Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 1 – Section III – Organization

Section III — organization

Infantry Platoon

1-62.     The Infantry platoon is organized with three Infantry squads, a weapons squad, and a platoon headquarters.  The headquarters section provides C2 of the squads and any attachments, and serves as the interface with the fire support and sustainment systems. Although all Infantry platoons use the same basic doctrinal principles in combat, application of those principles differs based on assigned organization or task organization (Figure 1-4).

1-63.     One of the inherent strengths of the Infantry platoon is the ability to task organize. The Infantry platoon headquarters must expect to receive other Soldiers and units in command relationships, and direct other arms in support relationships.


Figure 1-4. Infantry platoon.

Platoon Headquarters

1-64.     The platoon headquarters has three permanently assigned members: the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant, and the radiotelephone operator (RTO). Depending on task organization, the platoon headquarters may receive augmentation. Two traditionally-attached assets are the fire support team, and the platoon medic.

Platoon Leader

1-65.     The platoon leader leads his subordinates by personal example. The platoon leader exercises authority over his subordinates and overall responsibility for those subordinates’ actions. This centralized authority enables the platoon leader to act decisively while maintaining troop discipline and unity. Under the fluid conditions of close combat, even in the course of carefully-planned actions, the platoon leader must accomplish assigned missions using initiative without constant guidance from above.


1-66.     The platoon leader is responsible for all the platoon does or fails to do. In the conduct of his duties he consults the platoon sergeant in all matters related to the platoon. He must know his Soldiers and how to employ the platoon and its organic and supporting weapons. During operations, the platoon leader—

– Leads the platoon in supporting the higher headquarters missions. He bases his actions on his assigned mission and the intent and concept of his higher commanders.

– Maneuvers squads and fighting elements.

– Synchronizes the efforts of squads.

– Looks ahead to the next “move” for the platoon.

– Requests and controls supporting assets.

– Employs C2 systems available to the squads and platoon.

– Ensures 360-degree, three-dimensional security is maintained.

– Controls the emplacement of key weapon systems.

– Issues accurate and timely reports.

– Places himself where he is most needed to accomplish the mission.

– Assigns clear tasks and purposes to his squads.

– Understands the mission and commanders intent two levels up (the company and battalion).

Situational Understanding

1-67.     The platoon leader works to develop and maintain situational understanding (SU). SU is a product of four elements. First, the platoon leader attempts to know what is happening in the present in terms of friendly, enemy, neutral, and terrain situations. Second, the platoon leader must know the end state that represents mission accomplishment. Third, the platoon leader determines the critical actions and events that must occur to move his unit from the present to the end state. Finally, the platoon leader must be able to assess the risk throughout.

Platoon Sergeant

1-68.     The platoon sergeant (PSG) is the senior NCO in the platoon and second in command. He sets the example in everything. He is a tactical expert in Infantry platoon and squad operations, which include maneuver of the platoon-sized elements, and employment of all organic and supporting weapons. The platoon sergeant advises the platoon leader in all administrative, logistical, and tactical matters. The platoon sergeant is responsible for the care of the men, weapons, and equipment of the platoon. Because the platoon sergeant is the second in command, he has no formal assigned duties except those assigned by the platoon leader. However, the platoon sergeant traditionally—

– Ensures the platoon is prepared to accomplish its mission, to include supervising precombat checks and inspections.

– Prepares to assume the role and responsibilities of platoon leader.

– Acts where best needed to help C2 the engagement (either in the base of fire or with the assault element).

– Receives squad leaders’ administrative, logistical, and maintenance reports, and requests for rations, water, fuel, and ammunition.

– Coordinates with the higher headquarters to request logistical support (usually the company’s first sergeant or executive officer).

– Manages the unit’s combat load prior to operations, and monitors logistical status during operations.

– Establishes and operates the unit’s casualty collection point (CCP) to include directing the platoon medic and aid/litter teams in moving casualties; maintains platoon strength levels information; consolidates and forwards the platoon’s casualty reports; and receives and orients replacements.

– Employs digital C2 systems available to the squads and platoon.

– Understands the mission and commanders intent two levels up (the company and battalion).

Platoon Radiotelephone Operator

1-69.     The platoon radiotelephone operator (RTO) is primarily responsible for the platoon’s communication with its controlling HQ (usually the company). During operations, the RTO will—

– Have communications at all times. If communication with the platoon’s next higher element is lost, the RTO immediately informs the platoon leader or platoon sergeant.

– Conduct radio checks with higher (in accordance with unit SOPs) when in a static position. If the RTO cannot make successful radio contact as required, he will inform the platoon sergeant or platoon leader.

– Be an expert in radio procedures and report formats such as call for indirect fire or MEDEVAC, and all types of field expedient antennas.

– Have the frequencies and call signs on his person in a location known to all Soldiers in the platoon.

– Assist the platoon leader with information management.

– Assist the platoon leader and platoon sergeant employing digital C2 systems available to the squads and platoon.

– Determine his combat load prior to operations and manage his batteries during operations.

Forward Observer

1-70.     The forward observer (FO), along with a fire support RTO, is the unit’s SME on indirect fire planning and execution. The FO is the primary observer for all fire support (FS) assets to include company mortars (if assigned), battalion mortars, field artillery, and any other allocated FS assets. He is responsible for locating targets and calling and adjusting indirect fires. He must know the mission and the concept of operation, specifically the platoon’s scheme of maneuver and concept of fires. He works directly for the platoon leader and interacts with the next higher headquarters’ fire support representative. The FO must also—

– Inform the FIST headquarters of the platoon situation, location, and fire support requirements.

– Prepare and use maps, overlays, and terrain sketches.

– Call for and adjust indirect fires.

– Operate as a team with the fire support RTO.

– Select targets to support the platoon’s mission.

– Select observation post(s) (OP) and movement routes to and from selected targets.

– Operate digital message devices and maintain communication with the battalion and company fire support officer (FSO).

– Maintain grid coordinates of his location.

– Be prepared to back up the platoon leader’s radio on the higher headquarters net if needed.

– Be prepared to employ close air support assets.

Platoon Medic

1-71.     The platoon medic is assigned to the battalion medical platoon and is attached upon order. His primary function is force health protection. As such, he is the unit’s SME on treatment and evacuation of casualties. He works directly for the platoon sergeant. However, he also interacts heavily with the company’s senior medic. During operations the medic—

– Treats casualties and assists the aid and litter teams with their evacuation.

– Advises the platoon leader and platoon sergeant on all force health protection matters, and personally checks the health and physical condition of platoon members.

– Reports all medical situations and his actions taken to the platoon sergeant.

– Requests Class VIII (medical) supplies for the platoon through the company medic.

– Provides training and guidance to combat lifesavers.

Infantry Fire Team

1-72.     The Infantry fire team is designed to fight as a team and is the fighting element within the Infantry platoon.  Infantry platoons and squads succeed or fail based on the actions of their fire teams.

1-73.     The Infantry fire team is designed as a self-contained team (Figure 1-5). The automatic rifleman (AR) provides an internal base of fire with the ability to deliver sustained suppressive small arms fire on area targets. The rifleman provides accurate lethal direct fire for point targets. The grenadier provides high explosive (HE) indirect fires for both point and area targets. A team leader (TL) who provides C2 through leadership by example (“Do as I do”) leads this team.


Figure 1-5. Infantry fire team.


1-74.     The rifleman provides the baseline standard for all Infantrymen and is an integral part of the fire team.  He must be an expert in handling and employing his weapon. Placing well-aimed, effective fire on the enemy is his primary capability. Additionally, the rifleman must—

– Be an expert on his weapon system—his rifle, its optics, and its laser aiming device. He must be effective with his weapon system day or night. He must be capable of engaging all targets with well-aimed shots.

– Be able to employ all weapons of the squad, as well as common munitions.

– Be able to construct and occupy a hasty firing position and know how to fire from it. He must know how to quickly occupy covered and concealed positions in all environments and what protection they will provide for him from direct fire weapons. He must be competent in the performance of these tasks while using night vision devices.

– Be able to fight as part of his unit, which includes being proficient in his individual tasks and drills, being able to fight alongside any member of the unit, and knowing the duties of his teammates and be prepared to fill in with their weapons if needed.

– Be able to contribute as a member of special teams to include wire/mine breach teams, EPW search, aid/litter, and demolitions.

– Be able to inform his team leader of everything he hears and sees when in a tactical situation.

– Be able to perform Soldier-level preventive medicine measures (PMM). (See Chapter 6.)

– Be able to administer buddy aid as required.

– Be able to manage his food, water, and ammunition during operations.

– Be prepared to assume the duties of the automatic rifleman and team leader.

– Understand the mission two levels up (squad and platoon).


1-75.     The grenadier is currently equipped with an M203 weapon system consisting of an M16/M4 rifle and an attached 40-mm grenade launcher. The grenadier provides the fire team with a high trajectory, high explosive capability out to 350 meters. His fire enables the fire team to achieve complementary effects with high trajectory, high explosive munitions, and the flat trajectory ball ammunition of the team’s other weapons. The grenade launcher allows the grenadier to perform three functions: suppress and destroy enemy Infantry and lightly-armored vehicles with HE or high explosive dual purpose; provide smoke to screen and cover his squad’s fire and movement; and employ illumination rounds to increase his squad’s visibility and mark enemy positions. The grenadier must—

– Be able to accomplish all of the tasks of the rifleman.

– Be able to engage targets with appropriate type of rounds both day and night.

– Identify 40-mm rounds by shape and color. He must know how to employ each type of round and know its minimum safety constraints.

– Know the maximum ranges for each type of target for the grenade launcher.

– Know the leaf sight increments without seeing the markings.

– Know how to make an adjustment from the first round fired so he can attain a second-round hit.

– Load the grenade launcher quickly in all firing positions and while running.

– Be prepared to assume the duties of the automatic weapons gunner and the team leader.

– Understand the mission two levels up (squad and platoon).

Automatic Rifleman

1-76.     The AR’s primary weapon is currently the 5.56-mm M249 machine gun. The M249 provides the unit with a high volume of sustained suppressive and lethal fires for area targets. The automatic rifleman employs the M249 machine gun to suppress enemy Infantry and bunkers, destroy enemy automatic rifle and antitank teams, and enable the movement of other teams and squads. He is normally the senior Soldier of the fire team. The AR must—

– Be able to accomplish all of the tasks of the rifleman and the grenadier.

– Be prepared to assume the duties of the team leader and squad leader.

– Be able to engage groups of enemy personnel, thin-skinned vehicles, bunker doors or apertures, and suspected enemy locations with automatic fire. He provides suppressive fire on these targets so his teammates can close with and destroy the enemy.

– Be familiar with field expedient firing aids to enhance the effectiveness of his weapon (for example, aiming stakes).

– Be able to engage targets from the prone, kneeling, and standing positions with and without night observation devices. Also understands the mission two levels up (the squad and platoon).

Team Leader

1-77.     The team leader leads his team members by personal example. He has authority over his subordinates and overall responsibility for their actions. Centralized authority enables the TL to maintain troop discipline and unity and to act decisively. Under the fluid conditions of close combat, the team leader must accomplish assigned missions using initiative without needing constant guidance from above.

1-78.     The team leader’s position on the battlefield requires immediacy and accuracy in all of his actions. He is a fighting leader who leads his team by example. The team leader is responsible for all his team does or fails to do. He is responsible for the care of his team’s men, weapons, and equipment. During operations, the team leader—

– Is the SME on all of the team’s weapons and duty positions and all squad battle drills.

– Leads his team in fire and movement.

– Controls the movement of his team and its rate and distribution of fire.

– Employs digital C2 systems available to the squad and platoon.

– Ensures security of his team’s sector.

– Assists the squad leader as required.

– Is prepared to assume the duties of the squad leader and platoon sergeant.

– Enforces field discipline and PMM.

– Determines his team’s combat load and manages its available classes of supply as required.

– Understands the mission two levels up (squad and platoon).

1-79.     When maneuvering the team, the team fights using one of three techniques:

(1)     Individual movement techniques (IMT, the lowest level of movement).

(2)     Buddy team fire and movement.

(3)     Fire team fire and movement (maneuver).

1-80.     Determining a suitable technique is based on the effectiveness of the enemy’s fire and available cover and concealment. The more effective the enemy’s fire, the lower the level of movement. Because the team leader leads his team, he is able to make this assessment firsthand. Other leaders must be sensitive to the team leader’s decision on movement.

Infantry Squad

1-81.     There are several variations of Infantry, but there is currently only one type of Infantry squad (Figure 1-6). Its primary role is a maneuver or base-of-fire element. While the platoon’s task organization may change, the organization of the Infantry squad generally remains standard.

1-82.     The Infantry squad is a model for all tactical task organizations. It is comprised of two fire teams and a squad leader. It is capable of establishing a base of fire, providing security for another element, or  conducting fire and movement with one team providing a base of fire, while the other team moves to the next position of advantage or onto an objective. The squad leader has two subordinate leaders to lead the two teams, freeing him to control the entire squad.

Figure 1-6. Infantry squad.

Squad Leader

1-83.     The squad leader (SL) directs his team leaders and leads by personal example. The SL has authority over his subordinates and overall responsibility for those subordinates’ actions. Centralized authority enables the SL to act decisively while maintaining troop discipline and unity. Under the fluid conditions of close combat, even in the course of carefully-planned actions, the SL must accomplish assigned missions on his own initiative without constant guidance from above.

1-84.     The squad leader is the senior Infantryman in the squad and is responsible for all the squad does or fails to do. The squad leader is responsible for the care of his squad’s men, weapons, and equipment. He leads his squad through two team leaders. During operations, the squad leader—

– Is the SME on all battle drills and individual drills.

– Is the SME in the squad’s organic weapons employment and the employment of supporting assets.

– Knows weapon effects, surface danger zone(s) (SDZ), and risk estimate distance(s) (RED) for all munitions.

– Effectively uses control measures for direct fire, indirect fire, and tactical movement.

– Controls the movement of his squad and its rate and distribution of fire (including call for and adjust fire).

– Fights the close fight by fire and movement with two fire teams and available supporting weapons.

– Selects the fire team’s general location and sector in the defense.

– Communicates timely and accurate spot reports (SPOTREPs) and status reports, including—

n         Size, activity, location, unit, time, and equipment (SALUTE) SPOTREPs.

n         Status to the platoon leader (including squad location and progress, enemy situation, enemy killed in action [KIA], and security posture).

n         Status of ammunition, casualties, and equipment to the platoon sergeant.

– Employs digital C2 systems available to the squad and platoon.

– Operates in any environment to include the urban environment.

– Conducts troop-leading procedures (TLP).

– Assumes duties as the platoon sergeant or platoon leader as required.

– Understands the mission and commander’s intent two levels up (the platoon and company).

Squad Designated Marksman

1-85.     Squad designated marksmen are not squad snipers. They are fully integrated members of the rifle squad who provide an improved capability for the rifle squad. They do not operate as semi-autonomous elements on the battlefield as snipers, nor do they routinely engage targets at the extreme ranges common to snipers. The designated marksman employs an optically-enhanced general-purpose weapon. He also receives training available within the unit’s resources to improve the squad’s precision engagement capabilities at short and medium ranges

1-86.     A rifleman may be assigned as the squad designated marksman (SDM). The SDM is chosen for his demonstrated shooting ability, maturity, reliability, good judgment, and experience. The SDM must be able to execute the entire range of individual and collective rifleman tasks within the squad (see FM 3-22.9, Rifle Marksmanship M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4, and M4 Carbine.)

1-87.     The designated marksman employs an optically-enhanced, general-purpose weapon and receives training available within the unit’s resources to improve the squad’s precision engagement capabilities at short and medium ranges. In contrast, snipers use specialized rifles and match ammunition, and are specially selected and trained to provide precision fire at medium and long ranges (normally from stationary positions).

1-88.     The squad marksman engages visible point targets with target priorities of enemy leaders, personnel with radios, automatic weapons crews, enemy soldiers with rocket launchers or sniper rifles, or others as directed by his squad and platoon leaders. He is particularly effective against targets that are only partially exposed or exposed for only brief periods of time. A designated marksman delivers effective fire against very small targets such as loopholes or firing slits, bunker apertures, partially obscured and prone enemy snipers, crew-served weapons teams at close to medium ranges, and rapidly moving targets. He must be able to detect and engage targets rapidly from awkward or nonstandard firing positions while he, the target, or both are moving.

1-89.     One designated marksman per fire team creates two highly flexible balanced teams with a squad automatic weapon, grenade launcher, and precision-fire rifleman in each. This combines increased situational awareness and target acquisition with precision point and area suppression. Integration of a designated marksman within each fire team allows the squad to suppress enemy individuals, support weapons, or small units while maneuvering to a position of advantage.


1-90.     The designated marksman uses an assigned weapon, normally an M16 or M4 equipped with optical sights. Optical sight magnification and wide field of view allow him to observe, detect, identify, range, and engage targets an iron sight or naked eye cannot. This provides the squad with improved situational awareness as well as increased lethality. The telescopic sight dramatically improves the probability of first-round hits on targets at unknown distances and greatly increases target identification capability for shadowed targets and during low light conditions.


1-91.     The designated marksman requires additional training on his new role and on the operation and maintenance of the optical sights. Additional training includes—

– Zeroing techniques.

– Target detection.

– Range, wind, and moving target estimation.

– Hold-off determination.

– Alternate and nonstandard shooting positions.

– Known distance field fire to 600 meters.

– Close combat firing techniques.

– Transition fire engagements.

– Rapid target identification and engagement.

– Night fire with and without additional night observation or aiming devices.

– Shooting while moving forward, sideways, and back.

– Shooting from vehicles.

Employment in Combat

1-92.     The designated marksman moves and fights in combat as an integral part of the Infantry squad. He provides precision support fire in the offense during the assault and engages targets to the maximum effective range of his weapon in offensive, defensive, and retrograde operations. His ability to deliver lethal, precise, and discriminating fire during stability operations forms the basis of counterinsurgency combat. He enhances the squad’s effectiveness and its ability to maneuver and accomplish its mission. When employed tactically, designated marksmen provide precision direct fire as directed by the squad leader. This fire limits fratricide, collateral damage, and noncombatant casualties.

1-93.     The designated marksman is employed most effectively in combat situations where precision fire versus a volume of fires is required. Types of operations in which designated marksmen are most useful include:

– Situations in which the squad requires precision fires in an urban area containing an enemy mixed with multiple noncombatants or in those where the applicable ROE restricts the use of area-fire weapons.

– Close range engagements that have an immediate, critical need for precision rifle fire.

– Situations in which the unit is facing an enemy with trained marksmen or armed irregulars being used as snipers that must be countered.

– Civil disturbances involving armed rioters mixed with noncombatants.

– Vehicle and personnel checkpoint operations in which the squad needs an element in armed overwatch.

– Attacking specific targets identified by the platoon or squad leader.

– Covering the approach and entry of the assault element to the objective.

– Eliminating unexpected threats in and around the objective that appear and disappear suddenly and without warning.

– Covering specific avenues of approach into the unit’s position and searching the area for signs of a counterattack.

– Isolating the objective area by fire.

– Providing diversionary fire for an assault element.

– Covering obstacles or other key installations with precision fire.

– Situations that require precision fire on apertures, exposed personnel, muzzle flashes, or other designated point targets.

– Situations with friendly troops on or near the objective when mortars, machine guns, and grenade launchers must cease or shift their fires to prevent fratricide. The designated marksman may be able to continue to fire in support of the assault.

Infantry Weapons Squad

1-94.     The Infantry weapons squad provides the primary base of fire for the platoon’s maneuver. It is comprised of two medium machine gun teams, two medium close combat missile (CCM) teams, and a weapons squad leader (Figure 1-7).


Figure 1-7. Infantry weapons squad.

Medium Machine Gun Team

1-95.     The two-man medium machine gun team is comprised of a gunner and an assistant gunner (AG). The weapons squad has two machine gun teams. These teams provide the platoon with medium-range area suppression at ranges up to 1,000 meters during day, night, and adverse weather conditions.


1-96.     The gunner is normally the senior member of the team. During operations, the gunner—

– Is responsible for his assistant gunner and all the gun equipment.

– Is responsible for putting the gun in and out of action.

– Is the SME for the information contained in FM 3-22.68, Crew-Served Machine Guns, 5-56-mm and 7.62-mm.

– When attached to a rifle squad, is the SME on employment of the medium machine gun. He advises the rifle squad leader of the best way to employ the machine gun.

– Enforces field discipline while the gun team is employed tactically.

– Knows the ballistic effects of the weapon on all types of targets.

– Assists the weapons squad leader and is prepared to assume his responsibilities.

– Understand the mission two levels up (the squad and platoon).

Assistant Gunner

1-97.     The assistant gunner is the second member of the gun team. He is prepared to assume the gunner’s role in any situation. During operations, the assistant gunner will—

– Constantly update the weapon squad leader on the round count and serviceability of the machine gun.

– Watch for Soldiers to the flanks of the target area or between the gun and the target.

– Report round counts of ammunition in accordance with the unit standard operating procedure.

– Obtain ammunition from other Soldiers who are carrying machine gun ammunition.

– Provide a supply of ammunition to the gun when employed.

– Spot rounds and report recommended corrections to the gunner.

– Immediately assume the role of gunner if the gunner is unable to continue his duties.

– Understand the mission two levels up (squad and platoon).

Close Combat Missile Team

1-98.     The two-man close combat missile team is comprised of a gunner and an ammunition handler.  Currently, the team uses the Javelin missile system. The weapons squad has two close combat missile teams. This system provides the platoon with an extremely lethal fire-and-forget, man-portable, direct- and top-attack capability to defeat enemy armored vehicles and destroy fortified positions at ranges up to 2,000 meters. The Javelin has proven effective during day, night, and adverse weather conditions.

Weapons Squad Leader

1-99.     The weapons squad leader leads his teams by personal example. He has complete authority over his subordinates and overall responsibility for those subordinates’ actions. This centralized authority enables the weapons squad leader to act decisively while maintaining troop discipline and unity and. Under the fluid conditions of modern warfare, even in the course of carefully-planned actions, the weapons squad leader must accomplish assigned missions using initiative without needing constant guidance from above.

1-100.  The weapons squad leader is normally the senior squad leader, second only to the platoon sergeant. He performs all of the duties of the rifle squad leader. In addition, the weapons squad leader—

– Controls fires and establishes fire control measures.

– Recommends machine gun employment to the platoon leader.

– Coordinates directly with the platoon leader for machine gun base-of-fire effects and plans accordingly.

– Monitors ammunition expenditure.

– Coordinates directly with the platoon leader in placement of the Javelin close Combat Missile System (CCMS) to best cover armored avenues of approach in the defense and overwatch positions in the attack.

– Employs C2 systems available to the squad and platoon.

– Performs the role of the platoon sergeant as required.

– Understands the mission two levels up (platoon and company).

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