We are continuing our discussion on machine gun theory, specifically we are addressing an oft overlooked thing for support by fire: Ammunition planning. I know most of us thought we were joining the military and we wouldn’t have to do math anymore, but we were wrong.
Ammunition planning is in doctrine in the ATP 3-21.8 dated April of 2016. The first thing you must know is what the rates of fire are for your specific weapons system. Pictures one and two illustrate the sustained, rapid, and cyclic rates of fire for our machine guns.
Once that is done, as a part of the mission planning process, the weapons squad leader needs to identify key events, allocate ammunition to each event based off SOP, some units want 15 seconds of rapid rate to establish the support by fire or when shifting fires. Others want 30. The Weapons Squad Leader takes that into account and gets the total figures needed per gun. The Weapons Squad Leader then analyzes this amount and adjusts if necessary.
The main planning point with this is knowing your rates of fire. Sustained should be approximately nine rounds per burst with a four to five second pause in between. That means I should have approximately ten seconds for a burst and interval. This gives me six bursts a minute, for a total of 54 rounds a minute fired.
What affects this is the number of changes to the rate of fire I have. If I go cyclic for a time.period, I have to account for that in my math. For example, 950 rounds per minute divided by 30 seconds is 475 rounds.
At the end, I check my math. I tally the total rounds required, and compare it to the rounds on hand. If there is not enough on hand, I request for more for the mission.
So to sum up, ammunition planning is an essential skill for the weapons squad leader and even team leader to know. Management of support by fire ammunition is essential to ensure that the Paratroopers have sufficient ammunition for the engagements they may find themselves in