Lab Week 9 – Ambush
Seneca Battalion took to the woods this week to practice the art of the ambush.
There are several types of ambushes applicable to the myriad of tactical situations that a platoon can find itself in; the three taught at the lab were linear, L-shaped, and V-shaped ambushes. All three are primarily focused on attacking roads that enemy forces use as high-speed avenues of approach and egress on the battlefield.
The linear ambush is a single formation of soldiers parallel with the road; it is the fastest and simplest type of ambush to set up. Often it is used along a long, straight road where there is a ditch or some other form of cover that allows the unit to hide nearby. An L Shaped ambush is used at a sharp bend in the road, where the unit can open fire and assault from two different angles. A V-shaped ambush is used when there is no cover next to the road and soldiers have to lay in concealment farther out, firing from a greater range at an angle which prevents friendly fire.
While there are many different formations for an ambush, the concept is the same. The intent of an ambush, whether it is executed at the squad or platoon level, is to catch the enemy off guard and destroy them as quickly as possible. Once the unit is at the Objective Rally Point, or ORP, the squad or platoon leader will move out with a small security detachment and execute a leader’s recon on the ambush area, deciding the type of ambush that the unit will perform. The leader will place security on the flanks and bring the rest of the unit up, placing them evenly between the flank security teams to focus fire on a particular point, the kill zone. Once the soldiers are in place the leader will set up a mass-casualty producing weapon, such as a Claymore anti-personnel mine, M-240B machine gun or AT-4 rocket launcher.
Once the enemy has entered the kill zone the leader will initiate the ambush with that mass-casualty producing weapon and start what is known as the “mad minute” – where the entire unit opens fire on the enemy in the kill zone for several seconds until they are all down. Then the unit will move onto the road and quickly secure the area, collect enemy weapons and intelligence, call up to higher command, and destroy the enemy weapons in place as they move off of the objective.
Seneca Battalion broke into squads and practiced executing these ambushes in the woods behind St. Bonaventure, using MS II cadets as squad leaders in an effort to prepare them to be leaders for the next two years as well as to prepare them to lead their own tactical lanes at Leadership Training Exercises in the future.