FIRE SUPPORT COORDINATING MEASURES
Boundaries are the basic maneuver control measures used by commanders to designate the geographical area for which a particular unit is tactically responsible. They are normally designated along terrain features easily recognizable on the ground. They affect fire support in two ways:
- They are restrictive in that no fire support means may deliver fires across a boundary unless those fires are coordinated with the force having responsibility for the area within that boundary (unless a permissive measure is in effect).
- They are permissive in that the maneuver commander has complete freedom of fire and maneuver within his boundaries (unless otherwise restricted by higher headquarters). Many times, boundaries negate the need for fire support coordinating measures.
In many instances, the maneuver commander may choose not to establish boundaries for his subordinate elements. In that case, the FSO at that level is responsible for all fire support coordination within the area of operations or zone of action. The graphic below shows just such a situation. The brigade commander has assigned battle positions to his subordinate units and has not designated battalion boundaries. Thus, the brigade FSO is now responsible for coordinating all fires in the brigade sector except in those areas bounded by the battle positions. He may recommend to the brigade commander the use of fire support coordinating measures as the situation dictates; for example, a brigade CFL.
Fire support coordinating measures are designed to facilitate the rapid engagement of targets and, at the same time, provide safeguards for friendly forces. They ensure that fire support will not jeopardize troop safety, will interface with other fire support means, and/or will not disrupt adjacent unit operations. Graphic portrayal is in black and includes, at a minimum, the abbreviation of the measure, the establishing headquarters, and the effective date-time group (DTG). Usually, coordinating measures are labeled at each end of a line or within the graphic, space permitting.
Permissive measures are those that facilitate the attack of targets.
Coordinated Fire Line
The CFL (denoted by a broken line) is a line beyond which conventional surface-to-surface fires may be delivered within the zone of the establishing headquarters without additional coordination. Normally, it is established by brigade or higher headquarters; however, it may be established by a battalion operating independently. In the example below, the area that extends from the CFL forward to the end of the 2d Brigade boundary may be attacked by all surface-to-surface fire support means without coordination with 2d Brigade. This attack includes units in and adjacent to 2d Brigade.
In the offense, the CFL should be placed far enough in front of friendly forces to facilitate lifting and/or shifting of the measure to avoid friendly casualties and to allow room for the maneuver forces. Always be aware of the time required to lift and/or shift the measure.
In the defense, the CFL should be brought in close to friendly forces. Considerations for how close are based on weather, terrain, and munitions effects.
Fire Support Coordination Line
A fire support coordination line (FSCL) may be established by corps within its area of operation to support its concept of the operation. The FSCL is used to coordinate fires of air, ground, or sea weapon systems using any type of ammunition against surface targets. The location of the FSCL must be coordinated with the appropriate tactical air commander and other supporting elements. The purpose of this permissive fire control measure is to allow the corps and its subordinate and supporting units (such as the Air Force) to expeditiously attack targets of opportunity beyond the FSCL. The attack of targets beyond the FSCL by Army assets should be coordinated with supporting tactical air. This coordination is defined as informing and/or consulting with supporting tactical air. However, the inability to effect this coordination will not preclude the attack of targets beyond the FSCL. The interface within the FS cell between the various fire support representatives provides an excellent means of initially coordinating the attack of targets in this area. The FSCL is denoted by a solid line.
A free-fire area (FFA) is an area into which any weapon system may fire without additional coordination with the establishing headquarters. Normally, it is established on identifiable terrain by division or higher headquarters.
Restrictive measures are those that provide safeguards for friendly forces, facilities, or terrain.
Restrictive Fire Line
An RFL is a line between converging friendly forces that prohibits fires, or their effects, across the line without coordination with the affected force. It is established on identifiable terrain by the common commander of the converging forces. In the graphic below, 2d Brigade is conducting a link up with 1st Brigade. The 8th Inf Div commander, the common commander of both forces, has established the RFL. If 2d Brigade wants to attack Target AC2301, it must coordinate with 1st Brigade.
Restrictive Fire Area
An RFA is an area with specific restrictions and in which fires that exceed those restrictions will not be delivered without coordination with the establishing headquarters. It is established by battalion or higher headquarters. On occasion, it may be established by a company operating independently. The imposed restriction will be shown as in the graphic below, or a reference to the OPORD or OPLAN where the restriction can be found is annotated on the overlay.
A no-fire area (NFA) is an area into which no fires or their effects are allowed. It is established on identifiable terrain, normally by division or higher headquarters. It may be established in conjunction with a host nation to preclude damage or destruction to a national asset, population center, or shrine. It also may be established to protect an element of tactical importance, such as a fuel storage area. Two exceptions to the no-fire rule exist:
- When the establishing headquarters allows fires on a mission-by-mission basis.
- When a friendly force is engaged by an enemy located within the NFA and the commander returns fire to defend his forces. The amount of return fire should not exceed that sufficient to protect the force and continue the mission.
Airspace Coordination Area
An ACA is a block of airspace in the target area in which friendly aircraft are reasonably safe from friendly surface fires.
Informal ACAs are most often used and are the preferred method. An informal ACA can be established at task force or higher level and normally is not depicted on charts or maps. It can be established by using lateral, altitude, timed, or lateral and altitude separation. Informal ACAs are normally in effect for very short periods of time. Usually, the time period is only long enough to get the mission into and out of the target area (3 to 6 minutes). (See Appendix A.)
A formal ACA is occasionally established by brigade or higher headquarters. The ALO recommends the size. Altitude is in feet above sea level.
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