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.