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Ricks Napkin Challenge- The Infantry Section and Platoon

Infanteer

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I guess the question is what do we define as a "regular combat setting" these days.
I think just do to the same of Armies these days, the vast density and depth of WW2 is never going to happen -- too many mass effect weapons also make that sort of strategy self defeating.

You're conflating "regular combat setting" with "WW2." I'm simply alluding to a conventional war between two or more regular forces, for which examples abound today.

As well, you'd be surprised on the continuities we are seeing today in Ukraine. I'd have to dig in, but we're seeing frontages and densities that aren't much different from the war that was fought here in 1944. This isn't an aberration either. 1991 saw a contiguous front, and places like the DMZ in the Korean Peninsula offers another contemporary example.

Watching the videos of Russia pouring thermobarric and straight incendiary explosives into areas of Ukraine means that grouped forces will suffer significant casualties - even non OS footage doesn't show significant force densities on the attack or defense.

Google a clip from Monte Cassino. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Maybe I have been drinking too much SOF cool-aid over the years, but I think one will see more and more dispersed operations in both defense and offensive actions, both due to the hazard of close groupings of a number of forces, and due to the effectiveness of ranged weapons.
I'm not suggesting penny packing Tanks, or isolated Section/Squads expected to cover massive areas - but as VAS systems get better you can detect forces further away even by direct vision, and the ability of ISR systems to capture data in multi spectrum ways and allow it to be analyzed means that in certain theaters cam and concealment will be extremely tough, and stealth almost impossible against a well equipped enemy.

I think because of all that the expectation of a Section/Squad only to have a sub 1km engagement range is extremely limiting and short sighted.
Even if you are fighting a technologically inferior foe - why fight them in an even manner - why not destroy them long before they can destroy you?

*This is coming from someone who absolutely despised the "Networked Army" and all the Digital Warfare symposiums for years.
I've come to the sad acceptance that information management and data transfer are key components of modern warfare.

I've been reading this same prognostication for decades now (Crisis in Zefra anyone?). There will always be a balance between dispersion and concentration that modern system force employment demands due to the lethality of modern munitions, but nothing indicates that a paradigm shift has occurred in the way ground forces are employed.
 

GR66

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I guess the question is what do we define as a "regular combat setting" these days.
I think just do to the same of Armies these days, the vast density and depth of WW2 is never going to happen -- too many mass effect weapons also make that sort of strategy self defeating.

Watching the videos of Russia pouring thermobarric and straight incendiary explosives into areas of Ukraine means that grouped forces will suffer significant casualties - even non OS footage doesn't show significant force densities on the attack or defense.

Maybe I have been drinking too much SOF cool-aid over the years, but I think one will see more and more dispersed operations in both defense and offensive actions, both due to the hazard of close groupings of a number of forces, and due to the effectiveness of ranged weapons.
I'm not suggesting penny packing Tanks, or isolated Section/Squads expected to cover massive areas - but as VAS systems get better you can detect forces further away even by direct vision, and the ability of ISR systems to capture data in multi spectrum ways and allow it to be analyzed means that in certain theaters cam and concealment will be extremely tough, and stealth almost impossible against a well equipped enemy.

I think because of all that the expectation of a Section/Squad only to have a sub 1km engagement range is extremely limiting and short sighted.
Even if you are fighting a technologically inferior foe - why fight them in an even manner - why not destroy them long before they can destroy you?

*This is coming from someone who absolutely despised the "Networked Army" and all the Digital Warfare symposiums for years.
I've come to the sad acceptance that information management and data transfer are key components of modern warfare.

I've been reading this same prognostication for decades now (Crisis in Zefra anyone?). There will always be a balance between dispersion and concentration that modern system force employment demands due to the lethality of modern munitions, but nothing indicates that a paradigm shift has occurred in the way ground forces are employed.
I think KevinB's points are true on the micro scale. There are more than enough video clips available from the Ukraine conflict to show the incredible precision with which damage can be caused at long range by modern high-tech weapons and the difficulty to remain hidden from modern ISR systems.

However, I'm reminded at the same time of how often it was pointed out in these forums when discussing our M777 howitzers that towed artillery simply isn't survivable on the modern battlefield. The fact that in Ukrainian hands they appear not only to be survivable, but also quite effective suggests that Infanteer may still be correct on the macro scale.

Perhaps the reason for this dichotomy is something akin to the quote in Infanteer's signature:

"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

The physical ability to gather immense amounts of highly detailed information about the enemy is there but we don't have the cognitive ability in our HQs to absorb, process and act on that information in a manner that goes beyond the tactical level. That's why you see individual examples of "The Kill Chain" in action which suggest that they way we fight wars really has changed, but at the same time you see the same towed artillery systems previously described as unsuited for peer conflict being touted as a game changing capability for the Ukrainian forces.

Maybe the advent of AI systems will change this, but I'm not sure that handing over the conduct of war to algorithms is a road we really want to go down.
 

FJAG

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However, I'm reminded at the same time of how often it was pointed out in these forums when discussing our M777 howitzers that towed artillery simply isn't survivable on the modern battlefield. The fact that in Ukrainian hands they appear not only to be survivable, but also quite effective suggests that Infanteer may still be correct on the macro scale.
Personally, I'm going to wait until all the stats are in. We'll see what the ratio of destroyed self propelled guns to towed ones and their detachments is. There are several factors here such as range and volumes of fire, but looking at it from a logical point of view, exposed troops working a towed howitzer are much more vulnerable to counter battery fire than ones protected in armoured ones.

🍻
 

GR66

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Personally, I'm going to wait until all the stats are in. We'll see what the ratio of destroyed self propelled guns to towed ones and their detachments is. There are several factors here such as range and volumes of fire, but looking at it from a logical point of view, exposed troops working a towed howitzer are much more vulnerable to counter battery fire than ones protected in armoured ones.

🍻
My point wasn't that SP guns aren't better than towed guns. To me the advantages of SP guns over towed are obvious. However, as Infanteer has pointed out there hasn't really been a true paradigm shift yet where all the advances made in ISR and precision on the micro scale are such that warfare has changed fundamentally yet on the macro scale.
 

KevinB

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Paradigm shift, no, but if Pte Bloggins in a trench with a Javelin can cover a 6km radius circle, in certain terrain, what are the impacts?

I’m just suggesting that the grey zone “no man’s land” is going to grow in some areas.
But the need to be able to quickly concentrate forces for the attack (and defense) will still be there.

IA/ML/MA is already occurring, and I don’t see it rolling back. It is required to process the information gathered from all the sensor nodes.

The range game also affects the support aspects - does your Arty out range the enemy? What is the air situation? Etc.
 

ArmyRick

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What are the odds of something like Switchblade 600 becoming an excellent counter arty weapon? Attacking enemy way in depth?
 

FJAG

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My point wasn't that SP guns aren't better than towed guns. To me the advantages of SP guns over towed are obvious. However, as Infanteer has pointed out there hasn't really been a true paradigm shift yet where all the advances made in ISR and precision on the micro scale are such that warfare has changed fundamentally yet on the macro scale.
Understood. I was in general agreement with the larger issue you and @Infanteer discussed. Being gunner-centric, I glommed onto the minor point.

😁

Paradigm shift, no, but if Pte Bloggins in a trench with a Javelin can cover a 6km radius circle, in certain terrain, what are the impacts?

I’m just suggesting that the grey zone “no man’s land” is going to grow in some areas.
But the need to be able to quickly concentrate forces for the attack (and defense) will still be there.

IA/ML/MA is already occurring, and I don’t see it rolling back. It is required to process the information gathered from all the sensor nodes.

The range game also affects the support aspects - does your Arty out range the enemy? What is the air situation? Etc.
That's still my thought. Fundamentally all the old systems are still in play. It's the scale of how each one affects the results that has changed. This is why I'm on the wait and see side as to which systems can be ash-canned. It's the way I thought in 2005 as we gave up the old Cold-War Army and divested many high-value, high-cost essential capabilities.

The problem is that many of the new solutions that we see are in the nature of high-cost sensors and munitions (and yes, I do recognize that there are some low-cost ones of value as well). Except for large spenders, it's going to be even harder to maintain a relevant force for those countries that don't want to spend it on keeping up war stocks.

🍻
 

KevinB

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What are the odds of something like Switchblade 600 becoming an excellent counter arty weapon? Attacking enemy way in depth?
Lack of range would be the biggest issue.
Longer range systems and CB systems will get controlled at higher - and I’m not sure something like SB600 is significantly effective in that scenario unless it’s a small team behind enemy lines for that specific mission.

I’m thinking that the UAS for ISR will feed data to be used for tube and rocket CB strikes - that has been done since GW1.

I’m not sure the UAS at section and Platoon level need to be weaponized, as I see them more as an ISR asset - Giving SA in the local area. The question to me that comes out of that is how does one collate that information to higher without becoming a massive data drain and information overload.
 

FJAG

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I’m not sure the UAS at section and Platoon level need to be weaponized, as I see them more as an ISR asset - Giving SA in the local area. The question to me that comes out of that is how does one collate that information to higher without becoming a massive data drain and information overload.
Not a new problem. It's one we've been wrestling with for decades .

I favour decentralization. I've always maintained that the only way to run a big city is by one neighbourhood at a time. I have the same view about armies. The more one tries to centralize a system, the clunkier and less responsive it becomes. A system that rather than aggregating everything but instead concentrates on neighbours sharing mutually vital info is preferable. Let the central system look at the big picture while the various levels of neighbourhoods deal with the local stuff.

🍻
 

GR66

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Paradigm shift, no, but if Pte Bloggins in a trench with a Javelin can cover a 6km radius circle, in certain terrain, what are the impacts?

I’m just suggesting that the grey zone “no man’s land” is going to grow in some areas.
But the need to be able to quickly concentrate forces for the attack (and defense) will still be there.

IA/ML/MA is already occurring, and I don’t see it rolling back. It is required to process the information gathered from all the sensor nodes.

The range game also affects the support aspects - does your Arty out range the enemy? What is the air situation? Etc.
Agreed. The ability of light Section, Platoon and Company sized units to interdict relatively large areas of open terrain with either their own precision weapons or weapons they are directing for echelons above may as you have suggested force armies to disperse when in exposed terrain. But they have to go somewhere which means they are likely to concentrate in areas where detection and engagement ranges are greatly reduced.

John Spencer of Westpoint's Modern Warfare Institute has been banging on this drum in his Urban Warfare Project podcast. He contends that the vulnerability of forces in the open to precision weapons will force armies into cities where the terrain makes them less effective.

Are we almost seeing the need to split into two different types of armies? Kirkhill's light, dispersed units along with UAVs finding and targeting those forces attempting to maneuver through the open terrain between objectives and a separate, heavily armoured, higher density force with massive firepower to concentrate and defeat the enemy in urban terrain?

Artillery/IDF of all types would remain a hugely important for both forces...hitting with precision enemy maneuver forces detected in the open by the light, dispersed army...providing suppression fire on terrain likely occupied by enemy light forces to cover your own maneuver units...traditional weight of HE to support your heavy forces engaged in the close fight in complex terrain...and of course counter-battery fire to prevent the enemy from doing exactly the same to you.
 

ArmyRick

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So let me through out some more thoughts and ideas on the LI side of the house
Weapons for Section? Any you think shouldn't be here?
-5.56mm Carbines or .300 BO carbines (300m ideal range)
-7.62mm DMR or 6.5 CR DMR (600-800m ideal range?)
-6.5 CR or 7.62mm LAMG weapon (600-800m ideal range?)
-AT4, M72 and NLAWS (300-600m?)
-40mm GL

Weapons for Platoon? Any you think shouldn't be here?
-7.62mm GPMG SF (1800m) or similar kit
-Javelin (2.2 KM)
-60mm Mortars possibly (800-3000m depending on role)
-84mm CG for bunker busting?

So SB300 possibly a platoon or section weapon? Light enough
SB600 possibly a company or battalion asset?

I think we have been pretty much in agreement of what LI and Mech infantry platoons will be tasked with and what context they will operate in.

Thoughts? Ideas?
 

markppcli

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A 60mm mortar, to me, was always a bit out of place in a platoon. It really should be held by the company, in a group, and be better able to support the OCs main effort.
 

daftandbarmy

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A 60mm mortar, to me, was always a bit out of place in a platoon. It really should be held by the company, in a group, and be better able to support the OCs main effort.

Again, the right answer is that it probably depends on the situation.

I spoke to people who did alot of jungle fighting in Borneo etc and they were adamant that their platoon's 2 inch mortar saved their butts, time and again, during close range firefights with the Indonesians who, apparently, were also masters at using the light mortar to devastating effect.
 

Blackadder1916

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I've been reading this same prognostication for decades now (Crisis in Zefra anyone?). There will always be a balance between dispersion and concentration that modern system force employment demands due to the lethality of modern munitions, but nothing indicates that a paradigm shift has occurred in the way ground forces are employed.

I had to look it up. After a quick scan, meh, he's no Macksey.


 

Good2Golf

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A 60mm mortar, to me, was always a bit out of place in a platoon. It really should be held by the company, in a group, and be better able to support the OCs main effort.
Unless it’s CS Pl, right? 😉
 

KevinB

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I like the ability to push additional C6, CG, 60mm, GMG and Javelin down to the sections as needed.

I think flexibility is needed in arming to account for the variety of situations one may see.

In areas that result in defensive positions - where one is generally not nearly as mobile, firepower advantages can significantly change force ratios.
Of course the additional equipment comes with a logistics burden as well, not just in terms of ammunition supply, but also accounting for the movement of those without unnecessarily burdening the section and platoon.
 

GR66

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I like the ability to push additional C6, CG, 60mm, GMG and Javelin down to the sections as needed.

I think flexibility is needed in arming to account for the variety of situations one may see.

In areas that result in defensive positions - where one is generally not nearly as mobile, firepower advantages can significantly change force ratios.
Of course the additional equipment comes with a logistics burden as well, not just in terms of ammunition supply, but also accounting for the movement of those without unnecessarily burdening the section and platoon.
Question. Do the extra CS weapons that are situation dependent have to be integral to the Platoon/Section and available when needed, or can they be attached/detached from above as required. I mean at a level beyond the normal Platoon/Company Weapon Detachments and Battalion CS Company?

Almost along the lines of the Machine Gun Battalions of WWII. A Brigade-level resource that could see additional CS Companies attached to Battle Groups as required by Brigade. As Company-level attachments they would presumably see a better coordination of effects than individual Section/Platoon support weapons operating the same systems in greater isolation.

This could be an ideal role for Reserve units as they would typically only be required during major combat operations. It would allow units to concentrate on specific skill sets.

I know it's a bit of a thread derail, but how the Sections and Platoons are organized depends greatly on what support they can expect from echelons above them.
 

IKnowNothing

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Question. Do the extra CS weapons that are situation dependent have to be integral to the Platoon/Section and available when needed, or can they be attached/detached from above as required. I mean at a level beyond the normal Platoon/Company Weapon Detachments and Battalion CS Company?

Almost along the lines of the Machine Gun Battalions of WWII. A Brigade-level resource that could see additional CS Companies attached to Battle Groups as required by Brigade. As Company-level attachments they would presumably see a better coordination of effects than individual Section/Platoon support weapons operating the same systems in greater isolation.

This could be an ideal role for Reserve units as they would typically only be required during major combat operations. It would allow units to concentrate on specific skill sets.

I know it's a bit of a thread derail, but how the Sections and Platoons are organized depends greatly on what support they can expect from echelons above them.
This came up in the Force 2025 thread. Well similar. In that case it was an Army level resource containing those company/battery size attachments. Not every battalion needs a cold war vintage AT coy. Every Bde getting a 155mm SPG battery, 120mm mortar, HIMARS, MRAD, UCAV.... seems like a pipe dream. But if better use of reserves/ consolidation frees up the PY's for at least 1 full sub unit of each, the Army as a whole could have all the capabilities it needs, to attach when needed.
 

daftandbarmy

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Question. Do the extra CS weapons that are situation dependent have to be integral to the Platoon/Section and available when needed, or can they be attached/detached from above as required. I mean at a level beyond the normal Platoon/Company Weapon Detachments and Battalion CS Company?

Almost along the lines of the Machine Gun Battalions of WWII. A Brigade-level resource that could see additional CS Companies attached to Battle Groups as required by Brigade. As Company-level attachments they would presumably see a better coordination of effects than individual Section/Platoon support weapons operating the same systems in greater isolation.

This could be an ideal role for Reserve units as they would typically only be required during major combat operations. It would allow units to concentrate on specific skill sets.

I know it's a bit of a thread derail, but how the Sections and Platoons are organized depends greatly on what support they can expect from echelons above them.

Well, one of the skills of an effective military is 'regrouping' as required to meet the task at hand.

Having said that, sections and platoons are limited in their ability to run off and grab a different weapon and ammo natures, if they need it, from the echelon.

I know I'm an old fart but as an OC I'd want three platoons, each with 'at least' a light mortar, a C6 (SF) and an 84mm in a Pl HQ weapons det. This would be in addition to the C9s and 40mm launchers in the sections.

In my back pocket at Coy HQ I'd want a FOO/MFC party and a battery in direct support, if allocated. If you handed me markspeeps with a .338, or whatever, that would be nice too.

If we were in the defence, I might brigade the mortars to cover assigned KZs, dismounting areas/ dodgy dead ground. The 84mm and C6 (SF) would probably stay in the platoons covering their assigned arcs/KZs.

This setup would probably ensure I'd be able to do most of the things I'd be called upon to accomplish by the CO, in a dismounted role anyways.

Whatever other frills you'd like to add onto that, fill your (BOOTFORGEN approved) combat boots!
 
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