2014/09/22

Some Pyro MilPorn

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Smoke dischargers are nothing new - the first ones were seen in 1940 AFAIK - but they keep evolving in regard to rapidity of the smoke screening and the effectiveness against IR sensors (and rumoured; radars).

They're nowhere near optimum, though; most smoke discharger models are soft (vulnerable to mere bullets), installations such as ROSY-L on a roof compete for scarce roof area and obstruct the field of view of the commander or of sensors (which then need to be raised). The quantity of ready for discharge smoke ammunition is rather disappointing as well; often times only two full smoke screens per vehicle. MBTs which manoeuvre in platoons or companies may make use of smoke screens created by others, but at the very least reconnaissance vehicles should have much more ready for discharge smoke ammunition.* I consider this to be a typical peacetime negligence.

S O

*: BTW, some Western tanks have no VESS (vehicle exhaust smoke system - a simple injection of diesel into the hot exhaust, creating a visible spectrum smoke cloud). This is still not irrelevant.
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2014/09/21

"Special" forces

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Back in the Second World War about 85% of German army divisions were barely different from First World War divisions; horse-drawn carts and guns, merely hundreds of motor vehicles for about 15,000 men. There were also fast divisions (tank, mechanised infantry and motorised infantry) and a few mountain, paratrooper (Luftwaffe) and very, very few horse cavalry formations. 
Nowadays the old divisions of the line (old model infantry divisions) disappeared without successor. There are now only fast troops, some of them being motorised infantry brigades with "mountain" or "paratrooper" title and some respective training. The relevance of parachute drops and high altitude mountain climbing for collective (alliance) defence can easily be questioned.
The German special forces in a more restricted sense are the navy's frogmen and the army's KSK, especially the latter received a lot of attention for what were effectively a few dozen of deployable infantrymen.
 

A concentration of talent in more or less few and small "special forces" has been criticised thoroughly, and in many countries so.* The regular infantry gets deprived of this talent (especially in regard to NCOs) and superiors lose confidence in regular infantry's ability to conduct difficult missions. It has been observed that after a thorough inflation of USSOCOM and various SAS establishments superiors begun to think of former normal infantry missions such as raiding, infiltration or snatching prisoners as missions only the special forces were capable of (or usable for in practice).
There was in the end likely no substantial net improvement of capabilities by forming or enlarging the special forces.


I'd like to point out two alternative approaches for how to generate small units for extremely demanding missions - without weakening the regular force.

(a) Ad hoc special platoons
Battalions are very much able to identify their best men. A battalion commanding officer who was told to set up a commando platoon for a special mission in three weeks could easily do so, preparing 50 chosen men for a mission requiring 30 fit men with specific non-standard training skills in three weeks.**
The availability of suitable men for such an ad hoc team can be bolstered by allowing regular infantrymen (or others) to attend courses (climbing, parachuting, skiing, horsemanship, tracking, languages etc.). Their small units benefit from what knowledge these men transfer after their return.
This (attending of courses) happens already (Ranger or Einzelkämpfer courses, for example), but it could be made more oriented towards providing a pool of semi-prepared men for such ad hoc special platoons.

(b) Organic specialised platoons
There are sniper platoons in some countries' infantry battalions, and mountain guide/high altitude alpine platoons on some mountain infantry battalions. Such expert pools don't deprive the regular force nearly as much of talent and expertise as do stand-alone special forces establishments. An expert platoon is still available for the rest of the battalion as trainers, examples, safety officers, umpires and reinforcements (guides).

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.: I chose the humoristic if not mocking graphics to counteract the idolization that special forces normally enjoy.

*: Their contribution to WW2 was rather unimportant, save for the Italian frogmen's efforts.
**: You may disagree. In this case, you should check whether your expectations for regular infantry quality may be too much influenced by talent-deprived, too personnel fluctuation-riddled or poorly trained regular infantry.
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2014/09/20

A small history of the armour race

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Rolls Royce armoured car, designed 1914
(c) Hohum

The first armoured pars were created prior to the First World War and their armour was considered effective against rifle bullets. Machine guns weren't a major concern yet and the armoured cars themselves weren't a major concern either, so no dedicated armour-piercing (steel core) cartridges were introduced to meet the threat.

The next step were actual tracked (tracklaying) armoured vehicles, "tanks" (1916). Their armour was considered effective against the powerful rifles used by snipers to penetrate observers' and other snipers' protective steel plates in static warfare. The bulletproofing was effective enough that even steel core bullets of standard calibres were unsatisfactory. Even a special 13.2 mm calibre proved to be only moderately convincing.
These tanks were at no point shell-proof, though. Mountain guns (mostly cannons at the time) proved to be mobile and deadly enough against tanks, for example. The armour plates were so thin that normal high explosive shells with delay action fuse sufficed for a kill.

Char B-1bis, (c) Igor Kurtukov
The 1920's saw effectively no advance in applied tank technology, though the advance in component technology (gearboxes) was substantial. A top speed of 30 kph became normal only around 1930, and actual shell-proofing of tanks only in the late 1930's with the B-1bis and soon thereafter the Matilda II (but many other new tank types and versions were even in the late 1930's only bulletproofed). This development devalued the by then ubiquitous light anti-tank guns of 25-47 mm calibre.

The armour race during the Second World War is widely known, so I'd just like to point out that early in WW2 the Soviets didn't believe the Germans' claim that their best tanks were the Pzkpfw III and IV models, since the armour schemes of their own T-50/T-34 and KW-1 developments were much more ambitious and they expected a proper counterpart. The Germans in turn were largely ignorant about this new development and as unpleasantly surprised on the battlefield as already in 1940 by the Matilda II and B-1bis.
T-44 armour scheme
The glacis was almost impenetrable due to thickness and slope.
The end point in WW2 was very heavy armour on very heavy tanks and very smart armour schemes on some tank designs of medium (T-44) or light weight (Jagdpanzer Hetzer / G-13). The introduction of shaped charges during the Second World War introduced an entirely new principle of armour penetration, and a brute force approach of high explosive squash head / high explosive plastic was invented as well. The by then three principles of armour penetration made the development of an armour scheme much more difficult.
Yet again, wartime tanks lingered on and little happened in the immediate post-war time.

The Korean War did little but teach Americans respect for the T-34/85. The long overdue replacement of the original Bazooka and some early 57 mm recoilless guns by larger calibre weapons was triggered.

The first post-war designs of the West mostly used British 17 or 20 pdr cannons or American 76 or 90 mm cannons. All of these proved to be unsatisfactory once a T-54 tank (an upgunned T-44) was driven onto a Western embassy during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and measured. Only then did the West understand (again) that the Soviets weren't striving for satisfactory armour protection only on their heavy tanks such as T-10. Their medium tanks were well-protected as well. The response was the 105 mm L7 gun, the first de facto standard tank gun of NATO.
The T-62 arrived soon thereafter, and was well-respected after the T-54 shock. The Israelis soon learned that its armour protection was actually not substantially better than the T-54/-55 series'. The resistance to HESH had been improved by the Russians during the late 50's, though.

T-64
The Russians had kept a calibre superiority for most of the time since 1940, going from 76.2 mm to 85 mm to 100 mm to 115 mm calibre* in their medium tanks. The T-64 and T-72 series finally employed the 125 mm calibre which is still in use today and still larger than the Western one's.

Yet again their adversaries misunderstood their armour: The T-64 and T-72 tanks retained the cast, rounded turret armour which doesn't suit itself well to non-steel inserts, and the West thus expected homogeneous armour. There were inserts, though. As a result, the West was fooled into believing that 105 mm was still satisfactory and kept this calibre longer, the Americans well into the 90's (M1A1 Abrams with 120 mm appeared in the 80's, but USMC kept the M60 into the 90's).
It was the Germans who distrusted this and created the new smoothbore 120 mm calibre during their Leopard 2 main battle tank development, which became de facto NATO standard.

The Leopard 2 was also the first MBT of a new Western generation, which challenged the Soviet 125 mm calibre to its limits with a turret front and glacis protection strong enough (due to the new so-called Chobham armour scheme). This kept 125 mm munitions in check throughout the 80's, but by the end of the Cold War refined Soviet penetrators had caught up, and some Western Chobham armour generation tanks were upgraded with stronger turret front armour.
The Chobham armour generation tanks had a risky bet running; their designers did bet that the enemy was in front of the hull or turret. This was risky, as the relatively mobile tank tactics of this tank generation made use of much movement, so the hull sides were exposed to a single point of threat not only during surprise contacts, but also during regular movements on the battlefield (Wedelfahrt, S-line movements). The Soviet designs had a bit less of a problem with this since the autoloader and reduced maximum crew member sizes allowed for a lower hull and their smaller turrets were protected against a wider arc.

T-72 covered in ERA tiles
Yet again the Soviets had fooled the rest of the world in another aspect; their introduction of explosive reactive armour tiles (another early adopter was Israel) devalued most in-service shaped charge munitions. Western companies kept developing and offering new but already obsolete single stage HEAT warhead munitions well into the 1980's. Germany introduced its answer to T-64/T-72 - the Panzerfaust 3 - only after the Cold War, then obsolete against the latest Soviet/Russian armour since a decade already.**

Western armour faced Soviet-made Iraqi armour at the end of the Cold War, and killed it easily for many reasons - including the fact that its protection levels ranged from Soviet 50's to Soviet 70's armour grades, and met Western anti-tank weapons meant to penetrate Soviet 70's armour. This misled the public more about the relative strengths of Western and Soviet/Russian armour than it did mislead the experts, of course.

And again, even though the Cold War was no World War, tank development lapsed afterwards, with no all-new main battle tank developed since in Europe or North America.Upgrade packages and new munitions were introduced, though. The Russians finally met a design ceiling of their 125 mm calibre; the new long rod penetrators were restricted in length growth by the two-piece ammunition of the 125 mm calibre.

up-armoured Challenger 2, post-2003
The conflicts of the post-2002 period have broken up the late Cold war's paradigm of 'front armour first'; the protection of the sides and rear against shaped charges, the belly against mines and the roof against bomblets has been increased on many tanks with upgrades. The side protection against shaped charge threats doesn't appear to be overpowering, though; 105 mm and especially the even larger calibres of HEAT appear to still be capable of penetrations.****

Neither hyper velocity missiles nor larger calibres (Western 140 mm, Russian 135 or 152 mm) were introduced into service. A longer 120 mm (L/55) gun, replacement of old 105 mm-armed MBTs by mostly second hand 120 mm-armed MBTs and new 120 mm APFSDS munitions were the increases of armour penetration capability instead.
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Are there any lessons? Well, I think so. 

The armour protection of the Soviets (a closed society) were typically underestimated for a meaningful period after every substantial improvement. NATO had unsatisfactory penetrative power against top-of-the-line Soviet tanks during much if not most of the Cold War.

Penetration advances were furthermore always reactive to armour increases; there was never a new weapon introduced for the sole purpose of getting a much better penetration capability while the present in-service penetration capability was considered satisfactory. This happened with munitions at times, but not with guns.

Armour protection was never truly satisfactory without sacrificing mobility. There have always been weak spots and at least some common threat munitions were at all times capable of penetrating weak spots (even frontal ones, such as the gunner's sight).
It's also noteworthy that even tanks with impervious plating would still have mission-critical vulnerable exterior equipment. A hit on sights, running gear or the cannon barrel would still result in a mission kill. This does to some extent discourage a tank design priority on protection over firepower and mobility unless a zero casualty mindset dominates during a war of occupation.

S O

*: Facing mostly 50 mm/short 75 mm, 75 mm, 76 mm/17pdr, 105 mm respectively.
**: This is an as embarrassing story as the Keiler's.
***: (excluding the Merkava and to some degree the Challenger) 
****:  A shaped charge's penetration is roughly proportional to its diameter at a given state of technology. It began with 1:1 and was improved to beyond 7:1. Another important variable is the liner material, with tantalum being much better and much more expensive than copper. Tantalum is considered reasonable only for PGMs.
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2014/09/19

Let's respect Russian anti-ship missiles more

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(The coordinated double impact scene is also here).

This isn't Styx any more. The Russians are vastly superior in AShM choices, though as always it's the electronics and software inside that may make the bigger difference.
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Campaign volunteers

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Decision-making should involve at least an attempt of weighing up pro and contra; of trying to get the cost/benefit ratio right. But not all costs matter. There are always both relevant and irrelevant costs; sunk costs are irrelevant costs, for example.

Now let's assume some soldiers or reservists volunteer for a campaign. This would be an individual-level decision, and a government's decision could then be limited to the four options
(1) government-run expedition
(2) covert government-run expedition
(3) ignoring it
(4) criminal prosecution after the fact*

That's a very different decision than a political 'war or peace' decision involving a military only.

The price of casualties amongst the troops would probably need to be appraised differently than in the plain 'war or peace' case, as the volunteers would have made that decision for themselves already, based on their individual preferences which are unknown to the government.**

The flow of legitimacy is upwards from the voter to the candidates in a democracy, because the voters know their preferences and add their vote to the overall pool of votes.
One might reason that the flow of legitimacy about the decision whether individuals can go to war cannot be in the reverse direction because again the voters (volunteers) act based on their preferences which are unknown to everyone else. So nobody else could make a better decision for them.
An exception would be if their action would harm the rest of the society, such as through worsened foreign relations, retributions or the fiscal costs of a (para)military operation.

The government can thus not claim to make a better decision on behalf of the volunteers themselves - it can only claim to make a better decision on behalf of other citizens who might be affected.

Volunteer forces were somewhat popular in the past, with the (case 2) American Volunteer Group and (case 3) Eagle Squadrons being examples. There are also thousands of case (3) and (4) examples of so-called jihadists right now and the insurrection in the Eastern Ukraine may be a case (2) on more than only the Ukrainian side.

Mercenaries and volunteer foreign fighters aren't merely an approach to feign neutrality of their country's government; they do require a very different ethical and practical decision-making on part of the government.

Plausible deniability is important though, as the United Nations' General Assembly defined aggression in 1974, including this quote:

(g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.
That is, unless you are sure some UNSC veto will protect your government from official international repercussions. Plausible deniability doesn't help against unofficial backlash anyway.



The employment of actual volunteer contingents could become an important foreign policy tool in the decades to come when governments attempt to disassociate themselves from backlash-inducing meddling. It may also already be a major challenge, as governments strive to suppress unwanted mercenary and foreign fighter activities.

S O

*: Some countries outlaw mercenary activity in itself.
**: This is a rather important facet of economic theory. Some perfect outcomes are impossible in practice because of the inability to use a god-like knowledge about the people's preferences. You need to know preferences for a perfect allocation of resources, for example. Markets and democratic elections or plebiscites are tools to reach outcomes based on at least a decentralised consideration of preferences.
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2014/09/18

Fear, oh this fear!

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Fearful pussies mistaking themselves for decisive men.


related:


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: Guess who inspired this one!
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2014/09/17

A war can break a society

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"I’ve realized that most Americans don’t understand that Iraq used to be a modern, Westernized and secular country. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Iraq’s neighbors looked to it as the example. People from different Arab countries came to Iraq to attend university. The country had an excellent education system, great health care, and Iraq was rich — not the richest, but rich.

Of course, Iraq is not like this today.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait, 24 years ago last month, the United States destroyed most of Iraq’s infrastructure during the Persian Gulf War. Bridges were bombed, along with power stations, railroads, dams and oil refineries. (...)
Gradually, people also began turning to religion as a result of all the hardships. Religion changed the country: more censorship, more rules, more rigidity. Alcohol, which was once widely accepted, was frowned upon. Mainstream TV shows and movies — even cartoons — were censored to remove kissing scenes, partial nudity and other elements viewed as immoral."
source: Article by he Washington Post 

I think he underplays the effects of the eight years of Gulf War in the 80's because that's not so interesting for the newspaper's readers. Still, it's an example for how wars break countries, and may set them back by a generation or more or destroy achievements forever.

European societies involved in both World Wars regained its health from 1911 only in the 60's, if at all. Some nations waited till well after the end of the Cold War for a full recovery.

The article also points out how unexpected such disastrous consequences can be and how bad inelegant warfare is.*

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: The five rings, typical Western air campaign plans and just about everything in air war strategy is bullshit. I don't have a cure-all alternative, but this gives a hint about how I approach the problem.
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2014/09/14

The Economist: "The humble hero"

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The Economist, May 18th 2013
 
THE humble shipping container is a powerful antidote to economic pessimism and fears of slowing innovation. Although only a simple metal box, it has transformed global trade. In fact, new research suggests that the container has been more of a driver of globalisation than all trade agreements in the past 50 years taken together.



This is similar to how the myth of a very successful and essential Marshall Plan distorted perceptions towards the assumption that economies can be kickstarted with foreign aid (it wasn't that important). The belief in free trade is almost religious in some people (and especially so if their pay check depends on it).

An article about the importance of containerisation for maritime trade also reminds me of the containerisation issues of the military.
I won't write about this before I've done some more research, though. I haven't seen from the inside in a while how things are done. Most Western military forces seem to under-appreciate articulated lorry logistics and fuel tank pallets/containers, though. Civilian long-range truck logistics are being dominated by articulated lorries, but they have traditionally only niches in army logistics (mostly as tank transporters and heavy fuel trucks). I feel the armed bureaucracies are missing out on something here.
It's always nice to figure out some ideal military truck logistics solution, but the bulk of the supplies would need to be hauled by civilian trucks if our alliances really need to defend themselves some day. A fleet mix between milspec and civilian trucks would be used. Compatibility (moving cargo from a civilian truck to a milspec truck for the final 200 km between corps logistics hub and consuming units) would be of major concern.

S O

edit: A link to info on the special air freight container types (LD series) and another link to measurements for the ocean shipping/trucking containers.

2014/09/10

Affordable combat aircraft

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Truly "affordable" combat aircraft projects don't look the way the JSF program did and does; there were actually affordable aircraft designs with which "affordable" wasn't just a marketing lie and eventually a running gag.

Some affordable combat aircraft have proven to be quite successful even if facing the high end combat aircraft of their own or even a later generation. How did they pull this off, was there any still valid trick?

For this text, I will consider the following example combat aircraft types as successful and "affordable":*

Saab Draken (Mach 2 interceptor, SWE)
Mirage V (Mach 2 ground attack, FRA)
A-4 Skyhawk (subsonic light fighter bomber, USA)
Folland Gnat (subsonic light fighter, UK)
MiG-21 (short-range Mach 2 interceptor, USSR)
SEPECAT Jaguar (supersonic ground attack, UK/France)
AMX (subsonic ground attack, ITA/BRA)
F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II (supersonic light fighter bomber, US)

F-5E in almost clean (dog fight) configuration


(a) Speed: Slowness is not a necessity. Plenty supersonic entries with afterburning turbojets (Jaguar: afterburning turbofans).
 
(b) Engines: Single engine is not a necessity (Jaguar and F-5 had two)
 
(c) Avionics: No really powerful radar in the list, but some small radars are in the list.
 
(d) Agility: Most aircraft in the list were known for fine agility, albeit the subsonic ones have poor thrust/mass and Draken/Mirage had good agility primarily at high altitude.

(e) Undercarriage: Mixed; some are equipped for grass airfields, others not. The Skyhawk undercarriage was even dangerously high.
 
(f) Crew: Only single seaters, albeit with two-seat trainer versions available.
 
(g) All-round view: Only AMX and early MiG-21 approached 360° field of view. Most had only about 320°; this allows for more usable internal volume behind the cockpit (avionics black boxes, fuel).
 
(h) Weight class: Some were distinctly lightweight in their generation (Skyhawk, AMX, F-5), the rest was at least clearly no "heavy" aircraft in their generation (compare Mirage and Phantom II or Thunderchief, for example).
 
(i) Leap-ahead technologies: Mirage V was a downgraded Mirage III, which was among the first of the Mach 2 generation and one of few pure delta fighters. Draken and MiG-21 were also 1st Mach 2 generation aircraft. Draken pioneered the double delta wing.
 
(j) Timing: Most examples are from the 50's or 60's. The 1970's Jaguar was "affordable" only in context of its era. The even later AMX was affordable, but not very successful; it was apparently too similar to the performance of armed jet trainers and the time-honoured A-4.
 
(k) Jointness: None of these was developed as a joint air force and navy aircraft, albeit there was a naval Jaguar version (not produced due to French egoism).
 
(l) Multinationality: Jaguar and AMX were bilateral development programs.
 
(m) Air combat armament: None had medium-range (Sparrow class) air-air-missiles

I didn't really hope to discover the secret of how to develop and produce a modern combat aircraft on the cheap, of course. The quick look at the historical examples shows there's not one obvious formula for success.
Not being a "heavy" aircraft is a no-brainer.
Limited avionics suites save bucks (best examples Mirage V, Jaguar), that's also a no-brainer.
Two engines or supersonic ambitions are no K.O. criterion - or weren't.

Maybe the way to an affordable aircraft is
(1) use existing engine(s)**, don't strive for thrust/mass overmatch***
(2) use a small to normal size airframe
(3) use few or normal performance combat avionics
(4) two-seat versions primarily for training, not as main version
(5) good agility within the thrust/mass limitation

The rise of medium range air combat missiles and the growing importance of combat avionics for survival and targeting pose challenges for this 'recipe', though. Furthermore, even aircraft such as Jaguar and AMX were from their start badly challenged in their main roles by the rise of ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-air guns.

S O

*: This list skips trainer-based aircraft and specialised ground attack aircraft because I suppose that truly affordable combat aircraft are an attractive option for small air forces, but specialised ground attack aircraft without a good deal of air2air capability are only good for civil wars. F-16 wasn't included because of the more low-cost F-5.
**: Jaguar didn't. Jaguar was kept in the list mostly for having a modest approach towards avionics.
***: F-16 did, and was almost certainly less cost-efficient than the older F-5 throughout the 80's.
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2014/09/09

Our addictions

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A recurring irritation to me in close air support discussions is that Americans assert that you absolutely need the ability of an CAS aircraft to swoop down and strafe targets barely outside of hand grenade throwing distance to friendlies. This has always been a curious assertion, because there's exactly one military in the world which places enough emphasis on this alleged necessity to maintain much of this capability (or something resembling it). The Russians have a similar aircraft, but its preferred ammunitions demand a much greater minimum distance.
It's obviously no universal necessity. In fact, the USAF has just like the Soviets/Russians begun to use its dedicated CAS aircraft almost exclusively at above 15,000 ft long ago.
But this is not a unique phenomenon; perceiving something as a necessity that's not really necessary. All Western military forces are hooked up on some capabilities and items which are rather "nice to have" than "necessary".

An example would be dentists. There's absolutely no need for them in a military. You can send your bad teeth owners to civilian dentists instead.

What about all those more or less small 4x4 passenger vehicles? Most of the time there's but one or two men in them, they could just as well ride a motorcycle. This motorcycle could be attached to some truck when not needed, saving on the share of drivers in a unit and cutting down convoy lengths. Having them ride a real truck (with much payload) instead would cut down on convoy size (and driver requirements) as well.

Battlefield helicopters. How exactly did armies fight wars when there were none? More ambulance cars. Helicopters may turn out to be utterly non-survivable in a conflict between great powers anyway; the contrary has at least never been proved. They are weather-dependent as well, so you actually need a full size ambulance car backup.

Anti-tank guided missiles. Why exactly do we need them? Main battle tanks have guns to deal with their kind, and dismounted troops' best bet to survive hostile MBTs is to stay out of their line of sight anyway; hide in buildings or woodland, or in ditches. ATGMs and their predecessors, the anti-tank guns, have a mixed historical record at best, with great success only against poorly led or otherwise inferior quality tank forces. Modern ATGMs appear to be overwhelmed by current ATGM countermeasures (save for HVMs).

Infantry weapons with more than 300 metres range. Only idiots or completely unaware hostiles will expose themselves to detection at greater ranges than 300 metres. I personally suck at spotting 'hostiles' even as close as 100 metres and can hide myself from their view within 20 metres on many different terrains. Even while moving, exposure can often be kept insufficient for detection until one is within 50-100 metres or so. The few inept hostiles who will expose themselves at 400+ metres will catch a bullet quite soon anyway, so why is the hurry to do it at such a range already? It's true, allied forces have repeatedly complained that they were unable to return PKM fire effectively if the enemy was far away, but I've yet to see a report claiming that a PKM's fire was actually effective at such a range in the first place. Ammunition is not meant for mere psychological relief.

Lavish logistical support. Not too long ago, drivers were also mechanics. The maintenance and repair of their vehicle was part of their driver's training. Somehow this was (mostly) lost to modern army wheeled vehicle crews. Workshops should be limited to repair badly mauled vehicles; even an engine and gearbox exchange can be done by a trained vehicle crew if the truck is designed for it. You don't need a workshop for it. I've seen a lot of awesome improvisations for lifting engines out of vehicles or raising vehicles from the ground for working underneath.
The same applies to supply services. Many mobile actions run out of steam after four days due to physical and psychical exhaustion of the troops anyway (officers even more than others). Supply columns usually arrive no more often than every second day. Why not simply operate in four-day bounds, and carry five days worth of supplies within the unit? The serially emptied supplies-carrying vehicles could be sent back in small packets (loaded with lightly wounded, prisoners, captured material and material in need of rear area repair) every day, and return on about every fourth day with new supplies.

Voice radio with its relatively high bandwidth requirements. I'm no SMS typing artist, but I've seen girls typing incredibly fast. They sure don't need voice to communicate almost as quick as I do with voice. And modern software is able to recognize spoken words and turn them into written text.
I've never liked voice (analogue) radio anyway. Didn't understand much among all those static sounds. Modern digital radios are better and can compress data, but text messages would still only require a tiny fraction of the bandwidth and make jamming more difficult.

Full motorization with military vehicles. Why is that? We used to be able to supplant the army with civilian vehicles in times of need. Is any conflict bad enough to send men to die, but not bad enough to commandeer some civilian trucks? There are now many more civilian 4x4 vehicles in Germany than the Wehrmacht had motor vehicles in 1938. More than we have trained soldiers and reservists in their best years. The same goes for trucks. Why do we even bother with dedicated military vehicle standards if the vehicles used on soft soil construction sites and in forestry greatly outnumber the military vehicles? Sure, military vehicles drive little and shall be used for decades, but this only means some components need to be revised for greater life, not entirely different vehicle designs. Civilian trucking is almost all about semi-trailers - how many semi-trailers apart from tank transports did you ever see in an army? Aren't the palletized load systems of the military world (MULTI/DROPS/PLS) incompatible with at least some of the systems used by the civilian trucks which handle the trash containers on construction sites?

Backup pistols. An idea from "white" anglophone countries that the rest of the world doesn't quite consider a necessity. Pistols have a mere policing role in the German army, for example.

Large staffs. It's about time to destroy the entire modern idea of staffs and re-start back at WW2 staff sizes, when an army group HQ resembled a modern times' divisional HQ (some Western divisional HQs broke the 1,000 personnel mark years ago, though modern-time Bundeswehr Div HQs are smaller). Corps HQs including security and signallers were company-sized and divisional HQs were platoon-sized with a mere dozen officers. Our brigade HQs should be smaller than our present battalion HQs are.
Smaller staffs are quicker staffs, and they're forced to focus on what matters much. Leaders had to ensure that mostly high-performing officers served on their staff and much bullshit was impossible for want of staff manpower. Civilian product development practice (such as software projects) revealed that development teams of sizes up to 40 make much sense, with time required for communication growing too much with larger teams. I'm quite sure there were plenty parallel observations done on military staffs.


You don't agree with the examples? No problem, the examples aren't the point. Think for yourself; what's really necessary and what's merely luxury we got used to?

S O
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