INDEX

CHAPTER FOUR - PREPARING FOR FIGHTING WITH FIRES


TOPIC

AFATDS.

.....AFATDS Data Distribution.

.....Distribution Lists.

.....Distribution Criteria.

.....Filtering Guidance.

.....Screening Guidance.

.....Target and Mission Values.

.....Mission Value Determination.

.....Fire Support Coordination.

.....Attack Analysis.

.....AFATDS Database Plans.

.....Battlefield Geometry.

.....Fire Support Planning.

.....Conclusion.

Rehearsals.

.....Principles of Rehearsals.

.....Artillery Battalion Rehearsals.

.....Levels of Digital Rehearsals.

.....The Integrated Brigade Technical and Tactical Fire Support/FA Rehearsal. 

.....Rehearsal Challenges.



   

CHAPTER FOUR

PREPARING FOR FIGHTING WITH FIRES

PREPARING FOR FIGHTING WITH FIRES

  • AFATDS Operations
  • Rehearsals

  • AFATDS

    The key to preparing to fight with fires in Task Force XXI is transforming the commander's guidance into a digital data base that will support that guidance during execution. AFATDS is the new fire support C2 system that represents a quantum leap in capabilities from TACFIRE C2 systems. AFATDS uses detailed attack criteria and target guidance to manage target information, prioritize and process missions, and recommend engagement solutions. It also provides sophisticated decision aids to fully automate fire mission processing. For example, it automatically prioritizes multiple missions to ensure that the most important missions are processed first; not first in... first out as with TACFIRE. It checks incoming fire missions against fire support coordination measures (FSCMs)and sectors/zones. If a violation occurs, AFATDS notifies the operator and electronically requests clearance from the unit that established the control measure. It also has the capability of deciding which targets should be engaged by fire support assets and recommends denying those targets that do not meet the commander's intent (engagement criteria).

    Based on commander's guidance for 96 different target types, AFATDS recommends engagement solutions for targets. FSOs can encode their commander's guidance to cause the computer to automatically decide which fire support asset to use to engage the target, what shell /fuze combination is most appropriate, and what volume of fire is necessary to achieve the effects desired on the target. AFATDS considers mortars, field artillery, close air support (CAS), IEW, and naval gunfire (NGF) as possible engagement solutions . AFATDS permits the commander to eliminate the traditional multiple layers of fire support coordination. He can specify which missions stop for review/coordination (human intervention) at intermediate fire support nodes, and which missions will automatically process through the fire support system; routed directly to the firing unit for rapid response. He also has the flexibility to digitally link an observer to any combination of fire support assets available to him.

    AFATDS Data Distribution

    Data distribution is the mechanism by which AFATDS ensures information is the same between many different OPFACs. This allows units which process fire missions to have correct data about subordinate units and allows CONOPs backup units to have necessary data if they need to go into a CONOPs mode. Data distribution with AFATDS V1 applies to unit data and geometry. AFATDS provides a means of establishing distribution lists with as many subscribers as desired. Using these list, the operator can set up certain information to be automatically transmitted when and where he desires.

    The two major components of data distribution are distribution lists and distribution criteria.

    Distribution Lists

    A group of units which you can select to transmit information. When sending information about units, geometry, etc. either a destination unit or a destination distribution list can be selected. AFATDS has six default distribution lists:

  • Higher HQ
  • Primary CONOPS
  • Secondary CONOPS
  • Subordinates
  • Supported Units
  • Supporting units
  • Distribution Criteria

    This allows you to specify when and if certain information is relayed to what distribution list of units. For each category, information can be automatically relayed if any change occurs, if a critical threshold percentage is reached or can be turned off so no relay of information is done.

    For all relay information, the criteria can be set for the unit the data originated from. It can be set for your own data (This unit), your command HQ's data (My higher unit), your subordinates data and other unit's data (all other units which are not you, your higher or your subordinates). The following shows information that is relayable:

    
    RELAYED INFORMATION	 INFO. NOT RELAYED 
    
    Current geometries	 Planned geometries 
    
    All friendly units	 All guidance 
    
    All enemy units		 Target lists, series, groups 
    
    MET*			 Fire plans, schedules, whole plans 
    
    

    * MET data is relayed based on MET Unit ID's entered in the Unit Information


    NOTE: Information never automatically originates from an OPFAC but instead is automatically relayed. That is, when someone sends you an information update, based on your distribution criteria you will process the data and send it to another set of OPFACs automatically. But if you change a piece of data, it will not be sent out of your OPFAC unless you choose to do so. Also, guidance is never relayed automatically but is always manually sent by the operator. This is because when guidance is received at an OPFAC, it goes into a holding area in "Situation/Received Plans/Current Guidance" to be previewed by the operator before saving or forwarding to other OPFACs.


    The maneuver commander must clearly articulate his intent for fire support through commander's guidance. Terms such as disrupt divert, delay, destroy, damage and limit should not be confused with harass, suppress, neutralize, or destroy. The former describes the effects of target attack on the enemy, while the latter describes attack criteria.

    The key to fully exploiting the capabilities AFATDS offers is understanding its guidance. Most of the AFATDS guidance for the task force commander, comes out of the brigade top down fire plan. With his FSO, the task force commander recommends refinement to the brigade guidance, and establishes AFATDS guidance for the employment of the task force mortars. Guidances will tell AFATDS which targets should be screened out, how to prioritize multiple missions, which assets to use for specific targets and how to attack these targets.

    Filtering Guidance

    Target filters tell AFATDS what targets not to attack. We must accept that fire support is not an infinite resource and be prudent about what we choose to attack. In AFATDS, these target filters include:

    
    
    
    

    Target Decay Time. Target decay time is the length of time in hours and minutes, entered into AFATDS, that describes how long a target type is suitable for engagement after it is acquired . This enables the commander, through his S2, to highlight short dwell target types, and prevent firing on targets that may have moved and are no longer valid.

    
    
    
    

    Target Duplication. The Target Duplication filter allows fire supporters to specify the separation distance (in meters), used in AFATDS, to determine if any targets or similar targets are to be considered duplicates. This prevents two different sensors or observers, from firing two separate missions on the same target. If two missions violate target duplication, AFATDS will process the first mission, and recommend denial on the second mission.

    
    
    
    

    Target Build-up Area. This guidance allows the commander to specify, within a given area, the number of targets that must be identified before it can be engaged. This is particularly useful, for example, for counterfire elements who want to focus on developing a templated enemy area before attacking it.

    Target Exclusion. Target exclusion, part of the Target Management Matrix (Figure 5) allows the commander to specify targets he does not want fire support to consider for attack. AFATDS will not consider attacking these targets.

    Target Selection Standards. The following figure shows the AFATDS Target Selection Standards (TSS)window. This is the same information normally used in a TSS Matrix and allows the commander to specify the target location error (TLE) for each target. This filter is generally set for intelligence reports not coming in as fire mission requests. It, like target decay time, has a report age to prevent firing on targets that are too old.

    Screening Guidance

    After a target clears the filters, AFATDS screens the mission to assign a mission value. This focuses the fires by ensuring the most important targets are engaged first. In AFATDS, this screening guidance includes:

    Mission Prioritization. The following figure shows the mission prioritization window used in AFATDS. AFATDS prioritizes missions by assigning each mission, a "mission value" between 0-100, based on four weighted criteria. The first is target type, which we will discuss in depth below. The second is on-call precedence. It allows the commander to decide that targets from the fire plan (stored in the on-call target list) have a higher priority than a target of opportunity. A commander may not want targets of opportunity to disrupt the execution of pre-planned, rehearsed targets in specific TAIs or engagement areas. The third criterion is who has priority of fires. Finally the last criterion for mission prioritization is Target Areas of Interest (TAIs). TAIs can be rank ordered based on priority. If a target falls within a TAI, AFATDS increases the over all mission value. These four criteria can be rank ordered 1-4, or assigned a weighted value from 0-100. Thus, each of the four sub-values can be weighted to determine the final mission value. The end result is, the right target, in the right place, being fired at the right time.

    The High Value Target List. The following figure shows the High Value Target List (HVTL) window used in AFATDS. High Value Targets (HVTs), are targets deemed important to the enemy commander for the successful accomplishment of his mission. Commanders can define the desired effects in the HVTL for each target category by specifying suppress (3%), neutralize (10%), destroy (30%) or any percentage from 0%-100%. He can also assign a weighted value from 0-100 to each target category. This is one of the target values that AFATDS uses to compute an overall "mission value." The HVTL serves as a starting point for the development of the High Payoff Target List (HPTL). In AFATDS, the HPTL is a component of the Target Management Matrix.

    The Target Management Matrix (TMM). The following figure displays the Target Management Matrix used in AFATDS. Information in the TMM is the same information normally seen on an Attack Guidance Matrix. It is used to separate High Payoff Targets (HPTs), taken from the HPTL, from Non-High Payoff Targets. HPTs are HVTs that must be successfully acquired and attacked to achieve success during friendly operations. In AFATDS, there are 96 target types organized into 13 categories (e.g., C3, Maneuver, Fire Support, ADA, etc.). Commanders can define the desired effects for each HPT type by specifying Suppress (3%), Neutralize (10%), Destroy (30%) or any percentage from 0%-100%. He can also assign a weighted value from 0-100 to each target type. For example, priority 1 targets from the HPTL may be assigned a value of 100, priority 2 targets 90, priority 3 targets 80, etc. This is a second "target value" that AFATDS uses to compute an overall "mission value.

    The commander can specify which target types will require Target Damage Assessment (TDA). He can also specify target types that should not be immediately fired upon, but rather handed off to the Intelligence and Electronics Warfare (IEW) officer for exploitation. He can specify when targets will be engaged, As Acquired (A), Immediate (I), or as Planned (P). Excluded targets are those targets that the commander wants excluded from consideration for attack by fire support assets. He can exclude targets here, by selecting and moving specific target types into the exclusion window.

    Target and Mission Values

    Target value for high payoff targets is determined by adding the value from the TMM to the highest value found in the HVTL and dividing by two. Target value for non-high payoff targets, is determined by dividing the category value from the HVTL by two. This computed "target value" is then factored with the other three criteria to determine the full "mission value.

    As a result of mission prioritization, each target is assigned a mission value. Cutoff values are established to set the minimum thresholds that targets must attain to be considered for attack by certain fire support assets. These values are assigned by the commander, to tell the AFATDS which weapon systems to consider as attack options, and which weapon systems not to consider against certain targets.

    One technique used to determine how to set these values, is to process several "dry" missions against several target types on the TMM to determine mission values for each. For example, process a mission against a notional platoon of "armor, medium" because that is the lowest weighted target type the commander wants to engage with artillery. Determine the mission value, and this becomes your cut-off value for field artillery. A request for fire that carries a lower mission value than the established cut-off value for FA, will cause the AFATDS to then consider mortars as an attack option. Conversely, Air and NGF normally have higher cut-off values

    Mission Value Determination

    The key to FSOs being able to cause AFATDS to select the right target at the right place, at the right time for attack is in understanding how to manipulate the mission prioritization window and its related fields to properly prioritize fire tasks. Manipulation of the value weights is based on decisions made by the FSO based on the maneuver commander's guidance.


    Note: Remember that Mission Prioritization can change by phase in a plan once the phase is implemented. It can also be refined and transmitted to other OPFACS to implement on order. Priority Targets (FPFs, Priority Copperhead) do not receive a Mission Value. These missions supersede all other missions regardless of calculated mission value.


    We mentioned shooting the right target first (Target Type). The first decision to be made is which Target types you want fired above all others. Ensure that these targets have an Immediate precedence in the HPT of the TMM. This will cause missions with this target type to be fired above all others, regardless of calculated mission value. Another option is simply to ensure these target types are heavily weighted in the TMM, and the Target Type has first priority in the prioritization guidance.

    Next, we want to shoot the right target at the right place (TAI). We do this by ranking TAIs second in the prioritization window behind target type. As mentioned before, you can also rank order these TAIs within the prioritization window.

    We then rank priority of fires third, and on call targets fourth. Our justification is that shooting for the right observer, is secondary to ensuring the right target is engaged at the right time and place.

    Using the figure above to illustrate this point, 3-41 Inf, as the main effort, has priority of fires in this example. During planning, the commander stated that killing the enemy in TAI #1 and TAI #2, and specifically killing armor, medium targets in those TAIs on targets AA 1001 and AA 1100 is important. 3-41 Inf attempts to fire at an infantry target at target AA 1000. At the same time, 3-66 AR attempts to engage an armor medium target in TAI # 2 at target AS1100. AS1100 will receive a higher mission value and be fired first based on the target type and location within the TAI. Priority of fires simply wasn't as important in determining what mission to fire first.

    To prioritize mission correctly we must answer the question: "What is more important, the element with priority of fires, the target type, the piece of terrain on which the target lies (TAI), or the firing of targets off of the on call target list (those in your fire support plan). These four elements can be rank ordered or given relative weights. It is recommended that FSEs use weighing for mission prioritization. The rank function can tend to be difficult to understand, as the weights associated with the ranks are not always consistent. Here are some considerations when considering what is important:

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    On-call Targets. These are the targets in which the most amount of prior coordination and thought have gone into. Thus, targets of opportunity (except "Immediate" and "Priority" targets) will not override those coming in which have already satisfied the thought process for establishing targets. We want to give primary consideration to those targets for which we have already coordinated observers and backup observers, and triggers. In the defense, these will be the targets best tied into friendly obstacles increasing the chances for higher effects. These are also the targets which have hopefully been rehearsed. The firing unit will already have this target list and be able to quickly deliver on the target.

    TAIs. Target Areas of Interest may be weighted to cause deep targets, within the primary TAIs to be considered above all else (except "Immediate" and "Priority" missions). The purpose of this priority is that the main targets for indirect fires will normally fall within a TAI (e.g. the enemy's Army Artillery Group). For these targets, deep sensors are assigned to confirm or deny the enemy template in the TAI or the enemy's action at an NAI (normally leading to attack at a TAI). It will be in these templated positions (established as a TAI) or in NAI-TAI combinations where most of the effects of indirect fires will occur. TAIs can also be used to prioritize missions based on significant pieces of terrain or locations on the battlefield (Terrain orientation).

    Priority of Fires. Priority of fires has traditionally served as one of our only methods of prioritizing critical fire tasks. It must now be considered as one of four criteria for prioritizing missions. If Force protection is critical, then the unit with priority of fires may weigh more heavily in mission prioritization. As we stated earlier, however, maybe priority of fires is not as important as shooting the right target at the right place and time, regardless of who initiates the mission.

    Target Types. High payoff targets are almost always important. However, in some cases, it may not be as important a criteria in determining mission value as where the target appears on the battlefield (TAI) and what unit that target threatens (Priority of Fires).

    Another point to make is that AFATDS uses 96 target types that make up 13 target categories. Although these are the traditional targeting methods, not all potential threat targets fit neatly into these 96 target types. Units must review these target types in light of the threat weapons they face and match them together. A forward observer needs to know that an armor light target means one thing in a "Somalia" scenario and something totally different in a Southwest Asia scenario. The Brigade FSO also needs to understand what the FO is describing as armor light. Dissemination of this information is important if we want to rely on the automated capabilities of AFATDS.

    With so many combinations and possibilities, it is important that the decision made regarding the mission prioritization window be well thought out. Unit SOP can dictate standard mission prioritization for individual elements, however, this must be an aspect of AFATDS which is constantly being evaluated to ensure that proper results are coming out of the system.

    Mission Cutoff : The value of missions should be evaluated by processing dry missions on the most important and the least important missions you expect to fire. This will give you a range of acceptable and unacceptable mission values during an operation. This information can be used to determine the level at which to set mission cutoff values for each attack system in the mission prioritization window. The purpose in mission cutoff is to exclude high priority attack assets from being considered for lower priority targets.

    Fire Support Coordination

    After AFATDS determines that a target is suitable for attack, it will review the target for coordination requirements. It automatically checks each fire mission against established FSCMs and unit boundaries (entered into AFATDS as zones of responsibility) and notifies the operator of any violations. If violations occur, the AFATDS will automatically submit a digital request for coordination to the unit that established the measure.

    AFATDS also considers operator specified System Buffer Distances around FSCMs and unit zones. These weapon buffer distances (FA, Mortar, NGF, Air) ensure that the effects area, for each the weapon system, does not violate the control measure or boundary / zone.

    Attack Analysis

    The next step AFATDS takes is to determine how to attack the target using the following guidances:

    System Preference Table. The figure below shows the System Preference Table window. This guidance tells the AFATDS to select the system the commander deems most appropriate for each target type. The systems are rank ordered 1-4 in their priority for consideration. In this example, the commander has specified that he wants AFATDS to first consider using mortars against a heavy machine gun target before it considers field artillery. For APC targets, he prefers that AFATDS consider field artillery first, if available, and then consider the mortar platoon as a second option.

    FA Preference Table. The following figure shows the FA Preference Table. Once FA is selected as the delivery system, the FA preference table is used to help the AFATDS in the battalion fire direction center (FDC), to select the best delivery unit. All firing platoons can be entered and given a precedence for each target type. When AFATDS determines who to give a mission to, it considers the FA preference table, any operator specified units, the number of missions already assigned to each firing unit (mission load), and which unit is next in line to receive a fire mission (flow control). In addition, the distance from a target may be used as a criterion in fire unit selection.

    FA Attack Methods. The figure above shows the FA Attack Methods Table. This window allows the commander to specify the shell/fuze combination and number of volleys for each target type of each target category. AFATDS will consider and use this if it provides adequate effects to cover the guidance in the TMM or HVTL. If not, AFATDS uses updated JMEMS to provide an attack option.

    Mortar, NGF, and Air Attack Methods. The Mortar, NGF, and Air Attack Methods Tables are similar to the FA attack methods.

    AFATDS Database Plans

    As you can see, the targeting guidance required in AFATDS is extensive and may change based on the unit mission, and METT-T. A commander has the ability to design targeting guidance for different missions and METT-T models and store it in the AFATDS database as a plan. This gives him tremendous flexibility to "cut & paste" guidance from any of his plans, and implement it. He can also make quick refinements to his guidance, and transmit it to other AFATDS nodes to implement.

    Battlefield Geometry

    AFATDS will support all types of battlefield geometry ( e.g. objectives, unit boundaries/zones of responsibility, routes, etc). It automatically checks each fire mission against established unit boundaries (input as an AFATDS zones of responsibility) and notifies the operator of any violations. If violations occur, the AFATDS will automatically send a request for clearance to the responsible agency in whose zone the violation occurred. If the establishing unit is not equipped with AFATDS, clearance of fires must be conducted using voice communication.

    
        
    
    

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    Fire Support Planning

    AFATDS offers the commander and his staff a number of tools to enhance fire support planning. These include:

    MUNITIONS/EFFECTS CALCULATOR

    AFATDS has a munitions and effects tool that will calculate the number of rounds required to achieve specific desired effects (expressed in %) on a target. It will also compute the effects on a target, based on the number of rounds you want to fire on it.

    TRACKS CL III, V, VII

    AFATDS has the capability to track Class III, V, and VII supply information. For example, it can track gallons of JP8, quantities of shells and fuzes by type, and numbers of howitzers authorized, on hand, and operational. With this tool, fire supporters can keep current status on all field artillery assets available.

    AUTOMATED EXECUTION MATRIX

    The FSO can create the Fire Support Execution Matrix in the AFATDS, print it, and/or transmit it to other AFATDS equipped nodes. It has a text writing function designed to allow FSOs to type their fire support plan, print it for distribution to the company FISTs, and electronically forward it back up to the brigade FSE.

    TRADITIONAL FIRE PLANNING CAPABILITIES

    In addition to the above planning tools, AFATDS also provides the traditional fire support planning capabilities to plan targets, groups, series, special munitions, etc.

    These AFATDS planning tools, coupled with improved situational awareness, and detailed target attack criteria (commander's guidance) enhance top-down fire planning.

    Conclusion

    AFATDS is capable of receiving targets from a variety of sensors, including the All Source Analysis System (ASAS). By filtering and screening potential targets for engagement, it will automate many of the functions currently performed manually by the Field Artillery Intelligence Officer (FAIO), and other staff members.

    AFATDS will provide the "automation bridge" to close the gap between "Detect" and "Deliver". As commanders and their staffs become more comfortable with manipulating the guidance in AFATDS, they will become more confident in allowing the software to take over some of the redundant processing jobs and decision making tasks which soldiers and leaders have done in the past.

    REHEARSALS

    Successful combined arms operations are characterized by agility, initiative, depth, versatility, and synchronization. Of these, one of the most difficult to achieve is synchronization. Different systems available to the commander have different capabilities, and these differing capabilities must be brought to bear to achieve the desired effect. Synchronization is the effective integration of all participants in support of the commanders plan.

    GOOD REHEARSALS = SYNCHRONIZATION

    The first question about rehearsals for combat operations is not if but when and in what detail. While rehearsals have the potential to greatly enhance battlefield success, they are often ineffective. The first step to effective rehearsals is training for them. A unit cannot afford to wait until a combat operation to decide how it will rehearse that operation.

    The following TTPs provide some insights into how to rehearse the fire portion of a plan and effectively synchronize it with the combined arms rehearsal. It also give some of the characteristics of effective rehearsals and how rehearsing can be integrated into our digital systems.

    Principles of Rehearsals

    The rehearsal will confirm/reinforce the commander's intent and, therefore, cannot be solely maneuver oriented. Prior to the start of a rehearsal, all involved must understand the desired outcome and established rehearsal standards. The best technique depends on the situation and time available. Since time is typically in short supply, units must prioritize tasks be rehearsed. Consider these principles of rehearsals:

  • Prioritize tasks/events. If the total amount of time to prepare is constrained or open-ended, commanders can prioritize rehearsal actions. For example, actions for the critical fires tasks, then movement to positions for those tasks, then preparation for movement.
  • Conduct multiechelon combined arms rehearsals. Allow enough time for subordinate elements to conduct rehearsals. Remember, small units are the main killers on the battlefield and benefit the most from full-force rehearsals. Warning orders to subordinates must be specific as possible to allow for rehearsals. For example, if the delivery of FASCAM is a critical fire support task for an upcoming operation, warning orders, with that information, to subordinate units will give them the opportunity to rehearse FASCAM firing procedures.
  • Develop a detailed SOP; determine key participants. To conduct a successful rehearsal, participants must be trained in the different techniques. Key to this is the development of a detailed SOP that answers the questions: Who is responsible for setting up the rehearsal, What levels of rehearsal are established, Who participates at which levels, What is the sequence of events for each level, What is the standard to measure effectiveness of the rehearsal, etc.
  • Tie mission orders to a purpose/intent. Mission orders are a product of the commander's intent and give subordinates tasks to accomplish without telling them how the tasks should be done. It also gives them a purpose as to why they are to conduct the task. These type orders focus on: Task and purpose, results, and absolute essentials.
  • Establish high standards and ensure they are met.
  • Provide feedback to the commander/leader. If problems are found during the rehearsal, plans must be developed at all levels to allow incorporation of these changes into mission planning.
  • Artillery Battalion Rehearsals

    There are several subordinate "plans" that contribute to the overall operation. The following are some of the plans that an artillery battalion should consider rehearsing at different echelons:

  • Fire Support Plan. This is more than a target list and schedule of fires. It includes these but also covers what are the critical fires tasks, what are the triggers for critical fires tasks, who is responsible for triggering those tasks, who is the back up, what are the planned FSCM, etc.
  • Field Artillery Support Plan (FASP). The FASP concerns the movement and action of the batteries and other battalion assets to accomplish the critical fires tasks.
  • Target Acquisition Plan.
  • Reconnaissance and Survey Plan.
  • Communication and Electronics Plan.
  • Special Situations.
  • Rehearsing key fire support actions allows participants to become familiar with the operation and to translate the fire support plan and scheme of maneuver into a visual impression. This visual impression assists them in orienting themselves to both their environment and to other units during the execution of the operation. Moreover, the repetition of critical fire tasks during the rehearsal leaves a lasting mental picture of the sequence of key actions within the operation. Rehearsals also provide a forum for subordinate units and leaders to analyze the tactical plan to ascertain its feasibility, common sense, and the adequacy of its C2 measures before it is too late. To be effectively and efficiently employed in combat, rehearsals need to become habitual in training (AFATDS sustainment training). All units at every level should routinely train and practice a variety of rehearsal techniques. Local SOPs should identify appropriate rehearsal techniques and standards for their execution.

    As leaders become more comfortable manipulating the AFATDS software for their purposes, and develop greater confidence in its decision making capabilities, technical digital rehearsals to verify the digital databases become increasingly important. (These digital rehearsals should not be confused with combined arms rehearsals the fire supporters also participate in) These data base verification rehearsals help guarantee that the AFATDS and other digital systems provide consistently predictable results. In particular, they validate such data base information as:

    They also help validate the time-space relationships of critical fire tasks, and help ensure that the FA support plan is synchronized with it.

    The time required for rehearsal varies with the complexity of the task to be rehearsed, the type of rehearsal, and the level of participation. For this reason, the emphasis on rehearsals should be at the lowest level possible, using the most thorough technique possible given the time available. Once a plan is disseminated, technical /digital rehearsals should begin at the lowest level (e.g. Platoon), and work their way up (e.g. Battalion & Brigade). This "Bottom up" approach to rehearsals will facilitate the efficient use of time at larger scale digital rehearsals.

    Levels of Digital Rehearsals

    ST 6-3, AFATDS TTPs provides an in-depth discussion on the TTPs for fire support rehearsals. The following is a brief discussion on the various levels of fire support digital rehearsals:


    Note: The rehearsals discussed below address the TTPs for conducting fire support digital rehearsals only. They should not be confused with the different levels and types of combined arms rehearsals found in other parts of his manual.


    LEVEL III

    Full-scale digital dress rehearsal either in conjunction with the Maneuver Bde dress rehearsal or completely separate from it. It involves the use of real time mounted and dismounted fire support platforms over actual or similar terrain. These rehearsals are conducted more likely in deliberate/ hasty defense or limited offensive scenarios. Some of their most significant benefits include:

  • The actual rehearsal of triggers on the ground, both for movements and for the initiation of fires by primary and back-up sensors/observers.
  • Verification of the time-space relationship between critical fire tasks and the FA movement plan to ensure units are in place to mass during critical periods. It also helps verify the maneuver terrain management plan.
  • The communications architecture itself is actually stressed. Mobile digital platforms, spread over a geographic area, present unique challenges that are difficult to replicate with static platforms, located in an assembly area.
  • The data base verification of fire support digital systems.
  • Level III rehearsals are obviously the most resource-intensive. They are the most desirable, but rarely feasible at brigade or battalion level.

    LEVEL II

    Digital rehearsal & database verification, apart from the Maneuver Bde rehearsal. It is conducted from actual fighting position areas, where "electronic movement" of units & icons in the AFATDS Situation Screen would adversely affect the current mission. This may be a partial digital rehearsal in that only actual targets, within range of friendly assets, can be rehearsed and processed between AFATDS OPFACs. Targets, outside the range of friendly assets, cannot be processed in AFATDS, even for rehearsal purposes. For these targets, their information should be verified "voice" (e.g. tgt #, grid, trigger, attack guidance, firing units, etc.).

    LEVEL I

    Full digital rehearsal, apart from the Maneuver Bde rehearsal, from some type of an Assembly Area where it's possible to "electronically move" units & icons in the AFATDS Situation Screen in order to fully rehearse the data base. You may think of it as a normal Command Post type Exercise (CPX). Movement of the icons on the AFATDS Situation Screen gives the rehearsal participants an "electronic visualization" at how the operation will unfold and how the fire support plan will be integrated. Before conducting this type rehearsal, you must be certain that it will not interfere with a "real world" mission.

    We mentioned that rehearsals should begin at the lowest echelon to facilitate the efficient use of time during larger rehearsals. These rehearsal levels can be used by any echelon.

    The Integrated Brigade Technical and Tactical Fire Support/FA Rehearsal

    AFATDS offers a unique ability to merge both the technical fire support rehearsal and the FA rehearsal. What follows is a generic walk through of what an integrated rehearsal may look like. It is not all inclusive and should be treated only as an example model. Each unit will have particular preferences and areas to emphasize during their rehearsal based on their own particular strengths and weaknesses.

    The rehearsal net must allow participants and non-participants to eavesdrop and follow the rehearsal. Regardless of the net, the Bde FSE should be the NCS and run the rehearsal. The rehearsal begins with a synoptic description of the Bde Scheme of Maneuver and supporting scheme of fires, from start to finish. This provides the conceptual framework for the more detailed rehearsing that follows.

    Next, the Bde FSE walks phase by phase through the operation. There are a number of things that must be discussed for each phase:

  • Address what initiates the Phase (Bde FSE)
  • After critical fire tasks are addressed, the DS Bn S-3 discusses FA actions to support each phase. The discussion should include:

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    Rehearsal Challenges

    As digital systems are designed to automatically disseminate more and more information, safeguards must be taken to separate the digital rehearsal from "real world" events. As an example, when you generate digital missions for the rehearsal, you don't want ATI messages, that are also automatically generated in the Bde OPFAC , passed to the Bde S-2's All Source Analysis System (ASAS). That is unless, of course, they are a conscious participant in the rehearsal and can differentiate between "real" and "rehearsed" information. They must either be informed of the rehearsal or, their communication route should be turned off for the duration of the rehearsal.

    We must be aware of the potential far reaching effects of automatic data distribution during rehearsals. In Level I & III rehearsals, AFATDS OPFACs "electronically move" their unit icons in AFATDS out of assembly areas or battle positions, into their planned battle positions to range the targets for the rehearsal. (In order to process targets in AFATDS, units must be able to range their respective targets) As these location updates are disseminated, you can imagine the reaction of the Division Main, if uninformed, as they see units moving. If conducting a Level I or III rehearsal, all AFATDS OPFACs not involved in the rehearsal should be notified.

    We must also take safeguards to prevent live rounds from being fired at rehearsal targets. And, at the same time, we must ensure we maintain a vigilant capability to react to real threats, and instantly transition out of the rehearsal if needed. Rehearsal missions must be distinctly separate from "live missions." The rehearsal should be postponed immediately when a "real world" fire mission needs to be processed. It should not resume until the "live mission" has ended.

    ST 6-3 discusses how plans can be created in AFATDS and phases created within each of those plans. There exists a difficulty in dividing plans into multiple phases in AFATDS. When it comes time to rehearse, the new phase has to be implemented at each OPFAC. Implementing a new phase in the middle of a rehearsal has tremendous potential for introducing errors in the AFATDS database. Phases within a plan should be kept to a strict minimum, and created only when necessary.

    The quality of the rehearsal will relate directly to the amount of time available and the strict adherence to the refinement cut-off time. If there are any refinements to targets or the digital data base discovered during the rehearsal, and they do not interfere with the conduct of the rehearsal, save the data and refine it immediately following the rehearsal.

    
       
    
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