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Old 12-19-2007   #1
Norfolk
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Default Infantry Unit Tactics, Tasks, Weapons, and Organization

Rex Brynen on the Platoon Weapons Thread made the eminently sensible observation that when we are looking at Squad, Section, and Platoon roles, weapons, and compositions, we should be considering the larger tactical circumstances in which they are operating. Here are Rex's proposals:

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...1&postcount=32
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Old 12-19-2007   #2
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I think the allocation of heavier weapons is determined by logistics requirements, system costs and C2/massing.

Since it lacks oversight the squad should have only direct fire weapons (especially when using the German system) - GPMG, automatic rifle, IWs. I'm not sure about the use of UGLs here. Probably not in regular units.

The platoon can handle the light support weapons that are not always needed - RPG, MGL. Here weapons are still handled by just one man.

Company level adds 80mm mortar and man portable guided missile crews, esp light ATGMs.

Such a setup, btw, probably favours light IW (like MP7) as standard equipment, since the weapons crews can carry those in addition to their main weapons, can support the rifles once their heavy stuff is gone, and are already equipped for missions that do not require their special weapons. Up to company level every man should be able to handle every weapon.


On the issue of APC/IMV/MRAP and IFV weaponry, I'd say for APCs and pure IFVs anti-infantry weapons (30cal, 40mm grenade launcher, &c) only.

But then if you go towards cavalry fighting vehicles/light-to-medium-tanks - all based on IFVs - some 25/30mm autocannon/heavier ATGM combo-turrets, 120mm mortar turrets, 40/57mm autocannon turrets (I think a tank-installed Mk110 could be interesting), SHORAD turrets.

I'm not sure how far into MBT territory a cavalry fighting vehicle should go, but mounting a 120mm gun like on the CV90120 I think is over the top and might lead to wrong tactical utilization.
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Old 12-19-2007   #3
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My thoughts are as follows,

Company Weapons.

I can see some merit having a company mortar detachment of 2 tubes. To ease company log issues and to enable dismounted ops, I’d stick with 60mm.

The company can probably also operate a Tactical UAV. It has the staff and C2 function that may well make that very useful.

The best fire support weapon for Platoons is, IMO, guided weapons like Javelin, Spike, or even an update of the old M47 Dragon.

APCs.

An essential piece of equipment which no infantry unit should be without, if required.
Need to carry 8 men, so as to get a useful Platoon load out of 4 vehicles.
Remote Weapons Stations are extremely useful, and if they can also fire the same guided weapon that the Platoon uses then that is also extremely useful.
I don’t care if its wheeled or tracked as long as the mobility capability matches the mission requirement and the most commonly encountered threat, so the same goes for the levels of protection.

I think MICVs are better suited to reconnaissance, so that's a different role.
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Old 12-19-2007   #4
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Good point about the UAVs.
Didn't think about that while writing, though I'm usually an UAV guy ...
But I would not neccessarily integrate an UAV into a company, only give it a data receiver station. Assuming that we talk foot soldiers here only micro/mini-UAVs come into question - they are nice and developing fast, but their capabilities are quite limited so far. And I wouldn't integrate too many non-shooters in too low echelons, also because of ECM/ECCM issues and advanced homing-on-emitter ammo. Of course in the future we're not only talking UAVs, but also UGVs. UAV/UGVs I'd put higher up (battalion level plus), together with ISR assets, like SIGINT. And once they reach autonomy they will filter down through all the echelons, but I'd start with them at battalion level.


Guided missiles on platoon level is not realistic, too expensive. Esp since they are needed only for certain missions. And if organized in fire crews on a higher level they can be distributed downwards if needed, anyways.
Precision-attack capability for squad/platoon level could be realized by targeting capability for PGMMs.


Why only 60mm mortars? The Wehrmacht had quite good experience with the 3-men crew served sGrW34. A lot more punch than 60mm, I think it justifies the higher weight/less rounds ammo. Esp when combined with a MGL at platoon level. To save weapons weight use a short barrel. No need to reach out to 5000M+ in my opinion. How do you ID targets so far out?
(Even though I have to admit that the follow-on to sGrW34, Granatwerfer 37, was designed to reach out to 4500m+; but the reason for that might be non-tactical).


That brings up another question: So squads are seldom fighting beyond 200m. Meaning platoons neither. What should then be the reach of an infantry company? I think 2500 to 3000m is realistic. Opinion?
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Old 12-19-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by Distiller View Post
Good point about the UAVs.

1. Didn't think about that while writing, though I'm usually an UAV guy ., but I'd start with them at battalion level.

2. Guided missiles on platoon level is not realistic, too expensive.

3. Why only 60mm mortars?

4. So squads are seldom fighting beyond 200m.
1. I'm happy with Coy. Gives the Coy Comd a view of each platoon objective and if the company is working away from the Battle Group, it still has a UAV capability. Also the UAV product gets fed to platoons very quickly. If the UAV is at BG level there is a whole new level of command for stuff to jam up in.

2. Most US Squads have Javelin and did have Dragon. Platoon seems ideal. Spike MR is so capable that it requires a whole new view of Platoon weapons.

3. Having carried 2 x 81mm mortar bombs across Germany, Canada, and Cyprus, I am not a fan unless they are vehicle mounted. Also 60mm mortar ammo can be used in light hand held mortars.

4. I don't think squads seldom fight beyond 200m, to the extent we should limit the capability to that other than to recognise the limit of IWs as concerns marksmanship. I'd want a platoon to hit out 1000m min and 2000m better. Javelin goes to 3,200m IIRC and
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Old 12-19-2007   #6
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@ #1: Hm. I see your point. But: Look here, an advanced system.
http://www.rafael.co.il/marketing/SI...ILES/7/617.pdf
The control station is big as a full-size fridge. No way you can haul that on your back.

@ #2: Since I'm not U.S. I didn't know. You have to be rich to place it on squad level.
The reason I would want to place a Spike-MR on company level, is that I don't want to grow the platoon into a mini-company.
And I mean, how many tanks will you encounter out there that made it through smart stand-off subammo >> fighterbombers >> fast-mover CAS >> a/t-helicopters >> smart artillery rounds, to finally wind up in front of your platoon? And for anti-structure jobs a RPG-style weapon or PGMM seems more cost effective to me.

@ #3: Didn't say it's fun . That's why using a MGL at platoon level.

@ #4: Ok, understood - in your platoon 60mm mortars and ATGMs would be capable of doing that.
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Old 03-24-2008   #7
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I have thouroughly enjoyed these threads and associated links. This stuff has interested me for many years.

Here is my proposal for light inf. platoon org.

Platoon HQ Capt.
Pl.sgt.
2x sig.
Weapons squad (6 men) 2x 8.6mm Lapua Magnum rifles (2 pers.)
1x 60mm commando mortar (3 pers.)
1x squad leader
2x section (each 20 men) 1x Lt. with IW
1x section sgt. with IW
3x 6man squad: 1x leader with IW
1x 2ic NCO also no.2 on gun
1x 7.62 Minimi (FNH or Mk48)
1x IW with UGL
2x riflemen with IW
(squad leader leads 4 man rifle group and 2ic
leads gun group)

This gives the platoon 6 rifle squads of 6 pers each, with a total of 6 7.62 LMGs. No 5.56 LMGs or 7.62 GPMGs at platoon level. (kiss)

This section is small enough to chop and change without affecting the 'band of brothers' bonds too much. Everyone knows each other.

When required (and in line with Lionel Wigram's theories) the 3 guns can group under the section sgt. and the 3 4man rifle teams under the Lt.
When 10 men groupings are favorable one squad can split up.
When USMC size 'squads' are needed, regroup into 2-squad teams (plenty of rank available to lead them).
When anti armour or bunker busters are required, hand out something like the Matador in whatever numbers required, or lighter weapons like AT4CS or SMAW-D or even the good old M72 (CS versions under development). Against MBT use the new UK MBT-LAW or Pzf3 IT600. I have also got my eyes on the IMI Shipon. Enough of that for now!

There appears to be a consensus, for many reasons, that for a section to operate independently, it needs to be over 10 strong. And even then it may need additional support. However, the 'standard' platoon of 30 to 50 is too large, and a waste of pers, to commit to section/squad tasks.

I have considered having 3 sections to a platoon but:
-Makes platoon very large and therefore also the company and batalion excessively large. (if we stick with 3+1 all the way up)
-Turns the platoon into a miniature coy and therefore the section into a miniature platoon and that wil totally defeat the purpose.
-Makes the platoon so large that the 'family' bond becomes a nonevent which makes chopping and changing through the squads less attractive.

The big question is, do we use 5,56 lmg's and/or 7.62 gpmg's? It appears that the UK (and I think also US) infantry in the sandbox try their hardest to get as many gimpy's right down to section/squad level as they can. They sometimes operate literally with more mg's than rifles. How to measure to what extent that firepower is truly effective (read Karcher etc.) and to what extent it feeds a perception of (macho?) invulnerability.
5.56 lmg's have replaced (in most army's now) 7.62 gpmg's because of obvious weight issues. If it is however still that important to the troops to maintain 7.62 at lower levels, then how effective is 5.56 next to 7.62 and is there reallly much point in having both side by side?
This is where I propose the 7.62 Minimi. At least the gun itself is an lmg. The ammo however is stil #%^&* heavy. (Ohhh, for the 70's 6mm saw or the 6.5 Grendel, for which my 6 man squad would be best suited.) Using a 7.62 Minimi in a 6 man team sort of averages between what we see happening now with 4man teams with a 5.56 lmg each and a gpmg attached per 2 or so fire teams. Also ammo resup is simplified as 7.62 belts are the same as those used for vehicle mounted gpmg's and tripod mounted sfmg's at coy and batalion level.

Too much rank in my platoon? Rank is not only an appointed level within the hierarchy. It is (to be hoped) also an indication of education and experience. Not all the rankers need to be in charge of a body of troops all the time. Some can be assigned roles like support fire coordination, intel etc.
The platoon commander could for instance pull one or both section Lt's back for these roles and leave the nco's to lead the troops, depending on situ.
Also, having a large section led by higher rank would be in line with USMC DO concepts and the article 'Transformation: Victory rests with small units.' It was this article from which I borrowed the idea of a 2 section platoon. However, I have 3 squads instead of 2 and much smaller. I have created a shift to having a squad halfway between the current fire team and the current section/squad, eliminating the fire team concept as such. So my section is really the smallest org to conduct effective F&M, even after 30% losses. (Or, if things get desperate, combinations of 2 squads) In the article it is already suggested that the platoon (with one of its four squads of 14 as a weapons squad) becomes a pocket coy which, as I mentioned earlier, I want to avoid.

I had better cut this shorter than I intended to. My apologies for this long story, hope I haven't bored anyone.
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Old 03-24-2008   #8
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Quote:
I had better cut this shorter than I intended to. My apologies for this long story, hope I haven't bored anyone.
For a first post, you've definitely struck a chord. Excellent one at that...I just need to digest it a bit.

and outstanding avatar selection by the way. Where by chance did you happen to come across that image?
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Old 03-24-2008   #9
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outstanding avatar selection by the way. Where by chance did you happen to come across that image?

The image is of an unofficial NZ forces armpatch. The official Kiwi is more passive and unarmed.
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Old 03-24-2008   #10
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Cool Schway!

Now that was an interesting post, one that makes you really think. A pair - Commando-style - of Wigramian "Sections", each composed of three Owen-style "Squads". Light, agile, easy to control, yet very hard hitting - 6 x 7.62m LMGs in a Platoon?! That's a whole lot of firepower!!! Plus the ever-useful 60 mm mortar, a pair of .338 Lapuas, UGLs, and AT weapons carried to taste.

Welcome to Small Wars, KiwiGrunt, and we are rather happy to have you with us. Please introduce yourself to the Council members here. We are looking forward to seeing more of your posts.
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Old 03-24-2008   #11
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Default Wigram Grouping

I am working on Wigram Grouping a lot at the moment, with a a friend of mine in the UK who runs a Regimental training team.

The whole point of Wigram's idea was,

a.) Use with almost any amount of troops found in a platoon, so 18-40.
b.) It used exactly the same method of Manoeuvre as was taught to sections in the 1940/1 "Battlecraft" manual, but applied to the platoon. Wigram had never taught 'section manoeuvre' and his original manual discussed the "section IN the Attack", NOT, the "Section Attack."
c.) The Group contained three complementary elements of, "Reconnaissance" - The Rifle Group, "Suppression-Strike" - the Brens, and "HE-Projection" - The 2-inch mortar.

So a 30 man platoon could be,

Recce Group, = 3 x 5 man teams with IWs and TIWS
Strike Group = 2 x 5 man teams - each team with GPMG
STA team = 1 x 5 man team with 60mm light Mortar (M6-640) and 1 x 8.6mm rifle.
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- 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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Old 03-24-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
.

Here is my proposal for light inf. platoon org.

Platoon HQ Capt.
Pl.sgt.
2x sig.
Weapons squad (6 men) 2x 8.6mm Lapua Magnum rifles (2 pers.)
1x 60mm commando mortar (3 pers.)
1x squad leader
2x section (each 20 men) 1x Lt. with IW
1x section sgt. with IW
3x 6man squad: 1x leader with IW
1x 2ic NCO also no.2 on gun
1x 7.62 Minimi (FNH or Mk48)
1x IW with UGL
2x riflemen with IW
(squad leader leads 4 man rifle group and 2ic
leads gun group)
First off, nice effort. My feedback would be,

a.) You may want to look at carried individual loads. Crunch some numbers. I have core data if that helps.

b.) You grouped the 8.6mm LRR with the 60mm! - Excellent idea. I had discussed this with some folks before, as the 60mm really needs a hand held LRF, and that is normally LRR type kit.

c.) IMO, do not split the manoeuvre/function of a 6 man fireteam. Have all of them supporting the Gun, = 3 gun handlers and 3 Ammo carriage and security.

d.) Why have you got dedicated signallers? Does your platoon carry HF sets?

Any ideas of how this set up is actually operated? As per NZ Infantry doctrine?
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- 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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Old 03-25-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
First off, nice effort. My feedback would be,

a.) You may want to look at carried individual loads. Crunch some numbers. I have core data if that helps.

b.) You grouped the 8.6mm LRR with the 60mm! - Excellent idea. I had discussed this with some folks before, as the 60mm really needs a hand held LRF, and that is normally LRR type kit.

c.) IMO, do not split the manoeuvre/function of a 6 man fireteam. Have all of them supporting the Gun, = 3 gun handlers and 3 Ammo carriage and security.

d.) Why have you got dedicated signallers? Does your platoon carry HF sets?

Any ideas of how this set up is actually operated? As per NZ Infantry doctrine?
First of all, thanks all for such immediate and enthusiastic response. I’m honored.

a) I am aware of weight of 7.62 belt and don't like it (as I touched on in my post). I do indeed love the 5.56 LMG with ability for gunner to carry plenty ammo by his little lonesome. Am aware that 2man gimpy group with no2 carrying an IW gives approx. 15 kg of weapons alone. That is the exact equivalent of the same 2 pers carrying 2 5.56 LMGs. Each of these two 5.56 gunners can carry the same number of rounds as the 7.62 gun group, by themselves, for the same weight penalty. My reason for going 7.62 though is the apparent need for 7.62 at section (or near-section) level.
What we are seeing more frequently now in the sand box, is GPMGs being added to LMGs at section level. Do they really compliment each other at that level or is it a case of not being able to make up our minds as to which caliber to go for?
b) Suppose I got that right without trying! Technology is really starting to catch up here though. (In Civvy Street you can now get LRFs up to about 1200m, the size of a packet of cigarettes.) Mortar team should really have their own. You got me thinking though, should I add a no2 to the 8.6 rifles? Are the Brits doing that with their 8.6 rifles at platoon level?
c) If all 6 men are there only to support the gun, then it is hardly a maneuver unit. It becomes a support unit. Even in ‘old’ gungroup/riflegoup scenario’s the riflemen carried extra belt for the gimpy but the gun group was still only 2 or 3 strong. The rifle group was still just that. In fact, didn’t Wigram propose exactly that (separating the guns from the rifles when needed)?
d) I must admit ignorance here. Coms is an area I have never looked into very much. When I left the army 6 years ago, we were still using Vietnam era PRC-77 sets. Even at section level a rifleman was appointed as radio operator. If technology here has advanced to the point that the platoon commander carries his own radio, I’ll happily sack the sigs. (takes a few pers off a relatively large platoon). Would it not be prudent though to have a sig. baby sitting ‘up hill’ radio traffic while pl.com. concentrates on running the platoon?
e)Not NZ doctrine. NZ doctrine has always been fairly close to UK doctrine, with maybe a personal flavor based on experience in Vietnam. Not sure how things have changed since LAV3 replaced M113. When I joined we actually still operated gungroup/riflegroup principals with our 5.56 weapons, with one C9 LSW per 10 man section. It was not until late 90’s that we were given an additional C9 and 203 to apply fire teams.
As for ‘my’ platoon, I can see advantages with my additional officers and sergeants (read also Tom’s article on transformation) but I can also see plenty of potential for over management and over analyzing and debating rather than decision making (at levels as low as section/platoon.)

Oh dear, another long one…that’s what you get though when asking lot’s of questions. But hey, bring it on. That’s what this is all about isn’t it?

P.S. Is Wilgram's battlecraft manual available on line? Love to read it.
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Old 03-25-2008   #14
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P.S. Is Wilgram's battlecraft manual available on line? Love to read it.
Sadly not. I know of one surviving copy and it is held in a UK School of Infantry archive. 4 years ago, I got to sit and read it, and was allowed to copy a couple of sections. Last I heard, it had got some bad water damage from being stored in a damp box. I did try to get it made into a .pdf by the Tactical Doctrine Retrieval Cell, but they were "busy."

The nearest document to pure Wigram is the 1942 THE INSTRUCTOR'S HANDBOOK OF FIELDCRAFT AND BATTLE DRILL
http://www.helion.co.uk/product.asp?...379&P_ID=13119 - This is a reprint. I have an original !

This is actually extremely good and well worth studying if you are interested in Infantry Doctrine.
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- 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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Old 03-26-2008   #15
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The closest to this “1942 THE INSTRUCTOR'S HANDBOOK OF FIELDCRAFT AND BATTLE DRILL”, that I have is “The Instructors handbook on FIELDCRAFT and BATTLE DRILL 1943”. But that is a reprint with amendment No 1, dated Sept 1943. This is an Australian print of the manual not the British printing.

Actually I was more impressed with the following “Infantry Minor Tactics-1941” an Australian pam. It appears in some areas more orientated for the AMF than the AIF.

The 43 manual seemed to contradict some of the material in the IMT 41 book. Some of the IMT material was reinforced with brig Wooden’s AAR after Milne Bay, Sep 42 so it is a bit hard to make comparisons.

As I scanned both these at something like 150% actual size and about 200 dpi the files are not exactly emailable; 500- 700 MB in size. If wanted it can only go by snail mail.
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