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).


  1. You give support units a capability for direct engagement, calling it self defense. Who says that this capability won't be used for attacks? So from few in combat and many in support, you go to a design with an intermediate between combat and support that can switch on demand.

    1. Even a 155 mm SPG with tracks and turret wouldn't have more than a basic self-defence capability. The most intentional duel (line of sight) combat that might possibly reasonable is to bring it forward to bust buildings with single HE shots AFTER other troops cleared the area of AT threats. This was done with 105 mm light howitzers and 150 mm heavy infantry guns in WW2, albeit very rarely.

      So what I wrote is more an analogy to WW2 howitzers having a gunshield for rare occasions rather than about assault artillery.

      The driver is really only that some support systems attract explosive answers and thus have to disperse to protect allied units from those. Dispersed forces better be capable of self-defence at least against weak ground forces (such as a recce vehicle), as an escort is impractical and creating a safe zone for them is impractical without a front-line as well.

    2. I have a concept for a multiple purpose armament that renders some dedicated fire support unnecessary.
      It'll be featured in a context of armoured recce-ish platoons way outside of support umbrellas (mutual support with indirect fires).

  2. A fractal structure (with divisional level):

    Overall fractal: HQ / C4ISTAR / Electronic-Warfare / Reserve (all two levels down) / 2 Combat Units (one level down) / Strike / Sustain (one or two levels down)


    1 HQ Company (includes: 1 Recce-Platoon, 1 light EW-Platoon, 1 Mech-Infantry Platoon, 2 Mech-Infantry Companies (each 4 Platoons), 1 Multi-Purpose Assault-Gun Company, 1 Support Company


    1 HQ-Company, 1 Recce-Company, 1 EW-Company, 1 (Multi-Purpose) Assault-Gun-Company, 2 Mech-Infantry-Bataillons, 1 Strike-Bataillon, 1 Support-Bataillon


    1 HQ-Bataillon, 1 Recce-Bataillon, 1 EW-Bataillon, 1 Armed Scout Helicopter Unit (Bataillon size), 2 Brigades, 1 Strike-Regiment, 1 Support-Regiment


    1 Korps-HQ, 1 Armoured Recce Brigade, 1 EW-Regiment, 1 Assault-Helicopter Regiment, 2 Divisions, 1 Rocket-Artillery Regiment, 1 Support-Regiment plus additional 1 Aviation-Brigade (Helicopters and UCAS), 1 Ranger-Brigade

    So you would have the same overall structure from bataillon up to corps-level as an fractal.

    What would be your critic about this structure?

    1. It's too late at night for thinking, but the first thing that I noticed was an assault helicopter Rgt, which is IMO total waste of money. A Ranger brigade makes hardly any sense, either. I don't like divisional level's existence in Europe. Rocket arty Rgt makes little sense unless it's more about air war than Katyusha-ish. I never understood this "strike" formation talk of the British. it looked to me like smoke deployed to hide that the formation is lacking power if measured by traditional metrics.

      You'll see in later August blog posts what my concept looks like, and what's the reasoning behind it.

    2. I mean strike here not so much in the way of the british concept but as an collective term for stand-off weapons. Also the rocket arty would be explicitly more about air-war than other tasks. I know your dislike against assault helicopters, and understand the argument there (it is also more an placeholder for future ucas formations), but i do not understand your dislike against greater light infantry formations. IMO there is an demand for more light infantry than only an regiment, also the warfare in future could be more like civil war and even in a great conventional war especially in eastern europe there are wide areas in which such an light infantry formation would be necessary to say at least. But including your first critcs i overworked the structure a litte bit:


      1 HQ Company (which includes 1 Recce-Platoon, 1 Light-Electronic-Warfare-Platoon, 1 Mech-Infantry-Platoon), 2 Mech-Infantry-Companies (each 4 Platoons plus 1 Support Platoon), 1 Heavy-Company (includes 1 UL-105mm Platoon instead of 120mm mortars), 1 Support Company


      1 HQ Company (which includes 1 Recce-Platoon, 1 Light-Electronic-Warfare-Platoon, 1 Mech-Infantry-Platoon), 2 Multipurpose-Assaultgun-Companies (each 4 Platoons plus 1 Support Platoon), 1 Tankhunter-Company, 1 Support Company


      1 HQ Company, 1 Recce-Company (Technical), 1 Electronic-Warfare-Company, 1 Armoured-Recce-Company (76mm Multi-Purpose), 2 Mech-Infantry-Bataillons, 1 Multipurpose-Assaultgun-Bataillon (105mm Multipurpose), 1 Support-Bataillon


      1 Recce-Bataillon (Mixed), 1 Electronic-Warfare-Bataillon, 1 Multipurpose-Assaultgun-Bataillon (105mm Multipurpose), 2 Brigades, 1 Rocket-Artillerie-Regiment (also Air-Defence), 1 Support-Regiment


      1 Aviation-Brigade (Multipurpose), 1 Ranger-Brigade, 1 Armoured-Recce-Brigade (76mm Multi-Purpose), 1 Electronic-Warfare-Regiment, 1 UCAS-Regiment, 1 Korps-HQ, 2 Divisions, 1 Rocket-Artillery-Regiment (also Air-Defence), 1 Support-Brigade

    3. Formation sizes should make sense for employment in the field, not just for training or administrative purposes. A Ranger Rgt makes no sense because it's poor for training (the battalions would need to be spread out to routinely train with combined arms formations anyway) and it's unsuitable for combat (so much infantry without much artillery or at least a few tanks is nonsense on all terrains). A brigade is IMO a combined arms formation. Rangers may make sense up to Rgt size IMO, and only for special terrains. Woodland and urban combat need more quantity (ten thousands of troops in NE Europe, not thousands). That's for reservists infantry, not for what's usually understood to be rangers.

      So the difference between us on rangers is that I would at most keep a Ranger Rgt as a light infantry competence centre and training adversary, and expect frontier countries such as Poland or Lithuania to have enough infantry to deal with woodland and capital urban areas for three weeks (until more reinforcements than just paras arrive) on their own.

    4. >>>it's unsuitable for combat (so much infantry without much artillery or at least a few tanks is nonsense on all terrains)>>>

      That depends imo on the kind of combat. It is unsuitable for the conventional warfare in the baltics you described here, but it ist quite suitable for complete different kind of combat in other situations. Also such an ranger brigade could include specially designed support troops to make it an kind of combined armes formation, from ucas and loitering munitions to ultralight ugcvs and special pioneer formations for sabotage warfare and destruction through explosives etc

      My idea behind such an formation would be to fight in an conventional war in an most irregular way and also behind conventional enemy main formations, not so much different from your ideas about armoured cavalry and as an addition to that kind of units.

      But to have at the same time a greater unit of such infantry overall in order to be able to use them internally or in the area of ​​counter-terrorism, for border security (the origin of the word ranger itself) or against organized crime (in other countries and internally) or for training missions and corresponding foreign deployments. Such a large unit would greatly relieve other conventional large units when deployed abroad. But I know that you are already hostile to such expeditionary warfare and the deployment of the army internally perhaps even more, which is why we would of course never have a common denominator here.

    5. I cover the 'behind enemy formations' thing differently, as later posts this month will show.

      The Ranger Bde with ucas and stuff that you describe is not what people associate with rangers. "Ranger" formations are infantry formations with very little supporting heavy weapons (usually nothing more than mortars and recoilless guns) and usually with some para/heliborne/mountain/jungle qualifications.

    6. The structure you mentioned with 4 Bataillons plus 1 Support Bataillon would fit such an Ranger Brigade very well. The 4 Bataillons would be then light infantry with very little supportin heavy weapons, and because you have 4 of them you can forever place one of them in an out of area mission and then the next and then the next. Also you can strengthen local milita/reserve with such units and distribute them to train more such territorial army units in the case of an crisis than with only one regiment. And the support bataillon could also be used completly seperated from the brigade for an schwerpunkt elsewere or for strengthening other mechanised units. Or one can use the complete brigade for fighting in an city. So many possibilities, so much flexibility.

      Another idea i have since some time is to put all such light infantry / airborne units / special forces under the command of the luftwaffe instead of the heer. This would strengthen the luftwaffe overall (for example in budget questions) and it is more organic imo to put airmobile troops under direct airforce command. This would also free such units from the animosity of many high ranking army officers and give such units more freedom to develope and to act.

    7. A brigade with serious "heavy" weapons (such as howitzers or armoured vehicles for line-of-sight combat missions) would not be identified as a "Ranger" brigade. It would be called a "light", "Infantry", "Jäger", "Chasseur" or "Motorized Rifle" brigade. You're simply thinking of an infantry-centric force (which is a horrible idea for most missions because artillery kills much and infantry little).

      You better wait till 14 August when you'll see why your concept falls short. This is akin to discussing the choice of water plant, whereas on 14 August I'll begin discussing the concept for a whole lake.