2021/09/25

Affordable dismounted combat equipment enhancement

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This blog post will lay out how the cost drivers of infantry equipment can be reduced to such a degree that poorly-funded armies and reservist infantry, support field troops & air force security personnel of well-funded armed forces can be equipped properly for a dismounted fight.

Cost drivers

The #1 cost driver of infantry is the personnel itself, through direct costs, overhead costs and opportunity costs. This cannot be helped much, but you may delete excess personnel from the table of organisation and 'outsource' wartime tasks into reserves. A reservist costs but a tiny fraction of an active duty soldier in personnel expenses.

The historical cost drivers included the firearm (about 45% of a worker's monthly salary for a rifle in 1930's Germany) and clothes (especially the boots), but these aren't really the cost issues nowadays. A good firearm (quality assault rifles can cost about 1,100 € per copy in bulk purchase) and good, functional clothes (hundreds of Euros per soldier) may cost less than 2,000 € per infantryman, an average month's income of an employee in Germany. So the ratio between clothes + gun to monthly average income remained about the same, but these items are merely the basics nowadays.

Estimates about the price of equipment for a U.S. Army infantryman today are well above 15,000 €. 

This infographic is about 15 years old, see also video at 27:51 here.

A proper frag protection helmet and frag protection vest should each cost much less than 500 € combined in army-level bulk purchases. Higher level protection costs more, but is very uncommon in poor army infantry, reserve infantry and among non-combat troops in general (and thus outside the scope of this text).

I don't have detailed data, but by my estimate the new big cost drivers are in no particular order

(a) night vision

(b) radio

(c) firearm sights

Sights can add a lot depending on how ambitious you are, a normal intra-squad radio adds hundreds to thousands of Euros and night vision can cost thousands of €.

Affordable equipment needs to last and have a long shelf life as well. This is necessary because reserves might take items from storage after decades of no use (just with regular counting for inventory bookkeeping). Air force security personnel are wannabe infantrymen and treat their equipment about as harshly as infantry does. Army field support units focus on their main tasks and are at risk to neglect basic infantry-ish soldiering skills and attention to equipment.

So we need long-lasting, long shelf life* affordable equipment for dismounted combat on a modern battlefield.** The price should be divided by the years this equipment lasts, with a bit of discounting of distant future years, as the equipment would stagnate in quality (save for software updates), while competing equipment improves.*** This means a shorter-lasting yet cheaper equipment can be the equivalent to a more expensive equipment in terms of utility for money AND average relative performance.

(A) night vision

The cheapest night vision for short duration is illumination by pyrotechnics, but those burn typically for 30...120 seconds and are thus not a satisfactory solution. Night vision devices have provided superior answers since the 1940's and became standard during the 1990's in decent-funded armies. The cheapest night vision devices are digital cameras, not very much unlike smartphone cameras in nature. They don't come close to the more old fashioned image intensifier tubes in their ability to multiply light, though. Digital cameras would need extra light sources in overcast or new moon nights. Still, the technology CAN be extremely cheap (by comparison to other night vision), and shelf life well in excess of 10 years seems very feasible.


My proposal is a combination of digital night vision goggles, cheap IR aiming lasers, fluorescent bullet bases (tracer-like effect), COTS**** batteries and IR Illumination drones. (Only squad and platoon leaders would get some (cheap) thermal sight.)

Helmet-mounted digital night vision binoculars should be available to a bulk buyer at about 100 € per copy. It should be mentioned that digital night vision is consuming much more electrical power than analogue tech, so the supply and recharging of batteries is quite a burden by comparison.

The cheap IR lasers are visible only with night vision devices. You could have a simple laser trigger on a fore grip with both battery and laser installed in that very same fore grip. Such cheap IR lasers would be very effective aiming aids with helmet-mounted night vision devices at the relevant combat distances for the intended users. Price about 30 €

Fluorescent bullet bases should be more than bright enough with digital night vision goggles. The commercially available fluorescent tracer bullets are indeed too bright; the tracer effect should only be visible to night vision tech from behind. They would allow troops to see what others are shooting at, not just what others are aiming at (which can be shown with the aiming lasers). Every bit less confusion and cluelessness is welcome in nighttime firefight stress. (Cartridges are munitions, not weapons or personal equipment. I won't add the price of this.)

COTS batteries; AA AAA or CR2032 batteries won't become obsolescent anytime soon, and the ability to switch off the lights of red dot sights means that no tritium-illuminated sight is giving you away to night vision users at night. The price of such commercial batteries is negligible.

IR Illum drones; I wrote about IR Illum pyrotechnics weeks ago, and I also mentioned the duration  issue. It's likely MUCH smarter to have an artificial 'moon' (silent, unpredictably-manoeuvering drone at 100+ m altitude below cloud cover with a wide angle LED IR light) with 10...30 minutes on-station time. Someone 2+ km away would have to launch one such drone every 10...30 minutes, recharge the recovered ones and adapt the autopilot programming to changing needs. This should be less effort and cheaper after a night or two than using IR Illum a lot.

The soldiers could additionally deploy their own thrown LED beacons (set to flashing or illumination); a COTS battery coupled with a LED light and almost nothing else (example here). Their costs would be tiny (less than 5 € per copy including the battery) in a huge bulk purchase. Such LED beacons can also be used for communication, such as marking mine-free lanes, communicating to air power, marking cleared rooms and so on.

(B) radio

Intra-squad radios are a great tool, but they can also be quite costly. You can gold-plate them A LOT, up to complete inertial navigation system with occasional GPS/Galileo use, alerting for incoming indirect fires or aerial threats, NBC alert, voice-to-text and text-to-voice for minimizing data transmission needs, encryption/decryption. Alternatively, you could go for really cheap stuff that works under favourable conditions out to 400 m and costs 30 € per pair in toy stores. 

I suppose it's possible to find a middle ground; a bulk order for 100,000 pieces without (AA) batteries should be doable at prices that even the worst-funded NATO armies can afford. 128 bit encryption/decryption seems doable at that price. I say € 10 M including development effort; 100 € per copy for the launch customer for 100k items bulk purchase. This is still multiple times the price of Linux-capable maker computer boards with CPU, graphics and stuff. A self-made software-defined radio with encryption/decryption capability ends up at less than 50 € material cost in retail prices, by the way!

You can't have such prices if you don't encourage non-arms industries offers in your tender, of course. Harris, Thales and the likes would never offer such a price. Their rifleman radios cost thousands of Euros per copy.

(C) firearm sights

I've been arguing in favour of rather short infantry combat distances (at the very most 400 m dismounted vs. dismounted for assault rifles, but only up to 200 m is really relevant) for a while because you did something wrong if you can be seen from more than 100 m distance and you shouldn't give your position away with needless shooting before you were detected. Leave all the 300+ m targets to snipers, AFVs, indirect fires or collect intelligence by observing them rather than forcing them to become more stealthy! Shorter combat ranges also allow for more lightweight weapons, munitions and sights.

The natural conclusion for affordable sights is thus a red dot sight with an integral on/off switch and CR2032 battery power (COTS). Sights for longer ranges aren't needed. The price per red dot sight could be as low as € 50. Quality sights cost a lot more, but this is about making it affordable for troops who would usually not have quality sights anyway. Red dot sights (and their batteries) could be trusted down to -20° C. This would usually suffice, and a very simple (100 m fixed range) folding 'iron' sight could be installed as backup. Even a cheap red dot sight is a huge improvement over iron sights in the stress of battle (not so much on a firing range).


Maybe I'm delusional here, but I estimate the normally just assault rifle + clothes + helmet equipped support soldier of some Eastern European NATO army or Western European army reserves could be turned into a much more effective and thus much more confident (and this is the real value here!) night combat-capable rifleman at the staggering price tag of  about 300 € plus 300 € per infantry squad and platoon (COTS thermal imagers for small unit leaders to enhance detection) and another 20,000 € at unit or battalion level (for the illumination drones set). (This leaves frag protection vests out as they are already widespread in use.)

Let's assume a hypothetical support battalion of  300 personnel with 10 platoons and 30 squads. This sums up to about 122,000 € modernization cost for the whole formation. The illumination drone team of two might need a cheap 4x2 vehicle, let's assume 15,000 € for that as well. The expense per head stands at about 450 €. This is affordable. It would shock our procurement agencies with its lack of mil spec robustness, but the alternative is to have no night vision other than an NCO's flare gun and flashlights, usually only iron sights only, and no intra-squad radios at all.

This applies just as much to infantry of poor non-NATO countries and of course also to stored sets for reservists and 'rear' area troops in well-funded armed services.

2021/09/18

Uniforms are an obsolete concept

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Everybody nowadays agrees that the red, blue, white uniforms of the absolutism era and even 19th century would be a horrible idea on a modern battlefield. They made troops especially visible and identifiable, which made the commanding of formations on a battlefield easier. Firearms improved in firepower, and it became imperative to seek concealment, cover, camouflage and be dispersed.

The French persisted in using colourful uniforms into WWI
(correctly colourised photo)

The reason why such easily visible uniforms are obsolete is that they're too easy to detect and identify. You cannot afford that on a modern battlefield because firepower has become terribly lethal (and the partial bulletproofing of infantry doesn't change this).

That's EXACTLY the reason why I think that ALL uniforms - including modern ones - are obsolete.

What? You think it's not that easy to see a camouflage pattern-clothed soldier outdoors at 100 m?

Me neither, but you should stop thinking with your eyes. This is the age of electronics. It's a decades-old story that law enforcement uses aerial sensors to find marijuana plants based on their colour spectrum.* This is literally something that can be done with a man-portable drone over several kilometres range.

Likewise, all those exactly military specification-following camouflage clothes and vehicle camouflage paint jobs (and even the industrially-made ghillies and camouflage nets) can (as far as I know) be detected quite easily by their spectral fingerprint. They stand out to a appropriately-prepared sensor and computer as bright red would do.

A typical man is unable to correctly name more than two or three shades of green. Some Amazonian tribe reputedly knows 50 names for different shades of green. A computer can correctly identify ten thousands of shades of green in less than 1/1000th of a second.

Weathering of colours (such as many times washed clothes, or old vehicle paint jobs) is very likely something that the algorithm can simply take into account. The false alarm rate may be an issue, but today's machine learning methods and an ability to zoom in on a first detection for confirmation should render false alarm rates acceptable.

Camouflage patterns are furthermore patterns. Repeat, patterns. Pattern recognition is one of the strengths developed for computers in the past two decades. Camouflages patterns are difficult to discern from certain backgrounds for a human brain at certain distances - but a dedicated computer algorithm can identify such patterns easily regardless of context.

 

In the end, technology may spell doom for uniforms and standardised vehicle paint jobs for battlefield usage, leaving us with uniforms for non-battlefield troops, which would be a relic - largely devoid of function.

The things that may be redeemable about battlefield uniforms are their shapes (cut) and materials.


Predictability hurts in warfare - and what's more predictable than an army wearing the same clothes and painting all its vehicles alike, for decades?


edit: a somewhat related research paper

https://www.scientific.net/AMM.135-136.341

Figure 4 shows the problem; the amouflage fabric looks like foliage to us humans, but a spectrum analysis shows something completely different. Figure 6 reminds me of how algorithms can easily discern a small boat from a background of seawater and white spray - the effective contrast is much greater to the algorithm than to the human brain.

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

 example: channelsystems.ca/sites/default/files/documents/UseofSpectralPropertiesforWeedDetectionandIdentification_Noble.pdf  If still in doubt, look up 'marijuana spectrum detection', but absolutely avoid searching for 'marijuana spectrum'...

P.S.:  Years ago I wrote that camo pattern uniforms are fine for non-combat, non-reconnaissance troops, but combat and reconnaissance troops should strive for better camouflage effect than possible with standard pattern uniforms. Ghillie-like camo jackets modified for the local and seasonal environment, for example. Camo pattern clothing risks suggesting that it's good-enough camo by itself, but both combat and recce troops should strive for better stealth than that. One way to ensure this could be to give them monochrome grey, green or brown camo clothes (at least for the torso). Now I think that maybe the visible parts of such a colour base layer could be very troublesome.

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2021/09/11

Sensor fusion attack drones

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An Israeli firm exhibited a supposedly world-first drone in July*; it is a loitering kamikaze drone that combined a passive radio frequency seeker with rather ordinary electro-optical and thermal sensors.

 
 (marketing video; don't believe everything you see in advertising)
 
It appears to be the product of the 'small Harop' development project (I could have checked this, but it's too peripheral and I'm no paid author here).
 
This drone is no doubt still rather expensive (think: car to super sports car price range) and it's big, but let's assume that costs and sizes go down over time as usual and make such drones/missiles affordable in large quantities. 

The new face of air dominance** would not be thousands of P-47s, Typhoons and other tactical aircraft over Normandy '44 or hundreds of A-10s and supersonic jets slaughtering withdrawing Iraqis in 1991: It could be thousands of loitering (and in case of no success returning for recovery) drones that do not only search for targets with thermal sensors (often based on cues by dedicated recce assets), but also detect almost all*** kinds of radio emissions as a lead for further investigations with IIR and E/O. Multiple communicating drones could pinpoint emitter locations precisely by triangulating, so ceasing emissions is of little help against drones that can look with imaging infrared sensors and know very well where to look.

Movements would compromise stealth as they did in '44 and ever since, but so would also many uses of radar and radio communications.

This is not only a horror scenario for underfunded small country armed forces fearing that their country might be targeted for bullying by some great power(s): Such oppressive use of drone airpower might be the fate of those who neglect updating their idea of air war and reorienting their battlefield air defences in time. An once-a-decade investment of € 1 bn with almost no operating costs might suffice to dull the tip of the spear of two mechanised NATO brigades.

 
*: This blog post was actually written and scheduled for publication on July 15th.
**: This is about the exploitation of air dominance. How to gain and sustain it is a different issue.
***: Some radio frequencies have so very high atmospheric dampening and some such emitters so very low power that detection is impractical beyond uselessly short distances. This includes wireless communication between personally electronics carried by the same person or vehicle. Other radio links would be directional and some radars would 'look' horizontally with too little emission power upwards to where the drones would be.
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2021/09/04

Link dump September 2021

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www.geomatec.com/products-and-solutions/optical-control/anti-reflection-and-anti-glare/gmoth/

It's a couple years old, but I suppose it could be relevant for windows of subsonic aviation and land vehicles in regard to avoiding the glare that's in daylight more of an issue than whether your camo paintjob is plain grey or some fancy digital six-colour pattern. This glare issue is why AFVs and many battlefield helicopters have only flat glass areas that reflect direct sunlight only in one direction instead of in many like a beacon.

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Don't be a covidiot.

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 FYI gidmk.medium.com/is-ivermectin-for-covid-19-based-on-fraudulent-research-5cc079278602

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This is a humorous collage showing Russian troops on Kabul airport. It made me wonder whether there's a point to having a tail gunner position AND a bow gunner position on military transport aircraft after all.

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I blame Austria for the existence of this joke.

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[German] tagesspiegel.de/politik/heiko-maas-und-der-abzug-aus-afghanistan-wer-wissen-wollte-konnte-wissen/27535630.html

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[German] zeit.de/stoerungsmelder/2021/08/24/goldgraeber-am-rechten-rand_30939

Ich meine ja schon seit Jahren, dass es wichtig ist, über den Schwachsinn der in Amerika abgeht informiert zu sein. Deren Schwachsinn schwappt häufiger mal nach Europa über. Diese Verquickung von rechter Propaganda/Hetze/Angstmacherei mit Verkauf von Büchern, Nahrungsergänzungsmitteln, Gold, Waffen und Post-Apokalypse Ausrüstung (zum Beispiel schwachsinnig unzureichend kleine Mengen von Saatgut) ist dort schon seit langem ein offensichtlicher Bestandteil des rechtsradikalen Subkultur. Beispiele:

nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/05/how-does-alex-jones-make-money.html

esquire.com/news-politics/videos/a56714/john-oliver-alex-jones/

Auch beliebt ist die Abzocke als Geschäftsmodell bei weißen Evangelikalen "Predigern" (insbesondere beim 'prosperity gospel' mit dem "seed" Schwachsinn), die sich auch mit Rechtsradikalen vermischen, weil sie nicht blöd sind und wissen, dass der Rechtsradikalismus ein Sammelbecken für Schwachköpfe und andere Leichtgläubige ist. Das ist genau die Zielgruppe, die Evangelikale für ihren eigene Maschen brauchen.

Diese Abzocke mit eigentlich offensichtlichem Schwachsinn erzeugt also ein Profitmotiv und auch finanzielle Fähigkeiten für antidemokratische Gruppen, die einen Großteil ihrer Landsleute einfach nur noch hassen.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/08/28

A high-end conventional land warfare doctrine (III)

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Now let's imagine the *evil* Russians launch the Great Patriotic War 2nd Edition for Re-unification of the motherland and invade the Baltics. There's little or no other justification for Western European land forces spending at high levels, so it's my go-to scenario
 
 
The invaders would have an initial advantage of surprise and quickly overrun the Baltics and the Polish garrisons close to Kaliningrad Oblast, but the militias would activate largely unscathed. The Polish would panic and mass remaining regular army troops close to their capital Warsaw plus a delaying force between Warsaw and Belarus. 
 
The German army could respond in force the quickest (if prepared!) due to geography. Pontoon bridging would bridge the Oder and Vistula, bypassing busted bridges. Six German brigades would deploy near full strength within few days together with one raider regiment, one Fernspäher regiment, a few brigades from the Czech Republic, Hungary, the U.S. and some all-wheeled French formations. The German corps would at first set up its forward support group part North of Warsaw and its rear one inside or Southwest of it. The battalion battlegroups would establish something of a line to check the invader advance, and the heavy skirmishing would commence where infiltrations could be executed at reasonable risks. The raiders would dash forward through further gaps they had to find themselves while Fernspäher teams peel off from their convoys east of the Baltic allies' territories to go into observation posts. Kaliningrad Oblast would be cut off for capture by later reinforcements. Raiders would set afire airbases, petrochemical and chemical industries and airports as far away as Moscow, and raid many high value targets including long-range jammers that target NATO electronic support aircraft and satellites. They would also become an integral part of the air war effort of dismantling Russian fighter and area air defence capabilities enough for the arriving NATO air power to intervene with almost full power aqnd without a lengthy DEAD (destruction of enemy air defences) campaign. 
 
Russian formations in the Baltics have to face destruction in very lopsided clashes or withdraw once disadvantaged by their moving pocket status, encircled by light and heavy skirmishers. Their air defences and reconnaissance assets wither away under the skirmishers' harassment and progressing constriction. 

Yes, Russia could threaten with tactical nukes in an attempt to deter a liberation of the Baltics, but there would be hardly any targets as even the corps-level support group clusters are dispersed in a 20x20 km area. It would take multiple 100+ kt TNTeq thermonuclear warheads to explode close to or over Warsaw to destroy it. That wouldn't be a tactical strike any more, it would risk escalation to major thermonuclear war. Even such a strike would not necessarily matter much, as the German corps support groups would soon be dwarfed anyway by what other allied forces arrive to take over.

The militias and the actions of the heavy skirmishers show that the invaders never really accomplished a total occupation of the Baltics . The spectacular actions of the raiders signalled to the Russian public that the conflict isn't under control of the Russian high command at all, and reinforcements from the Southern Military district necessarily get diverted to combat the raiders together with Russian Air Force's ground attack assets.
The German brigades can progressively switch all their manoeuvre elements to the heavy skirmishing role as more and more allied conventional brigades arrive to take over the more traditional non-skirmishing tasks.
 
There's no need to extend heavy skirmishing beyond the Baltic and Polish allies' territories, as the objective is to expel the invaders. The brigades would occasionally go a few kilometres past those territories, but their support groups would stay within, limiting the incursions into actual Russian territory to 40 km save for Fernspäher and the (quickly waning) Raider activities that constitute no gain of ground at all.

Finally, the German heavy skirmisher and raider units as well as the exhausted Fernspäher can be recalled and recover in theatre reserve as the area becomes so flooded with allied brigades that very different and rather brute force-ish operational art with emphasis on superior firepower including air support takes over till the expulsion of almost all invaders. The German brigades' support groups would switch to support allied ground combat units of less well-funded NATO/EU armies. Finally, there's a cease-fire that NATO can live with (Baltics 90+% liberated, including the Eastern borders). The occupied Kaliningrad Oblast gets traded back in exchange for still-occupied Iceland and Svalbard as by political decision.

 
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2021/08/21

A high end conventional land warfare doctrine (II)

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To recollect, part I divided the theatre of land warfare into four successive areas:
  1. "rear" (blue) areas (say, Western Poland)
  2. militia-monitored areas with more or less harassment of invaders (say, Northeastern/Eastern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
  3. "red" areas with Fernspäher surveillance at least at points of interest
  4. "red" areas with only satellite surveillance
Now it's about time to present the role for the heavier forces.
 
The "rear" areas would see supplies being moved by civilian logistics contractors with civilian vehicles. Civilian police would police the roads to manage refugee streams and try to keep the military traffic flowing. Rail bridges are certainly useless, and road bridges might be busted and replaced by pontoon bridging. Those pontoon bridges would have prioritization of traffic according to the needs of the war effort and would be defended by classic air defences and anti-ballistic missile point defences.

The militia-observed areas would be the terrain for mechanised brigade combat as NATO usually envisages it, but with an important distinction: Mechanised manoeuvre elements of about company size might operate both within and beyond the effective radius of the brigade support umbrella. 
The company-sized mechanised manoeuvre elements outside (too far forward of) the brigade support umbrella would be called "heavy skirmishers" and have a very much changed (skirmishing) mindset and repertoire. They would focus on the line of sight fight and act more as encircling, harassing, delaying and armoured recce force; Americans and military historians might term them "light cavalry". Their historical precedents do indeed reach back almost 2,000 years to Romano-Parthian wars, when light Parthian horse-archers caused great trouble to the by comparison sluggish Romans. The firefights of such heavy skirmishers would preferably hit non-combat troops hard, and the contacts with combat troops would be short but fierce in the best of NATO's ambushing delaying action tactic tradition.

These heavy skirmishers would turn opposing forces' battalion battlegroups and larger formations into constricted moving pockets. They're shaping the battlefield BEFORE our forces would be committed into decisive action in brigade(s) vs. brigade clashes. The intent is to disadvantage the invading opposing force to the point that its defeat in an eventual clash (preferably our pincer attack) with our formations of equal level is ensured before it happens. 

You're mistaken if this sounds defensive to you. The zone in which heavy skirmishers operate could be pushed forward, the heavy skirmisher forces would engulf then "defending" hostile brigades (or battlegroups) and turn them into (moving) pockets. This is possible becuase of an assumption that there's no defended front-line due to a low forces to area ratio.
The brigade-level support groups and their support umbrella could be pushed forward likewise. Opposing forces subjected to this treatment risk destruction if they advance too far or persist for too long, and their superiors would be tempted to order their withdrawal. 
At this point the land campaign could resemble the early 18th century manoeuvre of professional European armies which attempted to outmanoeuvre each other and capture ground (even fortresses) without decisive battle. You always need to still be capable of succeeding in pitched battle, and never fully trust the compelling effect of manoeuvre, of course.
 
You need much depth for such a doctrine, and "must-defend" locations within this depth (say, Warsaw) need to have rather stiff local defences to make this doctrine politically feasible.

The heavy skirmishers and some even farther forward operating raiders (previously described as armoured recce-ish) would also affect the air war. Helicopter forward operating bases and even air force airbases would not be safe from them, and the organic high effective ceiling air defence of the raider companies (or rather their support group) would endanger opposing airpower in areas it would otherwise deem safe (such as close to its airbases, or within their own area air defence range). 
 
The raiders would be a diversion and raiding/sabotaging, rarely ambushing force. Historical precedents include the Long Range Desert Group. It would use 14.5 mm B-32 bullet-proofed 6x6 motor vehicles with non-conspicuous tire profiles. The French wheeled AFV concepts come the closest to what I envisage. The main gun on most vehicles should be somewhat air target-capable, ranging from 40 mm CT up to 76 mm with 30+ rpm. The latter would render a dedicated self-propelled howitzer at raider company level unnecessary, as it could double as indirect fires weapon (it would rather lack multispectral smoke munitions, though). The raider platoons need some dismount strength to inspect bridges, clear buildings and so on, and these dismounts should be able to dismount quickly and get back into the vehicles quickly as well. Dismounting the AFV gunners or commanders does not suffice.

Finally, the support umbrella radius particularly of the brigade needs to be pointed out as an important input variable: These support umbrellas provide the light and heavy skirmishers with support (including artillery fires), and to a small degree also the Fernspäher and raiders (quasi-ballistic PGM range ~ 500 km). The ratio of forces to theatre of war area and the effective radius of the support umbrella (it would be about 40...80 km regardless of whether we use brigades or divisions) leads to my preference for brigades over divisions. We (NATO, EU) wouldn't have enough divisional-level umbrellas in the war zone in the first 14 days of a surprising war, but we could have enough equally-large brigade-level umbrellas in place.

The mobility and endurance of the vehicles used in the heavy skirmisher units as well as corps command's opinion on how much they'd need to move around would define the maximum reach of the heavy skirmishing forward of the brigade support groups and their supply drop-off points. The depth might be disappointing with today's AFVs. We might have 30...40 km ordinary under-umbrella manoeuvring plus maybe only 20...60 km of additional heavy skirmishing depth while rather 100...200 km of the latter would be desirable for full effect. Tanks with more compact main weapon munitions* and much more fuel for greater de facto endurance (enough for four days) would be preferable. An alternative is to use multicopter drones for resupply (120...150 kg payload), which would be another support umbrella capability. Their mission radius would likely be limited to dozens of km, so they wouldn't extend the skirmishing depth very much. This also shows why the heavy skirmishers need much anti-drone day & night ability even without autonomous killer drones coming into play; it could be essential for the encirclement effect.

 
related:
 

 
 
 

/2020/04/military-theory-of-skirmishing_18.html 


 
*: I don't think going for 130 mm tank guns is a good idea. It's single-mindedly focused on APFSDS power. The aforementioned versatile 76 mm quick fire option would suffice for most purposes, and could be complemented by rocket launch tubes compatible with both HVM (a CKEM-like 130 mm APFSDS substitute) and powerful blast rockets (not FAE/thermobaric, for these would cover the minimum range of the HVM for AT purposes and FAE/thermobaric is unsuitable for this). 75 mm was understood to be the smallest highly effective HE calibre in WW2, and today's HE shells and fuzes are better. This is not just about hardware; it's about one's idea about what tanks are meant for.
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2021/08/15

Fall of Kabul imminent

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Now with the Fall of Kabul imminent I'd like to explain it so far as I can (and there's always a chance that I'm wrong). I can simply quote a comment I wrote here a month ago to answer a question:

"The Taleban collapsed in 2001 not because of bombs but because of a cascade of desertions, local groups changing sides. The expectation was that at the very least the foreigners would take over the cities and the ring road like the Soviets did.
This is very likely what's happening now. The previously West-supported central government (basically the non-Pashtu factions) is likely collapsing without giving much of a fight because local allegiances switch again. Their troops were motivated by the foreign money, not by patriotism, faith or ideology.

This local allegiance thing is the whole reason for all that[junior officer]-level diplomacy that was done for decades with the elders of villages and such. The foreigners were trying to have such local factions on their side, and this effort has ended with obvious consequences.

Those few anti-Taleban forces that won't collapse (basically some narco warlord armies) will probably withdraw to some defensible section (IIRC they held a Northeastern valley by 2001) or to neighbouring countries other than Pakistan.

The mobile Taleban troops are very, very few compared to the astonishingly large population, but the very much armed population doesn't fight for its freedom from pseudo-theocrats, so they will lose it."

Was it wrong to withdraw? No. It's not our job to fight and pay for their freedom. The Taleban number about 0.1% of the Afghan population. It was easy-peazy to fight them off, if only the Afghans had attempted to. The Afghan society is dysfunctional and unable to maintain freedom, thus it's not going to live in freedom. (And "freedom" is really a loaded and perspective-dependent word anyway.)

You care about people being oppressed? Fine, tell me how many hours of the year you are exasperated about the hellhole dictatorship otherwise known as Eritrea!

 

The West sent troops into Afghanistan because there were some Pashtu-nationalist/pseudo-theocrats in power who maintained hospitality for a guy (died a decade ago) who paid and motivated some dudes (mostly Saudis) to kill Americans.

By all historical normal standards nothing more than a punitive expedition was inevitable. Toppling the Pashtu-nationalist/pseudo-theocrat regime was still within the range of normal. Establishing a government that was more friendly before leaving was also within the range of normalcy in the post-colonialism era. 

Staying there and declaring that nothing but the total elimination of the former hospitality-granters would suffice was deranged.

To keep doing it for two decades was total batshit crazy.

And now remember; elimination of the Taleban was impossible all along because they also existed in Pakistan, and Pakistan wasn't even put under serious pressure, ever. How could it be? It's de facto allied with the PRC (a UNSC veto power) and a nuclear-armed power itself.

 

So the sane thing would have been to leave Afghanistan by summer 2002 at the latest, and leaving the defence of the government to the warlord militias (which were worth a lot more than this 20-years-Western-trained Western-subsidised piece of shit racket known as Afghan National Army).

Now there's at least hope that Afghanistan will find peace after four decades of civil wars, albeit under the rules of Pashto tribal customs. So let's welcome the rapid fall of Kabul. The longer it takes to fall, the more the people of Kabul will suffer.


related (I consistently opposed the Afghanistan occupation bullshit):

/2008/10/times-online-british-envoy-says-mission.html

/2009/02/afghanistan-nightmare-scenario-nonsense.html

/2009/11/extremist-warfare.html

/2010/07/withdrawal-deadlines-it-depends-on.html

/2011/05/comment.html

/2013/11/extremist-rebels.html

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/08/14

A high end conventional land warfare doctrine (I)

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I wrote before about the support group fractal, and I did so before writing this post because it provides an important quantitative foundation for this new series (evident in part II).

 

About 13 years ago I was thinking about how to replace the functions of the defended front-line that we saw during the world wars and the Korean War. I wrote about this issue here a couple times as well (see at bottom).

My first attempt to replace the front-line with a different concept replaced the front-line with a narrow (few dozen km) skirmishing corridor. This corridor would consist of few layers of areas assigned to individual platoons for surveillance and harassment (skirmishing). The stiff trench frontline of 1914/1915 had been replaced by an elastic defence by 1918 already, and this elastic defence that permitted an enemy advance by a few kilometres until the push reached a main line of (then stiff) resistance was already official German defence by the 1920's. I basically gave up on the stiff backbone, mechanised formations would instead manoeuvre against penetrations of the narrow skirmishing corridor. It's basically today's state of the doctrine in NATO plus this stability-giving narrow skirmishing corridor in the front. The all-mechanised forces seem too inefficient, too fragile, too quickly exhausted and too unreliable to me when they're not enjoying the functions of a front-line at all. It's like fencing without protection and parrying.

Infiltration and exfiltration through this narrow corridor were supposed to be observed, reported, costly and slowed-down by caution. The troops that would form this (movable) skirmishing corridor would be motorised infantry platoons, and these platoons ended up being conceptually so similar to the German-Austrian Jagdkommando/Jagdkampf concept that it seemed utterly non-original to me even though I had a different operational level* concept in mind. I called these "light skirmishers" and moved on to think about how skirmishing could be done with mechanised forces. I wrote about that here as well even before 2010, but more about that later.

My "light skirmisher" concept has long since been fused with the alternative non-nuclear, non-mechanised defence doctrines developed during the 1970's and early 1980's by Spanocchi, Simpkin and others. This means it's no more meant to be a narrow corridor manned by professional troops, but a few hundreds of kilometres wide skirmishing corridor manned by reservists. Again, they didn't seem all that original, but my intent was still a different one.

Imagine a militia in a country that's actually thinking of defending itself on its own soil, not just of defending its alliance away from home soil. Think Poland, Baltics, Romania (not so much Finland, its geography is too special). This militia would consist of territorially-specialised battalions of varying sizes (depending much on how many volunteers can be found in the region). The battalion would have little combat support, but a large quantity of light skirmisher platoons with a high degree of autonomy including quality long-range radios (beyond-the-horizon HF and satellite). This militia would serve as point security and river line surveillance forces until they become stay-behind forces that were bypassed by superior opposing forces. 

These stay-behind militia forces would not fight combat troops much, but they would harass support troops, raid forward bases (supply dumps, forward helicopter bases and so on), HQs, demolish bridges and so on. They might cause some direct damage and create a substantial diversion effect, but most of all they would maintain surveillance of the area and report changes to corps HQ. The last point alone would already shape the battlefield extremely in favour of the militia's side, as the invader would be at a grave disadvantage on the invaded soil.

A similar effect could be had with long range scouts / LRRP / Fernspäher beyond the friendly territory or in very low population density areas and in forward areas where they militia fails to maintain satisfactory surveillance. The surveillance of less stressful locations can even be used in a rotation so the Fernspäher specialists (NOT gold-plated special forces-ish B.S.**) aren't in the most stressful locations for weeks.

So this is the first basic way to divide the theatre of land warfare:

  1. "rear" areas (say, Western Poland)
  2. indigenous militia-monitored areas with more or less harassment of invaders (say, Northeastern/Eastern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
    • militia acting as security&surveillance forces
    • militia acting as guerilla&surveillance forces when bypassed by OPFOR
  3. "red" areas with Fernspäher surveillance at least at points of interest
  4. "red" areas with only satellite surveillance

Part II will cover the manoeuvre, heavy skirmishing and raiding forces and how the support groups particularly at brigade and corps level influence geographic deployment.


related:

/2009/09/square-trick.html

/2011/10/functions-in-military-theory-front.html

/2014/05/blog-defence-and-freedom-theses.html


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*:  For the purpose of this blog post think "thinking at the corps level".

**: No adventure vacation bullshit like helicopters, kayaks or parachuting. Movement by rather civilian-looking 4x4 vehicle to within few km of the objective, hiding the car, nighttime movement to establish observation and hiding posts, surveillance for days, then everything backwards. Most movement in car would be done together with a relatively combat-worthy armoured recce-ish unit that's infiltrating or exfiltrating itself. The surveillance teams would peel off from an infiltrating armoured recce convoy, later join an exfiltrating one. These surveillance teams would be active duty troops, but not special forces.

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2021/08/07

Link dump August 2021

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My estimate stands at 5...20% dangerous idiots, and this includes more than just psychopaths/sociopaths. There are also narcissists, plain stupid people who don't know about their condition, fearful pussies/hateful people and people who have a totally broken bullshit detector or never had one. 
Societies need to keep dangerous idiots away from extraordinary power. Let them vote, but don't vote for them!
 
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Yeah, right, that's EXACTLY what we needed. More stupid people
 
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This makes sense for the export market the way the Gripen made/makes sense, but I suspect that a lack of tail radar and DIRCM will limit its effectiveness greatly compared to Su-57. It's unlikely to match the older F-35 in versatility (no ground attack IIR visible, likely much smaller internal weapons capacity, likely much less investment in development). It might also turn out to be an unmanned wingman drone for Su-57s in Russian service.

Export markets could include CIS countries, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and the smaller Persian Gulf kleptocracies.

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It's not worthy of a separate blog post, but I'd like to point out that the Würzburg knife attack incident was a bit strange. I failed at my quest to find a list of names of people who faced the attacker instead of running, but I found photos and videos. Those photos and videos appear to be sexist, for every single person who faced the "knife"-armed attacker seemed to be superficially identifiable as a man. I read of women running to businesses for safety, and of men arming themselves with everyday items, keeping the (apparently crazy, not religious) attacker in check till the police arrived. The police shot once at his leg. (They did not shoot 17 rounds centre mass - and guess what? Shooting the leg once did work just fine! There's no death penalty in Germany, so killing cannot be the objective or considered appropriate if it's avoidable without further harm to others. Dead people are furthermore poor for interrogations.) I haven't found anything about who shot, but count me sexist-biased for thinking it was a man, too.

The ancient and possibly hard-wired predispositions and behaviour patterns may be a lot more relevant (and at times useful) than the talk about genders of the past 10+ years made believe.

And to the anon reader who keeps insisting that we're all mentally too soft for true soldiering nowadays: This should kick off a re-evaluation.

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source.wustl.edu/2021/07/microbially-produced-fibers-stronger-than-steel-tougher-than-kevlar/

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army.mil/article/248545

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defensenews.com/land/2021/01/15/us-army-taps-industry-for-autonomous-drones-to-resupply-troops/

military.com/daily-news/2021/03/15/autonomous-drones-proved-themselves-army-ammo-resupply-tests-now-xviii-airborne-wants.html

 I think they missed the right weight class. Payload should be enough for casualty evacuation (if not moving mountain infantry from ridge line to ridge line at 2,000+ m altitude).

compare /2017/09/combat-resupply.html

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That's even worse, for this way there'd be little hope of return to less idiot-rich times.

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boingboing.net/2021/07/06/ten-years-ago-the-onion-predicted-wests-irish-goodbye-from-afghanistan.html

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openaccess.wgtn.ac.nz/articles/chapter/The_mechanisms_of_cult_production/12971675

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https://mysite.science.uottawa.ca/rsmith43/Zombies.pdf

So this is clarified, then. You see zombies, u kill 'em.

The true zombies (also these) are very different and do very real damage, of course.

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[German] vice.com/de/article/4avx83/agentur-fazze-youtuber-lugen-uber-impfung-sputnik-v

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[German] twitter.com/useronline1/status/1414207597608116224

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[German] t-online.de/nachrichten/id_90430104/die-skandale-von-armin-laschet-das-ende-des-teflon-kandidaten.html

Kurz gesagt; die etablierten Medien haben ihn lange davor geschützt, dass mehr CDU-Wähler merken, wie katastrophal er ist. Sie sind aber vor kurzem noch lebhaft auf den Zug der völlig offensichtlichen Springer-Schmierenkampagne gegen Baerbock aufgesprungen.

[German] t-online.de/nachrichten/deutschland/bundestagswahl/id_90576062/die-gruenen-saar-landesverband-bleibt-von-bundestagswahl-ausgeschlossen.html

Unterdessen offenbahren die Grünen sich mal wieder als undemokratische weil sexistisch-diskriminierende Partei. Artikel 21 Grundgesetz verlangt von Parteien, dass sie innerlich demokratisch sind. CDU, CSU, SPD und FDP sind das auch nur teilweise (Abnickvereine, bei denen z.B. die Führungsebene beschließt, wer Spitzenkandidat wird), aber sie sind nicht so plump-blöd-offensichtlich undemokratisch wie die Grünen.

Von den Interna der Linken habe ich keine Ahnung. Die Rechtsradikalen sind immer noch keine wirklich funktionierende Partei, da kann man mit einer Beurteilung wohl nochmal fünf Jahre warten.

Nebenbei, ich hoffe auf eine Ampelkoalition (nicht weil ich die Wirtschaftslobbyistenpartei oder die Verräterpartei oder die andere Verräterpartei mögen würde, sondern weil unbedingt der schwarze Totalstopp-Bremsklotz weg muss). https://www.wahlrecht.de/umfragen/


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/07/31

Indirect command by ambition areas

.This blog post describes a radically different command technique from the perspective of the subordinate commander.

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Think of a jigsaw puzzle's backside.

Now mentally interpose this jigsaw pattern* onto a map of a country. That could be South Korea, Poland, Lithuania, or Romania, for example. Every single such tile of this now divided map is a couple kilometres wide and a couple kilometres high.

You're a commanding officer of an army unit or formation** in the area. Corps command issues you a super-simple set of orders: A list of six-digit codes. Each six digit code describes an area (four digits) and a level of ambition (two digits). Your computer or a member of your staff translates this onto your map and for the first time you see your area of responsibility.

You can see by the colouring (and two-digit codes) on your map that in the East you're supposed to delay strong opposing forces and hunt for weak opposing forces (counter-reconnaissance), in the West near a military engineering bridge you are supposed to decisively engage opposing forces and in the North where a motorway stretches from East to West you're supposed to report combat troops, but destroy the 'soft' support troops of opposing forces.
Your staff also learned about what other formations and independent units received orders for these tiles, and they're usually the same level of ambition for similar level (size) organisations. Another formation has an overlapping area of responsibility; most of it is to the South, but they share the responsibility to decisively engage in the West of your area of responsibility.
 
Your staff arranges a quick communication between you and the other formation's commander and you agree that in the case of a major westward incursion through your area of responsibility you'd decisively engage together, with your formation continuing its delaying action till the other formation attacks the attackers' flank or back, and then your formation commences a counterattack with less than 15 minutes lag.

There are no phase lines, no simplistic one-dimensional neighbouring unit relationships, no geographic objectives to reach. You need to decide on your priorities within the framework of the simple ambition mission by corps command. More importantly, you have the freedom and autonomy to act, and to act timely.

Corps command updates your area of responsibility and the ambition levels, and this is how it orchestrates dispersed forces in area and time.

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

 P.S.: The Kriegsmarine's naval map was conceptually similar. A submarine would be sent to a large square for patrol, and when shadowing a target convoy by radio it would use the code for a higher resolution (smaller) square to report its location.

The transition from one state to another would be a great challenge for the described command technique. Many different ways how to do this are imaginable, but I didn't write about even only a few options. The reason is that experimentation would have to evaluate different transition techniques, and possibly invent all-new ones. There might also be different transition techniques for hasty and deliberate transitions.

*: or a similar pattern that's more adapted to the terrain than mere hexagonal or chessboard

**: Company, Battalion, brigade, division - it doesn't matter now. 

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2021/07/24

The battlegroup gun

This blog post will argue for a multi-purpose, relatively short-ranged "battlegroup gun".

Army artillery was historically divided into siege artillery, fortress artillery, field (battle) artillery and regimental (infantry) guns.

The distinction between field artillery (later divisional artillery) and regimental or infantry guns (later battalion mortars) was driven by a need for long-range main effort artillery that dominates the battlefield on behalf of the army (or Napoleonic-era corps, later division) commander and some artillery that supports an infantry regiment (later battalion) on behalf of the the regimental (later battalion) commander.

The latter was required to be more mobile (lightweight) to keep up with an infantry advance and being too short-ranged for a higher level main effort weapon was an advantage rather than disadvantage.

I wrote a lot about this before, but decided to revisit the topic:

/2015/12/battalion-battlegroup-organic-indirect.html

/2011/10/history-of-infantry-gun-in-us-and.html

The German army neglects the battalion indirect fire support. We have very few 120 mm mortars in active use. 155 mm howitzers (also not exactly many) cannot cover all indirect fires needs, though. They would often be 15+ km away, and radio communication may be unreliable over such distances. Their 155 mm shell is fine for long ranges, but rather inefficient for fragmentation effect since the removal of cluster munitions from the arsenal. The original reasoning for the 150...155 mm calibre was to penetrate field fortification overhead covers, and post-WW2 it was a quite efficient calibre for bomblet cargo shells. Nowadays its only really relevant lethal munition is the high explosive shell, which covers a rather small area with effective fragmentation effect relative to its weight. 155 mm is also rather inefficient for illumination munitions, and those are regaining importance since infrared illumination shells can nowadays assist the troops' night vision goggles in overcast and new moon nights. (IR-Illum may be unnecessary due to an alternative, though.)

Another advantage of an organic fire support is the shorter time of flight. Arms manufacturers can create nice presentations claiming that their gold-plated 155 mm round can provide fire support to dispersed troops in a 80+ km radius, but those rounds might be in flight for well over a minute while organic howitzers might deliver effect with cheap rounds with about 10 seconds time of flight and their dispersion would be so small that guidance would be superfluous.

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Now let's think about the land face of war: I suppose we could think of a corps area as a very shallow fish pond. The corps HQ may draw neat brigade icons on the map, but the fish tank would actually have much smaller fish than that; battalion battlegroups*, likely further divided into often independently manoeuvring company-sized battlegroups. Some fish would rest, a few would move, and sometimes there's a flurry of activity and suddenly all of them move for a short time and shoot for an even shorter time.

There would be no "front line". The corps commander would be well-advised to rather give frames to the manoeuvre forces; a line which opposing forces shall not pass and a line which friendly forces shall not pass without explicit (per-)mission by him. Orders might also be focused on points; reach this point by a certain time. (I'll lay out another command technique approach in a later blog post.) The manoeuvre forces would have arrangements for cooperation and if needed hierarchical decision-making (between commanders of formations or units of the same level), but most decisions would be made by leaders on the spot. 

There's something remarkable about mobile warfare, and such land warfare would be a mix of hiding/resting an rapid movements/clashes. You don't really need great firepower ranges when you're highly mobile. There's no advantage to having your artillery far from your spearhead if this doesn't add to security - and it would not with a mobile battlegroup. Instead, the artillery might be tasked to help secure the less line-of-sight combat-capable elements of the battlegroup (munition vehicles, fuel vehicles, bridgelayers, electronic warfare vehicles, air defence vehicles and so on). Additionally, you could simply move some 10 km towards some bridge or helicopter forward operating base if you wish to shell it and are 10 km too far away for it.

The one reason to give a battlegroup long-ranged (~40 km) artillery could be to enable a massing of fires from multiple battlegroups in one fires mission on one target. This could make sense, but I suppose it's needlessly troublesome. This burdens the mobile battlegroups with the munitions required to support other battlegroups and the battlegroup artillery piece becomes a much bigger and thirstier (likely tracked) vehicle. The fires would be tell-tale signs giving away the bivouac site or forcing the battlegroup to keep its own artillery outside of its bivouac (and thus less secure).

I suppose the superior approach is to divide the brigade into up to four battalion battlegroups and one support group. The support group would provide centralised services and an umbrella of support (electronic warfare, area air defence, long-range artillery fires). This allows for the desirable massed fires out to 40 km, or with exotic munitions out to 80 km from the brigade supply group. 

Meanwhile, the battalion battlegroups could mirror this with their own split; multiple company battlegroups and one battalion support group which would include much less ambitious support (bandaging, two days worth of supplies carried, short range air defences, <20 km range artillery fires).

A use of the 105 mm calibre allows for artillery fires from wheeled vehicles**, which are well-suited for rapid movements with little fuel consumption, little fatigue and few maintenance needs.

/2014/01/truck-mounted-artillery.html

(105 mm howitzer high explosive shells typically weigh 15 ...17 kg, 155 mm HE shells typically 42...44 kg. The difference in area covered with fragments is not nearly this great because fragments of a given useful size lose velocity rapidly. The greater quantity of fragments of a 155 mm HE shell can keep a good area density of fragments farther out, but it cannot magically sustain the energy of the identical fragments and their initial velocity is similar. Alternatively, it could go with fewer bigger fragments. The optimum design usually depends on what effect on impact is required. NATO prefers the 155 mm calibre mostly for more efficient use of personnel (a 155 mm gun requires about as much personnel as a 105 mm gun) and greater range. 150...155 m calibres were subjectively preferred over 105 mm during both world wars, but tables telling how many shells are needed for a given purpose (suppression or destruction) treat both calibres as substitutes and tend to show that you need less shell mass with 105 mm shells to do the job. Both 105 mm and 155 mm use the same one fuse per shell, and fuses add a substantial cost to the shell and explosive filler.)

The 105 mm calibre could effectively provide support with high explosive, multispectral smoke, (near-)infrared illumination and even a special fin-stabilized (slip ring***) mortar bomb for extremely close high angle fire missions (down to 400 m as 120 mm mortars can do, this requires 80° maximum elevation). They might also deliver precision guided munitions occasionally, particularly fin-stabilized ones with slip ring.

A 105 mm gun could even be used to launch guided subcalibre (such as naval 76 mm HE) projectiles at much higher velocities than the full calibre muzzle velocities, which in combination with 80° maximum elevation would offer an effective heavy anti air gun capability. This might be useful to destroy (or deter) at the very least flying observation drones without expending missiles that cost 1+ M € apiece on them.

Another option would be to use a 320° training ability of the turret (assuming a dead angle for low elevation shots caused by a hardened cab; so 360° training, but 40° not usable for lower register shots) for some auxiliary anti-armoured vehicles capability. Suddenly appearing armoured recce vehicles, IFVs and from some angles even MBTs could be defeated with tandem shaped charge (fin stabilized) rounds in fixed combustible shell cartridges.

This mirrors the multi-purpose potential of brigade-level artillery, especially the MRLs just as the battalion battlegroup-level support group mirrors the brigade-level support group.

- - - - -

The objective that drove my reasoning might be obvious to the reader by now; the battlegroups should be as compact and agile and least be burdened with tasks as possible. They should thus be limited to line-of-sight combat troops and some essential support for the same, not with any further support tasks. We should leave as much of the fuel and munition carrying and consumption to the brigade support group.

The conventional answer would be to use 120 mm mortars, and I suppose that the much greater versatility of 105 mm SPGs with turret is obvious as an overwhelming advantage. Additionally the spin-stabilized 105 mm shell is just as deadly as a 120 mm mortar bomb, but has much less dispersion. Very flat shots out to maybe 2 km distance could normally be considered to have more dispersion in range than mortar shots, but electronic fusing based on counting the revolutions (the spin length being known, as it's defined by the barrel rifling) enables accurate fusing at a set distance. Very flat 105 mm shots would furthermore be much harder to detect for counter-mortar/counter-artillery radars than the always high angle mortar shots.****

So to summarize; I'm in favour of an army indirect fires triad:

  • battalion-level 105 mm turret SPG (multi-purpose) under battalion BG CO command and only in emergencies supporting other BGs
  • brigade-level 155 mm SPG (main effort firepower, low priority on multi-purpose) under brigade CO command and supporting beyond the brigade
  • brigade-level variable calibre MRL (multi-purpose) under brigade CO command, but also some external fire missions (mostly area air defence)

That being said, the German army (Heer) doesn't pursue such an approach. Its MRL force is diminished, having a marginal quantity of munitions (PGMs) in storage only. Its mortar force is close to non-existence. Our brigades lack organic 155 mm SPG fire support. This may be considered acceptable as long as there's divisional 155 mm SPG pool that could be parcelled out, but we have too little of that as well. As of Spring 2021 we had a total of four artillery battalions (155 mm SPG and 227 mm MRL) for a total of eight brigades (counting the German-French brigade as well). That's three arty Bn for seven German-only brigades. It appears it's more important (to the bureaucracy and politicians) to have almost 11% of our military personnel in the medical branch. That doesn't sound inflated at all, right?

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.: In the end, a mere look at the organisation and quantity of indirect fire support in the army suffices to declare our army leadership catastrophically inept, if not suspicious of being compromised by the FSB. This problem dates back for many years (1) (2). 

Disclosure: I have a weak spot for solutions that are modest, if not austere. This may have influenced my reasoning.

*: Up to 1,000 troops and 100 motor vehicles, led by a major or lieutenant colonel.

**: I would rather prefer 8x8 offroad logistical trucks as basis than smaller vehicles, as this minimizes the convoy size and quantity of needed drivers. /2014/08/the-dragoon-problem-lingers-on.html

***: Avoiding that the munition gets much of a spin from the barrel rifling, as much spin  renders fin-stabilization impossible. Fin stabilization allows 80° maximum elevation for indirect fires and it allows for much simpler 2D course corrections.  

****:  Counter-mortar/counter-artillery radars typically scan the horizon to detect shells, rockets or mortar bombs as soon as possible, during their ascent. Hills, woodland and buildings can create a dead angle in which these radar beams would not detect the ammunitions in flight. Mortar bombs with their apparently very reflective metal fins furthermore create a stronger echo than howitzer shells.

 

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2021/07/17

The support group fractal (II)

 

There's an obvious downside to what I wrote in part one: The tethering of the manoeuvre units to the support group by a tether length defined by the support umbrella radius. This part will deal with multiple ways and reasons that mitigate this downside.

 

The geographic location of the support group is one mitigating factor; it's of course not stacked on one point, and a brigade support group would not be crowded into a 1x1 km field, either.

One way of mitigating the tether length issue is to split the support group or parts of it into two leapfrogging fractions. The supported area would then be 8-shaped.

Another one is to give the support group itself an onion-like layered shape, with some support assets farther out. The outer layer could consist of support assets with some degree of self-defence capability or greatest stealth, but in practice it would likely consist of those that attract fires; artillery and radio frequency emitters (radars, jammers). All of these need to shoot and scoot / emit and scoot, at least until opposing forces ability to pinpoint them have been degraded much. The outer layer would have quite some outer radius itself, which adds to the tether length.

Another option is to actually parcel out some of the support assets to the manoeuvre elements after all. This may actually be unavoidable if radio comms cannot be maintained with adequate reliability and bandwidth over long-enough distances for support from afar. To be competent at operating with support assets parcelled out traditionally is not admitting conceptual defeat; it's having a plan B in case plan A doesn't work, and this is a top necessity for military plans anyway. We haven't had a high end conventional land war in 75 years, so almost all novelties since then are more of less untested and might disappoint or even be outright unworkable.


The later parts will be titled differently, but I will lay out higher order effects of the fractal on the general concept for high end peer land warfare.

 
Next blog post: The battlegroup gun (related topic) and on August 7th there'll be another related blog post, deep outside the box military theory (command technique). The two blog posts 14th and 21st August will lay out a 'vision' about land warfare of the future (but before all-robot armies).
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