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Fire support coordination line (FSCL)

Definition A Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is a term used in military operations to define a specific line on the ground beyond which artillery or aircraft are allowed to fire at targets without needing to coordinate with the ground forces operating in the vicinity. It is established by the ground forces’ commander to ensure […]

Definition

A Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is a term used in military operations to define a specific line on the ground beyond which artillery or aircraft are allowed to fire at targets without needing to coordinate with the ground forces operating in the vicinity. It is established by the ground forces’ commander to ensure the safety of the ground troops during indirect fire support activities. Essentially, FSCL is largely a measure to prevent friendly fire.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is a strategic point that divides the battlefield in two; within this FSCL is the area in which artillery, air support, and other resources can be coordinated by the ground commander without coordination from higher command.
  2. This line is utilized to ensure prevention of friendly fire incidents, by distinguishing between friendly and enemy forces, hence increasing the efficiency and harmony between different military operations on a battlefield.
  3. FSCL does not inhibit or restrict the commander, but merely serves as a line where more caution is required. It does not restrict the physical location of ground troops or restrict the authority granted to any ground force commander for employing firepower.

Importance

The Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is a critical component in military operations, primarily for coordinating and synchronizing the use of different fire support assets.

This line distinguishes the boundary between close and deep operations and is crucial in ensuring effective and efficient use of various types of firepower where the risk of friendly fire is minimized.

It is vital for the protection of friendly forces, particularly when combined arms are in operation, as it helps reduce confusion and enhances the overall lethality of the force.

It also promotes cooperative planning and coordination among different units, thus further contributing to a well-orchestrated, integrated, and safe military operation.

Explanation

The purpose of a Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is primarily to ensure de-confliction and coordination between different units and types of firepower in the battlefield. It serves as a critical reference point in the operational arena by separating the areas where different units or forces could execute their firepower.

It is designed to facilitate the integration and synchronization of fire support from a variety of sources including ground, air, and maritime-based fire assets. This enhancement of synchronized operations can lead to increased effectiveness and provides safety measures, preventing one force from inadvertently striking another allied force positioned in the same battlefield.

Furthermore, FSCL is crucial for facilitating the rapid engagement of targets of opportunity and ensuring efficient use of diverse fire support assets. It provides clearly mapped boundaries that allow for smooth and unrestricted fire from various forces up to a predefined line, without necessitating specific clearance for each fire event.

FSCL doesn’t restrict the use of air or ground forces in any way, but assists better coordination to prevent potential fratricide. Hence, the FSCL serves a significant purpose in managing battlefield resources and increasing combat efficiency.

Examples of Fire support coordination line (FSCL)

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During this operation, fire support coordination lines were used to manage and coordinate attacking forces. The U.S-led coalition used FSCLs to limit each unit’s area of operations, thereby preventing friendly fire incidents, and helping to manage the logistics of the large-scale air and ground attacks conducted against Iraqi forces.

Battle of Fallujah (2004): In the Second Battle of Fallujah, fire support coordination lines were used to coordinate ground assault and air strike operations. The FSCL ensured that U.S. and British air and artillery strikes on insurgent positions didn’t overlap with the advancing ground forces, thereby preventing friendly fire.

Invasion of Afghanistan (2001): The use of FSCLs in the initial invasion played a significant role in coordinating fire support between multiple coalition forces. It allowed for the efficient use of air power and artillery in a complex and rapidly moving battlefield, ensuring that advancing ground forces were supported appropriately, and minimising incidents of fratricide.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL)

What is an FSCL?

A Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) is a defining line used in warfare to coordinate attacks and support amongst different forces to avoid any friendly fire incident. It ensures that coordination is required for any fire support attack across the line.

Who sets up the FSCL?

The land or amphibious force commander establishes the FSCL. This role can vary depending on the size and scope of the operation. It can be a major tactical command, a tactical command, or even a brigade.

Where is the FSCL usually located?

The FSCL is typically located forward – but not necessarily on – the line where the ground combat force is planning to coordinate fire support. This increases the scope for air interdiction and reduces the risk of friendly fire.

Why is the FSCL important?

The FSCL plays a vital role in military operations by ensuring a seamless transition of firepower between different units, reducing the risk of friendly fire. It also facilitates the deep operations of aviation, naval gunfire and ground forces.

What happens if the FSCL is not followed?

If the FSCL is not followed or ignored, it could lead to friendly fire incidents, causing disaster and reducing the efficiency of a combined force operation. It is essential that all forces adhere to the FSCL for smooth operation.

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Related Military Operation Terms

  • Artillery Support
  • Ground Forces Coordination
  • Close Air Support
  • Tactical Air Controller
  • Battlefield Management System

Sources for More Information

  • Australian Army: The official website of the Australian Army provides valuable information about various military operations including the Fire support coordination line (FSCL).
  • Canadian Forces College: The Canadian Forces College is a professional military education university and maintains a comprehensive library of resources on various military topics including the FSCL.
  • Marine Corps University: The Marine Corps University is a professional military education institution of the United States. They offer extensive materials and publications about military operations.
  • U.S. Army: The official website of the U.S. Army features a rich variety of resources, including detailed information and reference materials about the Fire support coordination line (FSCL).

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