Infantry Drills

3-29: Delay

Previous: 3-26: Retrograde

3-29. Delays allow units to trade space for time, avoiding decisive engagement and safeguard its forces. Ability of a force to trade space for time requires depth within the area of operation assigned to the delaying force. The amount of depth required depends on several factors, including the—

  • Amount of time to be gained.
  • Relative combat power of friendly and enemy forces.
  • Relative mobility of forces.
  • Nature of terrain.
  • Ability to shape areas of operations with obstacles and fires.
  • Degree of acceptable risk.

3-30. Delays succeed by forcing the enemy to concentrate forces to fight through a series of defensive positions. Delays must offer a continued threat of serious opposition, forcing the enemy to repeatedly deploy and maneuver. Delaying forces displace to subsequent positions before the enemy is able to concentrate sufficient resources to decisively engage and defeat delaying forces in current positions. The length of time a force can remain in position without facing danger of becoming decisively engaged is primarily a function of relative combat power, METT-TC and weather. Delays gain time to—

  • Allow friendly forces to establish a defense.
  • Cover withdrawing forces.
  • Protect friendly force’s flanks.
  • Allow friendly forces to counterattack.

Next: 3-31: Parameters of the Delay

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