2012/09/07

Employment of the M982 in Afghanistan

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The latest on-line issue of Fires (a U.S.Army artillery branch journal) has a gem in it: An article about the employment of a precision artillery shell in combat.

by MG (RET) Toney Stricklin

The article is a gem because it's such a nice demonstration of how a piece of material in itself doesn't mean much. Sure, he praises the round, but look at his focus: The availability of the identical piece of hardware had vastly different impact on U.S.Army and USMC forces in a single theatre of war. They're even from the same nation.
Training, organisation, region and mindset were creating a difference of an order of magnitude!

He also points out by the way how skills have deteriorated over the past decade, adding his voice to those who already complained about certain neglect of some military skills.



Finally, two critical remarks:

M982 (dummy)
(1) Guided ammunition is usually very, very accurate. The CEP (circular error probable) was a few metres even with some of the earliest guided weapons, and the M982 round is usually very accurate as well. CEP and similar measurements are badly misleading for guided ammunitions, though: They refer usually (if not always) only to the ammunitions that worked. A guided shell with a malfunction might stray off the mark much more than an errant dumb shell. In addition, guided ammunitions with a largely ballistic trajectory are at times not aimed as carefully as dumb rounds or even deliberately aimed such that their trajectory would overshoot the target without guidance. The latter adds some energy for manoeuvring to the trajectory.
All this means that a super-accurate shell design may work super-accurately many times, only to ruin your day another time. It's a matter of risk acceptance. Take his remarks about dispersion with this grain of salt.

(2) He didn't use the sunk costs fallacy argument when discussing the costs issue, despite it being largely applicable to the situation. Disappointing.

S Ortmann
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1 comment:

  1. They had their "eyes on a high value target" so they drop one on him.

    At one shell per KIA, it probably is relatively cheap compared to some of the other weapon systems we are using.

    It reminds me a little of when Lind stated how he knew we lost Iraq when he heard how the Air Force had blown up a train station in an anti-guerilla strike.

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