Monday, July 22, 2019

Fight for Information

What is the best way to get battlefield information--force or stealth?

This author thinks that the current infantry brigade recon formation is the worst of both worlds:

A high intensity conflict fought against a near-peer enemy poses serious risks to the IBCT reconnaissance assets. The enemy counter-recon threat is typically a mechanized force. Lacking a serious anti-armor capability, the gun trucks that IBCT recon troops use would be a high-signature infiltration mechanism that isn’t armed or armored to compete with Chinese or Russian mechanized vehicles, as they sport higher caliber guns and thicker armor than a Humvee. American scout platoons are currently straddling a line between the ability to fight for information that mechanized fighting-vehicles possess, and the low signature of the dismounted scout. By utilizing loud, unwieldy vehicles that lack firepower, the mounted recon troop instead is choosing the worst of both worlds.

He has a point about the worst of both worlds. And he wants the infantry brigades to focus on dismounted recon that can operate in cities to choose a better path in one world.

But while it is fine to turn parachute and air mobile brigade recon units into dismounted scouts, any other infantry unit should have their recon element heavied up to fight for information--on offense and defense--against heavier enemy formations. I have zero confidence that "stealth and reduced signature" will more than make up for lack of firepower when faced with enemy scouts with firepower.

Stealth surely has a place for recon on a heavy battlefield, but I suspect that role gets taken by drones and deployed sensors that provide persistent and stealthy observation. And stealth won't help counter-recon missions at all. I've been droning on about giving the Army back its damned armored cavalry for a while. I hereby do it again.

Still, as one commenter noted, we should have separate Long Range Reconnaissance and Surveillance Detachments (LRRS-Ds) that have those dismounted skills. Although I thought they were called Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs). But my terminology is probably decades out of date. And I didn't know that we got rid of them!

Oh, and give the infantry brigades heavy tanks, too, while we're at it, as I argued in Army magazine.