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The scope of this publication includes mortar crew training at the squad level. The 60-mm mortar, M224; 81-mm mortar, M252; and 120-mm mortars, M120/M121 are discussed, to include nomenclature, sighting, equipment, characteristics, capabilities, and ammunition. (For information on the tactics, techniques, and procedures that mortar sections and platoons use to execute the combat mission, refer to FM 7.90.) Mortars are suppressive indirect fire weapons. They can be employed to neutralize or destroy area or point targets, screen large areas with smoke, and provide illumination or coordinated high-explosive/illumination. The mortar platoon’s mission is to provide close and immediate indirect fire support for maneuver battalions and companies. For mortar fire to be effective, it must be dense and must hit the target at the right time with the right projectile and fuze. Good observation is necessary for effective mortar fire. Limited observation results in a greater expenditure of ammunition and less effective fire. Some type of observation is desirable for every target to ensure that fire is placed on the target. Observation of close battle areas is usually visual. When targets are hidden by terrain features or when great distance or limited visibility is involved, observation can be achieved by radar or sound. When observation is possible, corrections can be made to place mortar fire on the target by adjustment procedures; however, lack of observation must not preclude firing on targets that can be located by other means. Mortar fire must be delivered by the most accurate means that time and the tactical situation permit. When possible, survey data or systems, such as the Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS), are used to accurately locate the mortar position and target. Under some conditions, only a rapid estimate of the location of weapons and targets may be possible. To achieve the most effective massed fires, the MFCS should be used or a survey using accurate maps should be made of each mortar position, registration point, and target. The immediate objective is to deliver a large volume of accurate and timely fire to inflict as many enemy casualties as possible. The number of casualties inflicted in a target area can usually be increased by surprise fire. If surprise massed fires cannot be achieved, the time required to bring effective fires on the target should be kept to a minimum. The greatest demoralizing effect on the enemy can be achieved by delivering the maximum number of effective rounds from all the mortars in the shortest possible time. Mortar units must be prepared to accomplish multiple fire missions. They can provide an immediate, heavy volume of accurate fire for sustained periods. In heavy brigade combat team (HBCT) companies, mortars are normally fired from mortar carriers; however, they maintain their capability to be ground-mounted. Firing from carriers permits rapid displacement and quick reaction. Infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) companies must fire their mortars from the ground. Mortars should be employed in defilade to protect them from enemy direct fire and observation, and to take the greatest advantage of their indirect fire role. Although the use of defilade precludes sighting the weapons directly at the target (direct lay), it is necessary for survivability. Because mortars are indirect fire weapons, special procedures ensure that the weapon and ammunition settings used will cause the projectile to burst on or above the target. A coordinated effort by the indirect fire team ensures the timely and accurate engagement of targets.
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