By Bruce W. Don, John A. Friel, Thomas J. Herbert, Jerry Sollinger
Ever since World War II, the importance of close support-responsive, flexible fire support that is needed near enough to friendly forces that it requires detailed integration and coordination-has been well understood by ground commanders. But Desert Storm and other operations since the end of the Cold War have made it clear that as the demands on U.S. forces have changed, defense needs have changed along with them. The authors applied varying types and levels of support to a series of combat scenarios, and determined that while close support does not always help-it can be crucial. Timing may be less important than matching weapons to targets, including damage patterns and terminal guidance systems, and using advanced systems to identify targets may afford greater impact.