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December 1, 2022



Part 3 The Medium Battalion

Examination of the medium battalion (Figure 7) does not show any revolutionary concepts. It is organized in the triangular pattern of most US Army organizations since World War II, but it does have a departure in that the companies have a fourth platoon, a trait usually found only in US Armored Cavalry Units.

As we have seen from our historical trait, its probable use of wheeled vehicles is not historically unique in the US Army. Many other armies, notably the Russian and French, use a combination of wheel and tracked combat vehicles.

This organization is designed to prevail through dismounted infantry assault instead of mounted combat.   To accomplish this it has 8 – 10 dismounts per carrier instead of the four of the Marine’s LAR battalion. This requires a larger vehicle than the LAV-25 such as the LAV III+1 or a variant of the LAV-Logistics vehicle mounting only a M240, M2, or MK-19 machine gun on a skate mount. Instead of the LARs AT vehicles, it probably will use LAV-Assault Gun vehicles with a 105mm cannon.

There is significant debate over the "worthiness" of wheels versus tracks. Wheels are supposed to be more maintainable, faster in some circumstances, more strategically mobile. They can carry armament sufficient to knock out main battle tanks at the cost of armor protection – a trait shared with battle cruisers and tank destroyers. Tracked vehicles have better off road mobility and are generally considered more robust.

Figure 7.
Proposed Medium Battalion

For anti-tank fires, the battalion has 45 Javelins but no TOWs. Unfortunately, Javelins have a range of only 2000 - 2500 meters and most OPFOR ATGMs out range them. The brigade AT company will provide long range fires, probably initially with 12 LAV-AT type vehicles with TOW missiles. Perhaps later, the Line of Sight Anti-Tank or FOG-M systems will take the TOW’s place. Many OPFOR ATGMs also outrange the TOW with its 3,750-meter reach. This lack of range could leave the battalion and its companies at a severe disadvantage when faced with Former Soviet Union equipment equipped with long range AT missiles.

Each company probably will have two 120mm LAV mounted mortars, with four more at battalion for a total of ten mortars.    A tracked version of this force is also under consideration, centering on the M113 and the M8 Armored Gun System. It is also possible that it will have a mix of wheels and tracks.

New doctrine will have to be invented to provide this organization a method to fight. Its four-platoon organization will be new to anyone except armored cavalry troop commanders. As such, it will require some learning and experimentation to find the best way to employ it and this is being done by the heavy use of JANUS at Fort Knox and Fort Benning.

Even though this unit is not supposed to stand and slug it out with heavy armored forces, we can imagine many situations where it may have to. Since it will likely be the first unit to arrive behind the assault forces of the 82nd Airborne Division or the US Marines, it may well be called upon to do so as we can no longer expect an enemy to sit idly by while we leisurely expand beach or air heads.

Observations

This organization shares many of the characteristics of its predecessors in that it:

  • Seeks to substitute speed and stealth for armor.
  • Lacks long-range anti-tank fires.
  • Has systems that may well be regarded as tanks (the LAV-AG or AGS) when tanks are not available.
  • Will more than likely have to fight against enemy forces it was not designed to (the T-80/BMP combination) instead of a lower tech unit such as the T-55/BTR combination.

On the positive side:

  • In a rush to get fielded, is adopting off the shelf vehicles after a "shoot out" instead of planning on new acquisition.
  • Doctrine is being developed, in conjunction with existing weapon systems, to provide a fightable organization from the start.
  • Simulations are being used to develop tactics, tips, and procedures for its employment.
  • Has a large dismounted infantry component, which delivers a high volume of general purpose and anti-tank fires in the 0 to 2,000 meter range band.
  • Its large infantry component corrects weaknesses of the Bradley and LAR battalions.

Part 4 Comparative Lethality

 

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