Combat command

Combat command

A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1963. The structure of combat commands was task-organized and so the forces assigned to a combat command often varied from mission to mission.

The concept of the combat command was developed by General Adna Chaffee during the 1930s. Chaffee's concept envisaged combined arms mechanized units with no formal structure. When the first U.S. armored divisions were organized a few years later, Chaffee's concepts for the combat command were incorporated into the divisional structure.[1]

The combat command was a flexible organization that did not have dedicated battalions. Instead, tank, armored infantry, and armored field artillery battalions, as well as smaller units of tank destroyers, engineers, and mechanized cavalry were assigned as needed in order to accomplish any given mission.[2] During a U.S. Army reorganization in the 1960s, the term combat command fell out of favor and was replaced by the designation brigade.

While flexible, this task-force organization lacked the high cohesion characteristic of traditional regiments that always kept the same group of battalions together. The organization of the combat command contrasted with that of the infantry, who employed reinforced infantry regiments with permanently assigned infantry battalions. This type of infantry organization was called a Regimental combat team.

Use of combat commands was first specified in Armored Force Tentative Table of Organization A, for armored divisions, dated December 22, 1941. The initial organization envisioned two combat command headquarters at the disposal of the armored division. The combat command headquarters themselves were small, fielding only five light tanks and 56 men. Revisions to this structure in 1943 resulted in a headquarters of 3 light tanks and 99 men. The 1943 structure also allowed for three combat command headquarters in an armored division.

Within the armored division, the combat commands were named "A", "B", and later, "R" (for Reserve).[3] Thus, historical accounts of U.S. armored divisions of this period refer to "Combat Command B" or "CCB" and so forth. During the latter stages of World War II in Europe, armored divisions tended to fight with CCA and CCB, while moving worn-out battalions into CCR for rest and refit.[4] In 1954, CCR was redesignated "Combat Command C" (CCC).

The combat command proved to be the forerunner of modern U.S. Army organizational structure for divisions. In the early 1960s, divisions were restructured as part of the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD), in which all divisions, including infantry, were organized with three brigades which also did not have dedicated battalions and could be assigned as many battalions as needed for a mission. With the transition to ROAD divisions, the term combat command was no longer employed by the U.S. Army.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Coffey, p. 42.
  2. ^ McGrath, pp. 48-49.
  3. ^ "While still at Camp Cooke the division also started developing the combat command type of tactical headquarters. CC A was first commanded by Brig. Gen. Wood and later, by Brig. Gen. Harold W. Blakely, CC B's first commander was Brig. Gen. Serene E. Brett. CC A's tactical units included: the 34th Armored Regiment, 71st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and the 1st Battalion of the 46th Armored Infantry Regiment. CC B's organization consisted of: the 81st Armored Regiment, 47th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and the 2nd Battalion of the 46th. The remainder of the units formed what was known as the Division Reserve.", Paths_of_Armor, p. 8.
  4. ^ Not all armored divisions followed this practice; some used CCR as an operational combat element of the division as well, such as the 7th Armored Division's use of CCR during the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket. As well, 5th Armored Division used CCR as a combat element during the entire campaign in northwestern Europe. See Paths_of_Armor for details, particularly the biography section for Colonel Glen H. Anderson, the CCR commander.

Article Sources

  • Rod Coffey, "DOCTRINAL ORPHAN OR ACTIVE PARTNER? A HISTORY OF U.S. ARMY MECHANIZED INFANTRY DOCTRINE", U.S. Army Command and General Staff College thesis, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2000.
  • John J. McGrath, "The Brigade: A History, Its Organization and Employment in the US Army", Combat Studies Institute Press, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2004.
  • Revised Tables of Organization Armored Force 1 January 1942 (U.S. Army)
  • Armored Division Tables of Organization, 15 September 1943 (U.S. Army)
  • Discussion of U.S. Army divisional organizations
  • Paths of Armor

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