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Joint Force Arsenal

FJAG

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Airspace isn’t something that Platoons or Companies or even Battalions control.

All of the theory behind loitering munitions seem to ignore the fact that there will be rockets, tube arty and potentially AC using that air space.
If the things that are flying around the front battlespace are unmanned the Airspace coordination isn't a big issue and folks should be happy to leave things to the "big sky, little bullet" system of non-management. Its once you start operating manned aircraft in shared space that things become interesting. One should note, however, that the maximum ordinate for artillery can be pretty damn high which means that manned (or even very expensive unmanned systems) need to be watched for.
I’ve been too a number events that industry players are crowing about capabilities— but when you ask them who controls the munitions they generally don’t have a solid grasp — until you get to the bigger players with their much larger systems that are designed to be used by Div+ level arty.
I find this to be the biggest issue when we discuss how all these guided systems will be distributed and used throughout the bde/division. It's not so much the launchers - that's principally a range issue - but its the question of who controls these things vis a vis target acquisition and engagement. And that can change dramatically as between reconnaissance/cavalry forces and line infantry.

Why I keep seeing much of this as an artillery function, I don't do it so much from a rice bowl viewpoint, but by virtue of the fact that artillery is already the prime integrator of supporting fires on the battlefield. It increased the number of the FOO parties, their establishments and the skill levels required by its members to cater to a better simultaneous management of both guns and air resources. I see loitering munitions (the bigger ones) as a capability that falls between those traditional guns and traditional close air support. In many ways, the loitering munitions are just a more survivable Predator which became a workhorse for us in Afghanistan.

There's a big difference in fighting the deep battle and the close one. We need to be configured for both and become good at it.

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Kirkhill

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While we are sorting out the Admin other people are figuring out how to fight with all these new assets.

Does anyone remember the instructions to "hug the barrage"?

Currie decided the risk from friendly fire was less than the risk from enemy fire.
 

GR66

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If the things that are flying around the front battlespace are unmanned the Airspace coordination isn't a big issue and folks should be happy to leave things to the "big sky, little bullet" system of non-management. Its once you start operating manned aircraft in shared space that things become interesting. One should note, however, that the maximum ordinate for artillery can be pretty damn high which means that manned (or even very expensive unmanned systems) need to be watched for.

I find this to be the biggest issue when we discuss how all these guided systems will be distributed and used throughout the bde/division. It's not so much the launchers - that's principally a range issue - but its the question of who controls these things vis a vis target acquisition and engagement. And that can change dramatically as between reconnaissance/cavalry forces and line infantry.

Why I keep seeing much of this as an artillery function, I don't do it so much from a rice bowl viewpoint, but by virtue of the fact that artillery is already the prime integrator of supporting fires on the battlefield. It increased the number of the FOO parties, their establishments and the skill levels required by its members to cater to a better simultaneous management of both guns and air resources. I see loitering munitions (the bigger ones) as a capability that falls between those traditional guns and traditional close air support. In many ways, the loitering munitions are just a more survivable Predator which became a workhorse for us in Afghanistan.

There's a big difference in fighting the deep battle and the close one. We need to be configured for both and become good at it.

🍻
The way I view it is based on whether the munition is launched with a target already identified or is launched with the purpose of finding a target.

The first to me is an artillery role. Precision munitions launched from beyond LOS as supporting fires. In the case of a loitering munition vice a N-LOS missile it can still be an artillery tool when the supported unit can't provide exact targeting info for a threat but can at least identify with clarity through the FOO a specific location where the threat is known to be. In that case a loitering munition might be the appropriate munition as it can fly to the location provided and then obtain the final target lock itself to complete the attack.

If the loitering munitions are to be used to search an area to see if there are targets in the area (and to attack them if required) then I see this as a Cavalry/Recce role. Larger, longer range/endurance loitering munitions and or armed UAVs are more Intel assets an echelon up.
 

dimsum

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While we are sorting out the Admin other people are figuring out how to fight with all these new assets.

Does anyone remember the instructions to "hug the barrage"?

Currie decided the risk from friendly fire was less than the risk from enemy fire.
Some call it "admin", some call it "flight safety".

UAS, etc will be flying around manned aircraft. Horizontal and vertical separation is necessary.
 

Kirkhill

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Some call it "admin", some call it "flight safety".

UAS, etc will be flying around manned aircraft. Horizontal and vertical separation is necessary.
Respectfully the Ukrainians appear to have a management system in place. It seems to involve keeping aircraft out of areas where the skies are contested.

Mortars, shells, rockets, missiles, uavs all seem to have priority.
 

KevinB

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Respectfully the Ukrainians appear to have a management system in place. It seems to involve keeping aircraft out of areas where the skies are contested.

Mortars, shells, rockets, missiles, uavs all seem to have priority.
Ukraine doesn’t have a significant Air Force.
So it’s not a good comparison
 

dapaterson

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Deconflicting airspace needs big brained people to avoid catastrophic failure.

Unless you want to accidentally down your own a/c.
 

Kirkhill

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Ukraine doesn’t have a significant Air Force.
So it’s not a good comparison

Which is it Kevin?

A proper country should rely on their air force like you did in Afghanistan? Or should they properly rely on their artillery?

I'm sorta confused.

Personally I lean more towards protecting the guys on the ground with whatever tools can be brought to the fight. And these days I am of the opinion that Ground Launched weapons bring an awful lot to the fight. In particular 24/7, all weather availability.

Once there are boots on the ground the air space overhead should belong to them...

No flyboys without an invite
 

FJAG

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Once there are boots on the ground the air space overhead should belong to them...

No flyboys without an invite
Well, No.

Here's the US Joint Policy on it. Basically they are the specialists in this.


NATO tries but ...


Happy reading.

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dimsum

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Once there are boots on the ground the air space overhead should belong to them...
To a certain altitude, sure.

It makes zero sense blocking off everything from ground to space. Without getting into details, there are good reasons to have air support (and other stuff) hanging out either beside, or above, the fight as it's going on.
 

KevinB

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Which is it Kevin?

A proper country should rely on their air force like you did in Afghanistan? Or should they properly rely on their artillery?

Let’s be honest the Air Force in Afghanistan was operating as Artillery. They didn’t have a real job and thus made one for themselves.

COIN operations can’t be used as a template for conventional operations or planning. The Taliban didn’t have higher formations and strategic depth (in the sense of actual formed units). So deep strike missions didn’t occur (albeit we should have blasted a lot of Pakistan).




I'm sorta confused.

Personally I lean more towards protecting the guys on the ground with whatever tools can be brought to the fight. And these days I am of the opinion that Ground Launched weapons bring an awful lot to the fight. In particular 24/7, all weather availability.

Once there are boots on the ground the air space overhead should belong to them...

No flyboys without an invite
Except Bde’s and below (and really Divs too as much as Canada doesn’t acknowledge it) are maneuver units. They aren’t conducting deep strikes and aren’t party to the target lists being worked on by Air and Higher assets.
 

Kirkhill

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To a certain altitude, sure.

It makes zero sense blocking off everything from ground to space. Without getting into details, there are good reasons to have air support (and other stuff) hanging out either beside, or above, the fight as it's going on.

Hanging out in the vicinity is one thing. Releasing ordnance is another.

I was too cavalier with my flyboys comment.
 

Kirkhill

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Let’s be honest the Air Force in Afghanistan was operating as Artillery.

Since at least 1941 the US Army has been fighting with the US Air Force about the supply of aerial Artillery.

The USAAC and the USAAF were no fans of Close Air Support and neither is the USAF. The US Army had to fight to keep the 9th Air Force in tactical support in Europe. The Army wanted fixed wing CAS in 1947 but the USAF said if it flew it was theirs. Even if they didn't want to do the job. The Army has been begging and pleading for aerial artillery ever since. Fling wings delivered them a reprieve but it was really only the AirLand Battle that saw the USAF commit to the CAS role with the Warthog. And they have been trying to back out of that ever since.


They didn’t have a real job and thus made one for themselves.

They had a real job. And the requirement fit their capabilities. The theater demanded occasional rounds over a very wide area of operations. And the skies were apparently generally clear - it being a desert and all.

There was very little demand for weight of fire. Even the guns were used in Troops and not Regiments.

COIN operations can’t be used as a template for conventional operations or planning. The Taliban didn’t have higher formations and strategic depth (in the sense of actual formed units). So deep strike missions didn’t occur (albeit we should have blasted a lot of Pakistan).

Agreed.

But.

Even in a general Peer to Peer war not everybody is going to be fighting at the schwerpunkt. The fight is going to be dispersed and will include small unit operations such as are found in the COIN conflict. Tito's partisans and the SBS and SOE were as much a part of WW2 as the Canadian 1st Division.

Likewise for the Airborne Divisions - even when they experienced casualty rates similar to Bomber Command.

Except Bde’s and below (and really Divs too as much as Canada doesn’t acknowledge it) are maneuver units. They aren’t conducting deep strikes and aren’t party to the target lists being worked on by Air and Higher assets.

Here we are getting to the nub of the problem.

In the Sandbox Divisional Areas of Operation were vast. It was necessary to disperse assets. That required freeing up subordinate units and granting then responsibility and authority (autonomy) to act independently. It also required granting them budget (people, kit and consummables) to be able to act on their own recognizance.

The Division was more of an Administrative entity as it focus on operations in support of strategic objectives.

This was the exact opposite of the Mailed Fist of the Armoured Corps of the Cold War. That took the exact same troops and formed them into a solid mass for battering holes.

Historically both jobs were handled by Cavalry.

They could disperse in sections for recce and screen.
They could form Troops and Squadrons for rapid movement as formed bodies for reaction.
They could form Regiments and Divisions for the stirrup to stirrup charge of the Wedge or the Pig Head to use mass, speed and shock to batter a hole.

They ability to switch from one fight to another was the critical issue.

It isn't a matter of one battle being the real one. All battles are real. And if the enemy discovers incompetence in one area it will exploit that to its advantage.

The Division has to be a generalist organization and it has to have an array of tools available to it. Even if it only employs its elements as Companies and Battalions.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Deconflicting airspace needs big brained people to avoid catastrophic failure.

Unless you want to accidentally down your own a/c.
Airspace Control is not rocket science. It is important and cannot be ignored, but the principles are fairly straight forward.

Generally, Airspace should be be restricted as little as possible and will be done on a volume/time based system.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Well, ok, I'll amend "big brained" to read "smarter than infantry or armoured".
We have had Artillery personnel do the airspace control work, in conjunction with Air Force Reps, because Artillery has been historically the biggest land force user of the airspace over the battlefield. It probably still makes sense to generally assign that function to the Artillery.
 

Good2Golf

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To a certain altitude, sure.

It makes zero sense blocking off everything from ground to space. Without getting into details, there are good reasons to have air support (and other stuff) hanging out either beside, or above, the fight as it's going on.
Coordinating Altitude (CA) and Coordinating Level (CL) high-five each other and join the chat...
 
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