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Thread: Organizing for COIN at the Company and Platoon Level

  1. #21
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    Default unit discipline and behaviour towards the local population

    An interesting study on unit discipline and behaviour towards the local population. I'm afraid I don't have access to the original, however, so this is a report on a report on a report

    I must say, however, that it doesn't entirely square with what I've heard from many Palestinians, namely that older reservists are less likely to engage in brutality or humiliation than younger IDF conscripts. The study seems to have used Palestinian complaints as its indicator--which, given how very, very rarely Palestinians would bother complaining to the IDF, may be a rather suspect measure...

    Study: Sloppy soldiers more violent against Palestinians - length of tour
    not factor

    Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 22 March, 2008

    Correspondent Chagai Huberman reports in the 18 March edition of Makor
    Rishon that a study by the Behavioral Studies Department of the IDF of over
    a thousand soldiers who served in the West Bank found no correlation between
    the length of duty and the propensity for a complaint to be made against
    them for violence against Palestinians.

    The study did find a strong correlation between the sloppiness of units (for
    example gear missing/not guarded properly) and their propensity to get
    complaints about violence against Palestinians.

    Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
    (Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
    Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
    INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
    Website: http://www.imra.org.il

  2. #22
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    An interesting study on unit discipline and behaviour towards the local population. I'm afraid I don't have access to the original, however, so this is a report on a report on a report

    I must say, however, that it doesn't entirely square with what I've heard from many Palestinians, namely that older reservists are less likely to engage in brutality or humiliation than younger IDF conscripts. The study seems to have used Palestinian complaints as its indicator--which, given how very, very rarely Palestinians would bother complaining to the IDF, may be a rather suspect measure...

    Yes, but I have no issue with the paper conclusion, that there is a direct link to unit discipline and abuse of civilians. In fact, there's a direct correlation between unit discipline (I'm not talking about spit shined buckles, but strong leadership enforcing important standards) and almost any unit's success or failure tactically. I'm sure the NCO's on this board would confirm that.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 03-23-2008 at 07:48 PM.
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  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default What he said; doubled...

    Good units don't do dumb stuff. That simple. There will always be an occasional soul that wants to be abusive or stupid; if it isn't tolerated, his fellow Troops will stop him before it even becomes an NCO issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Good units don't do dumb stuff. That simple. There will always be an occasional soul that wants to be abusive or stupid; if it isn't tolerated, his fellow Troops will stop him before it even becomes an NCO issue.
    This holds true, of course, when the unit command views abuse towards the local population as undesirable--as opposed to a situation where it is considered or accepted part of a general strategy of intimidation, and encouraged.

    A friend of mine, who served as an IDF paratrooper in the late 1980s, once noted that in this sense there were very different ROEs in the West Bank and in Lebanon. In the former, there were both formal and informal constraints on brutal behaviour. In the latter (pre-withdrawal), a much higher level of intimidation was standard procedure, even among the elite and highly disciplined units (not everyone plays by FM 3-24 rules).

  5. #25
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post all the more reason they should

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    units (not everyone plays by FM 3-24 rules).
    Those who represent order to others cannot do so without being accountable to order themselves. Lead by example or don't lead. Anything else leads to temp fixes without long term benefits

    Just my 1 1/2

  6. #26
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I submit it holds true regardless

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    This holds true, of course, when the unit command views abuse towards the local population as undesirable--as opposed to a situation where it is considered or accepted part of a general strategy of intimidation, and encouraged.
    However, I suppose it boils down to what one's definition of a 'good' unit is...

    I'll acknowledge that a strategy of intimidation might alter that bit but my guess is that such change would not be significant.
    A friend of mine, who served as an IDF paratrooper in the late 1980s, once noted that in this sense there were very different ROEs in the West Bank and in Lebanon. In the former, there were both formal and informal constraints on brutal behaviour. In the latter (pre-withdrawal), a much higher level of intimidation was standard procedure, even among the elite and highly disciplined units (not everyone plays by FM 3-24 rules).
    Elite is generally a misnomer applied to combat units and carries no connotation of especial competence or quality. I've seen 'elite' units that were tactically incompetent and most of 'em tned to breed disciplinary problems. Based on what I've seen, highly disciplined and the Israeli Army are sort of incompatible -- that BTW is no insult, all citizen armies tend to be understandably a little lax, goes with the territory. The US Army was from 1941 through 1972 officially and, today, 36 years later is just coming out of that.

    I agree with Ron, that's really the determinant.

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    Default Tom Odom's 2005 article

    This post may belong in the "History Channel" - or there may be another thread covering Tom Odom's 2005 article (if so, I apologize for posting here).

    Found Tom Odom's 2005 article, "Transformation: Victory Rests with Small Units", in surfing to another article found in a reading list, which led to the index here:

    http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview...exmayjun05.asp

    I was struck by what seemed a similarity in the platoon structure proposed in the article, and the company structiure of the Compagnies franches de la Marine (CFM), the independent companies of the [Ministry of the] Marine. Those companies, many serving in Canada, were of platoon size.

    The force structure adopted by the CFM in Canada served them well for 70 years (1685-1755).

    The theoretical CFM TOE was something like this:

    (cite - tbs)
    "A full Marine compagnie consisted of a capitaine, a lieutenant, an enseigne en pied, an enseigne en second, up to 3 cadets, 2 sergents, 2 carporaux, 2 anspessades, 1 to 3 musicians (1 or 2 drummers and rarely a fifer) and 43 fusiliers (58 after 1756)."
    That is a total of 50 men (65 after 1756) - plus commissioned officers and cadets.

    The reality was different, because of the reduction in the number of private soldiers. The number of officers and NCOs was not reduced, perhaps a bit enhanced.

    Archives nationales, France, Archives des colonies
    Série C11A, Correspondance générale, Canada.
    vol. 28, fol. 312-312v.

    Liste des officiers du détachement des Troupes de la Marine en Nouvelle-France, 1708.
    Dans la compagnie de Lorimier,
    De Catalogne, lieutenant
    De Mosener, enseigne
    Langer, lieutenant réformé
    2 sergents
    3 caporaux
    3 anspessades
    19 soldats

    Commentaire sur la liste des officiers
    Lorimier :
    «sest corrigé de la bouteille, a esté bon officier, cest faict baucoup daffaire[?] et est presque hor destat de servir»
    Lorimier apparently was a second generation Marine - depending on how one interprets "capitaine dans les troupes de la marine" vs. "capitaine de marine" in ca. 1700 French usage.

    (gen notes - jmm)
    LORIMIER DE LA RIVIÈRE, GUILLAUME DE (Lorrimier, Lormier), capitaine dans les troupes de la marine, seigneur des Bordes (Boynes [10 km au sud-est de Pithiviers]) dans le Gâtinais, commandant du fort Rolland; né vers 1655, fils de Guillaume de Lorimier, seigneur des Bordes [40 km au sud des Boynes] et capitaine de marine, et de Jeanne Guilbaut, de la paroisse Saint-Luc et Saint-Gilles de Paris. Il épousa Marie-Marguerite Chorel de Saint-Germain, dit d’Orvilliers, à Champlain, le 27 janvier 1695. Il fut inhumé le 29 juillet 1709, à Montréal.
    The same construct also appears in the field, with an even larger ratio of officers (15, including cadets) to soldiers (20, presumably including NCOs) in an expedition where Céloron de Blainville was the capitaine mentioned below.

    (cite - tbs)
    "With a detachment composed of one Captain, eight subaltern officers, six Cadets, one Chaplain, twenty soldiers, one hundred and eighty Canadians and about thirty Indians," Céloron de Blainville left La Chine at the head of the rapids of the St. Lawrence above Montreal, on June 15, 1749. By July 6th, he had reached Fort Niagara. The next day men, supplies, and canoes began to move over the Niagara portage to Lake Erie, under the direction of Contrecoeur. The expedition pushed down La Belle Riviere, which was intended to impress the Indians with French military power."
    Of course, they had to ride herd on 180 Canadians (who probably had their own militia officers), and the 30 Indians.

    A balanced view of the French-Canadian militia is found in Jay Cassel, "The Militia Legend: Canadians at War, 1665-1760", in Canadian Military History Since the 17th Century, Proceedings of the Canadian Military History Conference, Ottawa, 5-9 May 2000 (National Defence 2001), pp. 59-67.

    Cassel notes (pp. 63-64):

    "Within it, the Canadian militia had an elite. This core was what the Canadian high command relied on for the most important military projects. In the 1680s Denonville and Champigny noted that coureurs de bois were best suited for war against the Iroquois. [22] In 1716, when he prepared for his successful campaign against the Fox, Louis de La Porte de Louvigny selected 225 marines and militiamen in Montreal and added 200 at Detroit and Michilimackinac. [23] The militiamen who excelled at war were a smaller core of tough fighters, many of whom spent their time out west - as Pouchot tells us. This group sustained the militia’s reputation for combat effectiveness."

    [22] Champigny au ministre, 6 nov 1687, AC C11a 9: 13; Denonville au ministre, 27 oct 1687,
    Ibid., 133; Callières au ministre, 1688 AC C11a 10: 148-9.

    [23] Vaudreuil au ministre, 14 oct 1716, AC C11a 36: 72v.
    I suspect that CFMs were augmented by engaging individual Canadians at the going rate for voyageurs (which was much higher than a soldier's pay). If so, the CFM included both regular military and what we today would call PMC's. Of course, the "civilian" engagés were subject to the military command structure; so, various present-day legal issues were avoided. Have to research that one further.

    I'm curious if, in researching the article, the CFM was considered. Not saying it should have been considered, since citation of a 300+ year old military concept is not likely to impress the PTB.

    BTW: I liked the article - and studied it.

  8. #28
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind words.


    What really drove that article were several critical factors:

    A. Transformation as it was put forward then and in its after effects did nothing for units below brigade.

    B. Demands placed on company and below on a non-linear battlefield replicate the demands placed on battalions and even brigades. I was trying to offer a concept company that would have the depth and the flexibility to operate semi-indepently while maintaining its own security and providing more of its own indirect fire support and CS security.

    C. Our personnel system is individual focused versus unit focused. As soon as a leader starts to get good at what he does, he changes jobs and will in most cases never do that same jpb again. That has long been the officer model; what is truly tragic is its application to the NCO corps. The consequence is that our critically limited combat maneuver forces remain on a 1 to 2 year learn and then start again to relearn cycle for their leaders. Remember that I wrote this in 2005-2005; personnel issues since then make it even more pressing.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    B. Demands placed on company and below on a non-linear battlefield replicate the demands placed on battalions and even brigades. I was trying to offer a concept company that would have the depth and the flexibility to operate semi-indepently while maintaining its own security and providing more of its own indirect fire support and CS security.
    I actually re-read the article the other day when I was doing some print outs. - and the comment you make here is excellent, but there is a flip side to this COIN (pardon the pun).

    While I accept that operations may well become more dispersed (if not highly dispersed), it does not automatically follow that assets, or even functions, should flown down to the company. - but I used to think it did!

    It could be that we need to get rid of units all together and have formations controlling and supporting up to 9-12 companies. This has benefits when it comes to things like Support Helicopters and UAVs. Also, S1, S2 and even S4 functions are not especially sensitive to spans of command so with the advent of good secure HF and distributable digital data, some things that used to take collocated specialist personnel might now be done more remotely. - I think.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default The "art of overruling"

    That art is appellate lawyer jargon for the techniques used to convince the Powers That Be to reverse a long-established precedent.

    1. The old precedent has been overturned in related areas by recent transformations (your Point A).

    2. Overturning the old precedent in those related areas has caused changes in the subject area, requiring transformations there which cannot be accommodated by the old precedent (your point B).

    3. A positive value will result from the new precedent, which is not and cannot be realized under the old precedent (your point C); and BTW, since I wrote the main brief, changes make it even more crucial to adopt the new precedent (the PS to your point C).

    Great advocacy technique.

    At which point, your bean-counter opponent will say.

    "Now, we're paying for 1 LT per platoon. This lunatic wants us to pay for 1 CPT and 2 LTs per platoon - with corresponding increases in NCO costs."

    "And, BTW, if we use our funds there, we will have to cut appropriations for the SuperDooper 3000XBQ Project, which will give us a single vehicle to be used for all conceivable land, sea (surface & below) and air operations - and even allow us to attack the Martians - and can be run completely from the SuperDooper 4000GFZ computer right over there - which can even think for itself."
    To paraphrase one of my law profs: "Courts often miss the obviously correct and logical answer because of trained indifference."

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    Default Organizing other formations for COIN

    Gentlemen,

    Fairly new to this forum so I'll keep it short.

    In Iraq, a great amount of our deployed formations are heavy brigade combat teams. There are only 4 infantry companies in these brigades. These companies are relatively (key word) easy to 'organize' for COIN since they are robust and fairly large. However, there are also 4 tank companies (62 men, pure), 3 cav troops, and an engineer company, to list the maneuver companies. Any specific thoughts on how to maximize our manpower to achieve similar effects?

    I will tell you from personal experience that the tank companies have to be significantly boosted through task/organization IOT maintain continual operations, even to include self security and a constant patrol presence.

    Appreciate some thoughts here.

    Tankersteve

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    Quote Originally Posted by tankersteve View Post
    Gentlemen,

    Fairly new to this forum so I'll keep it short.

    In Iraq, a great amount of our deployed formations are heavy brigade combat teams. There are only 4 infantry companies in these brigades. These companies are relatively (key word) easy to 'organize' for COIN since they are robust and fairly large. However, there are also 4 tank companies (62 men, pure), 3 cav troops, and an engineer company, to list the maneuver companies. Any specific thoughts on how to maximize our manpower to achieve similar effects?

    I will tell you from personal experience that the tank companies have to be significantly boosted through task/organization IOT maintain continual operations, even to include self security and a constant patrol presence.
    Hey Steve, welcome. Just because I don't know, how common was it for MECH BDE to have the Tank Co "put away the M1s" and patrol in humvees or light? Did most of your convoys roll with a mix of vehicles; i.e., Brads, M1s and Humvees? How did your unit augment the Tank Co? Combining them or attaching Soldiers from other units? How much bigger (or smaller) are the Cav troops in comparison with the Tank Co?
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  13. #33
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkm_101_fso View Post
    Hey Steve, welcome. Just because I don't know, how common was it for MECH BDE to have the Tank Co "put away the M1s" and patrol in humvees or light? Did most of your convoys roll with a mix of vehicles; i.e., Brads, M1s and Humvees? How did your unit augment the Tank Co? Combining them or attaching Soldiers from other units? How much bigger (or smaller) are the Cav troops in comparison with the Tank Co?
    Steve and I commanded in the same BN, but had widely different conditions in our sectors. Our challenge was that we were either "motorized" or "dual purposed" our tank companies. For example, after much protest I was allowed to take 6 of my 14 M1's, despite our experience in the OIF 1 Sadr rebllion, where we needed our tanks in a rush, and had to save elements 1st Cav which wasn't allowed to bring most of its armored vehicles.

    For an example of how I tasked organized with 4 platoons (2 motorized tank, 1 mech, 1 cbt eng), see this old threadhere - Post #6 lays out a couple of task organizations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy
    The tank platoon was essentially unable to dismount a sufficient force AND secure the vehicles that brought them there. The engineers had manpower but lacked firepower. I learned in OIF 1 that when under fire, you want a big gun available. To solve this problem, I task organized Blue and Green, so they looked like this:

    2x M1A1, 2x M113A3(+), 20 pax. The platoon could mix platforms, and dismount a squad of up to 12 on the ground and continue to man vehicles for over watch and/or reaction in support of the dismounts. (All my tankers were cross-trained as dismounted infantry)

    Over time this organization proved EXTREMELY flexible for the environment I was in. The units liked the mix too.

    About three months in, I received an additional 9x M1114's to my company. At the same time, route security was turned over to IP's and IA's in the daytime, freeing my Red Platoon.

    I was faced with a similar dilemma to the Blue/Green platoon - one hyper capable mech infantry platoon, and one under-capable dual purpose tank platoon. Based on my success, I task organized them as well.

    So by May each platoon looked like the following:

    Red - 23 pax, 1x M1A1, 2x M2A2, 3x M1114
    White - 23 Pax, 1x M1A1, 2x M2A2, 3x M1114
    Blue - 22 pax 2x M1A1. 2x M113, 2x M1114
    Green - 22 pax 2x M1A1, 2x M113, 2x M1114
    HQ - 2x M1114 (CO, 1SG), 1x M113 (XO and Jump CP)

    ....

    My PL's loved the flexibility, the soldiers of different MOS's bonded through working together, and the company operated much smoother.
    Bottom line, for low-end COIN the multi-functional platoon worked well.

    To Steve - I don't remember how you task organized. But the section of tank combined with a section of inf/eng worked wonders for me. IIRC, you were 2 tank 1 mech most of the time and stayed pure?

    Niel
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    Default At the risk of going off on a tangent...

    I was surprised by the recasting of the Engineer presence in the Heavy BCT's, from a company in each of the two maneuver battalions, to just one company for the entire BCT (with markedly fewer "blades" than what I was used to, in the AOE designs / L-series TOE's - and admittedly in the 3rd ACR, we had a larger than usual Engineer company organic to the regiment, and sometimes a Combat Engineer Battalion attached).

    In a light BCT, I think that you could get away with just one engineer company for the BCT, but in the heavy world, I think that you need one per maneuver battalion.

    Admittedly, the total number of engineers didn't change by much (and seems woefully inadequate), but it has few Brads and fewer "farm implements", and no AVLB's from what I saw. I would think that engineers would be just as useful in COIN as they would be in high-intensity combat - so I am surprised that Engineer branch seems to be, if anything, shrinking. (Not all engineers are EOD (12E, IIRC) but at least an engineer can build things, and carry a weapon on patrol, as opposed to the seemingly bloated MI corps that, from what I have heard, is producing little additional intel, even with all of the extra personnel that we throw into that branch.)

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    I was surprised by the recasting of the Engineer presence in the Heavy BCT's, from a company in each of the two maneuver battalions, to just one company for the entire BCT (with markedly fewer "blades" than what I was used to, in the AOE designs / L-series TOE's - and admittedly in the 3rd ACR, we had a larger than usual Engineer company organic to the regiment, and sometimes a Combat Engineer Battalion attached).

    In a light BCT, I think that you could get away with just one engineer company for the BCT, but in the heavy world, I think that you need one per maneuver battalion.

    Admittedly, the total number of engineers didn't change by much (and seems woefully inadequate), but it has few Brads and fewer "farm implements", and no AVLB's from what I saw. I would think that engineers would be just as useful in COIN as they would be in high-intensity combat - so I am surprised that Engineer branch seems to be, if anything, shrinking. (Not all engineers are EOD (12E, IIRC) but at least an engineer can build things, and carry a weapon on patrol, as opposed to the seemingly bloated MI corps that, from what I have heard, is producing little additional intel, even with all of the extra personnel that we throw into that branch.)
    I guess the need for organic combat engineers is deemed directly proportional to the number of heavy breaches one plans to conduct.

    As I understand, the idea is to task organize engineer assets to the BCT rather than maintaining a large organic breaching capability.

    My combat eng platoon was extremely flexible in Iraq, great professionals.
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    Well, I see your point, but to be fair, combat engineers are around for more than just conducting breaches - I recall that they got a good workout digging survivability positions, and between their Bradleys, bulldozer/"farm implement" type vehicles, and their secondary mission of "fight as infantry", I would think that engineers would be a very welcome addition to the severely limited combat power of the Heavy BCT (especially considering the anemic cav squadron that they have), even in the COIN environment. While horizontal and vertical construction may not be a combat engineer's forte, I would think that they would adapt to it more rapidly than any other MOS, and that is certainly useful in COIN. Compare this to the growing MOS of Military Intelligence, which while all agree that it would be nice to have good intelligence on the enemy, more personnel in MI does not equate to more intelligence...

    So, we went from one engineer brigade to each heavy division - three battalions, plus one battalion per light/abn/air assault division - along with some extra battalions as corps assets, down to... I think only two mobility enhancement brigades, and a weak engineer company for each BCT...

    (Someone with better knowledge of engineering can correct me, of course.)

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    Well, I see your point, but to be fair, combat engineers are around for more than just conducting breaches - I recall that they got a good workout digging survivability positions, and between their Bradleys, bulldozer/"farm implement" type vehicles, and their secondary mission of "fight as infantry", I would think that engineers would be a very welcome addition to the severely limited combat power of the Heavy BCT (especially considering the anemic cav squadron that they have), even in the COIN environment. While horizontal and vertical construction may not be a combat engineer's forte, I would think that they would adapt to it more rapidly than any other MOS, and that is certainly useful in COIN. Compare this to the growing MOS of Military Intelligence, which while all agree that it would be nice to have good intelligence on the enemy, more personnel in MI does not equate to more intelligence...

    So, we went from one engineer brigade to each heavy division - three battalions, plus one battalion per light/abn/air assault division - along with some extra battalions as corps assets, down to... I think only two mobility enhancement brigades, and a weak engineer company for each BCT...

    (Someone with better knowledge of engineering can correct me, of course.)
    Sabre,

    True dat.

    Agree it may be a limitation if we have to perform the deliberate defense.

    The big losers in modularity were the EN and FA community - both took huge hits.

    That said, the FBCT (as opposed to HBCT) is plused up again on "boots on the ground' numbers, but the Cav (RSTA) squadron gets eviscerated to one ground troop plus aviation and UAV's. (heresay!)

    The one good thing about the new proposed org is that it does have a much more robust infantry presence than the current BCT's, and back to three maneuver BN's as well.

    Below is a slide I pulled from Knox's website. Full brief is here.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  18. #38
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Mostly right

    Bliss took the worst hit...

    Lost all Div AD Bns... that's right all... all those BSFVs, Avengers, HUMMV mounted manpads with their radios, 50cals, and night vision gone.

    You can say what you like, but all that's left is Patriot and a Bn of Avenger pure.

    So with all apologies to En and FA... at least you still exist at echelons below Corps.
    Hacksaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    Bliss took the worst hit...

    Lost all Div AD Bns... that's right all... all those BSFVs, Avengers, HUMMV mounted manpads with their radios, 50cals, and night vision gone.

    You can say what you like, but all that's left is Patriot and a Bn of Avenger pure.

    So with all apologies to En and FA... at least you still exist at echelons below Corps.
    Oh yeah ... ADA, they're still a branch?

    At least they make good staffers.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  20. #40
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default What's ADA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Oh yeah ... ADA, they're still a branch?

    At least they make good staffers.
    Ouch. Low Blow.

    I believe ADA HQ is located at Sill now with FA, now part of the "Fires" community...
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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