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The Defence

markppcli

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Two items I took from this analysis that I think are interesting.

First, the focus on assault tactics or just offensive operations to the detriment of defensive tactics.

Outside of the Ukraine forces specifics, our tendencies are also to focus on offensive tactics.

And yet all our leadership and dp1 training culminates in the defensive ?

Case in point, this month will see a certain Bn conducting a L3 and L5 Live trench assaults, good training to be sure. However, this Bn will be responsible for tactical tasks such as delay, block, retain, possibly as a fly over force. Do our BTS that we are training match up to our probable assigned mission tasks?

Well MR always includes a 5 ish day period in the defensive, so does Crystal Arrow. With the Cert Ex taking over from MR I’m sure TMST will handle the defensive ex portion.
Second interesting item was the positioning of the Coy Comd. That is one of the key decisions of any combat leader, Where do I position myself to best exercise command? Where do I best position myself to exercise control? How do I switch between them and when do I need to switch.
It would seem the UKR commanders lean towards control informed via their ISTAR fusion system DELTA.

Separate point from other various OSINT of interest is that they are heavily using both DELTA down to the Coy and maybe Pl level to inform both red and blue PA, access multiple ISR feeds from anything within range and also feed their own data into it.
The thing about defensive exercises and training is this: the value for the majority of the PTA drops substantially after occupation. Once trenches are sighted, dig in, and range cards are done it’s just more digging and really it’s not very good use of time. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be done, but it doesn’t require the same level of coordination at the soldier level. Where it does require detailed coordination it is largely achieved by TEWTs and CAX.

What is an "offensively-minded Major" as opposed to a "defensively-minded Major?" Is this something that would be found on their MPRR?

Probably in their character sheets, beside their charisma score and resistance to cold magic.
 
The thing about defensive exercises and training is this: the value for the majority of the PTA drops substantially after occupation. Once trenches are sighted, dig in, and range cards are done it’s just more digging and really it’s not very good use of time. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be done, but it doesn’t require the same level of coordination at the soldier level. Where it does require detailed coordination it is largely achieved by TEWTs and CAX.

If you have good leadership, the standard defensive exercise can be a very good experience for everyone. Especially in a live fire scenario.

If you have leadership that doesn't really care, as ever, the results will be less than optimal.
 
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If you have good leadership, the standard defensive exercise can be a very good experience for everyone. Especially in a live fire scenario.

If you have leadership that doesn't really care, as ever, the results will be less than optimal.
A live defensive shoot is fine, but that’s really about telling people to fire on pre registered targets and can be done when ever.
 
Well MR always includes a 5 ish day period in the defensive, so does Crystal Arrow. With the Cert Ex taking over from MR I’m sure TMST will handle the defensive ex portion.

Fair point, however I can tell you that the defensive skills demonstrated during those exercises and other series as well are indicating that our proficiency level is mediocre.
 
Fair point, however I can tell you that the defensive skills demonstrated during those exercises and other series as well are indicating that our proficiency level is mediocre.
What are defensive skills and what metrics are you applying?
 
What are defensive skills and what metrics are you applying?

Range Cards. From individual to sub unit.
Defensive Plans. All of them at sub unit level.
Crew served weapons siting and employment.
Bn level to Pl level OP/LPs and patrol matrixes.
Cam and concealment on the positions and taking into account modern EO, IR and thermal capabilities.
Use and application of principles such as open fire policies, priorities of targets, use of triggers for IDF and local counter moves.

Don’t get me wrong, some specific elements have done a couple specific things very well. However the overall force is mediocre. A 5 day MR defensive once every 3 years for a typical unit with generally a whole new cast in their positions doesn’t make us great.
 
How would you see cam adjusted for modern thermal optics ?

what part of the range cards, we’re they inaccurate at the section level, not adequately detail ect.

What was your issue with the OPs? Not enough, to spread out? Is this a manning issue?

I’m no doubting you, and let’s be realistic here the fact that the defensive portion of MR comes after 3 ish weeks in the field is a major factor in soldier skills. Especially when it’s seen as a canned scenario. I’m just pointing out that saying “they were mediocre, because range cards” is pretty sparse information.
 
Range Cards. Specific issues are poor detail at the individual level yes, but more problematic is lack of knowledge on how to amalgamate them at section, Pl and Coy levels, correct gaps and then push back down.

In terms of thermal, I would say it is perhaps more tied to weapons employment and siting considerations. Siting in defilade to produce enfilading fire and using terrain to mask your gun positions from En sensors and weapons. People don’t realize that 180 degree arcs mean everyone can shoot at you too.

In terms of OPs, LPs and patrols I have yet to actually see this outside of the Bn deploying Recce and Snipers. The sub units generally don’t even think about it. I think this is due to the short duration of the defensive where everyone is considering the defensive as a short pause before resuming the offensive vs a relatively stable existence for weeks or months. I don’t think that’s a deliberate recognition but it’s why I think OPs and specifically patrols are absent.
 
Range Cards. Specific issues are poor detail at the individual level yes, but more problematic is lack of knowledge on how to amalgamate them at section, Pl and Coy levels, correct gaps and then push back down.

The the good thing is that in like 6 months we’ll just do this as ATAK mission package drops. I slot this into using JNCOs as trainers vs training them.
In terms of thermal, I would say it is perhaps more tied to weapons employment and siting considerations. Siting in defilade to produce enfilading fire and using terrain to mask your gun positions from En sensors and weapons. People don’t realize that 180 degree arcs mean everyone can shoot at you too.

In terms of OPs, LPs and patrols I have yet to actually see this outside of the Bn deploying Recce and Snipers. The sub units generally don’t even think about it. I think this is due to the short duration of the defensive where everyone is considering the defensive as a short pause before resuming the offensive vs a relatively stable existence for weeks or months. I don’t think that’s a deliberate recognition but it’s why I think OPs and specifically patrols are absent.
Okay but let’s logic this. The purpose of an OP is to screen your defensive. Same with patrols. If that’s already happening with recce / snipers / and presumably armoured recce is there value in establishing your own OPs or does it make more sense to focus in your main effort of digging in ?


Anyways if we want to keep discussing the defensive and how to train for it we can probably start a thread for that vs doing in “thinking about the infantry attack.”
 
And yet all our leadership and dp1 training culminates in the defensive ?



Well MR always includes a 5 ish day period in the defensive, so does Crystal Arrow. With the Cert Ex taking over from MR I’m sure TMST will handle the defensive ex portion.

The thing about defensive exercises and training is this: the value for the majority of the PTA drops substantially after occupation. Once trenches are sighted, dig in, and range cards are done it’s just more digging and really it’s not very good use of time. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be done, but it doesn’t require the same level of coordination at the soldier level. Where it does require detailed coordination it is largely achieved by TEWTs and CAX.
Digging a trench in Wainwright, Suffield, Gagetown. Petawawa etc is much different then digging a trench in costal BC. Setting up a defensive and understanding how mountainous terrain, effects not only your arcs of fire but also air, artillery and mortar support is something many choose not to do. Then understanding how to attack the same is different.
It is interesting to see defensive ops conducted on a table top, then you throw in a bit of a curve ball and inform them there is a mountain and valley in the middle of the defensive.



Probably in their character sheets, beside their charisma score and resistance to cold magic.
 
Range Cards. Specific issues are poor detail at the individual level yes, but more problematic is lack of knowledge on how to amalgamate them at section, Pl and Coy levels, correct gaps and then push back down.
Theodolite app.
One can take a picture of the ground (in panoramics) that have grids, distances and bearings to key features - and send them digitally via ones comms from a secure tablet.
As well one can send back highlighted areas etc.
What used to take days and still have errors in both terrain (and distances without using a LRF) can now be done accurately passively in seconds.



In terms of thermal, I would say it is perhaps more tied to weapons employment and siting considerations. Siting in defilade to produce enfilading fire and using terrain to mask your gun positions from En sensors and weapons. People don’t realize that 180 degree arcs mean everyone can shoot at you too.
To be realistic, defeating EO/IO isn’t really a realistic option anymore, without a ton of engineering support and access to equipment that isn’t available outside of some SOF entities. At best for a conventional force one can have deep trenches with significant OHP with camouflage and reduced exposure, plus a lot of other positions to rotate personnel in and have a thermal deception plan by using heat sources in unoccupied areas.

In terms of OPs, LPs and patrols I have yet to actually see this outside of the Bn deploying Recce and Snipers. The sub units generally don’t even think about it. I think this is due to the short duration of the defensive where everyone is considering the defensive as a short pause before resuming the offensive vs a relatively stable existence for weeks or months. I don’t think that’s a deliberate recognition but it’s why I think OPs and specifically patrols are absent.
OP’s without covered access via comms trenches are not nearly as viable as they were 20 years ago. Which requires even more engineering support - ideally BN CS Coy assets can cover the OP and Patrolling tasks as well.
 
Battle Drill 7 - Consolidate

Move to positions of cover and observation
Section Leader confirms positions and assigns arcs
Prepare to defeat counter-attacks
Conduct admin
Wait for new orders

That sounds a lot like preparing a defense to me.
Having bitten off another enemy trench the requirement was to hold it.

If the intent were to keep the tempo up then the next advance to contact order may follow immediately but equally it could be a week, a month or next spring.

Part of the drills were also to dig in when you stopped moving and the longer you were stopped the more you could improve your defenses.
 
I’m always of the opinion of one excels at offensive operations that Defensive tasks are easier to accomplish without as much detailed training.
Not to say that it shouldn’t be trained - but it’s generally easier to reverse engineer a defensive operation from extensive training in offensive operations, than it is to conduct offensives from only defensive training.

Not sure I concur with that based on the standard of defensive tasks in the army. To be fair I've been out of the Bn for 4 years now so perhaps things have gotten better, but I have heard the opposite.

Siting a posn to be survivable while integrating ISR, fires, and obstacles is a deliberate task with reduced room for improvisation that you get in offensive operations. The pressure of time is always looming which means a lack of familiarity with the associated TTPs exacerbate the issue.

My sense is that as an organization we don't have a great sense for the diversity of actions that could take place during defensive operations, whether those are mobile or positional in character.

The thing about defensive exercises and training is this: the value for the majority of the PTA drops substantially after occupation. Once trenches are sighted, dig in, and range cards are done it’s just more digging and really it’s not very good use of time. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be done, but it doesn’t require the same level of coordination at the soldier level. Where it does require detailed coordination it is largely achieved by TEWTs and CAX.

This is a good point but I think it's only valid if we accept that defensive exercise is just the siting of a single position then sitting in a hole. This goes back to some of my observations of mine on another thread. https://www.army.ca/forums/threads/russo-ukraine-war-lg.134988/page-347#post-1853807

A prolonged defensive exercise could feature significant patrolling, siting and preparation of alternate and supplementary positions, and then a dynamic main defensive battle that featured probing attacks and the use of those alternate and supplementary posns. Patrolling is some of the best training we can do for our soldiers and junior leaders. Imagine an exercise where phase 1 was citing the defence which really just provided a firm base from which to launch patrols. You'd hit three major trg objectives in a single ex: 1) siting a defence and perhaps fighting the defensive battle, 2) defensive routine, and 3) patrolling.

Okay but let’s logic this. The purpose of an OP is to screen your defensive. Same with patrols. If that’s already happening with recce / snipers / and presumably armoured recce is there value in establishing your own OPs or does it make more sense to focus in your main effort of digging in ?

As an OC I had a similar thought process but I think I've come around to the idea that layered early warning measures are probably the best practice. This could be as little as sentries on or just forward of the posn during preparation if there is a robust security force covering you. Someone needs to be looking out while everyone else is heads down digging. When considering security, one has to at least account for enemy reconnaissance successfully penetrating the covering force seeking to collect on the posn, a larger force successfully infiltrating through the covering force and taking significant offensive actions in which case your local security measures will be your only layer of early warning, and partisans/irregulars conducting reconnaissance or even offensive operations.

Last point. We always envision the preparation of the main defensive areas being done out contact with a covering force in front of us. This of course is optimal, however, there are situations where a defence may need to be established essentially in contact. Meeting engagements, and failed attacks come to mind. I also look at the Ukrainian defence from a few months back and have a hard time conceptualizing that in the same way as we do the defence with a covering force and main defensive area. In such cases you may end up preparing what eventually morphs into a covering force / security force area, but for the Comd who is immediately tasked with establishing the defence while still in contact you'll need to be providing for your own security and it will behoove your subordinates to do the same.
 
Not sure I concur with that based on the standard of defensive tasks in the army. To be fair I've been out of the Bn for 4 years now so perhaps things have gotten better, but I have heard the opposite.

Siting a posn to be survivable while integrating ISR, fires, and obstacles is a deliberate task with reduced room for improvisation that you get in offensive operations. The pressure of time is always looming which means a lack of familiarity with the associated TTPs exacerbate the issue.

My sense is that as an organization we don't have a great sense for the diversity of actions that could take place during defensive operations, whether those are mobile or positional in character.

I agree we don’t do much in terms of mobile defence which is a failure on our part.

This is a good point but I think it's only valid if we accept that defensive exercise is just the siting of a single position then sitting in a hole. This goes back to some of my observations of mine on another thread. https://www.army.ca/forums/threads/russo-ukraine-war-lg.134988/page-347#post-1853807

A prolonged defensive exercise could feature significant patrolling, siting and preparation of alternate and supplementary positions, and then a dynamic main defensive battle that featured probing attacks and the use of those alternate and supplementary posns.

I’ve done this, the siting of Alternate positions,
dummy positions, these are good “thinking” exercises for leaders. But the value of digging yet more holes is mute for your troops. Similar to the main defensive battle, maybe good training for your Pl Comd and up, but very doable in tewts and CAX.
As an OC I had a similar thought process but I think I've come around to the idea that layered early warning measures are probably the best practice. This could be as little as sentries on or just forward of the posn during preparation if there is a robust security force covering you. Someone needs to be looking out while everyone else is heads down digging. When considering security, one has to at least account for enemy reconnaissance successfully penetrating the covering force seeking to collect on the posn, a larger force successfully infiltrating through the covering force and taking significant offensive actions in which case your local security measures will be your only layer of early warning, and partisans/irregulars conducting reconnaissance or even offensive operations.

Last point. We always envision the preparation of the main defensive areas being done out contact with a covering force in front of us. This of course is optimal, however, there are situations where a defence may need to be established essentially in contact. Meeting engagements, and failed attacks come to mind. I also look at the Ukrainian defence from a few months back and have a hard time conceptualizing that in the same way as we do the defence with a covering force and main defensive area. In such cases you may end up preparing what eventually morphs into a covering force / security force area, but for the Comd who is immediately tasked with establishing the defence while still in contact you'll need to be providing for your own security and it will behoove your subordinates to do the same.

I’d argue that in terms of establishing a defence, if we’re practicing digging in, and going to those stage six trenches, to work the logistic chain as well as build individual knowledge, we aren’t doing that in contact. In contact you’re scraping as best a position as you can while you’re on your guys. Hasty defensive position stuff. That’s even true of imminent contact I’d imagine.
 
I’ve done this, the siting of Alternate positions,
dummy positions, these are good “thinking” exercises for leaders. But the value of digging yet more holes is mute for your troops. Similar to the main defensive battle, maybe good training for your Pl Comd and up, but very doable in tewts and CAX.


I’d argue that in terms of establishing a defence, if we’re practicing digging in, and going to those stage six trenches, to work the logistic chain as well as build individual knowledge, we aren’t doing that in contact. In contact you’re scraping as best a position as you can while you’re on your guys. Hasty defensive position stuff. That’s even true of imminent contact I’d imagine.

That's the case if you don't have your soldiers and jr leaders off doing patrols. I'd also consider having them do the siting of the alternate and dummies. Kill off some CoC or have them otherwise indisposed (higher level rehearsals as an example) and start having Sect Comd's site platoons and soldiers siting sections.

Hasty defensives transition to deliberate ones if they're given the time. They'll probably need "re siting" which is another skill in and of itself. And the point was on the importance of local security for early warning. If you're in the process of establishing a hasty defensive posn where the enemy is nearby the requirement for local security should be clear.
 
That's the case if you don't have your soldiers and jr leaders off doing patrols. I'd also consider having them do the siting of the alternate and dummies. Kill off some CoC or have them otherwise indisposed (higher level rehearsals as an example) and start having Sect Comd's site platoons and soldiers siting sections.

Hasty defensives transition to deliberate ones if they're given the time. They'll probably need "re siting" which is another skill in and of itself. And the point was on the importance of local security for early warning. If you're in the process of establishing a hasty defensive posn where the enemy is nearby the requirement for local security should be clear.
If your soldiers and junior leaders are patrolling, they aren’t digging in, if they’re digging in they aren’t patrolling.

Frankly I think the whole idea that we’d patrol while occupying the defensive, beyond OPs and clearances, to be a bit ridiculous. in order to properly do battle procedure you can’t be doing the full defensive routine; thus it’s a job for units in depth and hence the requirement to link up. Poorly planned, or rushed patrols with exhausted soldiers are just an expenditure of soldiers.
 
A probably unwelcome interjection but...

Soldiers routinely get sent on runs and marches with rucksacks. They run the same routes time after time.

Why not add digging holes to the training programme? And filling them back in?


....


As to the business of the prepared or the hasty defence - my sense is that most defences evolve from the consolidation phase of the attack, through the hasty defence prepared to fend off immediate counter attacks to the prepared defence. All of that evolution can occur under fire while experiencing counter-attacks and raids, and while fending off snipers and patrols.

Maginot line is one of the few defensive positions I can think of that didn't originate under fire.

And linking up with your flanking elements? Isn't that part of the consolidation phase?
 
A probably unwelcome interjection but...

Soldiers routinely get sent on runs and marches with rucksacks. They run the same routes time after time.

Why not add digging holes to the training programme? And filling them back in?

Can you provide me a single reason why this would be valuable pt ? It actually was a part of the BFT, for some reason.

....


As to the business of the prepared or the hasty defence - my sense is that most defences evolve from the consolidation phase of the attack, through the hasty defence prepared to fend off immediate counter attacks to the prepared defence. All of that evolution can occur under fire while experiencing counter-attacks and raids, and while fending off snipers and patrols.

Most defences are established behind some kind of screening effort. Look at what Russia has established, behind their line of contac they have been building trenches to consolidate their gains. So in that case yes part of consolidation.

Maginot line is one of the few defensive positions I can think of that didn't originate under fire.

See above for what I mean.
And linking up with your flanking elements? Isn't that part of the consolidation phase?

Link up with the unit you’ll pass through. I won’t get into boring details, but if you’re passing through a defensive positions you the Ptl commander link in with the unit occupying.
 
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