Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Appendix G – Other Small Unit Organizations

Appendix G

Other Small Unit Organizations

As part of full spectrum operations, the Infantry platoon can expect to conduct missions with other types of Infantry platoons (within and outside of their own Infantry battalion), combat arms units, and combat support units. To aid the Infantry platoon leader, this appendix briefly discusses the structure, capabilities, and limitations of—

– The Infantry battalion scout platoon

– Infantry battalion mortar platoon

– Infantry battalion sniper section

– Bradley platoon and squad

– Stryker platoon and squad

– Maneuver company fire support team (FIST)

– Combat engineer support

– Air defense assets

– Tank platoon

Infantry Battalion Scout Platoon

G-1.       The Infantry battalion scout platoon serves as the forward “eyes and ears” for the battalion commander. The primary mission of the scout platoon is to conduct reconnaissance and security to answer CCIR, normally defined within the battalion’s intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) plan. The scout platoon can conduct route, zone, and area reconnaissance missions.  The platoon can also conduct limited screening operations and can participate as part of a larger force in guard missions.

G-2.       The scout platoon is organized into a platoon headquarters and three squads of six men each. Each squad leader is responsible for controlling his squad’s movement and intelligence collection requirements. He reports critical intelligence information obtained by his squad to the scout platoon leader or battalion TOC.

G-3.       In either offensive or defensive operations, the commander may deploy his scout platoon to conduct screening operations of the battalion’s front, flank, or rear.  The scout platoon may also occupy outposts from which it can relay critical information to the TOC concerning enemy composition, disposition, and activities.

Infantry Battalion Mortar Platoon

G-4.       The primary role of the Infantry battalion mortar platoon is to provide immediate, responsive indirect fires in support of the maneuver companies or battalion. The battalion mortar platoon consists of a mortar platoon headquarters, a mortar section that contains the fire direction center (FDC), and four mortar squads. The platoon’s FDC controls and directs the mortar platoon’s fires. Infantry battalion mortar sections are equipped with 120-mm and 81-mm mortars, but only have the capability to man 50 percent of these mortars at any one time.

G-5.       The mortar platoon provides the commander with the ability to shape the Infantry’s close fight with indirect fires that—

– Provide close supporting fires for assaulting Infantry forces in any terrain.

– Destroy, neutralize, suppress, or disrupt enemy forces and force armored vehicles to button up.

– Fix enemy forces or reduce the enemy’s mobility and canalize his assault forces into engagement areas.

– Deny the enemy the advantage of defile terrain and force him into areas covered by direct fire weapons.

– Optimize indirect fires in urban terrain.

– Significantly improve the Infantry’s lethality and survivability against a close dismounted assault.

– Provide obscuration for friendly movement.

G-6.       Each mortar system is capable of providing three primary types of mortar fires:

(1)     High explosive (HE) rounds are used to suppress or destroy enemy Infantry, mortars, and other supporting weapons. HE is also used to interdict the movement of men, vehicles, and supplies in the enemy’s forward area. Bursting white phosphorus (WP) rounds are often mixed with HE rounds to enhance their suppressive and destructive effects.

(2)     Obscuration rounds are used to conceal friendly forces as they maneuver or assault and to blind enemy supporting weapons. Obscurants can also be used to isolate a portion of the enemy force while it is destroyed piecemeal. Some mortar rounds use bursting WP to achieve this obscuration. Bursting WP may be used to mark targets for engagement by other weapons, usually aircraft, and for signaling.

(3)     Illumination rounds, to include infra-red illumination, are used to reveal the location of enemy forces hidden by darkness. They allow the commander to confirm or deny the presence of the enemy without revealing the location of friendly direct fire weapons. Illumination fires are often coordinated with HE fires to expose the enemy and to kill or suppress him.

Infantry Battalion Sniper Section

G-7.       The primary mission of the sniper section in combat is to support combat operations by delivering precise long-range fire on selected targets.  Snipers create casualties among enemy troops, slow enemy movement, lower enemy morale, and add confusion to their operations. They can engage and destroy high payoff targets. The secondary mission of the sniper section is collecting and reporting battlefield information. The sniper section is employed in all types of operations. This includes offensive, defensive, stability operations and civil support operations in which precision fire is delivered at long ranges. It also includes combat patrols, ambushes, countersniper operations, forward observation elements, military operations in urbanized terrain, and retrograde operations in which snipers are part of forces left in contact or as stay-behind forces.

Composition of Sniper Section

G-8.       The Sniper section has 10 enlisted personnel: a section leader, 3 long range sniper rifle systems, and 3 standard sniper rifle systems. There are three sniper teams in the sniper section organized with a sniper, observer, and security.  As a result, the sniper section can effectively employ three sniper teams at any one time. When necessary, the commander can employ up to five ad hoc sniper teams for limited duration missions by employing two man teams.  Sniper teams can be task organized to any unit in the battalion or employed directly under battalion control.  Snipers are most effective when leaders in the supported unit understand capabilities, limitations and tactical employment of sniper teams. See FM 3-21.10, The Infantry Rifle Company, and Appendix F for additional information on sniper team employment.


G-9.       BFV-equipped infantry rifle platoons and rifle squads normally operate as part of a larger force. They provide their own suppressive fires either to repel enemy assaults or to support their own maneuver. During close combat, platoon leaders consider the following to determine how to employ the BFVs.

– Support the rifle squads with direct fires.

– Provide mobile protection to transport rifle squads to the critical point on the battlefield.

– Suppress or destroy enemy infantry fighting vehicles and other lightly armored vehicles.

– Destroy enemy armor with TOW fires.


G-10.    The Bradley platoon’s effectiveness is enhanced because of the lethality of its weapons systems and the rifle squad. To employ the platoon effectively, the platoon leader capitalizes on its strengths. The BFV-equipped mechanized infantry platoon can—

– Assault enemy positions.

– Assault with small arms and indirect fires to deliver rifle squads to tactical positions of advantage.

– Use 25-mm cannon and 7.62-mm machine gun fire to effectively suppress or destroy the enemy’s infantry.

– Block dismounted avenues of approach.

– Seize and retain key and decisive terrain.

– Clear danger areas and prepare positions for mounted elements.

– Conduct mounted or dismounted patrols and operations in support of security operations.

– Develop the situation with Soldiers (three rifle squads) and equipment (25-mm cannon, TOW, and 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun).

– Establish strong points to deny the enemy important terrain or flank positions.

– Infiltrate enemy positions.

– Overwatch and secure tactical obstacles.

– Repel enemy attacks through close combat.

– Conduct assault breaches of obstacles.

– Participate in air assault operations.

– Destroy light armor vehicles using direct fire from the BFV.

– Employ 25-mm cannon fire to fix, suppress, or disrupt the movement of fighting vehicles and antiarmor systems up to 2,500 meters.

– Use TOW fires to destroy tanks and fighting vehicles out to 3,750 meters.

– Use Javelin fires to destroy tanks and fighting vehicles out to 2,000 meters.

– Operate in a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) environment.

– Participate in stability operations.


G-11.    BFV-equipped Infantry rifle platoons have the following limitations:

– Increased maintenance requirements.

– Increased fuel requirements.

– Size of vehicle limits maneuverability in restricted terrain.

– Load noise signature.

– Limited crew situational awareness.


G-12.    The mechanized infantry rifle platoon is equipped with four BFVs and can fight mounted or with rifle squads on the ground. Figure G-1 illustrates the BFV-equipped mechanized infantry rifle platoon organization. The platoon can fight as unified mutually supporting maneuver elements or as two distinct maneuver elements—one mounted and one dismounted. The platoon must prepare to fight in a variety of operational environments. Once the rifle squads have dismounted, the mounted element provides a base of fire for the rifle squads as they close with and destroy the enemy.

Figure G-1. Bradley fighting vehicle platoon organization.

Stryker brigade combat team INFANTRY RIFLE PLATOON AND SQUAD

G-13.    The Army organized the Stryker brigade combat team (SBCT) in response to the need for a force that can deploy rapidly as an “early responder” to a crisis area anywhere in the world.


G-14.    The platoon combines the effects of the Infantry squads, the weapons squad, and the direct fires from the Infantry carrier vehicle (ICV). This includes Javelin fire-and-forget antitank missile fires. Protection is afforded by the vehicle and the ability of the vehicle to protect the infantrymen from small-arms fire and fragmentation before dismounting. The SBCT infantry platoon equipped with the ICV can—

– Use the mobility of the ICV to transport the infantry squads to a position of advantage under the protection of the vehicle.

– Operate in a mounted or dismounted role.

– Destroy light armor vehicles and personnel using direct fire.

– Employ fires from the vehicle to destroy, suppress, or fix personnel and light infantry fighting vehicles.

– Destroy tanks and fighting vehicles with CCMS fires out to 2,000 meters (Javelin).

– Block dismounted avenues of approach.

– Protect obstacles and prevent enemy breaching operations.

– Establish strong points to deny the enemy key terrain or flank positions.

– Conduct assault breaches of obstacles.

– Clear danger areas and prepare positions for mounted elements.

– Assault enemy positions.

– Augment the ICV, mobile gun system (MGS), and tank antiarmor fires.

– Move over terrain not trafficable by other wheeled vehicles with the infantry squads.

– Infiltrate enemy positions.

– Conduct mounted or dismounted patrols and operations in support of security operations.

– Conduct air assault operations.


G-15.    The ICV-equipped infantry platoon has the following limitations:

– Platoon ICVs are vulnerable to enemy antiarmor fires.

– Platoon infantry squads are vulnerable to small arms and indirect fires.

– The pace of dismounted offensive operations is limited to the foot speed of the infantryman.

– The ICV poses a variety of difficulties in water-crossing operations, including the requirement for either adequate fording sites or a bridge with sufficient weight classification.

– A Soldier’s load increases as a result of additional digital equipment and increased battery requirements.

– Inherent in a situation as an “early responder” is the difficulty in obtaining supplies for ongoing operations, especially with long lines of communication (LOC) and resupply in an underdeveloped area of operation. This situation is compounded because the unit may operate forward of the debarkation point and with threats to the LOCs, the routes may not be secure.


G-16.    The SBCT Infantry platoon has three elements: the platoon headquarters (Figure G-2), the mounted element, and the infantry squad element. The SBCT Infantry platoon is equipped with four ICVs. The ICV is a fully mobile system capable of operating in conjunction with infantry and other elements of the combined arms team. Each ICV has a vehicle commander (VC) and driver that operate the vehicle (Figure G-2). The PSG or a senior squad leader is included in the mounted section as the fourth VC and serves as one of the section leaders. The dismounted element (Figure G-3) consists of the platoon headquarters, three rifle squads, and a weapons squad.


Figure G-2.  Mounted element organization.

Figure G-3.  Dismounted element organization.

Platoon Forward Observer Duties and Responsibilities

G-17.    As the platoon’s fire support representative, the primary duty of the FO is to locate targets and call for and adjust indirect fire support. Additional responsibilities include the following:

– Refine or submit key targets for inclusion in the company fire plan.

– Prepare, maintain, and use situation maps.

– Establish and maintain communications with company FIST.

– Advise the platoon leader as to the capabilities and limitations of available indirect fire support.

– Report battlefield intelligence.

– Laser designate targets when required.

Maneuver Company Fire Support Team (FIST) Fire Request Channels

G-18.    The FIST serves as the net control system (NCS) on the company fire support net. The FIST relays the call for fire to supporting artillery on a digital net or sends the fire mission to the mortar platoon or section. The command net allows the FIST to monitor unit operations. It links the FIST to the commander and platoon leaders for planning and coordination. This net is also an alternate means the platoon leader can use to contact the company commander when primary means fail.

Quick Fire Channel

G-19.     A quick fire channel is established to directly link an observer (or other target executor) with a weapon system (Figure G-4). Quick fire channels may be either voice or digital nets. Within a maneuver brigade, quick fire channels are normally established on FA or mortar nets. These channels are designed to expedite calls for fire against high profile targets (HPTs) or to trigger preplanned fires. Quick fire channels  may also be used to execute fires for critical operations or phases of the battle. Examples include linking a combat observation and laser team (COLT) with a battery or platoon FDC for counter reconnaissance fires or an AN-TPQ-37 radar with the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) battery FDC for counterfires. Copperhead missions can best be executed by using quick fire channels.


Figure G-4. Quick fire channel illustrating sensor-to-shooter link.


G-20.    The light engineer organization is tailored to fight as part of the combined arms team in the Infantry. It focuses on mobility and provides limited countermobility and survivability engineer support. A light engineer unit can be task-organized to provide the necessary engineer functions to fight the battle.

Engineer Platoon

G-21.     An engineer platoon may be task-organized to a battalion or company based on the higher commander’s analysis of METT-TC. The engineer platoon can be employed to accomplish most engineer missions. However they may require external support for them to conduct continuous operations for more than 48 hours. Figure G-5 shows an example of an engineer platoon.


Figure G-5. Engineer platoon.

Sapper Squad

G-22.     A sapper squad may be task-organized to a company and executes engineer tasks to support the company mission. Task organization is based on the battalion commander’s analysis of METT-TC. The squad is the smallest engineer element that can be employed with its own organic C2 assets. Therefore, it can accomplish tasks such as reconnaissance, manual breaching, demolitions, or route clearance as part of a platoon or company mission. Depending on METT-TC, the engineer may receive augmentation of engineer equipment such as a small earth excavator (SEE) or other specialized engineer equipment. Figure G-6 shows an example of a sapper squad.


Figure G-6. Sapper squad.

Capabilities and Missions

G-23.    The mission of engineers corresponds to those missions normally conducted by Infantry units. Engineer units can operate in restricted terrain such as forests, jungles, mountains, and urban areas. Because of their austere nature, once they are employed, light engineers have the same tactical mobility as the Infantry. To compensate for this, they train to operate in a decentralized manner. Like their supported maneuver force, they operate best under conditions of limited visibility.


G-24.     The engineer’s focus is mobility. They are experts in supporting infiltrations, air assaults, parachute assaults, ambushes, and raids. In this role, the engineer may conduct covert breaches, route reconnaissance, and obstacle reduction. He may also identify potential enemy counterattack routes and establish countermobility measures such as using scatterable mines (SCATMINEs) to protect the force. Engineers train in Infantry skills and are able to move undetected when close to the enemy.


G-25.     Engineer missions fit into one of three categories: mobility, countermobility, and survivability. Table G-1 shows the tasks included in each of these categories. Depending on METT-TC, an engineer platoon or squad might be attached to a company. Engineers conduct reconnaissance, evaluate obstacles, and use demolitions and field expedients.

Table G-1. Engineer missions.




Breach obstacles.

Clear minefields.

Clear routes.

Cross gaps expediently. Construct combat roads or  trails.

Construct obstacles to               turn, fix, block, or disrupt      enemy forces.

Construct crew-served              weapons and vehicle              fighting positions.


G-26.    Engineer units may also be employed in survivability operations to assist in protecting friendly units by helping to prepare areas such as defensive positions. They may employ their blades to help prepare positions for systems such as mortars, C2, and key weapons. Units should prepare their areas for the arrival of the blades by marking the positions, identifying leaders to supervise position construction, and designating guides for the blade movement between positions.

G-27.    Engineer units might employ a small earth excavator to aid in position construction. A SEE has a backhoe, bucket loader, handled hydraulic rock drill, chain saw, and pavement breaker. The SEE can dig positions for individual, crew-served, and AT weapons or for Stinger missile teams. It can also be employed to dig in ammunition pre-stock positions.

AIR and missle DEFENSE

G-28.    Air defense systems that may operate in and adjacent to the Infantry platoon AO are the Avenger, man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), and Linebacker (Table G-2). All systems can operate as MANPADS Stinger teams. Although other short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems support divisional units, the Infantry platoon is most likely to be supported by the Avenger or a MANPADS Stinger team. The Stinger is also fired from the Avenger and is designed to counter high-performance, low-level, ground attack aircraft; helicopters; and observation and transport aircraft.

Table G-2. Air defense systems.


Man-Portable System

Personnel: 2-man crew

Basic load: 6 missiles with M998 HMMWV

Acquisition/range: Visual

Engagement range: 5 km

Engagement altitude: 3 km+

Mutual support: 2 km+

Bradley Linebacker

Personnel: 4-man crew

Basic load: 10 missiles (4 ready to fire, 6 stowed)

Acquisition/range: Visual/thermal

Engagement range: 5 km (Stinger); 2,500-m 25-mm; 900-m coax

Engagement altitude: 3 km+

Mutual support: 3 km

Emplacement time: Fire on the move

Reload time: 4 minutes



Personnel: 2-man crew

Basic load: 8 ready-to-fire missiles, 250 rounds .50 cal

Acquisition/range: Visual/FLIR 9-10 km, laser range finder

Engagement range: 5 km+, .50 cal range: 1,800 m

Rate of fire: 1,025 rpm

Engagement altitude: 3 km+

Mutual support: 3 km

Emplacement time: 6 minutes, can remote operations out to 50 meters

Avenger and MANPADS Stingers

G-29.    The Avenger’s combined arms mission is to provide protection to combat forces and other critical assets from attack. The Avenger is designed to counter hostile cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft systems,  low-flying, high-speed, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters attacking or transiting friendly airspace. The Avenger provides the battalions with highly mobile dedicated air defense firepower. It is equipped with two standard vehicle-mounted launchers (SVMLs). Each carries four Stinger missiles. The Avenger has the following capabilities:

– A modified fire control subsystem and SVMLs that allow the Avenger to shoot on the move.

– An unobstructed, 360-degree field of fire that can engage at elevations between -10 and +70 degrees.

– A .50 cal machine gun that affords a measure of self-protection by providing additional coverage of the Stinger missile’s inner launch boundary.

– A sensor package (forward-looking infrared radar [FLIR], carbon dioxide, eye-safe laser range finder, and a video autotracker) that provides target acquisition capability in battlefield obscuration at night and in adverse weather.

– Two-man crew can remain in the vehicle or remotely control the platform from a separate fighting position.

– Shoot-on-the-move and slew-to-cue capability.

– System maintains dismounted Stinger missile capability in event of launcher system damage, failure, or static mode.

G-30.        The MANPADS Stinger Missile System employs a two-man crew that consists of a crew chief and a gunner. The MANPADS team normally has assigned transportation. Unit leaders must carefully consider the consequences before separating a Stinger team from its vehicle. Stinger teams operating away from their vehicles are limited in their ability to haul extra missiles to their firing point.

Early Warning Alerts

G-31.     If SHORAD units are operating in the area, the platoon may receive early warning alerts from its elements. The SHORAD radar teams can broadcast an early warning of enemy air activity that will filter down to the platoon via the brigade, battalion, and company command nets. If METT-TC factors permit, the SHORAD platoon provides voice early warning directly to the battalions.

Employment of Air Defense Systems

G-32.    In offensive situations, air defense elements accompany the main attack. They may maneuver with the battalion’s lead companies orienting on low-altitude air avenues of approach. When the unit is moving or in a situation that requires short halts, air defense elements should remain within the platoon’s organic weapons systems maximum ranges to assure mutual support. The Stinger gunners (MANPADS) can dismount to provide air defense when the unit reaches the objective or pauses during the attack. In the defense, air defense elements may establish BPs based on available intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) information and the company commander’s scheme of maneuver.

Weapons Control Status

G-33.    The weapons control status (WCS) describes the relative degree of control in effect for air defense fires. It applies to all weapons systems. The WCS is dictated in the battalion OPORD and may be updated based on the situation. The three levels of control are:

– Weapons Free. Crews can fire at any air target not positively identified as friendly. This is the least restrictive WCS level.

– Weapons Tight. Crews can fire only at air targets positively identified as hostile according to the prevailing hostile criteria.

– Weapons Hold. Crews are prohibited from firing except in self-defense or in response to a formal order. This is the most restrictive control status level.

Tank Platoon

G-34.    The tank platoon is the smallest maneuver element within a tank company. Organized to fight as a unified element, the platoon consists of four main battle tanks organized into two sections. The platoon leader (Tank 1) and platoon sergeant (Tank 4) are the section leaders. Tank 2 is the wingman in the platoon leader’s section; Tank 3 is the wingman in the platoon sergeant’s section (Figure G-7).


Figure G-7. Tank platoon organization.

G-35.    The tank platoon is organic to tank companies and armored cavalry troops. The platoon may be cross-attached to a number of organizations, commonly a mechanized infantry company, to create company teams. It may also be placed under operational control (OPCON) of a light infantry battalion.

G-36.    Under battlefield conditions, the wingman concept facilitates control of the platoon when it operates in sections. The concept requires that one tank orient on another tank on either its left or right side. In the absence of specific instructions, wingmen move, stop, and shoot when their leaders do. In the tank platoon, Tank 2 orients on the platoon leader’s tank, while Tank 3 orients on the platoon sergeant’s tank. The platoon sergeant (PSG) orients on the platoon leader’s tank (Figure G-8).


Figure G-8. The tank wingman concept.

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