We have already discussed the concept of enfilade in a previous lesson. A tactical concept that goes hand in hand with enfilade is “defilade”. Defilade is defined as:
to arrange (troops and fortifications) so that the terrain will protect them, esp. from gunfire against either flank
Defilade is “cover but different”.
By now you should have a solid understanding of what cover is (“solid”..get it?). For practical purposes I will define “cover” as an object of some sort that you place between yourself and the bullets flying at you. Defilade is the use of terrain or elevation so as to prevent your opponent from engaging you with direct or “line of sight” fire.
While bullets travel in an arc, that arc is too shallow to be able to engage targets that are depressed far enough below your position so that they are out of sight. Areas that you cannot engage with direct fire are also known as “dead space”.
Dead space issues in combat are what lead to the development of such weapons as mortars, grenades, claymore mines, bombs and other such cool toys. You have to place a mine or “drop” something into a defiladed position to take it out; or else you have to maneuver into a position that allows you to fire into it.
If you are able to flank a defiladed position, many times it turns into a “fish in a barrel” situation because the targets are then able to be taken in “enfilade”. An example would be jumping into an enemy trench and firing straight down it. The enemies are all channeled right in front of you. This is what happened when Union forces were able to flank the “Bloody Lane” during the center action at the Battle of Antietam.
For our purposes, we want to be aware of areas that can keep us out of the enemies line of fire. Sunken walkways, landscaping hills, folds in the land and ditches all can provide you with an area where someone shooting at you wont be able to hit you. And fortunately mortars are in short supply for civilian operations.
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