Mortar Utilization at the Army's Combat Training Centers

by Stephen J. Kirin, Martin Goldsmith

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Data from take-home packages and field observations suggested that light, medium, and heavy mortar weapons were underutilized or ineffective at three Combat Training Centers (CTCs) — the National Training Center (NTC), Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), and Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC). Observer/controller data confirmed that mortars caused little damage and mortar ammunition expenditure fell far below that expected and provided for in ammunition stockage. Mortars are underutilized at the CTCs because of perceived limited effects of suppression and, for heavy mortar training, limited dismounted infantry activity observed at NTC and CMTC. In addition to revising field manuals to provide better doctrinal guidance on use of mortars, CTC and home station training need to emphasize the task force commander's responsibility to identify specific mortar missions, the task force fire support officer's responsibility to design the linkage that allows mortars to execute the missions, and the importance of conducting fire support rehearsals with mortar platoon participation. Mortars should be more closely integrated with the lower level maneuver organizations, not with field artillery organizations. Whether to add forward observers to mortar platoons merits further investigation.

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