Military Organization > Russian Federation > Russian Motorized Rifle Platoon (BMP)

Russian Motorized Rifle Platoon (BMP) 

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following is the current organization of the Russian Ground Forces Motorized Rifle Platoon when mounted in BMP-2 or BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles. This organization is similar to that of the Soviet Motorized Rifle Platoon with a number of key differences and was effective as of approximately 2000.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Mounted Configuration

  3. Discussion

  4. Posters/Prints

  5. Sources

BMP Platoon Graphic Modern-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Mechanized Infantry Platoon

  • Origin: Russian Ground Forces (Russian Federation)

  • Personnel: 1 Officer and 29 Enlisted

​→ Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 5 Enlisted)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Junior Lieutenant to Senior Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle and PM pistol

  • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander/Platoon Sergeant, Senior Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 AKS-74U carbine

  • 1× Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PKP general-purpose machine gun

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle

  • 1× Sniper, Private (OR-1) or Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 SVD designated marksman rifle

  • 1× Medic-Rifleman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle

​→ 3× Rifle Sections (8 Enlisted each)

  • Fire Group (4 men)

    • 1× Squad Commander/Vehicle Commander, Junior Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle

    • 1× Grenadier, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 RPG-7V and 1 AK-74M rifle or 1 AKS-74U carbine

    • 1× Assistant Grenadier, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 RPK-74M light machine gun or PKP Pecheneg general-purpose machine gun

  • Maneuver Group (2 men)

    • 1× Senior Rifleman, Yefreytor (OR-4) or Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle and GP-30 under-barrel grenade launcher

    • 1× Rifleman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74M rifle and GP-30 under-barrel grenade launcher

  • Vehicle Crew (2 men)

    • 1× Gunner-Operator/Deputy Vehicle Commander, Yefreytor (OR-4) or Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AKS-74U carbine

    • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AKS-74U carbine

 

Mounted Configuration

BMP (1)

Dismounted Personnel:

  • 1× Platoon Commander (Vehicle Commander When Mounted)

  • 1× Sniper or Medic-Rifleman

  • 1× Rifle Squad

Mounted Personnel:

  • 1× Gunner-Operator/Deputy Vehicle Commander

  • 1× Mechanic Driver

BMP (2)

Dismounted Personnel:

  • 1× Medic-Rifleman or Sniper

  • 1× Rifle Squad

Mounted Personnel:

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant/Vehicle Commander (Does Not Dismount)

  • 1× Gunner-Operator/Deputy Vehicle Commander

  • 1× Mechanic Driver

BMP (3)

Dismounted Personnel:

  • 1× Machine Gunner (PKP)

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner

  • 1× Rifle Squad (Squad Commander Acts as Vehicle Commander When Mounted)

Mounted Personnel:

  • 1× Gunner-Operator/Deputy Vehicle Commander

  • 1× Mechanic Driver

 
 

Seating Diagrams

 

Discussion

Overview

The Russian Ground Forces Motorized Rifle Platoon consists of a Platoon Headquarters, 3 Rifle Squads, and 3 vehicles. In a BMP-2 or BMP-3 equipped platoon, this includes 1 officer and 29 enlisted personnel. There are 3 motorized rifle platoons per motorized rifle company (plus 2 vehicles in the company headquarters), and 3 motorized rifle companies per battalion. The number of motorized rifle battalions per brigade depends on if it is a motorized rifle or tank brigade.

 

It is generally understood that the Platoon Headquarters (отделения управления) consists of 6 personnel: Platoon Commander (Командир взвода), Deputy Platoon Commander or Platoon Sergeant (Зам. командира взвода), Sniper (Снайпер), Medic-Rifleman (Стрелок-санитар), Machine Gunner (Пулеметчик), and Assistant Machine Gunner (Номер расчета). All Platoon HQ personnel are cross-loaded across the platoon's 3 BMPs, which is laid out in the seating diagrams under the Mounted Configuration section. Generally, the Platoon Commander (a Lieutenant) and Platoon Sergeant (a Senior Sergeant) act as vehicle commanders of separate vehicles when mounted. When the platoon dismounts, the Platoon Commander dismounts, but the Platoon Sergeant stays mounted and takes command of the mounted element. Meanwhile, command of the Platoon Commander's vehicle is taken over by that vehicle's gunner. Although depending on the formation and mission, the 2 man machine gun team in the Platoon HQ and the Sniper (armed with an SVD designated marksman rifle) are directed by the Platoon Commander.

 

Each Rifle Squad (Мотострелковое Отделение) consists of 6 integral dismounts and 2 vehicle crews attached from battalion level.

 

The dismounts include the Squad Commander (Командир отделения), Senior Rifleman (Старший стрелок), Machine Gunner (Пулеметчик), Grenadier (Гранатометчик), Assistant Grenadier (помощник гранатометчика), and Rifleman (Стрелок). The dismounts are further subdivided into the Fire Group and Maneuver Group. The Fire Group is led by the Squad Commander and consists of the Machine Gunner (armed with an RPK-74 or PKP), Grenadier (armed with an RPG-7V, AK-74M, and 2 rockets), and Assistant Grenadier (armed with an AK-74M and 3 additional rockets. Generally, the Squad Leader will be positioned so as to best control the Fire Group. The Maneuver Group consists of the Senior Rifleman and Rifleman, who are both armed with AK-74M rifles and GP-25 or GP-30 under-barrel grenade launchers.

 

In a squad assault, the Fire Group and vehicle will generally provide cover for the Maneuver Group as it moves under the direction of the Senior Rifleman. The Fire Group would follow with support from the Maneuver Group and vehicle. Generally when in a line formation, the Maneuver Group will form on one side of the BMP while the Fire Group will form on the other, although variants of the exact placement exist. In a seating situation where the squad leader is sitting in the vehicle commander seat (not the case in the Platoon Commander or Platoon Sergeant’s vehicles), when dismounting the Senior Rifleman is the first out (due to his position near the hatch in the rear of the vehicle) and the Squad Leader is the last out (due to his position in the turret) typically.

 

The vehicle crews consist of the Mechanic-Driver (Механик-водитель) and Gunner-Operator (наводчик-оператор). When mounted, the Squad Commander sits in the vehicle commander seat and directs the vehicle crew. However, when the Squad Commander dismounts, the Gunner-Operator takes command of the vehicle (the only other remaining personnel being the Mechanic-Driver) and takes directions from the Platoon Sergeant. This is why in some literature the Gunner-Operator of a BMP is also referred to as the Deputy Commander of the Combat Vehicle.

 

Vehicles and Combined Arms

 

The BMP-2 and BMP-3 are the motorized rifle branch's primary tracked infantry fighting vehicles, with the BMP-3 the newer of the two. The BMP-3 is armed with the 2A70 100mm cannon, capable of firing shells and up to 6 9M117 Bastion anti-tank guided missiles, as well as a coaxial 2A72 30mm autocannon and PKT 7.62mm machine gun. Further, there are 2 PKT machine guns mounted in the bow, able to be manned by 2 dismounts or remotely by the driver when the squad dismounts. Meanwhile, the BMP-2 is arm 2A42 32mm autocannon, coaxial PKTM, and 9M113 Konkurs ATGMs.

 

Inheriting the doctrine of the former Soviet Union and its motorized rifle platoons, the Russian Ground Forces motorized rifle platoon consists of 3 vehicles (typically BMP-3, BMP-2, BMP-1, MT-LBM or BTR-82). The two primary variations applicable for this specific platoon organization are the BMP-2 and BMP-3, with BTRs and MT-LBMs typically having the addition of one SVD-armed Sniper per squad and the inclusion of an assistant machine gunner billet. The BMP-2 has 6 passenger seats in the rear and 1 passenger seat behind the driver, in addition to 1 driver station, 1 gunner station, and 1 commander station. Thus, a squad and vehicle crew only takes up 8 of 10 seats. This is to accommodate for up to 2 Platoon HQ or attached personnel per vehicle. The BMP-3 has the same passenger capacity as the BMP-2, although the configuration was changed. The engine was moved from the front of the vehicle (BMP-2) to the rear (BMP-3). Thus, rather than 2 rows of 3 seats facing outward separated by fuel stowage in the rear plus 1 seat behind the driver, there are 5 seats in the rear in one row (3 folding off of the engine deck and 2 folding off of the side walls). There are 2 additional seats in the bow, which double as PKT machine gun positions. The driver's seat was also re-positioned from the front left to the front center directly in front of the turret. Meanwhile, the vehicle commander and gunner remain seated in the turret.

 

In general, the Senior Rifleman would placed close to the rear hatch. The Automatic Rifleman/Squad Machine Gunner would dismount from the passenger seat behind the driver. However, depending on the manning and preferences of the platoon, that seat may remain empty or used as gear storage as it is not a desirable position. Riding on top of the BMP is also popular in COIN and other environments, as the dismounts have a better chance of surviving an IED blast or rocket outside of the vehicle than inside. In theory, the Platoon HQ’s machine gun team would be placed in the BMP not also manned by the Platoon Commander or Platoon Sergeant as this would leave enough room for the team to stay together. However, this limitation would only apply if the platoon were at full strength. Further, multiple PKP/PKM teams could be designated depending on the preferences of the platoon and company leadership.

 

Russian doctrine is combined arms focused, typically combining the capabilities of motorized rifle and tank units in a single formation. A common configuration, and one which is often seen in Russia’s modern-day Battalion and Company Tactical Groups, is the attachment of a tank company to a motorized rifle battalion or a tank platoon to a motorized rifle company. A motorized rifle platoon alone can cover a frontage of up to 300 meters (50 meters per squad plus a 50 meter interval between squads). The formation would be headed by a tank, up to 100-200 meters ahead of the motorized rifle platoon. The dismounts would advance closely ahead of or in line with their vehicles. Meanwhile, the Platoon Commander, Sniper, any fire support elements (like an AGS grenade launcher squad) and a BMP can trail the platoon’s assault by up to 50 meters, but could also be part of the body of the formation.

 

Weapons

 

The standard service rifle of the Russian Ground Forces is the AK-74M chambered in 5.45x39mm. This replaced both the AK-74 and AKS-74, as the AK-74M features a folding stock as standard. The AK-74M has been slated to be replaced by the newer AK-12, although issue has likely been limited to more specialized units, such as the MVD’s Separate Operational Purpose Division (ODON) which were spotted armed with AK-12s in a military parade. Most personnel in the platoon are issued the AK-74M, although there are a number of exceptions.

 

The Mechanic-Drivers, Gunner-Operators, and Platoon Sergeant are meant to be issued AKS-74U carbines, although some sources also prescribed the Gunner-Operators and Platoon Sergeant AK-74M rifles and the Mechanic-Drivers AKS-74U carbines. The platoon-level machine gunner is armed with a PKM or newer PKP general-purpose machine gun. The platoon-level sniper is armed with an SVD designated marksman rifle, with black polymer furniture being standard since the 1990s although a mix of modern and earlier furniture exists. The squad-level Grenadier is armed with an RPG-7V rocket-propelled grenade launcher as well as an AK-74M rifle. The issue of rifles to Grenadiers was a new Russian addition to the squad organization dating to the First Chechen War in 1994 and onward. The Soviets by comparison often did not issue Grenadiers another weapon other than their RPG-7s. The Grenadier typically carries 2 rockets in a special backpack, while the Assistant Grenadier carries an addition 3.

 

There is some contention regarding the weapon of the squad-level Machine Gunner/Automatic Rifleman following the 2008 “New Look” reforms. While the RPK-74 had been Russia’s standard squad automatic weapon through the 1990s and most of the 2000s, some sources cite a partial if not complete replacement of it in some units by the PKP general-purpose machine gun. The PKP Pecheneg was introduced in 2001 and initially (and by some, still is) considered to be a one-for-one replacement for the older PKM rather than the RPK-74. However, the PKP included a number of updates from the PKM that made it more suitable for the light squad automatic weapon role, such as the replacement of the quick change barrel with a forced air cooling system. However, interestingly enough, the PKP is actually heavier than the PKM and is only marginally shorter. Russian sources, including official military textbook sources from as late as 2017, still refer to the RPK-74 as the standard machine gun of the motorized rifle squad. Other sources prescribe either the RPK-74 or PKP in parenthesis, and others only prescribe the PKP. Although a small sample size, none of the former or current Russian servicemembers the author has consulted with have personally seen evidence that the PKP has completely replaced the RPK. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, with PKPs replacing the RPK-74 and PKM in some units (for a total of 4x PKPs per platoon) and just replacing the PKM in others (for a total of 1x PKP and 3x RPK-74s per platoon).

Disposable light anti-tank weapons, such as the RPG-22, are available to the Russian military, although they are not assigned to specific squad members in the literature. It is likely that they would be issued to riflemen and squad leaders, as they are not encumbered by heavy weapons or ammo, although we cannot speak with any authority about this.

 
 

Available Prints:

Sources:

 

 

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

      - Marcus Aurelius

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