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

Combat Team of tomorrow? Mechanized Infantry Company of tomorrow?

Old Sweat

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
114
Points
630
Tango2Bravo said:
Mortars exist at the Bn level to provide coordinated fire support along with the guns.

FTFY. Mortars provide a flexible, accurate and effective fire support resource. How the army managed to convince itself that mortars were obsolete is beyond me. (An ex-CLS referred to mortars as "obsolete" in a conversation with me several years ago.)
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,463
Points
1,110
GR66 said:
I'm not so sure about that.  If we're faced with defending against an enemy advance (much more likely than an offensive NATO scenario), having troops capable of creating hasty obstacles to slow an enemy advance would be a significant advantage.

I agree: our Battle Groups and Brigade Groups should be able to emplace obstacles and also be able to breach/clear them. We have that capability now.

For discussion purposes I will offer a couple of hypothetical Battle Groups (BG) for use in a European or peer setting. They would both be part of NATO formations (multinational). Both will be based on existing equipment and organizations.

The first would be an BG based on an infantry battalion. There would be a BG HQ with the required communications equipment including the means to talk with the higher formation. The basis of the BG's combat power would be three infantry companies equipped with LAVs and a tank squadron with Leopard 2A6Ms. We could add a Recce Platoon in LUVWs, TAPVs or even LAVs. We could add an Engineer Troop or an Engineer Squadron. We could deploy a Mortar Troop manned by the artillery along with an FSCC and FOOs (ATG) to plug into higher formation fire support. A robust Administration Company could be deployed, backed up by an NSE for unique Canadian needs that would plug into the NATO logistics chain. The type of UAS support provided to this BG could be a good debate: there are number of options.

This Inf BG would be quite capable. It has plenty of firepower to deal with light AFVs. It has infantry that can operate in close terrain. The Leopard 2A6s are arguably the most capable tanks on the battlefield. The engineers can enable mobility/countermobility and survivability for the BG. That could include mentoring/advising the very capable NCOs in the infantry companies on field fortifications. The mortars can provide responsive/ dedicated fire support to the BG while the FOOs/FSCC access coalition fire support. All of this is possible with what we have in Canada today.

The missing element is anti-tank for the infantry. What they need is integral anti-tank systems like Javelin: say one per platoon and one in the Coy HQ. The BG could also use a TUA platoon to form the basis of the anti-armour plan. These two measures would allow the BG commander to mass his Leopards at the decisive time and place and not employ them piecemeal to protect LAV companies. A number of grouping possibilities exist in this Inf BG ranging from pure sub-units to a variety of combat teams based on the situation.

An alternative BG could be based on an Armoured Regt HQ. It would have two Leopard squadrons, an infantry company and a reconnaissance squadron. It would also have the Engineer Troop or Squadron as well as the supporting Mortar Tp and FSCC. Of course it would have a robust Headquarters Squadron. This BG could perform a number of tasks for a NATO formation including Guard tasks or acting as a formation-level countermoves force. One flaw is that only one of the squadrons would have the 55 calibre 120mm gun.

This armoured BG would also have a number of grouping options for the sub-units once again ranging from pure sub-units to combat teams. If the BG was performing an advanced guard for a NATO Bde then it could lead with the recce squadron and a square combat team with the second tank squadron in reserve. The square combat team would destroy enemy outposts and identify the enemy main line of resistance to allow for the clean deployment of the follow-on forces. The infantry company could be broken up to give a platoon to one tank squadron and a company minus to the other if we were advancing on two axis with few cross-mobility corridors.

What I am trying to show here is that we have most of the capabilities needed. We actually have some world-class equipment including an amazing main battle tank. Discussions about Combat Teams and Battle Groups are not simple intellectual exercises. They should be had!

 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,463
Points
1,110
Old Sweat said:
FTFY. Mortars provide a flexible, accurate and effective fire support resource. How the army managed to convince itself that mortars were obsolete is beyond me. (An ex-CLS referred to mortars as "obsolete" in a conversation with me several years ago.)

My point is that artillery might not be available: perhaps the BG is not the main effort and the guns are being employed in support of something else. In this case, an integral fire support element (mortars) gives the BG commander some level of guaranteed fire support regardless of where he fits into the Bde Comd's priorities.
 

Old Sweat

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
114
Points
630
Tango2Bravo said:
My point is that artillery might not be available: perhaps the BG is not the main effort and the guns are being employed in support of something else. In this case, an integral fire support element (mortars) gives the BG commander some level of guaranteed fire support regardless of where he fits into the Bde Comd's priorities.

That is a possibility, and especially in our artillery-anemic army, but one that should only occur rarely. I would also note that AH has been mentioned hardly at all in our discussions. The ATG provides the ability to employ these assets, along with fast air, in close support of our forces, regardless if guns are available or not.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Relic
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
5,408
Points
1,160
But, if it is being argued that 37x 155mm is insufficient capability then what merit is there in 6x 81mm or even 8x 120mm?

How about a battle group backed by 24x 155mm?  Does that start to get the job done? 
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
16,835
Points
1,160
The other thing we need, of course, is a proper MG Platoon in the BG.

If you're going to set up killing areas, and shape the battlefield accordingly, you need a heavy weight of concentrated, flexible, dispersed DIY killing power at the medium ranges to wipe out bad guys after you force them to dismount in your preferred 'ante room'.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,463
Points
1,110
Old Sweat said:
That is a possibility, and especially in our artillery-anemic army, but one that should only occur rarely. I would also note that AH has been mentioned hardly at all in our discussions. The ATG provides the ability to employ these assets, along with fast air, in close support of our forces, regardless if guns are available or not.

In the hypothetical NATO Brigade Group to which our hypothetical Canadian BG would belong I would envision an artillery battalion with several batteries of self-propelled 155mm guns provided by NATO nations that retained that capability. Perhaps these would all be shooting in support of the Canadian BG for a particular engagement, but perhaps they would not based on the tactical situation. If the Canadians are not the main effort at a particular time then we might not get the guns. This would be true in an all-Canadian CMBG as well for any particular BG. The battalion mortars give guaranteed fire support to the BG CO.

Attack helicopters would not be BG assets. They could certainly operate in our battlespace, but they would not be BG or Cbt Tm assets. 
 

McG

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
2,565
Points
1,160
Protective obstacles (including those with AT mines) are supposed to be an all arms function.  You don't need engineers or pioneers for those.

Tactical obstacles are not hasty if emplaned by engineers or pioneers.  If you want hasty tactical obstacles, then you want artillery SCATMINE (which are conveniently and explicitly excluded from regulation under the treaty against cluster munitions)
 

Old Sweat

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
114
Points
630
There are a host of enablers that are not part of the Combat Team, Battle Group or even the Brigade Group. That does not mean that we should not be prepared to employ them properly and that our commanders and troops should not be trained in their use. And we may not be able to get them all the time, or even most of the time and perhaps just a tiny bit of the time, but if our world is going pear-shaped, no telling what will show up to join the fight.

This is getting well off the subject, but a line I have used in the past when discussing artillery in battle was extrapolated from a passage LGen Sir Brian Horrocks, the GOC-inC of 30 BR Corps in NWE, wrote in one of his books. He commented on sitting on a hill in NWE with his corps artillery commander, who had 1000 guns on call no farther away than the end of his radio antenna.

I would pause and then add, "and what was important is that so did all the FOOs in his corps, and they weren't afraid to call for them." Different war, and different circumstances, but the principle still applies, and not just with guns.
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
16,835
Points
1,160
Old Sweat said:
There are a host of enablers that are not part of the Combat Team, Battle Group or even the Brigade Group. That does not mean that we should not be prepared to employ them properly and that our commanders and troops should not be trained in their use. And we may not be able to get them all the time, or even most of the time and perhaps just a tiny bit of the time, but if our world is going pear-shaped, no telling what will show up to join the fight.

This is getting well off the subject, but a line I have used in the past when discussing artillery in battle was extrapolated from a passage LGen Sir Brian Horrocks, the GOC-inC of 30 BR Corps in NWE, wrote in one of his books. He commented on sitting on a hill in NWE with his corps artillery commander, who had 1000 guns on call no farther away than the end of his radio antenna.

I would pause and then add, "and what was important is that so did all the FOOs in his corps, and they weren't afraid to call for them." Different war, and different circumstances, but the principle still applies, and not just with guns.


I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did.

George S. Patton
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,463
Points
1,110
Old Sweat said:
There are a host of enablers that are not part of the Combat Team, Battle Group or even the Brigade Group. That does not mean that we should not be prepared to employ them properly and that our commanders and troops should not be trained in their use. And we may not be able to get them all the time, or even most of the time and perhaps just a tiny bit of the time, but if our world is going pear-shaped, no telling what will show up to join the fight.

Is anyone suggesting that we should not be prepared to employ fire support and other higher-level enablers? I am suggesting that a battalion commander may not receive the artillery support/ fire support that is held at a higher level. That is why he needs his own small element such as mortars to enable him to suppress a target when he is not the main effort.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
6,844
Points
1,040
Tango2Bravo said:
In the hypothetical NATO Brigade Group to which our hypothetical Canadian BG would belong I would envision an artillery battalion with several batteries of self-propelled 155mm guns provided by NATO nations that retained that capability. Perhaps these would all be shooting in support of the Canadian BG for a particular engagement, but perhaps they would not based on the tactical situation. If the Canadians are not the main effort at a particular time then we might not get the guns. This would be true in an all-Canadian CMBG as well for any particular BG. The battalion mortars give guaranteed fire support to the BG CO.

Attack helicopters would not be BG assets. They could certainly operate in our battlespace, but they would not be BG or Cbt Tm assets.

Artillery structures vary across NATO but generally a brigade would have one artillery battalion with three six gun batteries of either 105mm or (more commonly) 155 mm with one battery generally providing direct support for each battalion size manoeuvre element. The flexibility of artillery fire means that fire can be massed at a critical location which means that non critical areas may lose their support from time to time.

Aviation is a division or higher resource. Currently for the US that can be anywhere from 16 Apache's in one battalion to 48 Apaches in two battalions depending on the division. Other NATO armies vary. (like ours, we have sweet f*** all)

Call me an old fashioned kind of guy but I like mortars integral to the battalion. It's a dedicated indirect fire support that is always there and mortar fire is different in nature from what artillery and aviation brings to the game. The high rate of plunging fire (IMHO) is, in certain circumstances, very effective.

:subbies:
 

RCPalmer

Member
Reaction score
0
Points
210
FJAG said:
Artillery structures vary across NATO but generally a brigade would have one artillery battalion with three six gun batteries of either 105mm or (more commonly) 155 mm with one battery generally providing direct support for each battalion size manoeuvre element. The flexibility of artillery fire means that fire can be massed at a critical location which means that non critical areas may lose their support from time to time.

Aviation is a division or higher resource. Currently for the US that can be anywhere from 16 Apache's in one battalion to 48 Apaches in two battalions depending on the division. Other NATO armies vary. (like ours, we have sweet f*** all)

Call me an old fashioned kind of guy but I like mortars integral to the battalion. It's a dedicated indirect fire support that is always there and mortar fire is different in nature from what artillery and aviation brings to the game. The high rate of plunging fire (IMHO) is, in certain circumstances, very effective.

:subbies:

This seems to be the way things are headed again, particularly with light forces development.  The hat badge of the Mortar Pl members is another question, but I wouldn't be fussed either way as long as the capability is re-established. 

However, on that vein it would be nice if we actually built some doctrine on the combined arms groupings built around light forces.  Light Infantry Coy with tanks?  Light Infantry Coy with Pl sized attachments which may or may not have integral lift for their pers and/or equipment?  There is practically nothing on this, and there is lots of applicability for these types of scenarios in COIN or complex terrain.

 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
31
Points
560
If the mortars are a DIY artillery when higher assets are not available, then we should be pushing for 120mm (and better yet automatic 120mms like Dragonfire). This gives even the independent BG the ability to shape the battlefield with fire.
 

Haligonian

Sr. Member
Reaction score
158
Points
680
SeaKingTacco said:
No, he probably means DPICM. It was a montrously efficient method of deal with massed armour.

Good point.  I should have known that.

Tango,

I agree that our doctrine is flexible and that ultimately this comes down to a CO's decision.  My point, however, is that our intellectual foundation puts a lot of weight on the square cbt tm. All the drills in Cbt Tm in Ops are for square teams.  The CTCC aims for a square team.  These are not insignificant facts as they form the foundation of cbt tm experience for many officers.  Further I would suggest that it does bleed over into the field force.  I'll need to confirm but I'm pretty sure that as of right now the plan for the Lvl 5 live at RUGGED BEAR this year is a square cbt tm.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Relic
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
5,408
Points
1,160
Thucydides said:
If the mortars are a DIY artillery when higher assets are not available, then we should be pushing for 120mm (and better yet automatic 120mms like Dragonfire). This gives even the independent BG the ability to shape the battlefield with fire.

When you say Automatic - I hear 10 tonne truck.
 

GnyHwy

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1
Points
430
Haligonian said:
Good point.  I should have known that.

DPICM and what you said.

Old Sweat said:
FTFY. Mortars provide a flexible, accurate and effective fire support resource. How the army managed to convince itself that mortars were obsolete is beyond me. (An ex-CLS referred to mortars as "obsolete" in a conversation with me several years ago.)

That takes a lot of koolaid!
 

Humphrey Bogart

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Reaction score
7,446
Points
1,360
GnyHwy said:
DPICM and what you said.

That takes a lot of koolaid!

Just go on YouTube and Google mortar, they're a staple in every other military in the world.  "Mortars are obsolete" just another reason why I'm pulling plug on this roadshow.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,463
Points
1,110
Haligonian said:
Tango,

I agree that our doctrine is flexible and that ultimately this comes down to a CO's decision.  My point, however, is that our intellectual foundation puts a lot of weight on the square cbt tm. All the drills in Cbt Tm in Ops are for square teams.  The CTCC aims for a square team.  These are not insignificant facts as they form the foundation of cbt tm experience for many officers.  Further I would suggest that it does bleed over into the field force.  I'll need to confirm but I'm pretty sure that as of right now the plan for the Lvl 5 live at RUGGED BEAR this year is a square cbt tm.

I have certainly done many more combat team advances and quick attacks in the field force than I have been in battle group attacks. I think that the square combat team is more at the emotional foundation of the army than the intellectual. When large scale collective training collapsed in the 90s and workups for peacekeeping ops were the bug deals, the combat team attack was where we preserved "war fighting" training. When we do Battle Group exercises the playbook opens up for groupings.

I teach at the staff college, and square combat teams are not the standard answer to a problem here. BG level problems call for BG level solutions.

I've been on CTCCs with combat teams based on squadron minuses and half squadrons: even recce (edited to fix auto-correct...) squadrons! The TTPs from the book can be adapted.
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
5,502
Points
1,260
Tango2Bravo said:
I think that the square combat team is more at the emotional foundation of the army than the intellectual.

I think you're right on that mark.

My biggest critique of the square combat team (the Square) is that it seems to run counter-intuitive to the notion of maximizing C2 nodes.  Much of the study I've done suggests that smaller tactical organizations tend to fair better.  For example, there is a good amount of literature on how a Squadron of four troops of 3 tanks performs better than a Squadron of three troops of four due to the extra C2 node (there is no increase in tanks, only one extra Troop Leader is added to the fray).  The Square seems to run counter to this - putting in excess of 35 armoured fighting vehicles under a single sub-unit commander.

So yes, it's but one tool in the box, but have we made it the shiniest tool when it may not actually be a very practical one?

Let's take your hypothetical Armoured Regiment example - two tank squadrons and an infantry company, combined with a recce squadron.  As opposed to having a Square plowing behind the Recce Squadron, would the CO be better served with two sub-units to manoeuvre behind the recce screen?  Although the Sqn/Coy will occupy roughly the same ground, I suspect having both OCs pushing forces forward would be much more nimble than having one of the OCs plod forward with the whole shebang.  One of the coolest exercises I saw was a BG Delay under a Armoured Regt HQ that had 2 Armoured Sqns and 2 Mech Coys.  However, the desire to "go Square" meant that the Infantry OCs weren't doing much.  I wonder if that limited what the BG could squeeze out of those resources.

Could make for an interesting bit of JCATS simulation - see what can be controlled by a BG Comd better and what is more responsive to changes on the battlefield.  A 4 Tp + 3 Coy Square or a 2 Tp + 2 Coy and 2 Tp + 1 Pl Cbt Team bounding together.
 
Top