AmMerc: More On Suppressive Fire With Small Arms


See also the two texts recommended by Mosby and AmMerc:

Battle Leadership


Do you carry enough ammo to accomplish these tasks and proceed?

Think it through, please.

12 responses to “AmMerc: More On Suppressive Fire With Small Arms

  1. I talked to a neighbor the other day who was so proud. He had purchased
    a thousand rds. of 5.56 and as far as he was concerned that would last
    practically forever.
    I had not the heart to explain that a thousand rounds lasts 2 days when I
    am training, WITHOUT someone shooting back.

    • Colorado Pete

      Take him out training with ya. That’ll learn him.

    • Colorado Pete

      Also, many such fellas do not actually envision themselves doing JM-type military ops. Mostly self-D against bandits or helping out neighbors with same. Which is fine, except maybe doing JM-type stuff never occurred to them, and you should perhaps slowly, gently, broach the topic from very oblique angle (wouldn’t want to scare him, or give him reason to put you on his rat-out list). And then take him out shooting.

      • I think you’re spot on Pete. What too many people, even readers of my blog, don’t understand is, whether you’re trying to overthrow a regime, or simply protect your community, the fundamentals of SUT and UW apply. It’s one thing to defend against a couple of guys blundering through your door at 0200, looking for some cool shit to steal to feed their meth habit. It’s something else entirely when it’s a crew of Mexican SF-trained MS-13 bandidos who are working in concert with one another. If those guys who are only worried about Self-Defense against some bandits don’t get that, they’re going to be donating weapons and ammunition to the bad guys, as well as their wives and daughters. That’s why developing your network/tribe/clan/group/WTF-ever you call it, and training together, using TTPs that work.

  2. I enjoyed AmMerc’s article, all good stuff, it seems we really have something going with the suppressive fire topic right now. If it educates and passes the message, then that makes it worth it.
    I have a pressing need to anonce that this topic of suppressive fire and related tactics (such as attacks/small unit tactics etc) are covered in depth in my two books (Contact and Rapid Fire). So yes, that’s a plug, but I wrote them to pass on this information to people. If you want to read about how to do this stuff in depth please have a look at those books.

    Now, I don’t want to disappear up a collective rectum of introspection about suppressive fire, I am more interested in getting the main message across. However, I have one sematics issue with AmMercs definition:

    Suppressive fire is effective fire. If you were the one experiencing it, that experience would be defined as ‘fire that is causing casaulties, or will cause casualties if you continue (or don’t take cover). For a squad advancing to contact, it is receipt of effective enemy fire that makes them take cover and go into squad battle drills.

    Thus, if you are the one suppressing the enemy, you have to produce effective fire, in the required volume, accurancy etc. My point is that it should intend to kill and be accurate enough to do so, but does not need to. It does not have to be lethal to suppress the enemy. You either kill the enemy or force him to take cover (put his head down) so that he canot effectively fire back or move out of that position. If he puts his head up to fire, rounds are either hitting him or very near to him, so he is forced back down. There is a separate subject here related to the ability of riflemen to generate such effective fire under the pressure of battle, and in reality fire tends to be less effective/accurate, which is why often we/the enemy are not effectively suppressed.

    So, my point? Great articles by Mosby/AmMerc: I take issue with one small point of AmMercs that only fire hitting the enemy is effective suppression. The crack of a high velocity round passing close overhead is violent like a bullwhip and if the enemy sees rounds passing close or into the cover where his fire position is, he will mostly keep his head down. As per the ‘squad battle drills’ this allows you to maneuver and at this pont we would move on to the rest fo the tactical story, as AmMerc alludes to.

  3. Very good discussion guys keep them coming.

    Maybe one of you can comment on something in relation to the discussion.
    What was considered suppressive fire prior to the presence of light machineguns?
    Say 1900? The basic infantry weapon was a small magazine bolt action rifle. What caused individuals to stop advancing against emplaced rifle teams if they could only maintain a single shot rate of fire? Did that have more to do with concentration of men on a given frontage or did it have to do with marksmanship what was it?
    Now I have never been on the end of deliberate incoming fire so I cant say from experiance but how much of this whole debate is psycological and how much is the mechanical reality of the situation? Is “suppressing fire” and its effectiveness largely due to the mental state of the target and not the actual number or rounds sent down range?

    I dont really know about it but I have always thought of it in terms of experiance. I would expect people like me who have never been shot at to grab dirt and try to get in a hole when the first rounds strat coming in but guys who have BTDT would react and shake off those effects unless the volume of fire significantly increased the odds of getting hit. So how do you know those odds? Can you tell about volumn of fire when you are on the end of it if its not hitting and causing casualties but say its hitting around you?

  4. @Grenadier1: Big topic, a summary in response: There is a big element of experience and psychology in what makes up effective fire for you, which ties in to how much risk you will tolerate to put your head up and return fire Small arms fire comes in different guises, almost like different types of rain.

    You will know if you are receiving direct effective fire onto your position. You will either be hit, nearly hit, or rounds will be near you. Stuff will be torn up. Receiving effective incoming SAF is a violent experience and you will know about it.You may have not choice but to be ‘pinned down’.

    But other times there is a volume of rounds zipping about but people are still cutting about carrying out movement and battle drills etc. Rounds make different sounds and often you can tell that maybe they are at extreme range as they buzz around.

    How much tolerance you have to rounds ‘zinging’ around your fire position depends on your exposure and morale, but you can also get complacent. You should be slightly moving your fire positions anyway if you are there for any period of time.

    Think of it like ‘milling’ which is part of training and selection for PARAs:a solid minute of straight punching each other without defense. No boxing. You have to keep your head up and deal it out while being dealt some by the other guy. If the other guys punches are not effective, he will not suppress you. If they are coming in straight and hard, you may end up putting your head down. The test is to identify those who are willing to keep their head up and deal it out while suffering.So there is a morale and aggression component.

    For battles around 1900 look at the Boer War in S. Africa where the Brits, although adopting somewhat dispersed formations, suffered badly at the hands of Boers armed with Germans Mauser bolt action rifles. Accurate fire from cover against an advancing enemy.It was this expience that brought in the Khaki uniforms and a more modern dispersed infantry approach. I am thinking that suppression at that time was accurate fire hitting Brit soldiers, because they would have been advancing anyway and at some point the psychological toll of falling comrades and incoming high velocity would have casued them to falter, disperse,and fight from cover or withdraw. Field artillery would have been big They also had machine guns, the maxim types etc, but not as useful against a dispersed Boer enemy flighting from cover/concealment.

  5. Has anyone else come to realize that Max/AmMerc/ND,to name a few,and K, are the next,and i think,last piece of this Fucked up puzzle that we need to wrap our heads around or else?
    The dros has been seperated to what we have now. And it’s outstanding,regardless of the fungus that’s still among us.
    Thanks all.


  6. Short answer…..I agree with Max, again. The first fight I was ever in. rounds weren’t even really all that close….I swear to God, I ate a dump truckload of dirt trying to find a safe spot, preferably somewhere near Shanghai. By the time I’d been in three or four gunfights, I was bopping around like it was a Saturday night dance, trying to direct fire. Still looking for cover, mind you, but far more interested in getting fire directed at the enemy than I was in worrying about their rounds hitting me. If rounds started getting close, I’d start trying to have sex with the ground again, until we had effective fire on them again.
    As far as what exactly defines “effective” suppressive fire. I’ve seen both work. I strongly advocate accurate fire, that strikes the enemy. That having been said, if the round zips past six inches from his head, he’s still going to jerk back and look at putting something solid between him and what’s coming….regardless of how experienced he is. On the same hand, rounds ripping into the earth ten feet away, aren’t really much of a threat, and are more likely just to piss a guy off.

    Despite degrees in history, I’m not exactly sure what the standard TTPs were for suppressive fire in those days…..I think Max is pretty much spot on though.


  7. Thanks fellas that was more of an intelectual question on my part. I was interested in the concept of the reality of a firefight vs the preception of a firefight.
    I wonder if the preception has more to do with the ability of the men receiving fire. In other words back in the old days when the rate of fire was much slower but the level of marksmanship training was much higher across the board did the men on the receiving end preceive incoming rifle fire as more of a danger regardless of how many rounds were being fired. They assumed that their enemy were good shots and therefore it would only be a short time before they were hit.
    Today with higher rates of fire but lower levels of marksmanship especially amongst tribal hillmen is the preception that it almost does not matter how much they shoot they cant hit the broadside of a barn. The man hit is simply unlucky?
    That preception growing as a man gains experiance with the advisary.
    Somewhat back to the debate about marksmanship and the preception of skill level among combatants.

    • Colorado Pete

      Gren1, if I’m not mistaken, the British 30 aimed shots per minute standard of fire which JM references goes all the way back to the Enfield 10-shot .303 bolt rifle (yeah they were really trained that well). The Enfield was designed to be that fast and smooth, I’ve put a lot of rounds out of mine, and can see that with correct technique and training it is entirely doable. They were also expected to actually hit at 200 yards with that cadence. There was one battle early in WWI where the Germans advanced against the Brit trenches manned by their “professional” army (the corps the Brits entered the war with, before they were all killed/wounded and replaced). Their rapid-fire bolt technique with the Enfield No. 1 made the Hun think they were facing massed machine guns.

      Those guys were very, very good.

      • Semper Fi, 0321

        What we pass off as marksmanship today is pretty sad, to say the least. And for every person complaining of recoil, I’d like to hand them a 45/70 Trapdoor or ’03 and 100 rds, make them fire it all, prone. We used to have real soldiers, and marksmen, but that was some time ago. In another decade they’ll be using non lethal BB guns. The old ones were too heavy, and kicked too much.