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Thread: How many soldiers make an army unit?

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    seedlary Guest

    Default How many soldiers make an army unit?

    The Indian army like any other has squads, platoons, sections, company, brigade, etc., How many soldiers make up each such unit? Is there any fixed number of members in each unit?
    Last edited by seedlary; 01-02-2012 at 05:15 AM.

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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Quote Originally Posted by seedlary View Post
    Is there any fixed number of members in each unit?
    No.

    Numbers vary from nation to nation, and from time to time within a national army as organisational structures and military doctrines change. It also depends upon whether the structure is, for example, 'square' so that each level goes up in fours or 'triangular' so that they go up in threes, so that in a square arrangement you'd have four platoons to a company, four companies to a battalion and so on while in a triangular one you'd have three platoons to a company, three companies to a battalion etc.

    Numbers also vary depending upon weapons and tactics in particular circumstances, so that the USMC in the Pacific in WWII evolved to be based on four man squads with a BAR as the main weapon while in Europe the Allies were more likely to have about a dozen men in a section with only one section automatic weapon.

    However, the tactical, command and logistical requirements at each level tend to produce figures very roughly around the following in Western armies over the past century .

    Section: 11 - Led by corporal (or ?squad sergeant in US?)

    Platoon: 33 - Led by lieutenant with platoon sergeant

    Company: 120 Led by captain, but could be major.

    Battalion: 880 Led by lieutant colonel

    Brigade: 2,500 + Led by brigadier (how surprising is that? )

    Division: 10,000 to 20,000 (But as an example of how widely the numbers can vary within and between nations (1) Japanese divsions numbered above 100 in WWII were about half the strength of those numbered below 100 which were formed earlier in the war (2) Some German garrison 'divisions' in WWII were barely battalion strength.) Led by major general. A division is the smallest self-contained unit, or strictly a formation, capable of figthing without external (e.g artillery) support but in practice a dvision might have attached extra artillery, armour, transport etc which would swell its size.

    Corps: 2 or more divisions Led by lieutenant general

    Army: 2 or more corps Led by general or higher (e.g field marshal)

    Army group: 2 or more armies Led by general or higher

    This is off the top of my head, so it's only a very rough guide.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-02-2012 at 04:54 AM.
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Thanks for your efforts, RS*, still I had to ban the thread starter for being a spammer cnut.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    Thanks for your efforts, RS*, still I had to ban the thread starter for being a spammer cnut.
    I wondered why he mentioned Indian units when he was in New York.

    I thought he might have been a Cherokee or something similar.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Just for info for others then to show how it can and did change. As the war progressed the strength of the British Army Infantry Battalion increased substantially.

    The Infantry Battalion, circa 1939 to 1940

    Battalion Headquarters (4 Officers, 43 men)

    Headquarter Company (6 Officers, 215 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (1 Officer, 6 men)

    Signal Platoon (1 Officer, 33 men)

    Anti-aircraft Platoon (16 men)

    Mortar Platoon (17 men)

    Carrier Platoon (1 Officer, 29 men)

    Pioneer Platoon (20 men)

    Administrative Platoon (3 Officers, 94 men)

    Four Rifle Companies (3 Officers, 97 men), each comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 10 men)

    One Rifle Platoon comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 5 men)

    Three Rifle Sections, each comprised of 8 men

    Two Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (5 men)

    Three Rifle Sections, each comprised of 8 men

    Total Strength of 668 all ranks (22 Officers and 646 men)
    The British Infantry Battalion, circa 1941 to 1942

    Battalion Headquarters (5 Officers, 50 men)

    Headquarter Company (8 Officers, 247 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (1 Officer, 7 men)

    Signals Platoon (1 Officer, 35 men)

    Anti Aircraft Platoon (20 men)

    Mortar Platoon (1 Officer, 45 men)

    Carrier Platoon (2 Officers, 62 men)

    Pioneer Platoon (1 Officer, 21 men)

    Administrative Platoon (2 Officers, 57 men)

    Four Rifle Companies (5 Officers, 119 men), each comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 11 men)

    Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 6 men)

    Three Rifle Sections, each comprised of 10 men

    Total Strength of 806 all ranks (33 Officers and 773 men)
    The British Infantry Battalion, circa 1943 to 1945

    Battalion Headquarters (5 Officers, 45 men) * increased by 8 men, November 1944

    Headquarter Company (4 Officers, 91 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (1 Officer, 5 men)

    Signals Platoon (1 Officer, 35 men)

    Administrative Platoon (2 Officers, 51 men) * increased by 1 man, November 1944

    Support Company (7 Officers, 185 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (1 Officer, 8 men) * reduced by 1 man, November 1944

    Mortar Platoon (1 Officer, 42 men)

    Carrier Platoon (2 Officers, 61 men)

    Anti-tank Platoon (2 Officers, 53 men)

    Pioneer Platoon (1 Officer, 21 men)

    Four Rifle Companies (5 Officers, 122 men), each comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 14 men) * each Company HQ reduced by 2 men, November 1944

    Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 3 men)

    Light Mortar Section (3 men)

    Three Rifle Sections, each comprised of 10 men

    Total Strength of 845 all ranks (36 Officers and 809 men)
    Compare with the US which reduced its strength.

    The US Infantry Battalion, circa 1942

    Battalion Headquarters (4 Officers)

    Headquarters Company (5 Officers, 130 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 22 men)

    Battalion HQ Section (16 men)

    Communications Platoon (1 Officer, 28 men)

    Ammunition & Pioneer Platoon (1 Officer, 28 men)

    Antitank Platoon (1 Officer, 36 men)

    Heavy Weapons Company (5 Officers, 178 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 29 men)

    Two Machine Gun Platoons, each (1 Officer, 44 men)

    Mortar Platoon (1 Officer, 61 men)

    Three Rifle Companies (6 Officers, 192 men), each comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 18 men)

    Weapons Platoon comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 7 men)

    Mortar Section (19 men)

    Machine Gun Section (13 men)

    Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 9 men)

    Three Rifle Squads, each comprised of 12 men

    Total Strength of 916 all ranks (32 Officers and 884 men)
    The US Infantry Battalion, circa 1943 to 1945

    Battalion Headquarters (4 Officers)

    Headquarters Company (5 Officers, 117 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 24 men) * reduced by 5 men, June 1944

    Battalion HQ Section (13 men)

    Communications Platoon (1 Officer, 22 men)

    Ammunition & Pioneer Platoon (1 Officer, 26 men)

    Antitank Platoon (1 Officer, 32 men)

    Heavy Weapons Company (8 Officers, 158 men), comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 32 men) * reduced by 6 men, June 1944

    Two Machine Gun Platoons, each (1 Officer, 35 men)

    Mortar Platoon (4 Officers, 56 men)

    Three Rifle Companies (6 Officers, 187 men), each comprised of;

    Company HQ (2 Officers, 33 men)

    Weapons Platoon comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 5 men)

    Mortar Section (17 men)

    Machine Gun Section (12 men)

    Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

    Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 4 men)

    Three Rifle Squads, each comprised of 12 men

    Total Strength of 871 all ranks (35 Officers and 836 men) * reduced by 11 men, June 1944
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    And then there were battalions that weren't infantry battalions, notably machine gun battalions which operated in support of and or were distributed among infantry battalions in a division in WWI and WWII, at least in the Australian expeditionary forces in those wars, e.g. http://regimental-books.com.au/shop/...caa0d46d41f639

    And then there is the all-purpose term 'regiment', which in Australian and I think British usage can be applied to just about any unit of battalion size or bigger. So one can talk about 'my regiment', meaning my battalion or equivalent unit or, at the other end of the scale, the Royal Australian Regiment which is all (admittedly not very many ) of the infantry battalions in the Australian Army. I think the Americans tended to use regiment in WWII as a force equivalent to about brigade size in British Commonwealth forces.
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    The only thing I can add to this thread was that in my training, the U.S. Army tends to do things in threes: as in three squads to a platoon, three platoons to a company, etc. Of course, my basic training platoon had four squads, and most of my military tenure was spent working in sections, detachments, groups, etc...

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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I wondered why he mentioned Indian units when he was in New York.

    I thought he might have been a Cherokee or something similar.
    i think in the regestration forum it is clearly stated : location " if you are not comfortable write anything".

    you may have banned someone looking for some answers.

    BTW i am jack.

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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Jack,

    we have access to a great deal more information than that, and don't ban on fictitious locations alone. Your IP, for instance, shows up as being in India when your stated location is Cardiff. Nothing in the rules against that, provided you don't start spamming the forum from it.

    pdf27 (Moderator)
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    I *used* to know quite a bit about small-unit (i.e., "squad" or "section" level) TO&E for WWII, but long neglect of the topic dims memory. In case it's of interest: some nations deviated quite a bit from the average 10-or-so man rifle squad. Sources differ. But IIRC, the Italians shortly before the war (or maybe after the start?) combined 9-man rifle squads to create a squad totaling 18 men. In this case, I'm not sure how much of this was a "real" (versus a paper) change, as the 18-man squad retained two LMGs. The Poles used a rifle squad that different sources (again, pardon me if I err, I'm going by memory) of 18 or 23 men (with only a single BAR amongst them). The Japanese seemed to have used both 13-man and 15-man rifle squads. I believe the Hungarians used a 13-man squad for infantry, but ten men for a paratroop stick. Most sources seem to describe the French as using a 12-man squad, though I've also seen figures for 11 and 13. Finns started out with a 9-man squad, later expanding it to 10. Soviets I'm momentarily fuzzy on, but I think it was 9? Germans went through a few changes, but ~10 seems a good number for discussions of paper organization. Romanians I've forgotten, but would guess was somewhere somewhere between 12 and 15. Add in a discussion of how these squads were armed, and things get even more convoluted, though usually you're talking rifles, a squad LMG or BAR, and for many nations (but hardly all), a SMG or two.

    As others have indicated, composition of larger units likewise reflected the choices of the home nation, with terms like brigade, corps, etc. having highly variable definitions. Different branches or services (infantry, paratroops, marines, cavalry, etc) with in the same nation can also have markedly different structures as well.
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    As others have indicated, composition of larger units likewise reflected the choices of the home nation, with terms like brigade, corps, etc. having highly variable definitions. Different branches or services (infantry, paratroops, marines, cavalry, etc) with in the same nation can also have markedly different structures as well.
    Infantry and other arms' basic units also reflected evolution in weapons; a nation's choice of weapons, which relate to its financial resources and anticipated enemies among other things; and that nation's doctrine.

    Weapons evolution allowed a change in emphasis from long range musketry beloved of British Commonwealth training before, during and after WWI to the modern British Commonwealth (or what remains of it) reliance upon semi-automatic and automatic weapons for relatively short range use. Other factors, such as changes from .303 / 7.62mm to 5.56mm enabled a greater number of rounds to be carried, which facilitated a change from repeating to semi-automatic and automatic weapons. (Personally, I'd still rather have my old 7.62 SLR than my serving son's 5.56 Steyr if I wanted to stop someone with a single round in the body mass.) Then there's the evolution of other weapons such as grenade launchers which alter the firepower of the smallest units over simple rifle units. Then there's the evolution of training and tactics which saw emphasis on use of the bayonet decline, which in turn allowed the evolution of a different basic infantry weapon which didn't have to parry and thrust with a long bayonet on the end of long rifle. Then there's the introduction of optical sights which allowed more soldiers to be more proficient than they would have been over open sights. Then there's the replacement of timber with plastic in stocks etc (although if you need to use your weapon as a club, timber is probably better), and metal magazines with plastic ones which further increases a soldier's round carrying capacity.

    In WWII and subsequently, American doctrine concentrated on overwhelming firepower and armed its troops accordingly, while British Commonwealth doctrine in WWII was still more heavily focused on musketry with (often irrelevant long range) accuracy as its cornerstone rather than rate of fire. So American infantry (including USMC for this purpose), especially in the Pacific, were much more heavily armed with semi-automatic and automatic weapons than their British Commonwealth counterparts.

    There's also the factor that at half section, section and platoon level, where land wars are fought, individual soldier's weapons superiority is usually much less of a factor than it is when using machines such as tanks, ships, submarines and aeroplanes and their associated weapons. In WWI and WWII, the infantry of all the major combatants was equipped with long arms adequate for the purpose of matching the enemy at the man to man level.
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    From RS*
    ...British Commonwealth doctrine in WWII was still more heavily focused on musketry with (often irrelevant long range) accuracy as its cornerstone rather than rate of fire.
    Your comments on Commonwealth musketry can be taken a little further (though I might argue accuracy was MORE important at long range! But perhaps you referred to the frequency of "long-range" rifle combat during WWII?). I also have understood that WWII Commonwealth troops could actually lay down fire at impressive rates for bolt-action rifles, perhaps another leftover from musket drill. But I really recall as being interesting was a comment about British (just British? I don't recall how broadly the comment applied) officers (I believe made in Caen: Anvil of Victory). The comment was to the effect that junior officers in WWII still had the primary role of showing calm under fire, even exposing themselves to risk, to steady their troops and downplay the danger. That's one thing during the age of muskets, but something a little more involved of a stiff upper lip for the 1940's....
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Your comments on Commonwealth musketry can be taken a little further (though I might argue accuracy was MORE important at long range! But perhaps you referred to the frequency of "long-range" rifle combat during WWII?). I also have understood that WWII Commonwealth troops could actually lay down fire at impressive rates for bolt-action rifles, perhaps another leftover from musket drill.
    I think basic rifle qualification for British Army in WWI was in the order of 15 to 20 rounds per minute hitting a target at ?200 yards.

    Highest rate of fire for an SMLE was 38 rounds per minute in a 12 inch group at 300 yards by Sergeant Snoxall, a British Army instructor, in 1914.
    ..
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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    The British infantry developed and trained for a practice of rapid-fire en masse using the Lee Enfield rifle prior to WW1. This may in part have resulted from their unpleasant experiences early in the Boer War, in which a number of British units suffered heavily at the hands of Boer riflemen (using the Mauser) employing mass rapid fire. The Germans discovered this to their cost in their early encounters with the British in 1914. No doubt, given the usefulness of this tactic, the British Army did their best to maintain it into WW2. As regards accuracy versus range - accuracy probably was more important at longer ranges. That having been said, few ordinary soldiers had above average natural ability as shooters and, in truth, that average level tends not to be particularly high. Historically, effective range and rate of fire, independently and in concert, are probably more important overall. For example, when effective muzzle-loading military rifles were first introduced around the 1840s, the increase in effective hitting range from the smoothbore musket's 100-120 yards to 400-500 yards had a serious impact on warfare, simply because it was no longer possible for attackers to cover the ground between themselves and the enemy in the time in which it would have taken the latter to fire off one or, at most, two shots apiece. It is not that the muzzle-loading rifle had a significantly faster rate of fire; rather that the attackers came under effective volley fire a full 400-450 yards from the defenders, giving the latter time to get off many more shots. The average muzzle-loading rifle could actually kill at much longer ranges but, again, few soldiers except the most talented could shoot accurately at such extreme ranges. It took some time for the lessons of the relatively rapid technological development of musketry in the 19th century to sink in - but this was, as it turned out, the road from Waterloo to Ypres ... Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: How many soldiers make an army unit?

    I believe the German Heer vastly overestimated the number of automatic weapons carried by British infantry by over tenfold early in WWI because of their ability to sustain high volumes of fire...

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