Topic: Drill and Training
Fundamental Principles and General Directions Governing the Training of Infantry.
Training Circular No. 5, Infantry Training; [US] Army War College, August, 1918.
10. (a) Discipline. Modern war as now carried on in Europe, requires of infantry the greatest discipline obtainable. The failure of men to carry out their orders implicitly in an attack means unnecessary heavy losses, if not absolute failure. It is found that only thoroughly disciplined troops can carry out a modern attack where every step must be taken in accordance with: a careful schedule. The first great step then in fitting infantry troops for service abroad is to inculcate this spirit of discipline.
This can be done:
(1) By every officer setting a proper example for those below him in rank of promptly and cheerfully obeying orders and regulations, by a careful and exact performance of every duty and by exacting the same of all subordinates.
(2) Dress and military courtesies: If men are allowed to be sloppy and untidy in dress, slipshod and careless about rendering courtesies, the military spirit is lost and the command remains undisciplined.
(3) Precision and snap in drill: This must be insisted on. Movements must be executed exactly as prescribed. For example, in executing right front into line from column of squads, it must be insisted that the corporal so conduct his squad that it comes exactly to its place without closing in after halting; that the command halt is given as a foot strikes the ground; that pieces all come down together, etc. All other movements must be executed with the same precision,.
Never allow a movement to drag; "snap" is necessary; increase rather than decrease the cadence. Most close order drill is for disciplinary purposes. If done with precision and snap the object is attained; if not, the more you have of it the worse the command. Men become confirmed in doing things only approximately as told.
(4) Leaders must know their work. There must be no hesitation, commands must be given correctly and with snap. Leaders must treat all subordinates with courtesy, correct reasonable mistakes without harshness, give clear and reasonable explanations, show men how. When men fail through persistent carelessness, inattention or willfulness, then use as drastic measures as necessary. Leaders must insist that all subordinates do their work properly, but they must set the example themselves.
(5) Cultivate esprit de corps, pride in the organization, and in the subdivisions even to the smallest. Competitive contests between smaller units are of great advantage.
(b) The ultimate object of all instruction being field service efficiency, field maneuvers and field firing should be considered as the culmination of previous training and the test of its thoroughness.
(c) The efficiency of the squad, including its leader, is the basis of efficiency and this efficiency in turn depends on the thoroughness of the training of individual members of this unit.
(d) The efficiency of every command depends on the efficiency of the units or teams composing it. As each team in a large command must be under the direct control of its immediate chief, it is evident that such chief should have all possible charge of the instruction of his team. (Footnoted — 1 Officers must, however, because of the inexperience of the great majority attention to individual of the noncommissioned officers, give personal instruction and to that of the squad and platoon, in order that the training may proceed along right lines and due progress be made.) Authority and responsibility should exist in equal degree. From such a system there should result not only suitable instruction of the, team, but also comradeship among the individual members, pride in the team as a unit and that confidence and habit of command on the part of the leader so necessary to efficient leadership.
(e) Drill movements are of two general classes—first, drills of precision and, second, maneuver and combat exercises.
The precise movements of the manual of arms and close-order, drillare not for the purpose of teaching men how to get about on the battle field. They will hardly be used there at all. One of the principal objects is to train the soldiers' minds and bodies to habits of precise, unhesitating obedience to the will of the leader, so that in the stress of battle they will obey without conscious effort, mechanically, automatically, as the easiest and most natural line of action.
Maneuver and combat exercises are intended for instruction in the proper handling of troops in campaign and on the battle field. There should be rigid adherence to orders and instructions. It is hardly possible properly to conduct a drill or exercise without special forethought and preparation for that particular drillor exercise. After each drill or exercise the specific work for the next one should be announced, so that leaders may have time to prepare themselves.
The drill or exercise should be made interesting, not only by variety, which is necessary in order not to exhaust the soldier's attention by straining it too long on ofie subject, but also by comments on the part of leaders, continued throughout the drill and directed toward those elements whose performance is unusually good or bad.
(f) There must be a definite and progressive plan and schedule of instruction. Every course of instruction should embrace certain definitely prescribed subjects and be for a definite period in order to unify instruction, prevent unnecessary repetition and use the available time to the best advantage. On the completion of the prescribed course of theoretical instruction all study should not cease, but sufficient post-graduate work should follow to broaden the student's professional horizon and keep him in touch. with new methods and ideas.
(g) Officers and non-commissioned officers of each grade should be competent to take up the duties of the next higher grade. Military efficiency can only be attained through competent and instructed officers arid non-commissioned officers.
(h) Lectures are valuable aids in military training. Those to enlisted men should be about one-half hour long; to officers they may be longer. The number of lectures on any particular subject will depend upon its nature. They should be delivered by those specially qualified on the particular subjects. The lecture meetings should be as informal as is consistent with discipline,' questions and discussions should be arranged. The appropriate use of maps, diagrams and illustrations, including moving pictures, is advantageous.