- Reaction score
Okay. Got it. I had been under the mistaken impression that the term "combat arms" had doctrinally been replaced completely by "combat, combat support and combat service support elements."Not sure what you are worrying about here for terminology?
"Doctrine" wise we have the following from Land Operations:
Combat Elements - those that engage the enemy directly (armour, infantry, direct fire units). Considered ground manoeuvre units.
Combat Support Elements - fire support, operational assistance, and enablers to combat elements through designated command and control and fire support relationships. Cbt sp elements include fire support, air defence, reconnaissance, combat engineer, some electronic warfare elements, and some aviation assets.
Combat Arms - The term “combat arms” is a colloquial term that refers to a slightly wider description of “combat elements.” It includes armour, infantry, field engineers, and artillery.
So, for what its worth, artillery and engineers are already combat arms.
I must admit that leaves me with two questions.
The first is: what is the purpose of having the term "elements" and retaining the term "arms" composed with different groups? Creating a colloquial term with a somewhat wider description of "combat elements" is just muddying the terminology which doctrine shouldn't do. We didn't used to subdivide "combat arms" into "combat elements" and "combat support elements". Someone obviously decided it was necessary to do so but I fail to see the purpose.
The second question goes back to the initial point which is that there are two broad categories of combat: manoeuvre supported by fires or fires supported by manoeuvre. The west generally favours the former and the east generally the latter. By classifying units into "combat elements" and "combat support" elements we are codifying the former and dismissing the latter. With a broad "combat arms" of four entities you create the possibility of wider options on how to fight. By defining "combat support elements" the way we do we automatically put them into an enabler category rather than the dominant category. It subliminally negates the idea of using fires to break the enemy so that the "combat elements" merely clean up the aftermath (and I don't say "merely" pejoratively here). Technically we are moving into an era when that is more possible with various precision indirect fire weapons without employing Soviet scale fires. Frankly defeating an enemy by fires and sparing assault forces from heavy combat should be a preferred tactic. That requires both teaching and practicing fires supported by manoeuvre tactics.