Video + Comment: Developing Contact from Multiple Firing Points
I sometimes get questions about Break Contact Drills, and what to do if the contact is from multiple directions. We do practice some scenarios like this on the Combat Patrol (CP) class, which take the drills beyond what we do on the Combat Team Tactics (CTT) Class. There are really two types of break contact drills:
1) Patrol immediate action drills, that happen automatically to the call of contact (direction). These drills are briefed /rehearsed as SOP prior to departing on the patrol.
2) Squad/platoon leader decision to break contact depending on the situation.
In the case of (1), the implementation of the immediate break contact drill does not preclude the leader stepping in and changing the plan once the drill has begun to flow, and in the light of a developing situation. In the case of (2) the drill does not occur until decided upon by the leader, in line with a plan developed as a result of a combat estimate (on the fly). An example would be an attempted hasty attack that becomes bogged due to an incorrect assessment of enemy strength, when a break contact may be called.
Given ‘a video paints a thousand words’ I am posting the video below, which illustrates a number of these points, and shows how a section commander (squad leader) will react to the developing situation. This is not a ‘break contact drill’ per se, it is in fact an attempt to reduce the enemy within the framework of a developing contact. However, you can see illustrated some of the techniques of maneuver and break contact, such as the peel, being put to use to maneuver on the battlefield.
You can see the contact develop from multiple directions and how the section commander (great job by the young leader) maneuvers his section (squad) as the situation develops. This relies on the training of his men so they all know what he means when he wants them to maneuver. In this way, basic fire and movement drills, such as bounding and peeling, are used to maneuver the squad to various parts of the battlefield both into and out of contact.
The video also gives a general impression of the range, pace and feeling of these types of situations. It is not all 100mph with massive amounts of enemy fire coming at you. There is time to think. The importance is in maintaining momentum by continuing suppressive fire as you maneuver. I often stress one of the hardest things to do is locate the enemy. You see this in the video, in particular where new firing points open up. You cannot suppress until you can locate, and then put accurate fire down onto the enemy to change his behavior (suppress him).