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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

daftandbarmy

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The key issue, and I think one where the answer varies depending on who one asks, is the question of span of control. How many entities can you mange before it's necessary to hand off part of the leadership task to someone else?

My understanding has always been that the optimum for us humans is five (maybe that's because of the number of digits on one hand 🤷‍♂️). Once you try to control more than five entities, especially in complex and fluid situations, you lose effectiveness.

Generally speaking that's roughly what we do in most of our organizations when you look at sections in a platoon, platoons in a company, companies in a battalion and battalions in a brigade and so on.

While there is some benefit to be garnered from technology I'm not sure one can increase the entities managed by one person or headquarters much beyond that.

Incidentally D&B, I'm with you on the "equip the man v man equipment" issue. For all intents and purposes we've switched to an army that mans equipment for quite some time now. That's one of the main reasons I get so wrapped around the axle about the fact that well over half of our army (the reserve part and quite a bit of the regular part) are not being given any equipment to man. We keep pretending that this doesn't matter in order for the Army to be effective. It does and it will matter.

🍻

This is an interesting read:


THE EVOLUTION OF THE U.S. ARMY INFANTRY SQUAD: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? DETERMINING THE OPTIMUM INFANTRY SQUAD ORGANIZATION FOR THE FUTURE

 

Kirkhill

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The key issue, and I think one where the answer varies depending on who one asks, is the question of span of control. How many entities can you mange before it's necessary to hand off part of the leadership task to someone else?

My understanding has always been that the optimum for us humans is five (maybe that's because of the number of digits on one hand 🤷‍♂️). Once you try to control more than five entities, especially in complex and fluid situations, you lose effectiveness.

Generally speaking that's roughly what we do in most of our organizations when you look at sections in a platoon, platoons in a company, companies in a battalion and battalions in a brigade and so on.

While there is some benefit to be garnered from technology I'm not sure one can increase the entities managed by one person or headquarters much beyond that.

Incidentally D&B, I'm with you on the "equip the man v man equipment" issue. For all intents and purposes we've switched to an army that mans equipment for quite some time now. That's one of the main reasons I get so wrapped around the axle about the fact that well over half of our army (the reserve part and quite a bit of the regular part) are not being given any equipment to man. We keep pretending that this doesn't matter in order for the Army to be effective. It does and it will matter.

🍻

I agree "span of control" is a critical matter but there is also the matter of degree of dispersal and the ability to communicate.

And I share the belief on the "equip the man vs man the equipment" argument. That is why my pet peeve is over, what I see, as inefficient manning of equipment by tasking supernumeraries. And my personal hobby horse is the Three Man Crew for the Infantry LAV and the related notion of filling the seats in back.

I don't see why we need three to crew the LAV, and armed infantry transporter, when the Strykers manage with two in the same role. And don't tell me it is a design issue because I have to believe that it wouldn't take much to convert the existing turrets to something that more approximates an RWS that the Crew Commander inhabits.

That leaves 8 seats for PAX. That means that UP TO 8 PAX can be carried. I suggest that, depending on task the LAV transporter may only be carrying a team of 2, 3, 4, or 6. Or it might be carrying 8. Or it might leave some spare seats to carry crews from wrecked vehicles.

As D&B says, once you start talking about vehicles then all bets are off.

And yes, the Reserves should have equipment - not because they will be employing the equipment they train on but because they need to be able to fall in on the equipment they will be assigned in the field.
 

IRepoCans

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I don't see why we need three to crew the LAV, and armed infantry transporter, when the Strykers manage with two in the same role. And don't tell me it is a design issue because I have to believe that it wouldn't take much to convert the existing turrets to something that more approximates an RWS that the Crew Commander inhabits.
Last time I worked with 1RCR, the boats were all crewed by 2 pers (3IC was the crew comd / gunner) and the remainder were dismounted. I think this variation of the sect org is actually in the new(er) pam as well, a lot of this boils down to unit SOPs though. Same way how the Patricias have their weird take on the arrowhead and the Royals don't. Though I imagine it's not something exclusive to 1RCR.

So, your pet peeve might not actually exist at all as far as the mechanized battalions are concerned.

This is an interesting read:


THE EVOLUTION OF THE U.S. ARMY INFANTRY SQUAD: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? DETERMINING THE OPTIMUM INFANTRY SQUAD ORGANIZATION FOR THE FUTURE

I think there was a more contemporary take on this from the British perspective from the experiences of Afghanistan (and NI I imagine) with respect to the organization of the light infantry section.
 

FJAG

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I agree "span of control" is a critical matter but there is also the matter of degree of dispersal and the ability to communicate.

And I share the belief on the "equip the man vs man the equipment" argument. That is why my pet peeve is over, what I see, as inefficient manning of equipment by tasking supernumeraries. And my personal hobby horse is the Three Man Crew for the Infantry LAV and the related notion of filling the seats in back.

I don't see why we need three to crew the LAV, and armed infantry transporter, when the Strykers manage with two in the same role. And don't tell me it is a design issue because I have to believe that it wouldn't take much to convert the existing turrets to something that more approximates an RWS that the Crew Commander inhabits.

That leaves 8 seats for PAX. That means that UP TO 8 PAX can be carried. I suggest that, depending on task the LAV transporter may only be carrying a team of 2, 3, 4, or 6. Or it might be carrying 8. Or it might leave some spare seats to carry crews from wrecked vehicles.

As D&B says, once you start talking about vehicles then all bets are off.

And yes, the Reserves should have equipment - not because they will be employing the equipment they train on but because they need to be able to fall in on the equipment they will be assigned in the field.
Three man crews are generally based on the concept that you need one person to physically manoeuvre the vehicle, a second to actively engage targets and a third who is free from both maneuvering and engagement tasks so that he can actively seek fresh targets, determine effects on targets, observe for threats, communicate with leadership or other vehicles and give directions to the other two crew members.

Reducing a crew to two compromises the ability of doing one or more of the above tasks.

🍻
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Visiting Kabul from Kandahar in 2006 I was asked by a US contractor (Ret'd US Army Col - are there any other types?) about the ideal squad size for the ANA. He had been going through various Soviet manuals (BMP, BTR etc) and was looking for a field perspective. I replied: "As many ANA dudes as can fit in a 4Runner."

Might as well argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
 

MilEME09

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Reducing a crew to two compromises the ability of doing one or more of the above tasks.

🍻
Not necessarily, Raytheon is making great strides In AI assisted targeting and engagement. They have a prototype AUGV with a 20mm, and built in friend and foe recognition. Video I watched it engaged enemy targets instantly, avoided engaging friendly targets. Put that on an armiured vehicle, now you don't need a gunner or a commander.
 

FJAG

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Not necessarily, Raytheon is making great strides In AI assisted targeting and engagement. They have a prototype AUGV with a 20mm, and built in friend and foe recognition. Video I watched it engaged enemy targets instantly, avoided engaging friendly targets. Put that on an armiured vehicle, now you don't need a gunner or a commander.
I'll wait until I see it operate successfully 100% of the time. Until then I favour three.

I'll go down to two once a commander can confirm the target and release the AI to complete the engagement.

Once the system of secure data links becomes stable I'll let the commander and driver work from a remote station.

Once the AI becomes so stable that we can take all the wetware out of the loop we should all be forced to watch "Wargames" and "The Terminator" series of movies over and over again.

:cautious:
 

blacktriangle

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The same sensors and data that enable Active Protection Systems can also enable slew-to-cue weapons capabilities. Assuming the threat level warranted it, this could enable a secondary RWS (or perhaps a dedicated counter-ambush munition of some sort) to return fire automatically while the crew fight the primary weapon system against another target. Data sharing might also enable a smart system to determine that another vehicle in the vicinity (Perhaps a "Loyal C/S"?) was better situated or equipped to handle the threat etc. Lots of interesting possibilities to be worked out.

But I don't think we are there quite yet. Add a real capability and get it ironed out long before you start looking at cutting crew...
 

daftandbarmy

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I agree "span of control" is a critical matter but there is also the matter of degree of dispersal and the ability to communicate.

And I share the belief on the "equip the man vs man the equipment" argument. That is why my pet peeve is over, what I see, as inefficient manning of equipment by tasking supernumeraries. And my personal hobby horse is the Three Man Crew for the Infantry LAV and the related notion of filling the seats in back.

I don't see why we need three to crew the LAV, and armed infantry transporter, when the Strykers manage with two in the same role. And don't tell me it is a design issue because I have to believe that it wouldn't take much to convert the existing turrets to something that more approximates an RWS that the Crew Commander inhabits.

That leaves 8 seats for PAX. That means that UP TO 8 PAX can be carried. I suggest that, depending on task the LAV transporter may only be carrying a team of 2, 3, 4, or 6. Or it might be carrying 8. Or it might leave some spare seats to carry crews from wrecked vehicles.

As D&B says, once you start talking about vehicles then all bets are off.

And yes, the Reserves should have equipment - not because they will be employing the equipment they train on but because they need to be able to fall in on the equipment they will be assigned in the field.

The one reality of the Infantry experience of battle that is most conveniently forgotten is casualty rates. The huge, astonishing casualty rates.

With 100% casualties per fortnight in the Infantry section, a reality in high/ moderate intensity warfare, you're going to need alot of them. And a small section becomes pretty useless, pretty fast.

12 per section, at least, is probably a good idea if you want a section/ platoon that can last a week or two, but would require a whole of Army effort to maintain consistently.

Which is probably why our section commanders are vastly over ranked right now. In a high intensity conflict a Sergeant, to the level we train them now, should be a Pl 2IC. MCpl - Section Commander. Cpl - Section 2IC.

If you want a good role for the reserves, the whole of the CAF reserves that is, it would be to provide lots of well trained teenaged riflemen to fill the gaps in the Infantry sections.
 

medic5

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I'll wait until I see it operate successfully 100% of the time. Until then I favour three.

I'll go down to two once a commander can confirm the target and release the AI to complete the engagement.

Once the system of secure data links becomes stable I'll let the commander and driver work from a remote station.

Once the AI becomes so stable that we can take all the wetware out of the loop we should all be forced to watch "Wargames" and "The Terminator" series of movies over and over again.

:cautious:
I agree with FJAG here. Let's not get rid of any vehicle crewmen before we are 100% sure that the tech actually functions. We all know what happened in 1940 when two man turreted tanks came up against those with three man turrets.
If you want a good role for the reserves, the whole of the CAF reserves that is, it would be to provide lots of well trained teenaged riflemen to fill the gaps in the Infantry sections.
If we can't get the reserves any equipment, this seems to be their role. In 1944, the US Army had to throw cooks and tank drivers and practically anyone into infantry roles. They had massively underpredicted the number of casualties that infantrymen were going to take, and had to fill the gaps with untrained personnel which went as well as you could expect.
 

Ostrozac

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If we can't get the reserves any equipment, this seems to be their role. In 1944, the US Army had to throw cooks and tank drivers and practically anyone into infantry roles. They had massively underpredicted the number of casualties that infantrymen were going to take, and had to fill the gaps with untrained personnel which went as well as you could expect.
The same thing happened in the British Army and Canadian Army during the same period. The British were forced to transfer personnel from the RAF to the infantry. Canada resorted to using politically controversial conscripts. A fighting army needs to be able to replace casualties and surge replacements to where they are needed.

Of course, the ability to provide battlefield casualty replacements flies in the face of any number of peacetime sacred cows/rice bowls. The regimental system, gate keeping of specialist qualifications and carefully curated boutique career paths all work against what we probably need — lots of tough, smart, flexible soldiers that can be surged to where they are needed.

“I need 50 battlefield casualty replacements.“
“Done.”
“Nope. None of these guys are airbrake qualified. Because they might be for 3R22eR they all need to speak French and a third of them need Basic Para. And your RCEME and Log types no longer seem to have any field skills. Send them all on 8 months predeployment training and then get back to me.”
 

medic5

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It seems we in the west always underestimate casualties in war. Didn't the Canadian Corps conscript because we ended up taking more casualties than got new enlistments?

I think we are going to turn this into another restructuring the reserve thread, but the truth is our best option for replacing battlefield losses is with trained reservists, but we need to train them to actually be able to deploy without a year of pre deployment training. Regarding specialist qualifications, I feel in war they will quickly be thrown to the side. What exactly could we do with three companies of paratroopers anyway? I'm willing to bet it'll become the same as German Fallschirmjäger units, paratroopers only in name since the majority of the units' manpower are replacements.

Forgive me for all the Second World War references, but I feel it's fitting as the last total war Canada fought in. (Plus I just read a book about the timeframe, so obviously ideas are still fresh.)
 

CBH99

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I'm enjoying your WW2 references so far, actually. Relevant to the thread & interesting. History is a fantastic teacher, and while technology has changed drastically, the same concepts still apply today albeit in different forms. Good food for thought.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Forgive me for all the Second World War references, but I feel it's fitting as the last total war Canada fought in. (Plus I just read a book about the timeframe, so obviously ideas are still fresh.)

Sounds like you have just been reading James Holland's "Normandy '44 - D-day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France". If so, excellent read, very educational and very relevant to this discussion.
 

GR66

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With regard to the 2 vs. 3 crew members fighting the LAV question, does this not in some ways speak to the confusion over our doctrine?

The point has been made by many people here that the LAV isn't an IFV and we shouldn't treat it as such. It's an armoured battle taxi with infantry support weapons mounted. If we focus on using it as protected mobility to deliver dismounted infantry to the battlefield then do we need the 3rd crewman to make it more efficient for the mounted battle? If our doctrinal focus is on the use of dismounted infantry in complex terrain then isn't the extra dismount more valuable to our primary focus?

Focusing on the dismounted infantry squad should also make training and reinforcement easier too. The differences between your mechanized infantry and light infantry skills required disappear once the LAV is treated as a method of transportation rather then an integral element of the infantry unit in combat. It also makes the training of the Reserves simpler if they can focus on generating dismounted infantry squads/platoons to fill the vehicles. It also means that in a truly major war that when you start running out of LAVs to replace battle losses you can substitute any vehicle that can carry 8 troops without having to change your basic doctrine.

This doesn't have to be something set in cement of course. Even in a period of great power competition, just like during the Cold War the most common conflicts we are likely to be involved in are smaller proxy wars and counter insurgencies, etc. The LAV is well suited for these less than full-scale war conflicts and in these cases having the 3rd person directing fire for the LAV would make perfect sense. The upside of this is that these types of conflicts are unlikely to produce the high number of casualties that would require full mobilization of the Reserves to replace crews but instead they could focus on augmenting the dismounted squads.
 

Kirkhill

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Last time I worked with 1RCR, the boats were all crewed by 2 pers (3IC was the crew comd / gunner) and the remainder were dismounted. I think this variation of the sect org is actually in the new(er) pam as well, a lot of this boils down to unit SOPs though. Same way how the Patricias have their weird take on the arrowhead and the Royals don't. Though I imagine it's not something exclusive to 1RCR.

So, your pet peeve might not actually exist at all as far as the mechanized battalions are concerned.

Thanks - Problem solved

Three man crews are generally based on the concept that you need one person to physically manoeuvre the vehicle, a second to actively engage targets and a third who is free from both maneuvering and engagement tasks so that he can actively seek fresh targets, determine effects on targets, observe for threats, communicate with leadership or other vehicles and give directions to the other two crew members.

Reducing a crew to two compromises the ability of doing one or more of the above tasks.

But surely the underlying supposition is that the LAV is a Fighting Vehicle? My contention is that it is sufficiently poor at that task that it is bordering on reckless to use it in that manner. It is particularly reckless when a section of under-utilized infanteers are being hauled around in the back listening to their I-pods and waiting for an opportunity to do something.

At very least the infantry should de-bus before the crew heads off to play with the enemy's tanks and ATGMs. If they believe that an extra pair of eyes will improve their chances in that game then good luck to them.

The Stryker uses the same vehicle as an armoured truck. One that stays one tactical bound behind the troops it transports and from that position, the same position a dismounted machine gun would adopt, the vehicle commander employs his own machine gun in support of the troops he transported, while he waits to recover the debussed troops. He isn't manoeuvring against the enemy. And he shouldn't be. He transports troops to and from the fight.

Mechanically the LAV 6.0 is a Stryker with a bigger machine gun mounted. The turret, in my opinion, doesn't improve the odds of the LAV surviving when operating against tanks. If I were riding in the back and saw enemy tanks my first words would be "Let me out!"

The LAV is an excellent troop transporter. The turret, while it improves the level of support it can offer, does not turn it into a Fighting Vehicle.



WRT "Span of Control"


Football vs Rugby

One brain on the sidelines (or as I like to think of it, the Chateau) constraining and controlling the actions of 40 or 50 others on the field who are opposed by 40 to 50 equally constrained and controlled brains under the direction of another Chateau brain.

Or

15 autonomous brains imprinted with the same instructions prior to the game facing 15 similarly instructed autonomous brains. You could say the same for soccer - the world's most popular game. Even the Chinese and Al Qaeda's people play it.


D&B's maroon beret - famously worn by men who had Field Marshal's batons in their packs, according to Montgomery. In the 1940s, certainly in 1946, their training emphasized that everybody had to know the objective, the intent and how to read a map. It was anticipated that the battalion would be scattered all over creation and the role of the individual trooper was to form on the objective and, if he were the only trooper to arrive, continue the mission independently and pursue the mission's intent by any means that occurred to him.


It has been a long time since the Crimea - a war of close ordered files and bright uniforms that generals could see and direct. The evolution from then has been towards loose files scattered across the field operating with forced autonomy because the general can't see them and can't communicate with them and can't orchestrate their actions in real time. And more binoculars and radios don't really improve the situation because now the Chateau general's brain is overwhelmed by chattering voices seeing different things and reporting their different circumstances.

Ultimately his best play was before the battle - to train the troops to operate autonomously.

The balance, of course, is to make sure that the autonomous entity on the field is trained and equipped to operate effectively and that requires some mass. And that mass is what we are discussing here.

For distributed operations I prefer the independent 50 man company divisible into two 24 man platoons, each capable of independent action. The longer those platoons live and work together as single entities then the more effective they become. Constant movement into and out of the platoon merely prevents them becoming effective.

And I don't think the next war between the US and its near-peer will be anything other than a distributed war. The theater will be the whole planet and you will be hard pressed to find a schwerpunkt on which to concentrate your effort.

Edit - I see GR66 beat me to the punch. (y)
 

markppcli

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For me though, the underlying question, whether it is about filling LAV seats, big sections, big platoons, big companies or big battalions, is whether it is more important to have a small number of large bodies or a large number of small bodies.

Personally I fall on the side of preferring a large number of small bodies, and I like the historical precedents.

The large number of small bodies supplies the bases for a the specialist capabilities you seek and also supply the basis of swarming tactics - a resilient horde that increases the number of targets the enemy sees, decreases their ability to counter the entire swarm and increases the number of nodes available to the friendly commander to observe and affect the battle.

And if the number of people in a body can be reduced by augmenting the body with motors and wires, I'm all for it.

As has been discussed before - 4 tanks with 16 crew on board. When adding UGV Tanks do you add 4 to 12 unmanned vehicles and concentrate the 16 crew in 4 hulls? Or do you distribute the 16 crew among 16 hulls? Or 4 crew among 4 hulls?

I favour the one person per hull solution supported by internal AI and an external net.

Further to D&B's comment - which I support generally - my, again, personal belief, is that the Canadian Army regularly seems to stuff-up by opting for the big command (largest number of bodies on parade) rather than the most capable command (largest number of guns on parade).
I hate to emerge from several years of lurking to be a pedant; however the definition of IFV vs APC is actually completely dependent on armament.
"The term “armoured infantry fighting vehicle” means an armoured combat vehicle which is designed and equipped primarily to transport a combat infantry squad, which normally provides the capability for the troops to deliver fire from inside the vehicle under armoured protection, and which is armed with an integral or organic cannon of at least 20 millimetres calibre and sometimes an antitank missile launcher." (the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/4/9/14087.pdf)

To your other point, the 3 vs 2 man turret is about intended use; a weapon like the 25mm is designed to be used offensively and target acquisition and fire control becomes more important. See crewing the Bradely or Warrior. I actually do believe the LAV is an effective IFV, it's protection is actually class leading, minus the Puma, the mobility is a trade off for the versatility we need. I think the problems of running them up to the assault is a training scar where the objective of a live attack is to do it as loud and as fast as humanly possible in order to make a great show for the assessing officers. It was very refreshing to have been in a company that was very willing to dismount it's guys and have them infill with the LAVs providing feints and fire bases, probably something we should emphasize in our training programs as opposed to simply smashing head long into prepared positions in the name of almighty validation.

oh ps I would personally like to avoid too much American inspired organization in our mechanized formations, I'd perfer not to split sections across multiple vehicles and then try to sort that out on the objective
 

Kirkhill

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I hate to emerge from several years of lurking to be a pedant; (y) :)

I too think that the Yankee notion of debussing and organizing on the objective is wrong. The contents of the vehicle should be one singular set of debussing troopers, separate from the crew of course.

My problem has been, since the days of the AVGP Grizzly, the lack of adequate armour to protect the troops in battle when their ride is occasionally used against tanks and ATGMs. While I accept that the LAV is as well protected as any vehicle in its class my problem is with the class as a whole.

In the US the Bradley (which is probably the best protected of the IFVs - excepting the Narmer) is still not tank-proof nor is it ATGM-proof. In consequence, when used in Cavalry role only two dismounts are carried. Only two unoccupied lives at risk.

Why would you keep 7 or 8 troops buttoned up and at risk while the crew of the "armoured combat vehicle which is designed and equipped primarily to transport a combat infantry squad, ... deliver(s) fire from inside the vehicle under armoured protection" Those bodies in the back are not contributing to the battle because they cannot "deliver fire from inside the vehicle".

It was very refreshing to have been in a company that was very willing to dismount it's guys and have them infill with the LAVs providing feints and fire bases, probably something we should emphasize in our training programs as opposed to simply smashing head long into prepared positions in the name of almighty validation.

That seems a whole lot more sensible.

It also goes along with the notion that the number of bodies in the back should be determined by the task at hand and thus separate from the establishment of the vehicle.

Sometimes it might be appropriate to take an establishment of 4 vehicles with a driver and gunner each and just add 4 commanders (3 pers / vehicle). Perhaps it is the 2 man crew plus a 2 or 3 man weapons det, or a 4 man team, or a 6 man section, or a section and a command element..

Sometimes you want a 100 km battalion road move. Fill the seats. Sometimes you want a flanking force. Minimal crew.

It is why continue support the idea of a separate LAV company in the battalion on the MaxFlex principle.
 
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Kirkhill

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I believe it was Scharnhorst that said “the infantryman should carry an axe in case he has to break down a door.”

I have gained the impression that to many that focus on the mounted battle the infantry in the back are akin to Scharnhorst's axes. Something that should be in every tool kit even if it is seldom used.

For me that is a waste of available capability, even if they survive the battle buttoned up, and a greater waste if they are killed without having fired a shot.
 

markppcli

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So I would argue for their organic inclusion for a few reasons:
Firstly I don't think you gain anything from creating a "carrier squadron" beyond confused chains of command and confusion. I base this off my time in New Zealand and watching two Lts (the LAV Tp Ld and the Infantry Pl Cmd) argue over who was in charge of the mission, the dismount, and the vehicles. Leaving them internal mitigates this. Of course this is just an example, there were other examples of just not understanding each others jobs and the inefficiencies of that, the advantage being they were much better crewmen than I'll ever be but I digress.​
Secondly is the mobility; even if we were to dismount further out the ability to gather mass and then disperse to platoon hides after if greater if you have mobility beyond your feet.​
Third organic at the platoon and section level allows us to have crew redundancy without having to hold them in a CQ or where ever else. We all have an extra driver and gunner and can keep the biggest gun in the fight.​
The Bradely Cav variant is actually gone, has been for a while now. The new orbat has 4-5 dismounts per Bradley in the Armoured Bde Cav Sqn. And while yes, all vehicles are of course vulnerable to ATGMs and tanks, they are protection against all manner of small arms and indirect fires when you do need to assault that dug in position. I'll take the risk of an ATGM strike over the option of foot slogging to the objective under mortar and MG fire. Similarly just because you're moving to an objective doesn't mean the LAV is expected to engage tanks, ideally your tanks and engaging their tanks.

PS Bradely's armour is much less than some newer vehicles., Puma jumps to mind.
 
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