Any time there is contact with the enemy, either accidental or deliberate, the first man to make the sighting generally has to make a snap decision and give a signal.
These signals can be made in a lot of ways. One possibility includes voice, especially for things like "Incoming!" and "Sniper!" where it doesn't matter how much noise you make. Prearranged hand signals are the most common signals. Using a radio or a flashlight is also common.
Every soldier should understand how to react to the following signals.
Freeze: Everybody hold your position. All the soldiers should stay quiet and motionless. It usually means that the Point Man (or whoever made the signal) suspects that something is wrong and is still gathering information.
Hasty Ambush: Means "we're going to ambush the enemy". Usually made when the enemy looks vulnerable and when they seem to be heading toward the group. The soldiers should immediately take concealed firing positions.
Attack! or Immediate Assault: Not the kind of thing you do every day! For sme reason, everybody should charge with weapons blazing. For example, if the group comes on the rear of an enemy position, or if another friendly unit needs immediate help. Also used on raids. Whoever gives the signal had better have a **** good reason.
Fall back: This means to start an orderly, guarded retreat. Usually done with the leapfrog method where one or two men at a time go back down the trail while the others stand guard. When the operation is complete the whole group should be back in their usual marching order, but heading in the oppposite direction.
Ambush: Or, to put it another way, RUN! It means that the group is in immediate danger of being in an enemy ambush.
Incoming: Means "TAKE COVER!" Some kind of indirect fire, like a mortar or an artillery shell, is coming into the group. Everybody should hit the dirt, scatter or find cover immediately.
Sniper: Reacting to a single sniper is a little different than reacting to an ambush. The entire group should open fire on the sniper's position. This may or may not kill the enemy, but it'll suppress his fire for the moment.
1. Fire distribution is the science of controlling weapon power. Here's a few of the more popular possibilites:
Point Fire is when you're aiming at a particular target. For example, you might tell everyone to concentrate Point Fire on the enemy machinegun operator.
Area Fire means aiming at any available targets in a particular area.
Suppressive Fire means you're trying to get the enemy to keep his head down. This is the kind of shooting you do when somebody yells, "Cover me!"
Grazing Fire is usually a straight, horizontal line laid down by machineguns. The idea is to continuously draw a line of bullets about 3 feet off the ground. That way, even if you can't see the enemy, you have a pretty good chance of hitting. Usually used then the enemy is charging toward you.
Frontal, Flanking or Enfilade Fire: These are just terms describing how your shots are hitting the enemy. Frontal fire is when you're facing each other. Flanking fire means firing at the enemy's side, like shooting down at a party on a trail. Enfilade firing is the best kind because it means you are shooting through a column or row of the enemy.
A good use of enfilade fire is to set up an ambush so a machinegun is pointed down the length of a trail. Once the enemy group is stung out along that section oyu can open fire with a much better chance of hitting the target, and have the chance of hitting more than one target with each bullet.
2. Preparing the ambush means picking a place where you have a good view of the enemy, yet are concealed and under cover.
Kill Zone is the area where you plan on shooting the enemy. It should be a place with limited or no cover, limited escape routes, and little or no opportunity for the enemy to return fire.
Dead Spaces are areas out of sight of the ambushers. For example, a group on a hill may have a good view of the trail, but may not be able to see into a gully right below them. These areas should be booby trapped or targeted for accurate grenade fire.
Claymores, mines and mortars are effective ways of killing, but they lack a little... discretion. Booby traps are non-discrimating; if there are friendly forces or civilian in the area, it's best to set up flare traps - that way you can get a good look at the victims before you kill them.
3. Dividing your forces according to their jobs is always a good idea, even in a four-man team.
Assault Element is the unit responsible for the main attack. In an ambush, they would be assigned different firing areas in the kill zone.
Support Element is a back-up or reserve unit. In an ambush the Suppport Element is often set along possible escape routes so the enemy will be trapped.
Security Elements have the responsibility for keeping everyone else safe. For example, if a unit had set up an ambush on a hill, the Security Element will patrol the back and sides of the hill to prevent a rear or flank attack.
4. Concealment and Camouflage are useful in any kind of combat. The more difficult it is for the enemy tosee you, the more difficult it is for him to shoot you.
Natural Concealment is anything that hides you from the enemy's sight. Bushes, grass, trees, geological formations and shadows are all effective.
Camouflage is basically artificial concealment. Usually it involves clothing and equipment with the same colors as the natural environment. Irregular shapes of color sre the hardest to see. Adding make-up to exposed skin, and attaching leaves and branches to helmet and clothing are also good forms of camouflage.
STRATEGY AND TACTICS: THE BASICS
What follows is sort of a "Reader's Digest Condensed Version" of the principles of warfare. If there is any such thing as a "Law of War" then it's probably hidden in the following list. Remember, these are general guidelines, and in war there is nothing certain.
1. Maintain the Objective: Every military operation must be directed toward a decisive, obtainable objective. In other words, if you can't describe the outcome you want, then you shouldn't be getting into the battle. A lot of folks would say that the lack of an objective was the main flaw in America's policies in Vietnam.
Having a stated objective that's known by the soldiers in an action is critical for them to be able to respond to changing conditions. Having the initiative to take advantage of a sudden enemy weakness, or to retreat in the face of an unexpected enemy strength, depends on everybody knowing the overall plan.
2. Watch you Concentrations: In ancient warfare everything was concentrated, because the armies were literally shoulder to shoulder. Modern weaponry makes dispersion essential. A single grenade or machinegun can kill crowds easily. As a general rule, everybody in Vietnam kept at least 5 yards apart at all times. The first limit to this dispersion is communications, you've got to keep close enough so that you can work as a team.
The second limit to dispersion is the need to concentrate attack power. The reason the ancient soldiers massed together was to concentrate their offensive power. In modern times, with long distance weapons, attack can be concentrated while the attackers remain dispersed. So units have to stay close enough to be able to coordinate and concentrate their weapons on a single target.
3. Be Prepared to Maneuver: Consider the brilliance of you enemy. Attack him with a superior force and he will break into pieces and melt away. Present him with a weak defense and he will form up a superior force and wipe you out. Forces must be organized so they can move quickly, both to attack and retreat.
Another aspect to maneuvering troops is maintaining a reserve. No matter how desperate a situation may look, it's vital to maintain a separate reserve that can respond to changing conditions.
4. Knowledge is Power: A small army with a good intelligence network is worth a lot more than a large army that's kept in the dark. The flip side of the intelligence issue is security. Always make it as difficult as possible for the enemy to get any information on your activities.
5. Watch the Multipliers: The following formulas are ridiculously simplistic. Still, they may be valuable as general guidelines.
a. It costs twice as much to attack as to defend. History records that the attacker, even when wildly successful, loses a lot more men than the defender.
b. Attacking the enemy's flank, or rear attack, is twice as effective as attacking him in the front. Frontal assaults look good in the movies, scare the hell out of the enemy, and usually result in the virtual destruction of the attacking force.
c. Surprise doubles the effectiveness of any attack. Anytime you do something predictable your chances of getting wiped out are doubled.
d. Defense strength is directly proportional to fortification strength. In other words, holes, bunkers, and trenches can easily double the number of survivors in an attack.