• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Army doctrine and its Implementation

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
962
Points
1,060
Found an interesting self-assessment.

"Our tactical methods are thorough and methodical but slow and cumbersome. In consequence our troops fight well in defence and our set-piece attacks are usually successful, but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. We are too flank-conscious, we over-insure administratively, we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so."

Does this describe the Canadian Army today?
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
368
Points
880
Found an interesting self-assessment.

"Our tactical methods are thorough and methodical but slow and cumbersome. In consequence our troops fight well in defence and our set-piece attacks are usually successful, but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. We are too flank-conscious, we over-insure administratively, we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so."

Does this describe the Canadian Army today?
I would say that our Canadian Army Ancenstry.ca test would find some commonality with that DNA strand.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
1,812
Points
1,040
Found an interesting self-assessment.

"Our tactical methods are thorough and methodical but slow and cumbersome. In consequence our troops fight well in defence and our set-piece attacks are usually successful, but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. We are too flank-conscious, we over-insure administratively, we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so."

Does this describe the Canadian Army today?

Not sure what era this comes from. My guess would be WW2 as we were too full of self-congratulation in earlier eras to voice that opinion out loud even when it was true.

You undoubtedly have a much better understanding of where we stand based on where you're employed but anecdotally, sitting on the outside, I would have to agree.

A managed readiness plan that takes us three years for a given unit or brigade to become "ready" and a system of predeployment training that takes some six months to go through and requires a "test" exercise at the end shows that we are very risk averse in general (albeit this is couched in language of resource availability which is a problem in its own right).

A system of managed equipment holdings shows that our equipment acquisition and maintenance processes are below par and keeps us responding in an agile manner to new threats or opportunities.

I'll just mention "moribund recruiting and training system" and move on.

Our limited operational taskings within the national defence strategy confined to battle group deployments and the building block system by which they are formed shows that we have limited capacity and limited capability and must accordingly set our aims low.

All of that is at a strategic level so I would think it logical that the attitudes we hold nationally must have some impact--both in capability and mental attitudes--at the tactical level as well.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
712
Points
1,060
Just had another thought.

Arnhem is on my mind. I wonder what would have happened if Guderian had been in charge of XXX Corps instead of Horrocks? Or, dare I say it? Patton?
 

Brad Sallows

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
960
Points
910
I wonder what would have happened if Guderian had been in charge of XXX Corps instead of Horrocks? Or, dare I say it? Patton?

About the same thing, unless you swapped all the British soldiers in XXX Corps out for Germans or Americans.
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
962
Points
1,060
I split off the chatter about Reserve exercises from long ago.

This quote is from the 15th Army Group Director of Military Training (DMT), supported by General Alexander, in 1943.

Can't help thinking, as T2B said, that some of this DNA has come through in the modern Canadian Army.

  • In consequence our troops fight well in defence - not even sure if this is the case; as a commonwealth military we've traditionally relied on supremacy of fires and a superb coordination of fires ability, but we've denuded our modern force structure of any of this.
  • our set-piece attacks are usually successful, - we focus on the set-piece attack. Even our platoon quick attacks, which should be 2-3 minutes, are 30-45 minute affairs. Combat Team "hasty attacks" aren't much better.
  • but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. - We are, due to said DNA, an Army of horizontal lines rather than vertical thrusts when it comes to control measures. Our tactics aim to advance a line, as opposed to thrust deep to disrupt, and create an impetus to stop and reorg as part of a mobile battle.
  • We are too flank-conscious, - see above.
  • we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so - see above, our training tends to be canned and bounded by training objectives and a master events list. We hold live fire as the penultimate form of activity, which is by nature an activity focused on symmetry and letting fires, as opposed to manoeuvre, win the battle.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
368
Points
880
I split off the chatter about Reserve exercises from long ago.

This quote is from the 15th Army Group Director of Military Training (DMT), supported by General Alexander, in 1943.

Can't help thinking, as T2B said, that some of this DNA has come through in the modern Canadian Army.

  • In consequence our troops fight well in defence - not even sure if this is the case; as a commonwealth military we've traditionally relied on supremacy of fires and a superb coordination of fires ability, but we've denuded our modern force structure of any of this.
  • our set-piece attacks are usually successful, - we focus on the set-piece attack. Even our platoon quick attacks, which should be 2-3 minutes, are 30-45 minute affairs. Combat Team "hasty attacks" aren't much better.
  • but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. - We are, due to said DNA, an Army of horizontal lines rather than vertical thrusts when it comes to control measures. Our tactics aim to advance a line, as opposed to thrust deep to disrupt, and create an impetus to stop and reorg as part of a mobile battle.
  • We are too flank-conscious, - see above.
  • we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so - see above, our training tends to be canned and bounded by training objectives and a master events list. We hold live fire as the penultimate form of activity, which is by nature an activity focused on symmetry and letting fires, as opposed to manoeuvre, win the battle.
Something that struck me comparing WW2 methods was that the British Army thought in lines while Germans/Soviets thought in arrows. We still have some of that methodical way of thinking. We say that accept risk but we really hate it!
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
962
Points
1,060
Something that struck me comparing WW2 methods was that the British Army thought in lines while Germans/Soviets thought in arrows. We still have some of that methodical way of thinking. We say that accept risk but we really hate it!
This is a good read on the subject.


See the definition of a thrust line on page 12.

How much of our training focuses on driving past the enemy as opposed to ploughing right into him?
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
368
Points
880
This is a good read on the subject.


See the definition of a thrust line on page 12.

How much of our training focuses on driving past the enemy as opposed to ploughing right into him?
Bypassing the enemy platoon would mean that we do not exercise the BTS. The Cbt Tm attack is our new Trooping of the
Colours.

I am exaggerating, of course, but heaven forbid we avoid an attack or an deliberate crossing/ beach in training.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Weinie

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,233
Points
1,010
I split off the chatter about Reserve exercises from long ago.

This quote is from the 15th Army Group Director of Military Training (DMT), supported by General Alexander, in 1943.

Can't help thinking, as T2B said, that some of this DNA has come through in the modern Canadian Army.

  • In consequence our troops fight well in defence - not even sure if this is the case; as a commonwealth military we've traditionally relied on supremacy of fires and a superb coordination of fires ability, but we've denuded our modern force structure of any of this.
  • our set-piece attacks are usually successful, - we focus on the set-piece attack. Even our platoon quick attacks, which should be 2-3 minutes, are 30-45 minute affairs. Combat Team "hasty attacks" aren't much better.
  • but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. - We are, due to said DNA, an Army of horizontal lines rather than vertical thrusts when it comes to control measures. Our tactics aim to advance a line, as opposed to thrust deep to disrupt, and create an impetus to stop and reorg as part of a mobile battle.
  • We are too flank-conscious, - see above.
  • we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so - see above, our training tends to be canned and bounded by training objectives and a master events list. We hold live fire as the penultimate form of activity, which is by nature an activity focused on symmetry and letting fires, as opposed to manoeuvre, win the battle.
Interesting conversation. I have learned a lot here.

Do WW II observations make sense in a current/future climate where perception/information drives policy/action and potentially outcomes? I am not disputing your tactical and operational arguments. Would a WW III senior Commander in 2043 make the same observations about doctrine and how we fought?
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
962
Points
1,060
Do WW II observations make sense in a current/future climate where perception/information drives policy/action and potentially outcomes? I am not disputing your tactical and operational arguments. Would a WW III senior Commander in 2043 make the same observations about doctrine and how we fought?
Of course they do, because perception/information drove policy/action and potential outcomes back in the Second World War as well.

See, as notable examples:
The London Blitz
Doolittle Raid
Operation TORCH
Operation U-GO
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
1,812
Points
1,040
This is a good read on the subject.


See the definition of a thrust line on page 12.

How much of our training focuses on driving past the enemy as opposed to ploughing right into him?
A tremendous read. Thanks for this.

Almost as important note page 6. On the second day of the attack, the division awarded its first Iron Cross 1st Class to a lieutenant of the division's recce detachment.

We could learn from that too.

🍻
 

b00161400

Full Member
Reaction score
9
Points
180
I split off the chatter about Reserve exercises from long ago.

This quote is from the 15th Army Group Director of Military Training (DMT), supported by General Alexander, in 1943.

Can't help thinking, as T2B said, that some of this DNA has come through in the modern Canadian Army.

  • In consequence our troops fight well in defence - not even sure if this is the case; as a commonwealth military we've traditionally relied on supremacy of fires and a superb coordination of fires ability, but we've denuded our modern force structure of any of this.
  • our set-piece attacks are usually successful, - we focus on the set-piece attack. Even our platoon quick attacks, which should be 2-3 minutes, are 30-45 minute affairs. Combat Team "hasty attacks" aren't much better.
  • but it is not unfair to say that through lack of enterprise in exploitation we seldom reap the full benefit of them. - We are, due to said DNA, an Army of horizontal lines rather than vertical thrusts when it comes to control measures. Our tactics aim to advance a line, as opposed to thrust deep to disrupt, and create an impetus to stop and reorg as part of a mobile battle.
  • We are too flank-conscious, - see above.
  • we are by nature too apprehensive of failure and our training makes us more so - see above, our training tends to be canned and bounded by training objectives and a master events list. We hold live fire as the penultimate form of activity, which is by nature an activity focused on symmetry and letting fires, as opposed to manoeuvre, win the battle.
I'm not convinced we fight well in the defence. The thread over in the Cbt Arms form covers this pretty well. I know we are working on it more often now, however, I think we have an underlying cultural preference for offensive ops which is informed by a history that saw us on the offence more often than the defence. I think our understanding of the defence is largely focused on the servicing of a KZ which is our equivalent to the hasty attack in the defence. I am skeptical that we understand how dynamic and prolonged the defensive battle could be because we focus on preparing for a single direct fire engagement. I'm also not convinced we are particularly good at coordinating those direct fires necessary to be successful in that KZ nor how we shape conditions, and survive, the events prior to those in the KZ.

The set piece attack comment is an interesting one. I agree that our hasty attacks take longer than perhaps they could and that we try to squeeze a lot of analysis into a hasty attack. The Inf school proforma for the pl attack, and the Tactics school's for the Cbt Tm attack actually include an estimate into them. This is probably a good indicator of over thinking it. Despite this, the fact that the hasty attack is the assessment tool for the CA probably has some benefits in enabling the right mindset for enabling the seizing and retaining the initiative through hasty offensive ops. It's just a matter of finding the ways to accelerate the decision and being comfortable with less coordinated attacks that are the inevitable result of reduced time devoted to mounting.

As noted above, the comfort with the risk to force and mission entailed in doing legitimately hasty operations is probably something we're not comfortable with. Training in a peace time environment is unlikely to provide the incentives to really push us to accept the risk to achieve the disproportionate results which are associated with reduced mounting time to achieve surprise, and focusing more on attacking deep to disrupt and dislocate. Hence we focus on achieving security by being excessively flank conscious and attacking in a series of bite sized activities that are inevitably slower and therefore reduce surprise.

I just pulled the old BG BTS pub and there is a BTS for bypass and infiltrate. So we don't really have a good excuse for training hasty attacks as a knee jerk reaction. It is a cultural and "same as last year" approach.
 

Old Sweat

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
57
Points
480
Here is a bit of background on why we fought the way we did in the attack and exploitation. The short answer is three words: the Germany Army. The Germans has the hasty counter-attack, and offensive action in their DNA. It was natural for them to immediately strike back with whatever they could muster, with an aim of their assault catching the enemy disorganized, short of ammunition, and milling about on the objective. In fact, this attack succeeded admirably against the Soviets, but was less successful against the Anglo-Canadians. See Marc Milner's Stopping the Panzers for a discussion.

The Germans often held forward positions with light forces, saving most of their combat power for the counter-stroke. By 1944 we had figured this out, and often attacked with light forces, following on with the majority of, say, a company who arrived on the objective fresh and with lots of ammunition to repel the counter-attack.

For whatever it is worth, I learned this, especislly the hasty reorg and preparation to repel the counter-stroke, as a teen aged recruit in the RCA Depot in 1958. Maybe it still exists in our collective mind set.
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
962
Points
1,060
This doesn't invalidate the tactic of elastic defence/defence in depth with rapid counterattack (which still, I contend, has the best track record in modern war). The German tactical defence failed in 1944/45 not because of the counterattack, but because allied air supremacy prevented German air and artillery from supporting the counterattack by suppressing the preponderance of allied fires.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
368
Points
880
I think our army's current preference for offensive operations and possible neglect of defensive operations comes from a number of sources. The combat team quick attack was our bastion of tactical professionalism in the 90s. You don't need a big enemy force and you can bring in as many enablers as you want. It is a nice, tidy package. The operational frame of the Gulf War was also there - we didn't really participate but our allies conducted offensive operations. While our Afghan campaign saw us defend localities, our combat operations were usually offensive in nature.

I think, though, that during the Cold War comfort zone was the defence. The operational frame was an area defence in Germany. Countermoves were our thing. I think we are trying to achieve a balance in the contemporary army.

Regardless, I think the typical Canadian army officer prefers deliberate operations with minimal risk. They might say that they accept risk and they might brag about how fast they conduct a combat team quick attack in training, but what I see is a preference for a methodical approach against a well-defined enemy. As a tank troop leader on Combat Team Commander Courses I found that infantry officers often wanted to make the map into a series of battle positions for offensive operations. They would them move us, like chess pieces, from BP to BP up the trace. I see that less now, but I also see us wanting to turn even a "hasty attack" into an attack from out of contact against a foe with over 75% definition.

I have been reading Simond's directives early in the Normandy campaign, as related in John English's Failure in High Command. Simonds wrote: "an attack without adequate reconnaissance and preparation will not succeed...the attack must be carefully organized...the well planned infantry attack with ample fire support may penetrate such a position with comparative ease, but the first penetration will stir up a hornet's nest."

I think that Simonds is the father of the post-war Canadian army. When you conduct an attack with 80% knowledge of the enemy, plenty of fire support, overwhelming local superiority (four tank troops against a single enemy tank), good control measures and with an eye to defending against the counterattack you can feel your doctrinal ancestor nodding approvingly from the back of your turret.
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
4,393
Points
1,060
I think our army's current preference for offensive operations and possible neglect of defensive operations comes from a number of sources. The combat team quick attack was our bastion of tactical professionalism in the 90s. You don't need a big enemy force and you can bring in as many enablers as you want. It is a nice, tidy package. The operational frame of the Gulf War was also there - we didn't really participate but our allies conducted offensive operations. While our Afghan campaign saw us defend localities, our combat operations were usually offensive in nature.

I think, though, that during the Cold War comfort zone was the defence. The operational frame was an area defence in Germany. Countermoves were our thing. I think we are trying to achieve a balance in the contemporary army.

Regardless, I think the typical Canadian army officer prefers deliberate operations with minimal risk. They might say that they accept risk and they might brag about how fast they conduct a combat team quick attack in training, but what I see is a preference for a methodical approach against a well-defined enemy. As a tank troop leader on Combat Team Commander Courses I found that infantry officers often wanted to make the map into a series of battle positions for offensive operations. They would them move us, like chess pieces, from BP to BP up the trace. I see that less now, but I also see us wanting to turn even a "hasty attack" into an attack from out of contact against a foe with over 75% definition.

I have been reading Simond's directives early in the Normandy campaign, as related in John English's Failure in High Command. Simonds wrote: "an attack without adequate reconnaissance and preparation will not succeed...the attack must be carefully organized...the well planned infantry attack with ample fire support may penetrate such a position with comparative ease, but the first penetration will stir up a hornet's nest."

I think that Simonds is the father of the post-war Canadian army. When you conduct an attack with 80% knowledge of the enemy, plenty of fire support, overwhelming local superiority (four tank troops against a single enemy tank), good control measures and with an eye to defending against the counterattack you can feel your doctrinal ancestor nodding approvingly from the back of your turret.

General Tal seemed like a switched on guy, except for his ignoring the 'less glamourous' Infantry. Have we learned/ adopted anything from him and his successors regarding armoured warfare doctrine?


"Tal was the creator of the Israeli armored doctrine that led to the Israeli successes in the Sinai surprise attack of the Six-Day War. In 1964, General Tal took over the Israeli armored corps and organized it into the leading element of the Israeli Defense Forces, characterized by high mobility and relentless assault. He re-trained all Israeli gunners to hit targets beyond 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi).[5] In open terrain, such long distance gunnery proved vital to the survival of the Israeli armored corps in subsequent wars. Israel's Arab opponents, especially Egypt and Syria, normally fired their Soviet-made tank guns from a distance of between 200 to 500 metres (220 to 550 yd), and quite often tank units advanced to within 100 metres (110 yd) of their targets before firing their main guns. This gave the Israelis an opportunity to exploit this weakness in Arab military doctrine. Its mobility is considered comparable to the German Blitzkrieg and many hold it to be an evolution of that tactic. Tal's transformation and success in 1967 led the IDF to expand the role of armor. However, this resulted in reduced attention to other less glamorous, but essential aspects of the army, such as the infantry. Following the 1973 surprise attack, this excessive focus on fast striking offensive armor left the IDF temporarily without adequate defensive capability. Only in latter stages of the war (with the aid of a US $1.1 billion airlift, Operation Nickel Grass) did the armor break out and show its potential; General Avraham Adan's armor broke through the Egyptian lines, crossed the Suez Canal and enveloped the Egyptian 3rd Army near Suez. While the IDF has become a more balanced force since 1973, Tal's development of armored doctrine has been very important to the IDF and has influenced armored doctrines in other parts of the world."

 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
712
Points
1,060
.....

The set piece attack comment is an interesting one. I agree that our hasty attacks take longer than perhaps they could and that we try to squeeze a lot of analysis into a hasty attack. The Inf school proforma for the pl attack, and the Tactics school's for the Cbt Tm attack actually include an estimate into them. This is probably a good indicator of over thinking it. Despite this, the fact that the hasty attack is the assessment tool for the CA probably has some benefits in enabling the right mindset for enabling the seizing and retaining the initiative through hasty offensive ops. It's just a matter of finding the ways to accelerate the decision and being comfortable with less coordinated attacks that are the inevitable result of reduced time devoted to mounting.

As noted above, the comfort with the risk to force and mission entailed in doing legitimately hasty operations is probably something we're not comfortable with. Training in a peace time environment is unlikely to provide the incentives to really push us to accept the risk to achieve the disproportionate results which are associated with reduced mounting time to achieve surprise, and focusing more on attacking deep to disrupt and dislocate. Hence we focus on achieving security by being excessively flank conscious and attacking in a series of bite sized activities that are inevitably slower and therefore reduce surprise.

...

"Actually include an estimate in them",

When you are fighting are you thinking? What happens when the other guy doesn't give you time to think? When there are no slo-mo cameras and no time-outs?

Does "milling" need to be introduced/emphasised in training? (A boxing match emphasising offense - no defense, no time for thinking, just punching until one puncher runs out of steam).

I think we tend to work towards strategic goals. Other fighters fight to win - they can't afford to lose.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
712
Points
1,060
And no sooner had I finished that than D&B reminds of the need for balance.
 
Top