firing line

the positions at which troops are stationed to fire upon the enemy or targets.
the troops firing from this line.
the forefront of any action or activity, especially a controversy.

1880–85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
firing line
1.  military
 a.  the positions from which fire is delivered
 b.  the soldiers occupying these positions
2.  the leading or most advanced position in an activity

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Officiating any sporting event automatically puts you on the firing line.
Dumped on from above and resented from below, they are often first in the
  firing line when cuts are made.
Yet things often look decidedly more unnerving from the vantage point of the
  executive on the firing line.
He constantly sent fresh troops to relieve those exhausted by the attrition of
  the firing line.
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