Infantry Drills

6-148: Conducting a Point Ambush

Previous: 6-141: Conducting An Antiarmor Ambush

6-148. In a point ambush, Soldiers deploy to attack an enemy in a single kill zone. The platoon leader is the leader of the assault element. The platoon sergeant or assistant patrol leader probably will locate with the platoon leader in the assault element.

6-149. The security or surveillance teams should be positioned first. The support element should then be emplaced before the assault element moves forward. The support element must overwatch the movement of the assault element into position.

6-150. The platoon leader must check each Soldier once he emplaces. The platoon leader signals the surveillance team to rejoin the assault element if it is positioned away from the assault location. Actions of the assault element, support element, and security element are shown in table 6-1.

Table 6-1. Actions by ambush elements

6-151. The platoon leader instructs the security element (or teams) to notify him of the enemy’s approach into the kill zone using the SALUTE reporting format. The security element also must keep the platoon leader informed if additional enemy forces are following the lead enemy force. This will allow the platoon leader to know if the enemy force meets the engagement criteria directed by the company commander. The platoon leader must be prepared to give free passage to enemy forces too large or do not meet the engagement criteria. He must report to the company commander or CoIST enemy forces passing through the ambush unengaged.

6-152. The platoon leader initiates the ambush with the greatest casualty-producing weapon, typically a command-detonated Claymore. He also must plan a back-up method, typically a medium machine gun, to initiate the ambush should the primary means fail. All Soldiers in the ambush must know the primary and back-up methods. The platoon should rehearse with both methods to avoid confusion and loss of surprise during execution of the ambush.

6-153. The platoon leader must include a plan for engaging the enemy during limited visibility. Based on the company commander’s guidance, the platoon leader should consider the use and mix of tracers and employment of illumination, night vision devices, and thermal weapon sights. For example, if Javelins are not used during the ambush, the platoon leader still may employ the CLU with its thermal sights in the security or support element to observe enemy forces.

6-154. The platoon leader also may include the employment of indirect fire support in his plan. Based upon the company commander’s guidance, the platoon leader may employ indirect fires to cover flanks of the kill zone. This isolates an enemy force or assists the platoon’s disengagement if the ambush is compromised or the platoon departs the ambush site under pressure.

6-155. The platoon leader has a good plan (day and night) that signals the advance of the assault element into the kill zone to begin its search and collection activities. He should take into consideration the existing environmental factors. For example, obscurants may not be visible to the support element because of limited visibility or the lay of the terrain. Soldiers must know and practice relaying the signal during rehearsals to avoid the potential of fratricide.

6-156. The assault element must be prepared to move across the kill zone using
individual movement techniques if there is return fire once they begin to search. Otherwise, the assault element moves across by bounding fire teams.

6-157. The assault element collects and secures all EPWs and moves them out of the kill zone to an established location before searching dead enemy bodies. The EPW collection point should provide cover and should not be easily found by enemy forces following the ambush. The friendly assault element searches from the far side of the kill zone to the near side.

6-158. Once the bodies have been thoroughly searched, search teams continue in this manner until all enemy personnel in and near the kill zone have been searched. Enemy bodies should be marked once searched; for example, folded arms over the chest and legs crossed to ensure thoroughness and speed and to avoid duplication of effort.

6-159. The platoon identifies and collects equipment to be carried back and prepares it for transport. Enemy weapon chambers are cleared and put on safe. The platoon also identifies and collects at a central point the enemy equipment to be destroyed. The demolition team prepares the fuse and awaits the signal to initiate. This is normally the last action performed before departing the ambush site. The flank security element returns to the ORP after the demolition team completes its task.

6-160. The flank security teams also may emplace antiarmor mines after the ambush has been initiated if the enemy is known to have armored vehicles which can quickly reinforce the ambushed enemy force. If a flank security team makes enemy contact, it fights as long as possible without becoming decisively engaged. It uses prearranged signals to inform the platoon leader it is breaking contact. The platoon leader may direct a portion of the support element to assist the security element in breaking contact.

6-161. The platoon leader must plan the withdrawal of the platoon from the ambush site. The planning process should include the following:

  • Elements normally are withdrawn in the reverse order they established their positions.
  • Elements may return to the release point, then to the ORP, depending on the distance between the elements.
  • The security element at the ORP must be alert to assist the platoon’s return. It maintains security of the ORP while the remainder of the platoon prepares to depart.

6-162. Actions back at the ORP include, but are not limited to, accounting for personnel and equipment, stowing captured equipment, and first aid (as necessary). Upon return personnel within the patrol are reorganized as required and ammunition and equipment redistributed for movement out of the ORP.

Next: 6-163: Security Patrols

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