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Helicopter, Armor, Mechanized Infantry,
And Combat Support Operations

Section I. GENERAL

In the jungle, infantry battalions are the heart of both the offense and the defense. These battalions are normally supported by a mixture of helicopter, armor, artillery, air defense, engineer, and other units.

This chapter outlines those techniques which are most effective in supporting infantry engaged in jungle operations.

Section II. Helicopters


The helicopter is a combat system that is unaffected by the poor trafficability of jungle areas. As a result, it has become a vital part of US jungle operations. US forces have used helicopters in the jungle successfully for heliborne fire, reconnaissance, air assault, command and control, resupply, and medical evacuation. This section will discuss heliborne fire, reconnaissance, air assault, and command control in the jungle. For resupply and medical evacuation, see chapter 7.

In all of these operations, bad weather and enemy air defense are major considerations in the jungle as they would be anywhere else.



  I. General

 II. Helicopters

III. Armor Operations in the Jungle

IV. Mechanized Infantry

 V. Combat Support

Heliborne fire is provided by the attack helicopter unit.

The attack helicopter unit performs three basic missions:

  • Overwatch and security
  • Engagement of targets located by ground elements
  • Independent target engagements

Attack helicopters in an overwatch and security role protect other assets, such as other helicopters or convoys. Attack helicopters in the heliborne fire role can augment the fires of units fighting on the ground. In jungle operations, they maybe the only additional means of fire available. Finally, attack helicopters may acquire and engage targets independent of any other operations.


Although the Cobra, AH 1S, armed with the TOW, has become the standard US attack helicopter, the nature of the typical jungle enemy and the terrain make the 2.75-inch rocket (HE) a more useful weapon against known point positions. The 2.75-inch rocket, 7.62-mm "Flechette" minigun and 40-mm grenade launcher, also on the attack helicopter, are extremely effective against dismounted troops.


The most important consideration when using attack helicopters to augment the fire of ground troops is communications. Both radio and visual communications means must be established and maintained. Radio communications are used to pass target information from the ground commander to the helicopter. Visual communications are used to mark the location of friendly troops. Common daytime signals are a smoke grenade, a panel, and a mirror. A flashlight, a strobe light, and a chemical light stick are effective for signaling at night.


While the helicopters are en route to the target area, a member of the attack helicopter team will contact the ground commander over the radio. At this time, the ground commander must transmit target handoff information.


Reconnaissance missions are normally given to air cavalry. Air cavalry troops and squadrons are equipped with attack helicopters, scout helicopters, and utility helicopters. The air cavalry troop is organized with a troop headquarters, aeroscout platoon, aeroweapons platoon, aeroreconnaissance platoon, and service platoon. The troop is task organized for specific reconnaissance missions.

The aeroscouts use terrain flying while looking for signs of the enemy. Attack helicopters from the aeroweapons platoon support them and engage targets as they are acquired. If a thickly vegetated area cannot be reconnoitered from the air, the aeroreconnaissance platoon can be inserted on the ground by the utility helicopters.


This employment of air cavalry is effective in the jungle. The information gathered can be rapidly processed into intelligence. This in turn can be used to plan timely commitment of troops into the area.

Airmobile operations in the jungle are the most rapid means of concentrating combat power at a critical time and place on the ground. The doctrine for airmobile operations is found in FM 90-4, and it is generally applicable to jungle operations.

Special considerations in jungle operations include:

  • Utility helicopters will not be able to lift the same size loads that they can in more temperate areas. Sometimes this may result in as few as 5 soldiers per sortie for UH-1H and 19 soldiers for UH-60.
  • Radio and visual communications between ground and air are vital to insure proper coordination. The thick jungle foliage will often make this more difficult than in other types of terrain.
  • There may be few suitable landing zones (LZ). Most landing zones will be only large enough to support one or two helicopters at a time.
  • Units may have to be resupplied totally by air.

One of the most common uses of the helicopter in jungle operations is command and control. Command and control (C& C) helicopters are specially outfitted with radios which allow communications with elements on the ground, supporting artillery, and other aircraft. These helicopters also have seats in them arranged so that commanders, S3s, and fire support coordinators (FSCOORD) can talk to each other and perform their respective functions. Such helicopters are normally available to command groups down to and including infantry battalion level.

To use the C&C helicopter effectively, a commander should exploit its unique capabilities:

  • The helicopter's speed enables a commander to influence the action in widely separated areas.
  • The helicopter's powerful radios and flight altitude permit the commander to communicate more effectively and reliably than he could on the ground.
  • The unrestricted observation from the air allows the commander to see the terrain better, adjust fires more accurately, and control attack helicopters more effectively than he could on the ground.
  • When used for a commander's reconnaissance, the C&C helicopter is a significant help in planning operations. Likewise, a battalion commander who takes his company commanders in the C&C helicopter to issue an operation order (OPORD) can use the terrain below as a reference--like a readymade sandtable.

The C&C helicopter can be one of the jungle commander's greatest assets. It can also be abused. The keys to its effective use are a few common sense considerations.

The helicopter cannot become a substitute for command presence on the ground. (A commander cannot merely fly over a unit and be satisfied that he knows its situation. The view from the air often gives a distorted picture of conditions on the ground.)

The helicopter should not interfere with ground operations. (If a unit has to devote time to cutting an LZ every day for a visit from the commander, it will get little else done.)

The helicopter must not violate a ground unit's security. (A helicopter hovering overhead soon reveals the location of a unit on the ground. )

The helicopter must not intrude on a ground unit's internal radio nets. (The helicopter's radios are more powerful, and will interfere with the ground commander's ability to control his own unit.)

The helicopter is vulnerable to ground fire. (Although the nature of the air defense threat will be different in every conflict, no commander can expect to survive if he maintains a stationary position anytime in the vicinity of ground contact or orbits at high altitudes. The helicopter is extremely vulnerable to small-arms fire and heat-seeking missiles.)


Up to this point, this chapter has covered infantry tactics in the jungle. Armor may also play a role on the jungle battlefield. Because the tank's mobility is greatly restricted on jungle terrain, its role is different in the jungle than that on more open terrain. Instead of rapid envelopments and deep penetrations, tanks primarily provide fire support for infantry in jungle fighting.

Tanks can perform the following missions in the jungle:

  • Support attacking infantry. In the meeting engagement, they move to the point of contact to provide direct fire support.
  • Provide heavy fire support in the defense and conduct counterattacks.
  • Support infantry in retrograde operations.
  • Secure convoys and protect lines of communications and key facilities.
  • Attack or defend against enemy armor.



In the movement to contact, infantry will normally lead, supported by tanks from overwatch positions whenever the terrain permits. Terrain and vegetation will dictate distances between the forces, but the tanks should be close enough to the infantry to be able to move forward quickly to provide immediate fire support.

In a meeting engagement or attack, once the infantry makes contact, tanks move to positions from which they can support the infantry.

Tanks can fire their machineguns and main guns using high explosive antitank (HEAT) and antipersonnel rounds to destroy or suppress the enemy, clear jungle foliage, and destroy fortified positions.

Should the enemy have armor, the tanks can more effectively attack the enemy armor than can the TOW or Dragon antitank guided missile because the tank gun can better fire through the jungle foliage.

When terrain permits, infantry can fix the enemy, while tanks create a penetration to split the enemy defense. The tanks and infantry can then destroy the severed forces.


Tanks are used in the jungle defense as they are used in any other environment. They add greatly to close defensive firepower and serve as a mobile counterattack force.

In the position defense, tanks should be positioned to:

  • Block possible armor or motorized penetrations
  • Move quickly to fill gaps in the defense
  • Provide antiarmor fire

Tanks in the jungle defense are vulnerable to infiltrators; consequently, all-round security and close coordination with infantry are essential.

Hurricane fencing should be erected as a screen in the defensive position to provide stand-off against enemy use of rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and antitank guided missiles (ATGM).


Tanks can support retrograde operations in much the same way as in the defense. Contrary to general practice, in jungle retrograde operations tanks will often disengage first, covered by the infantry.



Vegetation. Densely forested areas, where tree trunks are close and heavy above-ground root systems exist, may make movement difficult. Thick stands of bamboo may slow or even stop tanks.

Topography. Many jungles exist in rugged mountainous areas which will impede tanks. Swamps, coastal river basins, and other areas intersected by waterways pose obstacles to tanks because of their soft soil and frequent deep channels.

Weather. Rainy seasons (monsoons) cause rivers and streams to rise and become unfordable. Heavy rains may also cause damage to roads.


All of these factors limit but do not exclude the use of tanks.

A commander can overcome those limitations by using these techniques:

  • Know the terrain. Know where tanks can travel. Avoid areas which are obviously impassable.
  • Know the weather. What were recent conditions? What is expected? What effect will these conditions have on the use of tanks?
  • Move dismounted infantry in front of tanks on unfamiliar and heavily vegetated terrain. They can check and verify conditions, act as guides, and provide security.


Jungle conditions vary greatly from place to place and season to season.

Here are some movement tips which apply to most jungle areas:

  • Red silt soils tend to break down quickly when wet. They may support a single tracked vehicle but may become untrafficable with heavy use.
  • Inundated areas containing yellowish reeds and cloudy water usually have bottoms too soft to support tanks.
  • Rice fields, in the dry season, are usually trafficable to tanks and personnel carriers. During the rainy season, they may be untrafficable. Fields with standing water in the wet season may have a bottom too soft to move on; those containing clear water and green vegetation usually are on firm ground and are trafficable. One technique for determining if rice fields are trafficable is "poling." Using this technique, troops precede tanks across the field they are to cross, sinking poles (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, with flat ends) into the ground. If the poles cannot be sunk, the field is usually firm enough to cross.
  • River and stream bottoms usually are untrafficable. The armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) can span 17 meters (57 feet) and is more than adequate for most stream crossing. Care must be taken to insure that the shoulders of the banks can support the AVLB while tanks cross. When the AVLB is not avilable, perforated steel planks can be used to provide a firm surface on which tanks can ford small streams.



Mechanized infantry units are able to provide a commander fighting in a jungle environment a greater flexibility than that afforded by nonmechanized infantry. Mechanized infantry may be employed as a mounted force, a dismounted force, or airmobile infantry.


As mechanized infantry may be used in different ways, the precise mission it is assigned must be weighed against its strengths and weaknesses in a jungle environment.

Disposition of M113 APC when troops are dismounted. When employing mechanized infantry as an airmobile force or as dismounted infantry, consideration must be given to the disposition of the M113 APCs. It is usually advisable for a driver to remain with each vehicle. In addition, some infantrymen may have to provide security for the carriers and thus will not be able to fight with the dismounted element.


The offensive operations that mechanized infantry units are most likely to conduct in a jungle environment are movement to contact and reconnaissance-in-force.

A movement to contact is used to gain or regain contact with the enemy, and to develop a situation. It serves as the first stage of operations against an enemy force which has not been located, and normally ends in a meeting engagement.

A reconnaissance-in-force is employed to force the enemy to react so that friendly elements can develop information about the enemy by discovering his location, disposition, and intent. It is used when other means of gaining information about the enemy are not available.

Hasty and deliberate attacks are conducted in much the same manner as they are in conventional terrain. The techniques, however, may differ due to the jungle environment, especially the strict application of control measures in controlling maneuver elements in the thick jungle vegetation. Also, an attack will normally be conducted on a more narrow front due to limited visibility.


Hasty and deliberate attacks are conducted in much the same manner as they are in conventional terrain. The techniques, however, may differ due to the jungle environment.

When moving in the jungle, either cross-country or along roads, it is best to move in multiple columns as broad a front as possible. The lead elements should be preceded by an aerial route reconnaissance. Indirect fire support must be closely coordinated and instantly available, as contact is often violent and without warning. TACAIR and attack helicopters provide another responsive means to react to enemy contact.


When in contact or contact is anticipated the troops dismount and fight on foot. The caliber .50 machinegun on the APC can provide fire support maneuvering elements.


Movement in the jungle carries with it the prospect of ambush at any time. Reconnaissance by fire is a technique that can be used to decrease this danger. In this technique, lead elements engage suspected or likely enemy locations with automatic weapons as the unit moves. The enemy is then made to move or return fire. When considering a reconnaissance by fire, the commander should realize that it uses a lot of ammunition and reveals his location to the enemy. Reconnaissance by fire is not an excuse for indiscriminate fire by individuals.


Mounted movement to contact in the jungle is characterized by deliberate use of traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch. The overwatch positions will be closer than in other areas, due to the vegetation and terrain. Contact with the enemy will usually be made at close range (within 200 meters); therefore, automatic weapons should be kept well forward. Frontal, flank, and rear security may be established mounted, but more often should be provided by dismounted elements. The security elements should be rotated frequently to prevent fatigue.


When conducting a reconnaissance-in-force, a mechanized infantry unit may have lead elements conduct a mounted movement to contact. At likely ambush sites along the route, however, these elements must dismount and patrol. These patrols are normally conducted by a platoon's maneuver element. The earner teams, usually with two men in each, should overwatch the maneuver element. They can be called forward when required.


Deliberate attacks in the jungle are usually conducted dismounted, with M113s supporting the attacking elements. Care must be exercised to insure that the maneuvering infantry does not mask the supporting fires during the assault. The assault can be preceded by artillery preparation and use of close air support.


Mechanized infantry units are a formidable force when defending. The most common types of defensive operations they might participate in are forming a defensive perimeter, establishing a strongpoint, or taking part in a position defense.


Defensive perimeters may be established at any time but are normally used during periods of limited visibility to increase the security of the force and to allow time for maintenance and rest. The perimeter is a hasty defense technique. It is usually only a temporary arrangement and is moved frequently. A perimeter is not oriented against a particular enemy force, but takes advantage of terrain to obtain the greatest security possible.

Establishment of a Perimeter. An M113 leaves a track that is difficult to hide and easy to follow. Therefore, a mechanized infantry perimeter is difficult to conceal. Consideration should be given to the placement of ambushes along the back track path leading into the perimeter. The perimeter is very similar to that used by dismounted infantry but it is adjusted to accommodate the tracked vehicles. It is best to have a quartering party precede the unit but this may not be possible in all cases. A unit SOP should be the basis for specifying the establishment of a defensive perimeter. M113s may be used to clear fields of fire where they are capable of doing so. (An APC is capable of clearing considerable brush in a short period ot time. ) The M113s are then parked in a circle, wagon train style, facing out. Individual fighting positions are prepared in front of the parked vehicles. Dismounted observation posts (OP) and ambush patrols are sent out. These elements may use Claymore mines and early warning devices. The caliber .50 machineguns may be dismounted or remain on the M113s but are manned at all times. When the soldiers are allowed to sleep, they should be in or close to fighting positions in order to be near overhead protection. Ramps should normally be raised, with access to the M113 through the troop door, in order to provide protection to the crew from indirect fire.

Defense of a Perimeter. An enemy ground attack against a perimeter defense maybe by a surprise assault or be preceded by preparatory fires. The unit should continually have all the automatic weapons manned and ready to fire, but care must be taken to insure patrols and OPs are back within the perimeter before machinegun FPLs are fired. M113s should not be moved during a night attack on a defensive position, except under emergency conditions, due to the danger of injuring prone friendly troops.


A strongpoint is a defensive position which is fortified as extensively as time and materials permit. It is normally located on a terrain feature critical to the defense. Individual fighting positions should be prepared with overhead cover. The M113s should be placed in hull defilade positions, which are formed by natural terrain features or dug by a bulldozer. Each position should be deep enough to protect the vehicle. The caliber .50 machinegun may be dismounted or remain on the vehicle. If it remains on the vehicle, the position should allow the caliber .50 machinegun to attain grazing fire. If materials are on hand and time is available, a chain link fence may be emplaced 10 to 15 meters in front of each M113 position to cause premature detonation of antitank rounds. Each squad's position and OP should be linked with the platoon leader in a telephone hot-loop, with radio used as an alternate means of communication.


Each M113 can carry a large amount of equipment. The mechanized unit should take advantage of this by habitually carrying equipment to aid in preparing defensive positions.

This equipment may include:

  • Concertina and barbed wire
  • Engineer stakes
  • Pierced steel planking
  • Sandbags
  • Chain saws
  • Pioneer tools
  • Hurricane fencing (RPG/ATGM screen)
  • Night vision devices

M60 machineguns should be dismounted wherever possible and placed in prepared positions. The caliber .50 machinegun may be used either mounted or dismounted. It should be dismounted when the terrain prevents the gunner from getting a suitable mounted firing position. During mounted movement, the caliber .50 machinegun should be manned by the track commander and the M60 machinegun manned in the cargo hatch. (See FM 7-7.)


When operating in the jungle, mechanized infantry units may be given missions which they would not normally perform in other types of terrain. Such missions require special planning and coordination before and during the conduct of the mission.


These operations are conducted when a route has been closed or unused. They are usually conducted so that supply activities may occur, but should not be confused with convoy escort operations, which require different tactics and techniques. Route security and clearance operations are oriented on a specific route and the surrounding areas, to insure that vehicular operations are not interrupted along that route.

Route clearance operations are conducted to eliminate the enemy along the road and to remove any explosives which may have been placed there. Whenever possible, route clearance is a combined arms effort involving as a minimum the use of armor, infantry, engineers, artillery, and Army aviation. Route clearance involves deliberate, detailed, and coordinated actions which are slow. The route must often be walked by mine-sweep teams, and the areas adjoining the route must be cleared by dismounted infantry. During route clearance operations, the mechanized infantry elements normally provide security forces for the combat engineer mine-sweep teams. The infantry is also used to clear the areas on either side of the road.

Route security missions are characterized by continuous activity to prevent the enemy from cutting the route or ambushing elements using it.

Patrolling is the key to route security, day and night. Patrols should be dispatched so there is no pattern. Patrols are usually squad-sized and are assigned specific areas of responsibility. They may at times move mounted but dismount where appropriate. These areas of responsibility should extend to 1 kilometer each side of a route, for the mission is to prevent enemy mining or ambushes. A reserve force should be centrally located to be able to react in any direction.

Bridges or large culverts along roads are prime locations for enemy demolitions and ambushes. They must be kept clear and intact. A good way to do this is to ambush near them at night, and patrol from them during the day. Night observation devices should be used in ambush operations.


Coordination must take place before and during a convoy movement. Each patrol must know the time of entry and time of exit of each convoy, the numbers and types of vehicles, and whether the convoy has an armed escort. Just prior to the convoy's approach, the security patrols intensify patrolling the areas immediately next to the road, and assume security positions along the known or suspected enemy avenues of approach. The convoy commander should have each patrol leader's callsign and frequency, and notify him when he is entering and leaving the area.

The elimination of the enemy is the responsibility of the unit through which the convoy is passing. If the convoy makes contact with the enemy, it should get out of the contact area as quickly as possible. The convoy commander will call the appropriate patrol leader or area commander and inform him of the contact. It is the area commander's responsibility to relieve the convoy, reinforce friendly elements, and coordinate indirect fire or air support. The convoy, or its escort, fires on ambush locations until they can get out of the kill zone.

Convoy Escort. The purpose of a mechanized infantry convoy escort is to move with and secure a convoy. The convoy commander establishes the route, checkpoints, fire coordination, and communications. He supervises rehearsal of actions on contact. He also identifies critical loads in the convoy and priorities for cross-loading. The convoy commander and escort should operate on a common radio frequency. Cross-loading spreads critical cargo in more than one vehicle. Convoys can use aerial reconnaissance aircraft as a part of the escort.

The mechanized infantry in their M113s and tanks, if available, both lead and follow the convoy. Wherever possible, the M113s will travel in pairs. If tanks are present, they normally lead the M113s. Communications among all convoy elements are essential. The convoy will travel according to the rate of the slowest vehicle.

The suppression and elimination of hostile fire is the responsibility of the escort commander. His first priority is to preserve the convoy and its contents. Upon being engaged by the enemy, the convoy will speed up to get out of the kill zone. Accompanying mechanized infantry and armor will assault by fire first, and maneuver as necessary. Any activity other than in the immediate area must be coordinated with the commander in whose area the ambush occurs, particularly if indirect fires or pursuit becomes necessary.


Tanks and mechanized infantry are often restricted by jungle terrain, but where they can be employed, they complement each other well. For this reason, mechanized infantry and armored units are often teamed. The two most common uses of tank-infantry teams in the jungle are for movements to contact and for convoy escorts.

Each must know how the other operates and the characteristics of all weapons systems. The tankers must always know where dismounted infantrymen are and the infantry must protect the tanks from close-in enemy attack.


Mechanized infantry's primary advantage is its ability to move rapidly as compared to nonmechanized infantry. This often will be curtailed by jungle terrain. Every effort must be made to prevent M113s from becoming stuck or sustaining mechanical malfunctions that render them inoperative. The two most common occurrences are throwing a track and getting stuck in mud. The easiest way to prevent either is to precede each M 113 with a ground guide.

If an M113 becomes stuck, the primary recovery vehicle is the M578 vehicle track retriever (VTR). One is assigned to each company. It is equipped with a crane and boom, chains, and various other equipment, and it is usually located in the company trains. It should be escorted to and from a recovery site as it is not a combat vehicle. Every effort should be made to recover vehicles by using another M113 before the M578 is used, unless an M578 is immediately available. The M578 should be moved only when needed because it has less trafficability than the M113, weighs more, and is wider, which make movement in the jungle difficult for the M578.

Thrown Tracks. An M113 usually throws a track when the track is broken or detached from the drive sprockets. Repair time depends on a number of variables but usually varies from 45 minutes to 4 hours. The best preventive for thrown tracks is maintenance and good driving techniques. These involve keeping the track in good repair and under proper tension, the drive sprockets turned or changed, and supervising the drivers.

Mired M113s. Despite the M113s ability to move over most terrain, getting stuck in mud is not uncommon, especially when operating near rice fields or in areas of high rainfall. In these circumstances, ground guides are of little help. Infantry squads must develop expertise in expedient recovery methods. Each M113 should carry tow cables and also chains. Since M578s will not always be available, the squad must know how to recover the vehicle without VTR support. In such instances, other M113s pulling in tandem may be necessary. A tank is even better because it is much heavier than an M113, is more powerful, and generally has greater traction, except in mud.


Load plans are designed to standardize loading of equipment and supplies and evacuation of priority items if the M113 is rendered inoperable. The plans further serve to standardize operations within a unit. Load planning requires a reverse sequence--that is, items that are used infrequently and are less critical to the mission than others are loaded first. Items that are used on a daily basis and are essential to mission accomplishment must be readily available. When planning loads, consideration must also be given to maintenance. For example, radios should be easy to get to, and the engine compartment should not be blocked. The load plan diagram should also establish a numerical or alphabetical priority of equipment and supplies.



The rifle company's mortar section's mission is to provide close and continuous indirect fire support to the company. Where trafficable road networks are available, the mortar section can displace to perform its missions while mounted. It may, however, have problems in the jungle environment due to a limited number of suitable firing positions, as a result of heavy rains and restricted overhead clearance. The use of chain saws and demolitions may be necessary to obtain mask and overhead clearance. It also may be possible to fire from positions on or near roads and trails.

When the company operates in terrain where vehicles cannot go, several difficulties surface. Moving a dismounted mortar section in rugged jungle terrain with all of its weapons components and ammunition is difficult. The infantry platoon can be tasked to assist; however, this will severely hamper their ability to maneuver. If the mortar fire is absolutely essential to the company's scheme of maneuver, then consideration should be given to the employment of only one mortar. Also, consideration should be given to the displacement of mortars by helicopter.

Ideally, the rifle platoons will operate within range of the mortars. Resupply is provided by vehicle or helicopter. If the company is operating within range of a 4 .2-inch mortar platoon or an artillery battery, then consideration may be given to using the mortar section as infantry. This will allow the company more operating flexibility and considerably lighten the soldier's fighting load.


The mission of the field artillery is to provide close and continuous indirect fire support; destroy, neutralize, or suppress the enemy indirect fire; and coordinate all supporting fires. A jungle environment poses unique challenges to both maneuver and field artillery commanders by restricting movement, observation, fields of fire, communications, and target acquisition.

Jungle battles are characterized by limited visibility and close combat. The preponderance of fire support is employed danger-close, and must be carefully coordinated with supporting fire direction centers (FDC) and adjacent maneuver units. Adjustment is frequently conducted using creeping techniques and sometimes by sound.

The following factors must be considered when employing field artillery in a jungle environment.


Heavy vegetation degrades the effects of all types of munitions. More firepower or alternative fuze action is normally required to achieve effective results.

The following guidance is offered when requesting or selecting shell-fuze combinations:

  • Proximity (VT) fuzed rounds lose much of their effect in tree canopies or other thickly vegetated areas by exploding above or high in the treetops.
  • Delay fuzes give better effects in heavy vegetation.
  • Time fuzed rounds also tend to lose some effect, in the jungle by exploding in tree canopies, due to the fuze impact function. Time fuzes, however, can be extremely effective when used for close, defensive fires (300 to 900 meters) with high-explosive (HE) munitions.
  • Superquick fuzing is useful in open, lightly vegetated, or secondary growth areas. Rounds may explode too soon in high, thick tree canopies, and like time fuzes, lose most of the shell's effect. In low canopy jungles, however, airbursts can increase casualty-causing effects. As the tree canopy is thinned out by bursting munitions, a switch to VT or time fuze may be required if airbursts are the desired method of attack. Also, superquick fuzes should not be used in muddy or water covered terrain, such as swamps or paddies. The effects of superquick fuzed HE ammunition will be sharply reduced as blast and shell fragments will be directed upward.
  • Delay fuze can penetrate thick canopies. The fuze triggers in the treetops, and detonates the round in the air at a lower level. However, when used against troops in inundated areas or areas with soft, boggy soil conditions and no canopy to trigger the fuze overhead, delay rounds will bury themselves in the ground, losing their antipersonnel effect.
  • Improved conventional munitions (ICM) should not be used in thick foliage and water-filled rice paddies. The ICM submunitions may hang up in heavy foliage or fall undetonated to the ground, creating a hazardous area, or they may submerge in water, rendering them ineffective. Appropriately fuzed HE rounds should be substituted for ICM, as necessary.

Rearward protection for individual fighting positions must be provided when manning a perimeter around an artillery unit (105-mm) which has beehive ammunition. Infantrymen must also be advised of the signals for firing antipersonnel (beehive) munitions and periodically see a demonstration of effects to insure understanding and compliance.

The heat and humidity of tropical areas speeds the deterioration of all types of ammunition. Further, ammunition packing materials and subcomponents are also subject to more rapid deterioration and require protection.

This protection should include:

  • Adequate shelter and ventilation for ammunition.
  • Rotating stocks. The first-in should be the first fired.


Ground observation is limited, and aerial observation may be more advantageous. All available air assets, proficient in observed fire procedures, to include USAF, should be used when priorities and level of risk/advantage are favorable. Limited visibility might also make it difficult for ground observers to locate themselves and other friendly units. Determining location by one of the indirect fire means may be necessary. Marking rounds may be fired. In severe cases adjustment is possible by sound.


Positioning of artillery pieces may pose problems due to soft soil, lack of overhead clearance, and piece masking by trees and terrain. When operating in unfamiliar areas, the battery commander's reconnaissance is important. Construction of prefabricated firing platforms, in accordance with FM 5-15, may be necessary when operating in lowlying areas or near bodies of water. In an area where no suitable firing positions are known to exist, an engineer representative should accompany the battery reconnaissance party. The engineer can provide invaluable expertise when a firing position must be carved out of the jungle or selected on poor terrain.


The mobility of field artillery units may be impaired by bad weather, lack of roads, or poor terrain trafficability conditions. If roads are used for movement, proper preparations must be made. Roadsides may lack adequate room for firing positions during road movements. Road movement requires ground security forces, supporting artillery, and helicopter or USAF cover to maintain clear routes and provide protection and fire support. If roads are too restrictive, artillery units must be well trained in airmobile operations as this may become their primary mode of transportation in a jungle environment. Engineer support may be required to clear and maintain roads and to prepare adequate LZs.


Line-of-sight limitations severely hamper survey operations. Target area survey may be virtually impossible. Radar, celestial observation, simultaneous observation, hasty survey, and observed firing charts should be used to help offset the probable lack of survey. Firing positions should receive the highest priority in survey planning.


Radio relays and elevated antennas are often required to overcome line-of-sight communications restrictions. Cross-country wire can be laid by helicopter, but specially trained and equipped crews are required.


Jungle battles are normally very decentralized, but fire support planning and coordination must be centralized.

Since movement is difficult, fire support may be restricted by the inability to quickly move mortars or artillery so that they can provide continuous coverage. Advance planning and continuous situation monitoring are necessary to avoid such difficulties.

Observed fires are coordinated routinely. Unobserved fires require particular attention to protect friendly units because of the observer's difficulty in accurately locating himself and targets. All indirect fires must be coordinated by fire support officers at all levels. Fire support officers must constantly monitor the location of supported maneuver units to be capable of providing rapid clearance when required.


When the enemy situation is vague or significant enemy guerrilla activity is present, artillery units can be collocated with or provided security by elements of an infantry battalion. Additional security is needed because of the artillery's limited capability for self-defense in the face of a determined enemy attack. The artillery unit's capabilities will also enhance the maneuver unit's defense. When the infantry unit provides security, this permits the battery to fulfill its primary mission of fire support.

The star formation of howitzers is optimal for all-round defensive coverage. However, due to terrain restrictions, a lazy W or variation thereof may be utilized.

Additional security in the form of fire support must be planned for and provided by adjacent artillery and mortar units. This additional fire support should be planned on and around unit positions with both HE and illumination. Once in position, the battery's howitzers, FDC, and TOC form an inner perimeter; the infantry occupies the outer perimeter. Each howitzer will be assigned a sector for direct fire. Each howitzer section chief will make a range card. It will include data necessary to engage targets within his assigned sector.

Each howitzer should have beehive (105-mm only) and/or HE, with point detonating and time fuzes allocated for battery defense. Battery defense can be improved by collocating one 81-mm mortar with the battery. The mortar can provide close-in illumination and close indirect fire (within 70 meters of its own position). As soon as possible, howitzer positions should be parapeted, vital installations dug in, and fighting and sleeping positions prepared.


In order to provide artillery coverage to separated maneuver elements, the battery may have to operate in a split battery or in platoon configurations. If split, the firing elements should be located within maximum range so that both elements can mass fires on the most important targets. Each firing position should be laid out so that each gun can support another gun's position with direct fire, and so located that other artillery units can provide supporting indirect defensive fires. If firing positions are too widely separated, mutual support and the massing of fires will not be possible. Fractional battery operations have a major disadvantage of reducing the number of battery personnel who can be used for battery defense. Augmentation with at least an infantry platoon at each location becomes essential. Separated firing elements should be collocated with a maneuver battalion's defensive position. The battery commander will probably go where the greatest threat exists or with the larger part of the battery. The executive officer will command the other elements of the battery. The communications assets of the battery will be distributed so that each element can monitor and transmit on at least two frequencies. For sustained fractional battery operations, the FDC section must be augmented with additional personnel. This can be done when battery personnel are cross-trained. Split techniques should be avoided where possible as they violate the critical principle of mass and result in drastic reductions in effectiveness.


If it is anticipated that a battery will be in one position for an extended period of time, the position should be hardened to offer protection from direct and indirect fire. In order to prepare the position, adequate materials must be provided, and the battery commander must work closely with the engineers and the maneuver unit commander. If possible, a position should be selected near a usable road to facilitate the movement of heavy engineer equipment, supplies, and ammunition to the position. However, if the strongpoint is accessible only by air, the time needed to construct the strongpoint will be greatly increased. The initial construction efforts will be directed toward the construction of a defensible tactical position by nightfall of the first day.

The following must be completed first:

  • Fighting positions with overhead cover
  • Howitzer positions with parapets and overhead cover for ammunition
  • Tactical wire emplaced and Claymore mines positioned
  • FDC and TOC positions dug in with overhead cover
  • Range cards and defense plans made

The firing unit should occupy the position in a formation which provides 6400-mil coverage and optimal battery defense. As the perimeter is expanded, any vegetation which presents site-to-crest problems must be cleared. As soon as the perimeter has been improved, construction efforts are centered on the howitzers. Howitzer positions are reinforced with trail logs, erosion control, powder pits, and revetment of the inside and top of the parapet, using logs or ammunition boxes and sandbags. Sandbags alone can be used to parapet the howitzer, in which case, 1,500 to 2,000 sandbags for each parapet are needed.

Larger caliber weapons will require special assistance from supporting engineers.


Naval gunfire, along with close air support, is employed in amphibious operations prior to the landing of artillery units. After maneuver and artillery elements are established ashore, US Navy ships can provide reinforcing artillery support in jungle areas near the coast. Destroyers or smaller inshore fire support ships may be able to provide support along large jungle rivers.

When a unit is conducting operations within range of naval gunfire, a naval gunfire liaison officer will normally be located in the nearest fire support coordination center. He will arrange for ground and aerial observers for the maneuver units. If these are not available, forward observers can adjust the ship's fires. The call-for-fire and adjustment procedures for naval gunfire are basically the same as for artillery support. (See FM 6-40 for details.)

NOTE: Naval gunfire provides low trajectory ordnance. This might be a problem in heavily forested jungle areas because the projectile may strike tall trees, detonating prematurely over friendly troops.


The roles of TACAIR forces are the same in the jungle as elsewhere. In the jungle, where contacts are often unplanned, these aircraft offer another source of responsive combat support. Heavily armed fighter-bombers may be able to engage targets closer to friendly troops than can artillery.


Airborne forward air controllers (FAC) are more effective than ground FACs in densely vegetated areas because they have a broader view of the battlefield. The airborne FAC usually can see the target area better for controlling aerial delivery of munitions. All means must be used to mark friendly and enemy locations--smoke, mirrors, and panels. Fires already being delivered can also be used to mark targets. As is true with other aerial systems, the air defense threat is a primary consideration when using airborne FACs.


The munitions used vary with the type vegetation and terrain. Unfinned napalm and cluster bomb units may lose much of their effect if they detonate in the thick canopy of primary jungle. Finned napalm, on the other hand, is more stable and accurate and may be used as close as 160 meters to friendly troops in more open areas. The "hard bombs" range in size from 250 to 3,000 pounds and can be used in primary jungle. The FAC will advise danger-close distances. Another weapon, the 20-mm cannon, can be brought in as close as 25 meters from troops under cover or 200 meters from exposed troops.


The A-10 aircraft is particularly well suited to operate in the jungle. It flies slow enough so that the pilot can see his targets. It can also remain in the area for a long time. The A-10 can employ any of the Air Force's close air support munitions, and is fitted with the 30-mm cannon, which is especially well suited for ground support. Safety considerations for the 30-mm cannon are the same as for the 20-mm cannon.

When requesting TACAIR, the requester should specify the type terrain and vegetation it will be targeted on. This will help the Air Force decide what type of ordnance and fuzing to employ.


Jungles normally provide good concealment from the air. This may reduce air defense requirements. Thickly vegetated areas increase the effectiveness of passive air defense measures, such as camouflage and dispersion. Exposed areas, such as clearings, roads, or river crossings, and facilities where troops tend to concentrate, such as supply points and headquarters, will require air defense artillery (ADA) protection.

The jungle affects ADA mobility, maintenance, and communications in the same way as it affects other combat support resources. In addition, target acquisition is more difficult, and radars are less effective. ADA gunners may not be able to see enemy aircraft until they fly over their position. Reaction times will be short, and many engagements will take place after crossover.


The jungle concealment afforded to maneuver forces decreases the likelihood that enemy air will attack them. Thus, it is more likely that air attacks will be directed against base complexes, airfields, and logistical facilities. These areas will normally receive first priority for air defense in jungle operations.


Hawk battalions will normally be assigned general support missions for the defense of critical assets, such as base complexes, airfields, port facilities, and lines of communications. As much as possible. Hawk coverage will be extended over the areas in which maneuver forces are operating. To guard against attack by an infiltrating enemy, Hawk elements may be located within base complexes. While this reduces the security problems, it may sacrifice some of the Hawk's early engagement capability. Radars may have to be mounted on towers or berms to be effective.


Chaparral/Vulcan battalions in the jungle can be used in a similar manner to Hawk battalions. In addition, Vulcans can be used to protect convoys from both air and ground attack. Chaparrals may be prepositioned to protect traffic at critical points. When used in this manner, Chaparral/Vulcan units in the jungle are normally attached to the maneuver units they support. Chaparral/Vulcan positions which afford 360-degree coverage and long-range fields-of-fire will be hard to find. Chaparral/Vulcan units may have to clear trees and shrubs to have adequate firing positions.


Redeye and Stinger will cover maneuver units when they are crossing open areas, such as rice paddies or rivers. Redeye and Stinger gunners will also find it hard to find positions which offer 360-degree coverage and long-range fields of fire, and may also have to clear trees and shrubs for adequate firing positions. These positions should only be occupied long enough to fire because they are easily detected from the air. Redeyes and Stingers defending convoys on jungle roads should be positioned within and move with the convoys. Redeyes and Stingers in jungle operations are normally attached to the units they support.


Engineers "open up" the jungle. Road building and repair; installation, port, and airfield building; and river crossing operations are continuous tasks for the engineers.

Like most other type supporting units, engineers do their jobs much the same in the jungle as anywhere else. But, also like other type units, they have special considerations to deal with.


Road construction in the jungle is usually affected by (1) poor drainage and heavy rainfall, and (2) poor subgrade foundation.

These problems can be dealt with by:

  • Avoiding low ground for road construction
  • Laying long sections of pontoon bridging, corduroy, or chespaling road through low swampy ground
  • making roads wider, which thins the overhead foliage, so the sun can get through to dry them out
  • Using subgrade materials to support heavy traffic (See TM 5-330 for details.)


Construction of LZs, helipads, and airstrips in remote areas are also important engineer tasks in the jungle. To accomplish these tasks, engineers are inserted into the area to be cleared. Using demolitions and tools, they make an initial clearance of trees and underbrush. For large jobs, follow-on engineers with heavy equipment are brought in to finish the work.

Another problem is protecting the surface of these sites from erosion in the rainy season, and protecting aircraft from dust in the dry season. Steel matting, T17 membrane (a tough rubberized fabric), or Peneprime (oil surfacing) are all materials which will keep the dust down on jungle LZs.


Engineers support the infantry in the jungle primarily by clearing the way for the movement of friendly forces (mobility) while impeding the movement of the enemy (countermobility). Both of these types of support enhance the third area of engineer support--survivability.

Some specific ways engineers can help in all three areas are:

  • Mobility. Improving or building lines of communications and helping move troops and supplies across barriers--particularly water obstacles.
  • Countermobility. Creating obstacles to support the defense; removing them to assist in the offense.
  • Survivability. Constructing strongpoints and assisting in the construction of other defensive positions.

It is also essential that the infantry support the engineers. Engineers are extremely vulnerable during construction activities and need infantry protection to do their jobs.


The infantry battalion has its own direct and indirect fire support, reconnaissance/security, and communications section. Their effective employment is critical to the commander's ability to mass his combat power against the enemy. All of the battalion's combat support elements except the communications platoon are assigned to the combat support company.

The combat support company commander has a unique role in that he:

  • Is a special staff officer, making recommendations on the employment of his elements to the battalion commander
  • Retains command responsibility for the platoons and sections of the company even though he normally loses operational control in a tactical environment (He still supports them logistically and administratively unless the platoons or sections are attached to a rifle company. )
  • May become the battalion combat base commander (See battalion combat base, chapter 5.)
  • May be used as a maneuver element commander

The battalion commander must determine how to use the combat support company elements through a thorough examination of the battalion's mission and the combat support company's state of training. Only then can he select the appropriate role for the combat support company commander and his unit.

If and when the combat support company commander becomes a maneuver element commander, the commander of headquarters and headquarters company must assume the responsibility of commanding the combat base. In addition, soldiers must be taken from the least essential jobs in the battalion trains to replace the combat support company soldiers. Normally, the scout platoon, the antitank platoon, and the battalion reserve element would be formed into a maneuver element.


The mission of the scout platoon is to perform reconnaissance, provide limited security, and assist in controlling the battalion's movement. The scout platoon is normally employed as a unit under battalion control. However, under certain conditions it may be attached to another unit or operate as a separate element with an area of operations of its own. Generally, under all three of these conditions, it is the primary mission of the scout platoon to find the enemy. In a jungle environment it normally performs route, zone, and area reconnaissance. The scout platoon has a limited capability to conduct security operations, to provide early warning of enemy maneuver, and to deny the enemy information concerning the battalion disposition and movements. The primary security mission for the scout platoon is the screen. A screen is a series of OPs from which enemy movement can be observed. When vegetation allows good observation, OPs are located on high ground and patrols are only used for local security around the OP. When observation ranges are very short, the OPs may have to be moved to the lower areas. Patrols between OPs are required to detect enemy movement. The distances between OPs may be extremely long so they must be alert for signs of enemy infiltration.


The primary mission of the antitank is to destroy enemy tanks. Its secondary missions are to engage other vehicles, crew-served weapons, fortified positions, and other point-type targets. Against an enemy with no tanks, or in terrain which does not permit the use of long-range antitank weapons, the antitank platoon may be used as a rifle platoon.

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