Infantry: August 31, 2001


Why do infantry continue to carry a bayonet? After all, there is ample evidence that bayonet wounds are extremely rare. To a certain extent, carrying a bayonet is tradition, but there are practical reasons as well. A large knife is useful it you are in the infantry. A lot of time is spent out in the field, and a knife is useful for cutting stuff. But perhaps the most effective military use is intimidation. This is nothing new, the fearsome effect of a bunch of guys advancing with bayonets on the end of their rifles has been known for centuries. It's also a morale boost for the lads using the bayonets. When you hear the order "fix bayonets" (put them on the end of your rifle) you know it's do or die time. But the most common "combat" use of bayonets is for crowd control. In fact, this is about the only "bayonet training" most troops get anymore. The bayonet is used somewhat differently in these situations. For one thing, the troops don't just rush at the crowd carrying their bayonet tipped rifles. They march forward, neatly lined up, with the rifles held so that the crowd sees a line of bayonets coming at them. The troops do this while marching in step, and are trained to bring their right feet down as heavily as possible. The sight of the advancing troops, the bayonets and the rhythmic thud of boots striking the ground usually causes the crowd to scatter. 


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