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Thread: Cordesman so right, yet so wrong

  1. #41
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    It's been a while since I read the article, but I took Cordesman to be referring to Hezbollah's infantry forces. That is, describing the threat of cheaply upgraded enemy infantry to a mechanized force.

    Hezbollah used ATGMs, drones, mortars, and rockets to support a light infantry force. They also made extensive use of fortification, camouflage, and deception.

    Western forces could upgrade their infantry with similar capabilities, but only if they were facing a similar threat. . . .

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    I think that Mr. Cordesman discounts the principle that the enemy is also capable of thinking and reacting.

    I basically took the quote to mean, that if you are starting an armed force from scratch (Hezbullah), the first thing that you need (and the best bang for your buck) is well-trained, well-equipped infantry, and then you can add capabilities

    Taken to a logical extreme, if a power decided to make every single member of its armed forces a foot-mobile infantryman, then their enemies could (and would) adapt, and make at least some of their forces into motorized units, which could be ripped through by light armored dragoons or cavalry, which in turn could fall prey to combined arms: heavy armor, fire support, and air power. This begets exponentially increasing logistics, "lines of communication" and "soft targets". Tanks grouped into large combined arms units stab through lines to strike at those.

    Could a large body of well-trained infantry stop a mechanized strike, while still keeping casualties to a low level that is on par with how easily and cheaply (in terms of casualties) a US mech brigade could?

    An Israeli armored force, given the objective of Beirut, and the level of training that they had say, a decade ago, would have made it through the Hezzies in 2006. Will we always be in a situation where we can afford to allow an enemy force through to a city?

    Thus, I don't think that it is quite as applicable to a superpower's military. If you are supposed to do everything, as certain militaries are expected to, then you will need constituted units that train consistently to perform the different missions... which will lead to some degree of specialization out of sheer necessity.

    After all, where would these incremental additions come from?
    Presumably, we would already have the equipment procured and on-hand, which at the very least means that we need maintainers and trainers (along with spare parts, etc), the equipment will still require *some* upkeep. The Soviets were much-maligned for not training on their equipment as much as the Western armies did, during the cold-war.

    Some missions (not all, some) are better performed by a mechanized force. It not only takes training and practice, it also takes the institutional knowledge that is only built up in leaders over time (which, as of yet, is still not adequately captured in FM's, FMFM's, ARTEP standards, etc).

    I've always been partial to the USMC MEU concept... I have always thought that was a fantastic way to think about, and put together, a battalion-size combat team.

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    I just can't resist pointing out perhaps the supreme irony of Cordesman's statement, which is that even if a "Western" style army were to just have infantry, I can't imagine that they wouldn't be backed up by high-tech ground attack aircraft. So the most cost-effective arm, the infantry, is (in such a scenario) married to the least cost-effective weapon, the modern fighter-bomber (in terms of impact on the ground). It's not that fighter-bombers aren't effective, it is that they are tremendously expensive, bloating severely the ratio of cost to effectiveness.

    Yes, there are missions that an F-22 can perform better than any other platform. However, UAV's can now be deployed to even the small unit level, and there are plenty of fire support requirements that can be fulfilled by artillery - is an SDB really that much better than an Excalibur shell? Especially considering that a howitzer and crew is, quite literally, several orders of magnitude less expensive than a plane that may cost 100 or 200 million, with a pilot that costs millions to train, and then millions to keep trained, every year, a ground crew and support that can consist of a dozen personnel for each aircraft, and costs millions more to deploy and support in theater. I'm not advocating the dissolution of the Air Force, but for support of ground troops, artillery is just as capable in many (not all) scenarios, and much, much cheaper.

    Yet, for some reason, some military analysts are in love with the idea of doing away with tanks and artillery completely... it's amazing that someone who is supposedly read-up history is then surprised when having a platoon of tanks to back up a infantry battalion in a fight, urban or otherwise, turns out to be very good idea. Just how many times do we need to relearn that one?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. Fair question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    ...
    Yet, for some reason, some military analysts are in love with the idea of doing away with tanks and artillery completely... it's amazing that someone who is supposedly read-up history is then surprised when having a platoon of tanks to back up a infantry battalion in a fight, urban or otherwise, turns out to be very good idea. Just how many times do we need to relearn that one?
    For as long as there are civilian 'military' analysts with no combat experience, I suspect.

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    Default Ken...

    had I been drinking something I believe I would have snorted it out my nose when I read your post.

    "Analysts" and "pundits" can spout gibberish all they want since they are rarely held accounatable for their pronouncements, statements, and theories.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

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    There's no magic formula to victory in battle or warfare. Any enemy who possesses the will to battle won't rest until he finds a way to hinder your plans and kill your soldiers.

    Perhaps the most pernicious fallacy of the pundits is the idea that superior technology wins wars. Technology is only one factor. It's a minor one. And our technological advantage is less than we realize. We have three basic advantages over other nations:

    Very well trained and motivated troops. This is the most important component.

    A very large number of those troops and their weapons.

    Complete air and sea supremacy.

    With all that on our side we could use 20 year old weapons and systems and still be the dominant military power in the world. Come to think - we DO use 20 year old weapons and we are the dominant military power in the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    Yet, for some reason, some military analysts are in love with the idea of doing away with tanks and artillery completely... it's amazing that someone who is supposedly read-up history is then surprised when having a platoon of tanks to back up a infantry battalion in a fight, urban or otherwise, turns out to be very good idea. Just how many times do we need to relearn that one?
    The UK did a huge (IIRC still classified) study of 100 Infantry battle group attacks from 1943-45. It showed that support from as little as 6 tanks, meant an 85% chance of success.

    The Falklands war showed the same thing.

    Anyone who has really studied infantry knows, you need protected mobility, direct fire armoured support, and artillery/mortars to be a viable force, against any opponent.
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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Indeed. During WWII, it was found that an Infantry Battalion performed best in offensive operations when it was reinforced with a Tank Squadron (Company), and an Infantry Division was reinforced with a Tank Brigade of 3 Regiments (Battalions). In Korea, the Canadians again rediscovered this, as the Infantry Brigade fighting there went from having no tanks, to a Squadron of 19 tanks, even though fighting in close, usually mountainous country.

    Interestingly, in the wake of the Second Battle of Panjwai in the summer of 2006, the Canadian Infantry Battle Group there received a 15-Tank Squadron with upgraded Leopard 1 A3s ("C2"); now it is 20-tanks strong, with the newer Leopard 2A6M replacing the Leopard 1A3, much the same proportion as was found to work best on very different battlefields in very different times from North-West Europe, though not Korea (but Armoured strength in the Army was doubled in the years after the war). Despite having Air Support on hand, CAS could not replace Armour (not to mention that friendly CAS has an unfriendly habit of killing and wounding lots of groundpounders in Afghanistan). There just is no substitute, most times, for true Combined-Arms.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 04-19-2008 at 05:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    I've always been partial to the USMC MEU concept... I have always thought that was a fantastic way to think about, and put together, a battalion-size combat team.
    That's interesting. Recently I was looking at the 173d Airborne Brigade's website. Each infantry battalion now consists of six companies. And that's before attaching an artillery battery, etc.

    I understand the necessity of combined arms but isn't there a risk that battalion combat teams will become so big with attachments that an LTC can't even fight his rifle companies effectively?

    The MEU concept might be the answer, might it not?

    Of course, there's no way that the Army will admit that it needs to copy anything from the USMC!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Interestingly, in the wake of the Second Battle of Panjwai in the summer of 2006, the Canadian Infantry Battle Group there received a 15-Tank Squadron with upgraded Leopard 1 A3s ("C2"); now it is 20-tanks strong, with the newer Leopard 2A6M replacing the Leopard 1A3...
    So the old Canadian Leo Is finally saw combat. Probably the same tanks I played with at Lahr 20 years ago. To my knowledge the US has not deployed heavy armor to the Afghan theater. I wonder if the Rumsfeld idea of avoiding Soviet mistakes and not deploying armor is still being adhered to? Seemed short-sighted at the time, more so now.

    Watching a 60 Minutes piece tonight on a 2006 two day battle between an SF team and several hundred Taliban, I could not help but think how handy a few strategically placed QRF forces in the form of a cav troop would be. The battle was less than 20 miles outside Kandahar, fairly open country. The team seemed on their own for 2 days if the reporting was accurate.

    You never really need an armored cav troop, until you really need an armored cav troop... or a column of Pakistani M48A3s

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie11 View Post

    You never really need an armored cav troop, until you really need an armored cav troop... or a column of Pakistani M48A3s
    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Going to be the subject of my presentation at the Armor Warfighting Conference in 3 weeks - going to be on a panel with two Canadian officers, who I believe will present on employment of Canadian Armor in Afghanistan.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Going to be the subject of my presentation at the Armor Warfighting Conference in 3 weeks - going to be on a panel with two Canadian officers, who I believe will present on employment of Canadian Armor in Afghanistan.
    Gotta agree with that one! Sounds like an interesting presentation, too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Going to be the subject of my presentation at the Armor Warfighting Conference in 3 weeks - going to be on a panel with two Canadian officers, who I believe will present on employment of Canadian Armor in Afghanistan.
    Appears to be some very interesting topics planned (well, not as much as the 16th CAV )

    I'd be really interested in the Master Gunner Panels, MRAP and Stryker presentations.... gotta love things that go BANG
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Stan wrote:

    Appears to be some very interesting topics planned (well, not as much as the 16th CAV )
    I expect so, and oh to be in that room (even as a fly on the wall). On the matter of Strykers in Afghanistan, a paper written by a junior officer in 3PPCLI was publicly posted on their website:

    The LAV III in Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Tactical Lessons Learned, by Benjamin J. Richard

    This paper describes some of the lessons learned by 2 Platoon, A Coy during Op ARCHER and proposes key advantages of operating with the LAV III in the four blocks of modern warfare: humanitarian assistance operations, peace support operations, warfighting, and psychological operations (PsyOps).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post

    On the matter of Strykers in Afghanistan, a paper written by a junior officer in 3PPCLI was publicly posted on their website:

    The LAV III in Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Tactical Lessons Learned, by Benjamin J. Richard

    Thanks, Norfolk ! I found their evaluations in both Humanitarian and Peace Keeping Operations very useful. The Canadians in Rwanda managed to employ 113s and 114s in much the same capacities (save the ability to perform speedy get-aways).

    But, my truly favorite use of the LAV must be...

    2 Platoon LAV crews quickly discovered that the mud-wall compounds and dwellings found in Afghanistan were easily penetrated by slowly driving through them using a LAV.
    BTW, did you read our thread on Canadians and Kentucky Windage ? Indeed a keeper !

    Regards, Stan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Thanks, Norfolk ! I found their evaluations in both Humanitarian and Peace Keeping Operations very useful. The Canadians in Rwanda managed to employ 113s and 114s in much the same capacities (save the ability to perform speedy get-aways).

    But, my truly favorite use of the LAV must be...



    BTW, did you read our thread on Canadians and Kentucky Windage ? Indeed a keeper !

    Regards, Stan
    Hi Stan!

    I stumbled across it a while ago, but sadly didn't take it in then as thoroughly as I should have (I have since rectified the situation). However, my approach did not lack for thoroughness while down in Kentucky at the Maker's Mark Distillery during GW1, though.

    But, being prone to having to relearn old lessons (some guys just gotta learn the hard way...), after the Old Man drank my bottle of Jim Beam Black, I was compelled to revisit my security precautions with its replacement (and the Wiser's, whose predecessor likewise departed from my possesssion).

    Alas, my current stash has been discovered once again, though its contents remain so far intact. Good thing I have a copy of the old SF caching techniques pub, I think I'm going to need it...

    But, my truly favorite use of the LAV must be...

    2 Platoon LAV crews quickly discovered that the mud-wall compounds and dwellings found in Afghanistan were easily penetrated by slowly driving through them using a LAV.
    I think that's what's most popular with the LAV (aside from resistance to IEDs), going door-to-door to make house calls. If the occupant accords one a most unsocial welcome, then this refusal of hospitality requires quick remedial action in order to effect a prompt restoration of common courtesy. Thus, the driving of a LAV through the obstinate would-be host's front-door/living-room/kitchen/bedroom, followed up by a double-tap if further remedial action is required to restore civility.

    Hmmm, I wonder what the occupant's reaction would be if a Leopard 2 came barreling through his living-room...would that be considered too offensive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Hmmm, I wonder what the occupant's reaction would be if a Leopard 2 came barreling through his living-room...would that be considered too offensive?
    Hey Norfolk !
    In some parts of Africa, this subtle maneuver was called Gaza Gardens
    But, National Defense has taken all the mystery out of driving Your Own Steel Beast

    An overview of the main menu reveals several play options:

    * Instant action, where you assume the role of the tank’s gunner.
    * Tutorials, designed to introduce you, step-by-step, into the M1A1 Abrams or German Leopard 2A4 tank.
    * Tank range, where you develop and measure your gunnery skills (you maintain a training record to show your progress).
    * Single or multiplayer roles.
    * Mission editor, allowing you to tailor your mission to a specific set of circumstances, relive an actual battle (i.e. Desert Storm), or
    develop a specific maneuver skill.
    * Map editor, for use in tailoring a mission or replaying a battle.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Gaza Gardens?! Hmmm, I wonder what the etymology behind that phrase is? And subtle you say? Marc, some help please?

    Ah yes, Steelbeasts...

    NOTE TO FILEóCONSTRUCTIVE SIMULATION VERSUS SERIOUS GAMES FOR THE ARMY: A CANADIAN CASE STUDY, by Paul A. Roman and Mr. Doug Brown(Canadian Army Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3, Fall 2007)(my old Battalion, 4RCR had a hand in this, though it was run for the chopper-boys):

    After 11 years of conducting exercises in this manner, DLSE supported itís first serious game based exercise in October of 2006. Exercise WINGED WARRIOR is the culminating activity at the end of the Advanced Tactical Aviation Course, intended to train pilots to perform as aviation mission commanders and air liaison officers. This paper takes a critical look at the similarities and differences between exercises primarily supported by constructive simulation versus those supported by a serious game. It also introduces the concept of a training needs framework, upon which decisions regarding the most appropriate type of tool to support
    a training objective, can be planned.
    Ah, being paid to play video games (and by the Government no less!).

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Gaza Gardens?! Hmmm, I wonder what the etymology behind that phrase is? And subtle you say? Marc, some help please?
    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Ah yes, Steelbeasts...
    Great post, although not sure if Marc will be able to help you should you decide to drink and drive, especially if you are a Russian tank driver

    The Drunk Tank
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    That's interesting. Recently I was looking at the 173d Airborne Brigade's website. Each infantry battalion now consists of six companies. And that's before attaching an artillery battery, etc.

    I understand the necessity of combined arms but isn't there a risk that battalion combat teams will become so big with attachments that an LTC can't even fight his rifle companies effectively?
    No, I don't think that there is any danger of that - a battalion commander has a full staff, with two majors and several captains to help him handle all of the moving parts. Heh, I can't ever recall having read of/spoken to/seen a battalion commander that worried that he had too many troops or weapons for his assigned mission. Besides, many attachments are then tasked out to the line companies, so they don't really affect the battalion span-of-control - which in any case, I would argue is less and less applicable at the higher levels of organization.

    It would be far, far more dangerous not to have the weapons that he needs in his "toolkit". Armored Cav Squadrons have six company-sized units, and usually get two more attached, "back in the day" Army mech inf battalions had 4 line companies, an AT-company, and an HHC, and then got an arty battery and engineer company, etc tacked on - so there are other examples. I know some infantry battalions attached the battalion mortar platoon to the howizter battery, and the battery commander then made sure that the tubes were properly positioned to support the riflemen, so the "span of control" didn't change (much), in spite of the addition of a howitzer battery.

    IIRC, US Army infantry battalions, even with attachments, still end up being rather smaller than the GCE of the "typical" MEU.

    Besides, here on the SWJ, the large, 13-man USMC rifle squad reigns supreme, it would be most hypocritical of us to then advocate a small battalion

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