Introduction to Tactics/Combat formations

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Summary[edit | edit source]

The object of this class is to teach students about combat formations and their usage.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In this class we will learn about the various kinds of combat formations, their benefits and drawbacks, and when they should be used.

Readings[edit | edit source]

This will delineate the readings that should be done prior to undertaking the exercises in this class.

Lecture[edit | edit source]

Movement to Contact[edit | edit source]

Wedge[edit | edit source]

This can come in two methods: Squad in wedge, or Squad in file, teams in wedge.

With squad in wedge, the Alpha team leader takes the point. The Alpha team automatic gunner will be to his left. The Bravo team grenadier will be to his right. To the left of Gunner A will be the Alpha rifleman (usually the radio telephone operator.) To that man's left will be the Alpha grenadier. To the right of the Bravo grenadier is the Bravo automatic gunner. To the right of him is the Bravo team leader. To the right of him is the Bravo rifleman. In the middle of the wedge, is the Squad leader, and any attached members. Each man will stand approximately 3-5 meters to the side, and 3-5 meters behind the man preceding him, forming a wedge shape.

Squad in wedge creates a very wide, very broad wedge. This is not suitable to flanking. To counteract that, most often a platoon will use "Squads in file, teams in wedge). In this formation (usually abbreviated simply to "wedge"), the Alpha team is first in file, followed by the squad leader, who is followed by the Bravo team. Within the team, the point man is rifleman (in Alpha team) or the team leader (in Bravo team). To his left is the automatic gunner (in Alpha team) or the grenadier (in Bravo team). To his right are the grenadier (in Alpha team) or the automatic gunner (in Bravo team) and the team leader (in Alpha team) or the rifleman (in Bravo team).

=forgeting the line The Ranger file is a variation on the single file principle. Each man walks approximately 5-7 meters behind the man in front of him, except in darkness or extremely heavy foliage in which case he will walk at a 3-5 meter interval. Each man has an assigned field of fire and an assigned mission. This technique is not solely restricted to infantry, despite it's name: it can be effectively used by cavalry and armored formations in line.

Point man[edit | edit source]

The point man, first in line, is in charge of direct frontal security and scanning for booby traps and ambushes. He is the primary compass reader to determine the file's azimuth. He's also an alternate pace count maintainer, and alternate EPW (enemy prisoner of war) handler.

Slack man[edit | edit source]

Second in line is the slack man, who is in charge of maintaining the primary pace count. The slack man is an alternate compass reader, and provides alternate frontal security when the point man is otherwise engaged. In many ranger files, the slack man is a grenadier or fire team leader. He is also the alternate aid and litter bearer.

Squad Leader[edit | edit source]

The squad leader, third in line, is in charge of the entire file. In engagements he may quickly grab the grenadier in front of him, and the automatic gunner behind him. His area of responsibility is either to the left or right.

Automatic Gunner A[edit | edit source]

The file's first automatic gunner is immediately behind the squad leader. His area of responsibility is the opposite of the Squad Leader's

Middle riflemen[edit | edit source]

These positions alternate left and right areas of responsibility. They also alternate responsibility as primary aid & litter bearer, radio telephone operator, primary EPW handler, and grenadiers.

Fire Team Leader[edit | edit source]

The fire team leader is one of the two fire team leaders in the file (the other is usually in the slack position or the fifth position). This man is in charge of maintaining control over the rear part of the file.

Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner[edit | edit source]

The second squad automatic gunner is the second to last member of the file. In event of an attack from behind or the flank, this gunner is likely to be out of the immediate kill zone, and is more likely to be able to lay down a base of suppressing fire. He also shares rear security and overhead security responsibility.

Rear security[edit | edit source]

The last man in the file is the rear security. He is primarily in charge of the rear field of fire in the file.

Line[edit | edit source]

Post Contact Engagement[edit | edit source]

Flank[edit | edit source]

The bold flanking maneuver is the staple of the military maneuver operations. By attacking the flank of an enemy unit, one divides the enemy attention to two fronts, lessening the effective firepower he can bring to bear, and typically bypassing enemy cover and concealment protection.

The flank has two elements:

Base of fire element[edit | edit source]

The base of fire element generally consists of the first element to engage in contact with the enemy. However, if one element possesses a significant fire advantage over another (for example, one fire team has a medium machine gun team attached, and the other does not), it should take over operations as the base of fire element.

The actions of the base of fire element are simple. It is to fix the enemy in place and suppress him with fire superiority. The base element should ensure that the enemy cannot maneuver, and it should attempt to suppress his visibility and fire opportunity. A strong base of fire provides excellent support cover for the Maneuver element. The base of fire also should attempt to ensure that the maneuver element is not seen by the enemy, or if it is, that the enemy cannot maneuver to react to the flank.

Upon contact, the element lays down a strong base of fire, gradually moving into a line sub-formation, while the maneuver element conducts their business.

At some point, the base element will need to be signalled to shift their fire off target as the maneuver team begins their assault, and then to lift fire entirely. Upon completion of the flank, the base element will continue past the now destroyed enemy to provide cover in the initial direction of travel, while also clearing any enemy threats on the objective that the maneuver element may have missed.

Maneuver element[edit | edit source]

The maneuver element, upon contact, endeavors not to be seen. If it is the lead element, it allows the base element to come onto line, then disengages to begin the flank. The element will drop back, typically 50 meters, but often more depending on visibility and foliage conditions, and begin a deep, bold flanking maneuver, around to a position at least perpendicular to that of the base element's field of fire. Once set in, they will begin an assault, signaling to the base element to shift fire off the target objective, in order to prevent . As the flanking team comes onto the objective, they signal again for the base team to lift fire completely, and again a final time after they have cleared across the objective and set into defensive positions, signaling for the base team to cross the objective.

The positions occupied by both teams after the maneuver are called "Limit of Advance".

Envelopment[edit | edit source]

Encircle/Double Envelopment[edit | edit source]

Spearhead/Frontal Assault[edit | edit source]

Further study[edit | edit source]

In later classes you will learn advanced variations on these, such as the long range reconnaissance patrol, paratrooper assault, amphibious landings, etc.

Project[edit | edit source]

Apply the lessons learned above to aerial formations, seperate out the non-combat formations, and list them above in a section for aerial.

Denouement[edit | edit source]

You should now be familiar with the types of Non-combat formations that are relevant to all kinds of units. Please help improve this class.