Author Topic: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms  (Read 42393 times)

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Offline Infanteer

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The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« on: September 08, 2004, 23:44:59 »
With all the chatter around these forums about a merged combat Arms branch, the "plug-and-play" dismemberment of single arm battalions, etc, etc, I thought I'd put forward the following proposal that seemed to make alot of sense to me as a starting place for a good discussion on unit organization.

For a while now I've been a a believer in the fact that the speed and lethality of new weapons platforms is inversely related to the command level in which combined arms is effectively utilized at.   Look at the general historical trends:

1750: Main Combined Arms Formation is the Field Army, the indivisible fighting force of a European Dynast.
1815: Main Combined Arms Formation is the Napoleonic Corps
1915: Main Combined Arms Formation is the Division
1943: Main Combined Arms Formation is the German Kampfgruppe (which the Americans used as Regimental Combat Teams) which is roughly Brigade level in Size.

Col Douglas MacGregor, in his book Breaking the Phalanx, has advocated that the next generation of technology necessitates organizing combined arms formations at the battalion level.   Transcribed to Canadian lingo, within a Combat Brigade there would be three "Maneuver Battalions"; each of which consists of

1 x HHS (Command and Admin + 120 MM mortars)
2 x Mechanized Infantry Companies
2 x Armoured Squadrons
1 x Combat Engineer Squadron

As well as having three, balanced Maneuver battalions, the Combat Brigade Commander has his Strike Battalion, which consists of UAVs, Artillery (rockets and guns) and perhaps Aviation assets.   The point is that the Brigade can combine to form a powerful fighting formation or it can break up to become cohesive and yet destructive all-arms units that slash deep into the enemy rear and flanks.

Perhaps we could move the same logic to a Light Infantry Battalion.   The change wouldn't be as dramatic as a "Heavy Maneuver" battalion, because our Infantry battalions were doctrinally designed for combined operations (stemming from WWI trench warfare).  You could have the Light Infantry Battalion consist of:

1 x HHC (Command, Admin, 81 mm Mortars)
3 x Light Infantry Companies
1 x Combat Engineer Troop
1 x Air Assault Squadron (2 x Transport Helo Troop, 1 x Attack Helo Troop, 1x HHT with support)

The Light Infantry Brigade would have, like the Heavy Maneuver Brigade, its own "Strike Battalion" which consisted of Aviation Assets and light, air-portable artillery systems.   Of course, this unit is a little more distant from current realities due to intimate demands for Army Aviation support, but I put forth the notion anyways.

Perhaps both these battalion level units would be under one regimental affiliation, numbered or named - it doesn't matter, in order to reaffirm the notion that they were a single combined arms force.   As Michael Dorosh said, it is experience and training that engenders cohesion, but by bringing all these combined arm soldiers into one regimental family, we can avoid the branch parochialism that would naturally ensue.   I think this caters to the notion of the USMC "Marine First" notion we've seen in other threads in that the loyalty is to the unit first, and then to ones branch or specialty.  

As well, I think this also fits in with PBI's proposal for a single Combat Arms branch, which we could title the "Combined Arms"; a common doctrine would derived that incorporated all fighting forces within the unit level to employ combined arms at tactically, while the fact that all these former branches were organic to each other would mean greater familiarity, cohesion, and understanding of the combined arms battle.

Of course, this would require a different approach to training our commanders.   From the get go, Officers of all the Combat Arms fields would have to be very familiar with each other, Lance Wiebe can further expound on this idea.   Lieutenant Colonels must be prepared to command combined arms units consisting a all branches; if from the Infantry, he must understand the employment of his Engineer sub-unit.   We do this with our Brigade Commanders, now we must force it down a level on our unit commanders.

The strengths are obvious; a battalion on the "ready to be deployed stage" could form 2 or so "combined arms teams" from his battalion if a Small Scale Contingency required a smaller force (such as the current ISAF mission, or Haiti).   Even at the larger level, we could avoid having to scratch together units from various battalions and regiments to form a single battlegroup (such as was done for the 3 PPCLI battlegroup that deployed on OP Apollo), thus reducing the Army wide turbulence experienced from a single battlegroup deployment.

The kicker of the proposal is that the equipment used is irrelevant.   The organizational structure is keyed to the general level of technology of todays combat systems and is formulated to take advantage of the fact that smaller and smaller units can control a greater amount of both time and space on the battlefield.   By moving combined arms down, we can ensure that commanders have the greatest amount of assets to control this time and space with.   Of course, this would require an overhaul of the way we organize our equipment, train our soldiers and officers, manage careers, and operate our doctrine; something that I think alot of "leaders" are afraid to wrap their gray matter around.

Comments - Criticism?

Cheers,
Infanteer
« Last Edit: January 06, 2005, 20:15:24 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

Offline Lance Wiebe

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2004, 05:41:33 »
Along with thousands of others, I have had thoughts on this.  I truly admire the German system, where, at Battalion level, the "opposit" arm is well represented.  By that I mean a Panzer Battalion equipped with Leo 2 will also have a company of Panzer Grenadiers mounted in Marder.  The Germans also go to great lengths is ensuring the capabilities, duties and responsibilities of the other arm is known, down to the crew commander level.  A few years ago, I was at the German Armour School in Kassel.  In house were a group of Panzer Grenadiers, who had just completed their Marder commander/section commander course.  They were at the Armour School for a mini course on commanding the Leo 2.  The course was about ten days long, and culminated with range work, first with the BT46, then with live fire.  Panzer commanders do the same thing at the Infantry School with Marders and sections.  The idea is that even at the lowest levels of command, everyone knows the strengths and weaknesses of the other arm.

I have also been reading with some interest about the US new Units of Action. (UA).  Here, Battalions will consist of four companies, two Infantry and two Armour.  The entire idea of which is to lower the level of integration of arms from the Brigade to the Battalion level.  In the past, some may remember being in Germany, and spending quite a bit of time learning to operate as combat teams.  I was in A Sqn, which meant I always worked with the Vandoos.  I never truly appreciated how well 4CMBG was trained in this, when all of a sudden, the RCR were replaced with the PPCLI.  Bless them, the poor PPLCI had next to no experience in working as a combat team.  How could they?  The nearest tanks to them, when they were in Canada, were in Gagetown.  A very steep learning curve, a year later they were still learning.  My point?  Obviously, if we had integrated arms at Battalion level, we would be practicing far more, and would have much greater understanding of the workings, and how to work with the other arm.

There is also a bit of a downside, at least with us.  In the German army, the Marder, although it shares some commonality with the tank, still needs especially trained maintenance unit, an echelon that has to carry different ammunition and munitions, and so on.  The US Army has even more of a handicap, where there is virtually no commonality, aside from POL products.  In our army?  Well, we have no Armour Corps left, so the UA model would seem to be kind of silly.

But now I must sign off and go to work.  Hopefully we will see some more posts on this!
"It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who served beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag." - Charles M. Province

Offline 2FtOnion

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2004, 21:13:16 »
For Combined Arms units to be really effective, the unit needs to have cohesion, (so the unit can't just be assembled in Country), More importantly all aspects of the combined Arms needs to be under one Commander,
Take for example a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) The MEU Colonel has under his command:
HQ Element: Intel, SF, ANGLICO  
A Ground Combat Element:   Infantry Battalion, Tank Plt, AAV Plt, LAV Plt, Artillery Batt,
Air Combat Element:   Heavy Lift (CH-53), Medium Lift (CH-46), CC (Huey's), Close Air Support (Harriers and Cobras)
Support Element: Maint Plt, Eng Plt, MP Plt, Motor T PLT+, Supply Plt, Comm Plt

All of this is under one Colonel, a completely self contained Unit with supplies for combat operations for 2 weeks, Plus the unit trains for one year for a 6 month float, with desert ops, 3 amphibious ops, urban ops, HAO, NEO's, TRAPS,

I am biased but MEU's really are model for combined arms and Rapid Reaction Forces: My point is, for combine arms to be effective all elements needs to be under one Commander.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2004, 23:21:33 by 2FtOnion »
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Offline pbi

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2004, 23:12:35 »
In my opinion, in an Army of our size, with the procurement decisions we have taken, the maintenance of separate Branches of the Combat Arms, not to mention"pure" units, is a luxury that is not only unaffordable but produces litte real benefit. I say keep the MOCs and the needed skill sets, build battalion-sized permanently grouped units as part of a single Combat Branch, with solid Infantry trainiing as the basis for all skill sets, and get on with it. Sort out a Regimental system that supports cohesion and esprit, but remember that the Regtl system is a support, not an end-state. Focus on effects and capabilities, not on inter-Branch squabbling and job protection. Armoured direct and indirect fire systems, towed direct and indirect fire systems, armoured recce systems, ISTAR systems, MANPADS, etc  have been and are being operated by Infantry soldiers in other armies or in ours. We don't need separate branches to take care of those combat functions. I agree fully with the writer who proposed the MEU(SOC) model. Cheers.
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Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2004, 01:42:01 »
I think we must also accept that it impossible to structure our Army into battle groups that will be ready for any eventuality.  There will always be additional elements that have to be added specific to the mission.  Contrasting PSOs to warfighting can best draw out some of the contrasting capability needs (which do we structure for?). 

I've read arguments by many members of the infantry and armour that belive the two can coexist within a single battalion, and I agree.  Certainly, we could also plug engineers and artillery into these battalions and expect them to perform the jobs of pioneers and mortars, but in doing so we are imparing our capabilities elswhere (and possibly destroying any ability to function at the formation level).  I think that we should retain artillery and engineer "pure" units and content ourselves with combining what are called the manouver arms in the US.

I'll ask the question to the floor -  At what level is unit cohesion most important; the unit level (between unit & sub unit HQs), the sub unit level (between sub-unit and sub-sub unit HQs), or the sub-sub unit level (within Platoons, Troops, and the sections they are built from)?


Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2004, 03:00:50 »
Quote
I'll ask the question to the floor -  At what level is unit cohesion most important; the unit level (between unit & sub unit HQs), the sub unit level (between sub-unit and sub-sub unit HQs), or the sub-sub unit level (within Platoons, Troops, and the sections they are built from)?


Can I ask another question?  At what level is independent action going to occur?  Are Sections, Platoons, Companies or Battalions likely to be tasked to activities where there is no available mutual support?

Wouldn't that have a bearing on the type of cohesion you are looking for?
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Offline pbi

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2004, 07:31:05 »
Quote
Can I ask another question?   At what level is independent action going to occur?   Are Sections, Platoons, Companies or Battalions likely to be tasked to activities where there is no available mutual support

This is akin to asking "how long is a piece of rope". For example, here in Afgh CJTF76 US battalions are employing companies and sometimes platoons in widely dispersed operations that vary from combat to SASO (Security and Stability Ops). These sub-units are augmented by SF, Cbt Engr, EOD, MP dog teams, AH, mortars, or whatever is required to get the mission done.   The nature of the theatre further demands that these forces be able to transition quickly to other types of ops. I just finished a meeting with the CO of a tank battalion who will deploy his soldiers as dismounts or HMMVW elements, down to coy/pl if needed. In our army, we have long been preaching, training and doing similar things. So, to me, the nature of conflict today prevents a nice tidy answer to this.

Quote
I'll ask the question to the floor -   At what level is unit cohesion most important; the unit level (between unit & sub unit HQs), the sub unit level (between sub-unit and sub-sub unit HQs), or the sub-sub unit level (within Platoons, Troops, and the sections they are built from)?

IMHO it is a must-have up to coy/sqn/bty. At cbt tm/BG, it is a strong "should-have" that can only be deleted as a calculated risk. At Bde it is almost meaningless because the size of the formation exceeds the normal span of human contacts; only a few people, normally officers, ever work closely together across the entire Bde. This is why, IMHO, some armies such as our own and US place greater emphasis on field exercises at battalion and below, while formations are rarely fielded for exercises. (Cost, of course, has alot to do with it..) Most of the relationships and interactions that matter at Bde and above can be developed through CPX or CAX. Cheers.
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2004, 00:59:18 »
There are some interesting proposals here. I would, however, propose a word of caution on the Artillery side.   Before I OT'd to Nav in 1997, I was an Artillery Officer for 9 years (mostly Air Defence, but some Field Artillery, too).   The most important thing that I ever learned tactically was during my Artillery Staff Duties Course- the power of massing Artillery and applying it where and when a Div or Corp commander needs it most.   It has an effect on the battlefield that is out of all proportion to the size of the forces involved.   Coordinating fire from many Battalions and Regiments is hard work and requires a bunch of training and experience.   Maybe technology and warfare has moved on since I left the army.   Maybe the "paradigm" has fully shifted.   Maybe we can break up Artillery Regiments and place gun batteries within "all-arms battalions" now.   You may wish to think carefully about how you would bring all that firepower back under the control of a Div or Corp commander, if he really needed it- ie, where is the FSCC going to be?   Manned by whom? If a Bde or Div commander can call for a fire from a Bn sub-unit at his whim, does the Bn commander really exercise full command?  Or do we just say that we will never fire more than 6 guns at one target, at once? These are not insignificant issues.

On the AD side, there is no real reason why infantry soldiers can't fire Manpads missiles- lots of armies do it that way. However, with AD weapons comes the responsibility for Airspace Coordination.   If you don't have air space coordination, you don't get air support, because most air force guys are allergic to being shot down by a friendly missile or running into a friendly artillery round.   Again, airspace coordination is not easy- after nine years of practise and an Instructor-In-Gunnery course, I was just starting to get the hang of it.  If you do decide to go that route- do not forget your ASCC!

 It is not easy to see how expertise in the trickier aspects of army warfare (ie engineers, artillery) would be preserved in the a battalion structure that would have a little bit of everything in it.   The Bn CO would have to know great deal (which implies a training bill that I can't even begin to comprehend) as I'm not sure that he would have the quality advice from his experienced arms advisors (arty, engineer, and aviation) that he gets today.

I do like the fact that you are all proposing that aviation resources get more imbedded into the structure.   This is essentially the model we use in the Maritime Helicopter world with the Navy- we are integral to the ship/task group once we sail.   And it works.

I like the fact that this debate is happening- it is really healthy to deconstruct the organization that you work in and continually ask- how can we do things better?   I wish such a bulletin board existed in the Air Force.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2004, 03:31:08 »
Quote
The most important thing that I ever learned tactically was during my Artillery Staff Duties Course- the power of massing Artillery and applying it where and when a Div or Corp commander needs it most.  It has an effect on the battlefield that is out of all proportion to the size of the forces involved.  Coordinating fire from many Battalions and Regiments is hard work and requires a bunch of training and experience.

Hmm...seems like the ghosts of McNaughton and Crerar are still on our operational backs....

Quote
Maybe we can break up Artillery Regiments and place gun batteries within "all-arms battalions" now.  You may wish to think carefully about how you would bring all that firepower back under the control of a Div or Corp commander, if he really needed it- ie, where is the FSCC going to be?  Manned by whom? If a Bde or Div commander can call for a fire from a Bn sub-unit at his whim, does the Bn commander really exercise full command?  Or do we just say that we will never fire more than 6 guns at one target, at once? These are not insignificant issues.

Perhaps others have, but in my proposal above, I never advocated such a measure.  A Combat Brigade Group, as I have drawn from MacGregor, would involve three combined arms battalions (with their own integral 120mm mortars), a strike battalion (essentially an artillery battalion with UAV and rocket assets), and additional air, engineer, and logistical assets.

Obviously (despite what NDHQ planners may want to believe) firepower hasn't devolved to the point where the Battalion is the operational unit on the battlefield.  The Brigade Commander will still need its supporting assets to bring in the necessary firepower to support any opportunities that the maneuver units in the "combined arms" battalions have exploited.

Quote
Again, airspace coordination is not easy- after nine years of practise and an Instructor-In-Gunnery course, I was just starting to get the hang of it. If you do decide to go that route- do not forget your ASCC!

Agree with you there as well; infact, MacGregor has argued for a new staff position within formations labelled the "Strike Officer".  Essentially, the Forward Observer coordinator.  Since firepower can come from so many places (this is an American proposal, so we are talking about Naval assets, CAS, bombers, MLRS, artillery, UAVs, Tac Helo, etc, etc) the Brigade "Strike Officer" has the job of coordinating and deconflicting all this heavy metal (I hoped I explained this well enough to express MacGregor's idea; I'll recheck the book).

Cheers,
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

Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2004, 19:05:30 »
... A Combat Brigade Group, as I have drawn from MacGregor, would involve three combined arms battalions (with their own integral 120mm mortars), a strike battalion (essentially an artillery battalion with UAV and rocket assets), and additional air, engineer, and logistical assets.
This sounds like our CMBGs but with the armoured regiment and two mech battalions replaced by three manouver battalions (the light Bn probably removed to a light Bde).

Our FSCC, working closely with the ASCC, does what MacGregor's "Strike Officer" would do.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2004, 20:24:24 »
Quote
This sounds like our CMBGs but with the armoured regiment and two mech battalions replaced by three manouver battalions (the light Bn probably removed to a light Bde).

Yes and no.  MacGregor, when proposing his formation organization, uses the French and British (and by extention, Canadian) organization to show that America's allies have already moved the essential Unit of Action from Division to Brigade level.  However, MacGregor goes a step further by moving the level of the combined arms team down to the battalion level (which is the thrust of this thread), whereas we still maintain "pure" branch units at the battalion level.  I think this is the more difficult of the two to implement, and possibly the more far-reaching in scope; as the notion of combined arms begins to enter the realm of tactical thinking as opposed to operational employment (and not in the ad hoc nature that most armies like us do it now ie; Combat Team).

Quote
Our FSCC, working closely with the ASCC, does what MacGregor's "Strike Officer" would do.

I'll dig through the books and see what his idea's were; he had some pretty interesting ideas on staff transformation.
"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: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2004, 23:30:00 »
The most important thing that I ever learned tactically was during my Artillery Staff Duties Course- the power of massing Artillery and applying it where and when a Div or Corp commander needs it most.  It has an effect on the battlefield that is out of all proportion to the size of the forces involved.  Coordinating fire from many Battalions and Regiments is hard work and requires a bunch of training and experience.

Hmm...seems like the ghosts of McNaughton and Crerar are still on our operational backs....

I have often said that the Arty Corps last original thinking came from Gen Leslie's grandfather - in fact I have said that to Gen Leslie...
"The higher the rank, the more necessary it is that boldness should be accompanied by a reflective mind....for with increase in rank it becomes always a matter less of self-sacrifice and more a matter of the preservation of others, and the good of the whole."

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2004, 23:33:54 »
On a more serious note:

Given our training methodology once CMTC is stood up, the development of assymaetrical Bdes, our existing fleet of eqpt, and our critical shortage of Comms eqpt, it appears to me that we have it just about right - we task tailor each deployed oganisation based on it Roles Mission and Tasks.  If we don't or can't change any of the four "givens" outlined above, it strikes me that our course is pretty much set.
"The higher the rank, the more necessary it is that boldness should be accompanied by a reflective mind....for with increase in rank it becomes always a matter less of self-sacrifice and more a matter of the preservation of others, and the good of the whole."

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Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2005, 01:29:10 »
This sounds like our CMBGs but with the armoured regiment and two mech battalions replaced by three manouver battalions (the light Bn probably removed to a light Bde).
Yes and no. ... MacGregor goes a step further by moving the level of the combined arms team down to the battalion level (which is the thrust of this thread), whereas we still maintain "pure" branch units at the battalion level.
I think we are saying the same thing but in different words.  When I wrote "manoeuvre battalion," I could also have wrote "mixed infantry-cavalry battalion."

Offline Chris Pook

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From: ATOF is Broken!
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2005, 01:47:33 »
If we wish to go the plug and play route we should simply create a number Battlegroup sub-units of the Brigade.
1 CMBG would consist of
The First No Fat Latte Irregulars
 which are a Battalion sized unit commanded by an Inf LCol and consists of a HQ
 a Mechanised Inf Coy
 a Light Inf Coy
 a Armoured Surveillance Sqn
 a Inf Recce Pl
 a Mech Engineer Troop
 a Field Amb unit of some sort (perhaps mixed with a brothel ;) )
 a Svc Coy deigned to take care of the needs of the TF...
 and last and least 2 Mortar tubes and a G Wagon crewed by artillery  ::)

 and a few units like them
  King Ralph's Tainted Pheasants etc.


AT least then one could alongside the troops you are expected to go overseas with an work out SOP's etc.
Looks like a plan to me Kevin.

Isn't the concept similar to that used by the CAR?   In conventional battalions companies were pure rifle companies with Mortars, AT and "Recce" (vehicle mounted MGs) concentrated at battalion and parcelled out to the companies as the situation demanded.   In the CAR weren't the support assets held at the Commando (Coy) level and then "Brigaded" when the Regiment fought as a unit and if the situation demanded it?

Why wouldn't the same logic apply here?

Instead of pure units and forming ad hoc task forces as required why not combined units and ad hoc concentrations?   Especially if 8 out of 10 missions are going to be based on the deployment of identical task forces doing identical missions.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2005, 11:48:59 by MCG »
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Offline KevinB

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From: ATOF is Broken!
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2005, 10:33:06 »
Infanteer - I know.  ;)

 I just cant see why the "Movers and Shakers" that think ATOF is "the heat" dont see it.

 Kirkhill - yes in a way but not as fully intergrated as it could/should have been - the CA BtlGp was more turly that concept (E-Bty being 2 RCHA but part of the Btl Gp, same with 2 Tp 2CER and the medic spt etc...)

That way when a tasking comes up - you simply grab the entire unti and DON"T have to plug and play. 
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Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2005, 02:24:09 »
It seems that "unique capabilities" and "centralized capabilities" are becoming the norm in our army as certain capabilities are selected to be massed geographically and reduced in manpower to reflect their usage on operations in our recent history (which were mostly PSOs).  There are a number of things that fall out of this.

Unit cohesion is reduced as TFs are cobbled together from sub-units that are spread across the country and train for the first time on the BTE that will validate them for deployment.  Col (US) Macgregor commented on this very approach in his book "breaking the Phalanx."
Quote
Soldiers and organizations will do in war what they do in peace.  Tactical organizations that have not lived and trained together before they deploy cannot be transformed overnight, on the basis of a single exercise, into a fighting force.

Our capacity to make a meaningful contribution to a high intensity war is greatly reduced.  No longer will each brigade have available its full compliment of anti-armour capabilities (instead the country will have a single pool of TUA that might meet the needs of a single bde, but there will be no remaining equipment to replace losses or train new soldiers).  Forces will now have to choose between mortars or howitzers (instead of the option for both).

TF/BG flexibility is reduced in that we will only deploy specific capabilities task tailored for the mission and its expected environment tasks/events/risks/etc.  This leaves reduced flexibility to respond to unpredicted changes in theatre.  When MGen (retd) Mackenzie addressed the Senate committee on defence in early December 2004, he raised this exact point.  He made specific references to a lack of flexibility in the RCR/R22eR BG that reorganized itself contrary to the standard infantry bn prior to deploying to Croatia and to the inability of our forces to support an ISAF request to expand our AOR outside of Kabul (because the TF was built without the traditional integral military CSS).  According to Mackenzie, the ideal flexibility was held in the traditional infantry battalion with the traditional combat support company.

I think MGen Mackenzie was correct in as far as that the traditional mechanized infantry battalion was the most flexible structure that has existed in the army to date.  However, I think there is room for greater flexibility by (to paraphrase Kirkhill) including more of the elements that will be required for 8 out of 10 operations.  There could be several ways about this:  infantry and armoured units could swap subunits to create a new permanent FG structure or the armd unit could be dissolved and its subunits dispersed into the mechanized battalions (the second option results in fewer but more robust BGs).

However, it may not be appropriate to permanently establish all BG elements within the force generation (FG) unit structure.  Certain elements may require to â Å“return to the mother shipâ ? when back in Canada in order to sustain the full spectrum of their capabilities.  Where this can be demonstrated, those elements should have a FG unit within each brigade (eg CER, Fd Amb, Maint Coy, etc).  By keeping the supporting arms' FG units in the bde, we allow for affiliations and inter-unit training between the manoeuvre units & the supporting sub units and sub-sub units.

We should avoid establishing capabilities as 'unique' if their deployments will not be uncommon.  If the capability does not exist in sufficient numbers to exist in every BG, or if for FG it requires a critical mass much greater than the needs of a BG, then that capability should be established as a CMBG asset (where it can at least be geographically located with most of its supported units and establish regular inter-unit training).  Achieving this would require the Army convert the entire fleet of M113 TUA to LAV III TUA in order to provide enough vehicles to each CMBG.  It may also mean that other elements of the DFS system are not in sufficient numbers.

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2005, 08:22:56 »

Our capacity to make a meaningful contribution to a high intensity war is greatly reduced.

That is a under statement. I would think we have no such contribution what so ever, even the means to get them there is lacking if we did, not even the will of the goverement.

We would be better serverd within the current bounds to keep to peackeeping tasks. Any operations undertaken without support from another capabable army/af would not go well for our forces as they are now.
This trend will keep moving downwards, we need to look at this in the world we are currently in, can't see it changing for the better, however I can see it gettin much worse.


TF/BG flexibility is reduced in that we will only deploy specific capabilities task tailored for the mission and its expected environment tasks/events/risks/etc.    He made specific references to a lack of flexibility in the RCR/R22eR BG that reorganized itself contrary to the standard infantry bn prior to deploying to Croatia and to the inability of our forces to support an ISAF request to expand our AOR outside of Kabul (because the TF was built without the traditional integral military CSS).  

We lack any capabilities to support any request for an extended time period. This also will get worse, unless we reverse the current trend, and there is no change cominig from the top, rather more cut backs, do more with less.

There could be several ways about this:   infantry and armoured units could swap subunits to create a new permanent FG structure or the armd unit could be dissolved and its subunits dispersed into the mechanized battalions (the second option results in fewer but more robust BGs).

Swaping units and dissolving units ain't the answer, that is a long term project that would require a new mindset of personel, and that would not happen over night as you posted.Our roots are deep, change is not something we do well.

we allow for affiliations and inter-unit training between the manoeuvre units & the supporting sub units and sub-sub units.

This has proven to work, beaf up the units estblished allready, give them support, and personel and equipment to do there task.

 convert the entire fleet of M113 TUA to LAV III TUA in order to provide enough vehicles to each CMBG.   It may also mean that other elements of the DFS system are not in sufficient numbers.


A entire wheeled fleet is not tatical sound, no real fighting force has done this to any degree of sucess in battle, history has proven this time and time again, but we don't see this here in Canada.

We lack direct fire Veh's, the AGS won't cut it in battle. With out the basic manover unit the combat team we are finished.We must admit it and move on. To put troops in a situation where the enemy has armour and we don't is foolish, and we can't count on them not having any anti-amour wpns, so the bottom line is stay out of the fight. Go in after the fighting stops and try to hold the peace if possible.
Dreaming your dream is fine, but the real world is not a dream, it's a nighmare some what like Iraq now. Can't see us there at this time can you?

I do like some of the dream though,


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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2005, 10:22:14 »
... The most important thing that I ever learned tactically was during my Artillery Staff Duties Course- the power of massing Artillery and applying it where and when a Div or Corp commander needs it most.   It has an effect on the battlefield that is out of all proportion to the size of the forces involved.  ...

Okay - and from the perspective of the lowest common denominator ... when there's trouble in the wire ...and you really, really, really need help (of any flavour ...) it's "frustrating" when you don't own it ... and it's not there for you.
Thus, the Canadian infantry battalion had evolved and morphed into an extremely potent unit - with integral indirect fire support (mortars), extremely lethal tank-killing capability (TOW in the anti-armour platoon), mobility/counter-mobility (pioneers).
I'd even go so far as to suggest that the arrival of the Coyote was part of parcel of this beautiful example of progressive evolution.
And, so ... what happened next ... ?
As opined by many artillery, armour, engineer and infantry brethren ... politics defeated logic, and a huge step backwards took place.
Pity.
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Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2005, 13:17:53 »
We would be better serverd within the current bounds to keep to peackeeping tasks. Any operations undertaken without support from another capabable army/af would not go well for our forces as they are now.
Even a peacekeeping force needs the ability for high intensity operations at the tactical level (remember Medak or the Turkish invasion of Cyprus).

Swaping units and dissolving units ain't the answer, that is a long term project that would require a new mindset of personel, and that would not happen over night as you posted.Our roots are deep, change is not something we do well.
This is definitely a long term initiative.   However, the Army is already rapidly moving forward with just such a radical transformation of the LdSH.   It may fly in the face of entrenched army culture, but it will be like removing a band-aid from a hairy leg.   Going slowly only prolongs the discomfort.

A entire wheeled fleet is not tatical sound, no real fighting force has done this to any degree of sucess in battle,
Maybe so, but the army will retire all TUA not converted to LAV III.   You could chalk my argument up to needing all the TUA regardless of platform (and there are already many other threads debating what that platform should or should not be).   We could even replace the TUA with a newer more capable system (this is also discussed in great detail in other threads) but we would still need more of that system than the number of TUA that the army plans to keep in service.

We lack direct fire Veh's
Won't argue against that (though there are other threads describing what that vehicle or vehicles need to be).

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2005, 14:28:53 »
I am going to stick to the discussion of Force Generation.  I agree with McG.  There is room to prepare for a broader spectrum of operations and also prepare more tightly focused,  cohesive,  Battlegroups/Task Forces/Field Forces/What-have-you.

The magic ingredient is time.

Time is bought by decreasing the size of the Force assigned to the deployed Task Forces, and thus increasing the number of Task Forces that can be generated, thus increasing the intervals between deployments, thus allowing more time for an ad hoc Task Force to complete common training and learning how to work with each other.

Similarly, the more time between deployments the more time can be spent by units in individual training, sub-unit training and formation training.

To get to this desired end state then the requirement is to get the politicians to accept a smaller deployed force. 

As to the argument that a smaller deployed force will be vulnerable or less able to fulfill certain tasks - the answer is of course.  But the counter is that every deployment we are capable of making is at danger of over-match.  We will always have to work with allies, otherwise we won't be going (this is not to say we shouldn't be doing more and shouldn't be able to lead more forcefully by getting ourselves into the fray more speedily).  But we willl always have to pick our fights.  Even the Americans have to do that - they can't deal with Iraq and N.Korea any more than they could deal with Russia and China simultaneously.

So if we accept a 1on 4 off deployment pattern and a requirement to deploy 2 forces concurrently then we come back to the need to be able to generate AT LEAST 10 Task Forces.  We have 12 Armd and Inf Units available so lets use them as the basis of the deployments.  With 12 units that means a 1 on 5 off schedule allowing 3 years between deployments.

The Units then could be structured with sufficient numbers of sub-units to both maintain a conventional fighting capability as a formed unit and also to be able to detach subunits in support of the task forces.

To take KevinB's proposed structure of one light, one mech, and one recce subunit, lets say under a  Mech HQ, then the Parent CBMG would comprise 1 Lt Unit 2 Mech Units and 1Cav Unit. One of the Mech Units would deploy with its HQ, Recce Pl, and 1 Mech Coy. The Remaining Sub-units would stay on base conducting individual training. 

Kevin's model requires a force structure of 12 Recce Sqns,  12 Lt Coys and 12 Mech Coys as well as 12 Recce Pl etc.  That demands that each of the 3 Armd Regts find  4 Recce Sqns each, that the 3 Lt Bns find 4 Coys each and that the 6 Mech Bns find 2 Coys each. As we have about 27 Lt or Mech Coys than that would work out about right. The 3 Extra Coys could be the source of the 3 extra Recce platoons and  reinforcements for the other coys. 

As we only have 9 Armd Squadrons and only 6 of them are officially Recce Sqns, then failing an increase in bodies or kit then the size of the Squadrons will have to fall to  support a long term deployment plan.  The Squadron will be able to do less, but it will be able to do it consistently and repetitively.  SOPs can be generated, force commanders will know its capabilities and our allies will know how we can work with them. I leave the make-up, kit, taskings etc to others.

With this structure:

3 brigades each with a 4 Squadron Armd Regt, a 4 Coy Light Battalion and 2x 2 Coy Mech Battalions then you might see the following situation;

1 CMBG has 2 Task Forces on Deployment for 6 months.   1PPCLI HQ and a Mech Coy Plus a Lt Coy and an Armd Sqn attached and 3PPCLI has one Coy deployed with a Mech and Armd sub-unit attached.

That leaves 2 PPCLI back on Station with a full complement of 2 Coys. It leaves 1 Coy of 1 PPCLI on Station.  It leaves 2 Lt Coys on Station and it also leaves LdSH on station with an HQ and 2 Squadrons.

2 CMBG is working up its two task forces for the next roto

5 CMBG is working up the roto after that

That still leaves a useable force for the area commander (2 HQs, 3 Mech Coys, 2 Lt Coys and 2 Armd Sqns) that could be engaged in individual training, conducting training with cross-attachments or supplying ready reaction forces.

We always used to expect that sub-units would be un-plugged from the parent and plugged into a sister unit in the formation, often on very short notice.  So I am having difficulty seeing where the plug'n'play concept is alien to what has been done in the past. 

The area that I see that is different is that in the past an Armd commander new what he was getting when he was assigned a Mech Coy and likewise a Mech commander new what a tank squadron was and what it could do.  This was because of standardization, training and SOPs.

Summarizing, why can't the system work if we accept that the reality of taskings for the foreseeable future are stability ops, that in order to maintain a viable force we need to reduce the size (not number) of commitments and then build a force structure that can sustain those commitments. With enough time between deployments then training can be geared towards maintaining our broad-spectrum of capabilities and with standardized units then SOPs can be developed.

I understand this may seem to some like putting the cart before the horse, essentially I am suggesting that we take the existing bodies and kit, divide by 12 and then ask ourselves what that result can do and then train to do that.  As opposed to looking for an ideal sized lego brick devised by our allies and then trying to figure how many units we can build and wondering why we don't have enough bricks or units.

The more time between deployments then the more varied can be the training and the more capable will be the CF.  In the meantime, the fact that all units that are going to deploy on a given Task Force are located on a single base and regularly train with each other will, along with common SOPs contribute to the necessary cohesion.

IMHO,

Cheers.



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Offline MCG

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2005, 16:53:13 »
Quote
We always used to expect that sub-units would be un-plugged from the parent and plugged into a sister unit in the formation, often on very short notice.  So I am having difficulty seeing where the plug'n'play concept is alien to what has been done in the past.
In the past, a BG could expect to deploy with 2 or 3 plug & play sub-units and with 4 or 5 of its own sub-units.  Now, that BG might expect to deploy with 1 or 2 of its sub-units and with 4 to 6 plug & play sub-units.

Geographic dispersion will prevents the formation of solid affiliations between many sub-units and potential TF HQs (When would 2 PPCLI or 2 RCR train with thier light companies or armoured squadrons?  When would companies of 2 PPCLI or 2 RCR train with the armoured or light BGs that they might be plugged into?)

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2005, 18:21:59 »
As fun as it is to play with all the "cut-and-paste" TO&E's (heaven knows I do it enough myself   ;)), I think that the original topic of the thread as I proposed it, the Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms, requires a corresponding downward diffusion in the way we organize our Personnel (as opposed to our kit).

Having all these units mish-mashed together in a standing "Combined Arms" battalion is only going half-way; it's just as ad-hoc as mish-mashing units with plug-and-play to send them on operations.   The transformation needs to be completed with a thourough Revolution in Human Affairs.   Why is this necessary?   Because hat-badge and regimental infighting seems to be a big administrative obstacle to filtering a cohesive, combined-arms function down to lower and lower levels.   As well, we're liable to see problems when combining units from different branches into a single combined arms battalion - with the logical outcome of grumbling on "who goes where" and "who commands what".   Get rid of it, I say.

First off, I have always been a proponent of a "single-badge" Brigade.   A soldier, no matter what his trade is, is a member of the Regiment (which is affiliated with the Brigade level formation).   This should allow soldiers of most trades to have suitable and varied career opportunities within his "Regiment".   Whether we want to build our Brigades off existing regular force Regiments (taking some and "zero-strengthing" others, which will piss some off), bring Regiments up from the reserves (to avoid hurting all Regular Force regimental pride), or create new Regiments from scratch (to avoid hurting everybody's pride - hey, if the British can routinely do it, why can't we?) is a matter of secondary concern.

For example, in a Mechanized Brigade setting:

-   Infantry soldiers and Armoured crewman can be posted throughout the 3 combined arms "maneuver battalions" within the Brigade.   As well, if we opted for a Cavalry/Reconnaissance function for the Brigade commander, opportunities would be there as well.

-   Sappers and Gunners can be posted to "Maneuver Battalions" as pioneers or to the Brigade Engineering/Artillery assets.

-   CS and CSS troops have the opportunity to go to Brigade Support and HQ units or to "Maneuver Battalions".

The Brigade setting provides a large enough basis for a "Regimental" system to exist in a manner that affords varied and interesting career paths.

As well, I am prone to LtCol Banks' approach to merging the Combat Arms into one branch as argued in the Canadian Army Journal:

http://armyapp.dnd.ca/ael/adtb/vol_7/CAJ_vol7.1_e.pdf

with the end result of merging of the Officer MOC's (to what extent is debatable)

http://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,17788.0.html

The actual trade (MOC) of the Officer becomes less and less relevant as he progresses in rank.   We experience this everday as we see command of a Brigade is open to any trade and often unit commanders end up commanding sub-units from outside their trade in the Battlegroup setting.   With a "Combined Arms Battalion" and a merged Combat Arms branch, Officer career paths would play out differently.

- At the junior level (2Lt - Captain) the Officer is assigned his sub-MOC, which is trade specific.   He assumes command of a platoon/troop of the relevent sub-MOC (Infantry, Mortar, Engineer/Pioneer, etc, etc)

- At the senior level (Major - Col) the Officer is assigned a primary-MOC - a single "Combat Arms Officer".   Transformation into the new MOC will begin while the Officer is still and Captain and attends the Land Forces Command and Staff College.   Here, he is exposed to command and leadership of combat power from a Combined Arms perspective.   The sub-MOC is important, as when the Officer becomes a Major and is given command of a sub-unit, it will be a "trade-pure" one (Infantry Coy, Armoured Squadron, Arty Battery, Engineer Squadron).   However, with the new MOC, an Officer of any sub-MOC background is eligible for positions within the "Maneuver Battalion" HQs (Ops O, Adj, DCO, etc, etc).

- At the LCol level, the single primary-MOC of "Combat Arms Officer" will command the battalion.   Some deference should be made to sub-MOC for instances where Artillery Battalions and Engineer Battalions (remember, we've done away with pure branch regiments ;)) need CO's.   So, you will see Officer's with any combat-arms background commanding the "Maneuver Battalions" because all four Combat Arms functions exist within these units and the development of Officers should, right from the start, be oriented to increasing their understanding of the different capabilities available in a Combined Arms setting.

- As now, the Brigade (perhaps formed as I've outlined in the original topic post) are open to the CA Officer primary-MOC.

- General Officer ranks are a little beyond the tactical scope of this discussion, so we won't bother.

This, I believe, is a more thourough transformation then simply cutting and pasting what we have.   My effort in this proposal aims to solve the following problems:

1) The bleeding of combined arms functions from the maneuver battalions to the Engineers and Artillery, reducing their battlefield capabilities (essentially stove-piping).

2) The ending of the constant question of who is going to drive the damn IFVs.... :) (it shouldn't matter anymore, as a crewman can be posted to an infantry company within a Combined Arms battalion to drive the LAV).

3) Cross-trade confusion within the Combat Arms (doctrine and TTP's should stem from a common "Combined-Arms" well in Gagetown)

4) To reduce the friction that the ATOF cycle has placed on units and the unit commanders.   As much as we deride ATOF, it is a necessary planning function, as the extremely turbulent nature of the international arena means we must always be prepared to deploy - since we can't afford (in terms of money or in soldiers morale) to be held to high readiness at all times, a readiness cycle is required.   Being the primary "Unit of Action", the "Combined Arms" battalion (of which a Brigade should have 3) should be more then capable of providing its own organic sub-units from across the spectrum for any task required of it.   No more Plug-and-Play, which creates one (ad-hoc) viable combined-arms Battlegroup for operations while crippling 2 or 3 branch pure units in Canada.   Now, the next goal should be to get the Brigade and formation level training up to snuff in the potential situation of a Canadian Brigade taking part in Coalition Division operations.

5) Regimental infighting spurred by Regimental Associations and Senates which, in a petty interest in branch-pure Capbrass, confound issues in which operational necessity should be paramount (who cares what the PPCLI, the Vandoo, or the RCD get in terms or roles - for they are all Regiments composed of almost every type of trade in the Army).   Every soldier in the Army is a soldier first, tradesman second.   They belong to their Regiments as soldiers, not as an infantryman, sapper, clerk, or a signaller.   The trade can proudly be displayed on the cuff of the DEU.

Anyways, rough layout for true Combined Arms transformation.   I'm sure many issues will arise as we ponder the details.

Cheers,
Infanteer
« Last Edit: January 09, 2005, 19:36:43 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

Offline Infanteer

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2005, 19:17:40 »
For a bit of additional interesting input, here are four "Combat Group" TO&E's that Col. Douglas MacGregor proposed in his Breaking the Phalanx (found here ) - essentially Brigade Groups.   However, the "combined-arms" battalions are the maneuver centerpieces of each formation.   He makes some alterations to his original proposals in his follow-up book, Transformation Under Fire (found here), but the principle remains the same.   Both books are definitely worth the read.

Here they are as follows; I hope they can serve as a decent launch pad for some extra discussion:

1. A decisive, heavy combat Brigade Group.

2. A tracked heavy cavalry Brigade Group.

3. A wheeled, light cavalry Brigade Group (perhaps fitting in with 2Bravo's proposal here)

4. A air-mobile/air-assault Light Brigade Group (fitting in as part of the Light Infantry stuff that's been frequently discussed).

Cheers,
Infanteer

PS - Remember that this is American Lexicon:
Squadron = our Regiment (Battalion Level, hence ll)
Troop = our Squadron (Company Level, hence l)
Co = Coy (Company)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2005, 19:30:40 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

Offline Thucydides

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Re: The Downward Diffusion of Combined Arms
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2005, 22:39:43 »
C4I Battalions? Nice work, if you can get it!

McGregor has outlined a very potent and flexible combined arms package, but I wonder a bit at the size of the command and control apparatus. (I suppose I souldn't be too surprised, our HQ and Sigs organizations are growing, but the troops to command and control are leaking away...).

Some more work will be needed to get a smaller, lighter and faster mooving HQ apparatus for these formations.

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.