Fixing U.S. Army brigades


I stomped on the idea that the U.S.Army brigade designs might be sensible for conventional warfare a few days ago. Now let's be constructive and think about how they could fix that.

First, the hardware issues.

Hardware: Tube Artillery

In addition to largely absent battlefield air defences, the U.S.army's tube artillery has mediocre to poor quality (155 mm L/39 SPG and even towed). Their ranges and rates of fire (first minute) are substandard by now, and the towed guns have terrible survivability and issues and substandard responsiveness due to their limited traverse.
A correction of this deficiency might be possible with AGM / DONAR, which apparently can even be mounted on an 8x8 platform for a good road march mobility (I would rather propose HEMTT with protected cab as platform than Boxer, though). Other solutions than AGM are available, of course, but AGM looks most promising (if it really is reliable - I cannot judge this).

AGM module (on Boxer platform); 155 mm L/52, 10 rounds in first minute

Their only powerful anti-tank systems in their medium and light brigade types are few mounted TOW2 launchers and the portable Javelin launchers. Russia et al had 20+ years time to adapt to (counter) both; no Cold War ATGM remained without an effective counter for 20 years. Indeed, ordinary multispectral smoke does break both Javelin's and TOW2's approach to guidance easily.

Hardware: Short range AT
The U.S.Army might add man-portable unguided short range munitions such as Panzerfaust 3-IT600, or a supercalibre tandem shaped charge munition for their M3 Carl Gustav*. These are short-range munitions, but they require no guidance to meet expectations at all. The in-service AT4 is not a serious anti-MBT munition; AT4-CS is so only in urban warfare.
Panzerfaust 3 is more of a munition than a weapon, since only the grip and sight module piece is reusable. 
Panzerfaust 3 with computerized sight for 600 m useful range

The difference between "weapon" and "munition" is more important than it might seem: Army bureaucracies have tables of organisation and equipment. It's easy for the bureaucracy to change the equipment with additional munitions, but commonly it's difficult to add weapons beyond what the TO&E grants the small unit or unit. The less a piece of equipment is considered a weapon, the more likely it may be added to adapt the capability of a small unit to challenges of the next hours or days.

Panzerfaust 3 grip+sight units and rounds might be issued up to clip-on piece + several rounds per fireteam if there's a great need for short range AT firepower. The Carl Gustav on the other hand is a weapon allocated to infantry only, and but one per platoon. It's most unlikely that multiple of these heavy weapons would be handed out for a few hours or days only, and if so at most one per squad. This may make a huge difference, for many active defence suites are likely going to fail against salvo fires.

The Carl Gustav is more of a portable infantry gun than an anti-tank weapon actually, and won't be used in great quantity due to its launcher weight.
To adopt Panzerfaust 3-IT600 would thus offer much more AT firepower. It would also be 100% military off-the shelf, with no development costs or development time. I point out PzF 3 for its powerful calibre of 110 mm (more than the RPG-29's 105 mm), not because it's German. Man-portable 100-120 mm AT weapons/munitions are actually quite rare, but they're the only ones that can almost be trusted against MBTs.
MBT LAW and the weird (enhanced) ERYX are more options and likely more powerful against MBTs, but they're not quite as versatile.

Hardware: Long-range AT

Equally important might be an introduction of CKEM, a hypervelocity missile. Its quickness eliminates several counters that are relevant to Javelin, though CKEM would need to be coupled to a (possibly jamming-troubled) millimetre wave radar to eliminate the problem of concealment by multispectral smoke. Smoke couldn't be deployed in time to counter a launch (other than with Javelin and TOW-2), but artillery- and mortar-laid smoke that lasts for minutes (in the IR spectrum!) might provide a good preventive concealment. CKEM differs from Javelin and TOW-2 in its method of armour penetration: It is nearly identical to the M1 Abrams' 120 mm APFSDS munition. The minimum effective range of a CKEM may be several hundred metres (due to the slower acceleration than in a tank gun), so the aforementioned short range munitions would be important in some terrains.

Test footage of LOSAT missiles, conceptually similar to CKEM. Disregard the fake sounds.

AGM, Panzerfaust 3-IT600 and CKEM: Three hardware options to overcome critical shortcomings.

Now about the structure (brigade designs):

Structure: Heavy BCT
Their most sensible current brigade pattern is the heavy ("Armored") BCT pattern, though its road march deployability is poor. Hundreds of HETS are necessary to quickly deploy a brigade from Germany to Warsaw, for example. 
Too many tracked vehicles would break down on a long road march under own power. The march with all those routine maintenance breaks would be very slow, at least the drivers would be exhausted and the brigade would generally take days to technically recover from the march. The U.S.Army has enough HETS, though I have not seen any indication that enough are available to the Armored BCT in Germany. I don't consider deployment by rail as a reliable option because the rail network is too easily disrupted (the signals system is vulnerable even if diesel locomotives are used to avoid powerline issues). An entire battalion equivalent for operating enough HETS would be needed with the brigades in Germany. The personnel might be drawn from already present small units that serve no essential purpose in the event of crisis.

Structure: Medium BCT

The medium ("Stryker") BCT pattern is lacking a sensible concept of operations. The AT and arty firepower fixes would make it much more effective on defensive missions, but reinforcement by a tank battalion would be necessary for most offensive missions. It would make sense to have such a tank battalion's equipment in Germany and to fly in the personnel in times of need. The nearby Armored BCT's tank battalion could switch between using its own and 'foreign' tanks from month to month in order to avoid poor material readiness.

Structure: Light BCT

The light ("Infantry") BCT pattern needs the same treatment as the medium one. Again, the BCT should have limited (mostly by choice of terrain) defensive capability and after arrival of MBT reinforcements a limited (slow-moving) offensive ability in conventional warfare.
_ _ _ _ _

By the way:
I don't think that a forward deployment of some Armored BCTs to Northern or Eastern Poland would be desirable. The fiscal and political costs of setting up bases would be huge and a countering reallocation of Russian tank brigades would almost be guaranteed. It makes sense to plan for such a deployment, even assuming one or two years in improvised barracks, but a deployment right away makes no sense as long as the Russian Western Military District is strong only in regard to Moscow's integrated air defence cluster.
This drives my emphasis on quick 1,000+ km administrative marches with little or no early warning.

It doesn't take a super-complex and super-expensive program like FCS to drastically increase the fitness of the U.S.Army's hardware arsenal and brigade patterns for conventional warfare.
My proposals above weren't clean sheet optimal design proposals, but minimum quick fix proposals that could become effective within months (HETS allocation) to about five years (CKEM and AGM orders, production and introduction).


*: The Swedes developed a supercalibre shaped charge munition for the Carl Gustav in the early 80's, but it wasn't a tandem design to defeat explosive reactive armour (or overflight and sensor-fused EFP top attack design as MBT LAW) yet:

FFV 597

edit 20 July 2016: One could also look at SPIKE-SR (110 mm warhead, non-gimballed IIR senor, fire&forget, 50-1,500 m, from Israel) for short range SR due to its low weight, but it now has a range of 1,500 m declared, which would make it look like a Javelin (2,000 m) successor despite inferior capabilities. This would make it difficult to introduce SPIKE-SR as a lower range complementary equipment. Then again, Javelins are approaching the end of their shelf life and a successor isn't a terrible idea anyway.


  1. Good points. Small innovations make the biggest difference and they also trigger arms race.

    Competent forces can only rely on weapons that will perform 100% as intended, not on maybes or ‘one must use it a very specific way if one wants it to work’ (i.e RPG-7 vs heavy MBTs).

    Panzerfaust 3 grip+sight is fine if there is a backup sight permanently attacked on the ‘munition’ for immediate use by untrained personnel. (The Yugo copy of M72 LAW, M80 Zolja had a straightforward sight + the usual instruction sticker).

    Infantry needs low-cost and largely available man portable very short range artillery (20m-300m-900m) like Carl Gustav, M72 LAW, RPGs… with different types of warheads.
    During the Yugoslav conflicts, the former Soviet Union conflicts… it was not uncommon that each fighter carried 2 or 3 such one-shot disposable unguided anti-tank/thermobaric weapons (based on M72 LAW). The 1991 battle of Vukovar also saw a large and successful use of Armbrust (now Matador) fired form enclosed spaces.

    Some high tech disadvantage in combat
    Combat can be very short and intense, but it can also be very long (days and nights) and intense.
    After just day 1 + night 1 of intense combat: physical strength, concentration… dramatically fall;
    Day 2 + night 2 without fresh troops: hallucinations, disorientation, aiming devices/sights become barely used, dramatic increase in ‘friendly fire’… actions/reactions become survival automatisms, so that high tech toys might become useless.
    At that stage, the simple use of tear gas and smoke coulc provoke total panic and collapse of the line.

    I cannot find the pictures on the internet, but I remember some drawings from a 1990s military magazines with LOSAT systems, mounted on a deployable arm (articulated crane) and shooting from the reverse slop of a mountain, from above the roof and side of a house, in defilade mode… never actually exposing the vehicle/chassis/platfom.

    The mere existence of Polish and Baltic forces in the mentioned region, already serve as a forward deployment of force, though not armoured BTCs, unless very well dissimulated: transported like commercial goods and stored in factories and storage facilities (so loosing their eventual ‘protected civilian status’).

    1. It was meant for Bradley hull mostly, secondarily for AGS hull.




      CKEM would be much less bulky, more like TOW.

  2. One thing that hardly any TO&E tells is the units capability in mine warfare. How does american (or german) infantry deploy anti tank mines and directional charges aka claymores or do they have them at all? Certainly not a sexy topic in general but nothing beats detonating 20kg of TNT or bottom attack mine under MBT when your best anti tank weapon can't penetrate its ERA protected armor. Ability to deploy mines will effect units usefullness in conventional warfare for sure.

    1. The Heer doesn't seem to use Claymore-pattern mines.

      NATO's AT mine capabilities have shifted to scatterable mines during the 1980's. Away from pre-planned minefields to mine barriers laid quickly, suitable for ambushes on already moving targets.
      Very few AT mines are heavier than 10 kg nowadays IIRC, and they have been neglected/phased out due to the general anti-mine sentiment that surrounded the cluster munitions and AP land mine bans.

      The sensor fuzed jump mines (similar to sensor fuzed cluster munitions) have been introduced in the 90's, but are of limited utility. The American model is said to have a tendency to not lead the target enough; they hit the engine compartment or miss entirely.

      There was some research into coooperative smart and self-healing AT minefields. The mines were meant to identify gaps through their radio network and 'heal' those gaps by jumping (or otherwise moving) to fill the gaps. This would have made mineclearing very tricky and time-consuming since 5-10 clearing efforts would have been necessary to secure a single lane for real.
      No such smart minefields were ever developed fully afaik.

  3. So the capability is non-existant at the small unit level. A finnish company has made an anti tank fuze which is attached to a regular AT mine. It has by pass-function and shaped charge and can be armed after laying the mine with a remote control unit. By passes can be set from 0 to 99 so casuslties can be inflicted long after the enemy has passed the mine. In finnish use regular 10kg anti tank mines are usually stacked to achieve more certain kills on MBTs. A bottom attack mine with similar function to the fuze I mentioned is also in with by pass-funtion by infantry and engineer units. Mines play vital role in denying the enemy free movement and inflicting casualties. What you wrote about elusive ambushes are usually conducted in Finland with a great deal of mines, EFPs and claymores followed by a mortar fire mission to help break contact.

    1. It does happen that there is 0 AT weapon (i.e. because of an arms embargo*) and tanks are coming.
      A person that can approach a MBT, place a trotyl charge and detonate it already knows everything about AT warfare. Fighting armour with bare hands or with 2-3 122mm shells makes little difference at that knowledge level. That person could equally capture/kill crew and tank, it becomes a tactical choice.
      Tanks and crews are the most vulnerable when they are resting (eating, sleeping, ‘camping’, etc.), on approach/retreat or when ‘they believe they are the strongest’, in wolf-pack formations, on all-out assault, or… (Trpinjska cesta, battle of Grozny 1994-95, etc).
      Mines and trotyl charges are often used in guerrilla/partisan warfare.
      Mines can be used anywhere from 100% to 0% real (= up to 100% fake = deception).
      One can use radio guided land mines of any weight:

      * ‘when your best anti tank weapon can't penetrate its ERA protected armor.’
      There are only 3 ways to get weapons:
      1. own production;
      2. import and smuggling (even from OPFOR, it happens more often than one could think, ‘money talks’);
      3. war booty.
      Lifting a ‘strict arms embargo’ goes thru war booty. It can happen thru the use of ruse (i.e. Trojan Horse = fancily renamed by war pundits ‘asymmetric warfare’).

      ‘Mines play vital role in denying the enemy free movement and inflicting casualties’ only if one stands guard on the mines and IEDs. Mine laying/clearing, as the blogmaster wrote, is ‘very tricky and time-consuming’, it has to be done professionally with detailed maps and accountancy (war is only a temporary disease = dangerous long-term pollution of the land; Korean demilitarized zone?).
      One must stand guard on mines and keep watching, often with trained dogs, because OPFOR will always try to sneak and:
      1. to diffuse but not remove the mines, because they want you to believe that your plan is perfectly working;
      2. to remove because they need the explosive charges (= you supplying the OPFOR);
      3. AT mines are usually protected by AP mines;
      4. booby trap your ‘avenues’ to minefield and enter a vicious circle of tactical and psychological warfare in some (more or less strategic) parts of the front (usually in urban, forest, mountain warfare).

      S-mine types of mines are the most feared ones, for obvious reasons. You might find them in ‘chain-linked formation’ 3-5-7 S-mines linked together in a ‘denying/killing zone’.

      IEDs seem to be one of the most economical, efficient and ecologic mines because they are usually detonated under ‘direct visual’ supervision.

      I am personally against mines, because I hate them. Mines, unexploded ordnance and IEDs kill far more civilians, especially children who think they are toys (i.e. unexploded submunitions, handgrenade = dinosaur eggs?). I am no puritan nor ecological fanatic, but one has to think about the kind of life-threatening garbage one should not leave behind. Mine cleaning is also part of warfare and peace treaty.

      One might often see bear, wild bore, deer, wolf, fox, dog… carcasses in mine infested mountains and forests; but there is a huge proven ‘capability in mine warfare’, especially against armour, and I have no doubt about Finnish competence and skills.

    2. The Japanese showed how terrible AT defences that rely on explosives alone are.

    3. About mines being left to lay around in Finland has one of two outcomes: 1. we keep our sovereignity and disarm our own mines with the charts that were made when the minefields were deployed 2: mine infested areas are someone elses problem. They're a defencive weapon and such to make any aggression against Finland too costly to even be considered.

      In Finland we have this consept of "kokonaistulenkäyttö" which translates roughly to total fires. It consist of mines, direct fire (mgs, AT, etc) and indirect fire. All three must used in some form to get the best results. Sure others have similar consepts too, but in a word you might say mines are as important as machine guns and heavy artillery for us.

  4. Some childish tests: sorry, I don’t know how to post a sketch (a picture is worth a 1.000 words), but even that would not help, as I draw very badly.

    Losat vs tank

    Test 1: saving the M-60

    Losat is a fine AT weapon (and anti… anything) , but tanks are rarely moving straight along a horizontal line like on an airport runway, they travel up and down along irregular terrains, appear/disappear in natural terrain depressions, behind bushes and trees…
    How does Losat perform under such conditions?

    Test 2: M-60 in defilade position

    Tanks usually do not have secondary deployable optical sights, sensors, periscope on articulated robotic arms nor their own observation drone (some do, for not so much more money) that allow them to ‘observe/compute/pop-up and hit and hide’, or ‘observe/compute/transmit target data’ to another tank/vehicle to pop-up and hit and hide. The ‘observe/compute/transmit target data’ can also be done by third party (infantry, recon vehicle, drones, etc.). Thus, tank exposure is very short.
    How does Losat perform under such conditions?

    SPAA/ATW system (some acronyms are stupid)

    A few days ago, a reader proposed ‘… an infantry support tank, sort of a Gepard…’

    As Germany withdrew it from service, other nations decided to keep comparable systems in service (Japanese type 87, Chinese PGZ-07 SPAAA, etc.) and improve the system as SPAAG, infantry support, anti-tank and anti-ship (smaller one).

    Now, let's consider the use of a tracked/wheeled self-propelled anti-aircraft/anti-tank weapon (SPAA/ATW) with 30-35mm guns (and reserve cold barrels?), AA missiles and AT missiles (including Losat). SPAA/ATW is constructed guns up or that can elevate guns for turret down fire. SPAA/ATW has secondary deployable optics: optical sights, sensors, periscope on articulated robotic arms.
    Does maximum fighting range often exceed 5.000m (or 10.000m, under perfect meteorological and terrain conditions)?
    Having in mind, the multispectral smoke and next step:

    Test 3: SPAA/ATW vs Losat (static)

    Both systems are static, facing each other at any distance, at equal or unequal elevation (mountain/valley) and simultaneously engaging each other.
    Losat missile = 1524 m/s
    30-35mm shell = 1000-1500 m/s (HEI-T, SAPHEI, FAPDS, AHEAD, RP)
    a. 1 losat missile vs 1 burst (some red phosphorus shells are rapidly spraying multispectral smoke)
    b. Several losat missles vs 1 longer burst (some red phosphorus shells are rapidly spraying multispectral smoke)
    How do SPAA/ATW/Losat perform under such conditions?
    Will the 30-35mm shells ‘meet’ and destroy the losat missile?

    Test 4: SPAA/ATW vs Losat (moving)

    Same as test 3, changing above variables, one of them and both systems moving in unpredictable patterns.
    How do SPAA/ATW/Losat perform under such conditions?
    Will the 30-35mm shells ‘meet’ and destroy the losat missile?

    Test 5: SPAA/ATW vs M58 Wolf Smoke Generator System

    SPAA/ATW does not need to ‘see’ a target, it can ‘blindly’ hit one/several in the smoke screen by firing bursts.
    How does SPAA/ATW perform under such conditions?

    Test 6: SPAA/ATW with optics on articulated robotic arms
    Vs tank with optics on articulated robotic arms

    SPAA/ATW could possibly see and engage tank deployable optics, due to its turret down capability. It would not result in a ‘kill’ unless it is a top kill missile that is fired?
    What would be the outcome of such an encounter?

    1. LOSAT/CKEM are very similar to APFSDS, which is well understood. The missile is slower (weaker) initially and needs slightly more time till impact. It may be slightly vulnerable to EMP soft kill (as are all ATGMs).

      CKEM would be a APFSDS substitute for forces without main battle tank support.

  5. You are also forgetting the training aspect. It is slowly fixing itself now that we are largely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but everyone in the US Army is very well trained and experienced in convoy protection and armored infantry operations. For the past several years the artillery components rotating through a nearby military post failed basic qualifications - they would get home from the sandbox and turn around to work up for their next deployment. They hadn't really done timed artillery drills since their initial training.

    We as a military became too specialized to combat insurgencies and neglected "big army" stuff like armored warfare, light infantry and artillery components. Add to the fact that no one knows how to actually use the fancy shit we do have (ie, in Afghanistan everyone who was issued active night vision optics left the light on the whole patrol. We would have looked like Christmas lights to anyone with a Vampir scope, let alone the surplus gen 1 and 2 stuff that is available to anyone with a few free bucks to spend.

    1. Not quite forgotten. The U.S.Army began to pivot towards training for conventional warfare ("Fulda Gap" style) years ago already. I suppose was going on anyway, and I kept this list short by pointing out only a few decisive ingredients that don't seem to be on the right track.

  6. Is Donar more capable then PzH2000?

    Something doesn't add up, even with the auto loader it is half the weight.

    I would go a different route and exchange the missile used for Spike as they can be used by fibre-cable, with the idea that there are 90 120mm guns already in the brigade.

    A bit more extensive changes would be to add a NLOS Spike company, add one HAPC company per manouver battalion and add some SPAAG/SPSAM capability.

    1. The Armored BCT isn't the one with the AT weakness. It's about the medium and light ones, and it's asking a bit much to expect the U.S.Army to introduce different ATGMs in these brigade patterns. Spike uses the same kind of sensor as Javelin, is about as fast and is thus susceptible to the same countermeasures - unlike CKEM et al.
      It's also asking a bit much to expect the U.S.Army to get real in regard to battlefield SHorAD. They were playing games with DIVADS, Roland etc. even around 1980!

    2. Wasn't CKEM canceled?

      The advantage of Spike is that it has other modes then fire and forget, if the opponent is smart and good enough to use counter measures. The speed is bad and it should be a very killable missile.

      The Stryker brigades lack a clear use scenario, other then occupation.
      There are better trucks to be used as battle taxis while the armament is very strange for a IFV.

    3. The exact status of CKEM is a bit fuzzy. It seems they simply developed it, but then didn't introduce it. Apparently it didn't get a XM designation, which may indicate that it was more of a research project (as s many German HVM projects) than seriously meant to be introduced into service. Maybe the MBT lobby feared competition when a 4x4 car could substitute for a tanks' firepower.

      I once inquired the developing company about the status of CKEM, which told me that the program was concluded in IIRC 2006 and any further questions should be asked the program management office. That one predictably didn't reply to someone who is using a .de e-mail address.

      I suppose they could bring CKEM or LOSAT into service in 3 years if they really wanted to. To develop the launcher with its sight would cause the delay, not the already tested missile.

  7. On the light AT front,

    I'd like to see a family of low-cost missiles developed to supplant/replace the LAW and AT4. Use traditional, simple SACLOS guidance to keep the costs down and greatly increase hit % at range. Have a simple on-munition sight for short to medium range targets and a separate (still simple) firing post that uses common, rail-mounted MMG/HMG sights. All munitions should be soft-launch for firing from enclosures. This should also help reduce the overall munition weight as well, since the missile doesn't have to be launched at or near its max velocity.

    The munitions should be compatible with the Javelin CLU as well.

    Develop a range of munition sizes and warheads. Perhaps 60-70mm diameter, ~90mm diameter and an oversized round (105mm+). Introduce HEAT, HE, anti-bunker and thermobaric warheads at various sizes. The largest round could also have a downward-firing warhead like MBT-LAW.

    Effective range of these missiles could be 5-1000m with simple sights. Perhaps more with advanced sights.

    The cell phone revolution in small electronics and optics should make these relatively simple missiles fairly inexpensive.

    You can choose to issue these as munitions, without firing posts, or as an alternate missile for Javelin teams. And you can sprinkle additional inexpensive firing posts around, if you want to improve long-ranged fires.

    Javelin needs to adopt a fiber-optic tethered round, like Spike LR. This opens up the possibility of indirect fire launches as well as fire-observe-update modes.

    I understand your interest in CKEM, but I think a more effective capability would be a very-long-range, indirect fire ATGM like Spike NLOS, Polyphem or EFOGM. Jamming could be a problem for Spike NLOS datalink, but the other two used unjammable fiber optics. Multi-spectral smoke could reduce their effectiveness, but only temporarily.

    Such a weapon has fewer geographic constraints and can cover vastly more area from hidden, survivable locations. Given enough range, a battalion ATGM company could cover the entire battalion from a single location.

    There are also some interesting developments in persistent UAV/munition systems. At some point these should play a part.

    1. I wouldn't doubt technical obstacles for FOG past 8km. But perhaps build a system that could take both an 8km FOG missile (Spike ER or "TOW ER") or a 20km wireless missile (Spike NLOS).

      Jamming is the obvious counter, but jamming can be dealt with using ESM to localize jammers for counterfire.

      Fleeting targets might be an issue, but only for long range shots. You can still use an NLOS system at closer range, but you can't do the opposite. You can't use shorter range systems to hit long range targets.

      A 20km missile flying at 220m/s takes around 90 seconds to reach its max range. A tank travelling at 40km/h will move about a kilometer in that time. But a tank column likely won't move in any direction in that time. It'll likely move down a well defined path (road). So a fire-observe-update system could just look further down the road. Or a UAV could observe movements and pass back targeting updates to the firing unit (or directly to the missile).

      So I don't think the "fleeting target" problem invalidates the concept. Just might constrain the effectiveness of long range shots, or force you to combine assets to mitigate the latency.

      Just note, any kills you can make at 20km or 15km or 10km are vehicles you don't have to fight up close, where they can shoot back. Not to mention the disruptions to unit morale and cohesiveness when they are constantly under the threat of "death from above" ATGM strikes.

    2. One side benefit to creating a Family of Light Missiles (FoLM) is that we could inexpensively bolster allied (e.g. Balkans, Poland, Ukraine) anti-tank firepower without proliferating our front line systems (Javelin).

  8. On tube artillery, I'm starting to wonder if a mixture of 105mm and 155mm artillery should be reintroduced. Given the ban on cluster munitions, 155mm loses some of its appeal.

    Perhaps we need to re-introduce the distinction between direct support 105mm systems, and general support 155mm guns, but at the brigade/battalion level. Assign 105mm SPGs directly to battalions, and keep 155mm at the brigade level.

    This could significantly reduce the artillery munition logistics burden for brigades.

    Modern 105mm munitions have closed some of the gap in 155mm range and lethality. The Denel G7 can reach 30km with base bleed projectiles. 105mm PFF HE rounds approach lethality of older 155mm HE rounds. Advances in small, smart submunitions could enable 105mm guns with Smart155/Bonus capabilities.

    Develop a high-ROF SPG system for heavy divisions, and a lower ROF, lighter system for other brigade types.

    1. The U.S.Army has very little ability to introduce or even develop all-new platform/weapon systems.

      I was limiting the text to a few pivotal points rather than creating a sketch of some ideal design.

    2. Understandable.

      A 105mm LEO-based SPG prototype was built on the Stryker chassis. Presumably the turret could be coupled with the Bradley chassis.

      Obviously rolling out a new munition and propellant line along with changes in battalion organization would be difficult and disruptive.

      Just thinking out loud.

  9. On unit structure, I think the light IBCT needs the most help. They need to have full vehicular mobility that doesn't require corps/divisional augmentation. IMHO, it should be baked into the battalion, company or even platoon.

    I know they want to be light, and have the tough-guy "light fighter" ethos, but operationally, they will almost always need vehicles. I'd stick with upgraded HMMWVs, personally. Switch them out for JLTV or MRAPS if the deployment warrants it.

    HMMWVs are relatively cheap. We can preposition sets of them around the world for a lot less than Strykers or HBCT vehicles. JLTV is too expensive and doesn't have an effective troop carrier (seats per vehicle), from what I've read.

    We can "Technical"-ize them with all of the kit developed for SPECOPS GMVs and other uses.

    Two options would be to push them down to the lowest level (platoon) or pool them at a higher level (bde, bn, coy) and dole them out as needed. Both have merits and drawbacks.

    I like the idea of pushing them down to the lowest level. Then troops get more familiar with their specific vehicles and learn specific idiosyncrasies. They can also take pride in the maintenance and condition of their vehicles, as well as proficiency in using them.

    If pooled at a higher level, then vehicles are treated as "someone else's problem" when things break.

  10. Sven you expanded on your U.K. land forces post. You went as far as explaining numbers of brigades, etc. Would you be willing to do the same for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as they would relate to your beliefs and ideas for U.S. defense needs?

    1. The actual defence needs are literally unbelievably small.

      2 active combat brigades at Oahu, 1 active combat brigade at Anchorage
      150-200 multirole fighters (F-18E/F)
      20 AEW&C, OTH and regular long range radar stations
      an ANG that consists of an active part for training (basic, branch, NCO and officer training) and 5-10 brigade deployable equivalents wartime strength
      coastal ASW and minehunting capabilities (enough to secure EITHER Pacific coast OR Atlantic/Caribbean coast traffic)
      containerised ASW + command + SAR helo + missile/torpedo defence modules for self-protecting ship convoys on EITHER the San Francisco-Honolulu or the New York-Lissabon route

      Guam isn't defensible and should be secured by an international treaty as demilitarised zone with undisputed U.S. sovereignty. Besides, it's tiny. It makes no sense to justify huge military expenses with its defence - that's a similar situation as with the UK's Falkland Islands.

      A nuclear deterrent may be maintained, but should consist of 200 already refurbished W76 warheads in lead containers and hundreds of decoys (identical radiation emissions and mass), scattered around hundreds of already well-secured locations and some carried by conventional submarines hiding in the Great Lakes.
      The warheads could be adapted for use in air-launched cruise missiles, freefall and glide bombs and for clandestine insertion.

      So that's a level of defence preparedness at which the USA would still be much better secured than all small powers world-wide (in part due to its geography), especially taking into account its European allies. This is affordable at about USD 50 bn annually (excluding veterans costs).

      To meet defence commitments to Japan and Taiwan would primarily require more air power (2x to 3x).
      I don't think the current USN or USAF could keep runways operational on Taiwan that would allow reinforcement by large transport aircraft and I don't think they could escort convoys to Taipeh at acceptable losses. So all those extra expenses provide very little security to Taiwan. Taiwan's defence sucks as of today because its own forces are poorly suited for their job, and the USA cannot change this unless it donates huge amounts of suitable equipment.

  11. Thank you much for the detailed response. Thoughts on South Korea? Would the 5-10 ANG brigades be active or reserve? You don't mention the Marine Corps so I'll assume you don't see a need for them.

    Again, thank you.

    1. The marines were never about national defence, unless you count their failure to defend Guam or their marginal role in 1812 on land.

      ANG is by definition reserve (with a training schedule).

      South Korea could either ally with Japan for real (too much aversion and outdated fear about their sovereignty) or PR China (too much aversion and justified fear for their sovereignty).

      So there's another option; become the Switzerland of East Asia. Armed enough to make any invasion a mess and airspace violations risky, but still hopeless against Chinese invasion. You don't need to win a war of defence if you avoid it, so this hopelessness is no dealbreaker.

  12. Again, thank you for responding. I agree with you on your ideas of defense force allocation. My only question is one of suitability for two brigades in Hawaii. It's my understanding that adequate training above company level is almost impossible to accomplish. Putting a Stryker brigade on Oahu was a dumb idea, but has since been rectified. Maybe pulling the two brigades off Oahu and leaving two in Washington state would ease training issues and costs. But leaving Oahu without a ground force element might be irresponsible. I don't know. I do know that my country needs to mind its business and offer more carrots and less stick. I guess time will tell.

  13. Sven, as you wrote above the actual defense needs for U.S. forces is quite small based on the geography of the U.S. Baded on this assumption how should these three active and 5-10 brigades be organized? Does the creation of mega city brigades trained for urban combat have merit for defending or retaking U.S. cities? What would be our responsibility to NATO in providing the right types of combat units for peer warfare?

    Thanks for considering my questions.

    1. USN air power minus USMC air power is all air power that's needed.
      NG ground troops are plenty land power.
      Guam should be secured by a demilitarisation treaty, with Chinese overseas Gold and currency reserves as deposit.

      Armed forces concentrations would make sense on Oahu, at Anchorage and at a couple naval West Coast bases. There's not even a remotely realistic threat in the north, south or east.

      BMD is redundant with nuclear deterrent, but it's already paid for.

      The navy that's needed is the most interesting question. CVBGs are not needed, dozens of SSNs are overkill as well. I suppose the USN should rather be able to create convoys that can defend themselves against subs and auxiliary cruisers (including auxiliary cruiser's helicopters). The quantities of warships - as expensive as they are - are near-meaningless compared to the size of the Pacific Ocean and evena hundred frigates would not suffice to secure maritime trade.
      The USN should look at the EH-101A as convoy AEW and revive the ARAPAHO concept to create self-defending convoys.

  14. How many days would take a 1.000km march (inc. preparation, loading tracked vehicles on HETS, and getting back in fighting order) for 1) a heavy BCT 2) a medium BCT (Stryker) ?

    1. This is extremely complicated, and I don't know what internal investigations or exercises yielded.
      The technical marching speed allows for one day if there are enough qualified drivers or "go" pills are used. The HBCT would furthermore need enough tank transporters, which it won't have. Tracked vehicles that need to march 1,000 km on their own would be about half as fast only and need MANY qualified drivers (it's exhausting) and they would have breakdowns, worn-out parts on top of previous worn status.

      There are many issues that slow down from the technical limit. Political lag, required permissions by the authorities of the sovereign countries that the convoys need to march through (in Germany permissions from multiple states), technical readiness of equipment well below 90% on average days, time required to get munitions out of depots and so on.

      And then there's the personnel issue. How much of the personnel is deployable right away? Modern armies usually don't have supernumerarii (personnel beyond the nominal strength). Only about 70...80% of personnel may be deployable within 48 hrs at all.

      I suppose in practice they would get political waivers for transit rights, weak advance parties might arrive within 36 hrs for logistical purposes, a vanguard within 48 hrs, and after a week or so a HBCT would have about 80% of its strength moved to the battlefield 1,000 km away, but not at 100% technical or training-wise readiness.
      A snap experiment in peacetime would probably require 2...3 weeks.

      So that's my guess.