1. Leader Responsibilities - The Infantry platoon or squad leader communicates to his subordinates "the manner, method, time to initiate, shift, mass fires, and when to disengage by using direct fire control measures." The leader should control his unit’s fires so he can direct the engagement of enemy systems to gain the greatest effect. The commander uses the factors of METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain and Weather, Troops Available, Time Available, and Civil Considerations), and reconnaissance to determine the most advantageous way to use direct fire control measures to mass the effects on the enemy and reduce fratricide from direct fire systems. He must understand the characteristics of weapon systems and available munitions (such as the danger to unprotected Soldiers when tanks fire, discarding sabot ammunition over Soldiers’ heads or near them). The primary graphic direct fire control measures are—
• Unit Boundary.
• Target Reference Point (TRP).
• Sector of Fire.
• Engagement Area (EA).
Other direct fire control measures include—
• Trigger Line.
• Maximum Engagement Line (MEL).
• Final Protective Line (FPL).
• Principle Direction of Fire (PDF).
• Priority Targets.
The noise and confusion of battle may limit the use of some of these methods. Therefore, the leader must select a method or combination of methods that will accomplish the mission. The leader should arrange to have a primary and secondary signaling method. The method may be positive (hands on) or procedural (prearranged). There are three types:
(1) Audio (Radio, Whistle, Personal Contact).
(2) Visual (Hand-and-Arm Signals, Pyrotechnics).
(3) Written (OPORD, Range Card, Sector Sketch).
2. Fire Control Process - To bring direct fires against an enemy force successfully, leaders must continuously apply the four steps of the fire control process. At the heart of this process are two critical actions intended to achieve decisive effects on the enemy: rapid, accurate target acquisition, and the massing of fires Target acquisition is the detection, identification, and location of a target in sufficient detail to permit the effective employment of the platoon’s weapons. Massing of fires focuses direct fires at critical points, then distributes the fires for optimum effect. The four steps of the fire control process follow.
(1) Identify probable enemy locations and determine the enemy scheme of maneuver.
(2) Determine where and how to mass (focus and distribute) direct fires’ effects.
(3) Orient forces to speed target acquisition.
(4) Shift direct fires to refocus or redistribute their effects.