Joint Fires as They Were Meant to Be: V Corps and the 4th Air Support Operations Group During Operation Iraqi Freedom

October 7, 2004

This paper discusses the development and employment within V Corps of a concept known as ìcorps shapingî during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Corps shaping was th euse of close air support aircraft, directed by 4th Air Support Operations Group (ASOG) controllers, in responseto target selections made by the V Corps Fire Effects Coordination Center (FECC) (targeting) to attack Iraqi forces within the V Corps zone to shape the battlefield for subsequent divisional maneuver. This innovative and flexible use of airpower to supplement corps artillery fires was uniquely successful in terms of munitions delivered on valid targets, as opposed merely to tons of munitions dropped, and in terms of avoidance of fratricide.

The concept, developed jointly by the 4th ASOG and the V Corps Fire Support Coordination Element of V Corps Artillery, represents an ideal employment of joint fires in which the Air Force did not care who nominated the target so long as it was valid, and the Army did not care who attacked the target as long as the effect appropriately shaped the battlefield for subsequent maneuver operations.

The V Corps and 4th ASOG experience in OIF offers neither a panacea nor the definitive answer to how close air support should be directed as an element of joint fire support because future battlefield conditions can easily change the dynamic.

It is, however, a fine example of teamwork that serves as a benchmark for future joint operations, offers scope for more development and improvement, and points the way toward further and even more fruitful collaboration among warriors of all armed services.