Small Unit Tactics: Fire and Maneuver

This graphic, courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons, illustrates a basic fire and maneuver assault.

Fire and Maneuver is a foundational small unit tactic. At its most basic, the tactic involves dividing a squad into a fire element and a maneuver element. In order to attack the enemy, the fire element (which typically includes a medium machine gun and its attendant ammunition carriers and barrel changers) discharges their weapons at the enemy, with the intent of fixing the enemy in position. Scenes in war movies where troops are “pinned down” by machine gun fire depict this portion of the tactic.

The fire element, then, forces the enemy to remain in place, and even more importantly, limits the enemy’s ability to fire back, as most enemies are hesitant to leave cover and return fire when machine gun bullets are whizzing overhead. While the enemy is keeping his head down, the manuever element makes extensive use of available cover to move toward the enemy position, with the intent of attacking from the flank or other unexpected direction. Continue reading “Small Unit Tactics: Fire and Maneuver”