Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review - Light Infantry Tactics for Small Teams

BookLight Infantry Tactics for Small Teams by Christopher E. Larsen (2005). (Amazon link here). The book is soft-cover, and 234 pages.

Overview: As the title indicates, this is a book intended to convey basic skills, procedures, methods and tactics for a small military or para-military team. The books is divided into six (6) sections: (i) individual competencies (i.e., basic skills for team member), (ii) leadership competencies (i.e., basic skills for the team or squad leader), (iii) patrolling methods, (iv) defensive procedures, (v) offensive operations, (vi) and appendices (essentially miscellaneous information that didn't fit in the other sections).

Impression: This book is for small teams--4 to 10 people--operating in a rural environment (although many of the basic skills would carry over to urban operations). It presumes basic firearms skills, and focuses solely on the team skills.

As some of the reviewers on Amazon indicate (and not too nicely, I will add), it essentially lays out materials covered in various military manuals, and is very basic information. However, that is actually its strength--it presents in a single book basic information for use in a small unit that you would otherwise have to track down from multiple sources; some being so basic that they are easily overlooked. In other words, this book is the start of a journey to learn military small unit tactics.

I think the book would be of interest to several groups of people: military reenactors, paint-ball or airsoft enthusiasts, military historians/history buffs who want a better understanding of how modern small units actually operate, people that like to critique movies and books on their poor tactics, and anyone interesting in training or preparing to defend a retreat or small town with a small group of people. Although those with Infantry or Marine training would find the book too basic, it provides a good text for training those without the basic background and skills. And, since the author worked in providing basic training to Iraqi troops, that is the fundamental purpose of the book.

Although the book does not cover teams large enough to be using heavy weapons and most support weapons, it does presume the use of squad automatic weapons (light machine guns for everyone else). Obviously, if you were thinking of using the book to assist with training, you may have to adjust for the difference.

Most of the photographs are clear and detailed enough to show what the author is trying to convey, although it would have been nice if some of the photographs pertaining to camouflage had been in color. Interestingly, most of the photographs are of civilian reenactors (I presume) handling AKs and SKS carbines.

The diagrams are somewhat poor quality, being either crude computer diagrams or enlargements of diagrams from military manuals. However, they are more than sufficient to convey the information that is intended.

Notable Points: There are two areas where the book really shines, in my opinion. The first is a clearly illustrated explanation of common hand and arm signals. The book uses 30 pages just on these signals.

The second is its explanation and example of creating and using counter encrypting operations and intelligence (CEO&I) call signs, codes, authentication tables, etc., when using unencrypted communications, and the use of passwords and challenges.

I also liked the fact that the author attempted to provide examples of most of the concepts.

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