Let’s take this idea up a notch and look at what I envision as the Armor Battalion of the Future.
Currently, the US Army is using the triangular design (again) for the battalion. Three maneuver companies is a great number. This allows two up and one back or vise versa in a movement to contact mission, or defense. In a deliberate attack, you have a support by fire (base of fire), a breach element, and assault element. Three companies and three battalions just works, always has. Having all three maneuver companies equal in power and capability allows the battalion to employ them according to talents, personalities, and current strength instead of what their TO&E says they can be.
The armor battalion has great combat power in these maneuver companies: 27 Abrams Tanks, 27 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 12 squads, plus the fires platoons’ combat capability. While the Armor Battalion of the Future has slightly less direct fire combat power than the Combined Arms Battalion when I was in, it makes up with more than double the mortar firepower.
Let’s take a look at the Headquarters Company. HHC, as it is often referred to, is a massive company full of combat power augmentation. The Scout Platoon and Mortar Platoon have long be a staple of HHC. It is a side discussion, but I would ditch the Army’s mix of Bradleys and Humvees in the Scout Platoon for purely Bradleys, which I would want M2A3, not M3A3, so I can increase the dismount capabilities. I would add in a sniper team and a UAV team to each dismount squad.
The Mortar Platoon, I would keep at four mortar tracks and add four ammo carriers. The importance of armored ammo carriers in a fight where enemy UAV, air, and long range artillery is a serious threat cannot be overstated. If the concept is good enough for the Paladin field artillery batteries, it is good enough for the mortar platoons. It would take very little to develop a version of the M1283 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle family to have something similar to the M992 Ammo Support Vehicle.
A new addition to the Armor Battalion is an organic engineer platoon that is focused on breaching obstacles. While Engineer Battalions have equipment for digging positions and obstacles, they are not well designed for taking the fight into the teeth of a deliberate defense as part of the combined arms assault. The Armor Battalion’s Engineer Platoon would have a pair of M1150 Armored Breach Vehicles. The combination of the heavy armor, the mine plow, and two Mine Clearing Line Charges on the vehicle makes it the best breach vehicle we have ever fielded. EVER. A pair of engineer squads in M1283 family vehicles is needed in addition to the M1150 ABVs. The platoon also has a pair of M1074 assault bridges and a pair of M9 Armored Combat Earthmovers for anti-tank ditches.
An Air Defense Platoon is a nod to the increased air threat we face today. The threat mix of UAV and manned aircraft necessitates an organic protection capability. The Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense weapons currently developing would be a great fit for this platoon. An advantage to having this platoon organic instead of receiving it as a slice element is that is is more likely to be understood and correctly employed by the battalion. I believe there is a need for additional and layered air defense capabilities at all levels.
The final element of the Headquarters Company is the Battalion Staff. While I’m not going to dive into the weeds about what the organization and size should be, I would stand firmly that the Tactical Operations Center command post needs to be fully armored and mobile. In a threat environment that can rapidly detect, localize, and attack radio signals, the staff will not last long without protection. The staff should be well trained in “jumping TOC,” or relocating the command post.
The Forward Support Company, FSC, is very similar to the current and past organizations. The one change I would make is moving the medical platoon (the symbol of a cross) from Headquarters Company to the Forward Support Company. The idea of having the Headquarters Company holding the combat power augmentation and the Forward Support Company holding the logistics and support makes more sense.
The distribution platoon (the symbol with an old wheel) carries a complete unit basic load of supplies for the battalion. It also needs to have additional capability for other mission oriented supply needs. The kitchen platoon (the symbol of the moon) is pretty straightforward. The battalion has a lot of hungry stomachs to feed. The maintenance platoon (the symbol of the wrench) provides first line mechanical support to the vehicles of both Headquarters Company and the Forward Support Company. It also provides some higher level repair capabilities and includes a recovery vehicle section to drag disabled vehicles in to the shop.
All told, the Armor Battalion of the Future is beefy with around 800 personnel, loaded with combat capability and able to fight and win on the modern battlefield against peer threats. Compare and contrast with the Armored Cavalry Squadron of the Future.