Help support TMP

"Orders of battle for the USMC in Vietnam" Topic

18 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Modern Discussion (1946 to 2006) Message Board

3,152 hits since 7 Jun 2011
©1994-2016 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 10:11 a.m. PST

I can't find any, does anyone have a good source.

Arrigo Inactive Member07 Jun 2011 10:17 a.m. PST

shelby stanton "Vietnam Order of Battle" and Ed Gilbert "US Marine Corps in the Vietnam War 1965-75: III MAF".

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 11:08 a.m. PST

Thank you, any on line links

Arrigo Inactive Member07 Jun 2011 11:14 a.m. PST

I will check after dinner… belly is complaining now :P

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 12:28 p.m. PST

Thank you.

Personal logo Ambush Alley Games Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 12:31 p.m. PST

Just as a little sneak peek at our upcoming Osprey edition of Ambush Valley:

USMC Infantry Company
Infantry Battalion, Infantry Regiment

Initiative Level: D8 to D10
Confidence Level: Confident to High Confidence
Supply Level: Abundant
Body Armor: Flak Vests
Troop Quality/Morale: D8 to D10/D8 to D12

The US Marine Corps' infantry companies were similar to their Army counterparts with some very important distinctions. Firstly, each squad had more authorized personnel and each platoon included permanent medics in the form of US Navy Corpsman. Support weapons were held at company level, with no platoon weapons squad or similar formation.

On paper, the individual platoons had a platoon headquarters and three rifle squads.

Platoon HQ
1x Officer with Rifle
1x NCO with Rifle
1x RTO with Rifle
1x Scout with Rifle
2x Corpsman with Rifle

3x Rifle Squad
1x NCO with Rifle
1x Grenadier with M/79 (Lt. Support, AP:1/AT:0)
3x Fire Teams

Fire Teams
1x Fire Team Leader with Rifle
1x Automatic Rifleman with Automatic Rifle (Lt. Support, AP:1/AT:0)
2x Rifleman with Rifle

Personnel equipped with "rifles" would have had either M14s or M16A1s. Personnel equipped with "automatic rifles" would have either had M14 Modified or M16A1s. During the summer of 1967, the USMC made the decision to replace the M14 with the M16A1. It also decided, like the Army to replace the M14 Modified with another M16A1 in the automatic rifle role. As with the Army, the transition was not instantaneous and it took until well into 1968 to make a complete switch.

As noted, in the USMC infantry company, all of the company's support weapons were in an organic weapons platoon. These included six M60 machine guns, three M20A1B1 3.5" rocket launchers, and three 60mm M19 mortars. The weapons were intended to be evenly dispersed among the rifle platoons during operations, but could be otherwise organized by the company commander.

As it happened, the USMC organization also changed as a result of the realities of Vietnam. The M20A1B1 rocket launchers, like the Army's M67 recoilless rifle, were generally relegated to base defense duties and not taken out on patrol. The mortars were also often left at the fire bases.

(Thanks to Joe Trevithick for the research and time putting our exhaustive TO&Es together!)

- Shawn.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member07 Jun 2011 12:59 p.m. PST

Isn't there an Osprey Order of Battle book on just this subject?

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 1:04 p.m. PST

Thanks Shawn but I know the squad, platoon, company and even Battalion I was asking about big picture; What units in each Marine Division which were the 1st and 3rd Mar Divs.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 1:26 p.m. PST

The Osprey OOB book covers this but you have to pay for it evil grin

thatguy9607 Jun 2011 1:32 p.m. PST

"Isn't there an Osprey Order of Battle book on just this subject?"

Yes. The Osprey Men at Arms on "Vietnam Marines" also has a pretty detailed Order of Battle for USMC forces in Vietnam.

You can also find information in the USMC History Division Publications on the subject here: link

This based on the information in the 1966 volume plus additional information from other sources (some may be incorrect, but gives a basic overview of a Marine Division structure for the period):

1st Marine Division

- 1st Marine Division Headquarters
- 1st Marine Division Headquarters Battalion
- 1st Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 5th Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 7th Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 11th Marine Regiment (Artillery)
- 1st Reconnaissance Battalion
- 1st Tank Battalion
- Anti-Tank Company (+) (personnel from 1st Anti-Tank Battalion; attached to 1st Tank Battalion)
- 1st Motor Transport Battalion
- 1st Engineer Battalion
- 1st Medical Battalion
- 1st Shore Party Battalion
- 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion

- Task Force X-Ray
- 7th Motor Transport Battalion
- 7th Communications Battalion
- 11th Motor Transport Battalion

3rd Marine Division

- 3rd Marine Division Headquarters
- 3rd Marine Division Headquarters Battalion
- 3rd Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 4th Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 9th Marine Regiment (Infantry)
- 12th Marine Regiment (Artillery)
- 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion
- 3rd Tank Battalion
- Anti-Tank Company (+) (personnel from 3rd Anti-Tank Battalion; attached to 3rd Tank Battalion)
- 3rd Motor Transport Battalion
- 3rd Engineer Battalion
- 3rd Medical Battalion
- 3rd Shore Party Battalion
- 3rd Amphibious Tractor Battalion

- 9th Motor Transport Battalion
- 11th Engineer Battalion

Personal logo Ambush Alley Games Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jun 2011 3:42 p.m. PST

Thanks again, Joe!

Dennis030208 Jun 2011 5:49 a.m. PST


You need to make an addition/deletion to your TO+E for the Vietnam era USMC platoon.

In the platoon hqts eliminate the scout, there was no such position. Add the "Right Guide" to the platoon hqts. He was a Sgt who was an assistant platoon Sgt in charge of logistics for the platoon, ie handling re supply, tracking casualties etc.

Wiith regard to the automatic rifleman this position ceased to exsist except in name only after the adoption of the M-16. The M-16 bipod was too fragile and all M-16s had selective fire capability.In my own platoon, the mixture of M-14s and M-16s persisted right to the end of 1968.

With the M-14, the only rifles with selective fire capability were the ones assigned to the automatic riflemen but the M-14 was uncontrollable in the auto mode.

60 mm mortars went to the field on a regular basis. They were the company commanders' personal artillery and were kept together as a section generally moving right behind or with the Company CP to increase respose time.At night in the defense the mortars were assigned final protective fires but did termendous work as a ready source of illumination. The drawback to the 60mm mortars were the rounds as a rule of thumb, virtually everyone but the Corpsmen and the radio operators carried them.

As to the 3.5" rocket launchers weight and poor ammunition performance caught up to them after Tet. The Laws they were replaced with had issues with humidity. After about two weeks of carrying them you had to fire them off or blow them with C-4 as the defective seals would let moisture in and cause misfires.

For references see FMFM 6-5 "The Marine Rifle Squad" 1965 and FMFM 6-4 "The Marine Rifle Platoon and Company" 1964

Semper Fi,

thatguy9608 Jun 2011 6:55 a.m. PST

In the platoon hqts eliminate the scout, there was no such position. Add the "Right Guide" to the platoon hqts. He was a Sgt who was an assistant platoon Sgt in charge of logistics for the platoon, ie handling re supply, tracking casualties etc.

I honestly have no idea where I added the scout came from. He's in none of my sources. I'll make sure that's taken out. The Platoon NCO listed is this "Right Guide" (the manual refers to him as the Platoon Guide). Sources I have from the early 1960s and the FMFM 6-4 from 1978 I have make no mention of an assistant. The total strength of the Platoon HQ for the period is said to have been 1 Off and 4 Enl. Is there only one Corpsman at platoon?

EDIT- Found the 1969 version and apparently any number of Corpsman is in addition to the assigned personnel. Can you confirm how many (or not) Corpsman there were at platoon?

The correct org should be:

Platoon HQ
1x Officer with Rifle
2x NCO with Rifle (One of these being the guide)
2x Messenger with Rifle (I assume one of these acted as the platoon RTO)

I'll also modify the text about the mortars and the rocket launchers too.

Dennis030208 Jun 2011 7:30 a.m. PST

The number of Corpsmen varied just as the real world strength of the platoon varied.I believe the TO+E called fot two per platoon. I had one for the platoon for the ten months I was platoon leader.

The Platoon Guide, while he was the platoons' logistician, was also an assistant platoon Sgt and Plt. Sgt "in waiting"

One of the two messengers would have been the platoon radio operator(after mid 1966 with an PRC 25 before with a PRC 10 or 6 which were worthless.)

As to the weapons platoon it ceased to exsist after 1965-1966. Manpower shortages were such that the M-60 machine guns were habitually attached out at two per platoon with the crew consisting of a gunner and an assistant gunner.One point of interest, "machine gunner" was an MOS in the USMC,0331. The school lasted four weeks if I recall correctly. The two ammo bearer spots in the machine gun team were never filled. The 60 mm mortar crew was made up of a gunner and assistant with the ammo bearer positions not filled.

One last point for what its worth.During the Vietnam war there was a significant difference in marskmenship training between the Army and the USMC. The "corporate culture" of the USMC placed tremendous emphasis on marksmenship setting two to three weeks in boot camp aside for the rifle range, depending on how quickly they need to get Marines thru boot camp. The Army at that time, allowed five to seven days. A signifcant difference that made the average Marine far more lethal (IMHO) than his Army counterpart.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2011 8:20 a.m. PST

Dennis0302, who were you with while you were in Vietnam?

Dennis030208 Jun 2011 8:47 a.m. PST

I was with 1/4. Spent six months in the field as a platoon leader and then went back out for another four. Spent the other three as the Assistant S-4 when they found out I had an accounting degree.:)

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2011 10:07 a.m. PST

My Dad was over there with the 5th Marines and was killed outside of Hue city the start of his 3rd tour. what ops were you in while you were there?

Personal logo Ambush Alley Games Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Jun 2011 3:23 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info, Dennis!

- Shawn.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.