Lightning Over Water

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Officer of Engineers, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Before 11 Sept,

    A document has been writtened about the future of expeditionary warfare

    RAND | Monograph/Reports | Lightning Over Water: Sharpening America's Light Forces for Rapid Reaction Missions

    It was to focus on a major operational undertaking by an air insert armoured task force during Operation Desert Storm.

    While the focus of this document was to determine how heavy is heavy enough and how light is fast enough, the primary focus that needs to be answer, what is needed to win as fast as possible as heavy as needed?

    Study of the material is required before commenting.
     
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  3. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    The merits of the case is that if you can deliver a force, even a company size one in which the enemy is both physically and pyschologically oriented away from, the re-orientation would cause atleast out right confusion. Couple that with air artillery, outright panic. And while the weight of
     
  4. deltacamelately

    deltacamelately Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir,

    You sent me this material sometimes back. It is a very matured read, however I wondered on one particular point over and over again -

    Can such a agile and light force be effective on any terrain?

    For what come to mind, the US Army is configured more or less on the Cold War model where it was expected to defend against a massive armoured invasion, whereas any future mechanized threat will definitely be proportionately smaller in size and capabilities. Also to be noted is, the US Army was expected to operate against such a cumbersome armoured thrust in continental Europe and not in some remote jungle or alpine terrain, hence my assertion on the issue of "terrain".
     
  5. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Just got done with chapter 2 establishing a base case. I think I have detected some system bias and ahuge weakness. The team assumes the TOW will be the primary heavy weapon of the light force. It also fixes it in place (withi the brigade defnesive perimeter). In the SWA experiment it was recorded as the heavy killer. I think this is optimistic against a modern force with tanks equipped with both APS and ERA. The TOW has a short range and is slow- 11 seconds to 3500m. Assuming the enemy tanks are moving at 18km/h sustained after a mixxed dash/slow the tanks are closing at the rate of 200m a minute. This gives blue force about 12 minutes until the dragons kick in. In reality they only have about 5 minutes of engagement time if they are relatively static (fighting within a designated area they cannot or will not move from, I am not assuming they are sitting still.

    The case presented has blue force defending the cross roads and this fixes them in place, the reading so far does not have the humers out ahead fighting as they would in a heavy unit doing the recon/counter recon fight but held back as organic AT assets along the MLR. This probably reflects unit doctrine inside of the light unit but is in my opinion a mistake.

    The TOWS sweet spot is 3500-2500 meters away. After this they are under the guns of the 125mm 2A46m cannon mounted by the T-72 How many tanks can they kill? The first volley is likely to produce poor results thanks to the APS and ERA. Also assuming the enemy invested in the APS they probably have FLIR of their own either Belorussian or in a slightly better case domestically sourced FLIR from inside Iran (T-72S). The article also makes reference to the enemy command units having FLIR.

    The hummers are likely to take significant losses from direct fire. The 125mm guns and AT-11 are both faster than the TOW. If the hummers start forwards of the MLR they can mask the MLR's location as the fall back trying to keep the enemy tanks in the sweetspot. If they are behind the MLR then the engagement starts somewhat closer to the riflemen. and the Hummers have less room to move and still contribute to the fight.

    Once the range closes to 2500m losses among the hummers are going to sky rocket. The hummer has to stop to fire and the tank doesn't. The terrain and scenario also precludes a plethora of hull down positions. The hummers also have limited on board stores of missiles.

    This is all information any halfway adept enemy commander should be aware off.

    Other factors needing to be considered is enemy arty. While the prepatory fires were less than ideal the fact that they were fired by 152mm SP systems means American CBF were probably also less than effective. The time from the end of the fires to the beginning of the engagement means some have had a chance to reload. An enemy commander might make a bet and drop some improved smoke about a 1000 meters ahead of his force where he first takes fire. If the TOWs are fixed to a specific area this steals their sweet spot. When both forces can see the other again its direct gunfire range and the edge goes to the tanks.

    My argument would thus be the enemy if decently equipped and professionally led is not going to be heavily attritted by the TOWS. Its going to be up to the infantryman with his Javelin or other system inside of 1000m.

    Using the TOW's are organic AT elements robs them of their effectiveness. But boots don't think mobile warfare, they fight and die where they are. An adoption of a heavy force recon/counter-recon battle approach to things would greatly increase the units lethality. If far enough forward the hummers could mask the MLR, attrit the attackers, force early deployment and then still retreat to rearm and join the MLR.

    Also the air strike went in alone. Had the enemy been engaged by forward scouts the ability to react to the air strike might have been lessened and thus greater results achieved.
     
  6. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Major,

    Terrain is an equalizing force ... for the CO who got there first. From your statemtents, think about it. A battalion that can be an air inserted to the decision versus a platoon who can only march in. What does terrain tells you?
     
  7. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Just finished chapter 3, and while RAND and I were in agreement that the base force was doomed in Chapter 2 how to fix this problem (chp 3) is in no way an agreement. I am seeing a blinder that could prove important as I read on. This is a tendency to address concerns with technology, all too American but perhaps not the best answer. This reliance on technology poses a couple of problems. First the DRB only has so much gear it can pack. As much as possible systems need tob e able to wear two hats in order to be mutually supportive. Shifting much of the units personnel into joystick jobs takes them away from other tasks and takes up critical space on the transports. Not to mention what if this lavishly equipped DRB has to do COIN work? Can drones get out among the villagers and win hearts and minds? Another concern about relying on systems is that technology is not fool proof. Systems can be blinded, fooled and as we learned today possibly hacked. Thermal blankets can mask a tanks IR signature, laser warning receivers can warn of an impending attack and activate jammers etc.

    Given that technology is fallible, what does a techno-centric force do when technology fails? The unit in Chp 3 was relying on its stand-off indirect weapons to shape the battle. Great if it works, but what if the enemy force has invested in cheap detection denial systems. passive and active screens, improved smoke, warning receivers, jammers and other devices that hold the possibility of seriously attriting the effectiveness of stand off weapons.

    As the chapter details the DRB now has fewer direct fire systems like the TOW mounted on hummers. This means if the stand off systems fail the enemy is going to be even less attritted than in Chapter 2. The one saving grace is that the infantry is now equipped with fire-and-forget javelin systems. But again APS systems might well lessen their effectiveness.

    Had the unit started the direct fire battle farther out with armed mobile units instead of passive hunters and then had those light mobile elements trying to force the enemy to slow down and deploy early they would be actively shaping the battle. Even a combination of direct fire and standoff weapons hitting at the same time. And then bouncing back towards the MLR as slow as the enemy allows.

    Finally once the enemy has moved into javelin range, drop some FASCAM or use an engineer emplaced pre-laid minefield between the MLR and the enemy to lock them in place and force a redeployment or withdrawal and while the enemy commander is making that decision drop some MLRS or DPICM rounds on his head. I prefer FASCAM becuase it can be used once you know for sure which way the enemy is coming. It also frees up the engineers to build closer in.

    DPICM, FASCAM and javelins also offer the advantage of being mature systems that don't cost an arm and a leg to develop, don't pull personal and weight away from other tasks to support new fangled theories and don't take away from the precious direct combat units.

    Any new systems should be evaluated base don how little it impacts the units personal, how little it costs, how little it weighs, and how much it adds. PCMM's for example are a great idea. a 400lb, half million dollar unarmed robot isn't.

    If the study's portrayal of doctrine is correct, the big problem is the DRB's provincial focus. It is portrayed as seeing the battle fought in distinct parts with the ground combat elements fixed in place awaiting a charge like the Texans at the Alamo awaited the coup de grace from Santa Anna. A paradigm shift in thinking to one closer to that used by heavy units that shifts the start of the direct fire battle as far forward as possible to win the recon battle, buy time by buying space getting inside the enemies decision cycle seems to offer a better course of action in my not so humble opinion.
     
  8. deltacamelately

    deltacamelately Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir,

    Your army fights it out pretty differently than say the InA would choose to fight. My take on the terrain issue is dependent on the LOS. If the LOS doesn't allows my indirect-fire weapons to effect considerable atrrition on the advancing heavy forces and my direct-fire weapons have to make themselves vulnerble in order to inflict unacceptable attrition on the enemy, enough to call off the attack by the enemy and assuming that I have a company or even a battalion size force at my disposal without considerable CAS, then I am afraid I am fighting the wrong way and irrespective of the higher LER, the defence can not be held. So yes, terrain would definitely dictat my choice of the force level deployed for the defence and I still wouldn't like to command the type of light agile force that the blue forces in chapter II deployed.
     
  9. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Major,

    The primary premis of LIGHTNING OVER WATER is not to deliver a strong force (actually a weak force) to content with an enemy strong point but to force the enemy to move out of position both psychologically and physically. If you're expecting an amphibious landing and then find an enemy battalion coming towards you from your rear, your LOS means squat if you don't have the time to re-orient your guns and you certainly don't have time to tell the infantry about what lanes of fire you will be using.
     
  10. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    The DRB serves other purposes as well the major may not be familiar with.

    Besides the obvious offensive factor of having hostile enemy troops in your rear area via parachute or heliborne vertical envelopment. When you have an American brigade in front of you, you have to make a choice stop or risk the full faith and credit of the US as it seeks retribution. This choice is the units big defensive value. A lot of potential foes don't really want a full scale war with the US.

    The problem for the 82nd/101st divisions is what if the enemy is willing to risk all out war and doesn't stop. The RAND article is an attempt to draw attention to the fact that the unit is at a severe disadvantage is actually fighting.
     
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  11. deltacamelately

    deltacamelately Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir,

    I was speaking from the InA's perspective, it seems it will take sometime to understand this perspective fully.
     
  12. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Chp 4

    For once I find myself in agreement with the RAND study, giving up mass is a bad idea. The RAND study found the smaller units envisioned in chapter 4 removed the ability to fight and win the direct fire engagement. While all three concepts discussed had some useful ideas- FO's in stealth suits are simply awesome they all had a critical lack of mobility, ability to actually punch the enemy in the nose and inability to maneuver.

    The substitution of missile pods for tube artillery and mass personnel reductions also removed the ability to use engineers and artillery to shape the battlefield. This is I believe a critical flaw in all 3 systems discussed. Although wholly different from what I am about to discuss they both concepts the small rapid reaction force (RRF) and the WWII German Panzer Brigades (PzBgd) lacked adequate engineer and artillery support but were other wise superior units in terms of technology. In WWII the PzBgd was an absolute failure and battles such as Mortain cost German a large amount of superior Panther tanks for no gain what so ever when the addition of another battery or two of artillery and more panzer pioneers would probably have resulted in a German win.

    Likewise in the RAND study the lack of the ability to to physically shape the battle and control the enemies direction and speed of travel meant as long as the enemy was willing to push forward he could.

    Since the RRF could not physically stop the enemies forward movement if his weapons failed and did not have the mass to fight him off they lost. Even if the massive losses ultimately doom the enemy to defeat once US heavy forces get involved there is going to be some very heavy urban fighting involved in the scenarios used. On top of this with the rape of Kuwait City as a reminder the enemy is now the fox loose among the hens inside the henhouse.

    On a side note I am still noticing a tendency towards systems driven doctrine rather than doctrine driven systems.
     
  13. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    My hopes for this chapter were crushed, adding maneuver to a light force- such promise and such unfulfilled potential. Once again the focus is on tech over talent. The paper in this chapter looks at a hundred billion dollar force that adds zero capability.

    First off the obvious- anything to ready companies that are flown in can do, the USMC MEU can do just as easily and perhaps better. The writing also envisions a mass SEAD effort to get a large number of vulnerable aircraft to the DZ. Any use of vertical envelopment needs to actually envelop, preferably on the opposite side of the USMC force in order to create a pinched waist that the enemy cannot ignore if he wants to survive.

    lets examine the same problem but only using current capability.

    Mission keep the enemy heavy division and other follow forces as well as replenishment logistics from reaching the barely held front lines. Secondly we want to shape the future so that if a political solution fails the enemy can be forcibly ejected

    What forces are available today for a theater commander to use in such a situation.

    DRB from 82nd that can arrive in theater in 72 hours
    2 MEU, the 1st 120hours away, the 2nd 72 hours later
    1st Stryker Bgd which can beginning landing in force 120 hours.
    B-2 bombers
    2 aircraft carriers and supporting surface combatants
    1 Ohio class SSGN
    18 F-22's with supporting tanker and C4SRI aircraft
    at least 1 friendly 5000' airstrip in a safe location
    enough transport aircraft for the DRB and Stryker Bgd.

    Further more 2 weeks out are the navy vessels with the pre-positioned stocks for the Army's 1st BCT 1st cav Division.

    The large amount of navy presence is pre-disposed that no one can jump start a multi-division operation fast enough to not let at least 2 US carriers get into the region. Even if they are not there before the balloon goes up they are on the way along with the MEU's.

    We know from the chapter that the airspace is at least contested and the enemy has advanced ADA assets. This poses a problem for an air landing and navy air's ability to support the USMC ops.

    Thus the first thing that must be done is secure the allied 5000' strip and push enemy ADA assets away from the coast. Since our overall goal is to keep the enemy division from the front can we combine the two? The paper states that the enemy has concentrated his ADA assets along his MSR. I am going to postulate that this is because assets not specifically listed in the paper (B-2 and SSGN) have been striking at bridges and other transportation nodes thus slowing the enemy division down (6 day travel).

    This clears the coast and gives the navy a chance to support the USMC and provide a credible threat vs the MSR given enough SEAD.

    So that part of the chapter seems to be spot on, the air insertion is where it goes wacky. Since the enemy formation is shaped roughly like a H where one side is the international border and the other is the FLOT with the logistics line linking them. The USMC will be inserting between the border and FLOT on the one side. I want to insert the DRB to the other side of the line. rather than cross that line of ADA artillery, I want to cross the FLOT where a much smaller and more compressed SEAD effort can blow open a corridor that a train of C-130j's can drive through as low and as fast as possible before popping up to 500' to disgorge its load.

    The DZ I am looking for has terrain cover from the MSR to provide a physical wall between the C-130's and the SAMs. I am also looking for at least a simple strip that can be rapidly expanded to accommodate C-17's A stretch of paved highway, a rural dirt airstrip, even enough pasture land to lay out a steelmat airstrip. Preferably the terrain between the DZ and the enemy will be restrictive to deny the attacker mass. I am under no illusions that the enemy is not going to know what I am doing. In fact I want him to. I the enemy has invested billions to buy state of the art Russian systems and they are willing to risk war with the US by attacking an ally I am pretty confident that they know the basics of US capability. Knowing that an MEU is roughly a battalion and that more USMC assets are on the way- via CNN, MSNBC and Fox news reports just to make sure he knows, is on one side of his MSR and that an airborne bgd soon to be followed by a Stryker Bgd is on the other.

    Right away I've shaved at least a regiment off of his division since he has to deploy to defend. The paper says the enemy reacts with the lead regiment. he knows that as my beachheads and airheads extend as follow on forces arrive his mission gets harder. Since the paper is dealing with light army formations and since the MEU is under a navy umbrella lets assume he decides to commit his lead regiment against my airborne troops.

    Suddenly we are back to chapter 2 except this time its DRB vs regiment not DRB vs division and now its time for talent. I want highly trained battle leaders who know how to read terrain, know how to employ weapons and who know how to take A,B,C,D etc and create a vicious lethal alphabet soup of supporting fires.

    I want the first engagement by hummer mounted TOWs and Apache fired hellfires to occur just inside the range of my own artillery. Also supporting the forward battle is an engineerign section to blow up bridges and culverts to slow the enmy down. His AVLB's will allow him to easily cross if he is willing to risk compression and thus presenting a tempting target for air and artillery strikes. Obviously to avoid airspace issues and to add confusion I want the Apaches to attack from off axis. I also don't want to get pinned down, I want to shoot and scoot. I want to fight in terrain that not only shields me, but also compresses and restricts the enemy so that the volume of fire form either side is more fairly balanced.

    My ultimate goal is to attrit the enemy and wear him out as I fall back and lead him into a kill zone where other DRB assets (riflemen, javelins, FASCAM, DPICM, obstacles etc) can execute a three sided enflilade style attack agaisnt the lead portion of the enemy formation that is now strung out along the axis of advance, blind, tired and stressed. In other words i want to have fought and won the recon/ counter recon battle. I then want to translate this victory in to the ability to engage the enemy piece meal if he continues to press forward.

    If he stops and decides to try and bottle me up in turn, great he is in range of my artillery and I'll take infantry over tanks in restrictive terrain. He is also not adding to the invasion force if he is blocking me.

    if he falls back outside of arty range, I follow at some point he has to stop or I put his MSR under my guns.

    While all this is going on, elements of the Stryker Bgd are beign flown in. While not a heavy force they do add mobility, a large number of riflemen, more arty, and a number of Stryker mounted TOW systems + Styker AGS systems so that if the enemy reinforces defeat and renews the attack I have more assets in play as well.

    If the enemy goes for the USMC first, then the airborne units press forward and take his MSR under fire forcing him to deploy more elements from that armored division to force me back. That means even less combat power going forward and even less stores available for use on the front.

    Did i kill hundreds of enemy vehicles using the latest and most expensive systems? Probably not, but did I achieve the mission? I find the US military has a tendency to get focused on technology in its writings envisioning a future of super systems with minimal human involvement. However building US budget woes and a technologically advancing world put this dream in doubt. The area where the US can maintain a clear edge over almost any conceivable foe is in training. Long serving volunteer troops are expensive but incredibly capable. With minimal reform of the army's personnel policy to get rid of up or out the human potential can be greatly increased. Figuring out how to use this human capital for the most effect for the least cost is behind a doctrine driven systems approach.

    Sometimes an expensive new tool is called for. However such systems need to add to the human ability not replace it. A classic example from my own past is the M1 Abrams family. It took some of the worlds most professional tankers and gave them a tool to do their job better. It did not try to change them into arcade warriors as the RAND paper seems to stress.

    Another example is the AH-64D Longbow. It sought to improve an existing capability rather than replacing it with another. This evolution has passed the test of time while the type of revolution that Lightning Over Water argues for is merely expensive and risky.
     
  14. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Apndx A,

    This part of the book was enjoyable right up until the end. "No advances in doctrine or training can sufficiently fulfill all these requirements given the confines of currently available
    weapons systems." I've been sensing a bias in the writing towards systems as the solution and this confirms it. I think current systems can do the job, better systems that are an evolutionary improvement would be better, but the job can be done with the tools at hand. The big weakness in today's US Army DRB/RRF is not systems per se but doctrine.

    A study commissioned to study what the light forces need to know to win holds a lot more promise than simply throwing money at the problem and ending up with a force that is ill equipped to fight and win. I noticed another weakness with the book- what about COIN and OOTW situations?

    A discussion on the future of the light force needs to look at what is the national mission. Obviously rapidly deploying to meet emerging threats which may contain hostile heavy units is part of that. But can a 400 man force equipped with a 150 weapons pods or a 2000 man force backed by 100 TACM's deploy to handle disasters, peace keeping, COIN ops, and other and sundry tasks?

    Once mission profile is decided on then and only then should the discussion move to doctrine- how to perform the mission.

    Finally once mission and doctrine are decided then the discussion can move on to systems.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that the mission is light v heavy what tools does the light force need?

    1. deep battle 2. direct fires 3. maneuver elements 4. force enhancement 5. defensive systems.

    1. deep battle capabilities are artillery both rocket and tube as well as heliborne systems. It also includes the ability to work with US and allied air and space based platforms. If the units location is the bulls eye the deep battle radiates out from it. The next ring is the reach of the units tube fired artillery- this line some 10km past the FLOT is where lethality and induced friction on the enemy should be at maximum effect. The next ring is the range of the units missile systems some 11-60km. This is where the unit can begin taking an active role in shaping the battle as the range closes. The situation postulated by RAND- defeating a heavy division. Defeating the enemy who has such a superiority in material and fire thus involves to distinct but related objectives. A- attrition of the enemy force and B separating the enemy to reduce mass further. Both work to allow the direct fire battle to be fought on more equal terms.

    However just assuming that the deep battle is enough: that advanced missiles and deployed pods of wundertech is enough is as the book shows a mistake. In the end, if the enemy is not stopped by the deep battle then the battle will be decided inside of 10km.

    The Direct Fire battle is when the fighting moves inside of 10km. The RAND paper consistently showed that once the enemy got this close the tide seemed to shift against the light force as the heavier direct fire power of the enemy unit was brought to bear. This is why the deep battle is so important. The enemy has to be broken up and forced to go in- in managable units that the light units fire can still overmatch. This is why thigns like defensive artillery fires like FASCAM and DPICM and engineers become so critical. Other improvements worth exploring would be a fire and forget weapon for the infantryman that lets him reliably kill tanks past 3km. Not only does this move him well past the range of the tanks machine guns and the IFV's light cannon, but it allows mutually supportive direct fires. This is the kind of research that needs to be done.

    Supporting the deep battle and direct fire battle and allowing both are maneuver elements both air and ground. Attack helos, unarmed UAV's, light ground vehicles and the like. The units provide eyes on ability, precision targeting, on demand fires to apply pressure to help shape the battle. A light unit that can't fight deep is in deep trouble as the book shows. Luckily many of the systems needed already exist. AH-64, M996 etc all have the mobility needed. Weapons for the AH-64 are good although the M966 is lacking due to the limitations of the TOW. Thanks to advances in Russian missile technology the US needs an ATGM that can reach out to at least 5km. One that is optically cued using IR imaging technology so that once the gunner locks it in, it is fire and forget with no tattletale like a laser beam to give the launch away. Buddy-imaging where a hidden/concealed unit can image the target while another unit fires to give the ground units hunter-killer ability would be even better. Also useful for the maneuver unit would be a UAV equipped with a laser ranger to allow buddy lasing so that the AH-64's and ground units don't have to expose themselves to direct fire in order to launch hell fires. If anyone reading this has noticed that I am advocating lightweight evolutionary enhancements verses wholesale adoption of new platforms they would be correct.

    Going along with the creation of an agile lethal maneuver force are other force enhancements. This umbrella group includes things like improved C4SRI capabilities to things like making sure the DRB has enough engineers to both assist the ground combat units and support the arrival of logistics and follow on forces. This area has a lot of room for systems becuase they would support the mission, not dictate it.

    For example if we assume that an enemy once aware of the DZ is likely to try and interdict the main air routes should we consider the development of stealthy RPV's that can enter an area and drop 5-40 tons of supplies in a modified parachute equipped sealand container. Even if some get intercepted no lives are lost and a fleet of 50 or so transporters can deliver a large amount of equipment in a short amount of time without massive SEAD prep. Force enhancement is where I think systems revolution has a future if sanity guides the process.

    Finally defensive systems. The big but hardly the only system is air defense. The US lags way behind in light and medium SAMs. The patriot is kick ass but for everything else there is the USAF with the stinger thrown in as a joke. However if an enemy is willing to risk war with the US and has invested in a ground force capable of giving that recklessness a chance of success then they probably also have a capable air force. A light force needs to be able to survive under hostile skies. The unit will probably be fixed to a certain area and likely clustered around an airfield. Hopefully the USAF can keep most enemy assets away, but leakers need to be dealt with. Not only must any system be able to engage jets and helos but also standoff weapons and if doable ballistic missiles. A missile system might not be able to achieve all of this, but advances in lasers might be able to within a short time frame.

    This is the type of discussion I think the future of the light force in the US Army needs to have.
     
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  15. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Major,

    Perhaps some real life examples may help. Be advised that this is not light forces but the heavies but the idea is the same; how operational suprise overcame opposition superior position and numbers.

    Primary of which is something which Z alluded to, the abillity to read the enemy. In Op THUNDER RUN, the Iraqis held superior ground, numbers, firepower. The Americans had only one advantage - gall.

    What this shows, Major, is surprise can have an overwhelming effect. By all measures, Op THUNDER RUN should have ended up a repeat of the Grozny disasters. But because the Iraqis did not expect such a foolhardy act, they never planned for it.
     
  16. zraver

    zraver Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir the series of fights that began at 67 Easting ended up being one of if not the largest tank battles in history in terms of numbers of AFV's involved. Its also the largest meeting engagement of all time As you know both sides knew the other was in the area but not exactly where. NATO emphasis on fighting and winning the recon battle paid off in spades. The first allied units made contact at 15:30 and by the time the battle was done the Iraqi's had lost the bulk of the Medina, Tawalkana and Adnan Republican Guard Divisions along with the most of the 10, 12, 17th and iirc 52nd Armored divisions from the Iraqi National Army.

    Because the allied units (VII Corp consisting of the 1st AD, 3rd ID, 2ACR and UK 1st AD) where able to develop the battle and paint a picture of what the enemy was doing and where he was doing it while denying that information to the enemy the victory was completely lopsided.

    Other examples of lopsided wins by the side that could see and not be seen include Bagration in WWII, the defeat of both the Pakistani 1st AD and Indian 1st AD in separate engagements at Assal utter and Chawinda respectively.

    Going back to the Tawalkana division this fight has important bearing on Light Units because like the Iraqi formation they tend to fight from a fixed piece of ground and have little ability to control the pace of the engagement under current doctrine with current systems.

    This is one reason I keep stressing the inclusion of some sort of maneuver unit that can go forward several kilometers from the MLR and begin the fight to control the pace of the battle, its scope and the transfer of information.

    Some reasons I favor the M966/M966A1 for this over say the German Weisel are

    1. that the pintle mount weapons station can hold a wide variety of systems- HMG, MMG, ATGM, AGL allowing mission tailoring from an anti-armor role to crowd control to convoy escort. It would not be hard at all to set up a mast mount for ATGM and surveillance systems to allow the unit to fight from behind cover, buddy laser or surveil from cover

    2. range 560km vs the Weisels 200km

    3. Quiet and low IR signature

    If we want to talk systems give me a 966 with a electrically operated lightweight mast mount that combines a single shot (before reloading) ATGM with a range out past 5km that is fire and forget via optical cueing and IR imaging that can also do anti-helicopter work. have the sight unit on the mast and also let it buddy laser for hellfires, copper heads and other munitions.

    The Book talked about a heavy divisions barreling in towards the light force.

    Imagine what a force of improved M966's that can engage from behind cover and fight past 5km. 12 such units teamed with 6 Apaches and 12 humvees with reloads could wipe out the divisions security element in short order. Once that heavy divisions is blind you can lead him into all sorts of nasty surprises.

    He won't know if you've planted mines in his path- he can lead with roller tanks but this slows him down and forces concentration of targets. A team that is off axis with a same egress could pop ADA or command units. You could even use exposure (from a safe distance of course) to make the enemy think he is seeing something other than what he is seeing. The point being that a blind unit can only react to what its enemy does.


    Another point is that the bigger the area the fight occurs in, the longer it takes to move from A to B. When talking about the allied efforts against the Tawalkana in 91 the term "like a hot knife through butter" is pretty fitting. But speed is relative. Lightning Over Water envisions battles that last 100-150 minutes. However if we look at 73 Easting we see
    The battle of 73 Easting started at 67 Easting at 1300 and the 2nd ACR's part was done at 2230 some 10.5 hours later at 74 Easting a mere 4 kilometers from where it began. How long would it take for an enemy to travel 10km from where it was first engaged to the DRB's main MLR. How many air and artillery strikes can be called down in that time? How exhausted and frustrated are the enemy troops. By beginning the fight away from where the commander wants to fight the main engagement its possible to control the engagement, stretch it out to allow more use of friendly air and artillery and deny the enemy mass.
     
  17. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Z,

    I think you've hit the fundamental flaw at LIGHTNING OVER WATER. It essentially tried to turn the army into the marines. Army thinks campaigns. Marines think battles.

    Look at this deeper, neither 73 Easting nor Medina Ridge during the Kuwait War needed to be fought. They've could been bypassed. The same with Basra in the Iraq War. An entire fortress in the rear of V Corps' lines did not impede V Corps' advance.
     
  18. deltacamelately

    deltacamelately Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir,

    As far as I see, even the US light troops were also not used as spearheads in Iraq. The heavy components, the 3d Infantry Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and British 7th Armoured Brigade, were given the toughest assignments where resistance was most likely. Lighter units from the 101st and 82d Airborne divisions were kept to the west, where opposition was much lighter.

    According to our perspective, Airborne Brigades, composed of crack troops with air support, have a rougher go of it against Divisions with enough firepower and some manouverability, because they lack integral armor and adequate artillery. The offensive they intend to accomplish may finally get moving only and only after heavy MBTs and IFVs from supporting Infantry Divisions can be flown into, say, captured airfields or enemy command centres, to reinforce the paratroopers that can effectively make dramatic airdrops behind enemy strong points. Aside, I too feel that in order to acquire the element of surprise and disrupt the enemy's capability to reorient its firepower, heavily fortified enemy strongholds should be bypassed wherever possible.
     
  19. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Whoa, Major, I do not know of any doctrine that can fly in heavy heavy MBTs in the middle of an operation.

    However, first, my apologies, the new toilet (read the other forum Christmas list) is getting my attention.

    And I will post new links soon about both the Soviet and Western battle books, specifically, I am going to identify what could be done when LIGHTNING OVER WATER was written.
     
  20. deltacamelately

    deltacamelately Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sir,

    You really are a maverick when it comes to catching the slightest vernacular abberation. Should have left out the "heavy".:)>
    Anyway, I meant armour and that can sure be inserted with calibrated precission.
    Did I miss something?
     
  21. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    The shower wall in my bathroom sprung a lead and rotted the studs and molded the drywall. I'm installing a new bathroom with the help of my father-in-law, my father, and my brother.
     

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