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Modern Dutch Armored Infantry Platoons (CV90)

Military Organization > Netherlands > Dutch Mechanized Armored Infantry Platoons

Beginning in 2009, Dutch mechanized infantry began transitioning from their YPR-765A1 AIFVs (based on the M113) with new CV9035s produced by BAE Systems Hägglunds. This transition saw the adoption of a new organization which sought to adapt to the superior capabilities of the CV9035 and the increased independence of the mounted element.


This article will cover the organization and equipment of the Dutch Mechanized Armored Infantry Platoon (Pantserinfanteriepeloton Gemechaniseerd; painfpel) when mounted on the CV9035, based on doctrine pubished in the 2010s and conversations with Dutch servicemembers. This article is intended to depict the contents of the doctrine from the time, and not necessarily SOP unless "I've been told [by a servicemember]" comes up. If I receive contradictory information from current servicemembers, I will update this page with the details.


This applies to infantry part of the 43 Mechanized Brigade. Since 2014, 13 Light Brigade has been different, equipped principally with Boxer armored personnel carriers and Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicles.


↓ Organization

Allocation: 3 per Armored Infantry Company, Armored Infantry Battalion, 43 Mechanized Brigade

Type: Armored Infantry

Time Frame: 2016

Personnel: 2 Officers, 7 NCOs, 29 Enlisted


All personnel are armed with a Glock 17 pistol as a sidearm. Four Mossberg M-590 shotguns are authorized per platoon for the groups' designated pioneer.


Romeo Group / R groep (2 OF, 8 OR)

Vehicle Component

1× Platoon Commander (R), First Lieutenant, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Gunner, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Driver, armed with C8NLD carbine


Infantry Component

1× Platoon Commander (Dismounted) (R1), Second Lieutenant/First Lieutenant, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Group Commander (R2), Corporal/Corporal 1st Class (OLK), armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Deputy Group Commander (R3), armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)

1× Anti-Tank Rifleman/Combat Life Saver, armed with a C7NLD rifle and Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapon

1× Marksman, armed with HK417 designated marksman rifle*

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner/Assistant Marksman, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)


*2016 manual lists an Accuracy International AWM (8.6) as the group's "long-range rifle", but an infantry officer informed me this is actually an HK417. The new AX, which is phasing out the AWM, is reserved for sniper teams.


Echo Group / E groep (10 OR)

Vehicle Component

1× Deputy Platoon Commander (E), Sergeant First Class, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Gunner, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Driver, armed with C8NLD carbine


Infantry Component

1× Deputy Platoon Commander (Dismounted) (E1), Sergeant First Class, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Group Commander (E2), Sergeant, armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Deputy Group Commander (E3), Corporal/Corporal 1st Class (OLK), armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)

1× Anti-Tank Rifleman/Combat Life Saver, armed with a C7NLD rifle and Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapon

1× Marksman, armed with HK417 designated marksman rifle

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner/Assistant Marksman, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)


Alpha and Bravo Groups / A- en B-groepen (9 OR), each:

Vehicle Component

1× Vehicle Commander (A/B), Sergeant, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Gunner, armed with C8NLD carbine

1× Vehicle Driver, armed with C8NLD carbine


Infantry Component

1× Group Commander (A2/B2), Sergeant, armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Deputy Group Commander (A3/B3), Corporal/Corporal 1st Class (OLK), armed with C7NLD rifle and AG-36 40mm grenade laucher

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)

1× Anti-Tank Rifleman/Combat Life Saver**, armed with a C7NLD rifle and Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapon

1× Light Support Weapon Gunner/Anti-Tank Assistant**, armed with Minimi light machine gun (LOW)

1× Rifleman, armed with C7NLD rifle


**Together can form a MAG medium machine gun (MOW) team. Two MAGs are authorized per platoon.

 

↓ Discussion

When the Dutch adopted the CV9035 for their Mechanized Armored Infantry, they adopted a new platoon organization that diverged from the Motorized Armored Infantry and Airmobile Infantry. Since 2014, this has applied to infantry in 43 Mechanized Brigade, which is internationally integrated into the German 1st Panzer Division. The 13 Mechanized Brigade originally had CV90s as well, but these were transferred out around 2014 and it was reflagged as 13 Light Brigade.


Both CV90 and Boxer platoons have 4 vehicles and 4 dismounted infantry groups (6 troops each) that can be task organized in different ways, but there are 3 big differences. First, CV90 platoons have two sets of platoon leadership (officer Platoon Commanders and NCO Deputies), 1 for each the vehicle and dismounted elements. Second, the CV90s without platoon leadership have their own NCO vehicle commanders. And third, the weapons allocation is slightly different.


The Mechanized Platoon consists of 4 groups, each corresponding to a vehicle and consisting of the vehicle component and infantry component. We'll start by looking at the vehicle component since it's the most different.


↓ Vehicles and Platoon Leadership

The platoon's vehicles are CV9035NL PRI infantry fighting vehicles, armed with a Bushmaster MK III 35 mm autocannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. They have a 3-man crew and seating for 7 dismounts (allowing for a 6-man dismount squad when accounting for platoon leadership). They are split into A, R, E, and B Groups, but can also operate as 2-vehicle sections (R and E section).

HB 7-35A "Pantserinfanteriepeloton Gemechaniseerd" (Jan 2016), p. 42

Romeo Group ('R' being part of commanders' radio callsigns the Dutch Army) corresponds to the Platoon Commanders (Lieutenants), while Echo Group corresponds to the Deputy Commanders (Sergeant 1st Class). Alpha and Bravo Groups are the remaining vehicles, acting as wingmen to the Romeo and Echo vehicles under the command of Sergeants. This improves the task management in the vehicle crew, with the Vehicle Commander (c-igv) able to keep on the look out for targets, lead and coordinate while the Vehicle Gunner engages. This is different from Boxer platoons, where each vehicle only has 2 dedicated crewmembers Gunner and Driver) other than the squad leaders and single set of platoon leadership. The Romeo and Echo Boxers doctrinally have Corporals who have completed a leadership training course (OLK) as Vehicle Gunners (.50 cal). OLK training qualifies them for deputy group leader billets, and is something the Deputy Group Leaders also complete. The Bravo and Alpha Boxers meanwhile doctrinally have a regular Corporal as the vehicle gunner. In those units, I've been told by servicemembers that the Deputy Commander takes command of the mounted element when the Platoon Commander dismounts. However, most Vehicle Commanders (the Group Leaders and Platoon Commander) dismount.


But in CV90 units, there are two completely separate sets of leadership for the vehicle and infantry components of the platoon. The vehicle component is the senior, with the overall Platoon Commander (c-painfpel) and the Deputy Platoon Commander (plv c-painfpel). The Platoon Commander is a First Lieutenant, having been a dismounted Platoon Commander previously. They have overall command of the platoon, but on account of the platoon's structure, can lead the vehicle element independently of the dismounts if the mission requires. The Dismounted Platoon Commander (c-painfpel uitg; in earlier bulletins referred to as a deputy) meanwhile is responsible for the infantry. The dismounted commander is the junior, starting as a Second Lieutenant but normally reaching First Lieutenant before they advance to their next position.


The Deputy Platoon Commander (in earlier bulletins referred to as a pelotonssergeant) advises the overall commander, coordinates logistics and maintenance with the Company Deputy Commander, coordinates platoon training with the company's Operations Sergeant Major, and supervises all the platoon's NCOs. The Dismounted Deputy Commander (plv c-painfpel uitg) meanwhile is responsible for just the infantry component, and executes sustainment and training tasks for the dismounts in coordination with the Deputy Commander.

Anecdotally I've read that having two sets of leadership increases the tempo a platoon can operate, and reduces the responsibilities of the dismounted leadership to focus on the fight (while the mounted leadership retains overall command and coordinates with adjacent/higher units on the battle management system). Although I think there would be more mounted vs. dismounted culture issues if implemented in the U.S. Army (with different career paths for 11-series infantry 19-series armor officers potentially, as armor is taking ownership of the Bradley), the mounted commander in the Dutch case was a dismounted leader at the start of their career and unambiguously the senior officer. For example, according to the 2016 manual the dismounted Platoon Commander will be part of the company radio net and will attend the company officers briefing, but it will be the overall Platoon Commander who participates in those briefings and back briefings. If the two elements are operating separately, the dismounted Platoon Commander will have the flexibility to decide how their element accomplishes an objective. But when the situation calls for unity of action, or if there is a significant time strain, the overall Platoon Commander can command both mounted and dismounted elements.


Additionally, because the vehicle-mounted Deputy Platoon Commander is more experienced than the dismounted Platoon Commander and has access to the battle management system, the mounted Deputy (E) is by default the one to take command of the overall platoon if the mounted Commander (R) goes down. At least doctrinally, as the line of succession can change depending on mission needs. If the mounted Platoon Commander (R) is still up, the mounted Deputy (E) doesn't issue orders to R1. Regardless, it is highly unusual for an NCO to have command over an officer in other countries' infantry, even in theory. But it does make a degree of sense given the experience of the Echo and their awareness of the bigger picture via the CV90's systems.


Although it will likely seem complicated, especially when I get to the task organization part, in reality with proper planning, contingencies, and clearly defined responsibilities, the execution doesn't have to be.


↓ Dismounted Infantry

The Mechanized Platoon's dismount element or infantry component is based on 4 non-identical groups that can be grouped in different ways depending on the situation. This section will discuss the 4 groups as listed, while the next section will discuss task organization.


Each Armored Infantry Group has 6 dismounts. The Romeo and Echo Groups are almost identical, and different from Alpha and Bravo Groups which are also identical to each other. Note, all personnel in the platoon are armed with Glock 17 pistols and sidearms.


The group is led by a Group Commander (A2/R2/E2/B2). Alpha Group leader is the most senior and third in the line of succession should the dismounted Commander (R1) and Deputy (E1) go down. Bravo Group leader is the fourth in line. Romeo is the least experienced. Doctrinally, Echo, Alpha, and Bravo Groups are led by a Sergeant, while Romeo Group is led by a Corporal. This is because when the platoon is conducting a dismount-centric task, the dismount element is generally meant to operate as 3 Groups or 2 Sections (at least per 2011 and 2016 publications). During vehicle-centric operations, the Corporal leads Romeo Group, but during dismount-centric operations, they become Echo Group's deputy and a fire team leader. This set-up allows the Armored Infantry to maintain a common-set of dismounted drills with the Airmobile Infantry, based on 8-man groups with 2 fire teams of 4. This is notably different from later Boxer platoon bulletins I've received, which have a Sergeant for each of the 4× 6-man groups. I don't know the reason for the difference, although it could be that the Boxer publication is newer.

Each Group Commander is assisted by a Deputy Group Commander, ranking Corporal (OLK) in all groups except Romeo. This is because as per the publications (not sure about SOP), when task organized, the Romeo Group Deputy (R3) falls into the Romeo Group Commander's fire team under Echo Group, and thus isn't in charge of an element. Both the Group Commander and Deputy are meant to be armed with C7NLD rifles with AG-36 grenade launchers attached.


As far as other personnel, Romeo and Echo Group each have 2 Light Support Weapon Gunners, 1 Anti-Tank Rifleman, and 1 Marksman. The LSW Gunners are armed with the Minimi 5.56 light machine gun, designated the "LOW". One gunner acts as an assistant to the Marksman, scanning for targets and engaging at shorter ranges. The Marksman, as per the 2016 manual, was supposed to be armed with an Accuracy International 8.6mm sniper rifle. However, I'm told that these days this is an HK 417 designated marksman rifle. The Anti-Tank Rifleman meanwhile is armed with a C7NLD rifle and Panzerfaust 3. They also act as the group's combat lifesaver (Gewondenhelper or GWHLP). Each group is also authorized a Mossberg M590 shotgun, which typically is meant to go to the group infantry pioneer who is responsible for ammunition safety, mine/IED clearing, and breaching. It's not clearly marked in the 2016 manual who this would be in the Mechanized Platoon (in Boxer and Airmobile publications it's a regular Rifleman, but in the Romeo/Echo Groups the Marksman takes this spot).


The Alpha and Bravo Groups are basically the same, except instead of the Marksman, the groups have a regular Rifleman. Additionally, in these groups, the Anti-Tank Rifleman and one of the Minimi gunners can alternatively be used to man a MAG medium machine gun (MOW). The platoon has 2 of these.


↓ Platoon Task Organization

Depending on the situation, the mounted and dismounted elements of the platoon can be task organized in a variety of ways. Factors that may influence this include whether the dismounts are acting in close support of individual vehicles, or if the mounted and dismounted elements are acting semi- or fully-independently. It can also depend on if the platoon is acting as a whole element or split into two independent components consisting of both vehicles and infantry.


Platoon as 4 Groups (Mounted Operation)

Platoon operating as 4 groups (A, R, E, and B)

When the platoon is essentially acting as a mounted force, where vehicles are the focus and infantry have limited tasks (or there is time pressure), the platoon can operate as 4 groups of 6 soldiers. This could also be used in a case where infantry and vehicles are operating very close together as a single element in an attack, and not semi-independently (e..g the CV90s occupying a support-by-fire position while the platoon flanks the enemy for the dismounted attack). The integrity of the infantry is maintained on the dismount, meaning they don't have to reorganize, which according to the manual might be required due to time or environmental restraints. Perhaps if the vehicles are dispersed or physically separated by terrain/enemy fire?


Platoon as 2 Sections (Mounted Operation Variant)

Platoon operating as 2 Sections (R and E), with sections consisting of 2 Groups each

The platoon can also operate as two equal sections (Romeo and Echo Section). Like in the 4-group variant, the 2-section variant is characterized by close cooperation between the vehicles and infantry. They are each led by the Platoon Commanders (Romeos) and Deputies (Echos), hence the name. It is essentially splitting the 4-group variant into two independent halves, each with 2 CV90s and 2 Infantry Groups. This means the infantry don't necessarily have to reorganize on the dismount.

Platoon operating as 2 Sections (R and E), with sections based on 3 Fire Teams.

However, the sections could also be reorganized as 3 fire teams of 4 soldiers each, as well. The reorganization, when possible, is preferred for a dismounted task where the platoon needs to operate as two semi-independent elements.


It should be noted that the vehicle-element of the platoon always operates in either 2 sections or as a whole platoon. It does not act in 3 groups as the infantry can.


Platoon as 3 Groups + Vehicles (Dismount-Centric)

Dismounted Platoon operating independently of the vehicles as 3 Groups (A, E, and B) consisting of 2 Fire Teams each.

When performing a dismounted operation (that is, infantry doing principally infantry things with mutual support from vehicles, or perhaps separately from the vehicles if they have their own mission), 3 groups of 8 soldiers is the preferred method. This requires the most complex reorganization. The steps are:

  • The platoon reorganizes into Alpha, Echo, and Bravo Groups with no Romeo Group.

  • Alpha Group gains Romeo Group's Marksman and LSW/Assistant Marksman

  • Bravo Group gains Echo Group's Marksman and LSW/Assistant Marksman

  • Echo Group gains Romeo's Group Commander, Deputy Group Commander, LSW, and Anti-Tank Rifleman.

Example of vehicles taking a support by fire position while the dismount element maneuvers through a forest to attack on foot.

The remaining groups are organized as 2 fire teams of 4 soldiers each, with the Group Commander and Deputy Group Commander leading them. In the case of the new Echo Group, Romeo Group's Commander (a Corporal rather than a Sergeant) leads the second fire team.


This more or less results in dismounted squad identical in manpower/structure (although different in armament) to the Airmobile Infantry of the time. This allows for a commonality of dismounted drills. Some differences include the Mechanized squad sometimes ending up with 3 machine guns instead of 2, the Airmobile squad having 2 dedicated pioneers, and the Airmobile/Motorized Companies having a company-level Sniper Group making the squad-level DMRs unnecessary. But based on the organograms I've seen, the MAG isn't a fixture of the Airmobile platoon. Motorized Boxer platoons by contrast have 4 MAG medium machine guns authorized instead of 2, or one per group as optional equipment.


↓ Sources

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