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

Chapter VI. Infantry Patrols

Section III
Organizing the Infantry Patrol

Definition					6-9
Factors which govern its organization		6-10
Size of the patrol				6-11
Permanent roving patrols			6-12
Selections of units				6-13
Elimination of the physically unfit		6-14
Patrol and subordinate leaders			6-15
The rifle squad					6-16
The headquarters section			6-17
Attached units					6-18
Guides and interpreters				6-19
Native transport personnel			6-20
Native troops					6-21
Prominent native civilians			6-22
Transportation					6-22
Weapons 					6-24
Ammunition					6-25
Signal equipment 				6-26
Medical supplies 				6-27
Miscellaneous equipnlent			6-28
Personal clothing and accessories		6-29
General preparations 				6-30

6-9. Definition. -An infantry patrol is a detachment of infantry troops dispatched from a garrison, camp, or colunm with the mission of visiting designated areas for combat or for other purposes. It is a military unit disposed in such a manner that its various subdivisions are in suitable formations to engage the enemy immediately after contact is made. In general, the infantry patrol in a small war differs from one in a major war in the following respects:

a. It is larger.
b. It is more capable of independent action.
c. It operates at greater distances, in miles and hours of marching, from its base or supporting troops; a distance of 50 miles or more is not uncommon.
d. It conducts its operations for a longer period of time; missions of 10 days or more duration are not unusual.
e. It is often encumbered by a proportionately large combat train.

6-10. Factors which govern its organization.-Some of the factors that govern the size and composition of an infantry patrol in a small war are:

a. Mission.
b. Information of the hostile forces.
c. The probability of combat.
d. Strength and armament of the enemy.
e. Nature of the terrain, with particular reference to its effect on the formation and length of the column, the number of men required on service of security, and the work to be done, such as cutting trails.
f. Proximity of friendly troops.
g. Aviation support, including reconaissanee. liaison, combat support, transportation of supplies and personnel, evacuation of wounded.
h. Personnel available for assignment to the patrol, their efficiency and armament.
i. Native troops available, their efficiency and a armament.
j. Native nonmilitary personnel available, such as guides, interpreters, and transportation personnel.
k. Time and distance involved.
l. Problem of supply.
m. Methods of communicantion.

The above factors are consi(lered in the estimate of the situation which precedes the organization of any patrol.

6-11. Size of the patrol.

a.General.-The patrol should be large enough to defeat any enemy force that it can reasonably expect to encounter in the field. It should be able to assume the defensive and successfully withstand hostile attacks while awaiting reinforcement if it encounters enemy forces of unexpected strength. It is desirable to keep the patrol as small as is consistent with the accomplishment of its mission. The larger the patrol the more difficult its control in combat, the more complicated its supply problems, and the more it sacrifices in the way of concealment and secrecy of movement.

b. Effect of mission-The mission assigned an infantry patrol in a small war, such as reconnaissance, security. liaison, convoy, and combat, is analogous to the corresponding mission in major warfarr, and will effect the strength of the patrol. In some situations it will be desirable to have the patrol sufficiently large to establish a temporary or permanent base in the theater of operations from which it can maintain one or more combat patrols in the field.

c. Effect of terrain.-The nature of the terrain in which the patrol will operate has a marked influence on its size and composition. In fairly open country, with roads available which permit the use of normal distances within the column, a reinforced rifle company or larger organizations can operate with reasonable control and battle efficiency. In mountainous, wooded terrain, where the colunn must march in single file over narrow, winding trails, the reenforced rifle platoon with its combat train has been found to be the largest unit that can be controlled effectively on the march and in combat. It is the basic combat unit in the later phases of small war operations. If, in such terrain, the situation requires a stronger patrol than a reenforced rifle platoon, it is advisable to divide the column into combat groups equivalent to a platoon, marching over the same route and within supporting distance (5 to 15 minutes) of each other. Liaison should be established between the rear leading patrols and head of the following patrol during halts and at prearranged time intervals during the day's march.

6-12. Permanent roving patrols. -It is sometimes desirable to organize a few permanent combat patrols with roving commissions throughout the theater of operations, irrespective of area boundaries or other limitations. These patrols should be as lightly equipped as possible commensurate with their tasks. Authority should, be grantecd them to secure from the nearest outpost or garrison such replacements of personnel, animals, equipment, and rations as may be required. Aviation is normally their main source of supply while. in the field.

6-13. Selection of units.

a. Permanent organizations.-Whenever possible, an infantry patrol should be composed of personnel permanently assigned to organized units, such as a squad, platoon, or company. This applies also to attached machine-gun units or other supporting weapons.

b. Hastily organized patrols.-In the rapidly changing situations encountered in wars, the operations may require the simultaneous movement of more patrols than can be furnished by a single organization. In some instances, two or more units from different posts will be combined into a single patrol for an emergency operation. Other situations will require that supply train escorts and special duty men be relieved and made available for patrol duty. The result of this pressing need for men is the intermingling of personnel from several different organizations, whose individual combat efficiency is unknown to the patrol leaders, or to one another. Although such hastily organized patrols shoulcl be avoided whenever possible, they are often necessary.

6-14. Elimination of the physically unfit.-Men who are physically unfit for duty in the field or whose presence would hinder the operations of a patrol should be eliminated from the organization. They include the following:

a. Those who have been recently ill, and especially those who have recently had malaria, dysentery, jaundice, or a venereal disease.
b. Those suffering from deformities or diseases of the feet, particularly flatfoot, hammertoes, bunions, corns, or severe trichophytosis(athletes foot).
c. The old or fat, or those of obviously poor physique from any cause.
d. The neurotic or mentally unstable; and the alcohol addicts.

6-15. Patrol and subordinate leader.-Officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to the theater of active operations in small wars will generally command smaller elements than those assigned to them in major warfare, for the following reasons:

(1) A patrol on an independent mission is usually far removed from the direction and control of more experienced superiors.
(2) The suddenness with which action may break, and the necessity for rapid and practical employment of all the small elements in the patrol. An officer or experienced noncommissioned officer should be with each small group to facilitate its control during combat. This is especially true in wooded terrain where the limited visibility and short battle ranges usually restrict the patrol leader's control over the situation to his immediate vicinity.
(3) The possible dispersion of the troops in column at the moment of contact, and in the subsequent attack and assault.
(4) The possibility that the troops are not thoroughly trained.
b. Two commissioned officers should accompany every rifle platoon assigned to an independent combat mission. If this cannot be done, the second in command must be an experienced, capable, senior noncommissioned officer who is in addition to the regular complement. This requirement is necessary to insure a continuity of effort in the event the patrol leader becomes a casualty. The normal complement of officers is usually sufficient if the combat patrol consists of two or more rifle platoons combined under one commander.

6-16. The rifle squad.-Wherever possible, the. rifle squad is employed in small wars in the same manner as in major warfare. In many situations in small war operations, however, it will be desirable to divide the squad into two combat teams of four or five men each, one of which is commanded by the corporal, the other by the second in command. Such combat teams can be profitably employed as the point for a combnt patrol in close country, as flank patrols, and foil reconnaissance or other security missions. In thickly wooded terrain, it is often impossible for the corporal to maintain control over the entire squad in combat. Under such conditions, the two combat teams must fight as independent units until the situation or better visibility permits the corporal to regain direction and control of the squad as a whole. Automatic and special weapons within the squad should be equally divided between the combat teams.

0-17. The headquarters section.

a. The headquarters section of a combat patrol, consisting of a rifle platoon or reinforced rifle platoon, must be augmented by certain personnel who are not organically assigned to it. Such personnel includes one or more competent cooks, a medical officer or one or more qualified hospital corpsmen, and a radioman when the patrol is equipped with a portable radio.

b. If the hostile forces are not complying with the "Rules of Land Warfare," the medical personnel should be armed for self-defense.

6-18. Attached units.-In the future, most combat patrols of the strength of a rifle platoon or more, operating in hostile areas, probably will be reenforced by attached supporting weapons. With the adoption of the semi-automatic rifle as the standard infantry arm or as a replacement for the Browning automatic rifle, a light machine gun squad or section and a 60-mm. mortar squad or section would appear to be appropriate units to accompany a rifle platoon assigned a combat mission. These organized units should be attached to the platoon from the headquarters platoon of the rifle company. A combat patrol consisting of a rifle company may require the support of a heavy machine gun section or platoon and an 81-mm. mortar squad or section. These should be attached to the company as intact units from the appropriate organizations of the battalion or regiment. (For further details, see Section III, Chapter II, "organization.")

6-19. Guides and interpreters.

a. Native officials and foreign residents are usually helpful in securing reliable guides and interpreters whenever their employment is necessary. Local inhabitants who have suffered injury from the hostile forces and those having members of their families who have so suffered, often volunteer their services for such duty. The integrity of these men must be tested in the field before they can be considered entirely reliable and trustworthy. In many cases, their employment in any capacity makes them subject to hostile reprisal measures and the intervening force must assume responsibility for their protection.

b. Troops assigned to combat operations should learn the terrain and trails within their sectors, and gain a working knowledge of the local language as quickly as possible so that they may dispense with the employment of native guides and interpreters insofar as the situation permits.

6-20. Native transport personnel.-In most situations, the employment of native porters (carriers), muleteers, or other transport personnel will be required with each combat patrol. For further details, see Chapter III, "Logistics."

6-21. Native troops.

a. When native troops are available, they may be included in the pntrol. In addition to their combat duties, they will, if properly indoctrinated, do much to establish friendly relations between the peaceful inhabitants and the intervening force.

b. Native troops are especially valuable for reconnaissance and security missions. They will notice and correctly interpret those signs which indicate the presence of the enemy much more quickly and surely than will the average member of a foreign force unaccustomed to the country.

c. Work and guard duty must be divided and distributed proportionally between the regular forces and native troops, and friction between the two organizations must be avoided.

6-22. Prominent native civilians. a. It is sometimes advisable to include prominent native civilians or government officials in the patrol. They can do much to explain the mission of the intervening forces in the community, spread the gospel of peace, friendly relations, and cooperation, and counter the propaganda of the enemy. The natives of the community are all potential enemies and many will become actively hostile if they are not convinced of the true objective of the occupation.

b. If political alignments and hatreds are virile in the area, the patrol leader must be very circumspect in the choice of civilians and government officials who accompany the patrol. If the patrol is suspected of political partnership, the problems of pacification may be intensified.

c. Frequently prominent and well-informed civilians will furnish valuable information, provided their identity is not disclosed and they are not required to act as guides or otherwise openly associate themselves with the intervening force. Their wishes should be respected in order to gain their confidence and obtain the information which they possess.

6-23. Transportation.

a. The means and amount of transportation included in an infantry patrol will influence its composition, its mobility, the leugth of time that it can stay away from its base, and its combat efficiency. In general, infantry patrols should carry only the minimum equipment and supplies necessary to accomplish their mission. The more nearly they can approach the hostile forces in this respect, the more efficient they will become in the field. It is a common failing for troops engaged in small war operations to decrease their mobility by transporting too much equipment too many varied, desirable but nonessential supplies.

b.The principal means of transportation employed by infantry patrols include:

(1) All or part of the equipment and suppliescarried on the person.
(2) Native porters.
(3) Riding and pack animals.
(4) Airplanes for evacuation of the wounded and supply by plane drops.
(5) Motor transport.

c. In hot, tropical climates, the personnel should not be required to carry packs if it can be avoicled. The weight of the rations which troops can transport in addition to their equipment will limit the range of a combat patrol unless it can subsist almost entirely off the country. On the other hand, a reconnaissance patrol whose members are inured to the local fare can often accomplish its mission more successfully if it is not encumbered with a train.

d. For further details concerning t ransportatioll, see Chapter III "Logistics,'> and Chapter IX, "Aviation."

6-24. weapons.

a. The weapons carried by an infantry patrol will normally be those organically assigned to the squad, platoon, or company, plus attached units of supporting weapons if the situation indicates the necessity therefor.

b. If the rifle units are completely equipped with the semiautomatic rifle, the inclusion of any full shoulder weapon in each squad is not warranted. If the basic arm in the patrol is the boltaction rifle, the armament of each squad should include two semiautomatic, or two Browning automatic rifles, or one of each. This proportion of automatic shoulder weapons to bolt-action rifles should rarely if ever be exceeded. Ammumtion supply in small wars operations is a difficult problem. Volume of fire can seldom replace accuracy of fire in a small war. The morale of guerrilla forces is little affected by the loss of a particular position, but it is seriously affected by the number of casualties sustained in combat. The majorit y of the personnel in an infantry patrol should be armed, therefore, with weapons that are capable of delivering deliberate, aimed, acurate. fire rather than with weapons whose chief characteristic is the delivery of a great volume of fire. The automntic weapons should be utilized to protect the exposed flanks, or to silence hostile automatic weapons.

c. Whether or not the bayonet is included in the armament of the patrol depends upon the terrain, the nature of the particular operation, the training of the men, and the opinion of the patrol leader. In jungle terrain, the bayonet impedes the movement of the individuals both on the march and when deployed for combat by snagging on vines and the dense underbrush; it is doubtful if it can be used effectively, even in the assault, in such terrain. In fairly open country, the bayonet should be carried and employed as in regular warfare. It is an essential weapon in night attacks. The bayonet is practically useless in the hands of untrained troops who have no confidence in it; it is a very effective weapon in small war operations when employed by troops who have been thoroughly trained in its use.

d. For further details regarding military weapons, see Section 111, Chapter II, "Organization."

6-25. Ammunition..

a. In past small war operations, the average expenditure of small arms ammunition for a single engagement has seldom exceeded 50 rounds for each person in the patrol. There have been a very few instances where the expenditure has slightly exceeded 100 rounds per person. It is believed that the following is a reasonable basis for the quantities of ammunition to be carried for each type of weapon with the infantry patrols assigned a combat mission in small war operations:

(1) On the person-the full capacity of the belt or other carrier issued to the individual.
(2) In fhe combat train- 1/2 unittof fire.

These quantities should be modified as dictated by experience or as indicated by the situation confronting a particular patrol.

b.Emergency replacements of some types of ammunition can be dropped by plane.

c. If the regular ammunition containers are too heavy for the means of transportation in the combat train, the ammunition is repacked and the individual loads made lighter.

d.Cartridge belts and other carriers with the patrol must be in perfect condition to prevent the loss of ammunition.

6-26. Signal equipment.

a. The following equipment must be taken with every patrol:

(1) Airplane panels, Codes, and pick-up equipment.
(2) Pyrotechnics.

b. The following signal equipment should be carried with the patrol when it is available:

(1) Portable radio.
(2) Other special equipment demanded by the situation or the use of which can be foreseen. (See Section III, Chapter II, "Organization.")

6-27. Medical supplies.

a. The patrol leader, in conjunction with the medical personnel, must assure himself of the sufficiency of his meclical equipment and supplies. If charity medical work among the native inhabitants is anticipated, additional supplies must be provided for that purpose.

b. Besides the regular medical kit carried by the hospital corpsman, reserve supplies should be made up into several assorted kits distributed throughout the column.

c. Sufficient ampoules should be carried for chlorination of water for the duration of the patrol. The Lyster bag, if carried, should be carefully inspected for leaks, particularly at the taps, and should be cleaned and dried. Four to six yards of muslin for straining trash from the water should be provided. The bag should be rolled and stowed so that it will not chafe in carrying.

d. A few "sanitubes" should be carried for prophylaxis and for the treatment of certain skin diseases.

e. Several additional first packets, tubes of iodine, and a small roll of adhesive should be carried with patrols to which meclical personnel is not attached.

f. Preparations to carry the wounded must be made before the patrol leaves the garrison. In addition to the methods described in Chnpter 14, "Landing Force Manual" USN, the canvas field cot cover is easily carried and can be quickly converted into a stretcher in the field.

6-28. Miscellaneous equipment.-Such of the following articles as may be necessary should be carried with the patrol:

a. "Native machetes, for cutting trails forage, firewood, fields of fire, and material for bivouac shelters.
b. Matches in waterproof containers flashlights, candles, and a lantern for the mess force.
c. A quantity of hemp rope to assist the patrol in crossing dangerous streams. It can be stretched across the stream and used as a hand hold while crossing, or it can be used in building an improvised raft.
d.Entrenching tools or larger engineeringtools as demanded by the situation.
e. A horse.-shoer's kit> if the number of animals with the patrol makes it advisable.

6-29. Personal clothing and accessories.

a. General. The personal clothing and accessories worn or carried by the patrol must be reduced to the minimum consistent with the length of time the patrol will be absent from its base, and the climte and season of the year. Clothing should be in good condition when the patrol leaves its base. It is better to rely on airplane supply of necessary replacements in the field than to overburden the patrol with too much impediment. Superfluous articles will increase the transportation problems, and decrease the quantities of essential ammunition and rations which can be carried. Personal comfort and appearance must always be of secondary importance as compared with the efficient accomplishment of the assigned mission. Officers should fare not better in these respects than the enlisted men of the organization. The inclusion of officer's bedding rolls, field cots, and similar equipment is unwarranted in patrols operating from a base in the theater of operations.

b. Clothing worn by troops- Shoes should fit properly, be broken in, and in good condition. New shoes, though of the correct size, will usually give trouble on the march. Socks should be clean, free from holes and darns. Flannel shirts, which absorb perspiration, rain, and water freely, and still afford warmth and protection at night, are preferable to cotton khaki shirts even in the tropics. The scarf should not be worn. The value of canvas leggings in the field is questionable. The woolen sock pulled over the bottom of the trouser leg is satisfactory subsitute.

c. Clothing and accessories carried in the pack- The following articles are considered reasonable quantities to be carried in the pack or roll of each individual with a patrol operating in a warm climate:

(1) A shelter-half, poncho, or light native hammock, depending upon the nature of the terrain, the season of the year, and the personal decision of the patrol leader. The shelter-half can be dispensed with if materials are available in the field for the construction of lean-to-shelters. In this case, the poncho is utilized as a cover for the pack or roll. The poncho is primarily useful as protection from the damp ground while sleeping at night. It interferes with movement of an individual if worn on the march, and is a distinct impediment if worn in combat. The hammock has many advantages, but it is bulky and adds considerable weight to the pack or roll. During the rainy season, two of these articles may be desirable. If the shelter-half is carried, the tent pole and pins are included when necessary.
(2) One blanket.
(3) A mosquito net is desirable in malarious countries. It is bulky and quite heavy. Some combat patrols in past operations in tropical countries did not carry the net in the field and did not incur any apparent harmful consequences.
(4) One change of underwear.
(5) At least two pairs of woolen socks; four pairs are recommended, if the patrol is to operate for 2 weeks or longer.
(6) One change of outer clothing
(7) Toliet articles: soap, small bath towel, tooth brush and powder or paste, comb, and mirror. A razor, shaving brush, and shaving soap may be carried, although they are not considered essential items.
(8) Tobacco, as desired.
(9) Toliet paper, a small quantity to be carried by each individual, the remainder with the equipment.

d. Personal cleanliness- A bath should be taken and soiled clothing should be washed as frequently as opportunity affords. Simply soaking clothes in water, wringing them out, and permitting them to dry in the sun, is better than not washing them at all.

6-30. General preparations.-Prior to clearing its base, the patrol leader of an infantry patrol personally verifies or arranges for such of the following as may be pertinent to the particular situation:

a.Aviation; support. -

(1) Liaison, reconnaissance, and combat support.
(2) Regular and emergency supply by plane.


(1) A personal airplane reconnaissance over the area, if practicable.
(2) A map or sketch of the area, including the route or alternate routes to be followed. A rude sketch, however inaccurate, is better than none.
(3) Airplane photographs of villages and important terrain features, such as stream crossings. Possible or former ambush positions, etc., if practicable.
(4) The condition of the roads and trails, the attitude of local inhabitants, and the possible food supply.

c. Inspection of.-

(1) Men; individual, combat, communications, and medical supplies and equipment; and animals, pack, and riding equipment.
(2) Cleaning materials for the weapons, especially oil forautomatic arms.

d. Liaison with.-

(1) Native officials, when desirable.
(2) Native troops, or other persons not of command, who are to accompany the patrol.
(3) Other friendly patrols operating in the area.

e. Employment of. -Native transportation personnel, intelligence agents, guides, and interpreters.

f. Money, in small denominations, for the purchase of supplies, emergency transportation, and information. In some countries, articles such as soap, salt, tobacco, etc. , which are espensive and difficult to obtain locally, are more acceptable to the natives than money.

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