Friday, October 21, 2016

Preparing for Mobile High Intensity Combat

Fighting enemies rather than fighting disorder has reappeared on the horizon as Russian aggression in Europe yanks us back from counter-insurgency focus since 2003. So we need the tanks again.

I wrote that while upgrading our Stryker vehicles to 30mm cannons is nice, it is not enough to make our Stryker brigades capable of standing up to heavy armor. It would be necessary to attach Abrams tank units to the brigades to make them more than speed bumps, I thought.

The Army tested out adding tanks to Stryker units, and not too surprisingly, tanks made a difference:

This article explores the experiences of 3-2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division during National Training Center (NTC) Decisive Action Rotation 15-08.5 at Fort Irwin, Calif. Here, 3-2 SBCT had the unique opportunity of task-organizing tank platoons to a Stryker rifle company within the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. The creation of Stryker-tank company teams provided the brigade commander with a more lethal strike force and created unique opportunities to experiment with maneuver tempo across restrictive terrain and during a combined arms breach. The addition of armor assets significantly increased the company’s sustainment requirements, specifically for Class III and IX, and also presented challenges for breaching operations.

Not surprisingly, the addition of heavy Abrams tanks greatly increased logistics needs of the unit.

Disturbingly, the mission command systems of the Abrams and Stryker units could not communicate with each other. It's bad enough when Army units can't operate with Marines or allies (highlighting an underappreciated role of NATO in pushing common system capabilities and procedures), but when our own Army units can't work seamlessly with different Army units, that's seriously messed up.

It was good to read this. When the threat of conventional war rears its ugly head, killing off the end of history, it's good to have heavy armor around.