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Marines Reorganize Infantry For High-Tech Warfare

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LightFighter

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https://www.realcleardefense.com/2018/05/05/marines_reorganize_infantry_for_high-tech_warfare_301844.html

Marines Reorganize Infantry For High-Tech Warfare
Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense May 5, 2018

“Everything that Marine wears -- from their boots to their socks to their utilities to their helmet -- is all going to be changed," the Commandant said. "We've got money now to do that, and so we've got to make it happen now. We've got to make it happen now, because I'm not going to make the assumption that that money's going to be there.”

ARLINGTON: The Marine Corps is reorganizing its infantry for future high-tech conflicts in which troops must spread out to avoid the enemy’s precision-guided firepower.


To conduct such “distributed operations,” Commandant Robert Neller said last night, the Marines are adding technical experts — in drones, intelligence, supply, and other specialties — to small units so they can operate more independently of higher headquarters. The tradeoff comes in old-fashioned firepower: Infantry squads will shrink from 13 Marines to 12, and infantry battalions will have fewer heavy-duty support weapons such as 81 mm mortars and TOW anti-tank missile launchers.

Not all the changes have been finalized, but pending a formal bulletin to the force, Neller outlined the following moves to a Marine Corps Association awards banquet:

Each rifle squad will get its own quadcopter mini-drone to scout ahead and a drone operator to run it. But the squad will shrink from 13 Marines (three fire teams of four plus a squad leader) to 12 (three fire teams of three plus a command team of squad leader, assistant squad leader, and “squad systems operator”).

Every rifleman will carry the new M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR), complete with flash suppressor, instead of the lighter and less powerful M4 or M16.
Each rifle platoon will also get a specialist drone operator. They and the platoon leadership will also get the M27.
Each company headquarters will get an intelligence cell — making permanent an improvisation from Afghanistan and Iraq — as well as drone operators for reconnaissance, counter-drone specialists to defeat enemy reconnaissance, and logisticians to keep the company supplied.

Each battalion will gain a combat engineer platoon and reshuffle its weapons company. The number of anti-tank teams with shoulder-fired Javelin missiles will increase from eight to 12, and the Javelin’s range will increase with an upgraded control unit. But the number of the heavier (and older) TOW missile launchers will drop by half, from eight to four, and the number of 81 mm mortars by a quarter, from eight to six.

The weapons company will also get Polaris MRZR offroad vehicles to help haul its heavy gear. Their personnel, however, will stick with the old M4 carbine.

“I felt like we could afford to get a little bit lighter,” Neller said of the weapons company changes, speaking to reporters after the dinner, “because of what I anticipate to be the increased range and lethality of weapons and because of other capabilities I think the squad platoon and company’s going to have like Switchblade.” Switchblade is a drone that can both scout for targets and dive on them, detonating itself (or you can think of it as a missile that can do reconnaissance).

The full article can be read at the following link
https://breakingdefense.com/2018/05/marines-reorganize-infantry-for-high-tech-war-fewer-riflemen-more-drones/




 

Jarnhamar

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DBIEDs eh

Interesting changes for the marines. Good article thanks.

We could use Javalins and more TOW, plus a vehicle to use the TOW from.

The Mrazr is a pretty small platform to be lugging those systems around on IMO. There's actually an anti-drone device you can get for the mrazr.

M27s would be nice. We could throw the C9s in the pond.
 

daftandbarmy

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I don't know if it's just me, but I've never seen anything organized around a 3 man team, except perhaps a support weapon like a MMG, or a vehicle with a crew of three, work effectively.

Pairs or fours is the usual grouping that seems most effective. There must be some research about this out there in the Anthropology sphere but, with a 3 man team, someone always gets lost - or accidentally shot - or something like that.

My experience with scuba diving is the same. Pairs or fours, never threes.

 

Infanteer

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There is literature on combatant forces using three-man teams as a building block - the Chinese Communists in Korea and the Chechens come to mind.
 

Blackadder1916

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Some literature discussing Marine squad and team size.  The three man team is not a new concept.

From the Apr 1972 Marine Corps Gazette by (then) Captain James Webb
http://www.jameswebb.com/articles/military-and-veterans/flexibility-and-the-fire-team

From July 1984
https://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/rethinking-rifle-squad

From August 1990
https://www.mcafdn.org/gazette/1990/08/improving-combat-control-case-11-man-triangular-rifle-squad

 

Infanteer

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Discussing changes to the Rifle Squad is an SOP for the Marines, and most other organizations.  I think every edition of the Marine Corps Gazette has an article on changing the composition of the squad.  What is unusual is that, for the first time since the 1940s, they've actually done it.

In reality, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, or 13 is really irrelevant.  Most small-units will operate with less than what they are organized for due to casualties in wartime or manning issues in peacetime.  The real key is to properly train NCOs to be adaptable with small-units so they can best employ whatever number they may have.
 

daftandbarmy

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Infanteer said:
Discussing changes to the Rifle Squad is an SOP for the Marines, and most other organizations.  I think every edition of the Marine Corps Gazette has an article on changing the composition of the squad.  What is unusual is that, for the first time since the 1940s, they've actually done it.

In reality, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, or 13 is really irrelevant.  Most small-units will operate with less than what they are organized for due to casualties in wartime or manning issues in peacetime.  The real key is to properly train NCOs to be adaptable with small-units so they can best employ whatever number they may have.

I think this article has been shared around before. It's one of my all time 'Infantry Geek Out' favourites :)

Evolution of the Squad:

"In the area of sustainment, the OCRSP found the eleven men squad to be
clearly better than the smaller squads tested. In all of the missions, from attacking
and defending to performing independent missions such as patrolling and flank
security, the eleven-men squad was more likely to succeed after sustaining
casualties than the smaller squads. The study also noted that the fire teams ceased
to exist when the squad was down to seven or eight men. Since the 1946 Infantry
Conference Report had earlier noted that squads in combat routinely operated at
25 percent below strength, the squad needed to be large enough to withstand the
effects of attrition."
 

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Kirkhill

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daftandbarmy said:
I don't know if it's just me, but I've never seen anything organized around a 3 man team, except perhaps a support weapon like a MMG, or a vehicle with a crew of three, work effectively.

Pairs or fours is the usual grouping that seems most effective. There must be some research about this out there in the Anthropology sphere but, with a 3 man team, someone always gets lost - or accidentally shot - or something like that.

My experience with scuba diving is the same. Pairs or fours, never threes.

Perhaps the difference is between a construct based on "Mates" (me and my oppo) and a construct based on a Team with a Team leader in charge.  Your comment about the Support Weapon Team is probably appropriate.    The Team Leader will be directing the fire of a pair of Automatic Riflemen, or an MAAWS team, or a DMR team, or some similarly configured entity.  The question is should the "leader" stand alone (US style - 3, 9 or 13 man groupings) or should he have an "oppo" (British style - 2, 4 or 8 man groupings (16 if SAS as I understand)).
 

Jarnhamar

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Because of manning issues I've been on ex's with 11 or 12 man platoons.
 

CBH99

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I'd be tempted to refer to that more as an 'enhanced section' than a 'diminished platoon' at 11 peeps?
 

tomahawk6

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After ww2 the  Army infantry squad went from 12 to 9 soldiers.Two fire teams of 4 with a squad leader as the 9th man,A medic from Headquarters company will be attached to the infantry platoon.I like a 10 man squad for the light infantry.
 

a_majoor

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Jarnhamar said:
DBIEDs eh

Interesting changes for the marines. Good article thanks.

We could use Javalins and more TOW, plus a vehicle to use the TOW from.

The Mrazr is a pretty small platform to be lugging those systems around on IMO. There's actually an anti-drone device you can get for the mrazr.

M27s would be nice. We could throw the C9s in the pond.

Javelins for sure, but with sufficient Javelins would we really need the TOW? There are more modern ATGMs wth greater (or even much greater range for the battalion firepower.

Agree the Mrazr is far too small, but this starts to devolve into the argument of how "big" a section/squad vehicle should be. As a handwave I'd think you would need something with the size/carry capability of a Toyota Hilux for you and all your "stuff".

While M-27's are nice, I do not agree that M-27's are replacements for a C-9. The firepower of an actual belt fed LMG far outweighs anything a rifle (even an automatic rifle) can provide. There are more modern LMG's out there which could replace the C-9, if desired.
 

daftandbarmy

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Thucydides said:
Javelins for sure, but with sufficient Javelins would we really need the TOW? There are more modern ATGMs wth greater (or even much greater range for the battalion firepower.

Agree the Mrazr is far too small, but this starts to devolve into the argument of how "big" a section/squad vehicle should be. As a handwave I'd think you would need something with the size/carry capability of a Toyota Hilux for you and all your "stuff".

While M-27's are nice, I do not agree that M-27's are replacements for a C-9. The firepower of an actual belt fed LMG far outweighs anything a rifle (even an automatic rifle) can provide. There are more modern LMG's out there which could replace the C-9, if desired.

Pish posh...

Who needs proper anti-tank weapons when you have ingenuity, cold steel and stout hearts? :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvrRkza7C_w
 

Jarnhamar

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Thucydides said:
Javelins for sure, but with sufficient Javelins would we really need the TOW? There are more modern ATGMs wth greater (or even much greater range for the battalion firepower.
Couple issues with the Javelin IIRC. I'll see if I can dig up a something about the two systems (as well as the spike) that was shared with me. Not sure if it's open source or not so I'll Pm it if I can get my hands on it.

Never the less Javelins would be an awesome edition. Regular army doesn't have anything between 84mm and TOW2.  We were making hits with the 84mm out to 1000m+ but with the TOW you want to hit stuff 3000-4500 so there's a gap between 1 and 3kms.



Agree the Mrazr is far too small, but this starts to devolve into the argument of how "big" a section/squad vehicle should be. As a handwave I'd think you would need something with the size/carry capability of a Toyota Hilux for you and all your "stuff".
337bff5a081462d7c9bafa37560b8267.jpg




While M-27's are nice, I do not agree that M-27's are replacements for a C-9. The firepower of an actual belt fed LMG far outweighs anything a rifle (even an automatic rifle) can provide. There are more modern LMG's out there which could replace the C-9, if desired.
I'm inclined to side with the USMC more on this and the accurate firepower of the M27 is better than what suppression the C9 provides. I thought I read they found their squads made more use of accurate fire over suppression too?
I just find the C9 is just a heavy old piece of poo that's always breaking and always jams. But if we're sticking with suppression yea there's more out there for sure. We could swap C9s out with the 7.62x51 MK48s. The one I carried felt more maneuverable than the C9 and felt around the same weight. Added benefit of gunners carrying the same ammo the C6 uses and a section has a gun that can penetrate 10-11mm's of steel armor.


 

a_majoor

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Jarnhamar said:
I'm inclined to side with the USMC more on this and the accurate firepower of the M27 is better than what suppression the C9 provides. I thought I read they found their squads made more use of accurate fire over suppression too?

I just find the C9 is just a heavy old piece of poo that's always breaking and always jams. But if we're sticking with suppression yea there's more out there for sure. We could swap C9s out with the 7.62x51 MK48s. The one I carried felt more maneuverable than the C9 and felt around the same weight. Added benefit of gunners carrying the same ammo the C6 uses and a section has a gun that can penetrate 10-11mm's of steel armor.

While I agree with the idea of accuracy over volume in theory, the battlefield is such a chaotic environment that you simply don't know what you will be faced with. Having a multiplicity of tools is probably the best way to go-a better set of tools is preferable as tools improve. (As an aside, if we are going to talk about changing calibers, I'd think about going for something like an LSAT round in 7mm, fired from rifles, lightweight MG's and a more robust GPMG. Think of the MG42 gun team with its tripod and extra barrels in the platoon role, and a MG42 with a bipod and one spare barrel in the section role).
 

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tomahawk6

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The Marines are not intended to face off against a peer enemy.If they are to face against one we might as well send in the Army.
 

a_majoor

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Modern Marines may not have faced need peer enemies since WWII, but they did fight peer enemies in the past, and looking at what they come ashore with, I think they won't have too many issues with peer enemies at least for the first little while.
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
Couple issues with the Javelin IIRC. I'll see if I can dig up a something about the two systems (as well as the spike) that was shared with me. Not sure if it's open source or not so I'll Pm it if I can get my hands on it.

Never the less Javelins would be an awesome edition. Regular army doesn't have anything between 84mm and TOW2.  We were making hits with the 84mm out to 1000m+ but with the TOW you want to hit stuff 3000-4500 so there's a gap between 1 and 3kms.

Milan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MILAN
 
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