Infantry Drills

6-102: Actions on the Objective – Ambush

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6-102. An ambush is a surprise attack from a concealed position on a moving or
temporarily halted target. It can include an assault to close with and destroy the target or an assault by fire. An ambush need not seize or hold ground. The purpose of an ambush is to destroy or to harass enemy forces. The ambush combines the advantages of the defense with the advantages of the offense, allowing a smaller force with limited means the ability to destroy a much larger force. Ambushes are enemy-oriented. Terrain is held only long enough to conduct the ambush, and then the force withdraws. Ambushes range from simple to complex and synchronized; short duration of minutes to long duration of hours; and within hand grenade range, to maximum standoff. Ambushes employ direct fire systems as well as other destructive means, such as command-detonated mines and explosives, and indirect fires on the enemy force. The attack may include an assault to close with and destroy the enemy or may just be a harassing assault by fire. Ambushes may be conducted as independent operations or as part of a larger operation.

6-103. There are countless ways for leaders to develop an ambush. To assist the leader he clarifies what he wants, he develops the ambush based on its purpose, form, time, and formation.

6-104. The purpose of an ambush is either harassment or destruction. A harassing ambush is one in which attack is by fire only (meaning there is no assault element). A destruction ambush includes assault to close with and destroy the enemy.

6-105. The three forms of ambushes are point, area, and antiarmor. In a point ambush, Soldiers deploy to attack a single kill zone. In an area ambush, Soldiers deploy as two or more related point ambushes. These ambushes at separate sites are related by their purpose. (See figure 6-6.) A unit smaller than a platoon normally does not conduct an area ambush. Antiarmor ambushes focus on moving or temporarily halted enemy armored vehicles.

Figure 6-6. Point and area ambush

6-106. Based on the amount of time available to set an ambush, ambushes are hasty and deliberate. A hasty ambush is conducted based on an unanticipated opportunity. It is used when a patrol sees the enemy before the enemy sees it, and the patrol has time to act. The leader gives the prearranged signal to start the action and all Soldiers move to concealed firing positions, prepared to engage the enemy. Depending on the mission, the patrol may allow the enemy to pass if the enemy does not detect the patrol.

6-107. A deliberate ambush is conducted against a specific target at a location chosen based on intelligence. With a deliberate ambush, leaders plan and prepare based on detailed information allowing them to anticipate enemy actions and enemy locations. Detailed information includes: type and size of target, organization or formation, routes and direction of movement, time the force will reach or pass certain points on its route, and weapons and equipment carried.

Next: 6-108: Terminology

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