Observation and fields of fire. Observation relates to the impact terrain has on
reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. In the IPB context, it
refers primarily to visual and electronic line of sight (LOS) acquired through LOS
Many battlefield systems require LOS to function effectively. These systems
include radios, radars, electronic intercept and direction finders, jammers,
direct-fire weapons, human vision, and binoculars. Airborne and ground observers
also require LOS.
LOS affects aerial systems from the flight route of the aircraft out to the forward
limits of the area of interest, while the affect on ground-based systems is
generally limited to the immediate battle area. This affects the way a commander
views the battlefield, as influenced by the effects of weather and terrain, when
using the systems.
Fields of fire relate to the influence of terrain on the effectiveness of weapons.
The effectiveness of direct-fire weapons is heavily influenced by the terrain
within the target area. Fields of fire for direct-fire weapons require LOS from
the weapon to the target.
Through LOS analysis, the analyst determines how terrain affects optic and
electronic LOS. LOS overlays graphically illustrate these effects.
Horizontal LOS from specific vantage points may be graphically portrayed using
color codes, hatch lines, or other means to help the analyst determine what can be
seen. Communicators require high ground to ensure electronic LOS between the
Communication and electronic intelligence intercept and direction-finding (DF)
systems also need LOS to enemy transmitter and radars to detect, identify, and
locate command posts, fire direction centers, and air defense radars. Operators of
these systems will be concerned with detailed LOS analysis to determine the best
resources to use and for selecting sites.