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Thread: An Airborne Expeditionary Unit?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    I don't know about the logistics of supplying a brigade from the air but people more experienced than me don't see it as a problem if the aircraft are available. Does the Berlin Airlift not provide any lessons?
    There are actually some pretty good numbers on this. The really efficient and effective method is to have a strip that wide body cargo jets (747 or similar) can operate off and the cargo handling kit to unload them.

    see here
    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2005-02.pdf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman
    I don't know about the logistics of supplying a brigade from the air but people more experienced than me don't see it as a problem if the aircraft are available. Does the Berlin Airlift not provide any lessons?
    Army and Joint Doctrine on Airborne ops has addressed that issue clearly since the period of the Berlin Airlift. And we've long had the capability. Simply put, the preferred method to supply the troops that have taken the airfield being landing of supplies by aircraft, with airdropping supplies being the alternative.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Ken, I normally agree with a lot of the things you post but I have to say that I totally disagree with you on this one. First of all, cutting the funding and resourcing of the three Ranger Battalions and redistributing it to rest of the infantry battalions isn't going to make that much of a difference and it is just going to dilute those resources. Second, some of the assets and equipment that the Ranger Battalions have is only available in finite amounts so you are either left with diluting it to uselessness or going back to concentrating it into a few chosen units. Third, the Ranger Battalions have one thing that will always give them an advantage, let's call it exclusivity for lack of a better word. To be in the Ranger Battalions you have to pass Basic, AIT, Airborne, RIP and still maintain an extremely high standard each and every day. To be in a regular infantry battalion you have to pass Basic, AIT and not be convicted of a felony. In the Ranger Battalions if you have a weak link then you get rid of him, period. In the regular infantry, if you have weak link then you have a weak link. If it is a Joe you will eat up hours and hours with counseling, retraining, "rehabilitative transfers," nonjudicial punishment, more counseling, multiple trips to JAG and finally, if you are lucky you can chapter him out or push him to S and T platoon. If it is an NCO then you might be able to get him pushed to a staff job but more often then not you will just have to work around him. I was in the infantry for seven years before joining the Special Forces. There are a lot or really good guys in the regular infantry who would probably do well in the Ranger Battalions but there are also a lot who would never make it and I am not just talking about the sh*tbags who need to be booted out, I am talking about otherwise good guys who are just not quite up to Ranger Battalion standards. In Ranger Battalion you don't have the guys who just joined for the college money or because 11B happened to have the best bonus. You don't have the guys who discovered that joining the Army was a bad idea for them and they are now just riding out their time. You don't get the guys who can quote verbatim from AR670-1 and always have perfect uniforms but couldn't lead fat people to a doughnut shop. Most of those guys will never even try to go to Batt and those that do either won't make it or won't last long. One of the SOF truths is that "You cannot mass produce SF." This is absolutely true. You cannot bring everyone up to the same standard as the elite few. If you were to try to bring up all the infantry battalions to the same standards as the Rangers, ignoring the resource shortfalls, you are still going to find that either A) you weed out your units to the point where they are seriously undermanned or B) you will have to lower the standard. I know that it sounds like I am bagging on the regular infantry but I am not. I believe that our light infantry is the best in the world but that does not mean that they all can be as elite as the Rangers.

    I'm inclined to think the SF Gps should revert to the Army

    No, NO, NO, hell no, *$#@ NO. You do that and Group will be gutted and misused and its budget and resources raided. The mistrust and outright animosity by many big Army commanders is palpable. Ask any SF guy who joined SF out of the 82nd how he was treated after he informed his chain of command that he was going to selection and you will probably hear a story reminicent of how lepers used to be treated. Having said that, SOCOM is not ideal either, dominated as it is by JSOC guys but it is better than the alternative.

    SFC W

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default S'Okay, we can disagree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Ken, I normally agree with a lot of the things you post but I have to say that I totally disagree with you on this one. First of all, cutting the funding and resourcing of the three Ranger Battalions and redistributing it to rest of the infantry battalions isn't going to make that much of a difference and it is just going to dilute those resources.
    Possibly different perspectives at work here; I retired with 27 years 2 years after 1st Batt formed so all the things they were supposed to do for over 25 years of my time in, the two less well resourced and trained Abn Divs provided the muscle for -- acceptably, I believe.

    ... Second, some of the assets and equipment that the Ranger Battalions have is only available in finite amounts so you are either left with diluting it to uselessness or going back to concentrating it into a few chosen units.
    True and as I mentioned, that was one of the prime drivers in their formation. Some of the stuff they have for the msn of a few years ago isn't getting much use now, is it?

    My experience with mechanical stuff is that if you don't use it tends to break down...

    The non-mechanical stuff? Most, not all, of that is already in most infantry units, is it not?

    ...Third, the Ranger Battalions have one thing that will always give them an advantage, let's call it exclusivity for lack of a better word. To be in the Ranger Battalions you have to pass Basic, AIT, Airborne, RIP and still maintain an extremely high standard each and every day. To be in a regular infantry battalion you have to pass Basic, AIT and not be convicted of a felony. In the Ranger Battalions if you have a weak link then you get rid of him, period. In the regular infantry, if you have weak link then you have a weak link. If it is a Joe you will eat up hours and hours with counseling, retraining, "rehabilitative transfers," nonjudicial punishment, more counseling, multiple trips to JAG and finally, if you are lucky you can chapter him out or push him to S and T platoon. If it is an NCO then you might be able to get him pushed to a staff job but more often then not you will just have to work around him. I was in the infantry for seven years before joining the Special Forces. There are a lot or really good guys in the regular infantry who would probably do well in the Ranger Battalions but there are also a lot who would never make it and I am not just talking about the sh*tbags who need to be booted out, I am talking about otherwise good guys who are just not quite up to Ranger Battalion standards. In Ranger Battalion you don't have the guys who just joined for the college money or because 11B happened to have the best bonus. You don't have the guys who discovered that joining the Army was a bad idea for them and they are now just riding out their time. You don't get the guys who can quote verbatim from AR670-1 and always have perfect uniforms but couldn't lead fat people to a doughnut shop. Most of those guys will never even try to go to Batt and those that do either won't make it or won't last long.
    All true. You take what the pipeline provides and you train it and make it work. It ain't easy, it's often a pain -- but anyone who spends excess time with his slugs instead of training his good people is not doing it right IMO. Been there, done that -- and in my recollection it was not as bad as you seem to recall. I'd also suggest that easily getting rid of problem children is an easy way to be 'elite.' Nobody ever said leadership was easy...

    We are still not training Infantrymen properly or adequately and, last time I knew, both BNOC and ANCOC were pretty sad. My contention is that Infantry Battalions are now better trained than they ever have been -- but we can still do better; that's all.

    ... One of the SOF truths is that "You cannot mass produce SF." This is absolutely true....
    True -- and if you'll recall, I've said that here a couple of times. Nor do I suggest that SF doesn't need to exist.

    ...You cannot bring everyone up to the same standard as the elite few. If you were to try to bring up all the infantry battalions to the same standards as the Rangers, ignoring the resource shortfalls, you are still going to find that either A) you weed out your units to the point where they are seriously undermanned or B) you will have to lower the standard. I know that it sounds like I am bagging on the regular infantry but I am not. I believe that our light infantry is the best in the world but that does not mean that they all can be as elite as the Rangers.
    I don't believe I said that they could be as 'elite' as the Rangers; I did say that IMO, the Regiment was unnecessary (and that is partly based on today's missions) -- I don't think those two things are quite the same thing. There is such a thing as over training -- and also overkill...

    Best is the enemy of good enough (as the old saying goes...).

    No, NO, NO, hell no, *$#@ NO. You do that and Group will be gutted and misused and its budget and resources raided. The mistrust and outright animosity by many big Army commanders is palpable. Ask any SF guy who joined SF out of the 82nd how he was treated after he informed his chain of command that he was going to selection and you will probably hear a story reminicent of how lepers used to be treated. Having said that, SOCOM is not ideal either, dominated as it is by JSOC guys but it is better than the alternative.

    SFC W
    Hmm. Don't recollect the 77th having much problem with that back in my day. Biggest bitch was having to wear Unassigned brass and having Teal Blue Guidons...

    And the Beret, didn't have that then either. Long before Bill Ruddy got to put his on JFK's grave..

    I'm fully aware of how the Smoke Bomb Hill and Gela Street view each other, lived on both. Gruber Road does not connect them, nor does Ardennes...

    You can ask anyone who's ever left the Eighty Twice for a potentially greener pasture (no pun intended) anywhere aside from SF and that attitude's pretty much the same. You can also ask anyone who left Group of his own volition how he was treated when he announced that he wanted to leave...

    I'm also aware of the number of Big Army Gen-Gens who mightily distrust SF; been that way probably back to the time of the Pharoahs. Fortunately, there are always a few smart guys around who control the dumb ones. That antipathy existed back in the day but rarely hampered ops and on the odd occasion when it did, briefly, it got fixed quickly.

    As you know, there are also people in the Groups who totally despise the rest of the Army and are not shy about flinging their beret in everyone's face.

    Some fault on both sides there, I suspect. Used to be, anyway.

    I don't have any hard and fast concerns over it but I do believe that ID and UW are Army and not SOC missions. Aside from the potential budget and staffing issues, I imagine SOCOM if honest would say the same thing -- therein, I think, lies your problem, the JSOC mode will generally win and IMO, SF will lose in the long run; hope I'm wrong. We'll see...

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All true. You take what the pipeline provides and you train it and make it work. It ain't easy, it's often a pain -- but anyone who spends excess time with his slugs instead of training his good people is not doing it right IMO. Been there, done that -- and in my recollection it was not as bad as you seem to recall. I'd also suggest that easily getting rid of problem children is an easy way to be 'elite.' Nobody ever said leadership was easy...

    We are still not training Infantrymen properly or adequately and, last time I knew, both BNOC and ANCOC were pretty sad. My contention is that Infantry Battalions are now better trained than they ever have been -- but we can still do better; that's all..
    This is why we have the finest infantry in the world, but you are correct. They could absolutely be better.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    True -- and if you'll recall, I've said that here a couple of times. Nor do I suggest that SF doesn't need to exist..
    I actually meant that as it applies to Rangers as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I don't believe I said that they could be as 'elite' as the Rangers; I did say that IMO, the Regiment was unnecessary (and that is partly based on today's missions) -- I don't think those two things are quite the same thing. There is such a thing as over training -- and also overkill...

    Best is the enemy of good enough (as the old saying goes...)....
    Fair enough but I still maintain that the Rangers perform a specific mission set that requires a higher level of skill and training than is possible in a regular Army formation.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Hmm. Don't recollect the 77th having much problem with that back in my day. Biggest bitch was having to wear Unassigned brass and having Teal Blue Guidons...

    And the Beret, didn't have that then either. Long before Bill Ruddy got to put his on JFK's grave..

    I'm fully aware of how the Smoke Bomb Hill and Gela Street view each other, lived on both. Gruber Road does not connect them, nor does Ardennes... ...
    I am only 36 so I will have to take your word for that

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    You can ask anyone who's ever left the Eighty Twice for a potentially greener pasture (no pun intended) anywhere aside from SF and that attitude's pretty much the same. You can also ask anyone who left Group of his own volition how he was treated when he announced that he wanted to leave......
    I haven't honestly seen that attitude much in group but then not many leave either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm also aware of the number of Big Army Gen-Gens who mightily distrust SF; been that way probably back to the time of the Pharoahs. Fortunately, there are always a few smart guys around who control the dumb ones. That antipathy existed back in the day but rarely hampered ops and on the odd occasion when it did, briefly, it got fixed quickly.....
    My issue is not so much with the GOs who are haters. I don't deal often with them, that is why we have 18As. My issue is with the field grade officers who are haters. My experience during my last trip was that working for or around big Army is a huge pain in the ass. It got really old, dealing with all the friction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    As you know, there are also people in the Groups who totally despise the rest of the Army and are not shy about flinging their beret in everyone's face....
    Sadly true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Some fault on both sides there, I suspect. Used to be, anyway.

    I don't have any hard and fast concerns over it but I do believe that ID and UW are Army and not SOC missions. Aside from the potential budget and staffing issues, I imagine SOCOM if honest would say the same thing -- therein, I think, lies your problem, the JSOC mode will generally win and IMO, SF will lose in the long run; hope I'm wrong. We'll see...
    We will have to disagree on this one as well. I don't think that DA is the only SOC mission, or even the most important one. It just happens to be the most sexy. Big Army doesn't do UW at all and only does FID when forced to do so. There are a lot of things that we do these days that need to stay on the SOCOM side of the house.

    SFC W

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up And we can disagree without beiong disagreeable

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    This is why we have the finest infantry in the world, but you are correct. They could absolutely be better.
    Amen!

    Fair enough but I still maintain that the Rangers perform a specific mission set that requires a higher level of skill and training than is possible in a regular Army formation.
    I'm out, clearance long gone but my understanding is the former primary mission has gone back to where it was long ago and the new mission as I understand it I don't think is beyond a decently trained light infantry unit. Still, probably more than enough said on the subject and we can disagree a bit.

    I am only 36 so I will have to take your word for that
    It is not nice to brag...

    My issue is not so much with the GOs who are haters. I don't deal often with them, that is why we have 18As. My issue is with the field grade officers who are haters. My experience during my last trip was that working for or around big Army is a huge pain in the ass. It got really old, dealing with all the friction.
    Hear that, best solution I found was to ignore most of it and them and take subversive steps to lessen contact; exercise that old Group innovation quotient...

    We will have to disagree on this one as well. I don't think that DA is the only SOC mission, or even the most important one. It just happens to be the most sexy. Big Army doesn't do UW at all and only does FID when forced to do so...
    I'm not totally sure I agree with ID and UW being a SOCOM mission -- and I base that primarily on pure numbers required versus likely numbers available in some scenarios (Iraq being one) AND in some cases and some senses wasting a Cadillac to do a Ford job...

    You might give those two factors some thought. I do agree that the Army doesn't want to do ID or UW (either... ); to my mind the question isn't who wants to do what but how the nation is likely to be best served.

    ...There are a lot of things that we do these days that need to stay on the SOCOM side of the house.

    SFC W
    I know and I know what some of those are. There a couple that I don't think Group should be doing; Strat Recon for example is highly specialized and requires a special breed of cat. So does UW and the two are not similar missions. A really good guy can do both; problem is that even in the Groups, everyone isn't a really good guy...

    I'm just questioning whether what we're doing is the best solution. Having done most of those missions for real, I'm not convinced we're being all that smart about the allocations. Still, that's just my opinion and I certainly don't expect many to agree with me, much less everyone.

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    Somewhere further up there was the notion that aerial supply can be with commercial freighters, and the Berlin air lift also came up.

    Uh, hello! If you can fly in with a commerical transporter, you don't need a lot of combat troops for the operation. Certainly not a "Airborne Expeditionary Unit".

    And Berlin airlift was a non-contestetd ops. These days you could that with the CRAF.

    No, the question is how to supply an air mobile unit after air drop.
    Assuming that you can't drop them over the target, but only right outside the red zone, they have to have some motorisation/mechanization. At that moment the tonmile requirements explode.

    And if you can drop them right OVER the target, then it's probably some sort of more-or-less unopposed grab-the-airstrip action. Secure the objective, wait for the C-17s to arrive. Not a big logistic challenge.

    We did the numbers back then for Eurocorps and then the EU Battlegroups, and quite simply, even for a few hundred kilometers away from homebase (like accross the Med, or into Caucasus), there were not enough transporters in all of EU-land to sustain even a brigade sized mechanized combined arms formation purely from the air. No secret.

    A dash-grab-and-hold (for some time) is possible. Exactly what the Soviets had planned for, btw. Against HQ, SAM sites, missiles launch areas, &c. Possible but suicide. None of these troops were expected to be welcomed back on Red Square.

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    Spinning off some of the ideas on the Gavin's Paratroopers thread back to this one, Rifleman (drawing on Mike Sparks) and Wilf raise some pretty important points for the potential employment of Airborne Forces.

    Rifleman's reminder of Spark's proposal to mechanize (when and where appropriate) one of an Airborne Infantry Battalion's rifle companies and Wilf's thoughts on the CVR(T) in support of Abn Inf Bns form an outline of one possible way to maximize agility>surprise>shock effect during Airborne Operations. And right from the beginning, when it counts most and success or failure is immediately in the balance. While the M-113 doesn't really appeal to me, and I have doubts about the CVR(T) series (Spartan is the APC version, isn't it?), the CVR(T) may provide a most useful starting point for considering the role and types of armoured vehicles that might be useful in Airborne ops. The Scorpion CVR(T) light tanks rendered surprisingly useful service in the Falkands during a sustained land campaign, and the CVR(T) possess the added advantage of being able to be underslung some heavy-lift helicopters for short-length hauls. Scorprion of course possessed a 76mm that fired HESH - good for close support - as well as others, and Scimitar of course had a 30mm.

    Drawing on these musings, might an Airborne Expeditionary Unit profit considerably (rather than only marginally) by the possession of an organic light tank platoon as well as sufficient light APCs to mechanize a Rifle Coy, if and when deemed necessary, particularly during Airfield seizures in HIC or sustained campaigning in LIC/MIC?

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default Mechanized airborne

    If you look at the win-loss ratio of airborne ops, and consider the amount of pyric victories, large scale airborne operations rarely make much sense. I am a paratrooper, and I still feel that actual airborne ops should really be limited to reconn, raids and airfield siezures. I feel it is more important to be capable when you arrive, then to arrive quickly. Want expiditionary warfare? Buy sealift, not planes. Intelligent unit sizing and rotational readyness would do more for our ability to quickly project force globaly then light airborne armor would.
    Reed

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    If you look at the win-loss ratio of airborne ops, and consider the amount of pyric victories, large scale airborne operations rarely make much sense. I am a paratrooper, and I still feel that actual airborne ops should really be limited to reconn, raids and airfield siezures.
    Reed
    Concur. - unless you believe that there have been more successful airborne operations that amphibious ones!! - some poor folk do!

    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Drawing on these musings, might an Airborne Expeditionary Unit profit considerably (rather than only marginally) by the possession of an organic light tank platoon as well as sufficient light APCs to mechanize a Rifle Coy, if and when deemed necessary, particularly during Airfield seizures in HIC or sustained campaigning in LIC/MIC?
    CVR-T had/has massive limitations. Main armament was never stabilised and the levels of protection were near non-existent. It is a 1969 design, and has an aluminium hull. There is a version with a 90mm gun, but carries less than 20 rounds and (IIRC) can only fire while halted! - an assault gun?

    Stormer however is the 1997 version and a very capable beast. - and it could be more capable. - however the world is currently set against <20 tonne tracked APCs or AFVs for a whole raft of silly reasons.

    Partial mechanisation is a valid and respectable solution especially for COIN/LIC. However armies generally want to keep this quiet in case the accountants try and make it "the solution" versus "a solution."
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    Reed posted: If you look at the win-loss ratio of airborne ops, and consider the amount of pyric victories, large scale airborne operations rarely make much sense. I am a paratrooper, and I still feel that actual airborne ops should really be limited to reconn, raids and airfield siezures. I feel it is more important to be capable when you arrive, then to arrive quickly. Want expiditionary warfare? Buy sealift, not planes. Intelligent unit sizing and rotational readyness would do more for our ability to quickly project force globaly then light airborne armor would.
    I have been following this thread with some interest.

    Your post, Reed, captures the issue that the Army seeming has been grappling with since 1991/2 very well (and it touches on an important issue related to my research on mil change in the US Army). It does relate at least obliquely to the thread, but if this is well off topic, my apologies.

    The issue is/was that the US Army found itself in the 1990s, to use my irreverent colloquialism, ‘too light to fight, too fat to fly’, and this has been a driving concern – if not always obvious - since the first Gulf War behind the movement towards the Objective/Future force concept and, to a lesser extent, Modularization.

    As everyone remembers, the US' initial 'rapid response' to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait was to deploy the 82nd Airborne to Saudi and there was concern at the time that should the 3 Iraqi divisions on the Kuwait/Saudi border drive south that the 82nd Airborne would be little more than a ‘speed bump’. (As an ignorant outsider this seemed a bit of an overstatement to me - think airpower support but then I am easily ). By contrast, to deploy armour divisions took many months, until Oct 91 for a ‘defensive’ force and Feb/March for an offensive force. Gen Sullivan (and others ) recognized that the US was moving into an era of expeditionary ops and was concerned about the future role of the Army due to this problem. So he instigated a process of thinking through how deal with it (and other issues) through the New Louisiana Maneuvers Experiments and then the Army After Next concept studies (and the Force XXI plays at the margins vice C2 for smaller sized units that the AAN was playing with conceptually).

    The same problem emerges in Kosovo. Reportedly, the US considered inserting the 82nd Airborne into Kosovo very early but decided against doing so out of concern that the Serb military would go after them with deadly consequences for the 82nd (too light…) In contrast – again – was Task Force Hawk which demonstrated again the logistics/deployability problem (too fat...). TF Hawk was embarrassing for the Army and of course spurred Gen. Shinseki to take the bull by the horns and start the process of developing the Objective/Future force with its very tight deadlines for deployment into theatre and for combat readiness once on the ground (essentially arrive combat ready and capable). In other words, to be irreverent again, the FCS is supposed to be ‘fat enough to fight, light enough to fly’.

    So Reed's observations - as well as others - seems to me be quite relevant given the current development problems with the FCS system (or ‘system of systems’, if you will ) and underscores the problem the US Army still faces in becoming an 'expeditionary force' capable of a rapid response with combat capable forces (and I acknowledge that 'combat capable' may or even likely depend on the 'enemy' to be faced). Clearly finding a solution to the problem - if one thinks it is a problem - is very difficult.

    Anyway, thank you all for your comments on the thread, for they all have helped me make more sense of the issue/problem, thereby lifting a little bit of my fog of ignorance.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    As everyone remembers, the US' initial 'rapid response' to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait was to deploy the 82nd Airborne to Saudi and there was concern at the time that should the 3 Iraqi divisions on the Kuwait/Saudi border drive south that the 82nd Airborne would be little more than a ‘speed bump’. (As an ignorant outsider this seemed a bit of an overstatement to me - think airpower support but then I am easily ).
    true but not all of it. Remember the 101st went quickly after the 82d. The real sweaty palms issue for the first 90 days or so was a shortage of AT munitions for the platforms (fixed and rotary) in theater. Plus by the time the second month rolled around the 3 Iraqi divisions were well reinforced:

    In transitioning to the defense, Iraqi dispositions reflected Saddam's emerging strategy of deterrence. His forces soon established an echeloned defense of Kuwait and a strategic defense of Iraq, both designed to make an attacker pay dearly. By late September, the Iraqi defenses in the KTO had 22 divisions—13 light and 9 heavy. Fourteen were in the forward defenses. Ten infantry divisions defended the Saudi border and the coastline, backed by four heavy divisions immediately available as corps reserve. In addition, the Iraqis retained six Guard and two regular army divisions in the theater reserve, of which five were heavy divisions. Evidence of mobilization and training throughout Iraq suggested that more military forces would be dispatched to the KTO as soon as they were nominally ready.
    From Certain Victory written by yours truly

    Where the 82d speed bump thing really made me sweat was when I learned that the AF planners had a gleem in their eye to "take down" Iraq without putting airpower against those divisions.

    The too light to fight too fat to fly also came into play for Restore Hope. We went light when those of us who had been in Somalia said send an ACR.

    Best

    Tom

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    Tom posted: Remember the 101st went quickly after the 82d.
    You are of course correct (when are you not?). My memory is not what it used to be and I forgot about this 'reinforcement'. Thank you for your point about the AT munitions shortage.

    Tom Posted From Certain Victory written by yours truly
    I hope you get royalties, for I bought a copy to read in late May (unfortunately, I have not had time to read it yet, due to moving continents and other work commitments).

    Tom Posted: Where the 82d speed bump thing really made me sweat was when I learned that the AF planners had a gleem in their eye to "take down" Iraq without putting airpower against those divisions.
    I have not run across this (yet), so thank you for this insight.

    Tom posted: The too light to fight too fat to fly also came into play for Restore Hope. We went light when those of us who had been in Somalia said send an ACR.
    Very interesting, for I was not aware that this 'problem' was an issue in Restore Hope (but then I was not looking for it). So, again, my sincere thanks (in spite of it meaning more research! ). May I ask if you know whether this issue appeared in any of the post-op 'lessons learned' for the operation?

    Thanks!

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Tom Posted: Where the 82d speed bump thing really made me sweat was when I learned that the AF planners had a gleem in their eye to "take down" Iraq without putting airpower against those divisions.
    I have not run across this (yet), so thank you for this insight.
    Take a look at Certain Victory--it is on line at CSI Press by the way. I recounted in there an episode of getting briefed on this plan in late August in Checkmate. no royalties for active duty writers

    On the AT weapons, I work here with retired SMA Bill Gates; we talk from time to time about this period and the AT munitions shortages always comes up.

    My take on the light versus heavy issue on restore hope was there was very much a "put us in, Coach," mentality for those concerned with validating light forces after being left out in Gulf War 1, matched by a sense we did not want to start reloading tanks on ships when we had just completed the Desert Shield/Storm retrograde. The idea of loading an ACR was snuffed pretty quickly--and then resurfaced when the request for tanks came in the next spring, only to be snuffed by Les Aspin as were requests for AC130s. You won't find mention of the ACR idea; you will find much on the issue of armor and AC 130s. Remember Aspin resigned taking responsibility for saying no to the armor. What a concept!

    Tom

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Wait, wait -- I have fog...

    Lots of fog. Agree with the bulk of your first four paragraphs, though...

    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    ...The same problem emerges in Kosovo. Reportedly, the US considered inserting the 82nd Airborne into Kosovo very early but decided against doing so out of concern that the Serb military would go after them with deadly consequences for the 82nd (too light…).
    True -- but that decision was made by the Mech (Heavy) centric USAREUR. The 82d and its troops were not nearly as concerned. Was the USAREUR concern actually for Force Protection reasons or due to Heavy - Light parochiality? We'll never know but that factor cannot be summarily dismissed. In any event, I submit that was far, far more a political then a military decision. It is noteworthy that then BG R. Sanchez was the first USArEur Commander in Kosovo, that he took over a week to ford a river (to the amusement of the British and French and the chagrin of the Engineers who he forced to wait until it was 'safe') and when he finally arrived late in Kosovo discovered the 82d had LTs and SSGs out in the Villages playing Mayor and Police Chief -- and doing it well. All was quiet. His response to that? Pull them all back in and ALL patrols will henceforth have a field Grade Officer. May not have been the most stupid edict ever but it had to be in the top five. Sanchez' force (self?) protection glands apparently worked overtime.
    ... In contrast – again – was Task Force Hawk which demonstrated again the logistics/deployability problem (too fat...). TF Hawk was embarrassing for the Army...
    Not really, the Army just took one in the shorts for the good of the cause. In this case, it was a DoD / CJCS objection to Wes Clark dictating more than they wanted Wes to dictate; TF Hawk was deliberately stalled to avoid a commitment that many did not agree with.
    ...and of course spurred Gen. Shinseki to take the bull by the horns and start the process of developing the Objective/Future force with its very tight deadlines for deployment into theatre and for combat readiness once on the ground (essentially arrive combat ready and capable). In other words, to be irreverent again, the FCS is supposed to be ‘fat enough to fight, light enough to fly’.
    That was and is the dream, it won't happen but that's another story and thread...
    So Reed's observations - as well as others - seems to me be quite relevant given the current development problems with the FCS system (or ‘system of systems’, if you will ) and underscores the problem the US Army still faces in becoming an 'expeditionary force' capable of a rapid response with combat capable forces (and I acknowledge that 'combat capable' may or even likely depend on the 'enemy' to be faced). Clearly finding a solution to the problem - if one thinks it is a problem - is very difficult.
    In order; Reed may be partly correct but at this time the only way one can transport and deliver several thousand troops several thousand miles to an inland location in order to do anything, including airfield seizure (IF one is lucky enough to have such handy, might not always be one where you need to go...), is with Parachute troops. They have their uses and halfway decently trained they aren't nearly the pushover many think. Having been a Tanker, A CavGuy and an airplane Infantry type, if I were Tanking today, I worry a whole lot more about a bunch of nut case paratroopers than I would about other Tanks. You can see other Tanks at about the same time they see you -- and if you have a reach advantage on them...

    OTOH, LGOP have ruined the day of a lot of Armor over the years -- for real and not least at the NTC where an 82d rotation is the bane of the OCs existence because the Troops are all over the place in small packets and they -- and the OpFor -- cannot keep up with them...

    The development of FCS is and will remain problematic -- and, if completed, is not likely IMO to offer the panacea that some might wish. As you point out, the determinant is, as always, METT-TC. Something we forget all too often -- and that applies to when and where one uses parachute elements...

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    Ken posted: but that decision was made by the Mech (Heavy) centric USAREUR. The 82d and its troops were not nearly as concerned. Was the USAREUR concern actually for Force Protection reasons or due to Heavy - Light parochiality? We'll never know but that factor cannot be summarily dismissed. In any event, I submit that was far, far more a political then a military decision.
    The possibility of 'Heavy - Light parochiality' is an interesting observation, and one that I will have to keep a keen eye out for (it speaks to intra-service 'tribal culture'). I have no doubt that you are right that it was more a political than military decision. So far, in what is still early days in my research (I am still writing up my work on the USMC - sigh), I have only run across across a brief mention of the idea of inserting the 82nd. So there is lots in what you note for me to look for. Thank you.

    the Army just took one in the shorts for the good of the cause
    True. I realize that there was stalling going on, but I was thinking of the 'perception' of the problems that attended the deployment and the perception of many that this was the sole reason for the development of FCS (which based on my research I do not agree with - the attendant public 'embarassment' re TF Hawk was the final straw) .

    That was and is the dream, it won't happen...The development of FCS is and will remain problematic -- and, if completed, is not likely IMO to offer the panacea that some might wish.
    Agree. While I have read (can't remember where, it is somewhere in a file in a sealed box at the moment) that deployment of the armour bolstered 82nd into northern Iraq indicated that the deployment timelines and the on-the-ground quick combat readiness attached to the Future Force concept were achievable, these days the FCS as 'a dream' seems apt. There have already been a lot of compromises in the design of the platforms (so two aircraft instead of one to move) and, while it is beyond my competence to judge, there seems to be a lot of concern about combat effectiveness of the FCS as a medium weight force (even though the Brits and French are going down this road too). But as you say, that is another thread.

    transport and deliver several thousand troops several thousand miles to an inland location in order to do anything
    This is a dilemma, for sure. I take your point, though, that airborne forces may not be the push over some think (not least as it conforms with my initial ill-informed default assumption ).

    Thanks.

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    Default Certain Victory

    Tom posted: it is on line at CSI Press by the way.
    Rats! I would not mind paying for a copy if you at least got a drink out of it. Nonetheless, thank you for letting me know it is available on-line (don't know how I missed it) I will get round reading it in the sort-of near future and will definitely look for your account of the briefing you mention. Interesting, though, is that this points to the Army's long standing wariness about getting CAS from the USAF.

    On the lack of AT munitions, my view that the airborne would not be simply a 'speed bump' stemmed in no small part from my assumption that the 82nd would have had at least adequate AT capability munitions (and air support). Once again I was obviously wrong.

    My take on the light versus heavy issue on restore hope was there was very much a "put us in, Coach," mentality
    Thank you very much for this. I am aware of the issue later in the operation that resulted in Aspin resigning but not at the start. There is a hint of parochial intra-service tribal rivalry in your observation which potentially converges with Ken's observation (do I detect an emerging theme in this?). So I will at some point poke around the literature on Restore Hope to see what I can find, if anything, on this.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It's a foggy day in London town...

    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    The possibility of 'Heavy - Light parochiality' is an interesting observation, and one that I will have to keep a keen eye out for (it speaks to intra-service 'tribal culture').
    If that's an issue, also be aware there are Band disputes within the Tribes... . For example, the airborne unit the Tanks joined via C-17 in northern Iraq in 2003 was not the 82d, it was the 173d Airborne Brigade out of SETAF in Vicenza; folks from the 82d will tell you the 173d really aren't paratroopers (until a guy from the 82d gets assigned to the 173d, then he switches and announces the 82d are a bunch of showboats). Seems minor and of no consequence but that rivalry can have real impact on decisions as to who does what or where they do it. Former Commanders now Generals have been known to 'take care' of their former commands -- even if it's dumb.
    ... I have no doubt that you are right that it was more a political than military decision. So far, in what is still early days in my research (I am still writing up my work on the USMC - sigh), I have only run across across a brief mention of the idea of inserting the 82nd. So there is lots in what you note for me to look for. Thank you.
    Regrettably, too many of our seeming military decisions are political -- and I do not mean national or international political (though that obviously is an important factor) -- I mean internal military politics.
    ...which based on my research I do not agree with - the attendant public 'embarassment' re TF Hawk was the final straw...
    Or the cited final straw, it certainly contributed though I suggest that the hassle of getting the M1 Tanks from Germany to 'protect' the Aircraft had more to do with than did the Aviation shortfall and 'embarassment.'
    ...there seems to be a lot of concern about combat effectiveness of the FCS as a medium weight force (even though the Brits and French are going down this road too). ..
    It needs to be pursued but not seen as the holy grail.

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    Default 173d Airborne Brigade

    Correct as always. Mea culpa. I had the 82nd on my brain when I was typing.....

    I do know that 'commander's' etc do lobby for particular forces to be used for parochial reasons, just not all the many examples. Not sure yet how much of an issue service/tribal/Band parochialism is through the 1990s for the views and decisions that led over time to the Future Force concept, but org culture often shapes decisions, and the outcomes of those decisions, and so I think it is worth paying attention to as I get deeper into the weeds of my research.

    Ken posted: I suggest that the hassle of getting the M1 Tanks from Germany to 'protect' the Aircraft
    I remember this particular issue, but so far I have not seen or heard it referred to as playing into the decision to move forward on the Future Force. Again, thanks, for I had forgotten about the 'tanks, and I will keep my eye out for this issue in future readings and interviews.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default One thing of interest in that regard

    may be the rather interesting saga of how we got the Bradley and what ever happened to the M8 Mobile Protected Gun system. And why...

    You can also move up a notch and see why we selected the YUH-60 rather than the YUH 61. Or the M1 Tank from then Chrysler instead of the GM prototype...

    Never underestimate the effect of politics at many levels on 'military' decisions. Add to that the minor phemonena that III Corps staffers will tell you that contrary to many rumors, the 1st Cavalry Division does not command III Corps -- the fact that the Corps Staff absorbs so many 1st Cav alumnae who will give the Cav pretty much what it wants just make it seem that way. Same thing happens vis a vis XVII Abn Corps and the 82d -- much to the chagrin of the poor 10th Mountain (but the 3d ID doesn't care, since they're Heavy, the Corps at Bragg pays them little attention). Politics and relationships are very much more important than most realize.

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