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SORD 05-06

Lance Wiebe

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There is nothing good in this shell game.  Nothing at all.

The ugly truth is that the Infantry Battalions simply ran our of people. There was no way to keep nine Battalions fully manned in their rifle companies, plus have their AT and Mortar and Pioneer platoons. Something had to change, so instead of giving the Infantry the numbers of personnel they needed, they simply cut positions. 

In my opinion, removing the mortars, especially, was criminal insanity.

Mortars that belong to the Infantry Battalion are mortars that are in DIRECT support of the battalion, and the Battalion commander makes his plans accordingly, siting the mortars where they will best support his mission. Artillery assets are a Brigade/Division/Corps asset, and while at one time or another MAY be placed in direct support, they, at other times MAY NOT be in direct support. How is a Battalion commander supposed to rely on something he may or may not have? The other issue is speed. The Battalion, and Company commanders and even platoons and sections can call in fire missions to the mortar platoon, knowing that they will have round on the ground very quickly. Not too upset the gunners too much, but ever call in a Artillery fire mission? How long before effective fire was in place?

The bottom line is that every single thing on the battlefield is there for one purpose, and that is to support the Infantry. That includes armour, air support, artillery, you name it. When a Battalion commander screams for fire support, and can't get it because the Artillery are changing locations, or are supporting someone else at the time, well, I can understand him being upset.

Aside from all that, the Artillery can't even man every position they have, and they got more shoved on to them.

Another thing, why are we getting out of the air defense game? ADATS role being changed, and new ammunitions being provided for direct fire support and NLOS, Javelins trashed, 35mm trashed, are we now counting on the CF-18's to protect all of us now? What is going on?

It seems to me to be another way to cut capabilities, numbers and expense at the pointy end, so the fat end can enjoy themselves more.

 
 

Brad Sallows

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Taking the resources out of the battalions is its own issue, but you're selling short the flexibility of artillery if you think all the guns in a brigade would be on the move at the same time, incapable of delivering timely fire, or incapable of reaching everywhere they need to in a brigade's AOR.

If we lose the "plug-n-play" concept, fail to conduct all-arms training events at least at the battle group level, or the capabilities quietly disappear after being shuffled to other arms due to parochialism or budget shaving, then it is indeed a poor shell game.  Otherwise, we should expect to increase flexibility within our shortfall of resources.  Better to have one full sub-unit in the "ready" phase of ATOF at all times than six or nine or twelve half-manned platoons scattered around the map.  The concept should be evaluated critically independently of whether we make a balls-up (or not) of the implementation.

There are two concerns to address:

1) We set out to deploy a brigade group.  (How likely is that?)

2) We set out to deploy a battle group.  Does it matter if the battle group has an integral mortar platoon, or a battery of mortars/guns courtesy of the artillery branch (or a field engineer troop vice pioneer platoon, etc)?
 

Lance Wiebe

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Well, no, I'm not selling the Artillery short.  I'm being realistic.  The Gunners have to prioritise the targets, what is of concern to the platoon commander may not be of a high enough priority for the Artillery to switch targets, or to stop a battery on the move to provide fire.  I have quite a bit of respect for the mud gunners, but it is still a slow process to unlimber and get ready to fire a battery mission.  Mortars in the Battalion will always be quicker to lay down fire.

But what about the other point?

Exactly just how many mortar platoons do the Artillery have manned?

Exactly.  That's why it's a shell game.  Give all indirect fire support to the Artillery, but don't give them any extra warm bodies to fulfill that role.

And the Infantry Battalions are still woefully undermanned.
 

Brad Sallows

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You can niggle the "what if it's not there" question to death.  What if the battalion mortars are already fully engaged on behalf of another platoon? (etc).

I didn't know the artillery habitually moved everything at once.

If the artillery can't provide a mortar battery, but could provide a battery of 105s instead as part of the battle group (ie. under the battle group commander), would that be good enough?
 

devil39

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Lance Wiebe said:
Well, no, I'm not selling the Artillery short.   I'm being realistic.   The Gunners have to prioritise the targets, what is of concern to the platoon commander may not be of a high enough priority for the Artillery to switch targets, or to stop a battery on the move to provide fire.   I have quite a bit of respect for the mud gunners, but it is still a slow process to unlimber and get ready to fire a battery mission.   Mortars in the Battalion will always be quicker to lay down fire.

But what about the other point?

Exactly just how many mortar platoons do the Artillery have manned?

Exactly.   That's why it's a shell game.   Give all indirect fire support to the Artillery, but don't give them any extra warm bodies to fulfill that role.

And the Infantry Battalions are still woefully undermanned.



As an infantryman, I know we are undermanned.   But there are many conflicting priorities across the Army and the CF.  

As an ex-R021 Artilleryman and an Adv Mortarman, I know the Gunners can man the mortars when required on short notice, and I know I can trust them.   I think they might even start responding to "Cranks" left/right, and up/down from an observer in relation to the line GT.   :)

A Gunner Mor Pl deployed on APOLLO and did a great job.   What we really miss is the MFC party along with the FOO party at the Coy level.


 

Scoobie Newbie

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What it means is that if we ever get into the shit hardcore, Infantry soldiers will die as a result of not having the ability of close fire support (mortars), close anti Armour support (TOW), and close engineering support (Pioneers).   Although there is some duplication of abilities it is integral to the Inf BN to have these assists at there immediate disposal so as not to rely on Brigade and Division for said assets.   Sure these new units may not be all deployed at the same time but what if they were.   Why should I suffer stuck in a minefield waiting for the engineers to come later then sooner when a perfectly good pioneer det is up close and personal with the BN?   If there are no jobs for the artillery and armored (there by giving them infantry assets to prove their existence), then they might as well combine the 4 cmbt arms into one force that eat, sleep and work together at the same base in the same barracks etc.   Abolish the differences and have one fighting force.   We all go on ex together, share the same messes and begin a new history.   No more colours, no more battle honors etc.   Stripping the Inf Bn's of there close support is no answer.
 

devil39

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CFL said:
What it means is that if we ever get into the crap hardcore, Infantry soldiers will die as a result of not having the ability of close fire support (mortars), close anti armour support (TOW), and close engineering support (Pioneers).   Although there is some duplication of abilities it is integral to the Inf BN to have these assests at there immediate disposal so as not to rely on Brigade and Division for said assets.   Sure these new units may not be all deployed at the same time but what if they were.   Why should I suffer stuck in a minefield whating for the engineers to come later then sooner when a perfectly good pioneer det is up close and personal with the BN?   If there are no jobs for the artillery and armoured (there by giving them infantry assets to prove their existnece), then they might as well combine the 4 cmbt arms into one force that eat, sleep and work together at the same base in the same barracks etc.   Abolsih the differences and have one fighting force.   We all go on ex together, share the same messes and begin a new history.   No more colours, no more battle honours etc.   Stripping the Inf Bn's of there close support is no answer.

Wrong CFL.   The mortars will be there, it is just that they will be manned by 021 vice 031.   They will be a BG asset not a Bde asset, just like APOLLO.  

TOW.   Give me US Javelin/Spike/Gill and you can garbage the wire guided, obsolete TOW missile.

Pnrs.   Give me a section of Engrs at the Coy level (been done before on real Ops) and the Coy is as well taken care of as with Pnrs.

The close support is still there, it is just not manned by O31, or in the case of TOW it is being replaced by a far more capable system, and with far more   systems.

I agree that the current system is not ideal, but we are not at risk deploying at the Bn /BG level.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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The point I think your missing is that although the assists will be there, the deployment of said assets will potentially take sufficiently longer then having the assists at your immediate disposal.   This delay will no doubt cause major problems.   Its not as if the engineers, artillery, and armored are up-ing their ranks and equipment.   Therefore they may not be where the Infantry need them which is up front with them.   The mortars in Afghanistan were manned by 031.   The TOW system is obsolete and a man packable as well as vehicle mounted laser guided system would be great, however time and money does and will always be a major factor.   I don't believe we should plan for best case scenario, and having the aforementioned assists at the BN level I strongly feel is integral to the unit running as efficiently as possible.

Also on the rumor radar is that 031 Recce will go the way of the Dodo and the Armored will pick that up as well.   (I don't mean the coyotes either).
 

devil39

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CFL said:
The point I think your missing is that although the assists will be there, the deployment of said assets will potentially take sufficiently longer then having the assists at your immediate disposal.   This delay will no doubt cause major problems.   Its not as if the engineers, artillery, and armored are up-ing their ranks and equipment.   Therefore they may not be where the Infantry need them which is up front with them.   The mortars in Afghanistan were manned by 031.   The TOW system is obsolete and a man packable as well as vehicle mounted laser guided system would be great, however time and money does and will always be a major factor.   I don't believe we should plan for best case scenario, and having the aforementioned assists at the BN level I strongly feel is integral to the unit running as efficiently as possible.

Also on the rumor radar is that 031 Recce will go the way of the Dodo and the Armored will pick that up as well.   (I don't mean the coyotes either).

The assets should (and will) be integral to the BG.   There will be no delay when they are an Inf Bn Comd's asset, any more that if they were integral Mor or Pnr Pls.

Any Gunners wish to comment on who manned mortars on APOLLO (less the Pl Comd and WO)?

I do not believe the Infantry will ever lose close Recce.   It is not an Armoured skill set.   It is reasonable that the infantry lose Coyote though.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Well I hope your right about the assests being there when we need them but that is a pretty strong belief in what we have and how its deployed.  I think we as a military esp. Cmbt arms need to think along the lines of worst case.  I would prefer not to rely on other units for my well being if I don't need too.  Whoever thought up this idea of taking these assets away from the BN ought to be neutered.  The units had them for a reason.  As far as the mortars being manned by 031 in Afganistan, I know one of the guys went over to cmnd one of the 81 tubes.
 

MJP

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The Arty manned the mortars on Apollo, 1VP was suppose to send their Mortar Pl but were stood down.  The guy you are talking about CFL, was he advanced mortar qualified?  If so that's probably the reason he went, to fill a position the arty might not have been able to fulfill at that time?  Anyone know?
 

devil39

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CFL said:
Well I hope your right about the assests being there when we need them but that is a pretty strong belief in what we have and how its deployed.   I think we as a military esp. Cmbt arms need to think along the lines of worst case.   I would prefer not to rely on other units for my well being if I don't need too.   Whoever thought up this idea of taking these assets away from the BN ought to be neutered.   The units had them for a reason.   As far as the mortars being manned by 031 in Afganistan, I know one of the guys went over to cmnd one of the 81 tubes.

We will have a command relationship at Bn/BG level that will ensure the support will be there for us.   It cannot work any other way.

 

Scoobie Newbie

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So your saying that if all the TOW assists are on the left flank of an asymmetrical battlefield and I'm far off on the right that they will magically appear.  You never know what can happen.  Bad roads, rail delays, ship sinking with all the kit.  No one can 100 % say that the support will be there when we need it.  The battle field is 360 degrees and lightning quick.  There is NO WAY anyone can guarantee anything once the shit hits the fan so I would prefer to have the assets at the disposal of the CO and not some general who may feel they are better deployed else where.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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There are a lot of things that the army needs.   New pistols (perferably the same kind across all branches).   New NVG's, new anti armor cabablities, new light/medium vehicle lift.   Lighter Karl G.   Gortex rainsuits (yeah I know the JTF and airforce have them).   More troops (of better calibre).   Airlift (both fixed wing and work horse helicopter), sea lift etc.   A change in tactics.   We all know this, its not new but I'm in rant mode.  I've got no problem inforcing the will of our gov't but give me all the tools possible to achieve the goals put out for us .
 

devil39

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CFL said:
So your saying that if all the TOW assists are on the left flank of an asymmetrical battlefield and I'm far off on the right that they will magically appear.   You never know what can happen.   Bad roads, rail delays, ship sinking with all the kit.   No one can 100 % say that the support will be there when we need it.   The battle field is 360 degrees and lightning quick.   There is NO WAY anyone can guarantee anything once the crap hits the fan so I would prefer to have the assets at the disposal of the CO and not some general who may feel they are better deployed else where.

Nope.  

With TOW I'm saying we should have a system soon that will be 5 times as man portable, 5 times as user friendly, and at least twice as effective, with an equivalent range.   And it will be embedded in the Infantry Coy, not just a couple in overwatch.  

Mors and Engrs will likely be at the disposal of the CO.   The new TOW Coy may or may not.   It is quite conceivable that a Pl of the new TOW Coy would be cut to the Inf CO to do with as he sees fit, or it may come with some limitations in the Command relationship.   That is for the CO to discuss with the Bde Comd.   It happens all the time with other assets.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Well the anti armor units you speak of are well into the future (you know us we have to trial everything even if it has been war tested).  Your optimism is great with regard to having assists at the CO's disposal but I don't.  The only way this will be remedied is when good men die because of a lack of support.  On a smaller scale your explanation is great on paper but in a BN for example they propose a grandiose thing like having pioneers intermixed within the coy but will train on occasion and stood up for Ex but it never happens as people are away on tasking etc.  Great on paper not conceivable in reality.  Time will tell and I hope you are right.  Here is a recent history lesson.  Somalia -read Black Hawk down.  If the Rangers had immediate armored support there probably wouldn't have been the same trouble.  They didn't and had to call back.  Granted the situation is different but I think still relevant.
 

Lance Wiebe

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Part of the problem that seems to be getting overlooked is the numbers. 

The LdSh are the only armour unit presently committed to receiving TOQ and ADATS.  The other armour units will not be receiving them under the present plans.  What this means, that instead of a TOW platoon in a deployed BG, you will have a TOW section.  For armour, presently it is planned to send two of the MGS (when and if we get them), and if the risk warrants, one ADATS.  The LdSH are, under current plans, to deploy some people with every single BG that deploys.  No, this is not BS or rumour, check out the plans.  The Straths are the only unit scheduled to receive the MGS.  Period.

The RCD and the 12 RBC will remain recce only, and will not be equipped with MGS, TOW or ADATS.  And what all this means is that on every single deployment, elements of tow seperate armour units will be with the BG, albeit with different tasks.

For those optomistic enough to believe in the new plans, that's a good thing.  One should believe in the wisdom of those placed in positions of command, right?

For those that will miss the capability of having a TOW and mortar and pioneer platoon, well, what more can I say?  The new plan sux, and it is the soldiers once again getting it.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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just so I'm on the same page here, does what your saying mean that if the RCR or R22nd need TOW, they will be Patricia's coming out of the LFWA woth there TUA's?
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Oh and nobody has yet to explain to me why this new change in policy which does greatly to neuter the effectivness of the Infantry.
 
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