Wednesday, 16 July 2008

RUSI interview with Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces

This is a brief review of the points highlighted by the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, General Gagor, in an interview with RUSI, which opswarfare highlighted in an earlier post. General Gagor mentioned the following points
  • Interoperability
  • C4ISR
  • Deployability
  • Sustainment
  • Military Police
  • Force protection
  • Night operations
  • Special Operations Forces Command
  • UAV
  • helping the consolidation and privatisation of defence companies
  • offset agreements in procurement
opswarfare would like to elaborate on some of the points raised by General Gagor.

Sustainment is an often neglected portion of operations planning, perhaps because warfare is sometimes assumed to be something that will end quickly. Well, peacekeeping operations are one type of operation where sustainment (specifically, the logistics portion) is key.

Force protection is another area worth a little more attention. It's difficult to separate forces into front-line units and rear echelon units nowadays, and rear echelon units (e.g. medical, transport, workshop, HQ, supply, etc) need to brush up on their basic soldering skills.

Night operations can still be tricky for many modern armies to conduct effectively. This needs to be addressed on the ground, e.g. issuing NVGs to every soldier, regular training missions at night, preferably under less than ideal conditions (e.g. during moonless nights).

Some of the targets that Poland is looking at
  • increase the deployability ratio of land forces from approximately 30% at present to over 50% in 2012.
  • Full professionalisation of armed forces
  • NATO Force Goals
  • Prague Capability Commitments (PCC)
And finally, a quote explaining the reasons why Poland gave up National Service
As a result of the continuous process of modernisation, our forces are equipped with modern weapon systems, including an increasing number of electronic devices, which require a high standard of education and training. This is one of the arguments that persuaded us to give up the nine-month national service. The majority of modern militaries have done the same.

Basics of direction-finding

opswarfare has come across a series of "Physics 101-type" articles on electronic warfare (EW) in the Journal of Electronic Defense (JED). This journal is available by logging in via the NLB eResources website, using the EBSCOhost database. opswarfare has just finished reading Issue 11 of the aptly named EW101 series of articles.

This particular issue, and the next one, look at how direction-finding (DF) works. DF is one of the basic "weapons" of EW, as it enables accurate targeting of enemy command and control assets, e.g. HQ units. Most HQ units use a plethora of radios to communicate, and DF detects these radio waves. The location is calculated using lots of physics and mathematics.

With this information, a commander can call for air-strikes or artillery barrages on the target. Because of that, units often site their radio antennas (which emit the radio waves) away from their actual location, and use cables to physically link the radios to the antennas.

Normally, DF requires 2 or more monitoring stations, like the diagram below.

But as the article rightly points out, DF can also be done by 1 station in certain circumstances, like the example below.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

RUSI interviews Polish military chief

The RDS Military Interview
Normally, interviews with the chief of defence force tend to be boring and dry, with scripted answers and mostly ending up looking like badly drafted press releases. (mind you, examples of good press releases are out there) Well, this interview by RUSI is quite different. While opswarfare is still "digesting" its contents, a quick initial comment is the frankness of the responses given by General Gagor. A short excerpt below.

Transformation of the PAF is a big challenge. The full interoperability of the PAF required fundamental changes within three areas of activity, namely in command, procedures and logistics. The structures of the General Staff and the high-level commands were adjusted to match NATO patterns better. The chain of command was modified to be more flexible, and we are still changing the force structure in order to establish a professional military and to abandon compulsory or conscript service. Unfortunately, the main weakness of the command and control system is the lack of the appropriate communication assets due to the significant costs involved in purchasing new equipment and upgrading old equipment and software.

Farnborough Air Show 2008

Farnborough is back! This is one of (if not) the biggest air show in the world. Lots of new products on show, plus plenty of wheeling and dealing. opswarfare will spot some of them as the event progresses. First highlight is the BAE Mantis UAV, which seems to be conceived as a direct competitor to the hugely successful Predator/Reaper UAV.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Did You Know It's Illegal to Make War with Rain?

Ares Homepage
A quite fascinating snippet of Vietnam war history, and it's link to the ENMOD environment convention.

Amid policy disputes, Qaeda grows in Pakistan

New York Times / International Herald Tribune
opswarfare rarely blogs on terrorism (opswarfare's personal view is that terrorism is possibly a distraction from military operations), but the above news is slightly different in focus. If you don't wish to read the long article, here's a brief clip from the article.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush committed the nation to a "war on terrorism" and made the destruction of Bin Laden's network the top priority of his presidency. But it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan's tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world.
Read reader comments (and replies from the reporters) here. Editor selections are here.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Logistics considerations in urban warfare

opswarfare first came across this area (logistics in urban warfare) after finding an article (see blog post here) on the lessons learned by the Russian army during the conflict in Chechnya.

The points raised by the paper (and comments by opswarfare) are as follows

"urban warfare consumes more ammunition"
While this is quite obvious, the paper notes the increased use of smoke ammunition, e.g. smoke grenades, smoke artillery rounds, etc. While most military planners might cater for increased small arms ammunition and hand grenades, smoke is a very useful tool in urban warfare, as it helps to conceal troop movement, especially at areas where there is little or no cover. (e.g. open areas between buildings)

"need for armoured supply/ambulance vehicle"
The old M113 Ultra vehicles (which have mostly been replaced by the Bionix IFV) in the SAF inventory can perhaps be used for the above role.

"better way to re-arm & refuel vehicles"
Training exercises should incorporate a "hot" resupply component to familiarise crew with resupply procedures under combat scenarios.

"civilian population issues"
opswarfare considers that the civilian population should be assisted if it does not impede the tempo of combat operations.

"maintenance of vehicles"
Similar to a point made above on resupply, workshop crew should be trained in servicing vehicles in the field.

"medical help to attend to increased numbers of casualties"
Medical personnel should be well-distributed among combat units, i.e. organic medical support. This is already done in the SAF, but perhaps experiments can be conducted where certain battalion-level assets are farmed out to augment existing medics.

More emphasis should be made on incorporating logistics operations into training exercises, especially in ensuring that ops tempo is kept high.

Presence of armed groups threatens southern Lebanon’s stability – UN

3 reports on the release of a UN report on the situation in Lebanon. The above link is a UN News Centre report. Here is a report from Israel ("UN troops in Lebanon forced to delete images of covert cables") and the other one is from Lebanon ("1701 report notes 'unprecedented' Israeli air violations").

Interesting to see different emphasis been made in the 3 reports. The original UN report is here.