Author Topic: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?  (Read 842 times)

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Online tomahawk6

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Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« on: April 17, 2020, 12:33:29 »
The organization we used to defeat Iraq was a cold war organization that generally worked well. The light forces we used to invade Afghanistan worked. I like a mix of light, heavy and medium forces. This has to include the National Guard which will be used to reinforce the regular army. I would like to see a larger regular Army to ease the strains on both the active and reserve forces.The active force was centered around 16-18 divisions plus a few separate brigades. Recruiting for a large force might not be sustainable if we had a full employment economy.

https://warontherocks.com/2020/04/is-the-infantry-brigade-combat-team-becoming-obsolete/

Online FJAG

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Re: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2020, 15:06:42 »
The organization we used to defeat Iraq was a cold war organization that generally worked well. The light forces we used to invade Afghanistan worked. I like a mix of light, heavy and medium forces. This has to include the National Guard which will be used to reinforce the regular army. I would like to see a larger regular Army to ease the strains on both the active and reserve forces.The active force was centered around 16-18 divisions plus a few separate brigades. Recruiting for a large force might not be sustainable if we had a full employment economy.

https://warontherocks.com/2020/04/is-the-infantry-brigade-combat-team-becoming-obsolete/

Not sure how much I agree with these changes. Superficially they look interesting but in detail are less dramatic improvements than the loss of a full battalion of infantry would justify.

IMHO the future role of the IBCT is defence of complex terrain such as urbanized areas of Europe as well as a force capable of rapidly deploying into low and moderate conflicts in less developed regions.

I agree that air defence is an issue but that doesn't mean the air defence assets need to be organic to the brigade. The revival of US AD concepts are rapidly evolving and conceptually there will always be air defence assets allocated to BCTs that have a need. With AD a Div or higher resource there is more flexibility in assigning resources where needed rather than parking them in BCTs that might be unengaged.

The past adding of an engineer company and reflagging the special troops battalion as an engineer battalion was a good one. Shoving the signals company and intelligence company into the Engineer bn was simply for logistical convenience and does not impede the Engr bn's primary "engineer" functions. The author's intent is to reform the Special Troops Bn, return the signals and MI function to it and add an electronic warfare company. The US Army reduced its EW capabilities after the cold war and is now in the process of redefining/rebuilding its EW resources including adding a platoon to the BCT's MI company. Greater resources will be available at the Div and Corps level with integrated MI/EW battalions and brigades. For any specialized resource like this flexibility in deployment is an advantage so that too many resources are not left unused by being locked into organic and unengaged formations. I'm not sure whether an IBCT (especially a two battalion one) needs a full EW company. Time will tell as the resource is developed and tested further.

Adding engineer resources would be useful, but in the suggested organization only one sapper platoon is being added. I'm not sure that justifies losing an infantry battalion.

There is a big uptick in reconnaissance resources by increasing the cavalry squadron from two mounted troops and two dismounted platoons to three and three. While the increase in reconnaissance and security capabilities are worthwhile, I'm not sure they justify by the reduction of one third of the IBCT's maeouvre/combat capability.

Upping the two remaining battalions' weapons companies from one to two each is interesting but all in all, each company goes from four platoons to three. In other words the current IBCT's twelve weapons platoons remain unchanged merely transitioning from three companies in three infantry battalions to four in two battalions.

Long story short, I see very little improvement within the IBCT's capabilities (except some increase in reconnaissance capability) to justify the loss of a full infantry battalion. Lets not forget that with the loss of that battalion the brigade also loses: one infantry scout platoon, one third of its mortars (one platoon of 4x120mm/81mm and 6x60mm with the rifle companies), and 9 rifle company weapons squads with 2xJavelins each not to mention three rifle companies and the ability to hold additional terrain or the ability to develop a better defence in depth.

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2020, 15:20:31 »
Not sure how much I agree with these changes. Superficially they look interesting but in detail are less dramatic improvements than the loss of a full battalion of infantry would justify.

IMHO the future role of the IBCT is defence of complex terrain such as urbanized areas of Europe as well as a force capable of rapidly deploying into low and moderate conflicts in less developed regions.

I agree that air defence is an issue but that doesn't mean the air defence assets need to be organic to the brigade. The revival of US AD concepts are rapidly evolving and conceptually there will always be air defence assets allocated to BCTs that have a need. With AD a Div or higher resource there is more flexibility in assigning resources where needed rather than parking them in BCTs that might be unengaged.

The past adding of an engineer company and reflagging the special troops battalion as an engineer battalion was a good one. Shoving the signals company and intelligence company into the Engineer bn was simply for logistical convenience and does not impede the Engr bn's primary "engineer" functions. The author's intent is to reform the Special Troops Bn, return the signals and MI function to it and add an electronic warfare company. The US Army reduced its EW capabilities after the cold war and is now in the process of redefining/rebuilding its EW resources including adding a platoon to the BCT's MI company. Greater resources will be available at the Div and Corps level with integrated MI/EW battalions and brigades. For any specialized resource like this flexibility in deployment is an advantage so that too many resources are not left unused by being locked into organic and unengaged formations. I'm not sure whether an IBCT (especially a two battalion one) needs a full EW company. Time will tell as the resource is developed and tested further.

Adding engineer resources would be useful, but in the suggested organization only one sapper platoon is being added. I'm not sure that justifies losing an infantry battalion.

There is a big uptick in reconnaissance resources by increasing the cavalry squadron from two mounted troops and two dismounted platoons to three and three. While the increase in reconnaissance and security capabilities are worthwhile, I'm not sure they justify by the reduction of one third of the IBCT's maeouvre/combat capability.

Upping the two remaining battalions' weapons companies from one to two each is interesting but all in all, each company goes from four platoons to three. In other words the current IBCT's twelve weapons platoons remain unchanged merely transitioning from three companies in three infantry battalions to four in two battalions.

Long story short, I see very little improvement within the IBCT's capabilities (except some increase in reconnaissance capability) to justify the loss of a full infantry battalion. Lets not forget that with the loss of that battalion the brigade also loses: one infantry scout platoon, one third of its mortars (one platoon of 4x120mm/81mm and 6x60mm with the rifle companies), and 9 rifle company weapons squads with 2xJavelins each not to mention three rifle companies and the ability to hold additional terrain or the ability to develop a better defence in depth.

 :cheers:

Less Infantry? In a fight with peer-near peer foes the Infantry casualties could mount much more quickly than in previous conflicts.

All your other fancy 'doo dads' won't help you much if that happens :)
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Online FJAG

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Re: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2020, 15:36:25 »
Less Infantry? In a fight with peer-near peer foes the Infantry casualties could mount much more quickly than in previous conflicts.

All your other fancy 'doo dads' won't help you much if that happens :)

The author is a young seven year infantry captain who has served in both IBCT and SBCT units. Interestingly, in 2018 he wrote a fictionalized account of a future war in Europe where 20th century tactics come face to face with 21st century weaponry and tactics.

https://www.amazon.com/War-Yet-Come-Future-Battlefield-ebook/dp/B07M68BDL5

His problem, I think, is that he loses touch with the higher level resources that should support an engaged IBCT. He wants those organically within the IBCT and is prepared to give up a whole battalion to do that. Trouble is that he gains very little but gives up a lot!

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Online tomahawk6

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Re: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 15:55:17 »
The trend in the Army to reduce the number of infantry which some feel can be tolerated with more firepower. Coming from the infantry I do not agree with an infantry brigade that has less an. Perhaps the author might have adjusted his TOE with an additional infantry company or perhaps an extra platoon per rifle company ? During Vietnam we saw 800 man infantry battalions and 5 rifle battalions per brigade. Of course we were fighting an asymmetrical enemy in jungle terrain. Post-war we saw fewer infantry to save money to buy less transports and then fewer M113's an then Bradleys. As a platoon leader I saw what bean counters can do. We were on an exercise with the requirement to lift an infantry battalion with only an aviation platoon to do the task. It took hours to lift about 800 troops. Good thing it wasn't a shooting war.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Is The Infantry Brigade Becoming Obsolete ?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2020, 16:40:28 »
FJAG kind of nailed my points.

The article isn't that great in my view - the title is a minomer, as it isn't arguing that the Brigade is obsolete, but that the composition of the Brigade should be changed.  But then he doesn't really give a compelling argument as to why the third manoeuvre battalion from the TO&E, only that the personnel need to be harvested for other capabilities.  But in doing this, he never explores whether these effects are actually needed or whether they can or should be provided by an outside organization.
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