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MCI 8205





Course Introduction

Scope MCI 8205, Combined Arms, is the last course you will take in the Staff
Noncommissioned Officers Advanced Distance Education Program (8200
Program). This course is designed to enhance your understanding of the
theories, methods, and assets related to combined arms.

Combined Arms covers many subjects that will enhance your ability to assist
junior Marines in their quest to be better Marine leaders. This course is
merely a starting point for what a Marine SNCO needs to know concerning
combined arms. One key to leadership is knowledge. You must be able to
answer junior Marines’ questions on weapons employment, show them how
to verify the information, and train them to become knowledgeable leaders.

Prior Reading You should already have studied examples of combined arms in the
Introduction to Warfighting Tactics (8203) course. You learned that a
combined arms team has all elements necessary for sustained combat and
noncombat operations. However, simply bringing the assets of this team to
the battlefield does not constitute the fundamental definition critical to
maneuver warfare:

Combined arms is the full integration of arms in such a

way that in order to counteract one, the enemy must make
himself vulnerable to another. We pose the enemy not just
with a problem, but also with a dilemma—a no win

Purpose This course will teach you how to fight combined-arms style. As you have
seen, the basic concept is simple, but putting it into practice takes some
study, thought, and imagination.

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MCI Course 8205 i Introduction

Course Introduction, Continued

Table of This course contains the following study units:


Study Unit Title Page

i Course Introduction i
1 Role of Fire in Modern Tactics 1-1
2 Cooperation: “putting the Bull in the Horns” 2-1
3 Indirect Fire 3-1
4 Anti-armor Assets 4-1

Estimated You will spend about 2 hours, 30 minutes completing this course.
Study Time

Reserve You will earn one retirement credit for completing this course.
Credits Note: Reserve retirement credits are not awarded for the MCI study you do
during drill periods if awarded credits for drill attendance.

MCI Course 8205 ii Introduction


Estimated 30 minutes
Study Time

Scope In your PME studies, you should have learned that a combined arms team has
all the elements necessary for sustained combat and noncombat operations.
However, simply bringing the assets of this team to the battlefield does not
constitute the fundamental definition critical to maneuver warfare.

In this chapter, you will have a clear understanding of the essential elements
that make combined arms effective and the key elements of combined arms;
fire limitations; and effects of fire, techniques, and purpose of combined

Learning After completing this chapter, you should be able to

• Identify combined arms tactics.

• Identify combined arms techniques.

• Identify the three effects of fire.

In This This chapter contains the following topics.


Topic See Page

Overview 1-1
Limitations of Fire 1-2
Combined Arms Tactics 1-4
Combined Arms Techniques 1-5
Effects of Fire 1-12
Chapter 1 Exercise 1-19
Appendix A A-1

MCI Course 8205 1-1 Chapter 1

Limitations of Fire

Limitations of Almost all Marines have witnessed impressive demonstrations of firepower

Firepower at resident schools, combined arms exercises, or even in combat. However,
most do not always remember that the limitation of firepower is generally
ineffective when used alone. The most remarkable aspect about modern
firepower is not its destructiveness but the ability of humans to counteract
their effects.

Success of Example such as microterrain, overhead cover, and fighting holes can protect
Expedients the modern infantryman from almost all types of conventional munitions.
Such simple expedients can deprive weapons of their effect. This is well
illustrated by the experience of a tiny French village of Fleury.

Fleury Scenario Fleury was located in the middle of the battlefield at Verdun during World
War I. On 22 June 1916, 26 batteries of German heavy artillery reinforced
by nine light batteries fired more than 100,000 high-explosive and poison gas
shells between the village, German lines, and French batteries supporting the

Note: Johnson, Douglas, Battlefields of the World War: Western and

Southern Fronts. A Study in Military Geography. Oxford University
Press: New York, 1921, p. 365.

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MCI Course 8205 1-2 Chapter 1

Limitations of Fire, Continued

Lessons of Because of the ferocity of the bombardment, one observer described Fleury
Fleury as one of the few towns that in the course of the war was literally pulverized
and blown off the face of the earth by long-continued, concentrated artillery
fire (ibid., p. 366). A large number of French machinegunners, sheltering in
cellars beneath the ruins of the village not only survived the bombardment
but also retained the will to fight. The Germans had to clear the cellars one
by one with hand grenades and flamethrowers before all resistance ceased in
the ruins of Fleury.

What happened in Fleury has happened repeatedly in modern history. Large

amounts of firepower were employed against defenders who were well dug-
in, succeeded in killing a few of them and wounding others. However, in
most cases, the trenches or cellars were strong enough to allow some of the
enemy to survive the bombardment and to come out fighting once it stopped.
In the words of a Marine who experienced this phenomenon first hand in
Vietnam: They may have been bleeding from the ears, but they were still
shooting at us (Pers. comm. between Capt Bruce Gudmundsson, USMCR,
and LtCol Ray Cole, USMC; June 1989).

Note: Gudmundsson, Bruce, Stormtrooper Tactics: Innovation in the

German Army, 1914–1918, Chapter 4, Praeger: New York, 1989.

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MCI Course 8205 1-3 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Tactics

Theory The phenomenon of men in battle surviving massive bombardments should

remind you of a key concept of maneuver warfare. The point of tactics is
not just to do enough damage to the enemy to cause him to retrograde but
to maneuver the enemy into an inescapable trap that forces him to act to
your advantage. The idealist theory of maneuver warfare is that when
faced with combined arms and maneuver warfare tactics, the enemy will
simply give up the fight! This worked in Desert Storm; however, Iwo Jima
and Tarawa should serve as reminders that Desert Storm was the exception,
not the rule. It does not matter how difficult a position you place your
enemy in, he may never lose his will to fight but fight until the bitter end.

Such a trap or dilemma is the key to combined arms warfare. Combined

arms is the use of two tactical actions (each of which alone is relatively less
effective) that places the enemy in a situation where he is left with no
alternative but to submit to your will. Let’s look at some common
techniques that achieve this effect.

MCI Course 8205 1-4 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques

Mutual The simplest technique to achieve combined arms tactics is mutual support.
Support Consider the case of an infantry platoon in the attack using squad rushes.
One squad rushes while the other two provide support by fire, protecting
the advancing squad. For the enemy troops to engage the on-rushing squad,
they must expose themselves to the covering fire of the other two squads.
If they remain “hunkered” down, they are protected from the supporting fire
but will be overwhelmed by the advancing Marines.

An even simpler example would be the use of hand grenades or M203s to

cover dead space. To return fire, he must face the incoming direct fire. Yet
if he remains in his protected position, he is vulnerable to indirect fire.
When a foe chooses to counter one action, he exposes himself to another.

Example The effective nature of these simple examples is well illustrated by the
experience of 3rd Platoon, Company A, lst Battalion, 8th Marines, during
Operation Desert Storm:

... the 3rd Platoon was ordered to secure a building, surrounded

by a chain-link fence, located 800 meters to the east. The platoon
was mounted in assault amphibious vehicles. As they came within
300 meters of the building, Iraqi soldiers inside it opened fire with
rocket-propelled grenades. The platoon dismounted, and under the
cover of the vehicle .50-caliber machine guns, attacked through
volleys of grenades. Within 100 meters of the building, the platoon
was pinned down by automatic weapons fire. The 3d squad was
ordered to attack the building while the rest of the platoon laid
down covering fires ...As the squad entered the building, the
remaining shaken Iraqi troops f led from it, seeking escape across
the desert.

Mutual support creates a dilemma of space; any way the enemy turns, he
makes himself vulnerable to fire from the other direction.

Note: Mroczkowski, Dennis P. USMC (LtCol), Marines in the Persia Gulf,

1990-1991: With the 2nd Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert
Storm. History and Museums Division, HQMC: Washington, DC,
1993, p. 47.

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MCI Course 8205 1-5 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Fire and The classic application of combined arms tactics is the technique of fire and
Maneuver maneuver. To apply this technique, a force divides itself into two elements.
The first element is called the support by fire element, and the second element
is called the maneuver element. The support by fire element takes up a
position from which it can deliver enough fire to keep the enemy suppressed.
The maneuver element takes advantage of that suppression to move close
enough to the enemy's position to deliver a decisive blow.

Since the decisive blow almost always takes the form of some sort of fire,
whether it’s automatic rifle fire, rocket fire, or hand grenades, the technique
of fire and maneuver is really a form of mutual support. If the enemy
responds to the action of the supporting fires, either by trying to reply with
fire of its own or simply by taking cover, he exposes himself to the action of
the maneuver element. On the other hand, if the enemy tries to move into a
position from which he can counteract the fire of the maneuver element, he
makes himself vulnerable to the fire coming from the support-by-fire

Suppression Suppression fires create a dilemma of time. First used in the Russo–
Japanese War (1904–1905) and perfected during the Persian Gulf War,
suppressive fire exploits the short period of time that it takes a military unit
to switch from one activity to another. To create a dilemma using this
technique, the support-by-fire element, which historically in most cases
consisted of fire from artillery or mortars, fires on the enemy positions and
forces the enemy to take cover.

When the maneuver element closes on the enemy position, the base of fire
“lifts” its fire by either shifting it to another target or ceasing fire altogether.
Then the maneuver element assaults through the enemy’s position. The
enemy, who just moments earlier was concerned only with avoiding the fire
coming from the supporting element, now tries desperately to get into firing

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MCI Course 8205 1-6 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Timing Is U.S. forces have used suppressive fires with varying degrees of success
Everything since World War I. When the timing was right and the maneuver element
literally followed the last salvo of shells into the enemy trench, the technique
worked well1. However, when the timing was off and more than a few
seconds had passed between the lifting of fire and the break-in of the
maneuver element, the maneuver element found itself exposed to the
undivided attention of an enemy firing at point-blank range. This timing is
best exemplified by the following passage from We Were Soldiers Once...
And Young2.

The hairiest part of any operation was the air assault. We had to
time the flight and the artillery so close. When the choppers were one
minute out the last artillery rounds had to be on the way or you get
Hueys landing with shells. We always sweated because if you shut
down the artillery too soon the enemy could be up and waiting when
the choppers came in.
Notes: Wynne, G.C., If Germany Attacks, Greenwood Press:
Westport CT, 1976.
Moore, Harold G., USA (LtGen) (Ret), and Joseph L. Galloway,
We Were Solders Once…And Young. Harper Collins: New York,
1993, p. 68.

Combining Different types of fire have different effects on the enemy. For example,
Different Types direct horizontal fire; such as fire from an M-16, forces the enemy to the
of Fire ground. Plunging shells force him to take cover. By combining different
types of fire, you place the enemy on the horns of a dilemma once again.

A simple example of this technique is pinning an enemy soldier behind a

log or boulder with direct fire weapons while rolling hand grenades down
the hill at him. While the boulder may provide frontal cover against your
M-16s or M240Gs, it won’t protect the enemy soldier from the grenade if it
explodes behind him. With the variety of weapons available to small unit
leaders today, you can combine many different types of fires in an almost
unlimited number of ways.

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MCI Course 8205 1-7 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Devastating Screams, shouts, and whistles split the night as the NVA
Effects swept down the mountain, straight into the smoke-clouded killing
ground. Now all the mortars of my battalion and Tully’s were
turned loose, adding their 81 mm high explosive shells to the
general mayhem. Rifleman John Martin, who was in Diduryk’s
lines, says: ‘We kept pouring rifle and machine gunfire and
artillery on them and then they broke and ran. I don't think we
had any casualties but they were catching hell (ibid., p. 219).

Note: Moore, Harold G., USA (LtGen) (Ret), and Joseph L. Galloway,
We Were Solders Once…And Young. Harper Collins: New York,
1993, p. 219.

Fire and Fire and obstacles are used together to create a combined arms dilemma for
Obstacles the enemy in the same way as fire and maneuver. Consider, for example, a
barrier such as a combination of logs and barbed wire covered by
machinegun fire. To dismantle the barrier, the enemy must stand up or at
least expose the upper part of his body. When he does this he makes himself
vulnerable to the fire of the machineguns. If he takes cover, he cannot
dismantle the obstacle, which he must do to move forward.

Antitank Consider the example of an obstacle in the form of an antitank minefield

Minefield covered by fire from TOWs and Javelins. To avoid the mines, enemy tanks
Obstacle must move slowly and carefully and keep visibility clear. To avoid the fire of
the TOWs and Javlins, the tanks need to move rapidly and turn frequently,
while making smoke to block the antitank gunner’s vision. Whatever threat
the tanks take action against, either the mines or the antitank weapons, they
make themselves more vulnerable to the other threat.

Indirect Fire Another way of combining fire and obstacles is to use obstacles covered by
Weapons indirect-fire weapons. An excellent example was the dilemma faced by the
Obstacles 2nd Marine Division during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. U.S. intelligence
reported that Iraqi brigades to the division’s front and flanks could reach the
area of the proposed breach point with about 500 guns. Many out-ranged the
10th Marines’ M198 155mm howitzers, range of which was a little over 30
kilometers using rocket-assisted projectiles.

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MCI Course 8205 1-8 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Use of One Up to this point, all elements mentioned presented a real danger to the
Element enemy. However, there are cases when one element can exist primarily in
the enemy’s mind. An enemy force that has experienced a real minefield
once or twice will take the trouble to avoid an area it believes is mined.
Thus, in the right circumstances, a dummy minefield might be as good as a
real one.

General Hermann Balck, Germany's foremost Panzer commander in

World War II, explained how he used dummy mines effectively:

The minefields consisted of a few real mines and lots of dummy mines.
Using the dummy mines, and the otherwise useless troops from the
hospital, I was able to keep the whole defense together and to seriously
slow down Patton.

It all worked beautifully. After all, when a tank moves out and sees signs
of mines, he can't know whether they're fake or real. So he's got to stop
and get the minefield cleared, even if it has lots of dummy mines. Of
course, the dummies have to have a bit of metal in them in order to ring
the mine detectors.

It worked brilliantly. I would never have been able to slow the American
attack--and consequently our own Ardennes offensive would never have
taken place--if I had not used mines in this way.

Note: Translation of Taped Conversation with General Hermann Balck

Battelle Columbus Laboratories: Columbus Ohio, 1979, p. 11.

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MCI Course 8205 1-9 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Forms of Some forms of deception can serve to encourage the enemy to make himself
Deception vulnerable to your fire. For example, you might feign a withdrawal, leading
the enemy to assault into an ambush that you have prepared for him. You
might be able to cause the enemy to shift his reserve by making a
demonstration, then call “air” in on his reserve as it moves out in the open.

Other forms of deception make the enemy vulnerable to your maneuver. An

example of this form of deception is the artillery raids mounted by the
Marine Corps before the “G” day invasion of Kuwait. These raids were
designed as part of a deception plan aimed at confusing the Iraqis on the
position and intentions of allied forces. Anything that causes the enemy to
expose himself to your fire can create a combined arms effect. Whenever
deception can do that, it is one of the arms you are combining. Deception
itself becomes a weapon.

Massed- There are occasions where fire alone can be effective. One such occasion
Surprise Fires is massed-surprise fire. Troops caught in the open by such fires suffer
horrible casualties. Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., recorded an
extreme case of this sort of fire in his report about the effectiveness of the
then experimental variable time (VT) fuze.

. . . The other night, we caught a German battalion, which was

trying to get across the Sauer River, with a battalion concentration and
killed by actual count 702.

Note: Baldwin, Ralph B., The Deadly Fuze. Presidio Press: San Rafael,
CA, 1980, p. xxxi.

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MCI Course 8205 1-10 Chapter 1

Combined Arms Techniques, Continued

Summary This lesson covered many techniques for achieving combined arms. The
concept in each case is the same: two or more weapons or tactical actions
(including deception and surprise) make the enemy vulnerable regardless of
what he does. Whatever action he takes to counter one makes him more
vulnerable to the other.

This concept should be your guide in every tactical action. Whenever you
can achieve combined arms, you get far more effect on the enemy from
your weapons and your actions than when you simply “hit” the enemy in an
uncoordinated fashion. Your goal should always be to put the enemy on
the horns of a dilemma, not simply to give him a problem that he can solve.
Remember, in maneuver warfare you always try to achieve a decision not
just hurt the enemy. Combined arms turn your combat power into

MCI Course 8205 1-11 Chapter 1

Effects of Fire

Sufficient Although combined arms tactics are a powerful idea that is central to
Strength combined arms, just merging two arms is not sufficient. If the dilemma or
trap created is going to have a decisive effect on the enemy, all elements
must be of sufficient strength to make the trap work. Since one or both
elements are often made up of fire, you can’t have much of an idea of
whether your “trap” will work unless you know what kinds of effects to
expect from your fire. In general, fire has three effects.

• Physical
• Moral
• Tactical

These effects are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the moral effect of
the fire results from fear of its physical effects. Similarly, the tactical effect
of fire is often a result of a combination of its physical and moral effects.

Physical Effects Physical effect of fire, what your fire does to people, vehicles, buildings,
ground, and trees results from the interaction of a given projectile with its
target and the environment. Different projectiles have different physical

• A rifle bullet hitting a vehicle has a different effect from an AT-4 hitting a

• A grenade bursting on the ground among enemy infantry has a different

physical effect from a 155mm howitzer shell bursting above them.

• A shell that comes down on top of the enemy from a high angle has a very
different result from one that comes at him horizontally.

Learn Effects To employ combined arms effectively, you need to know the physical effects
of Projectiles of each type of projectile you use. You need to know what the projectile can
penetrate, what its bursting radius is, and how much damage it will do within
that radius. You should know this for each of the weapons you will use or
control. You can find this information in various technical manuals (TMs),
instructional publications (IPs), school handouts, and other various weapons-
related publications.

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MCI Course 8205 1-12 Chapter 1

Effects of Fire, Continued

Target Identity You also need to know your targets. The ability of a T-80 tank to resist your
weapons is different from that of a BMP or a truck. The ability of an enemy
soldier in the open to escape the effect of your weapons is different from that
of a soldier under cover. Various types of cover also have different effects; a
man hastily dug in has different vulnerabilities to your weapons from one
who is in carefully prepared entrenchments.

Environmental The environment also influences the physical effects of your weapons. A
Factors shell bursting in the jungle has different physical effects on enemy troops
nearby than does a shell bursting in an open area. Terrain plays a major
role in the effect of weapons. Irregular terrain makes machinegun fire much
less effective than it is in open terrain. The condition of the ground, wet or
dry, has a major effect on the results of shell fire.

In every engagement, you need to consider these influences on the effect of

weapons. What has a strong effect on the enemy in one situation may have
only a weak effect in another. You must evaluate weapons’ effect carefully
in setting up your combined arms engagement. If the effect of your weapons
is less than you expect, the enemy may not suffer decisively from your
combined arms, and you may fail in what you are trying to accomplish.

Moral Effects Moral effect, what your fire does to the enemy’s will to resist, is less
obvious but powerful. On June 30,1942, the 3rd South African Brigade,
fighting on the side of British Commonwealth forces and reinforced with a
24-gun field artillery regiment, found itself defending the El Alamein station
on the coastal railroad to Alexandria, Egypt.

The station itself had no great military value, but the land corridor
immediately south of El Alamein did. Bounded on the north by the
Mediterranean Sea and on the south by the impassable Quattara Depression,
the 40-mile wide corridor was the last place short of the Nile River itself
where the British 9th Army could make a stand."

Note: Bidwell, Shelford, Gunners at War: A Tactical Study of the Royal

Artillery. Arms and Armour: London, 1979, pp. 178-179.

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MCI Course 8205 1-13 Chapter 1

Effects of Fire, Continued

Moral Effects, The narrow corridor gave the South Africans an unexpected opportunity to
continued rectify the British “habit” of mishandling their artillery. The two sister
brigades of the El Alamein garrison (the 1st and 2nd South African
Brigades), each reinforced with a 24-gun field artillery regiment, were
located less than six miles south of the railroad station.

The standard artillery piece--the 25 pounder--had an effective range of 13,500

yards (about 7 miles). Each artillery regiment could effectively cover an arc
of 60 degrees, and the overlapping arcs created a 20 square-mile “shooting
gallery,” every point of which could be reached by the concentrated fire of 72
field guns. (To add insult to injury, the South Africans were reinforced by a
British medium artillery regiment of sixteen 4.5-inch guns, which brought the
total number of guns to 88.)

Note: ibid., pp. 178-179.

Lure and Trap On the afternoon of the 1 July 1942, the German 90th Light Division found
itself trapped in this “shooting gallery.” True to the German tradition of
Lucken and Flachen Taktik (“tactics of gaps and surfaces”), the 90th had been
probing for gaps in the South African defense with the intention of bypassing
the islands of resistance and cutting off the El Alamein garrison (W.G.F.
Jackson, pp. 252–253).

However, the veteran Panzergrenadiers failed to realize that the convergence

of 88 artillery pieces had turned the gap into a surface far deadlier than the
infantry and armored brigades whose direct fire weapons they were trying to

Note: Jackson, W.G.F., The Battle for North Africa. Mason/Charter: New
York, 1975, pp. 252-253.

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MCI Course 8205 1-14 Chapter 1

Effects of Fire, Continued

Germans British artillery shells began falling about 1600. At first the fire was
Devastated desultory, serving mainly to slow down the attacking Germans. However,
within an hour all 11 of the British and South African batteries were in
action with devastating effect.

The artillery of the 90th Light Division was paralyzed1. The infantry was
pinned down. Some German units, both infantry and supply troops, were
driven to panic2. Energetic leadership by German battle group commanders
kept the panic from turning into a rout, but nothing, not even Rommel
himself, could induce the men of the 90th Light to resume their forward
Notes: Rommel, Erwin, The Rommel Papers, Harcourt Brace and
Company: New York, 1965, p. 246.
Von Mellinthin, F.W., Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of
Armor in the Second World War. University of Oklahoma Press:
Norman, Oklahoma, 1978, p. 132.
"War Diary of the 90th Light Division. " Quoted in Barrie Pitt, The
Crucible of War: Year of Alamein 1942. Jonathan Cape: London,
1984, p. 139.

Acting on Their The South African artillerymen had little knowledge of the effect that their
Own fire was having on the unfortunate Germans. Each of the three regiments had
been acting on its own without any sort of centralized fire control. Thus,
although the battery and troop commanders acting as forward observers could
see the sooty smoke produced by the burning German trucks, they failed to
realize that their inadvertent cross fire had stopped a whole division

Note: Hamilton, John A.I. and L.C.F. Turner, Crisis in the Desert. Oxford
University Press: Capetown, 1952, p. 296.

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MCI Course 8205 1-15 Chapter 1

Effects of Fire, Continued

Moral effects The history of war is full of similar examples of the moral effect of fire. For
instance, sniper teams in Vietnam proved very effective in “destroying” the
enemy’s will to fight by presenting a constant threat. Cases range from the
South African Brigade example, where the will-to-attack of a whole division
was broken, to individual soldiers who were so affected by the enemy’s
force that they cowered on the ground, unable to move or even think.

Sometimes, the moral effect is direct; soldiers see their comrades being
killed by fire and they panic. At other times, it may be indirect. In the 1940
campaign against France, the Germans fitted sirens on their Stuka dive-
bombers. At times, the mere sound of the sirens of the diving Stukas was
enough to panic Allied units.

Consider Both You must consider both the probable moral and physical effects of fire when
Moral and you plan an action. Consider the effect of your fire on the enemy and on
Physical yourself. Consider the moral and physical effects of his fire on your own
Marines. There is no formula for doing this; it varies with such factors as
whether the unit is green or veteran, whether the men are tired or fresh, and
whether it is day or night. Here you, the leader, must exercise your own

Tactical effect The most important effect of fire is its tactical effect. If fire contributes to
the trap or if it works as one “horn” of the dilemma, it is tactically effective.
If it does not, it has no tactical effect, no matter how much ground it churns
up or how much noise it makes.

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Effects of Fire, Continued

Battle of A good example of the massive use of fire that had no tactical effect were the
Somme Allied bombardments that proceeded attacks in World War I. At the battle of
the Somme in 1916, the British fired 4,000,000 shells over a seven-day
period. It would be difficult to imagine a more massive display of firepower.
The tactical effect was zero. The Germans were not destroyed. When the
British troops went “over the top” in their attack, 60,000 were killed or
wounded on the first day alone, and the attack failed.

Pillboxes and A good example of fire used with tactical effect was the Marine technique for
Bunkers destroying Japanese pillboxes and bunkers in the Pacific campaign in World
War II. First, the Marines used smoke to suppress the Japanese in their
pillboxes or bunkers so the Marines could maneuver in close to them. Then
the Marines used flamethrowers (fire) to force the Japanese defenders away
from their firing ports so they could not see or shoot.

Finally, using the fire from the flamethrowers to neutralize the enemy, the
Marines closed with the pillbox or bunker to where they could throw satchel
charges in and kill the Japanese defenders. They effectively used combined
arms; the Japanese could not meet one threat, the satchel charge, without
making themselves vulnerable to the other, the flamethrower.

Need for All Both physical and moral effects contribute to tactical effect. If your fire has
Three neither physical nor moral effect, it is unlikely to have any tactical effect.

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Effects of Fire, Continued

Summary From his campaign in North Africa, Rommel tells of courageous Italian
antitank gunners vainly firing their guns at British tanks until the tanks
rolled over and crushed them. Unfortunately, the Italian guns could not
penetrate the British tanks; they had no physical effect.

And once the British realized this, the Italian guns also had no moral
effect. Therefore, they had no tactical effect either. The British simply
continued their attack.

To have tactical effect, your fire must have either physical or moral effect, or
both. But unless the physical and/or moral effects are used correctly, they
will not add up to tactical effect. How you use them as an element within
combined arms depends on the situation. You learn by doing. In map
problems and field exercises, you must practice calculating the probable
effects of your fire, and then see how to best use those effects. There is no
formula; there is only practice.

MCI Course 8205 1-18 Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Exercise

Directions Complete the following items. Check your answers against those listed at the
end of this chapter. If you have any questions, refer to the reference page
listed for each item.

Item 1 The use of two tactical actions that places the enemy in a situation where he is
left with no alternative, is the definition of

a. mutual support.
b. combined arms.
c. joint operations.
d. fire and maneuver.

Item 2 What is the simplest technique of combined arms tactics?

a. Mutual support
b. Fire and maneuver
c. Suppression
d. Combined assault

Item 3 What are the individual elements required to achieve fire and maneuver?

a. Support-by-fire and maneuver

b. Maneuver and mutual support
c. Support-by-fire and mutual support
d. Suppression and maneuver

Item 4 What two elements are used to create a dilemma for the enemy in the same
way as mutual support?

a. Fire and deception

b. Fire and suppression
c. Time and delay
d. Fire and obstacles

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MCI Course 8205 1-19 Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Exercise, Continued

Item 5 What are the three effects of fire?

a. Physical, moral, and tactical

b. Mutual, psychological, and tactical
c. Combined, maneuver, and destructive
d. Psychological, physical, and moral

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 1-20 Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Exercise, Continued

Answers The table below provides the answers to the exercise items. If you have any
questions, refer to the reference page listed for each item.

Item Number Answer Reference

1 b 1-4
2 a 1-5
3 a 1-6
4 d 1-8
5 a 1-12

MCI Course 8205 1-21 Chapter 1

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MCI Course 8205 1-22 Chapter 1


Articles • Draude, Thomas V. USMC (Col), Charles C. Krulak USMC (Col), Russell
E. Appleton USMC (LtCol), Duane V. USMC (Major), William S. Lind,
“Combined Arms Warfare,” Marine Corps Gazette, April 1989.

• Dearth, Rodney L. USMC (Major), “Microterrain – A Small Unit Leader’s

Ally,” Marine Corps Gazette, December 1993.

• Trainor, Bernard E., USMC (LtGen) (Ret), “The Artillery Raid

Technique,” Marine Corps Gazette, June 1992.

• Armstrong, Charles L. USMC (LtCol), “Ambushes – Still Viable as a

Combat Tactic,” Marine Corps Gazette, July 1990.

Note: All articles reproduced courtesy of Marine Corps Gazette.

MCI Course 8205 A-1 Chapter 1 Appendix A

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MCI Course 8205 A-2 Chapter 1 Appendix A

Combined Arms Warfare

by Col Thomas V. Draude, Col Charles C. Krulak,

LtCol Russell E. Appleton, Maj Duane V. Hegna, and William S. Lind

Modern warfare is combined arms destroy German infantry positions, destroyed from the air. Again, the
warfare. Many Marines pay lip the Germans used artillery more for enemy faces a dilemma.
service to this truth, but few actually suppression. They found that if their Where does the understanding and
understand what the term “combined infantry arrived at the enemy practice of combined arms warfare
arms” means. Fewer still are the trenches just as the artillery lifted, currently stand in the Marine Corps?
field exercises in which Marines the Allied infantry would often still As noted at the outset, not many Ma-
actually practice combined arms be in their bunkers, from which they rines understand what the term
operations. could not fight effectively. To avoid means. It is used loosely, to mean
What does the term, “combined the artillery, they had sought refuge anything where more than one
arms” mean? It is not merely a in the bunkers, but to fight the combat arm is employed. Because of
matter of using more than one German infantry, they had to come this imprecision in language, Marines
combat arm say, tanks and artillery. out of them. To take best advantage usually miss what the term really
Rather, it is a specific way of using of this effect of combined arms, the means, and therefore also miss the
them together. Combined arms Germans were willing to accept powerful effect of combined arms.
means using two or more different some casualties from their own artil- Combined arms practice is a ques-
combat arms in such a way that the lery, bringing their infantry in while tion of training. The Marine Air
actions the enemy must take to avoid the last of the artillery was still Ground Combat Center at Twenty-
one combat arm make him more falling. nine Palms is the principal location
vulnerable to another. In other Combined arms is the reason for combined arms training. Here,
words, combined arms puts the minefields must be covered by fire to Marines participate in what are
enemy on the horns of a dilemma. be effective. The actions the enemy called Combined Arms Exercises
From the enemy's standpoint, there is must take to avoid the mines-moving (CAXs). Unfortunately, until
no “good answer,” whatever he does, slowly in the open-make him more recently, the CAX did not reflect real
he gets hurt. This means he faces not vulnerable to the fire. The actions he combined arms warfare. It was too
only physical but also psychological must take to avoid fire-moving canned, too reflective of arcane
pressure. Combined arms helps de- covertly and rapidly-make him more techniques. It stifled initiative and
stroy the enemy mentally as well as likely to hit a mine. That is combined forward thinking.
physically. arms; the enemy faces not just a However, major and very positive
History offers some good illustra- problem, but a dilemma. changes in the CAX are now under-
tions of combined arms. Many have Why are combined arms way. A five-phase program of
read about Wellington's squares of important? Because they get far more revision has already begun. The
British infantry standing off the effect per unit of firepower-both exercise has moved beyond the
French cavalry at Waterloo. Fewer physical and psychological effect. In narrow limits of the Delta corridor.
people are aware of how some that sense, combined arms is a major After the first day, the situation is
Dutch/Belgian squares at Waterloo “force multiplier.” For example, if different in each CAX,
were chopped to pieces by the you combine artillery and air simply making it unpredictable for the unit
French using a standard 18th century by having both bombard the enemy's going through. In order to
combined arms technique. In that positions, you may get some attrition accommodate innovative maneuvers
technique, cavalry charged the from using both that one alone would by the unit, the exercise will go
infantry, forcing it to form squares. not have given you. But that attrition non-live fire if and when necessary,
The cavalry drew off a short distance is not likely to be decisive. On the for brief periods. Units may now
and horse artillery was brought up to other hand, if you use your artillery bypass strongpoints if they think it
fire into the squares. As to support an assault while the air tactically advisable. All orders after
Dutch/Belgian forces soon learned, concentrates on attacking the the first day are frag orders.
the squares were largely impervious enemy's reserves as they move up to Other improvements are also in-
to cavalry, but they were wonderful counter your attack, you get a volved. Safety requirements are
targets for artillery. combined arms effect that may be being changed, permitting firing and
The infantry were presented with a decisive. If the enemy seeks to avoid clearing by grid square so as to
dilemma: if they maintained the your air by keeping his reserves diminish the linear nature of safety
squares, they were decimated by the stationary or at least off the roads, rules and thus tactics. Commencing
artillery; if they broke their squares, you may make a breakthrough with CAX 2-89, the live fire segment
the cavalry overran them. That is because those reserves were not of the CAX has been followed by a
combined arms warfare. where they were needed. If the non-live-fire, aggressed, free-play
World War I offers another good reserves are moved forward, segment emphazing MILES
example. While the Allies, especially especially on roads, they may be (multiple integrated laser en-
the French, relied on artillery to gagement systems).

MCI Course 8205 A-3 Chapter 1 Appendix A

Draude et al., Combined Arms, continued

This permits real maneuver, similar to Finally, we need to look at the size
that practiced by Army units at the of the CAX. The battalion CAX cre-
National Training Center. (See “The ates a false impression of the role of
Enhanced Combined Arms Exercise,” the infantry battalion commander on
by LtCol Charles M. Lohman, MCG, the combined arms battlefield. By
Mar89.) dedicating a full plate of fire support,
All of these changes are moves in the assets to a battalion commander, we
right direction. They deserve and need provide him a combat capability far in
strong support. The Marine Corps must excess of what he is likely to have in
provide sufficient resources to support the “real thing.” This is not just a mat-
the new plan, especially an adequate ter of teaching him more than he needs
aggressor force (the current plan is for to know. It fails to teach him how to
an operational force of only a conduct combined arms warfare with
mechanized infantry company and a the assets he is likely to have.
tank platoon, which is insufficient). The Battalion CAXs should be scaled
control group must be manned by back- perhaps battalion special
people who understand maneuver war- operations exercises would be more
fare and can critique it with a view to productive-and replaced with brigade
maneuver and combined arms. The CAXs.
principle of combined arms must be Today, Marines are generally inef-
correctly explained and its application fective at combined arms warfare. But
rigorously critiqued. With this support, they can surely learn. USMC
there is no question that the CAX can
become a major force in moving the >Cols Draude and Krulak have both
Marine Corps toward true combined been selected for brigadier general.
arms warfare. Col Draude is attending CAPSTONE;
Three other actions are needed to Col Krulak continues in his assignment
make combined arms a reality in the to the Military Office at the White
House. LtCol Appleton is the deputy
Marine Corps. First, the term must be executive Secretary in the Office of
understood and used precisely in our Secretary of Defense. Maj Hegna is a
schools and in our doctrinal publica- military aide to President Bush. Mr.
tions. Lind, a frequent contributor to these
Second, we need to rethink our cur- pages, is the director of the Institute
rent approach to fire support coordi- for Cultural Conservatism, Free
nation. Many doctrinal techniques of Congress Research and Education
fire support coordination are essen- Foundation in Washington, DC
tially valid. Valid techniques are those
that are not overly complex or difficult
to employ and that work in a fast-
paced, fluid environment. Unfortun-
ately, our overall fire control proce-
dures have become so slow that they
make true combined arms warfare dif-
ficult or impossible.
The fact that the Marine Corps does
not yet have a useful automated fire
support coordination process in the
field is a major hindrance to combined
arms. It is not a difficult challenge.
Perhaps some day we will learn that
hanging every bell and whistle we can
think of on a good idea usually dooms
that idea to failure. What we need is a
simple, robust system that displays
real-time fire support coordination
information where and when it is

MCI Course 8205 A-4 Chapter 1 Appendix A

Microterrain-A Small Unit Leader's Ally

by Maj Rodney L. Dearth

The outcome of ground combat can easily turn on the use of terrain-on the ability of frontline
troops to use the ground to their advantage. Success goes to those who exploit it best.

Many years ago, before maneuver In trying to recognize good, usable broad daylight, and not be observed or
warfare was really in vogue, when we microterrain it's important to realize it hit by rifle fire.
spoke of terrain we were mainly con- involves much more than just small de- As an example, immediately in front
cerned with the high ground. As pressions or elevations. Microterrain of my command post is a field a few
Marines, we were told to occupy it can be as simple as a line of thick weeds hundred acres in size. It appears to be
whenever possible, take it from the ene- growing across an opening that must be pancake flat. What few trees grow there
my when he had it, never skyline our- crossed. It could be small piles of bricks are no taller than a man and have no
selves when crossing it, and never let and concrete rubble cluttering the streets concealing vegetation. The weeds and
the enemy take it from us. In fact, I of an urban area. It might be something grasses are sparse and less than knee
would say those four maxims just about as obvious as a tree filled draw, or it high in most areas. A good machinegun
sum up everything many Marines knew could be more subtle like the small crew should easily be able to establish
or cared about the military aspects of buildup of soil along a fence bordering a grazing fire across its surface, but what
terrain. plowed field. The key to selecting I find most intriguing about this field is
With the Corps' adoption of maneu- microterrain is deciding whether or not the fact that white-tailed deer frequent
ver warfare doctrine, we have become it will conceal and whether or not it will it. I have never seen one there, but I
more interested in the military aspects provide protection from direct fire as know they come and go by the
of all terrain, not just the high ground. well. Obviously, a line of thick weeds proliferation of tracks they leave.
Marines are more sensitized to the ef- may conceal, but it won't prevent the Since I have routinely observed this
fects of the different types of terrain on enemy from killing troops if he field at all hours of the day and night
our ability to fight and take advantage conducts a reconnaissance with ma- and have never seen a deer coming or
of enemy weaknesses. We are no longer chinegun and rifle fire. In some cases, going, I was curious as to how they did
concerned only with taking the high neither would a berm of earth or even a it. I couldn't for the life of me figure out
ground. This interest in terrain extends wall of sandbags. Learning these dis- how an animal as large as a deer could
down to the lowest levels of command, tinctions is why choosing good mi- get in and out of the field without my
and now we have a new kind of terrain croterrain takes practice. spotting one of them. I began to
especially for fire team leaders and Each geographical area will offer examine their tracks and soon found
squad leaders. It's called microterrain. different types of microterrain that need why I never saw their comings and
What is microterrain, you ask? As to be analyzed according to the tactical goings. On the south side of the field
defined in Chapter 3 of MCI 7304, situation. It is the "level playing field" there was a small draw, no more than 12
Combat Techniques, microterrain is available to both sides. The small unit inches deep, that originated at the edge
small folds in the terrain that can leader and individual Marine must be of the field and then meandered out
provide concealment or cover. It may be adaptable, imaginative, and able to towards the middle. It was bordered by
a simple depression in the ground only identify usable terrain in whatever somewhat thicker weeds than average
inches deep, or it may be some other locale he finds himself. and a few sagebrush plants, but not
irregularity of the terrain or vegetation. Here in west Texas where I'm stationed, enough to be noticeable unless you
It is important because the proper use of the terrain is gently rolling or flat, knew what you were looking for. I
it may allow one Marine, a fire team, a interspersed with buttes and minor ridge found that the bottom of this little draw
squad, or even a whole platoon to go lines. The vegetation is sparse and was well trampled by the deer. Ob-
around or through the enemy without consists mostly of grasses and widely viously, this was their route of ingress
being seen or hit by direct fire. scattered, stunted mesquite trees. Stand and egress. When they were in its
This may all be very obvious and ing on any significant elevation ("signif- "depths," the line of their backs was just
simple sounding, but it is not so simple icant" being defined as anything greater barely below the tops of the bordering
when you try to put it into practice. It is than 10 feet) gives one the impression grass and weeds. This coupled with
hard to recognize usable microterrain that the terrain is barren of any real their natural camouflage made them
sometimes, and our peacetime training cover and concealment. Most casual ob- extremely difficult to detect. I'm sure
does not require us to use it routinely. servers would think a horned toad the deer didn't know it, but they were
Recognition and use of microterrain is a would have difficulty moving without
skill that requires considerable practice. being detected. Yet, there are enough
Not every little ditch or hill is usable in variations of microterrain to let a
the fashion that we desire, and only ex- Marine move practically anywhere, in
perience will tell us which ones are.

MCI Course 8205 A-5 Chapter 1 Appendix A

R.L. Dearth, Microterrain, continued

instinctively using the available quizzes, a Marine must know the, These efforts are not designed to
microterrain to its best advantage. ranges and terminal effects of weapons produce Marines who are geniuses in
Now, of course, whitetails aren't like and ordnance associated with the in- the tactical use of terrain. They are
Marines, and what may be good enough fantry company as outlined in the Battle intended simply to instill an awareness
for deer could be disastrous for men in Skills Training Manual. These quizzes and an appreciation in them for the
combat. Nevertheless, a lot can be are designed to force the student to military aspects of terrain, particularly
learned about the use of microterrain by analyze terrain for its impact or microterrain.
observing the paths whitetails follow as application to various tactical situa- In today's modern world of high
they go about their daily lives. I'm sure tions. All of the map work up to this technology night observation and heat
there are many Marines who hunt deer point is done in garrison using imaging devices, as well as battlefield
who will heartily agree with me on this topographical maps from various surveillance radars and daylight optical
point. What this example demonstrates sources, not just the Defense Mapping devices, the small unit leader needs to
is that casual observation of the ground Agency (DMA), as experience has know more than ever how to use both
or a map may not reveal microterrain of shown that DMA maps are not always macroterrain and microterrain in his op-
value to Marines. Maps do not show mi- available during real world operations. erating area. If the fire team or squad
nor draws and impressions, although After the map work in garrison, we leader is to keep himself and his men
they may reveal small bends in contour apply what has been learned to our out of the beaten zone of the enemy's
lines that can lead to identifying useful practical land navigation exercises. weapons, he will also need to know ex-
microterrain. Also, observing the move- During these exercises, terrain associa- actly what effects different weapons
ments of larger animals can provide tion is emphasized and Marines will will have on a given piece of terrain.
hints. Only constant observation and often be given a problem that requires Our Marines will lack the necessary
practice will teach individual Marines them to navigate between points with- skill unless they practice analyzing,
what to look for and what is usable. I out a compass using only their map. selecting, and using microterrain on a
learned my lesson well from the deer, They may be asked to find a specific regular basis. Only in this fashion will
and now I am constantly evaluating dif- terrain feature that could be used by such terrain become their ally, instead
ferent pieces of terrain, searching for them to move from one area to another of an obstacle.
those small folds and bumps that could without being seen or shot by a notional
keep a Marine out of the enemy's sight enemy. I try to reinforce what they have >Maj Dearth is an
or line of fire. learned via the quizzes, and at the same intelligence/electronic warfare officer.
As a result of continuing observa- time, get the Marines to continually He wrote this article while commanding
tions, and strong convictions about the compare actual terrain features to what Marine Corps Detachment, Goodfellow
importance of microterrain to is depicted on their map. AFB, TX. He is currently a student at
small-unit leaders, I have instituted a • Later, back in garrison again, we the Marine Corps Command and Staff
teaching process within my unit have map exercises in the traditional College.
training program that incorporates a sense, involving notional units and
study of such terrain and a practical equipment, which must be employed
application of what is learned. The under certain tactical scenarios.
process is done in steps as follows: • Finally, we go out and do the same
thing on the ground, conducting class-
• First, I develop a set of map quizzes es that resemble tactical exercises
that build and test a Marine's basic map without troops that are used in many
reading knowledge. Each quiz has a Marine Corps schools.
variety of questions that require a
Marine to identify every kind of terrain Throughout all of this study, the
feature shown on a given map, as well Marines are drilled about various terrain
as determine distance, grid coordinates, features and their impact on the
elevations, water depth, current situation and on how those features
direction, etc. The quizzes start with could be employed to assist in mission
basic stuff and grow progressively accomplishment. Included with this is
harder. The more challenging ones in- constant instruction in the recognition
volve questions that require consider- and practical use of microterrain.
able map analysis. The quizzes are de- All of our efforts have been oriented,
signed to be done on a Marine's off as you might imagine, at the company
time and turned in later. level and below. Of course, none of the
• Next, similar map quizzes are provid- foregoing instruction requires any sig-
ed to test the Marine's ability to analyze nificant assets only the time involved,
the military aspects of terrain. To an area to train, and a few maps.
achieve success on this series of

MCI Course 8205 A-6 Chapter 1 Appendix A

The Artillery Raid Technique
by LtGen Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (Ret)
"Shoot and scoot" raids by Marine artillery served to demoralize and
weaken the numerically stronger Iraqi artillery forces before the launch of the ground war.

It is universally acknowledged that violence in the middle of a quiet night, positioning, and computer-assisted ce-
air power crippled the Iraqi army's he hoped to unnerve the Iraqis. lestial fixes were taken on the stars to
ability to resist in the days leading up to Air attacks against Iraqis who at- ensure l0-meter accuracy of both the
the ground offensive in Operation tempted to fire artillery at the Marines locations of the firing batteries and their
DESERT STORM. But plain old in return was designed to convince the target.
artillery also played an important role. Iraqis that, manning their guns would be Silent, pilotless planes, known as re-
In conjunction with air strikes, U.S. hazardous to their health. The Marine motely piloted vehicles, similar to a
forces used their outnumbered artillery general hoped that when the ground model airplane equipped with low light
guns in an innovative way that had a offensive was launched Iraqi gunners television, flew over the target to
great payoff when the armor and infan- would fear being in the vicinity of their confirm its location. An electronic
try went on the offensive. artillery and rocket systems. jamming aircraft was also airborne to
Known as artillery raids, American The raids were a huge success, and shut down Iraqi surveillance and
gunners would sneak up to the border of the Marines suffered no casualties counterbattery radars. Attack aircraft
occupied Kuwait at night and suddenly during them. When the Marines went and medical evacuation helicopters
pound critical Iraqi targets only to over to the offensive, the Iraqis were were on call in case the artillerymen got
disappear in the darkness before the thrown into confusion at the points of into trouble.
Iraqis could react. When they did react, attack, and their feared massive barrages The raid was a complete surprise to
attack aircraft waiting in the vicinity for of artillery ended up being desultory and the Iraqis and a complete success for the
just that purpose, would scream in to inaccurate random shots. Marines. The small artillery task force
drop bombs and fire rockets at the Iraqis The first artillery raid was on 23 and its armored infantry escort dashed
involved. January, less than a week after the air across to their firing positions in the
The Marines made most use of the war started and over a month before the dead of night, fired 15 rounds per gun in
technique, because it was their job to ground campaign began. At this time rapid succession, and were headed south
occupy the Iraqis along the Kuwaiti the bulk of Marine forces was still 75 before the Iraqis knew what hit them.
border so they would be unaware that miles south of the Kuwaiti border. The Aerial observation at daylight
the bulk of the allied forces were poised last thing the Iraqis expected as they confirmed that the command post had
well to the west preparing for Gen H. watched American aircraft heading been destroyed.
Norman Schwarzkopf's now famous north for Baghdad was to be hit by With a victory under their belts, the
“Hail Mary Pass” around the flank of artillery. Marine artillerymen subsequently con-
the Iraqi defenses. The initial target was an Iraqi infantry ducted a series and a variety of artillery
The Marines had another incentive brigade headquarters near Al Manaqish, raids until the start of the ground
for conducting artillery raids. Their 10 miles behind their frontlines. The offensive. On some raids, the armored
job on G-day was to attack into the raid was to test the feasibility of the infantry would attack an Iraqi strong-
teeth of the Iraqi defenses, and they “shoot and scoot” raids before the gun- point or border post with machinegun
were anxious to gain every advantage ners tackled more formidable targets. fire in what was known as "drive-by
before they did so. The artillery raid A battery of six 155mm self- shootings." When the Iraqis responded
provided them a “force multiplier” as propelled guns protected by a company with their carefully camouflaged artil-
it is euphemistically known. of light armored infantry moved to with- lery, the "shoot and scoot" gunners
At the time, coalition intelligence in 25 miles of their firing position. would pummel them with 155mm
sources indicated that the Iraqis were in There they prepared to dash through the shells.
well prepared defensive positions and desert night for the raid. At other times, the artillerymen would
outnumbered the Marines. To offset this Radio silence was maintained, and at set themselves up as decoys. They
disadvantage the Marine commander their assembly point the artillerymen would not jam Iraqi radars. The Marines
decided to deceive and demoralize his disconnected wires to head, tail and stayed in position firing for an extended
opponent. brake lights of their vehicle as well as period of time and chattered on their
He would deceive the Iraqis by con- those to the horns so there would be no radios so that the Iraqis could get a good
ducting artillery raids at arbitrary points accidental light or noise to give them fix on their location. All of this was to
along the battlefront to confuse the away when they moved forward. allow the Iraqis to respond. However,
Iraqis as to where he was going to The Marines sought first round hits unknown to them, multiple launch
attack. By conducting the raids un- when they fired. Meteorological data rocket systems were positioned nearby,
expectedly with maximum speed and was collected to get accurate ballistic
data. A combination of satellite global

MCI Course 8205 A-7 Chapter 1 Appendix A

B.E. Trainor, Artillery Raid, continued

or F/A-18 attack aircraft were loitering

overhead. When the Iraqis turned on
their electronic systems and unlimbered
their guns and rocket launchers, they
were hit immediately with
overwhelming firepower.
By the time the ground war started,
this one-two punch of artillery and air
attacks had done much to take the fight
out of Iraqi frontline units.

>Gen Trainer is Director, National

Security Program, John F. Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard
University. Article is printed with
permission of The New York Times

MCI Course 8205 A-8 Chapter 1 Appendix A

Ambushes – Still Viable as a Combat Tactic
by LtCol Charles L. Armstrong
The ambush can be one of the most useful combat techniques in low-intensity conflict, but the intelligence collection, planning, Basic
skills, and training required for truly successful execution are more difficult to acquire than most people realize.

A well-executed ambush is an act of commanders, and add to your archives barrel of his weapon) so that in
premeditated murder and terrorism for the benefit of the next officers who conditions of low light or the confusion
against strangers. If an ambush is well would rotate through your outfit? produced by the countless things that
planned and executed with the desirable Knowing the enemy and his terrain is a can go wrong in close combat, the team
degree of surprise, the victims are not process, a complex process, and like so members can quickly and positively
killed in a “fair fight” they do not have many other factors of small unit combat, recognize each other.
the chance to fight at all. The so called you will probably do it the way you have Ambushes should not only be
“hasty ambush,” which we practiced so done it in training. planned in great detail, they should be
diligently in my days at The Basic Knowledge of the enemy and terrain rehearsed every time. Most of us have
School, is not really an ambush but a lets you pick the time and location of read James Webb's Fields of Fire and
meeting engagement and is something to the ambush. How you conduct the have seen the movie Platoon. Both
be avoided by small units. ambush will be determined by your own these stories have great, early examples
The first criterion in planning an resources and imagination. Some of how not to conduct an ambush.
ambush is a thorough knowledge of the characteristics of good ambushes should None of us would think of making an
enemy’s tactics. The second “must” is a always apply (such as surprise, amphibious landing without rehearsing
thorough knowledge of the enemy’s mentioned earlier). Ambushes should be the landing plan. Every ambush
terrain. Knowing how and where he firepower intense. Every man in the deserves the same painstaking
operates gives you a good idea of where ambush should have an automatic rehearsal. The rehearsals should always
and how he can be found and surprised. weapon, and all the weapons should be be done over terrain similar to the
You must also know when he is likely to loaded with tracer ammunition. If your ambush site, using live ammunition, in
be located in various portions of his troops do not have night sights on the the same light conditions as the real
terrain. This information is put together weapons, put “cat-eye” tape on the front thing. The best person to critique the
over time using a variety of sources, and rear sights to make low light aiming rehearsal is an enemy prisoner or
such as prisoners, deserters, captured easier. Use claymore mines in series to deserter. An experienced enemy soldier
documents, friendly patrol and after cover areas of the kill zone. Use hand can tell you how his former comrades
action debriefs, and experience gained grenades to saturate the kill zone while are likely to react.
from fighting the enemy. That all sounds shooters are changing magazines. Preparations for the ambush should
too obvious for words, but think for a Anchor the flanks of the ambush with be detailed. All the gear and weapons
moment about how you train. Do all of machineguns or squad automatic should be rigged for quiet carrying and
your patrols have a standard debrief weapons to thwart enemy maneuver and should be checked for rattles during the
procedure they go through every time discourage reinforcement/counterattack rehearsal. Take the sling swivels off
they get back to the rear? Does every by other enemy troops who might be rifles and muffle the hand guards with
patrol leader give the S-2 a map nearby. As the ambush is completed and cloth. Leave digital watches with
correction every time he returns from your troops withdraw, drop small mines alarms in the rear. No one in the
unfamiliar terrain? When you run your to cover your movement away from the ambush team should use or carry any
Marine Corps Combat Readiness site. Prerigged booby traps should be tobacco products, and no one should
Evaluation System against X Battalion/Y left on or near some of the enemy drink alcohol or eat exceptionally spicy
Marines, do all your unit leaders down to bodies to further delay, surprise, and food for two days before an ambush
squad leader level study photographs and terrorize the enemy soldiers who mission. Unless you plan to ambush
background packages on the unit leaders recover their dead. someone who dips the same brand of
of that battalion? Is your S-2 tasked to The ambush should always be snuff or drinks the same whiskey, you
research the personalities of those triggered by a prearranged signal that can give yourself away through poor
“enemy” leaders? Before you went to a everyone can recognize and that will smell discipline as certainly as through
Combines Arms Exercise (CAX) did work regardless of weather or light poor noise or light discipline. Leave in
your unit leaders study the after action conditions. There must be a similar the rear everything that could identify
reports of the last few units to go signal to cease-fire. If the ambush is set your unit’s location or mission. Patrol
through? How about the personalities of within range of friendly supporting maps should be “sterile” of all friendly
the control group officers? Did all your arms, the kill zone and surrounding area information. Designated team members
lieutenants pick the brains of the should have targets plotted. Every man should have bags in which to carry
lieutenants who had just come back from in the ambush patrol should know the captured enemy documents, radios, and
CAX? Did they do it with the maps of route of withdrawal. Every member of other items can give yourself away
the Delta corridor in hand? After you got the ambush should wear a distinct field through poor smell discipline as
through with these training exercises and recognition signal (a headband of
evaluations, did you correct maps, flesh certain color, for instance, or an arm
out your dossiers on the enemy band or strip of cloth tied around the

MCI Course 8205 A-9 Chapter 1 Appendix A

C.L. Armstrong, Ambushes, continued
certainly as through poor noise or light prepared for a counterattack. Don’t patrol withdrew (using the cover of
discipline. Leave in the rear everything withdraw the same way every time. darkness) overland to link up with
that could identify your unit’s location Having dedicated helicopters to take another unit in a more secure area.
or mission. Patrol maps should be you out is great if the enemy doesn’t In the spring of 1989 a rifle
“sterile” of all friendly information. have surface-to-air missiles. Routine company commander of the 6th
Designated team members should have kills; vary the routine and stay alive on Infantry Brigade was given the
bags in which to carry captured enemy the way back to the rear. When you get mission of securing a 15-kilometer
documents, radios, and other items. back to base, debrief with the unit stretch of El Salvador’s littoral
The length of time you stay in the commander and the S-2 before you eat, highway against enemy roadside
ambush site will be determined by the sleep, drink, or clean weapons. You ambushes. The commander, 2dLt
amount of food and water you can take never know which of hundreds of Roberto Angel Escobar, decided to use
with you, assuming you don’t make ambushes will yield information of counter-ambushes set along likely
enemy contact and are not detected by extraordinary importance. enemy avenues of approach to catch
civilians in the area. If your ambush A number of these principles and the enemy moving into position. He
does not make contact in whatever time lessons can be illustrated by two decided to employ 10-man ambush
period you have planned, you then examples of ambushes executed by patrols that would be firepower heavy
withdraw, debrief, and start over. Don’t units of the Salvadoran Armed Forces and move into position at night. Each
try to improvise or overextend your (ESAF) in two different types of terrain. ambush would have an M60
troops. If you don’t make contact, you In December 1989 a small machinegun, an M79 grenade
will most likely be withdrawing tired, reconnaissance team of Salvadoran launcher, several light antitank assault
frustrated, and low on chow and water. soldiers from Military Detachment 4 ran weapons (LAAWs), and each team
In other words, you are a likely victim an ambush mission into the guerrilla member would be issued hand
for the enemy’s ambush. Withdraw rearguard area of Northern Morazan. grenades. He set the first ambush by
carefully according to plan and live to The team was partially composed of keying on a traditional enemy avenue
fight smart another day. former guerrillas who had “turned,” so of approach that led to an area where
The Basic School probably teaches their knowledge of the enemy was roadside ambushes were often
“actions at the ambush site” pretty sound. They set their ambush above a encountered. The 10-man ambush
thoroughly, but I think some real-world prominent trail along a traditional patrol moved out just before sundown
reminders are in order. When the withdrawal route used by guerrillas (when they could be seen by any
ambush is triggered, every team after offensive missions further south. enemy informants using the highway),
member needs to shoot according to the The ambush team rigged a series of then moved into their ambush position
rehearsed plan. If everyone runs out of claymore mines to cover the kill zone well after dark. As dawn broke the
ammunition at the same time, you are and settled down to wait. In the next next morning, an enemy ambush
vulnerable to counterattack. You need a few hours they permitted two point patrol, whose apparent mission was to
game plan for changing magazines. If elements of guerrillas to pass through set a mechanical ambush against early
survivors get out of the kill zone, the kill zone without triggering the morning traffic, moved into the
pursue them by fire-don’t chase them ambush. Their patience paid off. During friendly troops’ kill zone. The patrol
into terrain of their choosing and get the night the main body of guerrillas, leader triggered the ambush. In the
killed. Pour fire onto the enemy bodies feeling safe because their point element next few minutes, nine guerrillas fell
after they are all down, and put a bullet had passed unmolested, walked into the dead. The 6th Brigade troops
into every head before you search the ambush singing and joking. The ESAF recovered 10 claymore mines from the
bodies. The last thing you want is to be team blew the claymores and opened dead guerrillas. Several guerrillas who
stuck in enemy territory with the bad fire with small arms. The guerrillas tried were not caught in the kill zone got
guys alerted to your location and have a to fight their way out of the kill zone, away and apparently spread the word
couple of wounded Marines who were shooting and throwing grenades, but the about the devastating ambush they had
shot by some tough guy playing element of surprise was too great. After escaped. Enemy roadside ambushes
possum. Make quick searches of the a few futile minutes of trying to gain stopped while Lt Angel’s men were
bodies, while the security team stands control, the enemy unit grabbed what securing the highway.
guard. Take documents, communica- dead and wounded it could and fled. A Key in both examples were planning,
tions radios, serviceable weapons, and, 20-man ESAF patrol had surprised, surprise, overwhelming fire, shock, and
if feasible, ammunition. Weapons you terrorized, and defeated an enemy unit the will to kill an unsuspecting stranger
can’t carry out should be destroyed with which outnumbered it an estimated 7 to without giving him an even break. The
prerigged explosive charges on the 1, at a cost of 2 lightly wounded ambush is a tremendous force
receivers or barrels. Take photographs soldiers. The enemy had at least 19 multiplier and psychological weapon.
of the dead enemy if you know who casualties in a fight that lasted only a When executed by well-trained and
you took off the opposition’s roster it few minutes. Follow-on reports well-rehearsed professionals, it is the
may affect the enemy’s tactics and your indicated the enemy had been shocked safest of all offensive combat. USMC
future operations. Work quickly and demoralized by the surprise attack
according to the rehearsal and be in their own backyard. The friendly

MCI Course 8205 A-10 Chapter 1 Appendix A


Estimated 15 minutes
Study Time

Scope In chapter 1, you learned the concept of using combined arms to put the
enemy in a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” situation. In this
chapter, you will learn some ways Marines can cooperate on the battlefield to
produce or induce this dilemma. Each element of a battlefield plan must
complement or supplement the other. Two basic ways to do this are through
decentralized command and unity of effort.

Learning After completing this chapter, you should be able to identify fundamentals of
Objective mission-type orders.

In This This chapter contains the following topics:


Topic See Page

Overview 2-1
Commands 2-2
Orders 2-3
Commander Influence 2-5
Korean War Example 2-7
Falklands War Example 2-9
Chapter 2 Exercise 2-10
Appendix B B-1

MCI Course 8205 2-1 Chapter 2


Situation The first step in placing the enemy in a dilemma is thinking through how to
Evaluation do it. In each situation, you must evaluate the situation, determine the
desired effect (end state), and arrive at a course of action that will achieve
that effect! Do you want to do it by “squeezing” him between two
maneuver elements? Do you want to do it by combining fire and obstacles?
Do you want to pin him down with fire while you get around behind him?

Harmony Because all situations are unique, you must come up with your concept of
Among how to defeat the enemy in each particular case. Remember, for this to
Elements happen, you must make it happen. Each element of your plan must
complement or supplement others to achieve the desired effect. If these
elements do not cooperate or if they do not work in harmony, you will have
only two separate, uncoordinated blows at the enemy, enabling him to deal
with each one in turn. Your enemy will face a problem or two but not a

How do you get harmony between the elements of your plan? There are two
basic ways, through decentralized command and unity of effort.

Decentralized A commander’s intent represents a unifying idea that allows decentralization

Command of command within centralized, overarching guidance. An obvious way to
achieve unity is by means of command.

MCI Course 8205 2-2 Chapter 2


Mission Orders As a form of mission control, the commander uses mission orders as a tool to
decentralize execution. Mission orders direct a subordinate to perform a
certain task without specifying how to accomplish it.

The senior leaves the details of execution to the subordinate, allowing him the
freedom and obligation to take whatever steps are necessary to deal with the
changing situation. This freedom of action encourages the initiative needed
to exploit the volatile and disorderly nature of combat.

Direct Orders The command might be a direct order. For example, a squad leader might set
up a single envelopment by pointing out the target and commanding, “First
and second fire teams put suppressive fire on the machinegun in the
farmhouse; third team follow me!”

Alternatively, the command could be a code word that triggers a preset

battle drill. The drill might be to envelope a machinegun using the first
and second fire teams as a base of fire to suppress the machinegun, while
the third fire team maneuvers around it. In the same situation described
above, the squad leader might have said, I'm taking the 3rd fire team
closer to the farmhouse so that we can destroy the machinegun. 1st and
2nd fire teams: Keep that machinegun and any other enemy forces in the
area off my back.

Intended However, if a leader has subordinates that have worked with him (and each
Orders other) for some time, it might even be possible to dispense with mission
orders. The squad leader who tells his squad, I’m taking the 3rd fire team
closer to the farmhouse so that we can destroy the machinegun, may not have
to tell his other fire teams what to do.

They know, from first-hand experience, that the 3rd fire team won’t get far
unless the enemy machinegun (and all other weapons that can bring fire to
bear) is suppressed. In other words, the squad leader only needs to express
his intent.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 2-3 Chapter 2

Orders, Continued

Commander’s The common element in all three of the above situations is the intent. The
Intent commander’s intent represents the vision of an operation. It describes the
desired outcome while allowing subordinates to exercise initiative in
consonance with his overall goals.

The intent enables subordinates to act in a changing environment in the

absence of additional orders. During execution the situation may change,
possibly making some assigned tasks obsolete, but the commander's intent is
overarching and usually remains unchanged. The commander's intent is the
primary way you decentralize execution while maintaining unity of effort.

Need for The squad leader clearly indicated what needed to be done—eliminate the
Specificity enemy machinegun. The difference is how restrictively the order is phrased.
If his subordinates are green or inexperienced, the squad leader has to be very
specific about what needs to be done and how to do it. If the subordinates are
relatively well trained, the squad leader needs only to tell them what has to be
done. However, if his Marines work together well, the squad leader can get
away with a simple declaration of his intent.

Ability to Commands and battle drills that are not tied to intent or end state can deny
Adapt subordinates the flexibility they need to adjust to their immediate
surroundings. However, they can act as a point of departure from which
subordinates can adapt their actions to the changing tactical situation. This
ability to adapt and take necessary steps based on the situation is the
fundamental key to mission orders.

MCI Course 8205 2-4 Chapter 2

Commander Influence

No Common There will be times when the elements that create the dilemma are not under
Commander the direct control of a common commander. In such cases, the dilemma is
established by mutual agreement, by working together.

Concept of In the early stages of World War II, LtCol. Evans Carlson formed his famous
Gung Ho Marine Raider battalion. Their motto was gung ho, a phrase that Carlson
had taken from the Red Chinese army, with which he had worked.

Gung ho translates as “work together.” Carlson had been impressed with the
gains of the Red Chinese in opposing the Japanese, results achieved by a
strong spirit of working together. Each Chinese soldier looked for ways he
could support his comrades in whatever they were doing. This attitude made
cooperation and mutual support common and easy.

Gung ho, working together is one of the keys to making combined arms work
when there is no common commander who can simply give an order. It is not
a process but an attitude. It is an attitude that leads every Marine to look for
ways he can support the mission as well as his fellow Marines.

Formal Sometimes, working together leads to a formal agreement:

Okay, sir, my mortars will keep their heads down. We know you’ll
be bringing your platoon in from the east on their right flank. We’ll
watch for you and lift our fire in that sector when you get near them.

If Marines are really working together, no formal agreement will be

necessary. Marines will see other Marines who need their help and they will
just give it. All elements will act with unity of purpose, without even
communicating, because they understand the intent and desired end state.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 2-5 Chapter 2

Commander Influence, Continued

Initiative Initiative at all levels must be taught and encouraged. Initiative is an

essential component of mission control, which is based on the willingness of
the subordinates to act without instruction. The Marine Corps command and
control concept energetically seeks and rapidly exploits opportunities at all
levels. Discipline is not imposed from above; rather there is self-discipline
throughout the organization.

Freedom to Act Not only must subordinates be free to act on their own authority, they must
view it equally as their responsibility to act. This freedom to act with
initiative thus implies a greater obligation to act in a disciplined and
responsible manner. Armed with an understanding of their commander’s
intent, subordinate commanders must recognize and react to enemy actions
and vulnerabilities without waiting for direction from the chain of command.

MCI Course 8205 2-6 Chapter 2

Korean War Example

Ordeal at The following example from the Korean War demonstrates what can be
Chosin achieved through cooperation and initiative.

While elements of Taplett's headquarters company built up a base of fire on

the verge of the roadway, a platoon from Captain Sam Jaskilka's Easy/5
moved toward the Chinese strong point by way of a ridgeline to the north.

Then, while the Easy/5 platoon in the hills was trudging across the skyline
in the gathering light, Chinese sappers blew the repaired bridge once
again. Drivers, who had been calm up to that point, started to panic,
pressing on their accelerators, hoping to run the gauntlet of fire by
crossing the ice-covered stream.

Bob Taplett was trying to halt the column when he heard the heaviest
streak of profanity he had heard in his decade in uniform. Commissioned
Warrant Officer Allen Carlson, of the 1st Battalion, 11th, had had enough
insubordination, and he was thundering his emotions at the fleeing drivers.
Clomping down the road after the nearest truck, Carlson disappeared from
Taplett’s view around a bend. But he returned a few moments later leading
a truck that had a 105mm howitzer in tow.

As the Easy/5 platoon moved against the Chinese flank on the snow-
covered skyline, Gunner Carlson dragooned the nearest warm bodies and
formed a scratch gun crew. Nearby, Bob Taplett helped haul a 75mm
recoilless rifle into place. Carlson aimed his 105 over the open sights and
blasted the Chinese strong point. Another 105 under the control of Maj
Bud Schlesinger, exec of the 1st Battalion, 11th, was wheeled into place
beside Carlson’s gun, and a .30-caliber heavy machine gun donated by
Lieutenant Colonel Jack Stevens was soon spraying Hill 1226.

High up on the road, well out of the action, 2nd Lieutenant Pat Roe,
who was with the 3rd Battalion, 7th's trucks, watched through his
binoculars as Hal Roise shook out several of his platoons and put them into

Private First Class Bob Kennedy, a Dog/BAR-man, found himself wheeling

off the road into a long field in the company of bayonet-wielding riflemen.
The thin skirmish line of parka-clad Dog/5 Marines moved rapidly up the
slope, prying PLA infantrymen from their fighting holes, sending others
fleeing into the guns on the road.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 2-7 Chapter 2

Korean War Example, Continued

Ordeal at The first break in the overcast sky was filled with Navy ADs, which
Chosin, spread rockets and napalm across the face of Hill 1226. Each attack
continued bomber waggled its wings in salute as it pulled back up into the mists.

Marine heavy tanks coming up from the south turned their 90mm guns
on the Chinese atop a small hill across the road from the main event,
neutralizing a troublesome machinegun.

Note: Hammel, E. Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War. Novato, CA:
Presidio Press, 1990, pp. 294–295.

Summary The excerpt shows formal cooperation in the supported attack by the platoon
of “Easy/5.” It also illustrates something else. Working together in
nonstandard ways, with no agreement, no central commander; just an
understanding, based on an estimate of the situation of what must be done.
The leaders of these scrambled units understood that the total tactical effect
was important. They fully grasped the concepts of combined arms and
working together.

MCI Course 8205 2-8 Chapter 2

Falklands War Example

Milan Antitank The British in the war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands provided
Weapons another example of working together in nonstandard ways. They brought
with them numerous Milan antitank weapons, similar to the Marine Corps
Dragon. The Argentines had no serious armor capability. However, the
Milan gunners used their missiles to fire at and destroy the Argentine army’s
.50-caliber machinegun positions that were well dug in and protected from
British machinegun fire.

The suppression provided by the Milans, which were used in a nonstandard

way, enabled the British infantry to attack successfully. Again, working
together to create a dilemma was more important than employing the weapon
the way it was supposed to be used.

Conclusion In seeking to establish unity of effort, you should remember that teamwork
is rarely achieved by imposing conformity from above; rather, it is best
achieved through the spontaneous cooperation of all elements of the force.

Whether the weapon is a 155mm howitzer or a modern ATGM, the principle

is the same. The combined arms effect can only be achieved through
cooperation. Sometimes this is explicit—by command, by mission order, by
intent, or by agreement.

At other times, when two units work together to produce a dilemma without
even talking to each other, cooperation is implicit. In any situation, the
common element must be working together to put the enemy in a dilemma.
That is the goal! Any way you can achieve it is good.

MCI Course 8205 2-9 Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Exercise

Direction Complete the following items. Check your answers against those listed at the
end of this chapter. If you have any questions, refer to the reference page
listed for each item.

Item 1 Which of the following direct a subordinate to perform a certain task without
specifying how to accomplish it?

a. General orders
b. Special orders
c. Mission orders
d. Tactical orders

Item 2 Which of the following allows a subordinate to act in a changing environment

in the absence of additional orders?

a. Centralized command
b. Battle drills
c. Commander’s intent
d. Situation

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 2-10 Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Exercise, Continued

Answers The table below lists the answers to the chapter examination items. If you
have questions about these items, refer to the reference page.

Item Number Answer Reference

1 c 2-3
2 c 2-4

MCI Course 8205 2-11 Chapter 2

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MCI Course 8205 2-12 Chapter 2


Articles • Ettore, Michael L. USMCI (Capt), “Commander's Intent Defined,” Marine

Corps Gazette, April 1993.

• Silva, John L. USA (LtCol), “Auftragstaktik, Its Origin and

Development,” Infantry, September-October 1989.

• Sexton, Martin J. USMC (Col) (Ret), “Raider Response,” Marine Corps

Gazette, January 1991.

Note: All articles reproduced courtesy of Marine Corps Gazette and Infantry.

MCI Course 8205 B-1 Chapter 2 Appendix B

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MCI Course 8205 B-2 Chapter 2 Appendix B

Commander’s Intent Defined
by Capt Michael L. Ettore

In a move to standardize and clarify a key concept of maneuver warfare, the

Marine Corps University has issued guidelines on commander’s intent.

Several years ago the U.S. Marine • The commander’s intent statement statement with, “Final result desired is.”
Corps adopted maneuver warfare as its must include a statement of the end The following are some examples:
primary warfighting philosophy. The state of the battlefield as it relates to - Final result desired is to block the
general concepts of this philosophy his force, the enemy force, and the enemy north of Route 1 in order to
were outlined in FMFM 1 Warfighting, terrain. Additionally, this statement allow the unimpeded movement of
a publication intended to provide broad may include: Company C to BLT Objective Alpha.
guidance on how the Marine Corps - The purpose of the operations. - Final result desired is to destroy the
prepares for and conducts combat - The enemy’s actions and enemy radar equipment at Objective
operations. While most of the content of intentions. Bravo in order to prevent early
FMFM 1 can legitimately be labeled as - An identification of the enemy’s detection of subsequent coalition air
purely common sense, there are several critical vulnerability or center of attacks.
concepts which at the time of gravity.∗ • The commander’s intent statement
publication were new, unfamiliar ideas. Currently, the entire Marine Corps is not a duplication of the scheme of
One of these new concepts was that University is adopting this definition of maneuver paragraph; not where
of commander’s intent. While most commander’s intent. Once missions or tasks are assigned to
Marines have heard of this concept, it is implemented, these changes will result subordinate units; and not the place
extremely rare to find two individuals in the substantial enhancement of the for useless statements such as “we
with the same perspective as to what orders process and will reduce will attack vigorously,” “we will
commander’s intent really is. Any confusion as units and individuals are utilize supporting arms to stun the
student of maneuver doctrine will agree reassigned. enemy,” or “try not to get bogged
that to be successful in this style of Graduates of the staff down.”
warfighting, subordinate leaders must noncommissioned officer academies, • A short, concise commander’s in-
be encouraged to use initiative during The Basic School, Infantry Officers tent statement is easier to send via
the execution of any mission. Course, Amphibious Warfare School, radio or messenger and is more
Commander’s intent is designed to Command and Control Systems easily remembered by subordinates
provide these leaders with the ability to Course, Command and Staff College, once they come under extreme
deviate from a specific plan of attack if School of Advanced Warfighting, and stress.
necessary, yet still accomplish the the Marine Corps War College will The most important thing for a
ultimate desires of their commander. have the same understanding and will young lieutenant to remember if he
This initiative is properly focused by a utilize the same techniques. must suddenly assume command of a
crystal-clear expression and un- Some important points to remember: rifle company in a rapidly changing
derstanding of the commander’s intent. • Every Marine must know the combat situation is the concept of
Recently, the Marine Corps commander’s intent two levels up. commander’s intent.
University conducted a Quarterly • During most infantry battalion Finally, it is incumbent upon every
Curriculum Review Board which was operations order briefs, the battalion leader to adopt and enforce these
attended by representatives of the S-3 actually issues the majority of the changes with enthusiasm. The result
various schools within the University order. It is highly encouraged that the will be the standard interpretation and
system, as well as from other battalion commander issue his intent usage of this key concept throughout
commands. One of the topics discussed statement for clarity and emphasis. the Marine Corps. Additionally, it will
was the concept of commander’s intent • The commander’s intent statement is put an end to the friction and
and the need for a standard definition of intended to be written in narrative form, confusion that happens all too often
the subject as well as specific guidance not by listing elements 1 through 5. It is today.
for its use during the conduct of Marine a statement, not a format.
Corps operations worldwide. The • During the preparation of the vast ∗Center of Gravity. The characteristic,
following definition of commander’s majority of operations orders, whether capability, or locality from which a
intent was forwarded to the President of formal or fragmentary, the shortage of military force derives its freedom of
the Marine Corps University and has time usually will result in the action, military power, or will to fight.
subsequently been approved: commander’s intent statement being (FMFM 2-1 Draft)
• The commander’s intent statement limited to the statement of the end state Critical Vulnerability. A weakness
will be depicted in a formal operations of the battlefield as it relates to friendly in an opposing military force’s assets,
order in paragraph 3a (1) followed by forces, the enemy forces, and the tactics, or strategy that can result in
the concept of operations in paragraph terrain. that force’s defeat if that weakness is
3a (2). The higher unit commander’s • A technique used to describe the end exploited. (FMFM 2-1 Draft)
intent will be depicted in paragraph lb. state of the battlefield is to begin the

MCI Course 8205 B-3 Chapter 2 Appendix B

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MCI Course 8205 B-4 Chapter 2 Appendix B

Its Origin and Development
by Lieutenant Colonel John L. Silva
Since FM 100-5, Operations, was the primacy of the judgment of the accepted pat-tern (doctrine) of military
published in August 1982, the U.S. man on the scene (decentralization). action.
Army has made much of the mission • A willingness to act on the part of all Mission-oriented command, as
order and mission-oriented command. leaders and those who aspire to be practiced by the German Army,
In fact, we seem to have elevated the leaders. accepted a lack of absolute control
mission order to the level of a quasi- • Simple, commonly accepted and over events on the battlefield. Instead
sacrament and have almost made it an understood operations concepts. of trying to dictate the actions of each
end in itself. The success of the AirLand Battle subordinate, the Germans realized that
In the absence of a clear concept depends on the initiative of there was much more profit in trying
understanding of the context in which our junior leaders to act in the spirit of to ensure that, when the need arose,
the mission order developed, we may their commander's intent in the their subordinates would act without
see its adoption as the single solution absence of orders. The only waiting for orders.
to our perceived command and control historically proved method of giving The Germans believed that it was
problems. In doing so, we may subordinates the freedom to act on better to know that each man would
believe we are using mission-oriented their own is mission-oriented act on his own to contribute something
command when we are really using command. This concept cannot be than to have him wait for orders to do
only the mission order. If this is the adopted, however, by simple doctrinal the “right” thing. The idea of the
case, we will have adopted the form decree. commander's intent as a normal part of
while ignoring the substance. If we unthinkingly rush to impose the mission statement was important,
Mission-oriented command, or what mission orders upon ourselves without of course, because it provided a
the Germans call Auftragstaktik, is a fully understanding the whole of framework within which an isolated
decentralized leadership and command mission-oriented command, we risk subordinate could act in the spirit of
philosophy that demands decisions adding more confusion to an already that mission.
and action at the lowest level of chaotic environment. When used out As a corollary to the notion of the
command where there is an intimate of its proper context, the mission order commander's intent, the German Army
knowledge of the situation and the alone is not mission-oriented established a simple conceptual frame-
commander's intention in beginning of command and creates more problems work that provided a common basis
an operation. (See also than it solves. for action in the absence of orders.
"Auftragstaktik," by Captain Frank A. The German Army of 1800 to 1945 This framework was based on the idea
Kerkemeyer, INFANTRY, November- is widely believed to be the most that a successful defense depended on
December 1987, pages 28-30.) The consistently successful modern army the rapid destruction of an enemy
mission order is merely a technique at using mission-oriented command. army through maneuver so the
that is used to implement and execute The following brief outline of its defenders could turn and face other
mission-oriented command. Mission- development and components may potentially aggressive armies. The
oriented command is based on a belief broaden our understanding of German military leaders believed that
in the ability of an individual's Auftragstaktik as an organic whole. offensive maneuver offered the best
creative action to solve a problem With the advent of Napoleonic chance to shock and dislocate an
without recourse to higher authority; open-order tactics, the Germans saw a enemy force so it could be destroyed
the mission order is only the small need to take advantage of the potential at the least cost to them. It became the
component of mission-oriented for individual creativity at every level preferred German method of war,
command that we see in the field. But to solve common military problems, even within a defensive strategy, and a
there are other components of instead of relying on the native staple in the German military tradition
mission-oriented command that must brilliance of one individual in
also work before an army takes the command to solve all problems.
field: They were quick to realize that
• Mutual trust among leaders based on almost every man in a battle could
each leader's intimate personal contribute more than just his physical
knowledge of the capabilities of the prowess. They were among the first to
others. institutionalize the harnessing of
• Training and organization in collective creativity within a generally
everything the army does to reinforce

MCI Course 8205 B-5 Chapter 2 Appendix B

J.L. Silva, Auftragstaktik
PREJUDICE Before he could graduate, he had to failure to act in the absence of orders
The Germans' approach clearly reflected receive a favorable faculty was "illegal" and, at the very least,
their prejudice that there was more art recommendation (based on the inexcusable in the eyes of his superiors
than science to battlefield operations. continual evaluation of each student's and peers. An NCO or officer knew he
They accepted that battle is marked by creativity, objectivity, and mental was expected to act on the situation as
confusion and ambiguity and consciously stamina, as well as course grades) and he saw it, and he knew his action would
traded an assurance of control for an to complete a comprehensive series of be supported. As a result, action in the
assurance of self-induced action on the written and oral examinations. The face of uncertainty and responsibility
part of subordinates. They apparently graduate also had to serve a one-year for that action was developed into a
embraced the confusion of battle as an apprenticeship with the General Staff social norm.
unending source of potential opportunity before he could become a permanent Trust between superior and sub-
and built a command and control member. Appointment to the General ordinate was the cornerstone of mission-
philosophy in which that potential could Staff was not automatic-the apprentice- oriented command. The superior trusted
be realized through decentralized officer had to earn it. his subordinate to exercise his judgment
decision- making. They seem to have Officers who failed to graduate stayed and creativity and to act as the situation
faced and solved the extraordinarily at the Academy to complete the same dictated to reach a specified goal. And
difficult problem of motivating men to military education as the graduates, and the subordinate trusted that his superior
take independent action in the midst of they took their skills back to their would support whatever action he took in
battle without orders or supervision. regiments to teach others. There was no good faith to contribute to the good of the
Over the course of about 150 years, stigma attached to not being selected for whole.
they developed a professional tradition General Staff duty, and no thought seems The superior's level of confidence in
that was founded on a belief in the ability to have been given to relaxing the his subordinates could be high or low as
of the man on the spot to act-within this demanding studies and tough evaluations a result of the intimate knowledge he
broad but well understood and accepted simply for the sake of turning out more had gained through his personal
conceptual framework-to solve the many graduates. If his performance of duty in responsibility for their training and
tactical and operational problems that the regiment was consistently development. He knew which of them
face an army in action. And then they outstanding, an officer who had could be trusted to execute a mission on
acted on that belief by institutionalizing completed the Academy but had not been the basis of broad orders and which
the concept. selected for an apprenticeship could be needed more detailed instructions. But
called later to join the General Staff and he knew that each would act.
EDUCATION to serve that apprenticeship. The subordinate was willing to
Critically important to this As mentioned above, the basic exercise his judgment during periods of
institutionalization of Auftragstaktik in German concept was simple: Maneuver great stress with no additional
the German Army was the superior to shock the enemy in order to destroy instructions once the action started. The
military education offered to selected him. If a junior NCO or officer acted in superior constantly nurtured this
officers in the Kriegsakademie. The some way to do this, he was always willingness by allowing for mistakes of
academy originated with the officer "right." This conceptual framework was detail or method and by permitting
education reform activities of Prussian promulgated throughout the army in the errors of judgment during training.
general Gerhard Johann David von General Staff training, in professional The idea that "everything short of war
Scharnhorst at the start of the 19th journals, and in all unit training. is training" was held to be valid: Every
Century. It was an effort to raise the The unit commander was charged to an action taken by an officer in the field or
level of military and liberal arts extraordinary degree with the training, in garrison was important to the process
education for regimental and staff education, and development of his of inculcating a preference for solutions.
officers. juniors. (Until fairly recently, in fact, If a subordinate erred while acting in
The academy was somewhat exclusive, there were few schools in the German good faith, he did not suffer anything
initially, because the faculty and the Army, and the personnel system was more than corrective coaching. His
facilities were limited. Later, though, this highly decentralized.) This decentra- solution might be constructively
exclusive nature was maintained by lization was merely a natural extension critiqued, but the result of his action-and
design, because an applicant had to have and reinforcement of decentralized the reason he took that action-were
his regimental commander's specific decision making. considered far more important.
recommendation and had to undergo an The role of corrective advice was to
exhausting, competitive entry INEXCUSABLE teach and coach the subordinate so that
examination. Because German doctrine was his future action would make a more
regulatory, therefore, a subordinate's positive contribution to the unit's
MCI Course 8205 B-6 Chapter 2 Appendix B
J.L. Silva, Auftragstaktik
success in combat. This idea was based unwarranted. Anything beyond a mission but also relied on him to decide
on the premise that one learned more constructive critique would only on new courses of action as events
from a well-meaning mistake that was destroy the subordinate's willingness to unfolded that altered the assumptions
constructively critiqued than from a act and might even lead him to made in planning.
mediocre performance that was hardly withhold adverse information or Auftragstaktik was a product of
noticed. provide falsely optimistic reports German social and cultural tradition,
Initially, the superior was not so simply to avoid his superior's wrath. and it was adapted by the German
much concerned with what a This idea recognized there was little in Army for its purposes. It depended on a
subordinate did or how he did it. Rather, mission-oriented command that was relatively simple but well understood
his emphasis was on seeing that his "systematic" and made allowances for and accepted operational concept to
subordinate gained and then maintained this. generally guide commanders in
an instinctive willingness to act and that In mission-oriented command, both deciding how to accomplish their
he analyzed why he acted as he did and superior and subordinate shared the missions. It demanded and provided
the effect his action had on the overall burden of mission accomplishment. Of adequate training and education both in
operation. Hearing the subordinate's course, the greater burden obviously the Kriegsakademie and in the units to
view of his reasons for a certain course rested with the superior, because he had make its execution reliably sure. It
of action helped the superior evaluate to teach, trust, support. and correct well recognized and compensated for
the adequacy of his own original intentioned but possibly errant actions. differences in the temperament and
communication of the mission and his The subordinate was required to report ability of its officers and NCOs through
intention. accurately and to act when the situation personalized unit training, and
The German Army's training system demanded it. Inaction, not "wrong" professional development, and in the
used two very simple criteria to judge action, was the cardinal sin. details each was given in orders in the
whether the junior leader did well: the The heart and soul of Auftragstaktik field. It provided a gigantic support
timeliness of his decision and; is own was the desired result, not the way the structure to infuse and sustain the
justification for it. The first criterion result was achieved. It rejected as subordinates' initiative in battle.
impressed him with the need to act counter-productive any attempt to This concept worked so well,
quickly while the second required him control the type of action initiated however, that we in the U.S. Army now
to reflect on his action and gain insight during combat. It concentrated instead idolize it without fully comprehending
into his own thought process. Since he on instilling in subordinates the will to the totality of what it was, why or how
had to justify the decision in his own act as they deemed appropriate in their it developed, or how it worked as a
mind before implementing it, imprudent situations to attain the desired result. system.
decisions and rash actions were less The cultivation of initiative required We must understand that issuing
likely. In training, what he decided to do special effort. It was so central to mission orders is not practicing
was relatively unimportant. The mission-oriented command that it mission-oriented command. To use this
emphasis was on the effect of his action applied to squad leaders as well as to command concept successfully, sub-
on the whole, not on the method he may division or corps commanders. A leader ordinate leaders must be adequately
have chosen. In an environment where had to make a truly gross error to be prepared for it, and the entire organ-
there were no formulas, this technique reprimanded, and then the reprimand ization of an army must be prepared to
solicited creative solutions. would not forever haunt him throughout support, sustain, and reinforce it.
Through mission orders, therefore, his service or unduly penalize him for Our AirLand Battle doctrine is right
mission-oriented command brought the an honest mistake. in demanding that decentralized deci-
collective creativity of subordinates into In brief, the function of mission- sions be made by the man on the spot.
the decision and action processes. The oriented command was to bring the Our challenge is to find a method of
subordinate had a personal stake in the collective creativity of an army to bear decentralized decision making that fits
outcome of battle, because he knew he in solving tactical problems. It our culture and our Army.
contributed to it intellectually and rewarded the soldier who acted and Lieutenant Colonel John L. Silva previously
served in the G-3 section of the 3d Infantry
independently. penalized the one who did not. The Division and in the G-3 section of Headquarters,
Mission-oriented command was mission order, the battlefield technique Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land). He
based on the idea that undue criticism, through which mission-oriented has returned to the 3d Infantry Division as
assistant chief of staff, force modernization. He
after the fact, of the man on the command was practiced, included the served as a Ranger patrol platoon leader in
scene-who was in a confused, mission's objectives and a clear Vietnam, and is a member of the 18th Infantry
dangerous, and pressured situation and articulation of the commander's intent. Regiment. His article "Improving CP
Survivability" appeared in the November-
who had the best command of The order not only left the subordinate December 1987 issue of INFANTRY.
immediate information was free to determine how to complete his
MCI Course 8205 B-7 Chapter 2 Appendix B
(This page intentionally left blank.)

MCI Course 8205 B-8 Chapter 2 Appendix B

Raider Response
by Col Martin J. Sexton, USMC (Ret)

As the light infantry debate continues, a look at past history and the employment of Marine Raider
battalions in World War II will help illustrate some of the strengths and limitations of the concept

In the wake of all the furor created by the coral reefs and rapidly moved inland. decisions mounted. In spite of all the
the articles on light infantry, I remain As soon as the bulk of the 1st Raiders misfortune that befell Carlson's men, by
amazed that there has been no mention were ashore, the 2d Battalion, 5th improvisation and ingenuity, the force
of Marine combat units or organizations Marines landed in trace. The 1st Marine overcame a succession of setbacks and
that brilliantly played such a role in the Parachute Battalion attacked the harbor finally completed a withdrawal by 2308
past. I make reference to the Marine islet of Gavutu against strong resistance. on 18 August.
Raider battalions of World War II fame. Tulagi's defenders also presented a Overall results were "mixed." The
The U.S. Marine Raiders were the tenacious defense from approximately Raiders had destroyed two ships and
first American ground forces to take the 1120 on D-day until all organized killed all the troops onboard, shot down
offensive to the Japanese and to stem resistance was overcome by nightfall of 8 two seaplanes with reinforcements,
the tide that threatened to engulf the torched a fuel depot, destroyed
August 1942.
Pacific. In February 1942, the United command and radio facilities, killed
Still another example of the first type
States was still reeling from the approximately 83 Japanese on Makin,
of Raider mission was Vangunu Island
offensive operations of the Japanese in and caused the enemy to divert
prior to the New Georgia Campaign.
the Pacific Theater. The Japanese were elements of a relief force that had
Elements of the 4th Marine Raider
rolling unchecked throughout the formed on Truk intended to reinforce
Battalion landed and secured a
Pacific. Their military forces were Guadalcanal.
beachhead, and then elements of the
winning victory after victory, and the Total Raider dead, however, numbered
1034 Army Infantry followed. This was
myth of their superior fighting grew 30-14 killed in action, 7 drowned, and 9
typical of the Raiders' employment
even greater. It wasn't that no one had inadvertently left on the island. Those left
throughout the New Georgia operation.
stopped them; no one had even slowed were later captured by the Japanese
The overall operation was
them down. American, British, Dutch, forces reoccupying the island and were
predominantly Army, and the Marines'
and French interests were all being executed after a brief period of captivity.
role included small raids and surprise
pushed out of the Pacific. This There was also a large loss of equipment
attacks over a large area of operations.
background provided the setting and due to the difficulty encountered in
An example of a raid mission was
requirement for lightly equipped retrogressing through an extremely high
amphibious raiding units that could be Makin Island. The raiding force was
under the command of LtCol Evans F. and rapid surf zone.
employed in hit-and-run attacks against
Carlson and totaled 13 officers and 208 An unexpected bonus of the, raid
island bases.
enlisted. The main elements were occurred when the news media released
This was the genesis of the Raider
battalions. The missions assigned the Companies A and B, each minus one rifle details of the operation upon the Raiders'
Raiders were these: section. (It will be recalled that return to Pearl Harbor. A wave of
• As the spearhead of a larger force, to Companies C and D had taken part in the patriotic exuberance and a tremendous
seize a beachhead by surprise attack defense of Midway Island.) .The Raiders lift in morale swept the country as details
over beaches ordinarily regarded as embarked aboard the USS Nautilus and of the audacious raid became public
inaccessible. the USS Argondut on 8 August 1942 and knowledge. The entire nation was hungry
• To conduct amphibious raiding proceeded individually to the target area. for good news, and this was truly one of
operations relying on the element of The Nautilus made landfall at 0300 on 16 the first that had been announced. An
surprise and operating from August, and both subs rendezvoused at additional contributing factor was the
submarines, destroyers (APDs), air 2116 the same date. mystique of the Marines' "gung ho" aura.
transport, or any other available The overall operation was of historic A textbook example of the third type
transport. proportions. It was the first time that of mission assigned to the Raiders was
• To carry out guerrilla operations such a raid had been conducted by the one assigned to the 2d Raider
behind enemy lines for protracted American forces over such a Battalion on Guadalcanal during the
periods, sustaining themselves without tremendous distance. The objective was period of 4 November-4 December
access to an established line of within the inner circle of Japanese 1942. LtCol Carlson and his men landed
communications. island bastions, and both the approach from APDs on 4 November at Aola
An example of one of the Raiders' first and withdrawal were extremely Bay, about 40 miles east of Lunga. They
missions was the assault landing at hazardous. The landing was were met by Martin Clemens, British
Tulagi on 7 August 1942 by the 1st accomplished without too much
Raider Battalion under the command of difficulty, but the element of surprise
LtCol Merritt A. "Red Mike" Edson. The was lost due to an accidental discharge
assault elements landed unopposed over immediately after landing. From that
point on, the difficulties and critical
MCI Course 8205 B-9 Chapter 2 Appendix B
M.J. Sexton, Raider Response, continued

District Officer and coast watcher. withdrawal from Bougainville, the

He supplied the Raiders with native Raiders were disbanded and the
scouts and patrols under the command majority of the personnel became
of SgtMaj Jacob Vouza. members of the reactivated 4th Marine
It is considered that the following Regiment.
citation, presented on 7 December 1942 In view of the foregoing historical
by MajGen Alexander A. Vandegrift is illustrations, and with the current light
eloquent testimony to the battalion's infantry arguments in mind, we should
actions: take heed of two separate comments
From the operational records of this Division it made in the September Marine Corps
appears that the 2d Raider Battalion, which Gazette. Been Jean Louis DeLayen
attached to this division, took the field against the
enemy at Aola Bay on 4 November 1942. For a
commented: "Young men, stay the
period of 30 days this battalion, moving through best in your specialty, your raison
difficult terrain, pursued, harried and by repeated d'etre; don't become a
attacks destroyed an enemy force of equal or "Jack-of-all-trades." Capt Mark S.
greater size and drove the remnants from the area Murphy, in part, states, "We must
of operation. During this period the battalion, as a
whole or by detachments. attacked the enemy
maintain the capability to adjust to a
wherever and whenever he could be found in a variety of combat environments."
repeated series of carefully planned and well Line infantry must remain the bulwark of
executed surprise attacks. In the latter phase of Fleet Marine Force ground forces.
these operations the battalion destroyed the
remnant of enemy forces and bases on the upper
Lunga River and secured valuable information of >Col Sexton, who served with the 2d Raider
the terrain and the enemy line of operations. In this Battalion throughout the War in the Pacific, now.~s retired
battle the enemy suffered 488 killed and the loss of and living in Carlsbad, CA.
his artillery, weapons, ammunition, and supplies
whereas the battalion losses were limited to 15
killed. For the consumate skill displayed in the
conduct of operation, for the training, stamina and
fortitude displayed by all members of the battalion
and for its commendable aggressive spirit and high
morale the Commanding General cites to the 1st
Marine Division the Commanding Officer, Officers
and Men of the 2d Raider Battalion.
The 2d Raider Battalion was
withdrawn from Guadalcanal on 14
December 1942 to return to Espirtu
Santo, New Hebrides. The
organization was then moved to
Wellington, New Zealand, on 4
February 1943 for a brief period of
rest. Then back to Espirtu Santo,
where on 25 April, it sailed for
Noumea, New Caledonia.
The Bougainville operation that
commenced on 1 November 1943
proved to be the last one the Raiders
would participate in. They were soon
to be disbanded. The tempo of the war
had changed dramatically. The Allied
effort in the Pacific Theater had
developed such a tremendous
offensive thrust that there was no
longer a tactical requirement for
Raiders. An avalanche of new units,
new weapons, and a buildup of
logistical support dictated the
application of massive firepower on all
objectives. There were no legitimate
targets left for the Raiders. In less than
a month from the time of their

MCI Course 8205 B-10 Chapter 2 Appendix B


Estimated 30 minutes
Study Time

Scope If you have ever seen the movie Apocalypse Now, you probably remember the
beach scene where Col Kilgore calls in a napalm strike along a tree line.
Calling for the napalm strike is an example of indirect fire.

In this chapter, you will examine the indirect fire element of combined arms.
You will learn why indirect fire is called the “combat multiplier” and about
the links in the chain of command that produce indirect fire.

Learning After completing this chapter, you should be able to

• Identify indirect fire weapons used by the Marine Corps

• Identify the capabilities and limitations of the weapons associated with

combined arms.

In This This chapter contains the following topics:


Topic See Page

Overview 3-1
Combat Multiplier 3-2
Fire Support Limitations 3-3
Links in the Chain 3-5
Marine Artillery 3-7
Mortars 3-10
Close Air Support 3-11
Naval Surface Fire Support 3-17
Chapter 3 Exercise 3-20
Appendix C C-1

MCI Course 8205A 3-1 Chapter 3

Combat Multiplier

Initial Intent of Until World War I, there was little indirect fire on battlefields. Artillery was
Indirect Fire designed to shoot direct fire, aiming at targets gunners could see. Indirect
fire was considered something used only in sieges of fortresses or cities.
This was probably due to its inability to launch projectiles high and far.

Understanding Since the beginning of World War I (1914), indirect fire has become a major
Indirect Fire force on most battlefields. In fact, in most wars, it has been the single
greatest killer. With indirect fire, you reinforce the success of maneuver.

Through use of long-range artillery, aviation, and naval gunfire, Marine

platoons, squads, or fire teams can generate the equivalent “combat power” of
a battalion or even regiment. Even a lone Marine manning a radio in an
observation post (OP) can command enough indirect fire to halt the attack of
an entire armored brigade. But you also face a new challenge. You must
know the central concepts behind how to use these powerful tools.

MCI Course 8205A 3-2 Chapter 3

Fire Support Limitations

Communi- What is indirect fire? It is fire delivered on a target that is not itself used as
cating With a point of aim for the weapons or the director. It may come from mortars,
Firing Unit heavy machineguns, 155mm howitzers, or a destroyer 20 miles off the

Because the gunner cannot see the target, someone else must guide the fire
onto the target. Someone that can see the target (or predict its position) must
communicate with the firing unit, telling it where to shoot. This is referred to
as “the fire support gunnery problem.”

Communica- In principle, this is simple. Someone near the actual fighting sees a target.
tion Breakdown He communicates with a gunner who can fire indirectly to hit that target. He
asks for fire.

When the fire comes, he sees if the shell or bomb has had effect on target. If
not, he adjusts the fire: right or left, add or drop, and by the necessary
distance. He keeps doing this until he has effect on target.

However, as anyone with combat experience or a good knowledge of combat

history knows, many things can go wrong in this simple process. Most often
the communication link breaks down. The person who sees the target finds
he cannot communicate with the firing unit or the agency controlling fires.
He calls for fire, but gets no response.

Demand for Also, speed of response is frequently a problem. Perhaps the Marine who
Immediacy sees the target communicates the request, but the guns are either displacing
or already firing on a different target. Perhaps his fire request must be
approved by a coordinating agency, such as the fire support coordination
center (FSCC), which coordinates all forms of fire support, in an effort to
“deconflict” the battlefield and avoid incidents of fratricide.

Simply stated, in today’s dynamic battlefield, the fire often comes too late to
have the desired effect on the enemy.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-3 Chapter 3

Fire Support Limitations, Continued

Adequate Sometimes fires are delivered but not in the required amount. The gunners
Amount of Fire are responding to many requests for fire and cannot amass sufficient fire on a
particular target to make a difference.

The amount of fire is not sufficient to generate tactical effect and therefore
cannot be considered an effective employment of combined arms.

Demand for At other times, the fire comes in time and in sufficient amounts, but it is not
Accuracy accurate or specifically designed for the task at hand. For example, you
might call for air support and two F/A-18s, each carrying 6,000 pounds of
bombs to respond to your call. They respond quickly and are carrying a
large quantity of ordnance.

But because most armor the Corps potentially faces requires a “near” direct
hit from an “iron” bomb to do anything more than superficial damage, the
tanks emerge from the smoke still coming at you. The aircraft did not
necessarily miss their targets. Those bombs created an enormous explosion.
But the enemy tanks took no direct hits.

Indirect Fire To some degree, these problems are inherent in war. Nothing makes them go
Disadvantages away completely. At times, communications break down. Artillery or air is
too busy to support you, FSCCs delay fire missions, or bombs miss their

That is one reason why you should use your own weapons as much as
possible. Indirect fire is powerful, but it is not always accurate or available!

MCI Course 8205A 3-4 Chapter 3

Links in the Chain

Field Artillery The coordinated efforts of the field artillery team serve as an excellent
Team example of how to solve the “fire support gunnery problem.” This team
consists of the forward observer (FO), the fire direction center (FDC), the fire
support coordination center (FSCC), and the firing unit, all linked by an
adequate communications system. Doctrine requires team members to
operate with a sense of urgency and to continually strive to reduce the time
required to execute an effective fire mission.

Note: FM 6-30, Observed Fire, Headquarters, Department of the Army:

Washington D.C., 1991, p. 1-1.

Forward FO serves as the “eyes” of all indirect fire systems. He detects and locates
Observer suitable indirect fire targets within his zone of observation. To attack a target
the observer transmits a request for indirect fires and adjusts the fires onto the
target as necessary. An observer provides surveillance data pertaining to his

Fire Direction FDC serves as the “brain” of the system. It receives calls for fire from the
Center FSCC or the observer, determines firing data, and converts to fire commands
(technical fire direction; see Note). FDC transmits the fire commands to the
gun sections designated to fire the mission.

Note: FM 6-30, Observed Fire, p. 1-1.

Fire Support The fire support coordination center (FSCC) monitors all calls for fire from
Coordination observers from a single location. The mission of the FSCC is to allow the fire
Center support planning and coordination of a unit to respond to and support the
scheme of maneuver. Its centralized communication facilitates the
coordination of all forms of fire support on the battlefield.

Note: MCDP 3-16, pg. G-14

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-5 Chapter 3

Links in the Chain, Continued

Firing Unit The firing unit serves as the brawn of the system. It consists of a firing unit
headquarters (FDC in the case of artillery and 81mm mortars) and the firing
sections. The normal function of the firing section is to deliver fires as
directed by the FDC or unit headquarters.

MCI Course 8205A 3-6 Chapter 3

Marine Artillery

Artillery Known by its nom de guerre, the “king of battle,” field artillery primarily
Mission supports the maneuver of infantry and armor units, providing a flexible and
powerful complement to those units. The mission of Marine artillery is

To furnish close and continuous fire support by neutralizing or

destroying targets which threaten the success of the supported
MCWP 3-16

Distinct Marine artillery has several distinct capabilities that when maximized
Capabilities provide the supported commander with responsive and effective

The ability to mass fires simply means that Marine artillery can mass or
concentrate the fires of many artillery weapons on a single target without
physical displacement. To achieve this, as a general rule, the smallest
artillery unit used to attack a target is the battery.

All six guns in the battery are fired simultaneously, which provides a degree
of massed fires on proposed targets. For suitable and highly lucrative targets,
other batteries or even battalions could be added to mass on the target if they
were within range of the target.

Mass Fire The massed fires of several units are far more efficient than engaging targets
with a single battery. To maintain the ability to rapidly mass fires, artillery
targets must be under the centralized control of the artillery commander.

Surprise fires provide you with a very potent element of combat power
through the delivery of a large volume of fire with minimal or no prior

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-7 Chapter 3

Marine Artillery, Continued

High Accuracy The traditional approach of adjusting fires onto a target has been outstripped
by the both the fluid nature of today’s battlefield and the highly accurate
nature of modern artillery fire. Today, the Corps has the ability to deliver
large volumes of fire without prior adjustment, allowing the enemy to be
attacked while they are relatively unprepared.

Statistically, this method is at least twice as effective in producing casualties

as adjusted fire. However, to fire in this manner the firing unit is required to
know exact target location, accurate target description, exact weapon location,
complete ammunition and weapon information, thorough meteorological data,
and precise computation procedures.

All-Weather Unlike close air support (CAS), modern field artillery systems can fire
Capable accurately in all conditions of weather and visibility. They are limited only
by the effect that reduced visibility may have on the acquisition of targets by
visual means.

High Angle The high trajectories of artillery weapons allow them to attack enemy targets
Fires in defilade. These high-trajectory artillery weapons can also fire from
positions of defilade, concealing them from enemy direct fire and observation
and thereby increasing their survivability.

Continuous One of the salient points in the mission statement of Marine artillery is to
Support provide “continuous” support of the maneuver elements. The all weather
capability stated above augments this continuous support. Most important,
field artillery can displace in a timely manner by echelon to ensure that
weapons are in position and ready to fire in support.

MCI Course 8205A 3-8 Chapter 3

Marine Artillery, Continued

Limitations Understanding a system’s limitations as well as its capabilities is critical to

correct employment of that system. Although field artillery is a powerful
tool, it does have limitations.

Displacement When on the move, field artillery is less responsive to requests for fire.
Ideally, artillery is most responsive when it is permanently emplaced.
However, this is a highly unlikely scenario on the modern battlefield.

To accomplish its mission of furnishing close and continuous fire support,

“the king” must move; and as in chess, moving the king takes time.

Close Combat Artillery support is significantly reduced when artillery unit personnel have to
engage in close combat to defend themselves and their weapons against
ground attack. In this situation, artillery personnel will be less responsive to
your call.

Air Attack The necessity for artillery to fire from relatively fixed positions without
overhead cover makes artillery extremely vulnerable to air attacks. Artillery
units have no organic air defense weapons other than automatic weapons.

Ammunition Resupplying artillery ammunition is a major logistics consideration. The

Resupply basic allowance of artillery ammunition for an artillery battalion weighs
approximately 99 tons and could easily be expended in a single preparation
fire of 20 minutes (FMFM 6-9, p. A-1).

Firing Artillery firing units are extremely attractive targets, and their distinctly
Signature audible, visible, and electromagnetic signatures make them highly vulnerable
to enemy detection and attack. Therefore, measures to counter this problem
may degrade the firing unit’s ability to respond.

MCI Course 8205A 3-9 Chapter 3


Integrating Affectionately referred to as the commander’s “hip-pocket artillery,”

Fires infantry mortars provide the most responsive form of indirect fire available
for maneuvering companies and battalions. Surprisingly versatile, infantry
mortars fire smoke missions, mark targets, and provide battlefield

However, their most important and traditional role is firing in support of the
maneuver units to which they belong. Mortar fires inhibit enemy fire and
movement, allowing you to maneuver your unit to a position of tactical
advantage. Effectively integrating these fires is key to the successful
application of combined arms at the company and battalion level.

Advantages of As discussed previously, each fire support agency has inherent advantages
Mortar and disadvantages. The infantry mortar is no different. Mortars have similar
advantages to those of artillery and naval surface fire support. However,
being an organic asset, they have some specific advantages no other agency
can claim.

Because they are organic to both the battalion and company, infantry mortars
travel relatively near the units they support and can displace much faster than
their “big brother” artillery. Therefore, it is easier to correct communication
problems, as well as redirect the firing priorities of the mortars. These
advantages provide a highly responsive indirect fire asset, capable of
delivering a large volume of fire either into or out of defilade.

Mortar The “light” nature of the mortar is also its primary failing. These weapons
Limitations have a relative short range, which is easily outrun in today’s fluid battlefield.
Their demand and high rate of fire fuel their consumption of large amounts of
ammunition; possibly exceeding the organic means of resupply. Moreover,
they do not have the diverse types of ammunition found with other systems.
Finally, their high-angle fire makes mortars susceptible to counter battery fire.

MCI Course 8205A 3-10 Chapter 3

Close Air Support

Origins The Marine Corps pioneered the concept of close air support (CAS) in the
closing weeks of World War I. Improved and refined, the theory met its
acid test on the ground and in the skies above Okinawa, where CAS played
its most critical role of World War II.

Later, CAS was used extensively during the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and
most recently in the Persian Gulf. CAS consists of close action by attack
helicopters (rotary wing) or fixed-wing aircraft against enemy targets to
support tactical operations ground forces are conducting. The sophisticated
electronics equipment developed during the Vietnam War allowed the Marine
Corps to employ CAS during all weather conditions, including under the
cover of darkness, significantly increasing the ability of Marine aviation to
support you, the “ground-pounder!”

Advantages Aside from obvious speed, shock, and violence of action, CAS has several
capabilities and advantages that set it apart from other supporting arms. CAS
allows you to hit targets that other supporting arms cannot hit because of
range or defilade position.

Fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft can deliver munitions of great destructive

power, destroying heavily fortified positions and point targets. And probably
most important, CAS builds significant morale in friendly forces.
Conversely, the attack of an aircraft as part of a combined arms effort
destroys the enemy’s will to fight.

Loiter Time The amount of fuel on board determines the time an aircraft can “stay-on-
station.” The type and quantity of ordnance carried determines the fuel
consumption rate which, in turn, determines the aircraft’s ability to “hang
around” waiting for a mission.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-11 Chapter 3

Close Air Support, Continued

Communica- Radio communications are very important to CAS, especially during

tions immediate strikes. Coordinating strikes with airspace coordination
measures and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) requires positive
control and reliable radio communications.

Because of the speed at which missions are executed and the ability of enemy
jamming systems, lengthy conversations between you and the attacking
aircraft are not possible. The proliferation of such jamming technology has
led the Marine Corps to develop and employ jam-resistant, burst-transmission
radios and automated target hand-over systems.

Target Identifying and locating the target is a “show-stopper” for CAS. Without
Identification positive identification, the attacking aircraft cannot effectively engage the
target. A target description is a standard element of the nine-line brief and
should always attempt to paint a “mental” picture of what the target will look
like for the pilot. Together with the “marking” of the target, this description
should bring positive results.

Weather Bad weather in the target area makes visual location of the target difficult and
limits the types of attacks that can be made. With low ceiling and poor
visibility, the effectiveness of close visual support decreases.

As weather conditions improve, your ability to employ CAS improves.

However, improving weather conditions also help the enemy defend the

MCI Course 8205A 3-12 Chapter 3

Close Air Support, continued

Preplanned Preplanned missions can be either scheduled or on-call. And as one might
imagine, these missions are to some degree anticipated. Preplanned
scheduled missions permit detailed planning and coordination. They are
executed at a specific time-on-target (TOT) and place (see Note).

After launch of the aircraft, the TOT can be “slid” slightly to accommodate
changes; however, for the most part they are executed as planned. These
missions require a minimum of communication.

Note: FMFM 5-70 MAGTF Aviation Planning (being revised to MCWP 5-

11.1), Headquarters, Marine Corps: Washington D.C., 1995, p.10-2.

Preplanned On- Preplanned on-call missions consist of aircraft preloaded with specific
Call ordnance for a specific type of target within an assigned area of the
battlefield (FMFM 5-70, p. 10-2). These aircraft can be either staged on the
ground—called “strip alert”—or they can be airborne in the “CAS stack.”

These missions are launched or directed at your request. While some level of
detailed planning has taken place, final coordination is usually not completed
until immediately before the aircraft attacks, in the form of a CAS target
briefing form or nine-line brief.

Immediate Immediate CAS consists of strikes against “pop-up” targets not previously
identified (FMFM 5-70, p. 10-2). These missions do not permit detailed
planning or coordination and are launched at your request. The quick
response of the aircraft in these missions is the critical requirement. Aircraft
from other missions, such as preplanned on-call, may be diverted to
immediate missions, depending on the urgency.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-13 Chapter 3

Close Air Support, Continued

Control Air control of CAS is at best a complicated task. Controlling preplanned

CAS is less complex. In missions of this type, the nine-line brief is prebriefed
or reviewed.

Immediate CAS is another story. Coordination is literally done “on the fly,”
with the nine-line brief delivered electronically to the attacking aircraft
immediately before its attack. This is known as the “frantic 15 seconds.”

This is the most difficult time for the ground controller of CAS. During the
actual attack, you are trying to acquire the mark, maintain sight of the target,
acquire the aircraft, and hopefully make it all work. It is unrealistic to expect
a perfect operation every time. A lot of experience is required to “smooth”
this process. As the controller on the ground, you normally see only a small
fraction of the land area visible to the pilot. Your field of view may be
severely restricted by vegetation, weather, enemy fires, and terrain features.

CAS Target The critical requirements for successful employment for CAS are adequate
Designation marking of the target, identification of friendly positions, and identification
of surface-to-air threats. Of these three, the most difficult to accomplish is
the adequate/timely marking of the target. Therefore you must be aware of
the resources at your command to achieve this.

At the battalion and company level, the most responsive method for marking
CAS targets is the infantry mortar. However, other means such as artillery or
laser designator, if available, provide a more visible mark. In unique
situations, less conventional methods may be employed, such as tracer
rounds, rockets, or grenades. Remember, however you mark the target, the
pilot(s) must be able to distinguish between friend and foe from the air.

Nine-Line Brief The CAS target briefing form, also known as the nine-line brief, is designed
to allow the forward air coordinator to give the aircrew all the essential
information for executing a CAS mission against a high-threat target.
Against a lesser threat, this form provides more detailed control.

The nine-brief is reviewed in detail in MCI 8203, Warfighting Tactics. See

that course for complete information on the nine-line brief.

MCI Course 8205A 3-14 Chapter 3

Close Air Support, continued

Rotary Wing Rotary wing aircraft perform many tasks to support ground elements. Here
we will focus on their role in CAS. The principal rotary wing platform for
CAS in the Marine Corps is the AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter. It has a
range of 256 miles and can travel at 150 knots. It is best suited for
attacking point targets, such as tanks, personnel carriers, and bunkers
(FMFM 5-70, p. 10-2).

Four of these aircraft can be found in the aviation combat element (ACE)
with each MEU(SOC). The AH-1 can operate at night and in virtually any
condition of visibility. The AH-1W can carry a diverse mix of weapons as

20mm cannon Hellfire missiles

GPU-2/A gun pod AIM-9 Sidewinder missile
2.75-inch rockets AGM-122 Sidearm missile
5.00-inch rockets CBU-55 fuel air explosive
TOW antitank missiles LUU-2 parachute flares

Fixed Wing Marine Corps fixed wing aviation has a variety of weapons systems and
munitions capable of supporting maneuver elements, including cluster
bomb units (ROCKEYE and APAM), laser-designated ordnance
(Maverick and Hellfire), general purpose bombs (MK 80 series), and air-
delivered scatterable mines (GATOR). The primary fixed wing
platforms for delivering such weapons in the Marine Corps are the AV8-
B Harrier and the F/A-18 Hornet.

The AV8-B is a single-seat, transonic, vectored-thrust, light attack aircraft

employed by Marine attack squadrons. The aircraft has a GAU-12 25mm gun
system and an external ordnance payload of 9,200 pounds. Its forward-
looking infrared (FLIR) system and night vision goggles (NVG)-compatible
cockpit lighting allows the AV8-B to attack at night and under weather. Six
AV8-Bs deploy as an element of the ACE with each LHD/LHA-configured

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-15 Chapter 3

Close Air Support, Continued

Fixed Wing, The F/A-18 is a single-seat, twin-engine strike fighter. It has an internal
continued 20mm M-61 gun and can carry over 17,000 pounds of ordnance. The F/A-
18D is the two-seat variant of the F/A-18, which Marine fighter attack
squadrons–all weather (VMFA–AW) use. A FLIR system and NVG-
compatible cockpit lighting allow this aircraft to perform ground attacks at
night under the weather. This aircraft has replaced the venerable A-6 Intruder
as the “all-weather” attack aircraft for the Marine Corps.

MCI Course 8205A 3-16 Chapter 3

Naval Surface Fire Support

NSFS and All amphibious operations rely on fire support from the sea. Historically,
Amphibious naval surface fire support (NSFS) has been the single most important
Operations supporting agency for allowing Marines to get off the beach.

In the initial phases of such an operation, NSFS may be the only supporting
agency available. The mission of NSFS for the amphibious assault is to
provide responsive fires destroying or neutralizing defenses that oppose the
approach of ships, aircraft, the landing force (LF), and the post-landing
advance of the LF.

As with all other agencies discussed in this chapter, NSFS has several distinct
capabilities that set them apart from other supporting arms. When
maximized, these capabilities provide responsive and effective firepower.

Note: FMFM 2-7 Fire Support in Marine Air Ground Task Force
Operations (being revises to MCDP 5-11.1), Headquarters, Marine
Corps: Washington D.C., 1991, p. 2-11.

Rate of Fire The active fleet is armed with NSFS ships equipped with 5”/54 MK42 and -
45, and 5”/38 guns. The 5”/54 MK45 naval gun is found on all newer classes
of NSFS ships. It fires a 70-lb. projectile at a range of 23,000 meters and can
fire at a rate of 35 rounds per minute.

Naval guns in use today have the ability to deliver an extremely high rate of
fire. This rate of fire permits the delivery of a large volume of explosives
against a target in a short period of time. This provides a greater effect on
target than the same number of rounds fired over a longer period of time.

High The high velocity and flat trajectory of naval guns make naval surface fire
Velocity/Flat support particularly suitable for penetrating hardened targets, especially those
Trajectory presenting a vertical face to the gun target line. These ballistic characteristics,
with the automated fire control system for calculation of firing data, increase
the accuracy and effectiveness of the round. However, these characteristics
also make it extremely difficult to deliver fire against targets in defilade.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-17 Chapter 3

Naval Surface Fire Support, Continued

Dispersion The dispersion of rounds from naval guns is a narrow elliptical pattern. The
Pattern range dispersion (long/short) along the gun target line (GTL) is about four
times the deflection (left/right) dispersion (FMFM 2-7, p. 2-12). This range
dispersion allows for delivering close fires, provided the GTL is parallel to
friendly positions. It also allows for excellent coverage of targets with a long
axis, such as roads and runways.

Mobility NSFS ships are capable of considerable mobility along a coastline within
the limits imposed by hydrography and hostile action. In operations on
peninsulas, islands, and inland areas, where ground movement is often
restricted, NSFS can reach targets beyond that of other indirect fire assets.
Mobility allows the firing ship to be positioned for optimum support of
the maneuvering unit.

Remember, the most favorable position causes the GTL to fall parallel to the
forward line of troops (FLOT). Each NSFS ship operates from a defined area
called a fire support area (FSA). At times these ships take up specific
positions within the FSA. These positions are known as fire support stations.
The fire support station is generally used when a specific GTL is required or
when maneuvering room is restricted.

Vulnerability Enemy defenses, such as attacks by enemy aircraft, surface-delivered fires,

and Continuity and minefields limit the availability of NSFS to the LF. Gunfire ships may be
withdrawn from supporting the LF to resume their primary mission of anti-air
warfare (AAW) or antisubmarine warfare (ASW) in defense of the
amphibious task force (ATF).

Weather Adverse weather may affect the delivery of naval gunfire. Hydrographic
conditions for the ship and visibility conditions at the target restrict the ship’s
ability to place accurate fires onto a target.

Ammunition The quantity of ammunition available on board an individual platform

Resupply depends on the ship’s magazine capacity and the quantity required for self-
defense. Ships can be rotated for replenishment; however, during this
resupply, they cannot provide support.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-18 Chapter 3

Naval Surface Fire Support, Continued

Conclusion The process of calling for and adjusting indirect fire may intimidate Marines.
Many are afraid of what seems to be a very complicated, highly technical
process for getting fire support. They fear they do not know how to do it.

But as we have seen, indirect fire is simple. It requires a gunner on one end
and an observer on the other, someone who can see the target and call for and
adjust the fire. They have to communicate, but nothing says the procedure
must be complex. As a fire team, squad, or platoon leader, you can talk a
gunner or a pilot through hitting the target. You can tell him where it is and
guide him onto it.

If he is a “gung ho” Marine or if he believes in working together, he will help

you give him the information he needs. He will “go the extra mile” to
provide the support that gets you the tactical effect that you want.

MCI Course 8205A 3-19 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Exercise

Direction Complete the following items. Check your answers against those listed at the
end of this chapter. If you have any questions, refer to the reference page
listed for each item.

Item 1 Which of the following does this statement best fit, “Transmits the fire
commands to the section designated to fire the mission”?

a. Forward observer
b. Fire direction center
c. Fire support coordination center
d. Firing unit

Item 2 “To furnish close and continuous fire support by neutralizing or destroying
targets which threaten the success of the supported unit”’ is the mission of
which of the following?

a. Fixed wing aircraft

b. Rotary wing aircraft
c. Artillery
d. Mortars

Item 3 Which is a limitation of artillery?

a. Close combat
b. All weather capability
c. High angle of fire
d. Continuous support

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-20 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Exercise, Continued

Item 4 Which weapon system provides the most responsive indirect fire available to
the company and battalion?

a. Aircraft
b. Naval gunfire
c. Artillery
d. Mortars

Item 5 What are the two types of missions for close air support?

a. Scheduled and on-call

b. Preplanned and immediate
c. Direct and indirect
d. Immediate and on-call

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205A 3-21 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Exercise, Continued

Answers The table below lists the answers to the chapter examination items. If you
have questions about these items, refer to the reference page.

Item Number Answer Reference

1 b 3-7
2 c 3-8
3 a 3-10
4 d 3-11
5 b 3-15

MCI Course 8205A 3-22 Chapter 3


Articles • Cronin, William R. USMC (Maj), “The Future of Marine Close Air
Support,” Marine Corps Gazette, April 1992.

• Sullivan, Stephen M. USMC (Capt), “The Missing Link: Company Fire

Support Coordinator,” Marine Corps Gazette, September 1994.

• Medeiros, Scott J. USMC (Capt), “Anyone Can Call In Air,” Marine

Corps Gazette, May 1995.

Note: All articles reproduced courtesy of Marine Corps Gazette.

MCI Course 8205A C-1 Chapter 3 Appendix C

(This page intentionally left blank.)

MCI Course 8205A C-2 Chapter 3 Appendix C

The Future of Marine
Close Air Support
by Maj William R. Cronin
The Marine Corps needs to rethink its approach to close air support.
It can ill afford to ignore the capabilities of its attack helicopters or limit the scope of its fixed-wing aircraft.

During the past few years, numerous Before discussing the merits of the like the Army relies on the Air Force
articles in the Gazette and other attack helicopter in the CAS role, an for their fixed-wing support. Another
professional journals have explored the examination of the practical and argument stems from the Joint Chiefs of
best methods for conducting close air doctrinal considerations of fixed-wing Staff Omnibus Agreement of 1986,
support (CAS) for infantry units in CAS is in order. As the Iranian and Iraqi which states in part that all excess
contact with the enemy. The focus of Air Forces discovered and as any sorties (i.e., perhaps all non-CAS
these articles has been whether to fixed-wing aviator will tell you, sorties) must be turned over to the joint
continue using the current generation of dropping bombs and shooting rockets at forces air component commander
fixed-wing strike fighters, such as the targets in close proximity to friendly (JFACC) for his use. Some believe that
F/A-18 and AV-8B, or to develop a forces is risky business. By their very Marine fixed-wing aviation, if not
slower and cheaper “mud fighter” such nature, the acquisition of CAS targets committed to CAS, will be used for
as the A-10 for the conduct of CAS. I from the cockpit of a high performance non-Marine related missions. Although
believe strongly that the future of CAS strike fighter is difficult under the best neither of these arguments is without
belongs to neither of these alternatives of conditions. Distinguishing friend some logic, both have already proven
but rather to the attack helicopter. Al- from foe can delay or preclude the false. The first argument assumes that
though this approach will require a delivery of ordnance and diminish the the Navy possesses the assets and the
radical change in the philosophy and effectiveness of CAS by fixed-wing ability to provide the support needed by
conduct of fixed-wing support of aircraft. The use of fire support Marine ground units. Unfortunately, a
ground troops, it will improve the coordination measures, such as a fire majority of Navy fixed-wing aviation is
overall effectiveness of the Marine air support coordination line, can provide tied up defending the aircraft carriers
ground task force (MAGTF). some level of safety to friendly forces that would be in support of any
The long and illustrious history of but tends to take the close out of close operation where Marine ground foes
CAS by Marine aviation has served as a air support. might be committed. Deck space aboard
shining example of our commitment to Like all fire support assets, fixed- the aircraft carriers presently available
provide the finest support possible for wing aircraft have capabilities that must is simply too limited to embark the
our ground forces. This commitment to be considered prior to using them in the numbers of aircraft required to provide
effective and responsive CAS has in support of ground forces. Two of the support for Marine ground forces. The
fact been one of the features that set the biggest assets of fixed-wing aircraft are second argument assumes that the
Marine Corps apart from our sister speed and ordnance capacity. The JFACC would willfully misuse Marine
Services and forged the air ground team ability to range out ahead of friendly fixedwing assets under his control. The
so vital to the MAGTF concept. It is in forces and disrupt the enemy prior to air war during Operation DESERT
this spirit that I propose this rethinking him coming in contact with friendly STORM was conducted with a great
of our approach to CAS. forces contributes greatly to the success deal of concern for fairness and
The use of attack helicopters in the of the campaign. Unfortunately, by evenhanded assignment of the
CAS role is not without precedent. The doing this, fixed-wing aircraft are fixed-wing assets of all coalition forces,
Israeli Air Force has used their AH-1’s removed from the watching eyes and including those of the Marine Corps.
with great success to support their ears of the forces they are committed to Once battlefield preparation began,
ground forces, most notably during the support. Forcing fixed-wing aircraft to Marine fixed-wing aviation was free to
Peace for Galilee Campaign in 1982. operate only where they can be seen conduct Marine tasks.
The Iranian and Iraqi Air Forces and heard not only limits the use of
employed their attack helicopters with other more appropriate fire support
varying degrees of success against each assets for close-in fire support but also
other after their fixed-wing forces limits the use of fixed-wing assets in
proved equally adept at killing friendlies more effective roles forward of the near
as they did killing the enemy while battle.
attempting to conduct CAS during the One argument against removing CAS as
Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. Finally, the the primary job of Marine fixed-wing
U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army aircraft is that it will spell the end of
employed attack helicopters with Marine fixed-wing aviation and force
smashing success against Iraqi forces Marine ground commanders to rely on
during Operation “DESERT STORM.” the Navy for fixed-wing support much
MCI Course 8205A C-3 Chapter 3 Appendix C
W.R. Cronin, Close Air Support, continued

Although the politics present during and the ability to successfully engage
inter-Service rivalries are always a CAS targets while retaining an
concern, one must realize that the acceptable level of survivability. The
Marine Corps does not possess a incorporation of night imaging devices
monopoly on leadership and that the into our attack helicopters gives them
JFACC must be trusted to exercise the ability to be employed round-the-
sound judgment in the use of his clock to maintain pressure on the
assigned assets. enemy. The successes enjoyed not only
Since neither of these arguments can by Marine AH-1 Cobras during the
be used as a rationale to preclude using drive forward to Kuwait City but also
fixed-wing aircraft in roles other than by Army AH-64 Apaches against the
CAS, the question now remains whether Republican Guard demonstrate the
attack helicopters can be used in this capabilities of attack helicopters.
role. As was mentioned earlier in this Where is the Marine Corps in the
essay, the Israeli Air Force relies process of realigning its aviation
heavily on its attack helicopters for assets based on the lessons learned by
close-in fire support of its ground the Israeli Air Force during their
forces. This reliance is so complete that recent combat experience? After the
they rarely use their fixed-wing assets successes of Operation “DESERT
for CAS, preferring to use them for STORM” which saw fixed-wing
interdiction of enemy forces away from assets used primarily for battlefield
the near battle and for strategic strikes preparation forward of friendly forces
on political and logistical targets. When and attack helicopters used primarily
questioned on their employment tactics, for close-in fire support of friendly
the typical Israeli officer will often forces, a move toward the use of these
express his disbelief that the Marine assets in these roles might have been
Corps continues to ignore the expected. Unfortunately, recent
capabilities of the attack helicopter for combined arms exercises (CAX’s) at
fulfilling the needs for rapid and Twenty-nine Palms have proved this
effective close-in fire support while assumption to be incorrect. Just. as it
limiting the scope of employment of our had been prior to the war, fixed-wing
fixed-wing assets. aircraft use during the CAX is still
The capabilities required of an focused on CAS while attack
effective CAS platform can generally helicopters are allowed to practice
be broken down into two categories. close-in fire support only during lulls
The first is responsiveness. The second in fixed-wing CAS attacks.
is firepower. The ability of the attack Marine aviation and the Marine
helicopter to follow ground forces to Corps in general must not ignore the
the battle area and to remain in close capabilities of its attack helicopters,
proximity to the battle area negates its nor can it afford to limit the scope of
inferior speed when compared to fixed- its fixed-wing aircraft for fear of
wing assets. Fueling and rearming losing control of them to other
points (FARPS) require little more Services. We must continue to
than a fuel bladder and extra ordnance. improve our Warfighting capabilities
In comparison to the logistical burden during the years of peace we may be
required for even the AV-8B, the about to enjoy because the next war
requirements for attack helicopters are can always be a little tougher than the
small indeed. The extremely short last one.
transit time from a FARP to an attack
position and the ability of attack >Maj Cronin, a naval flight officer
helicopters to remain on station either with VMFA(AW)-121, was also the
in a low hover or at ground idle winner of last years “DESERT
provides the ground commander with STORM” Essay Contest for field
the type of responsiveness needed in grade officers.
the CAS role. Smart weapons, such as
the wire-guided TOW and the laser-
guided Hellfire, have given the attack
helicopter a quantum leap in firepower

MCI Course 8205A C-4 Chapter 3 Appendix C

The Missing Link: Company Fire Support Coordinator
by Capt Stephen M. Sullivan
It's time for the Marine Corps to acknowledge that combat efficiency improves when company commanders have some
help with fire support coordination.

As the reinforced company rolls Assisted by his artillery forward observer, ensure a high degree of implicit
towards its final coordination line, the mortar forward observer, forward air communication and a clear under-
company commander observes his final controller, and naval gunfire spotter, a standing of commander’s intent in order
preparation fires. He notices that heavy company commander can perform the fire to integrate him as a valuable asset. The
automatic weapons fire is coming from support planning and coordination necessary Marine Corps’ compliance with
a bunker several hundred meters west of at the company level. maneuver warfare principles combined
his objective. As he decides to with continuously growing technology
orchestrate his fire support assets, he Although necessity can prove this true, has resulted in increasing demands for
becomes immersed in instructing his it is at best inefficient. The growing the company commander regarding fire
forward air controller on how he wants demands for integrating fire support support. Maj Brian D. Cadin, of the
to use the close air support on his “pop with maneuver warfare threaten to Marine Corps’ Tactical Exercise
up” target on grid 903678 at 0205, present the company commander with a Evaluation Control Group in 1992,
coordinating the artillery forward workload that diverts his focus of explained why it has become necessary
observer to mark the target with energies away from driving tempo and to provide a company FSC in these
illumination on the deck on grid 903678 could make him a victim of tactical terms:
at 0204: 30 and instructing the naval events rather than the initiator. A des- The company FSC was simply not necessary
gunfire forward observer that he needs ignated fire support coordinator (FSC) historically because the tempo of operations
to call for additional prep fires on the at the company level would correct a did not detract from the company
objective at 903678 from 0204 to 0209. vital flaw in our present policy. A commander's ability to integrate his supporting
Additionally, he tells the 81 mm mortars company FSC is needed to assist the arms, however, the Marine Corps' increased
forward observer to be prepared to call company commander in his conduct of use of battlefield mobility combined with the
in support to suppress potential enemy offensive operations, defensive growing variety of fire support assets
air defenses. After several minutes of operations, and fire support training continues to make his job more demanding
supervising the intricacies of initial requirements. than ever.
points, run-in headings, and timing, he Some may argue that because it is the
gives the bunker target and the objective company commander's responsibility to The first area in which a company
another look. A knot forms in his integrate fire support assets into his FSC would provide the commander
stomach as he sees one of his assault fight, a company FSC is unnecessary. with badly needed assistance is
amphibious vehicles (AAVs) rolling Delegating authority does not mean that offensive operations. Although a
dangerously close to the intended responsibility is abdicated. Moreover, company FSC should be collocated
bunker target and realizes that delegating authority does not connote with the company commander
fratricide is a very real possibility. The that authority is lost. Marine Corps whenever possible, maneuver warfare
unfolding of battlefield events and the doctrine in Fleet Marine Force Manual doctrine in FMFM 1 states that: “A
momentum of his maneuver elements 2-7 (FMFM 2-7) states that the commander should command from well
have gotten away from the company commander is “responsible for all that forward . . . this allows him to see and
commander as he was preoccupied with happens or fails to happen within his sense firsthand the ebb and flow of
synchronizing his fire support. command. This is especially true combat.” Additionally, it recognizes the
Several years after the Marine Corps regarding the planning and coordination advantages of recon pull through
adopted maneuver warfare as its of fire support.” Marine Corps doctrine enemy gaps to maintain momentum and
doctrine, there remains a problem at the also provides commanders at every initiative. However, the commander
company level worthy of our echelon above company with a FSC traveling well forward causes
professional attention. Maneuver who is delegated the necessary authority substantial problems: Accompanied by
warfare hinges on our ability to employ to assist the commander in fire support the fire support group, the commander
combined arms rapidly and effectively. planning and coordination. His duties as creates an obvious signature problem.
Moreover, our doctrine allows for the described in OH 6-2A are “to integrate Moving for survivability in a forward
lowest element leaders to make the ap- fire support effectively into battle plans area, puts fire support personnel at a
propriate battle decisions in order to to optimize combat power.” Individuals distinct disadvantage in seeing the
achieve greater tempo. However, our opposed to designating a company FSC
present policy towards fire support should understand that this assignment
coordination at the lowest level is would not change the company
flawed. Present Marine Corps policy in commander’s responsibility or
Operational Handbook (OH) 6-2A authority. The company commander
states: would still have to train his FSC to

MCI Course 8205A C-5 Chapter 3 Appendix C

S.M. Sullivan, Fire Support, continued

battlefield and performing their to the battalion FSC. Meanwhile, the could improve our combat efficiency
functions effectively. company commander is able to focus by providing a company FSC.
A current example in handling this on supervising priorities of work,
problem is illustrated in light armored walking the lines, compositing fire plan
reconnaissance’s use of the company sketches, and issuing security patrol USMC
executive officer’s vehicle as the warning orders. Experience has shown
company fire support coordination asset that the delegation of fire support
rather than the company commander’s planning and targeting to the weapons
vehicle. Another example is the platoon commander, acting as a
technique of placing the FSC in the company FSC, can be an extremely
support position of a raid. This puts the valuable asset to a company
FSC in the most advantageous position commander in defensive operations.
to control fire support while the The final area in which the
company commander remains with the designation of a company FSC would
assault element of a raid in order to provide the company commander much
oversee the main effort. needed assistance is fire support
Maneuver warfare has generated a training. Maneuver warfare doctrine
greater demand for rapid planning in encourages using better technology
the offense. Battalion commanders whenever possible to increase combat
continue to give an increasing number effectiveness. Today’s company
of fragmentary orders to their company commander possesses more assets and
commanders. The company FSC could potential to employ combined arms in
attend operation order briefings with his maneuver warfare than ever before. In
company commander and use the order to stay abreast of fire support’s
occasion to accomplish essential maximum potential and our
coordination. The Army’s fire support continuously developing procedures, an
team concept makes use of this individual must be fully committed to
technique. While the battalion comman- this vital role.
der gives guidance to his company Assigning a company FSC would
commanders, the battalion FSC briefs give the battalion FSC a better asset for
the company FSCs on the battalion’s training companies in standing
fire support plan. operating procedures and new
Defensive operations is the second techniques. His assignment would
area where the assignment of .a produce a direct company point of
company FSC would provide needed contact focused on fire support
assistance to the company commander. concerns. The weapons platoon
Maneuver warfare advocates that we commander is a logical choice for this
remain on the offense whenever job because each separate weapons
possible. Marines normally assume a system section in weapons platoon is
defensive posture in order to rearm, assigned a dedicated “section leader”
resupply, and prepare for subsequent by the table of organization. Providing
offensive operations. Company the company commander with an FSC
commanders must be prepared to would improve the unit’s proficiency
submit their defensive plan to the and ability to remain current in fire
battalion and receive the next offensive support techniques.
order shortly after assuming the Our stunning success in DESERT
defense. In the short span of time prior STORM and the Marine Corps’ use of
to reporting to the battalion, myriad maneuver warfare and combined arms
tasks must be accomplished. One will continue. Maneuver warfare
possible solution is to have the doctrine calls on us to exploit all
weapons platoon commander act as a advantages possible in order to increase
company FSC and develop supporting our tempo of operations and maintain
arms targets, supporting arms final the initiative. Some may question how
protective fires, and preplanned targets a company commander could delegate
for the company’s local security a tremendously important duty like fire
patrols. Each plan is prepared on its support coordination. It’s simple. He
appropriate overlay for approval by the can’t afford not to. It’s time that the
company commander and submission Marine Corps acknowledges that we

MCI Course 8205A C-6 Chapter 3 Appendix C

Anyone Can Call In Air
by Capt Scott J. Medeiros
The current requirement that forward air controllers be aviators unnecessarily limits the
number of Marines available to direct close air support.

The efficient use of air, artillery, and battalions. Eight serve as battalion air remaining two-thirds of the FAC billets
naval gunfire assets is essential for officers (AOs) and the remaining 16 as do not have a thorough understanding of
success on the battlefield. Artillery FACs. Each battalion gets two FACs the six functions of Marine air, unless
liaison teams, shore fire control parties, and one AO. It is common knowledge they are weapons and tactics instructors
and tactical air control parties (TACPs) however, that two FACs are insufficient (WTIs). It is common knowledge in the
provide expertise in controlling to effectively fight the battalion. Should aviation community that unless a pilot
supporting arms, but the procedures are a course of action require three or more volunteers to be a FAC, the majority of
not difficult and can be executed by maneuver elements, there are not billets are filled by inexperienced
any trained Marine. Standardized enough FACs to augment each element. aviators or those who the commander,
procedural methods have been If a FAC becomes a casualty, the air for one reason or another, would rather
developed to efficiently get rounds or control capability of the battalion’s not have in the cockpit. The knowledge
bombs on target. You do not have to maneuver elements will be cut in half: base the FACs bring to the battalion is
possess an artillery military The easy solution to this problem is to limited. Keeping the battalion
occupational specialty (MOS) or be a increase the number of FACs in the commander abreast of aviation em-
naval officer to control artillery or battalion. A quota of 146 students is ployment is the AO's responsibility. The
naval guns, but you must be an aviator available each year for the TACP AO serves as the air "guru" for the
to call in air. Why? Are the terminal course. Removing the aviator battalion and ensures air ground
control procedures for aircraft so prerequisite would allow more Marines integration and education. Having
difficult that only an aviator can to attend the TACP course, thus nonaviator FACs would not seriously
understand and execute them? Of allowing company commanders, degrade the battalion's air knowledge or
course not; anyone can call in air once platoon commanders, and squad leaders the effectiveness of the air-ground team.
properly trained. The answer to the to become qualified FACs. The Furthermore, the skills required to be a
aviator requirement lies in the MOS battalion would then have enough FAC do not require an aviation
manual. organic FACs and increase its background. The procedural methods
Terminal control of aircraft pro- operational capability. Combat service necessary to control air are taught at the
viding close air support (CAS) to support (CSS) elements are not TACP course and can be mastered by a
ground units is provided by a forward normally assigned FACs. If they need sharp Marine of any grade or MOS. The
air controller (FAC). FACs are trained air support to protect vital rear areas, FAC's responsibilities center around the
at a formal school and are assigned an who is qualified to control it? procedural control of CAS aircraft; little
additional MOS of 7207. However, only Once again, removing the aviator knowledge of the employment of air
aviators can be designated 7207s. The prerequisite would be beneficial by assets is necessary. Fixed-wing or
MOS Manual states: allowing CSS Marines to qualify as helicopter transport pilots receive no
“This MOS is to be assigned as FACs. Will removing the aviators only formal instruction on attack aircraft
an additional MOS only to naval requirement from the FAC billets profiles or procedures during their
aviators and naval flight officers reduce the battalion's organic air- aviation training; yet can become
(NFOs) upon completion of the expertise? Some argue that having qualified FACs. The requisite FAC
Amphibious Tactical Air Control FACs who are pilots and NFOs ensures knowledge is garnered from the formal
Party Course at NAB, Coronado
air ground integration and education. I course of instruction at the TACP
or NAB, Little Creek.”
disagree; the experience level of the course. The required skills are merely
This requirement is unnecessary. A
aviators serving in a majority of FAC procedural methods of
FAC can coordinate and run artillery,
billets is "basic" at best. One-third of
yet he does not have an artillery MOS.
those currently filling billets are
He can coordinate and run naval
relatively "green" first lieutenants with
gunfire, yet he is not a Navy officer and
only one overseas deployment. These
doesn't have a naval gunfire MOS. Why
officers have not had the opportunity to
do Marines have to be aviators to
fully understand their aircraft’s
coordinate and run air? Are aviator
capabilities, let alone all those of the
FACs essential? I don't think so.
Marine air ground task force. It is also
Each year 24 Marine Corps aviators
safe to say that the captains filling the
are assigned to serve with infantry
MCI Course 8205A C-7 Chapter 3 Appendix C
S.J. Medeiros, Call In Air, continued

designating a target and employing air fights, a FAC cannot control CAS as-
for its destruction. Marine air/naval sets effectively enough to support it.
gunfire liaison company (ANGLICO) The time spent getting the FAC "up to
teams routinely use enlisted Marines to speed" on ground tactics and the unit
perform this function. Further, since the cohesiveness built over the year will be
primary method of marking targets is lost when the FAC leaves. The
either mortars or artillery, there is no battalion will then be faced with having
special advantage in employing an to recoup the loss by educating a new
aviator as a FAC. A non-aviator can be FAC in the 6 months prior to its next
taught the required knowledge to deployment. Having FACs who are
become an effective and efficient FAC. ground officers will reduce, if not
Removing the requirement for an eliminate, this problem.
aviation MOS would also benefit the The aviator prerequisite for FAC
squadrons. Today, first tour pilots and certification is unnecessary and in my
NFOs tend to be removed from the opinion unsupported. As a qualified
tactical squadrons at a point that is forward air controller (airborne)
detrimental to their maturation and (FAC(A)) and WTI, I have trained
learning process. This hurts the numerous pilots to be FAC(A)s and
readiness of their squadrons. On aver- understand the skills necessary to be
age, 4 to 6 FAC quotas are received by successful. The skills required to be a
each squadron during the 18 month ground forward air controller do not
lapse between overseas deployments. require an aviation MOS. The old way
Combined with officers leaving the of producing FACs is no longer the
squadron on permanent change of right way. A change should be made to
station orders, one-fifth of the squadron match the needs of the Corps.
is lost each year. This high personnel Experienced aviators must continue to
turnover reduces the squadron's be assigned as AOs, but the aviation
cohesion and readiness. To retain as MOS prerequisite for FACs should be
high a readiness as possible, most removed. The quotas are available and
squadron commanders will not assign the formal course of instruction is
their experienced and talented pilots to already in place to train ground MOS
be FACs. Aviators should not be Marines as FACs. I believe a bold move
prevented from becoming ground is necessary-abolish the naval
FACs, but easing the aviator aviator/NFO requirement. But to satisfy
requirement would allow the tactical the skeptics, I recommend that the
squadrons to build and maintain unit aviation MOS requirement be removed
cohesiveness and readiness. on a "trial basis." If the reports from the
Unit cohesion and readiness at the commanders in the Fleet Marine Force
battalion is also hampered by the avi- are favorable, then revise the MOS
ator requirement. FACs currently serve manual to benefit the tactical squadrons,
in a battalion for 1 year (up to 18 the infantry battalions, and the Marine
months if assigned to ANGLICO). If Corps.
the FAC arrives when the unit returns
from an overseas deployment, another >Capt Medeiros is a UH-1N WTI and
will replace him prior to the battalion's designated FAC(A), with 6 years fleet
next deployment. Valuable training and experience in light/attach helicopter
cohesion will be lost. The only formal squadrons. He is a 1994 graduate of
lice B Warfare School.
ground operations training an aviator
receives, if he has not attended
Amphibious Warfare School, is at The
Basic School. During his ground tour
with the battalion he will need to be
educated in ground tactics. Without a
solid knowledge of how the battalion
MCI Course 8205A C-8 Chapter 3 Appendix C

Estimated 15 minutes
Study Time

Scope This chapter provides a brief description of the anti-armor weapons typically
found in an infantry organization. These weapon systems are generally
employed using one or more of the combined arms methods discussed earlier.
Understanding the capabilities of such weapon systems will enable you to
better utilize such assets in the accomplishment of your mission.

Learning Upon completing this chapter, you should be able to

• Identify the various types of anti-armor weapons in the Marine Corps.

• Identify the characteristics of anti-armor weapons.

In This This chapter contains the following topics.


Topic See Page

Overview 4-1
AT-4 4-2
Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon 4-4
Dragon 4-7
Javelin 4-9
Tube-Launched Optically Tracked Wire-Guided Missile 4-12
Chapter 4 Exercise 4-14

MCI Course 8205 4-1 Chapter 4


Features The M136 AT-4 is the Marine Corps’ primary light antitank weapon. The
M136 AT-4 is a recoilless rifle used primarily by infantry forces for
engagement and defeat of light armor. The recoilless (negligible recoil) rifle
design permits accurate delivery of an 84mm high-explosive anti-armor
warhead. The M136 AT-4 is a lightweight, self-contained anti-armor weapon
consisting of a free flight, fin-stabilized, rocket-type cartridge packed in an
expendable, one-piece, fiberglass-wrapped tube.

Subsequent to the initial fielding of the weapon, a reusable night sight bracket
was developed and fielded. It permits utilization of standard night vision
equipment. The system’s tactical engagement range is 250 meters and has
been used in multiple combat situations. The round of ammunition is self-
contained in a disposable launch tube. The system weighs 15 lbs. and can be
utilized effectively with minimal training.

Operation The M136 AT-4 is portable and is fired from the right shoulder only. The
launcher is watertight for ease of transportation and storage. Unlike the M72-
series LAW, the M136 AT-4 launcher need not be extended before firing.
Although the M136 AT-4 can be employed in limited visibility, the operator
must be able to see and identify the target and estimate the range to it.

Warhead The M136 AT-4 warhead has excellent penetration ability and lethal after-
armor effects. The extremely destructive, 440-gram shaped-charge explosive
penetrates more than 14 inches (35.6 cm) of armor.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-2 Chapter 4

AT-4, Continued


Item Characteristic(s)
Primary Function Light anti-armor weapons
Manufacturer • FV Ordance, Stockholm, Sweden
• Alliant Techsystems, Edina, MN
Launcher Length: 1,020mm (40 inches)
Weight (complete system): 6.7 kg (14.8 lbs)
Rear Sight: Range indicator, graduated in 50-meter
Rocket Caliber: 84mm
Muzzle Velocity: 290 mps (950 fps)
Length: 460mm (18 in)
Weight: 1.8 kg (4 lbs)
Minimum Range Training: 30 meters (90 feet)
Combat: 10 meters (33 feet)
Arming: 10 meters (33 feet)
Maximum Range: 2,100 meters (6,890 feet)
Maximum Effective Range: 300 meters (985 feet)
Penetration: 400mm of rolled homogenous armor
Time of Flight (to 250 meters): less than 1 second
Operating temperature: -104 to +140oF (-40 to +60oC)
Ammunition: Rocket with shaped charge warhead


MCI Course 8205 4-3 Chapter 4

Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon

Mission The mission of the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon (SMAW)

is to destroy bunkers and other fortifications during assault operations, as well
as other designated targets such as light armored vehicles (using dual-mode
rocket) and main battle tanks (using the high-explosive anti-armor [HEAA]

Features The SMAW is a 83mm man-portable weapon system consisting of the

MK153 Mod 0 launcher, the MK3 Mod0 encased HEDP rocket, the MK6
Mod0 encased HEAA rocket, and the MK217 Mod0 spotting rifle cartridge.
The launcher consists of a fiberglass launch tube, a 9mm spotting rifle, an
electro-mechanical firing mechanism, open battle sights, and a mount for the
MK42 Mod0 optical and AN/PVS-4 night sights.

The high explosive, dual-purpose (HEDP) rocket is effective against bunkers,

masonry and concrete walls, and light armor. HEAA rocket is effective
against current tanks without additional armor. The 9mm spotting rounds are
matched ballistically to the rockets and increase the gunner’s first-round hit
probability. Training is accomplished with the MK7 Mod0 encased common
practice rocket and the MK213 Mod0 noise cartridge.

Ancillary The design of the SMAW MK153 Mod0 launcher is based on the Israeli B-
Elements 300 and consists of the launch tube, the spotting rifle, the firing mechanism,
and mounting brackets. The launch tube is fiberglass/epoxy with a gel coat
on the bore. The spotting rifle is a British design and is mounted on the right
side of the launch tube.

The firing mechanism mechanically fires the spotting rifle and uses a
magneto to fire the rocket. The mounting brackets connect the components
and provide the means for boresighting the weapon. The encased rockets are
loaded at the rear of the launcher. The spotting cartridges are stored in a
magazine in the cap of the encased rocket.

MCI Course 8205 4-4 Chapter 4

Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, Continued

Background The SMAW system (launcher, ammunition and logistics support) was fielded
in 1984 as a Marine Corps-unique system. At that time, the SMAW included
the MK153 Mod0 launcher, the MK3 Mod0 HEDP encased rocket, the MK4
Mod0 practice rocket, and the MK217 Mod0 9mm spotting cartridge (spotter
round). The MK6 Mod0 encased HEAA rocket is being added to the

The Mod0 has demonstrated several shortcomings. A series of modifications

is currently planned to address the deficiencies. They include a resleeving
process for bubbled launch tubes, rewriting/drafting operator and technical
manuals, a kit that will reduce environmental intrusion into the trigger
mechanism, and an optical sight modification to allow the new HEAA rocket
to be used effectively against moving armor targets.

Recently fielded were new boresight bracket kits that, when installed, will
solve the loss of boresight problem between launch tube and spotting rifle.
During “Operation Desert Storm,” 150 launchers and 5,000 rockets were
provided to the U.S. Army. Since then, the Army has shown increased
interest in the system.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-5 Chapter 4

Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, Continued


Item Characteristic(s)
Primary Function Portable anti-armor rocket launcher
Length to Carry To Carry: 29.9 inches (75.95 centimeters)
Ready-to-Fire: 54 inches (137.16 cm)
Weight To Carry: 16.6 pounds (7.54 kg)
Ready-to-Fire (HEDP): 29.5 pounds (13.39 kg)
Ready-to-Fire (HEAA): 30.5 pounds (13.85 kg)
Bore diameter 83mm
Maximum effective 1 x 2 Meter Target: 250 meters
range Tank-Size Target: 500 meters
Introduction date 1984


MCI Course 8205 4-6 Chapter 4


Missions The primary mission is to engage and destroy armored and light armored
vehicles. The secondary mission defeat hard targets such as bunkers and field

Features The warhead power of Dragon makes it possible for a single Marine to defeat
armored vehicles, fortified bunkers, concrete gun emplacements, or other hard
targets. The launcher consists of a smoothbore fiberglass tube, breech/gas
generator, tracker and support, bipod, battery, sling, and forward and aft
shock absorbers. Non-integral day and night sights are required to utilize the

The complete system consists of the launcher, the tracker and the missile,
which is installed in the launcher during final assembly and received by the
Marine Corps in a ready to fire condition. The launch tube serves as the
storage and carrying case for the missile. The night tracker operates in the
thermal energy range.

Background The first-generation Dragon, a 1,000-meter effective range system requiring

11.2 seconds flight-to-target time, was developed for the US Army and
fielded in 1970. The Marine Corps initiated a product improvement program
(PIP) in 1985. The PIP, designated Dragon II, was designed to increase
warhead penetration effectiveness by 85%. The Dragon II missile is actually
a retrofit of warheads to the first generation missiles already in the Marine
Corps inventory.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-7 Chapter 4

Dragon, Continued


Item Characteristic(s)
Primary Function Anti-armor weapon system
Manufacturers/Builder • McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and Missile
• Raytheon Corporation
Length Launcher: 45.4 inches (115.32 cm)
Missile: 33.3 inches (84.58 cm)
Weight Ready-to-Fire: 33.9 lbs. (day tracker)
48.7 lbs. (night tracker)
Day Tracker (Sights): 6.75 lbs.
Thermal Night Tracker (w/1 bottle and battery):
21.65 lbs.
Maximum Effective 3,281 feet (1,000 meters)
Time of Flight: 11.2 seconds
Armor Penetration: Will defeat T-55, T-62, or T-72 w/o added armor


MCI Course 8205 4-8 Chapter 4


Mission The Javelin is a man-portable, fire-and-forget antitank missile employed by

dismounted infantry to defeat current and future threat armored combat
vehicles. Javelin is intended to replace the Dragon system in the Army and
the Marine Corps.

Features Javelin has significant improvements over Dragon. The Javelin’s range of
approximately 2,500 meters is more than twice that of its predecessor. The
Javelin has secondary capabilities against helicopters and ground fighting
positions. It is equipped with an imaging infrared (I2R) system and a fire-
and-forget guided missile. The Javelin’s normal engagement mode is top-
attack to penetrate the tank’s most vulnerable armor. It also has a direct-
attack capability to engage targets with overhead cover or in bunkers. Its
“soft launch” allows employment from within buildings and enclosed fighting

The soft launch signature limits the gunner’s exposure to the enemy, thus
increasing survivability. Javelin is also much more lethal than Dragon. It has
a top-attack, dual-warhead capability that can defeat all known enemy armor

Background A January 1978 Anti-Armor Mission Need Statement identified the

deficiencies of the Army's current man-portable, anti-armor weapon, the
Dragon. The Joint Service Operational Requirements document for the
Javelin was approved in 1986 and amended in 1988. The contract for Javelin
EMD was awarded in 1989. The IOT&E, which was completed in December
1993, resulted in the conclusion that the Javelin was effective but required
further assessment for suitability, necessitating follow-on testing in the form
of a Limited User Test (LUT) beginning in April 1996. LRIP was approved
by the DAB in July 1994. There are several Javelin enhanced producibility
program (EPP) changes that are being incorporated in the system to enhance
producibility and reduce cost.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-9 Chapter 4

Javelin, Continued


Item Characteristic(s)
Primary Function Portable anti-armor weapon
Manufacturer Primary contractors:
• Raytheon Corporation
• Lockheed Martin
System Components Command Launch Unit (CLU), Round
General Carry Weight: 49.5 pounds (22.3 kg)
Command Launch Unit Type: Passive target acquisition/fire control,
with integrated day/thermal sight
Carry weight: 14.1 pounds (6.4 kg)
Magnification: Day sight = 4x,
Thermal sight = 4x and 9x
Operation time: 4 hours/battery (hot)
Battery type: BA5590 lithium battery
Round Missile Type: Passive imaging infrared (IIR)
Guidance: Lock-on before launch, automatic
Weight: 21.6 pounds (11.8 kg)
Length: 42.6 inches (1081.2 mm)
Diameter: 5.0 inches (126.9 mm)
Range: 2,500 meters
Warhead: Tandem shaped charge
Propulsion: 2-stage solid propellant
Round Missile: Type: Expendable, container/launch tube
Launch Tube Assembly Weight: 9.0 pounds (4.1 kg)
(LTA): Length: 47.2 inches (1198 mm)
Diameter: 5.6 inches (142.1 mm)

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-10 Chapter 4

Javelin, Continued


MCI Course 8205 4-11 Chapter 4

Tube-Launched Optically Tracked Wire-Guided Missile

Mission Primary mission of TOW is to engage and destroy enemy armored vehicles,
primarily tanks. Secondary mission is to destroy other point targets, such as
non-armored vehicles, crew-served weapons, and launchers.

Features The basic TOW weapon system was fielded in 1970. This system is designed
to attack and defeat tanks and other armored vehicles. It is primarily used in
antitank warfare and is a command to line-of-sight, wire-guided weapon. The
system will operate in all weather conditions and on the “dirty” battlefield.
The TOW 2 launcher is the most recent launcher upgrade. It is compatible
with all TOW missiles. The TOW 2 weapon system is composed of a
reusable launcher, a missile guidance set, and sight system. The system can
be tripod mounted. However because it is heavy, it is generally employed
from the HMMWV and LAV-AT. The missile has a 20-year maintenance-
free storage life. All versions of the TOW missile can be fired from the
current launcher. TOW 2B, the newest member of the TOW family, is a fly-
over, shoot-down missile, with its explosively formed penetrator (EFP)
warheads and is designed to defeat the next-generation advanced armor threat
well into the 21st century. The TOW 2B features a dual-mode sensor and a
new armament section equipped with two warheads substantially different
from those used in other TOW versions.

Background The original TOW missile had a diameter of 5 inches and a range of 3000
meters. Considerable improvements have been made to the missile since
1970. The improved TOW (ITOW) was delivered in 1982. This missile has
a 5-inch diameter warhead and includes an extended probe for greater
standoff and penetration. An enhanced flight motor was included in the
ITOW, increasing the missile's range to 3,750 meters. The TOW 2 series of
improvements includes TOW 2 hardware, TOW 2 missile, TOW 2A missile,
and TOW 2B missile. The TOW 2 hardware improvements included a
thermal beacon guidance system enabling the gunner to more easily track a
target at night and numerous improvements to the missile guidance system
(MGS). The TOW 2 missile has a 6-inch diameter warhead and the extended
probe first introduced with ITOW. The TOW 2B missile incorporates new
fly-over, shoot-down technology.

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-12 Chapter 4

Tube-Launched Optically Tracked Wire-Guided Missile,


Item Characteristic(s)
Primary Function Guided missile weapon system
Manufacturer • Hughes Aircraft (missiles)
• Hughes and Kollsman (night sights)
• Electro Design Mfg. (launchers)
Size: TOW 2A Missile Diameter: 5.87 inches (14.91 cm)
Length: 50.40 inches (128.02 cm)
TOW 2B Missile Diameter: 5.8 inches (14.9 cm)
Length: 48.0 inches (121.02 cm)
Max Effective Range 2.33 miles (3.75)
Armor Penetration T-80 +
Time of Flight to Max 2A: 20 seconds
Effective Range 2B: 21 seconds
Weight Launcher w/TOW 2 Mods: 204.6 lbs (92.89 kg)
Missile Guidance Set: 52.8 lbs (23.97 kg)
TOW 2 Missile: 47.4 lbs (21.52 kg)
TOW 2A Missile: 49.9 lbs (22.65 kg)
TOW 2B Missile: 49.8 lbs (22.60 kg)
Introduction Date 1970


MCI Course 8205 4-13 Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Exercise

Directions Complete the following items. Check your answers against those listed at the
end of this chapter. If you have any questions, refer to the reference page
listed for each item.

Items 1 Matching: For items 1 through 5, match the anti-armor weapon in column1
Through 5 with its characteristic in column 2.

Column 1 Column 2

Anti-armor weapon Characteristic

____ 1. AT-4 a. Fire-and-forget guided missile

____ 2. SMAW b. Spotter round
____ 3. Dragon c. Heavy anti-armor weapon system
____ 4. Javelin d. Recoilless rifle.
____ 5. TOW e. 1,000 meter maximum effective

Continued on next page

MCI Course 8205 4-14 Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Exercise, Continued

Answers The table below lists the answers to the chapter examination items. If you
have questions about these items, refer to the reference page.

Item Number Answer Reference

1 d 4-2
2 b 4-5
3 e 4-8
4 a 4-9
5 c 4-12

MCI Course 8205 4-15 Chapter 4