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Indirect Fire

Indirect fire weapons include artillery units equipped with either field guns (howitzers), or heavy mortars. Artillery is that part of an army that controls the bigger, long range weapons, formerly referred to as cannons. In battle, the artillery's role is to provide fire support for the infantry, cavalry, armor and other units. The projectile, rocket, missile, and bomb are the weapons of indirect-fire systems. Indirect fire can cause casualties to troops, inhibit mobility, suppress or neutralize weapon systems, damage equipment and installations, and demoralize the enemy. Historically, more combat deaths have been caused by indirect fire weapons than by any other means, hence the designation of artillery as the King of Battle. Most casualties to troops in an indirect-fire attack are caused by the initial rounds. Best results are achieved by a short engagement at a high rate from as many weapons as possible.

Effects of Fire. A commander will decide what effect fire support must have on a particular target. There are three types of fire: destruction, neutralization, and suppression.

Destruction. Destruction puts a target out of action permanently. Direct hits with high-explosive (HE) or concrete-piercing (CP) shells are required to destroy hard materiel targets. Usually, destruction requires large expenditures of ammunition and is not considered economical, except for nuclear weapons.

Neutralization. Neutralization knocks a target out of action temporarily. It can be achieved by use of any type of shell-fuze combination suitable for attacking a particular type of target. Neutralization does not require an extensive expenditure of ammunition and is the most practical type of mission. Most missions are neutralization fire.

Suppression. Suppression of a target limits the ability of the enemy Personnel in the target area to perform their jobs. Firing HE/VT or smoke creates apprehension and confuses the enemy. The effect of suppressive fires usually lasts only as long as the fires are continued. Suppression requires a low expenditure of ammunition; however, since its effects are not lasting, it is unsuitable for most targets.

Categories of Indirect Fire. Indirect fires are divided into two basic categories: observed and unobserved.

Observed fire. Observed fire is fire for which the points of impact or burst can be controlled by an observer. Seldom will there be enough indirect-fire units or ammunition available to meet all the demands for indirect-fire support. By ensuring fire is observed when accuracy cannot be guaranteed, the most effective and economical use of indirect-fire weapons is attained. Observed fire will result in target damage assessment (TDA) reports.

Unobserved fire. Unobserved fire is fire for which the points of impact or burst are not observed. It involves predicting where targets are, or will be, and placing fire on them. Use of unobserved fire requires follow-up activity to assess effectiveness.

Nonlethal Attack Systems and Munitions

Smoke, illumination, and offensive electronic warfare can exploit, disrupt, and deceive the enemy. Jammers can affect the command and control system, radars, and navigational aids by causing the enemy to receive false information. This degrades the overall effectiveness of the enemy system.

The term "danger close" is included in the call for fire when there are friendly troops or positions within a prescribed distance of the target, specifically 600 meters for artillery or mortars and 750 meters for naval gunfire. This is simply a warning and not a restriction to both the maneuver commander and the fire direction center to take proper precautions. Minimum safe distance (MSD) is defined as the distance in meters from the intended center of impact at which a specific degree of risk and vulnerability will not be exceeded with a 99% assurance. MSDs allow for the maximum use of indirect fire while ensuring the safety of friendly troops. MSD's and not "danger close" distances should be used when in close contact or as a planning figure when echeloning fires. Minimum safe distances are computed by adding the maximum pattern radius plus three circular error probable. The 1,2,3,4,5 "rule of thumb" is a good guide. This translates to:

100 meters - M203 & 40mm

200 meters- 60mm mortars

300 meters - 81mm

400 meters - 105 mm

500 meters - 155 mm/naval gunfire

Nothing contained in MSDs precludes the furnishing of close fire support to maneuver combat elements. The supported maneuver commander submitting the fire request is responsible for the decision to call for fires when those fires are less than minimum safe distances to friendly positions. The warning "danger close" is given by the requester to indicate friendly troops are within danger close distances to the target. A recommended techniques is to initiate fires at MSDs and to then "creep" fires onto the target.

Modified Minimum Safe Distance Table (FM 6-141-1)

                                                                                 
                             Range (Meters) Observer-Adjusted Delivery           
Weapon Technique                                                                 

       1,000  2,000  4,000  6,000  8,000   10,000  12,000  14,000  16,000  18,000   20,000 

60mm   260    260                                                                          
mortar                                                                                     

81mm   330    330    322                                                                   
mortar                                                                                     

4.2-in        350    360                                                                   
ch                                                                                         
mortar                                                                                     

105mm                340    340    350     360     380     400                             
howtiz                                                                                     
er                                                                                         

155mm                430    440    450     460     470     530     600     680             
howitz                                                                                     
er                                                                                         


Ascendancy of Fires

The Ascendancy of Fires is a concept that describes the combined results of the improving ability to "see the battlefield", while simultaneously attacking at depth with precision lethality. The Ascendency of Fires describes a potential trend where land warfare is becoming more like sea and air warfare, i.e. forces will fight at increasingly greater ranges in "demassed formations." In this setting, combat elements conducting superior information operations and employing state-of-the-art smart/brilliant munitions, robotic vehicles, and swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles, can conceivably shape the battlefield and conduct decisive operations, possibly without coming in visual contact of each other. This would produce a dispersed combat situation where small, powerful, highly mobile tactical units employing precision fires, fight almost independently over incredibly large distances. The national mandate to win quickly with minimum casualties remains the driving factor in the emerging Ascendancy of Fires.

Organization

The Field Artillery team consists of four major elements, each playing a distinctive and critical role.
The Fire Support Team (FIST) FIST works at company level in armor, infantry, and cavalry units and is responsible for developing the fire support plan to support and protect his unit. The FIST uses laser technology as well as the Mark I eyeball to acquire targets, uses advanced radios to call for artillery fire, and adjust that fire onto the target. Manned by Field Artillery officers and soldiers , the Fire Support Team is the front end of Field Artillery's devastating fires.

Target Acquisition The radar platoon is responsible for acquiring deep targets and protecting the force by employing sophisticated target acquisition systems such as radars. The radar sections are the eyes that acquire enemy field artilllery rocket and cannon fire and transmit the coordinates to friendly units for immediate suppressive fires.

The Fire Direction Center (FDC) is the brain of the Field Artillery team. Using a variety of digital computer and communications systems, the FDC is a team that translates the FIST's call for artillery fire into information that can be used by the guns to place "Steel on target" within seconds after receiving the call for fire. Te Fire Direction Centers are the hubs that focus all of the Field Artillery's many assets on the enemy.

The Firing Battery The howitzers, cannons, and rocket/missile launchers are the the machines that deliver 'Steel On Target'. All other elements of the FA team; the FIST, target acquisition, and FDC serve to enable the firing units to deliver devastating Field Artillery fires at the right time and place on the battlefield.
       UNIT                   LOCATION           WEAPON SYSTEMS



       1ST IN DIVARTY          FT. RILEY, KS      155SP
       1ST AR DIVARTY          BAUMHOLDER, GE     155SP, MLRS
       1ST CAV DIVARTY         FT. HOOD, TX       155SP
       2D AR DIVARTY           FT. HOOD, TX       155SP
       2D IN DIVARTY           KOREA              155SP, MLRS
       3D IN DIVARTY           BAMBERG, GE        155SP, MLRS
       4TH IN DIVARTY          FT. CARSON, CO     155SP
       10TH MTN DIVARTY        FT. DRUM, NY       105T
       17TH FA BDE             FT. SILL, OK       155SP, MLRS
       18TH FA BDE             FT. BRAGG, NC      155T, MLRS
       24TH IN DIVARTY         FT. STEWART, GA    155SP Paladin
       25TH IN DIVARTY         HAWAII             105T, 155T
       41ST FA BDE             BABENHAUSEN, GE    MLRS
       42D FA BDE              FT. POLK, LA       155SP
       75TH FA BDE             FT. SILL, OK       155SP, 8", MLRS
       82D ABN DIVARTY         FT. BRAGG, NC      105T
       101ST AA DIVARTY        FT. CAMPBELL, KY   105T
       210TH FA BDE            FT. LEWIS, WA      155T
       212TH FA BDE            FT. SILL, OK       155SP, 8", MLRS
       214TH FA BDE            FT. SILL, OK       155SP, MLRS
       5-11 FA BN              FT. RICHARDSON, AK 105T 
       4-41 FA BN              FT. BENNING, GA    155SP
       A/1-77 FA BTRY          FT. KNOX, KY       155SP
       D/319 FA BTRY           VICENZA, ITALY     105T


Roles

The field artillery system provides close support to maneuver forces, counterfire, and interdiction as required. These fires neutralize, canalize, or destroy enemy attack formations or defenses; obscure the enemy's vision or otherwise inhibit his ability to acquire and attack friendly targets; and destroy targets deep in the enemy rear with long-range rocket or missile fires. Field artillery support can range from conventional fires in a company zone to massive nuclear and chemical fires across a corps front.

Close Support Fires. These fires are used to engage enemy troops, weapons, or positions that are threatening or can threaten the force in either the attack or the defense. They allow the commander to rapidly multiply combat power effects and shift fires quickly about the battlefield. Close support expands battlefield depth, erodes enemy forces, and inflicts damage well beyond direct-fire ranges.

Counterfires. Counterfires are used to attack enemy indirect-fire systems, to include mortar, artillery, air defense, missile, and rocket systems. Observation posts and field artillery command and control facilities are also counterfire targets. Counterfire allows freedom of action to supported maneuver forces and is provided by mortars, cannons, guns, and aircraft. Within the field artillery, counterfire is normally the primary responsibility of general support (GS) and general support reinforcing (GSR) units. However, it may be fired by any unit.

Interdiction Fires. These fires are used to disrupt, delay, and destroy enemy forces that, because of range limitations or intervening terrain, cannot fire their primary weapon systems on friendly forces. Targets include first-echelon forces not participating in the direct battle and follow-on echelons. Interdiction fires create 'windows" for friendly unit offensive maneuver.

Mortars, Field Artillery and Naval Gunfire are not be the primary asset to support forces in a military operations in urban terrain [MOUT] environment. Indirect fires are simply not accurate enough to provide the close-in fires needed to accomplish the majority of the missions required of the maneuver. Mortars require additional planning considerations such as ammunition resupply, constructing a stable platform, maneuverability, and security. Electrical interference and structural steel found in urban environments may effect the use of the aiming circle and communications. Mortars are usually most effective when used in a blocking position or placed in an area where it can take full advantage of its high angle of fire and steep rate of fall, allowing it to impact behind buildings and other tall structures.

If collateral damage and the death of civilian non-combatants is not an issue, then Field Artillery and Naval Gunfire should be employed to their maximum lethality prior to friendly forces entering the MOUT environment. Field Artillery can be very effective when used to deliver laser guided munitions against known enemy fortifications, delay or concrete piercing fuzes also can provide excellent penetration of reinforced structures, fuze time can be adjusted and used against personnel in the streets or on rooftops. Variable time and proximity fuze should be avoided because high structures may cause the round to detonate prematurely. Naval Gunfire can be devastating when attacking targets on a waterway or coastline, the ships' mobility and high muzzle velocity (flat trajectory) make it an excellent FS platform for this situation. Naval Gunfire can also be used similarly to FA in providing fire support against a counter-attacking force.

WEAPONS AND MUNITIONS The Artillery continues to increase the accuracy, lethality and range of its projectiles and missiles. The move towards smart munitions that attack specified targets instead of exploding nearby supports the Army's vision for the 21st Century. The need for mass quantities of iron rounds significantly decreases with more lethal, more accurate munitions. The artillery leads the Army in this field with cannon SADARM and the ATACMS family of missiles. These munitions diminish the need for large fleets of ships and aircraft to supply vast ammunition dumps in theater. This creates room on carriers for other vital equipment that previously waited for transportation. Artillery weapon systems continue to improve in conjunction with the new munitions. MLRS is a prime example of this improvement. The basic launcher gained international attention during the Gulf War. The artillery sought improvements in MLRS to increase response time and to accept the ATACMS family of missiles. The artillery continues to test the MLRS concept in a truck mounted version (HIMARS) for the light divisions.

SYSTEMS

FS ROLES

NEAR-TERM FY97-99

MID-TERM FY00-03

FAR-TERM FY04-14

REMARKS

CS

CF

INT

M26

 

X

X

FIELDED

FIELDED

REPLACED

SHELF-LIFE EXPIRES

ER-MLRS

 

X

X

GREEN

GREEN

REPLACED

 

ERG-MLRS

 

X

X

FUNDED

GREEN

GREEN

 

MSTAR

 

X

X

UNFUNDED

UNDER FUNDED

AMBER

UNDER FUNDED

ATACMs BLKI

 

X

X

GREEN

GREEN

GREEN

NEED INCREASED RANGE

ATACMs BLKIA

 

X

X

AMBER

GREEN

GREEN

RANGE 70-300K

ATACMs BLK IB

 

X

X

FUNDED

GREEN

GREEN

INCREASED RANGE

ATACMs BLKII/BAT

 

X

X

FUNDED

GREEN

GREEN

RANGE 140K

ATACMs BLKIIA /BAT P3I

 

X

X

FUNDED

FUNDED

GREEN

RANGE 300K

HIMARS

 

X

X

UNFUNDED

UNFUNDED

AMBER

ESSENTIAL FOR LIGHT UNIT GS

M270A1

 

X

X

FUNDED

AMBER

GREEN

INSUFFICIENT QUANTITIES UNTIL FAR TERM

M119A1

X

 

 

AMBER

AMBER

RED

SERVICE LIFE ENDS 2008

M198

X

X

 

AMBER

AMBER

RED

SVC LIFE ENDS 2008, REPLACED BY LTWT 155mm

LT WT 155mm

X

X

 

FUNDED

FUNDED

GREEN

FUE 2005

M109A2-5

X

X

 

AMBER

AMBER

AMBER

AGING CHASSIS, LIMITED MOBILITY, & RANGE

PALADIN

X

X

 

GREEN

GREEN

AMBER

FINAL FEFIT OF M109 SERIES

CRUSADER

X

X

X

FUNDED

FUNDED

GREEN

SP HOWITZER FOR ARMY XXI & ARMY AFTER NEXT

SADARM

X

X

 

FUNDED

FUNDED

GREEN

SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FAR TERM

SADARM P3I

X

X

X

FUNDED

AMBER

GREEN

SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FAR TERM

M795 155mm PROJ

X

X

 

FUNDED

GREEN

GREEN

IMPROVED HIGH EXPLOSIVE


Sources and Resources



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