MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
When going into combat, ground troops are frequently aided by fire support elements.
These assets are often based on artillery and close air support. The combination of these fire assets gives the maneuver element the lead it needs when closing with the enemy.
A fire support team is the maestro conducting the combined arms orchestra,which softens the enemy upon encounter with the Marine Corps maneuver element.
Marines with the Fire support Team for Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, conducted combined arms training in support of Large Scale Exercise 2014 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 9-10.
The excercise is a bilateral training exercise being conducted by 1st MEB to build U.S. and Canadian forces’ joint capabilities through live, simulated, and constructive military training activities from Aug. 8-14, 2014.
As one of the company commander’s assets, the team is designed to bring indirect fire suppression to the enemy.
“The purpose of the fire support team is to integrate all the different fire-support assets that the Marine Corps has to offer,” said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Wood, an artillery officer with 1st Bn, 1st Marines. “It serves as the coordination center at the company level to integrate those fire assets.”
The FiST, the team's Marine Corps monicker, is normally made up of four-to-six Marines depending on the individual company.
Wood said the team usually features an artillery forward observer, who is responsible for all artillery fire; a forward air controller, who makes and observes all calls regarding air fire; and a radio operator, all working under the guidance of the FiST leader.
“We work with artillery and air agencies, both fixed-wing and rotary, to provide fires that are not organic to the companies,” said 1st Lt. Davin Heaton, the FiST leader and a weapons platoon commander for Company A, 1st Bn, 1st Marines. “We get a ground scheme of maneuver from the company commander and his intent, and we translate that into effects on the target.”
The FiST ultimately shapes the battlefield and weakens foes giving the friendly maneuver element the upper hand as they close with the enemy, Heaton said.
The Marines set up communication with the command operations center as soon as they arrived at the location from which they would direct fires. Throughout the drill, the six-man team provided fire support for a notional ground maneuver element.