Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 8-3 – Fighting Positions

How do you find and use a fighting position properly? You have to know this: whether you are attacking or defending, your success depends on your ability to place accurate fire on the enemy–with the least exposure to return fire (Figure 8-12).

  • Make maximum use of available cover and concealment.
  • Avoid firing over cover; when possible, fire around it.
  • Avoid silhouetting against light-colored buildings, the skyline, and so on.
  • Carefully select a new fighting position before leaving an old one.
  • Avoid setting a pattern. Fire from both barricaded and non-barricaded windows.
  • Keep exposure time to a minimum.
  • Begin improving your hasty position immediately after occupation.
  • Use construction material that is readily available in an urban area.
  • Remember: positions that provide cover at ground level may not provide cover on higher floors.

Figure 8-12. Some considerations for selecting and occupying individual fighting positions


8-22. A hasty fighting position is normally occupied in the attack or early stages of defense. It is a position from which you can place fire upon the enemy while using available cover for protection from return fire. You may occupy it voluntarily or be forced to occupy it due to enemy fire. In either case, the position lacks preparation before occupation. Some of the more common hasty fighting positions in an urban area are corners of buildings, behind walls, windows, unprepared loopholes, and the peak of a roof.


8-23. You must be able to fire your weapon (both right and left-handed) to be effective around corners.

• A common error made in firing around corners is firing from the wrong shoulder. This exposes more of your body to return fire than necessary. By firing from the proper shoulder, you can reduce exposure to enemy fire (Figure 8-13).

• Another common mistake when firing around corners is firing from the standing position. If the Soldier exposes himself at the height the enemy expects, then he risks exposing the entire length of his body as a target for the enemy (Figure 8-14).


8-24. When firing from behind walls, you must fire around cover and not over it.


8-25. In an urban area, windows provide convenient firing ports. Avoid firing from the standing position, which would expose most of your body to return fire from the enemy, and which could silhouette you against a light-colored interior background. This is an obvious sign of your position, especially at night when the muzzle flash can be easily observed. To fire from a window properly, remain well back in the room to hide the flash, and kneel to limit exposure and avoid silhouetting yourself.


8-26. You may fire through a hole created in the wall and avoid windows. You must stay well back from the loophole so the muzzle of the weapon does not protrude beyond the wall, and the muzzle flash is concealed.


8-27. The peak of a roof provides a vantage point that increases field of vision and the ranges at which you can engage targets (Figure 8-15). A chimney, smokestack, or any other object protruding from the roof of a building should be used to reduce the size of the target exposed.


8-28. When subjected to enemy fire and none of the positions mentioned above are available, you must try to expose as little of yourself as possible. You can reduce your exposure to the enemy by lying in the prone position as close to a building as possible, on the same side of the open area as the enemy. In order to engage you, the enemy must then lean out the window and expose himself to return fire.


8-29. When no cover is available, you can reduce your exposure by firing from the prone position, by firing from shadows, and by presenting no silhouette against buildings.


8-30. A prepared firing position is one built or improved to allow you to engage a particular area, avenue of approach, or enemy position, while reducing your exposure to return fire. Examples of prepared positions include barricaded windows, fortified loopholes, and sniper, antiarmor, and machine gun positions.


8-31. The natural firing port provided by windows can be improved by barricading the window, leaving a small hole for you to use. Materials torn from the interior walls of the building or any other available material may be used for barricading.

8-32. Barricade all windows, whether you intend to use them as firing ports or not. Keep the enemy guessing. Avoid making neat, square, or rectangular holes, which clearly identify your firing positions to the enemy. For example, a barricaded window should not have a neat, regular firing port. The window should remain in its original condition so that your position is hard to detect. Firing from the bottom of the window gives you the advantage of the wall because the firing port is less obvious to the enemy. Sandbags are used to reinforce the wall below the window and to increase protection. All glass must be removed from the window to prevent injury. Lace curtains permit you to see out and prevent the enemy from seeing in. Wet blankets should be placed under weapons to reduce dust. Wire mesh over the window keeps the enemy from throwing in hand grenades.


8-33. Although windows usually are good fighting positions, they do not always allow you to engage targets in your sector. To avoid establishing a pattern of always firing from windows, alternate positions, for example, fire through a rubbled outer wall, from an interior room, or from a prepared loophole. The prepared loophole involves cutting or blowing a small hole into the wall to allow you to observe and engage targets in your sector. Use sandbags to reinforce the walls below, around, and above the loophole.

Protection–Two layers of sandbags are placed on the floor to protect you from an explosion on a lower floor (if the position is on the second floor or higher). Construct a wall of sandbags, rubble, and furniture to the rear of the position as protection from explosions in the room. A table, bedstead, or other available material can provide OHC for the position. This cover prevents injury from falling debris or explosions above your position.

Camouflage–Hide the position in plain sight by knocking other holes in the wall, making it difficult for the enemy to determine which hole the fire is coming from. Remove exterior siding in several places to make loopholes less noticeable. Due to the angled firing position associated with loopholes, you can use the same loophole for both primary and supplementary positions. This allows you to shift your fire easily onto a sector that was not previously covered by small arms fire.

Backblast–SLM and CCMs crews may be hampered in choosing firing positions due to the backblast of their weapons. They may not have enough time to knock out walls in buildings and clear backblast areas. They should select positions that allow the backblast to escape such as corner windows where the round fired goes out one window and the backblast escapes from another. When conducting defensive operations the corner of a building can be improved with sandbags to create a firing position.

Shoulder-Launched Munitions and Close Combat Missiles–Various principles of employing SLM and CCMs weapons have universal applications. These include using available cover, providing mutual support, and allowing for backblast. However, urban areas require additional considerations. Soldiers must select numerous alternate positions, particularly in structures without cover from small-arms fire. Soldiers must position their weapons in the shadows and within the building.

–A gunner firing an AT4 or Javelin from the top of a building can use a chimney for cover, if available. He should reinforce his position by placing sandbags to the rear so they do not interfere with the backblast.

–When selecting firing positions for his SLM or CCM, he uses rubble, corners of buildings, or destroyed vehicles as cover. He moves his weapon along rooftops to find better angles for engaging enemy vehicles. On tall buildings, he can use the building itself as overhead cover. He must select a position where backblast will not damage or collapse the building, or injure him.

When firing within an enclosure, ensure that it measures at least
10 feet by 15 feet (150 square feet); is clear of debris and other
loose objects; and has windows, doors, or holes in the walls
where the backblast can escape.

–The machine gunner can emplace his weapon almost anywhere. In the attack, windows and doors offer ready-made firing ports (Figure 8-16). For this reason, avoid windows and doors, which the enemy normally has under observation and fire. Use any opening created in walls during the fighting. Small explosive charges can create loopholes for machine gun positions. Regardless of the openings used, ensure machine guns are inside the building and that they remain in the shadows.

–Upon occupying a building, board up all windows and doors. Leave small gaps between the boards so you can use windows and doors as alternate positions.

–Use loopholes extensively in the defense. Avoid constructing them in any logical pattern, or all at floor or tabletop levels. Varying height and location makes them hard to pinpoint and identify. Make dummy loopholes and knock off shingles to aid in the deception. Construct loopholes behind shrubbery, under doorjambs, and under the eaves of a building, because these are hard to detect. In the defense, as in the offense, you can construct a firing position so as to use the building for OHC.

–You can increase your fields of fire by locating the machine gun in the corner of the building or in the cellar. To add cover and concealment, integrate available materials, such as desks, overstuffed chairs, couches, and other items of furniture, into the construction of bunkers.

–Grazing fire is ideal, but sometimes impractical or impossible. Where destroyed vehicles, rubble, and other obstructions restrict the fields of grazing fire, elevate the gun to allow you to fire over obstacles. You might have to fire from second or third story loopholes. You can build a firing platform under the roof, and then construct a loophole. Again, conceal the exact location of the position. Camouflage the position by removing patches of shingles over the entire roof.

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