Cover: Understanding Why a Ground Combat Vehicle That Carries Nine Dismounts Is Important to the Army

Understanding Why a Ground Combat Vehicle That Carries Nine Dismounts Is Important to the Army

Published Jul 11, 2013

by Bruce Held, Mark A. Lorell, James T. Quinlivan, Chad C. Serena

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Research Questions

  1. What kind of infantry fighting vehicle does the Army require?
  2. What are the drawbacks of the Bradley fighting vehicle?
  3. What improvements does the Ground Combat Vehicle provide?

The Army has examined the lessons of half a dozen significant conflicts, starting with World War II, has conducted numerous studies over the last 65 years, and has found time and again that an ability to conduct dismounted fire and maneuver is the fundamental squad-level tactic. It has also consistently determined that squads should be organized around two fire teams and should contain no fewer than nine soldiers — though a larger number has usually been preferred — to accomplish fire and maneuver doctrine, but also for reasons of squad resilience, lethality, and leader span of control. To support fully enabled mechanized infantry squads, the Army has, for the last fifty years, tried to develop and field survivable, lethal infantry fighting vehicles that are also capable of carrying a full nine to eleven man squad that can dismount to fight on foot. The Army has not been able to do this for a variety of reasons, and its current infantry fighting vehicle, the M2 Bradley, cannot carry enough soldiers to enable squad-level fire and maneuver from a single vehicle. As a result, today's mechanized infantry are more at risk when transitioning from mounted to dismounted operations, and squad-level dismounted fire and maneuver is compromised in some situations. The Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), if developed as planned, will finally provide the infantry with an IFV that can accommodate a full squad. For this reason, the Army considers the program to be one of its most important.

Key Findings

The ability for an infantry fighting vehicle to carry a full dismountable squad of at least nine to eleven men remains a key Army requirement.

  • It allows the squad leader to control and communicate with the squad while mounted.
  • It simplifies the transition to dismounted operations in complex terrain.
  • The squad can conduct independent fire and maneuver immediately upon dismount.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) compromised infantry doctrine for the sake of mounted lethality and cost savings.

  • Reorganization of the Bradley platoon led to squads being broken apart for transport and affected squad operations.
  • The ability to conduct fire and maneuver immediately upon dismount became more difficult.

Replacing the BFV on a one-for-one basis by the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) addresses these problems.

  • Four GCVs per mechanized infantry platoon allow for the carrying of full nine-man squads (plus the three-man GCV crews) in a single vehicle.
  • Three GCVs could carry three complete mechanized infantry squads, and the fourth GCV can carry the platoon's organic and attached enablers.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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