Friday, March 12, 2010

Fields of Fire

The ability of smaller units to slug it out with access to recon and precision strike assets is fairly amazing to me. And with organic UAVs reaching down lower and lower, this ability to spread units out continues the long trend of moving away from a line of troops standing and firing shoulder-to-shoulder.

Organic precision firepower will drop to battalion level with precision 120mm mortar shells that will reach units in Afghanistan this year:

The program -- called Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative (APMI) -- emerged as a result of an urgent request from commanders in Afghanistan who seek the ability to pinpoint targets using precision or GPS -guided mortar rounds.

APMI improves upon the 136-meter Circular Error Probable (CEP) of conventional mortars by reducing it to about 10-meters, said Bruce Kay, Department of the Army Systems Coordinator, Mortar Systems.

"This is a 120mm mortar round that provides precision capability to ground forces. A current conventional mortar round has an accuracy of about a 136-meter CEP. With APMI, we have been able to demonstrate a less than 10-meter CEP," Kay said. "This provides a far improved capability to the ground forces commander. "

Get precision into 81mm mortars and a company becomes potent.

Drop it down to 60mm mortars and platoons expand their horizons.

Those little UAVs at these levels become far more lethal teamed with organic precision firepower even if the HE content is small.

And the reduction in the supply burden will be significant, although as the article says, we'll still need area and suppressive fire using dumb bombs. If we can see something, precision lets us kill it; but if we can't see the target, covering a broad area just in case would waste the expensive precision mortar bombs.

Smaller and smaller units will not know the demoralizing effect of just having to sit and take punishment because an enemy's weapons outrange their own, relying on higher echelons to intervene and save their bacon.