Forward air control is the provision of guidance to close air support (CAS)[1] aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller (FAC).[2]

A primary forward air control function is ensuring the safety of friendly troops during close air support. Enemy targets in the front line ("Forward Edge of the Battle Area" in US terminology) are often close to friendly forces and therefore friendly forces are at risk of friendly fire through proximity during air attack. The danger is twofold: the bombing pilot cannot identify the target clearly, and is not aware of the locations of friendly forces. Camouflage, a constantly changing situation and the fog of war all increase the risk. Present day doctrine holds that Forward Air Controllers (FACs) are not needed for air interdiction, although there has been such use of FACs in the past.

An additional concern of forward air controllers is the avoidance of harm to noncombatants in the strike area.