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a battle formation used by motorized rifle squads, platoons, and companies during an advance. In such a formation, troops are deployed in a single line along the front at intervals of 6–8 m (eight to 12 paces). An individual may move slightly forward or to the side to improve his fire position or to better adapt himself to the terrain, as long as he neither breaks the general continuity of the formation’s front nor hinders his neighbors. First used in the second half of the 19th century, the skirmish line appeared in response to the widespread use of rifled weapons, against which troops in columns sustained heavy losses (seeBATTLE FORMATIONS) .