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



Value of mounted detachments		7-31
Basis for organization			7-32
Amounted rifle company			7-33
Machine-gun and howitzer units		7-34
Animals for mounted detachments		7-35
Spare mounts				7-36
Assignment of mounts			7-37
Horse equipment				7-38
Individual equipment			7-39
Arms and ammunition			7-40
Pack equipment				7-41
Training, general			7-42
Training for specialists		7-43
Time required for training		7-44
Combat training				7-45
Tactical usesof mounted detachments	7-46
Conduct of rnountedpatrols		7-47
Combat patrols				7-48
Ambushes				7-49

7-31. Value of mounted detachments.-a. It is reasonable to expect that small-war operations of the future, like those of the past, will require the use of mounted detachments. The value of mounted detachments will depend upon the nature of the terrain, the character of the resistance, the extent of the operations, and, finally, the missions assigned to them.

b. The nature of the terrain has a direct bearing upon the value and use that is to be made of mounted detachments. The rnore open flat and rolling terrain is more favorable for the successful employment of mounted detachments. As the country becomes more mountainous, more given to jungle growth or marsh lands the general use of mounted detachments becomes less practicable. Furthermore, the more unpopulated and uncultivated areas are less favorable for the general use of mounted detachments. As the country is more given over to waste lands it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain mounted detachments in the field.

c. (1) The character of resistance encountered will have considerable effect both on the general effectiveness of mounted detachments and on the manner in which they should be employed. If the enemy tends to retain a well organized unity, the mounted detachment can be employed by attaching it to the force or column sent in the field to destroy this resistance. lf, on the other hand, the enemy retains no definite organization but uses guerrilla tactics the mounted detachment can be best employed as an area or district reserve to be available for independent action on special missions. Again, in a situation where the enemy operates to any extent mounted, it may be necessary to use mounted detachments in place of foot patrols for regular combat patrolling.

(2) The effectiveness of mounted detachments also varies with the typo of armament in use by the enemy. Prior to the advent of automatic weapons, mounts were of some value after contact was gained. They could be used for shock action or for maneuver even in the immediate presence of the enemy. The modern high powerecl automatic weapon in the hands of small war opponents has made the horse not only of little use, but an actual handicap once contact is gained. The mounted detachment is extremely vulnerable to ambush by guerillas armed with automatic weapons.

d. The more extensive the operations, the greater will be the value of mounted detachments. If the operations include the occupation of the seaports and a few of the important inland towns only, the need for mounted detachments will be limited. As the operations extend farther and farther inland and over wider areas, the need for these detachments will become greater.

e. Regardless of the individual efficiency of mounted detachments, their value will depend upon their employment by the higher commanders who assign them their missions. A thorough understanding of the capabilities and limitations of mounted units and due consideration of the factors which affect their combat value, is required for the proper assignment of missions to these units. The mounted and foot patrols should be assigned missions that enable them to work together and not in competition.

7-32. Basis for organization.-.A definite basis for transition from the normal dismounted organization to a mounted organization status should be adopted. To this end the dismounted organization given in Tables of organization should be adopted as a basis for transition with such obvious modifications as may be necessary. The conversion of an infantry unit to a mounted status requires more than the simple addition of horses and equipment. The converted organization, even with the minimum of necessary modifications, presents difficulties of training, aclministration, and tactical use. The officer assigned to organize a mounted unit will find himself so beset with unfamiliar details that the adoption of some system is practically mandatory. The deficiencies which become apparent may be remedied as the organization progresses, without disturbing the general scheme of organization.

7-33. A mounted rifle company.-Assume that a rifle company is to be organized as a mounted detachment. The Tables of Organization provide for a company headquarters and three platoons of three squads each. This organization is suitable for a mounted company. The platoons are small enough, even though mounted, to be handled in most situations by one officer. The addition of the necessary horses and equipment, together with the additional training and upkeep incidental to the transformation from dismounted to mounted status, will require some essential changes in the enlisted personnel provided in the organization tables. A stable sergeant, a horseshoer, and a saddler, all being necessary for a mounted organization, must be added to the company headquarters. It is also necessary to provide about five drivers in company headquarters for the necessary kitchen, cargo, and ration pack animals. The company should be able to operate independently; it must therefore be organized to carry such supplies as will enable it to remain away from its base for at least 3 days, which period can be taken as a minimum patrol period. For longer periods away from the base provision will have to be made for additional drivers, arrangements made for ration drops, visits to friendly outposts planned; or for the unit to subsist itself off the country, or some combination of these methods.

7-34. Machine-gun and howitzer units.-a. It is not contemplated that machine-gun companies or howitzer platoons will be mounted as units in small war operations. Unquestionably, however, subdivision of such units will have to be mounted and attached to the mounted rifle detachments. The attachment of two or more machine-gun squads to each mounted company will almost invariably have to be made, and in some situations, it may be necessary to attach 37 mm. and mortar sections. For this purpose, it is simply necessary to mount the attached units with their weapons placed in pack, the weapon crews acting as drivers for their own weapon and ammunition pack animals.

b. It is absolutely essential that the attachment of these units to the mounted companies be made as early as possible so that the personnel and animals can be properly trained and conditioned for their mounted duties. The attachment of the units will not require additional specialists except possibly one additional horseshoer per mounted rifle company.

7-35. Animals for mounted detachments.-The better animals of the occupied country will not be available upon landing. Great effort and ingenuity will be necessary to obtain suitable animals in sufficient numbers. The best animals obtainable will be necessary for mounted organizations. The purchase of animals should be undertaken as early as possible in order to condition the animals.

7-36. Spare mounts.-Mounted service in small war expeditions is especially trying upon the mounts. Experience indicates that the number of mounts should exceed the number of men authorized for the organization by from 20 to 30 percent. The excess should furnish replacements for the lame, sick, sore-hacked, wounded, or debilitated mounts, certain to develop in hard field duty. This figure may decrease as men and animals become accustomed to each other, and as the condition of the animals improves.

7-37. Assignment of mounts.-a. Every officer and man in the mounted organization should be assigned a horse. Two horses for each officer will usually be required. The assignments of horses should be kept permanent. Changes should be made only upon the decision of the organization commander in each case. Sickness and injuries to animals will require changes from time to time. Such changes should be understood to be distinctly temporary. Men whose animals are sick or injured should be temporarily mounted from the spare animals of the organization.

b. The maintenance of animals in constant fitness for duty is one of the most difficult tasks of the commander of the mounted organization. He cannot do this effectively unless he holds every individual under his command responsible in turn for the animal he rides. This individual responsibility most certainly will be evaded by enlisted men if two or more riders are permitted to use the same mount.

c. In changing horses a definite loss in efficiency results because the man who knows a certain horse will, as a rule, secure the best performance from that particular horse. Also a man will normally become fond of his horse after he becomes acquainted with him. This in turn prompts greater interest in the welfare and training of the animal.

d. It sometimes happens that a certain man and a certain horse will not get along well with each other. The commander of a mounted organization should be constantly on the lookout for such a situation and, after assuring himself that a bona fide case of mutual unsuitability exists, correct it by reassignment of mount and man.

e. The officers find the senior noncommissionedofficers must have the best horses available to the organization. Their duties require them to exert their horses to a greater degree than is required of men in the ranks.

7-38. Horse equipment.-a. The following is the minimum necessary equipment, one set of which, modified to suit the conditions of the operations and its availability, is issued to each man:

1 saddle, McClellan.
1 blanket, saddle.
1 bridle, with snaffle bit.
1 headstall, halter.
1 halter tie rope.
1 surcingle.
1 pair suddlebags.
1 feed bag.
1 grain bag.
1 currycomb (preferably one equipped with a hoof huck).
1 brush, horse.
1 pair spurs.
1 pair suspenders, cartridge belt, pistol.
1 machete.

b. Grain and feed bags are carried strapped to the pommel. The feed bag should cover the filled grain bag, to protect the grain from rain and other animals chewing through the bag.

c. The snaffle bit is listed, but the curb bit may prove more satisfactory for some horses.

d. The machete should be carried in a sheath attached to the saddle on the off (right) side, in a horizontal position, hilt to the front. If issue saddlebags are carried, it may be necessary to attach the machete to the off (right) pommel and let it hang. The machetes are not intended for use as weapons, but are provided for cutting trails, clearing camp sites, building shelters, and even more important, for cutting forage, such as grass and cane tops.

7-39. Individual equipment.-a. There are three general ways of carrying emergency rations, mess gear, grooming kit, toilet articles, etc., each having certain advantages, each having certain advantages, all being practical, as follows:

(1) Saddlebags (standard equipment) are two large leather pockets, fastened together, in a size approximately to a full-sized cavalry mount rather than to a small horse (mule) which fits on the cantle of the McClellan saddle. As they are large, they must not be overloaded, thus preventing pressure on the flanks on consequent chafing of the stifles and hips.
(2) Use of infantry equipment as issued, but attach the blanket roll to the saddle. The canteen should always be carried on the belt.
(3) Use of one or two NCO haversacks per man, fastened to the cantle by their hooks through cantle rings. These may be placed one on each side. This method carries much less than the saddle bags, but is much easier on the horse, especially if he be short coupled.

b. A "cantle roll" will ordinarily be carried on patrol or on the march. It should include those articles not needed until camp is made for the night, which are not easily carried in the saddlebags. Care must be taken that rolls remain small and light, and that the weight is divided equally between the sides of the mount. The roll should be smaller in the center, so that it may bend easily. It is carried strapped up tight on the cantle of the saddle, the ends extending down about as far as the cantle quarterstrap D-rings, no part of it touching the horse, but all its weight held up by the saddle. The following list is not exhaustive, nor need all these things be carried on every patrol:

1 blanket, wool.
1 pair socks.
1 suit underwear.
1 poncho.
1 mosquito net.

Canned rations may be placed in the ends of the roll, and will be more easily carried there than in the saddlebags, especially if in round cans. If the roll is carefully made up, and the opening formed by the edge of the poncho turned so that it will not catch water, the roll is rainproof and nearly waterproof.

7-40. Arms and ammunition.-a. The arms and ammunition carried by each man are regulated in the same manner and by the same considerations as for dismounted troops. It will be noted that pistols and rifle scabbards have not been included in the minimum requirements for issue to mounted detachments. If the rifle scabbard is issued, care must be taken that troops are so trained that there will be no danger of their being separated from their rifles when they dismount. The rifle scabbard has the disadvantage of interfering to some extent with the seat of the rider and the normal action of very small horses on rough going and at increased gaits, and hastening rust under field conditions by retaining moisture. The rifle scabbard should not be used in territory where contact is at all probable. Mounted men should be armed with the bayonet and indoctrinated in its use. The rifle, automatic rifle, and submachine gun may be carried by the mounted men slung in the same manner as they are carried dismounted, or the butt may be rested on the thigh, or the rifle may be held by the right hand at the small of the stock, the balance resting on the pommel of the saddle.

b. All grenades and other ammunition should be carried on the persons, not only to save the horse ("live loads" are easier to carry than "dead loads"), but, also to have them always available in an ernergency. All such loads should be supported on the shoulders of the man, carried high enough so as not to interfere with his seat in the saddle; that is, nothing should extend lower than the bottom of his belt in front or rear. If the 50-round drums for the Thompson submachine guns are carried, some form of sling should be provided for them, or they should be attached to the left side of the belt, to keep them off the saddle. Carriers for grenades should be as high on the body as possible.

7-41. Pack equipment.-The Phillips packsaddle, which is coming more and more into general use, should always be used by mounted detachments if it is obtainable. This saddle can be used at the walk, trot and, when necessary, at the gallop without injury to the animal or derangement of the load. The mobility of the detachment, therefore, is not reduced when accompanied by pack horses using the Phillips saddle. If this saddle is not obtainable, a special study of native equipment available will have to be made to determine the type most suitable for military use. If the Phillips saddle is used, the necessary hangars for weapons, ammunition, pack kitchens, and other special loads should be obtained. (See art. 3-30.)

7-42. Training, general.-For the general training of mounted detachments see 17. S. Army Training Regulations MP45. "The Soldier; Instruction Mounted without. Arms."

7-43. Training for specialists.-a. Nor the training of specialists such as the stable sergeant, packmaster, horseshoer, packers, and saddlers, the following publications should be referred to:

(1) Animal Management, the Cavalry School.
(2) FM 25-5, "Animal Transport."
(3) TM 2100-25, "The Saddler."
(4) TM 2100-30, "The Packer."
(5) TM 2100-40, "The Horseshoer."
(6) BFM, Vol. I, Chapter 3, "Equipment & Clothing, Mounted and Dismounted Organizations."

(7) Department of Agriculture Pamphlets. These give the names and kinds of feed found in foreign countries, with their nutritive ratio to oats, the form in which thy are usually fed, and other useful information,

b. All of the above except ANIMAL MANAGEMENT may be secured by the Quartermaster from the Government Printing Office at from 5 to 15 cents per copy. The Department of Agriculture pamphlets may be secured from that Department direct. In this connection, application should be made for the pamphlet or pamphlets applicable to the country in question.

7-44. Time required for training.-Sufficient time for thorough training in all details will seldom if ever be available. The mounted unit commander is usually ordered to be ready to take the field within a short time after organization. Whatever the situation, the mounted unit commander must adapt his training schedule to the time available. He makes every effort to secure a reasonable time for training. Six weeks may be considered a minimum requirement after the order for mounting is received. Failing this, he conducts his initial operations in the field with due regard to the limited training of his men and the conditioning of his animals.

7-45. Combat training.-The combat training of the mounted detachment cannot be neglected. This training is all important and must be carried on concurrently with the mounted training. Since the mounted detachment will habitually fight on foot its small wars combat training will be practically identical to that of a foot patrol. When contact is made the mounted unit will habitually dismount, turn over its mounts to horseholders, and thereafter fight on foot. The combat training of mounted detachments should include numerous and varied combat exercises, which require the men to dismount rapidly and without confusion and to go instantly into dismounted action against a simulated or outlined enemy. Only by repeated exercises of this type will the mounted unit become indoctrinated in the schemes of action for combat.

7-46. Tactical uses of mounted detachments.-a. Some of the tactical uses of mounted detachments are:

(1) For normal patrolling in pacified areas. Smaller numbers of troops can patrol larger areas with greater facility when organized into mounted detachments. A show of force in these pacified areas can be made almost continuously over wide areas and with a small force by the judicious use of mounted detachments.
(2) As a mobile unit attached to a large combat column. The commander of a large column in some small wars situations may require a mounted detachment for the execution of special missions such as distant reconnaissance to the front and flanks, escort for evacuation of wounded, foraging, investigation of towns or district along the route of march, etc.
(3) As an area or district reserve. Such a reserve can be used for the accomplishment of special urgent missions such as the relief of towns which have been attacked, the rescue of the personnel of planes making forced landings in hostile territory, as an escort for area and district commanders on inspection trips, and for other special missions of a similar nature.
(4) To augment aerial reconnaissance.

b. From a study of the above tactical uses of the mounted detachment, it can be seen that it is not contemplated that the mounted detachment will perform the normal patrol work in small wars. In bush and jungle warfare where the situation is always vague and the enemy never definitely located, the foot patrol is more effective for combat patrols and particularly so when the enemy habitually fights on foot. The foot patrol, whose primary combat training is that of infantrymen, will give a better account of itself in this type of warfare when contact is made and such a patrol is far less vulnerable to ambush. The superior mobility of the mounted detachment means very little if there is no definite objective on which to move. But there are special missions in most small wars operations in which strong and boldly led mounted detachments, well organized, trained and equipped, will be of great value. When such detachments are available to a commander in a hostile area they may be moved rapidly on a definite objective when aeroplane, radio, or other communication or intelligence agency indicated its use at a particular point.

7-47. Conduct of mounted patrols.--a. In country that is open enough to permit marching at the trot, patrols may move at better speed mounted than dismounted, and arrive at the destination or point of contact with the hostile force, in better condition to fight. A greater load can be carried without undue fatigue by the mounted man than by the dismounted, but loads should not be such as to cut down mobility. Over average dirt roads, with few steep grades and with small horses in fair condition, a platoon should march about 30 miles in 1 day, or 80 to 85 in 3 days. Longer daily marches may often be made, but losses in condition must be made up by rest after the march. These figures will not be found accurate under all circumstances, but falling much below them makes the mounting of the men unprofitable, as seasoned infantry can move in small bodies for limited periods at rates nearly approaching these.

b. Patrols required to remain out for long periods should take advantage of all facilities of friendly garrisons, so as to preserve their mobility. Sick should be left at the first post passed through, supplies replenished if they can be spared by the garrison, and information exchanged at every opportunity.

c. Timely preparations should be made for any march, to insure that men and animals are in the best condition possible, that the required equipment and supplies are present and loaded as required and that provision is made for the care and evacuation of the disabled.

d. The strict observance of march discipline is most essential in mounted units. It is maintained only by frequent and rigid inspections by officers and noncommissioned officers both on the march and at all halts. The object of these inspections are:

(1) To keep equipment, especially saddles and packsaddles correctly adjusted at all times.
(2) To require all riders to maintain the correct seat in the saddle. Slouching in the saddle has the tendency to injure the animal's back.
(3) To maintain the prescribed gaits within subdivisions of the column.
(4) To require all riders to dismount, when there is no need for remaining mounted. This is especially important. A horse standing still, and with his rider sitting on him is not able to relax and rest.
(5) To permit individuals to leave the column only in case of urgent necessity.
(6) To police halting places and camp or bivouac areas.

7-48. Combat patrols.-a. Most patrols sent out in small wars must be ready to accept combat, even if not sent out primarily with the mission of seeking it. Usually psychological considerations will require that no patrol give ground, and patrols are habitually made strong enough to repel expected attacks. Reconnaissance and other special patrols, therefore, are considered with combat patrols, and not as requiring special formations. The essentials required of mounted formations are the same as those of dismounted formations. There must be adequate control by the leaders of parts of the patrol, mutual support, power of maneuver must be preserved as long as possible by holding out supports, and the patrol must be protected from surprise from any direction. The principles of the dismounted patrol formations may therefore be followed, modifying distances and intervals to conform to the different capabilities of the mounted man. For short distances, a horse can easily travel twice as fast as a man, and thus support can be furnished from a greater distance.

b. When the point comes under fire, the men of the leading squad should dismount at once and take firing positions. There will seldom be time for these men to secure their horses. Other squads, not actually engaged, may have time and opportunity to secure their mounts by having one man hold four of them, and it will sometimes be possible, especially in patrols larger than two squads, for units not engaged to make a mounted dash to a position from which they can make a dismounted attack on the enemy's flank or rear. Units not actually engaged should maneuver, either mounted or dismounted, to take the opposition in flank or rear, but always attacking dismounted. Actions of this type may be prearranged and practiced, but must be kept so simple as to be flexible in application, and must not permit any part of the patrol to go beyond effective control of the leader without definite orders from him.

c. Distances are shortened in woods and lengthened in more open country. Details for flank reconnaissance are usually arranged before the march is begun, so that a signal by the leader will be sufficient to start the reconnaissance.

d. Mounted patrol formations are identical with those of foot patrols with the exception tlme allowance must be made for the greater road space required by mounted units. For patrol formations, distribution of weapons, tactics, and other details see Infantry Patrols, chapter VI.

7-49. Ambushes.--a. Many areas afford innumerable good ambush positions. If all such positions are carefully reconnoitered by mounted patrols operating in such areas the rate of march will be reduced to that of foot troops. The mounted detachment when employed on an urgent mission requiring rapid movement on a definite objective avoids being ambushed not so much by cautions movement and careful reconnaissance as by rapid and secret movement and by radical changes of direction to deceive the enemy. The mounted unit leader, for this reason, must have as thorough knowledge of the terrain as possible and must have the best guides obtainable.

b. The above paragraph is not to be construed as relieving the mounted detachment commander of the responsibility of providing reasonable security for his column when on the march and of carefully investigating any position which he has reason to believe is occupied. If the attack be from a flank on the center of the column, the leading and following elements do the maneuvering, and the attack is still normally driven home on the flank or rear. The horses of the elements caught in the initial burst of fire will generally have to be temporarily abandoned. Tired horses will not stray far and those not wounded or killed can be recovered as soon as the enemy position is taken. The horses of elements not caught under fire should be turned over to the appointed horse holders of the squad who will get them under such cover as is available.

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