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December 1, 2022

Part 4 Comparative Lethality

This portion compares the lethality values of various current and proposed organizations using lethality values from TACOPS[2]. The organizations compared are:

  • Mechanized Infantry Task Force with 2 Mech and 1 Tank Companies.
  • Mechanized Infantry Task Force with 3 Mech and 1 Tank Companies.
  • Balanced Infantry Task Force with 2 Mech and 2 Tank Companies.
  • Medium Infantry Battalion with 3 Medium Infantry Companies using the LAV III+[1].
  • USMC Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions with 4 LAR Companies.
  • Medium Infantry Battalion with 3 Medium Infantry Company using the M113and AGS.

These battalions rate in comparative lethality (as compared to the Mech-heavy task force of 2 mech companies and 1 tank company) as shown in Figure 8:

Organization Lethality Lethality Ratio
USMC LAI BN 5198 0.84
MECH BN TF (2M/1T) 6171 1.00
USA MED BN 7357 1.19
M8/M113 7471 1.21
Balanced TF (2M/2T) 7671 1.24

MECH BN TF (3M,1T) 7904 1.28

Figure 8.
Comparative Lethality and Force Ratio

The lethality index is graphically portrayed in Figure 9 and the weapon system strength is shown in Figure 10.

The Mech Heavy TF (ratio 1.0) is the study baseline because it is the objective organization for US Army heavy units in the near future. (Some units have already begun to convert.) It is based on the premise that digital C4I systems will provide a combat multiplier equal to or greater than the lost combat power represented by the fourth company. The Mech Heavy TF, with three company teams, has extensive long-range killing power, centered on its tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, but lacks the close in killing power of the Medium Infantry.

The USMC LAI Battalion has relatively little combat power when compared to the other forces due to the lack of dismounted ATGMs and small dismounted infantry element.

The medium battalion’s high lethality rating is due to the high number of Javelins, large number of dismounts, the organic assault gun platoon, and the ten 120mm mortars in the battalion. This organization, while it only has three companies is, due to its four platoon structure, essentially a four company unit. The medium battalion could reasonably expect to include 4 LAV-AT systems, which increase its lethality, but is not included in its totals here.

The Medium Battalions converted to the M113 and the M8 AGS is slightly more powerful than the LAV based Medium Infantry Battalion. While there is a significant lethality difference between the .50 caliber machine gun and the 25mm cannon, this seems to be offset by the improved mobility of the tracked vehicles and increased armor protection and lethality of the AGS when compared to the LAV-AG. Otherwise, these two battalions are structured the same.

The four-company heavy task force is more lethal than the medium battalion due to a greater number of tanks and TOW missiles, as well as armor protection of the vehicles. The balanced TF (2 tank and 2 mech companies) was, in the author’s experience, the favored task organization in heavy divisions for battalion task forces. It provided a reasonable balance between tank heavy killing power and infantry dismounts.


  • The Medium battalion may suffer from a lack of long-range anti-tank fires, due to the Javelin’s 2,000 range. It is uncertain if the LAV-AG and any attached LAV-AT will offset this possible deficiency.
  • The medium battalion needs to make greater use of stealth, terrain, and engineer work to offset its lower protective value when compared to a heavy TF, especially in the defense.
  • In close combat, its greater dismount strength and larger number of close range anti-tank systems may make it more lethal than the heavy task force.

Figure 9.
Comparative Lethality


Figure 10.
Weapon Systems

Part 5 Gaming it out


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