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"Notes On Attack" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Captured Italian orders addressing infantry attack issues, from the Intelligence Bulletin, August 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]




The following notes on attack were written by an Italian commander to correct what he termed some very bad errors in elementary tactics. The notes, addressed to "all officers," discuss a familiar Italian weakness—failure to organize a defensive position after a successful advance.


Attacking units which have little or no opposition frequently stop after reaching their objectives, deciding that their part of the action has been completed. Not only does this affect discipline, but it neglects the most elementary defense and safety precautions, as the soldiers put themselves in full view of the enemy, and break ranks to gaze around and wander about the area. The results that could derive from such inconceivable conduct are evident and understandable. Such conduct occurs at the most critical and difficult phase of the action—when enemy reaction is to be expected more or less immediately, either in the nature of artillery fire or counterattack.

The regulations for such cases are clear and explicit, and therefore I do not deem it necessary to quote their contents since they constitute the basis of technical professional training. However, I wish to make quite clear certain tactical necessities which should be kept in mind and practiced.

a. During Attack

(1) Cover your exposed flank with the machine-gun platoon.

(2) Keep flanking units within sight, and coordinate your fire with theirs.

(3) See that units don't get mixed up.

(4) Overcome the tendency to close up.

b. When Objective Has Been Gained

(1) Proceed immediately and speedily beyond the objective, and organize a defensive position (use your engineers).

(2) Maintain the greatest cohesion within units, keeping under cover and out of sight of the enemy.

(3) Get your weapons into firing position.

(4) Re-form the reserves.

(5) Watch the flanks.

c. During Rest Periods

(1) Keep the unit under control.

(2) Dispose units in the positions best suited for observation and fire.

The above notes reveal clearly the importance of the infantry squad in fighting, and therefore their application is the specific job of noncommissioned officers. Company and platoon commanders will insist on the proper execution of these measures.

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