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Fire support

Definition Fire support in military operations refers to the use of weaponry such as artillery, naval gunfire, or air strikes to aid ground combat troops. It is designed to suppress or destroy enemy targets, facilitate movement, and isolate the battlefield. It’s a supportive function that can be used both defensively and offensively. Key Takeaways Fire […]


Fire support in military operations refers to the use of weaponry such as artillery, naval gunfire, or air strikes to aid ground combat troops. It is designed to suppress or destroy enemy targets, facilitate movement, and isolate the battlefield. It’s a supportive function that can be used both defensively and offensively.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fire Support is a crucial component of military operations. It involves the use of various firepower resources, such as artillery, mortars, close air support, and naval gunfire, to assist and enable ground forces during combat.
  2. The primary intention of Fire Support is to nullify or suppress enemy forces, destroy their capabilities, and secure a significant tactical advantage. Its effective execution can considerably influence the outcome of a battlefield scenario.
  3. Though a potent force multiplier, the coordination and execution of Fire Support operations require a well-defined command structure, precise communication, and the integration of advanced technologies for target acquisition and damage assessment.


Fire support is crucial in military operations because it amplifies combat power by directly engaging threats or potential threats on the battlefield.

This term refers to various offensive actions of operational support units, such as artillery, naval gunfire, air missions, and even electronic warfare with the principal purpose of disrupting, degrading or destroying enemy forces, combat formations, and facilities.

By supplementing a traditional ground attack force, fire support aims to weaken enemy forces’ offensive capabilities and imposes detrimental effects to protect allied troops, thus increasing the effectiveness, protection, and survivability of the overall combat mission.


Fire support plays a pivotal role in military operations, serving as a force multiplier to increase the effectiveness of ground forces. Its chief purpose is to aid units engaged in combat by providing them with supplementary firepower from a variety of weaponry such as artillery, mortars, rockets, guided missiles, and aircraft.

The application of fire support can suppress, neutralize, or destroy enemy forces as well as create conditions that are advantageous for the friendly forces, helping them to execute their missions successfully. Fire support operates within a carefully coordinated effort, integrated with other combat elements and operations within a wider campaign or battle plan.

For instance, a fire support mission may be used to prepare an area for an infantry assault by neutralizing enemy positions, and then could continue to provide cover during the assault. At other times, fire restrikes or interdiction missions might support efforts to slow down or disrupt enemy reinforcements or logistics.

In essence, fire support serves as a critical tool that enhances the maneuverability, protection, and firepower of military units, aiding them in achieving their tactical and strategic objectives.

Examples of Fire support

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. military used fire support extensively to weaken the Iraqi army’s defenses. The operation consisted of an aerial bombardment phase followed by a rapid ground assault. During the aerial stage, artillery, warplanes and naval gunfire were used not only to attack strategic targets but also to provide fire support to ground troops.

Battle of Normandy (1944): In World War II, the U.S., UK, and Canadian forces utilized extensive fire support in the form of naval and artillery bombardment during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. This assisted in suppressing and neutralizing German coastal defenses to enable ground troops to land on the beaches and secure the region.

The Battle of Hue (1968): During the Vietnam War, United States Marines and South Vietnamese forces heavily relied on fire support in response to the North Vietnamese’s Tet Offensive. Artillery and air strikes were significantly used to provide fire support to regain control of the city of Hue, one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.

FAQs about Fire Support

What is Fire Support?

Fire support is the use of naval, land, or aerial firepower to assist a battle front during times of combat by attacking enemy combatants, bunkers, or other targets deemed threatening.

What are the different types of Fire Support?

The different types of Fire Support include artillery, naval gunfire, air-delivered munitions and other forms. The type used usually depends on the tactical situation and the available resources.

Who coordinates Fire Support in a battle?

Fire Support coordination is usually handled by a specialist role known as the Fire Support Coordinator or FSCOORD. Their responsibilities include planning, coordinating, de-conflicting and integrating use of available firepower.

What is a Fire Support Base?

A Fire Support Base is a temporary military encampment designed mostly for artillery, which can provide high volumes of fire to support infantry operations. These bases can be relocated as required in response to battlefield dynamics.

What is the importance of Fire Support in military operations?

Fire Support plays a crucial role in military operations as it can suppress enemy forces, provide cover for advancing troops, destroy enemy installations and more. Effective Fire Support is often key to achieving battlefield objectives.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Artillery Operations
  • Close Air Support
  • Combat Observation
  • Forward Observers
  • Indirect Fire Coordination

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Department of Defense: The official website of the U.S. Department of Defense, providing various resources including news, press releases, and articles related to military operations including Fire Support.
  • U.S. Army: The official U.S. Army website offers a wealth of information on all facets of Army operations, including fire support.
  • U.S. Marine Corps: The U.S. Marine Corps’ official website provides various resources, articles, and news about Marine operations including Fire Support.
  • GlobalSecurity.org: An independent provider of background information and developing news stories in the fields of defense, space, intelligence, WMD, and homeland security.

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