Fire support, in the military context, is the practice of protecting forces as well as enhancing their effectiveness through the use of artillery or rocketry. Typically, fire support is done using indirect fire weapons so as to provide the guns protection from enemy fire as well as proximity to supply by keeping them behind the FEBA. It may come from land gun and rocket forces as well as naval gun and rocket forces. Aircraft operating in this role are typically referred to as air support.

There are a number of possible objectives to a fire support plan (the sum of fires ordered in pursuit of a single objective is called a fire mission). These include (IIRC):

  • Harassment
  • Suppression
  • Disruption
  • Destruction
  • Counterbattery
  • Interdiction
  • Obscuration


Harassment fires are intended to keep an enemy off-balance and interfere with his operations. Harassing fire would involve, for example, intermittent fires of perhaps three to five rounds, aimed at concentrations of enemy activity. While this would likely not do much widespread damage, the time lost taking cover and restoring formations, as well as the exhaustion created, are the desired effect.


Suppression missions aim to do just that - keep an enemy unit under cover and unable to operate for the duration of the fire. Typically, this will be used to 'pin down' an enemy unit temporarily, either to allow a friendly unit nearby freedom of action or to prevent the target unit from escaping or defending properly. Suppression missions are much heavier than their name sounds; they involve continuous fires at perhaps an average of 1-3 per minute. The fire missions are spread out across a battery, meaning guns would likely take turns, but the idea is to maintain a relatively constant level of chaos in the target area.


A disruption fire is intended to destroy the enemy unit's ability to act cohesively even after the firing has stopped. The target unit would ideally require time to regroup, reorganize and perhaps rearm before recommencing operations, after being subjected to a disruption fire. The number of rounds used as we go down the list is increasing exponentially. A disruption fire might involve low-rate fire (1-3 rounds/minute) but from perhaps half the battery at a time.


As the name implies, the goal is to destroy the unit using artillery. Kill enough soldiers, wreck enough vehicles, cause enough chaos that the target unit would be unable to even reform without significant resupply and replacements. This can take an unbelievable amount of ammunition, and is typically only used against small targets (platoons, companies, teams) as larger targets would require an impossible load of munitions to carry out. Simple arithmetic on coverage and CEP will tell you that if you work out how many shots are required in order to achieve a high probability that enough targets were within the blast or shrapnel radius of a shell.


This type of fire (and it can be at any of the previously mentioned 'levels' is intended to destroy enemy artillery assets. Essentially, whenever a shell is fired at the protected point by enemy guns, fast radars and computers are used to reconstruct the incoming round's trajectory, and a quick fire mission (3 shells, say) is sent to strike the area from which the incoming shells rose. This has the effect of both unnerving everyone in your own company as well as (hopefully) catching the opposing gun before it has had time to decamp.


This is the orphaned child of this investigation. It's a disruption or suppression fire, but it typically is targeted on enemy concentrations, transportation networks and logistics dumps which are several kilometers behind the enemy lines. It is intended to catch units in 'transport' mode, vulnerable, as well as to prevent reinforcements and resupply from reaching the front line properly. A severe strike on a critical road junction or railhead (or even marshaling area, airbase, etc.) can drive an opponent onto the defensive as units and supplies intended for offensive operations suddenly are no longer available. It may not use just HE ordnance, but such specialized weapons as FASCAM.


Such fires use smoke, WP (White Phosphorus) and flare rounds to prevent the enemy observing activities under or across the target area.

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