Cold Weather Survival
IV. FIGHTING TECHNIQUES
Squad and platoon formations
for tactical movements remain basically the same as for temperate regions; however,
terrain and deep snow cover will necessitate some modifications. In deep snow,
when speed is of the essence, a column formation may be preferable to a line formation
because it will require fewer trails. Old, well-settled snow will normally provide
good flotation and will facilitate skiing for the individuals. Since the trailbreaking
requirement is reduced and may under favorable circumstances be nonexistent, line
formations may be used without loss of speed. Downhill movement, even in deep
snow, may also indicate the use of line formations when it would not be considered
feasible on level terrain under the same snow conditions.
Handling of Ski and Snowshoe Equipment and Individual Weapons
The purpose of using skis or snowshoes in combat is to expedite the movement of
individuals over deep snow in the most rapid manner, thus exposing them to hostile
fire for the shortest possible period of time. In order to obtain the maximum
advantage of skis they should be used as far forward as possible, leaving them
behind only when the objective can be reached more quickly and easily on foot.
It is finally up to the small unit leader to decide at which phase in the attack
this may be done. As a rule of thumb the skis are left at the final coordination
line, because close combat on foot is more effective and easier to execute than
if mounted on skis. Conversely, deep snow may force units to close into the objective
on skis. Individuals using snowshoes may keep them on through all phases of the
attack. Under favorable snow conditions they may be left piled together at the
final coordination line or fastened to the individual’s equipment where they will
least hinder him.
b. As friendly forces approach the effective range
of enemy weapons, they move by fire and maneuver. The individuals proceed by short
rushes on foot, on skis, or on snowshoes whichever is most feasible. Rushing on
foot, the skis are dragged by holding them together by the tips (poles through
the two straps) in one hand, with the weapon readily available for action in the
other (fig. 6–15). Skis may also be tied to the belt with the emergency thong
through the holes at the ski tips.
c. The quick-release feature of
the All-Terrain ski binding provides the means to quickly dismount from skis when
hostile fire becomes effective. Under favorable snow conditions, as well as in
emergencies, the ski bindings are kept on when lying down and firing between rushes
d. When contact with the enemy is not expected, the individual
weapon is carried across the back with the sling over either shoulder, the butt
at the side or attached to the rucksack (if carried by the individuals) (fig.
6-17). When contact with the enemy is imminent, the weapon is slung around the
neck and in front of the body thus releasing both arms for rapid skiing (fig.
6–18). When contact with the enemy has been established, the weapon is carried
in one hand and the ski poles in the other so the weapon is readily available
for action (fig. 6-19).
e. Under conditions where the depth of the snow
is less than 50 cm (20”), skis may be left in the attack position if it becomes
evident that launching an attack on foot can be executed in a more rapid and efficient
manner than using skis
f. As soon as the objective has been seized,
the skis, ski poles or snowshoes may be recovered and brought forward. A two-man
team can quickly make a ski bundle (fig. 6-20) and drag the skis of an entire
squad at one time.
a. In deep, loose snow under hostile fire
it may be more advantageous to advance in a high crawl position by holding the
skis with hands through the toe straps and taking full advantage of snowdrifts
and bushes. A position such as illustrated in figure 6–21 should be adopted. Snowshoes
may be used in the same manner.
b. Sliding forward in a low crawl on
skis is another method of advancing, especially over firm snow (fig. 6–22). The
rifle can be slung over the shoulder or laid on the skis directly in front of
the individual. The latter is possible only when the snow is hard so that it cannot
get into the rifle.
c. In deep snow, trenches may be dug in the snow
leading in the direction of the objective when it is too difficult to be reached
by oversnow movement. Snow trenches are dug on a zigzag course (fig. 6-23 ) by
throwing the snow out under cover of darkness or, in an emergency, the digging
may be masked by smokescreens. The snow shoveled from the trench should be placed
on the enemy side of the trench to allow the individuals to crawl along the trench
without being observed by the enemy.
d. Snowdrifts and vehicle tracks
may be utilized when found in the battlefield. Snow fills in ditches and rolling
ground and tends to flatten the terrain in general. The wind builds up snowdrifts
and cornices and can change the contour of the ground a great deal. Snowcovered
terrain must be continually studied and every feature utilized. On the downwind
side of every obstacle, tree, house, and bush there is always a hollow which may
excellent observation point or firing position (fig. 6-24).
The wind, particularly in open areas, may form long, wavy snowdrifts which are
almost natural snow trenches. They may at times be used as an approach to the
f. Frozen streams or sunken riverbeds may be used as another
means of advance (fig. 6–all 35); often they may represent a longer but safer
g. An early fall frost will form a layer of ice on creeks or
streams when the water level is high. Later, when the flowing water becomes lower
and reaches its winter level, the top surface will again freeze so that there
are two layers of ice. This is called shell ice or overflow ice and is not always
h. Certain swampy areas do not freeze solidly during the coldest
periods of winter. They are often covered with snow, hiding the water underneath
and making the swamps an obstacle. Only experience and the knowledge that they
exist in the local area, will prevent accidents. Suspected areas should be avoided
and bypassed with no attempt made to cross.
i. Snowbanks beside plowed
roads and tracks often provide excellent cover in wintertime. These banks or drifts
will remain far into the spring thaw period, especially in areas of heavy snowfall.
The tracks left by tanks and oversnow vehicles in snow may provide routes of advance.
Continuous traffic packs the snow and may allow movement on foot without skis
or snowshoes. In the advance, infantry may utilize tracks left by their advancing
k. In static situations the ski equipment becomes vulnerable
to small arms fire and shell fragments. When troops are expected to remain in
the same position for an extended period of time, skis, poles, and snowshoes should
be placed in a covered position.
V. CAMOUFLAGE AND CONCEALMENT
6-16. General Considerations
In winter the whiteness of the countryside emphasizes any item which may not blend
in naturally with the surroundings. Furthermore, every movement by vehicles or
dismounted troops leaves tracks in the snow. Before every movement, consideration
must be given to how these tracks can be kept to a minimum. Nature may assist
by covering tracks with newly fallen snow or by providing a storm in which movement
will be concealed. Camouflage and
concealment from air observation is of the
b. In the northern landscape, backgrounds are not
necessarily all white. Rocks, scrub bushes, and shadows make sharp contrast with
c. Snow-covered terrain in the wooded regions, when viewed
from the air, reveals a surprising proportion of dark areas.
Firing of weapons, vehicle exhausts, and breathing will,
in extreme cold, cause local fog or vapor clouds which can be seen by the enemy
even though the weapon, vehicle, or soldier is well concealed. Smoke from fires
hangs immediately above and will disclose the position if there is no wind to
blow it away.
Under certain conditions, if the position is on a high point,
smoke may flow downward into depressions and may be used as a deceptive measure.
It may be necessary to move weapons frequently, shut off vehicle motors, or leave
vehicles in rear areas. Conversely, deception or concealment might be gained by
deliberately creating vapor fogs or clouds.
The still, cold air of the North carries sound much farther than
in temperate climates. All sounds must be kept to a minimum. Noise caused by motors,
men coughing, and skiers breaking through snow crust may warn the enemy of activity
at extreme distances.
The long hours of daylight in the North during the summer allow
for longer periods of aerial reconnaissance and increase the possibility of detection.
The short hours of daylight during the winter months materially decrease the time
available for reconnaissance. As an example, during the period 15 December to
15 January at 68° N. Lat. the sun will never appear over the horizon. Daylight
will consist of only twilight and will last for only 4 or 5 hours.
a. Tracks made in a soft surface may become quite firm if
the temperature drops during the night, and will remain indefinitely as indications
of movement. Special consideration must be given to the tracks in bivouacs and
base camps. Number and size of trails must be kept to a minimum. All unnecessary
“streets,” turnaround loops, and parking areas must be avoided. Individuals may
be forced to use only a certain trail. From the air, tracks, even through wooded
areas, appear like a white scar. Coniferous branches can be laid in a staggered
pattern on each side of the track as well as on it. Strict track discipline both
during movement as well as in bivouacs and base camps must be maintained at all
b. Aerial photographs are closely examined and from them can
be gathered a great deal of information. The depth of a track will show the amount
and the direction of movement. Vehicle or sled tracks may indicate the type of
vehicle and conclusions can be made as to the type of weapons. Every effort must
be made to mislead the enemy. It may be advantageous to make more tracks or trails
and show greater signs of strength. All marks made in the open are generally visible
to the camera.
a. White is the predominant color in winter
and snow is the most important camouflage material. By intelligent use of camouflage
clothing and equipment together with what nature makes available, effective individual
and group camouflage can be achieved.
b. Improvised camouflage clothes
can be made from sheeting, tape, whitewashed sacking, or painted canvas. White
paper, when wet, can be applied and allowed to freeze on all kinds of surfaces.
Snow thrown over the object helps to increase the camouflage effect.
White paint has many uses in winter camouflage. Weapons, vehicles, skis, and sleds
can be effectively painted with white nonglossy paint.
d. On occasion,
white smoke may be used to help the camouflage plan. The major problem is to make
the installation blend in with the countryside.
e. Camouflage face paint,
white and loam color combination, may be applied to exposed areas of the face
and hands to blend effectively in with the snow cover.
Individual Camouflage and Concealment
a. During the summer the
normal principles of using camouflage clothing will apply. However, as winter
approaches, men must use partial white winter camouflage to match the changing
conditions; men should be trained to avoid areas of local growth and dark outlines
b. In fairly open forest areas during the winter, men wearing
“whites” should avoid the dark background of trees. In the same manner, if wearing
dark clothing, men should stay under trees and avoid the open.
mixed surroundings frequent changes of camouflage clothing become necessary. The
use of mixed clothing is often the most preferable (fig. 6-27).
equipment worn on the outside should be camouflaged. Contrasting equipment worn
on the camouflage suit will increase the possibility of enemy detection. Loose
items such as grenades or fieldglasses should be kept concealed inside the suit.
Skis, rifles, and sleds may be painted white prior
to issue. If they are unpainted, white camouflage paint or improvised local materials
can be used. Sleds will be issued with white covers for concealing the load. Finally,
individual weapons can be camouflaged with strips of white garnish or white adhesive
tape. The tape also provides protection for the hands when handling the weapon
in extreme cold.
Camouflage and Concealment of Small Groups
a. In selecting a position,
enemy ground and air observation must always be considered. A location which requires
the least amount of modification is the most suitable, since there is less requirement
for disturbing its “natural” appearance. The camouflaging of a position commences
before occupation of the position. The most suitable covered approaches must be
used and tracks, if not hidden, must be kept to a minimum. Where possible, approaches
should be made under the concealment offered by trees or bushes, behind snowdrifts
or slopes, and in shaded areas. Poor camouflage at this point may make position
camouflaging ineffective. If tracks cannot be concealed, then tracks should lead
through the position to one or more dummy positions. On occupation of a position,
disturb its appearance as little as possible. Snow or earth removed from the position
should be thrown to the enemy side. If the position is of snow or ice construction,
it must be rounded off in order to avoid reflection and marked shadows. Overhead
tarpaulins or camouflage nets should be used to cover any extensive digging in
snow or earth.
b. In placing the individual and the weapon it is most
important that he is not silhouetted or contrasted with his background. Low positions
that blend into the background is the secret.
c. If time allows, positions
can be greatly improved by constructing an overhead cover of suitably camouflaged
materials such as branches, nets, blankets, etc. (fig. 6-28).
tent is one of the largest items to be camouflaged (fig. 6–29 ). Although large,
by careful site selection using both artificial and natural camouflage material,
it can be readily hidden. A decreased number of tents and stoves, due to tactical
reasons, will automatically assist in keeping the bivouac area camouflaged. Occasionally,
the camouflage of the tents in sparse vegetation, barren tundra, and especially
under winter conditions becomes very difficult. Use white materials such as individual
overwhites or snowblocks to protect the dark material from observation. In emergencies
the white inside liner may be removed and placed on the top of the tent. Frequently
all fires in the stoves as well as the open fires must be extinguished and the
sacrificed for camouflage and safety reasons.
Camouflage of Vehicles
a. In winter all vehicles should be painted
white to fit the predominantly white terrain. In forested areas it is relatively
easy to darken a white vehicle with issued or improvised camouflage material.
In areas with definite contrasts, for example in the wooded areas, or during breakup
and freezeup periods, a mottled effect should be used. See FM 31-71.
In addition to the vehicle painting, each vehicle should be equipped with an all
seasonal camouflage net to be used when required. Concealment will be more effective
if vehicles are parked close to dark features or in shaded areas. Always try to
break the silhouette and avoid vehicle shadows. Try to make it appear flat when
observed from the ground or air.
c. In wooded areas lean-tos can be
built to conceal vehicles. In a static situation a snow shelter can be constructed
to provide cover and concealment.
d. In extreme cold consideration must
be given to the exhaust from vehicles since it will form ice fog and provide the
enemy with additional means of detection.
a. More opportunities for unit or individual deception
exist in the North during winter than possibly in any other areas. However, deception
measures are not sufficiently effective to lessen the requirement for good concealment.
Unless unit and individual camouflage is effective, the value of any deception
will be greatly reduced. Deception must be based on well-coordinated plans which
must be logical and not too obvious. Dummy positions must be positioned to follow
the tactical plan, but far enough removed from actual position so that fire directed
at the dummy position will not endanger the real position (fig. 6-30).
A few skiers or oversnow vehicles can create a network of trails or tracks to
mislead the enemy as to direction, strength, location, and intentions.
Regular pneumatic deception devices are inoperable and should not be used in temperatures
below zero degrees. Improvised devices, however,
can be made from snow, branches,
canvas; and any other available material. Dummy weapons, positions, tents, and
vehicles of all kinds can be constructed (fig. 6-31). They must not appear obvious
but should appear camouflaged and only “discovered” as a result of a camouflage
violation. A dummy bivouac area must appear to be occupied. Small gasoline or
oil flames may be used to simulate stoves or idling engines. In a bivouac area
place must appear to look occupied; a fire or smoke could easily be used
to produce this effect.
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