Indirect Fires –

Rather than filling up other posts comments with discussions on artillery, loitering munitions etc can we just use this one for now?

This will be part of the ‘Future of’ series but everyone seems keen to crack on with the discussion.

So a few talking points to start the ball rolling…

  • Is 105/155 the right mix, what about a single intermediate calibre
  • Do we need traditional armoured self propelled system like AS90 anymore
  • Where do mortars fit in, is there a case, for example, for a 120mm and if so Infantry or Artillery
  • The bunfight between RA/AAC and RAF for extended range attack
  • The role of sythetic training systems
  • Counter battery fires, or more likely counter rocket and mortar fire, do we have the right equipment mix
  • Where does naval Gunfire and land attack fit into the matrix
  • Are we going precision crazy and ignoring the utility of flattening grid squares
  • How can indirect fires support a larger area of operation, is longer range or greater mobility the answer
  • How can we organise direction and management of indirect fires, is it a recce or RA task
  • What about UAV’s and CAS
  • What about the impact of greater urbanisation
  • What about rockets, is there a case for a smaller round
  • Loitering munitions, a decade too late or armed UAV replacement

In your own time…

 

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Bob
Bob
September 1, 2011 10:05 pm

There has been an effort at a self propelled 120mm before, mounted on a Warrior IIRC.

Loitering munitions, especially non recoverable ones are absurd.

If the budget had allowed the UK would have moved to 155mm only.

Watchkeeper really should have LMM- use the cash from cancelling the silly Fireshadow.

If the UK is to stick with a heavy armoured force it needs AS90 or an equivalent.

Counter-battery, UK has proven outstanding, hopefully centurion will be retained and the new counter-battery radar will be procured. The combination of sensor, defensive system and retaliatory fire proved very effective in Iraq.

Urbanisation; if we are going to care about civilians it needs precision.

paul g
September 1, 2011 10:13 pm

with a difference of 1300kgs (1317kg to be exact) is it not time to bin light gun in favour of the m777, it shares ammo with AS90 therefore easing supply lines,more choice of shells (ie excaliber) ammo orders etc.
not much bigger in size either, 3ft when in travel mode. barrels built in UK, supporting our industry blah blah!

(edited to add, bugger bob got in first about 155mm which nulls my post)

paul g
September 1, 2011 10:23 pm

ah what the hell i’ll do another, AS90 is being reduced quite dramatically. Now somewhere this week i read that chile need to upgrade their old and bold M109 SPH’s could we ride out the poltical storm (if there was one) and flog some AS90’s using the money to fund purchase of M777’s I hate to say the forbidden sentence but they are airportable, to the battlefield and around it, couple it with a decent tractor (RG35 6×6 for me, would hold all the gun crew comfortably,or something that goes under chinook) feasible?

ps my mad idea on deturreting the AS90 for a RA fire support vehicle (see cvrt 2.0 thread) came from looking at the paladin support vehicle and man you could have a serious party in there! do they really need a manned 30mm turret? nah!)

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
September 1, 2011 10:36 pm

If a loitering device is a munition, then I don’t want it back.

I think it a silly idea. Once launched you have to crash it, you can only put your eyes into the air if you have somewhere safe to ditch the munition and you can only go over the horizon if you expend two or have a relay in place.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
September 1, 2011 10:37 pm

Just remember that although M777 may be less than a ton and a half heavier than a light gun, the ammunition will weigh considerably more.

I wonder if the time has now come for rocket based artillery to take over. The launchers are much lighter than guns and can be made mobile on a relatively cheap wheeled platform and it’s a heck of a lot easier to build a guidance system for a non-rotating round that doesn’t pull several thousand G’s at launch.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
September 1, 2011 10:59 pm

A LW 155 is only 1.3t heavier than a 105.
That’s heavier than my car. Another way of putting it is that the 155mm is 70% heavier than the 105. Something like 80 shells, or quarter of an hour of rapid fire, is the difference between the two guns.

Ixion
Ixion
September 1, 2011 11:03 pm

I think I am with you on the light gun V M777.

The 105 could be replaced by 120 mm morters the vehicles / weapons rounds exist to do this in conjunction with the M777 Commonality here we come

Bob
Bob
September 1, 2011 11:06 pm

105mm gets the job done, it has also received a bunch of upgrades (and there is more that could be done) which is why it is still there, but 155mm will fire a bigger shell further. Ammunition is heavy whatever and will need to be transported by vehicle- might as well have it a bit heavier. However, lightweight 155mm is just not a priority, its not a capability gap and the performance improvement would not be mind blowing. That said, it is kind of depressing that Vickers first unveiled the Ultralight Field Howitzer (as it was known then) back in the late 1980s and the UK has never bought it. On the subject of history, the AS90 turret was derived from a Vickers design called GBT, that was itself derived from the UK work on the failed SP70 project, alongside GBT Vickers also offered a GBN which was basically the GBT 155mm for warships, obviously it never went anywhere but basically what I am saying is that in the late 1980s Vickers offered a complete family of 155mm weapons- naval, light and self-propelled.

Light gun can NOT be replaced by mortars, one of the upgrades it has had is to provide direct fire capability- you just can not do that with mortars. Mortars have their place, but replacing the light field gun is not it.

Ixion
Ixion
September 1, 2011 11:07 pm

The light gun a magnificent system. But for shorter ranges would a long barreled 120mm recoiling breach loading morter do?

Not necessarily wedded to any answer and can confess family connections to light gun on my part.

Bob
Bob
September 1, 2011 11:16 pm

IXION,

See above, can’t do direct fire, 105mm can.

Phil
September 1, 2011 11:20 pm

The term “fires” grates. It’s a horrible Americanism. Artillery does not light fires.

Now that is off my chest.

Why would you need a 120mm mortar when Light Gun is very effective? Closer in 81mm mortars are accurate and powerful.

The thing with systems like MLRS is deconfliction with airspace. And indeed a lot of other artillery systems. In a busy airspace that can be a big problem.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 1, 2011 11:29 pm

RE: Intermediate round. The Russians have (had?) 122mm howitzers and 130mm guns; would a dual purpose 120-127mm gun for both tank and artillery be possible?

Going even further, could you combine the two, the old artank concept? This article really goes too far with AAA but is interesting;
http://www.g2mil.com/artank.htm

The turret needed for full 80+ elevation, 360 degree may be too big but if the engine were forward mounted, could the gun elevate further than the usual 20 degrees if pointing forward? 45 degrees would allow maximum range at least.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 1, 2011 11:37 pm

RE: NGFS – just finished reading Future British surface fleet by DK Brown; he is dubious about the effectiveness of guns in this role and suggests add-on MBRL instead.

He does suggest the idea of a ROF 105mm tank gun for patrol craft, with its accuracy and ability to destroy a terrorist launch with one shot. Modern version with 120mm tank gun?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 1, 2011 11:46 pm

RE: bunfight – reorganise in to new role divisions? ISR/cavalry, deep strike,close combat, logistics? Joint commands?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 1, 2011 11:51 pm

HI GJ,

I’ll have to wait for tomorrow to jump into this one, but from the first glimpse through, re
“RE: Intermediate round. The Russians have (had?) 122mm howitzers and 130mm guns; would a dual purpose 120-127mm gun for both tank and artillery be possible?”
– the 122 is light enough for the SPG to be fully amphibious
– the 130 had such a long range (30km) that Americans in Vietnam had to have 155s to do counter-battery

Don’t have the answer to your question. Italians have worked on the interim caliber based on the Volcano rounds initially developed for the navy. Lately I read that army, however, wants them in 155 (I guess to be able to use cheaper, volume products when a niche one is not required to do the job).

IXION
IXION
September 1, 2011 11:54 pm

Bob Morters can do direct fire. Gun morter systens have existed with since the 60s?

Although not many have made it into service which perhaps says something…

The problem with the ARTank idea is that fire control ammo choice etc make it direct fire weapon system.

Tank and artillery sharing the same ammo would be useful but are we ready to reduce the size of our main artillery or increase the size of our tank guns? The 127 mm navel gun has been kicked arround on paper for both roles but would I suggest be a bit ‘light on shell ‘ for true heavy artillery.

Although the south african LEO system at 105mm claims its shell has as big a bang as WW2 155mm.

Not bene shot at by both for comparative testing myself though..

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 1, 2011 11:57 pm

Doesn’t the issue of the light gun’s direct-fire sight mod come down to the fact that you can only elevate the gun so far, so without direct fire you have a considerable minimum range – something that is not a problem with a mortar that can fire at much steeper angles to close the range. A characteristic of a gun, but not really an effective argument for keeping the guns.

There are also vehicle mounted breech loading 120mm mortars that can provide direct fire, and fire with suppressed barrels.

Chris.B.
September 2, 2011 1:36 am

I think I’ll echo Pete A’s call; what about some kind of light rocket system?

Something that could be driven to a firing point and literally set up in seconds, firing off a big arse barrage of light rockets.

I’m not a rocket scientist though (ba dom tish) so I’m not sure.

Aussie Johnno
Aussie Johnno
September 2, 2011 3:42 am

The ADF was based on towed M198’s and UK light 105’s but the last white paper decided to drop 105mm completely. The regular towed light 105 unit’s are moving to M777’s and the current stocks of M198 are due to be replaced by 155mm Self Propelled Guns with Pzh2000’s and K9 Thunderers being shortlisted before the Defence Materiel Organisation out here stuffed up the tender process. The Army plainly want the Pzh2000!
To meet the higher costs of all 155mm Regulars, the reserve artillery regiments have re-rolled on 81mm morters.
The thinking out here was that an 81mm morter can reach half as far as a 105mm, is much cheaper and far more mobile. To reach further, anything a 105 can hit a 155 can harder. To top things off various smart 155 rounds are becoming available (copperheads and course corrected fuzes)whereas the 105 seems doomed to remain a dumb round.
The ADF had a look at 120mm morters a couple of years ago but the extra capability didn’t justify the cost of having another calibre in service.
With cost always pressing the idea of replacing 105 with something intermedite between 105 and 155 would simply add cost.
The reserve 105 units were somewhat pissed but they were given plenty of morters and rounds to use.

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 2, 2011 7:29 am

Hi, Chris. They did develop the LIMAWS(rocket) system some years ago, essentially a 6 round MLRS pack mounted on a 6×4 Supacat. Ran out of money before they could buy it though.

Meant to support light forces, it weighed in at about 9t with rockets so could be lifted by Chinook.

Would a short range system with mini rockets be worthwhile? We have mortars or even GMG that probably fill that spot effectively already.

Rupert Fiennes
Rupert Fiennes
September 2, 2011 9:08 am

Just to add to the debate:-

– ATACMS has had it’s guidance system modified to permit vertical impact terminal mode for urban targets. Also somewhat useful for mountains, and I’m sure GMLRS will shortly have the same

– re guns vs rockets, I suspect that the latter is gaining, since it can do both the precision mode and the grid square removal job better and cheaper than tubes. That being said, it’s more expensive in logistic tonnage for a specific weight of shell, but if we are usually firing far fewer of them, this will matter less

– regarding all the requirements for NGS, I suspect the Falklands expedient of assigning a frigate to each battalion attack is sadly not practicable unless we want a lot of Glamorgan incidents. Obviously the 4.5 has other naval jobs as well, so given we need more range and don’t want to dominate the VLS loadouts, some MLRS on amphibs seems like the logical solution

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2011 9:21 am

is there still a possibility of moving heavy artillery into the TA’s, seems pretty sensible to me.

perhaps as additional squadrons to regular battalions in the same way FR is roled………..

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 9:33 am

RE “Something that could be driven to a firing point and literally set up in seconds, firing off a big arse barrage of light rockets.”

When the Sheridan had already been binned, M1 the only game in town and the US Army realised that their airportable formations would be light infantry (at a disadvantage with most opponents, that is) once they had arrived, there was a thought of combining direct and indirect fires:
– “down”gun the tank (Israeli multi-purpose rounds for 105 mm were already available, to compensate) to achieve airportable weight
– add laser-guided rockets to both sides of the turret (accuracy will compensate for big barrage)
– the latter can have the targets self-lased, but don’t need to
– with an infantry team (or a helo) doing the lasing… you have direct and indirect fire on the same platform, ready in seconds or less, never fails to keep up (but can have other parts of the formation scouting ahead, to neutralise OpFor ATGW teams in hiding)

… sadly, was never realised (the said rocket also entered mass production many many years late)

Chris.B.
September 2, 2011 9:37 am

I’m thinking with light(er) rockets, they would have to find a range home between MLRS and mortars. So basically replace the 105.

I guess it’s all relative in the end, each weapon to its own merits and all that.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 9:58 am

RE some of TD’s “teaser” points:

Is 105/155 the right mix, what about a single intermediate calibre
– agree with the scepticism expressed about “single”

Do we need traditional armoured self propelled system like AS90 anymore
– yes, but in a more balanced mix
– cross-train crews, TA included, in 105 and 155 SPG
– have a small number of both permanently attached to each MRB (see the next point about rounding off numbers to be sufficient for “effect”)

Where do mortars fit in, is there a case, for example, for a 120mm and if so Infantry or Artillery
– yes, we need to address the requirement for fire support “never to fail to keep up”
– 81 mm is organic to bn’s; 120 mm should be organic to AI bn’s (and obviously on a similar, well protected and mobile chassis as the rest of the unit)… this would be the 3rd battery of the bde, even if not within RA

The bunfight between RA/AAC and RAF for extended range attack
– I am not sure there is a bunfight between RA/AAC (sure, RAF would want to control everything that takes off from a runway)
– base-bleed and Excalibur for RA, with loitering munitions (I don’t share the enthusiasm of e.g. rusi), GMLRS – even ATACMS loaded (ie. one instead of six) to the other launcher unit on the carrier) … reach and effect is not the problem, but real-time targeting and as someone pointed out, real-time airspace picture not to do damage on the way to the target
– identifying and targeting for extended range effect should not rely solely on e.g. Watchkeeper; as we know from the Georgia conflict, the Russians easily downed 4 of similar Israeli-supplied thingies right at the start

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 10:00 am

RE “Something that could be driven to a firing point and literally set up in seconds, firing off a big arse barrage of light rockets.”

When the Sheridan had already been binned, M1 the only game in town and the US Army realised that their airportable formations would be light infantry (at a disadvantage with most opponents, that is) once they had arrived, there was a thought of combining direct and indirect fires:
– “down”gun the tank (Israeli multi-purpose rounds for 105 mm were already available) to achieve airportable weight
– add laser-guided rockets to both sides of the turret (accuracy will compensate for big barrage)
– the latter can have the targets self-lased, but don’t need to
– with an infantry team (or a helo) doing the lasing… you have direct and indirect fire on the same platform, ready in seconds or less, never fails to keep up (but can have other parts of the formation scouting ahead, to neutralise OpFor ATGW teams in hiding)

… sadly, was never realised (the said rocket also entered mass production many many years late)

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 2, 2011 11:09 am

A couple of folks question whether 120 mortars could replace the light gun.

One thing to consider is that a vehicle mounted 120mm advanced mortar requires less crew than a single light gun and, if you believe the product brochures, can provide a heavier bombardment – very important in our incredible shrinking army. And can do shoot and scoot faster than the guns.
———
I remember seeing a CGI video quite some time ago of a much more automated 155 gun, proposed for the army. With cash tight, new heavy artillery might not be a priority right now, but there is further scope to shave off some manpower without cutting into capability.

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 11:12 am

Quite a few people seem to be doing artilery at then moment.

I’m swinging towards “peacekeepers” need a smattering of light guns, stick a 105 in a FOB, and suddenly shoot and scotts are rather more dangerous for the other side.

But I’m struggling to see what an MRB would do with any artilery at all. Armour componant is looking like 20-40 MBTs and 40 Scout Tanks.
What exactly does that force need artilery for?

Artilery might be dead….

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
September 2, 2011 11:25 am

There will soon be laser seeker heads for FFAR’s (APKWS) and I wonder if such seekers could be applied to something like the old german LARS.
Also,what sort of range would a CVR-7 would have if deployed as light artillery rather than from under the wing of a Harrier?

andyw
andyw
September 2, 2011 1:07 pm

Does the LMM have any significant advantages over the CRV7-PG, and will we be getting the latter?

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 1:12 pm

“What exactly does that force need artilery for?”

For the same reason artillery has always been used. For the same reason it is being fired in Afghanistan now and was fired in the Falklands and Iraq. And the Gulf. It is raw fire power. It is devastatingly effective and it doesn’t care how well trained or professional its targets are.

The words Medium Role Brigade have not changed the essence of hundreds of years of conflict. And I don’t see the link between armour numbers and the need for artillery.

It’s all about the application of fire power and nothing beats artillery / mortars for doing that on a swift and grand scale.

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 1:31 pm

Phil
Well, I specificaly mention that its worth its weight in gold in places like Afghanistan, so, we can cross that one off.

The falklands, yep, if we took away the 30 guns, that would have been a disaster, but if we replaced them with 30 MBTs, would the war have been easier or harder?
My vote would be easier.
Hands up, I could be wrong, but in my understanding, 30 Challies could have easily overran the Argentine lines.

It could just be my limited knowledge, but I’m unaware of any major artilery victories in either gulf war, or the persian war before it

“The words Medium Role Brigade have not changed the essence of hundreds of years of conflict. And I don’t see the link between armour numbers and the need for artillery.”
Blitzkreig.

A Tank is, in effect, little more than a very expensive, very mobile(in its way), very survivable artilery piece.
I dont see the need for its cheaper, fixed, glass jawed little brother, especialy considering the sort of war we are liable to fight in the future.

Which are, in effect, lightening wars.
Whichy, although grand in effect, are unlikely to be grand in scale, the BEF sent to France in the first world war is bigger than the entire british army. In future, a british force, even including air and naval complements, is unlikely to number 40,000

Or, COIN, which I agree, needs guns, far more than we have deployed in Afghanistan.

I asked, would I rather send a tank, or a gun, and apart from afghanistanesque situations, the asnwer was always tank.

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 1:41 pm

DominicJ

The clue is in the name, “indirect fire”. Tanks provide direct fire. Artillery and mortars, indirect fire. They do that over a far greater space than a tank can provide direct fire. An artillery piece if essentially able to be in lots of different places at lots of different times across a very wide battle space in as long as it takes to lay on. A tank, cannot do this.

With your Falklands example, tanks or artillery? The answer is simple, ideally, both. You play to win and so you bring all your strengths to bear, so you need both. That would have made it easiest of all.

Artillery victories in the Gulf War? It was artillery that helped ensure that when forces descended on the objectives the enemy were already a shattered force. More than many other wars the Persian and Iraq wars were one of artillery (whether through guns or via planes) because of the wide open spaces.

Blitzkrieg never changed the essence of war either.

It was simply the exploitation of the new found operational manoeuvrability afforded to conflict with motor vehicles and improved communication systems. And to gain that operational manoeuvrability it must, in all except the least dense battlefields, be earned through attrition. And this is where artillery plays a massive role. All battles boil down to attrition, all wars boil down to attrition. Artillery does a lot of donkey work to that end.

There’s no Blitzkrieg on a dense battlefield with depth.

Brett
Brett
September 2, 2011 1:47 pm

Yankee artillery officer here, with a few thoughts if you don’t mind.

1)I’m a big believer in mixed calibers. The USMC moved to a single caliber (155mm) in the 80’s and 90’s and it was found to be insufficient. The US Army uses both 105mm and 155mm. 105’s for lighter units and 155mm for heavy units. I think this is appropriate if you have a mix of heavy and light maneuver units. Not so much for the USMC that claims to utilize only light units. Even if you only have light units, artillery support needs to be able to go lighter or heavier depending on situation.

2)The only utility I see in SP vs. Towed is for armor units. In a large, conventional armored fight a towed system would have trouble keeping up with tanks. Otherwise, towed works just fine.

3) A 120mm is a good but possibly unnecessary system. They definitely belong with the artillery. Grunts are not going to hump a 120mm or the ammo and still be able to maneuver like a grunt unit should. An artillery unit is better equipped logistically to handle a 120mm.

4)Dispersion is necessary to handle a larger area of operations. Artillery units have to be capable of splitting up into sections and operating independently. Good communications is necessary to do this, and each sub-unit needs its own fire direction capability. Manual fire direction probably can’t support the dispersion, need to be able to rely solely on automated fire direction.

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 2:55 pm

“Is 105/155 the right mix, what about a single intermediate calibre”

This is a technological lock-in. 105 mm is calibre of choice for lightness (and the South Africans have a G7 LEO howitzer for ~ 30 km range with base bleed) and 155 mm for range (and when weight doesn’t matter much).

155 mm will survive as NATO standard, and the UK army is too small to justify a major deviation from NATO standard.

“Do we need traditional armoured self propelled system like AS90 anymore”

Such designs are valuable in conventional warfare, but new procurements could be dumpster truck-based, see the Swedish design.

“Where do mortars fit in, is there a case, for example, for a 120mm and if so Infantry or Artillery”

Normal 120 mm mortars (not the expensive turrets, not the long barrel-long range designs) are a very good choice (and NATO standard) as organic battlegroup / battalion indirect fires system.

“The bunfight between RA/AAC and RAF for extended range attack””

Surface-surface missiles with up to 500 km range should be under army control in order to give aground leadership some bargaining chips in their cooperation with their air force.

“The role of sythetic training systems”

This is a done deal, computer-based training is essential for cost reasons and can be more realistic than live-fire exercises (especially for the artillery).

“Counter battery fires, or more likely counter rocket and mortar fire, do we have the right equipment mix”

I personally would place a greater emphasis on 360° counter-battery radar surveillance AND its availability within seconds of stopping the vehicle. This is a necessity for mobile forces.

“Where does naval Gunfire and land attack fit into the matrix”

It’s a mere niche.

“Are we going precision crazy and ignoring the utility of flattening grid squares”

Suppressive fires with HE (proximity fused) and smoke shell lines (smoke screens) are of great tactical importance. Destruction by direct or close hits is only part of the artillery’s job.

“How can indirect fires support a larger area of operation, is longer range or greater mobility the answer”

Mix it. The artillery and mortars that are organic to manoeuvre formations need to be supplied, of course. This should be relatively easy in mobile warfare if the unit carry enough ammo (mobile warfare = high fuel consumption, low ammunition consumption).

“How can we organise direction and management of indirect fires, is it a recce or RA task”

Joint fire support teams (mortar, artillery, air attack, naval fire support) with high-end hardware and training for Schwerpunkt actions and very good positions (dominating heights).
Leaders, snipers and recce: Qualified for calling for support fires. Bn Cmd and up are able to command instead of ask for a fire mission, of course.

“What about UAV’s and CAS”

Forget UAVs for attack for a while. CAS – expensive, only for theatre Schwerpunkt or very low intensity warfare.

“What about the impact of greater urbanisation”

Shit happens. Ability to hit individual buildings and to create smoke screens is required, but other than that there’s little arty can do.

“What about rockets, is there a case for a smaller round”

227 mm MLRS is de facto NATO standard and unlikely to go away, even though I thin that the Israeli 160 mm LAR is a superior approach. It can use 155 mm cargo shell submunitions. The UK army is too small to deviate on its own, though.

“Loitering munitions, a decade too late or armed UAV replacement”

The only loitering munitions that make sense are anti-radar munitions with SEAD purpose (emphasis on the “S” for “suppression”.

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 2:58 pm

S O makes the very good point that the 105/155 is a NATO standard and thus unlikely to be deviated from for some time. If we had an intermediate shell then we’d be the only ones using it and our interoperability and flexibility would be severely curtailed (not least when we go begging to Belgium for 155mm shells).

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 3:13 pm

Afaik the shells are interchangeable, but you need to inform the artillerymen about their actual external ballistics.
Guided shells require extra equipment for handling, of course.

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 3:27 pm

Regarding urbanisation.

People seem to forget that it is the responsibility of the soldiers *Occupying* the city to ensure the protection of the civillian populace and infrastructure, not those shelling it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Goose_Green

“”MILITARY OPTIONS
We have sent a PW to you under a white flag of truce to convey the following military options:
1. That you unconditionally surrender your force to us by leaving the township, forming up in a military manner, removing your helmets and laying down your weapons. You will give prior notice of this intention by returning the PW under a white flag with him briefed as to the formalities by no later than 0830 hrs local time.
2. You refuse in the first case to surrender and take the inevitable consequences. You will give prior notice of this intention by returning the PW without his flag (although his neutrality will be respected) no later than 0830 hrs local time.
3. In the event and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Geneva Convention and Laws of War you will be held responsible for the fate of any civilians in Darwin and Goose Green and we in accordance with these terms do give notice of our intention to bombard Darwin and Goose Green.
C KEEBLE
Commander of British Forces””

The Guardianistas might not like it, mostly because they prefer the terrorists shooting from schools to the Israelis soldiers they are shooting at, but it is perfectly legal to use a 1000lb bomb on a mortar, even if its fireing from the top of a childrens hospital, and any ensueing loss of life is the fault of the mortar team and the officer who placed it there, not the pilot who bombed it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war#Applicability_to_states_and_individuals
“By the same token, combatants that intentionally use protected people or property as shields or camouflage are guilty of violations of laws of war and are responsible for damage to those that should be protected.”

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 3:38 pm

“People seem to forget that it is the responsibility of the soldiers *Occupying* the city to ensure the protection of the civillian populace and infrastructure, not those shelling it.”

Negative.

All military actions should be bound by the principles of military necessity, humanity, proportionality and distinction. Shelling the shit out of a town can violate all those principles.

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 3:40 pm

This “use” means ‘force them to the position they want to protect against attack’.

It’s perfectly legal to set up camp in an inhabited village, for example. That’s not prohibited behaviour and no special responsibilities for the lives of the civilians are attached.

Mike W
September 2, 2011 3:53 pm

If we could afford it, I would love to see the M777 155mm howitzer, with its much heavier hitting power, in British Army service (to serve alongside the 105mm Light Gun – 155s for heavy units and 105s for lighter units).

However, I have one lingering doubt in my mind about the M777. I think I remember reading years ago that although it could be carried underslung by a Chinook, it could not be transported thus by a Merlin. If the Merlins are all to go to the Royal Navy, the M777s would not be much use in support of the Royal Marines, would they, or have I got that entirely wrong?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 3:59 pm

Hi BB,

“can provide a heavier bombardment – very important in our incredible shrinking army.”
– hence two barrels:16 rounds in the first 2 minutes out to 10-12 km, depending on type of round
– And can do shoot and scoot faster than the guns; yes ready to shoot almost as soon as stops as all targeting is on GPS (manual override, of course)

I think the latest is the Canadian decision
http://www.army-guide.com/eng/article/article.php?forumID=1912
– only one barrel, on wheels to give better range (and speed) to reach the next firing position

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 4:03 pm

“A BAe representative confirmed one assumption that I have had and expressed since a long time.
It takes two to three minutes to turn around a M777 lightweight 155mm howitzer beyond its small traverse. This prevents a good responsiveness all-round. Assertions of airborne guys about their ability to secure an airfield for air-deployable reinforcements are not credible for this reason. The M777 is a 39 calibre barrel length gun (already out-ranged by 52 cal guns) and it needs eight guns minimum for a 360° coverage at response times of less than two minutes.
Sure, such equipment proves itself against Taleban and its users seem to like it. But did these users encounter any counter-artillery-capable opponents in the past 63 years? No.”
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2008/06/eurosatory-2008.html

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 4:08 pm

Phil
No, not negative, a soldier fighting from a hospital or other such structure is responsible for any damage done to it.

“Shelling the shit out of a town can violate all those principles.”

It *can* but *can* does not mean *does*.

Use a Grid Square Removal Service on central Paris to get a sniper would probably fail.
Using it to destroy a tank regiment would not.
Many people seem to have the mistaken opinion that a soldier fighting from a hospital has donned some sort of legal armour, he has not, he has jumped into a legal noose.
Thats not to say the UK would bomb hospitals, even if the other side made them legal targets, but thats for political/press reasons, rather than cast iron legal ones.

For example, had we used area munitions against argentine airfields, despite massive losses to civillians, that would clearly be a military necessity, whereas the same against the fleet in port, would probably fail, because they’d been knocked out of the war already.

SO
Using my above example, I’m fairly sure if the argies hadnt surrendered, and goose green had been shelled, with heavy civillian losses, some of them would be in jail / gallows over it.
We’d be less interested in holding the other side to account for losses to their civillian populace.

I’m surprised that got such a reaction, personaly I;m still not a fan of artilery, but ironicaly, its because we hit better civillian targets with guided stuff…..

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 4:10 pm

Hi DJ, your bottom line answer is to the wrong question, as it is not “either-or”.

Further:
“the persian war before it”
– was, if anything lately, an artillery war on the lines of WW1. The lines soon froze and then 8(?) years of that followed (including death-defying infantry charges across mine fields, barbed wire – on occasions even gas)

“the link between armour numbers and the need for artillery…
Blitzkreig.”
– lesson learnt(?): Don’t ever let the artillery support fall behind (SPG was the answer then, and part of the answer still today)

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 4:13 pm

12km really isnt that far….

The 105 does 17km, the german 155 throws out to 40km, and some experimental work went out to 80km.

Personaly I like the 120mm mortar, but range is hardly a selling point.

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 4:19 pm

“No, not negative, a soldier fighting from a hospital or other such structure is responsible for any damage done to it.”

Fighting from a hospital would violate some or all four of the principles mentioned. And just because they have been violated by the enemy does not mean the other parties obligations under the law of armed conflict are negated.

The army attacking that occupied hospital still have to adhere to the four principles mentioned above. You cannot shift the responsibility to the enemy.

Both sides have responsibilities.

So it’s a negative ghostrider. The occupying power is not responsible for the hospital and the damage done to it.

“It *can* but *can* does not mean *does*.”

I know. I used the word “can” on purpose.

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 4:20 pm

105 mm HE-RAP fired by G7 LEO does 32 km under optimal conditions, while comparable 155 mm HE-RAP fired by best 155 mm L/52 guns does 42 km under same conditions. The real-world values for a much more economical HE-BB are about 23 and about 30 km.

Glide shells for howitzers are idiotic. You should use a MRL if you intend to use a fin-stabilised glide round.

IXION
IXION
September 2, 2011 4:21 pm

DominicJ

Never mind the law!

There are certain practicalities. About indiscriminant firewpower.

As the US found in Iraq, it’s not a good opening line when you drive in: –

“High we are the people Who:-
Destroyed your local economy/job.
Blew up your house.
killed your children
We are here to save you”

It gains nor looses nothing in translation.

Goose green and Darwin hardly ‘Built up’ Areas!

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 2, 2011 4:27 pm

ACC
The Iran Iraq war used a lot of artillery, but I cant imagine how artilery is viewed as a wonderful success in it.
The war was an absolute disaster for and by both sides, with folly not seen since the first world war.

I think we just fundamentaly disagree on what war is likely to look like in the future.
Me, I see a swift breakthrough and a collapse of the enemy, but I have little wish for a sustained break through, with a view to “seizing territory” or some such.
The purpose is to smash the enemy military to oput pressure on the enemy government to give in to our demands.
We dont have the stomach to lay seige, even if we buy the equipment, so why buy it?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 4:27 pm

Hi S O,

Good points all through, on this one
” loitering munitions that make sense are anti-radar munitions with SEAD purpose (emphasis on the “S” for “suppression””
– a pity that the only one in which the idea has been implemented is too short ranged for safely (for the launching aircraft) to reach a position (for starting the loitering) in Area Air Defence situations (of modern standards)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 4:28 pm

… or are there such, now, that are artillery launched (on the second thought)?

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 4:29 pm

DominicJ

Artillery is not a siege weapon. And as I said, your quick breakthrough has to be earned.

Tell me how you envisage your swift breakthrough occurring.

Phil
Phil
September 2, 2011 4:30 pm

“with folly not seen since the first world war”

WWI was many things, above all a true tragedy for Europe, but there was not as much folly in it as many think.

S O
S O
September 2, 2011 4:39 pm

@Armchaircivvy; google for the harpy drone.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 4:40 pm

Hi DJ,

It is not the range, but the overlapping of ranges and firing modes, taking your
“The 105 does 17km, the german 155 throws out to 40km, and some experimental work” …, now in service, a pity that 127 and 155 both have to be made in very small production runs, to 120 km… add 70 for GMLRS and 300 for ATACMS
-one battery 120 automated mortars with direct fire from under 100 m (with indirect) out to 12 km; then the other out to 17 from positions where the other arty assets might be difficult to insert (oh boy, the Americans were pissed off with the Chinook lifted 105’s lacking the range of the 155’s that were difficult to get to where they were needed; and we are going back to Vietnam here, not the Iraq/Iran wars of later)
– yes , and the 155 as the third. It is no secret that I favour putting these on wheels as opposed to only having heavy SPG’s. The same wheels indeed as already quoted early in this thread that could take half a load of GMLRS to where they are needed, plenty quick, including by air to another continent – the much derided capability in itself!

There is no need to have these last mentioned assets organically within an MRB, but to assign them/ twin packs on tracks, or even enhanced to ATACMS’s as needed, from specialist RA Rgmnts as and when needed (the heavier held in TA perhaps)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 4:54 pm

“with folly not seen since the first world war”
“WWI was many things, above all a true tragedy for Europe”,
While I agree with both DJ & Phil on these, the rare success of anything that DJ was looking for was:
the BVR capability of F-14 Tomcats… flying against a western-supported Mig air force (the Mirages later did not make any difference; the embargoed supply of spares and AA weaponry did)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 5:11 pm

Hi S O, starting from the shared point (best value from loitering is taking out radar emitters)
– the European advanced Harpy derivatives only target 200 km range (you as as land forces, or your ships have to be on the edge of an AAD system to attack it then)
– whereas this one looks like a real substitute for TacStrike in SEAD (as we don’t have any deep strike):
” Initially displayed in the Paris Air Show in 1999, the system combined the airframe of the Harpy UAV, made by Israel Aircraft Industries, with advanced sensors made by Raytheon Systems, which also manufactures the HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation) missile. Cutlass was adapted for ship-based operations to support US Navy operations over land. It is designed for six hours missions, flying at speed of 100 knots and maximum range of 1,000 km.

Unlike the autonomous Harpy, Cutlass also has a direct line-of-sight datalink capability at range up to 150 km. This range can be extended via relays built into each weapon. Like Harpy, Cutlass primarily is a SEAD weapon, relying on a blast-fragmentation warhead, but Cutlass is different from Harpy in its semi-autonomous mode of operation. When a potential target is located, the information is data-linked to an operator in the ground station to confirm target identification and to provide positive man-in-the-loop attack permission. With different seekers, the killer drone can also be used for hunting of ballistic missile launchers, urban warfare, and attacking vehicles. Other potential missions for an unarmed version of the Cutlass could be reconnaissance, target acquisition and battle-damage assessment, he said. It operates at an altitude of 6,000 feet, to avoid ground fire.”

A bit of an aside from artillery discussions, but then again 300 km ranged ATACMS is artillery!

Jed
Jed
September 2, 2011 6:36 pm

Head over to Sheppard publishing and register for your free electronic copy of Land Warfare magazine – this months issue has a big article on SP Artillery, just not had time to read it yet !

x
x
September 2, 2011 9:23 pm

@ Phil said “WWI was many things, above all a true tragedy for Europe, but there was not as much folly in it as many think.”

Do you mean militarily? If so I agree.

Or do you mean more in a broad sweep of history sort of way?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 2, 2011 9:34 pm
ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 10:06 pm

TD, agreed, the mindset seems to be setting in a “mould”.

What caught my eye, though, was the very beginning:
“A six-month basic spotters course for E-2s will produce experts in map reading, GPS systems, radio systems, naval gunfire, artillery spotting, mortar spotting, and close air support. The school will also offer a three-month advanced “Chiefs” course for career JUS servicemen at the grade of E-6. This course will also teach the neglected aspect of munitions costs and inventory management. For example, there is no need to waste a million-dollar Tomahawk missile on a bunker when a Navy 5-inch gun can destroy it. And if you only have 200 MLRS loads in theater, you don’t waste them on non-critical targets.”

This kind of “jointness” has been implemented in the SRR, and the Sphynx Battery within the RA. I am no expert, but I believe there are stove pipes in normal formations? Like: no heavy mortars at all, because it would be difficult to say whether that is integral infantry (close) support or artillery, being 120 mm and long-ranged.
– and even when the RA wants to move with the times, and put all the relevant kit into the same team (that then takes two Warriors, because it is a lot of kit, taking a lot of power and antennae… guess what: no budget)

Mike W
September 2, 2011 10:10 pm

An earlier point by paul g set me thinking. As AS90 is scheduled to remain in service until 2030, might not some hulls be retained for other purposes? The original intention was to manufacture several variants: e.g. a recovery vehicle, an ammunition re-supply vehicle and a carrier for the anti-tank mines that Shielder now carries. If and when the British Army has the money, surely a recovery version of the AS90 for the RA would be useful? I ask because the Army itself developed a recovery and repair version of the MLRS carrier and 4 of these vehicles are now in service.

Such a conversion of the AS90 would save on the use of Warrior repair and recovery vehicles. Spares would be there in considerable numbers. I am probably just being fanciful again.

Chris.B.
September 2, 2011 10:12 pm

DomJ,

While breakthroughs and rapid movement are all well and good, I think the point Phil might be making is that you need to punch a whole through in the first place before you can start free wheeling through the enemies rear.

That means using artillery and airstrikes to wear down the enemy and then eventually suppress them while the advance goes in.

Once on the move, you’ll find that artillery very handy. Even a fluid advance sometimes has to slow down and engage certain enemy forces, at which point mobile artillery comes in very handy.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 2, 2011 10:53 pm

Hi Mike W,

Not a bad idea; BTW, can a 30 t Warrior recover a 45 t AS90, to begin with?

Also, Command Post would be useful, space would come to good use. FSTs are desperately short of space, but then again they will be well forward a lot of time, so a Warrior (2 of them, to hop on my hobby horse) is perhaps more appropriate?
– also, a command post vehicle does not need to be armed, whereas being well forward needs self-defence weapons (not necessarily a 30mm)

Phil
September 2, 2011 10:57 pm

Yes that is what I mean. Clean breakthroughs just do not happen in dense battle spaces. You have to claw your way through.

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 7:55 am

They did. Sedan 1940 for example was a breakthrough through an 8 km deep divisional defence -including river crossing – all done in one day and with artillery munition supply largely depleted and on a loooong supply line which included a gigantic traffic jam.

The breakthrough was a result of good infantry small unit actions, a demoralizing Schwerpunkt aerial bombardment and a French tank panic (especially among the French artillery). Tanks didn’t even play a major role in it, nor did artillery. The attack was done by an infantry-weak Panzerdivision, though.

Chris.B.
September 3, 2011 8:30 am

I think a lot of it, as with most things in war, is relative.

— The nature of the artillery has an impact (rate of fire, size of HE shells)
— As does the enemy defense,
— And their depth,
— And their morale,
— And the quality of the attackers and their equipment,

Etc, the list goes on. I think artillery has a very good record though!

Phil
September 3, 2011 8:43 am

The Battle of France was a lesson in concentrating strategic strength against strategic weakness. Had there been a greater density of French troops and reserves the attack would likely have not gone so well. For an example of what happens when a powerful army strikes a front line which is not dense in itself but the operational area possesses depth you can look at Operation Watch on the Rhine. A clean breakthrough is very much the exception in warfare when the battles-space possesses density and depth.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 9:08 am

Furthermore more with Sedan in 1940, you’ll note that the Luftwaffe effectively provided artillery from the air and that two of the three assaults across the river failed completely. Had the French had depth and gumption in that area it would have proved no great difficulty to pinch off 1st Pz Division.

In addition, war is a human endeavour and so you will never find a complete theoretical model to explain every event. There was no small amount of good luck on the side of the Germans over the course of that battle. They won it by the skin of their teeth. The point being is that depth and density would have compensated for a lot of French structural weaknesses, probably all of them. As it was, there was little density in the line around Sedan but even that was enough to stop dead 2/3 of the attack.

I can think of 7-8 allied thrusts in Normandy which were powerful, massed armoured thrusts that broke against a dense German battle line. You need fire power to breakdown the enemy, you need to grind through their lines and win the battle of attrition before you can break out.

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 9:41 am

No you don’t.

You don’t seem to take the concepts of morale, turning movement, infiltration attack or surprise into account.

A well-executed breakthrough engagement (if there’s anything to break through at all – front lines are unlikely) can be quick and succeed with relatively few KIA and WIA on both sides.

Certain armies weren’t capable of more than brute force employment for breakthroughs, but their incompetence does not set the limit of what was or is possible.

Competent forces – even only competent in one regard – define the limit of the possible.
The Chinese in Korea, Germans in France and Soviet Union and at Kasserine, the British against Italians in Libya, the Japanese in Malaya – they all proved that there’s the possibility of quick breakthroughs based on competence instead of slow and costly breakthroughs based on brute force.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 9:55 am

“No you don’t.”

When the enemy is remotely competent and in sufficient density then you do.

I have never said that in all breakthroughs the density requirement was met. The entire Eastern Front in both wars is an example of what happens when insufficient force density allows manoeuvre warfare to take place. Same with regards to the North Africa campaign in most of its phases.

But in a dense battlefield like the Western Front in WWI, at Alamein, in Normandy, in Italy, in the Ardennes you have to fight your way through. You have to earn your manoeuvre battle – you do not have a choice which one you employ. And to earn that manoeuvre battle one needs fire-power and mass and the enemy must be attrited.

None of those quick breakthrough’s you mention would likely have occurred had the force density been high enough.

The genius of the German plan (although it was essentially accidental genius) in 1940 was to concentrate its strategic strength against the allied strategic weakness, once it was through Sedan, which was not the clean breakthrough you make out, then there was nothing to counter the thrust once it developed. The battlefield in that sector became much less dense and the rest is history.

In Normandy a powerful allied army had to beat the German divisions down to battlegroup size, it had to literally grind them down to nothing more than a string of outposts with no reserves before they could break out. The only thing that stopped Normandy being WWI redux was the lack of strategic German depth. There was no way around the German lines except to go through.

In a less dense battlefield you can manoeuvre, but in a dense one you have no choice in the matter. Furthermore, in a less dense battlefield, key points will see dense localities of troops that you again will need fire power to smash.

So I never said breakthrough’s were not possible in a clean quick manner. I said they were almost impossible in dense battlespaces.

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 10:09 am

As I wrote; the incompetent armies don’t define the limit of the possible. Same is true with lacking morale.

The breakout of Normandy beach was utterly incompetent, evidenced by the fact that the defensive line was very thin – a single regiment held a sector that was even too wide for a division and succeeded for more than a day.
A German invasion at Normandy would have reached Paris before the Allies even saw Caen.

Speed is essential. Slow attackers provoked timely arrival of defender reserves. They did not prove that no quick breakthrough was possible. Their incompetence lead to the result, not the state of the art and tools of war.

Besides; isn’t it rather stupid to lie about what one has written if the evidence for what was actually written is just a half second’s worth of scrolling away and already too old for an edit?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 10:17 am

Hi Phil,

I agree with everything you say, but your specific example is not the best one:
“In Normandy a powerful allied army had to beat the German divisions down to battlegroup size,[the most capable divisions could not be deployed, in time, in division sized packets as the Allied air superiority disrupted other communications and impeded their normal manoeuvre speeds over roads, so not so much grinding down but deploying?] it had to literally grind them down to nothing [yes, from there on] more than a string of outposts with no reserves before they could break out. The only thing that stopped Normandy being WWI redux was the lack of strategic German depth

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 12:58 pm

“Besides; isn’t it rather stupid to lie about what one has written if the evidence for what was actually written is just a half second’s worth of scrolling away and already too old for an edit?”

Point out where I lied then mate. Off you go.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 1:03 pm

“[the most capable divisions could not be deployed, in time, in division sized packets as the Allied air superiority disrupted other communications and impeded their normal manoeuvre speeds over roads, so not so much grinding down but deploying?]”

Had the divisions around Calais been released early on in the campaign the breakout would have taken much longer.

Lots of people like to blame perceived military failures on incompetence when in actual fact the failures are down to far more objective reasons like supply, difficulty in communications, subjective readings of the enemies intentions, exhaustion, difficulty in assessing enemy positions and above all, more than any other, the intentions and actions of the enemy. They do not put themselves in the same position as those making the decisions with the same information they had at the time. Nine times out of ten there is logic behind each decision.

Breakout from the Normandy beach incompetent? That’s right S O, if only you had been in command, you’d have known just what to do with your perfect information flow and robot army that doesn’t get tired or make mistakes and a supine enemy that just did exactly what you hoped they would do.

You have served from what you say, you should know better.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 1:22 pm

Had the Anzio breakout been attempted against token opposition (before HG LW Divison got deployed, because the delay made that possible)…

I think our own history channel deserves these topics! (TD has reserved the opening shot for San Carlos for himself…)

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 1:27 pm

Straw man attack? How lame.

Fact is that the Allies had already paid their fee in regard to the importance of moving ahead on a bridgehead/beachhead in Italy (Anzio). They planned for a quick breakout and failed to execute it against the opposition of 4th rate German troops and ill-positioned, totally overextended 1st rate German troops. That was tactical incompetence at levels platoon to division.

The failure to break out of Normandy beachhead quickly is thus not indicative at all in regard to breakthroughs in general. It’s simply not the benchmark – or close to it.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 1:30 pm

“Had the Anzio breakout been attempted against token opposition”

It is much more useful to look at WHY the breakout did not happen when we, with hindsight, think it should have happened. By looking at WHY we’ll get a much better idea of the friction and constraints and thinking on the battlefield.

A lot of the time sound decisions are made based on what the commander at the time understands, sometimes those decisions loose out to luck, or perhaps subordinates down the line mess up, or perhaps the enemy pins down one platoon long enough to bring up a reinforcing company or perhaps the weather closed in, or planes dropped bombs on their own lines, or orders got muddled, or the enemy launched a spoiling attack or were feared to be about to launch a spoiling attack, perhaps intelligence underestimated enemy strength in one sector and over estimated in another.

Clausewitz summed it all up by calling it the “friction” of war. Everything in war is simple, but doing the simplest things are difficult.

So perhaps by studying why things happened in Anzio we can understand the friction and constraints and understand the decision making.

Two very good books are by Van Creveld, Supplying War and On Command.

Mike W
September 3, 2011 1:33 pm

Thanks very much for your reply to my post about an AS90 Recovery Vehicle. I rather like the suggestion of a Command Post too. I suppose it all comes down to how much cash there is. Doesn’t it always? Still, it’s a good idea to use the chassis you have already.

In reply to your question “BTW, can a 30 t Warrior recover a 45 t AS90, to begin with?”, the answer is I don’t know how they recover AS90s. I think the old Chieftain ARRVs and M578s went some time ago. Perhaps they bring in CRARRVs or the heavy wheeled MAN wrecker.

Incidentally, ACC, you mentioned on another thread (CVR(T) 2.0?) that the Stormer flatbed (Shielder) was now in storage. Do you know that for certain? It’s not a case of yet another vehicle withdrawn from active duty, is it? Is there a source for that?

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 1:35 pm

“The failure to break out of Normandy beachhead quickly is thus not indicative at all in regard to breakthroughs in general”

Normandy was just one example. Anzio another. Gallipoli another. Monte Cassino another. Alamein another. Hurtgen forest another. Shall we go to the Pacific theatre too? There’s plenty of examples of having to grind through the enemy there. No great “turning” movements there, or was that just down to incompetence too? Equally, North Africa, and the Eastern Front show what happens when the front is less dense and strength can be bought to bear on weakness.

A dense battlefield with depth removes any choice you have between manoeuvre and attrition.

You do NOT get to choose which you’d prefer.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 1:39 pm

General dePuy makes my point for me.

“People talk a lot about attrition versus maneuver. This is not an intellectual choice. The same generals who so brilliantly dashed across France were suddenly forced back into conducting attrition warfare. Nobody doubts that General George Patton preferred maneuver, but maneuver warfare is not a doctrinal choice; it is an earned benefit.

The efforts to break through and obtain operational maneuver in the Fall of 1944 at Arnhem, with the great air-ground operation called Market Garden, failed; the attacks through Huertgen and Aachen were bloody and indecisive, and the attack by the Third Army across the Saar bogged down.

In a last operational effort in the middle of December — three months later — the German Army once more sought freedom of maneuver through the Ardennes.”

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 1:51 pm

Hi Mike,

I don’t know either (about recovery, it is the sort of engineers’ department of moments and all that… but the chassis are plentiful, so should not be a money question? And commonality guaranteed within the unit fielded).

I believe the weapon system is about as modern as they come and they created a special Stormer version for it, as Wiki tells us:
“Flat bed Stormer [ the next bit is wrong because it is also launched from the carrier]
A transport version of the Stormer with a flat load bed is used to carry the Shielder minelaying system.”
– Gabby quoted an army (capability) study where this became across as all new (when I think it was just about putting it on a shared & common chassis)
– I believe the number of HMV Stormer carriers is merely a token (3 dozen or so??? I don’y know)… so
— I have been suggesting (because overall WR numbers are tight), that
— we take them (the residual Stormer number) out of storage and provide AI with a mobile & protected HEAVY mortar platform
— the flatbeds would serve as ammo carriers (putting the “instant anti-tank mine field dispenser” system from the US back onto them, if that was perceived to be ‘the’ response to a likely threat would be easy and quick)

Just the fact that we have a capable & fairly new, ie. not worn out platform, with enough volume in it for various uses and enough parts commonality to make it work in the field… while there is all this whining about money – that makes me hurt on the inside

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 1:56 pm

BTW, I think, hope and trust that
– there has been a trick, using the Spartan’s increased height, to mine-proof it in the new build of Scimitar 2
– otherwise it makes no sense, as the Stormer hulls would have been new enough (but the design didn’t focus on mines nor IEDs at the time)

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 2:22 pm

Don’t you see that your examples of failure to achieve a quick breakthrough are all Western Allies examples?
The only German failure that’s comparable was Kursk, and the forces and field fortification density there was beyond comprehension.

I already gave you examples of competent, quick breakthroughs and I already hinted at what important levers you’re ignoring. I understand you’re what many people call an “attritionist”, but that doesn’t change the fact that quick breakthroughs happen regularly for competent forces.

You do NOT need to reduce the defenders very much (not even locally – and especially not WIA/KIA). You do NOT subject them to an intense artillery bombardment (nor an aerial substitute).

Infiltration attacks can penetrate even strong defences. Entire battalions can disassemble, infiltrate and reassemble kilometres behind enemy lines.

Turning movements on micro level can dissolve even deep defences by de-valuing them. You do not need to grind them away – all you need is to make clear that they better withdraw in the next night.

Morale is most important. Low defender morale (including poor cohesion) enables even minor attack successes to dissolve large defensive sectors. Again – no need to grind away many of those defenders in this case.

Surprise – no front line is everywhere strong enough to withstand an assault. It’s merely everywhere strong enough to withstand a moderate concentration of attackers and to slow them down till defensive reserves arrive.
Surprise can – both on micro and on macro levels – overwhelm a weak portion of the line quickly. I’m talking about a few hours here.

Doctrine, attitude and leadership character. Some forces capture a position, then prepare against counterattack. Reserves then advance to make the next push.
Other forces capture a position, then exploit the temporary disorder and push farther. Reserves mop up the beaten defenders.
Other forces again don’t even mop up the beaten defenders, but use the reserves to push even harder or wider.
It’s also possible to be in the process of winning a local fight and let some of your forces break contact in order to assemble them for pursuit/further advance – even before the initial fight was over.

Some armies know how to do mobile warfare and be quick, others don’t. There’s a DePuy quote for that as well:
“The German Army is convinced that the American Army does not understand Panzergrenadier
tactics and techniques. In this they are to a large extent correct, at least as it is now practiced.” (1975!)
http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/download/csipubs/swain3/swain3_pt3.pdf

Feel free to postulate that a quick breakthrough requires massive amounts of firepower and a long time, including the chewing away of many defenders.
Be aware that this is not an universal truth, though. It’s the limit of what British, Americans and Soviets were capable of in face of competent and half-way properly equipped defenders.

Most of this is now quite moot, of course. There won’t be classic World War front lines again any time soon.
The one relevant aspect is about he destruction of a mobile formation. It can be shattered with quite few KIA or WIA on both sides. That’s important to know. It’s for field officers also important to know how to do it.

IXION
IXION
September 3, 2011 2:32 pm

Phil

Another example of Manouvre v Atrrition is the American Civil war Gen Mclellan treid every manouvre in the then book but was fired in the end becuse he refused to committ to the innevitable and bloody attrition that was required.

Manouvre is not a substitute for firepower.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 2:33 pm

Hi Phil, a great point again (100% agreed):
“Equally, North Africa, and the Eastern Front show what happens when the front is less dense and strength can be bought to bear on weakness.

A dense battlefield with depth removes any choice you have between manoeuvre and attrition.”

But then you go on to spoil your own point, again through the chosen example:
” Nobody doubts that General George Patton preferred maneuver, but maneuver warfare is not a doctrinal choice; it is an earned benefit.”

Both Patton and Monty earned “whatever”, but there are political constraints, in this example Ike (already with an eye on the US Presidency – can’t spoil the chance! – and at the time charged with maintaining the balance (ie. the full effort of) between the partners, at no time unsure who was the junior partner, but ever so “politician” – and yes or no: a great soldier? Probably not, as his balancing act between the broad brief given to him (executed) and his personal agenda (executed), cost hundreds of thousands of lives (‘linear front’ – does that sound like manoeuvre to anyone – was favoured). Up to a year more of the war – and Berlin (who would want that, anyway, such a dour city even though ‘hip’ to some)

Why do I detail to that degree, for something so far in the past? Were the field commanders in Basra also under political constraints to execute? And we are mainly talking here about a chain of command within one nation (ok, 3, but nothing like the Grand Coalition in the example); That! was so much worse than bad that only my aversion to swear words on the internet closes the post here

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 2:49 pm

“Don’t you see that your examples of failure to achieve a quick breakthrough are all Western Allies examples?”

I’m not blind to that fact. It is because the western theatres were far denser than the eastern ones. The enormity of a continuous eastern front meant that depth and density could not be achieved and so it was far easier for either side to gain space to manoeuvre.

There was no such luxury anywhere in Europe in Italy or France and the low countries. It was therefore necessary to fight strong German forces who used their tactical and operational skill to deny the allies a breakthrough until they physically could not hold the line anymore.

The Germans were attrited to almost nothing and that enabled the allies to breakthrough. The Germans had all the advantages of the defender, the allies every disadvantage of the inexperienced attacker.

The Germans were very often able to have the allies in a position where their overall inferior numbers could be deployed in a space small enough to bring about the required density to preclude an easy allied breakthrough.

Call me what you want, I am a realist.

I do not deny that small unit tactics of some imagination can succeed on the local level but the picture is bigger than that.

Delving into the minutiae of a lot of battles in Normandy or elsewhere shows a fluid series of events but in almost all cases the Germans would deploy reserves and recover their equilibrium. Only when there was nothing left in the barrel did the allies make real progress.

You also completely ignored my comments on the Pacific Theatre where battlefield density was very high and there was no scope for operational manoeuvre or barely tactical manoeuvre.

I guess the Marines “shock and awed” the Japanese to death then? Persuaded them they better pull back the next night or else?

And it’s all very well telling me how an attack develops, tell me what happens when it stalls? When the enemy do something you don’t expect? Or a unit stops dead because it misunderstood an order? Or when the enemy recovers and strikes back? Or your lead company is pinned down and want go forward? Or the enemy are infiltrating your lines as you try and do the same to them?

You take the friction of war and you label it incompetence.

You take a best case scenario of a quick breakthrough and then announce this is the only model and deny plenty of evidence to show that attritional warfare is unavoidable when the battle space becomes dense.

“It’s the limit of what British, Americans and Soviets were capable of in face of competent and half-way properly equipped defenders.”

It’s the limit of what any army is capable of in the face of a competent half way properly equipped force. German operational and strategic counter-attacks (as opposed to local ones) in NW Europe failed every time they came up against a dense allied battle-space. Their panache in the defence and their panache in the local attack did not translate itself into victory against a strong dense enemy and they lacked the ultimate numbers to attrit the allies to the point of victory. The same was not true of the allies vis a vis Germany.

“Most of this is now quite moot, of course.”

Hardly. Had the Iraqi’s had some gumption about them then Baghdad would have been a classic attritional battle in 2003. Fallujah was nothing more than attrition of the insurgent in the local area and his wearing down. The Faklands saw a relatively dense battle-space as well.

The forces might be smaller now, but if the spaces in which they fight are not also very large then you hit the same problem.

IXION
IXION
September 3, 2011 3:38 pm

Phil

‘The Germans had all the advantages of the defender, the allies every disadvantage of the inexperienced attacker’.

Exactly it is where some of the myth of the German super soldier comes from. Also the germans were fighting for as they saw it there survival as a people.

(Lots of nazi propaganda abou the allies Deporting it’s people and / flattening Germany turning it into a agriculteral plain,(not as soutlandish as it sounds now it was discussed openly).

And after all they knew their treatment of conquered peoples would not go unpunished.

Likewise sooner or later you have to destroy the enemies decent units for him to be defeated.

Jed
Jed
September 3, 2011 4:09 pm

Soooo, just to move back to TD’s questions rather than turn this into the history thread (not that history is not important!) – I finally got round to reading the Sheppard Land Warfare International for his quarter, which has interesting articles on SPG’s.

Donar with its AGM gets a mention (and two photos) in the context of new move to lighter tracked SPG. It does note that the AGM turret carries 30 projectiles (and charges) compared to 60 carried by a “full size” PZH2000.

On the wheeled front there seems to be a definate hierarchy of expense / capability and complexity:

1. Top Tier
South Africa’s G6 and Rheinmettal’s new and very similar RWG52, which is a bespoke 6 x 6 chasis with a new 155/52 gun and turret (with 40 rounds carried).

2. Second tier
BAe Archer based on the FH77 52 calibre gun, the small “turret” carries a fully auto gun with ready to fire rounds (20 in turret, 20 more in stowage)

3. Third tier
Nexter CAESAR 155/52 which is manually loaded (?) gun on the back of a lightly armoured truck.

I guess the old LIMAWS(G) idea of an “Portee” M777 155/39 on the back of a Supacat 8 x 8 (with up to 70 rounds) is somewhat equivalent to CEASAR ? Or was it just a transport mechanism – did the gun have to be “dismounted” from the truck to be fired?

The New Denel T7 105/58 gets a mention, apparently the turrets has been trialed on a GD-Canada LAV III chassis.

Anyway – as SDSR (realistically funded or not) continues to place the emphasis on expeditionary warfare, IF we had the money to supplement the big and heavy AS90 what would be best ?

Supcat LIMAWS(G) and CEASAR seem to be the lightest weight and most “deployable” systems, but the Archer seems to be in the suite spot to me: In context I would get rid of the good old 105mm LG, because 120mm mortars are even more mobile and have precision guided munitions available, with a 155(39, 45, or 52 calibre – I dont care) for heavier medium range fires, and GMLRS for the longer range.

So it would be good if an LIMAWS(M) single rocket pack could go on the same chassis as the 155mm – could we build something on my beloved RG35 or the protected cab variant of our ‘standard’ MAN 6 x 6 ???????

Jed
Jed
September 3, 2011 4:12 pm

Another reference to Land Warfare International – there is a story about Sweden’s competition to replace BV206 with either BVS210 MKII or STK Bronco/Warthog.

In the article it states: “Many of the Royal Marines Mk1’s have seen punishing service in Afghanistan and the Royal Marines plans to upgrade them to a comparable standard to the Mk II. The RM is also seeking to field two new variants in small numbers, an 81mm mortar variant and a direct fire support variant.”

Direct fire support variant of BVS10 Mk II – what would that carry I wonder – just a 40mm GMG ??

Mike W
September 3, 2011 4:13 pm

To get back to one of TM’s initial questions (he said ‘to start the ball rolling’)

“Is 105/155 the right mix, what about a single intermediate calibre?”

Well, I think that it is the right mix. There is a rumour that the Artillery component in the new MRB will now be a regiment consisting of two AS90 batteries and two 105mm Light Gun batteries. That would seem to me a better solution than equipping the whole regiment with AS90s and keeping the 105s outside the brigade to be called on if needed. As AS90 batteries now train with the Light Gun prior to deployment in Afghanistan, it would seem to me a sensible and flexible arrangement. Both guns are now scheduled to serve until 2030, I believe. I don’t know how true the above rumour is, by the way.

In answer to TM’s second question: “Do we need a traditional armoured self-propelled system like AS90 anymore?”, the answer is an unqualified, yes, we do. If we had to fight a more conventional high-intensity campaign again, heavy armour would be indispensable. Not only would its armour be important but its range of 24.7 kms significantly outdoes that of the Light Gun (17.2 kms. (HE).

By the way, some contributors have said that the M777 uses the same 155mm ammunition as the AS90. Can someone confirm that that is true?

One last point. Wouldn’t Wolfhound, with its heavy protection, make a very appropriate towing vehicle for the 105mm Light Gun? I know that it carries out such duties in Afghanistan but I meant in general service eventually, to replace vehicles like the Leyland DAF and the Pinz?

Thanks for the info concerning Stormer. Agree with every word.

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 4:30 pm

Historically some formations broke after experiencing 5% losses, while others kept resisting after experiencing 40% losses.
Now if you allow the enemy to become prepared for your assault (or even only its late stage) AND choose to attack at a place where there’s one of the stubborn formations, then you’re most likely incompetent as operational commander.

Another point is that even though breakthrough battles often caused great losses (example Amiens 1940) to the defender, these losses did mostly not occur before breakthrough was ensured. Pursuit and mopping up actions usually account for a great share of the casualties (especially POWs).
It’s been true for millennias that pursuit of a defeated army causes usually more casualties than the battle does while both armies are still intact.
The Amiens example shows that breakthrough can actually be achieved by simply pushing forward through a strongpoint defence.

The German army didn’t do major breakthroughs in late WW2 against Western Allies for very different reasons than asserted here:

* immobility in daylight due to air power
* catastrophic drop of fuel production (down to 10% by autumn ’44)
* lack of young, aggressive and optimistic infantrymen after five years of warfare
* inferior motorisation
* lack of air power support

They wouldn’t have attacked through easily defensible wooded areas in late ’44 if density was the key problem, for you only need high density on few points to defend such terrain.

Today’s tooth:tail ratio and dependency on major weapon systems (as opposed to masses of infantrymen) makes it even easier to achieve breakthrough/to shatter a formation than in WW2.
A modern brigade that lost a mere hundred men and a couple dozen tanks would be forced to retreat and could be dissolved in a skilled pursuit because its few fully combat capable elements could not hope to provide adequate security to the many soft components any more.
There’s no need to grind away a major portion of such a formation with firepower – not at all.

Jed
Jed
September 3, 2011 4:33 pm

Mortars – OK final comment for this morning I think.

In response to comments above I think mortars have their nice as the “infantry’s artillery” and nominally should not be an RA tool – but there might be exceptions.

I have pontificated on 120mm smooth bore breach loading mortars before, and seeking TD’s nirvana of commonality I would thus seek to make 120mm the standard calibre BUT as we have shed loads of very good 81mm mortars already, we should take the golf bag approach.

I would like Armoured Infantry to benefit from a turreted 120mm mortar on Warrior. I would like my Mechanised Infantry on Warthog with STK’s own 120mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System (SRAMS), and I am sure my Motorised Infantry on RG35 could have a vehicle mounting the same system. Light units (RM and Para-Commando/Para-Rangers), TA infantry and AI or MI used “out of role” for whatever reason could drop down to the 81mm (or Soltam K6 / M120).

Extending this principle, why couldn’t the teams of the Mortar Coy, all leave their heavyweights at home and deploy with the 60mm Mortar if required ? Giving some “right tool for the right job” flexibility. By the way it appears that standard protocol at the moment is 6 mortars per infantry battalion with 3 more added by TA in “time of war” (?) – perhaps FF2020 will bring this upto the full 9 as ‘standard’ peace time establishment ? – Well lets go further and make it 12 !!

So when might the RA get involved with mortars? Well for 7RHA and 29 Cdo Rgt.

I have said before I see 16 AAB as a cold war anachronism and would get rid of it. I would also disband the “Special Forces Support Group” as it exists now, and have the 3 Parachute Regiment Battalions as the “Army Special Operations Forces” – Para Commandos / Para Rangers, whatever you want to call them – but taking on the SFSG role, and the limited special ops airborne intervention role (i.e. battalion battle group sized, not Brigade sized) – in which case 7 RHA might provide additional 120mm mortars (M120’s Supacat / Rouche “prime movers”??) and air defence (Starstreak / LMM) teams and forward observer teams.

29 Cdo Regt. might be similarly equipped, or even better have BVS MKII with STK SRAMS – although much shorter ranged than gun artillery, in a protected amphibious vehicle this might provide better manouvre support capabilities for “commando” gunners – if the beach head is big enough surely any old bog standard RA regiment could be heli-lifted in with M777 towed, a wheeled 155mm as discussed in comments above, etc. – they would not need to be ‘Commando’ qualified for such a role.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 4:48 pm

Hi Jed, thanks for a great summary!

Before I start, I need to ask why you put Archer in Cat2, below the top? Just because of its protection levels?
– 2-man crew, on wheels (as I think we would like, as for the direction of travel, gun that hasn’t been bettered (?), etc

“The New Denel T7 105/58 gets a mention, apparently the turrets has been trialed on a GD-Canada LAV III chassis.”
– a firm order has been placed for NEMO mortar turrets on the same, does that kill the 105?

“Anyway – as SDSR (realistically funded or not) continues to place the emphasis on expeditionary warfare, IF we had the money to supplement the big and heavy AS90 what would be best ?” … c’ed

“Sup[a]cat LIMAWS(G) and CEASAR seem to be the lightest weight and most “deployable” systems, but the Archer seems to be in the suite spot to me: In context I would get rid of the good old 105mm LG, because 120mm mortars are even more mobile”
– Spot on!

“with a 155(39, 45, or 52 calibre – I dont care) for heavier medium range fires, and GMLRS for the longer range.”
– I agree

So it would be good if an LIMAWS(M) single rocket pack could go on the same chassis as the 155mm [YES, it can]
– it is not “single” but a six pack[OK, now I notice you said “pack”], one of the two that go on the heavier carrier (that can take one ATACMS in the other “place holder”)
– yes, indeed it can, the (m) and the (g) were denoting that, the same (crew cab protected) chassis was proposed
… here I become confused (this is by design , as BAE is conflicted, just like in naval guns: they make all the USN and therefore an ever increasing number of other navies’ guns, now that we have lost the 155 alternative)
1. Archer vs. Portee 777
2. Portee GMLRS(light) and the gun on the same chassis (that part not from BAE)
=> what’s the difference between the 777 and the Bofors (leaving the carrier aside)?

BAE is the dominant bidder for all alternatives (in guns), land or sea; where can we get the objective information from??

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 4:51 pm

“Now if you allow the enemy to become prepared for your assault (or even only its late stage) AND choose to attack at a place where there’s one of the stubborn formations, then you’re most likely incompetent as operational commander.”

Sometimes there are only so many ways to skin a cat.

The enemy can anticipate objectives, routes of advance, forming up points and jump off points. It is not incompetence, it is a fact of war when you fight other human beings led by other human beings. They can anticipate your likely movements and plan for it. In most scenario’s in Italy or NW Europe there were only so many rational and likely objectives, only so many possible routes of advance and only so many possible objectives. Throw in a broadly competent and pro-active Army and you have a recipe for a very tough fight indeed.

“Another point is that even though breakthrough battles often caused great losses (example Amiens 1940) to the defender, these losses did mostly not occur before breakthrough was ensured. Pursuit and mopping up actions usually account for a great share of the casualties (especially POWs).”

German divisions suffered grievous losses before Cobra. I’ll grant that overall the casualties were far higher in the Falaise “pocket” but that does not make the horrendous losses of the months before vanish. The German Army in Normandy was worn right down. You only have to look at divisional strength returns to see that some divisions were not even at battle-group strength by the end of the campaign in NW France. They were utterly destroyed and this destruction was the necessary toll to be paid to gain passage into the German rear.

Again you ignore my Pacific Theatre points.

“The Amiens example shows that breakthrough can actually be achieved by simply pushing forward through a strongpoint defence.”

The Germans did the same in 1944. But then they hit depth. And in isolated areas could not reduce American forces. They lacked the power to do so.

“They wouldn’t have attacked through easily defensible wooded areas in late ’44 if density was the key problem, for you only need high density on few points to defend such terrain.”

American forces were at their weakest at this point and the wooded areas offered concealment of the build up – it was also far less likely to see an American spoiling attack. Attacking through there was a logical step.

Once again the Germans attempted to bring strategic strength against strategic weakness, except this time the lack of strategic strength was only an illusion as the allies possessed reserves to re-build the defensive line in their once rear and stop the Germans.

“A modern brigade that lost a mere hundred men and a couple dozen tanks would be forced to retreat and could be dissolved in a skilled pursuit because its few fully combat capable elements could not hope to provide adequate security to the many soft components any more. ”

Maybe at NTC mate.

Jed
Jed
September 3, 2011 4:53 pm

ACC

ref: ““The New Denel T7 105/58 gets a mention, apparently the turrets has been trialed on a GD-Canada LAV III chassis.”
– a firm order has been placed for NEMO mortar turrets on the same, does that kill the 105?”

The SA gun turret was being “tested” on a General Dynamics-Canada LAV III – GD-Canada is the name of the company, it was NOT being tested on a Canadian Army LAV, and I am pretty sure it was not offered to the Canadian Army in the competition that has resulted in a NEMO purchase – so I don’t think the two things are related or the NEMO purchase will impact on further testing.

DominicJ
DominicJ
September 3, 2011 5:13 pm

Phil
“Tell me how you envisage your swift breakthrough occurring.”
100ish MBTs and IFVs attacking a weakpoint in the enemy line over a narrow frontage, say, 250m, hell, attack a strong point, *IF* the enemy even has weapons capable of stopping our MBTs, they wont have them in quantity enough to stop such an attack.
Break through, annihilate rear area supplies, and if the enemy lines still havent crumled, break through at another point and regroup.
I’m unsure of the utility of “softening up” the point with an artillery bombardment, but am happy to admit a “pulsed” air raid would precede it by a short window.

ChrisB
Do we need to “soften up” the enemy?
Which enemy?

Phil Again
“Yes that is what I mean. Clean breakthroughs just do not happen in dense battle spaces. You have to claw your way through.”
But when will be facing a dense enemy force?

He who defends everything defends nothing.
Yes, The enemy probably could mass in its capital and turn our penetrating attack against them into a blood bath.
But to do that, they have to abandon the rest of the country to us.

If the purpose of military action is to create political pressure….

Phil
Operation watch was a counter attack, by a clearly insane german high command, against a vastly superior enemy.
I dont see the applicability.

SO
I just use “front line” as a convenient term.
Equaly applicable against a detachment in a none city scape.
Lack o9f front line of course opens up the fun of surrounding and attacking agressivly and noisely with armour on three sides.

Maybe I am wrong.
But I cant imagine an infantry Battlegroup, entrenched on a shallow hill, surving a thrust launched from three sides by 100+ MBTs, IFVs and CVR(T)s, even if they were armed to the teeth with world class ATGMs, but isnt likely that the enemy we fight will actualy have Carl Gustavs and 66mm rockets?

Phil
Oh absolutly, if you can go 10 miles deep with dug in trenches, artilery posts, anti tank weapons, ramming tanks down the enemy throat is insanity, although Kursk almost broke through. but in what war is that realistic for the future?

I’ll catch up with rest later

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 5:26 pm

Phil, your “Pacific Theatre” examples are only one – New Guinea. All else was no breakthrough or had several clean breakthroughs.
To advance along that highlands trail in New Guinea was stupid, and even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t prove your point at all.
The other significant Pacific Theatre example was Malaya, and that was a great example about how forces can be thoroughly devastated and defeated without inflicting many KIA/WIA.

Moreover, you made shifting point that either no or almost no examples of good breakthroughs exist – so the evidence you need is to deconstruct my examples, not providing more examples of inept offensive actions.

You’re obviously oblivious to several tactics and are willfully ignoring the effect of the strategic environment on the late WW2 battles.
I doubt that discussing with you makes much sense. You should read a bit more on military history that does not involve Western Allies.

About NTC; the combat power of an entire brigade rests almost exclusively in a bit over 100 weapon systems. This quantity is given normal readiness (~90%) barely enough to provide security and focus power for offensive action at once. A few dozen major combat system losses later the same brigade is too depleted to combine both and has thus lost its ability to contribute much on the battlefield at acceptable risk. It has to be withdrawn and refreshed (or joined with another depleted formation).
Exercise stuff looks very different than this.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2011 5:32 pm

Hi S O,

Thanks for the first one:
“The German army didn’t do major breakthroughs in late WW2 against Western Allies for very different reasons than asserted here:

* immobility in daylight due to air power
* catastrophic drop of fuel production (down to 10% by autumn ’44)”

… and your excellent piece on Fall Blau is missing the second one, as one of the far reaching consequencies of that failure

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 5:43 pm

“All else was no breakthrough or had several clean breakthroughs.”

You tell me that clean breakthroughs can be had. Yet I give you examples such as the islands and atolls in the Pacific War where no breakthrough was possible and you seem to think my examples are irrelevant? There is every possibility in the future of encountering a small dense battle-space on an island and once again there will be no prospect of a breakthrough. So I don’t see how you are proposing to win such engagements?

“You’re obviously oblivious to several tactics and are willfully ignoring the effect of the strategic environment on the late WW2 battles.”

On the contrary, I am most aware of the strategic environment of late WW2 battles. The reality was thus, the allies had mass and density and the Germans could only match that locally. They did not possess the power to smash through and defeat the allies because they did not have the force to attrit the allies. Manoeuvre failed when it came up against density. Yes there were other factors at play but plenty of other German attacks failed throughout WWII when they met allied forces who were in continuous dense concentrations with strong reserves even when the Germans operated with local air superiority and none of the constraints imposed on them by the allies in 1944.

“You should read a bit more on military history that does not involve Western Allies.”

Wonderfully patronising I’m honoured, coming from someone that for several posts ignored my attempts to move the argument on to examples in the Pacific.

I am simply using the example of NW Europe because it is central to my argument that an attacker must earn his breakthrough when the battle-space is dense enough and when it is a continuous front. I do not deny that as war is a human endeavour there are not exceptions, but overall, time and time again in a dense battlefield the allies had to fight for every inch. Whenever that was reversed, even in 1940, the Germans met the same difficulties.

In the East, with the far greater force to space ratio’s nothing like that density could be achieved along the whole front so manoeuvre warfare was the inescapable modus operandi. Where on the Eastern Front force densities rose, attritional warfare to breakthrough then occurred, just as allied manoeuvre warfare broke on the concentrations of German forces in the autumn of 1944.

Of course there are a great many other factors at play in warfare, I do not argue that force density is the sole arbiter, but it is a very large factor.

You look at theatres that had large densities (NE Europe, Pacific islands) and compare them to theatres with low densities (Eastern Front, North Africa) and you can see the overall pattern of attritional warfare vs much more manoeuvre based warfare correlates strongly.

“About NTC”

NTC exists to exercise troops. I’m not interested in how exercises there pan out.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 6:00 pm

“100ish MBTs and IFVs attacking a weakpoint in the enemy line over a narrow frontage, say, 250m, hell, attack a strong point, *IF* the enemy even has weapons capable of stopping our MBTs, they wont have them in quantity enough to stop such an attack.
Break through, annihilate rear area supplies, and if the enemy lines still havent crumled, break through at another point and regroup.
I’m unsure of the utility of “softening up” the point with an artillery bombardment, but am happy to admit a “pulsed” air raid would precede it by a short window.”

All is well and good in theory, but a competent enemy will inflict massive losses on you as you advance through their defensive positions and have a reserve ready to counter attack your now weakened forces. It is not quite as simple as you make out. Fire-power is central to breaking through the enemy lines, weak or not and artillery is incredibly potent and able at applying massive amounts of fire-power concentrated in time and space over large areas. I don’t see how you think there is no utility in that capability?

“But when will be facing a dense enemy force?”

In a restricted battle-space. An example would be Goose Green. A future scenario might be having to seize an objective on an island, or peninsular or a pass in the mountains like in Kosovo. The overall enemy force does not need to be large, there are occasion when he can concentrate his forces into obvious and key spaces that then must be contested. If mountain pass A is a couple of hundred metres wide and a battalion is holding it, you have a localised dense battle-space and you will need to defeat that enemy in detail (you cannot assume that they are of poor calibre and will break). To do that you need to apply large amounts of fire-power and indeed artillery, as said, does that in spades.

“If the purpose of military action is to create political pressure”

That works in reverse too. Hold a choke-point or key piece of terrain (an airfield to fly in humanitarian supplies, a crossroads town), inflict massive casualties and hope the enemy thinks sod this for a game of soldiers.

“Operation watch was a counter attack, by a clearly insane german high command, against a vastly superior enemy.
I dont see the applicability.”

See below, I use it as a tool to show that you cannot consider parts of a theatre or battle in isolation, although the Germans concentrated initial strength against weakness that initial success could not be isolated from the context of the theatre as a whole which was a context of depth and density – which the Germans eventually ran into and which helped defeat them along with the other factors that SO points out.

“For an example of what happens when a powerful army strikes a front line which is not dense in itself but the operational area possesses depth you can look at Operation Watch on the Rhine.”

“But I cant imagine an infantry Battlegroup, entrenched on a shallow hill, surving a thrust launched from three sides by 100+ MBTs, IFVs and CVR(T)s, even if they were armed to the teeth with world class ATGMs, but isnt likely that the enemy we fight will actualy have Carl Gustavs and 66mm rockets?”

They probably wouldn’t, but that battle-group is not going to be an isolated force, it is going to be fighting in the context of the operational area which although that battalion does not survive, the operational area possesses sufficient depth and density to grind that advance down.

So, to go back to your original point – artillery applies massive and monstrous amounts of firepower concentrated in time and space over wide areas and thus adds considerably to an armies offensive and defensive power – it has every utility on the battlefield from suppressing the enemy, to disrupting his rear, to smoke screening to just dumping tons of HE onto his positions to help destroy coherence, damage defensive positions and give some morale to the attacker. I don’t see your wisdom in loosing all that capability or why you think loosing that capability would be a desirable thing.

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 6:05 pm

Dude, Island fights are no breakthrough battles. They’re self-fulfilling arguments for you because their whole purpose was not to break through, but to annihilate. Utterly irrelevant for breakthrough discussions.

On strategic environment: Your inability to grasp the morale-related things in warfare is astonishing.
The Germans of ’44-’45 failed in offensive actions of grand scales because they had not the right manpower for it. They had spent it in five years of warfare. Depth or not – the German army of 44-45 was about to be mopped up because it was spent and the ineptitude of its opponents stretched that process to a year.
You cannot execute a competent attack without the right men.

Besides; you still don’t grasp that it’s up to you to disprove my arguments, not to add examples of your own. You claimed there are no or almost no requite clean breakthroughs possible. The existence of repeated clean and quick breakthroughs in the relevant time frame of military history disproves your point. You gotta disqualify said examples, not pile on more irrelevant anecdotes.

Great firepower is not a necessity for breakthrough. It’s the brute force approach for forces that lack a more versatile repertoire.
Competent forces have several approaches for every problem on hand.

Besides; the Red Army had about 2,000-3,000 men for defensive purposes per front kilometre during WW2. That is NOT low density. This equals more than Western-style division for what was considered appropriate defensive width for a Western-style division. You don’t seem to understand the size of the Red Army of 1941-1945.

About NTC: Major text understanding flaw and fixation on your part. I DO NOT TALK ABOUT NTC. I do so only in your fantasy.

trt
trt
September 3, 2011 6:06 pm

manouvere is not quite so simple to block.
What would german trenches have achieved if fishers assault had been implemented.

Phil
Phil
September 3, 2011 6:25 pm

“Utterly irrelevant for breakthrough discussions.”

Not at all, a breakthrough into the rear of some of those operations would have done a lot to disrupt and help defeat the enemy in detail. When your defences are pointing one way, it’s not so great when you’re getting attacked from the other. A continuing frustration of the island campaigns was that there was nowhere to go but forwards. The enemy held a dense battle-space that denied all attempts at turning it and the result was simple slugging it out. Plenty of other battles of annihilation in other theatres too.

“Your inability to grasp the morale-related things in warfare is astonishing.”

Tell me why?

“Depth or not – the German army of 44-45 was about to be mopped up because it was spent and the ineptitude of its opponents stretched that process to a year.”

This is the same army that fought violently to the death on the Eastern Front. If you think the Battle of Berlin was a mopping up operation I’d love to think what you think a proper battle looks like. You’ll note that as the Soviets got closer and closer to Germany, as their attack options became more predictable, as the front shortened their speeds of advance slowed considerably despite the German army getting nothing but weaker.

“Besides; you still don’t grasp that it’s up to you to disprove my arguments, not to add examples of your own.”

Oh I see. Is that the etiquette.

You gave me Sedan I pointed out that 2/3rds of the attacking force was stopped dead by weak French defences and then the spearhead was subjected to continuous assault. Some “clean” breakthrough. Certainly there was a breakthrough, into a wide open French rear. Seeing as I have addressed that point perhaps you could regale me of the great breakthrough’s the Germans gained against the French 7th and 1st Armies and the BEF in and around Belgium during the initial stages of the invasion?

“Great firepower is not a necessity for breakthrough. It’s the brute force approach for forces that lack a more versatile repertoire.”

Firepower not necessity? Do you read your own Army’s manuals? So armies should instead mince through enemy lines in a refined manner? Dude, like, whatever. Battles are won by the application of force and mass. Infiltration etc is merely another means of applying that force and mass from other directions against the grain of the enemies dispositions. It does not delete the necessity to continue fighting if the enemy is in depth.

“the Red Army had about 2,000-3,000 men for defensive purposes per front kilometre during WW2. That is NOT low density.”

In a straight line, all lined up then I am sure you are right. But lets play your game. Normandy, around 25 July, an allied strength of approx 1.4 million soldiers, across a front approx 110Km long = 12,727 soldiers per km. That’s dense.

“I do so only in your fantasy.”

Disturbing.

paul g
September 3, 2011 7:05 pm

eh up! i was just having a nosey at the denel site as it was mentioned above (i think the denel NTW20 20mm sniper rifle is in fact sexual chocolate). When i stumbled across this little snippet of info, did anyone know of it’s existance, and with the hulls that will be going spare soon should it be resurrected?
It’s a 105mm turret on a warrior by the way!!
http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product925.html

paul g
September 3, 2011 7:14 pm

actually have a look at all the stuff on that page (calibres and turrets list down the left)
http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product925.html

S O
S O
September 3, 2011 7:14 pm

“You gave me Sedan I pointed out that 2/3rds of the attacking force was stopped dead by weak French defences and then the spearhead was subjected to continuous assault. Some “clean” breakthrough.”

Well, I can’t help it if you insist on inventing your own version of history.

a) The defending forces were not “weak”.

b) All three attacking divisions (actually merely elements of the same) crossed the river on the first day and the penetration was 10 km deep, though the 2nd of 3 defensive lines by dawn.

c) Very little artillery fire support was available, and the spectacular air support had primarily a morale (not an attrition – not a single bunker was destroyed) effect.

d) Direct fire was the main driver of busting defensive positions, not indirect fire. Ammunition consumption was thus moderate.

“In a straight line, all lined up then I am sure you are right. But lets play your game. Normandy, around 25 July, an allied strength of approx 1.4 million soldiers, across a front approx 110Km long = 12,727 soldiers per km. That’s dense.”

Thanks for the evidence that you don’t think clearly.
Remember? We were talking about defender’s density of forces, not attacker’s density of forces.
A single German 4th rate division’s equivalent faced the invasion on day one – on a 80 km wide sector. The attackers were still too incompetent to gain much ground, in part because they lacked the unit level ambition and attitude for a quick push forward.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings

“Battles are won by the application of force and mass.”
At times, yes. Though an empirical study on military history did not find a correlation between numerical superiority and winning battles.
The key here is a different one: You do not need to destroy mass or the enemy’s ability to apply force to win a battle or achieve a breakthrough or to shatter an opposing formation.
All you need to do is to make the enemy yield or simply move through him. Massive firepower is but one way to do this (the one that requires the least skill or imagination). There are others.

RLC
RLC
September 3, 2011 7:42 pm

& SO.
Can we please leave WW2 alone. its 60 years out of date.

@ everyone else: ”enemy” for the western world is Russia and China, Russia because of nuclear weapons. China because of military build-up.

Arty is very nice so keep, but reduce RA numbers. in my uneducated opinion mobile and small/light is best with a few 155 as RAF does have ground attack abilities, even if they are near useless and hate it.

RLC
RLC
September 3, 2011 7:51 pm

PS: UK main enemy at the moment is none other then Argentina as they still claim Falklands and are having an arms build up last i looked.

Hopefully now with the armed forces reduced to such a sorry state we can miss all stupid wars like ”The Stan” and Libya etc, and concentrate on holding falklands.