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TA. 1 Negative Trend 1: Direct Fire Planning

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96



  1. Leaders are not directing the emplacement of the support by fire element.
  2. Platoon maneuver is rarely overwatched by effective fire.
  3. Squad and team level: support by fire positions are rarely established.
  4. General lack of knowledge about the M-60 machine gun.
    - weak crew drills
    - little or no operator maintenance.

RESULT: Lack of coordination between support and assault elements leads to lack of squad maneuver support.

PROBLEM 1-2:Units at all levels do not take steps to ensure effective direct fires.

  1. inconsistent use of aiming stakes
  2. poor rage cards
  3. few sector sketches
  4. very few control measures required for force protection (e.g., target reference points (TRPs), max engagement lines, fire commands, etc.)
  5. failure to engage targets at locations directed by leadership
  6. direct fire planning not integrated with obstacle plans
  7. poor leaders' reconnaissance
  8. lack of understanding of the mission or the commander's intent


PROBLEM 1-3: Units often fail to position weapon systems to effectively engage and destroy targets.

  1. Improper terrain analysis
  2. Inadequate understanding of how the enemy fights
  3. Ineffectual fire control and fire discipline
  4. General failure to synchronize direct and indirect fire with obstacle plans in the defense.


PROBLEM 1-4: Units experience the following problems with direct fire planning/ execution:

  1. weapon positioning that does not optimize systems' effectiveness.
  2. Failure to clear sectors of fire
    - Anti-tank engagements inside the minimum arming range of the weapon system
  3. inconsistent use of range cards and sector sketches
  4. ineffective use of direct fire control measures (e.g. TRPs, trigger lines, engagement priorities and criteria, fire distribution, sector stakes, etc.).

RESULTS: Direct fire weapons that are not employed to their maximum effectiveness.

  1. Leaders at all levels must learn the capabilities and limitations of their weapons.
  2. Leaders must learn which weapons are most effective against specific targets.
  3. Develop and use control measures that mass and control fires in engagement areas.
  4. Use training exercises without troops (TEWTs) to train leaders to plan direct fire for both offensive and defensive missions.
  5. Determine where to kill the enemy before positioning weapons.
    - Understand the terrain.
    - Anticipate enemy's most probable course of action.
  6. Practice the basic skills essential to direct fire planning:
    - aiming stakes
    - range cards
    - sector sketches
    - basic fire control measures -- target reference points (TRPs), maximum engagement lines, trigger lines and fire commands
  7. Use the six elements to the fire commands (Alert, direction, description, range, method of fire, and command to fire) to direct a unit's fire.
  8. Integrate night vision devices (NVDs) and illuminating aids into every direct fire plan. Fire control planning is extremely important during limited visibility operations.
  9. Use combined arms live fire exercises (CALFEXs).
    - builds soldier confidence in his weapon
    - real-time feedback on the integration of direct and indirect fires on a target.
  10. Doctrinal references:
    - FM 7-8, p. 2-82, p. 2-158 and pp. 5-28 thru 30
    - FM 7-10, p. 5-10.

TA.1 Negative Trend 2: Force Protection

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96


PROBLEM 2-1: Leaders are not taking aggressive action to protect the force.

  1. Poor use of observation posts (OPs)
  2. Poor dispersion
  3. Lack of fortified positions
  4. Lack of R & S patrols
  5. Poor passive air defense measures
  6. Improper movement formations and techniques
  7. Remaining in the same position too long
  8. Poor noise and light discipline
  9. Inconsistent risk management procedures.

RESULT: Enemy soldiers often surprise units and inflict many casualties.

PROBLEM 2-2: Force protection of the tactical assembly area (TAA) is an overall weakness at individual and collective levels. Aviation units are frequently unable to protect themselves from a Level 1 threat.

  1. Often soldiers are not trained in the common or individual skills to execute this collective task.(e.g., construct an individual fighting position; move under indirect fire; range card preparation, etc.)
  2. The task force S-2 does not provide a thorough IPB and R & S plan for the TAA.
  3. No unity of command exists for assembly area defense.
  4. Emplacement of obstacles and use of Class IV materiels are minimal.


PROBLEM 2-3: Repeat of Problem 1-2.

  1. Exercise procedures on ground movement, occupation and security of the tactical assembly area as part of company and task force field training exercises (FTXs).
  2. Designate one individual (recommend HHC commander) in charge of the overall assembly area defense.
  3. Develop a reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) plan for the assembly area. Aggressively patrol the perimeter.
  4. Require aircraft to check the perimeter as they depart and/or return from missions.
  5. Develop and rehearse detailed task force SOPs for assembly area operations.
  6. Concentrate on NCO leader tasks and individual soldier skills
  7. Standardize subordinate aviation battalion SOPs within the aviation brigade. Recommended areas of emphasis:
    - FARP security procedures
    - quartering party procedures
    - assembly area occupation
    - patrolling
    - CASEVAC procedures
    - reaction to sniper
    - actions when enemy is inside the perimeter.

TA.1 Negative Trend 3: Security

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96


PROBLEM 3-1: Heavy teams do not adapt well to the close in terrain and the enemy dismounted threat. They typically experience the following difficulties:

  1. Terrain analysis, using OCOKA, at Co/Tm level.
  2. Establishing observation posts (OPs).
  3. Conducting local security.

RESULT: Large numbers of casualties from snipers and close in battle.


PROBLEM 3-2: Repeat of Problem 3-1.

  1. Home Station training should emphasize:
    - terrain analysis using observation, cover/concealment, obstacles, key terrain, avenues of approach (OCOKA)
    - establishing observation posts (OPs)
    - conducting local security

TA.1 Negative Trend 4: Breaching a mined, wire obstacle

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96



  1. Units do not properly obscure themselves from enemy observation by using smoke on the far side of the obstacle.
  2. Units do not provide adequate local security for the engineers during the breach.

RESULT: High engineer casualty rate during the breach.


PROBLEM 4-2: Units do not properly execute the principles of suppress, obscure, secure and reduce (SOSR).

  1. Insufficient suppression or obscuration at the point of the breach.
  2. Most infantry units take too long to execute the breach once members of the engineer squad become casualties.
    - Infantry units are unfamiliar with the battle drill

  1. Provide suppressive fire from a base of fire position.
  2. Provide close-in security at the breach point.
  3. Use smoke to obscure the breach point.
  4. Train on providing infantry support to the engineers during breaching operations.
  5. Train to provide both local security for the engineers and to assume the engineer's mission if required.

TA.1 Negative Trend 5: Land Navigation

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96


PROBLEM 5-1: Most units are overly dependent upon global positioning system (GPS) for navigation and have lost map reading and terrain association skills.


PROBLEM 5-2: Although land navigation is a noted skill for most units, leaders do not use their basic map reading and terrain association skills.

  1. Leaders do not conduct a map reconnaissance to determine the best covered and concealed route.
  2. Leaders frequently rely on dead reckoning. They only use GPS to confirm their locations. They do not program waypoints into the GPS to assist in controlling movement

RESULT: When GPS breaks down or there are insufficient satellites available to triangulate a position, units become disoriented because they have not been tracking their movement on the map.

  1. Use the global positioning system (GPS) to confirm a position, not as the principle means for navigation.
    - Exception: The fire support officer (FSO) should continuously use GPS to track his position.
    - facilitates accurate calls for fire.
  2. Practice land navigation at Home Station: conduct orienteering meets and soldier skill stakes that reinforce land navigation skills.
  3. Use a poncho to cover up the GPS when checking grids at night. The back light creates a signature that can be clearly seen for several hundred meters.
  4. Program waypoints into the GPS to assist in controlling movement.

TA.1 Negative Trend 6: Actions on Contact

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96



  1. Platoons and squads are slow to react to contact.
  2. Units are slow initiating battle drills.
  3. Leaders are not quickly analyzing the situation and issuing clear and concise orders to synchronize their units' reactions.
  4. Platoons and squads rely solely on verbal communications to command and control actions on contact.

RESULT: The enemy gains the initiative on contact and maintains the initiative as they develop the situation.

PROBLEM 6-2: Elements caught in the kill zone of an ambush are not laying an effective base of fire in an attempt to break contact.

- Platoons are slow to react and often hesitate before sending an element to flank the ambushing element.

RESULT: The ambushing element has time to break contact before it is effectively engaged by the platoon.

  1. Focus platoon and squad training on basic battle drills.
  2. Work to reduce reaction time and build teamwork.
  3. Standardize combat actions.
    - Train them until elements can instinctively execute the drills to standard.
  4. Platoons and squads should rehearse the execution of basic battle drills. Focus on:
    - initial actions on contact
    - laying down an effective base of fire
    - seeking cover
  5. Leaders must be prepared to rapidly execute these drills in order to quickly flank the ambushing force.

TA.1 Negative Trend 7: Pre-Combat Inspections

Observation frequency:4QFY941-3QFY954QFY95 / 1QFY962-3QFY96


PROBLEM 7-1: Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs) are rarely conducted to standard or supervised by key leaders.

  1. PCIs typically verify accountability only, not serviceability.
  2. PCIs are not standardized nor tailored to specific missions.

RESULT: Dismounted Stinger teams frequently carry excess equipment and fall behind their supported unit.

PROBLEM 7-2: Communications equipment users do not inspect their equipment prior to deployment.

RESULTS: Missing parts, broken equipment and/or parts discovered too late.

  1. Standardized and verify PCI checklists. Include them in unit SOPs.
  2. PCIs should require:
    - complete installation of all communications systems
    - an operational test in accordance with the equipment TMs.

Table of Contents
Section I: Needs Emphasis Table of Contents
TA. 2, Fire Support

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