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


CHAPTER 6

UNIT DEFENSE

The survival of the Paladin platoon is best achieved by

avoiding detection. Modern target acquisition and surveillance devices

make this task extremely difficult. However, greater the dispersion between

individual howitzers and shoot-and-scoot tactics reduces the probability

of being targeted by enemy counterfire.

6-1. INTRODUCTION

a. Establishing the Defense: The techniques and procedures employed by the Paladin unit to establish the defense are similar to those in FM 6-50. The Paladin is extremely flexible and allows for many employment options to optimize itís defense. A detailed threat and terrain analysis will dictate how commanders will employ Paladin to ensure itís survivability. Options range from great dispersion in open terrain against a high counterfire threat to close formations heavily defended in dense vegetation against a ground threat with little or no counterfire threat. Paladin tactics of dispersion and displacement with frequent movement force leaders to approach battery/platoon defense in other than conventional means. Dispersion and displacement, while traditionally viewed as a hindrance to a cohesive defense, can actually enhance a defense if terrain is effectively utilized. While C2 is complicated, the capabilities of the Paladin allow leaders to position individual howitzers to maximize the use of terrain (i.e. defile). It must be remembered that the tactical situation, guidance from higher headquarters, and consideration of the factors of METT-T dictate what specific defensive and survivability measures the unit commander will take in a particular situation. A closely grouped battery perimeter can be as effective as a well dispersed platoon defense depending upon the tactical situation. Commanders must constantly assess the survivability benefits gained through dispersion against the command and control gained by a closed position.

b. Responsibilities of Key Personnel: Leaders must create a defensive plan that is flexible enough to accommodate the movement of howitzers within a position area. Because of movement and dispersion, it is most important that the battery commander and platoon leader identify the critical elements of the defense. Leaders must convey that information to all the members of the Paladin team. Key terrain features, high speed avenues of approach, and danger areas must be known and understood to develop an effective defense. The gunnery sergeant and the platoon sergeant must develop and disseminate the plan in an efficient and expedient manner. The gunnery sergeant works with the battery commander during RSOP to initiate and develop the plan. He then sketches the plan on the firing area map/defensive diagram (See figure 6-1). When the unit arrives, the platoon sergeant and platoon leader refine the plan. The section chief executes the plan and provides feedback to the platoon sergeant. Unit SOPs and checklists are important tools in the development and execution of a strong defense. Figure 6-4 provides a comprehensive checklist for the development of an effective battery defense.

(1) Battery Commander.

(a) Responsible for the overall defense of the battery.

(b) Responsible for identifying the primary threat to the battery and possible enemy avenues of approach.

(c) Responsible for coordinating mutual supporting defense with adjacent units.

(d) Responsible for relaying any change to the tactical situation which may effect battery.

(e) Based on threat capabilities or limitations and time available, identify possible areas in unit defense to accept/assume risk in order to ensure mission accomplishment.

(f) Establish priority of work for defense.

(2) First Sergeant.

(a) Responsible for the overall execution of the battery defense.

(b) Integrates platoon defensive plans into an overall battery defensive plan and forwards to battalion.

(c) Responsible for organizing and positioning the defense for the battery trains element.

(3) Platoon Leader.

(a). Responsible for the overall defense of the platoon.

(b). Coordinates with the platoon sergeant on the defensive plan IAW

FM 6-50, Chapter 3.

(4) Platoon Sergeant. Responsible for the development of the platoon defensive plan IAW FM 6-50, Chapter 3.

(5) Gunnery Sergeant.

(a) Initiates firing area diagram/defensive diagram during RSOP.

 

(b) Identifies potential target reference points (TRPs) and enemy avenues of approach in conjunction with the battery commander.

(c) Establishes initial security of firing area as required.

(6) Section Chief.

(a) Executes the platoon defensive plan.

(b) Monitors assigned sectors.

(c) Develops section defensive plan IAW guidance/TSOPS

(7) ATC.

(a) Executes the platoon/section defensive plan.

(b) Monitors assigned sectors.

c. Defensive Concealment: The Paladin's best defense is to avoid enemy detection. The ability to rapidly position howitzers in widely dispersed and previously untenable locations is the best defense against enemy counterbattery efforts. Against an air or ground threat, concealment is the best means of avoiding detection. Firing positions should be selected that allow the howitzer sections the maximum ability to hide while continuing to operate. Tree lines, the bed or valley of a stream, and built-up areas provide excellent means of concealment. When the battle becomes static, camouflage discipline should be rigorously enforced and camouflage nets may be used to effectively conceal the unit.

d. Howitzer Relocation: The Paladin is an extremely accurate indirect fire system but is not as effective in the direct fire mode. When located by threat armor and attacked, the section chief must report, move out of the danger area, and continue the mission. The POC must be notified in accordance with (IAW) the unitís SOP. The POC forwards the necessary reports to the battalion TOC.

e. Available Defensive Weapons: The Paladin battery has a great deal of fire power to employ against attackers. A formidable defense calls for sound tactics and the proper employment of the unitís organic weapons. Defensive weapons available to the Paladin battery include direct fire by the howitzers, .50 caliber machine guns, M60 machine guns, MK 19 grenade launchers, M18-series mines, light antitank weapons and 5.56-mm rifles. Artillery fires are a key element of batteryís defensive planning. The BC coordinates his defensive plan through the battalion S3. Mutual defensive support with adjacent friendly units is coordinated face to face between the commander or NCOIC of the nearby unit.

f. SOP Responsibilities: The BC must ensure that battery SOPs address all aspects of unit operations, to include procedures for dealing with NBC attacks. SOPs should cover protective measures, immediate action, decontamination, and reporting. Guidance for the commander is in FM 3-100.

 

6-2. BATTERY AND PLATOON DEFENSE

a. Most effective defensive method: Battery and platoon level defensive operations are most effective when the ground threat is greater than the counterfire threat. Conventional battery and platoon defensive operations differ little from those described in FM 6-50, Chapter 3 and FM 6-20-1, Chapter 3. Consolidating the howitzers into a battery or platoon formation increases the unitís defensive capability against ground attack. Battery trains and POCs may be collocated with the firing elements to provide additional security particularly at night. Survivability moves are driven by the tactical situation. When Paladin is being employed against a formidable counterfire threat (i.e. frequent survivability moves), the traditional fixed defensive diagram is unsuitable. Therefore, units should implement one of three types of Paladin defenses: Clock method; TRP method; or the Static method. The recommended method is the clock method while moving and upon occupations. Vehicles are assigned sectors of fire in relation to a clock with 1200hrs as the direction of travel while moving and 1200hrs along the azimuth of fire during and after occupations. Adopting the standardized clock method provides the means to assign areas of responsibility to gun sections and facilitates rapid occupation and emplacement of security. Further, this method enhances the sectionís ability to move and quickly refocus his primary and secondary weapon systems on assigned areas of responsibility. This has been referred to as a "floating" or "flexible" defense. The clock method may be employed while moving in various formations and upon initial occupation until a suitable TRP method can be established. After the completion of occupation, the platoon senior CS/PSG/GSG executes the TRP method by replacing "clock" sectors of fire with identifiable TRP sectors of fire ensuring all sectors interlock. Static defense is an improvement on the TRP method during periods of less frequent movement (i.e.-low threat of counterfire). Sections maximize cover/concealment, improve their positions to include individual fighting positions and survivability positions. Units position LP/OPs to provide early warning and limited security. Static defense includes but is not limited to the techniques described in FM 6-50, Chapter 3. During all three methods, units designate known rally points before/during movement and when emplaced to facilitate defensive operations upon attack. Figure 6-1 depicts a generic defensive diagram. Figures 6-2 and 6-3 depict examples of a platoon defensive diagram during mated/separated operations and during overwatch operations.

 

b. Advantages: Advantages of battery and platoon operations are as follows:

(1) Wire communications reduce radio signatures in the platoon and battery area.

(2) Security within the battery is maximized.

 

(3) Available firepower for defense against ground and air attack is increased.

(4) C2, supply distribution, feeding, and sleep rotations are easier to manage in platoon and battery-level operations.

6-3. PAIRED HOWITZERS

a. Coordination: This mode enhances howitzer section defense, especially during degraded operations and hours of limited visibility. The Paladins and their FAASVs provide mutual security through interlocking fires with crew-served weapons. Paired howitzers coordinate survivability moves with each other to ensure continued mutual defense. FAASVs assist in the security of the entire position, regardless if they are used in the paired configuration or in the overwatch position.

b. Advantages: Advantages of paired howitzers over single howitzers are as follows:

(1) Firing areas are better protected against ground and air attack.

(2) The increased number of soldiers in the area lessens the psychological factors of isolation.

 

6-4. SINGLE HOWITZERS

a. Least effective defensive method: This mode of operation is least preferred. However, it is very effective when the counterfire or air threat is much greater than the ground threat. Defense against ground threat suffers, since the maximum number of crewmen available for single howitzer defense is nine. Mission and crew rest requirements make it difficult to provide observation posts (OPs) and listening posts (LPs). To effectively employ this method of operation, the section chief must possess an understanding of the commanderís guidance, be skilled in applying the defensive procedures in FM 6-50, and be capable of establishing a local defense. The dispersion and isolation of single howitzer operations place the immediate responsibility of making defensive decisions on the section chief. He must make an initial plan to displace or fight from his position and develop the plan with the platoon sergeant. The CS and the ATC work together to establish an effective defense. The ATC bears a large responsibility to defend the howitzer, particularly when the howitzer is occupying or firing. The CS and ATC must make effective use of cover and concealment. Entering a position, they must sweep and clear the immediate area, identify danger areas, avenues of approach, and an egress to an alternate position or rally point. Battery commanders must maximize coordination with adjacent and surrounding units when employing single howitzers.

 

 

b. Advantages: The advantages of single howitzer operations are discussed below.

(1) In case of enemy counterfire, the potential loss and damage may be limited to only a single howitzer/section.

(2) The smaller signature makes detection of individual howitzer difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRP #

SHELL

CHG

FZ

TI

DF

QE

RG

DESCRIPTION

GRID/ALT

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

Figure 6-1. Generic Defensive Diagram.

 

 

LEGEND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CENTER GRID 38225/49280 DATE 31 DEC, 98

AZIMUTH OF FIRE 2900 UNIT 1 ALPHA 1/141 FA

TRP #

SHELL

CHG

FZ

TI

DF

QE

RG

DESCRIPTION

GRID/ALT

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

Figure 6-2. Example Defensive Diagram Mated/Separated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CENTER GRID 38225/49280 DATE 31 DEC, 98

AZIMUTH OF FIRE 2900 UNIT 1 ALPHA 1/141 FA

TRP #

SHELL

CHG

FZ

TI

DF

QE

RG

DESCRIPTION

GRID/ALT

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

 

                 

 

Figure 6-3. Example Defensive Diagram Overwatch.

 

Battery Defense Checklist

H - HOUR ACTIONS COMPLETE

Accurate RSOP

Prepare positions/pickup point

Occupy: Lay/Safe Battery

Assign Sectors of Fire/Est. Timeline

Coordinate w/POC for HOW;UPDATE

Emplace Fighting Positions

Test/Emplace M-8 Alarms

Complete Range Cards

Assign Time Line/ Priority of Work

Complete Pos. Map/Defense Diagram

Clear Fields of Fire

Camouflage Vehicles

Hasty Fighting Positions/Rollover Pits

Mass Casualty Plan Established

Commo to All Perimeter Positions

Ammo Redistributed As Needed

Defense Diagram to Bn

Wire Staked and Buried

Sleep Plan Established

Fighting Position Improvement/Overhead Cover

PMCS Completed/2404's Turned In

Rehearse Reaction Plan, NBC Teams,

Casualty Evac., Crater Analysis Teams

Test/ Reposition NBC Equipment

Recon Route to Aid Station

All Mines (M18A1) Emplaced

Fighting Positions Completed/Camouflaged

Inspect/Preposition MOPP Gear

Update Unit on Tactical Situation as Necessary

Personal/Crew Served Weapons Cleaned

Rehearse Direct Fire/Tank Killer Teams

Technical Rehearsal of Fire Plan

Establish Rally Points

 

 

Figure 6-4. Example of Defensive Checklist.