Thursday, December 08, 2016

To Close With and Destroy an Enemy

The Army is converting an infantry brigade to an armored brigade in light of revived conventional war threats:

In response to the increasing demand for armored forces by combatant commanders, the Army will convert the Spartan Brigade, of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), as the newest Armored Brigade Combat Team in the Army's inventory. Upon completion of this conversion in October 2017, the Army will have 15 ABCTs.

It was only a couple years ago that we planned to have just 12 heavy brigades in the active component.

And I thought we were dropping the total further. I guess not.

The heart of the heavy brigade is three combined arms battalions, which were once organized with 2 tank companies and 2 mechanized infantry companies in two battalions as their core maneuver elements. Now our heavy battalions have three companies weighted either to armor or mechanized units.

This article argues for restoring pure tank battalions to the United States Army in order to build armor officers focused on tank warfare. We would still mix companies in practice to create battalion task forces.

The recognition that heavy armor is vital for conventional warfare is a relief given persistent efforts to replace so-called dinosaurs with light strategically mobile platforms.

My view has long been that it does little good to move a strategically mobile vehicle from Kansas to the Suwalki Gap only to have it destroyed because it is not tactically survivable.

There are other ways to heavy up our forces, too.

UPDATE: One leg of rebuilding our heavy forces is a replacement for the M-113 that serves in many roles on the battlefield to provide tracked, protected, mobility. The replacement is here:

In less than a few weeks, the Army will roll-out its new infantry carrier platform called the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, designed to transport troops under armor, conduct reconnaissance missions, evacuate injured soldiers, fire weapons and withstand major enemy ground-war attacks, service officials told Scout Warrior. ...

The General Purpose AMPV transports two crew members and six passengers. It is armed with a 50-cal crew-served weapon and carry one injured Soldier on a litter.

The AMPV is built on the Bradley chassis. Which is interesting because I thought the Bradley was vulnerable to mines because of its flat bottom.

I also shudder when I read that it is fast in order to protect against being hit by anti-tank missiles. I recall the early World War II British tanks that were designed with the notion that speed could protect them from anti-tank guns. They were wrong. And anti-tank missiles will not be dodged by any vehicle.

It is also interesting that the vehicle has not reversed the shrinkage of our mechanized infantry squads that the Bradley started when it replaced M-113s as our standard mechanized infantry transport.

That lack of numbers in a squad is a persistent problem with our mechanized infantry when they have to drop the rear slab and fight dismounted. They just don't have the numbers to make up for the fighting vehicle's firepower.

There will be a mortar version and other versions like command and control, ambulance, and--I hope--an anti-tank version and anti-aircraft version as there were variants of the M-113.

The Army plans to buy 3,000 AMPVs. That's not a lot, really. But remember that it is not a replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle designed to go toe-to-toe with enemy heavy forces. It is a support vehicle.