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Fire support

An M198 howitzer firing a 155 mm caliber shell to provide artillery fire support

Fire support is a military term used to describe weapons fire used to support friendly forces by engaging, suppressing, or destroying enemy forces, facilities, or materiel in combat. It is often provided through indirect fire, though the term may also be used for some forms of supporting direct fire.

The United States Department of Defense defines fire support as "fires that directly support land, maritime, amphibious, and special operations forces to engage enemy forces, combat formations, and facilities in pursuit of tactical and operational objectives."[1]

Overview

U.S. Marines watching the aftermath of an airstrike during Operation Prairie II of the Vietnam War

Fire support generally consists of fire from heavy or crew-served weaponry with high firepower, including strikes and barrages from artillery, mortars, rocket artillery, and missiles; naval gunfire support from naval artillery; airstrikes, strafes, and close air support from military aircraft; and drone strikes from unmanned combat aerial vehicles; among various other forms. Fire support is typically ordered and directed by an observer (e.g. artillery observer, forward air controller, etc.) on the front line, and provided by a weapon crew or operator in the rear, usually from a fortification, vehicle, or facility (such as a fire support base).

Fire support is used to support and supplement military units that may lack the capabilities or firepower offered by fire support. For example, an infantry unit needing heavy explosives to bombard an enemy emplacement, or a large smoke screen to cover their advance, and lacking the ability to do so themselves (e.g. insufficient effectiveness using grenades), may call for fire support from a capable nearby mortar unit.

Fire support can reduce friendly casualties whilst devastating enemy capabilities and morale. Effective use of fire support—as seen during the 2018 Battle of Khasham of the Syrian Civil War, where an outnumbered force used various forms of fire support to their advantage, avoiding serious casualties—may help swing a battle in one's favor.

History

Varying forms of fire support have existed since the advent of early cannons and rockets, which were used to bombard enemy positions and fortifications to support infantry. Warships have long provided fire support using their cannons. The use of fire support in its current form developed during World War I and World War II, when combined arms and advances in technology and tactics made fire support increasingly effective.

Definition

Fire support is defined as "assistance to infantry and armored units by artillery fire, naval gunfire, and airplane strafing and bombing."[2]

Early cannons (1300-1599)

Early versions of artillery included the roman Bastilla, esentaily a large, mounted version of a crossbow that fired a single arrow. The first documented use of bombards, (large mortars) in Europe as we know them today was at the siege of Algeciras in 1343. By the 1470’s, casting and metal work dramatically improved, giving way to the modern cannon. In the early 15th century, cast iron balls were invented for cannons. These balls, combined with gunpowder, were commonly used during sieges. By around 1550, the French had begun categorizing their guns by caliber, leading to a more organized formation of artillery.

Renaissance and revolutionary cannons (1600-1790)

By around 1650, the french garrison gun was invented. The garrison gun was a gun that was usually mounted and tied down as to reduce recoil and could be mounted in very small spaces. By the mid 18th century, artillery pieces were making an appearance in North America, Mostly to fight off the Native Americans, most notably during the French and Indian War. Artillery now was used by the Americans in their war for independence. The continental army used cannons captured from the british at Fort ticonderoga, to win the battle of yorktown, the last major battle of the American Revolution.

Fire Support during the World War I and World War II (1914-1945)

During the first World War, fire support was mostly used preemptively before an infantry attack. Artillery was often used to destroy enemy forces and positions, as well as obstacles in and near trenches. During this time, we also see the introduction of chemical fire support, using chemical compounds inside of shells in addition to conventional armaments. During the second World War, there was a joint usage of fire support by field artillery, naval fire support and air support. Field artillery was mainly in the western and eastern theaters, while naval fire support was used during the pacific theater, however a large number of ships were used to give fire support on D-Day. During World War II there was a large use of aerial fire support that included major improvements in technology in all theaters and campaigns of the second world war.

Fire Support in Vietnam (1955–1974)

During the Vietnam war, fire support was used to flush out Vietcong and enemy positions as well as more unconventional methods. Napalm was used to destroy forests and jungles, resulting in less cover for the enemy.

Fire Support in recent warfare (since 1975)

During Operation Desert Storm the United States used fire support, particularly onboard naval craft to bombard positions. During this operation, we also see the introduction of drones into combat, as a way to provide fire support from the air without a manned aircraft. During Operation Desert storm, Artillery was used to achieve a decisive victory by coalition forces. More recently Artillery has been used in the Russo-Ukrainian war to bombard troops and key positions. When the war first broke out, the United States sent artillery aid including shells, cannons and Patriot missile defense systems to aid Ukraine. As of 2023, Fire support by tanks and artillery have been used by the Israeli Defense Force to bombard key positions in the war against HAMAS.

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ "fire support". www.dtic.mil. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  2. ^ "Fire support". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved June 3, 2024.

Admin. “U.S. and German Field Artillery in World War II: A Comparison.” The Army Historical Foundation, 7 Apr. 2023, armyhistory.org/u-s-and-german-field-artillery-in-world-war-ii-a-comparison/. Accessed 14 May 2024. Alexd. “Guadalcanal: The Joint Fight: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans.” The National WWII Museum | New Orleans, The National World War II Museum, 8 Feb. 2023, www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/guadalcanal-joint-fight-0. Accessed 14 May 2024. “Artillery Played ‘decisive’ Role in 1st Gulf War.” AUSA, 7 Aug. 2020, www.ausa.org/news/artillery-played-%E2%80%98decisive%E2%80%99-role-1st-gulf-war. Accessed 14 May 2024. Blosser, Kelly. “Naval Surface Fire Support—Mission Planning and Coordination.” US Navy, 1996, Accessed 02 May 2024. “Bombardments and Barrages: Preparing American Artillery for the Front in World War I.” American Battle Monuments Commission, 24 Oct. 2017, www.abmc.gov/news-events/news/bombardments-and-barrages-preparing-american-artillery-front-world-war-i#:~:text=New%20techniques%20they%20learned%20allowed,fire%20into%20a%20defined%20area. Accessed 14 May 2024. Coyne, James. “Weapons - Drones (Rpvs) | The Gulf War | Frontline.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 1993, www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/weapons/drones.html#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20May%201991,Corps%2094%3B%20the%20Army%2048. Accessed 14 May 2024. Golonka, Adrian. “The Role of Artillery in Joint Fire Support.” Safety & Defense, Safeth & Defense, 3 Nov. 2021, sd-magazine.eu/index.php/sd/article/view/136. Accessed 14 May 2024. Admin. “U.S. and German Field Artillery in World War II: A Comparison.” The Army Historical Foundation, 7 Apr. 2023, armyhistory.org/u-s-and-german-field-artillery-in-world-war-ii-a-comparison/. Accessed 14 May 2024. Alexd. “Guadalcanal: The Joint Fight: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans.” The National WWII Museum | New Orleans, The National World War II Museum, 8 Feb. 2023, www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/guadalcanal-joint-fight-0. Accessed 14 May 2024. “Artillery Played ‘decisive’ Role in 1st Gulf War.” AUSA, 7 Aug. 2020, www.ausa.org/news/artillery-played-%E2%80%98decisive%E2%80%99-role-1st-gulf-war. Accessed 14 May 2024. Blosser, Kelly. “Naval Surface Fire Support—Mission Planning and Coordination.” US Navy, 1996, Accessed 02 May 2024. “Bombardments and Barrages: Preparing American Artillery for the Front in World War I.” American Battle Monuments Commission, 24 Oct. 2017, www.abmc.gov/news-events/news/bombardments-and-barrages-preparing-american-artillery-front-world-war-i#:~:text=New%20techniques%20they%20learned%20allowed,fire%20into%20a%20defined%20area. Accessed 14 May 2024. Coyne, James. “Weapons - Drones (Rpvs) | The Gulf War | Frontline.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 1993, www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/weapons/drones.html#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20May%201991,Corps%2094%3B%20the%20Army%2048. Accessed 14 May 2024. Golonka, Adrian. “The Role of Artillery in Joint Fire Support.” Safety & Defense, Safeth & Defense, 3 Nov. 2021, sd-magazine.eu/index.php/sd/article/view/136. Accessed 14 May 2024. A graduate of the Naval Academy in 1930 Commander McMillian has had considerable and varied experience in connection with gunfire support strategy and tactics. He prepared the gunfire support plans for Attu. “Gunfire Support Lessons Learned in World War II.” U.S. Naval Institute, 10 Dec. 2020, www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/1948/august/gunfire-support-lessons-learned-world-war-ii. Accessed 14 May 2024. Manucy, Albert C. Artillery through the Ages: A Short Illustrated History of Cannon, Emphasizing Types Used in America. Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1985. O’Donohue, Daniel. Jont Fire Support. United States Military, 2019, Joint Publication 3-09, Accessed 29 Apr. 2024. Ratiliff, Timothy. “Field Artillery and Fire Support at the Operational Level: An Analysis of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.” School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Military, 2017, pp. 1–49. Why, Robert A. “The Evolution of Fire Support Doctrine Was Driven by Airmobile Doctrine and New Weapon Systems During the Vietnam War.” Mansfield State University, 2004, pp. 1–90. “World War II Aviation.” Homepage, Smithosnian, 13 July 2006, airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/world-war-ii-aviation-uh. Accessed 14 May 2024. A graduate of the Naval Academy in 1930 Commander McMillian has had considerable and varied experience in connection with gunfire support strategy and tactics. He prepared the gunfire support plans for Attu. “Gunfire Support Lessons Learned in World War II.” U.S. Naval Institute, 10 Dec. 2020, www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/1948/august/gunfire-support-lessons-learned-world-war-ii. Accessed 14 May 2024. Manucy, Albert C. Artillery through the Ages: A Short Illustrated History of Cannon, Emphasizing Types Used in America. Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1985. O’Donohue, Daniel. Jont Fire Support. United States Military, 2019, Joint Publication 3-09, Accessed 29 Apr. 2024. Ratiliff, Timothy. “Field Artillery and Fire Support at the Operational Level: An Analysis of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.” School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Military, 2017, pp. 1–49. Why, Robert A. “The Evolution of Fire Support Doctrine Was Driven by Airmobile Doctrine and New Weapon Systems During the Vietnam War.” Mansfield State University, 2004, pp. 1–90. “World War II Aviation.” Homepage, Smithosnian, 13 July 2006, airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/world-war-ii-aviation-uh. Accessed 14 May 2024.

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Fire support
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