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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

Kirkhill

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In 1916, trenches were observed from air observer planes and could be predictably be destroyed with a known quantity of shells from British artillery.

In 1944, German reinforcements to Normandy could not move to attack the beachheads by day due to the crippling effect of allied air supremacy. This was the crux of Rommel's argument for an operational approach of deploying at the beaches. Movement was largely conducted at night.

Exposure to detection and destruction from aerial sensors is not a new phenomenon. UAVs are simply the new flavour of wine. What's more - this phenomenon isn't undefeatable - armies have been doing it through various methods for a century. Anyone arguing otherwise doesn't have a clue about how land warfare has been fought since 1914.
The argument is not that it has been possible to see over the hill. It has always been possible for scouts to sneak the occasional peek. The argument is that the number of eyes in the sky are so plentiful, cheap and capable that there are no more hills (or gullies).

Big difference between needing a government to fund sensors and backyard mechanics and local machine shops being able to build them from parts found in the local mall or Amazon.

Tell me you are comfortable operating at Suffield in LAVs while being observed 24/7 by a stand off fleet of Quadcopters.
 

Infanteer

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Tell me you are comfortable operating at Suffield in LAVs while being observed 24/7 by a stand off fleet of Quadcopters.
Your proposition assumes that quadcopters are able to persist overhead 24/7. For every measure, there is a countermeasure.

Folks argued that the bomber would always get through. In reality, it wouldn't always get through, and even if it did, it didn't always deliver the intended effect.
 

Brad Sallows

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"Ideal tank terrain" (open) is also "ideal anti-tank terrain". What made tanks dominant was the tactical and operational mobility of the formations (as noted above, including mechanized and motorized). In North Africa the ability to move - to encircle, or to escape encirclement - was critical to survival.

Follow the line of reasoning: drones overmatch tanks; we can't have tanks. The enemy makes personnel carriers and artillery pieces the next targets. Drones overmatch PCs and artillery; we can't have those. Pretty soon we are down to leg infantry with whatever they can carry, because drones.

It is overwhelmingly the case that the first times new technologies and tactics are deployed, they achieve remarkable successes, and then the advantages fade (often quickly) as countermeasures are developed.

I suppose if air threats are increasing, the prudent response is improved air defence (starting with "some air defence"). And since shells have unparalled tactical mobility, more artillery firing units if we choose to have fewer direct firing pieces. Anything that can be fired from full defilade should be on the table, especially if the controller doesn't have to be with the firing piece.

But I doubt any analysis will find a way to anything except unacceptable casualties if anything too complex or too expensive is disallowed.
 

Infanteer

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I will argue that tanks indeed dominated the North African battlefield and certain Eastern front battlefields.
The argument I made was that tanks do not dominate anywhere above the tactical battlefield. A careful reading of those campaigns would suggest not.

Operationally, North Africa was as much about anti-tank weapons as it was tanks (see: CRUSADER - failure of massed British tanks). It was also about combined arms, and how not to do it (see: failure of British Jock Columns).

The Eastern Front was no different. Superior Soviet tanks could tactically dominate in 1941, when they outclassed anything the Germans could put in the field, but operationally (and strategically) the flawed execution of combined arms warfare meant it didn't matter how great a KV-2 or a T-34 was.
 

daftandbarmy

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"Ideal tank terrain" (open) is also "ideal anti-tank terrain". What made tanks dominant was the tactical and operational mobility of the formations (as noted above, including mechanized and motorized). In North Africa the ability to move - to encircle, or to escape encirclement - was critical to survival.

We tend to keep talking about one arm or service, like tanks, as a 'war winner' when in fact we need to continually remind ourselves that the real strength of a great military force lies not in who has the biggest tank, for example, but who has the strongest combined arms team.

The German Army's primary mode of transportation during the Blitz wasn't tanks, it was foot and horse. They just had a really well led, integrated, approach to maximizing their strngths, minimizing their weaknesses, and whacking the allies when and where they least expected it.

A key conflict winning component we also tend to constantly underemphasize is, of course, political/diplomatic.
 

Brad Sallows

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Other pieces of evidence: the Germans re-roled light to panzer divisions between Poland and France, and doubled the number of panzer divisions between France and Russia. This was achieved by spreading the available tanks over more divisions. I suppose they must have understood that the battlefield tactical influence of tanks was less important than the operational influence of mechanized combined arms formations.
 

Kirkhill

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Your proposition assumes that quadcopters are able to persist overhead 24/7. For every measure, there is a countermeasure.

Folks argued that the bomber would always get through. In reality, it wouldn't always get through, and even if it did, it didn't always deliver the intended effect.

So your counter to the obsolence of the technology of the tank is the obsolescence of the technology of the bomber?

As I have noted before the bomber was just a device that permitted the bombardier to ride his bomb most of the way to his target rather than having to send his bomb from his bombard and trust to the science of ballistics and the vagaries of the weather to hit his target. Now that same bombardier, cheaply, can sit beside his coffee pot, tell his bomb what target to look for, send it, have it takes a couple of laps of the area, look for the target and look for another if it can't find it and return to base if it comes up completely dry. All the while the bombardier can keep eyes on.

If you want to argue that the elements of warfare have not changed since we were smashing skulls with clubs, sticking each other with spears and chucking darts with atlatls then you will get no argument from me. On the other hand technology constantly changes the dynamics of warfare. Tanks did that. Bombers did that. UAVs and PGMs are doing that. I agree entirely with observations about combined arms tactics. Absolutely no argument about that. But who is to say that the Tank will endure as part of that structure? What happened to the Quick Firing 13 pdr used by the Royal Horse Artillery? It was better than the muzzle-loading cannons of Napoleon but not as good as Guderian's panzers.

Which brings us to the business of managing change: adaptation, innovation and experimentation.


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In February, the Loyal Wingman finally took flight in Australia. A pilot-less, stealthy aircraft designed to operate alongside manned fighters, the drone exemplifies what may be a better approach to military innovation: rapidly delivering large numbers of advanced capabilities cheaply and doing so in a way that augments the legacy force, not simply replacing it.

... an alternative to the current model of military modernization and innovation. For years, defense planners have pursued world-class, high-tech capabilities that would offset enemy weapons and systems. But their pursuit of silver bullets for the wars of the future left us unprepared for the wars of today and the immediate years ahead—a pattern seemingly reinforced by the recent budget request.

While R&D is vital for maintaining the military's edge, we need to do more in the near term to translate technological advances into fielded weapons and as large a scale as possible. We may never close the gap between the rate of technological evolution and that of the military, but we can narrow it. We can think about continual innovation rather than long, multi-decade cycles of modernization. We can focus on bringing new concepts into the field as they become available and having them complement, not replace existing weapons. And we can remember that even the most high-end aircraft can only be in one place at a time. There is no substitute for quantity.



The US and the UK have spent fortunes chasing pipe dreams to generate revolutionary vehicles that would "overmatch" any enemy they were likely to face. And all of those efforts were judged fiascos.

On the other hand, many of the technologies incorporated in those experimental "fiascos" were found to be sufficiently practical that they could be added to existing inventories to improve their capabilities.

The Abrams improvements are one example. HVM munitions for 155s and 127s from rail gun experiments is another.

Sometimes it is important to recognize that what you have in hand is good enough. Equally it is important to recognize what you have at hand.
 

markppcli

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Given that a CMBG has tanks, was this the excuse/reason to not move forward on an ALAWS capability? STBG as stated earlier have plenty of methods to deal with armour using Javelin etc..., but didn't have a 25mm turret on their LAV's nor tanks attached to their formations.

Was Canada using our vehicles as the anti-armour solution?
I think the nail in the ATGM coffin was probably breaking up the Tow Under Armour hulls to make LAV 3 RWS. I assume the theory was that we have tow in war stock if it ever gets that bad, unfortunately that ignores certain realities about employing such a heavy system without integrated mobility.


Do we think drones will not be persistent ? I would assume any kind of drone “screen” task would have a rotating schedule of fly overs with new assets coming on station as the last one comes off. New thermal imaging also defeating a great deal of our previous techniques to avoid detection. I mean obviously we can still hide and disperse but is it wrong to say this is an unprecedented amount of observation?
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Compared to British formations, the Panzer Division was much better balanced in terms of combined arms. The Panzer Division's magic also had much to do with the mechanization/motorization of all its elements. Even if the infantry did not always have APCs (and in fact seldom did), they did all have trucks. The artillery was towed by trucks instead of horses. The Germans also grouped their Panzer Divisions together. Even Panzer Divisions had towed and/or self-propelled anti-tank weapons.

Combined arms is still, to me, the sine qua non of a modern army looking to fight on the conventional battlefield.

Looking at the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, we need to determine if is the Russo-Japanese War or the Spanish Civil War in terms of validity to our situation.
 

Kirkhill

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I think the nail in the ATGM coffin was probably breaking up the Tow Under Armour hulls to make LAV 3 RWS. I assume the theory was that we have tow in war stock if it ever gets that bad, unfortunately that ignores certain realities about employing such a heavy system without integrated mobility.


Do we think drones will not be persistent ? I would assume any kind of drone “screen” task would have a rotating schedule of fly overs with new assets coming on station as the last one comes off. New thermal imaging also defeating a great deal of our previous techniques to avoid detection. I mean obviously we can still hide and disperse but is it wrong to say this is an unprecedented amount of observation?

We also had a "misfire" with the Eryx system. It performed poorly, cost a lot and was never required. Meanwhile, the Javelin was being used by our allies not so much as an anti-tank weapon as a bunker buster. A role our CG-84s could have managed (in many cases) if we had the right ammunition. But we, in my understanding, only had anti-tank ammunition because that is how we justified the CG-84 in the first place.
 

Colin Parkinson

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The argument I made was that tanks do not dominate anywhere above the tactical battlefield. A careful reading of those campaigns would suggest not.

Operationally, North Africa was as much about anti-tank weapons as it was tanks (see: CRUSADER - failure of massed British tanks). It was also about combined arms, and how not to do it (see: failure of British Jock Columns).

The Eastern Front was no different. Superior Soviet tanks could tactically dominate in 1941, when they outclassed anything the Germans could put in the field, but operationally (and strategically) the flawed execution of combined arms warfare meant it didn't matter how great a KV-2 or a T-34 was.
The Anti-tank weapons were the response to the tanks, but it's the tank that created a fluidity that terrain allowed. tanks brought mobility, firepower and protection together and the unique terrain allowed that combination the greatest amount of freedom possible. The German AT screen only worked as well as it did due to the lack of a useful HE round in British tanks, the AT screen became less effective with the introduction of the Grant, who could stand off and destroy the AT guns from outside the useful range of most of them. AT guns could only dominate locally and did not have anywhere the fluidity to respond to events. I still argue that tanks and the terrain were the dominant factor and the other arms had to adjust to their use and deployment.
In the Eastern Front, tanks by sheer numbers would dominate a battlefield locally. Although I concede it was a clash of army sized groups that decided the matter.
 

Brad Sallows

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As soon as someone puts a system on the battlefield comparable to what is the final line of anti-missile defence for ships, I suppose it will be all over with drones. Until the next revolutionary change.
 

markppcli

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We also had a "misfire" with the Eryx system. It performed poorly, cost a lot and was never required. Meanwhile, the Javelin was being used by our allies not so much as an anti-tank weapon as a bunker buster. A role our CG-84s could have managed (in many cases) if we had the right ammunition. But we, in my understanding, only had anti-tank ammunition because that is how we justified the CG-84 in the first place.
HEAT was what was in theatre if I'm not mistaken? I have no idea if there were also HE rounds, though from my understanding (and the pam) they are in the system I've just never seen one. Javelin worked because it targeted thin roofs over thick walls. I'm digressing though.

Can we sufficiently say that critical to any likely CF mission, be it COIN or high intensity conflict, drone countermeasures are a very high priority to allow freedom of movement to our, almost certainly LAV based, mechanized forces? Countermeasures being both hardware (equipment) and software (people's skills and mindsets).
 

Brad Sallows

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But German AT screens were effective and remained effective because they discovered the use of AA artillery in the AT role, and were able to "dominate locally". If tanks were dominant, some Allied offensives should not have gone so badly. Part of the answer to "why" is that an effective counter to tanks is defence in depth; the further tanks move beyond range of their own artillery, the more vulnerable they become.

So, back to combined arms, the point of which is to force the enemy to simultaneously solve many different problems at once instead of optimizing against one threat at a time. But, again, that's just the battlefield. What makes tanks occasionally decisive is operating in formations that can exploit breaches and occupy rear areas. And for that, motorized/mechanized (ie. more balanced) formations are often just as good or better (infantry are harder to dislodge).
 

Kirkhill

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As soon as someone puts a system on the battlefield comparable to what is the final line of anti-missile defence for ships, I suppose it will be all over with drones. Until the next revolutionary change.

Perhaps something like this?

The Canadian Army will receive the latest generation Protector RWS, a Remote Weapon Station prepared for wireless control, counter UAS capability, multi-sensor fusion, as well as other new functions required by the expanding user community. The systems for Canada will be produced in parallel with five other programs, creating synergies in supply base and project execution for the benefit of the customers.

The Government of Canada will procure 360 ACSV to replace the Bison LAV and M113 Tracked LAV fleets. These vehicles will support a range of operations which include domestic disaster relief and overseas peace keeping missions.

The ACSV are based on the LAV 6.0 platform and will integrate with and support the existing LAV 6.0 platform currently in use by the CAF. This will provide a number of advantages including reduced training and sustainment costs, as well as the availability of common spare parts to fix vehicles quickly during operations.


Allied with something like this?


At that point the ACSV TCV may end up being the next evolutionary step for the LAV.

1623872006808.png

The Brits have definitely committed to that course of action

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1623872497927.png

They are also looking for an overwatch vehicle something like this - reminiscent of the CVR-T Swingfire vehicle.
 

Brad Sallows

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Perhaps something like this?

Sure. If it comes down to attrition (cost and ease of manufacture), drones and missiles are more expensive than shells and bullets.
 

markppcli

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I guess it all depends on what weapons go in those ACSV in terms of how effective will they be in engaging UAVs, and at what level they can do so. I believe the vehicle pictured at the end of your message is the new "Brimstone" concept for Spike NLOS.
 

Kirkhill

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I guess it all depends on what weapons go in those ACSV in terms of how effective will they be in engaging UAVs, and at what level they can do so. I believe the vehicle pictured at the end of your message is the new "Brimstone" concept for Spike NLOS.
You're right on the Brimstone - of equal interest to me was the ROWS on the hull. Identical to that on the Infantry Carrier.

And here's my preferred "toy" for the FPF ROWS - apparently applicable to vehicles from LAVs to LFE-TMPs.


Add Trophy to the system and you have your own Phalanx C-RAM.
 

Good2Golf

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You're right on the Brimstone - of equal interest to me was the ROWS on the hull. Identical to that on the Infantry Carrier.

And here's my preferred "toy" for the FPF ROWS - apparently applicable to vehicles from LAVs to LFE-TMPs.


Add Trophy to the system and you have your own Phalanx C-RAM.
Oh look…at 0:56 you can see the BPATS* working. 😆



*Beaten Path Automatic Translation System.
 
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