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PaulyWally
06-07-2012, 04:44 PM
I am setting a short story in an active war zone. My soldiers are in an infantry battalion on the front lines. But I don't know which battalion to use. So I could use the names of one (or more) battalions that would be in general infantry on the front lines of any given war in the past half century (or so). Also, it would really help if you could also provide the names of companies within those battalions.

I am not sure yet if my soldiers will be Marines or Army. A lot of that will depend on specifics as the story matures. So if you can only answer for one or the other, it will be helpful nonetheless.

Thanks so much!

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 05:45 PM
Well first off, if they're soldiers, they're Army. Marines are never soldiers.

Are you asking for actual unit designations or names? Like Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry (Light), or names such as Tarheelers and Summit or Night Stalkers?

ETA: Here's the ORBAT for the 10 MTN DIV(L) (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/10th_US_Mountain_Division.png), which I've never served in but am writing about. You might find this helpful.

PaulyWally
06-07-2012, 06:15 PM
Well first off, if they're soldiers, they're Army. Marines are never soldiers.

Can you please clarify the difference? Is this just semantics - and Marines just don't like being called "soldiers"? Or is there an explicit difference in technical terminology?


Are you asking for actual unit designations or names? Like Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry (Light), or names such as Tarheelers and Summit or Night Stalkers?

Actual unit designations.


ETA: Here's the ORBAT for the 10 MTN DIV(L) (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/10th_US_Mountain_Division.png), which I've never served in but am writing about. You might find this helpful.

A diagram like that is helpful. But it would be great to see a diagram breaking the battalion down to its companies, platoons, and squads.

And I need to know which (non-special-ops) battalions could realistically have been assigned to the (ground) front lines of any war within the past 50 years (or so). I don't want to generalise and say, "any old battalion." because I feel that is disrespectful. But it needs to be a battalion that no one would question their involvement on the front lines of any contemporary or recent war.

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 06:36 PM
Soldiers serve in the U.S. Army. Marines serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, and calling a Marine a soldier is generally enough to prompt said jarhead to leave you with a mouthful of bloody chiclets. The upshot of it is, if you want to appear informed, don't call one the other--otherwise, people might mistake you for a journalist as opposed to a novelist.

You are now in possession of the actual unit designations of 10th Mountain, courtesy of the ORBAT chart.

10th Mountain has been at the forefront of pretty much every operation since DESERT STORM, having participated in that op, RESTORE HOPE, ENDURING FREEDOM, and IRAQI FREEDOM. If you use them as your template, you can't go wrong. Additional Army divisions that have spent a lot of time forward deployed are the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions, 4th Infantry, and the 1st CAV.

Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division is known as the "Alpha Gator" Company. Its troops are collectively referred to as "Alpha Gators", "A-Gators," or "Gators." All the hooahs in the 10th are light fighters, in recognition of their mission.

How's that for a start? Close to what you're looking for?

EngineerTiger
06-07-2012, 07:27 PM
PaulyWally, as a writer of military historical fiction, I find it's easier to start with the battle and then drill down to the active participants. You don't want to have an Infantry unit doing something the Artillery would do, for example. Each branch in the Army has a somewhat different function.

As to the difference between Army and Marines...the United States Army is a land force (now includes air with fixed wings, paratroopers, special forces). The Air Force grew out of the Army Air Corps and became a separate service with a separate mission right at the tail end of WWII.

The Marines, traditionally, were an adjunct of the Navy and were the troops who fought on board naval ships or were transported by the Navy to fight in amphibious/land combat (think Tripoli in the early 19th Century during our war with the Barbary pirates or some of the island fighting in the Pacific Theater of WWII).

The Army and the Marines have always been separate services and they have distinct missions although, in massive combat situations, they may work together.

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 08:18 PM
I was branched Aviation, and the Army doesn't have fixed wing attack assets. Lots of rotary wing, though.

PaulyWally
06-07-2012, 09:02 PM
How's that for a start? Close to what you're looking for?

That's some great info! Thanks!


Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division is known as the "Alpha Gator" Company. Its troops are collectively referred to as "Alpha Gators", "A-Gators," or "Gators." All the hooahs in the 10th are light fighters, in recognition of their mission.

Would you mind naming 2 or 3 of the other companies as well? But please read the following first to make sure I'm not digging myself into a hole. :)


I find it's easier to start with the battle and then drill down to the active participants. You don't want to have an Infantry unit doing something the Artillery would do

Very good point. And I did realize that. I just have a bad habit of segueing in my head.

That said, I'll just give you the whole low-down:

This is a short story with 2 characters. This is not a war story, but takes place in an active war zone. These 2 characters are on the front lines. I'm thinking their engagement zone is under 500 yards. So fighting they would see could be anything from a sniper rifle, to standard-issue rifle, to a side arm, to hand-to-hand. There won't be any combat in the story, but that's how close I want them to be to it.

My plot (and please tell me if this would be inaccurate in real life) opens with 3 companies in the same battalion holding different positions several hundred yards apart. Company 'A' is on the left flank, Company 'B' is in the middle, and Company 'C' is on the right flank. All 3 Companies are sustaining casualties. Company 'A' is nearly wiped out. So they retreat and those remaining men are immediately reassigned to Company 'B' to help fortify their position.

And that's about the extent of tactical military operations I think I'll need for this story. It's just going to be 2 characters that are holed up together. The M.C. is in Company 'B' and is already holed up by himself. The antagonist comes over from Company 'A' and is ordered to backup the M.C. After that, they are holed up together (and by themselves) for the remainder of the story.

EngineerTiger
06-07-2012, 09:15 PM
Whoops, just showed my age there, Noah. The Army USED to have fixed-fixed wing (still used them for some recon before the rotary craft became so effective and efficient).

EngineerTiger
06-07-2012, 09:16 PM
What era? Modern, Civil War, WWII?

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 09:35 PM
This is a short story with 2 characters. This is not a war story, but takes place in an active war zone. These 2 characters are on the front lines. I'm thinking their engagement zone is under 500 yards. So fighting they would see could be anything from a sniper rifle, to standard-issue rifle, to a side arm, to hand-to-hand. There won't be any combat in the story, but that's how close I want them to be to it.

My plot (and please tell me if this would be inaccurate in real life) opens with 3 companies in the same battalion holding different positions several hundred yards apart. Company 'A' is on the left flank, Company 'B' is in the middle, and Company 'C' is on the right flank. All 3 Companies are sustaining casualties. Company 'A' is nearly wiped out. So they retreat and those remaining men are immediately reassigned to Company 'B' to help fortify their position.

And that's about the extent of tactical military operations I think I'll need for this story. It's just going to be 2 characters that are holed up together. The M.C. is in Company 'B' and is already holed up by himself. The antagonist comes over from Company 'A' and is ordered to backup the M.C. After that, they are holed up together (and by themselves) for the remainder of the story.
Firstly, I don't think lightfighters are issued sidearms. They'd have the rather ubiquitous latest version of the Jammin' Jimmy, the M4A3 equipped with Picatinny rails and probably at least some with M203s. And depending on how you allocate your forces, they'll be back up by an organic mortar platoon... Foxtrot, I think it is? Also, the 10th's aviation brigade would be on hand to button up the forward line of troops if this was a planned engagement; if not, they would doubtless be tasked to arrive and provide on-station fire suppression for the guys on the ground. (And it's easier to rely on their own organic resources as opposed to waiting for the Air Force to send some planes on a CAS mission... but please, don't get me started on USAF-provided CAS.)

I'm curious how they can be danger close, yet there will be no combat? Especially if Alpha has been rendered combat ineffective?

I can't recall the designations for Bravo and Charlie companies in the 87th, but when I get home I'll be able to put my hands on the info. Delta's designation is Dagger, though.

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 09:36 PM
Whoops, just showed my age there, Noah. The Army USED to have fixed-fixed wing (still used them for some recon before the rotary craft became so effective and efficient).
The Air Force insisted that the Army not possess or otherwise employ fixed wing aircraft in excess of 12,500 pounds, which is why the biggest airplane they have is the C-12, I believe. Things might be different now, but I know they don't have any attack jets or anything like that--I've never seen them in any aviation brigade's MTOE.

Hallen would likely know better than me, since I think he only separated from active duty a few years ago. Almost 20 for me now.

PaulyWally
06-07-2012, 09:37 PM
What era? Modern, Civil War, WWII?

I think it should be anything conceivable in the past 50 years (or so). This is being written as a stageplay. So I would like to maintain flexibility in the potential staging of it. Ideally, the director that produces the play should have the artistic autonomy to set it in almost any contemporary war zone.

However, I don't know how feasible my plot outline is for that. That's why I'm looking for input. I understand if I have to change the era in order to stick to my plot outline... or, change my plot outline to stick with my chosen era.

Thanks!


Firstly, I don't think lightfighters are issued sidearms.

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that for my story. I was just using it as an example of how close I want them to be in a combat zone.


And depending on how you allocate your forces, they'll be back up by an organic mortar platoon...

Also, the 10th's aviation brigade would be on hand to button up the forward line of troops if this was a planned engagementGreat info!


I'm curious how they can be danger close, yet there will be no combat? Especially if Alpha has been rendered combat ineffective?It's just going to be a 10-15 minute stageplay. Firstly, there needs to be some suspension of disbelief. But I really don't want to have combat in the plot. It would render such a short play incapable of being staged. Secondly, it's not about combat at all. So introducing any combat would be counter-intuitive unless it were a full-length play.

I would assume that even so close to combat, there are occasions when troops might not be actually fighting for a few minutes. :Shrug:

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 09:57 PM
Oh, for sure. But you've set the stage (?) to indicate that heavy contact was underway, so I was just questioning the tempo. Sure, there are breaks in contact. In fact, you could use such a break to have the remnants of Alpha retreat under covering fires from another unit.

PaulyWally
06-07-2012, 10:13 PM
Oh, for sure. But you've set the stage (?) to indicate that heavy contact was underway, so I was just questioning the tempo. Sure, there are breaks in contact. In fact, you could use such a break to have the remnants of Alpha retreat under covering fires from another unit.

Cool.

Now I was wondering, is it feasible to stick with my original plot outline of the antagonist coming over from Alpha Co.? Or am I better off having him enter the combat zone as reinforcement from the 10th?

Or is either one feasible?

And if he did come over from Alpha Co., what would the commanding Colonel/General do with the left flank? Might it be left open if there was simply too much resistance?

(this is getting far more complicated than I anticipated. :) )

Noah Body
06-07-2012, 10:16 PM
You can do it either way. Others who were closer to the ground regime than I may disagree, of course.

Orion11Bravo
06-08-2012, 03:02 AM
This is a short story with 2 characters. This is not a war story, but takes place in an active war zone. These 2 characters are on the front lines. I'm thinking their engagement zone is under 500 yards. So fighting they would see could be anything from a sniper rifle, to standard-issue rifle, to a side arm, to hand-to-hand. There won't be any combat in the story, but that's how close I want them to be to it.

My plot (and please tell me if this would be inaccurate in real life) opens with 3 companies in the same battalion holding different positions several hundred yards apart. Company 'A' is on the left flank, Company 'B' is in the middle, and Company 'C' is on the right flank. All 3 Companies are sustaining casualties. Company 'A' is nearly wiped out. So they retreat and those remaining men are immediately reassigned to Company 'B' to help fortify their position.

And that's about the extent of tactical military operations I think I'll need for this story. It's just going to be 2 characters that are holed up together. The M.C. is in Company 'B' and is already holed up by himself. The antagonist comes over from Company 'A' and is ordered to backup the M.C. After that, they are holed up together (and by themselves) for the remainder of the story.

Hi Pauly,

Sorry I'm a little late to this conversation. I was 11B (infantry) in the National Guard and did my train-up with the 10th Mountain for Iraq. I was told while I was there that the 10th Mountain was the most deployed unit in the Army...they definitely have name brand recognition by those in the know (just like any airborne unit would), so I agree with Noah that the 10th Mountain would be a good outfit for really any fictional battle, any where.

As far as distances...you say all the fighting is "within 500 yards". All infantry fighting, especially major battles like the ones you described, are going to certainly be within that range, and would likely be within 300 meters or even closer. Sniper rifles and machine guns can reach out as far as 1000 meters or even further, and there would certainly be mortar companies and other indirect fire attached, but as far as light infantry vs. light infantry, realistic fighting range is 300 meters or less. Something to think about...we use to say it's METT-T dependent (Mission Enemy Terrain Troops (friendlies) Time).

Some soldiers will likely have M-9 (pistols). Machine gunners, especially those in a Humvee, officers, and snipers come to mind. A typical infantry squad looks like this:

Squad leader with an M-4 (max range around 500 meters)
2 Team leaders with M-4s
2 grenadiers with M-4/M-203s (grenades shoot out about 300 meters, max, kill radius 5 meters, I think)
2 SAW gunners, range out to 800 meters, if I remember right (keep in mind, just because the gun shoots that far, doesn't mean Joe can hit that far)
2 Riflemen (M-4s)

Then you have squads with the crew-served weapons, which are M-240s and blah blah blah, you don't really need to know for this.

Now...it seems like these companies are in a pretty shitty situation. The enemy must be endless. I hope you truly appreciate, in your story, the size of the battle that you're describing. It takes, I've been told, 3 times as many troops to overrun a fortified position...coupled with the fact that American troops are at a serious advantage in terms of weapons, training, and equipment. I'm not a historian, but almost all of the training "battles", and actual battles, that I was in was Platoon sized, and occasionally Company sized, operations. A Company at full strength is over 160 men. You have a company defending a position and one on either side defending the flanks...not only that, but they are sustaining such heavy causalities that one company completely absorbs the other? This is WWI/WWII-cannon fodder type assaults. I don't see it happening, at least not against US soldiers, in modern times.

Hope this helps...sorry if it's too much info.

PaulyWally
06-08-2012, 05:06 AM
Sorry I'm a little late to this conversation...

Thanks! That's a good deal of info.


I hope you truly appreciate, in your story, the size of the battle that you're describing.

Yeah. Earlier today, I began to realize that my conceptualization is based on some WWI battles I've read about. So I hadn't been considering the high-tech support that would be involved in the same type of situation.

Then again, I've never been military.

I'm wondering if I should reduce the size of the attacking units from Companies to Platoons? Perhaps that would reduce the scale of battle I'm conceptualizing, and make the realism a little more feasible?

Orion11Bravo
06-08-2012, 05:45 AM
Maybe it would help more if you described who and where your Joes are fighting. If you're in mountainous terrain, say in Korea, then it's conceivable that 1) support would be slow coming, even with today's technology, and 2) you'd have the kind of hordes (China, etc) that could possibly overrun a unit. A Battalion sized operation is big, but we did one, and historically I'm sure you could find examples. In my experience, and in my opinion, the type of scenario you're describing would best work at the Company level if the troops were at a permanent or semi-permanent base...4 platoons of 40 guys each, if they're full strength...or at the platoon level if it's a patrol that took up defensive positions once they saw they were in trouble.

It doesn't sound like you want anything in minute detail, but if you did, a good reference is the FM 7-8 (google it).

PaulyWally
06-08-2012, 05:48 AM
I can't recall the designations for Bravo and Charlie companies in the 87th, but when I get home I'll be able to put my hands on the info. Delta's designation is Dagger, though.

Would you also happen to know the nicknames (or other designations) of the platoons under the 1-87?

Trebor1415
06-08-2012, 10:21 AM
Here's my suggestion:

From what I can tell you don't need to be as specific as you are asking about. If the story is really about two soldiers or Marines who are sharing a foxhole together, they aren't going to swap unit histories and designations in combat. They might ID themselves by company, but that would be about it if they are from the same parent unit.

If you want a specific historic incident to place this in, and if it doesn't have to be modern, take a a look at the Marine's and army's battle in the Chosin Reservior.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chosin_Reservoir

As to platoon and company designations, make sure you know either the WWII era phonetic alphabet or the modern NATO phonetic alphabet. A company would also be called "Able" in WWII and "Alpha" in modern times. This wiki page lists both alphabets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_phonetic_alphabet