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Swiss Army Rifle Squad (21st Century)

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Timeframe Included: 2019


The following is the current organization of the Swiss Army's rifle squad. This information is based upon personal consultation with a Swiss veteran who provided the information translated from a physical French source.


The basic organization of the Swiss rifle squad is as follows:


Fire Team Bravo

  • Squad Leader (German: Gruppenführer, French: Chef de groupe), a Wachtmeister (OR-5), armed with Sturmgewehr 90 (SIG 550) rifle with a Kern Aarau 4×24 optic. The squad leader commands the squad, fire team bravo, and attends a designated marksman course.

  • Panzerfaust Operator (German: Panzerfaustschützen, French: Tireur Panzerfaust), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Panzerfaust 3 and Sturmgewehr 90 rifle.

  • Machine Gunner (German: MG-Schützen, French: Tireur Fusil-Mitrailleur), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Leichtes Maschinengewehr 05 (FN Minimi) light machine gun.

  • Rifleman (German: Füsilier, French: Fusilier), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Sturmgewehr 90 rifle with an attached Gewehraufsatz 97 (SIG GL 5040) 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher.

Fire Team Alpha

  • Fire Team Leader (German: Truppführer, French: Chef d’équipe), a Gefreiter (OR-2), armed with Sturmgewehr 90 (SIG 550) rifle with a Kern Aarau 4×24 optic. The fire team leader leads fire team alpha and attends a designated marksman course.

  • Panzerfaust Operator (German: Panzerfaustschützen, French: Tireur Panzerfaust), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Panzerfaust 3 and Sturmgewehr 90 rifle.

  • Machine Gunner (German: MG-Schützen, French: Tireur Fusil-Mitrailleur), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Leichtes Maschinengewehr 05 (FN Minimi) light machine gun.

  • Rifleman (German: Füsilier, French: Fusilier), a Soldat (OR-1), armed with a Sturmgewehr 90 rifle with an attached Gewehraufsatz 97 (SIG GL 5040) 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher.

In essence, the Alpha Fire Team (German: Trupp Alpha; French: Équipe Alpha) fills the assault role. For example, on patrol, the Alpha fire Team takes point while the Bravo Fire Team led by the squad leader follows. Additionally, Alpha Team would be charged with breaching a structure if needed. Bravo Fire Team (German: Trupp Bravo; French: Équipe Bravo) can be considered the support component of the squad. In terms of doctrine, this is similar to the Russian motorized rifle squad method of assault where the squad leader remains with the fire group (a squad automatic weapon and RPG-7) and the senior rifleman leads the riflemen in the maneuver group.


Each Panzerfaust operator only carries one round worth of Panzerfaust 3 ammunition. With the Panzerfaust 3, the munition and the tube are one piece. When not in use, the tube/munition are carried on the back, while the firing unit and optic are carried in a satchel which may be attached immediately before use. At the same time, this means that if both Panzerfaust operators are placed in an ad hoc support fire team, one operator may become the primary, bringing their firing unit and optic, while the other may provide them their reload.


As for ammunition for personal small arms, this varies depending on the unit and situation. The minimum load for riflemen is 6 20-round magazines (120 rounds total) carried in a belt. An additional 10 20-round magazines (200 rounds) can be added to the load through the addition of a chest rig, with the potential for more ammunition in a ruck. The minimum ammunition load for the machine gunners is 800 rounds each with additional belts carried throughout the squad.


In addition to the allocated weapons listed above, a small 60mm mortar may be made available to the squad for the purpose of illumination during night operations. One rifleman may be designated the role of mortarman. Additionally, one rifleman could also be designated a communications specialist. If not a communications specialist, the rifleman could specialize in explosives. In this case, they would be the squad's breaching specialist.


As over 90 percent of the Swiss military is composed of conscripts, with professional officers and non-commissioned officers being the minority, squad members are typically specialized on their specific weapon system and role. Unlike some armed forces, such as the modern German Army which has most of its squad members qualify on the Panzerfaust 3 after a certain amount of service for example, the different squad members are not as interchangeable in their roles.


Platoon and Company Organization


Each Swiss rifle company consists of 4 platoons. The platoon consists of 4 squads mounted in 4 light armored vehicles. The 4 vehicles and squads are divided in two equally sized sections. The vehicles and their crews are integral to the platoon, rather than an attachment from another unit. The first section is commanded by the platoon leader (typically a Leutnant or Oberleutnant) while the second section is commanded by the assistant platoon commander (typically an Oberwachtmeister). Both the commander and assistant commander fill the role of vehicle commander for the vehicles they occupy.


The typical vehicle used by the platoon in urban environments is the Mowag DURO IIIP. In the country, the platoon would field the Mowag Piranha II. All vehicle crews are trained to operate both vehicles. Each vehicle is crewed by a driver (Soldat), a machine gunner (Soldat), and a vehicle commander (Wachtmeister) in addition to the dismounts. Although the crew does not dismount when the rest of the squad does, they are also armed with Sturmgewehr 90 rifles. The vehicle commanders and squad leaders are typically of the same rank (except in the case where the platoon commander or assistant platoon commander are also the vehicle commander). When the squad is mounted, command generally defaults to the vehicle commander who executes the orders of the platoon commander.


Typically, either the platoon commander or assistant platoon commander will dismount with the infantry. Whoever does not will assume command of the vehicles, who will act separately, but in support of the infantry. If both dismount, the senior-most vehicle commander (a wachtmeister) will assume command of the vehicles. In terms of command and control, the senior vehicle commander will then command their vehicle, the other vehicle in their section (whose commander has dismounted), and the vehicle commander remaining in the other section.


An overview of the platoon organization is as follows:


Swiss Mechanized Infantry Platoon

1st Section

  • 1st Vehicle - 1× Platoon Leader/Section Leader/Vehicle Commander (Leutnant or Oberleutnant, OF-1), 1× Driver (Soldat, OR-1), 1× Gunner (Soldat, OR-1)

  • 1st Squad - 8-man squad (see above)

  • 2nd Vehicle - 1× Vehicle Commander (Wachtmeister, OR-5), 1× Driver (Soldat, OR-1), 1× Gunner (Soldat, OR-1)

  • 2nd Squad - 8-man squad (see above)

2nd Section

  • 3rd Vehicle - 1× Assistant Platoon Leader/Section Leader/Vehicle Commander (Oberwachtmeister, OF-5b), 1× Driver (Soldat, OR-1), 1× Gunner (Soldat, OR-1)

  • 3rd Squad - 8-man squad (see above)

  • 4th Vehicle - 1× Vehicle Commander (Wachtmeister, OR-5), 1× Driver (Soldat, OR-1), 1× Gunner (Soldat, OR-1)

  • 4th Squad - 8-man squad (see above)


Prints Available:



Update, 4 March 2019: Information about the nomenclature of the fire teams and ammunition load has been added.


Update, 5 March 2019: Information about the overall platoon and vehicle crews have been added.


Update, 5 March 2019: Additional information about the rifleman's potential specialization have been added.






"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

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