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CEFEO Unit Organisation notes

The aim here is to give a few organisation details for CEFEO units. These are "generic" unless otherwise stated. It should be noted that the battalion was the largest tactical unit in normal use.

"Far East" Pattern Infantry Battalion

Apart from the Moroccan Tabors and Static Battalions, all infantry battalions had a standard paper structure as:
  • 1 HQ and Service Company
  • 4 Rifle Companies, each with CHQ, Support Platoon, plus 3 Rifle Platoons (each of 3 Squads)
  • A motor transport element (providing partial motorisation).
A native auxiliary company was often added to provide a light force adapted to local conditions, plus guides/interpreters.

The H&S Company was allocated four 81mm mortars (though often only two were taken on mobile operations), and later four 57mm recoilless rifles (manned by the pioneer platoon, but often handed down to the rifle companies).

The rifle companies were often re-organised into four platoons in early operations, to provide more flexibility. However, this reduced their combat ability which became a problem later in the war. Platoons were often formed into "fire" and "shock" elements.

The company support platoons had a machine-gun squad and a 60mm mortar squad on paper, but this was often reduced to a single MG and 60mm mortar with large stocks of ammunition (due to personnel shortages).

Throughout the war, the main problem for infantry battalions was one of manpower shortages. Battalions were often at 300-400 men, with companies of 90 men or less.

(A more detailed treatment of infantry in Indochina is in preparation).

Foreign Legion Paratroops

1er Bataillon Étrangers de Parachutistes (1948-55):
  • HQ Company (HQ Platoon and Service element; Support Platoon with 81mm Squad, .30 MG Squad, and 57mm RCL Squad) 
  • 4 Para Companies, each with:
    •  HQ Platoon (60mm mortar squad, .30 MG squad, 1x57mm RCL)
    • 3 Rifle Platoons (HQ Squad, plus 3 Rifle Squads at about 15 men each) 
  • 1er CIPLE (from April 1951 - Vietnamese Coy, as Para Coy. above) 
2e Bataillon Étrangers de Parachutistes (1948-55):
  • As 1er BEP, but with only 3 paratroop companies, and the 2e CIPLE (from April 1951).
Paratroop Battalion 1947
  • 1 Command and Support Coy (1 MG platoon with 2 groups of two .30 MGs, 1 mortar platoon with 3 groups of two 81mm mortars) 
  • 3 Infantry Coys (each with 1 command platoon; 1 group of 2 60mm mortars;3 infantry platoons each with three infantry squads of 13 men each and two LFAC [lance-fusée anti-char i.e. bazookas or 57mm recoilless rifles]

Armoured Unit Organisations in Indochina, 15th February 1946

7/1er RMSM (recce squadron for the armoured group of the 2e DB)
  • HQ Platoon (Services Group; Recovery Platoon) 
  • 3 Combat Platoons, each with 4 M8 Greyhound armoured cars; 4 jeeps; 1 half-track; 1 M8 Howitzer Motor Carriage (75mm) 

1/501e RCC
(tank squadron of the armoured group of the 2e DB)
  • HQ Platoon 
  • Staff Platoon 
  • 3 Tank Platoons, each with 6 M5 (Stuart) Tanks; 1 jeep; 1 mortar
GUAL-BEO (ex-9e Dragons - support unit of the BEO)
  • HQ Platoon and staff 
  • 1 Squadron Vickers HMGs 
  • 1 Squadron 81mm mortars
RICM (Recce Regiment of the 9e RIC)
  • HQ and staff 
  • 1 Light Tank Squadron, with 3 Tank Platoons, each of 5 M5 (Stuart) Tanks 
  • 3 Combat Platoons, each with: 
    • 3 Reconnaissance Squadrons (each with 4 jeeps; 4 M3 White Scout Cars; 1 M8 HMC; 1 M3 Halftrack) 
    • 3 Motorised Squadrons in 2.5 t GMC trucks 
1er Chasseurs (Reconnaissance Regiment of the 3e DIC)
  • HQ Squadron and Staff 
  • 2 Reconnaissance Squadrons, each with 13 Humber Scout Cars and 16 Coventry Armoured Cars (formed into 6 combat platoons). 
5e Cuirassiers (Reconnaissance Regiment of the General Reserve)
  • HQ Squadron and Staff 
  • 4 Reconnaissance Squadrons, each with 13 Humber Scout Cars and 16 Coventry Armoured Cars (formed into 6 combat platoons). 
EAR (Reconnaissance Squadron of the 1er BEO)
  • HQ Platoon 
  • Support Platoon 
  • 3 Reconnaissance Platoons (pick-ups and Bren-Carriers) 
  • Assault Platoon
Commando blindé du Cambodge (Cambodian Armoured Commando)
  • HQ Platoon 
  • 3 Combat Platoons, each with 3 tanks (Japanese) and 2 Chenillettes (Renault UE).

Sous-Groupement Blindé (from late 1953)

The Sous-Groupement Blindé (Armoured Task Force) were an attempt to form armour units with integral infantry to give a balanced force (as armour had hitherto been reliant on infantry support from other units). The paper organisation was:
  • HQ and Service Company (with extra signals equipment to allow control of reinforcing units) 
  • Mortar Platoon 
  • M24 Light Tank Company, with three platoons of 5 tanks each, plus 2 command tanks 
  • 3 Motorised Infantry Companies, each of four platoons, plus one support platoon (2 x .30 MG, 2 x 60mm mortar), carried in 2½ ton trucks 
  • Motorised Infantry Company (as above) in half-tracks
The tank company was actually organised as four platoons of four tanks each, plus only a single command tank.

The infantry company in half-tracks was too heavy and slow to keep up with the tanks, but with the extra firepower provided by the vehicle-mounted MGs they were well suited for road security and escort duties.

Groupement Amphibie (1954)

By trial and error, a task force organisation similar to the armoured one (above) was developed for the amphibious forces. The main vehicles were the light and handy M29 "Crabes" and the heavy LVT "Alligators" carrying infantry, plus support from the LVT(A). The final organisation was:
  • 2 Tactical Command HQ units 
  • 2 "Crabes" Companies, each of 33 M29s organised into three platoons. Each company included 30 light or heavier machine-guns, six 57mm RCL, and three 60mm mortars. 
  • 3 Infantry Companies mounted in "Alligators", each with three combat platoons and one support platoon 
  • 1 Platoon of six LVT(A)s
(More Organisations to follow as time permits!)