CREW-SERVED WEAPONS Crew-served weapons are the fire support elements of the rifle companies. The weapons platoons and the 60-mm mortar platoons are responsible for the crew-served weapons. Their purpose is to provide each company with organic machine gun support, mortar fire support, and antitank defense capability.
Figure 4-14.- Platoon fire plan sketch. WEAPONS PLATOON Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta companies each have a weapons platoon. Terrain will dictate the number of crew-served weapons assigned to each platoon. The weapons platoon is normally composed of the following crew-sewed weapons:
M60E3 machine gun .50 caliber machine gun M19 grenade launcher M136, 84-mm launcher AT4 antitank weapon
NOTE: Refer to the Seabee Combat Handbook, Volume 1, for the characteristics of crew-served weapons and the weapons platoon organization.
Weapons Platoon Commander Similar to the rifle platoons, the weapons platoon commander must have constant communication with the squad leaders responsible for the crew-served weapon teams. The weapons platoon commander conducts his reconnaissance with the company commander or is directed to conduct it separately. In either case, the weapons platoon commander plans the employment of the weapons platoon. During the planning, it is important that the weapons platoon commander works with the rifle platoon commanders. The planning includes the following:
Fighting positions for crew-served weapons FPLs and PDFs for machine guns Primary and alternate positions for machine guns Sector of fire for each machine gun squad Sectors of fire for each assault team Covered waiting positions for the assault teams Primary and alternate positions for the assault teams
The selection of the weapons platoon commander is the substance of recommendations made to the company commander for the primary defensive employment of the weapons platoon. While on reconnaissance, the weapons platoon commander also selects supplementary positions, as necessary, from which the machine gun team may perform other defensive missions.
Fire Support Plan The company commander exercises control of the weapons platoon through the weapons platoon commander. He exercises control for the most effective defensive employment of the company. The weapons platoon commander ensures its effectiveness by preparing a detailed plan consistent with the recommendation accepted by the company commander. A fire support plan is prepared by the weapons platoon commander. The plan is based upon an estimate of the situation, the fundamentals of defense previously discussed, and a sound knowledge of crew-sewed weapon employment.
M60E3 Machine Gun Section The machine gun section is a major element of fire support for stopping the enemy assault immediately in front of the battle area. In a well-organized defense, most of the final protective fire (FPF) of the company is delivered by the machine gun section. The positions of the machine guns are planned primarily for this purpose. Roles of the M60E3 machine gun section are as follows:
Support the rifleman in the offense and defense. Provide heavy volumes of controlled, accurate, and continuous fire.
Engage predetermine targets under all visibility conditions.
Provide long range, close defensive, and final protective fries (FPFs).
Basis for FPFs in the overall defensive fire plan. Cover likely avenues of approach. Provide grazing fire.
Use of .50 Caliber Machine Gun In general, the roles of the .50 caliber machine gun are similar to the M60E3. The major difference is that the .50 caliber machine gun ammunition can penetrate light armor. The additional roles of the .50 caliber machine gun are as follows:
l Provide protection for motorized movements. . Destroy lightly armored vehicles. . Defend against low-flying hostile aircraft.
M19 Grenade Launcher The role of the M19 grenade launcher is similar to the M60E3 and .50 caliber machine guns. The weapon can be used to provide indirect or direct firing. Like most machine guns, the M19 grenade launcher can be mounted on a vehicle.
AT4 Antitank Weapon Primarily, the M136, 84-mm AT4 antitank weapon is used against armored personnel carriers; however, it can be used to disable a battle tank by striking the side or rear of the tank The AT4 can be fired from the right shoulder only.