One of our frontline leaders felt that it was better to enter the lower floors of buildings so that, if necessary, the building could be burned from the bottom; he was doubtless bearing in mind that the enemy could do the same if our troops were above. This platoon leader found also that after the ground floor was captured, a few AP shots (from an Ml or BAR) upward through the floors would usually bring remaining enemy down with hands in the air. “When the enemy held out in a basement, a well-tamped charge of TNT on the floor above usually proved effective.”
THE FOUR Fs
To win combat in World War II, squad leaders learned to distill tactics down to its basic elements. These basic elements are the four Fs: find, fix, flank, and finish the enemy.
Find the enemy first: Finding the enemy first gives a squad a tremendous tactical advantage while blundering into an enemy is certain destruction. To find the enemy first, the squad leader must scout, or send, a team to check the ground before moving into potentially unsafe territory. A cardinal rule of squad tactics is to always engage the enemy on your terms, not his.
Fix the enemy with fire: Once the squad leader has found the enemy, he must quickly decide what to do next. In combat, a squad leader must use his understanding of the terrain, the team leaders’ reports, and his knowledge of the enemy to make a tactical decision. The object is to deny the enemy freedom of maneuver by placing heavy and accurate fire on the enemy to pin him down.
Flank the enemy: Finding, forcing, and hitting the enemy’s most vulnerable flank provides the squad with a battle-winning advantage. While a fire team suppresses the enemy, the squad leader leads an assault team to hit the enemy’s flank. If the enemy appears to be too strong, the squad leader can withdraw the assault team and try another tactical approach. If the enemy seems weak, the squad leader might hold the assault team in position to suppress the enemy, fixing him with the team’s fire, while he maneuvers his fire team to a position of advantage. Once you’ve hit the enemy’s flank, he is “placed on the horns of a dilemma” because he is now receiving deadly fire from two separate directions. Finding a flank, or creating one, is the essence of World War II tactics and the central art to winning in combat.
Finish the enemy: The battle is not won until the enemy is finished off. As the fire team continues to suppress the enemy, the assault team maneuvers to destroy or capture the foe. Grenades, submachine guns, and carbines are the weapons of choice for the assault. As the assault team closes with the enemy, the fire team should shift fire to stop the enemy from moving away.
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"Combat Lessons, Number 6: Street Fighting", from Hell's Highway: The True Story of the 101st Airborne Division During Operation Market Garden, September 17-25, 1944 by John Antal.