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Definition In military operations, “Fires” refers to the use of weapons systems to create a specific lethal or non-lethal effect on a target. The term encompasses the collective and coordinated use of both indirect and direct fire support, including artillery, mortars, air-to-ground and naval gunfire. It is an integral part of tactical and strategic warfare […]


In military operations, “Fires” refers to the use of weapons systems to create a specific lethal or non-lethal effect on a target. The term encompasses the collective and coordinated use of both indirect and direct fire support, including artillery, mortars, air-to-ground and naval gunfire. It is an integral part of tactical and strategic warfare that assists in gaining the advantage during conflict.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fires in military operations refer to the use of weapon systems to create specific lethal or non-lethal effects on a target. These can include artillery, bombs, rockets, and missiles.
  2. The effective use of fires in military operations typically requires careful planning and coordination to ensure that they are applied at the right time and place to achieve maximum effect.
  3. Fires can be employed in a variety of military scenarios, from full-scale warfare to peacekeeping operations, to disrupt, destroy, or neutralize enemy forces, protect friendly forces, or shape the battlefield to the advantage of friendly forces.


The term “Fires” in military operations is significant because it denotes the collective use of systems that provide lethal and non-lethal capabilities to disrupt, suppress, neutralize, destroy, or manipulate enemy forces, systems, or facilities.

These capabilities can include a wide range of systems such as artillery, rockets, missiles, bombs, and electronic warfare.

Fires support the commander’s intent and guide the maneuver elements by shaping the operational environment, protecting friendly forces, degrading the enemy’s ability, and achieving tactical, operational, or strategic objectives.

Its importance lies in its effectiveness to sustain combat power, fulfill mission requirements, and provide operational advantage over adversaries.

“Fires” therefore, is an essential component of comprehensive military operations strategy.


In military operations, the term ‘Fires’ refers to the utilization of weapons systems intended to neutralize, defeat, or destroy enemy forces. The primary purpose of ‘Fires’ is to enable rapid and sustained tactical actions in both offensive and defensive context. It’s essentially a way to disrupt or prevent actions by enemy forces, allowing one’s own forces to go into action with the highest possible advantage.

This can include a wide range of systems, from conventional artillery and missile systems to naval gunfire, air-delivered munitions, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. The ‘Fires’ serves a vital function by creating both physical and psychological impacts, disrupting enemy decision cycles, breaking their cohesion and destroying their capacity to conduct operations. It is typically utilized to set conditions for decisive actions and to prevent enemy counteractions.

It can also be used to isolate enemy forces by obscuring their vision, slowing their movement, or disheartening their morale. Additionally, it can help protect friendly forces by neutralizing the enemy’s fire capabilities. Overall, while ‘Fires’ holds swathes of destructive capacity, it is used judiciously and strategically to accomplish operational objectives with the least amount of force necessary.

Examples of Fires

Operation Rolling Thunder: This was a sustained aerial bombing operation carried out by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War from 1965 to

This military operation is an example of “fires” because they used extensive artillery and aviation assets to attack targets, thereby creating anticipatory effects and neutralizing the enemy.

Battle of Basra (2008): The Iraqi security forces launched a major offensive, code-named Saulat al-Fursan (Charge of the White Knights), against the Mahdi Army in the southern city of Basra. The operation critically involved “fires” as they used rocket, artillery, mortar, and tank fires to engage the enemy over extended fields of fire and assault.

Operation Desert Storm (1991): As part of the Gulf War, the U.S. and coalition forces launched an intensive aerial bombardment against Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure. The use of “fires” was pivotal, as the operation relied heavily on air power and artillery to shock, demoralize, and disable Iraqi forces in preparation for the ground assault.

Frequently Asked Questions about Military Operations: Fires

What is “fires” in the context of military operations?

“Fires” in the context of military operations refers to the use of weapons systems or other destructive forces. Often these are employed to suppress, neutralize, destroy or degrade enemy forces.

What types of systems could be used in fires?

Various systems can be utilized for fires within military operations. They include, but are not limited to, artillery guns, mortars, rockets, missiles, air-delivered bombs and naval gunfire.

Who is responsible for coordinating fires?

The coordination and control of fires is usually a joint responsibility between the ground forces commander and the fires coordination center. Their role is to deliver the most effective and timely fires to accomplish the mission objective.

What considerations are there for using fires?

There are several considerations when using fires in military operations. One must consider the risk of collateral damage, especially in urban areas, the timing and strength of fires, the type of munition used, as well as weather conditions and communication limitations.

Are there any guidelines for fires?

Yes, fires must comply with the law of armed conflict and military rules of engagement. They should minimize harm to civilians and civilian property whenever possible. Also, forces must always discuss and agree on the timing, location and intensity of fires to prevent friendly fire incidents.

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Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army Official Homepage – The official website of the U.S. Army is a reliable source of information about military operations and terms.
  • RAND Corporation – RAND provides analysis, research, and reports on various military strategies and operations.
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff Official Website – The official page of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff provides information on strategic direction, policy guidance, and planning documents related to military operations.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: Military Technology – Although not a military-focused source, Encyclopedia Britannica provides comprehensive, fact-checked information on many topics, including military technology and operations.

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