Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 7 – Movement

Chapter 7


Normally, you will spend more time moving than fighting. The fundamentals of movement discussed in this chapter provide techniques that all Soldiers must learn. Even seasoned troops should practice these techniques regularly, until they become second nature.


7-1. Your leaders base their selection of a particular movement technique by traveling, traveling overwatch, or bounding overwatch on the likelihood of enemy contact and the requirement for speed. However, your unit is ability to move depends on your movement skills and those of your fellow Soldiers. Use the following techniques to avoid being seen or heard:

  • Stop, look, listen, and smell (SLLS) before moving. Look for your next position before leaving a position.
  • Look for covered and concealed routes on which to move.
  • Change direction slightly from time-to-time when moving through tall grass.
  • Stop, look, and listen when birds or animals are alarmed (the enemy may be nearby).
  • Smell for odors such as petroleum, smoke, and food; they are additional signs of the enemy’s presence.
  • Cross roads and trails at places that have the most cover and concealment (large culverts, low spots, curves, or bridges).
  • Avoid steep slopes and places with loose dirt or stones.
  • Avoid cleared, open areas and tops of hills and ridges. Walking at the top of a hill or ridge will skyline you against the sun or moon, enabling the enemy to see you.


7-2. In addition to walking, you may move in one of three other methods known as individual movement techniques (IMT) – low crawl, high crawl, or rush.

Low Crawl

7-3. The low crawl gives you the lowest silhouette. Use it to cross places where the cover and/or concealment are very low and enemy fire or observation prevents you from getting up. Keep your body flat against the ground. With your firing hand, grasp your weapon sling at the upper sling swivel. Let the front hand guard rest on your forearm (keeping the muzzle off the ground), and let the weapon butt drag on the ground. To move, push your arms forward and pull your firing side leg forward. Then pull with your arms and push with your leg. Continue this throughout the move (Figure 7-1).

High Crawl

7-4. The high crawl lets you move faster than the low crawl and still gives you a low silhouette. Use this crawl when there is good cover and concealment but enemy fire prevents you from getting up. Keep your body off the ground and resting on your forearms and lower legs. Cradle your weapon in your arms and keep its muzzle off the ground. Keep your knees well behind your buttocks so your body will stay low. To move, alternately advance your right elbow and left knee, then your left elbow and right knee (Figure 7-1).

7-5. When you are ready to stop moving:

  • Plant both of your feet.
  • Drop to your knees (at the same time slide a hand to the butt of your rifle).
  • Fall forward, breaking the fall with the butt of the rifle.
  • Go to a prone firing position.

7-6. If you have been firing from one position for some time, the enemy may have spotted you and may be waiting for you to come up from behind cover. So, before rushing forward, roll or crawl a short distance from your position. By coming up from another spot, you may fool an enemy who is aiming at one spot and waiting for you to rise. When the route to your next position is through an open area, use the 3 to 5 second rush. When necessary, hit the ground, roll right or left, and then rush again.


7-7. The rush is the fastest way to move from one position to another (Figure 7-2). Each rush should last from 3 to 5 seconds. Rushes are kept short to prevent enemy machine gunners or riflemen from tracking you. However, do not stop and hit the ground in the open just, because 5 seconds have passed. Always try to hit the ground behind some cover. Before moving, pick out your next covered and concealed position and the best route to it. Make your move from the prone position as follows:

  • Slowly raise your head and pick your next position and the route to it.
  • Slowly lower your head.
  • Draw your arms into your body (keeping your elbows in).
  • Pull your right leg forward.
  • Raise your body by straightening your arms.
  • Get up quickly.
  • Rush to the next position.

Movement With Stealth

7-8. Moving with stealth means moving quietly, slowly, and carefully. This requires great patience. To move with stealth, use the following techniques:

  • Ensure your footing is sure and solid by keeping your body’s weight on the foot on the ground while stepping.
  • Raise the moving leg high to clear brush or grass.
  • Gently let the moving foot down toe first, with your body’s weight on the rear leg.
  • Lower the heel of the moving foot after the toe is in a solid place.
  • Shift your body’s weight and balance the forward foot before moving the rear foot.
  • Take short steps to help maintain balance.

7-9. At night, and when moving through dense vegetation, avoid making noise. Hold your weapon with one hand, and keep the other hand forward, feeling for obstructions. When going into a prone position, use the following techniques:

  • Hold your rifle with one hand and crouch slowly.
  • Feel for the ground with your free hand to make sure it is clear of mines, tripwires, and other hazards.
  • Lower your knees, one at a time, until your body’s weight is on both knees and your free hand.
  • Shift your weight to your free hand and opposite knee.
  • Raise your free leg up and back, and lower it gently to that side.
  • Move the other leg into position the same way.
  • Roll quietly into a prone position.

7-10. Use the following techniques when crawling:

  • Crawl on your hands and knees.
  • Hold your rifle in your firing hand.
  • Use your nonfiring hand to feel for and make clear spots for your hands and knees.
  • Move your hands and knees to those spots, and put them down softly.


7-11. Movement formations are used for control, security, and flexibility. These formations are the actual arrangements for you and your fellow Soldiers in relation to each other.


7-12. Every squad and Soldier has a standard position. You must be able to see your fire team leader. Fire team leaders must be able to see their squad leaders. Leaders control their units using arm-and-hand signals.


7-13. Formations also provide 360-degree security and allow the weight of their firepower to the flanks or front in anticipation of enemy contact.


7-14. Formations do not demand parade ground precision. Your leaders must retain the flexibility needed to vary their formations to the situation. The use of formations allows you to execute battle drills more quickly and gives the assurance that your leaders and buddy team members are in their expected positions and performing the right tasks. You will usually move as a member of a squad/team. Small teams, such as Infantry fire teams, normally move in a wedge formation. Each Soldier in the team has a set position in the wedge, determined by the type of weapon he carries. That position, however, may be changed by the team leader to meet the situation. The normal distance between Soldiers is 10 meters. When enemy contact is possible, the distance between teams should be about 50 meters. In very open terrain such as the desert, the interval may increase. The distance between individuals and teams is determined by how much command and control the squad leader can still exercise over his teams and the team members (Figure 7-3).

7-15. You may have to make a temporary change in the wedge formation when moving through close terrain. The Soldiers in the sides of the wedge close into a single file when moving in thick brush or through a narrow pass. After passing through such an area, they should spread out, forming the wedge again. You should not wait for orders to change the formation or the interval. You should change automatically and stay in visual contact with the other team members and the team leader. The team leader leads by setting the example. His standing order is, FOLLOW ME AND DO AS I DO. When he moves to the left, you should move to the left. When he gets down, you should get down. When visibility is limited, control during movement may become difficult. To aid control, for example, the helmet camouflage band has two, 1-inch horizontal strips of luminous tape sewn on it. Unit SOPs normally address the configuration of the luminous strips.


7-16. This section furnishes guidance for the immediate actions you should take when reacting to enemy indirect fire and flares. These Warrior Drills are actions every Soldier and small unit should train for proficiency.


7-17. If you come under indirect fire while moving, immediately seek cover and follow the commands and actions of your leader. He will tell you to run out of the impact area in a certain direction or will tell you to follow him (Figure 7-4). If you cannot see your leader, but can see other team members, follow them. If alone, or if you cannot see your leader or the other team members, run out of the area in a direction away from the incoming fire.

7-18. It is hard to move quickly on rough terrain, but the terrain may provide good cover. In such terrain, it may be best to take cover and wait for the fires to cease. After they stop, move out of the area quickly.


7-19. The enemy puts out ground flares as warning devices. He sets them off himself or attaches tripwires to them for you to trip on and set off. He usually puts the flares in places he can watch (Figure 7-5).

7-20. If you are caught in the light of a ground flare, flip up your NVD and move quickly out of the lighted area. The enemy will know where the ground flare is and will be ready to fire into that area. Move well away from the lighted area. While moving out of the area, look for other team members. Try to follow or join them to keep the team together.


7-21. The enemy uses aerial flares to light up vital areas. They can be set off like ground flares; fired from hand projectors, grenade launchers, mortars, and artillery; or dropped from aircraft. If you hear the firing of an aerial flare while you are moving, flip up your NVD and hit the ground (behind cover if possible) while the flare is rising and before it bursts and illuminates. If moving where it is easy to blend with the background, such as in a forest, and you are caught in the light of an aerial flare, freeze in place until the flare burns out.

7-22. If you are caught in the light of an aerial flare while moving in an open area, immediately crouch low or lie down. If you are crossing an obstacle, such as a barbed-wire fence or a wall, and are caught in the light of an aerial flare, crouch low and stay down until the flare burns out. The sudden light of a bursting flare may temporarily wash out your NVD, blinding both you and the enemy. When the enemy uses a flare to spot you, he spoils his own night vision. To protect your night vision, flip up your NVD and close one eye while the flare is burning. When the flare burns out, the eye that was closed will still have its night vision and you can place your NVD back into operation (Figure 7-6).


7-23. When a unit makes contact with the enemy, it normally starts firing at and moving toward the enemy. Sometimes the unit may move away from the enemy. This technique is called fire and movement – one element maneuvers (or moves) while another provides a base of fire. It is conducted to both close with and destroy the enemy, or to move away from the enemy to break contact with him.

7-24. The firing and moving takes place at the same time. There is a fire element and a movement element. These elements may be buddy teams, fire teams, or squads. Regardless of the size of the elements, the action is still fire and movement.

  • The fire element covers firing at and suppressing the enemy. This helps keep the enemy from firing back at the movement element.
  • The movement element moves either to close with the enemy or to reach a better position from which to fire at him. The movement element should not move until the fire element is firing.

7-25. Depending on the distance to the enemy position and on the available cover, the fire element and the movement element switch roles as needed to keep moving. Before the movement element moves beyond the supporting range of the fire element (the distance in which the weapons of the fire element can fire and support the movement element), it should take a position from which it can fire at the enemy. The movement element then becomes the next fire element and the fire element becomes the next movement element. If your team makes contact, your team leader should tell you to fire or to move. He should also tell you where to fire from, what to fire at, or where to move. When moving, use the low crawl, high crawl, or rush IMTs.


7-26. Soldiers can ride on the outside of armored vehicles; however, this is not done routinely. Therefore, as long as tanks and Infantry are moving in the same direction and contact is not likely, Soldiers may ride on tanks.


7-27. The following must be considered before Soldiers mount or ride on an armored vehicle.

  • When mounting an armored vehicle, Soldiers must always approach the vehicle from the front to get permission from the vehicle commander to mount. They then mount the side of the vehicle away from the coaxial machine gun and in view of the driver. Maintain three points of contact and only use fixed objects as foot and handholds. Do not use gun or optic system.
  • If the vehicle has a stabilization system, the squad leader obtains verification from the vehicle commander that it is OFF before the vehicle starts to move.
  • The Infantry must dismount as soon as possible when tanks come under fire or when targets appear that require the tank gunner to traverse the turret quickly to fire.
  • All Soldiers must be alert for obstacles that can cause the tank to turn suddenly and for trees that can knock riders off the tank.


7-28. The following information applies to specific vehicles.

  • The Ml tank is not designed to carry riders easily. Riders must NOT move to the rear deck. Engine operating temperatures make this area unsafe for riders (Figure 7-7).
  • One Infantry squad can ride on the turret. The Soldiers must mount in such a way that their legs cannot become entangled between the turret and the hull by an unexpected turret movement. Rope and equipment straps may be used as a field-expedient Infantry rail to provide secure handholds. Soldiers may use a snap link to assist in securing themselves to the turret.
  • Everyone must be to the rear of the smoke grenade launchers. This automatically keeps everyone clear of the coaxial machine gun and laser range finder.
  • The Infantry must always be prepared for sudden turret movement.
  • Leaders should caution Soldiers about sitting on the turret blowout panels, because 250 pounds of pressure will prevent the panels from working properly. If there is an explosion in the ammunition rack, these panels blow outward to lessen the blast effect in the crew compartment.
  • If enemy contact is made, the tank should stop in a covered and concealed position, and allow the Infantry time to dismount and move away from the tank. This action needs to be rehearsed before movement.
  • The Infantry should not ride with anything more than their battle gear. Excess gear should be transported elsewhere.


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