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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

GR66

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What is the advantage of 8x50 over 3x133? Larger span of control to keep the CO exercised?
This is in following with some of the other threads which discuss the way that pre-1914 Battalions were made up of larger numbers of smaller companies and that the consolidation into larger companies was a direct result in the attritional warfare that was experienced in WWI.

The idea is that with smaller, more specialized forces in a modern battle space dispersion is of greater importance in order to avoid being picked apart by precision fires which will identify and target concentrated forces.

It's also a case of "different horses for different courses". The Mechanized Brigades and the Reserve Infantry Brigades would continue to have the larger (modern) company sizes, but only the Light Reaction Forces would have the smaller Company groups. This would give you flexibility to respond with different types of forces in different situations as well as possibly more realistically representing the size of rapid reaction force we could be able to quickly deploy and support by air considering the size of our transport fleet.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Let's admit it - we jumped at the opportunity to put our jungian heart (the medium-heavy BG of the Staff College's dream) in Kandahar as it could roam around the arid valleys and riverbeds looking for a fight. This may not have been appropriate after the Taliban figured out how the game worked in 2006.
Indeed. At the risk of derailing the thread, the rotational approach to COIN has drawbacks, among them the need for each rotation to prove oneself in combat. The Brits, though, took a light force into Helmand in 2006 and relied on a heavier force to bail them out.

Putting aside the chances of success in such an endeavor, is there a capability missing in the Canadian Army to embark on a COIN campaign?
 

Kirkhill

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This is in following with some of the other threads which discuss the way that pre-1914 Battalions were made up of larger numbers of smaller companies and that the consolidation into larger companies was a direct result in the attritional warfare that was experienced in WWI.

The idea is that with smaller, more specialized forces in a modern battle space dispersion is of greater importance in order to avoid being picked apart by precision fires which will identify and target concentrated forces.

It's also a case of "different horses for different courses". The Mechanized Brigades and the Reserve Infantry Brigades would continue to have the larger (modern) company sizes, but only the Light Reaction Forces would have the smaller Company groups. This would give you flexibility to respond with different types of forces in different situations as well as possibly more realistically representing the size of rapid reaction force we could be able to quickly deploy and support by air considering the size of our transport fleet.


Just to span the gap between the CO managing 3x 133 or 8x 50:

The Old 8x50 companies were led by Captains assisted by their Subalterns.

The companies were grouped into regiments led by Colonels and their assisting Field Officers, Lieutenants Colonel and Majors with Lts Col commanding a wing of the regiment in the field (also known as a battalion) , and Majors commanding a wing of the battalion.

So a 20 company regiment, organized around 20 Captaincies of 50 PYs and commanded by a Colonel, would be divided into 2 Battalions of 10 companies each commanded by one of the Colonel's lieutenants with each Lt Col assisted by Majors.

The 10 companies would comprise:

an independent light company (recce company) commanded by a senior captain;
an independent grenadier company (support company) commanded by a senior captain, and;
2 wings, each of 4 line companies (rifles), with the wings commanded by a Major.



So, the answer to the span of control question is

Instead of the 1916 formula of 28 to 44 PYs under a Subaltern and his 4 PY command team

Return to the pre-1914 structure of 50 PYs under a Captain (more seasoned and trusted with autonomous decision making), held within a Regiment of 16 to 26 Captaincies and divisible, under the team of Field Officers into Battalions of 8 to 13 Companies under Lt Cols and further divisible into "wings" under Majors.



To keep things less disruptive there is no reason to interfere with the Field Officers and the Battalion, Company structure. All that is necessary is to progress the tendency that began in 1917 with the re-introduction of small, autonomous units of 28 to 44, now called Platoons instead of Companies.

Expand the scope of capabilities, and the autonomy , of the Platoon on the ADO battlefield, and place it under the Command of a Captain with a Lt as a deputy. Leave the Companies as Field Grade Commands.

Or, if the Captains, prefer upgrade the name of their 50 PY command to the traditional Captain's command of a Company and rename the Battalion Companies as Wings under Majors.


You could keep the Mech Battalions under the 1917 formula and the Lights, Rangers and Reserves under the older formula


Or whatever...
 

CBH99

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Indeed. At the risk of derailing the thread, the rotational approach to COIN has drawbacks, among them the need for each rotation to prove oneself in combat. The Brits, though, took a light force into Helmand in 2006 and relied on a heavier force to bail them out.

Putting aside the chances of success in such an endeavor, is there a capability missing in the Canadian Army to embark on a COIN campaign?
If there is one capability that we are currently missing, that I believe would be a game changer for us in a future COIN campaign - it would be armed UAVs.

We can all debate the pros & cons of wheeled vs. tracked, different types of weapons and ammo, etc etc. If there is one capability that I think would be a huge game changer, a fairly straight forwards acquisition (In theory, anyway... :rolleyes:) - ideal in almost all operations, but survivable in a future COIN operation - it would be to have armed ISR assets overhead.

It's great that the Canadian UAV detachment was able to the patrols & FOBs about enemy sneaking up on their position, or observe an enemy planting an IED. To be able to have them deal with the problem? Gold.



T2B, I reckon you have a fair bit of experience. What would be your answer to that question? (Missing capability in the Canadian Army to embark on a COIN campaign?)
 

Kirkhill

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Indeed. At the risk of derailing the thread, the rotational approach to COIN has drawbacks, among them the need for each rotation to prove oneself in combat. The Brits, though, took a light force into Helmand in 2006 and relied on a heavier force to bail them out.

Putting aside the chances of success in such an endeavor, is there a capability missing in the Canadian Army to embark on a COIN campaign?

Does that argue for making a decision on deploying and rotating Either a COIN adapted Light Force OR a Heavy Force? Or does it argue for a long term commitment of the COIN adapted Light Force with a "disengaged" Heavy Force in local garrison as a QRF? A sheathed sword of a threat?
 

Kirkhill

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If there is one capability that we are currently missing, that I believe would be a game changer for us in a future COIN campaign - it would be armed UAVs.

We can all debate the pros & cons of wheeled vs. tracked, different types of weapons and ammo, etc etc. If there is one capability that I think would be a huge game changer, a fairly straight forwards acquisition (In theory, anyway... :rolleyes:) - ideal in almost all operations, but survivable in a future COIN operation - it would be to have armed ISR assets overhead.

It's great that the Canadian UAV detachment was able to the patrols & FOBs about enemy sneaking up on their position, or observe an enemy planting an IED. To be able to have them deal with the problem? Gold.



T2B, I reckon you have a fair bit of experience. What would be your answer to that question? (Missing capability in the Canadian Army to embark on a COIN campaign?)

Given limitations on PYs should the Army be spending PYs on UAVs, and even Air Defence?

Or should the RCAF be bound more tightly into a Canadian Expeditionary Force, by tying 2 Wing in Bagotville into the plan and requiring them to not only supply Radars, LRPAs, and F18s/F35s, but also UAVs, Air Defence Artillery and ASCCs?

The would allow the RCA to focus on ground bound strike assets (M777s, Archers and potentially 120mm carriers) with 4 RCA focusing on rapidly deployable LRPRs.

The RCAF is going to be looking for more places to employ its PYs as planes get more expensive and the number of pilots required gets smaller.
 

Kirkhill

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And, for that matter, helicopters.

I can't help but think that a sense of urgency would ensue if the co-ordinators were subject to the same dust and bombs as the people being supported.
 

Edward Campbell

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A couple of disconnected points:

1. Our modern brigade group is a child of the 1950s nuclear battlefield. The watchword was dispersal ~ a corps frontage went from narrow, less than the range of an 8" howitzer in WWII to, literally, 100+km in Northern Army Group in the 1960s. Nuclear weapons made dispersal necessary ~ a concentrated force was a lucrative target, and modern mechanized equipment and better communications made dispersal ~ and concentration in time possible, and our nuclear weapons made a new kind of concentration of force possible. 1 BR Corps had three small divisions plus a largeish Canadian brigade group ~ larger than any other in.NATO, not as large as many thought it needed to me. (P. 12 of Maj Kieley's paper.)

2. We have never, since the mid-1960s been able to field what we considered to be a "proper" decision. We tried in the RV series (I was on RV 81) and we put three small brigade groups into the field with massive reserve augmentation but they were in no one's imagination a division in anything other than name.

3. A lack of proper formations in which commanders think about formation operations means that many Canadian commanders ~ with two or three stars ~ are highly skilled company commanders and have some, albeit limited experience at unit or even battle group command but few have any real, useful experience as formation commanders.

4. Brooke Claxton, starting in about 1950, made the most far reaching changes in military organization and strategy in Canadian history ~ more radical than Hellyer/Unification/Integration in the 1960s ~ without ever needing a White Paper because he had the confidence of his PM (St Laurent and his cabinet). The difference between the 1950s and the 2020s is that the government of the day was committed, then, to playing a responsible leading role in global affairs the government today is committed to nothing at all. Claxton, his deputy and Mainguy, Simonds and Curtis didn't need a policy framework because he, St Laurent, Pearson and Howe and Truman and Acheson and then General Eisenhower (in Fontainebleau) were in pretty much complete accord about why and what and how much Canada needed to do.
 

FJAG

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... So a 20 company regiment, organized around 20 Captaincies of 50 PYs and commanded by a Colonel, would be divided into 2 Battalions of 10 companies each commanded by one of the Colonel's lieutenants with each Lt Col assisted by Majors. ...
So we now have 1X Col, 2 X LCol, 4 X Maj, 20 X Capt and 20 X Lt/2Lt (assuming you still have a company Capt assisted by a subaltern as under the old system) commanding a 1,000 man regiment (not counting regt'l staff or service support) rather than 1 X LCol, 4 X Maj and 23 X Capt/Lt/2Lt commanding a 700 man battalion (not counting bn staff or service support)

I presume brigades will now be commanded by BGens.

When I look at a regiment I see a steady progression over the years until evolving into the triangular regimental system used by the Americans during the latter part of WW2. There a regt (commanded by a Col) had three battalions (commanded by LCols) each with four coy (3 rifle and 1 weapons) each with 4 platoons of roughly 40 (again 3 rifle and 1 weapons). The big difference here is that each platoon is commanded by a 2Lt; the companies are 200 strong; the battalion is 871 strong and the regiment is 3,118. That's roughly a brigade (and remember the WW2 regiments had only some organic artillery with the rest of the artillery, engineers or service support all belonging to the division.

In effect a US WW2 infantry regiment had a colonel commanding some 27 X 40 man platoons and roughly 12 X weapons platoons.

It strikes me that if the aim is to create 40-50 man elements then rather than converting a 700 man battalion into a 1,000 man regiment (with its inherent rank inflation) one might want to consider replacing the brigade with a colonel commanded 3,000 plus regiment. This gives you close to the same net effect but with the advantage of using a more familiar triangular command structure and employment paradigm.

All that begs the question as to whether the brigade's combat support and service support elements stay with the "regiment" or are recaptured upward into a division like structure (or some other aggregate that devolves elements to a "regiment" on an as required basis -- but that's another issue entirely.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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The big question for me is "Autonomy"

The WW1/WW2 Lt was given 90 days training and closely supervised while given limited objectives.

The current model suggests that at least some, if not all, of the force is going to be widely distributed/dispersed and primarily invested in observing the AO, concentrating fires on the objective first (implying direct comms with support and integral long range weapons) and only concentrating bodies on the objective once the objective (and its support) is suppressed/neutralized.

Is that the job for a 90 day wonder?
Or is that the job for a seasoned Captain/WO team?
 

FJAG

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The big question for me is "Autonomy"

The WW1/WW2 Lt was given 90 days training and closely supervised while given limited objectives.

The current model suggests that at least some, if not all, of the force is going to be widely distributed/dispersed and primarily invested in observing the AO, concentrating fires on the objective first (implying direct comms with support and integral long range weapons) and only concentrating bodies on the objective once the objective (and its support) is suppressed/neutralized.

Is that the job for a 90 day wonder?
Or is that the job for a seasoned Captain/WO team?
Where do the "seasoned" captains come from? I presume that means that each "company" would have that "subaltern" deputy that I only assumed before. 90 day wonders take a year or so to learn their jobs these days - plus they have very experienced WOs as pl 2i/cs. Will each of those now become an MWO in a fifty-man company?

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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Perhaps,

But equally we could start filling sections with Privates instead of Corporals, implementing Corporals as Junior Leaders of Teams or Sections, Master Corporals as Sergeants in Training (dare I say Lance Sergeants?) and Sergeants as Platoon NCOs?

Then you end up with seasoned Sergeants under seasoned Captains and Warrants and Lieutenants learning their trade. Along with the other bodies in the Platoon/Company.

That autonomy is why the Light and Grenadier companies went to Senior Captains while Junior Captains, and their Subalterns, stayed in the Line Companies - under close supervision.

The British Army, traditionally, is an Army of Sergeants.

Most other armies, at their peril, neglect the Sergeants and focus on the dichotomy between the Commissioned and the Others.
 

suffolkowner

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How to structure the army is a problem all small organizations are likely having. Found this on the situation in Australia. Equipment purchased! organization?

 

markppcli

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How to structure the army is a problem all small organizations are likely having. Found this on the situation in Australia. Equipment purchased! organization?

Sort of the advantage of having clear purpose and direction for your military isn't it. Of course with the current Australian IFV purchase numbers, 450 IFs with around 20 support varients, it seems ass though they're aiming for a fully mechanized 3 Brigades. As a regional power in an increasingly volatile South Pacific that makes sense, though I wonder if they would have been better served by simply adopting the Boxer has their IFV and Recce vehicle.
 

Old Sweat

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Hmmm, this is interesting and demonstrates that we are not afraid to think outside the box. I do have some difficulty with a "lots of little companies" concept, including the very real possibility of having to group them into big companies. Let me toss in being unable to have standard groupings, of say, two or three companies, and then fielding and fighting these three or four groups. Let's talk employment, perhaps manoeuvring two or three groups, with one or two companies in reserve. Somebody, who wants to manage change, will propose a command pool remarkably similar to our current company headquarters, and then somebody else will say let's train like we would like to fight, so let's permanently group each of these with the same two or three "little" companies. Anybody want to guess what is the next logical step?

And as a gunner, how many FOO parties are required for a battalion, the answer probably lies somewhere between one and eight, okay, two and eight. Obviously, with today's field regiment capable of shooting as one, two, three, or four fire units, this has all the makings of a cluster screw.

And what about support weapons platoons, not to mention Echo and Tango troops and squadrons?

I really don't have a dog in this fight, and haven't tried to calculate the various combinations of combat power. What I am trying to do is move the discussion forward a step or two. My skin is pretty thick, so have at me.
 

markppcli

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My objection to "little companies" is that we already have a 40 ish person organization often lead by a captain... it's a platoon.
 

McG

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We promote people to captain based on time alone. While there is a huge difference between a senior captain and a junior captain, the difference between lieutenants and captains (as a collective) is less distinct. Until promotion to captain is selection based, the rank is not a good fit for mini sub-units
 

GR66

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My objection to "little companies" is that we already have a 40 ish person organization often lead by a captain... it's a platoon.
I'm not suggesting (and I don't think anyone else here suggested) that we abandon our more traditional structure to have an entire army of small companies (or large platoons if you prefer).

The idea would be that you have a portion of your force...the light portion...organized such that you have relatively small groupings of troops that are capable of dispersed, independent operations. The intention wouldn't be to have these units congregate to take on opposition conventional forces directly (that's what our own conventional forces would be for), but rather to keep the enemy off balance. Create fog on the battlefield. Threaten lines of logistics. Slow their advance.

One of the strengths of the Russians and Chinese armies that has often been mentioned is their mass. We may have better quality troops/weapons but they have greater weight of troops/firepower. Small but well armed units units using hit and run tactics could force the enemy to disperse their forces to deal with these attacks. That would allow our conventional units to take on their forces while their advantage of greater mass is diminished.

Smaller, agile forces such as these would also be very useful in counter-insurgencies and smaller proxy wars which in my opinion are likely to increase in frequency as great power competition heats up. Neither the Russians or the Chinese are going to want to try and take on the strongest aspect of the US military, its conventional forces, if they can instead achieve their political goals through other, less direct means.
 

Ludoc

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I'm not suggesting (and I don't think anyone else here suggested) that we abandon our more traditional structure to have an entire army of small companies (or large platoons if you prefer).

The idea would be that you have a portion of your force...the light portion...organized such that you have relatively small groupings of troops that are capable of dispersed, independent operations. The intention wouldn't be to have these units congregate to take on opposition conventional forces directly (that's what our own conventional forces would be for), but rather to keep the enemy off balance. Create fog on the battlefield. Threaten lines of logistics. Slow their advance.

In a conventional fight isn't this what we would use CSOR for? A bunch of fit, motivated, light forces led by Senior Captains who have been selected for the role.
 
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