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Subject: What about the structure of the Army's Sections and Platoons
Volkodav    8/19/2008 8:30:33 AM
The structure of our infantry sections has changed very little since vietnam. There have been studies and plans but very little real change apart from converting the rifle group into a second gun group when the F-89 was intoduced. During Vietnam six man patrols were proven to be more effective than nine man sections. Should we be looking at replacing our three sections in each platoon with four squads with the remaining three men joining PHQ to man a 60mm mortar or some other support weapon?
 
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Kevin Pork       8/20/2008 6:22:40 AM

During Vietnam six man patrols were proven to be more effective than nine man sections.


I'd be interested to see that "proof" and also to see just how "effective" is defined in this context. do you have any cites I can look at?
 
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Volkodav       8/20/2008 7:24:51 AM
I'd be interested to see that "proof" and also to see just how "effective" is defined in this context. do you have any cites I can look at?
 
It was in a defence mag within the last year, I can't remember which one or even if it was one of mine or one I borrowed from work.  I will endeaver to dig it up as it was an interesting read.
 
The story related to a study on the lethality of infantry in terms of rounds expended per kill, from memory it compared WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  The part I definately remember though was the finding that six man SAS Patrols achieved more kills for rounds expended than was the case for a nine man rifle section from any of the RAR battalions.  This of course is a no brainer.  What really stood out was the stats for six man patrols from the same battalions, while still not as good as the SAS, were significantly better then for the full nine man sections.
 
Again from memory, the suggested reason for this was that the smaller number of troops was easier to control and co-ordinate than nine men.  They would operate as a coherant team in mutual support where the larger section tended to operate as distinct groups, one in support, one assaulting and one following through in reserve.
 
 
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Volkodav       8/20/2008 7:47:03 AM
Found it online (I think) but can't open it for some reason.
 
[PDF]

DEFENCE AND SECURITY APPLICATIONS RESEARCH CENTRE ? UNSW@ADFA ...

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - : as HTML
in combat in Vietnam. Our. measure of lethality is the. number of shots fired to produce ... night, by infantry compared to. SAS, by range of engagement and ...
> - : pages
 
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Raven22       8/20/2008 4:27:55 PM
I don't think there is an ideal makeup for an infantry section or platoon. Currently every deployment we're on has a different organisation for their infantry. As long as the basic building block is the brick of four men, above that it really depends on the situation. As long as the diggers can operate in bricks of 4, sections of 2-3 bricks, and platoons of 3-4 sections, the exact organistion can be determined by the task at hand. Interestingly, the Brits in Iraq most often conduct their patrolling as a 'multiple', which is half-platoon strength (3 bricks) commanded by either the SGT or LT.
 
As to weapons, the arms room approach should defininently be used, where the soldiers can pick and choose which weapons are most suited to their job. For instance, the infantry in Afghanistan currently have Mag-58s, SR-25s, 84s and Javelins issued at platoon level (although getting permission to fire a $144 000 round from a Javelin is not easy). The basic section in Afghaninstan has had one Minimi replaced by a Mag-58. 60mm mortars are not particularly useful IMO. They are not much more lethal than a 40mm grenade, and not worth the effort most of the time. Far better to have an AGL with smart rounds to provide an indirect capability.
 
Flexibility is the order of the day. No matter what battalion they are from, Australia's infantry can at different times to expect to operate from Bushmasters, ASLAVs, M113s, the back of unimogs and slugging along on foot. The can also expect to operate in the jungles and villages of East Timor, the urban sprawl of Baghdad, and the mountains and plains of Afghanistan. No one organisation can fit all roles. As long as the basic building block is the aptly named brick of four men, you can work from there. And bring lots of guns.
 
 
 
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longrifle       8/20/2008 4:57:40 PM
I'll offer this for controversy and conversation: google paul melody rifle squad. 
 
You should find links to a document called The Infantry Rifle Squad: Size is Not the Only Problem.  The insights are invaluable for anyone with an interest in this level of tactical organization.  Whether you agree with all his conclusions or not, it's a very worthwhile read.
 
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Kevin Pork       8/20/2008 7:40:23 PM

Found it online (I think) but can't open it for some reason.

 

[PDF]

DEFENCE AND SECURITY APPLICATIONS RESEARCH CENTRE ? UNSW@ADFA ...









File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - : as HTML

in combat in Vietnam. Our. measure of lethality is the. number of shots fired to produce ... night, by infantry compared to. SAS, by range of engagement and ...

> - : pages




That mentions a study, but gives no details, it also doesn't mention squad size.
2 quick concerns with a smaller squad size are extracting casualties and piquets at night.
 
Also, is "amount of bullets fired per kill" a useful gauge of effectiveness? a lot of what an MG does is supressive fire for example, and how do you factor in calling in arty/air?
 
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Volkodav    Raven   8/21/2008 5:54:06 AM
Does the Army use four man bricks?  I know it was proposed but has it actually gone ahead?
 
I know during the early 90's 6 RAR had 7 man sections consisting of two 3 man fire teams and a single scout but i believe this was more due to lack of man power than anything else.
 
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Raven22       8/21/2008 7:37:41 AM
The army uses a whole bunch of stuctures. At Kapooka/Singleton soldiers are still taught the traditional lets-go-fight-vietnam-again 9 man section. It is still the basic section. However, when learning urban fighting/building clearances etc soldier are taught to use four man bricks. Some battalions are trialing different structures, others are sticking with what they know. 
On ops however, pretty much everyone is using a different force structure depending on their own circumstances and the preference of their leaders. The use of the four man brick is pretty standard though due to the flexibility. 
 
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longrifle       8/21/2008 10:15:59 AM
I'm going to throw something out from the US experience in Vietnam.  At that time, an 11-man rifle squad was supposed to be standard.  It was organized into two five-man fire teams, plus the squad leader.  It almost never worked that way in combat.  Even with five-man fire teams (bricks) the organization fell apart under sustained combat.
 
In Vietnam, US Army squads in the field were usually six to eight men.  A common "unofficial" organization was a machine gunner (M60 then), a grenadier (M79 then), and a handfull of riflemen.  So the "squads" were in reality oversized fire teams that would expand and contract by a few men from time to time.
 
So these little "ideal" fire teams (that originated with special operations forces) have been hard for standard infantry units to sustain for very long in combat.  Even the USMC, with their big 13-man squad of three four-man fire teams, has sometimes had the same problem.
 
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Yimmy       8/21/2008 5:37:15 PM

I'll offer this for controversy and conversation: google paul melody rifle squad. 

 

You should find links to a document called The Infantry Rifle Squad: Size is Not the Only Problem.  The insights are invaluable for anyone with an interest in this level of tactical organization.  Whether you agree with all his conclusions or not, it's a very worthwhile read.

Thanks for posting that, it did make for an interesting read.  I don't agree with his conclusion though, and I think it was fairly skin-deep and poorly backed-up.
 
I was especially surprised by the lack of material the paper was based on (American experiences only), with complete disregard for the Commonwealth and Soviet ideology, which were certainly prevalent at the time, and hardly a well kept secret.  Especially when others were using with success methods which his paper tried to pass off as factually inefficient.

 
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