Infantry Fireteam Leader's Guide

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Infantry Fireteam Leader's Guide

Post  Michael Garber on Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:38 pm

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS


INFANTRY FIRETEAM LEADER'S GUIDE

Introduction

It is important to understand the structure of the basic infantry company in order to understand its role on the battlefield as well as to understand how each echelon of the unit should function and carry out its mission. It is believed that through this understanding that each team leader will better adapt to his or her role over the echelon they've been appointed to. The outline of this guide will break down this information going from the bottom (the fireteam) to the top (the company itself) in order to ensure that all leaders, young and old, know their role and understand it completely.

Definition of the Marine Corps Fireteam

The Marine Corps Fireteam is composed of two or more Marine's and their designated weapons, and can be of any echelon from the Security Team all the way to the Infantry Company.

Mission of the Marine Corps Fireteam


The Mission of the Marine Corps Fireteam is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy with fire and maneuver tactics while integrating all supporting fires, or to repel the enemy assault with fire and maneuver tactics and close combat.

The Infantry Fireteam

The United States Marine Corps fireteam is led by a Corporal or Senior Lance Corporal and consists of four men; the Fireteam Leader, the S.A.W. Operator, the Assistant S.A.W. Operator and the basic rifleman. The fireteam is primarily organized around the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Upon receiving fire, the fireteam can organize in a methodical way to engage the enemy with fireteam "rushes."

Fireteam rushes are movement by one part of the team during cover by fire by the other part of the team. Generally, first the Rifleman and Team Leader will move ahead, being covered by the S.A.W. Operator and Assistant S.A.W. Operator, then the S.A.W. Operator and Assistant S.A.W. Operator will move up to the Rifleman and Team Leader, being covered by the Rifleman and Team Leader. The process is repeated until no further progress is possible without serious risk to the entire fireteam. This theoretically increases the safety of the team members during movement.

When finally upon an objective, an infantry fireteam may conduct what is called a "hasty 180", where the S.A.W. Operator covers the 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock (12 o'clock being the most likely avenue of enemy approach), with the Rifleman and Team Leader covering 9 to 11 and 1 to 3 respectively. The Assistant S.A.W. Operator is next to the S.A.W. Operator to complement his fire with covering fire and to assign targets for the M249. Once a frontal enemy counterattack is deemed unlikely, the fireteam will assume a "consolidated 360" to ensure flanks of the fireteam are protected.

The position of the Marines in the fireteam is sometimes called RTFA (Ready - Team - Fire - Assist) because of one of the fireteam formations that are possible.

Basic Fireteam Organization

The most basic organization of an infantry fireteam is divided into two subsections--the Security Team and the Rifle Team. The Rifle Team consists of the Team Leader and Rifleman and are generally tasked with breaching into and clearing out buildings during combat patrols and engagements. The Security Team, as the name suggests, is tasked with providing security for the Rifle Team as they perform their objectives and consists of the S.A.W. Operator and Assistant S.A.W. Operator. This has proven to be an effective method of organization and has been used for more than a decade.

Upon clearance of a structure, the Security Team will usually regroup with the Rifle Team as to bring the fireteam to full strength before movement or structure defense. The Team Leader may deviate from this organization as required.

Breakdown of Fireteam Positions

Team Leader - a Marine with the rank of Corporal or "Senior" Lance Corporal, this individual is tasked with leading the infantry fireteam by completing all objectives handed down by the higher echelons of command. He is responsible for the safety and well-being of his Marines and must carefully ensure that his Marines perform at their peak while in the field. He is generally seen carrying an M16A4 service rifle or the M4A1. M203s are optional.

S.A.W. Operator - the automatic rifleman in the fireteam, the S.A.W. Operator is tasked with carrying the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and providing covering and supporting fires for the rest of the fireteam. His position becomes crucial during fireteam movements as he is tasked with keeping a steady, high rate of fire on the enemy to keep them pinned while the other elements of the fireteam maneuver to a different location.

Assistant S.A.W. Operator - The Assistant S.A.W. Operator is a Marine that carries an M16A4 or M4A1. Their job is similar to the rifleman in that they both carried assault rifles; but, the Assistant S.A.W. Operator carries the ammunition for the S.A.W. Operator is acts as a part of the Security Team..

Rifleman - The Rifleman is a Marine that carries either an M16A4 or M4A1. Their job is solely to provide short and sustained fire on the enemy in the support of fireteam movement and maneuvers and is essential in the execution of room clearing and breaching. He is effective at neutralizing targets from close to medium range and sometimes can hit long range targets, although it is never something he is proficient at.

Combat Organization of a Fireteam

Assault Formation - The Assault formation is designed for frontal engagement in any battle, with the Assistant S.A.W. Operator and S.A.W. Operator in front ready to engage fortified or armored targets as well as to make hostile entry in any urban situation. The idea of the assault formation is to act as a spearhead of the fireteam/squad/platoon, ready to engage any enemy with extreme violence and prejudice. Because of this, the assault formation will always have the heaviest weapons in front and have the best integrated fire support available.

- Number One Man (Assist. S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Two Man (S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Three Man (Team Leader)
- Number Four Man (Rifleman)

Assault Formation (Breach Composition) - An infantry fireteam set up for imminent contact with a fortified urban target, its mission is to make hostile entry and engage an unknown and potentially well armed enemy. In this case the Assistant S.A.W. Operator will be considered the demolitionist. He will be armed with small explosives such as breaching charges and his mission will be to breach the initial entry point (usually an entrance, the second to frag/flash and clear the room of entry.

Once inside, the Security Team will set up either inside the first cleared room (if it is the only entry point) or outside to halt enemy reinforcement to the hostiles inside the structure. The Rifleman Team (Rifleman and Team Leader) will continue to advance and clear out every room in the building. Once the structure is clear, it is generally suggested that the Team Leader order the fireteam to regroup as to reconsolidate and prepare for the next leg of their mission.

Contact Phase: Phase of fireteam movement to the site of expected breach.

- Number One Man (Assist. S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Two Man (Team Leader)
- Number Three Man (S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Four Man (Rifleman)

Breach Phase: Phase of fireteam movement to make dynamic and hostile entry to begin clearing of target location.

- Number One Man (Team Leader)
- Number Two Man (Assist. S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Three Man (S.A.W. Operator)
- Number Four Man (Rifleman)

Fireteam/Squad Formations

Formations are arrangements of elements and soldiers in relation to each other. Squads/fireteams use formations for control and security. Leaders choose formations based on their analysis of the different factors of the mission. Leaders are up front in formations. This allows the leader to lead by example, set the pace, and direct the action. All members of a fireteam should be able to see their fire team leader at all times.

Column Formation

Column formations are also known as file formations because you are in a single file line behind the fire team leader. Column formations are usually used when the terrain is dense or full of vegetation. The column is the easiest to control because you simply follow the man in front of you, who is following the fire team leader. But the downside is that there is less flexibility in a column formation. It takes longer to get your men adjusted to a certain situation. The column formation is the least secure; you have fire capabilities on your left and right flanks but hardly any in the front or rear.

The best time to use a column formation is when you are pretty sure the area you are in is secured (in front of enemy lines) and you need to get from point A to point B quickly.


Staggered Column Formation

Staggered column is just a "sloppy" column formation. Every other man is slightly offset to the left or right and able to cover and see just a little bit more than in a column formation. If you're in a desert or open area, then the staggered column could be more useful than the strait and narrow column formation.


Line Formation

A line formation is when all your men come up shoulder-to-shoulder with you. You still can keep a set interval but for explanation purposes, we will say shoulder-to-shoulder. This formation is best for heavy forward firepower, like when assaulting a forward objective. But this formation leaves your flanks completely open, and if you don’t control the battlefield you can easily be outflanked and eventually destroyed. It’s always best to have other fire teams or squads on your left and right to control the flanks, or move up to your forward target's flank while your line formation of heavy fire keeps the enemy suppressed.


Wedge Formation

The wedge is the basic and most popular fire team and / or squad formation. The interval between team members is usually ten meters. The wedge expands and contracts, depending on the terrain. When rough terrain, poor visibility, or other factors make controlling the fire team difficult the normal interval is reduced. The sides of the wedge can collapse into a column / file formation for very difficult terrain, and then re-open as needed. The wedge formation is very flexible.

The wedge formation should be used the most, especially in an enemy controlled zone (behind enemy lines). The wedge formation provides excellent front and flank coverage, but no back coverage.


Vee Formation

The Vee formation is a reverse wedge formation. The fire team and / or squad form a V with the fire team leader or squad leader at the point. This formation gives a lot of firepower on a known enemy, almost surrounding the enemy. But it is very hard to control and adjust. It is not recommended unless you have an enemy pinned and want to move in to squeeze the enemy to death.


Echelon Formation

The echelon formation is used to cross open areas where you know the enemy is on one side or the other of your flank. It gives you good firepower forward and to either the left or right of your direction of movement. The downside side means that your opposite flank is totally open and in danger. Moving with an enemy on one or both of your flanks is always dangerous and should be avoided.

Closing Information

The Marine Corps Fireteam is the smallest section of a infantry unit--and one of the most essential. The Marines at the fireteam level perform and complete most of the tasks that are required to unit accomplishment. The Team Leader of the Marine fireteam must be a skilled and able leader and be able to accept the challenges of leading and protecting three other men on his team.
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Michael Garber
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