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Preparing A Defensive Position

Now let us suppose ourselves as part of a battalion that is to occupy a
defensive position. What would probably be done? How and in what order
would it be done? What would the major do? He would decide upon the kind
of defense (active or passive) to offer, and then find a suitable
defensive position in harmony with his plans. He would determine
exactly where the firing and other trenches are to be dug. He would
then call up the company commanders and issue his defense order in which
the task of each company would be made clear. Those to occupy the firing
line would each be assigned a sector of ground to the front to defend
and a corresponding section of the fire trench to construct. The
supports would construct their trenches and the communicating trenches.
He would, if necessary, issue the necessary orders to protect the front
and flanks by sending out patrols. He would indicate how the position is
to be strengthened and make arrangements for distributing the extra
ammunition. If time is a serious consideration, the major would direct
the work to be done in the order of its importance, which is ordinarily
as follows:

(1) Clearing of foreground to improve the field of fire and construction
of fire trench.

(2) Head or overhead cover concealment.

(3) Placing obstacles and recording ranges.

(4) Cover trenches for supports and local reserves.

(5) Communicating trenches.

(6) Widening and deepening of trench; interior conveniences.

Now having cleared the foreground, dug the trenches, recorded ranges to
the important objects in each sector, etc., the position can be
occupied. The citizen ordinarily pictures the firing trench full of
soldiers when he is told the trenches are occupied. Not so. Patrols
would be operating well to the front to give timely warning to one or
two sentinels in each company fire trench of the approach of the enemy.
These sentinels would in turn inform the company which would probably be
resting in the trenches in the rear.

Next: The Actual Defense

Previous: Requisites Of A Good Defensive Position

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