Infantry Drills

3-21: Forward Defense

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3-21. The intent of a forward defense is to prevent enemy penetration of the defense. (See figure 3-2, page 3-6.) Due to lack of depth, a forward defense is least preferred. The Infantry platoon deploys the majority of its combat power into forward defensive positions near the forward edge of the battle area. While the Infantry company may lack depth, the platoon and squads must build depth into the defense at their levels. The leader fights to retain the forward position, and may conduct counterattacks against enemy penetrations, or to destroy enemy forces in forward engagement area. Often, counterattacks are planned forward of the forward edge of the battle area to defeat the enemy.

3-22. The Infantry platoon uses a forward defense when—

  • Terrain forward in the areas of operations favors the defense.
  • Strong existing natural or man-made obstacles, such as river or a rail lines, are located forward in areas of operations.
  • The assigned area of operations lacks depth due to location of the area or facility to be protected.
  • Cover and concealment in rear portions of the areas of operations is limited.
  • Directed by higher headquarters to retain or initially control forward terrain.
Figure 3-2. Platoon forward defense

Next: 3-23: Mobile Defense

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