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Thread: Anti tank weapons become anti personel weapons

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    Default Anti tank weapons become anti personel weapons

    Jerusalem Post via PrairiePundit:

    Jerusalem Post:

    Lt. Ohad Shamir was commanding a surveillance team hiding in Maroun a-Ras. Their mission was to locate Hizbullah fighters still operating near the village after it had been captured by Golani and Paratroopers units. Shamir's men felt pretty safe - during the 10 days they spent in the village, not a shot had been fired at their building. But then an antitank missile hit the structure and Shamir was lightly wounded.

    On Wednesday, he was being treated at Safed's Ziv Hospital for fragments in his back.

    "They are small teams, three of four people, hiding in the undergrowth, firing out of nowhere. They're the biggest danger," he said of the Hizbullah gunmen.

    The same story repeats itself time and again in the hospital wards where wounded solders are recovering and comparing experiences. No one has yet begun analyzing the causes of casualties in this war, but the indisputable fact is that the great majority of wounds and deaths were a result of antitank missiles - more than from gunfire, grenades and other explosive devices together.

    The term "antitank" is misleading; the missiles were originally designed to be used against tanks, but the IDF's Merkava tanks and upgraded armored fighting vehicles are capable of withstanding most missiles in Hizbullah's arsenal. But Hizbullah isn't using them only against tanks. The range of these missiles - up to three kilometers - and the force of their explosive charges make them ideal for attacking groups of soldiers and IDF positions from afar.

    ...

    Over the last two weeks, the tactic used by many of the Hizbullah teams has been to avoid close-range combat, where IDF soldiers' high level of training gives them the upper hand. Instead, the Hizbullah men have been moving to positions high above villages and continuing to fire missiles at the IDF forces. Large stores of missiles were prepared in the hills in advance, for this eventuality.

    ...
    This is a tactic I noticed in the early days of the war in Iraq also. Many of the casualties in the major combat operations phase of the war were from RPG's and antitank weapons. I think there are several reason for this. First body armor has made the AK-47 a less effective weapon. Second the Islamist "fighters" are not very good in close combat, i.e. they get destroyed. Their response to these realities is to use the antitank weapons as antipersonel weapons in a stand off range, in small units. Dispersal like this makes it impossible for them to actually take and hold a position, but it does allow them to inflict casualties before retreating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    Second the Islamist "fighters" are not very good in close combat, i.e. they get destroyed. Their response to these realities is to use the antitank weapons as antipersonel weapons in a stand off range, in small units. Dispersal like this makes it impossible for them to actually take and hold a position, but it does allow them to inflict casualties before retreating.
    The tone is typical of the conventional military's disdain for irregular warfare. While failing miserably to eliminate the problem, they imply that the enemy is a lesser foe by referring to their reluctance to meet conventional forces head-on, and their constant retreats after each engagement. Hizballah, like any other irregular force, has no interest in meeting the enemy head-to-head in close combat, nor in taking and holding ground. They are not throwing their manpower away in pointless seeking for martyrdom. The far ambush using AT weapons is excellent tactics on their part. Hit and run is classic guerrilla warfare, and given the Israeli homefront's sensitivity to IDF casualty numbers, it is also good IO. To "win" this fracas, Hizballah only needs to survive. They are doing a bit better than that right now.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Once again, shades of Vietnam. Both NVA and VC units would use RPGs to initiate ambushes, and frequently used "anti-tank" weapons as a very effective squad level fire support weapon. As Jed pointed out, it's simply good tactics on their part. Not only does the RPG-type weapon provide a good shock value and an area attack, it causes casualties that can slow or paralyze a unit long enough for the attacker to decide to either continue the fight or to break contact depending on the situation. And both Vietnam and later involvements showed the utility of the RPG as an anti-helicopter weapon.

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    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    This shouldn't be news. I remember the Marines in Beirut prior to the Embassy bombing having to deal with mass firings of RPGs at them. It makes sense to utilize as much of a stand off capacity as you can. It's just like gunfighting in this country. The stats prove the farther out that Law Enforcement can engage suspects the better we do. It seems like Israel is falling into the same troubles that we do when fighting a non conventional force.

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    Historically speaking, small arms tend to be the smallest contribution to casualties in any war - whether World War I or Operation Iraqi Freedom. It's not surprising that insurgent forces would turn the RPG (often their only heavy weapon) to every possible use.

    Western forces have no equivalent to the venerable RPG-7. The AT-4 and LAW are single shot and vastly less flexible. On the other hand, western forces have access to air support and artillery. Would you say our Marines are cowardly for relying on helicopter gunships when they could close with insurgents? Of course not, you'd say they were smart.

    The same theory applies to mortar, rocket and IED attacks. Each is a crude, cheap and easy to use weapon which is more powerful than a small arm and widely available to insurgent forces.

    With regard to Hezbollah, it should be no surprise that they have stocked up on anti-armor weapons. Their most likely opponent is the Israel Defense Forces, which are famously armor heavy. They restrict themselves to man portable systems out of a justifiable concern for IAF airpower and the lack of maintenance assets which would enable vehicle borne weapons to operate effectively.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default RPG as a Weapon for All Seasons

    Per Les Grau, my friend and a great American:

    The RPG-7 and asymmetrical future combat

    The RPG-7 will be around for a good while yet. It is a proven, cheap killer of technology which will continue to play a significant role--particularly when conventional forces are pitted against irregular forces. Russian veterans are enthusiastic about the RPG-7 and have suggested that the Russians need to develop an antipersonnel round, an incendiary round, a smoke round, an illumination round and other special-purpose rounds to give the RPG-7 more flexibility in future combat. (27) US soldiers need to be aware of the RPG-7 and how it has been deployed. The chances are, whenever a US soldier is deployed to a trouble spot, the RPG-7 will be part of the local landscape.
    From:
    A Weapon For All Seasons: The Old But Effective RPG-7 Promises to Haunt the Battlefields of Tomorrow
    At: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/weapon.htm

    Best

    Tom

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    This article that was published in a Pakistani newspaper "Daily Times" maybe of some interest to understand the Arab military pysche. It may not totally address the issue being discussed, but nonetheless, does give some background to the Arab military mind.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

    Controversy: Understanding the Arab military mind —Barry Rubin

    The Arabs never “lose” because they never surrender.Thus they do not formally give up anything. The leaders that brought on failure and the groups that did not triumph become heroes for being able to claim that they courageously fought the enemy without being crushed. The important points for them are that they gained revenge by inflicting damage

    A key aspect of winning any war is to define the goals. This is especially true of the current fighting in Gaza and Lebanon. By trying to do too much — or believing that one can achieve more than is possible — the result can be failure and certainly will be disappointment.

    In this case, the mistake is to think that Israel can destroy Hezbollah or eliminate it as a political and military entity. To claim otherwise plays into the hands of Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, which want to define their victory as Hezbollah’s survival.

    Defining victory as merely survival is a pattern often typical of Arab (and Iranian) politics. It is simultaneously disastrous and sensible. It is disastrous because it courts defeat by attacking superior forces: the 1967 Six Day War, Saddam Hussein’s challenge to the United States and his attack on Iran, Yasser Arafat’s fighting an endless battle in which he was always defeated, and so on. The Arab side is left with tremendous losses in casualties and material, as is once again happening with Lebanon and the Palestinians.

    But what is to a large extent a defeat in practical and military terms also can be considered a political victory. The Arabs never “lose” because they never surrender. Thus they do not formally give up anything. The leaders that brought on failure and the groups that did not triumph become heroes for being able to claim that they courageously fought the enemy without being crushed. The important points for them are that they gained revenge by inflicting damage, showed that they were real men, did not buckle under and survived.

    Such a pattern is a formula for endless conflict and endless defeat. Yet defeats do not force new attitudes, policies or leaders. The pragmatic “lesson” remains unlearnt because those who take this view perceive a different lesson.

    That is why the kind of tactics that work well in conflicts elsewhere in the world do not function in the Middle East. The rules of the game are supposed to be like this: the side that loses recognises that it is weaker and makes a deal involving concessions to avoid another costly conflict. The stronger side then gains deterrence, because recognition of its power stops the other side from going to war in the first place. Wanting to avoid war, all sides solve disputes by compromise, end the conflict forever, and move onto other things.

    Instead, Hezbollah and Hamas thrive on fighting as an end in itself. Moreover, Hezbollah and its friends present themselves as absolute victors no matter what happens. And millions of Arabs and Muslims, given regime and media propaganda, believe them.

    The underlying cause of conflict is not that Hezbollah or Hamas have grievances against Israel so much as that they view Jews as prophet-murdering, devil-aiding, imperialistic sub-humans whose state must be wiped off the map. Formal ceasefires or political solutions are inconceivable. At the same time, the conflict gives them money, power, and glory. Any losses or suffering that occurs as a result — except perhaps to the leaders personally — are a matter of indifference.

    For its part, Israel will win an objective military and political victory but is not able to destroy Hezbollah for several reasons. First, Hezbollah has the support of most Lebanese Shia, who make up roughly 40 percent of the population. The Shiites back Hezbollah because it appeals to their communal pride, represents their interests domestically, and stirs their religious passions. The current fighting will not erode that support, which regards resistance to Israel as a victory in itself.

    Second, Iran and Syria will keep backing Hezbollah because doing so gives them prestige, influence in Lebanon, and a way to hit Israel — all without cost. Their backing includes not only arms, but also financial subsidies that enable Hezbollah to buy popular support.

    Finally, a lot of Hezbollah’s resources and forces are outside Israel’s range. Thus, only strong action by Lebanese groups could destroy Hezbollah. But they won’t act because they fear civil war and opportunistically use Hezbollah to promote their own goals or ambitions. For example, the current Christian leadership is a political ally of Hezbollah, even though the former opposed and the latter favoured Syria’s continuing occupation of Lebanon.

    Naturally, most other Lebanese are unhappy that Hezbollah’s adventurism has dragged their country into war and inflicted great destruction on it. Many secretly want Israel to crush Hezbollah and rid them of their problem. Yet they will do nothing themselves to help, thus ensuring that the problem continues.

    There are, though, two realisable goals that Israel can achieve. The first is to keep Hezbollah away from the border. Ideally, Lebanon’s army and government would enter the area and run it as part of their country. Alternatively, another international force may be able to accomplish more than its predecessors, which mostly waved at the terrorists as they passed. But even if international institutions or Lebanon do nothing, Israel will attack any Hezbollah forces trying to get close enough to cross the border or fire rockets at Israeli civilians.

    The second attainable goal is to impose such a high price on Hezbollah as to be an effective deterrence in practice. Hezbollah will keep insisting publicly that it yearns for another confrontation, shout defiance and claim victory. At the same time, though, it will confine its threats mainly to the verbal level. More than this cannot — and should not — be expected. — DT-PS

    Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Centre, Interdisciplinary University, and editor of the ‘Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal’
    http://www.worldpress.org/link.cfm?h...ytimes.com.pk/
    Last edited by Ray; 08-03-2006 at 07:54 PM.

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    Default RPG's as sniper rifles

    Interesting comments, but does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to defeat this tactic?

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    Default Anti-RPG Tactics

    The RPG is limited to the mark 1 eyeball for target detection, although I believe many models have some sort of simple optical sight. In a high RPG environment, soldiers should counteract enemy RPG gunners by stealth and evasion. Great small unit leaders (here are the strategic corporals, again) can ensure noise and light discipline. Platoon commanders and squad leaders need to avoid taking up obvious, commanding positions, because they will draw fire. Reduced use of armor, especially tanks, to limit the force's logistical footprint - which limits the number of supply/fuel trucks on the road to get hit. Use of smoke to cover movement, along with careful selection of the angles of attack, etc. Increased use of night attacks or bad weather.

    On the defense, it's necessary to have aggressive patrolling and outposts. Camouflage is vital as well. The use of dummies and decoy targets might also be considered. An empty tent with a big fat red cross on it, for example, might draw a Hezbollah RPG team into wasting rockets at long range without first verifying their target, for example.

    In any event, solid marksmanship and the ability to call down supporting artillery or tank fires in a quick, accurate fashion should be sufficient to kill off any RPG teams that get a shot off.

    Really, all of this stuff is the same sort of tactical basics you'd take if your enemy had an advantage like air or fire superiority. It comes down to common sense, hard work and respect for what your enemy can do. The IDF has Hezbollah woefully out gunned, but they will take losses just the same if they get stupid, lazy or cocky.

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    Default The unfunded Trophy system

    This post with a link to the Jerusalem Post discusses the system developed by Israel and the US to destroy incoming antitank rounds:

    Jerusalem Post:

    ...

    Another issue is the anti-tank missiles being fired in the hundreds at troops operating in southern Lebanese villages.

    On Thursday, two such rockets were fired at tanks in different villages and the results were tragic - four soldiers were killed, one in Ataybeh and three in Rajamin in the western sector of southern Lebanon.

    But what is even more tragic is that the defense establishment has refused to fund an existing defense system for tanks that could protect them from rockets like RPGs and the Soviet-built Sagger.

    Senior Armored Corps officers told The Jerusalem Post last week that the defense establishment had refused to provide tanks with the Trophy, a Rafael-developed active protection system which creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles, such as the Merkava 4 tank, currently operating on the ground in southern Lebanon. The system is designed to detect and track a threat and counters it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank rocket.

    "Money is what is killing and wounding soldiers," one high-ranking officer told the Post last week. "The Trophy system is supposed to be there to provide the answer to this threat, but due to budget constraints the soldiers are paying the price with their lives."
    This is from an article on why it is so hard to stop the rocket attacks. The Trophy system is designed to protect tanks and APC's. It is not clear whether it could be modified to protect other structures or areas, but it is certainly worth exploring. In test the system has been found effective.

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    Default Trophy

    Trophy sounds promising. However, I've never heard an estimate of the system's cost. Also, it destroys incoming rocket/missile fire using some kind of counterprojectile - which certainly sounds like it could be dangerous for any infantry operating near an armored vehicle carrying the thing. As for protecting other sites, I've no idea of trophy's weight or electrical power requirements. I imagine both or substantial, however. Technology generally cannot be expected to solve a problem posed by guerillas, who after all design their strategy with malice aforethought to counter a superior opponent.

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    The only proven "way" to stop the RPG is through aggressive patrolling using small ground elements and possibly by interdicting the supply lines that provide the projectiles. Dispersed ground troops are less vulnerable to RPG fire, at least in terms of both spotting the rocket teams (if there is a loader accompanying the gunner) and avoiding or minimizing the damage from the projectile. Tanks and troops in carriers have fewer options and in a sense become more vulnerable. I would expect that sniper teams would be very effective at both spotting and neutralizing RPG gunners, and they would also avoid the possible collateral damage that could result from heavier supporting fires.

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    Default 4 Aug AP Report...

    Missiles Neutralizing Israeli Tanks - Associated Press.

    Hezbollah's sophisticated anti-tank missiles are perhaps the guerrilla group's deadliest weapon in Lebanon fighting, with their ability to pierce Israel's most advanced tanks.

    Experts say this is further evidence that Israel is facing a well-equipped army in this war, not a ragtag militia.

    Hezbollah has fired Russian-made Metis-M anti-tank missiles and owns European-made Milan missiles, the army confirmed on Friday.

    In the last two days alone, these missiles have killed seven soldiers and damaged three Israeli-made Merkava tanks _ mountains of steel that are vaunted as symbols of Israel's military might, the army said. Israeli media say most of the 44 soldiers killed in four weeks of fighting were hit by anti-tank missiles.

    "They (Hezbollah guerrillas) have some of the most advanced anti-tank missiles in the world," said Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior military intelligence officer who retired earlier this summer.

    "This is not a militia, it's an infantry brigade with all the support units," Kuperwasser said.


    Israel contends that Hezbollah gets almost all of its weaponry from Syria and by extension Iran, including its anti-tank missiles.

    That's why cutting off the supply chain is essential _ and why fighting Hezbollah after it has spent six years building up its arsenal is proving so painful to Israel, officials say.

    Israel's Merkava tanks boast massive amounts of armor and lumber and resemble fortresses on tracks. They are built for crew survival, according to Globalsecurity.org, a Washington-based military think tank...

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    I didn't get the reference to Metis-M, until I looked it up and saw it was the AT-13. It seems that Syria purchased $73 million worth of AT-13s from Russia just a few years back. That's a lot of launchers and additional missiles. Wonder how many of them ended up with Hizballah...

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    Default 64 Thousand Dollar Question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    That's a lot of launchers and additional missiles. Wonder how many of them ended up with Hizballah...
    Obviously Hezbollah is a bit more "well-armed" than some may have suspected...

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I did a little research into Israel's economy. It seems that the government got the economy back on track a couple of years ago with some fiscal austerity programs which might also explain Israel's reluctance to go all out in this fight. Wars are expensive and with Hezbollah turning out to be tougher than expected, this one is getting more expensive. With no ground troops forthcoming from any other country to help them Israel is looking at having to absorb the whole cost of this themselves. They will of course do so to protect their borders but they probably won't be looking for any wider conflicts with Syria or Iran. Not yet any way. At least that is the way it looks to me.

    SFC W

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    Default Israel got a preview of Hezballah anti tank tackic in 2005

    This post has more on the Hezballah tactics. Here is an excerpt on the 2005 action:

    The IDF had intelligence information on Hezbollah plans to deploy specialized anti-tank teams in order to delay the advance of IDF ground forces. The special focus Hezbollah gave to anti-tank weapons as part of their doctrine was revealed during the raid on the border village of Ghajar in November 2005.

    ...

    During the battle at Ghajar, which is inside Israeli territory and has an Alawite population, Hezbollah fighters fired more than 300 anti-tank rockets of different types, including the new RPG-29, which targetted various armored vehicles and two Merkava Mark-2 tanks. One of the two tanks had the necessary armor to deflect the missiles, but the other took a hit to the body.

    Following the battle at Ghajar, Israeli inquiries that Russia was transferring modern anti-tank weapons to Syria and on to Hezbollah were received with anger. The Russians demanded proof that this had been done.

    Contrary to common practice, Israel transferred to Russia the tail-end of a rocket for analysis. The Russian response was that in the absence of a serial number they were hard pressed to identify it as part of a load delivered to Syria.

    ...
    The RPG-29's are described as having a tandem warhead that apparently can penetrate the heavy armor of the Israeli tanks. The story does indicate that the majority of infrantry casualties have also been from the anti tank weapons.

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    A question for the infantrymen. It might be slightly off topic but I think it's related.

    Since WWII a fire team has been 3-5 men built around an automatic rifle or light machine gun. Is there any advantage in having fire teams, or at least some of them, built around some type of light rocket launcher/RPG?

    There seems to be a lot more to winning small wars than finding more effective ways to put ordinance on target, but we still need to field the most capable squads we can don't we? We didn't give rocket launcher employment a lot of consideration when I was active (20 years ago).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson View Post
    This post with a link to the Jerusalem Post discusses the system developed by Israel and the US to destroy incoming antitank rounds:



    This is from an article on why it is so hard to stop the rocket attacks. The Trophy system is designed to protect tanks and APC's. It is not clear whether it could be modified to protect other structures or areas, but it is certainly worth exploring. In test the system has been found effective.
    Can you say "Arena"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    A question for the infantrymen. It might be slightly off topic but I think it's related.

    Since WWII a fire team has been 3-5 men built around an automatic rifle or light machine gun. Is there any advantage in having fire teams, or at least some of them, built around some type of light rocket launcher/RPG?
    Chechens did so, creating 3/4-men teams built around RPG-7 launcher where person armed with automatic weapon was there to protect RPG gunner. Russian tankers in Grozny didn't like the idea.

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