“Danger Close”

    Direct fire weapons systems rely on line-of-sight.  For example, a rifle, machine gun, anti-armor rocket, or tank main gun are all direct fire weapons.  A soldier sees the target and sends a projectile directly towards it.

    On the other hand, indirect fire weapons are those that do not rely on line-of-sight of the target for their deployment.

    Think of mortars, artillery, naval gunfire, and (maybe) close air support – these are all considered indirect fires. 

    Simply put - think of indirect fires as someone lobbing an explosive up in the air and down on the bad guys.

    Often, the troops carrying out these missions do not see the enemy.  They fire their weapons at the request of the troops who are engaged.  The coordination around this is actually pretty impressive, but beyond my capacity to explain. 

    Suffice to say that you can call someone who is miles away on the radio, give them coordinates for your target and your direction of observation, and they (the battery) are able to do calculations to figure out which direction and angle to aim their guns. 

    The most basic fire mission is the “adjust fire” mission, where the battery will launch one round at a time, to be walked onto the target.  The observer will make corrections (up, down, left, right) until the battery is able to get around in the desired location.  At this point, the observer requests a “fire for effect,” and every gun in the battery opens up on the target.  This mission can be repeated until the target is subdued.

    Sometimes, munitions may be dropped close enough to endanger friendly forces.  In this scenario, the forces requesting the fire mission will declare “Danger Close.”  A danger close distance depends on the type of munition requested. 

    For our heavy artillery, for example, anything within 600 meters of friendly forces is “Danger Close.” 

    For naval gunfire, the danger close distance might be 750-1,000 meters. 

    Not being an artilleryman myself, I actually don’t know what “danger close” means to the battery.  Obviously, if you are the force requesting support, you want your allies to know they are lobbing rounds close to your position.  It’s just good information.  However, I’m not sure what the battery does with that knowledge, other than triple check their aim before sending rounds downrange.  Perhaps they err on the side of caution (away from the observer) in their calculations. 

    So, what in the world has all this got to do with Project Management?