MO Militia Fire Team Operations
1. TEAM LEADER. This is the person responsible for developing the unit. He or she will set up training for the team, establish and maintain unit cohesiveness. This is the person whom the team feels that they are most likely to rally around. He or she directs team fire and maneuver during combat. The team leader should lead by example. He or she maintains contact with higher elements in the unit. The team leader should be agreed upon by the whole team. The fire team leader also locates meeting places for team meetings, which should occur on a regular basis.
2. COMMUNICATIONS PERSON. This is the team’s radio operator. It is hoped that each fire team’s communications operator has an amateur radio license. A hand-held CB or family radio may also suffice. This person understands some basic radio operating procedures, and aids the team leader in keeping in contact with other units. It is also a good idea to have at least one person in the fire team with a computer, to send and receive e-mail, publish newsletters, and even establish a web page for your fire team.
3. MEDIC. The person in your fire team with the highest level of medical training will be your team medic. It is hoped that your team medic has at least the training of a Red Cross First-Responder. The more training, the better , and it is not unheard of for a team medic to be an EMT or paramedic. Your medic will check on the overall field health and sanitation conditions of the team. Medics are also responsible for checking each person’s first aid gear. Team medics should carry additional medical gear, over and above that required for individuals. They are also responsible for aiding the team leader in checking individuals’ water supplies.
This is a good basic three-person fire team.
Additionally, we may round out the fire team by adding a couple of riflemen to the team. Everybody is a rifleman. Riflemen are responsible for maintaining a high level of combat readiness. A rifleman assists the team leader and other members in maintaining the unit. He or she may also serve as a communications person or medic, and these are things that all militia persons should strive for. Riflemen are the backbone of every armed ground forces in the world.
Let’s look at a couple of more specific rifleman positions that you may include in your unit.
4. HEAVY GUNNER. This is the person who has the large capacity magazines and heavy barrel for his rifle. It is also the person who is capable of carrying a lot of ammo. Heavy gunners are used for suppressive fire, and covering likely avenues of approach. This is the civilian militia version of a machine-gunner, and should be considered as such for employment in the field.
The heavy gunner, should you have one, will be unit four. Otherwise, unit four is a rifleman.
5. Designated Marksman. Well placed, accurate shots are the job of your team designated marksman. He or she should be capable of placing first round hits on a dinner plate sized target at whatever range is considered practical and applicable. A good rifle with good optics are best for this position, but any rifleman should be considered a potential designated marksman. The designated marksman may be someone in your team who is a hunter, target shooter, or just in tune with the woods. Perhaps the designated marksman can help with rifle instruction and training.
If you have a team designated marksman, he or she is unit five.
Five people is really the biggest size for a fire team, because five people can usually fit in one vehicle. If your team grows beyond five, then you should consider breaking into two fire teams.
Your team members should all know where each other lives, and should be in touch with each other at least weekly. Quite possibly, your team meetings can rotate amongst your members’ houses.
Communications should be set up within the team, using e-mail, beepers, cell phones or radios if the distance permits.
The important thing is to develop fire teams as soon as possible.
Personal Camouflage and Concealment
Camouflage is anything you use to keep yourself, your equipment and position from looking like what they are. Personal camouflage has certain simple rules that will defeat the most obvious sensor on the battlefield; the human eye.
SHAPE. Your helmet, load bearing web equipment, rifle and other gear have a clear, often square shape, and there are no squares in nature. Break up straight lines with strips of burlap, camo cloth or netting in shades of brown and green. Elastic bands can be sewn to your uniform or equipment straps to facilitate adding camo strips or vegetation. Camo materials should not be attached to your rifle in areas where they may slip and interfere with your firm grip or the mechanical operation of the weapon. It is better to cover the weapon with paint or camouflage tape.
SHINE. Most modern military equipment uses plastic or subdued painted metal fasteners and buckles. If the paint has worn off or you are using commercial equipment with shiny buckles, these need to be covered with paint or tape. Other shiny surfaces that can reflect light include binoculars, compasses, watch crystals, unshaded rifle scopes, plastic map covers and eyeglasses. Little can be done about eyeglasses other than using headgear with a low brim or mosquito netting, but other shiny equipment should be stowed away when not needed and used with caution. Shine also includes light-colored skin, even at night when it will reflect moonlight and flares. Face masks make a surprisingly big difference at night.
SILHOUETTE. Similar in many respects to shape, silhouette includes the outline of the human form and the equipment it is carrying. The shape of the head and shoulders of a man are unmistakable and a bare helmet attracts attention. The use of local vegetation as garnishing helps break up your silhouette. Thick handfuls of grass tucked into your shoulder straps are especially useful in breaking up the distinctive “head and shoulders” shape of the human figure and vegetation added to a helmet breaks the smooth curve of the top and the line of the brim. Take care not to overdo adding local vegetation. You shouldn’t need a machete to hack a path through your camouflage to get at your ammo pouch or other necessary equipment. Also, a large bush or tree is sure to attract attention when it starts to move. Silhouette also includes field craft. However well camouflaged you may be, it is little help if you “sky line” yourself by walking along the top of a hill or ridge line, or if you stand against a background of one solid color.
SMELL. Even the most urbanized man will develop a good sense of smell after a few days in the open. He will be able to detect engine smells, cooking, body odors and washing. Some smells are hard to minimize. Soaps should be scent-free and activities such as cooking should be confined to daylight hours when other smells are stronger and the air warmer. Rubbish from cooking should be carried away from your operational area and buried only as a second choice. Buried objects are often dug up by animals and can give a good indication of the strength and composition of your patrol or unit as well as its morale. The discipline of refuse removal is important.
SOUND. You can make a lot of noise while out on patrol. Your boots can squeak. Your cleaning kit or magazines can rattle in your ammo pouches. Heavy pack frames can creak. Fittings on your weapon can rattle. Radios can have background noise. Coughing and talking can carry for long distances, especially at night; although, whispering doesn’t carry. You must become familiar with a silent routine in which hand signals replace the spoken word and conversations are conducted in a whisper. Proper stowage of your gear, taping of slings and other noisy equipment and a final shakedown before a patrol moves out will reduce noise. If digging a position, place sentries far enough out that they will spot an enemy before he hears the sound of digging.
COLOR. Though most modern combat uniforms are in a disruptive pattern camouflage, there may be times when this is less helpful. The trouble with camo clothing is that in the wrong environment, like cities, it stands out and says “Hey, look at me!” If fighting in built-up areas, a pattern of greys, browns and dull reds would be more useful than the typical woodland BDU pattern. Natural vegetation used to garnish helmets and equipment will fade and change color. Leaves will dry and curl up exposing pale under surfaces. You may have put dark green ferns and leaves into your helmet band while in the woods and then find yourself moving through an area of pale open grassland. Check and change your camouflage regularly.
The most obvious color that needs camouflaging is that of human skin, and for that you need G.I. camo stick or, preferably, a commercial camo cream. G.I. camo sticks are issued in loam and light green for use in areas with green vegetation. A sand and light green stick is used in areas lacking green vegetation. A loam and white stick is for use in snow covered terrain. If camo sticks or creme are not available use burnt cork, bark or charcoal for the dark color and mud for the light color. Dark colors are used to reduce the highlights formed by the nose, cheekbones, chin, ears and forehead. Lighter colors are used in areas of shadow under the eyes, nose and chin. When applying camo to your face it is useful to work with a buddy and help each other. G.I. camo sticks are rough on the skin and difficult to apply. A few drops of baby oil, skin lotion or insect repellent rubbed on the skin first will make it much easier to apply. Skin camo needs to be periodically touched-up as you move and sweat. A simple pattern for the face is to apply a light color first to the entire face and then add dark diagonal stripes. The diagonals cut though and break up the horizontal and vertical lines of the eyes nose and mouth.
Good camouflage is almost as important as good marksmanship. A well camouflaged man who is a poor shot will probably survive longer than the poorly concealed expert sniper.
** This guide was developed by Lee Miracle of the Michigan Militia and has been modified for the Missouri Militia. The foundation of any squad is the unity of purpose which enables the team to work as a coordinated unit. Team Leader is a position, not a person. Should the Team Leader be lost, the next member becomes Team Leader and the mission continues. It is therefore, extremely important that Fire Teams train AS A UNIT. They must develop as a unified whole, each man/woman knowing the strengths and weaknesses–each acting as support and backup for the other. This is often called the “two-deep concept.”