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"Basic Infantry Tactics" from Intelligence Bulletin, September 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on German infantry tactics and training was originally printed in the September 1943 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A document issued by a German infantry division itemizes the essentials of German infantry tactical training. It is prefaced by a statement that in all situations the chief considerations are reconnaissance, protection, and the fire plan (ground and air). The document lists briefly the fundamentals of the approach march, the attack, and the defense. Certain similarities between German and U.S. tactics will be noted.

a. Approach March

(1) The work of reconnaissance patrols must be extremely thorough.

(2) Protection must be afforded by advance units (scouts, advance guards).

(3) Fire protection must be provided in the assembly area.

(4) The advance should be made by bounds.

(5) The main body will be in the rear (commanders well forward).

b. Attack

(1) Reconnaissance should lure targets into revealing themselves, and should deceive the hostile force as to the intentions of our own [German] units.

(2) There should be sufficient protection forward of the main attacking force.

(3) An organized fire plan is a necessity.

(4) The objective or task of each unit must be detailed.

(5) The point of main effort (Schwerpunkt) must be decided upon.

(6) Details.—(a) The first objective should be visible. (b) As far as possible, the advance should be made under cover. (c) The main effort must be made against an estimated weak point. The main effort must be so flexible that, regardless of the location of the weak point, it can be adapted in any sector to meet the situation. (d) All supporting arms must be informed of the intended point of breakthrough. (e) Reserves may also be brought forward into the flanking sector.

c. Defense

(1) The main line of resistance (Hauptkampflinie) is the forward edge of the main defensive zone. The main line of resistance is often referred to as including the general outposts (Gefechtsvorposten) and the covering positions (Vorgeschobene Stellungen), although both are in reality forward of the main line of resistance. The fire of all weapons must be planned so that it can be concentrated forward of, and within, the main line of resistance.

(2) It is the task of reconnaissance and observation to discover the intentions of the hostile force.

(3) The covering positions must conceal the actual location of the main line of resistance. The personnel manning the covering positions will fall back slowly, fighting a delaying action.

(4) The general outpost must goad hostile targets into revealing themselves, and then withdraw to the main line of resistance.

(5) The fire plan must include the coordination of the fire of all arms, arrangements for barrages and concentrations, the numbering of targets, and indications as to whether the targets are suitable primarily for infantry or artillery fire.

(6) Details.—(a) The fields of fire allotted to positions manned at night will be under the personal supervision of the company commanders. (b) Platoon commanders must be informed about all positions, and about the tasks of support weapons located in their sectors. (c) Each squad must have its own orders for defense. (d) The company commanders will determine the need for local reinforcements, and will arrange for defensive fires within their own sectors. (e) Only regimental commanders may order local withdrawals.


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