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-The following is a list of fire commands you will need to be familiar with.

-These are standard across most, if not all, combat units; Everyone needs to know this.

-This is the “verbal command” vocabulary for fire fight management; For the purpose of “Command and Control” of heavy weapons teams, designated marksmen, and fire teams.

-Pay attention and follow all commands from your leaders and fellow shooters.

-There is a reason for everything; Even the unreasonable. Act, don’t think.

-Commands are yelled, unless silence and stealth is implied.

-Commands are clearly pronounced with as little accent as possible.

-Each word is announced with a brief interval between each word.


-The List of Common Fire Commands-



Where: From your current position directly at the enemy. At possible enemy positions. At enemy equipment. Possible enemy escape routes.

When: When all your “pieces” are in position. Agreed time. Agreed “phase line” on battlefield.

Why: To initiate the firing portion of a “Raid” or an “Ambush”. To signal the start of the fight.

How: Shoot literally everything that belongs to the enemy.

Who: Everyone on the firing line with a clear line of fire; Leaders hold fire, observe effect on enemy, and manage your shooters.



Where: Directly at the enemy. At possible enemy positions. At enemy equipment. Possible enemy escape/entrance/incursion routes.

When: Immediately. Even if you have no obvious targets.

Why: To survive the enemy initiating contact on their terms in a far ambush.

How: Fire your weapon at anything that looks like the enemy.

Who: Everyone with a clear line of sight who wants to live to fight another day.



Where: When in an unfavorable position on the battlefield.

When: Immediately; Even if you have no obvious targets or don’t understand why.

Why: You are losing… You aren’t gonna win… You don’t have a choice… You are being flanked.

How: Repeat command “BREAK!!  CONTACT!!“. Lay down base of fire using 50% of your men; Other 50% break contact, set a safe position 25-50 meters behind the line. Find a clear firing lane. Repeat.

Who: By teams, squad, or element; By order of march; By “Duty, Detail, or Designation”.



Where:  When operating as the “Base of Fire” for another lead or flanking element.

When: As soon as you hear the command: Immediately.

Why: To avoid friendly casualties, maintain the illusion of suppression.

How: Repeat the command “SHIFT!!  FIRE!!” Shift to a previously designed target that is not going to hurt any friendlies. Create the illusion of suppressing the enemy in a designated safe area.

Who: Everyone in the base of fire element; Leadership manages shooters, maintains designated line of fire.



Where: When operating as the “Base of Fire” for the lead element or flanking element; Or from individual fighting positions.

When: As soon as you hear the command; Immediately.

Why: Lead or Flank Element is assaulting the objective.

How: Weapon on safe. Repeat Command “LIFT!!  FIRE!!”. Lift weapons in the air to confirm order. Check the shooters to your left and right for compliance.

Who: Everyone in the base of fire element; Leadership manages shooters.



Where: Everywhere.

When: Immediately; Something is very, very wrong or you won the fight.

Why: You are engaging friendly forces, fratricide, low on ammo, or too loud.

How: Stop Firing. Weapon on safe. Repeat “CEASE!!  FIRE!!  CEASE!!  FIRE!!  CEASE!!  FIRE!!”. Scan for threats. Engage confirmed Positive ID’s only= Requires leader’s approval.

Who: Everyone.



Where: Everywhere.

When: Immediately. Something is seriously wrong, or right.

Why: Doesn’t Matter. Do it now. Right Now.

How: Cease Fire. Weapon on safe. Grab all your gear. Rally on everyone. Repeat the Command “INDEX!!!  INDEX!!!  INDEX!!!” until others near you look at you, confirm “Index” and do the same. Pass the message along.

Who: Everyone. Get a head count. New Mission/New orders are coming. Rally on leadership.



Where: In the direction of travel of the individual or element yelling “AMBUSH!! AMBUSH!! AMBUSH!!”

When: Immediately.

Why: To survive a near ambush.

How: Charge the enemy in a straight line while engaging possible enemy or enemy positions.

Who: Everyone who wants to live.


“Spotter On… Fire When Ready”

Where: From your hide, LPOP, or hasty firing position.

When: Before reading and announcing wind speed and direction, After Target ID.

Why: Target has presented itself and been ID’d, agreed, and confirmed for engagement.

How: With a well coordinated team of your most experienced shooters. Shooter places weapon from safe to fire. Repeats “Shooter Ready”. Spotter announces wind call number two and shooter adjusts for wind and fires immediately before the “wind call” expires.

Who: A radioman, shooter, spotter, team leader, backup shooter; Any combination thereof.



Where: Anywhere. Preferably behind cover or concealment.

When: When you are out of ammo, reloading, or have a weapon malfunction during a gunfight.

Why: So shooters around you can increase their volume of fire and engage new and old targets.

How: Repeat “BLACK!!  BLACK!!  BLACK!!” until the problem has been corrected.

Who: Only the shooter who is out of ammo, reloading, or has a weapon malfunction.



Where: From the firing line, toward the enemy objective.

When: When ordered to do so, or, you see a peer bound and lay down a base of fire. It is then your turn to bound.

Why: To put pressure on the enemy, find a forward position, and assault the objective.

How: Weapon on safe. 3-5 second rush towards target. Look for cover, concealment, or hit the ground. Safety off. Engage targets.

Who: By teams, squad, or element; By order of march; By “Duty, Detail, or Designation”.


“RECON!!  BY!!  FIRE!!”

Where: From your position, fire into possible enemy terrain.

When: When ordered to do so by leadership after shooters have received a warning order to “Recon By Fire”.

Why: To probe for enemy or enemy positions. Trying to provoke them to return fire thus exposing their location.

How: Repeat “RECON!!  BY!!  FIRE!!”. Place weapon on fire and begin firing into possible enemy positions. Prepare to receive an order to “CEASE!!  FIRE!!  CEASE!!  FIRE!!  CEASE!!  FIRE!!” but continue firing until this order is given.

Who: Everyone with a clear line of fire. Observe area for enemy movement, incoming tracers, rocket trail, or muzzle flash.


“HOLD!!  HOLD!!  HOLD!!”

Where: Everywhere.

When: If you see noncombatants, possible enemy, or known enemy.

Why: To confirm the threat. ID the threat. Or, wait for threat to expose more of their element or move closer into range of your weapons. Or any combination thereof.

How: Repeat “HOLD!!  HOLD!!  HOLD!!” for everyone, except the enemy, to hear. Confirm visually. Keep weapon on safe. Scan for threats. Prepare to fire at will.

Who: Everyone. Leadership maintains visual sight of targets. Using binoculars or magnified scopes to watch the target(s) direction of movement and pick a point of demarcation. Open fire when 1/2 or 3/4 of enemy forces are within the “Point of No Retreat”.


“OPEN!!  FIRE!!  OPEN!!  FIRE!!  OPEN!!  FIRE!!”

Where: In direction of known and confirmed enemy force.

When: At the “Point Of No Retreat” for the enemy force.

Why: To maximize small arms range, firepower, and effectiveness in regards to primary and secondary rifleman.

How: Weapon off safe; Fire at will. Maintain good order and discipline on firing line. Leaders manage engagement and observe terminal effect on target. Cease fire when threat is neutralized, killed, or otherwise destroyed. Observe target. Repeat as needed.

Who: Everyone on the firing line with a clear line of sight to their target(s).


If I missed anything, let me know the command in the comments and I will update the article.

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