ST 6-50-60 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for
M109A6 HOWITZER (PALADIN) OPERATIONS


CHAPTER 5

COMMUNICATIONS

 

The ability for Paladin units to provide highly responsive fires weighs heavily on reliable communications networks. The demands are equally increased for unit training and net discipline with the introduction of radios on board the howitzer and ammunition resupply vehicles. Personnel and equipment requirements for maintaining communications systems place a premium on planning, logistic support, and flexibility. Radio, wire, visual and sound signals, and messengers should continue to be used to complement each other.

5-1. BATTALION COMMUNICATIONS

Communications systems and procedures in a battalion equipped with the M109A6 do not differ significantly from those in an M109A2/A3 battalion. The difference between the two types of unit 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 SECTION

The increased number of radios, along with 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. Wide dispersal of the radio equipment increases the need for mobility and map reading skills for communications section members. If wire is used, and especially if the battery wishes or is directed to enter the 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 should address the shortage and provide a solution.

 

 

 

 

 

5-3. BATTERY RADIO NET STRUCTURE

The Paladin firing battery is a DS battalion 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 three secure internal radio nets--the battery command (VHF-FM-voice) and two platoon fire direction (FD)(VHF-FM-digital) nets. Each platoon operates on its own assigned FD net for automated command and control of its Paladins.

a. Radio Net Structure Operation:

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 and SINCGARS and communications security (COMSEC) equipment for a battery in a Paladin battalion. The integrated communications security (ICOM) version of SINCGARS does not require separate secure devices.

b. Battalion Command Net (VHF-FM-Voice:

The battalion command (cmd) net is a secure net used for command and control and for the exchange of intelligence information, operational reports, and orders. The BC, platoon leaders, and POCs operate on this net full time. the platoon leaders and other members of the battery chain of command enter the net as required. The battalion operations and intelligence (O&I) section is the NCS for this net.

c. Battalion Fire Direction Net (VHF-FM-Digital):

The battalion FD nets (F1, F2, and F3) are secure tactical FD nets that are normally assigned one to each firing battery. The two POCs in each battery operate on these nets and communicate digitally with the battalion FDC using the BCS. This is also the net the two POCs use to transfer initialization and update data to one another on a routine basis. The company fire support headquarters, battalion fire support sections, combat observation/lazing teams (COLTs), aerial observers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), IFSAS operators, and Firefinder radar sections enter their assigned FD nets, as directed, to communicate with the POC and battalion FDC. The battalion FDC is the NCS for these nets (F1, F2, and F3).

 

d. Battalion Admin/Log Net (VHF-FM-Voice):

This net is used for coordinating all battalion administrative and logistic matters. The Paladin battery operates in the admin/log net on an as-required basis, the BC, 1SG, platoon leaders, and POCs enter the net to coordinate any necessary support. The ALOC is the NCS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

e. Battery Command Net (VHF-FM-Voice:

This net enables battery personnel to pass operational and admin/log traffic. The battery and platoon chains of command down to individual howitzer section level and both POCs operate in this net as full-time subscribers. The POC acting as the BOC is designated the NCS.

 

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

 

 

 

BC

1SG

PLT

LDR

PLT

SGT

POC

HOW

FAASV

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

X

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

f. Platoon Fire Direction Net (VHF-FM-Digital):

These nets enable each POC (BCS) to communicate digitally with its four howitzers. As a matter of SOP, the net frequency and BCS address of the alternate POC should be provided to each CS. He should have 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 section chiefs, who before the introduction of the M109A6 had no reason to be concerned about FM communications, must now carefully consider this critical link. They must avoid masking their radio communications with terrain features or man-made objects. They also must consider FM operating ranges to the POC as they make survivability moves and select firing or hide positions.

5-4. SINCGARS AND AN/VRC-12 SERIES FM COMBAT NET RADIOS

a. Comparison:

The SINCGARS is a new family of VHF-FM combat net radios designed to provide the primary means of command and control for combat, combat support, and combat service support units. Table 5-2 compares SINCGARS and the AN/VRC-12 series radios it will replace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 5-2. SINCGARS and AN/VRC-12 Series Comparison.

 

 

 

COMPONENTS

(BASIC ISSUE ITEMS)

 

 

 

NOMENCLATURE

REPLACES

RT

VEH

ADAPT

DISMOUNT

KIT(1)

POWER

AMP

NSN

LIN

Manpack AN/PRC-119

AN/PRC-25/77

1

 

 

1

 

 

5820-01-151-9915

R55628

Vehicular short-range

AN/VRC-87

AN/GRC-53/64

1

1

 

 

 

 

5820-01-151-9917

R44659

Vehicular short-range

dismount AN/VRC-88

AN/VRC-125/160

1

1

1

 

 

5820-01-151-9918

R44727

Vehicular long-range or

vehicular short-range

AN/VRC-89

AN/VRC-12/47

2

1

1

5820-01-151-9919

R44795

Vehicular long-range

AN/VRC-90

AN/VRC-43/46

1

1

 

 

1

5820-01-151-9920

R45283

Vehicular long-range or

vehicular short-range

dismount AN/VRC-91

AN/GRC-160 plus

AN/VRC-46

2

1

1

1

5820-01-151-9921

R45271

Dual vehicular long-range

AN/VRC-92

AN/VRC-45/49

2

1

 

 

2(2)

5820-01-151-9921

R45339

 

(1) Dismount kit includes manpack, antenna, battery case/

interconnecting box, and handset.

(2) Requires a power amp mount for second power amplifier.

 

Legend:

adapt = adapter NSN = national stock number

amp = amplifier pwr = power

LIN = line item number RT = receiver/transmitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-5. PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

a. Settings and Ranges:

Power output settings and planning ranges for SINCGARS are shown in Table 5-3.

Table 5-3. 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 should operate on the minimum power needed to communicate effectively. Based on anticipated distances, the radio power output levels shown in Table 5-4 probably will be used at the POC.

 

 

NET

MODE

POWER OUTPUT

Battery or Platoon

Digital

Medium or High (*)

Battery Command

Voice

Medium or High (*)

Battalion FD

Digital

High or PA

Battalion Command

Voice

High or PA

Table 5-4. Radio Power Output.

 

5-6. BATTERY WIRE SYSTEM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a. Wired 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, FAASV, or the POC in order to continue operating or when radio listening silence is imposed by higher headquarters. Connecting to another howitzer or an FAASV allows voice intercom communications (AN/VIC-1). Connecting to the POC allows both voice and digital communications (if two wire lines are laid). Priority is given to establishing digital communications, followed by voice. The AN/VIC-1 is designed to pass voice communications only. In normal operations, wire is not laid between battalion and battery.

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 AFCS binding post and the other end to the POC BCS 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.

c. Alternative communications:

If radio listening silence is imposed, alternate means of communications (such as wire, messenger and signals) should be used. Given the constraints on wire, personnel, mission, and time and the requirement to maintain digital communications between the guns and the POC, the procedures below should be included in the unit SOP.

(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, improve them as time permits.

(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 gives additional information on battalion-level wire communications. FM 24-20 gives additional guidance. Other considerations for wire operations include the following:

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

- Wire line repair and recovery.

- Wire line marking.

- Line route maps.

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