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Hi TD, the flow and “size of chunks” within it is fine.
Here “a stinging report from the National Audit Office the Multi Role Brigade” I am not sure whether you have missed a preposition or a full stop; the meaning will change accordingly.
I would add two things:
– notable proponents within the British army over the period covered. How they expressed the need for a Medium Force and what was the main rationale by each
– international parallels (in organisation, missions and hence also the vehicles/ fires, which in many cases could be dealt with as a “vehicle” as well even though what they carry is the primary thing :
1. the role envisaged for Stryker BCGs
2. Russia converting to brigades from divisions and heading for a mainly wheeled force. And then back again, to heavier but almost exclusively in bde format, as the threat from the West became to be seen as primary as opposed to the ones from the South and East, as had been the case for a decade at least
3. Regional powers: I would pick Italy as they have had a systematic transformation for longer (What France’s Scorpion prgrm aims for could be a comparison, bearing in mind the considerable difference in their starting years)
Thanks ACC, great comments, noted!
Happy to do a piece based on compare and contrast with what Italians and / or French have accomplished in the same timeframe!
Best get cracking then Jed, let me email you the piece Frenchie sent me, and one or two others comments on France
“We could also argue that a medium weight capability was discarded [remove this comma>], when the Saladin and Saracen were withdrawn from service in the seventies, although the Saracen would continue in service in Hong Kong until the nineties.” – One of my bad habits that, too many commas in a single sentence.
On the subject of international parallels raised by ACC I’d say the French experience in Mali (where you were already headed with VBCI?) and the Russian switch to battalion tactical groups might be interesting areas of study for comparison
Frenchie “intervened” at lightning speed! Seems to a quality the French share, not just in tactics.
Helps the international comparisons “what has emerged over the same time frame and which differences are the most pronounced).
RE “demonstrated the effectiveness of the support system. ” and ” 5,300 by the end of February. Of those, according to the French military, 1,500 were support personnel, or 28 percent of the overall force.”
– we have a comparative metric in the US Stryker BCGs org. charts, which have been designed to be self-supplying over 30 days *once deployed*. These statistics help to avoid drawing in the wider enablers into the comparison, like Sea & Air “lift commands”.
The Italian job in interesting in the sense that their medium bdes are meant to mix with other formations, and mainly on battle fields within Europe. Hence they have the heaviest capabilities (not counting S. Africa) on wheels, e.g. the Centauro being up-gunned to 120 mm ( and believe it or not, the Russians ran trials with it installing their 125 & 140 mm tank guns – nothing reported in the public domain, of course).
Which (the above) takes us to Russian battalion tactical groups. They are (as were the divisions in the Cold War era) meant to be used in a “throw-away” manner, ie. engaging with full force over 2-3 days and then replaced by another unit. And of course these other units would come from the brigade (in question). Once several BGs concentrate for a battle, the offensive use of artillery (a Russian doctrine feature that continues from the WW2 days when whole Corps consisting solely of artillery were moved about , to the “Schwerpunkt”) comes into picture. Of which the Russian bdes contain about 3 times as much as their western equivalents
– a reason for Finnish BGs containing 12 tubes organically at that level and supported by heavier ones from the bde level (BGs whose mobility is based on band-tracked vehicles only have heavy mortars and are sitting (in their taskings) between medium and light.
As I read through (the updates; will they be in a different font?)
“has been broadened to include the medium weight capability as now defined by the Strike Brigade,”
These new brigades are to be organised as follows:
One regiment (battalion size) of Ajax in the reconnaissance role;
A second regiment of Ajax in the ’medium armour role’. This is a new concept for the British Army and sees Ajax acting as a medium-weight tank;
Two battalions of mechanised infantry;
Artillery, combat engineer, logistic and medical units.
The strike brigades’ infantry battalions will use a yet to be procured Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV), which is planned to be an existing wheeled armoured personnel carrier.
“In response to the worsening security environment in Europe and the emergence of Russia as a strategic rival, the 2015 SDSR placed two core requirements on the army: rebuilding its capability to field a full division of three brigades and to get more deployable brigades out of the forces it has. The army’s only deployable division, the 3rd Division, is being re-organised from a three-brigade formation into one of four brigades: two existing armoured infantry brigades and the two strike brigades”
which, in turn, does not mean that the experimental Strike Group would have to come out of 3rd Division (Catterick holds all the elements needed “under one roof”).
– after all, the 3rd is meant to be deployable; not experimenting with major elements of it tied up in doing so
The problem is the ARMY Procurement, they ask for one thing you do it , then it’s well how about this or that added before you know it it’s no longer the vehicle you designed in the first place which worked but a Mish mash which never quite works.
Ref the Champ , I was lucky to meet the designer of the Off Road Buggy he desgined for Special Forces. I asked him if he had come across this problem, he thought for a few seconds and said yes.
Again look at the DROPS System , now hailed as a success , but if you have seen the documentary of its development how the ARMY PROCUREMENT Department interfered demands of silly modifications, then the waste of money as a copy was attempted and failed miserably.
So let’s not go down the Jack of all trades vehicle they never worked.
So let’s work on the K.I.S.S. PRINCIPAL.
Let’s not be afraid to look back at previous designs, take the best of them no matter who desgined them if it works use it!
Last of all ( I hear a collective sigh of relief) Remember Hobart’s Funnies , I wonder how many brilliant designs have been turned down because of the look of the vehicle rather than what it it is capable of.
The opposing forces of the M4, jobs for life, credit seekers and those that just do the work. Chertsey, Fort Halstead, Vickers, Alvis not least mergers and acquisitions. 80% of the capability for 50% of the budget. Anyway the benefit of military tourism play out well in the pre-concept phase. It was a simple requirement based on airlift capability, road transport regulations and two solution were found, the money was there what possibly go wrong. Hope this is what we are doing.
FRES UV just shrunk:
but now if we tally the Ajax & derivatives and these together, the original goal of 3.000 will get hit (some day)
TD, I will do the bit on the Strike Brigades and MIV.
Some key points made by Frenchie – first that when considering the fast-moving aspect of Strike, the level of risk the Army needs to be content to accept must increase – “just enough troops, just enough force protection, just enough helicopters, just enough vehicles with just enough capabilities” – this so the force remains lean and agile. A potential issue for the Armed Forces if they worry more about bad tabloid headlines than getting the job done.
The second sharp insight is one of weight – noting that the FRES “initial 17-tons vehicle analysis was more or less coherent, but the change from a 17-tons vehicles to a 38-tons vehicles make simply impossible for an action such as Serval and limit the United Kingdom to large-scale, operations with ships or ground transport, against conventional threats.” If Strike Brigade ends up with vehicles in the 35-55t range then its as difficult to deploy and support as the Armoured Brigade using 40-70t vehicles. If the general idea is to have two very different fighting regimes (quick sharp action for Strike, hard-hitting staying power for Armoured), then the Strike Bde equipment needs to be deployable quickly in tactically viable numbers. This tends towards Strike needing lighter equipment.
On the structure of the MIV (or any other vehicle procurement) I concur wholeheartedly with Raymond Powell’s assessment. I have often noted “multi-role” tends towards the worst of all worlds, where the requirement writers seem to assume it must deliver the best of all worlds. Much better in my view to design separate optimum equipment for each required task; better still if designed with common support. Also agree that many really good ideas were embodied in previous generation kit, well worth re-using in modern designs.
So, to return to the proper purpose of the comment section here, for me the discussion really should start with what medium weight forces (including presumably FRES as it was for much of its gestation a good deal lighter than Ajax) and Strike Bdes are supposed to actually do; just what role they are meant to undertake and what effect they must deliver? After that there can be a sensible discussion over what ‘medium weight’ and Strike Bde might need to be in equipment terms. And this should include more peripheral matters such as ease of deployment (then & now) by air sea rail or road, the discrimination between Armoured and Strike forces, and so on.
Happy with proposed format and appreciate comments/submissions by others to date.
I think we need to mention the British recce philosophy – I think doctrine is too strong a word – as taught to us in the RAC during the 1980s/1990s. It was always said that the British practice was reconnaissance by stealth, in other words that we did not fight for information/intelligence as other nations did/do. The measure of success was the withdrawal of the recce screen with “guns clean”, ie not having been fired.
This clearly had considerable influence on the size and weight of CVR(T) and the armaments of Scorpion and Scimitar. The AFV438/Striker with Swingfire provided long range top cover in case of difficulty, but we did not as a rule employ mixed MBT/CVR(T) combinations as part of the reconnaissance function. Other nations – the Germans I’m sure – employ MBTs in their reconnaissance mix.
My impression is that it is very difficult for anyone, other than a member of the armed forces to have any dialog with the Army. I have almost no contact with the Navy, or RAF, to know if they handle; ‘looking outward,’ any differently.
With regard to the Army, it is my impression that they have primarily ‘contracted out’ their thinking to commercial entities. Consequently they are covered by commercial confidentiality and these entities are disinclined to enter into discussion. From the outside, the Army appears to have put its thinking into a; ‘box,’ and the lid is effectively closed.
The UK Army has contracted and I wonder if it is now the time to re-evaluate some of the doctrine.
My suggestion would be that a smaller more professional Army should embrace the ‘Golf Bag’ concept. This would entail a greater diversity of equipment and an enlightened Cadre within the Army to ensure that equipment is commensurate with the; theatre, threat, task and terrain of operations.
Soldiers would, therefore, be required to master a greater diversity of equipment and this would need to be reflected in recruitment………. with a greater emphasis on flexibility and training aptitude. Also, this training diversity might subsequently give those exiting the forces better employment opportunities and reduce the current level of ex-service; ‘attrition.’
As large production runs of equipment would be out of the question, we should concentrate on high quality; ‘off the shelf,’ solutions, whenever possible.
I am not sure that this concept would save money. What this might do is enable the first troops in theatre to be more effective.
If we have a more diverse range of AFV’s there may be more opportunity to evolve tactics and doctrine to gain the initiative.
The Oshkosh L-ATV might be a good start.
Going to do a bit of housekeeping on the comments, will be opening a new page for more general discussions, but want to keep this for just discussion on the structure/ToC and introduction
One other recommedation; start numbering the paragraphs. It’ll make editing/suggestions for changes much, much easier because someone can simply suggest that you alter a line in paragraph 12 etc and save yourself a lot of time. If you have to go back and insert a new paragraph(s) in somewhere you just number it say 12/12a/12b.
This page has all the suggestions and corrections incorporated
From this point, ONLY comments relevant to this page on this page
Have added an inline commenting system so you can add comments to specific lines and paragraphs, can you all comment as you think required
Then I am going to lock this page and move on to the next
Minor grammar point – should read “start with the reqt and work forward” – work back makes no sense as the reqt ought to be the start point, not a post-project assessment?Reference
One thing I think is pivotal in the discussion is defining what “medium weight capability” is, particularly as the term “medium weight” does vary though time. A 1930’s medium tank is a lot different to a 1940’s one, much less a 1950’s one. For example the Chieftain was originally classified as a medium tank.
Through the end of FRES (as originally stated) and up to the present day, the term “medium” has come into use where it hasn’t been before. Saracen and Saladin would have been termed light armour, if anything. My take on it is that what is now “Medium” is basically “light with survivability enhancements”, since all of what is now termed “medium” are roles that were once carried out by lights, while the light role is now undertaken by what would once have been termed soft skins.
Similarly, what were once mediums have crept up to be heavies, leaving an increased gap beneath them. A modern MBT has grown in weight to the point that the gulf to what is below them (in weight terms) means that there is a niche for a lighter tank.
Regarding the Strike Brigades, if they are really fast reactions brigades, for me it is necessary to take into account the capacity of transport by aircraft to choose the MIV, the A400M has a payload of 20 tonnes for a distance of 6,400 km and a payload of 30 tonnes for a distance of 4,500 km. Then for an intra-theater mobility, the MIVs must be air-transportable in C-130J, whose capacity is 20 tonnes. You must therefore choose a vehicle around 20 tonnes. This is my humble opinion !
“soldiering on”, perhaps?Reference
Thinking about the ‘where to start’ statement, its perhaps reasonable to point out that the genuine start point was CVR(T) replacement. It would seem that in the late 70s/early 80s the Army was satisfied it had the mix of equipment that made sense, and all it wanted was newer better versions of the existing armour. It can be argued (many have) that times moved on, and the newer weapons rendered the older equipment redundant, but as recently as December 2003 the MOD in its paper “Operation in Iraq – Lessons for the Future” stated “Smaller reconnaissance vehicles in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) fleet were highly valued; improved levels of ballistic protection fitted to these vehicles successfully reduced the risk from small arms and mines; their utility in this operation reinforced the requirement for maximum mobility, whilst maintaining stealth in order to carry out successful reconnaissance missions; increased armour protection improved the utility of this equipment in the light armour role; in the reconnaissance role these vehicles proved highly effective, with crews able to locate targets and coordinate air support to attack them; a valuable capability that underscored the philosophy of reconnaissance using stealth.” And yet within the decade their successor was chosen and it is twice the size and four times the weight and as stealthy as a Sex Pistols concert. That same report also stated “MOD has a well-established and comprehensive process for identifying and implementing the lessons from operations.”
Anyway. The point I think appropriate to this lead-in statement is that all the FFLAV to FRES work was simply aimed at CVR(T) replacement; MOD at the start of that process seemed perfectly happy with Warrior as their Medium Weight capability. Only in the latter half decade of the FRES study did the target weight of FRES shift from sub-20t to 42t and from C-130 gauge dimensions to MBT size.Reference
REF your “and move on to the next” do we find it/ navigate to it through the Home Page, through a link from an alert e-mail, or…?
Thanks all for the typo corrections and additional information, again, all incorporated
ACC, if you look at the ToC, they all link to what are blank pages.
Each time I get the content down, I will do a new blog post to alert everyone, you cal also subscribe to the comments on this page which will send you an email each time there is a new one. Will also drop a comment here as a heads up for everyone
I still think the right ‘first issue’ to address is not ‘what stuff is’ but ‘what stuff must be able to do’
There needs to be understanding of the role and (wash my mouth out) effect required from Strike Bdes that sets them apart from Armoured Bdes. Without an idea of the function, its impossible to decide whether equipment is right for the job. Many of us here have a tendency for interest in shiny new kit, but in this case I think there needs to be some more grown-up thinking about the capability as a deployable force, including along with types of armour other things like numbers required, transportability, in-theatre support, support facilities and equipment (all still deployed with the Bde), manning, training – everything CGS worries about as soon as he wakes in the morning.
A bit of an analogy to try to illustrate the effect of this sort of peripheral stuff: 1940 and the Luftwaffe were punching holes in our airfields faster than we could fill them up. The attacks needed repelling or at least obstructing to the point they couldn’t cause as much damage as planned. There were two conflicting approaches – Parks favoured an uncoordinated scramble that got our fighters in contact as quickly as possible but risked high losses as each wave was likely to be outnumbered, and Leigh-Mallory’s Big Wing which had superiority in numbers but took a long time to form up, such that the reports of the day suggested they would only be ready to engage when the Germans were well on their way home. The equipment in each case was largely the same (Spitfire and Hurricane) but the numbers involved and the speed of deployment made a huge difference to the shape of the engagement.Reference