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U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)


Section I
Character and Purpose of Small Wars Training


Relation to other training		4-1
Tactical raining			4-2
Rifle company				4-3
Machine gun company			4-4
Mortars and 37 mm. guns			4-5
Troop schools				4-6

4-1. Relation to other training.--a. Training for small wars missions is carried on simultaneously with training for naval operations overseas and training for major warfare on land. Training for naval overseas operations and major warfare on land is often applicable, in many of its phases, to small wars operations. Training that is associated particularly with small wars operations is of value in the execution of guerilla operations of the fringes of the principal front in major warfare.

b. In small wars, the nornRmal separation of units, both in garrison as well as in the field, requires that all military qualities be well developed in both the individual and the unit. Particular attention should be paid to the development of initiative, adaptability, leadership, teamwork, and tactical proficiency of individuals composing the various units. These qualities, while important in no small degree in major Warfare, are exceedingly important in small wars operations.

c. Training for small wars operations places particular emphasis upon the following subjects:

(1) Composition, armament, and equipment of infantry patrols.
(2) Formations and tactics of infantry patrols.
(3) Mounted detachments.
(4) Transportation of wounded.
(5) Planned schemes of maneuver when enemy is encountered by patrols.
(6) Security on the march.
(7) Security during halts and in camp.
(8) Organization of the ground for all-around defense.
(9) Night operations, both offensive and defensive.
(10) Employment of weapons.
(11) Messing. To include the feeding of troops on the trail and in small groups in garrison.
(12) Laying ambushes.
(13) Attacking a house.
(14) Street fighting.
(15) Riot duty.
(16) Defense of garrisons.
(17) Surprise attacks on enemy encampments.
(18) Stratagems and ruses.
(19) Scouting and patrolling, including tracking.
(20) Combat practice firing.
(21) Sketching and aerial photograph map reading.
(22) Marching, with particular attention paid to marching over rough, wooded trails, both dirt and rocky, under varied weather conditions. Trail cutting through dense underbrush and conservation of drinking water to be included.
(23) Bivouacs and camps.
(24) Sanitation, first aid, and hygiene. <>(25) Handling of small boats on inland waterways.
(26) Air-ground liaison.
(27) Training of officers as aviation observers.
(28) Rules of land warfare.

4-2. Tactical training.-The current training manuals describe the combat principles for the various arms and are the basis of tactical instruction for units preparing for or participating in a small war. These combat principles may be supplemented or modified to conform with the requirements of anticipated or existing conditions. The usual enemy tactics encountered in small wars are those associated with the ambush of patrols and convoys, river fighting, and surprise attacks against garrisons and towns. These operations are described in chapters V to X, inclusive.

4-3. Rifle company.-a. The rifle company and its subdivisions are often called upon to perform independent mission. Such missions include the establishment of small garrisons in isolated communities and at strategic points along lines of communication and supply, patrol operations coordinated With the operations of aviation and other patrol units, and independent operations that may carry the rifle company and its subdivisions beyond supporting distance of their bases or friendly patrol units. Training for small wars operations, therefore, must be conducted with a view to the probable assignment of the rifle company and its subdivisions to independent missions. In the larger patrols, the patrol leader will usually find it impracticable, if not impossible, to direct the actions of each subdivision of his patrol during action against the enemy. In such cases, the leaders of the several subdivisions of the patrol must control their units in such manner as will best promote the known plan of the patrol leader. Upon contact with the enemy in the field, there will often be no opportunity for the leaders of the several subdivisions of the patrol to consult with and receive orders from the patrol leader prior to committing their units to action. They must know, in advance, his plan of action in case contact is made with the enemy and must be prepared to act independently without the slightest hesitation. In the training of patrols, the independent control of subdivisions should always be stressed.

b. The principal weapon of the combat organizations is the rifle. The man so armed must have complete confidence in his ability to hit battlefield targets and must be thoroughly imbued with the "spirit of the bayonet"-- the desire to close with the enemy in personal combat and destroy him. The fact that small wars operations may be conducted in localities where the terrain and vegetation will often prevent engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat does not remove the necessity for training in the use of the bayonet. It is only through such training that each individual of the combat team is imbued with the "will to win." Every man attached to a combat organization must be trained in the use of the rifle grenade and hand grenade, both of which are important weapons in small wars operations, The rifleman should be given a course of trnining in the other infantry weapons in order that he may know their employment and functioning. Machine guns, mortars, and 37 mm. guns may, at times, be issued the infantry company to augment the fire power of its rifles. Since additional trained personnel will often not be available to man the added weapons it becomes the duty of the infantry company to organize squads for the operation of such weapons.

c. The rifle is an extremely accurate shoulder weapon. In the hands of an expert rifle shot (sniper) it is the most important weapon of the combat units. Other infantry weapons cannot replace the rifle. The rifle is exceedingly effective in the type of fire fight connected with small wars operations. A course in sniper firing is of great value in the development of individuals as snipers. Such a course may be readily improvised by placing vegetation before the line of targets on any rifle range or by using growing vegetation, provided its location makes the method practicable. Silhouette targets are showm for several seconds at irregular intervals and at different locations within the vegetation by the manipulation of ropes or wires from a pit or other shelter in the vicinity of the targets. This type of training develops fast, accurate shooters.

d. While the development of expert individual rifle shots is highly desirable, it is even more important that combat units receive a course of training in the application of musketry principles to the conditions of combat ordinarily encountered in small wars operations. Whenever facilities are available, the training program should devote considerable time to combat range firing. Every phase of actual combat should be included in this training. To make the practice realistic will require much ingenuity and skillful planning but there is no other method of training that will develop effective combat teams. Combat practice firing presents the nearest approach to actual battle conditions that is encountered in the whole scheme of military training. Exercises should be so designed that leaders are required to make an estimate of the situation, arrive at a decision, issue orders to put the decision into effect, and actually supervise the execution of orders they may issue. The degree of skill and teamwork of the unit is shown by the manner in which the orders of the leaders are executed. The conservation of ammunition should be stressed in all combat practices.

4-4. Machine gun company.- The machine gun company is organized as a unit for administrative purposes to effect uniformity in instruction, and to promote efficiency in training. During active operations in the field, however, it will often be found necessary to assign platoons, sections, or even single guns to either permanent or temporary duty with garrisons, patrols, or other units. In some cases it may be necessary to arm the personnel as riflement to augment the number of men available for patrol duty. Machine-gun personnel are, therefore, given the course of training with the rifle as outlined in paragraph 43, c and d.

4-5. Mortars and 37 mm. guns.-a. These weapons are employed to augment the fire power of other weapons. They are of particular value in the organization of the defensive fires of small garrisons. Because of their bulk and the difficulty of effective employment in heavy vegetation, they are not normally carried by small, highly mobile patrols in the field. In an attack on an organized position, the need for both weapons is apparent.

b. The 37 mm. gun is employed against definitely located automatic weapons and for the destruction of light field works. It delivers fire from a masked position by use of the quadrant light. When time is an important element, direct laying is used or fire may be conducted from a masked position having sight defilade only. Since its tactical employment in small wars does not vary from its normal use in major warfare, there is no need for special training applicable only to small war situations situations.

c. The ability of the mortar to fire from well-concealed positions against targets on reverse slopes and under cover makes it a valuable weapon for small wars operations. Because of its mobility it will often be used as a substitute for light artillery. It can be used against targets that can not be reached by other infantry weapons. No special training is required for small wars operations.

4-6. Troop schools.-a. The troop school is an important agency of the unit commander for the training of his own personnel to meet the requirements of the training program. Troop schools may take any form that produces effective results, including informal conferences or lectures, demonstrations, sand table or squad room instructions, as well as the formal organized school with its stall of instructors, a definite course, and fixed periods of instruction.

b. The object of the troop school is to train personnel for combat and to coordinate such training. It insures uniformity in the training of the entire command. Certain technical subjects, in which a comparatively small number of men from each orgization are to be qualified, can frequently be taught more economically and thoroughly in classes or schools conducted by a higher eclhelon.

c. Instruction in centralized classes, whether they be company classes or those of a higher unit, does not relieve the subordinate commander from further training of troops under his command. It is his duty and responsibility to so organize his unit that each individual is placed where he may contribute most to the efficient working of the combat team. Thus, a scout may receieve instruction in scouting and patrolling in a centralized class, returning to his organization upon the completion of the course. Upon his return his training is continued under his squad leader and officers of his own unit in order that the unit may gain the advantage of the training he has received while attending the centralized class for scouts.

d. A course in a troop school is plannned with one of the two following objectives:

(1) A course conducted for the purpose of developing instructors in a particular subject. As a rule, these classes are conducted by the battalion or higher ecehlon. Graduates of such classes are particularly valuable as instructors in newly organized units.
(2) A course conducted for the purpose of teaching troops the mechanics and technique of their work and equipment. It does not concern itself with the development of qualified instructors. As a rule, these classes will be conducted by companies, the course being somewhat shorter than the course designed for developing instructors.

e. The group method of instruction may be used in the training of any group, regardless of its size or organization. It provides careful systematic instruction under the direct supervision of an instructor, and centralizes control within the group for the purpose of teaching the mechanics of any subject. The group method of instruction is preferable for introductory training and is especially adapted to instruction in basic military subjects. It consists of five distinct steps, as follows:

(1) Explanation of the subject or action by the instructor.
(2) Demonstration of the subject or action by the instructor and assistants.
(3) Imitation (application) by all undergoing instruction.
(4) Explanation and demonstration of common errors by the instructor and his assistants.
(5) Correction of errors by the instructor and his assistants.

Instruction should be clear and precise. Every error made by the student during the applicator step should be corrected immediately in order to prevent the formation of faulty habits and wrong inlpressions. It is often easier to instruct a new recruit than to change the faulty habits of a man who has been longer in the service.

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