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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE MRAP DEBATE CONTINUES

Someone recently sent me a link to a discussion being held on the pros and cons of MRAPs in combat theatres.

Whereas everyone partaking contributed valuable input into the mentioned debate, it seems to me that we may have lost the plot along the way.

The MRAP (along with the older MPV) was designed and built to deliver troops to an area in relative safety from landmines and IEDs. This required the MRAPs/MPVs to have a very good cross-country ability and thereby prevent the troops from being road-bound at all times. Additionally, sappers were used to clear the roads of mines/IEDs.

The MRAP/MPV was not developed as a wheeled safety cocoon from which the troops had to fight. It was meant to be a method of delivery to a starting point for aggressive combat patrolling but it gave some protection to the troops enroute to the starting point. The standard ambush drills were very effective if coming under fire enroute to the delivery point as they allowed the troops to immediately retaliate with fire – and debus as soon as possible and fight from the ground.

The MPVs were armed with 7, 62 mm Browning MGs in order to give fire support to the dismounted infantry – not to lead the fight or hold ground. This basic principle of deployment remains as applicable today as it was in years gone by.

Wars and conflicts are won by men on the ground, implementing sound strategies with good tactics and taking the fight to the enemy. Wars have not, and will never been won by “dominating” the roads and ignoring the rest of the terrain.

Given the firepower we have allowed the enemy to amass, and the lessons we have taught him (I think it was Napoleon who said: Never fight a single enemy for too long as you will teach him all you know) we need to be able to deliver troops relatively safely and fresh to a starting point for operations.

I recall that in the old-SADF we never had the air mobility we needed to deliver a large number of troops to a specific point to commence with area operations – hence our reliance on vehicles. In this process we learnt the following:

1. MPVs/MRAPs must be standardised to allow for ease of logistical support
2. MPVs/MRAPs must be simple to maintain and operate
3. Stay off the roads where possible
4. When bound to roads, clear the roads ahead of the vehicles
5. Dismounted infantry protection teams for the sappers are responsible for locating enemy ambush positions, trip wires, electrical cables, indications of enemy movement and so forth
6. The MPV/MRAP is a delivery system and not a fighting vehicle
7. Dismount and clear defiles before passing through them
8. Avoid routine
9. Follow immediate actions drills immediately and correctly
10. Good drivers are essential

A sound doctrine for the role of the MPVs/MRAPs is essential. There are immediate action drills in case of a landmine or IED and when coming into contact with the enemy. It was these very basic drills that saved my sappers and I when we got hit by a hefty landmine in 1980. Had we not been in an MPV, we would have all been killed. Had we not followed our drills, the casualties could have been rather heavy.

The MPVs/MRAPs were never designed to be infantry fighting vehicles. They were not built to dominate terrain – that is the task of infantry – on foot. Nor were they designed as a substitute for mechanised infantry fighting vehicles. That was not their role then and it is still not their role.

Personally, I believe that most modern MRAPs are over-designed, too heavy, too complicated to maintain and have lost the edge they ought to give the infantry. Likewise, the infantry are to blame for using these vehicles for roles they were never designed for.

I also believe that the MPV/MRAP is an ideal vehicle for motorised infantry, especially in COIN operations. However, its role in conventional warfare operations can, if used correctly and within the doctrine, prove to be invaluable.

A good driver can “idle” the vehicle cross-country and get to within 15 meters of the enemy before they are even aware that it is there. By then, the infantry have long debussed and formed into an assault line with the MPV acting as a mobile fire support base. If we could do that in the 1980s, there is no reason why it cannot be done today.

I am sure the debate about MPVs/MRAPs will continue for years to come but we need to define its role, develop the doctrine for operational deployment and make sure we abide by it. If we do this, the MPV/MRAP will do what it was meant to do: save lives and reduce casualties. Furthermore, it will remain an essential vehicle able to save lives especially in areas where landmines and IEDs are used.

However, if we continue to view the MPV/MRAP as an infantry fighting vehicle and keep to the roads with a predictable routine, we surrender any advantage it can give us.

31 comments:

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

This post ties directly to maneauver warfare - good points all, especially the ease of logistics.

I believe the genesis of infantry being carried into battle protected can be traced all the way back to the first versions of the British "lozenge" tanks that were stretched to carry a small infantry contingent. The effects by those tanks on the men was so fierce they could not fight upon dismounting. As for quiet... forget that one. It was WWI and attrition was definitely the mode of operation.

By extension your own country's history with the commando in the 1890's would drive us to thought for deployment in the era of the modern weapon - the machine gun/pom-pom being a changing technology of the 19th-20th century. More thoughts to come...Stryker etc..

Regards,
John

Lukeisaduke said...

So right Eeben. Do you think the USA is currently abusing the MRAP in Iraq or Afghanistan? If so what can they do better?

Thanks,

James

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Logistics is one aspect of warfare that is often neglected yet without it, we cannot conduct effective operations, John.

Getting our troops to the fight as fresh as possible is vitally important. However, we should not overlook the fact that many soldiers are involved in dominating terrain to counter insurgents and terrorists. That cannot be done off wheels.

Given the weapons and options an enemy has to counter vehicle movement, it should sound a warning to us to utilise our vehicle with caution. Having MRAPs is no guarantee that the enemy will not ambush or attack us.

I look forward to your thoughts on Stryker, etc.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not sure it is so much abusing as it is misusing the vehicles, James. However, this is not something only the US do – soldiers all over the world believe that if they are in an MRAP/MPV, they are safe from the enemy. I think the converse is true.

I suspect that vehicles are being used incorrectly and that we should not become over-reliant on them to do our jobs.

The fact is that they are lifesavers. Without MRAPs/MPVs I am sure casualties would hgave been much higher. But again, we need to inflict casualties on the enemy and we can only really do that dismounted.

Rgds,

Eeben

userdude said...

Hello Eeben,

It seems you are speaking specifically of an operation to execute a specific operation, in this case delivery of a fighting force to the location of an enemy force/camp, with the intention of engaging (and destroying) a target.

The reason I bring this up is I wonder about other situations:

* Transporting troops from base camp to base/other camp
* Patrols
* Force-strength convoys (for instance, as part of a protection detail)
* Counter-intelligence (as you noted)
* Attack operations (as you noted)

In the case of 2 and 4, to a degree these may be handled in such a way as to eliminate the need of troops transported in MRAP-like vehicles, although I'd be interested as to your thoughts about how these vehicles would actually be used in these scenarios (side note: how does a hulking beast like an MRAP sneak up on anything?).

Also, MRAPs remind me of the famous Higgins boats during the Normandy invasion: A means to an end, not a fighting platform. The whole point is to get the men out and in the fight, whether offensively or defensively. Another corollary could be a Blackhawk delivering a fighting force. Different means, same goal in a way: Get the troops there without walking/swimming. Or is that the goal?

However, scenarios 1 and 3 seem to suggest a plausible use of an MRAP, and I'm sure there are other scenarios (CASEVAC?).

Here in the States, through the media, MRAPs are pitched to the public as primarily IED-resistant alternatives to armored HUMVEES, which are obviously used for accomplishing or supporting all of these scenarios and more. When you have to move troops through hostile territory where there may not be an easy way to see and understand targets of attack, surviving the trip seems to be the point in rolling these out.

I've never really questioned this perception or wondered when or in what way these vehicles were actually useful. I know Petraeus famously got his fighting forces out of their HUMVEEs (and presumably MRAPs) and down on the ground, as you suggest should be done anyway. It's hard to secure, hold, and patrol an area from behind 10 inches of steel, 10 feet in the air; I can't imagine policing being an effective use of MRAPs.

My question, however, is: If you must travel through hostile territory where the enemy and civilians are often one and the same, or at least indistinguishable, do MRAPs have a role, even if there is no (anticipated) enemy on the other end? This was the role I envisioned them having in the Iraq war (I hear they are not so useful in Afghanistan, pesky mountains and all).

(Getting weird Google errors. Will try to submit one more time, hopefully you will get it.)

Thanks!
Jared

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

In brief, I believe MRAPs have an important role to play, Jared, BUT they need to be deployed correctly (doctrine) and not committed because they afford some protection. Without trying to sound like a stuck record, in the SADF of old, we used our MPVs to deliver troops from base to base, base to starting point, etc. But, again, all was done in accordance to doctrine coupled to threat and terrain. Combat engineers played a major role in securing the routes of landmines/IEDs. By illustration, during 1980/81 the Sappers cleared an average road distance of 19 600 km per month – on foot to secure routes.

As for vehicles being used to “sneak up” on targets: Many an ex-SADF soldier will tell you that correctly driven, they were often able to catch the enemy by surprise. But I think that today’s MRAPs are over-designed, overly heavy and require much more powerful engines to keep going – thus negating their ability in many fields. Yes, they are a means to an end but again, it depends on how we deploy them.

Using helicopters is always an option but when there are not enough helicopters to go around, MRAPs can play an important role. Ultimately, part of our deployment drills are to get the correct force, at the correct time and place, correctly equipped to do battle with the enemy.

I also think that we have neglected the use of light infantry – but that is another topic for discussion.

Depending on terrain, MRAPs can also be used effectively for border patrols/border protection. Obviously when we are faced with dense jungle or mountain terrain, they lose their value – but the infantryman on foot is supposed to move and fight across all terrain types.

Again, I believe that MRAPs/MPVs will continue to play an important role – especially when we need to move through areas where the enemy and the locals are intertwined. Good MRAPs/MPVs have good cross-country abilities so let’s stay off the roads and not be predictable. Also, let’s use our reconnaissance elements more effectively to do what they do best – locate the enemy.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Captain Napalm said...

Funny that the subject of logistics has come up as I have become interested in the topic and am looking for a book to begin my education. Unable to find any discussion boards on the topic, are there any recommended books?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Logistics is one of those areas we tend to neglect at times Captain Napalm, yet it is critical to our successes in any combat zone.

As I don’t really know of any good books on the subject, I would suggest that you take a look at the US Army’s FM-55 and FM-63 series of manuals as they do give a lot of coverage to the subject there.

I hope this helps in your research/studies.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Just a few thoughts regarding Stryker. The concept behind the vehicle is really based on rapid deployment of a certain level of armor and firepower, keeping a squad under protection until insertion. The vehicle is interesting in that it is a rebirth of the old 8-wheeled armored car of the wermacht in WW-II. Now kept as a rapid deployment vehicle with a follow-up from heavier support I believe it started off well suited for its role. It has grown though, carrying with it the disadvantage of wheeled transport as an IFV, in lieu of tracks, too heavy for heli-transport, top heavy, and too tempting to use as a strongpoint to stand against heavy armor or AT weaponry - a large target in close quarters. The addition of more capable weapons draws comparison to battlecruisers joining the van at Jutland after the deadly runs to the south and north. Tempring if a commander does not keep his wits or has poor local intelligence.
As an IFV in large open warfare in team with support armor and infantry I think it definitely has a place - but requires heavy logistics support typical of all modern western weapons systems. Very capable but requiring of love and attention.

Just a few thoughts from the sidelines

Regards,
John

P.S. Just saw "Blood Diamond" for the first time. Looks to me that Hollywood took a heck of a low shot at you. I'll have to crack open your work again to refresh the timelines in my head...

userdude said...

Hello Eeben,

Thank you for the more detailed explanation and additional comments. I'm thinking without reading the discussion that led you to make this blog post, I'm not going to completely comprehend in what way MRAPs/MPVs are being misused, in your opinion. I'm certain I'm being thickheaded. :)

At this point I think you're arguing there is a strategic flaw in the way MRAPs/MPVs are being deployed, at least in some cases.

Thank you for the response, as always.

Jared

Controlsaurus said...

Good article, again, Eeben.

I don't know whther you've hear about this book:

"A group of U.S. soldiers e-mailed their observations and experiences from Iraq, giving their candid opinions on fighting an insurgency.
"The resulting book is a compelling narrative that carries the reader into alleys. bunkers, and homes. It poses difficult questions about engaging with an enemy that hides amid — and targets — the civilian population."

http://www.nightcapatdawn.com/home

It should make for interesting reading.

All the best,
E

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very interesting thoughts on the Stryker, John. I believe the concept is sound but I do not really see the vehicle being deployed to operate entirely on its own. Wheeled vehicles also have some advantages to them but the weight/height you mention may be a negative on the vehicle.

As a Mech Inf vehicle, it will probably not be used to make a stand against armour – we had similar experiences with our old IFV the Ratel. Added to the variants was also a Ratel 90 sporting a 90mm gun to defend against armour if the need arose but as our doctrine advised, the Ratel was used to provide infantry support to armoured formations.

I think ultimately that the doctrine will advise on how best to deploy the system but I agree that a commander may be tempted to deploy it outside of the doctrine. If that happens, it may even lead to a rethink on doctrine as it may have good and bad consequences.

“Blood Diamond” represents a Hollywood version of what didn’t happen. I would love to see their version of the RUF – maybe they will be made to be the heroes...as many did not want the RUF destroyed.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are welcome, Jared.

You are certainly not being thick-headed as my opinion is simply an opinion. However, I do believe that the debate has to some extent missed the point and that there is a flaw in the doctrine relating to the deployment of MRAPs. I believe these vehicles are important additions to the motorised infantry but they should be as just that – motorised infantry delivery systems and not IFVs.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for the link, E. I have downloaded it – as I am sure many others have done – and will read it with care.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I can understand your concerns about the many issues you raise, Private – I think those issues are worrying to many folk out there.

My neglect of the blog has been due to the fact that I was out-of-country for some time – and where I travel, the client takes precedence over the blog. Sadly, that is how it has to be. As my wife tells me, the blog is my “soap box” and work will always come first.

I agree that good intelligence and security is critical but somehow, we tend to overlook those issues. I believe that force multiplication starts with good intelligence and security. When we neglect it, the enemy exploits it.

Remember – Chin up. Things will get better.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Lot's of good discussion here as normal.
By extension the wheeled G-6 is a very effective weapons system - though not one we could stretch to help the infantry directly, truly a good indirect system.
The one part of the debate we are missing a little is the issue that the MRAP really is an interim vehicle - developed when armored HUMVEES were proven to be too vulnerable. I always questioned why we did not just go out and purchase battle tested equipment from SA to fill this role while a more effective platform was developed - what we have is the classic mouse designed by a committee.
The real revolution will occur when powered armor in a reliable form takes the field.

Regards,
John

P.S. Isn't it the truth that our wives keep us straight! This entire thread is interesting in not only its discussion but sidebars as well....

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Bear in mind that the G6 was developed in the late 70s, early 80s to give artillery mobility to the SADF’s armoured formations and mechanised battle groups, John. The terrain we were fighting in required something other than a towed system and it fulfilled its role at that time admirably.

I need to correct you – the MPV/MRAP existed long before the armoured HUMVEE did – we were using them in the very late 70s. Again bear in mind that they were a delivery platform for motorised infantry and not mechanised infantry – they were never intended to be IFVs although at times, they were abused as such. This is where I believe that the doctrine for their deployment has gaps that need to be rectified.

It is for that reason (incomplete doctrine) that I believe going bigger and heavier is not the answer.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: I started the blog because my wife advised me to get a soap box....

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Thank you for correcting me on the MRAP/MPV timeline - I was being my usual unabashed USA centric commentor...(did I miss a link to the MRAP debate in another thread?).

I'll step off my soapbox for a bit ...no worries about my hat-size here, I make enough mistakes in life to keep it rather small.

Further discussion of the G6 may be a great future discussion point as well. The artillery piece used is by all accounts I have found a wonder - though somewhat secretive.

Best Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

With this posting, I was referring to a discussion being held elsewhere re MRAPs/MPVs and their use, John. I was not referring to a debate on this blog.

As for your timeline, no problem on that. Out little war was virtually unknown to many out there – but it was real. However, we down here can hardly expect folks to know what we were up against for decades.

The G6 has been relegated to the “antique heap” although it still packs a powerful punch. I suspect that it was the first – and last – of its kind to be developed in SA. This link will give you some info on the system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G6_howitzer As you will note, it can achieve a range of 67,450 m (67,4 km) with the M9703A1 V-LAP round. Not bad for little old us to have achieved.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I wish my schedule was as open as yours Private, as I shall soon be departing again.

Patience is not really my strong point, but as time passes, I find it easier to exercise patience.

Great to hear you and you returning friend are okay. I am sure that it will just get better.

Take care.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Thanks for the link - flat out did not think of rooting around there for G6 information!

Amazing that this discussion started as an MRAP discussion and flowed back to an amazing piece of mobile artillery mounted on a mine resistant chassis. The interesting tidbit I know about the G6 is it has shown up as a "GI Joe" type toy here in the US - I imagine even that level of cloning is an interesting form of flattery, I almost bought the one I saw just because...

Now I think you might be selling Denel/Somchem a bit short - 67 click ranges on a highly mobile 155/52 tube is an amazing feat with chemical propellants (the 5" HARPs exceeded that but you really could not call them "highly mobile"). I actually had not been out digging around in the Denel webpages for over five years so I had to investigate. Lo and behold part of the company has been sold off as a minority portion with a large german arms manufacturer - great talent never withers on the vine in the modern world of business. Speaks well for the talent level there.

I imagine there is much more to the G5/G6 story that will eventually get filled in but I am digging into sources all over the place to see if some of their techniques for extreme range are now available in open source documentation.

Regards,

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are very welcome, John. It was an amazing piece of work for its time and still has a role to play in modern warfare, albeit that it is a bit dated.

Sadly Denel has lost the plot and is no longer what it used to be. But, I suppose that foreign buyers are continuing to buy up the really good stuff and we will be left with a poor arms industry.

I am sure that you will be able to locate data on the base-bleed shells and propellants they used for the G5/G6.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Excellent conversation with this. Here is some more meat to add to this stew.

Lately I have been reading about the Koevoet and their usage of MRAPs or the Casspir. I got a kick out of that, because on one of my prior contracts in Iraq I got to drive a Casspir and really liked the thing.

Just like Eeben said, it was simple and easy to maintain, and it kept running and running.... These were also the original Casspirs that the UN bought and used in Somalia-and the US bought them for work in Iraq. We used them on the roads and at remote sites and they were great. I climbed hills and all sorts of interesting terrain with that vehicle. I also felt pretty safe in that thing with the v shaped hull and all the armor in it's design.

But back to Koevoet. Those guys hunted humans as if they were hunting lions. According to an interview I was listening to with Peter Stiff, he discussed how tracker teams would run in front of the Casspir following the their spoor. When that team would get tired, they would jump on the vehicle and a new team would take over following the spoor.

They would also use the Casspir teams to go up ahead and possibly interdict that spoor, to quicken the hunt. This leap frog tracking method with Casspirs, is just one amazing use of the vehicle that really impressed me. The would also have a separate logistics rig to follow, and would put all types of armaments on these vehicles.

Peter also mentioned that Koevoet had about 300 plus IEDs/mines attacks on these Casspirs, and only three or so Koevoet members had died. That is it, and the v shaped hull and the design of that MRAP is what saved lives. Impressive.

What really pissed me off is that Peter wrote a book about these V-shaped hull designed vehicles back in the eighties, and no one in the west paid attention. Then Iraq and Afghanistan happens, and numerous soldiers get killed because they had vehicles that could not withstand IED's/mines. It is shameful that we ignored this life saving information that South Africa learned from their wars. I guess we got the picture now, and I am truly thankful for South African ingenuity. Hell, my life depended on that SA designed stuff, and it works.

---------
from wikipedia
Koevoet was a +-1000-man force consisting of about 900 Ovambo and about 300 white officers and white SAP non-commissioned officers (NCOs). It was organized into 40 to 50 man platoons equipped with mine-resistant wheeled armored personnel carriers of the types Hippo, and later Casspir and Wolf (including one, Zulu Alpha One, informally armed with a 20 mm cannon), a Duiker mine-protected fuel truck and a Blesbok mine-protected supply truck. They rotated one week in the bush for one week at camp.

There were three units based in Kaokaland, Kavango, and Ovambo with each unit controlling several platoons.

It was the 1978 brainchild of then Colonel Hans Dreyer (later a Major-General in the SAP) to develop and exploit intelligence and was based on the Portuguese Flechas and the Rhodesian Selous Scouts. Koevoet was based in Oshakati and suffered 153 killed in action and several hundred more wounded. They killed more than 3,681 SWAPO insurgents which resulted in a 1:25 or one to 25 kill ratio.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You also need to bear in mind Matt that Koevoet operated mainly in Namibia/SWA and sometimes went a few kilos into Angola. They mainly targeted insurgents infiltrating across the Namibia/Angolan border.

Within Namibia/SWA was an SADF group known as 101 Bn who operated on similar lines as Koevoet and did exceedingly well but sadly little was ever written about them or their “RM” teams.

Both the above groups conducted many follow-up operations and leap-frogged their trackers ahead to maintain momentum, keep the enemy off balance and take the initiative from the enemy. That led to numerous massive contacts and many killed, wounded and captured insurgents.

Several years ago, I met with and had long conversations with an ex-SWAPO commander and he told me their greatest fear was bumping into Koevoet or 101 Bn when they crossed into Namibia/SWA. But getting to that border meant they had to pass 32 Bn, 61 Mech, the Paras as well as some other SA Inf Bns. He stated that their casualties were “horrific” and had it not been for the support from the West and the USSR, they would never have lasted as long as they did.

The units operating in Angola mainly used the “Buffel” MPV – a vehicle that never got the publicity of the Casspir but which saved many a soldier’s life. To us, these vehicles were a precious commodity but like anything else, they needed to be used correctly (doctrine) and adapted to the terrain and situation.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Within Namibia/SWA was an SADF group known as 101 Bn who operated on similar lines as Koevoet and did exceedingly well but sadly little was ever written about them or their “RM” teams.
-----------
Interesting stuff Eeben. Was this 101 Bn another product of Selous Scout 'black boot' influence, or was this modeled after something different?

I would imagine that a SADF military version of this concept would have been more disciplined and effective in carrying out these types of operations, than a police run one. Or am I off base here?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

They very much followed their own model, Matt. Whereas they learnt certain lessons from Koevoet, they wrote their own doctrine and applied it with great success. No SADF unit really followed a Selous Scout model as they were one of a kind. We had our own ways of doing things.

“During the 1987 Operation Pineapple offensive, two Special Service Companies under command of Capt Ryno van Rooyen (903 SSC) and Capt Koos Maritz (901 SSC) killed 190 of 250 PLAN fighters, whilst only two of 101 Battalion's troops were injured. During Operation Modular in 1987, two Special Service Companies under Lieutenant Suis Prinsloo engaged two FAPLA and Cuban battalions, killing 1200 enemy personnel. On 101's side two troops were wounded, and three Casspirs were lost. In all the operations the unit maintained about 200 contacts per year and sometimes operated constantly for up to six months in Angola without relief”.

For more on them, check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/101_Battalion

My opinion, I am sure much to the disgust of my Koevoet friends, is that 101 was more disciplined, and in the end better – but they operated beyond the SWA/Namibia border while Koevoet was mainly “internal”. In EO, we used some of their tactics and officers and men and it all worked very well.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

I do hope you are wrong about SA indigineous arms manufacture. (The experiences/techniques from your country's work in irregular warfare can't be lost) I know the G5 system (the Austrian copy) gave the coalition a shock in 1991. Too bad we in the US shafted Dr. Bull after his dealings (at our behest) with the RSA - but he did not have to go over the edge and aid some pretty dodgy countries afterwards...always a danger in his line of work.

As to good base bleed modeling it will be an interesting bit of research - some of it is very Edisonian and the theories have not really closed in the open literature. Will be a good brain teaser.

Regards,
John

P.S. Any updates for your students out here on your next work? There is enough info in the last year of posts to teach several courses at EO university...

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe I am correct in my thinking re the SA arms industry, John. It is something I find very sad though.

I was unaware that Dr Bull’s dealings with SA were at the behest of the US. I thought it had come via other channels. Thanks for enlightening me on that.

I am afraid that when it comes to base-bleed, I am very much the village idiot as I do not know much about the design and ballistics. All I know is that one can call in pretty accurate fire from a good distance. I do think research by others in on-going into the further improvements thereof.

Due to numerous excursions, my blog and my writings have suffered a bit. I write when I can and hopefully I will find more time the coming year. But, sadly work comes first... I am however past half-way.

Rgds,

Eeben

bushcraftercz said...

Well, it´s because of mandatory ballistics - soldiers´ve became so heavy, that it´s a problem to conduct longer ops on foot - infantry soldiers are not recce assets anymore, stealthy, fast and alert, but tired mules. In contact, very few units is able to do simple attack by flanking, most units just lie on the ground and shoot somewhere, and wait for CAS and QRF, or retreat. By the time they arrive, insurgents are usually gone. No BDA is usually conducted, no follow-up. But if you got killed, senior officers and politicians can say "Hey, we did our best in protecting this soldier, he got a helmet and plate carrier and was sitting in this armoured vehicle". That most of our casualties are because of IEDs is aparently not really a factor. What´s the solution? To develop even more heavily armoured vehicles and soldiers, for xxx USD. What do insurgents do? Just add another bag of home-made explosive. But it´s all so obvious that it probably makes no sense to comment it. Sorry for my english.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have noticed TV footage showing soldiers looking down whilst on the move because they are carrying too much extra weight. Some of them are so bulked up that they even move with difficulty.

Infantry are now almost totally motorised. The principle of “relentless pursuit” is no longer valid as we cannot apply it due to our own rules – and extra weight - hampering us. We seem to have lost the will to fight to win.

I can understand that governments want their soldiers to be protected but I sometimes wonder if we aren’t taking it too far?

As for MRAPs: They remain motorised infantry vehicles and were not designed as infantry fighting vehicles. They are made to transport troops from point A to point B in safety. Thereafter, the troops dismount and continue on foot. I think the doctrine is highly flawed. The enemy are simply exploiting this flaw to our detriment.

As I said, your English is just fine.

Rgds,

Eeben