Suppressive fire

From Academic Kids

Suppressive fire is a military term for firing weapons at the enemy with the goal of suppressing their ability to return fire or to move without cover, such as during an enemy assault. Specialized surppressive weapons are common, such as SAW like the M249, the PKM and the RPD. Especially when used with powerful weapons, surpressive fire has high volume and has the potential for high lethality against human wave attacks and thus against related assault techniques. Suppressive fire may be either aimed or unaimed, but the goal is to have it be relatively continuous and preventative of reciprocal assault.

Suppression of enemy fire is vital during troop movement especially in small tactical situations like an assault on a fixed position.

An example of the use of suppressive fire is as follows:

  • The enemy holds a fixed, reinforced position (it has erected barricades using sandbags and other material to protect itself);
  • The enemy has a clear field of fire, so the assaulting force has very few places to take cover (hide);
  • The enemy is looking out of small holes in the barricade to fire their weapons, so they are vulnerable to assaulting force fire only when looking through those holes;
  • The assaulting force has two or more people start firing suppressive fire at the enemy, aiming in general at the holes the enemy is looking out of, but not exclusively there, to make sure the enemy feels great danger from looking out and possibly firing back;
  • While this suppressive fire is happening, other members of the assaulting force run quickly to different positions and take cover again;
  • The process repeats, with the soldiers who ran forward laying down suppressive fire while the rest of their team joins them.
  • The assaulting force gains a more favorable position with each round of suppressive fire until they can achieve their objective.

The concept of suppressive fire is relatively new since the advent of the machine gun. It could be argued that, in some cases, the use of mass quantities of archers shooting great numbers of arrows at a target was suppressive fire. However, one should not confuse suppressive fire with massed fire, in which many people fire their weapons at once to use the combined firepower a sum greater than its parts.

Importantly, the use of suppressive fire is not limited to the use of rifles. During an assault on a beachhead as often occurred during World War II, navy gunships would fire guns / cannons at the shoreline, inland of the landing zone, as suppressive fire. This was intended to suppress any enemy fire from that area by forcing them to take cover from the large explosions of ordnance around them.

In popular culture, accessible demonstrations of suppresive fire can be seen in many Stargate SG-1 episodes where the characters are engaged in a firefight or an assault on a fixed position. Many older Western movies featured examples of the use of suppressive fire.

The phrase, "Go for it, I'll cover you!" is an example of a person promising to lay down suppressive fire so that their cohort can achieve their objective without being fired upon.


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