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.
2. THE NOTES
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.