Fire Support for Digitized Division Operations
Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures


Chapter 4

Operational Concepts


The commander determines how to shape the battlespace by knowing the conditions required to facilitate decisive operations and force protection. The conditions must be described in the context of what freedom of action is required in time, space and purpose. The condition of time can either be described as a specific temporal period (e.g., 6 hours) or by defining a tempo of operations. The condition of space includes all relevant dimensions of land, sea, air and outer space. The conditions relate to friendly forces, enemy forces or the environment. The purpose describes how completion of the task will facilitate freedom of action for the commander.

The process of defining essential conditions for decisive operations and force protection are central to battle command. This process differs from current planning primarily through the commander's ability to exploit information technology--the rapid assessment of massive volumes of information tailored to the commander's needs: unprecedented access to supporting staffs and databases, and the means to test the commander's assessments through interactive computer-supported wargaming and rehearsals.

Once the commander determines conditions that must exist, tasks are selected to set conditions. Tasks are active measures designed to influence a specific volume of space, enemy force or specific element within the force. The commander exploits information operations to more precisely identify the key targets that must be influenced to achieve the desired conditions.

A key element in determining tasks is ensuring they meet the criteria of suitability, acceptability, and feasibility. Tasks are analyzed using a methodology of "decide, detect, track, deliver and assess." First, the commander decides what needs to be done and if the action will result in a suitable outcome. Next, he determines if the tasks are feasible by evaluating his ability to detect, track and deliver against the selected target with the assets available. Finally, the commander determines if he can assess the results of his efforts and achieve an acceptable outcome.

The commander integrates the tasks required to shape the battlespace into a synchronized plan. While commanders exploit new technology and information operations to determine tasks more precisely and efficiently, they will not have perfect knowledge. Even if such a capability could be achieved, no enemy would sit passively and allow his opponent to fully exploit such an advantage. Rather, commanders organize their activities to create windows of advantage and establish the conditions for decisive operations. The commander sequences the execution of tasks to maximize these opportunities.


The following list serves as a guide for determining tasks to shape the battlespace.


Combined arms task forces are temporary organizations formed to provide a unique combination of sensors (hunters) and attack systems (killers) to engage specific enemy forces or functions. Their use constitutes economy of force operations. Their purpose is to defeat, limit, or divert enemy forces in order to establish conditions where friendly commanders have greater freedom of action for when, where and how they direct their main effort. These operations are designed to exploit the capabilities of advanced sensors, dynamic obstacles and brilliant munitions. Combined arms task forces differ from traditional task forces in that they are not designed to seize terrain. They only have sufficient combined arms assets to ensure that the force can position, sustain and protect its hunter-killer systems. These operations are best suited to dispersed, nonlinear battlefields where the enemy cannot predict the time and place of engagement. Commanders employ the advantages of information dominance to determine the optimum mix of forces for the specific assigned task. Digital systems are employed to provide the tailored command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) required to plan, rehearse and command combined arms task force operations.

Corps and division commanders establish the requirements for these operations. Dependent on the mission, combined arms task force operations can best be conducted by battalion or brigade size organizations. Existing headquarters provide command and control. The divisional cavalry squadron, a field artillery brigade and the aviation brigade are well suited to direct such operations. Maneuver brigades may also form a combined arms task force. The choice of the headquarters to command and control the combined arms task force is dependent on the force makeup. A fires-based or FA heavy task force might best be headquartered by an FA C2 element. Battalion-size forces will usually only perform very limited missions of short duration.

Force XXI operations emphasize current planning and agile, flexible execution. Commanders will use their automated systems to maintain current "running estimates" that will facilitate rapid mission analysis. Based on their initial intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), commanders may design several possible task force options and retain them as part of their running estimate. These options should include the capabilities and limitations of the force, potential missions, and possible task organizations. These options could be used as a ready start point for designing combined arms task forces to support branches or sequels to planned current operations or for contingency missions.

Split-based operations are key to successful combined arms task force operations. These staffs will probably not have all the resident expertise to plan and conduct these special operations. In particular, they will probably need augmentation in intelligence and sustainment planning. While commanders may attach liaison teams to perform these functions, the preferred method is to task an existing staff with the resident expertise to provide the staff support to the combined arms task force through the force's digital systems.

Combined arms task forces should be designed to require a minimum of "protection forces". They should exploit shared situational awareness understanding to avoid threats. To enhance survivability, they may be augmented with ground and air reconnaissance to provide greater situational awareness in their operational area. In addition, combined arms task forces can link their attack systems to the attached reconnaissance to provide self-protection fires. To increase the flexibility of employment, these forces can be augmented with point close in air defense capability. METT-T factors may require augmentation by engineer support.

Combined arms task force operations often require linking lethal and non-lethal fires. They might require a precision electronic warfare (EW) capability. This capability can be provided by assigning ground or air based divisional systems to support the task force or support from joint assets.

Sustainment is a key consideration in combined arms task force operations. Where feasible, forces should be designed so that unique sustainment procedures are not required. Ideally, task forces would be logistically self-contained for essential supplies for the duration of the mission. Special consideration must be given to supporting operations at extended ranges. Air resupply may often be the best technique to ensure continuity of supply for combined arms task force operations. Logistical forces may require augmentation for protection. One technique is to maneuver sustainment forces in proximity to combat forces so that the sustainment force operates under the protective envelope of the combat force. Another technique is to attach small reconnaissance elements to the sustainment force to help them avoid threats. Commanders may also establish forward bases specifically for the purpose of sustaining combined arms task forces. Logistics planning should consider support requirements for possible branches and sequels to the mission.

Communications will often be the greatest limiting factor in determining the feasibility, capabilities and limitations of the combined arms task force. Special consideration must be given to the requirement to link to joint systems to conduct joint precision strikes. Combined arms task force operations may require augmentation by long range, space based communications.

Planning combined arms task forces operations must be thoroughly integrated into the commanders MDMP tactical military decision making process. These forces require decentralized planning and execution. Commanders must determine the optimum time and place to establish, employ and reintegrate task force assets into their force. Failure to synchronize combined arms task force operations with the employment of the whole force could lead to a loss of unity of command and "piece mealing" combat power. Commanders must determine triggers for establishing, controlling and discontinuing operations.


The following steps outline procedures a corps or division fire support and DIVARTY would utilize when conducting combined arms task force operations:

Determine the Tactical Task

Identify the Requirement for a Combined Arms Task Force

Determine the Key Functions Required

Identify what sensors and attack systems are needed to achieve the end-state described in the tactical task.

Determine the Support Functions Required

Determine C2

Determine Integrated C4I

Wargame and Integrate into the Overall Plan

Prepare and Rehearse Operations

Conduct Combined Arms Task Force Operations

Recover and Transition to Future Operations


The following is one example of how combined arms task force operations might be conducted. The Division Artillery acts as the force headquarters with attached units from the Force XXI Division.

Force XXI Commanderís Intent for Combined Arms Task Force

The Division Commander and staff determine that it is necessary to maneuver a field artillery force deep to defeat the Army Artillery Group (AAG). Additionally the artillery force is tasked to provide fires in support of the Aviation Brigades deep attack to defeat the Armyís independent tank regiment (ITR). The combined arms task force is further tasked to establish a secure forward arming and refueling point (FARP) to support the aviation brigadeís deep strike against the ITR.

Concept of Operations

The DIVARTY is selected to command the operation based on the combined arms task forces primary mission of defeating the enemy using indirect fires. Its inherent ability to exercise command and control over attached FA, combat and combat support units and its ability to maintain situational awareness understanding with the TAC CP are contributing factors to the Division Commanders selection of the DIVARTY as the combined arms task force headquarters. The DIVARTY commander tasks the FA Bde 1 (-) to act as the counterfire headquarters and to provide GSR fires to the division during the combined arms task force operations. FA Bde 2 (-) is given a R mission to the divisions main effort (Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1. Concept of Operations

Task Organization

Division Artillery, Combined Arms Task Force Headquarters:

FA Bde 1 (R ID Mech) CF HQ:

FA Bde 2 (R 1BCT):

Movement to Attack Position (Figure 4-2)

The division cavalry squadron is given the mission of guarding the axis of advance of the combined arms task force. The squadron employs its two air troops to guide the combined arms task force providing early warning and the combat assets necessary to eliminate enemy forces within the axis of advance. The ground troops act as flank and rear security of the main body of artillery forces.

The mech task force moves in a modified wedge formation as the lead elements of the combined arms task force. Their mission is to destroy any enemy formations identified by the air troops that cannot be safely bypassed.

The cannon battalion moves in battery formation deploying into a modified wedge or box formation when notified by the air troop of a requirement for indirect fire support. Intent is to have the cannon battalion immediately responsive to all calls for fire from any of the ground maneuver forces. Priority of fire support during the movement to the attack position is to the air troops, ground troops and finally the mech task force.

The main body of the combined arms task force consisting of the DIVARTY HQ, the division MLRS Bn, MLRS, Avenger platoon and the aviation CSS detachment will move on separate routes in battalion columns. Intent is to maintain a tight formation that allows the units to tuck in as tight as possible behind the cannon batteries.

Division sensors will focus on the axis of advance to positively identify the location of enemy forces within the axis. The intent for the combined arms task force is to move undetected and identify any enemy air defense assets along the axis of advance. These targets will be fired in the fire plan in support of the aviation brigades deep strike against the ITR.

Figure 4-2. Movement to Attack Position

Conduct of Combined Arms Task Force (Figure 4-3)

The combined arms task force occupies attack position, sets out the guard maneuver force, establishes the aviation FARP and deploys the Avenger platoon to guard against enemy fixed and rotary wing air threats.

The common ground station attached to the combined arms task force assumes the duty of tracking the AAG. It uses UAV cross-cueing from the JSTARS tasked in support of the division to locate the enemy artillery who will be march column approaching its designated firing positions. Using Advanced Quick Fix (AQF) and the Guardrail Common Sensor the ACE is tasked to find the AAG command post for destruction by indirect or direct fires.

The combined arms task force uses precision guided ATACMS II and IIA missiles with BAT submunitions to deliver the initial salvo into the enemies deepest firing battalions still in march formation. The combined arms task force uses SADARM pre-product planned improvement (P3I) and guided MLRS rockets to engage the initial elements of the AAG in or closing on their pre-selected firing positions. A combination of smart submunitions all impacting simultaneously into the enemy formation would create sufficient chaos to generate bottlenecks along the enemy avenues of approach creating windows of opportunity for continuous volleys of both MLRS-ER and guided rockets, SADARM P3I and ATACMS II missiles.

To ensure complete destruction of the remaining firing elements, the combined arms task force commander deploys the two air troops of the division cavalry squadron to battle position (BP) CAV. The mission of the air troop is to confirm the enemy is in the prescribed kill box and to complete the destruction of remaining C2 nodes of the AAG. The cannon battalionís first priority is to answer calls for fire for the air troops. , followed by the mechanized task force and finally to support the combined arms task force with SADARM P3I missions into the AAG.

Figure 4-3. Conduct of Combined Arms Task Force

The UAVs in conjunction with the air troops visual confirmation of the target area acts as the trigger to lift and shift fires within the kill box and to confirm the destruction of the AAG.

As the aviation brigade completes its refueling at BP Ivy Thunder and starts its movement along the prescribed air axis of advance, the combined arms task force shifts its focus to the ambush of the ITR. UAVs cross-cued from JSTARS act as the eyes for the aviation brigades movement to the ambush positions. ATACMS fires from the combined arms task force and FA Bde 1 are concentrated on the lead echelons at the prescribed target areas of interest (TAIs) to create confusion and attrit the lead tank battalions. Fires are used to block, destroy and herd the enemy formations into selected engagement areas of slow-go terrain where the attack battalions of the aviation brigade have set up a series of ambushes. Fires are repeated at selected targets to help disengage the aviation brigade and to cycle fresh attack battalions into the fight.

Once the commanderís intent for fires has been met, the combined arms task force reforms in BP Ivy Thunder for movement to its follow-on assembly area (AA). Movement to the assembly area is conducted in the same manner as the move to the BP. Once the units close on the AA, the combined arms task force is disbanded, rearmed and moves to position itself for the follow-on mission.


One of the distinct advantages of an information dominant force is the capability to use battlefield knowledge to dictate the terms of engagement. The enemy will attempt to counter this advantage by operating within our cycle of decide, detect, deliver and assess. Sensor-to-shooter TTP is designed to provide the capability to engage the enemy in the minimum time possible and take away his ability to operate inside the friendly commander's decision cycle.


To provide the capability to rapidly engage targets with lethal fires by establishing unique procedures for processing information to meet the requirements of a specific tactical situation.


Clearance of fires, striking targets at the time, place and with affects that support the commander's intent, while precluding collateral damage to friendly forces and non-combatants is a constant imperative in any engagement. Sensor-to-shooter engagements are planned to ensure clearance of fires. This is accomplished through the establishment of positive control measures (e.g. fire support coordination measures) or through the exploitation of situational awareness understanding.

Sensor-to-shooter engagements are planned using the decide, detect, deliver, assess methodology. Weapons-target paring is a critical aspect of planning the target engagement. Planners consider the total system errors associated with finding processing and attacking the target (including the target location error; posture of target; dwell time; attack system responsiveness; weapons effects and circular error probable (CEP)). Planners also conduct an acquisition to assessment time analysis to determine if the acquisition to assessment timeline will allow the target to be attacked and the results effectively evaluated with the systems available.

Sensor-to-shooter will frequently be employed with other shape the battlespace TTPs such as combined arms task force, or ambushes or joint precision strike.

Commander requires enhanced situational awareness understanding to determine where and when to employ sensor-to-shooter. In particular, ensure protection of attack, command and control and target acquisition systems from disruption or manipulation during sensor-to-shooter attack operations.

Sensor-to-shooter engagements are integrated with other combat activities. Sensor-to-shooter requirements are weighed against the requirements for support to the other elements of the force. In addition, sensor-to-shooter engagements are not limited to specific systems or levels of command. They are based wholly on the situation and the resources available to the commander.


Figure 4-4 illustrates an example sensor-to-shooter link established with the command and attack division MLRS battalion. The DOCC at the TAC serves as the sensor interface. In this example situation the division determines speed of response and requirements for precision guided munitions make the command and attack division MLRS battalion a logical shooter. Table 4-1 provides procedures for setting up AFATDS guidances for sensor-to-shooter shaping operations at the TAC.

Figure 4-4. Sensor-to-Shooter Execution Links

Table 4-1. Sensor-to-Shooter Battle Drill Checklist


The capabilities of long range, smart and brilliant precision weapons combined with the employment of dynamic obstacles will allow commander to expand their capability to conduct tactical combined arms ambushes with fires and maneuver. The combined arms ambush is a simultaneous surprise attack by aviation, FA and air force fires combined with dynamic obstacles upon an enemy force that is conducting the approach march. It defeats or destroys a large enemy force in a very short period of time.


To attrit enemy forces and obtain a favorable correlation of forces and means for the maneuver of friendly forces creating windows of opportunity for decisive direct fire engagements.


The key to successful engagements is to fix the enemy in posture where they are vulnerable to the affects of precision, long-range forces. Dynamic obstacles may be employed to shape the engagement. In addition, attack systems can be used as "beaters"--where lethal attacks are employed to force the enemy to react in a certain manner that facilitates the engagement by direct fire systems. A graphic illustration of a combined arms ambush employing fires from a divisionís two reinforcing field artillery brigades and combat aviation brigade (CAB) in conjunction with maneuver and dynamic obstacles is shown in Figure 4-5.

Mass is essential in the combined arms ambush technique. The objective should be to employ as much firepower as possible in the minimum time to intensify the demoralizing effects of the attack. In particular the force may employ joint lethal and non-lethal assets in concert with attack aviation and long artillery and missile fires to overwhelm the enemy in a "swarm" attack. The staff integrates their planning with any joint attack or targeting assets that are supporting the joint precision strike. They identify requirements to higher headquarters/JTF for authority to redirect joint target acquisition and attack assets required to support the strike. Operational security (OPSEC) is maintained to ensure surprise. In particular, the force protects digital communications and global positions systems (GPS). The division assigns responsibility for the execution of a combined arms ambush to a subordinate force (e.g., aviation brigade, DIVARTY, armor and infantry brigades).

Figure 4-5. Combined Arms Ambush Example



The objectives of joint precision strike are to accurately and responsively attack time sensitive high pay-off targets.


To provide the commander the means to influence the enemy with precise, lethal fires that maximize the employment of all the assets available to the joint force.


The fundamentals of joint precision strike are based on the decide, detect, deliver and assess methodology. This process is interactive and ongoing during the course of the operation to take the maximum advantage of information dominance.

In the decide phase, high pay-off targets are derived that support the execution of specified tasks which will set the conditions for decisive operations. In addition, the staff decides how the targets are to be acquired, to what accuracy, for how long and when the target will be attacked. The staff also decides how they will assess the affects of the strike as well as the actions to be taken based on the results of the engagement. During this phase the staff integrates their planning with any joint attack or targeting assets that are supporting the joint precision strike. They identify requirements to higher headquarters/joint task force (JTF) for authority to redirect joint target acquisition and attack assets required to support the strike.

Weapons-target paring is a critical aspect of planning the target engagement. Planners consider the total system errors associated with finding, processing and attacking the target (including the target location error; posture of target; dwell time; attack system responsiveness; weapons effects and CEP). Planners also conduct an acquisition to assessment time analysis to determine if the acquisition to assessment timeline will allow the target to be attacked and the results effectively evaluated with the systems available.

Joint precision strike may be combined with other TTPs (e.g. sensor to shooter, combined arms task forces) to support shaping the battlespace.