More on The Squad & the Assault Cycle

The Squad – Size and Organization
December 5, 2013
VIDEO: Rhodesia Unafraid
December 9, 2013

I posted HERE about ‘The Squad – Size & Organization‘. I advocated for a squad size of twelve or thirteen, with three four man teams. This generated a healthy discussion in comments. I am following up with this post in order to give you more depth on the WHY.

There is a method to the squad size and organization that I am advocating. It is not simply an arbitrary number. The three team squad of either 12 or 13 individuals allows a great deal of flexibility in deployment. What I’m effectively giving you is a half platoon size squad that can operate in the assault cycle just like a platoon does.


Read the rest on the MVT Forum:  Forums Tactics & Leadership CUTT Operations



  1. Chuck says:

    Now we’re getting somewhere. I like the building block and “make it work with what you brung” MTOE of four-man teams of riflemen that can form squads/multiples and eventually platoons and up. This, I think, is the point of departure from the US Army/USMC doctrinal approach to small unit tactics and organization. We take what works and adapt it to our purposes. Train, network, prepare and when the time comes, teams link up to go forth and do bad things to bad people.

    As an Army infantryman, I’ve never really had much use for other than the two fire team squad (always thought 11 men was better than 9, though, since 9 always ends up being 8 or 7 or 6…) but that was in the context of a 39+ man rifle platoon with three rifle squads and weapons squad. However, you’ve absolutely sold me on it in this context. Definitely bridges the gap between squads and platoons, but maintains the small footprint and low profile necessary for the early stages of an insurgency.

    Networks are inherently more agile and adaptive than rigid hierarchical organizations. And that’s what this is: a way to operationalize a network. This is a bottom up approach that I think avoids many of the pitfalls and vulnerabilities of top down, leader driven organizations, i.e., hard to decapitate something that has no head. Alternatively, and perhaps more accurately, that has many heads and when you chop one off, more replace it. We are the Hydra, eh?

    Sounds like a D H S planner’s worst nightmare.

  2. F says:

    I also like this direction:
    Modifying big Army/Marine TTP’s into something adapted for well-armed trained civilians.

    PoU is dictated by METT-TC.

    This sounds almost trivial but the more you think about it, the more profound it becomes.

    Since the “Equipment” and “Troops” portion for armed civilians (here I include ex-military, police etc) in a SHTF situation will be very different from what forms the basis of our Army/USMC/Britmil manuals, our PoU will be different.
    It follows that out TTP’s must also be different.
    The modular nature of the 2x2x3 squad proposed here by max,seems well adapted to likely FREEFOR/SHTF environment with its numbers limitations and unique demands on profile, while at the same time attempting a almost platoon like ability to assault/ambush.
    A modular mini-platoon so to speak.

    • F says:

      PS: Also there is no reason, we can’t take a high end AR with a machine gun steel CHF barrel such as a Daniel Defense or a LWRC, add a bumpfire stock (or NFA legal bumpfire trigger group)
      pair it with large magazines and voila you have a field expedient LMG.

    • F says:

      PS#2: Other possible civilian access weapons are over caliber semi auto rifles such as 50 Beowulf that could be used to reduce light cover (brick walls) to smithereens.

  3. Max Velocity says:

    I’m happy to see that I am getting through. Light bulbs are going on. I wrote ‘Contact’ for this specific purpose – to take my personal training, military education and experience, and translate it into a useful medium.
    Its been frustrating when I keep seeing the FMs and the Ranger Handbook and such a pushed forward. Like, “Yea, I can get FM blah blah free on the internet.”
    But it’s not what you want. Either as a civilian trying to learn tactics or a veteran wanting to apply tactics to the civilian world, or an SHTF environment.
    Very gratifying.

  4. Mark says:

    Max…any thoughts on utilization of designated marksmen in regards to deployment and their ability to suppress the enemy.


    • Max Velocity says:

      Yes. accuracy is vital, I want everyone to be a designated marksman! It’s not about what rifle you have, it doesn’t have to be that he has some sort of 7.62 rifle or whatever., AR15’s with ACOGs or similar should be sufficient. Its not good enough to only have one guy who can shoot straight! Train everyone to accurate suppression of a point target.
      If they are in a fire team, and not a separate specialist, then their rifle should be able to be used on the assault, not just in a sharpshooter role.

      • Submariner says:

        Before the introduction of the M203, the Marine rifle squad consisted in three four-man fire teams with a squad leader and a grenadier armed with an M79 and .45 who worked directly for him. Perhaps, using this template, the DM could replace the grenadier to offer more precise fires as directed by the squad leader. It worked but requires yet another man.

      • Chuck says:

        Agree that a DM position is not really necessary. You’ll always have that one guy who can outshoot anyone in the squad. When you need someone to take that long shot, he’s the guy. Commonality of platform is preferable to having one guy with a long range rifle. I look at the Army’s push for DMs as a solution to the dismal state of Army marksmanship in general. If you had an Army full of shooters you wouldn’t need DMs since anyone should be able to make those shots with the basic service weapon, especially now that everyone is issued optics.

        We can’t afford that kind of specialization since we need to be flexible and our four man teams should be interchangeable and capable of all of our basic mission sets.

        My .02 anyway. YMMV.

        • QuietMan says:

          DM came about less because the Army couldn’t shoot but more because of the lack of an intermediate range capability and optics for a battlefield covered in civilians. It’s a good program and, in the beginning, was very cost effective. We only have about 750K M14s in various arsenals, so those were dragged out and pressed into service. (And here Max gets an idea for a raid in his third book….)

          It could be easily replicated by us using known shooters and hunting rifles. The requirement for the alleged 1000 yard shot doesn’t come around often. DM are also used for the precision support by fire needed on a battlefield covered in civilians.


          He’s a pretty good example of using what you have in the correct terrain and weather for resistance. I’d encourage studying him, and that war, in more depth. Molotov cocktails, home production of stuff, civilian involvement.

          Sub, the M79 is back. We had them in OIFII and they were much preferred over the M203 because of their accuracy. You tube has quite a few videos on Syrian field expedient grenade launchers. Apparently they’re so common there’s even a misfire drill.

          • Chuck says:

            QM, I agree the DM training program as outlined in FM 3-22.8 and implemented by AMU and others is a good one. But the basic Army concept is that DMs will use stock M4 with issued optic and fill the gap between the 300 meter Army standard and the limits of the weapon. The point is, because the Army issues a weapon and optic combo (M4 with ACOG) that has much more capability than the Army trains its operators means it has had to come up with a program to fill that gap, but has determined that it is only cost effective to train the most promising shooters and that is the DM program.

            The use of M14s for DM rifles was a theater specific solution to the problem and is not implemented across the board. Conventional units do not normally keep M14 EBRs in their arms rooms back in CONUS. Thus, the DM program was geared toward the standard service rifle, with or without optics.

          • Chuck says:

            Correction, meant to say FM 3-22.9

          • QuietMan says:

            DM has trickled down to the rest of the Army since they started issuing the ACOG. My son teaches it to line grunts.

            The Army is wont to name things with fancy names. What DM really is is the marksmanship we should all be striving for. 3.22.9 is a fine reference, particularly the train the trainer chapters. Working your way through it dry firing wouldn’t be a waste of time. For some odd reason, the Army is content to ignore its own manuals as well. I guess if we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re unpredictable.

            I taught in a schoolhouse a few years before I retired. I was amazed at what was available. If anyone knew what information I carted out of there, they’d be amazed too.

          • Chuck says:

            Quiet Man said,

            “For some odd reason, the Army is content to ignore its own manuals as well.”

            Truer words were never spoken, especially when it comes to marksmanship manuals.

    • SP says:

      Mark: Boer fighters during the Boer War are a classic example of riflemen/marksmen. Every fighter (basically a farmer) was a soldier (mostly mounted light infantry) and yet they where also excellent marksmen. That was mainly due to their environment, however I digress.

      With the right training, you shouldn’t really need a designated marksman, as every man/woman should be able to drop targets at range, effectively and sufficiently.

      A sniper on the other hand is different. A designated marksman is not to be confused as having a true sniper.

  5. Tom S says:

    Excellent. Overcome adapt innovate

    and don’t forget the after action debrief and have and maintain a “learning organization” don’t be fixated on a “doctrine” or some -leaders this is the way it’s done and I am in command

    Be flexible become excellent with what you brung…. accuracy over volume

    • Mark says:

      My thought wasn’t about the overall need for accurate fire as that should be a given. However, as a team fires and moves while under fire it seems that being slow and deliberate while retuning fire may be ill advised as those on the other side might exploit that tactic.

      My point was regarding placing a team slightly outside of the area of assault to pick apart and suppress the enemy., so that while the teams move forward firing as accurately as possible the fire team beng utilized as, for lack of a better term hybrid snipers/DM, look for command units or individuals who fire or move aggressively and neutralize them.

      Thanks for the comments and or suggestions.

  6. FatTire says:

    Interesting stuff, I feel like Im taking chess lessons..

    Max mentions the obvious problem of team formation. Pre-collapse this boils down, I think, to apathy. Not enough people think the problem is that bad yet, even amongst the prepper set. I’ll be working on finding people willing to do some training, but I suspect this will take some time. Any tips that have worked for others would be appreciated.

    Post-collapse, Im wondering how important is commonality of weapons systems? Personally, Im getting an AR, but when SHTF what if all we have around us are guys with lever and bolt guns, hunting rifles, shotguns? Are these tactics still going to be workable?

    • Thomas says:

      Teams are interesting in their formation. If you have a local group that you go to lunch with, go to the range with, email with daily – you have the basis of a team. Act as the catalyst that gets them together.

      Commonality is good but you will fight with what you bring. Wars have been fought with bolt guns. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle is one of the finest battle rifles ever fielded. The drawback to hunting rifles is that they are not designed to be fired tens of thousands of times. Otoh, battlefield pick ups will be available in short order.

      If you can not shoot accurately, it does not matter what type of firearm you have. You must hit what you shoot at.

  7. Bergmann says:

    Most of this is useless to me in my situation, but I’m learning a lot. What I mean is its useless in that Ive become the oxymoron that’s called the one man team. I am the DM, fire support etc etc etc etc bah blah blah blah and every other task in every way possible being on my own. Its a completely different monster operating alone. Its combat ineffective thus E&E is the only option I see. But simply put I cant wait until the hammer drops to get tooled up.



  8. […] Ok, great stuff. Some commentary, applying this back to some of what I have talked about the squad and the assault cycle: […]

  9. […] ‘More on The Squad & the Assault Cycle’ […]

  10. […] to clear rooms with it if need be. I wanted it to be able to serve in any  position through the assault cycle of a squad. There was no way I could have done all those things with my bolt […]