Author Topic: Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model  (Read 3022 times)

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Offline Thucydides

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Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model
« on: October 17, 2005, 13:21:45 »
With the ideas of "Full Spectrum Operations" and the "Three Block War" now being the ideas of the day (remember Manoeuvre Warfare?), we need to look at the force structure to see how to best go about dealing with these operations. This is pulling together a lot of things from different threads, as well as some ideas of my own (you can read these here: http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/documents/vol_05/iss_4/CAJ_vol5.4_11_e.pdf).

The executive summary is simply this: we need to combine high levels of mobility to establish a presence, create a security "bulwark" for other government agencies and NGOs to operate behind, and also have enough combat power to take on all challengers, ranging from direct action against scattered Jihadis to being able to offer a creditable threat to a conventional force. From these requirements, we can derive the need for a force with the mobility of Cavalry combined with the fighting and staying power of Infantry, the traditional "Mounted Rifles". We can think of this almost in terms of speed ratios; a "Cavalry" unit from antiquity to the supercession of the horse in the 20th century had far more mobility than a column of marching Infantry (special cases like the Zulu Impis marching 50 miles a day or the 18th century "Chasseurs à pied"" are really the exceptions that prove the rule). In the past, many different armies came to the same conclusions. The United States Cavalry used troopers fighting dismounted with rifles and carbines from the Civil War until almost WWII, the British Empire spawned Mounted Rifles, Light Horse and assorted other units, even the French Foreign Legion moved from marching columns to "flying columns" mounted on camels in Africa and the near East.

We can use motorized Infantry units along the line of the current LAV or SBCT to provide the ratio compared to conventional Mechanized forces (in which case the organizational layout is mostly at issue, rather than any technical issues), or we can go even further and use air mobility to provide the speed difference between the motorized Infantry and the "Cavalry". Each approach has several advantages and drawbacks. A motorized force has more inherent protection and firepower, but is constricted by terrain. Airmobile forces are more terrain independent, and can substitute speed for mass, but have less inherent protection and staying power, and a higher logistical bill.

As a LAV mounted force, we are already in a good position to create "Mounted Rifle" style motorized units. I am a fan of combined arms units along the lines of the Marine LAV battalion or the US Army SBCT, and there are proper technical solutions available for the LAV chassis to provide mortar and direct fire support, as well as self propelled artillery. LAV based engineer or pioneer equipment might be more problematic, but certainly some form of LAV could serve as a section carrier. Armoured logistics vehicles sharing LAV components would also be a very useful addition to the force. Given the need for presence patrols and other dismounted tasks, the ratios of Infantry soldiers to the other arms will have to be carefully considered, and I would suggest traditional ideas of Infantry formations and employment might also have to be rethought (fight by envelopment or by fire supression rather than direct assault, companies with four platoons to deal with the need for extra manpower, there are lots of ideas to explore).

However, we should not be mesmerized by the idea that we can only use LAVs. From an expense perspective, LAV IFVs and various support vehicles might be substituted for Armoured Patrol Vehicles (APVs) like the Australian "Bushmaster". Similarly, there is a very stron case for sucking up the expense and going for an airmobile force to gain the advantages of speed, especially in constricted or complex terrain, or in areas with no reliable maps or infrastructure.

This could be the real template for the forces in the 21rst century
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.

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Re: Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2005, 23:58:36 »
Interesting but where is the airmobile capability coming from?? Mech/motorized forces are  quite capabale of conducting dismounted operations without the need for a seperate dismounted element,a LAV is simply a means of transport and fire support, the troops are not attached to it by a tether.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2005, 01:47:02 »
To go for an airmobile "Mounted Rifles" would require creating the capability almost from the ground up. I proposed that the current LIBs would make a good starting point, and purchase/graft new equipment on the LIB organization to transform the Light Infantry soldiers into Mounted Riflemen.

What made the Mounted Rifles so effective was the combination of speed and fighting power. The Canadian Mounted Rifles of the Boer War era did not have exotic weapons or armour, but because they moved faster than a comparably sized column of marching infantry, they could unhinge the enemy by appearing in unexpected times and places, and they could dismount and fight. In todays terms, a SBCT company mounted in Strykers can move at almost three times the speed of a mechanized force mounted on M-1 tanks and M-2 IFVs on a road march. Even if they do not have the firepower of the heavy forces, they have sufficient fighting power to deal with most threats, and can fix the enemy if they need to for the heavy forces to do the assault.

In the Canadian context, since the bulk of our forces are already motorized on LAVs, an airmobile force capable of moving at almost twice the speed as the LAVS and able to seize and hold ground would serve the same purpose as the SBCT in the American Army. (American Air Cavalry has the same limitation as traditional Cavalry of old, they are not designed or equipped to hold ground.)

From a budgetary standpoint, a LAV mounted CMR is the more likely route, but a LAV mounted CMR would be different from the Armoured Cavalry proposals elsewhere on this forum. While a Cavalry regiment needs to be fast and hard hitting, there is no compelling reason it should have more Infantrymen (Dismounts, Dragoons) than required for close protection tasks. A motorized Mounted Rifle unit would have a much higher proportion of Infantry, since the primary mission would not be screening or flank protection, but rather seizing and holding ground. Current proposals to have companies built around four platoons would make sense in this context, the unit would have an extra element for support, exploitation, presence patrolling, rear area security or whatever other task the unit might encounter in Full Spectrum Ops. The CF would need to find the balance between the number of "Cavalry" and "Mounted Rifle" type units, and either (or both) of these units would really come into their own in an alliance setting, using their speed and fighting abilities to shape the battlespace and set up conditions for exploitation by PRTs or heavy forces.
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 ArmyRick

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Re: Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2005, 20:29:13 »
A_majoor, I remember your original article on the Canadian Mounted Rifles and I was just wondering if you would make any changes to the original force structure?
I am NOT a privileged white man by virtue of being male or white. I am privileged because I am alive and exercising my right to be who I am!

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Mounted Rifles as the Future Force model
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2005, 07:15:10 »
I am thinking about this, right now considering upping the ratio of dismounted Infantry to support for a better "boots on the ground" ratio, but I am looking for some alternative POVs to compare my thoughts to.
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.