Marines Field Guide

Marines Field Guide


Combat Formations

Fire team and squad combat formations are groupings of individuals and units for efficient tactical employment. The factors influencing the leader's decision as to the selection of a particular formation are the mission, terrain, situation, weather, speed, and degree of flexibility. Combat formations and signals enable the leader to control the fire and maneuver of his unit when moving to and assaulting an enemy position.

Basic Combat Formations

A. Fire Team. Normally each fire team leader will determine the formation for his own unit. Thus, a squad may contain a variety of fire team formations at any one time and these formations may change frequently. The relative position of the fire teams within the squad formation should be such that one will not mask the fire of the others. It is not important that exact distances and intervals be maintained between fire teams and individuals as long as control is not lost. Sight or voice contact will be maintained within the fire team and between fire team leaders and squad leaders. All movement incident to changes of formation is usually by the shortest practical route. The characteristics of fire team formations are similar to those of corresponding squad formations. The characteristics of the fire team formations are as follows:

1. Column

a. Permits rapid, controlled movement.

b. Favors fire and maneuver to the flanks.

c. Vulnerable to fire from the front and provides the least amount of fire to the front.

2. Wedge

a. Permits good control.

b. Provides all-round security.

c. Formation is flexible.

d. Fire is adequate in all directions.

Changing Formations

The squad leader may change formations to reduce casualties from hostile fire, present a less vulnerable target, or get over difficult or exposed terrain. Formation changes in varying or rough terrain are frequent in order to get the squad over manmade obstacles and natural obstacles such as rivers, swamps, jungles, woods, and sharp ridges.

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