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Aviation Brigade S2 and
FSO Integration in the Targeting Team

by CPT Rick Richardson, Fire Support Division Observer/Controller

Targeting is the process of identifying enemy targets for possible engagement, determining the appropriate attack system, and determining the target effects desired. The Aviation Brigade S2 and Fire Support Officer (FSO) must function along with the S3 as the core of the brigade's targeting team. They must work together to successfully plan and engage targets by use of the decide-detect-deliver methodology. This article focuses on the decide function and the interaction of the aviation brigade S2 and FSO to develop a plan (scheme of fires) for the acquisition and engagement of targets.

Initially, the S2 must answer the following questions in the form of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) products to ensure the targeting team has the tools required for successful targeting.

1. What will the enemy do?

a. Situation Template: Depicts how the enemy might deploy and operate within the constraints imposed by the weather and terrain.

b. Event Template: Depicts locations where critical events and activities are expected to occur and where critical targets will appear.

2. What assets are critical for the enemy? High Value Target (HVT): Refined for a specific battlefield and enemy course of action using the situation template.

Armed with these IPB products, the commander's intent, and the commander's targeting guidance, the targeting team interacts to develop their products. The development of High Payoff Targets (HPTs) from HVTs is done during the wargaming process. As the different options are fought by the staff, the S2 identifies specific HVTs. The staff discusses or war-games different courses of action to develop HPTs. The S3 and FSO uses their knowledge of friendly weapons systems to determine if a capability exists to attack the HVT with lethal assets. In addition, the electronic warfare officer and others assist the FSO with regard to nonlethal attack capabilities and the knowledge of enemy vulnerabilities, while the S2 analyzes and predicts the enemy's response to each attack method. This analysis determines if the attack of the HVT is necessary to ensure the success of friendly operations. If so, the HVT is recorded on the Decision Support Template (DST) as a HPT for that specific phase of the battle.

In addition to developing the HPTs during wargaming, the S2 determines if collection assets are capable of detecting them and providing the necessary target resolution to permit effective attack. This information becomes the basis of the brigade collection plan. During wargaming, the FSO normally considers options to employ his observers. This fire support observer plan must be coordinated with the S2 to synchronize it with the brigade collection plan.

As part of HPT development, the targeting team determines the best means of attack at the same time as deciding when to acquire and attack targets. Knowing target vulnerabilities and the effect a method of attack has on an enemy operation allows the staff to propose the most efficient available attack option. A primary decision here is whether to disrupt, delay, or limit the enemy. Once the desired effects are decided, the staff selects attack options. Coordination is required when an attack by two different means is decided upon.

The HVTs that meet the criteria of being acquirable, attackable, and capable of ensuring friendly success are designated HPTs. This HPT list is normally included in an attack guidance matrix which details the specific HPTs to attack, when and how they should be attacked, and any attack restrictions. The targeting team prepares the HPT list and attack guidance matrix and submits it to the commander for approval.

If the S2 and the FSO have done their targeting as a team, they will have determined valid, efficient, and coordinated answers to the following questions:

  • What is it we need to look for?
  • Where and when can it be found?
  • Who can locate and identify it?
  • Which attack option should be used?
  • Will target damage assessment be required or possible?

These answers drive priorities and actions for the detect and deliver functions of the targeting process.

In summary, targeting is a complex and multi-disciplined effort which requires coordinated integration among many staff members and agencies. The emphasis of targeting is on identifying resources that the enemy can least afford to lose. Denying these resources to the enemy strips him of the initiative; it forces him to conform to friendly battle plans. Thus, an efficient and organized targeting effort is critical to the success of friendly operations.

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