Ambush Question....

Before I pose my question, I should mention that I am an ex-scalie and thus, my knowledge of the minutiae of Infantry work is fairly basic.

OK, here goes... I spend some of my spare time desperately trying to re-live my youth by assisting with my local ACF Detachment.

It was on a recent ACF weekend when I heard another adult instructor talking about "Ambush in Depth" I seemed to recall that there were two basic types of ambush - "L" shaped and "Linear" and was a little confused.

So, I asked what he was on about... The essence of his scheme was that the enemy is drawn onto a series of ambushes which require them to pootle along on some type of triangular route obligingly offering themselves up for slaughter.

I asked if he was on about the old soviet "Firesack" thingy but he was adamant that he was talking about the "Ambush in Depth"and that it was a well recognised tactic.

Well, I didn't want to call him a bullshitter straight off so I throw it over to the experts. Is there such a thing? Is he bulshitting or am I woefully ignorant??


Further to my last, it seemed to defy the KISS principle and required the full cooperation of the enemy. Hence my sneaking suspicion that it was complete cojones 8)
Its a linear like tactic but I believe an american style yeeha thingy!


Book Reviewer
think i have heard of it in an american context, but fail to remember the details. Certainly cant remembe being taught by brit though.
Cheers for that article, it seems to explain things a little better for me and I think I'm now able to better understand the theory...


Never heard of an "ambush in depth. There was the Triangler ambush which was basically 3 linear ambushes in the shape of a triangle, which allowed you to cover multiple approaches/killing areas.
So it's fair to say I'm close to woefully ignorant but suffering from an initially pants explanation then?

Or am I just crap? LoL :lol:


War Hero
The AI who told you this, he wouldn't happen to subscribe to Combat and Survival magazine, would he? Sounds like thats where he's got it from. Probably the sort to buy Soldier mag at WH Smiths, too.
PAM 45 used to mention the area ambush, which was basically a series of smaller ambushes set up to cover all likely routes through the objective.
I think he might be a C&S reader... hehe!

I once heard him tell a regular Guards Drill Monster how he (The AI) had completed some drill course for the ACF... Talk about sink through the floor...


What is he doing trying to teach concepts like that to the ACF anyway?
Sounds like he is setting himself up as a Rommel-Rambo, rather like the instructor who said that as mortar rounds land in a pattern if you run in a zig-zag you can get through unharmed. Bet that gets taught in Brecon.

Ambush in depth seems to me to negate the (general) principles of ambush which is to cause maximum devastation in as short time as possible and bug out with least damage done to home team.
In depth means causing enough damage to tempt the enemy on and maintaining contact to bring him to the next stage, difficult to control and tactically dodgy, the opposition should wise up after one or two stages. It might work if the immediate ambush is on a larger force to draw them into a bigger ambush, or killing zone. But it is inviting casualties as they press on now alerted, - remember if the opposition is too big don't trigger the ambush. It also asks the question 'why not simply mount a big ambush in the first place? If it is drawing them onto a killing zone then the tactic is no longer ambush.
Possibly this is a yank concept, and as they hate dismounting, to be used as a mobile tactic, (just guessing here), not British and again seems to violate the ambush concept.
There have some bullshit to answer his bullshit, and feel free to shoot me down.

Give the ACF lads what they like, survival weekends and the like, not in-depth tactical reviews.
Perhaps you could teach them an American tactic called 'the ring of fire'. Nothing to do with eating vindaloo- it involves surrounding the enemy entirely with your chaps firing into the middle..... Apparently the septics swear by it as it leaves the enemy no escape!

Ambush in depth sounds like tripe to me (agreeing with other posts) as you are simply letting the enemy switch to advance to contact possibly with support from the air/ mort/ arty. Next time he mentions it tell him to 'have a nice cup of shut the fcuk up'. I have been infantry for 19yrs and just read Erwin Rommel's 'Infantry Attacks'. (Highly recommended but not part of our current doctrine)
" it involves surrounding the enemy entirely with your chaps firing into the middle..... Apparently the septics swear by it as it leaves the enemy no escape! "

no wonder they have a problem with blue on blue


Book Reviewer
Isn't there only 2 rules

1) If all your men are fireing and the enemy are falling over you have succesfully carried out an ambush

2)If all your men are falling over and bleeding in response to a selection of large bangs you may have beeen ambushed


War Hero
Ambush in depth doesn't exist as a name, as far as I remember from a previous life reading PAM 45 and more latterly as an avid reader of PAM 1-2 'The Infantry Company Group'.

What yon friend is probably talking about is the area ambush. Not sure why cadets need to know that, because it's really only used where there's a selection of killing areas and the elements of your sub-unit can't mutually support. You wouldn't normally attempt it with less than a coy group and OS. 'Triangular ambush' belongs in Malaya, 1956, or perhaps a big forest in Bergen-Hohne. L ambush? Never heard of it - is that the triangle but without rear protection? Sounds dodgy, vulnerable and difficult to control and withdraw to me..

Back to the depth thing. A few posters have put all their eggs in one basket: 'all up, bags of smoke'? Bollox to linear. What happens when there's a flank protection out on the enemy's route and they stumble in on or behind the killer group? What happens when the follow-on massively right hooks your linear formation and surge through your line like a dose of salts? What about when you need to withdraw under contact?

Several of the principles of ambush and of defence are common: two of them are depth and mutual support. For this reason the common default is the T ambush formation. Composition depends, but always there is a killer group, two small cut-off groups and a cover group. It might be something like this: 1 and a half sections killer group+MMGs+LAWs / 1 section providing both L and R hand cut-offs / 1 sect+ Pl Sgt + Lt Mor as cover group. Mix it how you want: 1/2 sec could provide cut offs and the other half sec an FRV protection party or HLS protection - whatever. But to talk about "ambush in depth seems to me to negate the (general) principles of ambush which is to cause maximum devastation in as short time as possible and bug out with least damage done to home team." is, sorry, naive.


I appreciate what you say, and I have set up ambushes precisely on the principles that you say, giving depth to one's position. But I understood that the proposition meant ambushes in depth, i.e. more than one ambush set behind the other, which is totally different. Perhaps I have had too much sun, but what did the original guy mean?
Ambushes are meant in general terms to cause damage to the opposition without incurring (meaningful) casualties on one's side, and I was never in an ambush that stayed on the ground after the job was over.
I was trying to keep it simple, not for our scaley mate but his 'oppo', have you ever talked to a cadet instructor without an army background? Varies between weird to wonderful.

(Edit for spelling)


I agree, this sounds like the description of an area ambush. Used by the British Army in Malaya to ambush Chinese insurgents on very narrow jungle paths where fields of fire were short and narrow, severely restricted as they were by dense undergrowth. There was often only time for one shot at a fleeting target before the enemy fled from view. Added to this the winding nature of jungle tracks meant it was difficult for one commander to effectively control a large ambush. Given the conditions on the ground in some areas it was believed to be more effective to get several bites of the cherry through multiple ambushes. The enemy would enter the matrix by being allowed to pass unmolested through one ambush before then being ambushed later on (hopefully multiple times as he "pin-balled" from one ambush to another).

Heavy secondary jungle growth present along tracks and streams effectively prevents noiseless movement off track (and sometimes virtually any useful movement for that matter) and provides protection for ambush parties from flank clearance patrols (hence the viability of the linear ambush in this context). The area ambush was also used by the Aussies in Vietnam with some success. The South Africans also used them in the 1980's however they were not as successful as the enemy of the day was not restricted to narrow paths (patchy bush in South West Africa is not jungle). An area ambush consists of a matrix that might be eight or nine section ambushes spread over 4, 6 or 8 square kilometres each component ambush centred on a track junction or stream crossing or similar. The component ambushes in Malaya were sometimes linear for the aforementioned reasons, though sometimes an L would develop on a track bend with the gun on the short leg of the L to produce enfilading fire.

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