Previous: B-67: Reconnaissance by Fire
B-68. Fire patterns are a threat-based measure designed to distribute the fires of a unit simultaneously among multiple, similar targets. Platoons use those most often to distribute fires across an enemy formation. Leaders designate and adjust fire patterns based on terrain and anticipated enemy formation. The basic fire patterns, illustrated in figure B-7 (page B-22), include:
- Frontal fires.
- Cross fires.
- Depth fires.
B-69. Leaders may initiate frontal fire when targets are arrayed in front of the unit in a lateral configuration. Weapons systems engage targets to their respective fronts. For example, the left flank weapon engages the left-most target; the right flank weapon engages the right-most target. As weapons systems destroy targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation from near too far.
B-70. Leaders initiate cross fire when targets are arrayed laterally across the unit’s front in a manner permitting diagonal fires at the enemy’s flank, or when obstructions prevent unit weapons from firing frontally. Right flank weapons engage the left-most targets; left flank weapons engage the right-most targets. Firing diagonally across an engagement area provides more flank shots, thus increasing the chance of kills; it also reduces the possibility of the enemy detecting friendly elements should the enemy continue to move forward. As friendly elements destroy targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation.
B-71. Leaders initiate depth fire when enemy targets disperse in-depth, perpendicular to the unit. Center weapons engage the closest targets; flank weapons engage deeper targets. As the unit destroys targets, weapons shift fires toward the center of the enemy formation.
Next: B-72: Target Array
Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad