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Thread: Back to Basics…The Lost Art of Basic Combat Fundamentals

  1. #141
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I suggest that supposed improvements may not be as valuable as made out.
    So PRR and Weapons optics? Most of the toys given to the Infantry in the last 10 years are crap, BUT the two that have proven winners again and again are PRR and Weapons optics. A x 4 sight is, IMO, essential, or at least the option to mount a magnifier.
    PRR is an absolute winner, used correctly, so leaving it switched off when it's not needed. Yes, headset design is an issue, but everyone I know who have used them, trade hearing in one hear for a greater level of command effectiveness.
    PRR makes things like Jungle Snap Ambush an absolute doddle.
    Talking to instructors down at the IDF Urban Operations centre, they really want a PRR of some sort.
    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

  2. #142
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    The problem with the conduct of tactical operations, certainly in Helmand, is that a large number of them take place in what is effectively a medium density minefield. The issue then arises when under contact does one
    • Close with and kill the enemy?
    • Manoeuvre hard fast and aggressively into depth?


    Or does one try to do either of the above while remaining in the cleared lane? Where does the balance of risk lie? My gut feel is that certainly Brit commanders in Helmand are very aware that if they manoeuvre outside of the cleared lane and take casualties then they will be held accountable in a Coroner's Court.

    As for the hearing issue, certainly we recognise that for various reasons troops on the ground are having difficulty identifying firing points and more training emphasis is being directed that way. However I would point out that not only do we have radio input in one ear, but hearing defence (albeit technically sophisticated and personally moulded to fit!) is mandatory. Seems barking, but no hearing defence and we would lose most of our SNCOs and field grade officers as their hearing would be shot to pieces. Another example of the unforseen consequences of the enroachment of civil legislation into military operations.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  3. #143
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    My gut feel is that certainly Brit commanders in Helmand are very aware that if they manoeuvre outside of the cleared lane and take casualties then they will be held accountable in a Coroner's Court.
    If you consider the Coroners opinion bears on the conduct of Combat Operations you should be relieved of command. No buts, ifs, or maybe, unless to consider that opinion has been handed down as guidance by CGS or similar.
    .....but no hearing defence and we would lose most of our SNCOs and field grade officers as their hearing would be shot to pieces. Another example of the unforseen consequences of the enroachment of civil legislation into military operations.
    Really? No former SOG 1-0 I ever met was hard of hearing and I doubt JMA, Ken White, Gian Gentile, Reed Dyer or any of the other guys with high time in combat are either. If so, then a pull a percentage disability based on testing. Do we stop parachuting because we may have to pay out?

    Rat Mate, I think we have to separate the real issues from the worthless excuses.
    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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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    We've got numerous NCOs from the 2006 fighting season who are now wearing hearing aids.

    Surefire issues an excellent ear plug that fits in the ear and still allows you to hear ambient noise and talking quite well. I didn't wear them all the time (ie night patrols) but I put them in ahead of time on certain occasions where my ears would need some protection.

  5. #145
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    We've got numerous NCOs from the 2006 fighting season who are now wearing hearing aids.

    Surefire issues an excellent ear plug that fits in the ear and still allows you to hear ambient noise and talking quite well. I didn't wear them all the time (ie night patrols) but I put them in ahead of time on certain occasions where my ears would need some protection.
    There's actually hearing protection available that includes headset functions and can improve your hearing above its natural limits.

  6. #146
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Wilf mate,

    Coroners' Court. It is not so much the Coroners' Opinion but the legal liability that is at issue. The fact of the matter is that the army is unsure of the legal consequences and of where culpability lies if (for instance) a commander took risk to exploit a situation, moved outside of the cleared lane and took casualties. That issue will not be cleared up until those circumstances come up to a court. Now it is not having a direct effect, but it is having an indirect effect on how commanders operate. Play safe and be okay, or take risk and get hammered?

    Plus pre-deployment training concentrates heavily on getting the TTPs right. There is neither the time nor the resources to extend training into the imponderables of risk taking (and in today's litigious times, risk quantifying and then justifying). With training focusing on getting the TTPs right and not getting in to the 'when not to apply them' that again tends to reinforce inclinations not to step outside the lane as it is 'wrong'.

    Having not deployed recently to Afghanistan I am not in a position to see how much an effect this is having. It is not black and white and different commanders will have different attitudes to risk and different AOs will also have different risk levels; but there is a feeling that uncertainty about how much risk commanders can (legally) take is having some effect on how they operate.

    The perception of adverse legal consequences for doing one's best in the heat of the moment can have a powerful effect, as witnessed by the cases of Trooper Williams case from Iraq (BBC Trooper Williams and the Private Clegg case from Northern Ireland (Wikipedia Lee Clegg both of which caused a great deal of alarm, speculation and unwillingness to take risk - especially among junior soldiers. I believe there is a case of manslaughter still due in the courts which relates to an incident in Afghanistan.

    Hearing. As for hearing, in 2007 some 40% of the regular army infantry SNCO cohort were judged likely to be unfit to deploy due to hearing issues. This was based on some studies of hearing issues in units and then extrapolated across the wider piece. It is what drove the sudden enhancement in ear defence issued in the UK army. I know that this 40% rate was reflected in my company, almost exclusively among those with 12 years and plus service and who either failed or were 'at risk' in their mandatory pre-deployment hearing tests . I had to sign off, mitigate or body swerve hearing issues among a large number of my SNCOs. I failed my last medical on hearing. I am most certainly not deaf and do not have a discernible hearing problem - but until the docs clarify whether the machine was broken, I was sleeping in the sound booth (it was after lunch on a gorgeous summer's afternoon ), I had an ear infection or I really am deaf in my left ear then I am strictly limited in where I can go. Personally I think the hearing tests are too rigorous, but they are based on Health and Safety legislation and levels that are common across all employments (our bandsmen now have to wear hearing protection when in band practice...). And yes, as Fuchs and Infanteer point out there is some excellent active hearing protection out there.

    I don't necessarily agree with any of it, but it is out there.

    PS: Can you speak up next time?
    Last edited by Red Rat; 11-19-2010 at 04:11 PM.
    RR

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  7. #147
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    There's actually hearing protection available that includes headset functions and can improve your hearing above its natural limits.
    Yes - Peltor is one of the leader is that. Problem is it is relatively big and bulky at this time.

    As a Pl Comd, I had my PRR (Pl Net) on one ear, some hearing protection in the other ear and my MBITR with Coy net attached to a hand-mike. There is a PRR that allows you to plug into the radio and recieve/transmit on both nets through the PRR headset, but I couldn't get it to work and found it wasn't very good when I could get it to work.

    The Gold Standard to aim for would be two ear buds that provide hearing protection from blast/loud noises, amplify ambient sound, and each one can receive a network (with a very low-profile mike to transmit). Oh yeah, it's got to be robust enough to take a beating in the field. Scientists - get to work!

  8. #148
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    In the old days when I was XO of an eight-inch howitzer battery I kept an earplug in my left ear and put my index finger in my right ear when we fired. I needed to be able to hear the fire commands from the FDC on the speakers, which I couldn't when both earplugs were used. After a while you get an intuition about changes in quadrant and deflection that seem to be in error.

  9. #149
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Wilf mate,

    Coroners' Court. It is not so much the Coroners' Opinion but the legal liability that is at issue. The fact of the matter is that the army is unsure of the legal consequences and of where culpability lies if (for instance) a commander took risk to exploit a situation, moved outside of the cleared lane and took casualties. That issue will not be cleared up until those circumstances come up to a court. Now it is not having a direct effect, but it is having an indirect effect on how commanders operate. Play safe and be okay, or take risk and get hammered?
    Sorry mate, this is b*llocks. The Coroner has no military training and is not equipped to second guess military action, or advise to it. If any Coroner is having any bearing on operations, the Commanders need sacking. It's a disgrace. Are COs going to be charged with negligence when one of their men gets shot by the enemy?
    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

  10. #150
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sorry mate, this is b*llocks.
    Agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    The Coroner has no military training and is not equipped to second guess military action, or advise to it.
    Agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If any Coroner is having any bearing on operations, the Commanders need sacking. It's a disgrace.
    I personally do not think there is yet a direct influence, less the increasing tendency to rely on physical protection measures which I have alluded to in threads elsewhere. But my gut feel is that there may well be a degree of 'box ticking' mentality going on at certain levels. Apocryphally some COs are very very 'safe', (check all boxes and do not pass go unless arse is covered) and others less so. The phrase I have heard used is that we 'have to be wary that we are not breeding a generation of risk averse commanders'.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Are COs going to be charged with negligence when one of their men gets shot by the enemy?
    And that is the million dollar question! I very much doubt it, but there may well have to be a test case at some point to settle the matter.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  11. #151
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking The other Mothers are the problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Really? No former SOG 1-0 I ever met was hard of hearing and I doubt JMA, Ken White, Gian Gentile, Reed Dyer or any of the other guys with high time in combat are either. If so, then a pull a percentage disability based on testing.
    Ummm, I can't speak for those others but my third and still more powerful set of Hearing Aids and those of my many contemporaneous former serving friends suggest you may be slightly over optimistic on that score. It's the cumulative effect that gets you, thus his older Officers and NCOs. The explosive and firearms noise are a minor problem but turbines and engines contribute far more nowadays...
    Do we stop parachuting because we may have to pay out?
    No, we pay out to keep people parachuting in spite of a loss every now and then.
    Rat Mate, I think we have to separate the real issues from the worthless excuses.
    I agree but what is worthless in your eyes or mine are not in the eyes of politicians and the western variety of that species is perhaps way too attuned to the Mothers of the world...

  12. #152
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    but what is worthless in your eyes or mine are not in the eyes of politicians and the western variety of that species is perhaps way too attuned to the Mothers of the world...
    Concur.

    An exacerbating factor which came up in some papers last week in the UK was the increasing isolation that the Armed Forces in the UK and the Army in particular are experiencing within the UK. No where is this most acutely felt then in those involved in dismounted close combat (DCC). The reality is that the armed forces are very small compared to society at large and are about to get smaller. The percentage of he armed forces involved in DCC is also small compared to the overall size of the armed forces. This means that in terms of understanding DCC as a process, as a job and just as importantly as an experience, there is simply not that capability within society at large (whereas previously with WW1 and WW2 veterans most households had exposure to armed forces experience and if not directly then indirectly to DCC experience).

    What does that mean? It means that increasingly society expects our politicians to look after us in ways that they understand and can relate to, and for us to operate in ways that they can understand and relate to. It is not just a legislative thing, but a cultural thing. That can translate into both top down pressure and sidewards pressure on the armed forces.

    I think things would change if we were in a major conflict and the public felt threatened, but we are not and so instead of the 60-80% 'good enough' solution there is a lot of pressure for the 95% 'as safe as possible' solution.
    RR

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  13. #153
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    All I know about the British county coroner investigations into the deaths of military personnel overseas is what I've read in The Times and Daily Telegraph. There seems to have been a lot of hindsight in saying that a soldier should have been issued the new-model body armor instead of an older version, or that years ago MOD should have replaced Snatch Land Rovers with more heavily armored vehicles. I doubt that these inquests have led to explicit restrictions on the operations of units in active theaters, but there may be unspoken nuance type of things that senior officers have inferred or read into the guidance they receive from MOD. There wouldn't have been enough coroners in all of Britain to conduct these kinds of inquests during the two world wars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sorry mate, this is b*llocks. The Coroner has no military training and is not equipped to second guess military action, or advise to it. If any Coroner is having any bearing on operations, the Commanders need sacking. It's a disgrace. Are COs going to be charged with negligence when one of their men gets shot by the enemy?
    This is why the Brits should review the advisability of sending "fish and chip" units to Afghanistan. (In fact why have them at all in the current climate of budget cuts)

    "Fish and chip" units on short tours are a recipe for disaster.
    Last edited by JMA; 11-20-2010 at 01:20 AM.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Well, JMA, it can truthfully be said you're never at a loss for an opinion. As soon as the first rustle of noise is heard outside your perimeter the Claymores are detonated, the MGs open up, and the artillery is requested to fire battery three rounds. God knows what would happen if B-52s were at your beck and call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    No former SOG 1-0 I ever met was hard of hearing and I doubt JMA, Ken White, Gian Gentile, Reed Dyer or any of the other guys with high time in combat are either. If so, then a pull a percentage disability based on testing. Do we stop parachuting because we may have to pay out?
    At 57 have some issues in a crowd and am told I put the TV on too loud. Other than that I try to point my good ear (the right one) to the sounds I really want to hear.

    The question is really at what percentage of hearing loss does one become operationally impaired.

    I am surprised about this attitude from the Brit (Health and Safety nazis) because they seem quite happy to allow one ear to be effectively closed off with a radio earpiece.

    Also if one is visually impaired the wearing of glasses is permitted so what exactly is the problem?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Well, JMA, it can truthfully be said you're never at a loss for an opinion. As soon as the first rustle of noise is heard outside your perimeter the Claymores are detonated, the MGs open up, and the artillery is requested to fire battery three rounds. God knows what would happen if B-52s were at your beck and call.
    Well Pete you know what they say about opinions...

    As to the rest I learned from the yanks who came out to Rhodesia that the NVA sappers would create a few rustles outside the wire in the hope that you would give away the positions of your MGs and maybe even fire off your claymores. Don't need to fall for that.

    Well if I had had B-52s on call Mugabe would still be sitting in exile with the few surviving remnants of his forces.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Change of subject -- did G.I.s in Korea and Vietnam really make range cards for their MGs, with left and right limits with the terrain sketched in, or was it just point and shoot? I'm trying to sort out the infantry things that are really important versus the things that the manuals say are important that few guys actually do. When I was in the artillery a first sergeant used to say before ARTEPs that he'd do the range cards; it was then a skill that circa 1980 wasn't taught, even though it was in the tech and field manuals.

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    Default No doubt

    from JMA
    Well if I had had B-52s on call Mugabe would still be sitting in exile with the few surviving remnants of his forces.
    playing liars' poker with Vo Nguyen Giap and Tran Van Tra.

    Bad typing hand; bad typing hand.

    Cheers

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes in Korea, no in Viet Nam in my observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Change of subject -- did G.I.s in Korea and Vietnam really make range cards for their MGs...
    Though I sure didn't see all units in either war even with more than one tour in 'em. Due to the nature of the wars, range cards in Korea only appeared after the lines stabilized. Turnover in Viet Nam and few set piece defenses led to no seeming pressing need.
    I'm trying to sort out the infantry things that are really important versus the things that the manuals say are important that few guys actually do.
    Good luck with that. You can get five Infantrymen sitting around talking and get five different opinions, all based on their varied experiences in varied wars.

    Generally speaking, the books from the 50s and 60s are the best for giving a what's important in conventional operations, mid 60s for COIN. Most 70s through 90s stuff is poor though there a few exceptions -- the 1984 edition of FM 21-75 is the best yet and a Troop really conversant with it would be a fairly well trained infantryman. The '93 edition of FM 21-26 was the best ever.
    When I was in the artillery a first sergeant used to say before ARTEPs that he'd do the range cards; it was then a skill that circa 1980 wasn't taught, even though it was in the tech and field manuals.
    What is taught has little bearing on what is important. Check the books and it's all in them, a lot is not taught for three prime reasons. In order (1) If it produces a low 'Go' rate and makes the trainers look incompetent. Makes no difference if it's a task or knowledge proven to have a slow learn rate. (2) If it entails a lot of hard work on the part of the trainers. (3) If it takes an inordinate amount of time, thus limiting details and impacting other training events deemed more important.

    MG range cards fail to make the cut for institutional training on points 1 and 3. They get tabbed out for 'Unit Training' -- where they generally don't get taught due to such important things as Rape Prevention training, an occasional review or parade, family day or such like. Not a big problem, we don't defend very well in any event...

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