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

USSR Mot. Rifle Company—BMP (Afghanistan) 

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 Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s (particularly after the widespread adoption of the AK-74 replacing the AKM). This is the organization that would have applied to units deployed to Afghanistan. For the standard company organization, including those deployed to Europe, you can find that here.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company Headquarters

    • 1 Grenade-Machine Gun Platoon

    • 3 Motorized Rifle Platoons

  2. Discussion

  3. Sources

mot rifle platoon bmp 1980s afghan-01.pn
 

Organization

  • Type: Mechanized Infantry Company

  • Origin: Soviet Army (Soviet Union)

  • Time Frame: Late Soviet-Afghan War (1980s)

  • Vehicles: 12 BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles 

  • Personnel: 6 Officers and 76 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 or 1 PM Pistol

    • 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-Grenade Platoon (Пулеметно-гранатометный взвод)

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

​→ 2× Machine Gun Teams (2 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Machine Gunner, armed with 1 NSV 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun and 1 PM Pistol

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner, armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

​→ 3× Grenade Launcher Teams (2 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Gunner, armed with 1 AG-17 Grenade Launcher and 1 PM Pistol

  • 1× Assistant Gunner, armed with 1 AK-74 Rifle

​→ 2× Vehicle Crews (2 Enlisted each)

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

  • 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 1 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

​→ 3× Motorized Rifle Squads (6 Enlisted each)

  • 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 PKM Machine Gun in 1 squad)

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

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

  • Vehicle Crew*

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

    • 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.

** May have been armed with a rifle or carbine as a secondary weapon in Afghanistan specifically.

 

 

Discussion

The Motorized Rifles were the Soviet Union's principle form of infantry. This is specifically how the Motorized Rifle Company was organized when deployed to Afghanistan as per A.N. Lebedinets' paper on the history of the Motorized Rifles (linked in the sources in Russian). If you are interested in how the standard BMP company was organized, we have an article for that too. This discussion section will mostly be about the differences between the standard organization and this Afghansky organization. There have been sources that throw around there before multiple PKMs per rifle squad (particularly western sources). However, we are sticking with Lebedinets' interpretation for the purposes of this article as it is Russian and academic.

The Afghanistan-specific BMP company consisted of 82 personnel (6 Officers and 76 Enlisted). Overall the structure was similar to the standard, with 12 BMP-2s in total and the same allotment for the company HQ, machine gun platoon and 3 rifle platoons. The Company HQ remained largely unchanged. For a detailed explanation of the different billets in the Company HQ, check out our standard BMP Motorized Rifle Company article

The Machine Gun Platoon was, however, different. In the standard company organization, the Machine Gun Platoon consisted of 6 PKMs. It should be kept in mind that before the fall of the Soviet Union, the PKM was considered a company machine gun. These PKMs were reduced in number and transferred to the rifle platoons. According to Lebedinets, 1 out of 3 rifle squads in each rifle platoon had its RPK-74 replaced with a PKM. The Machine Gun Platoon's PKMs were then replaced with 3 AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers (transferred from the Battalion Grenade Launcher Platoon) and 2 NSV heavy machine guns. Both were typically manned by 2-man teams. This gave the Company Commander heavier and more diverse firepower at their disposal than the equivalent European-deployed Motorized Rifle Company.

The Rifle Platoons were reduced in strength from 30 to 20 men. The Platoon HQ only consisted of the Platoon Commander and Deputy Platoon Commander (Platoon Sergeant). The number of BMPs per platoon stayed the same. Each squad had 6 men, made up of 4 dismounts and 2 vehicle crews, although there may have been situations where there were more dismounts. On paper, the major weapon systems were maintained—the RPK-74 and RPG-7. As stated before, 1 RPK-74 per platoon was replaced with a PKM general-purpose machine gun. Additionally, a Sniper with the SVD was added to each squad (this had been removed at the squad level by the 1980s). This was likely done due to the extended engagement distances (600 meters+) experienced in Afghanistan when compared to Europe (about 300 meters). The SVD would later be introduced as a squad-level weapon once again in the 1990s, but would be taken out and placed at the Platoon HQ (again) in the early 2000s for BMP platoons (although retained at squad level for BTR platoons).

 

Thus, there were no standard riflemen according to Lebedinets, although depending on the situation or unit there could have been more lads with just rifles, GP-25 grenade launchers and/or RPG-18 disposable anti-tank rocket launchers.

 

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

      - Marcus Aurelius

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