Agile Warrior 2012

As a follow up to the earlier post on Agile Warrior and the Future of the British Army and because it is obviously timely, this is an interesting document about the findings of Agile Warrior 2012.

Some interesting stuff

The headline themes were;

  • Operation in an urban environment
  • Cyber operations
  • Command, control and information
  • Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance
  • Urgent Operational Requirements into Core
  • UK Resilience
  • Deterrence and Capacity Building
  • Professional Development

If were were looking at themes for future organisational, doctrinal and equipment approaches these are the obvious start point.

Do take the time to read it if you can, it is a very interesting document and perhaps the most interesting part is not what is in it but that it exists in the public domain at all.

It is extremely encouraging that this kind of open thinking exists and one in the eye for those thinking the Army is staffed by chinless wonders with no thought for innovation.

The problem of course, is translating thought into action, something not wholly in the gift of those doing the thinking.

To those dark and light blue I would enquire if there exists something similar, where the answer isn’t more frigates and fast jets?

Does innovative thinking exist outside the Army

 

 

 

 

Quick test, Page 5, what kind of bridge is that?

 

 

 

 

 

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x
x
July 12, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: Innovation

This is the same Army that is selling a warmed over armoured division as the future, when everybody else is mothballing tanks, going light, and building amphibs? Um. If you think that is innovative good for you.

Phil
July 12, 2012 10:33 pm

X

You didn’t even read it.

TD there is also another document that might go well here, Future Land Operating Concept that was released just before Army 2020 and with hindsight shows exactly what was coming.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 12, 2012 10:51 pm

Didn’t understand much of it (i.e. what was being conveyed,or attempted, the words in isolation all stand for something)
– this, or both of them really “• A One-Star proponent (Capability Director Information)
will reinforce the professionalisation of ISTAR as a
discipline and bring coherence to its delivery.
• Consideration should be given to introducing a tactical
intelligence career stream for infantry and armoured
regiments” must be a good thing, though

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 12, 2012 11:04 pm

“… when everybody else is mothballing tanks, going light, and building amphibs?”

Who is this everybody else? Holland?

jed
jed
July 13, 2012 1:18 am

Oh oh, I did suggest months back when we were doing SDSR that a 1 star “Joint Information Operations Command” should run Info Ops, ISTAR, and cyber, while this doc does not go quite that far , its on the same lines :-)

TD – good find, but if you have to make snide remarks about innovation meaning we don’t need as many ships or jets, your just channelling your inner Gordon Brown !

You even asked yourself if FF2020 had gone far enough on a different thread (an opportunity to getvrid of regiments for a’corps’of’infantry ???)

Personally I think FF2020 seems fine for what it is, a treasury led, wholey budget focussed attempt to cut more money from defence – which means largely basing it capabilities on kit we already own, Warrior and Challenger etc, that part is hardly innovative really is it ? Plus much of it could just be lip service, for instance the comment about better integrating “soft effects” – well as an ex Psyops I can tell you that despite great success in the Balkans, we have been trying to educate those who can’t see past “kinetic targetting” for the last 12 years !!!

So reading stuff like this is heartening, but will it be realised in doctrine and executed in practice ?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 5:44 am

Hi Jed,

If you mean Carter review by ” FF2020 seems fine for what it is, a treasury led, wholey budget focussed attempt to cut more money from defence” I think it is worthwhile to differentiate between
– SDSR that cut the money, and
– Carter Review that made sense of what FF2020 on Army’s part should be within that cost envelope… by the looks of it, they’ve done a professional job (that includes using existing kit in units where it is fit for purpose)

The element that was advertised at the time of launching the review, increased investment in tactical networking, as being focussed on, but I still haven’t seen real content (investment decisions); only high level formulations that remain… well, an intent

IXION
July 13, 2012 8:23 am

TD

We have a long and proud history of what I will call for want of a better term, our ‘junior senior’ officers up to brigadier, being innovative and original. Unfortunately It has also finished or damaged careers Hobart being a shining example.

Examples include the yeomanry / TA units in the early 1900’s that experimented with steam and petrol transport way before the Army proper got in on the idea.

The invention of the tank.

The famous ‘Mobile force’ experiments in the 20’s. Army officers even invented the filofax in the Boer war!

Unfortunately, we have an equally long tradition of Snr officers and politico’s killing it off because of hide bound thinking. Still arguing in the 20’s that there was still a place on the battlefield for

‘The well breed horse’ ( I love that ‘Well breed’ bit)

So TD Yep 3 cheers for our innovative thinkers. But I aint holding my breath.

BTW Good point about the dark and light blue ends of our defence spectrum.

Phil
July 13, 2012 9:19 am

To be fair what they were faced with was a machine that was no faster than a horse, broke down more than a horse was sick, had less cross country ability than a horse, required as much or more tonnage to run it, had to be produced on mobilisation rather than large number of horses being almost instantly bought into the service and was far more dangerous to it operator than a horse.

The technology was simply not mature enough in the 1900s. The fact the Army even experimented with it is remarkable.

IXION
July 13, 2012 12:49 pm

Phil

OK petrol vehicles pre 1912 insufficiently robust and v poor cross country. I had in mind the mature steam traction technology, a number of ‘Steam wagons’ were used, (think traction engine with a flat bed at the back like a giant pick up truck); to carry the marching packs platoon of soldiers with extra ammo water etc- a bit like the the old Dodge weapons carrier, in WW2. A number of TA units mobilised with these in WW1. To the consternation of the regular army who were not happy with the idea at all.

AS for broke down more than a horse- horses are very intolerant of difficult conditions/ lack of food/water. The Mass use of horses for transport gun traction etc was a huge logistical burden in it’s own right. After all there were a lot more blacksmith farriers around in dobbins hay day (Pun intended) than garages in the 40’s onwards hay day of the internal combustion engine.

However credit where it is due the British army ditched horses earlier than pretty much everyone else, and was (I Think), the only army that entered ww2 as an almost totally motorised force.

Lewis
Lewis
July 13, 2012 1:03 pm

Going even further OT but this is an interesting article about the 1908 War Office Trials, which saw the use of London Buses to transport soldiers to counter an imaginary invasion.

http://www.londonreconnections.com/2012/london-buses-and-the-battle-for-shoeburyness/

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 13, 2012 1:33 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 13, 2012 1:40 pm
IXION
July 13, 2012 2:16 pm

Swimming Trunks

I did say for mass transport. Whilst I have the temerity to cross swords with Patton about the real uses of Cavalry in North Africa, It is certainly true that,

In certain terrains and environments. (Close jungle and difficult mountains) Rhodesian selous Scouts used them in the bush, as (I THINK) did South Africa – certainly ave seen pictures of SAMIL horse boxes.
Against certain enemies
Certain small units would find the horse a better way of getting around the battlefield than anything else. But small groups of ‘special forces’ are not mass transport.

The article on Herr is truly fascinating. Perhaps our ‘Golf Bag’ should include a ‘nose bag’.

Phil
July 13, 2012 2:25 pm

Yes using horses was a logistical burden but then so was steam and motor transport. And still is.

The thing with steam is, did it offer any advantages? I’d argue it offered none hence the lack of enthusiasm until technology matured.

Armies then were restricted to 22 odd miles a day marching speed. Cavalry were good only for tactical exploitation and would walk alongside their mounts when in the advance. The steam engines couldn’t improve that overall rate of advance so what was the point? This was one of the reasons behind the stalemate, the strategic mobility of the railways always over matched the strategic mobility of the advancing Army. Cavalry could only exploit on a tactical or operational level and steam and petrol technology was simply not mature enough to improve matters and hence were not worth the effort. Even the later WWI tanks didn’t solve the problem of limited strategic mobility but they did offer some increase in tactical effectiveness. Arguably if Germany has still have had reserved of manpower they’d have made little difference to the strategic level of operations.

So I think the Army was right, at the time things were just not quite there and as you have pointed out we were quite keen once complete motorisation became practical and finally strategic mobility caught up with railways.

IXION
July 13, 2012 3:36 pm

Phil

Steam and later in WW1 even motor transport offered something that Horses could not touch and that was the weights that could be toted on half reasonable roads.

All mobility relies on rail or roads at the end of the day. Once you get past about 6 horses it gets very difficult to use them to pull anything transport wise. A decent size traction engine can pull twice that all day and never tire. it was the innovative use that some of the more ‘independent’ yeomanry and ta regiments made of steam transport for their kit pre ww1 that was very forward thinking. As for the 22 miles a day yes sure but how would the PBI feel marching 22 hours a day with full pack, or with knapsack, and steam lorry carrying the full pack- I know which unit I would rather be in!

However throughout WW1 Motorised transport increased ratio wise to horses as it’s advantages became more obvious/ technology improved.

Whatever the problems a significant chunk of the armies upper ranks were appalled by ww1; and were openly of the opinion that it was back to business as usual horses and all afterwards.

Interesting though all this is, the army has been forward thinking, in some areas in the past, is now and will be in the future.

But just as often young officers have done the thinking other armies put it into practice. We taught the Japs directly about carrier aviation; and (though Liddle-Hart was telling porkies, Hobart’s mobile force was very much studied by Germany), indirectly the Germans about tanks!

IXION
July 13, 2012 3:40 pm

Phil

can I just say bang on about the ‘major advance’ bit. I was not until some commanders started to realise that beating the Germans required the steady pressure, of a series of limited objective offences, and stopped trying for the ‘big push’ That we truly started winning the war.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 3:40 pm

“Cavalry were good only for tactical exploitation and would walk alongside their mounts when in the advance”

— You ought to have a read of Rommels “Infantry Attacks” (I seem to be perpetually recommending that book to everyone I meet). He did some good trade in the Eastern campaign accompanied by his Sergeant while on horse back. Mostly just scouting with the odd occassion of having ridden up to an enemy unit marching on a road and explained that they were now prisoners of Germany and would they kindly mind going with his sergeant back west to become prisoners, though how much of all of it was actually true only he and they will know.

I think he found more use for his horse, as did many back then, for communications. When telegraphs were down, nothing could match the speed of a horse for delivering messages, or for helping a commander to pick his way quickly through cross country terrain to reach a senior officer further back to deliver his report.

In the early stages, and on the more fluid Eastern front, cavalry scouts proved most useful at times to all parties, being the fastest method of travel for scouts at the time.

Jed
Jed
July 13, 2012 3:52 pm

Seriously – how the hell do we turn comments about “innovation” into a history of the use of horses in modern warfare ????

x
x
July 13, 2012 3:58 pm

@ Jed

Because we are bright free thinkers. Even Phil and at times TD. :)

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 13, 2012 4:02 pm

@ Jed – Sorry! That would br my fault…. O:-)

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 4:22 pm

Many innovations stem from studying the past. Look at the resurgence of the Sterling engine.

Also, it’s just fun.

Dunservin
Dunservin
July 13, 2012 5:10 pm

@TD

“Do take the time to read it if you can, it is a very interesting document and perhaps the most interesting part is not what is in it but that it exists in the public domain at all.

…To those dark and light blue I would enquire if there exists something similar, where the answer isn’t more frigates and fast jets?

Does innovative thinking exist outside the Army?”

– Your typically pernicious questions are probably in the way of a bite but do you few favours. The constant bias and opinionated ignorance pervading TD from the top make it increasingly difficult for the specialist professional to take it seriously or be encouraged to engage. As someone remarked recently, anyone who promotes a robust maritime viewpoint is not only accused of belittling the other services but also risks being smeared by association with the PTT, Sharkey Ward, etc. Witness the sneering vitriol I attracted by daring to highlight some of the unique ‘soft power’ properties warships and their ships’ companies are delivering around the world in support of defence diplomacy. It seems okay on TD to promote the capabilities and achievements of any service so long as it’s not the RN… particularly the FAA.

– However, to help answer your questions, much of the business of MWC (Maritime Warfare Centre – http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Naval-Command-Headquarters/Maritime-Warfare-Centre) involves “doing more with what we have” by applying OA (Operational Analysis) and TD (Tactical Development) to improve OC (Operational Capability) and OE (Operational Effectiveness). MWC’s uniformed and civilian personnel (including loggies and pointy-headed boffins) span all disciplines and have an enviable reputation for lateral thinking, often in collaboration with their counterparts at AWC (Air Warfare Centre – http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafwaddington/aboutus/airwarfarecentre.cfm) and HQ Land.

– MWC’s combination of innovative thinking, rigorous research and data captured during operations, exercises and trials, are also used to inform and support KURs for new kit and UORs. Beside developing and teaching joint and maritime doctrine to a wide-ranging audience at home and abroad, it also provides a service to HQs and units in the field.

“…perhaps the most interesting part is not what is in it but that it exists in the public domain at all. It is extremely encouraging that this kind of open thinking exists and one in the eye for those thinking the Army is staffed by chinless wonders with no thought for innovation…”

– After so much investment in exploiting knowledge and formulating innovative, often sneaky ways and means of countering the enemy, is it any surprise that few if any MWC outputs are published in the public domain? RN publications similar to the BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) at the top of this blog have been freely available for years.

– P.S. I believe it’s a metal bridge on p.5 but readily confess to knowing as little about Army hardware as most pongos know about Royal Navy ships and systems. Is there a prize? ;-)

x
x
July 13, 2012 5:20 pm

@ Chris B re Stirling Engine

Ooh! That’s a lot of hot air that is…..

Phil
July 13, 2012 5:20 pm

My fault, I am terrible for latching onto a throaway comment and dragging it kicking and screaming into a full blown argument. I learned it from the Mrs…

Nick
Nick
July 13, 2012 5:48 pm

I have built the bridge on page 5 *. Good bit of kit but I think horses would find the ramps a bit steep.

The yanks bought it but can build it with level bridge end dug into the bank, which is slower, but much more equine (and afv) friendly.

I was told that the US Army had units for which building the bridge is their single role and skill.

I believe the RE Companies that converted to Squadrons at the turn of the 19th/20yh century to support cavalry formations were known as the Galloping Gas Fitters, sadly they did not survive, (unlike the Kings Troop RA). What was modern and innovative once, becomes out of date today, and new ideas are required. It is good to see innovation as long as it is not change for changes sake, so Bravo Agile Warrior.

* But one wonders at using a picture of a 1970’s bridge equipment, remember that, when it came out, BAOR RE units still had 38 Pattern webbing, why not use one of those photos?

IanB
IanB
July 13, 2012 5:57 pm

May i point out it was the Royal Navy aka RNAS who pioneered the true concept of armoured cars not just slapping boiler plate on a truck chassis, but the sabre squadron system we use today. 4 cars to a section, three sections to a squadron with motorcycles for scouting and the first mobile radio net with each section having a radio car backed up by a heavy section mounting 3 pounder guns for destroying other armoured vehicles and this was all done in 1914 while the army was still polishing horse brasses.

Phil
July 13, 2012 6:16 pm

“As for the 22 miles a day yes sure but how would the PBI feel marching 22 hours a day with full pack, or with knapsack, and steam lorry carrying the full pack- I know which unit I would rather be in!”

Same here, but they did, and sometimes more. Marching and stagging on for days and days and then not standing a chance when you did engage the enemy – the horror.

“Whatever the problems a significant chunk of the armies upper ranks were appalled by ww1; and were openly of the opinion that it was back to business as usual horses and all afterwards.”

I have no doubt they were but I wonder if their opinions would have been changed had the more motorised forces been able to finally outmanoeuvre rail delivered troops in a new campaign? I also wonder if the lack of radio’s would have still seen limited operational gains because units simply would not be able to mass for effect because no sod would know very well where someone was so you’d lose momentum trying to gather your widely dispersed units and be back to square one. And I wonder again if the motorised transport would have been as effective on the then existing roads behind the lines?

I genuinely think it was a case of almost, maybe, but the technology and attitudes just not quite being there yet and never quite getting the chance to prove itself before the war thankfully ended. Although, with a high enough density of troops the same story would have repeated itself over and over, it is only when the battlefield breaks down that these motorised forces would have come into their own, provided they could be co-ordinated.

The tragedy of WWI to my eyes is that it combined mass conscription and industrial mobilisation on a scale that could blanket a continent with troops, and a strategic mobility for the defender on internal lines with railways that existing technology simply could not defeat. It was the high point of the defence. With high force density and low strategic mobility for the attackers and high strategic mobility for the defenders there could only have been a long attritional war. Nobody could have changed it, no innovation would have revolutionised it, no set of different tactics or greater imagination, you simply had to hurl you men again and again at the enemy until she couldn’t fill her trenches with quality personnel anymore.

“In the early stages, and on the more fluid Eastern front, cavalry scouts proved most useful at times to all parties, being the fastest method of travel for scouts at the time.”

Oh yes quite agree, I was being a bit lazy there. Cavalry was certainly useful, and back when force density was such that you could break a nation on one field of battle in an afternoon then they were decisive, but against a defence in depth over thousands of square miles, well, the poor sods never stood a chance.

Mike
Mike
July 13, 2012 6:25 pm

Dunservin

Where’s the beef?

AWC and their fishy counterparts prefer things under-wraps.
I think the Army and wider UK services have been as creative and innovative as the next country, probs more so. With a proud history of such in all 3 HM services, mostly because it is forced to be so from political/economic/military dithering prior.

There has been blocks to innovative thinking though, costs, politics and also ‘the old club/old school snr staff’; remember the RN initially hated subs and stunted their development despite being the first to really explore their potential, letting germany forge ahead (probs holes in that statement, I know). Just one example, going away from horses :D

Problem is that most innovative thinkers are private sector/are difficult to retain.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 6:34 pm

@ Dunservin’

“The constant bias and opinionated ignorance pervading TD from the top make it increasingly difficult for the specialist professional to take it seriously or be encouraged to engage.”
— What bias mate?

Not only has TD done an entire “Future of” series for the Royal Navy but he also routinely posts links to positive news stories, press releases, videos and other articles written about the Royal Navy or produced by the Royal Navy, and has written a number of detailed posts covering areas such as Mine Counter measures, sea logistics, his SIMMS concept and others.

Just because he occassionally posts a negative review of the CVF program does not make him biased against the Navy. Unless you think his negative posts about the Air Tanker PFI make him anti-RAF and negative posts about FRES make him Anti-Army as well?

“As someone remarked recently, anyone who promotes a robust maritime viewpoint is not only accused of belittling the other services but also risks being smeared by association with the PTT, Sharkey Ward, etc,”
— That might have something to do with the fact that most people who suggest a “robust maritime viewpoint” usually start their arguments with “well, we don’t need the RAF for a start” and then end them with “we don’t need tanks and all that green stuff either, what we need is a division sized amphibious raiding force”.

Hence it’s rather difficult not to see that as belittling the other services and has a lot in common with the usual trash pushed by the PTT and Sharkey Ward, so the comparison comes easily I guess./

“Witness the sneering vitriol I attracted by daring to highlight some of the unique ‘soft power’ properties warships and their ships’ companies are delivering around the world in support of defence diplomacy. It seems okay on TD to promote the capabilities and achievements of any service so long as it’s not the RN… particularly the FAA.”
— The problem with the viewpoints I assume you’re referring to (I assume you put me in “sneering vitriol” category) and those that take a similar ilk are usually two fold;

1) They attach a wholly disproportinate value to the amount of influenced gained, often assuming that if you drop in to visit a SE Asian country with one warships every 12 months that said country will fall on its back and open its legs to the UK,

2) They are often written a sneering fashion, hence why they get sneering responses, such as when you sneeringly suggested that a regiment sat in England or a Squadron of Jets sat in Scotland could never hope to achieve the level of influence and engagement that a warship does, while blithely ignoring the fact that these units do not just sit about for 24 months at a time waiting for a call up.

I’d imagine TD would have no problem with views promoting the Royal Navy’s defence diplomacy work, and nor personally do I, but I personally do have a problem with people who seem to think that defence and defence diplomacy begins and ends with warships, contrary to the mountain of evidence that’s just sitting there waiting to be explored.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 13, 2012 6:57 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 13, 2012 8:05 pm

My last posting on horse cavalry – honest!

http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/cavalry/index.html

IXION
July 15, 2012 1:07 am

Can you ship horses in ISO containers?

Or get them to tow containers?

Phil

I think you are right re WW1 tactical/ strategic mobility, I do not think that trucks per se would have changed much IN WW1. It was the application armour and revised tactics that beat the germans.-

Although Germany was very tired from 1917 onwards they had no real answer to the Amiens onwards tactic, of the armoured supported limited objective offensives that drove them back pretty much to their borders.

Indeed what we did in 1918 we MAY have been able to do in 1916 starting at the Somme if we had embraced not just tanks but transport as well. but that is with the benefit of hindisght!

Dunnservin

It does not wash to say RN/RAF are doing all this kind of thing when everything they publish is of the ‘Ooo look at our big pointy shinythings’.

Dunservin
Dunservin
July 15, 2012 10:22 am

@TD

“Dunnservin – It does not wash to say RN/RAF are doing all this kind of thing when everything they publish is of the ‘Ooo look at our big pointy shinythings’.”

– Chicksands doesn’t have much of a public profile either but, having drawn your attention to the RN’s MWC and the RAF’s AWC, that’s PRECISELY what I mean by “opinionated ignorance”. ;-)

Mark
Mark
July 15, 2012 10:40 am

Looked thru the document page 6 near the bottom say army to re mechanise on tanks does it not. Sound very much to me like dispite the fine words the army’s future answer from equipment is tank guess you can try and take the tank out of the army but you can’t take the army out of the tank. So as for future equipment I don’t see any difference between the 3 services sorry.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 15, 2012 10:44 am

It is cruel to transport horses in containers. RAF Movers are OK, particularly if the container gets washed off the side of the ship in a gale. These things do happen.

Horses are just another form of transport, on the spectrum ranging from boots on your feet all the way up to big old Mastiffs, taking in motocross scrambler bikes, mountain bikes, skis, quad bikes and stripped down land rovers. They all need feeding with fodder or fuel, and some daily fettling.

One advantage of a horse is that you don’t have to drive it – it picks its’ own way, needing only a bit of direction via thigh pressure and if it is being obtuse, hauling it’s head around with the reins although that’s not something you’d do often, and some speed control via spurs or thighs. I’ve only ever done a horse recce once, and that was a bit contrived on an exercise on the Plain, using 4 of the Regimental polo ponies, but actually it worked pretty well. We were surprised. We didn’t test it with firing weapons though – that was a step too far.

IXION
July 15, 2012 12:30 pm

Dunservin

I suggets you look at the evidence the RAF gave to the select committee on Raf future, IT was All about how F**king wonderful the F35 was to the point of calling the Typhoon old hat.

As for the MWC, the last publication is saw was touting the t26 as all but the cure for cancer,and still pushing elephants as the be all and end all…

Please put link up to something on the ‘forward presence’ lines from them and I will be happy to retract.. I can’t spend all day cruising the net for every published paper.

Dunservin
Dunservin
July 15, 2012 12:48 pm

.B.

“…Just because he [TD] occassionally posts a negative review of the CVF program does not make him biased against the Navy. Unless you think his negative posts about the Air Tanker PFI make him anti-RAF and negative posts about FRES make him Anti-Army as well?”

– The difference is that even RAF and Army proponents have conceded that the rationale for Air Tanker PFI and the FRES project is indefensible.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 15, 2012 12:59 pm

@ Dunservin,

you appear to think that the CVF rationale is defensible. I’d be interested to hear your views. Nothing I have heard either internally to the MoD or externally in the last 15 years has convinced me that CVF was remotely defensible (and indeed, every military argument finds so, but politics trumps military argument), but I’ll remain always open-minded.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 15, 2012 10:48 pm

@ Dunservin,

“The difference is that even RAF and Army proponents have conceded that the rationale for Air Tanker PFI and the FRES project is indefensible,”

I’m not sure what you’re getting at? All that most people have conceded is that these projects were done the wrong way, by using PFI for example, not that Tankers or a scout vehicle are not needed.