Infantry Drills

5-17: Open Column

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5-17. The open column is the most common tactical march technique because it offers the most security while still providing a reasonable degree of control. It normally is used during daylight but also may be used at night with infrared lights, blackout lights, or passive night-vision equipment. Using an open column roughly doubles the column’s length and thereby doubles the time it takes to clear a point when compared to a close column moving at the same speed.


5-18. Vehicle distance varies from 50 to 100 meters, and may be greater if required. The distance between dismounted Soldiers varies from two to five meters to allow for dispersion and space for marching comfort. Any distance that exceeds five meters between dismounted Soldiers increases the length of the column and hinders control. In an open column, vehicle density varies from 15 to 20 vehicles per kilometer. A single Infantry company, with intervals between its platoons, occupies roughly a kilometer of road or trail.

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