Battalion Tactical Group
The battalion tactical group [batalonnaya takticheskaya gruppa] is a temporary formation for solving certain operational tasks. The BTG is a reinforced battalion that has all the necessary reinforcements. Each BTG consists of 700-800 people, and some - of 900. Each brigade and regiment, as a rule, includes two such battalion groups. The battalion tactical group is a temporary unit. It is created for combat. The BTG is created around a motorized rifle or tank battalion by subordinating to it artillery, anti-aircraft, engineering and other special units necessary to carry out the assigned combat mission. It includes a motorized infantry company(s), 2-4 tanks, units with ATGMs, mortars, reconnaissance, engineering and rear groups. It can be covered by fire support helicopters, divisional artillery and a platoon of anti-aircraft guns.
In order to adjust the state of the Russian army, restore its combat effectiveness and adapt to the Russian state system in the new era, the Russian army has carried out several military reforms. The latest military reform was completed by the current Minister of Defense Shoigu. According to Shoigu's military reform ideas, the Russian army gave up the bloated system of forming large-scale troops in the past, and turned to a more elite "Battalion Tactical Group" direction improvement. The new type of Russian army established according to this idea, the battle is completely centered on the Battalion Tactical Group. In this way, the flexibility of the Russian army has been greatly increased, and the command level has also been improved.
But the problem that comes with it is that often a tactical combined battalion needs to cooperate with a large number of services and arms to fight, and it is difficult for officers at the battalion commander level to coordinate clearly, so there are higher-level officers commanding several tactical combined battalions, even in the case of commanding a Battalion Tactical Group. This made these senior Russian military officers have to go to the front line and command the battle.
For example, Major General Andrei Sukhovitsky and Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, who were killed in Mmarch 2022, were killed by Ukrainian snipers when they were on the front line to command the battle. Therefore, this war also reminded the Russian military and the world military community that even in modern warfare, the security awareness of senior officers should not be slack. So this is the real reason for the continuous death of Russian generals. The senior generals went to the front line to work as battalion commanders. On the one hand, it was an actual combat test of the Russian military reform, and on the other hand, it also exposed the problems of the Russian military reform. The mere loss of a few generals does not mean that the Ukrainian army has won or the Russian army has lost. It depends on the final result of the war between Russia and Ukraine, or whether the Russian army can completely eliminate the main force of the Ukrainian army in the Eastern Ukrainian area, or whether the Ukrainian army can finally withstand the Russian army's attack and force the Russian army to retreat.
Such BTGs are formed in advance, in peacetime. They are fully staffed with military and military equipment and personnel, and most importantly, the positions of soldiers and sergeants are occupied by military personnel of the CONTRACT service. There are no "conscripts" in such BTGs. It is possible to put into battle the BTG of immediate use in just a few hours, including abroad.
They have in their composition from a company of soldiers, tanks, mortars and an artillery battery. Additionally, air formations, special forces groups and other units can be attached, allowing them to perform the assigned combat missions. Specific weapons may be issued (for example, VSS "Vintorez") to achieve existing goals.
The composition of the battalion tactical group formed in the motorized rifle brigade consista of: command and staff; motorized rifle battalion; two tank companies; howitzer self-propelled artillery battalion; reactive artillery battery of a reactive artillery battalion; an ATGM platoon of an anti-tank artillery battalion; artillery reconnaissance department of the control battery and artillery reconnaissance (chief of artillery); control and radar reconnaissance platoon of the head of the air defense brigade; anti-aircraft missile battery of the anti-aircraft missile division; anti-aircraft missile platoon of MANPADS of an anti-aircraft division; reconnaissance company, two short-range UAV crews of the reconnaissance battalion; a sniper platoon of a sniper company; engineer platoon, obstacle platoon, heavy mechanized bridge section of the engineer battalion; flamethrower platoon of the RCB protection company; EW maneuvering group of the EW company; communications battalion communications company; the commandant's platoon of the commandant's company, an evacuation platoon (armored vehicles) of the repair and restoration battalion, two automobile platoons (carriage of ammunition and fuel) of the material support battalion; evacuation department of the medical company.
Such a unit is responsible for the area up to 10 km deep. For the period of conducting a defensive battle, a combat position of 5-8 km in size along the front and up to 5 km in depth can be assigned. According to rough estimates, the range of advance of Russian battalion groups is 250 km. a larger scale operation by the RF Armed Forces cannot be done without large-scale logistical preparation. The BTG significantly increased the level of autonomy of the unit and provided greater freedom of choice for the command staff (the positions of battalion commanders are often occupied by officers in the ranks of major and lieutenant colonel). The widespread use of battalion tactical groups led to a reduction in "command and intermediary links between the group headquarters and the actually fighting tactical units.
There were 144 battalion tactical groups (BTG) of immediate use in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation as of December 2020. There are 168 battalion-tactical groups in the Russian Armed Forces, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on 10 August 2021 at the Territory of Meanings youth educational forum. “Today we don’t have someone to collect, find, we have everything in constant readiness. We have such a formation - battalion tactical groups. These are the ones who pressed the button, and they are ready to leave the gate in an hour. We have 168 of these today and this is a very high figure,” Shoigu said.
"The minister spoke about groups of immediate use, which are fully staffed and do not have conscripts. In modern conditions, they must be formed in advance, they are unified in composition and means of reinforcement. It is difficult to call them created for a specific task, but this is a universal working tool ", which can be involved immediately. Is it a lot or a little? This number corresponds to the possibilities of our budget, primarily in terms of staffing. The number of contract soldiers - soldiers and sergeants should in the future increase to 500 thousand people, which will also increase the number combat-ready groups," military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, retired colonel, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, said in an interview with a Profile correspondent.
Regiments and brigades have a permanent organizational structure, which is convenient for daily activities, combat training, logistics, etc. However, in combat and operations, they do not use organizational structures, but create a battle formation aimed at fulfilling current combat missions, for example: forward detachment, first echelon, second echelon, anti-tank reserve, etc. An exhaustive description of the elements of the order of battle in various types of combat is given in the Battle Manuals.
The tactical group of the battalion is a novelty in military affairs. Something similar happened before, but in the form it is now, it took shape relatively recently - during the conflict with Ukraine, which had been going on since 2014. The first examples of the use of armored personnel carriers date back to the period of World War II, and later this structure was actively used in the armed forces of the United States and other NATO countries. In the Russian army, the widespread use of armored personnel carriers began during the Chechen conflicts and, then, during the five-day "war of 888" with Georgia. The key advantage of the BTGr is the ability to organize the interaction of heterogeneous units - tank, motorized rifle, artillery, etc. - without spending time on combat coordination, since the interaction has already been worked out in the exercises.
The formation of the BTG in the RF Armed Forces began under Anatoly Serdyukov, who served as Minister of Defense in 2007-2012, and is remembered for the massive introduction of Western experience. It was he who initiated the transition to the brigade system. Serdyukov frantically "shrank" - to create brigades. Instead of enlarging regiments, he cut divisions, which, of course, earned not the best reputation among the troops. When Sergei Shoigu settled on Frunzenskaya Embankment, the reverse process began, during which the artificially and clumsily fragmented army units were enlarged.
The battalion tactical groups, as well as the reconnaissance and strike model of operations, is built on the close interaction of unmanned aerial vehicles with fire weapons, which increases the speed of fire support for individual formations. What has unfolded now can be described as a siege war. The most striking example is the strike of the Russian army units on the Ukrainian city of Zelenopolye, carried out on July 11, 2014. In it, the cumulative effect was ensured through the use of drones and a battalion tactical group, a special formed unit designed to provide tactical superiority over the enemy using conventional firepower.
This operation was conceived and executed as a pre-emptive strike against the Ukrainian brigades that were deployed in the assembly area and were preparing to launch a counteroffensive against the Russian armed forces. At the same time, drones always flew before artillery and missile strikes. As a result of active actions, the Ukrainian side lost thirty people, several hundred wounded. Two battalions of equipment were destroyed. After that, this combat unit entrenched itself on the battlefields.
Ilovaisk can be considered as the next situation. This city is located on a highway of strategic importance, which connected the advanced units on the Ukrainian front with Russia. Then the task was to clean it up to ensure supply routes. To accomplish this goal, numerous battalion tactical groups were formed and transferred from the Southern Military District. These forces surrounded the Ukrainian city along with the troops stationed in them. Many soldiers then reported that they always heard the buzz of drones before active operations. A real massacre was staged in Ilovaisk: over a thousand Ukrainian soldiers died. It feels like no one taught anyone not to trust the enemy. This bloody episode put an end to hopes for a quick solution to the conflict. But it also anchored battalion tactical teams on the modern battlefield.
BTGs were typically effective in combat operations in Ukraine from 2013-2015, but on several occasions, BTGs were tactically defeated by Ukrainian regular-army units despite Russian overmatch in firepower, electronic warfare (EW) and air-defense artillery (ADA).
Battalion-tactical groups were rated as effective, albeit very subtle tools. In the framework of the Ukrainian-Russian war of the twenty-first century, they have shown themselves to be units with operational flexibility. This led the General Staff to decide to increase their number to 125 units by the end of 2018. Moreover, priority was given to formation on a contract basis.
It is planned that the conscripted personnel will be involved in rear formations. This will make it possible to quickly and efficiently respond to all emerging threats (for example, one hundred to two hundred thousand Chinese suddenly decide to cross the country's border) and take the necessary decisions to eliminate them.
The number of battalion tactical groups (BTGs), fully staffed by contract soldiers, in the Russian Armed Forces will increase from 66 to 125 in two years, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov told reporters. "Contract soldiers significantly increase the combat capability of units and military units. In our districts, including the Southern Military District, battalion tactical groups have been created, which are fully staffed by contract servicemen. Now there are 66 such BTGs, by the end of 2016 there will be 96, in the next a year - 115, and a year later - 125," Gerasimov said 14 September 2016.
Units of the battalion tactical group of the motorized rifle unit of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District (SMD), deployed in North Ossetia in December 2018, marched to the Tarskoye combined arms training ground and began to carry out live firing as part of squads. More than 800 servicemen of the formation are involved in the development of tactical tasks, about 300 units of military and special equipment are involved.
The battalion tactical group began training according to the new methodology. Its feature is accelerated training and passing of input, intermediate and output control. During the exercise, the level of professional training of officers and the professional skills of the personnel of the group in all subjects of combat training will be assessed. All classes are held under the supervision of a special commission of the headquarters of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District, which will give a final assessment of the units.
At the range, servicemen of motorized rifle and tank units will solve a number of tasks in organizing and conducting combat training operations with the implementation of exercises for training firing from the armament of T-90 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles BMP-3, automatic and manual grenade launchers AGS-17 and RPG-7V, as well as small arms. All battalion tactical groups of formations of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District would undergo a full course of combat training according to the new methodology for three months at various training grounds of the Southern Military District in shifts. All tactical groups will work out the alert, march, live firing, driving military equipment and pass the standards for combat and special training.
The battalion tactical group of the motorized rifle division of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District (SMD) destroyed a mock enemy in the mountains of the Caucasus Range in North Ossetia using a reconnaissance and fire complex (ROK) in January 2021. A reconnaissance and fire complex is a set of reconnaissance, control and fire weapons (cannon artillery, medium-caliber rocket artillery) created to perform a specific task in real time with high efficiency.
During the exercise, the battalion tactical group of the military formation was tasked with detecting and destroying a mock enemy using ROK. The drone crews conducted reconnaissance and discovered a mock enemy. According to the plan of the exercise, the enemy made a forced march through the pass in the area of Mount Stolovaya with a subsequent advance in the direction of the village. Tarsk.
After detecting and receiving a command to destroy the mock enemy, artillerymen and motorized riflemen fired at the mock enemy from the armament of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, Msta-S self-propelled artillery mounts, as well as from small arms. To designate a ground enemy, smoke shells from mortar batteries were used, and for an air enemy, light shells from two Msta-S crews were used. “These exercises are carried out in military formations to coordinate all types of units into a single “fist”. It is believed that artillery is the god of war, but without high-quality reconnaissance and fire cover, it can do little, ”explained Major Sergei Tikhonov, commander of the howitzer division. More than 800 military personnel of the Southern Military District took part in the exercise, about 100 units of military equipment were involved.
American military experts on Russia at the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), Fort Leavenworth, KS, believed that BTGs were an intermediate construct, temporarily employed to push modernization into Russia’s current force, and that at the end of the modernization program, the Russian Army will return to a divisional structure with fully manned, equipped and deployable brigades – especially if faced with a peer competitor such as the United States. There are, however, several reasons to predict that the return to a divisional structure could be several years away. In the meantime, the BTG may remain Russia’s deployable organization of choice.