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Infantry tactics and techniques

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    Posted: 11 Jan 2011 at 21:39
Just a little curious about the tactics in use now a days and how it compares from country to country, region to region or from one alliance to another?

Note: I guess it does sound a bit broad, but with over 200 countries in choosing from and a large alliance, such as Nato, and many smaller multiple ones, i couldn't quite figure out where the starting point should be.


Edited by Panther - 11 Jan 2011 at 21:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan 2011 at 09:41
I admit I do not understand the question. You want to know the differences in infantry tactics between different armies? At what level: squad? platoon? company? battalion? what type of infantry? what type of operations? There's too much in it. Specify what interests you exactly. 
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan 2011 at 20:07
Hi xristar,

For myself, i admit it is not an easy question in asking. Thought this could be pretty much an open thread on the topic?

Basically, i would like to see if we can discuss different idea and views, if any, on infantry tactics and perhaps techniques only known to be exhibited by certain countries/alliances? Most especially from people who have served in their countries armed forces! Such as organization and what has been learned or shared? What makes them different from one another? How are they similar? Currently thinking from squad to company and no higher.

What type of infantry? Any, really. What type of operations? Any pretty much. Offensive, defensive, patrol, reconn, construction, maneuver, raiding and SpecOps?

I guess what i am also trying to do is to break away from all the political discussions on the forum and focus more on trying too open more threads on history and other similar things that had originally brought us here in the first place. I hope this helps?

Panther
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2011 at 11:39
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Hi xristar,

For myself, i admit it is not an easy question in asking. Thought this could be pretty much an open thread on the topic?

Basically, i would like to see if we can discuss different idea and views, if any, on infantry tactics and perhaps techniques only known to be exhibited by certain countries/alliances? Most especially from people who have served in their countries armed forces! Such as organization and what has been learned or shared? What makes them different from one another? How are they similar? Currently thinking from squad to company and no higher.

What type of infantry? Any, really. What type of operations? Any pretty much. Offensive, defensive, patrol, reconn, construction, maneuver, raiding and SpecOps?

I guess what i am also trying to do is to break away from all the political discussions on the forum and focus more on trying too open more threads on history and other similar things that had originally brought us here in the first place. I hope this helps?

Panther

Well, I also find more interest in military topics than the political discussions that dominate the forum lately.Smile
Unfortunately I'm not really an expert on military matters, especially modern militaries. Other forums have much more knowledgable members on this subject.

Trying to reply to your original question, I must again note that its too broad.
What I can say is that indeed alliances seem to play a role in producing common doctrines, namely that Warsaw Pact armies had similar tactics and organisation, and the same goes of course for NATO armies. (However there is a limit to that, at least within NATO, and different approaches are clearly visible. )

Modern infantry tactics I believe are generally very similar in most armies, at such low level as squad-platoon-company, and they originate to WW1. The only clear difference I can see is in mechanised infantry, and the introduction of Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Probabaly because IFVs are a modern thing and have not been tried in true conventional combat (with some few exceptions), and different armies exploit them in different ways:
-the WarPacs used lightly armoured vehicles with big-calibre low-pressure guns (ie 73mm in BMP-1 and BMD-1, 100mm in BMP-3).
-NATOs use small calibre guns with better AP capabilities, and better armour. However there are differences here too: Americans treat the IFV as an upgunned APC, and the American infantry-squad remains independed from the vehicle. The Germans and others (ie Swedish in mind) use the IFV as integral part of the squad. The German infantry squad-leader stays in the IFV, while the American debuses with his squad. The German IFV fights in close cooperation with the foot-infantry while the American more in a general support.
-Israelis, with all their modern warfare experience, have decided to not use IFVs at all, and stick with APCs, which they up-armour to tank levels.

Modern non-mechanised infantry, in the sense of infantry designed to fight without IFVs, also exists, in the form of commandos, marines (amphibious infantry), air-borne infantry etc. Such infantry uses more traditional tactics.

The composition of squads, platoons and companies is probably the clearest way to see the doctrinal differences that exist between infantries, but its too specialised for me.
At squad level the basic tactics are amlost universally the same, and have been so for quite some time. The squad, is further divided in smaller sub-groups which advance in alternating leaps, with one providing covering fire while the other moves. The exact composition of those sub-groups however varies consideably.
Traditional practice since WW1 was to have a rifle half-squad and a light-machinegun half-squad (the Americans use the term Squad Automatic Weapon to describe this type of light machineguns). Modern Armerican infantry (US Army) have two similar 5-man "fire-teams" (not sure about the term) in each squad, in both of which they have one SAW. (The US marines have three 4-man "fire-teams", although as said earlier they do not count on an IFV for fire-support). By contrast the Germans have a 4-man IFV (3 crew-members and the squad-leader) acting as the fire-support element and a 6-man debusing half-squad, with one SAW.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2011 at 17:39
The organization of the basic infantry maneuver element (U.S. 'squads) in all armies I've seen is based upon the principle of fire and movement. In the Commonwealth armies, the squad base of fire element tended to be a Bren LMG or M-60 machingegun team with some support arm members (grenadiers, LAWs, etc) while the movement element was an infantry (i.e., rifleman) team, . The U.S. squad had two identical fire teams, both containing riflemen with a single BAR gunner in each. In the 60s, the Aussies dropped the Bren in favor of an M-60 in each squad, which gave them more machineguns per platoons than the U.S. (US MGs came from the Support Platoon, whose MG section (6 each M-60s) were split up among the rifle platoons, generally 2 to each. With the development of the M-79 grenade launcher, the U.S. went to one M-79 per Fire Team (2 x per squad), which by 1969 was an M-16 rifle with a M-203 grenade launcher mounted underneath. The French infantry squad (section IIRC) of the 1980s also had a tactical sniper team and an anti-tank gunner apiece. The tactical sniper (Tireur de precision) used the standard scoped sniper rifle (built upon a MAS-36 bolt action) for reaching out to touch anyone up to 800 meters.

So, while the specific organization differed from country to country, the principle of one element moving while the other provided a base of fire, remained essentially the same. What did differ is that in a U.S. squad, the fire teams could switch roles and duties (such as pointmen), whereas in other armies, their base of fire element was more fixed. (Can't imagine a Bren or M-60 gunner, or a grenadier, walking point, except in a Rambo movie)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2011 at 22:30
Originally posted by xristar xristar wrote:


Well, I also find more interest in military topics than the political discussions that dominate the forum lately.Smile
Unfortunately I'm not really an expert on military matters, especially modern militaries. Other forums have much more knowledgable members on this subject.


I think you did quite well for such a broad question. Though i wish there was more input from others. Maybe some chest thumping nationalism is needed here?Wink

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2011 at 22:38
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

The organization of the basic infantry maneuver element (U.S. 'squads) in all armies I've seen is based upon the principle of fire and movement. In the Commonwealth armies, the squad base of fire element tended to be a Bren LMG or M-60 machingegun team with some support arm members (grenadiers, LAWs, etc) while the movement element was an infantry (i.e., rifleman) team, . The U.S. squad had two identical fire teams, both containing riflemen with a single BAR gunner in each. In the 60s, the Aussies dropped the Bren in favor of an M-60 in each squad, which gave them more machineguns per platoons than the U.S. (US MGs came from the Support Platoon, whose MG section (6 each M-60s) were split up among the rifle platoons, generally 2 to each. With the development of the M-79 grenade launcher, the U.S. went to one M-79 per Fire Team (2 x per squad), which by 1969 was an M-16 rifle with a M-203 grenade launcher mounted underneath. The French infantry squad (section IIRC) of the 1980s also had a tactical sniper team and an anti-tank gunner apiece. The tactical sniper (Tireur de precision) used the standard scoped sniper rifle (built upon a MAS-36 bolt action) for reaching out to touch anyone up to 800 meters.

So, while the specific organization differed from country to country, the principle of one element moving while the other provided a base of fire, remained essentially the same. What did differ is that in a U.S. squad, the fire teams could switch roles and duties (such as pointmen), whereas in other armies, their base of fire element was more fixed. (Can't imagine a Bren or M-60 gunner, or a grenadier, walking point, except in a Rambo movie)


Fantastic contributions from both of you gentlemen! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 02:28
Panther, Since the Spanish re-invented the infantry in the early modern era, you may want to take a look at how the "Tercio" developed. The fore-runner of the Infantry Regiment, its squads included pikemen, arquebusers (wearing the 'morion', i.e., 'conquistador' helmet), crossbowmen, halbardiers, and rodeleros (fighting with small shield and long sword). Each arm had a specific role in combat. THe pikemen provided protection against cavalry. the crossbowmen and arquebusers (matchlockmen) brought down armored knights, and the halbardiers and rodeleros finished them off. As the theaters of war shifted, and war changed, so did the numbers and types of arms found in the Spanish infantry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tercio   and:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4FemYGWqL4

Ignore the Spanish language slides, and get a feel for the 'tercios'. (The 'bottles' hanging slung across the arquebuser's chest were his rounds for the match-lock.. Each contained a measure of powder and a ball.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 10:45
For a long time the Australian Army specilized in jungle warfare. Most of Australian's military delpoyments since the end of WW2 were to South East Asian nations. These days the Army is being hardend and networked for higher intensity operations. These days most of our soldiers on active service are in Afganistain. Not many jungles there.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 12:40
I can't make any thump. I am just learning here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 13:38
Me too. Te only armies I know much about were the ones around when I was in the army myself. Which is now rather a long time ago Embarrassed
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 15:27
I find this thread interesting because I have been reading up on ancient Greek tactics, early 19th century tactics, and U.S. Civil War tactics.

Most of these tactics share a common theme: battles were a massive game of chicken. You line up, you get close enough to hurt the other side, and you hope that the other side's lines will break, either through death or from freight.

The U.S. Civil War showed how, with better weapons, this was an idiotic way to conduct war. Unfortunately European generals had to learn that again in WWI.


So now, it seems from this thread that the basic idea is a group shoots to hide the enemy while another unit moves ahead? Correct? There are lines, but they are a lot more spread out, if I understand correctly. At what point does a battle is considered over? Is it reaching certain geographical points?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 17:42
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:


Most of these tactics share a common theme: battles were a massive game of chicken. You line up, you get close enough to hurt the other side, and you hope that the other side's lines will break, either through death or from freight. The U.S. Civil War showed how, with better weapons, this was an idiotic way to conduct war. Unfortunately European generals had to learn that again in WWI.


This hasn't changed. Modern armies continue to attack by approaching the enemy. If the defender doesn't flee, he gets assaulted from point blank range. It's just that modern infantry firepower is so high that infantry rarely get to hand-to-hand combat anymore. They will have already decimated each other from 50-100 meters away.

Fire and maneuver existed beofre WW1. Before WW1 infantry units didn't advance in a monolithic way, but in alternating leaps. As they got closer to the defending enemy, and the enemy fire got more effective, the groups jumping forward got smaller, the lines looser and the leaps shorter. As a result, the closer the attacking unit got to the enemy, the more of its men were firing their weapons on the enemy as opposed to men advancing. If the defender didn't retreat, the engagement ended with a grandiose bayonete&grenade assault jump leaving a definitive result.
This tactic guaranteed heavy casualties on both sides, but worked well until the early campaigns of WW1. The end of the war of movement in WW1 was brought mostly by exhaustion and not by a change in tactics. The change in tactics came later from the inability to break the deadlock, as the opposing armies dug extensive fortifications (the elaborate trenches) and brought more and more firepower to the field, making the old attacking tactics lacking.

The basic addition to infantry tactics was depth. Units no longer attacked/defended lineary, but in successive lines. When attacking now the infantry had scouts reconnoitering the enemy line ahead of the riflemen, and heavy infantry weapons (mortars, machineguns, grenade-launchers) following the riflemen, providing direct fire support. The rifle-squads also increased their own fire power by incorporating new automatic weapons (the SMGs and LMGs basically).

Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:


So now, it seems from this thread that the basic idea is a group shoots to hide the enemy while another unit moves ahead? Correct? There are lines, but they are a lot more spread out, if I understand correctly. At what point does a battle is considered over? Is it reaching certain geographical points?

As i've said above the idea of a group shooting to suppress the enemy while the other moves is old, and probably dates to the time when musket effectiveness beacme higher than that of the bayonette, which was probably sometime in early 19th century. Lines are still important and will always be. Lines, even in a scattered sense, mean that flanks are covered. Without observing a lineary deployment individual elements would find themselves exposed.

A battle obviously ends when there's no contact or at least no movement (or attempt to move). In the past, armies would seek to keep contact if they were winning (ie pursuit of a retreating enemy) and break contact if they were losing (ie to withdraw and reorganize to fight again antoher day with better odds). Single battles could determine a war, if the winning army successfully pursuited the defeated until they surrendered or were destroyed completely. In modern wars the chance of a "decisive battle" is distant. In huge wars such as WW1 or WW2 (particularly the second), individual operations couldn't bring the total destruction of the enemy anyway. An operation would end for example when the attacking army had outrunned its supply routes, or had consumed most of the existing supplies anyway and thus was needed time for the national industry to replenish them, or simply it had reached a point when the casualties were so heavy and the over extention made command shaky, that made the attacking force very vulnerable even to limited counterattacks.

For exmple after the successful Belorussian offensive in Summer '44, nothing stood between the Soviets and Berlin. After securing bridgeheads of the polish rivers, the Soviets started organising themselves defensively without actually seeing the enemy anywhere (there was none).
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?
it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 06:50
@ Lirelou - Thanks for sharing the links. A lot of fascinating history and pride there. About the music in the you tube link, wth... now i want to go forge an empire?Evil Smile

@ Birddog - that is quite alright. Any little bit of shared information is well appreciated. All i ever read about diggers, hope you don't mind me using the slang, has been mostly positive. A well deserved reputation as some very tough and fierce fighters.

@ Xristar - i think that is a brilliantly put analysis.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Centrix Redux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2011 at 06:26
It's a broad question yet can be dealt with in a narrower focus by pointing out that in general, tactics are synonomous with equipment-weapons capabilities, manpower and logistical support availability and developement of plans and training....repetitious training...usually found in the form of 'battle drills'. (which simply defined are those actions down to an individual level required to preform a mission or sub-task within) 
 
 
Which are then usually found in the form of unit SOP's (standard operating procedures)and then reinforced in doctrine with Field Manuals (FM's).  Be they offensive or defensive and or developed to encompass varying terrains, climatic conditions, specific unit types (eg. Mechanized vs Light Infantry) and specifc strategic concepts of warfare.
 
Airborne insertions and Air Assault operations, for example, are those designed to deliver a force initially, prior to other combat ops or tasks. And hence stress necessity of tasks required to conduct them but also the security of the assets necessary to preform them and much much more.
 
Secondly most modern western nations tactics and drills are sufficently similar in nature that a continuity of forces and and focus of mission is not usually in question. One exampe will suffice. In a American parlance a "movement to contact" .....while having a different name elsewhere.... is essentially the same in concept.... as to the British or French and German and with some difference in how force structure is organized; similar to the Russian counterpart.
 
Consequently focus of effort might be based on unit mission assignment-mission tasks but not in the general parameters that obtain mission accomplishment. The Russians given terrain advantages might lead with Mech Infantry and Tank Units heavily supported by CAS-Atk Rotary Avn and Indirect fires but so in general will everybody else.
 
This is the division level example and at lower levels ie. squad and platoons the concepts remain the same; the differences being in equipment-weapons, manpower and support ratios available....that are sufficiently organized to accomplish a lower level unit task. A platoon given a defensive mission for example to defend a battle position, within a company, is expected for example to defend 'x' frontage and not more then that as it is insufficently equipped-resourced to do so.
 
Many fine resources and links on this.
 
The first for example deals with MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) missions which while similar in sub-task nature-requirements and accomplishments for any infantry squad.....( the basics of fire and manuver...local security... and so forth)....require ntl additional training because of the urban environment in which the mission is placed.
 
The second link is to the actual current US Army FM's dealing with organization-tactics-log-commo-C2/3- drills and sops and misson types.
 
Enjoy.
 
 
 
 
 


Edited by Centrix Redux - 17 Mar 2011 at 08:28
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