U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Organization

Section I: Operational Overview

1-2: Operational Environment

1-3: Operational Variables

1-7: Threat

1-10: Mission Variables

1-11: Unified Land Operations

1-13: Foundations of Unified Land Operations

1-16: Operations Structure

1-17: Operations Process

1-19: Elements of Combat Power

1-22: Operational Framework

1-29: Law of Land Warfare

Section II – Role of the Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

1-35: Organization

1-38: Infantry Squad Fire Team

1-40: Infantry Squad

1-42: Infantry Weapons Squad

1-43: Medium Machine Gun Team

1-44: Close Combat Missile Team

1-45: Duties and Responsibilities

1-46: Platoon Leader

1-48: Platoon Sergeant

1-49: Weapons Squad Leader

1-51: Squad Leader

1-53: Team Leader

1-57: Grenadier

1-58: Automatic Rifleman

1-59: Rifleman

1-60: Platoon Radiotelephone Operator

1-61: Squad-Designated Marksman

1-64: Machine Gunner

1-65: Assistant Machine Gunner

1-66: Combat Lifesaver

1-68: Habitual Attachments

1-69: Forward Observer

1-70: Platoon Medic

1-73: Capabilities
1-74: Limitations
1-75: Close Combat
1-77: Employment Considerations

Section III – Role of the Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad

1-81: Organization

1-82: Mounted Element

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Bradley Fighting Vehicle



Close Combat

Employment Consideration

Section IV – Role of the Stryker Infantry Platoon and Squad




Infantry Carrier Vehicle

Employment Considerations

Close Combat

Section V – Company Organizations

Infantry Rifle Company

Mechanized Infantry and Armor Companies

SBCT Infantry Rifle Company

Chapter 2: Offense

Section I – Conduct of the Offense

Characteristics of the Offense

Offensive Tasks

Forms of Maneuver

Common Offensive Control Measures

Sequence of the Offense

Section II – Common Offensive Planning Considerations

Mission Command

Tactical Mission Tasks

Movement and Maneuver





Additional Planning Considerations

Section III – Combat Formations

Primary Formations

Fire Team Formations

Squad Formations

Platoon Formations

Section IV – Movement Techniques

Squad Movement Techniques

Platoon Movement Techniques

Mounted Movement Techniques


Section V – Actions on Contact

Forms of Contact

Five Steps of Actions on Contact

Section VI – Movement to Contact

Conduct of a Movement to Contact

Organization of Forces

Control Measures

Order of Events





Search and Attack

Cordon and Search

Section VII – Attack

Deliberate and Hasty Operations

Organization of Forces

Control Measures for an Attack

Order of Events





Special Purpose Attacks

Section VIII – Operation During Limited Visibility

Section IX – Battlefield Obscuration

Planning Considerations

Employment Considerations

Section X – Transitions



Continuing Operations

Transition to the Defense

Transition to Stability

Chapter 3: Defense

Section I – Basics of the Defense

Characteristics of the Defense

Defensive Tasks

Order of Events

Common Defensive Control Measures

Sequence of the Defense

Priority of Work



Remount Point

Section II – Common Defensive Planning Considerations

Mission Command

Movement and Maneuver





Additional Planning Considerations

Section III – Forms of the Defense

Defense of a Linear Obstacle

Perimeter Defense

Reverse-Slope Defense

Section IV – Fighting Positions



Section V – Engagement Area Development

Identify Likely Enemy Avenues of Approach

Determine the Enemy Scheme of Maneuver

Determine Where to Kill the Enemy

Plan and Integrate Obstacles

Emplace Weapon Systems

Plan and Integrate Indirect Fires


Section VI – Transitions



Continuing Operations

Transition to the Offense

Transition to Stability

Chapter 4: Stability

Section I – Overview of Stability

Stability Framework

Stability Tasks

Section II – Planning Considerations

Mission Command

Movement and Maneuver





Section III – Unified Action Partners

Civil Affairs

Human Terrain Teams

Public Affairs

Military Information Support Operations

Host Nation Partners

Non Governmental Organizations

Section IV – Tactical Actions and Tasks in Support of Stability

Area Security

Conduct Searches

Task the Platoon Can Support for Other Forces

Tasks the Platoon Monitors

Section V – Transitions

Transition to the Offense

Transition to the Defense

Transfer of Authority

Transition to Civilian/Host-Nation Security Force Control

Chapter 5: Movement

Section I – Troop Movement

Methods of Troop Movement

Administrative Movement

Tactical Road Marches

Approach March

Section II – Route Selection and Navigation

Navigation Aids

Route Planning

Types of Navigation

Route Types

Develop a Leg

Execute the Route

Section III – Actions at Danger Areas

Crossing Danger Areas

Crossing of Linear Danger Areas (Platoon)

Actions at Danger Areas (Mounted)

Enemy Contact at Danger Areas

Section IV – Relief in Place



Conducting the Relief

Section V – Passage of Lines

Planning Considerations

Forward Passage of Lines

Rearward Passage of Lines

Section VI – Linkup

Control Measures


Phases of the Linkup

Section VII – Movement with Combat Vehicles

Combat Vehicles and Infantry Squad Formations

Combat Vehicles and Infantry Platoon Formations

Mounted Movement


Section VIII – Security



Camouflage, Noise and Light Discipline

Security Halts

Section IX – Other Movement Situations

Air Movement

Movement by Water

Movement During Limited Visibility

Chapter 6: Patrols and Patrolling

Section I – Overview

Purpose of Patrolling

Organization of Patrols

Initial Planning and Coordination for Patrols

Leader’s Reconnaissance

Completion of the Patrol Plan

Departure From Friendly Lines or Fixed Base

Patrol Base Activities

Rally Points

Mounted Patrols

Section II – Patrol Preparations

Orders, Briefings and Rehearsals


Pre and Post Departure Preparation Activities

Section III – Combat Patrols



Security Patrol

Combat Patrol Planning

Actions on the Objective – Raid

Actions on the Objective – Ambush

Security Patrols

Section IV – Reconnaissance Patrols

Area Reconnaissance Patrol

Route Reconnaissance Patrol

Zone Reconnaissance Patrol

Control Measures

Fundamentals of Reconnaissance

Actions on the Reconnaissance Objective

Area Reconnaissance Actions at Objective

Route Reconnaissance Execution

Zone Reconnaissance Methods

Section V – Post Patrol Activities

Accounting for Weapons and Equipment


Patrol Report

Chapter 7: Sustainment

Section I – Responsibilities

Platoon Leader

Platoon Sergeant

Squad Leader

Combat Lifesaver

Section II – Soldier, Combat, and Unit Basic Loads

Soldier Loads

Combat Loads

Planning Consideration

Section III – Functions of Sustainment

Development of the Platoon Sustainment Plan

Supply and Field Services


Human Resources

Appendix A: Planning

Appendix B: Direct Fire Planning and Control

Appendix C: Indirect Fire Support Planning

Appendix D: Security

Appendix E: Vehicle Employment Considerations

Appendix F: Machine Gun Employment

Appendix G: Shoulder-Launched Munitions and Close Combat Missile Systems

Appendix H: Obstacle Reduction and Employment

Appendix I: CBRN Operations

Appendix J: Selected Battle Drills / Screw Drills

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