Basic Infantry Security Postures
The Column File
The column formation is the most used tactical formation in an infantryman’s playbook to move through thicker or more difficult terrain. The column is good because fire can be easily returned to either flank and each individual has his own designated sector of fire in case of contact. Contrary to popular believe the column formation is difficult to ambush because it permits the use of every single weapon system on either flank to be deployed quickly. Its main weak areas are to front and rear because troops cannot adequately place fire to the front or back without shooting into their own troops.
The wedge is the compromise between the line and column formations. The wedge scores high in terms of the amount of firepower it can place to the front and the protection it can provide to its flanks. This formation is used when terrain is more open and attack to the front is believed to be the most likely ambush point from the enemy. There is a communication disadvantage in using this formation over the column formation because troops simply cannot look inward and outward to maintain overall protection and good communication at the same time. Wedges can also be done with several assault teams following each other in a column. Each successive team with an echelon left or right priority in case of an attack from opposing forces.
This formation is a variation on the wedge that enables the squad to provide more protection to the rear. In this formation the squad leader should be placed in the middle so that he can direct fire and movements with the greatest ease. The diamond is easier to maneuver, faster, can change directions with greater ease, and has greater 360 degrees security. But what it gains in these areas it leaves greater weakness to the front and flanks of the formation.
Crossing Danger Areas
Linear Areas- roads, high line cuts, fences, walls or alley’s
Patch to the Road Method- This method is used to cross linear danger areas and when the point man has reached one of these areas the first thing he should do is signal the squad leader to come analyze the danger area. After an initial assessment is completed and a decision is made to cross then two men post security in both directions while the rest of the team stack up in a tight column. When the men are properly stacked and ready the team leader will give the go ahead to cross and the first man will quickly move across the danger area and setup perimeter defense on the other side. Each successive person that crosses will then begin supplementing 360 degrees security on the other side. This manuever can be done with several team members at once or one at a time depending on the situation with potential enemy contact. Once all team members are across then the squad will form into a security posture of the team leaders choosing.
Anytime a unit has to stop movement to assess for longer periods of time then security must be maintained and that can be done with several methods. The two main types of security halt are in the column formation or the wagon wheel method. In the column each successive member takes alternating fire sectors maintaining security to both flanks. In a wagon wheel the unit forms a circular wheel with the patrol leader in the center. Each troop has a designated sector of fire that he maintains.
Watch the video below to get an idea of what types of formations small units can use to increase their combat effectiveness!