UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


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

Chapter VI. Infantry Patrols


SECTION	I.    Small War Tactics				6-1 to 6-5
	II.   Orders and General Instructions		6-6 to 6-8		
	III.  Organizing the Infantry Patrol		6-9 to 6-30
	IV.   Feeding the Personnel			6-31 to 6-37
	V.    The March					6-38 to 6-56
	VI.   Reconnaissance and Security		6-57 to 6-68
	VII.  Laying Ambushes				6-69 to 6-74
	VIII. Attacking Ambushes			6-75 to 6-79
	IX.   Attacking Houses and Small Bivouacs	6-80 to 6-82
	X.    Stratgems and Ruses			6-83 to 6-87
	XI.   River Crossings				6-88 to 6-97
	XII.  Special Operations			6-98 to 6-99

Small War Tactics

Tactics during initial phases					6-1
Tactics during later phases					6-2	
Influence of terrain						6-3	
The principle of the offensive					6-4	
The principles of mass, movement, surprise, and security	6-5

6-1. Tactics during initial phases.-During the initial phases of intervention, when the landing and movement inland may be opposed by comparatively large, well led, organized, and equipped hostile fores, the tactics employed are generally those of a force of similar strength and composition engaged in major warfare. If a crushing defeat can be inflicted upon those forces, the immediate cessation of armed opposition may result. This is seldom achieved.Usually the hostile forces will withdraw as a body into the more remote parts of the country, or will be dispersed into numerous small groups which continue to oppose the occupation. Even though the recognized leaders may capitulate, subordinate commanders often refuse to abide by the terms of capitulation. Escaping to the hinterland, they assemble heterogeneous armed groups of patriotic soldiers, malcontents, notorious outlaws, and impressed civilians, and, by means of guerrilla warfare, continue to harass and oppose the intervening force in its attempt to restore peace and good order throughout the country as a whole.

6-2. Tactics during later phase.-To combat such action, the intervening force must resort to typical small war operations, with numerous infantry patrols and outposts dispersed over a wide area, in order to afford the maximum protection to the peaceful inhabitants of the country and to seek out and destroy the hostile groups. The tactics of such infantry patrols are basically the military methods, principles, and doctrines of minor tactics, as prescribed in the manuals pertaining to the combat principles of the units concerned. The majority of contacts in small wars is in the nature of ambushes, or surprise-meeting engagements, in which the various subdivisions of a small patrol may be brought almost simultaneously under the opening hostile fire. This prevents the normal development and deployment of the command for combat. In larger patrols, however, most of the main body may escape the initial burst of fire and consequently may be developed and deployed for combat from the march column in an orthodox manner.

6-3. Influence of terrain.-The tactics employed by patrols in combat over open terrain are, in general, the same as those in open warfare operations in a major war. Since open terrain is more advantageous to regular troops than to irregulars, the latter usually try to avoid combat under these conditions. AS a result, infantry patrols engaged in the later phases of small wars operations generally must, cope with the military problems encountered in combat in mountainous, wooded terrain, with the attendant limited visibility and lack of centralized control. These tactics are analogous to those prescribed in training manuals for combat in wooded areas in major warfare.

6-4. The principle of the offensive.-So long as there is an armed opposition to the occupation, the intervening force must maintain the principle of the offensive. If it adopts a defensive attitude by garrisoning only the more important cities and towns without accompanying combat patrols throughout the theater of operations, minor opposition to the force will soon increase to alarming proportions. A guerrilla leader, if unmolested in his activities, creates the impression among the native population that the intervening forces are inferior to him; recruits flock to his standard, and the rapid pacification of the country will be jeopardized. Such hostile groups will seldom openly attack the regular garrisons, but will pillage defenseless towns, molest the peaceful citizenry, and interfere with the systems of supply and communication of the force of occupation. The latter must, therefore, adopt an aggressive attitude in order to seek out, capture, destroy, or disperse the hostile groups and drive them from the country. (See also Section II, Chapter I, "Psychology.")

6-5. The principles of mass, movement, surprise, and security.

a. Mass.- In nearly every engagement, the hostile groups will out-number the infantry patrols opposed to them. This superiority in numbers must be overcome by increased fire power through the proper employment of better armament, superior training and morale, and development of the spirit of the offensive.

b. Movement. -Infantry patrols of the intervening force must develop mobility equal to that of the opposing forces. The guerrilla group's must be continually harassed by patrols working throughout the theater of operation.

c. Surprise. Surprise achieved by varying the route, dates, and hours of departure of combat pntrols, by mobility, and by stratagems and ruses. The intelligence system of the guerrillas decreases in proportion to the mobility and number of patrols employed in the theater of operations.

d. Security.-The tendency of the force to relax its service of security during the later phases of small war operations must be carefully guarded against. Security on the march and at rest must be constantly enforced throughout the entire period of occupation.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list