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Military Terminology
US Army
US Marine Corps

How many men in a platoon?

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September 13, 2011 2:14AM

A platoon has about 25-35 troops (there isn't really a set number, that's how many you see the most). A platoon sgt. and a platoon CO. There can be 4-6 men in a squad and 2-3 squads in a section and then 3-4 sections in a platoon. Every squad has a squad leader. This is how it is in the Marines.

Typically and ideally, there are 4 per fireteam, 3 fireteams per squad, 3 squads per platoon, add the platoon Sgt, Commander, and the Guide and 3 Squad Leaders and this comes to 42... and I am a Marine. Check your drill manual.

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Never mind the Marines and their overstrength platoons. According to FM 7-8 (Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad), an infantry platoon in Infantry, Air Assault and Airborne divisions consists of:

Platoon Headquarters:

Platoon Leader (lieutenant)

Platoon Sergeant (sergeant first class, usually, and this is aside from the sergeants who command a section, and each fire team of say 4 would be lead by a corporal.

Platoon radioman (probably a specialist or a PFC)

Three rifle squads consisting of nine men each--one squad leader (sergeant), two fire team leaders (corporals), two riflemen, two automatic riflemen and two grenadiers

One weapons squad consisting of a squad leader (sergeant) plus two machinegunners, two assistant machinegunners, two antitank gunners and two assistant antitank gunners.

Total number of troops: 39.

A rifle platoon in a Ranger company contains 40 men--they drop the two antitank crews and replace them with three, three-man machinegun crews--gunner, assistant gunner and ammo bearer.

Army infantry platoons used to be a lot larger--they had 11-man rifle squads with two riflemen, one automatic rifleman and one grenadier plus the fire team leader in each fire team. This changed when the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle came out--it won't hold an 11-man crew, so they had to change infantry doctrine to accommodate the equipment.

Given that, there's not really such a thing as a "standard" platoon outside the combat arms. I've been in 50-soldier platoons. I've been in 15-soldier platoons. It all depends on what unit you're in and how it's structured.