Squad Integrity, and the ACV

So, in our post about the Marines catching some flack for choosing a wheeled amphibious combat vehicle, jjak had a decent question:

So how will a 10-man vehicle hold a 13 man squad? Based on this http://xbradtc.com/2015/01/13/the-rifle-squad/ discussion the 13-man squad is superior. Any idea if the Marines will choose to cut down the squad size or split into multiple vehicles while waiting for the gen 2 vehicle with more seats? If they ever come.

Once the gen 2 vehicles arrive what happens to the 10 seat version? I’d make them engineering vehicles or mortar carriers or some other specialist vehicle, but maybe someone has a line on the official plan.

The answer is, as always, the Marines are weird.

Actually, not so much weird, as they do mechanized/mounted operations a little differently than the Army does, and because of that, the lack of squad integrity in the vehicle is not quite an insurmountable challenge. It’s not ideal, no, but it’s not the end of the world.

As we’ve mentioned, the Marine rifle squad is 13 men, a Squad Leader, and three four man fire teams.  A Marine Rifle platoon consists of a four man headquarters, and three rifle squads. That’s 43 men. Obviously, that means four ACVs, with a capacity of 10 each is insufficient lift for one platoon. Of course, units are almost always understrength, so there’s a good chance everyone present for duty would find a seat.

Except, each Marine Rifle Company, in addition to its headquarters and three rifle platoons, also has a weapons platoon, with 60mm mortar teams, SMAW assault weapon teams, and six medium machine gun teams. The weapons platoon is not normally deployed as a single tactical unit. Rather, its teams, particularly the SMAW and machine gun teams, are attached to the rifle platoons to augment their firepower. Add in the Navy Corpsman that routinely accompanies a platoon, any other attachments such as Forward Observers or Scout Snipers, and pretty soon, you’ve got 50 or more men that need to travel with the platoon.

One major difference between Army mounted infantry, and Marine mounted infantry is that in the Army, the vehicles are organic to the unit, all the way down to the platoon level. That is, every mech or Stryker infantry platoon owns its four vehicles.

But in the Marines, the infantry platoon doesn’t own any vehicles. The Amphibious Assault Vehicles (and presumably the ACVs in the future) belong to the division, and are shared out as needed to support various units.

Further, the size of Marine amphibious vehicles has never been keyed to any particular tactical unit. Instead, space restrictions on amphibious assault shipping argued instead for larger vehicles carrying as many Marines as reasonably possible.

Because of this, the Marines are far less concerned with squad integrity when mounted. Provided unit integrity can be maintained at the platoon, or at least the company level, they’ll improvise, adapt, and overcome.

7 thoughts on “Squad Integrity, and the ACV”

  1. Even though the Marines don’t seem to have a concern about it, something as simple as accounting for every one being mounted up after dismounted operations benefits from a habitual alignment with the same vehicles. I am sure every squad leader wants to be able to quickly ensure that the third of his squad that isn’t with him is accounted for, somewhere. Anybody that runs to the wrong vehicle in the dark compounds the error. Yes, I know that Brads have the same problem. And sometimes it is a problem.

    1. True enough. But a TTP issue like that shouldn’t derail a program to replace the AAV. They’re tired. They’re old. They’re at the limits of what SLEP and rebuild can achieve. Sooner or later, they need to be replaced. And the general trend in US procurement going back well over 70 years is that it is better to get an imperfect platform into production than to wait for the perfect platform later.

    2. Agreed. Just observing. My personal opinion is that, like a 113, the squad should theoretically fit… but any port in a storm.

  2. As a marine in a track company i can tell you that a vehicles stated capacity means nothing ive seen 20 guys in a track with assualt packs 240’s in between them.

    1. I’ve seen 14 guys crammed in the back of a Bradley. Worse, I was one of them. It was… unpleasant.

      Welcome, BTW. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the AAV, the ACV, the EFV and what the Marines are doing right and doing wrong.

    2. Advantage–M113. We had cargo hatches to relieve the pressure and more room topside for passengers. Still unpleasant, though.

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