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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

Underway

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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.

And what you describe is the only way we could deploy anything but paratroops (whatever form they come in). A friendly port or airbase. We have no amphib or ro-ro capability to deploy any other way.
 

FJAG

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... FJAG 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.
The highlighted portion above is where you and I definitely agree. This belief is where I base my division between which forces should be Reg F - doing a job day-to-day and Res F- doing a job only when an major emergency strikes.

Equipment has a high initial cost to acquire and a much lower continuing cost to maintain. Personnel has a recurring annual cost very much dependent on whether it is full-time or part-time. You need both to be there in sufficient numbers and in an acceptable state of maintenance and collective training to be employable.

The need for having a lighter force (and I'll leave aside its constituent parts) to deal with day-to-day or rapid need threats should be substantially met by Reg F units whose size can be tailored to meet the government's appetite for involvement in these types of missions (as well as the ability to be augmented by Res F volunteers on follow-on rotos)

The need for a more complex and less likely high intensity threat should be substantially met by Res F units who spend most of the waiting time on less expensive stand-by. That such units need combat ready equipment is obvious. That they need to have a core of trained leadership (many of which will be full-timers) is also obvious. The these organizations need both individual and collective training to get them to an acceptable standard of training is also obvious. And finally that these organizations cannot be built and equipped overnight but will need to be created over years is equally obvious.

I call these Res F formations "heavy" because I currently believe that for modern peer combat traditional "heavy" equipment is one essential component, albeit that many other lighter elements such at ATGMs, AD, UAVs, radars, comms, EW, rockets etc etc are also needed (and who knows, might even predominate). I call them "heavy" because they will be doing heavy fighting as much as having some heavy equipment.

I've been a proponent of three asymmetric Reg F brigades but my thinking is that perhaps two would do if one created one Reg F "heavy" brigade (to train for the big stuff and continuously man Latvia) and one Reg F light/medium brigade (to be a quick reaction/peacekeeping force). The third brigade could be carved up with one battalion or so becoming part of CSOR (which would have an expanded mandate going into more light ops and foreign training assistance tasks) and the rest being the foundation of the core of an expandable, mobilizable Res F structure of perhaps two "heavy" manoeuvre and three or four support brigades as well as a small pool of battalions of individual augmentees to the two Reg F brigades.

The big thing is that yes, I agree; the lighter missions are the ones we will be doing much more of day-to-day and that the larger portion of the Reg F Army should be dedicated to that on a day-to-day basis. But ... we could afford a better equipped and larger "heavy" component for the Army if we saved a substantial amount of the annual costs by having its manpower come from less expensive reservists.

And what you describe is the only way we could deploy anything but paratroops (whatever form they come in). A friendly port or airbase. We have no amphib or ro-ro capability to deploy any other way.

We don't necessarily need the capability. What we need is a plan. Some possible solutions are:

1) have standing contracts for civilian ROROs with a number of secure port options for Europe or wherever and a plan road/rail movement within theatre;

2) create Naval and Air and Army reserve resources whose principle jobs and equipment are international deployment support;

3) preposition stocks of equipment and supplies in theatre and have standing contracts with airlines to do emergency flyovers; and

4) reorganizing Maple Resolve to be annual deployment test exercises.

Not having the resources full-time is not an excuse. Not having a standing plan is inexcusable.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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Re naval transport

We have Canadian Cargo Ship Companies like Federal and CSL. We have a demonstrated requirement for more maritime connectors around out coasts, particularly in the Arctic. Why aren't we subsidizing excess capacity which the government can access in time of need as STUFT (Shipping Taken Up From Trade?)

Have the companies take on designs that aren't necessarily optimum for their needs but include ancillary capabilities that could come in handy.

Have the Reserves (Naval or Arty or Air) take on the task of managing and operating containerized AD systems that can be deployed aboard or on shore.
 

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In a lot of ways what you are describing from a doctrinal concept is one of the two UK Strike Brigades. While I've been looking, I haven't found very much on how that brigade or the units in it function other than the basis will be two cavalry regiments with Ajax (right now still Scimitar and Challenger) and two infantry battalions with Boxer (right now still Warrior). Beyond that there is still a lot of experimentation being worked out with how these elements will operate.

Personally I dislike any organization that selects the equipment first and then tries to figure out what to do with it. But at least one of the brigades is designated a "Strike Experimentation Group" so that's a positive sign.

🍻


Near as I can understand the Strike Brigade concept was eliminated, in the sense of a Combined Arms Brigade.

The current form seems to comprise the following "kinetic" elements :


1x Combat Aviation Brigade Combat Team - equipped with Apache and Wildcat helos

1x Deep Recce Strike Brigade Combat Team - equipped with MRLS and AS90s (or their replacements) together with an AJAX mounted recce unit
(some people would call this an Artillery Brigade)

2x Heavy Brigade Combat Teams - equipped with Challenger MBTs, AJAX AFVs and Boxer WAPCs

2x Light Brigade Combat Teams - equipped with Jackal Recce Vehicles, Foxhound Protected Vehicles and Light Infantry.

1x Air Manoeuvre Brigade Combat Team - globally deployable, air transportable Light Infantry equipped with specialty light vehicles

1x Army Special Operations Brigade (Rangers - Persistent Presence)

1x Security Force Assistance Brigade (Persistent Presence)



The document outlines further changes that will occur to the service. The British Army structure will be reorganised into seven self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), divided as follows: two heavy, one deep strike, two light, one air manoeuvre, and one combat aviation brigade (Forces.net, 2021).


 

FJAG

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Near as I can understand the Strike Brigade concept was eliminated, in the sense of a Combined Arms Brigade.

...
Not quite. Army 2020 Refine was definitely changed by the Defence in the Competitive Age

The Deep Strike Brigade Combat Team (DSBCT) essentially continues the Strike Brigade (SB) concept of deep ranging dispersed forces that would degrade an advancing enemy through attrition by way of a wide variety of weapons including AS 90, MLRS, air, ATGMs etc.

The key change the Brits have done (aside from the numerous obvious changes) is reorganize from pure brigades (where all artillery, engineers and other support was held separate from the brigades and allocated out as required by mission/operation) into brigade combat teams each of which has integral combat and service support elements. Its interesting that they took the American term rather than the Canadian "brigade group" - let's face it; we did it first - sucking up to their special friends, I bet.

It's this more permanent grouping of guns and rockets into the DSBCT which makes the DSBCT look different from the SB. The Challengers and Warriors currently in them were scheduled to be replaced by Ajax and Boxer anyway. If the DSBCT ends up with no Boxers but be purely AJAX, that could be a definite improvement in both mobility and maintenance.

Similarly the SBs were meant to be the rapid reaction elements of 3 UK Div (presumably to be followed up in due course by it's two heavy brigades and other divisional assets if required and time and space permitted.) That still seems to be the case but reading the tea leaves it looks a bit more like the DSBCT is not expected to be able to act as independently as first envisioned but be part of a bigger force instead. My expectation would be that in a defensive fight, once the DSBCT gets worn down or overrun its artillery resources (if still extant) would transfer to whatever force is still in the game.

I'm actually surprised that neither Pinstripe nor Wavell have any articles on these changes yet (just some generic fluff on DCA.

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My thoughts on planning follows. I'm still learning this theory so some of this may be way off. But this is how I currently understand it:
Personally I dislike any organization that selects the equipment first and then tries to figure out what to do with it. But at least one of the brigades is designated a "Strike Experimentation Group" so that's a positive sign.
Contrast that with the Royal Navy. They know what they want (carrier strike, submarine nuclear strike, limited amphibious operations, protection of those assets with the rest of the fleet) and generally how to get there. That's because they have a threat to plan against, and they know the tools to deal with that threat. The threat to the UK is seaborne and they develop elsewhere. The RN needs to be able to strike at those threats before they make it near the UK or her interests.

The UK army is generally developed on capability-based planning (CBP) from what I can see. Which is not ideal. There is no land-based "threat" for them to plan against. So they develop expeditionary forces that are generally balanced with their capabilities. And that means equipment first, doctrine second in a lot of cases. Get the capability and then figure out how to integrate it.

For Canada, we are forced into CBP given that we have no existential threat territorially similar to the UK. So you developed capabilities. So for ships, we want generally purpose frigates because you never know what the job is going to be. And an army that has no focus because again, no idea what the job is going to be. CBP also seems to cause longer-lived equipment. Equipment generally outlives the doctrine because it also outlives the threat. If there is no threat you can often ignore older equipment issues because it still provides a capability. There is not impetus to change equipment because there is no threat.

Contrast that with how we responded in Afghanistan. The UAV's, helicopters, tanks, and RG31's were threat-based planned equipment purchases. They fit into our insurgency doctrine that was developed in response to a specific threat.
 

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So all that above to say there isn't a threat to Canada. However, there are direct threats to Canada. Land, air, sea we are in a fireproof house. That much is very clear. However, we are on the front lines in information, cyber, and space domains. These are where Canadian security really needs to step up and should be considered heavily in any army future structure discussions. There may be a role there for the army (information for sure) that needs to be considered.
 

daftandbarmy

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My thoughts on planning follows. I'm still learning this theory so some of this may be way off. But this is how I currently understand it:

Contrast that with the Royal Navy. They know what they want (carrier strike, submarine nuclear strike, limited amphibious operations, protection of those assets with the rest of the fleet) and generally how to get there. That's because they have a threat to plan against, and they know the tools to deal with that threat. The threat to the UK is seaborne and they develop elsewhere. The RN needs to be able to strike at those threats before they make it near the UK or her interests.

The UK army is generally developed on capability-based planning (CBP) from what I can see. Which is not ideal. There is no land-based "threat" for them to plan against. So they develop expeditionary forces that are generally balanced with their capabilities. And that means equipment first, doctrine second in a lot of cases. Get the capability and then figure out how to integrate it.

For Canada, we are forced into CBP given that we have no existential threat territorially similar to the UK. So you developed capabilities. So for ships, we want generally purpose frigates because you never know what the job is going to be. And an army that has no focus because again, no idea what the job is going to be. CBP also seems to cause longer-lived equipment. Equipment generally outlives the doctrine because it also outlives the threat. If there is no threat you can often ignore older equipment issues because it still provides a capability. There is not impetus to change equipment because there is no threat.

Contrast that with how we responded in Afghanistan. The UAV's, helicopters, tanks, and RG31's were threat-based planned equipment purchases. They fit into our insurgency doctrine that was developed in response to a specific threat.

The land based threat for the UK has always been generated from mainland Europe which, like their NATO involvement, is still central to their defence policy.

The lighter forces they generate to meet their 'residual Imperial commitments' has always been arranged around the edges of that central European 'heavy metal' force.

Now that they see a growing threat from China, they've formally rearranged some of those light forces into a more specific type of deterrent, probably to be able to interact more seamlessly with similar US forces. Compared to the cost of their their armoured formations and nuclear deterrent, this is petty cash of course.
 

CBH99

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So all that above to say there isn't a threat to Canada. However, there are direct threats to Canada. Land, air, sea we are in a fireproof house. That much is very clear. However, we are on the front lines in information, cyber, and space domains. These are where Canadian security really needs to step up and should be considered heavily in any army future structure discussions. There may be a role there for the army (information for sure) that needs to be considered.
The level of tardiness & lack of foresight in Ottawa on defense matters has only been possible because we are lucky enough to have a giant moat on 3 sides of us, and the baddest kid on the block as our neighbour. We couldn't have lucked out more, actually.

I have ZERO knowledge of information/cyber operations, how to conduct them, or how to protect ourselves from them. Technology outpaced me over a decade ago, and the knowledge gap between myself and what technology can do just grows every day. With Russia and China as 'non-friendly' nations with keen interests in our affairs, I do hope that cyber security will be a major focus in Ottawa soon.

Imagine debit cards not working, and ATMs down? Banking history, gone? After all, we don't actually use much cash these days - somebody near a computer could destroy our personal finances in a way that would leave us literally screwed. And when it happens to everybody at the same time? Cell phones won't work? No internet? No power? The cyber threat seems to be like the nuclear threat's little angry brother, and the one we should be a lot more terrified of in terms of probability. As such, a focus on cyber across military and national infrastructure should be a top priority.


My thoughts on planning follows. I'm still learning this theory so some of this may be way off. But this is how I currently understand it:

Contrast that with the Royal Navy. They know what they want (carrier strike, submarine nuclear strike, limited amphibious operations, protection of those assets with the rest of the fleet) and generally how to get there. That's because they have a threat to plan against, and they know the tools to deal with that threat. The threat to the UK is seaborne and they develop elsewhere. The RN needs to be able to strike at those threats before they make it near the UK or her interests.

The UK army is generally developed on capability-based planning (CBP) from what I can see. Which is not ideal. There is no land-based "threat" for them to plan against. So they develop expeditionary forces that are generally balanced with their capabilities. And that means equipment first, doctrine second in a lot of cases. Get the capability and then figure out how to integrate it.

For Canada, we are forced into CBP given that we have no existential threat territorially similar to the UK. So you developed capabilities. So for ships, we want generally purpose frigates because you never know what the job is going to be. And an army that has no focus because again, no idea what the job is going to be. CBP also seems to cause longer-lived equipment. Equipment generally outlives the doctrine because it also outlives the threat. If there is no threat you can often ignore older equipment issues because it still provides a capability. There is not impetus to change equipment because there is no threat.

Contrast that with how we responded in Afghanistan. The UAV's, helicopters, tanks, and RG31's were threat-based planned equipment purchases. They fit into our insurgency doctrine that was developed in response to a specific threat.
Using that as a reference, I would think air assets would be our most valuable in terms of usefulness & versatility. Whether it is NORAD duties such as intercepting foreign aircraft, possibly intercepting incoming ballistic missiles, participating in coalition operations, supporting our friends when needed (Baltic Air Policing, or temporarily taking over for Alaska based F-15C/Ds when the fleet was down, etc.) Plus they can relocate themselves to where needed in the country far faster than any other asset.

Everybody wants to destroy a threat before it gets to their shores. And historically, the RN has been the focal point of that for the UK. The RCN does play an important role in so many ways, but I envision it continuing to deploy as it recently has been - OP Caribbe, Africa, Persian Gulf, SCS, etc. General purpose as we don't know what the operation will bring, but the CSC should be able to handle the higher intensity scenarios a lot better than the Halifax class.

The Army, like you said - also general purpose, as we don't know what the deployment will be or what will be required. Nobody saw Afghanistan happening, or having troops in Iraq, Ukraine, Latvia, etc all at the same time.

Can we be all singing and all dancing, and keep a MBT capability? Yes, we can. We are now. Should we be all singing and dancing though? Personally, I don't know. I've leaned towards 'no'.

Our allies have because their perceived threats are all much closer, geographically. Tanks don't have to go very far if you border Russia, are being invaded by Russia, and are as big as southern Alberta.

Is the number of tanks we could provide to an emergency operation worth the resources of sustaining that capability, when it will take us ages to get them to where they are needed? (Load onto train, train to a port. Find a ship to transport them, or probably 2 ships. Load them up. Sail off. And hope the country where they are needed has port access, otherwise it's back to the train.)

Are they useful? Yes. Would our limited number of tanks be useful in a theater where several other countries have them in useful numbers, especially if ours take a while to get there? I would argue no. The resources we use on that capability may be better used on something else that would be much more versatile for us.


Good points on both sides. Like almost everything else we face as a country/military, a lot of it is waiting to see what the next conflict looks like 🤷‍♂️
 

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Not quite. Army 2020 Refine was definitely changed by the Defence in the Competitive Age

The Deep Strike Brigade Combat Team (DSBCT) essentially continues the Strike Brigade (SB) concept of deep ranging dispersed forces that would degrade an advancing enemy through attrition by way of a wide variety of weapons including AS 90, MLRS, air, ATGMs etc.

The key change the Brits have done (aside from the numerous obvious changes) is reorganize from pure brigades (where all artillery, engineers and other support was held separate from the brigades and allocated out as required by mission/operation) into brigade combat teams each of which has integral combat and service support elements. Its interesting that they took the American term rather than the Canadian "brigade group" - let's face it; we did it first - sucking up to their special friends, I bet.

It's this more permanent grouping of guns and rockets into the DSBCT which makes the DSBCT look different from the SB. The Challengers and Warriors currently in them were scheduled to be replaced by Ajax and Boxer anyway. If the DSBCT ends up with no Boxers but be purely AJAX, that could be a definite improvement in both mobility and maintenance.

Similarly the SBs were meant to be the rapid reaction elements of 3 UK Div (presumably to be followed up in due course by it's two heavy brigades and other divisional assets if required and time and space permitted.) That still seems to be the case but reading the tea leaves it looks a bit more like the DSBCT is not expected to be able to act as independently as first envisioned but be part of a bigger force instead. My expectation would be that in a defensive fight, once the DSBCT gets worn down or overrun its artillery resources (if still extant) would transfer to whatever force is still in the game.

I'm actually surprised that neither Pinstripe nor Wavell have any articles on these changes yet (just some generic fluff on DCA.

🍻


For reference and discussion?





Couple of observations -

The Strike Brigade Concept is built on transport from the sea. There aren't enough air assets to deliver a useful force in a timely fashion.

There are no infantry. Everyone is a Dragoon.
 

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If a "pickup" truck is an acceptable transport for light forces then which variant?


isv-image04 cropped.jpg

1623688006421.png

1623688291086.png

Lets assume that all the vehicles have equivalent powertrains, suspension, mobility and towing capacity.

Which one is more suitable for a 300 km march?
 

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Why not Panzergrenadier, Mounted Infantry, Mechanized Infantry or Motor Infantry? Or my personal favourite Foot Cavalry... :LOL:
Mounted Rifles has more Canadian flavour.

NWMR, CMR... :D

Regardless, Underway, when are you lot going to buy us a couple of Big Honking Ships to transport our National Medium Response Brigade?
 

Underway

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Regardless, Underway, when are you lot going to buy us a couple of Big Honking Ships to transport our National Medium Response Brigade?
I'll put it on my list, right after I finish the AOPS and JSS builds. Have to get the CSC build contract in place still. Oh and then there is a submarine replacement project office that needs to be stood up along with an MCDV replacement project office.

Hmmm... The navy is kinda busy for the next 20 years. Maybe call the airforce and see what they have going on?

Seriously though for things like submarines the navy can create an office to look at options, with the expectation that government policy will eventually look to submarine replacement, even if there isn't an replacement direction right now. They've signaled they want to keep submarines so the RCN will carry on with that line of thinking.

There is no gov't direction for a big honking ship or rapid deployment of anything aside from SOF/light infantry elements. So you can't even do an options analysis.

The death of the BHS was due to a lack of interest from the Army. Frankly, without them pushing on the project and explaining why they need such a capability it wasn't going to last long. If the army doesn't want, or think it needs a BHS then they won't push the government for it. And if they don't push the government the government won't examine that option.
 

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I'll put it on my list, right after I finish the AOPS and JSS builds. Have to get the CSC build contract in place still. Oh and then there is a submarine replacement project office that needs to be stood up along with an MCDV replacement project office.

Hmmm... The navy is kinda busy for the next 20 years. Maybe call the airforce and see what they have going on?

Seriously though for things like submarines the navy can create an office to look at options, with the expectation that government policy will eventually look to submarine replacement, even if there isn't an replacement direction right now. They've signaled they want to keep submarines so the RCN will carry on with that line of thinking.

There is no gov't direction for a big honking ship or rapid deployment of anything aside from SOF/light infantry elements. So you can't even do an options analysis.

The death of the BHS was due to a lack of interest from the Army. Frankly, without them pushing on the project and explaining why they need such a capability it wasn't going to last long. If the army doesn't want, or think it needs a BHS then they won't push the government for it. And if they don't push the government the government won't examine that option.
And thus the Medium Brigade is stranded.

And, for similar reasons, so is a Light Brigade.
 

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If it is intended for the Canadian Army to fight in conventional operations then you need tanks. If the argument against tanks is that loitering munitions can kill tanks then surely that argument extends to everything else. While the lessons of the Azerbaijan/Armenian war are interesting, they also need some context.

While the EFP has multi-national groupings at below unit level, this is not the norm for combat operations. Counting on getting a tank sub-unit attached from another nation is a much different matter than counting on fire support/CSS from another nation.

Maintenance budgets are expensive - so cut less important budgets. Move the tanks to Gagetown so they are all in one place and we spend less money moving them back and forth. Stop viewing the tank squadrons as training aids for every platoon/company commander to do foundation training. It is true that they are not in Latvia. The point remains that they could be. They could have sailed there and back many times. The priority would be EFP, not Maple Resolve. The Leopard 2A6Ms are pretty much the only capability in the CA that are ready for prime time. Having said that, leaving them in Canada does mean that you can form the armour component of a BG or CMBG for commitment anywhere.
 

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And thus the Medium Brigade is stranded.

And, for similar reasons, so is a Light Brigade.
If we are delivering a BG or CMBG to Europe (or the ME or Africa etc) we don't need the shipping itself to be RCN. It doesn't need to be military. I am having a hard time finding a plausible scenario where we are in an opposed-entry. It might be subjected to all sorts of things, but its not Juno Beach.
 

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I agree that if Canada engages in conventional ops then tanks are required. I also don't have a problem with clustering all the heavy assets in Gagetown with proximity to Shearwater. By all means add the Canadian Tank Regiment (or Fort Garry Horse) to the TOE of the Canadian Combat Support Brigade along with 4 GSR and 4 ESR.

And as for the nature of the ships necessary - I agree we're not talking Juno or even the Aleutians.


The first operational use of a Stryker Brigade was in Iraq between 2003 and 2004. A complete brigade sailed directly from the USA to Kuwait. Upon arrival, it deployed as a single unit travelling 900 kilometres in a single bound with everything needed to support operations for 72 hours. What was notably absent from the column was the usual logistics tail that accompanied armoured formations. En route to its initial area of responsibility, the Brigade was re-tasked to a trouble spot, Samarra. The unexpected arrival of such a large force wrong-footed insurgent forces and meant that the situation was stabilised with surprising speed and efficiency. The Brigade then proceeded to relieve the US 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, its original task. Upon arrival, it found that a force a third of the size of a light infantry division could dominate the same area of ground with less effort. Over a 12-month period, Stryker vehicles covered an average of 32,000 kilometres with units achieving readiness levels of 96%. Post-operational analysis suggested that the Stryker Brigade concept was nothing short of revolutionary in the impact it achieved.3


All that is required is a RoRo or two on 72 hours notice to move (maybe 7 days). And they don't need to be armed and armoured and milspec, nor do they need to lodge troops. The troops can go by air in comfort and join up with their gear in theatre. In fact, their gear could remain in storage at Shearwater - entirely separate from the gear owned by the Brigades.

In a similar vein the USMC has paired their LAV units with the unarmed, aluminum, JHSV catamaran ferries. For rapid deployment to unopposed landings.

And, given the fact that the vessels would not be used militarily frequently that would argue against the need for a large crew of any type, let alone a large, permanent, navy crew.


WRT the Light Brigade - we have the air assets to support a Light Response to the types of threats likely to be encountered in Canada and North America.
 
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