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Ricks Napkin Challenge- The Infantry Section and Platoon

Kirkhill

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I have no idea if this is a factor in the Swedish approach, but they are organized and trained in a mainly 'Defend Sweden' mode, as opposed to an expeditionary military that is common in other countries like the US, UK and Canada.

For example, I recall attending a lecture on cold injuries given by a Swede and one of the first 'actions on' was to find a local cabin and take the casualty there for treatment. This, of course, was unthinkable to us. The 'S' Tank is another example of a home defence focus.

Having said that... please carry on! ;)

Not to mention even on our home turf there would be places you would be hard pressed to find a cabin before the poor blighter turned into an icicle.

Having said that though - when it comes to fighting the platoon - doesn't it make sense to fight your 4 mph troops separately from, although in conjunction with, your 40 mph troops?

Otherwise you 4 mph troops are cargo for a good chunk of the 40 mph fight and then they become a 4 mph anchor when they dismount. Admittedly there is a difference between only having small arms to influence the fight and having UAVs, MFCs/FOOs, NLAWs and 4 km ATGMs.
In the Canadian case an infanteer with a C7 is an SLR - Self-Loading Rifle, and not much else.
 

Kirkhill

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M 113s. I only worked in Grizzlies in Bosnia and then I was the Tpt Sgt.

It wasn't a dig.

I was just trying to establish the weaponry and the advantage.

IIRC when the Platoon was dismounted but advancing at 4 mph then the vehicles were buried in the arrowhead/diamond/square whatever and the guns were mounted and manned supplying overwatch. That required, officially an 11 man section to allow for the driver and gunner and still alllowing for a 9 man dismount section.

When the Platoon was dismounted and stationary then the vehicles were put into Zulu and stripped of most of their guns to thicken the dismounted defence. One or two guns might be left with the Zulu vehicles and the drivers to protect the vehicles.

Is that about right?

You didn't have to worry about digging in the vehicles - you could put them in some bush on a reverse slope under some scrim within sprinting distance.

The dismounts were the platoon's main effort and the Platoon Commander managed that. The vehicles were primarily an Adm asset.

Now, with the LAVs, it seems to me that the LAVs are the platoon's main asset and the dismounts are the subordinate effort.

To my simple mind the LAV platoon is more of a scouting/patrolling, offensive asset for open country. Especially given the lack of any significant heavy weaponry beyond the four cannons. The M113 platoon was more of a relocatable, close country, defensive asset.

And saying that - LAVs for Regs (with heavier weapons) and M113/Bison/TAPVs for Reserves?
 

KevinB

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Well I'm sure everyone is happy to throw out an infinite amount of combinations, discussions on the organization of the platoon and section should first consider "what is the task of the section? Of the platoon?"

After that, you can start building to your heart's content, but I'd offer the following:

1. It is worth noting that, historically, no section size has proven optimal. They all work, and they all quickly function with fewer people due to casualties.
I’d argue it’s more task and capability based.
Dismounted troops generally require more firepower so that means more people to carry weapons and ammo.
2. The comments that the seats in a vehicle limit the section size are apt. May as well keep it in the realm of reality.
Looking at an Army SF ODA or MARSOC team, they will usually have 3-4 vehicles and sometimes even more. Granted different role - but doing raids in Iraq it was quite common for 4-5 gun trucks / Team


3. Consider span of control and relate it to the original question regarding task. Do we want a section commander trying to control multiple vehicles and groups of dismounts? Is that optimal?
A Platoon Commander who is significantly less experienced has 4 Vehicles.
Commanding 2 vehicles shouldn’t be an issue for a Sgt, if it is they probably should not be in that position.
As far as multiple groups of dismounts, the USMC and US Army does it, with NCO’s that are generally much less experienced than CA NCO’s
 

markppcli

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Back to the Swedes with their 3-Car Platoons

I tend to see them as fighting a Vehicle Element under one commander - the superior in charge of the overall manoeuvre battle , and the Ground Element of three sections of 6 under a separate commander - subordinate to the manoeuvre commander.

Yes

By contrast it appears to me as if the Canadian Platoon is fought as three separate Vehicles with the Vehicle Commander in charge of the Section.

How do you mean?

The Canadian solution feels to me like splayed fingers, best suited for isolated, dispersed patrols. The Swedish solution feel more like a closed fist.

The only difference I can see is more Carl Gs, 1 less vehicle, and the position of Canadian LAV Sgt and a Swedish Dismount Commander being essentially the inverse of each other.
 

Kirkhill

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Yes



How do you mean?



The only difference I can see is more Carl Gs, 1 less vehicle, and the position of Canadian LAV Sgt and a Swedish Dismount Commander being essentially the inverse of each other.


I am having difficulty explaining the situation to myself.

I think what I am trying to get at is that my perception of the problem is less one of what the Canadians can't do as what the Swedes can do.

Let me try it this way. Back in ancient times when we worked the Rifle Section as a Rifle Group and a Gun/C2 Group the intent on the assault was to find a location for the Gun Group to bring fire onto the objective and go firm. The Rifle Group would then manoeuvre to the assault line and then assault through the objective.

With the Swedish system, particularly with the weaponry they have (they can swap the Carl Gs for NLAWs or Javelins/MRATGMs) they can be dropped off and go firm creating a base of fire from which to support the manoeuvering Cars. Or from which to protect the flank. Or just to cover an arc in a kill zone, preferably by taking up a hard to access position.

The Ground Combat Element has enough firepower, combat power, and bodies, to defend itself if assaulted and to contribute to the platoon's fire fight.

Does it make more sense if I suggest that the Ground Combat Element becomes more akin to a large Weapons Section which can anchor, or hinge the movement of the Cars which in turn are operating more like the assaulting rifle sections?

None of this, of course, precludes the Ground Combat Element from being dropped off on the objective to engage in a bit of trench clearing with their rifles, leaving the support weapons back in the vehicles. Maybe taking the Carl Gs with them instead of the NLAWs and Javelins.


So part of the issue is the weapons the Swedes have available to them that are denied to the Canadians.

But I think there is another part of the puzzle. Is it perhaps a result of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Peacekeeping missions? The emphasis on patrolling? Did that end up giving the Section Leader more autonomy? Looking to solve small problems with the tools he had at hand? His guys and his LAV?

The Swedes, on the other hand, are having to concentrate and co-ordinate fires, and manoeuvre the entire company, if not the battalion, and take full advantage of every man and every weapon that they can point downrange. Troops inside the vehicles, like unused missiles, are stowed kills. They are better employed outside the vehicle killing - and less likely to be killed before they can be of use.

Am I any clearer?
 

Kirkhill

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Weapons Dets!

The Swedish cars aren't carrying Smalll Rifle Sections they are carrying Large Weapons Dets. The old company used to have 4 Weapons Dets. One travelling with each Platoon and one that travelled with the OC. But they were all owned by the OC and could be used any way he saw fit.

He had a choice of 4x 60mm mortars, 4x CG84s and 4x GPMGs with SF kits. And if he was short of bodies to man all of them then he could bring some of his Riflemen in to assist.

But the killing power of the Platoon was in those support weapons of the Weapons Dets. - which used an arms locker concept.

The Swedes have decided to put all those Weapons Dets into the back of their Cars at the expense of their Rifles.

Brigading those dets in a separate group adds a fourth, heavily armed Weapons Group

Choice of
19x Rifles
6x 40mm GL

3x DMRs
3x GPMGs
6x LMGs

3x CG84s
(3x Javelins)
(Xx NLAWs and AT4s)

And an extra radio and sensors.
 

markppcli

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I think youre inferring how I they fight from them having essentially 2 (or 1 from certain or bats) more Carl Gustav.

They tend to assault mounted, and fight from the family hatch, not something I’d be terribly comfortable with myself. That’s also a bit of a direct contradiction to your point. Every Swede I’ve talked to also speaks of taking the Carl G into the assault, so less arms locker than maybe you think. Regardless the adjustments are fairly minor.
 

daftandbarmy

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I’d argue it’s more task and capability based.
Dismounted troops generally require more firepower so that means more people to carry weapons and ammo.

Looking at an Army SF ODA or MARSOC team, they will usually have 3-4 vehicles and sometimes even more. Granted different role - but doing raids in Iraq it was quite common for 4-5 gun trucks / Team



A Platoon Commander who is significantly less experienced has 4 Vehicles.
Commanding 2 vehicles shouldn’t be an issue for a Sgt, if it is they probably should not be in that position.
As far as multiple groups of dismounts, the USMC and US Army does it, with NCO’s that are generally much less experienced than CA NCO’s

FWIW....

In NI we woulld split the platoon in two parts for the tour: one commanded by the Pl Comd, one by the Pl 2IC (a WO in Canadiana) . These were called 'multiples', as in 'multiple bricks' of 4 soldiers. Each brick was commanded by a Cpl (Sgt) or a LCpl (MCpl). Occasionally a senior Pte might run a brick.

Each Multiple Commander had a minimum of three, and a maximum of seven, bricks under command.

In an urban environment, the 7 x 4 man (28 pax) orbat was more common as two of the bricks were mounted in APVs (heavily armoured Land Rovers) and orbited around the five dismounted bricks as depth cover and built in QRF. When moving to and from DOP/PUPs, we moved the 'walkers' by Pig. Or 'Flying Pig', which was my favourite ;)

The usual patrol program would see four multiple patrols in the AM, four in the afternoon, and about four at night. This could be increased depending on the task and tactical situation.

So, in this case, I've seen a Sgt/2Lt/Lt effectively command up to 28 soldiers/marines, while escorting a couple of police around their daily tasks, day after day for months in some pretty dire situations.

Now this was not what you would call a high intensity warfare scenario, but it worked well and I saw some really gifted young leaders kick some serious ass ;)
 

FJAG

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I've always thought that we'd basically adopted the multiple concept with our sections and its two four-man assault groups made up of two two-man fire teams each.

I took my early learning in platoon tactics with the rifle group/C2 group setup that @Kirkhill referred to above and have always thought that the 2 X four-man assault group based section concept was vastly superior because of its flexibility. The ability to add a third assault group to a section, when necessary, is one example of where the common structure of the assault group comes into play. Having a fire team or assault group go to a weapon's locker for a MAW or NLAW or a C6 when needed is another.

Unfortunately the LAV makes that difficult. If I were king, one of the first changes would be to redesign the LAV so that it's turret would be replaced by a RWS armed with a 30mm and ATGM configuration operable by one man and having enough space for 8 dismounts. But ... I'll never be king so one should probably redesign the assault group TTPs to be as a three-man team which operates as an entity rather than two pairs. The weapon's locker will always be there as circumstances demand.

Was just looking at the GM ISV again and notwithstanding some of the negativity, I like it. It seats nine so with a driver and a vehicle mounted weapon operator it still gives you seven dismounts which mimics the LAV crew configuration nicely (not that you'd use it like a LAV). It's cheap, available, can be produced quickly and even the reserves could maintain these COTS things through their local GM dealer.

$.02

🍻
 

GR66

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Was just looking at the GM ISV again and notwithstanding some of the negativity, I like it. It seats nine so with a driver and a vehicle mounted weapon operator it still gives you seven dismounts which mimics the LAV crew configuration nicely (not that you'd use it like a LAV). It's cheap, available, can be produced quickly and even the reserves could maintain these COTS things through their local GM dealer.

$.02

🍻
BvS10/Bronco 3 are amphibious, give greater off road mobility, can carry as big a section as you'd like and one or the other are likely already going to be procured under the Domestic Arctic Mobility Enhancement program. The platform also has the capacity on the rear segment to mount a huge variety of support weapon options.
 

Infanteer

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the 2 X four-man assault group based section concept was vastly superior because of its flexibility.

I wouldn't agree with that. The "fire team" approach waters down the ability of the section to lay down serious suppression. What's worse, we equip the fireteam with a Light Machine Gun, and then employ it as an automatic rifle, making it one of the least effective tools in the section. Soldiers are the least effective when trying to bound and engage the enemy at the same time due to the cumulative effects of trying to conduct a physically demanding activity (bounding) while also firing a weapon while also dealing with the physiological effects of incoming enemy fire.

The "fire team" concept is built off this silly belief that conducting alternating bounds across wide open fields to take out a lone two person trench is a viable tactical approach for sections (a scar from 1940s battle drill). Experience in battle shows that even the smallest tactical elements need to establish a sturdy base of fire, capable of suppression, so that a small element can move quickly to assault.

Here's a good throwback article demonstrating how poor our section organization and doctrine actually is:


 
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OldSolduer

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I wouldn't agree with that. The "fire team" approach waters down the ability of the section to lay down serious suppression. What's worse, we equip the fireteam with a Light Machine Gun, and then employ it as an automatic rifle, making it one of the least effective tools in the section. Soldiers are the least effective when trying to bound and engage the enemy at the same time due to the cumulative effects of trying to conduct a physically demanding activity (bounding) while also firing a weapon while also dealing with the physiological effects of incoming enemy fire.

The "fire team" concept is built off this silly belief that a conducting alternating bounds across wide open fields to take out a lone two person trench is a viable tactical approach for sections (a scar from 1940s battle drill). Experience in battle shows that even the smallest tactical elements need to establish a sturdy base of fire, capable of suppression, so that a small element can move quickly to assault.

Here's a good throwback article demonstrating how poor our section organization and doctrine actually is:


We used to put the C2s in a fire base under command of the section 2 I/C while the rest of us assaulted. I know this predates the Jurassic age but….

You’re right about the physically demanding part.
 

FJAG

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BvS10/Bronco 3 are amphibious, give greater off road mobility, can carry as big a section as you'd like and one or the other are likely already going to be procured under the Domestic Arctic Mobility Enhancement program. The platform also has the capacity on the rear segment to mount a huge variety of support weapon options.
And cost about five times as much per unit as the ISV.

I've got no problem with the idea of getting enough for maybe a battalion. I think we still have a dozen or so of the 75 some odd Bv206s we originally bought. That was enough for our AMF(L) battlegroup and I think would probably suit our current needs again.

I tend to think that not everything needs to be Gucci kit.

I wouldn't agree with that.

I'll defer to your significantly greater experience with this than mine.

When I take a look at the 1960s version of the section compared to todays, I see that the fire base was provided by one and later 2 C2s which had a heavier bullet but generally less ammunition available. There was also no grenadier (just tossed grenades and the highly suspect rifle grenade).

That leaves me with the question. Is it the weapons mix that's the issue? or the way the drills are executed?

My version of CFP 309(3) is the 1996 version which uses the two assault groups but still has Battle Drill 4 - Win the fire fight and Battle Drill 5 - Approach which stresses the need for one group covering the other in a way not dissimilar as to how the rifle group/C2 group moved until the C2s were in a proper position to cover the final assault. I don't see the problem that the author describes in the article as one being foisted on the section by CFP309(3) but appears to be more of a way it is being executed or perhaps that todays LMGs within each group do not lay a heavy enough weight of fire down to supress the enemy position.

So, do we go to putting the two LMGs into one group and the grenadiers in the other with the objective being to work the LMG group into a firm firebase? while the grenadier group assaults? Or do we swap out the LMG for a heavier MMG in the group?

Perhaps my comment on two identical assault groups being more flexible is overly influenced by a summer of me being a C2 gunner who constantly had to run from one side of the section formation to the other every time the section commander changed his mind about which terrain feature presented the better location for a fire base. With two coequal groups, that becomes unnecessary - the section commander can decide which of the two groups is better positioned to be the fire base at any given time.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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On the training front Guns and Rifles instilled two things.

1 look for support and use it
2 look for an open flank or create one.

It also taught the benefit of advancing right up to the beaten zone with the guns firing from the rifles flank. The objective was suppressed right up until the rifles were on the objective.
 

Kirkhill

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And cost about five times as much per unit as the ISV.

I've got no problem with the idea of getting enough for maybe a battalion. I think we still have a dozen or so of the 75 some odd Bv206s we originally bought. That was enough for our AMF(L) battlegroup and I think would probably suit our current needs again.

I tend to think that not everything needs to be Gucci kit.



I'll defer to your significantly greater experience with this than mine.

When I take a look at the 1960s version of the section compared to todays, I see that the fire base was provided by one and later 2 C2s which had a heavier bullet but generally less ammunition available. There was also no grenadier (just tossed grenades and the highly suspect rifle grenade).

That leaves me with the question. Is it the weapons mix that's the issue? or the way the drills are executed?

My version of CFP 309(3) is the 1996 version which uses the two assault groups but still has Battle Drill 4 - Win the fire fight and Battle Drill 5 - Approach which stresses the need for one group covering the other in a way not dissimilar as to how the rifle group/C2 group moved until the C2s were in a proper position to cover the final assault. I don't see the problem that the author describes in the article as one being foisted on the section by CFP309(3) but appears to be more of a way it is being executed or perhaps that todays LMGs within each group do not lay a heavy enough weight of fire down to supress the enemy position.

So, do we go to putting the two LMGs into one group and the grenadiers in the other with the objective being to work the LMG group into a firm firebase? while the grenadier group assaults? Or do we swap out the LMG for a heavier MMG in the group?

Perhaps my comment on two identical assault groups being more flexible is overly influenced by a summer of me being a C2 gunner who constantly had to run from one side of the section formation to the other every time the section commander changed his mind about which terrain feature presented the better location for a fire base. With two coequal groups, that becomes unnecessary - the section commander can decide which of the two groups is better positioned to be the fire base at any given time.

🍻
Who says the section commander can't reconfigure the section depending on the situation?

If you have 2 teams of 3, swap an lmg for a Rifleman and you have a firebase and an assault group

Etc ad infinitum ad nauseum.
 

ArmyRick

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Looking at this, I see we are comparing infantry sections operating in different context such as
-High intensity warfare advance to contact on foot (ouch, casualties anyone? Sometimes not avoidable like the Falklands)
-Defensive positions
-Patrolling in counter insurgency (NI and Afghanistan?) security presence
-Reconnaissance patrolling? (I wonder how much that will change when drones everywhere ?)

So what are your thoughts on how the infantry section is employed by itself and within a platoon in the above scenarios?
 

ArmyRick

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How many of you followed the stories of the Rhodesian Light Infantry and their use of the Fire Force?
 

daftandbarmy

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How many of you followed the stories of the Rhodesian Light Infantry and their use of the Fire Force?

I know guys who served in the RLI and the Fireforce units.

They were pretty clear that it was an adaptation to the unique requirements of that particular war, and the limitations Rhodesia had in equipment etc due to sanctions, and caution should be used when trying to draw out lessons for General War.

Like, you know, 100% air superiority all the time won't be achievable.
 
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