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Fire support officer (FSO)

Definition A Fire Support Officer (FSO) is a specialized position within the military, primarily responsible for coordinating and directing artillery and aerial support for ground units during operations. The FSO acts as the main liaison between infantry and artillery units, determining the most effective use of artillery resources. Ultimately, the FSO plays a crucial role […]


A Fire Support Officer (FSO) is a specialized position within the military, primarily responsible for coordinating and directing artillery and aerial support for ground units during operations. The FSO acts as the main liaison between infantry and artillery units, determining the most effective use of artillery resources. Ultimately, the FSO plays a crucial role in planning, organizing, and executing fire support missions, ensuring that these supports are integrated and synchronized with the overall mission strategy.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Fire Support Officer (FSO) is a key part of military operations who is primarily responsible for coordinating indirect fire support, such as that provided by artillery and air assets, during military combat operations.
  2. The FSO’s role involves strategy, planning, and communication: they formulate fire support plans, advise commanders about the effective use of artillery and airstrike assets, as well as facilitate communication between ground forces and indirect fire units resulting in synchronized, efficient operations.
  3. The FSO is also involved in the process of damage assessment, as they must monitor the results of the fire support and adjust future fire plans accordingly to maximize effectiveness and minimize potential collateral damage.


The term Fire Support Officer (FSO) is significant within military operations due to the critical role this position plays in coordinating and directing fire support during combat.

An FSO is responsible for planning, organizing, and executing fire support activities, such as the use of artillery, close air support, and naval gunfire, to ensure effective offensive and defensive fire impact.

Without the knowledge and tactical expertise of the FSO, a military operation may lack the necessary concurrent operations critical to mission success and safety.

The FSO, therefore, is pivotal in the operational planning and strategic implementation of fire support in an efficient and timely manner during a military operation.

Their input can enhance the combat effectiveness and operational agility of the force, making them a key figure in military command structures.


The Fire Support Officer (FSO) plays a crucial role in the planning and execution of military operations. Their primary function is to coordinate the employment of indirect fire support for their assigned unit, which could range from artillery and mortars to close air support and naval gunfire.

This requires a broad understanding of not only the technical aspects of these support systems, including range, accuracy, and potential effects, but also a keen tactical mind to ensure these assets are used to maximum effect on the battlefield. Furthermore, an FSO must work closely with commanders at all levels, providing advice and guidance on how best to use fire support assets to achieve their objectives.

This requires excellent communication skills and the ability to quickly assess a rapidly changing tactical situation, identifying targets that pose a threat to friendly forces and prioritizing them for neutralization. An FSO’s effective coordination and expert advice can significantly enhance the unit’s firepower, thus increasing its overall effectiveness and ultimately contributing to mission success.

Examples of Fire support officer (FSO)

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During the Gulf War, Fire Support Officers (FSOs) were utilized significantly to conduct large-scale operations against Iraqi forces. They were responsible for coordinating artillery, airstrikes, and naval bombardment to diminish enemy strength and clear the way for entry by ground troops.

NATO Operations in Afghanistan (2001-2014): Throughout Operation Enduring Freedom and the subsequent NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, FSOs played a key role in coordinating air and ground fire support to disrupt Taliban activities, protect NATO forces, and aid in restoring Afghan authorities’ control.

U.S. Operations in Syria (2014-2018): During the Campaign against ISIS, Fire Support Officers were valuable assets in coordinating airstrikes and artillery support for both U.S. Special Operations forces and allied local forces. They played an instrumental role in retaking key cities like Raqqa from ISIS control.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Support Officer (FSO)

What does a Fire Support Officer (FSO) do?

A Fire Support Officer (FSO) is responsible for coordinating and directing fire support for an infantry, armor, or cavalry unit. FSOs are in charge of the utilization of artillery and air power and often operate in cooperation with the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) resources of a unit.

What skills are required to be a successful FSO?

A successful FSO must possess great analytical skills, be physically strong, have good communication skills, and must be willing to experience combat conditions. Additionally, they should have a deep understanding of artillery tactics and be able to keep a clear head under stress.

How do you become a Fire Support Officer?

To become a FSO, an individual must first serve in the military (usually the army or marine corps). They then must attend and graduate from the Field Artillery Officers’ Basic Course (FAOBC) where they receive the grounding necessary to coordinate and direct fire support. After this, prospective FSOs must then complete the Fire Support Officer course, which specializes in the skills necessary for the role.

What are the risks of being a Fire Support Officer?

As with any military role, being a Fire Support Officer comes with substantial inherent risk. FSOs are often on the frontline of combat, where they may be exposed to enemy fire, challenging terrain, and adverse weather conditions. Therefore, FSOs must be prepared for these risks and equipped to deal with them effectively.

What is the importance of a Fire Support Officer in military operations?

Fire Support Officers play a crucial role in supporting infantry, armor, and cavalry units in combat situations. They integrate indirect fire capabilities into maneuver planning and execution, maximizing the effectiveness of fire support assets in the field. Their presence contributes significantly to the success of military operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Artillery Targeting
  • Forward Observer
  • Coordinate Air Support
  • Military Strategy Planning
  • Field Tactics Communications

Sources for More Information

Sure, here are four reliable sources where you can find more information about the military term “Fire Support Officer (FSO)”:

  • U.S. Army Official Website – This is the official website of the U.S. Army. It gives direct information about different job roles in the Army including the role and functions of a Fire Support Officer.
  • U.S Marines Official Website – The official website of the U.S Marine Corps also provides details about various military roles and tactics, including a Fire Support Officer’s duties and responsibilities.
  • Fort Benning Official Website – This website provides detailed resources about army training, doctrine, and strategies which include the Fire Support Officer role.
  • Military.com – This is a comprehensive website covering a variety of military topics. Their resource library often includes information about specific military roles and duties like the FSO.

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