that are essential to any combat operation: Tactical Maneuver, Advantage, Combinations, Tactical Decision Making, and Individual Leadership. By implementing these principles leaders are able to develop sound basic tactics, techniques, and procedures used to conduct successful operations. These principles should be included in group standard operating procedures (SOPs) as a memory aid during planning. The following Tactical Principle definitions are from FM 3-21.8 The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad.
1. Tactical Maneuver - Tactical maneuver is the way in which Infantry platoons and squads apply combat power. Its most basic definition is fire plus movement, and is the Infantry’s primary tactic when in close combat. Fire without movement is indecisive. Exposed movement without fire is potentially disastrous. There must be effective fire combined with skillful movement. Inherent in tactical maneuver is the concept of protection.
2. Advantage - Leaders and individuals must look for every opportunity to gain and maintain an advantage over the enemy. Leaders must Seek every opportunity to exploit their strengths while preventing the enemy from exploiting his own strengths. In close combat there is no such thing as a fair fight. As much as possible, leaders must set the conditions of an engagement, confronting the enemy on his terms, while forcing the enemy into unsolvable dilemmas to defeat or destroy him. Important supporting concepts are doctrine and training, individual Infantry skills, and the organization of the Infantry platoon and its squads. Essential to gaining the advantage is Surprise, which means engaging the enemy when the enemy is unprepared. Leaders also continuously employ Security measures to prevent the enemy from surprising them. Infantry platoons and squads should be especially concerned with their own security. They should expect the unexpected while avoiding patterns. Tactical surprise is rarely gained by resorting to the obvious. The ability to generate and apply combat power is a significant advantage of the Infantry platoon and squad. This advantage results from individual training; the group's organization into teams, squads, and platoons; collective training in tasks and drills. Through these elements, leaders exploit strengths while mitigating vulnerabilities.
3. Combination - The power of combination creates dilemmas that fix the enemy, overwhelming his ability to react while protecting your own internal weaknesses. Based on the power of force and firepower combinations, combined arms is how forces should fight. Leaders creatively combine weapons, units, and tactics using the principles of complementary and reinforcing effects to create dilemmas for the enemy. Making effective and efficient combinations puts a premium on technical competence. Leaders must know the characteristics of the weapons and munitions when employing fires. They must understand the inherent capabilities and limitations of their own and other unit formations. For example, in the defense leaders combine the effects of direct fire overwatching an obstacle that is designed to slow or fix the enemy in order for effective fires to be placed on the enemy.
4. Tactical Decision Making - Close combat demands flexible tactics, quick decisions, and swift maneuvers to create a tempo that overwhelms the enemy. Tactical Decision Making is the ability to make decisions during all phases of the operations process (plan, prepare, execute, and assess). Within this framework, Infantry platoon and squad leaders exercise Command and Control (C2) to be both effective and efficient in accomplishing their mission. Effectiveness entails making accurate assessments and good decisions about how to fight the enemy. Control complements command by using the most efficient means available. Key supporting concepts are troop- leading procedures, actions on contact, and risk management.
5. Individual Leadership - Resolute action by a few determined men is often decisive. Leadership at the Infantry platoon and squad level is comprised of three fundamental concepts: leadership by example, authority, and mission command. Leadership by example is simply and most powerfully expressed by the Infantry’s motto: Follow Me! Authority is the power to act. Mission command is the Army’s command philosophy that focuses on leaders telling subordinates what must be accomplished and why. Leaving the how to do it up to the subordinate.