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Definition In military operations, the term “cover” refers to the use of physical obstacles or barriers to protect against enemy fire or observation. These could include things like buildings, hills, or other natural or man-made structures. The main purpose of cover is to shield troops, equipment, or areas from direct or indirect enemy actions. Key […]


In military operations, the term “cover” refers to the use of physical obstacles or barriers to protect against enemy fire or observation. These could include things like buildings, hills, or other natural or man-made structures. The main purpose of cover is to shield troops, equipment, or areas from direct or indirect enemy actions.

Key Takeaways

  1. ‘Cover’ in military operations primarily refers to any object or environment that can be used to protect oneself from enemy fire or detection. It is a tactical concept that ensures the safety and efficacy of military personnel during combats.
  2. Cover can involve a variety of forms including natural terrain like forests, hills, and rocks, built environments like walls and trenches, or even equipment such as armored vehicles. The choice of cover is crucial and often based on the specific mission, terrain, and enemy capabilities.
  3. Effective use of cover is a fundamental part of military training and tactics. It helps to conceal the troops, prevent them from being targeted, and provide them the advantage of surprise in attacks. However, misjudging or misusing cover can lead to exposure and potential danger.


The military operations term “cover” is crucial because it pertains to the strategies used to protect military personnel from enemy fire or observation.

In the dynamic and unpredictable environment of warfare, having an effective cover could mean the difference between life and death.

Cover could include anything from physical barriers, such as buildings, trenches, or natural topography, that can shelter military personnel and their equipment from enemy’s line of sight and direct attacks, to strategic actions like camouflage or tactical smoke to obscure visibility.

Moreover, it also encompasses digital and electronic cover mechanisms in modern warfare, such as signal jammers and stealth technology.

Hence, proper utilization of cover can drastically improve the chances of mission success and survival during military operations.


In military operations, “cover” serves an essential purpose: it enhances the protection of troops, equipment, or facilities from direct and indirect enemy fires or observation. During combat, the use of cover can be a determinant of the mission’s success, as it can significantly minimize the risk and impact of enemy detections and assaults.

Utilizing natural or man-made objects or features, cover can be anything from terrain and vegetation to buildings or constructed field fortifications that can shield forces from hostile attacks. Cover is crucial for strategically planning and executing maneuvers, facilitating the movement of troops with decreased visibility to the enemy.

It is used for concealing both stationary objects and those in motion. For instance, forces can use it to nearly disappear while stationary, move undetected, approach the enemy, or even retreat without being noticed.

That is to say, the effective use of cover can enable a surprise attack, offer protection during vulnerable situations like while re-loading or re-positioning, and can also provide time and space for determining the next course of action during unpredictable battlefield situations.

Examples of Cover

Operation Neptune (D-Day Landings): During World War II, one of the definitive military operations was the D-Day landings. As part of this operation, the Allied Forces used cover from naval and air bombardments to obscure their landing troops, thereby protecting them from direct and immediate German fire.

Operation Desert Shield: This was the initial military operation in the Gulf War where American forces had to move into Saudi Arabia to provide cover and prepare for potential Iraqi aggression. Essentially, their presence was a deterrent and cover against potential attacks by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

Operation Rolling Thunder: This was a long, extensive bombing campaign by the US forces during the Vietnam War, which served as a cover for ground operations by disrupting North Vietnam’s supply routes. The airborne forces also provided a cover to ground troops, allowing them to execute operations while the enemy was distracted or damaged by the bombing.

Frequently Asked Questions: Military Operations – Cover

What is “cover” in military operations?

In the context of military operations, “cover” refers to any object or obstacles that offers physical protection from attacks. It can be natural (like foliage or terrain) or man-made (like trenches, bunkers, walls).

What differentiates “cover” from “concealment” in military lingo?

While both cover and concealment help protect soldiers, the main difference is in the type of protection they offer. Cover refers to physical protection from enemy fire, while concealment is about hiding from the enemy’s visual detection without necessarily offering physical protection.

How do military personnel judge the effectiveness of potential cover?

A good cover in a military sense, is often judged by its ability to protect from different types of weapons. Other factors include its size (large enough to protect the whole body), its durability (how long it will last under continuous fire), and location (affecting visibility line, retreat possibility, etc).

Can “cover” be compromised?

Yes, a cover can be compromised. For instance, the enemy could discover its location or obliterate it with heavy weaponry. It is why soldiers change their cover position regularly to decrease the chance of being spotted.

How does “cover” play into different military operation strategies?

Cover is an essential element in military tactics. In offensive operations, soldiers would use cover to their advantage as they advance. In defensive scenarios, cover becomes part of the fortifications, shielding the defenders from the enemy attack. In either case, failure to utilize cover effectively often results in unnecessary risks and casualties.

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Sources for More Information

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica: An online encyclopedia with a wide variety of knowledge on various topics including military jargon.
  • U.S. Department of Defense: The official website of the US Defense Department provides a wealth of information on military terminologies.
  • Military.com: A website dedicated to military and veterans resources, including comprehensive information on military terms and phrases.
  • GlobalSecurity.org: A reliable source for defense and security related information, including military terms and operations.

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