So you're going to role play a nation that contains an army or RP a force on force between two different military forces of unknown sizes. How do you create an army? How do they fight? How are they organized? Why do they organize and fight the way they do? These are all questions you may ask yourself during the creation of your army. I spent 21 years in the US Army on both Active Duty and in my state's Army National Guard. I retired almost ten years ago as a Captain in the Infantry. I have served as both a Rifle Platoon Leader and a Company Commander. If you want to know how to organize and fight a rifle squad check out the link in my signature titled, Small Unit Tactics.
A Commander is defined as someone appointed as a leader in charge of two to five subordinate units who has the sole responsibility for every person in his command and everything that his command either does or fails to do.
Subordinate Command is a lower echelon command that works with the Commander in order to accomplish his goals following the commander’s single unified vision. The Subordinate commander only answers to his immediate Supervisor/Commander.
Theater is the region of the world where military operations are taking place. Depending on the size of the operation typically a General (O-10) will be theater Commander. If more than five armies exist in theater, Congress may deem it necessary to promote a General to General of the Army (O-11), the highest ranking soldier in the Army. If a Theater commander receives the promotion to General of the Army, then so does the Army Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (echelons above reality).
One person can only be in command of two to five subordinate units. If only one subordinate unit exists, then no higher commander is required, the subordinate commander is in command. If six subordinate units are available then two commanders will be needed creating two newly formed subordinate commands to an even higher single unified command. Experience has shown that one person can safely and efficiently control and monitor the activities of no greater than five subordinate units. Therefore the numbers 2-5 are used in determining Command Relationships.
This model can also be applied to the civilian world in managerial relationships. If a company has several departments within their organization, two to five departments which work along similar lines can be grouped under one overseeing manager and so forth. A Regional manager may be placed in charge of two to five Retail outlets. If he is given responsibility for a sixth outlet, the work becomes overwhelming and his attention is distracted thereby providing substandard performance.
Let’s get back to the military Command relationships.
The US Army model of echelons (levels) exists as such:
Fire Team = 4 men with a Sergeant (E-5) leading. It could be 2-5 men.
Squad = A Light Infantry squad has 9 men with a Staff Sergeant (E-6) leading and two Fire Teams. The squad leader could in theory control as many as five fire teams if needed, but maintaining two keeps it simple. The Squad is the lowest maneuver element. You do not want to overcomplicate things at this level.
Platoon = A Light Infantry Platoon has 34 men with a Lieutenant (O-1/O-2)) leading, PLT HQs section, 2 Machine gun teams and three Rifle Squads. The Platoon leader could control 2-5 squads but is typically organized with three for administrative purposes. On occasion, the Company Commander may task organize a platoon so that one platoon has four squads while another has two just for the completion of a specific operation. Once the mission is complete, the platoons would revert back to the administrative organization.
Company = A Light Infantry Company has 129 men with a Captain (O-3) commanding, Co HQs section, Anti-Armor section, mortar section and three Rifle Platoons. Again the Company Commander could control 2-5 Platoons. During Combined Arms Operations he could possibly receive a platoon of combat engineers and a platoon of armor to conduct a specific operation. A mechanized Infantry Company has a different number of soldiers available.
Battalion = A Light Infantry Battalion has 505 men with a Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) commanding, Headquarters and Headquarters Company and two to five maneuver Companies. The Battalion Commander may find himself with an additional Infantry company from another battalion and an armor Company to support a current operation thereby giving him control of five companies. A mechanized Infantry Battalion has a different number of soldiers available.
Brigade is a subordinate command that technically only has a Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company of 70-100 men. There is a Colonel who commands a Brigade. The Brigade Commander is given 2-5 maneuver battalions to command by his Division Commander.
Division = 10,000 – 15,000 men depending upon the type of organization the division represents. The Division typically has three maneuver brigades (subordinate Commands) which control the 9-10 maneuver battalions assigned to it by the Department of the Army. A Division Commander is a Major General (O-8)
Corps = 2-5 Divisions as assigned by the Theater Commander. A Corps will also contain a Corps Artillery asset which is of Brigade strength. A Corps can number as few as 20,000 soldiers or as many as 75,000. A Corps Commander is typically a Lieutenant General (O-9). This is definitely “echelons above reality”.
Army = 2-5 Corps will be assigned to an Army by the Department of the Army or Army Chief of Staff. An Army will have additional assets including an Artillery asset and many other Combat Service Support Assets. A General will command an Army (O-10). You will find anywhere from 40,000 to 375,000 troops in an Army.
Army Group = 2-5 Armies or 80,000 to nearly 2 million soldiers. Typically the Army Group is not used unless there is a major campaign going on. If a theater command has greater than five armies available to them, the Army Group will be used as an intermediate command between Army and Theater. The Army Group Commander is also a General (O-10) but due to command relationship he outranks his subordinate commanders at Army level.
Notes on British and former Commonwealth Armies
German Army During World War II
Cavalry/Scouts contributed by Hotshot