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Chief of fires (COF)

Definition The Chief of Fires (COF) is a military term referring to a senior officer responsible for the coordination and management of fire support assets within a unit or organization. This officer oversees the employment of artillery, mortars, air support, and other fire support resources to maximize their effectiveness in combat operations. The COF plays […]


The Chief of Fires (COF) is a military term referring to a senior officer responsible for the coordination and management of fire support assets within a unit or organization. This officer oversees the employment of artillery, mortars, air support, and other fire support resources to maximize their effectiveness in combat operations. The COF plays a crucial role in planning, targeting, and synchronizing fire support to achieve mission objectives and ensure the safety of friendly forces.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Chief of Fires (COF) is a critical position within military operations, responsible for coordinating and integrating all aspects of fire support to enhance the effectiveness of a unit’s combat power.
  2. COFs serve as principal advisors to commanders on all fire support matters, ensuring effective synchronization of lethal and non-lethal fires, as well as the interoperability between elements such as artillery, air support, and other firepower resources.
  3. Chief of Fires can also play a significant role in coordinating civil-military relationships, humanitarian aid operations, and other non-combat scenarios, demonstrating the versatility and importance of their position in various mission contexts.


The Chief of Fires (COF) plays a crucial role in military operations, serving as the primary advisor to the commander on all fire support and coordination matters.

As the key figure responsible for integrating and synchronizing fires within the unit’s area of operations, the COF ensures the effective employment of firepower to achieve the commander’s objectives.

Their expertise in fire support planning, coordination, and execution is crucial to the successful completion of missions.

Overall, the importance of the COF stems from their ability to optimize the utilization of critical resources, enhance situational awareness, and improve battlefield agility, ultimately contributing to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of military operations.


The Chief of Fires (COF) plays a significant role in military operations, functioning as a pivotal figure in orchestrating resources and facilitating communication to ensure effective fire support for the unit. The primary purpose of the COF is to synchronize, plan, and manage fire support assets in accordance with the commander’s intent and operational objectives.

These assets can range from field artillery, mortars, and rocket systems to air support and naval gunfire. By maintaining a comprehensive understanding of the battlespace and coordinating with various subsections of the force, the COF is able to maximize the impact of fire support, shape the battlefield, and enable the maneuver forces to achieve their mission objectives.

Furthermore, the COF is responsible for providing guidance and direction regarding the integration of fire support assets throughout all phases of the operation. This involves close collaboration with various staff sections, such as intelligence, operations, and logistics to ensure that fire support plans are tailored to the specific mission and take into account various factors, such as enemy capabilities, terrain, and weather conditions.

In doing so, the COF not only ensures that targets are accurately identified and prioritized, but also helps to minimize the risk of friendly-fire incidents and collateral damage while maximizing overall combat effectiveness. By leveraging their expertise in fire support coordination, the Chief of Fires plays an indispensable role in orchestrating the operational tempo and empowering their unit’s ability to succeed in dynamic and complex military engagements.

Examples of Chief of fires (COF)

The Chief of Fires (COF) is responsible for coordinating and synchronizing fire support assets and activities in military operations. Here are three real-world examples of the COF role or position in different military contexts:

Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) – During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the COF played a critical role in the planning and execution of numerous fire support missions and air support coordination. As part of the U.S. Army’s fire support structure, the COF was responsible for integrating artillery, mortars, close air support, and other indirect fire support assets to ensure timely and accurate fires on enemy targets and provide effective suppression of enemy forces.

Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014) – In the war in Afghanistan, the COF played a key role in coordinating assets and conducting fire support missions for U.S. and coalition forces. This included synchronizing efforts with non-traditional assets like unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. The COF’s role in Afghanistan demonstrated their importance in both conventional and counterinsurgency operations.

Joint Fires Exercise (annual event) – The annual Joint Fires Exercise, conducted by the U.S. military, is an opportunity for multi-service and joint forces to train together and refine their fire support coordination techniques and procedures. During these exercises, the COF plays a critical role in synchronizing fires across the land, sea, and air domains, along with integrating cyber and electronic warfare capabilities. The exercise showcases the need for effective communication and collaboration between all fire support agencies under the guidance of the COF.

FAQ: Chief of Fires (COF)

1. What is the role of the Chief of Fires (COF) in military operations?

The Chief of Fires, or COF, is responsible for coordinating and synchronizing the delivery of fires and effects throughout a specific area of operations (AO). This may include surface-to-surface fires, air-to-ground fires, counter-fire, and other joint fires and effects.

2. How does the COF support the commander’s mission?

By integrating fires from multiple assets, the COF ensures the commander’s operational objectives are achieved and enhances the effectiveness of the mission. This includes prioritizing and allocating fire support resources, advising the commander on fire support capabilities, and coordinating the efforts of subordinate fire support elements.

3. What are the key functions of the COF?

The COF’s key functions include planning and coordinating fire support, implementing joint fire support command and control, supervising subordinate fire support operations, and advising on the employment of joint fire support assets.

4. How does the COF coordinate with other elements of the military?

The COF works closely with maneuver commanders, fire support officers, and other staff elements to ensure the most effective use of fires and effects across the battlefield. They also liaise with external agencies such as joint and multinational forces, as well as government and civilian entities to coordinate efforts.

5. What is the typical rank of a COF in the military?

A COF is usually a field grade officer (e.g. Major, Lieutenant Colonel, or Colonel) or a civilian equivalent in the case of contractor support, depending on the size and complexity of the organization they are supporting.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Artillery Operations Management
  • Fire Support Coordination
  • Target Acquisition and Prioritization
  • Command and Control Systems
  • Field Artillery Officer Training

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army – Their official website provides information about various roles, including Chief of Fires (COF), within the United States Army.
  • GlobalSecurity.org – GlobalSecurity.org is a leading resource for military, intelligence, and foreign policy content, covering various military positions such as COF.
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff – The official website of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), where you may find information about various military roles, including Chief of Fires.
  • RAND Corporation – A non-profit organization that provides research and analysis on various topics, including military roles like the Chief of Fires.

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