left of the reticle are used for measuring vertical angles. The scale on the right, if present, is no longer used. ( Figure 7-7.)

Figure 7-7. Mil scale on M17 binoculars.

Figure 7-8. Hand and fingers used to determine deviation.

        (b) A burst on the OT line is spotted as "Line." Deviation (left or right) should be measured to the nearest 5 mils for area targets, with measurements taken from the center of the burst. Deviation for a destruction mission (precision fire) is estimated to the nearest mil. ( Figure 7-9) shows the adjusting point is at the center of the binocular horizontal scale.)

Figure 7-9. Deviation spotting with binoculars.

      (2) Deviation correction. Deviation correction is the distance (in meters) the burst must be moved left or right to be on line between the observer and the target. Once the mil deviation has been determined, the observer converts it into a deviation correction (in meters). This is sent with the range correction to the FDC for the next adjusting round or when calling or fire for effect. The deviation correction is determined by multiplying the observed deviation in mils by the distance from the observer to the target in thousands of meters (the OT factor). The result is expressed to the nearest 10 meters. A minor deviation correction (10 to 20 meters) should be made in adjustment of precision fire. In adjustment of area fire, small deviation corrections (20 meters or less) can be ignored except when a small change determines a definite range spotting. Throughout the adjustment, the observer moves the adjusting rounds close enough to the OT line so that range spotting is accurate. The OT distance that is greater than 1,000 meters: Round to the nearest thousand, and express in thousands of meters. The OT distance that is less than 1,000 meters: Round to nearest 100 meters, and express in thousands of meters.


      OT distance, 4,200 meters--OT factor, 4.0 OT distance, 2,700 meters--OT factor, 3.0


      Observer deviation 20 mils OT distance 2,000 meters OT factor 2 Observer deviation x OT factor = deviation correction. 20 x 2 = 40 meters


      OT distance, 800 meters--OT factor, 0.8

      (3) Angle T. Angle T ( Figure 7-10) is the angle formed by the intersection of the gun-target line and the OT line with its vertex at the target. If angle T is 500 mils or greater, the FDC should tell the observer. If the observer is told that angle T is 500 mils or greater, at first he continues to use the OT factor to make his deviation corrections. If he sees that he is getting more of a correction than he asked for, the observer should consider cutting the corrections to better adjust rounds onto the target.

      (4) Range spotting. Range spotting (short or over) requires adjusting the range to obtain fire on the target. An adjusting round's burst on or near the OT line gives a definite range spotting. "Lost" or "doubtful" spottings are given if a definite spotting is not possible. In these situations only, the deviation correction is given to the FDC.

        (a) Over. Burst appears beyond the adjusting point.

        (b) Short. Burst appears between the observer and the adjusting point.

        (c) Target. Burst hits the target. This spotting is used only in precision fire (destruction missions).

        (d) Range correct. Burst appears to be at the correct range.

        (e) Doubtful. Burst can be observed but cannot be spotted as over, short, target, or range correct.

        (f) Lost, over or lost, short. Burst is not observed but is definitely known to be beyond or short of the adjusting point.

Figure 7-10. Angle T.

      (5) Range correction. The observer gives range corrections so that with each successive correction the adjusting round lands over or short of the adjusting point, closing on the target. FFE is called for when a range correction brings the next round within 50 meters of the adjusting point. FFE is called for when a 100-meter bracket has been split; for example "Drop 50, fire for effect. "This technique is called successive bracketing ( Figure 7-11). When bracketing, the observer uses the following guide to determine his first range correction:

      • If OT range is 1,000 to 2,000 meters, add or drop a minimum of 200 meters

      • If OT range is more than 2,000 meters add or drop a minimum of 400 meters.

        (a) Bracketing is a technique that brings fire on a target. Time is important, especially when targets are moving or seeking cover from fire. Accurate, initial data speed adjustments makes the requested fire more effective. To shorten adjustment time, the observer tries to bracket the target with the first two or three adjusting rounds.

Figure 7-11. Successive bracketing technique.

        (b) The effect on the target decreases as the number of rounds used in adjustment increases. An alternative technique to successive bracketing is hasty bracketing. Successive bracketing ensures that the FFE rounds impact within 50 meters of the adjusting point. If effective fires are needed faster than successive bracketing can provide, hasty bracketing should be used. A successful hasty bracketing depends on a thorough terrain analysis, which gives the observer an accurate initial target location. The observer receives a bracket on his first correction similar to that used for successive bracketing. Once the observer has this initial bracket he uses it as a yardstick to determine the subsequent correction. He then sends the FDC the correction to move the rounds to the target and to fire for effect ( Figure 7-12). Hasty bracketing improves with observer experience and judgement.

Figure 7-12. Hasty bracketing technique.

        (c) The creeping method of adjustment is used in danger-close situations. The initial round is intentionally fired beyond the target. Adjusting rounds are brought closer in 100-meter increments or less until the target is engaged ( Figure 7-13). This method is slow and requires more ammunition than other methods. It should be used only when safety is an overriding concern.

Figure 7-13. Creeping method of adjustment.


The USAF, USMC, or USN may provide CAS to light infantry battalions. CAS missions are flown against hostile targets near friendly forces. The forward air controller (FAC) is the battalion commander's expert in planning, requesting, and executing CAS missions. The FAC serves as a link between the maneuver element and the attacking aircraft. The reconnaissance platoon may provide information that is used by the FAC to target enemy forces. Reconnaissance platoon soldiers may be required to provide emergency control if an FAC, FSO, or FO is not available (the battalion commander accepts responsibility for friendly casualties). This is possible only with aircraft equipped with FM radios (A-7, A-10, F16, C-130). (For additional information, see FM 6-30.) The platoon may also provide information on battle damage as observed. This information is reported in the following format:

Battle Damage Assessment

  • Successful or unsuccessful.

  • Target coordinates.

  • Time on target.

  • Number and type destroyed.

  • Number and type damaged.

  • Killed by air.

  • Wounded by air.

  • Dud bombs.

    a. AC-130 Gunship. If the threat of enemy air defense is low, the battalion requests CAS from an AC-130 gunship. The AC-130 flies CAS and special operations, and it provides effective fires during day and night operations. The aircraft contains one 40-mm gun, two 20-mm guns, two 7.62-mm miniguns, and one 105-mm howitzer. It is equipped with sensors and target acquisition systems that include forward-looking infrared radar and low-light television.

    b. Marking Friendly Positions. Whenever possible, friendly positions are marked to enhance safety and to provide target area references. Methods of marking friendly positions include:

    • Flares.

    • Strobe lights (infrared, blue filters).

    • Reflective panels.

    • Night vision goggles (infrared).

    • Glint reflective tape.

    • Chemical lights.

    • Smoke.

    • Mirrors.


The primary mission of attack helicopter units is to destroy armor and mechanized forces. Attack helicopters are employed in combined arms operations to increase weapons and aircraft capabilities in accomplishing the commander's mission. Attack helicopter companies are integrated into the ground scheme of maneuver. When working with ground maneuver forces, the attack helicopter unit can be placed under OPCON of the ground maneuver force. Normally, they are under OPCON of a maneuver brigade; on rare occasions, they may be OPCON to a battalion. Aeroscouts arrive before attack aircraft and establish communications with ground forces to obtain information on the situation and mission from the commander. The aeroscouts identify targets, choose general attack positions, and control attack helicopter fire. During the conduct of passage of lines, the platoon may direct attack helicopter fires into known enemy locations and may receive information not visible from the ground.

The AH-1 and AH-64 are the Army's attack helicopters. The AH-64's weapon systems and target acquisition system locate and destroy targets beyond 5,000 meters. The AH-64 is designed to operate during limited visibility.


Additional combat support available to the reconnaissance platoon includes air defense assets, combat engineers, and military intelligence assets. This section discusses the abilities and missions of these assets. These combat multipliers increase the reconnaissance platoons' ability to survive on the battlefield and to perform reconnaissance and security missions.


The Vulcan platoon or Stinger section can support the infantry battalion. Although the reconnaissance platoon's role in air defense is limited to reporting enemy aircraft, passive and active air defense measures should be practiced for protection against enemy air attack.

    a. Passive Air Defense. Passive air defense includes all measures other than active taken to reduce the effects of hostile air action.

      (1) Attack avoidance. An enemy pilot cannot attack what he cannot see. Soldiers use concealment, camouflage, and deception to prevent the enemy from seeing them. When adequate concealment is not available, soldiers must use camouflage. They also conceal objects that reflect light and attract attention.

      (2) Damage-limiting measures. Damage-limiting measures are those taken to reduce the effects of an enemy air attack. When an attack is imminent, the platoon disperses, moves to a concealed position, and stops. These actions reduce the probability of being spotted and, if spotted, reduce the effects of enemy munitions.

      (3) Air defense warnings. Air defense conditions are stated in the OPORD. RED indicates that an attack is imminent; YELLOW indicates that an attack is probable; and WHITE indicates that an attack is not likely.

    b. Active Air Defense. The reconnaissance platoon avoids engaging enemy aircraft, if possible. However, if unavoidable, try to mass fires and aim in front of the aircraft allowing the aircraft to fly into the path of fire. The platoon leader establishes the aiming point based on the type of aircraft that is attacking.

      (1) Weapon control status. The weapon control status determines the conditions for using weapons against enemy aircraft.

        (a) Weapons free--weapons are at aircraft not positively identified as friendly.

        (b) Weapons tight--weapons fire only at aircraft identified as hostile according to announced hostile criteria.

        (c) Weapons hold--weapons DO NOT fire except in self-defense. (The reconnaissance platoon should always be in a weapons-hold status.)

      (2) Man-portable air defense systems. The Stinger is designed to counter enemy aircraft. A Stinger team provides protection to the entire battalion and focuses on protection of critical battalion assets. When a Stinger team is working with the reconnaissance platoon, caution must be used when firing the weapon. The Stinger leaves a signature and may disclose the platoon's position.


An engineer platoon or company may be placed in DS of a battalion. Engineers supporting dismounted infantry forces are Sappers. Sappers are trained to conduct reconnaissance, to evaluate obstacles, and to use demolitions and field expedients. Engineer missions are divided into these categories: mobility, countermobility, and survivability. (The tasks provided with each of these categories are shown in Table 7-2.) Engineers also assist the reconnaissance platoon during reconnaissance and security operations.

Table 7-2. Engineer missions.

    a. Reconnaissance Operations. In reconnaissance operations, an engineer squad can be in OPCON to a reconnaissance platoon. The engineer squad aids in mobility operations and provides technical advice to the platoon leader as to what effort and equipment are required to breach a certain obstacle. This information can be relayed back to the battalion to aid in its breaching preparations. The actual breaching abilities of an engineer squad are limited to manual and explosive method. (The platoon provides security for the engineer squad while it is conducting breaches.) The engineer squad can--

    • Conduct route and bridge classification.

    • Aid in locating bypasses around obstacles.

    • Conduct limited breaching operations through log cribs, abatis, and minefields.

    b. Bypassing of Enemy Obstacles. The enemy uses obstacles to canalize and block the advance of friendly forces. The reconnaissance locates obstacles and tries to find a way to bypass them, or they establish surveillance on the obstacle.

      (1) The first action is to seek a bypass. When the platoon bypasses an obstacle, it reports the type and location of the obstacle to the commander. The bypass should be conducted using stealth and cover and concealment. An attempt should be made to locate enemy overwatch positions. If the platoon cannot locate a bypass, it establishes surveillance and reports to battalion.

      (2) Obstacles that cannot be bypassed are breached by a force other than the reconnaissance platoon. Obstacles are covered by planned direct and indirect fires. Breaching forces must keep the enemy from knowing where and when the breach occurs so that the enemy cannot concentrate his fire on the breaching site. The reconnaissance platoon and engineers determine the areas that allow for these actions to take place--for example, enemy positions, weak points in the obstacle, support positions for suppressing the enemy, or routes up to an obstacle. When breaching obstacles, use SOSR:

        Suppress forces covering the breach site.

        Obscure the area to be breached.

        Secure the breach site.

        Reduce the obstacle.

    c. Security Operations. In security operations, the platoon does not have engineer assets working under its control; engineer assets work under battalion control. Therefore, the platoon leader must know the battalion's obstacle plan, which includes locations of lanes and gaps. The platoon may guard and execute targets that engineer forces have prepared. This is called target turnover. Due to the large number of missions received by engineers, the platoon may be directed to execute some obstacles. To do this efficiently, leaders must know the procedures for turnover. (For more information, refer to FM 7-10 and FM 7-20.)


The reconnaissance platoon cannot provide all the information needed by battalion. Therefore, the battalion uses internal and external troops and equipment to assist in the collection effort. Internal assets consist of organic infantry platoons. External assets normally consist of GSR teams and remote sensor teams. The platoon leader must integrate these assets into his plan. These assets increase the capabilities and effectiveness of the reconnaissance platoon.

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