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The mission of the infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and movement to defeat him, capture him, or repel his assault by fire, close combat, or counterattack. In accomplishing its assigned missions, infantry employs combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) assets.

The ultimate test is at the very tip of the spear, where the rifleman carries the greatest burden of risk with the least intrinsic technological advantage. No concept of transformation will suffice that does not enable the frontline Soldier and Marine.

The Marines have long said "Every Marine a rifleman." This is perhaps the Marine Corps' most widely known edict. Regardless of designator or job specialty, all Marines are fully trained to fulfill their mission of bearing arms in the defense of the nation. Although the Marine Corps is a multi-dimensional force, Marines share this attribute as a common operational philosophy. In other words, every Marine, regardless of specialty, is fundamentally the same. All are forged from a common experience, share a common set of values, and are trained as a cohesive airground team from the moment they join the Corps.

Attempts at racial integration for African Americans in the armed forces were made as early as the American Revolutionary War when about 5,000 blacks - most from New England - served in integrated units as artillerymen, infantrymen, musicians and general laborers. During much of the 19th century, blacks served in an integrated Navy. But as social attitudes changed at the turn of the century, and with the advent of Jim Crow laws, America returned to a segregated military, with few blacks permitted to serve.

The Korean War brought the need for change. Once the Marines started taking casualties in the summer of 1950, Marine Corps leadership found it had to replenish its combat units. Since every Marine - white or black - was trained as a basic infantry rifleman, the transition worked. The shift to an integrated Corps was relatively painless. According to the commander, 7th Marines, "Never once did any color problem bother us .... It just wasn't any problem."

Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker took a page from the Marine Corps playbook, insisting that "Every Soldier a Rifleman, Every Movement a Patrol." This emphasized that everyone in the US Army must focus on being a Soldier first. Specialization in the Army pulled away from the idea that every Soldier must be grounded in basic combat skills. However, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM demonstrated that no matter what Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) or day-to-day job a Soldier has in the Army, that Soldier must be able to conduct basic combat tasks to defend himself and his unit. Emphasis on individual combat skills was part of a larger program to infuse the entire Army with a "Warrior Ethos." Many senior Army leaders were convinced that the focus on technical skills, particularly in the non-combat arms branches, had resulted in neglecting basic combat skills.

The rifle squad is the foundation of infantry forces, which are employed to defeat enemy forces, secure key or decisive terrain, deprive the enemy of resources, gain information, deceive and divert the enemy, hold the enemy in position, or disrupt an enemy attack. Each rifle squad consists of a rifle squad leader and eight soldiers. The rifle squad leader is the senior tactical leader of the squad and controls the squad's movement and fires. He conducts squad training and maintains the squad's ability to conduct tactical missions successfully. Each infantry squad is further organized into two 4-man fire teams consisting of a team leader, a grenadier, and an automatic rifleman. The fourth member within each fire team is either the squad's antitank specialist or the squad's designated marksman. The fire team leader is a fighting leader and leads his team by example. The fire team leader controls the movement of his team and the placement of fires against enemy soldiers. He assists the squad leader as required.

The M16 rifle and the M4 carbine are the most common weapons fired in urban areas. These weapons, along with the M249 light machine gun, are used to kill enemy personnel, to suppress enemy fire and observation, and to penetrate light cover. Leaders can use tracer fire to designate targets for other weapons.

Close combat is the predominant characteristic of urban engagements. Riflemen must be able to hit small, fleeting targets from bunker apertures, windows, and loopholes. This requires pinpoint accuracy with weapons fired in the semiautomatic mode. Killing an enemy through an 8-inch loophole at a range of 50 meters is a challenge, but one that may be common in urban combat.

When fighting inside buildings, rapid semiautomatic fire is used. To suppress defenders while entering a room, a series of rapid three-round bursts is fired at all identified targets and likely enemy positions. This technique is more effective than firing long bursts into a room with fully automatic fire. Soldiers should fire aimed shots from an underarm or shoulder position, not unaimed fire from the hip. When targets reveal themselves at short range inside buildings, the most effective engagement is the quick-fire technique with the weapon up and both eyes open. Accurate, quick fire not only kills enemy soldiers but also gives the attacker fire superiority.

Within urban areas, burning debris, reduced ambient light, strong shadow patterns of varying density, and smoke all limit the effect of night vision and sighting devices. The use of aiming stakes in the defense and the pointing technique in the offense, both using three-round bursts, are night firing skills required of all infantrymen. The individual laser aiming light can sometimes be used effectively with night vision goggles (NVGs). Any soldier using NVGs should be teamed with at least one soldier not wearing them.

The penetration that can be achieved with a 5.56-mm round depends on the range to the target and the type of material being fired against. The M16A2, M4, and M249 achieve greater penetration than the older M16A1, but only at longer ranges. At close range, the weapons perform the same. Single 5.56-mm rounds are not effective against structural materials (as opposed to partitions) when fired at close range-the closer the range, the less the penetration.

For the 5.56-mm round, maximum penetration occurs at 200 meters. At ranges less then 25 meters, penetration is greatly reduced. At 10 meters, penetration by the M16 round is poor due to the tremendous stress placed on this high-speed round, which causes it to yaw upon striking a target. Stress causes the projectile to break up, and the resulting fragments are often too small to penetrate.

Even with reduced penetration at short ranges, interior walls made of thin wood paneling, Sheetrock, or plaster are no protection against 5.56-mm ball ammunition rounds. Common office furniture, such as desks and chairs, cannot stop these rounds, but a layer of books 18 to 24 inches thick can.

Wooden frame buildings and single cinder block walls offer little protection from 5.56-mm rounds. When clearing such structures, soldiers must ensure friendly casualties do not result from rounds passing through walls, floors, or ceilings.

Armor-piercing rounds are slightly more effective than ball ammunition in penetrating urban targets at all ranges. They are more likely to ricochet than ball ammunition when the target presents a high degree of obliquity.

Although most structural materials repel single 5.56-mm rounds, continued and concentrated firing can breach some typical urban structures. The best method for breaching a masonry wall is by firing short bursts (three to five rounds) in a U-shaped pattern. The distance from the gunner to the wall should be minimized for best results-ranges as close as 25 meters are relatively safe from ricochet. Ballistic eye protection, protective vest, and helmet should be worn.

Ball ammunition and armor-piercing rounds produce almost the same results, but armor-piercing rounds are more likely to fly back at the shooter. The 5.56-mm round can be used to create either a loophole (about 7 inches in diameter) or a breach hole (large enough for a man to enter). When used against reinforced concrete, 5.56-mm rounds cannot cut the reinforcing bars.

The infantry assists the heavy forces by infiltrating to clear obstacles or key enemy positions and to disrupt the enemy defense. It provides security for the armored vehicles by detecting and suppressing or destroying enemy antitank weapons. It designates targets and spots the impact of fires for tanks and BFVs.

Heavy forces support the infantry by moving with it along an axis of advance and providing a protected, fast moving assault weapons system. They suppress and destroy enemy weapons, bunkers, and tanks by fire and maneuver. They also provide transport when the enemy situation permits.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 23-04-2012 17:47:46 ZULU