The Four Steps of the Fire-Control Process:
• Identify probable enemy locations and determine the enemy scheme of maneuver.
• Determine where and how to mass (focus and distribute) fire effects.
• Orient forces to speed target acquisition.
• Shift fires to refocus or redistribute their effects.
1. IDENTIFY PROBABLE ENEMY LOCATIONS AND DETERMINE ENEMY SCHEME OF MANEUVER - The Infantry company commander plans and executes direct fires based on his analysis of the factors of METT-TC. In particular, his analysis of the terrain and the enemy force are essential and aid him in visualizing how the enemy will attack or defend a particular piece of terrain. A defending enemy's defensive position or an attacking enemy's support position is normally driven by terrain. Typically, there are limited points on a piece of terrain that provide both good fields of fire and adequate cover for a defender. Similarly, an attacking enemy will have only a limited selection of avenues of approach that provide adequate cover and concealment. The company commander's understanding of the impact of a specific piece of terrain on maneuver assist him in identifying probable enemy locations and likely avenues of approach both before and during the fight. Figure 9-1, shows the commander's analysis of enemy locations and scheme of maneuver. He uses any or all of the following products or techniques in developing and updating the analysis. • A Situation Template (SITEMP) provided by the battalion.
• A Spot Report (SPOTREP) or contact report on enemy locations and activities.
• Reconnaissance of the area of operations.
2. DETERMINE WHERE AND HOW TO MASS FIRES - To achieve decisive effects, the Infantry company masses direct fires. Effective massing requires the company commander both to focus the fires of subordinate elements and to distribute the effects of those fires. Based on his analysis and his concept of the operation, the company commander identifies points where he wants to or must focus the company's direct fires. Most often, he has identified these locations as probable enemy positions or points along likely enemy avenues of approach where the company can mass direct fires. Because the platoons may not initially be oriented on the point where the commander wants to mass direct fires, he may issue a fire command to focus the fires. At the same time, the company commander must use direct fire control measures to distribute the direct fires of his subordinate elements effectively, fires that are now focused on the same point. Figure 9-2 shows how the commander masses fires against the enemy.
3. ORIENT FORCES TO SPEED TARGET ACQUISITION - To engage the enemy with direct fires effectively, the Infantry company must rapidly and accurately acquire enemy elements. Orienting the company on probable enemy locations and on likely enemy avenues of approach will speed target acquisition. Conversely, failure to orient the company slows acquisition, which greatly increases the chance that enemy forces can engage first. The clock direction orientation method, which is prescribed in most unit SOPs, is good for achieving all-round security, but it does not ensure that friendly forces are most effectively oriented to detect the enemy. To achieve this critical orientation, the commander typically designates TRPs on a recognizable permanent feature on or near a probable enemy location or avenues of approach and orients his platoons using directions of fire or sectors of fire. Figure 9-3, shows how the company commander orients the company for quick, effective acquisition of the enemy force.
4. SHIFT FIRES TO REFOCUS AND REDISTRIBUTE - As the engagement proceeds, leaders shift direct fires to refocus and redistribute the effects based on evolving friendly and enemy information. Figure 9-4 provides an example of shifting to refocus and redistribute fires. The Infantry company commander and his subordinate leaders apply the same techniques and considerations that they used earlier to focus and distribute fires, including fire control measures.
A variety of situations dictate shifting of fires, including:
• Appearance of an enemy force posing a greater threat than the one currently being engaged.
• Extensive destruction of the enemy force being engaged, creating the possibility of target overkill.
• Destruction of friendly elements that are engaging the enemy force.
• Change in the ammunition status of friendly elements that are engaging the enemy force.
• Maneuver of enemy or friendly forces resulting in terrain masking.
• Increased fratricide risk as a maneuvering friendly element closes with the enemy force being engaged.