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Thread: Moving the Rhod. Fire Force concept to Afghanistan?

  1. #141
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    That is why we need one of these!


    http://www.fantastic-plastic.com/Con...atalogPage.htm

  2. #142
    Council Member TYR's Avatar
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    Default Good one

    It looks kind of like and Army mop bucket.
    "Soldiers who are lacking in basic training, discipline, poor leadership and inadequate command and control will not be able to win wars with technology and firepower alone. When their technology fails, they will find themselves in a vacuum they cannot easily extricate themselves from."- Eeben Barlow

  3. #143
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TYR View Post
    It looks kind of like and Army mop bucket.
    Yes it does, but the add says it includes Marine Corps Decals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    You miss that?
    No, post #132 contained the following (which you obviously missed)

    My question re the photo (in post #124) was because that was a lot like a view from an OP or from the gunship as one started lifting on arrival at the target. Every contour ridge (or bund) is a massive potential problem for infantry on the ground as are the mud walls but are nothing from the air.
    Think enemy and terrain (or METT-TC if you prefer). If you have air effort and there are TB in that village area then you should be able to get them all.

    That's a small hill from whence the picture of that nice level easy in which to operate terrain was taken. Said hills are the principal problem and, as Fuchs says, the bocage like walls aren't helpful. Nor are the long range fields of fire offered by said hills or in the relatively flat valleys where there is no farming..

    Terrain is, as always, what one makes of it.
    Not quite, terrain is how you use it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I just looked again at the photo.

    It does now remember me of Normandy, with all those walls (~bocages).


    It seems as if somehow walls play a larger than normal role in countries which were visited by Mongols a lot.
    Yes the walls are an obstacle to infantry. So what do you suggest to overcome this?

  6. #146
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Yes the walls are an obstacle to infantry. So what do you suggest to overcome this?
    First of all they're an obstacle to vision (concealment), then they're an obstacle to projectiles (cover), then to men and finally to vehicles.

    An area full of obstacles can be useful and detrimental - depending on what you want to do.

    Area control certainly becomes more difficult (unless you have OPs at an elevated position). Off-road movements become at the very least canalized - this sucks in regard to IED evasion.

    Infantry becomes canalized as well as long as the walls are too high for climbing over one every few minutes.


    Bocages were in part a problem in 1944 because they were almost like prepared fighting positions for infantry (and there was enough infantry to man the positions after the first two days) and because of the mobility impairment. The former is probably not such a problem in AFG because of the low force density even in population centres.


    Well, and finally I'm simply too tired right now. 0127 ... too late for writing an epic article full of thoughts about some specific, unique terrain. The terrain is complicated enough to lead to dozens of conclusions.

  7. #147
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You provide the wrong target...

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    No, post #132 contained the following (which you obviously missed)
    I didn't miss it, I responded to the post I quoted. Not to 132. However, since you bought 132 into the conversation:
    My question re the photo (in post #124) was because that was a lot like a view from an OP or from the gunship as one started lifting on arrival at the target. Every contour ridge (or bund) is a massive potential problem for infantry on the ground as are the mud walls but are nothing from the air.
    The obvious, well stated...

    The only possible response to that is "Well, yeah..." The rest of 132 is all equally valid but doesn't address the question you raised in Post 124 to which I responded, to wit, "What exactly is the problem with this terrain? " So, I answered that with an obvious statement.

    See, two can do that.

    Incidentally, jcustis is Jon, not John.
    Think enemy and terrain (or METT-TC if you prefer). If you have air effort and there are TB in that village area then you should be able to get them all.
    Umm, perhaps. Except for the ones that pretend to be -- or are -- local farmers or who have hidey holes constructed or who can out run their pursuers. IF you have air...

    If you don't that hill mass and others like it pose a bit of a problem.
    Not quite, terrain is how you use it.
    Er, well yeah. I deeply regret not choosing the precise phraseology you specify.

    However, I sort of meant the same thing. "What one make of it" also puts the onus on the user not the terrain.

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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    OK, I'm looking at this one. What exactly is the problem with this terrain?
    I simply posted this picture along with others to highlight what the average piece of "greenspace" in Afghanistan looks like. Typical engagements in Afghanistan aren't over the ranging veldt, they are fought from small hamlets like this; the insurgents love to scoot-and-shoot from these little greenspaces and slide back into them, caching their weapons in the fields or farm buildings and saying "no taliban here!"

    As well, those ridges in that picture are usually 4-8 feet deep and, at certain times of the year, flooded to some extent. Moving through them by foot is extremely taxing, especially with enforced loads and 50 degree heat. The only other way is to create a breach with an Armoured Engineer Vehicle, which causes other problems. In the summer, the cover in most of these areas from the air is very good as the vines and trees sock in - the picture after that one clearly shows this. Aviation can quickly lose guys amongst grapehuts and pomegranate groves.

    My point on helicopters is that you could fly all over the place with them, but these areas are quite condensed and most are within mortar range of some form of NATO outpost. The floodplains in Kandahar and Helmand are very small, densly populated areas - some of our training area maps are bigger than a Brigade AO in Afghanistan. "Fireforce mobility" may not be necessary here.

    Finally, the hills in the south aren't usually much of a tactical feature - they are randomly spread about but are steep and bare of any cover. These aren't the mountains of RC(E) but rather small craggy outcroppings that pop out of the flood plain. I only saw them used twice by the insurgents; the first time a sniper picked the guy off and the second time an A-10 "moved" the guy off.
    Last edited by Infanteer; 12-09-2010 at 02:22 AM.

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    Default Covered by walls

    Albeit we are moving away from the original theme onto the impact of terrain and in particular cover for insurgents.

    I recall a clip on the BBC or C4 about fighting in Sangin, where the emphasis was on the local passion for building walls around patches of land, hundreds of metres long and about 12' high. The UK Army were using demolition charges and an adapted bulldozer to reduce lengths of them. Mention was made of snipers using "murder holes".

    Earlier a post referred to the bocage of Normandy. From this "armchair" it appeared then, possibly a year ago, that the local tactical solution was very limited - as UK capabilities / resources were - and simply telling the Afghans to stop building walls - by the Afghan government - was not used.
    davidbfpo

  10. #150
    Council Member TYR's Avatar
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    Default Getting back on subject

    The Marine who made the comment probably read something about the Fire Force technique and was impressed with the technique as it pertained to that specific conflict. The Fire Force concept was a fantastic tactic given the situation at that particular time in Rhodesia. However, I honestly can’t see where moving the Rhodesian Fire Force “Concept” to Afghanistan would work. There are too many variables that create problems for implementation, the biggest one being surprise. As someone who has fought in Afghanistan, IMHO that concept could not be replicated. In a lot of instances something similar has and does take place with very poor results. The best strategy we employed were typical Light Infantry types of operations away from the FOB for 10-20 days. Inserting several elements further from the target area and maneuvering on foot using the ridge lines as a way to the target area. When we did this we had better results than flying in and dropping down on top of them or driving on the roads and getting IED'd. Again just my opinion for where I was at.
    "Soldiers who are lacking in basic training, discipline, poor leadership and inadequate command and control will not be able to win wars with technology and firepower alone. When their technology fails, they will find themselves in a vacuum they cannot easily extricate themselves from."- Eeben Barlow

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Albeit we are moving away from the original theme onto the impact of terrain and in particular cover for insurgents.

    I recall a clip on the BBC or C4 about fighting in Sangin, where the emphasis was on the local passion for building walls around patches of land, hundreds of metres long and about 12' high. The UK Army were using demolition charges and an adapted bulldozer to reduce lengths of them. Mention was made of snipers using "murder holes".

    Earlier a post referred to the bocage of Normandy. From this "armchair" it appeared then, possibly a year ago, that the local tactical solution was very limited - as UK capabilities / resources were - and simply telling the Afghans to stop building walls - by the Afghan government - was not used.
    Not off topic at all.

    Horizontal vision is most always more difficult than the vertical except when there is total tree cover. So it is all about that basic of basics "selecting lines of advance".

    We had three rules on fireforce,

    1. Don't sweep (approach the objective) uphill.
    2. Don't sweep (approach the objective) into the sun.
    3. Don't sweep (approach the objective) across open ground.
    The Afgan walls issue is very difficult for dismounted infantry... but a cinch for a helicopter and probably a UAV preferably armed.

    And you are correct, over time, certainly in Sangin, the combat engineers should have systematically dealt with the death trap defiles foot patrols were sucked into.

  12. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The obvious, well stated...
    OK, progress.

    So lets play the "so what" game shall we?

    So if it is difficult to see the object from the ground yet easy from the air then... so what?

    That would tell you to clear ground from the air where possible and make maximum use of air observation and CAS on the objective, yes?

    Except for the ones that pretend to be -- or are -- local farmers or who have hidey holes constructed or who can out run their pursuers. IF you have air...

    If you don't that hill mass and others like it pose a bit of a problem.
    As one of the Brit brigade commanders is on record as saying that they were forced down a certain tactical path due to lack of availability of helicopters.

    It is very sporting of the Brits to impose ridiculous rules of engagement on their troops but insane to deny them the edge in battle.

    Not sure of this but I heard that the USMC now have a 10x the helos the Brits had in Helmand. If this is so then I can't see what the problem is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    First of all they're an obstacle to vision (concealment), then they're an obstacle to projectiles (cover), then to men and finally to vehicles.
    Obstacles to aircraft and view from the air?

    An area full of obstacles can be useful and detrimental - depending on what you want to do.
    The role of the infantry is to close with and kill the enemy.

    Area control certainly becomes more difficult (unless you have OPs at an elevated position). Off-road movements become at the very least canalized - this sucks in regard to IED evasion.
    That's my point, you can dominate ground with observation (from the ground or air) and supporting fire by day and night.

    Infantry becomes canalized as well as long as the walls are too high for climbing over one every few minutes.
    And traps the troops in the "canal" if the Taleban toss a grenade over the wall.

    Bocages were in part a problem in 1944 because they were almost like prepared fighting positions for infantry (and there was enough infantry to man the positions after the first two days) and because of the mobility impairment. The former is probably not such a problem in AFG because of the low force density even in population centres.
    Its all about making the terrain work for you, I suggest. Then the other side adapts accordingly...

    Well, and finally I'm simply too tired right now. 0127 ... too late for writing an epic article full of thoughts about some specific, unique terrain. The terrain is complicated enough to lead to dozens of conclusions.
    It is the response to the terrain and how the Taleban uses it that is the critical success factor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TYR View Post
    I honestly can’t see where moving the Rhodesian Fire Force “Concept” to Afghanistan would work.
    That comment presupposes that you actually understand the fireforce concept?

    It seems that a number of those who state with certainty that it won't work don't have a working knowledge of how the fireforce worked in Rhodesia.

    Then there are those who have some or a good idea of how it works and state that the principle barrier to implementation are the ROE.

    This subject is a little like the debate over the use of armour. The detractors seem to cite the Soviet experience as why it won't work. Not sure the US armour are happy to be compared with the soviets.

  15. #155
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The role of the infantry is to close with and kill the enemy.
    I know that this is being used as role description in commonwealth countries, but it's stupid.

    "To close with and kill the enemy" is a rare mission, not the role.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    I simply posted this picture along with others to highlight what the average piece of "greenspace" in Afghanistan looks like.
    A valuable contribution to the debate, thank you.

    Typical engagements in Afghanistan aren't over the ranging veldt, they are fought from small hamlets like this; the insurgents love to scoot-and-shoot from these little greenspaces and slide back into them, caching their weapons in the fields or farm buildings and saying "no taliban here!"
    Shoot and scoot?

    And you do a GS residue test and then you got them.

    There are some Israeli tactics which could be used under these circumstances but as long as the strategy has got the pop-centric thing so completely screwed up nothing will be achieved.

    As well, those ridges in that picture are usually 4-8 feet deep and, at certain times of the year, flooded to some extent. Moving through them by foot is extremely taxing, especially with enforced loads and 50 degree heat.
    Have any Taleban ever been found hiding out in the pools of water?

    The enforced loads are self inflicted.

    I mentioned some time ago in another thread something along the lines of when as a young troop commander I spent weeks on end clearing areas of bush on foot on (I think) a 5 day out, 2 day back rotation. A young recce pilot friend of mine on being told what I had been doing stated that what had taken me 5 days to clear would take him about three hours by air.

    I still for the life of me can't see the point of patrolling over open ground. The Brits have guidelines but don't seem to apply them.

    The only other way is to create a breach with an Armoured Engineer Vehicle, which causes other problems. In the summer, the cover in most of these areas from the air is very good as the vines and trees sock in - the picture after that one clearly shows this. Aviation can quickly lose guys amongst grapehuts and pomegranate groves.
    Nobody said it would be easy, did they? You need to adapt as the situation changes. Sadly the lack of continuity is a big problem. Things seem to change fast out there. So a year or 18 months out of theatre means one has a lot of catching up to do.

    My point on helicopters is that you could fly all over the place with them, but these areas are quite condensed and most are within mortar range of some form of NATO outpost. The floodplains in Kandahar and Helmand are very small, densly populated areas - some of our training area maps are bigger than a Brigade AO in Afghanistan. "Fireforce mobility" may not be necessary here.
    Vision and firepower from the air is not an advantage? The ability to overfly the open fields and land troops on the roof of a building is not a potential advantage? Fly in stop groups to conduct a deliberate cordon and search of a village is not a valuable tool?

    Mobility is not the only factor to consider... remember flexibility and concentration of force.

    Finally, the hills in the south aren't usually much of a tactical feature - they are randomly spread about but are steep and bare of any cover. These aren't the mountains of RC(E) but rather small craggy outcroppings that pop out of the flood plain. I only saw them used twice by the insurgents; the first time a sniper picked the guy off and the second time an A-10 "moved" the guy off.
    So if you have little opportunity to observe using mark 1 eyeball then you need to consider air observation from fixed wing/rotary/UAV more seriously, IMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I know that this is being used as role description in commonwealth countries, but it's stupid.

    "To close with and kill the enemy" is a rare mission, not the role.
    You say:

    "The infantry's tasks are therefore almost all of those (line-of-sight) combat missions which can better be accomplished dismounted than mounted."
    Care to provide some examples?

    The Canadian Infantry Battalion in Battle has the following:

    ROLE

    6. The role of the infantry is to close with and destroy the enemy.

    7. Well armed individuals with fighting spirit and dogged determination constitute the backbone of the infantry battalion. All the rest - vehicles, stores and equipment - merely exist to assist the infantry soldier to carry out the mission. It is by determination and the skillful use of weapons and ground that the battalion succeeds in battle.

    TASKS

    8. The infantry battalion may be assigned the following tasks:
    a. to destroy the enemy in close combat;
    b. to defend a position by the holding of ground;
    c. to fight as covering force troops;
    d. to act as all or part of a reserve to counter-attack or block;
    e. to participate in airmobile, airborne or amphibious operations;
    f. to establish surveillance and conduct patrols;
    g. to conduct security tasks, including rear area security; and
    h. to exploit the effects of NBC weapons.
    Last edited by JMA; 12-10-2010 at 08:35 PM.

  18. #158
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    6/8 tasks are not about that supposed "role" at all.


    The "role" description for infantry in commonwealth armies is mostly about morale boost, confidence or esprit de corps-building. It's useless as doctrine.
    Utterly useless.

    "To close with and destroy" isn't even the point of many infantry attacks. It's 100% obviously not relevant to tactical defence (I count counter-attacks as tactical offence, yet even counter-attacks on Coy level are often more about ground than about attrition).


    And then there's the problem that some write "kill" instead of "destroy" - which is even more stupid. It is often much easier and more desirable to take prisoners than to kill.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 12-10-2010 at 08:58 PM.

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    role (rl)
    n.
    1. also rôle A character or part played by a performer.
    2. The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual.
    3. A function or position. See Synonyms at function.
    4. Linguistics The function of a word or construction, as in a sentence.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/role


    (3) seems to apply.

    The described action is not THE role of the artillery. It's merely one niche activity that serves a function.

  20. #160
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The Magic Wand

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    OK, progress.
    Where? I missed it...
    That would tell you to clear ground from the air where possible and make maximum use of air observation and CAS on the objective, yes?
    Yes. If you have that support available. Not always the case.
    Not sure of this but I heard that the USMC now have a 10x the helos the Brits had in Helmand. If this is so then I can't see what the problem is.
    Numbers prove little. The Marines also have considerably more troops there and a much heavier support package (which uses more aircraft...). Thus the aircraft : troop ratio may not be much changed. In any event, the raw number of helicopters is slightly important, when, where and how they're used is far more important...

    And we do not know those things.

    If:
    The role of the infantry is to close with and kill the enemy.
    they're probably going to have to do that on foot. With or without air support.

    As an aside, that described task is not the role, it is one of many tasks that Infantry perform. Saying it's the 'role' is good propaganda and psychological preparation of the Troops (some believe. The Troops don't...) but little else. That's why Armies say it's the role -- not because that's the reality today.

    Air observation is handy, no question -- it also does not give the total picture of the ground from the perspective of a rifle platoon. No question CAS is helpful and solves many knotty tactical problems but it's not always available or usable. Even when available in quantity, neither of those things make much difference when two opposing ground elements close on each other.

    If everyone just had your magic wand and all the answers, life and combat would be simple...

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