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Old 12-29-2007   #1
Presley Cannady
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Default Redundancy in small unit organization

I've always been curious how planners calculate redundancy (the structure and amount of a reserve force) afforded to small units, but I have no idea how they go about it. I know I need a better grasp on how some minimum unit is structured and why--for example, why X number of rifleman, Y number of LMGs, Z number of grenadiers and under what circumstances? Is this minimum unit treated atomically or do planners try to achieve redundancy at that fine grain?

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Old 12-29-2007   #2
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If I understand your question correctly you're asking about planning to have more than enough troops to accomplish a given mission?

The only thing I ever heard was that we should have a 3 to 1 advantage in attacking a prepared defense. Beyond that, I really don't know.

As far as organizing small units with a built in redundancy.....it seems to me that the Army doesn't. Instead they try to get by with the bare minimum. And often in times past when the Army wanted to stand up additional big units, or was looking for manpower savings, the squad was the level that had to learn to make do with less.

This last go around the squad came out intact though. Instead, the brigade took the hit. The Army wanted more brigades so they got more brigades..... but now brigades have fewer maneuver battalions.

It seems to me that redundancy planning for the Army usually happens at higher levels. For example, many people think that Schwartzkopf didn't need as many divisions as he asked for to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait. But he made sure that he had more than enough before starting an offensive.
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Old 12-29-2007   #3
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Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
I know I need a better grasp on how some minimum unit is structured and why--for example, why X number of rifleman, Y number of LMGs, Z number of grenadiers and under what circumstances? Is this minimum unit treated atomically or do planners try to achieve redundancy at that fine grain?
In other words, what is the "basic infantry element?"

Oh, boy. Go to the threads (and numerous links!) about the rife squad, fire team group platoon, etc.

Insightful (I thought) was Paul Melody's article: http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=...fier=ADA225438

That will keep you busy for a while.
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Old 12-30-2007   #4
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In other words, what is the "basic infantry element?"

Oh, boy. Go to the threads (and numerous links!) about the rife squad, fire team group platoon, etc.

Insightful (I thought) was Paul Melody's article: http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=...fier=ADA225438

That will keep you busy for a while.
I read the article, and thought the author made some good points about squads not likely to fire and maneuver in wartime. We did conduct training in which the squad would make contact, team A would lay a base of fire and team B would flank the enemy. We would also do the same with the two squads. First squad would be the base of fire and second squad would flank the enemy. When we would do force on force at NTC or JRTC, we would generally use both squads in this situation. Therefore, as the author pointed out, having two fire teams, may have been a waste of resources.

However, that was the woods, or the desert. In an urban environment, having two teams seems to work out better. The team leaders' control the two teams and communicate with the squad leader who communicates with the Platoon Leader. While the two teams aren't necessarily "firing and maneuvering," they are operating apart from each other. Using the squad leader to control a team reduces his ability to communicate with the PL and increases his risk of becoming a casualty. Therefore, I conclude that the two team squad is better for the terrain the army finds itself in today.
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Old 12-30-2007   #5
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Yes, I understand. Light infantry units do it that way also.

But the authors basic contention is that you need to start with big squads of 12 or 13 people for the fire team structure to hold up under attrition. Even if two teams in a smaller squad is better in theory the fire team structure will soon break down in smaller squads due to combat attrition.

Few Vietnam Army infantry vets remember their squads operating with fire teams very often, even though the two fire team structure was doctrine during that time. Ask them how many people they remember in a squad and you hear things like "five to seven," or "six to eight."

When that's reality does it matter if two teams are better in theory?

We've hashed this out pretty well on other threads.
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Old 12-30-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
-for example, why X number of rifleman, Y number of LMGs, Z number of grenadiers and under what circumstances? Is this minimum unit treated atomically or do planners try to achieve redundancy at that fine grain?
I have been researching this for the past 5-6 years (which is no proof I'm right). Here's what I have concluded from studying the UK.
I suspect the US is not much different, but I may be wrong.

@ It's all based on opinions. There is little actual evidence, but there is some which is usually dismissed as not giving the right answer. - and this I have written proof of.

@ There are no well articulated principles of organisation. Again, just an arbitrary collection of opinions.

@ Huge amounts of time and money have been wasted asking the wrong questions, EG:- How should the section be organised, not "How do we develop task organisation." - this is usually only done in respect to discrete activities like Patrols.

@ People believe that Section organisation is what enables Fire and Manoeuvre. - so major sections of doctrine, like Core Functions - have no impact on squad/section organisation!

@ The need to be able to sustain casualties, and continue the mission, is usually argued as an absolute statement of numbers and not a percentage of overall organisations. - EG: A company suffers 3 dead and 6 wounded. A Platoon suffers 3 dead and 6 wounded. A squad/section suffers 3 dead and 6 wounded. - so thus 9 casualties makes the 9 man Squad unsustainable, so you need bigger squads. What is a Platoon suffers a 100% loss of one APC/MICV?

@ Cost is the major driver. How much money a section/platoon takes to equip, train and sustain, is actually the base line for most decisions. Organisations beyond the platoon, EG: How the Company and Battalion is organised impacts disproportionately on the platoon.

@ The payload and equipping of APCs and MICVs is seen as being a driver in terms of manning and equipment costs, despite the fact that, logically, infantry should be organised to fight dismounted and not organised for transport. To support the MICV, the vehicle crew is established as part of the squad.
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Old 12-30-2007   #7
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Mr. Owen, have you written any articles on your ideas for squad organization? If so, can you link it?
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Old 12-30-2007   #8
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An interesting article written by Wilf proposing a "Fire Team Group Platoon."

http://www.geocities.com/drakonok/Or..._Infantry.html

I think this is what you're asking for.

It's being discussed here: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4172
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Old 12-30-2007   #9
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An interesting article written by Wilf proposing a "Fire Team Group Platoon."

http://www.geocities.com/drakonok/Or..._Infantry.html
I tried this link but it said it was "not found."
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Old 12-30-2007   #10
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Not sure what happened. Go to the link I posted for the discussion thread, the second link, and you will see the first link in the first post on that thread.
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Old 12-30-2007   #11
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Not sure what happened. Go to the link I posted for the discussion thread, the second link, and you will see the first link in the first post on that thread.
I found it at the other thread. I'm starting to see the logic of the Marine 13 man squad. Three teams with a SL. Are they configured the same as an Army team? IOW, 1TL, 1SAW, 1Gren, 1 RM?

The moderator's may want to merge this thread with the other, as this is basically the same discussion we're having over here:

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4172

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Old 12-30-2007   #12
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Originally Posted by Ratzel View Post
Mr. Owen, have you written any articles on your ideas for squad organization? If so, can you link it?
I have and they are linked in other threads. - or some that others may point you at.

A.) A lot of the criticism of my ideas as outline in the "Fire team Group" is valid in the context that some state. So I am not dismissive of the critiques, nor are any of my insights necessarily greater than those who think I'm full of sh*t. but what sh*t I am full of, I know very well!

B.) My ideas have moved on a bit in the last 5 years. I think a Platoon has to be able to adjust its organisation based on Mission, Threat, Terrain etc. The article that is often cited was written to provoke debate.

C.) I believe that the Core Functions - Find, Fix, Strike, and Exploit are a very strong basis on which to train and organise. A Platoon that adheres to that is in, IMO, pretty good shape.

D.) Doctrine, training, education and leadership, matter far more important than precise Squad or Platoon Size.

E.) and I currently think a platoon should be about 30 men, organised into 3 x 10 man sections. Each Section contains a Recce Group and Weapons Group (6 & 4?).
1 Section is lead by the Platoon commander, and a L/Cpl.
2 Section is lead by the Platoon Segreant and a Corporal.
3 Section is lead by a Corporal and a L/Cpl.
If necessary,
The Platoon can form as two "Multiples". The Recce Multiple is the 4 x 5 man teams under the Platoon commander, two L/Cpls and a Corporal.
The Weapons Multiple is 2 x 5 Man teams under The Platoon sergeant and a Corporal.
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Old 12-30-2007   #13
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I have and they are linked in other threads. - or some that others may point you at.

A.) A lot of the criticism of my ideas as outline in the "Fire team Group" is valid in the context that some state. So I am not dismissive of the critiques, nor are any of my insights necessarily greater than those who think I'm full of sh*t. but what sh*t I am full of, I know very well!

B.) My ideas have moved on a bit in the last 5 years. I think a Platoon has to be able to adjust its organisation based on Mission, Threat, Terrain etc. The article that is often cited was written to provoke debate.

C.) I believe that the Core Functions - Find, Fix, Strike, and Exploit are a very strong basis on which to train and organise. A Platoon that adheres to that is in, IMO, pretty good shape.

D.) Doctrine, training, education and leadership, matter far more important than precise Squad or Platoon Size.

E.) and I currently think a platoon should be about 30 men, organised into 3 x 10 man sections. Each Section contains a Recce Group and Weapons Group (6 & 4?).
1 Section is lead by the Platoon commander, and a L/Cpl.
2 Section is lead by the Platoon Segreant and a Corporal.
3 Section is lead by a Corporal and a L/Cpl.
If necessary,
The Platoon can form as two "Multiples". The Recce Multiple is the 4 x 5 man teams under the Platoon commander, two L/Cpls and a Corporal.
The Weapons Multiple is 2 x 5 Man teams under The Platoon sergeant and a Corporal.
OK, What weapons do these two "Groups" carry? Please lay out each man according to section and group. When labeling each mans' weapon, don't use m-4 or 240B use AR (Assult Rifle) or LMG (light machine gun). Make sure to have a different label for SAW-like, light machine guns as apposed to 240B GPMG. Sorry, if I'm being a pain in the a**, I just need to visualize this.
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Old 12-30-2007   #14
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OK, What weapons do these two "Groups" carry? Please lay out each man according to section and group. When labeling each mans' weapon, don't use m-4 or 240B use AR (Assult Rifle) or LMG (light machine gun). Make sure to have a different label for SAW-like, light machine guns as apposed to 240B GPMG. Sorry, if I'm being a pain in the a**, I just need to visualize this.
It doesn't matter! Really. We can all train set up equipment, but that causes folks to focus on the wrong stuff! But...

Recce groups focus on finding and manoeuvring, so short-barrelled ARs, and maybe some UGLs like M-203s.
Weapons groups focus on "attrition" so GPMG, (M240b) 84mm RCL or Javelin

The important stuff is ranks, radios and sensors, like Thermal Weapons Sights and Night Vision. Every man should have a PRR and Every ranks should have HHDR, like PRC-149, or 710MB.
Budget is vastly important so cut the cloth to fit the body.
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Old 12-30-2007   #15
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It doesn't matter! Really. We can all train set up equipment, but that causes folks to focus on the wrong stuff! But...

Recce groups focus on finding and manoeuvring, so short-barrelled ARs, and maybe some UGLs like M-203s.
Weapons groups focus on "attrition" so GPMG, (M240b) 84mm RCL or Javelin

The important stuff is ranks, radios and sensors, like Thermal Weapons Sights and Night Vision. Every man should have a PRR and Every ranks should have HHDR, like PRC-149, or 710MB.
Budget is vastly important so cut the cloth to fit the body.
No, it does matter. We were told before going down range in OIF I that a certain size building required a certain size force. The average Iraqi home was supposed to take a platoons worth of dismount infantry. Well, after we got there, it turned into a squad taking down a house and sometimes a team. The section you described, would have difficulty taking down a house. The 5-6 man recce group would have to do all the work while the weapons group would have to stay in the rear. You could line up the 3 recce groups to do the house clearing but then you'd have groups and sections split up all kinds of ways.

I'm not sure what you mean by sensors, but as far a night-vision and radio's, you're 100% correct. Each soldier should have a set of new night vision equipment. The best ones when I was in were called "NVG 14's." When we went down range, we had people still with NVG's that were 15 years old. Radio's, optics, NVG's, Body armour, web-gear, boots, first-aid, should all be top-notch, with everyone properly trained on how to use and maintain them.

I think your section/group idea is worth thinking about regarding the woods, or open terrain, but a MOUT environment is much different. The best people at MOUT in the world, don't bring 240B's along with them and surly don't form weapons groups, they do the exact opposite.

As you know, our wars for the next 30 years will be taking place in cities, caves, and probably even Jungles again. The regular forces need to become more SOF-like which, IMO, means smaller weapons, smaller teams, bigger brains.

If anything, which I think we can all agree on, there's a need for much more training, and much more time in rank before promotion. The average Infantryman should have at least six months of training before going to the line, and at least 4 years before becoming an NCO. We need better people. We need more college grads as well. The only way this is going to happen is buy $howing the MONEY! Its also time THE AMERICAN PEOPLE START PAYING MORE IN TAXES! The US defense budget is about 4.5% of GDP. There were times during the Cold-war where it was 8%. If this country is serious about "MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY" then they better start paying for it.

Sorry I got off track, but I do think its matters what weapons are carried by whom. That way we can visualize how it will work in combat. I'm starting to like the Marine Platoon, but want to learn more about it. That doesn't mean, by any means, that I won't listen to your ideas, I'm just pretty sure I don't like this one. I would like to read more of your work though.
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Old 12-30-2007   #16
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@ No, it does matter. We were told before going down range in OIF I that a certain size building required a certain size force. The average Iraqi home was supposed to take a platoons worth of dismount infantry.

@ I think your section/group idea is worth thinking about regarding the woods, or open terrain, but a MOUT environment is much different. The best people at MOUT in the world, don't bring 240B's along with them and surly don't form weapons groups, they do the exact opposite.

@ As you know, our wars for the next 30 years will be taking place in cities, caves, and probably even Jungles again. The regular forces need to become more SOF-like which, IMO, means smaller weapons, smaller teams, bigger brains.

@ I'm starting to like the Marine Platoon, but want to learn more about it. That doesn't mean, by any means, that I won't listen to your ideas, I'm just pretty sure I don't like this one. I would like to read more of your work though.
@ Well if you think my opinion matters, I'm very flattered , now telling soldiers that X type of building requires X type of force is not quite the dumbest thing I have ever heard, but close. - see later.

@ I don't know who are the best people in the world at MOUT. I see nothing wrong with an M-240, or GPMG. No you don't search and exploit into structures with it. You use it outside, as you would Javelin or an 84mm RCL. You have to be able to fight between structures, not just in them. Once you've secured the space, bring up the weapons teams to reduce suppress the next structure. 5.56mm won't go through too much as you know. Don't assume Iraq is the defining MOUT experience.

@ I don't know where the wars of the next 30 years will be taking place. Nor does anyone else. Should we be prepared to operate in all types of close terrain? Yes! - so we don't want to establish platoons on Iraqi dwelling take downs.
- I live in 36 storey apartment block, in central Bangkok. I estimate it would take 3 platoons about two hours or more to clear.
If you want to be more SOF like, just have 5 x 6 man teams. Each team has 2 x LMGs, 4 x M4/UGL - and accept the limitations of that weapons set. - Still 30 men, 6 ranks, 6 radios (one rank and radio spare - always useful)

@ If you want to be more Marine like, split the platoon in two. So you have two squads of 3 x 5 man teams. One Squad is commanded by the platoon commander and the other the platoon sergeant, each assisted by a Cpl and L/Cpl. Each 5 man team could be 2 LMG, 2 M4/UGL and one spare, with an M4 to carry the AT-4 or whatever. Still 30 men, 6 ranks, 6 radios.

Does this help any?
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Old 12-30-2007   #17
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@ Well if you think my opinion matters, I'm very flattered , now telling soldiers that X type of building requires X type of force is not quite the dumbest thing I have ever heard, but close. - see later.

@ I don't know who are the best people in the world at MOUT. I see nothing wrong with an M-240, or GPMG. No you don't search and exploit into structures with it. You use it outside, as you would Javelin or an 84mm RCL. You have to be able to fight between structures, not just in them. Once you've secured the space, bring up the weapons teams to reduce suppress the next structure. 5.56mm won't go through too much as you know. Don't assume Iraq is the defining MOUT experience.

@ I don't know where the wars of the next 30 years will be taking place. Nor does anyone else. Should we be prepared to operate in all types of close terrain? Yes! - so we don't want to establish platoons on Iraqi dwelling take downs.
- I live in 36 storey apartment block, in central Bangkok. I estimate it would take 3 platoons about two hours or more to clear.
If you want to be more SOF like, just have 5 x 6 man teams. Each team has 2 x LMGs, 4 x M4/UGL - and accept the limitations of that weapons set. - Still 30 men, 6 ranks, 6 radios (one rank and radio spare - always useful)

@ If you want to be more Marine like, split the platoon in two. So you have two squads of 3 x 5 man teams. One Squad is commanded by the platoon commander and the other the platoon sergeant, each assisted by a Cpl and L/Cpl. Each 5 man team could be 2 LMG, 2 M4/UGL and one spare, with an M4 to carry the AT-4 or whatever. Still 30 men, 6 ranks, 6 radios.

Does this help any?

There's no metric that calculates bodies per square footage, but yes, before taking down a structure, there is some sizing up. There is some general agreement about what size a unit should be, before it attempts to take down a structure. There was even an understanding that a unit should be ready to take about 30% casualties during urban combat.

While we're on the subject of second dumbest ideas, are you certain about this idea of Platoon leaders and Platoon Sergeants leading squad size units?

I guess arguing about why the squad should be this or that size is waste, until I understand your argument for why your squad size is best. If you can, tell me the advantages of the squad size you propose, and explain why its superior to the current size. Or, if you already did this, give me a link to where I can read it.

And No, your opinion doesn't matter, but I'm always open to new ideas and I appreciate your passion for these subjects.
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Old 12-30-2007   #18
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@ There is some general agreement about what size a unit should be, before it attempts to take down a structure. There was even an understanding that a unit should be ready to take about 30% casualties during urban combat.

@ While we're on the subject of second dumbest ideas, are you certain about this idea of Platoon leaders and Platoon Sergeants leading squad size units?

@ I guess arguing about why the squad should be this or that size is waste, until I understand your argument for why your squad size is best. If you can, tell me the advantages of the squad size you propose, and explain why its superior to the current size. Or, if you already did this, give me a link to where I can read it.
@ Sure there is an understanding of troops to task, but no one should use the size of one possible type of dwelling to formulate infantry organisation.

@ All this means is no Platoon HQ. It's about leader leading. Works well for the IDF. Works well in Patrolling. Works well in SF. Why do you need a Platoon HQ?

@. I am not saying my squad size is best. I want to be perfectly clear on this. All I am saying is that you need to apply principles of organisation. 30 men, and 6 ranks gives you 3-4 different ways to organise the Platoon (not squad) so as you can best accomplish your mission. It is merely an example of a set of principles in application.

Send me a PM if you want to keep discussing this - which I am more than happy to. It's just I am sure we must be boring everyone else to tears.
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Old 01-01-2008   #19
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Thanks all for your remarks, especially Rifleman and Mr. Owen. I did read the "Abandon squad/section levels of organization" thread, but thought I should probably ask my basic questions in a separate line of discussion.

Rifleman: If I'm reading "The Infantry Rifle Squad" correctly, Melody's work is essentially a lit review and he arrives at his conclusions and recommendations deductively; the same can be said of his student Timothy Karcher in "Enhancing Combat Effectiveness."

Mr. Owen: Thanks for the heads up. I've spent some months mining what I lit I could find for empirical research on engineering small unit sustainability. I've unfortunately turned up nothing of the sort. Is there any research on the horizon that might shed some much needed light in this area?
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Old 01-01-2008   #20
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Presley Cannady,

I am currently chipping away at Guide to Organisation Design by Naomi Stanford (ISBN 978-1-86197-802-8) and just finished Managing and Using Information Systems by Keri E. Pearlson & Carol S. Saunders (ISBN 978-0-471-71538-2). Both are interesting reads and discuss some the 'what do effective organizations look like?' questions that often pop up at work. Neither book, however, provides a definitive number of personnel for a team. Some of the organizational models mentioned include: Mckinsey 7-S Model, Gailbrath's Star Model, Weisbord Six Box Model, Nadler and Tushman Congruence Model, and Burke-Litwin Model.

My answer to 'how some minimum unit is structured and why?' is it depends upon the situation, the equipment (can one leverage MIS ?, etc) and the quality and experience of the personnel provided to accomplish the mission.

I have been in some 'kicking' two man CA Teams running around europe, latin america and the middle east. I have also been in some so-so six to eight man CA Teams in the middle east. Security issues drove the larger sized teams, while straight language and technical skills drove the two man teams. All of my teams accomplished their missions. The ROI, if it could be quantified, would be different for each team however. Relationships and are cultural/geopgraphical/operational experience are some the issues that should be added to mission accomplishment when calculating the ROI. It's 'squishy' and I don't know how to produce a 'hard' number thats reproduceable.

As a young soldier I was introduced to tables which predicted casualty counts for different MOS types and units based upon different offensive and defensive maneuvers. It was a bit much for a young guy with a short attention span, so I have no reference for you to refer to for these tables. Google?

Steve
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