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Greetings from the Mojave Desert! This is our second newsletter, containing articles I think all of you will find informative and helpful with TTP to sharpen your warfighting skills. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go out to COL NAGEL and a tremendous crew at CALL for all their assistance and continued support in producing our newsletter.

I want to review two new initiatives which will have a profound impact on the way Brigades conduct combat operations at the NTC. The first initiative, now known as Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (RSOI), is the process of deploying from home station to a contingency area, building combat power with prepositioned equipment, and preparing for combat operations. RSOI is a demanding tactical operation complete with a Joint Task Force Headquarters, Mojavian Ambassador, and a mission which will require the early deployment for a portion of the BCT. The "administrative draw" week no longer exists. The second initiative is the Brigade fight conducted as a cohesive unit throughout the 14-day campaign. The rotational Brigade will remain the C2 headquarters for all combat, CS, and CSS units deploying with the Brigade. This is a significant change for the FSCOORD and his Battalion which will both remain in direct support to their own maneuver Brigade the entire time.

The Fire Support Trainers have noted improvements throughout the past several rotations: better FA Battalion orders processes, reduction in firing incidents, more efficient PLS usage, and faster ready-to-fire times. All of these are positive trends indicative of good home-station training.

Although we've seen improvements during each rotation, player units still require additional time, effort, and training in some key areas before arriving in the desert. They include planning and execution of battery defense, integrating the TF FSO into the TF staff, developing a scheme of fires, and, most important, observer planning and execution. We must continue to pursue the maneuver commander's guidance for fire support in terms of task, purpose, and endstate. We must then translate our fire support requirements into an easily understood scheme of fires executed through a comprehensive observer plan that includes both Brigade and Task Force observers. Work these areas hard, arrive in the desert fully prepared to execute the basics, and we'll quickly move on to more advanced planning and execution techniques.

I want to expand on the issue of the Brigade's ability to deliver effective indirect fires -- or more simply put -- finding the enemy, executing effective fires, and killing the enemy. This sounds as though it should be easy; yet the business of integrating fires with maneuver is tough. There are many players across the Brigade Combat Team, not just fire supporters, who play key roles. First, effective fire support requires a clear Commander's guidance. Beyond that, there are many questions which must be asked before we can expect to be effective on the battlefield:

  • Do we really understand what the Boss wants?
  • Are the desired effects understandable and achievable?
  • Can we develop a scheme of fires that will achieve his intent?
  • Are we building an observation plan which positions observers at the right place with the right equipment?
  • Are we integrating IPB products for targeting and OPs?
  • Does the observer have a complete understanding of his target responsibilities (task and purpose) to execute the mission?
  • Are we battle-tracking to ensure the observer has identified the right target (formation) at the right time?
  • Can the observer see the effects of the mission and ensure the intended effects are achieved?

I challenge each of you to work the development of commander's guidance and a clear scheme of fires; however, even an excellent fire support plan will fail without well-rehearsed observers positioned correctly to execute the plan. Focusing on these areas with command emphasis will go a long way toward improving the BCT's overall effectiveness on the battlefield.

I hope the fire support community and maneuver folks throughout the world find this newsletter helpful. We welcome any and all feedback concerning the information contained in the newsletter. Please call, write, or fax any input to help us improve the newsletter, or to make requests for future articles. As I depart the desert, I want to welcome LTC Marcus Dudley as the incoming Senior Fire Support Trainer. I know he will find working with all the rotational units as professionally challenging and rewarding as I did.

Lieutenant Colonel, Field Artillery
Senior Fire Support Combat Trainer

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