BAOR Organisation 1977-82

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Sapukay, Nov 10, 2005.

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  1. Gentleman and Ladies,

    I've recently came across the "Task Force" organisation that was in effect 77-82, but some information I have is contrary.

    My info was there were 4 Armoured Divisions (1st - 4th) each with 2 Battlegroups/ Task Forces with an Engineer Rgt (-), Type A Armoured Recce Regiment, 2 Type 74 Armoured Regiments and 3 Mech Infantry Battalion, plus a DAG with 3-4 Regiments (2 of Close Support Arty, each 5 Btys of Abbot, and 2 of General Support with 155mm of M109, M110 or FH-70 type (4 Btys ea.), and a Regiment of 36x Swingfire posts (on FV438 or Striker))

    There were 4 Field Forces in support (5th-8th), with a similar organisation to a Task Force, and the Artillery Division.

    Is this correct?
  2. I was in 5th Field Force ij BAOR at the time. Basicaly it was a brigade without a Bde HQ, well that is the way the CO described it to me. He also stated it was a crap idea and the sooner it was dumped the better.

    Whwn the concept was finally dumped I remember one commentator trying to explain exactly what the Field Forces were and why they were being dumped. he said something like:

    "Well as a concept they were not really understood by the rest of NATO, but more importantly the British Army could not understand what they were supposed to be for".

    I think they were a cash saving experiment that failed.
  3. Each Task Force was given a letter (Eg. Task Force Echo) and was supposed to be a bigger, 'meaner' self contained Brigade type unit, hence having two in a Division rather than 3. The problem was that they had to fight 1 up with one in reserve (as you ALWAYS have a reserve) rather than the 2 up and one in reserve of the 3 Bde per Div system. This meant that about half your fighting forces were held in reserve...... it didn't work and we went back to Brigades and the system that (funnily enough) we had been using since before the 2WW....'cos it worked!

    At least that was my view of the whole 'experiment'!
  4. The origina was a wizard wheeze to cut out the Brigade level of command and administration, at a stroke rendering the British Army lean mean moibile - and errr cheaper ;)

    The idea was to go from three large Divisions each with C 6-9 major units in two brigades with Brigde level and Divisional level administration to smaller divisions with C. 5 major units each drawing supplies from a divisional base. Task forces were supposed to be lean and mean tactical commands only - I think the original idea was that they would be Colonels rather than Brigadiers. There was a lot orf muttering about modern technology being able to challange traditional conventions aobut spans of command.

    It didn't work for the reasons explained by plant pilot. In any mobilisation or TA augmentation the lean and mean division might also have to administer a field farce as well as a bunch of buckshee TA battalions and the Task farces and Feidl Farces were renamed Brigades in 1981.

    ex TF D (?) or it was C I can never remember which and 7 FF.
  5. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    In late 1977 3 Armd Div deployed from UKLF to BAOR, bringing the BAOR OrBat up to four armoured divisions. (I have seen references to Field Forces at the start of this time - 5FF and 8FF spring to mind) but they didn't leave a mark on my memory and without reference I can only ever remember the divisional system.

    As has been stated elsewhere in this thread (I agree with just about everything said here), the new divisional OrBat comprised two Task Forces. Each was of Brigade size but with a severely reduced HQ and administrative tail to try and increase the ratio of teeth arm to REMFs. We, a Divisional Recce Regiment, were co-located with the HQ & Signals Troop of Task Force Echo in 3 Armd Div. On Ex Spearpoint in 1980, at that time "the biggest deployment of tanks anywhere in the world since D-Day," 3 Armd Div did not deploy. Since 3 Armd Div's role was entirely separate from the rest of BAOR, we did not exercise: the entire Division deployed as umpires. By assigning every unit in 3 Armd Div to umpire a unit at the next level, there were exactly the right number of umpires to go round. For example, Command Troop 15/19H went up a level to umpire a Task Force HQ: TF Hotel of 4 Armd Div as it happened.

    Thinking about this: two task forces per division. TF Echo in 3 Armd Div, TF Hotel in 4 Arms Div: how does that work? Let's try this TF Alpha and Bravo to 1 Armd Div; Charlie and Delta to 2 Armd Div; Echo and Foxtrot to 3 Armd Div; Golf and Hotel to 4 Armd Div. Wahay! It fits. So I have always presumed that was how the task forces were distributed. I stand ready to be proved wrong.

    The original poster (OP) mentions battlegroups in the same breath as task forces. They were not the same. Battlegroup was another formal term and meant something entirely different. By definition a battlegroup was a combat formation of mixed combat units and support / admin based on the HQ of a divisional major unit. The OP's divisional OrBat for a BAOR Armd Div of the period is as I remember it, so a division would comprise six battlegroups based upon the Command Troops of the Recce Regt, two Armoured Regts and 3 mechanised batallions. In theory the size of each battlegroup was flexible, but in practice each battlegroup ended up being about one regiment or batallion in strength.

    Battlegroups comprised not squadrons or companies but combat teams. The combat team concept was the same as that of the battlegroup but based on squadron / company HQ.

    How the divisions broke down in practice was that the five armour and infantry BGs would swap sqns / coys as required and take a share of the artillery / engineer / etc pool. The sixth BG was about recce. The Type A Recce Regt comprised two medium recce sabre squadrons and one close recce sabre squadron. Upon deployment, Recce HQ retained control of the divisional medium recce and might take an infantry or armour unit if the immediate situation demanded, though often not. The two medium recce squadrons - er combat teams - formed a recce screen along the Forward Leading-edge of Own Troops (FLOT) across the divisional front, forward of the Forward Edge of the Battle Area (FEBA), either in front of the lead Task Force or one in front of each leading Brigade. The recce troops' only company at the FLOT were engineers executing primary demolitions and preparing reserve demolitions. The significant attachment to the recce battlegroup was a troop of Royal Horse Artillery Swingfires on Strikers. Regardless of the brigade / task force system in use, the recce role remained constant throughout the period.

    The close recce squadron (five troops of eight Scimitars (yes it was a HUGE squadron)) deployed one troop per battlegroup and was entirely beyond the reach of the recce regt CO. These troops spent more time with their allocated BG than with their own regiment.

    Upon return to a brigade system, the Task Force HQ and Signals Troops were enlarged back to a strength better able to control a brigade and the troops became squadrons.

    It's nice to know that by the late 1970s the Army had decided to adopt a flexible method of operating in battlegroups in a similar manner to the Wehrmacht in the 1940s (though rather more formally like the septic system in operation at the time of the Ardennes Offensive, where mixed formations within the division were designated IIRC Regimental Combat Teams A & B - and R in Reserve).

    Hope this helps.
  6. The problem with this is that by swapping troops and platoons you ended up with combat teams with tiny proportions of infantry or armour lacking the ability to work effectively as either, particularly after losses or mechanical breakdown.

    The Company/Squadron Group seemed a more sinsible application of concentration of force.
  7. I was in an FOO party during this time with 55bty/49 Fld Regt RA at Hohne and we could be attached to several different Armoured and Infantry units depending on what the task was, it wasnt unusual to be moved from a close recce unit one minute to an infantry unit the next in the same day/night as soon as the task they had been given was complete.
  8. Everyone's recollection of this is different but I can certainly remember working in the Combat Team and Battle Group formations and my recollection is that a combat team was a simple and effective force with a sqn or coy HQ and the full range of IKTUGWEFA services. Multiple combat teams made up the battle group and each could be deployed as a miniature task force however the actual 'task force' which each battle group was a component of was made up of a reinforced brigade and was designed to emulate the Soviet method of mass deployment. It was tactics of the time and wasn't really that different from anything used before or since. We certainly did not reorganise outside our brigade commands, for example on Ex-Spearpoint we were with 7 Bde.
  9. 3 div did deploy on crusader and spearpoint,i was with them ,but we were not tactical,whay about task force foxtrot,that was 3 adsr
  10. I've since done quite a bit of research, and pieced the orbat together.

    While 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armoured Divisions had 6 regular battlegroups, 1st Armoured had 8 regular battlegroups. Each Division had ~4 additional battlegroups from the TA. The battlegroups were all square (4 Coy/ Sqn).

    The question is, why did the 1st Division have 2 addition BG? Was 2 RTR in the tank role or was it Corps Recce?

    A Field Force was essentially identical to a Task Force, and at full strength (reg and TA) had 6 Battlegroups (1 Recce, 5 Infantry, although 8th Field Force had a Armoured BG).

    I wonder how you'd fight with 2 TF. In the 80's we had 2 FEBA Divisions (1st and 4th) and a rather weak reserve Division (3rd). In the 70's we had 4 balanced Armoured Divisions and 2 Field Forces in reserve. I can almost imagine fighting the BAOR as a 2 Corps organisation (each 2 Armoured Div with a Field Force in reserve, while 6th and 8th FF provided strategic reserve)
  11. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    3 Div deployed as umpires on Spearpoint, which is why you (and we) were not tactical. We also deployed a week earlier than everybody else, on Ex Javelin, which was a sort of TEWT to practise for the logistical nightmare that was to be trying to umpire Spearpoint.

    There being no troops to umpire, we worked from pink scripts. In practising for the Reforger drop (see my previous post), one umpire's pink instructed him to send a NODUFF message reporting that a helicopter had crashed, in order to see how people reacted to the exercise grinding to a halt for a real emergency (NODUFF was an archaeic signals term derived from No DF - No direction finding - meaning that this was a real, urgent message and not cheat by tracking my signal).

    This guy reported a helicopter had gone down at a given grid. The whole world started to react. Nobody could find a wrecked helicopter. He was asked to verify the grid. He did. After a couple of hours, large numbers of senior officers were getting very irate at this man's incompetence, since he swore the grid was right but there was nothing there. Could he not read a map? Was he 100 Km out in his grid reference (where a six figure grid repeats)?

    Eventually they worked out that it was only an EXERCISE NODUFF, not a real NODUFF and he was pretending that a real helicopter had crashed. He had been doing exactly what was on the script but nowhere was it made clear to the brass that people weren't really lying bleeding in a mangled heap.
  12. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I was recce at the time (15/19H). I don't remember 2RTR also being recce. ISTR the other 3 recce regts were 16/5L, 9/12L and 1 RTR but I am open to correction.
  13. Upon return to a brigade system, the Task Force HQ and Signals Troops were enlarged back to a strength better able to control a brigade and the troops became squadrons.

    May I first congratulate AlienFTM on an excellent cartoon and choice of colours ! And an excellent post on the subject of the Task Forces - I never did understand the concept myself !

    I was in one of the Task Force Signal Troops (TFE) in Paderborn and therefore in the same barracks as AlienFTM - even if I did arrive the day we changed into a Squadron (we later became 202 (33 Armd Bde) Sig Sqn).

    One point - I can't recall any significant increase in equipment or personnel as we changed from a Troop to a Squadron, UNLESS it had already happened before I joined in November 1979.

    Other than the abuse I used to get from his Regiment for being a Scaley and NOT having joined my local regiment (thanks lads !) I pretty much enjoyed my time in Paderborn.

  14. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Cheers mate. since you recognise the apparent TLA that is FTM, I presume that you too are one of God's chosen (to have a laugh at at the moment. Grr). I was never aware of the Scaleys taking on any more kit, so no, mate.

    Yes, Allanbrooke was a very civilised place to live and work.
  15. Cheers mate. since you recognise the apparent TLA that is FTM, I presume that you too are one of God's chosen (to have a laugh at at the moment. Grr). I was never aware of the Scaleys taking on any more kit, so no, mate.

    Yes, Allanbrooke was a very civilised place to live and work.[/quote]

    Yes I am indeed "One of Gods Chosen" 1 - the pain, humiliation and general misery knows no bounds at the moment !

    With reference to the whole Farce that was the Task Force saga, and the Recce units of the time, I found on another website an orbat for BAOR in mid-1980 that may help but has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    It gives the Recce units in mid-1980 as being;

    1 Div 16/5 L
    2 Div QRIH
    3 Div 15/19H
    4 Div 4/7 DG

    Same site lists the Task Forces as being A-H numbered sequentially for the Divs, ie 1 Div TFA / B, 2 Div TFC / D etc

    However I don't think it's without errors as they list TFE at the time as being RSDG / 1 RHF and 1 WFR, with TFF being 3 RTR and 1 BW.

    I have a problem with tihis because a) when we (TFE) changed to 33 Armd Bde the Black Watch were definitely one of the Batle Groups (I know 'cos I ended up attached to them for 2 years) AND b) this suggest TFF had only 2 Battle Groups. Now while I think I may have seen this somewhere else it still appears odd.

    Maybe AlienFTM can shed a little light on this ?

    If anyone cares to look it up you can find it here;