2022/04/02

An army corps for Germany - revised

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I wrote about my opinion regarding an army (Heer) reform in Germany leading to a single army corps both in 2010 and 2015.

The Russian land forces have proven to be underwhelming and appear to not have any hidden aces in the sleeve, especially no publicly unknown countermeasures for tank defence. Their tanks' survivability did not improve in more than 30 years. The Russian army will likely not become much better during the 2020's, considering the economic hardships of Russia in the years ahead. The Russian army in its current state would be hard-pressed to defeat a small fraction of European NATO.
 
 
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I'm thinking now of a vastly less ambitious doctrine, and thus vastly less sophisticated and less expensive land forces.

My proposal is now to employ the militia concept and use it as a gateway for recruits (militia training equalling basic training for the whole military). The militia would not be part of the army corps, though. The overall militia strength could grow to a little more than 100,000 by the end of the decade and its training courses would be run by government-owned non-profit companies offering non-government union wages to suitably qualified trainers (former NCOs / former SaZ 8).

Army corps table of organisation:
  • HQ company (yes, just a company)
  • 2 Panzerbrigade (tank brigade; rapid mounted combat counterattack formations, would be most of the time held in reserve during a war)
  • 4 Leichte Brigade ("light brigade")
  • 1 J√§gerregiment 
  • 1 Lehrbrigade
  • 1 support brigade 

About the Leichte Brigade; this is a scaled-down ambition force. Multiple infantry battalions, one wheeled 155 mm SPG battalion, one tank battalion for infantry support with 2nd rate tanks (Leo2A5 without hard kill APS).
The Leichte Brigade would seek to fight in a not very mobile manner, trying to establish a sensor superiority with 20 km deep target detection & classification. It would seek to become oppressive with responsive and accurate indirect fires, and its infantry would seek to win the close fight where standoff sensors cannot detect opposing forces. Take this video as an inspiration.
 
 
Its tanks would play a minor role with occasional direct fire support and they would be able to ambush hostile tanks with delaying action tactics, thus deterring rapid mechanised attacks (which could overburden the indirect fire support). The brigade would need to be able to fight with much dispersion. It would be a defence-only force until the tanks arrive, and then become limited offence-capable with the tanks.
It would receive the icon of an infantry brigade in NATO HQs, but I don't want to call it like that because it' really a tried of sensors + artillery + infantry (with tanks being support to the infantry mostly).
The Leichte Brigade is back on the table in my opinion because the Ukraine War showed that Russian tanks are indeed much more vulnerable to infantry anti-tank hardware than is state of the art. A single Leichte Brigade would have massacred the equivalent of four Russian brigades Northwest of Kyiv due to its artillery strength.

A Panzerbrigade is a high effort formation with high hardware and training costs. Relatively few are needed. Two would have sufficed in the Ukraine war so far, particularly for a counterattack ("Schlagen aus der Nachhand") between Mykolaiv and Cherson. Such a formation is extremely budget-heavy when done right, so we should not afford more than necessary. They would be kept in reserve much of the time because of their unique and rather specialised counterattack capability. They would not be as good for controlling or defending terrain as a Leichte Brigade.
 
The Lehrbrigade would be  a very unstable experimental formation testing new concepts in two-year cycles. They might even get leased equipment for two years and would be responsible for demanding troop testing of equipment (not testing new night vision goggles, but a new AFV generation, for example), tactics and organisations[edited in later because I forgot this]. Its personnel strength could fluctuate from 1,500 to 3,000 and its basing should make varied terrains accessible for training and exercises in a sensible radius.

The Jägerregiment is what would be a ranger regiment abroad. One battalion using Wiesels (since we already have them), the other one being totally light infantry with soft vehicles only. This is mostly a competence centre for light infantry and for providing VDV/Spetznaz-simulating adversaries in exercises. These battalions might temporarily be attached to a Leichte Brigade in particularly infantry-demanding terrain.

The expectations for air defence are much-reduced considering the unexpected ineffectiveness of the Russian tactical air force. Still, it makes sense to procure about the same mix; RCWS with an eye on the drone threat, some air defence suitable against munitions and MALE drones (relatively cheap missiles) and a high end area air defence probably along the lines of CAMM and IRIS-T SLM (NOT its radar), as SAMP/T has grown old by now and likely has a much lesser seeker performance. I would not rely on AMRAAM-ER or ESSM Blk 2 any more after the experience of the U.S. almost completing a transition of Fascism. The U.S. could turn into a threat within the 2020's and is thus no more an acceptable supplier for air defences, combat aircraft, AEW or anti-ship strike munitions in my opinion.
 
I do now rate the survivability of helicopters higher than before - against the Russians only. Helicopters are worthless targets against a state of the art opponent, but against Russians they could be used in rear area purposes; mostly MEDEVAC and liaison flights.



S O
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28 comments:

  1. "My proposal is now to employ the militia concept and use it as a gateway for recruits (militia training equalling basic training for the whole military). The militia would not be part of the army corps, though."

    That would get my vote. You kill a few birds with one stone.

    "The Leichte Brigade would seek to fight in a not very mobile manner"

    1 Leichte Brigade + 1 Panzerbrigade would resemble a German Panzerdivision of 1943, the infantry brigade as anvil (its tank bat. = Panzerjägerabt./Stug Abt.) , the heavy component as hammer. Wether you have 1:1 or 1:2 between Panzer- and Infantriebrigades is a matter of taste IMHO.

    Two "Lehrbrigades" with different schwerpunkt would be my approach too.

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    1. The WW2 analogy is rather that the Leichte Brigade would do a WW2 Infantry Division's job with a different approach, and the Panzerbrigade would do a Panzerdivision's job.

      One experimental formation is plenty for an army of the German army's size. We can experiment a lot with it if we really give it a new TO&E and experiments in a two-year cycle instead of becoming lazy. "Lehr-" may actually be a bit misleading, as I really think of a blank slate test bed with two-year cycles.

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    2. "The WW2 analogy is rather that the Leichte Brigade would do a WW2 Infantry Division's job with a different approach, and the Panzerbrigade would do a Panzerdivision's job."

      Here I disagree. The Leichte Brigade is as mobile as the Gummipanzergrenadiere of a Panzerdivision. And a Panzerbrigade lacks the infantry of a WW2 division...

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    3. The analogy is in the purpose ("job"), not in the TO&E.

      The Panzerbrigade would be specialised (and accordingly sophisticated) for rapid, piercing counterattacks.
      The Leichte Brigade would establish a kind of front line with a radar low speed modus operandi on the battlefield.

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  2. "One experimental formation is plenty for an army of the German army's size."

    Yes an no. If the focus of the various units is quite different two units for experimentaion may be good, better than more Streikräftebasis or similar "solutions". A "Lehrunit" can be converted into a regular unit without any problem.

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  3. Hello,
    What about Armoured cavalry, EW, ISTAR, C2/CIS, Artillery and Engineers in your Army Corps?

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    1. Something like armoured cav is among the things I gave up on. It's unnecessarily demanding.

      EW - I like passive RD sensing including triangulation and mapping of comm links to establish relationships between emitters. I'm not so positive that jamming is of much use, except against proximity fusing. It's great when it works as advertised, but I have suspicions that it rarely would do so. Emitting while stationary is also risky, and emitting while on the move adds other issues. So I suppose we can cut many expenses in active EW.

      ISTAR - sensor backbone of the Leichte Brigaden. Mast-mounted GMTI+ gimballed sensors for surveillance, infrasound and gimballed sensors + IFF on vehicles for accurate aerial threat detection, gimballed sensors in tethered drones on the move, flying drones with laser comm and different sensor packages depending on type. The flying drones would most of the time circle over 'friendly' ground. I still want to learn how the Ukrainians keep their drones from being shot down much more.
      Overall, GMTI would spot movement or wide angle view of gimballed sensors would spot muzzle flashes. Then zoom in, determine location, possibly call 155 mm HE on it. Moving targets unsuitable for 155 mm HE would be engaged with missiles/drones.
      Panzerbrigaden would use their data or go into close fight mostly. You cannot make a rapid counterattack if you wait for sensor data all the time. Eyes in the sky may support a push, or not.

      HQ design would follow the subsidiarity principle. The corps would give very few orders. Neighbouring formations would agree on frequencies, borders and such on their own.
      Communications and navigation would need to be functional without satellites. It's 100% requirement to be able to do the job without or with only truly minimal RF comm. I bet on light signals here, including airborne repeaters.

      Artillery - 155 mm L/52 on 8x8 or 10x10 with autoloader.

      Engineers - Pontoon bridging over Oder and Vistula is important, and a joint effort of Brits, French and Germans (who all have fine tech for this). The currently available engineer tech seems approx. OK to me if in good technical shape, though more pontoon bridging might help a lot.

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    2. I read in the Ukrainian IT army, the volunteer organization supporting Ukrainian cyberwarfare. It's claimed that they have found ways to use cyberwarfare to interfere with Russian air defence and communication. Security might be sloppy on the Russian side and it's not the first time hacking is claimed to have intereferred with air defence, Israel did that as well against Russian systems in Syria..

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    3. > I still want to learn how the Ukrainians keep their drones from being shot down much more.
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      Possible answer

      Ukrainians have aviation and Bayraktar combat drones in limited amount. More or less, the "success" story of Bayraktar in Ukrainian service is thanks to NATO (US/UK?) SIGINT/AWACS who feed information to Ukrainians in real time.

      Ukrainians only use their aviation and combat drone assets only when and where NATO tells them that there are no active/emitting Russian air defense systems.

      Since most of Russian air defense systems are mobile, they apparently run out of fuel and stop emitting, which is when NATO intel tells Ukrainians in which sector to fly in with drones and start to work.

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    4. I spotted a typo. I meant to write
      "EW - I like passive RF sensing"

      Delete
  4. "A single Leichte Brigade would have massacred the equivalent of four Russian brigades Northwest of Kyiv due to its artillery strength."

    Seriously ?! ?

    As if Russian brigades had no counter-artillery capabilities whatsoever. Truth is, you would loose the artillery duell and your infantry bataillons would be slaughtered by the russian artillery and tanks. And forget about what you have seen in the ukraine. There are specific reasons why this happened the way it is now, especially because the russian were unable to organise the logistical demands of their own artillery because of an combination of missing / insufficient infrastructure, ukrainian light infantry behind their lines (of cause you want this too with your militia), absolutly superior numbers on the side of the ukraine (150.000 russians vs 600.000 ukrainians!) and the weather conditions (rasputiza), very low combat moral and extreme demotivation and widespread insubordination etc etc. A fight against german brigades would be a different thing. And if there is one main lesson from the ukraine war it is this: NEVER underestimate an enemy. Never.

    It is also quite a mistake to think that the next Russian war will be exactly as it is now in Ukraine. For example, both sides (Ukrainians and Russians) have recently been using drones with laser markers to mark targets for their artillery with lasers. Given the appropriate artillery ammunition, your light brigade would perish on that alone.

    But that doesn't mean that the light brigade as presented here is useless. I am only concerned with the necessary number of large combat units and the necessary proportion of artillery. The ukrainians have an 4 : 1 advantage against the russians. So that would mean if everything is equal is in the ukraine that 4 of your light brigades stand against 1 russian brigade, not the other way. You can't smash 4 Russian mechanized brigades with 1 light brigade, that's completely dubious and absurd to say something like that. In the ukraine the numbers are completly opposite.

    But to contribute something constructive: instead of a battalion of older type main battle tanks, one could think of another battalion with artillery that is explicitly equipped and intended to give direct fire support in the LOS area, and at the same time can also have an NLOS effect in steep fire. Thus the brigade would have significantly more artillery in relation with its 2 artillery battalions. That would do a lot better than a main battle tank battalion with outdated types.

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    1. That would mean 8 artillery bataillons in the 4 brigades instead of 4 artillery bataillons.

      1 Bataillon with AGM on a HX3 Truck (NLOS)(including 1 uav company)

      1 Bataillon with AGM on a Boxer = RCH 155 (LOS and NLOS)(inkluding 1 uav company)

      4 Infantry Bataillons (each including 1 uav company)

      1 support Bataillon

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    2. No.
      The NATO strategy is counterconcentration. The Russians needed a while to amass 300,000 troops - they would face 500,000 NATO troops when they're that slow.

      The German army's most valuable contribution would and should not be quantity. It should be
      (1) ability to rush to effectively aid an attacked Eastern frontier ally within few days.
      (2) ability to afford fully equipped and trained Blitzkrieg-style tank brigades for rapid mounted combat counterattacks (the British and French are distracted by nukes, navies and expeditionary nonsense)

      #1 would be very well-served with the Leichte Brigaden, for as I wrote they'd be meant to be capable of defence even before the MBT Bn arrives.

      #2 is what the two Panzerbrigaden would be for


      Besides, you ignored how I emphasised that the Leichte Brigaden would be meant to seize sensor superiority. This includes being able to mess with counter-arty targeting. Simple return fire would be neutralised by shoot & scoot.

      52 cal delivers ERFB-BB to 40 km and VLAP to 54 km. Even a few shells would have messed with that traffic jam, and a few thousand shells would have turned enough of it into an inferno to neutralise four brigades.

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    3. "It is also quite a mistake to think that the next Russian war will be exactly as it is now in Ukraine. For example, both sides (Ukrainians and Russians) have recently been using drones with laser markers to mark targets for their artillery with lasers."

      In 2014 the Russiand were able to surprise the Ukrainians with brutal artillery strikes, in 2022 they are not longer able to reproduce this. Why? Could it be that the Ukrainians learnt?

      "Given the appropriate artillery ammunition, your light brigade would perish on that alone."

      What is the substantial difference between a light brigade and a Panzerbrigade caught in heavy well directed artillery fire? The light brigade has as many long range artillery pieces as a Panzerbrigade.

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    4. S.O.

      "(1) ability to rush to effectively aid an attacked Eastern frontier ally within few days."

      With that taks in mind a second artillery bataillon would be much better than an tank bataillon. RCH on an GTK Boxer plattform can deploy much faster and better on its own wheels to the east than any MBT bataillon. So this argument speaks exactly for my position here.

      "return fire would be neutralised by shoot & scoot."

      Shoot and soot will be insufficient. The main problem here are uavs with laser markers. So you need an strong anti-uav component. The russians will also learn from the ukrainians in this context as it is the case at the moment.

      "Even a few shells would have messed with that traffic jam, and a few thousand shells would have turned enough of it into an inferno to neutralise four brigades."

      The jam was mainly logistic troops and also not the äquivalent of 4 combat brigades but of cause you are right, that long range artillery would have destroyed tremendous amounts of enemy vehicles and troops here. And again this speaks for my 2 artillery bataillons proposal, as 2 such bataillons would have destroyed the jam much faster and much more effective.

      I like your light brigade concept, but the tank bataillon is imo wrong for this kind of brigade and two artillery bataillons would be much better.

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    5. 40 km of road with one 155 mm HE every 50 m should be enough to wreck tires, perforate fuel tanks, start fires.

      That's a mere 800 rounds of HE: A busy day's work for 2-4 155 mm SPGs. That's less than a battery, nobody needs multiple battalions for this. Being in range is enough.
      Even at 10 m spacing that's still no 2 battalions (~36 tubes) job.


      The tank battalion is useful AT reinforcement and in many situations quasi necessary for offensive action. But it would be a low budget tank battalion, limited in repertoire and thus in peacetime training.

      Finally, the crew of a SPG is tiny. An artillery battalion could have a wildly varying quantity of tubes. It makes more sense to increase the quantity of tubes than to stand up another formation. Infantry battalions are limited by span of command to 3...5 manoeuvre companies. Artillery would have no such span of command issue, the SPGs would be dispersed as small units, not as units (company/battery).

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  5. S.O.

    Your corps lacks support troops and especially logistical troops, sustainment, replenishment etc. 1 support brigade and the organic assets of your brigades are insufficient here.

    Also i wonder: a corps normaly has 2 - 3 divisons today and usually 3 brigades per division at least. With the corps troops it comes to at least 10 - 12 brigade äquivalents. That is much bigger than the "corps" you are propsing here.

    2 Tank Brigades, 4 Infantry Brigades and 1 support Brigade are not an corps. They could not fulfill the role of an corps in warfare.

    Or are your brigades much stronger than the usual brigades used now?

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    1. 2x3=4+2

      area air defence = air force
      hospitals = civilian
      artillery = organic to brigades
      ESM = organic to brigades
      corps-level MI = B.S.
      rotary aviation = B.S.
      big corps HQ = B.S.
      being defender = log vehicles need no escorts

      Such a corps needs about 1,000 heavy lorry drivers and would maintain two logistical hubs (leapfrogging if necessary). Exogenous transport capacity would fill the active corps logistics hub, so corps and brigade vehicles would only need to move the supplies by about 100...150 km, which with a crew of two and load handling systems allows for several tours per day per vehicle (for the corps logistical vehicles at least).

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    2. 2x3 = 4+2 ≠ 10-12

      "Exogenous transport capacity would fill the active corps logistics hub, so corps and brigade vehicles would only need to move the supplies by about 100...150 km"

      Would you be so kind to explain what you mean with exogenous transport ? Do you mean civilian capacities here ?

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    3. Civilian, army, whatever. Not subordinated to corps command.

      I believe all Western armed forces would rely on much civilian transportation, but the civilian drivers could not be conscripted (and their vehicles commandeered) within a few days and the vehicles would not be suitable for use close to the battlefield. Thus a semi-stationary logistics hub where army and civilian log vehicles drop supplies and logistics vehicles somewhere under (indirect) command of the corps commander would pick the supplies up.

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  6. A general note on the increase in defence spending, I think it's justified. China started the hostilities against Ukraine during the Olympic games by launching a series of cyberattacks against Ukrainian infrastructure. Ukraine is not just facing Russia, but also China, which currently buys up much of the Russian economy and is, because of the precedent, more likely to play an active role in a future European conflict. This alliance with Russia also helps China to keep India at least neutral. India is a longtime ally of Russia.

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    1. And how would more military spending on our part make the world better at least for us?

      The rail link between PRC and Europe is weak. Increased military spending in Europe would no matter against the PLAN.

      You need to make the case that allocating more resources to the military provides a net advantage in order to justify it. Simply being scared of some foreign power or disliking its action is insufficient.

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    2. The current rail link is weak. China is in the best position to quickly change that.
      The problem I see is an expression of willingness to get involved in a European war, which you thought unlikely for China.
      It's of course also possible that the circumstances play into the hand of the US that wants this Western unity for its own goals. Truth is the first casualty in war.

      I'm not sure the current European investments are as solely defense focussed as you'd like, it might mean an ability for limited incursions into Russia. The investments seem at least to be designed to deter the next Russian invasion against EU or NATO members. If you take military PPP factors into account, Russian investments into its armed forces were substantial, but mismanaged. So there's room for improvement in Russian performance and they shouldn't be solely judged by how badly they currently fare. Sweden and Finland discussing NATO membership is a sign, that these countries do think Russia capable of and willing to commit future assaults.

      Weak logistic links matter for large forces. Capability seems to follow a Pareto-function. China could send a small elite force that is sufficiently supplied thru the existing link and have an outsized effect.
      The current buy-in of Chinese investors in the Russian economy can mean that next time Russia invades a neighbour, it's with equipment jointly developed with China, at least in electronics. If Russian and Chinese systems merge more, Chinese forces could in parts use Russian systems for resupply, lessening the strain on the rail link if operating in Europe.

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  7. "If Russian and Chinese systems merge more, Chinese forces could in parts use Russian systems for resupply, lessening the strain on the rail link if operating in Europe."

    The bottleneck are trucks and infantry to protect supply routes. Either China provides infantry, then the rail bottleneck matters, or they provide elite forces (whatever that is) and run into the same issue as the Russians.
    BTW: Could it be that Chinese systems have the same flaws as Russians?

    You can't have it both ways.

    "If you take military PPP factors into account, Russian investments into its armed forces were substantial, but mismanaged."

    Yes, and even with PPP Europeans spend more with less GDP. What is your point? Russia is an economic medium power at best. You can't change this.

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  8. What is your opinion about the medium range anti air defence?
    Necessity or not?
    What about stratified air defence?

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    1. I have no idea what you mean by "stratified".

      https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2018/05/summary-modern-air-defences-for-europe.html

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  9. If this is a guide to making all the mistakes the Russians made, then yes, you hit the nail on the head - no operational-level command and control, piecemeal numbers of small battle groups, over-reliance on small numbers of elite troops to overcome large numbers, lack of ISTAR assets, lack of logistics support and enablers, expecting old tanks to win the war by blitzkrieging the enemy... Good list. Well done.

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    1. Not sure what you are commenting on, for it doesn't seem to be about the blog text.

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