In military terminology, a squad is a sub-subunit led by a non-commissioned officer that is subordinate to an infantry platoon. In countries following the British Army tradition (Australian Army, Canadian Army, and others), this organization is referred to as a section. In most armies, a squad consists of eight to fourteen soldiers, and may be further subdivided into fireteams.
Standard NATO symbol – squad (7 or 8 – 12 soldiers) – in NATO armed forces:
- two single dots (●● squad in general); respectively
- a lying rectangle with two dots above (squad as single sub-unit) on military maps
Historically, a "squad" in the US Army was a sub-unit of a section, consisting of from as few as two soldiers to as many as 12, and was primarily used for drill purposes, the smallest tactical sub-unit being the section, which was also known as a half-platoon (the platoon itself being a half company). Depending upon the time period, the squad "leader" could be a sergeant (in sections with only one corporal, who led the second squad), a corporal, or even a "senior" private. In 1891, the US Army officially defined a rifle "squad" as consisting of "seven privates and one corporal."
In the United States Army, a squad is composed of two fireteams of four soldiers each, as well as a squad leader who is a Staff Sergeant. A Military Police squad is composed of three teams of three. In the United States Marine Corps, a rifle squad is typically composed of three fireteams of four Marines and a squad leader who is typically a Sergeant or Corporal. Other types of USMC infantry squads include: machinegun (7.62mm), heavy machinegun (.50 cal. and 40mm), LWCMS mortar (60-mm), 81-mm mortar, assault weapon (SMAW), antiarmor (Javelin missile), and anti-tank (TOW Missile). These squads range from as few as four Marines to as many as seven, depending upon the weapon system with which the squad is equipped. Squads are also used in reconnaissance, light armored reconnaissance (scout dismounts), combat engineer, law enforcement (i.e., military police), Marine Security Force Regiment (MSFR), and Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) companies. In the US Air Force Security Forces a squad is made up of three fire teams of four members each led by a Senior Airman or Staff Sergeant and either a Staff Sergeant or Tech Sergeant squad leader.
In the Soviet Armed Forces a motorised rifle squad was mounted in either a BTR armoured personnel carrier or BMP infantry fighting vehicle, with the former being more numerous by the late 1980s. BTR rifle squads consisted of a Squad Leader/BTR Commander, Senior Rifleman/Assistant Squad Leader, a Machine Gunner armed with an RPK-74, a Grenadier armed with an RPG-7, a Rifleman/Assistant Grenadier, a Rifleman/Medic, a Rifleman, a BTR Driver/Mechanic and a BTR Machine Gunner. BMP rifle squads consisted of a Squad Leader/BMP Commander, Assistant Squad Leader/BMP Gunner, a BMP Driver/Mechanic, a Machine Gunner armed with an RPK-74, a Grenadier armed with an RPG-7, a Rifleman/Assistant Grenadier, a Rifleman/Medic, a Senior Rifleman and a Rifleman all armed with AKMs or AK-74s. Within a platoon the Rifleman in one of the squads was armed with an SVD sniper rifle. In both BTR and BMP squads the vehicle's gunner and driver stayed with the vehicle while the rest of the squad dismounted.
Fire Service in the United States
A squad is a term used in the US Fire and EMS services to describe several types of units and/or emergency apparatus. Oftentimes, the names "Squad" and "Rescue Squad" are used interchangeably, however the function of the squad is different from department to department. In some departments, a "Squad" and a "Rescue" are two distinct units. This is the case in New York City, where the FDNY operates seven squads. These special "enhanced" engine companies perform both "truck" and "engine" company tasks, as well as Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) mitigation and other specialty rescue functions. FDNY's five "Rescue" companies primarily mitigate technical and heavy rescue incidents, and operate as a pure special rescue unit. Squads and Rescues within the FDNY are part of the departments Specialty Operations Command (SOC).
In other departments, a squad is a name given to a type of apparatus that delivers Emergency Medical Services, and is staffed by firefighter/EMT's or firefighter/paramedics. This type of service delivery is common in the greater Los Angeles area of California, and was made famous in the 1970s show Emergency!, where the fictional Squad 51 highlighted the lives of two firefighter/paramedics of the LACoFD.
Chinese National Revolutionary Army to 1949
The squad, 班, or section was the basic unit of the National Revolutionary Army (the Republic of China), and would usually be 14 men strong. An infantry squad from an elite German-trained division would ideally have one light machine gun and 10 rifles, but only one of the three squads in a non-elite Central Army division would have a light machine gun. Furthermore, the regular provincial army divisions had no machine guns at all.
A squad is led by an NCO known as a Squad Leader. His/her second in command is known as an Assistant Squad Leader. In Britain and in the Commonwealth, these appointments are known as Section Commander and Section 2IC ("second in command"), respectively.
In the military, a squad leader is a non-commissioned officer who leads a squad of typically 9 soldiers (US Army: squad leader and two fireteams of 4 men each) or 13 Marines (US Marine Corps: squad leader and three fireteams of 4 men each) in a rifle squad, or 3 to 8 men in a crew-served weapons squad. In the United States Army the TO&E rank of a rifle squad leader is staff sergeant (E-6, or OR-6) and in the United States Marine Corps the TO rank is sergeant (E-5, or OR-5), though a corporal may also act as a squad leader in the absence of sufficient numbers of sergeants. Squad leaders of crew-served weapons squads range from corporal through staff sergeant, depending upon the branch of service and type of squad. In some armies, notably those of the British Commonwealth, in which the term section is used for units of this size, the NCO in charge, which in the British Army and Royal Marines is normally a Corporal (OR-4), is termed a section commander.
Typical ranks for squad leaders are:
- Australian Army: Corporal
- Austrian Army: Wachtmeister
- Brazilian Army: In the Brazilian Army, a Grupo de Combate is a platoon subdivision and is commanded by a third sergeant, as in a U.S. Army squad.
- British Army: Corporal
- Canadian Army (Armée canadienne): Sergeant or Master Corporal
- Croatian Army: Sergeant (desetnik) or Staff sergeant (narednik)
- Danish Army: Sergeant
- Estonian Defence Forces: Seersant (reserve unit) or Nooremveebel (professional unit)
- Finnish Army: Alikersantti or Kersantti (Corporal or Sergeant)
- German Army: Feldwebel or Oberfeldwebel (previously Unteroffizier / Unterfeldwebel; until 1945 Obergefreiter in the Wehrmacht or SS-Rottenführer in the Waffen-SS)
- Israel Defense Forces: Sergeant (Samál) or Staff Sergeant (Samár)
- Norwegian Army: Sergeant (NOC is corporal and leads the light machine gun fire team of the squad).
- Portuguese Army: the esquadra (squad) is led by a cabo (corporal).
- Royal Netherlands Army: sergeant
- Royal Netherlands Marines: Corporal
- Russian Army: Junior Sergeant or Sergeant
- Spanish Army (pelotón): Cabo 1º, Sargento
- Swedish Army: Sergeant, First Sergeant
- Swiss Army: Wachtmeister (before 2004: Korporal)
- Turkish Army: Çavuş
- U.S. Army: Staff Sergeant or Sergeant
- U.S. Marine Corps: Sergeant or Corporal
Other military uses
A squad can also be an ad hoc group of soldiers assigned to a task, for example, a firing squad.
The Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial defines a squad as "a small military formation of less than platoon size which is adopted to teach drill movements. (escouade)" However, the Manual provides direction for drill movements to be taught in "movements," "parts," or "stages." The format of the commands in the manual has given rise to a prevalent belief in the CF that these stages are called "squads". This groupthink has such strength that phrases such as "for ease of learning, this movement is broken down into 'squads'", are commonly used during periods of drill instruction. In actuality, were the lesson being given to a platoon, company or parade, the word "squad" would be replaced by the appropriate unit. Thus, these stages, parts, or movements should not be referred to as "squads".
- Death squad
- Execution by firing squad
- Military organizations
- Military science
- Organization of Canadian Army rifle sections during World War II
- "Squad/Section". Gruntsmilitary.com. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "US Army Chain of Command". Usmilitary.about.com. 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- US Army, FM 100-2-3 The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization and Equipment, 4-3
- 一寸河山一寸血: 淞沪会战 Chinese Program on the Battle of Shanghai[full citation needed]
- The Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial. Retrieved 13 June 2010.[dead link]
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