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This chapter implements STANAGs 2155 and 2041

In combat you must be able to move rapidly to a new area of operations. You must be able to quickly set up your base and develop your local security.


MP units relocate personnel, equipment, and vehicles to new AOs by mounted tactical road marches. To conduct a tactical road march you must--

  • Ensure the area through which you will move is reconnoitered.
  • Select a destination site if one has not been named.
  • Choose and dispatch a quartering party.
  • Consider and plan combat loading.
  • Plan the tactical road march.
  • Ensure the unit is in the proper mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) level for the environment.
  • Move to your new location.


When you are readying for a tactical road march--

  • Ensure a route recon is done.
  • Use the recon information to--

--Choose sites for halts and release points.

--Spot problem areas along the route.

--Select bypasses or alternate routes.

  • Have the recon cover the route from the unit's staging area to the start point. You must know how long it takes to get there. And you need to know what problems the unit may meet. See also Route Recon Patrols, Chapter 4.
  • Choose a start point, where the road march will begin.
  • Choose a release point, where the road march will end. These points must be easy to recognize on the ground.
  • Pick fairly secure locations for halts.
  • Choose areas that provide cover and concealment.
  • Avoid choosing highly populated areas, curves in the road, or other hard-to-secure areas.
  • Plan your timing so your unit arrives at the start point just before your scheduled time for crossing it. (You will be given the time when your unit must cross the start point. As other units may be planning to use the route, each unit must cross the start point on time. Being too early or too late can cause a traffic jam at the start point.)
  • Send the quartering party to look for and prepare the new operational site if you have not yet done so.


To save time, you can combat load your vehicles while the quartering party is readying the new site. Combat loading ensures a unit is ready for combat even when it is on the move.

The principles of combat loading are standard. All equipment, ammunition, and gear is loaded on the vehicles in a logical order and put in preselected spots. Knowing where each item is lets you retrieve it quickly if you need it during the move. And combat loading helps you set up fast at your new site.

But the order of your loading and your choice of what equipment is loaded, however, is tailored to the purpose of each move. No one load plan can satisfy all situations. You must consider--

  • METT-T.
  • Vehicle and trailer capacities.
  • Weight limits of unit vehicles and trailers. Do not overload vehicles and trailers.
  • Whether or not the equipment will fit ("cube-out"). For exact data on any piece of equipment, see the applicable technical manual (TM).

Ready-made load plans (and their loading diagrams) can help you know if the cargo will fit. (Your unit's SOP should have load plans tailored for its various mission activities.) Having a choice of "tried-and-true" load plans for various deployments cuts trial-and-error time. Modify the load plans and diagrams for each operation to suit METT-T plus vehicle and trailer capacities. Show your modifications on your load diagram. You can load a HMMWV in many configurations.

You can--

  • Load the basic equipment you need in the standard brackets that are mounted on the vehicle.
  • Modify and move the brackets to meet mission or unit requirements.


The march leader--

  • Coordinates the road march, through his chain of command, with the local movement control unit.
  • Finds out if the convoy needs a movement credit or a clearance to use its given route. If so, he submits a DD Form 1265 (STANAG 2155).
  • Informs higher HQ and supported units of the dates and times that operations will stop at the old site and begin at the new site.
  • Tasks subordinate leaders to come to a briefing to discuss unit readiness and load plans and to forecast support needs.
  • Submits requests for support based on the forecast developed during the briefing. (Requests may include frees, refueling, vehicle recovery operations, and other support needed to complete the march.)
  • Issues an OPORD for the movement.
  • Directs HQ personnel to prepare a movement table (STANAG 2041). See Appendix E, FM 55-10, for detailed information on movement tables.
  • Has unit personnel analyze the route recon information looking for likely enemy ambush sites.
  • Ensures a strip map, which may be included as an annex to the OPORD, is prepared. (The strip map shows start points, release points, route numbers, place names, critical points, directional arrows, distances between points, scheduled halt locations, and petroleum, oils, and lubricants [POL] refill points.) Copies are given to unit drivers.
  • Ensures an MP noncommissioned officer (NCO) briefs the drivers and assistant drivers. See Preparing (for convoy), Chapter 13.
  • Directs radio communication be kept to a minimum during movement.
  • Tasks subordinates to ensure the road march plan is followed.


If the unit is to move at night, the march leader ensures personnel are aware of and abide by the set lighting conditions. The commander sets the conditions under which military traffic moves at night. More restricting conditions are sometimes imposed by the threat environment (air raids and the like). Lighting conditions might be normal lighting, reduced lighting, or blackout. When the situation warrants, travel by total blackout. (Use night-vision goggles.) More often travel is under partial blackout, using only enough light to see the road and be seen by other road users. Reduced lighting keeps to a minimum light that might be visible from the air. But it permits vehicles to--

  • Travel as fast as possible compatible with safety.
  • Brake in time.
  • See the side of the road.

During a tactical road march, the march leader and the platoon sergeant travel in separate vehicles. This decreases the chance of a unit's top leaders being lost in one enemy action.

The convoy moves en route by closed or open column march, or by infiltration. In a closed column your elements are close together. Set and maintain a distance of 15 to 20 meters between vehicles. A closed column--

  • Cuts the time it takes for the column to pass points on the route.
  • Needs fewer guides, escorts, and markers for control than an open column does.
  • Is used for moving through congested areas or over poorly marked routes.
  • Is used for night moves during blackout conditions and/or radio silence.

In an open column the elements are widely spaced as a passive defense measure. Keep a distance of 75 to 100 meters between vehicles. Use an open column--

  • When enemy contact is likely.
  • For moves made during daylight.
  • Over dusty roads. (Reducing dust is especially important when moving through areas contaminated by radioactive fallout.)

Infiltration is the best passive defense against enemy observation and attack. To move by infiltration, dispatch vehicles one at a time or in small groups at irregular intervals to keep traffic density low--

  • When time and road space allow.
  • When maximum security, deception, and dispersion are needed.
  • Maintain security during the march. When the unit approaches likely danger areas, such as bridges, tunnels, and the like, have one or more teams dismount. They should check both sides of the road before having the convoy pass. This is critical if there was only time for a map recon before the move.

Bypass mined areas whenever possible. But--

  • Consider how the delay will affect the outcome of the mission versus the safety of the unit movement.
  • Be cautious. Mines can be used to force you to take an alternate route into an ambush site.
  • Screen the bypass route, if possible, prior to diverting a convoy or other military traffic.

If you must cross a mined area when engineer assets are not available to breach the minefield, act quickly, but cautiously. Mined areas, like other obstacles, are often covered by enemy fire. Before crossing--

  • Detonate the mines from a protected position.
  • Detonate mine trip wires by rigging an object near the trip wire to fall on the wire.
  • Use a hand grenade or direct fire to detonate mines.
  • Detonate pressure-sensitive mines by rigging an A-frame over the mine and placing a heavy object, attached to a rope, over the mine. Take cover and allow the object to fall on the mine.
  • Devise other methods to detonate detected mines.

Be sure to send a report to the next higher command when you have neutralized the mines. See Appendix E and FMs 20-32 and 21-75 for more on mines and countering mines.


MP elements most often will collocate as part of an established base or base cluster. But on occasion MP may need to set up a base on their own. To set up at a new location, whether as part of an established base or base cluster, or separately as a company or a platoon base, you must--

  • Reconnoiter new sites.
  • Pick the most favorable site and its alternate. Choose a site that--

--Is easily accessible.

--Can accommodate all the unit's vehicles and equipment.

--Has a firm, well-drained surface.

--Has some natural cover and concealment.

--Is relatively easy to defend.

  • Prepare and secure the site.
  • Complete the move.
  • Establish local security to sustain survivability.


A quartering party is needed whenever a unit relocates. While the unit loads for deployment, the quartering party moves to and readies the new site. Their job ends when the last vehicle in the main body arrives at the new site. The size of a quartering party is based on the--

  • Tactical situation.
  • Amount of work needed to prepare the site for occupancy.

A quartering party for a company is likely to have personnel from--

  • Unit HQ.
  • Each platoon.
  • Maintenance and dining sections.
  • Communications.

But the quartering party for a platoon relocation would be much smaller.

The quartering party leader--

  • Ensures equipment and supplies are available to clear, secure, and set up the new site. A quartering party might need--

--NBC detecting and monitoring equipment.

--Mine detectors.

--Saws or axes to clear wooded areas.

--White engineer tape.

--Portable route signing material.

  • Gives tasks to each team based on the size of the quartering party, the work to be done, and METT-T.
  • Ensures each team has the equipment needed to complete its particular tasks. See FM 7-10.
  • Ensures the teams are at the proper MOPP level if they are operating in an NBC environment.

At march halts, teams set up local security. If the vehicles can leave the road, the teams form a 360-degree perimeter around the convoy. If the vehicles cannot leave the road, they are parked at an angle so alternate vehicles face opposite sides of the road. See also Moving in Combat, Chapter 2, and Providing Security for the Ammunition During Ground Movement, Chapter 13. Each team is assigned a sector to observe. The sectors overlap between vehicles. Each team member has a specific area of responsibility. Troops remain alert, ready to take action on contact with the enemy. All personnel look for enemy aircraft. See Reacting to Air Attack Chapter 2.

When the quartering party reaches the site, it clears and then secures the site. One or more teams, after dismounting their vehicles, search the area for mines, booby traps, items of intelligence value, or other signs of enemy presence.

  • If nuclear weapons have been used, at least one team using radiacmeters, monitors the site for radioactive contaminants. Because it is hard to detect the first use of chemical and biological agents, monitoring for these agents must be continuous. See Detecting and Reporting NBC Hazards in Chapter 4.
  • In urban areas, team members clear buildings to be used by the unit. Team members may also clear structures outside the perimeter if there is a possibility of enemy presence. The priority of buildings to be cleared and the number of teams needed are based on METT-T. See Attacking on Urban Terrain, Chapter 7. Also see FM 90-10-1.

When the area is cleared, one or more teams set up--

  • OPs/LPs.
  • Defensive positions on likely enemy avenues of approach. These positions provide early warning and limited protection during occupation of the new site.

The next step is to ready the new site for the main body's arrival.


If the quartering party is setting up a company site, the quartering party--

  • Chooses a tentative location for the company CP.
  • Sets up the company CP where it can best control the company, be well defended, and have lines of communication to subelements.
  • Uses buildings (in an urban area) to conceal the CP.
  • Considers defendability, cover, and concealment when choosing the CP location.
  • Sets up the wire communications net. See also Appendix F.
  • Marks those areas where other unit elements will be positioned, using signs or materials that cannot be easily seen by the enemy.
  • Picks roads and trails that permit an easy flow of traffic.
  • Chooses alternate exits and marks them for use as emergency exits.
  • Designates parking areas for the heaviest, most awkward vehicles, such as 5-ton trucks.
  • Makes use of natural cover and concealment when possible.
  • Uses camouflage screens and man-made cover and concealment where needed.
  • Selects a troop area and --

--Marks the areas where latrines, garbage dumps, and tents will go. (For safety, unit personnel should sleep only in the troop area. Ground guides should be used for vehicle movement in areas where troops are sleeping.)

--Chooses a structure (in an urban area) that protects the troops from natural elements and has adequate latrine facilities.


  • The food service section inside the perimeter, well away from interior roads to keep dust from contaminating the food. Locate the serving line to take advantage of cover and concealment. In urban areas use a building.
  • The latrines away from the bivouac area. Place latrines--

--At least 30 meters down slope from wells or other water sources.

--At least 100 meters from the dining facility, downwind and down slope, if possible. In urban areas use existing latrines if they can serve at least 8 percent of the unit at one time.

  • The maintenance section where vehicles can arrive easily from the main road through the site. Vehicles should be able to enter the maintenance tent at one end and exit at the other. In urban areas use existing garages for maintenance operations.
  • The supply section to meet space, roadway access, and drainage needs. In urban areas use warehouse-type buildings for supply operations.
  • The tactical communications section where it has space enough to support the whole operation. Usually it collocates with the maintenance section or the operations section.

When the main body arrives--

  • Ensure the vehicles--

--Rapidly clear the approach route.

--Are guided into the new site and parked.

  • Brief the leader of the main body on the situation and on the current status of operations.

If you are the main body leader--

  • Inform higher HQ that the move has been completed.
  • Report location coordinates for both the CP and the alternate CP by messenger or other secure means.
  • Ensure the entire party immediately begins preparing fighting positions and other defense measures.


A quartering party in advance of a platoon relocation has the same considerations, scaled to size and need, as one in advance of a company. An MP platoon may collocate with a company HQ or an existing base. But more often a platoon base must be set up where platoon HQ can best--

  • Command and control its squads.
  • Communicate easily with its squads and higher HQ.
  • Link squads, company CR and/or supported unit.

Platoon HQ can operate from a static base. But it also can operate from vehicles. If platoon elements are going to operate in one location (as they would for an EPW holding area), you would want to set up a static platoon HQ base. But if your platoon elements must operate dispersed over a large area, the platoon leader must remain mobile. In such cases a platoon leader could elect to set up a "temporary" platoon base as a rally point to report, resupply, and reorganize the platoon's resources.

All platoon bases are set up basically the same. The platoon sergeant picks a site that offers good cover and concealment. The site must be defendable and allow the HQ vehicle to be parked near the tent. A small tent houses the platoon HQ. A radio set control group can be used to remote communications into the tent. An antenna increases transmission distance. Locate the antenna based on OPSEC principles. See also MP Drill 8, Assemble and Erect OE-254 /GRC Antenna System, in ARTEP 19-100-10-Drill. Wire communications are limited to those platoons that can hook into an existing wire net.


When you collocate with a base or base cluster you are integrated into that base's or base cluster's self-defense planning and operations. When you set up an MP base on its own, your base is responsible for its own security and protection.


When collocated, you coordinate with the base defense operation center (BDOC)/base cluster operation center (BCOC) to integrate your efforts with the base's/base cluster's efforts. Your portion of the base's/base cluster's defense is to help provide early warning of the Threat by your area security and/or BCC operations in the area near the base or base cluster. Because MP resources are austere, you only share sector efforts on the base perimeter.

Each base has a BDOC that plans, coordinates, and supervises base defense operations. The BDOC initiates contingency planning that enables the base to--

  • Increase the manning posture of the base based on the Threat.
  • Detect and defeat the Threat within their capabilities.
  • Hold against heavier enemy forces until response forces arrive.
  • Maintain control of the fight within the base.
  • Support the fire and movement of the response force operating outside the base.

Each base cluster has a BCOC to monitor base defense plans and establish the base cluster reaction force. The BCOC--

  • Provides the command and control of resources for planning, coordinating, and supervising the defense of the base cluster.
  • Coordinates base defense operations.
  • Maintains communications with bases within the cluster as well as with MP, BDOCs, and the rear area operations center (RAOC). A great deal of intelligence is provided to a BDOC/BCOC through the rear operations net, which helps in planning the defense.

Your plans for the interface of MP support into the base's self defense plans address--

  • Cover and concealment of personnel and equipment.
  • Signal security.
  • Reliable and redundant communications systems at all guard locations (land line, radio links to BDOC, telephone hookup to center switch).
  • Deception.
  • Contingency planning.
  • Improvement of base defense positions.
  • Assistance of area MP.
  • Coordination with BCOC or RAOC as required.
  • OPs/LPs.
  • Noise and light discipline.
  • Immediate reaction to enemy threat or attack.
  • Rehearsals of defense measures.

All plans and overlays depicting MP support are forwarded to the BCOC. There they are consolidated and forwarded to the RAOC. (If a base is not part of a base cluster, the base forwards all plans and overlays directly to the RAOC.)


When you set up as a "base" separately, you must be able to defend against a wide range of enemy activity. And you must integrate the defense of your base with the defense efforts of other bases in the rear area. Indirect fire systems, air defense artillery, tactical aircraft. Engineers, dismounted troops, armored vehicles, and helicopters all contribute to bases' overall security. But bases must coordinate and synchronize their defense efforts to enhance their strengths and reduce their vulnerabilities.

Using the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) process can help you predict threats to base security. See Appendix G. You want to be aware of enemy location, organization, direction of movement, and strength. (And you must have effective OPSEC to deny similar friendly information to the enemy.) You can continually improve base defenses by considering what avenues of approach and methods of attack the enemy could use, given the vulnerabilities of your base. Make sure your base defense plan has overlays depicting weapons positions, sectors of fire, final protective fires, and reaction force contingencies. Update the plans as often as you can.

Coordinate your base's reaction force efforts with the designated area response force. You must develop detailed employment plans and exchange as much information as possible with the response force and TCF commander before they are needed. Although your base's reaction force usually would not fight beyond the perimeter of your base, the reaction force must be ready to assist the response force or TCF when it arrives. Consider--

  • Command relationships before, during, and after linkup.
  • Coordination of fire support before, during, and after linkup.
  • Recognition signals and communication procedures to be employed.
  • Follow-on operations required.
  • Area damage control.

See Base Response Force and Air Base Ground Defense Operations, Chapter 8. See also Chapter 9.


If your squad/platoon must step down from sustained continuous operations and you cannot just return to your base or base cluster, you may need to operate briefly from a "hide position." When used properly, a hide position can enable your squad/platoon to rest, recover, and repair damaged equipment and to plan for future operations. A good hide position is one that offers concealment with little chance of detection by the enemy. You want to get the best security you can, tasking the fewest soldiers needed to provide security.

The hide position should be located in or near the area of normal operations so that sustained operations can be resumed immediately, on order. ME'TT-T should be of primary concern, as in any operation. Easily defensible positions are preferred over those that are more difficult to secure/defend. The position should have more than one exit route.

Pick a position where communications capability with the next higher HQ is enhanced or at least not reduced by terrain. While built-up/urban areas afford suitable concealment for hide positions, it is essential that the requirement and capability to communicate be thoroughly assessed prior to selection of such a site.

Keep vehicles nearby. You want them secure and available. Plan vehicle positions so that key equipment can be moved or removed without displacement of the entire unit. Equipment must be concealed from the sides, as well as from overhead. This will prevent detection from aerial observers and some sidelooking airborne radar.

Cover and conceal to reduce security and/or defense requirements.

There should be sufficient space between vehicles to allow a vehicle to bypass any other vehicle that may be rendered inoperable.

Make sure your squad or platoon follows signal security and uses noise and light discipline. Set up fighting positions if your situation calls for them.


Self-defense planning and coordination must be done as soon as the base is set up. Prior planning and mission analysis are essential elements of a base defense. You must be able to defend your site even before your occupation is complete. When an MP element is sited as part of an established base, it helps defend a portion of the larger units' perimeter. But elements set up separately usually must defend their sites by deploying in a 360-degree perimeter.

The techniques and principles of defense are the same for defending a separate squad, platoon, company, or base. To plan a perimeter defense, evaluate the situation. Analyze the terrain in terms of "OCOKA." Look for observation and fields of fire, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, and avenues of approach. Then place your defenses where the threat is greatest.

For example, you would deploy your platoon in a circle around the area to be protected with squads and teams defending a portion of that circle. After considering METT-T, plan deployment of squads and automatic and antiarmor weapons. Determine if range cards, indirect fire, and mines and obstacles should be used.

Decide where to place your command post-observation post (CP-OP). Locate your main CP-OP where you can best see and control the platoon. If this is not possible, locate a main CP-OP where it can cover the most likely enemy approach. Place an alternate CP-OP, to be operated by the platoon sergeant, where it can control the portion of the perimeter that cannot be seen or controlled by the main CP-OP. Then decide what other security measures and what communications means to use.

To counteract Threat ultraviolet, infrared, radar, seismic, and other sensors, you must plan more than just cover and concealment. Use the principles of camouflage. Counter the recognition factors that make an object stand out from its background. Do this by--

  • Locating soldiers, equipment, or structures where they are least discernible. (This by itself, can reduce or eliminate many recognition factors.)
  • Using any mix of hiding, blending disrupting and/or disguising that conceals "visibility."
  • Maintaining camouflage discipline continuously.

When the number of troops to defend a 360-degree perimeter is small, vary the size of defensive sectors, identify alternate fighting positions, and retain flexibility of thinking. Decide what equipment--

  • Is needed to set up a perimeter defense.
  • Should stay in the vehicles.
  • Must be requisitioned or picked up later.

Equipment to improve defensive positions includes such items as--

  • Concertina wire.
  • Sandbags and tape (for cover and concealment).
  • Trip flares.
  • Pyrotechnic devices.
  • Mines.
  • PEWS.

You must be able to defend day and night, when visibility is limited, and in a variety of weather conditions. Ensure you have the equipment needed to defend under these conditions. And use it. When visibility is poor--

  • Take steps to keep the enemy from observing or surprising the platoon.
  • Require OPs/LPs. There should be at least one OP/LP per squad. OPs/LPs report the enemy's advance and call for illumination and supporting fire. As in a day-light defense, MP manning OPs/LPs withdraw before they become engaged in close combat.
  • Use patrols, illumination, PEWS, and night-vision devices to help detect the enemy's advance.
  • Use trip flares to provide warning and give some illumination. As a rule, do not fire until targets are visible.
  • Use camouflage, movement control, and light and noise discipline.
  • Limit radio traffic to essential information.
  • Ensure strict fire control to keep from disclosing fighting positions.
  • Have gunners with crew-served and antiarmor weapons use night-vision devices.
  • Provide illumination by using hand-held flares or grenade launchers with illuminating rounds. Added light may be provided by fire support.

Platoon leaders plan the use of messengers, visual signals, personal contact, or whistles to communicate with squad leaders. Squad leaders plan to communicate with their team leaders and teams using personal contact or sound and visual signals.


Fighting positions help protect you and your equipment from the enemy. A fighting position provides cover and concealment from which to engage or defend against the enemy. (Individual fighting positions are constructed in accordance with FM 7-8.) The positions help protect you from enemy small arms fire and fragmentation weapons while allowing you full weapon system engagement.

Fighting positions do not protect against the destructiveness of artillery and other area weapons. But a dug-in fighting position may well be your key to survivability. "Digging in" cannot, by itself, remove your vulnerability. It does reduce exposure to the enemy's acquisition, targeting, and engagement systems. You must be able to construct your survivability position, often without Engineer assistance.

Fighting positions for crew-served weapons must be where gunners can stop infantry attacks. Plan the sectors of fire covering infantry avenues of approach. They should give the most grazing fire across the platoon or squad front. Sectors of fire should overlap each other and those of adjacent squads. Prepare the positions so that their primary sectors of fire have the guns firing across the unit's front. Prepare secondary sectors of fire so the guns fire to the front.

Usually each M60 or MK19 fighting position is occupied by one MP team. One member is the gunner, one is the assistant gunner, and one is the ammunition bearer/rifleman. Each gunner has a primary and a secondary sector of fire. The gunner fires in his secondary sector only on order or when there are no targets in his primary sector. Each gunner sets his weapon for a final protective line (FPL) or a principal direction of fire (PDF) within his primary sector. This is done by using aiming stakes. Both FPL and PDF are control measures to help defend a position. In an attack the gunner knows his primary areas. He engages the greatest threat, and, on order of the platoon leader or platoon sergeant, fires the FPL.

The FPL for the M60 is the line where an enemy assault is to be checked by interlocking fire from all weapons. Use the M60 on the FPL for grazing fire no more than one meter above the ground -about hip high -across the element front. Use the MK19 or M203 to cover dead space. To figure the dead space on the FPL, the gunner watches a person walking down the FPL and marks spaces that cannot be grazed. The gunner records all dead space data on the range card. He prepares at least two copies of his range card. He keeps one card at the position and gives one copy to the squad leader. Fire on a gunner's FPL is its final protective fire (FPF). FPF is usually used as a last resort to stop an enemy assault. All weapons fire on command, continuously, until called for FPF to be stopped.

When terrain prevents the use of an FPL, the gunner uses a PDF instead. He directs his fire toward the most threatening avenue of approach that leads to his position. His weapon is positioned to fire directly on this approach rather than across the squad's front.

Fighting positions for the MK19 and .50-caliber are constructed like M60 fighting positions. But it takes added effort to keep the M3 tripod from moving because of the MK19's recoil. If you are using the M60 machine gun, use the tripod when firing at an angle. Use the biped when tiring to the front. When you change your fires from the oblique to the front, move the machine gun. But leave the tripod in place. If you are using the MK19, position the tripod toward the primary sector of fire. However, because there is no biped for the MK19, be prepared to adjust both the weapon and tripod to the secondary sector, if required. After a crew is positioned and is assigned an FPL or a PDF, the team--

  • Marks the tripod's position and the limits of their sectors of fire with aiming stakes.
  • Outlines the hole.
  • Digs the firing platform first. This lessens their exposure if they have to shoot before construction of the position is complete. (Dig the firing platform at a level that allows the gun to traverse the sectors of fire.)
  • Lowers the gun to reduce the gunner's profile. This also reduces the height of the frontal cover needed.
  • Digs the hole deep enough to protect themselves and still allow the gunner to shoot in comfort (usually about armpit deep).
  • Places the dirt where frontal cover is needed.
  • When the frontal cover is high enough and thick enough, uses the rest of the dirt to build flank and rear cover. (Sandbags, wire, hatchets, or saws can be useful for building overhead cover or improving the fighting positions.)

The ammunition bearer digs a one-man fighting position to the flank. He locates himself where he can see and shoot to both the front and the oblique. Usually the ammunition bearer is on the same side as the FPL or the PDF. From there he can see and shoot into the machine gun's secondary sector. And he also can see the gunner and the assistant gunner. The ammunition bearer connects his position to the machine-gun position by a crawl trench. That way he can provide ammunition or replace one of the gunners.


Planning your defense on urban terrain is similar to planning a defense in the countryside. Defensive positions must cover likely enemy avenues of approach. Defensive positions must be mutually supporting. They must provide cover and concealment. Antitank weapons are used on mounted avenues of approach. Machine guns cover dismounted approaches. LAWs/AT4s and M203 grenade launchers work well in built-up areas. They have a good chance to hit enemy armored vehicles on the top or the side where armor is thin.

The method of defense (in-depth linear, or the like) in the two areas is based on the same considerations. Obstacles are used to canalize the enemy into kill zones or to deny key terrain. Orders must be very specific. Due to limited resources, use obstacles to channel, divert, or impede movement. Obstacles should be developed and planned in accordance with (IAW) FM 90-10-1, Appendix G.

Select defensive positions in urban areas based on METT-T. Often a squad occupies a building, but larger buildings may be defended by a platoon. Select buildings that--

  • Are well-built. Concrete and steel construction is preferred.
  • Have strong floors to keep the structure from collapsing under the weight of debris.
  • Have thick walls and floors so that the enemy cannot shoot through roofs and walls to kill defenders.
  • Are constructed of nonflammable material. Avoid wood. Strong, fireproof construction provides protection from nuclear attack as well as conventional firepower.
  • Have few glass windows (or break and remove the glass).
  • Provide good fields of fire. Buildings located next to vacant lots, alleys, and parks allow better fields of fire than buildings located next to other buildings.
  • Allow mutual support between buildings. No building should be subject to attack without troops in another building being able to provide supporting fire.

Locate positions so as not to establish a pattern. Avoid obvious firing locations like church steeples (remember the elements of OCOKA):

  • Place MK19s in the building where they can cover assigned sectors of fire and FPLs.
  • Have the squad automatic riflemen and grenadiers cover enemy approach routes to the building.
  • Place most rifle positions at or near ground level to have overhead protection and provide grazing fire on approaches.
  • Position some MK19 gunners higher to get a longer range. And they can fire into areas that would be dead space for ground-level weapons.
  • Position AT4s/LAWs (remember the backblast) so that they can fire down on tracked infantry fighting vehicles and wheeled scout recon vehicles.

Change the outside of the building as little as possible. Inside the building--

  • Improve fighting positions to provide more overhead and frontal cover; firing ports are used to avoid enemy observation.
  • Cut or blow holes between rooms and floors so your soldiers can move quickly by a covered and concealed route to other tiring positions in the building.
  • Seal off unused basements to prevent enemy entry.
  • Barricade doors, halls, and stairs and take down fire escapes to keep the enemy out of the building.
  • Reinforce positions with sandbags, solid debris beds furniture, and the like.
  • Screen or block windows and other openings. (This keeps the enemy from seeing which windows are manned and from throwing hand grenades into the building. When firing from windows or holes in walls be sure the muzzle of your weapon does not protrude beyond the wall. This conceals the muzzle flash.)
  • Remove combustible materials to limit the danger of fire.
  • Turn off electricity and gas.
  • Stockpile water and dirt to fight fires.
  • Wear armored vests, earplugs, and goggles to protect you from dust and debris.


An OP/LP is a selected location from which to look and listen for enemy activity within an assigned area of observation. You can use OPs/LPs--

  • On key terrain when the surveillance of a specific area is required.
  • To prevent the enemy from a surprise attack on other friendly forces.
  • As an early warning security measure in a defensive perimeter.
  • For the monitoring of likely enemy avenues of approach, drop zones (DZs), and landing zones (LZs).

The platoon leader picks the general location of OPs/LPs. The squad leader picks the exact positions. He chooses places that--

  • Offer a good view of the sector.
  • Offer cover and concealment.
  • Offer covered and concealed routes to and from the OP/LP.

He avoids places that--

  • Attract attention, like water towers, isolated groves of trees, a lone building or tree, or abandoned vehicles.
  • Silhouette observers, like hilltops that skyline the position or vehicles.

Place OPs/LPs down the slope or on a flank of a hill, if there are covered withdrawal routes. Ideally, have each OP's/LP's field of observation overlap those of adjacent OPs/LPs. You may have to selectively clear fields of observation. Good observation of a sector may mean less cover and concealment. You should be able to enter and leave an OP/LP without being seen.

The team or teams at an OP/LP should have nightvision devices. The observer needs--

  • Binoculars to help him see and identfy the enemy.
  • A compass to get azimuth readings.
  • A map with target reference points plotted on it so he can call for indirect fire.
  • A radio (this may be the only means of communication from a remote site like a DZ or an LZ).

OP/LP team emplacement at night depends a lot on sound. Place OPs/LPs close to the perimeter. And place them within direct fire range of the defensive perimeter for protection.

The team leader designates a specific location and primary direction of fire for the crew-served weapon. The OP/LP team builds a hasty fighting position or a prepared fighting position depending on METT-T. The team leader also designates a covered and concealed location behind the OP/LP for the vehicle. The OP/LP team must have a covered and concealed withdrawal route to the vehicle from the fighting position. The team camouflages the OP/LP and their vehicle while the gunner clears a field of fire and prepares a range card.

The squad leader establishes communication with higher HQ and tells the team when and how to report. He tells them--

  • If and when they should fire at the enemy.
  • How to get back to the squad if they must withdraw.
  • What reentry signals to use.
  • When they will be replaced, if he knows this.
  • To fight or withdraw according to his instructions.
  • To be careful not to be drawn away by a small enemy element while the main element attempts to penetrate the perimeter.
  • When to pull back or under what conditions they can withdraw without his order.

The frequency of relief for the OP/LP team depends on the team's physical condition and morale, the weather, the number of troops available, and the next operation. The squad leader carefully plans how each soldier receives rest. When an OP/LP team is part of a defensive perimeter, they--

  • Build fighting positions for protection and concealment.
  • Use trip flares, noisemaking devices, and night-vision devices to detect the enemy.
  • Emplace Claymore mines for added protection.
  • Coordinate with the perimeter on the reentry procedures to the perimeter from the withdrawal route.

OPs/LPs on a defensive perimeter need wire or secured radio for communication. Messengers can also be used. You may use man-portable radios to supplement wire communication.

At an OP/LP usually one team member observes. Another provides security and records and reports information. The third provides relief and backup security. Team members switch jobs about every 20 to 30 minutes. The efficiency of the observer drops quickly after that time.

As the observer you search terrain in two steps. First make quick, overall searches of the entire area for obvious targets and unnatural colors, outlines, or movements. Do this by quickly searching from just in front of your position to the maximum range you wish to observe. If the sector is wide, divide it into small sectors. Then search the sector in 50-meter-wide strips. Alternate your search pattern from left to right and right to left until the entire area has been observed. When you see a suspicious spot, search it well.

Report all information quickly, accurately, and completely. Ensure the report answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Use the word SALUTE (size, activity, location, unit, time, and equipment) as a memory device to remember information to include. See also Appendix D.


After the crew-served weapons are in position, the squad leader positions the remaining MP to protect the gunners and to cover areas not covered by the gunners' fire. Using the range cards, the squad leader makes a squad sector sketch. (Range cards are a rough sketch of the terrain around a weapon.)

Squad sector sketches are used by squad and platoon leaders to plan defense and to control fire. Squad sector sketches show--

  • Main terrain features in each sector of fire and the ranges to the features.
  • Each primary fighting position.
  • Primary and secondary sectors of fire for each position.
  • MK19/M60/.50-caliber FPL or PDF.
  • Type of weapon at each position.
  • OPs/LPs and squad leaders' positions.
  • Dead space.
  • Mines and obstacles.

The squad leader checks range cards and the squad sector sketch. If he finds gaps or other flaws in the fire plan, the weapons or the sectors are adjusted as needed. If he finds dead space, he takes steps to cover it with mines, grenade-launcher fire, or indirect fire. He prepares two copies of the squad sector sketch. He keeps one copy and forwards the other copy to the platoon leader who makes a platoon sector sketch. The platoon sector sketch shows--

  • Squad sectors of fire.
  • Crew-served and antiarmor weapons positions and sectors of fire, including FPLs or PDFs for the crew-served weapons and target reference points for the antiarmor weapons.
  • Positions of mines and obstacles.
  • Indirect fire planned in the platoon's sector of fire (targets and FPF).
  • OPs/LPs and patrol routes (if any).
  • Platoon CP-OP.

The platoon leader coordinates with nearby units. He usually coordinates from left to right and from front to rear. The fires of units within the perimeter must be closely coordinated with the platoon's defensive fire plan. Squad leaders coordinate their fire plans with adjacent squads.

All positions and units near the platoon are mutually supporting. The platoon leader makes sure gaps between units are covered by fire, observation, patrols, OPs/LPs, or sensors. The units exchange information on--

  • The location of dead space between elements and how to cover it.
  • The locations of primary, alternate, and supplementary positions and sectors of fire for automatic weapons, antiarmor weapons, and subordinate elements.
  • The locations of OPs/LPs.
  • The locations and types of obstacles and how they are covered by fire.
  • Any patrols to be conducted, giving their size, type, times of departure and return, and routes.


When you can, lay a hasty protective minefield as part of the unit's defensive perimeter. It can stop, delay, or restrict movement. MP often lay mines to restrict enemy movement near a defensive perimeter or at ambush sites. In the defense, platoons and squads lay hasty protective minefield to supplement weapons, to prevent surprise, and to give early warning of enemy advance. Hasty minefields must be covered by fire. Make sure adjacent units are informed of mine locations.

Platoons and squads must have permission from higher HQ to install hasty protective minefields. Higher HQ may, however, delegate approval authority to the company commander for emplacement of hasty protective minefield. Requests for permission go through the normal chain of command.

If your company is not authorized mines in its basic loads, a special request may be needed. The enemy threat to the rear requires commanders to issue mines to rear area units for protection. The two mines most likely to be available to rear area units for hasty protective minefield are the M18A1 antipersonnel mine (Claymore) and the M21 antitank mine. See also FM 20-32 and FM 21-75.

MP most often will have Claymores available to them. The Claymore mine is mainly a defensive weapon. But the ways in which you use the Claymore are limited only by your imagination. Plan your use of Claymore mines to suit METT-T. Emplace mines--

  • On likely dismounted avenues of approach.
  • To cover dead space not covered by FPF of crew-served weapons.
  • Outside hand grenade range, but within range of small arms weapons.
  • Where they are covered by observation and fire.
  • Where backblast will not injure friendly forces.
  • Beside buildings or other sturdy structures in urban terrain.
  • Hidden in rubble; inside abandoned vehicles.
  • Strapped to boards (for detonation from around corners).

Recover the mines before the unit relocates (if possible by the same persons who emplaced them).


Vigilance is the watchword for local security. When OPs/LPs detect enemy elements, they notify their superior who calls for indirect fire, if it is available. When the enemy's advance threatens the OPs/LPs, order the OPs/LPs to withdraw. As the enemy approaches platoon positions, have the platoon increase their volume of fire.

If infantry and armored vehicles are attacking, have the platoon fire to force the vehicles to button up and to separate mounted troops from the vehicles. Break up attacking formations as far forward of the platoon's position as possible. This will help to disrupt the momentum of the enemy assault.

If an assaulting enemy is preparing to overrun a platoon's positions, call for FPF. Automatic weapons with an FPL fire on that line. Those weapons without an FPL fire along their PDF. All other weapons fire and continue firing until the assault has been halted. Use a prearranged signal, like a colored star cluster, to stop the firing. Repeat FPF as often as needed. (FPF expends a lot of ammunition. Use it only if you must stop an enemy assault from closing on your element's position.)

If the enemy gets through the FPF, repel them by close combat. If the perimeter is penetrated, move teams to block the penetration and cover friendly troops moving to alternate or supplementary positions. Even though your counterattack capability is limited, you must try to restore the perimeter. When the enemy is repelled--

  • Set up security again.
  • Send patrols forward to maintain contact.
  • Call for indirect fire on areas where the enemy is likely to regroup.
  • Reorganize squads.
  • Evacuate seriously wounded MP.
  • Redistribute and resupply ammunition.
  • Repair positions and continue to improve them.

Keep your next higher commander informed throughout the conduct of the defense.

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