Lt Col Anthony B. Herbert's Tactical Tips.
The page below is another selected extract from Soldier's Handbook (Cloverleaf Press, 1979) by Lt Col Anthony B. Herbert and complements that on
. Since Soldier's Handbook cost $100 when first published back in 1979 many currently serving Soldiers who would benefit from Lt Col. Herbert's words would not otherwise get a chance to see them. It is to rectify this that I place a small part of this book on the web and hope this meets Lt Col. Herbert's approval.
1. K I S S -Keep It Simple Soldier complicated plans minus extensive detailed rehearsal permit too much room for error.
Troop leading steps.
Receive the mission.
Plan use of time.
Analyze the terrain by use of your map in the light of the situation,' i.e., both tactical and administrative.
Form a preliminary, general, plan.
Issue a warning order.
Brief statement of enemy and friendly situation.
State in a clear concise manner and tone. Tailor to fit the patrol; however, keep it as close to the mission given in the briefing as possible.
General and special organization to include element and team organization and individual duties.
Uniform and equipment common to all, to include identification and camouflage measures.
Weapons, ammunition and equipment each member will carry. Instructions for obtaining rations, water, weapons, ammunition and equipment.
Chain of command.
A time schedule for the patrol's guidance. Organize it to show where, what, and who. Also, state who will accompany patrol leader on reconnaissance. Who will supervise patrol member's preparation during the patrol leader's absence. Also, special tasks for other patrol members to perform.
Time, place, uniform and equipment for receiving the patrol order.
Times and places for inspections and rehearsals.
Use the warning order card.
While the troops are getting ready under the supervision of your assistant, go to the map and your patrol order card, to complete your plan. The patrol order card can be utilized for any tactical maneuver plan, if you consider all tactics as patrols, which they are.
Patrol Order Card.
Enemy forces: weather, terrain, identification, location, activity, strength.
Friendly forces: mission of next higher unit, location and planned action of units on right and left, fire support available for patrol, mission and routes of other patrols.
Attachments and detachments.
Mission. What the patrol is going to do.
Execution. (sub-paragraph for each subordinate unit)
Specific duties of elements, teams, and individuals..
Coordinating instructions: times of departure and return, passage of friendly positions, route and alternate route of return, rehearsals and inspections, action at danger areas, upon enemy contact, at rallying points and objective, initial formation, initial rallying, reporting results of patrol -when and to whom.
Administration and logistics. Arms and ammunition. Special equipment- which members will carry and use. Uniforms, camouflage. Rations and water. Method of handling prisoners and wounded.
Command and signal. Signals to be used for control within the patrol, radio channels and call signs. Special code. Method of reporting progress challenge and password. Chain of command. Location in formation of leader, other key men.
Issue the order.
Conduct any rehearsals necessary.
Inspect. Check your unit to insure everything is as you want it to be, before moving out-on any type mission.
Complete the mission.
Keys To Success of All Tactics.
KISS - Keep It Simple Soldier.
Consider the human element in planning and issuing orders. It takes time for men to react and to perform.
Hedge all bets. Never risk losing the advantages of surprise, shock action, and firepower.
Maintain flexibility for fire and maneuver.
e. Maintain control, but don't restrict subordinate action to a point of ridiculousness (which is what many commanders do).
Keys To Success, During Movements.
Position yourself in the formation at the most critical point, from which assessments can best be made and control maintained at the squad level, this generally means up near the front, when moving in file or column, just behind the point, and centered, to the rear of the squad when its moving forward on line. At the platoon level, following the lead squad. At company level, just aft of the lead platoon or with it. At battalion level, it generally means hanging in there, with the lead company.
Insure that physical as well as radio contact is maintained between units.
Position some heavy weapons near the front of the formation, for shock action response to contact. Squads keep an AR up right behind the squad leader, if not with the point. Platoons consider an LMG, to be used in the same manner, etc.
Never separate yourself from the unit, for an individual type recon you're not in Ft. Benning, firing blanks-use your map and your head.
Everyone takes up firing positions at all halts in such a manner as to provide all-around security.
Know at all times your approximate location, i.e., between check points 5 and 6, etc.
Everyone travels at the ready, i.e., no sling arms.
Plan as you go
Keys to Success, Daylight Attack.
Dump packs and rucksacks-go in light, to fight.
Cross LD, if possible, with platoons abreast, squads abreast, within platoons, squads in column, rather than file-in order to be capable of responding immediately upon contact with broad front heavy volume of fire, without having to have individuals run hundreds of yards from the rear in
order to get on line.
Commence fire support onto the objective just prior to crossing the LD..
Place smoke between your unit and the objective, not on either your unit or the objective., Except for unusual circumstances.
Emplace LMGs at the earliest opportunity, which permits them to be employed effectively, and prior to the lifting and shifting of indirect fire support.
Insure that all direct fire support weapons such as LMGs, recoilless rifles etc are positioned so that their fires will not be masked by troops until after assault fires are commenced.
Don't halt or hesitate upon arrival at the assault line position; individuals should move immediately onto line and take up the fire. (if squads are abreast as in b above, this will present no problem.)
Keep the assault line up and moving forward-don't let men hit the dirt and get pinned down -keep up a heavy steady volume of effective fire.
Keep fire low- ricochets kill.
Cross the entire objective area-to the far side military crest in most instances.
Get everyone down in position immediately.
Post OPs and/or LPs.
Redistribute ammunition as necessary.
Position LMGs.-they should have been on the move forward, as soon as their fires became masked.
Register support fires.
Adjust defense to take advantage of terrain.
Take care of wounded.
Now take care of admin and reports.
Mines, tactical wire, booby trap installation, etc. (improve the defense.)
Keys To Success, Night Attack.
Drop packs-travel light.
Night movement rules:
Move in bounds-move, halt, listen, observe, move.
Stay in the open -along the edges of fields, etc., In the shadows, but out of the heavy dense brush, to keep the noise down, and the movement rapid.
Guide on prominent terrain features -hills, streams, tree lines, roads, etc.
Keep running to a minimum, and only in an emergency-deliberately, and take your time.
Have troops use tie-downs at thighs, knees and ankles.
Have troops wear soft caps instead of helmets.
Use tape to secure rifle slings, loose gear, etc.
Enforce noise discipline-can the chatter, etc.
Keep radio traffic to a minimum-don't let senior commanders interfere needlessly with continuous uncalled-for traffic. As a last resort, tune them out, if necessary.
Don't let senior commanders rush you into neglecting the rules-have the courage to make the on-the-spot necessary decisions.
Cross the LD, platoons abreast, squad abreast within platoons, squads in column
Hold off on use of support fires, in order to maintain the element of surprise, until necessary.
If attack not triggered by enemy halt at PLD and move onto assault line deliberately, cautiously, and without being discovered.
Move the assault forward, holding fire until fired upon - get as close as possible- when fired upon, return a heavy and sudden volume of fire, and maintain it, with the assault moving forward over and through the objectiv
Control grenade throwing- a grenade thrown up hill, when it does not reach the crest, generally comes rolling back down.
Cross completely over the objective area, to the far side military crest.
Prepare defense exactly as outlined for daylight attack, except forget about digging in-save the energy-the positions are going to have to be adjusted at first light.
Keys To Success, Raid.
a. Use Keys To Success, Daylight Or Night Attack, as appropriate, plus:
Know where you are, at all times, in relation to the objective
Orient unit to objective, at earliest possible opportunity, in order to maintain the advantages of surprise and shock action
Keys To Success, Ambush.
Surprise-getting into position in secrecy. This means, generally, no digging in, no movement at site, no eating there, no smoking, no hair oil smell on troops, silence, etc.
All around security at site-emplaced in such a way that their firepower can also be utilized during the ambush covering the entire target zone
Insure that your troops are spread out enough to be able to provide fire over the entire target.
Shock action -opening fire must be as heavy as possible (automatic), and the entire target must come under fire at initial burst.
Take time to do the job correctly - you have time, the enemy doesn't react any quicker than we do; no follow up unit is about to come racing in to any place where another unit has just been creamed, so no need to race off.
Rally on the objective site-assault element rallies on the target, search, finish the job, etc. Organize for withdrawal, issue a short order, then move out-organized and under control, ready to fight again -picking up security elements as you pull out.
Keys To Success, Recon.
Secrecy -insure at inspection, no one with coughs, no hair oil odors, no loose gear to rattle, keep the patrol down to as few as can do the job, use concealed routes for traveling, control noise (can the chatter), travel light, etc.
Covering fire-anytime a troop is doing a job, another troop should be in position ready to provide covering fire as required.
Keys To Success, Counter-Ambush Attack.
Well rehearsed drills-each unit must have well established, simple, clear cut counter-ambush sop-and be practiced in executing them.
Attack the ambush assault element this means, generally, attacking into the face of the fire you're drawing. Ambushes are set up so as to do the most damage to a unit as it attempts to escape away from the fire; you must react to counter this by:
Hitting the dirt as soon as you come under fire.
Returning a heavy volume of fire immediately.
Assessing the situation, but quickly
Counter attack the assault unit by use of fire and maneuver-not a head on assault, except for in unusual circumstances.
Make use of preplanned support fires etc
Maintain control of your unit, and fight as a unit, not as individuals.
Assign every member of a patrol a specific area of responsibility for both while on the move and during halts, to include overhead and to the rear.
Assign more than one man to act as pacers and use the average count for determining distances.
Don't ever assign any other duties than point security to the point man or men, and ensure that others are always in position to provide covering fire for the point as required.
Make use of seemingly impassable terrain for approaches to objectives, etc., Many times they are less likely to be covered by fire.
After halts, prior to movement, have the last man in the patrol send up the count , ensure the patrol is ready to move out, before movement.
When traveling ridgelines, etc., Stay off the skyline.
Cut through enemy wire, only when absolutely necessary.
Select check points, based on a good map. Recon, prior to departure, then confirm them on the terrain as you pass, considering them as rally points as you pass each.
Test fire all weapons, prior to departure.
Use weapons of like caliber, to facilitate ammunition redistribution, as required.
Carry gloves, for use in brush, etc.
Keep cutting edges of entrenching tools sharp enough to be used as weapons.
Lengths of rope carried around the waists do not interfere with duties, and become invaluable on patrols.
Make use of light automatic weapons for shock action.
A can of lit sterno or candle under a poncho is a good way to warm, but do not inhale sterno or canned heat fumes as they are fatal.
Use binoculars both day and night.
Keep knives extra sharp.
Carry two each of small critical items such as crimpers, wire cutters, etc. And with different individuals.
Carry extra batteries for radios, etc.,on long patrols.
Ponchos can be used for constructing rafts, protection against weather, shelters, litter construction, gathering water, etc.; Ensure the patrol carries at least two.
Consider the use of scout dogs and handlers.
Two pieces of luminous tape, about like a captain's insignia, taped or sewn to the back of the cap or collar, aids in control, during night operations.
A 4 x 4 inch square piece of luminous tape makes a good night signallng device over short distances. It can also be used under certain conditions of weakened light by which to read
Carry cleaning equipment for each type weapon carried.
Tape weapons, so that slings, swivels etc., Can not rattle, during movement' and ensure that the taping does not interfere with the operation of the weapon.
Use camouflage paste, soot, grease, etc. Freely, and as often as required.
Clear acetate over a patch of luminous tape provides a neat sheet on which instructions can be written, for use at night, and read without the use of artificial lights.
LMG ammo can be carried efficiently in a pack on the chest-and under no circumstance let troops carry it loose and over the neck (noisy, rusts, becomes inoperable, but fast).
Ensure that all grenades carried are attached properly and can be reached easily.
All planned signals must be kept simple, to a minimum, and understood by every member of the unit.
Avoid use of password forward of friendly lines. Plan an alternate password for use out there. A number is excellent, i.e., eight, if i give six, then countersign is two; if i give three, the next time, then the countersign is five, etc.
Coordinate fully with the unit through which you must pass both in and out of friendly front lines, before doing so, to ensure security, safety, and to pick on any last minute info available, which might be of use.
Ask FFL OPs and LPs to be prepared to provide covering fire for your patrol, upon request, should your unit be hit while still within range.
Fold and prepare all maps prior to departure.
Shotguns, 5 shot capacity. Are primary weapons for ambushes, as well as excellent weapons for point men.
Spare clothing should be carried, only for sleeping dry; wet clothing must be donned again, for operations.
Use hand saws or gigli saws for cutting in enemy territory, for silence.
Approach marches should be made at night; population centers avoided.
Not more than one track should be permitted to lead into any clandestine base; it should be well camouflaged, and covered by fire.
No one should be permitted to sleep minus his gear on and ready for instant reaction or to take off any gear during combat operations.
No one must ever be out of arm's reach of his weapon.
All movement of units in combat zone must be considered as tactical movements, even when behind own lines.
On the move, cut through brush only as a last resort.
When crossing streams or other critical possible danger zones, get into position to provide covering fire for scouts, send them out to recon, when appropriate get security across to far side, then follow with the rest of the unit, bringing up rear security last, obliterate all tracks made on trails, etc.
When moving through close scrub forest, avoid using saplings for support as their shaking tops can be seen as well as heard over great distances.
Speed of movement will be dictated both by the terrain and the patrol's slowest moving element, and not by the commander's desires.
Halt frequently, for listening, especially at night; every one takes assigned security positions.
Look through foliage and forests rather than at it- focus beyond the obvious.
A patrol must freeze at any unusual sign, smell, movement-and scuffling about and verbal communication must be absolutely forbidden.
When moving at night, take advantage of noises such as the wind, vehicle movements, planes, shellings, battle sounds, insect noises, etc.
Use stars to aid as navigation, checking with compass, now and then.
Avoid lateral movement across both enemy and friendly line positions.
Consider use of support preplanned fires as aids to navigation, when necessary.
No smoking period, forward of friendly front lines.
No ear flaps down, forward of friendly front lines.
No civilian radios, forward of friendly front lines.
Should a patrol or unit become separated during movement, the rear element halts and takes up security positions, and waits for the lead element to discover the loss, to backtrack, and to re-establish contact.
Easier to follow grain of the topography such as hilltops, ridgelines, animal trails, etc., Than to go against it.
Avoid low country and river lines; they offer heavy, dense brush, and they meander too much.
Four action drills all units should be well rehearsed in:
Freeze- on signal (arm up or whatever), all freeze in position, and no one moves unless signaled to do so or unless enemy opens fire, at which time fire is returned.
Hasty ambush - Point signals "enemy to front," signal is relayed back through patrol and direction of enemy is indicated, patrol takes up positions quickly and quietly, no one opens fire until patrol leader fires first short or unless fired upon, then assault or withdraw upon patrol leader's order, depending upon requirements.
Immediate assault - come face to face with enemy suddenly and unexpectedly, whomever fires, and shouts, "enemy, front," or wherever, the patrol moves on line and assaults, immediately.
Counter ambush drills.
At ambush sites all movement must be forbidden and considered as enemy.
For night ambushes, the patrol should move into position at last light; if observed by indigenous personnel, the patrol must move again after dark, to take advantage of the fact that they have been compromised.
Travel as light as possible, within the requirements of the mission. Drop packs, whenever possible, for later pick up, after action.
Mark maps only with enemy info, not friendly.
On long patrols, men must be permited to rest and sleep, but security must be maintained.
The best nights for patrols are dark rainy, windy, restricted visibility nights.
Do not let love of creature comforts jeopardize the mission accomplishment
Take turns carrying the heavy equipment.
Consider advantages of fragmentation white phosphorus, concussion, smoke rifle, flare and thermite grenades for possible use.
Folded tinfoil is lighter and more compact to carry than metal pots, pans and cups, and can be used in lieu of them:
Dry food packets have advantages over wet rations.
Matches can be waterproofed by dipping their heads in melted wax.
Water can be boiled in a paper cup, even over an open flame.
Wallets and valuable notes, etc., should be carried in a waterproof plastic bag.
Do not establish travel patterns in enemy territory.
The advantages of night attack over daylight attack has so many advantages that i've come to believe that only a commander who has no confidence in himself or his troops makes daylight attacks of his own choice. The night belongs to the trained, the skilled. It belongs to you, use it.
Prisoners of War/Detainees.
Silence them - (Gag if necessary)
Speed them to the rear.
Patrol captures enemy soldier.
You can send him back to lines with two of your patrol, reducing the patrol's combat effectiveness,
You can take him along with patrol, endangering the patrol, by sacrificing stealth.
You can tie and gag him, mark location, call back for another patrol or bird to be sent in to pick him up later, when such a maneuve would no longer jeopardize your mission.
You can tie, gag, and markm for pick up on patrol's return, which is always dangerous.
Killing him is not one of your options
Adjusting Artillery Fire.
In Vietnam our artillery was virtually ineffective by the time an observer would get on target of troops in the open via the bracketing or creeping method of adjustment ~the target had gone underground or back into caves rendering air bursts, vt and all the rest of it completely ineffective against them. So depending on time, place and type of target your next chance out you might consider this alternate method of adjustment:
Estimate the distance to the target, neither over nor short; call for one round or smoke.
Look through your glasses at the hit. Measure the mils distance between the round and the target for deflection. ie estimate how much to up or down. And call for fire for effect.
The entire process takes second. You'll catch the target out in the open where you can do damage.
You'll have your misses. But with practice you can become damn excellent at this method of adjustment. Besides, you'll have your hits too, even at the beginning; the other way you never get anything. Be bold.
Hair oils, shaving creams, lotions. They have no place in a combat zone and are dead giveaways on patrols, in defensive positions, etc. Do without them. If you can at least make sure no troop smells of them before going on patrol out in the bush.
Bypassing enemy protective wire
Avoid cutting if possible, lay on your back and crawl slowly and carefully beneath the lowest strands.
If cutting is necessary:
Push two pegs into the ground 2 body widths apart.
Fold cloth over the points to be cut before cutting (muffles sound).
Wrap each strand around a peg as it's cut to maintain tension on the remainder of the fence (this prevents inadvertently triggering pull-release type booby traps).
Flame Thrower Firing.
Fire the fuel first, spraying it inot the target area.
Strike the match at the tail end of the spray. i.e. just prior to terminating the spray.
This permits the fuel to burn at target instread of in the air on the way, as the recommended method of firing does.
An alternate method is to fire the fuel into the target, let up on fuel, strike the match then fire a second burst igniting the saturated target.
Taking Out a Sentry.
From hiding study the sentry's movements.
Select a point along his route of travel from which he could be easily ambushed.
Time his movements from the time he passes that point until the time he returns to pass the point again.
With a buddy covering you, when the sentry is furthest along his route from that point (½ the time it took him to pass and return to that point before), move into ambush position.
When the sentry returns, spring the ambush; should the ambush be triggered early, for any reason, your buddy fires and kills the sentry, since silence and surprise have been compromised anyway.
Foxholes vs. Bunkers.
Bunkers are for hiding in, not fighting from; we fight from foxholes.
All around visibility and fields of fire
Easy access into and out of 360 degrees.
Minimum effort to construct.
Not vulnerable to flat trajectory fire, i.e., rockets, etc.
Time-plan the use of time realistically. A senior commander 4000 feet overhead in a helicopter may want you to move your unit from point a to point b in such and such a period, but a helicopter is not a jungle, and a jungle is not a map. You're on the spot- you know your men. Don't be afraid to say "impossible" when it damn well is impossible to do correctly.
Know your men -as well as studying them, study their form 20S. Men bring in a lot of skills with them from civilian life, from flower arranging to street-gang leader, which can be made use of by the military, while getting the bonus effect of adding to the man's own prestige and self-image.
Give credit to subordinates for successes and take the responsibility for failures it's what leaders are paid to do and you can't go wrong doing it.
Don't permit orders to go disobeyed-if it's going to fall, change the order before it does, i.e., you order a troop to "give fifty" and he begins to falter at twenty to the point where you know he's just not going to make the fifty, say, "okay, Jones, that's twenty. Stand up, take a breather, then give me the rest." The idea is to condition your men that when you say something, it can and will be done. One day when you say "attack", they will.
Units win battles, not groups of individuals - when a troop drops out on a run or whatever, do not let him become isolated from the unit either physically or psychologically. First guy out, assign one of the top non-coms to drop out with him, with orders to "gather up anyone who's not up to it today, and bring up the rear". This means they make the entire run, but by run a bit, walk a bit, etc., But they come in as a unit, in step, under command, and as isolated stragglers. No stragglers - ever.
Don't isolate subordinates- don't prove points at the cost of a subordinate's mistakes at the cost of making him the fool or of stripping him of his self-dignity. You'll lose him if you do. He'll owe you nothing-and you need him to owe you and his country.
Insure that benefits are reaped from lowest to highest, and that suffering done from highest to lowest-this means for instance, that the lower the rank, the further up in the chow line, in the field etc., And the higher the rank, the further back, within each sub unit, i.e., squad leaders eat at the end of their squads platoon sergeants and leaders at the end of their platoons, and company c.o.'s last in the company. After all, if there's not enough to go around, it damn sure wasn't the lower ranks fault so why shouldthey pay for it? It's your responsibility. Take care of your troops and don't sweat it. They'll take care of you.
Permit some degree of individuality among subordinates- who the hell cares why one wants to wear his cap in a certain way in the field, while someone else wants to wear his a bit differently? If it makes them fight better, let 'em.
Your troops are special-stress it and let them know it, and that you appreciate it. Confidence is the key to success on the battlefield and confidence is built on accomplishments. Point out accomplishments at every opportunity and minimize disappointments, i.e., a night attack in training isn't as good as you'd like it; "okay, guys, in a real battle, it would have probably cut it but 'ye can do it better. We're gonna go over it again tomorrow in daylight, then try it again tomorrow night. If we were another unit, I'd probably say let it go, but not with you guys. You're better and so we're gonna do it again, until it's like you're capable of."
RHIP is bull- RHIR (Rank Has Its Responsibllities) is the word. Remember this-anytime you find yourself about to use your men as a personal servant or about to let him be used for chores that strip prestige from what he is-a soldier. Gyms have to be swept, etc., But it takes three men from a unit to do it, send a fire team, not three individuals, with your subordinate in control-to take the responsibility for the unit, to see that no individual is abused by someone else who couldn't care less-they are always your men and you can not shirk off that responsibility.
Above all, always be conditioning your troops to win while you are supposedly training them to do so - Always.
By the Author of the
Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence
Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.
US Trade Edition.
Survival Weapons: Optimizing Your Arsenal
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