Author Topic: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense  (Read 20138 times)

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Offline ballz

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Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« on: December 11, 2017, 21:32:18 »
Good day all,

I wanted to find a way to pass on everything I had surmised over the last 2 years. The LAV Captain is a position that is shrouded in a bit of mystery. It's treated as an Ops Capt in garrison (a good tangent is why this is wrong, in my opinion) and how to utilize him/her in the field outside of a combat team's advance-to-contact is a little up in the air.

For your reading pleasure, and any and all commentary / feedback / discussion generated from this is very much appreciated. I am particularly interested here what some of the tankers have to say.

I submitted the article to the Inf Corps Newsletter in 3 parts due to its length. I'm also posting it in 3 parts due to the topics covered, to keep the threads organized.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2017, 22:51:03 »
A few notes on defence.

1.  On reserves, check Land Ops at 7-58 to 7-60.  The reserve preserves a commander's freedom of action through initial uncommitment.  That doesn't mean you do not assign it potential tasks - to put it another way, if you have an element that is outside of your main and supporting efforts and is given a series of "Be prepared to" tasks, then you've constituted a reserve.  Conversely, if you put a unit in depth and give it a "block" task, then it isn't really a reserve, as by executing his task to block, that subordinate isn't really giving you freedom of action.

In fact, counter-moves (reinforcement/blocking/counterattack) is the likely probable task of reserves in the defence.  Historically, good defensive schemes put a large proportion of their strength in depth reserves which were tasked with counter-moves.  A good example that I recently ran into was Mustafa Kemal at Gallipoli.  His division held a sector in which he placed two of his regiments up, retaining a third in reserve.  As well, he took one of three battalions from each of the frontline regiments into the reserve as well: in total, five of his nine battalions were reserves.

2.  On reserves.  Sometimes, I don't think we really put thought into what constitutes our reserve - we just designate one to check the box, even if it doesn't make sense.  I'm personally not convinced a platoon needs a reserve.  In many (most?) cases, a company probably doesn't need one either.  What does a company commander have that can preserve his freedom of action?  Can an 8-man section really do much for him?  If the nature of the task and terrain allows a company commander to keep a 1/2 platoon or greater out of the battle, then I think he has something workable.  I think its entirely suitable for a battalion commander to carve off parts of his companies to form a central reserve, and for the company commanders to have none.

3.  My personal belief is that the Canadian Army doesn't "do" defensive exercises too well as it isn't in our "genetic structure." Over the last 100 years, we spent the First World War attacking Germans on the Western Front, spent the Second World War attacking Germans in Italy and NW Europe, maintained a war of patrols with an unmechanized foe in Korea, and spent the Cold War in Europe preparing to fight a form of mobile defence.  From my reading on 4 CMBG, we likely achieved a degree of sophistication in mechanized defence there, but that's about state of the art for us. 

Our theory and our operational approach pales into anything you could find in reading about the Gustav, Gothic, or Siegfried Lines.  Look at the typical battalion defensive exercise.  The battalion goes out, puts three companies on line, and then digs a fairly linear position.  Brigade defensive schemes I've observed on exercises aren't much more sophisticated.  The general concept is that we wait (and hope) the enemy bangs into our obstacles and gets destroyed by our fires while trying to breach them...how is it we always breach enemy obstacles but they really get hung up on ours?  There is no depth, no understanding of the immediate and deliberate counterattack, and no designation of battlespace into zones/sectors to fight a phased battle.  Find an officer who can put a brigade in an elastic defence.

Anyone who wants to really understand the defence needs to read Lossberg's Memoirs (now in English!).  He essentially invented the modern system of defence in depth that is still predominant today - he was the guy who patched things up in Arras after the Canadian Corps blew a hole open at Vimy.

« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 12:29:54 by Infanteer »
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2017, 23:07:45 »
Interesting points, Infanteer.

Having developed as a junior officer in an environment that practiced defensive operations in nuclear warfare, I was reared in the world according to CAMT 1-8. It was pretty much big hand, little map, so I was fascinated by a brigade study group on the employment of the reserve conducted by Brigadier Norman Wilson-Smith, the commander 3 CIBG in Gagetown. Don't ask me to recite it; it was more than half a century ago. However it was pretty close to what Infanteer posted, at least in principle. Modify to add: What impressed me most was the lack of resources for reserve tasks, especially in forward units and formations.

Historically Canadian defensive doctrine in both world wars, Korea and, for whatever it is worth, Afghanistan seems to have been to get on a piece of ground, prepare an artillery defensive fire plan and stack the enemy like cordwood by hitting them with tons of HE as they try to push us off. The nuclear era was a break from this, and the battle was built around the use of a tactical nuclear weapon, but good, steady infantry stuff was emphasized. However we were supposed to be able to prepare a defensive position in response to a developing threat in a matter of hours, not days. Fortunately we never had to see if it worked.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 23:14:38 by Old Sweat »

Offline ballz

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2017, 00:49:40 »
A few notes on defence.

1.  On reserves, check Land Ops at 7-58 to 7-60.  The reserve preserves a commander's freedom of action through initial uncommitment.  That doesn't mean you do not assign it potential tasks - to put it another way, if you have an element that is outside of your main and supporting efforts and is given a series of "Be prepared to" tasks, then you've constituted a reserve.  Conversely, if you put a unit in depth and give it a "block" task, then it isn't really a reserve, as by executing his task to block, that subordinate isn't really giving you freedom of action.

In fact, counter-moves (reinforcement/blocking/counterattack) is the likely probable task of reserves in the defence.  Historically, good defensive schemes put a large proportion of their strength in depth reserves which were tasked with counter-moves.  A good example that I recently ran into was Mustafa Kemal at Gallipoli.  His division held a sector in which he placed two of his regiments up, retaining a third in reserve.  As well, he took one of three battalions from each of the frontline regiments into the reserve as well: in total, five of his nine battalions were reserves.

I like the idea of a very robust counter-moves plan / force in the defensive... the way I conceptualize it, the dug-in positions are really only obstacles, albeit live ones. The counter moves should ultimately destroy the enemy, not a last stand of the poor guys in the trench. This seems lost on nearly everyone around me, who thinks counter-moves are just there to "sweep through and resume the advance" after the enemy is attrited to 50% by the dismounted force.

However, in saying that, if our main effort is in our counter-moves... then does that not by definition mean it's not the reserve? Maybe I'm worried too much about semantics on this point. The mixing up of lingo for reserves was a point of contention for other reasons on this exercise for a whole host of other reasons. The mixing up of lingo with direct fire plan / counter-moves / counterattack was more prominent and pretty amateur, in my opinion.

2.  On reserves 2.  Sometimes, I don't think we really put thought into what constitutes our reserve - we just designate one to check the box, even if it doesn't make sense.  I'm personally not convinced a platoon needs a reserve.  In many (most?) cases, a company probably doesn't need one either.  What does a company commander have that can preserve his freedom of action?  Can an 8-man section really do much for him?  If the nature of the task and terrain allows a company commander to keep a 1/2 platoon or greater out of the battle, then I think he has something workable.  I think its entirely suitable for a battalion commander to carve off parts of his companies to form a central reserve, and for the company commanders to have none.

Agreed.

Our theory and our operational approach pales into anything you could find in reading about the Gustav, Gothic, or Siegfried Lines.  Look at the typical battalion defensive exercise.  The battalion goes out, puts three companies on line, and then digs a fairly linear position.  Brigade defensive schemes I've observed on exercises aren't much more sophisticated.  The general concept is that we wait (and hope) the enemy bangs into our obstacles and gets destroyed by our fires while trying to breach them...how is it we always breach enemy obstacles but they really get hung up on ours?  There is no depth, no understanding of the immediate and deliberate counterattack, and no designation of battlespace into zones/sectors to fight a phased battle. 

Yes, it's amazing how well your plans work when you write your own MEL.

Find an officer who can put a brigade in an elastic defence.

Never even heard of it to be honest...

Anyone who wants to really understand the defence needs to read Lossberg's Memoirs (now in English!).  He essentially invented the modern system of defence in depth that is still predominant today - he was the guy who patched things up in Arras after the Canadian Corps blew a hole open at Vimy.

Look forward to picking that up and I have a few others in mind to share it with.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 01:59:18 by ballz »
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2017, 10:28:50 »
Considering the State of our army, would not German WWII defensive tactics be a worthwhile study area, they were operating with threadbare resources and overwhelming opposing forces. We would hopefully have the benefit of air superiority and a non insane leadership. 

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2017, 09:47:12 »
Yes.  The Western Front of WWI was a bit of an anomaly as both sides had deep enough pools of formations that the could squeeze many units in depth onto small frontages.

Italy in 1943-45 presents a different case.  Here, the Germans were fighting a defensive campaign on a secondary (and by 1944, a tertiary) front.  Add to that the fact that there manpower pool was already starting to dry up, and you see a lot of creative "defence on the cheap" in that campaign.  Senger, who commanded the German Corps that defended at Cassino, states in his memoirs that his battalions were severely below strength at the time, and he was covering 30+ km of frontage with about 3,600 infantrymen from his three infantry divisions (about 1,200 per division, or 200 per battalion).  An interesting tactical problem, and not one unfamiliar to what we could find ourselves in today.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2018, 10:04:10 »
I like the idea of a very robust counter-moves plan / force in the defensive... the way I conceptualize it, the dug-in positions are really only obstacles, albeit live ones. The counter moves should ultimately destroy the enemy, not a last stand of the poor guys in the trench. This seems lost on nearly everyone around me, who thinks counter-moves are just there to "sweep through and resume the advance" after the enemy is attrited to 50% by the dismounted force.

However, in saying that, if our main effort is in our counter-moves... then does that not by definition mean it's not the reserve? Maybe I'm worried too much about semantics on this point. The mixing up of lingo for reserves was a point of contention for other reasons on this exercise for a whole host of other reasons. The mixing up of lingo with direct fire plan / counter-moves / counterattack was more prominent and pretty amateur, in my opinion.

Another good book on this that will concur with your perspective is Attack:  A Study of Blitzkrieg Tactics.  https://www.amazon.com/Attack-Blitzkrieg-Tactics-F-Miksche/dp/1436703174  Despite it's name it's actually a study on how to defeat a combined arms offensive.  There are a couple papers out there available on Google as well on Kursk that you might find helpful.

The idea proposed in the book is that the defence should be oriented on destroying the enemy through the use of c-atk at all levels.  Units would create defended localities with all around defense on terrain difficult for mechanized forces.  These would be arrayed in depth and en elements would be allowed to penetrate between them.  Mobile forces would then c-atk from these localities and between them.  Some enemy forces will undoubtedly get through, however, their follow on forces (lighter mechanized or inf formations) and their sustainment will have a very hard time getting through and will need to commit costly and time consuming clearance ops or attempt to infiltrate at which time c-atks could be launched.  Jim Storr hints at an idea like this in his book discussing a bn in the defence organization that would see only a third of a unit committed to stationary defence while the remainder were ready to c-atk.

As for the reserve being the main effort, I think that is fine.  The main effort should be that unit/activity which will achieve the mission.  They are on the decisive action.  If your reserve is to BPT to c-atk (in the case of a destruction task) or block (in the case of the block) task, then they are being decisive.  What makes them the reserve is the fact they aren't committed.  They're prepared to be, but they aren't yet.


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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2018, 20:55:29 »
Wasn't that the idea behind the "boxes" in North Africa? As I recall they did not do as well as hoped.

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2018, 21:07:50 »
.....or the Maginot Line?
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2018, 23:30:41 »
2.  On reserves 2.  Sometimes, I don't think we really put thought into what constitutes our reserve - we just designate one to check the box, even if it doesn't make sense.  I'm personally not convinced a platoon needs a reserve.  In many (most?) cases, a company probably doesn't need one either.  What does a company commander have that can preserve his freedom of action?  Can an 8-man section really do much for him?  If the nature of the task and terrain allows a company commander to keep a 1/2 platoon or greater out of the battle, then I think he has something workable.  I think its entirely suitable for a battalion commander to carve off parts of his companies to form a central reserve, and for the company commanders to have none.

'Reserves' are often favoured on TEWTs by those Officers at the BGp level who think they have a future at the Corps level ;)
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2018, 20:04:27 »
.....or the Maginot Line?

I'm not sure I see how the example is relevant considering they never actually had any countermoves mobilized and ready to complete any CM tasks...

Wasn't that the idea behind the "boxes" in North Africa? As I recall they did not do as well as hoped.

I'll admit I haven't studied history enough, but I'm interested to hear / read about this. I'm not exactly sure what you are referring to?


On that note, it's probably important to point out that no strategy / tactic / plan will work 100% of the time. Even the soundest tactics, and most well laid plans, the most prepared positions, and executed on point... can really only increase the odds in our favour, but never to the point of guaranteed success. Any tactic can lose to ingenuity, bold/aggressive manoeuvres, weather, terrain, etc... or just sheer dumb luck.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2018, 22:54:17 »
I'm not sure I see how the example is relevant considering they never actually had any countermoves mobilized and ready to complete any CM tasks...

I'll admit I haven't studied history enough, but I'm interested to hear / read about this. I'm not exactly sure what you are referring to?


On that note, it's probably important to point out that no strategy / tactic / plan will work 100% of the time. Even the soundest tactics, and most well laid plans, the most prepared positions, and executed on point... can really only increase the odds in our favour, but never to the point of guaranteed success. Any tactic can lose to ingenuity, bold/aggressive manoeuvres, weather, terrain, etc... or just sheer dumb luck.

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2018, 16:10:25 »
Coming in late - missed this in Dec!

Does a BG that has a "countermoves force" in fact, have a reserve by doing so? We can tie ourselves in knots with terminology, but it can be a useful thought exercise.

Both Land Ops 2008 and BG in Ops 2012 offer that the defence is a single battle conducted in two stages: covering force battle and main defence battle including countermoves (reinforcing, blocking and counterattacking). The countermoves is indeed part of the main defensive battle. It used to be its own stage.

Land Ops suggests that the main functions of reserves in the defence are to reinforce, block, counterattack, replace other units, and protect flanks and rear areas. It also offers that reserves in the defence are commonly used for counter-moves (reinforcement, blocking and counterattack) and spoiling attacks.

BG in Ops talks about the countermoves plan in some more detail, adding that the BG depth is part of it. Of interest, it adds that reinforcing and blocking are conducted with all or part of uncommitted, depth or reserve elements. It also recommends that once committed, the reserve becomes the decisive action.

So what does all this mean?

While we think of tanks as the countermoves force we should also consider infantry, sappers and mobile AT systems as possible parts of the countermoves force for the blocking and reinforcing tasks. Tanks can certainly block and reinforce, but they do counterattacking really well. Splitting the tanks up and tying them to defended localities can work, but it can also lead to defeat in detail in piecemeal fashion.

If a BG has two companies up , one in depth and a tank squadron as the countermoves then it has a powerful reserve for some situations, but it might not be appropriate for all possible reserve tasks. If the BG plan here hinges on the "countermoves" doing a dramatic mission task verb to the enemy main body then perhaps you need a second reserve, or at least have a scalable reserve to deal with those annoying things that the enemy does when he forgets the script. You might be doctrinally correct to have that single reserve, but you are taking a risk and the composition of your reserve is actually limiting your own freedom of action if the enemy does something not in accordance with the DST.  The enemy might just do something unfair with the intention of drawing out the reserve, so its nice to have options. You could, of course, reallocate forces from the other sub-units on the fly to keep the reserve intact for the decisive moment. Its easier said that done and virtually impossible once troops are in contact.

Maybe you have two companies up, a company in reserve and a tank squadron in reserve? One reserve, the tank squadron, is earmarked with the task to destroy the XXX MRR in KZ PANTERA (but you are not sure in which exact area since the enemy has something to say). You call those guys "the countermoves" to let everybody know that while they are not "committed" you definitely have something in mind. The other subunit in reserve is just told to be in reserve. Perhaps the infantry company and tank squadron both come into action from reserve at the same time and both in classic countermoves roles? The infantry from reserve in a countermove block role "blocks/fixes/contains" the now identified enemy while the tank squadron destroys with a counterattack role? Its pretty much how you conduct a mobile defence.

You can, of course, take that too far. If you have too much in reserve then perhaps your defence turns into a meeting engagement. Doctrine offers that the size and composition of the reserve will vary with what you know about the enemy and the level of uncertainty. Its why we do estimates and try to avoid cookie-cutter solutions (even if they can work a lot of the time).

Cheers


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Offline Haligonian

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2018, 03:22:11 »
Coming in late - missed this in Dec!

Does a BG that has a "countermoves force" in fact, have a reserve by doing so? We can tie ourselves in knots with terminology, but it can be a useful thought exercise.

Both Land Ops 2008 and BG in Ops 2012 offer that the defence is a single battle conducted in two stages: covering force battle and main defence battle including countermoves (reinforcing, blocking and counterattacking). The countermoves is indeed part of the main defensive battle. It used to be its own stage.

Land Ops suggests that the main functions of reserves in the defence are to reinforce, block, counterattack, replace other units, and protect flanks and rear areas. It also offers that reserves in the defence are commonly used for counter-moves (reinforcement, blocking and counterattack) and spoiling attacks.

BG in Ops talks about the countermoves plan in some more detail, adding that the BG depth is part of it. Of interest, it adds that reinforcing and blocking are conducted with all or part of uncommitted, depth or reserve elements. It also recommends that once committed, the reserve becomes the decisive action.

So what does all this mean?

While we think of tanks as the countermoves force we should also consider infantry, sappers and mobile AT systems as possible parts of the countermoves force for the blocking and reinforcing tasks. Tanks can certainly block and reinforce, but they do counterattacking really well. Splitting the tanks up and tying them to defended localities can work, but it can also lead to defeat in detail in piecemeal fashion.

If a BG has two companies up , one in depth and a tank squadron as the countermoves then it has a powerful reserve for some situations, but it might not be appropriate for all possible reserve tasks. If the BG plan here hinges on the "countermoves" doing a dramatic mission task verb to the enemy main body then perhaps you need a second reserve, or at least have a scalable reserve to deal with those annoying things that the enemy does when he forgets the script. You might be doctrinally correct to have that single reserve, but you are taking a risk and the composition of your reserve is actually limiting your own freedom of action if the enemy does something not in accordance with the DST.  The enemy might just do something unfair with the intention of drawing out the reserve, so its nice to have options. You could, of course, reallocate forces from the other sub-units on the fly to keep the reserve intact for the decisive moment. Its easier said that done and virtually impossible once troops are in contact.

Maybe you have two companies up, a company in reserve and a tank squadron in reserve? One reserve, the tank squadron, is earmarked with the task to destroy the XXX MRR in KZ PANTERA (but you are not sure in which exact area since the enemy has something to say). You call those guys "the countermoves" to let everybody know that while they are not "committed" you definitely have something in mind. The other subunit in reserve is just told to be in reserve. Perhaps the infantry company and tank squadron both come into action from reserve at the same time and both in classic countermoves roles? The infantry from reserve in a countermove block role "blocks/fixes/contains" the now identified enemy while the tank squadron destroys with a counterattack role? Its pretty much how you conduct a mobile defence.

You can, of course, take that too far. If you have too much in reserve then perhaps your defence turns into a meeting engagement. Doctrine offers that the size and composition of the reserve will vary with what you know about the enemy and the level of uncertainty. Its why we do estimates and try to avoid cookie-cutter solutions (even if they can work a lot of the time).

Cheers

I think this also raises the question of depth elements and how they are employed.  As you noted Land Ops states that depth has a c-moves role.  They should be first employed in the block, and reinforcing tasks and perhaps even c-atking depending on the en you face.  I've seen other situations where the depth is employed takes the primary role in the BG patrolling plan on behalf of the coy.  The other perspective is that the depth fights from a BP similar to forward platoons/coys/bns in the expectation that the enemy will penetrate through or around forward BPs.  This could even be part of a deliberate plan to allow penetration to a certain area where the en will be even more vulnerable to c-atk and destruction.  One book I read described it as a one way valve.  The en would be allowed to penetrate, at a cost, but he wouldn't be able to withdraw and his sustainment (and potentially follow on infantry) wouldn't be able to follow.  When the time was right the c-atk would be launched.

Assuming you're following the perspective that your depth is primarily tasked with blocking and reinforcing, and patrolling, do they prepare a BP or are they in a centralized hide somewhere?

Speaking of tying ourselves in knots with terminology.  Can the reserve be the main effort?  The reserve can obviously become the main effort once committed, just as any other sub unit can, but can it be the main effort from the outset.  We can get around this by doing as you suggest by having a reserve and a designated c-movs force which is the main effort.


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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2018, 12:43:04 »
The idea proposed in the book is that the defence should be oriented on destroying the enemy through the use of c-atk at all levels.  Units would create defended localities with all around defense on terrain difficult for mechanized forces.

Milch is simply giving a description of the system Lossberg "created" and the General Staff codified in the First World War.  Wynne, a British official historian, figured it out after the war and his book should be on every professional's shelf.

Bir Hachim... a well deserved BZ pour La Legion Etranger!

http://www.desertrats.org.uk/battles1942.htm

"Jock Columns" worked differently.  They broke apart forces and attempted to force German formations around hard points into areas where they could be hit by fires.  The concept failed to concentrate a mobile counterattack, the key element to the defence in depth.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Colin P

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2018, 12:44:52 »
Just reading about the Operations to reach and cross the Rhine. The allies manged to confuse the Germans as to what was the main thrusts and the Germans hesitated to use their reserves allowing the allies to achieve some of their goals with minimal opposition. What was interesting is how one German commander, fed in his reserve piecemeal, minimizing their effect and resulting in no benefit and no reserve in the end. Also apparent is that the Germans were forced to take units out of the indepth defenses, to bolster the areas being attacked, leaving them unable to respond to another thrust. A situation I think we would find ourselves in.

I think Canada would do well to conduct an defense exercise against a large American force with little idea how the attacks will go. Have the US armour do a number of probing attacks, and let them decide from their recce where to attack. The results will be painful and humbling, but might save lives later.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2018, 13:14:01 »
Just reading about the Operations to reach and cross the Rhine. The allies manged to confuse the Germans as to what was the main thrusts and the Germans hesitated to use their reserves allowing the allies to achieve some of their goals with minimal opposition. What was interesting is how one German commander, fed in his reserve piecemeal, minimizing their effect and resulting in no benefit and no reserve in the end. Also apparent is that the Germans were forced to take units out of the indepth defenses, to bolster the areas being attacked, leaving them unable to respond to another thrust. A situation I think we would find ourselves in.

I think Canada would do well to conduct an defense exercise against a large American force with little idea how the attacks will go. Have the US armour do a number of probing attacks, and let them decide from their recce where to attack. The results will be painful and humbling, but might save lives later.

An endorsement of Eisenhower's much criticized (by Monty and Patton) broad front strategy.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2018, 13:19:13 »
Does a BG that has a "countermoves force" in fact, have a reserve by doing so? We can tie ourselves in knots with terminology, but it can be a useful thought exercise.

I think this also raises the question of depth elements and how they are employed.

Words have meaning, and I think clarity is important.

A reserve is an uncommitted force that allows the commander to retain some freedom of action.  A commander without a reserve is limited to coordinating the fights of his/her subordinates, but has little to actually influence them.

Depth, as I conceive it, is rearward position that allows for some sort of mutual support of forward positions or elements.  The element in depth, in being able to provide mutual support, is somewhat vulnerable to enemy actions. A depth position may be suitable for a reserve, but the commander risks having his reserve unexpectedly committed through enemy actions (to include fires).  A key tenet of the defence in depth is that formation reserves are out of the range of enemy artillery, so as to prevent interference with the commitment of the reserve.  With modern rocket artillery systems featuring greatly extended range, this is harder to do in the modern battlefield, but there are still ways to achieve this.

Quote
Speaking of tying ourselves in knots with terminology.  Can the reserve be the main effort?  The reserve can obviously become the main effort once committed, just as any other sub unit can, but can it be the main effort from the outset.  We can get around this by doing as you suggest by having a reserve and a designated c-movs force which is the main effort.

I would say no.  A properly constituted reserve probably isn't siting on the point of the main effort.  If it was, I'd question the defensive layout.  Example:

The Brigade is defending the crossing site, and for various reasons has to defend forward (there are three ways to defend a crossing site - forward, on, or behind).  The main effort is on the hills that overlooking the bridgehead area called the "O1 line" in some doctrine, the line of features from which a position can be hit with direct fire.  The Brigade Commander states that the main effort is on the ABC hill features, and that the 1st Battalion is on his main effort.  He has an Armour heavy Combat Team maintained as his reserve.  As the battle progresses, the mission has not changed, but the 1st Battalion takes a beating.  The reserve is committed to the ABC hill features to reinforce.  The sound choice is for the reserve to now fall under the 1st Battalion Commander (as the man on the spot).  While the reserve element is now on the point of main effort, neither the unit or its initial location were part of that main effort.

...or another version, the 1st Battalion's defence at the ABC hill features goes well, and the enemy Division's attack culminates.  The Brigade Commander decides to commit his reserve to counterattack and regain the initiative.  The counterattack goes in at Junction XYZ to the east of the hill features.  The Brigade Commander shifts his main effort to the Armoured Combat Team on Junction XYZ, so everyone in the Brigade knows where support needs to go.  At this point, I'd argue that the Armoured Combat Team is no longer a reserve, as it has been committed.  The Brigade Commander reforms his reserve out of two companies of the 2nd Battalion, which had been providing depth from the near side of the crossing site.

To wit, if the reserve element approaches the geographic point of main effort and assumes the role, it no longer has reserve status.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2018, 16:37:43 »
I think Canada would do well to conduct an defense exercise against a large American force with little idea how the attacks will go. Have the US armour do a number of probing attacks, and let them decide from their recce where to attack. The results will be painful and humbling, but might save lives later.

A Canadian Brigade with minimal antitank weapons, no tactical air defence, no mortars, and towed artillery against a US Armored Brigade Combat Team? The Canadian brigade would be fixed in place and cut to pieces faster than you can say Republican Guard.

You can list a lot of the lessons of modern mechanized warfare without having an expensive exercise. But those lessons aren't popular, because they imply that we need to buy more modern equipment, spend money to train with it, and that previous decisions to divist entire categories of kit were serious errors.

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2018, 17:14:51 »
As I recall, it was one of those expensive exercise in Germany where an entire infantry battalion was deemed annihilated, by attempting to keep up and attack objectives using 3/4 trucks to move sections in. At which point the government bought M113 finally. An exceedingly embarrassing result showing what the potentiel costs will be of a major conflict with a peer/near peer army might be enough to scare and embarrass the government.   

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2018, 20:24:53 »
A Canadian Brigade with minimal antitank weapons, no tactical air defence, no mortars, and towed artillery against a US Armored Brigade Combat Team? The Canadian brigade would be fixed in place and cut to pieces faster than you can say Republican Guard.

You can list a lot of the lessons of modern mechanized warfare without having an expensive exercise. But those lessons aren't popular, because they imply that we need to buy more modern equipment, spend money to train with it, and that previous decisions to divist entire categories of kit were serious errors.

You could make it even more interesting and make it a National Guard Armored Brigade Combat Team like this one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30th_Armored_Brigade_Combat_Team#Current_organization

I'm not entirely sure but I think that this brigade alone probably have as many tanks as the entire Canadian Army. They certainly have more Infantry Fighting Vehicles, self propelled howitzers, and self propelled 120 mm mortars.



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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2018, 20:37:49 »
That's an old organization of an ABCT.  The updated version has even more tanks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_combat_team#/media/File:ABCT.png

There are 6 companies of tanks in each ABCT, and the US Army has 10 Active Duty and 5 NG ABCTs.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2018, 22:06:49 »
That's an old organization of an ABCT.  The updated version has even more tanks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_combat_team#/media/File:ABCT.png

There are 6 companies of tanks in each ABCT, and the US Army has 10 Active Duty and 5 NG ABCTs.

You're right. The diagram is an older one but I'm not sure that all NG ABCTs have gone to the full establishment yet (if ever - incidentally I note the diagram mentions 4 company combined arms battalions but the text discusses 3 coys) For example the 30th ABCT in North Carolina only has two manouvre battalions with a total of four tank and four Bradly companies while the 155th in Mississippi and the 1st ABCT 34 ID in Minnesota each has two mechanized combined arms bns with a total of 4 tank and 4 Bradley companies and a straight infantry bn (I think the Inf bns are not mechanized). The 116th Cavalry BCT from the Idaho/Oregon/Montana NGs has two Cavalry combined arms battalions (of two tank and two Bradley companies each). The 81st ABCT in Washington has become a Stryker brigade.

My quick review of Active Army ABCTs seems to show 3 bns of 2 + 2 Coys each.

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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2018, 22:15:53 »
Good day all,

I wanted to find a way to pass on everything I had surmised over the last 2 years. The LAV Captain is a position that is shrouded in a bit of mystery. It's treated as an Ops Capt in garrison (a good tangent is why this is wrong, in my opinion) and how to utilize him/her in the field outside of a combat team's advance-to-contact is a little up in the air.

For your reading pleasure, and any and all commentary / feedback / discussion generated from this is very much appreciated. I am particularly interested here what some of the tankers have to say.

I submitted the article to the Inf Corps Newsletter in 3 parts due to its length. I'm also posting it in 3 parts due to the topics covered, to keep the threads organized.

I'm still astonished that our doctrine has gigantic 'non-Marder/BMP type' APCs rolling up onto the objective before the troops dismount, especially given the number of RPGs in even 'third world' armies.
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Re: Lessons Learned by a LAV Captain - Defense
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2018, 01:08:39 »
I'm still astonished that our doctrine has gigantic 'non-Marder/BMP type' APCs rolling up onto the objective before the troops dismount, especially given the number of RPGs in even 'third world' armies.

Dogma is.. dogmatic.

At the same time I posted these articles, I posted the one by Maj Cole Petersen addressing exactly that, so that specific discussion was being had here if you are interested.. https://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,127041.0.html
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