Saturday, 10 July 2004

Getting the basics right [Part I]

The phrase "3G SAF" has been all over the news lately. Technology seems to be the dominant factor in which the SAF will use to transform itself. Although I certainly agree that there is a place for technology [some of my recommendations make use of technology], my opinion is that we should first get our fundamentals right. I will discuss training in this first article. Due to the fact that I'm a NSman from the army, plus the lack of knowledge about the other 2 services, I'll only discuss about army training here.


Since training is essential to preparing for real operations, I thought it was appropriate to start with training issues.

My main point is that the army needs to employ realistic training to improve its operational capabilities.

Realistic training
As far as I know, our army has a Battle Inoculation Course and also live-firing that involves fire & movement. This is a good base to work with.

The ultimate aim should be to recreate & incorporate the

1. sights (low flying close air support),
2. sounds (sounds of anti-tank guided weapons firing),
3. smells (smell of propellant) &
4. sensations (ground vibrations from firing of artillery)

of actual warfare into the army's training as much as possible

Another suggestion is to increase the scale of such training, from section level upwards to platoon level and so forth, within limits of course. This will ensure that our combined arms divisions can work in sync. [I have issues with the size of our combined arms division concept, but that's another thing]

It doesn't have to be only live firing exercises too. Field simulation systems have improved a lot compared to the MILES system that I used, the links below showing their capabilities

DSTA has a tactical engagement system
which sounds promising.

My recommendation is for the new MILES to encapsulate as many military elements & assets as possible, including logistics platforms like trucks and indirect fire platforms like mortars and howitzers

Fratricide issues should also be addressed through the sensors being able to differentiate between enemy and friendly fire. After-action review capabilities will enable evaluation

My next recommendation is to have normal combat units to play the enemy, as compared to the current scenario of a single aggressor unit playing the opfor. We can exclude the potential problems of ensuring fairness in our best unit competition by retaining the use of a single aggressor unit for evaluation. Other training scenarios can then utilise normal combat units to play the role of the enemy. This opens up many opportunities for experimentation.

Next, training programmes should include more realistic scenarios like urban warfare and peacekeeping. Rules of engagement should be taught to all, not just those that are going on actual operations like peacekeeping missions.

Equipment used during training should, as far as possible, be similar to that used during actual operations. For example, equipment like night vision goggles and bulletproof vests should be worn during training also. This will ensure that troops are not unduly hampered in any way during actual operations because they are not used to such equipment during training.

*get used to potential conditions on the ground, reduce shock
*test procedures under fire
*enhance target identification and IFF
*enhance deterrence
*experimentation (try out different doctrine)
*enhance morale (training not for show only)

*potential safety issues, but can be minimised to a certain degree
*cost, but may not prohibitive compared to a new weapons platform
*time, but worth it

Training does not need to be tough, just realistic.

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