Section (military unit)

Section (military unit)

A section is a small infantry unit first introduced in the British Army. A section generally consists of about seven or eight soldiers, with a junior-NCO as commander. The equivalent of a section in many other armies is a squad, and the US Army uses the two terms almost interchangeably. Within the infantry section, soldiers carry rifles, light machine guns, and grenade launchers. In most militaries, three or four infantry sections make a platoon.

British Army

The British Army section now consists of eight soldiers made up of a Corporal as section commander, a Lance-Corporal as his second-in-command ("2IC") and six privates. Three sections together form a platoon. In conventional warfare, the section is split into two four-man fireteams ("Charlie" and "Delta"), commanded by the corporal and lance-corporal respectively.

Prior to the introduction of 5.56 mm calibre squad automatic weapons (SAWs) in the late 1980s, the typical section was armed with and organized around the 7.62 mm L7 GPMG (general purpose machine gun). The section was typically divided into 3 "groups": a scout group, a rifle group and a gun group.The scout group comprised two men with rifles and/or submachine guns, who usually moved with the section commander (the corporal) close behind. In effect, the section commander was the third man in the scout group. The rifle group comprised 3-4 riflemen, and perhaps a grenade launcher (such as the M79 or M203). The last group was the gun group. This was commanded by the section 2ic (the lance corporal), and the gunner was usually the second most senior private; the most senior private would lead the rifle group.

All section tactics were basically designed to bring the gun to bear on the enemy and support the gun. The gun would be deployed on the highest ground, with the best field of fire. The rest of the section carried ammunition for the gun. It was claimed that, in sections organised in this way, the gun provided 80 per cent of the section's firepower.

This organization was abandoned in favour of fireteams when 5.56 mm assault rifles and SAWs were introduced in the late 1980s. These were the L85 IW and the longer-barrelled L86 LSW ("Light support weapon"). The firepower of the team has now been extended by the L108A1 LMG. The LSW is now seen as a more accurate version of the IW and the LMG is the belt fed weapon for laying down suppressing fire. Each fire team has two IW, one with an underslung grenade launcher, one LSW and one LMG.

An infantry section now consists of:

*Charlie Fireteam:
**Corporal (in command of section and Charlie fireteam) equipped with SA80A2
**Rifleman equipped with light support weapon (LSW, version of the SA80, usually given to the best shot)
**Rifleman equipped with SA80 with underslung grenade launcher
**Rifleman equipped with Minimi LMG

*Delta Fireteam:
**Lance Corporal (second in command of section and in command of Delta fireteam, responsible for administration of the section, ammunition and its conservation, rotas for sentry duty, etc)
**Rifleman equipped with LSW
**Rifleman equipped with SA80 with underslung grenade launcher
**Rifleman equipped with Minimi LMG

As well as this, most infantrymen are equipped with a LAW, smoke and HE grenades.

Canadian Forces

The Canadian Forces Land Force Command also uses the section, which is roughly the same as its British counterpart, except that it is led by a sergeant, with a master corporal as second-in-command. The section is further divided into "assault groups", which are equivalent to the British fireteams (4 soldiers). They are designated Assault Group 1 and Assault Group 2. Assault groups are broken down to even smaller "fireteams", consisting of normally 2 soldiers, possibly 3, designated Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. Alpha and Bravo make up Assault Group 1 and Charlie and Delta make up Assault Group 2.

The section commander will have overall control of the section, and is assigned to Assault Group 1, Alpha Team. His 2IC will be in command of Assault Group 2, and is assigned to Delta team.

In a normal rifle section, the focus is around the pair of C9 LMGs that are carried by Bravo and Delta teams, one in each team. This results in a formation of Bravo, Alpha, Charlie, Delta, with Bravo and Delta providing fire support with the C9s, Alpha as the command element and Charlie as the assault team.

French Army

In the French Army, a section is the name given to an infantry platoon (a cavalery platoon is called a "peloton". The equivalent for the British Army section is called a Combat Group.

ingapore Army

Singapore Army's infantry section consists of 7 men led by a Third Sergeant and assisted by a Corporal as 2IC. The section is divided into one 3-man "group", which includes the section commander. There are two other 2-man groups. The weapons carried include 2 light anti-tank weapons, 2 section automatic weapons (SAW), and two grenade launchers.

United States Army

A section in the US Cavalry is roughly equivalent to an infantry squad in the United States Army. Some corps, such as Air Defense Artillery and Field Artillery, use the term "section" to denote a squad-sized unit in which the fire teams may act independently of each other in the larger platoon formation. The section is used as an administrative formation overseen by a Staff Sergeant.


In some air forces, a section is also a unit containing two or three aircraft, commanded by a Lieutenant. In the "Luftwaffe" in the Second World War, this would have been called a "rotte", while the Red Air Force would have called it a "zveno" or "para". Two sections and supporting ground staff make up a flight, known as a "staffel" in the "Luftwaffe".

A section is also the name for a shift or team of police officers in various police forces, particularly in the Commonwealth. The term is no longer used in the British police, in which it originated and where it was the group of officers headed by a Sergeant.

ee also

*Infantry Minor Tactics

External links

* [ article on the history of the Infantry Section.]

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