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The Mortar Carrier Vehicle (Stryker).

The current Army plan is to equip seven Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT) with the Mortar Carrier Vehicle B (MC-B). Mortar squads from the 172nd SBCT conducted a live-fire exercise in January 2005 and became the first SBCT equipped with MC-B. The live fire was the culminating event after 120 hours of New Equipment Training (NET) on the MC-B's unique systems and the Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS). Over the next few months, the 172nd SBCT MC-B crews will refine their individual and collective skills and develop new tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). The first two SBCTs are currently issued ground-mounted M120 mortars carried in a Stryker platform known as MC-A. Over the next two years the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) and 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (SBCT) will turn in their MC-As for conversion to MC-Bs.

The MC-B is based on the common Stryker vehicle and provides immediate, close indirect fire support to the SBCT in the conduct of fast paced offensive operations. The immediate, on-demand fires are critical to the ability of dismounted infantry to rapidly achieve decisive results. Supporting the Infantry in the assault entails close in fire, obscuration, precision strikes and the ability to effectively seal off or canalize an advancing enemy. The mortars provide accurate, lethal, and high volume of indirect fires to support operations in complex terrain and urban environments.

MC-B platform shares the same 14.5mm armor protection and can be upgraded with "slat" armor for rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) protection. Sharing the same drivetrain allows mortar sections and platoons to keep up with the supported force at a top speed of 60 mph.

MC-B shares the same communications systems as the rest of the Stryker family. The SBCT Situational Awareness (SA) enhances the mortar's accuracy and lethality through the use of the Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS).

Battalion Mortar Fire Direction Net FM (Voice)

Forward observers (FO) may use this net to request fires of the battalion mortar platoon. Other stations on the net include the fire support team (FIST) headquarters and the battalion/squadron fire support element (FSE). The battalion mortar platoon or troop FSE is the Net Control Station (NCS).

Battalion Mortar Fire Direction Net (Digital)

As necessary, the FIST sends fire missions to the supporting mortar platoon or section using this net.

Company Mortar Net (Voice)

Observers or the company/troop fire support officer (FSO) use this net to request fire from the company/troop mortars.

Direct Support Battalion Fire Direction Net FM (Voice) and Digital

This net is used for Field Artillery (FA) fire direction. The FIST uses this net to relay calls for fire through the battalion/ squadron FSE to supporting artillery assets. The direct support battalion Fire Direction Center (FDC) is the NCS. When a Stryker is present, it uses this net to request FA fires. The battery FDC and battalion/squadron FSE also are on this net.

M95 Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS) is an automated fire control system that is designed to resolve current mortar deficiencies.

The MFCS will be used by mortar platoon and section configurations that include an FDC, mounted 120ram mortar systems tracked (M1064s) and wheeled (M1129A1).

The MFCS will provide the primary indirect fire support for armored and mechanized infantry battalions. It will provide the capability to have self-surveying mortars, digital call for fire exchange, and automated ballistic solutions.

M95 Commanders Interface (CI) is a rugged, portable computer fully PC compatible, particularly suited to the requirements of military applications. Highly compact weighing 16 pounds with two batteries. The SMI is mobile, military-tough, die cast aluminum designed specifically for applications requiring the most demanding environmental specifications including Electronic Magnetic Impulse (EMI). The C1 is weather sealed, and built to meet the needs of mobile applications. It is particularly suited to the requirements of military applications in wheel/tracked vehicles as well as airborne and helicopter systems. The computer is designed to operate with two rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. These batteries are 10.8 volt nominal at 3800 ma/hr. The CI is equipped with a full function detachable sealed keyboard with integral mouse.

M95 Driver's Display (DD) is a segment mapped liquid crystal display (LCD) device that provides the driver with the information necessary to orient the vehicle upon emplacement and assist him in driving to the next firing point. Information is presented in graphical fashion in the case of steering directions and compass orientation, and in numeric form in the case of distance and heading.

M95 Gunner's Display (GD) provides the information that is necessary for the gunner to aim and fire the mortar in a graphical and textual format. Programmable function keys are used to invoke various displays that encompass the gunner's functional needs for information, status, and reporting.

The Recoiling Mortar System (RMS6-L) is mounted on a turntable and the mortar is adjusted or laid for deflection and elevation with two hand wheels. The recoil system absorbs the shock of a round fired and because of the light recoil can traverse a 4400 mil arc. This allows the crew to engage targets on both flanks of a sector in a matter of seconds without moving the carrier. The RMS6-L can engage targets using direct lay, direct alignment, conventional indirect fire and the hip shoot (See explanation--Mortar Engagements).


The MC-B Stryker is a battalion, company, or troop asset. The battalion mortar platoon consists of four MC-B vehicles and two HMMWVs. The company and troop mortar section consist of two MCB. Each MC-B will consist of a squad leader, gunner, assistant gunner, amino bearer, and driver. The five-man crew will have the military occupational specialty (MOS) IIC and be 120mm and M-95 qualified with a SBCT background.

Mortar Section Sergeant (SSG-11C30)

The mortar section sergeant is responsible (overall) to the commander for the mortar section. His duties include:

* Advising the commander on employing and positioning the mortar section.

* Assisting the FIST chief in planning fire support for the company/troop.

* Keeping the commander informed of the location of the mortar section and the status of the mortars and ammunition.

* Maintaining a situation map showing all supported units' locations, mortar positions, maximum range lines, and targets.

* Maintains data in CI.

* Planning, initiating, and supervising the timely displacement of the section.

* Supervising security, resupply, and communications for the section.

* Seeing that preparations are made for special firing techniques, such as direct lay and direct alignment.

* Performing the duties of chief computer.

* Maintaining ammunition records and submitting resupply requests.

* Recommending to the commander when the mortars should displace and controlling their displacement.

* Relaying enemy information from designated observers to the company and others, as directed using FBCB2.

* Performs security with the M240B when carrier is moving.

* Carries plotting board and radio when dismounted.

Mortar Squad Leader (SGT-11C20)

The mortar squad leader responsibilities include:

[] Moving and positioning the mortar as directed.

[] Ensuring that the mortar is properly laid.

[] Checking camouflage and overhead and mask clearance.

[] Maintaining a map showing positions, sectors, and targets (needed for independent operations or when displacing by squads).

[] Computing firing data for independent operations using M-95.

[] Ensuring that ammunition is properly stored.

[] Checking rounds for indexing and charges.

[] Maintaining communications with the Section Sergeant FDC, when applicable.

[] Performs security with the M240B when carrier is moving.

[] Carries plotting board and radio when dismounted.

Gunner (SPC-1 lC10)

The gunner's responsibilities include:

* Places the mortar into action.

* Conducts pre fire safety checks.

* Lays the mortar for deflection and elevation.

* Performs direct lay and direct alignment.

* Assists in removing a misfire.

* Maintains the mortar system.

* Takes the mortar out of action.

* Performs security with individual weapon.

* Carries 81mm or 60mm bipod when dismounted.

Assistant Gunner (PFC-1 lCl0)

The assistant gunner's responsibilities include:

[] Assists the gunner in the performance of his task.

[] Loads and fires the mortar.

[] Acts as gunner as directed.

[] Performs security with individual weapon.

[] Carries 81mm or 60mm cannon when dismounted.

Driver (SPC-11C10)

The driver's responsibilities include:

* Drives and maintains the mortar carrier.

* Performs mortar position security with individual weapon or M240B.

* Remains with carrier when squad conducts dismount operations.

Ammunition Bearer (PVT-11C10)

The ammunition bearer's responsibilities include:

[] Prepares and passes ammunition for firing.

[] Performs security with individual weapon.

[] Acts as assistant gunner as directed.

[] Carries 81mm or 60mm baseplate and ammunition when dismounted.

NOTE: Duties must be constantly drilled and personnel cross-trained.

Mortar Positions

Based on the mission, terrain and SBCT commander's guidance, the mortar section leader reconnoiters and selects mortar firing positions. In the battalion mortar platoon, a representative from the base gun and one man from the FDC may help reconnoiter and prepare the new position.

A mortar section position should:

* Allow firing on targets throughout the company's sector or zone, or the supported platoon's sector or zone. In the offense, one half to two thirds of the range of the mortars should be forward of the lead platoon. This reduces the number of moves needed.

* Be in defilade to protect the mortars from enemy observation and direct fire. Places such as the reverse slope of a hill, a deep ditch, the rear of a building, and the rear of a stone wall are well suited for mortar positions. The reverse slope of a hill may protect mortars from some indirect fire.

* Have concealment from air and ground observation. Vegetation is best for breaking up silhouettes. Vehicles should be positioned in defilade where natural camouflage conceals them. When the location of the firing position provides little concealment, consider the use of a hide position, which provides good cover and concealment and allows the mortar crews to quickly occupy their firing positions when required.

* Have overhead and mask clearance. Check overhead clearance by setting the sight at maximum elevation and looking along the mortar cannon. Mask clearance is checked the same way, but at minimum elevation.

* Have solid ground that supports vehicle movement and precludes excessive settling of base plates. On soft ground, put sandbags under base plates to reduce settling.

* Have 25 to 30 meters between 60mm mortars, 30 to 35 meters between 81mm mortars, and 35 to 40 meters between 120mm mortars. This reduces the chances of having more than one mortar hit by one enemy round. It also provides proper round spacing without plotting for each gun.

* Have routes in and out. These routes should ease resupply and displacement.

* Be secure. The section may have to provide its own local security. The mortar section has a very limited capability to secure itself. Normally, it collocates with other elements or has a security element attached.

* Avoid overhead fire of friendly Soldiers when possible.

The FDC may be in voice-distance of the squads; however, telephone wire should be laid from the FDC to each squad for security purposes and because battle noise may be so intense that the squads cannot hear the commands.

Mortar crews prepare mortar positions to protect themselves and to serve as firing positions for the mortars.

Means of Employment

Mortars displace to provide continuous support and to evade suppression, whether the unit is attacking or defending. The battalion and company mortar carriers carry a dismountable 81mm mortar and 60ram mortar respectively.

The displacement plan and the position of the mortar section in the unit formation should not disrupt the maneuver elements, should be responsive to the commander, and should provide the mortar section with local security. It should also allow the mortars to go into action quickly using the desired method of engagement and should provide ammunition resupply for the mortars. The displacement plan flows logically from other decisions made by the commander, the FSO, and the mortar section leader.

If the commander determines that operations (offensive or defensive) will move slowly enough to stay within mortar range and that continuous indirect fires must be available, he may order the mortars to displace to a suitable support position before the company moves out. In this event, he may not move them again until the unit reaches its next position. The choices available for displacement are displacement by section and displacement by squad:

Displacement by Section--The whole section displaces at the same time. This allows the section to mass fires and the section sergeant to keep control of his section. Moving as a platoon or section maximizes the FDC capability. It also is the fastest method of displacement. While the section is moving, its fire support is not immediately available unless it is positioned to fire using the direct lay or direct alignment methods or by conducting a hip shoot (See section on Mortar Engagement). Using any of these methods, the mortar section can be available with only minimum delay.

Displacement by Squad--This method allows continuous coverage of at least part of the unit's sector. It may be the most effective means of infiltrating the mortars. The commander also decides whether to move the mortars as a separate element in the formation or to attach each gun squad to a subordinate element.

Attached--The mortars are attached to a subordinate element when the situation requires that task organization (on a patrol or with the support element, for example) or when the mortars need additional control, security, and load-carrying capacity (during an infiltration, for example).

Separate--The mortars move as a separate element in the unit formation when the commander wishes to control them directly and keep them together for massed use. When the mortars move as an element, they can displace by section or by squad.

Mortar Engagements

There are various engagement methods: direct lay and direct alignment (which do not require a fire direction center), the conventional indirect fire, and the hip shoot. The primary methods of engagement for the 60mm mortar are direct lay and direct alignment.

Direct Lay--This method is used when the gunner can see the target. The mortar may be handheld or bipod-mounted. An initial fire command is required to designate the target and (if desired) specify the shell-fuze combination and number of rounds. The gunner then adjusts fire and fires for effect without additional instructions.

Direct Alignment--This method allows the mortar crew to fire from full defilade positions without an FDC. It requires that an observer be within 100 meters of the gun-target line and, if possible, within 100 meters of the guns.

Conventional Indirect Fire--This method is used when the mortars have been laid for direction and an FDC established with positions plotted on the M16 plotting board or the M-95 mortar fire control system.

Hip Shoot--When a call for fire is received during movement and the target cannot be engaged by either the direct lay or direct alignment method, a hip shoot is initiated. A hip shoot is a hasty occupation of a firing position; it requires both an FDC and an observer. The section leader normally acts as the FDC. The observer's corrections may be sent over the radio or by a wire net. The platoon or section leader must quickly determine an azimuth of fire by map inspection. He then gives this direction to the mortar squads. The section leader uses the MFCS, the graphical firing scale, or the firing tables to determine the appropriate elevation and charge. He uses either the MFCS or the plotting board to refine the firing data based on the observer's corrections. The section leader may use the aiming-point deflection method, depending upon the terrain. The second mortar is laid either by sight-to-sight or M2 compass.


The MC-B Stryker is designed to be air, rail, highway, and marine transportable by the same assets used to transport the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.


The two levels of maintenance in a two level maintenance system are field and sustainment.

Field maintenance is focused on returning a weapon system to an operational status. The field maintenance level accomplishes this mission by fault isolating and replacing the failed component, assembly or module on the weapon system. Field maintenance is characterized as "on- system" and "replace forward." The intent of this level is to replace the failed component, assembly or module that returns the system to an operational status supporting the tactical commander's needs. The field maintenance level consists of operators/ crew, organizational and selected direct support maintenance capabilities. Field maintenance also includes battlefield damage and repair tasks performed by either the crew or support personnel to maintain system in some operational state.

Sustainment Maintenance is focused on repairing components, assemblies, modules and end items in support of the supply system. Sustainment maintenance is characterized as "off system" and "repair rear." The intent of this level is to perform commodity-oriented repairs on all supported items to one standard that provides a consistent and measurable level of reliability. The sustainment maintenance function can be employed at any point in the distribution pipeline.

Ideally sustainment maintenance activities would support from the continental United States (CONUS), however, battlefield operations tempo (OPTEMPO) may dictate that sustainment maintenance activities be located closer to the battlefield to improve support.

Immediate, on-demand fires are critical to the ability of an SBCT to rapidly achieve decisive results. MC-B with well trained and fully integrated squads is more than capable of meeting any challenge in all levels of conflict.


Current doctrinal references used with MC-B are:

* FM 3-21.90, Tactical Employment of Mortars, 9 Oct 1992

* FM 3-22.90, Mortars, Dec 2004

* FM 3-23.91, Mortar Gunnery, 6 Dec 1991

* FM 3-21.11, The SBCT Infantry Rifle Company, 23 Jan 2003

* FM 3-21.21, The SBCT Infantry Battalion, 8 Apr 2003

RELATED ARTICLE: Keeping it simple.

A mortar is a portable muzzle-loading cannon that fires indirect rounds at low velocities, short ranges, and high arcing ballistic trajectories. All of these attributes are in comparison with the mortar's larger sibling, artillery, which fires at high velocities, long ranges, and low arcs. A mortar consists of a tube into which is dropped a mortar shell onto a firing pin resulting in the detonation of the propellant and the firing of the shell.

Mortars are normally included in infantry units. The advantage a mortar section has over artillery pieces is speed and higher rate of fire. It also has the advantage of being able to be fired from a trench or a defilade, thereby protecting the crew from enemy fire. In these aspects the mortar is an excellent infantry support weapon as it can travel over any terrain and is not burdened by the logistical support and geographical structure needed for artillery.

Design--Mortars normally range in size from 60 millimeters (2.36 inches) to 120 millimeters (4.72 inches); however, variations both larger and smaller than these specifications have been produced. An example of the smaller scale is the British 51ram light mortar which is carried by an individual and consists of only a tube and a base plate. Conversely, a large abnormality is the Soviet 2S4 M1975 "Tyulpan" (Tulip Tree) 240mm self-propelled mortar. Aside from these though, most mortar systems consist of three main components: a tube, a base plate, and a bipod. These weapons are commonly used and transported by Infantry-based mortar sections. Ammunition for mortar systems generally come in two main varieties: fin-stabilized and spin-stabilized. The former have short fins on their posterior portion that control their path in flight. The latter use rotational spin (similar to a thrown football) to balance and control the cartridge. These rounds can either be illumination, smoke, or high explosive.

History--Mortars have existed for hundreds of years, first finding usage in siege warfare. However, these weapons were huge heavy iron monstrosities that could not be easily transported. Simply made, these weapons were no more than an iron bowl truly reminiscent of the mortar from which they drew their name. Portable mortars were first seen during the Civil War and its resulting railroad mortars. However, it was not until World War I that the modern, man-portable mortar was born. Extremely useful in the muddy trenches of Europe, mortars were praised because of their high angle of attack. A mortar round could be aimed to fall directly into trenches where artillery rounds, due to their low angle of flight, could not possibly go. Modern mortars have improved upon these designs even more offering a weapon that is light, adaptable, easy to operate, and yet possesses enough firepower to provide the Infantry with quality close support.

Captain Kevin Cline is currently serving as the assistant TRADOC Systems Manager--Stryker Bradley at Fort Benning, Georgia. He is a 1995 graduate of the Citadel. CPT Cline has served as an armor platoon leader and staff officer for the 1st Cavalry Division with a tour in Bosnia. He has also served as a company commander and staff officer with the 1stArmored Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Command Sergeant Major Miles Retherford, U.S. Army Retired, is currently serving as the senior program analyst for TSM-Stryker Bradley at Fort Benning. He has served in every infantry leadership position from squad leader to command sergeant major. He has also served as an instructor for the Infantry Mortar Leaders Course, Airborne Course, Jumpmaster Course, Pathfinder Course, and at the U.S. Military Academy at WestPoint.
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Title Annotation:TSM Stryker/Bradley Corner
Author:Cline, Kevin; Retherford, Miles
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Previous Article:CROWS arrive in Iraq to keep gunners out of sight.
Next Article:Proper reporting procedures important to operational success.

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