The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


97-6 SECTION II: TA. 2 Fire Support BOS



Positive Performance

2.2 Engage Ground Targets

* Use of Digital Devices within the Battery: Battery FDCs consistently maintain digital communications with the battalion FDC. They process and transmit fire missions to the gunline using the LCU-GDU link.

2.3 Integrate Fire Support

* FA battalion S-2 involvement in the brigade targeting process: Field Artillery Battalion S-2s are increasingly becoming involved in the brigade targeting process, particularly in analyzing, identifying and pinpointing OPFOR mortar locations and ammunition caches.

Technique: S-2s routinely attend brigade targeting meetings and are becoming an integral member of the brigade targeting effort.

* Fire support for the rear area: Limited, but effective fires now more routinely take place in the brigade rear area.


1. Successful units use a dedicated rear area FSO, and a 24-hour workstation in the FSB TOC.

2. Emphasize rear area fire support during all appropriate Home Station training exercises.

3. Adequately resource the rear FSE with personnel and equipment, ie. COLT and/or forward observers and the necessary planning tools.

Needs Emphasis

2.1 Process Ground Targets

* Digital operations: Although units consistently maintain digital communications, they rarely fully exploit the capabilities of the LTACFIRE/IFSAS system.

  1. Few units use the LTACFIRE/IFSAS to manage targets, conduct fire planning, and conduct tactical fire direction.

  2. Too many units have inexperienced operators.

  3. Too often the unit chain of command fails to enforce using the system.

  4. Even units with excellent TACFIRE SOPs too often fail to follow the SOP.

  1. Fire plans are not disseminated nor fired.
  2. Inefficient use of resources.
  3. Failure to meet the commanders attack criteria.


1. Exploit the system. Ensure that both operators and leaders fully understand the capabilities of the system.

2. Establish effective LTACFIRE/IFSAS sustainment training at Home Station, using realistic and demanding operational scenarios.

* Use of the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR): During the LIC and deliberate attack most FOs turn their PLGRs off or leave them in the continuous mode while moving.

RESULT: When the lead element of the platoon makes contact, the FO is unable to utilize the PLGR to immediately and accurately determine the target location.


1. Ensure that the PLGR is turned on and in the continuous mode

2. Use it upon contact to send the FOs present location and initiate a fire mission utilizing the polar plot call for fire

3. Implement the techniques described in "The PLGR: Techniques and Procedures Forward Observers Can Use To Bring Rapid, Accurate Indirect Fires to the Close Fight," CTC Quarterly Bulletin, 4th QTR, FY 96, No. 96-10, OCT 96.

4. Reference: TM 11-5825-29-13

2.1.1 Select Target to Attack

* Company Fire Support Execution Matrix (FSEM):

  1. Most FSEMs used by the company FSOs are not standard.
  2. Lack the sufficient detail to describe the fire support tasks to be executed without further guidance or explanation.

RESULT: FOs, company mortars, and other leaders within the company do not know what indirect fire support assets are available, or how to employ what is available.


1. Standardize a FSEM format for all FIST supporting a brigade.

2. References:

- Article #4 Fire Support Products for the Company, JRTC FS DIV TTP, dtd 1 OCT 96.
- FM 6-20-20 p. 2-7.
- FM 6-20-50 p. 2-15.

2.1.2 Select Fire Support Attack System

* Utilization of Firepower Control Teams (FCTs): Many units come to JRTC with little or no knowledge of how to employ FCTs.

  1. Most units do not train with the FCTs at Home Station. They train with them for the first time when they arrive at the ISB.

  2. Most maneuver commanders do not adequately understand the employment capabilities of FCTs.

Techniques: Employ FCTs in one of two ways:

1. Attach the FCT to a rifle company or a scout platoon to provide responsive naval gun fires, as well as a terminal CAS control capability at the company or platoon level. This technique works well when there are limited fire support assets available (for example, during initial insertion or when operating forward of field artillery and/or mortar ranges)

2. Treat the FCTs independently in during reconnaissance operations. Assign the FCT an NAI or some other area in which to operate. This gives the maneuver commander more sets of eyes forward to cover more area. This forward employment requires detailed planning for communications, resupply, CASEVAC, and potential extraction/exfiltration of the FCTs when they operate independently and far and/or far forward. Determine System Capabilities

* Q36 operations:

  1. Field artillery planners too often do not have an adequate understanding of the firefinder radar system to successfully plan and then execute using the system.

  2. Too often the targeting technician, the firefinder subject matter expert, is not consulted about employment considerations beyond site selection until after the battle has begun.

  3. Too many field artillery Tactical Operations Centers (TOCs) tend to expect more from the radar than the system can actually deliver.

  1. Units lose critical time and miss key opportunities trying to execute unrealistic plans.
  2. The lack of planning and execution knowledge hampers unit planning for future operations.


1. Conduct extensive Home Station training with the system so that both operators and planners understand, and accept the systems' capabilities and limitations.

2. At Home Station, conduct Tactical Exercise Without Troops (TEWT) terrain walks to highlight the unique requirements of the system i.e., optimum mask angles, positioning considerations and the effects of vegetation and the terrain.

3. Make the targeting technician an integral member of the field artillery battalion staff. Bring the targeting technician into the planning process early.

4. Conduct professional development classes for both officers and NCOs at home station. Gauge the level of detail to the target audience

2.1.3 Prepare Order to Fire

* Call for fire procedures: forward observer (FO)

PROBLEM: Too many FOs initiate calls for fire using non-doctrinal, incomplete formats. EXAMPLE: calling in a grid location and nothing more.

RESULT: Critical loss of time as the firing unit must then request target size, description, and direction.


1. Fire support NCOs and officers must train FO teams IAW FM 6-30, chapter 4.

2. All members of the battalion FSE must know the proper call for fire format and the six elements required to properly initiate a voice fire mission.

3. FIST training should include radio rehearsals and use of the TSFO; emphasize proper calls for fire formats.

4. Ensure soldiers understand the necessity of providing the fire direction center with accurate and proper information the first time to increase mission processing times and ensure faster rounds on target.

* Howitzer range cards:

  1. Too many firing batteries either have no howitzer range card at all, or only partially complete one.
  2. Frequently howitzer range cards do not contain direct fire targets or data for APERS or Killer Junior.


1. Battery leadership should inspect howitzer range cards during precombat checks and inspections to ensure the range card is done to standard.

2. Reinforce the value of the direct fire range card for howitzer engagements.

3. Doctrinal references: FM 6-50, Chap. 3, pp 3-12.

* Out of traverse/6400 mil missions: Firing units often experience difficulty executing out of traverse missions.

  1. XOs too often fail to derive the min QE for each octant.

  2. FDCs often fail to compute TGPCs for each octant.

  3. Often howitzer section equipment, such as the prime mover and/or camouflage netting, prohibits true 6400 mil capability.

  4. Howitzer sections routinely do not emplace their aiming posts correctly.

  5. Lack of aiming reference points and pick up displacement for all possible azimuths further inhibits crews from executing out of traverse/6400 mil missions.

  6. Gunners and section chiefs are not comfortable using aiming posts to pick up displacement.

  7. Units are not using distant aiming points (DAP), despite their availability.

RESULTS: Slow fire mission response times, particularly when responding to counterfire missions.


1. Doctrinal references: FM 6-40, 6-50 and the appropriate howitzer -10.

2. Ensure the XO and FDC understand the requirements necessary for the conduct of out of traverse missions, especially setting up the chart in the FDC to facilitate 6400 mils.

3. Ensure howitzer sections are trained on how to position their alternate aiming reference points and are completely proficient at picking up displacement.

4. Frequently rehearse out of traverse dry fire missions in each octant to ensure the firing unit is capable of providing fast, accurate fires.

5. Ensure all unit equipment is positioned to facilitate 6400 mil operations.

2.2 Engage Ground Targets

* Observer plans and use of triggers: Company FSOs are not developing observer plans and trigger points during defensive operations.

PROBLEM: Too many observers are unable to see the target area and do not establish or rehearse a trigger point.

RESULT: Planned fires normally impact after the target has passed through the target area, allowing an enemy element to successfully pass through the defensive sector.


1. Company FSOs must position observers in order to support the defense:

- in restrictive terrain, place the FO well forward of the Co/Tm defensive position.
- establish an identifiable trigger point, based on a projected rate of enemy movement through the sector.
- rehearse the optimal position of the FO relative to the trigger once the enemy enters the target area.

2. Understand FM 6-30, page 5-25 the establishment and use of triggers.

2.2.1 Conduct Lethal Engagement

* Mortar employment in close contact: Few units are using mortars when contact with the enemy is established.

  1. Maneuver unit leaders (platoon and company) are allowing their observers and FSOs to fight with fires prior to maneuvering on the enemy.

  2. Company FSOs and Platoon FOs are not establishing priority targets with 60 mm and 81 mm mortars along the unit's route.


1. FOs and FSOs should establish targets along the units route on templated enemy positions and likely ambush sites.

2. As the unit moves along the route, the FO should cancel one target and establish the next target. Use the minimum safe distance of the weapon system designated to fire the target as the trigger to shift to the new target.

3. When the unit comes in contact with the enemy, the FO can initiate his priority target or shift from his priority target, placing his fires on or behind the enemy.

4. See "Fast, Accurate Fires in the Close Fight" by LTC David L. Anderson in CTC Quarterly Bulletin 96-4, 2d Quarter, FY 96, March, 1996. Conduct Surface Attack

* Accuracy of mortars:

  1. FSOs are not providing timely meteorological (MET) data or coordinating for survey (declination) support for the task forces' organic mortars.

  2. Mortar platoons and sections are not aggressively conducting registrations as a means to improve their accuracy.


1. The BN FSO should coordinate with the FA Battalion S-3 to get MET messages (computer MET if the unit is using the Mortar Ballistic Computer) and survey support. Include the maneuver task force in the FA battalion's priorities of survey support (with the priority going to the main effort task force).

2. The FSO, with the maneuver task force S-3, should establish which units should register the mortars and ensure this tasking is included in the operations order.

2.3 Integrate Fire Support

* Indirect fires during small unit contacts: Infantry platoon leaders and forward observers are reluctant to use indirect fires during small unit contacts.

  1. There is a tendency to be overly cautious for fear of fratricide, since the enemy is often only 200-300 meters away.

  2. Most fire support teams do not have an established battle drill for this situation. They are not well trained in the adjustment of fires onto rapidly moving mounted and dismounted enemy forces.

  3. De-centralized "fast" fire missions are rarely seen, particularly during the search and attack phase of operations.

  1. Reduced opportunity to kill the enemy.
  2. Most units do not fire the required volume of ammunition in effect to achieve the desired effects on the target.


1. Plan for and use artillery and mortar fires to rapidly isolate, block or defeat enemy forces upon contact.

2. Use priority targets for both the mortars and artillery. Selectively use quick fire channels to assist the observer in obtaining "fast, accurate" fire missions.

3. Establish battle drills that immediately get a round on the ground upon contact. Once the round is on the ground, observers should be trained to make one bold, accurate shift and fire for effect.

4. Always give accurate target descriptions and make sure that the attack guidance is fully understood.

5. FIST training: include engaging close-in targets with fire support while the observer is moving.

6. Train FOs on rapidly determining a target location and initiating a complete call for fire while on the move and under attack.

7. Train FOs on the use of the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) to rapidly determine a target location in restrictive terrain. See: "The PLGR: Techniques and Procedures Forward Observers Can Use to Bring Rapid, Accurate, Indirect Fires to the Close Fight." CTC Quarterly Bulletin, October 1996.

8. Use every available Home Station training opportunity to conduct battle drills on contact, using one round adjustments, bold shifts and the appropriate shifting and firing of priority targets

* Tactical Fire Direction: Fire direction officers (FDOs)are not executing tactical fire direction.

  1. Inconsistent tracking of the battle and the battalion's fire support assets.

  2. FDOs are often too involved with low- level tasks in the FDCs to properly conduct tactical fire direction.

  3. Do not provide the staff with the necessary information (ammunition expenditure, status of firing units, etc.) to adequately track the battle.


1. The FDO must have a clear understanding of the commander's guidance for fire support. He must be able to visualize and execute this guidance.

2. The FDO must position himself in a place where he can tactically control the fight and provide critical information to the staff. An effective technique is to use a lap-sized map board complete with FS products, maneuver graphics, FSCMs, ammunition counts, targets, firing unit range fans, and radar fans as he tracks the execution of the ground tactical plan.

3. The FDO must participate in the planning process to ensure positioning considerations and ammunition requirements can support the mission.

btn_tabl.gif 1.21 KTable of Contents
btn_prev.gif 1.18 KSection II: TA. 1 Maneuver BOS
btn_next.gif 1.17 KSection II: TA. 3 Air Defense Artillery BOS

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias