[Lone Sentry: Ch. 8. Tank Destroyer Battalion | FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units - Tank Destroyer Field Manual]
[Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Home Page  |  Site Map  |  What's New  |  Search  |  Contact Us

FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units
Tank Destroyer Field Manual, War Department, June 16, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Field Manual. As with all field manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the field manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Section I

• 146. COMPOSITION.—A tank destroyer battalion consists of a headquarters and headquarters company, a reconnaissance company, three destroyer companies, and a medical detachment. For details of organization, see T/O 18-25.

• 147. BATTALION COMMANDER.—a. General.—(1) The battalion commander personally controls the battalion and is responsible for its condition and operations. His professional knowledge must include a thorough understanding of the combat and service elements in the battalion and of their tactical and technical employment, and a general understanding of the employment, limitations, and capabilities of units of other arms that may be associated with the battalion in combat.

(2) In preparation for combat, the mission of the battalion commander is to bring his unit to a high state of training and combat proficiency. In carrying out this training mission he subordinates administration to training, and thus insures that the training for combat of individuals and small units is a continuing process. He promotes group feeling within the battalion and cooperative action among its various parts. He encourages initiative, ingenuity, and aggressiveness throughout all echelons of the battalion. Having indicated his policies and given his directives, he allows his staff and subordinates the maximum freedom of action in order to foster self-reliance and initiative.

b. Exercise of command.—Whenever the situation requires, the battalion commander obtains the views of his staff officers and principal subordinates before he announces his decisions and issues his orders. However, he alone is responsible for what his unit does or falls to do.

c. Relations with staff.—(1) The battalion commander is provided with a staff to relieve him of the details of planning and administration; to act as his agents in coordinating the plans and operations of the various units and services under his command; to prepare detailed orders for the execution of his plans; and to assist him in supervising the execution of these orders.

(2) He encourages his staff officers to submit suggestions and recommendations. He supports the action taken by staff officers in carrying out his directives and policies. However, he does not hesitate to correct them and rectify their mistakes.

(3) The commander inspires the utmost efforts from his staff. He causes staff work to be properly organized, distributed, and simplified in order that excessive strain will not be placed upon individuals.

d. Relations with subordinate commanders and troops.—The relations of the battalion commander with the commanders of subordinate units are similar to the relations maintained with the staff. He spends considerable time with his unit commanders and their men. He makes inspections and informal visits during which he talks to individuals and to groups. During combat such visits promote confidence, respect, and loyalty. They give the commander first-hand knowledge of the tactical situation and of the needs and capabilities of his units. In issuing instructions, however, the battalion commander does not interfere with the command responsibilities of his subordinates except in emergencies. (See FM 21-50 and FM 100-5.)

e. Conduct in battle.—(1) In combat, the battalion commander, personally and through his staff, provides for reconnaissance and security, liaison with higher headquarters and adjacent units, timely dissemination of information and orders, coordination of effort and cooperation by all units, and replacement of personnel and supplies.

(2) With the assistance of his staff, he studies possible contingencies and formulates tentative plans to meet them. So far as practicable, he makes these tentative plans known to subordinate commanders.

(3) During combat, it is essential that the battalion commander make reconnaissance, visit his subordinate commanders and troops, and move where he can best control the action of his battalion. His party usually accompanies him. (See par. 150b(2).) He keeps in contact with his subordinate commanders, command post, higher headquarters, and sometimes observation aviation, by radio or other available means of communication.

• 148. STAFF.—a. The battalion staff includes the unit staff, special staff, and liaison officers.

b. The unit staff consists of—

Adjutant (S-1) and assistant adjutant (personnel officer).
Intelligence officer (S-2).
Plans and training officer (S-3).
Supply officer (S-4).

c. The special staff includes those officers who by their assignments are considered as members of the special staff. They are—

Communication officer (platoon leader, communication platoon, headquarters company).
Gas officer.
Motor officer (platoon leader, motor maintenance platoon, headquarters company).
Surgeon (commanding medical detachment).

• 149. STAFF TEAM—a. The unit staff is so organized that it can function continuously, day and night, throughout an operation. It is organized into two groups, each group capable of functioning while the other group rests.

b. Each member of the unit staff must be trained to take over the duties of any other member. This is essential in order to organize the staff for continuous operation and to replace staff officers who become casualties or leave the command post for reconnaissance and visits.

• 150. STAFF ECHELONS.—a. During combat, and during movements immediately preceding combat, the battalion headquarters usually is divided into a forward and rear echelon. The forward echelon is known as the command post. That part of headquarters that remains in rear is known as the rear echelon. (See FM 100-5.)

b. (1) The following usually constitute the command post personnel:

Battalion commander.
Intelligence officer.
Plans and training officer.
Communication officer.
Organic liaison officers when not on duty at other command posts.
Liaison officers from other units.
Enlisted assistants to the above, radio operators.
Message center personnel, messengers, and drivers.

(2) The battalion commander's party usually consists of the commanding officers, S-2, S-3, an assistant S-3 if available, intelligence and operation sergeants, necessary clerks, radio operators, drivers, messengers, and sometimes a small security detachment. The party has no fixed station.

c. An assistant surgeon, together with the majority of the enlisted personnel of the medical detachment, although not part of the command post personnel, remain near the command post after deployment of the battalion. (See par. 145.)

d: (1) The following personnel usually remain at the rear echelon:

Company commander, headquarters company.
Personnel officer.
Enlisted members of the supply and administrative sections.
A small number of the enlisted men of the medical detachment.

(2) If three medical officers are with the battalion medical detachment, one may remain with the rear echelon.

e. The supply officer does not necessarily remain with the rear echelon; he goes where he can best perform his duties.

f. The battalion motor officer, initially, remains with the rear echelon. The necessity for supervising vehicle recovery will often require him to move forward. (See par. 56.)

• 151. STAFF OFFICER.—a. A staff officer, as such, has no authority to command. (See FM 101-5.) Whenever a staff officer issues an order it is only to transmit the orders or desires of the commander. If a staff officer deems it advisable to issue an order which is not in furtherance of an announced policy and has not been specifically authorized by his commander, he must inform his commander without delay of its content.

b. The staff secures and furnishes such information as may be required by the commander, prepares the details of his plan, translates his decision and plan into orders, and causes such orders to be transmitted to the troops. It brings to the commander's attention matters which require his action or about which he should be informed, makes a continuous study of the situation, and prepares tentative plans for possible future contingencies for the consideration of the commander. Within the scope of its authority, it supervises the execution of plans and orders and takes such other action as is necessary to carry out the commander's intentions.

c. The staff officer should have a thorough knowledge of the policies of his commander and should be acquainted with subordinate commanders and their units. A staff officer should be an active, well-informed assistant to the commander and a helpful adviser to subordinate commanders.

• 152. BATTALION EXECUTIVE.—a. The battalion executive is the principal assistant to the battalion commander. In the temporary absence of the commander, he makes such decisions as the occasion demands, based on the known wishes and policies of the commander. He keeps abreast of the situation and is familiar with the commander's plans. The executive usually remains at the command post. If he leaves the command post, he designates the next senior member of the unit staff to perform his duties.

b. The executive performs those duties delegated to him by the commander, and in general those outlined for the chief of staff in FM 101-5. He adapts himself to the role assigned him by his particular commander. He relieves the commander of details, particularly those of an administrative nature. He sees that the commander is kept informed of matters pertaining to the strength, morale, organization, training, equipment, supply of the battalion, and the tactical situation. He brings to the commander's attention matters requiring correction. He presents facts concisely with recommendations. He amplifies decisions made by the commander.

c. The executive coordinates the activities of the staff. He sees that its members cooperate and exchange information. He transmits the instructions and decisions of the commander; he examines the reports, plans, and orders prepared by members of the staff for corrections, completeness, clarity, and brevity; he causes staff officers to verify the execution of orders, and he supervises the keeping of the unit situation map.

• 153. ADJUTANT (S-1).—a. The adjutant performs duties similar to those outlined in FM 101-5 for the adjutant general and for the G-1, excluding duties inapplicable to the battalion or charged to the personnel officer. The combat duties of the adjutant include—

(1) Supervision of the training and functioning of the administrative section, staff platoon.

(2) Replacements of personnel and arrangements for receiving, processing, assigning, and quartering.

(3) Recreation and morale; supervision of religious, recreational, and welfare matters and other nonmilitary agencies.

(4) Decorations, citations, honors, and awards.

(5) Strength reports, casualty reports, prisoners of war reports, reports relative to enemy civilians (when applicable).

(6) Maintaining the unit journal.

(7) Command post arrangements, including allotting of space; supervision of movements of the command post and its security and concealment when the command post and rear echelon are separated.

(8) Allotment of space or areas for camps, bivouacs, or other quarters of the battalion.

(9) Supervision of mail clerks, mail distribution and collection.

(10) Composition of quartering parties, their time and place of reporting, rations and equipment to be taken, and arrangements for occupying selected sites.

(11) Custody and evacuation of prisoners of war. (Coordination with S-2.)

b. S-1 visits companies, whenever necessary, to obtain information as to casualties, replacements required, and actual strength of units; obtains data relating to the foregoing from S-3 and S-2; keeps commander informed of the strength of the command.

c. S-1 keeps in touch with the tactical situation and the activities of other staff officers and is prepared to take over their duties when necessary.

• 154. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER (S-2).—a. References.—For doctrines governing combat intelligence, see FM 100-5; for the general considerations and special aspects of combat intelligence, see FM 30-5; and for counterintelligence, see FM 30-25. For special subjects pertinent to intelligence, see other Field Manuals of the 30-series.

b. Essential elements of information.—FM 30-5 lists essential elements of information pertinent to all collecting agencies. The following are essential elements that are particularly applicable to tank destroyer units:

(1) In an advance by the enemy, the number, strength, composition, and direction of movement of armored columns and the probable place of contact.

(2) In an attack by the enemy, the direction and weight of the main tank attack and the location and composition of other hostile elements that might prevent the tank destroyers from reaching the tanks.

(3) In a defense by the enemy, the locations and composition of armored forces and their capabilities for counterattack.

(4) In an enemy retrograde movement, the direction of movement and location of demolitions and defensive positions; the locations and dispositions of the hostile armored forces.

(5) In a pursuit by an enemy, the strength, composition, location, and direction of movement of armored and other encircling or enveloping forces and where they will make contact; the location and composition of armored forces capable of pursuing by direct pressure.

(6) In projected operations, the nature, location, and condition of natural and man-made obstacles to our maneuver, and the determination of important terrain features not shown on available maps.

c. Information not limited to essential elements.—The essential elements of information are guides governing the search for information and not limitations regulating the information to be reported. Therefore, collecting agencies will transmit all enemy information which comes to their attention.

d. Duties.—The duties of the intelligence officer are—

(1) Special training of battalion intelligence personnel, and such supervision of intelligence and counterintelligence instruction within the battalion as directed by the battalion commander.

(2) Supervision of the training and functioning of that part of the operations and intelligence section, staff platoon, assigned to him.

(3) Through S-3, preparation of intelligence plans and orders to information collecting agencies.

(4) Maintenance of liaison and exchange of information with intelligence agencies of subordinate, higher, and neighboring units.

(5) Recording, evaluating, and interpreting information; and distributing information and military intelligence to the commander, interested staff officers, and higher, subordinate, and neighboring units.

(6) Examination of enemy personnel and captured documents and material for information of immediate importance to the battalion.

(7) Procurement and issue of maps, aerial photographs, and photomaps.

(8) General supervision of counterintelligence measures within the battalion.

• 155. PLANS AND TRAINING OFFICER (S-3).—a. S-3 is concerned primarily with the training and tactical operations of the battalion.

b. The duties of S-3 include—

(1) Supervision of the training and functioning of that part of the operations and intelligence section, staff platoon, assigned to him.

(2) Assembly of facts to assist the commander in his estimate of the training situation.

(3) Formulation of training plans in accordance with the commander's directive.

(4) Planning for, and supervision and coordination of—

(a) Allocation and use of training facilities.

(b) Organization and conduct of battalion schools.

(c) Allocation of equipment (with S-4).

(d) Assignment of replacements (with S-1).

(e) Troop movements (with S-4 on transportation and supply).

(f) Distribution of troops in bivouac, assembly areas, and in combat (with staff officers concerned).

(g) Reconnaissance and security measures (with S-2).

(5) Training records and reports of training.

(6) Study of the tactical situation and preparation of tactical plans (with S-2 and S-4).

(7) Preparation of field orders and operation maps (with other staff officers).

(8) Liaison with higher, adjacent, and subordinate units.

(9) Personal transmission by radio during combat of such orders as the battalion commander directs.

(10) Posting of S-3 data on the situation map.

(11) Tactical reports required by the executive.

(12) Signal communication and advance planning for special signal measures. (See also FM 101-5.)

• 156. SUPPLY OFFICER (S-4).—a. The supply officer supervises the battalion supply service and is responsible for its functioning in accordance with orders and with the tactical plan of the battalion; keeps in touch with S-3 and the tactical situation, with the headquarters and headquarters company, with subordinate commanders and the troops, with G-4 of the higher headquarters, and with all supply installations.

b. S-4 supervises the training and operation of the members of the supply section of the staff platoon.

c. The duties of S-4 include planning for and supervision of—

(1) Procurement, storage, transportation, and distribution of all supplies except emergency medical.

(2) Location of supply and maintenance installations.

(3) Maintenance of equipment.

(4) Salvage as directed.

(5) Collection and disposal of captured supplies (with S-2 for examination of material and with G-4 of higher headquarters for disposition).

(6) Evacuation.

(7) Traffic control (with S—3).

(8) Recommendations concerning protection of the battalion train bivouac and other rear area installations (with S-3 and headquarters commandant).

(9) Property responsibility and accountability.

(10) Administrative orders and supply arrangements of higher authority.

(11) Procurement of ammunition and other class V items such as pyrotechnics, antitank mines, and chemicals, and distribution to companies.

(12) Establishment, operation, and movement of the battalion ammunition distributing point.

(13 Ammunition needs of subordinate units.

(14) Preparation of ammunition records and reports.

(15) Control of elements of the battalion ammunition train not released to lower units.

• 157. PERSONNEL OFFICER.—a. The personnel officer is designated as assistant adjutant.

b. The personnel officer heads the personnel officer's group of the S-1 section. This group includes the personnel sergeant and designated clerks from the administrative section, headquarters company; it may include one clerk from each company of the battalion. It maintains the company and battalion records, reports, rosters, returns, files, and correspondence prescribed by AR 345-5.

c. In general, the personnel officer is charged with the preparation, maintenance, and safekeeping of all records, documents, correspondence, and statistics of a personnel and administrative nature that are not required to be kept at the command posts of the companies or the battalions. (See AR 345-5.) He is responsible under the adjutant for the administration of all company and detachment personnel records of which the battalion adjutant is custodian. (These do not include basic company records retained by the company commanders.) (See AR 345-5.) He is charged with the custody of company funds when the companies go into combat, or when, in the opinion of the battalion commander, funds might be lost because of casualties. He receipts for the funds and for all papers pertaining to them. He has no authority to make disbursements and returns the funds to the permanent custodians when the situation permits. (See TM 12-250.) He is also charged with the training of personnel to replace clerks with the battalion staff.

• 158. COMPANY COMMANDER, HEADQUARTERS COMPANY.—a. The company commander, headquarters company, acts as headquarters commandant when the command post and rear echelon are together. His duties as headquarter commandant are—

(1) Acting as quartering officer under, or in place of, S-1.

(2) Supervision of the physical movement of the command post, and furnishing the necessary men and transportation from company headquarters.

(3) Supervision of the messing and quartering of command post personnel.

b. When the command post and rear echelon are separated, the company commander, headquarters company, is responsible for the rear echelon. His duties include—

(1) Arrangement, installation, and movement of the rear echelon.

(2) Provision for the security of the rear echelon, using available personnel.

(3) Provision for the concealment of the rear echelon from air observation.

(4) Assistance to S-4 in the delivery of supplies to the combat echelon. When delivery is particularly difficult or important, he may direct his executive officer to accompany and take charge of the delivering party.

• 159. COMMUNICATION OFFICER.—a. The commander of the communication platoon is the battalion communication officer. As a special staff officer he is adviser to the battalion commander and staff on matters of signal communication technique.

b. In addition to commanding the communication platoon, his duties are:

(1) Such supervision of the technical training of communication personnel throughout the battalion as may be delegated to him by the commander.

(2) Technical advice and assistance to S-4 regarding the supply of signal communication material for the battalion.

(3) Plans and recommendations for establishing a system of radio nets throughout the battalion during combat, and technical supervision of the system to insure maximum coordination within the battalion and between it and the systems of adjacent, supporting, attached, and higher units. (See par. 166.)

(4) In combat, preparing or securing from higher headquarters such orders and signal operation instructions as may be needed to insure tactical and technical control of the signal communication system of his unit; distribution of such orders and signal operation instructions throughout his unit.

(5) Recommendations for procurement and replacement of signal communication personnel.

• 160. GAS OFFICER.—a. The battalion gas officer is selected by the battalion commander; he performs his duties as gas officer in addition to his other duties.

b. His duties are—

(1) Recommendations to S-4 concerning the supply of chemical munitions and antichemical protective equipment.

(2) Supervision and coordination of gas defense training in the battalion and periodic inspections of gas defense equipment.

(3) Supervision of the installation and maintenance of gas defense measures.

(4) Supervision of the use of decontaminating agents.

(5) Recommendations concerning the use of chemicals and smoke.

(6) Recommendations for standing orders concerning gas defense measures.

(7) Study of types and characteristics of chemicals and chemical equipment used by the enemy, and methods of employing them.

• 161. MOTOR OFFICER.—a. Motor operations and maintenance are functions of command. Continuous and efficient operations require that all command personnel give to maintenance activities the necessary time and effort to obtain desired results. Although a battalion commander may properly delegate authority to his subordinates, considerable personal and active control on the part of the commander is necessary to maintain vehicles in a high state of operating efficiency.

b. The commander of the motor maintenance platoon is the battalion motor officer. He must be qualified through training and experience to supervise motor maintenance operations and to advise his superiors and company commanders regarding maintenance measures and the condition of vehicles within the battalion.

c. In addition to commanding the motor maintenance platoon, his duties are—

(1) As directed by the battalion commander supervision of the maintenance of all vehicles within the battalion.

(2) Informing the battalion commander of the maintenance conditions within the battalion.

(3) Supervision of the recovery system. (See par. 56.)

(4) Recommendations to S-4 for the procurement of spare parts.

• 162. TRANSPORTATION OFFICER.—a. The battalion transportation officer commands the transportation platoon.

b. In addition to commanding the platoon, his duties are—

(1) Supervision of the maintenance and operation of all headquarters and headquarters company and attached vehicles.

(2) To keep S-3 and S-4 informed as to the status of all transportation platoon and attached vehicles.

• 163. SURGEON.—a. The battalion surgeon commands the medical detachment. He advises the battalion commander and staff on all matters pertaining to the health of the command and the sanitation of the battalion area; the training of all troops in military sanitation and first aid; the location and operation of medical establishments and the evacuation service.

b. The surgeon performs the following duties in addition to commanding the medical detachment:

(1) He supervises the instruction of the battalion in personal hygiene, military sanitation, and first aid.

(2) He makes medical and sanitary inspections and keeps the battalion commander informed of the medical situation in the battalion.

(3) He establishes and operates the battalion dispensary.

(4) He requisitions for medical and dental supplies and equipment required by the medical detachment.

(5) He arranges with the division surgeon for the evacuation of casualties from aid stations.

(6) He supervises the collection and evacuation of wounded.

(7) He supervises the preparation of casualty lists and other required records pertaining to the medical service.

c. Detailed duties of the surgeon are contained in Army Regulations and in FM 8-10.

• 164. LIAISON OFFICER.—a. Liaison officers are officers sent to or received from other units for the purpose of promoting cooperation and coordination by personal contact. (See par. 23.)

b. A liaison officer represents his commander at the command post to which he is sent. For detailed duties, see FM 101-5.

• 165. COMMAND POST OPERATION.—a. The command post is organized for continuous operation and to insure the necessary rest for personnel. Staff officers relieve each other and the battalion commander as necessary. Enlisted personnel work in shifts.

b. All incoming messages, except those radio or telephone messages that are transmitted directly to the recipient, go first to the message center. If in code, they are then decoded. The message center sends each message to the sergeant major, who supervises its delivery to the addressee, its circulation to interested staff officers, and its return for entry in the unit journal. Staff officers mark on the message any action taken.

c. Outgoing written messages are usually sent through the message center. After the message center chief receives notice that the message has been delivered, he places the duplicate copy in his dead file for entry in the unit journal.

d. Each officer is responsible that a synopsis of each important message or order sent out or received by him orally, or by telephone or radiotelephone, is sent to the unit journal.

• 166. RADIO NET.—a. The battalion radio net is organized so as to make the most efficient use of available sets. Details of net organization may vary from day to day. When both AM and FM: sets are used by the battalion, extremely careful coordination is required to obtain the best results.

b. Organization should be such that the battalion commander, with a small party, can go where he pleases in the battalion area and still have control of his unit. It is desirable that both the commander and the executive, who usually remains at the command post when the battalion commander is absent, have radio communication with subordinate and all important agencies.

c. The battalion commander's radio usually is on the battalion command channel; radios in vehicles accompanying him should be on frequencies permitting them to receive information from airplanes and from higher headquarters. A radio on the frequency of the reconnaissance company is advantageous. Vehicles in the battalion commander's party, when practicable, contain sets facilitating intervehicle communication. When such sets are lacking, this communication is by physical contact. It is desirable for the battalion commander's party to have several channels of communication with the battalion command post.

d. The command post, when sufficient sets are available, should be able to communicate with all sets in the battalion command net, higher headquarters, the battalion rear echelon, and aviation. Sufficient sets must be provided to fulfill the battalion's responsibilities in the warning system prescribed by higher headquarters.

e. It is advantageous for liaison officers to be on the command net, thereby keeping thoroughly informed concerning the situation; however, their distance from the battalion may require the use of another set or frequency.

f. Communication with higher headquarters, aviation, the rear echelon, staff or liaison officers sent on distant missions, and at times with the reconnaissance company or a detached tank destroyer company may require long range sets capable of code operations. Long range sets probably will be required in the warning service.

g. Organization of radio nets should be such that a few vehicle casualties will not disrupt communication. Duplication of sets on important channels, or retention of a radio reserve by the battalion, is highly desirable when sufficient sets are available.

• 167. STANDING OPERATING PROCEDURE.—a. Standing operating procedure is procedure prescribed to be carried out in the absence of orders to the contrary. In the standing operating procedure of a unit are included standing procedures for those tactical and administrative features of operations that lend themselves to routine or standardized procedure without loss of effectiveness. A standing operating procedure helps to simplify and abbreviate combat orders, expedite operations, and promote teamwork. It is published as an order and governs except when specified otherwise.

b. Each battalion develops its own standing operating procedure conforming to that established by the next higher unit. In effect, the standing operating procedure of a battalion is largely an outgrowth of its training as a team combined with the policies and methods of its commander and of the next higher commander. To be effective, it must be revised periodically.

c. Speed of movement in modem warfare demands a high degree of flexibility and initiative to meet rapidly changing situations, and a commander must not permit a standing operating procedure to narrow the scope of training or destroy opportunities for the use of initiative.


• 168. GENERAL.—a. The ideal entry into combat is that in which sufficient time and information of the enemy and the terrain are available to commanders to insure detailed reconnaissance of the area of contemplated operations. Time allowance in the planning of moves under battle conditions must be extremely generous; failure to do so lessens the chances of successful operation. However, combat units must be trained to operate with little time for advance preparation.

b. When the battalion engages hostile tanks, it will endeavor to hem them in with surprise gun fire. Maneuver should be directed against the front; flanks, or rear in such a manner that fire superiority is gained at each point of contact. Unduly wide dispersion and loss of control of companies must be avoided when operating against massed tank attacks; wide dispersion and actions by individual companies is permissible only when operating against dispersed armored forces. The duration of the action from any one position must be violent and brief. Every opportunity is sought to take advantage of the superior mobility of tank destroyers for executing the maximum damage against hostile tanks without receiving prohibitive losses.

c. Vulnerability of the tank destroyer battalion to the action of hostile infantry renders close support by friendly foot troops highly desirable. The strength of the supporting infantry that is available will influence the method of employment of the tank destroyer battalion and the directions from which attack can be made. When hostile infantry and artillery prevent the battalion from engaging the enemy's tanks, the battalion maintains contact with the hostile covering force by patrols, the bulk of the destroyers being kept in rear. In case the hostile infantry precedes the armored elements, the battalion fights a delaying action to hold the enemy's progress to the rate of foot troops; successive ambushes are employed if the enemy engages his armored elements. When only weak forces of infantry cover the hostile tanks, the battalion evades them or defeats them by the use of reconnaissance company personnel and security elements of tank destroyer companies.

• 169. COOPERATION WITH AVIATION.—It is essential that the tank destroyer battalion have the assistance of observation aviation for reconnaissance and liaison. This demands close cooperation between tank destroyer and air corps personnel. Air reconnaissance is particularly valuable to tank destroyer units in planning and conducting operations, and in maintaining liaison with a supported higher unit. Air observation keeps in close touch with the command post of the tank destroyer battalion by radio, dropped messages, prearranged signals, or the air-ground liaison code. It promptly reports movements which threaten the flanks or rear of firing positions and indicates suitable objectives for tank destroyer maneuver. For details of the action of observation aviation, see FM 31-35.

• 170. ENTERING ZONE OF OPERATIONS—a. The movement is preferably so timed that the unit can arrive in its initial bivouac during darkness.

b. Upon arrival in the initial park in a combat zone, the unit commander or a liaison officer reports to the command post of the unit to which the battalion is attached. The battalion starts preparations for combat, checking and servicing equipment and reorganizing its radio nets if necessary.

• 171. PREEMPLOYMENT PERIOD—a. At the first opportunity, preemployment reconnaissance of probable combat areas and routes is begun by the reconnaissance company and designated officers. Initial reconnaissance is confined to the road net, bridge capacities, and fords in the zone of operations of the supported or higher units.

b. The battalion is kept under control and only necessary reconnaissance, supply, and administrative personnel leave the park or bivouac. All personnel are kept informed of the situation.

c. The bivouac is concealed and organized for all-around defense upon occupation. Tank destroyer companies usually will be on the perimeter of the areas, with supply and administrative installations in the center. The reconnaissance company usually will be located conveniently with respect to the principal exit front the position. Combat companies post security for the defense of their sector of the position, covering routes of approach both with tank destroyer guns and dismounted security groups. Antiaircraft sections are distributed near or on the outer perimeter of the bivouac and crews are given specific instructions concerning conditions under which fire is to be opened. The battalion commander coordinates these dispositions at the earliest practicable moment.

d. Vehicles located near main roads must be particularly well concealed. It is preferable to have no vehicles within 100 yards of main roads.

e. Preparations are made to move out of the area with minimum warning, without lights, and without recourse to an assembly on or near the route of egress. Paths for each vehicle to the nearest trail are selected, marked, and cleared when necessary.

• 172. RECONNAISSANCE PHASE.—a. Only when coordinated plans for contemplated employment have been made or approved by the supported or higher commander will detailed reconnaissance be initiated. This reconnaissance, conducted from the park or bivouac area, will include routes and selection of positions.

b. When occupying a position in readiness, the battalion prepares several alternative plans. Reconnaissance for each plan is made, and tentative instructions issued as to the order of march, route, and missions for each, usually through operations maps or overlays.

• 173. MARCH PRIOR TO DEPLOYMENT.—a. The battalion may march as a unit (under battalion control) in one or more columns; or the tank destroyer companies, with attached reconnaissance company elements, may move independently from the park or intermediate positions to combat areas. It is desirable to march the battalion in more than one column when parallel roads not more than 5 miles apart are available Independent movement of companies during the predeployment stage is unusual.

b. Whenever the battalion marches as a unit, the reconnaissance company informs the battalion commander of the situation and operates so that the battalion is able to maneuver under the protection of its own screen or within an area covered by its own information-gathering agencies. The battalion commander assigns specific reconnaissance missions to the reconnaissance company, indicating the routes or areas to be reconnoitered and the time for reports. In an advance toward the enemy, phase lines may be designated, corresponding to suitable assembly or attack positions. When distant from the enemy, the first phase line usually will be an important terrain feature suitable as to distance for a march halt. On nearing the enemy, when the main body of the battalion reaches one phase line, the main body of the reconnaissance company, in principle, should be on the next phase line, with patrols reconnoitering to a still more advanced line. Battalion halts on phase lines are made only if an encounter with the enemy appears imminent, or when control over the battalion must be regained.

c. When phase lines are assigned, the reconnaissance company will report the situation to the battalion Commander each time the head of the main body approaches a phase line. Negative reports will be made.

d. During the movement, the battalion commander assigns such additional reconnaissance and security missions as are necessary.

e. (1) The combat echelon usually marches in the following order when in single column:

(a) Reconnaissance company.

(b) Advance guard (usually one light tank destroyer platoon).

(c) Forward echelon of headquarters and headquarters company (less battalion commander's party) in the following order:

Battalion executive.
Liaison officers from other units.
Communication officer and sergeant.
Message center.
Other command post vehicles.

(d) Tank destroyer companies (less detachments).

(e) Medical detachment (less rear echelon medical personnel and personnel attached to companies).

(f) Detachment motor maintenance platoon.

(2) Rear and flank guards are employed as required by the situation.

(3) The post of the battalion commander's party is not fixed; the commander moves where he can best direct the actions of the battalion. He will frequently follow the reconnaissance company or accompany the advance guard.

(4) Destroyer company commanders march at the head of their companies unless directed to march with the battalion command post.

f. When the battalion moves in two columns, the reconnaissance company is usually divided as indicated in paragraph 134. Two destroyer companies usually move with the battalion command post on the principal route and one destroyer company on the other.

g. Tank destroyer units should expect attack by hostile aircraft, especially dive bombers and low altitude attack planes. The destroyer company which follows the command post details antiaircraft guns to protect it.

h. The rear echelon is composed of the following:

(1) Headquarters company (less elements in combat echelon).

(2) Kitchen, gas and oil, ammunition, and supply vehicles.

(3) Battalion and company motor maintenance sections (less elements in the combat echelon).

(4) Rear echelon of the medical detachment.

i. The nature of the terrain to be traversed, distance to objective, locations of assembly positions, amount of cover and concealment, time and space factors, the situation of the enemy, and the mission determine whether any other elements accompany the combat echelon in an advance to battle. If the supply and repair echelons are left behind in the park, they must be ready to move forward. The fuel section usually follows the combat echelon into an assembly position if refueling there is probable or will be required, for example, an occupation by night preparatory to a dawn attack.

j. Fuel and ammunition sections of the battalion train are usually directed to follow the rear tank destroyer company when the combat echelon is to make a long march and when physical contact between rear and combat echelons is precarious, for example, separation by defiles that might be blocked by the enemy, activity of hostile patrols, or extreme difficulty of orientation in terrain without landmarks. For operation under desert condition, see FM 31-25.

k. When tank destroyer companies with attached reconnaissance platoons move independently from the park or intermediate position to a combat area or to a position in readiness, vehicles of the fuel and ammunition sections usually will be attached.

• 174. DEVELOPMENT AND APPROACH MARCH.—a. In open terrain when approaching the enemy, tank destroyer battalions must move in open dispositions. Development distributes the companies so as to insure the battalion's readiness for action and minimizes the effects of hostile aviation and artillery fire. The battalion formation usually is dictated by the road net, except when cross country movement is feasible for considerable distances. On plains or when more than one road is available, the battalion moves on a broad front. In wooded areas the battalion usually moves in column of companies with elements adopting open dispositions when crossing large clearings.

b. The objective of the approach march is fixed in accordance with the situation and the terrain. It usually will be an assembly position designated prior to the start of the march. In some cases it will be designated as a result of developments during the movement. The tank destroyer companies when close to the enemy usually follow the reconnaissance company closely in order promptly to exploit information gathered by the company; however, the tank destroyer companies must avoid premature exposure or excessive restriction of maneuver space.

c. Terrain features of tactical importance, such as those constituting antitank obstacles, or those which give extensive views over the terrain, or those which afford concealment from air and ground observation are often selected as intermediate objectives. Stream crossings, woods, road junctions, and villages may also determine bounds of movement.

d. As the battalion approaches intermediate objectives, reports from patrols, air, and other reconnaissance agencies are received and the battalion commander determines his course of action. Arrangements must be made in advance to insure receipt of such fresh reconnaissance reports at the desired time.

e. When there is little probability of hostile artillery fire or airplane attack, deployment is delayed until a late stage of the advance.

• 175. OCCUPATION OF ASSEMBLY POSITION.—a. Unless a tank destroyer battalion, due to a hostile advance, is already located in a suitable position from which to launch an attack, or the situation is so critical that piecemeal engagement of elements is necessary, it will usually be desirable to halt the battalion in an assembly position to regain control, especially if the unit has made a long march by night or under air attack. Halts in an assembly position for refueling are often necessary. If possible, company commanders or representatives are assembled to receive final orders in the assembly position. If cover is available and hostile air activity permits, companies halt in dispersed and concealed column off the road for a minimum time during which units complete preparation for battle.

b. Security squads protect front, flanks, and rear from being reconnoitered or attacked by hostile forces during the occupation of the assembly position. The advance guard and detachments of the reconnaissance company are employed at a greater distance to block the principal avenues of approach to the position. Other detachments of the reconnaissance company reconnoiter hostile dispositions, the probable combat area, and the routes thereto.

• 176. ENGAGEMENTS WITH ARMORED ELEMENTS.—Engagement with hostile armored elements may occur in several ways. Examples of types of engagement are:

a. When engaging an armored force that is in movement, either in column or deployed, the battalion may send an element against the head of the hostile dispositions while other elements engage either or both flanks, or rear. The battalion frequently moves to actions of this kind from a position in readiness. Such actions usually are characterized by rapidity, and may take the form of a meeting engagement. The battalion commander insures that the deployment is initiated prior to contact.

b. The battalion may select ambush positions prior to contact. One company is usually posted to block or delay the head of the hostile force while another company engages the flank. Tank destroyer companies in this type of action initially engage the bulk of their strength. A battalion reserve, usually a company, is essential.

c. The battalion may attack tanks in parks or assembly positions.

• 177. PLANS OF ACTION.—a. The amount of detail in orders will largely depend upon the time available for preparation of the operation and the degree of training of the troops.

b. When the battalion enters action from a position in readiness, it often will put into execution a prearranged plan. The attack order in such case will consist merely of "Plan 1 (or 2) ACTION."

c. When a battalion enters action directly from route column, usually only fragmentary orders assigning combat missions, given by radio, will be practicable. These may be amplified later.

d. When the situation permits occupation of an assembly position, the battalion commander completes his own reconnaissance and formulates his plan of action while the assembly position is being occupied. In accordance with his estimate of the situation and orders received from higher authority, he determines his initial dispositions and scheme of maneuver.

e. The basic battalion scheme of maneuver is always clearly indicated in the battalion commander's orders; for example, to pin the enemy against an obstacle and destroy him, to surprise him in bivouac to envelop a flank, or to draw the enemy into an ambush.

• 178. TANK DESTROYER COMPANY MISSIONS.—a. Tank destroyer companies, because of the nature of their combat, must perform a most difficult operation; this operation is maneuver against a strong force that is itself capable of rapid maneuver. Therefore, the companies usually cannot be assigned battle missions that require them to act or maneuver in a specifically described manner; battle missions must be of a general nature.

b. Attack echelon companies are given their battle tasks in terms of objectives, directions of attack, combat areas, or zones of action.

(1) Objectives.—In fast moving situations, units are usually assigned objectives with, at times, a general direction of advance. In most cases the designated objective of a tank destroyer unit may be any armored element appearing in a given portion of terrain. Exceptionally, a terrain feature itself may constitute an objective. Assignment of a direction of advance is not to be regarded as preventing advantageous detours; however, when a route is indicated as an axis of advance, the unit is expected to maintain sufficient force in the vicinity of the road to control it.

(2) Direction of attack.—When the general plan of action can be determined in advance, and the battalion commander considers it feasible closely to coordinate the start of the action, he may designate the region in which units are to form for action. They should be able to reach the designated position without the necessity of combat. A general direction of advance therefrom may be prescribed. Actual initiation of the action may be effected by radio or other signal. The method of action is left to the recipient unless otherwise stated.

(3) Combat areas.—Combat areas are assigned when it is necessary to act in terrain which is divided into compartments by natural obstacles hindering lateral movement or when it is desired to prescribe the exact region where subordinate units are to operate initially. Boundaries of combat areas are indications only, and in emergencies subordinate commanders do not hesitate to disregard them so long as they do not interfere with the actions of adjacent units. The objective of a unit which has been assigned a combat area is any hostile force encountered in or near the area. The method of action is left entirely to the recipient of the order. The relative size of the combat area is in accordance with the contemplated degree of control. In cases when it is necessary to act simultaneously over an extensive region and decentralized action appears necessary, large combat areas may be assigned.

(4) Zones of action.—A zone of action is a special form of combat area. It requires advance in a given direction. Zones of action are usually assigned only if the battalion itself, acting in conjunction with other troops, has been assigned a zone of action in which to advance. Division of the battalion zone into company zones is advisable only when the battalion frontage is large enough to require initial engagement of more than one company, and when visible landmarks clearly divide the terrain. In other cases the formation and direction of advance are indicated, together with any necessary instructions relative to maintenance of contact.

c. When a unit occupies an ambush position, surprise mass action against the enemy is contemplated. The initial method of action of the recipient of the order is thereby prescribed. He may adopt another method of action only in an emergency or when the situation has developed in a manner different from that anticipated.

d. Reserve units are assigned an initial location or directed to follow a designated unit or advance along a prescribed axis.

• 179. COORDINATION OF ACTION.—An action may be coordinated as to time by requiring units to initiate movements or cross a given line at a designated time. When the situation permits, companies may be directed to an initial location, and upon arrival directed by radio to initiate their action. When a friendly force holds a suitable line of departure, this action usually will be desirable.

• 180. ALLOTMENT OF CHEMICAL TROOPS.—a. When a chemical platoon is attached, the battalion usually suballots mortars to tank destroyer companies if the latter do not have 81-mm mortars. Platoon headquarters and at least one chemical mortar are usually kept with the battalion commander.

b. The chemical platoon is employed as a unit when observation from an important terrain feature must be blinded, or when a continuous screen of smoke is required over a wide front.

• 181. CONTROL OF ACTION—a. The battalion commander and his party observe and control the conduct and progress of the action throughout, not hesitating to move to any location which facilitates this control. The party moves with wide dispersion. During the approach, the battalion commander, with a small security detachment, may be close behind the reconnaissance company or accompanying the advance guard. In an engagement, he is frequently near the tank destroyer company that is most heavily engaged or wherever he has good radio communication with all elements of the battalion and where he can observe the main features of the action.

b. In accordance with developments, the battalion commander engages reserves, alters missions, and changes combat areas. He keeps informed of the situation by reports from the engaged units, battalion reconnaissance, liaison with air and other units, and by personal observation. Radio communication and the flexibility and maneuverability of tank destroyer companies enable him to forestall or surprise the enemy. After contact with hostile armored elements, the battalion commander may assign any of a variety of missions to the reconnaissance company, as indicated in paragraph 135.

c. The battalion commander endeavors constantly to reconstitute a reserve as soon as his original reserve has been committed. The integrity of tactical units is restored as soon as practicable in all cases.

d. During combat the battalion commander keeps higher authority informed of the situation of the battalion and requests such assistance from other troops as is required. When practicable, artillery fire or action of combat aviation will be requested on suitable targets, for example an immobilized tank concentration which destroyers are unable to assail. Similarly, the battalion commander may be able to arrange for neutralization of hostile weapons hindering the maneuver of his battalion and against which tank destroyer units cannot act effectively. (See FM 31-35.)

• 182. PURSUIT—a. When the battalion commander recognizes that the enemy is disorganized and retreating, he takes immediate steps to press the advantage by directing commanders of the attacking echelon to engage reserves, maintain the attack, and exert relentless pressure.

b. He employs his own reserve, usually a tank destroyer company and available elements of the reconnaissance company in an enveloping or encircling maneuver to cut off the enemy's retreat. Double envelopment is employed when conditions permit. If the battalion commander has no reserve available for the encircling or enveloping maneuver, he may detach one or more of the engaged tank destroyer companies.

c. The mobility, fire power, and demolitions capability of the reconnaissance company are employed effectively in the encircling action. It blocks defiles on the enemy's line of retreat, disrupts traffic on main roads, seeks and reports locations and movements of hostile forces, and takes under fire hostile elements attempting to reform. It especially seeks to destroy the hostile trains.

d. The units employed in the direct pressure and in an encircling or enveloping maneuver are assigned directions, zones of action, or objectives, designed to bring the pursuit to a decisive conclusion. The unit executing the encircling or enveloping maneuver advances along roads parallel to the enemy's retreat and attempts to cut off or ambush him at defiles, bridges, and other critical points. If the enemy makes a stand, prompt measures are taken to locate a vulnerable point and to attack him.

• 183. REORGANIZATION.—a. Immediately after any phase of combat, reorganization and control of the battalion and its subdivisions must be effected. In effecting reorganization of the battalion, platoons should assemble, hastily reorganize, and proceed to the company rallying position: companies then reorganize and proceed to the battalion rallying position, where the process is completed. In some situations, movements to successive rallying positions will be by infiltration of vehicles, sections, and platoons.

b. The battalion commander will designate a new battalion rallying position if the previously designated position is unsuitable.

c. Battalion rallying positions preferably are in locations occupied by friendly troops. In all cases, to preclude surprise attack, infiltration by small hostile units, or ambush, battalion rallying positions are reconnoitered and secured prior to and during occupation.

d. Upon receipt of the order to rally, the battalion executive, leaving S-1 in charge of the advance command post, immediately proceeds to the rallying position. He takes with him sufficient personnel to choose company areas and to provide for necessary reconnaissance and security. Personnel with him may come from any reserve elements in the battalion or, if none are available, from the command post personnel. When he has made a hasty reconnaissance of the position and selected company areas, he designates company guides from the personnel with him. The guides then direct companies to their proper areas as they arrive at the position.

e. Whenever practicable, the command post, less elements of the battalion commander's party, under the direction of S-1, moves to the rallying position with the nearest tank destroyer company in order to obtain as much protection as possible en route.

f. As soon as companies have occupied their areas in the battalion rallying position, company commanders will report immediately to the battalion commander, leaving reorganization of the companies under the direction of their executive officers.

• 184. FLANK PROTECTION.—a. The mobility and ease of control of the tank destroyer battalion adapt it for protection of the flank of a large unit against hostile armored forces.

b. The battalion usually accomplishes this mission by successive occupation of key positions by major portions of its forces, together with vigorous reconnaissance toward the flank to be guarded. It may successively detach companies at important points and advance them so as to form a moving screen, in case it is protecting the flank of a rapidly moving unit. Separation of companies by more than 5 miles is rarely necessary or desirable. (See FM 100-5.)

• 185. DELAYING ACTION—The battalion may be directed to fight a delaying action pending arrival of tank destroyer reinforcements. In delaying actions the battalion usually disposes two destroyer companies abreast with the third in reserve. Wide frontages are assigned. Principal routes are covered and intervening areas are observed. The reconnaissance company reconnoiters to the flanks and obstructs main roads. Withdrawal of combat echelon companies may be simultaneous or by company, and is effected on radio orders. Light platoons cover company withdrawals. The reserve is usually deployed as a covering force and is withdrawn in turn after the combat echelon has passed. The mobility of destroyers allows them to disengage rapidly and deploy again for action within a short time at a relatively distant position. Usually the order for the withdrawal designates the initial position and the first withdrawal position; subsequent positions are designated as the action progresses. Reconnaissance for the subsequent positions and routes thereto is essential.

• 186. SUPPORTING ACTIONS.—a. Special considerations governing employment of tank destroyer battalions assigned to infantry, cavalry, motorized, and armored divisions are treated in the following section.

b. The tank destroyer battalion commander must be prepared to undertake missions which will tax his ingenuity and resources. He must exert every effort to fulfill such missions, exploiting the flexibility and fire power of his command, without risking its unnecessary destruction.

c. The tank destroyer commander and liaison officers of a battalion attached to a higher unit should be able to assist the higher commander and his staff in the selection and assignment of proper and feasible missions for the battalion.


• 187. GENERAL.—a. Tank destroyer battalions assigned or attached to a division are employed to further the combat action of the division. Their primary mission is against hostile tanks.

b. Close liaison is maintained between the division staff and the battalion. Tentative plans for employment of the battalion are prepared well in advance. The battalion commander is kept informed of the situation at all times and the battalion is tied in to the division tank warning net.

c. Coordination with other troops of the division may include exclusive reservation of routes or the allocation of priority to the battalion on selected roads, to assure rapid entry into action of the battalion when committed.

d. In emergencies when the division commander intensifies activity to locate hostile tank concentrations and ascertain their direction of movement and strength, he may consider it necessary to assign reconnaissance or observation missions to the tank destroyer battalion to augment the efforts of observation aviation and other division intelligence agencies. The tank destroyer battalion commander, in employing portions of his reconnaissance company to execute these missions, must exercise rigid economy. He must conserve the bulk of his reconnaissance personnel for the critical period when the battalion will be committed to combat. Verification of the accuracy of initial reports of contact with hostile mechanized units is advisable; it should be recalled that tanks often form part of reconnaissance elements; moreover, hostile detachments may attempt a diversion for purposes of deception.

e. When other forces are available to meet the main hostile armored attack, a tank destroyer battalion may be employed against hostile mechanized reconnaissance. When assigned a counterreconnaissance mission, the battalion accomplishes it by offensive action, whenever practicable. When the situation requires a defensive screen, elements of the reconnaissance company, reinforced as necessary, will constitute counterreconnaissance detachments (see par. 124). The bulk of the battalion will be held in rear prepared to counterattack hostile forces penetrating the screen.

• 188. TANK DESTROYER BATTALION ATTACHED TO INFANTRY DIVISION.—a. General.—(1) Tentative plans for the employment of the battalion are based upon a study of the terrain, available approaches including the road net, time and space, the mission of the division, the plan of the division commander, and other factors. The ideal to be sought is that the battalion move out within a few seconds of the decision of the division commander for its engagement in combat; that it should not be delayed or interfered with by friendly troops in its advance to contact, and that in combat it be assisted to the maximum by other troops of the division. In some cases an artillery liaison officer may be sent to the battalion.

(2) Once the main hostile tank element is located and its direction of attack determined, the division commander engages the tank destroyer battalion in accordance with prearranged plans, altered as required by the situation.

b. Offensive situation.—(1) The battalion furthers the division's attack by protecting it against tank counterattacks or by removing tank threats against its flank and rear. It usually occupies successive positions in readiness. When the battalion is with an interior division, these positions are close behind the rearmost elements of attacking infantry regiments; the forward limiting features are avoidance of exposure to observed fire and availability of lateral covered routes toward the flanks of the division. When operating with a flank division, the battalion may he echeloned on the flank, prepared to meet armored counterattacks against rear installations as well as forward elements, or held in a central position of readiness.

(2) In order to allow the uninterrupted development and continuation of the division's offensive action, the tank destroyer battalion forestalls development of hostile tank counterattacks or fends them off before they can strike friendly dispositions.

c. Defensive situation.—(1) The battalion is usually held in a centrally located position in readiness, prepared to go to meet any armored attack threatening the flanks of the division or penetrating its organized localities. Tanks will often be engaged in the vicinity of the light artillery positions.

(2) When the probable location and direction of a tank attack can be accurately determined, tank destroyers may be used to deepen and reinforce the organic antitank defense. Units equipped with towed weapons are particularly adapted to such employment; at critical times or in areas definitely threatened by tank penetration, some self-propelled weapons may be used for this purpose. Destroyers so utilized should either be dug in and carefully camouflaged, or held in readiness under cover close behind reconnoitered positions. The rest of the battalion should be held in a position in readiness a short distance in rear, prepared to operate in the same vicinity against the flanks of a tank attack.

(3) The battalion hunts down and destroys small tank units; against a large armored force reaching the division rear area, the battalion's efforts may consist primarily of delaying action to permit the effective entry into action of reinforcing tank destroyer units. If unable to defeat the hostile tanks, the battalion seeks to delay their movement, force them toward unfavorable terrain, and canalize their movement. By repeated ambushes and delivery of accurate fire from successive positions, it maintains pressure on the tanks until arrival of reinforcing elements permits their complete destruction. The battalion fights to the end to prevent capture of vital terrain features or centers of communication which it has been ordered to defend.

d. Pursuit.—The battalion may move close in rear of leading elements of other friendly troops to prevent small armored elements from delaying the pursuit, It also is well suited to protect a motorized encircling force from armored attack.

e. River crossings.—Elements of the tank destroyer battalion are usually crossed early to provide protection against armored counterattack. When the division defends a river line, the tank destroyer battalion is held beyond the range of hostile medium artillery initially, but is engaged promptly against any hostile tanks which manage to cross. Exceptionally, opportunity may be afforded for engagement against tanks which are supporting the crossing by fire from the opposite bank.

f. Retrograde movements.—The tank destroyer battalion usually forms part of the rear guard, or when a flank is exposed, the flank guard.

g. On the march.—The battalion occupies successive positions whence it can best protect the division. Depending on the situation, this may be on an exposed flank, in rear of the central column, or with advance elements of the division. Active reconnaissance is maintained. When acting as flank guard, successive key positions, covering likely avenues of tank approach, are occupied.

h. Protection of bivouacs and assembly positions.—The battalion, with reconnaissance well out, is held in a central position in readiness.

• 189. TANK DESTROYER BATTALION ATTACHED TO MOTORIZED DIVISION.—a. Movements.—The motorized division is characterized by great mobility but when in movement it is highly vulnerable to armored attack. The tank destroyer battalion should move well forward within the division's dispositions or on an exposed flank in order to stop or fend off hostile armored attacks. It may be used to assist in covering the division's assembly for action.

b. Other situations.—In offensive and defensive situations, pursuits and withdrawals, a tank destroyer battalion with a motorized division operates generally as indicated for a battalion with an infantry division.

• 190. TANK DESTROYER BATTALION ATTACHED TO CAVALRY DIVISION.—a. Offensive situations.—Cavalry is usually employed in advance or on a flank when operating offensively with other ground forces. The tank destroyer battalion usually operates on or near the exposed flank of the cavalry to prevent its envelopment by hostile armored forces.

b. Defensive situations.—In defensive combat, cavalry usually employs the methods of delaying action. The tank destroyer battalion will be used to operate against the front and flanks of attacking hostile armored forces which are in pursuit, either by direct pressure or encircling action.

c. Reconnaissance and counterreconnaissance.—Cavalry employed on a reconnaissance mission will usually hold the tank destroyer battalion centrally located to counterattack hostile armored units which may be directed against the main body of the reconnaissance force. When the cavalry division executes counterreconnaissance, the tank destroyer battalion will be held available to expel armored penetrations of the counterreconnaissance screen.

• 191. TANK DESTROYER BATTALION ATTACHED TO ARMORED DIVISION OR GHQ TANK GROUP.—a. General.—Tank destroyer battalions attached to armored divisions are frequently employed to protect a bivouac, assembly position, or rallying position; to guard an exposed flank, or protect the rear of the division. They may be employed in combat to fend off attacks of hostile tanks, thus allowing the armored division to concentrate its efforts on its principal mission.

b. Employment.—Tank destroyer battalions with armored divisions are not the only units fitted for offensive engagement against hostile tanks as is the case when with other types of divisions; their employment is affected by this consideration. It is marked by frequent alternation of wide deployments and assemblies in executing successive covering or protective missions.

c. March.—The battalion may be used as a unit, or companies may be attached to armored regiments or combat commands when the division moves in more than one column. During the advance tank destroyer units usually move near the head of the unit to which they are attached. The entire battalion is often used to guard an exposed flank; it is attached to or acts as flank guard.

d. Protection of bivouacs or assembly positions.—When armored units go into assembly positions, tank destroyer units immediately deploy to cover likely avenues of approach for hostile armored forces. A portion of the battalion is held in mobile reserve.

e. Protection of the rear installations.—The rear installations of the division are far more vulnerable to armored attack than the combat echelon; the tank destroyer battalion will frequently be assigned to their protection. It occupies a centrally located position in readiness and reconnoiters vigorously.

f. During combat.—(1) The tank destroyer units may advance behind the second echelon of attack, usually the second armored battalion in depth. They are prepared to repel counterattacks from flank and rear. If a flank is exposed, the battalion is located to protect it.

(2) As the attack progresses, rear tank units will pass through the tank destroyers to enter combat. After the objective is reached, the tank destroyers move forward and protect the reorganization.

(3) In defense the tank destroyer battalion as a unit is usually held in mobile reserve initially.

g. Retrograde movements and river crossings.—In retrograde movements and river crossings, employment of the battalion is generally similar to that indicated for battalions with infantry divisions.

[Back to Table of Contents] Back to Table of Contents