Infantry Drills

C-22: Fire Planning the Offense

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C-22. Offensive fire planning follows the same methodology as defensive fire planning within constraints of the situation. The main difference is offensive fire planning always includes the synchronization between the base of fire and maneuver element. Inevitably, the leader’s plan will not be as detailed as the defensive plan, but the presence of a maneuver element requires a baseline of planning and control to ensure indirect fire support is effective and efficient.

C-23. The leader must plan how he will engage known or suspected enemy targets, where friendly suppressive fire may be needed, and how he will control the unit’s fires against both planned targets and targets of opportunity. Fire planning should include a thorough analysis of the type of threat expected. This will aid the supporting friendly element in tailoring the weapon and ammunition requirements to suit the situation.

C-24. Offensive fire planning supports four phases: planning and preparation, approach to the objective, actions on the objective, and follow-through. The degree of completeness and centralization of offensive fire planning depends on the time available to prepare the offensive. Fires are planned in four locations on the battlefield short of the LD/LC, LD/LC to the objective, on the objective, and behind the objective. Table C-3 lists planning considerations for each of the four locations.

Table C-3. Planning considerations

C-25. Offensive fire planning is divided into two categories 􀊊 preparatory and supporting fires. The concept of fires has artillery and mortars in support of an attack to gain and maintain fire superiority on the objective until the last possible moment. When this indirect fire ceases, the enemy should be stunned and ineffective for a few moments. Take full advantage of this period by executing any or all of the following:

  • Combat vehicles. Vehicles used in the attack, or as direct fire support, continue to give close support.
  • Maintaining fire superiority. Small-arms fire from local and internal support by fire is continued as long as possible.
  • Maneuver elements. Assaulting troops must try to fire as they advance. Troops must observe fire discipline, as in many cases fire control orders will not be possible. They must not arrive at the objective without ammunition.
  • Audacity. Where the ground and vegetation do not prohibit movement, leading sections should move quickly over the last 30 or 40 meters to the enemy positions to minimize exposure.

C-26. When planning fires for the offense, leaders verify the fire element’s task organization and ensure their plans coordinate measures for the attack, site exploitation, pursuit, and contingency plans. Leaders develop or confirm with the responsible level authority supporting systems are positioned and repositioned to ensure continuous fires throughout the operation. Mutual support of fire systems promotes responsive support and provides the commanders of maneuver units freedom of action during each critical event of the engagement or battle.

C-27. There exists a diverse variety of munitions and weapon systems, direct and indirect, to support close offensive missions. To integrate direct and indirect fire support, the leader must understand the mission, commander’s intent, concept of the operation, and critical tasks to be accomplished. The leader plans fires to focus on enemy capabilities and systems being neutralized. Critical tasks include:

  • Continuous in-depth support (accomplished by proper positioning of systems).
  • Isolating enemy forces.
  • Softening enemy defenses by delivering preparatory fires.
  • Suppressing and obscuring enemy weapon systems to reduce enemy standoff capabilities.
  • Interdicting enemy counterattack forces, isolating the defending force, and preventing its reinforcement and resupply.

Next: Section II – Target Effects Planning

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