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Thread: Leading infantry tactics theoreticians/experts today

  1. #81
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    The minimal casualties attitude seems to be the cause for troops seeking cover and then only returning fire / calling in for fire. (I cannot prove that with data, but it's the picture that formed itself based on many small sources.)
    I can agree with that. I'm seeing a lot of fire and not enough maneuver in footage of contacts. It's an armchair view, I know, but supported IMO from the differences between the LFAM range and the two-way range.

  2. #82
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    It's difficult and often not promising at all to maneuver while in contact if the movement to contact was done poorly.

    I see two obvious remedies to solve the 'fix' problem; smoke (mortar fire support=smoke=concealment for movement) and separate marching.

    The enemy is less likely to fix two squad-sized patrols at once than to fix/pin one platoon-sized patrol. The movement through valley instead of along ridge lines or from mountain top to mountain top (with security element on the last top) also adds to the chance of getting pinned down. I've yet to read about an infantry force on mountain top that got fixed by up hill fire.

  3. #83
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    The enemy is less likely to fix two squad-sized patrols at once than to fix/pin one platoon-sized patrol. The movement through valley instead of along ridge lines or from mountain top to mountain top (with security element on the last top) also adds to the chance of getting pinned down. I've yet to read about an infantry force on mountain top that got fixed by up hill fire.
    The Marine Corps' distributed operations concepts tried to move in this direction. I can't recall why it died off, but there were many well-founded concerns over the effort. The mindset behind DO has merit, but it too was headed down technology road and that proved difficult.
    Last edited by jcustis; 12-16-2009 at 02:25 AM.

  4. #84
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    The distributed coordinated movement is one of the reason why attached and yet seperate elements like snipers were are also often very successful in offensive warfare in WWI and WWII. Observing and attacking out a movement-to-contact which was not suppressed is a key ingredient to success. This applies in a similar way to every other seperate element. A third squad may be able to maneuver, the mortars to support, the AFV may be able to do both.

    The key problem is that the fighting ability of the sperate squad may lack enough depth of manpower to survive a short and violent direct encounter. In Afghanistan the difficult terrain, the small manpower, the lack of helicopters, the burden of the infantry, the casuality awerness and the watchful eyes of the enemy and his supporters seem all to make the good coordination of a distributed operation difficult.

    Firn
    Last edited by Firn; 11-23-2009 at 12:17 PM.

  5. #85
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    The key problem is that the fighting ability of the sperate squad may lack enough depth of manpower to survive a short and violent direct encounter. In Afghanistan the difficult terrain, the small manpower, the lack of helicopters, the burden of the infantry, the casuality awerness and the watchful eyes of the enemy and his supporters seem all to make the good coordination of a distributed operation difficult.

    Firn
    A platoon in a trap is simply a richer target than a squad in a trap.

    DO went for very small teams - good for area observation, not so good for assault. A counter-ambush assault (instead of just a team in a position to chase the enemy away with firepower) would be necessary, so DO (as I understood it) would have gone too far in regard to the present problem (unless the distributed, not fixed teams unite quickly for a combined assault).

    I would want the enemy on the run, not just attempt to shoot him into pieces. The latter is quite difficult.

    A rout usually infects previously not discovered positions while aimed fire doesn't.


    The key in the specific restrictions of AFG mountain terrain should be the adherence to a tactic known even by Xenophon: Don't march through valleys before you control the mountain tops around it.

    The infantry needs to be fit and lightly loaded, so it can move along ridge lines and from top to top at least in the most dangerous area.

    That's again one such point at which I doubt that heavy plate armour is a wise choice.


    Oh, and most important: You shall not break contact against irregulars. Instead, you should press for their destruction once they drop their disguise and open fire. Such an aggressiveness might eradicate the small arms ambush problem in short notice.


    The irregulars have the advantage of civilian disguise 99.999% of the time, but it should nevertheless be possible to defeat them without helicopter and CAS support once they drop their disguise.
    More resources may be an answer to a problem, but it's no tactic. More resources is a primitive brute force approach. We assert that we're superior, so we should demonstrate it. That would improve our conventional deterrence and therefore our national security in general.

  6. #86
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    To get a bit more down to earth I post this video and a some very armchairish comments to it. Perhaps others with experience in Afghanistan can join in. I was out of the military before my country comitted to operations in Afghanistan.

    Afghanistans Gray Line: The Education of "Combat Platoon"

    I will focus on tactics used in the first encounter but will add later some comments on the rest.


    Terrain and Weather

    Here we have a typical landscape:

    a) Satellite

    b) Relief

    Mostly sunny, mild or cool days and cold nights.


    The outpost

    On a hill overlooking the rather narrow valley. Most visible population centers are in or along the valley which is partly covered by terraced fields. The nearby forests and hills are used for pasture and forestry. Mountain tops and ridges dominate the landscape, the vegetation is sparse with thin forests, meadows and rocky ground.

    It is fortified with makeshift stone walls, protected by wire and has a mortar. I do not see any observation point or equipment, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there.


    The mission

    Meeting the locals to implement the overall startegy. The surprise character of the visit should reduce the likelyhood of a premediated ambush.

    The enemy

    Unknown amounts of enemy fighters and suppoter in unknown locations. Some in the villages, some in the countryside. Some armed and ready to fight, others observing or doing something else. Light weapons only, with the spport of RPGs and possibly mortars and recoilless rifles.

    Troops and support available

    Looks like about a platoon of American soldiers on the ground supported by Afghan forces. Some of them will have to guard the outpost and provide mortar support. Scout helicopter and Apache helicopter seemingly available for a specific time frame as well as a air assault group.

    Time available

    Not hard time restrictions. A long movement to the objective. Time constraints due to the sparse allocation of specific assets (UAV?, helicopters? Air assault team?). The preferred start to the mission would be at night to reach the village very early in the day.


    Civilian considerations

    Any civilian casualities must be avoided and the villagers should not be affronted by the operation. Some friction with military considerations is however almost inevitable, like the choice to send no notice of the operation to the village. Prior contact with civilians will most likey compromise the element of surprise.



    The operation

    The approach is be later in the day than the commander hoped.

    a) The MGs and the sniper team? form a base of fire and observation on dominating terrain in the south.

    b) The tea-party elements move down the mountain. On a single path or distributed?

    c) When the enemy initiate the combat the Apache is called in which was possibly replaced by a Kiowa later on.

    d) The enemy runs away with possible casualities. Perhaps some melt into the population of the village.

    e) After some consideration an air assault gets launched. AFVs may have been part in the push into a suspected hiding place.

    f) The elusive enemy can not be found or identified as such.

    The end is unknown.

    Firn

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Firn,

    A "good catch" the news report from Kunar Province. I noted that alongside the US Army were ANA, ANP and ABP. Plus the FOB was on high ground, not the highest.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Fuchs,

    To get back to the very first question you posed, have you researched the writings of CWO5 Jeffrey Eby? I think he is the closest personification of what you are looking for. He has spent a lot of time in the kinetic realm, observing and making note of those observations.

    Much of his writing can be found in Marine Corps Gazette articles, pretty easily.

    JC

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    To get back to the very first question you posed, have you researched the writings of CWO5 Jeffrey Eby?
    I think I might have read everything Eby ever wrote on the SAW v the LSW argument, and I'm impressed with his reasoning. We seem to agree, but for slightly different reasons.

    What leaves me shaking my head is the utterly bizarre field and range trials described in the Marine Corps Gazette. I can only conclude they were designed by an OA weeny who did not understand the question.
    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. #90
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I recall those articles, but they're not easily accessible any more.
    He was writing mostly about infantry equipment instead of how to solve tactical problems IIRC.

  11. #91
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    He has at least one concerning two-man buddy pair tactics, and also spends a lot of time talking about the concept of the LSW as it relates to team and squad tactics. That came from his study of German squad tactics, IIRC.

    I agree though, that it is difficult to get them without paying for the download at the Marine Corps Gazette.
    Last edited by jcustis; 11-28-2009 at 10:34 PM.

  12. #92
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    It's actually even worse.

    Credit cards are very uncommon in Germany (just as cheques), I couldn't even pay for I have none.

    We pay by paypal or money transfer from account to account.


    Well, judging by his article titles and my memory of his articles he has no answer for the problem of infantry being pinned (fixed) and no mortar SMK available?

    That's the #1 infantry tactical problem in my area of interest.

  13. #93
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    http://2ndbn5thmar.com/

    Although he is not widely cited. McBreen has written profusely on the matter of suppression and night fighting, and might have some material on smoke employment.

    The bulk of his writing came at a time, when there wasn't much going on except training and unit deployment program rotations to Okinawa, so it was detailed and very well-thought out. Much was common sense that we simply were not applying.

    if we get pinned, however, we simply call in an airstrike to break the fight.
    Last edited by jcustis; 11-28-2009 at 11:32 PM.

  14. #94
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    http://2ndbn5thmar.com/

    Although he is not widely cited. McBreen has written profusely on the matter of suppression and night fighting, and might have some material on smoke employment.

    The bulk of his writing came at a time, when there wasn't much going on except training and unit deployment program rotations to Okinawa, so it was detailed and very well-thought out. Much was common sense that we simply were not applying.
    Interesting, but he oversimplifies a bit.

    His infantry defence would fail against a good or his own infantry attack, for example; the defence plan is only a defence against an assault element - a mere ambush.

    His attack pattern is an attack on a point defence. This is a logical follow-up to his incomplete infantry defence pattern.


    A more complete defence plan would attempt to counter suppressive fires either by smoke or by having a separate team that covers probable suppressing fire base locations from an advantageous position.

    That in turn leads to a requirement for additional security in the attack pattern. The assault team isn't the only one that may be in great danger. The suppressive fires team may be flanked. It requires security measures.

    And of course you may always encounter a defence that's not a point defence, but a network of defences.

    He is furthermore not much into advising for dispersion to reduce the effectiveness of enemy support fires.


    Overall, he seems to be quite orthodox, close to standard doctrine.

  15. #95
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    In McBreen's defense, simplification is precisely his point, and it is woven throughout his writing, especially if you grind through this document that was at one time published for every junior NCO and SNCO distance education program package. he spent the majority of his time, from what I can tell, focusing on those weaker areas of our training and doctrine, not the ones he felt were sufficient.

    http://www.2ndbn5thmar.com/dm/CCMWor...cBreen2002.pdf

    And with regard to your concern about a network defence, I am reminded of something a wise Major said relating to infantry attacks: "At some point, every attack at the company level and below becomes a frontal assault. It's just a matter of orientation."
    Last edited by jcustis; 11-29-2009 at 12:44 AM.

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    Default Four is the magic number...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post

    Four of every maneuver element is better than three, enables better bounding overwatch and rotation off line. Also allows for mix of 2 Tk Co and 2 Mech Inf Co at Bn. Allows one element for Assault and three for breakthrough and follow up. Four Firing Batteries allow two to be ready to fire no matter how much you move. All sorts of advantages. The triangular setup was a German invention to force unbalanced formations and defense -- same thing can be achieved by better training.
    .
    Far be it for me to resurrect a thread (I am no necromancer) but it appears E. S. Johnston in his “Field Service Regulations of the Future” published in 1936 would agree with the desirability of four manoeuvre elements. His view and that of others (such as Leslie McNair) is discussed in Major Glenn M. Harned, The Principles of Tactical Organisation and their Impact upon Force Design In the US Army originally published as a monograph for the US Army Command and General Staff College (1985). The monograph is rather good at getting to the nuts and bolts of unit organisation (“force design”) through the analytical lenses of two principles of war (Unity of Effort and Economy of Force) and seems to me at least to be as relevant today as it was in 1985 or, for that matter, in 1936;
    (According to E. S. Johnston...) Two subdivisions provide one to fix and one to manoeuvre, while three also provide a reserve. "Four subdivisions provide an organization yet more flexible, there being sufficient elements to manoeuvre around both flanks as well as for fixing and for the reserve. This organization is also useful in penetrations, in which case the entire unit may be used in a deep narrow column, in a square or similar figure, or in a T-shaped formation. A unit of four subdivisions in particularly flexible [because] the "four subunits may be combined into three or two, according to the situation and the ability of the commander." A unit with four subdivisions is also more economical, requiring little more overhead than a unit with only three.(p.6)
    The paper also has a rather interesting “take” on the principle of Unity of Command which, according to Johnston, should actually be Unity of Effort or (Co-operation as per The Principles of War in UK JDP 0-01 British Defence Doctrine p.2-6);
    According to Johnston, "Organization is the mechanism of control. Its purpose, therefore, is unity of effort". Thus, tactical organization is a mechanism of control, which produces unity of effort, which results in the economic expenditure of combat power. In the 1923 Field Service Regulations, as in FM 100-5 today, the US Army recognized Unity of Command as a principle of war, but Johnston argued that the principle should be Unity of Effort, not Unity of Command. He wrote, “Wellington and Blucher [at Waterloo] succeeded by reason of cooperation; they had no unified command ... Unity of command, then is merely a method of obtaining unity of effort ; cooperation is another method ... The real problem is where to provide for unity of command and where to depend on cooperation”.(p.3)
    Furthermore, in terms of Economy of Force the monograph quotes LtGen. Jacob L. Devers (in a letter to Gen. Marshall c.1941) who criticised McNair’s economising/pooling of resources efforts (i.e., attaching CS and CSS units as and where needed rather than having them organic to the subunit in question);
    Economy of force is not gained by having a lot of units in a reserve pool where they train individually, knowing little or nothing of the units they are going to fight with. It is much better to make them part of a division or corps, even to the wearing of the same shoulder patch., If they are needed elsewhere in an emergency, they can be withdrawn easily from the division or corps and attached where they are needed. Economy of force and unity of command go together. You get little of either if you get a lot of attached units at the last moment. Team play comes only with practice.(p.9)

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    Default Rhodesian Fire Force

    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Fuchs, Kilcullen's main piece in this regard was "Rethinking the Basis of Infantry Close Combat" (Australian Army Journal). It more or less mirrored at Company-Level what General DePuy wrote about at Platoon-Level in "One Up and Two Back?"(scroll down to Pages 295-302 of "Selected Papers of General Wiliam E. DePuy", and yes, I'm plugging for my boy here). Both approaches are focused upon the primacy of suppression in the Attack, of course, and our own Tom Odom as you know (along with his two co-authors) based some of his publicly accessible work upon Gen. DePuy's: see "Transformation: Victory Rests with Small Units", in Military Review from a few years back. McBreen especially emphasized suppression in his articles for Marine Corps Gazette. Obviously it takes some digging to get a hold of his best two, but they don't say too much different than others who base their work upon DePuy's. Besides them, there's Wilf of course, and Wigram, whom some of Wilf's work derived from. And a number of us who admire the RLI's Fire Force (not to mention Drake Shooting); See jcustis' "Interview With an RLI Vet", too, here and here. The RLI's Platoon and Brick organization and tactics, along with Wilf's work, provide some insight into what Infantry tactics of the future may look like.

    Edited to Add:

    Get a hold of the original 1981 edition of On Infantry by John English (the 1984 edition with Bruce Gudmundsson as co-author is also good), and Virgil Ney's work is generally considered as good or better than even English's (but it's harder to get a hold of).
    Greetings all, I served as an officer with the RLI during the time when the Fire Force concept was being refined and came into its own. The unidentified ex-RLI member who says he joined in 1980, which was after the cease fire, is not your best source on the Rhodesian Fire Force concept.

  18. #98
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I'm curious about who is being considered being one of let's say 20 top infantry tactics experts/theoreticians in the open domain (=some chance to find articles or books to read his/her ideas).
    I am specifically interested in the kinetic aspects when I wrote infantry, else I'd have written "PsyOps" or "MP expert".

    Any suggestions?
    *bump*

    Any news on this?

    (And I can't believe that I really wrote "kinetic" back then. That must have been a concession to this place!)

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