Final protective fire

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Two gunners from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 convoy security teams fire the rest of their rounds following the final protective fire scenario of the Battalion's field exercise at Camp Shelby. (June 27, 2007).

Final protective fire refers to a tactical plan for a military unit, set up by the forward observer in support of the infantry, to protect itself against overwhelming attack. A final protective fire is an immediately available preplanned barrier of direct and indirect fire designed to provide close protection to friendly positions and installations by impeding enemy movement into defensive areas.

The size of the FPF depends on the number and type of weapons firing (e.g., FPF size for one battery of 155 mm howitzers is 300 m × 50 m). The supported maneuver commander designates the location of the FPF and it is adjusted into place by the forward observer. Normally, the FPF is within 200 to 400 meters of friendly positions and is integrated into the final protective line of the maneuver unit.

As the "final" in the name implies, it is the last resort in defensive plans, involving artillery integrated with small arms and heavy machine gun fire directed dangerously close to friendly defensive positions that are at risk of being overrun by the enemy. A request for final protective fire generally has absolute priority over any other kind of request.

Final Protective Fire is commonly also incorporated into a defensive plan that incorporates a Final Protective Line, in which the Final Protective Line is a line that once the enemy has crossed, the FPF plan is enacted.

Reference: ATP 3-09.30