Organisation and Grouping
As a member of a section, you form part of a much larger grouping structure. The section being the smallest tactical formation that is able to operate independently, and it is the grouping that you, as a cadet, will find yourself in. In this lesson, I will teach the structure of a section, the roles and responsibilities of each person in it, and how that section fits into the larger formation, called a platoon. There will be a short knowledge check at the end to make sure you have fully understand the topic.
To be effective as a fighting unit, a section consists of eight people, armed with rifles. Depending on the task allocated, the section may be equipped with other weapons such as light machine guns for a higher rate of suppressing fire (but not currently issued to the Cadet forces). Out of these eight people, there are six cadets and two NCOs; one Corporal and one Lance Corporal. The Corporal is in charge of the section, known as the Section Commander or IC (In Command) and they are assisted by a Lance Corporal or 2IC (Second In Command). The remainder are cadet members of the section, sometimes referred to as riflemen. Let’s look at each of their roles:
- Hold the rank of Corporal (although can be higher or lower)
- Responsible for the overall command of the section
- Ensuring all section tasks are conducted efficiently
- Also take command of Charlie fire team when the task requires
- Make sure they know the strengths and weaknesses of each section member, providing support and mentoring when required, and ensuring the section is well trained and rehearsed
- Be responsible for the administration of the section, including their weapons and personal equipment
- Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene in the section, both in camp and in the field
- Ensure a duty rota is created and adhered to
Second in Command
- Hold the rank of Lance Corporal (although can be higher or a cadet)
- Responsible for assisting the IC with the command of the section
- Take command of Delta fire team when required
- Look after the admin of the section when the IC is otherwise engaged
- Typically hold the rank of cadet, but may also be a junior NCO
- Carry out all tasks required as best as you can
- Make sure you maintain a high level of cleanliness of your weapon, equipment, uniform and yourself
- Ensure you operate to the highest level of professionalism in your weapon handling and fieldcraft
- Report any problems to the 2IC as soon as you can
While we established that a section was “the smallest tactical formation that can operate effectively” – that’s not quite true. A more accurate definition would be that they are “the smallest tactical formation available to a commander for planning purposes.” A section can be further broken down into groups known as fire teams. These smaller teams are normally used to work closely with each other, for example one providing protection while the other moves to assault a position. They are called Charlie and Delta fire teams, and as mentioned above in the responsibilities section, the Section Commander takes the lead with Charlie fire team and the 2IC commands Delta.
Fire teams do not always have to be evenly split into 4:4. A more realistic breakdown or grouping would be 3:5, with three people including the section IC in an assault team, and the remaining five providing fire support to protect the assault team while they move. A breakdown of 2:6 is also possible. This local formation is the decision of the Section Commander.
A platoon is the next tactical formation above a section, and essentially consists of 3 sections. In addition, there is a headquarters element, or Platoon HQ. In the HQ are four additional people:
- Platoon Commander (abbreviated to Pl Cdr) – Typically a position held by a junior officer, also known as a subaltern. They are the only person within the platoon to hold a commission. Section commanders and 2ICs being non-commissioned officers (NCOs).
- Platoon Sergeant (abbreviated to Pl Sgt) – Unsurprisingly the Pl Sgt holds a rank of sergeant. Their role is similar to the 2IC of a section, but in this case they assist the Pl Cdr with the administration of the platoon, and in some instances take command in the Pl Cdr’s absence.
- Signaller – A cadet or NCO with a technical expertise in communications equipment and voice procedure. They are responsible for receiving orders from higher formations and passing them to the Pl Cdr, and also for passing on messages from the Pl Cdr.
- Runner – A runner may not always be required, so may not be a permanent position. They are to assist the radio operator, and in the event the Pl Cdr requires messages to be passed around the platoon, the runner will be nominated. They all also help the Pl Cdr with their personal admin when the Pl Cdr has other duties.
Here is a representation of how a platoon would look in the field. Each section operates independently, often keeping a distance between themselves. The HQ element remains separate, and in the middle to aide in easy communication and administration.
Just as at section level, where the Section Commander was responsible for the operation and conduct of the section, in the case of the platoon, the Platoon Commander provides leadership in how the platoon will operate and in insuring all tasks are carried out effectively and as they have been ordered, with the Section Commanders reporting to the Platoon Commander. This is known as the Chain of Command (CoC).
A breakdown of the Platoon Headquarters responsibilities is:
- Hold the rank of Lieutenant (Lt) of Second Lieutenant (2Lt) – Normally undertaken by a CFAV Officer, but senior cadets often get the opportunity to act as Pl Cdr
- Responsible for the overall command of the platoon
- Ensuring all platoon tasks are conducted efficiently
- Be knowledgable in platoon level tactics in order to lead a platoon in the field and guide their training while in camp
- Maintain a high level of morale and discipline in the platoon
- Ensure they know each member of their platoon, from the Section Commanders to the newest cadet, and be sympathetic to their needs
- Be responsible for the health and wellbeing of the cadets in the platoon, making sure work and rest periods are observed
- Carry out regular inspections to check the state of platoon equipment, the cleanliness of weapons and personal hygiene
- Hold the rank of Sergeant (Sgt) (although can be higher or lower depending on experience)
- Assist the Pl Cdr with the running of the platoon, in particular administration as well as maintaining morale and discipline
- Organise the collection and distribution of platoon supplies, such as water, food and ammunition
- Ensure platoon duties are planned and maintained
- Handle casualties and ensure they are treated and evacuated
As a member of a section you are responsible for ensuring you maintain a high standard of conduct at all times, ensuring your personal admin and the cleanliness of your rifle and equipment is a priority.
You also need to know where you fit into the section and platoon structure. You will be a member of a section, and also in a fire team. Your section will also be placed into a platoon. Be aware who is above you, and each side of you in this structure. You will also need to know what the route for any questions you have is; normally to the 2IC, then the IC who will raise it with the Platoon HQ if appropriate.
As someone in command, get to know your section and platoon, you will most likely live and work with them in camp and in the field. Know their strengths, and weakness, and help resolve any problems before they get in the way of normal operation.
Now, let’s check your knowledge and see how you get on!