SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Trigger Puller

Trigger Puller Boots on the ground, steel on target -- the pointy end of the spear.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-04-2008   #1
Faceman
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2
Question The Roles and Weapons with the Squad

Hi guys, new member here so first of all just thought I'd say Hi

Secondly, I just have a question regarding the makeup of roles and weapons in Infantry squads (specifically, the Army). From what I understand squads are made up of 2 or 3 "fireteams", of which each fireteam consists of:
  • A Team Leader with an M16 or M4 rifle.
  • A Grenadier with an M16 or M4 rifle with an M203 grenade launcher.
  • An Automatic Rifleman with an M249 SAW.
  • A Rifleman with an M16 or M4 rifle.

Assuming that's correct, I'm wondering where the other weapons and roles come in to the squad. For example:
  • M240 machinegun
  • M136 AT4
  • M24 sniper rifle
  • M16 SDM-R

I thought maybe in addition to the fireteams, the squad might have a "weapons team" or "specialist team" or something along those lines - basically a team that carries heavier and more specialised weapons (like the M240, M136 and SDM-R) to suppress and destroy hard targets.

Also, where do roles such as Snipers (or Advanced Marksmen), Squad Designated Marksmen and Medics come into the squad? Are they separate from the fireteams or do members of the fireteam also take on these roles in addition to their original assigned roles; in effect performing dual responsibilities?

Cheers guys.
Faceman is offline  
Old 01-04-2008   #2
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Hi, Faceman

Welcome.

Go here (LINK), hit the 'Reply' button and tell us a little about yourself.
Ken White is offline  
Old 09-06-2008   #3
tankersteve
Council Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Eustis
Posts: 71
Default Squad duties

Faceman,

The squad is the smallest maneuver element. It is a pretty pure system in the U.S. Army, although a tad small, especially once you take casualties.

The medic is in the platoon, not the squad. However, 1 man in each fireteam usually is a Combat LiveSaver (CLS) and has additional training and an advanced aid bag. Nowadays, the intent is everyone is CLS qualified, but only 2 kits per squad.

No snipers at this level - that is specialized training that is usually at the company or battalion level. SDMs are an interesting point - many are in the squad, doing double duty as a rifleman.

M240s are at the platoon level as well - they are attached where needed. However, in the mech platoon, squads have the option of bringing an M240 in lieu of an M249. They don't have separate MG crews.

Is this an ideal organization? Probably not. The four-man fire team is nice in 2 buddy pairs, but in a complex urban environment, 2 men is a little light to hold a position/pull security. So now we put the whole fire team there, which isn't a great use of manpower.

I would like to see the squad become 11 men, with 3x 3-man fire teams - no extra rifleman - and a squad leader with a SDM to walk with him. The SDM would carry either an M16A4 or an M14 with an alloy stock/rail system (mission dependent). Three maneuver elements are key in the assault. 2 can suppress, with the SDM, and the 3d team, with the squad leader assaults.

Or, attach a MG team and 1 fire team (plus SDM) to suppress, with 2 fire teams (and SL) on the assault.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Tankersteve
tankersteve is offline  
Old 09-06-2008   #4
reed11b
Council Member
 
reed11b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Olympia WA
Posts: 531
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tankersteve View Post
I would like to see the squad become 11 men, with 3x 3-man fire teams - no extra rifleman - and a squad leader with a SDM to walk with him. The SDM would carry either an M16A4 or an M14 with an alloy stock/rail system (mission dependent). Three maneuver elements are key in the assault. 2 can suppress, with the SDM, and the 3d team, with the squad leader assaults.

Or, attach a MG team and 1 fire team (plus SDM) to suppress, with 2 fire teams (and SL) on the assault.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Tankersteve
Does this arraingment have 3 x LMG's per squad as well Steve?
Reed
reed11b is offline  
Old 09-12-2008   #5
Rifleman
Council Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 499
Default

tankersteve,

If we're going to wish, we might as well wish big because it doesn't cost a thing. As long as we're wishing, let's just wish for the 13 man USMC squad with it's three four-man fire teams.

The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion tried a squad with three three-man fire teams in the early days of WWII. Later the three fire team squad was adopted by the entire USMC but they found it necessary to add a man to each fire team for sustainability. So, I believe the basics of the squad organization that you propose have already been tried and found to be lacking in sustained combat.

But let's be realistic: the Army light infantry isn't going to get a bigger squad. So, it seems to me the question shoud be how to best organize and use the nine men (on paper) that the squad has. This has been pretty well hashed out in other threads.

Maybe it's because of Army personel issues, or maybe it's because of Army vehicle size considerations, but I think that brigades will get a third battalion before squads get more men.
__________________
"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

Last edited by Rifleman; 09-12-2008 at 02:04 AM.
Rifleman is offline  
Old 09-12-2008   #6
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
tankersteve,

If we're going to wish, we might as well wish big because it doesn't cost a thing. As long as we're wishing, let's just wish for the 13 man USMC squad with it's three four-man fire teams.
Why not wish for two 15 man squads of 3 x 5 man fireteams? They could re-organised (as per METT_C) as 3 x 10 man squads or 5 x 6 man patrols. Just my same old, same old...
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 09-14-2008   #7
RJ
Council Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Down the Shore NJ
Posts: 175
Default

Gentlemen,

Here is a item I just picked out of the Marine Corps Times.
The Corps is looking at a adopting a new Infantry Automatic Rifle in the 12.5 pound range.

FYI - Corps testing lighter alternatives to belt-fed M249
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Sep 13, 2008 7:31:52 EDT

Marine infantry units soon may replace their light machine guns with new automatic rifles designed to help gunners move faster on assaults.

Weapons officials at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., are testing magazine-fed weapons from at least six gun makers in a search for a lighter alternative to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which weighs close to 17 pounds unloaded.

At the squad level, “the biggest hindrance to being able to effectively fire and maneuver is the weight of the SAW,” said Patrick Cantwell, capability integration officer for the Infantry Automatic Rifle program at SysCom.

The winning IAR design — which the Corps wants to weigh no more than 12.5 pounds — could begin replacing the SAW in infantry squads as early as next year.

“We see this being the automatic rifleman’s primary weapon,” Cantwell said. “We obviously want it as soon as possible, but we are looking at sometime in 2009.”

The M249 has been in service with the Corps since the mid-1980s. The standard model weighs about 22 pounds when loaded with a 200-round belt of 5.56mm ammunition.

Despite its weight, the weapon spits out up to 750 rounds per minute, providing small units with a tremendous rate of sustained automatic fire.

Why the Army says no thanks
That’s why the Army, which also uses the M249, has ruled out a soldier version of the Marine IAR.

“We are not considering adopting an auto rifle for the infantry squad,” said Col. Robert Radcliffe, director of the Infantry Center’s Directorate of Combat Developments at Fort Benning, Ga.

Currently, Marine and Army infantry squads equip their fire teams with one M249 each. The difference, Radcliffe said, is that Marine squads have three fire teams, and Army squads have two fire teams.

“It’s really all about firepower. The Marine Corps has a 13-man squad; we have a nine-man squad — that’s a four-man difference.”

I feel strongly that the Marine 13 Man Squad is still the best infanty assualt unit. Three automatic weapons provide flexibility and supression for the squad are always better than the two in the 9 man squads. And like the man said - That's a four man difference.
RJ is offline  
Old 09-14-2008   #8
bikewrench8541
Council Member
 
bikewrench8541's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 11
Default

I'm a little worried about this. None of the programs in the past have worked out that well.
M-16A1(in an AR role), LSW, the Norwegian Marines AR (correct?) et al.
In fact the M249 is one of the more popular and effective weapons in a rifle squad. Some are very worn but...
bikewrench8541 is offline  
Old 09-14-2008   #9
RJ
Council Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Down the Shore NJ
Posts: 175
Default

The Marine Corps is only looking at an inital order of 4,000 IAR's. And half of those will be retained for testing and the other 2,000 will be tested in the field.

Hey, most Marines thought the M-1 Grand was a pos in the early 1940's. After they aquired a few from Army units on Guadacanal, they switched to the M-1 and got rid of the 03A1 bolt action Springfield as fast as they could.

The upgrade to the M-14 was easy in the early 1960's.
I saw my first M-14 and M-60 MG when the 503rd Airborne Regt. arrived on Okinawa in late 1959. The Paratroopers let us play with their new toys at a Fam-Fire exersize in the Northern Training Area on the Rock.

The Marine Divisions started getting M-14's in 1961. Then switched out to the M-16 after the Vietnam War Started.

They didn't like that shift at all.

I think you have to keep exploring the possibilities. If they can develop a solid IAR that is 6 pounds lighter, that will transfer into the ability of increase the individual AR gunner to carry more ammo, water, etc.
RJ is offline  
Old 09-16-2008   #10
Rifleman
Council Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 499
Default

Three things from infantry combat in WWII that I think are notable:

1) The big USMC squad with it's internal fire team structure developed around three automatic rifles, not light machine guns. I believe there were three squads to a platoon.

2) The smaller German squad with no internal fire team structure developed around a single light machine gun. I believe there were four squads to a platoon.

3) Both squads were successful in heavy combat. I think it would be hard to make a good argument that one squad proved more successful than another.
__________________
"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

Last edited by Rifleman; 09-16-2008 at 04:39 PM.
Rifleman is offline  
Old 09-17-2008   #11
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

As I have said before, the M249 is based on a misreading of light weapons doctrine.

The barrel length of the M249 is 20 or 14 inches. Same as the M16 or M4 so it has the same muzzle velocity.

It’s cyclic rate is practically the same as the M4/M16, so it has no better terminal effect than an M16/M4 Carbine. It appears to be no more accurate, bar the bipod. – and it weighs more than double and eats rounds at an embarrassing rate.

Why is it even there?

This is sharp contrast to almost all other support weapons doctrine, where the “Squad LMG” has had a provably better performance than all the other squad weapons. UK testing seems to indicate that the M-249/LMG has a worse performance than all the other section weapons. It has added carried weight to the section for no useful increase in performance.

The other big problem is the very odd idea that all “Fireteams” need to have the same weapons mix. Again, I suggest this is doctrinally flawed.

IMO, the USMC search for some type of solution is long overdue, and everyone else should take note.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 09-18-2008   #12
Jones_RE
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 129
Default

There's more to a weapon than the cyclic rate, muzzle velocity and carried weight. Before the M249, there was an attempt to use an M16A1 with a bipod as the squad automatic rifle.

Machine guns take more of a beating because sustained automatic fire is hard on a gun. The M249 is heavier because it's built to handle that work. The belt feed also means a lot less time spent reloading vs a twenty or thirty round magazine.

Not that I necessarily have an informed opinion on which is the better choice, but I do believe the M249 is not completely irrational. It's simply a different set of tradeoffs.
Jones_RE is offline  
Old 09-18-2008   #13
reed11b
Council Member
 
reed11b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Olympia WA
Posts: 531
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
There's more to a weapon than the cyclic rate, muzzle velocity and carried weight. Before the M249, there was an attempt to use an M16A1 with a bipod as the squad automatic rifle.

Machine guns take more of a beating because sustained automatic fire is hard on a gun. The M249 is heavier because it's built to handle that work. The belt feed also means a lot less time spent reloading vs a twenty or thirty round magazine.

Not that I necessarily have an informed opinion on which is the better choice, but I do believe the M249 is not completely irrational. It's simply a different set of tradeoffs.
For all of that, how many soldiers (or Marines) do you know that have changed barrels on there SAW in combat? I was a SAW gunner for OIF and I never came close, and rarely had to reload my 100 round soft pouch. I do think that the 30 round magazine is to small and that a belt fed system would be better, but I question the conventional wisdom of "needing" an exchangeable barrel. I also question the need for “mirrored” fire teams and why is the LMG of a squad need to be 5.56? Large variety of 6-7mm rounds that offer better range and effects then the 5.56 NATO while still weighing much less then 7.62 NATO.
Reed
reed11b is offline  
Old 09-18-2008   #14
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
There's more to a weapon than the cyclic rate, muzzle velocity and carried weight. Before the M249, there was an attempt to use an M16A1 with a bipod as the squad automatic rifle.
There may be more but this is the frame of the discussion we can usefully progress. ROF does not = Suppression. Carried weight costs a lot, and muzzle velocity defines an number of things such as comparative ranges and terminal effects.

The flow down effects of an 5.56mm LMG were simply not calculated or argued in a constructive way. It was just assumed that the US, and then the UK, "needed" such a weapon so one appeared.

Agreed the M-16 LSW is a bit of a dog because of the direct impingement gas system, but the concept was basically sound.

The UK L86A2 is conceptually a very good weapon, though widely misunderstood, leading to bad doctrine and not taught well in training. It's now the DMR weapon in the fireteam for no reasons that make sense.

The HK-416 with a 20 inch barrel and a bipod would do the same/better job, as would the Ultimax Mk-5.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 09-18-2008   #15
Render
Council Member
 
Render's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 30
Default

Wouldn't that SAW's inclusion in the squad TOE have something to do with the squads ability to fill the air with lead?

TIME
AND
PLACE,
R
Render is offline  
Old 09-18-2008   #16
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default It would -- if one wanted to do that. Though

I'm unsure why anyone would wish to do so. Seems sort of pointless to me.
Ken White is offline  
Old 09-19-2008   #17
Jones_RE
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 129
Default

Assuming that you don't need the belt feed ability of M249 often enough to justify the weight, complexity and extra maintenance. . . Should the automatic rifle fire the same round as the assault rifle? A more powerful round should still be controllable with the bipod and heavy barrel, but is it worth the weight and logistic hassles?

On another topic - fire and maneuver at the squad level doesn't seem to have a lot of fans here. I can imagine why - how many enemies can one fire team suppress? Is there still a place for fire teams in an organization that's likely to fight as a single unit?
Jones_RE is offline  
Old 09-19-2008   #18
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
Assuming that you don't need the belt feed ability of M249 often enough to justify the weight, complexity and extra maintenance. . . Should the automatic rifle fire the same round as the assault rifle? A more powerful round should still be controllable with the bipod and heavy barrel, but is it worth the weight and logistic hassles?
I think, that for the general fire teams, a 5.56mm Carbine, and 1-2 5.56mm LSW a good mix. Heavier weapons could go in other fireteams

Quote:
On another topic - fire and maneuver at the squad level doesn't seem to have a lot of fans here. I can imagine why - how many enemies can one fire team suppress? Is there still a place for fire teams in an organization that's likely to fight as a single unit?
Trials would suggest a fire team of 4 men can suppress about 3-5m frontage. Fire teams are excellent for C2, movement and weapons control. We've always had them, but we just refuse to admit it. Gun Group and Rifle Group, were/are fire teams. The "Marshall error" of creating mirror fire teams meant that got lost.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 09-19-2008   #19
120mm
Council Member
 
120mm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Wonderland
Posts: 1,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
There's more to a weapon than the cyclic rate, muzzle velocity and carried weight. Before the M249, there was an attempt to use an M16A1 with a bipod as the squad automatic rifle.

Machine guns take more of a beating because sustained automatic fire is hard on a gun. The M249 is heavier because it's built to handle that work. The belt feed also means a lot less time spent reloading vs a twenty or thirty round magazine.

Not that I necessarily have an informed opinion on which is the better choice, but I do believe the M249 is not completely irrational. It's simply a different set of tradeoffs.
Exactly. Any machinegun that requires a sustained rate of fire needs to be heavier than a rifle.

But I'm liking what Wilf says about that theoretical "sustained" rate of fire at the fire team level. I think a "real" machinegun is a better choice, with a "real" machinegun round and rate of fire. And your automatic rifle can be a piston gun with a drum.
120mm is offline  
Old 09-19-2008   #20
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
Exactly. Any machinegun that requires a sustained rate of fire needs to be heavier than a rifle.

But I'm liking what Wilf says about that theoretical "sustained" rate of fire at the fire team level. I think a "real" machinegun is a better choice, with a "real" machinegun round and rate of fire. And your automatic rifle can be a piston gun with a drum.
Yes, I concur.

I have always wondered why the UK loaded up the two section Fire teams with a Minimi LMG each, when giving one team a 7.62mm GPMG, and spreading the ammo across both teams would have created a proven, better and cheaper solution.

I have some issues with Drum Mags, even if they are reliable, but yes, an HG-416, or G-36, with a 100 or 150 drum Mag, and a bipod, does everything a Minimi does, for less weight, bulk and no loss of effect.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation