The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Queen of Battle

The Infantry closes with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him or to repel his assault by fire, close combat, and counterattack.

Ten companies of riflemen were authorized by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. However, the oldest Regular Army infantry regiment, the 3d, was constituted on June 3, 1784, as the First American Regiment.

The infantry rifle company is organized and equipped to close with the enemy to kill him, destroy his equipment, and shatter his will to resist. This close personal fight requires combat-ready units composed of skilled soldiers and resourceful leaders. These units are the result of a tough, thorough, and demanding training program conducted by leaders who understand the effective employment of infantry forces.

Infantrymen must be proficient in marksmanship, close combat, and fieldcraft. They should be proficient with other weapons in the unit as well as their own. They should also be familiar with foreign-made weapons they are apt to meet in battle. In the close fight, infantrymen must be skilled in the employment of all weapons (rifles, bayonets, LAWs/AT4s, grenades, mines, and even their bare hands). They must be totally confident in their ability to right with these weapons. These infantrymen must be highly skilled in land navigation, camouflage, and tracking and stalking techniques. Each soldier must be capable of moving undetected in close proximity to enemy soldiers for reconnaissance, for infiltration, and for achieving surprise in all operations.

The strength of infantry units comes from the skill, courage, and discipline of the individual soldiers. The individual capabilities of these men are enhanced by the teamwork and cohesion in the squads and platoons. This cohesion is essential to the survival and success of our infantry units in close combat. It provides the infantryman's will and determination to persevere, to accept the hardships, and to refuse to accept defeat. In the close fight when the decision hangs in the balance, these are the factors that will decide the victor. It is at the squad- and platoon-level that cohesion and teamwork provide the greatest benefits to the combat effectiveness of the unit. This horizontal bonding within squads is crucial, but there must also be a vertical bonding within the infantry force. Vertical bonding occurs when the soldiers have complete trust and confidence in their leaders.

This requires bold, aggression leaders who are willing to accept known risks in pursuit of mission accomplishment. Infantry leaders on the modem battlefield must be capable of using their initiative and making rapid decisions to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Infantry companies must be aggressive, physically fit , disciplined, and well-trained organizations. The inherent strategic mobility of infantry units dictates a need to be prepared for rapid deployment into combat The potential locations and possible enemy threats that an infantry company face require infantry companies to maintain a state of readiness.

Movement to contact is an offensive operation designed to gain initial ground contact with the enemy or to regain lost contact. Attack is an offensive action characterized by movement supported by fire. Hasty Attack is an offensive operation for which a unit has not made extensive preparations. It is conducted with the resources immediately available in order to maintain momentum or to take advantage of the enemy situation. Deliberate Attack is an attack planned and carefully coordinated with all concerned elements based on thorough reconnaissance, evaluation of all available intelligence and relative combat strength, analysis of various courses of action, and other factors affecting the situation. It is generally conducted against a well organized defense when a hasty attack is not possible or has been conducted and fails. Spoiling Attack is a limited objective attack made to delay, disrupt, or destroy the enemy's capability to launch an attack.

A Raid is an operation, usually small scale, involving a swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, to confuse the enemy, or to destroy his installations. It ends with a planned withdrawal upon completion of the assigned mission. Ambush is a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy. Reconnaissance is a mission undertaken to obtain information by visual observation, or other detection methods, about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy, or about the terrain characteristics of a particular area.

Defense is a coordinated effort by a force to defeat an attacker and prevent him from achieving his objectives. Defend in Sector is a mission which requires a defending unit to prevent enemy forces from passing beyond the rear boundary of the sector, while retaining flank security, and ensuring integrity of effort within the scheme of maneuver. Defend a Battle Position (BP) is a mission which places a unit in a BP to concentrate its fires, to limit its maneuver, or to place it in an advantageous position to counterattack. Defend a Strong Point is a mission which implies retention of the position at all costs. Repeated assaults must be expected and repelled.

Security Operations are those operations designed to obtain information about the enemy and provide reaction time, maneuver space, and protection to the main body. Security operations are characterized by aggressive reconnaissance to reduce terrain and enemy unkowns, gaining and maintaining contact with the enemy to ensure continuous information, and providing early and accurate reporting of information to the protected force. A Screening Force: Maintains surveillance, provides early warning to the main body, impedes and harasses the enemy with supporting indirect fires, and destroys enemy reconnaissance elements within it's capability. A Guard Force accomplishes all the tasks of the screening force. Additionally, prevents enemy ground observation of and direct fire against the main body. Reconnoiters, attacks, defends, and delays as necessary to accomplish its mission. A Covering Force accomplishes all the tasks of the Guard Force and Screening Force. Additionally, operates apart from the main body to develop the situation early and deceive, disorganize, and destroy enemy forces.

Air Assault

Air Assault operations originated during the Vietnam War where the need for tactical mobility could maneuver troops on the battlefield to meet the threat. The tactical principles the 1st Cavalry Division developed during the Vietnam war carried over to the present day 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division. Air Assault operations provide flexible tactical mobility with a good level of operational mobility to American infantry units.

One development to emerge from the Korean War was the possibility of using air transportation, not in addition to, but in lieu of , organic round vehicles for movement of combat units to and from the battle area. Thus was revived an earlier concept of total movement by air, with the additional aspect that, unlike the airborne division, such a unit would be able to strike and withdraw, if necessary, entirely by air.

Early in 1962, at the request of Secretary of Defense McNamara, the Army appointed a board, chaired by Maj. Gen. Hamilton Howze, to undertake an extensive series of studies, war games, and field tests toward the improvement of tactical mobility. The Howze Board assumed air mobility to be the capability of a unit to deploy in battle, fight, and sustain itself, using air vehicles under the control of the ground force commander. This board further determined that increased air mobility would offer the battlefield commander vast gains in his ability to locate, surprise, and fight the enemy, to bypass obstacles and strongpoints, and to concentrate force quickly at the point of decision with a maximum of surprise and a minimum of casualties.

Three new type units formed the basis of the board's organizational recommendations. These units were the air assault division, the air cavalry combat brigade, and the air transport (helicopter) brigade; these to be added to the Army's force structure at the end of a phased program.

The Army established a concept team in Vietnam to see how well the Board's findings applied to the counterinsurgency operations there. At the same time, air mobile test units were organized. The first of these, the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning, was activated in February 1963. This division derived its mission from the Howze Board's recommendations i.e., to test the air assault concept and to train an air assault unit to participate in tests by the Combat Developments and the STRIKE commands. The Department of the Army directive of 7 January 1963 called for a three-phased program of build-up and testing two key air mobility units, an air assault division, and an air transport brigade.

After two years of experimentation, the Army decided to form, beginning 1 July 1965, its first regular airmobile division, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), with a personnel strength of 15,787 and with 434 aircraft, most of which will be helicopters. One-third of the division's combat elements will be moved simultaneously in the division's organic aircraft, while the remainder can be moved either by shuttle or by supporting Army of Air Force aircraft. One of the division's three brigades was capable of parachute operations and the other two will be air-landed infantry. A total of eight maneuver battalions were normally be available for attachment to the brigades as required. The airmobile concept and its embodiment in the new division seem to promise a fruitful marriage between the airborne and the air-landing traditions.

Today air assault operations can quickly and effectively mass combat power at the most critical place and time to soundly defeat the enemy. Air assault is the means to get the soldiers to the objective, so they can perform their mission successfully. A five phase planning cycle helps officers to plan and execute the entire air assault operation. This cycle looks at what the unit must do from the staging area to the actual ground operation. It uses the reverse planning format to look at each phase of air assault operations and plan from back to front. The first and most important phase is the ground tactical plan. This phase is the actual tactical mission the unit must accomplish. The commander's OPORD must specifically address all aspects of the operation in each paragraph of the OPORD. The second phase is the landing plan. The landing plan answers "how are we going to land to support the concept of the operations and accomplish the mission?" This phase includes the landing zone (LZ) selection, fire support plan, and possible deception plans. Thirdly, the air movement plan specifies schedules and provides details for air movement of troops, equipment and supplies from the pick-up zone (PZ) to the LZ. Fourth, the loading plan ensures the troops, equipment, and supplies are loaded on the correct aircraft based on the air movement plan. The commander must ensure that during this phase he maintains unit integrity and cross loads key weapons and soldiers. Finally, the staging plan prescribes the arrival times of ground units (troop, equipment, and supplies) at the PZ in the proper order of movement. This process provides leaders with a guideline to plan and conduct air assault operations.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:36:06 ZULU