Infantry Drills

1-69: Forward Observer

Previous: 1-68: Habitual Attachments

1-69. The forward observer (FO), along with his RTO, is the platoon subject matter expert on indirect planning and execution. He advises the platoon leadership on the employment and execution for all fire support assets, including company mortars (if assigned), battalion mortars, field artillery, and other allocated fire support assets. He is responsible for locating targets, and calling and adjusting indirect fires. The fire support team also knows the mission and concept of operation, specifically the platoon’s scheme of maneuver and concept of fires, and is the platoon leader’s indirect fire expert. The forward observer also—

  • Informs the fire support team of the platoon situation, location, and indirect fire support requirements.
  • Prepares and uses maps, overlays, and terrain sketches.
  • Calls for and adjusts indirect fires. (See figure 1-6)
  • Operates as a team with the fire support radiotelephone operator.
  • Selects targets to support the platoon’s mission.
  • Selects observation posts and movement routes to and from selected targets.
  • Operates digital message devices and maintains communication with the company and battalion fire support officer (FSO).
  • Maintains grid coordinates of his location.
  • Prepares to employ close air support (CAS) assets. (See figure 1-7)
Figure 1-6. Indirect Fire Request Format
Figure 1-7. Close Air Support 9-Line Request Example

Next: 1-70: Platoon Medic

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