The Reinforced Triangle, or “RT” is one of the most effective defensive formations to use when setting up any base camp, whether conducting a security patrol, on the road during ‘GOOD’, or while in a semi-permanent base of operations being progressively developed in a protected or contested area. It is especially well-suited to progressive position development as described in Principles of Tactical Defense Parts III, IV & V, and once expanded into what would be called a squad or platton sized perimiter, can easily be used as a ‘strong point defense.’
But long before that can happen, you and your team must be able to set up, position within, conceal all positions, provide security, and use the RT without violating any principle of use or criteria. That equates to many repetitions and hours of practice. Here’s the criteria for any perimeter formation:
- An easily learned formation
- 360 Degree Security/Observation
- Interlocking fields of fire
- Mutual Support between positions
- Defense in Depth
- Flexibility to expand or contract as necessary
Granted, there are many ways to skin this cat, so to speak, but many other methods don’t lend themselves to Defense in Depth. You can achieve Mutual Support and Interlocking Fields of Fire, but will need more than a four person NPT to achieve DID (Defense In Depth). This isn’t a new formation, either. Way back in the day this was my unit’s preferred ‘360’, and the one we recommend. Why? Simply it provides all of the above criteria and also fits well into any ‘play book’. It is ideal for use as a single, self-sustaining Patrol Base or “base camp”, and should the situation warrant, can be expanded into a series of RT’s that will provide an almost impenetrable perimeter as it grows and positions are improved into prepared, defensive positions, if the position is to later become a ‘Strong Point.’
As diagramed at the beginning of this post, the strengths of the RT become apparent:
- Each position has the ability to mutually support all others by fire if required.
- No one position is left without a fallback position, whether it is to the center of the RT or one of the remaining points and all positions can provide defensive in depth to any position under pressure.
- 360 degree observation is achieved (positions are & mutual support).
- Distance between positions is flexible (terrain & situation dependent)
- Any position can be developed to hold/house 2 or more team members (each point of the triangle could be developed as a triangle in and of itself).
Moving In – The RT, like most other temporary perimeters, is established by “moving in” from a tactical movement formation by a fire team or larger group. For academic purposes, we’ll keep it at a four member team level and, again for academic purposes, we’ll presume we are moving at night, so we’ll use the file as our formation to move into and set up the RT. (Note: That does not mean the only formation to use is the file; it just best suits night movement most of the time. In terrain that’s open or sparsely covered, other formations may be be better suited; you’ll have to make that call.)
To move in, the FT Leader stops the team and signals what he wants done:
- When each team member moves into his respective positions
- TL takes the center of the RT
- TL check the positions; establish as appropriate tug lines, fall backs, emergency egress rally points, etc.
- If and when to start improving the position (as warranted for the length of the stop – generally a 12 or more hour establishment would justify the establishment of at least hasty fighting positions).
- Hygiene Considerations: All ‘cat hole’ areas should be downwind, down hill (if possible), 30 meters away from the RT, concealed, and not placed near any potable water source.
The team leader places the ‘points’ at the following clock positions by visual signals:
Point 1: 10 O’clock
Point 2: 2 O’clock
Point 3: 6 O’clock
12 O’clock while moving is always the direction of travel; the TL can use that or a landmark he and other team members can easily recognize, area of primary concern, or assigned area of responsibility when setting up the RT. It should be noted that RT doesn’t have a “front”; whatever is used to determine the 12 O’Clock direction is simply providing a baseline used for ease of RT establishment. Defense in Depth is a constant of the RT; a threat from any direction will almost always be able to be engaged by at least 3 of the 4 positions.
Considersations for choosing where to place your RT:
- When choosing position locations, pay attention to natural fire lanes, micro-terrain depressions that will help hide the occupant(s) without disruption of natural lines, and clear line of sight between positions if possible.
- Walk in front of the selected position and view from an opponent’s perspective to find weaknesses.
- If on a hilltop, remember to use the ‘military crest’ as your high point (the highest point on the hill that the entire slope can be covered by fire – typically about 1/4 to 1/3 of the distance from the actual crest to the bottom of the hill or ridge).
- Never choose a position location that has ‘defiladed ground’ (cannot be covered by direct fire) in front of it.
- If possible, employ natural barriers or channels that an enemy would have to surmount to attack your position.
- The RT may not always be in a perfect triangle shape due micro-terrain considerations; make it fit tactical requirements, not the other way round.
Apologies for the poor visibility of the image. Click on the image for a clear view.
Another aspect of the usefulness of the RT is its adaptability for applicants to change from a defensive position to a ‘jump off’ for an offense against an attacker. With rehearsal of a specific play designed by the team leader to change from defense to offfense, the move, executed at the right time (when the attacker least expects it), could change possession of the intiative to the defenders and be the deciding factor on neutralizing the attack.
Bottom line: The RT works!