XIX CORPS ENGINEERS

 
 
 

SUMMARY OF TACTICAL PRINCIPLES

   
1.
 

Upon the successful completion of eleven (11) months campaign it should be of value to record tactical lessons learned. Below are listed some basic principles followed in the Corps, some recommendations and random comments.

     
2. Command. The Corps Engineer has been clearly in command of all Corps Engineer units. This is absolutely vital.
     
3.

 

Orders.  The Corps order was always brief as to Corps Engineers. It frequently said only, "Corps Engineers will support the Corps mission", or "____ group will support ____ Division." This general policy is believed correct as too much detail restricts flexibility and speed of operation under changing conditions. Corps Engineers must be free to move quickly to emergency jobs.

     
 

Orders from Corps Engineer to Groups was usually by telephone, liaison officer or message and a mission type order. Detailed orders were issued by Group.

     
4.











 

Support.  All Corps Engineers were habitually in support of Divisions and not attached. This again is absolutely necessary in order that the Corps Engineer can shift his troops to emergency jobs which always appear. We believe that a Division Commander would prefer Corps Engineer support if he is convinced it is competent, reliable and aggressive. But he demands attachment when he is not sure of securing adequate support. From that basis our Corps Engineers first have proven themselves competent. With each new division, new methods and new staff personnel must be met. It has been the policy for the Corps Engineer and Group Commanding Officer to call on the staff of a newly assigned division and go over methods of operation. The Group Commanding Officer and his staff frequently visited Division staff but always, if possible, in company with the Division Engineer. Once a friendly contact is established and Corps Engineers had demonstrated their aggressiveness and ability, no Division ever requested attachment. Special missions are an exception, as in a wide enveloping moment by a combat team involving river crossing or heavy minefields. We have followed the policy of always stressing Group support and not a Corps battalion supporting a Division. This is important. It means that the Division always deals with the Group Commanding Officer who can throw his strenght where most needed, use his special equipment, hi separate companies and his own staff on the toughest jobs. Very frequently what a Division really needs is not man power but equipment or special tools.

     
5. Division Engineers.  This Corps has always observed the following simple policies with Division Engineers.
     
  a.

 

All engineer work requests from Division cam through the Division Engineer to Group. The Group Commanding Officer was authorized to comply immediately without reference to Corps Engineer unless the request required a priority decision, troops from the other group or special consideration.

     
  b.
 

The Group Commanding Officer and Division Engineer jointly agreed upon a rear Division Engineer work boundary which was usually well forward of Division rear tactical boundary.

     
  c.
 

Group kept the closest liaison with the Division Engineer. For special situations (usually at river crossings) the Group Command Post was at or very close to the Division Command Post.

     
  d.
 

Detail planning for special missions, (river crossings) was done jointly with Group and Division Engineer staffs. Frequently the Group Commanding Officer or member of his staff attended Divisional staff conferences.

     
  e. (See river crossing)
     
6.





 

River Crossing.  The policy was consistently followed of leaving Division Engineers free for far shors work to the very maximum. The precise dividing line varied with the terrain conditions, river width and strength of crossing force. On small streams all assault boats crossings have been done by the Division. On larger streams or when a large force was in the initial wave, both Corps and Division units operated assault boats with Corps units handling all boats for the build up. The same principal was applied to foot bridges; for small units the Division Engineers were used, for larger assaults both Corps and Division. The majority of the foot bridges and nearly all heavier bridges were built by Corps for the Infantry Divisions. Armored Divisions with an organic bridge company constructed a larger percentage of treadway bridges. Even then; however, many were built by Corps.  

     
7.
 

Mines. Corps units have frequently both laid and removed mines in all parts of a division area but always on a mission baisis and upon request of Division Engineer.

     
8. Engineers as Infantry.
  a.
 

When one battalion was used in the line to aid on overextended Division it was invariably attached to the Division. This is believed correct.

     
  b.




 

When more than one battalion was used as infantry the Engineer force was always under Group control, given a sector and under Corps Engineer command. Such a force was invariably reinforced by attaching some units for supporting fire. Attachments varied but have included the following: Tank or TD units, AA units ( quad mount MG is excellent ), 4.2 chemical mortars ( excellent ) or artillery. Artillery support was normal but attachments have been made. On one occasion an Infantry battalion was attached.  The essential point is that an Engineer Group must have some supporting fire and then becomes a very effective attack unit and a substantial defensive unit. To use Engineers without some heavier weapons makes them relatively ineffectual.

     
9. The Group.
  a.
 

It has been a firm policy that the Corps Engineer deal entirely with Group, never direct to Battalions. The exception is that all work orders to the Topographic Company were issued direct.

   
  b.

 

All separate companies were attached to a Group. It has been observed elsewhere that Topographic and Maintenance Companies are frequently held under Corps direct. We consider it better to keep them under a Group which provides supply, administrative, special service and miscellaneous supervision, service and control.

   
  c.

 

The Group is an administrative unit and must be so regarded. Any policy to the contrary cannot be followed effectively. The Group Commanding Officer must have as much authority as a Regimental Commander, administrative as well as tactical, and has had in this Corps.

   
10.


 

Supply.  This Corps Engineer section has found it necessary to enter in supply matters more deeply than anticipated by regulations. Corps Engineer S-4 dealt directly with Group and Division Engineer S-4s. He kept himself constantly informed on stocks in all Engineer dumps and in contact with Army Engineer S-4. The service rendered in this manner was invaluable. He made estimated for dump stocks, selected dump sites and in affect was an agent of the Army Engineer and in direct liaison with the using units.

     
11.

 

Map Supply.  A Corps Map Depot was operated by one officer and 13 enlisted men stolen from combat units. It was entirely successful in operation but there is nothing in any T/O for such a unit. Nowhere in our army planning is there any official way or personnel authorized for map distribution. This should be corrected.

   
12. Equipment.  Engineer equipment in general is excellent.
  a. Brockway trucks are excellent but have a weak rear axle.
     
  b.
 

D-7 angle dozers are excellent but a 12 foot blade is adequate. Too many accidents have resulted while transporting a 14-foot blade.

     
  c. All bull dozers should be replaced by angle dozers.
     
  d. 5 KW Generators were in continual trouble chiefly from burned valves.
   
13.


 

Flexibility. It is believed that the principle of flexibility of engineer units with the Army as a whole has been misused. In this Corps the same two groups have had the same five battalions, bridge, maintenance, equipment and Topographic companies continually. Occasionally Army units have been attached for specific missions. The advantage of long training and working together are most evident. If these basic Engineer units were assigned, not just attached, to Corps it would be less difficult to keep groups intact.

   
14.
 

Artist.  An artist has been on duty with the Engineer Section continually. His sketches and paintings on various projects are of material value. His published work has been given wide circulation for its instructional value and historical interest.

   
15.


 

Communications.  It has been reported frequently that Engineer troops are weak in means of communications. This is correct and many expedients have been used. For river crossings cavalry reconnaissance radio and personnel have been attached. As the war progressed more captured German radios and telephone equipment was acquired and used. Corps Signal personnel gave invaluable assistance. Continual use of liaison personnel was S.O.P. The theory of relying upon divisional communication facilities is wrong.

 
 
 
 

 

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