Author Topic: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?  (Read 125105 times)

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Offline hat

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #75 on: March 05, 2007, 23:03:29 »
Some thoughts,

As background, for the last three years I have been in a (mech) infantry battalion.  I deployed on Op ARCHER Roto 1.  During Roto 1 we conducted 2 months of airmobile (QRF) ops using Chinooks, Blackhawks, Apaches and fast air as support.  We conducted approx 1 month of tasks as IRF (ground-based QRF).  We had opportunity to work with American, British and Afghan forces.

Our ops were widely dispersed.  For 4 out of 6 months I rarely saw my Coy HQ (at its furthest, I was 230 km from it).  Ops typically lasted from 1 day to 2 week's duration.

While conducting airmobile operations we sometimes had difficulty getting inserted.  We always had difficulty getting re-suplied or extracted.  Why?  Because there are only so many resources and you compete with everything else that's going on.  On airmobile ops we could only carry limited water, ammunition etc...  The enemy possessed vehicles.  They were lighter and were capable of moving rapidly, even in rugged terrain.  Essentially, unless the terrain favored dismounted ops, we were the equivalent of "fixed" as soon as we inserted.  I watched other nations that had their own helicopter assets struggle with the same issues.  Light forces were either pent up in FOBs or suffered regular, serious casualties trying to patrol and dominate their battle space.  The largest op we participated in (MAR CHICHEL) was to extricate a light force out of a precarious situation.

While conducting mechanized operations, we relied on our own vehicles to move to objectives.  Sometimes, we dismounted to complete our ingress or actions on the objective.  Sometimes we conducted dismounted patrolling.  It was up to the leadership to decide based on the task.  When we moved in dismounted, zulu vehicles were available to reinforce or conduct other tasks.  Reserves of ammunition and water were always at hand.  We were not tied to FOBs.  We operated primarily out of leaguers and were as mobile as tasks required.  Frequently we would move over 100 Km just to get to the area of operations.  When we did operate out of FOBs, the majority of our attention was focused on conducting ops outside the FOB instead of securing the immediate area.  Many of our operations involved engaging the population through shuras or simply stopping to talk to locals.  If we were in LAVs, we would simply stop, dismount, approach the locals with respect and talk to them.

I don't think that light and mech forces, of necessity, think differently.  To me it all comes down to leadership having the mindset that they will get to the objective by any means necessary and conduct their tasks.




Offline KevinB

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #76 on: March 05, 2007, 23:51:05 »
hat - perhaps your proving my point in the different method of thinking -- but for a COIN operation --
Quote
To me it all comes down to leadership having the mindset that they will get to the objective by any means necessary and conduct their tasks.

I consider the task to be the securing of the local area.

 I beleive you are looking at this thru the glasses of manuver warfare.

The British Para's where poorly equipped for the role they where given in that area - and that to me shows a complete disconnect of the leadership (UK in this instance) with the charateristics of their troops.

Several units have sucessfully run light operations in the area - so it is possible.
  the trick is to ensure they know how to operate and have a chain of command that can support that type of activity.


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Offline MCG

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #77 on: March 05, 2007, 23:57:04 »
Several units have sucessfully run light operations in the area - so it is possible.
Which units and what type of operations?

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #78 on: March 06, 2007, 00:09:50 »
Before delving too much more into the predicaments of the Paras I recall that when they were initially inserted the game plan changed virtually on the day the deployed - whoever's fault that was.

AFAIK  they were intended to be a heliborne reaction force in a brigade that was supposed to be a battalion stronger.  The extra battalion didn't show and the AFGHAN GOVERNMENT set the strategic requirement that the district centres be reoccupied/occupied with a government presence.  The Paras got the job.  They did what they were told with what they had.  They established a presence.

I wonder if they would have tackled the job the same way if circumstances were different.
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Offline MCG

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #79 on: March 06, 2007, 00:11:37 »
Before delving too much more into the predicaments of the Paras I recall that when they were initially inserted the game plan changed virtually on the day the deployed - whoever's fault that was.
I was there well before they deployed & we always understood that they were going to Hellmund.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #80 on: March 06, 2007, 00:20:44 »
I understand that MCG but my understanding from reading the public press at the time was that they were to be a reaction force in Helmand.....of course you can't always believe what you read.

They also weren't supposed to engage with the Taliban according to the Brit Minister of Defense.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #81 on: March 06, 2007, 02:27:03 »
This is what I was thinking about....

Quote
...The town of Musa Qala was, of course, the scene of a controversial deal, approved by Lieutenant-General David Richards, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, and agreed on 17 October 2006.

When British troops had first been sent to Afghanistan it was hoped they would help kick-start the country's reconstruction. But under pressure from President Hamid Karzai they were detached to defend Afghan government "district centres" at Musa Qala, Sangin, Nowzad and Kajaki.

This was the so-called "Platoon House" concept, with critics complaining that planting small numbers of troops in the centres was an open invitation to the Taleban. The move - opposed by General Richards - turned the bases into what he called "magnets" for the Taliban.

By late summer there was real fear that one of the platoon house fortresses would be overrun altogether and their garrisons massacred. At Musa Qala and Sangin, mortars and heavy machine guns were fired at point-blank range. In Now Zad, a Gurkha platoon fought a long night battle, throwing grenades at an enemy only ten feet away. And, as these intense and bloody battles developed, 16 British troops were killed in action.

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2007/02/little-bit-of-realism-is-needed.html

For myself.... I still think there is a role for a security force.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 02:31:39 by Kirkhill »
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Offline KevinB

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #82 on: March 06, 2007, 10:54:08 »
Kirkhill -- there is so much spin on that article its hard to pic facts from it.

 It sounds more like a Liberal Afghan add -- "Uhm why yes we are sending combat troops -- but they are for reconstuction".
Big K has zero operational control of OEF/ISAF troops.   The bottom line is IF the Afghan gov't asked for that deployment, the UK gov't did not think it out properly.
  The used a Northern Ireland type of mentality to lay out the platoon houses - a mindset that I have noticed run throughout the ranks of the British Army.


 
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #83 on: March 06, 2007, 11:11:28 »
Sorry Infidel-6 - It was the best I could come up with at the time.  I couldn't track back the links to the British papers of last summer to find the specific articles I was vaguely remembering.  This reference by someone that apparently vaguely remembered the same thing is the only corroboration of my position I could come up with.  Mea Culpa. :-[

Edit: with respect to the platoon houses, perhaps they might have had more success if they hadn't garrisoned so many houses so far from their main base with so little support, both logistics and reaction.   Trying too much too fast?
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 11:15:19 by Kirkhill »
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Offline Bubbles

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #84 on: March 07, 2007, 00:46:52 »
Okay so there seems to be alot of resistance to Light Infantry in the Army Order of Battle...so the question is where do we go from here?

On the topic of infantry structure I still think the obvious solution to the managed-readiness system is to stand up three more infantry battalions; this is a fairly common proposal that I have also seen in Army Journal and other sources.

Back to mech vs. light, one option could be to re-equip our infantry battalions with the M113s. We now have around 250 M113A3s left after upgrading and I have read comments of Gen Leslie placing a renowned emphasis on the M113s...
"I know that some of us here want Canada to be limited to peacekeeping, but peace must be established first."
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Offline Tow Tripod

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #85 on: March 07, 2007, 01:36:53 »
Bubbles,
You are saying that you want to drive around in a M-113 for the next few years? I could give two **its.A M113 no matter how many up grades it has is still a piece out dated GARBAGE. I suggest you volunteer to be General Leslie's driver on Operations in a M113 (yeah right). The decision has been made that CSOR will be the Light/Dismounted infantry in the Canadian Army. Even distribution of Lav III to the third Battalions is just a matter of time.This issue of Mech vs Light is DEAD however people on this site feel other wise. If you want to deploy to Afghanistan I suggest you get behind the LAV III's `driver wheel or behind the cannon or someplace within the section.
I realize that the M113 has been up graded however it is still far from being the best tool in the tool box. Being in Croatia and Tow platoon I wouldn't wish a M113 on anybody in the army,especially brand new soldiers that undoubtedly would be pissed off when they  are driving around in a M-113 and maybe some of their pers or in the Lav III

TOW TRIPOD
TOW TRIPOD

Offline ArmyRick

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #86 on: March 07, 2007, 07:52:07 »
I have little expirience with the LAVIII but I know M113 like a brother. I can say I have literally lived out of an M113 and grizzly for weeks at a time.

NO THANKS

M113, Thank you for your service to the CF (44 years, I gues the M113 gets a third clasp on its CD).Its time to move on and retire them ol war birds.

I agree with TOW TRipod.
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Offline Technoviking

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #87 on: March 07, 2007, 07:54:07 »
Light infantry does NOT equate to dismounted Infantry.  Thought I'd sort that part out.  As for resistance, I'm all for having light infantry.  Even though it's not my lane and I am no SME on it, I fully understand the value of having light infantry, and the danger of not..
So, there I was....

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #88 on: March 07, 2007, 13:57:27 »
Which units and what type of operations?

The RAF Regiment does presence patrols, CIMIC, disruptive patrols and hunts IED's and rocket launching sites and teams around KAF. They are in unarmoured Landrover 110's (the armoured ones get stuck), and seem to be doing a fine job so far.

The local situation allows them to do these tasks; there is little expectation they will have to assault dug in enemy, and there are heavier forces to act as a reaction force at short notice should things go south (not to mention airpower right at their backs.....).

Traditional light forces (Paratroops, Rangers, Light infantry, etc.) are useful in a very limited set of circumstances, and it is interesting to note that the Soviet Union recognized this in the early 1930's, with Marshal Tukhachevskii being a leading advocate not only of Airborne forces but also mechanized forces and (within the limits of Soviet technology) a marriage of the two trends. Although there was no real result at that time (light tanks with wooden biplane wings towed behind bombers were pretty startling to look at, but the landing was even better!), we should recognize the Cold War  era "Vozdushno-Desantnye Voyska"  with their plethora of mini AFV's as an attempt to meld the strategic mobility of "light" with the firepower and tactical mobility of "mech".

For our own purposes "Motor Infantry" will be a good compromise, so long as we remember to back them up with available heavy forces and firepower close enough at hand to extract them from sticky situations. A well designed vehicle along the lines of the RG-31 or Australian Bushmaster is one way to do this without breaking the bank, but there are lots of other options as well.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline MCG

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #89 on: March 07, 2007, 22:19:22 »
The RAF Regiment does presence patrols, CIMIC, disruptive patrols and hunts IED's and rocket launching sites and teams around KAF.
Yes, but this is still a motorised force (not the true light force being espoused by some on this thread) with a relatively small AO when compared to the BGs responsible for each of the provinces.

Light forces (those not tied to vehicles) do have a role.  However, they are not fit to be the permanent ground owners of a BG AO in Afghanistan. 

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #90 on: March 08, 2007, 11:59:57 »
Hands up all those that support eliminating all future reference to Heavy, Light, Mech, Armoured and other historical designators.

Given that there seems to be no universally agreed definition of what constitutes any of the above - even senior command levels can't seem to decide where the lines exist amongst JTF-Black, JTF-Green, CSOR-SF, CSOR-DA, Commando, Airborne, Heliborne, Light Infantry, Infantry, Motorised Infantry, Mech Infantry, Light Armoured Infantry, Armoured Infantry, Armour, Dragoons, Armoured Recce, Light Armoured Recce, Light (Unarmoured) Recce ..... does any of it make sense when we are not talking about millions of soldiers being trained in short periods to fulfill a specific niche in the battle order?

It has fascinated me that we are "training" entire battalions of Afghans (and Iraqi's and Sierra Leoneans) to take the fight to the enemy within months of the first regimental number putting on a uniform and yet we talk about only being able to "train" an additional 1000 personnel a year if lucky (1000/60,000 =1.6% growth rate).

It seems apparent that we are not talking about apples and apples here but that a Canadian Soldier is not being trained to the same standard as an Afghan Soldier and that the Afghan Soldier is doing many of the tasks recognizable to a WW2 squaddie trained in a similar period of time.

From that I deduce that the tasks of the soldier have NOT changed over time - just that Canada and ABCA and the rest of the West has opted out of many of those tasks and is limiting itself to a specific set of tasks.

The debate now ranges over how to handle the overlap into tasks that need to be done but for which the specialists are not ideally suited,  who gets to do the tasks they want to do, who gets stuck with the tasks they don't want, who gets the budget for the kit they need/want and whose cap-badge will survive.

Infanteer and MCG (in a previous incarnation) and all those that argued in the past for a single, unified, Combat Arms designation now have my vote.

Keep in mind that the extreme specialization of forces, although it has a long history, really grew out of the trenches of WW1 (mass conscripts and sections of Bayonets, Grenadiers, Rifle Grenadiers and MGs - not to mention Battalion MGs and Mortars) reached its full flower in WW2 with various Private Armies like Popski's, and carried through to the Cold War.

Up until WW1 infantry battalions weren't internally differentiated nor was there much external differentiation.  They were all formed bodies of disciplined soldiers broken into 8-10 companies.  They would be trained to dismount from boats, ride camels or horses as the case required.  Cavalry troopers were trained to fight dismounted with the same weapons the infanteer used.  The whole army morphed to suit strategic, operational and tactical needs.  The same Army fought Metis, Ashanti, Zulus, Pashtuns, Boers and Germans and the Mehdi's Armies at Khartoum and Omdurman.  A long service Sergeant at Mons in 1914 could be expected to have operated against all those foes using all available transport performing everything from crowd control and ceremonial duties to patrolling and high intensity, industrial warfare.

Bring back the generalist.
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Offline MCG

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #91 on: March 08, 2007, 13:32:48 »
Well, for those that like the idea of APC Regiments like Canada had in WW II, it seems the UK is about to do it again.  I just read in Jane's that the King's Royal Hussars have been re-roled as a Warrior APC unit in order to allow non-mech infantry to be used in that role for Iraq.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #92 on: March 08, 2007, 13:42:40 »
I would go for a "bell curve" solution: some light infantry like CSOR or a Ranger Regiment to deal with very close and complex terrain, the bulk of the force being "Motor Infantry" which use some sort of vehicle for tactical and operational mobility and a Heavy Infantry (Dragoons, Panzergrenadiers, Assault Infantry, pick a designation) who are trained and equipped to do the deliberate assault into prepared defensive positions. All backed by the appropriate support and service support arms of course.

The lighter forces are able to deal with the vast majority of situations, including exploitation of breakthroughs by the heavy force (not to mention shaping the battle prior to the introduction of the heavy force), and are affordable to boot.

Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #93 on: March 08, 2007, 16:31:49 »
Well, for those that like the idea of APC Regiments like Canada had in WW II, it seems the UK is about to do it again.  I just read in Jane's that the King's Royal Hussars have been re-roled as a Warrior APC unit in order to allow non-mech infantry to be used in that role for Iraq.

And the QRH in Maysan, Iraq chucked in their Challengers for Landrovers.  This leaves equipped and operating broadly the way that the Brigade Recce Troop and Landrover Coys of 3 RM Cdo are operating, the WMIK equipped Paras operated and the RAF Regiment operate, not to mention the Australian SAS in their 6x6 Peretie Landrovers in Al Anbar.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #94 on: April 07, 2007, 09:28:48 »
Light forces (those not tied to vehicles) do have a role.  However, they are not fit to be the permanent ground owners of a BG AO in Afghanistan.

That makes the most sense to me.  And we have a nice, new tan-hatted unit standing up to fit that bill.

As for the rest of the Army, I'm still not convinced that this dichotomy is as strong as some insist.  3VP and 1VP get their recruits from the same gene pool.  I don't see how any has a monopoly on some special mindset; getting troops motivated to fight the right types of battles in any terrain seems more a function of leadership than what type of boots you are going to wear.  Granted, there will be specializations that will need to be maintained (ie: MOI, Crew Commander), but are these necessarily a function of battalion organization?  Can this not be somehow cadred within battalion organization and/or career cycles within the mech/light companies?

I still maintain that the USMC manages to maintain a good all around generalist infantryman that is able to successfully plug into a variety of roles along the spectrum of conflict.  Anything requiring more in terms of skillsets is perhaps better off being cached into a specialized unit (ie: CSOR) especially when budgets, PY's and resources for the conventional army units is considered.

As well, there is a side discussion on Counterinsurgency Operations on this page that to me seems to be a bit of a red herring.  A light infantry platoon commander can just as easily light up a school and lose a war as any other branch/unit type.  Conversely, we have a good example of the British Army Armoured Unit led by its "modern Lawrence of Arabia" on the Iraqi-Iranian border taking one of the most innovative approaches to his tactical situation as I've seen to date.  This seems to be something of a higher level than simple unit organization and, again, more a function of leadership; irregardless of whether you are a mountain-ops god or a commander of a 70-ton MBT (think 3AD in Iraq), if you are going into a COIN fight, you are going to need to be steered towards a certain approach through training and preparation by your leadership - is this necessarily a function of capbadge or specialization?  Again, like the light/mech debate above, this level can only be taken so high in conventional units that draw from a common gene pool and operate within their own boundaries - higher specializations (language, culture, etc) are probably best cached into units that can afford to go down that narrow road (ie: US SF).

Of course, I may be out to lunch, but that's what makes sense to me right now....

Infanteer
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #95 on: April 07, 2007, 14:12:29 »
To Armour or Not to Armour......

Came across this photo of the Iraqi Army in Ramadi.  Turreted Humvee, therefore presumably up-armoured, the tires seem to be the type used on the heavier vehicles but that could be my imagination.

No Doors.

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Offline RecceDG

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #96 on: April 09, 2007, 16:38:50 »
Quote
Up until WW1 infantry battalions weren't internally differentiated nor was there much external differentiation.  They were all formed bodies of disciplined soldiers broken into 8-10 companies.  They would be trained to dismount from boats, ride camels or horses as the case required.  Cavalry troopers were trained to fight dismounted with the same weapons the infanteer used.  The whole army morphed to suit strategic, operational and tactical needs.  The same Army fought Metis, Ashanti, Zulus, Pashtuns, Boers and Germans and the Mehdi's Armies at Khartoum and Omdurman.  A long service Sergeant at Mons in 1914 could be expected to have operated against all those foes using all available transport performing everything from crowd control and ceremonial duties to patrolling and high intensity, industrial warfare.

Bring back the generalist.

Nice in theory, but more difficult in practice.

That worked in the post Brown Bess, pre-Maxim days when you didn't need formed and drilled mass formations like you did with muskets (which required specialized training for the Infantry) The brass cartridge rifle made everybody into a skirmisher. The only weapon systems you had were rifle, bayonet, grenade, sword, and pistol - so everybody not Artillery could get the same basic training. Tactics could adjust to fit the local situation, but weapon systems were static.

That ended in WW1 with the invention of first the machine gun, then later the tank. You get weapon systems that are overly complex and specialized to teach to everybody, and that trend has only accelerated since.

Now we have C7, C8, Pistol, Grenade, M72, M206, C9, C6, M2, Carl Gustav, 60mm mortar, Eryx, TOW, 25mm chain gun, 105mm and 120mm tank main guns, shotguns, 2 or 3 sniper rifles... that's just off the top of my head. There's just too many weapon systems to make everybody proficient at everything.

And the turret stuff has a whole slew of supporting equipment and FCS to cover. It's not much of a stretch between C9 and C6, but there is a big difference between firing the C6 off the bipod and firing C6 as the coax weapon out of a Leo or LAV.

There's also a big difference between the employment of weapon systems off vehicles vice employing weapons with your boots on the ground. The division of the combat arms into Infantry (thems that fight on their feet) vice Armoured (thems that fight from a vehicle) makes a lot of sense from a training and employment perspective.

Where I think the "mistake" was made (if you want to call it that) is when we started putting Infantry Sgts and MCpls into vehicle crew commander positions (especially turreted vehicles) and started requiring them to pick up the "Armour" skillset of fighting a vehicle *in addition* to their boots-on-the-ground section commander role. That's too much to absorb, and you compromise one skill in favour of the other.

I don't know why that happened; my history isn't that good. Maybe the Armoured Corps may have turned up their noses at a job that wasn't tanks - if so, shame on us! But it doesn't really matter anyway. Better we learn from the here and now and put in a here and now solution:

Give the Armoured Corps the LAVs (and all future APCs) Driver, Crew Commander, and Gunner (if there is one) are all blackhatters. Let the Infantry concentrate on the Infantry tasks instead of being spread so thin over such a wide skillset.

DG
D. Grant

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Offline George Wallace

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #97 on: April 09, 2007, 20:30:49 »
As an Armour Guy, both Recce (Jeep, Lynx and Coyote) and Tanker, I find the above post to be a lot of hogwash.  It is far from accurate and full of false premises.  Infantry have had turrets on vehicles before and have once again.  They had turrets on their Grizzlies (sure you can naysay, but they were still turrets) as well as turrets on their Coyotes (while their Recce Platoons had them).  As for being proficient on a number of weapons, that is quite possible and achievable.  The statements about firing a C-6 from a turret and then from a Ground Mount or Flex are also flawed.  Yes techniques may differ, but the principles of Gunnery do not change. 

As for putting Armour Crews in the vehicles, has been discussed in other topics, but shouldn't be taken as a valid point.  Both Armour and Infantry use differing tactics, so putting Armour in Infantry vehicles serves no benifit to either Branch.  Any suggestion to have Armour crew all LAVs is only the thoughts of the desperate. 

Anyway, I am sure that many others are going to cut the above post to even smaller pieces.
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Online GAP

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #98 on: April 09, 2007, 20:51:20 »
This may be all moot.....aren't the armour guys getting some new toys?
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Offline Technoviking

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Re: Mech infantry or all light infantry with some Armd APC units?
« Reply #99 on: April 10, 2007, 15:58:49 »
Firing Coax is different from light role, yes, but so is SF role from light role.

But, as GAP points out, this may all be moot soon.

Who knows?
So, there I was....