In military terminology, a squad or squadron is a sub-subunit led
by a non-commissioned officer that is subordinate to an infantry
platoon. In countries following the
British Army tradition (Australian
Army, Canadian Army, and others), this organization is referred to as
a section. In most armies, a squad consists of eight to fourteen
soldiers, and may be further subdivided into fireteams.
2.2 United States
2.2.1 United States Army
2.2.2 United States Marine Corps
2.2.3 United States Air Force
2.3 Soviet Union
2.4 Fire service in the United States
2.5 Chinese National Revolutionary
Army to 1949
4 Other military uses
5 See also
8 External links
NATO symbol – squad (7 or 8 – 12 soldiers) – in NATO
two single dots (●● squad in general); respectively
a lying rectangle with two dots above (squad as single sub-unit) on
Name comparison in different languages and armies
Groupe de combat
The equivalent to squad is the Gruppe, a sub-unit of 8 to 12 soldiers,
in the German Bundeswehr, Austrian Bundesheer and Swiss Army.
During World War 2 the German
Wehrmacht infantry squad or Gruppe was
mainly a general purpose machine gun (GPMG) based unit. The advantage
of the general purpose machine gun concept was that it added greatly
to the overall volume of fire that could be put out by a squad-sized
MG 34 or
MG 42 GPMGs were normally used in the light machine
gun role. An infantry Gruppe consisted of ten men; a non-commissioned
Unteroffizier squad leader, deputy squad leader, a
three-man machine gun team (machine gunner, assistant gunner and
ammunition carrier) and five riflemen. As personal small arms the
squad leader was issued a rifle or as of around 1941 a submachine gun,
the machine gunner and his assistant were issued pistols and the
deputy squad leader, ammunition carrier and the riflemen were issued
rifles. The riflemen carried additional ammunition, hand grenades,
explosive charges or a machine gun tripod as required and provided
security and covering fire for the machine gun team. Two of the
standard issue bolt-action
Karabiner 98k rifles in the squad could be
replaced with semi-automatic
Gewehr 43 rifles and occasionally, StG-44
assault rifles could be used to re-arm the whole squad, besides the
United States Army
Historically, a "squad" in the US
Army was a sub-unit of a section,
consisting of from as few as two soldiers to as many as 12 and was
originally used primarily for drill and administrative purposes (e.g.,
billeting, messing, working parties, etc.). The smallest tactical
sub-unit being the section, which was also known as a half-platoon
(the platoon itself being a half company).
Depending upon the time period, the squad "leader" (not an official
position title until 1891) could be a sergeant (the sergeant, in
sections with only one corporal, led the section's first squad, while
the lone corporal served as assistant section leader and led the
section's second squad), a corporal (in sections with two corporals),
a lance corporal (a rank the
Army had in varying numbers and
conditions from at least 1821 until 1920), a private first class (PFC)
(the rank existing since 1846 but not earning its one chevron - taken
from the abolished lance corporal rank - until 1920). or even a
"senior" private (there being many long-service, or "professional,"
privates until the post-WWII era).
In 1891, the US
Army officially defined a rifle "squad" as consisting
of "seven privates and one corporal."  The US
Army employed the
eight-man rifle squad through WWI and until the late 1930s under the
Square Division organizational plan, in which sergeants continued to
lead sections consisting of two squads.
Under the Triangular Division organization plan in 1939 rifle squads
were no longer organized into sections. Instead, the squads were
reorganized into a 12-man unit of three elements, or teams, Able,
Baker, and Charlie, reporting directly to the platoon commander (an
officer, usually a second lieutenant), assisted by a sergeant assigned
as the "assistant to platoon commander" (re-designated as "platoon
leader" in 1940 and as "platoon sergeant" in 1943 with the officer
then re-designated as "platoon leader".) The squad leader was still
only a corporal but the squad was also assigned a PFC (one of the
scout riflemen) as the assistant to the squad leader. This soldier
could serve as a either the squad leader's messenger to the platoon
commander or could be used to relay orders to other squad elements, as
needed. While not a noncommissioned officer (NCO) the PFC was an
experienced soldier, as prior to WWII the majority of enlisted men
remained privates for the entire term of their enlistment since
promotion opportunity was scarce. However, the obvious command (viz.,
leadership and supervision) weakness of so large a squad under one NCO
rapidly became obvious in light of the pre-war mobilization and was
corrected in 1940 when a second NCO was added to the squad.
This adjustment raised the squad leader to a sergeant (grade 4) and
the assistant squad leader to a corporal (grade 5). The "platoon
leader" (with the officer still being the "platoon commander") now
became a staff sergeant, (grade 3). (In 1920 the enlisted rank
structure was simplified and seven grades were established ranging
from master sergeant as grade 1 to private as grade 7; staff sergeant
being one of the new rank titles then established by combining several
intermediate sergeant grades ranking above section leaders but below
the company first sergeant.) This squad organization included two men
serving as “scout (rifleman),” who along with the squad leader,
formed the security element (i.e., reconnaissance and overwatch
actions), designated as “Able.” The second element was a three-man
Rifle (BAR) team consisting of an automatic
rifleman, an assistant automatic rifleman and an ammunition bearer.
This element formed the “base of fire” (viz., fire support in
providing suppressive fires in the attack and protective fires in the
defense) and was designated as “Baker.” Lastly, there were five
riflemen and the assistant squad leader, who formed the “maneuver
element” (e.g., flanking and assault movements in the attack and
repelling and reinforcing actions in the defense), designated as
In 1942, the
Army had a massive restructuring of its Tables of
Organization & Equipment (TO&Es) and increased the rank of the
squad leader and assistant squad leader to staff sergeant and
sergeant, respectively. (
Platoon leaders now became technical
sergeants, as grade 2, and first sergeants became equal in pay grade
to master sergeants as grade 1.) The BAR man (automatic rifleman) and
the senior rifleman of the Charlie element became corporals (grade 5)
and de facto team leaders, even though not officially designated as
such. (In 1943 NCO platoon leaders were re-designated as platoon
sergeants and officer platoon commanders became platoon leaders.)
After WWII, in 1948, the
Army decided to "downsize” the rifle squad
to a nine-man organization (as well as realign its enlisted grade
structure), as post-war analysis had shown that the 12-man squad was
too large and unwieldy in combat. The squad leader was again
called a sergeant (but retained the grade 3 pay grade and insignia of
the rank of a staff sergeant, which was then eliminated.) The two
scouts of the Able element were eliminated with the idea that all of
the riflemen should be able to perform the scouting duties and would
therefore all share in the associated inherent risk of that position.
The Baker element’s ammunition bearer was also eliminated, leaving
the two-man BAR team as the base of fire, supervised by the assistant
squad leader (again called a corporal), but remaining as a grade 4,
since the rank of sergeant (three chevrons) was then eliminated. (PFC
became grade 5, private was grade 6, and recruit was grade 7; PFCs
wore one chevron and privates and recruits both wore none.) The five
riflemen of the “Charlie” team, now led by the squad leader,
remained as the maneuver element.
Also, in 1948, the rank title of the platoon sergeant changed from
technical sergeant (which was eliminated) to sergeant first class
(SFC) (grade 2) and the rank title of first sergeant was again
eliminated, being retained only as an occupational title for the
senior NCO of a company. In 1951 the pay grades were reversed, with
master sergeant becoming E-7 (vice the previous grade 1) and sergeant
first class becoming E-6, so that the squad leader became a sergeant
(E-5) and the assistant squad leader, a corporal (E-4). (With PFC,
PVT, and RCT being E-3, E-2, and E-1, respectively.)
In the 1956 the
Army began reorganizing into its "Pentomic” plan
under the ROCID (Reorganization of Current
TO&Es. The rifle squad was reorganized into an eleven-man
organization with a sergeant (E-5) as squad leader and two five-man
fire teams. Each fire team consisted of a corporal (E-4) team
leader, an automatic rifleman, an assistant automatic rifleman, a
grenadier, and a scout-rifleman. The assistant squad leader position
was eliminated, with the senior fire team leader now filling this role
In 1958, with the addition of the E-8 and E-9 pay grades, the ranks of
the squad and fire team leaders changed again, now to staff sergeant
(E-6) and sergeant (E-5), respectively. The 1958 restructuring
restored the traditional sergeant and staff sergeant rank insignia of
three chevrons and three chevrons over an inverted arc, respectively.
Platoon sergeant became a separate rank title, and along with SFC,
became E-7; first sergeants and master sergeants became pay grade E-8.
Also, the rank of sergeant major was revived as E-9, with a new
distinctive rank insignia consisting of the three chevrons and three
inverted arcs of a master sergeant/first sergeant but replacing the
first sergeant's lozenge with a star.)
Under the ROAD (Reorganization Objective
Army Divisions) structure in
1963, the rifle squad was reduced to a ten-man organization. This
iteration of the rifle squad retained the two fire teams but
eliminated the two scouts (one in each fire team), instead providing
the squad leader with one extra rifleman, who could be used to
reinforce either fire team or assist the squad leader as required. An
exception was in mechanized infantry units, where an additional
rifleman (increasing the squad to eleven members) was assigned as the
driver of the squad’s M113A2 armored personnel carrier. (Also,
in 1968, the separate rank title of platoon sergeant was eliminated,
leaving SFC as the only E-7 rank.)
Army rifle squads consist of nine soldiers, organized
under a squad leader into two four-man fire teams. The squad leader is
a staff sergeant (E-6) and the two fire team leaders are sergeants
(E-5). Mechanized infantry and Stryker infantry units are equipped
with M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and M1126 Stryker,
infantry carrier vehicles, respectively. Unlike the ROAD era
mechanized infantry units, none of the vehicle crewman (M2A3 - three,
M1126 - two) are counted as part of the nine-man rifle squad
transported by the vehicles. The squad is also used in infantry
crew-served weapons sections (number of members varies by weapon),
military police (twelve soldiers including a squad leader divided into
four three-man teams, with three team leaders), and combat engineer
United States Marine Corps
In the United States Marine Corps, a rifle squad is usually composed
of three fireteams of four Marines each and a squad leader who is
typically a sergeant or corporal. Other types of USMC infantry squads
include: machinegun (7.62mm), heavy machinegun (.50 cal. and 40mm),
LWCMS mortar (60-mm), 81-mm mortar, assault weapon (SMAW), antiarmor
(Javelin missile), and anti-tank (TOW missile). These squads range
from as few as three Marines (60mm LWCM squad) to as many as eight
(Javelin Missile squad), depending upon the weapon system with which
the squad is equipped. Squads are also used in reconnaissance, light
armored reconnaissance (scout dismounts), combat engineer, law
enforcement (i.e., military police), Marine Security Force Regiment
(MSFR), and Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) companies.
United States Air Force
US Air Force Security Forces
US Air Force Security Forces a squad is made up of three fire
teams of four members each led by a senior airman or staff sergeant
and either a staff sergeant or tech sergeant squad leader.
Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces a motorised rifle squad was mounted in
either a BTR armoured personnel carrier or BMP infantry fighting
vehicle, with the former being more numerous by the late 1980s. BTR
rifle squads consisted of a squad leader/BTR commander, senior
rifleman/assistant squad leader, a machine gunner armed with an
RPK-74, a grenadier armed with an RPG-7, a rifleman/assistant
grenadier, a rifleman/medic, a rifleman, a BTR driver/mechanic and a
BTR machine gunner. BMP rifle squads consisted of a squad leader/BMP
commander, assistant squad leader/BMP gunner, a BMP driver/mechanic, a
machine gunner armed with an RPK-74, a genadier armed with an RPG-7, a
rifleman/assistant grenadier, a rifleman/medic, a senior rifleman and
a rifleman all armed with AKMs or AK-74s. Within a platoon the
rifleman in one of the squads was armed with an SVD sniper rifle. In
both BTR and BMP squads the vehicle's gunner and driver stayed with
the vehicle while the rest of the squad dismounted.
Fire service in the United States
A squad is a term used in the US Fire and EMS services to describe
several types of units and emergency apparatus. Oftentimes, the names
"squad" and "rescue squad" are used interchangeably, however the
function of the squad is different from department to department. In
some departments, a "squad" and a "rescue" are two distinct units.
This is the case in New York City, where the
FDNY operates seven
squads. These special "enhanced" engine companies perform both "truck"
and "engine" company tasks, as well as hazardous materials (Hazmat)
mitigation and other specialty rescue functions. FDNY's five "rescue"
companies primarily mitigate technical and heavy rescue incidents, and
operate as a pure special rescue unit. Squads and rescues within the
FDNY are part of the departments specialty operations command (SOC).
In other departments, a squad is a name given to a type of apparatus
that delivers EMS, and is staffed by firefighter/EMTs or
firefighter/paramedics. This type of service delivery is common in the
Los Angeles area of California, and was made famous in the
1970s show Emergency!, where the fictional
Squad 51 highlighted the
lives of two firefighter/paramedics of the LACoFD.
Chinese National Revolutionary
Army to 1949
The squad, 班, or section was the basic unit of the National
Army (the Republic of China), and would usually be 14
men strong. An infantry squad from an elite German-trained division
would ideally have one light machine gun and 10 rifles, but only one
of the three squads in a non-elite Central
Army division would have a
light machine gun. Furthermore, the regular provincial army divisions
had no machine guns at all.
A squad is led by an NCO known as a
Squad Leader. His/her second
in command is known as an Assistant
Squad Leader. In Britain and in
the Commonwealth, these appointments are known as Section Commander
and Section 2IC ("second in command"), respectively.
This article is about the military role. For the board game by Avalon
In the military, a squad leader is a non-commissioned officer who
leads a squad of typically 9 soldiers (US Army: squad leader and two
fireteams of 4 men each) or 13 Marines (US Marine Corps: squad leader
and three fireteams of 4 men each) in a rifle squad, or 3 to 8 men in
a crew-served weapons squad. In the United States
Army the TO&E
rank of a rifle squad leader is staff sergeant (E-6, or OR-6) and in
the United States Marine
Corps the TO rank is sergeant (E-5, or OR-5),
though a corporal may also act as a squad leader in the absence of
sufficient numbers of sergeants.
Squad leaders of crew-served weapons
squads range from corporal through staff sergeant, depending upon the
branch of service and type of squad. In some armies, notably those of
the British Commonwealth, in which the term section is used for units
of this size, the NCO in charge, which in the
British Army and Royal
Marines is normally a
Corporal (OR-4), is termed a section commander.
Typical ranks for squad leaders are:
A Romanian squad of a TAB-77 APC. This is a typical Soviet
arrangement, with a PK general purpose machine gun and a
machine gun in the center and two soldiers with
AK-47 assault rifles
RPG-7 grenade launcher on the flanks. Another soldier provides
liaison or extra firepower where needed.
Australian Army: Corporal
Austrian Army: Wachtmeister, Oberwachtmeister
Brazilian Army: In the Brazilian Army, a Grupo de Combate is a platoon
subdivision and is commanded by a third sergeant, as in a U.S. Army
British Army: Corporal
Army (Armée canadienne):
Sergeant or Master Corporal
Sergeant (desetnik) or
Staff sergeant (narednik)
Danish Army: Sergeant
Estonian Defence Forces: Seersant (reserve unit) or Nooremveebel
Finnish Army: Alikersantti or Kersantti (
Corporal or Sergeant)
Unterfeldwebel; until 1945
Obergefreiter in the
SS-Rottenführer in the Waffen-SS)
Israel Defense Forces:
Sergeant (Samál) or Staff
Sergeant (NOC is corporal and leads the light machine
gun fire team of the squad).
Portuguese Army: the esquadra (squad) is led by a cabo (corporal).
Polish Army: The drużyna (Squad) is led by a sierżant (Sergeant).
Royal Netherlands Army: sergeant
Royal Netherlands Marines: Corporal
Russian Army: Junior
Sergeant or Sergeant
Slovak Army: Rotný (Sgt 1st class)
Army (pelotón): Cabo 1º, Sargento
Swedish Army: Sergeant, First Sergeant
Wachtmeister (before 2004: Korporal)
Turkish Army: Çavuş
U.S. Army: Staff
Sergeant or Sergeant
U.S. Marine Corps:
Sergeant or Corporal
Other military uses
A squad can also be an ad hoc group of soldiers assigned to a task,
for example, a firing squad.
The Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial defines a squad as
"a small military formation of less than platoon size which is adopted
to teach drill movements. (escouade)" However, the Manual provides
direction for drill movements to be taught in "movements," "parts," or
"stages." The format of the commands in the manual has given rise
to a prevalent belief in the CF that these stages are called "squads".
This groupthink has such strength that phrases such as "for ease of
learning, this movement is broken down into 'squads'", are commonly
used during periods of drill instruction. In actuality, were the
lesson being given to a platoon, company or parade, the word "squad"
would be replaced by the appropriate unit. Thus, these stages, parts,
or movements should not be referred to as "squads".
Execution by firing squad
Organization of Canadian
Army rifle sections during World War II
^ "squad". Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas
Harper, Historian. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/squad (accessed:
September 17, 2017).
^ "Squad/Section". Gruntsmilitary.com. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
Army Chain of Command". Usmilitary.about.com. 2013-07-19.
^ Delf, Stephen Bull; illustrated by Mike Chappell & Brian (2004).
World War II infantry tactics: squad and platoon. Osceola, WI: Osprey.
p. 22-23. ISBN 9781841766621.
^ The German
Squad In Combat. United States War Department, Military
Intelligence Service, December 25, 1943.
^ Mahon 1972, pp. 20 & 56.
^ Mahon 1972, p.38.
^ Mahon 1972, p. 56.
^ Mahon 1972, p.73.
^ Mahon 1972, pp. 72-73
^ Mahon 1972, p. 91
^ Mahon 1972, pp. 102-103, 106.
Army Field Manual, Figure 1-5:
Infantry fire team and Figure
Platoon and Squad" (PDF). Department of the
Army. March 28, 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 2,
2012. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
^ US Army, FM 100-2-3 The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization and
^ 一寸河山一寸血: 淞沪会战 Chinese Program on the Battle of
Shanghai[full citation needed]
^ "Introduction to
Rifle Squad" – via YouTube.
^ a b The Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial. Retrieved 13
June 2010.][dead link]
Mahon, John K.; Danysh, Romana (1972). "
Infantry Part I: Regular Army"
Army Lineage Series. Office of the Chief of Military History.
Archived (PDF) from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 1,
Look up squad in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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