• This is a stand-to for an incoming competition, one of our most expensive yet.
    Later this week we're going to be offering the opportunity to Win £270 Rab Neutrino Pro military down jacket
    Visit the thread at that link above and Watch it to be notified as soon as the competition goes live

Platoon Commanders/Sergeants Battle Course

#1
I am hoping to benefit from the experience of prior PCBC and PSBC attendees. I am due to attend PCBC (TA) in the next few months and would like to be as fully prepared for this course as I can be. To this end I would very much welcome advice and insight to help focus my preparation.

In particular, practical guidance on anything from fieldcraft issues for the plt. cmdr. :) through to the effective management of the assault/fight through will be all respectfully received. On this last point, the fight through always seems to be very rushed on exercise - two sections abreast F&Ming in and all over in three minutes flat, enemy vanquished and back to camp just in time for breakfast. I always find this very unreal as I have read this stage took many hours in the Falklands.

Lastly, I have reviewed the MoD website and was unable to find much in the way of course details. However, I did obtain the following outline of the Warminster-vintage course from a fellow plat comm, although he is unable to say whether or not the Sennybridge course differs in emphasis. As far as people know, is this still the syllabus and if not, how has the emphasis changed? Thank you.

a. Apply combat procedures and techniques.
b. Command a platoon during Other Operational Tasks.
c. Command a platoon during Offensive Operations.
d. Command a platoon during Defensive Operations.
e. Command a platoon during Operations in Special Environments.
f. Administer a platoon.
g. Harbouring.
h. Observation Posts.
i. Ambush and Anti-Ambush Drills.
j. Demolition Guards
k. Field Defences.
l. Artillery Support.
m. Armoured Support.
n. Guarding Key Points.
o. NBC Defence.
p. Fighting in woods and forests.
q. Engineer support.
r. The Night Attack.
s. Signals/Electronic Warfare in the Land Battle.
 
#2
Speak to your PSI.

msr
 
#3
Good advice MSR! Short but perfectly to the point, and very true.

I did the course in 1994 at Warminster so I can't say what's changed since its move. Very little I would imagine, other than the fact that some of the command appointments will be commanding 'real' NCOs on their SCBC rather than fellow toffs.

My advice is to sort out your battle procedure, and in particular, your R and O gp drills before you go. One of the common failings is to concentrate so much on coming up with something under every heading that the content - your plan - is in fact arrse. At pl level it's pretty simple, so long as you can extract orders quickly. You don't need all the nirexes, gadgets etc. to do that. In fact they're a distraction. Do your 7 questions, and think out a plan, then write your orders (if applicable - in QBOs it will mostly be in your head). Don't try to do it in reverse because 'I don't have time'. If time is short, do your 7 Qs to write a list of tasks. That's the majority of your Execution. The rest you can do on the hoof - if needs must - from the TAM.

Say what you're going to say, say it, say what you've said. "in a moment I'll be giving orders for a night attack, which we'll be doing at 0400. Before we go into prelims, here is the task org - 1 sect, Cpl X, C/S 11C, left assault...". This gets people focussed / next, the orders up to the end of Execution / next, the summary of execution / rest of the orders. Keep it simple. If you don't have anything to say under a heading, don't say it. The key is the summary of execution: if your soldiers understand this they understand the orders. Talk through the op logically. If you can, rehearse. Most people will rehearse patrolling drills, but get into the habit of rehearsing whenever you have a moment - even in the assy area. It doesn't matter whether it's the whole platoon practicing marking a coy LD or just a fireteam doing 'sweeps' in FIWAF. Experienced plt cdrs wil tell you this is a key to success.

I'd also know, off by heart, the mechanics and task orgs of various pl ops: the ambush, OBUA offensive, the withdrawal in and out of contact in defence, and FIWAF.

That's all for now. Might be more later.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#5
I did it in Jan '91 - as was said above its probably not changed much since then, and you seem to have covered all the bases. The only thing I would say is: Be Fit. I'm sure I'm speaking to the converted, but if you are blowing out of your arrse you are not going to learn much - and you are not going to impress much (Its up to you, which is more important to you).

Good course!
 
#6
Since the move there are a lot fewer command appointments to go around (it may be possible to do PCTC without being a Pl Comd, if the rank mix was wrong). Certainly less than RMAS. That said, it's the TA SCBC with Pl Sgts and Pl Comds shoehorned in.

Be fit, and be ready to spend most of your time as a rifleman (and the "CFT" is a b*tch). Try and get the Inf Pl Comd inserts for the TAM before hand rather than having to spend evenings on end cutting out the printouts from the electronic battle box and fabloning them (resulting in a bulging 2lb TAM).

EX Shooting Star (the final attack) is pretty awesome though.
 
#7
You will do 3 days in the obua complex starting with attacking it, building defences, then you will do heli moves to a coy quick attack, then a DS led night recce. Defend the village, break down defences, move to trenches, stick out some wire, defend it from jonny G then do a b*stard extraction up a big hill. Then get ready for final attack down into the valley and up the river bed with live OHF and 51mm illum.

Be prepared to stick your thumb squarely up your ar*e when not in command and don't try and take over or chip in when others are in appt.

You'll be lucky to get 1 appt although you will get runner, sig and 51mm too.

Know your stages and principles of OBUA, ambush, attack, defense, recce and adv to contact. Don't worry about FIWAF.

The course has changed immensely over the last few years but it's true its now essentially the old TA SCBC with PSBC and PCBC thrown in for good measure.

Good luck

3V
 
#8
I just wanted to thank everyone for the practical advice delivered so far.

To be honest, I had hoped the course would place more of an emphasis on tactics rather than practising procedures. Maybe the thought is if a PC gets the procedures right the tactics will follow, however if true I think this is a bit arse about face (however, I am still learning and this view may change!)

One particular beef is that the common or garden platoon quick attacks seem to conducted with undue haste in my battalion. The training major emphasing speed of response which, while important, takes precidence over conducting the recce and looking at the possibilities offered by the ground. There never seems to be enough time - as I am sure in battle, everyone would move a lot more cautiously. I am always much more comfortable conducting a platoon deliberate attack, where I can work things through in logical stages and brief people (often with the aid of a sketch map generated on my CTR).

As I mentioned in my original post the assault forward of the FAP/FUP is a concern if I have ever to do this for real. Two sections F&Ming forward may be fine when there is 100-150 metres to the obj. I was heavily criticised on one attack where we had to cover 400 metres of open ground on the final assault. I chose to bound one section F&M forward 100 metres which I moved with. After covering us forward I called up the second assault section. This I figured was a realistic response, giving plenty of covering fire while at the same time allowing sections to rest, between bounds (which was a realistic consideration as we are TA and not the 3rd Fantasian Shock Army!). I continued bounding each section forward like until about 150 metres from the objective, were I was able to actually locate the exercise enemy trenches and able to nominate trenches to each section. Then I had one section deal with a single trench to gain a foothold and to cover the move forward of the second section. This all took about 7 or 8 minutes as no one was firing live rounds at us. However, at the debriefing the reg. major had a go saying that we were too slow and that both sections should have gone in together. You will not be surpised when I say all my subsequent attacks went in two sections on line together, however, if it was real I would stick to my method. Any comments or disagreements you have will be respectfully received.
 
#9
Do not do this, no matter who you think you are, or else you are liable to be filled in by someone, you jack w@nker:

[align=center]Be prepared to stick your thumb squarely up your ar*e when not in command[/align]
Turn up with 3 big rolls of fablon, a laminating machine with about 200 sheets, be fit enough to run the ICFT and fight at the end of it. Don't worry about lack of knowledge, it is an educational course. Don't be afraid to ask blokes on PSBC to help you, they've done the course before and will probably have operational experience too. ALWAYS try and assist those in command appointments. But most of all, have a laugh and enjoy it, its a good course.
 
#10
JacketsOfGreen said:
Turn up with 3 big rolls of fablon, a laminating machine with about 200 sheets, be fit enough to run the ICFT and fight at the end of it. Don't worry about lack of knowledge, it is an educational course. Don't be afraid to ask blokes on PSBC to help you, they've done the course before and will probably have operational experience too. ALWAYS try and assist those in command appointments. But most of all, have a laugh and enjoy it, its a good course.
That's darned good advice. Even better, get your Sennybridge maps from your TAC and fablon them beforehand. That's another hour or so you can spend on your night attack orders.
 
#12
toadinthehole said:
I was heavily criticised on one attack where we had to cover 400 metres of open ground on the final assault.
When I went through PCD they were still re-fighting Tumbledown and Longdon so the DS solution to every attack, no matter how far the objective, was to wear out The Queen's belt buckles. If you watch the post Falklands vid that I think is still doing the rounds, you'll see what I mean.

That said, I was fortunate enough to have an ex-Aussie SAS captain called 'Mad Dog' as syndicate DS. He had seen action in Vietnam and Africa so was able to bring a bit more balance to the table. Among his retinue of throwaway remarks -- like "Gentlemen, if you think you're going to survive the next war [pre-Soviet breakup] you're on f*cking drugs" -- was a casual calculation he had arrived at himself namely his blokes tended to move at about 150m/minute when anticipating contact and 15m/minute when under effective enemy fire. Make of that what you will, it worked for him.

One matter that gripped my poo many years later when teaching platoon level tactics was the blithe twittery with which the students treated the subject of indirect fire support. In the end, the decision is yours but here are a few points to consider:

1. Preparatory barrage. The number of students who thought they were Earl Haig was astounding. At your level of command and the present level of funding you will probably get ten rounds and two of those will be on loan only. That doth not a barrage make so don't call it unless you really need it. All it will achieve is to remove the element of surprise.

2. Safety distances. They still apply in war -- albeit reduced -- because shrapnel doesn't know the difference between you and the enemy. If you use ind fire sp preemptorily, you will have to reckon on crossing the last 150m or so under fire whereas you might have gotten a bit closer by being quiet.

3. Accuracy. At the risk of annoying the Tube and Nail brotherhood, they can't guarantee hitting your objective first time and may take several vital seconds to adjust. 90% of casualties are inflicted in the first 30 seconds of any mortar stonk after which you are just keeping their heads down.

So what can you use it for?
You would get marks for telling your FOO to mark likely enemy FUPs, depth positions or escape routes as DFs. Whilst you are re-orging you might need to cover yourself from en interference or break up a counter-attack. And lastly, as Mad Dog made sure we understood, mortar smoke rounds can help you to extricate your blokes from an en killing area whilst you re-think your shoite plan.

Hope this helps,
Sticky :D
 
#13
Did the new ta PCTC last september, with regards to preparation not much is needed as a lot of time is spent on revision. However from what i can remember course content is as follows

Arrive on Sun- Lec on BG, comprising elements and how they move over ground tactically. meet your section and section clr sgt DS
Mon-7 q's estimate revision, kit issue ( sect kit, ie. first aid kits, etc), section and pl battle drills revision. beer
Tue- Out on area, in 4-ton, follow your map as your driving as when you debus they will ask you to show ds individually where you are on map. first grp bollocking as loads didnt know. Watch demo gurka sect attack, went off with sect ds for sect attack skills lesson, then with pl comd ds for pl battle skills lesson, back to camp, evening o's lesson. beer
Weds-back out, three pl attacks one with casualty evac up him, good fun day. Back to camp, prep in evening write o's homework. beer
Thurs - Fri Chinook out to area, pl attacks, into a barn, o's for a night raid, did it, back in, sleep till morning, then cft, which was fine if a bit cheeky up the windy hill from bottom of x-range. Back camp, post -ex admin, then lash on at sarah siddens in brecon
Sat - Course disposal, however prep kit for ex
Sun- early leave for training area, into celini village for fibua lessons, bus to another area for o's for fibua attack
Mon- dawn attack, then pl's given areas of reponsibility to defend in village, rest of day is defence building. Night time op's out,
Tues- Johnny gurka take out a pl location, so coy counter attack plan kicks in, more fibua. Afterrnoon, move out to field defence area
Weds- Can't remember
Thurs- Field defence withdrawal thanks to the gurkhas, 4km forced march to an area for admin then heli-bedford to a farmhouse for admin prior to final attack. Night final attack down on of ranges with live gpmg overhead, finish, back to celini for sleep then clear up
Fri-finish admin, then back into camp for admin, course interviews and more lash.
Sat-leave

Note, this is rough outline, however one bit of advice take a shedload of fablon, and sense of humour as some people on course are lacking the skills and knowledge it's a wonder how they passed cic!

Good Luck
 
#14
Did the new ta PCTC last september, with regards to preparation not much is needed as a lot of time is spent on revision. However from what i can remember course content is as follows

Arrive on Sun- Lec on BG, comprising elements and how they move over ground tactically. meet your section and section clr sgt DS
Mon-7 q's estimate revision, kit issue ( sect kit, ie. first aid kits, etc), section and pl battle drills revision. beer
Tue- Out on area, in 4-ton, follow your map as your driving as when you debus they will ask you to show ds individually where you are on map. first grp bollocking as loads didnt know. Watch demo gurka sect attack, went off with sect ds for sect attack skills lesson, then with pl comd ds for pl battle skills lesson, back to camp, evening o's lesson. beer
Weds-back out, three pl attacks one with casualty evac up him, good fun day. Back to camp, prep in evening write o's homework. beer
Thurs - Fri Chinook out to area, pl attacks, into a barn, o's for a night raid, did it, back in, sleep till morning, then cft, which was fine if a bit cheeky up the windy hill from bottom of x-range. Back camp, post -ex admin, then lash on at sarah siddens in brecon
Sat - Course disposal, however prep kit for ex
Sun- early leave for training area, into celini village for fibua lessons, bus to another area for o's for fibua attack
Mon- dawn attack, then pl's given areas of reponsibility to defend in village, rest of day is defence building. Night time op's out,
Tues- Johnny gurka take out a pl location, so coy counter attack plan kicks in, more fibua. Afterrnoon, move out to field defence area
Weds- Can't remember
Thurs- Field defence withdrawal thanks to the gurkhas, 4km forced march to an area for admin then heli-bedford to a farmhouse for admin prior to final attack. Night final attack down on of ranges with live gpmg overhead, finish, back to celini for sleep then clear up
Fri-finish admin, then back into camp for admin, course interviews and more lash.
Sat-leave

Note, this is rough outline, however one bit of advice take a shedload of fablon, and sense of humour as some people on course are lacking the skills and knowledge it's a wonder how they passed cic!

Good Luck
 
#15
Ref use of mortars vs surprise, and also nicely taking in the Falklands example: Wireless Ridge vs Longdon: 'mallet the f~ckers and send the boys in' vs 'silent attack'. The 'silent' part stopped a km away when someone trod on a mine and the mountain opened up. The two coys up attack went to ratshoite, one of the coys lost three platoon commanders (incl Sgt McKay VC) and virtually a whole platoon. Contrast Wireless - two mortar platoons, NGS and a 105 Bty. V few cas and taken in half the time.

As a platoon commander, no, you won't have all of these assets, but if YOU are on the main effort, the coy's assets - mor or OS - WILL be allocated to your part of the coy's msn. How likely is that? Actually, very. So plan to use it, plus 51s and GPMG for crossing the final 200m or so.

Safety distances are 700m when not bedded in or at a silently marked tgt, 400m when tgts are 'predicted' using POLAR msns (officially, as in practice it's as accurate as at a tgt prevously fired) and 250/300 (depends on charge and range) when fired. However that's a guide, and also, when firing, as long as an MFC can see a round land, it doesn't matter where he calls it in. He can build in a correction so it's away away from you and then creep it back to where the en is. So even if you're within the safety distance for a stonk on a positon that is an unfired tgt it often won't matter as the MFC will do the 'dangerous bit' (to you) so it's away from you at first.

What often comes out, even at BG level, is ignorance about basics about mor and OS. Many a time in a previous life as a Mor Offr I had to inform a CO that, no, we couldn't support that attack in the way he wanted because his plan didn't allow for anything more than silently marked DFs and the time frame wouldn't allow for any adjustment. Mostly it was 'oh well stabtastic, it's only an exercise'. Fine, but expect your OCs to carry on making shoite plans that get their boys killed then... (I never said that, obviously, I'm still in after all) F~cking stabs (ha ha!)
 
#16
"Tues- Johnny gurka take out a pl location, so coy counter attack plan kicks in, more fibua. Afterrnoon, move out to field defence area
Weds- Can't remember"

Didn't this happen on Wednesday, and Tuesday was offensive operations mounted out of Celini?
 
#17
"Tues- Johnny gurka take out a pl location, so coy counter attack plan kicks in, more fibua. Afterrnoon, move out to field defence area
Weds- Can't remember"

Didn't this happen on Wednesday, and Tuesday was offensive operations mounted out of Celini?

Reference your last Sapukay, you are absolutely right, am going off to have a quiet word with myself now.
 
#18
Also just wanted to add that there were two females on the brecon pctc course last september, what gives?! Any opinions on this please gentlemen?
 
#19
Both were OTC, a PQO 2Lt from CUOTC and a TA Cpl attached to another one who was going for a commission this year and was "doing it for the experience". She won best section commander. Both had good skills and drills.

Ref your last. I only remembered because I only spent one night in that ****ing trench.
 
#20
stabtastic said:
Many a time in a previous life as a Mor Offr I had to inform a CO that, no, we couldn't support that attack in the way he wanted because his plan didn't allow for anything more than silently marked DFs and the time frame wouldn't allow for any adjustment. Mostly it was 'oh well stabtastic, it's only an exercise'
I have never seen a mortar shoot in my life, but what follows are some pretty basic questions that have occurred to me. If mortar fires are to be used for suppression rather than destruction (which everyone tells me they are), then there are some major gaps in my knowledge of how to best coordinate this fire with my manoeuvre. I have not heard these points discussed with any authority in prior training and am somewhat surprised as this must be the lowest level of combined arms there is.

1. On average, how fast can a 81mm mortar put down a round in the general area in response to a request for fire from an MFC?

2. With an *average* 81mm crew and *average* MFC, how long does the bracket/ adjustment process take?

3. I believe an 81mm mortar bomb has three different fuse settings - delay, surface burst and airburst. From hearsay I understand the type of setting will affect how close you can get to the detonation - the rumour is infantry can get much closer to a bomb/shell with a delay fuse than to a surface burst or airburst. However, I have not seen these fuse-related variables mentioned in the manuals. If true, how do you *request* a delay fuse that will allow you to get as close as possible to the burst and how close is close?

4. What fuse setting does the 250m safety distance refer to - delay, surface or airburst?

5. I would think infantry would be able to get much closer to White Phosphorus rounds (I assume less aggressively propelled chunks of casing), but again I have seen no figures and have no first hand experience to allow comparison with HE.

6. A realistic expectation or a pipe dream - would first line mortar ammo scales (and the CO) permit five or (preferably) ten minutes of HE fire from a couple of tubes to provide suppression to support manoeuvre by the lead platoon commander ? Is the platoon commander briefed beforehand as to what he can expect in terms of duration of mortar support, or is he left to find out the hard way that he has used up his allocation half-way through his move?

7. What is ‘dolly mixture’ and what is it used for? - I believe it is a White Phos bomb fired after each HE bomb.

8. Last round - obviously I would want to get my guys assaulting as soon as the last mor. round has landed. However, I am also sure I would hang around staring at the sky waiting to ensure the last round really was the last round - obviously a delay an enemy could use. Does the MFC know when the last round is about to land and is it usual practise for him to inform the plat. cmdr - ie. “last round lands in ten seconds”? If this ideal is too difficult to be realistic in the field, is it possible to request the last round/last three rounds of the shoot to be smoke or WP to provide some unmistakable indication for me to get moving?

9. Related to the last question, would it be a good idea to make it plain to the MFC that he is coming with plt. hq. on the flanking attack. This may help concentrate his mind and thus improve the synchronization of the final moments of mortar fire with the manoeuvre? I have put this as politely as I am able.

10. Can you get closer to mortar fire when the tubes are firing from a flank, rather than overhead ?

Should I have joined the RA ? :)
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
BBear The Training Wing 7
Boxy Army Reserve 14
A Infantry 17

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top