This information pamphlet has been prepared to assist you in the safe, effective employment of tactical air support. The subject items listed are not intended to be all inclusive. It is obvious that each unit may have unique situations which may call for more stringent precautions or undesired identification. In any case, it is your responsibility to be thoroughly cognizant of the precautions and procedures necessary for the safe and successful employment of tactical air support. Your Forward Air Controller will assist you during each strike, and he is just as anxious as you to get "Charlie" off your back.
PRE STRIKE PROCEDURES.
a. Marking Devices and Procedures.
c. Location of Elements. The exact position of all your elements must be known.
d. Troop Protection. You must know if your troops have any protection and cover. It is an essential requirement that the FAC be advised of the protective cover available to the ground forces. Tell him if you are dug in or behind trees, or in the clear, or what. Be specific. Then when the strike begins all troops must keep their heads down - don't sight-see an airstrike!
e. Air Request. Know the proper terminology for requesting strikes - don't request air for a single sniper; but, if you have significant contact, get a request for a FAC to have a look. Then, jointly determine your need.
f. Artillery. Be prepared to check fire supporting mortar and artillery fire on the request of the FAC. He can best help you if he can have a couple of minutes to locate the target before the fighters arrive. He can't pinpoint a position, yours or the enemy's, if he is busy dodging friendly artillery rounds.
a. Friendly Location. Be as precise as possible; know your location, use land marks and prominent geographical features to convey your location in relationship to target area. By all means, you must know which way your elements are in relation to your position. If you aren't certain, you're asking for trouble. Find out and explain your line of elements to the FAC utilizing compass directions as well as terrain features. BE PREPARED!
b. Enemy Location. Try to be as specific as possible to insure the first strike is right on target. Give the FAC a reference to gauge your estimate of distance, i.e.; "The distance from my smoke to the large clearing to my south, I estimate to be 100 meters. The target is 300 meters to the east of my smoke." Now the FAC has a better idea of how to correlate your directions and corrections to what he sees on the ground.
c. Marking Procedures.
d. Adjustment of the FAC's Mark. Be prepared to observe the FAC mark the target. He will tell you: "I'm going to mark, you adjust from my smoke." The easiest target for a fighter pilot to hit is the FACs marking rocket. If at all feasible, try to adjust him right on the enemy location you want destroyed. He usually has an ample supply of rockets, so let him mark again if the first one or two are way off.
e. Adjustment of Air Delivered Ordnance.
POST STRIKE PROCEDURES.
a. Plan ahead for additional air support. This keeps constant pressure on the enemy. If the first strike is missing the target area, or you receive fire from a different location, advise the FAC and get more air on the way .... BE PREPARED.
b. Plan to reinstate your artillery support as soon as the FAC clears the target area. Close coordination on the gun target line and a mutually agreed FAC holding area enables you to apply continuing pressure. If subsequent strikes are forthcoming, advise artillery you will be calling for a check fire when the next set of fighters are on station and ready to go to work for you.
c. Relay an estimate of residual enemy resistance and the locations to the FAC. This will assist him in locating the enemy before the next strike arrives. If you are able to put a WP mortar round in the target area after the fighters and FAC have cleared the target area, the more effective TACAIR will be.
d. The FAC relies heavily on you for his BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment). If you see results of the strike, either from your location or from a subsequent sweep of the area, tell the FAC. If he isn't on station at the time, relay the info to the Brigade S-3 Air. The fighter pilots would like to know when they've done some good work as much as you are pleased with your work. "Killed by Air" and other results of air strikes are the things which make good fighter pilots better fighter pilots!
The application of tactical airpower in a close-air support environment is, at best, a difficult task. The FAC with whom you work has been highly trained, as have the fighter pilots. Their prime mission is to place the ordnance on the enemy to relieve the pressure exerted on you. To do this, the FAC must rely on your knowledge of the ground situation before he can safely and effectively direct the air support. The responsibility for this mission cannot be carried solely by anyone. It is a team effort of you, the FAC and the fighter pilot. Here's hoping you are never in dire need of TACAIR, but if you are, BE PREPARED!!
Vietnam Lessons Learned No. 77 : Fire Support Coordination in the Republic of Vietnam. United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, 20th May 1970. Appendix 1 "Close Air Support Information for Ground Commanders", prepared by United States Air Force Division Air Liaison Office, 4th Infantry Division, 1st June 1969.