Our unit is currently capable of portraying a few different units as 10th Mountain. The standard rifle squad and light machine-gun squad being the easiest for us to 'pull off' as we are fully equipped for it. Eventually we'll have our bazooka and hopefully a 60mm mortar which will add additional capabilities in the near-term. We also have a plethora of stretchers and medic equipment which mainly goes unused, so I am certain we could set up a fully staffed aid station.
Now you're saying, "wait a minute, 87th MIR, Dog Company? You're supposed to be a heavy weapons company." Well, short answer, yes. Long answer, yes and no. Yes, in Italy the 87th had heavy weapons companies with the M1917A1s and M1 Mortars. But at Kiska the heavy weapons companies were stripped of their heavy weapons and made into rifle companies. So, our company was trained to do both and did do both during WWII.
"Yes, but you portray mostly the 87th in Italy, and yet you have no heavy weapons...." In case you were not aware, we accept donations (they are tax deductible). About $5,000 might get us a M1917A1, tripod mount, water can, hose, and some blanks to start off with. Don't have $5,000 to drop? Neither do we. Want to go into the cost of a 'reenactor functional' 81mm mortar too? Didn't think so. We'll get there eventually, just not in the foreseeable future (1 year).
Rifle Squad & Light Machine-Gun Squad, & 60-mm Mortar Squad
The standard rifle squad consists of a squad leader, assistant squad leader, two scouts, automatic rifleman, assistant automatic rifleman, ammunition bearer, and five riflemen. In short, twelve (angry) men. The second in command may also function as an anti-tank grenadier.
In order seen from left to right by the numbers:
Assistant Squad Leader, #11-#7 Riflemen, #6 Ammo Bearer, #5 Assistant Automatic Rifleman,
#4 Automatic Rifleman, #3 & #2 Scouts, Squad Leader
See also: Figure 26 below
The rifle squad can further be broken down into three elements called Able, Baker, and Charlie. As a unit we will divide the unit into these three elements at events. Breaking the unit down in this way ensures we are able to communicate easier.
Able is the security element comprised of the squad leader and two scouts.
Baker is the base of fire comprised of the automatic rifleman, assistant automatic rifleman, and ammo bearer.
Charlie is the maneuvering element comprised of the assistant squad leader and five riflemen.
Light Machine-Gun Squad
The LMG squad is much smaller than a rifle squad. It consists of a squad leader, gunner, assistant gunner, and two ammo bearers. Every squad has only one machine gun it services, in addition to individual small-arms. Each squad is apart of a section, in which, two squads form one section. A section is lead by a section leader. Two sections form a platoon.
The standard weapon of the Light Machine-Gun squad would be the M1919A4 or M1919A6 machine guns. Five men for one weapon may seem like a great deal of excess, but the amount of fire a machine-gun is expected to throw down range demands a great deal of ammo to be carried by the squad. Light machine-gun squads were expected to cover the advances or withdraws of rifle squads and be able to move relatively quickly forward to take control of valuable positions. One well placed machine-gun could (temporarily) stall the advance of the enemy.
Despite the fact that they are called 'light machine-guns' they are not light in terms of weight. They are more portable than their heavy counterparts. The difference in role between light and heavy is explained later in the section on the heavy weapons squad.
60-mm Mortar Squad
The 60-mm Mortar, M2, is the main weapon of the 60-mm Mortar squad. The 60mm mortar round is the same diameter as the rocket used in the 2.36" (60-mm) rocket launcher, the latter being named "2.36-inch" to avoid confusion between the two.
The mortar squad consists of five men, a squad leader, 60-mm mortar gunner, assistant gunner, and two ammo bearers. Every squad thus crews one 60-mm mortar and carries sufficient ammunition to supply the initial needs of the weapon. Mortars by their nature will consume ammunition faster than machine-guns due to the size and weight of the rounds fired and the initial demand of the weapon.
Mortars were used to fill the 'gap' between the hand grenade and artillery.
The squad column appears as shown in the following figure. Distance between each man is roughly five (5) paces. The scouts will generally be towards the front, followed by the base of fire, and then the maneuvering element. The squad leader is going to be up front where he can receive information from the scouts easily and then direct the base of fire.
A column in the field isn't like a column on parade, it need not be a perfect line.
Squad Column (opened)
Basically as seen above except for now the men are spread out more and not in a single column. The general order of the squad in column, Able, Baker, and then Charlie, remains the same.
The width of the squad should be roughly twenty paces with five paces between any man and the man in front of or behind him. This will vary given the situation and terrain.
Squad Column to Skirmishers
This following figure shows the movement of the squad from column to a skirmish line. Able will take up the center of the line. Baker will form behind Able, waiting for the squad leader's command as to where to put down a base of fire. Charlie spreads out with two men to either flank and two to the rear (this is where the assistant squad leader goes), behind Baker.
Forming the squad as skirmishers assumes (generally) that the enemy is to your front and that your flanks are protected one way or another (by friendlies, terrain, or other circumstances). Distance between men as skirmishers will be roughly five paces or as determined by the terrain or situation.
The squad in diamond formation provides all around cover. The scouts (#2 and #3) are forward with the squad leader following behind some distance (15 paces roughly). Baker follows the squad leader at 5 pace intervals. Charlie is again split between the flanks and rear with the assistant squad leader being in the rear.
While in diamond formation those forward look forward (assuming the enemy is this direction, else the scouts could be elsewhere). Those on the flanks are looking to their respective flanks and ensuring that the squad is not taken by surprise. Those in the rear are watching the squad's back in case the enemy is coming up from behind. Baker is close on hand to provide a steady stream of fire in any direction as immediately ordered by the squad leader.
No matter what direction the enemy is encountered, he can be quickly met by an adjustment of the maneuvering element, Charlie. Try it now!
Heavy Weapons Company, Platoon, Section & Squad
From FM 7-15
The heavy weapons company is capable of little or no independent action. It cannot take ground and it cannot hold ground indefinitely without assistance of rifle units. It is capable of strong fire concentrations at critical points. Adequate observation is essential for effective accomplishment of its mission.
The mission of the heavy weapons company is to give continuous close support and protection to the rifle companies. Protection includes protection against air attack; protection of the flanks; protection of reorganizations and consolidations; and protection of assembly areas and bivouacs."
The heavy weapons company is arranged in the following manner:
It is formed of two .30 caliber MG platoons and one 81-mm mortar platoon. For a total of, 8 heavy machine-guns and six 81-mm mortars within the entire company. It feels skimpy because the heavy weapons company is meant to lay down heavy amounts of fire to cover the rifle companies its supporting.
Capabilities and Limitations of Heavy Machine Gun
From the FM again
"The caliber .30 heavy machine gun is a crew-served weapon capable of delivering a large volume of continuous fire. Medium rate of fire (125 rounds per minute) can be sustained indefinitely. Rapid fire (250 rounds per minute) can be fired for several minutes, but steaming will occur within 2 or 3 minutes. Because of its fixed mount, the heavy machine gun is capable of delivering overhead fires and of firing accurately at night from predetermined data. Due to the length of the beaten zone (horizontal pattern of dispersion) enfilade fire is the most effective type of fire delivered by this weapon. When overhead fires are not possible or desirable, fires are directed through gaps between riflemen or groups of riflemen. Gaps may be created and maintained for such fire."
This would be without the weapon set up.
Other Formations including platoon formations
This would be without the weapon(s) set up.
click for larger
Please see the section on Fortifications for information regarding the setup of heavy weapons. All, if not, most fighting done by a heavy weapons company, platoon, section, or squad will be done from a predetermined fixed position.
Positions will be placed to support front line troops, work in concert with the light machine guns of the rifle companies, provide interlocking field of fire, provide concealment, freedom of movement, and cover.