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Whither the Artillery

Old Sweat

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Only if you have a lot of them. A divisional artillery shoot would put 72 25-pdrs on a target. With five rounds fire for effect that would be 360 rounds falling in a relatveily small area in a minute or so. The effect must have been stupendous. Even a regimental shoot with 24 guns must have been frightening.

In a deliberate fire plan in support of a major operation, the planners could have been using unbelievable amounts of ammunition. I will quote from No Holding Back p 111 re the phase one fire plan for Operation Totalize. The fire plan involved 392 guns firing the following ammunition expressed in rounds per gun: 25-pdr and 105mm, 500; 5.5-inch, 300; 155mm gun, 30; 7.2-inch, 170; and 3.7-in Heavy Anti-Aircraft in the ground role, 150.

We live in a different world. I like reminding people that we are as far removed from Normandy in time as it was from the North West Rebellion and the technology gap is at least as pronounced. Given the deployments in the sand box, you would be lucky to get more than two 155mm or perhaps four 105mm - if we had them - on a target.
 

HItorMiss

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Old Sweat said:
We live in a different world. I like reminding people that we are as far removed from Normandy in time as it was from the North West Rebellion and the technology gap is at least as pronounced. Given the deployments in the sand box, you would be lucky to get more than two 155mm or perhaps four 105mm - if we had them - on a target.

Not so, I am no arty guy but I can assure you we had at least 2 guns on Target on any fire mission we called in. And any major OP had all of the guns we had in theater that could reach. And there are more guns in theater now then when I was last there.
 

Kirkhill

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Thanks Old Sweat:

At the other end of the spectrum I think we could note that during the 1960s Brush Wars the Brits experimented with single gun deployments.  

Mirbat, Oman 1972 - 9 SAS, 40 Firqat, 30 Askari, 30 Omani Gendarmerie + a few GPMGs, one HMG, one 3" or 81mm mortar and one 25 pdr + avarlable air support.  Ghost Force:Connor
Also during the Borneo Emergency in 1962-1966, IIRC (I can't find my reference handily) the Brit force established a gun line along the entire border opting for coverage and speed of reaction over weight of fire by putting the guns into single gun firebases.  If weight of fire were required then guns in quiet sectors would be heli-lifted into the active bases.

But I suppose that would argue for a few long-range weapons like the 777s for Co-In work.  How about more conventional battles?  Or does the world need as many gunners as it used to need in any case with increased payloads, accuracy and range as well as auto-loaders and missiles launching direct from their "limbers" so to speak on a networked command?
 

Old Sweat

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The world can never have enough gunners. Memorize that phrase; it is important. Seriously, it we can come up with a way to deliver bangs without a lrage bill in manpower and equipment, all the better.

Yes, I recall the single gun deployments in Borneo. We studied their use in our COIN phase on the Artillery Staff Course (now the IG Course) in 1967-1968.
 

Kirkhill

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Old Sweat said:
The world can never have enough gunners. Memorize that phrase; it is important.

Heard. And never to be forgotten.

And on the serious side - it seems that the arty has already been drawn down pretty hard in any event.  Maybe now would be good time to set a manpower floor and start acquiring technology to increase their "productivity".
 

geo

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Kirkhill said:
Heard. And never to be forgotten.

And on the serious side - it seems that the arty has already been drawn down pretty hard in any event.  Maybe now would be good time to set a manpower floor and start acquiring technology to increase their "productivity".

To a certain extent, giving the gunners control of the Mortars and the TUAVs was done to make certain they would be kept gainfuly employed.  The decision to deploy the M777 was, to a certain degree, a force multiplier.  Bigger bang able to go greater distances with fewer men on the ground...


With the world in turmoil, there can never be enough _____________ (Sappers & Gunners....)
 

Kirkhill

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Sappers and Gunners? Aren't you both spawn of the Ordnance Department?  Is there a "Gentleman" amongst you?
 

Petard

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Hmm, not sure where this belongs now, the discussion sure is starting to drift a bit. geo I know you've been around, but I 'll put this out there in a way for those who might not have as much TI as you.

The use of UAV's was not given to the Artillery to make them relevant, it was a capability developed to primarily assist in the Artillery's counter battery role, then later this int tool evolved further as part of ISTAR; we're going back about 40 years, hardly a recent "let's throw a dog a bone" kind of thing.

There is also the aspect of air space clearance (done by the air defence in the ASCC) and clearance of fire (done by the field side within the FSCC) task at Bde level, which is critical to deconfliction and another reason why the task to operate the UAV's resided within the Artillery.

Only recently has the concept of using UAV's at the combat team level been pushed towards the infantry and armoured recce elements, who have not been able take on the task yet, at some point they most likely will, but the next development of small UAV's, operating at Battle group level, is intended to remain a gunner task.

As for the Mortars going to the guns, IIRC, that was pushed as much by the infantry to get more "bayonets" in the rifle companys as it was for the guns to be seen as more relevant. But I wouldn't play up that last point too much. The time that it finally did occur as a formal task, in 2003, a Gun Bty had been deployed to Bosnia already and was about to deployed again into Kabul, but I would have to say there were many who still did not see the Artillery as justifying its existence even then, I would say this mind set has only begun to change in the last 2 years, and I still hear this respect being given almost begrudgingly so.
A quote from a Snr Armoured officer in DLR I heard last year "if you guns keep this up (being involved in Afghanistan) we'll actually have to think of you as a combat arm", just so you know, since its hard to tell someones tone in writing, the man was not trying to be funny.

There have been many who looked upon the gunners, and yes Geo the sappers too, who didn't really see what they can do or contribute,  so at best they were looked at as a nice to have but not really, and at worst with outright contempt and derision.

IMO it is an old story that it took the unforgiving reality of war to once again relearn abiding respect for each others roles on the battlefield.
 

Petard

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Just to clarify/add some other points

The long range 105 mm round in Cdn inventory, the C132, is base bleed, not a rocket assist projectile.

Increased mass helps reduce recoil.

I have not heard of any program to give the reserves a new type of gun any time soon, and not sure if the reg force is going to see anything anytime soon either, which is definitely not good since it will mean even that much more wear and tear on the few C3's and M777's we have. But I have heard that the LG1 barrel problem should be solved soon.

I visited General Dynamics Land Systems last week; they are clearly investing a lot in the development of their self-propelled 105 mm (LAV LEO) and upgrading their turreted 120 mm mortar system, which tells me someone is interested in that type of solution, although that doesn't necessarily mean that someone is Canada.
 

geo

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Kirkhill said:
Sappers and Gunners? Aren't you both spawn of the Ordnance Department?  Is there a "Gentleman" amongst you?

Gentlemen?

Thedre you go calling us names again ;)
Spawns of the Ordonance Dept?... Gawd no.... The Ordonance dept was created to look after us VS the other way around  :)_
 

geo

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Petard,

I know what you mean and appreceate the nuance you've provided.

Lord knows that the Armd & Infantry have looked upon the Sappers as anything but a combat arms (Same as the Guns).  With the development of doctrine the Combat team / Battle Group has placed all four combat arms on a relatively level playing field... Everyone understands that, if any one of the four arms is not there... things just won't work right!

I should point out that the Infantry did not willingly give up it's Mortars, TOW & Pioneer capabilities.  Extra bayonnets to the contrary.  Even today, they will tell you that these are lost capabilities ... not capabilities best left to specialists.

WRT the TUAVs..... yeah - might have oversimplified things a tad... but you did get my drift :)
Lord knows the Air element was some upset when they were told that Gunners would be flying something other than the ordonance fired from their guns ;)
 

horsegunner353

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I think a few things need to be clarified.  Firstly, as much as the Infantry didn't want to give up the mortars, the Artillery didn't want them.  The vast majority of gunners feel that mortars are an infantry weapon, but the skill was passed to the arty to simply free up PY's.

Secondly, the Air Force is always upset about something.  As long as the Army has had some sort of drone/UAV etc it's been the artillery's to work.  It was the AIRFORCE, not the artillery, that pulled a b*tchfest to get onto the UAVs so that they could justify their own existence.... what with them being so terrible at low-level CAS and the lack of Russian bombers to intercept (granted, the Air Force is getting better at CAS).  It just makes sense to tie the target acquisition devices to the only arm that can really engage any targets that are found.
 
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aesop081

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horsegunner353 said:
what with them being so terrible at low-level CAS and the lack of Russian bombers to intercept (granted, the Air Force is getting better at CAS). 

I'm not fond of TUAVs but....

"lack of russian bombers to intercept " ?

Wow, you could have fooled me. I was sure those were TU-95s up in the ADIZ up north a few months ago.

And as far as the AF needing TUAVs to justify its existance well, we all know that the only thing the AF does is related to the CF-18s so what can i say.  ::)
 

Mountie

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Let's try and revive and old topic. :)

If I'm not mistaken, the regular artillery regiments have reorganized to include 2 gun batteries (M777 / 81mm mortar), 1 forward observation battery, 1 STA battery and a HQ & services battery.  The Australian regular artillery regiments just recently reorganized to include 3 observation post batteries, 1 gun battery (12 M777's) and a HQ & services battery.

Would the Canadian regiments be more effective with a modification of the Australian organization?  Have all the M777's in one medium battery (2 troops of 4 guns) and have the forward observation batteries include the mortars.  Each battery would be directly attached to the infantry battalions.  They would each contain a BC Party, FOO/FAC teams, a BG FSCC and 2 mortar troops (4 mortars each).  Ideally the mortar troops would have the EFSS 120mm mortars now in use with the USMC, French Army and Italian Army, but at least the C3 81mm mortar.

The regiments would therefore have:

RHQ
HQ & Services Battery
3 Close Support Battery (BC Party, FSCC, 3 FOO/FAC teams, 2 mortar troops - 4 C3 81mm mortars each)
1 General Support Battery (2 gun troops - 4 M777's each)
1 STA Battery
 

Petard

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Mountie, there are a lot of reasons the current structure has evolved to what it has today in Artillery Regt. I don't see any particular benefit to the GS Bty idea you're suggesting, and I can't see the mortar idea working for various other reasons, but their may be benefit to looking at how the Australians are dealing with automation to facilitate more higher level control of indirect fire support in a COIN environment

Some factors to consider though:
- Cdn gun Bty's are meant to be CS, ie still commanded at highest level (usually Bde) but their fires will be controlled at lowest level (originating usually within a Combat Team)  - your suggestion to turn the M777's into general support would put them one level back, Div level - I don't see any need for that if at most we're only going to deploy a Regt to support a Bde in non sustained Operation, and most likely only a Battery (+) to support a Battle Group for sustained expeditionary forces

- gun btys are now made up of 3 Troops -this came out of the experience of Afghanistan which began with deployment of 2 Tp gun bty's, and over time it  became obvious that wasn't enough for dispersed ops.
- another reason for the 3 Tp BTY: from time to time one or both Tps were tasked away to other formations/other nations Battle Groups (which is normal for a Bde resource), but sometimes left the Canadian Battle Group with only their 60mm for indirect fire support. The third Tp was a means to ensure fire support to very dispersed Ops, as well as leave at least something within the Cdn BG; something which may well become the norm

The mortar thing - this has been discussed/debated/argued endlessly on the boards here. In 2003 the Artillery took them on as residual task. I would agree with you there is a capability deficiency within Infantry Bn's for sustained lethal and especially non lethal effects (see above), but splitting the mortars away into a hybrid CS Bty within an Artillery Regt is not very workable given current pers challenges. If we have the PYs to create that kind of capability, then I say put them in Inf Bn's

Another thing about mortars being with the M777 - dug in, the gun Tp is very vulnerable and limited when engaging targets short range, and is a reason why the mortars should continue to be co-located with the guns (besides the manpower limitation one)


Something else to consider about comparing Cdn and Aussie Artillery: the Australians are going to the American AFATDS for their fire control, which is very much a top down type method of control, and somewhat opposite to the Cdn approach. But I can see why the Australians might have steered towards this system, but don't think it has anything to do with creating GS Bty's; it has to do with the complexity of current Ops where the actual authority to use indirect fire for lethal effects is getting more and more restrictive, and being reserved (controlled) at a higher level.

This US method sees fire missions going into queue, and priority based on various discriminators and filters, many of which can be set to function automatically. The Cdn system remains one driven by priorities of fire being assigned depending on operation etc, but once priorities of fire are given it will be the BC that will pretty much drive who gets what when, to support the Cmdr's plan. This is close support artillery, and in the early stages of Afghanistan, it worked very well with very quick response times. Later, use of indirect fire became more restricted, and more STA assets became available, without an interconnected digital system to support this,  response times became what can only be described as very sluggish.

So although the US system was developed with a different doctrine in mind, it could well be their method supports faster response times when the fires are very restricted, and to interconnect with other assets for better coordination/synchronization. Even so, I believe Canada will continue to try and develop one that is more flexible and responsive to CS tasks.

Canada is developing a digital fire support system, called IFCSS, to work within the Army's over arching digital command support system (LCSS), and work is also being done to establish gateways to connect IFCSS with other NATO automated systems like AFATDS. But where IFCSS falls out in the priorities for the Army, and when it might be mature enough to function well above Tp level I have no idea, but doubt we'll ever see it being developed to support anything above CS Btys
 

GnyHwy

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I will jump in this one, but I need time to digest this monster.

All the best...

Tomorrow.

Excellent revive.



 

Mountie

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Thanks for the response.  I see your points.  Perhaps my use of the term "General Support" wasn't accurate.  I was simply meaning the gun battery would support the whole brigade and each mortar/forward observation battery would be directly attached to an infantry battalion.  The gun battery could break up its troops and attach one out to each mortar/FO battery when needed.  I forgot about the move to 3-troop batteries.  The Aussies also have 3 troops of 4 guns in their gun batteries.  Basically I was suggesting the Aussie organization with a mortar troop added to each FO battery.  The 120mm mortars are fielded in the artillery by both the French and Italian Armies now, as well as in the USMC.  There are plenty of links on both.  So I don't think its completely out of the question.  The Militias has both 81mm mortar and 105mm gun batteries within its brigades.  I realize this is a little different.  But the concept of joint mortar/artillery regiments is not new.

 

Petard

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Mountie, it is obvious you're missing the point that Cdn Artillery Regt's are already modular in structure, there's no need to add mortars to the OP Bty as well, not there's enough people to do that even if it did "seem" like a good idea.
This structure can already support the whole Brigade by doctrine, or more unique tasks.  In your example, the mortar pl deployed with the Infantry Bn would come from one of the gun bty, the other resources as required, such as FOO's and sensors, from the other Bty's
This somewhat happened already: in 2002 when 1 RCHA deployed a Mortar Pl w/3 PPCLI during Op Apollo Kandahar to support primarily just that BG. This is different from the pd 2006 to 2011, when they would deploy as a Bty, then as Bty +, with the TF to support not just the BG. But they originate from the same Regt

I'm not sure what your point about the "plenty of links on both" means. I've been involved with studies of other nations 120mm mortar capability, and if you're assuming they can be easily linked to our system you would be very wrong. Just to pass a fire mission request message from one nations fire control system to another, requires some means to "translate" the way the pertinent information is contained; only recently was an agreement reached on using a Variable Message Format to do so, never mind what information the message itself contained
The bottom line is a lot of work remains to work out interconnectivity. 

As for Reserve units, I'm not sure where they fit in your concept. Not all have 81mm mortars, and those that do lack the capability to do both simultaneously. They're not capable of "linking" to Cdn Reg Force Artillery units. Right now, as far as interoperability goes, they are largely seen as means to force generate individuals trained to a very basic trade level, but certainly not whole units. The training level difference between Reserve and Regular Force gunners is becoming ever wider, as the Reg units become more digitized.

If there is an Artillery component that is "whithering" I would definitely say it’s the Reserve one, and the air defence one is virtually extinct as an act function.
 

Mountie

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My point was only if the artillery regiments are going to have the mortars then why not put them into mortar batteries so that the elements that are actually attached to an infantry battalion (the mortars, FOO's, FSCC and BC) are all in the same battery.  A single M777 battery is often tasked to support a whole brigade in operations like Afghanistan or post-invasion Iraq so let all the guns be in one battery back at the FOB where it can support the whole brigade if needed.  If only on battery of guns are needed to support a brigade this would allow for some PY's to man the mortars, which are often used more in this type of conflict.  The M777 has a war-time crew of 10, the 120mm mortar has a crew of 5.  So the same manpower could fire twice as many mortars as guns. 

All I meant by "links" was there are links on the internet about the 120mm mortar use by French, Italian and USMC artillery units if anyone wanted to read about it.

As far as the reserve artillery regiments, some have a battery of each mortars and C3 105's, some have just one, some have both but can only man one at a time.  I'd hope that an Artillery Tactical Group like here in 38 CBG, with 26th and 10th Field Regiments plus 116th Battery, could man two small mortar batteries with even just 4 mortars each and a small gun battery with even just 4 C3 105's.    This way they could then force generate for the regular force 120mm mortar and M777 batteries.  I agree the divide between regular and reserve is widening.
 

Craig B

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Unless a C3 replacement project comes online soon, I think the Militia gun batteries will be in the same boat as the Militia "Armoured" squadrons.

With the new budget hacking and slashing the DND money tree, you can bet the Militia ia about priority 84,263 for new equipment. During the 90's when the Regular Force was knocked back due to lack of money, the Militia still had working equipment so we could still conduct training. This new budget has caught us with no trucks, no radios and now no guns.

I do not see a bright and shining future for the Militia.
 
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