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Preparing for Iraq


Seen, especially the bit about CSS and live fire training.  The good news is that the range that my SSM is running in a few weeks is actually for the NSE.  It will be a convoy counter-ambush drill.  I believe that the CSS world is now thinking along these lines.  Perhaps vehs driving around in theatre (HLVWs, HLTA Bisons) should be crewed by combat arms guys?

Most of my Kabul time was spent in the Coy HQ SUVs and Iltis.  I figured that we were a much more inviting target than the Coyotes, LAVs and Bisons and we would go through drills, SOPs, ROE and TsOETs just in case.


2B - good stuff.

  Personally I think convoys should be commanded by Cbt Arms guys - so at least the commander has a base of experience to rely upon - I noticed a few terrible briefings prior to doing "shotgun" detail on some convoys.  As well with our lack of bayo's on that mission I dont think you could scare up enough to have cbt arms guys in every vehicle - and I think the CSS has to should that load.  I dont think you can have too much training in that field.

2Bravo said:
......   Perhaps vehs driving around in theatre (HLVWs, HLTA Bisons) should be crewed by combat arms guys?

I know a few years ago, 2 Svc Bn had a lot of people chicken out of doing a Roto in the NSE in Bosnia (around 1995 -96) and all the Cbt Arms Units in 2 CMBG got tasked with filling the "Trucker" slots to fill up the SVC Bn shortages.  Although it may be nice to have Cbt Arms guys fill those slots on Tour, it will just add to the strain on the Cbt Arms Units, less down time and recuperation and a greater likelihood of burnout.
I think that you're both correct and as long as the CSS soldiers and leaders are trained and equipped correctly we will be OK.  The answer, I think, is that CSS people need to be trained with expectation that they will be in firefights as a rule and not the exception.  I think that most have made this switch.  I've lost track of who takes what junior NCO training, but perhaps MSE Op Cpls should be treated like Combat Arms.

For any MSE folks reading here, is the SQ course helping at all?


+1 2B...

For George: eventhing I am seeing is saying we are 'burning out' the CSS.  A lot of 031's are chopping at the bit to go - I know many would sign on even to be dedicated convoy escorts.

If you look at the last few Afghan Roto's the pointy end was cut down - same with Roto1 + in Bosnia.

Problem is no-one wants to slot it that way -AND I dont think its a good idea to take to heart since it absolves the CSS of their Force Protection, something they should and are responsible for.  IT may be a good idea in the short term looking at the Iraqi AAR's - but perhaps we should then bolster the CSS's weapons and training with them.

In my mind the Armoured and Inf should be out killing the Enemy - thus reducing their (EN) ability to attack (in theory) the CSS.
A good OFFENCE is a good defense
I think convoy security and ambushes et al are becoming more of a focus as the CF realizes that there is no front line anymore and the rear ech M......F.........ers can be attacked just as easily as the pointy end.  Adm coy just finished a week of convoy security, driver side contacts, ambushes etc trying to see what works and what's hooky.
What we are seeing in Iraq is that its almost suicide to attack combat arms convoys. The bad guys would rather try taking on the CSS troops as they arent trained to the same level as the combat arms guys. Theyt are a soft target so to speak. One way to alter this is to add guntrucks and alot of heavy armament to the CSS convoy.
Not to beat a dead horse, but the whole no rear area is probably the tactical lesson to be learned.

:warstory:  Kabul in Aug 03 was certainly not Baghdad by any stretch, but upon arrival I sat down with the SHQ soldiers and went through ROE and ambush drills.  I started the review by asking a somewhat rhetorical question:

  "If you were a terrorist with one RPG or a suicide bomber with one shot, given the choice would you go after two Coyotes or two jeeps?" 

I wasn't trying to scare anyone, but I wanted to make the point that we were a target and we had to be ready.  I was, of course, fortunate that the drivers in SHQ were armoured guys with bags of experience and I was always in good hands.  Being armoured we also had C8s which was a nice bonus.  Our best run-about vehicles were the local rentals that we had for the first few weeks.  They were beat-up but they blended in.

In today's theatres of operations every soldier off camp is front-line as far as I am concerned.  We need to train and equip with this in mind.


The concept that we are JUST learning that there is no 'rear-area' makes me a little sad.  Looking back at a show regarding Vietnam the other day, I noticed that the US troops escorting convoys had developed gun trucks (some with some serious firepower in the way of quad .50s, etc...) as a response to convoy ambushes. 
It seems that in a great many things, it takes a lot of time for the system to realize that things have changed.  Remember back to WW1 and the lack of foresight regarding the advent of machine guns and lined up troops as a quick example. 

The trend of the last 20 years of analysing Lessons Learned is hope for the future.  However, there still seems to be a large lag time from the time the lesson is learned (unfortunately, usually at a price of lives) until the corrective action is developed, tested and implemented. 

I am glad to see that some people like 2B who might just have the position to actually make some of these changes are the ones paying attention too!
I watched 1VP's transport PL run a simunition ambush last week.

My biggest concern is that some of the IA's for ambush are goign to let the insurgents get away - there has to be an integral close wiht and destory function - for if the convoy just supresses them - they (the insurgents) will return to do another ambush. 

KevinB said:
I watched 1VP's transport PL run a simunition ambush last week.

My biggest concern is that some of the IA's for ambush are goign to let the insurgents get away - there has to be an integral close wiht and destory function - for if the convoy just supresses them - they (the insurgents) will return to do another ambush. 

Well, does every single IA have to have a close in and destroy?  I can see and understand why in needs to be there in some instances, but look at if from the other angle.  If I was a terrorist doing an ambush, and I saw that EVERY SINGLE time we ambushed a convoy, they tried to close in and destroy us, how hard would it be to send 2 guys to fire an RPG, then retreat back to a larger force that you can't see , and then just set up another ambush for the troops trying to engage?  Would it be more ideal to have the IA for seek and destroy there, but have that decision made on the ground as the situation dictates?

Just food for thought though.
SchmDG said:
The concept that we are JUST learning that there is no 'rear-area' makes me a little sad.  

Funny thing is, 4 CMBG learned that lesson almost 20 years ago during Reforger 88.  The Svc Bn and 444 tac hel sqn found out that they weren't immune to ground assault by fast moving en columns, even if they were sitting 20 kms behind the FEBA.  But I guess the lesson didn't stick.  Made for some funny int maps though, with en contacts way the heck behind the inf bns.
Lessons never stick - with the amount of time people have spent fighting eachother, we should have had the rule book written by now.

War is really all about figuring the same shit out again, I guess.
While many "lessons" are simply old lessons being re-learned the hard way, I do think that the game is somewhat different now than it was ten or twenty years ago.  In our World War III scenarios and doctrine, the loss of a CSS convoy or an element of a convoy was a risk that could be accepted.  If a convoy was hit I believe that the drill was to drive through and keep trucking.  That makes sense if you are trying to minimize casualties and keep the supplies coming.  If a couple of guys were klled or captured by some Spetznaz guys behind the lines then that was bad but not a show-stopper.  The World War III scenario had some more pressing issues.

In the small wars of today and with our Western culture, having two soldiers captured by the enemy or having our KIA in the possession of a mob can be a turning point in the conflict, especially if TV cameras are invovled.  Our convoys cannot just blast through and keep trucking. 

I would think that the first priority for a convoy would be to ensure its own security, in that it leaves the ambush site with all of its people (included casualties).  The next would be to destroy the enemy.  Sometimes going after the bad guys can achieve the first aim as well, but I'm not sure if all convoys are geared for this.

Of course, we could attach a LAV III Platoon and a Coyote Recce Troop to every NSE convoy to give them both a security element and a "strike force" to go after the bad guys.  Some convoys might be so critical that they have this package.  Most, however, may have to make do with integral combat power and wait for a QRF if things get real bad. 

What do you guys think? 


p.s. "Feigned Flight" is a old tactic to deal with opponents who are too eager to charge into close combat.
The Armour School has been appointed as CofE for Convoy Escort Operations.  I was happy to see that the doctrine that we have produced this past month for the large part reflect some of the opinions listed in this topic.
In general we have adopted two methods of conducting convoy operations - the tunnel method and a standard method which encompass a number of tactical groupings to include Advance Group, Close Protection, Reserve and a Rapid Reaction Group.  The underlying principle in this document is that convoys will react to ambushes based on whether routes are blocked or not.  The escorting force will engage the enemy until which time they can extract the convoy, the survival of the convoy being the aim, not the destruction of the enemy.  If however the route becomes blocked then it becomes a battle in which the destruction of the enemy becomes the focus.  I don't have the room or time to go into too much detail but the Convoy Escort TTPs should be released to the units by August hopefully.
There was a push for a while to establish CSS Battleschools which would focus on Convoy ops with the view of establishing CSS "Battle Task Standards" however this has been pushed back onto the Area Trg Centres.  I believe there is the intention of establishing a Convoy Escort Live fire range in Wainwright and the possibility of a second range in Gagetown which highlights the importance that Convoy and other CSS ops are taking within the CF.  Incidentally they are now developing a full day instruction on IEDs and Convoy Ops in CAP which is a start and there is a good proability that DP1 NCM trg will encompass convoy ops as well.
An interesting observation that I had down in Fort Knox while observing a Special Boat Unit last year was that at the time the SBU would abandon the convoy of vehicles if they came into contact with the enemy and fight out to an extraction point.  I was not privy to the US orders at the time so I am not sure what the particular scenario was but it was definitely a different perspective.  During the same Ex, one of the many simunitions that they used to simulate an ambush within the town, lit up the interior of one of the trucks and subsequently cooked off the boxes of ammunition stored under the seat.

In the new types of missions there will be little "blobs" of administrative and command vehicles running everywhere in the Area of Operations.  Some will be as small as two SUVs, while of course others will, of course, be larger. If our default is to have combat assets of troop or platoon size "escort" CSS convoys then we will rapidly cripple our ability to conduct the operations that the convoys are supporting.  Perhaps the threat will push us this extreme from time to time, but every element of soldiers in vehicles must be able to fend for itself to some extent.  Our TTPs seem to assume a Tp at a minimum, but we may only be able to spare a patrol at best.

With civilian contractors providing much of the heavy lift in convoys for some operations overseas, the invovlement of CSS folks may well be to provide the armed escort (as is done in Iraq) from Bisons or HLVW guntrucks.  Perhaps the MSE world needs to take ownership of the TTPs at some point.

We had a USMC speaker up here a few months back who had fought in the intitial Fallujah battles as well as the invasion (two tours).  One question from the floor was how they protected their CSS elements.  His answer was that, for the most part, the CSS elements had to look after themselves.  Within the Bn the "Heavy Guns" platoon with HMMVWs beefed up some CSS movements, but the "every Marine a riflleman" philosophy had a practical application.  We need to get there (and I think that we are moving that way).

As an aside, we also need to ready to conduct "multi-agency" convoys.  Some elements that we escort may well come with a security package that needs to integrated into the escort.  Comms and the quick hammering out of simple reaction drills are two issues that need to be addressed before the convoy heads out the gate.


I think this may have been discussed on another thread, but a common element in US convoys and something which I know was being trialled by one of the reserve brigades, was the "gun truck".  I think the best explanation would be a flat bed truck reinforced all around with sandbags or metal.  I believe the armament of choice was a 50 cal. This is used when CSS assets have to provide their own internal protection.  I don't think we have anything like this in the inventory...yet.  The gun truck was used in conjunction with the HMVVW.
plattypuss - nice to know (and see/hear)
As for what 2B related we ran 2 vehicle SUV convoys for some 'admin' stuff and we had our AI's down - obviously a 2 vehicle with 8 pers MAX convoy cannot fight, speed is life in that regard - simply putting fire down and extracting will be necessitated - if they get immobilized their needs to be a QRF that can and will deploy literally in a heartbeat.

IF (larger) CSS convoys do not actively retaliate - then they become the 'freebe' hits that the insurgents are looking for.   HL's shoudl have C6 gunners up and looking - I think the US 5 ton with the .50 gunners we saw was a bit of a deterent for our AOR plus their hummers with Mk19 and .50's as well.    The GWagon C&R ring mount cant take a .50 (not the best platform as it NEEDs a soft mount setup - but woudl give them a bit more teeth as well.

Speaking to some buddies doing PSD work in Iraq, the guys guarding VIP's are not doing so bad - but the guys guarding covoys are getting masacred (over 60 in the last week) - the problem is there are quite literally too light to fight.   AND the convoys are atractive tgts to degrate the coalition with their loss
Interesting.  I am going to go out on a bit of a limb here and liken the Convoy vulnerability issue to that of the Ship convoys getting attacked by the German wolfpacks.  I may be totally wrong but I think one of the solutions was smaller convoys albeit normally protected by a corvette or other lightly armed ship with depthcharges.  Now I am going to try and tie this is in with the concept of satellite patrolling. 
Could we divide convoys into smaller packets and have them travel at the same time along parallel routes and increase their survivability?  Thus if a smaller packet comes into contact the other packets are more assured of survival and any packet might be less valuable of a target because it is smaller.  Taking this one step higher if their is an available combat force either split amongst the convoy or held/travelling centrally (or a combo of the two) they could then react against the enemy and possibly attack from an unexpected direction(s) and thus achieve a greater possibility of the complete destruction of the enemy.

I know that they trialed the 50 cal on the LUVW C&R here in Gagetown but their was significant structural problems with the roof after.  The plan is still (I think) to arm the LUVW with ALAWS, CASW and C-6.

Please note the above paragraph was typed after three cups of stronger then normal coffee.  Please feel free to whack it as required.
I know the .50 GWagon shoots in Wainwright seemed to prove you need about 30rds ina burst before the platform rock has stabilized into something you can manage and can get the gun on tgt - not exactly the burst stated for a trained machine gunner...

The problem as I see it with spreading out small convoys is that there are only X ways from A to B - if you flood the AOR with CSS convoys it will let the enemy have more chances to get it right.

I can't come up with a DS solution other than get Light Infantry and SF assests out setting OP's and walkign the walk - in conjuction with a good pysops plan.