Peace vs wartime mil. organization

A lot of European countries have small armies, less than 15.000 soldiers and in many of them, there are units that have only a tank battalion (a tank battalion that is made of 30-50 tanks) , a apc battalion that is made of 30-50 apc’s and also infantry battalions that have nothing.

So what I want to know is…what happens in the wartime?
I suppose that it all depends on the mettc, but in general, would everything be reorganized so that the tank and apc battalions get ,destroyed" and split in platoons (or smaller levels), so that each of the infantry platoons gets a tank (not exactly like that, but something in that style) or would the tank battalions still exist and work with the infantry battalion, without actually the infantry battalion getting to control the tanks under their hq…?

When you have a small country, but a long front, I suppose that you have to split the tank battalion in many parts, so that everyone on the front would get tank support, but I am not sure…, also if it is like that, is there a ,military name" for the process of that reorganizing of forces?

Most European countries are part of NATO, so their military forces would become part of a larger organization during wartime. Belgian armor would be mixed with German infantry and British artillery, with US air support and Italian catering.

I think it all depends on the scale of the mobilization. You probably in most cases would not split up those active duty forces into a cadre, but rather would have units that are all reservists and use reserve equipment. However, a prolonged massive conflict that requires mobilizing the general population would require some of the experienced soldiers to act as a cadre. Reserve units or newly formed units will also likely be “lighter”,with more emphasis on leg infantry rather than mechanized formations.

Splitting your mechanized units into small pieces to spread around a larger force would go against most doctrines after the French experience in ww2.

Actually, the Pentagon would quietly pat the small countries on the head, and tell them, “You folks stay home, and pretend to do something useful, and we’ll do the fighting.”

It would be more diplomatic than that, of course. But let’s be honest–most European nations couldn’t make any significant contribution to a war.

Looking at Wikipedia, the Marine Corps alone is bigger than the entire active-duty militaries of Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and Austria combined. If the Marine Corps was a nation, it would be the 5th-biggest European military–bigger than Italy, Spain, even the UK!

Yes. But of course the Americans have a vastly larger military capacity than anybody could possibly require. And they have it, mainly, because they can afford it and they choose to spend their money that way. (Whether they get value from spending so much of their money that way, as opposed to some other way, is another question.)

The issue for other countries is not how their military measures up against the US. (Why would they care about that, unless they expect to be invaded by the US?) The issue is whether their military capacity is appropriate to their needs. Comparisons with the US Marine Corps don’t do much to answer that question.

They wouldn’t care about it, for when they are in trouble they just call the US and we bail them out. Why incest in a large military when the USA can be your protector?

But we observe that countries which can’t call on the US to bail them out don’t invest in large militaries either. They get by without.

Obviously if the US is going to spend irrational amounts on a massive military capacity, and is willing to make that military capacity available to you, then if you feel it might benefit you you will call on it. It doesn’t follow, though, that if the US didn’t do this, you would have to do it yourself, or that it would be rational to do it yourself, even if you could afford to. Every country in the world, except the US, gets by without a military capacity such as the US has. Clearly, it’s perfectly doable, whether or not you can “borrow” the US’s military capacity from time to time.

I think the US, having made a societal decision to spend staggering amounts of money on things that go “bang”, is heavily invested in the idea that these things are useful, even indispensable, and that not only they but also their allies are dependent on them. I cautiously suggest that the evidence might suggest otherwise; countries that don’t have the US at their backs generally get by pretty much as well as those that do, and there is some reason to suggest that US military expenditure has long passed the point where diminishing returns set in. The US has found its adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, seriously challenging, and I think much more challenging than they expected when they went in. Those are countries that you might think the US should be able to deal with in weeks, not years.

What their massive military expenditure does buy the US, undoubtedly, is the ability to defeat conventional forces in the field with minimal risk to themselves. But it turns out that that’s not so terribly useful, when it doesn’t also buy the ability to impose solutions that fix the problems that made you go to war in the first place. And one way, I think, in which the US tends to overvalue the utility of its military capacity is in thinking that more problems can be solved by military force than in fact can. The “war on terror” was always unwinnable; you can’t shoot an abstract concept.

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The US has a very, very big hammer, but not many of the challenges it faces are nails.

I think that those of us who are allies of the USA are pretty happy that if anyone threatens us we can, like a kid with a big tough brother, scare off any bullies. We contribute by buying hugely expensive kit like Trident and supporting the USA when it wants to wave the stars and stripes overseas.

It does show the different mindset, that while most of the world is recognising that a huge military with heavy equipment is only good for fighting yesterday’s war, the USA is still investing in bigger and better military toys.

Most people outside America, see Americans as being obsessed with things that go bang.

Smaller armies can be organized in such a way as to form the nucleus for a much larger force. This is what Germany did after WW I. Under the Versailles treaty, Germany’s military (the Reichswehr) was limited to 100,000 soldiers. The men who did join were all volunteers and they were carefully selected and trained. It has been said that every Reichswehr soldier was trained to perform at least one level above his actual pay grade, e. g. a private could fill in for an NCO without losing a beat, a lieutenant for a company commander, a captain for a battalion commander etc.

And to go with the tanks bit, no, Cavalry units (promise, there’s places where they’re still called that… armored cavalry) do not get split twenty-ways-around and their individual teams assigned to the Infantry. They’re different branches, they work “together but not mixed”.

NATO forces are with one or two exceptions are basically an adjunct to the US military in Europe. In that sense they are more akin to the auxiliaries of the Romans or local colonial troops of the erstwhile Empires. They will be employed like such troops are, as augmentation to forces, as rear area guards as holding formations in quiet sectors.

You should also keep in mind the relationship between the military and the industrial and scientific industries which support it. One has to say keep buying tanks if one is to keep a tank industry going or research into new tanks.

Logistic support in the bases is one of the ways in which European forces play rear guard to the guys with the big guns; letting “your” bases be used or not for a specific action or type of action is one of the things our politicians like to make noise about.

Well for one thing, they call up the SOB’s and bastards that they not want in peacetime.

The US invests in huge military systems because it has a global commitment. Our strategic goals are built around force projection into places like Europe and Southeast Asia. As others have mentioned, we protect not only our own country but a staggering number of allied nations all throughout the world. That is a giant security blanket that is able to respond to multiple regions at once. There are very few nations on Earth that are capable of projecting their forces to distant locations with any regularity.

If America did not exercise tremendous military power, the map of the world would look very, very different because other hostile nations (cough Russia cough) would inevitably take advantage of that fact. As others have pointed out, many of these countries either cannot afford a large standing military or rely on the US to bail them out. Many NATO treaty nations actually do not meet their obligated force contributions, mostly because they cannot afford to and they know the US will be there anyway.

Countries with small militaries do not “get by just fine.” Many, many countries in the world have extreme problems with terrorism and regional, ethnic, and/or criminal insurgencies. And in any event, these countries do not live in major conflict zones.

The US **did **deal with those countries in weeks. The Taliban was virtually eradicated in Afghanistan, and only survived because they were evacuated and sheltered by Pakistan in places that the US was not willing to invade. The entire Iraqi Army and the Baathist government in Iraq ceased to exist. If you consider these issues objectively, the scale of these accomplishments is staggering. Almost no other country on Earth would even be able to attempt these things.

The problem is that most people focus on the Iraqi Civil War and the return of the Taliban as evidence that the US military is a failure. A big part of the problem is that the politicians insist on using the US military to solve political and social problems in these countries, which is not and should not be the military’s job. But judging from your other comments, I think you recognize this. And, by the way, the US eventually crushed the insurgencies in Iraq and consistently defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan, and could now be called the most credible and sophisticated counterinsurgency force in the world. The fact that both of these countries descent is consistent with the US withdrawal should be ample evidence of that.

But to return to the OP:

Most countries in Europe, most specifically on the Eastern side, tended to resort to a strategy of maintaining a skeleton force in peacetime that could rapidly equip a reserve or conscripted force in wartime. Most Russian units, for example, were little more than depots for equipment anticipating the day the reserves would be mobilized. It’s worth pointing out that even Russia recognized how stupid this strategy was in the 90’s, and over the last decade has shifted to creating full-time, professional units similar to the US model.

I am sorry, but in which bizzaro universe are you posting from? The fact of the matter is, the US failed to impose its will on two small countries and the failure ws that of the United States armed forces? Pacification of occupied territory is one of the jobs of an Army and the US failed to do that in the last 15 years.

That’s probably part of it, and the other reason would be to keep the traditions of historical military units alive. Some European militaries have units with histories stretching back hundreds of years, with honors and traditions accumulated during that time. So rather than just unceremoniously shit-can the units, they staff them at reduced levels.

The British Army seems to do this at every budgetary revision. Some units are amalgamations of multiple historical regiments- look at the Royal Regiment of Scotland for an example; each battalion was formerly its own regiment with its own traditions, uniforms, etc… but now they’re battalions within an amalgamated regiment.

I’d argue that the US defense budget is outsized, but not as outsized as it seems; it’s only 3.5% of GDP, which is about 1.5 percentage points higher than most larger European countries like France and the UK. Even if the US adhered to the NATO target of 2%, we’d STILL have a defense budget of about 350 billion dollars, which is like 1.6x the Chinese budget, and 5.6x the UK budget.

People tend to forget just how staggeringly huge the US GDP is in relation to the rest of the world.

While doctrine on usage can differ from country to country generally everybody is going to build combined arms teams based on the mission. Tank or infantry pure organizations are frequently viewed as easier and more efficient to manage, train, maintain, etc outside of combat. You combat the weakness of less experience working together by task organizing for higher level collective training and Command Post Exercises (CPXs). The US, during last decades transformation, reorganized our tank battalions as combined arms battalions (2 each of tank and mech infantry companies). Before that we mostly followed the tank/infantry pure model with cavalry organizations being the exception.

In the US we task organize at Company/Team level and above. That typically means moving around maneuver platoons and squad/section supporting elements. Doctrinally we don’t like task organizing at platoon level (To try and avoid overstressing the experience and capability of the Lieutenant who’s leading the platoon.) For armor doctrinally the lowest level we operate is at section level (two tanks of the four tank platoon) using the wingman concept. (“You never, never leave your wingman” - Iceman, Top Gun :D) Things get more difficult if you try pushing lower than that since the leader of the element is more junior with less experience to advise their commander about capabilities and support of their element. While various NATO member doctrines can differ I can’t think of any examples that drive task organization at lower levels.

Now that we’ve framed the task org problem…
METT-TC dictates.

The reality is far more nuanced and, from experience, more difficult. I shuddered at that level of task organization based on my experiences on a NATO mission. At least you ended with a happy personal memory; some of the best Army food I ever had was in an Italian dining facility.

Coalitions are hard. There’s friction across national lines. Some of that can be the the historically common use of TACON (tactical control) as the method of command. It allows directing task but doesn’t allow task organization of that subordinate element with other elements. Some of it can be national caveats that produce limits on what one nation can do as a part of the overall mission. Language difficulties, system interoperability issues, and different capabilities between similar types of units can cause issues. For a good chunk of NATOs existence we minimized friction by trying to avoid task organizing as low as you suggest is the norm.

We’ve been working on it though. Here’s an article* from Armor (APR - JUN 2015) magazine (.pdf file) from a LTC based on his experience as a senior Observer Controller Trainer for rotations through JMRC (Joint Manuver Readiness Center) at Hohenfehls, Germany where NATOs been trying to develop the capability. It sounds very much like a work in progress. There’s still extra friction points across national lines. Some of the issues are unlikely to go away entirely regardless of training. Whether the extra friction is worth the benefit is one of the hard questions commanders will have to make.

  • For those with limited experience with US Army Acronyms (which are used heavily throughout) there’s a reference near the end of the document . They should all be written out the first time they’re used but IME it’s easy to read past that without the acronym sinking in.

In general, armor isn’t split into small pieces – that’s been proven to be ineffective. You want to keep armor as a sizable group, even if that leaves some infantry groups lacking armor support.

But the soldiers in that armor are split up. As soon as you have enough additional tanks delivered to form a 2nd armored group, you take half the soldiers from the original group and move them to the new group. Then new soldiers are assigned to each group to fill in the empty half. This results in 2 armored groups, each with a core of experienced soldiers who can train & lead the new ones. The US used this process extensively in WWII, when there was a sudden, vast increase in all the services. And a similar technique can be traced back at least as far as the Roman Legions.

People, please don’t discuss the size of the American mil. budget here, this topic is not about American or any other budget.

Back to the topic, so if I understood correctly, the ,tank battalion" made up of only tanks would pretty much remain as it is and would most likely only coordinate in a battle with other infantry units without givings tanks to the other units, unless its really big war (big front), in which case it would get split? I am not really talking about ww3 scenarios with nato, bunch of countries,etc, but just a simple ,regional power" or smaller level country in a war with a neighbor, nothing specific, for example Iran-Iraq war or the Balkans wars, in the Bosnian war you had 3 armies, each about 50 to 100.000 soldiers and the front was about 400 or more kilometers at the biggest length, so I have no idea how they did things there, whether they split up the tank battalions that existed prior to the war or only coordinated…