Author Topic: The Brigade Fight  (Read 870 times)

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Offline Haligonian

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The Brigade Fight
« on: March 13, 2019, 20:43:38 »
Recently I've been thinking about how we want our brigade's to fight.  Now, that may seem laughable in some ways due to the fact that we have no recent experience in deploying an actual CMBG and our CMBG's aren't really resourced to fight as a formed formation.  Having said this, the army says that a brigade is a fighting formation and we train them as such during UNIFIED RESOLVE and, depending on the year, at MAPLE RESOLVE.

In the past few weeks I've had a conversation with one of our brigade commanders on his experiences thus far, read Close Engagement, and read an article on US brigades going through JRTC (https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2018/Oct-Dec/pdf/11_Buzzard_BDE.pdf) and compared that against an article written by MGen Julian Thompson on his time as Comd 3 Cdo Bde in the Falklands as well as my own correspondence with him.

What the Bde Comd told me was that you can fight a Bde as a big Bn or a small division.  I thought that was an interesting approach to answering the question of how a Brigade should fight. 

The Canadian Army view is that the Bde is the first level where JIMP actions can take place.  The US article above talks about effective Bde's not getting fixated on the "shiny object" of the close fight.  They should work in conjunction with Div/Corps/JTF to fight the deep battle.  This deep fight sets conditions for success in the close fight and the Bde enables this success through the deep fight, provision of enablers, RAS and reconnaissance to identify the enemy main effort and vulnerabilities.  Lastly the Bde should be managing transitions from tactical activity to the next.  The Canadian philosophy maybe even more demanding in that the HQ needs to be able to integrate all the potential JIMP assets, and people/personalities.  This in my opinion is a description of the "small Div" approach.

Alternately, once 3 Cdo Bde was landed and shed its requirement for dealing directly with the HQ back in the UK it was very much focussed on tactical execution in the close fight.  It had little if any deep fight.  What I think is most telling is the small size of 3 Cdo Bde's HQ, the speed of its decision making and planning, and the activities of its commander.  Comd 3 Cdo Bde would move forward with a recce group, similar to a BG Comd's recce grp, to conduct personal reconnaissance of the ground and enemy before pursuing a decision making process that is fairly similar to our Battle Procedure drill.  I would also look at brigades, both US and UK, in Desert Storm that advanced in formations as a formed whole and executed battle drills.  I would suggest that this is an example of the "big Bn" approach.

I don't think there is any one right way.  It's a matter of what is expected of that brigade and its headquarters to achieve and how large it is, particularly what enablers it has organically or attached.  Theoretically, we could take away the JIMP requirements from the Bdes and place them with 1 Cdn Div.  I think this approach would be more in synch with our allies, however, if we're sceptical about a deploying Bde then deploying 1 Cdn Div seems just as or even less likely.  What I'm thinking right now is that the JIMP enabled Bde that integrates all these enablers and can operate dispersed over a large area of operations is likely the worst case scenario so we should aim to be prepared for that (we've been ordered to anyway).  The risk of this is that Bde HQ's are likely to be too big, slow, and vulnerable to operate against a more capable opponent.
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2019, 19:44:47 »
An interesting approach to be sure, but does Canada even have sufficient "enablers" attached to a Brigade to fight as the "Small Division"? If we think a good day at Maple Resolve is when 8 tanks are actually running, and most of the enablers are in similar shape then maybe we need to sit back for a moment.

While a Bde HQ may have the intellectual horsepower to handle the JIMP people and enablers, if they don't actually exist in any useful quantities then maybe we should take the more realistic "Big Battalion" option instead.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 19:53:46 »
Recently I've been thinking about how we want our brigade's to fight.  Now, that may seem laughable in some ways due to the fact that we have no recent experience in deploying an actual CMBG and our CMBG's aren't really resourced to fight as a formed formation.  Having said this, the army says that a brigade is a fighting formation and we train them as such during UNIFIED RESOLVE and, depending on the year, at MAPLE RESOLVE.

In the past few weeks I've had a conversation with one of our brigade commanders on his experiences thus far, read Close Engagement, and read an article on US brigades going through JRTC (https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2018/Oct-Dec/pdf/11_Buzzard_BDE.pdf) and compared that against an article written by MGen Julian Thompson on his time as Comd 3 Cdo Bde in the Falklands as well as my own correspondence with him.

What the Bde Comd told me was that you can fight a Bde as a big Bn or a small division.  I thought that was an interesting approach to answering the question of how a Brigade should fight. 

The Canadian Army view is that the Bde is the first level where JIMP actions can take place.  The US article above talks about effective Bde's not getting fixated on the "shiny object" of the close fight.  They should work in conjunction with Div/Corps/JTF to fight the deep battle.  This deep fight sets conditions for success in the close fight and the Bde enables this success through the deep fight, provision of enablers, RAS and reconnaissance to identify the enemy main effort and vulnerabilities.  Lastly the Bde should be managing transitions from tactical activity to the next.  The Canadian philosophy maybe even more demanding in that the HQ needs to be able to integrate all the potential JIMP assets, and people/personalities.  This in my opinion is a description of the "small Div" approach.

Alternately, once 3 Cdo Bde was landed and shed its requirement for dealing directly with the HQ back in the UK it was very much focussed on tactical execution in the close fight.  It had little if any deep fight.  What I think is most telling is the small size of 3 Cdo Bde's HQ, the speed of its decision making and planning, and the activities of its commander.  Comd 3 Cdo Bde would move forward with a recce group, similar to a BG Comd's recce grp, to conduct personal reconnaissance of the ground and enemy before pursuing a decision making process that is fairly similar to our Battle Procedure drill.  I would also look at brigades, both US and UK, in Desert Storm that advanced in formations as a formed whole and executed battle drills.  I would suggest that this is an example of the "big Bn" approach.

I don't think there is any one right way.  It's a matter of what is expected of that brigade and its headquarters to achieve and how large it is, particularly what enablers it has organically or attached.  Theoretically, we could take away the JIMP requirements from the Bdes and place them with 1 Cdn Div.  I think this approach would be more in synch with our allies, however, if we're sceptical about a deploying Bde then deploying 1 Cdn Div seems just as or even less likely.  What I'm thinking right now is that the JIMP enabled Bde that integrates all these enablers and can operate dispersed over a large area of operations is likely the worst case scenario so we should aim to be prepared for that (we've been ordered to anyway).  The risk of this is that Bde HQ's are likely to be too big, slow, and vulnerable to operate against a more capable opponent.

With as much artillery as you can muster... and the ammo.

If there's one thing I heard from the guys who were in 3 Cdo Bde during the Falklands War, you need lots of firepower to move those BGps around without getting pinned to the mat by the opposition.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Haligonian

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 20:46:37 »
I have no doubt you’re right.  I think whether you’re fighting “big battalions” or “little Divs” our Bde’s need more fire power starting with more artillery.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 21:19:44 »
I have no doubt you’re right.  I think whether you’re fighting “big battalions” or “little Divs” our Bde’s need more fire power starting with more artillery.

I think, as a result of our many years of COIN ops, we have become enamoured with air support at the expense of artillery. But, in a 'real punch up' of course, artillery is still the Biggest Battlefield Bully 24/7 good weather or bad, and we need way more of it to do the business properly.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline MCG

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2019, 22:46:57 »
Viewing this as a choice between “big battalions” or “little divisions” is probably an over simplification. I think a lot of factors dictate what need or need not be in a brigade’s sphere of influence and control.

In a near peer fight, the brigade needs to be able to really focous its attention on its assigned fight. It cannot do that if it is also CIMICing/IAing every encounterd town and village as it advances up the trace (that CIMIC and IA have become usable as verbs is telling of other problems).

But, if we are in a theatre with massive overmatch but conducting operations with relatively few dispersed troops, then the brigade has the time (if given the appropriate staff) to manage more of the problems in its battle space.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 11:12:25 »
Viewing this as a choice between “big battalions” or “little divisions” is probably an over simplification. I think a lot of factors dictate what need or need not be in a brigade’s sphere of influence and control.

In a near peer fight, the brigade needs to be able to really focous its attention on its assigned fight. It cannot do that if it is also CIMICing/IAing every encounterd town and village as it advances up the trace (that CIMIC and IA have become usable as verbs is telling of other problems).

But, if we are in a theatre with massive overmatch but conducting operations with relatively few dispersed troops, then the brigade has the time (if given the appropriate staff) to manage more of the problems in its battle space.

How to Fight - the Tank/ Mech Infantry Team

Slightly cheesy, impressive 70s mustaches, but some timeless lessons about the combined arms team:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uc-wTlD-_U

"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Haligonian

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 22:30:33 »
Viewing this as a choice between “big battalions” or “little divisions” is probably an over simplification. I think a lot of factors dictate what need or need not be in a brigade’s sphere of influence and control.

In a near peer fight, the brigade needs to be able to really focous its attention on its assigned fight. It cannot do that if it is also CIMICing/IAing every encounterd town and village as it advances up the trace (that CIMIC and IA have become usable as verbs is telling of other problems).

But, if we are in a theatre with massive overmatch but conducting operations with relatively few dispersed troops, then the brigade has the time (if given the appropriate staff) to manage more of the problems in its battle space.

Agreed.  I think "big battalions" and "little divisions" are opposite ends of a spectrum and any particular approach is situated somewhere along that spectrum.  I'd say US Bde's may sit somewhere in the middle, maybe a little on the big battalion side due to the fact that I don't think they are worried about the joint, interagency, and public part so much, whereas our aspirational ideas for our Bde's sound like they are closer to the little div.

How to Fight - the Tank/ Mech Infantry Team

Slightly cheesy, impressive 70s mustaches, but some timeless lessons about the combined arms team:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uc-wTlD-_U

"Lethality, it means deadliness."

Hahaha.  I love these.  Gen DePuy would have been very please with this LCol as he had obviously read the 1976 version of FM 100-5 Operations.  The British ones, like "Fighting in Woods", are the best but this one was good too.

Offline FJAG

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Re: The Brigade Fight
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2019, 00:55:11 »
How to Fight - the Tank/ Mech Infantry Team

Slightly cheesy, impressive 70s mustaches, but some timeless lessons about the combined arms team:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uc-wTlD-_U

Boy those Centurions, M113s, M109s and mustaches sure bring back memories.  ;D

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