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"USMC switches to 12-man sections" Topic

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huevans01104 May 2018 4:07 p.m. PST

ARLINGTON, Va. ― The Marine Corps rifle squad has lost a member but will gain a suite of capabilities in a servicewide initiative to bring powerful tools from information to precision fires to the lowest echelons of combat.

Commandant Robert B. Neller told a crowd of hundreds at the Marine Corps Association and Foundation Annual Ground Awards Dinner on Thursday that the new configuration would consist of three, three-Marine fire teams and a command element of three ― a squad leader, assistant squad leader and squad systems operator.

The systems operator will be the most tech-capable Marine in the formation, Neller said. Rather than create a new Military Occupational Specialty, the systems operator will come from the infantry ranks.

And all squad members will carry the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle.

Each squad will have a squad designated marksman, which is set to be the M38, an accurized version of the M27. The foundational formation of the infantry will also carry a common handheld tablet, multi-channel radio and replace M203 grenade launchers with the M320 grenade launcher.

But for all the accessory weight such as night vision goggles, a sound suppressor and laser sighting tools, other areas will have to be trimmed, he said.

"Everything that Marine wears is going to be changed," Neller said.

In recent months there had been some debate on the size of the squad and the rifles they would carry.

The sizes being considered were 11-, 12-, or 14-man arrangements, and some considered having the squad systems operator carry the M4 carbine to reduce the load, as it is a smaller, lighter weapon.

But Neller said that he decided against keeping the M4 in the squad because he didn't want the systems operator to stand out and be easily identifiable on the battlefield.

The M4 will eventually replace the M16A4 carried by most non-infantry Marines, Neller said.

While the squad loses a number in manpower, the 13-man variation will remain on paper because as with all the equipment and formation changes that Neller announced, it must be "reversible."

Other changes included adding drone capabilities at the rifle company level, adding engineer platoons to infantry companies and shifting the engineer squad from nine Marines to 13, he said.

The company commander will also have an intelligence operations cell and a logistics cell at his or her disposal.

Javelin and 81 mm mortar formations will get their own MRZR, a two-person all-terrain vehicle now used by recon marines.

Neller said some changes would happen as quickly as in the coming months while others would take longer, such as developments to extend precision fire ranges and add Active Protection Systems to tanks and other ground vehicles.


Dennis030204 May 2018 5:10 p.m. PST

I'm guessing each fire team will be made up of a fire team leader with an M27, an auto rifleman with an M-27 and an M320 gunner with the M-27/ M320 combo? So who carries the M 38, the assistant squad leader?

Katzbalger04 May 2018 5:22 p.m. PST

What happens to the combat engineer battalions now that infantry companies get their own engineer platoons? I assume they go away, unless we keep them for heavy equipment tasks?


SouthernPhantom04 May 2018 5:52 p.m. PST

I'm not sure how I feel about the shift from three-man fireteams. The four-man fireteam is two buddy teams; that's fairly fundamental.

It will be interesting to see if this works.

Lion in the Stars04 May 2018 6:20 p.m. PST

The problem is that once you take a single casualty in that 3-man fireteam, it's combat-ineffective.

Dennis030204 May 2018 7:37 p.m. PST

I agree with Lion.The fire teams are now dangerously small. One casuality and the concept of the fire team goes out the window and the squad becomes far less capable of providing its own overwatch and or support by fire. A systems operator at the squad level sounds a bit far fetched. This position will be "poached" as a rifleman, team leader etc. as losses mount.The company intellegence/operations cell made me laugh. In six years in the Marines and all of it in infantry units, I was never able to even get a weather report from the S2. Insofar as the logistics cell, the company gunny will rejoice at his perpetual instantly avaliable working party.
The business with the engineers will prove to be a major mistake. Training for the engineers will suffer without centralized, engineer oriented leadership.
In summary my opinion,for what its worth, is we are preordaning the success of failure.

repaint05 May 2018 1:48 a.m. PST

yes, that is what I immediately thought. There is what Neller said and what Dennis says.
Great thinking over actual practice

Lion in the Stars05 May 2018 3:41 a.m. PST

It's why I'd go for a 14-16 man infantry squad. Three fireteams of 4, plus an HQ team of 2-4.

Major Mike05 May 2018 6:02 a.m. PST

Room clearing is usually done in 4 man groups. Agree with Dennis0302's statement.

huevans01114 May 2018 3:38 p.m. PST
Lion in the Stars15 May 2018 2:11 p.m. PST

Also, the original Marine Fireteams, clear back in Carlson's Raiders, were 3-man (BAR, Thompson, and Garand with rifle-grenade attachment). We went away from that because it was highly vulnerable to casualties. In the 1950s

I want to smack the stupid out of the CMC right now, can I get some people to spell me when I get too tired to continue? evil grin

The Archer19 May 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

I don't know why the insistence on three fire-teams?

Given effectiveness and all that, go with two 4 man elements and the last four is the squad leader, systems guy and backup riflemen/RTO/Medic(corpsman).

Firepower is still there/viable…

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