More Light Summer Reading...

William S. Lind's, 'Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook.'  Below the graphic is an excerpt - Chapter 7 - it's about training, 'light' infantry.  Kinda like 'light' summer reading.  :-).  It oughta whet your appetite.  When reading for local application, replace 'line infantry unit' with your small circle of friends.  The concepts remain the same whether you're a three person or 50 person team.  Do buy the book; it's worth it.  Hard copy provides tech proof censoring of your reading material...just sayin'

7. Training Light Infantry Units

This chapter assumes you are the commander of a line infantry unit— platoon, company, or battalion— that you want to convert to light infantry. How would you do it? The same way Captain Trapp did. Flexibility The first step must be to give your troops a light infantry mindset. The way in which light infantry think is much different from the line infantry mindset. Retraining your men without changing the way that they think will give you light infantry in name only. Changing the mindset of your men is not a “one-off” event. It must start immediately and continue throughout training. One part of this is an ongoing education program to teach troops about the basics of light infantry. Such an education program may consist of guided professional reading with linked discussions, tactical decision games, sand-table exercises, and tactical exercises without troops. Another important method is to create situations that compel leaders to adapt to unexpected and constantly changing circumstances. Such situations should arise randomly, not just during scheduled training. Change the training schedule during the training. When units are on a mission during a field exercise, radio them and change their situation or mission and see how well they adapt. The new mission should be one for which they did not prepare and have little or no specialized gear. Run them through problems in the Field Leaders’ Reaction Course (FLRC), if your station has one. The best book on how to train for adaptability is Don Vandergriff’s Raising the Bar. Vandergriff spells out in detail why adaptability is so critical and how to inculcate it in your subordinates. Some of your troops will thrive in this environment. Others will not. They joined the military for the order and structure they thought it would provide them. To reduce uncertainty, they will seek sources of “gouge.” Be careful entrusting anyone with information about upcoming events, especially company clerks! Your real training plan should exist only in your own (paper, not electronic) notebook.

Free-Play Training

The next step that you, the commander, take is to make virtually all training free-play. The best way to train your unit is to replicate the conditions of combat as closely as possible. The best method for doing so is free-play training. One of the salient features of war is that it is a clash of opposing wills. Training that does not incorporate this will not be effective in preparing units for combat. On the rare occasions that troops get the opportunity to act freely as “aggressors” during current training exercises, they unleash their creativity and often cause great difficulty for their opponents. The philosophical goal for training light infantry is to make this “aggressor” mindset the mindset of your men all the time.

Weapons Proficiency

Third, ensure your troops are proficient with every weapon that they are likely to use in combat, including enemy and improvised weapons. Shoot under conditions that approximate combat (e.g., unknown distance at night) and evaluate how well each man shoots under all of these conditions. Do not succumb to the trap of conducting “familiarization” shoots. They are a waste of ammunition. Teach men how to disassemble, clean, reassemble, conduct a function check, and take immediate and remedial action for every weapon. Teach them how to inspect ammunition for serviceability, particularly ammunition for threat weapons. There should also be at least one designated marksman (DM) per squad. Even one well-trained DM can have a devastating effect upon the enemy. The DMs should be appropriately trained and provided with sniper rifles. Every light infantryman should also be well-trained and comfortable using hand grenades. Ambushes are the preferred offensive and defensive method for light infantry and light infantry almost always operates in close terrain. Most combats are likely to be at short range. In such fighting, grenades prove extremely useful. Light infantrymen who are unfamiliar with or uncomfortable employing hand grenades will be at a disadvantage during such fighting.

Learning to Operate Patiently

 Next, teach your men patience. Because light infantry is primarily foot-mobile and must remain concealed, even while moving, it will take time to obtain results. This change in the pace of operations must be reflected in the way units are trained. Troops should not be told when a field exercise is to end, nor should the training plan schedule an “ENDEX.” Units should go to the field on the understanding that once there, they will be required to remain and to sustain themselves until they complete their mission. To inculcate patience in your troops, avoid issuing orders that specify a time when something must be accomplished. Allow the unit leader to determine his own timeline. This timeline should be driven by tactical considerations, such as the time it takes to move stealthily or to conduct covert surveillance of an objective. The timeline should never be driven by the fact that an exercise must accomplish 13 training objectives in four days.

Stealth and Stalking

Many enlisted infantrymen hunt. Your training should build on the ways they know to hunt. Operating patiently and hunting skills, including stealth and stalking, go hand-in-glove. Light infantry that does not hunt its enemies because it has poor stalking skills are more likely to get ambushed than to ambush. Operating away from the aid of other friendly units, light infantry must rely on superb field skills to survive. To be observed is to invite attack and destruction. A question to ask your men frequently in training is, “Will what you are doing here make you the hunters or the hunted?” The best way to train troops in stealth and stalking is to let the experienced hunters lead and critique the others, regardless of rank. It is likely that there will be several who possess superior fieldcraft. As always, the best way to build these skills is for men to take part in free-play force-on-force exercises. Your troops’ competitive nature will be unleashed and each unit will strive to hunt better than the others because those who have the best stealth and stalking skills will usually win.

Survival Training

Light infantry will often be forced to live off the land. Sometimes, this will mean buying food from local merchants and farmers. But the ability to identify plants and animals that will sustain life should be taught, and these skills should be regularly exercised. Troops should be taught how to purify water from streams and lakes. Light infantry does not depend on bottled water. During exercises, units should not be regularly resupplied. This will increase their ability to live off the land and force them to make do with the items on hand.

Physical Fitness

Light infantrymen require a level of physical fitness that is both greater than and different from their line infantry counterparts. Light infantrymen must be able to march great distances rapidly while carrying mission-essential gear. The minimum sustained march rate is 40 kilometers per day [25 miles]; historically, some light infantry units have sustained rates as high as 70– 80 km daily. Physical fitness events that build such performance should be incorporated into each training exercise. Running is irrelevant and a waste of time. In order for light infantry to be mobile, the gear load must be strictly maintained at no more than 45 pounds. Studies over centuries have shown that weights greater than 45 pounds (total including individual clothing, weapons, and other equipment) rapidly degrades an individual’s ability to march great distances. Not only must light infantrymen be prepared to make long foot movements, they must be prepared to fight once they arrive. There can be no individual exceptions to the weight limit; the unit’s march performance will be that of its slowest member. However, where circumstances permit, light infantry units can and do make use of carts, bicycles, and pack animals to carry heavier loads.

Physical fitness, like the light infantry mindset, is an ongoing training goal. Not only can physical training be a stand-alone event, it should also be part of every activity. Units should march most of the places they go.

[Obviously, we don’t have these….]  Demolitions Train your troops to use demolitions, to the point where they are both comfortable and creative with them. Demolitions are of inestimable use in initiating an ambush and can also be used to destroy enemy equipment following the ambush if it cannot be carried away. During an attack, demolitions can be used to breach enemy obstacles to permit the assault force to penetrate the defense. You should use IEDs better than your enemy uses them against you. The small size of light infantry units and the need to conduct demolitions quickly makes it imperative that every man is trained to conduct them.

Land Navigation

Land navigation is a critical skill for all hunters. Land navigation practice, both day and night, should begin very early in the training program. Each training exercise should consider how to incorporate missions that will challenge and develop land navigation skills in the unit. Unit leaders should ensure that navigation duties are rotated throughout the unit. The issue is not just technical skills. Light infantry need the ability to know instinctively where they are. Electronic land navigation aids work against this. You should train without them. Electronic aids also require batteries. Stocks of batteries add weight and take up space in troops’ packs, not to mention requiring resupply missions that could compromise the unit’s position. Light infantrymen must become expert in land navigation using a map and compass. No electronic aids of any kind should be permitted. Every individual must be made to demonstrate his ability to navigate effectively. Do not allow any of the troops to “hide” and rely on their comrades. Their life or the lives of their friends may one day depend on how well they navigate, particularly at night, which is when light infantry often moves. No light infantryman who lacks an instinctive sense for his location should serve in a leadership position.

Surveillance / Tactical Site Exploitation Light infantry units must be experts in surveillance and must be able to discern the slightest weaknesses in the enemy’s positions or posture. Light infantry tactics rely on exploiting such weaknesses. Troops must also be able to communicate this information clearly and succinctly to others. The ability to draw a quick sketch of the situation is valuable and should be developed in training. Men must also be trained to pick up items of intelligence value following successful attacks or ambushes. Troops must know what to take, how to preserve it, and how to catalog it for later exploitation. They should also be trained to cover the fact that they have found and taken material with intelligence value. Intel the enemy does not know we have is the best kind.

Medical Training

Light infantry units should be taught to treat and care for casualties until they can be evacuated. In some circumstances, evacuation may take several days. Medical training, once taught, should be incorporated into every field exercise. Troops should be forced to treat, transport, and evacuate casualties until doing so is second nature.


Lind, William S.; Thiele, Gregory A. (2015-11-11). 4th Generation Warfare Handbook (Kindle Locations 1222-1231). Castalia House. Kindle Edition.


Popular posts from this blog

BASIC PATROLLING – The Essential Information Applied to NPT Requirements

On 'Boomer' Bashing...