Since training is a prerequisite for success in battle, training programs must simultaneously utilize lessons from past experience and anticipate future developments, particularly in the field of technology. No matter how fundamental the changes in tactics and techniques, it will always be up to the individual soldier to do the actual fighting. For this purpose he must be trained and indoctrinated. The longer and more thorough the training, the more effective it will be. Training and educational programs must be so devised that they stimulate the soldier's initiative. Only on that basis will military planners be able to shape a powerful and flexible instrument that will be capable of withstanding the vicissitudes of war.
In night combat he who is conditioned to darkness will be at an advantage, and training must therefore strive to restore the soldier's native sensitivity, which has been dulled by city life. Against a potential opponent who has the innate characteristics of a tough, ruthless, and cunning night fighter, proper training is indispensable.
German field commanders with many years of practical experience advocate that up to 50 percent of all training be conducted at night, starting from the very first day of basic training. In their opinion it is unnecessary to devise a specific night training program. They advocate that the most important features on the weekly training schedule take place at night and that the lessons learned in daytime be repeated and driven home during the hours of darkness. By shifting part of the regular schedule from day to night, one may achieve the dual purpose of toughening the soldier and making him a night fighter.
The better a soldier knows the mechanics of his profession, the more self-confident he will be. The morning after a night problem should not necessarily be a rest period since trainees must get accustomed to hardship at an early stage. For instance, to simulate combat conditions a trainee returning from a night exercise should be given a short break, followed by field training until noon. Moreover, to toughen the trainee, field sports should be included in the schedule.
II. Individual Training
Individual training should begin by familiarizing the trainee with the peculiarities of the night. His eyes and ears must be conditioned to a variety of unaccustomed impressions. Since this conditioning process is gradual, it may be practical to start with lectures and demonstrations. Competitive exercises should be initiated as early as possible since they arouse the trainee's interest in night combat. The recruit must learn that at best he can perceive only the outline of an object without any detail. Since he can observe better from below than from above, he must get down on the ground. Distances are difficult to estimate in the dark and the position of a distant light can, therefore, be easily misjudged. By lighting a flashlight, a match, or smoking a cigarette the soldier might betray his presence even to a rather distant foe.
Sounds are transmitted most clearly at night, and the trainee must learn to differentiate between ordinary noises and those that should arouse suspicion. By putting his ear to the ground he will often be able to hear noises that are otherwise inaudible. To familiarize the trainee with nighttime conditions, preliminary marksmanship and range firing exercises should be shifted to the hours of darkness at an early stage in the training. Cross-country night marches may occasionally be combined with practice alerts. Since a sudden drop in temperature during the night or unexpected ground fog during the early morning hours may affect the trainee's health, he must be taught to take appropriate precautions.
During the next stage of individual training the recruit should learn to orient himself by the stars, by prismatic compass, by tracer and various other types of signals, and by terrain features briefly observed during daylight. He must know how to move silently, both erect and prone, at first across familiar, then across unfamiliar terrain, taking every precaution not to attract the enemy's attention by the clatter of weapons or equipment. During daytime he must prepare heavy weapons positions for fire against potential night targets. In addition, his training should include practice in patrolling and close combat at night, use of pyrotechnic signals, performance of sentry duty, attacks on enemy outposts, employment of intrenching tools without attracting attention, messenger duty, etc.
In peacetime, individual training is followed by unit training beginning at squad level. In the wartime training of replacements, one may discard this systematic program and use a mixed schedule if the need for additional manpower is urgent and if experienced, outstanding instructors are available. Such a mixed program consists of alternating individual with unit training by scheduling,
for instance, two days of individual training, followed by one day of squad and one day of platoon training, and reverting to one day of individual training, etc. The objective in setting up such a schedule is to obtain effective teamwork at the earliest possible moment. The attached tentative training charts, based on the practical experience of a German training instructor for armored units, contain suggestions along these lines. (Appendices I-VII) The disadvantage inherent in this type of program is that both the instructor and the trainee may be overtaxed by such a crowded schedule. Careful supervision of the training activities is therefore indicated.
III. Weapons Training
A soldier's familiarity with his weapons may be a decisive factor in night combat. To achieve complete mastery in the manipulation of weapons and equipment, the trainee must practice all postures-first while in camp, then under simulated combat conditions, and finally in the dark and blindfolded. The last type of individual training can be given only in the field, and its objective is to perfect the trainee's skill until he qualifies for unit training. Each arm of the service will proceed according to established procedures.
IV. Unit Training
Squad training should emphasize firing practice at dusk, in the dark, by moonlight, and in artificial light. Firing practice should frequently be combined with an extended exercise, such as a strenuous march or reconnaissance problem, during which the unit should switch to extended formation after dusk. Only thus will the trainee get accustomed to the idea that he must be able to fight even after great physical exertion. Special importance should be attached to firing practice as part of defense in twilight and moonlight in order to condition the trainee to enemy attacks and give him confidence in his unit's ability to defend itself during the various stages of darkness. Additional subjects of instruction are night patrolling and reconnaissance, combat patrol missions, teamwork in firing heavy weapons, execution of technical missions normally assigned to engineers, close combat against tanks from foxholes, first aid in darkness, protection against frostbite, etc.
Advanced unit training embraces all types of combat, with emphasis on combined arms operations. Starting at platoon level this training phase culminates in large-scale combined arms maneuvers. The lessons learned by the individual will now find their
practical application in the field. Passing through the execution of different phases of night operations, the training of the unit progresses to uninterrupted day and night exercises which emphasize various types of combat in darkness.
The combined arms maneuvers should feature co-operation between armored, tactical air, and airborne units. The training for graduate officers of advanced staff schools should stress planning of combined arms operations and exercise of command by night.
The ideal night fighter is a self-reliant, fully integrated soldier commanded by a cool, resourceful, and thoughtful leader who inspires confidence and determination. Only if training can produce such men will an army have a chance of success against an adversary who not only is unhampered by darkness but even seems to thrive on it.