A Combined Anti-Armor Team is a concept of operations in the United States Marine Corps where a platoon in a weapons company is employed to combat armored vehicles with heavy machine guns and TOW missiles, in addition to providing security for convoys. CAAT platoons are one form of employment for heavy weapons in an infantry unit.
A CAAT platoon is composed of machine gunners and anti-tank missilemen. They team up to provide the combined arms power of the M2 Browning .50 caliber heavy machine gun, Mk 19 40MM automatic grenade launcher, M-240G medium machine gun, and the TOW missile system either from vehicles or from a ground position.
Basic operations against armored vehicles
In its most basic role, a CAAT platoon and its various sections and teams will engage armored vehicles (tanks, APCs, etc.) first with heavy machine guns, usually the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. This is to "button up" the vehicle, or have the vehicle operators close all the hatches in order to protect themselves from the incoming rounds. When the target is effectively buttoned up, the TOW missile operator will fire a TOW missile, which, upon impact, will cause a dramatic increase in pressure in the closed target vehicle (such as a tank), causing it to explode from the overpressure, eliminating the enemy.
Due to their vehicle-borne nature, CAAT platoon will provide scouting capabilities during movements. They will traditionally take the lead for a movement of vehicles for security reasons, and therefore also taking responsibility for navigation and orientation. In addition, CAAT vehicles will be the last vehicles in the convoy (the rear, or "tail end charlie") for protection and get visual identitification on any oncoming vehicles from behind. If necessary, other CAAT vehicles can scout parallel routes or forward positions as necessary.
Organization of a CAAT platoon
A CAAT platoon will be divided into 2 or 3 sections, and each section will have an odd number of teams. Each section will be headed by a staff NCO, and the remaining pairs of vehicles will have NCOs in charge (personnel permitting). The billets (or jobs) in a vehicle can include:
- Vehicle Commander (VC) - The vehicle commander makes all decisions regarding the vehicle and its inhabitants. The VC will usually be on the radio (or other communications device, i.e., laptop) and communicate directly with other vehicles. Exceptions to this rule are officers who usually have another Marine use the radio.
- Driver - The driver not only drives the vehicle but is responsible for its entire upkeep and maintenance. The driver coordinates with the motor pool and its Marines to ensure timely repairs and maintenance. In addition, during ship-borne deployment, the driver is responsible whenever the vehicle must be moved. During missions, the driver takes cues from the VC as to where to go and how to get there.
- Gunner - The gunner maintains and operates the gun, and also provides a view to the VC from atop the vehicle. The gunner is quite visible in the turret of the vehicle, and so he can also be a communicator to any people outside the vehicle.
- Corpsman - The platoon's Corpsman is a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman with additional field medical training. The corpsman takes a full part in operations with the rest of the team, but also provides medical assistance and coverage when necessary.
- Scout - The scout is responsible for anything that needs to be done outside of the vehicle such as obtaining visual information that is not possible from the vehicle's point of view. This billet may be combined with any of the other billets, except usually not for the VC or the driver.
- Ammo man - The Ammo man is another combined billet. When the gunner is using the gun, someone may be responsible for taking old ammo and providing the gunner with live ammo (missiles or rounds). This provides the gunner with an effective rate of fire.
- Guy in back (GIB) - Not a billet, but a name for any other military personnel in the back of the vehicle.
The CAAT teams will usually be paired up as one heavy machine gun and one TOW truck. This allows the combined arms effect that is most effective on an armored vehicle. Usually the section heads (the odd vehicle of the paired teams) have an Mk 19, while the other teams have a .50 cal, M-240G, or a TOW missile. In addition, the section heads usually travel with a team (making three vehicles), so as to not be left alone.
- 3/3's CAAT platoon, deployed to Afghanistan as of late 2007
- CAAT Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks.
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