Infantry Drills

C-15: Fire Planning the Defense

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C-15. To develop a defensive fire plan, the leader—

  • Assigns primary and secondary sectors from primary and alternate position to each subordinate.
  • Designates unit point or area targets and other control measures, such as target registration points, to coordinate the fire when more than one subordinate is firing into the same engagement area or area of operations.
  • Receives target information from subordinates (normally provided on areas of operations sketches or individual weapon range cards). The leader reviews this target information to ensure fire is equally distributed across the entire unit’s area of operations and sufficient control measures are established.
  • Completes the unit’s fire plan and gives a sketch to his higher headquarters.

C-16. In defensive missions, fires are planned in three locations – in front of the unit’s position, on the position final protective fires, and behind the position. Figure C-7 shows fires massed in front of a company-sized position. Fire plans are best developed using the seven steps of engagement area development technique:

  1. Identify likely enemy avenues of approach.
  2. Identify the enemy scheme of maneuver.
  3. Determine where to kill the enemy.
  4. Emplace weapon systems.
  5. Plan and integrate obstacles.
  6. Plan and integrate indirect fires
  7. Conduct rehearsals.
Figure C-7. Company defense fire plan sketch

C-17. The engagement area is the place where the leader intends to destroy an enemy force using the massed fires of all available weapons. The success of engagements depends on how the leader can integrate the obstacle and indirect fire plans with his direct fire plan in the engagement area to achieve the unit’s purpose. Completing the steps of engagement area development is not a lengthy process. Particularly at the Infantry platoon level, engagement area development can occur rapidly without an elaborate decision-making process.

Next: C-18: Platoon Fire Planning

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad