--Squad Formations


2-73. The term squad formation refers to the relative locations of the fire teams. Squad formations include the squad column, the squad line, and squad file. Table 2-3 compares squad formations.

Table 2-3. Comparison of squad formations.

Comparison of squad formations


2-74. The squad leader adjusts the squad’s formation as necessary while moving, primarily through the three movement techniques. The squad leader exercises mission command primarily through the two team leaders and moves in the formation where he can best achieve this. The squad leader is responsible for 360-degree security, for ensuring the team’s sectors of fire are mutually supporting, and for being able to rapidly transition the squad upon contact.

2-75. The squad leader designates one of the fire teams as the base fire team. The squad leader controls the squad’s speed and direction of movement through the base fire team while the other team and attachments cue their movement off the base fire team. This concept applies when not in contact and when in contact with the enemy.

2-76. Weapons from the weapons squad (a medium machine gun or a Javelin) may be attached to the squad for movement or throughout the operation. These high value assets need to be positioned so they are protected and can be quickly brought into the engagement when required. Ideally, these weapons should be positioned so they are between the two fire teams.


2-77. The squad column is the squad’s main formation for movement unless preparing for an assault. (See figure 2-9.) It provides good dispersion both laterally and in-depth without sacrificing control. It also facilitates maneuver. The lead fire team is the base fire team. Squads can move in either a column wedge or a modified column wedge. Rough terrain, poor visibility, and other factors can require the squad to modify the wedge into a file for control purposes. As the terrain becomes less rugged and control becomes easier, the Soldiers resume their original positions.

Squad column, fire teams in wedge

Figure 2-9. Squad column, fire teams in wedge.


2-78. The squad line provides maximum firepower to the front and is used to assault or as a pre-assault formation. (See figure 2-10.) To execute the squad line, the squad leader designates one of the teams as the base team. The other team cues its movement off the base team. This applies when the squad is in close combat as well. From this formation, the squad leader can employ any of the three movement techniques or conduct fire and movement.

Squad line

Figure 2-10. Squad line.


2-79. The squad file has the same characteristics as the fire team file has. (See figure 2-11.) In the event the terrain is severely restrictive or extremely close, teams within the squad file also may be in file. This disposition is not optimal for enemy contact, but provides the squad leader with maximum control. He increases control over the formation moving forward to the first or second position. Moving forward enables him to exert greater morale presence by leading from the front, and to be immediately available to make vital decisions. Moving a team leader to the last position can provide additional control over the rear of the formation.

Squad file

Figure 2-11. Squad file.


2-80. The weapons squad is not a rifle squad and should not be treated as such. During tactical movement the platoon leader has one of two options when it comes to positioning the weapons squad. The weapons squad can either travel as a separate entity, or can be broken up and distributed throughout the formation. The advantage to keeping the weapons squad together is the ability to quickly generate a support by fire and gain fire superiority under the direction of the weapons squad leader. The disadvantage to this approach is the lack of redundancy throughout the formation. The advantage to distributing the weapons squad throughout the rifle squads is the coverage afforded to the entire formation. The disadvantage is losing the weapons squad leader as a single mission command element and time required reassembling the weapons squad if needed.

2-81. When the weapons squad travels dispersed, it can either be attached to squads or attached to the essential leaders like the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and weapons squad leader. There is no standard method for its employment. Rather, the platoon leader places the weapons using two criteria: ability to quickly generate fire superiority, and protection for high value assets.

2-82. Like the rifle squad, the weapon squad, when traveling as a squad, uses either a column or line formation. Within these formations, the two sections can be in column or line formation.

Watch the following video to learn more about Squad Formations and Movement Techinques.