HOME
TheInfoList



upright=1.4|Danish artillery observer using a thermal_imaging_camera_and_a_[[laser_rangefinder_in_a_live_fire_exercise.html" ;"title="laser_rangefinder.html" ;"title="thermal imaging camera and a [[laser rangefinder">thermal imaging camera and a [[laser rangefinder in a live fire exercise">laser_rangefinder.html" ;"title="thermal imaging camera and a [[laser rangefinder">thermal imaging camera and a [[laser rangefinder in a live fire exercise A military artillery observer, spotter or FO (forward observer) is responsible for directing [[artillery and [[mortar (weapon)|mortar fire onto a target and may be a [[Forward Air Controller (FAC) for [[close air support and spotter for
naval gunfire support Naval gunfire support (NGFS) (also known as shore bombardment) is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range. NGFS is one of a number of disciplines encompassed by the ...
. Also known as Fire Support Specialist or FiSTer, an artillery observer usually accompanies a tank or infantry maneuver unit. Spotters ensure that
indirect fire Indirect fire is aiming and firing a projectile without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire. Aiming is performed by calculating azimuth and inclination, and may include correcting aim by o ...
hits targets which the troops at the
fire support base A fire support base (FSB, firebase or FB) is a temporary military encampment to provide artillery fire support to infantry operating in areas beyond the normal range of fire support from their own base camps. FSBs follow a number of plans; their s ...
cannot see. Because artillery is an indirect fire weapon system, the guns are rarely in line-of-sight of their target, often located miles away. The observer serves as the eyes of the guns, by sending target locations and if necessary corrections to the fall of shot, usually by radio. More recently, a mission controller for an Army Unmanned Air System (UAS) may also perform this function, and some armies use special artillery patrols behind the enemy's forward elements. Broadly, there are two very different approaches to artillery observation. Either the observer has command authority and orders fire, including the type and amount of ammunition to be fired, to batteries. Or the observer requests fire from an artillery headquarters at some level, which decides if fire will be provided, by which batteries, and the type and amount of ammunition to be provided. The first is characterized by the British, the second by the United States. In World War II both Germany and the Soviet Union tended towards the British method. In the US System, the observer sends a request for fire, usually to his battalion or battery Fire Direction Center (FDC). The FDC then decides how much fire to permit and may request additional fire from a higher artillery headquarters. FDC(s) convert the observer's target information into firing data for the battery's weapons. In the British system, the observer sends a fire order to his own and any other batteries authorized to them, and may request fire from additional batteries. Each battery command post converts the fire orders into firing data for its own guns. Until post-World War II the observer would usually order actual firing data to the guns of his own troop, this was enabled by the use of calibrating sights on the guns. Artillery observers are considered high-priority targets by enemy forces, as they control a great amount of
firepower Firepower is the military capability to direct force at an enemy. (It is not to be confused with the concept of rate of fire, which describes the cycling of the firing mechanism in a weapon system.) Firepower involves the whole range of potential ...
, are within visual range of the enemy, and may be located within enemy territory.


U.S. Army / U.S. Marine Corps

In the U.S. Army, a Light, Heavy, or Stryker Infantry company Fire Support Team (FIST) consists of a Fire Support Officer (FSO), a Fire Support Sergeant, three Forward Observers (FO), two Fire Support Specialists and three Radio Telephone Operators (RTO). Armored/Cavalry FIST teams usually consist of just one FSO and three enlisted personnel. Brigade COLT teams operate in groups of two individuals, a Fire support specialist in the grade of E-1 to E-4 and a Fire Support Sergeant in the grade of E-5. Currently in unit training is beginning to incorporate more close air support and close combat attack missions into the field artillery team's mission. In the U.S. Marine Corps, scout observers also act as naval gunfire spotters and call for, observe and adjust artillery and
naval gunfire support Naval gunfire support (NGFS) (also known as shore bombardment) is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range. NGFS is one of a number of disciplines encompassed by the ...
, and coordinate fire support assets to include mortars, rockets, artillery, NSFS and CAS/CIFS. A rifle company Fire Support Team typically consists of a Fire Support Officer (FSO), Forward Air Controller (FAC) or Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), two scout observers (FO), and two radio operators (RO). In Weapons Company, the Fire Support Coordination Center (FSCC) determines fire support asset allocation to each rifle company FiST, and supervises the planning and execution of each FiST's fire support plan. Key players in the FSCC include the Fire Support Coordinator (FSC), Battalion Fire Support Officer (FSO), and Battalion Air Officer (Air-O).


British Forward Observation Officer

For centuries the Battery Commander had been responsible for controlling the fire of his battery. This continued with the introduction of
indirect fire Indirect fire is aiming and firing a projectile without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire. Aiming is performed by calculating azimuth and inclination, and may include correcting aim by o ...
in the early years of the 20th Century. However, the First World War introduced 24 hour, seven days a week fighting. Furthermore, indirect fire had increased the distance between the guns and their targets, and between the observers and their guns. This led to the use of observing officers to act on behalf of the battery commander. In the 1938 re-organization of the
Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, Kin ...
batteries were divided into troops, with the troop commanders (Captains) as observing officers at an (OP). These officers and their parties could operate as either as an
Observation Post An observation post (commonly abbreviated OP), temporary or fixed, is a position from which soldiers can watch enemy movements, to warn of approaching soldiers (such as in trench warfare), or to direct artillery fire. In strict military terminol ...

Observation Post
(OP) or accompany the supported arm (infantry or armour) as Forward Observation Officers (FOOs). During World War II it became the practice for close support battery commanders to become part of the tank regiment or infantry battalion headquarters they were supporting. They also started using 'quick fireplans' usually limited to their own regiment, to support fast moving limited battalion actions. Generally FOOs were assigned to a company or squadron of a battalion or regiment that their battery was supporting. In the British artillery system FOOs were always authorized to order fire commands to their own troop or battery, based on their assessment of the tactical situation and if necessary liaison with the supported arm commander. From mid World War II some artillery observers were authorized to order fire to all batteries of their regiment, it also became the practice for some observers to be designated 'Commander's Representative' able to order fire to a divisional or corps artillery. Unauthorized officers could request fire from more than their own battery. During that war it also became the practice that FOOs arranged quick fireplans comprising several coordinated targets engaged by guns and mortars to support short offensive actions by the squadron or company they were with. In World War II OP/FOO parties were normally mounted in an armored
carrier Carrier may refer to: Entertainment * ''Carrier'' (album), a 2013 album by The Dodos * ''Carrier'' (game), a South Pacific World War II board game * ''Carrier'' (TV series), a ten-part documentary miniseries that aired on PBS in April 2008 * ''Car ...
, although those assigned to support armored brigades usually had a tank - initially a
Stuart Stuart may refer to: Names *Stuart (name), a given name and surname (and list of people with the name) Automobile *Stuart (automobile) Places Australia Generally *Stuart Highway, connecting South Australia and the Northern Territory Northern T ...
but in NW Europe usually a
Sherman Sherman most commonly refers to: *Sherman (name), a surname and given name (and list of persons with the name) ** William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–1891), American Civil War General *M4 Sherman, a tank Sherman may also refer to: Places United Sta ...
. Tanks continued to be used by some observers until about 1975. In 2002 the British Army adopted the term
Fire Support Team#REDIRECT Fire support team {{R from move ...
(FST) for its observation parties, including FACs under control of the artillery officer commanding the FST.


Mortar Fire Controller

A functionally similar title is "MFC" (Mortar Fire Controller). An MFC is an infantry NCO who is part of his battalion's mortar platoon. He controls platoon's fire in the same way as an FOO. The introduction of FSTs places MFCs under tactical control of the FST commander. Training, enabled by simulators, allows most soldiers to observe artillery fire, which has long been possible via a FOO.


Air Observation Post

The
Royal Flying Corps "Through Adversity to the Stars" |colors= |colours_label= |march= |mascot= |anniversaries= |decorations= |battle_honours= |battles_label=Wars |battles=First World War |disbanded=merged with RNAS to become Royal Air Force (RAF), 1918 |current_co ...
and
Royal Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" | colours = | colours_label = | march = Royal Air Force March Past | mascot = | anniversaries = | equipmen ...
had been responsible reporting targets and observation of fire in World War I, this role was subsequently called 'Arty/R, but proved difficult from high performance aircraft over hostile territory in World War II. In 1940 it was agreed that RAF AOP squadrons equipped with light aircraft, operating at low altitude over friendly territory and flown by
Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, Kin ...
officers would be formed. These squadrons existed until the formation of the Army Air Corps in 1957.


See also

*
Field artillery team In the US system for land-based field artillery, the field artillery team is organized to direct and control indirect artillery fire on the battlefield. Since World War I, to conduct indirect artillery fire, three distinct components have evolved ...
*
Fire Support Team#REDIRECT Fire support team {{R from move ...
(British Army) *
Forward air control Forward air control is the provision of guidance to close air support (CAS) aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller (FAC). A ...
*
Observation balloon An observation balloon is a type of balloon that is employed as an aerial platform for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Use of observation balloons began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, ...


Notes


References

*U.S. Army FM 6-30 *U.S. Army FM 22-100 *U.S. Army FM 3-09.30 {{DEFAULTSORT:Artillery Observer Category:Artillery speciality Category:Combat occupations