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Military

SECTION II

PLATOON & SQUAD OPERATIONS


This section is organized differently from the first. The topics are focused at the platoon and squad levels. The discussion is usually short, followed by a series of lesson bullets that are offered for consideration.

TOPIC: Raids.

DISCUSSION: The jungle terrain provides excellent concealment and good cover. It also reduces visibility and makes movement slow and noisy.

LESSON(S):

  • Be patient on the leader's reconnaissance. It will take longer due to the dense jungle foliage and the need for precise navigation.
  • Support and assault elements will normally be combined due to a lack of suitable areas for support positions.
  • Consider using flechette (buckshot) rounds for the M203.
  • Consider employing your 60-mm mortars in the hand-held, direct fire mode.
  • The leader's reconnaissance should be small, no more than five men. A suggested composition is: platoon leader, assault team leader, weapons squad leader, and the two M60 assistant gunners. They can remain on site as a reconnaissance and surveillance element. When the M60s move forward, the AGs can point out sectorsof fire.
  • Be prepared to conduct a hasty attack in case of compromise.
  • Limit your reconnaissance movement to a minimum to avoid compromise. Most leaders reconnaissances are compromised when they attempt to get too close to the objective or move too quickly.
  • The ORP should be a maximum of 200 meters away.
  • Night raids are generally not practical.
  • M60s are great for initiating raids.
  • The security teams should leap-frog off the objective with the special teams to avoid losing contact.
  • The reconnaissance and surveillance elements should carry pre-rigged claymores to cover their withdrawal. Consider taping a baggie filled with powdered CS to the claymore. This technique discourages pursuit.
  • Because of the difficulty of adjusting fire quickly, use indirect fire to cover your withdrawal and high speed avenues of approach.

TOPIC: Ambush.

DISCUSSION: Ambushes are a favored tactic in the jungle. The dense vegetation and relatively few roads and trails make them very effective.

LESSON(S):

  • Local security must be alert because the enemy can come from any direction, forcing you to re-orient your ambush.
  • Always take your camouflage from the area in which you have set up the ambush.
  • Remember that the trees and foliage reduce the effective range of your weapons.
  • Most of the time, your assault element will be closer to the kill zone than normal.
  • Check each individual soldier's field of fire closely.
  • Consider using flechette (buckshot) rounds for your M203s.
  • Consider emplacing claymores in the trees above the trail. However, make sure they are secured to sturdy branches that do not sway in the wind.
  • Do not use insect repellant, scented soap, Avon Skin So Soft, and other nonorganic smelling substances when on ambush. The enemy can smell you before he hits the kill zone.
  • To repel insects, take garlic pills or eat garlic for a week prior to going on an ambush in the jungle.
  • To provide further security, try to eat indigenous rations for one week prior to going on ambush. This will keep from alerting the enemy by your smell.
  • Minimize movement in the ambush area, especially at night. The dense vegetation and lack of ambient light can cause you to make a lot of noise.
    • Have each soldier make field expedient aiming stakes for the ambush site. This will keep the distribution of fire even throughout the kill zone.
  • Lay a "handrail" of 550 cord from the assault line to the ORP. Use it to speed movement away from the ambush site. The platoon sergeant can police it up as the platoon withdraws.
  • Reconnoiter your ambush site and, if time allows, set your troops in during daylight hours.
  • Use the maximum number of NODs possible. Ambushes normally take place along trails where there is enough ambient light to use them.
  • Use thermal imagers, such as the AN-PAS 7, whenever possible. They work well anywhere in the jungle.
  • Allocate NODs in the following priority: M60s, SAWs, platoon leader, left and right security.
  • When clearing the kill zone at night, drop chemlites by KIAs/WIAs. Use different colored chemlites for different halves of the kill zone. An example would be left side green, right side blue.
  • Use TA1s for control of security elements.
  • To avoid carrying bulky items through the jungle, have the special teams work the kill zone with empty rucksacks.
  • Pyrotechnics, such as star clusters and parachute flares, generally do not work well in the jungle. Ground flares are better.

TOPIC: Reconnaissance.

DISCUSSION: These techniques, unless otherwise noted, apply to both the scout platoon and regular combat patrols.

LESSON(S):

  • Reconnaissance teams should be small, three -four men maximum.
  • Travel light. Reconnaissance patrols should carry a "butt" pack only. Scout platoon teams will require a rucksack. However, resist the temptation to pack it with 100 pounds of lightweight gear.
  • Do not wear helmets; they degrade your hearing and reduce your peripheral vision.
  • Travel in a series of short, deliberate movements. Your maximum cross-country speed should be 200 - 300 meters per hour.
  • Take listening halts for at least 15 minutes every hour.
  • Patrolling more than 500 meters in front of the unit should be handled by the scouts.
  • Pattern reconnaissance techniques are difficult to execute in the jungle. Use them sparingly because they require a lot of time.
  • Each four-man team should have two radios. One should be pre-set to the fire control net's frequency. Always have a pre-cut jungle antenna.
  • Always have a contingency plan inthe event of the loss of communications.
  • Do not use insect repellant, scented soap, Avon Skin So Soft, and other nonorganic smelling substances when on reconnaissance. The enemy can smell you before you reach the objective.
  • To repel insects, take garlic pills or eat garlic for a week prior to going on a reconnaissance in the jungle.
  • To provide further security, try to eat indigenous rations for one week prior to going on reconnaissance. This will keep from alerting the enemy by your smell.
  • Pre-rig your claymores with an M-60 fuze igniter and time fuze to provide a means of breaking contact.
  • Carry an HC white smoke grenade and a CS grenade. When thrown together, the HC disguises the CS until the enemy is in the cloud. It also tends to suspend the CS in the air for a longer period. This action will slow up enemy pursuit. Also, he will tend to avoid white smoke clouds from then on.
  • Carry pursuit denial munitions (PDMs) whenever you can. Put them in a claymore bag sewn to the top of your rucksack.
  • You can never carry enough grenades. You can use them without giving your position away.
  • Carry 1:25,000 maps whenever you can. Update them as you go.
  • Avoid trails and natural lines of drift whenever possible. If you must move on a trail, travel slowly.
  • Do not carry maps marked with graphics and complete SOIs. Employ minimal graphics and use SOI extracts.
  • Carry at least four quarts of water and two bottles of iodine tablets. Check the iodine tablets before you move out.
  • Carry your basic load of ammunition. Expend it liberally to break contact. Use a mix of tracers and ball to alert you when your magazine is almost empty.
  • Use a simple near and far identification system.
  • Always remember that you are the "Indians," not the "cavalry."

TOPIC: Hasty Attack/React to Contact.

DISCUSSION: Due to the limited visibility of the jungle, the hasty attack is the most likely scenario.

LESSON(S):

  • React quickly with every weapon that you can bring to bear as soon as you contact the enemy. Gain immediate fire superiority and keep it.
  • Do not wait for a clear visual target to open fire. Fire at smoke, muzzle flashes, or by sound. Otherwise, the enemy will gain fire superiority.
  • Use grenades immediately, both smoke and fragmentation.
  • Develop a battle drill for the hasty attack. It should be simple, well rehearsed, and tailored to the jungle. If you can only rehearse one battle drill, this is it. The key element for a hasty attack in the jungle is the fire team.
  • The key leader for a hasty attack in the jungle is the squad leader. Use your initiative. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant will be busy with reporting, calling for fire support, and controlling CASEVAC.
  • Assault with shallow fire team wedges. They are easiest to control in the jungle while providing firepower to the front.
  • Drop rucksacks by fire team on line of deployment or when decisively engaged.

TOPIC: Deliberate Attack.

DISCUSSION: Deliberate attacks have the same considerations as the raid, minus the withdrawal. Instead, you substitute consolidation and reorganization. Keep in mind that most successful counterattacks take place within 15-20 minutes of the enemy leaving the objective.

LESSON(S):

  • Deliberate attacks are difficult to synchronize.
  • Pay special attention to land navigation.
  • Establish your limit of advance (LOA) after careful consideration of the terrain. If at all possible, establish it along a easily discernible terrain feature.
  • Task-organize to provide 360-degree security on the objective as you sweep to the LOA.
  • Reconnoiter the near side of the objective first. Do a far side reconnaissance of the objective after you have cleared between the LOA and the objective. This will dramatically reduce your chances of compromise during the leader's reconnaissance.
  • Consider using an indirect fire preparation of the objective.
  • When you arrive at the LOA, set out your LPs/OPs immediately. Make sure they have claymores to cover their withdrawal if necessary.
  • Register your indirect fire assets as soon as you arrive at the LOA.
  • Use the engineers to emplace a hasty protective minefield as soon as you have cleared the objective.
  • If you use a reserve, consider tasking the reserve for your special teams.
  • Accomplish all of the above in under 15 minutes.
  • Be aware of stay-behind snipers as you approach the objective.

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