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Evolution of the US Army infantry squad. Equivalent histories for other nations?


Centurian42
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I found a PDF document(published in 1995, file:///C:/Users/Gareth%20T/Downloads/ADA293440.pdf ) detailing the history of changes to the US Army infantry squad since WW2, as well as several studies aimed at determining the optimum composition of the squad and platoon. I was hoping someone might either have some information about the evolution of the squads of other armies(russians/soviets, british, germans?) or have something to add to this history. Possibly clean up the 80's to present era.

 

WW2(page 5&6)- Twelve man squad consisting of three teams and one squad leader and an assistant leader. Equipped with eleven rifles and one automatic rifle(BAR doesn't quite make the cut as a light machine gun). Able team was the scout team with two soldiers. Baker team was the support element with an automatic rifleman(BAR) an assistant, and ammunition bearer. Charlie team was the maneuver element with 5 riflemen.

 

Problems with this organization- The leader sometimes became pinned down with his scouts, and was unable to control the other two teams. The loss of leaders left soldiers in charge of squads who had little experience in controlling three teams. Attrition to the squad played havoc with the composition of the teams. Basically this structure was poorly prepared for losses. My own experience in CMBN and CMFI also showed that the BAR provided a pitiful amount of firepower to such a large group of men.

 

 

1947-1953, this is the squad the would have fought in Korea(page 6&7)- Nine man squad with no teams and one squad leader. Equipped with eight rifles and one automatic rifle.

 

Advantages over previous organizations- Fewer men meant the squad was easier for a single leader to control(which was the point). The squad could more easily absorb losses.

 

Problems with this organization- The lack of teams meant the squad had more limited tactical options when it was forced to fight as a separate unit(a problem highlighted by the rugged terrain of Korea). While one automatic rifle per nine men is better than one for every twelve, it still isn't very much firepower.

 

 

1953-1956(page 7)- Nine man squad with two teams and one squad leader. Equipped with seven rifles and two automatic rifles. Teams are balanced with three rifles and a BAR each.

 

Advantages over previous organizations- The additions of teams expanded the tactical options available. The balanced nature of the teams meant that either could serve as the fire support or maneuver element as the squad leader sees fit. Two teams are easy to control compared to three.

 

 

1956-1963(page 8-14)- Eleven man squad with three leaders(one squad leader and two team leaders) and two teams. Equipped with nine rifles and two automatic rifles. The teams consisted of five men. One team leader, an automatic rifleman, and three riflemen. Note: during this time the Army acquired the M14 to replace both the M1 garand and the BAR. This did not change the squad organization, the automatic rifleman simply set his M14 to fire fully automatic.

 

Advantages over previous organizations- The high ratio of leaders to soldiers meant that the squad was well controlled. The squad(and teams) could better absorb losses.

 

1963-1973(page 14-18) Ten man squad with three leaders(one squad leader and two team leaders) and two teams. Equipped with eleven rifles, two of which were fired fully automatic. One team consisted of five men, the other of four men. Both teams had a team leader and an automatic rifleman, the remaining men were riflemen.

 

1973-1984(page 18) Light infantry identical to 1956-1963. Mechanized infantry squad consisted of eleven men, with a driver, gunner, and nine dismounts. The dismount element had a light machine gunner with the M60.

 

1984-present(page 20&21)- Light infantry reduced to 9 men with two teams of four due to personnel constraints. During this time the light infantry finally get a proper light machine gun in the M249. Mechanized infantry run into some complications as the Bradley IFV(at the time anyway) could only fit nine people. At first it was a driver and gunner with seven dismounts. After they realized that a vehicle commander needs to stay with the Bradley at all times the dismount force was reduced to six. Assuming CMSF and CMBS got their TO&E correct there has since been space carved out in the Bradley for a nine man dismount squad identical to the light infantry.

 

 

The results of the numerous testing done during this time seems to show that the best squad consists of two balanced fire teams, with a light machine gun organic to each team. The ten(five man and four man team), eleven(two five man teams), and thirteen(two six man teams) man squads outperformed every other squad configuration. The thirteen man squad was best able to withstand attrition and complete the mission. But as the eleven man squad was still able to perform consistently well after sustaining losses, and required fewer personnel than the thirteen man squad, it was probably the best overall. The army knows this but currently uses nine man squads due to personnel constraints.

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Below is the link ot the dtic.mil download.

 

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA293440

 

http://www.slideshare.net/BrianLucke/the-us-army-squad-foundation-of-the-decisive-force is an interesting slideshare on the current US Army Squad that may cover some of the period you asked about.  I think it's interesing that as part of Force XXI they considered reducing the squad to 7 men, with the assumption that technology would help make up the difference.  In the end however they stuck with 9 men.

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1984-present(page 20&21)- Light infantry reduced to 9 men with two teams of four due to personnel constraints. During this time the light infantry finally get a proper light machine gun in the M249. Mechanized infantry run into some complications as the Bradley IFV(at the time anyway) could only fit nine people. At first it was a driver and gunner with seven dismounts. After they realized that a vehicle commander needs to stay with the Bradley at all times the dismount force was reduced to six. Assuming CMSF and CMBS got their TO&E correct there has since been space carved out in the Bradley for a nine man dismount squad identical to the light infantry.

 

 

Actually, the game's Bradley fudges reality slightly.  From the manual (pp. 73-74):

 

"Note: We have artificially increased the passenger capacity of the M2 Bradley to accommodate a full rifle squad. In reality, a full rifle squad cannot fit in a Bradley, so there is a complicated cross-loading routine that results in members of multiple squads mixed together in the platoon HQ Bradley. Needless to say, simulating this is more trouble than it is worth!"

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^^^

 

Expanding on the Bradley fudge: in a platoon, every man can be carried. So, the equipped vehicles can carry the assigned troops. In reality, as mentioned, the squads get broken up an pieces get put into odd places. That is easily done in real life. In-game, the only way to make it work was to add the extra space. The game still has the same number of vehicles and the same number of troops as they should have IRL.

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