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-