Calling in Support Fire in Vietnam; Calling in Air Support - an example of typical radio traffic during combat.


POINTS OF ORIGIN

In order to deliver accurate air and artillery support fire, the person calling in the fire would generally refer to Points of Origin. These were locations on a map which were pre-plotted and from which other points on the map could be referenced by using 'steps' from one or other known Points of Origin.

The example below was submitted by Stanley Homiski, and gives a brief outline of the radio traffic that could be expected in the calling in of a fictitious air strike. Whilst the example given is quite heavily edited by the author (I imagine that the language was probably a little more colorful than that given here!) the intention was to keep the example simple and relatively short (without leaving out the important calls). It nonetheless conveys very well the steps involved in the process.

Stan Homiski writes....

Well, here is a go at a fictitious combat mission using Points of Origin as our starting point for calling in our position and also for calling an air strike, using a map of Vietnam (the one I have is a 1:250,000) with each grid being 15 minutes square.

The first Point of Origin I will call Papa Oscar Whiskey which is located at map co-ordinates 106 degrees 30 minutes Longitude and 11 degrees 0 minutes Latitude (top right). The second Point of Origin I will call Papa Oscar Zulu which is located at co-ordinates 106 degrees 15 minutes Longitude and 11 degrees 0 minutes Latitude (top left). The third Point of Origin I will call Papa Oscar Kilo which is located at 106 degrees 15 minutes Longitude and 11 degrees 15 minutes Latitude (bottom right). The fourth Point of Origin I will call Papa Oscar Tango which is at 106 degrees 30 minutes Longitude and 11 degrees 30 minutes Latitude (bottom left). As you can see I have merely have formed a square of 15 minutes. There are 15 intersecting lines of 1 degree each or 225 grid squares in the one large square. In Vietnam we would not  place the Points of Origins on the points that I have listed here, I am doing this in an attempt to make it understandable. 

OK let see how this goes. When contact with the enemy was made a sequence of events took place;

The CO, who was the overall commander, would need to have a clear picture of what was happening so he would be getting reports from his platoon leaders of locations of the enemy, estimated strength, type of incoming fire etc.

The Commo track would act as a relay station between the CO and Squadron, the CO and the Artillery (if no Forward Observer was on board) and the CO and the Forward Air Controller in the case of an air strike. The call would go something like this;

The first thing to happen is that the Troop CO calls the Commo Track with orders to contact Squadron and give them a status report...

6 to 65 notify Squadron of our situation and location out  

(notice that the call sign Saber Bravo was left off, this only happened on the troop push and was used for brevity).

The Commo track contacts Squadron, indicating that the communication is an emergency and Squadron acknowledges....

Saber 33 Saber 33 this is Saber Bravo 65 Saber Bravo 65 Flash over

Saber Bravo 65 this is Saber 33 go with Flash over

The contact with the enemy is reported and details of the enemy's location, relative to a Point of Origin, and strength are given as well as an indication of the type of fire which the Troop is receiving The Squadron acknowledges and repeats the information back to the sender in order to verify it as having been received correctly and that no mistakes have been made. Squadron also tells the sender that a Forward Air Controller will be available shortly....

Saber 33, Saber Bravo 65 Saber Bravo in contact from Papa Oscar Kilo left 5 up 4 estimate Victor Charlie Company, receiving RPG and Sierra Alpha over

Saber Bravo 65, Saber 33 I read back from Papa Oscar Kilo left 5 up 4 estimate Victor Charlie Company, receiving RPG and Sierra Alpha, Bravo Delta 2 up on your push 05 out

Once the FAC arrives at the scene he requests that the Commo track mark it's position. The Commo track pops a smoke grenade and informs the FAC who verifies that he has seen the smoke and tells the sender what colour of smoke he has seen and this is confirmed by the Commo track....

Saber Bravo 65, Bravo Delta 2 request you mark location with smoke over

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 smoke out over

Saber Bravo 65, Bravo Delta 2 I verify yellow smoke over

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 roger over

The FAC then advises what aircraft he has available for the mission and the type of weapons that they are carrying. In this case he has some 'fast movers', a pair of F4 Phantoms loaded out with 750-lb bombs, Napalm and 20-mm canon and due on station in about 10 minutes. The FAC requests that the friendlies who are in contact be prepared to mark their position with smoke in order to identify their location to the F4 pilots...

Saber Bravo 65, Bravo Delta 2 I have a pair of Foxtrot 4's with 750's, Nape and 20 Mike Mike on station in 10 be prepared to mark positions over

The Commo track passes this information and the request for smoke on to the Troop CO, who acknowledges....

65 to 6 be advised that Bravo Delta 2 has pair Foxtrot 4's with 750's, Nape and 20 Mike Mike in 10 require position mark over

6 to 65 roger out

Once the F4's are coming up on their final approach, the FAC requests that the unit in contact pops smoke, this request is forwarded by the Commo track to the Troop CO who confirms that smoke has been popped...

Saber Bravo 65,Bravo Delta 2 mark position with smoke over

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 standby out

65 to 6 mark position with smoke over

6 to 65 smoke popped out

 The Commo track informs the FAC that the smoke is out and again the FAC verifies that he has seen the smoke and confirms the correct colour....

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 smoke out over

Saber Bravo 65, Bravo Delta 2 I have red smoke over

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 roger over

Once the F4's begin their attack run the FAC advises that all tracks 'button up' as the strike will be close. This is acknowledged and passed to the Troop CO...

Saber Bravo 65, Bravo Delta 2 button up as strike will be within 100 meters, Foxtrot 4's will work trench line with 20 Mike Mike followed by 750's and Nape over

Bravo Delta 2, Saber Bravo 65 roger out

65 to 6 button up strike within 100, 4's on trench line with 20 Mike Mike then 750's and Nape out

Then the strike goes in.....


See also Fire Mission for a simulated radio transmission for artillery support fire and a medevac.


 

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