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Assault Pioneers & Assault Troopers (engineer light of the Inf & Armd)

CBH99

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Daftandbarmy,

Legitimate question here, as I'm not as familiar with this as I'd like to be.

When you say the regular rifle companies couldn't handle the higher risk building searches, can I ask why?  What did the Assault Engineers bring to the table in terms of securing a building that the regular rifle companies didn't?  (Since the Assault Engineers were a part of the rifle companies...no?)

Sorry if the question is obvious.  Pioneers were before my time, and I'm trying to absorb as much of this topic as I can.
 

daftandbarmy

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CBH99 said:
Daftandbarmy,

Legitimate question here, as I'm not as familiar with this as I'd like to be.

When you say the regular rifle companies couldn't handle the higher risk building searches, can I ask why?  What did the Assault Engineers bring to the table in terms of securing a building that the regular rifle companies didn't?  (Since the Assault Engineers were a part of the rifle companies...no?)

Sorry if the question is obvious.  Pioneers were before my time, and I'm trying to absorb as much of this topic as I can.

Asslt Pnrs were trained to deal with booby traps and mines, both laying an lifting/ deactivating them, as part of their battlefield tasks. A such, they would work under the direction of Engineers - to add additional hands to big barrier minefield tasks etc - as required.

As a result, it was a fairly natural fit to train them for more advanced clearance tasks in Northern Ireland. Some of the teams were bloody good too. On one tour, our search teams found thousands of pounds of explosives and dozens of weapons in the search of occupied houses in West Belfast for example. Of course, protecting the chain of evidence in such cases was of paramount importance, and they were well trained in how to do that too.

The Engineers and ATO teams were the highest trained troops in these tasks, of course, and would take on the car bombs, suspect IEDs and derelict/ unoccupied building searches, which kept them busy full time. Without the extra capacity provided by our search teams, manned by pioneers, we would have had a seriously diminished offensive search capability.

Regular can-fods like me would spend our time poking around looking for suspicious things which, following the emplacement of a cordon, would be cleared by the 'big boys'. Our job was to protect them while they did their work, and try not to get killed by secondary devices, usually in that order :)

https://www.berlineaton.com/blog/the-process-story
 

Ostrozac

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One major loss when it came to getting rid of pioneers is that all engineering support to the rifle companies now had to be tasked to the engineer squadrons, and that often meant pennypacketing the engineers in section size as breechers, laying protective antitank minefields, or using dozers to build run up positions -- if you have pioneers for such comparitively minor yet essential tasks, you can concentrate your engineers in troop and squadron size for major engineering work, like tactical obstacles or bridging.

And on a personal level, as a former member of 2RCR Assault Pioneer Platoon, I'm very happy to see the return of pioneers.
 

Jarnhamar

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garb811 said:
I dunno, they got along quite well for years and years...although I remember this picture making the international news blew a few minds in Ottawa at the time.

The good news is, if Infantry folks want a beard they now have a legitimate way to get one instead of gaming the medical system to give them a chit.

Don't get me wrong pioneers returning to infantry battalions is great. I just find it annoying that growing beards seems like the first thing a lot of people care about.

Id rather see pioneers (and mortars and TOW) as actual platoons in a regf infantry battalion rather than the sections that's planned with the other sections of the specialist platoons coming from the reserves.

For all the benefits that come with reserves getting tasked with specialty roles I think some serious pitfalls come too. A battalion should have an internal capability to field a platoon and not have to rely on augmentation for specialty training.  Though maybe the pioneers guys were always section level? Still true for TOW and mortars.

 

MedCorps

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CBH99 said:
When you say the regular rifle companies couldn't handle the higher risk building searches, can I ask why?  What did the Assault Engineers bring to the table in terms of securing a building that the regular rifle companies didn't?  (Since the Assault Engineers were a part of the rifle companies...no?)

The British Army has always been at the forefront of the concept of "search operations" likely due to the requirements of Northern Ireland. They developed extensive policy, doctrine, training of the concepts of search including sub-facets such as counter-terrorist search, defensive search operations, offensive search operations, high-risk search, low-risk search and specialist search. 

In terms of doctrine (although my information is dated to early 2000), personnel working in an area of operation where search would be required received a search awareness package (0.5 - 1 day), some members would get an advanced search awareness package (2-5 days, including the use of some specialist tools) and designated search teams would be assigned (6-12 men) and receive training (10 days low risk, 20 days for Royal Engineer - high risk). There was even a Unit Search Advisors Course (Low-risk 20 days) and a Royal Engineer Search Advisor Course (high-risk 30 days).  As you can see, the British Army took this all quite seriously. 

Canada, as recently as last year continues to build search doctrine, procure equipment and design courses. I think that we tired to capture lessons learned in Afghanistan formally in about 2011-2012 with respect to search operations and then leveraged UK Doctrine. We have gone with the levels of search aware, basic search, intermediate search and advanced combat engineering search, with different capabilities assigned to each level. If you are really interested take a look at B-GL-361-021/FT-001 (Search - 2016) and B-GL-361-021/FT-003 (Advanced Combat Engineering Search - 2017). 

I am not sure to what level this doctrine has been implemented. I have not seen a ACES Search Team in action in any of the Combat Engineer Regiments and not sure if it is being formally being taught.  There are also Basic Military Search Team Member (AHDM - 15 days) and a Basic Military Search Team Leader (AKZA - 17 Days) courses on the books, but I have never seen the run.

We will see if Pioneers pick up on any of this search operations doctrine as training / task.

MC
 

daftandbarmy

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MedCorps said:
The British Army has always been at the forefront of the concept of "search operations" likely due to the requirements of Northern Ireland. They developed extensive policy, doctrine, training of the concepts of search including sub-facets such as counter-terrorist search, defensive search operations, offensive search operations, high-risk search, low-risk search and specialist search. 

Yes, being faced with getting a lot of people killed if you screw up, over 4 decades, is a good motivator for building solid search doctrine.

What we also discovered was that just because you're in a 'search' related job doesn't mean you're any good. It's important to have a really good selection process for the people doing this work, at any level.

 

Kat Stevens

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Teager said:
I don't get the whole pioneer thing. Aren't Combat Engineers technically pioneers just without the beards?

No, we fucking well aren’t.
 

daftandbarmy

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Hamish Seggie said:
Correct. Assault Pnrs are infantry first and have a specialized skill within the infantry.

Like hitting things with axes, which they carry on parade... :)
 

Nfld Sapper

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Teager said:
I don't get the whole pioneer thing. Aren't Combat Engineers technically pioneers just without the beards?

Oh hell NO

Pioneers are Engineer wannabes....
 

Scoobie Newbie

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When I was in Pnr platoon the doctorine we used was that we would take our knowledge to the platoons, and use the rifle coy to do build obstacles etc while we mentored them as the SME. We also benefited greatly by going on Eng camps and compete against them as well as learn from them.
 

devil39

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Jarnhamar said:
Don't get me wrong pioneers returning to infantry battalions is great. I just find it annoying that growing beards seems like the first thing a lot of people care about.

Id rather see pioneers (and mortars and TOW) as actual platoons in a regf infantry battalion rather than the sections that's planned with the other sections of the specialist platoons coming from the reserves.

For all the benefits that come with reserves getting tasked with specialty roles I think some serious pitfalls come too. A battalion should have an internal capability to field a platoon and not have to rely on augmentation for specialty training.  Though maybe the pioneers guys were always section level? Still true for TOW and mortars.

Given that Pioneers and especially Mortars were some of the most dangerous things we used to do in an Infantry Bn, I would be very leery of  penny packeting this capability at a section level, with augmentation to come from the Reserves.  There were lots of mortar accidents back in the day.  Thankfully in my days in Mortars, we were surrounded by Sgts and WOs who had spent most of their careers in Mor Pl, often only leaving to "tick the box" in a Rifle Coy upon promotion, and then straight back to Mortars at their new rank. 
 

daftandbarmy

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devil39 said:
Given that Pioneers and especially Mortars were some of the most dangerous things we used to do in an Infantry Bn, I would be very leery of  penny packeting this capability at a section level, with augmentation to come from the Reserves.  There were lots of mortar accidents back in the day.  Thankfully in my days in Mortars, we were surrounded by Sgts and WOs who had spent most of their careers in Mor Pl, often only leaving to "tick the box" in a Rifle Coy upon promotion, and then straight back to Mortars at their new rank.

The main problem with this whole 'give the reserves a cool Support Company type tasking so they will stay in' is, of course, the fact that all troops in a Support Weapons company have usually served several years in a rifle company first. As a result, they know what the rifle company troops need by way of support.

My MFC in 1 PARA was a Sgt who had spent many years in a rifle platoon so thoroughly understood how the whole 'Company Attack thing' went down. As a result, when I worked out my fire plan with him it was based on a solid understanding of the realities of the infantry battle. s a result, he and his AC were basically my Indirect Fire Support' whisperers.

Reservists? They won't have a clue. Most (99%) will never have even participated in a company attack. And I know that because I am one and, even though I've actually done the live fire thing with 81mm a lot in the past, am well out of practice!

The same applies to Pioneers, Recce, TOW and the FSCC/ Sp Coy HQ, of course.
 

devil39

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daftandbarmy said:
The main problem with this whole 'give the reserves a cool Support Company type tasking so they will stay in' is, of course, the fact that all troops in a Support Weapons company have usually served several years in a rifle company first. As a result, they know what the rifle company troops need by way of support.

My MFC in 1 PARA was a Sgt who had spent many years in a rifle platoon so thoroughly understood how the whole 'Company Attack thing' went down. As a result, when I worked out my fire plan with him it was based on a solid understanding of the realities of the infantry battle. s a result, he and his AC were basically my Indirect Fire Support' whisperers.

Reservists? They won't have a clue. Most (99%) will never have even participated in a company attack. And I know that because I am one and, even though I've actually done the live fire thing with 81mm a lot in the past, am well out of practice!

The same applies to Pioneers, Recce, TOW and the FSCC/ Sp Coy HQ, of course.

We had good individual augmentation in the early to mid  '90s from Reserve units who had a "Mortar Task", but I would have wanted a lot of work up for full mortar dets and especially MFC, Fire data calculations and FSCC. 
 

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Bump

Thinking about Light Forces - especially a Light Infantry Battalion.

Lets assume that the airlift is limited and by the time the Battalion and its kit is loaded there is only room for one large vehicle to be air-landed.  Which would you rather? 

A tank? Or a Backhoe?  Their weights are different but their volumes are comparable.

To me, lacking armour protection for the battalion, having the ability to dig holes in which to get nice and comfy, has a certain appeal.  Digging in mortars and guns might also be useful.

A secondary task would be digging holes and ripping up bridges to make it harder for the other chaps to move would also be handy.

Should the Light Infantry Battalions spend more time figuring out how they can best employ the Engineers?  Backhoes, generators, water.... that kind of stuff?
 

daftandbarmy

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Chris Pook said:
Bump

Thinking about Light Forces - especially a Light Infantry Battalion.

Lets assume that the airlift is limited and by the time the Battalion and its kit is loaded there is only room for one large vehicle to be air-landed.  Which would you rather? 

A tank? Or a Backhoe?  Their weights are different but their volumes are comparable.

To me, lacking armour protection for the battalion, having the ability to dig holes in which to get nice and comfy, has a certain appeal.  Digging in mortars and guns might also be useful.

A secondary task would be digging holes and ripping up bridges to make it harder for the other chaps to move would also be handy.

Should the Light Infantry Battalions spend more time figuring out how they can best employ the Engineers?  Backhoes, generators, water.... that kind of stuff?

The reason that the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines practice marching long distances so much is that their doctrine is one of 'avoiding' the enemy's main force, and emphasizing the indirect approach. Tanks and bulldozers are not required in those cases.

In the US Airborne and Marines, as we know, they take the opposite view.

All that to say, your weapon and vehicle mix is usually driven by your doctrine.
 

Kirkhill

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daftandbarmy said:
The reason that the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines practice marching long distances so much is that their doctrine is one of 'avoiding' the enemy's main force, and emphasizing the indirect approach. Tanks and bulldozers are not required in those cases.

In the US Airborne and Marines, as we know, they take the opposite view.

All that to say, your weapon and vehicle mix is usually driven by your doctrine.

So.... does Canada have a doctrine for Light Forces?  Or for that matter, its actual forces?
 

Jarnhamar

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Light infantry has to stick to hard to access places like cities, swamps, mountains.

Any kind of armored, artillery or air threat is going to wipe the floor with light infantry IMO.

Of the two a backhoe would be better but I don't think it would move around the areas light infantry needs to operate very well.
 
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