Infantry Drills

BATTLE DRILL 3: Break Contact (07-3-D9505)

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CONDITIONS: The unit is moving as part of a larger force, conducting a movement to contact or an attack. Following direct fire contact with the enemy, the unit leader decides to break contact.

CUE: This drill begins when the unit leader gives the command to break contact.

STANDARDS: The unit breaks contact using fire and movement, and continues to move until the enemy cannot observe or place fire on them. The unit leader reports the contact to higher headquarters.


  • The unit leader directs an element to suppress the enemy.
  • The unit leader directs the vehicles to support the disengagement of the dismounted element. (If the vehicles cannot support the disengagement of the dismounted element, the platoon leader directs one squad or fire team to suppress by fire to support the disengagement of the remainder of the element.)
  • The unit leader orders a distance and direction, terrain feature, or last rally point of the movement of the element in contact.
  • The unit leader employs indirect fires to suppress enemy position(s). (See figure J-3.)
Figure J-3. Employing indirect fires to suppress enemy
  • The bounding element moves to occupy the overwatch position, employs smoke (M203, grenade launchers, indirect fires, and other options) to screen movement. If necessary, employs fragmentation and concussion grenades to facilitate breaking contact.
  • The base-of-fire element continues to suppress the enemy.
  • The moving element occupies their overwatch position and engages enemy position(s). (See figure J-4, page J-12.)
Figure J-4. Moving element occupies overwatch and engages enemy
  • The unit leader directs the base-of-fire element to move to its next covered and concealed position. Based on the terrain, and volume and accuracy of the enemy’s fire, the moving element may need to use fire and movement techniques. (See figure J-5.)
Figure J-5. Movement and fire technique
  • The unit continues to bound away from the enemy until:
    • It breaks contact (the unit must continue to suppress the enemy as it breaks contact).
    • It passes through a higher-level support-by-fire position.
    • Its elements are in the assigned positions to conduct the next mission.

Note. For a mounted element, the platoon leader directs the vehicles to move to a rally point and linkup with the dismounted element.

  • The leader should consider changing the unit’s direction of movement once contact is broken. This reduces the ability of the enemy to place effective indirect fire on the unit.
  • Elements and Soldiers that become disrupted stay together and move to the last designated rally point.
  • Unit leaders account for Soldiers, reports the situation to higher leadership, reorganize as necessary, and continue the mission.

Next: BATTLE DRILL 4: React to Ambush (Near) (07-3-D9502)

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