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Conducting overwatch in a three vehicle platoon?

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Hi Folks

I’m keen to understand how platoons with 3 vehicles conduct bounds during overwatch. Do they normally split into one section of 2 vehicles and one section of 1? And, if so, is there any formula to how the sections conduct Alternate and Successive bounds? It’s obvious with a 4 vehicle platoon but less so when there are 3 vehicles.

Thanks

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When employing overwatch....1 vehicle moves at a given time.

If you have more than one platoon ..well one platoon would watch another.

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From what I've read, 3-tank platoons do not self-overwatch as 4-tank platoons do. They are a solo maneuver element, and instead are overwatched by their other platoons in the company.

It's one of the primary differences/arguments in the 3 vs 4 organization, actually.

Arguments in favor of 4-tank platoons mention this ability to self-overwatch and leader development of that type of movement. 3-tank variants would seem to concentrate that maneuver skill set at the company command level, where the CO moves his platoons in concert.

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Thanks for your posts and the links guys. There’s some interesting and, at times, contradictory information here. My take out, for what it’s worth, is that a 3 vehicle platoon will manoeuvre as a single entity under the overwatch of another 3 vehicle platoon where possible. However, where this isn’t possible, which is no doubt quite often, the platoon will split into one section of 2 vehicles and one section of 1 vehicle. Depending on the situation and threat level, this can manoeuver either “one up” or “two up” as described in the 2006 posts by chappy, though, based on sabot_ready’s post (and my own reflection) a “one up” formation seems to offer advantages in most situations. I guess there’s no “right” answer and, as is the general rule with tactics, it all depends on the situation. Still, this information has helped me think about the best way to manoeuver a 3 vehicle platoon in SB Pro PE.

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"One Up" Vs "Two Up" often depends on whether you are "advancing to contact" or "advancing in contact".

Similar to the decision re "Overwatch / Caterpillar" or "Bounding Overwatch / Leap Frog".

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"One Up" Vs "Two Up" often depends on whether you are "advancing to contact" or "advancing in contact".

Thanks Gibsonm. So, just to clarify, Two Up is generally used when advancing in contact (presumably to have more firepower and SA with the manoeuvring element)?

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No. Other way around (1 Up "in", 2 Up "to"). One Up gives you a better "base of fire" to coin another Americanism or a "firmer" base. As you are advancing in contact, fire is more likely and therefore spt during the move becomes more important.

If you are the moving veh then you can rely on the two behind for spt. Rather than two moving veh that may need to rely on the split fires of a single veh.

2 Up is better when advancing to contact as you need the broader frontage and contact, while possible, is less likely than "in" contact (where its already happened) so you can trade spt for frontage and improved SA.

But again this isn't saying its the "norm" for a 3 veh Tp / Pl. If they start with 3 veh then I agree they tend to manoeuvre "by Pls", rather than "within Pls".

However a 4 veh Pl / Tp that is used to manoeuvring within the Pl / Tp may well adopt this approach once they lose a csn.

In the end its the PL / TP Ldr's decision how his unit moves and is influenced by a bunch of issues.

There is no "golden rule".

"Advancing in Contact" is different to assaulting a position. In the Assault you'd be "Three Up" with another csn suppressing the objective and everyone in the Assault group is moving (and firing as well).

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No. Other way around (1 Up "in", 2 Up "to").

Ahhh, thanks. I'm glad I asked ;-)

I think I've got the theory of manoeuvring with a platoon of 3 vehicles now.

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Ahhh, thanks. I'm glad I asked ;-)

I think I've got the theory of manoeuvring with a platoon of 3 vehicles now.

You can then layer that decision with the next one about "bounding" or not.

Again a trade off of "risk" vs "time".

Take 1 Up as an example.

Tk 1 leads off (2 and 3 remain static on the "start" feature).

Tk 1 arrives at "feature 2".

Tks 2 and 3 then break and catch up with Tk 1 and adopt new fire positions on "feature 2".

Tk 1 then moves to "feature 3"

That is relatively slow but provides good security.

An alternative is to alternate between 1 Up and 2 Up on successive features:

Tk 1 leads off (2 and 3 remain static on the "start" feature).

Tk 1 arrives at "feature 2".

Tks 2 and 3 then break, move past Tk 1 and adopt new fire positions on "feature 3".

Tk 1 then moves to "feature 4"

This is faster but the level of security alternates depending on if 1 or 2 tks are moving.

Of course this isn't an issue in a 4 veh setup as the two groups are alternating pairs.

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Gib, for the second method, how does Tks 2 & 3 know where to move once they move past the first Tk? Does #1 relay that info, or do 2/3 do a map recce, or do they just "wing it" once they meet up with #1?

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Gib, for the second method, how does Tks 2 & 3 know where to move once they move past the first Tk? Does #1 relay that info, or do 2/3 do a map recce, or do they just "wing it" once they meet up with #1?

Well I don't know about in your army, but with "us".

The Tp ldr (usually in one pair) does a map recce and gives orders based on pre plotted feature numbers (of course if you have FBCB2 or similar you just scribble on your screen) and comes us with a some patter along the lines of:

"Alpha (Tp Sgt, commands the other pair) this is 21 (Tp Ldr's call sign in this example) your next move is to either side of feature 25 observing onto 36" ["25" is the next feature, with 36 being the far feature or 21's destination).

"Report when ready to break"

Alpha briefs his crew and co-ords with Charlie the movement of the pair. That way they both move as one, provide 2 x tgts instead of one, etc.

"21 this is Alpha, ready to break"

"Alpha this is 21, break now out".

Alpha (A) and Charlie © launch on the planned routes, 21 and Bravo (B) move up a little (not fully exposed) to provide fire spt (threat then has two static tks to deal with and two possibly closing on his position - ideally the decision cycle is overwhelmed and the movers obtain the next piece of cover).

A and C arrive at 25 and observe 36 and A reports back to 21 along the lines of:

"21 this is A be aware there is a large cutting on the fwd edge of 25 which will require bypass recommend you ...."

21 then knows what is ahead of his pair (not just what is on the map).

21 then briefs B

"B this is 21 next move, jockey left, break right, move with me, cover 11 to 2, if contacted short of road do X, if contacted plus of road push on, etc. .... Report when ready to break."

B briefs his crew.

"21 this is B ready out".

"Break now out"

The 21 pair go past the feature with the A pair on it (avoid the cutting and get onto 36).

The cycle continues but this time 21 passes to A anything of import.

Key issues:

Everyone briefed before they break cover (no MSU* on the move).

Everyone supports everyone else.

Overwhelm threat with tgts / decisions when a given pair breaks.

Use "negative reporting" (a brief statement of what you can't observe/engage/do, rather than hours describing what you can do). E.g: "A this is C, firm. Cannot support a move more than 1200 my direct front due to tree line". So A knows that C can do everything else apart from that part.

Ensure veh are at least 200m apart of a given position (outside the arc of most threat GPS - so not a simple gunner's correction to engage both tgts, the threat CC needs to lay the gnr onto the 2nd tgt so a fresh engagement).

Simple really. :)

* MSU = Make Sh*t Up

Edited by Gibsonm

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In the event that tanks are lost, reducing some platoons to three while others stay at full strength, will your 'average' company/squadron commander (in your experience) immediately pair up [when possible] the three-tank Plts and revert to supporting platoon manouevre, or is it more likely that the tanks will have to continue to provide overwatch within the platoon? I realize this is asking something reliant entirely on individual human nature, but what do the training and SOPs say on the matter?

Mostly, I'm wondering how flexible Western tank units are. Because the Russians move by platoons in three-tank plts, when their subunits take losses it doesn't really change how they do business - the effectiveness may change, if a single tank survives to cover a frontage normally covered by three vehicles, for instance - but they're still moving in the same way. This wouldn't be the case for us, with the four-tank plts.

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Great, thanks.

Me neither. ;)

In our army we move in fire-teams (two tnks per FT), at the troop level much like the above.

I would say that the teams (commanded by the TP ldr and the TP WO) know the plan for movement via orders and a map recce before the mission.

Of course things will change along the way, however the basic plan keeps all on the same plan of the Sqn CO.

The plan is discussed within the two fire teams as well .Sit reps are given to keep the whole troop updated on the move,terrain, and enemy situations along the way as required (usually stated in orders).

When in a three tnk setup, we would go to over watch with the single tank taking the first bound covered by the two covering to give max support, switching up for the lead would be done to give the lead tnk a break for a while. We call this caterpillar movement.

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I realize this is asking something reliant entirely on individual human nature, but what do the training and SOPs say on the matter?

Its the Sqn Commnader's call and depends on a host of variables.

Again no "golden rule" for exactly that reason.

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If you don't mine me sticking my noise in this topic and I know the US has a four tank plt but FM 3-20.15 states using an alternate bound which is faster then the successive bound. This is in Chapter 3.

Alternate Bound: Covered by the rear element, the lead element moves forward, halts, and assumes overwatch positions. The rear element advances past the lead element and takes up overwatch positions. The initial lead element then advances past the initial rear element and takes up overwatch positions. Only one element moves at a time. This method is usually more rapid than successive bounds.

Successive Bound: The lead element, covered by the rear element, advances and takes up an overwatch position. The rear element advances to an overwatch position abreast of the lead element and halts. The lead element then moves to the next position, and so on. Only one element moves at a time, and the rear element avoids advancing beyond the lead element. This method is easier to control and more secure than the alternate bounding method, but it is slower.

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Gibson: So it's not in the 'bible' at all and is left purely to the CO? That seems to make uncommonly good sense...

JohnO: Sounds exactly like bounding overwatch (alternate bound) and 'the caterpillar,' the slightly more professional name of which escapes me at the moment, in Commonwealth parlance.

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Gibson: So it's not in the 'bible' at all and is left purely to the CO? That seems to make uncommonly good sense...

JohnO: Sounds exactly like bounding overwatch (alternate bound) and 'the caterpillar,' the slightly more professional name of which escapes me at the moment, in Commonwealth parlance.

Leap Frog.

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