The US Army's basic fighting doctrine is called AirLand Battle. It
reflects time proven fundamentals, the structure of modem warfare,
and the experience of combat. AirLand Battle doctrine provides a
specific mission for infantry forces.
Among the infantry's basic fundamentals are the principles of war, the elements of combat power, and the tenets of AirLand Battle. These fundamentals have application at the platoon and squad level. This section provides the mission of the infantry and the doctrine principles basic to the infantry rifle platoon and squad. These principles form the basis for platoon and squad tactics, techniques, procedures, and drills. This section also discusses the elements of combat power and the skills required of leaders and soldiers at the small-unit level.
The mission of the infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver to defeat or capture him, or to repel his assault by fire, close combat, and counterattack.
a. Despite any technological advantages that our armed forces might have over an enemy, only close combat between ground forces gains the decision in battle. Infantry rifle forces (infantry, airborne, air assault, light, and ranger) have a key role in close combat situations. They--
- Attack over approaches that are not feasible for heavy forces.
- Make initial penetrations in difficult terrain for exploitations by armor and mechanized infantry.
- Retain existing obstacles and difficult terrain as pivots for operational and tactical maneuver.
- Seize or secure forested and built-up areas.
- Control restrictive routes for use by other forces.
- Operate primarily at night or during other periods of natural or induced limited visibility.
- Follow and support exploiting heavy forces when augmented with transportation.
- Conduct rear area operations, capitalizing on air mobility.
b. Success in battle hinges on the actions of platoons and squads in close combat; on their ability to react to contact, employ suppressive fires, maneuver to a vulnerable flank, and fight through to defeat, destroy, or capture the enemy. The successful actions of small units relies on the ability of leaders and soldiers to use terrain to good advantage; to operate their weapons with accuracy and deadly effect; to out think, out move, and out fight the enemy.
c. Infantry rifle platoons and squads normally operate as part of a larger force. They benefit from the support of other infantry units, armor, artillery, mortars, close air, air defense, and engineer assets. They also provide their own suppressive fires either to repel enemy assaults or to support their own maneuver.
The doctrine that guides infantry forces is based on the four elements of combat power: maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership.
a. Maneuver. Maneuver is the movement of forces supported by fire to achieve a position of advantage from which to destroy or threaten destruction of the enemy. Infantry forces move to gain a position of advantage over the enemy and to hold that advantage. They maneuver to attack enemy flanks, rear areas, logistics points, and command posts. In the defense, they maneuver to counterattack a flank of the enemy attack. Maneuver, properly supported by fires, allows the infantry to close with the enemy and gain a decision in combat.
b. Firepower. Firepower is the capacity of a unit to deliver effective fires on a target. Firepower kills or suppresses the enemy in his positions, deceives the enemy, and supports maneuver. Without effective supporting fires the infantry cannot maneuver. Before attempting to maneuver, units must establish a base of fire. A base of fire is placed on an enemy force or position to reduce or eliminate the enemy's ability to interfere with friendly maneuver elements. Leaders must know how to control, mass, and combine fire with maneuver. They must identify the most critical targets quickly, direct fires onto them, and ensure that the volume of fires is sufficient to keep the enemy from returning fire effectively, and the unit from expending ammunition needlessly.
c. Protection. Protection is the conservation of the fighting potential of a force so that it can be applied at the decisive time and place. Units must never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Platoons and squads take active and passive measures to protect themselves from surprise, observation, detection, interference, espionage, sabotage, or annoyance. Protection includes two basic considerations: care of the soldier and his equipment, and action to counter enemy combat power.
(1) The first consideration involves sustainment techniques necessary to maintain the platoon and squads as an effective fighting force. It includes keeping soldiers healthy to maintain fighting morale through personal hygiene, physical conditioning, and rest plans. It also includes keeping equipment in good working condition, and providing and protecting supplies. It means managing the soldier's load so that he carries only what is needed and is fit to fight when required.
(2) The second involves security, dispersion, cover, camouflage, deception, and suppression of enemy weapons. Ultimately, the infantryman must remain undetected to survive. Once found, the infantryman becomes vulnerable to all the fires of the enemy and he must either fight to break contact or to close with and finish the enemy. The infantry always wants to set the time and place of battle, and must protect itself so that it can do so with maximum combat power and the important element of surprise.
d. Leadership. Military leadership is a process by which a soldier influences others to accomplish the mission. Leaders coordinate the other three elements of combat power. Their competent and confident leadership results in effective unit action. The right leadership gives purpose, direction, and motivation in combat. Leaders must know their profession, their soldiers, and the tools of war. Only this kind of leader can direct soldiers to do difficult tasks under dangerous and stressful conditions.
Infantry platoon and squad leaders must be tacticians. They cannot rely on a book to solve tactical problems. They must understand and use initiative in accomplishing the mission. This means that they must know how to analyze the situation quickly and make decisions rapidly in light of the commander's intent. They must be prepared to take independent action if necessary. The art of making sound decisions quickly lies in the knowledge of tactics, the estimate process, and platoon and squad techniques and procedures. The skills required of infantry leaders include physical toughness, technical knowledge, mental agility, and a firm grasp of how to motivate soldiers to fight on in the face of adversity.
Soldiers with sharply honed skills form the building blocks of combat effective squads and platoons. They must maintain a high state of physical fitness. They must be experts in the use of their primary weapons. They must be proficient in infantry skills (land navigation, camouflage, individual movement techniques, survival techniques, and so forth). Finally, they must know and practice their roles as members of fire teams, squads, and platoons.
Infantry units must train properly for combat. Training must conform to Army doctrine. Doctrinal manuals provide leaders correct procedures and principles to conduct training properly. Leaders and soldiers must understand standardized doctrinal principles found in applicable publications. They should refer to ARTEP 7-8-MTP to find the specific conditions and standards for the techniques and procedures discussed in this manual. Training must require unit leaders to use their initiative and make decisions quickly. The training environment must be realistic and stressful. Training must challenge soldiers to master all infantry tasks, individual and collective, and it must constantly remind them of their mission, their heritage, and the physical and mental toughness that is required of them. Platoon training must also promote the cohesion of the unit so that, when all else fails, units continue to fight.
This section describes the three basic tactical operations undertaken by infantry platoons and squads--movement, offense, and defense. It also discusses the requirement for security which is inherent in all platoon operations. Infantry tactics build on the following five principles:
1. Squads and platoons fight through enemy contact at the lowest possible level.
2. Squads in contact must establish effective suppressive fire before they or other squads can maneuver. If the squad cannot move under its own fires, the platoon must attempt to gain suppressive fires and then maneuver against the enemy position.
3. Platoons and squads will fight as organized with fire teams and squads retaining their integrity. Even buddy teams slay the same. The team leader and the automatic rifleman form one buddy team, and the grenadier (M203) and a rifleman form the other buddy team.
4. Success depends upon all soldiers understanding what the platoon is trying to do and the specific steps necessary to accomplish the mission.
5. The platoon leader never waits for the squad in contact to develop the situation. Anytime a fire team makes contact, the platoon also begins taking action. That way the platoon can quickly provide additional support, maneuver to take up the assault, or follow-up on the success of the squad that made contact.
Movement refers to the shifting of forces on the battlefield. The key to moving successfully involves selecting the best combination of formations and movement techniques in each situation. Leaders consider the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, and troops and time available (METT-T) in selecting the best route and the appropriate formation and movement technique. The leader's selection must allow moving squads to--
- Maintain cohesion.
- Maintain momentum.
- Provide maximum protection.
- Make contact in a manner that allows them to transition smoothly to offensive or defensive action.
a. Formations. Formations are arrangements of units and of soldiers in relation to each other. Platoons and squads use formations for control, security, and flexibility.
(1) Control. Every squad and soldier has a standard position. Soldiers can see their team leaders. Fire team leaders can see their squad leaders. Leaders control their units using arm-and-hand signals.
(2) Security. Formations also provide 360-degree security and allow units to give the weight of their firepower to the flanks or front in anticipation of enemy contact.
(3) Flexibility. Formations do not demand parade ground precision. Platoons and squads must retain the flexibility needed to vary their formations to the situation. The use of formations allows soldiers to execute battle drills more quickly and gives them the assurance that their leaders and buddy team members are in their expected positions and performing the right tasks.
b. Movement Techniques. Movement techniques describe the position of squads and fire teams in relation to each other during movement. Platoons and squads use three movement techniques: traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch.
(1) Like formations, movement [techniques provide varying degrees of control security, and flexibility.
(2) Movement techniques differ from formations in two ways:
(a) Formations are relatively fixed; movement techniques are not. The distance between moving units or the distance that a squad bounds away from an overwatching squad varies based on factors of METT-T.
(b) Formations allow the platoon to weight its maximum firepower in a desired direction; movement techniques allow squads to make contact with the enemy with the smallest element possible. This allows leaders to establish a base of fire, initiate suppressive fires, and attempt to maneuver without first having to disengage or be reinforced.
(3) Leaders base their selection of a particular movement technique on the likelihood of enemy contact and the requirement for speed.
c. Other Considerations. In planning tactical movement, leaders should also consider the requirements for--
- Cover and concealment.
- Observation and fields of fire.
- Maneuver space.
- Command and control.
Units undertake offensive operations to destroy the enemy and his will to fight; to seize terrain; to learn enemy strength and disposition; or to deceive, divert, or fix the enemy. Infantry platoons and squads normally conduct offensive operations as part of a larger force. However, they can perform some offensive operations independently. The company commander's application of combat power at the decisive point determines the outcome of the battle. Offensive operations are characterized by flexibility, surprise, concentration, speed, and audacity. Offensive operations include movements to contact, attacks, raids, reconnaissance and security operations, and ambushes.
a. Movement to Contact. A movement to contact is an offensive action that seeks (to gain or regain contact with the enemy. Usually, a unit moving to contact lacks detailed information about the enemy. Upon making contact, a unit identifies the enemy strengths and weaknesses as it develops the situation. A platoon conducts a movement to contact as part of a company. Considerations for planning and conducting movements to contact include--
- Make enemy contact with the smallest element possible.
- Prevent detection of elements not in contact until they are in the assault.
- Maintain 360-degree security at all times.
- Report all information quickly and accurately.
- Maintain contact once it is gained.
- Generate combat power rapidly upon contact.
- Fight through at the lowest level possible.
b. Infiltration. Infiltration is a form of maneuver in the offense. It is a means of reaching the enemy's rear without fighting through prepared defenses. Infantry platoons infiltrate to move into or through an area without being seen or heard. An infiltration is not an end in itself but a means to an end.
(1) Platoons infiltrate---
- To gather information.
- To attack enemy positions from the rear.
- To conduct raids or ambushes in enemy rear areas.
- To capture prisoners.
- To seize key terrain in support of other operations.
- To aid a main attack.
(2) An infiltration has five phases.
(a) Patrol. Find gaps, weak areas in enemy defenses and enemy positions.
(b) Prepare. Make plans, give orders, coordinate with forward and flank units, and rehearse.
(c) Infiltrate. Use the specified infiltration method. Avoid contact. Ignore ineffective enemy fire. The three methods of infiltration are--
1. Multiple lanes. When many gaps exist and the terrain can support a large number of lanes, each squad uses its own lane.
2. Single lane--staggered squads. Units move along a single lane at staggered times. This method can be used when few gaps exist or when the ground restricts the number of lanes.
3. Single lane--one squad. A single gap exists on which the whole squad can move at the same time.
(d) Consolidate. Do this in the enemy rear or along a final linkup point; then, move to an assault position or an objective rally point to continue the mission.
(e) Execute. Carry out the assigned mission. The mission can be destroy enemy forces or equipment, seize key terrain or an area, capture prisoners, or gather information.
c. Types of Attack. An attack is an offensive action characterized by movement supported by fire. There are two types of attack: hasty and deliberate. They are distinguished chiefly by the time available for preparation. Additionally, special-purpose attacks include raids and ambushes. Successful attack depends on concentrating the maximum possible shock and violence against the enemy force. Infantry forces combine shock and violence with surprise. The objective is to shatter the enemy's nerve, ruin his synchronization, unravel his plan, and destroy his unit's cohesion and the willingness of his soldiers to fight. A successful attack combines a scheme of maneuver with a coordinated plan of direct and indirect fire support. The focus of an attacking platoon's fire and maneuver is a weak point, a vulnerable flank, or the rear of an enemy. Once he has identified the point of attack, the leader establishes a base of fire to kill, fix, or suppress the enemy at that point. He then maneuvers the rest of his force to a position from which it can assault.
(1) Hasty attack. A hasty attack is conducted with the forces immediately available to maintain momentum or to take advantage of the enemy situation. It does not normally allow for extensive preparation.
(2) Deliberate attack. A deliberate attack is carefully planned and coordinated. More time is available to perform 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 failed.
(3) Raid. A raid is an operation 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 after completion of the assigned mission.
(4) Ambush. An ambush is a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy unit. It combines the advantages and characteristics of the offense with those of the defense.
d. Initiative in the Attack. Seizing and retaining the initiative involves more than just achieving tactical surprise. It involves a process of planning and preparing for combat operations, finding the enemy first, avoiding detection, fixing the enemy, locating or creating a weakness, and maneuvering to exploit that weakness with a quick and violent assault.
(1) Plan and prepare. Leaders use the troop-leading procedure to make sure that all necessary steps are taken to prepare for an operation. Leaders use the estimate of the situation to analyze the factors of METT-T and to determine the best course of action and to ensure that leaders, soldiers, and their equipment can perform the tasks necessary to accomplish the mission.
(2) Find the enemy. Platoon leaders find the enemy by knowing how he fights, by analyzing the terrain in light of this knowledge, and by actively reconnoitering to locate him.
(3) Avoid detection. Platoons avoid detection by moving along the least expected, generally the most difficult, route. They use the terrain to mask their movements. They use proper camouflage techniques and move with stealth. This allows platoons to capitalize on surprise. All of this requires imagination in leaders and stamina in all soldiers.
(4) Fix the enemy. Platoons and squads fix enemy forces by employing suppressive fires that kill exposed enemy soldiers and destroy their weapons. As a minimum, they render the volume and accuracy of the enemy's fire ineffective.
(5) Find or create a weakness. Leaders look for vulnerable flanks, gaps in lines, or lulls in enemy fire. When they cannot readily find a weakness, they create one wit h suppressive fire and the surprise effect of its suddenly coming from an unexpected direction.
(6) Maneuver to exploit the weakness. Leaders must exploit this weakness by moving to the best covered and concealed position and then assaulting to destroy, defeat, or capture the enemy.
(7) Consolidate and reorganize. Finally, platoons and squads must quickly consolidate the position to defend it against an enemy counterattack. Units then reorganize themselves and prepare to continue the mission.
e. Control Measures. Leaders use graphic control measures to regulate or direct the platoon's movement, positions, and fire.
(1) Control measures are not intended to restrict the exercise of initiative (the function of command). Leaders use control measures to clarify their intent, focus the platoon or squad effort, and ensure synchronization. Each control measure should have a specific purpose that contributes to mission accomplishment. If a control measure fails the purpose test, leaders should not use it.
(2) Control measures can be drawn on a map, overlay, sketch, or a terrain model. Leaders should strive to keep control measures easily identifiable and simple. Graphic control measures in the offense include assembly area, attack position, line of departure, boundaries, route, release point, start point, axis of advance, direction of attack, phase line, checkpoint, assault position, objective, contact point, linkup point, infiltration lane, probable line of deployment, and limit of advance. FM 101-5-1 discusses these control measures in detail and provides examples of their use.
f. Attacks During Limited Visibility. Attacks during limited visibility achieve surprise, avoid heavy losses, cause panic in a weak and disorganized enemy, exploit success, maintain momentum, and keep pressure on the enemy. Platoons and squads attack whenever possible during limited visibility. Darkness, fog, heavy rain, falling snow, and the smoke and dust of combat create limited visibility conditions that allow infantry platoons and squads to move undetected.
(1) Fundamentals. The fundamentals for a daylight attack apply to limited visibility attacks. Limited visibility attacks require--
- Well-trained squads.
- Natural light sufficient to employ night vision devices.
- A simple concept with sufficient control measures.
- Detailed, successful reconnaissance of the objective, routes, passage points, support-by-fire positions, and other key locations.
(2) Considerations. Leaders must consider the increased difficulty during limited visibility operations in performing the following:
- Controlling the movement of individuals and squads.
- Identifying targets and controlling direct and indirect fires.
- Navigating and moving.
- Identifying friendly and enemy soldiers.
- Locating, treating, and evacuating casualties.
- Locating and bypassing or breaching enemy obstacles.
This paragraph describes the characteristics of defensive operations, the role of the commander's concept in focusing the efforts of platoons and squads in the defense, and other considerations for planning defensive operations. Defensive operations are characterized by preparation, disruption, concentration, and flexibility. Platoons and squads normally defend as part of a larger force to disrupt, disorganize, delay, or defeat an attacking enemy, deny an area to an enemy, or protect a flank. They may also defend as a part of a larger unit in a retrograde operation. The challenge to the defender is to retain the initiative, that is, to keep the enemy reacting and unable to execute his own plan.
a. Initiative in the Defense. Since the enemy decides the time and place of the attack, leaders seize and retain the initiative in the defense through careful planning, preparation, coordination, and rehearsal. Leaders plan and establish the defense to find the enemy first, without being found; fix the enemy with obstacles and fires; locate or create a weakness in the enemy's attack plan; and maneuver to exploit that weakness with quick violent counterattack.
(1) Plan and prepare. Leaders use the troop-leading procedure to make sure that all necessary steps are taken to prepare for an operation. They analyze the factors of METT-T to determine the best course of action. In the defense, they determine where best to kill the enemy with fires. They position key weapons to concentrate fires into that area, tie in fires with obstacles, position the remaining platoon and squad weapons to support and protect the key weapons, and reconnoiter and rehearse counterattacks.
(2) Find the enemy. Platoon leaders find the enemy by knowing how he fights, by analyzing the terrain in light of this knowledge, by positioning OPs along likely avenues of approach, and by actively patrolling to locate him.
(3) Avoid detection. Platoons avoid detection by securing their defensive positions or sectors early and continuously, by positioning squads and weapons away from natural lines of drift or obvious terrain features, and by employing effective camouflage and noise and light discipline.
(4) Fix the enemy. Platoons use a combination of tactical obstacles and direct and indirect fires to disrupt the enemy attack and fix the enemy in a place where the platoon can destroy him with fires.
(5) Find or create a weakness. Platoons create a weakness by destroying the enemy's command and control nodes, by isolating an attacking or assaulting enemy formation from its support, by causing mounted forces to dismount and thereby slowing the attack and making the enemy vehicles more vulnerable, by use of night vision devices to gain a visibility advantage, or by the effective use of illumination to blind or expose the enemy during his attack.
(6) Maneuver to exploit the weakness. Having created a weakness, platoons must exploit it with counterattacks against the flank or rear of the enemy attack by fire or maneuver. Platoons must carefully coordinate and rehearse all counterattacks to ensure the proper synchronization in lifting and shifting of direct and indirect fires. They must also consider the threat of follow-on enemy forces against their counterattack.
(7) Reorganize. Platoons and squads must be able to reorganize quickly to continue the defense against follow-on forces.
b. Defense on a Reverse Slope. An infantry company or platoon can organize a defense on the reverse slope of a hill (Figure 1-1). This defense is on the part of the hill or ridge that is masked by the crest from enemy direct fire and ground observation. The platoon must control the crest by fire.
(1) The advantages of defending from a reverse slope are--
- Enemy ground observation of the position is masked.
- There is more freedom of movement in the position due to the enemy's lack of ground observation.
- Enemy direct-fire weapons cannot hit the position.
- Enemy indirect fire is less effective due to the lack of enemy ground observation.
- The defender gains surprise.
- If the enemy attacks over the crest, he will isolate himself from his supporting element(s).
(2) The disadvantages of defending from a reverse slope may include the following:
- It is more difficult to observe the enemy. Soldiers can see no farther forward than the crest, making it difficult to determine just where the enemy is as he advances. This is especially true during limited visibility conditions. OPs must be placed well forward of the crest for early warning and long-range observation.
- Moving out of the position under pressure may be more difficult.
- Fields of fire are normally short. Grazing fire may be less than 600 meters.
- Obstacles on the forward slope can only be covered with indirect fire or by units on the flanks-unless some weapons are initially placed forward.
- If the enemy gets to the crest, he can assault down the hill. This may give him a psychological advantage.
- If enough OPs are not put out or if they are not put in the right positions, the enemy may suddenly appear at close range without enough warning.
(3) The forward platoons are from 200 to 500 meters from the crest of the hills where they can have the best fields of fire and still have the advantages of the reverse slope.
(4) If it places them in supporting distance, the overmatching platoon is positioned on the forward slope of the next high ground to the rear (counterslope). Tasks assigned to the overmatching platoon include--
- Protect the flanks and rear of the forward positions.
- Reinforce the fires of the forward elements.
- Block penetrations of the forward positions.
- Cover the withdrawal of forward units.
(5) Platoon leaders plan indirect fire FPFs on or short of the crest of the hill to deny that area to the enemy and to help breakup his assault as he crosses the crest.
(6) Platoons position OPs on, or just forward of the crest to watch the enfire platoon sector of fire. The OPs can vary in size from two soldiers to a squad reinforced with machine guns and antiarmor weapons.
(7) Leaders place obstacles below the crest of the hill on the friendly side. Tied in with an FPF, this can be effective in stopping or slowing an assault.
(8) The conduct of the defense from a reverse slope is the same as from a forward slope. However, the OPs forward of the position not only warn of the enemy's advance but also delay, deceive, and disorganize him by fire. OPs withdraw before they become engaged by the enemy. If machine guns are with the OPs, they withdraw first so they can occupy their primary fighting positions before the enemy reaches the crest. As the OPs withdraw, indirect fire is placed on the forward slope and on the crest of the hill to slow the enemy's advance. Soldiers in primary positions hold their fire until the enemy crosses the crest. As the enemy moves over the crest of the hill, the defenders hit him with all available fire.
(9) When the enemy assaults across the crest and is defeated, he will try to turn, bypass, or envelop the defense. To counter this, the overwatch element orients its fires to the flanks of the forward slope. Also, the defense must have appropriate supplementary positions and obstacles, as well as security elements, to warn if the enemy tries to envelop or bypass the position. Against armored, motorized, or road-bound attack, cornmanders and leaders should position antiarmor weapons and machine guns so their primary sectors are to the flanks of the reverse slope.
c. Perimeter Defense. The major advantage of the perimeter defense (Figure 1-2) is the preparedness of the platoon to defend against an attack from any direction. The main disadvantage is that combat power is not concentrated at first against an enemy avenue of approach. A perimeter defense differs from other defenses in that--
- The trace of the platoon is circular or triangular rather than linear.
- Unoccupied areas between squads are smaller.
- The flanks of the squads are bent back to conform to the plan.
- The bulk of combat power is on the perimeter.
- The reserve is centrally located.
d. Defense in Sector. Defense in sector maximizes the combat abilities of the infantry. It allows the platoon to fight throughout the depth of the sector using dispersed small-unit tactics.
(1) The platoon is usually assigned a sector within the company sector (Figure 1-3). The platoon leader may in turn assign sectors to individual squads to permit maximum freedom of action for the squad to defend. The platoon leader must remember that the squad has no way to call for fire support other than through the platoon net. FOs may be attached, or as a minimum leaders must be prepared to assist in calls for supporting fires.
(2) Each squad conducts detailed reconnaissance of its sector and identifies all likely enemy avenues of approach, choke points, kill zones, obstacles, patrol bases, and cache sites. They also identify all tentative positions.
(3) The platoon leader confirms the selected tentative sites and incorporates them into his concept (Figure 1-4). He designates initial positions and the sequence in which successive positions are to be occupied. He gives each squad specific guidance concerning contingency plans, rally points, and other coordinating instructions.
(4) Squads then prepare the defense in the sequence designated by the platoon leader. They initially prepare the primary position and then a hasty supplementary position, and then they select the alternate position. Squads improve the positions as time permits.
(5) When Security warns of approaching enemy, the squad occupies its primary positions and prepares to engage the enemy. As the enemy moves into the choke point or kill zone, the squad initiates an ambush. It engages the enemy targets only as long as squads do not become decisively engaged. Squads then move to their next position and repeat the same process. The leader must plan the disengagement Supporting positions, the use of smoke, and rehearsals are key to effective disengagements. Depending on METT-T factors, the enfire battle may be fought this way. Some variations of this technique include the following:
(a) Allowing the enemy to exhaust himself reacting to numerous ambushes, then conduct a violent counterattack along previously rehearsed routes to complete the destruction of the enemy. The platoon leader can do (his by retaining direct control over a large portion of the platoon and committing it at the decisive moment. An alternative is to use prearranged signals to consolidate the platoon at a rally point; then to conduct the counterattack.
(b) Having the forward ambush teams hold their fire until the lead elements of the enemy formation hit another ambush deeper in the sector. Then ambush the the next enemy element as it passes through the kill zone. This technique destroys the cohesion of the enemy and is especially effective if the ambush eliminates the command group of the enemy unit.
(c) Planning indirect fires to cause more enemy casualties at ambush sites along a well-defined route.
(6) Casualty evacuation and resupply of ammunition and water are particularly difficult when defending this way.
e. Mutually Supporting Battle Positions. Platoons and squads use this technique to concentrate firepower into a given engagement area. This technique prevents the attacker from focusing on the enfire defensive scheme.
(1) Leaders must ensure that the position is organized in depth, that all likely avenues of approach are covered by fire, and that all positions have interlocking fires. Each position must be supported by another position that can deliver fires into the flank or rear of the enemy attacking it. Leaders must include obstacles in the fire plan to slow and stop the enemy in the engagement area--to include extensive use of mines. Squads patrol forward of the BP to provide security. They harass the enemy to disorganize and confuse him as to the location of the main defenses.
NOTE: Fighting positions are not located on likely avenues of approach.
(2) The positioning of squads, organization of the engagement area, and fire control measures are critical to the success of this technique. Leaders position their squads in relation to the avenue of approach. Platoon leaders use essential control measures to mass fires against the enemy within their sectors.
(3) Variations of this technique include--
- Opening fire at the some time and withdrawing on command.
- Opening fire one element at a time. As the enemy orients on each element firing at them and begins to maneuver against it, other elements open fire and the original clement withdraws once it is no longer receiving enemy fire. It either moves to a new position or to a rally point.
- Maneuvering to prevent the enemy from withdrawing or reinforcing.
- Designating more than one engagement area. Leaders use supplementary and on-order positions and secondary sectors of fire to mass fire into engagement areas as required.
f. Control Measures. Leaders use control measures to assign responsibilities, coordinate fires and maneuver, control combat operations, and clarify their concept of the operation. Additionally, control measures ensure the distribution of fires throughout the platoon's area of responsibility and the initial positioning and subsequent maneuver of squads.
(1) Graphic control measures used in the defense include sectors, battle positions, boundaries, contact points, coordination points, forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), strongpoints, target reference points (TRP), assembly areas, phase lines, passage points and lanes, release points, and engagement areas. FM 101-5-1 discusses these control measures in detail and provides examples of their use.
(2) Fire commands and control measures for individual and key weapons also constitute a type of control measure available to leaders. Weapons control measures include range cards, sectors of fire, principle direction of fire, final protective line, final protective fires, and target reference points. Most of these appear on the range card. Chapter 2 describes the requirements for weapons range cards and provides examples. In addition, antiarmor gunners, machine gun teams, fire teams, squads, and platoons can be given engagement priorities and fire commands.
g. Obstacles. Obstacles give strenght to a defense when properly employed. Platoons and squads incorporate existing and reinforcing obstacles into their defense and construct other obstacles systems with mines and wire.
(1) Considerations. Leaders must integrate their obstacle plans with direct and indirect fire plans and with their scheme of maneuver. Platoons and squads always cover obstacles by fire and observation. They protect obstacles with antipersonnel mines, trip flares, and warning devices. They camouflage wire or hide it in natural terrain features. Chapter 2 discusses the techniques of obstacle employment most common to infantry platoons and squads.
(2) Classification. Wire obstacles have three classifications based on their use and location. Priority for emplacement normally goes to tactical wire. Additionally, leaders can organize their obstacles so that one obstacle can serve both tactical and protective functions.
(a) Tactical. Platoons site tactical wire parallel to and along the friendly side of the FPLs of their major weapons. Tactical wire holds the enemy where he can be killed or wounded by automatic rifle fire, Claymores, hand grenades, and machine gun fire.
(b) Protective. Squads locate protective wire to prevent surprise assaults from points close to the defense area. It normally lies just outside of hand-grenade range and well within both day and night observation.
(c) Supplementary. Platoons and squads use supplementary wire to disguise the exact line of tactical wire and to give continuity to the company obstacle plan.
Security includes any measure taken by platoons and squads against actions that may reduce their effectiveness. It involves avoiding detection by the enemy or deceiving the enemy about friendly positions and intentions. It also includes finding the enemy and knowing as much about his positions and intentions as possible. Security allows units to retain freedom of action and is an important part of maintaining the initiative. The requirement for security is an inherent part of all platoon operations. Platoons and squads secure themselves when they move, attack, and defend. As part of a larger formation, they may undertake security operations that involve patrolling; establishing squad-sized OPs on a screen line; or executing advance, flank, or rear guard missions for the main body in a movement to contact.
a. Security During Movement. Platoons and squads enhance security during movement by--
- Using the proper movement formation and technique.
- Moving as fast as the situation will allow. This may degrade the enemy's ability to detect the platoon or squad and the effectiveness of his fires once detected.
- Moving along terrain that offers cover and concealment.
- Enforcing noise and light discipline.
- Using proper camouflage techniques.
b. Security in the Offense. Security in the offense includes reconnaissance and security missions to locate the enemy and protect friendly forces from surprise while leaving them free to deploy when contact is made with the enemy. All platoons and squads are responsible for their own local security. They may also be given specific reconnaissance and security tasks as part of the company or battalion plan. Platoons and squads conduct patrols, establish OPs, and move using appropriate movement formations and techniques to accomplish both reconnaissance and security tasks.
c. Security in the Defense. In the defense, platoons and squads use both active and passive measures to enhance security. Platoons also add to their security by actions taken to deny enemy reconnaissance elements accurate information on friendly positions. This includes the destruction of enemy reconnaissance elements and the use of deception measures.
(1) Active measures include--
- The use of OPs and patrols.
- The establishment of specific levels of alert within the platoon. The level can be adjusted based on the METT-T situation.
- Establishment of stand-to times. The platoon's SOP should detail the platoon's activities for stand-to.
(2) Passive measures include camouflage; movement control; noise and light discipline; proper radiotelephone procedures; and ground sensors, night vision devices, and antiarmor weapons' day and nightsights.
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