Ambushes | Ambush | Reconnaissance

Ambushes

By Ashley Hiscock
Some information taken from Brecon Junior Tactics Course/Cadre


INTRODUCTION


Fighting Patrol
Tasked to:

Harass, ambush, attack or create a diversion
It is prepared and equipped to fight.
It is rarely less than two sections with a HQ. A
troop is an ideal size.


AIM
The aim of this lesson is to:

Revise and remind you of the principles and
procedures of ambushes.
This is to help you have more fun on exercise as the
more you know before you go, the more likely you
are to use it.


A Definition
An ambush is a surprise attack made by a force lying in
wait. It is often a short encounter, at short range that
does not require the capture or holding of ground.
Ambushes are valuable in all forms of warfare.
Remember, ambushing requires a high level of self-
discipline, field craft and leadership at all levels, if it is
to be successful.
Men may have to lie in wait for hours, days even, and be
alert and ready to engage and kill the enemy at a
moments notice, in just a few seconds of action.


Ambush Sites
Suitable places for ambush sites include:

Known enemy routes

Enemy withdrawal routes

Enemy positions

Admin areas, supply and water points

Areas of marked vegetation change

Routes to and from our own defensive positions

The withdrawal route from an ambush or attack in case of
an enemy follow up
Remember that if it is obvious to you, it is obvious to the
enemy.


Categories of Ambush
There are two main types of ambush:

Deliberate

Immediate/snap


Deliberate
A Deliberate Ambush is one planned
and executed as a single operation.
There should be time to allow
planning, preparation and rehearsal in
great detail. It may vary in size from a
section sized operation to a major
operation involving a whole Battle
Group.


Immediate/Snap
An Immediate Ambush is one set with a
minimum of planning, either to take
advantage of ‘hot’ information or as a
contact drill by a patrol. Little or no time
will be available for recce and the
amount of success achieved will depend
on the initiative of the commander and
the general discipline and ability of his
men.


Kinds of Ambush
1. Area
2. Basic
Triangular
T-shaped
Linear
There are also short and long term ambushes.
We will look at these in more detail later.


Principles of Ambushes
1. Good intelligence
2. Planning, reconnaissance and rehearsals
3. Security
4. Concealment
5. Good Control
6. Simple Plan
7. Simple order to start ambush
8. Maximum fire power
9. Battle discipline at all levels constantly


Good Intelligence
For good intelligence you need good sources.
For example:
2. Patrol reports or logs
3. Knowledge of the area
4. Surveillance devices
5. Military intelligence devices


Planning, Reconnaissance,
Rehearsals
Study the enemy through OPs, CTRs etc so that you may
know his habits, tactics and anti-ambush drills and use
this to your advantage.
Detailed and thorough reconnaissance
Ensure that everyone is confident with their actions
Rehearse EVERYTHING properly at all levels
Ensure testing of weapons and proper preparation of
equipment takes place at all levels also


Security
Too much reconnaissance and movement in the
area could alert the enemy to your position.
Use the cover of darkness as much as possible
Plan for the enemy follow up after the ambush
Never occupy old ambush sites


Concealment
Avoid leaving signs or tracks in the ambush
area, especially enemy approach routes
Avoid cutting foliage to get a good field of fire
Ensure good personal camouflage at all levels
Smoking, cooking etc all forbidden


Good Control
All personnel must KNOW the intricate details of the plan
and where other groups are situated.
Clear signals must be known by all for “open fire”,
“searchers”, “cease fire” and “withdraw”
Control can be easily lost if the enemy are too strong for
the ambush. So all members of the ambush must
know:
1. Location of the FRV
2. Withdrawal routes to the FRV
3. Order of withdrawal
4. Actions at the FRV


Simple plan for springing the
Ambush
The ambush should be sprung by the commanders of the groups,
however, any man can open fire if he thinks an enemy has seen
the ambush.
The signal to spring the ambush may be:
An aimed burst from an automatic weapon controlled by the
commander
The controlled explosion of a claymore
Aimed burst from commanders weapon
There must be at least three kinds of initiation to cover all
eventualities. Also using a claymore may obscure the target area.


Maximum use of firepower
Site LSWs and automatic weapons to make best
use of flat trajectory and long beaten zone.
Remember the automatic capabilities of weapons
but try to conserve ammunition
Fire from weapons must be immediate upon
springing the ambush.


Battle Discipline
There must be no noise and minimum movement at the
site
Everyone must be on hard routine, i.e. no smoking, no
talking, cold rations
High standard of alertness at all times
Quick reaction to signals and orders
Weapons must be ready at all times to engage the enemy
at short/no notice


Types of Ambush
Basic ambush:
Triangular-this gives good flank protection, all round
defence, though it restricts the size of the killing group
and has no early warning system.
‘T’ Shape-This allows a larger killing group with good
flank protection, though there is no early warning system
Linear-This gives a large size killing group with early
warning provided by cut off groups, rear protection can
be added by adding a rear protection group


Types of Ambush-Cont
Area ambush
When there is more than one approach, a string of basic
ambushes must be set up to cover these approaches,
this is called an area ambush. An area commander
must ensure:
That each group is positioned in the correct place
That each group knows the location of all the other
groups
There is no risk of groups been in another groups
fire arcs.


Short/Long Term Ambushes
A short term ambush is one that is set up for less
than 12 hours. It requires no special
administration apart from rest within the group.
Any ambush that is set up for more than 12 hours
is called a long term ambush. Special
arrangements must be made for feeding, rest,
relief and sometimes even sleep.


Long Term Ambushes
An ambush base must be set up, this may take
the form of a harbour area. It should be close
enough to the ambush site to keep transfers
relatively easy and quick, however, it must not
be too close so that noise and smell can give
the position away to the enemy. It must be
defended and have a nominated, dedicated
commander.


Long Term Ambushes-Cont
Routes from the base to the ambush site must be clear to enable the
reliefs to be carried out silently and quickly. Only one group should
be changed at a time to enable control and defence at all times.
This system should be rehearsed and all group members should
know the time and method of their relief.
A long term ambush may be divided into three parties. One in the
ambush position, one in reserve or cover party and one in the rest
area. This provides a rested party for the ambush area and a strong
cover party.
At troop level this may not work, resulting in three parties to tired to do
work properly. It may work better with two parties, one at the
ambush site and one ready to provide cover but resting at the same
time.


Long Term Ambushes-Cont 2
Because of security concerns you may not be
able to cook. In these conditions you will be on
“hard routine”. Commanders must ensure that
all food taken on the operation is able to be
eaten cold. You may have to prepare for water
patrols or carry in water that you want to use.


Triangular
With base line towards the enemy.


Triangular
With point towards enemy


T-Shaped


Linear Ambush-Rear Protection


Linear Ambush


Area Ambush


Organisation of an Ambush Party
All ambush parties are sub-divided to form their
own groups with their own commanders. The
type of group required and strength required will
depend upon the enemy and terrain. At troop
level you may have in the ambush party of a
linear ambush:
1. A Killing Group
2. A Cut Off/Stop Group
3. A rear protection party


Killing Group
Task
To cover the chosen ambush site and to spring the
ambush.
Size
Up to three fire teams. More may be used depending on
the requirements of other groups.
Composition
The ambush commander and a high proportion of
automatic weapons. LSWs should fire from a defilade
position rather than straight across the killing area.


Cut off Groups
Tasks
To give early warning of enemy approach.
To stop enemy escaping the killing area.
To give flank protection to the killing group.
Size
Fire team size is ideal.
Composition
It should be commanded by an NCO ideally. If it has a view
of the killing ground that LSWs may be sited here as a
defilade position.


Rear Protection/Cover Group
Tasks
To give protection to the rear and flanks of the killing group.
To act as an immediate reserve if required.
To supply light as dictated by the commander.
Size
From four to seven men dependant on the Troop strength
Composition
The Tp/Sgt should command this group. He is in charge of
the 51mm mortar for illumination and hand held flares.


The Five Phases
The ambush is a fighting patrol, so battle
procedure is similar to any normal fighting
patrol.
In the execution paragraph of NATO orders for
ambushes there are five phases. These are:
3. Action in the FRV (initial recce)
4. Occupation
5. Routine (if required)
6. Action on enemy
7. Withdrawal


Action in the FRV (Initial Recce)
The recce group consists of the Tp Cdr, the radio operator,
the commanders of all the groups and the sentries of the
cut offs, who will remain in place throughout the recce
and occupation.
The troop commander should site each group in detail
starting with the killing group. Considerations are
position of killing area, sighting of killing positions, site in
pairs, siting of flares/lights, alternate positions for night or
poor vis.
The considerations for cut off groups and flank protection is
similar. For the rear protection group particular attention
must be paid to 51mm mortar and hand held illuminants.
The routes between groups must be cleared and comms
cord laid between cut off groups and killing group.


Occupation
The troop commander returns to the FRV to brief people of any
changes to the plan.
The order of march should be rear protection, cut offs, then killing
group. Whoever is commanding the rear cut off should know the
layout of the ambush very well.
Before further work it is very advisable to lie silently for a few minutes
to see if you can see or hear enemy activity.
Next you must lay out claymores, lights, flares and comms cord if not
yet done.
Once the commander is happy that the work is done he may signal
“ambush set”. This could be as simple as the commander moving
from group to group passing on the news. On this command men
are to cease activity, move their safety catches to fire and settle
down.


Action on Enemy
The enemy’s approach should have been seen by the cut off group so that
the ambush will be completely ready for their arrival in the killing area.
The approach of the enemy may be made aware to the killing group be
comms cord, radio or line. But be aware that all these methods may
also alert the enemy.
The ambush can be sprung by a controlled burst by a commanders
automatic weapon, or pyro, flare etc, make sure you know all the pros
and cons before you decide on anything.
If the ambush is to be sprung at night consider light carefully. Flares may
blow smoke over the target area and obscure it, also do not forget the
illumination from illuminating 51mm mortar rounds.
Signals must be known by all and delivered clearly. So there are no
miscalculations.
If searchers are to be used it must be rehearsed and planned carefully.
They will exit from the least vulnerable point and travel in pairs. They
must be loud when searching and maintain communication.
Consider actions on for all eventualities, e.g. enemy in killing area without
warning, enemy springs ambush on you, comes from flanks etc


Withdrawal
There are several different types of withdrawal:

Ambush not sprung

Enemy not following up

Enemy following up


Ambush Not Sprung
You will withdraw without springing the ambush
either by time expiry or by radio message.
The sequence of withdrawal will be opposite to the
occupation sequence. Care must be taken to
withdraw all stores etc and cover up all signs of
occupation.


Enemy Not Following Up
If the ambush has been sprung and the enemy is
destroyed the withdrawal needs to be slick and
quick. There should be chance to gather up all
stores before moving off.


Enemy Following Up
If the enemy is vigorous in his anti-ambush drills or much
stronger than anticipated then the withdrawal must be
well controlled and very aggressive.
The ambush must use everything at its disposal to slow
the enemy before breaking contact. This may entail
groups using fire and movement, the firing of any
remaining claymores or flares to add to the confusion.
The use of mortars and artillery to hit the enemy is
advisable.
The action in the FRV should be a quick head check
before moving off. It may be desirable to put in a snap
or immediate ambush to catch any enemy following up.


Causes of failure
There are many causes of failure. These can
include:

Noise

Poor camouflage, careful approach

Movement

Plenty more


Noise

Cocking Weapons

Movement of Safety Catches

Careless use of radios

Human noises, coughing, talking, urination etc

Mess tins, waterbottles filling etc


Poor Camouflage/Approach

Using tracks for the approach

Crossing tracks within the ambush area

Too much cutting of foliage to obtain fields of
fire

General poor camouflage, think of the basics

Lots of the causes of failure for an ambush also
apply to the approach


Movement

By individuals

Relief parties

Energetic tugging on the comms cord


Others

Bad sitting of commanders

The enemy arriving unexpectedly

Signal for opening fire unclear causing a slow
start to the ambush

Premature fire

Tendency to select the same target

Tendency to aim high

Misfires and stoppages on key weapons

Poor fire control


Other Types of Ambush

Anti armour. Normally of section strength,
obviously tasked to take out armoured
vehicles and tanks

A-Type Ambushes. These are explosive
ambushes that are triggered by command or
mechanical means. Normally deployed in the
jungle or other remote locations.


ANY QUESTIONS?


A
A
GURKHA
GURKHA
AMBUSH
AMBUSH
IN
IN
BORNEO
BORNEO

A
A
GURKHA
GURKHA
AMBUSH
AMBUSH
IN
IN
BORNEO
BORNEO

Sketch of Ambush Site
Border
N
N
Rubber &
Secondary
Jungle
Batul Intang
Sungei Tampan


1400 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m

Sketch of Ambush Site
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
KILLING AREA
Batul Intang
Pl HQ
Sungei Tampan


+
1735 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Border
Rear
Protection


Sketch of Ambush Site
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
O

O

O
O

+
O

O

O

1810 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Rear
Protection


LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Sketch of Ambush Site
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
O

O

O
O

+
O

O

O

O

O

O
O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

1812 hrs
Rear
Protection


LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Sketch of Ambush Site
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
O

O

O
O

+
O

O

O

O

O

O
O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

1812 hrs
Rear
Protection


Sketch of Ambush Site
° C
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
°
°
°
C
C
°
°
C
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
C
C
O

O

O
O

+
1815 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Rear
Protection


Sketch of Ambush Site
° C
ÞÞ
Þ Þ Þ Þ
Þ
Þ
Þ
N
N
°
°
°
C
C
°
°
C
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
C
C
O

O

O
O

+
1825 hrs
O
O O

O O
O
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Rear
Protection


Sketch of Ambush Site
° C

N
N
°
°
°
C
C
°
°
C
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
C
C
O

O

O
O

N
O
O O

O O
O
1830 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m

Sketch of Ambush Site
° C

N
N
°
°
°
C
C
°
°
C
Pl Base
Sungei Tampan
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
C
C
O

O
O

N
O
O O
O O

O
1900 hrs
O

LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Border

Sketch of Ambush Site
New Position
°

N
N
°
°
°
°
°
°
°
°
Batul Intang
Sungei Tampan
2300 hrs
LEGEND
Þ Gurkha Position
E Redeployment
N LMG
° Killed Enemy
C Wounded Enemy
O Other Enemy
7 Killing Area Limits
7 Limit of observation
Enemy Mor Bombs
--- Track
0 20 40m
Border

Lessons Learnt
This was a difficult ambush to set up, though none are easy. As a
member of a team and a group you must always try to use all your
tactical knowledge and skills. A lot of the drills used here were not
by the book, though the ambush eventually ended well. They came
out of this with several lessons learnt:
• Time spent on reconnaissance (3 hours) is never wasted.
• The positioning of the rear protection group to cover the most
exposed arc
• The ambush was sprung with maximum enemy in the killing area
• The platoon remained in position after the ambush to achieve
“second shots” and waited until the morning to search the bodies,
though this cannot always be recommended.
• The use of pre-recorded artillery DF
• The high standard of shooting, despite poor weather and the jungle
itself all 11 men in the killing area were killed and more who tried to
attack from the left flank.


ANY QUESTIONS?


SUMMARY

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