Operational Fires and Unity of Command
Monograph rept. AY89/90,
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This study seeks to provide a definition of operational fires, illustrated the concept with historical examples, and highlight doctrinal implications for the command and control of these fires. Operational fires are distinctly different from fire support at the tactical level. Though they can accomplish similar functions, operational fires differ from their tactical counterparts primarily in the effects desired and method of planning. The carpet bombing that preceded the allied breakout from Normandy during Operation COBRA, Operation STRANGLE in Korea, and Operation LINEBACKER in Vietnam are historical examples of operational fires. Fundamental tasks performed by such fires are to facilitate operational maneuver, isolate the battlefield, and destroy operational facilities. Air power has been the traditional means of delivering operational fires. While three operations were successful, problems were encountered. The lack of an effective command and control mechanism resulted in fratricide in Normandy and difficulty in coordinating air assets in both Korea and Vietnam. Joint doctrine that is now being written may alleviate some of these problems. Establishing unity of command will assist in maximizing the use of scarce resources and enhance the utility of operational fires in future campaigns.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Command, Control and Communications Systems