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60mm Mortar and m240/249 Plunging Fire Employment
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HolyMacaroni
Level 1

Join date: Sep 2008
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 5147

light infantry platoon - am deploying to afganistan soon and have been reading up on unit's AARs and current TTPs. IMO it seems use of the 60mm and plunging fire from machine guns seems to be the main methods of engagement when reacting to contact at ranges greater than 300m

if anyone has had first hand experience i would be curious to hear about it. i currently do not have access to a plunging-fire range for machine guns so atm all the knowledge i have on it is what i have read from TMs.

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njrusmc
Level 4

Join date: Jun 2008
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 1118

I'll offer this. I was there for 8 months last year. To my knowledge, my battalion did not fire a single mortar of any caliber (exception for registration). Not sure how the Army fires approval works, but ISAF is extremely restricted with who can approves fires. I'm sure this applies to Army units as well. Generally, it's the battalion OpsO, XO, and CO (and above). That means you've gotta clear it with your company and battalion before firing any IDF systems. You can imagine how long that takes; it makes IDF almost unusable. Not to mention the pattern of life analysis to ensure no civilians are around, etc.

Plunging fire from machine guns doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Then again, Army Mountain units are in the mountains so I can see the value there. We were in straight up desert near some rivers and any plunging fire effects on the enemy was from microterrain or maybe a small rise. That is to say, probably not something to be illustrated on a map via contour lines. I'm pretty confident that grazing fire techniques were the most popular for us. Some of the bigger operations took cliffs and large rises into account, but the everyday foot patrol that you will likely run did not.

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BH6
Level 4

Join date: Jun 2005
Location: District of Columbia, USA
Posts: 583

Plunging and indirect fire from machines guns is a lost art, I don't know if we use it effecttively any more. I would look for some of the older TM's and manuals on Machine Gun Gunnery. The really old manuals, from WWII and Korea went into plunging fires in great detail. You might need to get your hands on a gunner's quadrant to accurately set the angles on your guns. You should be able to get firing tables or range tables for your ammunition. With the quad, and the tables, you can set your guns to put fires into any area. The bad guys are using it over here, in the mountainous areas of our AO. It works well, especially if you get a couple guns on the same beaten zone. I used to plan indirect MG fire off of my tanks with the .50 cals when we were in the defense to protect against crunchies. It was easy with the mount we had in the commander's position, since it elevated nearly straight up and traversed seperately from the turret. Good times.

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HolyMacaroni
Level 1

Join date: Sep 2008
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 5147

really appreciate the responses so far.

@ njr - as far as the guidance that i've been given up until this point, myself or my FO can engage with my 60mm mortars as long as i can visually clear the airspace above me, authorization from higher is not required.

i will have 60mm systems directly attached to my platoon, i am not asking about 81 or 120 systems (batt. level)


i get what you're saying about it not having much benefit in flat desert. our AO is exteremly mountainous, and as i said earlier, the unit we will be replacing is reporting contact that is usually outside the range of their rifles.

@BH6 - yeah, i was surprised at the lack of current information regarding those techniques. great suggestions though, will def check them out.

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njrusmc
Level 4

Join date: Jun 2008
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 1118

That's sick man. Not the case for us, unfortunately. The platoon commander's were responsible for airspace clearance and all that stuff, but then the OpsO would do it all over again with the AirO in the COC. You know how it is. I don't think I even saw a 60mm where we were. Our 81mm platoon was converted to a rifle platoon. Not much mortar use out there. How many mortars are you getting? A section in the USMC is 3 tubes, 10 men I believe (3 per team and a section leader). Each rifle company of ~150 men gets this.

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HolyMacaroni
Level 1

Join date: Sep 2008
Location: New York, USA
Posts: 5147

my platoon will be seperate from the rest of the company. i will have one 60mm tube permanently assigned to me for the duration of the deployment (as far as i know at the moment)

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