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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

MilEME09

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RCEME reserve is an interesting problem space, worsened repeatedly by allegedly smart officers continually resetting and "improving" training such that no one ever can complete training before it gets reset again.

Nothing like having a soldier returned from a course because the 1.3 they were loaded on is now the same as the 1.2 they did last year, and what they really need is the new 1.2 (and no one in the RCEME school knew it when they were loaded). Bonus points when said soldier's dad is a general...
Since I joined in 09 it has changed 4 times, I have retaken courses and qualifications because of RCEME schools games multiple times. As a result I will have 12 years in September but still not fully qualified. The latest change happened in 2018 adding C3 howitzer for reserve techs, as well as the C16 and readded .50 cal. As a result every previously fully qualified tech who could go over seas now can't because they need all courses complete to go over seas in trade. Yes that's right you need C3 qualified to go over seas.

I am convinced the school cannot actually manage its personal and training properly both Reg and reserve and the army needs to step in and sort it out.
 

CBH99

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That is the dumbest & most profound self created problem I’ve heard of in a while - and being that we are all military folks (some retired, some former) that is REALLY something! Unbelievable.

Why in the hell do we spend so much time and money on leadership courses when there doesn’t seem to be much at the top? Can the RCEME school, or Army in general, not look at this and say…

“If we get rid of the useless qualifications, and focus on the solid skills our folks need to be helpful on deployments, we could increase the number of personnel available by X%.” And just make the changes and get it done.


Small, yet incredibly helpful decisions made by the people who are supposed to have our organizations ready, would solve 90% of our problems.
 

GR66

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I think that in general our current "medium" force structure works fairly well for the majority of the non-peer conflicts which will in all likelihood make up the vast majority of threats we will be likely to face. It needs some already identified improvements (ATGMs, SHORAD, etc.), but we have the structure in place to (theoretically at least) have rotating deployments for two LAV-infantry Battle Groups with tank support for one of them.

Where the discussion gets trickier is when we talk about how we "heavy up" to face a peer threat and how we "bulk up" to be able to field a Brigade Group as opposed to a Battle Group.

Are we limiting ourselves by making the assumption that the best contribution we can make to a peer ground conflict is up-arming and up-sizing our medium infantry force to a heavy(ish) Brigade Group?

The US Army and National Guard between them have 34 Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, 9 Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and 15 Armored Brigade Combat Teams. The British Army will be reorganizing to have 2 x Heavy, 1 x Deep Strike, 2 x Light and 1 x Air Manoeuvre Brigades. The Polish Army has around 15 assorted Brigades, 8 for the Germans, 7 for the French, etc.

Absolutely a well trained and equipped Heavy Brigade Group from Canada would be a welcome addition to a NATO ground force, but realistically we could end up being just one small element of a large multi-national force that all have roughly the same structure and types of equipment. Is there something potentially different that we could offer that would complement and/or enhance our allies Brigades rather than just adding to the number of them?
 

FJAG

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I've been rereading Kasorak's "A National Force: The Evolution of Canada's Army 1950-2000" and was particulalry struck by the repetition of one issue.

Canada war-gamed our European commitment several times in the late 1970s and 1980s with the same general results. For example Ex BRONZE TALON 3 made it clear that the critical arm in those exercises was both the Blue and Red force artillery (in those days we had four 6-gun M109 batteries there and were wargaming an MLRS battery as well) which inflicted 72% of the Red casualties and 83% of the Blue casualties respectively. The lesson learned from that was two-fold, we need plenty of artillery, and that we need to devote more counter battery resources to quieten Red artillery.

Conversely, the least effective arm in these evaluations was the infantry which at the time was in M113s (or the notional Canadian Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and did have some TOWs but no medium range ATGMs. Dismounted infantry rarely contributed to the fight. The recommendation from that was we needed a personnel carrier that could participate in the counter APC fight (the suggestion at the time was something BMPish) and that we needed medium range ATGMs desperately. The CIFV provided that BMPish fire support but would draw artillery fire onto the dug in infantry with it and was also susceptible to artillery fire.

The CIFV results are somewhat concerning about how to conduct the infantry defensive fight as the LAV falls somewhat into a comparable.

Tanks (and notional tank destroyers with 105 mm guns), incidentally, were found effective in all scenarios.

I'm sure that the newer weapon systems facing us today make pure rifle companies even less relevant now than before.

I'm not sure how much the Army wargames northern European scenarios these days. I presume that they still are and I would find their more recent studies particulalry useful in figuring out how to structure Force 2025. It seems to me that our predominantly infantry-centric army, as structured and equipped, is not suitable for many scenarios that it might encounter. While Kirkhill and I differ on structure, I think there is a clear necessity that much of our infantry force needs to be trained for and employed in roles other than the traditional rifle company (whether light or mech) roles which occupy much of their time now. Whether that's as a robust cavalry force or in composite combined arms battalions or as anti-armour companies needs to be trialed out but essentially most of the Army's PYs are in the infantry and they need to evolve. If the need is for more artillery and reconnaissance and anti-armour forces, the reserves can and should play a big role.

I do believe that there will always be a need for a fallback role to basic infantry skills for OOTW but they need to be redesigned and re-equipped for the higher end things. I think that can be done without breaking the bank. In large part of the war gaming points the way, doctrine can be developed and practiced even before the weapon systems arrive. The German Army developed its skills in plywood tanks long before the steel ones rolled off the production lines. The big thing is to get the doctrine going so that organizations and equipment acquisition will follow a cogent plan.

🍻
 

CBH99

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If thought along those lines for a while now. I do believe we could be much more helpful and useful in providing some capabilities that are lacking, rather than just adding another brigade to the NATO side.

A source of cheap suicide drones, manufactured here in Canada? Focus more on the Air Force and provide a 12 pack rather than a 6 pack of our future fighter?

Modern and lethal AD assets from short range to medium range? (Not THAAD, but perhaps a patriot type?)

🤷🏼‍♂️🤷🏼‍♂️
 

SeaKingTacco

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I've been rereading Kasorak's "A National Force: The Evolution of Canada's Army 1950-2000" and was particulalry struck by the repetition of one issue.

Canada war-gamed our European commitment several times in the late 1970s and 1980s with the same general results. For example Ex BRONZE TALON 3 made it clear that the critical arm in those exercises was both the Blue and Red force artillery (in those days we had four 6-gun M109 batteries there and were wargaming an MLRS battery as well) which inflicted 72% of the Red casualties and 83% of the Blue casualties respectively. The lesson learned from that was two-fold, we need plenty of artillery, and that we need to devote more counter battery resources to quieten Red artillery.

Conversely, the least effective arm in these evaluations was the infantry which at the time was in M113s (or the notional Canadian Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and did have some TOWs but no medium range ATGMs. Dismounted infantry rarely contributed to the fight. The recommendation from that was we needed a personnel carrier that could participate in the counter APC fight (the suggestion at the time was something BMPish) and that we needed medium range ATGMs desperately. The CIFV provided that BMPish fire support but would draw artillery fire onto the dug in infantry with it and was also susceptible to artillery fire.

The CIFV results are somewhat concerning about how to conduct the infantry defensive fight as the LAV falls somewhat into a comparable.

Tanks (and notional tank destroyers with 105 mm guns), incidentally, were found effective in all scenarios.

I'm sure that the newer weapon systems facing us today make pure rifle companies even less relevant now than before.

I'm not sure how much the Army wargames northern European scenarios these days. I presume that they still are and I would find their more recent studies particulalry useful in figuring out how to structure Force 2025. It seems to me that our predominantly infantry-centric army, as structured and equipped, is not suitable for many scenarios that it might encounter. While Kirkhill and I differ on structure, I think there is a clear necessity that much of our infantry force needs to be trained for and employed in roles other than the traditional rifle company (whether light or mech) roles which occupy much of their time now. Whether that's as a robust cavalry force or in composite combined arms battalions or as anti-armour companies needs to be trialed out but essentially most of the Army's PYs are in the infantry and they need to evolve. If the need is for more artillery and reconnaissance and anti-armour forces, the reserves can and should play a big role.

I do believe that there will always be a need for a fallback role to basic infantry skills for OOTW but they need to be redesigned and re-equipped for the higher end things. I think that can be done without breaking the bank. In large part of the war gaming points the way, doctrine can be developed and practiced even before the weapon systems arrive. The German Army developed its skills in plywood tanks long before the steel ones rolled off the production lines. The big thing is to get the doctrine going so that organizations and equipment acquisition will follow a cogent plan.

🍻
This.
I was involved in several, fairly detailed CAXs in my Army days.

Artillery (tube and rocket) was always the decisive factor.

The fastest way to stop a Soviet MRR or a TR was to dump DPICM on them. If they penetrated the obstacle in a KZ, reseed with FASCAM and counterattack with Tanks.

All the infantry did was provide close protection to the ATGMs.
 

Kirkhill

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I concur with all of the above.

I think the only real point of disagreement I have is with how artillery is defined. I would argue that the 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle is man-portable artillery. A bit smaller in calibre than the 87.6 mm 25 pdr and a bit more manoeuverable than Kipling's 62.5 mm mule packed Screw Guns. I would even go so far as to link the M72s, APKWS and Javelins to the MLRS as "infantillery" (my compliments to Old Sweat).

I'll go further and describe the Tank/Tank Destroyer as self-propelled field artillery, or if you prefer horse artillery. The real revolution for the cavalry was not the shift from horses to tracks but from sword to 120mm rifles and cannons. While the infantry stayed focused on the bayonet.

And finally the Artillery, managing the indirect fight with long range rifles and missiles.


Conversely, the least effective arm in these evaluations was the infantry which at the time was in M113s (or the notional Canadian Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and did have some TOWs but no medium range ATGMs. Dismounted infantry rarely contributed to the fight. The recommendation from that was we needed a personnel carrier that could participate in the counter APC fight (the suggestion at the time was something BMPish) and that we needed medium range ATGMs desperately. The CIFV provided that BMPish fire support but would draw artillery fire onto the dug in infantry with it and was also susceptible to artillery fire.

The CIFV results are somewhat concerning about how to conduct the infantry defensive fight as the LAV falls somewhat into a comparable.

Has anybody done the experiment to see what is more effective in the defence? A CIFV/LAV battalion (with or without ATGMs) or an ATGM equipped Light Infantry Battalion grouped with a Squadron of Engineers?

I agree completely that an infantry-centric army without widely dispersed "artillery" assets, and we can include other manportable and light vehicle assets like MGs and Mortars, crew served weapons, is broadly ineffective and little more than a constabulary force.

With that in mind I like the idea of the "Divisional Support" or "Deep Strike" formation based on an Artillery Regiment with MRLS, and C4ISR unit and a Square Battle Group. We emphasise technology rather than manpower. Three of those would form the back bones of each of the current Brigade Groups. But that is Force 2030. Not Force 2025.

We can keep the Medium/Light forces for sustaining peace-keeping/constabulary tasks., where they will be well received and usefully employed. Both would benefit from the immediate acquisition of 4-5 km ATGMs, MANPADs, Mortars and upgrading the ammunition for the CG-84. That is Force 2025.

Edit - we could also include the brigade TACHEL squadrons, together with ATGM armed light infantry, as part of the Deep Strike complex. And do that quickly as part of the Force 2025.
 

daftandbarmy

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This.
I was involved in several, fairly detailed CAXs in my Army days.

Artillery (tube and rocket) was always the decisive factor.

The fastest way to stop a Soviet MRR or a TR was to dump DPICM on them. If they penetrated the obstacle in a KZ, reseed with FASCAM and counterattack with Tanks.

All the infantry did was provide close protection to the ATGMs.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to attend a series of lectures - in the UK - that looked at the battles of the future and tried to draw some conclusions based on the relatively limited war type conflicts of the 70s and 80s, with the addition of more modern weapon systems etc.

The 'inconvenient truth' is that Infantry casualties in any future peer-peer conflict will be enourmous, and far beyond what 'polite discussion' will ever explore.

This will happen despite any fancy new kit they give us. Western liberal democracies, even the ones that feature conscription, will be appalled and wholly unprepared for these vast casualty rates, and the impacts will likely be wide ranging and decisive in terms of which side can, as the Duke of Wellington remarked at Waterloo, 'pound the longest'.

The army that will win the peer to peer conflict of the future will likely have more, and better protected and supported, Infantry.

More importantly, they will also be backed by the political and public will to persevere despite the rapidly growing piles of mutilated teenagers.
 

Kirkhill

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It is going to take some rage before Canadians will accept those kinds of casualties.

And you will get your infantry war if that rage is sustained after all the technology is destroyed.

Back to rocks and pointy sticks ... after the last tank is gone.
 

daftandbarmy

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It is going to take some rage before Canadians will accept those kinds of casualties.

And you will get your infantry war if that rage is sustained after all the technology is destroyed.

Back to rocks and pointy sticks ... after the last tank is gone.

The reality is that you can't gain or hold ground without Infantry. That was as true in ancient Sumeria as it is in the 21st Century.

The difference now is that there are a gazillion weapon systems designed to destroy Infantry, and they are more accurate and lethal than ever before.

We will still need Infantry, we'll just need alot more of them. About five times more than we think we'll need, apparently.

If we haven't taken steps to figure out how we're going to do that, both politically and militarily, we could find ourselves in a bigger hurt locker than we might have been otherwise.
 

FJAG

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Mass casualties are a reality of war. I would posit that the CAF does not adequately prepare its leaders for that reality.
The Op Broadsword estimates that I recently posted somewhere on this site for Gulf War 1 probably were since we didn't go.

A timely comment OS. I was just reading "A National Force" and came across the item starting at pg 224 on the planning of Op Broadsword which was the contingency planning that was being done by Mobile Command for a possible 4 CMBG (reinforced by Op Pendant flyover) deployment in support of the first Iraq War (not sure if you were a part of that planning process at the time).

High on the list of issues was the estimated casualties against what was at the time still considered to be a very powerful conventional force. The size of the Canadian force (brigade plus support) was estimated at 11,000. The casualty estimates ranged from a low of 1,000 killed and 3,472 wounded (of which 1,416 would return to duty) therefore requiring 3, 052 replacements and 2,397 killed and 13,791 wounded (of which 5,313 would be returned to duty) therefore requiring 10,875 replacements. These potential casualties would require a 500 bed field hospital which Canada did not have (it did have a 40 bed one capable of expanding to 100) and which none of the allies could provide because theirs were already all allocated.

It was also noted that the deployment would use up all our Leopard tanks leaving none for replacement or follow-on training; that we did not have sufficient anti-armour weapons (especially no medium level ones); and the brigade was deficient in Javelins and ADATS. The estimates also indicated that Canadian helicopter resources for medevac purposes would be exhausted within 15 days.

As far as replacements were concerned, the Army calculated that on a 35% turn-out rate, the Reserves would only generate some 3,300 replacements which was at the extreme lower end of the need while the higher end casualties would require all the Militia then in existence.

Op Broadsword was, of course, never put into effect and luckily for the allies, the air campaign so degraded the Iraqi forces that the expected casualty figures were well short of what was anticipated.
That looked brutally real.

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MilEME09

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In terms of artillery, I've posted else where but a cheap saturation type system like creating a 24 to 48 cell CRV-7 launcher on a Mack truck or a LAV chassis could deliver a lot of firepower against a conventional force. There is also a laser guided version for SF or recce elements to paint a target.
 

Kirkhill

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I accept that infantry holds ground. My sense is that you are not going to replicate the armies of Verdun and the Somme, You are going to have to husband what infantry you have. So the early phases of the war will be all about stripping those technological advantages from your enemy while retaining some yourself. The infantry will be the last act.
 

PuckChaser

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If we're going to take massive casualties, I'm willing to bet the other side of the fight has done the same calculation and come up with similar numbers. Seems curiously like the MAD principles of nuclear weapons: As long as you have sufficient numbers of technologically similar weapons on both sides, only lunatics with limited value for their own troops would push for that type of engagement. Then you get the "little green men" and grey space conflicts that have dominated recently.

We need a big enough military with the right tools to be a deterrent, or else when the other guy constantly running his math equation finally comes up favourable to his side due to our cuts from key equipment (guns, tanks, atgms, EW) or an over reliance on reserves then we end up in a hurt locker pretty quick. Unfortunately it'll be a constant battle to maintain the funding required for that equilibrium, because the short sighted masses see no conflicts (due to conventional MAD) and think that means there's no more need for the military...
 

FJAG

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Kirkhill

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Official stats for roughly the active period of 27 Sep to 10 Oct 2020 for Armenia and Azerbaijan:




Most commentators believe these figures are understatements of actual casualties.

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And those casualties were sustained by populations directly in the firing line. Not people who want to be seen to be doing the right thing at zero cost.
 

GR66

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If we're going to take massive casualties, I'm willing to bet the other side of the fight has done the same calculation and come up with similar numbers. Seems curiously like the MAD principles of nuclear weapons: As long as you have sufficient numbers of technologically similar weapons on both sides, only lunatics with limited value for their own troops would push for that type of engagement. Then you get the "little green men" and grey space conflicts that have dominated recently.

We need a big enough military with the right tools to be a deterrent, or else when the other guy constantly running his math equation finally comes up favourable to his side due to our cuts from key equipment (guns, tanks, atgms, EW) or an over reliance on reserves then we end up in a hurt locker pretty quick. Unfortunately it'll be a constant battle to maintain the funding required for that equilibrium, because the short sighted masses see no conflicts (due to conventional MAD) and think that means there's no more need for the military...
I agree with this in terms of conflict with Russia which is really the main peer threat we're talking about in a land war scenario (I'd argue that any fight with China would be an air and sea conflict for Canada). Russia simply does not have the numbers to take on NATO in an all out conflict because European NATO is simply too large in both area and population for a (declining) population like Russia to be able to defeat.

Any war with Russia will almost certainly be over a defined, relatively small territory that Russia believes that they can capture and hold where they believe NATO either doesn't have the political will to counter militarily, or NATO may counter the action but don't have the political will to expand the fighting beyond a limited local conflict to a general war against Russia. An actual invasion of Russian territory, or possibly even deep strikes against Russian strategic targets would risk nuclear escalation. I think both sides have a strong interest in keeping any Russian/NATO conflict conventional and local. That certainly doesn't mean that whole Battalions couldn't get eaten up in minutes...just ask the Ukrainians...but I don't believe you'd have to see WWI/WWII style full national mobilization to conduct the kind of war we're likely to see with Russia.

The calculus is quite different when you talk about an invasion of North Korea or Iran. In both of those cases they would have no desire to limit the scope of the conflict as they would be fighting for their national (political) survival. An invasion of either of those countries could eat up large numbers of troops, but the question is would we choose to invade them? Wouldn't we be more likely to use our air dominance to destroy their military capacity and possibly conduct limited raids against suspected WMD sites, etc. rather than conduct a full-scale invasion?
 

daftandbarmy

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Official stats for roughly the active period of 27 Sep to 10 Oct 2020 for Armenia and Azerbaijan:




Most commentators believe these figures are understatements of actual casualties.

🍻

And that's for a fairly short 'Six Week War', as some have called it, with a relatively limited scope between a couple of nations we would regard as 'second world countries'.

What would a mere 'few months' of a war like that, with a slightly broader scope between first world peers, look like in terms of casualties?

We might need to reconnect with why all those dozens of WW1 era armouries are dotted across our country: to facilitate rapid, mass recruitment.

Right now, for example, our 'Reserves' are not at all set up to do what they need to do in a war like that. I haven't done the math, but my sense is that if we converted all the current reserve units in Canada to combat arms units, those units that take the most casualties, and ensured they were fully integrated with the Reg F in terms of equipment and training, we might be taking a small step in the right direction. We would also need to stand up new/more/ bigger/ more technically capable CSS units like, for example, medical units that are always under appreciated/ resourced in peace time.

In any case although we're probably well set up well to fight another Afghanistan e.g., an expeditionary style COIN campaign that roughly equates to a drive by shooting, it bears thinking about when we start planning for any future peer-peer conventional conflict.
 

FJAG

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And that's for a fairly short 'Six Week War', as some have called it, with a relatively limited scope between a couple of nations we would regard as 'second world countries'.

What would a mere 'few months' of a war like that, with a slightly broader scope between first world peers, look like in terms of casualties?

...

How about this
The overall number of confirmed deaths in the war in Donbas, which started on 6 April 2014, has been put at 13,000–13,200.[9]


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