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The Actual Defense





Let us suppose now that our battalion, occupying this defensive
position, is a part of a larger force which is supported by artillery.
You see small objects one and a half to two miles to your front. You
know they are the enemy's troops because your artillery is firing at
them and your combat patrols are being driven in. Your entire company
has moved to its fire trench. You have plenty of ammunition, you know
exactly the range.

What happens? You open fire on the enemy at probably the extreme range
of 2000 yards. Only the hostile artillery can return this fire until
the enemy's firing line closes to within 1200 yards of your position.
While an attacking force is thus approaching you may inflict very
serious losses upon it. But it cannot stop, however serious its losses,
beyond 1200 yards; for we have seen that, if it stops advancing in order
to fire, it will probably never arrive at your position. When within
1200 yards the enemy will build up a strong rifle fire against you and
not attempt to advance until he has gained fire superiority. It is your
business not to let him get fire superiority, and if he does do so to
take it away from him when he withdraws parts of his rifles to advance
by rushing. Fight each rush. If your defense is active and you
permanently stop the enemy's advance by gaining fire superiority, and he
cannot regain it, even though he uses up his supports, his firing line
will become confused and demoralized and it will be the psychological
time for the proper commander to launch his counter attack. On the other
hand, if you cannot stop his advance, fix bayonets (firing line and
remaining supports) when he fixes bayonets and meet his charge in front
of your trench. All your supports will be moved up to assist you in
opposing the charge. If you are unsuccessful in the bayonet fight or
forced to retire from your trenches during the fire fight your
artillery, cavalry and any formed reserves in the rear will cover your
withdrawal, which, if possible, should be made straight to the rear, one
part covering the withdrawal of the other part, and so on. Reorganize at
the first opportunity.





Next: Patrolling

Previous: Preparing A Defensive Position



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