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Thread: Leading scouting/counter-scouting theorists

  1. #1
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default Leading scouting/counter-scouting theorists

    I already asked about leading infantry theorists and got some replies, now it's the turn for scouting/reconnaissance, and its counter.

    Armour, infantry and air get a lot of attention, but scouting is hugely important as well.
    I recall several armor journal articles of the 90's about how the (counter)reconnaissance decided most NTC battles.

    There are other, more theoretical reasons for my interest as well.

    Well, does anybody know modern (post-'92) theoretical work about ground scouts or cavalry?
    An author's name would already suffice as a first hint.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Scouts = Trackers?

    Fuchs,

    Not sure if 'scouting' is in your view the same as tracking. There are threads on tracking, notably: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2180 Within are some practitioners who have started in the field. Apologies if 'scouting' is armoured recce or whatever.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I was indeed thinking of armoured recce, but I have a growing feeling that "reconnaissance" is a poor term for it.

    "Scouting" & "screening" seem to fit much better.
    Navies historically use these terms as well.


    I am developing something new anyway; it's just based on armoured recce/cavalry and that's why I am interested in new theoretical works about those.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Screening is part of the Guard and Cover family of security operations that are designed to buy reaction time and maneuver space for the main body commander in order for him to most appropriately apply his elements of combat power in the most adventageous manner to achieve success on the battlefield. Reconnaissance is a sub-element (indeed "perform continuous reconnaissance" is one of the five fundamentals of security operations).

    I've written in Armor and Cavalry Journal about planning for reconnaissance and security operations (see ACJ DEC08). What else are you looking for?

    "RTK, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you."
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    I think the problem you will find is a complete lack of relevant material, plus as you have indicated, a poor use of language.

    My thoughts in this area is that it is that Land Warfare Reconnaissance is writ large with fuzzy logic and some very bizarre assumptions. Finding the enemy is a simple and useful guide to action. Strange that many have made it so difficult.

    Screening is a useful term if applied to giving early warning, to prevent surprise. Scouting is somewhat less useful, because it is far less well defined
    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.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I think the problem you will find is a complete lack of relevant material, plus as you have indicated, a poor use of language.

    My thoughts in this area is that it is that Land Warfare Reconnaissance is writ large with fuzzy logic and some very bizarre assumptions. Finding the enemy is a simple and useful guide to action. Strange that many have made it so difficult.

    Screening is a useful term if applied to giving early warning, to prevent surprise. Scouting is somewhat less useful, because it is far less well defined
    Well, a way out of the trouble is to invent something new; the inventor can define its name.

    scouting
    screening
    security
    infiltration
    skirmishing
    reconnaissance

    All these terms are close to my idea, but none is perfect.
    "Reconnaissance" is too general, especially as it's in great part an air power job and it doesn't hint at small combat actions at all.

    My present working title is "heavy skirmishers", but maybe I'll settle on "heavy low force density unit" as my concept is very much about filling the gaps left by friendly and enemy combat brigades with few resources and executing the aforementioned tasks.
    It's very different from my rather static idea for the "light" counterpart (working title "light skirmishers").


    It was difficult to get sufficient accounts about historical armoured recce ops (the Eastern Front accounts were most inspiring, but they're obsolete), and I haven't found any real modern theory about it yet.
    I assume that the modern "swarming" theory and the theory that led to the U.S. CavRgt of the 80's and 90's may be useful to some degree.

    As usual, secrecy slows down progress.

    About "Strange that many have made it so difficult."

    The amount of pre-planning demanded in U.S. FMs on mobile ground war is unrealistic anyway. Recce is an art form for daring characters, not management science.
    U.S. doctrine for mobile warfare looks at times like American Football.
    Planning - action - planning - action - planning - action.
    Wait, that's inaccurate. In theory it looks more like planning - action - victory.

    The German FM on armoured recce looks like WW2 doctrine plus sensors minus combat capability. It's incredibly inadequate.

    I don't have more manuals on armoured recce. Maybe a translated Russian one may be available somehow? Their OPSEC doesn't bother us, right?
    Last edited by Fuchs; 08-17-2009 at 01:43 PM.

  7. #7
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    @RTK:
    The armored cavalry journal is new to me, I have no access.
    It's not in the official list of journal - it is some kind of non-classified association publication?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    scouting
    screening
    security
    infiltration
    skirmishing
    reconnaissance

    All these terms are close to my idea, but none is perfect.
    "Reconnaissance" is too general, especially as it's in great part an air power job and it doesn't hint at small combat actions at all.
    The biggest issue I find with people taking about "Reconnaissance", is that it always seems that they mean something over and above "finding the enemy".
    Now I don't really KNOW what "Reconnaissance" is. I just accept that I/someone has to find the enemy, to fulfil the "FIND" function. FINDING is vital. I'm not so sure about "Reconnaissance".
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    The biggest issue I find with people taking about "Reconnaissance", is that it always seems that they mean something over and above "finding the enemy".
    Now I don't really KNOW what "Reconnaissance" is. I just accept that I/someone has to find the enemy, to fulfil the "FIND" function. FINDING is vital. I'm not so sure about "Reconnaissance".
    There's a spiral.

    First, you do want to find him.

    Then you do not want him to find yourself ("counter-reconnaissance")

    Then you've got recce units who can fight, and you want them to do so even offensively at exceptional opportunities.

    And then you may become greedy and turn your recce unit into a combat brigade with organic attack helicopters and call it "armored cavalry".


    I advanced to step two, with step three in mind with wolfpack-esque tactics (uniting several units).

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Also known as Armor Magazine, depending on which cover you get. It's put out by the United States Armor Association.

    Reconnaissance, by definition, is "a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the actions and resources of an enemy or potential enemy, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area." FM 1-02.

    Counter-reconnaissance is preventing the adversary, by whatever means available, from accomplishing the mission as stated above.

    For an open source reference on American heavy armored cavalry, take a look at Tom Clancy's "Armored Cav." It has a pretty good interview of my old boss and his troop's actions during Desert Storm. I think that's the vein you were looking for to start with.
    Example is better than precept.

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    I would say that within the cavalry community the terms recon and security with their associated missions are pretty well defined in US doctrine.

    Not sure if you can access it but I would recommend asking this question on Mounted Manuever Net. You need an AKO account but the link is at http://www.knox.army.mil/school/

    Also highly recommend Armor Magazine. In particular there was a great article by LTC Jeffrey Broadwater on the new Brigade level Recon Squadron.
    "Reorganizing the Recon Squadron to Enhance Heavy Brigade Combat Team Capabilities"
    https://www.knox.army.mil/center/oco...adwater07c.pdf

    Good luck with the research

    Mike

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    You might want to look at USMC LAR ops. We could stand to plan way better, but we kick ass at execution.

  13. #13
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Armor magazine and some similar publications have been unavailable to me since '03. They keep them from the public although the publishing institutions thought that it's stupid to do so.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Fuchs, have you obtained and read a copy of a "Scouts Out!"? It is a history of US application of just what you are talking about.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Here's a link to 'Scouts Out.'

    Big slow 272 page .pdf

    LINK.

  16. #16
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Thanks, but I knew that paper - saw it months ago.
    It's incredibly superficial in its historical part.
    The conclusion chapter is much better, but I don't agree with some points that are in my opinion key points.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Have to concur about "Scouts Out." It had some interesting points here and there, but the historical sections were not up to standard and ignored what I believe are some of the unique aspects of American cavalry development.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  18. #18
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True, American Cavalry differed from European norms

    in many ways. Almost every way, in fact. We never went the Curassiers, Hussars or Lancers route.They were effectively Mounted Infantry -- not Dragoons -- Mounted Infantry, not the same thing at all.

    I recall reading that when Rudyard Kipling visited the US, he talked to a US Cavalry Trooper at Yellowstone, one who had been in the Household Cavalry in the British Army. The man said "Our horses aren't half trained and we almost never use the Saber or do Saber drill -- but we can shoot. I fire more ammunition here in one month than I fired in seven years with the Blues." That carried through to the present day and the Armored Cavalry Regiment that Fuchs fails to appreciate is the result.

    As one US Cavalry Colonel was heard to remark when asked why we Americans weren't better at sneak and peek reconnaissance; "We don't have the patience for it. We just go out looking for trouble and find it -- if you're going to do that, you have to have Armor and Tanks." True statement, that.

    The flip side is that we can and do perform sneak and peak reconnaissance -- we just do it in small batches and we don't talk about it.

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Understanding the Terrain

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    The biggest issue I find with people taking about "Reconnaissance", is that it always seems that they mean something over and above "finding the enemy".
    Now I don't really KNOW what "Reconnaissance" is. I just accept that I/someone has to find the enemy, to fulfil the "FIND" function. FINDING is vital. I'm not so sure about "Reconnaissance".
    Wilf, I disagree with this comment. Before you can FIND the enemy, you must KNOW the terrain. That's where Reconnaissance comes in. In American Doctrine, we have different forms of how to figure out the terrain.

    Several forms of Reconnaissance:
    -Map
    -Aerial
    -Route
    -Area
    -Zone

    There are differing views between our Infantry and Armor communities on how to execute reconnaissance missions. I've worked in both, and I prefer a combination of the guidance listed in the Scout Platoon and Infantry Platoon manuals.

    v/r

    Mike

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    in many ways. Almost every way, in fact. We never went the Curassiers, Hussars or Lancers route.They were effectively Mounted Infantry -- not Dragoons -- Mounted Infantry, not the same thing at all.

    Now your talking! Damn this walking everywhere with a 150 pound kitchen sink on your back. This is America...we be riding,styling and high profiling

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