Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Speeding Up Battle Tempo

Precision munitions aren't just about accuracy. They are about speed.

My Jane's email updates highlights another advance in precision:

Lockheed Martin has began marketing the Directional Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR): a semi-active laser-guidance kit that converts unguided 2.75-inch (7 cm) and 70 mm rockets - such as the Hydra-70 and CRV-7 - into guided missiles of similar accuracy to the laser-guided versions of the Hellfire II. The DAGR provides an off-axis capability, increasing the engagement envelope and allowing for moving targets and wind. At short ranges, it can engage targets moving at up to 60 mph (97 km/h) and up to 15° off boresight ...

The precision revolution continues.

In 1991, although precision weapons got the press, the vast majority of the munitions dropped by air and pretty much everything launched by artillery forces were dumb munitions. So we still conducted more than five weeks of softening up the target army with bombardment before the ground war began.

In 2003, our ground invasion preceded the aerial attack and our air power went to work while the Army and Marine Corps advanced to the enemy main line of resistance outside Baghdad.

Now our Army units have precision with guided rockets from MLRS, new guided shells, guided anti-tank missiles, and new guided aerial rockets (and they could be ground mounted on vehicles too, I assume). Add to this arsenal the guided missiles and bombs from UAVs and aircraft.

Coupled with recon assets that now roam the battlefield, precision strike capability will continue this speeding up effect. Our ground forces can look to the day in conventional combat where we kick off attacks and count on our forces to spot enemies during the advance and then destroy them with precision weapons when identified. The speed of reaction may very well allow us to fight in damn near march order in non-urban areas without having to pause to deploy against resistance unless it is a major force well dug in and concealed.

And precision fire support means that line units won't need to fire as much because supporting units to the rear and in the air will take out the targets. And those supporting units won't need to resupply as often, too. So pauses to resupply will dwindle.

Given that night vision gear and land navigation abilities based on GPS allow us to operate 24/7, the limits of human endurance will be the next brake on the speed of combat tempo. We're working on that, too.