1. Fire Patterns - Fire patterns are a threat-based measure designed to distribute the fires of a unit simultaneously among multiple, similar targets. Platoons most often use them to distribute fires across an enemy formation. Leaders designate and adjust fire patterns based on terrain and the anticipated enemy formation. The basic fire patterns are Frontal Fire, Cross Fire, and Depth Fire (Figure 2-8).
a. Frontal Fire - Leaders may initiate frontal fire when targets are arrayed in front of the unit in a lateral configuration. Weapons systems engage targets to their respective fronts. For example, the left flank weapon engages the left-most target; the right flank weapon engages the right-most target. As they destroy enemy targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation and from near to far.
b. Cross Fire - Leaders initiate cross fire when targets are arrayed laterally across the unit’s front in a manner that permits diagonal fires at the enemy’s flank, or when obstructions prevent unit weapons from firing frontally. Right flank weapons engage the left-most targets; left flank weapons engage the right-most targets. Firing diagonally across an EA provides more flank shots, increasing the chance of kills. It also reduces the possibility that friendly elements will be detected if the enemy continues to move forward. As they destroy enemy targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation.
c. Depth Fire - Leaders initiate depth fire when targets are dispersed in depth perpendicular to the unit. Center weapons engage the closest targets; flank weapons engage deeper targets. As they destroy targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation.
3. Weapons-Ready Posture - To determine the weapons-ready posture, leaders use their estimate of the situation to specify the ammunition and range for the engagement. Range selection is dependent on the anticipated engagement range. Terrain, visibility, weather, and light conditions affect range selection.
• Within the platoon, weapons-ready posture affects the types and quantities of ammunition carried by the rifle and weapons squads.
• For Infantry squads, weapons-ready posture is the selected ammunition and indexed range for individual and crew-served weapons. For example, an M203 grenadier whose likely engagement is to cover dead space at 200 meters from his position might load HEDP rounds. He will also set 200 meters on his quadrant sight for distance to the dead space. To prepare for an engagement in a wooded area where engagement ranges are extremely short, antiarmor specialists may be armed with SLM instead of CCMS.
4. Weapons Control Status - The three levels of weapons control status outline the conditions, based on target identification criteria, under which friendly elements may engage. The platoon leader sets and adjusts the weapons control status based on friendly and enemy disposition, and the clarity of the situation. In general, the higher the probability of fratricide, the more restrictive the weapons control status. The three levels are--
• Weapons Hold. Engage only if engaged or ordered to engage.
• Weapons Tight. Engage only targets that are positively identified as enemy.
• Weapons Free. Engage any targets that are not positively identified as friendly.
As an example, the platoon leader may establish the weapons control status as weapons hold when other friendly forces are passing friendly lines. Or the platoon leader may be able to set a weapons free status when he knows there are no friendly elements in the vicinity of the engagement. This permits his elements to engage targets at extended ranges even though it is difficult to distinguish targets accurately at ranges beyond 2,000 meters under battlefield conditions. The platoon leader may change the weapons control status for his elements based on situational updates. Weapons control status is extremely important for forces using combat identification systems. Establishing the weapons control status as weapons free permits leaders to engage an unknown target when they fail to get a friendly response.
5. Trigger - Triggers are an event or time-oriented criteria used to initiate planned actions to achieve surprise and inflict maximum destruction on the enemy. A designated point or points (selected along identifiable terrain) in an engagement area used to mass fires at a predetermined range (FM 1-02). Triggers can be a physical point on the ground (trigger line), a laser or lazed spot, or an action or event that causes friendly forces to do something. When using triggers to control fires, leaders ensure they have allocated them to start, shift, and cease fires. Leaders use triggers within the context of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) and the weapons control status. For example, a leader might say, WAIT UNTIL ENEMY SOLDIERS CROSS PL BLUE BEFORE ENGAGING. A trigger line is a phase line used to mass fires at a predetermined range. The trigger line can be used when attacking or defending. In the offense, the trigger line is preferably perpendicular to the friendly axis of advance and is used to initiate or cease fires when reached by the unit. If defending, the leader initiates fire as the enemy reaches the trigger line.
6. Weapons Safety Posture - The weapons safety posture is an ammunition-handling command that allows leaders to control the safety status of their weapons. Soldier adherence to and leader supervision of the weapons safety posture prevents accidental discharge of weapons. Examples include:
• Handling live ammunition and weapons in peace time training in the same safe way during combat.
• Finger off the trigger and weapon on safe.
• Hand grenades attached correctly to the ammo pouches.
• Safety zones and back blast areas enforced.
• Strict enforcement of unit weapons and ammunition-handling SOPs at all times.