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Massed Precision Fires-A New Way of Thinking


For the massed precision fires missions, time of flightisnottheonly consideration, butalso launch axis, flight path, way points and airspace deconfliction. Because the Army and FA cannot guarantee the presence of a Fires brigade, the ability to conduct massed fires using precision munitions is a task that each Fires battalion must be able to accomplish.

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									Massed Precision Fires—
A New Way of Thinking
      uring the Meuse-Argonne cam-                                                               tillery in an area to neutralize or destroy
      paign (26 September to 11 No-                   By Vincent R. Bielinski                    enemy targets.
      vember 1918), 20,000 guns firing                                                             The final “nail in the coffin” of massed
a three-hour preparation supported the                                                           fires is the development and fielding of
initial nine-division assault. The Field       Everyone, even experienced Artillery              precision munitions. There is no need to
Artillery’s (FA’s) role was to provide         commanders, left impressed.                       expend large amounts of “dumb” artil-
close support to the maneuver forces,            Today’s Enviornment. Today, however,            lery rounds—those following an unaided
which it tried to accomplish through           FA no longer masses a large number                ballistic trajectory—into an area when a
massive doses of indirect fire planned         of rounds fired from dozens of guns to            single precision munitions can achieve
ahead in great detail and delivered with       engage targets. Modularity is one of the          the desired effect.
as much flexibility as communications          principle reasons. The Army no longer               But are massed fires truly consigned to
and command and control permitted at           has the number of division artilleries or         history? Or is there just another way of
the time. Mass was the key to success          corps artilleries with several FieldArtillery     thinking about massed fires? How can
(See Donald E. Ingalls, “Artillery Inno-       brigades and their subordinate battalions         FA mass fires using precision munitions?
vations in WWI” Field Artillery Journal,       as in the past.                                   At first, the questions seem rhetorical
September-October 1974, 54-57).                  Now, most Fires battalions are organic          because of the argument that “precision
  Those golden years of massing fires and      to their brigade combat teams, and the            weapons were the final coffin nail” of
honing their execution during the follow-      division commander seldom takes them              massed fires. However “how do we
ing decades remain a fond memory of            away from the brigade commander to                achieve the effects of massed fires using
every Artilleryman. The Capability Exer-       mass fires. Division commanders may               a small number of precision munitions”
cises held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, between     receive a Fires brigade to support its            is the actual question?
1987 and 1991, for Artillery students and      force, but the number and type of units
even for Command and General Staff             within that Fires brigade is tailored to
College students from Fort Leavenworth,        the division’s mission.
Kansas, displayed the might of the Field         The second argument against massed
Artillery as the fires of a dozen battalions   fires is the contemporary operations
massed on a single “Time on Target” fire       FA supports. The rules of engagement
mission. Maneuver commanders also              (ROE) and the requirement to minimize
                                                                                                Precision Guidance Kit Fuze on a 155-mm
were included so they could witness the        collateral damage in most cases prevent
                                                                                                “dumb” Artillery round
awesome might of the King of Battle.           the employment of large amounts of ar-

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