can be defined as a surprise attack
. Setting up and surviving ambushes are two
scenarios taught to all soldiers in the first
phases of their training.
For simplicity's sake, I'll illustrate with a case of one
squad (8 men) ambushing another single squad. In real life things
tend to be more complex.
Setting Up an Ambush
The squad leader can choose to set up an ambush if he receives
indicating that the enemy is on its way along
a known path. In an ideal situation, the ambushing group has
days to prepare its position, but in these days of
and motorized infantry
an advance notice
of even 15 minutes may be a luxury; a simple ambush can be set up in one minute if a moving squad's scouts spot an enemy force heading their way.
So. For a simple ambush, the group leader will array his men
along one side of the expected path, 5-10 meters between soldiers,
perhaps some 50 meters away from the road. Each soldier will
prepare his fire position so that he can see towards the road
but is not visible from the road.
Then, the squad leader will usually designate a fire trigger
(a point beyond which firing is allowed). The trigger is
usually set relatively far back, allowing the enemy's scouts
to pass and the entire squad to move into view before firing
starts. Alternatively, the squad leader may choose to open
fire himself at an opportune moment, after which all other
squad members will follow. The squad leader will also
designate a withdrawal rendezvous point, for reasons that
will be explained later.
The primary targets in an ambush are the enemy's squad leader,
usually first in the file, and the assistant squad leader,
usually the last. After the "brains" of the squad have been
eliminated, the rest tend become disorganized and panicked and are thus easy prey. (Yes, any wartime unit will have a theoretical chain of succession, but seeing half their buddies dead tends to upset people a bit.)
Surviving an Ambush
Ideally, your scout
s will spot the ambushers before they attack
but this just isn't going to happen every time. Thus, an ambush
will usually be revealed by gunfire and the sudden violent
deaths of (at least) 2-3 squad members. This is largely
-- the attacker in an ambush always has a significant
over the defender.
But all is not yet lost. What every soldier who wants to get out of
an ambush alive should do is:
- Drop to the ground as fast as humanly possible -- better a
bruise than a bullet. Keep your legs tensed to prevent them
from bouncing back up. There are approximately 2 seconds between
the squad leader's opening shot and the ensuing bullet storm,
- Fire 2 shots in the general direction of the enemy, no need
to aim. This may convince them to keep their heads down and/or
scare them into missing, and give you a few extra seconds of time.
- Move quickly and stealthily towards better cover.
so far, but the next step is a surprise for
many: according to (field-tested) military doctrine
, the next
thing to do is to attack
the enemy positions as a group.
thinking behind this is that the enemy knows the terrain
where you are, while you don't; if you stay where you are, or
attempt to run away, you become sitting (or running) ducks for
the enemy's shooters.
Modern infantry has an another advantage on its side when
ambushed: air and/or artillery support is only a radio call
away, and one of the first duties of the squad leader in an
ambush is to order some. This means that the attackers have
about one to two minutes of effective firing time before the
bombs start dropping, and they know this; the ambushing
squad leader will usually call for withdrawal some 30 to 60
seconds after the attack has started. If the defenders have
managed to remain a coherent force, they can assault while
the ambushers retreat, and with some luck turn the tables.
Alas, ambushers have a few more tricks up their sleeve. First of
all, it is by no means necessary to line all your men on one
side of the path; quite the contrary, it is common to place some
men (say) ahead and some on the left, making it quite difficult
to find shelter or to assault the enemy's dual position.
(Ganging up from three sides, however, is usually not done
because of the risk of friendly fire
An even more evil -- but effective -- tactic is to employ a
decoy. One soldier hides on the right side of the road and
fires the opening shot; the ambushed squad drops, finds
shelter for fire from the right, and starts advancing.
Then the rest of the squad pops up on the left, behind the backs
of the victims, and the carnage begins. (I've tried this
a few times in laser-aided combat simulation, and it really
is just too easy to zap all the poor fools scuttling away
with their backs beautifully exposed to you.)