Chapter 7

Fire Control and Distribution

The HMMWV and scout platoons must be able to conduct reconnaissance and security missions. Scout and antitank crews must be able to provide direct-fire support for maneuvering scout vehicles and dismounted patrols. Effective fire control measures are required to avoid fratricide and allow the platoon to retain its freedom of maneuver.

Depending on the situation, fire control and distribution may be accomplished by individual vehicles, sections, or platoons. On many occasions, particularly in defensive operations, the platoon leader will be in a position to direct the fires of the entire platoon. On other occasions, particularly in offensive operations, fire control and distribution may begin at section level; as the situation develops, the platoon leader controls the platoon fires and distributes them effectively.

This chapter provides a standardized way of controlling and directing fires within the HMMWV section, and platoon. It includes the procedures used from the time targets are acquired, through the placement of fires on those targets.

Principles of Fire Control and Distribution

To maximize a platoon’s ability to engage the enemy, leaders must synchronize the fires of all direct-fire weapons and direct-fire assets. The HMMWV scout platoon achieves fire control and distribution through fire plans and fire commands. When developing, refining, and executing fire plans, leaders must apply the following principles:

Standing Operating Procedures

Platoons must establish fire control and distribution SOPs. Squad leaders must remain aware of the tactical situation, maintain contact with dismounted elements at all times, and coordinate with adjacent elements.

A well-rehearsed platoon SOP ensures quick reaction times. The SOP should include area coverage responsibilities and weapons-ready postures for different situations (such as road marches, halts, and various battle drills). Battalion, squadron, or troop SOPs should prescribe the combat load of ammunition, by type and amount. The section leader should prescribe the weapons-ready posture (battlecarry) that makes the best use of available firepower in the present situation.

Situations the section leader should plan for when forming his section SOPs (see ARTEP 17-57-10-MTP) are:

The section should be prepared to engage PCs, suppress ATGMs with machine guns, and engage tanks with TOWs. (TOWs can also be used on BMPs at long ranges.) TOWs are fired from covered and concealed positions. The weapons-ready posture may have to be adjusted, or ammunition redistributed, after an engagement to make sure that vehicles have the ammunition or missiles needed.

Fire Control Measures

Fire control measures are used to coordinate and mass direct and indirect fires in the most efficient manner possible. These measures include: sectors of fire, engagement areas, terrain reference points, phase lines, and engagement priorities. Their use must be routine, with no need for detailed or lengthy instruction.


Sectors of fire are areas that are covered by observation and fire, starting at the weapon system and extending to its maximum effective range. Sectors of fire must overlap with adjacent element's sectors of fire. Plans must be made to cover dead space within and between sectors to maintain coverage.


Engagement areas are enclosed areas that are located away from the weapon system. They are specifically designed to mass fires from several different weapon systems simultaneously. The area should be supported by direct and indirect fires. Obstacles should be used to channel the enemy into the areas of engagement and trap him there.


A TRP is an easily recognizable point on the ground (natural or man-made) used for identifying enemy targets or controlling direct fires. TRPs are used to designate targets of opportunity, shift fire, or assign sectors of fire.

In the defense, TRPs are assigned for vehicles along mounted avenues of approach. In the offense, TRPs are assigned on likely enemy locations or on prominent terrain features. To avoid confusion, the number of TRPs should be limited to the number required to distribute and control fire.

When using a TRP to hand off targets, compass directions (north, east, south, west) are used rather than right or left, because each vehicle may be viewing the TRP from a different direction.

TRPs are indirect-fire targets. The FIST will assign each TRP a target identification number. The target identification number consists of two letters and four numbers (for example, AB5010). These identification numbers are recorded on range cards in the data section for easy reference and control. To simplify fire commands, TRPs may be referred to by the last three digits (for example, TRP AB5010 may be referred to as TRP 010).


A phase line is a simple and effective linear control measure normally used to control movement; it can also be used to control and distribute the fire of several widely separated vehicles. The section leader uses phase lines to indicate to his crews when to fire and when to displace to an alternate position. Any prominent (natural or man-made) linear terrain feature (ridgeline, river or stream, road, or railroad track) can be used as a phase line.

In either offensive or defensive operations, phase lines can be used to start or stop firing simultaneously, shift fire to another sector, or indicate when vehicles are to move to alternate or supplementary positions.


Engagement priorities are high-value targets that, if destroyed, could break an attacking enemy’s momentum or destroy the enemy’s cohesion in the defense.

Fire Distribution

Fire distribution is a combination of fire patterns and control methods used to effectively distribute direct fire from multiple weapon systems on several targets.


There are three basic fire patterns that can be used to distribute fire when engaging multiple targets: frontal fire, cross fire, and depth fire.


There are four basic methods that may be used to control fires: simultaneous fire, massed fires, observed fire, and alternating fires.

Platoon Fire Planning

Platoon fire planning begins when the platoon leader receives his mission. Fire planning is a continuous process; it does not stop until the platoon’s mission is accomplished. Fire planning prescribes fire control and distribution for all available weapons to support the scheme of maneuver. Fire planning must also include planning for indirect fires.


Defensive fire planning is normally deliberate and detailed because time is available. To develop a defensive fire plan, the platoon leader--


It will not be possible to develop fire plans for offensive operations in the same degree of detail as for defensive operations. Extensive use of map and leader reconnaissance, TRPs, platoon targets, and platoon SOPs will assist the platoon leader in developing his plan. When developing offensive fires, the platoon leader must consider many aspects of the operation, such as:

Platoon and Section Fire Commands

The platoon or section leader must quickly analyze a situation and issue concise and complete fire commands without delay. The standard platoon or section fire command consists of the following elements:

Weapon/Ammunition. "MACHINE GUNS"
Description. "TRUCK AND TROOPS"
Location. "TRP 0034"
Control. "FRONTAL"
Execution. "AT MY COMMAND"