About Me

My photo
MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

26 June 2015

Return to Conventional Ops

After more than a decade concentrating on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, more conventional warfare is making a comeback, according to senior defence sources. Speaking at the Soldier Technology 2015 conference in London on 24 June, Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) proclaimed the return of artillery and described mature tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) being adopted by Islamic State (IS) fighters in northern Iraq and Syria. “IS captured artillery [from Iraqi security forces] and attacked Ramadi in a sandstorm,” he explained while describing how they had adapted TTPs in order to best concentrate their force elements before attacking the town. He also described how ground reconnaissance units had identified Iraqi government strongholds and gaps in the line through which armoured columns were manoeuvred.

Similarly, Barry outlined how the attack on Ramadi had been preceded by days of indirect fire (IDF) by artillery pieces before an assault was initiated from multiple directions, including tactically place fire support elements designed to counter Iraqi Security Forces rotary-wing assets. During the assault itself, IS fighters used Suicide Vest Improvised Explosive Devices (SVIEDs) and Suicide Vehicle Borne IEDs (SVBIEDs), sometimes mounted on bulldozers and captured armoured vehicles, to breach an entry point before following up with combatants equipped with small arms.

The tactics and capabilities of ‘Combined Arms’ are back,” Barry stated before describing how NATO and coalition partners must consider protection against indirect fire (IDF); equipping of infantry squads with sufficient anti-armour munitions; and an ability to counter the active protection systems of armoured fighting vehicles.

Meanwhile, delegates debated how best to equip infantry platoons and squads in light of an ever evolving operating environment with many advocating a “golf bag” type approach allowing a squad or section to cherry pick the best weapon systems and C4ISTAR (Command & Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) equipment for particular missions. Barry described how the changing operating environment had begun to reflect in different ideas at the tactical level as to how best to equip and organise infantry force elements in combat: “There needs to be diversity in the infantry squad in relation to size and weapons mix.”

Comparing the 13-strong US Marine Corps (USMC) Squad to smaller 8-10 man teams employed elsewhere in the World, Barry stated: “With modern infantry fighting vehicles, you have to accept you’re going to fit less personnel in them because of the decreasing size, weight and power of the vehicles and the increasing equipment carried by the soldiers.”

Reflecting on lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan, New Zealand Defence Force programme manager for the Network Enabled Army, Phil Collett explained how sections had been overmatched and outmanoeuvred, resulting in a change in weapon calibre. NZDF units operating with 5.56mm Steyr assault rifles were outgunned by Taliban fighters armed with 7.62mm AK47 rifles. This, Collett explained, resulted in the replacement of the 5.56mm Light Machine Gun with a 7.62mm variant as well as the introduction of High Explosive 40mm grenades and Anti-Tank Guided Munitions. “We have to be masters of all trades,” he warned.

But continuing the theme of lethality, Collett said once you’ve upgrade from 5.56mm to 7.62mm and eventually up to .50-cal ammunition, the “next step” is to control joint assets to bring in close air support and rocket, artillery and mortar fires.

We will continue to develop but this suits our current needs and purposes,” he proclaimed.

Elsewhere, Brigadier General Norbert Huber, Director of Armament and Procurement at the Austrian Ministry of Defence called for squads being capable of deploying their own “organic and inorganic” fires, explaining: “This will remain a key to the future role of the infantry section or squad.”

Additionally, he described communications and situation awareness as “key” to future requirements and said software defined radios were a “step in the right direction” although NATO should be looking more at commercial off-the-shelf products.

He also highlighted robotics as a growth area, saying: “If i can reduce the role of the foot soldier and get things done by machines, that is one option we should look into.”

Finally, Huber warned that it was impossible to predict the future character of conflict (FCOC), describing how NATO had failed to foresee events in Crimea and Syria. 

No comments:

Post a Comment