Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 3 – Section VI – Movement with Combat Vehicles

Section VI — Movement with Combat Vehicles

3-132.  There are several options available to the platoon leader when augmented with vehicles. The platoon leader should employ the vehicles in conjunction with the rifle squads so each complements the other. Some options include—

– Employ them to support the Infantry rifle squads.

– Employ them separately to provide heavy direct fires or antiarmor fires.

– Leave in hide positions.

– Displace them to a secure location.

Combat Vehicle and Infantry Squad Formations

3-133.  The principles of METT-TC guide the leader in selecting formations for combat vehicles and Infantry. The same principles for selecting combat formations with Infantrymen apply when selecting combat formations for combat vehicles moving with Infantrymen. The platoon leader can employ a variety of formations to meet the needs of his mission. The column, line, echelon, vee, and wedge are fundamental movement formations for combat vehicles.

3-134.  After the leader combines the mounted and Infantry elements into one combat formation, it is his responsibility to ensure proper communication and fire control measures are implemented to maximize lethality and prevent fratricide.

3-135.  After selecting the combat formations for the combat vehicles and Infantry, the leader can decide whether to lead with combat vehicles, Infantrymen, or a combination of the two. The default technique is to lead with Infantrymen.

Lead With Infantry

3-136.  Infantrymen are better suited for leading combat formations (Figure 3-27) when—

– A route leads through restrictive urban or rural terrain

– Stealth is desired.

– Enemy antitank minefields are templated.

– Enemy antitank teams are templated.


Figure 3-27. Lead with Infantry squad.

Lead With Combat Vehicles

3-137.  Infantry leaders may choose to lead with combat vehicles (Figure 3-28) when—

– There is an armored or tank threat.

– Moving through open terrain with limited cover or concealment.

– There is a confirmed enemy location/direction.

– There are templated enemy antipersonnel minefields.

Figure 3-28. Lead with combat vehicles.

Lead With Both Combat Vehicles and Infantry

3-138.  Infantry leaders may choose to centrally locate the combat vehicles in their formation (Figure
3-29) when—

– Flexibility is desired.

– The enemy location is unknown.

– There is a high threat of dismounted enemy antitank teams.

– The ability to mass the fires of the combat vehicles quickly in all directions is desired.


Figure 3-29. Lead with both combat vehicles and Infantry squad.

ComBat Vehicle and Infantry Platoon Formations

3-139.  Infantry platoons can also incorporate their formations with those of combat vehicular units. The principles for choosing platoon combat formations are the same as squad combat formations. The Infantry platoon can conduct tactical movement with a platoon of combat vehicles (normally four) or a section of combat vehicles (normally two). Figures 3-30 and 3-31 detail some basic Infantry platoon formations with combat vehicle platoon formations.


Figure 3-30. Combat vehicle wedge, Infantry platoon diamond.

Figure 3-31. Combat vehicle echelon right, Infantry platoon column.

Mounted Tactical Movement

3-140.  Mounted movement is very similar to dismounted movement. Depending on the vehicle type, a platoon may have a squad in one to four vehicles. Units with more than four vehicles should consider splitting the vehicles into two or more sections and control these sections much the same way squads control their teams.

3-141.  Units augmented with four or more vehicles can use any of the seven formations. They use them within the context of the three movement techniques (see Section III) and should be prepared to execute immediate action drills when transitioning to maneuver. When the mounted unit stops, they use the coil and herringbone formations to ensure security.

3-142.  In mounted successive bounds, vehicles keep their relative positions in the column. The first and second vehicles operate as a section in moving from one observation point to another. The second vehicle is placed in a concealed position, occupants dismounting if necessary, to cover movement of the first vehicle to an observation point. On reaching this point, occupants of the first vehicle observe and reconnoiter, dismounting if necessary. When the area is determined to be clear, the second vehicle is signaled forward to join the first vehicle. The commander of the first vehicle observes the terrain to the front for signs of enemy forces and selects the next stopping point. The first vehicle then moves out and the process is repeated. Movement distance of the lead vehicle does not exceed the limit of observation or the range of effective fire support from the second vehicle. The lead vehicle and personnel are replaced frequently to ensure constant alertness. The other vehicles in the column move by bounds from one concealed position to another. Each vehicle maintains visual contact with the vehicle ahead but avoids closing up (Figure 3-32). However, as a rule, vehicles always work in pairs and should never be placed in a situation where one vehicle is not able to be supported by the second.

3-143.  In mounted alternate bounds, all except the first two vehicles keep their relative places in the column. The first two vehicles alternate as lead vehicles on each bound. Each covers the bound of the other. This method provides more rapid advance than movement by successive bounds, but is less secure. Security is obtained by the vehicle commander who assigns each Soldier a direction of observation (to the front, flank[s], or rear). This provides each vehicle with some security against surprise fire from every direction, and provides visual contact with vehicles to the front and rear.


Figure 3-32. Lead vehicle moving by bounds.


3-144.  A convoy is a group of vehicles organized for the purpose of control and orderly movement with or without escort protection that moves over the same route at the same time under one commander (FM1-02).

3-145.  The platoon conducts motor marches, usually in trucks. Some of the special considerations may include—

– Protection. Sandbag the bottom of the trucks to protect from mines. Ensure crew-served weapons are manned with qualified gunners.

– Observation. Ensure Soldiers sit facing outward and remove bows and canvas to allow 360-degree observation and rapid dismount.

– Inspection. Inspect vehicles and drivers to ensure they are ready. Perform before, during, and after preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS). Ensure drivers’ knowledge of the route, speed, and convoy distance.

– Loading. Keep fire team, squad, and platoon integrity when loading vehicles. Fire teams and squads are kept intact on the same vehicle. Platoon vehicles are together in the same march serial. Key weapons and equipment are crossloaded with platoon leaders and platoon sergeants in different vehicles.

– Rehearsals. Rehearse immediate action to enemy contact (near and far ambushes, air attack). Ensure drivers know what to do.

– Air Guards. Post air guards for each vehicle, with special consideration on the placement of crew served weapons.

actions at danger areas (mounted)

3-146.  Infantry platoons must be prepared to negotiate danger areas when mounted. The discussion of leader and unit action are deliberately generic because of the wide variety of scenarios in which leaders might find themselves.

3-147.  When moving mounted, units normally travel on roads, trails, and in unrestrictive terrain. Mounted units are typically vulnerable in the type of terrain favored by Infantry such as restrictive and close terrain. In addition, areas such as bridges, road junctions, defiles, and curves (that deny observation beyond the turn) are also considered danger areas. When leaders identify a danger area, they determine the appropriate movement technique to employ (traveling, traveling overwatch, or bounding overwatch). They then dismount their Infantry squads and clear the area or do a combination of both.

3-148.  If time and terrain permit, the unit should either bypass a danger area or dismount Infantry to reconnoiter and clear it. However, the distances between covered and concealed positions may make this impractical. If time constraints prevent these options, the unit uses a combination of traveling overwatch and bounding overwatch to negotiate the danger area. As with dismounted actions at a danger area, the leader must be prepared to quickly transition to maneuver in case the unit makes contact with the enemy.

Mounted Traveling Overwatch

3-149.  The lead element moves continuously along the covered and concealed routes that give it the best available protection from possible enemy observation and direct fire (Figure 3-33). The trail element moves at variable speeds providing continuous overwatch, keeping contact with the lead element, and stopping periodically to get a better look. The trail element stays close enough to ensure mutual support for the lead element. However, it must stay far enough to the rear to retain freedom of maneuver in case an enemy force engages the lead element.

Figure 3-33. Mounted traveling overwatch.

Mounted Bounding Overwatch

3-150.  With bounding overwatch, one section is always stopped to provide overwatching fire. The unit executing bounding overwatch uses either the successive or alternate bounding method.

Dismounting and Clearing the Area

3-151.  The commander of the lead vehicle immediately notifies the platoon leader when he encounters an obstacle or other danger area. If needed, Soldiers dismount and take advantage of available cover and concealment to investigate these areas (Figure 3-34). If possible, the vehicle is moved off the road into a covered or concealed position. Weapons from the vehicle cover the advance of the dismounted element. Designated Soldiers reconnoiter these places under cover of the weapons in the vehicle. Obstacles are marked and bypassed, if possible. When they cannot be bypassed, they are cautiously removed.

3-152.  Side roads intersecting the route of advance are investigated. Soldiers from one vehicle secure the road junction. One or two vehicles investigate the side road. The amount of reconnaissance on side roads is determined by the leader’s knowledge of the situation. Soldiers investigating side roads do not move past supporting distance of the main body.

Figure 3-34. Dismounting and clearing the area.

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