I think our army's current preference for offensive operations and possible neglect of defensive operations comes from a number of sources. The combat team quick attack was our bastion of tactical professionalism in the 90s. You don't need a big enemy force and you can bring in as many enablers as you want. It is a nice, tidy package. The operational frame of the Gulf War was also there - we didn't really participate but our allies conducted offensive operations. While our Afghan campaign saw us defend localities, our combat operations were usually offensive in nature.
I think, though, that during the Cold War comfort zone was the defence. The operational frame was an area defence in Germany. Countermoves were our thing. I think we are trying to achieve a balance in the contemporary army.
Regardless, I think the typical Canadian army officer prefers deliberate operations with minimal risk. They might say that they accept risk and they might brag about how fast they conduct a combat team quick attack in training, but what I see is a preference for a methodical approach against a well-defined enemy. As a tank troop leader on Combat Team Commander Courses I found that infantry officers often wanted to make the map into a series of battle positions for offensive operations. They would them move us, like chess pieces, from BP to BP up the trace. I see that less now, but I also see us wanting to turn even a "hasty attack" into an attack from out of contact against a foe with over 75% definition.
I have been reading Simond's directives early in the Normandy campaign, as related in John English's Failure in High Command. Simonds wrote: "an attack without adequate reconnaissance and preparation will not succeed...the attack must be carefully organized...the well planned infantry attack with ample fire support may penetrate such a position with comparative ease, but the first penetration will stir up a hornet's nest."
I think that Simonds is the father of the post-war Canadian army. When you conduct an attack with 80% knowledge of the enemy, plenty of fire support, overwhelming local superiority (four tank troops against a single enemy tank), good control measures and with an eye to defending against the counterattack you can feel your doctrinal ancestor nodding approvingly from the back of your turret.
General Tal seemed like a switched on guy, except for his ignoring the 'less glamourous' Infantry. Have we learned/ adopted anything from him and his successors regarding armoured warfare doctrine?
"Tal was the creator of the Israeli armored doctrine that led to the Israeli successes in the Sinai surprise attack of the Six-Day War
. In 1964, General Tal took over the Israeli armored corps and organized it into the leading element of the Israeli Defense Forces
, characterized by high mobility and relentless assault. He re-trained all Israeli gunners to hit targets beyond 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi).
In open terrain, such long distance gunnery proved vital to the survival of the Israeli armored corps in subsequent wars. Israel's Arab opponents, especially Egypt
, normally fired their Soviet-made tank guns from a distance of between 200 to 500 metres (220 to 550 yd), and quite often tank units advanced to within 100 metres (110 yd) of their targets before firing their main guns. This gave the Israelis an opportunity to exploit this weakness in Arab military doctrine. Its mobility is considered comparable to the German Blitzkrieg
and many hold it to be an evolution of that tactic. Tal's transformation and success in 1967 led the IDF to expand the role of armor. However, this resulted in reduced attention to other less glamorous, but essential aspects of the army, such as the infantry. Following the 1973 surprise attack, this excessive focus on fast striking offensive armor left the IDF temporarily without adequate defensive capability
. Only in latter stages of the war (with the aid of a US $1.1 billion airlift, Operation Nickel Grass
) did the armor break out and show its potential; General Avraham Adan
's armor broke through the Egyptian lines, crossed the Suez Canal
and enveloped the Egyptian 3rd Army near Suez
. While the IDF has become a more balanced force since 1973, Tal's development of armored doctrine has been very important to the IDF and has influenced armored doctrines in other parts of the world.