ROCID, ROAD, MTOEs and CARS
The United States Army had undergone several reorganizations in its force structure in the ten years prior to the United States’ commitment of troops to South Vietnam. After the Second World War, and through the Korean War, US Army Infantry Divisions were triangular; primarily composed of three infantry regiments per division, each infantry regiment composed of three battalions. The regiment was the basic tactical unit of the Army and had been so since its founding. Regimental identities dated back to the founding of the Army, and many regiments had long, storied histories dating back to the American Civil War, the Mexican War, and in some cases to the Revolutionary War.
This changed in 1957 with the beginning of the Reorganization of the Current Infantry Division (ROCID). In response to the perceived need to have rapidly available conventional forces able to take action with a minimal organizational period in an age of atomic weapons and the threat of war at a moment’s notice in Europe and Korea, The Pentagon and the Army introduced the ROCID concept, which reorganized Infantry Divisions into a Pentomic (five part) structure. All US Army Infantry Divisions were reorganized into five battlegroups, ready to confront the Red Army on the plains of Europe, as tactical and strategic atomic weapons were deployed on the battlefield.
ROCID had its flaws, which became readily evident. It was only suited to a particular kind of conflict (a total war in Europe). It eliminated the battalion echelon of command and in doing so created an unwieldy span of control (Commands and Staffs can generally manage 2–5 separate elements). The pentomic battle groups contained seven companies and in combat would habitually have 2 – 4 more attached such as engineers, artillery, or armor. Regimental cohesion was seriously degraded as regimental affiliations, histories and the accompanying esprit d’corps were lost as companies were haphazardly thrown into pentomic battle groups. Finally, the preparation of junior officers and field grade officers for senior command was lost with the elimination of the Battalion-echelon. Colonels commanded battle groups. Captains commanded companies. The lack of a “middle” echelon of command led to insufficient preparation for more senior commands.
By 1961 the flaws of ROCID became evident, most importantly in it limiting the US Army to effectively fighting only a total war on the plains of Central Europe. The incoming Kennedy Administration had a new defense strategy: flexible response. This called for deterrence at strategic, tactical, and conventional levels, giving the United States the capability to respond to aggression across the spectrum of war, not just total war. The Reorganization of Army Divisions (ROAD) program was mandated by the Department of Defense in 1961 and its implementation begun by the US Army and completed by 1965.
US Army divisional types (Infantry, Mechanized, Armor, Airborne and Cavalry) would each have three brigades of three to four battalions. A division would consist of nine to twelve battalions, and divisions would have a mix of battalion types to comport with the expected Mission, likely Enemy, Terrain/weather, and other forces available or Troops (METT).
Brigades were viewed as modular organizations, which battalions could be moved to and from, and be task-organized to a specific mission, operation or campaign. Specialized brigades were created to deal with specific contingencies and METT situations. As well, the US Army kept an Armored Cavalry Regiment organization (made up of three squadrons, Cavalry-speak for battalions…a troop is Cavalry-speak for a Cavalry company). Divisions were also seen as modular organizations where brigades could be task-organized beneath them. This allowed for a more fluid and responsive command and control structure; brigade command and staff and division command and staff aiding, managing and controlling the operations of the primary tactical maneuver unit: the battalion. This is the force management and command and control structure the US Army possessed when it began to deploy to South Vietnam in 1965.
Battalion organizations were (and are today) determined by their Modification tables of organization and equipment (MTOEs). This is US Army-ese for “How many men, at what ranks with what training and what stuff does this battalion have, and, hey, how are its platoons and companies organized?” In South Vietnam, in 1966, the Army was both experimenting with “Test” MTOEs and adapting its existing battalion MTOEs to the realities of combat on the ground. 1966 was a transition period for the US Army
The standard US Army Infantry Battalion MTOE consisted of three Rifle Companies and one Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC). Most mortars, many heavy weapons, all anti-tank weapons, some specialized platoons and all headquarters personnel were in the HHC. The US Army Mechanized Infantry Battalion MTOE was the same as the above, but with all personnel and most weapons platforms utilizing M113 Armored Personnel Carriers for Transport. Both are present during Operation Attleboro.
The Test Airmobile Infantry Battalion MTOE used by the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) at this time eschewed an HHC and consisted of three Airmobile Rifle Companies and one Combat Support Company (CSC). The lack of an HHC for command and control purposes was to be ameliorated by closer coordination by the brigade headquarters and the extensive training of the subordinate companies to be more self-reliant and less dependent on battalion-level management for operations, given that the battalions would be called upon to land in small, sometimes near-isolated landing zones and then immediately conduct operations. The Test Light Infantry Battalion MTOE, seen in this game as the component battalions of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate), was essentially the same as the Test Airmobile Infantry Battalion MTOE, but the battalions were not trained in Air Assault operations. The concept behind this test MTOE was that the Light Infantry Battalions would be able to move and operate in a wider, more independent fashion in difficult terrain (like that in Vietnam).
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment had an Armored Cavalry Squadron MTOE unique to that Regiment. Each Squadron, in 1966, possessed approximately 15 M48A3 Tanks, 85 M113 ACAVs, an organic M109 SP 155 Battery, 3 M132 Flamethrower Vehicles, and an Engineer Platoon. These were organized into five troops, three Armored Cavalry Troops, one Armored Troop and one Armored Artillery Troop. The concept was that Operationally, each Squadron was to operate as a Squadron, not as individual Troops.
Finally, as these MTOE types were deployed to Vietnam, DoD, RAND Corporation, and US Army studies began to conclude that the triangular “Three Rifle Companies and an HHC” organization of US Army Standard MTOE Infantry and Mechanized Infantry Battalions might not be optimally suited to the war being fought in Vietnam, as opposed to the plains of Central Europe for which they were designed. These battalion types, in late 1966, were beginning to be reorganized into US Army, Vietnam (USARV) MTOEs. This change involved reorganizing personnel, mothballing anti-tank units and hard-to-transport 4.2 inch M30 Mortars, and creating a fourth Rifle Company, while keeping a now-truncated HHC. There is one example of this MTOE type in the game, the 1st/5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, which utilizes the USARV Mechanized Infantry Battalion MTOE.
But what about those regiments? Remember? The ones that were all discombobulated back when I was writing about ROCID? Well, they stayed, sort of.
When the US Army’s regiments were disbanded as combat formations (except for the five Cavalry Regiments at that time) the U.S. Army Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) was adapted. This was designed to provide a flexible regimental structure that would “permit perpetuation of unit history and tradition in the new tactical organization of divisions, without restricting the organizational trends of the future.” In practical terms, all the regimental headquarters were transferred to Department of Army control (in name only, they were disbanded as actually headquarters). However, each Infantry (Standard, Airborne and Mechanized), Armored, and Field Artillery Battalion would have a regimental affiliation. The Army as an institution referred (and still refers) to these battalions by their Battalion Numerical Designation/Regimental Affiliation, e.g. the 1st Battalion of the 5th Regiment (referred to above), their assignment to a Brigade, notwithstanding. So, the 1st Battalion/5th Regiment (in the game, designated as 1/5 – HHC, A1/5, B/1/5, C/1/5 and D/1/5) is assigned to the 2nd Brigade/25th Infantry Division.
The modular nature of the US Army’s Brigade/Divisional command and control of operations, in theory and in practice during Operation Attleboro, the necessity of modelling the various MTOE variations in unit constructs (and their strength and weaknesses), and given that the battalions were commonly referred to by their regimental affiliations during the period, I decided to use the CARS designations on the counters which represent the companies that comprise the US Ground Order of Battle. Below is a complete listing of the US Army battalions represented in this game – their special designation or motto, and their brigade/divisional assignment and their MTOE Type during Operation Attleboro:
2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment (Motto: Semper Primus – Always First), 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate) – Test Light Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Ramrods”), 3rs Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Bobcats”), 2nd Brigade/25th Infantry Division – USARV Mechanized Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Golden Dragons”), 1st Brigade/25th Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment (Motto: Semper Paratus – “Always Ready”), 3rd Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Mechanized Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment (Motto: Semper Paratus – “Always Ready”), 2nd Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Vanguards”), 2nd Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Gimlet”), 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate) – Test Light Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment (Motto: “Deeds, Not Words”), 3rd Brigade/4th Infantry Division – Mechanized Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Blue Spaders”), 3rs Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Wolfhounds”), 2nd Brigade/25th Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Wolfhounds”), 2nd Brigade/25th Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Lions of Cantigny”), 1st Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Lions of Cantigny”), 1st Brigade/1st Infantry Division – Infantry Battalion MTOE
4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “Polar Bears”), 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate) – Test Light Infantry Battalion MTOE
2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment (Special Designation: “The Rock”), 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) – Test Airmobile Infantry MTOE
1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment (Special Designation: “Quarterhorse”), 1st Infantry Division – Infantry Division Cavalry Squadron MTOE
1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Special Designation: “Black Horse Regiment”), 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment – Armored Cavalry Squadron MTOE
F Troop, 17th Cavalry Regiment (Motto: “Forward”), Reconnaissance Troop, 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate)
1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment (Motto: “Faithful and True”), Artillery Brigade, 1st Infantry Division – Medium Artillery Battalion MTOE
8th Battalion/6th Field Artillery Regiment (Celer et Audax-“Swift and Bold”), Artillery Brigade, 1st Infantry Division – Heavy Artillery Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment (Motto: Nunquam Aerumna Nec Prolio Fractum -“Never Broken by Hardship or Battle”), Artillery Brigade, 1st Infantry Division – Medium Artillery Battalion MTOE
1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment (Nickname: “Automatic 8th”), Artillery Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – Medium Artillery Battalion MTOE
3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Regiment (Motto: “Without Fear, Favor or the Hope of Reward”), Artillery Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – Medium Artillery Regiment MTOE
3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment (Motto: “Can and Will”), 196th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate) – Test Light Infantry Brigade Artillery MTOE
3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment (Nickname: “Gun Devils”), 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) – Test Airmobile Artillery Battalion MTOE