Version 1 / 3min read / Updated Tue 25 Feb 2020 / 466 views
The Forward Observer
The Forward Observer is the platoon's direct link to artillery support. He is tasked with calling for fire in accordance with the Platoon Commander's direction, adjusting fire, and generally being all things artillery. The proper use of artillery requires that the person calling it in is knowledgeable on the previously-listed aspects (and more) and is competent as a "Forward Observer". Artillery in the hands of a skilled FO is a huge asset, whereas without that skill the artillery will only end up churning dirt and making loud but ineffective noises.
Forward Observer Tips
Get a good perspective.
Calling for accurate fire oftentimes (but not always) requires you to see what you're trying to hit. Adjusting fire requires that you can not only see the impact area, but can also view it from a perspective where you can accurately gauge depth. This usually means that you will need to be at a higher elevation than whatever you're directing fire on.
Don't pick an obvious observation point.
There were very few church steeples that survived World War II in western Europe. While such a position gives you a commanding view of the terrain, it also sticks out like a sore thumb and tends to attract all manner of enemy fire, particularly of the high-explosive variety. The use of tall structures must be considered carefully - the benefit is observation, the downside being an obvious target to the enemy.
Try to predict where the enemy will go, where they might halt to regroup, and what lanes they'll attack through when in the defense.
Pre-plotting targets in these areas will allow for you to be more responsive with your artillery fire. Establishing reference targets also allows for friendly forces to more easily call for quick-reaction artillery strikes on pre-established locations.
Know your round types, fuze types, gun/battery types, sheaf options, and fire options, and take advantage of them.
A good FO will know how best to utilize his artillery assets to maximize their effects on the enemy.
Coordinate closely with infantry units at all times.
Pay particular attention to coordination when suppressing the enemy while friendly forces move up to assault. You want to maintain artillery fire on the enemy unit the maneuvering friendly elements are close enough to the objective to assault it immediately after the artillery fire is lifted. Failure to do this can result in heavy casualties for an assault force, as the enemy potentially will be able to recover in time to attempt to repel the assault.
Know the different types of artillery and how to employ them effectively.
Mortars, howitzers, and MLRS systems all have distinct characteristics and uses.
Know how to adjust fire.
Be familiar with concepts like "Bracketing", firing spot rounds, calling in adjustments to human players, and so on.
Forward Observer & Artillery Terms
This is sent from the firing unit once the first rounds are fired. The FO at that point knows that rounds are on the way. The FO can use this term to communicate to his platoon that a friendly artillery unit has begun firing.
This is sent from the firing unit five seconds before the first rounds impact. The FO at this point should observe the impact area to watch the effects of the artillery. Adjustments will be called if necessary to get the rounds on target. When Splash is called, all friendly units within "danger close" distance of the target should ensure that they are in good cover in case the rounds are off.
Firing unit has fired all rounds for the fire mission. Depending on the number of rounds and the trajectory used, "Rounds Complete" can sometimes come before the first round ever hits.
A Sandstorm MLRS battery begins a fire mission at night
UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP) are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
- US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
- Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
- The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills (FM 3-21.75 / FM 21-75)
- Leadership Development (FM 6-22)
- Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)