Infantry: July 3, 2001

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With the reduction of Bradley (armored infantry) battalions from four companies to three, the Army has decided to convert each platoon to carry three squads of nine dismounted infantry instead of the current two squads of nine. Nobody can figure out how this is going to actually function in combat. The third squad will be divided across the four Bradleys, with two men in each vehicle and the squad leader tucked into an empty seat somewhere. Under the current two-squad system, the platoon operates as two sections, each of which has two Bradleys and a squad of infantry. With the new organization, the third squad cannot be assembled unless all of the Bradleys arrive in one place at some point in the operation. This complicates things immensely. What everyone is waiting to see is how the infantry platoon leaders are really going to use the extra troops. One theory is to simply add two men to each fire team, which would certainly give the team more capability and staying power in combat. Another option is to organize each squad into three fire teams, a scheme the Marines use which actually makes more sense than the Army's two-team squad. (If one team gets into trouble, it must somehow establish a base of fire so that the second team can maneuver. With three teams, the team in trouble can concentrate on staying alive while the second team sets up a base of fire and the third does the decisive maneuver.) A third idea is to turn the extra troops into heavy weapons units by assigning them the machineguns or the anti-armor weapons.Stephen V Cole

 


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