I truly believe that all Army Small Unit Leaders should familiarize themselves with FM 7-8. This Field Manual provides a comprehensive overview of the Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. Regardless of our MOS or Officer Branch, we are all soldiers first. That means we need to be proficient with Warrior Training Tasks such as map reading, the call for fire, weapons qualification and first aid. In addition, we also need to know how to function as a basic infantry unit. We should know how to defend our area, conduct an attack, perform security operations, etc.
Since the Global War on Terrorism began, the battlefield has changed. Convoys get ambushed, bases get attacked, and many “non combat arms units’ experience combat first hand. In most cases, the enemy does not attack our tanks and infantry. Instead, they attack our combat support and combat service support units. As a result, these small unit leaders must be prepared and must be proficient with the basic infantry tactics. That way they can defend themselves and stay alive.
FM 7-8 is quite perhaps the most important “tactical” guide for small unit leaders. Although it is typically designed for Infantry leaders serving as Squad Leaders, Platoon Sergeants and Platoon Leaders, the information will benefit ALL leaders. It doesn’t matter if you are a Squad Leader in a Finance Unit, or a Platoon Sergeant in a Mess Section, you should have a basic understanding of the tactics in FM 7-8 (for the reasons mentioned above).
It provides a wide array of information about.
- Infantry Doctrine
- Battle Drills
- Infantry Platoon Standard Operating Procedures
- Urban Operations
- And More!
You will learn how to conduct an attack, lead a defense, conduct a raid, provide security operations, types of tactical formations, fire support, techniques of fire, patrols, and so much more. Once again, this information is important to know. In combat, you never know what will happen. Your unit/section might get attacked or ambushed. If that happens, you need to know how to attack/defend so you can protect yourself. Once again, we are soldiers first.
Although FM 7-8 is more than 400 pages long, you should keep a copy in your leader library. When possible, you should train your unit/section on these basic tasks. Incorporate this training into your scheduled training, into Annual Training, into your OPD/NCODP Program, and other training events that you can think of. Remember, every leader needs to know how to perform these tasks.
This “Infantry” training does not need to be your primary training focus. But you should spend some time learning these things. Make sure you schedule some time in your training plan to focus on the basic soldier skills, individual tasks and battle drills. Teach your soldiers how to be proficient soldiers first, and then teach them to do their MOS job.
In conclusion, FM 7-8 is the basic Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. It’s a thorough field manual outlining the roles and responsibilities of infantry units at the platoon level and lower. Whether you lead an Infantry Platoon or not, you should familiarize yourself with FM 7-8 and teach your soldiers the basic battle drills, so they can properly defend themselves in combat.
When was the last time you read through FM 7-8? When was the first time? We are soldiers first and that means we need to be proficient at the infantry basics. What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions? Please post them below. Thank you.