COMBAT INSTRUCTIONS i
A. E. F.
WAR PLANS DIVISION!I',
I War DepartmentT Document No. 868
i Office of the Adjutant General.
1... · · · · · · · · · · · ._-_..... · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ~ · · · ..~
Document No. 868
Office of the Adjutant General.
WASHINGTON, October 5, 1918.
'.rhe following pamphlet, entitled "Combat Instructions," is
published for the information of all concerned.
(062.1 A. G. 0.)
By ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAB:
PEYf.'ON C. MARCH,
General, Ohief of Staff.
P. C. HARRIS,
The Adjuta,nt General.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Combat instructions ........................................_..__..___ ._._ ....__ .._.________ 7
1. Principles __ ._....._. __________ .. ___ ._....__ .._........~.....-;.......__......___ ....____ ____ . 7
2. Effect upon formations ................_......_........._.._....................... 7
3. Warfare in the open ..........-..............-..........-........................... 8
4. Scouts .........................................................:.....-...-........................ 8
5.. Platoons ...........................................-.................-........_................. 8
6. COlnpany ...............................................................:................_..... 9
7. Machine guns .....................:......._.....................__ ......._."................ 9
8. One-pounder gun ......................-............................-..-................. 10
9. Light mortars ........................................._....._.........-......._......_.... 11
10. Recapitulation ....................................-..........-...........-....... ..... . 11
11. Artillery .... ... ........................................_..........._........__............. .... 11
12. Infantry batteries .........................._._._._.__ .____ ..._. __________...__ ..._..... 12
13. Accompanying guns --.....-..-.--..-..-.....------..-----....-..-.-..-----..-.....
14. Infantry comUluuders .....................-.....--..----.---.--.....------
15. Division trench mortars --._._.__ __ ....... .......____.____......_........_._ .."" 14
16.. Divisiori trench mortar battery -..... ...--...._................._.._........ 14
17. Nature of the action _.._......____..................__ ..._.......___ ..____ .---..-... 14
18. Mission of infantry commanders ..._...._.._. __ ...___ .____ ._.__ .__ .__ ...._ 15
19. Assignment of a mission _. __ .___ ......_. __ ......_._._ ...__._...__ .__ .___ ._____-.-. 15
20. Visual concealment ._._._________________ .__ ._ .._..._..__ ._ .._.......____ ._____ .___..__ 15
21. ]\lission ---...-..--.-----.-.....
....-..----------------.----------...-- ...-----.--------.-------. 16
22. Division commanders _. __ ..__ ..._.._________ .___.____ .____._____.___ .._. ___ .-..-...... 16
23. Standing . instructions ....._____ ._..._......___.__ ..._._. ______.____ ._ .._. __ --.----. 16
ISSUED SEPTEMBER 5, 1918.
1. Principles.-The principles enunciated in Bulletin No. 3e,
May 23, 1918; Memorandum :(01' Corps and Division Commanders,
August 5, 1918, and Notes on Recent Operations, No. 1.
August 7, 1918, are not yet receiving due application. Attack
formations of platoons, companies and battalions are everywhere
too dense and follow too rigidly the illustrations contained
in the Offensive Combat of Small Units. Waves are too
close together; individuals therein have too little interval.
Lines are frequently seen with the men almost elbow to elbow
and seldom with intervals greater than two or three paces.
Columns, when used, are too long; in first line companies they
should rarely have a greater depth than ten files. All formations
are habitually lacking in elasticity; there is almost never
any attempt to maneuver, that is, to throw supports and
reserves 'to the flanks for envelopment. Scouts, if used, are
frequently only a few yards in front of the leading waves,
where the only purpose they can serve is to blanket or to receive
the fire of the men behind them. Subordinate officers
display little appreciation of the assumed situation and how
best to meet its requirements. It is necessary, therefore, to
repeat once more a few fundamental principles which must be
. impressed upon all concerned.
2. Effect upon tormations.-The essential difference between
open and trench warfare, so far as effect upon formations is
concerned, is characterized by the presence or absence of the
rolling barrage ahead of the infantry. From a tactical point
of view, the method of combat in trench warfare presents 8
marked .contrast to that employed in open warfare and the
attempt by assaulting infantry to use trench warfare methods
in an open warfare combat will be successful only at great cost.
Trench warfare is marked by uniform formations, the regulation
of space and ti~ by higher commtnd down to the smallest
details, absence of scouts preceding the first wave, fixed distances
and intervals between units and individuals, voluminous
ord~rs, careful rehearsal, little initiative upon the part of the
individual soldier. Open 'warfare is marked by scouts who
precede "the first "vave, irregularity of formations, comparatively
little regulation of space . and tinie by the higher command,
the greatest possible use of the infantry's own fire power to
enable it to get forward variable distances and iritervals
between units and individuals, use of every form of cover and
accident of the ground during t,he advance, brief orders and
the greatest possible use of individual initiative by all troops
engaged in the action.
3. Warfa·re in the open.-The following principles deal
chiefly with warfare in the open. In a trench-to-trench attack,
where a moving barrage is to be followed closel'y, uniform formations
are generally expedient until the enemy's fi rst line
trenches have been . entered. Thereafter, the principles outlined
below should be applied.
4. SC01tts.-\Vhen closely following a moving bar rage, there
is seldom room for scouts. 'When the barrage has been lost
or does not exist, as is ordinarily the case in the open field,
scouts should precede the first line companies. Th ~y should
deploy at wide and irregUlar intervals, 10 to 50 paces, to pyesent
a poor target ' to hostile machine gunS. They should 'take
every possible advantage of the ground to obtain cover, provided
their advance is not thereby unduly delayed. Exposed
ground sholild be crossed at a run. Their distance in front
of the main bodies of their platoons should follow no set rule,
but should constantly vary with the ground . and with the
anticipated position of the enemy. One moment they may be
500 meters ahead of their platoons, a few minutes later they
may be absorbed therein. Their purpose is to compel the
enemy machine guns to open fire and so disclose their location
or be MIll ' over by the scouts. When the hostile machine guns
have, been located, the scouts should at once open fire.
5. Platoons.-Under cover of the fire of the scouts, enough
men from the platoon behind ·work forward individually or in
small groups to this thin and very irregular . line of scouts in
order 'to give it sufficient fire power to pin the machine gun
crew to the ground. Or, if the scouts are in low ground, it
will sometimes be advisable for the platoon to open fire over
their heads from commanding ground behind. But the firing
\ line, however formed, must remain a thin one, with no two
) men ever le.ss than five meters apart and in the llsual case
preferably at much greater interval. The first reinforcements
for the scouts should contain one or more automatic rifle teams.
at the same time, riflemen and bombers and, if the ground
favors it, automatics also, begin to work from the second wave
around one or both flanks of the firing line to get at the fianks
of the machine gun and thus close on its crew. All detachments
or unitil attempting such an attack must take proper
measures to secure their own flanks. If the hostile gun is
shifted to meet the new attack, a. whole or part ot the firing
Hne should take prompt advantage of that change in position
Qr direction of fire to rush directly forward. As soon as the
scouts have located the machine gun, the rifle grenadiers assist
the advance of everyone by heavy fire from suitable positions
behind the first line. The ability of the platoon leader ,is displayed
by prompt reconnaissance of the ground, by a rapid
estimate of what it offers toward faCilitating the advance of
his men and by immediate decision upon a simple plan for
the use of his combined weapons .and of the ground to enable
him to close with the enemy. His plan should habitually include
pinning the enemy to th~ ground by frontal and flanking
fire, under cover of which some portions of the platoon, usually
those sent against the hostile flanks, can close by short rushes
with the enemy. The training and dIScipline of the platoon
are shown by the skill with which the men carry out the plan
of the leader. A platoon should by itself be able to capture
one, or even a pair, of hostile machine guns.
6. Oompany.-The capture of a nest of machine guns will
probably be beyond the capacity of a platoon and will require
the company to send its support platoons to the flanks to
envelop or encircle.
7. Machine Guns.-Every first line battalion should habitually
be reinforced by a machine gun company, which reports
to and is un'der the orders of the battalion commander. He
should not in turn pass the company on' by platoons to his
rifle companies, but should command it as a fifth company.
This does not mean, that the company should be assembled at
one place for massed fire. In fact, the contrary is usually
advisable. The company should ordinarily work by platoons,.
one supporting each first line company, while ene, if two riflecompanies
only are in first line, is charged with defense against
hostile aircraft, with replacements for the first line platoons
and with securing the flanks of the battalion. When initiatingan
attack, the machine gun platoons will at first usually follow
in rear of the first line companies, provided the character of'
the terrain renders their early use probable. When such is.
not the case, they should follow in rear of the support companies.
After the enemy has been located, the guns of each
platoon habitually work in pairs, one pair remaining in position
on commanding ground to cover the advance of the other
pair to a suitable firing position in advance. All changes of
position are, as a rule, made by bounds of half pl~toons. Except
in the early stages of an attack, as noted above, a steady
advance of machine guns will seldom be advisable. A platoon
supporting the advance ' of an infantry company ordinarily
fires from commanding positions over the heads of the troops.
The company commander remains near the battalion commander.
He takes full advantage of every opportunity to concentrate
the fire of his platoons, usually without changing their
position, on those hostile nests 'or strong points which are
making most trouble. He shifts the fire of his platoon, whenever
practicable, to give flanking instead of direct fire. He
must take every opportunity to bring forward his gun and ammunition
Platoons in support of first line companies should send
agents, usually a non-commissioned officer and two privates,
forward to the rifle companies. A rocket signal will, as a rule,
most promptly secure fire from the supporting machine guns.
8. One-Pounder Gun.-The one-pounder guns will usually
be assigned to the first line battalions and will be placed under
the command of the infantry majors. When there is only one
battalion in the first line, two guns should ordinarily be assigned
to it. The remaining gun may be held under the order of the
colonel between the leading and the second battalion to replace
any gun lost in the first line and to secure the flanks. The
one-pounder gun Is , Jntended for direct. fire against machine
guns, in which it is of the utmost possible v~~e. In fact, the, one11
pounder is the most effective single 'weapon in the infantry
regiment for use agains[ machine guns. It is so effective that
the hostile flrtillery will not permit its approach within short
range unless its advance is so carefully screened that the enemy
does not discover it until it opens fire. It should not be used
against other targets than machine guns or tanks. These guns
advance by bounds from one firing pOSition to another along
defiladed routes, which should be reconnoitered in advance.
9. Light Mortars.-The light trench mortar should be
assigned by pairs to prst line battalions and placed under the
battalion commander. Its principal use is also against machin~
gun nests, where its fire is both physically and morally highly
effective. Like the machine guns and the one-pounder, the
advance of the mortar must be by bounds from one position to
another from which it can support the first line conipanies. In
open warfare its use is hampered by the difficulty of transporting
by hand both the mortar and its bulky ammunition. Economy
in the use of ammunition and careful organiz,ation of the
system of supply will do much toward overcoming these difficulties.
'When the Brandt-Maurice shell can be obtained 75
per cent. of the ammunition should be of this type.
10. Recapitulation.-To recapitulate, the German machine
!runs constitute the chief weapon to be combatted by our infan~
ry. The platoon commander must oppose them by fire from
his rifles, his automatics and his rifle grenades and must
close with their crews under cover of this fire and of ground
beyond their flanks. The battalion commander, in addition to ,
the weapons of the platoon, has his machine guns, onepounder
gun, light mortars and accempanying field piece. The
battalion commander who makes the most intelligent use of the
combined fire of these weapons and of the ground will lose the
fewest men. The success of every unit from the platoon to the
division must be exploited to the fullest extent. Where strong
resistance is encountered, reinforcements must not be thrown
in to make a frontal attack at this point, but must be pushed
through gaps created by successful units, to attack these strong
points in the .flank or rear.
11. Artillery.-The division artillery. for open warfare, is
divided into two classes: '(a) that . retained by the diyision
commander under the command of t~e artillery brig-a.de COID12
mander and (b) that assigned to infantry units under the
command of the infantry commanders.
The proportions to be assigned to these two classes depend
on the followin ;::;; considerations:
The retention of a large proportion under the division commander
permits rapid and powerful concentration on decisive
points any" ...here on the division front. But unless communications
are perfect and information complete, it renders the
close support of local actions difficult.
The assignment of artillery to infantry units binds such
artillery closely to the infantry it is supporting and gives the
infantry commander a powerful combination of arms with
which to handle local situations without loss of time. On the
other hand, it tends to lessen the power of artillery concentration
of the division as a whole and may render the infantry
unit clumsy and immobile. Moreover it demands a high degree
of decision and initiative on the part of both the infantry and
artillery commanders immediately involved.
In whatever manner the artilery is assigned, close and
direct liaison between the artillery and the infantry which it
is supporting must be maintained.
A suitable proportion of artillery for assignment under
infantry commanders is, as a rule, one battalion of light
. artillery to each infantry brigade. ·With respect to its mission
and employment, this artillery is divided into two classes:
Infantry batteries and accompanying guns. If a battalion is
assigned to each infantry brigade, a suitable disposition will
frequently be to use two batteries as infantry batteries and
to break up one battery for use as accompanying guns. Infantry
batteries should be fought as batteries; accompanying
guns always by piece; each "under an officer when practicable.
12. Infantry Batt!3ries.-"With two infantry batteries per
infantry brigade, they may be either assigned one under each
infantry regimental commander, or both held under the infantry
brigade commander. The former disposition is ordinarily preferable
when regiments are deployed abreast.
With both infantry batteries held under the infantry bri~
gade commander, the artillery battalion commander commands
these batteries, ordinarily remaining with the infantry brigade
commander or in close communication with him. When the
infantry batteries ar~ assigned to infantry regiment, the artillery
battalion commander supervises the employment of his
batteries, as well as of the replacement of personnel, materiel
The missions of infantry batteries include the attack of the
stronger points of resistance, defense H;gainst local counter
attacks, and firing on hostile reserves.
Fire is habitually by direct observation from near the battery
pOSitions on specific objectives. The range finder should be
at hand and used when accurate map ranges are not available
and for moving objectives. Free use must be made of scouts
for securing information ~nd for protection against surprise.
Visual communications are important. Positions should be forward,
well reconnoitered, but occupied with rapidity and boloness.
13. Accompany-ing Guns.-'I'hese are assigned first line infantry
b:rttalions and placed under the command of the infantry
majors. The proportion may be one or even two per battalion,
depending on the front covered.
Ac.~ompnnying guns attack hostile machine gun~, tank:'! and
E'ire is direct in the case of clearly visible or moving objectives;
ot.herwise indirect with flash defilade and observation at
the piece. The range should be from 500 to 1500 meters.
Ranges are ordinarily estimated. A wide bracket of say 400
meters is quickly obtained and searched. Ineffective ranges
are eliminated during fire for effect.
The pieces are ordinarily moved horsed, unlimbered under
cover and run forward by hand. Caissons are brought as near
the pieces as conditions per-mit. Accompanying guns flnd their
protection prinCipally in the small target presented, in concealment
by natural features and in their mobility. Two or
more caissons should be assigned for the ammunition supply
of each piece.
Captains of "batteries broken up for accompanying guns may
devote their attention to superintending ammunition supply and
replacement of materiel and personnel, or they may assign
lieutenants to this duty and themselves command pieces.
Nearby infantry reserves should be ca~led upon to assist in
ammunition supply and in the movement of the piece when
A portion of the battery personnel for information and communication
should be assigned to each piece. This personnel is
pushed forward to secure information and locate objectives, to
reconnoiter positions' and to secure liaison with the infantry
commander and the ammunition supply.
14. Infantry Commanclers.-The functions of infantry commanders
having either infantry, battery or accompanying guns
under their command generally consists in the indication of
missions ancI supplying information as to enemy and friendly
dispositions. Technical details and methods should be left as
far as possible to the artillery commander. However, in the
absence of a specific mission, the artillery commander should,
on his own initiative, use the means at his disposal to locate
and attack suitable objectives.
In general, the artillery commander is responsible that the
full power of his weapons is developed and aggressively used.
The infantry commander must apply this power where it will
best assist his infantry.
15. Divis'ion Trench M ortars.-The 6" Newton Trench Mortar,
while developed primarily for position warfare, is capable
of utilization in open warfare. Its motor transport enables it
to follow the advance and assures ammunition supply. If conditions
render it necessary, a portion of the mortars may be
left behind. This affords a reserve of personnel and transport
for ammunition supply to hasten the occupation of a position
and to replace casualties promptly.
'16. Divis'ion 7'rench Mortar Battery.-The mission of the
division· trench mortar battery in open warfare is solely a
close support of infantry in overcoming strong points which
are holding up the advance. Except when the attack is at
dawn of days ~;ucceeding the first day of the advance, the
position warfare conception of elaborately prepared emplacements
must be entirely abandoned. It requires too much time.
For missions undertaken and executed by day, the rapid occupation
of a position and opening of fire is essentjal to success.
, 17. Nature of the Action...-When the nature of the action is
such that the mission of the trench mortar battery can be
anticipated, it should preferably be attached to the infantry .. regiment or brigade which it will be required to support.
When its mission cannot be foreseen, it must be held ~tibject
to orders of the division or brigade in such a way that its
prompt assignment to any mission arising during the action
-can be effected. Its assignment to the division infantry reserve
is feasible when this will not result in its being held too far
to the rear for prompt entry into action. Whatever be the
tactical assignment of the battery, the battery commander
must take all possible measures to push his unit forward in
-order to hasten its entry into action when called for.
18. M'is8ion of Infantry Oommanclers.-Infantry commanders
:assigning a mission to the battery should state definitely the
'locality to be fired upon and the position of friendly troops.
The selection of positl-ons should be left within rather large
limits to the battery commander. The time of attack should
be arranged after consulting the battery commander as to
;the time necessary for the latter to go into battery.
19. Assignnwnt of a Mission.-Up to the time of the assignment
of a mission, the battery commander remains with, or
Jin close liaison with, the infantry commander to whom attached.
,Vhen assigned a mission the battery commander hastens to'
join the infantry commander whose unit he is to support.
After obtaining the necessary information as to the operation
,contemplated, he makes a rapid reconnaissance ,of position
.and meets the battery on arrival in the vicinity or sends an
agent to conduct it to the position., The position selected
'should be at as short a range as is possible, consistent with
proper concealment and ammunition supply.
20. Visual concealment in position must be had, but protect
ion must be limited ordinarily to that afforded by the natural
features of the position selected. The construct1on of emplacements
is carried only as far as is absolutely necessary to fire.
Previously prepared sand bags dre necessary. Protection for
the cannoneers must not be allowed to delay the opening of
fire. The deep aefilade possible with this piece is ample protection
against hostile fire under open warfare conditions. The
moral and material effect of a rapid fire, promptly delivered,
is great. But if the fire is delayed, the enemy is allowed to
.. perfect his dispositiGns, all the while inflicting losses on our
21. \iJ,iission.-When a mission has been accomplished, the
materiel should be at once withdrawn and loaded on the transport
for further advance.
22. Division commanders will secure full compliance with
the principles herein enunciated.
23. Standing Instructions.-Copies of all standing instructions
upon tactical matters which have been, or may be, issued
by division or higher headquarters will be forwarded through
channe1s to General Headquarters.