Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mesopotamia Lightning

Putting more resources in the hands of soldiers whenever possible so they don't have to rely on higher echelon resources is speeding up the pace of operations.

Precision weapons generally are speeding up the pace of operations.

We have a real world example from a squad leader in Iraq in combat with enemy shooters. Instead of needing to call in higher level Army or aerial assets, he used what his platoon had with it:

Instead, he pulled down a tiny helmet-mounted display screen and gazed into a satellite image of the battlefield terrain. Tidwell tapped into the computerized ensemble that quickly showed him the exact distance to the grove of palm trees where the enemy was holed up: 819 meters away on an azimuth of 186 degrees.

The mortar section leader then grabbed his 60mm mortar in the hand-held mode, sighted in on the target, and "started dropping HE rounds."

"I got three rounds out of the tube and on their position before they had time to react to it," Tidwell said of the high explosives.

We are fielding technology that is not just gee whiz stuff more dangerous to our soldiers than useful. This technology is making our troops faster and more effective, as the same article describes:

Landing by helicopter at night in unfamiliar terrain, 4/9 soldiers said they were able to move without hesitation because the target house's location had been marked on everyone's Land Warrior system.

"Every time we hit the ground, there was no waiting to get your bearings. We just took off running toward the objective," Tidwell said. "We were hitting houses literally before these guys could wake up and get their guns."

Few things can slow a mission's momentum like last-minute confusion over which house in a darkened compound is the target building, said Capt. Johann Hindert, first platoon leader in B Company.

He said that without Land Warrior, "You might knock [down] three different doors before you get to the right one."

I wrote that precision 60mm mortars would be great for our platoons. Even now we do well with situational awareness and just dumb mortar bombs. When the platoon mortars are smart weapons, the organic firepower will be very effective and speed up our ground units even more.

Battles fought against other conventional foes will be decided much more quickly and decisively, too, and with fewer friendly casualties, using this technology.

Make no mistake, however, war isn't about seeing all about you and smart weapons. This technology in the hands of poor quality troops will be just so much expensive junk littering the battlefield.

This gee whiz stuff relied on 4/9's soldiers and leaders who are well-trained, well-led, experienced, and motivated. The real smart weapon is our soldier, Marine, sailor, or Airman wielding what our industry provides him.