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September 7, 2014 7:28 pm

I have one major concern.
In specifics that F = m*a
Quite how are they going to apply enough force to accelerate a large mass fast enough to dodge incoming projectiles, I don’t know.
Furthermore, in the vertically down direction a = g = 9.81m/s^2 and unless you are going to add upward-facing rockets, you can’t increase that.

The Other Chris
September 8, 2014 10:47 am

Very familiar:

September 8, 2014 2:38 pm

Look at the AFV exhibited at Eurosatory 2014 by the Israel Military Industries. It is fast with 54 inch tires and v-shaped underbelly and 70 cm ground clearance. It can travel on road at 150km/hr and off-road at 120k,/hr. It is armed with a RCWS with APS against RPGs and a remote machine gun. It can carry 8 infantry men and is protected against up to 14.5mm projectiles.
This is the wave of the future for fast cavalry penetrations and envelopment. If in such a tactical attack it will be accompanied by the 120mm reduced recoil mortar, mounted on a MUMMVV (also exhibited for the first time at Eurosatory) for close fire support.
I hope the IDF will have the vision and courage to quickly equip the Infantry Regiments with these systems. These Regiments already have the heavy IVF, the 65-ton Namer, which is great in attacking protected defense lines. But the quick exploiting of a breakthrough can only be accomplished with lighter and faster forces to keep the defense off balance.
I understand the price of the Combatguard is not prohibitive, as it uses a lot of commercial components.
Time will tell – but at this time there is nothing comparable – perhaps only Panhard CRAB

September 8, 2014 7:35 pm

I am curious as to which era you are looking at for your military vignettes. A thin defensive line and light cavalry breakthrough exploitation seems more in keeping with the 1910’s than the 2010’s. Defence in depth has been in favour for the past seventy years.

All these light and whizzy wonder vehicle seem to share a belief that the enemy will co-operate in the creation of their dream engagement. In reality Maxim 47 would apply and any halfway competent enemy will seek out the weaknesses. As presented, counters would seem to be tactics such as volley fire from multiple angles, finding the sweet spot between rate of fire and destructive capacity to overwhelm the active solution and the passive protection, using machine gun fire to damage lightly protected mechanism, using large emplaced charges to throw the little thing about. Something like the Starstreak HVM triple projectile would be particularly effective against trying to dodge.

September 9, 2014 4:40 am
Reply to  mr.fred

All I am advocating is that in the current conditions, built-up environment with defense tunnels and Kornet and mine defenses, to attack with tanks and Namers will entail casualties and slow advance, grinding down defenses. To change the stalemate you need agile movement and fire, with infantry toassist to seek out the week points and break through to the rear areas to destroy command centers and supply despots. Reaching and conquering Shifa Hospita with the command bunker underneath and killing the political and military command will considerably shorten the war.
These are time tested principles ever since the mongols, through Guderian in Belgium and France and Patton later. To execute such fire/maneuver you need a light/fast fighting vehicle (like the Panzer I and II and wheeled troop carriers and Stukas for fire support)
I believe Combatguard and the Spear 120 mm mortar are suited to the task – they just need the Israeli Patton or Guderian to apply it.

September 9, 2014 5:14 am

Thomas, sometimes you choose the ground for your engagement. Sometimes, the ground chooses you. You talk about “breakthrough” attacks, but what are the Israeli’s enemies? Irregular forces. There are no rear area C&C facilities to attack, even if you can identify them. Palestinian tactics are more akin to free roving white blood cells in the immune system than Western coordinated actions. Not to mention most of their action is concentrated in cities, there is no open area to breakthrough or exploit. You break through the first defence line, what is next is still more cityscape.

I believe you may have fallen prey to a syndrome that is common with many Americans, the belief that better toys automatically solves problems. This is not true. Tactically, nothing your new IFV gives you is any different from the old M-113s or recycled medium tanks that the IDF uses currently.

September 9, 2014 6:47 am
Reply to  Observer

I don’t agree with your argument.
1. it is true that HAMAS is organised in regional regiments that are based on fortified and boobytrapped underground defense system.
2.They have limited mobility through backstreets and tunnels, so fast mooving lightly protected forces CAN turn them and attack them from unexpected directions.
3. They do have C&C nodes and intelligence can discover some which were attacked in the war by air assets
4.It is difficult to discover tunnel openings from the air, but further back they are less protected and using CS or smoke forced into the tunnels will reveal additional openings making them vulnerable
5. Hamas defense is built on expected lines of advance by the IDF. If you make a wide flank advance that they can not recognise and turn unexpectedly you have tactical surprise. This is conditional on very fast movement and changing the focal point of the main attack
I am talking more like Patton than the Charge of the Light Brigade.
I would also recommend using Psychological warfare, with dropped leaflets and loudspeakers oriented both to civilians and fighters
5. I would use a lot of smoke and CS to degrade the advantages of the built up area defense with FLIR on our side to see through and gas protection.
6. Hamas has been training for years against the IDF attack doctrine, and getting quite good at it and it is time to change the script and do lots of things unconventional.
There are three GPS guided fuses for dumb artillery shells and 120mm mortars. Still more or less in the development stage, They should be immediately put into operational use to save money and be more effective and lessen civilian casualties. Statistical fire should not be used in built-up civilian environments.

September 9, 2014 7:01 am

I want to remind you of the highly effective use of the Striker in Iraq, when they appeared suddenly and silently (on electric propulsion) in the Iraqi line sawing utter confusion and surrender. You can not do this with a M113 clancking along sedately,with paperthin aluminium walls (7 soldiers died in Sayayiye in Gaza when it got hit with antitank missile (or RPG).
But race along a backstreet at 70km/hr and you leave the fight behind. Encountering random fighters with small arms or even RPG will not slow you down. Even mines of up to 6kg will not destroy the vehicle, and other will be able to pass by and carry the attack further in.
I see this as an opportunity – new tools will enable the force to use new and different doctrine, which evolves just as in the Yom Kippur War when within a day they changed tactics and prevailed over the Egyptians.

September 9, 2014 7:23 am

Thomas, when? During Op Iraq Freedom or during the insurgency afterwards? I’m with mr fred on this one, he prefers infantry heavy tactics and I’m more mechanized infantry inclined, but even I who supports 8x8s hesitate to endorse your blanket deus ex machina approach. Tools are exactly that, tools. Not solutions.

BTW it’s Stryker. Striker is a grenade launcher.

And RPGs will kill Strykers if they hit wrong, the primary defence on them is slat armour, if the round hits between the gaps, the fuze shorts out, good, but if it hits right on the armour itself, the round will detonate and form the jet. Of course, that is not a sure kill either but Strykers are hardly invincible. There are reports of RPG kills on Strykers, IIRC the initial battle of Mosul had 2 out of 4 of the Stryker initial force knocked out by RPG fire.

The Israeli AAR for Cast Lead is a very interesting read.

September 9, 2014 7:33 am

Oh, last point. CS is illegal to use on a battlefield. Geneva convention violation. I remember talking with Phil about it.

September 9, 2014 11:39 am
Reply to  Observer

How come CS illegal on the battlefield, when it is freely used all over the world in the streets against demonstrators??? I was not talking of poison gas. Smoke is also legal.
Obviously in closed spaces, like tunnels, they can be lethal in heavy concentrations.
The tunnel network in Gaza is a weapon – the Hamas uses it to attack and withdraw and attack again from another opening.
If smoke or CS is pumped into one opening with a large fan, it will start coming out in other openings, which can be used to discover the network, so explosives can be used to seal the fighters in. Surely that is not illegal?
Israeli soldiers nowadays advance in the attack with an accompanying lawyer from the Provost Marshall’s unit to get approval for each action. Just kidding. Or not.

September 9, 2014 12:18 pm

Thomas, do I look like I’m on the UN council? Go take it up with them. I wasn’t consulted when the Geneva Convention was written. And yes, it is illegal. And so is phosphorous in a populated area. The 2nd one I’ve no problems with, but people like the HRW might look at it differently.


Safe you said?

September 9, 2014 6:37 pm

Going back up the thread a bit, the US Stryker vehicles have had some success, and are relatively quiet, when compared to tracked vehicles. However, they are not electrically powered and there were no Iraqi lines to appear in.

September 9, 2014 7:26 pm

Well, to be fair mr fred, they were actually supposed to be a temporary experiment, especially given the project name. Interim Combat Vehicle. That really sounds permanent doesn’t it. :)

As a permanent vehicle, it has some flaws, namely it’s way too light. Upgrade potential is cut very drastically when the base vehicle is too light.


[…] September 07, 2014 by Think Defence […]

September 13, 2014 4:02 pm

Sorry for the long delay in responding, Mr.Fred and Observer. I hope you are still here.
Re Stryker – it has been a while, but my memory of the silent and surprise appearance of the Strykers is vividly remembered, even if some details are a bit cloudy (electric motors is obviously incorrect).
In the war in Gaza there was almost no manoeuvre and lots of fire, both artillery and from the air, which did not achieve a desired decision, nor did it shorten the conflict.
There was no Strategy or clear political direction, but that is not what is the subject of our discussion.
The heavy tanks and Named IVFs with AAM systems worked very well. The IDF reversed previous decision to cut Named orders and has now doubled it. I contented that they were not employed well as they did not participate in maneuvering deep enough to outflank the Hamas defense positions.
I contented that fast, lightly armoured and AAM equipped wheeled IVFs could change the equation. Hamas is an army today, with regular formations and c&c and not a bunch of irregulars. They need concerted action, supplies and ammunition, mutual support, etc.
The Maneuver versus Fire debate is ongoing, but I think that Fire by itself is overrated and history proved that it never achieved a decision.
The heavy tank, while still a valid weapon, especially with AAM, it is coming to a limit and is a dead end. So the question I ask what will it require to renew the dominance of Maneuver on the battlefield?

September 13, 2014 5:03 pm

“what will it require to renew the dominance of Maneuver on the battlefield?”

Wide open plains, rolling hills.

“The heavy tank […..] is coming to a limit and is a dead end”

This sounds familiar, think I heard it a few decades ago…

“they did not participate in maneuvering deep enough to outflank the Hamas defense positions.”

Theory is fine, but remember, while you are deep in enemy territory “outflanking” them, they have already “outflanked” you! Look at it this way. You punch through to the left or right of the unit you are trying to flank, then you turn in to face them for the overrun. Where is your back facing relative to the unit on the left or right of your target? Not to mention any defence in depth is now getting a defilade shot at your side. Any armoured vehicle, Stryker, Namer, Merkava etc should never ever get so stuck into enemy defence lines, which is why MOUT is such a grinding affair, the lines have to move with the armour and infantry, cutting corners like you’ve been trying to do will more likely than not end up in you being cut off and surrounded. There is no magic wand, in cases like these, if you’re lazy, you’ll end up dead.

In a conventional non-Palestinian situation, chances are high if you tried to “maneuver” to “outflank”, you’ll end up meeting an enemy unit trying to “maneuver” to “outflank” you too. It’s not like people are stupid and won’t try it. A classic example of this is the WWI “Race to the Sea” where both sides kept extending their lines to outflank the enemy until they could not extend the lines any more.

BTW there are some formations where there is no flank to turn. :) I’ll leave it to you to think it through how this can be so.

September 13, 2014 6:27 pm

Hey you forgot that in the same terrain I.e.Belgium,France, in WW 2 it was manoeuvre that brought the decision. Also on the Eastern Front.
I said outflank, but I also consider a breakthroug of the defensive positions and exploiting the ground behind the “scherpunkt”,’ enveloping the enemy and destroying him.
Speed in the manoeuvre will unbalance the enemy and will bring about his defeat.
Wheeled vehicles versus tracks have better strategic mobility and smaller logistics requirements, cheaper price, which gives larger procurement.
The IDF Armour Corps internal debate about the future tank promotes a lighter fighting vehicle in the future. Why not a variant of the CombatGuard?

September 13, 2014 8:16 pm

Thomas, what I see here is either sheer laziness, wishful thinking or trying to get off cheap. There is no miracle tactic that suddenly makes all the enemies die off for an easy win, and attempting to do so will often make you pay the real price of trying to cut corners. You talk about “flanking, flanking, flanking” like it is such an easy thing to do, but “flanking” as a tactic has been around since even before the dark ages, do you think that people will miss something so elementary? The only times flanking works are if someone was careless or if the defenders are overstretched physically or numerically, there is even a counter, “contracting the lines” where you pull back to secondary positions if someone is trying to flank, so they end up hitting nothing.

As for 8x8s, think you massively underestimate MBT maneuverability. 8x8s are endurance runners, yes, but for a local battlefield, MBTs are more than enough. 8x8s are for strategic moves, like moving from one country to another. RT may be more familiar with it, but tank exercises usually run for about 3 days straight with no problems. I’m sure he’s going to tell me 5 days for exercises, a week or two in the Gulf War. :)

To be really honest Thomas, I see you trying to do something really dangerous, selling a “miracle cure”. You’re saying “do this and all your worries are solved!”. Sometimes, there are no miracles, just simple hard work and sweat. MOUT is one of them.

September 14, 2014 9:37 pm

It has just occurred to me that, with the heavy tanks that force a breakthrough and the light vehicles that race through the enemy’s lines to exploit into the rear areas, the proposed strategy is that of the pre- and early-war British armoured formations, with Infantry and Cruiser tanks.
That would be the same strategy that went up against Guderian, and the rest of the German staff, and was found wanting, being eschewed post war by all major powers in favour of a general purpose main battle tank.

The problem with a light exploitation formation is the defence in depth. You can’t exploit a flank or break through without heavy armour. Indeed you don’t really know if you have broken through. Even if you do manage to pass though the defended area your light vehicles are as likely as not to run into the oppositions mobile reserve.

September 15, 2014 12:02 am

The irony of this is that I’m arguing a stand counter to what I took with Phil. :)

His stand was that in a peer to peer war, defences will be so in depth that any breakthrough will end up being throttled in a short while, which I really do agree with. Mine was that unless you want to be stuck in a meatgrinder, you have to take a gamble sometimes, but that is also due to our different army context. We’re manpower short, a meatgrinder war will surely kill us, so we really have no choice but to roll double or nothing.

It helps that our probable area of ops is a narrow strip of land with the sea on both sides, prime terrain for amphibious assaults and bypassing defensive lines from the sea, but the reality is that we really need to gamble or bleed to death by a thousand cuts. In wide open plains with no place to bypass defence lines? We’re screwed.

September 15, 2014 5:06 am
Reply to  mr.fred

The thing is you are bringing in examples from the past of two armies opposing, with more or less similar forces (tanks, infantry, artillery) and the one that prevails is the one using clever tactics. Defense in depth is a part of prevalent strategy.

This is not the case today with many conflicts. Look at ISIL in Iraq. that routed a regular army, using fast pickup truck equipped forces. The wide open spaces lend themselves to effective air interdiction, which the Iraqis did not use (or have), which could have turned the tide.

In Gaza the terrain is built-up with infantry forces facing a regular army with armor and air support. The type of fighting was a slow attrition type, with the Israelis using cautious protected advance to minimise casualties, but it made it a long drawn out affair.

There is a consensus in Israel that a more daring military operation, with deep penetration (flanking, breakthrough, encirclement) would have shortened the war and caused higher casualties to Hamas. The military was micromanaged by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, which prevented the Army choosing alternative and riskier maneuvers and carrying on the pounding of Hamas from the air and artillery fire (not indiscriminate, I must emphasise).
The long war, however, had political and financial side-effects and degraded Israel’s deterrence in the region, and did not bring about a desired conclusion to the conflict with Hamas, the seeds of the next round left germinating.
With the changing character of the potential adversaries (no regular army threatens Israel today : Syria self-destroyed, Iraq weak and disorganised, Egypt and Jordan not current adversaries, Hizbullah being the only potential and powerful enemy, but somewhat deterred for now, Iran too far away), the question is what “tools” will be suitable for the future conflicts?

The heavy tank is still great and useful, but that is for fighting the last war, and it is of low strategic mobility, expensive, need large maintenance and supply tail, and essentially slow and has a heavy footprint and is not easy to conceal.

This is the reason I keep toying with the thought of using a lightly armoured, fast and a highly mobile force, wheeled as against tracked to give higher strategic mobility, cheaper, (to afford higher numbers and lower maintenance costs) able to better surprise the opponents. APS equipped to make up for less armour. The balance of firepower, mobility and protection in a fighting vehicle has to favour mobility first, protection second and in the firepower class, changing the heavy tube gun with missiles and GPS/laser/optical guided artillery.

Like I said, we are today fighting new adversaries in the Middle East, different from the old heavy Army formations, defense in depth, combined arms, etc. It is amorphous, diffused and smaller units that are themselves using fast and light transport to strike and disappear.

A new type of force is needed with new, lighter and mainly faster units that are also diffused but able to cooperate in concerted action, using c&c and computers for awareness and information, UAVs and satellites for reconnaissance, UAVs and light and fast mobile artillery and air assets for fire support.
Future war…..

September 15, 2014 6:47 am

How does one fight an adversary, that is in defensive positions and limited mobility (no mechanised forces or those that are available are vulnerable to interdiction. So their limited mobility is only via tunnels for regrouping, retreat, attack – Hamas in Gaza.

These define the inherent limitation of this defensive and can be exploited by maneuver – not the limited flanking movement, which is itself exposed to flanking by the defense in depth.

However, this depth is very limited, a fact which lends to wide maneuver and attacking the defense from the rear as well as from the front, which will destabilise it causing collapse.

A wide flanking operation must be with a small signature so as not to alert the defense to the nature of the operation. Tank columns are loud, relatively slow, easy to identify.

A fast and light column will bypass points of resistance to get to the rear and fast enough so the deefnder will not realise what is happening. Smoke can be used to confuse and distract. The key is not to give the adversary time to adjust, which will weaken his resolve and resistance and bring about the decision on the battlefield.

In the Gaza war there was no use of disinformation or deceit so Hamas was not surprised. They were pretty resolute in their set piece defense, and they could anticipate the IDF’s moves, which were pretty standard.

The current IDF is pretty mediocre, if well trained and up-to-date in weapons and tactics, but these were not exploited in a required fashion. The units did execute the objectives given to them resolutely and to a high standard, but there were a few operational mistakes, which caused unnecessary casualties. My main beef is with the High Command’s unimaginative direction of the operations and not using the advantages of the forces versus the glaring limitations of the defenders.

Now is the time for the Commissions of Inquiry to study what could have been done differently. My take is that the higher command developed a very conservative mentality and political correctness and covering your arse. The unconventional mavericks have been passed over or ejected from the Army. An Arik Sharon (of Yom Kippur War and the old 101st Paratroop/Kommando unit fame) type of commander is needed, with a little more charisma and daring than the current Chief of Staff. This COS, together with the current Defense Minister, were the ones that a few years ago advocated the decommissioning of a few Armor Regiments and cutting Merkava and Namer production (which now have been reinstated).

But I have to remember, that a similar decay is characterising most of the armies of the world, from the US to the armies of Europe; the only exception is Russia, that is in the process of modernising and increasing forces and seems to be effective with a supporting political leadership (that can not be said of all the rest – except China).

Effective and revolutionary ground forces will be the only factor that will bring about political decisions – boots on the ground. Only if you take that hill or occupy that town will you effect the course of events.

What “tools” you choose today will effect the capabilities of the army tomorrow.

We have to strive to fight the next war and not the last one.

September 15, 2014 9:21 pm

If you think that there is no further use for combined arms then there is no hope.