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



Purpose 							5-13
Influenceof the mission on territorial organization 		5-14
Assignments of troops to areas 					5-15
Size and limits of areas 					5-16

5-13. Purpose.--a. In all warfare, territorial organization is necessary to facilitate the performance of strategical, tactical, and administrative functions by allocating appropriate tasks to various units.

b. Nearly all independent states include internal territorial subdivisions that are utilized to facilitate the execution of numerous governmental functions. In many cases the limits of these subdivisions were predetermined by the necessities of government. Usually one or more of the following factors have fixed the geographical limits of the internal territorial subdivisions of a country:

  • Density of population.
  • Routes of communication.
  • Economic conditions.
  • Geographic features.
  • Racial extraction.
  • Military requirements.
c . The larger subdivisions of a country, regardless of name (Department, Province, State, etc.,) are usually the political, electoral, administrative, judicial, and military districts of the country.

5-14. Influence of the mission on territorial organization.--a. The mission of the intervening force will usually come under one of the following headings:

(1) Restoration of law and order (either by furnishing aid to the recognized government or by establishing a temporary military government).
(2) Supervision of elections.
(3) Establishment o f neutral zones.

b. If the mission is to aid the local government in restoring law and order , or to establish military government until a new government is organized and functioning, it is advisable to recognize the political subdivisions of the country. When the military situation requires that an arbitrary division of the country into areas be made, easily recognized topographical features should be used as boundary lines. In areas of military activity, boundaries should not split a locality Such as dense forests and rugged terrain, that favors hostile operations, but should include such features in a single command area when practicable.

c. In supervising elections, political subdivisions should be recognizewd and followed in the assignment of personnel.

d. Neutral zones are generally as 1imited as the accomplishment of the mission will permit. Thus the boundaries of such zones will often be arbitrary and at other times will follow some distinctive terrain feature.

5-15. Assignment of troops to areas.--a. Major territorial divisions, such as areas, should have complete tactical and administrative control within their limits subject to such coordinating instructions as are issued by higher authority. This necessitates the assignment of sufficient executive nnd special staff personnel to enable the unit to perform all of its functions efficiently. Thus the assignment of a regiment, independent battalion, or other tactical and administrative unit to an appropriate area is advantageous. Small tactical units must have the necessary administrative staff assigned to them. b. Large areas are usually subdivided for the reasons stated in Paragraph 5-13. Such minor divisions are usually called departments, districts, or subdistricts, depending on the size and importnace of the area. Command and staff approrpiate to the task are allocated to these subdivisions.

5-16.Size and limits of areas.--a. It is not necessary that areas be equal in military strength, population, or extent, but for reasons of organization and command previously discussed, more or less similarity in these features is desirable. Some of the considerations that should be borne in mind when defining the size and limits of specific areas are:

(1) Available troops in the theater.
(2) Location and strength of hostile force(s).
(3) Present boundaries of subdivisions of the country.
(4) Political affiliations of the inhabitants.
(5) Geographic-topographic features.
(6) supply.
(7) Communication.
(8) Transportation.
(9) Distribution of population.
(10) Economic conditions.

The more important of these are discussed in order in the subparagraphs below.

b. In considering the troops available, it will usually be found that a considerable number are required for garrisoning areas where unrest exists, and for the protection of bases, lines of communication and the like. Often this duty can be utilized as rest periods for troops that have been engaged in active operations. A decision as to the strength of forces required in various localities will determine the location of the administrative and tactical units of the Force. This in turn should be considered in determining the size of military areas.

c. If active opposition is localized, it may be desirable to form an area of the turbulent zone in order to centralize the command so far as combat activities are concerned. The nature of the opposition has considerable influence on the composition of the force assigned to an area. A large area with varied terrain and considerable resistance to overcome might have a force of all arms for the task. This force, in turn, may have a section particularly adapted to the operation of a particular arm (mounted units, mechanized unit, or special river patrol), in which case the particular arm, if available, might well compose a district garrison.

d. Other considerations being equal, retention of existing boundaries when defining the limits of command areas is desirable for several reasons, among which are:

(1) Political, judicial, and administrative functions (insofar as the civil population is concerned) are better coordinated.
(2) The routine of the people is less disturbed; thus better information and less antagonism mayresult.
(3) Often such boundaries coincide with those dictated by strategy and tactics.

e. When political or other antagonisms among the inhabitants contribute materially to the difficulties of the situation, formerly established subdivisions may be divided or combined in a manner best calculated to accomplish the desired end. In cases where a step-by-step occupation of the country is necessary, territorial organization may conform to the geographical features which control the successive objecttives.

f. Each area should have its own base(s) of supply. A landing field should be in each area. If the supply channels of one area pass through another area, positive steps must be taken by the supreme commander to insure that the flow of supplies to the far area is uninterrupted. It is highly desirable that areas have transversal as well as longitudinal lines of communication. Ordinarily an undeveloped section with poor roads or trails that might serve as a hideout or stronghold for irregulars should be incorporated in a command area in such a way that the commander controls the routes thereto.

g. Consideration of the existing wire communication installations is of importance when defining the limits of an area. Area commanders should not be forced to rely on radio and airplane communications alone, if there are other means of communication available.

h. In countries which are not well developed, maps are not usually up to the normal standard as to variety or accuracy. When defining areas, the use of a particular map designated as "official" by all units facilitates coordination and partly eliminates the confusion as to names of localities, distances, boundaries, and other matters that result from the use of erroneous maps of different origin.

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