Call For Fire - Term used to describe a radio request for artillery or mortar support.

There are 14 main elements for Call For Fire, and this is their sequence:

1. Type Of Mission

(a) Adjust Fire - "Bracketing"
(b) Fire for Effect
(c) Suppress - Harrass an area to prevent enemy troops from operating. Also has a psychological effect.
(d) Immediate Suppression

2. Size of element to fire for effect

3. Method of Target Location

(a) Polar Plot - The method of plotting or locating an unknown point using an azimuth and distance from a known starting point.
(b) Shift from a known point
(c) Grid - As in a standard grid coordinate

4. Location of Target

(a) Grid Coordinate - at least 6 digit.
(b) Shift from a known point

  • Mils (nearest 10) - A degree of measurement, 6400 in a circle.
  • Degrees
  • Cardinal Direction
  • Send lateral shift(Right/Left)(Nearest 10m) - Shift the fire laterally.
  • Send range shift(Add/Drop)(Nearest 100m) - Shift range of fire.
  • Send vertical shift(Up/Down)(Nearest 5m if target exceeds 35m) - Shift the fire vertically, i.e. over mountains.
(c) Polar Plot - To shift from a known point to the target.
  • Send Direction (Nearest 10 mils)
    • Send Distance (Nearest 100m)
    • Send Vertical Shift (Nearest 5m)

5. Description of Target

(a) Type - Tanks, Infantry, etc.
(b) Activity - Dug in, on convoy, etc.
(c) Number
(d) Degree or Protection - Bunkers, terrain, etc.
(e) Size and Shape (Length/Width or Radius)

6. Method of Engagement

(a) Area Fire - moving target
(b) Precision Fire - point target

7. Danger Close - When friendly troops are within these limits, they are considered too close:

(a) Mortars - 600m
(b) Artillery - 600m
(c) Naval guns 5in. or smaller - 750m
(d) Naval guns 6in. or larger - 1000m
(e) Naval guns 16in. - 2000m

8. Mark - Used to orient observer or indicate targets.

9. Trajectory

(a) Low angle - Standard
(b) High angle -(Mortars or if requested)

10. Ammunition - High Explosive (HE quick) will be used unless specified

(a)Projectile (HE, ILLUM, ICM, SMOKE, etc.)
(b)Fuse (Quick, Time, etc.) - Rounds with timed fuses can be used.
(c)Volume of Fire (May request number of rounds fired.)

11. Distribution - The spread of fire over the target area.

(a) 100m sheaf - Standard
(b) Converged sheaf - Small hard targets
(c) Special Sheaf - Any length, width, and attitude
(d) Open sheaf - Seperate bursts
(e) Parallel sheaf - Linear target

12. Method of Fire Control

(a) Method of Fire - Specific guns and a specific interval between rounds. One gun with 5 second interval is standard for Adjust Fire.
(b) Method of Control

  • "At My Command" - "Fire" - Remains in effect until observer announces "Cancel at my Command"
  • "Cannot Observe" - Observer cannot see the target
  • "Time on Target" - Observer specifies time for rounds to impact
  • Continuous Illumination - Fire Direction Center (FDC) calculates rate of fire.
  • Coordinated Illumination - Interval between ILLUM and HE rounds
  • "Cease Loading" - Indicate the suspension of loading rounds
  • "Check Firing" - Immediate Halt
  • "Continuous Fire" - Load and Fire as fast as possible
  • "Repeat" - Fire another round(s) without adjustments

13. Authentication - Challenge and Reply, used to make sure the observer is an ally, and is sure of his transmission.

14. Message to Observer - Messages the firing unit may send the observer.

(a) Battery(ies) to fire for effect - Simply a confirmation.
(b) Adjusting battery - A confirmation.
(c) Changes to the initial call for fire - A confirmation.
(d) Number of rounds per tube to be fired for effect - A confirmation.
(e) Target numbers
(f) Additional Information

  • Time of flight - Moving target mission
  • Probable error in range - 38 meters of more - If the firing battery suspects an error.
  • Angle T - 500 mils or greater

Example of standard Grid coordinate mission

F24, this is J24(observer, i.e. YOU), ADJUST FIRE, OVER.
J24, this is F24(firing battery, i.e. GUNS), ADJUST FIRE, OUT.

GRID WM 180513, DIRECTION 0530, OUT.

Infantry platoon dug in, OVER.
Infantry platoon dug in, OUT.



End of mission, 15 casualties, platoon dispersed, OVER.
End of mission, 15 casualties, platoon dispersed, OUT.

Note: The normal call for fire on a real battlefield will probably sound something like this:


Also, as you might have noticed, "Repeat" is an artillery command. So in the movies when the radio man says repeat over the radio, he's dead wrong and might get his ass kicked in real life. The proper command is "Say Again".

Other notes:

HE stands for High Explosive.
ILLUM is illumination, otherwise known as flares, ok?
If you've ever seen We Were Soldiers, that artillery is danger close.
Fire for Effect is another way of saying "Blow the shit out of them."
The method for "walking" artillery onto a target is known as bracketing.

Source: Ranger Handbook SH 21-76

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