One of the most important jobs the
current operations section performs
is processing and quality control of
air support requests (ASRs) for close
air support (CAS). This increases the
level of force protection for all TFs
in the AOR and allows units greater
flexibility of movement.
US Air Force Photo by MSgt Lance Cheung
Current Operations Section of the
Modular Brigade FEC in Afghanistan
peration Enduring Freedom (OEF) By Captain Terrence A. Adams Finally, one of the most important jobs
has entered the seventh phase of the current operations section performs
operations in Afghanistan, and a lenges in the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Di- is processing and quality control of air
new type of unit has entered that bat- vision, while deployed to Afghanistan. support requests (ASRs) for close air
tlespace: the modular design infantry Current Operations Section Respon- support (CAS). This increases the level
brigade combat team (IBCT). It has the sibilities and Manning. The current of force protection for all TFs in the
ability to obtain specific effects, not just operations section includes a captain, two AOR and allows units greater flexibility
generate raw combat power. sergeants first class, four Soldiers and Air of movement.
One of the IBCT’s main components Force joint terminal attack controllers Supervising the clearance of fires for
is the fires and effects cell (FEC), which (JTACs). It is responsible for coordinat- the TFs is another important function
recently was renamed the brigade fire sup- ing, gathering and managing the task of the brigade FEC current operations
port cell (FSC). The FEC is responsible for forces’ (TFs’) lethal fires assets to ensure section. The requesting battalion’s fire
coordinating not only lethal fires, such as mission success and the highest level of direction center (FDC) and tactical op-
artillery, but also nonlethal effects. These force protection. Its other responsibili- erations center (TOC) are responsible
nonlethal effects include information ties include quality control of airspace for clearing fires in their battlespace.
operations (IO), psychological operations control measure requests (ACMRs) for The brigade helps clear fires only when
(PSYOP), public affairs (PA) and civil- restricted operating zones (ROZs), in- the battalion cannot reach an agency
military operations (CMO). formation management operations and required to clear the fires. These are
There is little doubt that the FEC has en- assistance for TFs with troops-in-contact. agencies such as a civilian air agency,
hanced the IBCT’s capabilities. With the Tracking all fire support assets in country military fixed- or rotary-wing, or other
advent of the FEC came the requirement from M198s down to 60-mm mortars is Coalition forces.
for the current operations section, which an additional duty. The current operations section is not
only is stood up during deployments. The current operations section also permanently manned—it only forms
The responsibilities and manning of the tracks target acquisition assets in the when the brigade deploys. When the
current operations section is diverse and TF’s area of responsibility (AOR). These brigade is in garrison and not perform-
often complex. But even with the new assets range from Q-36 and Q-37 Fire- ing its wartime functions, the members
manning and technology, the current ops finder radars to the unattended transient of the current operations section are part
section faces challenges. acoustic measurement and signature of the lethal and nonlethal fires sections
This article discusses the FEC current intelligence (MASINT) system, called within the FEC.
operations section operations and chal- UTAMS. According to the modified table of
44 July-August 2006 Field Artillery
organization and equipment (MTOE), The system we finally developed con- then forwarded to the battlefield coordi-
the captain or officer-in-charge (OIC) solidated all requests for a specific date nation detachment (BCD).
of the current operations section is the and let one shift handle them. This system Just because a request has been sub-
brigade fire control officer (FCO). When worked well and ensured that all requests mitted to the brigade FEC doesn’t mean
the section is stood up, this officer’s main had been inspected for mistakes by two the ACM is, or will be, approved and
responsibility is to supervise the current sets of eyes before they were forwarded established. TFs have made the mistake
operations personnel. He ensures that all to division for processing. of submitting requests and then imme-
brigade TFs have the fire support assets Another problem that quickly presented diately assuming the ACMs in AFATDS
they need to accomplish their missions. itself was Soldiers’and leaders’lack of for- have been established.
This means ensuring that all ASRs are mal training in completing and inspecting This initially proved to be a challenge,
prioritized and processed. ASRs. Our Air Force counterparts solved but after a few cases of ACMs being
In addition to daily battle-tracking this problem by giving FEC personnel established in the AFATDS by the TFs
responsibilities, the OIC of the cur- classes on what to look for and helping but then cancelled by the brigade FEC,
rent operations section also attends the with quality control of all ASRs. the problem resolved itself and no longer
division’s daily joint fires board (JFB) I strongly recommend that current oper- was an issue.
meetings via information workspace. The ations personnel coordinate for JTAC Tracking FA Replacement Parts. The
JFB discusses assets requested and needed training on ASRs and CAS before de- brigade FEC current operations section
for upcoming continuous operations ploying. All requests are not the same, tracks the status of all fire support assets
(CONOP). This includes lethal assets, and Soldiers must understand the dif- within the AOR. One issue that caused
such aircraft on ASRs and fire support ferences. confusion was the misperception that
assets, and nonlethal assets, such as IO. Lack of Understanding of Electronic the current operations section tracks the
The current operations officer or NCO Warfare (EW) Capabilities. The new progress of replacement parts for FA
reviews the ASRs that are 72 hours out technologies that have emerged to coun- assets.
and confirms that the brigade and division ter the threat of improvised explosive Tracking parts is an S4 function, not
are tracking the same requests. In addi- devices (IEDs) have caused units to a fires function. The current operations
tion to the JFB, the current operations field new systems to protect themselves. section resolved this issue by keeping
officer also may produce strike requests Commanders must understand the ca- the staff functional lines clear.
and help the brigade fire support officer pabilities and limitations of these new The initial performance of the brigade
(FSO) or the effects coordinator (ECO- EW systems. FEC has been outstanding. The idea of
ORD), as required. These EW assets require detailed plan- having an institution within a BCT with
The fire support operations NCO for the ning to achieve maximum effects. For the ability to affect the battlespace with
current operations section is, arguably, example, if units must delay movement for lethal and nonlethal assets to gain specific
the most important Soldier in the section. some reason, then they should adjust the effects has proven to be very effective.
His responsibilities include managing the EW plan to have maximum coverage. But even with these proven abilities,
current operations desk as well as taking Current operations section personnel there are still areas for improvement
care of all the administrative functions must understand the use of EW aircraft in the FEC. With problems identified
of the section. and help educate their supported TFs. and improvements made, the following
Fire support NCOs manage the fire ACMR Processing. A problem that the months of operations within OEF VII will
support coordinating measures (FSCMs) brigade FEC has had with processing continue to be a success in the Global
for the entire regional command, which ACMRs is the type of coordinates used War on Terrorism.
includes seven TFs. They perform qual- by aviation. Too many requests have
ity control of ASRs for both CAS and had incorrect latitude and longitude
ACMRs. They also ensure all section coordinates. Captain Terrence A. Adams is the Brigade
Soldiers stay current on the training Each ACMR requires three types of lo- Fire Control Officer (FCO) for the 3rd Bri-
needed while deployed, including weap- cation data for processing. The first is the gade Combat Team (BCT), TF Spartans,
10th Mountain Division, currently deployed
ons qualifications and preventive main- military grid reference system (MGRS).
to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring
tenance checks and services (PMCS) of The second type is the universal trans-
Freedom VII. This article is based on the
all assigned equipment. verse mercator (UTM) system. The third experiences of the 3rd BCT Fires and Ef-
The Soldiers of the brigade FEC’s cur- is latitude and longitude information. fect Cell’s Current Operations Section for
rent operations section collect the ASRs A common trend among the TFs is the first 120 days of operations. Captain
from the various TFs. They also manage to use incorrect latitude and longitude Adams also has been the S2 for 4th Bat-
the brigade advanced FA tactical data sys- information on their requests. The most talion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment (4-25
tems (AFATDS) box and all the FSCMs common error is a format of hours, min- FAR), also in the 10th Division. At Fort
for the area of operations (AO). utes and seconds with seconds incorrectly Bragg, North Carolina, he was a Fire Sup-
Improving Operations in the FEC’s rounded off. port Officer (FSO) for the 3-159 Aviation
Regiment and Executive Officer (XO) for
Current Ops Section. While deployed, The second issue with ACMRs is the
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery,
the current operations section ran into misperception that the FEC processes
XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery, and XO for
several challenges. the requests. The FEC current opera- A Battery, 1-377 FAR (Air Assault), 18th
ASRs and CAS. These areas are im- tions section only collects the requests, Field Artillery Brigade. He also served in
portant to IBCT operations and some of performs an initial check of information B Battery, 1-377th FAR as a Fire Direction
the most difficult to master. One reason and then forwards the requests to the Officer (FDO). He is a graduate of the Ma-
they are difficult is the lack of a system brigade aviation element (BAE). All rine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School
to process air requests. ACMRs are processed by the BAE and at Quantico, Virginia.
sill-www.army.mil/famag July-August 2006 45