Commentary on Squad/Section Attacks
I had links to the following two Canadian Army articles sent in by a reader (links below). These are both excellent articles and summarize what I am teaching with Small Unit Tactics. They are a worthwhile read if you have a few minutes and a tactically interested mind. The details on squad attacks (known as ‘section’ attacks in the British and Canadian armies) are covered in detail in my manual: ‘Contact: A Tactical manual for Post Collapse Survival’
I also covered some of this topic in THIS POST on tactical use of terrain.
A little commentary on the articles:
The articles are detailed and self-explanatory. They chime in exactly with what I teach. When I begin running my patrol and SUT classes I will take students through more detail on squad attack tactics. For now, on the Combat Rifle / Contact Drills Course, once we have dialed in the basics of fire & movement and break contact drills, I run the students through an orchestrated live fire squad attack on a bunker on the Sunday evening. The purpose of this is to show the technique of a squad flanking attack. It illustrates the tactics and also shows what may be used against you.
The linked Canadian articles discuss the lost art of the section attack and the essential tactic of flanking. Deployment of infantry in armored vehicles and the proliferation of fully automatic weapons are largely blamed for this. There is a lot of truth in this. For example, armored infantry assault tactics are to approach the objective at speed with a mixture of main battle tanks (MBT) and armored personnel carriers (APC). The MBTs will adopt a position of fire support and flank protection while the APC’s will drive onto the objective. The APCs will stop slightly short of the enemy trench line while hosing the objective down utilizing their turret mounted chain guns. The APC door will drop and the infantry section will debus, the fire-teams moving out to the left and right of the APC. They will then assault directly onto the enemy objective to achieve the ‘break-in battle’. As they move forward they will occlude the fire from the APC and it will reverse out to a better position of fire support. This is all undertaken within an envelope of massive fire support, both preparatory fire and direct fire support as the troops fight onto and through the objective.
I spent my British Army career in light infantry/airborne style units. Much like the Ranger Regiment. It was essential to keep the solid basics of light infantry tactics alive. I am trying hard to communicate to you that I am not trying to bring you the latest armored infantry fad from Afghanistan. I am bringing you solid basics that are in many cases a lost art to our modern military. These things will prove essential to success in an SHTF or resistance situation where you are attempting to operate civilian tactical teams.
One commenter asked me why I bring so much from my British military background rather than my US Army service. There are several reasons for this, one being that my greater training and experience was in the British Army, and at a far higher speed and tactical level. When I bring you four man break contact drills, they are based on SAS four man team break contact drills. When I bring you section (squad) attacks, I am bringing a mixture of light infantry solid basics tied in with an ‘old school’ approach that is determined not to forget what works best.
That is why I detest FM ‘dogma warriors’. A mixture of real experience tied in with a historical tactical perspective is required. You also have to adapt what you are doing to a non-military SHTF or resistance fighter situation. That takes you away from the nasty place of forgotten tactics that the modern infantry is finding itself in (as per the linked articles) to the necessity of remembering and practicing good solid tactical basics with the weapons and equipment, the capabilities, that you have within your tactical team.
There are several elements to this. I touched on the topic of squad attacks being ‘drills’ in my post about ‘Rationalizing Training Drills with Combat Reality’. What you must realize that a section attack is not a pure drill. It needs input from leadership. It is a response to a situation that you encounter on the ground (whether you are doing a hasty or deliberate attack) and requires the leader to conduct a mental combat estimate before issuing rapid quick battle orders (QBOs) to initiate the attack.
The combat estimate is a rapid mental process to assess the location of the enemy in relation to the terrain and friendly forces, taking into account factors such as relative strengths, fields of fire, mutually supporting and depth positions. A plan must be determined to make best use of available terrain as covered approaches, supported by suppressing fire, to close with and destroy the enemy on the objective.
This takes an eye for the ground, an understanding of the mechanics of fire support and moving elements, and the ability to communicate and lead. This is where it departs from being a drill. It is only a drill in as much as when the squad leader shouts “X Fire Team, prepare to move left flanking!” the riflemen in that team will know what to prepare to do, what to expect.
The ability to read ground with an infantryman’s eye is essential. If you are to assault an enemy position you must be able to organize and move your fire support element into a suitable location and identify a covered approach with which to move your assault element to a flank. With the limited double envelopment, rather than a simple flank assault, you may initially move your fire support element to a flank, supported by the assault element, then move your assault element in the opposite direction. Given that the ideal angle between fire support and assault elements is 90 degrees it stands to reason that if you move the fire support element out to 45 degrees in one direction, and then the assault element moves out the other way by 45 degrees, you have achieved a 90 degree angle while utilizing what may be limited approaches on the available terrain.
Where I diverge for the article a little is in its criticism of the eight man section, split into two four man fire teams. It is not the squad of two four man fire teams with a squad assault weapon in each team that is the problem, it is with the forgetting of section tactics such as the flanking move in favor of a doctrine of massive ‘fire superiority’ and frontal attacks.
During my time in the British Army the size and composition of the section was constant source of debate and analysis. Should there be three four man fire-teams etc? This is where it not only does not matter, but it shows how you have the ability to adapt to what you have in an SHTF situation. If you have a four man tactical team, then you are spit into two two man buddy teams. If you had to mount an attack, they are effectively your fire teams, one to flank while the other supports. If you had more numbers, you could have a six man squad with two three man fire teams, or three two man fire teams. You need to task organize and run rehearsals and drills to suit your personal situation. If you are travelling in vehicles, then the vehicle crews, whether two, three or four man crews, become the maneuver elements if you have to dismount and assault or break contact.
You have to be flexible and adapt to the situation. Stop reading FMs and read a practical manual such as ‘Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival’ – it was written for the express purpose – then get some practical training.
If you have greater numbers, then you could have a squad of six or eight, split into two fire teams, or you could have three fire teams perhaps of three of four persons. The three fire team task organization allows you to conduct satellite patrolling as laid out in ‘Contact!’. It would also allow you greater flexibility in a squad attack – you have three four man elements, which allows you to follow the assault cycle of each element rotating through fire support – assault – reserve. This is normally done at the lowest at platoon level, with each squad rotating through the cycle in an echelon style attack (echelon = in series i.e. a squad assaulting and then the next one moving to the next objective). Or you use the reserve element for flank protection. Or have two elements in fire support. Or two elements in assault. Get the picture? This is where it departs from drills and becomes dependent on what you have and what you need to achieve.
But remember, if you come up with these specific size groups and squads, then you need to rehearse, train and drill the specific SOPs into your guys, or it will all go for a ball of chalk. Back to training and drills. Drills are nothing without competent combat leadership and training. This is also where your tacticool ‘all stand in a line’ training on square ranges falls desperately short of being adequate for combat training. Unless your idea of combat is to stand in a line and fire volleys at the redcoats from your muzzle loader?
Going back to the need to train in accurate effective suppressing fire, and to assault from a flank, this will become essential in any SHTF or resistance fighter situation. This is where you need to be in touch with, and train hard at, the real effective light infantry tactics that should be your bread and butter. You won’t have the massive amounts of fire power and fire support that modern infantry are used to, and which has caused the dumbing down of tactical ability at section/squad level in the military.
The foundation of this will be competent tactical teams that are trained in realistic and effective small unit tactics. They need to be physically fit and robust to spend a lot of time simply existing out there before they are called upon to do any of this. They need to endure, the real basis of endurance. Bottom line, the resistance or your SHTF tactical team must be able to endure out there and then perform in a physically robust manner with solid battle tactics when required.
With these sort of solid tactics you will run rings around any federalized militarized goon squad, whatever firepower or armored vehicles they have. Just don’t get in front of them when they perform a Beirut unload on full automatic. Although you should never underestimate your enemy, and no doubt there are high speed guys among them, but these types are so massively hamstrung by their focus on ‘CQB’ and being ‘operators’, their lack of fitness and huge amounts of tacticool gear, and their lack of understanding of good solid infantry tactics. Get these guys out in the woods and they are lost.
The basis of this ability to endure and to perform when required despite being cold wet and hungry is your unit morale. Morale is not based on whether or not, for example you got the MRE with the M&Ms in it that day. No, it is a deeper thing and goes down to self-motivation, determination and will to win. Morale is that slow burning determination and aggression that you harbor deep with in you. Controlled aggression as it is sometimes called. You have to be able to bring it out when required. This is not the same as being a yes man, full of false motivation and command watching bravado. If I, and any other soldiers I used to know, are not complaining about anything and everything, then we are not happy. A silent soldier is one to be worried about. If its all “gopping shit”, then all is good. When the ‘chuntering’ stops, it should be because there is a call to action, at which point it should be nothing but professional fighting. Of course, having a good chunter, a good bitch, a good bit of black humor, is not the same as whining like a baby over stuff, like a blister, which should result in a swift smack to the head.
If you think SHTF is going to be easy, or the resistance fight is going to be easy, then forget it. Get used to wallowing in shit and misery. Embrace it, embrace the suck. Learn to love it. Make fun of it. Then you will win.
“Boots fit, mail getting through?”
All good then.
I often see smug people out there, commenting on blogs. Apparently they have it all. They have the solution, they have the killer bees. They have the perfect prepper set up. They are all about looking after number one, and number one only. Most likely, they are the prepper-coward type, hiding away. In fact, they are selfish to a cloying degree.Well, I don’t have all that, but I have been trying, and I will do my best to muddle through. Of course, there is nothing wrong with planning to protect and hide your family from the troubles – I recommend that as a course of action. However, if I can secure my family, I’ll throw a ruck on and go fight the bad guys. And I know this – all the selfish little ‘number ones’ hiding away counting their dehydrated bags of food and silver, paying lip service to tactics and defense, deluding themselves, are totally psychologically unprepared for any dislocation of expectations such as may occur by a drone strike on their retreat, or a determined attack by any sort of tactically competent opposing force. These guys are not in the resistance, they will not fight tyranny, and they expect to crawl out of their holes after all is done and inherit the earth.
It’s called the selection-destruction cycle – the better, more motivated, more competent candidates self-select into the more risky units and stand less chance of survival, leaving those that could not or did not to inherit what is left after the war.
Here are the linked articles:
…..we exchanged a methodology for the section attack that was based on manoeuvre, tactics and aimed fire for one based on speed, simplicity and volume of fire…..
…..The strength of the flanking tactic lies in the stable and continuous fire support provided by the firebase, as well as in the relative strength of the assault element. When necessary, the section commander can detach one or more riflemen to guard an exposed flank on the approach to protect the execution of the original task. If this secondary target is the section’s next objective, then this detachment then forms the initial foot-on-the-ground for the next assault……
Live Hard, Die Free.