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Thinking about the Infantry Attack

SeanNewman

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Thucydides,

What you have stated is correct and has been identified by those responsible for the small arms replacement program.

Due to the way the M203 loads its ammunition, only shorter low velocity rounds can be used for the most part.  Replacements are being considered with a side-load capability that allow for longer rounds, which opens up the range and types of ammo that can be fired.

As with all procurement projects, do not expect a replacement tomorrow.
 

GnyHwy

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Things have been quiet on this site and it's been awhile since I have posted so, I'll stir the pot a bit.

I think we all agree it's best to have everything.  The M203 or XM-25 for short range. Roger out.  Which brings us to the next range band, greater than 400m.  What weapons can do it? MGs yes, 60mm yes, CASW/AGL yes.

Next criteria in my mind would be time from target identification to effects on targets.  MG is fast but target maybe in defilade.  60mm is slow but can hit a defilade target maybe, depending on wind.  The CASW/AGL yes to speed and yes defilade.

To revert back and respond to an older comment.

The CASW is intended to be able to deliver high angle fire, much like a mortar.  For low-angle shots, similar to those used by a machine gun, of course the max ord is going to be low; however, the CASW is what I am talking about.
.

High angle is defined as greater than 800mils or 45 degrees.  Once you get above that your range decreases anyway.  The CASW/AGL would not be fired above 800mils as it would lose accuracy to wind much the same as the 60mm and even more so because of the weight of the projectile.  The CASW/AGL would be fired below 800mils which might seem like high angle but is not and the time of flight would be considerably less.

As well, the CASW/AGL has timed ammunition for firing at low angles and hitting those hard to reach places that no other weapon can reach with speed and accuracy.

I would not suggest the CASW/AGL being considered a dismount weapon. I would leave it on the cars and have it be fired direct or like old 50 cal semi-indirect drills.  There are AGLs, in particular the MK47 and XM 308 that will calculate the ballistic data for semi-indirect. 
 

Colin Parkinson

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If I recall the first thing the Taliban did when they assaulted one of the US FOB's was to take out the mortars and prevent their crews from returning fire. It didn't help the US that the pits were exposed to the hilltops. Seems the Taliban have a appreciation for the effect of opposing mortar fire. As an ex-gunner  I am still baffled as to why the 81mm went to the artillery, I can understand assets like 120mm and up, but 81's and 60's clearly need to be organic to be effective.
 

daftandbarmy

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Colin P said:
If I recall the first thing the Taliban did when they assaulted one of the US FOB's was to take out the mortars and prevent their crews from returning fire. It didn't help the US that the pits were exposed to the hilltops. Seems the Taliban have a appreciation for the effect of opposing mortar fire. As an ex-gunner  I am still baffled as to why the 81mm went to the artillery, I can understand assets like 120mm and up, but 81's and 60's clearly need to be organic to be effective.

How dare you talk like someone who knows what's required at 'the front'? I suggest that you vague up those suggestions and make reference to at least two corporate initiatives designed to waste millions of dollars on things that have nothing to do with increasing the effectiveness of the combat arms in battle  ;D
 

Colin Parkinson

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I intend to present myself as a consultant with "Many years of experience with indirect weapon systems" and I also have nifty powerpoints to ensure no one knows what the hell I am talking about. Rest assured that hiring me will remove the need to make a informed decision for at least 2 years.  :nod:
 

Trooper Hale

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I just watched "Transformers" and they shot the baddies with 40mm Sabot rounds. Perhaps our Army's should invest in them? A sabot round kicking along at 76mp/s is pretty tops in my mind. Someone ought to buy some.
Back to the seriousness though.
 
J

jhk87

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I would also like to stir the pot a bit.

The real question here is not weapons systems per se but how they are allocated and used.

The original post noted that section-level, and implied hat even pl-level leadership is beomcing confined to being a mere node for a larger attack ordered by an OC cmding a coy. This, to some extent, is true. The so-called RMA has allowed for an increasing level in comms systems that allow a commander at a higher level to "grip" the battle more effectively.

The problem here is that even the fastest communications technology can replace lateral co-ordination by two section commanders, facilitated by the pl commander providing assets when needed (ex/ 1 section secures fold to protect 2 section's flank in operation vs MG posn. Pl comd orders wpns det to use 60 mm to isolate 2 sect's target and is there to reinforce 2 sect w/ 3 sect if necc.)

At this point, it doesn't really matter so much if you have a 51mm, 60mm or CASW. What matters is the freedom of action afforded the pl cmdr.

But can you blame the OC? What else does he have to do? The assets that should be consuming his time - co-ordinating low-level eng (ie, pioneer) support an bn-level AA/indirect capabilities to work within his plan is now out the window, as the 81mm and pioneers are gone; attached arty and eng assets are now routed through bde, out of the OC's immediate CoC. So he now has to work very tightly with the platoons to make the plan work.

New weapons systems really ought to empower the Coy-level to provide support to platoons, which would probably result in a lessening of micromanagement - there would be no time for it. I would propose that the CASWs be concentrated at the coy, or perhaps even bn level, to give extra support to the main effort when needed and allow the OC and CO to do their original intended jobs, much like how the HMG was concentrated as a support arm in the First World War.

And, yes, I'll say it. Let's get the pioneers back.
 

daftandbarmy

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jhk87 said:
I would also like to stir the pot a bit.

The real question here is not weapons systems per se but how they are allocated and used.

The original post noted that section-level, and implied hat even pl-level leadership is beomcing confined to being a mere node for a larger attack ordered by an OC cmding a coy. This, to some extent, is true. The so-called RMA has allowed for an increasing level in comms systems that allow a commander at a higher level to "grip" the battle more effectively.

The problem here is that even the fastest communications technology can replace lateral co-ordination by two section commanders, facilitated by the pl commander providing assets when needed (ex/ 1 section secures fold to protect 2 section's flank in operation vs MG posn. Pl comd orders wpns det to use 60 mm to isolate 2 sect's target and is there to reinforce 2 sect w/ 3 sect if necc.)

At this point, it doesn't really matter so much if you have a 51mm, 60mm or CASW. What matters is the freedom of action afforded the pl cmdr.

But can you blame the OC? What else does he have to do? The assets that should be consuming his time - co-ordinating low-level eng (ie, pioneer) support an bn-level AA/indirect capabilities to work within his plan is now out the window, as the 81mm and pioneers are gone; attached arty and eng assets are now routed through bde, out of the OC's immediate CoC. So he now has to work very tightly with the platoons to make the plan work.

New weapons systems really ought to empower the Coy-level to provide support to platoons, which would probably result in a lessening of micromanagement - there would be no time for it. I would propose that the CASWs be concentrated at the coy, or perhaps even bn level, to give extra support to the main effort when needed and allow the OC and CO to do their original intended jobs, much like how the HMG was concentrated as a support arm in the First World War.

And, yes, I'll say it. Let's get the pioneers back.

The 'revolution' shouldn't about some new fangled toy giving senior commanders the ability to micromanage each section commander. The revolution has to be about 'giving the power to the people' and investing in the things - technology, training etc - that will help platoon and section commanders have instant access to the same information and fire sp assets that Generals control right now.

This means training our soldiers to think like Generals... or rather, think like the better Generals ;D It also means training senior officers to do what they need to do to allow enourmous assets and levels of responsibility (and trust) to be delegated as far forward in the battle as possible without flinching back into micro-control mode. THAT is frequently the hardest part of the transformation to manage... unfortunately.

The Germans didn't beat France and Poland in a matter of weeks in 1939-40 because they had the best weapons. They beat them because they had the best delegative doctrine (mission type orders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission-type_tactics )  backed up by the communications that allowed a platoon commander to call in a squardon of Stukas at a moment's notice if required.

I wonder how far, if at all, we've progressed from that time and place? There's alot of lip service given to 'mission command' but few have the guts to fully follow it.
 
J

jhk87

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daftandbarmy said:
The 'revolution' shouldn't about some new fangled toy giving senior commanders the ability to micromanage each section commander. The revolution has to be about 'giving the power to the people' and investing in the things - technology, training etc - that will help platoon and section commanders have instant access to the same information and fire sp assets that Generals control right now.

This means training our soldiers to think like Generals... or rather, think like the better Generals ;D It also means training senior officers to do what they need to do to allow enourmous assets and levels of responsibility (and trust) to be delegated as far forward in the battle as possible without flinching back into micro-control mode. THAT is frequently the hardest part of the transformation to manage... unfortunately.

The Germans didn't beat France and Poland in a matter of weeks in 1939-40 because they had the best weapons. They beat them because they had the best delegative doctrine (mission type orders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission-type_tactics )  backed up by the communications that allowed a platoon commander to call in a squardon of Stukas at a moment's notice if required.

I wonder how far, if at all, we've progressed from that time and place? There's alot of lip service given to 'mission command' but few have the guts to fully follow it.

Be careful about using German tactics throughout history as a justification for mission orders. The German use of mission-type orders in the spring offensives of 1918 was a disaster  - although they made significant tactical and perhaps operational inroads, they took tremendous losses to virtually no strategic effect. Their gains could simply not be consolidated and the huge loss of aggressive troops laid the foundation for the Allied offensives which rolled them over later in the year.

If one takes a look at the Canadian offensives of 1918, you can see a dispersion and concentration of firepower: LMGs were pushed down whereas HMGs (Vickers) were pushed up, with the idea of having a strong reserve of fire that battalions, brigades and divisions could use to reinforce success.

Obviously, mission-type orders are the way to go, but this has to be connected with lateral and vertical communication in order to ensure adequate support and the provision of the main effort. The much-vaunted blitzkreig through France in 1940 would not have been possible if higher formations did not have access to significant firepower and shock resources (armoured formations) to reinforce success and support the main effort. This combination of concentration and trust in lower commanders allowed for junior leaders to create openings and higher authority to exploit them. Much of the early German successes were facilitated by the extensive use of radios and co-ordination, not just initiative.


 

vonGarvin

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jhk87 said:
Be careful about using German tactics throughout history as a justification for mission orders. The German use of mission-type orders in the spring offensives of 1918 was a disaster  - although they made significant tactical and perhaps operational inroads, they took tremendous losses to virtually no strategic effect. Their gains could simply not be consolidated and the huge loss of aggressive troops laid the foundation for the Allied offensives which rolled them over later in the year.
That the "MICHAEL" offensive failed strategically lay not so much because of their mission-type orders, but rather the German inability to sustain their gains, due to years of blockade, amongst other things.  It was too little, too late.

I would offer that the argument is that there were significant tactical gains, where before they were stymied, much as we were, with some notable exceptions, of course.
 
J

jhk87

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Technoviking said:
That the "MICHAEL" offensive failed strategically lay not so much because of their mission-type orders, but rather the German inability to sustain their gains, due to years of blockade, amongst other things.  It was too little, too late.

I would offer that the argument is that there were significant tactical gains, where before they were stymied, much as we were, with some notable exceptions, of course.

Michael was the first of a series of offensives. The gains were just tactical, that's the point - there was no means of communicating or reinforcing their gains with fire and reserves and they incurred huge losses. They would have incurred similarly huge losses in 1914, 1915 or 1916, and while the blockade was a factor, the fact of the matter is that they ended up with a bunch of strung-out positions with no support. What won the war was good tactical knowledge at all levels combined with some really solid set-piece battles, good staff work, and probably, superior generalship.
 

Kirkhill

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jhk87 said:
Michael was the first of a series of offensives. The gains were just tactical, that's the point - there was no means of communicating or reinforcing their gains with fire and reserves and they incurred huge losses. They would have incurred similarly huge losses in 1914, 1915 or 1916, and while the blockade was a factor, the fact of the matter is that they ended up with a bunch of strung-out positions with no support. What won the war was good tactical knowledge at all levels combined with some really solid set-piece battles, good staff work, and probably, superior generalship.

So your argument seems to be that Michael was Cambrai in reverse - that tactical innovations could get you the first five miles as a cohesive force but after that there was a lack of means of communication (both in the common sense and in the sense) to maintain cohesion AND a rapid pace.

Now there are few physical limits on pace - but can the organism think fast enough to keep up with the action?  Can it think well enough to exploit the advantages the field offers as it offers them?

I can see hard charging section commanders recreating another very common feature of WW1 battles - the salient, of which the most notorious was the Ypres salient.  Hyper-extended forces, surrounded on three sides, consuming enormous resources to hold them in place.
 
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jhk87

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I think the thing to keep in mind here is that we should be wary of easily packaged solutions along a very consistent doctrine. "Mission command" is a good concept, but often by the time it gets translate into a series of manuals, it is held as a very high ideal. Mission type orders should be one aspect of a developed system whereby leaders who trust each other can pursue their part of the pie and use higher assets when they are necessary/advantageous.
 

daftandbarmy

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jhk87 said:
I think the thing to keep in mind here is that we should be wary of easily packaged solutions along a very consistent doctrine. "Mission command" is a good concept, but often by the time it gets translate into a series of manuals, it is held as a very high ideal. Mission type orders should be one aspect of a developed system whereby leaders who trust each other can pursue their part of the pie and use higher assets when they are necessary/advantageous.

E.g.,

"Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results."

George S. Patton
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_s_patton.html
 
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jhk87

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Exactly.

My own disclaimer. The Infantry Section and Platton in Battle, B-GL-309-003/FT-001 is remarkably well-written. Perhaps it is more of a cultural difference - a commander who isn't bust co-ordinating soem other asset will invariably get his fingers into the Pl's attack.
 

Michael OLeary

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jhk87 said:
I think the thing to keep in mind here is that we should be wary of easily packaged solutions along a very consistent doctrine. "Mission command" is a good concept, but often by the time it gets translate into a series of manuals, it is held as a very high ideal.

jhk87 said:
The Infantry Section and Platoon in Battle, B-GL-309-003/FT-001 is remarkably well-written.

You may be contradicting yourself.

What edition of Section and Platoon in Battle are you using?
 

a_majoor

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The role of communications cannot be underestimated. The Germans had effective tactical communications in WWI (using runners, flares and other means during Operation Michael), but once they moved into operational and strategic communications, they were as SOL as anyone else.

The offensive floundered due to the inability of the High Command to understand the changing nature of the battle, causing the Germans to continue to attack strongly defended positions instead of funneling the troops into areas where the Allies were retreating. While they may not have been able to achieve their objectives even if they had been able to shift troops correctly, they probably would have had more success and upset or even delayed the projected Allied offensives in 1918.

I wonder if we are not facing a similar situation today, given the importance of political intervention and the speed at which images and media reports can be spread by the legacy media and the blogosphere. Do high level commanders have the ability to make the correct decisions with a chorus of voices shouting and distorting the picture on the ground? How about information overload as they sort through massive amunts of information and endless briefings? On again, off again ROE's, rapidly changing priorities to satisfy political imperiatives at home or appease hostile media certainly make it difficult to sustain operations. For troops closer to the ground, this could breed frustration and confusion since the overarching mission aim becomes unclear to them. The other point is the troops can also receive unfiltered material from the legacy media and blogosphere, so the messages they receive are also full of "noise".
 

TangoTwoBravo

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jhk87 said:
I think the thing to keep in mind here is that we should be wary of easily packaged solutions along a very consistent doctrine. "Mission command" is a good concept, but often by the time it gets translate into a series of manuals, it is held as a very high ideal. Mission type orders should be one aspect of a developed system whereby leaders who trust each other can pursue their part of the pie and use higher assets when they are necessary/advantageous.

Are you saying that Mission Command is over-rated or that it is not practiced?  I don't see the linkage between mission command and higher assets.

p.s. Here is a thread from two years ago that looked at German and British/Canadian tactics in WW1.  http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/70754.0.html
 
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jhk87

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Michael O'Leary said:
You may be contradicting yourself.

What edition of Section and Platoon in Battle are you using?

I am  - I began by looking through some TAMs and then referenced the PAM. My fault; will give myself 15 mins mark time. Also looked through course notes which were very big on control measures.

The offensive floundered due to the inability of the High Command to understand the changing nature of the battle, causing the Germans to continue to attack strongly defended positions instead of funneling the troops into areas where the Allies were retreating. While they may not have been able to achieve their objectives even if they had been able to shift troops correctly, they probably would have had more success and upset or even delayed the projected Allied offensives in 1918.

The German offensives began with no appreciable political or operational aim and the lack of higher co-ordination made it very difficult to really find a purpose for them. In the end, they burnt out their most aggressive troops in the matter of a couple of months.
 
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