Re-Post: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part IV: Sectors and Fields of Fire and Position Types

Originally posted 2 Mar 14.

Last time we finished off with camouflaging your position, especially from the air in this day and age (drones, and all that), and one of the illustrations had some character sitting up half-way in his hole.  Probably for artistic effect, but to be fair, all entrances to prepared positions are in the rear of the position, and therefore, not necessarily under OPFOR observation.

Now we’ll start with Sectors of Fire.

A sector of fire is simply those areas into which you must observe and be able to effectively fire.  When you either choose or are given a position to develop a prepared position, you, or your NPT buddy or NPT leader should help you or flat out give you a primary and secondary sector of fire.  The primary sector of fire will be to the oblique of your position, and the secondary sector of fire is to the front.   A field of fire to the oblique lets you hit the attackers from an unexpected angle. It also lets you support the positions next to you. Having an oblique as a primary sector of fire makes sure that your fire interlocks with the fire of any other positions also developed. That helps create a wall of fire that the ‘apocalypse zombie death squad’ must pass through.  We call it, “mutual support” and “defense in depth,” so while it might sound backwards, it’s not, because your front is covered by someone else’s oblique.  There’s a little psychological advantage to having someone covering your front and you theirs:  Human nature will cause the OPFOR detail to stay keenly focused on the position directly in front of them, should they observe it and decide to attack it.  They might so focused, that they miss the one to your left and right, and then become so much hamburger.  Or so that’s how they taught us way back in the day.   Simple, right?

Here’s another text-book illustration:

Field Fort 6

Now that we’ve got the sector of fire down, we need to look at our ‘field of fire’.  The Field of Fire is simply that area that you will be shooting into, and what obstructions are within that area that would stop you from killing your apocalypse zombie attacker, also known from his ‘undead’ perspective, as ‘cover’.  You must do everything you can to either get rid of any useful cover, or have the ‘dead space’ (area that you can’t shoot into) covered by someone else who can shoot into it, or, if you have it because you took it off other ‘apocalypse zombies’ that you killed, grenades or better yet, mines.   That’s a subject for another time, however.

Here’s some important tips for clearing your field of fire:

  • Do not disclose your position by careless or too much clearing.
  • Leave a thin, natural screen of vegetation to hide your position.
  • Cut off lower branches of large, scattered trees in sparsely wooded areas.
  • Clear underbrush only where it blocks your view.
  • Remove cut brush, limbs, and weeds so the enemy will not spot them.
  • Cover cuts on trees and bushes forward of your position with mud, dirt, or snow.
  • Leave no trails as clues for the dreaded ‘apocalypse zombie’ enemy.

Now, remember a few minutes ago when you read that your secondary sector of fire is to the front?  Well, you need to ensure you have a field of fire that will match the effective range of your platform when balanced against the terrain you’re digging into is cleared also.  Lots of work when you think about it, but as the old saying goes, “many hands make light work.”  Here’s another illustration:

You CAN fire to the front without exposing yourself if you've constructed a good position.

You CAN fire to the front without exposing yourself if you’ve constructed a good position.

Ok, we’ve gone over some of the general principles of digging in, and now we’ll start with my favorite:  The ‘Hasty’ position, from which all progressively developed prepared defensive positions are born.  We’ll also go over a trick that makes them bad for the ‘apocalypse zombie hoard’ if you have to leave in a hurry to avoid being overrun.   After that, we’ll start with the various types of positions and tricks that make you stay alive longer when you’re in them.  Always remember one thing, though, about any position you dig:  It’s a tool to fight from, not hide in.

Ok, when you have little time for preparation, or when you’re not going to be in a position for very long, but could be, or you believe you could possibly be attacked before you move, the smart thing to do is build a hasty fighting position. It should be behind whatever cover is available. It should give frontal cover from enemy direct fire but allow firing to the front and the oblique. The term hasty does not mean that there is no digging by any means. If there is a natural hole or ditch available, use it. If not, dig a prone shelter that will give some protection from incoming rounds. The hole should be about 18 to 20 inches deep. Use the dirt from the hole to build cover around the edge of the position.   When it’s determined you’re going to be in the position for an extended period (24 hours or more), then you ‘progressively develop’ your position into a prepared defensive position as time and the mission allows.

It’s also very, very smart to not dig your hasty like a shallow grave, either.  Don’t do the square sides thing if you have a position to your rear that is elevated to any degree whatsoever or that can seen into your position if the rear ‘wall’ were not there.  The reason is simply this: If you have to fall back to a position to your rear, you don’t want to provide cover for OPFOR, right?  So, you dig it an angle, like the following illustration demonstrates (you’ll notice an arrow with ‘FDP’ in it.  All that means is ‘Final Defensive Position’ aka ‘The Very Last Place You Can Run Before Your Ass Is Overrun’).

Diagram by 'Treaded' at 'The Lizard Farmer'

Diagram by ‘Treaded’ at ‘The Lizard Farmer’

The beauty of this modification is that you are still provided cover against the ‘apocalypse zombie hoard’ trying to kill you, while they are not, should they occupy your position one way or another.

Now we can talk about all the other developments that come from your Hasty Fighting Position.  We’ll start with the One Man Prepared Defensive Position.

In a word, they suck.  Why?  Because you’ve go nobody to back you up.  If you have to leave the position for any reason, unless someone takes your place, it’s wide open and you don’t know what’s happened in front of it while you were away.  It could cause you to be a ‘Sad Panda.’  On the positive side, digging them takes about half the time, because you’re doing it for you and you alone.  “Hey,” you think.  “There weren’t two guys in the Hasty position!”  That’s very true, but your hasty can be re-sited next to one of your group members who dug their hasty in a better location in terms of fields of fire, cover, and concealment, or vice versa.   Point of the matter is, if you have a choice, always site and dig two person positions.  Especially if you’re going to be in the same location for an extended period.  It makes life a lot easier.

The Two Man Position:   When setting up a prepared defense, such as one you would be in if you were using a ‘Reinforced Triangle’ as noted in Part II, you’ll need 8 people for 4 positions.  Remember the following tips:

  • Keep the hole small as possible. The smaller the hole, the less likely it is that rounds, grenades, or airburst fragments will get into it. It should be large enough for you and your buddy in full combat gear.
  • It should extend beyond the edges of the frontal cover enough to let you and your buddy observe and fire to the front.

The hole is usually dug straight, but it may be curved around the frontal cover. Curving the hole around the frontal cover may be necessary in close terrain to allow better observation and fire to the front and to the next flank position. To curve the hole, simply extend one or both ends of it around the frontal cover.Field Fort 9- 2012

Next time we’ll get into the actual construction and various things you can do to provide ‘all the comforts of home’…..well….sort of.

8 thoughts on “Re-Post: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part IV: Sectors and Fields of Fire and Position Types

  1. Pingback: DTG: Principles of Tactical Defense – Part V: Fully Prepared Positions and Improvements | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. Defensive Training Group Post author

    If I’m correct on the diagram you’re referring to, now that I know where the modified Hasty came from, I’d like to credit you in the caption to the illustration. That was a superb improvement! How would you like to be noted? “Treaded” or “LF Mayor”?

  3. Treaded

    Don’t sweat it, I’m just glad to see it’s still being used. FYI – LF Mayor is a completely different person. Keep up the great work.

  4. Pingback: Defensive Formations: | The Defensive Training Group

  5. Pingback: Nine Months: Principles Of Tactical Defense | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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