Fire planning for the maneuver task force is the responsibility of the Fire Support Coordinator. The FSCOORD is normally an Artillery Officer who is experienced in artillery tactics and techniques. He must also have an excellent knowledge of the maneuver tactics and techniques of the unit which he is assigned to support. He should also have a working knowledge of the habits, quirks, and tendencies of the Task Force commander who he supports. A good Fire Support Officer needs to have a sixth sense of what the commander will do in certain situations because he will need to design a plan which supports the course of action which the commander has decided to pursue.
Once the maneuver plan of action is initiated the FSO must devise a tailor made support plan for artillery and mortar fires, close air support, and naval gunfire if it will be used. He has to integrate these assets into the scheme of maneuver in a manner which will effectively support the commanders plan.
The FSO knows exactly what type of fire support to plan to support a specific action, whether he needs to plan smoke to cover a movement, a disengagement, or an attack. He needs to be abreast of the battlefield situation so he needs to monitor the radio communications of the maneuver unit. A good FSO will sometimes execute a fire mission before the maneuver elements ask for fire because he is on top of the action and has anticipated the need. I would know when my commander needed a target suppressed or destroyed as his forces passed by and I would have artillery rounds in the air by the time that he told me to execute. Timing is critical so the FSO must have accurate intelligence and a good understanding of the commanders intent. He cant be a novice because he will have to choose the right type of ammunition to use for each particular mission. The fire support plan works in synergy with the plan of maneuver in the sense that it intensifies the action of the maneuver unit by providing violence at the right place and exact time that it is needed.
Every person has heard of the artillery preparation. The preparation is used to soften an enemy position before the attack. It seems simple enough but timing and ammunition used are critical. The FSO must know how much ammunition is on hand and the amount that he can use for this portion of the operation. He must know when to start and when to end. He must also know whether the commander intends to take the area or bypass it which will also determine the type of ammunition that he will use. He has to also time the artillery to end at the right time. The preparation must end before there is danger of artillery landing on friendly forces but it must continue until they are as close as possible to the objective.
The FSO has to coordinate with forward observers and recon elements in order to know the exact locations of enemy troops. He must also have an intimate relationship with the intelligence officer because he needs to incorporate the latest intelligence into his plan of attack. He must also have the latest information from the engineer advisor about the location of minefields and obstacles so that he can plan the appropriate fires to cover them. He must constantly update the fire plan to incorporate the latest intelligence and newly acquired targets.
Lastly he must know exactly what his forward observers are doing and where they are located. He must maintain constant communications with them and keep them updated on the fire plan in case of changes. They must know exactly what is expected of them so that they will perform as needed in the event of lost communications. I sincerely believe that this is one of the hardest jobs in the military during time of war. Military Ring Express
Military Ring Express