ATypes of Cover

(1) Frontal Cover. A firing position should have frontal cover that provides protection from small arms fire and indirect fire fragments. Ideally, frontal cover should be thick enough to stop small arms fire, high enough to provide protection from enemy fire, and wide enough to provide cover when firing to the left or right edge of a sector of fire.

(2) Ideal Cover. The ideal cover provides:

• Overhead, flank, and rear protection from direct and indirect fire.

• Free use of personal weapons.

• Concealment from enemy observation.

• An unobstructed view of a wide and deep area of fire.

b. Common Cover Materials. Any material that protects a Marine from small arms fire can be used for cover. Some common materials include sandbags, trees, logs, and cinder blocks. Table 6-1 presents some common materials and their minimum thickness required for protection from small arms fire.


Minimum Thickness (in inches)



Broken stone (rubble)


Dry sand


Wet sand


Logs (oak)


Earth (packed)


Table 6-1. Minimum Thickness for Protection Against Small Arms.

Table 6-1. Minimum Thickness for Protection Against Small Arms.

(1) Sandbags. Cover can be improved and positions can be fortified by filling sandbags with dirt/sand and placing them around the position. Sandbags should be tightly packed because bullets can easily penetrate moist or loosely packed sandbags. Overlapping sandbags increase protection and decrease the bullet's ability to penetrate the sandbag. A minimum thickness of three sandbags is required to stop small arms fire.

(2) Trees/Logs. Wood is a relatively dense material and offers good cover and protection. Bullets have a tendency to fragment when they penetrate wood. Live trees have a greater resistance to bullet penetration than dead trees. Wood that has been treated with creosote, such as telephone poles and railroad ties, offers better protection from projectiles than untreated wood, but it still does not ensure positive protection from small arms fire.

(3) Cinder Blocks. Cinder blocks are not impenetrable cover. Although they are made of a dense material, the composition of a cinder block is so brittle that a bullet can shatter the block upon impact. This can cause injury to a Marine by secondary fragmentation.

c. Firing From Specific Types of Cover. Effective cover allows a Marine to engage enemy targets while protecting himself from enemy fire. Several types of cover provide support, protection, and concealment and do not interfere with target engagement. A Marine must adapt firing positions to the type of cover available.

(1) Fighting Hole. A Marine should use fighting holes if available. See figure 6-1. After a Marine enters the fighting hole, he adds or removes dirt, sandbags, or other supports to fit his height. To assume a firing position, a Marine performs the following steps:

• Place the right foot to the rear as a brace.

• Lean forward until the chest is against the forward wall of the fighting hole.

• Extend the left arm and elbow over the forward side of the fighting hole so the left forearm rests against the back of the parapet.

• Place the rifle butt into the pocket of the right shoulder and grasp the pistol grip with the right hand.

• Place the right elbow on solid support using the elbow rest of the fighting hole or sandbags placed around the fighting hole.

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