Paragraphs SECTION I. General 160-169 II. Attack 170-181 III. Defense 182-193
- The weapons platoon consists of a platoon headquarters, one light machine-gun section, and one 60-mm mortar section. The platoon headquarters (command group) consists of a platoon leader, a platoon sergeant, a transport corporal, and several privates or privates first class (chauffeurs and messengers).
- The light machine-gun section consists of a section headquarters and two light machine-gun squads. The 60-mm mortar section consists of a section headquarters and three mortar squads. Each section headquarters consists of a section leader (a sergeant) and several privates who are employed as needed, including employment as messengers. Each squad consists of a squad leader, gunner, assistant gunner, and ammunition bearers. In addition to individual weapons, each light machine-gun squad is equipped with one light machine gun and each mortar squad is equipped with one 60-mm mortar. Prior to combat, the light machine guns, the mortars, ammunition, and accessories are transported by motorized weapon carriers; during combat, they usually must be carried by hand.
- DUTIES OF PLATOON COMMAND GROUP.--
- Platoon leader--The platoon leader is responsible for the training, discipline, control, and tactical employment of the platoon. His platoon must be trained tactically and technically to function effectively as a unit and as part of the military team. During route and approach march, the platoon leader leads his platoon, less any elements which have been detached. (See pars. 170 and 177b.) During combat, he employs
the platoon as ordered by the company commander. The platoon leader keeps himself informed of the locations of the company command post, the elements of his platoon, the rifle platoons in the leading echelon of the company, and the carriers from which his ammunition is being obtained. When practicable, he supervises the fire of all elements of the platoon. When direct control of the action of both sections is impracticable, he supervises the action of one section as directed by the company commander. He may designate the platoon sergeant to supervise the other. The platoon leader is responsible for the supply of ammunition from the most advanced carriers, or other point designated by the company commander, to all elements not detached from the platoon. (See par. 201.)
- Platoon sergeant.--The platoon sergeant is second-in-command. During movement he marches at the rear of the platoon and prevents straggling. During combat he takes charge of either weapon section when directed by the platoon leader; otherwise, he keeps constantly in touch with the situation to the rear and flanks of the platoon, supervises ammunition supply, assists the platoon leader as directed in observation and control of fire, and in displacements follows the foot elements of the rearmost echelon.
- Transport corporal.--The transport corporal is in direct charge of the weapon carriers. He is responsible for their protection and the supervision of first echelon maintenance. For duties in connection with ammunition supply, see paragraph 201.
- Messengers.--One messenger accompanies the platoon leader; another reports to the company commander when the company takes up a deployed formation. (See par. 8b (8).)
- Chauffeurs.--Under the supervision of the transport corporal, chauffeurs conceal and camouflage their carriers at all halts. When separated from the sections, chauffeurs protect the carriers with automatic rifles or with their rifles, depending upon the equipment of the carriers. They are responsible for first echelon maintenance.
- DUTIES OF SECTION AND SQUAD LEADERS.--
- General.--Section and squad leaders are at all times responsible for the
training, discipline, appearance, and conduct of the members of their units.
- Section leaders.--
- Section leaders lead their sections in route and approach march. In combat, section leaders employ their sections in accordance with orders received from the platoon leader or company commander.
- They select and assign general locations for their squads within the area assigned their section, assign targets or sectors of fire to squads, regulate the displacement of the weapons, regulate the expenditure of ammunition, and insure its replenishment by the ammunition bearers (combined under section control whenever greater efficiency will result). Whenever the bearers are unable to maintain an adequate ammunition supply, they make timely requests for ammunition to the leader under whose orders the section is operating. The light machine-gun section leader usually exercises direct control over the fire of his section. The 60-mm mortar section leader conducts fire when the fire of more than one squad is directed on a target; otherwise, his principal duty is to observe closely the rifle troops and regulate the movement and positions of the mortar squads in accordance with the action and changing situation of the rifle elements.
- Squad leaders.--Squad leaders are charged with the movement of their squads to designated locations; the selection, preparation, and occupation of firing positions; entrenchment; camouflage; observation and adjustment of fire; fire discipline: and the employment of ammunition bearers to replenish the ammunition supply.
- CONDUCT OF FIRE.--
- Light machine-gun section.--
- The light machine-gun section may be assigned a definite target or a sector of fire. If assigned a definite target, the section leader determines the method of engaging it. As a general rule, most effective results are obtained by the simultaneous concentration of the fire of both guns on the same target. The section leader, in conformity with the platoon leader's orders, designates the targets, specifies the rate of fire, and gives the command or signal for opening fire. Whenever practicable, he establishes contact with the rifle unit leaders in his vicinity and informs himself as to their situation and intentions.
- If assigned a sector of fire, the section leader may divide the sector, giving a part to each squad, or he may engage targets in the entire sector by the fire of both squads.
- When the squads have been assigned sectors of fire, each squad leader takes, as his primary mission, fire on the targets developing in his own sector, and as a secondary mission, fire on those targets developing in the adjacent sector. When the squad leader acts entirely on his own initiative, he decides how he can best support the general plan of the company and leads his squad accordingly.
- 60-mm mortar section.--Initial supply of ammunition for the mortars is limited and resupply is difficult. Consequently, the platoon leader or company commander usually determines the targets upon which fire is to be placed. Their orders may be to engage specific targets or to engage any of certain types of targets which appear in a prescribed sector or target area. In the absence of orders, squad and section leaders must rely on their own judgment and exercise proper initiative to furnish obviously needed fire support. During an attack, section and squad leaders must be alert to locate hidden machine guns that may open surprise fire on the advancing riflemen; the appearance of such a gun constitutes an emergency and requires that the squad leader engage it without orders.
- Light machine-gun section.--The platoon leader provides for constant observation of the company zone of action and the terrain to the flanks. The section leader establishes his own observation post at a point from which he can observe his targets or sector of fire and control his squads. Squad leaders place themselves where they can observe their assigned sectors or targets and control the fire of their units by voice or arm-and-hand signals.
- 60-mm mortar section.--Each mortar squad observation post must afford observation of friendly troops and observation over the target area or sector of fire. It must be within voice or arm-and-hand signaling distance of the mortar position and should be at or as near the position as possible. Usually one of the squad observation posts will serve for the section leader.
- ANTIMECHANIZED DEFENSE.--
- Light machine-gun section.
- When practicable, standing type one-man foxholes or similar entrenchments are prepared for every man. (See fig. 31 and FM 5-15.) The three foxholes for members of the crew are arranged generally as indicated in figure 33. When time does not permit the construction of entrenchments, the maximum security is obtained by locating firing positions among large trees, boulders, or other natural antitank obstacles.
- For action to be taken in case of mechanized attack, in route and approach march, bivouacs and assembly areas, and in attack, see paragraph 9c.
- For action to be taken in case of mechanized attack, in defense, see paragraph 71.
- Light machine-gun squads may be employed to cover antitank obstacles such as road blocks and mine fields to prevent removal by the enemy. Positions selected to perform such a mission should be from 200 to 400 yards from the obstacle and well concealed. Ammunition bearers, or attached riflemen, are so located as to observe approaches and prevent hostile patrols nearing the position without coming under observation and fire.
- 60-mm mortar section.--Mortars are emplaced, whenever possible, so as to take advantage of natural tank obstacles. In defense, standing type one-man foxholes or similar entrenchments are dug for each member of the section. (See fig. 31 and FM 5-15.) The foxholes for the mortar crew are arranged approximately as shown in figure 35. Upon the close approach of hostile tanks, mortars are dismounted and individuals take cover within their foxholes or, if the shortage of time has not permitted the construction of protective trenches, in any nearby holes or narrow ditches or among boulders or other natural antitank obstacles. When the hostile threat has passed, mortars are remounted and personnel resume their normal positions.
- ANTIAIRCRAFT SECURITY.--The characteristics of the light machine gun, with its present mount, make it of slight value as an antiaircraft weapon. The platoon relies for security primarily on passive measures including dispersion, concealment, and use of cover. (See pars. 9c and 72.)
- SIGNAL COMMUNICATION.--
- In the weapons platoon and its elements the usual means of signal communication are messengers and arm-and-hand signals. For use of telephones, see paragraph 212.
- Fire and movement of the squads and sections are normally controlled by voice and arm-and-hand signals. As required, a messenger from each section is sent to platoon headquarters. When operating as part of the section, squad leaders place themselves so that they can see both the target and the section leader.
- WEAPON CARRIER LOADS AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY.--The weapon carriers transport the weapons of the platoon and ammunition for each weapon in the amount prescribed in Table of Basic Allowances. For loads of individual vehicles, see FM 7-55. For ammunition supply, see paragraph 201.
- ROUTE MARCH AND BIVOUAC.--
- In route march, the weapons platoon (less weapon carriers) marches in the company column as directed by the company commander.
- Except as indicated in c below, the weapon carriers and their accompanying personnel move with the battalion transport.
- When the company has a security mission (such as support of an advance guard or flank guard) or other mission requiring complete readiness for action, the weapon carriers march with the company under direct control of the platoon leader.
- The location and missions of the platoon in bivouac are assigned by the company commander. (See par. 10.)
- APPROACH MARCH.--
- General.--When the platoon is to march as a unit, the company commander prescribes its place in the company formation and informs the platoon leader whether the platoon transport is to move with the platoon or with the battalion transport. He also prescribes a march objective and, usually, a rifle element on which the platoon is to guide. He indicates any special mission which
the platoon is to perform or to be prepared to perform. When the elements of the platoon are to be distributed for the execution of tactical missions, he prescribes missions for each section and directs where each is to march in the company
Dispositions of weapons squads and sections in approach march.
formation, or he attaches certain squads or sections to rifle platoons. Sections or squads assigned specific tactical missions may be required to carry weapons and a small supply of ammunition by hand. Mortar squads move to successive positions in readiness, and when two or more squads operate
together, at least one squad is prepared to occupy a previously reconnoitered position and open fire promptly.
- In either "platoon column" or "line of sections," the sections may be in line of squads or in section column. (See fig. 26.) The formations and movements of the platoon, section, and squad conform generally to those described for the rifle platoon and squad in paragraphs 106 and 142, respectively. (See fig. 18 (1) and (2).)
- The platoon leader studies the terrain and orders such initial dispositions of the platoon, less any detached elements, as will best enable him to screen his unit from hostile observation, move it so as to avoid or minimize the effect of hostile fire, and retain the greatest practicable degree of control over all platoon elements. He varies dispositions throughout the approach march in accordance with changes in the nature of the terrain and the situation. Section leaders place their sections in the company formation and take up initial formations as directed by the platoon leader. Thereafter section leaders may change formation whenever necessary to maintain control, take advantage of cover, or reduce losses.
- Where conditions do not permit rapid movement of the carriers, the foot elements and the carriers may move together. On open ground, in daylight, the carriers are usually moved by bounds in rear of the foot elements. At the end of each bound the carriers should be halted in defilade from flat-trajectory fire and, if possible, in small gullies or swales for protection against shell fragments.
- At night, weapon carriers are usually held in rear and moved forward, under battalion or regimental control, in time to reach the assembly area shortly after the foot elements.
- Contact.--If the platoon, section, or squad is directed to guide on another unit, connecting files (preferably double) should be employed whenever the terrain or lack of visibility make it likely that visual contact may be broken.
- Movement by bounds.--
- Movement in daylight approach march takes place in a series of bounds. The platoon leader designates a base section and indicates its initial march objective or directs it to guide on another unit. If one section is detached, the remaining section is given appropriate instructions as to direction, bounds, and objectives.
When an assigned march objective cannot be pointed out, intermediate platoon march objectives are designated. (See par. 109d.)
- The platoon leader, accompanied by the command group, precedes the platoon along the route of march. He frequently moves with the company command group. When absent from the platoon, he leaves the platoon sergeant in charge and maintains contact with him by sight, connecting files, or messenger. He observes the route of advance and the next terrain objective of the company for possible off-carrier positions and for suitable firing position areas, so that he can promptly place his platoon in action in the event the company becomes engaged with the enemy. He reconnoiters for crossings or minor detours by which the weapon carriers may pass obstacles. He detours the platoon around gassed areas and, if practicable, around areas being shelled. In order to cross dangerous areas such as roads or ridges which are exposed to hostile observation, he may prescribe a single rush in line of skirmishers; each section may be closely followed by its carriers or the latter may be directed to cross the area, in line and at high speed, when the foot elements have crossed.
- Areas under fire, when they cannot be avoided, are crossed by rushes of individuals or small groups under control of section leaders. When under enemy observation, sections and squads adopt formations similar to those used by rifle units under the same conditions.
- If a section is detached from the platoon, the section leader should precede his unit by a short distance and conduct reconnaissance similar to that prescribed for the platoon leader.
- PREPARATIONS IN ASSEMBLY AREAS.--See paragraphs 14 and 106i.
- Platoon leader.--
- The company commander either may take the weapons platoon leader on reconnaissance or direct him to reconnoiter for specific information. (See par. 16d (2).) Frequently, however, the platoon leader may have only general information of his missions and no opportunity for detailed reconnaissance,
prior to the issuance of the company attack order. (See pars. 17h and 18b (5).)
- The weapons platoon leader makes his personal reconnaissance and completes his plan of attack in a manner similar to that described for the rifle platoon leader. (See par. 107b and c.) He allows sufficient time--
- For his noncommissioned officers to reconnoiter and select firing positions, targets, and target areas for weapons that are to be emplaced at the start of the attack or to observe the ground over which weapons must be advanced when the initial mission is to follow a designated rifle unit.
- For all squads to occupy initial positions and complete preparations for initial missions.
- For mortar squads to locate observation posts from which fire can be adjusted on initial target areas by arm-and-hand signals.
- While waiting for his section leaders to report for orders, the platoon leader can often speed up preparations for the attack by personally selecting observation posts or firing positions for that section whose complete readiness at the hour of attack is most important in carrying out the company commander's plan. This should be done whether that section is later to be under his control or not.
- The platoon leader issues timely instructions for the forward movement of the platoon. Unless the company commander has directed that the off-carrier position be located in the assembly area or at a more forward location, the platoon leader must select the off-carrier position and the most forward point to which ammunition can be brought by carrier. (See figs. 3 and 29.) At the completion of his reconnaissance the platoon leader meets his section leaders and issues his attack order.
- Section leaders.--Having received the platoon leader's orders, each section leader precedes his section to the position area, notes the location of the front-line troops, locates his targets or target area, selects an observation post for the section, and selects general locations for his weapons. He also selects cover positions and directs the movement of the squads and their weapons from off-carrier positions to the cover positions.
- SELECTON OF FIRING POSITIONS.--
- Light machine-gun section.--Light machine-gun positions are selected to permit direct fire on the target or targets assigned, or to cover an assigned sector of fire. If possible, locations for light machine guns should permit fire, with only a slight change of position, on actual or suspected locations of hostile machine guns sited to take advancing units of the company under cross fires. The location of the front-line troops and the target must be visible from the firing positions. Whenever practicable, cover in rear of the firing positions (for cover positions see par 2e(2)) should be available to facilitate the supply of ammunition and to provide shelter for the gun crews when not firing. From this cover position there should be a covered route to any alternate position selected. When possible, the firing positions should afford protection against hostile observation and fire from all directions other than that in which the gun is to fire. (See fig. 27.) Gun positions are separated by a sufficient interval, ordinarily 50 yards, to safeguard against both guns being hit by the burst of the same projectile. However, the positions should permit the section leader to control the fire by voice or arm-and-hand signals. In selecting positions the location of other troops in the area must be considered, so as to avoid congestion. Occupation of positions in zones of adjacent companies is subject to the restriction that the fire or movement of units of those companies must not be impeded.
- 60-mm mortar section.--
- The firing positions of the mortars must be within effective range of the targets and within voice or arm-and-hand signaling distance of a point affording observation of the targets and friendly front-line troops. In the selection of firing positions the section leader also considers the location of friendly troops, and the requirements of cover, separation of weapons, ease of control, and facility of ammunition supply as mentioned above for the light machine guns.
- Whenever practicable, mortars fire from fully defiladed positions just in rear of the friendly front line. Because of the necessity of keeping the mortars well forward, firing positions are frequently located in shell holes, ditches, or folds in the ground.
- Platoon leader.--The scope of the weapons platoon leader's orders varies widely in different situations. His orders include as much of the following as is necessary for the intelligent functioning of subordinates:
Light machine-gun firing position.
- Information of the enemy and our own troops, including the contemplated action of the leading rifle platoons of the company and the positions and missions of the machine guns and mortars of the battalion heavy weapons company.
- Attachments, if any, to rifle platoons.
- Detachments, if any, to direct control of company commander.
- Missions of the sections, to include--
- Initial position areas and, where necessary, the route or unit to be followed thereto.
- Initial targets or sectors of fire.
- Time of opening fire.
- Subsequent action.
- Instructions concerning supply of ammunition.
- Location of the battalion aid station and any other administrative instructions.
- Instructions concerning signal communication, including prearranged signals.
- Location of platoon leader and company commander.
- Section and squad leaders.--
- Section leaders promptly notify any squad leader whose squad is attached to a rifle unit. Attack orders of section leaders to squad leaders remaining under their command include: necessary information of the enemy and friendly troops; mission(s) of the section; general location of each squad's firing position and any instructions concerning movement to it; each squad's target(s) or sector of fire; any restrictions on the opening or conduct of fire; any instructions concerning ammunition supply; prearranged signals, if any; and the location of the battalion aid station, section and platoon leaders, and the company commander.
- Each squad leader includes in his attack order all items of the section leader's order which pertain to his squad or its members. After the initial firing position has been occupied he issues the fire order for engaging the first target.
- Fragmentary orders.--Platoon, section, and squad leaders frequently issue their attack orders in fragmentary form, particularly when all or part of the unit is initially to follow a rifle element of the company. Such items as the location of firing positions, targets or sectors of fire, and so on, are
then frequently not issued until the vicinity of the initial firing position has been reached.
- MOVEMENT INTO FIRING POSITION.--From the off-carrier position sections move by hand to cover positions designated by section leaders. (See par. 2e (2) and (3).) Upon receipt of his section leader's order, each squad leader conducts his squad to the assigned position area, selects the exact position for his gun or mortar, directs and supervises the occupation of the firing position, and issues his fire orders. In moving to firing positions, squads make all possible use of cover and concealment so as to get their weapons into action without being discovered by the enemy. Ammunition bearers usually remain in cover positions when not delivering ammunition.
- TARGETS.--For appropriate targets for light machine guns and mortars, see paragraphs 2c (1) and (2) and 163.
- SUPPORTING FIRES DURING ATTACK.--
- General.--For the tactical employment of light machine guns and 60-mm mortars during attack and pursuit, see paragraphs 21d and 25b.
- Control.--Whenever the platoon leader is controlling the platoon as a unit, his position should, if practicable, be close enough to the company commander to facilitate ready intercommunication between them. When the company commander detaches one section to operate under his own control, the platoon leader accompanies and controls the remaining section.
- Light machine-gun section.--
- In the attack the light machine guns are usually employed under company control. The missions assigned the light machine-gun squads in the attack generally will be one or more of the following:
- To support, by fire, rifle units of their own company or adjacent companies. Frequently the section is directed to follow a specified rifle unit, or a general route along a flank of the company, and occupy successive firing positions to accomplish this mission.
- To protect the flanks of the company.
- To cover the reorganization of the company.
- To break up hostile counterattacks.
- The section leader, or platoon leader if he is controlling the section, must be constantly in touch with the situation on the nearest flank of the company and alert for opportunities to maneuver his squads to positions from which flanking or oblique fire may be delivered on enemy groups holding up the advance of rifle units.
- 60-mm mortar section.--During the attack, the mission of the section and squad leaders is to have their mortars in position with observation established so as to be able promptly and effectively to take under fire those targets assigned by the company commander or platoon leader. Squad leaders are particularly alert to engage targets which are too close to friendly troops to permit the employment of artillery or 81-mm mortars against them.
- When the mission assigned can no longer be effectively accomplished from the initial firing position, the section leader effects a displacement of his unit. The displacement must be regulated so as to cause as little interruption as possible in the continuity of fire support. Sections may move forward as a unit during a lull in the fighting or when continuous support is not required. When the leading rifle echelon is in motion or when continuous fire support is required for other reasons, displacement is by squad echelon. Squads remaining in position take over the fire missions of those moving forward. Planning ahead for displacement begins as soon as squads occupy initial firing positions and are ready to fire. When advancing by squad echelon, the section or platoon leader, followed by the first echelon, goes forward to select the new positions. He prescribes the time the rear echelon will displace, or he may signal it forward. When the section or platoon advances as a unit, the leader, accompanied by a messenger, moves forward to reconnoiter the new positions. After locating the general position area, he selects a cover position nearby, and by signals or messenger directs the squads or sections to move to the cover position. Squad leaders conduct their squads to the designated point. In moving forward all squads make use of available cover, concealment, and defiladed routes.
- When detached from his section, a squad leader advances his squad to new positions when the progress of the
attack makes it impossible to continue firing on the assigned mission or sector from the old position. Forward displacement must be made aggressively, the squad frequently moving close behind or on the flank of the leading echelon of a rifle platoon.
- SUPPORTING FIRES DURING ASSAULT.--When the advance of the assaulting echelon of the company masks their supporting fires, sections shift fires as follows:
- Light machine guns--to hostile elements on the flanks of the position being assaulted, in order to neutralize their cross fires on the assaulting riflemen. Squad leaders shift fires on their own initiative, if not ordered to do so by the section leader.
- 60-mm mortars--to suitable targets in adjacent or rearward hostile positions which open fire on the assaulting riflemen. (See par. 163.)
- As soon as a hostile position is captured or the attack is halted for any reason, the company commander or platoon leader directs section leaders to positions from which their weapons can protect the front and flanks of the leading rifle platoons against counterattack during reorganization. In the absence of orders, section leaders take prompt action to insure this protection.
- Section leaders replace squad leaders and key men who have become casualties and report their strength and ammunition requirements to the platoon leader, or, if detached from the platoon, to the company commander. Reconnaissance for positions to support a resumption of the attack is commenced promptly by the platoon and sections leaders.
- NIGHT EMPLOYMENT.--
- Under conditions of reduced visibility the effectiveness of the light machine gun and 60-mm mortar as weapons of opportunity is correspondingly reduced. At night they are seldom employed except in the execution of prearranged fires.
- The light machine guns and 60-mm mortars are not ordinarily employed for supporting fires during a night attack. (See par. 34.) Sections move to the objective as directed by the company commander. During darkness approximate position areas are located. Section leaders should be prepared
to select and prepare the actual firing positions quickly in the semidaylight available at dawn.
- Light machine guns.--
- In order to coordinate their action with the battalion plan of defensive fires, the battalion order assigns the locations, sectors of fire, and final protective line of the light machine guns placed in close support of the main line of resistance; and the locations and missions for light machine guns located in rear of the main line of resistance. The commander of the heavy weapons company may be charged by the battalion commander with the coordination of the light machine guns with the heavy machine guns. A reserve company's light machine guns initially emplaced in rear of the main line of resistance are released to the company when it is ordered to counterattack.
- Whenever practicable, the light machine guns are emplaced within their company defense areas for the execution of their missions.
- The orders to the light machine-gun section include the limits of its assigned sector of fire; the direction of the final protective line, if the section is covering a part of the main line of resistance; when to open or withhold fire; and other instructions necessary to meet any probable enemy action.
- 60-mm mortars.--
- The mission of 60-mm mortars of a front-line rifle company in defense is to fill with fire small gaps in the final protective lines of the machine guns not covered by 81-mm mortar, artillery, or other fires, and to place fires in defiladed areas in front of the position to break up the hostile attack before it reaches the battle position. When the enemy penetrates a portion of the main line of resistance, the 60-mm mortars fire on enemy forces trying to deepen or widen the gap and also fire in support of friendly counterattacks.
- Whenever observation can be obtained over the front and flanks of the company area from a single locality, all mortars are emplaced so that fires can be conducted by centralized
control. When necessary, because of lack of suitable observation or positions from which the whole company sector can be covered, squads are attached to rifle platoons. The company commander's order for the defense designates the mortar units to be attached to rifle platoons and those that are to be held under company control. When a mortar squad is attached to a rifle platoon, the rifle platoon leader directs its action. However, primary target areas (final protective fires) are assigned the squads by the company commander and take precedence over other fires.
- The 60-mm mortars of the reserve company may be used initially in close support of the main line of resistance, provided they can be made available to the reserve company when that company is committed. When the reserve company occupies a prepared position the 60-mm mortars are attached to rifle platoons or held under company control as for a front-line company. When the reserve company counterattacks, the 60-mm mortars are employed as in attack.
- RECONNAISSANCE.--Section leaders precede their sections to position areas to receive the platoon leader's order. They reconnoiter for and select firing positions before issuing their orders.
- SELECTION OF FIRING POSITIONS.--
- General--In the defense, primary and alternate firing positions are prepared for light machine guns and 60-mm mortars. Supplementary firing positions are prepared as required. (See par. 2e(1).)
- Light machine guns.--
- The mission assigned the squad governs the selection of firing positions. Other factors in selecting a position are:
- Safety for gun and personnel (cover and concealment).
- Routes of approach for the occupation of the position and for the supply of the position after occupation.
- Availability of one or more alternate positions.
- Missions for light machine guns located in the rear part of the battalion area include limiting likely penetrations, fire into forward platoon defense areas should these be captured by the enemy, and flank protection of the battalion. Supplementary positions usually will be required.
- 60-mm mortars.--Firing positions selected for the mortars must--
- Be defiladed from hostile view.
- Permit the accomplishment of the assigned missions.
- Provide observation close to the mortar position. The mortar should be emplaced within approximately 100 yards of the observer. The firing positions should be well forward and included in or be directly protected by the rifle platoon defense areas. Ammunition bearers armed with carbines afford close protection. The mortar observer is located within easy signaling distance of the company commander or platoon leader, depending upon which is controlling the fire. If attached to a rifle platoon, the observer's position is near the rifle platoon leader.
- SECTORS OF FIRE AND TARGET AREAS.--
- The two light machine-gun squads are usually employed by section and assigned the same sector of fire. Both guns are sited to fire as nearly as possible on the same final protective line. In a defense in woods it may be necessary to employ the guns singly in order to avoid clearing obvious fire lanes.
- Each 60-mm mortar squad is assigned a sector of fire, one primary target area, and any number of secondary target areas. The company commander assigns primary target areas. The weapons platoon leader assigns secondary target areas and sectors of fire in accordance with the company plan of defense. Rifle platoon leaders assign these for mortar squads attached to their platoons. Target areas should not exceed approximately 50 by 50 yards. Mortar squads attached to rifle platoons include in their sectors of fire the frontage of the rifle platoon.
- Orders of the platoon or section leaders may include--
- Essential information of the enemy.
- Location of the main line of resistance and security forces.
- Primary and alternate firing positions.
- Sectors of fire. Also final protective lines for light machine guns on the main line of resistance, and primary and secondary target areas for all mortars.
- Supplementary firing positions (if any) and missions to be fired.
- Organization of the ground, including type of emplacements and accessory defenses to be constructed.
- Instructions concerning ammunition supply.
- Instructions for opening fires.
- Instructions for final protective fires (fires on final protective lines and on primary target areas) to include--signal for this fire, location from which signal will be given, and rates and duration of fire.
- Location of battalion aid station.
- Location of company and platoon command posts and of section leaders.
- The squad leader bases his orders on those of the section or platoon leader. He indicates the exact spot on which the gun or mortar is to be mounted and directs clearing of fields of fire and the preparation and camouflage of primary, alternate, and supplementary firing positions.
- OCCUPATION AND ORGANIZATION OF FIRING POSITIONS.--
- Arrival at position.--Upon arrival at the firing position each light machine gun and mortar is mounted, concealed, and camouflaged in an emergency firing position prepared to open fire at once and to cover its assigned sector of fire.
- Light machine-gun section.--
- Work is begun on primary emplacements, clearing fields of fire, and distributing ammunition to the firing positions. The two guns should be placed at least 30 yards apart. (See par. 165.) When the necessary clearing for the primary position is completed, similar work is commenced on alternate emplacements. Supplementary emplacements are next in priority.
- Natural cover, drainage lines, ditches, and other defilade are used for communication and movement to alternate and supplementary positions. Dummy positions are coordinated with those of the rifle units located in the area.
- Range cards are prepared by squad leaders for each firing position. Preparations are made to lay the guns and fire on final protective lines both from primary and alternate firing positions.
- For details of defensive works, see FM 5-15; for preparation of range cards, see FM 23-45.
- 60-mm mortar section.--
- As soon as the mortars are mounted in temporary positions, the actual positions are constructed, camouflaged, and stocked with ammunition; and the mortars are mounted in these positions. (See figs. 35 and 36.) The primary mortar position and the observation post are first constructed and then shelter for the ammunition bearers. Alternate positions are constructed in a similar manner. The alternate position should be sufficiently far from the primary position to be out of the zone of fire directed at the primary position (usually about 50-100 yards) and have a covered route of movement to it. Supplementary positions are also prepared as necessary. (See par. 165.)
- Firing data are recorded by each squad leader as described in FM 23-85; one copy of each range card is furnished the officer directing the fire. For coordination of defensive fires, see paragraphs 66d and 67. The weapons platoon leader prepares and furnishes the company commander with a sketch showing the prepared mortar fires. (See fig. 28.)
- Camouflage.--Camouflage is executed concurrently with the construction of the defensive works. Spoil not used in parapets is disposed of as soon as dug. Parapets are tramped down and sodded as fast as they are finished. The making of new paths ending at installations is avoided.
- STORAGE OF AMMUNITION AT FIRING POSITIONS.--Ammunition placed at the firing positions of the light machine guns and 60-mm mortars in a defensive situation should be protected in ammunition shelters constructed at or near the position. Ammunition shelters may be provided by extending the emplacement to either side and roofing the top of the ditch with light logs and earth, suitably camouflaged, or by tunneling out to provide storage space. The floor of the ammunition shelter should be slightly higher than the floor of the emplacement and sloping to provide drainage. The essential requirements for ammunition are that it be convenient for the gun crew, and be kept dry and concealed.
- POSITION OF LEADERS.--
- Platoon.--The platoon leader takes position where he can best observe and control the units of the platoon under his control. His position
should permit easy communication with the company commander.
- Section.--During combat, section leaders select a position from which they can best observe the sector of fire
Sketch showing prepared mortar fires.
assigned the section and control the actions of their squads. The light machine-gun section leader directs and controls fire and gives specific orders as to when the guns should switch to final protective fires. When two or more mortars
are grouped together, the 60-mm mortar section leader usually remains with this group.
- Each light machine-gun squad leader stations himself close to and in rear of the gun position. He supervises the actions of the gun crew and ammunition carriers. He observes the fire for effect and directs adjustment.
- In combat the mortar squad leader is the observer. He locates his observation post near, or within easy signaling distance of, the commander controlling the fire of his mortar.
- CONDUCT OF THE DEFENSE.--
- Light machine-gun section.--
- Fires of all guns on the main line of resistance are withheld until the enemy is within 500 yards. As the enemy attack advances, the light machine-gun section engages any suitable targets in its sector of fire. Individual scouts preceding the hostile attack are not remunerative machine-gun targets. As the enemy closes with the position, guns are fired on their final protective lines. Final protective fires may be released upon pyrotechnic signals sent up by front-line commanders or upon orders of higher commanders. Whenever the guns are not firing they are laid on their final protective line.
- When final protective fires are called for from the front line, only those machine guns open fire whose final protective lines protect the unit calling for such fire.
- When visibility is good the section leader determines the rate and duration of fire on final protective lines.
- Under conditions of reduced visibility, the company order may specify the rate and duration of fire. In the absence of instructions, the usual section rate is 125 rounds per minute for two minutes and then 60 rounds per minute until ordered to cease fire. The latter rate of fire is maintained by firing single shots.
- Light machine guns (usually those of the reserve company) located in the rear part of the battalion defense area are assigned the missions of stopping any hostile elements which succeed in breaking through the main line of resistance, stopping a hostile envelopment, or supporting counterattacks.
- Because of certain limitations of mount and gun, the light machine guns are rarely employed for long-range fires or for antiaircraft fires.
- In event of a hostile penetration of a portion of the main line of resistance, light machine guns fire on the hostile troops within their sectors of fire. They support friendly counterattacks in accordance with the plan of attack developed by the company commander of the reserve company. As the enemy is forced out of the salient he is pursued by fire.
- Leaders of the light machine-gun section and squads observe the hostile approaches within assigned sectors, including flanks and rear. Once he appears, the enemy is kept under direct observation. The leaders strive to take the enemy under the combination of surprise and flanking fire.
- 60-mm mortar section.--
- When not firing on other targets, mortars are laid to fire on their primary target areas.
- The fire plan includes conditions under which fires are released; conditions for moving to supplementary positions; conditions for firing on primary target areas, special signals for such fire, and location from which the signal will be fired or given.
- During periods of visibility the section (or squad) leader determines the rate and duration of fire on primary target areas. Where final protective fires are called for during periods of reduced visibility, only those mortars open fire whose primary target areas are in support of the area calling for such fire. The company order may state the rate and duration of fire under conditions of low visibility. In the absence of instructions the usual rate is 9 rounds per minute for two minutes and thereafter 6 rounds per minute until ordered to cease fire.
- When an ample ammunition supply is available at the various positions, squad and section leaders may be authorized to take favorable targets of opportunity under fire. Squads attached to rifle platoons will normally place fires on orders of the rifle platoon leader, except when firing on their primary target area; squads not so attached receive fire missions directly from the company commander or from the weapons platoon leader.
- Except when firing on the primary target area, squad leaders are authorized to move to an alternate position when
the effects of hostile fire indicate that the move will insure a more certain continuance of the fire mission.
- AMMUNITION SUPPLY.--For ammunition supply in the defense, see paragraph 201d.
- NIGHT EMPLOYMENT.--
- At night the light machine guns of front-line rifle companies are laid on their final protective lines. In case of a raid or night attack, machine gunners deliver final protective fires to break up the assault.
- Light machine guns of rear areas may be ordered to occupy supplementary positions in close support of the main line of resistance at night to cover probable enemy approaches.
- The mortar squad and section prepare and record fire data during daylight. They fire for adjustment when permitted.
- Night.--In a night withdrawal one light machine gun and one or two 60-mm mortars may be left in position with the company covering force. (See fig. 10 (1) and (2). Only two men stay with each weapon left with the covering force. It is desirable that carriers be available close by for expediting the withdrawal of these personnel and weapons. The remainder of the weapons platoon withdraws with the rifle company.
- Light machine-gun section.--
- In a daylight withdrawal, the light machine guns are employed by the company commander to cover the withdrawal of the company. When the company withdraws by platoon the light machine-gun section may be withdrawn first to a position from which it can cover the gaps created by the withdrawal of platoons. The section then withdraws under protection of rifle elements.
- When the company withdraws platoons simultaneously by thinning from all platoons, the light machine guns initially may be held to cover the entire company front. They withdraw with the last of the rifle elements from the forward position. The two gun squads withdraw singly, one gun moving to a rear covering position established by rifle elements of the company, the other gun remaining in place until the first gun is in the rear position.
- Battalion supporting weapons in the rifle company area may be attached to the company for the withdrawal. The
actions of the light machine guns are coordinated with any attached heavy machine guns.
- 60-mm mortar section.--During a daylight withdrawal, mortar squads usually are attached to rifle platoons. They effect their withdrawal under the order of the rifle platoon leader. When employed as a section the withdrawal is under the direction of the weapons platoon leader.