Military Organization > Soviet Union > ​​USSR Mot. Rifle Company—BMP (1980s)

USSR Mot. Rifle Company—BMP (1980s) 

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the BMP-1 and BMP-2 equipped Motorized Rifle Company (Мотострелковая рота) of the Soviet Army during the 1980s. This is the organization that would have applied to units stationed in Europe, whereas units deployed to Afghanistan were organized differently.

 

The next level up was the Motorized Rifle Battalion, which consisted of 1 Command & HQ Section, 3 Motorized Rifle Companies, 1 Mortar Battery, 1 Grenade Launcher Platoon, 1 Anti-Air Platoon (MANPADS), 1 Communications Platoon, 1 Supply Platoon, and 1 Medical Section.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company Headquarters

    • 1 Machine Gun Platoon

    • 3 Motorized Rifle Platoons

  2. Seating Configuration

    • Seating Diagram

    • Seating Write-Up

  3. Discussion

  4. Sources

mot rifle platoon bmp 1980s europe-01.pn
 

Organization

  • Type: Mechanized Infantry Company

  • Origin: Soviet Army (Soviet Union)

  • Time Frame: 1980s

  • Vehicles: 12 BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles 

  • Personnel: 6 Officers and 104 Enlisted

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1× Company Headquarters (Отделение управления)

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and 1 PM Pistol

  • 1× Deputy Company Commander for Political Affairs, Senior Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer (OR-9), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Senior Technician, Warrant Officer (OR-9), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Medical NCO, Senior Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

  • Vehicle Crew*

    • 1× Senior Company Driver-Mechanic, Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine

    • 1× Vehicle Gunner/Assistant Vehicle Commander, Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

​→ Vehicles*

  • 1× BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

1× Machine Gun Platoon (Пулеметный взвод)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Junior Lieutenant or Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

​→ 2× Machine Gun Squads (9 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Squad Commander, Junior Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and 1 GP-25 UBGL

  • 3× Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PKM Machine Gun

  • 3× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

  • Vehicle Crew*

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

    • 1× Vehicle Gunner/Assistant Vehicle Commander, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

​→ Vehicles*

  • 2× BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles

3× Rifle Platoons (Мотострелковый взвод)

​→ 1× Platoon HQ (1 Officer and 3 Enlisted)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Junior Lieutenant or Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander, Senior Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and GP-25 UBGL

  • 1× Sniper, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 SVD Rifle

  • 1× Medic-Rifleman**, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

​→ 3× Motorized Rifle Squads (8 Enlisted each)

  • Fire Element (Dismount)

    • 1× Squad Commander, Junior Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle and 1 GP-25 UBGL

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 RPK-74 Machine Gun

    • 1× Grenadier, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 RPG-7 Rocket Launcher

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

  • Maneuver Element (Dismount)

    • 1× Senior Rifleman, Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 AK-74N Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 Disposable Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher

    • 1× Rifleman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

  • Vehicle Crew*

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

    • 1× Vehicle Gunner/Assistant Vehicle Commander, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

→ Vehicles*

  • 3× BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles

* The vehicles and their crew (driver and gunner) were contained within the battalion's APC platoon and attached directly to the rifle companies for transport.

** Medic-Rifleman billet possibly given to one of the Riflemen in the Motorized Rifle Squads.

 

 

Seating Configuration

1× Company Headquarters (1 BMP)

→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • 1 Company Commander/Vehicle Commander

  • 1 Senior Driver-Mechanic

  • 1 Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Deputy Company Commander for Political Affairs

  • 1 Company Sergeant Major

  • 1 Senior Technician

  • 1 Medical NCO

1× Machine Gun Platoon (2 BMPs)

→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • 1 Platoon Commander/Vehicle Commander

  • 1 Driver-Mechanic

  • 1 Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Machine Gun Squad

​→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • 1 Squad Commander/Vehicle Commander

  • 1 Driver-Mechanic

  • 1 Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Machine Gun Squad

3× Rifle Platoons (3 BMPs each)

​→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • 1 Platoon Commander/Vehicle Commander (dismounts)

  • 1 Driver-Mechanic

  • 1 Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Motorized Rifle Squad (dismounts)

  • 1 Sniper (dismounts)

​→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • 1 Deputy Platoon Commander/Vehicle Commander

  • 1 Driver-Mechanic

  • 1 Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Motorized Rifle Squad (dismounts)

​→ BMP

Vehicle Crew Seats

  • Squad Commander/Vehicle Commander (dismounts)

  • Driver-Mechanic

  • Vehicle Gunner

Passenger Seats

  • 1 Motorized Rifle Squad (dismounts)

  • 1 Medic-Rifleman (dismounts)

 

Discussion

The Motorized Rifles were the Soviet Union's principle form of infantry. The BMP-equipped Motorized Rifle Company was fully mechanized, consisting of 12 BMPs—this was consistment across BMP and BTR companies—with 110 personnel. It was further subdivided into the Company Headquarters, 1 Machine Gun Platoon, and 3 Motorized Rifle Platoons. The BMP-equipped battalions were in particular tasked with supporting Tank Regiments, or as 1 of the 3 Motorized Rifle Battalions in Motorized Rifle Regiments (BTR battalions were more common). In a Fulda Gap scenario, the Motorized Rifle Companies would almost certainly form a part of a combined arms assault. In virtually all military exercises publicly reported, the Soviet Union employed the motorized rifles in conjunction with tank forces. Each Motorized Rifle Regiment had 1 Tank Battalion, enough to reinforce each of its Motorized Rifle Companies with a Tank Platoon. Further, each Tank Regiment had 1 Motorized Rifle Battalion.

Company Headquarters

The Company Headquarters consisted of 2 officers, 3 senior NCOs and 2 junior enlisted vehicle crew and was housed in a single BMP. These were not combat personnel, and were not expected to engage in the fighting.

 

The Company Commander—a Captain—sat in the vehicle commander seat. The Deputy Company Commander for Political Affairs was the successor to the political commissars of World War II and prior. During the Cold War, they were subordinate to the Company Commander and performed the duties of educating personnel in the company on party policy, laws and ethics and instilling esprit de corps. Meanwhile, the Praporshchik, or Warrant Officer, was equivalent to the Company Sergeant Major (Commonwealth) or First Sergeant (U.S.) of the company.

There were enough free seats (3) in the Company Command BMP to accommodating attachments from the battalion level. These could include a MANPADS team, AGS grenade launcher team, or radiotelephone operators. These elements were not integral to the companies themselves.

Machine Gun Platoon

The Machine Gun Platoon consisted of 2 Machine Gun Squads led by a Platoon Commander. The platoon was carried across 2 BMPs. Each Squad consisted of a Squad Commander and 3 machine gun teams of 2 men each (Gunner and Assistant Gunner). The standard carried ammo load for each machine gun was 600 rounds (200 rounds on the gunner, 400 rounds on the assistant).

Motorized Rifle Platoons

The principle combat element of the Motorized Rifle Company was the Motorized Rifle Platoon. Led by the Platoon Commander—typically a Junior Lieutenant or Lieutenant—it consisted of a Platoon Headquarters and 3 Motorized Rifle Squads.

The Platoon Headquarters contained the Platoon Commander, Deputy Platoon Commander (Senior Sergeant), Sniper, and a Medic-Rifleman, although the Medic-Rifleman billet may have been given to just a rifleman among the Motorized Rifle Squads. The personnel in the Platoon HQ would be cross-loaded across the 3 BMPs in the platoon. The Platoon HQ did not get its own dedicated vehicle.The Platoon Commander sat in the vehicle commander seat of one of the BMPs, as did the Deputy Platoon Commander. The Platoon Commander typically dismounted and would advance slightly behind the rest of the platoon with a BMP. The Deputy Platoon Commander, however, did not dismount and took command of the vehicles in lieu of the Lieutenant.

 

Unlike in the Motorized Rifle Platoon organization of the 1970s and 1990s (or what was applied in Afghanistan in the 1980s), the Motorized Rifle Squads at this time did not have an integral SVD designated marksman rifle. Thus, the SVD allotted to the Platoon Headquarters was the only one in the platoon. Each company had a total of 3 SVDs.

Each Motorized Rifle Squad consisted of 6 dismounts and 2 vehicle crewmen. The Vehicle Gunner and Mechanic-Driver were attached to the rifle platoons from the Battalion-level and did not dismount. In the vehicle without the Platoon Commander or Deputy Platoon Commander, the Squad Commander sat in the vehicle commander seat in the turret and directed the crew. However, the Squad Commander would dismount with the rest of his squad. At this point, the Vehicle Gunner sitting in the turret would take command of the vehicle.

The dismounted squad consisted of the Fire Group and Maneuver Group. The Fire Group was led by the Squad Commander and consisted of the Grenadier (with the RPG-7), Assistant Grenadier, and Machine Gunner (with the RPK-74). When under-barrel grenade launchers became widely available, they typically went to the Squad Commander, although nowadays the Russians issue them to the Senior Rifleman and Rifleman in the Maneuver Group. The Grenadier would carry 2 rockets while the Assistant Grenadier would carry 3 rockets. Although in practice the Grenadier may have armed themselves with a rifle in combat (especially in Afghanistan) they would typically not be issued a sidearm, carbine, or rifle in addition to the RPG.

 

Meanwhile, the RPK-74 gunner would carry 8 magazines plus 1 in the gun of 45 rounds each, for a total of 405 rounds. Doctrinally the RPK-74 gunner would sit in the seat behind the Driver on the left side of the BMP-2, although this seat was often used to store gear as it was not desirable. On the BMP-1, the Squad Commander sat in this seat while the RPK gunner sat in the rear passenger compartment. 

The Maneuver Group of the 1980s BMP squad consisted of the Senior Rifleman and Rifleman. The Senior Rifleman was what the name implied, the most senior of the rifleman. They were typically a Yefreytor or Private. Back in World War II, Senior Riflemen would often be the first armed with self-loading weapons, such as the SVT-40, as they were the best equipped to take advantage of the enhanced capability (and deal with the greater complexity). This still rang true in the 1980s, as Senior Riflemen would be the members of the squad to be armed with AK-74N rifles, able to mount an 1PN58 night optic. Additionally, Senior Rifleman—as well as the Rifleman possibly—could be armed with disposable light anti-tank weapons, such as the RPG-16/22.

With this organization, there were enough free seats in the platoon BMPs to attach a 2-man PKM machine gun team from the company Machine Gun Platoon. Only following the Cold War would the Machine Gun Platoon be dissolved and a PKM machine gun team added to the Platoon Headquarters.

Among the changes that came to the BMP-2 over the BMP-1 was the enlargement of the turret, which reduced the size of the passenger compartment but allowed for the Squad Commander to sit in the turret with the Vehicle Gunner. Thus, now, BMP-1 squads adhere to the organization of the BTR and MT-LBM, while BMP-2 and BMP-3 squads have 1 less man.

Differences From Afghanistan

It should be noted that this was not the organization that was applied in Afghanistan according to A.N. Lebedinets. The Afghanistan-deployed Motorized Rifle Company was a smaller outfit than those deployed to Europe, and included specialized weaponry that were pushed down from the battalion-level to provide Company Commanders with integral light fire support. The company had 82 men, as opposed to the 110 of standard BMP companies described in this article. However, Afghanistan-deployed companies still had their standard 12 BMPs.

First, the Machine Gun Platoon was reorganized. The PKM general-purpose machine guns were transferred to the rifle platoons and reduced in number on paper. One of 3 squads in each Motorized Rifle Platoon fielded a PKM rather than RPK for increased fire density. The Machine Gun Platoon became a Machine Gun-Grenade Platoon, fielding 3 AGS automatic grenade launchers and 2 NSV heavy machine guns.

Overall, the manning of the Motorized Rifle Platoon decreased to about 20 men. Additionally, in the Motorized Rifle Squad replaced its last Rifleman with an SVD Sniper, while the Platoon Headquarters was reduced to just the Platoon Commander and Deputy Platoon Commander. Thus, the total number of SVDs increased from 1 per platoon to 3 per platoon. This was a change that would later be applied to all Russian BMP-squads in the 1990s.

 

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

      - Marcus Aurelius

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