Marines Field Guide

Marines Field Guide

Special Tactics and Techniques

Operations on Urbanized Terrain

Fighting in urban areas is characterized by close combat, limited fields of fire and observation, and difficulty in control of troops. The defender can use urban areas to canalize and stop an enemy attack. Buildings normally provide both the attacker and defender with good protection from both direct and indirect fire. They also provide covered and concealed routes that can be used to move troops and supplies. Fighting is at close range, and the outcome depends largely upon the initiative and aggressive leadership of small-unit leaders. The attacker must isolate and clear the parts of the urban area that he moves through. Urban areas must be attacked when they:

• Cannot be bypassed.

• Contain a key terrain feature (bridge, road junction).

• Must be returned to friendly control.

• Are needed for future operations.

• Are held by an enemy force that must be destroyed.

Urbanization is characterized by changes in land usage and the spread of manmade features across natural terrain. There are four categories of urban terrain; strip areas, villages, towns and small cities, and large cities with associated urban sprawl.

Tactical Considerations

A built-up area creates special tactical problems which must be considered by both the attacker and defender. Factors to be considered are:

A. Cover and concealment are available to both the attacker and defender.

B. Streets and alleys that provide the easiest routes of movement also provide ready-made fire lanes.

C. Observation and fields of fire are limited, except along streets and alleys.

D. With respect to observation and fields of fire, the possession and control of upper floors and rooftops offer an advantage to both attacker and defender.

E. Sound magnification and the echoes created by explosions and the firing of weapons will increase the difficulty of detecting enemy weapons. Dust and smoke will reduce the ability to observe friendly fire and to detect and locate hostile fire.

F. Movement in the open is restricted. Speed, aggressiveness, and cunning are necessary to ensure the accomplishment of the mission.

G. Radio communications will be affected by the interference created by buildings.

H. Smoke can effectively provide concealment, limit observation, and facilitate deception and surprise. Smoke will remain effective for longer periods since it will not dissipate as quickly as in open terrain.

Search Party Procedures

A. If possible, buildings are cleared from the top down. There are three methods of entering and clearing buildings:

1. Entry on Uppermost Level. Entrance through the upper part of a building is preferable, as it is easier to work down than up. An enemy cornered on the top floor of a building may fight desperately, but an enemy forced down to the ground level is likely to withdraw from the building, thus exposing himself to fire from the covering party and supporting machine guns.

2. Entry on Middle Floor. If entry on the top floor is not possible, entry should be made at the highest possible point. The point of entry is cleared first. Clear the upper floors and roof, then work down.

3. Entry on Ground Floor. When entering at the ground level, it is wise to to blast an entryway instead of using windows or doors. Doors and windows located on the ground level are probably covered by enemy fire and may be boobytrapped.

B. A squad attacking in a built-up area is assigned to clear buildings within the assigned platoon frontage. The squad leader identifies the building to be searched and directs the covering party to deliver fire into the building. On the squad leader's order, the fires of the covering party are shifted from the point of entry. The search party then enters the building to be searched.

1. If it is a single story building, a member of the search party approaches the entryway, takes appropriate cover by shielding himself against the wall of the building, and throws a fragmentation grenade through the entryway. He then hits the deck, diving away from the entryway, laying flat until the grenade explodes.

2. Taking advantage of the shock effect of the grenade, one member of the search team enters the building and takes a position from which he can cover the entire room.

3. The second member of the search team enters and searches the room.

4. When the first room has been searched, the search team sounds off, CLEAR, and is joined by the covering team.

a. Before entering the room, the fire team leader sounds off, COMING IN.

5. Inside the building, voice communications are used.

a. As each room is cleared, the search team sounds off, CLEAR.

b. When entering or leaving a room which has been searched, sound off, COMING IN or, COMING OUT.

c. When using stairs leading to areas which have been cleared, COMING UP or, COMING DOWN will be sounded.

d. The use of voice communications prevents members of the search party from being surprised and assists the fire team leader in controlling the search.

6. When the search team makes entries into subsequent rooms, the entry will normally be preceded by bursts of rifle fire. If the interior walls of the building are constructed of heavy (brick or concrete) material, fragmentation grenades may be used.

7. The entry and searching process continues until the entire building is cleared.

8. When the building is cleared, the fire team leader signals the squad leader and marks the building according to a prearranged code.

Techniques Employed

Combat in a built-up area requires the employment of techniques peculiar to this particular operation. Using these techniques enhances coordination and ensures accomplishment of assigned missions with minimum casualties.

A. The attack is conducted systematically, block-by-block and section-by-section. This system reduces the possibility of enemy resistance remaining active in the rear of advancing units.

B. Coordination of movement between individuals and units is of utmost importance so that proper covering fire and observation can be provided.

C. Built-up areas are ideal for the use of boobytraps. Certain steps may be taken to avoid them or lessen their effectiveness.

1. Mark entrances into buildings and rooms used by the search team. The covering team should use these entrances, since they are known to be clear.

2. When moving on stairs, take two or three steps at a time. This reduces the chances of stepping on a boobytrapped step.

D. Proper individual movement is important, and the method of movement used by an individual or unit must be thought out in detail. One situation may call for speed and aggressiveness, while another may require stealth. The following movement techniques have been found effective in reducing friendly casualties.

1. When moving along streets and alleys, select cover in advance. Hug walls and move from cover to cover. Keep away from the middle of streets. Above all, do not bunch up.

2. Don't cross streets unless absolutely necessary. Coordinate street crossings with the covering team, covering party, and supporting machine guns. When crossing a street, move directly rather than diagonally. To limit exposure, teams cross together when possible but disperse again as soon as the street is crossed.

3. Do not silhouette yourself when climbing over walls or piles of rubble or moving into entrances. Roll over walls and rubble and move through entrances quickly.

4. The roof of a building is a good place to enter a building, but a Marine on a roof is vulnerable to enemy fire from all directions. When forcing an entrance from the roof, stay low, crawling if necessary, to avoid silhouetting yourself to the enemy.

E. Where it is an advantage, use smoke to cover the movement of units. Smoke normally lingers in a built-up area. When using smoke, remember that it can also obscure the observation of the friendly covering team and covering party. The employment of smoke must be a calculated decision.

F. Ladders, notched logs, drainpipes, and grappling hooks can be used togain entry at the upper level of a building. Another effective technique involves the use of a pole. One member of the search team holds the bottom of the pole steady. The other Marine climbs the pole hand over hand, using his feet to walk up the side of the building. Regardless of the technique used to gain entry to an upper level, the entry must be done from a covered location. If there is no cover from enemy fire, do not try to climb the side of the building. If available, sewers, drainage ditches, and subways can be used as covered approaches.

How to Prepare a Building for Defense

A. A rifle platoon normally defends one to three buildings. This depends on the size, strength, and layout of the buildings. The rifle squad normally defends one entire building, two small buildings, or part of a large structure. Some considerations for the defense are:

1. Protection. Reinforced concrete or brick buildings protect best. A reinforced cellar is good. Wooden buildings should be avoided.

2. Dispersion. It is better to have positions in two mutually supporting buildings than in one building which may be bypassed.

3. Concealment. Obvious positions, especially at the edge of an urban area, should be avoided.

4. Covered Routes. These are used for movement and resupply. The best routes are through or behind buildings.

5. Fields of Fire. Fighting positions should offer good all-around fields of fire.

6. Time. Buildings which need a lot of preparation are undesirable when time is short.

7. Observation. The building should permit observation into the adjacent sectors.

B. Once the squad leader is assigned a building or buildings to defend, he positions the attached weapons teams and his own fire teams. Machine guns and automatic rifles should be on ground floors to provide grazing fire. Each squad should have a primary and supplementary fighting position for continuous all-around defense.

C. The squad's food, water, and ammunition may be stockpiled at each defensive position.

D. Window positions should be in the shadows, and not right at the window. Curtains, or a piece of cloth hung across a window, will hide a defender in a darkened room. F

E. ighting positions should be improved with sandbags or rubble and have overhead cover.

F. Doors, hallways, stairs, and windows that will not be used by the defenders are blocked or screened.

G. All firing positions are camouflaged. Dusty areas can be covered with blankets or wet down with water to keep dust from rising when weapons are fired. Burlap is better camouflage garnish than foilage.

H. The room must have an open area (ventilation) of at least 2 square meters (21 square feet). An open doorway 1 by 2 meters (3 by 7 feet) will meet this requirement.

I. All Marines in the room must wear earplugs.

Attack of Fortified Areas


A fortified area contains permanent defensive works. These works consist of emplacements, field fortifications, obstacles, and personnel shelters. They are disposed laterally, in depth, and are mutually supporting. A fortified area is deliberately planned to deny access to an attacker.


Fortified areas differ in construction and physical layout; however, they all possess similar characteristics.

1. Strength

a. Emplacements and personnel shelters are constructed of reinforced concrete, steel, or heavy timbers and earth. The bulkheads and overhead may be up to 10 feet thick. This construction provides the defender with cover from indirect fire weapons, small arms, and limited protection from direct fire weapons.

b. The area is usually prepared in advance of hostilities which permits the use of natural camouflage; however, artificial camouflage may be used.

c. Each emplacement usually contains one or more automatic weapons.

d. Emplacements are mutually supporting; one protects the other. To attack one emplacement, the attacker must pass through the sector of fire of one or more other emplacements.

e. Each emplacement is protected by infantry occupying field fortifications positioned around the emplacement. These field fortifications may have overhead cover.

f. Tunnels and communication trenches are normally used to link emplacements within the fortified position.

g. Barbed wire and other obstacles are used extensively in order to restrict the attacker's movement and to channel him into the sectors of fire of automatic weapons.

h. Mines and boobytraps are normally employed in fortified positions.

i. Communication wire is laid deep underground, thus, providing a relatively secure means of communication.


a. Placing automatic weapons in fixed emplacements restricts the gunner's observation and, generally, prevents the weapon from being moved to an alternate or supplementary position.

b. Emplacements depend upon mutually supporting positions for all-around observation and fields of fire. When one emplacement is destroyed, observation and mutually supporting fires are reduced proportionately.

c. The weakest points of emplacements are embrasures, air vents, and doorways. They provide the attacker with an opening to employ grenades, rocket launchers, demolition charges, and small arms fire.


Infantry units attacking a fortified position are organized a base of fire and an assault unit. The base of fire provides covering fire for the assault unit which goes forward, attacks, and seizes an assigned objective within the enemy fortified position. Both the base of fire and assault unit are reinforced or supported by appropriate combat power. The cumulative effect of several small units simultaneously conducting oordinated attacks against a fortified position will result in the penetration and destruction of that position. The following tasks must be accomplished in order to successfully attack and destroy assigned objectives within a fortified position.

1. Neutralize the enemy infantry occupying the field fortifications and protecting the emplacement to be attacked. Neutralization means not only suppressing the enemy fire but also the ability to observe avenues of approach.

2. Neutralize the enemy automatic weapons fire coming from the emplacement being attacked and from any other emplacement whose sector of fire the assaulting unit must pass through. To do this, mutually supporting emplacements must be attacked simultaneously.

3. Destruction of the enemy emplacement on the objective is a critical task. The emplacement's field of fire may cover the approach of the assault unit or that of an adjacent attacking unit. In any event, it must be destroyed.

4. The assault unit advances under covering fire from the base of fire and supporting arms fire. The assault unit must possess sufficient combat power to accomplish the following tasks:

• Destroy, neutralize, or overcome barbed wire and other obstacles encountered while moving forward.

• Kill or capture enemy sentinels or security posts covering avenues of approach.

• Assault the enemy position, and kill or capture the enemy personnel in or around the destroyed emplacement and in the surrounding field fortifications.

• Establish a hasty defense to repel any enemy counterattack.

• Once the assault unit has seized the objective, the remainder of the attacking unit moves onto the objective and consolidates the position

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