Infantry Drills

3-32: Alternate or Successive Positions

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3-32. Leaders normally assign subordinate units contiguous area of operation that are deeper than they are wide. Leaders use obstacles, fires, and movement throughout the depth of assigned area of operation. If the leader plans the delay to only last a short time or the area of operation’s depth is limited, delaying units may be forced to fight from a single set of positions. If the leader expects the delay to last for longer periods, or sufficient depth is available, delaying units may delay from either alternate or successive positions.

3-33. In both techniques, delaying forces normally reconnoiter subsequent positions before occupying them if possible, and post guides on one or two subsequent positions. Additionally, in executing both techniques, it is critical the delaying force maintains contact with the enemy between delay positions. Advantages and disadvantages of the two techniques are summarized in table 3-1.

Table 3-1. Advantages and disadvantages of delay techniques

3-34. The alternate position technique normally is preferred when adequate forces are available and areas of operation have sufficient depth. Delays from alternate positions, two or more units in a single area of operation occupy delaying positions in-depth. (See figure 3-3, page 3-10.) As the first unit engages the enemy, the second occupies the next position in-depth and prepares to assume responsibility for the operation. The first force disengages and passes around or through the second force. It then moves to the next position and prepares to re-engage the enemy while the second force takes up the fight.

Figure 3-3. Delay from alternate positions

3-35. Delays from subsequent positions are used when assigned area of operation are so wide available forces cannot occupy more than a single tier of positions. (See figure 3-4.) Delays from subsequent positions must ensure all delaying units are committed to each of the series of battle positions or across the area of operation on the same phase line. Most of the delaying force is located well forward. Mission dictates the delay from one battle position or phase line to the next. Delaying unit movement is staggered so not all forces are moving at the same time.

Figure 3-4. Delay from subsequent positions

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