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The Optimal Battle Group vs. the Affiliated Battle Group

warrickdll

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The Army’s consistent use of either a Battle Group, or a supported Infantry battalion, for 50 years should have led to an organizational change at some point. It isn’t that the Army is constantly being asked to deploy 1.5 frigates; it’s that, to over use the analogy, the Army is using a frigate that is 1.5 times larger than is required.

The Infantry battalion, in my opinion, seems too large - as are the Regimental units of other Branches.  What would be better is to reinforce the company level units; increasing their combat, HQ and CSS capabilities. Or to view it a different way – dramatically decrease the size of battalion units.
All this ends at something similar to the OBG. This is what we actually use (but not organize as).

This would lead to the end of the Brigade Group, but it itself was only ever a breakdown of a Division’s assets.

 

a_majoor

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Iterator said:
The Army’s consistent use of either a Battle Group, or a supported Infantry battalion, for 50 years should have led to an organizational change at some point. It isn’t that the Army is constantly being asked to deploy 1.5 frigates; it’s that, to over use the analogy, the Army is using a frigate that is 1.5 times larger than is required.

The Infantry battalion, in my opinion, seems too large - as are the Regimental units of other Branches.  What would be better is to reinforce the company level units; increasing their combat, HQ and CSS capabilities. Or to view it a different way – dramatically decrease the size of battalion units.
All this ends at something similar to the OBG. This is what we actually use (but not organize as).

This would lead to the end of the Brigade Group, but it itself was only ever a breakdown of a Division’s assets.

What you seem to be proposing is a turn of the wheel back to the '80's vintage Mech Infantry Battalion but expanding the Combat Support and CSS Coys capabilities (and perhaps size). Substitute an artillery battery for 81mm mortars, a Tank Troop for the AAP and we are starting to get towards the idea of the composite combined arms unit......This would allow the deployment of fully capable company combat teams which I think is where you are suggesting we go.

Combined with the next generation of smart weapons and a capable C3I system, and we are also looking at a form of "Dispersed Operations" that the Marines are advocating (not sure if DO is Dispersed Operations or not, but you get the idea).
 

McG

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I like that Land Ops 2021 talks of "the optimized formation and its battle groups" as the model that we are working toward.  It also talks of the brigades being composed of modular battle groups.  The FE product would be OBGs, but my read of the document does not suggest the FG structure will necissarily be built on OBGs. 

To this end, I see the essence of the internationally deployable army as 9 identical OBGs.  These would be produced from 9 identical ABGs based on each of the regular force infantry battalions.  However, the Army’s regimental structure would not need to be changed as a FG base.  Through a FG optimized brigade, it would still be possible to surge an armoured BG, reconnaissance BG or CER for a short period.  Alternately, each FG optimized brigade could provide all the components to deploy a brigade on an operation.

One fully committed FG optimized brigade could provide up to either one of the following deployed capabilities:
[*] 3 x FE OBGs
[*] 1 x FE CMBG
 

vonGarvin

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Iterator said:
The Army’s consistent use of either a Battle Group, or a supported Infantry battalion, for 50 years should have led to an organizational change at some point. It isn’t that the Army is constantly being asked to deploy 1.5 frigates; it’s that, to over use the analogy, the Army is using a frigate that is 1.5 times larger than is required.
The Infantry battalion, in my opinion, seems too large - as are the Regimental units of other Branches.  What would be better is to reinforce the company level units; increasing their combat, HQ and CSS capabilities. Or to view it a different way – dramatically decrease the size of battalion units.
All this ends at something similar to the OBG. This is what we actually use (but not organize as).
I disagree to some extent.  Let us not forget that for almost 40 of those 50 years we had a Brigade and then Brigade Group permanently deployed.
As for a smaller battalion, I would argue for larger.  What's the point of having bags and bags of "supporting elements" when you have no elements to support?  "God is on the side with the big battalions" (or words to that effect) were muttered years ago, and yes, in a different context; however, size matters.  A robust, large battalion, with the requisite support should be, in my opinion, the baseline for an army of our size and capability.  If we as an army focus on the sub-unit (company/battery/squadron), then we truly have jumped the shark.
 

Kirkhill

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I'm with Iterator.

The fundamental building block of operations is unchanging for the last couple of millenia.  It is the Company of 100 to 200 bodies led by a Captain.

Their internal structure has changed. (Maniples, Sections, Firings, Pelotons, Platoons).  Their equipment has changed (no need to go there I think).  Their transport has changed (foot, horse, boat, truck or helicopter).

The way in which they have been amalgamated into usable forces has changed (legions, tercios, columns, regiments, battalions - with ever higher levels of complexity between them and the Commander-in-Chief).

The Company is unchanging.  That says something about internal cohesion and effective force size.  Everything else is just mucking about.

How do you buy your nails?  By the penny, by the pound, by the dozen or by the clip? You are still buying nails - devices for hammering two blocks of wood together.

If the Company is to be used in different groupings to perform different tasks then it seems to me that the simple solution is repetition - ie training.

If there is a need for the Company to do many things then spend the money and train them to do many things until they run out of daylight to learn all the things they need to do.  Then start specializing.

As I understand the current situation the biggest, continuing problem is a lack of money to train the bodies you do have in all the skills that they are capable of learning. You also have a shortage of bodies in each of the designated Companies - be they Companies of Infanteers, Engineers, Gunners, Tankers or Pilots.  But that too comes down to money.

Why not go all the way back to the origin of the Regiment - a holding ground for a number of Companies trained to a common standard - with the Battalion being a tactical formation organized under elements of the Regimental Command structure according to need?  Constant training with affiliated Companies of different Arms for a limited number or specific tasks would surely result in the necessary proficiency as well as cohesion and confidence?

Any reason not to support a 10 Company Regiment comprised of a Light Recce Company and 9 Line Companies?  Then organize the Company internally along the lines suggested by our Uberly Sensitive but Seldomly Sensible Hauptmann (or whatever name he is going by today  ;D). That would effectively parcel out the old Grenadier Company amongst the Line Companies along with an appropriate allocation of the Regimental Baggage Train.
 

ArmyRick

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Does anyone DIN links to web sites describing the ABG structures? Also, if I am not mistaken I beleive on eof the units is already ear marked to stand up as a permament BG (I don't know if its clasified so I won't say wich battalion it is).

My opinion? I am going to p*ss some of you off. TOUGH!

We are fighting battles now in afghanistan. Lets stand up these battle groups and leave them as they are. When a BG CO needs an engineer squadron or an arty, it should be there for him. I have had long conversations with people back from the recent tours in 'stan (F echelon types not KAF types). I am basing my opinion alot on what they have told me is going on over there.

The structure should be built around maneouver units.
 

warrickdll

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
I disagree to some extent.  Let us not forget that for almost 40 of those 50 years we had a Brigade and then Brigade Group permanently deployed. ...

I would state that the CMBG was based in Germany, proximal to its expected area of deployment, not deployed. But I don’t doubt that the Army was planning on deploying the Brigade Group structure; at least until Divisions could be generated (the CMBG itself was mostly just the Optimized Force degenerated from a Division).


Mortarman Rockpainter said:
...As for a smaller battalion, I would argue for larger.  What's the point of having bags and bags of "supporting elements" when you have no elements to support?  "God is on the side with the big battalions" (or words to that effect) were muttered years ago, and yes, in a different context; however, size matters.  A robust, large battalion, with the requisite support should be, in my opinion, the baseline for an army of our size and capability.  If we as an army focus on the sub-unit (company/battery/squadron), then we truly have jumped the shark.

To some extent, I disagree. Or at least view it differently.
I believe the OBG is the correct formation of units for our Army. It is the correct size for what we can both deploy and sustain, and should be formalized.

Once the OBG is formalized there will be little need for the Battalion as a manoeuvre unit (or anything else). Mechanized Infantry should have always been organized much more like an old Tank squadron, for dispersed and independent deployment, with the addition of real organic CS, CSS, and HQ elements.

The formalized OBG doesn`t create extra, it just allows for the rationalization of what you already have. In the end you have the OBG and the new manoeuvre units (the expanded former subunits).

The OBG can be viewed as either a small brigade or as a large battalion. The new manoeuvre units can be viewed as either small battalions or as large companies. Either way, it is still a more realistic organization for the Army.
 

blacktriangle

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I'm quite interested in this discussion, and there is one thing I'd like to know...

I remember being told once that recce sqn's are generally a brigade level asset, but has there not been a full recce squadron on each roto of BG size? Is there more then one sqn in each CMBG?
 

McG

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popnfresh said:
I remember being told once that recce sqn's are generally a brigade level asset, but has there not been a full recce squadron on each roto of BG size?
No.  There has not been. 1-06 had one troop, and the link above suggests that is still what is overthere.
 

blacktriangle

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MCG said:
No.  There has not been. 1-06 had one troop, and the link above suggests that is still what is overthere.

Thanks for the clarification, it makes alot more sense numbers wise.  :salute:
 

Mortar guy

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MCG said:
No.  There has not been. 1-06 had one troop, and the link above suggests that is still what is overthere.

Not quite accurate. ISTAR Sqn is quite a bit bigger than the lone troop you saw on 1-06.

MG
 

blacktriangle

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Mortar guy said:
Not quite accurate. ISTAR Sqn is quite a bit bigger than the lone troop you saw on 1-06.

MG

So, if not OPSEC, what is the Sqn composed of? Not looking for anything to specific, just a general idea...
 

Mortar guy

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Bigger. At least two troops, plus a Sqn HQ. I can't give you much more than that.

MG
 

pbi

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CSA is right on this. There was, several years ago, an idea to form an actual "ISTAR unit" but it was realized that in a modern BG or Bde there are so many functioning sources of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and recce, and so many different types of targets, that this just wasn't practical. At Kingston we present ISTAR to the students as an integrating function in the HQ that provides the comd and staff with a kind of "all source" integration centre for tactical information. ISTAR (doctrinally anyway) doesn't have the power to task the assets out on the ground without the G3 or Ops O getting involved: it doesn't "own" Recce Sqn, or Recce Pl, or UAV, etc.

As for Recce Sqns deploying: during the ISAF rotos in Kabul, there was a Recce Sqn or Sqn minus, grouped with Inf Recce and snipers, as part of the TF. For a while it was Cda's only manouevre contribution to ISAF. Since then, Recce is normally a component of the BG, more or less, but usually a lot more than one troop.

As a note, the Inf BG that we teach here has a Recce Sqn in it, so that students get used to the idea of integrating it into the BG ops. The idea that something will strictly be only a bde asset or div asset or whatever is disappearing: tactical grouping will reflect what is needed to get the job done in each situation.

Cheers
 

tomahawk6

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RSTA squadrons are organic to all of our BCT's. The link below gives a good overview of the composition of a US Cav RSTA. I wasnt real keen on each BCT losing a rifle battalion in favor of a RSTA squadron but I have grudgingly seen some merit to the concept. In a perfect world we could have both. :)

http://www.14cav.org/rsta.html

Manning the RSTA squadrons with trained leaders are a top priority.

https://www.benning.army.mil/rtb/new_lrsc/article2.htm

The long-range surveillance community is racing to produce enough soldiers to man one-third of all ground maneuver battalions with reconnaissance soldiers.

To meet the projected need, recon instructors will have to nearly triple their current output of 400 troops a year.

Driving the growth is Army Transformation from division-centric operations to a lighter, more mobile force built around brigade combat teams. The Army has planned for 42 active BCTs to be stood up by 2007, each including a Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition squadron.

The RSTA teams are seen as vital in the fight against terrorists, guerrillas and other unconventional enemy forces.

“Reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition is a highly important task in any type of military operation, but that is particularly true when you’re conducting a counterintelligence campaign such as in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Ka

One of the most significant new areas of training is in the use of digital surveillance systems to collect images and data that can be transmitted almost simultaneously for analysis hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Until now, LRS soldiers were observers who reported back to military intelligence battalions without engaging the enemy. Now, the capability and authority of RSTA soldiers to strike is similar to what the original Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol units had in Vietnam. What’s different is the quick turnaround time of the digital systems versus analog technology. The time to analyze field data significantly accelerated, shortening the time needed to process information and decide what action to take.

With the surveillance equipment, soldiers can digitally send detailed information down to a 10-degree grid coordinate. They also can send pictures of entry points, people, buildings and descriptions of the security environment or a neighborhood.

 

blacktriangle

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I think this has been touched upon before, but...

If each BG was to deploy with an armd recce sqn, would it not make sense in an ideal army to have an entire regt in each CMBG devoted to recce? As well as another regt devoted to DFS/Tanks? That way each BG could deploy with a tank and recce sqn? I realize this is currently impossible with equip and manning issues, but would that be a good idea at some point? Thanks for any input...
 

TangoTwoBravo

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A rose by any other name is still a rose.  Calling a Recce Sqn an ISTAR Sqn does not change anything, and as long as their is an ISTAR Coordination Centre at the supported HQ I am ambivalent.  I've been in both a Recce Sqn and an ISTAR company.  The change in name meant much less than the loss of the sqn echelon. 

Force Generation for the robust battle groups we have overseas is a tough issue.  It would make sense for each Infantry Battalion to have an affiliated recce sqn, tank sqn, engineer sqn and artillery battery.  That is easier said than done.

As for unit size, the lines between unit, brigade and division have gotten a little blurred.  The sizes of Areas of Operations combined with dispersed operations and enablers pushed to very low levels means that old distinctions don't mean as much.  There are things at Battle Group that used to be the domain of Brigade, and this carries down to company CPs.

 

blacktriangle

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CSA 105 said:
popnfresh, ref an entire Regt in each CMBG devoted to recce?  What do you think 2 and 5 Brigade have right now?  Well, except for the single tank that the RCD just received..

I realize this, but I meant would it not be beneficial to have a full regt (assuming 3 sqns each) of both tanks and recce veh's so that each inf bn would have what it needs? without robbing peter to pay paul etc...sorry for the lack of clarity on my part.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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CSA 105 said:
Yes, but the name is stupid.  You can say "what's in a name" - OK, let's get rid of PPCLI, RCR, R22eR, RCD, 12eRBC, LdSH and call ourselves "Combat Arms Manoeuvre Units 1-6".  We don't play that game there - let's not play it with our recce squadrons. 

ISTAR is a process.  It's not a "thing".  It's not a 'tactical grouping".  You can't "ISTAR" something.  You can't haul the "ISTAR" up to the top of a hill, push the start button and then know everything.  You don't go to the QM to sign for an "ISTAR".  It's like calling the recce squadrons "surveillance squadrons" - another bullshit anomaly name for a unit type that not only is a misnomer, but does not exist!

The question is why do we persist in a naming convention stupidity that is at odds with our own doctrine and doesn't reflect what the thing does?  For those who will point out that the US has "RSTA" units - so what, apples and crowbars - will we get rid of Sqn/Tp nomenclature for our tank and engineer units?  Just because the US/UK/Australia/whoever does something does not make it right for us.

I think that you are arguing the name to an extreme.  Sub-unit names are sub-unit names, and nobody talked about getting rid of Regiments when they called it ISTAR Company or Squadron.  The Dragoons in ISTAR Company still wore Springboks.  We changed our organization on a fairly frequent basis.  I think that we were really a Recce Sqn with attachments and no echelon, but hey, no big deal to me.

I think that the Armoured Corps tried to go a little too far about four years ago in an attempt to preserve its existence through the ISTAR bit.  The guns went through the same thing with the UAVs.  Suddenly people have their real jobs to do.

Going back to ISTAR Company, we were a collection of ISTAR collectors, and we were not the only collectors. The important part of the ISTAR process was the Coordination Centre which wasn't even part of us.  I'm comfortable with the ISTAR process, and once again I think that we have bigger fish to fry than sub-unit names. 
 

Infanteer

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Naming conventions aside (I am not sure if naming a sub-unit after a process or a function is a key issue here) one of the most interesting arguments I've seen to date, both on these forums and in the Army Journal, on the Affiliated Battle Group at this point in time is the need to shrink to grow.  The goal of fixing the "hollow Army" while at the same time prosecuting a warfighting operation overseas seems to produce conflicting effects on our units (ie: plug'n'play BG's, centralizing core unit functions in order to manage resources, etc, etc).

The notion of "shrinking to grow" is that we are, to paraphrase General Eric Shinseki, fighting a 9 battlegroup war with a 6 battlegroup Army.  By organizing, employing, and managing our forces as if we can sustain nine robust Battlegroups, perhaps we are creating unnecessary friction within our operational units (this is as much a question as a statement).

The "shrink to grow" idea has us reduce the regular force infantry establishment to 6 battalions.  I would imagine this would entail reducing the 3 Battalions to "zero strength".  This is done for two reasons:

1.  Our nine battalions struggle to put together full strength rifle companies.  This forces them to - as we've seen, from ROTO 1 in Kandahar on, we've had a confusing array of sub-units pasted together to form a fighting unit.

2.  Irregardless of "bayonet strength", a battalion requires personnel to fill key administrative and support positions.  Requiring these positions be filled for battalions that can barely scrape together two full companies (which can, at times, be "ghost companies" with most pers away on course or supporting the training establishment) puts additional strain on our manning situation.

So, we have six battalions, but we ensure that each one is manned with 4 rifle companies manned to 100% (this is both our doctrinal amount and that required by a "Robust TF" such as Afghanistan).  This puts 3 Infantry LtCols and CWOs out of the job, as well as 3 Majors and MWOs as the Infantry has went from (theoretically) 27 rifle companies to 24 full-strength, real ones.  Hopefully, there is some additional manpower (PY's) in the cut to allow us to fill out some key functions we've been missing such as Combat Support or sub-unit echelons.  As well, the Battalion's Admin company could be filled out, recognizing that it will serve as the foundation for Task Forces deployed abroad.

The Affiliated Battle Group concept gives leads us to the next logical step - since our Task Forces are to be built around Infantry Battalions, I could see the other Branches of a CMBG organized around the principle of shrink to grow.  The Artillery and the Engineers - usually the smaller of the Combat Arms units, could form their Regiments around two very robust sub-units and perhaps some niche capabilities that are farmed out as needed.  Each of these robust sub-units "affiliates" with one of the remaining battalions.  Each Armoured Regiment, with both its recce and armoured (DFS) sub-units, may be forced to create more.  It would have its two affiliated "robust" Armoured Recce Squadrons as well as 1 (or hopefully 2, so they could be affiliated as well).  There appears to be minimal savings in the Armoured Corps under the "shrink to grow" concept, so perhaps they would need priority on new PYs.  Naturally, the Service battalions and Field Ambs would use the same concept to organize, using the concept of "affiliation" and "robust sub-unit" packages to be plugged into deploying Task Forces.

As the institutional "main effort" right now is to fill out the hollow Army, these units would continue to take in new recruits and perhaps man their sub-units to 115% or create additional sub-units as needed.  When a critical mass is reached, the excess can be broken off and the 3rd Battalions stood up again, with corresponding increases in the other arms used to create robust "affiliated" sub-units.  Until this point, the Army can provide, with minimal shuffling and "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul", 6 full strength Battlegroups to CEFCOM as needed.  Managed readiness would dictate that these would deploy once every 3 years (with 6 months at "heightened readiness" as strategic reserve).  Whats more, by sucking back to reload, and going for the idea of fewer but better units, these Battlegroups would be more self-sufficient and make less demands to dig deep into the institutional Army to fill out NSE and NCE structures.

Shrinking to grow may seem regressive and antithetical to the governments plans to expand the military, but it may be the best short term solution for long term success.
 
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