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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

daftandbarmy

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The Americans did it with the Rangers (which I detailed below); and, the Brits with their Royal Marines fighting Commando units (with their mix of close and stand off companies) and SFSG (which have a fire support platoon that can employ MMG, HMG and ATGM in each strike coy). I imagine there are other none SOF organizations that have pushed more down to the coy level; operate in a distributed manner; and, are focused on striking and defeating peer and near peer entities.
[/SPOILER]

It doesn't matter how 'special' you are as a unit. Where meat meets metal, the metal will (usually) always win.

I'm guessing that the uncertain reality we're living through right now will force us to maintain a mixed force of light and heavy units, for that reason.
 

Underway

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There are a lot of good arguments for removing tanks from the CAF. The argument that they were useful in Afghanistan is valid only because they provided an overmatch capability for the situation. There was literally no way the Afghans could fight back against a modern MBT. And of course, we had no other options for direct fire, everything else we had was indirect.

It seems pretty clear that the main enemy of an MBT in modern battlespaces is either aircraft or precision fires. There are literally dozens of videos from Syria or Armenia showing how UAV's coupled with precision fires find and destroy armour. The Ukrainian situation has also made it clear that this is an extremely deadly threat.

Removing tanks, going full middleweight, UAVs for scouting and precision fires. Canada can't and doesn't need to be all singing and all dancing. Doubling down on our excellent fieldcraft and infantry skills, skulking around scouting the enemy using various recce assets, then flattening them with precision fires seems like something that we could become experts in quite quickly.Direct fire will be ATM. Quite literally what the USMC is trying to do. It's a strong vision, and has quite a bit of merit.
 

CBH99

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But in the context of going full bore to replace tanks with UAVs, until we have the counter to the counter-measure of EA on our communications links, we basically give ourselves 0 capabilities in the medium term. At least with manned vehicles, a sub-unit commander can be given orders verbally and given mission command so they can operate once rounds start flying and the EM spectrum is denied.

We also have the closest thing to 0 Land EW capability, it's stuck in a Afghanistan "good enough" mindset. If we're planning on a fight in the Baltics, we're not going to fare all that well.
The mindset of 'good enough' EW against groups of enemy with AK's and RPG's, and the odd technical they would ride into battle in -- isn't saying much 🤦‍♂️

Good enough to jam some remote detonated IED's that were made by some guy in a grape hut? Good to know our $20B a year buys us enough capability to jam a home-made radio shack remote det... let's hope some real guidance and specific capabilities/organization of capability comes out of this FORCE 2025.
 

Brad Sallows

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The argument that they were useful in Afghanistan is valid only because they provided an overmatch capability for the situation.

For anything less than the Soviets pouring into the Fulda Gap, I rather prefer to send the army out with overmatch.
 

Underway

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For anything less than the Soviets pouring into the Fulda Gap, I rather prefer to send the army out with overmatch.
And an overmatch against armour appears to be precision fires with UAV's. The way the CA is currently constructed Azerbijan would kick our butts, using Turkish drones dropping rockets an mortars on our positions. Fast, agile, proper air defence, precision artillery/rockets etc... are the way of the future for small armies. It would allow us to provide a specialist skill set for NATO, and similarly allow us to do peace support missions without draining the bank.

If tanks are so important to our armies fighting structure why are there none in the Baltics? Because we can't afford to move and operate them there. If we can't afford to use them for that sort of role, then we need to rethink if we actually need them or let the US provide the heavy formations.
 

daftandbarmy

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There are a lot of good arguments for removing tanks from the CAF. The argument that they were useful in Afghanistan is valid only because they provided an overmatch capability for the situation. There was literally no way the Afghans could fight back against a modern MBT. And of course, we had no other options for direct fire, everything else we had was indirect.

It seems pretty clear that the main enemy of an MBT in modern battlespaces is either aircraft or precision fires. There are literally dozens of videos from Syria or Armenia showing how UAV's coupled with precision fires find and destroy armour. The Ukrainian situation has also made it clear that this is an extremely deadly threat.

Removing tanks, going full middleweight, UAVs for scouting and precision fires. Canada can't and doesn't need to be all singing and all dancing. Doubling down on our excellent fieldcraft and infantry skills, skulking around scouting the enemy using various recce assets, then flattening them with precision fires seems like something that we could become experts in quite quickly.Direct fire will be ATM. Quite literally what the USMC is trying to do. It's a strong vision, and has quite a bit of merit.

Not so. The best anti-tank weapon is still another tank. With great backup from other resources of course.
 

CBH99

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There are a lot of good arguments for removing tanks from the CAF. The argument that they were useful in Afghanistan is valid only because they provided an overmatch capability for the situation. There was literally no way the Afghans could fight back against a modern MBT. And of course, we had no other options for direct fire, everything else we had was indirect.

It seems pretty clear that the main enemy of an MBT in modern battlespaces is either aircraft or precision fires. There are literally dozens of videos from Syria or Armenia showing how UAV's coupled with precision fires find and destroy armour. The Ukrainian situation has also made it clear that this is an extremely deadly threat.

Removing tanks, going full middleweight, UAVs for scouting and precision fires. Direct fire will be ATM. Quite literally what the USMC is trying to do. It's a strong vision, and has quite a bit of merit.

Canada can't and doesn't need to be all singing and all dancing.
Militaries all over the world are in the horrible habit of preparing to fight their last war. Very few are good at planning & equipping for what they 'think' will be their next war. The US has done a very impressive job, thus far, of recognizing that pattern and trying to fix it.

Whether a conflict between the US & China kicks off or not, the fact that they are organizing and equipping themselves as if that fight WILL happen is a change in mindset, even from Iraq 2.0.


Canada went from "We are getting rid of tanks!" to "Tanks could be useful, we will keep tanks and deploy them." to "We need modern tanks, ASAP!" all in a short period of time, by military thinking/procurement standards. We are, unfortunately, a very reactive organization with leadership that is appointed based on their willingness to STFU and not cost the government any more money than they need to.

Canada absolutely doesn't need to be all singing and all dancing. I couldn't agree more. I think we should decide what specific things we want to be really good at, and excel at being really really good at those things. A ship with a dozen or two Canadian MBTs pulling into harbour a month or so after the conflict erupts isn't really doing anybody any good. (My 0.02)

Like you said, the USMC is trying to divest themselves of MBTs and drastically enhance the lethality of it's small units, precisely because they feel that in a peer conflict, that will serve them better.



Let's look at other conflicts that have happened recently - Ukraine, Syria, Armenia, etc. What worked well, and what didn't work? Was there a noticeable game changer? (Ukraine and Armenia, the huge and noticeable game changer was suicide drones/loitering munitions.)

Cheap enough for 2nd world countries to procure in mass quantities, and expend without any fuss - and the result is one less enemy tank. They can be built faster, cheaper, and be deployed with less training and without risking personnel - and the result is a severely depleted enemy armoured force. The CAF should be saying "Hmmmmm, this is worth looking into, right now."

Same conflicts listed above, ATGM capabilities. A modern, accurate, reliable ATGM that kills enemy tanks quickly - prefer the system to be fire and forget. A few solid systems out there right now. Plenty of video evidence to show how a non-professional soldier can figure it out, and take out enemy tanks. (Killing the crew, which takes a while to train, and several million dollars worth of hardware that isn't quickly replaced.)



We have the industry, and budget (believe it or not) to be one of the most lethal armies in the world, just by focusing on what could be our strengths, and divesting ourselves of capabilities that we most likely won't require. Keep it simple. (Even if we were tasked with a Mali deployment tomorrow, the LAVs and TAPVs would be the prime fighting vehicles I would imagine.)

Sure, the public might laugh or have comments about "Our Army doesn't have tanks!" Oh well. Who cares. This is the same public that quite often says "I didn't even know we had a Navy!" despite the Navy being in the news fairly often. One just has to spend a few moments reading the comment section on CBC to be reminded that it isn't worth caring about what the public thinks in regards to these decisions - they aren't the ones deploying.
 

CBH99

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Not so. The best anti-tank weapon is still another tank. With great backup from other resources of course.
Genuine question... is it though?

I know that has tended to be true, and one only has to look at the Gulf War to realize that the best tools to kill Iraqi tanks were American tanks, supported by attack helicopters. (Personally, I would argue that attack helicopters were more optimal, as they could spot & kill enemy tanks from further distances without being seen.)

Maybe that is still true. Maybe it isn't? (I don't know...)


- Looking at the case of Armenia, the best anti-tank weapon was a cheap drone that would scream down onto the tank once the tank was spotted, destroying the tank. Armenia lost the conflict, and lost a staggering percentage of it's armoured force in an amazingly short period of time.

- Depending on terrain, would ATGMs not be more ideal? Far easier to maneuver, can engage directly or top attack, and can quickly move/hide after being fired. Easier to move/hide than an MBT.

- One aspect I'd suggest in determining how good an anti-tank system is - how quickly can the asset be replaced if lost during a conflict? If we lose a tank, that's a few CAF members gone. They take time to train, especially good tank crews - can't replace them too quickly. How quickly can we replace the tank we lost? This is Canada, we won't. How much would it cost to replace that tank anyway? (No idea, but tanks aren't cheap.)

Suicide drones on the other hand can be manufactured in a single day. Be operated without any harm to the operator. If they see a target and attack, BOOM! If they get shot down, or taken down via EW? It's inconvenient, but a lot less inconvenient than a lost tank.


Backup resources are always important, agreed. But is the best anti-tank weapon still another tank? 🤷‍♂️
 

FJAG

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And an overmatch against armour appears to be precision fires with UAV's. The way the CA is currently constructed Azerbijan would kick our butts, using Turkish drones dropping rockets an mortars on our positions. Fast, agile, proper air defence, precision artillery/rockets etc... are the way of the future for small armies. It would allow us to provide a specialist skill set for NATO, and similarly allow us to do peace support missions without draining the bank.

If tanks are so important to our armies fighting structure why are there none in the Baltics? Because we can't afford to move and operate them there. If we can't afford to use them for that sort of role, then we need to rethink if we actually need them or let the US provide the heavy formations.
There are tanks in the Battle Group that Canada commands in Latvia - Italy supplies 8 X Arietes ; Poland supplies a company of PT-91 Twardy (14 tanks); and Spain 6 X Leopard 2E.

There are also various infantry fighting vehicles amongst at least three additional mechanized infantry companies from Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

🍻
 

FJAG

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Genuine question... is it though?

I know that has tended to be true, and one only has to look at the Gulf War to realize that the best tools to kill Iraqi tanks were American tanks, supported by attack helicopters. (Personally, I would argue that attack helicopters were more optimal, as they could spot & kill enemy tanks from further distances without being seen.)

Maybe that is still true. Maybe it isn't? (I don't know...)


- Looking at the case of Armenia, the best anti-tank weapon was a cheap drone that would scream down onto the tank once the tank was spotted, destroying the tank. Armenia lost the conflict, and lost a staggering percentage of it's armoured force in an amazingly short period of time.

- Depending on terrain, would ATGMs not be more ideal? Far easier to maneuver, can engage directly or top attack, and can quickly move/hide after being fired. Easier to move/hide than an MBT.

- One aspect I'd suggest in determining how good an anti-tank system is - how quickly can the asset be replaced if lost during a conflict? If we lose a tank, that's a few CAF members gone. They take time to train, especially good tank crews - can't replace them too quickly. How quickly can we replace the tank we lost? This is Canada, we won't. How much would it cost to replace that tank anyway? (No idea, but tanks aren't cheap.)

Suicide drones on the other hand can be manufactured in a single day. Be operated without any harm to the operator. If they see a target and attack, BOOM! If they get shot down, or taken down via EW? It's inconvenient, but a lot less inconvenient than a lost tank.


Backup resources are always important, agreed. But is the best anti-tank weapon still another tank? 🤷‍♂️
If a tank can be destroyed by a drone then everything else is even easier to destroy. Replacing a squadron of tanks with a company of ATGMs gets you no real advantage. Adding a viable anti-air/anti-drone defence system and/or active protection systems will give you a degree of protection regardless what you put it on or deploy it with.

Would we have use for loitering munitions. Absolutely. But even if you take out quite a few of the enemy equipment you still have no weapon system to counter attack with or to seize ground with.

A combined arms organization is exactly that - a combination of assets that work in concert. Do I know what the right mix of those assets is? Nope. But I'm fairly sure of what type of assets you need and some type of heavily armoured but well protected piece of kit still has a role amongst all the other stuff in some cases.

🍻
 

suffolkowner

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Ideally we should be able to sing and dance at the same time. Could we do Afghanistan over again? We have the added capabilities from that engagement Leopard 2, M777, Chinooks, upgraded Lavs, but it seems that we are dependent on the opposing force lacking any anti-tank or air defence capabilities nevermind the presence and proliferation of loitering munitions. It seems unreasonable to me to expect that even when facing non-state or near state actors like ISIS or the Taliban in the future.

Still lacking the basics

GBAD
SHORAD
MALE/HALE UAV

an almost complete absence of any firing options other than the MBT. If the removal of the tank resulted in the aquisition of these capabilities than at least there would be something to talk about but more than likely it will just result in another lost capability.

The wish list

GBAD--NASAAMS2?
SHORAD--IMSHORAD?
MALE/HALE--Reaper?
155mmSPH--Archer/Caesar/ATMOS?
MRLS--HIMARS/Lynx?
120mmSP--Cardom/NEMO/AMOS?
loitering munitions--Harop?

and the communications,radar, and EW capabilities to support all the above
 

GR66

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Ideally we should be able to sing and dance at the same time. Could we do Afghanistan over again? We have the added capabilities from that engagement Leopard 2, M777, Chinooks, upgraded Lavs, but it seems that we are dependent on the opposing force lacking any anti-tank or air defence capabilities nevermind the presence and proliferation of loitering munitions. It seems unreasonable to me to expect that even when facing non-state or near state actors like ISIS or the Taliban in the future.

Still lacking the basics

GBAD
SHORAD
MALE/HALE UAV

an almost complete absence of any firing options other than the MBT. If the removal of the tank resulted in the aquisition of these capabilities than at least there would be something to talk about but more than likely it will just result in another lost capability.

The wish list

GBAD--NASAAMS2?
SHORAD--IMSHORAD?
MALE/HALE--Reaper?
155mmSPH--Archer/Caesar/ATMOS?
MRLS--HIMARS/Lynx?
120mmSP--Cardom/NEMO/AMOS?
loitering munitions--Harop?

and the communications,radar, and EW capabilities to support all the above
Add Trophy APS/Raytheon Quick Kill to the list to provide some protection to these assets.

As quickly becomes obvious there are a LOT of pieces of the puzzle to fielding an effective and survivable military force and we are missing a LOT of those pieces.

FGAG has long suggested having a Heavy, Medium and Light Brigade instead of 3 x symmetrical medium brigades to meet the different challenges we might face. While my personal belief is that lighter forces are far more likely to be what we need for the proxy wars and insurgencies that are the most common expressions of great power competition I agree that it would be foolish to completely abandon the heavy elements of combat power because if you DO need them light forces cannot fill the gap.

Perhaps if we don't have the personnel and budget to field three properly manned and equipped Brigades (heavy/medium/light) we should instead focus on the two extremes. One Heavy Brigade with combined arms battalions of tanks and LAVs, SP artillery, GBAD, ATGMs, etc. all protected by active protection systems and one Light Brigade with many of the features that have been discussed in this thread and elsewhere.

Any resources that remain should be put into Reg Force and Reserve capabilities to support these Brigades including EW, GBAD and Fires (everything from mortars, howitzers and loitering munitions to long range precision strike like HIMARS).

In all honesty this really should be doable within the budget and manning available to the Army.
 

daftandbarmy

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If you're looking for a 'Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs' applied to any modern military force, here are a couple of good quotes to help point you in the right direction:

"For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank." -- Winston Churchill, 1949

"If we lose the war in the air, we lose the war and lose it quickly.” — Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery
 

Kirkhill

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There is a place for the tank on the modern battlefield. Even the USMC acknowledges that. They have just made the decision to pass the task on to the US Army who maintains a useful fleet of tanks, organized, trained and supported to excel in their role. Likewise with cannons and attack helicopters. They are hard to deploy rapidly over long distances.

Our ABCA partners all maintain fleets of modern tanks. There is a need for them. But perhaps the need is not as great as it was.

I do question the notion that the tank is the best anti-tank weapon. To me that sets up a boxing match between two equal opponents. 15 rounds to have the judges declare a draw. I want to see Rock-Paper-Scissors - assymetric battles that generate a conclusive result quickly.

I believe that tanks have their places. Afghanistan was one example, as the Danes and Canadians proved. Modern tanks with good crews were better than what the locals could put up. They significantly overmatched the locals. Score one for the tanks.

Tanks, I believe, are also critical to the offense. But they are a lot more vulnerable to defenders than they used to be. They are too expensive, and hard to deploy to be used en masse. They need to be husbanded and kept in the rear to exploit opportunities. They require a lot more battlefield preparation than they used to.

That battlefield prep, as always, falls to the artillery. So the real question, for me, is how best to exploit, fully, the modern technologies available to the artillery. And that starts with providing the arty with eyes and ears and good comms.



The second point that occurs to me from this discussion is this. Is there still a place for Infantry on the modern battlefield?

Infantry in the sense of the traditional foot-slogger.

As I read all of the discussions it seems to me that infanteers are going to ride as far forwards as they can before dismounting. Doesn't that make them all Mounted Infantry or, as they came to be known in the 1600s, Dragoons?

Planes, trains and automobiles, or ATVs and helos.

And as far as the Close With and Destroy Bit is concerned. The strength of the infanteer on the ground could be described in terms of their ability to employ man-portable artillery - ATMs, AA, MGs, even the re-learning of long range shooting instead of the 200 meter battle. And the elimination of the bayonet. More fusiliers, musketeers and rifles than "infantry".
 

Brad Sallows

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Of course, the advantage of drones only lasts until effective counter-measures are deployed. Then the guy with a tank-equipped army still has a tank-equipped army.
 

CBH99

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Of course, the advantage of drones only lasts until effective counter-measures are deployed. Then the guy with a tank-equipped army still has a tank-equipped army.
When you’re right, you’re right.
 

Kirkhill

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Of course, the advantage of drones only lasts until effective counter-measures are deployed. Then the guy with a tank-equipped army still has a tank-equipped army.
Only if they are still on the boat to theatre and the boat is still above water.

If they are in theatre then those drones will have started to strip away the tanks, with or without counter-measures. And the drones (Precision Guided Munitions of all sorts) are cheaper than the tanks, IFVs and APCs.
 

Underway

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There are tanks in the Battle Group that Canada commands in Latvia - Italy supplies 8 X Arietes ; Poland supplies a company of PT-91 Twardy (14 tanks); and Spain 6 X Leopard 2E.

There are also various infantry fighting vehicles amongst at least three additional mechanized infantry companies from Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

Yes, however, I was referring to Canadian tanks. It sort of proves my point.

1. Canada never in our history has fought without allies. All conflicts are choices.
2. In Latvia it was decided that other countries would be better to supply the heavy armour, Canada would be better to supply HQ, support, LAV's, infantry. If Canada didn't have tanks this wouldn't have changed. We still would be providing the same thing.
3. Tanks are expensive, we've spread over three regiments and a school. Why? Because of internal army politics or ego as far as I can tell. If tanks were so useful then they wouldn't be piecemealed out like this to "retain skills". They would be concentrated so they can do their job correctly.
4. Peace support missions where Canada has intervened don't require tanks.

A combined arms organization is exactly that - a combination of assets that work in concert. Do I know what the right mix of those assets is? Nope. But I'm fairly sure of what type of assets you need and some type of heavily armoured but well protected piece of kit still has a role amongst all the other stuff in some cases.
Yes, heavy armour has a role, however, is it one that Canada needs or has to fill? This is the entire point of my argument. I'm not saying tanks are dead, I'm saying Canada, given the army's historical roles, and geopolitical realities we don't actually need them. Someone else provides the heavy armour, we slot in elsewhere in the battlespace.

Given how vulnerable armour has been shown to be against precision fires perhaps that's where we need to focus instead. Not many allies have that capability. Lots of them have tanks.
 
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Kirkhill

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Further to my thought on Infantry and Dragoons.

Here is a not atypical sight on Alberta highways.

1623603998682.png

The pick-up with one or two ATVs or snowmachines on the back is common. The trailer with the RIB is not so common.

Here's the militarised version.

1623604225708.png

My problem with the ISV is its size and weight in the Canadian context. In the US context, at 5000 lb kerb weight, the vehicle can be sling loaded by the US Utility Helicopter, the BlackHawk. However it is twice the weight, empty, that a CH146 can lift. The Polaris Dagor is a little lighter at 2045 kg but still too heavy for the CH146. And there are only 17 CH147s in the inventory, meaning that if all the CH147s were tasked to one lift they could only lift 34 vehicles concurrently.

1623605362334.png


On the other hand things like the Polaris MRZR are liftable, I believe, over short distances, by the CH146 but can't maintain highway speeds. And they are relatively bulky so take up a lot of space in an aircraft.

1623605177708.png
 

GR66

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If we're deploying light forces in response to a peer attack of some sort what is the likelihood that we will a) have a significant number of rotary wing aircraft forward deployed to be available to transport our vehicles, and b) what is the likelihood that we'd be willing to risk those aircraft by using them to forward deploy those vehicles?

A more likely scenario in my mind is we use our fixed wing transport to deliver the units and their vehicles a safe distance away from the front and they self deploy from there. A somewhat larger vehicle gives you many more options as far as weapons that can be integrated (basically anything that you've seen mounted on a Humvee) and if you really need to deploy forces forward by helicopter there are ATV's etc. that could be used instead.
 
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