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OT: pbs frontline 'the future of war'


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thought-provoking episode last night, although it really focuses only on the US army, not all warfare

if you pay attention to current military issues, it's nothing new

otherwise, i think it's well worth watching if it's on again

some questions:

- ok, the army's preparing for operations other than war (OOTW). what if we get into a major conflict? ok, such a conflict may be less likely now. i still don't want to see the US military assuming it won't happen and so changing training and equipment, and getting a bloody nose as a result from china/some islamic federation/(insert favorite bogeyman here)

- US army chief of staff shinseki wants to change the US army to be more rapidly deployable, with more firepower once it arrives. good, but it still looks like the marines are the first to go. are they?

- it's plausible that concentrating on OOTW will leave the US military less ready to fight a major war. what have people said/thought about a separate OOTW force?

- france is doing a relatively radical reorg with combat battalions and support units grouping into task forces as needed. might that flexibility better serve the US army than ready brigades?

- there was no comment on how to fight a non-battlefield opponent as robert bunker, steven metz, et al have described. what if someone uses computer viruses, attacks our civilian logistics, embeds their command/control in civilian areas...?

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Policing actions like Bosnia, Croatia, Haiti, Somalia might be termed "Other than war"...might also be called "nation-building" type missions. Don't think much of these, really.

Maybe going after those responsible for the terroristic ship bombing the other day might be termed OTW.

I saw the frontline episode and wondered about the track vs. wheel debate - would make a good thread here, I think.

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One of the arguments I've heard is that no one in the near future is going to be stupid enough to engage the US in a major war. The last folks that tried gave rise to CNN smartbomb footage and the Highway of Death. And that most of the conflicts the US gets involved in will be small, nontraditional, with limited goals.

This seems pretty plausible. For one, I think it highly unlikely that China's going to do anything to jeopardize that Most Favored trading status anytime soon. China needs to be tied into the world economy, since economic power seems to be what keeps the government from collapsing. It sure as hell isn't the warm and fuzzy social conditions that keep the Chinese from getting rid of the Communists.

RE: your question about the really non-traditional stuff, like computer viruses. My father's work brings him in contact with a lot of retired generals, and recently with Carl Stiner, who was IIRC head of Special Forces until recently. My father brought this question up, and he got a "we've thought a lot about it, and we're working hard on it, but I can't tell you what we're doing" answer.

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Soy super bien, soy super super bien, soy bien bien super bien bien bien super super.

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I think it's pretty sensible policy to look at ways the military can be useful outside of outright war. A toe to toe battle is really the end result of a lot of breakdowns in policy and an unrealised way of containing conflict. How many conflicts could be averted by having 'cooling down periods', monitoring, and other steps to get two sides talking instead of taking shots across a border? However, this is not likely what the U.S. military is thinking of. This is what I would like to see happen with a more responsive UN (or other body).

What is a bit more disturbing, however, is the work the U.S. military could be doing in other countries supporting counter-insurgency, such as what is happening in Colombia. Of course, without declaring war, the U.S. could be committing their military aiding foreign governments. From a foreign policy standpoint, this is just another way of containing conflict and making sure it doesn't affect U.S. interests beyond the borders of a foreign country. From a human rights and domestic policy standpoint, this will always be troubling.

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Tracks vs wheels? Are they for real?

Whats the point in getting a division at the scene when they will get clobbered by any real tank/armor force?

Why cant the UN do this low intensity crap? UN reaction forces should be stationed close to all hot spots. They can react quickly.

That cluck shinaki is going to destry the US armored forces in 10 years. The show made no sense and made me sick.

Lewis

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :USERNAME::

Why cant the UN do this low intensity crap? UN reaction forces should be stationed close to all hot spots. They can react quickly.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Boy Lewis, I'm glad you popped up, I hadn't had a good laugh today. Where, exactly, do you suggest the UN gets their troops? Which 10 hots spots should they choose? What's a hot spot? Who decides? There are more holes than argument there, so I'll stop with that.

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Have you ever tried to buy an atomic bomb? They're expensive as hell, even without wheels!

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :USERNAME::

Tracks vs wheels? Are they for real?

Whats the point in getting a division at the scene when they will get clobbered by any real tank/armor force?

Why cant the UN do this low intensity crap? UN reaction forces should be stationed close to all hot spots. They can react quickly.

That cluck shinaki is going to destry the US armored forces in 10 years. The show made no sense and made me sick.

Lewis<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

it probably doesn't help that we (the us) don't pay our dues in a timely manner.

the problem with our bad-ssed armor is that it too armored. NOT a bad thing in combat("death before dismount"), but getting it anywhere is a big hassle.

i read in a sci-tech magazine that said the us would have had trouble in serbia because most bridges couldn't hold the weight of an m1a1. i don't think we should abandon our armored cav units for the lighter units(especially since battle sims showed a 1:1 loss ratio instead of 10:1 for the us), but it does show a need for something new.

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"They had their chance- they have not lead!" - GW Bush

"They had mechanical pencils- they have not...lead?" - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show

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For those who haven't seen the program or want further info here's the PBS website for the Frontline episode of "The Future of War". For those who have seen the program there are also more detailed interviews and analysis. It is a very interesting read if you curious about the direction of the US Military:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/future/

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If anyone has seen the vehicles they are testing here at FT Lewis, let me tell you the silhouette is ungodly high. Such an easy target if not hidden or hull down. Unless it is made out of some new space age metal, none of these test vehicles here will stand a chance in an Armor battle.

Tactically mobilizing light infantry yes, it will do that, and with some exceptional fire power.

But going toe to toe with a battalion of

T-80's you can forget about it.

I would like us to stay with the Cavalry.

Maybe a platoon or two of Armor for every Infantry battalion with LAV's.

------------------

The counter-revolution,

people smilling through their tears.

Who can give them back their lives, and all those wasted years.

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :USERNAME::

Why cant the UN do this low intensity crap? UN reaction forces should be stationed close to all hot spots. They can react quickly

Lewis<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :USERNAME::

I suggest the UN get the hell closer to its concerns. Get the hell out of NY and we'll mail you a check. Better yet, disband it.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

OK, so which one is it? UN as world cop, or disband it?

I recently read "Blackhawk Down" by Bowden. Excellent example of how badly things can go wrong for a superpower in an OOTW situation.

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"Really they’re quite fearful—that’s my theory. They see us on stage with tight trousers. We’ve got, you know, armadillos in our trousers. I mean it’s really quite frightening ... the size ... and and they, they run screaming."

N.Tufnel

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Def Bungis - is the Army testing LAVs or is there another vehicle in development ? One of the problems with the wheeled vehicles and their silhouette is that for improved mobility purposes they need a high ground clearance for the hull.

I think one of the things to remember here is that these "light/medium" units aren't intended to face heavy armored forces - at least not by themselves in a long term engagement. Their major purpose is deployability - an issue that came to the forefront for the Army with the slow deployment of the Apaches and their logistics and defensive attachments to Albania for the Kosovo action. It was something of an embarrassment that the unit wasn't completely ready to engage Serbian forces after a month or so.

[This message has been edited by Schrullenhaft (edited 10-26-2000).]

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :USERNAME::

the whole show was about the over reaction to the desert shield 82nd airborne deployment. Who really expects an airborne unit to stop anything in the desert?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hmmm, well now I wished I would have seen it.

The 82nd has plenty of AT capabilities. I forget the exact number of TOW launchers, but it was very formidable. Of course there are a number of variables to consider. If the 82nd was deploying in a tank heavy environment, you can bet they'd take as many as possible. However, the 82nd is a light infantry unit and must be supported. It would have been chewed to pieces if Saddam had advanced into Saudi early with determination.

Basically, there are plenty of things we could kill in the desert. As a former TOW Section leader, we lived for clear fields of fire where we could reach out and touch something at max range...... wink.gif

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Land Soft--Kill Quiet

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The Army looked at a large number of wheeled vehicles not just LAVs. If you find the Army Times website you can probably search past articles and there's was extensive coverage of the quite interesting test they did.

RE: Task force organizatin, this is a staple of pretty much every western army and particularly in the US. Just because the 1/24th Infantry (an example) delpoy to an operation don't thing it's just infantry it's a full combined arms task force in the true sense of the word. It's been like that for a very long time. Even the individual companies are normally reorganized in to combined arms task groups though of course situation and mission dictate.

Los

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i often don't agree with US foreign policy committing forces to peacekeeping missions in the first place...but that's another thread entirely

given a policy i do agree with, then military OOTW are ok IF

- the military's primary purpose is not affected

- there are plausible exit strategies

to me, the current bombing of iraq, the somalia humanitarian mission, etc do NOT meet these criteria. on peacekeeper missions, i think police - possibly with infantry training and equipment plus nonlethal weapons, but still primarily police - should be the primary force with military units as backup

using the military for peacekeeping means dulling their warfighting edge. violently imposing your will on an opponent is a lot different than maintaining a status quo

that's why i asked has anyone considered a separate OOTW force. i suppose i really mean a separate peacekeeping force, since there are OOTW which need warfighting abilities

i don't see the UN doing such a force well until it has a reliable budget. that leads into yet another thread smile.gif

as for desert shield - sending airborne was a bluff. sending marines was not. i'm curious how the transformed US army will complement what the marines already do. hopefully the usual interservice rivalry could ease up a bit here

note: it's been 20+ years since US president carter declared the RDF. i don't think we've come nearly far enough since then

'the future of war' had video clips of imaginary wheeled vehicles meant to replace the M1A1. if those are what Def Bungis refers to, i hope field tests are laughing them back into the lab. high profile, exposed wheels...very cute. maybe hasbro's squad leader could use them in a GI Barbie mod

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elementalwarre - What did they end up putting in Haiti after the US forces left ? I think that there was some sort of international police force (though it isn't "permanently" organized) that was set up.

Good point about the Marines and the future Army OOB. I'm curious as to the reasoning for this overlap (hopefully it isn't just interservice rivalry). I guess the Army feels like they need this rapid deployment capability where they're one of the larger services in the theater (i.e. - Europe, Korean Peninsula, etc.).

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Regarding the Army's medium force: The first two brigades are forming now at Fort Lewis. Vehicles have not been concretely identified yet. Many wheeled vehicles were kicked around, but I'm still unsure if any that were definitely selected. The first brigade in question was a standard heavy brigade with 2 tank battalions, 1 mech infantry battalion, an SP artillery battalion, a combat engineer battalion, and FSB. The new medium brigade is unlike anything anyone has ever seen. All tanks, Bradleys, and generally tracked vehicles are gone! I was there as the first tanks were turned in and it was a sad day for all involved. The tank bettalions are becoming RSTA (recon, surveillance, target acquisition) squadrons. They planned to combine cav troops and MI personnel into a go anywhere and observe unit. Combat power is pretty sparce, with everything based on LAV-300 wheeled vehicles. The infantry battalions traded their tracks for LAV-300s as well but took on an AGS unit for fire support. The brigade also had a troop of wheeled tank destroyers (centaurs, I believe) that were under direct brigade command. I have no idea what the plans were for the artillery, but I think I heard mention of HIMARs. I could be wrong though. To my knowledge, no one has received new vehicles yet. One brigade was finishing turn in when I left, but I don't know exactly what their status is. There were mixed emotions from all involved. We'll see what happens. Also, the big impetus for this as expressed by the Army was the dash to the Kosovo airport made by wheeled Russian troops ahead of tracked NATO troops.

[This message has been edited by USTanker (edited 10-26-2000).]

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After watching front line, seems there is alot of politics invovled with the vehicle contract.

The situation on FT Lewis is still in test mode. I'm not in the transformation BDE, but we are scheduled to go next.

NO TRACK vehicles are even being considered.

Or at least they dont have any here for testing.

2 different model wheeled LAV"s are being trained on at the moment, however a selection has not been made.

Both to me, seem to big and bulky for anything other than an infantry transport and minimul fire power.

Now, if the intent is to have a heavy force eventually come to the rescue, all the better.

But I beleive the plan is to eventually transorm all heavy and light division in the Army, to the NEW medium BDE concept.

Why? Only one reason I see, and thats for world wide police missions.

I'm not getting into foriegn policy, but I think we still need research and development for a heavy, lethal force.

------------------

The counter-revolution,

people smilling through their tears.

Who can give them back their lives, and all those wasted years.

[This message has been edited by DEF BUNGIS (edited 10-26-2000).]

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Airborne:

Hmmm, well now I wished I would have seen it.

The 82nd has plenty of AT capabilities. I forget the exact number of TOW launchers, but it was very formidable. Of course there are a number of variables to consider. If the 82nd was deploying in a tank heavy environment, you can bet they'd take as many as possible. Basically, there are plenty of things we could kill in the desert. As a former TOW Section leader, we lived for clear fields of fire where we could reach out and touch something at max range...... wink.gif

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You know what AIRBORNE, I watched the show, and when they said that the 82nd got there with no defense from tanks, i thought to myself "thats frickn bull****". I know damn well the 82nd had tank killing capabilites, and lots of it.

There is so much political BS involved in this transformation stuff that it seems generals can't make the desicions they want.

Sad, really f*ckn sad.

------------------

The counter-revolution,

people smilling through their tears.

Who can give them back their lives, and all those wasted years.

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Guys,the Army isn't giving up ALL it's heavy units,IIRC only 3 out of 10 active Divs.are going to the Medium Div. concept and none of the Nat'l Guard Divs. are either.From what I've read in Army Times and Soldiers Magazine the Medium concept is meant as a gap filler to give the RDF some heavier backbone until the heavy armored units can reach the theater of operations,AND to add some weight in OOTW operations where heavy units are too much FP to throw into the mix.

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Nicht Schiessen!!

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by russellmz:

it probably doesn't help that we (the us) don't pay our dues in a timely manner.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But then again we are owed somewhere on the order of 10x's what we owe in dues in peacekeeping costs. I owe you $5 but you owe me $30. Why should I hand over your $5?

Cav

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CavScout - The banks are owed the billions of dollars from specific third world countries - not the US Federal govt. The US finances approximately 25% of the UN's budget, so delinquencies by the US affect the UN's operations significantly.

Edit: I may have misunderstood you on this. I haven't followed the balance-sheet of UN peacekeeping operations and their payments to countries for their support. I guess the US may still be owed by the UN for certain operations.

I guess for a number of Americans, funding the UN seems pointless since it isn't consistenly pro-US in its policies. I am of the opinion that it is worth funding, even if the UN isn't successful in its missions all the time.

[This message has been edited by Schrullenhaft (edited 10-27-2000).]

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