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SUBJECT: Direct Fire Planning and Execution

Observation frequency:1-2QFY963-4QFY961-2QFY973-4QFY971-2QFY98


OBSERVATION 1: Company/teams do not effectively use direct fires during offensive missions. (TA.1.2.1)


1. In the offense, company/team commanders seldom conduct advanced planning for the use of direct fires during maneuver.

2. Commanders have only graphic control measures to control direct fires.

3. Commanders are required to execute supporting fire while in contact.

OBSERVATION 2: Company commanders seldom conduct sufficient direct fire planning. (TA.1.2.1)


1. Company commanders tend to lack understanding of where and when direct fire planning occurs in the battalion engagement area development process.

2. Company commanders seldom synchronize the direct fire plans among the companies within a battalion engagement area.

OBSERVATION 3: Planning for and execution of shifting of direct fires is inadequate at company level. (TA.1.2.1)


Commanders do not plan or execute shifting of fires to:

1. Allow a team that is decisively engaged to maneuver and maintain standoff; or

2. Focus fires on critical enemy weapons systems or enemy concentrations.


OBSERVATION 1: (Repeat of Observation 1, 3-4QFY97)

for Direct Fire Planning and Execution

1. The focus of offensive fires is to control and distribute those fires while on the move against a generally static enemy. Company/team commanders must have an offensive fire plan to maximize the principles of direct fire and allow the commander to focus, distribute and shift fires. See the following references:

a. Chapters 2 and 3, FM 71-1, Tank and Mechanized Infantry Company Team

b. FM 17-12-1-1 and 1-2, Tank Gunnery (Abrams) Volumes I and II

c. FM 23-1, Bradley Gunnery

d. CALL Special Study, Mar 98, Closing With The Enemy; Company Team Maneuver

e. SH 7-45, available through the CALL homepage

2. Company/team commanders can control offensive direct fires with the same tools that are used in the defense:

a. Engagement areas (EAs)

b. Target reference points (TRPs)

c. Fire patterns

d. Fire commands

3. The offensive fire plan should provide the company/team commander the ability to orient his force and transition it from a moving force to a base of fire and maneuver.

a. There are several techniques that can assist the commander in planning and controlling his direct fires, including:
- Sectors
- Quadrants
- Target array
- Closest TRP
- Fire patterns
- Grids

b. The first four techniques use TRPs to control fires. TRPs assist in focusing fires on a point, on multiple points, or an area. They are preplanned to support the scheme of maneuver and may be oriented on either enemy or terrain. Some TRPs are planned on enemy positions or surrounding terrain to focus platoon fires against the enemy. Others are planned on terrain features throughout the zone of attack. This allows flexibility controlling fires if the actual enemy disposition does not match the SITEMP, or in the event of chance contact.

4. The battalion S3 or battalion commander conducts a tactical exercise without troops (TEWT) with the entire staff and company commanders, working through the battalion engagement area development process. At the end of the exercise, company commanders should know:

a. where direct fire planning occurs in the process.

b. what battalion warning orders (WARNOs) will initiate the company direct fire.

c. what planning products and resources the companies should expect from battalion.

d. what products the company should produce for a complete direct fire plan.

Eight steps of engagement area developmentDirect fire planning principles
IPBMass fires
Select the ground for the attackFocus fires
Integration of the engagement areaDistribute fires
Plan the direct fire fightShift fires
Fire commandsLeaders control fires
Review the planAll crews know the plan
RehearseRehearse the fire plan

5. Commanders must plan and rehearse critical events that would require a fire command to shift fires. EXAMPLES:

a. Enemy closing within direct fire engagement range of a firing team.

b. Enemy forces selecting a COA that changes the initial fire distribution plan.

c. Enemy rate of march that exceeds friendly ability to destroy all targets from initial set positions.

6. Companies should conduct tactical chalk talks or walk-through drills where they outline the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) they will use to shift fires during the direct fire fight.

a. Incorporate these TTPs into team and platoon battle drills and validate them during company situational training exercises.

b. Capture validated TTPs in a company SOP or battle book.


SUBJECT: Movement Formations and Techniques

Observation frequency:1-2QFY963-4QFY961-2QFY973-4QFY971-2QFY98


OBSERVATION 1: FA battery commanders often do not conduct proper planning and preparation for their tactical moves. (TA 1.1.1)


1. Commanders typically give little thought to control measures for ensuring timely, controlled tactical moves.

2. Most moves consist only of sending a move order to the guns with no thought of land deconfliction, boundaries, terrain, movement aid for limited visibility, reconnaissance, survey points, or movement control measures.

OBSERVATION 2: Most DS battalion staffs understand Paladin movement techniques; however, they do not maximize the employment techniques of the Paladin system in supporting the combined arms team. (TA.2.3)


1. Artillery movement is rarely adequately planned for and, therefore, not synchronized with maneuver or based on execution of essential fire support tasks (EFSTs).

2. Clear movement triggers are not developed, most moves being on order.

for Movement Formations and Techniques

1. Paladin movement requires great detail in planning and flexibility in execution. Commanders should look early for potential problems, define specific control measures for the movement, and then position key leaders where they can see and influence the movement.

2. Movement planning must begin during the commander's mission analysis. Even if the battalion does not provide sufficient guidance for movement, the battery commander is not absolved from planning movement in-depth to support his battery mission.

3. An initial examination of the scheme of maneuver, coupled with the Paladin zones provided from the battalion, will give the commander a starting point for his maneuver plan.

4. The commander should look for obvious conflicts in the movement plan. He should determine conflicts early to find solutions or work with the battalion staff to modify the plan.

a. Are several batteries taking the same route at the same time?

b. Does the route given by battalion violate unit boundaries?

c. Is there a specific route or is that left to the commander's discretion?

d. Does the movement guidance conflict with the maneuver forces plan?

5. The commander must then make specific decisions concerning his planned movement.

a. What type of formation will he use?

b. Move by platoons or by battery?

c. Move in a wedge or in column formation?

d. Give a specific route or specify an axis of advance?

6. If they know to do so in advance, the gunnery sergeants can assist the commander by easily placing survey control points along the route. By conducting a route reconnaissance within limits of the tactical situation, the gunnery sergeants can advise the commander on the terrain, routes, and possible conflicts. If ground reconnaissance is not possible, then the commander must conduct a detailed map reconnaissance.

a. How far will each movement take the battery?

b. When will navigation updates be needed?

c. Who will provide the survey support?

d. What are the specific triggers to initiate movement?

7. The commander then determines how best to pass his movement plan to his platoons. One successful method is to develop battery graphics and disseminate them while issuing the WARNO or OPORD.

a. Use basic graphic control measures to help ease movement problems and add flexibility to the entire plan. Graphics should include battery boundaries, routes, or axis of advance depending on how much movement control the commander needs, Paladin zones, survey control points and any start points, check points, or release points.

b. By getting these graphics down to the section chief level, the commander can ensure all leaders have an understanding of the scheme of maneuver and can allow him to issue FRAGOs based on the graphics should the situation change.

8. Control during movement execution is critical. Commanders often have the gunnery sergeants link in with the rear elements of the maneuver forces. This gives the commanders eyes forward while positioning themselves forward to make their own assessment of the movement.

9. Commanders should plan for contingencies in their scheme of maneuver. By planning alternate Paladin zones and alternate routes of march, the commander can easily shift his unit when the situation changes.

a. The ability of the Paladin to conduct "hipshoots" means the commander can support maneuver from almost all points of his march.

b. Specific essential field artillery tasks (EFATs), such as Copperhead or FASCAM, may require specific range or angle-T positioning factors. Alternate Paladin zones, developed during mission analysis, allow the commander to quickly shift his forces into areas where he knows he can meet range requirements necessary to accomplish his EFATs.


SUBJECT: Use of Dismounted Infantry

Observation frequency:1-2QFY963-4QFY961-2QFY973-4QFY971-2QFY98


OBSERVATION 1: Heavy task forces (TFs) do not utilize their dismounted infantry. (T.A.1.1.1)


1. Dismounted infantry are often not integrated into the TF scheme of maneuver.

2. Dismounted infantry lack a clear task and purpose in conjunction with the mounted elements.

3. When heavy TFs are forced to use their dismounted infantry, the soldiers are often unprepared to accomplish their mission.

a. Soldiers are unclear of the tactical situation and how their task and purpose relates to the company's task and purpose.

b. NCOs often leave behind or do not inspect essential equipment to accomplish their mission (graphics, radios, NVGs, binoculars, AT weapons, etc.).

4. Infantry units are often consolidated within the TF at the last minute, preventing any meaningful troop-leading procedures such as orders briefings, rehearsals, and pre-combat checks/pre-combat inspections (PCCs/PCIs).


OBSERVATION 1: Mechanized infantry and armor company/team commanders often do not adequately plan for the use of infantry squads with mounted forces in either offensive or defensive operations. (TA.1.1.1)


1. Infantry squads slow the tempo of the operation.

2. Infantry squads have insufficient Class V (i.e., AT weapons, hand grenades, and machine gun ammo) as well as inadequate obstacle breach kits to make them effective for their assigned task.

3. Infantry squads lack effective communication methods.

4. Infantry squads create a safety hazard when moving among maneuvering vehicles (at risk of being run over or becoming victims of a fratricide incident from mounted weapons).

5. The company team commander does not identify the best enemy target for the infantry squads (i.e., enemy infantry, ambush sites, reconnaissance patrols, or observation posts) or plan dismount, remount, or deployment locations.

6. Infantry squads only provide close-in support to the Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs).

7. Infantry squad leaders lack experience, and squads have worked together for less than 90 days.

8. Mechanized infantry squads are repeatedly destroyed (usually while on board their BFV) through insufficient planning and rehearsals, a disregard for needed support, and hasty execution during the battle.

9. The role of mechanized infantrymen is in jeopardy as generations of BFV squads do not meet minimum MTP standards for performance or train to their capabilities as prescribed in FM 7-7J and FM 71-1.

OBSERVATION 2: Task forces do not effectively use their dismounted infantry. (TA.1.1.1)

DISCUSSION: Task force staffs normally always plan for the use of their M2 Bradleys, but if they plan for the use of dismounts, it is usually an afterthought.

for Use of Dismounted Infantry

1. Use every possible opportunity during Home Station training to integrate the use of the mounted and dismounted elements. Identify shortfalls in dismounted personnel and train as a consolidated force during Home Station training.

2. The most effective infantry squad is one that has the support of the task force commander and planning attention of the company commander. The remainder of the armored force can only benefit from the successes of infantry actions. Mechanized infantry and armor commanders at all levels must train and employ infantry squads to reverse this trend. Task force commanders must meet the challenge of planning employment of the infantry in conjunction with mounted forces. The following recommendations address the most often heard excuses:

a. Infantry squads slow the tempo of the operation. Plan the operation at task force level for the infantry squads to have a specific task and purpose to support the task force commander's intent. Each mechanized infantry company can support the deployment of its own infantry squads if they are given an attainable task and purpose. Mechanized infantry platoon capabilities and limitations are given in FM 71-1, Tank and Mechanized Infantry Company Team, on pages 1-7 and 1-8. The missions that mechanized infantry squads execute successfully most often are:

- Task: Clear a defile. Purpose: To destroy enemy overwatch elements and facilitate movement. This operation succeeds with BFV support, a detailed, repetitious rehearsal of the actual clear mission, a resourced fire support plan, and engineer squads supporting the ground force (see CALL CTC Quarterly Bulletin 97-20, "The Defile Breach: TTPs").

- Task: Suppress a motorized rifle platoon. Purpose: To prevent fires on the main effort. This task includes securing a forward observer (FO) team to adjust indirect fires (to include smoke) onto the point of penetration and/or breach point. This mission also supports an infiltration by the infantry. The end-state for this mission is that enemy forces overwatching a key area (entrance to a chokepoint, an obstacle, a flank of the BP, etc.) are destroyed, suppressed, or obscured (See CALL CTC Quarterly Bulletin 96-1, "Route Clearance Operations: Using Dismounted Infantry In The Attack").

- Task: Establish an observation post (OP). Purpose: To provide indirect fires and reconnaissance on the enemy forces. This surveillance mission secures a FO party to direct accurate artillery fires or CAS and uses infantry squads to secure the position and repel counter-reconnaissance forces.

- Task: Destroy enemy reconnaissance forces. Purpose: To prevent detection of the main body. This mission is an active patrolling operation. Most often, the edges of the main maneuver corridors are not patrolled with any regularity. An infantry patrol, with an indirect fire plan resourced with task force mortars, will detect and destroy enemy reconnaissance assets. Patrols can also link up in an OP on the morning of the fight to report progress of attacking forces forward of the BPs (see CALL CTC Quarterly Bulletin 96-7, "The Mechanized Counter-reconnaissance Battle: A Company Team Perspective").

b. Infantry squads have insufficient Class V (i.e., AT weapons, hand grenades, and machine gun ammo) as well as inadequate obstacle breach kits to make them effective for their assigned task. Infantry leaders must anticipate, request, and follow-up on the types of Class V they need to succeed. "MRE-bag" hand grenades (manufactured IAW NTC ROE) are often forgotten. Demolition kits are frequently inadequate despite implied tasks for infantry squads to breach in the absence of engineer support. Task Force S4s must relentlessly request support to infantry squads if they are going to accomplish their task and purpose.

c. Infantry squads lack effective communication methods. Provide a SINCGARS radio to each squad or infantry unit operating out of the BFV to communicate with the mounted element, using the AN/PRC 126s for inter-squad and platoon traffic. Radios can be the most effective weapon for a squad, especially if properly placed. Also, when vehicles are destroyed, a radio facilitates the squad's extraction from the battlefield.

d. Infantry squads create a safety hazard when moving among maneuvering vehicles (fratricide). This myth has frozen mounted commanders in fear for years. Proper rehearsals, graphic control measures, redundant communications, understanding of surface danger zones and control of the moving infantry element reduce the hazard of individuals moving among vehicles. This reiterates the need for task force commanders to rehearse dismounted actions at task force rehearsals to increase awareness of all leaders.

e. The company leadership did not identify the best enemy target for the infantry squads and did not plan dismount or deployment locations. Commanders did not identify the most vulnerable target for the infantry. A well-positioned infantry force often goes undetected in the midst of a mass of armored vehicles, exposing the enemy to the infantry before they can protect themselves. Enemy infantry most often outnumber friendly infantry, which makes them an unfavorable target to engage. Early in the IPB process, look first for targets that will be vulnerable to infantry and plan to support their employment against those targets.

f. Infantry squads only provide close-in support to the BFVs. Per FM 7-7J, Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad (Bradley) (pages 1 and 2), the role of the BFV is to support infantry rifle platoons and squads, yet commanders are constantly getting it reversed. FM 7-7J is written with that basic assumption in mind; do not confuse the definition and you will prevent confusion on the battlefield.

g. Infantry squad leaders lack experience, and the squad has only worked together for 90 days or less. Basic infantry drill training and communication are the key ingredients needed to produce an effective fighting force. Training at NTC will provide the opportunity to hone the rest of the squad's skills.

5. Lack of emphasis on use of dismounts is often due in part to manning shortfalls in mechanized units. However, even those units that are above 80% in manning have generally not trained to utilize their dismounts in their doctrinal role. Units should conduct Home Station exercises that include planning for and employing dismounted infantry.

a. Use the following capabilities of dismounted infantry to enhance lethality:
- Surveillance (R&S plan and LP/OPs)
- Reconnoiter (IVLs, security patrols, and LD)
- Infiltration (seize key terrain, secure FO teams, covertly reduce obstacles, objective surveillance)
- Execute defense (utilize infantry strong points to secure mounted flanks or contact patrols to adjacent company teams or TFs)
- Construct obstacle (augment the TF engineers)
- Perform anti-armor ambush (economy of force on separate AAs)

b. Identify dismounted missions early to enable units to task organize and properly prepare and rehearse for their mission.


SUBJECT: Actions on Contact

Observation frequency:1-2QFY963-4QFY961-2QFY973-4QFY971-2QFY98


OBSERVATION 1: Units often become quickly combat ineffective upon contact with the enemy. (TA.1.1.2)


1. Units have exhibited a general inability to execute their plans effectively. This is especially true once the units are in direct fire contact with the enemy.

2. Upon contact with the enemy:

a. Units do not use the terrain to their advantage.

b. Units do not make full, effective use of fires, smoke, and other combat multipliers.

c. Units are invariably "surprised" when the actual enemy disposition is not exactly what they had envisioned in the planning process, and do not know what to do.

d. Units are rapidly attrited and do not accomplish their mission.

for Actions on Contact

1. Units must not rely on the planning process to arrive at the best tactical solution. Branch schools should emphasize that effective use of METT-T should drive the planning process. The doctrinal processes themselves will not ensure tactical success. They are only effective if the planners and commanders first understand the nature of the battlefield (METT-T).

2. Units must go to the field for frequent, routine Home Station training at company/team and task force levels. Units must go through repetitive actions on contact battle drills until they know instinctively what actions to take upon contact with the enemy.

3. Commanders must be educated on the true nature of the battlefield and given the opportunity to work with their units in a realistic environment.

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