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COIN vs. conventional warfare

RyanCrierie

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from your link:

“The next-generation combat vehicle is … going to have capabilities that far exceed those of current infantry fighting vehicles in the Army force today,” he said. “It’s going to … have unparalleled survivability for the occupants [and] for underbody blasts.”

Am I the only one who thinks that this current hyper emphasis on COIN missions is going to come up to bite us in the ass in the future?

It's worthwhile in the future to lay down a parameter for future combat vehicles to have some level of resistance against explosive charges; to avoid "easy" kills of the occupants, but if you detonate a 50+ kg charge under a vehicle, it's going to be messed up anyway.
 

sferrin

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RyanC said:
from your link:

“The next-generation combat vehicle is … going to have capabilities that far exceed those of current infantry fighting vehicles in the Army force today,” he said. “It’s going to … have unparalleled survivability for the occupants [and] for underbody blasts.”

Am I the only one who thinks that this current hyper emphasis on COIN missions is going to come up to bite us in the ass in the future?

"Yeah but that's the next guy's problem" - U.S. Politician
 

marauder2048

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RyanC said:
It's worthwhile in the future to lay down a parameter for future combat vehicles to have some level of resistance against explosive charges; to avoid "easy" kills of the occupants, but if you detonate a 50+ kg charge under a vehicle, it's going to be messed up anyway.

Or just a recognition that current mine clearing technology is going to struggle sweeping
some of the more modern mine types.
 

Kadija_Man

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Not sure why the current emphasis on COIN is a problem. Downunder we train for both types of warfare, COIN and conventional. COIN is subset of conventional, with the emphasis on counter-revolutionary warfare - protecting the local population and preventing the insurgents gaining access to them, while hunting the insurgents into their home areas. The only major difference is that conventional emphasises big battalions, whereas COIN emphasises small unit tactics. One does not preclude the other, nor should it. Perhaps that's the problem? We used to run a multi-year training regime, with one year on small unit tactics, the next on COIN/Counter-Revolutionary warfare and the final on big unit operations. Each year built on the previous year's training lessons. It appears to have done us well since WWII.
 

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Kadija_Man said:
Not sure why the current emphasis on COIN is a problem. Downunder we train for both types of warfare, COIN and conventional. COIN is subset of conventional, with the emphasis on counter-revolutionary warfare - protecting the local population and preventing the insurgents gaining access to them, while hunting the insurgents into their home areas. The only major difference is that conventional emphasises big battalions, whereas COIN emphasises small unit tactics. One does not preclude the other, nor should it. Perhaps that's the problem? We used to run a multi-year training regime, with one year on small unit tactics, the next on COIN/Counter-Revolutionary warfare and the final on big unit operations. Each year built on the previous year's training lessons. It appears to have done us well since WWII.


Many big battles of WW2 can be understood as a string of parallel small unit engagements.
Small units are the essence of all engagements that are reliant on infantry.

The differences between COIN and conventional warfare should be described and understood very differently than what you wrote there IMO.
The difference is that in conventional warfare the opposing forces are much more capable (much bigger repertoire), so you need to counter a much bigger repertoire to defeat them. Things like IEDs, RPG barrages or harassing fires with mortars or machineguns become mere nuisances barely if at all worthy of mention in a conventional warfare because the opposing forces aren't largely limited to such relatively ineffective tactics. Conventional warfare opponents can triangulate you with EW assets and call 36 152 mm HE shells on you in a time on target mission, compressed into 10 seconds.
Conventional opposing forces makes most of your repertoire worthless. Sandbag castles and HESCO forts are no option any more, since they would be shelled or bombed once in use. You couldn't take cover and wait for Apache helicopters to bail you out because OPFOR indirect fires would kill you in that cover within four minutes and the Apaches were shot down by fighters days ago already.


http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2010/03/musings-about-military-theory-framework.html
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2012/10/an-application-fo-repertoire-centric.html

This, BTW, explains why the GCS approach that meant to add threat profiles from wars of occupation into an ACV suitable for conventional warfare was an intellectually inconsistent effort from the start.
 

Kadija_Man

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The strategies may be different between COIN and Conventional but the tactics are essentially the same.

In COIN you are concerned with small unit tactics to counter a fleeting, minuscule enemy force. In conventional, you are using larger units to counter the enemy's large units. When your forces encounter one another, it is the small units which do the fighting still. Without emphasis on small unit tactics, your force would be overwhelmed on the first encounter because (I am assuming) the enemy will not have neglected how to fight small unit actions. As more small units become involved, it builds up to large unit actions, covering many kilometres, involving more and more complex assets until someone is foolish enough (if equipped with them) to push the big red button.

From the position of casual external observer, it appears that the US military focus on how to use all it's large unit assets and neglects the small unit tactics. Soldiers suffer from the theories of S.L.A. Marshall that soldiers only fire their weapons occasionally and often do not bother to aim them. This is why COIN is always a shock to it, once it becomes involved in such conflicts. Which is a shame because the US military has a proud history of fighting COIN operations dating back over 2 centuries. It appears that the US military academies believe the only way for an officer to advance his career is to concentrate on how to fight the "war of the big battalions" as Bonaparte called it. Petraeus was damning of the US's initial approach to the Iraq occupation when he took over there. It was his support for the junior officers who had identified the problems facing them which allowed the US to counter the insurgents successfully.

Whereas the Australian Army suffers no illusions. We train as infantrymen, first and foremost and develop our tactics to counter insurgents and conventional soldiers. Our record is clear, our views work, going from WWII (mix of conventional and small unit tactics), through Korea (conventional), Malaya (COIN), Borneo (COIN), South Vietnam (COIN and a very small set of battles where conventional tactics were employed) through to Somalia (COIN), Iraq I (no infantry involvement), East Timor (conventional and COIN), Solomon Islands (COIN), Afghanistan (conventional and then COIN) and Iraq II (COIN).
 

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Interesting discussion feel free to move it to its' own thread.

done !
 

lastdingo

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They try hard to be good at small unit actions - look at their infantry magazine. I read the past 25 years or so and it's full of squad- and platoon-level considerations.
http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/#

There are many reasons why U.S. infantry falls short of excelling in (manoeuvre) skill.
The primary reason is that they don't need much skill because almost all the time they will be employed with a resources overmatch. Taliban cannot call in artillery to kill GIs that cower behind a wall, but the GIs cower behind the wall because they wait for the arrival of support fires to solve their issue with the Taliban.

The U.S.Army substituted for infantry skill with support fires since they became apprentices of the French in 1917. They kept translating French field manuals into the 1930's. Back in WW2 GIs had a softer training by inexperienced or less experienced trainers than most German infantrymen, so again accompanying Sherman tanks, artillery and fighter-bombers had to solve many tactical problems. In 1950 a North Korean division that had been reduced to brigade size attacked into a USMC division's attack with infiltration tactics. There was hardly any pre-war North Korean infantry left at that time, but the non-infantry soldiers were good enough at infiltration tactics with almost no support fires to defeat the American deliberate divisional attack.
During the Vietnam War there was a tactical vignette for infantry company leaders in their infantry magazine. It was nothing but a challenge to coordinate artillery, mortars, various ground attack aircraft and helicopters within a few minutes to bring their firepower to bear on the NVA forces in the engagement. No manoeuvre was expected.

You cannot expect them to focus on developing basic infantryman skills and small unit manoeuvre when they usually have much easier ways to address challenges AND not accomplishing missions is OK if only there are no KIA.
All-too often when American (and more generally Western) infantry was on a mission and suffered some WIA the WIA became the mission. Suddenly, only MEDEVAC mattered any more because the war they were fighting in wasn't really worth to be fought.


So I suppose if you want good infantry you should train them with little if any support for a year, and do many free play adversarial exercises Plt vs. Plt, Coy vs. Plt, Sqd vs. Sqd in a building and so on.


The biggest problem is in my opinion that Western infantry has been tasked to beat up 3rd world enemies - often irregulars - for too long.
Competent opposing forces will call lethal (not ranging) indirect fires on an infantry position within 4 minutes, at times within 2 minutes. Our infantry should thus never stay within ~150 m of a detected position for more than 2 minutes, at most 4 minutes. To fail to move or to give away one's position needlessly is suicidal against "peer" opposing forces.
Western infantry is used to opposing forces that can't make good use of their artillery even if they have many tubes, and the current generation hasn't seen opposing forces that had the competence and hardware to rain down lethal fires within 4 minutes at all.
A gazillion of "lessons learned" from AFG and Iraq are worthless if not 180° wrong, similar to how the Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires and dragoons are important in then modern warfare. The Donbass conflict may be our Russo-Japanese War. I wonder if we keep heeding the lessons and impressions from Iraq/AFG/Boers or the lessons and impressions from Ukraine/South Ossetia/Port Arthur.


BTW, I call most "COIN" campaigns "wars of occupation" because when looked at from a historical perspective with warfare from hundreds of years in mind, those are mostly simple occupation efforts that face quite feeble armed resistance.
 

jsport

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lastdingo said:
They try hard to be good at small unit actions - look at their infantry magazine. I read the past 25 years or so and it's full of squad- and platoon-level considerations.
http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/#

There are many reasons why U.S. infantry falls short of excelling in (manoeuvre) skill.
The primary reason is that they don't need much skill because almost all the time they will be employed with a resources overmatch. Taliban cannot call in artillery to kill GIs that cower behind a wall, but the GIs cower behind the wall because they wait for the arrival of support fires to solve their issue with the Taliban.

The U.S.Army substituted for infantry skill with support fires since they became apprentices of the French in 1917. They kept translating French field manuals into the 1930's. Back in WW2 GIs had a softer training by inexperienced or less experienced trainers than most German infantrymen, so again accompanying Sherman tanks, artillery and fighter-bombers had to solve many tactical problems. In 1950 a North Korean division that had been reduced to brigade size attacked into a USMC division's attack with infiltration tactics. There was hardly any pre-war North Korean infantry left at that time, but the non-infantry soldiers were good enough at infiltration tactics with almost no support fires to defeat the American deliberate divisional attack.
During the Vietnam War there was a tactical vignette for infantry company leaders in their infantry magazine. It was nothing but a challenge to coordinate artillery, mortars, various ground attack aircraft and helicopters within a few minutes to bring their firepower to bear on the NVA forces in the engagement. No manoeuvre was expected.

You cannot expect them to focus on developing basic infantryman skills and small unit manoeuvre when they usually have much easier ways to address challenges AND not accomplishing missions is OK if only there are no KIA.
All-too often when American (and more generally Western) infantry was on a mission and suffered some WIA the WIA became the mission. Suddenly, only MEDEVAC mattered any more because the war they were fighting in wasn't really worth to be fought.


So I suppose if you want good infantry you should train them with little if any support for a year, and do many free play adversarial exercises Plt vs. Plt, Coy vs. Plt, Sqd vs. Sqd in a building and so on.


The biggest problem is in my opinion that Western infantry has been tasked to beat up 3rd world enemies - often irregulars - for too long.
Competent opposing forces will call lethal (not ranging) indirect fires on an infantry position within 4 minutes, at times within 2 minutes. Our infantry should thus never stay within ~150 m of a detected position for more than 2 minutes, at most 4 minutes. To fail to move or to give away one's position needlessly is suicidal against "peer" opposing forces.
Western infantry is used to opposing forces that can't make good use of their artillery even if they have many tubes, and the current generation hasn't seen opposing forces that had the competence and hardware to rain down lethal fires within 4 minutes at all.
A gazillion of "lessons learned" from AFG and Iraq are worthless if not 180° wrong, similar to how the Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires and dragoons are important in then modern warfare. The Donbass conflict may be our Russo-Japanese War. I wonder if we keep heeding the lessons and impressions from Iraq/AFG/Boers or the lessons and impressions from Ukraine/South Ossetia/Port Arthur.


BTW, I call most "COIN" campaigns "wars of occupation" because when looked at from a historical perspective with warfare from hundreds of years in mind, those are mostly simple occupation efforts that face quite feeble armed resistance.
ditto what he said.
 
I

Ian33

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Light Infantry should be masters of both Counter Insurgency and full scale 'Berlin dash' battle fire and manouver tactics. To have an Army incompetent in either is in my opinion, criminal neglect.

Regiment A, B and C this year are COIN focused, plenty of FIBUA and soft patrolling skills..... D,E and F, hard skills, long range recce, anti armour, big field with fire support and all the bells and whistles of 'big war'....

The USMC alone is big enough to be able to tear this apart,etc alone additional g the US Army into the mix.
 

marauder2048

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It's a lot of factual and historical inaccuracies marshalled to support a questionable thesis. Some of my favorites inaccuracies:

In 1950 a North Korean division that had been reduced to brigade size attacked into a USMC division's attack

There was only one USMC division in Korea in 1950 and the only divisional level attack was Inchon where infiltrators played
little part.

various ground attack aircraft and helicopters within a few minutes to bring their firepower to bear on the NVA
Average response time for ground attack aircraft in Vietnam was nearly an hour. It was longer for helicopters.

the Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires and dragoons are important in then modern warfare
It's pretty much why the Germans prevalied in the Battle of the Frontiers in WWI.
 

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An interesting discussion thus far. From my limited experience and involvement with US soldiers and Officers the problem appears to me that both lack discipline. Dowunder, our attitude to discipline is more relaxed than say the British army's. We have separate Officers, SNCO and OR's messes. You don't go to a different mess, unless invited to. Usually, the invites are downwards. This allows the separate ranks to bitch and moan as much as they like about their seniors or juniors without being overheard. Some units have mixed messes but they tend to be smaller and understand the differences between the ranks. British units are far more rigid, having even a Junior NCO Mess. The ranks never talk in the British Army, unlike the Australian one where everybody knows everybody else.

Self-discipline is the key. The Australian Army is more rigid than many people realise but it is because the soldiers know and understand that is what sustains them in battle. There are larrikins, there are buffoons but one they start to climb in rank, those traits disappear. SNCOs are where the Army's knowledge is and where it is retained. I served with a WO1 who had served in Korea, Malaya, Singapore, South Vietnam. He was unusual though, most only serve 20 years. I knew one WO2 who was recalled to the Infantry Centre at Singleton because he and a few other SNCOs had the knowledge to rewrite and update the training manual for the Vickers MMG when it was reintroduced to service after the failure of the M60 for the SFMG role.

Our officers have what appears to be a unique talent to want to learn. Something I note US Officers seem adverse to, generally. They read books, something I note the US Officers I've known, rarely did. They want to learn about past conflicts/battles and how to apply the lessons learnt. I am sure there are many US Officers who buck the perceived trend of having ceased to learn after they graduated from their military academies but I found them rather rare. It is also something the SNCOs and ORs do as well, downunder, generally.

On the battlefield, this often coalesces. A good officer is one who listens to the options open to him and then decides which he believes is the best. His best confidante is his Batman (usually the senior most private in his unit who has many years of experience under his belt) who he can talk to privately and if he's smart will listen to the advice offered. His best and only real subordinate is his Platoon Sergeant, who will advise him on the best course of action. Don't think he abdicates command, however he bases his commands on good advice. There is nothing so wet as a Lieutenant fresh from ADFA/Duntroon.

All soldiers, without exception, go through Infantry IET (Initial Employment Training) where they learn Section minor tactics. Those that pay attention (and they don't really have much choice) learn how to conduct themselves in a Contact or an Ambush, how to conduct an Attack and how to prepare a Defence, as well as how to Patrol. We were once a light infantry army, nowadays because of the increased lethality of Artillery and IEDs we are a mechanised army, with light armoured support. We once walked everywhere, nowadays we ride and then walk to carry out our operations. We interact with the locals, we talk to them, we don't talk down to them. We help them when they have trouble. We are friendly, 'cause the locals are the ones who warn us about IEDs, about potential ambushers and ambushes.

What surprised me about Iraq II was when Petraeus took over the explosion of ideas and thinking that came from the lower ranks there. Suddenly new, different ways of conducting the counter-insurgency campaign appeared and were tried. Some were successful, some weren't. Obviously the US Army junior ranks had been thinking about what they had been doing was wrong and try different things they had thought about. So, obviously the US Army wasn't exclusively focused on the War of the Big Battalions.

As already mentioned, we focus on COIN or counter-revolutionary warfare but not exclusively. It's 'cause that is the sort of conflicts we are most involved with. It is the basis on which all other tactics are built. It ensures that small units know what they are doing, how to do it and from there, their commanders can co-ordinate their actions, whether the enemy is a dirty, sneaky, insurgent hiding in a tunnel somewhere or a big bad regular soldier riding around in an APC. We conduct section, platoon, company, battalion, brigade exercises regularly. Each builds on the lessons learnt in the lower level exercises. It has done us well whenever our units are invited to exercise in the US with the US Army or Marines. We have defeated the US Army's OPFOR units, something the US units they were exercising with, couldn't.

It maybe that the US Army has become lazy, as has been suggested, relying on the largess of the US treasury to cover them with expensive and specialised equipment. I know that when I went on exercise, we were constantly bombarded with stories of how US soldiers were able to write this or that off with ease, whereas we would be covered in mounds of paperwork and face disciplinary matters if we damaged rather than lost an item.
 

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marauder2048 said:
It's a lot of factual and historical inaccuracies marshalled to support a questionable thesis. Some of my favorites inaccuracies:

In 1950 a North Korean division that had been reduced to brigade size attacked into a USMC division's attack

There was only one USMC division in Korea in 1950 and the only divisional level attack was Inchon where infiltrators played
little part.

"divisions" is plural
"a division's" means that it was one division doing it
"divisions' " would have meant that several divisions did it

But to be honest; I don't remember which formations were involved exactly and am not in the mood to look it up.

various ground attack aircraft and helicopters within a few minutes to bring their firepower to bear on the NVA
Average response time for ground attack aircraft in Vietnam was nearly an hour. It was longer for helicopters.

This was a tactical vignette, and the minutes were about how much time was allowed for devising and writing the answer (orders).

the Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires and dragoons are important in then modern warfare
It's pretty much why the Germans prevalied in the Battle of the Frontiers in WWI.

WWI trench warfare wasn't about long range rifle fires, though.
 

marauder2048

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lastdingo said:
:

In 1950 a North Korean division that had been reduced to brigade size attacked into a USMC division's attack

There was only one USMC division in Korea in 1950 and the only divisional level attack was Inchon where infiltrators played
little part.

"divisions" is plural
"a division's" means that it was one division doing it
"divisions' " would have meant that several divisions did it

But to be honest; I don't remember which formations were involved exactly and am not in the mood to look it up.

Why the punctuation lesson? It was clear that you were being deliberately vague but I'll accept
your claim that it was due to recall and not a willful intent to mislead.

lastdingo said:
:

various ground attack aircraft and helicopters within a few minutes to bring their firepower to bear on the NVA
Average response time for ground attack aircraft in Vietnam was nearly an hour. It was longer for helicopters.

This was a tactical vignette, and the minutes were about how much time was allowed for devising and writing the answer (orders).

Hence my curiosity at a wartime tactical vignette that did not incorporate actual CAS response times.
Particularly an Army tactical vignette since the Air Force tended to embed FACs only at the battalion
level. The Marines did embed FACs at the company level but given the paucity of attack helicopters and
artillery allocated to Marine units throughout the conflict what's described would be a pretty atypical vignette.

lastdingo said:
:
The Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires and dragoons are important in then modern warfare
It's pretty much why the Germans prevalied in the Battle of the Frontiers in WWI.

WWI trench warfare wasn't about long range rifle fires, though.

Except that WWI was not strictly trench warfare as German victory in the East demonstrates.
Since most of the artillery was allocated for the West, it was largely down to infantry fires albeit
enabled by some innovative and efficient artillery.
 

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WWI was very largely trench warfare in Europe, including on the Eastern Front. Trench lines weren't as deep or as continuous as on the Western Front, but fronts were at a standstill most of the time, and that had to be broken by assaulting into trenches during offensives.

Moreover, I wrote about rifle fire. During WWI the long range fires with bullets were overwhelmingly done with tripod-mounted heavy machineguns, whereas the Boer War lessons emphasized the importance of rifle long range fires. The entire Boer War experience was very misleading. I once saw a book describing it and some lessons from it. It did correctly point out the importance on flanking, but flanking became very hard once continuous trench systems were established.

The siege of Port Arthur was MUCH more educating for most soon-to-be-WWI-officers than the Boer Wars.

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

You write about Marines in the vignette part. I stated that the vignette was an old one from the Infantry Magazine. Clarification: That's an Army publication.
http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/#
The reply was about U.S. infantry in general, not exclusively Marines.

I brought that vignette up as anecdotal evidence of the mindset at the time. It doesn't matter for this whether such resources were really on hand in a timely fashion. I guarantee you the North Vietnamese did not use such vignettes to prepare their infantry company COs. They had to use entirely different mindsets, and focus on many different skills because of their scarce resources.
 

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https://special-ops.org/news/army/us-military-might-not-best-world-anymore-tactical-level/
 

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We are straying a little I fear into WWI. I'll simply point out, on the Western and Southern Fronts (Belgium, France and Italy) trench warfare only really last for about 2-2.5 years. From about mid-1915 until the end of 1917. Before that and after that, the trench lines were largely broken and manoeuvre warfare undertaken. In 1914-15 long range rifle was important, simply because there weren't all that many MMGs and no LMGs to go 'round. In 1918, there were enough LMGs for the Western Allies to allow them to be used, in concert with rifles and grenades to allow trenches to be cleared. The Germans were never able to supply sufficient LMGs to their forces.

The Boer War is an interesting war. The British Army drew some interesting lessons about firepower from that conflict. They were poised in 1914 as a consequence to adopt a semi-automatic rifle which was deemed necessary after their experience against the Boers. LMGs were in their infancy, while MMGs were well developed but not in wide spread use. The Boer War also the development of field artillery and heavy artillery for the British and the French (their famous "75" for example) as well as the ability to use it in indirect fire. Interestingly there were also the wrong lessons drawn from that conflict. The use of the Lance, the Sabre. the Bayonet all assumed renewed importance, as did the cavalryman. A lot of that blame can be laid at the feet of Sir John French and to lesser extent, Haig, both Cavalrymen par excellence.

The Boer War was the latest conflict the British Army had been involved in and early on they had nearly lost it because their men and officers couldn't navigate, couldn't use their rifles correctly and their artillery was woeful, particularly when compared to the Boers. The Russo-Japanese war was too far away and involved the Russians and the Japanese, not the British or the French. BTW, Karl Marx wrote extensively about the Russo-Japanese war as a war correspondent in England.
 

marauder2048

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lastdingo said:
Moreover, I wrote about rifle fire.

You didn't actually. You wrote:

lastdingo said:
similar to how the Boer Wars conveyed the impression that long-range infantry fires

lastdingo said:
You write about Marines in the vignette part. I stated that the vignette was an old one from the Infantry Magazine. Clarification: That's an Army publication.
http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/#
The reply was about U.S. infantry in general, not exclusively Marines.

I brought that vignette up as anecdotal evidence of the mindset at the time. It doesn't matter for this whether such resources were really on hand in a timely fashion.


I'm struggling to find this anecdotal vignette. Given the wartime forward observer attrition rate, it was
a recurring theme to provide the company commander with greater familiarity in coordinating
and especially adjusting fires. Given how ineffective foot pursuit or pursuit by infantry fires was against
the VC/NVA (as the Australians repeatedly proved in Phuoc Tuy btw) it was particularly important.

I guarantee you the North Vietnamese did not use such vignettes to prepare their infantry company COs. They had to use entirely different mindsets, and focus on many different skills because of their scarce resources.

Doesn't square with actual NVA training or just about any account of their provisioning resource wise.
The Vietcong had a much less formal training and were not as well provisioned.

And also contradictory since the mindset decried/described above reflects a focus on many different skills.
 

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bobbymike said:
https://special-ops.org/news/army/us-military-might-not-best-world-anymore-tactical-level/

Thank you fpr posting such an important article.
 

lastdingo

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Khadija, Marx may have written about the Crimea War. He was dead long before the Boer wars.

marauder;
I meant rifle fires, and some face saving;
by the time of the Boer Wars, machinegunners were not quite considered infantry and I wrote "WWI trench warfare wasn't about long range rifle fires, though.".

I'm not sure what you mean by NVA provisioning. They sure didn't have as much artillery support or air support as American forces. Decent artillery support became available to especially the northern front NVA forces in the final years (and in the previous war against the French), but before that they had to fight as light infantry with little combined arms benefits.
 

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marauder2048 said:
Doesn't square with actual NVA training or just about any account of their provisioning resource wise.

As in any war, it depends upon which period you are talking about. The PAVN was quite well "provisioned" particularly when compared to their NLF counterparts. The PAVN was very well provisioned after about 1970. The NLF slight better, particularly the units which had had their ranks filled with PAVN soldiers. After 1972, both groups were much better off, yet again.

The Vietcong had a much less formal training and were not as well provisioned.

Again, it depends upon which period you're talking about and whether your talking about local force, main force or regular force units. Until about 1968, NLF units tended to be fairly poorly equipped and trained but after '68, it all starts to change and improve. After the defeat in the Tet'68 Offensive, most NLF units were decimated and had their ranks filled with PAVN soldiers who were generally better trained, better equipped and better commanded than NLF forces generally had been.

At the bottom rung, of course there was the local force units, made up of volunteers who still had a day job, while their night job was supporting the Revolution. They were generally, poorly equipped and trained. Main Force units had given up their day jobs generally and fled into the jungle but were still largely volunteers in the South. Equipment and training was spotty at best, with some good to excellent units and many poor ones as well. Regular force units had generally been given at least some training and some good equipment, with their ranks often filled out with members of the PAVN who had come down the Trail from the North.
 
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