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Subject: Counter Battery
FD    4/18/2007 2:52:11 PM
If there is a significant counter-battery threat, where you have to move after every firing, how do you train for this? Do you fire and move to an alternate location, fire and move again to another point and continue this until the threat is eliminated? Or do you just move a little bit, 500m and setup again? Or, do you wait for the first CB fires you receive? How far would you move and how long would it take you to displace? Thanks.
 
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flamingknives       4/18/2007 3:12:01 PM
Time and distance depends on the kit you have and the counter-battery capability the enemy has. Waiting to recieve counter-battery fire is, IMHO, waiting far too long. 
 
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FD       4/18/2007 3:18:05 PM
Ok, I'm using towed 105mm and the enemy has 152 SP, with a response time of 11 mintues. If I can't take out his counter battery capability, then does that mean I shoot, move, shoot, move, shoot, move, etc?
 
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FD       4/18/2007 3:21:17 PM
Ok, I'm using towed 105mm and the enemy has 152 SP, with a response time of 11 mintues. If I can't take out his counter battery capability, then does that mean I shoot, move, shoot, move, shoot, move, etc?
 
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flamingknives       4/18/2007 4:45:34 PM
If he actually has the capacity to detect your guns and target them, your guns will be moving between fire missions.

Especially if they are towed, which are obviously more vulnerable.

That's just simple tactics, not any specific military procedures.
 
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Carl S       4/18/2007 6:00:45 PM
During my career there were two schools in the USMC artillery.  A. Shoot & Scoot.  B. Hunker Down.

The scoot school made use of hasty ocupations, multiple alternate positions, emergency displacements, and raid techniques.  The battery comanders & battalion ops staff gave a lot of thought to question of ingress & egress to firing positons, road priorities, ect... All that worked ok when the towd howitzers were realatively light like the M101 or the M114, and the heavies were self propelled.  When the USMC replaced everything with the eight ton M198 the hasty move became a bit problematic.  

The hunker down school emphasised deep holes by every crew section, dispersion, just in time ammo supply, & anything else to reduce vulnerability.  This was not a advocation of staying one spot until beaten into oblivion.  Rather a recognition that heavy howitzers dont scoot.  Neither did we stop rehearsing emergency displacements and the rest of it.  We recognized that our short term safety lay in dispersion & having deep holes to dive into when counter battery came.  Over the long hual we still moved about a lot.

In Desert Storm we learned that its all relative.  The Iraqi counter battery was so slow that the batterys I know of were easily able to limber their 7200 kilo cannon and drive away before the Iraqi FOs completed their four point brackets with double check rounds.

The combat readiness test standards from 1987 allowed a maximum of three minutes in a Emergency Displacement for the howitzers to be rolling & at least 200 meters from their original firing positions.  Two minutes for the SP cannon.  This was not difficult with the M101 105mm howitzer.  With the M198 a full crew might be able to do that in four if well drilled.

Alternate positions could be anywhere from 500 to 5000 meters away, depending on circumstances.   What we called raid techniques consisted of rushing into a positon with just the cannon, firing a preset mission, and rushing off again.  Usually this was practiced with just one or two cannon, which were often moved by heliocopter.   But in a 1985 exercise I helped plan a multibattalion raid, and in the run up to Desert Storm several battery & battalion size 'raids' were executed.


 
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Jeff_F_F       4/18/2007 6:27:45 PM
Hopefully the M777 will help with this on several levels. Lighter weight allowing faster displacement, the automated fire control system allowing the piece to get back in the battle faster after displacing, and having the fire direction software track and adjust the firing data of each gun individually instead of calculating data for the center of battery will allow much greater dispersion.
 
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Jeff_F_F       4/18/2007 6:39:55 PM
Depending on how severe the counterbattery threat was, I still wouldn't expect moving after every fire mission though. Even with M109A6 you generally don't do that, and moving an A6 is just stop, turn the turret, fire a mission, drive off... for a short mission it is under a minute. OMG, I love that weapon.
 
When it comes to both dispersion and displacement you have to balance the relative threat posed by counterbattery vs. enemy light ground forces. Moving a lot exposes you to the risk of ambush, while staying in one place means the enemy has time to march toward the sound of the guns. Less dispersion obviously means that any counterbattery will be more effective but your guns can maintain a common defensive perimeter and if attacked by ground forces can fight together. More dispersion means that counterbattery does less damage, but if your guns are a long way apart they can't fight together if attacked.
 
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Carl S       4/18/2007 11:40:33 PM
Somewhere on my shelf is a US Field Artillery Journal artical describing a Israli SP 155 battery on the Golan Heights in 1973.  Before the war the commander had made a concious decision to keep the battery in place, so the guns were dispersed deep in gullys of a reverse slope.  Redundant wire links were run to the guns and a radio provided to each for fire control.   Because the Syrians ran nearly continual counter battery against this artillery unit trucks werre useless for supply.  Lacking a armored supply vehicals the Isralis took on gun out of action and used it to deliver ammo, food, parts, mechanics for repairs casualty replacements and to evacuate the wounded.  By the end of the crisis only one of the howitzers could still move, and each crew had been replaced three to four times over.  A no time was this 'battery' out of action & for the critical first week fired continual back to back missions in support of the Golan defense.
 
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FD       4/19/2007 8:41:43 AM
Thanks for the responses. I wondered how you managed the terrain, the resupply, and the constant movement with a counter-battery threat. Speaking of counter-battery, is the threat really that "real". From the comment on the Iraqi counterfire, it would seem that most third world forces have a limited counter-battery capability and that the US forces with the new technology negate that threat.
 
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Yimmy       4/19/2007 8:47:48 AM
Just for my undereducated 2 Cents - but the whole point of tube artillery is that its sustainable and can be called on at any time.  Ity would be a bugger if you were on an infantry fighting patrol, and when you called for artillery support it turned out the guns were either on the road, or had relocated just out of range!


 
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