Infantry Drills

Section VIII: Operation During Limited Visibility

Previous: 2-332: Electronic Warfare

2-336. Effective use of advanced optical sights and equipment during limited visibility attacks enhances the ability of squads and platoons to achieve surprise, hit targets, and cause panic in a lesser-equipped enemy. Advanced optics and equipment allow the Infantry Soldier to see farther and with greater clarity. They provide an advantage over the enemy. Infantry platoons and squads have—

  • Night vision equipment mounted on the helmet of each Soldier.
  • Weapon-mounted and handheld devices to identify and designate targets.
  • Vision devices and thermal imagers on the BFV for both the driver and the vehicle commander manning the turret.

2-337. Night vision devices provide good visibility in all but pitch-black conditions but do somewhat limit the Soldier’s field of view. Since they do not transmit a light source, the enemy detection devices cannot detect them.

2-338. The BFV is as effective at night as during the day. It can be driven and its weapon systems can be fired during limited visibility. The driver has an enhanced vision capability, and the vehicle commander has both an enhanced vision and thermal imaging capability. The BFV is capable of accurately identifying its current location with the onboard GPS. The common operational picture allows leaders to locate their subordinate units at all times.

2-339. Infantry leaders and Soldiers have an increased ability to designate and control fires during limited visibility. There are three types of advanced optics and equipment for use in fire control:

  • Target designators. Leaders can designate targets with greater precision using infrared laser pointers that place an infrared light to designate targets and sectors of fire and to concentrate fire. The leader lazes a target on which he directs his Soldiers to place their fires. The Soldiers then use their weapon’s aiming lights to engage the target.
  • Aiming lights. Soldiers with aiming lights have greater accuracy of fires during limited visibility. Each Soldier in the Infantry platoon is equipped with an aiming light for his individual weapon. Aiming lights work with the individual Soldier’s helmet-mounted night vision goggles. It puts an infrared light on the target at the point of aim.
  • Target illuminators. Leaders can designate larger targets using target illuminators. Target illuminators are essentially infrared light sources that light the target, making it easier to acquire effectively. Leaders and Soldiers use the infrared devices to identify enemy or friendly personnel and then engage targets using their aiming lights.

2-340. Illuminating rounds fired to burn on the ground can mark objectives. This helps the platoon orient on the objective, but may adversely affect night vision devices.

2-341. Leaders plan but may not use illumination during limited visibility attacks.
Battalion commanders normally control conventional illumination, but may authorize the company team commander to do so. If the commander decides to use conventional illumination, he should not call for it until the assault is initiated or the attack is detected. It should be placed on several locations over a wide area to confuse the enemy as to the exact place of the attack. It should be placed beyond the objective to help assaulting Soldiers see and fire at withdrawing or counterattacking enemy Soldiers.

2-342. The platoon leader, squad leaders, and vehicle commanders must develop TACSOPs and sound COAs to synchronize the employment of infrared illumination devices, target designators, and aiming lights during their assault on the objective. These include using luminous tape or chemical lights to mark personnel and using weapons control restrictions.

2-343. The platoon leader may use the following techniques to increase control during the assault:

  • Use no flares, grenades, or smoke on the objective.
  • Use only certain personnel with night vision devices to engage targets on the objective.
  • Use a magnetic azimuth for maintaining direction.
  • Use mortar or artillery rounds to orient attacking units.
  • Use a base squad or fire team to pace and guide others.
  • Reduce intervals between Soldiers and squads.

2-344. Like a daylight attack, indirect and direct fires are planned for a limited visibility attack, but are not executed unless the platoon is detected or is ready to assault. Some weapons may fire before the attack and maintain a pattern to deceive the enemy or to help cover noise made by the platoon’s movement. This is not done if it will disclose the attack.

2-345. Smoke further reduces the enemy’s visibility, particularly if he has night vision devices. The forward observer fires smoke rounds close to or on enemy positions so it does not restrict friendly movement or hinder the reduction of obstacles. Employing smoke on the objective during the assault may make it hard for assaulting Soldiers to find enemy fighting positions. If enough thermal sights are available, smoke on the objective may provide a decisive advantage for a well-trained platoon.

Note. If the enemy is equipped with night vision devices, leaders must evaluate the risk of using each technique and ensure the mission is not compromised by the enemy’s ability to detect infrared light sources.

Next: Section IX: Battlefield Obscuration

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