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The FSCL.  Is It Still Valid Today?
CSC 1992
SUBJECT AREA Warfighting
		The FSCL, Is It Still Valid Today?
	     	    Major Robert D. Dozier
                  Conference Group 8
                      6 April 1992
		 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  The FSCL. Is It Still Valid Today?
Author: Major Robert D. Dozier, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: The FSCL has essentially become a restrictive
boundary to the Air Force while still being seen as a
permissive fire support coordination measure by the Marine
Corps, Army, and Navy.  The FSCL is supposed to be a tool to
help the battle run smoothly; however, it is a source of
argument between the U.S. services to determine exactly what
the FSCL will do.
Background: Fire support coordination measures are essential
tools of the fire support coordinator and fire support
coordination center in the effective coordination and
control of the commander's fire support assets.  They
provide a means by which the commander may ensure troop
safety, integrate his fire support with tactical operations,
and expedite the attack on targets.  To be effective, fire
support coordination measures need to be known, understood,
and adhered to.  With the advances of modern weapons and
subsequent changes in the roles of the combatants, questions
about the validity of some of the fire support coordination
measures have surfaced.  The fire support coordination line
(FSCL) is in the forefront of the controversy.  The FSCL is
a permissive fire support coordination measure that was
intended to allow the rapid engagement of targets by
permitting all fire support assets, air and ground, to
engage targets beyond it without coordination.  Previously
placed at a range beyond most ground forces supportive arms,
air assets felt safe from the effects of friendly fires.
Now, because ground-support assets have a greater range and
lethality, air forces want the FSCL to be restrictive,
requiring the ground-support assets to coordinate with air
assets prior to their engaging targets.  As a result, ground
forces with the capability to shoot beyond the FSCL are
significantly delayed or stopped from engaging deep targets.
This was the case during the recent war in Southwest Asia,
Desert Storm.  The functions of the FSCL have been debated
for over 10 years; it is time to decide its actual role.
Recommendation: All U.S. military forces need to meet and
decide what they want from the FSCL as a fire support
control measure.  The FSCL still has potential as a
coordination measure and should not be changed.  It is a
tool to be used in the appropriate situation.  If the FSCL
is not the most appropriate measure, then other more
appropriate measures should be used or developed if one does
not exist.  The keys to solving this dilemma are to know,
understand, and adhere to the fire support coordination
measure, once it is defined.
         The FSCL, Is It Still Valid Today?
                       Outline
Thesis: The FSCL has essentially become a restrictive
boundary to the Air Force while still being seen as a
permissive fire support coordination measure by the Marine
Corps, Army, and Navy.  The FSCL is supposed to be a tool to
help the battle run smoothly; however, it is a source of
argument between the U.S. services to determine exactly what
the FSCL will do.
I.  	Types of fire support coordination measures
     	A. 	Boundaries as fire support coordination measures
     	B. 	Permissive fire support coordination measures
     	C. 	Restrictive fire support coordination measures
II. 	Statement on problem
     	A. 	How fire support coordination measures are seen
     	B. 	The FSCL losing the clarity of its definition
     	C. 	The FSCL as a different meaning to the services
III. 	Effect of differing meaning to the FSCL in SWA
     	A. 	Field artillery units missions delayed
     	B. 	Air Force see FSCL as restrictive measure
     	C. 	FSCL as a restrictive measure
     	D. 	Use of RIPL with FSCL
IV.  	Weapons systems - Air Force concern over role of FSCL
V.  	Possible Solutions
     	A. 	Clearly define FSCL and use
     	B. 	Use of RIPL with FSCL
     	C. 	Change the meaning of FSCL
     	D. 	Use boundary in place of FSCL
VI. 	Conclusion
               The FSCL, Is It Still Valid Today?
     	The era of man against man in raw hand-to-hand combat
has long ago passed into the archives of history.  Since
those days man has looked for and invented weapons, each
more deadly than the last, to defeat his enemy in battle.
The desire and necessity to best an opponent in battle has
led to newer more deadly weapons capable of reaching great
distances.  In turn, these powerful weapons have led to
newer and more complex forms of battle.  So it is that today
the modern battlefield has become so complex that close
coordination is required to both fight the battle and
prevent adverse effects on friendly forces.
     	The responsibility far molding the battlefield and
integrating fire support rests with the commander.  To
advise and assist the commander with integrating his fire
support, the commander has a Fire Support Coordinator (FSC)
and a Fire Support coordination Center (FSCC).  The FSCC is
staffed with representatives from the various supporting
arms, primarily air, artillery, and naval gunfire and has
the basic mission of planning, coordinating, and controlling
all the supportive arms on the battlefield.  To accomplish
this, the FSC uses fire support coordination measures.
These measures provide, via common procedures and terms, for
the rapid engagement of targets while simultaneously
furnishing a reasonable margin of safety for friendly
forces.
     	Fire support coordination measures fall under three
basic categories: boundaries, permissive measures, and
restrictive measures.  Boundaries, a key element in fire
support coordination, define the geographic limits of the
zone of action of a unit.  Inside the boundary, a commander
controls the fires and maneuver of his unit as he sees fit,
unless restricted by a higher headquarters fire support
coordination measure inside the boundary.  All units outside
the boundary must coordinate with the unit owning the area
within the boundary before shooting into, across, or
allowing the effects of their fires to fall into the area
designated by the boundary.  Most often a boundary is
depicted in a linear fashion, but it may be, as the tactical
situation may dictate, depicted non-linearly.
     	Permissive fire support coordination measures -- the
coordinated fire line (CFL), the fire support coordinated
line (FSCL), and the free fire area (FFA) --  allow the
engagement of targets beyond a line or into an area without
further coordination.  The purpose of permissive fire
support coordination measures is to facilitate the attack of
targets. (9:2-11)
     	Restrictive fire support coordination measures -- the
restrictive fire line (RFL), the airspace coordination area
(ACA), the no-fire area (NFA), and the restrictive fire area
(RFA) -- impose certain requirements for specific
coordination prior to the engagement of those targets
affected by the measure.  The primary purpose of restrictive
measures is to provide safeguards for friendly forces. (9:2-
12)  Fire support coordination measures, once established,
must be disseminated up and down the chain of command and
across to adjacent units so that appropriate coordination
may be affected and a smooth progression of the battle may
occur.
     	Fire support coordination measures, though defined
basically the same way in various military manuals, are not
always interpreted the same, nor are they always expected to
be what they were designed to be.  The result is a hindrance
to the coordination process that causes wasted time and
effort.  To be effective, fire support coordination measures
need to be known, clearly understood, and adhered to at all
levels and by all forces using them.
     	A fire support coordination measure that is losing the
clarity of its definition is the fire support coordination
line (FSCL).  A permissive fire support coordination
measure, it is a line beyond which any target may be engaged
by any weapons system without the requirement for
coordination prior to the engagement.  It has instead become
a line of "deconfliction", between ground forces' fires
beyond the FSCL to "prevent duplication of effort and
fratricide of friendly  air forces" and a line that
"facilitates the deconfliction of Army and Joint Force Air
Component Commander (JFACC) requirements for airspace".
(2:2-15)  It is also more often being designated as the
hand-off point between the deep battle and the close battle.
(17:4)   So what's the problem?  The problem is that the
FSCL has essentially become a restrictive boundary to the
Air Force while still being seen as a permissive fire
support coordination measure by the Marine Corps, Army, and
Navy.  The FSCL is supposed to be a tool to held the battle
run smoothly; however, it is a source of argument between
the U.S. services to determine exactly what the FSCL will
do.
     	This particular disagreement surfaced in the recent
hostilities during Operation Desert Storm in Southwest Asia.
The air force elements and the ground force elements of the
coalition were in disagreement about the coordination
required to fire surface-to-surface and ground related
weapons beyond the fire support coordination line.  For
example, the Army's 1-27 Field Artillery, 42d Field
Artillery Brigade, firing in support of its 3d Armored
Division, was on several occasions "laid and ready" to fire
on Iraqi targets beyond the FSCL. Those missions ended
without firing because of problems of coordinating, clearing
missions with the Air Force. (13:33)  The Air Force insisted
that coordination was required and that it must be done
before ground forces were permitted to engage targets beyond
the FSCL.  This was the standing operating procedure
insisted on by coalition air forces.  On the other hand,
ground forces did not feel that coordination was a strict
requirement before targets beyond the FSCL could be engaged.
According to the actual definition of the FSCL, the ground
forces were more correct.  The definition, as contained in
JCS Pub 1-02,  states:
          	A line established by the appropriate ground
          	commander to insure coordination of fire not
          under his control but which may affect current
          tactical operations.  The fire support
          coordination line is used to coordinate fires of
          air, ground or sea weapons systems using any type
          of ammunition against surface targets.  The fire
          support coordination line should follow well
          defined terrain features.  The establishment of
          the fire support coordination line must be
          coordinated with the appropriate tactical air
          commander and other supporting elements.
          Supporting elements may attack targets forward of
          the fire support coordination line, without prior
          coordination with the ground force commander,
          provided the attack will not produce adverse
          effects on, or to the rear of the line.
          Attacks against surface targets behind this line
          must be coordinated with the appropriate ground
          force commander.
This definition is standard and established for use by all
Department of Defense (DOD) components and member nations of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). (14:144)
     	Although this definition states that any supporting
element may fire past the FSCL, the FSCL was, in the past,
placed too far out to be reached by surface fire means.
Thus, there was no threat that the effects of friendly fires
would accidently hit friendly aircraft working beyond the
FSCL.  The multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS),
particularly the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), and
the Marine Corps and Army's attack helicopters, which
usually work with the ground combat element, change the
situation.  ATACMS is capable of firing up to 150 kilometers
and attack helicopters are capable of moving great distances
at great speeds enabling them to go to the FSCL and engage
targets beyond it.  Added to this now are technological
advances, such as the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack
Radar System (JSTARS), which allow the acquisition of
targets much sooner and further away than in the past.  The
result is that the likelihood for the ground forces to want
to engage targets beyond the FSCL to better mold the
battlefield and accomplish its mission now increases.
     	In some DOD publications, it is stated that if targets
beyond the FSCL can be reached by surface fire means, prior
notification to the air component is recommended before
engaging the targets.  This is to lessen the possible
hazards of flying projectiles striking an aircraft.  It is
stressed, however, that if prior aircraft notification
cannot be effected, ground forces can still engage targets
beyond the FSCL.  Rapid engagement of targets is considered
an acceptable trade-off to the amount of risk the aircraft
incurs.  The requirement for coordinating with the air
component prior to the establishment of the FSCL implies
that once it is established the air component is aware of
the risks.
     	The trade-off of acceptable risks for rapid engagement
was not acceptable to the air forces of Desert Storm.  The
MLRS and ATACMS forced the air forces to reconsider the
risks in operating beyond the FSCL.  This led to the early
requirement for ground forces to effect positive
coordination with the air forces prior to engaging targets
beyond the FSCL.  This, in effect, restricted the fires of
the ground forces.  The purpose of the FSCL was thwarted
because ground forces were not allowed to rapidly engage
targets beyond the FSCL without going through the
coordination process.  The restriction for positive
coordination, in effect, established an informal airspace
coordination area (ACA).
     	An ACA is a restrictive fire support coordination
measure where "friendly aircraft are reasonably safe from
friendly surface fires." (9:2-14)  Informal ACA's can be
accomplished by separating surface fires by time, usually
controlled by a forward air controller or artillery forward
observer, "or by a terrain feature (e.g., surface fire south
of the river, aircraft remain north of the river)." (19:3-
19)  Either way, the purpose of the FSCL is lost.
     	A later effort to solve the argument of what the
function of a FSCL was during Desert Storm, was the
employment of a European NATO procedure called the
reconnaissance and interdiction phase line (RIPL).  The RIPL
is known in Korea as the deep battle synchronization line
(DBSL) and more informally in various sites throughout the
Army as the air deconfliction line (ADL), reconnaissance
deconfliction line (RDL), or just phase line "___ ."  The
RIPL, "normally 80-100 kilometers beyond the FSCL," (11:522)
is a line placed beyond the FSCL to allow the FSCL to
function as it is supposed to by doctrine, and a point
beyond which ground forces cannot shoot without
coordination.  That is, ground forces may employ their
weapons systems beyond the FSCL without coordination with
air forces, but they must coordinate to shoot beyond the
RIPL if they have the capability.  Figure 1 below is
provided to help visualize these procedures.
Click here to view image
      	For this situation, the Commander-in-Chief (CINC) has
an area of responsibility (AOR), and he has given the Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF) an area of operations to conduct
his portion of the CINC's battle plan.  The CINC is fighting
his deep battle with air controlled by the JFACC.  As
depicted, the 2nd Marine Division operating inside the MEF
area may engage target 1 without coordinating; it's within
the 2d Marine Division boundary.  The 1st Marine Division
may engage target 1 only after it has coordinated with 2nd
Marine Division; it is across a boundary which requires
coordination to shoot.  Both divisions may engage target 2
without coordinating with anyone; it is beyond the FSCL.  In
order to shoot target 3, both divisions are required to
coordinate with JFACC; it is beyond the RIPL.  Previously
this area, according to the definition of the FSCL, would
normally not require coordination to be engaged.  Both
divisions are required to coordinate to shoot target 4; it
is across a boundary.
     	The RIPL as a coordination measure, though in use for
many years, was not known to everyone and as previously
mentioned is known by, several different terms.  This is
another point of confusion and argument when employing the
FSCL.
     	The first step that must be taken in order to correct
the problems associated with using the FSCL is to clearly
define the FSCL.  This definition must be agreed to,
understood, and adhered to by all U.S. forces and their
allies.  As it is currently defined, the commander in
deciding whether or not to establish a FSCL, should look at
what advantages a FSCL would add toward the successful
completion of the operation.  The advantages should be
compared to the risks.  If the advantages outweigh the risks
and the FSCL is established, then the FSCL should be allowed
to function as it was designed.  As a permissive measure, it
is a useful tool in rapidly engaging deeper targets,
allowing the commander to mold the battlefield with his
ground-related assets as well as his aviation assets.  If
the risks outweigh the advantages, then other more
restrictive fire support coordination measures should be
considered.
     	The use of the RIPL beyond the FSCL offers a potential
solution.  It must, however, be clearly defined and given
one title, not five, and disseminated to all U.S. forces and
its allies.  If this measure is established, once effected
on the battlefield, it will allow the area beyond the FSCL
to be engaged by any weapons system to include aviation
assets.  Air forces, however, must understand that there is
inherent risk involved when operating inside of this area
and should not try to change the meaning or intent of this
system once employed in the theater.  The area beyond the
RIPL would be a zone where ground forces would have to
coordinate with air forces prior to engaging a target.  This
would guarantee aircraft working in this area a margin of
safety, at least from friendly ground force fires.
     	Another possibility to be considered would be to change
the definition and intent of the FSCL from a positive fire
support coordination measure to a restrictive one for ground
forces' fires and a permissive one for air forces fighting
the deep battle.  Basically the FSCL would become a line
beyond which any ground forces' weapons systems would be
allowed to fire only after coordination with the air forces,
and air forces fighting the deep battle could engage any
target without prior coordination.  This situation is a
reverse of the existing coordinated fire line, a line beyond
which ground forces may engage targets at any time without
prior coordination, as long as it is within their boundary.
Air forces may engage targets within this area only after
coordinating with the ground force that is operating within
the boundary.  (See target 5 in the Figure 1)
     	The use of a boundary in place of the FSCL offers a
solution.  Since no one may fire across a boundary without
first coordinating with the owners of the area on the other
side of the boundary, by placing operating forces inside a
completed boundary they are forced to coordinate when
engaging a target outside of their boundary.  In figure 2,
according to present doctrine, target 1 may be engaged by
both divisions of the MEF without coordination because it is
beyond the FSCL, but within the MEF boundary or area of
operations.  Target 2 can only be engaged after coordination
is made with the CINC because it is beyond a designated
boundary.  This situation is very restrictive.
Click here to view image
	A key element to any solution rests with the proper
functioning of the elements of the fire support coordination
center at all levels.  By doctrine, coordination is effected
at the lowest echelon possible and constant communication
and evaluation of the tactical and strategic situation is a
must in order for the tools of fire support coordination to
be effective. (9:4-15)
     	In today's highly mobile and fast-paced battlefield,
rapid engagement of targets deep in the battlefield,
utilizing all available firepower, could mean the difference
between success and failure.  The fire support coordination
line when known, clearly understood, and adhered to, is a
tool which provides for the rapid and orchestrated
engagement of targets.  Changes to its intent can lead to
confusion, wasted time, and loss of opportunity.
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