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The Optimal Battle Group vs. the Affiliated Battle Group

vonGarvin

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Wow, C Sqn, in Gagetown, forming a BG with 2 RCR.  We've come miles, haven't we?  ::)

(For you young'uns for whom the "Cold War" is a subject in history class, "many moons ago", when this rockpainter was new at painting rocks, he was rolling up and down the Lawfield Corridor, part of combat teams in which, hold on to your helmets, 2 RCR and C Sqn RCD formed battlegroups!  Yes, there was a field squadron (22?) as well as an Artillery Battery (W).  The only recce was recce platoon, but back then, they rode in lynxes!)

Oh, how we go through hoops to try to "validate" various ideas, some as old as the idea of an army itself.

I'm sorry, colour me cynical.  This has been done, and this "make work" project is bollocks. 

ArmyVern said:
Oh ... and lookie down on the bottom of the page you linked - there's a pic which includes the DCO Maj Kim Lapointe ... for those roto zero Namibia people - he was there as a Sgt. I'll have to go toss that up in that thread (I forgot about listing him).

Snake was a Sgt?  THAT, my friends, is news!  I've known him for pretty near ten years!
 

SeaKingTacco

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You forgot 119 AD Bty- another proud member of the Gagetown Battlegroup of Cold War days.
 

vonGarvin

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SeaKingTacco said:
You forgot 119 AD Bty- another proud member of the Gagetown Battlegroup of Cold War days.
Yes, I did, and how could I forget the ADATS, then all shiny and new, rumbling along with us?  Though, to be honest, they were probably in well sited positions, kilometres behind me as I got splashed by Leopard C1s as we trundled through the Otnabog or Scotty Dog Wood? :salute:
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
Wow, C Sqn, in Gagetown, forming a BG with 2 RCR.  We've come miles, haven't we?  ::)

Oh, how we go through hoops to try to "validate" various ideas, some as old as the idea of an army itself.

I believe, however, that the C Sqn of yore was an independent unit where the OC was a Commanding Officer.  While a battlegroup based on 2 RCR would certainly be formed for specific exercises, I believe that the Sqn was its own unit for the rest of the year.  The current experiment has the Sqn residing inside 2 RCR.
 

Kirkhill

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Jeez, and here was me thinking all they had done was painted new spots on an old dog.

I didn't realize how badly the Gagetown Battle Group had been drawn down.

As I understood it in the bad old days The Battle Group solved two problems - neither of them operational.  One: It served the needs of the Combat Training Center (That which is now being done at Wainwright was done at Gagetown) Two: It served the needs of the politicians who wanted a military presence in the Maritimes but didn't want to pay for the 5th Brigade Group  (Calgary-Winnipeg-Shilo-Victoria) (Petawawa-London) (Valcartier) (Germany) - Gagetown would have been #5 (actually 3 I guess - Old Sweat or Edward will no doubt square the facts).
 

SeaKingTacco

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Yes, I did, and how could I forget the ADATS, then all shiny and new, rumbling along with us?  Though, to be honest, they were probably in well sited positions, kilometres behind me as I got splashed by Leopard C1s as we trundled through the Otnabog or Scotty Dog Wood?

Forget ADATS- I was talking about the Blowpipe days.  Nothing more fun than a Troop of 5/4 tons trying to to keep up with a M113 mounted Coy on an advance up the 220 feature...
 

Matt_Fisher

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Kirkhill said:
Jeez, and here was me thinking all they had done was painted new spots on an old dog.

I didn't realize how badly the Gagetown Battle Group had been drawn down.

As I understood it in the bad old days The Battle Group solved two problems - neither of them operational.  One: It served the needs of the Combat Training Center (That which is now being done at Wainwright was done at Gagetown) Two: It served the needs of the politicians who wanted a military presence in the Maritimes but didn't want to pay for the 5th Brigade Group   (Calgary-Winnipeg-Shilo-Victoria) (Petawawa-London) (Valcartier) (Germany) - Gagetown would have been #5 (actually 3 I guess - Old Sweat or Edward will no doubt square the facts).

Wasn't 'C' Sqn RCD essentially rebadged into 'A' Sqn. 8CH when they (8CH) returned from Germany?  From my limited memory, A 8CH was essentially the 'heavy' training support squadron for the armoured school, as at that time, all officer phase training, NCM crew commanding, and Troop WO courses were run on tanks rather than recce.  I'd imagine the same commitments to the Armour School were the same when it was C Sqn RCD, rather than primarily supporting 2RCR as a permanent battlegroup.

An Optimal Battlegroup may be great for certain operations, however from my Marine Corps experience, I'm more a fan of mission specific organized task forces, as it maintains more flexibility.
 

ArmyRick

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I am a little curious about something. We only have X number of tanks in the CF. Will every OBG get a tank squadron or troop? Or will armoured regiments hold the MBT squadrons and receive infantry coys subordinate to their BG?

I see that 2 RCR BG has combined its infantry and Armoured recce assetts under the control of the recce squadron. This makes sense to me.

If you look at an american stryker coy, the MGS are crewed by armoured (or armored since they be yanks?) but the coy is primarly infantry.

Would we do something similar if we attach our MBTs to infantry BG?
 

armyvern

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
Snake was a Sgt?  THAT, my friends, is news!  I've known him for pretty near ten years!

Well, had you known him for damn near 20 like me ... you'd have known he slithered down here with us once upon a time just as you did.  >:D
 

armyvern

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Mortarman Rockpainter said:
I'm sorry, colour me cynical.  This has been done, and this "make work" project is bollocks. 

Nah, not the same - they had mortars and pioneers way back in those times too ...  >:D
 

McG

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Mountie said:
Is there any update on how the 2 RCR ABG experiment is going? 
I understand the whole thing was on the brink of being shut-down to Force Generate for Afghanistan.  The Army does not have enough soldiers to keep a whole BG protected from the deployment cycles.

... but it is possible the decision was made to keep pressing on despite the shortage of pers and unit HQs.
 

vonGarvin

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ArmyVern said:
Nah, not the same - they had mortars and pioneers way back in those times too ...  >:D
Ah, noted.  Heck, who needs those "Cold War Anachronisms" anyway?  ::)
 

TangoTwoBravo

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ArmyRick said:
I am a little curious about something. We only have X number of tanks in the CF. Will every OBG get a tank squadron or troop? Or will armoured regiments hold the MBT squadrons and receive infantry coys subordinate to their BG?

I see that 2 RCR BG has combined its infantry and Armoured recce assetts under the control of the recce squadron. This makes sense to me.

If you look at an american stryker coy, the MGS are crewed by armoured (or armored since they be yanks?) but the coy is primarly infantry.

Would we do something similar if we attach our MBTs to infantry BG?

Your question about tanks is, to me, the crux of the debate for the potential Army-wide application of the OBG concept.  Do we spread the tanks, engineers, guns, recce etc equally across nine battlegroups or do we hold them centrally and task-organize?
 

a_majoor

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Tango2Bravo said:
Your question about tanks is, to me, the crux of the debate for the potential Army-wide application of the OBG concept.  Do we spread the tanks, engineers, guns, recce etc equally across nine battlegroups or do we hold them centrally and task-organize?

Given the ongoing shortages of combat equipment and soldiers, perhaps the model of creating a strong permanent C4I and CSS trunk (or maybe spine is a better metaphor) in each Area and grafting the appropriate limbs for the task is the only model that will be possible for the short and medium term. Barring some sort of unexpected event like the Afghanistan conflict suddenly spilling over into Pakistan or the "'Stans" in a big way, I don't see any government pouring extra resources into the CF, especially at the rate we had in the last several years.

Internally, if "we" can figure out how to streamline the C4I and CSS to provide service with fewer PY's, then we can free up resources to at least flesh out the Combat Arms and put boots on the ground. The equipment issues will have to be dealt with at the political level, and requires lots of public support and political will; sadly lacking and beyond our control.
 

George Wallace

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Tango2Bravo said:
Your question about tanks is, to me, the crux of the debate for the potential Army-wide application of the OBG concept.  Do we spread the tanks, engineers, guns, recce etc equally across nine battlegroups or do we hold them centrally and task-organize?

That is a good point to ponder.  I would say both, but I don't hold the purse strings.  Having been in the only "Tank Sqn" in Canada, I witnessed the lack of knowledge and experience in the other Arms in how to effectively work with tanks, the exception being 2 RCR, 22 Fd Sqn, and W Bty.

Spreading the tanks out amongst the nine battlegroups also spreads the tanks rather thin on the ground, and may not be an ideal plan either. 

If we could manage to get enough tanks to do both, we would be better able to give all arms more realistic training.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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I doubt that we can have tanks in all the OBGs and also tanks held centrally.  The advantage to centralizing resouces such as tanks is that their effect can be concentrated by the commander with greater ease.  This holds true in peacetime organizations as well as in war.  I believe that it is easier to attach-out a tank squadron from a tank regiment to an infantry battalion as required than it would be to suddenly try to concentrate those tank squadrons if you had decentralized them.  In addition, I believe that you get more bang for your buck within the same resource envelope with a tank regiment with three squadrons than you would with those tanks dispersed into troops in each OBG.

Even if you had nine tank squadrons I would argue they would be better served in three tank regiments within the CMBGs than spread out.  I think that the same would hold true for artillery and engineers.  Reconnaissance is an interesting argument, and perhaps it depends on what level of HQ we deploy.
 

Old Sweat

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There also is the real world issue of preparing and deploying a tank or engineer squadron or an artillery battery for a mission outside the country. I can only speak about what I have learned about the artillery, but to deploy a M777 battery as configured for the sandbox takes a load of resources both from within and outside the regiment. Suffice to say that the battery is both much larger than and possesses capabilities not found in its Canada-based counterpart. I am firmly in the camp of the affiliated battle group, and am unlikely to undergo a 'road to Damascus' conversion anytime soon.
 

dapaterson

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Remember:  The OBG is an experiment, not an end-state.

Right now we're sufficiently engaged in bastardizing everything in the hopes of making it work somehow for operations that it's difficult to draw any conclusions about what model works best.
 

George Wallace

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Tango2Bravo said:
Even if you had nine tank squadrons I would argue they would be better served in three tank regiments within the CMBGs than spread out.  I think that the same would hold true for artillery and engineers.  Reconnaissance is an interesting argument, and perhaps it depends on what level of HQ we deploy.

A three tank Sqn Armour Regiment per CMBG is more than adequate to cover the training, familiarization and effectively deploy Cbt Teams from within the Bde resources.  As I said, centralizing all the tanks in one location does nothing to keep effective fighting units.  Only those who get to work regularly with tanks can appreciate the work involved in fighting, maintaining and supplying tanks.  The Cougar, was a poor tank trainer, and created many poor habits amoungst, not only Armour soldiers, but their supporting Arms.  It caused many bad lessons to be learned.

I may also point out that only an Armour Ech really knows how to support Tanks.  You can not centralize all this experience in one location/BG.

A Tank Regiment, can easily provide a Sqn of tanks to each of a Bde's Inf Bns.  Tank Sqns working with the same Inf Bns, with the same FOO/FAC, and the same Engr Tp, become very efficient in what they do.  This is the optimal solution in my opinion.
 

Infanteer

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When considering what to "optimize" and what to "centralize", I guess you want to look at what needs to deploy and what is mission specific.  Tanks, in my opinion, are not going to be deployed on every operation.  Mortar Platoons are, as they can be transitioned into a variety of other enablers.  Optimize mortar platoons and affiliate tank squadrons.

Now, how to affiliate?  If we saw our Reg Force moving to the "Optimized Formation" (feck, they love that word) - Basically 1 CDN Div of 1,2 and 5 CMBGs - a probable solution would be to consolidate tank assets into a divisional battalion; a full on, full equipped Tank Regiment that belongs to Division.  This is what the USMC does, and they seem to have effective Tank-Infantry Cooperation when required (Baghdad, Fallujah), so your point is probably a little unfounded, George.

If we had the resources, having a Tank Regiment in each Brigade would be nice, but we may not have the numbers or the energy to overcome the Regimental Mafias....
 
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