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Fire support team (FIST)

Definition A Fire Support Team (FIST) is a component of U.S. military operations responsible for coordinating and directing indirect fire support, like artillery or air strikes, on the battlefield. They serve as the primary liaison for ground infantry units and artillery or air support units. Essentially, their duty involves the strategic handling and placing of […]


A Fire Support Team (FIST) is a component of U.S. military operations responsible for coordinating and directing indirect fire support, like artillery or air strikes, on the battlefield. They serve as the primary liaison for ground infantry units and artillery or air support units. Essentially, their duty involves the strategic handling and placing of ranged fire support assets during combat operations.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Fire Support Team (FIST) refers to a specialized team within military operations, primarily tasked with coordinating and directing fire support. This support primarily includes artillery and close air support, crucial for providing strategic advantages during combat.
  2. FIST is usually integrated with infantry and armored units at a company level, aiming to facilitate quick and accurate communication between the ground units and the fire support units. They play a vital role in planning, coordinating, and executing fire missions to enhance the combat effectiveness of their respective units.
  3. The members of the Fire Support Team are highly skilled and trained in matters of target location, fire coordination, and damage assessment. They are essentially battlefield tacticians, and their efficient performance is a key factor in successful military operations.


A Fire Support Team (FIST) is a crucial element in military operations, bringing essential firepower and strategic support to ground combat units.

This is a specialized team proficient in coordinating and controlling fire support from various sources like artillery, naval gunfire, and aircraft to support infantry operations.

The FIST plays a pivotal role in enhancing the effectiveness of the ground force by delivering precise and coordinated fire support on the battlefield, thus helping suppress enemy forces, destroy targets, and provide protective and preparative fires.

Therefore, their importance lies in their unique ability to blend dominating firepower with real-time tactical intelligence, significantly influencing the outcome of military operations and battles.


The Fire Support Team (FIST) serves a critical purpose in military operations, particularly in those related to ground consequence management. Its primary function is to coordinate and direct fire support for its associated infantry unit.

The fire support may include indirect fire such as artillery and mortars, naval gunfire, close air support, and even offensive cyber or electronic attacks. Thus, a FIST acts as a strategic asset on the battlefield, taking care of the planning and delivery of networked fires to disrupt or destroy enemy forces.

In terms of practical application, a FIST helps ensure that the infantry unit it supports can move and fight effectively without being impeded by enemy forces. Operating as the lynchpin between its infantry unit and higher echelons of fire support, a FIST expedites the process of calling in and adjusting artillery fire, thereby successfully disorienting and destabilizing enemy resistance.

It plays a role not only in high-intensity warfare but also in counter-insurgency and peacekeeping operations by delivering proportional fire support that mitigates risks of collateral damage. Therefore, it’s safe to say that a FIST serves as the pivotal enabler of precision and timeliness in the application of coordinated fire power where it is most needed on the battlefield.

Examples of Fire support team (FIST)

Operation Desert Storm: During this 1991 conflict in Iraq, the U.S. army made heavy use of FISTs. The teams were crucial in locating and destroying enemy artillery and tanks, using their combat and communication skills to effectively coordinate various forms of fire support, such as air strikes and artillery fire.

Battle of Marawi: In this 2017 siege in the Philippines, the Filipino army used FIST teams to coordinate artillery and air strikes against ISIS-linked militants who had occupied the city. The fire support teams provided crucial assistance in driving the militants out of the city and reducing casualties among Filipino forces.

Operation Anaconda: During the early days of the war in Afghanistan in 2002, FIST teams were deployed as part of the U.S. and coalition forces to fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters in the Shah-i-Kot Valley. These teams played significant roles in supporting infantry by coordinating strikes from artillery, aircraft, and attack helicopters.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Support Team (FIST)

What is a Fire Support Team (FIST)?

A Fire Support Team (FIST) is a component in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps built to fulfill the growing need for artillery fire support, close air support and armed reconnaissance. Each FIST is generally made up of forward observers and air controllers.

What is the mission of a Fire Support Team (FIST)?

The mission of a FIST is to call for indirect fire support and integrate all forms of fire support, including artillery, naval gunfire, air support, and mortars into the combined arms team’s operations.

What is the composition of a Fire Support Team (FIST)?

A typical FIST is composed of three to four personnel – a team chief, forward observer, and fire support specialist, with some teams also incorporating a radiotelephone operator.

What skills do a Fire Support Team (FIST) need?

Members of a Fire Support Team (FIST) need to have expert navigation and communication skills, ability to work effectively under pressure, understanding of different types of artillery and aircraft, and the ability to make quick decisions in high-stress environments.

How integral is a Fire Support Team (FIST) in combat operations?

The FIST is usually the core coordinating element for all fire support assets within their assigned unit’s operations. They are essential for the success of combat operations as they contribute significantly to the unit’s firepower, offering both offensive and defensive capabilities. They are therefore very integral to combat operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Artillery Support
  • Indirect Fire Platoon
  • Fire Support Coordination Measures (FSCM)
  • Laser Designation
  • Fire Direction Center (FDC)

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army Official Website: The official website of the United States Army. It contains a broad array of information about various military operations such as a Fire Support Team (FIST).
  • Global Security: This website is a comprehensive source of defense, space, intelligence, WMD, and homeland security information, including details on military operations such as FIST.
  • U.S. Marine Corps Official Website: The official source of information about the United States Marine Corps. It provides details about the various combat and support teams, including FIST.
  • Janes: Janes provides open source intelligence, analysis and research on global military, security and resilience issues, including topics like FIST.

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