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"Size of a Battery Barrage?" Topic


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881 hits since 29 Nov 2017
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Queen Catherine29 Nov 2017 6:19 p.m. PST

Anyone have some information on the size of an indirect fire barrage in WWII? I understand that they were not uniform in size, but let's say 3-4 tubes in a battery. I'm looking for "typical" situations rather than an extreme or complicated endeavor that was carefully planned with 900 tubes or something! Something that would be a normal request and response from a company or battalion at most.

The most common guns would be the 3" / 75mm / 81mm mortars and field pieces from the regiment.

Next up would be the field artillery in the 4" / 100mm range.

Finally, there would be the large field pieces in the 150mm / 6" range.

Given a 3-4 tube battery, what would the size of their barrage be and how was spread and density of fire managed? Could a more concentrated barrage be requested? If more guns joined in [say from a second battery] did they just put more rounds in the same space or could the spread be widened?

Finally, the small 2" / 60mm mortars that were in platoons or companies were they ever used for an indirect barrage, or were they basically a direct fire weapon with a high arc, sort of a grenade launcher?

I'm mostly interested in WWII, but the early war gear was the same as the inter-war gear, and the later war gear continued in service for much of the early cold war!

Thanks!

Simo Hayha29 Nov 2017 10:02 p.m. PST

I have found artillery information pretty hard to come by. But I can comment on 60mm mortars, particularly from the russian perspective. They tried using them in batteries but found that they didnt have the range so moved them back down to 1 per platoon. max range is around 500m. I would think they were mostly used for direct fire. I know the british used them for smokes and found they didnt pack the High explosive effect needed.

Anxious to hear others responses

Martin Rapier29 Nov 2017 11:25 p.m. PST

For a field artillery battery a general rule of thumb for a concentrated sheaf is around 150m x 150m, for a more dispersed sheaf, cal it 250x250 (but that is more in the nature of harassing fire).

A standard regimental concentration as fired by a 25pdr regiment was 525 yards long and around 150 yards deep.

Medium and heavy artillery have much bigger beaten zones for each round but the rate of fire is lower.

The safe distances for artillery fire give a good idea of the overall danger zones (Iirc something like 500 yards for 155mm).

Modern artillery is far more dangerous than WW2 stuff, much better fuses, better shells, better fire direction etc. A single AS90 packs as much punch as a whole battery of WW2 medium guns.

Legion 430 Nov 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

Anyone have some information on the size of an indirect fire barrage in WWII? I understand that they were not uniform in size
As with many things like this, it depends on "terrain and situation" …

Terrain what is the target, i.e. in the open, in a town/village or entrenched, etc. ?

Situation Is this a preplanned barrage or even a hasty call-in for everything available ? Again based on target. And situation …

Are you in the attack or defense ?

Plus available assets, including tubes and ammo. As well as who the commander is. So yes it would not generally be uniform in size. In many/most situations …


Finally, the small 2" / 60mm mortars that were in platoons or companies were they ever used for an indirect barrage, or were they basically a direct fire weapon with a high arc, sort of a grenade launcher?
E.g. this plays into everything I just posted. However, because of the shorter range of those smaller mortars, it would probably be employed something like a GL. However, I'm sure most crews were trained to fire indirect as were some in the unit trained to call it in. In that firing mode.
As far as barrage, probably, but again how many tubes do you have. Plus how much ammo is on hand. A handful of tubes, e.g., 3-4 with only a small amount of ammo. Probably won't be much of a "barrage".

To go take that paradigm further. If you are in a deliberate defense, you may have a lot of ammo pre-positioned. In the offense probably only how much ammo you can carry. Either by hand/rucksack, etc. Of if you have some vehicles like armored 1/2 tracks, etc. Where extra ammo can be carried. Note: trucks don't normally do well on the offense for obvious reasons.


Modern artillery is far more dangerous than WW2 stuff,
That is very true.

badger2230 Nov 2017 7:36 a.m. PST

Cant comment on mortars, never fired any of them. And I was in the US Army, so cant really comment on other peoples sheafs. But, we consider a 105mm to have an effective radius of 35 meters, and a 155mm to have an effective radius of 50 meters. So without making funny shapes, you get a box 140 meters by 140 meters. Or 1 200X200. Of course each individual shell never really fly's perfectly, so it will be a little bigger or smaller depending.

Also note that that is roughly in front of the guns. The farther you get to either side, it gets a bit oblong. If it gets to far out of shape, we can correct it, but that takes time and then you have to uncorrect when you come back to azimuth of lay. Which is why you want to be sure which way you need to be pointing before you lay the battery.

Owen

Legion 430 Nov 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

Cant comment on mortars,
You were a "gun-bunny/red leg" wink so yes, you'd have very little to do with mortars. But generally many things with FA & mortars are similar.

Some may not know this(but you & I do Owen). But a mortar is generally an Infantry weapon. And not Artillery.

Regardless what you posted there is again generally true for mortars as well.

never fired any of them.
As former Grunt, I have fired them(81mm) and trained to do so. But Infantry types like the Bigger Guns of the FA for support, as always. Big Guns make Big(ger) Booms ! thumbs up

Skarper30 Nov 2017 8:23 a.m. PST

I have read somewhere and it makes sense to me anyway that batteries normally just fired parallel sheafs. The guns were lined up in a straightish line and when the order came thru to fire on bearing X at range Z all the guns did that without attempt to correct. Certainly the Brits didn't faff about and just dumped as much HE on the target as fast as possible.

There is a good website nigelef.tripod.com

lots of detailed info.

Queen Catherine30 Nov 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Hey Martin,
When you say 525 yard "long" do you mean wide?

Given the line of fire from battery to target area, is that a rectangle 525 wide by 150 deep, or 525 LONG by 150?

Sounds like the former, but wanted to check.

John Armatys30 Nov 2017 9:52 a.m. PST

This link might be of interest:
link

A British standard regimental concentration ("stonk") was 525 yards wide by 150 yards deep.

donlowry30 Nov 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

Don't think the Soviets or the British had 60mm mortars -- they had 50mm and 2-inch, respectively (about the same size). Germans also had 50mm (5cm) mortars, later replaced by short 8cm mortars. The U.S. and French had 60mm mortars.

Most batteries of field artillery had 4 guns. Armored artillery batteries usually had 6. (Assuming full strength in both cases.)

Legion 430 Nov 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

I think I misunderstood what was meant by "barrage". I don't think we even called it that. You mean how big is the impact area of certain mortars or field guns, etc., by Plt or Btry ?

We would call that an Impact Area/Blast Area/Radius. A "barrage" is a number of tubes, firing a certain number of rounds for a certain number of times. At a specific target(s) … That is the way I was taught … IIRC … old fart

That is AFAIK a "Barrage" … which as I posted is different than Impact Area, Radius, etc.

I looked it up just to make sure I was not going senile …

NOUN
a concentrated artillery bombardment over a wide area.
synonyms: bombardment cannonade gunfire shelling salvo

So I think I would have posted the question, if I understand it correctly … "What is the size of an Impact Area/Blast Zone/Radius for a unit of indirect fire weapons ? Based on tube size and number of weapons firing."

But I could see how one could call that a barrage … I wouldn't but I can see it being called that.

Of course I could be wrong, Owen was FA. I bow to his expertise … On what is a barrage, radius, etc.

badger2230 Nov 2017 5:51 p.m. PST

Skarper we may have a terminology difference here. In US usage, a parallel Sheaf rounds have been corrected into a line. An open sheaf is when there is no correction at all, rounds land in roughly the shape of the battery on the ground.

Nothing wrong with parallel, just a different shape, but like any sheaf the more you get from azimuth of lay the more distorted it gets. I dont think anybody modifies their sheaf for a single mission, as you say it takes to long.

The problem with open sheaf is like buckshot to far away. they rounds are so far apart you are only going to get one, maybe two of them even close to the target. Sometimes you keep the guns closet together, but most of the time you dont. If there is much counterbattery keeping them close is a great way to lose them all.

Over the years I have worked with British, German and Danish artillerymen, and was quite struck by how similar we all were. We may do things differently, but most of those things were choices and trade offs, not fundamental differences of thought.

I also found everybodys FDC chiefs(which I was ) dont think gunbunnys are very bright, and that most Officers dont really understand how the whole thing works.

badger2230 Nov 2017 6:06 p.m. PST

And more detail for those who are interested. We called individual gun adjustments special corrections. FDC works them out as time permits, and calls them down to the guns. Depending on what is going on, you have them applied or not. It only takes a few seconds to get them on the gun it is the calculation that takes time.

If you think you might be shooting all over the place, you can go ahead and work up several sets of corrections and get them all down there. Then you can call down "apply special corrections #2". I never liked that, to easy to get the wrong corrections on a piece or 2.

If you know what you are doing, you can do all sorts of things if you have time. Bored Officers and FDC chiefs can come up with lots of things to shoot. I watched a German BN commander adjust each gun in his BN on at a time with Illum rounds then shoot a giant cross into the sky for easter.It was something like 3 kilometers high and 2 wide. Very impressive.

Also helped try to shot our BN number into the sky. It more or less worked, but we kept getting a couple of illum chutes opening late, so it never looked as good as what the Germans did. We tried top make it smaller than they did, and I have always thought the larger area masked individual variations better than the smaller one did.

Owen

badger2230 Nov 2017 6:10 p.m. PST

And to answer one of the Queens questions that has not been addressed yet, yes you can adjust the rounds so that they are very close together. We called that a converged sheaf. You theoretically bring all the rounds in so close that the craters all touch each other. We used it to crush individual bunkers. I say theoretically as you can never get perfect performance from each round, but you can get very close.

Owen

Lion in the Stars30 Nov 2017 8:00 p.m. PST

From what I've read, the little 45mm to 2" mortars and whatnot are effectively long-range hand grenades (on par with modern 40mm grenade launchers).

The 60mm mortars are big enough to have a good HE effect, and 81mm+ are usually equal to the next size bigger tube artillery (81mm mortar = 105mm gun, 120mm mortar = 155mm gun). Lower shell velocity from a mortar means thinner shell walls for more HE filler. Also, mortar shells drop in at a steeper angle so that the blast pattern is closer to circular.

Windy Miller01 Dec 2017 2:55 a.m. PST

I can't speak for artillery but I imagine it's pretty similar to mortars. The belt of fire obviously varies according to calibre and the number of barrels but in theory the lethal radius of each round should overlap. With a section of three 81mm mortars firing in parallel this should give you a belt of fire 160m wide by 80m deep – the lethal radius of the HE round being 40m. As stated above you can also converge all the barrels to fire on a point target, or you can adjust the attitude of the belt to cover a linear feature such as a stretch of road.

The old 2in or 51mm mortar was issued one per rifle platoon and had a very limited supply of ammunition. As such it was generally used for providing smoke screens or illumination. Having said that a lucky shot from a 2in mortar fired by 5 DCLI in Normandy knocked out a King Tiger!

lgkmas01 Dec 2017 3:15 a.m. PST

Regardless of what the dropshorts wanted to do or could do, we were always taught that a battery of field arty or a platoon of mortars covered an area (called a beaten zone) that was 150m x 150m. That made for easy calculation as a standard platoon template in defence was regarded as being a 150m x 150m area. So, enemy target , inf platoon in defence, call on a battery or the Bn Mortars for fire support. Enemy Coy positon was IIRC 250 x 250 and that was the size of an artillery regt beaten zone( Bn to you non-Britcom guys).

We didn't give a stuff what fancy things arty wallahs wanted to do, we just wanted that 150m x 150m coverage.

I suggest you don't try and be too clever. Yes, given enough time, you can write your name in the sky with illum rds. But that doesn't help the poor grunt fighting through an enemy position. They want rapid response and the Britcom Arty was able to give them that. Fire on the ground in 15 secs from the call beats accurate fire in five minutes. And that assumes you were accurate in your target location.

Legion 401 Dec 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

Yes, I agree with what you posted Owen as I said you were FA. And IIRC, an Open or Closed/Converged Sheaf basically designates how close the projectiles are in the impact area. As you said Open is like a shot gun with impacting rounds being spread out as opposed to Converging where the rounds are much close together. Doing more damage in a smaller area, etc. …

I can't speak for artillery but I imagine it's pretty similar to mortars. The belt of fire obviously varies according to calibre and the number of barrels but in theory the lethal radius of each round should overlap. With a section of three 81mm mortars firing in parallel this should give you a belt of fire 160m wide by 80m deep the lethal radius of the HE round being 40m.
Yes that is what I was trying to say in my previous post. And the number of tubes and caliber will vary the impact area[beaten zone]. As e.g. an 81mm mortars blast radius is smaller than a 4.2 in mortars. Just as a 105mm Field gun will have a smaller blast or burst radius than a 155mm etc.

And by firing Open or Converged Sheaf, etc. will vary the size of the impact area. Owen am I getting this correct ? Again, I was a Grunt with mortar training and experience. But only general training with FA. So we knew what and how to call-in FA and how it worked, etc.

we were always taught that a battery of field arty or a platoon of mortars covered an area (called a beaten zone)
Yes I remember now the impact area was also and probably more accurately called a "beaten zone". old fart The same goes for the area where MG rounds fall/hit, IIRC.

I also found everybodys FDC chiefs(which I was ) dont think gunbunnys are very bright, and that most Officers dont really understand how the whole thing works.
Yes, I believe I've heard similar. In a similar situation, when I was playing 81mm Plt Ldr during a range live fire. The NCOs run the tubes really. An FA Bn Cdr asked who the FO was, I said I was. He said, No … I'll have one of my FIST/FOs come over here and adjust your fire. Guess he didn't think an 2LT Infantry Officer was "smart" enough to call-in and adjust our own mortar fire … evil grin

donlowry01 Dec 2017 1:44 p.m. PST

I'm pretty sure a "barrage" is a barrier of fire, laid down to prevent/discourage the enemy from moving through a particular area, such as onto the flank of your attac

Fire that is intended to cause casualties or at least keep the defenders' heads down would be a bombardment.

Or so I remember from reading Ian Hogg.

Legion 401 Dec 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

That sounds about right don … I would think a barrage would be used as prep fire before an attack as well. E.g. like the term "rolling barrage" as we see in the movie [and historically] A Bridge Too Far. The UK FA firing in front of Horrock's 30 Corps, lead by the Irish Guards. As they advanced. During Market-Garden.

Also we hear the term, e.g. "predawn bombardment" which is as you posted, AFAIK.

But I guess I didn't understand the original question as I have never heard the term "barrage" use to describe the size of an impact area of a battery'(s') concentrated fire.

I thought it was meant as the size/number of units or weapons in an artillery barrage, e.g. prep fire, attacking a specific target(s), etc.

Again, my misunderstanding of some believing "barrage" meaning impact area size, etc., or something like that … Mea Culpa …

Fire that is intended to cause casualties or at least keep the defenders' heads down would be a bombardment.
True, of course I'd think you'd want any fire to cause enemy loses and/or keep their heads down/suppression.

Even H&I fire … you'd hope not only to keep the enemy out of that area, e.g. road intersection, etc. But maybe hit some of the enemy while they move into/thru that targeted area.

And sometimes I think gamers and game rules may not use the FM's definition of some terms, etc., … Because they are not in the military but just gamers. Of course generally speaking we are all gamers and/or modelers here, regardless ! grin

But I think a lot of good information was put out here and this was a pretty good discussion at any rate …

lincolnlog02 Dec 2017 7:37 a.m. PST

For Cold War war gaming the size of the barrage is not as important as the effect.

Most modern cold war era tanks have 2" of top steel armor. The myth is that an HE barrage of any caliber can kill a modern tank. In fact it's more likely to destroy antennas, outside stowage, damage tracks and suspension. An artillery round doesn't have to hit the vehicle to score the mentioned damage.

Your almost safer in a M113 with 1" of alloy armor than in a foxhole. While I would agree that artillery is highly effective against APC's, it's also unlikely to get a shell right on the top armor of a tank/apc. Also, if you attacking say a woodline with artilery, with suspected troops and vehicles, you have to mix 3 different types of fuses. He-Delayed for dug in troops, HE Quick for vehicles, and HE-Variable Timed (HE-VT) for troops wandering around performing logistics, maintenance, and leadership functions.

NATO had some trick munitions like Copperhead which was a cannon fired laser guided anti-tank munition. ICM or improved conventional munitions which rained small anti-tank bomblets down on the battlefield (supposedly ICM was not as effect as most games model). ADM or Artillery delivered mines. ADM didn't some such kill tanks as slow them down. These sub munitions would destroy soft skin vehicles, cause dismounted infantry casualties, and damage tracks and suspensions of armored vehicles.

Warsaw Pact had similar munitions, but intel at the time said they could only deliver these sub-munitions via air dropped ordinance.

Another issue with games, is unlimited mission types. NATO batteries carried a loadout, so many rounds of each type of Ammo. The Support Battery would have to run ammo constantly to replace expended ammo. In briefing we received from our FIST chief, 2 missions of Smoke, 1 ICM, 5 HE. The number of Copperhead rounds didn't matter to us, we could call those rounds in, only the FIST guys had the designators.

After failing at creating a 3mm tactical level game that wasn't too simulation like, Players thought the play time was too high and the game too fiddly. I'm now focusing on a 3mm operational set, that focuses on tactics and not on pure weapon systems. We'll see how that goes. Design is focusing on 1(solo)-6 players. I work nights so arranging or getting to games is problematic.

Legion 402 Dec 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

I agree with what Lincoln has said here. And as always game mechanics are not always easy to accurately translate from reality. Or vise versa …

badger2202 Dec 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

Linconlog the M109 could carry 32 rounds, mix and match as the commander wished. The ammo support vehicle in the section would carry 2-3 times that amount depending on what it was. Then there was about that amount more in trucks assigned to the battery. Sounds like a lot, but as you say, once you start breaking it down by mission, it isnt that much at all, particularly as there is always something you wind up not using.

I never fired any FASCAM(mines) or copperhead, so all those rounds where basicly wasted space. My loadout was a lot different from the one you descrbed, we caried a lot more DPICM than HE. DPICM kills infantry much better than HE, and breaks tanks as well. We used HE to crack bunkers.

My Fisters always like to shoot what they called a shake and bake. He-delay to crack the bunkers, then WP on top to obscure while they closed. And if you believe that……

Depending on what the target was actually doing, we also might send 1st round DPICM, to catch folks standing around outside the Bunkers. One of my fellow FDC chiefs got to put 2 copperheads into a police station. I was so jealous.

Owen

Skarper02 Dec 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

My memory is vague so I'm sure my terminology was muddled. I got it from a US writer so he would have used US terms.

lincolnlog02 Dec 2017 2:54 p.m. PST

@Badger, we could be referencing different time periods also. The Copperhead was new in my early days. The FIST assigned to my platoon didn't have a designator. Those rounds are so expensive, I'm not surprised they don't get fire in training.

From what I've read about the Gulf War the T72M just wasn't that tough nut to crack. The engagement would be over before a Copperhead could arrive in many cases.

badger2202 Dec 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

Copperhead does not live up to billing. Unless a target is a long ways away, the tanks just kill it. If it is, then you have to position the Observer just right to get the shot, and have somebody cover them. A copperhead shot is a taskforce operation, and only a few targets are worth the effort. Also the designator is messed up by smoke or dust. I guess the designers just didnt realize hopw much smoke burning vehicles can generate.

While they are very expensive, copperhead also has a limited shelf life. I have shot almost 30 copperhead rounds, including some of the very few ever fired in glide mode. In fact the year I shot them I was the only battery in the Army to do so.

The penetration of DMICM was classified, dont know if it still is or not, but the never told us what it is. But more than the top armor of most tanks. Certainly it went through the top ot T-72, and the few T-64s we saw also burned.

BDA is a real problem. Its not a video game so who get credit is hotly debated. If there where tank hits and artillery hits on a vehicle, the tankers got credit. My Fisters certainly repored more burning tanks than I got credit for. And yes I am now a huge fan of DPICM. Screw copperhead, killing 1 tank at a time. With DPICM we killed them a company at a time.

I have Mentioned before the effects other thankills, but it is always worth repeating. We had a full Cav troop taken out of the fight by a mere 2 rounds of HE airburst. Probably 122mm as that was most of what we fought, but could have been 152, they had at least 1 battery of them. Anyway what they did was take out every antenna in the troop. I think it took them some time to realize what had happened, then even more before they could find replacements and get back on the net.

By the time they did the battle was no longer in doubt, and they did not make a major contribution. Which was really funny to much of the squadron, as they where the fairhaired boys who where going to do great things, yet Ghost and Eagle get the glory. But thats war, almost nothing happens the way everybody thinks it will

Owen

Queen Catherine02 Dec 2017 6:19 p.m. PST

@ Lincolnlog
Hey Bob, we've moved in much the same direction, and have been putting good hours into a decision-oriented set of WWII rules at the company level. So where tech matters to decisions, we are or will be putting it in. If not, it is abstracted by making a unit more "x", whether that be more resilient, faster, etc.

you can contact me and the guys at our chief blogger's blog:
upthebluefow.blogspot.com
and we can share some thoughts on our two years of fun.

RudyNelson02 Dec 2017 6:44 p.m. PST

Well I am reading the DIA manual , Deb- 1110-1-79, on Soviet Motorized Division includes tactics.
In regards to artillery, they have three 18 gun battalions, 3 batteries of 6 guns. Two of 122mm and 1 of 152mm.

The attacking front was two regiments wide with each regiment having a reserve regiment. The preferred front was 10 km with one sector of 4 km and the other 5-6 km. The Armored regiment supported the wider sector of attack.

So a 122mm battalion, 18 tubes, were in support of each sector. The 152mm battalion was in reserve or assigned to the more difficult sector.
In addition, the artillery also had FROG rocket battalion of two batteries and two launchers each. This was nuclear capable and part of the main body/reserve.
In addition they had a MRL battalion attached. The rockets were 122mm and had 40 tubes per launcher.there were three six launchers batteries. So an entire battalion fire could put 720 rounds into the target area. Due to the impact spread, it was not preferred for a point attack.

RudyNelson02 Dec 2017 6:46 p.m. PST

By the way the FROGs were nuclear and chemical capable and can fire 70km. The idea that a division commander had nukes was troubling to many NATO back then.

Lion in the Stars02 Dec 2017 11:20 p.m. PST

@Rudy: That's why I call it the "Red Army Grid Square Removal Service."

That's a LOT of guns and rockets to plaster an area!

lincolnlog03 Dec 2017 7:36 a.m. PST

@Queen Catherine: Sounds good, I'll definitely be contacting you. By the way Artillery was much more effective in your time period, due to multiple factors. The US especially had a lot of open top vehicles. You may not kill the TD or HT but if you get the occupants, for that battle the vehicle is out of action.

@Badger: I had a brand new 2LT that had to make a Fire Support Plan for an ARTEP. It got rejected immediately, because of his prolific use of DPICM.

In the old 7th ID, we used a visual Call for Fire simulator. Big theater style class room with photos from Army posts on a huge screen. Then each station had map sheets for the post shown. You had to locate the viewed area, then the instructor from 6/80 FA would put a digital silouette on the photo. Each station had a TA-1 that you would cxall for fire on. Then he would put you shell splashes on the photo for you to adjust. Really fun training. Anytime an infantryman doesn't have to lay in the mud to train, makes your day slightly more pleasant.

lincolnlog03 Dec 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

@Legion4, Have any good fire support planning stories?

I've had many great LT platoon leaders, but it was always fun training a new. Only had one that couldn't be trained, and not the one above, he turned out pretty well.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed working for you. I never had a bad company commander.

lincolnlog03 Dec 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

@Rudy

We always suspected our track parks were targeted by FROGs. Personally, I believe WWIII would have started nuclear, or would have to escalate to nuclear. We always assumed the Soviets were as sane as we were. So, even though per intel, 1/3 of all Soviet Artillery ammo was Chemical, the use of Persistent Chemical agents would have caused escalation. We always trained for the worse, but the assumption was the Soviets would use non-persistent agents if chemicals were used.

Legion 403 Dec 2017 9:11 a.m. PST

Thanks Lincoln, I think you would have been a good trooper to have my Plt or Company. You certainly know your stuff ! thumbs up

Have any good fire support planning stories?
Well interestingly, when I was a Mech Co. Cdr. The Bn XO, mentioned the Bn Cdr told him, "You can never expected a real detailed fire support plan or OPORD from him, but he always gets the job done".

Maybe that is why he always attached my Mech Co. to a Tank Bn ?

Of course in most situations, one of the first things I'd do is tell my FIST to call-in some FA or CAS. evil grin

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