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Most hand-to-hand situations on the battlefield will involve several people. Varying levels of force will be appropriate based on the situation and rules of engagement. Whether there are more friendlies or enemies, or whether or not some of the parties are armed, soldiers should enter a fight with a well-rehearsed plan and an overall fight strategy.


The fundamental truth of hand-to-hand fighting is that the winner will be the one whose buddies show up first with a weapon. Given modern equipment, complicated scenarios, and the split seconds available to make life and death decisions, soldiers must be armed with practical and workable solutions.

9-1. RANGE

You will usually find yourself in a hand-to-hand situation unexpectedly; for example, your weapon jams when entering a room during MOUT. The first thing you must do is determine the appropriate actions to take, which will primarily be based on the range to the enemy. Against an armed enemy, the deciding factor of range is whether or not you can close the gap before the enemy can bring his weapon to bear.

a. Close Range. If you are near enough to the enemy to close before he can bring his weapon to bear, you should immediately close the distance and gain control of him.

b. Long Range. If the range is too great, or the enemy has sufficient time to bring his weapon to bear, the only options are to escape or take cover. Give your buddy a clear shot or get where you can clear your weapon to get yourself back in the fight.


If you have closed the distance, your primary goal is to control the enemy. This means controlling his ability to influence the rest of the fight, and controlling his ability to damage you. You are essentially stalling until someone can come to your aid.

a. Body Control. You must control the enemy's ability to move, which can done by gaining and maintaining a dominant body position. This can also be accomplished by pinning the enemy in place (for example, against the wall).

b. Weapon Control. You must immobilize the enemy's weapon. For example, use your weight to pin his rifle to his chest while you are mounted, or keep him from drawing a side arm by controlling it in the holster. You must also keep your weapons away from the enemy. It does you no good to immobilize the enemy if he can reach your side arm.


A very conservative approach should be taken to finishing moves. You must remember that the primary means of winning the fight is with the aid of your buddy. Any move that, if unsuccessful, would compromise your ability to control the situation should not be attempted.


The most common error when fighting in groups is to enter the fight without a plan. This results in uncoordinated actions, and often in working against each other. Only practice gives soldiers the necessary confidence in themselves and their comrades and the ability to think and act together under the stress of hand-to-hand combat.


When fighting two against one, use the following procedures.

a. Angles of Attack. The fighters should advance together, spreading out so that if the enemy turns to face either soldier he will expose his flank to the other.

b. Communication. One soldier should attack the enemy's legs and the other should concentrate on his upper body. This can be done by signal, or the soldier attacking the flank can automatically go low. After the enemy is on the ground, good communication is necessary so that you can control and then finish him.


When fighting three against two, use the following procedures.

a. Angles of Attack. The fighters should advance so that the outside two are outside of the enemy. One of the enemies will have to make a choice to face either the outside or inside man. When he does, he will expose his flank to the other one. The fighter who is facing his opponent alone will stall until the other two have finished and can come to his aid.

b. Communication. Not only must the two who are fighting the same opponent communicate with each other, but also the fighter who is alone must keep them abreast of his situation. If he is in trouble, it may be necessary for one of them to disengage and come to his aid.


If both groups have the same number of fighters, one fighter stays in reserve until the enemy has committed their entire force. When they have committed, the reserved fighter will attack the exposed back of the enemy.


When fighting one against two, use the following procedures.

a. Remain Standing. Defeating two opponents simultaneously is very difficult. When outnumbered, you should usually try to remain standing-mobility is critical to an effective defense or escape. It is very important not to expose your back. You must use the obstacles around you to restrict the enemies' movements so that you face only one at a time, or maneuver yourself to the flank of the one nearest to you and use him to block the other one. Attack the first enemy using strikes or field-expedient weapons, and then deal with the remaining one.

b. Defense on the Ground. If you should lose your footing or be taken to the ground, you must protect your back. Your best defense is to move into a corner or against a wall. Use a modified guard, so that your legs are not exposed, to limit the enemies' ability to attack simultaneously.


When fighting two against three, you should maneuver to the flanks either together or separately.

a. Together. If you can get to one flank together, with the help of restrictive terrain if possible, use strikes to attack one opponent at a time until you have defeated all three.

b. Separately. If you are separated, one of you defends as in one against two while the other attacks the remaining enemy with strikes and then comes to the aid of the first.

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