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Thinking about the Infantry Attack

Infanteer

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Just wanted to get the ball rolling on some reflection on the bread and butter of the Infantry; the section attack.

As a preamble, I'll offer up the reason why.   Does anyone feel that perhaps we constrain the initiative and reactive abilities of our commanders at the lowest levels, namely the Sergeants and Corporals running the Infantry Section.   The confinement to one technique of destroying the enemy, the frontal assault, could lead us to doctrinal ossification in peacetime and excessive casualties in war.

From my own experience, I've never been involved in a section or platoon attack that has deviated from the full frontal assault (Section/Group/Teams in Extended Line).   The attacks always seem to orient on a piece of ground and try to set in motion a "steam roller" concept based on volume of fire.   To compound the problem, our training methods only reinforce the concept; we fight unthinking OPFOR that is planted by the OC's ahead of the advancing force's axis of advance, only to sit and plink away at the attackers as they repeat attack after attack; even if the platoon or company performs a flanking attack, it is in a full frontal assault (ie: lined up in perfect formation for enfilading fire from depth positions).   How would are small unit tactics hold up to a thinking, fighting OPFOR (in force-on-force exercises) that refused to stay put for an oncoming company, rather exercising rear guard actions, delaying tactics, and counterattacks; in other words reacting to how we are fighting them?

The worst problem may be that this is being ingrained in our junior leadership training.   Time constraints combined with an inflexible doctrine ensure that potential section commanders, rather then being taught to to think their way through each attack, are simply checked off on their ability to react and call out the preset commands at the preset times.   It seems like this may be faulty thinking considering every small unit action has its own unique circumstances based upon terrain, supporting elements, enemy dispositions, etc, etc.

Anyways, much of what I have mentioned is covered in the following two articles that may serve as good tactical primer to the discussion.   The first is a two part article by Captain Michael O'Leary, a member of the staff here, that can be found at his personal webpage.   It refers specifically to the Canadian context and should probably be required reading for all prospective section commanders:

Here is Part I:
http://regimentalrogue.tripod.com/papers/sect_atk.htm

Here is Part II:
http://regimentalrogue.tripod.com/papers/sect_atk_part2.htm

The second primer is from William S Lind's Maneuver Warfare Handbook.   Since it is a rather significant excerpt from the book, I'll give the proper academic reference of sourcing:

pgs 25-28 of Lind, William S.   Maneuver Warfare Handbook.   Boulder, CO, Westview Studies in Military Affairs; 1985.

Find it here:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/086531862X/qid=1092699744/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002-5837602-8634416?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

The book is an excellent "aide memoir" on the principles of fighting a decentralized, fluid "maneuverist" battle; the author geared his book toward the United States Marine Corps, but the elements of his ideas are applicable to the Profession of Arms as a whole.   This section is from Chapter 3, titled Techniques and Organization. It is a bit long, so read it at your own leisure.
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Although combat experience should indicate otherwise, the rifle squad currently occupies a relatively minor place in Marine Corps tactical thought.   Squad level training and doctrine seem to suggest that the squad has little independent tactical value.   The squad has been relegated to the role of a subunit whose movements are closely controlled by the platoon commander.

Considered in terms of maneuver warfare, this attitude is disastrous.   Because it is often at the point of contact, the squad must be able to react rapidly to changing situations and to seek out enemy weaknesses.   This initiative, for which the German Stosstruppen became famous, demands that the squad assume a primary tactical role and that its organization and training be based on more than movement formations.

The basic structure of the rifle squad should be simple and should reflect the level of initiative expected.   Rather than having two symmetrical teams, as exist now, the squad should be organized into a probing team and a support team.   The probing team, composed of riflemen and grenadiers, should act as the probing, breeching, and, where necessary, assault element.   The support team, armed with the squad automatic weapon and grenade launchers, should provide the firepower to suppress the enemy opposition.

-Maneuver Squad Organization
-1 x Squad Leader
--Support Team
---1 x Team Leader
---2 x Grenadiers
---2 x LMG's
--Probing Team
---1 x Team Leader
---2 x Grenadier
---2 x Riflemen

Although for administrative purposes the squad may have a set structure, the squad leader should task organize his squad according to the situation.   For example, if moving through wooded terrain and uncertain of enemy locations, the squad leader might opt to place only the team leader, a rifleman, and a grenadier in the probing team, reserving the bulk of his strength to exploit the situation as it develops.   If reinforced with an anti-tank missile or a machine gun, the squad leader might again realign his squad, while retaining the functional team structure.   The simplicity of this organization allows the squad leader to react to changing situations without seeking higher level support and approval.

Some of the techniques employed by a squad organized this way will differ from those currently in use.   Most significant, only one basic formation will be needed - the overwatch column.   Much like the squad formation employed by the Army for the past decade, the overwatch column places the probing team forward and the support team to the rear.   Distances between the two vary depending upon the situation.   Individuals within the teams will be positioned by the team leader to meet tactical requirements.

The overwatch column contrasts sharply with existing doctrine, which has the squad shifting through many complex formations attempting to adjust to changing circumstances.   The advantage lies in the simplicity of the formation, which enables the squad leader to concentrate on fighting the enemy rather than controlling the gyrations of his squad.   The teams, specifically organized as fire and maneuver elements, will require minimal control during those crucial initial seconds under fire.

While dividing the squad into two task-oriented teams would appear to separate fire and maneuver, the opposite is in fact true.   Each team, organized and trained for specific tasks, will quickly come to rely on the other for tactical success.   The probing team, being more lightly armed, will search for an immediate, close range threat.   The support team, keyed to the movements of the probing team, being more will position its suppressive fire, either by rapidly shifting fires or by physical displacement, so as to present the enemy with a longer range, equally dangerous threat.   Individually, the two teams present easily counterable menaces; together, they become a combined arms team requiring the enemy to expose himself to one in order to combat the other.

The concept of combined arms can be expanded to the platoon and company level, with one important change.   In addition to forming probing - or at the platoon and company level, penetrating - and support elements, the commander also must form an exploitation element.   While this may sound like current doctrine, which calls for a maneuver element, a base of fire, and a reserve, it is conceptually quite different.   The penetrating element should be as small as possible, seldom more than a reinforced squad.   Its mission is breaching the enemy defence.   Once it has found or created a gap, the exploitation element, containing the bulk of the unit, should push through and expand both laterally and in depth to destroy the enemy position from the rear.   The support element, having suppressed the enemy so the penetrating and exploitation elements could succeed, then shifts its fires forward and to the flanks, supporting the exploitation and enabling the penetration element to continue probing.   At the platoon level this process of probing, penetrating and exploiting will generally be carried out on a single axis.   At the company level, two or three separate penetrating elements may advance simultaneously, with the commander committing his exploitation element where the penetrating element has the greatest success.

This technique requires decentralization of control.   Penetrating elements advance semi-independently, their actions guided by their missions, with control measures limited to zones of action and, sometimes (but not often), limits of advance.   Squad leadership demands initiative and boldness.   The platoon and company commanders, rather than attempting to control squad movement, make the critical timing decisions on when to commit the exploitation element or, at the company level, shift the Schwerpunkt (main effort) from one penetrating element to another.

To enable all three elements to carry out their missions, task organization is essential.   Penetrating elements, particularly those facing prepared positions, may need combat engineer, machine gun, or light mortar support to provide immediate suppression.   Exploitation elements may need anti-tank teams, mortars, and artillery.   Most situationswill entail cross-attachment, dedicated fire support (to include aviation), and minimal, by-exception control measures.   In no other way will small unit leaders be able to create and capitalize on momentary enemy weakness.
 

Jarnhamar

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To compound the problem, our training methods only reinforce the concept; we fight unthinking OPFOR that is planted by the OC's ahead of the advancing force's axis of advance, only to sit and plink away at the attackers as they repeat attack after attack; even if the platoon or company performs a flanking attack, it is in a full frontal assault (ie: lined up in perfect formation for enfilading fire from depth positions).   How would are small unit tactics hold up to a thinking, fighting OPFOR (in force-on-force exercises) that refused to stay put for an oncoming company, rather exercising rear guard actions, delaying tactics, and counterattacks; in other words reacting to how we are fighting them?

I have a little input comming from an OPFOR point of view.   On an excersise down in the states with miles gear, i was put in charge of a section of enemy force of 6 or 7 guys, 4 or 5 of whom were recruits. (facing a platoon)   While being placed by one of the officers (Stand here here and here and when you see the platoon act like a dummy by standing up and shooting off into the air). The officer caught me shaking my head a little and instead of destroying me he asked what the problem was and i was honest. "Were not really representing an intelligent enemy sir"   he gave it some thought and told me for the rest of the excersise, place the guys myself and react how i think an enemy would.

-Instead of putting our trenches out in the middle of the field, we used cover.
-Our "trenches" (fighting positions really) were often off angle to the line of advance.
-We would use kill zones and only fire when the lead section was right on top of us.
-We would have a position a little ways behind so after the attack and consolidation, the secondary trenches would open fire (I tried to do it during the ammo cas)
-I had everyone aim for the platoon commander first or if it was a section attack, aim for the section commander.
-During a section attack if my guys were still alive and the good guys were getting close (team or group movement), i had them pop smoke and pull back to a secondary position and when the team would clear the trench, ambush them.
-Sometimes in heavy cover or at night i'd have my guys shout and yell ,inclusing messed up commands to throw off the attackers. (retreat, ambush left, pull back, cease fire etc.. That was pretty cheap though)
-Some guys surrendered, some ran away

We pissed off a lot of guys doing that. A mix of looking bad and having to work 3 times as hard to clear a trench.  
The section commanders would often die before half of the section attack was done and it wasn't uncommon for our 2 man opfor team to leave 1 or 2 guys in a section alive at the end of the fight, if not wiping them out completly. The PC ended up telling us to lighten up and let the section commanders do their stuff but made sure to mention it in the after action debreif.

My opinion, "Stupid opfor" works with recruits so they get the basics down. Once troops are trained the 'enemy' should fight with the same intelligence, morale and skill as the 'good guys' do. Anything less and we're cheating ourselves. Sending our guys into harms way expecting the bad guy to fire off shots in the air giving away their position and wait in their trench for the "steam roller" to come is going to get our guys hurt.   In the future we'll likely have better equipment and training than our enemy but i'm willing to bet they have more time under their belt shooting at humans, and not with lasers chalk rounds or blanks.
 

Gunnerlove

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Technology such as Simunitions and MILES gear do something the army does not really like.
They show failures of leadership and tactics. It is very difficult to say your assault was a success when you have no men left and you miles gear is beeping. When we train against a reactive thinking enemy we train to think and react to the changing situation. We will never get that from a bunch of figure 11s stuck in trenches. I love having the leash taken off and being let loose as enemy force and always find it odd that I catch shit for baiting my enemy when that is what a real enemy would do. 

One of my major beefs with the lack of a WES system is the lack of realtime feed back for the troops from the lowest private on up. Just watching troops fire blanks at the enemy in a skirmish drives me nuts as for the most part it is point and pull the trigger. Why aim when you have no chance of hitting your target? Now with MILES gear the troops can actually get "kills" and that instant feedback/reward is what will drive our troops to develop their marksmanship under stressful conditions (the only conditions that count) as well as conditioning them to engage the enemy if they actually end up on a two way range. 

And yes I know the limitations of MILES gear but until I see something better is widespread I will want greater access to it.
 

pbi

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"My opinion, "Stupid opfor" works with recruits so they get the basics down. Once troops are trained the 'enemy' should fight with the same intelligence, morale and skill as the 'good guys' do. Anything less and we're cheating ourselves. Sending our guys into harms way expecting the bad guy to fire off shots in the air giving away their position and wait in their trench for the "steam roller" to come is going to get our guys hurt.   In the future we'll likely have better equipment and training than our enemy but i'm willing to bet they have more time under their belt shooting at humans, and not with lasers chalk rounds or blanks."

Truer words were never spoken, except maybe for the old saying "train the way you fight, fight the way you train". MILES and other WES are invaluable and we should be spending every spare penny to get more. I remember, back around 1992, seeing my first MILES attack. It was an assault on a defensive position by a dismounted rifle coy. The position was held by about a section. The slaughter inflicted on the assaulting company was fearsome to behold. A few things I recall:

-almost all the leaders were dead within a few minutes, leaving 2ICs and then Cpls and Ptes to lead. This showed me very clearly why all ranks must understand the commander's intent, and why we should work to develop basic leadership ability in all soldiers;

-cohesion and command and control became very difficult, as leaders could no longer stand up, walk around, or wave their arms as they had been fond of doing in their pre-MILES days (days which, I might add, passed on many fatally bad habits...);

-a small group of defenders, well positioned and supplied with lots of automatic weapons, did terrible execution against a larger exposed enemy;   and

-the one medic in the company was swamped very quickly. A company needs one   medic per platoon, with lots of troops trained as combat lifesavers.

It was a huge eye-opener, and it immediately converted me to the value of MILES, even in its very early variant. In my opinion, no troops should be considered operationally ready if they have not completed a combination of live fire and MILES exercises. Cheers.
 

Infanteer

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Ghost, excellent post; a theoretical debate is strengthend by a great degree when it is backed by hard, first-hand experience.   Two points come to mind from your anecdote.

1)   You probably learned more about section command in your assignment as the commander of an enemy force section then you would in the constrained, evaluated environment of a Leadership course.   Given the freedom to experiment with different approaches to the section in the defence, you were able to adapt your tactics and techniques to each unique and fluid combat simulation.   This highlights the importance of the idea of Free Play in combat training from section level up to brigade.   Since this is on the topic of the section attack, we'll keep it focused there.  
Yes, it is important to use "textbook", canned scenario's in order to give potential section commanders the necessary techniques in commanding a section (communication, fire control orders, section maneuver), but I would contend that this is only half of the requirement for training section commanders.   The other half, the tactical component, must be exercised through Free Play, in which both the Attacking Force and the Defending Force are free to experiment with the section in accordance with the particular mission given to them by their Course Officer or Course Warrant; at this point the Course Staff serves to observe, provide guidance, and critique and grade the ability of a soldier in commanding a section.  
The technique portion of the course can be evaluated by the traditional "check in the box" means (yes he gave orders correctly, no he did not effectively make use of his 2ic, yes she gave good fire control commands) while the tactical element should be evaluated by more qualitative means (yes, he make timely decisions and was able to provide a coherent explanation for his choice, no he did not present a sufficient command presence to move his section through the battle, etc).   Obviously, more quantitative means can be used to provide empirical backup to staff evaluations (MILES gear shows section wiped out = poor command decisions, run out of ammo in middle of attack = insufficient management of section supply levels)
Ultimately, Free Play forces student commanders to face eachother and act as thinking and reactive opposing forces.   This stresses initiative and decisive action by the section commanders to ensure they can react to their "thinking" enemy; to prepare students for success in Free Play training scenario's, section level tactics and techniques must be taught with the endstate of how to think, act, and react rather then what to do according to "the book."

2)   You said that you pissed off alot of guys by acting as a "thinking" OPFOR instead of just sitting around and waiting for the Seven Steps of Battle Procedure to descend upon your unfortunate position.   Good on you, because to me your actions injected a great deal of friction into your opponents decision cycle.   Perhaps the frustration with your tactics was a sign that PBI's assessment that we've passed on "fatally bad habits" is indeed correct.
The dictum "train as you would fight" demands that we introduce as much of the friction of the battlefield as we can safely and effectively do.   Only then will the soldiers and leaders of small units recognize the many different sources of friction and become more acquainted on how to incorporate this friction into their decision cycle.   I'm looking through your points and I can see that you introduced the following elements of friction into your training battles through your tactics and aided by the MILES gear:
-uncertainty (you put your trenches in concealed locations and away from the axis of advance)
-casualties (you would initiate fires at close range to wipe out the lead section)
-loss of leadership elements (you would target Platoon and Section commanders)
-changes in enemy tactics (you would launch delaying moves and counterattacks)
-confusion (you would deliberatly attempt to confuse the enemy through yelling commands)
Obviously, anyone who's read any detailed studies of small unit actions (Blackhawk Down would be a good example) knows that these examples of friction, along with others, are part and parcel of battle.   To train without these elements is setting the section commander to be overwhelmed by the uncertainties in battle that will descend upon the "textbook" solution he is trying to administer.   Through Free Play and other methods available to the Staff, friction can be brought in as an essential tool in challenging and assessing Section Commanders in training.
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As for the points PBI and Gunnerlove bring up; the importance of WES in their ability to provide instantaneous results and feedback to soldiers on the actions they performed is invaluable.   A well ordered and cleanly administered section attack, which would pass under our current system, would be taken in a different manner if the entire section was wiped out on its approach to the enemy position.
This clearly points out the importance of acquiring WES for leadership training; it should be considered along with weapons, ammo and stores as essential to properly evaluating the students and completing the course.
 

Ex-Dragoon

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Sorry if this is hijacking your thread Infanteer but does todays current organization of a section meet the needs on todays battlefields?
 

Jarnhamar

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I hope I'm not railroading your thread branching off a little.
Regarding your first point Infanteer I think a big issue dealing with intelligent enemy force (at the corporal/master corporal level, reserves anyways) is mature soldiers.   We've all seen what can happen when a dummy gets put in charge of troops. Someone gets put it charge and it goes to their head and things get out of hand very fast. They not only hang themselves with the rope their given but their buddies too.

"attacking" a position while standing on the top of an LS, taking off the BFA so shots are louder, putting dirt inside a thunder flash, removing the whistle from an arty-sim, wearing dumb costumes, shouting out *stupid* comments, fishing instead of manning an OP, running around and being invincible. You name it. This is where (drawing from another thread) a corporal irregardless of being in charge of his or her buddies, has to step up to the plate and be an NCO.   Ideally a Sgt would be an enemy force section commander with a MCpl as a 2iC but it's often a corporal is put in charge. If our junior leaders act like children we can't expect the leadership to trust them with troops, let alone making decisions for themselves.

Regarding thinking enemy, heres another example I have which i think is a very good one. I'll try to keep it short. (Most of my input just comes through examples heh)
As enemy force for JLC students in the defensive role, i had to put in two attacks. The students were digging trenches in the middle of a field, we drove up the road in an LS, dismounted, formed an extended line and walked up to the trenches and attacked, clover leafing around them to give everyone a chance to shoot us up. They saw us kilometers away. A single rifleman could have took us all out. 3/4ths of the way through the DSS staff said "alright guys, thats enough take off" so we stood up and went back to the truck.
Pretty straight forward.
On the second attack we had an idea. To the side of the platoons position was a high mound   a good 150 meters long, maybe more. (anyone who's been to the matawa plains knows what I'm talking about, near the tower). We thought we should sneak up.   I passed the idea by the DS staff and they said sure but if we *ucked around we'd be charged. (fair enough). When the time came we drove the LS out near the position, left it in a depression in the ground and with the mound blocking the platoons sight of us, walked up to the mound. (Just to point out, out of 8 i was the only infantry soldier there, the rest were armored, artillery and service guys, not one of them ever did a propper section attack). Breaking the group into 2 teams of 4, the plan was to use group movement attacking the trenchs, firing off our ammo then withdrawing 4 by 4, covering each other in bounds.   It went off perfectly. We lobbed smoke grenades over the mound which covered us and in teams we charged over the top in teams shooting at them in a pathetic looking section attack. We fired off some mags and then withdrew back the way we came using smoke grenades.
I wouldn't try to pass ourselves off as highspeed in any sense of the word but we completely took them off guard.   (Mind you this was day 4 of a field ex with little sleep of food for them, in their defense).
After the smoke grenades went off and we charged at them shooting guys were STILL digging their trenches. They had no idea what was going on. Even half way through the battle they were still confused and didn't seem to know what was happening.We took a few trenches and fought from there. The DS staff threw tear gas into the mix to make it even more fun. (I had an armored private think he was immune to the stuff and tried running through it like a hero without a mask, we had to drag him out of the green cloud heh).   We withdraw and to their credit they counter attacked the hill we were hiding behind but only after 15 minutes and us expending all our ammo from the mound, we were well on our way back to the LS. A last point. I was ordered not to have any of my guys be taken prisoner by the DS (they had to die or run). Of of my guys lost his bushhat so i sent him walking back to get it and told him to make sure they know the attack was over that he was just getting his bush hat, he didn't have a rifle. They took him prisoner anyways but they had no idea what to do with him, he wasn't even searched.

The point behind my example. They simply did not expect to fight an enemy that they were not wrned about 10 minutes in advance. The guys did fine when they saw the enemy force 2 KMs away and walking up the field like sheep. They saw us comming and had time to prepare.   When they were suddenly attacked, without warning, they didn't know how to react. These were trained privates and corporals selected for a leadership course. I understand the need to get the basics down and run through the drills but i honestly think with our training were getting into a rut.   We engage the enemylike it's a turkey shoot. The bad guys are placed right infront of us and we "kill" them then pat ourselves on the back for excellent work, when thats just not how it happens.

I really think we need to break out of this canned enemy ideal and I think we need to do a lot more, as you eluded to, than just check off a box saying private so and so did this. He was there so now he's qualified. We need to train our guys to think on their own and not just use what they read in a manual verbatim. Other wise were getting leaders using 'parade square section attacks' in the field which just doesn't work.
 

pegged

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I'm glad this topic was brought up. Constantly on my SQ I was very very curious about a casualty amount during a section attack. The only justification I could come up with was that there is a possibility with the amount of fire going downrange, the enemy won't stick their head up. That's a longshot though, because as stated in the first post, their could be counter-attacks and the like. I liked training and doing the section attack but I really wasn't sure how effective they were. Made me say to myself, "Ah I shouldn't question it, the Army has been doing these for years and know what they are doing." Have any of you had any overseas experience with a section attack in a real firefight?
 

Brad Sallows

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And that pinpoints the one thing WES can't easily do: suppress defenders.  WES are of course better than none at all, but there is still an important lesson being missed if the effective use of suppressive fires (direct or indirect means) can't be demonstrated or employed.  I am curious: with MILES gear, do defenders fire from cover with relative impunity except from well-aimed direct fire, or do umpires stand behind the defensive position and intermittently shine some sort of "god" flashlight over parts of the position to attempt to model, say, mortar fire?
 

Kirkhill

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Brad

These two reports on WES describe the Area Weapons Effect Simulations as well as the DFWES.  Everything  from hand grenades and mines to "Razzle Dazzle" effects.


http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/community/mapleleaf/html_files/html_view_e.asp?page=vol7-14army#e2
http://www.forces.gc.ca/dless/wes/questions_e.html

Cheers
 

Infanteer

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Brad:

MILES is only one form of WES (this is unofficial jargon I'm using).   Simunition, essentially "high speed paintball", is another form used by the Army.   With a simunition round (and the pain from getting hit by one), many of the issues you brought up regarding MILES can be addressed.   Although there are tradeoffs in using Simunition as opposed to MILES; both are very useful training tools and either is more effective then just running through the fields popping off blanks.
 

Slim

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Please all, don't laugh when I ask this but I'm a little curious...

Has anyone (read:unit) ever measured, or attempted to measure, the effects of accurate sniper fire on an advancing unit using MILES gear? Could a sniper/observer team render a unit non-functional? and how big would the unit have to be before they could overcome effective enemy fire and destroy the sniper/observer team?

It strikes me as incredibly relevant and a method that has been used in the Balkans during Peacekeeping ops by both sides. I imagine that, as we deploy around the world, we will see more "small unit engagement" of this sort.

An interesting training problem that could easily be gamed out using current training equipment. (MILES gear)

Slim
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Yes a sniper det can easily deter a coy size (they are what you call a force multiplier).   They can easily bring an attack to a dead stop.   I have been on a few good attacks where the staff purposely killed off the leadership or C9's.   Although I don't think its practiced much a infanteer should at least know the job one level up from himself.   I also find that a section that has a lot of cohesion can overcome a lot of obstacles in the short term.  
The idea of enemy force playing dumb is so that the troops can get the basic skills down.   Unfortunately the more advance skills are never really followed up.
There is also the doctrine that we use overwhelming numbers to take out said positions.
 

Slim

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There should be a point in which the commander would say "ok, we've got the basics down...Now lets carry on with some advanced level training." Whether everyone has caught on or not.

At that point the orders to the enemy force aught to be "do your best to kill as may troopies as you can, using any method at your disposal." (This would include ambushes, lay back shooters, mines and booby traps, the works!)

One of the things I have constantly heard is that troops are never really trained for war, unless the commander is very bright or forward thinking (although, from personal experience, those do tend to get stepped on!)

It shouldn't be hard to develop in practice.

Slim :D
 

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Slim said:
Could a sniper/observer team render a unit non-functional? and how big would the unit have to be before they could overcome effective enemy fire and destroy the sniper/observer team?

Slim,
While he was an extrordinary person and sniper, Carlos Hathcock was credited with holding off and killing most of a platoon, of NVA regulars, during Viet Nam. Excerpt below:



GySgt. Hathcock and his spotter held an entire
full strength NVA Platoon (confirmed) at bay
for well over 24 hours
GySgt. Hathcock and his spotter, armed with an M-14
shot nearly everyone that tried to escape
When darkness fell, they called in illumination flares
to illuminate the target area, trapping those on the run
in open territory, making the running NVA easy targets

In short, to answer your question, yes they can.
 

Slim

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recceguy said:
Slim,
While he was an extrordinary person and sniper, Carlos Hathcock was credited with holding off and killing most of a platoon, of NVA regulars, during Viet Nam.

Hey

Yah, that book is what got me to thinking about the question in the first place. (good book by the way, I own a copy and read it every so often)

I'm wondering whether anyone has actually tried this using miles gear or some other type of training aid? The closest I ever got to infantry stuff was Assault Troop and they don't have snipers. (not the LdSH(RC) when I was there anyway)

Slim

 

MJP

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During URBAN RAM in 2001, using the new miles 2000 stuff(much much better than regular miles gear), snipers proved their collective worth a few times.  They got some impressive kills %'s during the ex(MILES 2000 lets shows hits).
 

Slim

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Does the MILES 200 gear suffer from close range misses due to the laser not spreading out enough? I've heard of guys being shot almost point-blank and the system not going off...

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Infanteer

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Well, I want to kickstart this thread with an interesting quote from On Infantry:

The most brilliant plan devised by the most capable general depends for its tactical execution on the section-leaders.  Poor section-leaders may ruin the best-laid plans; first rate section leaders will often save badly devised plans.  This for one simple reason: the section-leader is the sole level of command that maintains constant and direct contact with the men who bear the brunt of the actual fighting.  It follows, then, that the section-leader is to be trained as a tactical commander and as an educator of his men.  [In the Israeli Army]...section-leaders are trained to command independently in the field in every instance in which they are required to operate alone with their units.  In "regular combat", moreover, when the section-leader acts within the framework of his platoon and under orders from his superior officer, he still requires a high standard of knowledge and an ability to sum up the situation.  Modern fire-power and the development of tactical atomic weapons may compel armies to operate in small, dispersed formations both in attack and defence...All levels of command must therefore be trained to think and act independently whenever circumstances demand that they should, and section-leaders are no exception to this rule.  Besides, modern weapons which provide small groups of men with greater firepower and more flexibility of movement, call for a high standard of command at all levels.  The section-leader is therefore to be trained technically as an officer, no as a corporal.

General Yigael Allon of the IDF


I am drawing a few conclusions from this excellent analysis of the Infantry section.

1)  The ever increasing lethality of modern firepower leads to further diffusion on the battlefield.  The space in which a battalion once occupied is today held by a platoon.  As such, the Infantry Section can be expected to fight battles on its own; purposefully as the spearhead for a company and platoon, or inadvertently through separation from its higher headquarters during the heat of battle.  The excuse to not exercise the section as a tactical unit of maneuver due to the fact that "a section will never do anything on its own" is simply invalid and pays no heed to the lessons of history.  Thus, Canadian doctrine should espouse the Infantry Section as the smallest unit of maneuver and give the Section Commanders the abilities to fight their sections as the situation dictates.

2)  Conversely, section level fighting does not exist in a vacuum.  Eight to ten men simply do not fight for the sake of fighting; small-unit combat is oriented to the goals of higher headquarters.  As such, the Section commander needs to learn the tactical framework in which his superior Officers fight their platoons and companies in.  Going on the "two-levels-up" principle, potential Section commanders should begin by learning how to fight with a company, then a platoon, and finally the section.  After that, the detailed tactics and techniques can be taught to a soldier who has been taught how to place these techniques in a larger concept of operations.  When a Section commander is given his Mission Orders, dictated by the Commander's Intent, he can get a full appreciation what he should fight his company towards (and depending on the friction of war, assume higher command as required).

3)  The Infantry Section is commanded by an NCO (In our case, a Sergeant or a Corporal).  I think that the unique fact that it is the only level of command that an NCO is responsible for is directly related to the fact that the Section Commander is the only commander who leads troops into battle, rather then units.  A Company commander has his platoons, while a Platoon commander maneuvers his sections, but the Section commander fights with his troops.  Does anyone else see this, and what, if any, implications would come from it with regards to training of sections, etc, etc.

4)  Allon alludes to the framework of training of techniques and tactics of commanding a Section to soldiers as one resembling the training of an Officer as opposed to a Corporal (NCO).  I think this comment drives at the idea that we should view NCO's as more then simply supervisors of troops and the maintainers of discipline.  With a greater system of training for section commanders which puts them on the level of commander (I guess the same could be said for a Tank Commander or a Gun Commander), does anyone see an expanded role for NCO's within the Staff and Planning at the unit level.  PBI, I know you've brought this up a few times, perhaps you'd like to expand on it?  What I am getting at is perhaps that the training of Section Commanders, and thus the training of NCO's, should underline the word Officer in the term Non-Commissioned Officer.

No, I do not advocate mixing the two levels or merging their responsibilities.  I am just alluding to the fact that a greater emphasis of initiative and maneuver at the lowest level of command, the level held by the NCO, means that there could be more to be gained from the NCO Corps of an Army.


Anyways, I'm interested to hear anyone else's thoughts.

Infanteer
 

excoelis

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More food for thought.........

On all the operations I have been on it was predominantly the Infantry section that conducted day to day operations.  Granted they operate within the framework of a much bigger picture, but where the rubber meets the road it is their asses on the line.  Pl, Coy, and higher operations where conducted monthly or at times weekly, but the fact still remains that the Section Commander and his boys bore the brunt of the workload, and they where expected to beat feet on a daily basis.  In the case of Afghanistan it was interesting to note how much of the 'quality of life' resources they had the time to enjoy between battle procedure, patrolling, post patrol drills, and MAYBE some forced rest before the vicious cycle started again.  Therefore, one could reasonably surmise that the success of the mission could ultimately depend on the effective operation of the sections.  IMO, another reason why the Section Commander and the members of his section need the ability to adapt, think, and fight on their own. 
 
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