Tuesday, 7 December 2004

NDM Article - Army Fine-tunes Training, Tactics for Urban Combat

NDM Article - Army Fine-tunes Training, Tactics for Urban Combat
Many pertinent and relevant issues raised in this article, including better urban warfare training facilities, the paramount importance of human intelligence, common communications platform, controlling the rooftops, and weapons malfunction in the field. That's what happens when you experience actual combat. The lessons learnt are real and remedial action needs to be done ASAP.
December 2004

Army Fine-tunes Training, Tactics for Urban Combat

by Roxana Tiron

The U.S. Army, grappling with the intense stress of urban operations in Iraq, requires more training facilities to better prepare troops for this treacherous combat, officials and war veterans said.

The service needs to set priorities for preparing soldiers at home bases and training deployed troops, said Col. Edmund Woolfolk, director for combined arms and tactics at Fort Benning, Ga.

For those soldiers already in combat, the Army is trying to figure out what kind of deployable facilities can meet their needs, said Lt. Col. Jeff Hill, deputy director of the training and doctrine command's program integration office at the Army training support center at Fort Eustis, Va.

“There are many tasks to train for,” Hill said. “The question we have to answer is, what are those capabilities we need for deployed forces?”

Finding the right solution not only depends on picking out the critical skills that troops need to hone, but also on developing facilities that are easy to maintain, said Hill. “It is hard to send out a huge team of contractors.”

Based on the review conducted in 1999 by the Combined Arms MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) Task Force, the Army, at its U.S. bases, stood up a series of facilities to address each level of training, according to Hill.

The four types of venues are a breech facility, a live-fire shoot house, an “urban-assault course” with five separate components—grenadier gunnery, underground trainer, offensive-defensive building, individual trainer and squad platoon trainer—and a combined arms collective training facility, which replicates a semi-dense urban structure with 20-26 buildings.

“All of those are training enablers for a home station strategy,” Hill said. “The trouble with the deployed training is how to I get the most bang for the buck. It is difficult to replicate all the four training facilities for deployment. They cost a lot of money, and they are permanent structures.”

As a short-term solution, the Army already has a series of mobile MOUT sites, built by the Anteon International Corporation, in Camp Doha, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Anteon was awarded a $6.8 million contract last year to produce the training systems.

The mobile site can support an Army platoon of about 30 to 40 soldiers. The modules are converted sea/land containers, measuring 8-feet wide by 9-feet high by 20-feet long. Movable walls allow the containers to be reconfigured to any shape or size required.

The mobile system also includes sound effects, booby traps and smoke, as well as instrumentation to provide various targets.

But the Anteon sites have their shortcomings, said Hill. “You limit [the training] to the re-configurability of the container. And you need special ammunition. You cannot use the combat ammunition,” he said.

The Army is shipping a new training facility to Iraq, called the Modular Armored Training House, or Match, in which soldiers can train with live ammunition.

Match, built by Target Action, in Provo, Utah, is a live-fire, 360-degree shooting-house designed for learning close-quarter skills, such as room clearing and hallway navigation. It is made up of a series of durable steel plates joined together to form walls, rooms and hallways. A plywood skin is attached to the steel, forming a 2-inch gap between the wood and the steel. Bullets penetrate the plywood, shatter on the steel, and fall to the bottom of the wall.

The house can be designed based on the type of scenarios soldiers need to train. Match can be made with open doorways, or with actual doors built with solid doorjambs to allow explosive entry training. It requires a flat foundation, such as a concrete pad or a wooden platform.

The system currently is used at police departments and public safety centers across the country. The U.S. Navy's special warfare center at Coronado, Calif., also uses Match, according to Action Target.

“Match and the Anteon [Mobile MOUT] are short-term solutions to what we need right now, and from those, we will develop a deployment training strategy,” he said.

Meanwhile, more training facilities are needed in the United States, said Woolfolk. “Soldiers complain that there are not enough shoot-houses.”

The Army should develop facilities at home stations, he said. The Army also needs urban exercise facilities that can accommodate an entire brigade and combined-arms training, he said.

He noted that virtual and constructive simulations can prove instrumental in preparing soldiers for their live exercises.

“Live is still the best way to train,” Woolfolk said. “You will never hear anything other than that from me. But there are some great ways to train to go to the field in this virtual-constructive realm.”

Woolfolk led a workshop on urban combat during the annual infantry conference and Fort Benning and has requested feedback from soldiers who had returned recently from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“[Simulation] gets you to a higher level and, [then] you do live training by stressing the organization to the max,” he told the soldiers in the room. “You are not doing the stuff that you could have done back at home station in the virtual-constructive [trainers].”

There is a lot of “goodness” in virtual and constructive simulations to train higher formations and staffs, according to Woolfolk. “Suppose you had a massive multi-player game to train the staff and rehearse,” he told commanders. “I am trying to develop a requirement for simulation to stress out the staffs, the formations, the things that we can't do at a combat training center.”

For lower formations, “we do what we can to get them as soon as possible into the live training,” he said.

Soldiers still view simulations with some reluctance, because they see value mostly in live training, according to those participating in the workshop.

“We have to prove to everybody that we can make virtual and constructive an enabler, that we can make it better,” Woolfolk said. “The only way that we are going to do that is by building something that replicates the dirty, cheating enemy, an asymmetric-type threat, because what we have now is not there. It won't even get you ready to go to the shooting.”

Trainers have to be three-dimensional and be able to be re-configured, he said. The Army also needs to develop fire-support and maneuver simulations, he added.

After training is completed and they end up on the streets of Iraq, soldiers can never let their guard down, said Woolfolk. “You have to look ready, so that you do not get attacked.”

In order to conduct successful urban operations, soldiers “have to stay on the offensive,” said Col. Joe Anderson, who commanded the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division's (Air Assault). He now is the division's chief of staff. “Both pressure and momentum were built by offensive operations and raids.”

If there is one thing on which Iraq veterans agree, it is that human intelligence was the most effective means of countering insurgencies.

“The first question we had to ask is, who are we fighting? It is a question we still have to ask today,” said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander of 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment in the 4th Infantry Division. “Time and experience will help you pick out the good informants from the bad.”

The man on the street is often the best source, he told soldiers at the infantry conference.

Another good source is a tribal leader who knows every single person in a village. “He is able to give you a wealth of information about each family member,” Russell said. “He also knows who does not belong in the area.” Police and government officials could be reliable, but “you should proceed with caution because they have their own survival at stake,” he noted.

It is important to reward the informants with personal favors, often money or even weapons. Also, protecting sources should be paramount, he said. “But be careful not to discuss sources with other Iraqis,” he cautioned. “They find themselves dead as a result.”

Using a method that the police employ in the United States, members of Anderson's brigade, when they were searching neighborhoods, left a calling card for people to get back to them with information. Printed on the card was a telephone number for a 24-hour a day intelligence-tip hotline, which the brigade manned with the help of an interpreter.

Tactical human intelligence teams and mobile interrogation teams were “overworked,” and were busier than anyone else in the brigade except for the explosive ordnance disposal teams, Fuller said.

Leaders, however, lacked the tools to rehearse their mission plans, he said. “We need advanced rehearsal tools, such as satellite imagery for analysis,” he said. That data, in order to be useful, has to be able to be converted into three-dimensional imagery, he said.

As far as communication is concerned, the Army must standardize its common operational picture, he said, because there are too many disparate systems, such as Falconview, Blue Force Tracking and the Maneuver Control System, among others.

“We have to think about communicating in all grey areas,” said Woolfolk. “The smart guys of the world have to figure out how we get a communications system that does not have a limitation.” Whatever system is developed, it will have to be smart enough to be able to switch from line-of-sight, to satellite or work over-the-horizon, depending on the circumstances, he said.

Meanwhile, squad radios should be able to talk securely at a three- to-five mile range, said Fuller. Soldiers also could use lightweight, long-range voice and data capabilities, he added.

In urban combat, snipers are critical to controlling the rooftops, said Anderson. The .50 cal. sniper rifle performed beyond expectation, with one shooter using it to kill an insurgent at 1,400 meters, he said. But soldiers were plagued by constant weapon malfunctions, especially with the M249 squad automatic weapon and the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher, Fuller said.

“The current weapons we have are old, and we are forced to slap new parts on these old weapons, and it is very hard to reduce risk,” he said. “We need a policy change on how we do life-cycle replacement on these weapons.” He said he wants to see these weapons taken out of service.

Thursday, 2 December 2004

NDM Article - 'Sea Bases' Will Be a Growth Industry, Predicts Expert

NDM Article - 'Sea Bases' Will Be a Growth Industry, Predicts Expert
Good points raised by the "futurist" in this article, especially about the over-hyping of network-centric warfare.


‘Sea Bases’ Will Be a Growth Industry, Predicts Expert

by Sandra I. Erwin

The relevance of the U.S. Navy in future military conflicts will be pegged to its ability to provide adequate “sea bases” for ground troops and tactical aircraft. This “assured access” will be an essential component of U.S. military strategy, because land bases on foreign lands increasingly will be unattainable.

These are the predictions of Owen R. Cote Jr., associate director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology national security studies program. Cote is a futurist working on a Navy-funded study focusing on what lies ahead for carrier-based aviation. The study was commissioned by Vice Adm. (Sel.) Mark Fitzgerald, former director of naval aviation.

Cote said he can predict safely that “sea basing and tactical aviation are growth industries” in the U.S. Navy. “Access to bases is episodic, and comes with constraints. That’s not likely to change.”

Although critics contend that the vulnerability of sea bases to enemy attack will put a damper on this strategy, potential enemies of the United States are unlikely to pose serious threats to aircraft carriers or other large-deck vessels, Cote noted. It would be reasonable to expect that “the basic capability asymmetry that exists today will remain for as long as we can see,” Cote said.

Early-warning radar aircraft such as the Air Force AWACS or the Navy’s E-2C Hawkeye will help to “keep the other guy at arm’s length,” he added. These airborne radar platforms, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars each, are too expensive for most countries. “There aren’t a lot of people making these, except some of our friends, who are selling them to our friends.”

But the Navy should not be fooled into thinking technology can fix every problem, Cote cautioned. He cited space sensors, unmanned aircraft, stealth and network-centric warfare as examples of over-hyped concepts that in fact should be viewed as “non-panaceas.”

The Air Force and the Navy also should rethink their approach to command and control, he suggested. Today’s sophisticated “combined air operations centers” are too cumbersome and bureaucratic, Cote said. “Managing the air battle from a central location on the ground, some distance away, linked by satellite communications, works great against small-scale opponents where the number of targets is limited. But it’s always going to constrict the pace.”

In the future, he added, the management of the air war will need to be more decentralized. “A lot of what now goes on inside the CAOC we’ll have to do in the back seat of an F/A-18 fighter jet.”

NDM Article - Services Sign Off on Common Procedures for Close-Air Support

NDM Article - Services Sign Off on Common Procedures for Close-Air Support
Well, its about time. Finally, there's a common procedure for all 4 services [USAF, USN, USMC, US Army].
Services Sign Off on Common Procedures for Close-Air Support

by Sandra I. Erwin

In an effort to reduce the risk of friendly fire and make close-air support more helpful to ground troops, U.S. military aviators from all branches of the armed forces are now required to follow common guidelines.

The U.S. military services and U.S. Special Operations Command signed in early September a “joint close-air support memorandum of agreement,” paving the way for a single document that will, for the first time, standardize the procedures and terminology employed by both aviators and ground controllers, said Navy Rear Adm. Matthew G. Moffitt.

“It is a watershed event,” said Moffitt, who commands the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, in Fallon, Nev.

“We finally have one joint document that drives the entire close-air support process, from start to finish,” Moffitt told aviators at the 2004 Tailhook Convention. “We now operate off the same procedures, with the same terminology and the same number of briefing lines.”

The briefing lines are more commonly known as the “nine-line brief.” It includes the nine pieces of standard information that a forward-air controller needs to send to the pilot who will strike a target. The nine-line brief also tells the pilot the position of friendly forces in the area.

Additionally, an executive committee has been tasked to figure out how to align different command-and-control programs from the various services. The goal, Moffitt said, is for “any service to communicate with any part of the close-air support business in any organization.”

Moffitt noted that U.S. officials would like to see the common processes extend to all NATO aircraft. “Our next step is to move into the NATO business,” he said. “Unfortunately, instead of a nine-line brief they have a 15-line brief. They have reasons for that.”

Nevertheless, he added, “we are in negotiations with NATO and see if we can further bring this package together from the coalition perspective.”

The need for better joint-service close-air support training became one of the primary “lessons learned” in Iraq, where friendly fire incidents have been attributed to miscommunication between pilots and forward ground controllers.

Another lesson cited was the need to integrate the Army’s Patriot air-defense system into aviation training. In April 2003, during the initial phase of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a U.S. Navy fighter was shot down by a Patriot missile. That was one among other friendly-fire incidents that still remain under investigation.

“We are trying to integrate Patriot into air-wing training at Fallon,” said Moffitt. “In my 30 years in this business, I have never worked with a Patriot organization other than showing up at a conflict and flying through their areas of concern. Little did we know. We learned some personal lessons in this last event.”

Wednesday, 1 December 2004

NDM Article - Army Initiates Study to Measure Value of Precision-Guided Weapons

NDM Article - Army Initiates Study to Measure Value of Precision-Guided Weapons
It had to come. We have finally reached a stage where we have to rein in the pursuit of ever-increasing precision of weapons. Value for money, not commonly seen in military spending, will be touted from now on.
With increasing sensor quality, the reliance on precision-guidance may in fact be reduced.
November 2004

Army Initiates Study to Measure Value of Precision-Guided Weapons

by Sandra I. Erwin

The soaring prices of precision-guided munitions have spawned yet another round of debates in the Army on the role these weapons will play on future battlefields and whether they are worth the cost.

While the Army continues to fund a variety of precision-guided weapon technologies for rockets, missiles and artillery projectiles, it also is trying to gauge future requirements for these systems and set realistic procurement goals, officials said.

Framing the discussion is a comprehensive study called “Precision Munitions Mix Analysis,” expected to direct future buys and possibly set the stage for an internal competition for resources within the Army.

A study group led by the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Futures Center is scheduled to complete the report by September 2005.

A key question that this study must answer is “How much precision can we afford?” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac, the Army’s top procurement officer.

Whether the Army can shift its doctrine and tactics away from “volume fires” to “precision fires” is a key topic the study will address, Yakovac said at a recent industry conference. He noted that the employment of precision-guided missiles in a similar tactical role as current artillery rounds is “becoming a big issue.”

The Army, like the other services, is under growing pressure from the Defense Department to field weapons that can pinpoint and hit enemy targets precisely, without causing indiscriminate civilian casualties.

Many in the Army, however, are experiencing sticker shock when they compare the cost of a $1,500 artillery round with $30,000 to $80,000 for a precision-guided weapon, Yakovac noted. “There is a lot of capability we are looking at, but when we look at the cost, it’s difficult.”

The Precision Munitions Mix Analysis, or PMMA, will focus on Army requirements in 2014, when the service expects to introduce the Future Combat Systems, a family of 17 vehicles connected by a single command-and-control network.

According to a draft version of the study obtained by National Defense, the issues to be probed include:

-Battlefield missions and tasks that require employment of precision munitions.
-Battlefield factors and conditions that predominantly influence the employment of precision munitions.
-Accuracy requirements.
-Costs associated with each precision munition.
-Which precision munitions offer the greatest return on investment based on effectiveness, cost, risk, and schedule.
-What mixes of precision munitions satisfy the requirements, and what are the approximate quantities of each munition for the mixes.
-Burden on the force (distribution vehicles, materiel handling, in-theater stocks).
-Potential force adjustments (delivery systems, sensor and target acquisition systems, sustainment systems, network, and tactics, techniques and procedures).

Each weapon will be gauged based on its “operational return.” The higher the return, the more likely the Army will buy it in large quantities.

Among the more contentious aspects of the study are the scenarios selected to frame the discussion. The study draft indicates that the main focus will be high- and medium-intensity conflicts, with limited emphasis on urban combat. One industry expert speaking off-the-record said this was a major flaw in the study, hinting a bias toward area artillery weapons, potentially at the expense of precision-guided missiles.

Recent comments by Maj. Gen. David P. Valcourt, chief of field artillery, suggest that future decisions on munitions buys will be shaped by the changing role of cannon artillery in the Army.

“Today, direct support cannons must do it all—often resulting in less responsive and effective fires,” Valcourt said in a presentation to the Precision Strike Association. In the future, the non-line of sight cannon will serve in close-combat roles, while the counterstrike functions will be left to more accurate high-tech weapons, such as the guided multiple launch rocket system and the precision-attack missile now in development under the FCS program.

Another caveat cited in the study is the Army’s evolving strategy to modernize its aviation units, and how it will affect

precision-guided munitions programs. According to the PMMA draft, “representation of Army aviation and unmanned air vehicle capabilities is limited due to pending Army aviation and UAV force structure decisions.”

The munitions to be evaluated in the study include the 120 mm precision-guided mortar, a mid-range munition now in development for the FCS, a 155 mm high-energy round with a course-corrected fuze, the Excalibur 155 mm satellite-guided

projectile, the precision-attack and loitering-attack missiles also in development for the FCS, the guided multiple launch rocket system, the unitary-warhead version of the Army tactical missile, the advanced precision kill weapon system for 2.75-inch rockets, the Viper munition for UAVs, and the joint common missile, now in development to eventually replace the Hellfire.

Other systems could be inserted to the list, based on recent feedback from Army labs and industry experts. Possible additions include: the common smart submunition, a kinetic energy armor-piercing explastic round, 155 mm and 105 mm advanced cannon artillery ammunition, a 155 mm dual-purpose improved conventional munition equipped with a course-correcting fuze, an upgraded version of Excalibur that so far has not been funded and an assortment of non-lethal munitions.

Tuesday, 23 November 2004

NDM Article - Pentagon Seeks Joint Doctrine, Training for Personnel Recovery

NDM Article - Pentagon Seeks Joint Doctrine, Training for Personnel Recovery
While not as glamorous as combat air patrols or bombing missions, combat search and rescue [CSAR] is a crucial and oft-used capability. Combining the different doctrines will help to streamline processes and effect better and faster rescues. Peacetime search and rescue missions can also benefit from this.

Thursday, 21 October 2004

Army tests blimp as eye in sky

Army tests blimp as eye in sky
The Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment System [RAIDS] looks promising as a "persistent stare" surveillance platform. opswarfare previously came across the High Altitude Airship [HAA] which is a similar concept. This class of airships can complement the Predator and Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] currently used by the USAF.

Passive Surveillance Systems :: VERA-E

ERA :: Products :: Passive Surveillance Systems :: VERA-E
An electronic intelligence [ELINT] and Passive Surveillance System from the Czech Republic. opswarfare was alerted to this system after a Jane's report that the Czechs have clear the sale of 1 unit for testing purposes to the US, the purchase being compensation for the US government's intervention into the sale of six systems to China. More details and capability to come after more research, but initial opinion is that a system that warrants this level of attention by the US should be quite effective.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Getting the basics right [Part II]

Increasing realism at the rifle firing range
Realism can be injected into a normal firing range without much physical changes. A figure 15 [1/5 of a person exposed, typically the head & just the top of the shoulder] target is the size of the foresight tip on a M16 rifle at 100m. A soldier would have problems positively identifying a threat using the naked eye at that range, let alone the usual firing range of 300m which would present an even smaller target to identify. Unless rules of engagement are so lax, which opswarfare does not advocate, it would be more effective to
  1. either shorten the range [from 300m to 100m],
  2. or incorporate binoculars or rifle scopes into the firing procedure. [for foxhole sandbag supported scenarios]

This ensures the good practice of positive identification of targets before firing.

For even more realism,

  1. different targets can be used [differentiate between enemy soldiers, friendly soldiers, civilians]
  2. targets appear at different distances at the same time [foster decision making to engage nearer targets first]
  3. night firing conducted using night vision goggles [NVG] instead of illuminating targets

Quick-aiming techniques, like aiming with the foresight tip only at very short ranges should also be taught. Built-in 1.5x scope on newer rifles should also be operationalised, that is, a scanning procedure be taught that maximises the increased vision range without compromising the reduced field of vision caused by the scope. opswarfare recommends scanning with both unaided eyes for targets, and using the scope for target identification and subsequent engagement, if needed.

opswarfare advocates that the techniques mentioned above be taught only after soldiers have learnt the basics, i.e. hitting where you aim.

Saturday, 16 October 2004

Red Team Journal

Red Team Journal: Strategic Vulnerability Assessment Through Better Red Teaming
A comprehensive source for people learning about red teaming, whether military-related or otherwise. Articles range from definitions to techniques.

Monday, 4 October 2004

Army Technology - Viking (BVS10) Armoured All Terrain Vehicle

Army Technology - Viking (BVS10) Armoured All Terrain Vehicle
In a previous article on Russian logistics for urban combat in Chechnya, a lack of an armoured supply & ambulance vehicle was cited as one of the problems. The BVS10 is a possible solution, with armoured cabins and low pressure rubber tracks.

Sunday, 3 October 2004

NZ Army's open policy towards procurement

Even though some answers are debatable, the Q&A on New Zealand's decision to buy the LAVIII shows its willingness to explain its purchase. This thread of being open seems to run throughout opswarfare's brief look at the various official NZ defence websites.

Friday, 1 October 2004

Avoiding a US-centric view of warfare

As with many other subjects, many discussions on warfare have been done by US-based entities. Part of the reason is that they have openly embraced information freedom on the internet. Language also plays a part, with English being the defacto language of choice, for better or worse. opswarfare has also been guilty of looking at warfare in a US-centric way. While doing research on red teaming [the article is experiencing delayed delivery], opswarfare has realised the fallacy of such a view. With that in mind, opswarfare will sought to cover warfare through an international outlook from now onwards.

Air Force Rethinks Approach To ‘Electronic Attack’

National Defense Magazine
This article outlines the future of US electronic warfare [read: jamming] aircraft. However, opswarfare feels that a UAV solution, either based on the Predator or Global Hawk platform, would be much more effective in terms of cost, time & quality.

  • Cost: lower costs [equipment & running costs] compared to manned aircraft
  • Time: faster to operationalise the requirement, as both UAVs were designed to carry sensors in a package
  • Quality: longer loiter times, smaller radar "footprint", reduced health risks of RF exposure on humans

Friday, 17 September 2004

EU launches crisis police force: European Gendarmerie Force

BBC NEWS Europe EU launches crisis police force
"...something between the neutrality of traditional UN peacekeeping and Nato's cruise missiles."
The text from the news report sums it up well. Policemen are more suited for "before & after" scenarios. Before & after a full-scale conflict, soldiers often look out of place on the ground. Sudan is the perfect scenario for this force, however the force is not ready yet.

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Heavy APC / IFV for urban warfare?

The Israeli Ministry of Defence is considering the development of a new heavy APC dubbed Nemerah (Tigress), based on the Merkava MBT, as was reported in Jane's Defence Weekly. Israel has a range of heavy APCs converted from old MBT platforms.

opswarfare agrees that a normal APC /IFV, with armour that is only thick enough to protect against small arms fire, is inadequate for modern warfare, especially urban warfare, where RPG and IED threats exist. We have seen this scenario played out in Palestine or Iraq; a lowly RPG can take out a APC.

Russia is the other country with this type of vehicle in development, BMPT & BTR-T.

Maritime Prepositioning Force [MPF]

These are the hardworking elements of the Gator Navy that work silently in the background. They consist of commercial container ships that have been converted to supply the logistical needs of the USMC at war. This type of ship is also a defence against the possibility of a devastating first strike on land assets. They supply nearly everything "...from tanks and ammunition to food and water and from fuel to spare parts and engine oil." The MPF is part of the US Military Sealift Command. What makes them special is the ability to launch amphibious craft and vehicles using a submerged stern ramp. A Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) [MPF(F)] is already being planned, with more features.

Amphibious Warfare (N753) & click on link at the bottom right
Maritime Prepositioning Ships - T-AK
Maritime Prepositioning Force

Armoured face mask

First seen by opswarfare in a book on special forces, the man in the middle is wearing an armoured face mask. opswarfare thinks these masks should be used more, as they provide important protection to the face. Also, there is potential for incorporating imaging devices and communications equipment. These men belong to Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza [NOCS], a special forces branch of the Italian Police Force. opswarfare has, to date, not seen any other organisation that uses these masks.

Shooting around corners

An old idea updated with new technology, cornershot allows shooting around corners. The example shown uses a pistol; there is a larger version for anti-tank missile.

Sunday, 12 September 2004

Blast From the Past

Improvised bombs pose a serious threat to modern militaries. Technologies and techniques both new and old can help.
A sobering article on how something as simple as a roadside bomb cannot even be dealt with easily using technology. Warfare has always remained asymmetric in nature, and will continue to be so. Success belongs to those with ingenuity, not technology.

Tuesday, 7 September 2004

Littoral warfare by remote control

Littoral warfare by remote control
Every weapons platform seems to be going unmanned nowadays, this article talks about unmanned surface vehicles. A good application could be resupply ships.

Thursday, 2 September 2004


after reading about subskimmers in the SAS fighting techniques handbook, opswarfare did a google search and came up with the link above, the idea seems quite suitable for covert infiltration, being a simpler solution compared to normal SDV or the new ASDV.

Israel's low-intensity conflict doctrine - inner conflict

Israel's low-intensity conflict doctrine - inner conflict
This article once again shows, opswarfare feels, that the US Army & USMC should learn from the Israelis with regards to solving the Iraq issue.

Monday, 30 August 2004

Urban Battles Highlight Shortfalls in Soldier Communications

National Defense Magazine
Another article that highlights the fact that we are trying to run before we can walk in the realm of warfare. Soldiers are reduced to shouting to communicate within buildings. Tadiran, Raytheon, ITT & Harris provide radios that attempt to solve this problem. Actually an interim and cheap solution is to use commercial off the shelf [COTS] PMR446 class of walkie-talkies for short range communications. Utilising UHF frequencies, these are more likely to be effective in urban areas as UHF waves pentrate walls better than the usual VHF waves used by military tactical radios. While it lacks frequency hopping and encryption functions, this lack of security is tempered by the fact that such squad/section level communications need not have to be secure. The only potential problem is that these radios would not be integrated into the overall combat radio network.

Integration time for security forces?

opswarfare wonders if it is time to integrate the various security forces [e.g. armed forces, police, customs]. It does not have to be done structurally, just a regular exchange of information and processes is good enough for the new security landscape that every country faces today. The various organisations can use this opportunity to verify leads, bounce ideas off each other, and share best practices. It won't be easy at first, as the potential inter-service rivalries and suspicions will have to be diluted before real work gets done.

Friday, 27 August 2004

Urban areas complicate military communications

eDefense - Detect. Decide. Shoot. Survive.
An article on communication, jamming and direction-finding in urban areas.

Portability and resolution of infrared-based sights will only get better

eDefense - Detect. Decide. Shoot. Survive.
Article on thermal imaging & night vision advancement & applications, with uncooled sensors coming to the fore.


eDefense - Detect. Decide. Shoot. Survive.
A new defence website, well at least new to opswarfare, with info on hardware, operations, and opinion articles. Registration is required, however, it is free. opswarfare will select articles from this site to blog about in the near future.

Thursday, 26 August 2004

Australia Risks Asian Ire with Long-Range Missiles

International News Article | Reuters.com
Replacing a long-range bomber [F-111] with a long range air-to-surface missile sounds smart, but why not go further by using tube-launched Tomahawk missiles from the torpedo tubes of the Collins-class submarines? The 3 missiles mentioned in the article under consideration by Australia do have a shorter range compared to the Tomahawks, so may be cheaper in comparison.

Saturday, 21 August 2004


Just thought of this idea of SAF settting up a Republic of Singapore Marine Corps [RSMC]. It fits in with our geography, being surrounded by water. Technically, it would require certain army, air force & navy units to be transferred to this new service, specifically BX IFVs, C-130 transport aircraft, CH-47 transport helicopters, AH-64D attack helicopters and Endurance-class LSTs. It would dovetail neatly with the new urban warfare unit [3SIR] being developed, although opswarfare still has some reservations for a urban warfare unit solely based on an infantry unit.

Thursday, 19 August 2004

Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?

Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons - A Deadly Combination
haven't had the time to finish reading this article, but it looks comprehensive, providing historical accounts of ROE scenarios faced by US troops.

Saturday, 14 August 2004

US Navy Virginia-Class submarine

A detailed pictorial at the new nuclear attack submarine of the US Navy, the Virginia-Class. Click here for the full resolution picture.

Friday, 13 August 2004

Simon Door Breaching Rifle Grenade

More rifle grenades, this one opens doors. Something to note, if this is an official israeli defence force website, then kudos for the frankness in discussing about its disadvantages, something you don't often see in official websites.

REFAIM Advanced Infantry Weapon System

REFAIM Advanced Infantry Weapon System
A potential Western counter to the RPGs used by insurgents all over the world. Much more high-tech, plus no need to carry a separate launcher, just use the standard rifle and fire. Should provide better range & firepower as compared to the M203.

Saturday, 31 July 2004

Researchers, Manufacturers Search for Better Body Armor

National Defense Magazine
Plenty of current & future body armour ideas discussed, extending protection to the limbs besides the vital organs is a good move.

Israeli Defense Forces Trying to Perfect Urban Combat Tactics, Techniques

National Defense Magazine
Quite lax rules of engagement being used in the Israeli context, for example, breaching through walls of civilian houses, not very comprehensive in terms of winning the "hearts & minds" of the Palestinian people, not very much useful in the global "media-savvy" context we live in nowadays, however, the other tactics are worth studying. opswarfare has always felt that operations other than war should use the Israeli-Palestine and Northern Ireland campaigns as important lessons to learn.
Israeli Defense Forces Trying to Perfect Urban Combat Tactics, Techniques

by Roxana Tiron

Israel Defense Forces have been working to perfect their urban warfare tactics, in an effort to eliminate militant cells in the disputed zones of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The goal is to gradually shift from a defensive to an offensive posture, said Col. Boaz Cohen, a military envoy to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.

On the offensive, the Isreali military hunts down potential suicide bombers and their handlers before they launch their operations, said Cohen.

“We realized that we cannot deal with the reality of suicide bombers,” he said. “Through the years, we realized that there is no real [suicide bomber] profile.”

Taking the fight to the terrorist cells is the only acceptable solution, he added. Previously, Israeli intelligence experts thought that suicide bombers were young, disadvantaged and poor. Now, they have realized that there is no clearly defined profile, Cohen said.

An offensive posture creates significant challenges for Israeli soldiers, who must be prepared to identify a terrorist cell and launch an attack without killing innocent civilians, said Cohen.

That is not an easy task, particularly in the old cities that often resemble labyrinths—they have narrow streets and are densely populated. Long-range weapons are not effective in these confined areas. In most cases, weapons are fired at ranges in the tens of meters, said Cohen.

In an offensive operation that may include multiple locations, an IDF brigade-level unit stages a mounted attack to encircle suspected areas that harbor terrorists. Soldiers start attacking from different flanks, to break the resistance, said Cohen.

Israelis are known for their swarming tactic, or “planned unpredictability,” according to Yagil Henkin, a military historian. Instead of using conventional tactics, such as taking the outskirts of a town first, they systematically attack from many directions. Swarming techniques, however, can create coordination nightmares.

When they operate in small tactical units, soldiers typically focus on a single target. They enter neighborhoods in civilian armored vehicles, rapidly penetrate the area and isolate the target. Once that is accomplished the heavier, “noisier” forces come in, said Cohen.

“The first challenge is to encircle the target or the objective, and then start acting when you have all your forces with you,” Cohen said. “We call it a surgical operation, trying not to affect the civilian population. ... We move through houses, through walls. We have breaching equipment,” he said. “Although we are causing some damage, we are saving lives.”

Israeli soldiers blast holes in the walls between houses, so they can avoid moving in the streets, Cohen said.

IDF planners are known for using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the operations in real time.

Despite the IDF’s refined tactics, the enemy they face is tough to break. “It is not a question of using all your military power,” he said. “We have more military power than any terror organization that we are fighting.”

The conundrum is how to keep civilians separated from the terrorists, he said, a problem that U.S. soldiers also face in Iraq. “Capturing those terrorists sometimes does not break resistance,” he said. Soldiers have to avoid killing civilians who blend with the terrorists, by mistake or sometimes willingly to distract and trick the soldiers.

U.S. forces in Iraq employed some of the same tactics the Israeli military uses. They set up impromptu checkpoints, kept militants on the defensive with frequent arrest raids and encircled villages.

Navy Downsizing Could Weaken Marine Corps Expeditionary Posture

National Defense Magazine
A sad sight, as budgets & politics weaken one of the most important assets of the US military, the amphibious ships that can launch air, sea, & beach landing attacks from almost anywhere.
Navy Downsizing Could Weaken Marine Corps Expeditionary Posture

by Roxana Tiron

As the U.S. Navy’s investments and planning point towards a shrinking fleet, it remains unclear how the downsizing will affect the Marine Corps and its ability to carry out expeditionary warfare missions.

Cutbacks in the number of amphibious ships, particularly, are of great concern to the Marine Corps, whose requirement for sealift assets is based on the need to transport 2.5 Marine expeditionary brigades. A MEB is an air-ground task force comprising 15,000 Marines.

Although no decisions have been announced yet, the Navy is expected to move away from its original goal of deploying 12 expeditionary strike groups and consider dropping the number to eight or 10. The ESGs are the service’s new operational concept that augments traditional amphibious ready groups with cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

Amphibious ships are the central piece of the traditional deployment posture of the Marine Corps. An amphibious ready group typically includes an LHA or LHD big-deck amphibious assault ship, one or two LPD amphibious transport dock ships and sometimes an LSD dock landing ship. An amphibious ready group often deploys with a carrier battle group.

If the number of ESGs is reduced, it would be almost certain that the Navy would scale back the 12-ship San Antonio class of new LPD amphibious transport dock ships.

Proponents of the cutbacks argue that the Marine Corps could fulfill its lift requirements with fewer ships, because future planned vessels are far more capable and roomier than the current platforms. They point to the future replacement of the LHA, the LHA-R, and the future maritime pre-positioning cargo ship, the MPF-F, as examples of future ships that will dramatically enhance the Marine Corps’ expeditionary capabilities.

Neither the LHA-R nor the MPF-F, however, will be available for many years. Both programs remain in the concept development phase, and funds have yet to be allocated for construction.

Even though the Navy claims that capabilities are more important than numbers, the Corps still needs to know that it will have a certain number of hulls available to deploy its forces, Lt. Gen. Robert Magnus, the service’s deputy commandant for programs and resources, told reporters.

“If you don’t own the beach, there’s no other way to get there,” he said. “They’re asking for Marines and amphibious forces to go to the fight.”

Magnus recognizes that new ships such as the LPD-17 amphibious transport dock, are “a hell more capable than ships that are out there right now. If we think the better ships will allow us to use less force, then we’ll continue to buy LPD-17s and large deck amphibs, and just retire some of the older ships sooner.”

But trimming the number of ARGs could have significant implications for the Marine Corps, given that even the current 12 cannot accommodate 2.5 MEBs, noted retired Marine Maj. Gen. William Whitlow, a former director of naval expeditionary warfare.

“If we can’t get our forces to the objective area expeditiously and in sufficient quantity to win, then we are relegated to a long, protracted attrition type of conflict,” he told National Defense.

Beyond the sealift capability, the Marines need the infrastructure, offered by amphibious ships, to sustain prolonged operations, Whitlow said.

“The Navy is building less and the Marines are sitting by,” he said.

Another trend in the Marine Corps is the increasing reliance on air support. That is why the LHA-R is expected to carry more aircraft than any other amphibious assault ship.

The Marines agreed to give up the well deck in the LHA-R design to make room for 23 Joint Strike Fighters, 28 MV-22 Ospreys, or a combination of aircraft. Giving up the well deck means no air-cushion landing craft or amphibious assault vehicles can be launched from the ship.

“Not having the well deck basically gives you more volume for the major mission equipment,” said Arnie Moore, chief engineer with Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. The company is working on the design of the LHA-R.

“It’s a long, very large space, and it’s not subdivided into a number of smaller spaces,” he said. “I believe that they’re going to have a lot of capability there to support the air wing that they don’t currently have now.”

Without a well deck, the LHA-R will have to join other vessels for amphibious assaults, according to the Navy. The LHA-R is meant to replace the existing four LHAs in the fleet.

Nevertheless, insiders say the Marine Corps will not want more than two ships without a well deck. The first LHA-R could just be an intermediate step towards a new class of ships.

“The LHA-R should be capable of handling legacy air assets and future ones that are different size and weight,” said Whitlow. “It should have the ability to switch out modules to convert into a command and control ship. It should not be a single-purpose ship.”

An aviation-only capable ship would be “very short sighted,” Whitlow added. Any future ship should be built “from the keel up to be able to adapt to a myriad of capabilities.”

That also should be the case with the MPF-F, intended to replace the current fleet of 18 pre-positioning cargo vessels. The Navy and the Marine Corps have not settled yet on a design.

Options could range from a ship comparable to the current Bob Hope class, to a much larger ship, or a family of dissimilar ships.

But if the program does not get under way next year, the Navy will not be able to have the MPF-F by 2010, when it would be needed, according to Whitlow. “That is a charade,” he said.

Marines are “not astute at watching” the discrepancy between rhetoric and action when it comes to shipbuilding, said Whitlow. “They trust the Navy.”

Even though recent conflicts validated the need for more sealift and support vessels, the Navy continues to wrongly focus its investments on destroyers and submarines, said Whitlow.

The Navy should recognize there is a limited role for cruiser destroyers with anti-aircraft capabilities, or for a $4 billion submarine program—the advanced SEAL delivery vehicle— to transport the Navy Sea, Air and Land teams, he said. That is a “pretty expensive platform, and the SEALs can get there in other ways,” he said.

Should the U.S. military have to reposition forces to handle another contingency, it would have to take “huge risks,” in the absence of sufficient sealift.

Without enough amphibious ships to carry and sustain three MEBs, the service will lose its ability to gain unencumbered access to the battlefield, said Whitlow. Under the worst-case scenario, he noted, if there are insufficient ships, the Marine Corps may have to consider downsizing its own force.

Urban Camouflage

Urban Camouflage
Interesting idea of reversible combat uniforms for day & night in urban warfare.

Monday, 26 July 2004

The Harrier II, opswarfare feels, is an under-rated aircraft. Its versatility in operating from almost anywhere is a major plus in close air support [CAS] missions. So it is rather sad that it may be withdrawn from RAF service, due to shrinking budgets and expensive replacement programmes. Good close air support platforms like the Harrier and A-10A Thunderbolt II are going to be replaced by multi-role fighters like the JSF which are not likely to do CAS that well.

Popular Science | When Is a UCAV Not a UCAV?

Popular Science | When Is a UCAV Not a UCAV?
A critical article listing the potential cost overruns of UCAVs, which would negate one of the main requirements of a UCAV, being cheap enough to be expendable for high risk targets. Nice title, a play on "The revolution will not be televised"
When Is a UCAV Not a UCAV?
The Pentagon's plan for a
low-cost, modest vehicle is bloated beyond recognition.
By Bill Sweetman
Posted 05.20.2003 at 12:20 pm

Pilots often volunteer for the most difficult missions, but the Pentagon continues to press ahead with its plan to build an unmanned combat air vehicle, or UCAV, that could fly without risking a pilot's life. A simple plan, but it's become increasingly ambitious-though a proven, simple UCAV model exists: Predator.

Originally built for recon, the Cessna-size Predator was fitted with Hellfire missiles in 2001 and has since carried out successful strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq. The Air Force is testing a bigger version, the MQ-9 Predator B, which carries 3,000 pounds of smart weapons (up from about 400 pounds) and whose 50,000-foot cruise altitu
de puts it beyond reach of the most common threats-guns and shoulder-fired missiles. A Predator B costs $8 million; the Pentagon's planned UCAV has an anticipated price tag of at least $25 million.

That inflation means the Pentagon has lost sight of its goal, warns DARPA's first UCAV program manager, Michael Francis, who's now at Lockheed Martin. The UCAV as originally conceived, he says, "was designed to get us out of the death spiral"—the term for the trend in which each generation of military airplanes costs more and is built in smaller numbers than the one that came before it. If a next-gen UCAV costs three times as much as the current model, one has to wonder whether the military can afford such disposability.

Unmanned combat aircraft not only save lives; they don't sleep and so can focus on a task indefinitely. But lacking a human brain—what one pilot calls "the five-pound shoulder-mounted computer"—they can't be trusted to tell a Scud from a school bus without the help of an operator on the ground. If the radio link is lost, UCAVs go dumb. Given such limitations, how elaborate should unmanned combat aircraft be? The original 1999-era UCAV, the X-45A, was to cost around $10 million and carry 1,500 pounds of bombs. But the military is now mulling the X-45C, an F-16-size craft that would carry 2 tons of bombs. Plans revealed in March call for the Air Force to have 36 such combat-ready UCAVs by 2010. Pentagon officials insist the beefed-up specs are needed: Their new UCAV will be stealthy, which the Predator is not, twice as swift as Predator, and have greater range and endurance. Says UCAV program manager Col. Earl Wyatt: "If we can do the same thing as everyone else, the answer will be, thank you, no, I've already got it."

Indian Air Force - UAV Operations in the Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force - UAV Operations in the Indian Air Force
Informative website showing operations of Israeli-made Searcher II UAVs in the Indian Air Force.

In the tracks of the Predator: combat UAV programs are gathering speed

In the tracks of the Predator: combat UAV programs are gathering speed
The next generation of manned-strike aircraft are most likely to be accompanied by unmanned combat aerial vehicles [UCAV]. They will be utilised for high value targets like command centres, plus dangerous missions like suppression of enemy air defences[SEAD].
Non-Subscriber Extract

In the tracks of the Predator: combat UAV programs are gathering speed


The term "unmanned combat air vehicle" (UCAV) was coined less than a decade ago, but armed, unmanned aircraft are in service and the subject of major programs worldwide. The biggest single effort, the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) managed by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is budgeted at more than US$4 billion over the next five years. DARPA is also developing the ambitious Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft (UCAR) for the US Army. The French government is pushing the formation of a Dassault-led UCAV project, named Neuron, and Dassault has formally joined forces with Saab and EADS to fly a demonstrator by 2009.

At the same time, the pioneering MQ-1 Predator remains in combat use, and is being followed by the larger, much more heavily armed MQ-9 Predator B. Other UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) - including the US Navy's (USN's) Fire Scout and the Army's forthcoming Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) vehicle - are being developed to carry weapons.

The majority of these UCAV programs place heavy emphasis on network-centric warfare (NCW). J-UCAS is the Pentagon's flagship NCW program and the UCAR is intended to be accessible to any communications node on the battlefield. Sweden's SHARC (Swedish Highly Advanced Research Configuration) UCAV demonstrator has already flown simulated missions controlled via a commercial-type Internet link, experience which will be transferred into the Neuron program.

Under the J-UCAS program, the two original X-45A demonstrators built by Boeing are continuing their flight tests. In mid-April, one of the X-45As became the first purpose-built UCAV to release a precision-guided weapon, launching an inert GPS (Global Positioning System)-inertial Small Smart Bomb and hitting a ground target at the USN's China Lake research facility. The human operator confirmed the identification of the target and authorized the UCAV to arm and release the weapon, but the X-45A maneuvered on to the target, opened its weapon bay and dropped the bomb autonomously with the operator in a supervisory role. The aircraft was operating at 35,000ft and Mach 0.67 (M0.67), and the weapon hit the target.

Next, the X-45As will prepare for two-ship operations with a series of tests involving one X-45A and the program's T-33 surrogate aircraft, which carries X-45A navigation and communications systems together with an observer and a safety pilot. This will pave the way for tests of coordinated tactics with two unmanned vehicles.

The X-45A represents the original concept of the UCAV as a small aircraft, stealthy by virtue of its size as well as its shape, and inexpensive enough to be 'attritable': losing the aircraft would be like the loss of a Predator today, not a major event. The UCAV would also be stored until required for a live exercise or combat operations, and would be airlifted into the theater of operations in its storage container.

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End of non-subscriber extract

Friday, 23 July 2004

Foreign Military Studies Office Publications - "Soft Log" and Concrete Canyons: Russian Urban Combat Logistics in Grozny

Foreign Military Studies Office Publications - "Soft Log" and Concrete Canyons: Russian Urban Combat Logistics in Grozny
Logistics may be assumed to be easier for urban areas, but not so, as seen in this paper.


“Soft Log” and Concrete Canyons: Russian Urban Combat Logistics in Grozny

by Mr. Lester W. Grau
and Mr. Timothy L. Thomas
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS.

This paper appeared in the October 1999 issue of Marine Corps Gazette

...logistics make up as much as nine tenths of the business of war, and ...the mathematical problems involved in calculating the movements and supply of armies are...not unworthy of a Leibnitz or a Newton.

Martin Van Creveld1

Although logistics is a major concern of warfare, comparatively little has been written about logistics when compared to writings about the tactical and strategic aspects of various wars. As a subset, very little has been written about logistical support of urban combat. One historic precept of urban combat logistics is that ammunition expenditure increases dramatically when fighting in cities. Recent Russian experience in fighting for the Chechen capital city of Grozny in January/February 1995 demonstrated that ammunition resupply was not the only problem. Demands on maintenance, supply, transport and medical support surpassed the capabilities of TO&E logistics units. Logistics demands were further increased by the requirement to provide humanitarian relief during the course of the fighting..

Russian tactics, techniques and operational concepts for urban combat were based on their broad experience in the Great Patriotic War [World War II]. There were three underlying assumptions that shaped the Soviet/Russian concept of future urban combat. First, urban combat would be fought in nearly "empty" foreign cities where the bulk of the local civilian populace had left. Second, that the enemy force in the city would be a conventional military force. Third, that the army would have a period of conventional combat to fully develop procedures and identify problems before it began that most-difficult mission-- fighting in a city. None of these assumptions proved correct in the fighting in Grozny. The civilians had no place to go and did not expect such extreme fighting, so they sat tight while the fighting engulfed the city. The Russian Army, as the sole government representative, was expected to provide food, shelter, clean water, sewage, electricity, and medical treatment to the civilians (who were citizens of the Russian Federation). The Russian TO&E combat service support units were barely able to sustain the Russian Army, let alone the large civilian populace, due to the increased demands of urban combat. It was beyond their capability and the civilians suffered. Eventually, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) helped restore these facilities.

January 1995. Russian troops and tanks make an assault river crossing over the Sunzha River in the city of Grozny.
Russian troops and tanks make an assault river crossing over the Sunzha River in the city of Grozny

Russian urban war-fighting concepts were designed for fighting against another conventional army. The Chechen opposition were primarily guerrillas and irregulars backed by a small, fledgling regular force. The Chechens conducted a mobile "occasional" defense. They would hold one strong point one day and another on the next. The only exception was the Presidential Palace in the middle of the city which they defended continually. Therefore, the Russian Army would stockpile supplies and munitions for projected attacks, but the attacks would frequently fall on empty buildings (or worse, buildings full of civilians). The enemy had moved, sometimes to the rear of the advancing Russian Army. This made it very difficult to direct combat service support to the critical sector in time. The Russian Army wanted to fight a linear battle, but the Chechen opposition made them fight a nonlinear battle. The Russian logistics units were unprepared for this.

The Russian Army began the fight in the capital city of Grozny-a modern city of 490,000 people mostly living in concrete and brick high-rise apartment buildings (an area over 100 square miles). The city is served by a major rail line, airfield and is on a major highway net. Intercity movement relied on buses, trams, and private automobiles. Large factories and chemical plants competed with the oil industry for labor. A major oil and gas pipeline passes through the city. It is a difficult place for any army to begin a campaign.

Establishing the Theater Logistics Structure

The conscript-based Russian Army that entered the break-away Republic of Chechnya in December 1994 was not prepared for the fight. There was not a single combat-ready division in the entire Russian force structure. Their deployed force was a composite grouping of various units that were rapidly cobbled together. The logistics units were equally in bad shape and were hurriedly assembled for the effort.2 To further complicate logistics support, the ground campaign against the city of Grozny was mounted on three separate axes-from the west, northwest and east.3 (Map) The fight for the city lasted one month and clean-up operations took another month. The city was left in ruins.


Still, the Russian military planners and transportation personnel did an excellent job in assembling the composite force from all over Russia. Almost all the force and supplies initially traveled on rail or aircraft. Since Chechnya is part of Russia, the logistics build-up was founded on the existing logistics infrastructure of the North Caucasus Military District. The majority of the logistics support facilities and units were positioned near the Mozdok garrison. Mozdok has a good railhead and airfield and is located some 110 kilometers from Grozny. The Russian rear services built a tent city with some 3,000 heated tents, 114 mess halls, shower and bath units and vehicle wash points. The rear services also brought a shower and laundry train forward to Mozdok.4 Long-haul was by rail and air and soon depots, supply dumps and supply points were established at Mozdok extending toward Grozny. Three truck LOCs were established-one per main axis. Vehicle refueling points with rest stops containing mess tents and heating tents were set up along the LOCs.5 Trucks were essential to move supplies from the airfield and railhead forward toward Grozny.

Food Service

The fighting for Grozny began on New Years's Eve 1994. Chechnya is mountainous and the winters are cold and snowy. The planners decided to provide 150% of the normal ration to each soldier. This would exceed 5000 calories and included a daily 300 grams [10.5 ounces] of meat, 50 grams [1.75 ounces] of heavy cream and 30 grams [1.05 ounces] of cheese. Field bakeries were established on each of the main axes at Mozdok, Vladikavkaz and Kizlyar. Later, when the north Grozny airfield was captured, the Russians positioned three field bakeries there-with a daily capacity of eighteen tons of bread.6 There should have been plenty of food for every soldier.

However, the Russians had trouble delivering rations to the forward fighting positions. Meals were prepared on the KP-125 and KP-130 mess trailers. These are very serviceable cooking units which are hauled by the ZIL-130 or GAZ-66 trucks. However, when the ground around Grozny thawed, these trucks could not haul their mess trailers through the soupy mud. Then, the only way to haul the mess trailers forward was behind fuel or water trucks. Fuel trucks could not enter the city, since a single bullet might set the entire vehicle ablaze, so mess trailers often got no further than the outskirts of the city. Therefore, the food had to be ladled into mermite-type containers, which were then loaded into armored personnel carriers for transport into the city.7 This absence of "hard log" transportation was a constant problem.

Cold breakfast before combat.
Cold breakfast before combat

Often the troops at the forward positions had to eat dry rations.8 These dry rations did not provide the minimum daily required amount of calories or vitamins.9 Often, the troops that needed the extra calories the most were not even getting the minimum daily requirement. Thus, the initial plan to provide 5,000 calories per day went widely astray, primarily due to inadequate transport.10

High-demand Items:

Besides small arms ammunition, front-line infantry used copious amounts of hand grenades, smoke grenades, smoke pots, demolition charges, flame thrower rounds, RPG-7 rounds and single-shot disposable antitank grenade launchers. Tear gas grenades were often required at certain points on the battlefield and had to be pushed forward. The front line infantry also had an immediate need for quantities of grappling hooks and ropes, light-weight ladders and night vision equipment. Many of these items were delivered by emergency airlift to Mozdok. Where there was a shortage of night-vision equipment, the Russians used mounted and dismounted searchlights to illuminate the battlefield and dazzle the Chechen opposition.11

Mortars produced the most casualties on both sides and HE and smoke mortar ammunition was always in demand. Artillery was also used, often in a direct fire role. One-fifth of the artillery ammunition fired was smoke or white phosphorous-consequently these were high-demand items. Smoke screened infantry movement and white phosphorus smoke had the additional advantage (or disadvantage) of being lethal, capable of penetrating existing protective mask filters and not being banned by any international conventions.12

One of the most effective Russian weapons in city fighting was the venerable ZSU 23-4--a lightly-armored self-propelled antiaircraft gun whose four 23mm barrels spat out up to 3,200 rounds per minute. The elevation and deflection of the system, as with its modern equivalent, the 2S6, provided an excellent counter-gunner weapon for city fighting. However, keeping the ZSU 23-4 and the 2S6 in 23mm and 30mm ammunition was a constant problem.13

Clean drinking water was a high-demand item, but delivery of clean water forward often proved too difficult. Individual water treatment panticides took too long to work. Fighting is thirsty work and soldiers drank what was available. Viral hepatitis and cholera were the result.14

POL was critical as the Russians used over 200,000 tons of POL during the battle for Grozny. Captured POL stocks proved very useful to the Russian ground forces. A major problem was moving the POL stocks up close to the units in contact.15

Transportation Support

Primary heavy-lift long-haul into the theater was on rail. Railroad troops had to restore 260 kilometers of track, clear mines from another 70 kilometers, repair switches and restore electric power to electric rail lines. Trains had to be protected as they came under mortar, artillery and sniper fire.16

Air transport played a significant role in the long-haul of men and supplies. High demand items were almost always shipped by air. Practically the entire Russian Military Transport Aviation (VTA), plus some commercial aviation was involved in supporting the effort.

In theater, truck transport was essential. During the short preparation period (11-30 December 1994), 2,850 long-haul trucks supported the ground forces. Of these 90 had serious break-downs and 83 were written off as non-economically repairable. During the battle for Grozny, the long-haul truck requirement for ground forces increased to 6,700 trucks.17 Controlling all this traffic was a problem. The Russians had forgotten about their Afghanistan experience where the Soviet 40th Army had a traffic control brigade assigned to control convoys. Consequently, the Russians had to assemble an ad hoc traffic control brigade at the same time that they were conducting a major operation.18 Traffic control is just one example of where the lack of adequate time in the preparation phase can cripple the entire effort. Getting logistics in place and ready takes time. Political leaders did not give that time to the Russian Army.

Writing a letter home during the fighting in Grozny.
Writing a letter home during the fighting in Grozny

The fighting in Grozny highlighted several problems. Supply trucks were soft-skinned, not rugged enough and could not be exposed to urban combat. One of the major problems supplying forward forces was that trucks could only go forward to a certain point. Then all the cargo had to be trans-loaded onto BTRs, MTLBs or other armored vehicles. The armored vehicles were not designed primarily for carrying cargo and had to make several trips to haul a single truck's load. This meant that the combat commander lost the use of many, if not most of his armored combat vehicles for combat. They were busy hauling ammunition, food and water or serving as ambulances. There was a chronic need for an armored supply vehicle which could move right up to the forces in contact.19

Connected with this problem was the lack of load carrying racks on the outside of Russian armored vehicles. Tents, sleeping bags, kit bags, squad stoves and the like were carried in the supply trucks. The trucks could not get forward and there was no place to carry soldiers' gear on or in the armored vehicles. As a result, combatants had to do without individual gear for days at a time.

Rearming and refueling combat vehicles was particularly difficult. It usually had to be done at night. Rearming and refueling on site meant that lots of soldiers carried fuel cans and ammunition boxes forward-a long, arduous and hazardous process. Withdrawing vehicles, particularly tanks, to rearm and refuel is also difficult.20 Forward-deployed troops did not always get the word that their supporting armor was being withdrawn only for rearming and refueling, sometimes misinterpreting a withdrawal of tanks as part of a general withdrawal.


Maintenance requirements exceeded expected maintenance norms for conventional combat during the two-month urban fight.21 Armored vehicle maintenance was especially critical and unit maintenance officers tried to keep control of their vehicles and repair as many vehicles as possible at regiment or brigade level. Still, during the two-month fight, forward support maintenance repaired some 217 armored vehicles, depot maintenance repaired some 404 armored vehicles and 225 vehicles were written off as being non-repairable. Thus some 846 of 2,221 armored vehicles involved in the fight (38%) were out of action for some period of time-although not simultaneously.22 Combined with the armored vehicles detailed for supply runs and medical evacuations, some combat commanders were lucky to have 40% of their armored vehicles present for combat.

In order to meet increased maintenance demands, the Russians formed three separate maintenance battalions and two maintenance detachments in addition to the deployed TO&E units.23 The Russians established collection and repair points on each axis. In the west, the rear point was in Vladikavkaz while the forward was located near the trains of an airborne division. In the north, the rear point was in Mozdok while the forward was with the trains of a motorized rifle brigade. In the east, the Russians established three forward collection and repair points-with the trains of a motorized rifle division, an airborne regiment and a motorized rifle regiment.24 During the month of January 1995, forward support and depot maintenance repaired 1,286 vehicles and returned them to their units. These included 404 armored vehicles, 789 wheeled vehicles and 75 artillery pieces. Maintenance personnel evacuated another 259 damaged armored vehicles from Grozny during January fighting. Due to the complexity of fire control systems, automatic reloading systems, electric systems and communications systems, 26% of some types of armored vehicles had to be repaired by factory representatives.25

Combat damage and equipment failure was not the only maintenance problem. Money was not available to repair many vehicles prior to the war and so 646 "hanger queens" were shipped into the theater. All these 646 vehicles ( 338 wheeled vehicles, 217 armored vehicles and 41 artillery pieces) had to be repaired prior to the initiation of combat. Maintenance demands exceeded norms to such a degree that 573 tons of armored vehicle spare parts and accessories, 605 tons of wheeled vehicle spare parts and accessories and 60 tons of artillery spare parts and accessories had to be brought into theater to supplement the on-hand repair parts.26 As a result of its poor performance and high fuel consumption during the fighting in Grozny, the Russian high command canceled production of the gas-turbine engine for the T-80 tank.27

Medical Support

Russian Army care of the wounded was usually well planned and executed once the patient reached the battalion aid station. Three weeks prior to the Russian incursion, the Russian Army established and trained special emergency medical treatment detachments in each military district. Four of these detachments deployed to Chechnya to support the maneuver units and supplement their TO&E medical units.28

The Russians utilized their normal conventional war evacuation system and usually employed ground medical evacuation as the quickest and safest form of evacuation. Each maneuver company was reinforced with a physician's assistant and each maneuver battalion had a medical doctor plus the ambulance section. Surgeons, anesthetists and additional nurses manned the regimental medical post.29 Wounded were normally evacuated to the regimental medical post by make-shift armored ambulances (BTR-80), since the Chechens fired on the soft-sided ambulances. Forward medical stations and hospitals needed to be dug in or deployed in basements as the Chechens also shelled these. Patients requiring more extensive medical care were evacuated by MEDEVAC helicopter and MEDEVAC aircraft.30 Forward air evacuation was not used much, particularly after the Chechens shot down several MEDEVAC helicopters. The fighting in Grozny proved the need for a specially-designed armored ambulance.31

Evacuation the wounded.
Evacuation the wounded

City fighting produced a different percentage of casualty types. Red Cross statistics for limited conflicts usually reflect 23% wounded from mines, 26% from bullets, 46% from shrapnel, 2% from burns and 3% miscellaneous. In the city fighting of Grozny, however, there was a higher percentage of burns and the majority of wounds were caused by mortar fire. The majority of those who were killed or died from wounds were hit in the head and chest by sniper fire (particularly among the civilians who did not have flak jackets and helmets). Whereas the normal ratio of wounded to killed is 3:1 or 4:1, this was reversed in the Grozny city fighting where three were killed for every wounded. [This ratio is probably skewed and reflects that many of the wounded could not be reached and given first aid in time. The actual initial ratio was probably closer to 2:1 wounded to killed.] Snipers presented a problem for medical evacuation and frequently the wounded could not be evacuated until night fall.32

The Russian Army record in disease prevention was nowhere near as impressive as their handling of the wounded. Russian soldiers frequently lacked clean drinking water, clean clothing, hot rations and washing facilities. Personnel suffered from viral hepatitis, cholera, shigellosis, enterocolitis, diptheria, malignant anthrax and plague. One combat brigade had 240 simultaneous cases of viral hepatitis. Since Russian field units were down to 60% strength or less at this time, a brigade would be lucky to muster 1,500 personnel. Over 15% of this one brigade was down with hepatitis. The brigade was combat ineffective due to disease and contaminated water was the main culprit. Bacilli from the human intestinal tract were present in 60 to 80% of dishwater tested. Some 4% of the sick worked in food handling or water distribution.33

Russian civillian, wounded in a mortar attack, is evacuated from a jelly factory.
Russian civillian, wounded in a mortar attack, is evacuated from a jelly factory

Psychiatric casualties are higher in urban combat. Most of the fighting in Chechnya was in cities (first in Grozny and then a succession of smaller cities and finally towns). A Russian military psychiatrist conducted a survey of 1,312 soldiers during the combat.34 Soldiers surveyed were still capable of performing combat functions. The survey found that 28% were healthy and the other 72% had some type of psychological disorder (46% exhibited depression; a weak, apathetic or retarded motor state; or simple insomnia). Other disorders in the 46% included a lack of motivation, high anxiety, neuro-emotional stress, tiredness, and hypochondriacal fixation or panic attacks. The other 26% exhibited psychotic reactions such as high anxiety or aggressiveness, and a deterioration of moral values or interpersonal relations, excitement or acute depression. About 40% of the soldiers screened demonstrated a lack of neuro-psychological stability. The longer a soldier was stationed in the war zone, the more radical the change in his neuro-psychological condition. The percentage of troops with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) was higher than in Afghanistan-reflecting the impact of urban combat.35

The Russians noted that they should have rotated units frequently to allow the soldiers to bathe, sleep, train and readjust. This would have required much larger reserves than were available and would create an additional logistics load. The Russians recommended that future urban combat include more psychiatric support-including professionals who would work forward in the units.36

Prisoners and Detainees

Separating combatant from non-combatant was a difficult problem for the Russian armed forces. They began by simply examining suspects for bruises in the pocket of the shoulder to see if they had fired a weapon and looking for powder or burn marks on suspects' forearms and shirt cuffs. By the second month, the Russian internal troops resorted to a simpler method-rounding up most Chechen males and putting them in "filtration" camps. The camps were designed to identify and separate those Chechens who had possibly fought against the Russians from peaceful civilians. Prisoner gathering and maintaining filtration camps, run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), required a considerable amount of vehicles, food, POL, water and security support-much of which apparently came from Ministry of Defense assets. The Russians were not prepared to handle the mass of prisoners. As a consequence, the prisoner situation was so disordered that the International Red Cross had difficulty locating camps and found it impossible to trace individual prisoners.37

Handing Off Support to Government and Non-Government Agencies

The Russian Armed Forces could not simultaneously fight and restore food delivery, sewers, water processing, public health and public services in the city. This task was eventually handled by the Ministry of Emergency Situations-EMERCOM. EMERCOM is the successor to the Soviet Union's civil defense organization. It is a rough equivalent to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency-FEMA.

EMERCOM managed to do a great deal to restore vital services to Grozny. The EMERCOM technical directorate dispatched their epidemic prevention service which monitored/inspected food supplies; performed bacteriological testing on the sick; conducted disinfection, disinfestation and rat control in the city; educated the public on health issues; and restored Chechnya's epidemiological and health centers. They also set up water distribution points at three hospitals; equipped three bathing facilities for patients and medical personnel; removed fallen debris and regular garbage; put three hospital cafeterias back in order; delivered medical and equipment and drugs; provided all hospitals with a fully-equipped ambulance; restored a maternity center; and provided 190 oil heaters.

EMERCOM technical services further restored more than 50 kilometers of high-voltage power lines; restored three heat and power plants; and set up eight diesel electric stations and repaired another. They restored 5331 meters of gas lines; delivered gas to 34 high-rise apartment buildings and 21 private buildings; and restored a gas distribution point in the center of Grozny. They set up a field bakery and delivered bread-making ingredients.

Finally, EMERCOM cleared mines from five water pumping and purification stations; performed engineer and medical reconnaissance of water sources; set up water collection stations on the Sunzha River; provided emergency repair to water and sewage systems, and restored 21 damaged segments on major waterlines on eleven streets. EMERCOM also inspected and tested Grozny's radioactive and chemical sites; testing fifteen dangerous inter-agency sites and exchanged NBC information with the Interior Ministry.38

Beginning in January 1995, EMERCOM assisted U.N. agency assessment efforts to help displaced persons. As a result, the UN issued a "Flash Appeal" for immediate assistance in February. The appeal requested 25.1 million dollars for shelter, water, sanitation, food, health, community services, distressed children and support.39 Expected donors included the U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Migration Organization (IOM). Although all the requested aid was not given, these organizations eventually aided some 220,000 people (200,000 from Chechnya, and the rest from North Ossetia plus some from Georgia). Further, The International Red Cross distributed some 250,000 food packages monthly, established a soup kitchen in Grozny, reopened a hospital in Grozny and opened a "contact service" where people could apply to reestablish contact with lost relatives and friends.40


The Russian Army was poorly prepared for combat in Grozny. It muddled through and even improved somewhat over time. However, the lessons learned from its combat are not limited to the Russian Army, but apply to any modern, mechanized force fighting a determined enemy in a city. The logistics lessons also apply. Urban combat will demand increased amounts of ammunition and special equipment, yet a major problem will be getting the supplies forward to where they are needed. There is a need for a rugged, armored supply/medical evacuation vehicle and a better way of rearming and refueling combat vehicles in the forward area.

There are no empty cities and the ground commander should conduct contingency planning in case he must care for the needs of the civilian population and restore critical services. The military commander may become the defacto city manager and should be prepared to keep the civilian populace alive and healthy, should this be required. To limit the time spent in this area, the commander should learn to work effectively with other government and non-government agencies. This means that a higher percentage of combat service support personnel may be needed before combat begins. Rail and air transport are critical to the logistics effort. Port and rail rehabilitation units may need to be among the first units into an urban theater.

Currently, logistics units in many armies are insufficiently staffed and equipped for urban combat. Urban combat greatly stresses ammunition, water, food and POL resupply. Maintenance demands greatly increase during urban combat. Vehicle evacuation/obstacle clearance will be an essential engineer/maintenance task. Factory representatives will need to accompany the force, additional maintenance units are needed and additional spare parts will need to be on hand prior to the initiation of combat. An aggressive screening program is required to keep "hanger queens" out of the theater.

Medical support will also require reinforcement and preventative medicine will play a major role in preserving the force as water-borne diseases are very dangerous to the well-being of the force. Mortar wounds, burns and psychiatric trauma increase dramatically in urban combat.

None of these are exclusively Russian problems and observations. Actually, the Russian logistics services performed reasonably well considering the monumental handicaps they had to overcome. The extensive logistics system designed in the Soviet era was no longer in place and the Russian Army did not have a viable replacement. Logisticians had just over a two-week build-up phase with no logistics rehearsals. [The Soviet Army conducted six major exercises to prepare for the invasion of Prague in 1968. Logistics rehearsals were an essential element of these exercises.41] The political masters gave the commanders no time to develop the theater, although there was no military reason to hurry. The logistics units were often composite units cobbled together on site. There were few habitual relationships among the participating staffs. Equipment was often broken on arrival. The logisticians were supporting a battle for which the planning norms were outdated. They were faced with the challenge of caring for a large civilian populace while other Government and non-Government agencies, which could help deal with this problem, were slow to arrive. Yet, Russian logisticians adapted to their shortcomings and provided adequate support under very trying circumstances. Other armies would be wise to study the difficulties they encountered and adjust accordingly.

Friday, 16 July 2004

Realistic training environment part of 53rd Inf. Brigade's CPX

Florida Guardsman Online - Realistic training environment part of 53rd Inf. Brigade's CPX
Realistic training for a unit preparing to leave for actual operations.
It ‘adds a little emphasis’ to this year's annual training, says commander

By Jon Myatt

Department of Military Affairs

CAMP BLANDING JTC (May 20) -- Outwardly, Camp Blanding looks like most U. S. Army installations in the United States. But after the 10-minute drive from the main cantonment area downrange to the 53rd Infantry Brigade's tactical operations center, you would have trouble identifying the location of this "battlefield."

It is a serene setting and, except for the sound of power generators humming in the background, would be hard to notice if passing by. Tucked into a small grove of trees off a dirt road, away from the hustle and bustle of the main post, is the brigade's tactical operations center, or "TOC." Camouflaged and secured behind a network of trenches and bull-dozed embankments, encircled by concertina wire and guarded by soldiers, the "TOC" is the hub of activity around which the whole military operation functions. It is almost identical to similar headquarters in Afghanistan and Iraq, or for that matter, anywhere the US Army operates in the world.

It is obvious to the observer that something is happening here. Soldiers travelling to and away from the complex have a sense of purpose. There is seriousness and a sense of urgency in their actions. To the uninitiated, it would be difficult to tell that this was only a training exercise.

But today, it is an exercise.

Realism, combined with a healthy dose of combat experience and the impending deployment of the brigade combat team to Afghanistan next year, is adding "a little more emphasis" and urgency to this year's annual training, according to Col. John Perryman, the brigade's commander.

Perryman, a second generation Florida Guardsman, exudes confidence in his soldiers and the upcoming mission to southwest Asia. While he attributes some of his feelings to the transformation of the Army Guard he has seen in his 27 years career as a soldier and leader, the primary reason he says his soldiers are ready is caused by current events.

"The training guidance we received from the Adjutant General and other (senior commands) has validated the things we've been doing in the past year and it adds realism to the exercise, of course," he says. But what "really adds realism and a little more emphasis to the soldier is because, by the calendar, what we're doing out here with blanks and lasers, in 15 months, we'll be going down range and doing with real bullets."

The danger of improvised explosive devices, vulnerability during convoys, and other threats to his soldiers in an operation of this magnitude is not lost on them, he says.

"Protecting the force is always at the top of the list of priorities, we can't accomplish any mission without protecting the personnel and resources to do it with, so our ability to sustain our combat operations is critical," Perryman said. "It’s priority one, and everything we do emanates from there."

And the brigade is fortunate in that regard, he says, having so many combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Roughly 1,500 of them, members of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 124th Infantry, are members of his brigade, though he has brought only about 100 of them to the field for this training exercise. They are an example of the professionalism of the force, he explained, since they are all volunteers who wanted to bring their personal experience to the exercise and to help those leaders and soldiers for whom next year's operation in Afghanistan will be their first overseas deployment.

This week the brigade had a two-fold purpose, he said. "For the staffs, we’ve focused the CPX (command post exercise) on the synchronization of all the battlefield information systems -- the flow of information and analysis of information. For the units in the field, their focus has been on force protection measures -- convoy operations, local security, and force protection -- those tasks that they'll have to be proficient in when they deploy to Afghanistan next year."

With extensive news media coverage of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past two years, many of the brigade's soldiers expected to be called up to participate, he said.

"For some time we've sort of anticipated that we might get a mission to Afghanistan," Perryman said. "All of our training focus and much of the work our staff is doing is geared toward those tasks and our priorities that are based on the lessons learned from theater operations and the experience of our three battalions that just returned.

"I've got no doubt at all that the soldiers of this brigade can accomplish the mission," he said. "They're trained, they're motivated – it’s really been encouraging to me as I've gone around and talked to the troops -- they are overwhelmingly looking forward to getting engaged with it.

"While there's obviously some apprehension, as one would expect, I think the soldiers are pretty charged up about it," he said.

From the looks of things in this operations center on Camp Blanding, Col. Perryman is right on the mark. It is a Saturday night and his brigade is training.

As the springtime sun slowly sinks into the horizon, 1,500 soldiers are training for their mission in the Global War on Terror. For the rest of us…we can hug our children, we can plan for the future, we can sleep well tonight.