Present-day methods of warfare embrace many problems hitherto absent or
completely non-existent in previous wars. Specific admonitions emphasizing
the importance of some of these questions, such as the necessity for good
discipline, the conduct of troops under varying conditions of combat, and other
factors influencing the success of operations, are contained in the following
extracts from a letter of instruction to Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigade
Commanders, and from a report entitled "Notes on Combat," both by
Lieutenant General G. S. Patton, Jr., now commanding the U.S. Seventh Army. These
documents were written as the result of American experience in Tunisia. As stated
by General Patton, nothing herein is in material disagreement with our training
doctrine, his purpose being to stress certain points.
* * *
There is only one sort of discipline - perfect discipline. Men cannot have
good battle discipline and poor administrative discipline. Discipline is based on
pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual
respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger
than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.
Discipline can only be obtained when all officers are so imbued with the
sense of their lawful obligation to their men and to their country that they cannot
tolerate negligences. Officers who fail to correct errors or to praise excellence
are valueless in peace and dangerous misfits in war. Officers must assert
themselves by example and by voice.
Currently, many of you have defeated and destroyed the finest troops
Germany possesses. This should make your men proud. This should make you
proud. This should imbue your units with unconquerable self-confidence and pride
in demonstrated ability.
One of the primary purposes of discipline is to produce alertness. A man
who is so lethargic that he fails to salute will fall an easy victim to an enemy.
Officers must have self-confidence and men must have confidence in their
officers. Close-order drill, meticulously executed for two daily periods
not to exceed 30 minutes each when practicable, will go far towards developing
confidence and self-confidence.
It must be impressed upon officers that it is their paramount duty to set
the example in courage. They must be the last ones to take cover and the
first ones to leave cover. They must not show emotion except the emotion
Americans, with arms in their hands, are fools as well as cowards to
surrender. If they fight on, they will conquer. If they surrender, they
will starve. Reports from prisoners of war in Germany indicate that the
casualties in prison camps, unintentionally inflicted by our air
bombardment, are in excess of those encountered by hostile bombardment
on the battlefield. Cowardice must be ruthlessly eliminated.
Present methods of warfare demand a higher discipline than anything we
have previously conceived. Discipline can only be insured by meticulous obedience
to orders and regulations, to include military courtesy, dress, and behavior. It is
absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform
can be induced to move forward in battle. Officers who fail to perform their duty
by correcting small violations and in enforcing proper conduct are incapable of
leading. Requiring officers to carry out their duties in the enforcing of discipline
brings out in them the latent ability to command in battle. The prime essential
to victory is to have all officers obsessed with their obligation to their country and
their troops, and imbued with the determination that they cannot fail in the
performance of their duty and live with their own conscience.
The regulations as to speed, distance, and intervals between vehicles must
be maintained in combat and out. Any driver who violates either should have his
driver's permit revoked and be reduced to the grade of basic private.
Any officer, who, while riding in a vehicle, permits the above violations, or
who on seeing them fails to take corrective measures, should be tried or fined
under the 104th Article of War. Officers are always on duty, and their duty
extends to every individual in the U.S. Army, not only just to members of
their own organization.
b. Infantry Employment
Infantry occupying a position must use the method of mutually supporting
small groups wired in. The fact that they are surrounded does not justify
surrender. It should be a matter of pride with troops as well as individuals
that they never surrender as long as they have weapons and ammunition.
The absurd practice of advancing by rushes when ground defilade exists
must be discontinued. When casualties, due to fire, make movement too
costly, artillery observers with the front line infantry must automatically
call for smoke on the enemy producing the small-arms casualties. Where
casualties result from artillery fire or mortar fire, every effort must
be made to neutralize the enemy observation posts by smoke from our own
artillery or mortars. As soon as enemy observation is neutralized, the troops
formerly pinned down by fire must move because even though the enemy's observation
is neutralized he can still lay on his former data, but cannot change his
data to cover the movement.
In addition to the ability to march and deploy at night, troops must be able
to fight at night both in the moonlight and in the dark. This ability can only
be obtained by practice. Troops who cannot fight at night are valueless.
In order to ensure that time is not wasted or confusion caused in setting
up mortars and machine guns, the crews of these weapons should have standing
gun drill daily both by daylight and in the dark. They should be further
instructed in the method of laying by the ladder system.
Reconnaissance is of paramount importance. If small vigorous reconnaissance
patrols are sent out before dark, the enemy front can be located, and taking
advantage of this knowledge, our troops can move into position from which to
attack at dawn, or under favorable circumstances, during the night. Without
meticulous reconnaissance, either form of attack is suicide.
There is no approved solution to any tactical situation. There is only one
tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is: "To so use the means at
hand as to inflict the maximum amount of wounds, death, and destruction on the
enemy in the minimum time." The following points, all of which are as old as
war, are emphasized as useful means in obtaining the above result.
The primary mission of armored units is to destroy infantry and artillery. Tank
versus tank battles, although sometimes necessary, are expensive and indecisive.
Tanks advancing against other tanks or antitank guns must govern their
movement by the existence of cover. In the case of a platoon, when other
cover is lacking it is possible for 4 tanks to fire smoke at the located
enemy guns or tanks, while the other tank moves to a new position. If tanks
are advancing under the supporting fire of other tanks, the supporting tanks
must immediately open with smoke on any enemy gun or tank which takes the
moving tanks under fire. After an object has been smoked, HE, or when the
range permits, machine guns, should be fired into the smoke to prevent
movement. When, or if, it is desirable to slow up or halt tanks before
they are within effective armor-piercing range, the use of smoke is indicated.
Never attack strength - "Catch the enemy by the nose with fire and kick
him in the pants with fire emplaced through movement." You can never be too
strong. Get every man and gun you can secure provided it does not delay your
In battle, casualties vary directly with the time you are exposed to effective
fire. Your own fire reduces the effectiveness and volume of the enemy's fire, while
rapidity of attack shortens the time of exposure.
Our mortars and our artillery are superb weapons when they are firing. When
silent, they are junk--see that they fire!
Flat trajectory fire against machine guns must be delivered from a position
near the axis of enemy fire. This pins the enemy down until the grenadier
with the bomb and bayonet kills him from behind.
Few men are killed by bayonets, but many are scared by them. Having
the bayonet fixed makes our men want to close. Only the threat to close will
defeat a determined enemy. Bayonets must be sharpened. Owing to the size
and strength of our men, they are invincible with the bayonet. They must
In mountain warfare the highest peak must be taken first so as to insure
observation and permit subsequent attacks down hill. This is best done
by a night attack by a small unit which must seize the peak and be reinforced
at dawn twilight by sufficient troops to hold it. To reinforce in the dark
may cause confusion and firing on friendly troops.
In forcing a pass secure the heights first. There are always trails leading
to the rear of hills. It must always be remembered that inviting lines of
approach are invariably defended, and an advance by such lanes, without
securing the heights covering them, is almost suicidal.
Movement across country at night is very slow; therefore the enemy will
stick to the roads as long as possible. Patrols well out, observing the
roads, will find him, but if they sit right on the roads, they will
Never take counsel of your fears. The enemy is more worried than you are. Numerical
superiority, while useful, is not vital to successful offensive action. The
fact that you are attacking induces the enemy to believe that you are stronger
than he is.
Battles are fought by platoons and squads. Place emphasis on small unit
combat instruction so that it is conducted with the same precision as close-order
drill. A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect
solution ten minutes later.
In battle, small forces - platoons, companies, and even battalions - can do
one of three things, go forward, halt, or run. If they halt, they will be
destroyed in place. If they run, they will be an even easier target. Therefore, they
must go forward. When caught under fire, particularly of artillery, advance
out of it; never retreat from it. Artillery very seldom shortens its range.
IN CASE OF DOUBT, ATTACK!
Oral orders will be repeated back.
The tendency prevalent in lower echelons of issuing inaccurate and conversational
orders will not be permitted. Orders to a squad must be as exact, though
much shorter, than orders to any army corps.
Mine fields, while dangerous, are not impassable. They are far less of a
hazard than an artillery concentration. Troops must move forward through them.
Troops should not deploy into line until forced to do so by enemy fire.
d. Artillery Fire
Artillery concentrations, particularly when combined with the use of
smoke, are effective in stopping or destroying tank attacks. In firing on
peaks, artillery must not attempt to bracket, but must fire short and
work up-hill. When it has good range on the top, it can use smoke to
cover an infantry attack or neutralize observation, otherwise it should
use shell fire to destroy observation.
In giving close-fire support to our infantry, especially in mountains, the
artillery must open well forward and creep back. The observer conducting the
fire should be with the infantry.
The use of smoke must be emphasized. A concentration of white phosphorus
against enemy tanks will usually immobilize them and frequently cause the crews
to leave them. If the crews remain in them, they must put on their gas masks. When
tank destroyers, artillery, or tanks engage hostile tanks or antitank guns at
decisive ranges, they should have smoke immediately available, so that if they get
a miss on the first shot, they can follow it with smoke. This gives them a chance
either to maneuver or to catch the enemy when he emerges from the cloud.
Tank attacks against positions defended by artillery or antitank guns
should be preceded by high-burst artillery concentrations on the located
or probable location of such guns. Tanks with the tops closed can operate
under such conditions with perfect impunity, but the enemy will have
difficulty in manning his weapons.
e. Armored Reconnaissance
In armored reconnaissance, the following points are of importance. This
applies to the reconnaissance troop with infantry divisions and the reconnaissance
battalion with armored divisions.
Junior officers in reconnaissance units must be very inquisitive. Their
reports must be accurate and factual, not exaggerated. Negative information is
frequently more important than positive information. Information not immediately
transmitted is valueless.
All members of a reconnaissance troop should know what they are trying to
do. Reconnaissance obtained in front of one division must be transmitted to
reconnaissance units of adjoining divisions. Troops must not report types of
guns or vehicles unless they are certain. The report that three 88's are firing
at them may lead to erroneous conclusions. The report should state that
three artillery pieces are firing, unless a definite identification is secured.
Reconnaissance units must not lose contact. At night, listening posts off
the road are of vital importance. These listening posts should be at least six
miles in front of the normal outpost.
Reconnaissance units should not be used for security missions. Their
sole purpose is to get information. They must have sufficient strength in tanks,
assault cannon, etc., to obtain this information. They should have direct radio
communication with reconnaissance planes.
When attacked by enemy planes, every weapon must be fired against them.
On the other hand, every effort and every disciplinary measure must be
taken to prevent firing against our own planes. If we have relative air
superiority, it is better to wait until planes attack before opening fire
than it is to shoot down our own planes. On the other hand, our planes
should avoid, even when it entails considerable difficulty, coming in
from the direction which the enemy would use or just after he has passed.
Commanders are responsible that their antiaircraft guns do not fire on
friendly planes. Panicky firing will be rigorously dealt with. By this is meant
when one antiaircraft gun opens fire, others immediately join in without
identifying the target. Never fire at a plane until you have identified
it or it has attacked you.
If attacked by friendly planes, through error, show yellow smoke.
g. Tactics of Landing Operations
All landing operations will be rehearsed on sand tables. These can be
improvised on the ground and need not be complicated. The rehearsal should
commence with the boats and terminate with the platoons. In each case, the
officer in charge of the unit will give, at the sand table, the actual
orders or instructions which he will give in battle.
Owing to the fact that we do not always land where we expect to, junior
commanders, to include platoons, should know the general as well as the special
plan and wherever they land will use their best efforts to insure the success of
the general plan. This is always done by offensive action.
Speed and ruthless violence on the beaches is vital. There must be no
hesitation in debarking. To linger on the beach is fatal.
In landing operations, retreat is impossible.
Every unit in the assault echelons must have a magnetic azimuth, and where
possible, a distant directing point.
The initial objective for each unit in securing the primary beach-head must
be specified. It should be a natural terrain feature capable of identification, even
Above all else, the assault must push on relentlessly to its objective. You
know where you are going; the enemy does not. Utilize the initiative thus afforded.
You must be prepared to smother the beach with fire. To this end, medium
tanks, assault cannon, self-propelled guns, mortars, and machine guns should be
emplaced on all suitable craft so that they can fire on the beach prior to
landing. You will arrange a means of suspending this assault fire when your
leading waves have landed.
Guides on beaches must know their jobs and do them.
Antiaircraft weapons will be emplaced on all suitable craft so that they can
be fired while at sea. All vehicles possessed of antiaircraft weapons will have
them arranged for the immediate opening of fire. Troops will disembark with
fixed bayonets. Life belts will be inflated prior to landing. They will be dropped
on the beach.
Assault infantry must be provided with the maximum number of large wire
cutters. Hand grenades are useful in the assault of the beach.
Vehicles landing over beaches should do so in second; first speed is too
slow. Motors must be wide open as the vehicles hit the water or beach. Maximum
speed across sand is necessary. Motors must be warmed-up ten minutes before
In landing operations, intelligent reduction of tire pressure is vital to the
successful crossing of beaches and sand dunes. All vehicles, including artillery
tractors, will have tire pressures as follows:
||PRESSURE IN LBS
|Truck, 1/4-ton, 4 x 4|| 6|
|Truck, 3/4-ton, 4 x 4, command and reconnaissance||15|
|Truck, 2 1/2-ton, 6 x 6, amphibian||12|
|Truck, 2 1/2-ton, 6 x 6, cargo||15|
|Truck, 4-ton, 6 x 6, cargo, with winch||15|
|All half-tracks, combat tires completely deflated|
|All trailers will carry normal pressure.|
Weapons will be kept in perfect working order at all times. This should
be checked frequently by officers and non-commissioned officers.
Vehicles will be properly maintained in combat as elsewhere. Particular
attention must be given to tire pressure, lubrication, and the batteries.
Upon the completion of each phase of an operation, all vehicles will be
serviced and replenished, so that the next phase may be started without delay.
Commanders are responsible that all vehicles are marked in accordance
with Paragraphs 6-14, AR 850-5.
Each soldier will be provided with one bottle of twenty-four (24) halazone
tablets for purifying water. A first-aid packet, consisting of a dressing, sulfanilamide
powder, and sulfadiazine or sulfanilamide tablets, will be carried at all
times within the first-aid pouch.
Whenever troops have gained a position which they purpose to hold, they
must immediately mine it. Time and effort can be saved if part of the mine field
In the location of towed antitank guns, these guns must be emplaced where
they can neither see nor be seen beyond their effective antitank range. They must
be dug in.
Every effort must be made to maintain wire communication to the front. The
value of wire communication cannot be overstated.
Where a command post using radio is in position more than six hours, the
radio vehicles must be under remote control wire from the command post and at
a distance of from half a mile to a mile away from it. If this is not done, the
enemy will get radio bearing intercepts and be able to locate the command post
for air attack.
We can only conquer by attacking.
In landing operations, continued ruthless pressure by day and by night is vital.
In the initial phases of any campaign, we must be particularly emphatic
in the ruthless destruction of the enemy. Remember that a pint of sweat will save
a gallon of blood!