Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Precision Reaches Down the Chain of Command

Precision firepower continues to get cheaper. Once expensive and only deliverable by specialized aircraft, precision firepower is reaching individual troops. This will speed battle tempo tremendously.

We could easily have precision firepower to take out enemies behind cover at the squad level:

In difficult development for over a decade, the XM25 will finally enter limited production in 2017. It will be the first radically new small arms technology since 1943 [NOTE: the German assault rifle]. ...

Now the XM25 comes to destroy the value of cover. Built-in targeting lasers, infrared sights and a ballistic computer calculate the exact location of the target so the weapon can fire a projectile precisely past it. The 25mm round — essentially a precision-guided mini-grenade — waits to detonate until it has passed whatever cover the target had and can strafe its unprotected side. It will blow up above a trench or foxhole, on the far side of a wall or barricade.

I remember seeing this a couple decades ago at an Army convention when it was paired with a rifle. Now it is a stand-alone weapon. Like a grenade launcher, I assume this is intended as a squad weapon.

We already have plenty of precision air power and tube and rocket precision at brigade and higher levels.

Add in drone/grenades or mortar rounds (as a mini-air force for both strike and surveillance capabilities, and communications), precision 60mm mortar rounds at the platoon level, guided 81mm mortar rounds at the company level, and precision 120mm mortars at the battalion level, and we speed up the tempo of conventional operations tremendously by reducing the need to call up the chain of command for needed support, when coupled with Blue Force Tracker technology that lets our commanders see where their troops are.

With an anti-tank round, the XM25 also puts a portable weapon with relatively cheap rounds capable of destroying light armored vehicles in a squad to supplement more expensive anti-tank missiles or unguided rockets.

Oh, and that article notes that precision direct fire can be in the hands of all individual soldiers:

“If you want to build a smart firearm, it’s available on the market,” retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College, notes. “There’s an outfit in Austin, Texas called TrackingPoint,” he said, which makes a lightweight gunsight that calculates the trajectory to the target and fires when the gun is in the precisely right position to hit, compensating for any unsteadiness in the hand of the shooter. “You pull the trigger, and you just hold it on the target until the dot turns green and the gun fires by itself.”

In one sense that is kind of scary. We count on training to make our troops superior and not just our technology edge. If even ill-trained troops can shoot that well with similar technology, that edge drains away in one key area.

On the bright side, we will be able to focus training on other aspects of being a soldier to maintain our broader training edge. But we will have to change our training to take this into account.

And if we network all this stuff, precision firepower at lower levels and persistent surveillance will keep our ground forces very lethal with the ability to shoot first and kill enemies quickly--and even defend our troops.

Although what we do when we run low the precision rounds is another question. Then battle tempo will slow down despite the technology.