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Thread: Adapting Equipment to the Reality of the Battlefield

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Default Adapting Equipment to the Reality of the Battlefield

    In small wars and insurgencies, shock is achieved not through firepower and mass movement, but through surprise and pinpoint accuracy. As mass movement continues to dominate the operational and minor tactical thinking of Western defence staffs, success against insurgents is far from being within our reach.

    In my opinion, the requirement for pinpoint accuracy - usually at ranges beyond 700 yards - vs. firepower, casts serious doubt on the value of assault rifles. Although designed to be as accurate as a rifle while providing the firepower of a light machine gun, they are only efficient against an adjacent, relatively fixed enemy; and insurgents are anything but. The assault rifle is ideal for HIC. But weapons have to be adapted to the reality of the battlefield.

    The U.S. M21 Sniper System seems perfectly suited as a counter-insurgency, shoot and scoot, weapon. Of course, the generalization of the employment of what has previously been a specialized weapon, requires not only marksmanship, but also radical operational and tactical changes. The M21 is useless as a replacement for the assault rifle unless we gain the initiative against insurgents. And ambushing the ambushers is far from being an easy task.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Trust me, there are times when having that M240 7.62mm belt fed is more then just nice! Not always, but the last thing you want to be here is outgunned, and PKCs are routinely part of AIF kit. As fo rthe M4 and AK, same thing. If I could get a nice package of 7.62 or maybe even something slightly smaller fit into a rifle as good as the M4, I'd be on it like stink on a monkey. Lots of close fights here. Sniper rifles are a good part of the kit that rounds it out, but even our snipers are shooting around the 300 mark allot. Put a 4X32 ACOG on a M4 and you have a nice COIN rifle. A typical OPAL carrying 3-4 AIF will have an AK-47, a PKC (med MG), a RPK (think LMG or SAW), and a RPG launcher w/2-3 rockets. Call it an AIF Fire Team.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-09-2007 at 02:39 PM.

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Well, both American and Canadian troops are, in increasing numbers, using more compact assault rifles (and you mention the short-barreled - and thus less accurate at longer ranges - M4 (US)/Diemaco C8 (CAN) assault carbine). Although easier to use in confined spaces, and thus ideally suited for urban terrain, the assault carbines are not as accurate as other assault rifles.

    In Europe and Israel we see a different trend. The design of new assault rifles recognizes the need for accuracy via the almost universal adoption of the bullpup firearm configuration (see the TAR-21). By placing the mechanism and the magazine behind the trigger, close to the shoulder, trajectory and accuracy are greatly improved. The bullpup system has been pioneered in the 1970s by the Austrian Steyr AUG (arguably the best performing and the most expensive assault rifle in the world) and by the French FAMAS.

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    Default Off topic, but

    I couldn't help noticing in Rob Thornton's post that even the insurgents have to use combined arms. If the fundamentals don't change in Iraq, they don't change anywhere. . . .

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
    I couldn't help noticing in Rob Thornton's post that even the insurgents have to use combined arms. If the fundamentals don't change in Iraq, they don't change anywhere. . . .
    See this thread for some discussion along these lines. I'm a CW convert (was all along, but hadn't seen that name before...).

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    When I was at SOI, all our instructors were Iraq veterans. They mostly were big M4 believers and told us that we would probably never get into a gunfight beyond 100 meters in Iraq, and maybe not even over 50m.

    Other bullpup adopting countries include Australia with the AUG, the Brits of course with their troubled L85A1/SA80, the Singaporeans, and even the Iranians and Chinese.

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    The most exhaustive book I've read on the tactics of Iraqi guerrilla is Militant Tricks, Battlefield Ruses of the Islamic Insurgent written by John Poole...

    Rob, I'm not familiar with some of the acronyms you're using: OPAL (that's either an insurgent vehicle or the Online Programming for All Libraries, AIF (could be the Adult Interactive Fiction Association or a motley crew of insurgents with different religious and ethnic backgrounds?)
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    When I was at SOI, all our instructors were Iraq veterans. They mostly were big M4 believers and told us that we would probably never get into a gunfight beyond 100 meters in Iraq, and maybe not even over 50m.

    Other bullpup adopting countries include Australia with the AUG, the Brits of course with their troubled L85A1/SA80, the Singaporeans, and even the Iranians and Chinese.
    Why do you think they never got into a gunfight beyond 50-100 meters?
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Poole Oriented on Hizballah

    The most exhaustive book I've read on the tactics of Iraqi guerrilla is Militant Tricks, Battlefield Ruses of the Islamic Insurgent written by John Poole...
    Poole's book is heavy on Hizballah and extrapolates from there; most of what I have seen does not translate to Iraq but better fits Taliban in Afghanistan, That said, the book is again Hizballah-centric.


    You can see my and others review of it on SWJ at http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ighlight=Poole

    Best
    Tom

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Poole's book is heavy on Hizballah and extrapolates from there; most of what I have seen does not translate to Iraq but better fits Taliban in Afghanistan, That said, the book is again Hizballah-centric.


    You can see my and others review of it on SWJ at http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ighlight=Poole

    Best
    Tom
    Tom, you might be confusing Militant Tricks with Tactics of the Crescent Moon: different books, different content.
    Last edited by Monte Cristo; 01-09-2007 at 07:59 PM.
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default Possible answers to why the desire for closer engagements

    My assumption is that the insurgents want to engage as close-in as possible to mitigate our units support from Arty or Air assets. Plus, the closer you are the less the advantage goes to the better trained marksmen. At least in the U.S., our law enforcement gunfight survival stats sky rocket the farther the engagement distance. A lucky shot from a rusty .38 will kill you just as dead as one from well maintained Sig. They are probably trying to get in close for short engagements and then breaking off before any reaction forces can intervene.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    "Grabbing the belt" was the term used for this technique in Vietnam (if not sooner). It's very common with just about any adversary facing US firepower.

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bismark17 View Post
    My assumption is that the insurgents want to engage as close-in as possible to mitigate our units support from Arty or Air assets. Plus, the closer you are the less the advantage goes to the better trained marksmen. At least in the U.S., our law enforcement gunfight survival stats sky rocket the farther the engagement distance. A lucky shot from a rusty .38 will kill you just as dead as one from well maintained Sig. They are probably trying to get in close for short engagements and then breaking off before any reaction forces can intervene.
    You're bang on, Bismarck. And if I may link your reply to my previous posts, let me just say (or rather write) that by adapting our equipment to their tactics, we're playing right into their hands.
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    "Grabbing the belt" was the term used for this technique in Vietnam (if not sooner). It's very common with just about any adversary facing US firepower.
    With the risk of annoying Tom , I have to mention Poole again: I believe he wrote extensively about the technique in Phantom Soldier, the Enemy's Answer to U.S. Firepower...
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default The Chechens...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    "Grabbing the belt" was the term used for this technique in Vietnam (if not sooner). It's very common with just about any adversary facing US firepower.
    ... used "hugging" techniques to negate Russian conventional capabilities.

    Tim Thomas - Summer 1999 editon of Parameters:

    Russian forces tried to counter Chechen ambush tactics by using a technique called "baiting," in which they would send out contact teams to find Chechen ambushes. In turn, the Chechens used a technique called "hugging," getting very close to Russian forces. This technique eliminated the Russian use of artillery in many cases, and it exposed baiting tactics.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cristo View Post
    With the risk of annoying Tom , I have to mention Poole again: I believe he wrote extensively about the technique in Phantom Soldier, the Enemy's Answer to U.S. Firepower...
    And Poole's commentary was nothing new. Infantry magazine, for one, had been writing about it during the mid-1960s, and I've also seen it mentioned in literature concerning both the Pacific Theater in WW2 (although not with that name) and Korea.

    It's actually a very old concept that over the decades and centuries has been refined into what you see today.

    One of Poole's strengths (and weaknesses) is that he's a great synthesizer and compiler of writing that exists in a wide variety of sources. If you don't know all the background, it's at times easy to mistake some of his compiled stuff for original work. Doesn't lessen his value at all, but it's something to be aware of when looking at his more recent stuff.

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    One of Poole's strengths (and weaknesses) is that he's a great synthesizer and compiler of writing that exists in a wide variety of sources.
    I think that's called research...a common practice in the academic world.
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cristo View Post
    I think that's called research...a common practice in the academic world.
    No, that's not called research. What he does is compile information. There is a difference between the two. Research is used to support, draw, or validate an original conclusion. What Poole tends to do is present the research in raw form, which when published is typically called compiling.

    As I said before, there's nothing wrong with what he does. It's just important to understand what it is and what it is not. He provides great training aids and sources of information that might otherwise be missed.

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    Council Member Monte Cristo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    No, that's not called research. What he does is compile information. There is a difference between the two. Research is used to support, draw, or validate an original conclusion. What Poole tends to do is present the research in raw form, which when published is typically called compiling.
    Steve, are you trying to lure me into the semantic maze of circular logic?
    Last edited by Monte Cristo; 01-09-2007 at 11:56 PM.
    Second Lieutenant G. Gabriel Serbu
    "In war, as in art, there are no general rules. In neither can talent be replaced by precept." von Moltke

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cristo View Post
    Steve, are you trying to lure me into the semantic maze of circular logic?
    Not at all. I just have an odd thing about being precise with terms like that. A bit of an academic hang-up, I'm afraid.

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