Understanding Why a Ground Combat Vehicle That Carries Nine Dismounts Is Important to the Army

Bruce Heldm Mark A. Lorell, James T. Quinlivan, Chad C. Serena

The Army has examined the lessons of half a dozen significant conflicts, starting with World War II, has conducted numerous studies over the last 65 years, and has found time and again that an ability to conduct dismounted fire and maneuver is the fundamental squad-level tactic. It has also consistently determined that squads should be organized around two fire teams and should contain no fewer than nine soldiers — though a larger number has usually been preferred — to accomplish fire and maneuver doctrine, but also for reasons of squad resilience, lethality, and leader span of control. To support fully enabled mechanized infantry squads, the Army has, for the last fifty years, tried to develop and field survivable, lethal infantry fighting vehicles that are also capable of carrying a full nine to eleven man squad that can dismount to fight on foot. The Army has not been able to do this for a variety of reasons, and its current infantry fighting vehicle, the M2 Bradley, cannot carry enough soldiers to enable squad-level fire and maneuver from a single vehicle. As a result, today's mechanized infantry are more at risk when transitioning from mounted to dismounted operations, and squad-level dismounted fire and maneuver is compromised in some situations. The Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), if developed as planned, will finally provide the infantry with an IFV that can accommodate a full squad. For this reason, the Army considers the program to be one of its most important.