Interested in playing a World War II game, with Army Men or some other military miniatures? You may consider viewing Osprey’s World War II infantry Tactics. You can acces the file by clicking here. While you are perusing files, we’d also like to suggest you visit our Free Downloads Page.
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”
This just added to the Free Downloads page: the U.S. Army Field Manual FM 7-5, Organization and Tactics of Infantry, the Rifle Battalion. Released in 1940, this manual outlined leadership, organization, equipment, and tactics for the American rifleman during the Second World War.
For folks playing wargames set during that period, this document provides rich detail about how U.S. troops functioned on the field, making it invaluable for creating scenarios.
While this is a bit dated (the credits reference the year 1976), there is quality information in this video. For wargamers and military history buffs, it provides a clear overview of U.S. land warfare doctrine in the 1970s, along with some really good images of equipment that was available at the time.
Found this fascinating document while researching the history of small-unit tactics. It is a thorough overview of 50 years of U.S. Army infantry squad development, from 1945 through 1995. The text reviews the impact of increasingly lethal weapons, the resulting dispersal of troops on the battlefield, and how the squad’s composition was altered to allow greater flexibility to face a wider range of challenges. For a wargamer, it’s a great read. You can download the file here.
Essentially, movement to contact is a form of offense. As the words suggest, your forces move from where they are into contact with the enemy. Often, this movement is ordered when a commander is unsure of the exact location of the enemy, or when the enemy has successfully broken contact and the commander is trying to re-engage the enemy.
While not exclusively a small-unit tactic – movement to contact can be executed at the brigade level or higher – it is ultimately executed at the platoon or squad level, and is mentioned in the Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad Manual.
The primary concern for any unit performing movement to contact is security. Often, the exact location of the enemy is unknown, which creates the potential for the enemy to set up an ambush for the pursuing unit.
The importance of the movements of small units on a wargame battlefield can vary greatly from one game to the next. Generally, the command level of a game (see our wargaming glossary) determines the impact of such movements. In grand strategic games involving the movement of large groups of troops, how they move is less important than the map or table space they occupy. In tactical-level games, where each figure often represents only one soldier, the manner in which troops position themselves can be critical to victory. This post focuses on the use of small unit tactics in tactical-level games.
One tactical approach to deployment and movement is the concept of overwatch (at least, overwatch is the term used in American infantry doctrine; other nations may employ similar concepts under different names). Loosely defined, overwatch is the positioning of one unit so that it can provide fire support to another unit. Since a good overwatch position has enemy positions and possible lines of enemy reinforcement or retreat within its fields of fire, a commander needs good intelligence about where the enemy is, and where he is likely to go when friendly forces advance.
If you are interested in wargame scenario design or want to deploy your miniature troops for greater effect, give a quick look to the U.S. Marines Commander’s Tactical Handbook, available as a free download here. I just found a link to this document while mining the tremendous amount of information at the Military Wargaming Forum.
The document is nearly 300 pages in length, and provides detailed instructions on successful maneuver and fire support for a variety of situations, from helicopter insertion to night attacks. from convoys to providing relief to forces already engaged.
Now all I need to do is find something like this for other armed forces from other nations….