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Fire Superiority





Do not study this chapter until you begin your extended order drills.

If the authors of this text were requested to select for you the most
important of all information that you will receive during your
instruction at a training camp, they would advise you to take home that
contained in this chapter. If you have learned fully so much you will
have done well. If you have failed to comprehend as much as this, you
will have returned to your homes lacking in important knowledge.

If you are on the battle-field and propose to crush the other side
(defeat the enemy), you have got to do one thing: you have got to make
your rifle fire better than his, and you have got to keep it better.

The proposition is this: The enemy is on the defense. He is in a
number-one, first-class trench. It is constructed with steel, concrete,
and sandbags. It has all the improvements that science can devise. Your
business is to attack and crush the enemy. How can you advance over
exposed ground against such a position? The man behind all those modern
improvements has got to stick his head up more or less when he fires. If
the volume and rate and accuracy of your fire is greater than his, he
will grow timid about the matter. His fire will become less effective.
That is to say, he cannot have fire superiority. When your side has fire
superiority, it not only can advance upon such a position but it can do
so without ruinous losses, and with hope of success.

To obtain this fire superiority it is necessary to produce a heavier
volume of accurate fire than your opponent can produce. We can get a
proper conception of the ideas involved by imagining two firemen in a
fight armed with hose. One has a larger hose and a greater water
pressure than the other. All else being equal, we can foresee clearly
who will be the victor and who will be defeated. The more water one
throws into the other's face, the less accurate and effective will the
other's aim become. This is equally true with bullets. Put a man on the
target range, where no danger whatsoever is involved, and he may fire
with a nice degree of accuracy. Put him on the battle-field with a great
number of bullets whizzing around his head, and he must be a trained
veteran to fire with the same accuracy. This is true simply because we
have been made that way.

The volume and accuracy of fire depend upon several considerations: (a)
Of primary importance is the number of rifles employed. Let us imagine a
battle-line one mile long. It is obvious that we cannot have one man
firing behind another. We don't want to destroy our own men. They must,
therefore, be placed side by side. Each man must have sufficient room to
operate his rifle. Experience tells us that we must not have more than
one man per yard. We thus see that our battle-line of a mile can only
have about eighteen hundred rifles. (b) The rate of fire affects its
volume; an excessive rate reduces its accuracy. If you were hunting
tigers, you can easily imagine where one well-aimed and well-timed shot
could be of more use to you and more harm to the tiger than half a dozen
shots fired too rapidly. (c) If the target is large, is clear (can be
easily seen), and is but a short distance from you, your fire, for
reasons that do not require explanations, can be more rapid. Greater
density increases the effect. Suppose a hundred deer were grazing on a
hill; you would be more likely to kill some deer than if only a half
dozen were there. (d) The position of the target influences the effect
of fire. Suppose that ten men were lined up in a row against a wall and
that it is your business to kill the lot with a rifle. If you are in
front of them, ten shots at least will be required. But it is possible
for you to take a position in prolongation of the line (on its flank)
and kill the entire number with one bullet. (This also illustrates the
extreme vulnerability of flanks.)

What are the important steps that must be taken if you are going to get
this fire superiority? 1st, Fire Direction. 2d, Fire Control. 3d, Fire
Discipline.





Next: Fire Direction

Previous: The Fire Attack



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