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Infantry Tactics

FJAG

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If we can train a 17 year old soldier to be paratrooper in 3 weeks, we should be able to re-role a whole unit within 6-8 weeks if we needed to.

Just sayin'...
No we can't.

Maybe an infantry battalion who only needs to learn how to do their basic job from a different vehicle. But what if they have no clue as to doing combined arms fire and manoeuvre at the battle group level? What about the air defence organization which only has about twenty or thirty senior people left that know the trade and have no equipment? What about the anti-armour gunners who might be taught the weapon system in a few weeks but have no idea about the tactics and have no maintainers for the system? What about all those platoon commanders and even WOs who barely know how to site machine guns but have never had to deploy anti-armour weapon systems. What about the gunners who don't have either the guns or ammunition needed and who haven't fired as a real regiment since 2003? Or the maintainers to keep the heavy stuff running? Or the logistics system to keep it fed in high intensity ops?

We have a generation of folks who despite their best efforts and being fed slowly through Latvia have no clue about the higher brain functioning components of a high intensity war. A very knowledgeable friend of mine was recently consulted from overseas to teach them about old school methodology for operating in a jammed or pulsed environment where much of your electronic gear is taken out.

We're facing challenges that we don't even know exist and we won't be addressing them properly until we have someone looking at these issues and working out solutions on a full-time basis. I'm a firm believer in the old mantra of "jack of all trades, master at none". We're currently in that state.

I too believe we are overpreparing for deployments - mostly because of risk aversion - and, like you, I think that sometimes risks need to be accepted and managed. But ... you simply can't equip and collectively train a heavy brigade with all it's requisite elements overnight or even in six weeks when most the equipment isn't there and the collective training hasn't existed for a full generation of soldiers. The Brit Army had and still has the advantage of having the gear and the experienced trainers in order to equip and train whatever changes you contemplate. Canada has neither.

Sorry mate. I'm usually a glass half full type of guy who is willing to risk pushing the timelines but in this case I fear the system has lost its ability to adapt rapidly to high intensity ops. I think once you have equipped and trained a heavy force then you can quickly retrain them for a light role although I think that there are many skill sets and even specialized equipment needed for light operations that also take time to master, but all-in-all its easier to step down from high intensity to light than the other way around.

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daftandbarmy

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No we can't.

Maybe an infantry battalion who only needs to learn how to do their basic job from a different vehicle. But what if they have no clue as to doing combined arms fire and manoeuvre at the battle group level? What about the air defence organization which only has about twenty or thirty senior people left that know the trade and have no equipment? What about the anti-armour gunners who might be taught the weapon system in a few weeks but have no idea about the tactics and have no maintainers for the system? What about all those platoon commanders and even WOs who barely know how to site machine guns but have never had to deploy anti-armour weapon systems. What about the gunners who don't have either the guns or ammunition needed and who haven't fired as a real regiment since 2003? Or the maintainers to keep the heavy stuff running? Or the logistics system to keep it fed in high intensity ops?

We have a generation of folks who despite their best efforts and being fed slowly through Latvia have no clue about the higher brain functioning components of a high intensity war. A very knowledgeable friend of mine was recently consulted from overseas to teach them about old school methodology for operating in a jammed or pulsed environment where much of your electronic gear is taken out.

We're facing challenges that we don't even know exist and we won't be addressing them properly until we have someone looking at these issues and working out solutions on a full-time basis. I'm a firm believer in the old mantra of "jack of all trades, master at none". We're currently in that state.

I too believe we are overpreparing for deployments - mostly because of risk aversion - and, like you, I think that sometimes risks need to be accepted and managed. But ... you simply can't equip and collectively train a heavy brigade with all it's requisite elements overnight or even in six weeks when most the equipment isn't there and the collective training hasn't existed for a full generation of soldiers. The Brit Army had and still has the advantage of having the gear and the experienced trainers in order to equip and train whatever changes you contemplate. Canada has neither.

Sorry mate. I'm usually a glass half full type of guy who is willing to risk pushing the timelines but in this case I fear the system has lost its ability to adapt rapidly to high intensity ops. I think once you have equipped and trained a heavy force then you can quickly retrain them for a light role although I think that there are many skill sets and even specialized equipment needed for light operations that also take time to master, but all-in-all its easier to step down from high intensity to light than the other way around.

🍻

Well, I was referring to what I had seen done quite regularly, but with a much larger and well equipped Army during the Cold War.

The Wavell Room has an interesting article on the subject of a 'Universal' Battalion orbat:

The Universal Infantry Battalion​

by Nicholas DrummondAugust 29, 2019

With a smaller army limited to just 82,000 soldiers, the organisational structure of its component units and the number of personnel within individual sub-units starts to become very important. We are constantly reminded that conflicts are resolved on the ground and that infantry mass is vital in seizing and holding contested territory. If a battalion is under-resourced for any reason then its ability to complete its mission may well be compromised.

 

FJAG

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Well, I was referring to what I had seen done quite regularly, but with a much larger and well equipped Army during the Cold War.

The Wavell Room has an interesting article on the subject of a 'Universal' Battalion orbat:

The Universal Infantry Battalion​

by Nicholas DrummondAugust 29, 2019

With a smaller army limited to just 82,000 soldiers, the organisational structure of its component units and the number of personnel within individual sub-units starts to become very important. We are constantly reminded that conflicts are resolved on the ground and that infantry mass is vital in seizing and holding contested territory. If a battalion is under-resourced for any reason then its ability to complete its mission may well be compromised.


I remember reading that last year and I recall being unimpressed with his logic.

The idea that each battalion have a universal structure is a laudable goal but to a large part ignores the fact that these battalions are different primarily because of the vehicles that they have (or don't have), the way that they fight, and the support needed to keep the battalion mobile.

There is a difference in how many people and weapon systems you can fit into any given vehicle which impacts the platoon organization. The Warrior has 3 +7; the Boxer 3 +8; the LAV 3 +6; Foxhound 2 +4; Jackel 1 +4?; 1 +9; and so on. The key here is firstly the design and secondly whether or not in employment the Z vehicle is merely transport or a part of the fight.

A simple example of such vehicle based structure is the three types of US BCTs. In the Armoured BCT - which is designed to fight mounted, each M2 has a TOW as well as a bushmaster and hence there is no weapons company. More recently each ABCT battalion is now a combined arms battalion consisting of two tank and one rifle company. The SBCT, which is designed to travel rapidly under armour but fight dismounted, merely mounted a remote weapon system on each Stryker and therefore needed the integral direct fire within the company of a MGS platoon and even has a mortar sect. Those MGSs have now been reduced in number and assigned to the SBCT cavalry squadron. Finally the light IBCT has very little transport and is designed to move unprotected and fight dismounted has few heavy weapons within the rifle company itself but does have a wheeled weapons coy which has heavy machine guns and TOW. Maintenance and logistics platoons also vary in size because a heavy battalion simply has a much greater need for both than a light battalion.

Vehicle selection for the three roles very much depends on industry availability and the small team tactics to be employed around it. It's not simply a matter that once dismounted, the section fights the same regardless of role but also one of how the Z vehicle supports that fight. Or even if there will be a dismount or if there will be a Z vehicle involved. All those variations require training. Back in the 70s I supported quite a few German Panzer/Panzergrenadier battle runs in Shilo with artillery and I can tell you that notwithstanding the fact that both our armies used roughly the same Leopard 1 in those days, their infantry organization and tactics worked very very differently as between their Marders and our M113s. Absolutely, ... given time, one of our battalions could retrain onto Marders but that training would need to go thoroughly from Level 1 to 6 and would require significant involvement from the armoured battalion, the direct support artillery battalion and the engineers in order for the infantry battalion to become proficient. I think this is why the Americans have gone into combined arms battalions where there is a standard configuration of tanks and infantry within the battalion itself and the troops are all used to working together. As an aside, artillery officers and NCM are assigned as part of the integral infantry battalion's organization to form its Fire Support Officer (basically a bn FSCC) cell and each company's Fire Support Team (basically a FOO/FAC det). They are not part of the brigade's arty bn.

It strikes me that the real problem is that we do not build vehicles to support the small team tactics/doctrine that we have developed but rather build our tactics/doctrine around the vehicles that we have selected which, more or less, fit our general notion of what a section, platoon and company should look and perform like. We adjust manning accordingly. (and let's not even get into casualties, LOBs, HTLA demands etc etc which seriously degrade the optimum structure at the best of times) It's a big problem when budget numbers dictate how many of x or y we purchase because we retailor establishments and tactics to fit what's available within the space of each vehicle and within the brigade as a whole.

Even external factors make a big difference (although we might not give it enough importance in peacetime.) How does an infantry battalion operate when the artillery support is an 18-gun Paladin battalion rather than an 8-gun M777 regiment?

The aim of Drummond's article is laudable, but before we can even begin to debate how we create a uniform maintenance, logistics, direct and indirect fire support system within the battalion, we need to determine how the "universal" rifle platoon is organized and fights in a "universal" manner independent of role. Drummond didn't do that. All he did was parse some numbers. Betcha the CAF or the Brits won't do that either. Quite frankly, I don't think its possible to build a "universal" battalion. The differences are practical ones which should not be squeezed into a common container just for the sake of "universality".

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Brad Sallows

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How many passengers in the establishment of a transported infantry company are typically absent for one reason or another (mostly leave, sickness, injury during peacetime ops; casualties during wartime ops)? Does it really matter if the vehicle holds 6, 7, 8+ when the dismounts present at any given time amount to 5 or 6?

Battle drills with full dismount complements each in their established vehicles is good practice for the first day of battle. After that, improvisation serves.
 

Blackadder1916

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I remember reading that last year and I recall being unimpressed with his logic.

The idea that each battalion have a universal structure is a laudable goal but to a large part ignores the fact that these battalions are different primarily because . . .

When I read the article last year and again when I re-read it, there was a tiny voice in the back of my mind that kept saying "these battalions are different because they have different cap badges". Maybe it's because I'm old and have fond memories of bratwurst and beer, but it (used to) seem that the British Army's rotation of arms units into and out of BAOR was as much about making sure that the Regiments had equal opportunity to partake of the good life and to check the box showing one had played with big numbers on the North German Plain as it was about manning their NATO commitment.

Despite the British experience of amalgamating, re-badging and eliminating regiments (unless Guards) they still retain individual regimental identity at the basis of their infantry. As the battalions rotate roles (and you can be assured they will) what additional timeline would be necessary for a 262 man specialized bn to transform into a 560 man light bn or if vice versa what happens to the extra cap badges. Yes, I'm aware Drummond wasn't discussing that aspect of re-roling in his article but it probably takes up some of the time Regimental Colonels spend on their duties.
 

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Just a minor point - I would be removing the four SFAB (Security Force Assistance Brigade) "battalions" from the Brit discussion. IMO those battalions are retained only in name for both internal and external marketing. As far as I am concerned they are now effectively part of the Diplomatic Corps along with the Defence Attaches. They will never enter into the battalion rotation.

Likewise the newly raised Ranger cap-badge of the Army Special Operations Brigade. Hot Zone Diplomats. Not infanteers. Their roots are with Wingate and Glubb (And Fairbairn and Sykes).
 

daftandbarmy

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Just a minor point - I would be removing the four SFAB (Security Force Assistance Brigade) "battalions" from the Brit discussion. IMO those battalions are retained only in name for both internal and external marketing. As far as I am concerned they are now effectively part of the Diplomatic Corps along with the Defence Attaches. They will never enter into the battalion rotation.

Likewise the newly raised Ranger cap-badge of the Army Special Operations Brigade. Hot Zone Diplomats. Not infanteers. Their roots are with Wingate and Glubb (And Fairbairn and Sykes).
'You mean 'Glubb Pasha'. :)


The new Ranger units might be trying to achieve a similar effect, though it would be hard to do so with the same 'style' of course....
 

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The USMC looking a little more "Special" these days?

The Marine Corps' junior enlisted ranks make up nearly half of the force, with most leaving the service after just one four-year term. Now, leaders say, they need to change the service's personnel models to build up more senior ranks as Marines face new threats.

Small units -- including infantry squads -- need to be led by a staff sergeant, Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in a new update to his 10-year force design plan. Putting staff noncommissioned officers in those roles will be a big cultural change for the service, which pushes leadership and decision-making far down the chain of command.

Marine leaders "will develop options for improving and sustaining the quality, maturity, and experience of small unit leader tactical skills and decision-making along with a pathway toward ensuring each squad or small unit within the infantry and reconnaissance communities is led by a Staff Sergeant," Berger wrote.

"You can't accelerate experience and maturity," Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, said last week. "... If we're going to be operating in a disaggregated environment where you have 75 Marines throughout the first island chain -- at times under duress, in competition and in crisis -- you need that really seasoned, mature decision-making capability.

"There is an age component to that."

Marines will be operating in small teams, largely independently. They’ll be using high-tech unmanned technology and will be responsible for defending, from land, Navy ships’ ability to maneuver at sea.

Instead of a Marine firing a precision-guided artillery round to hit a target 25 miles away, "now you're shooting a naval-strike missile out in excess of 100 miles," Smith said.

"You want somebody who has done that a couple of times," he said


Infantry Marines get specialized training to operate specific weapons, but that could change as the service experiments with a model to create generalists who can use several different systems in combat.

Three infantry battalions are spending two years testing new models that could revolutionize the Marine Corps' ground combat element. The effort is part of a 10-year plan to reshape the service as it prepares for possible conflict with near-peer threats -- mainly China.

Grunts traditionally attend basic infantry training before they're given specialized instruction on a specific weapon system. Now, as part of the experimentation, the Schools of Infantry that train enlisted grunts on both coasts are running 14-week test courses -- 50% longer than the current nine-week course.

During the longer course, Watson said, Marines are learning how to operate a host of weapons rather than specializing in one.

"What this would do is increase the duration of the entry-level infantry training pipeline [and] train the infantry Marine in a variety of crew-served weapon systems, such that they are capable of operating more than just one," .... the unit would make the decision -- based on the mission they're assigned, based on the threat, etc. -- what weapons systems they'd want to assign to their Marines."

Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration, said they recognize there are critics of the "arms room" concept. He said he points those who say it won't work to the infantry automatic rifle with improved optic.

"You have basically trained Marines hitting targets all day long at 500, 700, 800 meters that used to be the range of school-trained snipers," Smith said. "[They're] hitting them all day long because the weapon system and its heavier barrel and the optic that goes with it means basically trained Marines can pick it up and pop individual targets out at ranges that used to be the sole domain of a sniper."

Similarly, with the new Organic Precision Fires-Infantry loitering munitions, or OPR-I, Smith said Marines can strike targets "well beyond what a 60mm or 81mm mortar can do."

"You may not need that mortarman to do that," he said. "... So I would tell the ['arms room'] naysayers, 'Hey, give it a minute.'"




All in all it looks to me like the USMC is going to start looking a lot more like the Royals and the Paras, and for that matter the Canadians - a lot more well-seasoned lifers in the ranks.

And on the subject of the Canadians - how are things progressing with the Light Infantry Battalions? Do they look more like gap fillers between the Medium Force and CSOR? Along the lines of the Brit Marines, Paras and Rangers?
 

daftandbarmy

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The USMC looking a little more "Special" these days?



















All in all it looks to me like the USMC is going to start looking a lot more like the Royals and the Paras, and for that matter the Canadians - a lot more well-seasoned lifers in the ranks.

And on the subject of the Canadians - how are things progressing with the Light Infantry Battalions? Do they look more like gap fillers between the Medium Force and CSOR? Along the lines of the Brit Marines, Paras and Rangers?

Based on my experiences working with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children this culture shift, if they manage it, will be the biggest transformation in their history.

And they will hate it like crazy :)
 

Kirkhill

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So... from The Short Bus to the Family Car type Special? :sneaky:
 

Kirkhill

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Gray Zone warfare

Got me to thinking of the original Gray Eminence - Cardinal Richelieu's Eminence Grise - François Leclerc du Tremblay

Which in turn brought me to the Hobbesian wars of Huguenot Acadia that stretched from at least 1604, although arguably they started with Cartier in 1534 and revolved around Dugua, Champlain, Jesse Fleche, the Kirke's of Dieppe, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, Charles de Menou d'Aulnay, Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin, Frontenac, d'Iberville, Rale, Beaudoin, le Loutre, Mascarene, Bastide, Faneuil, et al.

A fight that was only resolved* in 1763 by an army commanded by Field Marshal Ligonier of the Cevennes.

* Some people might contest that resolution.

A fight that wrapped up Dutch, Scots, Irish, English, Germans, Portuguese and Spanish on both sides of the discussion for the best part of 200 years.

A fight which in the Acadian context generated the original Rangers to support the Huguenot side.

Good news we already have the necessary buttons and bows. Third Division's French Grey patch.

Might as well settle in for the long haul.
 
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Kirkhill

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1 Rifles MG Platoon - fun, excitement, rapid promotion


And a bit of indirect firing

 

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The impact of 20 years of chasing terrorists


"Earlier this year, a video of 10th Mountain Division soldiers conducting live-fire room-clearing training—the famous “Battle Drill 6”—went viral. In the video, the soldiers repeatedly “flagged” each other, pointing loaded weapons at fellow soldiers during the drill. Experts also condemned the poor techniques shown during the exercise. The resulting furor led the division’s command sergeant major to comment publicly, promising to “fix this.”

There is a deeper question here. Why are conventional infantry soldiers doing room clearing at all?

This question may shock many. After all, every infantry soldier in the force today, from private to sergeant major, has been brought up in a culture of room clearing. All infantry units train on it. But this wasn’t always the case. Through the early 1980s, infantry soldiers did not “stack up” and rush into rooms full of enemy soldiers, guns blazing. So what happened?"



I remember the unease I felt the first time I saw soldiers in armour advancing in line abreast like walking tanks, and not being able to go to ground because of all the gear they had strapped to their bellies rather than their backs.
 

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The impact of 20 years of chasing terrorists






I remember the unease I felt the first time I saw soldiers in armour advancing in line abreast like walking tanks, and not being able to go to ground because of all the gear they had strapped to their bellies rather than their backs.
I’ve always kind of wondered about these tactics.

We (the Canadians) learned how to do urban war, the hard way, in Ortona. Now, all we seem to want to do is try to be a SWAT team…
 

Old Sweat

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I have taken my time responding, in part because I found this discussion appallingly shallow. We are debating how we participate in a shooting war of unspecified intensity, but appear to think it will start and remain what used to be called a "come as you are" conflict. Any potential enemy, and thank all that is holy, there ain't too many potential bad guys around, would be fairly large, pretty well equipped, and serious about winning. So, that suggests, hell, it bellows from the rooftops, that the old way of doing things with a minimal force-in-being is over. Just a couple of things to ponder, but I'm pretty sure you all can think of a lot more, recruiting and training replacements for the casualties, and there probably will be a lot of them, to fill up the troops fighting, and to conduct a rotation, or worse, build up the forces from a battle group or brigade group to perhaps a division or more. Also, care of our casualties and looking after them and their families. Harping on casualties, we suffered what only would be considered light casualties in each roto in Afghanistan. Ian Hope in his book stated 1 PPCLI Battle Group lost 14 KIA in its tour in 2006. In 1953 3 RCR and atts lost 28 KIA in one battle, and even that was not excessive by the standard of our other wars. Not every fight is going to be another Verrieres Ridge, but we will loose a lot of soldiers, and will have to replace them in the field.

One other - gearing up the industrial base to arm and equip our force, and to keep the flow going.

Lets start considering the big picture. It will conjure up very unpleasant images, but I don't think we are doing ourselves any favours by not considering the really unpleasant parts. I could rant on, but I won't, and I apologize for not raising these issues earlier in the debate.
 

Jarnhamar

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The first time I seen room clearing 20 some years ago as a private the training was stupid. Throwing a grenade in a room then spraying it with a full mag. Move to the next room and another grenade and mag.

As for "why are infantry even clearing rooms", that's up there with people I've heard asking why do we even need the infantry anymore. Not even worth debating.


That Battle Drill 6 video is obviously terrible. I bet the culprit is similar to our own training where a rifle section has to do 1x section attack to get a check in the box, pl comd had to do 1x platoon attack check in the box and so on.
 

daftandbarmy

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The first time I seen room clearing 20 some years ago as a private the training was stupid. Throwing a grenade in a room then spraying it with a full mag. Move to the next room and another grenade and mag.

As for "why are infantry even clearing rooms", that's up there with people I've heard asking why do we even need the infantry anymore. Not even worth debating.


That Battle Drill 6 video is obviously terrible. I bet the culprit is similar to our own training where a rifle section has to do 1x section attack to get a check in the box, pl comd had to do 1x platoon attack check in the box and so on.

These drills are valuable preparation for infantry to operate in other types of complex terrain, not just 'room clearing'.

For example I recall, in Northern Ireland, going through farmer's compounds filled with vehicles, hay bales and other random junk, using similar drills, as well as small wooded areas and semi-mountainous terrain.

Mates of mine said the same about other operational environments.
 

FJAG

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I have taken my time responding, in part because I found this discussion appallingly shallow. We are debating how we participate in a shooting war of unspecified intensity, but appear to think it will start and remain what used to be called a "come as you are" conflict. Any potential enemy, and thank all that is holy, there ain't too many potential bad guys around, would be fairly large, pretty well equipped, and serious about winning. So, that suggests, hell, it bellows from the rooftops, that the old way of doing things with a minimal force-in-being is over. Just a couple of things to ponder, but I'm pretty sure you all can think of a lot more, recruiting and training replacements for the casualties, and there probably will be a lot of them, to fill up the troops fighting, and to conduct a rotation, or worse, build up the forces from a battle group or brigade group to perhaps a division or more. Also, care of our casualties and looking after them and their families. Harping on casualties, we suffered what only would be considered light casualties in each roto in Afghanistan. Ian Hope in his book stated 1 PPCLI Battle Group lost 14 KIA in its tour in 2006. In 1953 3 RCR and atts lost 28 KIA in one battle, and even that was not excessive by the standard of our other wars. Not every fight is going to be another Verrieres Ridge, but we will loose a lot of soldiers, and will have to replace them in the field.

One other - gearing up the industrial base to arm and equip our force, and to keep the flow going.

Lets start considering the big picture. It will conjure up very unpleasant images, but I don't think we are doing ourselves any favours by not considering the really unpleasant parts. I could rant on, but I won't, and I apologize for not raising these issues earlier in the debate.

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.

The staff checks, however, provide a sobering lesson on how unprepared Canada is for any sort of major conflict. We are currently committed in Latvia to what could become a dangerous role. We need to seriously question what we can and should bring to the table if on that bad day out of 5,000, Russia determines that it would suit its internal agenda to try to gather some low hanging fruit in the Baltics. There are numerous scenarios from the surprise coup de main where we come in as a follow up force into Central Europe because the Baltics are already overrun to a noticeable Russian build up which gives some, but not much time to react to reinforce. In none of these events do I see the Canadian Army, as currently configured and armed, to be in a position to offer anything without a lengthy period of expansion and restructure.

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