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Posted on Sep 2, 2006 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 007. Combat Multipliers

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Indirect Lethal Fires

In this section, we are focused on those fire support systems designed to execute death and destruction upon the enemy. Indirect lethal fires go hand and hand with maneuver elements, thus the term fire and maneuver. The maneuver commander employs these systems to support his scheme of maneuver, as a means to mass all his available firepower, and to delay, disrupt, and destroy enemy forces in support of his overall plan. Fire support systems include mortars, field artillery pieces, naval gun fire, and air-delivered weapons.


• Keep your assets as far forward as possible (not too close that they are in enemy direct fire range) in an attack. This assists in command and control, massing your fires when needed, and exploiting the ranges of your weapons.


• Move your assets within the maneuver of the unit. This ensures that they are there when you need them and provides protection for them. Additionally, moving them on their own can restrict the maneuver and operations of your combat maneuver units. A wayward field artillery battery is not a good thing!

• Remember that CAS stands for Close Air Support. Have an integrated plan so that they can facilitate your maneuver.

• In a movement to contact, distribute your assets throughout your formation. Do not take away your flexibility.

• When deciding if you want to conduct an artillery prep of your objective, you must weigh the potential for destruction (enough significant targets) versus losing the element of surprise.

• When conducting artillery prep, you must quickly exploit the effects of the prep with maneuver. Wait too long and you could have awoken a sleeping giant.

• Mortars (available at the lower levels) are your most responsive asset. However, they are easily detectable by counterbattery radar.

• Whenever you “what if’ your plan, determine how fire support can get you out of trouble.

• Use indirect fires to slow or block any enemy retrograde operations so that you may be able to pursue him.


• Utilize fire support systems at maximum ranges to neutralize, suppress and destroy your enemy before he gets into your engagement area. This enables you disrupt his plan, interrupt his command and control, and force him to piecemeal his attack.

• Integrate your use of indirect fires with your direct fire systems. They can not stand alone and be successful. Better yet, integrate them with your use of obstacles.

• Ensure you have a plan to utilize fires in support of any maneuver by your counterattack forces or reserve.

• Reduce the effect of your opponent’s artillery by counterfire. A key element in this is protecting your counterfire radar. These radar systems are susceptible to attack and need protection.

• Use fire support to cover areas you may not be able to defend with direct fire systems or to cover gaps in your obstacles.

• Plan indirect fires on, in front, behind and adjacent to any obstacles you emplace. Obviously, the act of raining artillery on your enemy while he is breaching only adds to the chaos!

• Well-placed and timed fires can canalize your opponent (persuade him to go in a certain direction).

• If you must withdraw from your defensive positions, use indirect fires (and smoke) to assist in your maneuver.

• Again, if you must withdraw have fires planned on the positions you just left. Many enemy units (not the good ones) will gravitate to these positions.

• Ensure you have devised a well-thought out and organized fire plan for the counter-reconnaissance fight.


The use of smoke upon the battlefield is perhaps the most overlooked and misunderstood of the combat multipliers. Use it right and you have given yourself an excellent advantage. Employ it poorly and you are now the one who is at a disadvantage. The maneuver commander who neglects to utilize smoke in his offensive and defensive planning is making a serious mistake. In order to effectively use smoke on the battlefield takes time and expertise. We will devote a following article to the art and science of smoke employment.


• During the breaching of obstacles, the use of smoke can conceal your operations from the enemy.

• The correct use of smoke can assist in achieving tactical surprise. Conversely, the poor use of smoke can immediately alert your foe to your intentions.

• Clever use of smoke can be a critical part of any deception plan. It can direct the enemy’s attention from your main effort.

• Use smoke along your flanks to protect your force.

• Use smoke in the rear of your formation to hide your reserve from the enemy.

• Utilize focused smoke to degrade specific enemy locations or systems right before your attack.

• Use smoke to obscure what you are doing on seized objectives.

• You can use smoke to mark targets or reference points for your forces.

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  1. Good ole Ft. Irwin right there. Even the blueforces know the name Tiefort Mountain.

    Served as OPFOR and a deployment with the 11th ACR in 2005-2006. Good Times.

    Also im loving these articles. Decided to start from the beginning and going strong!

  2. This is a question that I have with regard to Articles 1-7. For all the subsequent articles I have a rough estimation of the relevant Field Manual that provides more in depth consideration of the topics. However with regard to the topics dealt with by Articles 1-7 is there any FM or related document that one can refer to?

    • Depending on your needs, I would humbly suggest a dated reference:


      While of a different era, I find the planning portion that I have read so far to be very helpful for my sim purposes (SB Pro PE).

      • Thanks for the same.