Paragraphs SECTION I. General 58-63 II. Front-line rifle company in defense 64-76 III. Reserve rifle company in defense 77-85 IV. Retrograde movements 86-90
- TACTICAL EMPLOYMENT.--
- General.--For the actions of the rifle company in approach march and in assembly areas, see paragraphs 12, 13, 14. For security missions on the march and in assembly areas, see chapter 4. For discussion of defensive doctrine, see FM 100-5.
- Missions.--The rifle company may be employed to organize, occupy, and defend a company defense area on the main line of resistance, or it may constitute the battalion reserve.
- ACTION BY COMPANY COMMANDER.--
- Upon receipt of the battalion defense order, the company commander takes the necessary steps to formulate his plan and move the company onto the position. These steps include the following:
- Make a map study and tentative plan of defense.
- Provide for the movement of the company to the position.
- Designate the time and place for the issuance of the company order, and notify the personnel to be present to receive this order (normally the platoon leaders).
- Plan the ground reconnaissance and confer with adjacent commanders and battalion staff officers.
- Check the tentative defense plan by a personal reconnaissance of the ground.
- Complete the company plan of defense.
- Issue the company defense order to platoon leaders.
- Notify the battalion commander as to the company plan of defense.
- Supervise the execution of the defense order.
- The requirements of speed and immediate action may frequently require the issuance of fragmentary orders and hasty occupation of a position without prior detailed reconnaissance by the company commander.
- RECONNAISSANCE.--The company commander's reconnaissance is as detailed as time and the situation permit. He first positively identifies his area. The reconnaissance then covers--
- The immediate foreground of the position, to determine--
- Areas which afford the enemy close covered approach to the position.
- Natural obstacles and exposed stretches of terrain over which the enemy must pass.
- Commanding features of the terrain which may be occupied as hostile observation posts; and areas within the defensive position which will be exposed to hostile observation.
- Terrain features from which company observers can overlook the hostile approach.
- The details of the ground within the defense area to determine--
- Coordination with supporting weapons to be placed within the company area, and coordination with adjacent units.
- Locations for subordinate defense areas (usually platoon).
- Location of the 60-mm mortars to cover with fire the approaches most dangerous to the position.
- Location of the company observation post.
- Location of the company command post.
- RIFLE COMPANY DEFENSE ORDER.--The company order should include--
- Information of the enemy, including direction from which and time when enemy attack is expected.
- Information of supporting and adjacent units.
- Company mission.
- Areas and missions of each rifle platoon.
- Location and missions of the 60-mm mortars and light machine guns. The location and missions of the light machine guns are assigned by battalion and coordinated by the heavy weapons company commander.
- Priority of construction.
- Engineer tools, ammunition supply, and other administrative details.
- Location of the battalion aid station.
- Command and observation posts.
- AMMUNITION SUPPLY IN DEFENSE.-- For ammunition supply in defense, see paragraph 201d.
- The relief of a company on the battle position is preceded by a detailed reconnaissance of the defense area by officers and appropriate noncommissioned officers of the relieving unit. Company officers familiarize themselves not only with the disposition of the defending force but also with the known hostile dispositions on that part of the front. Arrangements are completed for the transfer of any supplies and special equipment to be left on the position by the company being relieved.
- Usually, the company being relieved takes with it all individual and organizational equipment, but only the ammunition prescribed in the relief order. Emplacements, shelters, and latrines are left clean. Guides are detailed from the relieved unit to meet each platoon of the relieving company and conduct it to its position.
- Secrecy in planning and conducting the relief is essential to its successful accomplishment. The relief should be made under cover of darkness, and at such time as to permit the relieved unit to be beyond artillery range prior to daylight. Incoming leaders inspect the position of each subordinate element as soon as occupation is completed to insure readiness for defensive action. The company commander of the relieving unit reports to his battalion commander as soon as the company is in position.
- The execution of the relief takes place under the direction of the company commander being relieved; he remains responsible for the defense of the company area until the relief has been completed.
FRONT-LINE RIFLE COMPANY IN DEFENSE
- Mission.--The mission of the front-line company in defense is, with the support of other weapons, to stop the enemy by fire in front of the main line of resistance and, if he reaches it, to repel his assault by close combat.
- Dispositions.--A rifle company assigned to the defense of an area on the main line of resistance is disposed to cover the assigned front with fire, coordinate its fires with and mutually support the units on its flanks; afford close rifle protection to the supporting weapons emplaced within its area; and be able to offer resistance in any direction for the protection of its flanks and rear. Its subordinate elements are distributed in width and depth so as to be mutually supporting and capable of all around defense.
- FRONTAGES AND DEPTH.--
- Frontages.--The battalion commander assigns frontages to his front-line companies in accordance with the natural defensive strength and relative importance of their defense areas. Where a company occupies a vital area having poor observation and poor fields of fire, such as in heavily wooded, broken terrain, its frontage should not exceed 500 yards. Where the terrain is more open and affords longer fields of fire, a frontage of 800 to 1,000 yards may be assigned. Where the terrain is open and flat, or natural obstacles across the front render the area unlikely to be attacked in strength, the frontage assigned to the company may exceed this maximum figure.
- Depth.--The distance from front to rear, between garrisons in successive platoon defense areas, should not exceed the effective range of rifle fire (500 yards). It should be great enough to insure that no garrison is in the zone of artillery fire directed at the next garrison to the front or rear (150 yards).
- Boundaries.--The company defense area is defined in the battalion order by indicating boundaries, and limiting points on the main line of resistance (an imaginary line joining the forward edge of the most advanced organized defense areas). The boundaries define the company area of responsibility.
All defensive elements and installations of the company are included within its boundaries.
- Limiting points.--Points at which the main line of resistance intersect the company boundaries are designated by the battalion commander and are termed limiting points. Adjacent commanders coordinate their defenses in the vicinity of these limiting points to insure that no gaps exist in the fires across the front of the position.
- DISTRIBUTION OF PLATOONS.--
- The distribution usually places two rifle platoons in defense of the main line of resistance and one rifle platoon in support. However, the tactical requirements of each situation must be evaluated and distribution of elements made accordingly. Exceptionally, when the area assigned to a platoon does not lend itself to control by the platoon leader, the platoon may occupy two defense areas with the platoon sergeant in command of one. Integrity of rifle squads is maintained. For schematic diagrams illustrating distribution of the company in defense, with two platoons on the main line of resistance, see figure 9 (1) to (7).
- A hostile force during daylight makes maximum use of covered approaches to attack a defensive position; at night,
Figure 9 (1)
Distribution of company in defense.
his advance usually is made over more open areas. Therefore, where a choice of defensive positions is available, during daylight platoons are disposed to block advances utilizing such covered approaches; while intervening areas exposed to hostile observation and long-range fires are covered by defensive fires--preferably those of machine guns. At night, platoons are disposed to block the open areas, covered approaches
Figure 9 (2)
Figure 9 (3)
Distribution of company in defense--Continued.
being protected by one or more stationary flank combat patrols. (See fig. 9 (2) and (3) and pars. 17c, 70b, 76g, and 157f.)
- Front-line defense areas.--While a rifle platoon will not ordinarily actually occupy a width of more than 300 yards, it is capable of defending a wider area by its fire. The width that can be assigned to a platoon will be dependent
Figure 9 (4)
Figure 9 (5)
Distribution of company in defense--Continued.
upon the fields of fire, the obstacles existing in its front, and the supporting fires covering the area. Wide gaps may thus exist between minor defense areas provided these gaps can be covered effectively by fire and the adjacent units are capable of a mutual exchange of fires across their front. The responsibility for defending a hostile avenue of approach is given to one leader. Likewise, where possible, the approach
Figure 9 (6)
Figure 9 (7)
Distribution of company in defense--Continued.
and the terrain blocking that approach are included in the defense area assigned to that leader.
- Support platoon.--
- The support platoon organizes a position from which it is capable of firing to the flanks of the forward platoon defense areas, in the gaps between the platoons, and within the forward areas in case they are overrun. (See fig. 9 (4).) It usually provides protection of the flanks and rear of the company area.
- If the terrain is such that the support platoon cannot accomplish its missions from a single position, and concealed routes for movement within the area are available, more than one position may be organized and the platoon held in a covered position prepared to move to either location. (See fig. 9 (5).)
- Where the open nature of the terrain will prevent such movement, once the fire fight has commenced, the support platoon may have to organize and occupy more than one defense area. (See fig. 9 (6).)
- Where fire support of the front line cannot be obtained, and suitable defilade and concealment exist, the platoon may organize positions in depth and may then be held mobile to occupy one or more of these positions or to counterattack to regain a forward area. (See fig. 9 (7).)
- The decision to counterattack or to occupy a prepared position is made by the company commander.
- Weapons platoon.--
- The battalion commander assigns the locations and missions of the light machine guns.
- The 60-mm mortars closely support the forward defense areas and are located to cover the most dangerous avenues of approach to the company area. When a platoon defense area cannot be effectively supported by mortar fire under company control, a mortar squad may be attached to that platoon. Otherwise, mortars are retained under company control.
- FIRE PLAN.--The company commander insures that the foreground of his area is covered by small-arms fire and that his platoon defense areas on the main line of resistance are located to facilitate the mutual exchange of fires. He contacts the commanders of the units on his flanks and coordinates his fires with theirs so that adjacent units are
mutually supporting and no gaps are left in the fires along the boundaries. He ascertains the locations of the prepared close defensive fires of the cannon company, the supporting artillery, the 81-mm mortars, and machine guns; he covers the gaps with rifle and automatic rifle fires and 60-mm mortar primary target areas. See paragraph 182.
- OBSERVATION POST.--The company observation post should afford a view of all or the greater part of the company defense area and of the approaches thereto. Observation to the flanks is highly important. The observation post is the battle station of the company commander; however, he is free to go where his presence is demanded. The command post is kept informed of his location. (See fig. 37.)
- COMMAND POST.--The company command post is located in rear of the organized defense area of the support platoon. It should be in defilade and concealed from aerial observation. Covered and concealed routes to the front and to the rear are desirable to facilitate communication with the platoon leaders and the battalion command post.
- ORGANIZATION OF GROUND.--
- The organization of the company defense area is limited only by the time and facilities available. In the absence of special instructions all men first dig standing type one-man foxholes. Maximum use is made of natural and artificial concealment and cover against both ground and air observation and fire. Special construction tasks, such as laying mine fields or constructing obstacles, may be allotted to the company. The battalion order states the order in which the tasks are to be executed. Work is conducted simultaneously on several tasks. Camouflaging, and other provisions for concealment, are performed concurrently with other work. (See FM 5-15.)
- Organization of exposed areas subjected to intense artillery or aerial bombardment may have to be accomplished piecemeal during daylight by scattered individuals. If such procedure is impracticable, the organization of these exposed positions is postponed until dark.
- ANTIMECHANIZED DEFENSE.--
- The company takes advantage of all passive means of defense. Natural obstacles are
improved and antitank mines are used when available. Mines are covered by fire to prevent the enemy from removing them before or during the tank attack. The location of mines is carefully recorded and the next higher and adjacent units informed of the location. Guards are placed over antitank mine fields to prevent friendly vehicles running into them. In front of the main line of resistance, guards are withdrawn when the outpost or other covering forces withdraw.
- Antitank rifle grenadiers aggressively seek to destroy all tanks or other armored vehicles that come within effective range. Rifles, automatic rifles, mortars, and light machine guns do not ordinarily fire at tanks. Individuals armed with these weapons take cover in their foxholes, slit trenches, or emplacements in time to prevent being crushed. They are constantly alert to engage infantry following the tanks and watch especially to prevent crews of hostile tanks from opening doors to throw grenades into the foxholes, slit trenches, or emplacements.
- ANTIAIRCRAFT SECURITY.--
- Dispersion, camouflage, and foxholes or slit trenches comprise the individual's best protection against aircraft.
- When concealment is essential and is believed to have been achieved, no weapons of the force so concealed will fire at hostile planes. Weapons will always be sighted for such fires, however, and will open fire if the force is attacked from the air.
- When concealment is not essential, or obviously does not exist, all suitable and available weapons will fire on hostile planes. When both air and ground targets exist, each weapon will fire on the target which appears to offer the greatest threat to accomplishment of the mission of the unit to which the weapon belongs.
- In a defensive position, weapons on the main line of resistance will not fire at aircraft until it is obvious that the location of that line is known to the enemy. Weapons of units on the main line of resistance may be located initially in supplementary positions to permit them to fire antiaircraft missions.
- The automatic rifles of the support platoon are located initially for the antiaircraft protection of the company.
- LOCAL SECURITY.--
- Whether or not the position is protected by an outpost, the company is responsible for its own local security. During daylight, observers are posted to observe the foreground in order to give sufficient warning of hostile approach to enable the company to man its position. If the planned routes of withdrawal of the outpost lead past the company area, these routes are included within the areas of surveillance of the observers.
- Observation posts consist of single or double sentinels generally detailed from the support platoon. They are posted on the nearest terrain features affording the desired observation, generally not over 400 yards from the position.
- At night listening posts are established on the avenues of approach. These are supplemented by patrols.
- At least one sentry is on duty at all times within each subordinate defense area. At night double sentries are posted.
- HASTY OCCUPATION OF POSITION.--In the hasty occupation of a position, the first considerations are to get the troops on the position, to have them start digging in, and to provide for local security. The elements of the company and any attached weapons are located for the all-around defense of the company defense area. As time permits, coordination with adjacent units is accomplished.
- NIGHT DISPOSITIONS.--It is usually necessary to make certain adjustments at night to meet the conditions of reduced visibility. The decision to adopt night dispositions in case of fog or smoke rests with the battalion commander. For the rifle company, these actions include:
- Laying light machine guns on final protective lines and 60-mm mortars on primary target areas. (See FM 23-85.)
- Placing squads from the support platoon in areas that cannot be blocked by fire.
- Detailing patrols to the front to contact the enemy and warn of his approach.
- Establishing listening posts.
- Illuminating the foreground by flares.
- CONDUCT OF DEFENSE.--
- During the hostile preparation fires, personnel occupying front-line defense areas take
cover in their foxholes, slit trenches, or emplacements. The hostile attacking force is not engaged by riflemen or other weapons occupying positions in the vicinity of the forward rifle platoons until the enemy is within effective rifle range (500 yards). Observers in each forward defense area keep the foreground under continuous observation.
- As the hostile attacking forces come within range they are held under fire by weapons sited for long-range fires--artillery, mortars, and machine guns.
- Light machine guns may temporarily occupy supplementary positions for such fire in accordance with the battalion order. These supplementary positions must be at least 200 yards ahead or in rear of the forward defense areas in order that the locations of forward defenses will not be disclosed prematurely. A covered route to the primary gun positions must be available. Guns occupying supplementary positions for the initial fires are moved to their primary or alternate emplacements prior to arrival of the attacking force within effective rifle range.
- Light mortars located in the vicinity of the company support area execute fire missions within their effective range. Mortars emplaced in the vicinity of the forward defense areas withhold their fire until the fires of those defense areas are opened.
- As the hostile attack comes within effective rifle range, all weapons of the forward defense areas open fire on appropriate targets to inflict maximum casualties and stop the hostile attack before it reaches their positions. Requests for supporting fires are made by the company commander or commanders of subordinate defense areas directly to the nearest observers--artillery, cannon company, or heavy weapons company. Requests may also be made by the company commander to the battalion commander for such fires.
- If the attacking elements reach the area covered by planned close-in defensive fires, machine guns shift their fires to final protective lines and mortars fire on their primary target areas, while riflemen and automatic riflemen increase their rate of fire against the most threatening targets. If the enemy assaults, he is met successively by fire, grenades, and hand-to-hand combat.
- If the enemy succeeds in penetrating the position, his advance is resisted by the company support, either by fire from its prepared position or by counterattack. The decision to counterattack rests with the company commander. To be successful a counterattack must be delivered quickly, before the enemy has a chance to organize to meet it.
- In case the company becomes surrounded, the company commander makes such redistribution of any supporting weapons in his area as he considers necessary for its continued all-around defense.
- When visibility has been reduced by fog or smoke, the battalion commander decides whether alternate night positions are to be occupied. (See par. 66a (2).)
RESERVE RIFLE COMPANY IN DEFENSE
- GENERAL.--The front-line battalion in defense frequently places two rifle companies on the main line of resistance and one in reserve. The battalion order prescribes the missions for the reserve company and the priority of these missions. The battalion commander controls the employment of the reserve company.
- MISSIONS.--Missions which may be assigned the reserve company are--
- To increase depth of battalion defense area.--Where the key terrain of the battalion defense area is located in the rear portion of the battalion area, the position organized by the reserve company provides the defense of that locality. However, the position must be within rifle supporting distance (500 yards) of the support echelons of the forward companies. It should be at least 150 yards from that echelon, so as to be outside the zone of dispersion of artillery fire directed at the main line of resistance. Platoons are assigned and defend areas similar to those of front-line platoons. Fires and positions are coordinated with those of the heavy machine guns located in the battalion reserve area in order to prevent or limit hostile penetrations, to assure a cohesive defense, and to provide close small-arms protection for the heavy machine guns.
- To protect flanks of battalion.--In case of a penetration in an adjacent area, the reserve company may occupy a flank line of resistance from which it can prevent the widening of the penetration and envelopment of the threatened flank or it may counterattack to assist the adjacent unit. Where the battalion has an unprotected flank, the reserve company is disposed to protect it.
- To counterattack.--
- The reserve company may be employed in counterattack to restore a portion of the position or to eject the enemy from a certain area. Plans are prepared in advance to meet various situations.
- The battalion order states the assumed penetrations against which counterattack plans are to be prepared. The preparation of these plans is the function of the reserve company commander.
- Counterattacks are planned to strike the enemy in flank with the greatest possible force. They are not directed against objectives outside the battalion area except on orders of higher authority, nor is the enemy pursued beyond the main line of resistance, except by fire. Use of routes of approach through an adjacent battalion area are coordinated with that battalion commander during the planning stage and at the time of execution of the counterattack.
- Supporting fires of all classes are planned, to include the fires of the weapons platoon, the cannon and heavy weapons companies, and the supporting artillery. Coordination of these fires is arranged with respective company commanders and the artillery liaison officer. These fires should be concentrated across the base of the penetration to prevent further hostile entry into the defense area.
- The counterattack plans are submitted to the battalion commander for approval. When time and other conditions permit, each plan should be rehearsed on the ground. As a minimum, the subordinate leaders are taken over the ground and the plans explained in detail.
- The counterattack is launched on order of the battalion commander.
- To establish combat outpost.--All or part of the reserve company may be detailed initially to establish a combat outpost. For a discussion of combat outposts, see paragraph 98.
- To assist in organization of forward areas.--Working parties may be detailed to the forward areas to assist in clearing fields of fire, erecting obstacles, laying antitank mine fields, constructing emplacements and entrenchments, executing camouflage, and performing similar tasks.
- WEAPONS PLATOON.--
- The location and missions for the light machine-gun section are included in the battalion order and coordinated by the heavy weapons company commander.
- The 60-mm mortar section may be given initial locations and missions by the battalion commander in support of the main line of resistance. This will generally be limited to close defensive fires. The mortars may be emplaced so as to utilize fire data obtained from the observation and communication system of the 81-mm mortars.
- OBSERVATION POST.--The initial observation post of the reserve company should be near the battalion observation post. The company commander must have early information of the situation within the battalion area and be in close touch with the battalion commander. Subsequently, the observation post is located to give the best observation of the area in which the company is committed.
- COMMAND POST.--The reserve company command post is in or near the company assembly area and close to the battalion command post. When the company occupies a position or makes a counterattack, the command post moves with the company.
- ORGANIZATION OF GROUND.--The priority of construction of the several defensive positions of the reserve company is stated in the battalion order. The organization of each position includes clearing fields of fire and construction and concealment of individual shelters, weapon emplacements, and obstacles.
- COMPANY ASSEMBLY AREA.--Within its assembly area, the company is held in platoon groups sufficiently dispersed to reduce casualties. Depending on the length of time the company expects to occupy the assembly area, it constructs
individual protection for its weapons and men. (See appendix I.)
- ANTIMECHANIZED DEFENSE.--When the reserve company occupies a prepared position, the doctrines of antimechanized defense for a front-line company apply. (See par. 71.) In the assembly area the antitank rifle grenadiers are disposed to cover possible tank approaches. A counterattack by the reserve company is not launched while there is still an immediate threat of a hostile mechanized attack.
- ANTIAIRCRAFT SECURiTY.--Reserve company automatic riflemen are disposed for the antiaircraft protection of the assembly area. The assembly area also receives secondary protection from the heavy machine guns in the rear portion of the battalion defense area. When the company occupies a prepared position, the doctrines of antiaircraft defense for a front-line company apply. (See par. 72.)
- FRONT-LINE COMPANY IN NIGHT WITHDRAWAL.--The battalion order usually prescribes the time of withdrawal, company and battalion assembly areas, and the troops to be left in position by each company as a covering force. Supporting weapons in the company area are usually attached to the company for the withdrawal to the battalion assembly area.
- Preliminary actions.--As soon as the company commander is informed of a contemplated withdrawal, he initiates daylight reconnaissance by subordinates of routes of withdrawal as far as the battalion assembly area. The company commander limits the number and size of reconnaissance groups to a minimum in order to preserve secrecy. He prescribes the reconnaissance to be made by the platoons and by men to be used as guides in the night movement. The company commander contacts his platoon leaders by going personally to their command posts to acquaint them with his plan of withdrawal. He informs them of the time of withdrawal, the platoon assembly areas, the company assembly
area, and the strength of units to be left in position as part of the company covering force.
- Company (less covering force).--
- Rearward movement of front-line rifle units, less the covering force, begins at the designated hour. Individuals move straight to the rear to squad assembly areas where the squad leader regains control. Squads move to designated platoon assembly areas. Platoons move to the company assembly area. Small column formations which facilitate control are adopted. For initial and subsequent dispositions, see figure 10 (1) and (2).
- Company transportation joins the company as far forward as the situation permits. The limit of its forward movement is prescribed by the battalion commander.
- Covering force.--
- The company covering force will usually consist of one squad left in place by each platoon of the company and such supporting weapons located in the company area as may be prescribed by the battalion. These are usually single guns left in position with skeleton crews. Transportation for supporting weapons is left with the covering force.
- For the night withdrawal a commander is detailed to command the company covering force. The time when he takes over command is prescribed in company orders, and will usually be just prior to the withdrawal of the company. During daylight the company covering force commander makes a reconnaissance to ascertain the exact location of supporting weapons to be left in position, and routes of withdrawal for the covering force. He contacts squad leaders to be left with the covering force and points out specific locations for portions of the squad. Some redistribution of squads in forward defense areas is necessary to provide observation over the entire defense area and close rifle protection for supporting weapons. The squad is retained in as large groups as possible. Not less than two men are placed in any locality. This redistribution of the squad should be accomplished after dark. Every effort is made to preserve secrecy.
- The squad left in the area of the support platoon is usually kept intact for local patrolling and ejecting hostile patrols which may succeed in entering the position. The command post for the company covering force is the old command
post of the company. Sufficient messengers are sent to the covering force by the company commander to provide adequate signal communication within the area and with the battalion covering force command post.
- Prior to its withdrawal, the covering force should simulate normal activity in the company area. Patrolling is continued.
Figure 10 (1)
Figure 10 (2)
All activities are conducted to prevent the enemy from detecting the withdrawal from position.
- The company covering force may be directed to remain in its position until a specified time or it may be withdrawn on orders of the battalion covering force commander.
- FRONT-LINE COMPANY IN DAYLIGHT WITHDRAWAL.--
- The daylight withdrawal order is normally oral, brief, and fragmentary.
- The daylight withdrawal is a series of delaying actions on successive positions. Each echelon covers the withdrawal of the next preceding echelon. (See fig. 11.) The support
Front-line rifle company in daylight withdrawal.
platoon covers the withdrawal of the front-line platoons. The battalion reserve covers the withdrawal of the front-line companies.
- After withdrawal, front-line platoons move directly to the designated company assembly area. The initial withdrawal consists of a successive thinning out of the line. Individuals are sent to the rear of the support platoon area where a platoon noncommissioned officer assembles them or sends them on to the company assembly area. Automatic riflemen in each squad cover the withdrawal of their squads. As soon as the last elements of the front-line platoons have passed,
the support platoon similarly withdraws under the protection of the battalion reserve.
- Supporting weapons in the rifle company area are normally attached to the company for the withdrawal. For the use of supporting weapons in daylight withdrawal, see paragraph 193b.
- Withdrawing elements make maximum use of concealed and covered routes.
- RESERVE COMPANY IN WITHDRAWAL.--
- At night.--In a night withdrawal, the reserve company commander initiates rear reconnaissance as for a front-line company. (See par. 86.) The battalion order may prescribe that one platoon be left in position. This platoon is responsible for patrolling and protecting the battalion covering force command post.
- In daylight.--In a daylight withdrawal, the reserve company is left in position to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements of the battalion. It withdraws in accordance with the battalion order under the protection of the regimental covering force (regimental reserve) or other elements of the battalion which have taken position in rear.
- DELAYING ACTION IN SUCCESSIVE POSITIONS.--
- Since delay in successive positions is based on limited resistance only on any one position the company may be assigned a frontage for such a position which is twice as great as would be assigned for a sustained defense. The company commander directs early reconnaissance by subordinates of successive positions and routes of withdrawal prescribed in orders of the battalion commander. The rifle company on a delaying position may deploy its three platoons abreast in order to develop greater fire power. Where one or both flanks are exposed, supports are held out. Close-in defensive fires are not planned; instead, the position is selected to favor long-range fires. A position near the topographical crest is generally of greater value than one on the military crest. The former position affords the unit defilade immediately upon the initiation of its withdrawal. Fires are opened at extreme ranges (rifles and automatic rifles, 800-1,200 yards) in order to force the enemy to deploy and to make time-consuming preparations for attack. (See fig. 12.)
- Caliber .30 heavy machine guns and battalion antitank guns are usually attached to rifle companies. The antitank guns open fire at the earliest moment that promises effect against the type of hostile armored vehicle employed. Weapon carriers and prime movers are utilized in moving machine guns, mortars, and antitank guns whenever practicable. The rifle platoons organize their positions as for defense, and as completely as time permits. Protective trenches are dug and fields of fire are cleared.
- The withdrawal to a rear position is made before the hostile rifle fire can pin the troops to the ground and before
Rifle company in delaying action.
the enemy can reach assaulting distance. The withdrawal may be effected by withdrawing platoons successively and covering the gaps thus created by the fire of supporting weapons; or by withdrawing platoons simultaneously, each platoon covering its own withdrawal.
- Between the successive delaying positions, intermediate positions offering good possibilities of delay are occupied by detachments with automatic weapons. (See FM 100-5.)
- DELAY ON ONE POSITION.--The mission of delay may require a force to hold a certain position for a predetermined time. The rifle company assigned a portion of a sector on a
delaying position with this mission effects its distribution of troops, organizes the position, and plans its close defensive fires as for defense of a position. Increased frontages are obtained by allowing greater intervals between adjacent defense areas. Intervals between individuals in platoon and smaller defense areas are not increased. Intervals between adjacent units must permit mutual support by flanking fire. Mobility is sought for the support platoon in order to provide adequate support for the entire forward area of the company.