Military Organization > United States > U.S. Army Infantry Rifle Platoon (Current)

U.S. Army Infantry Rifle Platoon (Current)

The following is the current organization of the U.S. Army Infantry Rifle Platoon effective as of 2007. This type of rifle platoon differs from a Stryker or Mechanized (Bradley) rifle platoon in that light infantry do not have integral infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) or infantry combat vehicle (ICV) support. Light infantry operate primarily by foot, or by light vehicles such as utility vehicles and MRAPs. This organization applies to the Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, including unit types such as mountain, air assault, airborne infantry, and other light infantry. The equipment listed in the organization section are as of 2019. Notes on equipment changes since 2007 at in the Discussion section. This article is based on the field manuals on the topic linked under "Sources" and consultation with U.S. Army personnel and others who are in the business.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

  3. Posters/Prints

  4. Sources

Modern Light Infantry Rifle Platoon web-
 

Organization

  • Type: Infantry Platoon

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Personnel: 1 Officer and 38 Enlisted and 3 Usual Enlisted Attachments

​→ Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 2 Enlisted + 3 Attachments)

  • 1× Platoon Leader, Second Lieutenant or First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant First Class (OR-7), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

  • 1× Radiotelephone Operator (RTO), Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M4A1 Carbine

  • 1× Combat Medic [A], Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M4A1 Carbine

  • 1× Forward Observer [B], Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M4A1 Carbine

  • 1× Fire Support RTO [B], Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M4A1 Carbine

​→ 3× Rifle Squads (9 Enlisted Each)

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

  • Alpha Team (4 men)

    • 1× Team Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

    • 1× Automatic Rifleman, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M249 light machine gun

    • 1× Grenadier, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and 1 M320 40mm grenade launcher

    • 1× Rifleman, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and 1 AT4 disposable light anti-tank weapon

  • Bravo Team (4 men)

    • 1× Team Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

    • 1× Automatic Rifleman, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M249 light machine gun

    • 1× Grenadier, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and 1 M320 40mm grenade launcher

    • 1× Rifleman, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and 1 AT4 disposable light anti-tank weapon [C]

​→ 1× Weapons Squad (9 Enlisted)

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

  • Gun Team 1 (2 men)

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M240L general-purpose machine gun and M9/M17 pistol

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and M9/M17 pistol [D]

  • Gun Team 2 (2 men)

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 M240L general-purpose machine gun and M9/M17 pistol

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine and M9/M17 pistol [D]

  • Javelin Team 1 (2 men)

    • 1× Javelin Gunner, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 FGM-148 Javelin ATGM and M4A1 carbine

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

  • Javelin Team 2 (2 men)

    • 1× Javelin Gunner, Specialist (OR-4), armed with 1 FGM-148 Javelin ATGM and M4A1 carbine

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private First Class (OR-3), armed with 1 M4A1 carbine

[A] Combat medic is attached from the battalion medical platoon.

 

[B] Forward observer and fire support RTO attached from outside the platoon
 

[C] If a rifleman receives the proper training and is skilled enough, there is the opportunity to be designated a squad designated marksman. They may be armed with a M4A1 Carbine with a high power optic, Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR), M110 SASS, or newer M110A1 CSASS (as of 2018-9). However, the usage of designated marksmen at the squad level varies.

[D] Although the Weapons Squad's assistant M240 gunner is authorized a pistol, they rarely if ever receive one in practice. The machine gunner typically receives a pistol.

 

Discussion

Overview

The U.S. Army's Infantry Rifle Platoon consists of a platoon headquarters, 3 rifle squads, and 1 weapons squads. This amounts to 1 officer and 38 permanent enlisted personnel, as well as 3 usually attached enlisted personnel. The different types of light infantry organizations were all consolidated into the one "Infantry" organization in 2007. These included air assault, light infantry, infantry, mountain infantry, airborne, and the Rangers. This coincided with the U.S. Army's reorganization and implementation of the Brigade Combat Teams (BCT). The current infantry rifle platoon organization is identical to the infantry, air assault, and airborne rifle platoon organizations listed in the Change 1 of FM 7-8 published in 2001. However, it differed from the light infantry platoons, which lacked a weapons squad and had 2 M240 teams in the platoon headquarters, and the ranger rifle platoon, which lacked Javelins in its weapons squad.

The platoon headquarters consists of a platoon leader (Second or First Lieutenant), platoon sergeant (Sergeant First Class) and radiotelephone operator/RTO (specialist). Additionally, a combat medic (Specialist), forward observer (Sergeant), and fire support RTO (Specialist) are also typically attached, but are not integral to the unit. The forward observer and fire support RTO work as a team to direct fire support, including but not limited to company mortars, battalion mortars, and field artillery. Generally, the RTO sticks with the platoon leader to keep them in constant communication with their squads and company headquarters. The combat medic and platoon sergeant are generally paired as the platoon sergeant is responsible for coordinating CASEVAC.

The weapons squad consists of a squad leader (Staff Sergeant), 2 machine gun teams, and 2 Close Combat Missile System (CMS)/Javelin teams. Each machine gun team has 1 machine gunner and 1 assistant gunner, serving an M240L general-purpose machine gun. The assistant gunner is on paper the junior member of the team, although in practice a weapons squad leader may designate the junior member as the machine gunner to. The assistant gunner aids in loading the weapon, carrying ammo, changing barrels, and spotting targets with binoculars. The assistant gunner also carries 2 spare barrels for the gun. Meanwhile, each Javelin team serves an FGM-148 Javelin top-attack fire-and-forget ATGM, typically with 2-3 missiles per team. Depending on the situation and preferences of the platoon leader and weapons squad leader, this TO&E may be altered in practice. Variations observed include the cannibalization of a Javelin team to form a 3rd gun team or to give each gun team an ammunition bearer, or the supplementation of the Javelins with M3 MAAWS (84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles).

Each rifle squad consists of 9 enlisted personnel. The squad is led by a squad leader (Staff Sergeant) and further subdivided into two homogenous fire teams each led by a fire team leader (Sergeant). Each fire team consists of the fire team leader, an automatic rifleman (Specialist) serving an M249 light machine gun, grenadier (Specialist) serving an M4A1 carbine and M320 grenade launcher, and rifleman (Private First Class). It should be noted that in practice, fire team leaders will often be senior Specialists due to a lack of manpower. Additionally, billets designated as Specialists or Private First Classes can be filled by either or a Private (PV2) depending on the manpower of the unit. As with all units in most militaries, the exact composition of units in practice varies depending on manning.

 

Summary of Changes

  • Different "light" infantry organizations - light, mountain, airborne, air assault - were consolidated into the standard infantry rifle platoon organization following the implementation of the Brigade Combat Team system. Such platoons are tactical units in Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT).

  • The M16A2 rifle was replaced by the M4 carbine as the U.S. Army's forward deployed service weapon beginning around 1994. The replacement had finalized by around 2005. The M4 carbine began to be replaced by the newly produced M4A1 carbines and began to be converted to the new variant in 2014. The conversion has been mostly completed by 2019. 

  • The M320 began replacing the M203 grenade launcher in 2009 and the replacement has mostly been completed by 2019.

  • The M240L, a lightened and shortened variant of the FN MAG, was type classified in 2010 and has mostly replaced the M240B in rifle platoons by 2019.

  • The rifle platoons and, depending on the organization, the rifle company's anti-armor section's M47 Dragon ATGM was replaced in the TO&E with the FGM-148 Javelin around 1997.

 

Weapons

The primary service weapon of the U.S. Army is the M4A1 carbine. With the exception of the M240 and M249 machine gunners, every member of the platoon is armed with an M4A1. Newly produced M4A1s began replacing the M4 carbine in 2012, with conversion from M4 to M4A1s beginning in 2014. The M4 carbine had been the primary service weapon of the infantry since the late 1990s, fully replacing the M16A2 in frontline units by 2005. The primary difference between the M4 and M4A1 is the M4A1 is equipped with a safe-semi-full auto fire selector, while the M4 is safe-semi-3 round burst. Additionally, new production M4A1s have a heavier barrel and heavier buffer.

The standard rifle squad level-automatic weapon is the M249 light machine gun - a 5.56x45mm NATO chambered belt-fed light machine gun and variant of the FN Minimi. Modern M249s refurbished through the product improvement program (PIP) feature fixes to the construction of the ageing platform, a shortened barrel, collapsible stock, and other improvements. The standard platoon-level machine gun is the M240L - a 7.62x51mm NATO chambered general-purpose machine gun and variant of the FN MAG - which began replacing the M240B in the 2010s. In comparison to the Bravo, the Lima features a titanium receiver for weight savings, a shortened barrel, and collapsible stock. The standard ammo carriage for each gun team is 100 rounds on the machine gunner and 300 rounds on the assistant gunner, as well as 100 rounds on the weapons squad leader. However, this is entirely mission dependent. Each team carries 3 barrels for the M240 in total and the gunner carries enough CLP (gun lubricant) for 72 hours of operation.

Weapons squads are also equipped with FGM-148 Javelin ATGMs, a fire-and-forget top-attack weapon system. Beginning in the 2010s, M3 MAAWS - the U.S. variant of the M3 Carl Gustaf 84mm recoilless rifle - are also available to rifle platoons. As far as doctrine is concerned, each rifleman (2 per squad) are intended to also be armed with one shoulder-fired disposable anti-armor weapon. Options include the M141 bunker defeat munitions (BDMs), M72 LAWs, and M136 AT-4 anti-tank weapons. The AT-4 is generally the most commonly used of these weapons.

On paper, the 2 machine gunners and 2 assistant gunners contained within the weapons squad are authorized pistols. However, in practice, only the 2 machine gunners receive pistols in most cases. As of 2019, this would most commonly be the M9 pistol, the U.S. designation for the Beretta 92 9mm semi-automatic pistol, although in the future it will be the M17 pistol. The M17 is the Army's new service pistol, based on the SIG Sauer P320, but as of 2019 has not reached most units. The full roll-out is likely to complete within the next few years.

As far as optics are concerned, the most common optics on rifles are the M68 Close Combat Optic (CCO) and M150 Rifle Combat Optic (RCO). The M68 is the designation for the Aimpoint CompM2 and CompM4 non-magnifying red dot sight, and is the most common sight. As of 2019, the CompM4 has mostly replaced the CompM2, although they share the same designation. The M150 is the designation for the Trijicon TA01NSN and TA31RCO 4x32 ACOG, and is typically issued to NCOs and personnel in the platoon headquarters. EOTech holographic sights are in limited use, but are not common. Meanwhile, the most common optic on machine guns is the M145 Machine Gun Optic, the designation for the ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x 3.4x28mm.

The total weapons systems integral to the rifle platoon include: 31 M4A1 carbines, 6 M249 light machine guns, 2 M240 machine guns, 2 FGM-148 Javelins, 6 AT-4 anti-tank weapons, 6 M320 grenade launchers, and 2-4 M9/M17 pistols.

 
 
 
 

Available Prints:

Sources

 

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