British Army: 2300AD
The hovermobile Armoured Infantry battalion is the back bone of the British Army's heavy combat forces. In the Kafer War so far six armoured infantry battalions have seen action against the Aliens. The 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards and 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets were both on Beta Canum-4 when it was invaded, and took part in 79 Armoured Brigades epic delaying action across the New African Grasslands. Later the 3rd Battalion, Queen's Regiment, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, 1st and 3rd RGL Line Battalions would take part in the Liberation of Beta Canum-4. 1st RGL Line Battalion also saw action in the Dayside Campaign on Crater. Two Wellon Army units now present on Beta Canum, 2nd Battalion, Wellon Guards and 1st Battalion, Royal Southerns, also follow a similar organisation.
3 COLD GDS and 2 RGJ both took severe casualties during the invasion and subsequent occupation, ending the campaign at little more than 25% of its starting strength. However the battalions continued to function throughout the campaign and were always available for action despite of the severe attrition of the early battles. The battalions that took part in the later actions suffered much less whilst mopping up Kafer resistance. The experience of the war has led to only minor changes to the Battle Group system.
The Battalion is a peacetime organisation, during wartime or on any kind of operation the Battalion becomes a 'Battle Group'. This consists of the Battalion HQ and Support Companies plus a number of its rifle Companies. In addition to this depending on role, mission and resources extra combat forces or combat support forces will be attached. Whilst a number of rifle companies will be detached to other Battle Groups.
For example the 2nd Battalion, The Coldstream Guards is an Armoured Infantry Battalion in the 1st (Guards) Armoured Brigade, a part of 1st Armoured Division. In wartime this battalion would become 2nd Coldstream Guards Battle Group. If given an assault mission to break open an enemy defensive position the Battle Group might consist of a Squadron (sqn) of heavy tanks from 1 RTR, a sqn of Royal Engineers and two companies (coy) of its own armoured infantry. For a flanking manoeuvre into an enemies flank it might have a gunship group, a hover tank sqn from the 1st Life Guards in addition to its infantry, etc.
Companies and squadrons are also broken down into combined arms formations down to the platoon or troop level. This system has almost infinite variations that can be tailored to any situation. It should be noted that artillery support is rarely attached directly to a Battle Group but remains at Brigade or Divisional level 'on call' to the lower formations.
The Battalion is commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel, known as the Commanding Officer or CO, who will have had around 15 years of experience as an officer in the military. Only a few officers make it to this level of command and it is the pinnacle for most of them. The CO will have had experience within the battalion as well as at brigade, division and possibly MoD and will have attended Staff College. Often called upon to work far away from the chain of command the CO also has Political and Diplomatic training to deal with local politicians and armies.
The senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the Battalion is the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) a highly experienced soldier who is in charge of discipline and maintaining standards in the battalion. The RSM is usually both respected and feared by the soldiers and junior officers alike. Many RSM's go on to gain their commission.
The rifle companies are the main fighting element of the battalion. It is their job to close with the enemy and destroy him. Even in the age of ultra smart missiles the rifle armed infantryman is still required to take and hold ground.
A battalion normally has three rifle companies, lettered A, B and C. (However some battalions are different, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers battalions have X, Y and Z Coys. The Scots Guards Battalions have Left Flank, Centre and Right Flank Companies. Others have numbered companies and some have companies named after battles. As ever in the British Army, tradition still counts for a lot.) Each company is organised identically with a Company HQ and three platoons.
Typical Battalion organisation diagram:
Commanding the company is a Major, an officer of around 10 years experience, known as the Officer Commanding (e.g. OC A Company or just OC A). The British Army has much more experienced company commanders than other armies, who normally use Captains.
The OC commands from Company Headquarters. This normally consists of three vehicles, either Riflemen or Templers depending on what the battalion is equipped with. The OC with his signaller/ body guard travels in one vehicle, known as the Tactical HQ or 'Tac'. The 'Tac' will normally be right up with the leading troops. Further back will be a converted vehicle known as the Command Vehicle or CV. The CV is commanded by the Company Second in Command or 2 i/c, and contains a further two signallers. It is the job of the CV to maintain links up to the battle group and down to the fighting platoons. Also the CV does the basic administration leaving the OC free to 'fight' his company with the minimum of fuss.
The last vehicle is Commanded by the Company Sergeant Major who is in charge of casualty evacuation and resupply of ammunition, food and other necessities. The vehicle is fully armed in case the CSM has to fight his way forward. The Company HQ has 2 officers, the CSM, four signallers and six vehicle crew members. In combat the Company HQ might be joined by Forward Observers from the Royal Artillery or battalion mortar platoon (FOO and MFC respectively) to bring in fire support. In addition other fighting units at Troop or Platoon level might be attached, as well as fire support teams from Support Company.
Each company consist of three platoons numbered sequentially, i.e. A Coy, has 1,2 and 3 Platoons. B has 4, 5 and 6. C has 7, 8 and 9 etc. (although as ever in the British Army, there are exceptions to every rule.) The platoons are the basic fighting element of the battalion and is the smallest group of soldiers that will be deployed.
Each platoon has a Platoon HQ and three Sections mounted in four armoured vehicles. Although like at battle group or company level there might be attachments such as MFC or Anti-Tank teams.
Platoon HQ consists of the Platoon Commander (a Lieutenant (pronounced Lef-tenant)) the Platoon Sergeant, a signaller and a two man weapon team. The Platoon Commander (or PC) is in charge of the tactical operation of the platoon and will always be in close proximity to them either mounted or dismounted. The signaller is always very close to the PC. The Platoon Sergeant is in charge of casualty evacuation and resupply and other administrative tasks in addition in combat he will normally co-ordinate fire support. To this end the weapon team stays close to the Platoon Sergeant and can be equipped with a range of weapons depending on the CO's preference, machine guns or heavy plasma weapons are favourites.
The three Sections (called squads in US trained Armies) each consist of eight men broken down into two fire teams. Each platoon has its Sections numbered 1 to 3 (there is little variation), and each section has its two fireteams known as Charlie and Delta. This gives the radio call sign for each sub unit on the company net (e.g. 11C is Charlie Fireteam, 1 Section, 1 Platoon. 23D, Delta Fireteam, 3 Sect, 2 Plt), the Bravo call sign refers to the Section vehicle. The platoon radio net is a 'chatter net' and rarely uses call signs.
The Section and Charlie Fireteam are both commanded by the Section Commander, who is normally a Corporal of around five years service. British section commanders are highly aggressive and very professional and are often the difference between the British Army and its enemies. Delta is commanded by the section 2 i/c who is normally a Lance Corporal.
Each fireteam consists of the commander armed with a rifle L142, and three privates. One is armed with a rifle L142, one with the light plasma weapon and one with a 7.5 mm L95A1 machine gun replacing the unloved LSW L144 in combat battalions. The commander normally pairs off with the plasma gunner, whilst the remaining rifleman works with the machine gunner. Although sometimes the machine and plasma gunners pair off in what is known as a 'Vickers Group.' The commander and rifleman also normally carry a LAW.
The platoon consists of 37 men. 5 in platoon HQ, 24 in the sections and 8 vehicle crewmen. A company has 125 men, plus any attachments.
Tactics are based on the age old principle of fire and manoeuvre. At the platoon level this normally means that when attacking, one section plus any support will provide fire-support to suppress the enemy. The remaining forces will the launch an attack on the flanks from where the ACV's will de-bus the infantry and provide further fire support. The two dismounted sections, with the platoon commander just behind them, will leapfrog forwards giving mutual support. Closing onto the target (an enemy bunker say) one section will 'go firm' and provide close fire support and the other section will close on the target.
The assaulting section commander will then leave his Delta Fireteam about 50m away from the target to give even more fire support. At 20 metres, he'll probably be crawling by this stage, he'll leave his machine gunner and rifleman to give intimate fire support. He'll then crawl up to the bunker with his plasma gunner, who will fire a series of rounds at point blank range and then post a grenade. The remains of the occupants will be sprayed with rifle fire and probably bayoneted as well. Adrenaline will be flowing and you don't want the enemy coming to life behind you!
That section will then close up and go firm to provide fire support for the other section to attack the next target and so on. Although it might seem to be overkill this is the most effective way of conducting an attack, maximum firepower and maximum aggression. It has served the British well over the years.
This basic principle extends upwards. Whilst one platoon will be attacking, another will be providing cover. The same applies for companies. On a larger level it is standard British tactics to turn the enemies flanks wherever possible, although if necessary frontal attacks will be undertaken but only with substantial fire support. The British have also experimented with German Sturmtaktik, but find it a to be a dangerous manoeuvre against an aware enemy. As a result they have not brought it into operation.
Against Kafer units on Beta Canum-4 it was common practise for exceptionally violent assaults to be launched onto defended positions. Kafer initial tactical confusion would be exploited by the near simultaneous arrival of the Templer IFV's and indirect fire support on to the enemy position. The infantry would then debuss and undertake the bitter close quarter fighting needed to seize and maintain a foothold. The initial assault would then face a very rapid Kafer counter-attack, so the immediate establishment of a defensive perimeter would be vital. Once the counter-attack was beaten off, usually with the help of large levels of direct and indirect firesupport, the infantry would break out of their perimeter to clear the remainder of the position.
In defence it was a rare occurence for the armoured infantry battalions to be used in fixed defensive positions. Instead they would be used as highly mobile reserves for counter-attacks on the enemies flanks. However when called upon to fight in an entrenched defensive position the maximum use of the Templer IFV's sensors and direct fire weaponry would be used to secure the flanks from Kafer infiltration tactics.
To provide integral fire support to the battalion, the British group their heavy weapons into a Support Company. The US attach their heavy weapons directly to the rifle companies, but the British view is that this compromises flexibility. The rifle companies will have units of Support Company under command depending on the task and threat faced.
In a armoured infantry battalion consists of a Mortar Platoon, Reconnaissance (Recce) Platoon, Anti-Tank Platoon, Assault Pioneer Platoon, Anti-Aircraft Section and a Sniper Section. The soldiers in Support Company are normally long service veterans with years of experience behind them and are highly skilled.
Mortar Platoon consists of six mortar carrying ACV's divided into two sections of three vehicles each. The mortars are clip fed 120mm heavy mortars that provide indirect fire support to the forward companies. As well as conventional rounds the 120 mm is now equipped with SAP (Smart Anti-Personnel) munitions which dispense grenade sized munitions over a 30 m radius that home in on body heat. SAT (Smart Anti-Tank) are also in service. The Mortar Platoon is commanded by a Captain. Mortar Platoon also provides groups of forward observers called Mortar Fire Controllers (MFC) who operate in pairs attached to the rifle companies to call in fire support. MFC's can also adjust artillery fire in the absence of a FOO.
Recce Platoon is also commanded by a captain and deploys eight armoured recce vehicles to provide close reconnaissance in front of the battle group. Recce normally operates in pairs of vehicles, whose crews also dismount to conduct Close Target Recce (CTR) and Observation Post (OP) duties. Recce personnel are normally chosen from the best soldiers in the battalion.
Anti-Tank platoon also consists of eight vehicles that operate in pairs and is commanded by a Captain. The Anti-tank's ACV's are modified to carry heavy anti-tank missiles which are effective against all but the heaviest battle tanks.
Assault Pioneers are organised much like a rifle platoon, but are commanded by a Senior NCO, known as the APWO (Assault Pioneer Warrant Officer). Pioneers are infantrymen who have been trained in demolition and combat engineering and are called upon to create or destroy obstacles. They give the battle group some integral combat engineer support, but for larger tasks the Royal Engineers attached to Brigade or higher organisations will be called in. The Pioneer Platoon can also be deployed as normal infantry.
Anti Aircraft section consists of two vehicles equipped with heavy AA missiles and exists to give the battle group some defence against enemy aircraft. Most ground AA defences are attached to Division or Corps level. The section is commanded by a Sergeant.
Sniper Section consists of ten soldiers who operate in pairs and are commanded by a sergeant. The snipers are highly trained in marksmanship, fieldcraft and forward observation. They are normally deployed as extra reconnaissance assets, but can take on high value targets when ordered. They can also bring down artillery and mortar fire on enemy concentrations. Snipers are equipped with high power laser rifles and clad in their distinctive 'ghillie suits' that provided thermal and IR protection as well as normal visual concealment.
Without administration, command and logistic elements no military formation can function. In a battalion this is provided by the HQ Company. The Platoons of HQ Company are Quarter Master (QM) Platoon, Signals Platoon and Motor Transport (MT). Also attached is the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) that provides medical aid to the battle group, and the Drone Section that operates remote drones.
To command the Battle Group the CO has his Tactical HQ, or Tac 1. Which consists of one fighting vehicle and one command vehicle, plus support attachments of forward observers and the like. This group allows the CO to operate just behind his forward elements an to see what is going on. The British Army frowns on commanders sitting back in a comfortable CV giving orders by video link.
Tac 2 is organised identically to Tac 1 and is commanded by the Battalion 2 i/c, a Major. If the CO is killed, injured or out of contact then the 2 i/c can take over virtually instantly and continue fighting the battle. The remainder of the personnel man Battalion Main, commanded by the Adjutant which takes care of routine admin for the CO leaving him free to fight his battle.
QM and MT personnel combine to create A and B Echelons which are responsible for collecting supplies and ammo from brigade and getting them up to the battalion. The RAP has two armoured ambulances and an armoured automed unit. It is the job of the RAP to treat injured soldiers and get them back to better facilities in the rear.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch