Canadians for Gaming….
I have recently been chatting with Chris Rankin who served as a recce troop leader and was later troop leader of RHQ Recce Troop in the 4 CMBG. He told me he was impressed with my models (blush) and he had been working on creating a force for some popular rules. Asked If I was interested in seeing his research and I jumped at the chance! I was very impressed and asked Chris if I could post this online and he agreed, which is great!
So….here it is in its full
I was impressed by the line of 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) models. I think for folks looking at fielding a Canadian brigade there are certain unique characteristics that should be considered. Having joined the Army in 1985, and being a bit of a doctrine geek, I did a little doctrinal research to support building 4 CMBG. As usual, my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up going deeper than originally intended but hopefully the information will be of interest. I have inserted some rough endnotes, but these are really for my own future referencing in case I ever get to the point doing a history of Canadian Army doctrine paper in future.
Much of the recent focus on the period has been created by Battlefronts (BF) Team Yankee line. Accepting at face value BF’s depiction of the 1980’s representing a period when the post war rivals had moved away from a focus on nuclear strategy toward a more ‘conventional’ warfare approach in Europe, I have nevertheless gone back in time to look at how doctrine evolved into the 1980’s; this is one of the examples of where my curiosity got the better of me. I have mostly used the lens of armour corps doctrine to look at some of the considerations for the rules and options for the building of Canadian units and formations. I think these considerations are justified based on the long standing focus in Canadian doctrine on combined arms cooperation/affiliation and the doctrinally prescribed structures.
Bottom line up front, I believe that the following considerations should apply:
– The Bn level HQ should consist of two times M-577. There could be a CO vehicle but it would only consist of a single Comd Tac (both for sabre and recce organizations);
– Armd Sqn HQ should consist of potentially three LEOPARDS (one w/dozer blade);
– There should be scope to form ‘square’ battle groups (BG) and combat teams (Cbt Tm); and
– Like the MILAN, Cdn TOW should be able to function mounted or dismounted and carried by aviation. Although, there is equally an argument to use TOW Under Armour structures.
– Recce Sqn should have some capability to reflect its dismounted surveillance radar.
Armoured Regiment – 1960
The 1960 version of the Corps doctrine focuses on the employment of armour “under both nuclear and non-nuclear conditions.” Not surprisingly, the potential impact of having to fight under nuclear conditions had a significant bearing on tactical doctrine. This is summed up by the publications statement that, “While it is true that the employment of the armour regiment/squadron may not appear to have change materially with these new conditions, it must be appreciated that the application of armoured tactics now is directed towards one goal: to create, through conventional manoeuvring, conditions for the effective use of nuclear weapons and/or to exploit nuclear effects.” This statement gives a better appreciation for the carry over into subsequent doctrine of the “exploit nuclear fires task” that has remained a feature up to current doctrine. The nuclear aspect of course cuts both ways, there is a significant emphasis in the doctrine on the need for armoured forces to be able to rapidly disperse to avoid the effects of being targeted by enemy nuclear effects and then rapidly concentrate for offensive attack (early shades of the Army’s current evolving concept of adaptive dispersed operations (ADO) perhaps?). As such, the concentration of armour could become more difficult at higher unit/formation levels. The dangers associated with this were well recognized; while concentration invites nuclear attack, dispersion “increases a formation’s vulnerability to defeat in detail by infiltration and penetration. This danger makes regrouping between battle groups hazardous and difficult at any level of command…” Nevertheless, the acceptance of having to operate from ‘semi-isolated positions’ necessitated that “all arms officers be familiar with the function of all arms. Commanders must be prepared to command and control sub-units from other arms…” Additionally, the importance of ‘affiliation’ – the pre-designation of supporting relationship of units/sub-units to work together during operations and subsequently routinely train together – is present.
The doctrine certainly speaks to the emphasis on the requirement of arms cooperation. With regard to specific armour/infantry cooperation, it notes these form the basis of cooperating “teams”. Specifically, it notes that the size of the teams will be at the regiment/battalion level or some combination of the sub-units. Note that the term combat team – in current doctrine the grouping of infantry and tanks together with combat support and combat service support elements – is not yet used. In fact, my own interpretation of the doctrine is that there is a bit of a reluctance to tie the armour units too closely to infantry; this is largely based on the emphasis of armour manoeuvre and the significant mobility gap that existed between it and the infantry at the time. In discussing this, the doctrine note that, “Infantry, in particular, is very concerned as is armour, since the mobility differential between these two arms has an effect on all battlefield operations undertaken together.” At the time, the Army was still three years away from purchasing the M-113 and while it may have been anticipating the delivery of the BOBCAT (a Canadian designed APC that was never brought into production) and its integration within battalions. Unarmoured, wheeled, troop carrying vehicles (TCVs), carriage on tanks, and APCs from organized units “from higher headquarters” were the only options available to the infantry battalion at the time. It is not clear where/what these APC were (other than perhaps the anticipate BOBCAT). So at this stage, there is still not much on the level of integration between armour and infantry at the sub-unit (company/squadron) level that would been seen in the mid-80s.
Armoured Regiment – 1976
By 1976, the Canadian Army’s armour doctrine had evolved much closer to that of the 1980’s. In fact, I think that this is the only evolution of the Corps doctrine between 1960 and the 1982 version that would have been extant at the period of Team Yankee. It notes, “In a brigade group with three infantry battalions and an armoured regiment, there will be occasions when the regiment will fight as a regiment. However, tank squadrons will often be decentralized to battalions due to the requirement to provide close, intimate, direct fire support to infantry.” It further indicates that the former will normally be in the case of a counter attack or blocking operation. As such, it notes that it will be common for the commanding officer to be in the role of battle group commander; “the armoured regiment headquarters would command a battle group, heavy in armour, based on a mixture of armour squadrons and infantry companies with the required combat support elements added.” One of the great debates within the Canadian Army (and others) revolves around the breaking up of armour assets below squadron level – or as we would say ‘penny packeting’. When a squadron is divided, the two parts are currently referred to as a ‘squadron minus’ or a ‘half squadron’. Even today the use of these two terms are often confused. Interestingly, the doctrine states that “the half squadron, that is two troops with the squadron commander or battle captain in command…” may be detached. So at this stage, there would be nothing to differentiate the two parts of the squadron (sqn minus vs half sqn). However, it does establish the three tank squadron headquarters; “the dozer tank travels in this group and its firepower can be used to support the other two tanks.” This is the doctrinal 19 tank squadron that we still find today. “The three tanks in the squadron headquarters, from a tactics point of view, move as a troop using fire and movement, with the dozer providing the leg on the ground when the squadron commander moves. They can be used to provide a fire support base for the other moving elements of the squadron.” As far as I know, this is a unique structure for Canadian armour squadrons and might indicate that within a wargaming context that the headquarters element could be able to field three tanks vice the standard two as represented in games such as Team Yankee.
In the chapter on all arms co-operation, the doctrine articulates that all arm co-operation can be achieved in two ways: infantry battalions and the armoured regiment can be tactically employed in such a way that mutual support is achieved, or “mixed battle groups based on the armoured regiment or an infantry battalion, and supported by artillery can be formed…” Like the 1960 version, it highlights affiliation and training within those affiliations as one of the key means to achieve good combined arms effect.
With the 3:1 ratio of battalions to regiments, the doctrine lays out the three options for battle group mixes : Option 1 – one armour heavy/square battle group (two squadrons/two companies), one reinforced battle group (one squadron, three companies) and two straight infantry battalions; Option 2 – three reinforced battle groups (one squadron/three companies – armour commands a infantry heavy battle group) and one pure infantry battalion; and Option 3 – three reinforce infantry battalions (one squadron/three companies) with the armour headquarters available for other tasking. Option three does mean that the brigade commander now only has three vice four manoeuvre elements. However, with respect to the possible options that could be made available for the Canadians in Team Yankee for instance, the options for ‘square’ battle group and combat teams are clearly established within the doctrine.
By this stage the infantry were equipped with the M-113 so mobility is less of a concern as, “The APC provides infantry troops with cross country capability and endurance at least equal to the tank…It is essential that battle drills be developed and practiced at all levels to capitalize on mobility and flexibility of mechanized battle groups” While discussion of TCVs disappears, the tactic, technique, procedure (TTP) of carriage of infantry on tanks is still retained.
Armoured Regiment – 1982
The iteration of armour doctrine that would have been extant at the time of Team Yankee, was issued in 1982. This is largely a reiteration of the 76’ version with regard to the stuff I have focused on thus far. This includes repeating the brigade structure of three battalions and one armour regiment and therefore the follow-on deductions for groupings and the comments on the fact that the regiment will likely only be employed as such for c-attack and blocking and the need to command armour heavy battle groups are again stated. It also repeats the 19 tank squadron structure (with 3 tank SHQ). However, it is in this edition that the half squadron/squadron minus differentiation is more clearly defined. It highlights that, “The armoured squadron is structured to fight as a single entity; the functions of the OC and the battle captain are complementary, not redundant. The echelon is not double banked in critical support vehicles or tradesmen.” Nevertheless, it considers the need at times to detach “the squadron minus (ie, the squadron less one or two troops with the OC in command) or the half-squadron (ie, two troops with the battle captain in command with or without a small ad hoc A1 Echelon supplemented , when necessary, by the A2 Echelon).” It advises that this not be done for beyond a 24 hrs period, that a squadron should not be divided across more than one battle group and that “although the troop is the basic fire unit, the squadron is the basic manoeuvre unit.” It particularly notes that the splitting of the squadron may be required should for example of BG need to advance on two axis. This of course could potentially be done with a square combat team on each axis with subsequent infantry companies following behind.
Other points to note are the structure of the RHQ with its two M-577 and a single vehicle for the CO Tac. This allows the RHQ outstanding command and control functionality including acting as the alternate brigade command if required. As well, the integral regimental recce troop within the armoured regiments ORBAT consisting of seven LYNX (M-113 reconnaissance variants). This allowed the CO as a BG commander to have his own capability to conduct close reconnaissance tasks; those specific to his information requirements. Similarly, the infantry battalions had an integral reconnaissance platoon.
The current doctrinal term used to describe a combined arms team at the company squadron level is a combat team. You will have noticed that the term ‘combat team’ is absent from any of the publications mentioned above. Both I and others clearly remember the term in use by the early – middle 1980’s, perhaps in spite of not yet being firmly incorporated into the doctrine books. The earliest copy of combat team doctrine I could physically find was the 1990 version which was to have superseded an earlier 1989-02-09 version. It takes for its definition, “A cbt tm is an op org normally consisting of an inf coy and a tk sqn with elms of other arms and svc alloc according to need.” However, I suspect that there is an earlier version of combat team doctrine from ~1987. The lineage of the handbook seems to start around 1980. During a meeting of the Army Doctrine and Tactics Board (ADTB) in 1980, the minutes reflected that the requirement for combined arms doctrine at the company level was considered complete with the introduction of annexes in the armour and infantry in battle manual. It did note that, “It is understood that the Infantry Advisory Board has recommended a separate manual.” But, by 17 October 85, the ADTB minutes call for a paper on combined arms doctrine/battle drills requirements. At the 28-29 May meeting, Item IV in the minutes orders the production of a new CFP 301(2) Battle Group in Operations – tasked to Force Mobile Command (Army HQ) – and a supplement, CFP 301 (2) Suppl 1 Combat Team Battle Drills – tasked to CTC. It aimed to have the drafts done for use during RV 87. SSO Tac briefed on the work that had already been done at CTC noting that it had “developed into a considerably more comprehensive manual than previously envisioned and, as such, should perhaps be retitled “Combat Team Commander’s Handbook.” And so was born the manual. So, although the doctrine had not yet been formalized, I believe, and have some anecdotal evidence, that the term and its concept pre-date the actual 87’ publication.
Infantry Battalion in Battle
The oldest version of Infantry Battalion in Battle that I was able to find was the 1992 version. There is little additional value added with respect to the discussions about. The principles and considerations for combined arms operations echo those articulated in the RCAC doctrine.
Armour Defence Platoon
The extant doctrine for the Armour Defence Platoon would have been B-OT-317-011/PT-001 Weapons Volume 11 – TOW Heavy Anti-Armour Weapons System (1979-02-23). The Pam deals with both the technical and tactical employment of the TOW system. The Pam describes the platoon as the commanding officer’s (Inf Bn) “primary armoured defence asset.” It notes that the system is best employed in conjunction with other anti-armour weapons within the battalion area to include tanks. “In mobile operations such as the advance, pursuit, delay and withdrawal, it may be more effective to attach TOW sections to combat teams where there fire support is primarily dedicated to the combat team.” This includes the recce squadron. Like the MILAN, the manual outlines the use of TOW either mounted or dismounted. As such, within the context of TY, its rules should be similar to the UK MILAN than the US TOW mounted under armour. It’s also interesting that the term combat team is used within the manual. That said, it was 1985 when TOW Under Armour first began to arrive within the Canadian Army. Thus there could be an argument to treat Canadian TOW in a similar manner as the US Army Hammerhead (although our system did not elevate, it was better protected than the pedestal mounted version).
The Division/Brigade Reconnaissance Regiment/Squadron.
In 1985, “The Division Reconnaissance Regiment consists of a combination of reconnaissance and tank squadrons plus a surveillance squadron and an administrative squadron.” In reality, this unit was never actually formed. The Recce Sqn would be composed of a Sqn HQ, three Recce Troops of seven cars, a Support Troop, a six tube Mortar Troop and an Admin Troop. The Tank Sqn would be composed of a normal 19 tank sabre squadron. The Surv Sqn was to include a Sqn HQ with two unattended ground sensor monitoring stations, two Sensor Troops (mounted in APC) and a Sqn Admin Troop. The role of the Surv Sqn was “to emplace and monitor UGS in the divisional commander’s area of influence. The strength and composition of the Sqn would inevitably change as a more and different technical surveillance devices are adapted. The passive nature of UGS dictate that they are most useful during delay and defensive operations.”
The Brigade Recce Sqn, however, was a fielded force. Its purpose was to conduct medium reconnaissance for the brigade under its direct control to determine the “location, composition, disposition of the enemy reserves, nuclear delivery means and supporting troops which can influence the immediate battle.” In other words, they were the ‘eyes and ears’ of the brigade. The Sqn was to be “lightly armed for self-protection, mounted in fast and agile vehicles, equipped with extensive radio communications and organized to operate a large number of sub-units in surreptitious reconnaissance.” It caveats that, “without important augmentation in firepower, the squadron has almost no capability to impose delay on a determined enemy. It can observe, report, maintain contact and provide warning, but little more.”
As described above, the Sqn consisted of an SHQ (2 x M-577, the Sqn Comd tactical vehicle – Lynx and the Liaison Officers vehicle– Lynx), three x seven car troops, a support troop and an administrative troop. However, the mortar troop was never fielded. The Support Troop was consisted of five M-113s, two equipped with dozer blades and provide a pioneer/infantry functions. As such, surveillance (using the AN/PSS-15 or dismounted patrolling), security and general combat support were its key tasks. While it normally operated as a troop directed by SHQ, it could be tasked to support recce troops or take on independent tasks.
As with the doctrine for the sabre squadrons, affiliation is also noted in the recce doctrine but now highlights aviation in addition to the suspects (engineer, artillery, infantry). The training chapter has an interesting comment in this regard; “Helicopters must become accustomed to operating as an integral part of reconnaissance troops rather than as merely an occasional visitor to the battle.” Canadian aviation support came in the form of the Kiowa light observation helicopter (LOH) from a tactical helicopter squadron recce flight. This would usually see two aircraft working with a recce troop.
Hopefully the information above will prove useful to those wishing to recreate the organizations and capabilities of 4 CMBG.
Canadian Army Training Manual 3-1 – The Armoured Regiment in Battle, Introduction, iii.
CAMT 3-1, 97.
Canadian Forces Publication 305 (1) Interim – Armoured Regiment in Battle, 25 November 1976, 2-1. Note this was interim until it could be translated in French.
CFP 305-1 Interim, 2-4.
B-GL-305-001/FT-001, 1982-05-01. 2-4.
B-GL-301-002/FP-Z01 Combat Team Commander’s Handbook Supplement 1 1990-12-15. 1-1-1.
These speak to combined arms cooperation but do not use the term combat team.
Army Doctrine and Tactics Board, Minutes from 19-21 Feb 1980, Item XV.
ADTB Minutes, Meeting 03 Oct 1985, Item XI.
ADTB Minutes, Meeting 28-29 May 1986, Item IV.
Canadian Force Publication B-OT-317-011/PT-001 Weapons – Volume 11 – TOW Heavy Anti-Armour Weapons System, 1979-02-23, 10-2.
CFP 317, 10-2. For clarity, IAW the Pam, a section is two systems and a detachment is one
B-GL-305-005/FT-001 Interim Armour Volume 5 – The Division Reconnaissance Regiment in Battle, 28 Sep 1985. 2-1.
B-OL-305-002FT-001 Armour Volume 2: The Reconnaissance Squadron in Battle, 79-02-09. 1-4.
B-GL-305-005/FT-001 Interim Armour Volume 5 – The Division Reconnaissance Regiment in Battle. 8-6.