For the majority of modern war (let's arbitrarily say 1914 and onward) what has been the smallest unit of men that could decide a battle, in the majority of battles?
The division? The regiment? The battalion is as far as I'm willing to go down.
>what has been the smallest unit of men that could decide a battle, in the majority of battles?
Not on a grand scale, but yeah.
When we raided one of Saddam's palaces there was zero resistance. We controlled the scene despite it being a battalion operation.
OK, civilian gaiboy? Tell me more about things you don't know about.
>machine gun company
Found the never served child
Also, refer to Audie Murphy, one man defeated a company
"Decide" a battle is very vague. Can they be the only friendly forces present? The only survivors?
Consider LZ xray / Ian Drang valley. A battalion defeated a division.
a day i peak with a men of the french foreign legion. He told than he need two other men and a sufficient supply of ammo to hold a hill as longer as they went...time that aviation does not mingled
Uh, fuck you guy. Both sides contributed to the account as given in we were soldiers once and young.
Audie Murphy has bit of swelling. I've heard everything from 50 to 120 kills from that machine gun, but the important part is that the enemy surrendered to him, an Individual
You can plan a battle from the largest unit to the smallest' actions. If you boil it down it comes to the last 100 yards. If the squad who has that spear point job doesn't have the support that goes all the way back, you won't win battles.
I'd say a platoon, simply because it's pretty much the smallest unit of infantry you're going to task with an objective of serious significance. Though I'd also say that in "modern" warfare, things like armor, artillery, and air support are the key deciding factors in the grand scheme of things. Infantry is really only used to do things that can't easily (or, depending on the situation, feasibly) be accomplished by any of the other assets at your disposal.
So here's the deal and some stuff to think about. Both sides of the battle have an objective to accomplish and in order to accomplish it somewhere in the battle is a decisive point (could be key terrain, a specific action) that would allow the commander to gain a marked advantage over the enemy (point of no return, snowball effect). Often times it will be different for both sides, for one side to turn the tide they may need to gain control of a bridge, for the other side it might be destruction of 2 or 3 enemy vehicles or a key weapon system. Then you look at what is the smallest unit that could conceivably accomplish that task.
Seize key terrain, probably a squad on up.
Destroy a key weapon system or vehicle, could just be an RPG team or a key IED.
Think of it like football
What was the one point in that game that sealed it? What person or people caused that event?
So it could be as simple to identify as a single lucky RPG shot into a helicopter of Navy Seals.