Danish Infantry ‘Saloon Door’ Attack Technique

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    • #124580

        This was raised by Dave in another thread, playing off something I had said at the CLC when the class was faced with a somewhat complex system of enemy defenses. I had been trying to explain that it does no good to attack from a flank if there are further enemy in depth who have an enfilade shoot onto your flanking attack forces. In that case, you have to suppress them. In terms of the numbers of people available at the CLC, that would involve part of the fireteam being a ‘point of fire’ suppressing the depth. This is covered in the tactical manual.

        There was also a position of ‘bunkers’ (deadfall-built positions) where there was, from the attackers perceptive, a forward bunker and then further in depth a line of bunkers. This made the line of bunkers in depth ideal to be rolled up from one side or another by a flank attack. But the central forward bunker was an issue – it would do not good to attack it from the flank, and come under fire from the line of 3 depth bunkers, as happened, to the loss of several students. What needed to happen was suppress the depth on each side, and then attack forward onto the forward bunker. Once that was taken, the flank attack was ideal to roll up the depth.

        This is all use of the assault cycle to utilize available forces to assault, suppress and reserve / flank protection as needed. It just so happens that I have been in touch with Lars, a former Danish Infantry Officer, who had seen some of my videos and wanted to bring up some concepts that the Danish Infantry uses. I had never heard this termed the ‘Saloon Door’ attack before. He sent me a couple of PowerPoint that I will attempt to attach. They have graphics so you need to download and open as a slideshow so it will play the widgets for you.


        Contrary to standard teaching for the British and US Army, this Saloon Door technique will utilize a three element formation (based on a platoon of 3 squads) to suppress the enemy position from both sides of the assaulting element.

        Thus, there are two squads on support by fire, and the assaulting element will approach the objective between those two supporting fire elements. This does not mean they will never uses a flank, but this is a big part of their infantry tactical teaching. The assaulting element will approach inline up to the objective, then get online and assault – and if there is scope, they will use a minute flank attack within that if they can. What this means is that the objective is suppressed by two squads, but that the squads have to shift fire away early in order to prevent blue on blue with the assaulting squad – and there cannot be any support fire going in while the assault team is assaulting.

        At first this seems nuts, but it really isn’t. It also isn’t that far off what we would do in BritMil anyway. If you think about it, the squad (section) attack drill, with just one squad, is pretty far fetched unless you have a truly isolated enemy position. In the context of a platoon, you would use the other sections (squads) to suppress depth and mutually supporting positions while the assaulting squad went in. This is an echelon attack and will preferably also use the flank when assaulting their own limited objective. So imagine 3 bunkers, and two of then are being suppressed by supporting squads, while the assaulting squad conducts a squad battle drill on the initial objective. Once taken, we execute another attack on one of the remaining bunkers, just rotating who is doing what. Make sense?

        The problem with the saloon door is that if you have 2x supporting elements, and they are relatively flat to the enemy, and you go up in the middle, it is pretty quick that they have to shift fire away to each side. Even if you have your two supporting elements at 90 degrees to each other, and then you go up the middle at the 45, it is pretty quick that they have to shift away. However, what it does give you is great flank protection to either side, something that is always the danger in a true (90 degrees) flank attack.


        Going 90 degrees to the flank will give you the best angle for the assault, with support fire hitting the objective for the longest possible time before lifting or shifting. It also has the psychological effect (never underestimate) of a true flank attack. However, your weakness is unidentified depth enemy. This can be mitigated by organic use of a point of fire (looking outward, into depth), and use of flank protection forces above your element, such as another squad.

        The saloon door will give you organic flank protection on both sides, but early shifting support fire, which means that the assaulting element has to be able to take care of the objective entirely organically. However, in a complex battle space it does protect the assaulting element better, between the two support by fire elements. The summary to that is that it is less protection from the objective itself but greater protection from flank and mutually supporting enemy. Now, this is nothing new if we step up our game from independent squads to larger battles, such as echelon attacks by companies onto objectives, where we don’t have the freedom of maneuver at squad level. At that level, any flanking by a single squad may need to be in miniature and freedom of movement to the flank is limited by the flanking friendly fire forces.

        In fact, if anything, this made me think of stormtrooper tactics in WW1. With long trench lines limiting the use of the flank, you suppress on both sides and your assault element goes forward suing whatever covered approach it can before assaulting. Or, you are in an urban area and are limited to use of the flank due to not knowing what is out there, so you suppress and go forward up the middle. Or, you are trying to get to a compound in Helmand, to breach the walls, and you suppress to either side (multiple enemy firing points) and send a squad up an irrigation ditch to get alongside the compound.

        I will be attempting to attach the presentations once I have posted this, which will hopefully help this make sense. I think all in all this is a great technique to have as an option, where use of the flank is limited. You have to keep an eye for potential blue on blue like a hawk, and coordinate the point where the assaulting squad reaches the assault line, and will deploy from inline to online. For us normally, that is on the flank – here, with saloon door, that is right up the middle and will impact support fire really quick.

      • #124583

          Just realized that I described an attack just like the saloon door when Jack’s squad attacked the farm with the NT14 in it in Patriot Rising. Two support elements at 90 degrees with Jack’s team going up the middle in an irrigation ditch.

        • #124584

            First powerpoint.

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          • #124586

              Second Powerpoint.

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            • #124588

                I think we could attack ‘Hilltop’ objective on the Squad Tactics class using the saloon door:

                Support by fire on the long part of the hilltop.
                Support by fire on the left flankat 90 degrees, maybe having to peel into position – and peeling to suppress the depth bunker).
                Initial assault from team 3 at 45 on the left flank onto the front left bunker.

                Those who have been there know this place!

              • #124589

                  Attached is ‘Hilltop’ with a quick schematic.

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                • #124595

                    This is very interesting! I’ll check the power points once I get in this evening. :good:

                  • #124603

                      I like this assault on Hilltop. It would work too. The key to unravelling multiple bunkers/fighting positions is to get into one of them which gives you a SBF foothold to flank the other positions in depth.

                      Come to think of it. We could use this assault on the Hilltop bunkers close to the ridge trail. It would get us into a corner bunker. And then we could flank the other bunkers using the captured bunker as SBF.

                      HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                      HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                      FOF X3
                      OPFOR X2
                      CLC X2

                    • #124613

                        This might be a cool video to see illustrated with the toy army men.

                      • #124614

                          Thank you for the PowerPoint presentation, helped this non-infantry mind understand!!

                        • #124617

                            I like this assault on Hilltop. It would work too. The key to unravelling multiple bunkers/fighting positions is to get into one of them which gives you a SBF foothold to flank the other positions in depth.

                            You are not wrong, and yes of course ‘the break in battle’ is key. However, due to the ranges used for these FOF exercises, it doesn’t really help understand the dangers of the saloon door – it works well here, and it is a solution that has been done before, but consider that no-one is suppressing the assaulting teams bunker, thus there is much less chance of fratricide. In this example, both the SBF teams are suppressing the other bunkers. Thus the issue of having to shift fire early is avoided.

                          • #151068

                              The big advantage of the here called “saloon door” is the crossfire created. The reason why we design kill zones with crossfire and go on the flanks of the enemy is because is way harder to find appropriate cover and move around for him them. Also the middle between two teams is much safer because no enemy can use a corner to stay in cover from the firing party and be able to engage the moving party. He can actually be hit by the suppressive fire even if he has amazing cover allowing him to slice the pie.

                            • #151124

                                At first read this seems similar to my go at squad leader at CLC. I recall pushing a flank attack with depth positions chewing up my team. Hello Kitty and I had scouted ahead of the squad but I just didn’t read the OPFOR position like I should have. Gotta study this more and learn from it. Thanks.

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                              • #151144

                                  This is a very good technique. I thought I had remembered reading about it, and yeah there’s Max’s book. I also remember being taught not to do this, as they tried to dumb everything down for us, as much as possible. Who could blame.

                                  What would be the enemy’s vote in this situation? If they then shifted to alternate/supplementary positions, as we were taught, how would that affect things. Is the assumption they are “chained to the machine gun” here and will not maneuver?

                                  Remember the Jappos had interlocking tunnels between positions, and it was like playing whack-a-mole. The Jarheads took positions over and over until they finally ran out of Japs.

                                  I might be getting out in the weeds here; just brain-storming, which is a painful process for a me.

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