The United States Army Field Artillery School is undertaking an aggressive initiative to modernize our MOS 13 series education to maintain pace with emerging technologies and the Army 2025 vision. This initiative includes significant enhancements to the foundational training courses, leader education and the implementation of continuum of learning programs as outlined by the Army Learning Model 2015. In doing so, we are leveraging operational lessons learned combined with capabilities presented by rapidly expanding technologies.
At the heart of this modernization effort is the expanding of the foundation of our Fire Support institutional instruction with both precision targeting and Joint Fires critical tasks. Lessons learned from over 12 years of conflict present us with this fact; the operational force demands our Fire Supporters be subject matter experts in the operational art and science of integration and employment of precision and Joint Fires. Our goal, through a comprehensive training approach that crosses all three training domains – Institutional, Organizational and Individual – is that ALL Field Artillery Officers and 13F Forward Observers are qualified as Joint and Precision Fires Observers. We have a number of enablers now in place that will facilitate our success.
At the Institutional training level, several initiatives have now come to fruition. 13F Advanced Individual Training (AIT) has grown to an eight-week, four-day course from a historical six- week course. This growth in 13F AIT is solely intended to modernize the curriculum to align with the highly-technical aspects of precision targeting. Within the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC), we are currently conducting several pilot courses in which we have integrated critical tasks from the Joint Fires Observer (JFO) functional course, target mensuration, and Collateral Damage Estimation (CDE) into the BOLC curriculum. Once we have achieved the right balance of precision targeting and Joint Fires instruction in BOLC, we will invite the Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Council (JFS ESC) JFO accreditation team to Fort Sill so they can assess BOLC as an accredited JFO qualification course. Another primary effort in 2015 is additional expansion of 13F AIT to integrate critical JFO tasks with the ultimate goal of establishing 13F AIT as a JFO accredited program. We expect to achieve both of these goals during FY 2015.
Additionally, Target Mensuration Only (TMO) is being fully integrated into the 13F Advanced Leaders Course (ALC), FA Captains Career Course (FACCC) and the Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC). This training enables our Fire Supporters to manage and use mensuration tools such as the Precision Strike Suite Special Operations Forces (PSS-SOF) at the appropriate echelon. These precision imagery software capabilities are essential for the timely and responsive employment of precision munitions at the BCT and BN Task Force levels. At Company and below, usage of Precision Fires Imagery (PFI), a digitized chip cut from PSS SOF, enables our Platoon Forward Observers to refine their target using precision imagery. This level of precision target refinement is being taught as part of the expanded 13F AIT and BOLC curriculums. This precision refinement capability will be improved in the next generation of precision software (fielding in FY17), the Pocket Sized Forward Entry Device (PFED) Inc II, embedded in the Nett Warrior (NW) ensemble. As we graduate our Fire Support Soldiers and Officers from the institutional instruction to the operational forces, their fire support training and certification will be enhanced based on their units’ Mission Essential Task List (METL).
The operational level enablers that make these initiatives possible include the recent Army directed force structure changes; the re-activation of the Division Artillery (DIVARTY) and the assignment of our Fire Support personnel back into the FA Battalions. These changes present the fires community with enhanced training and certification opportunities at the operational level. All of this will build on our modernized, institutional foundational courses with a focused training regiment based on unit specific METL and targeting technologies specific to each formation.
As stated in ATP 3-09.30, Techniques for Observer Fire, “Observers equipped with nothing more than a map, binoculars, and compass typically have a mean target location error of about 250 meters. This is not good enough for first round FFE or target suppression.”
As a result of the current and emerging targeting technologies, FCOE established the 80:10:10 targeting standard (see diagram) which simply quantifies the term “Accurate” in the First Requirement for Accurate Fires, “Accurate Target Location and Size.”
Today we have targeting technologies, fully fielded, that enable our Fire Supporters to achieve a six-meter Target Location Error (TLE). As leaders we must ensure all Fire Supporters are trained to expert on these fielded, precision-targeting systems and that these systems are maintained at Fully Mission Capable (FMC) status at all times. These optical, electronic and software systems are our primary Fire Support weapon systems. Without their usage it is impossible to provide our Maneuver forces with precision target accuracy required to employ modern Joint, conventional and precision munitions. Excalibur, Precision Guidance Kit (PGK), Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative (APMI), and numerous Joint munitions demand a 10-digit grid with a minimum CAT II (15M) accuracy combined with an accurate altitude. It is absolutely critical that we minimize collateral damage while maximizing the effectiveness of each round fired, conventional or precision, by ensuring precise target location.
We are in an era of diminishing resources which demands we find efficiencies in our modernization initiatives. All programs are under scrutiny, so it is necessary that we identify our critical learning objectives as we modernize curriculums and learning experiences for our leaders, Soldiers and Marines.
Within the FA branch and here at the United States Army Field Artillery School we are leveraging war-time lessons learned and the current precision and Joint functional courses to shape our modernization effort. We are also reaching out to the operational force for feedback. We are conducting Critical Task Site Selection Boards (CTSSBs) to continue to appropriately address our institutional and operational training requirements. We are implementing tenants of the Army Learning Model 2015 by employing technologies to enhance our Institutional, Organizational and Individual continuum of learning. These training enhancements include the development and use of advanced Interactive Multimedia Instruction (IMI) products with expanded simulation opportunities.
As important as this modernization effort is for the Field Artillery branch, technology enhancements and institutional and operational training modernization efforts alone will not enable us to fully achieve our objective. We must continue to keep lines of communication open, not only within the FA branch, but also with our Maneuver brethren. Our greatest challenge and achievements will be measured by our ability to provide our Maneuver forces with integrated, timely and accurate fires. This requires that our Fires leaders have the professional dialogue and extend the understanding of fires integration with our Maneuver counterparts at all echelons. Leader development, education and guidance of fires employment and training for Maneuver and fires leaders are critical tasks for the Fire Support Coordinator (FSCOORD). I look forward to working with you in these critical modernization efforts as we define the best Institutional, Organizational and Individual training solutions to maintain our position as the King of Battle.
If you haven’t done so already, please connect with me on our USAFAS and branch facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/fieldartilleryredleglive.
King of Battle!