Straight leg infantry on M113s The M113 rightly seems to be undergoing a renaissance. If some of the excellent suggestions of Mike Sparks are acted upon, we may see units other than mechanized infantry using these vehicles.
However, a mechanized infantry platoon, as described in FM 7-7 has 34 personnel. Many "straight leg" infantry platoons, such as the Airborne can have as many as 41 bodies if you include the FO team. A Ranger Platoon has a ten man MG squad which means with a platoon medic and FO team the platoon strength is 43. You can fit this many men on four M113s, but what is the best way to do it? The first move is to convert the weapons squad into vehicle crews. Since these are experienced machine gunners, this is a logical role for them. Only seven men are needed from the weapons squad since one track will be commanded by the platoon sergeant. This also allows the rifle squads to form the dismount elements with minimal disruption of their usual fighting organization. To create a little more room in the rifle squad vehicles the size of the squad dismount elements can be reduced to eight men. The "surplus" men and rest of the weapons squad ride in the command vehicle and are formed into a "Platoon headquarters weapons team". This unit is usually armed with a GPMG but in certain situations may man anti-armour weapons instead. Another weapon the HQ weapons team should have available is a 60mm "Commando" mortar. This will greatly increase the platoon's illumination, screening and indirect fire capabilities. Some provision should be made so that the mortar can be fired from the M113's roof, and possibly a mounting constructed that allows the mortar to be preset at a desired range and bearing.
FEEDBACK A Veteran Infantryman writes: "When I was an infantryman in the in 3rd Armored Division, we had a concept called "The Traveling Arms Room". We had about 8 people in each M113, and a Dragon antitank missile, a .50 cal MG, a few LAWs, a few mines, M16-203 combinations, and M-60 machine guns. When dismounting we decided what weapons to take with us, leaving behind the M-60s if we were on a recon patrol, taking extra M203s if we had a trench line, more LAWs if we had an armor threat etc."