Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

ORBAT - 1980s Canadian BG, Part 1 Task Organisation

The History of Canadian involvement in the post war NATO force in europe is covered in more detail here the key components are as follows:

  • In 1968 the Brigade had mechanised and been renamed 4 Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group (4CMBG).
  • in 1971 it transferred from BAOR in Northern Germany to Lahr in Southern Germany where it would act as a reserve for either III US Corps or II Ge Corps.
  • In 1988 it was incorporated into 1st Canadian Division following the Canadian governments decision to withdraw from the CAST Brigade commitment to Norway. 1st Canadian Division remained the parent formation until the end of the cold war.

Battle group composition is therefore:

  • The early 80s forces will be based on 4 CMBG and potential reinforcements from either of the supported Corps who reinforced the brigade in areas of key equipment shortfalls. 
  • The late 80s force could either be as above or could be based on the composition of 4 CMBG and 1 Canadian division.
  • The 90's force will be based on 4 CMBG as part of 1 Canadian Division.

Throughout the 80s the Canadian land forces in Germany received little in terms of equipment upgrades and were organisationally stable, although some new equipment started to reach them in the early 1990s.  They are therefore quite straight forward to represent across the spectrum of the decade and a half that represents the arms race at the end of the cold war. They are very distinctive with a unique camouflage scheme and their regiments are distinctive with long and glorious fighting histories.  On top of all that they have a great Brigade title and the opportunity to be reinforced from and support two other nations.

4 CMBG was a Mechanised Brigade its Orbat is shown here from the Canadian Soldiers website

In essence 2 Infantry Battalions, an Engineer Regiment, Tank Regiment and Artillery Regiment with an Aviation Recce Squadron.

Higher level task organisation

The Canadians like the British and most NATO forces formed task organised groupings depending on the mission.  The structure of 4 CMBG limited what those groupings could as it deployed 2 Infantry Battalions  and 1 Armoured Regiment.  The Canadians through out the period formed Combat teams of Armour and Infantry at Sub Unit level through cross attaching Troops and Platoons.

The Infantry were provided by:

Each Infantry battalion was scaled for 4 Infantry companies and a Support Company, in the early 80s 1 rifle company was held in Canada, by the late 80's all 4 were deployed. The Support Company provided Mortars, Recce, Anti Tank and Assault Pioneers. They used M113 A1 and A2, M150, and Lynx C&R.

The 4th Canadian Engineer Regiment (4CER) consisted of a field squadron and a support squadron.  The field squadron comprised  4 M113 mounted field troops.  The field troops and sections could be  deployed to battle groups or be deployed on Squadron tasks. 

They used the M113, M113 engineer variant with a dozer, the beaver leopard based AVLB and Lynx C&R along with a variety of other plant in the support squadron.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) provided the Tank Regiment. The Unit consisted of 3 Armoured Squadrons and a Recce Squadron. The Squadrons were very large by comparison to other NATO units consisting of 19 Vehicles, 4 troops of 4 Tanks with 3 in the HQ.  It would donate armoured squadrons or troops and would receive infantry platoons or companies. It operated the Leopard C1 which was an upgraded  Leopard 1 A3 and the Lynx command and reconnaissance Vehicle

The recce squadron would be deployed in support of the brigade providing a formation recce capability in conjunction with the aviation squadron.  I assume the armoured regiment retained at least 1 reconnaissance troop for its own needs but have been unable to confirm this.

1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA) provided the artillery regiment. This consisted of 4 Batteries of 6 M109 and a blowpipe troop.  The regiment like its British counterparts provide 3 FOOs from each battery in support of  the battle groups of the brigade.  It seems likely that the FOOs from the 4th Battery supported the Recce Squadron.  Each Battle Group could also receive a blowpipe section.  The artillery regiment could be augmented by assets from the supported Corps as required, this would normally be in the form of longer range equipments such as the M110.

444 Tactical Helicopter Squadron provided the Canadian component of the aviation assets. The Squadron provided aircraft for command, liaison and recce.  The recce Aircraft tended to work in support of the Brigade Recce Squadron provided by the armoured regiment but could be attached to other Brigade elements.

Typical Battle Groups

In First Clash Kenith Macksey creates three Battle Groups in 4 CMBG, two of them ground holding infantry battle groups and the third composed of 1 Squadron and 2 Platoons but capable because of the strength of the tank Squadron of forming two Combat teams.  This gives a clear indication of an extremely flexible approach to task organising force elements of the anything goes variety.

3 RCR Battle Group

  • 3 Combat Teams each of 1 Rifle Company at full strength with attached support weapons 
  • 1 Rifle Coy (-) 1 Platoon (+) 1 Troop Tanks, in reserve
  • 1 Armd Sqn (-) 1 Troop, Fighting within the main defensive position 
  • 1 Engineer Field Troop
  • 1 Battery of M109
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Mortar Platoon
  • 1 Anti Tank Defence Platoon
  • 1 Recce Platoon

Royal 22e Regiment
  • 3 Combat Teams each 1 Rifle Company at full strength with attached support weapons. 
  • 1Combat Team of 1 Rifle Coy (-) 1 Platoon (+) 1 Troop Tanks, in reserve
  • 1 Armd Sqn (-) 1 Troop, Fighting within the main defensive position 
  • 1 Engineer Field Troop
  • 1 Battery of M109
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Mortar Platoon
  • 1 Anti Tank Defence Platoon
  • 1 Recce Platoon


2 Combat teams each
  • 1 Sqn HQ 2 tanks
  • 2 Troops of Tanks
  • 1 Platoon Infantry
  • 1 TOW Section
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Platoon Mortars
  • 1 Engineer Section
  • 1 Trp Lynx
  • 2 x LOH CH 136
  • 1 Battery RHA
  • 1 ARV 

Its not clear from the reading I have done if these task organised units existed simultaneously or if some assets were regrouped to the RCD as the started their mission such as the mortars.  US Chaparral and Vulcan provided area air defence within the scenario and in addition the brigade were supported by an attack helicopter squadron and a battery of M110, more of that in the next post.

Some of the other battle group options worth considering are
  • R22eR and RCR would each of 3 Companies and 1/2 Squadron, RCD 2 Squadrons 2 Companies 
  •  R22eR and RCR 3 Companies 1 Squadron, RCD 2 Companies 1 Squadron
  • R22eR 4 Companies, RCR 3 Companies 1 Squadron, RCD 2 Squadrons 1 Company
  • Considering the RCD as a covering force with 2 Squadrons 2 Platoons and the Brigade Recce force is also interesting,  
All these options seem to fit within the ways of doing business outlined in First Clash it would be interesting to understand what options were used and under what circumstances.


4CMBG The Canadian Soldiers website
First Clash. Combat Close - Up in World War Three
Canada's NATO Brigade a History


  1. Very cool! I look forward to seeing the infantry.

  2. Well done Andy. This is well laid out

  3. Canada's NATO Brigade; A history, can be found here:


    Well worth the money. It discusses the history of Canada's troops in Europe from 1951 till about 1980. It lists all the Bde CO's and then gets into the different Regiments etc, that served with the Bde in Europe.


  4. Here is another great book. http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-without-Battles-Maloney/dp/0075528924/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357419009&sr=1-7

    Full of "war" stories.