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Table of



Part C


1.   Fire Team Formations. Formations are arrangements of elements and soldiers in relation to each other. Squads use formations for control flexibility and security. Leaders choose formations based on their analysis of the factors of METT-T. Leaders are up front in formations. This facilitates control and allows the fire team leader to lead by example, "Follow me and do as I do." All soldiers in the team must be able to see their leader.

a.   Wedge. The wedge is the basic formation for the fire team. The interval between soldiers in the wedge formation is normally 10 meters. The wedge expands and contracts depending on the terrain. When rough terrain, poor visibility, or other factors make control of the wedge difficult, fire teams modify the wedge. The normal interval is reduced so that all team members can still see their team leader and the team leaders can still see their squad leader. The sides of the wedge can contract to the point where the wedge resembles a single file. When moving in less rugged terrain, where control is easier, soldiers expand or resume their original positions. (Figure 2-4).

Figure 2-4. Fire Team Wedge.

b.   File. When the terrain precludes use of the wedge, fire teams use the file formation (Figure 2-5).

Figure 2-5. Fire Team File.

2.   Squad Formations. Squad formations describe the relationships between fire teams in the squad. They include the squad column and squad line. A comparison of the formations is in Figure 2-6.

Figure 2-6. Comparison of Fire Team Formations.

a.   Squad Column. The squad column is the squad's most common formation. It provides good dispersion laterally and in depth without sacrificing control, and facilitates maneuver. The lead fire team is the base fire team. When the squad moves independently or as the rear element of the platoon, the rifleman in the trail fire team provides rear security (Figure 2-7).

Figure 2-7. Squad Column with Fire Teams in Column.

b.   Squad Line. The squad line provides maximum firepower to the front (Figure 2-8). When a squad is acting as the base squad, the fire team on the right is the base fire team.

Figure 2-8. Squad Line.

c.   Squad File. When not traveling in a column or line, squads travel in file. The squad file has the same characteristics as the fire team file. If the squad leader desires to increase his control over the formation, exert greater morale presence by leading from the front, and be immediately available to make key decisions, he will move forward to the first or second position. Additional control over the rear of the formation can be provided by moving a team leader to the last position. (Figure 2-9.)

Figure 2-9. Squad File.

3.   Platoon Formations. Platoon formations include the platoon column, the platoon line (squads on line or in column), the platoon vee, and the platoon wedge. The leader should weigh these carefully to select the best formation based on his mission and on METT-T analysis. A comparison of the formations is in Figure 2-10.

Figure 2-10. Comparison of Squad Formations.

a.   Platoon Column. This formation is the platoon's primary movement formation (Figure 2-11). It provides good dispersion, both laterally and in depth, and simplifies control. The lead squad is the base squad.


METT-T will determine where crew-served weapons move in the formation. They normally move with the platoon leader so he can quickly establish a base of fire.

Figure 2-11. Platoon Column.

b.   Platoon-Line, Squads-on-Line. This formation allows the delivery of maximum fire to the front but little fire to the flanks (Figure 2-12). This formation is hard to control and it does not lend itself well to rapid movement. When two or more platoons are attacking, the company commander chooses one of them as the base platoon. The base platoon's center squad is its base squad. When the platoon is not acting as the base platoon, its base squad is its flank squad nearest the base platoon. The machine guns can move with the platoon, or they can support by fire from a support position (not shown). This is the basic platoon assault formation.

Figure 2-12. Platoon-Line, Squads-on-Line.

c.   Platoon-Line, Squads-in-Column. The platoon leader can use this formation when he does not want to deploy all personnel on line and when he wants the squads to react to unexpected contact (Figure 2-13). This formation is easier to control and it lends itself better to rapid movement than the platoon-line or squads-on-line formation; however, it is harder to control than and does not facilitate rapid movement as well as a platoon column. When two or more platoons are moving, the company commander chooses one of them as the base platoon. The base platoon's center squad is its base squad. When the platoon is not the base platoon, its base squad is its flank squad nearest the base platoon.

Figure 2-13. Platoon-Line, Squads-in-Column.

d.   Platoon Vee. This formation has two squads up front to provide a heavy volume of fire on contact (Figure 2-14). It also has one squad in the rear that can either overwatch or trail the other squads. This formation is hard to control; movement is slow. The platoon leader designates one of the front squads to be the platoon's base squad.

Figure 2-14. Platoon Vee.

e.   Platoon Wedge. This formation has two squads in the rear that can overwatch or trail the lead squad (Figure 2-15). It provides a large volume of fire to the front or flanks. It allows the platoon leader to make contact with a squad and still have one or two squads to maneuver. The lead squad is the base squad.

Figure 2-15. Platoon Wedge.

f.   Platoon File. This formation may be set up in several methods. One method is to have three-squad files follow one another using one of the movement techniques. Another method is to have a single platoon file with a front security element (point) and flank security elements. This formation is used when visibility is poor due to terrain, vegetation, or light conditions. The distance between soldiers is less than normal to allow communication by passing messages up and down the file. The platoon file has the same characteristics as the fire team and squad files. (Figure 2-16.)

Figure 2-16. Platoon File.

4.   Movement Techniques. A movement technique is the method a platoon uses to traverse terrain. There are three movement techniques: traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. The selection of a movement technique is based on the likelihood of enemy contact and the need for speed. Factors to consider for each technique are control, dispersion, speed, and security (Figure 2-17). Movement techniques are not fixed formations. They refer to the distances between soldiers, teams, and squads that vary based on mission, enemy, terrain, visibility, and any other factor that affects control. Soldiers must be able to see their fire team leader. The squad leader must be able to see his fire team leaders. The platoon leader should be able to see his lead squad leader. Leaders control movement with arm-and-hand signals. They use radios only when needed. Any of the three movement techniques (traveling, traveling overwatch, bounding overwatch) can be used with any formations.

Figure 2-17. Comparison of Platoon Formations.

a.   Techniques of Squad Movement. The platoon leader determines/directs which movement technique the squad will use ( Figure 2-18).

Figure 2-18. Movement Techniques, Uses, and Characteristics.

(1)   Traveling. Traveling is used when contact with the enemy is not likely and speed is needed (Figure 2-19).

Figure 2-19. Squad Traveling.

(2)   Traveling Overwatch. Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible (Figure 2-20). Attached weapons move near the squad leader and under his control so he can employ them quickly.

Figure 2-20. Squad Traveling Overwatch.

(3)   Bounding Overwatch. Bounding overwatch is used when contact is expected, when the squad leader feels the enemy is near (movement, noise, reflection, trash, fresh tracks, or even a hunch), or when a large open danger area must be crossed.

(a)   The lead fire team overwatches first. Soldiers scan for enemy positions. The squad leader usually stays with the overwatch team. (Figure 2-21).

(b)   The trail fire team bounds and signals the squad leader when his team completes its bound and is prepared to overwatch the movement of the other team.

(c)   Both team leaders must know if successive or alternate bounds will be used and which team the squad leader will be with. The overwatching team leader must know the route and destination of the bounding team. The bounding team leader must know his team's destination and route, possible enemy locations, and actions to take when he arrives there. He must also know where the overwatching team will be, and how he will receive his instructions. The cover and concealment on the bounding team's route dictate how its soldiers move.

Figure 2-21. Example of Squad Leader's Order to Bound.

(d)   Teams can bound successively or alternately. Successive bounds are easier to control; alternate bounds can be faster.(Figure 2-22.)

Figure 2-22. Squad Successive Bounds and Alternate Bounds.

b.   Techniques of Platoon Movement. The platoon leader determines and directs which movement technique the platoon will use.

(1)   Traveling. Traveling is used when enemy contact is not likely and speed is needed (Figure 2-23).

Figure 2-23. Platoon Traveling.

(2)   Traveling Overwatch. Traveling overwatch is used when contact is possible but speed is needed (Figure 2-24). The platoon leader moves where he can best control the platoon. The platoon sergeant travels with the trailing squad, though he is free to move throughout the formation to enforce security, noise and light discipline, and distances between squads. The lead squad uses traveling overwatch, and the trailing squads use traveling.

Figure 2-24. Platoon Traveling Overwatch.

(3)   Bounding Overwatch. Bounding overwatch is used when contact is expected. Platoons conduct bounding overwatch using successive or alternate bounds.

(a)   One Squad Bounding. One squad bounds forward to a chosen position, then it becomes the overwatching element unless contact is made en route. The bounding squad can use either traveling overwatch, bounding overwatch, or individual movement techniques (low and high crawl, and short rushes by fire team or pairs).

(b)   One Squad Overwatching. One squad overwatches the bounding squad from covered positions from which it can see and suppress likely enemy positions. Soldiers use scanning techniques to view their assigned sector. The platoon leader remains with the overwatching squad. Normally, the platoon's machine guns are also located with the overwatching squad.

(c)   One Squad Awaiting Orders. One squad is uncommitted and ready for employment as directed by the platoon leader. The platoon sergeant and the leader of the squad awaiting orders position themselves close to the platoon leader (Figure 2-25).

Figure 2-25. Platoon Bounding Overwatch.

(d)   Considerations. When deciding where to have his bounding squad go, a platoon leader considers&-

  • The requirements of the mission.
  • Where the enemy is likely to be.
  • The routes to the next overwatch position.
  • The ability of an overwatching element's weapons to cover the bound.
  • The responsiveness of the rest of the platoon.
  • The fields of fire at the next overwatch position.

(e)   Instructions. Before a bound, the platoon leader gives an order to his squad leaders from the overwatch position (Figure 2-26). He tells and shows them the following-

  • The direction or location of the enemy (if known).
  • The positions of the overwatching squad.
  • The next overwatch position.
  • The route of the bounding squad.
  • What to do after the bounding squad reaches the next position.
  • What signal the bounding squad will use to announce it is prepared to overwatch.
  • How the squad will receive their next orders.

Figure 2-26. Example of Platoon Leader's Order for Bounding Overwatch.

(f)   Machine Guns. The machine guns are normally employed in one of two ways-

  • Attach both guns to the overwatch squad(s).
  • One machine gun with the overwatch squad and the other with the bounding squad. This technique requires the guns to move between squads as they leave the overwatch to join the bounding squad.

c.   Individual Movement Techniques. Individual movement techniques include the high and low crawl and short rushes (three to five seconds) from one covered position to another.

d.   Other Movement Situations. The platoon can use other formations for movement.

(1)   Movement With Armored Vehicles. For a detailed discussion of working with armored vehicles, see Part 4.

(2)   Movement by Water. Platoons avoid crossing water obstacles when possible. Leaders should identify weak or nonswimmers and pair them with a good swimmer in their squad.

(a)   When platoons or squads must move into, through, or out of rivers, lakes, streams, or other bodies of water, they treat the water obstacle as a danger area. While on the water, the platoon is exposed and vulnerable. To offset the disadvantages, the platoon -

  • Moves during limited visibility.
  • Disperses.
  • Camouflages thoroughly.
  • Moves near the shore to reduce the chances of detection.

(b)   When moving in more than one boat, the unit-

  • Maintains tactical integrity and self-sufficiency.
  • Cross loads key soldiers and equipment.
  • Makes sure that the radio is with the leader.

(c)   If boats are not available, several other techniques can be used such as-

  • Swimming.
  • Poncho rafts.
  • Air mattresses.
  • Waterproof bags.
  • A 7/16-inch rope used as a semisubmersible one-rope bridge or safety line.
  • Water wings (made from a set of trousers).

(3)   Tactical Marches. Platoons conduct two types of tactical marches with the company. They are foot marches and motor marches.

(a)   Foot Marches.

(b)   Motor Marches. The platoon conducts motor marches like any other tactical movement. Special requirements may include-

  • Protection. Sandbagging the bottom of the truck to protect the soldiers from mines.
  • Observation. Removing bows and canvas to allow 360-degree observation and rapid dismount.
  • Inspection. Inspecting vehicle and driver to ensure they are ready. Checking fuel level and driver's knowledge of the route, speed, and distance between vehicles.
  • Loading. The platoon should load vehicles keeping fire team, squad, and platoon integrity. For example, fire teams and squads intact on the same vehicle and platoons in the same serial. Additionally, key leaders, weapons, and equipment should be cross loaded.
  • Rehearsals. Rehearsing immediate action to enemy contact (near and far ambush, air attack) ensuring the driver knows what to do.
  • Air Guards. Posting air guards for each vehicle.

(4)   Movement during limited visibility conditions. At night or when visibility is poor, a platoon must be able to function the same as during clear daylight. It must be able to control, navigate, maintain security, move, and stalk at night or during limited visibility.

(a)   Control. When visibility is poor, the following methods aid in control-

  • Selected personnel use of night vision devices.
  • Leaders move closer to the front.
  • The platoon reduces speed.
  • Each soldier uses two small strips of luminous tape on the rear of his helmet to allow the soldier behind him to see.
  • Leaders reduce the interval between soldiers and between units to make sure they can see each other.
  • Leaders conduct headcounts at regular intervals and after each halt to ensure personnel accountability.

(b)   Navigation. To assist in navigation during limited visibility, leaders use-

  • Terrain association (general direction of travel coupled with recognition of prominent map and ground features).
  • Dead reckoning (compass direction and specific distances or legs). At the end of each leg, leaders should verify their location.
  • Movement routes that parallel identifiable terrain features.
  • Guides or marked routes.
  • GSRs to vector units to the proper location.
  • Global positioning units.

(c)   Security. For stealth and security in night moves, squads and platoons-

  • Designate a point man to maintain alertness, the lead team leader to navigate, and a pace man to count the distance traveled. Alternate compass and pace men are designated.
  • Allow no smoking, no lights, and no noise.
  • Use radio-listening silence.
  • Camouflage soldiers and equipment.
  • Use terrain to avoid detection by enemy surveillance or night vision devices.
  • Make frequent listening halts.
  • Mask the sounds of movement with artillery fires.

(d)   Night Walking. Proficiency in night walking is gained through practice. A soldier walking at night looks ahead, then slowly lifting his right foot, he eases it forward about 6 inches to the front of the left foot. While easing his foot forward and keeping his toes pointed downward, the soldier feels for twigs and trip wires. He slowly places his foot on the ground. Confident of solid, quiet footing, the soldier slowly moves his weight forward, hesitates, then repeats the process with the other foot. This technique is slow and time-consuming.

(e)   Stalking. Soldiers stalk to get as close as they can to an enemy sentry, patrol, or base. This is best described as a slow, crouching night walk. The soldier watches the enemy continuously. When close to the enemy, the soldier squints to help conceal light reflected by his eyes. He breathes slowly through his nose. If the enemy looks in his direction, the soldier freezes. He takes advantage of the background to blend with shadows and to prevent glare or contrast. Soldiers move during distractions such as gusts of wind, vehicle movement, loud talking, or nearby weapons fire.

5.   Actions at Danger Areas. A danger area is any place on a route where the leader's estimate process tells him that his platoon might be exposed to enemy observation, fire, or both. Platoons try to avoid danger areas. If a platoon must cross a danger area, it does so with great caution and as quickly as possible.

a.   Types of Danger Areas. The following are some examples of danger areas and crossing procedures.

(1)   Open Areas. Conceal the platoon on the near side and observe the area. Post security to give early warning. Send an element across to clear the far side. When cleared, cross the remainder of the platoon at the shortest exposed distance and as quickly as possible.

(2)   Roads and Trails. Cross roads or trails at or near a bend, a narrow spot, or on low ground.

(3)   Villages. Pass villages on the downwind side and well away from them. Avoid animals, especially dogs, which might reveal the presence of the platoon.

(4)   Enemy Positions. Pass on the downwind side (the enemy might have scout dogs). Be alert for trip wires and warning devices.

(5)   Minefields. Bypass minefields if at all possible even if it requires changing the route by a great distance. Clear a path through minefields only if necessary.

(6)   Streams. Select a narrow spot in the stream that offers concealment on both banks. Observe the far side carefully. Emplace near and far-side security for early warning. Clear the far side, then cross rapidly but quietly.

(7)   Wire Obstacles. Avoid wire obstacles (the enemy covers obstacles with observation and fire).

b.   Crossing of Danger Areas. When the platoon crosses a danger area independently or as the lead element of a larger force, it must-

(1)   Designate near- and far-side rally points.

(2)   Secure the near side (right, left flanks, and rear security).

(3)   Reconnoiter and secure the far side.

(4)   Execute crossing the danger area.

(a)   The platoon leader or squad leader decides how the unit will cross based on the time he has, the size of the unit, the size of the danger area, the fields of fire into the area, and the amount of security he can post. A small unit may cross all at once, in buddy teams, or one soldier at a time. A large unit normally crosses its elements one at a time. As each element crosses, it moves to an overwatch position or to the far-side rally point until told to continue movement.

(b)   To maintain momentum, trailing platoons normally cross the danger area without conducting their own reconnaissance or establishing far-side security. The lead platoon conducts reconnaissance and maintains far-side security for the whole force.


The secured area must be large enough to allow the full deployment of the remainder of the unit.

c.   Crossing of Linear Danger Areas (Platoon). The platoon crosses the danger area in the formation and location specified by the platoon leader. On the far side of the danger area, platoon personnel and equipment are accounted for. The platoon continues the mission.(Figure 2-27.)

Figure 2-27. Crossing a Danger Area.

(1)   When the lead team signals "danger area" (relayed throughout the platoon), the platoon halts.

(2)   The platoon leader moves forward, confirms the danger area, and determines what technique the platoon will use to cross. The platoon sergeant also moves forward to the platoon leader.

(3)   The platoon leader informs all squad leaders of the situation and the near-side and far-side rally points.

(4)   The platoon sergeant directs positioning of the near-side security (usually conducted by the trail squad). These two security teams may follow him forward when the platoon halts and a danger area signal is passed back.

(5)   The platoon leader reconnoiters the danger area and selects the crossing point that provides the best cover and concealment.

(6)   Near-side security observes to the flanks and overwatches the crossing.

(7)   When the near-side security is in place, the platoon leader directs the far-side security team to cross the danger area.

(8)   The far-side security team clears the far side.

(9)   The far-side security team leader establishes an OP forward of the cleared area.

(10)   The far-side security team signals to the squad leader that the area is clear. The squad leader relays the message to the platoon leader.

(11)   The platoon leader selects the method the platoon will use to cross the danger area.

(12)   The platoon quickly and quietly crosses the danger area.

(13)   Once across the danger area, the main body begins moving slowly on the required azimuth.

(14)   The near-side security element, controlled by the platoon sergeant, crosses the danger area where the platoon crossed. They may attempt to cover any tracks left by the platoon.

(15)   The platoon sergeant ensures everyone crosses and sends up the report.

(16)   The platoon leader ensures accountability and resumes movement at normal speed.


The same principles stated above are used when crossing a smaller unit across a danger area.

d.   Crossing of Large Open Areas. This is an area so large that the platoon cannot bypass due to the time to accomplish the mission(Figure 2-28). A combination of traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch is used to cross the open area. The traveling overwatch technique is used to save time. At any point in the open area where contact may be expected or once the squad or platoon comes within range of small-arms fire of the far side (about 250 meters), the squad or platoon moves using the bounding overwatch technique. Once beyond the open area, the squad or platoon reforms and continues the mission.

Figure 2-28. Crossing Large Open Area.

e.   Crossing of Small Open Areas. This is an open area small enough so that it may be bypassed in the time allowed for the mission. Two techniques can be used-

(1)   Detour Bypass Method. By the use of 90-degree turns to the right or left, the squad or platoon moves around the open area until the far side is reached, then continues the mission. The pace count of the offset and return legs is not added to the distance of the planned route.

(2)   Contouring Around the Open Area. The leader designates a rally point on the far side with the movement azimuth, decides which side of the open area to contour around (after considering the distance, terrain, cover and concealment), and moves around the open area. He uses the wood line and vegetation for cover and concealment. When the squad or platoon arrives at the rally point on the far side, the leader reassumes the azimuth to the objective area and continues the mission (Figure 2-29).

Figure 2-29. Crossing a Small Open Area.


f.   Enemy Contact at Danger Areas. If the platoon makes enemy contact in or around the danger area, see Figure 2-30 for contact on far side, Figure 2-31 for contact on a road or trail, or Figure 2-32 for contact on near side.

Figure 2-30. Enemy Contact on Far Side.

Figure 2-31. Enemy Contact on Road or Trail.

Figure 2-32. Enemy Contact on Near Side.


Lesson 2 Part D
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