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United States. U.S.
infantry battalions normally
consisted of three rifle companies and a heavy weapons company. A battalion was commanded by a lieutenant colonel,
with a major as executive officer and with a small staff. The
authorized strength in 1943 was 871 men. Each of the three rifle
companies had a strength of 193 men, while the heavy weapons company
had a strength of 126 men equipped with six light mortars, eight medium
machine guns, three heavy machine guns, and four 75mm
infantry guns or seven bazookas. In addition,
there was a headquarters
company of 126 men to provide essential support services, such as field
kitchens, signals, and first aid. The headquarters company also included an antitank platoon with 3 37mm antitank guns and an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon.
Engineer battalions numbered
647 men and were assigned one to a
division. The U.S. Army also
raised a large number of independent tank
battalions, each equipped with 85
tanks. These tended to be
assigned one to each infantry division,
though this was not formalized during the
war. Army Ranger battalions were
raised for special operations
and were trained and equipped as elite light infantry, with few heavy
Regular Marine battalions
Army infantry battalions. However, the Marines also raised a number of defense and raider battalions.
There were also plans to assign a parachute-qualified battalion to
each division, and 1
Marine Division actually landed on Guadalcanal with a parachute
battalion. These specialist battalions were eventually disbanded on the
grounds that they constitute a wasteful "elite within an elite" and to
provide cadre for new Marine units.
Britain. British battalions resembled
American battalions, but had separate administrative and operational
command structures. Administratively, battalions were part of a
regiment, to which their troops were permanently assigned. The regiment
was a regional recruiting and training
formation. Operational command
was exercised by a brigade to which the battalion was attached for the
length of its combat tour. When the battalion became exhausted from
combat, it was pulled from the brigade to absorb replacements from its
parent regiment before being redeployed, quite likely to a different
brigade. This system provided unit cohesion (the soldier identified
with his regiment) while allowing replacements to be drawn from a
somewhat larger pool shared by all the battalions in a regiment.
infantry battalions were similar to American battalions, but were
raised on a regional basis. Thus, all the men of a given battalion came
from the same large city or rural prefecture. This contributed to high
unit cohesion but limited the replacement pool, with heavily engaged
battalions exhausting their replacement pool while other battalions had
plenty of manpower. A Japanese infantry battalion was commanded by a
major rather than a lieutenant colonel, and it had four rifle companies
and a machine gun company along with a detachment of antitank and infantry guns. Total manpower was about 1401 officers and men.
In addition to Army battalions, the Japanese Navy raised units of approximately battalion size for ground operations. Of these, the most formidable were likely the Special Naval Landing Forces. Other battalion-sized naval ground units included Guard Forces (Keibitai), used to defend smaller installations, and Pioneers (Setsueitai), which were construction units often containing a large proportion of Koreans.
"Handbook of Japanese Military Forces" (1944-9-15)
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