FM 6-70 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for
M109A6 HOWITZER (PALADIN) OPERATIONS


CHAPTER 5

COMMUNICATIONS

The Paladinís ability to provide highly responsive fires weighs heavily on reliable communications. The introduction of radios onboard the howitzer and ammunition resupply vehicle equally increase the unitís responsibility for unit training and net discipline. The requirements for maintaining the communications system demands adequate planning, logistics support, and flexibility. Radio, wire, messengers, and visual and sound signals should continue to be used to complement one another.

 

5-1. BATTALION COMMUNICATIONS

The communications systems and procedures in a battalion equipped with the M109A6 do not differ significantly from those in other M109 series battalions. The basic difference is primarily one of emphasis. In a Paladin battalion, greater emphasis is placed on the use of radio systems. However, the Paladin battalion must also be prepared to use wire when necessary. FM 6-20-1, Chapter 6 outlines the radio and wire nets any cannon battalion uses as it executes its mission of providing fire support to the maneuver force.

5-2. BATTERY COMMUNICATIONS

The increased number of radios, along with a reduction in personnel and equipment available to install and service wire, requires changes in the traditional way the communications section, as well as the battery as a whole, approaches its mission. The dispersion of communications assets within the unit increases the need for mobility and map reading skills among the members of the communications section. If wire is used, especially if the battery wishes or is directed to enter the mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) system, the BC must plan and coordinate with the battalion signal officer for whatever external support is required. If a unit's MTOE does not provide for a 31U (radio repairer), the battalion SOP must address the shortage and provide a solution.

 

5-3. BATTERY RADIO NET STRUCTURE

The firing battery normally operates on three secure external radio nets. They are the battalion command net (Very High Frequency (VHF)-Frequency Modulated (FM)-voice); one of three battalion FD nets (VHF-FM-digital); and the battalion administration and logistics (admin/log) net (VHF-FM-voice). The battery also operates five secure internal radio nets -- the battery command (VHF-FM-voice); two platoon command (VHF-FM-voice); and two platoon fire

direction (FD)(VHF-FM-digital) nets. Each platoon operates on its own assigned FD net to facilitate automated command and control.

a. Radio Net Structure: Discussed below are the radio nets on which the battery operates and a description of how each net is used. Figure 5-1 illustrates the battery radio net structure, SINCGARS, and communications security (COMSEC) equipment for a battery in a Paladin battalion.

b. Battalion Communications: The battalion communications structure has not changed. See FM 6-20-1, Chapter 6.

Figure 5-1. Paladin Battalion Combat Net Radio Structure.

c. Battery Command Net (VHF-FM-Voice): This net enables battery personnel to pass operational and admin/log traffic. The battery commander may designate full time subscribers for this net.

d. Platoon Command Net (VHF-FM-Voice): This net enables platoon personnel to pass operational and admin/log traffic. Only mission essential traffic should be passed on this net. The POC operates as the NCS. Failure to practice net discipline diminishes the effectiveness of the batteryís command and control.

e. Platoon Fire Direction Net (VHF-FM-Digital): These nets enable each POC (BCS) to communicate digitally with its howitzers. As a matter of SOP, the net frequency and BCS address of the alternate POC should be provided to each CS with instructions to establish digital communications with his alternate POC if his primary POC becomes inoperative or mutual support is required. The operational POC acts as NCS in this situation. Howitzer CSs must avoid masking their radio communications with terrain features or man-made objects as they and select firing positions or make survivability moves.

Table 5-1. Paladin Battery Combat Net Radio Matrix.

 

 

 

BC

1SG

PLT

LDR

PLT

SGT

POC

HOW

CATV

GSG

BN CMD(V)

X

A

A

A

A

 

 

 

 

A

OPS FIRE(V)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

BN FD1/2/3(D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

BN A/L(V)

A

A

A

A

A

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORCE FA SURVEY(V)

A

 

 

A

A

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

BTRY CMD(V)

A

A

A

A

A

 

 

 

 

A

PLT FD(D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

PLT CMD(V)

A

A

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

5-4. PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

a. Settings and Ranges: Power output and planning ranges for SINCGARS are shown in Table 5-2.

Table 5-2. SINCGARS Power Output and Range.

 

POWER OUTPUT RANGE

 

Low (LO)

300 meters

Medium (M)

0.3 to 4 km

High (H) - Manpack

8 km (voice)

4 km (digital)

High (H) - Vehicular

8 km (voice)

8 km digital

Power Amplifier (PA)

35 km (voice)

20 km (digital)

 

b. Minimum communication power levels: The electronic warfare (EW) threat must always be taken into account. Each element of the battery must operate on the minimum power needed to communicate effectively

 

5-6. BATTERY WIRE SYSTEM

a. Wire communications: Use of wire in a Paladin battery is usually limited to those periods when a howitzer's radio communication is degraded and it must connect with another howitzer, CATV, or the POC in order to continue operating or when radio listening silence is imposed by the higher headquarters. Connecting to another howitzer or a CATV allows voice intercom communications (AN/VIS-3). Connecting to the POC provides both voice and digital communications (if two wire lines are laid). Priority in establishing communications is digital followed by voice.

b. Singular Data Link: Only one method may be used to establish the digital link over land line. This is done by connecting one end of the DR-8 wire to the howitzer digital binding post and the other end to the POC LCU wire line adapter binding post. The limitations associated with this method are the amount of available wire and the time it takes to install, maintain, and recover the wire line. Wire can not be hot looped.

 

c. Alternative communications: If radio listening silence is imposed, an alternate means of communications (such as wire, messenger and signals) must be used. Given the constraints on wire, personnel, visibility, mission, time and the requirement to maintain digital communications between the guns and the POC, the procedures below should be considered when developing the unit TSOP:

(1) Impose listening silence.

(2) If required, move howitzers to within 1/4 mile (or less) of the POC or platoon terminal board (TM-184) and use DR-8 wire lines. Paragraph d., below, discusses wire in more detail.

(3) Establish a battery wirehead as a connection point for the POCs.

(4) Establish a battalion wirehead as a connection point for the batteries.

(5) Use other available means (commercial telephone, visual signals) to facilitate communication needs.

(6) Mark lines or provide line route maps for wire repair or recovery operations, if they are used.

(7) Establish communications with adjacent units, left to right or higher to lower, as applicable.

d. Wire-link Operations: Wire outages require immediate action to minimize communications interruptions. Alternate positions should be considered in case wire emplacement distances need to be closed. FM 6-20-1, Chapter 6 and FM24-20 provides additional information on battalion-level wire communications. Other considerations for wire operations include:

(1) Use of the wire line adapter (HYX-57/TSEC) for wire line security and remoting.

(2) Wire line repair and recovery.

(3) Wire line marking.

(4) Line route maps.

(5) Reduction of wire used for other purposes (such as remoting and M8 chemical agent alarm employment).