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




Definition and uses			7-50
Discussion				7-51
Type of animal to employ		7-52
Other Details				7-53

7-50. Definition and uses--a. Hastily organized mounted patrols are units mounted for immediate patrolling without prior training in riding or animal care. This expedient has been resorted to frequently in the past. It usually suggests itself in areas where suitable riding animals are available in considerable numbers. Whether for increasing the mobility of the patrol, or conserving the strength of the men, due consideration should be given to the advantages and disadvantages of such procedure as indicated in this section, prior to the adoption of this expedient.

b. The leaders of infantry units often err when they decide to execute combat patrolling on mounts instead of on foot. Past operations have definitely indicated that there are certain advantages and disadvantages of hastily organized, mounted patrols. Some of the considerations which bear upon the advisability of organizing hastily mounted patrols are set forth below:

(1) The mounted patrol is more formidable in appearance and it affords an easy way to make a display of force in fairly peaceful territory.
(2) For a march of not over 1 or 2 days' duration and with suitable terrain, the hastily mounted patrol can travel more rapidly and cover a greater distance than on foot.
(3) Mounted men can, for short marches, carry heavier individual loads than men on foot.
(4) A mounted man can give all his attention to observing the terrain and looking for signs of the enemy. The mount will select its own footing on the trail. A man on foot on bad trails must spend much time looking at the trail to pick his route.
(5) A man on horseback presents a smaller target than standing. His body appears shorter and is partly protected by the horse.
(6) A mounted man is higher than a man on foot and he can see farther. On some terrain his eyes will clear brush over which the man on foot cannot see. This sometimes enables a mounted man to detect a waiting enemy at a distance denied to a man on foot; particularly if the enemy is not well schooled in lying in ambush.
(7) The mounted patrol is easier on the men. They will arrive at their destination in a less exhausted condition.
(8) The rapidity of movement and the distance covered will decrease materially as the size of the patrol is increased.
(9) For extended marches the foot patrol, untrained in riding, and in the care and handling of animals, will make better progress on foot day in and day out than if mounted on animals.
(10) For large patrols, even marches of only 1 or 2 days' duration can be made with greater facility on foot than if hastily mounted.
(11) If the march is to be extended, it is essential that the load on the ridden animals be kept as light as possible. The average load carried by the ridden animal in the field is about 250 pounds. It can readily be seen that this load places considerable burden on small native animals and every effort should be made to reduce this load by the use of accompanying pack animals.
(12) The animal casualties in hastily organized mounted patrols will be excessive because of poor handling and lack of condition in the animals.
(13) Lack of training in dismounting and securing animals, places the hastily organized mounted patrol at a distinct disadvantage once contact with the enemy is made.
(14) The mounted man is generally more conspicuous, and more clearly outlined, and he cannot hit the ground, take cover, and return the hostile fire as rapidly as a man on foot. At any given range, therefore, he is more exposed to the hostile initial bursts of fire.
(15) A foot patrol has the advantage over a mounted patrol when it runs into an enemy ambush. In a mounted patrol the animals will suffer severely and the men will be more exposed. If any men or householders have to concern themselves with the animals they are not much help against the enemy.
(16) A mounted patrol is more visible from a distance than a foot patrol, particularly if the colors of the animals do not blend with the background. Natives on one mountain can see mounted men marching on another mountain then, under tile same conditions, they could not see foot troops.
(17) A foot patrol can make and break camp more rapidly than a mounted patrol and is not as much concerned about a site that will furnish forage ancl water. Hastily organized mounted patrols of any size are notoriously slow in breaking camp.
(18) A mounted patrol is more expensive than a foot patrol. The expenditure for animals and animal equipment, in past operations, has been extremely high for hastily organized mounted patrols.
(19) At the end of the day's march the work of the mounted man has just begun. The animals, pack and ridden, have to be groomed, watered, fed, the sick and injured treated, and, in hostile territory, guarded during the night.
(20) The general consideration that riding is less fatiguing than walking is apt to outweigh other more important considerations in tropical countries where there is ever present a strong tendency to avoid bodily exertion.

7-51. Discussion.--The above considerations indicate that the use of the hastily organized mounted patrol in hostile territory is rarely justified. Only for small patrols when equipment and conditioned animals are immediately available, when the march is not in excess of about 2 days, when the patrol is to be made in fairly peaceful territory, and when rapid movement is desirable and practicable are the conditions suitable to justify the organization of a hastily mounted patrol.

7-52. Type of animal to employ.-In some localities there may be a choice between horses and mules. The characteristics of the mule, as set forth in article 3-27, make him more suitable for riding and handling by untrained men who for the most part make up hastily organized mounted patrols. However, for small patrols on short urgent missions the horse can well be used to advantage.

7-53. Other details.--The organization, assignment of duties and animals; marches, equipment and other details of a hastily organized mounted patrol should be based upon a study of the preceding section, section IV, and should approximate the standards set for regular mounted detachment.

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