Marines Field Guide

Marines Field Guide


Application of Fire

The potential firepower of the 13-man squad with all members firing is conservatively estimated at 400 well-aimed shots. The following terms are used when discussing application of fire:

  1. Neutralize. To render enemy personnel incapable of interfering with a particular operation.
  2. Fire Support. Fire delivered by a unit to assist or protect another unit in combat.
  3. Target of Opportunity. A target which appears in combat, within range, and against which fire has not been planned /li>

Types of Unit Fire

  1. General
    1. The size and nature of a target may call for the firepower of the entire fire unit or only parts of it. The type of target suggests the type of unit fire to be employed against it. The squad leader receives his orders from the platoon leader who usually designates a specific target or targets. It is usually desirable for each squad to cover the entire platoon target to ensure adequate coverage.
    2. A fire team distributes its fire as designated by the squad leader. Normally, the squad leader orders a fire team leader to limit the fire of his team to a sector of the squad target, to engage a separate target, or to shift to a target of opportunity.
  2. Concentrated Fire

    Concentrated fire is fire delivered from a deployed unit at a single point target. A large volume of fire delivered at the target from different directions, causes the beaten zones of the various weapons to meet and overlap giving maximum coverage of the target. An enemy automatic weapon that has gained fire superiority over an element of a particular unit, can often be neutralized by concentrated fire from the remaining elements which are not under direct fire.

  3. Distributed Fire
    1. Distributed fire is fire spread in width and/or depth to keep all parts of the target under fire. Each rifleman and assistant automatic rifleman fires his first shot on that portion of the target that corresponds to his position in the squad. He then distributes his remaining shots over the remainder of the target, covering that portion of the target on which he can deliver accurate fire without changing his position.
    2. The fire team leader/grenadier fires the first round from his grenade launcher at the center of the mass of the target. He then distributes grenades over the remaining target area.
    3. In the offense, the automatic riflemen cover the entire squad target. In the defense, the automatic riflemen cover their respective fire team's sector of fire.
    4. Distributed fire permits fire unit leaders to place the fire of their units on target so that the enemy, whether visible or not, is kept under fire. Distributed fire is the quickest and most effective method of ensuring that all parts of the target are brought under fire. When it becomes necessary to engage other targets, the squad leader shifts the fire of one or two fire teams as required.
  4. Combinations of Concentrated and Distributed Fire

    The fire team organization of the Marine rifle squad permits the squad leader to combine both concentrated and distributed fire in engaging two or more targets at the same time. As an example, the squad leader of a squad delivering distributed fire on a target could shift the fire of one or two fire teams to engage a target of opportunity with concentrated fire. Whether a fire unit (squad or fire team) delivers concentrated or distributed fire is determined by the target description element of the fire command. If the target description indicates a point target (i.e., machine gun, sniper, etc.) the fire unit will fire concentrated fire. If the target description indicates an area target (i.e., squad in open or dug in, or a target which the squad leader has marked the flanks), the fire unit will fire distributed fire. By assigning his fire teams fire missions using fire commands, the squad leader regulates the volume, density, and coverage of his squad's fire.

Fire Delivery

  1. Requirements of Position

    In occupyinga firing position, squads are located to satisfy the following requirements:

    • Be capable of delivering desired fire support
    • Possess good fields of fire to the front
    • Have adequate cover and concealment
    • Permit fire control by the fire unit leader
  2. In the Attack
    1. Base of Fire. A base of fire covers and protects the advance of maneuvering units with its fire. Whenever possible, the fire unit that is to establish the base of fire moves undetected into a firing position. A high volume of surprise fire from an unexpected direction has a much greater psychological and physical effect than fire delivered from a known position. The leader of the unit establishing the base of fire makes every effort to select a position that allows flanking or oblique fire to be delivered into the enemy position. When the base of fire unit is in position, the following usually takes place:
      1. A heavy volume of distributed fire is placed on the enemy position to gain fire superiority.
      2. When fire superiority has been gained and the enemy is fixed in position, the rate of fire is reduced. However, fire superiority must be maintained.
      3. When the maneuver unit nears its final coordination line, the rate of fire is increased to cause the enemy to button up tightly, and allow the maneuver unit to move out of the assault position and initiate its assault before the enemy has time to react.
      4. When the assaulting maneuver unit reaches the final coordination line or onsignal, the base of fire either ceases, shifts its fire to another target area, or leads the assault unit across the objective and then ceases or shifts.
    2. Assault Fire. Successful advance by fire and maneuver leads naturally to an assault of the target area or objective. Assault fire is that fire delivered by a unit during its assault on a hostile position.
      1. Riflemen and Assistant Automatic Riflemen. Both fire welldirected shots from the pointing position. They should fire the weapon using three-round bursts or they should pull the trigger each time the left foot strikes the ground. They fire at known or suspected enemy locations on the portion of the objective that corresponds with their position in the assault formation.
      2. Automatic Riflemen. The automatic riflemen fire in three- to five-round bursts from the underarm firing position. They cover the entire squad objective. Priority of fire is given to known or suspected enemy automatic weapons.
      3. Fire Team Leader. The fire team leader's primary concern during the assault is the control of his fire team. If he is required to fire his rifle, he fires well-directed rifle fire using the pointing technique. Once a hardened or area target presents itself, the fire team leader will commence to fire the grenade launcher using the pointing technique until the target is destroyed or neutralized, or until he cannot place effective fire on the target without endangering friendly troops.
  3. In the Defense

    The fire team is the basic fire unit of the rifle platoon and when practical, each individual's sector of fire covers the entire fire team sector of fire. The fire team delivers fire from positions which it must hold at all costs. Members of the unit are placed where they can obtain good fields of fire and take maximum advantage of cover and concealment.

    1. Riflemen, Assistant Automatic Riflemen, and Automatic Riflemen. The automatic rifles provide the bulk of the squad's firepower. They must be protected and kept in operation. These Marines are assigned to cover the entire fire team sector. In addition, each automatic rifleman is assigned a principal direction of fire.
    2. Fire Team Leader. The fire team leader's primary concern in the defense is the control of his fire team. When required to fire his rifle, he will cover the entire fire team sector with a high volume of fire while the enemy. When the final protective fires are called for, he engages the largest mass of enemy infantry in the assigned sector.

Reduced Visibility Firing

  1. Rifle

    Under conditions of reduced visibility, the rifle can be used to deliver preplanned fire by constructing a simple rest for the weapon. When the rifle is used for this purpose, all preparations are made during daylight. In addition to sighting the rifle and erecting the rest and stakes, sights are set and fire adjusted on the target in advance.

  2. Grenade Launcher

    In periods of reduced visibility, the grenade launcher can also be used effectively to deliver preplanned fires by constructing a stand. When planning these fires, the squad leader should give priority to likely avenues of approach and probable enemy assault positions. All preparations are made during daylight. The weapon is emplaced and sights adjusted prior to darkness.

Rate of Fire

The Marine is trained to fire approximately 10 to 12 aimed shots per minute (average rate). Difficulties encountered in battle usually make a slower rate advisable. The fastest rate at which any rifleman or automatic rifleman should fire is determined by his ability to select targets, align the sights, and squeeze off accurate shots.

The automatic rifle is particularly valuable against targets such as machine guns and automatic weapons. The rapid rate of fire for the automatic rifle is 100 rounds per minute. The sustained rate of fire is 85 rounds per minute. Determination of the rate of fire for the automatic rifle is governed by the nature of the target. When beginning a fire fight, the first few rounds of automatic rifle fire should be delivered at the rapid rate in order to gain fire superiority and to fix the enemy. Thereafter, the rate should be slowed to the sustained rate, which is normally sufficient to maintain fire superiority.

Fire Control and Fire Discipline

In order for a unit's fire to be effective, the unit leader must exercise fire control. Fire control relates to the leader's ability to have his men open or cease fire at the instant he desires, to adjust fire onto a target, to shift all or part of the fire from one target to another, and to regulate the rate of fire. The leader must teach his men fire discipline so that he may exercise fire control.

Fire discipline is achieved when the unit has been taught and pays strict attention to instructions regarding the use of the rifle, automatic rifle, and grenade launcher, and can collectively execute fire commands with precision.

The unit leader must supervise and control the fire of his men so that it is directed and maintained at suitable targets. Upon receipt of orders, commands, or signals from the platoon commander, a squad leader promptly orders his squad to perform the fire mission directed. He is normally located at the rear of his squad during a fire fight. He usually gives his orders to the squad through the fire team leaders, but he does whatever is necessary to control the fire of his squad effectively. Squad and fire team leaders exercise fire control by means of voice commands and signals.

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