US Army Squad

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
This discussion started in the Organization of the Infantry thread under the Regio Esercito section. You can read it below.

https://comandosupremo.com/forums/index.php?threads/organization-of-the-infantry.120/

My reply was about teams. They appeared in US manuals in 1956. Of course, any two soldiers could support each other.
My apologies about the terms. I haven't looked at a US WW2 field manual in over 15 years. However, the concepts/techniques I have described using modern terms are the same as used in 2GM.

Given that, if you are saying that the US WW2 T/O didn't divide the squad into three teams, then you are correct (at least as far as I can find). However, it did have a team.

133. COMPOSITION.-The rifle squad consists of a sergeant (squad leader), a corporal (assistant squad leader and antitank rifle grenadier), an automatic rifle team (automatic rifleman, assistant automatic rifleman, and ammunition bearer), and seven riflemen, two of whom are designated as scouts.
FM 7-10 (1942), p. 130. [my bold]

e. Automatic rifle team. The automatic rifleman and his assistant function as a team in order to keep the automatic rifle in a state of constant readiness for action. (1944 p.181)
[My bold]

If you are saying that a US squad didn't operate using teams, then you are wrong. As we are talking capabilities and doctrine, doctrine identified a LMG team (discussed above), you had two scouts that operated forward of the squad (a 'team' in form and function), and you have a group of riflemen that generally moved separately from the LMG team (again a team in form and function).

Also note, that before 1942 US rifle squads had no LMGs at all - only rifles.
A squad with a LMG did exist prior to 1942. See FM 22-5 Infantry Drill Regulation dated 1 July 1939, fig 26 (p. 57) and FM 21-100 Soldier's Handbook, dated Dec 11, 1940, fig 47 (p. 120). These diagrams show two rifle squads, one with and one without a LMG. Clearly the US was transitioning its squad structure prior to the US entry. I am not aware of any combat in which the US Army participated where the rifle squad didn't have a LMG. The squad without a LMG was obsolete and being reorganized. I assume that forward deployed units have reorganized their squads prior to combat.

Both 1942 and 1944 editions of US FM 7-10 describe entirely different tactics.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, the concept/techniques are the same, I just used modern terms because I didn't remember the period language. From FM 7-10 (1944) p. 173. [note that almost the exact same wording is used in the 1942 version of this same manual. The section covering the squad in the earlier FM starts at paragraph 133 on p. 130].

(2) From a position best suited to provide support, the automatic rifleman distributes his fire over the entire target, or on any target which will best support the advance of other members of the squad.
"A position best suited" is a location that is separate from the part of the squad that is advancing. The automatic rifleman is stationary and provides cover/supporting fire for others to advance. If that isn't setting a base of fire and/or bounding with the squad, then I would be interested to read your definitions of this type of movement :)

P. 176-177 has a a discussion of
b. Fire and maneuver.
. Today that is called bounding overwatch. Within that section you read...

Unless supporting weapons or other units are able to maintain fire superiority with out any help from the squad, enough members of the squad must remain in position and continue the fire to maintain it. The automatic rifle's capacity for putting down a large volume of fire makes it especially useful for this purpose.
Pretty much setting a base of fire/covering fire or using bounding overwatch. Note the technique used is situationally dependent. If two or three squads are working together (e.g. a platoon), the the fire and maneuver is controlled by the platoon leader and the squad moves as a single element. The idea of bounding overwatch certainly did exist and was trained/used throughout the war.
 
Last edited:

Eugen Pinak

New Member
That's all nice and fine, but my reply was about "teams that could be maneuver separately". To be able to do so, such team at do have: a) designated leader, b) fixed composition and c) doctrinal permission. Those conditions were met by US Army in 1956 squad. From 1942 there was one (LMG) team in the US squad, however, it was not to maneuver separately. BTW, the rest of the "unitary" squads also had such team - no mater it was called "team" or not.

Also, before WW II there were no LMG at the rifle squads at all - they were concentrated at the company (from 1940 at the platoon) level.
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
The doctrine permission was there, I quoted it. Once that is there, it was trained, practiced and employed.

Fixed structure is meaningless as the squads were trained to use the WW2 version of bounding overwatch. They created their own structure, the obvious one being a rifle team and an LMG team (as the latter was already in doctrine). When they using rushes with the LMG providing covering fire, the rifle 'team' itself was split into to two sections, alternating rushes and covering fire.

It doesn't matter when the team structure was fully implemented the T/Os, it was used through WW2.

In terms of whether the LMG was in the squad, I guess 1939 US Army manual that I posted clearly stating you are wrong doesn't matter.

I guess that it doesn't matter that FM 7-10 never discusses the squad without an automatic rifle; all the discussion includes how the squad employs the automatic rifle during operations.

Why is that? Why is the squad always discussed with an automatic rifle if you are correct and the automatic rifle is a platoon asset? Sometimes what is missing is just as telling as what is written.

I will not try to convince you that US infantry squads maneuver as teams. It is in the historical records.

Also, before WW II there were no LMG at the rifle squads at all - they were concentrated at the company (from 1940 at the platoon) level.
if you are talking about the T/O, you are likely correct. In reality/practice, no. Or are we going to discuss which year WW2 started for the US?

At this point, I am not sure what you are defending. If you are defending the fact that the T/O doesn't move the BARs to the individual squads until 1943, then you are correct. End of discussion.

If you are arguing the the US infantry squads didn't organze into two teams and fight that way, you are wrong. Still end of discussion, because this all doesn't matter. We will agree to disagree.

It is interesting that we are here to discover how armies fought. Doctrine and organization are part of the answer, but the actual practice in the end is what matters. During war, doctrine and organization are created on the battlefield. Manuals will lag as positive practices take time to identify and document. In 1939 we see the US had a doctrine of splitting the squad for tactical movement. We see that in 1939 the US was already placing the LMG in the squad. Whether the LMG was organized into a separate squad is immaterial, as reality during the war saw the LMG placed in the squad. Just like the paragraph I posted in the Italian infantry squad thread discussing the Italian experience, doctrine and organization can (and useably does) lag behind actual practice.
 
Last edited:

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
From FM 7-10 1942, pp. 1-4. discussing the organization of the company.

While the organization chart on page 1 shows the LMG as a separate squad, the discussion of the various weapons states their employment. It is clear that the separate LMG squad was an administrative organization only and not a tactical one. From p. 4.

(3) Automatic rifle_(a) The automatic rifle provides the rifle squad leader with an easily controlled and maneuvered weapon capable of a large volume of fire. It is used against ground targets in a manner similar to the light machine gun, and also engages air targets. Its light weight permits the automatic rifleman to maintain the rate of advance of riflemen and to fire from any position.
My bold.
 
Top