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Thread: Re-structuring the BCT

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Default Re-structuring the BCT

    I believe this may have been addressed before and if so I apologize. This topic is of great interest to me so I have continued to study it. It's my understanding that the HBCT has three major flaws: 1) two Combined Arms Battalions instead of 3-4, 2) an under armored RSTA squadron, and 3) the belief that the RSTA squadron may serve as a third maneuver element.

    I have two questions for the members with the experience with armored warfare and the HBCT. 1) Is the current structure of the HBCT sufficient for offensive operations such as what the 3ID did in the run up to Baghdad during OIF? 2) Are the criticisms of the HBCT and the IBCT based on a lack of performance during stability ops or the current structures are ill suited for offensive ops? I seemed to have the same question twice - It seems to me the major critisms of the BCT have more to do with a structure that is performing stability ops and not offensive ops or maybe it makes no difference. Thanks.

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    This article was written shortly after the modular organizations were introduced http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-135843315.html

    Based on the size of the BCT staff, I agree with the author- we should have gone for BIG (4 maneuver BN) BCTs, with comparably increased enabling/combat support assets, commanded by BG. The staff already in place can handle it. During my last rotation, my BCT had 1 BN detached, but recieved the attachment of 3 additional BNs, plus operated dispersed across Iraq. The only addition to the staff would be an aide for the CG.

    When modularity was first announced, I thought that we were going to increase the HQs while we fought for an end-strength increase, then use that increase to put the third maneuver BN back in each BCT- unfortunately, we used the 30000 strength increase to build more BCTs, instead.

    Finally, I'm not a heavy guy, but I don't think that the ARS (its not technically a RSTA) is underarmored for recon work. I think that M3s are plenty. It is anemic, with only 6 platoons. It should have at least 3 platoons per troop, if not 4 (I'd personally trade larger platoons, with a strong dismounted capability, for more smaller platoons). I certain situations (specifically enemy and terrain) tanks might be nice, but in another, infantry might be useful. Task organization of a tank or mech company is the solution, not building a bloated organization permanently, unless you know you will fight it. The ACR and the DIV CAV SQDN were appropriate to the Fulda Gap fight, but not everywhere.

    THere's been plenty of discussions on this site regarding the employment of recon and cavalry units. It should be a pretty easy search.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    What's the current organisation of a U.S. Army brigade combat team (is it still being called unit of action?)?

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response 82redleg. I have already the article - found it a couple of weeks ago - interesting and seems to be direction the army should go.

    Fuchs: The U.S. Army is calling the Unit of Action either a Heavy BCT, Infantry BCT or Stryker BCT. The HBCT is commanded by a Colonel, has two Combined Arms Battalions (2/M1, 2/M2 companies each), one RSTA squadron, a fires battalion (2/SP155mm Paladin battety), a Brigade Support Battalion, and a Brigade Troops Battalion. The IBCT has the same structure, but with two infantry battalions. The SBCT has three maneuver battalions and it's structure is a little different. If you go to Wikipedia - Transformation of the U.S. Army you will find a write-up on the BCT.

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    Mixed battalions in garrison - interesting. It has been tried many times and cancelled almost as often. I assume we'll have a well-founded understanding of their performance about five years after the formations returned to normal peacetime duty (after OEF/ISAF).

    - - - - -

    I think of brigades more in a mobile warfare environment than in an occupation environment. Surely a Bde HQ can handle less maneuver elements in mobile warfare than when sitting in the same place for months.

    An important constant (or variable?) is the maximum size of a directly (first hand, in person, on the spot) controllable combat team (Kampfgruppe as envisaged in the first Bundeswehr Heer structure).
    This seems to have been about 2-3 battalions historically. Battalions may be the wrong unit of measurement, though - it may be better to measure this in vehicle count (less motorcycles without sidecars) or road march length of the combat team.
    Anyway; German division leaders were apparently unable to control much more than two or three battalions as vanguard during an advance.
    We might have increased this limit with BFT and similar equipment, but then again management on LCD screens is not direct control (and leadership, especially inspiration!!!) of units and the further increased dispersion of troops was a powerful trend for decades.

    So far, I assume that a combat team should be no larger than three battalions. That's two battalions infantry & armour plus a mix of many smaller support units (mortars, combat engineers) to me.

    One such combat team is a mixed regiment to me, two are a small brigade, three a large brigade and four a division.


    Large armies might go for the large brigade, smaller armies (than US, PRC or Russia) might go for the small brigade instead to get a meaningful quantity of Bdes.
    Very small armies (Denmark, for example) should probably rather go for some kind of single combat team "not meant for the Schwerpunkt" light cavalry regiments for vanguard, rear guard, security, recce, counter-recce and raids in order to get a meaningful quantity of formations.
    We got finally rid of the division structure in many armies (based on WW2 insights that were already accepted in NATO as correct insights back in the late 50's!) and that's fine. Four combat teams per formation are great on paper (many formation possibilities...3 up+1 back, 1 up+3 back, 2-2, 2 right+1 left+1 back, ...), and rather disappointing in reality. We've had this with ideas about four Bdes per Div already.


    Looking at the small or large Bde, I'd like to propose a closer look at the support functions. Such a Bde of two combat teams could team up the support units with another light mech battalion (on APCs) that acts as reserve and security force.
    The support elements themselves (arty, log, signals, AD, medical, Bde HQ) could be sized to provide their services to much more than the own combat teams. They could create a "support aura" of about 80 km diameter (especially with arty) in support of rather cheap or very small units (non-combined arms infantry Rgts without arty or light cavalry companies, battalions).

    In addition to this, I'd add basic infantry training battalion at the home garrison (four to six months basic training).

    This would create a Bde of
    * two or three combined arms (mortars, not arty) combat teams
    * a light mech infantry-reinforced bunch of support units that provide support services in a radius of up to 80 km (not only to its combat teams)
    * a "Bn+civil services" stationary garrison element


    Brigade structures usually look as if the brigades were meant to fight as quite solid blocks, when in reality we would need many rather small units or detachments to actually have an eye on (or control of) the surrounding terrain. Those many small eyes & daggers in the landscape would benefit greatly if the Bde in the field had the surplus support capability to assist them.


    This extra capacity would also perform nicely with incomplete (non-combined arms) allied contingents attached in a campaign like the Afghan one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gute View Post
    I believe this may have been addressed before and if so I apologize. This topic is of great interest to me so I have continued to study it. It's my understanding that the HBCT has three major flaws: 1) two Combined Arms Battalions instead of 3-4, 2) an under armored RSTA squadron, and 3) the belief that the RSTA squadron may serve as a third maneuver element.

    I have two questions for the members with the experience with armored warfare and the HBCT. 1) Is the current structure of the HBCT sufficient for offensive operations such as what the 3ID did in the run up to Baghdad during OIF? 2) Are the criticisms of the HBCT and the IBCT based on a lack of performance during stability ops or the current structures are ill suited for offensive ops? I seemed to have the same question twice - It seems to me the major critisms of the BCT have more to do with a structure that is performing stability ops and not offensive ops or maybe it makes no difference. Thanks.
    You know I always considered the old ROAD 1986 mech div to be pretty much an all-arms smorgasboard task and mission tailorable (is that even a word?) as and where required. The Div cavarly Sqn/Bn even had organic helicopters and an artillery brigade. IMO the BCT are good in principle but for their actual combat effectiveness is hampered by a logistics and CS slice that gives it a 50/50 troop to tail ratio. The old Div86 format could sustain bdes with greater oversight, IMO, and greater felxibility (especially if CS units had been made organic to Bdes, thus making the division an ad hoc HQ element much like the old Soviet WWII era Corps structure). Losing the artillery bde for a fashionable belief that precision is more important than volume merely sets one up for a bloody nose (BCT arty bns have, what, 12 tubes?) Still, the deficiencies(sp?) of the Stryker BCTs (i.e., including the need for a third manouevre bn) was diagnosed long ago. Which see;

    LtC S. J. Townsend, Alternate Organisations for Stryker Brigade Combat Teams

    Maj. A. L. Rocke, Is the Stryker Brigade Combat Team a Viable Concept

    Maj F. R. Moss, The Costs and Benefits of Adding a Third Manoeuvre Battalion to the Brigade Combat Team

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    The only catch with the Vietnam-era division cavalry squadron was that its organic air cavalry troop was often snatched by division headquarters (or higher), and the ground troops were parceled out to individual brigades on many occasions. It was a damned good, flexible organization, but it had to be allowed to operate as a unit.

    I put this out there because the 1986 ROAD division squadron was still similar to the Vietnam model.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Default The HBCT

    I was a part of 2/4ID staff when it did its transition to the new HBCT design from the Force XXI model and later commanded a maneuver company in the BCT, which included a tour in Iraq. Early on we identified several shortfalls to the new design but made little headway with Big Army in affecting the changes we saw as necessary. Still, there are some definite positives within the new design.

    First, the Combined Arms BNs are monsters. They have more infantry than the old tank BNs and more tanks than the old mech BNs. They also lend themselves very well to all companies task-organizing for combined arms opns.

    Second, despite how large they are, the BCT HQ have many more capabilities than the old BDE HQ. It can sometimes be very unwieldy, but having so much organic C2 under one roof provides many capabilities.

    On the other hand, the lack of a third CAB handicaps the BCT. the ARS has no ability, doctrinally or practically, to do any more than light reconnaissance and screening opns. It can't attack, defend, cover, guard, or screen. It also lacks adequate dismounts to field multiple long-term OPs. The mix of BFVs and HMMWVs wasn't the best idea either. The lack of platoons is also a problem. The ARS needs lots of external support to really make it combat capable. Now in the current fight in Iraq, one could make a credible argument that the ARS was sufficient for its tasks. However, it's very unlikely an ARS would have been able to do the same things 3-7 CAV did during the initial portion of the Iraq War.

    The FA BN is woefully inadequate. In order to field more BCTs, the Army watered down its combat power and it's clear in these two-battery FA BNs. Supporting the CABs and the ARS simultaneously is a bridge too far without external support, which makes the BCT incapable of self-reliance.

    The engineers are scattered across the BCT. Sometimes this is good, sometimes bad, but the problem is that BFV-equipped engineers get looked at like just another maneuver element instead of engineers who can maneuver if need be. Also, lacking a BDE EN limits the real visibility on the engineer situation.

    CS support is inadequate. There's a need for more MPs and other combat enablers. CSS didn't seem to be much of a problem, but that's outside of my scope.

    In the future, I wish the Army would reduce the number of BCTs in favor of making the existing ones much more robust and capable - real self-sufficient fighting forces, capable of throwing the kitchen sink at the threat. Add a 3rd CAB, make the ARS into an organization able to fight for information, field additional FS assets - both howitzers and mortars, include more dismounted scouts, and make the MP PLT an MP CO.

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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swerve1 View Post
    In the future, I wish the Army would reduce the number of BCTs in favor of making the existing ones much more robust and capable - real self-sufficient fighting forces, capable of throwing the kitchen sink at the threat. Add a 3rd CAB, make the ARS into an organization able to fight for information, field additional FS assets - both howitzers and mortars, include more dismounted scouts, and make the MP PLT an MP CO.
    Sounds like our Brigade Groups - because of our dispersed (small) Army and the need to do without a Division HQ (for now), our Army is formed around a Mechanized Brigade Group having:
    2 Mech Inf Bns
    1 Light Inf Bn
    1 Armoured Bn (mix of MBTs and LAV Armoured Recce)
    1 Combat Engineer Bn
    1 Artillery Bn (M-777 - but I think its going to 2 batteries as we don't have enough to replace the old 105mm)
    1 Support Bn (Tn, Log, Maint, etc, etc)
    1 HQ Bn (HQ, Sigs Coy, MP Pl)

    The Brigades also have light helicopter squadrons that are affiliated and based alongside them.

    Potent organizations, although we've yet to deploy one complete. We usually send mixed Battlegroups formed around an Inf Bn with a Company from each of the other Bns.

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    Default Thanks for the detailed reply...

    Quote Originally Posted by swerve1 View Post
    I was a part of 2/4ID staff when it did its transition to the new HBCT design from the Force XXI model and later commanded a maneuver company in the BCT, which included a tour in Iraq. Early on we identified several shortfalls to the new design but made little headway with Big Army in affecting the changes we saw as necessary. Still, there are some definite positives within the new design.

    First, the Combined Arms BNs are monsters. They have more infantry than the old tank BNs and more tanks than the old mech BNs. They also lend themselves very well to all companies task-organizing for combined arms opns.

    Second, despite how large they are, the BCT HQ have many more capabilities than the old BDE HQ. It can sometimes be very unwieldy, but having so much organic C2 under one roof provides many capabilities.

    On the other hand, the lack of a third CAB handicaps the BCT. the ARS has no ability, doctrinally or practically, to do any more than light reconnaissance and screening opns. It can't attack, defend, cover, guard, or screen. It also lacks adequate dismounts to field multiple long-term OPs. The mix of BFVs and HMMWVs wasn't the best idea either. The lack of platoons is also a problem. The ARS needs lots of external support to really make it combat capable. Now in the current fight in Iraq, one could make a credible argument that the ARS was sufficient for its tasks. However, it's very unlikely an ARS would have been able to do the same things 3-7 CAV did during the initial portion of the Iraq War.

    The FA BN is woefully inadequate. In order to field more BCTs, the Army watered down its combat power and it's clear in these two-battery FA BNs. Supporting the CABs and the ARS simultaneously is a bridge too far without external support, which makes the BCT incapable of self-reliance.

    The engineers are scattered across the BCT. Sometimes this is good, sometimes bad, but the problem is that BFV-equipped engineers get looked at like just another maneuver element instead of engineers who can maneuver if need be. Also, lacking a BDE EN limits the real visibility on the engineer situation.

    CS support is inadequate. There's a need for more MPs and other combat enablers. CSS didn't seem to be much of a problem, but that's outside of my scope.

    In the future, I wish the Army would reduce the number of BCTs in favor of making the existing ones much more robust and capable - real self-sufficient fighting forces, capable of throwing the kitchen sink at the threat. Add a 3rd CAB, make the ARS into an organization able to fight for information, field additional FS assets - both howitzers and mortars, include more dismounted scouts, and make the MP PLT an MP CO.
    The HMWWVs in your recon elements always intrigued me. What was the rationale (assuming there was one) for marrying them with BFVs rather than more BFVs or even MBTs?

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    Default The very foolish American proclivity for buying

    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    The HMWWVs in your recon elements always intrigued me. What was the rationale (assuming there was one) for marrying them with BFVs rather than more BFVs or even MBTs?
    General Purpose (GP -- precursor for the once ubiquitous 'Jeep') equipment rather than sensibly buying designed for purpose items.

    The M3 Bradley was a political compromise purchased by the Armor and Cavalry folks to assure that the Infantry folks (who were buying the M2 Bradley) supported their buy of the M1 Tank. A part of the cost was cancellation of the XM8 Armored Gun system and of a dedicated Scout vehicle. The HMMWV is a lousy scout vehicle but is the standard, GP 'light' (???) wheeled vehicle.

    IOW, there is no rationale. Both items were and are simply available and the best of many poor solutions given a refusal to buy dedicated equipment...

    We do a lot of really dumb stuff.

    We over-Armor our Recon elements because we do not have the patience to wait for effective, time consuming reconnaissance to be completed, we just load up on Armor and go out looking for trouble. Dumb...

    We've identified a lack of effective Reconnaissance capability as a tactical and operational shortfall again and again -- we still haven't really fixed it, mostly because we're unwilling to buy dedicated equipment (or adequately train our people) and have impatient Staff Officers who are unwilling to wait for information...

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    Default BFVs and HMMWVs

    I think the original reason for such a combination was that the OPFOR at NTC had scout platoons organized with BMPs (M113s) and BRDMs (HMMWVs), and the OPFOR was pretty successful against the rotating BLUFOR. Of course they had other advantages, but I think very little thought or analysis went into part of the new BCT design. I think $$$ drove much of the decision making, not capabilities.

    Infanteer, do you have any more information on the British BDE Battle Groups? I didn't know there was such a unit in existance. I think the US Army really needs to reconsider its organization, and the DoD needs to really determine what the role of the Army will be in the future. This goes along with Sec. Gates consideration of what should the role of the USMC be. You can't talk about one without discussing the other.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    We over-Armor our Recon elements because we do not have the patience to wait for effective, time consuming reconnaissance to be completed, we just load up on Armor and go out looking for trouble. Dumb...

    We've identified a lack of effective Reconnaissance capability as a tactical and operational shortfall again and again -- we still haven't really fixed it, mostly because we're unwilling to buy dedicated equipment (or adequately train our people) and have impatient Staff Officers who are unwilling to wait for information...
    This happens to be relevant to my interests.

    (1) The U.S. idea of a cavalry mission (dedicated force for recce, security, vanguard, rearguard) makes sense, but the execution is strange.
    - too many helicopters organic at too low level (apparently too much funds for helos!)
    - design of a brigade-sized "Regiment" for a mission that should be done by dispersed battalions, if not companies
    - either heavy tracked or 4wd light approach

    Armour, combat, heavyness, speed - that's all fine for recce, counterrecce, security, advance guard, rear guard - but it's just part of the solution. A turbine-driven MBT in a cavalry force is a very strange choice, of course.
    Mobility (especially road range and reliability of mobility-critical components) should be emphasized over protection and firepower. Their combat role should be more akin to fencing with a Rapier than to a Roman legionary's charge.

    The light "stealth" approach is also fine, but it takes time as you mentioned, and should thus be an effort that's even more independent of the plans of the brigades (combat formations). The slow, light approach should cover areas, establish picket lines or observe places of special interest. The stealth recce should be in place long before a Bde intends to move into their direction - just in case.
    This requires many small and enduring teams - LRS basically.

    The idea that you send recce elements ahead is outdated. It stems from a time when the mobility was very different and many divisions were advancing shoulder-to-shoulder or in the undefended areas behind a penetrated front line. Nowadays you have your brigades with some spacing and need to know what's up in the gaps and ahead. Recce needs to cover huge areas, not merely tell what lies ahead on a few favourited routes. Field manuals come close to recognize this, but force structures don't.
    We have too many support and combat troops and too few recce elements. keep in mind; killing is easy nowadays once you have a positive ID and coordinates (+ movement vector) about the enemy.

    The brigades should really be the triremes in an ocean of recce troops who already drowned every foe who was too weak to swim; ready to ram with speed and force, if possible multiple vs one.


    All the new lightly armored 4wd observation cars (such as Fennek, or HMMWV with LRAS) can do very little in my opinion. They're a terribly expensive solution for the stealth part and useless for the "combat for recce superiority" and "cavalry" mission. 8x8-based recce vehicles are even more questionable because of their size. Luchs is great for route recce, but the concept is simply too expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    We over-Armor our Recon elements because we do not have the patience to wait for effective, time consuming reconnaissance to be completed, we just load up on Armor and go out looking for trouble. Dumb...
    I take it you don't buy into these conclusions?

    http://www.ausa.org/SiteCollectionDo...ers/LWP_53.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by swerve1 View Post
    Infanteer, do you have any more information on the British BDE Battle Groups? I didn't know there was such a unit in existance.
    The Brigade Group is, I think, a Canadian formation created as a response to being unable to deploy a Division (for various reasons) but still wanting to deploy everything and the kitchen sink. It borders on a mini-Division and is listed, doctrinally, as an "independant Corps asset" - mind you this is all Fulda Gap stuff when 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group formed the VII Corps reserve (I think I got this right).

    Anyways, Battlegroups and Combat Teams are stuff that we in Canada live by when it comes to operations. I'm pretty sure the British use the same or similar doctrine when it comes to task-tailoring forces. Battlegroups are a task-tailored force built around either an Infantry Battalion or, uncommonly these days, and Armoured Regiment (battalion in everyday lingo). The battlegroup will have sub-elements of all the other arms of the Brigade that it requires to accomplish its mission. For example, the Battlegroup in Afghanistan (this is all open source from the CF website) is a Rifle Battalion with an Armoured Squadron (we call companies squadrons in Canada/UK), an Armoured Recconaissance Squadron (again company), a Combat Engineer Squadron (company) and an Artillery Battery. So, the Battalion Commander actually has quite a potent little combined arms force - everything down a notch from what the Brigade Commander has.

    Combat Teams are the same thing, but at the Company level. Doctrinally, we work with square combat teams - an Infantry Company, an Armoured Squadron (company), a Field Engineer Troop (platoon), and a FOO/JTAC team. A Battlegroup commander will task-tailor one or more combat teams based off of how he sees the mission being accomplished. We are even seeing "Platoon Groups" in the dispersed operations - I had a section (squad) of Engineers attached to my platoon for almost the entire time in Afghanistan and at times I got a FOO/JTAC party as well. It wasn't uncommon to see a Platoon of Infantry and a Troop (platoon) of tanks married up to go do something. Makes life interesting for the lowly platoon commander!

    So, in reality just a system of task-tailoring combined arms forces and, in some cases, who commands them - nothing too special but we do it as a matter of course in Canada because we have almost exclusively been deploying Battlegroups (sans Brigades) to multinational operations for the last 20 years or so. When it does show is when you look at units in and around Kandahar - the Canadian battalion has tanks, artillery and engineers while the American units are more conventional, branch pure units.
    Last edited by Infanteer; 05-18-2010 at 03:04 PM.

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    Question Scouts out...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ...The U.S. idea of a cavalry mission (dedicated force for recce, security, vanguard, rearguard) makes sense, but the execution is strange.
    Mostly due to limited equipment choices.
    too many helicopters organic at too low level (apparently too much funds for helos!)
    In a sense, you're correct. Money to buy aircraft is in a different pot than that for ground vehicles...[/quote]design of a brigade-sized "Regiment" for a mission that should be done by dispersed battalions, if not companies.[/quote]More a tradition and cultural thing than a valid operational requirement. We give our branches too mush clout in structure decisions.
    either heavy tracked or 4wd light approach
    Again, an equipment available limitation.

    I agree with your other points. Infanteer also provided a linked article and asked if I agreed with it -- actually, I do. Mostly due to this quote from that article:

    "American military might is based largely on the ability to maintain an operational tempo that vastly exceeds that of an adversary. Operational commanders will not forfeit this enormous advantage to allow tactical units to fully develop the enemy situation."

    I don't totally subscribe to that but it is firmly embedded in US military thought and is unlikely to change. That and our national lack of patience make ability to fight for information, on screens and such imperative.
    The idea that you send recce elements ahead is outdated...Field manuals come close to recognize this, but force structures don't.
    We have too many support and combat troops and too few recce elements. keep in mind; killing is easy nowadays once you have a positive ID and coordinates (+ movement vector) about the enemy.

    The brigades should really be the triremes in an ocean of recce troops who already drowned every foe who was too weak to swim; ready to ram with speed and force, if possible multiple vs one.
    Yes.

    To reconcile the conflicting reconnaissance (and equipment) needs you cited, my preference is for Infantry Battalions to have Scout AND Reconnaissance platoons (light wheeled vehicles for light infantry, slightly modified infantry carrier for signature confusion for mechanized units where they exist), for combined Arms or Armor, Armored Cavalry Platoons with a light tracked scout section, a Tank section, an Infantry section and a Mortar section plus the PL.

    BCTs / Bdes should have a Cavalry Troop with the same four functional units except as platoons and not sections. The separate Cavalry or Reconnaissance Squadrons / Battalions should consist of four such troops plus support. All these 'Cavalry' elements are flexibly reorganized to fit situational METT-TC considerations.

    Equally obviously, all those organization -- and new ones tailored for the operations at hand -- should be modified to fit the overall situation, location and operational goal.

    Cavalry or something like it, a reconnaissance oriented but emphatically combat capable element, is required. It has to be prepared to fight. The issue of 'stealthy' reconnaissance is provided for by LRS companies and elements where appropriate and formation reconnaissance units should be capable of some stealth but must be able to fight for information and be usable as economy of force elements.

    My issue with equipment is simply that we should provide special purpose equipment rather than trying to economize in purchases and training by buying one size fits all -- it rarely does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    I take it you don't buy into these conclusions?

    http://www.ausa.org/SiteCollectionDo...ers/LWP_53.pdf
    From said study:
    The first study, entitled Applying the National Training Center Experience: Tactical Reconnaissance, established a strong correlation between successful reconnaissance and successful offensive operations. In fact, this correlation was so strong that Goldsmith argued that beginning an attack . . . without appropriate intelligence is apt to lead to failure.8
    I hope it didn't take that study to point out something so blindingly obvious!

    Question: If you are advancing to contact, why do you need reconnaissance?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    From said study:

    I hope it didn't take that study to point out something so blindingly obvious!
    Good point.

    Question: If you are advancing to contact, why do you need reconnaissance?
    So you hit the bad guy at the right angle? Although in this sense, "the lead guys" are the reconnaissance.

  19. #19
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Recce/scouts/whatever tied to Bn/Rgt/Bde can only cover a small radius around those units/formations adequately. They cannot scout ahead in a two-hour-march radius before the HQ has decided on the direction of the march.

    The availability of eyes and fists ahead is important - and any such lack reduces the mobile warfare proficiency (especially the agility of command and formations). Stumbling around blindly is no fun when the pinata is aiming a gun at you.

    Recce attached to divisions was OK in WW2 when recce had top speed of 60-80 km/h, tanks of 40 and infantry on foot ... well, you get the point.
    Recce hasn't this speed advantage any more. We've used all-motorised forces since 1940 (UK), 1944 (U.S.) or 1955 (Germany). We need a new concept for recce.

    Let me emphasis the recce-shall-already-be-in-place-before-a-formation-knows-it-want-to-move-to-that-place point.
    This becomes as impractical for individual formations just as city walls have become impractical for city garrisons with ever-larger artillery ranges. They gave way for front lines (a higher level effort) that provided all cities with a defensive line that was shorter than the sum of city walls of a single province.
    Defensive lines are about circumference; 2*pi*r. The area to be covered by recce is about circular area; r*r*pi. It grows much faster.
    If nothing else, geometry and history tell us that we have a defect with our force structure.

    Recce should be a corps-level job today (this is unlikely to become visible in our smallish training exercises). The combat units and formations use vanguard, security elements and if need be they can feel for a short range with a recce team. This is the "keep eyes open" part of the job. The real recce should be a Corps thing and should provide ~90% of the non-combat info on the enemy.
    We should give the Corps several Cavalry Regiments of several autonomous companies ("squadrons" if you want) each and a LRS Bn or Rgt.

    One more year and I might be finished with a 50-200 pages effort that's in part built on this assertion of mine.


    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    From said study:

    I hope it didn't take that study to point out something so blindingly obvious!

    Question: If you are advancing to contact, why do you need reconnaissance?
    It's actually not that obvious, but rather depends on assumptions.

    This point can actually lead to another discussion of manoeuvre priori/command push vs. manoeuvre posteriori/recon pull.
    Recce ahead loses some importance if you use the latter.

    There's also the thing whose name I always forget; attacking an enemy ASAP to catch him unread to fight. Military history suggests that this can work extremely fine if you use the right forces.
    Actually, Rommel drove over a French division on a road with a fraction of his Panzer-Division (about a third of it; he lead the vanguard, Vorausabteilung) simply because said division was resting along a road and didn't expect attackers, being 30+ km behind the front that was penetrated only a few hours before.

    The quote from the study was actually rather context (NTC) specific and probably only right in ~80% of all cases.
    A weak recce ahead (that needs to be sent ahead because it's not already in place!) can sometimes provide more early warning to the enemy than to yourself and waste your time.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 05-18-2010 at 04:06 PM. Reason: + quote part

  20. #20
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    There's also the thing whose name I always forget; attacking an enemy ASAP to catch him unread to fight.
    Spoiling attack?

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