U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)
Chapter VI. Infantry Patrols
Par. General 6-38 Hour of starting 6-39 Rate of march 6-40 Factors influencing march formations 6-41 Influence of terrain on march formation 6-42 Road spaces 6-43 Location of patrol and subordinate leaders in march formation 6-44 Location of the combat train 6-45 Descriptive march formations 6-46 March formations for a reenforced rifle company 6-47 March formations for a reenforced rifle platoon 6-48 March formation for a rifle platoon 6-49 March formation for a rifle squad 6-50 March discipline 6-51 March outposts 6-52 Camp sites 6-53 Making camp 6-54 Bivouac beds 6-55 Shelter 6-56
6-38.General.- The conduct of marches will vary considerabley with the condition of the men, their state of training, the condition of the roads or trails, the climate, the weather, the tactical situation, and various other factors. Whenever it can be avoided, the men should not arrive at their destination in a state of exhaustion.
6-39.Hour of starting.- In small wars, breakfast usually should be served at dawn, animals fed and watered, camp broken, packs assembled and loaded, and the march begun as soon after daylight as possible. The march shoulb begin slowly in order to warm up the men and animals, and to permit packs and equipment ot settle and adjust themselves to both personnel and animals.
6-40.Rate of march.-a. The first halt should be made not later than three-quarters of an hour after the start, and should be of about 15 minutes duration, so that the men can adjust their equipment, check and tighten the pack loads in the train, and attend to the calls of nature.
b. Under normal conditions, troops usually halt 10 minutes every hour after the first halt. This cannot be accepted as doctrine in small wars operations, in which the rate of march is dependent upon the state of training and efficiency within the combat train. The column must be kept closed up at all times. Liaison should be constantly maintained throughout the column by word of mouth. Whenever a pack needs readjustment, or an animal becomes bogged in some mudhole, or any other delay occurs within the column, a halt should be called until the defect is remedied and the patrol ready to move foward as a body. If the regualtion 50 minute march, 10 minute halt schedule is maintained, even a small patrol may become so elongated that several miles will separate the head and tail of the column at the end of the day's march. As the men become trained in such operations, forced halts will become more infrequen and of shorter duration, and the normal march schedule may be achieve. To avoid disaster, however, it is essential that liaison be maintained throughout the entire length of the column at all times, regardless of the frequency of the halts.
c. Under normal conditions, intervals of marching should be modified to take advantage of good halting places, especially those which afford proper security to the column.
6-41Factors influencing the march formations.- The march formation of a patrol in small wars is influenced by the following factors:
(1) The nature of terrain.
(2) The strength, composition, and armament of the patrol.
(3) The size of the combat train.
(4) The necessity for security, observing the principle that security elements should increase proportionately in strength from the point to the main body.
(5) Ability to shift rapidly and automatically from a column to a line formation that will face the enemy, cognizance being taken of the possibility of the enemy being in several different directions.
(6) The necessity for dividing the patrol into small, mutually supporting, maneuver units, each one capable of developing its offensive power independently and immediately at short, battle ranges.
(7) Sufficient distance between elements to enable one or more units in the main body to escape the initial burst of hostile fire, thus assuring some freedom of maneuver.
(8) The distribution of supporting weapons throughout the column to facilitate their entry into action in any direction.
(9) The rapid development of maximum fire power.
(10) The necessity of withholding an initial reserve.
(11) The degree of darkness during night marches.
6-42.Influence of terrain on march formation.-a. Open terrain. In open country, the distribution of the troops in the column, and the distances between the various elements, will be similar to that employed by a force of comparable strength in major warfare.
b. Close terrain.-(1) In the mountanious, heavily wooded terrain in which the majority of small war operations occur, patrols are usually forced to march in a column of files. Underbrush encroaches upon the trails, which are narrow and tortuous, and visibility is often limited in every direction to only a few yards. As a result, the column is greatly elongated, the distances between security elements and the main body are reduced, and th patrol leader can personally see and control only a small portion of his command. (2) There should be sufficient distance between subdivisions in the column to avoid the intermingling of units, to fix in the minds of each individual the maneuver unit to which he is attached, and to subject as few men as possible to the initial bursts of hostile fire delivered at short ranges. The distance between units should be sufficient to enable one or more of them to get free to maneuver, thus creating an opening for the employment fo fire and movement. On the other hand, the various elements in the column must be mutually supporting as too much distance between them may enable an aggressive enemy to defeat the patrol in detail.
6-43.Road spaces.-a. Depending on the prevailing conditions, the distances between men within subdivision of a patrol operating in thickly wooded terrain generally will be about as follows:
Subdivision Distance between men Point 10 to 40 yards Advance party 5 to 20 yards Support 3 to 10 yards Main body 2 to 5 yards Rear guard 2 to 20 yards
b. The distances between the various subdivisions in the column will vary from 10 to 50 yards or more, depending upon the strength of the patrol and the nature of the terrain through which it is marching.
c. The distances given above should never be considered as fixed and immutable. They usually will be changed several times during a day's march on the orders of the patrol and subordinate leaders as required by the nature of the country.
d. The road space for a riding or pack animal is considred to be 5 yards. This includes the man assigned to ride, lead, drive, or guard the animal.
6-44.Location of patrol and subordinate leaders in march formation.-a. Patrol leader- The patrol leader will usually march with or at the head of the main body. This is particularly desirable in the case of large patrols. In small partrols, the leader may have to alternate with a subordinate as commander of the advance guard. The leader of the patrol should not make a practice of marching in the point unless necessity requires it. If he is at the head of the main body, he can always move forward to the point to indicate the route to be followed or to make some other important decision which cannot be assumed by the advance guard commander.
b. Subordinate leaders- Subordinate leaders of all elements in the patrol, except the point, normally march at or near the head of their respective units or subdivisions. The point commander should march near the center of that group so that he may effectively control all of the men in the point. Leaders of the supporting units, such as a machine-gun section or platoon, normally march close to the patrol commander.
6-45.Location of the combat train.- The location of the combat train in the column depends upon several factors. These include the strength of the patrol, the probability of combat, the normal tactics of the enemy, and the size of the train itself. Normally, the combat trains should follow the main body, preceding the rear guard of the column. If, as is often the case in small wars, attack mahy be expected from any direction, it may be advisable to place the combat train near the center of the column, or to split it into two or more sections interspersed with elements of the main body of troops. If the train is exceptionally large, it may be detached from the combat elements of the patrol and marched as a separate convoy (see ch. VIII, "Convoys and Convoy Escorts"). Whatever its location in the column, the resever supply of ammunition should be distributed throughout the train so that some of it may reasonably be expected to escape the initial burst of hostil fire in the event of an ambush.
6-46.Descriptive march formations.-a. General.- The march formations described in the next three succeeding paragraphs illustrate several of the principles previously described in this chapter. They should not be considered as the only formations which organizations of comparable size and composition may adopt. It is believed that they will be effective under the conditions assumed. Every experienced patrol leader will have his own opinion of how his patrol should be organized. He should not hesitage to modify the formation or redistribute the personnel of his command to mee the particular situation which confronts him.
Assumptions as to terrain.- In each instance, the terrain in which the following patrols are operating is assumed to be mountainous, heavily wooded country, with only narrow, winding trails available.
6-47.March formations for a reenforced rifle company.a. Situation.- A reenforced rifle company consisting of: a headquarters platoon which includes a light machine-gun section (4 Browning automatic rifles, modified), a 60-mm. mortar section (2 60-mm. mortars), attached signal and medical enlisted personnel, a native guide, and an interpreter: 3 rifle platoons of 3 squads each, armed with semi-automatic rifles; an attached machine platoon (less 1 section) with 4 machine guns (2 of which are for defense only); an attached 81-mm. mortar section; an attached squad of native troops; and a combat train of 75 pack animals and 20 native multeers; has been ordered to proceed to an outlying village to establish an advanced base and conduct further patrol activities therefrom. The village is 3 days march from the point of departure. The total strength of the patrol is 220 officers and men and 30 native soldiers and civilians. The road space for the patrol in column of files is estimated at 1,140 yards, or which the combat train (less 6 miles carrying organic machine-gun and 81-mm. mortar equipment), will occupy 350 yards. A hostile guerrilla force estimated at 600 men has been active in the area which must be traversed. That force is well led, and armed with bolt actin rifles, automatic shoulder weapons, and some machine guns. In previous engagement, the enemy has attempte to ambush the leading elements of the main body, but there has been on instance in which he created a diversion at the head of the column and directed his main attack at the rear elements.
b. Formation "A."-
Element Composition Point 1 rifle sqd. plus 1/2 sqd. native troops commanded by a Sgt. Distance Advanced party 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Lt. MG sect. (less 1 sqd.) 60-mm. sect. (less 1 sqd.) Commander by Lieut. "Rifle Plat." Distance Main Body Patrol commander. Native guide, Native interpreter. Fwd. esch., CO. Hdqtrs. 1 rifle plat. 1 MG plat. (less 1 sect. ) 1 81-mm. sect. Distance Combat train and train guard Rear esch., Co. Hdqtrs. Supply personnel and ammunition sqd. from attached units. 1/2 sqd. native troops. Commanded by Lt. "2nd in command." Distance Rear party 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Lt. MG sqd. 60-mm. sqd. Commanded by Lient. "Rifle Plat." Distance Rear Point 1 rifle sqd. Commanded by a Sgt.
c. Formation "B."-
Element Composition Point 1/2 sqd. 1/2 sqd. native troops Commanded by plat. Lt. Distance 1st section of main body Patrol commander Native guide Native interpreter Fwd. esch., Co. Hdqtrs. 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Lt. MG Sect. (less 1 sqd.) 60-mm. sect. (less 1 sqd. ) Distance Combat train train guard Approximately 1/2 combat tmin Rear esch., Co. Hdqtrs. 1\2 sqd. native troops Commanded by Sgt. Distance Rear point 1A rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt.
5 minute marching distance Element Composition Point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt. Distance 2nd section of main body 1 rifle plat, (less 1 sqd.) 1 MG plat. (less 1 sqd.) 1 80-mm. sect. (less 1 sqd.) Commanded Lieut. "Rifle Plat." Distance Combat train and train guard Ap. 1/2 combat train MC ammunition supply personnel Commanded by Sgt. Distance Rear point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt.
5 minute marching distance Element Composition Point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt. Distance ` 3rd section of main body 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Lt. MG sqd. 66-mm. sqd. 81-mm. sqd. Commanded by Lieut, "Rifle Plat." Distance Combat train and train guard Ap. 1/2 combat train 81-mrn.ammunition sqd. Commanded by Lt. "2nd in command" Distance Rear point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt.
Note.- Contact between subdivisions of the patrol is established once each hour as follows: 1st section halt. 2nd section makes contact and halts. As 3rd section gains contact with 2nd section, word is passed forward to 1st section, which resumes march, followed at 5-minute intervals by 2nd and 3rd sections.
6-48. March formation for a reenforced rifle platoon.-a. Situation.- It is assumed that a reenforced rifle platoon, consisting of: One rifle platoon of three squads armed with semi-automatic rifles; one light machine section (4 Browning automatic rifles, modified); one 60-mnm. mortar squad; an officer, a cook, and a hospital corpsman from company headquarters; a native guide; a native interpreter; and a combat train of 15 pack mules, 1 riding mule for wounded, and 4 native muleteers; has been ordered to proceed from its base for a 10-day combat patrol missions. The total strength of the patrol si 57 officers and enlisted men, and 6 natives. Hostile guerrillas have been active i the vicinity.
b. Patrol formation.-
Element Composition Point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt. Distance Main body Patrol commander Native guide Native interpreter Fwd. esch., Co. Hdqtrs. 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Lt. MG Sect. (less 1 sqd.) 60-mm. sect. (less 1 sqd. ) Distance Combat train and train guard Rear esch., Co. Hdqtrs. Lt. MG Sqd. Commanded by Lt. "2nd in command." Distance Rear point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt.
6-49.March formation for a rifle platoon.-a. Situation.- It is assumed that a rifle platoon consisting of three squads, each armed with bolt action rifles and two Browning automatic rifles or semiautomatic rifles; an officer, a cook, and a hospital corpsman from company headquarter; a native interpreter; and a combat train of 10 pack mules and 1 riding mule (for wounded) and 3 native muleteers; has been ordered to proceed from its base on a 10-day patrol into a section in which hostile guerillas are known to be operating. The total strength of the patrol is 33 offiers and enlisted men, 4 natives.
Element Composition Point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Sgt. Distance Main body Patrol commander Native interpreter Fwd. esch., Co. Hdqtrs. 1 rifle plat. (less 1 sqd.) Distance Combat train and train guard Rear esch., Co. Hdqtrs. Commanded by Lt. "2nd in command." Distance Rear point 1/2 rifle sqd. Commanded by Lt. "2nd in command."
6-50March formation for a rifle squad.- A rifle squad should rarely, if ever be sent as a patrol on a combat mission. Its normal employment in small wars, as in a major war, is that of reconnaissance, security, or liaison. The duration of the patrol will seldom exceed 1 day's march. If it extends over 1 day, it will usually subsist. off the country and should not be encumbered with a train. It may often be mounted, in which case the riding animals will carry the necessary impedimenta. The formations of a squad acting as an independent patrol are basically those prescribed in FM 21-45. The important points are: it must provide for all-around security by means of a point, rear point, and flank observation or flankers; the patrol leader should be near the head of the main body, rather than in the point, so that he can control the action of the entire patrol; the automatic weapons within the patrol should be located near the leader in order that he may control their initial action before they become committed or pinned to the ground in the first burst of hostile fire; a get-away man should be designated. The distances between the individuals in the patrol will depend entirely upon the nature of the terrain through which it is passing, bearing in mind that mutual support must be assured.
6-51.March discipline.-a. Silence essential.- A combat patrol operating in a hostile area must march in silence. The noises, including voices, made by the patrol at a halt should not be loud enough to be heard by the outguards.
b. Maintaining distances.-
(1) The distances to be maintained between subdivisions of the patrol and between individuals, are designated by the patrol leader. If these distances are temporarily decreased or increased due to the terrain or for other unavoidable reasons, they should be resumed as soon as warranted by the situation.
(2) Distances should be maintained with respect to the elements both in front and in rear. If an individual loses contact with the
man next in rear of him, word should be passed forward and the rate of march decreased or the patrol temporarily halted until the gap is closed.
(3) It requires particular effort to prevent men from bunching at stream crossings, fallen trees, large mudholes, and similar obstacles.
(4) The arm signals "halt" and "forward" should be used freely to indicate to the men in rear what is happening to their front.
c. General rules.- All members of the patrol should comply with such of the following rules as pertain to the situation:
(1) No noise or "skylarking" to be permitted.
(2) Weapons and ammunition carried by individuals will be retained on their persons. They will not be secured to riding or pack animals.
(3) A man leading an animal will not secure the lead line to his person or equipment.
(4) The riding animal for the sick will march at the rear of train.
(5) Be alert at all times. Do not depend entirely on the leading elements for reconnaissance.
(6) No smokng except when authorized.
(7) Do not leave articles foreign or strange to the locality on the trail or in camp sites.
(8) Only the patrol leader will question natives encountered on the trial for information about distances and directions. When he does so, he should ask for data about several places so as to disguise the route to be taken.
(9) No conversations will be entered into with natives except by the patrol leader, designated subordinates, or interpreter.
(10) The native guide will not talk to other natives except in the presence of the interpreter.
(11) When passing or halting in the vicinity of dwellings occupied by peaceful natives, do not take fruit, eggs, or other things without fair payment; do not gamble or drink with natives; do not enter native houses without clearly understood invitation; do not assume a hostile attitude.
(12) All distances will maintained at temporary halts as when marching.
6-52.March outposts.- March outposts should be established at every temporary halt. The advance party, or, in small patrols, the main body should halt on ground which can be easily defended. The point should proceed at least a hundred yards along the trail and take up a position in observation. Other routine security measures are followed, such as reconnoitering and observing lateral trails, reconnaissance of commanding ground to the flanks, and security to the rear. These requirements are fully as important in small war operations as in major warfare.
6-53.Camp sites.-a.- If the patrol is to bivouac on the trail, the day's march should cease at least 2 hours before sundown.
b. When the location of the camp site is not definitely known, the patrol leader should begin looking for a favorable site at least 3 hours before sundown. In peaceful territory, inquiries may be made of friendly natives but this is inadvisable in a hostile region. Too much reliance cannot be placed in the information recieved. Usually the natives accompanying the patrol as guides, interpreters, or muleteers will be able to give fairly definite information regarding good camp sites.
c. The camp area should be a level or slightly rolling, cleared, dry, well-drained field with firm turf free from stones, stubble, and brush, and ample size to accomodate the command without crowding. Water is essential. Fuel and forage should be available. The vicinity of swamps, marshes, and native houses should be particularly avoided because of the danger of insects and disease. Camp sites recently used by other troops are undesirable unless they have been left in good police.
d. Dry stream beds and ravines are undesirable because of warmth, poor ventilation, and the danger of floods.
e. Part of all of the desirable features for a camp site may have to be disregared in hostile territory when proper defense of the bivouac will be paramount.
5-54.Making camp- When the patrol is halted for the night, march outpost security is immediately enforced until the regular outguards can be formed, instructed, and posted. Reconnaissance patrols should be sent over all trails radiating from the camp site for a distance of at least a half mile, including the route which has just been traversed. Outguards will usually be detailed from the unit which has furnished the advance guard for the day. In small patrols it is often necessary to detail some personnel from the main body for this duty. Plans for the defense of the bivouac should be formulated, and every element of the patrol instructed accordingly. Squads and other units should be bivouacked as organizations and in relation to their respective sectors in defense. Working details are assigned to procure water and fuel, to dig latrines and to perform form other necessary tasks.
6-55.Shelter.-a. The shelter tent.- In good weather it is often better to sleep in the open rather than to construct temporary shelter. If some shelter is desirable, the shelter tent is generally the best type for troops in bivouac.
b. The lean-to.- When necessary materials are available lean-tos can be constructed almost as quickly as shelter tents can be erected. They are roomier than the shelter tent and afford better protection during heavy rains. The lean-to consists of two forked uprights, a cross pole, and a rough framework which is thatched with large leaves, such as manaca, banana, plam, etc., or with grass or reed tied in bunches. The uprights may be two convenient forked trees or saplings. After the cross-pole is secured in place, the framework is leaned against it, and the covering secured in place. The various parts of the lean-to are lashed together with vines which are usually found in the vicinity. A well made lean-to will las for 3 or 4 weeks before it has to be recovered. (See Plate I).
c. The canvas lean-to.- This combines certain desirable features of both the shelter tent and the thatched lean-to. It consists of a frame of light poles with a tarpaulin, tent fly, or several shelter halves or ponchos thrown over it and staked down on one edge. The two ends are enclosed. The front is left open like a lean-to. This shelter is strong, quickly built, and makes use of various sizes of canvas.
d. Native buildings.- -Native buildings generally should not be used by patrols for shelter. Most of them are unclean and infested with insects. They are usually more difficult to defend than bivouac which can be selected with its defense in view. Sometimes, vacant buildings may contain mines or bombs laid by the hostile forces to explode on contact.
6-56.Bivouac beds.-a. Men should not sleep on damp ground. ln temporary camps and in bivouac, they should raise their beds with leaves, boughs, or makeshift bunks in addition to placing the poncho between them and the ground. Satisfactory bunks can be made from small poles placed together on crosspieces raised about 6 inches from the ground. The poles should be covered with leaves or similar material. Bamboo can be split lengthwise, the joints cracked, and the piece flattened out to make an excellent, springlike bunk when laid on crosspieces at the head and foot.
b. Native hammocks made of light material are of practical use in some operations. The sleeper can protect himself from the rain by stretching a line between the hammock lashings and hanging a shelter-half or poncho over it.
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