Back in Breaking the Code, I mentioned one of the Infantry Military Occupational Specialties was Indirect Fire Infantryman. Translated to English, this means a mortarman. Mortars are the infantry and armor commander’s “hip pocket” artillery. Each infantry and armor battalion has a platoon of mortars and most infantry companies have a mortar section. Supporting fires are just a quick call away.
A mortar is basically a smoothbore tube with a firing pin at the bottom. The mortar round is stabilized in flight by fins at its bottom. The round is fired by simply dropping it down the tube. The range can be increased or decreased by adding or subtracting powder charges (called “cheeses”) from around the base of the projectile.
Our Army uses three different types of mortars, the 60mm:
Mortars can fire high explosive rounds to kill or supress enemy troops. They can also fire smoke to provide screens for friendly troops or mark enemy positions.
Here’s a quick youtube of a mortar platoon doing some live-fire. This was taken at the Pohakaloa Training Area on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is not exactly the garden spot of the world.