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Old 02-09-2007   #21
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
You needn't coach me on our personnel system, I am painfully familiar with it, but this is the essence of the majority of our problems, and why I think we'll more outsourcing of security in the future (see John Robb's blog for details on outsourcing). Our military organization does not adapt quickly, so we're forced to fight with inefficiently designed organizations. Our non-state enemy on the other hand can adapt overnight. We're forced to some extent (though commanders can task organize the forces they have within limits) to fight with what we have, and a squad and platoon, and company and so forth we're designed to fight a major land battle in the Fulda Gap (and we're not ideally organized for that). The danger is we design tactics based on the design of our organizations, thus in reality we define the tactical problem to fit our preconceived solution. What is a particular mission called for a 15 man squad, and another called for a 6 man squad? Of course we can do it, but how often do we? Buddy you can't grab my people, stay out of my rice bowl.

METT-TC should drive task organization, not just we need two squad here, a platoon there, but we need two squads that look like this, and a platoon with this capability.

Obviously our MTOE system doesn't allow us to simply have a pool of bodies that we can plug and play with. Furthermore unit adhesion is a combat multiplier, so the risk of too much flexibility is limited cohersion. I think our enemy gets past that with a powerful ideology.

O.K., I got that off my chest, so back to the ideal squad (presumably for combat maneuver). I think it is 12 men. A four man assault/manuever force, a four man support section, and a four man C2/floater section (sqd ldr, medic, two rifle men) that not only direct the effort, but can weight the effort either towards maneuver or support element, depending on where the squad leader places this section. I went with four per section instead of three to facilitate maintaining a viable force even with a certain % of casualties. No I didn't base this off an ODA, a perfect ODA should probably be around 15 men, and they shouldn't be maneuvering like a squad.
Bill,
In the new era of fighting, i think our MTO & E is just as pliable as our units. I am not educated, per-se in the arts of warfare (or typing, for that matter) but I DO have BOG insight. Our unit was a horizontal construction unit (read: CSE) and transformed into a trailblazer (21B) unit. By the end of our tour, the BCSM wished he had a whole battalion of units like us. Our unit was adaptive, and flexible. Yes, we all have our PMOS's, but that doesn't mean we have to stick to that MTO & E doctrine.
IDEALLY, you are correct, a 12 man movement team works. But, isn't that too big for command/control? If the whole squad is BOG in an AO, and a squad leader is trying to keep tabs on an escalated situation, seperate from any higher for days at a time, there has to be a limit on the number of personnel. Isn't 12 too many for one leader to work with?
Are there any squad leaders out there with first hand knowledge? I would be interested to hear their points of view.
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Old 02-09-2007   #22
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And, while I am on my soapbox: All newly commissioned 2LTs should go through the following prior to attending OBC: CLS, Level 1 Combatives, a week to two week long hands-on course covering BFT, FBCB2, and current radio systems (SINCGARS, ANCDs, MBITRs, ICOMs, satellite phones, TACSAT...), a week to two weeks of weapons (Mk19 on down to include hand grenades and perhaps the bayonet assault course) PMI and standard qualification along with an introduction, with familiarzation fire, with optics and the various designators, and an introductory weeklong classroom symposium, with assigned reading, covering the history and basics of COIN and also "cultural awareness" courses on the current relevant culture(s) (New 2LTs will get firehose fed 3rd generation/"march-up" tactics at their OBC). Also, the new 2LTs should get option of attending airborne and/or air assault prior to OBC. However, they should wait until after their OBC to attend schools like Ranger or Sapper Leader.
Jonslack, the Marine Corps already gets that with its Basic School (6 months) period of instruction for all newly minted 2ndLts before they go to their MOS school. The thrust of it is to get them basically trained to operate at the level of a rifle platoon commander. I've always wondered why the Army didn't have a similar system.

SGTMILLS, pls define what BOG means. I think I know but want to make certain, because I want to delve deeper into this subject.

Aside from having been both a rifle platoon and weapons platoon commander, I was also a troop once, and had the opportunity to attend the Corps' squad leader course. I've also had some very interesting self-education in vintage distributed operations, from the Long Range Desert Group and the Rhodesian Light Infantry/Rhodesian African Rifles. To that end, I've done a lot of reading on how the Rhodesians organized for COIN ops, and the tactical scenarios they faced are very interesting. Much of it is anectdotal, but illuminating nonetheless.

I'm going to chew on this and try to push out a cogent reply over the weekend. The following are my notes to pull initial thoughts back together again:

-current communication capabilities PRR/MBITR
-SAW vs. GPMG
-Permanent structure and task designations vs. basic units that can perform all tasks
-How the mobility platform changes the dynamic
-Rhodesian distributed operations (time/space, communications, fire force ops, etc.)
-Support weapons (SMAW/AT-4/SMAW-D: whatever happened to that?)
do we need new ones to reflect the threat
-Common operational picture tools (e.g. urban warrior, the now-defunct Land Warrior)
-Calkie White input if applicable
-DMR vs. ACOG in application
-fighter leader concept
-being at the point of decision vs. point of friction
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Old 02-09-2007   #23
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BOG = Boots On Ground. Sorry for the mix up.
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Old 02-12-2007   #24
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Jonslack, the Marine Corps already gets that with its Basic School (6 months) period of instruction for all newly minted 2ndLts before they go to their MOS school. The thrust of it is to get them basically trained to operate at the level of a rifle platoon commander. I've always wondered why the Army didn't have a similar system.
Well, I figure for the CS and CSS 2LTs it is because the system needs to crank them out ASAP because they have got CPTs slots to fill. For the Combat Arms 2LTs, for those that don't get put on staff for the duration of their LT years, I think the assumption is they'll earn it through OJT. Or perhaps the reason is because there is some question of which part of the institutional army should be responsible for it, TRADOC or Accessions/Cadet Command.

Who knows, it is echleons above me.
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Old 02-14-2007   #25
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Jonslack, the Marine Corps already gets that with its Basic School (6 months) period of instruction for all newly minted 2ndLts before they go to their MOS school. The thrust of it is to get them basically trained to operate at the level of a rifle platoon commander. I've always wondered why the Army didn't have a similar system.
I was under the impression that the purpose of the Army's new BOLC I and BOLC II for newly commissioned 2LTs was to provide them with the skills necessary to lead a provisional rifle platoon. Friends of mine who were funneled through the AROTC pipeline last year were among the first crop of 2LTs to go to BOLC.
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Old 02-14-2007   #26
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I was under the impression that the purpose of the Army's new BOLC I and BOLC II for newly commissioned 2LTs was to provide them with the skills necessary to lead a provisional rifle platoon. Friends of mine who were funneled through the AROTC pipeline last year were among the first crop of 2LTs to go to BOLC.
As a primary BOLC III Recon Tactics SGI, I'll tell you this:

BOLC I is the precommissioning source,
BOLC II is the standard "common core" training subjects. Depending on where they go (Sill or Benning), to quote Animal Farm "All LTs are equal, some are more equal than others"

By the time they get to us they're about 5 months after commissioning. I get them in tactics for about 30 of the 86 days they're in BOLC III. The school is ever changing as we're constantly revising and improving the system. Total training days is a moving target but we're beginning to get a handle on it. LTs are getting to the point where they can intelligently talk and apply tactics, in some cases better than the career course students. At the final FTX, where CCC students play company commanders, this is sometiems strangely and sadly apparent. We've got a little way to go, but we're getting better every day.
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Old 06-11-2007   #27
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I've seen elsewhere that the Marine Corps is looking to adopt a true automatic rifle; heavy barrel, magazine fed, firing from an open bolt. This is partly because the M249 SAWs are wearing out and partly because they've never truly been comfortable with a belt fed light machine gun in the AR role at fire team level.

However, it seems they want to keep a light machine gun at some level in addition to adopting an AR. They evaluated two alternate platoon and squad organizations for AR and SAW employment. The traditional 13 man squad was used in both test organizations.

The first test organization kept the SAW at squad level but moved them all to one fire team. The squad's two remaining fire teams each had an AR.

The second test organization consolidated all the platoon's SAWs into an LMG squad. The remaining two rifle squads had one AR in each fire team.

The Marine Corps felt the first organization evaluated better overall but the second organization proved better at MOUT. The AR equipped rifle squads were able to gain entry to a building easier under the massed suppressive fire put out by an LMG squad. Once inside, the squads with only ARs were more effective at room clearing.

Since a platoon might go from urban to rural - and back again - within a short period of time which would you prefer? A SAW heavy team in each squad or a SAW heavy squad in the platoon?
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Old 06-11-2007   #28
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I've seen elsewhere that the Marine Corps is looking to adopt a true automatic rifle; heavy barrel, magazine fed, firing from an open bolt. This is partly because the M249 SAWs are wearing out and partly because they've never truly been comfortable with a belt fed light machine gun in the AR role at fire team level.

However, it seems they want to keep a light machine gun at some level in addition to adopting an AR. They evaluated two alternate platoon and squad organizations for AR and SAW employment. The traditional 13 man squad was used in both test organizations.

The first test organization kept the SAW at squad level but moved them all to one fire team. The squad's two remaining fire teams each had an AR.

The second test organization consolidated all the platoon's SAWs into an LMG squad. The remaining two rifle squads had one AR in each fire team.

The Marine Corps felt the first organization evaluated better overall but the second organization proved better at MOUT. The AR equipped rifle squads were able to gain entry to a building easier under the massed suppressive fire put out by an LMG squad. Once inside, the squads with only ARs were more effective at room clearing.

Since a platoon might go from urban to rural - and back again - within a short period of time which would you prefer? A SAW heavy team in each squad or a SAW heavy squad in the platoon?
How did they test what's better at MOUT? Did they do some MILES-based simulations in those tiny one block-sized training sites? I remember only such training sites with quite large fields of fire and distances between buldings. Nothing like Arab or South American slum urban environments.

About your question; according to your description, the difference is primarily a question of what's the minimum size for independent missions.
Does the MC want to have squads to do missions independently using their better stealth by exploitin micro terrain than a platoon would have or do they want to have a force consisting of many platoons as smallest maneuver element?
As far as I know it's the trend since WW2 that squads should if possible (depends on training quality and length) be the smallest maneuver unit. Platoon sized units have more trouble with unetected flanking and so on.
The overall trend to dispersion adds to this.
So I'd say that a relatively large squad like a 13 man squad should be the smallest maneuver element and not the platoon. This requires (combined) arms integration at squad level. Version 1 would be preferrable.

If version 2 is superior in a specific environment, the PltLdr could still concentrate the LMG fireteams and let the squads maneuver without their organic SAWs.
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Old 10-02-2007   #29
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I wrote an article for Military Review (with a retired Sergeant Major of the Army and a former CSM of Ops Grp) on the subject of small units. We started at the company and went down to squad.

We argued for a larger squad built on 3's and providing a maneuver, support, and a breach element. We wanted to make the squad as much a combined arms element as we could and we also sought to make it more self-sustaining. I advocated 3 man versus buddy teams; 3s provide greater duration and depth.

My argument also looked at tests run by GEN DePuy as the 1st TRADOC commander. DePuy tested everything; in this case, he tested the various combinations of support and maneuver ; by a clear margin the best ratio of support to maneuver was 2 to 1. A balanced squad cannot do that as it is organized; it must reorganize and/or be reinforced.
Gen. DePuy's tests were certainly rigorous, and as shown in Gen. Gorman's book as well as Gen. DePuy's own papers those tests arrived at what were considered surprising, even shocking results at the time. It's too bad that some of DePuy's innovations were either stillborn or faded out over the years.

The 3-man team, as Tom Odom said, offers greater depth than the traditional buddy team. If one man goes down in a firefight, there still two more to carry one, rather than a lone rifleman left stuck looking for someone to watch his back. And it's a lot easier to construct, man, fight, and maintain a battle trench/foxhole with three guys than just two. The PLA, the PAVN/NVA, and the VC amongst others all insisted on the 3-man cell as the ideal building block of the infantry squad (squad leader and 3 cells). Besides providing either a full crew for a machine gun or rocket launcher, or an assault team for breaking into trenches or clearing rooms, it provides moral (and morale) support in a way that you just can't get with a buddy team. As the saying goes, 'Three's Company". Less isolation and loneliness and more hands to do the work. Except during battle or on patrol, one guy on the parapet, one guy cooking, cleaning, or working, and one guy sleeping.

Of course, there are some issues to deal with. As the Marines found in 1944 after converting to the 10-man squad with three 3-man fire teams, battle losses compelled them to add a fourth man to each team. Gen. DePuy remarked at least a few times that a squad would often routinely operate with only 4, 5, or 6 guys (out of what was in his TRADOC days an 11-man squad). That adds up to two 3 man teams at most; a 13-man Marine squad might make 6 men more or less consistently under conditions of heavy battle attrition. I see Tom Odom's article recommends a 14-man squad for most battle functions.

You've also got to have enough men, for enough teams, to avoid having to constantly reorganize the squad for each task that come up, even after suffering battle losses. Frequent reorganization disrupts and even breaks down working relationships between individuals, and this loss of cohesion is felt afterwards until everyone settles down and gets to know how each person works. And of course, battle attrition lends itself to the need for frequent enough reorganization as it is.

But DePuy (as both Gen. Gorman and Col. Odom point out) had an answer (actually two) to this battle attrition problem, the "One Up, Two Back" formation in the attack, and the PARFOX in the defence. DePuy himself of course tested this using the squads in the platoon, and when platoons used one squad to first make contact while keeping the other two in reserve, then suppressing the enemy with two squads and assaulting with the third, something like 88% of these "One Up, Two Back" platoon attacks were successful. Attacker losses were reduced by something like half if I remember correctly. None of the other platoon attack tactical formations even come close (even the one with attached AT team). Now, given that the squads themselves just had two fire teams each, it's not necessarily proven, but certainly logical that the same tactics would work for a squad with 3 fire teams if it was detached on an independent mission. And in the defence, the innovative Parapet Foxhole (mind you, with 2 guys in the hole) also reduced losses by about half compared to the ordinary foxhole, and led to a much greater rate of success in the defence.

A counter-argument to this might be that, well, the squad is just a fire unit and it's the platoon that is the basic manoeuvre unit, so it's not necessary for the squad to have more than two teams; it just has to alternate fire and movement between teams until one is close enough to assault, and that the other squads in the platoon can provide suppression throughout. Well, suppose that's so. With apologies to the late Gen. DePuy, how are any of those squads supposed to maintain at least 6 men (in two 3 man teams) in order to keep fighting out of just a 9 man squad (which was forced upon DePuy and his successors due to manning restrictions)? And this is assuming a full-strength 9-man squad to begin with, quite an assumption to make. And of course, a two-team squad renders it incapable of using the "One-Up, Two-Back" attack formation that is so crucial to both a successful attack and cutting you losses by up to half compared to other tactics.

I think that when all is said and done, the 13-man USMC rifle squad, for most conventional infantry operations, is the best bet overall (notwithstanding the Marine's 15-man CAP squads in Vietnam, mind you, but that was still unconventional warfare): leadership and supervision (4 NCOs per squad - ideally); tactical flexibility (3 teams and a squad leader free to move where he needs to go, and not have to fight a team of his own); staying power (4 man teams to absorb losses); firepower (3 LMGs, 3 underslung grenade launchers); and enough straight rifleman (6) to clear trenches and rooms while sustaining losses.

As for Col. Odom's making a permanent distinction between breach squads and assault squads, I have to say that each rifle squad should be trained to make the breach even if one squad is already designated as and kitted out for, that task in say, a deliberate attack. Something might happen to that squad or it may become so depleted by losses that another squad may have to make the breach instead. Granted, I'm coming from a Commonwealth Army background, and circumstances in the US Army (or USMC for that matter) may be substantially different, but we certainly trained to make the breach, and doctrinally we were to have an assault pioneer platoon (from battalion) and possibly a field engineer troop (from brigade) in support of an infantry battalion for that purpose. But we weren't allowed to think for a moment that we weren't expected to do that ourselves, with or without the help of the pioneers or the engineers. We had the training and the equipment, all of us in the rifle platoon.

I'd feel a lot better though, if having to do that for real, I had a 13-man squad, and not an 8-man section to do the job.

Last edited by Norfolk; 10-02-2007 at 10:50 PM. Reason: Fire and Movement, not Fire and Manoeuvre
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Old 10-02-2007   #30
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Thumbs up Good post. Having worked with both the

13 man Marine rifle squad (prior to the M-79) and the old 11 man Army Rifle Squad (too old to have suffered the current very, very dumb 9 man Squad) in peacetime and combat, I have absolutely no doubt that the 13 man is the best solution. By a very significant margin.

Also agree that a well trained rifle Squad can do all it's jobs; that one going in -- preferably by infiltration -- and two in support is vastly preferable to the old 'two up and one back' routine.

I think that Platoon operations should be the norm but that independent squad action in a great many situations is desirable (particularly in COIN). Such independence is, I think limited by two factors; most commonly fear of loss of oversight and thus being blamed if something goes wrong; and a failure to understand that the average unit can be trained to do far more than we normally allow them to do.

I'm not sure we can afford that hesitation and lack of faith given todays costs in dollars and difficulties in recruiting for other than combat jobs -- the latter meaning that the CSS tail has to be cut because the sharp aggressive kids will not serve there by choice.

Lot of wasted potential...
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Old 10-12-2007   #31
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Default 1 Up, 3 Back - Over the Pond and Down Under.

It seems someone in Britain has been testing much the same sort of infantry tactics as Rommel and DePuy were into. David Kilcullen found that the Brits were doing heavy suppression work back in the '90s (I seem to remember that the Brits were somewhat unsettled by the infantry losses they suffered at the hands of poorly-led Argentinian, and must have pondered what would have happened if they'd had to face a rather more competent enemy. Apparently, British Army experiments came to the conclusion that a ratio of 3 suppression elements to 1 assault element produced a successful "repeatable formula" (I cringe when I hear that sort of langauge) to be used in the infantry attack.

Kilcullen subsequently tested this "formula" out on the Indonesians in East Timor in 1999, and he recalls that it worked like a charm. Here's the article he wrote on this whole matter:

http://www.defence.gov.au/army/lwsc/AAJ_I1.asp

It's less comprehensive than DePuy's studies, and more or less follows Rommels' and DePuy's own observations, as it offers much the same sort of tactical "solution" to the infantry attack but from a different perspective. but I think that it's still worth a look. Particularly interesting are his observations on how infantry actually move in contacy; autonomously and without orders, yet doing so fully in accordance with the tactical situation in mind - what he calls "Flocking".

Last edited by jcustis; 12-22-2009 at 06:34 PM. Reason: fixed the dead link
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Old 10-12-2007   #32
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Default Good link, thanks.

Most of our minor tactics are marginal to poor. He mentions in there that the lead element often got pinned down and could do nothing. Our doctrine says that the lead element 'returns fire, suppresses enemy fire and develops the situation.' I saw that done repeatedly in Korea -- and I saw that it flat did not work.

I always told folks that the job of the lead element coming under fire -- when they almost certainly were going to be out gunned and have little idea where the opposition was -- was too get under cover and simply stay alive and that the next element in line was to lay down heavy suppressive fire to help the lead element get out or just survive. The third element would do any maneuvering required.

One up and two back -- three back is better -- has always been the way to go.
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Old 10-15-2007   #33
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Most of our minor tactics are marginal to poor. He mentions in there that the lead element often got pinned down and could do nothing. Our doctrine says that the lead element 'returns fire, suppresses enemy fire and develops the situation.' I saw that done repeatedly in Korea -- and I saw that it flat did not work.
Speaking of poor minor unit tactics, the reason why I even became interested in the subject in the first place and not just mindlessly accept "the Doctrine" was when my section commander told us that an 8-man rifle section would lose 60% of its strength in the first 24 hours of offensive operations. Well, that got my attention. Here's an article that gives an idea of just how bad the supposedly very "professional" Canadian Army's basic infantry tactics had become when I was in - this was written some years ago by Captain Mike O'Leary, the current Regimental Adjutant of the RCR:

http://members.tripod.com/Regimental..._atk_part2.htm

From this article, you can see that there is some substance to my concerns over the state of minor unit tactics, especially at squad/section level.

At first, I thought that the "solution" so to speak, was simply to increase squad size, and that's when the USMC rifle squad really caught my attention. But I really didn't understand the tactical significance of having 3 rather than just 2 fire teams. It wasn't until I read an article on an RPA rifle squad (organized into 3 teams) attack on a Rwandan Government rifle squad in a house, and win without real loss to itself, that I began to appreciate the virtues of a 3-fire team squad. Go figure; a rebel army from the African-country-in-chaos pick of the year demonstrated what proper infantry tactics were, while the Canadian officer (from a modern, Western, "professional" Army) watching the fight was left scratching his head so to speak and call into serious question the stuff his own army had taught him.

As such, I do rather think that the USMC rifle squad is probably about the best rifle squad organization overall, and when it uses DePuy-type "1 Up, and 2 or 3 Back" formations during offensive operations, then that's proper infantry tactics too. The only major modifcation I would like seen made to the Marine rifle squad would be to do what Tom proposed in his "Transformation: Victory Begins With Small Units" article, and have two NCOs in the Squad HQ; the Squad Leader to fight the squad (while listening in to the Platoon/Company net), and the Assistant Squad Leader to handle squad administration/logistics and to handle sitreps for platoon/company and send in resupply requests, etc., so the squad leader doesn't have to be doing two separate jobs at the same time.

Last edited by Norfolk; 10-15-2007 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 10-15-2007   #34
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Your thoughts about a squad 2i/c are interesting Norfolk, especially when one considers the volume of information a squad leader would have to absorb with a future integrated tactical information system.

Given the power of communications, it really only makes sense, but the force structure required to make that happen will pose an uphill battle.

Dave, has the Corps performed any wargames utilizing a SL and ASL construct? I imagine that it could be extremely appropriate in an urbanized environment, thus someone could have looked at it before.
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Old 10-16-2007   #35
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Your thoughts about a squad 2i/c are interesting Norfolk, especially when one considers the volume of information a squad leader would have to absorb with a future integrated tactical information system.

Given the power of communications, it really only makes sense, but the force structure required to make that happen will pose an uphill battle.

Dave, has the Corps performed any wargames utilizing a SL and ASL construct? I imagine that it could be extremely appropriate in an urbanized environment, thus someone could have looked at it before.
Yes, jcustis, I think that it would be quite a feat to get a 14-man rifle squad (and 3 of those squads per platoon, and...). I see that the Corps is looking at reducing perhaps to 12 men instead.
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Old 10-16-2007   #36
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Some random thoughts:

The two fire team Army squad can't deploy one up, two back as is; however, the lead squad in a platoon movement to contact usually has a machine gun team directly attached, making it a defacto three team squad.

A two team squad alone will often still be suppressing with about 2/3, even though it's not configured in thirds. Often, out of an entire squad, only two or three men are moving at once. One fire team suppressing and one assaulting or bounding forward, of course, but not everyone in the assault team is moving at once. Part of the assault team is suppressing too.

I can see how the 13 man Marine squad is advantageous; however, is the advantage so great that it's worth the doctrinal change? The two team squad Army squad has been doctrine since about 1957. How long does it usually take for new doctrinal thinking to permeate a service culture at the tactical level?

All things considered, maybe the best thing for the Army to do would be to keep the two team squad but go back to larger fire teams.

What am I not seeing clearly?
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Old 10-16-2007   #37
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Some random thoughts:

The two fire team Army squad can't deploy one up, two back as is; however, the lead squad in a platoon movement to contact usually has a machine gun team directly attached, making it a defacto three team squad.

A two team squad alone will often still be suppressing with about 2/3, even though it's not configured in thirds. Often, out of an entire squad, only two or three men are moving at once. One fire team suppressing and one assaulting or bounding forward, of course, but not everyone in the assault team is moving at once. Part of the assault team is suppressing too.

I can see how the 13 man Marine squad is advantageous; however, is the advantage so great that it's worth the doctrinal change? The two team squad Army squad has been doctrine since about 1957. How long does it usually take for new doctrinal thinking to permeate a service culture at the tactical level?

All things considered, maybe the best thing for the Army to do would be to keep the two team squad but go back to larger fire teams.

What am I not seeing clearly?
I think you're seeing everything clearly, as yours are very reasonable questions. Deciphering possible advantages has its difficulties though, as we might be hard pressed to find a full-up platoon of complete 2-team or 3-team squads that has fought in either OIF or OEF. There are always the ones and twos who are on light duty, detailed elsewhere, etc. The evidence of any advantage may be anecdotal as best, and we'd be faced with the claims of if it ain't broke don't fix it.

As for doctrinal change, well that's a tough one. We may be driven to doctrinal change through the future platforms that provide mobility on the battlefield.

I'd like to see a reference to the Corps' scaling back to a 12 man squad, because this is the first place I've heard of it. Does it have to do with the incessant search for a true automatic rifle perhaps?
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Old 10-16-2007   #38
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Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
All things considered, maybe the best thing for the Army to do would be to keep the two team squad but go back to larger fire teams.

What am I not seeing clearly?
I don't think you're seeing any less clearly than most of the rest of us Rifleman. As is, we're bothing coming from the same worm's eye-view: you were a fire team leader, and I was an acting section 2i/c (and therefore automatically commander of one of my section's two 4-man assault groups as well). And this, IMO, is not necessarily a disadvantage, especially given that a lot of infantry officers (curiously) tend to be less than well-aware of, and properly-trained in, squad/section-level tactics and conditions. The whole business of minor infantry units and tactics is ambiguous at times. Hey, if even General DePuy himself, a master tactician, found himself having to settle for a two-team squad (as much out of manpower limitations as anything else), then clarity just isn't going to come easy.

Putting a pair of MG teams at platoon as US army and British Army does detract somewhat from their effectiveness; attaching one out to two of the three squads/sections, can considerably reduce their overall effectiveness, even if the particular squad/section they're attached to isn't exactly complaining. The USMC holds those same MGs at company level, where their fires can be massed and controlled for maximum suppression of the company objective. They only detach MGs out to platoons (and sometimes thence to squads) when cover or terrain makes massing and coordination of fires at company level practically impossible or not worth the effort. In WWII, the Germans were famous for their ability to win the firefight quickly through the use of an MG platoon either attached or organic to each rifle company that suppressed the company objective with the massed fires of 4 MG-34s or MG-42s.

Also, I think someone earlier on this thread mentioned that the USMC found that removing one of the 3 LMGs from each rifle squad could not be compensated for in practice even with MMGs at higher levels. An LMG can is easier to keep supplied with ammo under fire (no-one has to get up and run off to a vehicle or to company HQ to get more MMG ammo in the midst of a squad/section fire-fight, not unless the entire squad is running out,and then elements behind should be bringing that ammo up), and an LMG is rather easier to handle in an assault than an MMG. If one of your fire teams is wiped out, the MG Team may be hard pressed to provide suppressive fire and ammo resupply and its own local security while the other goes into the assault.

Then there's the squad detached out on an independent mission. With only two fire teams, it'll need one of the platoons's MG teams. That leaves the platoon commander with only two squads and an MG team to handle the enemy should contact occurr. Not a good position to be in to begin with, even worse when half your MG's are gone. USMC rifle squad can handle this task without reinforcement, and leaves all MMG teams intact.

In short, the USMC rifle squad can pretty much cover all its own bases (with occasional exceptions) organically, and leaves the MMGs most of the time up at company, where they can have the most effect, most of the time.

Larger fire teams, admittedly, would let a fire team continue to clear trenches and rooms, etc., after losing a rifleman; the 4-man fire team/assault group has something of a weakness in that regard, although for room-clearing the squad reorganizes anyway and this is less of a problem.

Once a squad gets much over a dozen men though, you start to have second thoughts. And this is where it really starts to get murky for me. The USMC 13-man rifle squad is based on the Chinese 10-man rifle squad, that Evans Carlson personally observed in the 8th Route Army's operations against the Japanese in northern China during 1937. The Chinese organized the squad with three 3-man "Cells" and a squad leader. Their tactics (based upon suppresion provided by a single LMG) so impressed Carlson, that when he formed the 1st Raider Battalion in WWII, he used the same organization. After the Raiders were disbanded, the USMC as a whole adopted the same rifle squad organization in early 1944; in late 1944, a fourth man was added to each Fire Team to allow it to sustain the level of losses that came with frontal attacks on Japanese positions.

There is an argument to be made that if "1 Up, 2 Back" type suppression-heavy/assault-light attack formations were used for squad-level offesnive operations, that perhaps the 4-man fire team could be reduced back to 3, returning to the 10-man squad. But with both the LMG and the M203 in each fire team, that would leave only one rifleman per fire team to clear trenches, rooms, etc. The four-man fire team has to stand for the time being.

Yep, things are still kind of murky.
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Old 10-16-2007   #39
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Reminds me of Churchill's quote (paraphrase/adapted below) -

"It's the worst possible solution, except for all the others"
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Old 10-16-2007   #40
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Also, I think someone earlier on this thread mentioned that the USMC found that removing one of the 3 LMGs from each rifle squad could not be compensated for in practice even with MMGs at higher levels. An LMG can is easier to keep supplied with ammo under fire (no-one has to get up and run off to a vehicle or to company HQ to get more MMG ammo in the midst of a squad/section fire-fight, not unless the entire squad is running out,and then elements behind should be bringing that ammo up), and an LMG is rather easier to handle in an assault than an MMG. If one of your fire teams is wiped out, the MG Team may be hard pressed to provide suppressive fire and ammo resupply and its own local security while the other goes into the assault.
Hmmm, an interesting point. Where does it leave us when we consider this type of "team" organization? It was definitely a different type of fight, but a COIN/small wars type of fight nonetheless:

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Each stop had four soldiers. One was the commander, with a radio, a FN FAL, 100 rounds (7.62 51 mm NATO), several types of grenade. One was the machine gunner, with a FN MAG machine-gun and carrying 400 rounds. The other two were riflemen with a FN and 100 rounds, grenades, rifle grenades and medical equipment. By 1979 one of these two was issued a radio.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesian_Light_Infantry
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