Tactics 101 105 – The Bradley Infantry Company
THE BRADLEY INFANTRY COMPANY
“Those who go on foot or on a war-horse, with the mettle to take on a hundred men, who are skilled in the use of close-range weapons, swords, and spears are called Infantry generals.”
For the past months, we have focused our attention on the mechanized infantry platoon. We first dissected the organization of the platoon and how the platoon maneuvers when mounted. Next, we examined how a platoon plans and executes offensive and defensive operations. We did this by examining the thought process of a Bradley Platoon Leader – LT Duffer. In both types of operations, LT Duffer displayed an excellent understanding of analyzing the capabilities and limitations of his forces, the enemy, and the terrain. With a true appreciation of the platoon, we will now progress to the mechanized infantry company.
In our discussion of the mechanized infantry company, we will focus on a Bradley equipped organization. We will additionally limit our discussion to a pure mechanized company. In other words, it does not have any attached tanks to it. Future articles will address company/team operations. We will dissect the following two areas: 1) The organization of the company. 2) The key personnel in the company.
The mechanized company is a robust organization as the graphic above alludes to. It is comprised of three mechanized platoons with each platoon having 4 Bradleys and 3 Infantry squads. There are also two additional Bradleys in the company (one for the Commander and one for the Executive Officer). Put it all together and a full-up Bradley Company can place 14 Bradleys and 9 Infantry Squads on the battlefield – impressive combat power.
Along with the Bradleys, the company also possesses other organic vehicles. These include: 1) An M113 (Armored Personnel Carrier) for use by the Company First Sergeant. 2) There are two M998 HMMWVs (wheeled vehicles) in the Company Headquarters. One is for use for the Company Commander. The other one is normally shared by the Executive Officer and First Sergeant for use in making logistical runs to the rear. 3) The company has two cargo trucks utilized in its supply section. One carries a water buffalo/trailer with it and the other a cargo trailer.
Besides the organic vehicles in the company, the Commander will or may receive other vehicles and personnel to accomplish his purpose and task. Let’s address some of the more common relationships.
- Almost always, the company will be augmented by a team from the Field Artillery Battalion. The team consists of a group of artillerymen led by a Lieutenant. They will travel in their own APC.
- Many times, a company will receive additional engineer support. This could be an engineer platoon, engineer squad or even a piece of specialized engineer equipment. This augmentation occurs when the company has a purpose and task that may require the need for additional engineer support.
- Depending on their location within the battalion maneuver formation or in the defense, the company can be augmented with air defense support. This support generally comes in the form of a Stinger Team. The team usually maneuvers in its vehicle. In most cases, this is a specially equipped Bradley.
- The mission may require that the company receive additional support such as radar and sensor systems, additional medical or maintenance support, civil affairs team, linguistic teams, counterintelligence teams, etc…. Each of teams will maneuver in their own organic vehicles and may bring various pieces of equipment with them.
With all this said, you can see that the footprint or formation of a mechanized company can get pretty big. The challenge for the Company Commander is that in many cases; this support may be the first time they have been part of the company. Obviously, this can create some issues that must be worked out quickly.
Key Company Personnel
Below we will discuss the key personnel in the company and their major roles and responsibilities.
Company Commander – As we always say, the Commander is responsible for everything the unit does and just as importantly, what it doesn’t do. Being a mechanized infantry company commander is a great job, but it comes with significant responsibilities and duties. Let’s review some of those below:
- Must understand how to blend the capabilities of his mounted and dismounted elements so they complement one another.
- Just as importantly, must understand the limitations of the elements, so the enemy cannot exploit them.
- Listens to his First Sergeant and his NCOs.
- Develops his Lieutenants.
- A good Company Commander “plays well” with his fellow Company Commanders. That means he shares ideas, assists them when it is needed, and is a good team player. These combine to make the Battalion a better unit.
- Keeps his Commander always informed. This means informing him on bad news. As we always say, bad news doesn’t get any better with age.
- During combat operations, the Company Commander will normally use the company radio frequency as his primary net so he can fight the company. He will then monitor the battalion radio frequency so he understands the bigger picture.
- Will normally position himself with the main effort of the company during the fight. This enables him to truly understand the environment if a critical decision must be made which impacts the ability of the company to achieve their purpose and task
- When the company dismounts its Infantry; will normally dismount himself.
- Must understand how to employ tanks
- Must understand the nuances of how the company operates – supply, maintenance, administration, etc ….
- Must understand how to employ tanks and integrate them with his mechanized and dismounted forces. Many times, he will command a company/team that consists of two mechanized platoons and one tank platoon.
- Must understand how to incorporate other combat multipliers into his company. This could include engineer assets, air defense assets, different types of radars and sensors, indirect fire assets, etc…. Depending on his mission, he could receive various resources from his higher headquarters to assist him in achieving his purpose and task.
Company Executive Officer – The Xo wears many hats (or helmets) within the company. The XO will normally have a great deal of experience within the company. This is because he will generally have been a platoon leader in the company and then promoted to XO. A good company commander will utilize this experience; especially in the early months of his command. The XO’s roles and responsibilities include:
- Second in command of the company. When the Commander is out of the net; the XO will assume command and control of the company.
- If the Commander dismounts, will lead the mounted element.
- Assists the Commander in the tactical planning of the mission. The amount of this assistance will depend on what the Commander requires.
- Is the primary logistical planner and coordinator for the company. He will receive great support from the First Sergeant, who is normally the logistical “doer”. In this role, he will normally craft paragraph 4 (service support) of the Operations Order.
- Based on their personalities, can be a great sounding board for the Company Commander.
- Is a great source of information for the company’s platoon leaders. After all, in most cases, he has been there and done that.
- If critical coordination is required with various units (supporting, adjacent, or higher headquarters, etc…); is the likely person to conduct this.
- During the conduct of the operation, will normally provide situation reports to higher headquarters. This allows the Company Commander to fight the company.
- Many times during an operation, will be positioned near the weakest platoon in the company. This provides a little extra oversight on what is going on or what isn’t taking place.
- May be in charge of missions that do not involve the entire company. This could include things such as leading a quartering party, conducting a reconnaissance, being part of a stay-behind force, etc….
Company First Sergeant – In most instances, he is the most experienced Soldier in the company. He has seen it all and his experience is vital to the success of the company. The roles and responsibilities of the First Sergeant will vary based on the working relationship between the Company Commander, Executive Officer, and the First Sergeant. Let’s highlight some of these roles and responsibilities below:
- The company expert on individual Soldier skills.
- If he sees the company is lacking in certain areas will work with the Commander in developing training to remedy this.
- The standard-bearer within the company.
- Keeps his Company Commander straight.
- Offers the Commander advice on various areas and subjects.
- The Company executer on all things logistics.
- Assists the XO in logistical planning.
- Leads the company LOGPAC (Logistical Package) Operations.
- Will assist the attached Company Medics in the execution of medical evacuation.
- Supervises, inspects, corrects.
- Ensures Soldiers are executing field hygiene during combat. This is critical in keeping Soldiers available to conduct operations.
- Along with the Commander, sets the standard for field discipline.
- Works with the Battalion Command Sergeant Major in getting the best available Soldiers assigned to the Company.
- Many times will lead the Company Quartering Party.
- During operations, may be located at a key position or oversee a critical event.
Platoon Leaders – Each company has the aforementioned three mechanized platoons. Each led by a Platoon Leader. In our last mini-series, we addressed the roles of the Platoon Leader. Consequently, we will not rehash this. The dynamics between the Platoon Leaders in the company is always interesting. There will always be competition between Platoon Leaders and that is healthy. The Company Commander must ensure that this competition doesn’t turn unhealthy.
Platoon Sergeants – Three platoons – three Platoon Sergeants. Between them and the First Sergeant; they are the group that make or break a company. They are the experience which the Officers must rely on to set the conditions for success on the battlefield.
The Fire Support Officer (FSO) – This is an incredibly important position in the company. With his assistance, he can get the Company out of trouble or can assist them in exploiting success. He will normally come attached to the Company from the Field Artillery Battalion that is part of the Brigade. Will come with his own vehicle and a team of three or four Soldiers which assist him in planning, preparation, and execution. He and his team have the following roles and responsibilities:
- Assists the Commander in planning, coordinating, and executing all of the Company’s fire support requirements.
- With guidance and intent from the Company Commander, develops and continually refines the Company’s Fire Support Plan. Ensures it is synchronized with the maneuver plan.
- Once a plan is developed; coordinates with the Battalion FSO with feasibility and implementation.
- Expert on the capabilities and limitations of all fire support assets that may be available to the company. Should also be an expert on the capabilities and limitations of the enemy’s fire support assets.
- Provides the Commander with the above information and the status of their availability to the company.
- Expert on the fire support assets of the enemy that the Company faces. Ensures Company Commander understands how these assets can affect the accomplishment of his mission.
- Assists the Commander in the development of the Company Operations Order. Obviously, he is critical in those portions tied to fire support. However, he is also a good sanity check on the rest of the order.
- Recommends to the Commander various things tied to the fire support plan including specific targets, fire control methods, how they will engage targets, and who is responsible for firing those targets.
- Based on the above information, he develops the company target worksheet. He will send this worksheet to his own Field Artillery Battalion.
- Assigns responsibility within the Company and who will observe targets.
- If the Company has Platoon Forward Observers attached to it; he will brief them on the plan and ensure they completely understand their responsibilities in executing the plan.
- Cannot stress enough that the FSO must continually refine the plan and always anticipate. As the tactical situation is constantly changing; so must the fire plan.
Communications Chief – Clearly one of the craftiest Soldiers in the company. His job is seemingly never done. There is always someone out there who can’t communicate. With technology, his job has gotten tougher – not easier! Here are some of his significant responsibilities:
- Supervises the installation of communication equipment within the company. This includes a wide variety of ‘stuff’. Obviously, the more complex it is; the more hands on he will be.
- Oversees the operation of the communication equipment in the company.
- Ensures operators are trained to perform their level of maintenance on their equipment. Conducts spot checks on equipment to ensure it is being conducted.
- Responsible for all area tied to the secure communications equipment possessed by the company. This includes among other things: requisitioning needed equipment, receiving it once it comes in, conducting training on it, implementing it in the company, and performing maintenance on it.
- Advises the Company Commander on all things communication related. This includes providing expertise on how to best utilize communications within a specific mission. As the saying goes, “Move, Shoot, and Communicate”.
- A Commander should ask the Commo Chief for his recommendations on what should be included in Paragraph 5 (Command and Signal) of the Company Operations Order.
- An excellent way to utilize the Commo Chief is to place him in charge of the Company Command Post (CP). This is of course if the Commo Chief has the skill set to execute this important role. The rank and experience of the Commo Chief can vary significantly. He can be a relatively young Soldier or may have many years under his belt. In the role of CP Chief, he would normally be responsible for the following: moving the CP, setting-up the CP, establishing the security plan for the CP, developing and implementing the CP radio watch schedule, and being the Company’s Information Manager.
Supply Sergeant – The old wily Supply Sergeant. He can have a huge impact on the morale of the company and in their ability to achieve their mission. The Supply Sergeant has many roles and responsibilities. These include:
- Certainly, he is highly engaged in anything tied to supplies and equipment. This includes requisitioning, receiving, issuing, and storing. He must obviously be well-organized in how he executes each of these critical tasks. The results of a poorly organized Supply Sergeant normally translate to poorly equipped Soldiers. This correlates directly to combat power.
- In regards to requisitioning, the good Supply Sergeant is proactive, not reactive. Reactive is not a good word in the supply world.
- In regards to all the above, the Supply Sergeant must have solid working relationships with several people. These include the Company XO, the Company First Sergeant, the Platoon Sergeants, and the leadership of the Battalion S4 Shop.
- During combat operations, the Supply Sergeant will generally position himself in the Battalion Field Trains. This will be some distance away from the front lines, but close enough so that he can get supplies, equipment, food, water, etc… to the Company in a timely manner.
- Inside the Battalion Field Trains, he is under the watchful eye of the Headquarters Company Commander or Support Platoon Leader depending on how the Battalion operates.
- Within the Field Trains, he is normally accompanied by the Company Armorer and any Supply Clerks or cargo truck drivers the Company may have. Most times, these Supply Clerks come directly from the Platoons to assist in supply operations. From experience, two Soldiers (Supply Sergeant and Armorer) is not sufficient to conduct supply effectively in a Bradley Company. Consequently, you will take out of hide to support these critical operations.
- The Supply Sergeant should be in constant communications with the company. This will generally be the Company First Sergeant. This aids in being proactive and when necessary, reactive. The bottom line is that the Supply Sergeant should always have a good understanding of tactical situation up forward in regards to his Company.
- In regards to transportation, the Supply Sergeant will utilize a cargo truck and trailer. He will also have another cargo truck and a water buffalo under his control.
- When the Supply Sergeant moves forward it is normally done in conjunction with other vehicles from the Field Trains. Clearly, there is safety in numbers. Two lone cargo trucks moving down a trail or road is a lucrative target. If the Supply Sergeant must move forward without other Field Trains vehicles; the company may send a combat vehicle or two as escort depending on the tactical situation.
- When the Supply Sergeant moves forward, it is normally as part of a Battalion LOGPAC (Logistics Package) operation. In simple terms, this is when the each of the Battalion’s Companies supply vehicles move forward to resupply their respective companies. This resupply will generally constitute chow, water, supplies, ammunition, barrier material etc…. There may also be a fueler attached to Supply Sergeant which will be used during the LOGPAC. We will address the intricacies of a LOGPAC in a future article.
NBC NCO – The overlooked Soldier in the company. That is until there is the slightest potential that biological or chemical weapons could be used on the battlefield. Then, the entire company wants to ensure all their protective gear is in outstanding working order. Let’s address his roles and responsibilities in combat and just as importantly, prior to combat. These include:
- Much of his work is conducted well before the company is deployed for combat operations. Specifically, he develops and implements a training program that focuses on improving Soldiers’ and the company as a whole proficiency in NBC tasks. Tied directly to this is building the confidence in everyone that they can operate and survive in an NBC environment.
- The training plan should be a two-pronged strategy. First, to incorporate individual training as much as possible. Second, to incorporate NBC related tasks in all company training. For example, if the company is training on maneuver formations; then conduct it in NBC posture.
- During combat, makes recommendations to the Commander as to what type of NBC protection Soldiers should wear during a mission.
- Often neglected is that the NBC NCO should be the company expert in the use of smoke. Consequently, the Commander should seek his advice when the use of friendly smoke is considered. Vice versa, when the enemy is using smoke; the Commander should discuss the ramifications with him.
- Requisitions, receives, issues and stores all NBC related equipment.
- Keeps Commander abreast of anything NBC related (friendly or enemy) that has, is or will occur on the battlefield.
- If the company or parts of the Company must go through decontamination operations; he will coordinate, monitor, and oversee these operations.
- Establishes a good working relationship with the Battalion NBC NCO.
Company Armorer – An often underappreciated Soldier in the company is the Armorer. This is normally a younger Soldier in the company. A good Armorer can clearly have a positive impact on the ability of the Company to generate combat power. Among his significant roles and responsibilities are:
- Should work with the Platoon Sergeants in aiding them in their preventive maintenance operations in the Platoons.
- Must know the company’s weapons and weapon systems inside and out.
- Ensures Soldiers have the supplies required to perform good preventive maintenance on their particular weapon or weapon systems.
- Should be handy with the ‘tools’ so you can fix maintenance issues so that weapon systems do not have to be sent to the rear area to be repaired.
- If a system or weapon must be sent to the rear; it must be done quickly. It is not getting fixed if it is staying with the Armorer.
- Tied to this is ensuring the Armorer keeps good paperwork on what has been sent back and he continually follows up on the status of its repair.
- As highlighted in our discussion of the Supply Sergeant; the Armorer will normally be under the control of the Supply Sergeant in the Battalion Field Trains. He will assist the Supply Sergeant and drive one of the Company’s cargo trucks.
Company Master Gunner – One of the most important Soldiers within the company tied to generating the fire in fire and maneuver is the Company Master Gunner. This Soldier is an established NCO who normally has been part of the company in other roles (usually a Bradley Commander). He has proven himself and now is the Company Master Gunner. As the Master Gunner, he has several critical roles and responsibilities. These include:
- Is the company expert on Bradley gunnery. Must know the intricacies of the Bradley turret, its weapon systems, and how a Bradley crew operates effectively.
- Prior to any combat operations, he will be the Commander’s go to guy in developing, planning, and executing all Bradley crew training. The goal of this training is to make certain each Bradley crew has the confidence and expertise to deliver lethal fires down range.
- A big challenge for the Master Gunner is to make training as realistic as possible. It is one thing for a crew to be able to perform effectively in a fairly sterile gunnery range. It is another thing for them to perform effectively in a combat environment.
- A good Master Gunner should know the skill level of all crew members in the company. This will enable him to make recommendations to the Platoon and Company leadership on crew manning.
- As addressed earlier, the Master Gunner should have an excellent understanding of the turret and Bradley weapon systems. This will allow him to troubleshoot and even repair some problems. With this knowledge, he can work with the turret mechanics to assist in getting repairs done as quickly as possible. Again, it is all about getting combat power into the fight.
- A smart Company Commander will utilize the Master Gunner in his planning for both offensive and defensive operations. Within the defense, he can aid in engagement area planning because of his expertise on the company’s weapon systems. In the offense, he can offer advice on the utilization of the weapon systems during the attack.
- Before a mission, he can assist the company leadership in observing preparation (troop leading procedures) and offering advice to the Platoon leadership.
- During operations themselves, there are many ways to utilize the Master Gunner. Many times, the Company Commander will use him as his gunner on his vehicle. Then, when Commander dismounts with the Infantry; he moves up to command the Bradley. Another position for the Master Gunner is to lead the Company Command Post during mission execution. This could include the wheeled vehicles in the Company. Because of experience and talents it would be inexcusable not to use him in a way that assists the company.
Maintenance Team Chief – In a mechanized or armor unit, the importance of the Maintenance Team Chief cannot be overstated. A good Team Chief and his Team is critical in ensuring the company has as much combat power in the fight as possible. The principle duties of the Team Chief include:
- Is obviously the Commander’s expert on maintenance. Keeps him updated on status of his vehicles. What is up – What is down – When will the down vehicles be mission capable.
- When a vehicle is damaged or maintenance down; determines if the repair can be done on site or if the vehicle must be evacuated to the rear.
- Keeps his maintenance team motivated. This is a challenge because they have a challenging job that is not very glamourous.
- Keeps the company well-stocked in repair parts. To achieve this, he must be organized, understand the requisition process, be a scrounger, and be a dealer.
- Must be an expert in vehicle recovery. Must understand what can be accomplished with the recovery equipment he possesses. Creativity is the norm when a vehicle must be recovered in challenging terrain and circumstances.
- Trains his team on all Soldier skills – Soldiers first/mechanics second.
- Keeps abreast of the tactical situation, so he and his team can be at the right place at the right time.
- Usually has an excellent relationship with the First Sergeant.
- Will normally lead the company’s combat trains when the First Sergeant is not in the area.
- Keeps a positive relationship with the Battalion’s maintenance leadership. Don’t want to get on their bad side!
Medical Team – The Company will receive medical support from the Medical Platoon attached to the Battalion. This will normally consist of a Medic for each Platoon and potentially a Senior Aidman who will work with the Headquarters and oversee the other medics. He will work closely with the Company First Sergeant on all things medical. As a group, the Medical Team has many key roles and responsibilities. These include:
- Administers initial first aid and life-saving actions to any casualties.
- Must have situational awareness of the tactical situation at all times.
- Makes determination if injured Soldiers will be medevaced to the rear area for treatment.
- Assists in the coordination of medevac actions.
- Works in conjunction with the First Sergeant in all medical actions.
- Trains Company Soldiers in basic first aid and buddy aid.
- Trains Company Soldiers to become combat lifesavers.
- Trains Company in the execution of a mass casualty event if required.
- During the planning of an operation provides Company Commander with expertise on the medical aspects of the mission.
- Requests the medical supplies for the Company. Once received, provides appropriate supplies down to the Platoons.
14 Bradleys, 9 Infantry Squads, and substantial combat multipliers make for some significant combat power. There is no question the Bradley Company Commander and his Company can have a huge impact on the battlefield. In this article, we focused on the leaders that make the Company so effective. It is at this level where all the pieces can come together. It is up to the Commander and his leaders to make it come together.
Our next article will continue our discussion on the mechanized infantry company. In it, we will address how the mechanized company maneuvers. We will look at the maneuver formations and techniques available to the company commander. Additionally, we will discuss some of the challenges the company may face in maneuver.