Military Organization > United States > ​U.S. Army Armor Company (Current)

U.S. Army Armor Company (Current)

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following is the current organization of the Armor Company of the U.S. Army. These companies are armed with the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams main battle tank as the Combined Arms Battalion and U.S. Army's basic tactical armor unit.

The next level up is the Combined Arms Battalion (CAB), part of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). After 2016, the Combined Arms Battalion consisted of 1 HQ & HQ Company (HHC) and a mix of 3 Armor or Mechanized Infantry Companies. An ABCT will have 2 CABs that have 2 Armor Companies and 1 Mechanized Infantry Company, while 1 CAB will have 2 Mechanized Infantry Companies and 1 Armor Company.

 

Prior to 2016, each Combined Arms Battalion uniformly consisted of 1 HQ & HQ Company (HHC), 2 Armor Companies and 2 Mechanized Infantry Companies.

The ABCT's Cavalry Squadron also has 1 Armor Company in addition to 1 HQ & HQ Troop (HHT) and 3 Cavalry Troops.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

    • Company HQ​

    • Tank Platoon

  3. Sources

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modern m1 abrams-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Tank Company

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Time Frame: 21st Century

  • Personnel: 5 Officers and 57 Enlisted

Company HQ—Headquarters Section (1 Officer and 12 Enlisted)

→ Tank 1—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain (OF-2)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)
     

→ Tank 2—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Executive Officer, First Lieutenant (OF-1)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)
     

→ M113A3 Armored Personnel Carrier

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant (OR-8)

  • 1× Carrier Driver, Specialist (OR-4)
     

→ M998 HMMWV

  • 1× Company Master Gunner, Staff Sergeant (OR-6)
     

→ M998 HMMWV

  • 1× Company CBRN NCO, Sergeant (OR-5)
     

→ Cargo Truck with 400-gallon Water Trailer (Supply Section)

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6)

  • 1× Armorer, Specialist (OR-4)

3× Platoons (1 Officer and 15 Enlisted each)

 

A Section

→ Tank 1—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Platoon Leader, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

→ Tank 2—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Tank Commander, Staff Sergeant (OR-6)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)
     

B Section

→ Tank 4—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant First Class (OR-7)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

→ Tank 3—M1A1/M1A2 Abrams*

  • 1× Tank Commander, Staff Sergeant (OR-6)

  • 1× Gunner, Sergeant (OR-5)

  • 1× Loader, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

  • 1× Driver, Private (OR-1) to Specialist (OR-4)

* Each tank can carry up to 42 rounds of 120-mm main gun ammo on the M1A2 and 40 rounds on the M1A1, 900 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammo and 11,400 rounds of 7.62mm machine gun ammo. One M4 Carbine is issued per tank. Tank crewmen are armed with a service pistol.

 
 
 

Discussion

The Armor Company is the U.S. Army's basic tactical armor unit and an integral part of its Combined Arms Battalions—themselves the maneuver battalions of Armored Brigade Combat Teams. The Armor Company serves the M1A2 Abrams and older M1A1 Abrams models of main battle tank independently or in concert with mechanized infantry in ad hoc combined-arms Armor and Mechanized Infantry Company Teams. The company consists of a Company Headquarters and 3 Tank Platoons, serving a total of 14 tanks with a small number of supporting personnel in the Company HQ. The company largely relies on the Forward Support Company (FSC) attached to the Combined Arms Battalion from the Brigade Support Battalion for sustainment (resupply).

Company Headquarters

The Company HQ "provides the command and control, unit administration, and logistical support required to conduct unit operations." It contains the company's command personnel, as well as a small number of supporting personnel. Two M1A2 or M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 2 HMMVW light trucks, 1 FMTV 4x4 cargo truck (with 400-gallon water trailer), and 1 M113A3 armored personnel carrier are integral to the Company HQ.

The 2 M1 Abrams tanks have a full crew (1 commander, 1 gunner, 1 loader and 1 driver). The Company Commander (a Captain) acts as the tank commander for one of the tanks, while the Executive Officer (the company's second-in-command) commands the second. Commanding from a tank in combat—as opposed to a dedicated and more comfy command vehicle—allows the company leadership to remain reasonably close to their maneuver platoons in volatile combat conditions.

 

The Executive Officer, or XO, is primarily concerned with administrative tasks—such as planning sustainment, planning and liaison between attachments or battalion command—but can take over command of the company should the Company Commander become a casualty or is otherwise separated from the company.

 

The Company First Sergeant (1SG) commands the M113A3 armored personnel carrier, directing its Driver. During operations the M113A3 can serve as a command post in place of a tent or more informal/static CP for the company if a Bradley isn't requisitioned for the purpose from the CAB. The M113A3 is eventually planned to be replaced by the XM1283 General Purpose Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV)—essentially a turretless Bradley. The First Sergeant is the Company Commander's senior enlisted tactical adviser and is responsible for coordinating certain administrative/rear echelon tasks. Such tasks include processing the requisition and maintenance requests from the Platoon Sergeants, training, accountability, enforcing SOPs, assisting in sustainment and coordinating the evacuation of casualties. In the role of coordinating sustainment, this would be done in cooperation with the Supply Sergeant, Executive Officer and battalion S-4 (supply staff). 

The company's 2 HMMVW trucks are driven by the company's Master Gunner and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense) NCO respectively. These HMMVWs are eventually intended to be replaced by the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). A CBRN-trained soldier is necessary as tank and mechanized infantry units are capable of operating in such environments and would be expected to if the situation arose. Meanwhile, Master Gunner is a skilled position within the company, responsible for gunnery training, coordinating with battalion S3 (operations) on that front, and assisting in gunnery maintenance. They also advise the Company Commander in gunnery and sighting. In combat, the Master Gunner can either act as the NCO in command of the wheeled vehicles in the Company HQ, ride in the M113A3, or act as the gunner of the command tank (with the dedicated gunner being shifted elsewhere).

Meanwhile, the FMTV 4x4 cargo truck is manned by the Supply Sergeant and Armorer, composing the supply section. The Supply Sergeant coordinates the sustainment of the company with both the First Sergeant and the battalion S-4. The Armorer has the secondary duty of being the company's Supply Clerk.

Medical teams, trains, forward observers and other supporting elements may be attached as necessary (typically carried in non-integral vehicles). As part of the Armor and Mechanized Infantry Company Team, the Armor Company is intended to work closely with a Mechanized Infantry Company (in M2 Bradleys) during combined arms operations.

Tank Platoons

The Tank Platoon is the close combat element of the Armor Company. The company has a total of 3 Tank Platoons, with each platoon serving 4 M1A2 or M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. If a Combined Arms Battalion task organizes its Armor and Mechanized Infantry Companies into company teams, companies will then be a mix of the Abram-equipped Tank Platoon and the Bradley-equipped Mechanized Infantry Platoon. In an Armor Company Team, subordinate to the Armor Company commander, the typical organization would include 2 Tank Platoons and 1 Mechanized Infantry Platoon with 4 M2 Bradleys and 3 Rifle Squads. Meanwhile, a Mechanized Infantry Company Team would typically consist of 2 Mechanized Infantry Platoons and 1 Tank Platoon. This combined arms approach minimizes the weaknesses of tank units—namely the difficulty holding ground without infantry and vulnerability to enemy infantry in close country and urban areas.

 

The platoon is commanded by the Platoon Leader—a Second or First Lieutenant—who is assisted by the Platoon Sergeant—a Sergeant First Class who advises the Platoon Leader and aids in administrative tasks, such as sustainment and managing personnel. As with the infantry, the Platoon Sergeant is responsible for coordinating CASEVAC with higher echelons. Each tank has a 4-man crew (1 commander, 1 gunner, 1 loader and 1 driver). In the tanks that the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant man, they act as the tank commander. The other tanks are commanded by Staff Sergeant Tank Commanders ideally.

The platoon is split into 2 mutually supporting sections: A Section and B Section. A Section is led by the Platoon Leader, who is also responsible for the entire platoon. Meanwhile, the Platoon Sergeant leads B Section. This allows for the platoon to be split evenly into sections of 2 tanks each, which is advantageous for combined arms operations and traversing difficult terrain. If a tank is lost, a platoon could operate as a 3-tank platoon with the commander and 2 sections of 1 tank each.

The platoon does not have its own train or dedicated maintenance personnel. The Tank Commanders and the Gunner in the Platoon Leader's tank supervise the first-line maintenance of the platoons tanks. The Gunners in particular are responsible for the maintenance of the tank armament, fire control systems and communications equipment. The Loader is responsible for maintaining the tank's communications equipment, while the Driver is responsible for general vehicle maintenance. As the second highest ranking member of the tank crew after the Tank Commander, the Gunner acts as an assistant tank commander. As the Loader is positioned in the turret to observe the monitors, the Loader is generally intended to be the third most senior soldier and can direct the Driver when necessary.

Tank crews are equipped with individual weapons—the standard service pistol—while 1 M4 Carbine is issued per tank for dismounted operations (OP security). The actual allotment of dismounted weapons can vary unit to unit depending on the situation, with additional M4s, grenades, AT4s, and other weapons systems being noted as have being issued in the field. However, more firepower in the form of small arms appears to have been a case of tankers being made to do jobs they weren't originally intended to do.

Sources

  • ATP 3-20.15 "Tank Platoon" published December 2012, Department of the Army
     

  • ATP 3-90.1 "Armor and Mechanized Infantry Company Team" published January 2016, Department of the Army
     

  • FM 3-96 "Brigade Combat Team" published October 2015, Department of the Army
     

  • Sobko, Serhii (2017) "THE U.S. ARMORED BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM VERSUS CURRENT HYBRID THREAT: HOW SHOULD THE U.S. ABCT BE ORGANIZED AND EQUIPPED TO ADDRESS THE CURRENT HYBRID THREAT" U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
     

  • Gouré, Daniel (2018) "The U.S. Army Is Rebuilding Its Armored Brigade Combat Teams" Lexington Institute

 

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      - Marcus Aurelius

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