By Major General George S. Patton, Jr.




Desert operations involve no change in the fundamental principles of tactics as laid down in the Field Service Regulations of the United States Army and manuals of the Armored Forces. They do involve, however, certain new techniques with which our officers are in the main totally unfamiliar. The notes emphasize those features of desert operations which differ from the traditional technique of tactics and which are vital in the successful prosecution of any campaign and which must be followed if the command is to avoid disaster.

The formation and methods herein set down are not the result of theory, but have been derived from repeated experiment in accordance with the method of trial and error.

The exigencies of the training situation and the requirement that these notes be made available without further delay, has prevented having them put in finished form. It is hoped that serious lapses in the art of writing will be overlooked and that the substance rather than form will be taken and used.


The purpose of the Desert Training Center is to determine the technique of living and moving in the desert and the tactics of desert fighting, particularly when opposed by armored formations, and in the face of inevitable air attack.

Since there is little or no terrestrial cover in the desert, it is necessary to completely revamp all previous ideas of security based on concealment either from the ground or from the air. In the desert security from the ground must be obtained through ample and distant reconnaissance in all directions which must be continuous. This reconnaissance is performed both by ground units and air observation units. THESE AIR OBSERVATION UNITS MUST HAVE A RADIO WHICH IS CAPABLE OF COVERING TWO WAYS WITH THE RECONNAISSANCE ON THE GROUND in addition to the normal Air-Ground communication in the Air-Ground Net.

Security from surprise air attacks is attained by having at least two air watchers in each platoon or equivalent and by having strict air discipline. Further, it is a function of our reconnaissance aviation to inform us of the existence and proximity of hostile air units so that we will not be surprised. In addition to the attainment of security above described, it is necessary to base security on dispersion. The object of dispersion is to make our forces a non-lucrative air target and a highly defensible ground target while at the same time not extending the dispersion to the point of loss of control.



The principles here set down are applicable to all units. They are based on the utilization of a line and columns, each column consisting of a tactical unit, that is, of a platoon or company. The commander of each of these units (forming a column) is in the leading vehicle and is distinguished by a specific flag.

In column the distances between vehicles is a minimum of 75 yards and every effort must be used to prevent this distance from becoming excessive. The interval between the columns is 150 yards. There is less difficulty in maintaining interval than there is in maintaining distance. The diagram shows that where any cover is available, the vehicles may follow in trace, whereas in the bare open desert they assume staggered column.

It is essential to remember that there must be no lines of vehicles from front to rear, crosswise, or diagonally, because it is against a line of vehicles that a diving airplane can best direct itself either to use bombs or machine guns.

The movements in dispersed formations will be taught initially through the use of battalions or companies of one particular arm. When this mechanism has been mastered and the technique of driving and maintaining distance acquired, the units will be mixed up into task forces as the tactical situation demands.

In order to avoid repetition, it is here set down that formations and materiel are of secondary importance compared to discipline, the ability to shoot rapidly and accurately with the proper weapon at the proper target, and the irresistible desire to close with the enemy with the purpose of killing and destroying him. Throughout training, these things must be stressed above all other.


The following points are important with respect to instruction in dispersion and should be stressed.

Except when in park, no vehicle must ever be permitted to approach within 75 yards of any other vehicle. This does not apply to the quarter ton truck.

Only cargo vehicles have tops up; all other tops are down.

Stress the maintenance of distance, not to exceed 75 yards, particularly in road marches, but also in group movements.

Jamming must be prevented. The senior officer locally present is responsible that jams do not occur. He must dismount from his vehicle to insure this by active command.

Demonstrate to individual drivers on sand table or on the ground, using blocks, the formations and methods of movement. Make the formation of march groups, either from bivouac or from parks, a precision drill.

Any desert with a yellowish tinge is apt to be sandy and should be carefully reconnoitered before attempting to cross. This type of desert frequently occurs on the west slope of north and south ridges.

For desert operations, tires on wheeled vehicles can safely be deflated to 70 percent of specified inflation. When stalled they may be deflated fifty percent, but should be reinflated to 70 percent after the stall is over. For movement of more than ten miles on roads, normal inflation must be resumed.

In sand, avoid abrupt turns, either with full track or half track vehicles.

When stalled, see that front wheels are straight ahead before attempting to get out. Dig out sand in front of wheels in direction of movement. Some brush placed crossways under wheels helps. Don't burn up your engine.

Use a long tow rope, 30 to 50 feet, to pull out stalled vehicles. Towing vehicle must be on hard footing.

Never exceed authorized load of vehicle. Try to keep to three-quarters load.

In desert operations you can figure on getting only one-third of your rated gasoline and oil mileage in all types of vehicles.

At regular halts, all crew members except the AA gunner dismount. All ports in tanks will be opened and not closed until after engine is started at resumption of march.

Half of all wheeled vehicles and half tracks should have as standard equipment, air-pumps, patches, spare inner tubes, a jack, and two ropes or cables.

Clean and brush off radiators at all halts. Check inflation, water, and oil.

Oil all glass windshields, leaving a 2 by 8 inch clear space in front of driver and assistant driver. The windshields of quarter tons are put down and covered. If they have no cover, they should be oiled.

Tanks should take sand slopes at right angles, not obliquely. Oblique slopes pull tracks.

Never send less than two vehicles on distant missions. In case of a breakdown, crews remain with vehicles. The disabled vehicles are thus easier to find from air.

In driving on an azimuth, pick distant objects along the azimuth and steer on them.

Move rapidly over soft sand. Change gears before you get to it. Better to select a lower gear and shift up than to try a higher gear and shift lower when engine is about to stall.

At the close of a drill or of a march, all vehicles must be serviced and made ready to move out. Radiators should be cleaned and sand removed from the cooling fins on radial engines. This will be done under the direction of an officer.

In all movements across country, vehicles should be in dispersed formation. Constant practice is the only way of learning. After men have become accustomed to moving across country in task forces, roads may be used to some extent to avoid waste of rubber.






A Task Force, comprising all of the elements of an armor division, is the smallest force depicted which normally should be used in a separate march formation. The largest would comprise half the combat command of an armored division or half the combat team of a motorized division.

Several such groups (task forces) may move abreast, the interval between them should not exceed visual contact. That is, the flanks of one should be apparent to the adjacent flank of the other. The minimum of non-fighting vehicles accompany each group. The vehicles carry one day's refill of oil and water, fuel, ammunition, and rations. It is desirable that kitchens form part of this train so that the men may get one or two regular meals daily. Tactical conditions will frequently prevent the presence of these kitchens. Every effort must be made to get them up where humanly possible.

Intervals and distances, except as between vehicles will be changed in consonance with the ground conditions. The intervals and distances shown are illustrative only.

The diagrams in the text are not to be glanced at. They must be studied. Through studying them a great many words are saved.

Reconnaissance Unit: This unit is provided from the Reconnaissance Battalion of the division, or occasionally from the Corps Reconnaissance Battalion. It precedes the advance guard by from three to five hours. It reports on the half hour or on gaining contact with the enemy. It MUST RETAIN CONTACT and work around the hostile flanks to discover what is in the rear. It's primary mission is information, not fighting. IT MUST HAVE TWO-WAY RADIO COMMUNICATIONS WITH AIR OBSERVATION UNITS. Air observation should cover the entire perimeter of the march group at a distance of least twenty-five miles. This circumferential air reconnaissance need not be continuous, but should be repeated often enough to locate enemy at least ten miles away. In other words, in this desert, it takes from three to five hours to go twenty-five miles. Consequently, two-hourly reconnaissance must be more frequent or more distant. The last air reconnaissance before dark must be thorough.

Note: There is a tendency to have the reconnaissance elements too thick. It is better to use the minimum number of vehicles which can mutually see one another to cover the front than it is to use a great density of vehicles and have no reserve.

Advance Guard: Type A. This is composed of half tracks and quarter ton trucks, in the ratio of two quarter ton trucks to each half track. This advance guard precedes the leading elements of the main body by from one to one and a half miles. It's mission is to locate hidden enemy antitank units and artillery; and, in cooperation with the reconnaissance, to locate and report the contour of the hostile front. It should be equipped with radios on the same wave length as the reconnaissance. The advance guard must move rapidly. On the other hand, circumstances will arise when it is necessary to dismount and reconnoiter on foot. Such action will save both time and casualties. When dismounted reconnaissance entails undue delay, the column commander will be notified in order that he may halt the main body and not close on the advance guard.

Type B. This consists of a line of light tanks completely across and slightly overlapping the front of the main body. These tanks should be at visual intervals and should be assisted by two quarter ton trucks per tank. These tanks must have radios and be in radio communications with the reconnaissance and with the main body. The use of tanks as the advance guard is particularly desirable against hostile infantry delaying action.

Tank Destroyers: The diagram shows tank destroyer units abreast of the leading tanks of the main body, covered on their outer flanks by their own security vehicles. The purpose of placing them here is to prevent incursions of hostile tanks, and to give a point of maneuver about which tanks of the main body can operate. Note further, that one element of a tank destroyer unit is with the trains. The purpose of this tank destroyer unit is to afford protection to the trains. It is aided in this by a proportion of light tanks and Anti-Aircraft Artillery.

Anti-Air Defense: The diagram shows certain AA units with combat vehicles and the remainder with the trains. Defense of the trains is the particular and vital mission of the antiaircraft artillery. It provides the main fighting escort for the trains, and should be weaponed with dual purpose cannon on self propelled mounts of great cross country ability. If the number of anti-air vehicles is limited, they should be with the trains because armored vehicles of a Task Force do not present a lucrative target. The trains, however, being supposedly unprotected, are the constant target of hostile aviation and armored patrols. The antiaircraft vehicles with armored units must have their weapons on self propelled mounts and these weapons must be dual purpose of at least 37mm caliber in order that they may not only prevent bombardment but also aid other elements with the trains in driving off hostile tank attacks.

Owing to the dispersed formation of the trains, it is obvious that high altitude bombardment will not be very effective. Hence, if the enemy seeks to destroy the trains he will execute bombardment at a low altitude or by diving. Under such circumstances, 50 caliber weapons are highly effective. Therefore, each dual purpose antiaircraft, antitank cannon mounted on a self propelled vehicle should in addition have a pair of 50 caliber antiaircraft machine guns on the same vehicle.

The Remaining Vehicles of the Main Body: The remaining vehicles of the main body, i.e., tanks, artillery, infantry carriers, and engineers, are so grouped that they can go into attack formation immediately either to the front or to one or the other flanks. If more time is available (than in an emergency), the change of direct is effected by a turn. In general, the theory is for the tanks to lead so that the infantry and artillery, moving in the center, can go into action in any direction.

Trains: These follow the main body by some one and a half to three miles. Their contents have been specified. When combat opens they close to a mile to half a mile in order to be able to immediately resupply ammunition and fuel.

Roads: The success or failure of any operation will usually hinge on the ability of supply columns to reach the fighting units with refills of ammunition, water, and fuel. In desert or other roadless terrain, the sustaining speed of an advance will be restricted by the time required for supply columns to negotiate the area between railheads and ports, and the fighting front. The provision of supply roads will extend the operating radius of any force, by increasing the speed of supply columns, and reducing vehicle maintenance, thereby increasing in two ways the tonnage of supplies which can be moved in a given time by the available vehicles before a refill becomes necessary. From the diagram, it will be noticed that a road construction unit follows the train. This will be noticed that a road construction unit follows the train. This is so composed that it can build one or more well marked supply roads at the speed of any normal advance. Most of the equipment is drawn by reserve tanks.

Trailers: In addition to the ammunition and fuel carried in the supply trains, it is believed that one or more trailers per platoon for all types of armored vehicles in the task force should be used in a manner similar to the caisson with Field Artillery. These trailers are of cheap construction, are small arms bullet proof and can be uncoupled readily when they have been emptied. They can be recovered by the trains. Through their use, an adequate supply of ammunition and fuel can be assured during an attack.


Thrust Line: A thrust line is a reference line drawn in the general direction of the proposed operation. It need not be axial and need not be a right line. It must have an origin. The thrust line is marked off with quarter inch spaces; each tenth space is numbered. In order to orient any unit, it is only necessary for the unit commander to place a right triangle with a quarter inch scale against the thrust line and his position; then count the number of quarter inches he is away. If he is on the right side of the line and opposite the twelfth dot, and three quarter inches away he reports his position as twelve right three (12R3). Similarly, if he is opposite fifteen, and two and a half inches out, he reports his position as fifteen left ten (15L10). The same procedure can be used in a retrograde movement, the origin and right and left always remaining the same. In order to confuse the enemy, the second day, the origin of the thrust line can be stated as forty. Then the original position of ten out would be fifty out, and so on.

Phase Line: Using the thrust line as a basis, phase lines may be inserted. These phase lines are for the purpose of coordinating the movement. The first phase line should be sufficiently far from the bivouac so that the rearmost elements in the march group have moved for at least twenty minutes before the head reaches the first phase line. Thereafter, phase lines should be approximately every two hours of march. They halt on the phase line should be for thirty minutes. During these halts all crew members except the antiaircraft gunner dismounts. The observers dismount but continue their duties. During the halt, the first thing to do is to execute first echelon maintenance under the immediate supervision of the officer present.

Lateral Communication and Control During March: This is of great importance, both between element of a march group and between march groups. It can be executed either by radio or by liaison planes, or a combination of the two. During a march, the rate of movement must be governed from rear to front, to prevent undue elongation; that is, the reconnaissance guides on the advance guard and so on. Special emphasis must be placed on having the trains maintain their distance. If necessary, halts on phase lines will be prolonged in order to close up.

During the training period, particularly, liaison planes are vital to obtain results. The difference in speed on the desert between a column and an individual vehicle is so small that a commander on the ground cannot maintain touch with his units. He must do so from the air. The larger liaison planes have two-way radio, the Cubs do not. If only Cubs are available, it is necessary to utilize dropped message.

Guides: Guides from the main body with marker flags should accompany the elements of the reconnaissance unit preceding that portion of the main body. These guides are dropped off when the going gets bad or when there is any doubt as to the road being used. They are picked up by the main body.

Command From Air: It is my opinion that the force commander can exercise command from the air in a liaison plane by the use of two-way radio. He should remain in the plane until contact (with the enemy) is gained, after which one of his staff officers should be in the plane and he himself on the ground to lead the attack.

Full Track Company Maintenance Vehicles: Owing to the fact that a half track is slower than a tank in the desert, it is desirable that a company maintenance vehicle be a full track vehicle, so that having halted to make repairs, it has the capacity to catch up. A half track can never catch up after it's first halt. This full track vehicle will also be used for battlefield recovery.

Servicing: Immediately upon halting at the close of each day's march, or maneuver, all vehicles will be serviced; filled with gas, oil, and water, and have three day class "C" rations, and three day's water on board. In addition, it is requisite that at least one day's additional water for the men and vehicles be in the vehicle.

Refueling: Normally, refueling takes place just before entering bivouac. If, however, the length of the march demand earlier refueling, where ever refueling takes place, arrangements are made. All antitank weapons and antiaircraft weapons with the command are put into position of "Alert," and by pre-arrangement with the air force, an "Umbrella" of pursuit aviation remains over the command during the period of refueling. Units and vehicles remain dispersed during refueling. The trucks with the fuel move by, drop the cans, and later pick up the empties.

Reconnaissance: In reporting contact (with the enemy), reconnaissance units must locate themselves with reference to thrust lines, and locate enemy reported by reference to the same thrust line. Otherwise, the reports are useless.

Radio Silence: Where the situation indicates that the column is not observed by hostile air, radio silence will be enforced. Radio silence means that no messages are sent. It does not mean that the system is closed. All operators must continue to listen in. Even during radio silence, reconnaissance or any other units making contact will report by radio.

Rule for Using Voice Radio: If the period of reaction by the enemy, as a result of overhearing the message cannot influence the period of action of our forces, voice radio IN CLEAR will be used. Example, if attack is ordered for eleven o'clock and the order issued at nine o'clock, and it is known that it will take the enemy at least three hours to react, it is perfectly justifiable to give the order in the clear. If, however, the order is issued at nine o'clock for an attack at four o'clock, and you know the period of reaction of the enemy is three hours, clear radio should not be used.

Axis of Assembly: An axis of assembly will be laid down for each March Group. In unmapped desert, it will be an azimuth from a definite point of origin. Where maps or landmarks exist, they will be used to define the Axis.

The purpose of this Axis of Assembly is to provide a line to which walking wounded can move, or where reports of disabled vehicles can be sent. Finally, it gives a definite line on which a reassembly of the unit can be ordered.

Security During March: A definite routine procedure must be adopted to insure that all strange vehicles, not part of the march group, are challenged and examined upon approaching or leaving the group. The enemy often employs captured vehicles with crews in captured uniforms to enter columns from the rear or flanks for reconnaissance.


Since marching is a science, it is susceptible of more or less dogmatic treatment. Battle, on the other hand, is an art. Hence, he who tries to define it closely is a fool.

Nonetheless, in armored combat in desert country, the situations move so fast that there should be an almost drill-like method for converting a march formation into one for attack.

In considering movement from a march column, we must remember that unless we are inexcusably surprised, many hours have elapsed since the air first located and reported the enemy. During this time the ground reconnaissance and the advance guard have both had ample opportunity to determine the contour of the hostile front and to locate his artillery, antitank guns, and mine fields. Exact information on these points is vital.

Further, it must be remembered that our force will consist of several march groups. The march formation must flow smoothly, without halting, into the battle formation, and the transition must be completed while the enemy is still some 3000 yards away. While this transition is taking place, our air must be attacking the enemy, especially his artillery, antitank guns, and close-in trains. In these attacks, the air is acting on it's own, picking those targets which it can see. Furthermore, it is learning the terrain so that in the final phase the air attack will have a better chance of functioning. During this phase the reconnaissance and advance guard have cleared the front and are acting as ordered by the higher command always remembering that they must never lose a chance of hurting the enemy. Siting on a tank watching the show is fatuous, killing wins wars.

From the standing procedure, it appears that initially only four-ninths of the tanks moving into the first firing position (turret defilade wherever practicable), engage the enemy from a staggered line formation.

Under the cover of this fire, probably opened at 2000 yards, the artillery moves up and enters the fire fight. All this fire is concentrated on the enemy's artillery and antitank guns. The leading elements of the tank destroyer units, from their positions on the flank, also engage in the fire fight with the same targets. If it is certain that your own rear is not in danger, the tanks which have heretofore been guarding the trains have meanwhile joined the reserve tank units.

When sufficient dust and smoke have been developed or a partial fire superiority gained, the leading tanks advance to a nearer firing position. This move is accomplished by rushes of some of the tanks under the supporting fire of the remaining tanks, the artillery, and the tank destroyers. The new firing position is selected by the unit commanders through personal reconnaissance in their tanks. The first rush should be for at least 500 yards. Whether the artillery displaces forward with each rush made by the tanks depends on the observation they can secure. But, certainly as the battle nears it's climax, the artillery must be in line with the tanks.

By a number of successive rushes, as described, the line is advanced to a point between one thousand and five hundred yards from the enemy. Sometime during this advance the support tanks of the leading units have joined the firing line, thus placing two-thirds of the tanks in the frontal attack.

As the fight progresses, and the dust could prevent observation, the reserve tank unit should move out to encircle the enemy and attack him from the rear. When it is in position to make this attack, it should signal the force commander so that a synchronized assault may be executed.

Prior to this time, the air should have been notified of the probable time of the final attack. This information must be given sufficiently in advance to enable them to load with the proper type of bombs and to be ready to take off. A few minutes before they are over our force, they should notify the force commander by radio. On the receipt of this message, the fronts of our main assault and encircling force are outlined by clouds of specially colored smoke produced either by grenades or by artillery. This smoke gives the air a datum line as they are then able with safety to attack the narrow zone of the enemy front between the two lines of smoke. It is to be remembered that prior to this they have been attacking the enemy and should therefore know approximately where he is.

There are other possible methods of coordinating the bombardment attack with the ground attack in this mobile situation. By pre-arrangement, observation aviation using successive sorties in situations where enemy pursuit is active, maintains contact with the enemy and leads bombardment aviation to the target upon order from the force commander.

Another system utilizing Krypton light contemplates bombardment aviation proceeding to the battle upon orders from the force commander, who must anticipate in conference with the Ground Air Support Commander that a proper target will exist when the bombardment arrives. When the bombardment aviation arrives within radio range (about 20 miles) of the Ground, Air Support Control station it is given the description of the target and it's azimuth and estimated distance from the location of the Krypton light. When within visible range of this light, the bombardment, using the light as a reference point, proceeds to the attack. This system should be advantageous in terrain that has few well defined landmarks or when maps are unavailable or imperfect.

As soon as the air attack is completed, the final assault from the front and rear is ordered. In this assault the tanks move rapidly forward to close with the enemy, while the enveloping tanks attack him from the rear. The armored infantry, moving in their carriers, follow the tanks until they are forced to dismount by hostile fire, and then rushing forward mop up and secure the spoils of victory. I repeat that the foregoing description is a great generalization. For example, in the situations where the enemy is covered by a minefield or we have been unable to locate and destroy his guns the infantry will attack first supported by the fire of all guns, Tank, Artillery, Tank Destroyer, Dual Purpose Anti-Aircraft, and by the Air Force.

Again, it must be remembered that in a larger scale battle than that shown, one or more task forces will make the rear attack.

To go into further discussion here is futile; for as has been said, battle is an art and the commander, the artist, must paint his own picture.

The following points apply particularly to the phase of instruction just completed

All problems must be first solved on a sand table. At the close of a problem, and when secrecy permits, at the beginning of the problem, the men must be informed of what they have done or what they are expected to do. This is a vital requirement.

Upon entering new terrain, have all gunners estimate ranges, because the lighting conditions materially affect their ability to estimate correctly.

Orders must be mission orders, that is, you must get your people together and tell them the general situation and what you expect them to do. The order itself should not be more than one page, with a map on the back containing the axis of assembly and the thrust line, and other pertinent information. If no orders are received the force continues to act on it's original mission, don't halt.

Tank crews should first be instructed by walking through the various formations with reduced intervals and distances using flag signals. In armored battle, movement must be of the nature of a drill.

In armored warfare seek surprise as to time, direction, and formation of attack.

Where circumstances permit, attack should be staged so as to have the sun in the enemy's eyes.

Tanks do not attack until hostile artillery and tank destroyers have been destroyed or neutralized and mine fields cleared.

Tanks entering a fire fight should place themselves at an angle to the direction of hostile fire, so as to increase the probability of glancing hits from the enemy.

Tank crew members and tank destroyer members must track all hostile vehicles within sight during maneuvers.

Tanks, in resuming the advance from a halt, always do so with a change in direction by at least 45 degrees. When making a rush, tanks should similarly do so by tacking, that is, by changing direction about 45 degrees at frequent intervals.

During battle, tanks must report their location, and what successes they have had.

Tank crews are responsible for reporting to the maintenance with the position of injured tanks. Experiments should be tried to do this by flag signal or by Very Light pistol signal. The company commander must see that injured tanks are reported and evacuated.

Tanks should not attempt to physically crush with their tracks enemy guns or machine guns because of the danger of grenades and mines. They should destroy them with intense fire at from two to three hundred yards.

Artillery must be placed in depth, not only by battalions, but by battery. No guns should be within 75 yards of any other gun, and right lines in formation must be avoided.

Tank destroyers and artillery must be prepared to exercise dual roles. That is, in the opening of a fire fight, they must be prepared to fire as artillery normally fires. In the final stages, the artillery must close up and fire by individual guns after the manner of tank destroyers. To attain this, special instruction to tank destroyers and to artillery is requisite.

Fire should be low instead of high. Shoot the tracks from under enemy vehicles and use ricochet fire at his guns. The fragments come under the gun shields.

Do not fire at extreme ranges when attack or pursuit. It is useless and wastes ammunition.

Impress on artillery, tanks destroyers, and machine gunners that concealment is not cover, bushes do not stop bullets. Always seek a position which gives ground defilade as far as it is possible to obtain it.

Artillery with armored units must have forward observation, in tanks, in radio connection with the artillery. It should further have liaison planes to adjust fire. The forward observation tanks are usually placed on the flank well forward where they can see around the smoke clouds.

It is highly desirable for larger caliber dual purpose antiaircraft guns to have high powered telescopes, probably of eight power in addition to those of normal power. This permits them to pick out targets with considerable accuracy at long range.

Armored infantry must drive into action and remain in their vehicles until effective hostile fire forces them to dismount. To do otherwise fails to use their mobility. Owing to the fact that tanks can always cover the withdrawal of armored infantry, it is not necessary for armored infantry to worry about a reserve. They must attack with great violence.

Use your machine guns as soon as they come in range. They are very discouraging to artillery and antitank personnel as well as to infantry. They must be used. There is too much of a tendency to forget their deadly effectiveness.

Infantry, machine guns, and heavy weapons should attack tank destroyers and artillery whenever they get into range.

The air force should be informed of the color of the smoke which is put out, just prior to the final attack, so that they will not be confused with colored smoke set off by the enemy.

During maneuvers and marches, at least air and one ground attack should be signaled daily to accustom the men to carrying out instruction.

A sketchy smoke screen rapidly put down is better than a good one which is put down too late.

It is believed that all vehicles in the reconnaissance units should carry a 37mm mounted coaxially with a 30 caliber machine gun. This will permit them to fight.

You should expect to find mines in all defiles and in front of all river crossings. Further, you should expect to find them in front of any position which the enemy has had time to organize.

Before entering a defile, crown the heights on each side, bring up the antiaircraft guns, emplace them, and see that the far end of the defile is clear.

On the defensive use your tanks as reserves, and do your fighting with artillery protected by infantry. The tanks are placed either on the most dangerous flank or covering gaps in the line. If you have plenty of tanks it may be advisable to place them on both flanks.

On the defense, riflemen and machine guns try to remain concealed from tanks and await the infantry which follows. If, however, they have means of attacking the tanks, they should do so.

When a battle is not decided in one day, it is best to withdraw at dusk and reform after dark, leaving in place some or all of the artillery supported by infantry to attack at dawn, from a new direction.

At the close of a battle, leave the field in the hands of your infantry and artillery, and pull out the tanks to refit and resupply, and then move them to a new position from which you can attack, should an attack be desirable.

When it is necessary to withdraw, do so in time. That is, you must withdraw to the next ridge in rear before the enemy can occupy your former position and fire on you while you are withdrawing. If this is not possible, an intermediate position must be occupied by a portion of your command to cover your withdrawal.

In withdrawing, move your supply vehicles to the rear as secretly as possible, preferably at night. It is then well to threaten or actually attack with some tanks to cover the withdrawal of the remaining tanks. The tanks making the attack should then withdraw to a concealed position or else withdraw passing other tanks in a concealed position. The tanks in the concealed positions cover the withdrawal of the guns and remaining tanks, and should the enemy be too courageous, strike them in the flank.

In all maneuvers, certain soldiers should be tagged as wounded in order to give practice to the Medical Department. These soldiers should be tagged by the unit commanders and not by the medical officer.

In small fights during a battle, where either we surprise the enemy or are surprised by him, part of the force should attack frontally and the remainder, on the authority of the officer present, must immediately initiate a rear attack.

Officers are responsible for the destruction of their own or enemy tanks found on the battlefield, which are so badly damaged that they cannot be readily evacuated by our troops.

In vital matters such as first contact with the enemy, do not trust the radio, even if you get a receipt. The message must also be sent by messenger. In any case, every radio message must be acknowledged.

Officers must be practiced using their radio, otherwise, they waste a lot of time clearing their throats and collecting their minds. It is best to write an oral radio message and read it over the radio rather than try to compose it. It also saves time.


The same lack of cover and certainty of air attacks which caused the creation of special march and attack formations for the desert, requires the use of a special bivouac formation. Units must trained to defend bivouacs by fire and counter attack.

A desert bivouac through limited and controlled dispersion must provide a poor air target, good defense against ground attacks, and a means of rapidly resuming the march or combat formation.

Prior to starting any operation, unit commanders will be shown their position within any bivouacs to be occupied during the operations.

The easiest way to form a bivouac is for the leading tanks on the right to form the right forward side. The leading tanks on the left to form the left forward side. The reserve tanks to form the right rear side and tank destroyers or artillery if no tank destroyers are present to form the left rear side. Where the task force consists of two battalions or more of tanks, the tanks themselves are sufficiently numerous to occupy the four sides. In this case, the artillery and tank destroyers occupy the positions within the area conforming to their position for the next march or combat. The advance guard forms a march outpost until the bivouac is made, then enters it.

The infantry carriers of the unit which formed the double sentry post are in rear of the perimeter, vehicles adjacent to their crews.

The half track patrols outside the infantry listening post should move on a prearranged time schedule so that all vehicles will not be moving at one time. They should be provided with very light pistols which they should fire at low elevations, at right angles to their line of patrol and away from the bivouac at unexpected intervals, with a view of catching any enemy who may be trying to sneak up.

Where possible, a staff officer should precede the command to the bivouac area and place a quarter ton truck with a flag at each of the four corners. This applies to occupation during the day. If the bivouac is occupied during the night, use an initial point at the center of the bivouac and move on azimuths and odometer reading to the four cardinal points. Vehicles, then, go on right or left into line as the situation demands.

All vehicles on the perimeter clamp their automatic weapons for grazing fire at 200 yards. The traverse of these weapons is limited by the use of a rope or traverse stops so that they will not hit adjacent vehicles.

Vehicles on the perimeter must be staggered so as not to present a line which can be attacked from the air.

Engines should not be operated or vehicles moved about in the bivouac during the night. All moving vehicles within the bivouac should be challenged by the guard. The enemy will often attempt to move captured tanks and trucks into bivouacs, disguised as stragglers.

When the trains come up, they enter the bivouac and immediately resupply the vehicles. The trains leave after dark. On reaching the road they move in column. By Pre-arrangement with the air force, pursuit aviation should form an umbrella over the bivouac during it's formation and during the issuance of gasoline (if by day). Patrol protection is afforded at night.

Air observation will make a thorough reconnaissance of the whole perimeter of the bivouac just prior to dusk. If an enemy is located within striking distance of the bivouac, the ground commander is informed, and the commander of the reconnaissance unit will move out and make contact with the enemy, whose azimuth should have been reported to him from the air. For this purpose he will use his reverse vehicles.

Where night flying is possible and conditions are favorable for night observation, air reconnaissance and bombardment will visit the enemy during the night and take appropriate action to keep him disturbed. Also to notify the main body in case he moves.

The following points are important with reference to the instruction just given

It is important to practice moving in march formation in the dark by azimuth and also in bivouacking in the dark. Initially only small task forces should be used for this practice.

Until much practice is had, at least two hours should be allowed in training for getting into bivouac and refueling.

Where there are sufficient tanks to cover the perimeter of a bivouac the tank destroyers should be held in mobile reserve.

When going into bivouac all artillery, antiaircraft, and tank destroyer guns should be placed so that they can fire to cover the arrival of the trucks and resupply of gasoline.

While it is impossible to conceal vehicles, it is possible to use brush and camouflage nets to deceive the enemy as to the type of vehicle. Trucks can be made to look like tanks, and tanks like trucks.

In bivouac, all soldiers not carried in armored vehicles will construct slit trenches at right angles to the perimeter of the bivouac. These slit trenches will be filled in before moving out.

Upon arrival in bivouac, all weapons must be thoroughly cleaned and serviced. Care must be taken that all guns are not dismounted at the same time. Cleaning and servicing will be under the supervision of officers. Scotch tape placed over the muzzle of any weapon from a pistol to a cannon keeps out the dirt and the weapon can be fired without removing the tape.

First echelon vehicle maintenance will be started immediately upon arrival in bivouac, and will be thorough and supervised by all officers. Clean the dust from the fins of radial engines, otherwise it becomes baked into a sort of porcelain and prevents cooling. Before filling with gas or water, wipe the dust from funnels and nozzles.

Upon forming bivouacs, all vehicles must be headed in a prearranged direction which will facilitate moving out into march or battle formation. Direction of movement out of bivouac in case of a night attack must be prescribed before settling down for the night. Every must be supplied with a small funnel for filling canteens.

No light nor smoking are permitted in bivouac, except under cover wholly light proof.

No tents or cots will be taken. Mattresses will be reduced to a minimum of size, preferably a sleeping bag.

Cooking by vehicle or individual is accomplished by filling a can, frequently the container for the food being cooked, two-thirds full of gravel, saturating it with gasoline, and bonding three points on the circumference in with the fingers. When lighted, this provides an excellent stove that will burn from twenty minutes to half an hour and uses very little gasoline. Officers must supervise the men's eating. In very hot weather the men become so fatigued, they will neither cook their food nor eat it. It is up to the officers to see that they do, or the men will become useless. Cooking must be completed before dusk.

It is highly desirable that men be trained not to drink any water during the heat of the day. If a man takes one drink during the heat of the day, his resistance is reduced and he has to keep on drinking. The water he drinks does him no good as it is immediately perspired out. Men should be taught to drink all they can in the morning and after the sun goes down in the evening. Men should be cautioned not to smoke in the desert during the day, and they are not allowed to smoke after dark. They smoke in the dawn or in the twilight. Smoking during the day may remove the skin from the lips and always creates thirst. Hot coffee or hot tea is the best thing to start drinking in the evening.

After the meal has been prepared, everything which is not necessary for sleeping should be re-packed so that in case of a night alarm, nothing will be lost.

The water in the five gallon containers gets almost to the boiling point during the day. However, if it is put where the wind can get to it in the night, it will cool down and be palatable for drinking in the morning. It is best to take the canteens out of the covers, fill them and let them cool during the night. Then in the morning, drink from the containers and not from the canteens.

The reconnaissance elements do not come in, but form small all-round protective groups and remain in position. They refill from their supply vehicles which have accompanied them during the day, and then send the empty vehicles to join the supply train for replenishment. Normally, the supply train will send up full vehicles to the reconnaissance units as soon as it arrives near the main body. This method of supply is different from other supply and must be adapted to the existing situation.

One man per vehicle and one officer per company, battalion, regiment, etc., is always awake. No vehicle in the bivouac will be within 75 yards of any other vehicle. Where kitchens accompany the column, they remain in the bivouac and do not depart with the empty trains. Additional food for the kitchens is brought up with the next echelon of the trains to arrive about dawn (See supply).

Forming Bivouac on Breaking Contact: The location of the bivouac is given and the order of units to break contact and to withdraw to the bivouac area designated. The first unit to arrive at the bivouac area lays out the bivouac and posts guides to conduct the succeeding units to their location in the bivouac upon arrival. After bivouac is formed, the above stated doctrine applies. If it is probable that the enemy does not know our location, radio silence should go into effect at least two hours before entering the bivouac.


The way to success in desert operations, as in all other forms of war, hinges on supply. It will be noted from the diagram of the march that the supply train moves closely behind the march groups. This train carries one day's supply. Upon reaching the bivouac, or if it is intended to bivouac after dark, then just before dark the train should close up and refill the armored fighting vehicles. This refilling time should be prearranged so as to insure an umbrella of pursuit aviation over the formation during the time devoted to refueling, which should not take more than one hour. At the same time, special attention must be given to reconnaissance, by air and ground, and to see that all weapons, both ground and A.A. are ready to fire.

The question of supply of the second day's refill obtrudes itself. It is almost impossible to move trucks in dispersed formation at night, and it is also practically impossible to move them in columns at night without lights, except on a road. It is mandatory, therefore, to construct a road immediately following the column. (See Engineers Section Below).

The train which accompanied the force during the first day called train "A" having replenished the unit, moves out at dark along a supply road, and passes a similarly loaded train called train "B" during the night. Train "B" replaces Train "A" with the force. On the second day's march, this second train follows the Task Force as did "A" on the first day, and on the second night replenishes the Task Force. It then moves to the rear by the road, while "A," having been refilled at the base, moves up. It is probable that owing to the distance of the second bivouac from the base, possibly a hundred miles, that "A" must move out from the base before dark, and that "B" will not reach the base until after daylight.

During the third day's march, "A" again follows the Task Force and replenishes on the third evening, and then starts to the rear. Now, the distance has reached 150 miles or more so that a third train, called "C" must have left the base on the afternoon of the third day, and will pass "A" sometime during the night. "A" will not reach the base until well after daylight. This method of advance may be continued, but not to exceed 200 miles. A halt must be made, a good road or railroad constructed, and a new base formed. While this delays operations, it avoids disaster.





The chief role of engineers in desert operations is the same as in any other operations, to assist the movement of the fighting units, and to impede the movement of hostile units. The chief duties of engineer troops will be:

a. Water supply.

b. Roads.

c. Minefields.

d. Demolition.

e. Camouflage.

f. (exceptionally) Field Fortifications.

g. Maps.

Water Supply: All desert operations revolve around water supply. Engineers dig and drill wells, operate the necessary pumps, lay and operate pipelines, construct and operate water storage points, purify and distill water, transport water from water heads to forward water distributing points, and control the issue of water to unit trains at such forward DP's. In desert operations water supply ranks in importance with ammunition and fuel supply. It is essential that all commanders assist the water supply units (of whom there will seldom be enough), by enforcing the strictest water discipline. Frequent problems should be held in which strict water discipline is involved.

Roads: In the American desert, supply columns cannot operate without roads at night, and only with difficulty by day. In the deserts where the ground is harder, the provisions of roads will allow more round trips in a given time, with less wear and tear on supply vehicles. Each combat group should have an engineer road pioneering team, composed of plow-dozers, drags, pull-graders, and motor patrols, capable of building roads at speeds up to six miles per hour, to take supply columns traveling at twenty miles per hour by or ten miles per hour at night. In soft going, the road is dug out, by removal of the softer surface materials. In normal going, vegetation and hummocks are leveled off, and washes are filled in and their banks cut down. On rocky terrain, loose rocks are removed, and rock projections are knocked down by jack hammers and occasional explosives. In gravelly terrain with large quantities of loose rock, the larger rocks dug up by equipment will have to be removed by hand.

The supply roads should not be straight or composed of small curves. They should be laid out in long tangents, so that hostile aircraft will have difficulty in following them at night, at the speeds at which they operate. Dummy roads should be constructed at all changes of directions, so that the real road appears to be a side road. Supply roads should not usually be built any closer than three miles to the bivouac area of a combat group; the last tangent should never point toward the bivouac.

Minefields: Engineers must be the experts on minefields, both our own and those of the enemy. Engineers must be thoroughly trained in the details of enemy mines and booby-traps, from the point of view of both material and technique.

Minefield reconnaissance and clearing paths through enemy minefields in preparation for an attack is done by divisional engineers, usually at night or during dust storms. If required to clear paths during a day attack, the engineers must be given an intense smoke or dust screen to cover the operation, preceded by heavy artillery fire on the minefield to provide shellholes for cover.

Laying and lifting friendly minefields may devolve upon Corps and Army Engineer troops as well as Divisional engineers. Constant practice is essential to provide rapid and effective work, and to insure that all fields are adequately recorded so that they will not be a menace to friendly forces.

Demolitions: Engineer demolition activities in desert operations differ little from those in normal terrain. Particular training should be given in demolition of water sources, railroads, roads, ports, utilities (power plants, bakeries, machine shops), and large supply dumps.

Small mobile engineer tank demolition detachments should accompany tank units into battle, to demolish disabled enemy tanks beyond possibility of recovery. Such detachments do not destroy our own disabled tanks except on authority of the local commander.

Camouflage: Camouflage in desert operations is more a matter of deception than hiding. Division engineers are responsible for training and supervising the fighting units in camouflage technique and camouflage discipline. They are not equipped to do any extensive camouflage work; this is the responsibility of all commanders. Camouflage units will be engaged on schemes for large scale deception, such as dummy tank units, dummy supply points and railheads, supply of sunscreens (to make tanks look like truck, guns look like cargo trailers, light trucks to look like tanks, etc.). Such large schemes must be included in the large plan of operations from it's inception or the work of the camouflage troops will be ineffective.

Field Fortifications: Because of the nature of the terrain, and particularly in the case of armored forces, field fortifications will not have the importance in desert operations that they have in more normal terrain. Nevertheless, skillful use of field fortifications will always increase the effectiveness of a force on the tactical defensive, and help the commander build up his principle striking mass or counter attacking force. The engineers assist fighting units by giving constant advice on the latest types of emplacements, obstacles, trenches, and dugouts and by constructing rear defensive positions.

Maps: Engineers revise and reproduce maps and are responsible for map supply in the field. All commanders must cooperate by closely controlling the use of maps in their organizations, and collection all maps and turning them in to the unit engineer headquarters when relieved from an area.

Health Measures and First Aid: Desert warfare presents problems that are not encountered in any other type of combat. Instructions as issued from time to time by Desert Training Center Surgeon will be enforced by unit commanders under supervision of unit medical officers. Military personnel are cautioned to use common sense in the extreme heat of this section and to attempt to hold casualties from heat prostration to a minimum. Avoid unnecessary exposures to the sun, keeping the head and body covered at all times during the heat of the day. Men will not be permitted to strip to the waist.

Salt must be taken to replace that lost through excessive perspiration. Food should be salted freely and salt tablets taken. Extra salt does no harm. Additional salt should be taken after vomiting, diarrhea, in cases of loss of appetite, or an "all in" feeling due to heat. The amount of salt to be taken depends on the temperature, activity of the individual, and the amount of perspiration. It must be remembered that, due to low humidity, perspiration is more excessive than it appears to be because of rapid evaporation. A guide as to the amount of salt to be taken is about 15 grains for each quart of water or other liquid consumed. The need of salt is not a theory, but a proven fact.

All troops in desert operations must be trained thoroughly in first aid and in the proper use of the vehicular first aid kit.

Badly wounded men must be reported by radio through unit Radio Net or by signal to supporting medical troops for further medical care and evacuation.


Do not wear tight clothes, shoes that are too small or leggings that bind.

Do not eat large heavy meals.

Eat food sparingly during the heat of the day.

Fruits and vegetables, preferably cooked, and fruit juices are the best types of food.

It must be realized that in the desert distances are deceptive, mirages a possibility, general assistance from other sources is lacking, and water, other than that carried on the person or in the vehicle, is not available.

If lost do not panic and do not attempt to walk for help during the heat of the day.

Vehicles or persons on feet in the desert must always travel in pairs and not alone.

Guard against injury to the eyes. Wear goggles while riding in open vehicles over desert areas.

Be on the lookout for snakes. They become active when it gets cool. Be particularly careful when reaching for an object on the ground, especially when it is dark.

If bitten by a snake, use the snake bite kit according to directions in the container.

In any event, use common sense and DO NOT PANIC.


The training to be accomplished depends to a large extent upon the physical endurance of the troops operating under desert conditions with a limited water supply.

No vehicle will ever be dispatched into the desert areas without at least two gallons of water per individual in addition to that contained in canteens. One gallon of this water is for current day's use and the other for reserve.