Infantry Drills

3-39: Assisted or Unassisted

Previous: 3-38: Planning a Withdrawal

3-39. Withdrawals may be assisted or unassisted. They may or may not take place under enemy pressure. These two factors combined produce four variations. (See figure 3-5.) The figure below depicts the mission graphic for a withdrawal and withdrawal under enemy pressure. The withdrawal plan considers which variation the force currently faces.

Figure 3-5. Types of withdrawals

3-40. Leaders prefer to conduct a withdrawal while not under enemy pressure and without assistance. Actions by the enemy, as well as additional coordination needed because of presence of an assisting unit, complicate the operation.

3-41. During an assisted withdrawal, the assisting force occupies positions to the rear of the withdrawing unit and prepares to accept control of the situation. Both forces closely coordinate the withdrawal. A withdrawing force can receive assistance from another force in the form of—

  • Additional security for the area through which the withdrawing force will pass.
  • Information concerning withdrawal routes (reconnaissance and maintenance).
  • Forces to secure choke points or key terrain along withdrawal routes.
  • Elements to assist in movement control, such as traffic control post.
  • Required maneuver, direct fire support and sustainment, which can involve conducting a counterattack to assist the withdrawing unit in disengaging from the enemy.

3-42. During an unassisted withdrawal, the withdrawing unit establishes routes and develops plans for the withdrawal. It establishes the security force as a rear guard while the main body withdraws. Sustainment and protection forces usually withdraw first, followed by combat forces. As the unit withdraws, the detachment left in contact (DLIC) disengages from the enemy and follows the main body to its final destination.

3-43. In an unassisted platoon withdrawal, the platoon leader may designate one squad to execute the DLIC mission for the platoon, or constitute the DLIC using elements from the remaining rifle squads with the platoon sergeant as the DLIC leader. Figure 3-6 shows an example of an unassisted withdrawal.

Figure 3-6. Platoon unassisted withdrawal

3-44. In a withdrawal under enemy pressure, all units withdraw simultaneously when available routes allow, using delaying tactics to fight their way to the rear. When simultaneous withdrawal of all forces is not practical, the leader decides the order of withdrawal. Several factors influence this decision:

  • Subsequent missions.
  • Availability of transportation assets and routes.
  • Disposition of friendly and enemy forces.
  • Level and nature of enemy pressure.
  • Degree of urgency associated with the withdrawal.

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