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BATTLE COMMAND AT THE FIRING BATTERY LEVEL

by CPT Noel T. Nicolle, CPT C. Phil Royce, CPT Scott A. Westley, and CPT Thomas L. Kelly, Observer/Controllers, National Training Center


"To command is to direct." --FM 100-5

FACT:

FM 100-5 does not address company- or battery-level leadership.

ISSUE:

How do you, the battery commander, "direct"?

TECHNIQUES:

1. Assign tasks within your battery just as a higher level commander assigns tasks.

  • Be prepared to contend with the METT-T conditions as with any other unit preparing for combat.

  • Be able to prioritize tasks and allocate resources so your battery can properly execute its mission.

  • Direct actions that will prepare your unit for combat operations.

  • After you receive the field artillery support plan (FASP) and consult with the battalion staff, you must translate the battalion requirements into an executable battery order.

2. Usually, there is little time to prepare for a mission, so you must be organized and proactive. If you wait to develop the entire battery order from scratch after returning from battalion, you will waste a large amount of your soldier's valuable preparation time.

  • You must allow your soldiers maximum time to prepare for the mission.

  • Arrive at the battalion tactical operations center (TOC) prior to the FASP brief and familiarize yourself with the plan.

  • If you understand the mission and receive guidance on areas that are unclear before you leave the orders brief, you will have at least 75 percent of your battery order complete.

  • With strong standing operating procedures (SOP) and battle preparation drills for basic field artillery missions, you can complete the other 25 percent of your order shortly after returning to your battery.

3. Develop several task lists, or Pre-Combat Checks/Pre-Combat Inspections (PCC/ PCI) lists, which correspond to likely artillery missions.

  • Prioritize your tasks based on METT-T.

  • Allocate your scarcest resource--TIME--by using a timeline.

". . .decide when and how to make adjustments." --FM 100-5

4. Keep your finger on the pulse of your battery's preparation efforts in order to make any necessary adjustments. Your presence in the battery area is critical while your soldiers are preparing for combat. You cannot afford to be away from your unit the entire day while conducting area reconnaissance.

  • Conduct an initial map reconnaissance and then verify your assessment with personal route and position reconnaissance.

  • Have gunnery sergeants fully prepare subsequent and alternate positions once selecting the locations.

  • Personally supervise your unit's preparation efforts to ensure critical tasks are focused and completed to standard.

"Command occurs from the location of the commander." --FM 100-5

5. During the battle, position yourself at one of these locations:

  • at your battery operations center (BOC).

  • on the gun line.

  • overlooking the battery area.

From each of these locations, you will be able to make decisions that allow your battery to continue executing missions even during adverse conditions such as mass casualty evacuations, chemical attacks, or ground and air attacks. Your presence is critical so that the battery will respond correctly to threats under pressure and still continue the mission. You cannot successfully command your battery during the battle from outside the position area (PA). It is true you will need to take the advance party forward to a new PA in the offense. However, once there, you should give initial guidance to the gunnery sergeant and quickly return to the battery. Platoon leaders can do an excellent job of supervising the battery's effort in your absence, but you should not expect them to make critical decisions without your guidance.

SUMMARY:

  • Follow the tenets of FM 100-5.

  • Direct, prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and adjust to changes.

  • During battle, command your battery.

The success of the mission depends on ". . . the will embodied in the commander
to accomplish the mission."


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