The US Army Light Infantry Battalion in the Light Infantry Division
v.1.0 May 20, 2001
This article is by Keith E. Loescher.
The U.S. Army fields several type of light infantry battalions (bns). It has airborne, airmobile and true "leg" battalions. The "leg" battalions are found in the 10th Mountain and the 25th Infantry (Light) Divisions. There are also arctic infantry battalions in the 172nd Brigade that is administratively assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. Two of the battalions of the 172nd are "light arctic" infantry. One brigade of the 25th, stationed at Ft. Lewis WA, is scheduled to be one of the Initial Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT), that are being formed to provide the U.S. Army with a medium weight force (Initial Brigade Combat Team & Death of a Division, Birth of a Concept: The Evolution of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized)) This brigade must now be excluded from the count of light infantry battalions. The total then is:
10th Mountain Division
25th Infantry Division (Light)
172nd Infantry Brigade
The light infantry then forms a small pbn.s in its total of seventy-one (71) active infantry bn.s (US Army Active Infantry Battalions 2000)
These battalions are very lightly equipped, as their name implies. A light infantry company has five officers and one hundred, twenty five men. The key weapons, besides small arms include; six medium machine-guns, 5.56 mm, two 60 mm mortars, and six light anti-armor guided missiles (ATGM). These are now equipped with Javelin. The company has a company headquarters (HQ) platoon, three rifle platoons, an antiarmor section and a mortar section.
The battalion has a HQ, three rifle companies, a mortar section of six 81 mm mortars and an antiarmor unit. There are claims that the new 81mm mortars are almost as lethal as the older and much heavier 4.2" (107mm) mortars integral to other types of batalions. The mortar section seems to have been increased from four to six, and the antiarmor unit has apparently been increased in size from a platoon of four TOW ATGMs mounted on HMMWVs to a company of twenty TOWs. The Army Field Manual (FM) 7-91 (1987) listed the light infantry battalion as having "one antiarmor platoon consisting of two sections of two TOW systems each." (http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/7-91/F7910055.gif). A TO&E review from 1999 lists a light infantry bn. as having twenty "Truck, Util, TOW Carrier, ARMD". ( http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/army/unit/toe/07015L000.htm.).
The light infantry batallion has a personnel strength of 567 officers and men. They are in three companies and a HQ with weapons units. Each company has three rifle platoons with a HQ/weapons platoon. Each platoon has a HQ and three rifle squads of nine men each. The equipment allocations for the battalion are:
Grenade Launcher, 40mm, M203 65
Machine Gun, Cal 50, Flex 15
Machine Gun, Grenade 40MM, MK-19 14
Machine Gun, 5.56 MM M249 72
Mortar, 60 MM 6
Mortar, 81 MM, M252 6
AntiTank Set, Command Launch Unit 18
Truck, Util, TOW Carrier, ARMD 20
The Light Infantry Division
The textbook organization of an infantry division has nine infantry bnattalions in three brigades, with an air cavalry brigade, an artillery brigade an engineer battalion, an Air Defense Artillery (ADA) battalion, a signal battalion, and a military intelligence battalion.
The air cavalry has an attack battalion of twenty four OH-58D helicopters in three companies of eight each, a ground cavalry troop of thirteen HMMWVs armed with 40 mm grenade launchers and .50 cal. heavy machine guns, eight with TOW, and an air cavalry troop of eight more OH-58Ds. An air assault battalion would have thirty-eight (38) UH-60 helicopters and three EH-60 helicopters. Eight of the UH-60s are for command use, 30 for assault, and the EG-60s are for Comabt Electronic Warfare and Intelligence.
The artillery brigade has three battalion of eighteen M-119 105 mm towed howitzers each, and a battery of six M-198 155 mm towed howitzers. This is using the Division XXI standardised artillery battery of six platforms per battery.
The ADA battalion has three batteries of 12 Avenger units each. The Avenger system uses a HMMWV as itsmobility vehicle and the Stinger SAM as its main weapon.
Division equipment totals are:
Grenade Launcher, 40mm, M203 585
Machine Gun, Cal 50,Flex 135
Machine Gun, Grenade 40MM, MK-19 126
Machine Gun, 5.56 MM M249 648
Mortar, 60 MM 54
Mortar, 81 MM, M252 54*
AntiTank Set, Command Launch Unit (Javelin) 162
Truck, Util, TOW Carrier, ARM 188*
OH-58D helicopters 32
UH-60 helicopters 38
M-119 105 mm towed howitzers 54
M-198 155 mm towed howitzers 6
Manpower totals are: 10,813 officers and men
*Author note: If the 1987 FM 7-91 is used then there are only forty-four (44) TOW launchers, and thirty-six (36) 81 mm mortars. The TO&E website has variations for light infantry units, and there is lack of clear designation to me. This could in fact show an airborne or airmobile TO&E, they do have a full TOW company assigned to each battalion. However this could be an updated version of the true "leg" battalion. after the realization that it was too light to survive an encounter with any kind of mechanized force.
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