Question on FOOs for the Cold War gunners...

#1
I have recently been reading one of the 1980s US Army intelligence Field manuals on Soviet tactics and operations - it's quite interesting and reminds me that life was a lot simpler when THE THREAT was 3SA rather than religious nutters.

Anyway, it is quite sobering to read just how much artillery the Soviets could field, however their C2 did somewhat limit the flexible use of arty. In particular there seems to have been a shortage of dedicated FOOs in any mobile engagement and they would have relied heavily on preplanned fire missions on likely targets.

It got me wondering how NATO artillery would have coped, particularly as us Brits did not seem to have much in the way of artillery when compared to the bad guys. IIRC we were told that our better C2 would make our arty much more effective.

Over the years I did the basic arty fire control voice procedure etc but in each case we were trained to call up the attached FOO. Thinking back on it I only ever once saw a FOO at battalion level, but we were always told that we'd get one if things got real. :) (just like helicopters - heliBedfords anyone?)

Anyway, allowing for the fact that at the Bde level there would probably be a Field Regt of Abbots to support a battlegroup, can anyone tell me how many FOOs could be deployed in direct support?

TIA
 
#2
There was Field Regiment of Abbots in DS of a Brigade and IRRC each Bty (3 xGun Btys) had one FOO team but after mobilization could field two.
 
#3
Thanks.

The power of ARRSE strikes again. Post a question - get an answer 4 minutes later... :lol:
 
#4
Thanks.

The power of ARRSE strikes again. Post a question - get an answer 4 minutes later... :lol:
This is from 1975 when I did an attachment to a Fd Regt. The mobilization FOO's in our case came from a Yeomanry Regt based in the Midlands. One Sqn came from Stratford Upon Avon.
 
#6
There was Field Regiment of Abbots in DS of a Brigade and IRRC each Bty (3 xGun Btys) had one FOO team but after mobilization could field two.
Two FOO parties per gun bty and a 3rd on reservist mobilisation.

Our Op Parties, were embedded with the infantry regiments/battalions that we were directly supporting.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#7
Excuse me if I have missed something and am teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. I apologise in advance.

I was an RAC Control Signaller. Aside from running the Battlegroup Command Net and lots of other stuff, we were trained to do fire missions. I believe Crew Commanders and hence Troop Leaders also learned it, but in our troop, they deferred to me.

We tended to have an RA asset attached to BGHQ and we'd send the fire mission to him, and things would magically happen in the background. Either it came back "Shot" or it came back "Not observed send corrections". In the former case, it told me they had eyes on the target and would handle it, thank you. In the latter case, I became the de facto FOO.

On exercise (I never fired on 3 Shock Army), I always ended up sending corrections. My guess would be that on the exercise there were no real FOOs to exercise, whereas letting a crow run a fire mission let the whole combat team experience a fire mission. No pressure on me then. Once LCpl Alien (or anybody else) initiated a fire mission, the only traffic tolerated to interrupt the net was "Contact wait out."
 
#8
BC at BG HQ and two FOOs, in War third FOO from TA, with combat teams. On the average exercise with our supported arm, we ran ourselves ragged, as the FOOs kept being redeployed to whichever CT was then leading or most threatened. On one exercise, I spent the first day supporting two different sqns of 4 RTR in an advance, was then regrouped to a coy of Gren Gds for an all night fighting patrol, then back to RTR at first light to resume the advance
 
#10
We had 2 FOO parties per Bty early 80s, for big Ex like Lionheart the third came from the TA

Presumably, you also had the BC's party which, although normally stuck like glue to the BG comd, could also act as an FOO party - particularly if the Bg comd was up front somewhere sharp.
 
#11
BC at BG HQ and two FOOs, in War third FOO from TA, with combat teams. On the average exercise with our supported arm, we ran ourselves ragged, as the FOOs kept being redeployed to whichever CT was then leading or most threatened. On one exercise, I spent the first day supporting two different sqns of 4 RTR in an advance, was then regrouped to a coy of Gren Gds for an all night fighting patrol, then back to RTR at first light to resume the advance

On the other thread is mentioned George G Blackburn's seminal books on FOOing 25 lbers in France. He basically FOOs continuously for about a month in combat without much sleep, constantly switching to the "in action" company. At some point, he is giving a brief and, mid-speech, falls unconscious through chronic exhaustion. His companions simply assume hes been hit by a sniper and leave him where he is!

He ends up as the last surviving FOO in his regiment from the officers who originally landed in France, and keeps going by having a water bottle full of rum....
 
#12
Given that the Soviets didn't trust anyone to do anything, I suspect that their fire missions were ordained from on high, in advance, and signed in triplicate.

Can't see them letting anyone at the sharp end call one in or adjust fire - apparently they didn't even trust their fighter pilots to take decisions and relied massively on the ground controller (who would have been a politically-vetted and hence reliable officer) to tell them where to go and what to do based on radar and their verbal feedback.
 
#13
Given that the Soviets didn't trust anyone to do anything, I suspect that their fire missions were ordained from on high, in advance, and signed in triplicate.

Can't see them letting anyone at the sharp end call one in or adjust fire - apparently they didn't even trust their fighter pilots to take decisions and relied massively on the ground controller (who would have been a politically-vetted and hence reliable officer) to tell them where to go and what to do based on radar and their verbal feedback.
The Soviet method was massive preplanned fire strikes in the opening stages of an attack, however for close in control the BC would be travelling in his own vehicle and right next to the supported commander. Soviet FOOs seem to have been just a pair of eyes for the BC. They would report targets to the BC, he'd check them out with the supported commander and if a fire mission was required he'd sort out the details.
 
#14
Thanks for the replies chaps - very helpful.

Take yesterday off. ;-)
 
#15
Slightly OT ( but not a massive amount for ARRSE) I remember reading how the Soviet ( and now presumably Russian) way of attacking works. Very, very little flexibility and EVERYTHING timed to the smallest timeslot.

Arty prep based on a set rate of advance for X minutes, getting smaller calibre as the armour, BMPs etc get closer to the En. No concept of On Call fires that I can remember, though I may well be wrong. And they reinforce success, not failure, as western forces tend to do.

Masters of deep battle, as the Hun found out.
 
#16
The Soviet method was massive preplanned fire strikes in the opening stages of an attack, however for close in control the BC would be travelling in his own vehicle and right next to the supported commander. Soviet FOOs seem to have been just a pair of eyes for the BC. They would report targets to the BC, he'd check them out with the supported commander and if a fire mission was required he'd sort out the details.
Hardly a reactive system...

But then don't (or didn't) the spams have a system requiring certain officer interventions in every fire mission?
 
#17
I'm certain that we had more arty assets than my esteemed fellow arrsers are alluding to above. In a square BG with four Sqn/Coys groups (the successor of the CT), we had a FOO party with each one plus the BC at BG HQ. However, having spent years practicing the VP for fire missions as a troop leader and trotting it out on exercise with the FOO politely trotting it back to me, I am deeply suspicious that we would ever have been given control of live guns in the fog of real war (as opposed to the fog of Herforder).
 
#18
And they reinforce success, not failure, as western forces tend to do.

Masters of deep battle, as the Hun found out.

Viktor Suvorov reported similar. Basically if your sector was going badly and another was going well, you were basically just left to die as the reinforcements, arty etc was focussed wherever the attack was going best.

It's easy to do that kind of work if you have little respect for human life.

An interesting Suvorov quote (if I remember it correctly): "Why does the Soviet soldier not get issued a sleeping bag? Because he does not need one."

I think there's a lot of levels of understanding in that phrase, "need" being a bit of a jab at Marx, and also doctrinal - he didn't need one cos of the way they used their troops.

Basically his overall point in that chapter was that the Sov grunt units were expendable and to be fought to exhaustion. Then the survivors would be picked up and sent to the rear for rest and to be formed into new units, fresh reserves taking their place in the line. Hence no need for a doss bag.
 
#19
I did lethality trials on Soviet ammunition in the early '90's.High tech stuff including fragment measurement, depth of fragment penetration etc. Their ammunition was nowhere near as lethal as our stuff (particularly the L15). But the arty armour defeating natures (HEAT) were surprisingly effective.

Also as they had the habit of greatly outnumbering NATO arty assets the cheap, crappy ammo would have sufficed.
 
#20
The Soviet method was massive preplanned fire strikes in the opening stages of an attack, however for close in control the BC would be travelling in his own vehicle and right next to the supported commander. Soviet FOOs seem to have been just a pair of eyes for the BC. They would report targets to the BC, he'd check them out with the supported commander and if a fire mission was required he'd sort out the details.
We used to, no idea if still valid, do Fire Plans. X number of guns, with x ammo, for x number of minutes on tgt 1, then switch to tgt 2 and repeat, as per the plan. It used to be called a Rolling Barrage, but not quite the same. Assets would come and go as the FP required. Some would be permanently On Call for whatever was going on.

No, Fire Mission All Available, is the one we always wanted to do; think El Alamein (almost 900 guns) was the last time it was used. Even in GW1, we never used up a single day rate for any gun in action.
 

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