A significant contribution to the soldier’s load is ammunition. One way to reduce this is to modify how ammunition is expended.
Full-auto fever. An assault rifle is not a machine gun. The effective range of an assault rifle with fully automatic fire is considerably less than that of a true machine gun. Full auto from a rifle can be used to sweep a trench or clear a room. It will only be cost-effective at longer ranges if the enemy is in a big dumb bunch. Some manuals state the effective range of a rifle on full-auto as 50 metres. About half of this distance is probably more realistic. If the enemy is more than 50 metres away keep your rifle on semi-automatic.
Let the MGs, mortars and snipers do the work. When machine guns, snipers and mortars are available let them do the majority of the work. There is little point blazing away if you know you have little chance of having an effect. Only let the better marksmen make long range shots. Alternately use collective fire and semi-automatic volleys against the same target. Reserve your rifle ammunition for an assault or to repel assaults against the heavier weapons. The less you shoot the harder it is for the enemy to locate you.
Suppressive fire doesn’t have to be full-auto. There will be times when rifles must provide suppressive fire. Think about the Westerns you have seen where a character gets pinned down in the rocks. The Winchesters and revolvers used did not need to go full-auto to do this! Suppress an enemy position with aimed, semi-automatic fire.
It’s Fire or Manoeuvre! Running across a street guns blazing is pure Hollywood but you will see it done in real life. Firing like this has very little chance of hitting a target. Most of your rounds will not even be close enough to suppress an enemy. What this does do is waste your ammunition and draw attention to you!
If you are moving, concentrate on moving. Tactical movement needs your full attention. You need to be thinking about how you use the cover and concealment available and how you are going to traverse gaps and obstacles. Let other elements provide any suppression. Ideally a moving element should never be visible to an enemy.
If you are shooting, concentrate on shooting. Use any cover and concealment as effectively as you can. Use the most stable firing posture that your surroundings allow. Standing or moving is the least accurate posture to shoot from. Prone is the most stable. If you are surprised, take cover first, then return fire. If in the open drop prone and then roll for cover.
Many years ago I came across a statement from the SAS when they were reactivated for operations in Malaya:
“At first we carried too much ammo. We learnt to carry less. We learnt to shoot less and hit more often.”
To that we can add a statement from the Home Guard Fieldcraft manual by Maj. John Langdon-Davies. He observes that a Home guard solder will never have as much ammo as he might wish for and that twenty rifle rounds at 25 yards will be far more effective that fifty at 250 yards.
Know when to fire and when not to.