React to Indirect Fire
A battle drill is a collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision making process. The reference for the Battle Drill “React to Indirect Fire” can be found on page 8-21 and A-2 of your Ranger Handbook.
Let me familiarize you with the "20 Board" above. The board shows the squad reacting to indirect fire. On the left side, there are a few administrative notes that will help you follow along. To the right, there is a 12-man infantry squad in squad column, fire team wedge. The large arrow represents the squad's direction of travel. Enemy incoming rounds of indirect fire are shown in RED. Notice that my board is color-coded but not personalized. Color coded refers to the board displaying the lead team in BLUE, the HQ element in YELLOW, and the trail team in GREEN. While at Ranger School and Sapper Leader Course, you will color-code and personalize all of your boards. For example, if I were the Squad Leader (SL), there would be a line next to the SL circle with my name on it.
The squad can receive incoming indirect fire from any direction. If the indirect fire is targeted accurately on the squad’s position, the squad has no warning before the first round impacts.
Once the squad receives indirect fire, all personnel in the squad immediately yell “INCOMING” and simultaneously get down in the prone position and seek available cover. This response must occur within seconds. After the initial rounds impact, the SL determines a direction and distance he wants the squad to move. The SL determines the direction and distance based on the following:
- The direction of travel.
- The direction of incoming fire (if known).
- Possible obstacles and terrain.
- The enemy’s most probable course of action.
After making this decision, the SL yells the command to the squad. An example command is "12 o’clock 300 meters." All squad members echo the command and immediately double time the prescribed direction and distance. While moving, squad members look for their battle buddies to the left and the right to ensure there are no casualties. If someone has a buddy who is injured, they assist them in moving out of the area.
Team Leaders (TL) control their soldiers through oral or visual signals. TLs adjust the movement formation so they can maintain control during the faster movement. TLs ensure that they maintain security at all times and enforce noise and light discipline as much as possible.
If the squad receives additional rounds, the squad continues to react in the same manner as previously described. The squad continues until they no longer receive indirect fire. If indirect fire seems to follow the patrol, the SL should change the direction of movement due to possible enemy forward observers.
During the movement, the SL maintains control of the squad and ensures the squad remains in the movement formation and technique that he deems necessary. Together, the SL and TLs must prevent individual confusion on the battlefield. If the squad stops receiving incoming fire during their movement, they still continue to move the last distance and direction that the SL commanded.
While at Ranger/Sapper School you will always move a minimum of 300 meters from where the last round impacted. This is due to the fact that in the type of terrain you will be encountering at Ranger/Sapper school 300 meters is the minimum distance you would have to move if it was real indirect fire. Three hundred meters in that type of terrain will allow you to have heavy vegetation or a terrain feature between your squad and the impact area. Of course if you found yourself in arid environments such as Iraq or Afghanistan you may need to move much further.
Once the squad has reached that destination they will establish a security halt, get accountability of all personnel and equipment, conduct SLLS then consolidate and reorganize:
- Establish 360 degree security. Once SLLS is complete the SL spot checks the security perimeter and ensures the Machine Gun (MG) team covers the most likely direction of the enemy’s attack, or high speed avenue of approach. This has to be done quickly in preparation for an enemy counterattack.
- Gather ACE Reports. Once 360-degree security has been established, the SL calls for ACE reports. The TLs will move to each man and physically check their men to gather ACE reports and verify sectors of fire.
- Re-establish the chain of command / key positions. Based on the ACE report, the SL designates personnel to replace any key leaders / personnel who were wounded or killed (TLs, RTO).
- Re-man key weapons. If a SAW or M320 gunner is down, the SL designates a rifleman to assume those positions. Any casualties in the MG Team will be handled team internal if possible.
- Re-distribute ammunition and mission essential equipment. TLs will cross level their own teams, and the SL directs the cross leveling between teams. Mission essential equipment is taken from casualties and distributed within the Team, then Squad. BTL prepares an emergency resupply request if necessary.
- Report the situation to higher authorities. The SL produces a SALT report and sends it higher along with his ACE report thru the RTO. The RTO also calls in the emergency supply request when finished with the ACE report.
Once Consolidation and Reorganization is complete, the Squad will move out and continue the mission.
This was a summary of how you will be expected to react to indirect fire at Ranger and Sapper School.
You can continue learning by reading about Crossing a Small Open Danger Area.
Crossing a Small Open Danger Area can be found here.