Fighting Light.. what is the problem?

Trying to steer away from the thread drift.


This isn't true and you should know it. Almost every successful land military strategy in history has revolved around knocking out or constraining either command or logistics as quickly as possible, and that means fighting or occupying where those things are.


You are treating these as if they are absolutes. None of them require that we do those and only those. I wasn't arguing for 1st UK Mountain Division. I was saying our inability to think outside the armoured/mechanised box means we don't see smaller, quicker wins in other areas.

Here's a related question: are you in favour of a UK arctic capability, and if so, why?


Your second point is not the only option, and the others are strawmen. We have just spent decades being shown that weighing ourselves down is not the optimal solution, either on our side or the other.


This same logic means fat soldiers are better than thin soldiers. There is good mass, and bad mass. I'd also point out that more land operational victories have been won in recent times by forces lacking mass than those with it. So why is mass (or stuff, your choice) the key criteria? Arguably picking a sympathetic population to operate among (or if not NATO, find an effective means to cow them), be it as an insurgent or valient defender, has been the most important criteria in war for a century, because it reduces the need to constantly hold ground that saps your manpower and resources. Conversely, achieving that criteria reduces the value of mass. Again, you seem to be thinking in mid-20th century terms when there is ever decreasing evidence those beliefs were correct.

Finally, and this also relates to the OP: you and several others are massively overstating the degree to which airborne ISTAR can be a substitute or panacea for other capabilities. This isn't a matter of technology, it's a matter of the fundamental physics. Optics and platforms will improve, but waveform physics and signal propagation will remain the same. Until we invent Superman's x-ray vision or ground penetrating radio, there are going to remain hard limitations on what ISTAR can achieve. That has implications both for weight carried on the man and infantry roles, because Panglossian assumptions that airborne SIGINT and IMINT will collectively solve all our information needs is going to leave us with some huge black holes, that any competent enemy will exploit. Not least: even thermal can't see through trees, rock or solid matter, and the fact your radio doesn't work half the time also means we cannot track the enemy half the time.

Planning for technology to change is reasonable. Planning for physics to change is not.
Foliage penetrating radar is a thing.
 
Earlier on someone mentioned small wars

Aden showed that urban vs hill mountain patrolling was reliant on vehicle support
be it helo resupply or Land Rover/Bedford

With the occasional armoured vehicle doing the business
6B0FA44E-DC04-4968-A9AB-40A1C9A822F7.jpeg

605E81F3-B99C-4778-8838-5A96E8953C7D.jpeg
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Larkspur A41?
Occasional armoured vehicle was Saladin, provided by Queen's Bays (inter alia)
 
We haven't had any small quick wins in the unarmored world. or anywhere else, since FI (where we were bloody lucky and RN paid hefty price for filling in gaps with NGS. Battle of Longdon had more RN killed than any other trade dues HMS Glamorgan staying on station longer than planned and taking an Exocet up the chuff).

Arguably small wars are recreational. We're facing resurgent Russia that doesn't do small wars.

The topic is lightening the load on the dismounted infantryman. Which means a trade of between protection and capability, always at the cost of my mobility. I believe that the answer is to bin the light role infantry, other than a few cadres to cover the unlikely need to fight in mountains, arctic (other NATO members better now Sweden and Finland joined Norway) and jungle.

Of course the dismounts from Boxer fight on feet, so the capability isn't lost, it's just modernised.

Re ISTAR in mountains and jungle, 2ith respect, balls. Decent drone can see mountain regions from high altitude. Not easy and not all the time, but enough. SF aside, interdiction on terrain favoring enemy is lunacy. It's an extravagant capability we have neither manpower nor budget for - and would have to work hard to show need.

On historical note, which wars precisely do you think were won by army interdiction on MSRs?

The answer remains the same as it has been since 1916 - unprotected infantry die like flies to little beneficial outcome. The only way to protect them and maintain decent firepower is armour.
Don't disagree one iota.

But (and that cnut Carter is a fine example of how this plays out in real life), we've a long history of imperial/ post-imperial policing actions which have shaped our tribal view of the relative importance of, and the capabilities that are desirable in, our Army of choice. This has been overlaid (possibly even overtaken) by the desire to maintain an attractive career structure (small bns, and a few more of them = more Jobs For The Right Sort Of Chap).

Flat-Earth, heavy-metal warfare is not central to the Army's psyche ( four years of WW1, six years of WW2 and half-a-century of The Cold War notwithstanding)

And then reduced Defence budgets (plus ingrained Army inability to buy essential capabilities in a timely / cost-effective / pragmatic / no-bells-or-fvcking-whistles manner) is pverlaid on that.

. . . . and - let us not forget - the mantra of "Punching Above Our Weight". At which UKR troops seem to excel, but which is nonetheless costing them dear.

We've been kidding ourselves more and more enthusiastically every year since the USSR collapsed, and have a lot to do before we've an army fit for purpose in the era foisted on the world by the gutter-born thug in the Kremlin.
 
Does the

10th Mountain is not a specialized mountain unit, but rather regular light infantry. The “Mountain” in its title is honorific to commemorate its service in WWII.
Pretty sure that when 10th Mountain deployed in a Mountain role, US MIL COC was met with “but we don’t do mountains”. But off they won’t anyway.
 
Earlier on someone mentioned small wars

Aden showed that urban vs hill mountain patrolling was reliant on vehicle support
be it helo resupply or Land Rover/Bedford

With the occasional armoured vehicle doing the business
View attachment 674549
View attachment 674548

Great pictures and this is my definition of fighting light.

Aden showed that urban vs hill mountain patrolling was reliant on vehicle support
be it helo resupply or Land Rover/Bedford

Even Armoured Battlegroups are reliant on vehicle support for resupply. Whether that be Helo / Landrovers / Bedfords / Any combination thereof.
 
I am, as I have said elsewhere about the limitations of remote sensors.

However, I fail to see how a patrol of knackered, pissed-off and bored types tramping down a road after a long patrol is effective?
Keep in mind my day job has me walking for 4-5 hours in a single go, with a heavy equipment vest, so I'm well aware of the mental drain you can suffer with the loss of efficiency and awareness. This is in part caused by boredom but is increased when hot (And the extremes I experience are less than the ones experienced by soldiers on patrol in somewhere like AFG. Who suffer higher temperatures and heavier loads).

Also, I pointed out in that post that if you must patrol on foot, why not have half (or a third, what ever you want) of your forces resting in the transport, while the remainder walks, then switch over at certain points.
Yes, let's have half, or a third, of the strength sat in a big target which in places will be confined to predictable areas, like roads and tracks.
 
Pretty sure that when 10th Mountain deployed in a Mountain role, US MIL COC was met with “but we don’t do mountains”. But off they won’t anyway.
10th Mountain lost its specialised mountain warfare role in 1985, it is just a light infantry unit now.
 
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Yes, let's have half, or a third, of the strength sat in a big target which in places will be confined to predictable areas, like roads and tracks.

With increased protection , firepower, sensors, endurance and your troops not being knackered!

But once again, we seem to be using single case examples to argue something.
In some terrain, yes you will need to dismount fully, I even said as such originally.
 
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If the soldier is "Fighting Light", then by definition all his other kit is somewhere else.

Either static, or on a vehicle nearby.
If it is static, no problem.
If it is a vehicle, then new big bag of problems.

Every vehicle requires POL and maintenance, and a driver and commander. Otherwise it's a gate guardian. That's two more bodies on the ORBAT, not patrolling.

When the vehicle goes sick, it requires parts (Dues out) and mechanics (REME).

In short, if you want to "fight light" you require a motorised/mechanised component that you also need to resource.

All you have done is move the weight off the infantryman's back and put it on the MTO's desk.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Foliage penetrating radar is a thing.
For buildings and vehicles which, in many cases, you cannot get there anyway. Not for people, animals, tracks, etc. So easy enough to avoid.
 
If it is a vehicle, then new big bag of problems.

Every vehicle requires POL and maintenance, and a driver and commander. Otherwise it's a gate guardian. That's two more bodies on the ORBAT, not patrolling.

How in the name of the wee man is it a new problem ?

All you have done is move the weight off the infantryman's back and put it on the MTO's desk.

Whether light role / Mech / Armoured role, MTO's dealt with it by allocating a truck and usually a land rover to each CQMS.

Those vehicles, normally the truck, would be used in BG rolling replens / Moving resups from Ech to Coy locations / moving troops / moving kit and stores as required.
 
How in the name of the wee man is it a new problem ?



Whether light role / Mech / Armoured role, MTO's dealt with it by allocating a truck and usually a land rover to each CQMS.

Those vehicles, normally the truck, would be used in BG rolling replens / Moving resups from Ech to Coy locations / moving troops / moving kit and stores as required.
It's a new-old problem, because if you think back to the beginning of "Fight Light" and Project Payne, the infantryman of the 1940's had a larger RCT and things like the Bren Carrier to put his junk on.
If you want to reconstitute that capability, then hello, that's a whole new MT ballgame.
So, let's say you do this.
Give each platoon a quad bike and trailer.
Hooray. Fight light.
Who drives and POLs it? Drivers hours?

That's a man not fighting. It's like dragoons in the Napoleonic War.
Mounted infantry, but you have to detail off a bloke to hold the horses.
Quad bike breaks.
How many men in the LAD? Add a few bodies there.
Then I utter the evil words...
"Whole Fleet Management."
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Going to try and break this down into two halves.
Re ISTAR in mountains and jungle, 2ith respect, balls. Decent drone can see mountain regions from high altitude. Not easy and not all the time, but enough. SF aside, interdiction on terrain favoring enemy is lunacy. It's an extravagant capability we have neither manpower nor budget for - and would have to work hard to show need.
This simply isn't true about ISTAR. You've either not experienced it directly or drunk the Kool-Aid. This is also what the entire senior MOD and Defence industry have done, so unsurprising. They massively underplay the limitations of airborne ISR. As I said before, there are hard limitations of physics. Neither altitude nor technology change the properties of light, bend it round corners, or push it through rock. Airborne ISR is great in open areas. It is great in covered areas linked by open areas. It is highly limited in foliage and mountains (mountains defined as anywhere with vertical or near vertical gradients, because they create covered routes and caves: not the large hills we call mountains in Wales and Scotland).

However, if you are unwilling to acknowledge this, the only thing I can say is that I'm pretty sure I've seen a lot more operational ISR, more recently, and probably had more briefs about the science (unless you actually work in IMINT or UAS development) than you have.

Your bit in bold is an assumption that I already countered, and you ignored. That statement assumes that "we" are strong and "they" are weak. Given the size of the Army and competence of our foreign policy, that is an extremely unsafe assumption. We ended up on the back foot even against less numerous and equipped enemies, why wouldn't we be even more seriously on the back foot against a peer enemy? The value of mountains is weighted towards a defender, and Ukraine is an example of where we might have been hiding from the Russians, not the other way around. Training to fight in an area (vs treat it as an insertion technique) means training for both offensive and defensive ops.

On historical note, which wars precisely do you think were won by army interdiction on MSRs?

The answer remains the same as it has been since 1916 - unprotected infantry die like flies to little beneficial outcome. The only way to protect them and maintain decent firepower is armour.
You are changing the terms. Historians endlessly argue about why wars were won. Military operations, on the other hand:
  • Almost every non-coastal land operation pre-WW1, because air wasn't an option. This is self-evident.
  • Any operation that has been defined or decided by a siege(s) (e.g. 1946-1949 Chinese Civil war)
  • Any operation that has been defined or decided by an encirclement (German 6th Army post Stalingrad)
  • WW2 North Africa - both about a strategic MSR (Suez) interdicted by Axis land presence, and guided by the operational MSRs being regularly cut and overextended on both sides.
  • WW2 Market Garden, obviously.
  • WW2 the Russian front was about opening and controlling routes to Caucasus oil....it was about establishing an MSR for the Germans, and defending one for the Russians.
  • Vietnam - the failure of the US to interdict the Ho Chi Minh trail (attempted both by air and ground) held by many historians to be pivotal to losing the war.
  • This could be a very long list.
Your objection makes no real sense in the context of what you, yourself, were arguing. If war is about mass because mass means stuff, then you need MSR(s) to supply the stuff. A force reliant on stuff without stuff quickly stops being a force. Are we actually talking about military reality, or are you trying to litigate a debating point?

EDIT: Someone just pointed out to me that list of operations decided by MSRs above should also include Kyiv, 2022.
 
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