Artillery: October 21, 2002


: The US Army's field artillery branch is suffering from a series of humiliating defeats:

@ The Crusader howitzer was cancelled due to high cost and heavy weight, even though the weight of weapons required to deliver the same kind of firepower would go down (as far fewer of the heavy Crusaders would have been needed) and the effectiveness of that firepower would go up.

@ Army Apache helicopters were not allowed to go into action in Albania because the Army planned to use MLRS rockets to suppress air defenses, and the high "dud rate" left what amounted to anti-personnel land mines all over the target area.

@ The troops sent into Afghanistan went, for the most part, without the traditional artillery. Operation Anaconda was fought entirely without artillery, and did not work out as expected. 

@ Precision-guided JDAM bombs have proven tremendously effective as fire support, being able to disrupt large networks of trenches and bunkers with a single huge explosion. The artillery branch is not going to take this lying down, and is campaigning hard to stay part of the Army's future plans (and the Congressional funding for them). Tube artillery has the advantage that once it is in the battle area, it is always ready to be used, as opposed to multi-hour waits for bombers to fly over from far-away bases. --Stephen V Cole 


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