Methods Of Fire Control

Of the several methods of controlling machine gun fire, the noise of battle will limit the use of some. Therefore, the leader must select the method or combination of methods that will best accomplish his purpose. The chain of fire control begins with the leader. He is responsible for both the technical and tactical employment of the gun and the training of the crew. He is responsible for passing on to the crewmembers all instructions and orders from his next higher leader regarding the situation and mission. He assigns sectors of fire and firing positions, designates targets to be engaged, adjusts fire, and ensures effective coverage of the targets.

a. Oral. Oral control is effective unless the leader is too far away from the gun crew(s), or the noise of battle makes it impossible for the gun crew(s) to hear him.

b. Arm-and-Hand Signals. This is an effective method when the gun crew(s) can see the leader. All crewmembers must understand the standard arm-and-hand signals used to control machine gun fire.

c. Prearranged Signals. These are either visual or sound signals such as pyrotechnics or blasts on a whistle. These signals should be included in the units' SOPs and must be clearly understood by all crewmembers.

d. Personal Contact. In many situations, the leader must move to individual crewmembers to issue orders. This method is used more than any other by small-unit leaders. The leader must use maximum cover and concealment to keep from disclosing the gun crew's position.

e. Standing Operating Procedures. SOPs cover actions the gun crews perform without command because they were developed and practiced during the training of the gun crews. Their application eliminates many commands and simplifies the leader's job of fire control.

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