“Blood and Steel,” Part One:

SOCOM’s 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne)


A hover-armored formation attached to the United States Special Operations Command, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) is an unusual formation intended to provide transportation and fire support to special operations units operating in urban areas or in areas where enemy air defense posture precludes aerial infiltration.  It has provided a surprising range of capabilities to SOCOM since its creation, and it has seen a good deal of action, most recently against Kafer forces in the French Arm.


Order of Battle

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures
Personnel Selection and Training
Personal Equipment


Thanks to Jason Weiser, Dan Hebditch, and David Gillon for suggestions and input concerning the concept of special operations armored vehicles and the culture of the 3d US Cavalry.  The M6 light hover AFV is originally David Gillon’s idea.  The airborne delivery of hover fighting vehicles has been discussed and developed at various times by Dan Hebditch, Bryn Monnery and Abraham Gubler.  The "paging" concept described in this article is derived from Abraham Gubler's description of the Australian Waikerie airmobile hover personnel carrier.

This article on the Brave Rifles circa 2303 is dedicated to LTC(R) James H Boschma, Jr, commander, Troops K and L, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1969-1972.  One might venture to guess there is some linkage with my own, eventual, membership in a unit of the United States Cavalry.


Sergeant First Class Tursanay Solih was dreaming of the sun-baked, grassy Venezuelan llanos, smoldering villages, and Mexican manufactured anti-tank missiles when the Wild Colonial Boy hove to and dropped her anchors in shallow water one hundred kilometers off the coast of Novoya Kiyev.  Sergeant Michael Greer, her driver, woke her.  He was a Hermean and did not believe in wasting words when a slap to the boot would suffice.  “Boots and saddles,” was his simple explanation.

Up on deck, the Boy’s captain, Seamus McManus, was overseeing the crew as they untarped the squall-line gray hulls of the two M24J3 Coyote Special Operations Air Cushion Armored Vehicles and prepared them for launch off the rear deck of the converted fishing trawler.  Their single support vehicle, a smaller M6S1 Fox SOACAV remained under its tarps.  Launching for crew recovery would only occur if they missed a time window, given the vagaries of planetside communications.  McManus gave her a sly grin; the Irish ex-pat turned Ukrainian patriot derived entirely too much entertainment from his role as transcontinental smuggler and privateer.

Off to the side, where a sand-bagged quad-launcher for Martel missiles replaced one of the ship’s large net winches, her bearded, piratical cargo were forming up in their crazy-quilt collection of uniform odds and ends, pristine weapons in hand.  Tonight’s mission was to take in a short-stack ODA of six Special Forces troops with an equal number of Ukrainian Spetsnaz.  Two French FUVOLMARS and an American Combat Controller were accompanying them, loaded with specialized gear for an interface landing zone survey.  Solih did not need an official briefing to know that their mission was preparatory to something big.  The time table and other details, however, remained a mystery.

She called a quick huddle with the SF team leaders and her second Coyote crew.  It took a few moments to pry the Zulus down out of their antenna and dish-festooned shack on the flying bridge, the two ELINT specialists blinking even in Aurora’s watery daylight after the phosphorescent glow of their den.   They had nothing new to offer on the friendly or enemy situation on the mainland, thanks to the usual electromagnetic hell.

Solih grimaced at the news, even though it was expected.  This was her fourth semi-blind run into Novoya Kiyev for pre-arranged link-ups with partisans.  The colony was huge enough that it was not hard to be somewhere where the Kafers were not . . . but it only took one contact or mishap while downrange with no support and, at best, it would be a long wait for the Liberation.

She activated the projector unit on her arm comp, painting a map on the ship’s deck.  “No changes in our timeline or  infil/exfil routes, gentlemen,” her English still carried a faint hint of the exotic.  Samarkand had been her home for the first twelve years of her life, until Zapamoga had arranged resettlement for her family in the United States.  “Any questions?”

The bearded special operators shook their heads to the negative.  They were all keyed up, though most hid it well.  Solih herself could feel a sluggish, turgid flow of adrenalin and a sourness in her stomach.  Everyone burns in sometime, her Regimental Instructors had told her and the other new recruits to the 3d Armored Cavalry at the first day of indoctrination, If you can’t deal with that, this isn’t the place for you.  She pushed the fear aside as she had numerous times before.

“All right, gentlemen.  Let’s go downrange.”



3rd Armored Cavalry (Airborne) [HQ: Fort Simons, Wyoming]
     Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop
     Regimental Surgical Section
     Regimental Support Troop

1st Squadron [Fort Simons, WY]
     Troop A (9 M9K1)
     Troop B (14 M24J4 Light Tank Mod)
     Troop C (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier)
     Troop D (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier)
     Troop E (10 M24E1 Electronic Warfare Vehicles)

2nd Squadron [Fort Stewart, GA]
     Troop F (9 M9K1)
     Troop G (24 M6S1 Light Gunsleds)
     Troop H (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier)
     Troop I (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier)
     Troop K (10 M6S2 Electronic Warfare Vehicles)

3rd Squadron (Idaho Army National Guard) [Gowen Field, ID]
    Troop L (12 M9K1) (FL ARNG) [Camp Blanding, FL]
     Troop M (18 M24J4) (ID ARNG) [Gowen Field, ID]
     Troop N (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier) (MT ARNG) [Billings, MT]
     Troop O (16 M24J3 Personnel Carrier) (NC ARNG) [Fort Bragg, NC]
     Troop P (12 M6S1 Light Gunsleds) (CO ARNG) [Fort Carson, CO]
    Troop Q (10 M24E1Electronic Warfare Vehicles) (KY & OH ARNG) [Fort Knox, KY]

4th Squadron [Fort Simons, WY]
     Troop W (New Crew/Personnel Training)
     Troop X (Foreign Internal Defense)
     Troop Y (Pathfinder)
     Troop Z (Electronic Warfare/Military Intelligence)


The idea of an organic armored unit belonging to the US Special Operations Command has a long history, dating back both to operational failures and successes stemming from very inconsistent integration of heavier elements into unconventional warfare missions (and, indeed, a more general question of whether or not heavy forces should be integrated into such missions at all).  The need to operate covertly, as well as what has been termed the “Cult of the Chosen Man” mindset in SOCOM has often promoted a certain disregard for the heavier firepower and other capabilities that armored units can bring to a fight.  The potential dangers of this tendency have been demonstrated one numerous occasions in the history of American and other nation’s special operations, as have the potential dangers of haphazard incorporation of conventional armored forces into special operations task forces without extensive joint training and other preparation.

Within the American military, tactics, techniques, and procedures for such combined operations had been developed to a very high level during the protracted Second American Civil War during Age of Recovery, primarily as a consequence of the scarcity of more traditional aviation support during the era.  The joint operations of the US 7th Special Forces Group and 1-4th Cavalry alongside the Canadian South Albertan Light Horse and Calgary Highlanders battle groups against New American forces on both sides of the international border during OPERATION GRIZZLY WHITE (03 April 2017 to 01 September 2017) remains a classic case study for such operations, though similar actions involving the 3rd SFG (A) and 278th Armored Cavalry in the American South a decade later and the brief fielding of mechanized Ranger units during the fighting around Gainesville, Florida, in 2034 also stand out.

Most, if not all, of this institutional knowledge was lost as the Age of Recovery came to a close, particularly as US special operations shifted to very low signature covert operations after the disappointing conclusion of the Third Mexican-American War in 2103.  As a consequence, SOCOM was early to consider the special operations potential of military hovercraft in the context of another war with Mexico, but slow to adopt them for the real-world missions the command was being called upon to carry out.

This did not begin to change until after the eruption of the Inca Republic-sponsored insurgency in Venezuela in 2281.  Overt US military intervention was limited to deploying a small contingent of US Marines and elements of XVIII Airborne Corps on a rotating basis to bolster security at certain American interests in the country (most notably the joint Brazilian-American signals intelligence site near Mérida), but the war quickly attracted a less publicized and more involved commitment from SOCOM as well, with Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) 202 being formed in 2282 and undertaking Operation Southern Resolve.

As the insurgents became progressively better armed, particularly in regards to man-portable air defense weapons and other support weapons, American military advisors and other operators began to request commitment of an armored quick reaction force.  This initially took the form of an alert company or troop from XVIII Airborne Corp’s various armor and cavalry units being assigned to JSOTF 202.

This arrangement generally worked well, but failed dramatically on 22 August 2284, during a raid on a suspected guerilla safe house in Barrio San Cristobal, a neighborhood in the south-eastern city of Ciudad Bolívar.  Six American and four French special operations personnel were killed in this action, and an equal number wounded, drawing an undesired degree of media attention to what had previously been successfully covert activities by both nations in Venezuela.  Subsequent investigations blamed much of the disaster on the commander of the armored quick reaction force, but also more generally criticized a lack of common communications and operating procedures and the like.

The 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne)

First raised in 1846 as the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, the 3d Cavalry (“3rd” being improper usage) is one of the longest serving and most historic of American cavalry units.  It is also a unit notable for its dramatic participation in the 1st Mexican-American War (1846-1848).  Both the regiment’s traditional unit designation, “Brave Rifles” and its motto, “Blood and Steel,” derive from General Winfield Scott’s accolade to the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen after their performance at the Battle of Contreras during that war.  The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen were also notable for their participation in the capture of Chapultepec, and perhaps most notable of all for Captain Benjamin Roberts and Sergeant James Manly, who raised the American flag over the Mexican National Palace on 14 September 1847.

While the regiment has a very distinguished record subsequent to that, fighting in the Indian Wars, both American Civil Wars and all three World Wars, the 2nd Mexican-American War, and smaller actions since, many believe that the regiment’s record during the first Mexican War prompted it being reflagged as SOCOM’s prestigious and high-profile armored component.

The initial correction to this was a fairly modest undertaking, with the formation of Troop F, 4th Cavalry, an independent unit organized along the lines of a standard US light armored cavalry troop.  The unit was declared operational in April 2285, and deployed shortly thereafter to Venezuela as part of the Southern Resolve IV troop rotation.  Initial experiences were very positive, and the decision was made by the spring of 2286 to expand the company-strength unit to battalion size, with F/4th Cavalry redesignated as Troop A, 5-17th Cavalry, and the remainder of the new 5-17th Cavalry (Airborne) being stood up at Fort Simons, Wyoming effective 1 January 2287.

At this point, thinking within SOCOM began to be influenced in some ways by the experiences of the Brazilian and French special operations communities, as well as early Hanoverian theories concerning Sturmtaktik, and developments in the organization of certain elite British and French colonial formations.  Brazilian Grupos de Operaciones Especiais (GOE) had made some limited use of hovercraft as assault transports for direct action missions during the 3rd Rio Plata War, and since that time had incorporated standing hover APC formations into some GOEs.  French special operations units had experimented with similar applications for hovercraft supporting special mission units, especially the ongoing operations by the 10e Régiment de Choc in Central Asia, though no permanent alterations to their organizations appeared likely.  As a result of these influences, 5-17th Cavalry (Airborne) began to be reorganized away from the combined-arms troop organization common to US approaches to cavalry formations and more towards a format reflecting, primarily, the Brazilian model.

While SOCOM was experimenting with new organizational models for its armored component, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were considering the broader applications for such a unit.  The squadron was essentially organized to support rotations in Venezuela, and lacked the depth to simultaneously support other taskings except in an emergency.  Most notably, from the JCS’ perspective, the unit would be unable to contribute to operations against Mexico without abandoning the Venezuela deployment.

This prompted the decision, announced in 2290, to expand 5-17th Cavalry (Airborne) to full regimental strength, with an initial planned strength of two active and two reserve squadrons.  The regimental-sized formation was formally stood up with the reflagging of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) on 19 May 2290, the 444th anniversary of that regiment’s founding.  At that time, 5-17th Cavalry was reflagged as 1st Squadron, 3d ACR (A), with the unit also providing a cadre for the forming 2nd Squadron.  Organization of the first of two planned reserve squadrons began in 2291, though budgetary concerns led to shelving the idea for the second reserve squadron which was to have begun standing up in 2293.  In 2294, however, the regiment did receive funding to add a specialist support squadron to consolidate a number of them independent troops within the regimental organization, which assumed the 4th Squadron designation.  (There is continued discussion of a second reserve squadron, possibly based on Ellis, but to date the money and manpower are not available for this expansion.)

Throughout this period of growth, the regiment continued to support the Venezuela deployments, as well as occasional deployments to Central Asia, the Caucasus, and other regions where the American military found itself involved in combat or non-combat operations.

"Butcher and Bolt:" Bengal, 27 March 2294 

When Bengal collapsed into civil war in late 2293, conditions in the capital deteriorated rapidly, prompting a joint operation by the American, Brazilian, and Japanese militaries to evacuate their diplomatic missions and other citizens from the country in March of 2294.   The operation, dubbed North Wind, was launched with little preparation, relying on British bases in Bombay as an intermediate staging base.  The American component was primarily composed of an ACV team built around Troop C, 3d ACR and Company B, 1-75th Ranger Regiment, with similar numbers of Japanese and Brazilian conventional and special operations troops involved.  While the capital's primary airport was quickly seized, attempts to reach the American, Brazilian, and Japanese embassies quickly turned into running gun battles as both sides in the civil war mistook the foreign troops for an intervention on behalf of their opponents.  In twenty-four hours of operations, the North Wind task force accounted for all civilian personnel it was sent to recover (including seven Americans and five Brazilians killed on their respective embassy grounds by Bengali combatants), and suffered thirteen killed and thirty wounded of their own numbers.  Combined Bengali losses on both sides of the conflict were estimated at several hundred, including at least ten AFVs destroyed by 3d Cavalry vehicles.

The regiment was alerted to possibly deploy a team to Aurore after the initial Kafer invasion of the planet, but the broader American military commitment to the crisis was a matter of much political debate, and the possible mission never panned out.  This changed after the more general assault towards Earth, with Hotel Troop, and then the bulk of 2nd Squadron being prepared for service off planet.  The first elements of the regiment were in transit at the time of the Battle of Beowulf and subsequently deployed forward from the main American depot at Alicia, with company-sized teams operating on Aurore, Dunkelheim, and Beta Canum Venaticorum in support of American and allied special operations units.



Though it remains designated as an armored cavalry regiment, the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) is organized quite a bit differently than the standard American ACR to fulfill its mission of supporting SOCOM operations.  The regiment consists of a Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (RHT), a Regimental Support Company (providing depot level maintenance support), a Regimental Surgical Section (providing both surgical and environmental medicine assets), one squadron of specialist support units, and three line squadrons equipped with hover AFVs designated Special Operations Air Cushion Armored Vehicles (SOACAV).  One of the line squadrons is a reserve formation, headquartered at Gowen Field Combat Training Center, Idaho, and with subordinate troops distributed across the country.

The regiment is not intended, nor equipped, to function as a maneuver unit, and, lacks various combat arms units as well as the regimental/brigade level support echelon normally.  Combat service support assets are, instead, primarily consolidated at the squadron level.  Each of the three line squadrons includes a Squadron Support Troop with extensive maintenance capabilities (sufficient to generate up to five independent maintenance support teams should the squadron’s subordinate maneuver troops be detached for autonomous duty).  The RHT is capable, however, of generating up to two tactical command posts, to provide command and control above the squadron level, as needed, and can coordinate the attachment of non-organic support or conventional units.  The RHT can also furnish three (five with the mobilization of 3rd Squadron) liason teams (LNOs) to assist in the integration of subordinate units into Joint Special Operations Task Forces (JSOTFs) or other environments.

The Squadron Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, similarly, includes communications and medical platoons with more personnel and capabilities than is standard in American conventional line battalions and squadrons.  This capability allows the squadron to support distributed operations by its subordinate units, and also allows a JSOTF to be built around a squadron with minimal augmentation, though this capability has been little used until the outbreak of the Kafer War.

The medical platoon is an unusual formation that lacks tactical vehicles of its own, but is staffed with its own surgeon, anesthesiologist, and seventeen special operations independent duty medical technicians, besides a Medical Service Corps platoon leader and a four-man medical supply and medical systems maintenance team.  These numbers allow the squadron medical platoon to support multiple operating locations for subunits, as well as providing highly skilled medical personnel to support combat search and rescue (CSAR) and casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) missions as needed.

Unlike conventional Army armored and mechanized units, the 3d Armored Cavalry is authorized additional armored fighting vehicles to offset losses and maintenance deadlines.  At any given time, the unit will have approximately ten spare M24J3 Coyotes, and smaller numbers of the other SOACAV platforms currently in service, more or less evenly split between Forts Simons and Stewart.  These additional authorized vehicles are also used to support the training of new personnel and sustainment training for personnel not assigned to a line unit.

1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry

Based at Molino del Rey Barracks, at Fort Simons, Wyoming, the regiment’s 1st Squadron is primarily aimed towards the Mexican border, and tasked with supporting 1st and 19th Special Forces Groups (Airborne) as well as the Rangers.  The squadron’s AOR includes Texas, and cross training with the Brigade of Texas Rifles and the 124th Cavalry Brigade, is frequent, with Republic of Texas Army Base Bliss providing a suitably arid and large deployment-training destination for various manuevers.  The squadron has an intense, though friendly, rivalry, with the latter and the two units often send teams to attend one another’s traditional Spur Rides as well as more formal training exercises and exchanges.  Joint training with Canadian military units is also common, including a formal exchange program with the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Out-of-area training was initially frowned on to some extent, due to the squadron’s focus on the Southwest, but this has been increasingly relaxed in the last half decade as the squadron has forged links with similar units with desert or long-range operational expertise.  Recent exercises and exchanges with the Australian Defense Forces’ 2nd Squadron, Cavalry Regiment of Australia, and the French 4th (Algerian) Corps’ 5e Spahis Algériens in North Africa have been initiated, allowing both sides to exchange tactics and techniques concerning long-range operations and desert warfare.  More recently, beginning in 2297, the squadron has been sending platoon to company sized elements to Tirane for exercises with the Wellonese Desert Reconnaissance Force, with mutually beneficial results and a surprising degree of mutual enthusiasm for the exchanges, given the sometimes tense nature of Wellonese-American relations elsewhere on Tirane.

The squadron’s maneuver element is built around two troops of M24J3 Coyote hover personnel carriers, the SOCOM-peculiar modernization and modification of the standard American M24 hover-APC.  Each of these two troops (Troops C and D) has sixteen Coyotes authorized, nominally split into four platoons of four vehicles each, though mission tasking and consequent tactical organization is driven by the requirements of the supported unit.

In addition to the two personnel carrier troops, the squadron has two troops equipped to provide direct and BVR fire support to special operations forces, as well as a troop specialized for what American doctrine terms “intrusion support.”  Troop A is equipped with nine M9K1 Kodiak hover battle tanks to provide support in very high-threat environments.  The troop is split into two platoons each of four vehicles plus the troop commander’s vehicle (though, again, actual employment is driven my mission-specific task organization).  Troop B is equipped with fourteen lighter, but faster and stealthier, M24J4 Wolverine light tanks, nominally organized into three platoons of four vehicles, plus a vehicle for both the commander and executive officer.  With speed and electronic signatures essentially identical to the Coyote, Bravo Troop is the standard armed escort for 1st Squadron missions.  The squadron’s last lettered troop, Troop E, is equipped with ten M24E1 Raven electronic warfare vehicles, providing the squadron with EW and electronic countermeasure support for infiltration and exfiltration operations, etc.

2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry

Headquartered at Chapultepec Barracks at Fort Stewart, Georgia, 2nd Squadron is primarily tasked to support US Eastern Command, with an intended wartime area of operations in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  As a secondary mission, the squadron was also the regiment’s component designated for out-of-area operations, conducting numerous training and operational deployments to Africa, Eurasia, and Australia, as well as extra-solar deployments (though actual teams deployed have often included portions of 1st and, sometimes, 3rd Squadrons).

As a consequence of the squadron’s primary AOR, the unit trains intensively for over-water operations.  It is also equipped with a somewhat different range of systems than 1st Squadron due to the particulars of its intended operational environment.  The primary transportation platform remains the M24J3 Coyote, and the squadron’s Hotel and India Troops are equipped and organized identically to Charlie and Delta Troops in 1-3d Cavalry.  The squadron also has a troop (Foxtrot Troop) of nine M9K1 Kodiak HBTs.  The primary difference in organization is that 2-3d Armored Cavalry lacks the M24J4 Wolverine light tanks, and substitutes Golf Troop, with twenty-four M6S1 Fox hover light armored vehicles.  Relatively well armed and armored, and capable of carrying a small number of troops under armor, the Foxes are also easily transported by air, providing the squadron with a very strategically mobile force capable of rapidly deploying throughout the western hemisphere or further away, as needed.  Modified M6s, designated M6S2 Blackbirds, are also used for the squadron’s jamming and electronic warfare needs in lieu of the M24-based Raven.

With the squadron’s out of area mission, they tend to train extensively with friendly foreign forces, both special operations and more conventional armored or cavalry units.  The squadron has a more extensive history of joint training with foreign forces, including exchange programs and frequent exercises with a range of units, including the British 16th/5th Lancers, the French 11th Parachute Division’s 1e Régiment de Hussards Parachutiste, Brazil’s Caribbean-focused 3o Grupo de Operaciones Especiais, and Germany’s 107 Bayerisch Luftkissenpanzeraufklärungs Brigade (Panzer Kavallerie Regiment 107).  Occasional training deployments further afield than Europe and South America have taken the squadron’s units to the South Atlantic, sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia.  Operational deployments have focused on Venezuela, but America’s various commitments in Eurasia have often been supported by elements of 2-3d ACR(A).

Prior to the start of the Kafer War, the squadron’s Hotel Troop was the regiment’s designated element for extra-solar deployments, primarily training for this mission via deployments to the American Arm or Tirane.  This tasking was done away with, however, with the Kafer invasion of Aurore, and doctrinal thinking shifted to the idea that the entire squadron should be prepared for potential missions away from Earth.  This was initially a primarily notional capability, but the full weight of the Kafer Invasion changed that.  Circa 2303, the squadron headquarters is based out of Beowulf, with most of its subunits deployed further up the arm, supporting other American and allied special operations units in mopping up remaining Kafer holdouts.

3rd Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry

The regiment’s reserve component, 3-3d ACR is organized with six troops, including Kodiaks, Wolverines, Coyotes, Foxes, and Ravens in its force structure.  While the squadron is not intended solely to support other reserve-component special operations units, joint training with the 19th and 20th Special Forces Groups (Airborne) and 1st Ranger Battalion, 162nd Infantry (Oregon Army National Guard) are extremely common.  Foreign training opportunities are less frequent than for the active duty squadrons, but the squadron does have a close working relationship with a number of Texan reserve units, including the 5th Rifles and several battalions of the Texas Corps of Volunteers.

The squadron’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, along with the squadron’s Wolverine troop, Troop M and a maintenance detachment are headquartered at Gowen Field Combat Training Center, Idaho.  Troop L, with twelve Kodiaks, is based at the Camp Blanding, Florida, reserve training/mobilization center.  The squadron’s two Coyote troops, Troops N and O, are located in Billings, Montana, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, respectively.  Troop P, with twelve M6S1 Foxes is located at Fort Carson, Colorado.  Finally, Troop Q, with ten M24E1 Ravens, is located at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

In the event of war with Mexico, it is likely that the squadron would contribute at least one company-sized unit to the Joint Task Force Cook counter-special operations unit.  Troop N is the designated headquarters to support JTF Cook, though it would trade sub-units with Troops L, M, and P to provide a balanced set of capabilities.  Additional units might be pushed out to the Joint Task Force as needed.

4th Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry

Third Armored Cavalry’s Fourth Squadron is a controlling headquarters for a number of specialist units, with four troops lettered W, X, Y, and Z.  (These letters were picked arbitrarily during the time period when it was unclear if this unit would be the 4th or 5th Squadron of the regiment, and have stuck ever since.)  The squadron provides the regiment long-range dismounted reconnaissance and drop zone survey/operations capability, very sophisticated electronic warfare and intelligence capabilities, and its own in-house training establishment.  The squadron also contains a troop organized exclusively for Foreign Internal Defense missions.

Troop W is the regiment’s small internal training command, with twenty personnel, all ranks, assigned to Fort Simons and an additional fifteen on detached duty as advisors to the reserve units of 3rd Squadron.  The troop is responsible for the initial training of incoming personnel as well as individual professional development and unit-level sustainment training.  When necessary, the troop is augmented by drafts of experienced officers and NCOs from line units.

Troop X ostensibly specializes in Foreign Internal Defense missions, providing training and liaison for American allies concerning the integration of armored fighting vehicles in special operations missions.  This mission requires a high degree of familiarity with various foreign AFVs, and there are persistent rumors that this mission carries over to a hot-war mission of infiltrating Mexican lines using Mexican military equipment, IFF codes, etc.  The US government has never publicly acknowledged the latter mission, if it is, indeed, intended.

The troop is organized into a small headquarters and six twelve-man training teams, each led by a captain.  Deployed teams may deviate from this twelve-man format, depending on the requirements of the mission.  Each team deploys with a thorough knowledge base concerning operational use of AFVs in special operations missions and low intensity conflicts, as well as maintenance and logistics issues, etc.  The training teams can also be employed as liaison elements to help integrate host-nation forces with American units operating in the area.

X-Ray Troop’s primary area of operations has traditionally been Venezuela (indeed, the conflict in that country is why the troop was formed), though more exotic deployments Ethiopia, Palestine, and some of the more stable and democratically minded Indian states have been undertaken in the last few years.  Circa 2303, it has teams deployed in either the training or liaison role (or both) on a number of world in the French Arm, most importantly on Aurore and Beta Canum.

Troop Y is the regiment’s organic dismounted reconnaissance and pathfinder element.  The troop consists of an eleven man Headquarters Section and two twenty-six man Scout Platoons (consisting of a platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and six four-man Scout Squads).  The unit can be employed to augment, or lieu of, other, similar assets available to SOCOM for landing/drop zone survey and management, special reconnaissance missions and, to a limited extent, other special warfare missions.  It is believed that the troop is sometimes used as a mounted infantry element to support CSAR and CASEVAC missions.  Information concerning operations involving this unit are difficult to obtain, though it is believed that they have deployed to Central Asia, Armenia, and Venezuela in the last decade as part of larger American forces either on combat or stability and support missions.

Troop Z is an electronic and signals warfare unit providing operational to strategic level support to the regiment to augment the capabilities of the electronic warfare vehicles found in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Squadrons.  The unit has no tactical vehicles of its own, but all its equipment can be loaded onto Coyotes via that vehicle’s Modular Palletized Troop Compartment System (or, alternately, can be fitted to various commercial or military tactical trucks and other transports), or is man portable.  Strength of the troop consists of sixty-seven men, all ranks, divided into a number of specialist sections.  Deployed units usually have a mixture of members of the different sections to provide a full range of capabilities.  Zulu Troop, like Yankee Troop, tends towards a very low profile, but they are known to have been involved in hunting down Esperanza and Sebastian Romero, leaders of the Brigada de Libertad Indígena terrorist group operating in Caracas, Venezuela in 2296.



The 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) has two primary missions.  First, it is to support the infiltration and exfiltration of special operations forces and other cargos into denied areas when the enemy air defense posture is such that aerial transportation is not feasible.  Second, it is to provide lift for rolling assaults and fire support during direct action missions against high value targets.  To accomplish these missions, the regiment deploys a number of different models of hover-mobile armored fighting vehicles.

For either mission, the primary focus is on providing assault transport, for which the regiment relies on the Coyote hover personnel carrier and the smaller Fox hover light armored vehicle.  The Coyote is relatively easily air transportable, and the standard American Loadmaster III can carry a pair of the vehicles.  The smaller Fox can be carried by tactical transports, such as the Army and Air Force MV-33 Commando Knife.  The usual approach, when aerial delivery is needed, is to simply airland the vehicles, but either vehicle can be delivered, ready to fight, via Parachute Assisted Jump-Jet Delivery (PAJ2D, or "paged"), wherein the vehicles are delivered from aircraft with their crews and any passengers already aboard, relying on drogue chutes and their integral jump-jets.  Jump jets are also used to get assault personnel to the tops of buildings during urban operations, with the regiment’s Coyote and Fox crews being well drilled in holding a low hover long enough for troops to dismount through the vehicles’ belly hatches.

It is not unusual for an American Joint Special Operations Task Force to be deployed overseas with elements of the 3d ACR(A) to augment the organic light hovercraft equipping other units.  With this organization, units will frequently use the 3rd ACR(A)'s vehicles in a "heavy" role, or as the primary transport for direct action missions, while lightly armored War Birds and similar vehicles perform supporting tasks.  For specific direct action missions where significant resistance is expected, the entire assault transport will be via 3d Cavalry vehicles, if such are available.

The usual mission organization for the unit is the pair of hovercraft operating as "wingmen" for one another.  Typically, these are similar craft, though dissimilar vehicles are sometimes paired if a mission requires an odd number of one or more vehicles (quite commonly seen with the regiment's electronic warfare assets).  All transport vehicles are typically heavily armed and are capable of serving as their own gunship support, if need be, though the regiment also deploys the Kodiak, a modified M9 hovertank, and the Wolverine, a light tank design based on the M24 armored personnel carrier, for gunsled support of operations.


Selection of personnel for service in the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) is somewhat similar to that employed by the American Special Forces, with applicants all being required to have at least three years in service, good service records, be medically qualified for airborne training and operations, and either hold or be eligible to hold advanced-level security clearances.  They may range in rank from Privates First Class to Staff Sergeants, for enlisted, and up to Captain for officer.  Applicants must also hold a military occupational specialty appearing on the regiment’s tables of organization and equipment, though under extraordinary circumstances the regimental commander has the authority to allow personnel without relevant qualification to attend the selection process and, if selected, then attend an MOS school for retraining.  This is done very rarely and almost always is reserved for members of other Army special operations or other branch SOCOM assets who wish to transfer into the unit.

Personnel meeting the minimum entry requirements are either shipped to Fort Simons or Fort Stewart to go before a regimental recruiting committee, who will determine whether or not the individual is accepted for selection based on a records review and their interview.  This process tends to weed out only the most obviously unfit, as the regiment’s policy to date has been to rely primarily on the Regimental Indoctrination and Selection course (RIS) process to sort out those who are suitable for service.

RIS is a four week process modeled on both the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) and Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) programs.  Emphasis is constantly on binom and small unit cooperative problem solving under the most extreme of physical conditions, and the course tends to wash out 50-66% of all applicants.  Those passing RIS are sent on to airborne training, if not already qualified, and then return to Fort Simons for a seventeen-week Advanced Combat Skills (ACS) course, which provides both an introduction to the Special Operations Air Cushion Armored Vehicles used by the regiment (including training on aerial delivery of the vehicles), as well as basic dismounted combat skills, with a focus on close quarters battle and urban operations, and introductory survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training.  At this point, personnel are considered suitable for entry-level posting to an operational unit in the regiment, though they will not be considered operationally qualified until completing various train-up exercises with their troop and squadron, a process usually taking four to five months.

There is no set probationary period per se, for personnel assigned to the unit, but tradition has established that prior to completion of the Regimental Spur Ride, an individual can be dismissed from the unit and returned to their unit based on the decision of their squadron commander.  After earning one’s spurs, this decision has to be signed off on by the regimental commander.  In practice, either approving authority tends to resolve such situations very rapidly.

Given that all personnel entering the regiment are already qualified and experienced operators of the equipment to which they will be assigned, this tends to translate into extremely high levels of proficiency among the regiment’s vehicle crews and other troopers.  This proficiency is maintained by an extremely busy training schedule, with troopers doing a minimum of 270 days each year of local or deployed field training, even when not on an operational deployment.

An indication of the resources available may be gleaned from the regiment’s 2301 gunnery budget for its M9K1 Kodiak HBTs.  With a total of 30 M9K1s on issue, and approximately forty crews (counting regimental and squadron headquarters and Whiskey Troop personnel needing to maintain proficiency), the regiment’s allocation of ammunition and range time was 1 ½ times that of a standard American armored brigade with more than three times that many HBTs.  Expenditures for other SOACAV crews, and even small arms training for all personnel, is comparable, and it is rumored that the 3rd ACR(A) is the most expensive unit within SOCOM, though if so it is likely that it only narrowly exceeds the cost of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and the various USAF Air Commando aviation units.

Attention is paid to individual professional development, as well, and personnel are encouraged to courses and schools ranging from exotic SOCOM-peculiar offerings to more practical cross-training, such as cross training maintenance and operational personnel in one another’s specialties.  Attendance of foreign training courses, especially with the French, Brazilian, British, or Texan military are also quite common, as are exchange programs for officers and NCOs.


Though the newest addition to SOCOM’s order of battle, the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) is the oldest continually serving unit falling under SOCOM, an unusual status that members of the regiment tend to take significant pride in.  The regiment, like other SOCOM units, fall outside the usual US Army personnel system, and goes out of its way to maintain personnel who demonstrate they can handle the responsibility, and pace, of special operations missions.  This has led to a fairly insular community, with entry into the regiment tending to be a one-way trip except for those who demonstrate they cannot handle the demands of service in the unit.  The armor and cavalry community as a whole tend to refer to transferring to the 3d Cavalry as “crossing over to the darkside” or “going over the fence” with some justification.

Within the regiment, much of the unnecessary trappings of military discipline and tedium are dispensed with; all personnel are expected to be professional soldiers of the highest caliber, and so the expectation is on self-motivation and self-discipline rather than either being imposed by the chain of command.  Those who cannot adapt to this environment are invariably returned to their former units.  Those who can adapt to the environment tend to flourish in it, and it is quite common for personnel to refuse promotions back into the conventional American army so as to remain with the regiment.  This trend, coupled with the regiment’s huge training budget, tends to result in operational and support personnel who can function well above the rank they wear (admittedly, a common state of affairs in SOCOM’s more unconventional units).

It has also tended to make the regiment the home to unconventionalists and eccentrics whose thinking was not, necessarily, appreciated by the mainstream conventional US military.  The regiment encourages this, to a large degree, as their missions require personnel with very high degrees of mental agility.

Given the quality of personnel assigned to the unit, rank is downplayed to a large extent, even the usual separation between officers and enlisted.  SOACAV platoons are expected to be close knit organizations where rank is exercised informally and always by example.  The regiment is unique in that the formal Dining In (May 19th of each year) and Dining Out (September 14th of each year) are attended by all ranks, rather than just the commissioned members of the unit.  Field grade officers and senior NCOs (especially the Colonel and Sergeant Major of the Regiment) are still awarded all due military courtesies and customs, but at the troop level, things are informal, with personnel tending to operate on a first-name basis and salutes being considered out of place.

The unit continues to maintain a large number of traditions dating back to the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen.  The Regimental Silver, with toasting cups dating back to the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, has been maintained (though some examples were lost during the Twilight War), and the tradition of each officer who passes through the regiment leaving such a cup has been expanded to include all personnel, with these cups being put into service at the yearly Dining In.  By recently adopted tradition, the youngest member of the regiment present is provided the cup left with the regiment by then Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart.  Various other, similar, traditions are maintained, perhaps as much to mark the unit as unique among SOCOM as to denote a separate identity within the armor and cavalry community.  


Colonel Thomas R Paavola

Known officially as the 185th Colonel of the Regiment, and less officially as “the Finn,” Colonel  Thomas Paavola joined the unit as a Special Forces major officer, originally branched Armor, who after being handpicked to serve as a Troop Commander when 5-17th Cavalry (Airborne) was formed by then-commander LTC Michael Goldsmith.  He has been with the unit ever since, previously serving as commander of 2nd Squadron and regimental executive officer before being promoted to colonel and taking command of the regiment.  He is one of the last of "Goldsmith's Killers" still on active service with the regiment, and very much the product of initial unconventional theories and training that guided the formation of the regiment.  He has a reputation for being a very hard man, who pushes himself harder than he pushes his troops, regularly logging 20 hour work days and priding himself on regularly finishing in the top five during Fort Simons annual "Bull" Simons Marathon.

Command Sergeant Major Brendan Ramirez

The 119th Sergeant Major of the Regiment, CSM Ramirez is a former tank crewman who has served on M9 hover tanks for his entire career.  Like Colonel Paavola, CSM Ramirez has been with the unit since it was 5-17th Cavalry, working his way up from troop first sergeant to RSM.  He is a tall, heavy framed man of intimidating aspect, though his approach to maintaining discipline within the regiment is to rely on the quality of his soldiers, except in remarkable circumstances.  He primarily concerns himself with the more difficult tasks, in a unit like the 3d ACR, of looking after the welfare of his troops and their families.  Consequently, he is both immensely respected and immensely liked by the rank and file within the regiment, though those whose transgressions do call for his attention find him to be rather less understanding.

Sergeant First Class Tursanay Solih

SFC Tursanay Solih is the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Hotel Troop, 2-3d ACR(A), and the senior AFV crewmember deployed as part of JSOTF 303 on Aurore.  A first-generation Uzbek immigrant in her early 30s, SFC Solih has previously served on deployments to South America and elsewhere on Earth, as well as participating in extensive joint training exercises with the Wellonese military and French forces on Tirane.  She is a dedicated runner and can sometimes be encountered jogging between Tanstaalfl City and the JSOTF 303 compound outside Port Blackjack.  A nominal Muslim, at best, she still does not drink, and is more likely to be found enjoying coffee in one of Tanstaafl City’s cafes than out carousing.


In garrison, Third Cavalry personnel wear standard American battledress uniforms and/or dress uniforms as appropriate.  Headgear with both uniforms is officially a green beret worn with the traditional red and white cavalry flash and regimental crest for all ranks.  (The 3rd Cavalry’s green beret is several shades lighter than that worn by American Special Forces, and references the facings of the original Regiment of Mounted Riflemen uniform, though this point is often misunderstood by both the American and international media.)  Though unofficial, traditional black cavalry Stetsons are often worn, and are the standard headgear for any official regimental function (where they are worn with spurs by those who have completed the Regimental Spur Ride).  Issue field uniforms are usually modified by vehicle crews to add yellow striping on both legs, again referencing ancient American cavalry traditions, and crossed sabers are a common design motif for everything from helmets to individual tattoos.  Besides these typical modifications, however, field uniforms carry no unit or individual identifying marks, a common SOCOM practice.

Operationally, SOACAV crews in First, Second, and Third Squadrons are issued the standard American vehicle and air crewman inertial armor flak suits (AV 0.4) and crewman helmets (AV 2), augmented with the issue SOCOM torso armor (AV 1 for Area 2, AV 0.8 for Areas 3 and 4, Wt 6 kg).  The vehicle crewman helmet includes audio dampers and pickups, a helmet-mounted display that projects onto the helmet’s visor, and close-range (within 500 meters) radio communications links allowing dismounted crewmen to communicate with their vehicle or other personnel.  Night vision can be provided by a 400 gram clip-on thermal night vision sight, and the helmet can be easily sealed for operating in chemically or biologically contaminated environments.

Personnel wear low profile versions of the SOCOM assault vest and leg rigs suitable for use inside vehicles.  The standard webbing ensemble is adequate to carry personal weapons, a standard basic load of ammunition, plus water and other survival equipment.  This uniform may be varied as needed, such as the use of immersion suits for long-range over-water operations in cold climates, etc.

Personnel assigned to Fourth Squadron have more varied, mission specific, uniforms.  Whiskey Troop personnel wear flak suits along with black Stetsons to identify them when  functioning as training/evaluation cadre.  X-Ray Troop uniforms tend to be the standard SOACAV crewman uniform, modified as necessary for any equipment peculiarities, though in certain operating environments they wear modified versions of host nation uniforms to maintain a lower profile, or for equipment interoperability issues.  Yankee Troop personnel wear the usual American uniforms and equipment used by special operations forces engaged in special reconnaissance missions.  Zulu Troop personnel tend to wear identical uniforms to whatever unit they are assigned to (American or host nation) to reduce visibility.

Personal weapons for 3rd Cavalry vehicle crews consist of the M7A1 10mm gauss carbine and the new M112 10mm gauss automatic pistol, though some personnel continue to use the more compact M57 9mm conventional pistol.  Maintenance and Headquarters Troops’ personnel are issued the M5A1 9mm carbine, with a number of M452 6mm gauss machineguns and other light support weapons on issue for local security.

M7A1 Special Operations Carbine

A 10mm gauss carbine, selectable for fire at subsonic velocities to reduce signature, and fitted to a cut down version of the standard American magazine-fed 30mm grenade launcher, the M7A1 is in widespread service with SOCOM units.  In the 3d ACR, it is the primary self-defense weapon issued to vehicle crews.  The weapon is equipped with an EOVS-7 close combat sight, providing day and night (thermal) channel observation with a x1-4 variable power zoom and a wide angle field of vision for rapid target acquisition.

Type: 10mm gauss assault carbine with integral 30mm grenade launcher, Country:  USA, Texas, Weight (Empty): 4 kg, Length: 72 cm (Bulk = 2), Action:  Single Shot or Bursts, Ammunition: 10x20mm Flechette, Muzzle Velocity: 600 mps (320 mps suppressed), Magazine: 50 round box magazine, with integral power cell, Magazine Weight: 0.8 kg (0.65kg for subsonic only magazines), ROF: 5, Aimed Fire Range:  300 meters (150 meters suppressed), Area Fire Burst: 10 rounds (AFV = 1) (AFV=1.5 suppressed), Area Fire Range: 180 meters (90 meters suppressed), DP Value: 0.7 (0.4 suppressed), Price: Lv 500 (Lv2 for 50 round magazine, Lv4 for subsonic only magazines)

M112 Gauss Offensive Handgun System

A very recent addition to the American arsenal, the M112 is one of the first gauss handguns to enter widespread military usage.  The M112 fires the same 10x20mm round as the M7A1 carbine (though magazines are not compatible) and is also selectable for subsonic fire.  Integral optics include a reflex sight and an infrared laser aiming module.  The weapon includes an integral telescoping stock to allow greater accuracy when used at longer ranges.  The primary drawback to the weapon is its weight, though 3d ACR vehicle crews have taken to it enthusiastically.

Type: 10mm gauss automatic pistol, Country: United States, Weight (Empty, with Optics): 1.5kg, Length: 20cm (Bulk = 0) (35cm with stock extended, Bulk = 0), Action: Single Shot, Ammunition: 10x20mm gauss, Muzzle Velocity: 375mps (high velocity), 265mps (low velocity), Magazine: 15 or 20 round box with integral power cell, Magazine Weight: 0.3kg (15 round), 0.4kg (20 round), ROF: 4, Aimed Fire Range: 90 meters (high velocity, with shoulder stock extended 180 meters), 70 meters (low velocity, 110 meters with shoulder stock extended), Area Fire Burst: 3 rounds (AFV = 0.25, high velocity, 0.3 low velocity), Area Fire Range: 55 meters (high velocity, 120m with stock extended), 40 meters (low velocity, 75m with stock extended), DP Value: 0.5 (high velocity), 0.4 (low velocity),  Price: Lv 425 (Lv2 for 15 round disposable magazine, Lv3 for 20 round disposable magazine)

M5A1 9mm Assault Carbine

A slightly shortened version of the standard American issue M5 assault rifle, in service with SOCOM units.  The M5A1 is issued as a personal weapon to the bulk of the regiment’s support personnel in maintenance units, etc.  The weapon is fitted with the standard EOVS-27A1 electro-optical sight, with x1-8 variable power magnification and broad-EM spectrum sensitivity for day and night observation.

Type: 9mm Binary carbine with integral 30mm grenade launcher, Country: USA, Weight (Empty): 3.8 kg, Length: 70 cm (Bulk = 2), Action: Single Shot or Bursts,  Ammunition: 9x11mm APHE, Muzzle Velocity: 773 mps (area fire 400mps), Magazine: 50 round box with integral propellant bottle.  Separate catalyst bottle with charge for 600 aimed shots or 200 area fire bursts, Catalyst Bottle Weight: 0.1 kg,  Magazine Weight: 0.5kg, ROF: 3 (area fire 5), Aimed Fire Range: 550 meters, Area Fire Burst: 10 rounds (AFV = 1.5), Area Fire Range:  275 meters, DP Value: 1.0 (0.5 area fire), Price: Lv565 (Lv3 for 50 round disposable magazine, Lv2 for recharge bottle)

M452 6mm Gauss Light Machinegun

The current issue American light support weapon, replacing the venerable M99 conventional light machinegun in service.  The M452 fires a 4.98g 6x18mm tungsten/composite round at sufficient velocity to penetrate modern body armor at all practical battlefield ranges.  It is fitted with the EOVS-29 machinegun optics, improved versions of those used on the standard M4 and M5 rifles with superior magnification (x1-10) and incorporates a variable rate of fire for automatic use, being selectable for a 500, 700, or 900rpm cyclic rate.  In the 3d Cavalry, the weapon is issued to support personnel for perimeter security and similar applications, as well as being used on SOACAV platforms.

Type: 6mm gauss light machinegun, Country: United States, Weight (Empty, with Optics): 4.3 kg, Length: 97cm (Bulk = 3), Action: Single Shot or Bursts, Ammunition: 6x18mm flechette, Muzzle Velocity: 1250 mps, Magazine: 50, 100, and 200 round cassettes with integral power cells, Magazine Weight: 1kg (50 round), 2kg (100 round), 4kg (200 rounds), ROF: 5, Aimed Fire Range: 1000 meters (1600 meters on tripod or vehicular mount), Area Fire Burst: 10, 15, or 20 rounds (AFV = 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0 depending on ROF), Area Fire Range: 750 meters (1600 meters on tripod or vehicular mount), DP Value: 1.1, Price: Lv 1100 (Lv2 for 50 round disposable magazine, Lv4 and Lv8 for 100 and 200 round disposable magazines, respectively, for larger capacity vehicular mounts, Lv3 per 100 rounds)

15 Jul 2004

Copyright 2004, James Boschma