The recently release OP HERRICK Campaign Study highlights many factors relevant to mobility; low-risk appetite leading to an emphasis on force protection, a growing weight ‘on the man’, inability to generate sufficient manoeuvre force, the desirability of air assault and an increase in vehicle weight.
It also recognises that in future operations, characterised by work carried out by the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC), some of the factors that enabled the effective deployment of air manoeuvre, may not be present. An effective enemy anti-aircraft capability, for example, might mean that air manoeuvre has to be conducted at stand-off distances, with ground forces then moving to their objective over greater distances on the ground.
French forces in North Africa seem to conduct parachute drops every other week, the utility of parachute capabilities continuing to be demonstrated.
The contemporary operating environment, therefore, defines a requirement for improved mobility over greater distances for air manoeuvre, specialists other light role forces.
Curiously, the US Army has also come to a similar set of conclusions about their vehicle fleet and air manoeuvre. In early 2017, the US Army will begin the Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV) programme, now called the Ground Mobility Vehicle. A demonstration programme in 2014 defined the requirement for nine seats, internally carried by Chinook, sling load by Blackhawk and air droppable, although the Ground Mobility Vehicle may well soften on the number of seats in order to maintain mobility.
Air manoeuvre forces are defined by their means of transport, helicopters and tactical aircraft like the ubiquitous Chinook and Hercules. For completeness, their means of transport also includes feet and legs, so, bicycles will get a look in.
This article will look at means of improving mobility for light forces, excluding air-portable armoured combat vehicles, I will look at these in a future article.
The stock answer might be Rovers and feet, but where would be the fun in that…