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Close support


Close support in military operations refers to the direct assistance provided by one military unit to another, typically involving air, artillery, or other types of fire support. This assistance is primarily focused on engaging and neutralizing enemy forces in close proximity to friendly units. The primary aim of close support is to ensure the safety and operational success of the friendly unit by suppressing or destroying enemy threats.

Key Takeaways

  1. Close support refers to the actions of air, land, or sea forces directly assisting combat elements to achieve their objectives during a military operation.
  2. The main focus of close support is to provide timely and accurate support to friendly forces in close proximity to enemy forces, requiring careful coordination and communication.
  3. Various types of close support operations include air support, artillery support, and naval gunfire support, each contributing to the overall success of the mission and protection of friendly forces.


Close support is an essential military operations term as it refers to the coordination and execution of operations that provide direct assistance to combat units, enhancing their effectiveness on the battlefield.

By ensuring that combat support assets like artillery, aviation, and electronic warfare are accurately synchronized with the movements, tactics, and objectives of maneuver units, close support enables the military forces to achieve battlefield superiority, conduct decisive engagements, and ultimately, accomplish their missions with greater efficiency and flexibility.

In essence, close support emphasizes seamless cooperation and communication within the battle space, improving the overall operational effectiveness of military forces while minimizing risks to personnel and assets.


Close support, a crucial aspect of military operations, aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of ground troops in combat situations. The primary purpose of close support is to provide immediate and responsive assistance, which can encompass various operational techniques to facilitate the offensive or defensive tasks of ground forces.

This synergy between different military elements results in a formidable combined force that supersedes the individual capabilities of each asset. By leveraging air, ground, and naval resources in a cohesive manner, close support actions can overwhelm enemy defenses, protect friendly units, and secure contested areas.

One of the most prevalent forms of close support is Close Air Support (CAS), where aerial vehicles directly engage ground targets near friendly troops. CAS missions are delicately orchestrated, requiring impeccable coordination and communication to avoid friendly casualties and maintain the momentum of ground assaults.

Aided by precision-guided munitions, including smart bombs and missile systems, CAS plays a pivotal role in neutralizing hostile strongholds, disrupting enemy supply lines, or decimating armor formations. Similarly, other components of close support, such as artillery barrages or fire support units, contribute to a complete and synchronized approach, paving the way for successful operations with minimal risks to friendly forces.

Examples of Close support

Operation Overlord (D-Day Landings) – June 6, 1944: Close support played a significant role during the D-Day landings of World War II. Allied troops relied on close support from naval artillery, airborne assaults, and ground forces working together to establish a beachhead and push inland. This combined arms approach was critical to breaking through the heavily fortified German defenses along the French coastline and initiating the liberation of Western Europe.

The Battle of Kursk – July 1943: The German offensive against the Soviet Union, known as Operation Citadel, sought to encircle and destroy a large concentration of Soviet forces near the city of Kursk. Close support was essential during this battle as German tanks and infantry received support from Luftwaffe aircraft, which conducted air-to-ground attacks against Soviet defenses. Despite this, the Soviet Union was ultimately able to defeat the German forces and gain a strategic victory on the Eastern Front.

The Battle of Fallujah – November to December 2004: During the Second Battle of Fallujah of the Iraq War, U.S. and Iraqi forces collaborated to retake the city from insurgents. Close support, in the form of ground-based fire support and air-to-ground assaults, played a critical role in the urban fighting. Artillery, Bell AH-1W SuperCobra helicopter gunships, and fixed-wing aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornets provided cover and support to advancing ground troops, helping to clear heavily fortified insurgent positions and enabling the coalition forces to ultimately take control of the city.

Frequently Asked Questions about Close Support

What is close support in military operations?

Close support in military operations refers to the direct and timely assistance provided by a combat unit to another friendly unit engaged in combat. This assistance can take the form of fires, mobility support, or direct engagement with the enemy to help the supported unit achieve its objectives.

What are the primary functions of close support?

Close support has three primary functions: destruction of enemy personnel and equipment, suppression of enemy defenses, and protection of friendly forces. These functions enable the supported unit to maneuver freely, engage the enemy effectively, and avoid unnecessary casualties.

How does close support differ from other types of support?

Close support is distinguished from other types of support by its proximity to the friendly force and its responsiveness to the supported unit’s needs. Unlike general support, which is provided to a larger force or theater of operations, close support is tailored to the individual requirements of a specific unit or mission.

What types of military assets provide close support?

Close support can be provided by a variety of military assets, including artillery, attack helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and Combatant-Craft Assault (CCA) boats. The choice of assets depends on the mission, terrain, enemy capabilities, and friendly force requirements.

What challenges are typically encountered in providing close support?

Close support presents several challenges, including coordination among various assets, maintaining effective communication with the supported unit, accurate targeting of enemy personnel and equipment, and minimizing the risk of friendly fire incidents. Proper planning, training, and the use of modern communication and targeting technology can help mitigate these challenges.

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