Military Organization > United States > U.S. Army Rifle Company (1945-1948)

U.S. Army Rifle Company (1945-1948)

 

The following is an overview of the Rifle Company of the U.S. Army from June 1945 to through the end of World War II all the way to April 1948. This is based off of the official T/O (table of organization) which are listed in the "Sources" section. 

 

The next level up was the rifle battalion, which consisted of 3 rifle companies, a weapons company, and a battalion HQ & HQ Company.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

  3. Posters/Prints

  4. Sources

US Army Rifle Squad 43-48 web-01.png

Organization (June 1945 to April 1948)

  • Type: Infantry Company

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Personnel: 7 Officers and 235 Enlisted

Company Headquarters (2 Officers and 40 Enlisted)

  • 1× Commanding Officer, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Executive Officer, First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant (OR-8), armed with 1 M1 Carbine
     

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Communication Sergeant, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Clerk, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Armorer-Artificer, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Radio Telephone Operator, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 3× Messengers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 1× Bugler, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 21× Basic Riflemen [A], Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

​→ 1× Mess Section (9 Enlisted)

  • 1× Mess Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 3× Cooks, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 2× Cooks, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 3× Cook's Helpers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

​→ Additional Equipment: Each company headquarters was allotted a spare 6 M1918A2 BARs for issue at the company commander's discretion.

3× Rifle Platoons (1 Officer and 40 Enlisted each) 

​→ Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 4 Enlisted)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Second or First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Platoon Guide, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 2× Messengers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each
     

​→ 3× Rifle Squads (12 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Assistant Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle and M7 grenade launcher

  • 1× Automatic Rifleman, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1918A2 Browning automatic rifle

  • 1× Assistant Automatic Rifleman, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Ammo Bearer, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 2× Rifle Grenadiers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle and M7 grenade launcher each

  • 5× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

→ Additional Equipment: Each platoon is allocated one M1903A4 Springfield sniper rifle for issue at the platoon commander's discretion. 

1× Weapons Platoon (1 Officer and 75 Enlisted each) 

​→ Platoon Headquarters (2 Officers and 7 Enlisted)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Assistant Platoon Commander, Second Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 4× Light Truck Drivers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5) (1 Technician 5th Grade), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

  • 2× Messengers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

​→ Light Machine Gun Section (12 Enlisted)

  • 1× Section Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Messenger, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 2× Light Machine Gun Squads (5 Enlisted):

    • 1× Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

    • 1× Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1919A4/6 light machine gun and 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 2× Ammo Bearers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each
       

​→ Mortar Section (17 Enlisted)

  • 1× Section Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Messenger, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 3× Mortar Squads (5 Enlisted):

    • 1× Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

    • 1× Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 60mm mortar and 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 2× Ammo Bearers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

​→ Special Weapons Section (17 Enlisted)

  • 1× Section Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Messenger, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 3× Special Weapons Squads (5 Enlisted):

    • 1× Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

    • 1× Gunner, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M18 57mm recoilless rifle and 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 1× Assistant Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1911A1 pistol

    • 2× Ammo Bearers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

​→ Assault Section (22 Enlisted)

  • 1× Section Leader (Flamethrower Technician), Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 3× Assault Squads (7 Enlisted):

    • 1× Squad Leader (Flamethrower Technician), Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

    • 2× Gunners, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 2.36-inch "Bazooka" rocket launcher and 1 M1911A1 pistol each

    • 2× Assistant Gunners, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

    • 2× Ammo Bearers, Private (OR-1) to Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

​→ Additional Equipment: Each weapons platoon headquarters had 4 jeeps and 4 trailers (essentially 1 per section) and 1 M2HB Browning machine gun.

[A] The basic duty riflemen contained in the Company Headquarters were intended to be used as replacements to keep the rifle platoons at full strength.

 
 

Discussion

Overview

Following victory in Europe , the organization of the U.S. Army rifle company received a rework as part of changes to T/O No. 7-17. At this time the rifle company consisted of 1 company headquarters, 1 weapons platoon, and 3 rifle platoons.

With the exception of minor equipment changes, the organization of the rifle platoon did not change substantially between 1942 and 1948. Minor changes came to the company headquarters (mainly in the inclusion of an RTO billet and the addition of more basic duty riflemen to be used as replacements). Although this is entirely speculation on my part, the increase in the number of basic duty riflemen from 17 to 21 in the company headquarters could have been in preparation for taking heavier casualties in future Pacific operations. In February 1944, the Bazooka rocket launchers once allocated to the weapons platoon headquarters were transferred to the company headquarters to be issued when needed. This was reversed in June 1945, and the company headquarter's spare weapons inventory was reduced to 6 M1918A2 BARs. In the field, these BARs would be allocated to the rifle platoons so as to increase the firepower from 1 BAR per squad to 2. The Marine Corps had realized by that point that 1-2 BARs was insufficient for their needs, and increased their allotment of BARs to 3 per squad. The Army had not done this officially until late in the Korean War (possibly because there was no break in combat great enough to implement a major T/O change like this), but additional BARs were unofficially allocated so as to increase the squads' firepower.

The largest change came to the weapons platoon. From 1940 to 1945 (prior to 1940 the weapons platoon did not exist in rifle companies), the weapons platoon consisted of a mortar section serving 3 60mm mortars and an LMG section serving 2 M1919A4/6 belt-fed machine guns. The 81mm mortars were battalion assets contained within the battalion weapons company. In the changes made in June 1945, a special weapons section and assault section were added to the weapons platoon. The special weapons section contained 3 M18 57mm recoilless rifles, while the assault section contained 6 Bazooka rocket launchers and 2 flamethrower technicians. The mortar section and LMG section retained their basic organization. An assistant platoon commander was added to aid in command and control, while 2 additional jeeps, trailers, and drivers were added for a grand total of 4 each to accommodate the increase in equipment.

At the rifle platoon level, the basic organization remained the same: 1 platoon headquarters and 3 rifle squads. The rifle squad was identical to the February 1944 change when assistant squad leaders were promoted to sergeants and squad leaders were promoted to staff sergeants. Save for these promotions, the basic organization was the same as that set in the July 1943 changes. Prior to this (as of 1942), the only major difference was instead of having 3 M7 grenade launchers spread across the assistant squad leader and 2 rifle grenadiers, the squad was allotted 1 M1 grenade launcher paired with an M1903 Springfield with a dedicated rifle grenadier. This was because the M7 grenade launcher that was paired with the M1 Garand had not yet been issued. Otherwise, the squad manpower and structure remained the same. 

Based on testimony given at the 1946 Infantry Conference that weighed possible improvements to the rifle squad and other small units, rifle platoons typically did not do squad-level fire and maneuver. Although Able (scout/security), Baker (fires), and Charley (maneuver) teams had been identified in late war manuals on squad tactics, it was found that either because of lack of experience among infantry NCOs due to attrition or because of the operational environment, most maneuver was done at the platoon or company level. This means that at the lowest levels squads would maneuver with cover from other squads in the platoon, or entire platoons would maneuver while other platoons in the company cover. This was much different for the Marine Corps in the Pacific, who solidified their 3 fire team per squad set up and small unit tactics in the mid and late war. Thus, squad-level fire and maneuver and the comparative lack of firepower (only 1 BAR) were not seen as problems in 1946. Rather, the issue was seen to be command and control difficulties due to the large size of the squads. The dominant opinion was against the inclusion of subunits (e.g. fire teams) at the squad level. The Marines had rectified command and control issues by creating a fire team structure with 3 fire team leaders in total for the squad leaders to delegate to. The Army's solution was to decrease the size of the squad from 12 personnel to 9 personnel with no discernible fire teams so that the squad leader could control the entire squad with aid from an assistant squad leader. Further, the Bazookas and light machine guns that were allocated to the weapons platoons were also transferred to a rifle platoon-level weapons squad. The weapons platoon assault section and LMG section were then dissolved. These changes were implemented in April 1948 with T/O 7-17N.

Summary of Changes

  • A Special Weapons Section (armed with 3 57mm recoilless rifles) and an Assault Section (armed with 6 Bazooka rocket launchers) were added to the Weapons platoon.

  • Two additional jeeps and trailers were added to the weapons platoon headquarters, as well as two additional truck drivers. An assistant platoon commander was also added to the weapons platoon with the addition of personnel.

  • The 5 Bazookas that had been transferred to each rifle company headquarters from the weapon platoon headquarters in February 1944 were transferred back to the weapons platoon in the form of an Assault Section.

  • A radiotelephone operator (RTO) was added the company headquarters.

  • The 6 spare .45 caliber submachine guns allocated as spares to the company headquarters were removed.

  • Four basic duty riflemen were added to each company headquarters.

 
 
 

Available Prints:

Sources

  • Table of Organization No. 7-17 "Infantry Rifle Company" published 11 June 1945
     

  • "Report of Committee B on Tactics and Technique: Rifle Squad - Organization Study", The Infantry Conference, published June 1946
     

  • Table of Organization No. 7-17N "Infantry Rifle Company" published 16 April 1948

 

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

      - Marcus Aurelius

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