The following Principles are Fundamental to Direct Fire Control:
• Mass the effects of fire.
• Destroy the greatest threat first.
• Avoid target overkill.
• Employ the best weapon for the target.
• Minimize friendly exposure.
• Plan and implement fratricide avoidance measures.
• Plan for extreme limited visibility conditions.
• Develop contingencies for diminished capabilities.
1. MASS EFFECTS OF FIRE - The Infantry company must mass its direct fires to achieve decisive results. Massing entails focusing direct fires at critical points and distributing the effects. Random application of fires is unlikely to have a decisive effect. For example, concentrating the company's fires at a single target may ensure its destruction or suppression; however, that fire control option will fail to achieve the decisive effect on the remainder of the enemy formation or position.
2. DESTROY GREATEST THREAT FIRST - The order in which the Infantry company engages enemy forces is in direct relation to the danger these forces present. The threat posed by the enemy depends on his weapons, range, and positioning. Presented with multiple targets, a unit must initially concentrate direct fires to destroy the greatest threat, and then distribute fires over the remainder of the enemy force.
3. AVOID TARGET OVERKILL - Use only the amount of fire required to achieve necessary effects. Target overkill wastes ammunition and is not tactically sound. To the other extreme, the company cannot have every weapon engage a different target because the requirement to destroy the greatest threats first remains paramount.
4. EMPLOY BEST WEAPON FOR TARGET - Using the appropriate weapon for the target increases the probability of rapid enemy destruction or suppression; at the same time, it conserves ammunition. The Infantry company has many weapons with which to engage the enemy. Target type, range, and exposure are key factors in determining the weapon and ammunition that should be employed, as are weapons and ammunition availability and desired target effects. The company commander arrays his forces based on the terrain, enemy, and desired effects of all of his available direct fires.
5. MINIMIZE FRIENDLY EXPOSURE - Units increase their survivability by exposing themselves to the enemy only to the extent necessary to engage him effectively. Natural or manmade defilade provides the best cover from Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) and other large caliber direct fire munitions. Dismounted Infantry minimize their exposure by constantly seeking effective available cover, trying to engage the enemy from the flank, remaining dispersed, firing
from multiple positions, and limiting engagement times.
6. PLAN AND IMPLEMENT FRATRICIDE AVOIDANCE MEASURES - The company commander must work proactively to reduce the risk of fratricide and noncombatant casualties. He must plan and use the numerous tools to assist him in this effort: identification training for combat vehicles and aircraft, the unit's weapons safety posture, the Weapons Control Status (WCS), and recognition markings. Knowledge and employment of applicable Rules of Engagement (ROE) are the primary means of preventing noncombatant casualties.
7. PLAN FOR EXTREME LIMITED VISIBILITY CONDITIONS - At night, limited visibility fire control equipment enables the Infantry company to engage enemy forces at nearly the same ranges that are applicable during the day. However, obscurants such as dense fog, heavy rain, heavy smoke, and blowing sand can reduce the capabilities of thermal and IR equipment. The company commander develops contingencies for limited visibility conditions. Although a decrease in acquisition capabilities has little effect on area fire, point target engagements are likely to occur at decreased ranges. Firing positions, whether offensive or defensive, typically must be adjusted closer to the area or point where the commander intends to focus fires. Another alternative is the use of visual or IR illumination when there is insufficient ambient light for passive light intensification devices.
8. PLAN FOR DIMINISHED CAPABILITIES - Leaders initially develop plans based on their units’ maximum capabilities; they make backup plans for implementation in the event of casualties, weapon damage, or failure. While leaders cannot anticipate or plan for every situation, they develop plans for what they view as the most probable occurrences. Building redundancy into these plans, such as having two systems observe the same sector, is an invaluable asset when the situation (and the number of available systems) permits. Designating alternate sectors of fire and supplementary firing positions provides a means of shifting fires if adjacent elements become unable to fire.