TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



3. Organization of the Attack

a. ATTACK ORDER. The attack order (Angriffsbefehl) generally contains the objective of the attack, the disposition of the infantry, unit sectors and boundaries, disposition and support missions of the artillery, location of reserves, and the time of attack. The order is not drawn up in accordance with any stereotyped form, but as a rule follows this pattern:

(1) Estimate of the situation (disposition of hostile and friendly troops).

(2) Mission.

(3) Assembly areas for the forward companies; objective; sector boundaries; orders for the continuation of combat reconnaissance.

(4) Instructions for the preparation of the heavy-weapons fire support, especially for massed fire.

(5) Orders to the artillery for fire preparation and coordination.

(6) Assembly areas for the reserves.

(7) Time of attack.

(8) Instructions for rear services (medical service and supplies).

(9) Location of command posts.

(10) Miscellaneous.

b. SECTORS OF ATTACK. The width of a sector assigned to an infantry unit in the attack depends on the unit's mission and battle strength, on terrain conditions, on the available fire support of all arms, and on the probable strength of enemy resistance. Normally the sector assigned to a platoon is between 165 and 220 yards. A company attack sector is about 330 to 550 yards. A battalion sector is 440 to 1,100 yards, while a division sector may be 4,400 to 5,500 yards. These sectors also provide the boundaries for the other arms, especially for the artillery in support of the infantry, although the artillery may utilize favorable observation positions in neighboring sectors. This also applies to the heavy infantry weapons.

For large units the sectors are determined from the map; for smaller units, from the terrain. These sectors extend as deep into enemy territory as the plan of battle may require. As the situation develops, changes are frequently made. Important points always lie within units' sectors, unless they are to be attacked by several units. The Germans do not consider it necessary to occupy the whole width of the sector with troops. Open flanks ordinarily are not bounded.

c. FIRE PLAN. Fire superiority is achieved through coordination of the infantry and artillery weapons. The basis for the fire plan (Feuerplan) is the regulation of the commitment of all weapons.

The fire plan includes the following:

(1) Assignment of combat missions.

(2) Distribution of observation sectors and fields of fire for the infantry and the artillery.

(3) An estimate of capabilities of the artillery for effective execution of the combat mission.

(4) Orders for the commencement of fire and fire schedules.

(5) Orders for the preparation for massed fire.

(6) Instructions for ammunition supply.

The Germans stress the coordination of flat and high trajectory weapons so that all dead spaces are covered by fire. Lack of signal equipment, however, often hinders the application of this principle.


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