Contact Drills at Night



Any soldier or operator, whilst on the move or static, can be engaged with fires by opposing forces. Soldiers and operators mostly operate in groups and make use of well-rehearsed contact drills for use on section/squad or platoon size level. These drills are to be used when the platoon, section or individual soldier is being fired upon by opposing forces. The most important thing is that the unit leader identifies the enemy position and returns fire with well-aimed fire in order to cause losses to the enemy.

What is happening – soldier / individual level
Whilst being fired upon, soldiers need to see through their night vision goggles and take up covered
positions.They need to see the enemy positions and enemy muzzle flashes. Then, within 3 seconds, they need to return well aimed fire at the target making use of weapon mounted sights. Soldiers keep on seeing and maintain contact with other soldiers on their left and right using night vision goggles. Soldiers maintain contact with their team leaders and indicate the location of the enemy using night vision goggles and IR laser pointers.

What is happening – section leader / team level
The section leader locates the known or suspected enemy positions and marks left and right limits with his hand-held laser pointer. He passes on information to the next higher level. Fire team leaders control fires by using the standard fire commands. They use their hand held observation tools to control fires, and illuminate engagement areas by using IR ground flares. Leaders check the status of their personnel through voice commands and by observation, making use of night vision goggles.

Follow-up activities
The platoon/section leader moves up to the team in contact and links up with its leader. The platoon sergeant moves forward, ready to assume control of the base of fire element. The platoon/section leader determines whether or not his platoon/section must move out of the engagement area. The platoon/squad leader determines whether or not he can gain and maintain suppressive fires with the element already in contact.

Decision making
The platoon/section leader makes an assessment of the situation. He identifies:

  • The location of the enemy position and obstacles guiding on the hand-held laser and laser target indicators rom the team in contact.
  • The size of the enemy force by assessing the enemy’s volume of fire, and muzzle flashes looking through his night vision goggles Vulnerable flanks.
  • Covered and concealed flanking routes to the enemy position.

The platoon/section leader now determines the next course of action. He reports the situation to the next higher level and begins to manoeuvre his unit. He calls for and adjusts indirect fire.

What is needed?
From these drill decision makers can draw up an equipment list. For the purpose of this article we focus on special equipment only. This list could or should contain the following items:

  • Night vision goggles
  • Night vision weapon sights
  • Night vision hand-held observation tools
  • IR target illuminators
  • Laser range finder