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Squad

Symbol for squad

The squad was the command echelon below the platoon. It was commanded by a noncommissioned officer with a lower-ranking NCO or private first class as assistant. The squad typically numbered 8 to 12 men and was the lowest command echelon in many armed services, while others (such as the U.S. Marines) formalized a further division of the squad into fire teams of four or five men.

Japanese squads typically consisted of a squad leader, a light machine gun team of two or three men, and eight to ten riflemen. The riflemen were armed with bolt-action rifles and grenades. Japanese doctrine mimicked the German reliance on the light machine gun as the main source of firepower for the squad or section.

The U.S. Army squad in 1943 consisted of twelve men, ten armed with Garand rifles, one armed with a Browning automatic rifle (BAR), and one armed with a 1903 Springfield sniper rifle. The BAR took the place of the light machine gun section of other armies. American troops were fond of the BAR, but most postwar analysts have concluded that it was a highly unsatisfactory substitute for a light machine gun. However, this was compensated to some extent by the Garand semiautomatic rifles issued to the riflemen and by the typically generous supply of ammunition and grenades.

U.S. Marine squads were initially nine men with two BARs, but in late 1944 the organization was switched to three fire teams of four men each, with one man in each fire team equipped with a BAR. The increase from two to three BARs per squad took some time to make good, as did the change in small unit tactics. Combined with lack of training space at their base at Pavuvu, this meant that 1 Marine Division went into action on Peleliu with a new organization and new weapons whose employment they had not fully mastered.

The equivalent Commonwealth echelon was the section, which resembled a Japanese or German squad in organization and doctrine. The equivalent Dutch echelon was the brigade, which numbered 15 men. This should not be confused with the Commonwealth brigade, which was a much larger formation, equivalent to a regiment.

References

Hoffman (2001)

Kehn (2008)

Mansoor (1999)

Rottman (2002)


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