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Author Topic: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?  (Read 524 times)

Offline SJWi

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Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« on: November 08, 2021, 05:55:37 AM »
Good morning, in readiness for the BG CENTAG book hopefully later this year or early 2022, I am planning to build a 1/300 US battlegroup set in circa 1984. As colleagues already have masses of M60s and M113s, I intend to go with the early 105mm armed M1 and the M2/M3. However I've run into difficulties finding the basics of the US TO&E/ORBAT.

Can anyone help in explaining the organisation of the tank and infantry company, plus what supporting kit they would have ( eg recce, AA, engineering)?

Thanks in anticipation.

   

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2021, 07:40:56 AM »
I reckon Cap'n Jim will give you the most comprehensive answer.  Probably worth setting a time  frame for the mech inf as the platoon structure for the Bradleys changed a couple of times.

I think the M1 platoons and companies stayed pretty stable throughout the period, with 3X four tank platoons and  two M1s at CHQ for the coy Cmdr and XO (Coy 2iC).

The basic J-Series Mechanized infantry battalion had a Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), four rifle companies and a Anti-Armour company with 12 X M901 ITVs. Within the HHC for the J-series battalions there were mortar and scout platoons, mortars being either M-125 or M106.

The name of the game was 'Teams' so  right down to company sized teams could/ would be formed on a mix and match basis, depending on tasking. By way of example you could have an armour heavy company team with two tank platoons and a Bradley platoon or vice versa. Teams might get a slice of supporting weapons from within the battalion, mortars, M901's etc. They might even be augmented with assets from brigade or division, again, dependent on tasking.

Because the Bradley was too cramped to accommodate the standard rifle squad and its own crew, there was a bit of faffing around with the internal make up of the platoons. They first tried reducing the squad size to six dismounts per vehicle. In the late 'eighties they moved back to a 9 man squad but with only two squads per platoon with each Bradley fielding a fireteam.

There's a pretty good paper on the history of US squad organisation here:

https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA293440.pdf

Discussion of the Bradley squad kicks in around page 20.



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Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2021, 04:21:42 PM »
Okay.  Bear with me.  This might be a bit long (Carlos covered some of this - thanks!)....

And for SJWi's sake, I was a tank platoon leader in the US Army's 2-64 Armor, 3rd Inf. Div., in Germany from 1984 through 1987.  As Carlos mentioned, in 1984, the US Army had switched over to the J-Series TO&E.  The primary change in maneuver battalions was the addition of a 4th tank company in tank battalions, the addition of a 4th mech infantry company in mech infantry battalions, and the creation of an AT company in mech infantry battalions.  Also, old Combat Support companies were folded into the Headquarters/Headquarters Companies (HHCs) of the maneuver battalions.

Armor units

I'll start with armor battalions.  An armor battalion had an HHC and 4 tank companies.  Each tank company had 3 platoons of 4 tanks each, as well as 2 tanks at the Company HQ (for the CO and the XO).  in 1984, we had the original version of the M1 (we didn't get the M1IP until 1985, nor the M1A1 until 1987).  And units of the 8th ID still had M60A3s as late as 1985...  The company HQ also had an M577 command track, an M113 (the 1SG's track), 2 jeeps, and a 2-1/2 ton truck.  In the field, the battalion HHC would attach the company maintenance team (with an M88 recovery vehicle and a 2-1/2 ton box truck), and the company medical section with an M113.

The tank battalion's HHC had the battalion headquarters, along with the battalion's support platoon (with cargo and fuel trucks), and maintenance and medical sections.  Combat-power-wise, the battalion HHC also had a scout platoon, with 3 M113s and 3 M901 ITVs (we didn't get M3 Bradleys until 1985).  Each M113 had 3 dismount scouts.  The HHC also had a mortar platoon, with a battery of 6 M107 mortar carriers (with 4.2" mortars).  The scouts and mortars always operated as separate units, and were never directly attached to the tank companies.  The mortars were available for fire missions, however.

Mech infantry units

A mech infantry battalion (pre-M2 Bradley) had an HHC, 4 mech infantry companies, and an AT (anti-tank) company.  Each mech infantry company had 3 platoons of 4 M113s each, as well as 2 M113s at the Company HQ (for the CO and 1SG).  Each mech infantry company also had an AT section, with 2 M901 ITVs.  The company HQ also had an M577 command track, 2 jeeps, and a 2-1/2 ton truck.  In the field, the battalion HHC would attach the company maintenance team (with an M88 recovery vehicle and a 2-1/2 ton box truck), and the company medical team with an M113.

Each mech infantry platoon, besides the 4 tracks, had a platoon HQ and 3 rifle squads.  Each squad had 9 men (on paper, anyway...), of which 2 crewed the M113.  Each squad also had access to an M60 MG and a Dragon ATBM.   2 men from the platoon HQ also crewed the 4th track.

The mech battalion's HHC had the battalion headquarters, along with the battalion's support platoon (with cargo and fuel trucks), and the maintenance and medical sections.  Combat-power-wise, the battalion HHC also had a scout platoon, with 3 M113s and 3 M901 ITVs (they didn't get M3 Bradleys until very late 1984 or 1985).  Each M113 had 3 dismount scouts.  The HHC also had a mortar platoon, with a battery of 6 M107 mortar carriers (with 4.2" mortars).  The scouts and mortars always operated as separate units, and were never directly attached to the tank companies.  The mortars were available for fire missions, however.

Divisions and brigades

In 1984, US Army heavy divisions were almost identical.  The only real difference was the proportion of armor battalions to mech infantry battalions.  Armored divisions had 5 armor battalions and 4 mech infantry battalions, while Infantry divisions were vice versa.  Except the 3rd Infantry Division, which had 5 of each. 

Heavy divisions had a Divisional cavalry squadron (in 1984, they had 4 troops of 3 scout platoons each, IIRC), a Divisional Combat Engineer battalion (with 4 companies or 3 platoons each, riding in M113s - they also had access to 5-ton dump trucks and M728 CEVs), a Divisional artillery battalion (with 3 8-gun batteries of M109s, and FO teams that were attached to the maneuver battalions), an air defence artillery battalion, with M163s and Chaparral missiles, and a forward support battalion (logistics and maintenance).

The maneuver battalions were grouped in 3s into brigades.  Each brigade included both mech infantry and armor battalions.  The Brigade HHC were pretty much limited to the brigade commander and staff.  Any direct support the maneuver battalion received usually came from Division assets.

Task forces and teams

The US Army at the time was using task forces and teams.  Task forces were battalion-based organizations.  Typically a tank battalion and a mech infantry battalion in the same brigade would swap companies.  So, as a result, there would be a battalion with 3 tank companies and a mech infantry company, and a battalion of vice versa.   Teams were company-based organizations, where an infantry company and a tank company from the same task force would swap platoons.

Mission-specific assets could be attached to the task force, such as an ADA platoon (usually M163 Vulcan vehicles) from the Divisional ADA battalion, or an engineer platoon (perhaps with an M728 CEV) from the divisional engineer battalion.  These assets were not usually assigned down to team level, but could be, depending on mission requirements.  Artillery assets, not even battalion mortars, were never co-located with maneuver companies and platoons.  Company commanders and platoon leaders could, however, call for fire missions, with availability and timing depending on direct support status, and assigned priorities of fires.  Scout and cavalry platoons weren't attached to teams, as they were busy doing their missions for their parent organizations. 

I know this was a bit long, but I hope it was helpful.  The important thing here is that, as I recall, no US Army units had M2/M3 Bradleys (or Humvees, for that matter) in USAREUR in 1984.  Some stateside units had M2/M3s (a mech battalion in the 2nd ID - the first to get them - got them in mid-1983).  They would come later in Europe (beats me why so late...), in very late 1984 and 1985.  As such, for the time period you are looking at, you'll need M113s for your infantry.  As Carlos alluded to, the TO&E of Bradley-equipped infantry was kinda fluid until the Division 86 TO&Es came out.  I can take a stab at it, but it's really outside your timeframe...

And if you'd like, I can also go over the organization of the Armored Cavalry Regiment....there were 2 of them in USAREUR at the time (one for each US Corps), and they had a lot of combat power for a brigade-sized unit. :D
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 05:45:22 PM by CapnJim »
"Remember - Incoming Fire Has the Right-of-Way"

Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2021, 05:41:08 PM »
Oh yeah, let's not forget the aviation battalion each heavy division had.  Each Divisional aviation battalion had 3 attack helicopter companies, each with (in 1984) AH1s and OH58s.   It also had a transport helicopter company with UH1s.  While the aviation assets weren't typically attached directly to maneuver battalions,, they were available in a similar fashion as artillery assets.  Calls for aviation support had availability and timing based on assigned direct support status and priorities of fires.

As I recall, AH64s and UH60s came later, as late as 1986 for the AH64s.

Offline SJWi

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2021, 06:35:16 PM »
Chaps, many thanks for the rapid and detailed replies. The only books I have on the topic are the Zaloga Osprey books which give lots of details about the development programmes and then leap forward to the Gulf War and actual combat.

I did rather have my heart set on M2/M3s as I have plenty of "battle taxis" with M113s and FV432s with my other forces. I have some colour plates showing 3rd Infantry Division M2s during Reforger-84 so I guess they were in use?

Looking at what you have all said I think a Company of 14 M1s plus 13 (?) M2s may be in order, with support options being M901ITVs, M106 mortar carriers plus some M577 Command APCs. I would also need some "small softskins" but don't know it these would be M151 MUTTs or Humvees?

If you think I am way off  and about to build an anachronistic force, happy to take more sage advice.

Cheers.

PS Yes, I will buy a Huey Cobra. I already have an A10 Warthog in my metal stash somewhere!   

Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2021, 09:22:50 PM »
Not way off.  Not at all.  Particularly if you sniggle the timeframe forward just a smidge (late '84 or early '85).  By then. USAREUR units were equipped with M2s in the infantry units, and M3s in the scout and cavalry platoons.  And most of the tank battalions had M1s by then, with some M1IPs (The big exterior difference is the extended rear bustle rack (which we loved!).

And yes - 14 M1s in a tank company.  And 14 M2s.  The TO&E for M2-equipped  mech infantry company gave the Company XO his very own M2 as well.  Company XOs in both tank and M2 Mech infantry companies split their time between their respective AFVs and the M577s in the company TOCs.  And no ITVs.  M2-equipped companies lost their ITVs, as the M2 had anti-armor capability with the TOW2 launchers.  And no M106s that far forward.  They would be "off-board" indirect fire assets.  In my experience, battalions (both tank and infantry) pretty much always deployed them in their 6-tube batteries, back just a bit from the FEBA.

And even in '85 "small softskins" were still the M151A1 MUTT.  We didn't get our Humvees until at least '86.

And paint everything forest green.  I know that's boring, but all the M1s, M2s, M577s, M113s, M151s, and M35s (2-1/2 tons) were all straight green, at least in 3rd ID.  Our GOERs and Gamma-Goats in the support platoons were 4-color camo, though.  NATO 3-color came in when we got M1A1s in '87.

Offline SJWi

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2021, 06:03:07 AM »
Capn Jim, thanks for this 1st hand data.  I will go with what you suggest. To be honest my "date" isn't hard and fast. I want to set it before the advent of the Challenger in BAOR and the 120mm-armed M1A1.

I'm intrigued by the comment on the ITVs. Various other books including Zaloga still have them in the ORBAT, but I'll go with what you say. I think I'm now sorted as far as vehicles goes. I will probably get the M106s if only for eye candy on the baseline!

Can you advise as to the infantry platoon ORBAT. The introduction of the M2 seems to have led to some interesting problems in the platoon.  From what I can discern 4 M2s carried a three section platoon. Each section had a rifle fire team and an M249 group? I also presume that as a  1-man weapon the Dragon was just carried as an integral part of the rifle team.

Finally, when did the camouflage uniform and PASGT helmet come into service? Again looking at my now aged books it would seem that the "woodland" uniform was in service in the early '80s but the M1 helmet soldiered on. My books only show photos of PASGT in the later '80s.

Again, thanks for your help. It is much appreciated. 
   

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2021, 08:08:14 AM »
The woodlands BDU# were introduced in late 1981.  M1 pots certainly soldiered on in some units into the mid to late eighties but mostly replaced by the mid ‘eighties in active units, at least judging by period photos.

The K-pot and PASGT vests seems to have been prioritised for rapid deployment type forces. Photos of Grenada in 1983 show the 82nd airborne fully kitted out in PASGT gear. By contrast the Rangers were in M1 steel helmets and Vietnam era green jungle fatigues.

Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2021, 07:00:52 PM »
the Mech Infantry battalion still had their ITVs when they switched over to M2s.  If the rifle companies kept their ITV section, the infantry officers I worked with didn't mention them.  They had them in 2000, but I don't think the rifle companies had them when the Bradley was first fielded.   And as you mention, they were typically used in a stand-off anti-armor role.  It's not impossible, but it's unlikely ITVs were right up front with the infantry companies.  Note that the TOW2s (ITV or Bradley fired) had a max effective range of over 3500 meters, but it took 19 seconds for the missile to fly that far...

Re: the BDUs and Kevlar helmets.  Carlos has it right.  My National Guard unit got BDUs issued in late 1982 or early 1983, with Woodland camo M1 helmet covers.  They didn't get the Kevlar helmet until 1984, just before I went on active duty.  And 3rd ID had BDUs and Kevlars when I got there in 1984.

Please note that some of my information is based on my memory, and some on my references.  FWIW...


Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2021, 07:24:06 PM »
Re: the mech infantry TO7E when they first fielded the Bradley, as mentioned before, there was quite a bit of flux in that until the Division 86 structure was introduced.  Frankly, even after discussing it with the infantry officers, it was hard to figure out.  But here goes, at least for late '84/early '85:

Each platoon had 4 M2 Bradleys, each with a dedicated crew of 3.  The Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and 2 vehicle section leaders were the track commanders, and each track also had a gunner and a driver.  When the platoon dismounted, the Platoon Leader usually dismounted as well, while the Platoon Sergeant stayed in his track.  The Platoon Leader commanded the whole shebang, and in particular the dismounted elements, and the Platoon Sergeant commanded the vehicles while the platoon was dismounted.

In terms of dismounts, the Bradley initially only had room for 7 dismounts per track, for a total of up to 28 dismounted infantry.  IIRC, originally it was the Plt Ldr, his RTO, a medic and an artillery FO team (when they rode with the platoon), and 3 7-man dismount squads, each with a squad leader, a 3-man rifle team (who could deploy the squad's Dragon ATGM), and a 2nd 3-man fire team with the M60 (or an M249 when they were fielded in late '84/early '85).  Both fire teams also had M203 grenade launchers.  This was quite fluid, particularly keeping in mind that infantry and tank units in USAREUR hovered around 90-95% personnel strength in the 80s.  Rarely were units at 100% strength. 

The 9-man squad, with a squad leader and 2 4-man fire teams, came a bit later.  And the way the split those squads to fit into the Bradleys was quite interesting.....but that's another discussion...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2021, 08:47:16 PM by CapnJim »

Offline SJWi

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2021, 08:44:41 PM »
CapnJim/ Carlos, many thanks for your 1st hand memories plus other data. Absolutely invaluable. Its great to be able to tap into such a resource.

Offline CapnJim

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Re: Early 1980s US TO&E in Europe?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2021, 10:58:51 PM »
You're welcome!  Glad to be of service... :D

 

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