The following article is a summary of a set of training
notes prepared by the British Army, and should
prove of special interest to our junior officers. The
British stress the point that the object of all training is
success in battle. "Modern battles," they say, "are
fought by 'teams of fighters,' whether the team be a
section, platoon, squadron, battalion, or regiment." They
reason that since good training instills confidence and
morale, their soldiers have an obligation to themselves
and their outfits to seize every opportunity to train.
2. FOUR ESSENTIALS TO VICTORY
a. The Right Beginning
Troops must be launched into battle correctly; otherwise, it is
difficult for large or small units to recover the
initiative. All officers must understand the conduct of
battle operations, especially with regard to their own
level of responsibility.
b. Efficiency of Subordinate Units
Once the battle is joined, the issue passes to the junior leader
and his subordinate unit. If the junior leaders are not well
trained, and if the standard of minor tactics is bad, we fail--no
matter how good the higher leadership may be.
c. Fighting Spirit
If our troops are not mentally and physically fit and tough, and
do not have the "light of battle" in their eyes, again we fail--however
good the higher leadership and minor tactics.
All ranks must be made to feel the offensive spirit. They
must be trained to fight and to kill. Every soldier must be the
master of the weapons with which he is armed, and must be
ready and willing to use them. This applies to
clerks, drivers, cooks, and other specially employed men.
d. Battle Drill
Battle drill is a procedure by which we insure a common line
of approach to the battle problem of subordinate units, and a
common procedure within these units.
A good system of battle drill, wisely used, will permit the
speeding up of deployment and will enable the small unit to
develop its maximum battle power quickly.
If every officer and man in the field army and the training
depots is taught this common procedure, it will insure full
cooperation in battle. When all personnel are taught the same
battle drill, there need be no changes in methods when reinforcements
arrive or when casualties require substitutions in
3. ORGANIZATION OF TRAINING
Well organized training will produce good results. Individual
and collective training must be sandwiched, and the available
time allotted in accordance with the needs of the unit.
The degree of training that is possible will vary with local
conditions. Formations in reserve and in rear areas will be
able to devote their whole attention to training. Formations in
forward areas in contact with the enemy obviously will not be
able to do this; in these formations, however, units in local
reserve can do a great deal of training, and all units can do
something. Wherever you are, observance of the following
points is essential to produce good training:
(1) Prepare your programs well in advance.
(2) Be enthusiastic.
(3) Make all training interesting and varied.
(4) Introduce realism.
(5) Keep your training simple.
4. INDIVIDUAL TRAINING
a. Enlisted Men
The individual training of the rank and file should be based on
three main principles:
(1) The Grading of Every Man.--Every man must be graded
carefully. After this, instruction is given in accordance with
the needs of the individual. The grading applies chiefly to
weapon-training subjects, gas, and specialist training, but a commanding
officer may grade for any other subject he wishes.
There are three grades:
Grade A--Men who pass all tests, and are above the average. These
men are earmarked as potential noncommissioned officers or
specialists, and receive training as such.
Grade B--Men who are average, and who require half the full instruction.
Grade C--Men who are below average--who cannot pass their
tests, and who require the full-time instruction in all subjects.
The whole unit should be graded in this manner once every three months.
(2) Rewarding Merit.--Men are dismissed from parade or
instruction if they are doing well. The instructor, after 30 minutes, may
fall out the good men--or, if the whole squad is good, let
them all fall out.
(1) Preliminaries.--Commanders must train their own
officers. Officers' days should be held at least once a
week, wherever a unit may be, and the following subjects
are among those that must be taught:
The technique of movement.
Battle drill, or general management of battle.
How to plan and carry out various types of operations.
Reconnaissance and deployment.
The cooperation of all arms in battle.
Officers should be instructed first by means of situation
models, discussions, and demonstrations. The models need not be
elaborate, especially since sand models are easy to make. Next come
tactical exercises without troops, and then skeleton exercises. The
headquarters exercise, the artillery exercise, the signal
exercise--all these are of the greatest value.
(2) Verbal Orders.--Officers must learn to give simple and
clear verbal instructions. Orders will produce only the results
they deserve. You can train as much as you like, but unless your
plan is clear and your orders decisive--and unless junior commanders
know not only what their immediate task is, but what
the main object is--you will not get the best results. (Often you
will get no results at all.) It is for this reason that officers must
have continual practice in giving verbal orders.
(3) Ground and Distance.--All leaders must be trained in the
selection of ground. In country where features are not numerous, it
is of the utmost importance to be able to pick out dominating
ground. Most soldiers are bad at judging distance, but
experience will remedy this.
(4) Intercommunication.--Efficient communications, which
must be maintained throughout all phases of a battle, are primarily
the result of training. All forms of communication must
be practiced. Within the infantry battalion's area of
responsibility, visual signaling and radio, singly or together, may provide
the means at any time in battle whereby just the vital order or
item of information may be transmitted and received. These
means are complementary to each other, and alternatives must
always be provided when communication lines are of paramount importance.
Regimental signaling personnel must be especially selected.
The standard of radio efficiency must be high in all units, including
Infantry company commanders must practice indicating artillery
targets and correcting artillery fire. Field officers and company
officers must continually practice together.
Good maintenance of equipment, especially wireless sets and
batteries, is vital. This includes routine testing.
Assistance in all communication problems must be a part of
the responsibilities of chief signal officers, officers commanding
divisional signals, and brigade and regimental section signal
officers. Full use should be made of these officers.
c. Noncommissioned Officer and Specialist Cadres
Noncommissioned officer and specialist cadres (for reinforcements) are
necessary at all times. Formations and units in the forward areas should
train cadres in their rear echelon. It is important to maintain a high
standard in training for specialists. To insure a uniform
standard, specialists must be tested by a neutral board.
Every infantry battalion must have a proper sniping organization, so
that the battlefield may be dominated.
It is suggested that each company should select two known good
shots for training as company snipers and in addition, one man in
each section to be trained as the section sniper. Wherever possible, snipers
should be issued telescopic sights or special sniping rifles.
These snipers must be highly trained in fieldcraft, camouflage, and
marksmanship. Normally, they should be trained to work in pairs.
Their main task will be to locate and kill enemy commanders and
The importance of daily routine maintenance inspections must
be taught to all ranks. There must be a morning and evening
maintenance period. All officers below the rank of major who
are in charge of vehicles should attend these periods. They
should not stand about idly, but should pitch in and do a good
job of work.
The daily maintenance task system must be introduced and
insisted on, so that it will become automatic under any conditions.
The tasks for armored force vehicles may be based on
mileage, to some extent.
During maintenance periods, all specialists must carry out
maintenance on their particular equipment--wireless sets, mortars,
and so on.
5. COLLECTIVE TRAINING
a. Instructions by the Commander
The commander must issue instructions covering the following:
(1) The object of the training.
(2) The principle on which it is to be based.
(3) The standard aimed at.
(4) The phases of war to be studied.
(5) How he wishes the available time to be used.
(6") Special instructions regarding night operations.
b. Rules to Observe during Training
The following are important points to observe during collective training:
(1) The training must be mixed. During company training,
battery training, and so on, the whole battalion or regiment
with full equipment should go out once every two weeks.
(2) Collective training must be based on preparing all units
to live hard, move light, and fight simply.
(3) All arms must study how to operate efficiently without
taking their full equipment into every battle. In certain battles,
and in certain country, it may be possible to leave various types
of equipment out of the battle. The carrying of unauthorized
equipment in vehicles is forbidden.
(4) During unit training, every exercise must include dusk
and dawn operations. These are the times when things happen
(5) Realism must be injected into the training, and the conditions
of the battlefield be reproduced as far as possible. Troops
must be trained to advance under cover of artillery and mortar fire.
(6) Full-scale collective training should be real tests of endurance
for commanders, staffs, and troops. They should be made to
face difficult situations when really tired. If they are not tough,
they will fail.
c. Operations to Be Taught
The following operations must be taught and practiced:
(1) The attack planned in complete detail.
(2) The dusk attack.
(3) The night attack.
(4) Penetration of obstacles.
(5) Reorganizing and holding the ground gained.
(6) Disengagement and withdrawal.
(7) Defensive tactics.
(9) Patrolling by day and night (from one leader and two men to a platoon).
d. Unit Drills
(1) Movement by motor transport and on foot.
(2) Reconnaissance and deployment.
(3) Occupying a position by day and night.
(5) Night attack.
(6) Mine lifting and laying.
(7) Infantry attacking with tanks.
(8) Consolidating an objective.
e. Night Training
Efficient training in night work is most important. Whenever
possible, all units must carry out night training at least three
nights a week. A continuous week of night work is strongly recommended
for all training units. At first, all personnel must be taught how
to move, observe, and listen at night. All units must be able to
operate on dark nights, as well as when the moon is bright.
In training for a night attack, sufficient time must be allowed
before daylight for consolidation of an objective already won, and
for proper digging-in.
f. Crossing Minefields
All troops must be taught the technique of crossing a minefield, which
is similar to the technique of crossing a river. It
(1) Careful reconnaissance.
(2) Clearly marked routes and gaps.
(3) Alternative crossings.
(4) Mine-lifting party.
(5) Covering party and artillery support (if by day, smoke).
(6) Control and collecting points for motor transport vehicles
manned by officers. Maintenance of good communications with
an officer in charge of lifting operations.
(7) Order of priority of crossing.
(8) Lights and tape for marking.
(9) Recovery posts.
(10) Lines of departure. Assembly and re-assembly areas.
(11) Wire-cutting party.
6. GENERAL PRACTICES
a. Infantry vs. Tanks
Infantrymen must be trained to stand their ground when
attacked by tanks. They must be taught that the heaviest
possible concentration of small arms fire must be directed
against all attacking tanks, from the moment they come
within range, to force the tanks to close down. When the
tanks are close enough, they must be attacked with
All ranks must be taught the general characteristics of
tanks, and at training depots tanks should be attached
for a few days so that men may get used to them. All men
must practice remaining in slit trenches and allowing
tanks to run over them; also, they must ride as gunners
in tanks. This will teach them that, at close range, tank
guns cannot place fire on men in slit trenches.
Tank-hunting parties must be trained so that they can go out
and destroy disabled tanks, and attack them when in bivouac.
It is most important to train units to control their ammunition
expenditure, and to render ammunition returns; if this is
overlooked, it leads to waste.
c. Antitank Guns
Antitank units must be trained in the selection of defiladed
positions, and taught to dig their guns in.
It is of the utmost importance that all defense works be well
camouflaged and that all subordinate units have alternative
positions to which they can move. Troops must be taught to
dig in at once when taking up a position. This applies
equally to artillery and infantry.
There are three types of positions. They are constructed in this order:
(1) Fire positions.
(2) Alternate fire positions.
(3) Dummy positions (when there is time to make them).
e. Organized Rest
If all ranks are going all-out on fighting and training, it
is essential to have organized rest. This must be adhered
to strictly by all personnel.
f. Map Reading and Navigation
Map reading and navigation can always be improved. It is a
great help in map reading if all commanders shade, in two or three
different colors, the high ground on their maps.
g. Assault Courses
All training units should make assault or blitz courses. These
are excellent for testing the fitness of all ranks. The courses can
be laid out on any piece of ground--if possible, in an area in which
live ammunition can be used. Blank ammunition, smoke, and fireworks
will provide realism. Battle inoculation must be introduced
at all training depots and reinforcement camps. Troops
must be trained to advance under cover of artillery, mortar, and
small-arms fire. They must also be shot over.
(1) General.--Too often during exercises infantry soldiers
confine their attention to the back of the man in front. They
fail to notice any objects or indications of military
significance. Trivial details may disclose a great deal to an
alert mind and keen senses.
Men must be taught to use their eyes. This training must be
systematic and progressive.
(2) A Suggested Exercise.--A suggested form of exercise in
the latter stages of observation training is as follows:
A route is selected over varying terrain. The route should avoid
roads and tracks, and should pass through both open and close
country--if possible, where the going is moderate at first but
becomes rougher. Approximately 2 miles is sufficient for initial
exercises. A number of objects should be laid along the route, and
at varying distances from it--a fixed bayonet projecting from a
bush, a steel helmet appearing above a rock, a clumsy imitation of
natural camouflage, trip wires, men placed in position both close at
hand and in the distance along skylines and crest lines, suspicious
movement of individuals, rifle and light machine-gun fire, and
prearranged noises and signals.
Students, accompanied by an instructor, follow the route and
note objects seen, and the kinds and directions of noises. The men
are not allowed to halt, but are kept on the move the whole time.
The exercise is done best with small squads. Men should not march
in formation, but should be at liberty to march as they please,
provided that the prescribed route is adhered to.
Common faults are:
(a) Confining one's attention to a single suspicious object for
too long and neglecting the rest of the area, thereby falling into
This fault can be demonstrated to squads by surprise attacks
staged from a direction other than that in which their attention
(b) Focusing either on the foreground or on the distance; thereby
failing to include the whole perspective in one's sphere of observation.
A squad on a recent exercise, after spotting individuals in the
distance, failed to observe a man with a light machine gun in the
open at 25 yards, and, once having spotted certain nearby objects,
failed to notice distant movements on skylines.
The fact that infantrymen often are carried by motor transport
must not result in any reduction in the capacity for marching. Infantry
must train to march at least 15 miles a day and
fight a battle at the end of it. There is always a tendency to
use vehicles for short journeys which could easily be done on
j. Speed of Vehicles
Speed limits for each type of vehicle are laid down to prolong
the lives of the vehicles, and to conserve spare parts and tires.
Excessive speeds and dangerous driving still are common and
unchecked. This is simple unit discipline, and must be enforced.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that successful battle
operations depend on the initial cooperation of all arms, whether
in armored or unarmored units.
No one arm, alone and unaided, can achieve successful results
in battle. In training it should be made clear at an early stage
that all arms must work together in the closest possible cooperation.
It will be stressed that intercommunication is a primary factor
in the cooperation of all arms.
Every man must know the exact location of his own immediate
headquarters during all phases of the battle.