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Tactics 101 082 – Infiltraton in History and PracticeBy Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland | Tactics101|War College | Published: March 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm
Infiltration in History and Practice
- Major Rogers standing orders for his Rangers in 1759
Infiltration is a form of maneuver in which combat elements execute an undetected movement into and through enemy occupied territory in order to occupy terrain or conduct an attack of a position in the enemyâ€™s rear area. Â Infiltration involves the stealthy movement of principally small, lightly equipped, infantry forces through and into enemy rear areas.Â The infiltrating force uses stealth to slip through front line positions in order to attack lightly defended support activities such as command and control, artillery, logistics, and transportation.Â Â This isolates front line enemy forces for attack by more heavily equipped follow-on forces. An infiltration can also be focused in other areas which we will highlight shortly.Â It is a maneuver that can be conducted via land, sea, or air (and any combination).
** For the purposes of this article, we will focus on infiltration on land.Â In future articles, we will address the intricacies of infiltration via sea and air.
World War I.Â Â The riddle(s) of the trenches, machine guns, and armies too big on fronts too long with no open flanks should have been foreseen by any astute historian paying attention to military affairs.Â The tale begins with the Siege of Petersburg 1864 â€“ 1865; the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the Defense of Mukden in 1905.Â All three saw massed armies, entrenchments, and rapid fire weapons. Â In 1898, Jan Bloch, a Polish banker and student of modern industrial warfare wrote Is War Now Impossible? to address the increasingly lethal battlefield.Â He concluded that:
Â Not a bad prediction of things to come sixteen years later; Bloch looked like a genius.Â What he missed is that thereâ€™s always a solution given time and ingenuity in the face to war.Â Infiltration began to emerge as a solution in 1916 during the Russian led Brusilov Offensive.Â In 1917, came the British Battle of Arras and the German Siege of Riga and Battle of Caporetto. Â The real breakthrough emerged later in 1917, on the Eastern front, under the dynamic duo of Hindenburg and Ludendorf.
In 1915, a French Army Captain, Andre Laffargue, became the first to introduce infiltration tactics in a pamphlet titled The Attack in Trench Warfare. Â The booklet was based on his experiences in trenches and they advocated that the first wave of an attack find, but not attack strongpoints, leaving them for following waves.Â The French published Laffargueâ€™s pamphlet, but ignored it. The British did not even translate it. Â The Germans however, translated and issued it in 1916 to augment tactics already being developed.Â The new German tactics required new formations of specially trained and equipped troops known as storm troopers.Â Â The new tactics became known as Hutier tactics, named after General Oskar von Hutier who made them famous during OPERATION MICHAEL in 1918. Â Infiltration now possessed doctrine and doctrine that had been executed in combat.
General Oskar von Hutier
Â In Hutier Tactics, infiltration attacks began with brief and violent artillery preparation of the enemy front lines in place of the traditional weekâ€™s long barrage.Â The new artillery purpose was to suppress enemy positions rather than destroy them. Â The new artillery preparation would shift to the enemy rear area to disrupt lines of communications, artillery, logistics, and command and control nodes.Â The goal was disruption at the critical moment.Â The resulting confusion would degrade the enemyâ€™s ability to launch credible counterattacks, concentrate fires, and shift units to fill gaps or block penetrations.
Light infantry led infiltration attacks. Â They would evade and bypass frontline fortified positions, thus identifying gaps in the front line. Â The infiltrating light infantry units would â€śpullâ€ť the larger, more heavily equipped, units through.Â More heavily armed units would follow and attack the bypassed and isolated enemy strong points. Â Other follow on forces would enter the gaps to reduce the strongpoints and precipitate the collapse of the entire front. Â These infiltration attacks relied on surprise and speed.
1918 WW I Germans create Storm-troop units and infiltration tactics
Organization:Â Divisional and Regimental assets pushed to squad and platoon
Storm-troopers were special troops formed in the last year of World War I.Â They employed the â€śinfiltration tacticsâ€ť.Â Pre-1918 attacks began with an artillery barrage followed by massed infantry assault. The new strategy employed new phases:
Began with a short concentrated artillery bombardment to neutralize front lines not destroy them.
The new tactics were to; achieve tactical surprise, focus at weak points, bypass strongpoints, and abandon operations controlled from afar.Â Junior leaders exercised on the spot initiative. Â This was the key to the success of infiltration tacticsâ€”small unit leaders were expected to lead autonomously rather than be led.
Â PLANNING AN INFILTRATION
In your planning, there are several key decisions you will make to execute the infiltration.Â Letâ€™s address them below:
Size of Force
Single Infiltration Lane â€“
Multiple Infiltration Lanes â€“
Below are some basics on rally points:
Ââ€”Large enough for the force to assemble in.
Within the world of rally points, there are several varieties (all that can be utilized in an infiltration).Â These are:
Initial Rally Point. An initial rally point is a place inside of friendly lines where a unit may assemble and reorganize if it makes enemy contact during the departure of friendly lines.Â It can also be used if needed prior to the force reaching the first en route rally point
En Route Rally Point. The leader designates en route rally points based on the terrain, vegetation, and visibility. Â There is no minimum or maximum number of en route rally points that you should plan for.Â They are determined by the factors of METT-TC.
Objective Rally Point (ORP). Â The objective rally point is a point out of sight, sound, and small-arms range of the objective area. It is normally located in the direction that the force plans to maneuver after completing its actions on the objective. The ORP is tentative until the objective is pinpointed. Â An ORP can be used before or after conducting operations on the objective.Â Actions at or from the ORP include:
Ââ€” Issuing any final orders.Â In essence, staying on plan or executing a contingency.
Reentry rally point. The reentry rally point is located out of sight, sound, and small-arms weapons range of the friendly unit through which the force will return. It should be located outside the final protective fires of the friendly unit and occupied as a security perimeter.
Near-and far-side rally points. These rally points are on the near and far side of danger areas. If the force makes contact while crossing the danger area and control is lost, Soldiers on either side move to the rally point nearest them. They establish security, reestablish the chain of command, determine their personnel and equipment status, and continue the mission.
Considerations that must be Addressed
Ââ€”Lost combat power.Â This could be because of many reasons.Â This include: enemy action, an accident, maintenance issues, navigation issues, etcâ€¦
PREPARING AN INFILTRATION
EXECUTING AN INFILTRATION
Debrief.Â Â The leader of the infiltration force should conduct a debrief with the entire force once they occupy the assembly area.Â This can also be called a â€śhot-washâ€ť or â€śafter action reviewâ€ť.Â Â The debrief enables the infiltration leader to gather information on the mission while memories are fresh and the information is still relevant and timely. Â This could include information on the enemy, terrain or even what things went well and what things did not go so well.Â The debrief will be of tremendous value for the infiltration leader as he prepares for the next action â€“ the patrol report.
Patrol Report.Â Â The patrol report is given by the infiltration leader to his immediate commander.Â Â The report can be verbal or written depending on the situation and the unit standard operating procedures.Â The commander may have the infiltration leader render his report to the intelligence officer or duty officer at the command post. Â The report will include various information that the commander wants.Â Below is an example of a patrol report.Â Again, they are unit and commander dependent.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
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