FM 7-15 Rifle Platoon and Squads Infantry, Airborne and Mechanized, March 1965
Section I. GENERAL
Platoon and squad combat formations are groupings of individuals and units for efficient tactical employment. Combat formations have the following characteristics in varying degrees: security, control, flexibility, and speed of reaction. The factors in fluencing the leader's decision as to the selection of any particular formation are the mission, terrain, weather and visibility, situa tion, desired rate of movement, and the degree of flexibility de sired. This appendix is a guide for the infantry small-unit leader in dismounted, mounted, and integrated combat formations. It covers the various types of platoon and squad formations and prescribes a uniform method of conducting drill in these formations over open 'ground and varied terrain. Figure 40 gives the symbols used in this appendix.
- Relationship of Dismounted and Mounted Formations
The formation for a mechanized rifle platoon in carriers closely approximates dismounted platoon formations. When going from a mounted to a dismounted formation, the mounted formation should be the same as the anticipated dismounted formation to avoid delay and unnecessary movement. Similarly, when going from a dismounted to a mounted formation, the carriers should be brought forward to the squads in the same formation that the platoon is using on the ground. Tactical considerations and terrain, of course, may prevent the application of this technique.
Training in dismounted formations should be conducted initially on open terrain similar to a parade ground; then on varied terrain when individuals and units become proficient in assuming these formations; and finally, in integrated mounted and dismounted formations with tank units. On completing this training, units progress to tactical exercises involving Aggressor forces, either actual or simulated.
Section II. DISMOUNTED SQUAD FORMATIONS
- The rifle squad is organized for combat into two fire teams,
ALFA and BEAVO (fig. 41). In this discussion, the ALFA team
consists of four men; the BRAVO team, five men.
- The rifle squad combat formations are the squad column, squad file, and squad line. The squad column is the basic formation from which the others are derived. When the weapons squad moves as part of the platoon, it usually moves in column formation.
- When the squad moves as part of the platoon, the initial squad combat formation may be selected by the platoon leader. The squad leader may alter his formation to meet changes in the situation and terrain.
- The squad leader places himself within the formation where he can best exercise control. The fire team leaders place themselves in the designated formations as directed by the squad leader. Other members of the squad take their appropriate positions based on the location of the fire team leader, or as he directs.
- The squad leader controls the squad by oral commands, audible battlefield signals, arm-and-hand signals, and through his fire team leaders.
- The squad maintains observation to the front, rear, and flanks. While moving or halted, squad members are responsible for observing in definite directions.
- The distances between men within a formation vary, depending on visibility and terrain. While maximum dispersion is desirable to reduce vulnerability to direct and indirect fires, effective control must be maintained. When visibility is good, formations are more dispersed. During conditions of reduced visibility or in close terrain, distances between men are reduced.
- In selecting or modifying squad formations to conform to a
particular situation, or because of reduced strength, the following
fundamentals generally apply:
- Fire team integrity is maintained.
- The fire team leader is located so as to facilitate control of the fire team, especially in its tactical employment.
- The squad automatic weapons are located within each fire team to provide fire to the front, rear, and flanks of the squad.
- When changing from one combat formation to another, the automatic weapons should be required to move the shortest distance.
- Changing from one combat formation to another is accomplished without
halting the squad, following the above as a guide.
- The rifle squad is organized for combat into two fire teams, ALFA and BEAVO (fig. 41). In this discussion, the ALFA team consists of four men; the BRAVO team, five men.
- Squad File
The squad file (fig. 41) is used for moving over terrain which is so restrictive that the squad cannot adopt a column formation, or when visibility is so reduced that control becomes extremely difficult. Deployment of the squad to the front or rear from this formation is not as easy as from the squad column.
- Squad Column
The squad column is the primary formation for movement Squads normally use this formation as part of the platoon, if provides good dispersion laterally and in depth without sacrificing control. In this formation, the squad can deliver a large volume of fire to the flanks but only a limited amount to the front. The squad column is a flexible formation which facilitates battle drill. Its two variations are fire teams in column and fire teams abreast. Both of these may be modified for greater dispersion, all-round security, and increased firepower to the front.
- Squad Column with Fire Teams in Column. This variation (fig. 42) is used most frequently in areas where maneuver of the rear (trailing) fire team is unrestricted. The teams may be closed, or the rear team may follow at a specified distance. The squad column may be modified by the squad leader as necessary to conform to the terrain and to provide a greater capability to deliver fire immediately to either the front or rear. Such modification consists of the squad leader instructing those men in the center of the formation to move farther to the flanks. This variation is used most frequently when the squad is separated from other elements of the platoon.
- Squad Column with Fire Teams Abreast. This variation (fig. 43) of the squad column is for movement in areas where maneuver of the fire teams is restricted. It is used most frequently when the squad is moving along a road or trail. Here, the enemy may have the road covered by fire which will frequently prevent troops from moving across the road once the squad is under fire. Consequently, fire teams are placed abreast to facilitate their deployment on each side of the road without having anyone cross it. This formation may also be modified.
- Squad Line
The squad line (fig. 44) is the basic assault formation of the squad and provides for the delivery of maximum fires to the front. Specific locations of men within the formation may be changed by the squad leader as desired. In the assault, the squad leader designates a base fire team/usually the team that has been leading.
Section III. DISMOUNTED PLATOON FORMATIONS
- The company commander ordinarily decides on the company formation and allows the platoon leader to select the formation for his platoon.
- In the platoon formation, as in the squad, each squad within the platoon observes to its front, flanks, and rear. Squad leaders observe and control their squads, staying within sight of the platoon leader if possible. The leader of the last squad is responsible for keeping the formation closed. The platoon leader goes where he can best control the platoon. The platoon sergeant assists him in the control of the platoon.
- Unless otherwise specified, the base squad for the platoon formation is determined as follows: when three squads are abreast, the center rifle squad is the base squad; in all other formations, the leading or right leading rifle squad is the base squad. Change of base squad takes place upon completion of formation change. The squad formations within the platoon formation may vary. The platoon leader places the weapons squad where it can best accomplish its mission of close fire support and antitank protection.
distance between men and squads may be increased or decreased and the
men staggered right or left according to the situation and terrain.
- Formation Changes
The platoon will constantly change formations (fig. 50) to tak advantage of the terrain and to accomplish the assigned mission Formation changes should be accomplished without halting. The platoon leader will control formation changes by arm-and-hand signals and the designation of the base squad.