The Strategypage is a comprehensive summary of military news and affairs.
December 1, 2022



Part 5 Gaming it out

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this organization, TACOPS 3.0 was used to compare and contrast the Medium Battalions with a three-company team mechanized infantry task force in various scenarios. Different organizational variations were also considered. Brigade Combat Team[3] was also used to supplement this work.

The enemy in each case used the BTR-80 and T-80 based on organizations found in FM 100-60 Armor and Mechanized-Based Opposing Force Organization Guide. [4] Each test was run five times.

Offensive Scenario Development

The first test was an offensive scenario with the two US variants pitted against a dug in BTR-80 Company reinforced with a T-80 platoon. Unlike the other simulation runs (discussed later), in this case, the enemy had to be totally destroyed to end the scenario.

The attack was conducted as shown in Figure 11. A supporting attack was made in the north with one company to seize the support by fire positions, while the main attack, with two companies, was in the south.

The lead company in the south seized OBJ 1, overwatched by the northern company. Once OBJ 1 is secured, the trailing southern company passes through it and takes OBJ 2, and the process is repeated for OBJ 3. Once OBJ 3 is seized, either the northern company can seize OBJ 4 or the company on OBJ 3 can do so.

In both cases, the US force successfully attacked and destroyed the enemy unit in less than an hour. The conventional M2/M1 TF reduced the enemy strength much more quickly initially, but needed a little longer to dig the OPFOR out of their holes than the Medium Battalion. Both battalions finished at about the same percent strength (87 for the medium versus 93 for the Mech) and both units could have been probably withstood a counterattack or continued the attack to subsequent objectives.

Figure 12 and 13 shows how these organizations compared with each other in terms of combat power over the course of the game.

Figure 11.
Offensive Plan of Attack

 

 

Figure 12.
 Offensive Strength over time

 

 Figure 13.
Offensive Lethality Over Time

 

Defensive Scenario Development

Next a defensive scenario was run where the two organizations defended against an OPFOR Motorized Infantry Brigade, again organized per FM 100-60. Defensive scenarios were conceived as if the medium battalion was protecting an airhead or beachhead while other elements deployed or arrived. I sought to defeat the enemy attack on the battalion’s initial positions, although there was some maneuver in each company.

The US defensive plan is shown in Figure 14.

Again, the general pattern of the two scenarios was about the same. The US force won in about an hour. The medium battalion fared better than the mech battalion, ending at 59% strength versus 48% strength. (Figure 15 and Figure 16)   In defensive scenarios, the simulation ended when the enemy strength was reduced to 60% or the friendly strength to 50%.

While the enemy penetrated the mech defense further than the medium version, at no time was the US sector in danger of being penetrated through the rear boundary. Critical to success of the medium battalion was its 10 mortars to smoke friendly positions to shield them from enemy fires. Because of the long-range fires of the M1’s, this was not quite so necessary with the Mech TF.

While the first echelon was destroyed pretty handily, neither organization was well suited to deal with the follow on attack by the BMP and Tank Regiment of the OPFOR division, as can be seen by the end state shown in Figure 17.

Figure 14.
Defensive Plan

 

Figure 15.
Defensive Strength Over Time

 

Figure 16.
Defensive Strength Over Time

 

Figure 17.
Defensive End State

 

Engineer Support for the Medium Brigade

The Medium Brigade has only an Engineer Company for mobility, counter-mobility, and survivability support. Reports indicate that this company will be more focused on improving mobility for the Medium Brigade instead of counter-mobility or survivability. This is perhaps more in tune with the role of the brigade in Stability and Support Operations (SASO) and Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain (MOUT). In a standard defensive mission, this would seem to be a weakness.

In the scenarios run without engineer units, defending units were placed in defilade to reduce their vulnerability to direct fire. In the others, each unit was entrenched.

The recon/counter-recon phases saw the scout platoons stripping off the enemy recon elements though casualties were usually heavy.

TACOPS provided 3 155 batteries, an MLRS battalion, and several air sorties in support of the Medium battalion while BCT provided 3 155 batteries and 4 A-10 sorties. All Fire Support assets were used in TACOPS while in BCT, the air sorties were not used. Neither scenario provided for PGM attacks and only HE and Smoke were available for the 120mm Mortars.

Without engineers using TACOPS, the BLUEFOR won each time, with an average ending strength (of all unit types) of 50% and an average OPFOR strength of 37%. When using BCT, the BLUEFOR also won each time, with an average ending strength of 81% and OPFOR strength of 16%.   With engineers, using TACOPs scenarios, the average BLUE end strength was 59% and OPFOR was 36%. With BCT, BLUE strength was 89% and OPFOR strength was 23%.

Note the increase in survivability for BLUE was about 10%. This difference may be significant in defending against a follow on force. The difference in BCT OPFOR strength is attributed to the improper placement of the minefield in such a manner that the BLUE force could not range most of it.

In both games, casualties were higher when shifting battle positions or counterattacking by fire was attempted, highlighting the difficulty of knowing when to start the movement of friendly forces to subsequent positions.

LAV or AGS for the Medium Brigade?

While the popular attention is fixed on the possibility of wheeled combat vehicles for the Army’s new medium brigades, tracked vehicles, such as the venerable M113 and the M8 Armored Gun System are also in competition.

Adopting the M113 and AGS would have some advantages in that the Army has lots of M113s still in use and many spare parts for them. The M8 was type classified and ready for production when it was cancelled and so is not readily available. The main disadvantage of these two vehicles is they do not have common repair parts; something that hopefully buying a system of wheeled vehicles would provide. Recent developments in the evaluation process indicate that a mixture of tracks and wheels may be acceptable or another series of vehicles, not necessarily of the same family.

Vehicle Comparison

At first glance, from a comparison of TACOPS vehicle characteristics, the observer would expect these two organizations to perform pretty much the same.

Table 1. Vehicle Armor

Vehicle Front Armor Side Armor Rear Armor
M113 20 16 16
LAV III ISC (+) 60 40 35
AGS Level II Armor (KE) 90 50 40
LAV-AG[5] 30 22 7
M2A2 40 30 20
BTR-80 20 7 5

 

Table 2. Weapon Lethality

Weapon / Range 0 Meters 1250 2500 3000
M2 .50 cal

.95 / 30mm [6]

.60 / 23mm

.10 / 35mm

XXX
25mm

.95 / 70mm

.50 / 55mm (1500m) .2 / 45mm .05 / 40mm
TOW .60 / 1400mm .90 / 1400 mm (1500 m) .90 / 1400mm .90 / 1400mm
105mm[7]

.90 / 590 mm .8 / 575mm (1500mm) .50 /540mm .15 / 520mm
14.5mm MG .95 / 35mm .66 / 20mm .1 / 10mm XXX

As can be seen, the LAV III is both better protected and more lethal than the M113 while the M8 Level II is much better armored and armed than the LAV-AG. It is the M8’s armor and reach that makes the M8/M113 battalion more lethal.

Organizational Comparison

To continue to evaluate engineer issues, the scenario was played out in hasty and deliberate defense. Except for substituting M113 variants and M8s for the different LAV variants, the two organizations were structured the same. The OPFOR was a BTR-80/T-80 Regiment.

Without engineer support, the M113/AGS organization did rather poorly. Its lethality, on average was diminished to an average of 3828 (47.6%) out of 8027, with its high being 3999 (49.8%) and its low being 3897 (48.5%). On average it had 88 (48.3%) systems left out of 152, its high being 96 (52%), and its low being 73 (40.1%). It reduced the OPFOR to an average lethality score of 9896.4 (46.4%) out of 21298 and reduced the total weapons systems to an average of 142 out of 344 (41.3%).

When dug in, the battalion’s performance was much better. Average lethality at the end was 4932 (61.5%), with a high of 6208 (72%) and a low of 3895 (48.5%), while reducing the OPFOR to an average of 9135 (42.8).

These results compare to an average LAV lethality value (without engineer support) of 4094 out of 8027 (51%) and ending OPFOR strength of 9330 out of 21298 (43%). With Engineer support, the LAVs ended at an average of 4639 out of 8027 (57%) and the OPFOR at 7687 / 21298 (36%). (Figures 18and 19)

Figure 18.
AGS BLUFOR Lethality

 

Figure 19.
AGS OPFOR Lethality versus Blue Organization

 

Battle Taxi’s or Fighting Vehicles?

Much attention has also been fixed on examining the performance of the Medium Brigade based on LAV-25 vehicles. However, the mission of the Brigade revolves heavily on dismounted assault and the infantry school may have a preference for using the logistics carrier equipped with the M240 7.62mm Machine Gun, M2 HB .50 caliber machine gun, or theMK-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher instead of the LAV-25 in order to carry more dismounts. This would be a return to the "battle taxi" concept of infantry, which the US Army used when heavy units were based on the M60/M113 series of vehicles.

This portion studies how a LAV-LOG based battalion compares to a LAV-25 battalion. The OPFOR, as for the other tests, was a BTR-80/T-80 regiment without thermal sights.

Organizational Comparison

Just as for the previous tests, two scenarios were used: One in which the TF was dug in and one in which it was not. Organizationally, the TACOPS lethality values for the LAV-25 Battalion is 8027 and the LAV-LOG Battalion is 7782.

The difference between the two organizations is, of course, the lack of the 25mm gun on the LAV-L [8] carrier. This difference removes much of the ability of the battalion to fight at long range. The entire killing power of the organization beyond 1,000 meters is dependent upon the Javelin AT missile and the LAV-AG. My expectation was that this organization would do much worse in combat when compared to a LAV-25 based battalion.

Theoretically, the LAV-L organization is capable of destroying a BTR-80 regiment, as shown below:

# Javelins – 45 * 4 rounds = 180 shots

TACOPS Ph = .9

TACOPS Pk = .9[9]

Theoretical Vehicles killed – 180 * .9 * .9 = 145

# LAV – AGS – 12 * 20 rounds = 240 shots

Tacops Ph (105mm @ 1500m) = .5

Tacops Pk = .6

Theoretical Vehicles Killed – 240 * .5 * .5 = 60

Total Kills – 205

Number Fighting vehicles in BTR-80 Regiment = 187.

Of course, this assumes a flat surface, perfect shooting, no supporting weapons, and no friendly losses. Still, it shows that the battalion should be able to defeat a BTR-80 based regiment.

Without engineer support, the LAV-LOG based organization did rather poorly. Its lethality, on average was diminished to an average of 3914 (51%) out of 7622, with its high being 4844 and its low being 3575. It reduced the OPFOR to an average lethality score of 11070 (51%) out of 21298.

 

Figure 20.
Lethality without Engineer Support

 

When dug in, the battalion’s performance was much better. Average lethality at the end was 4459 (57), with a high of 5659 (72%) and a low of 3667 (47%), while reducing the OPFOR to an average of 9037 (42%).

Figure 21.
Lethality with Engineer Support

 

These results compare to an average LAV lethality value (without engineer support) of 4094 out of 8027 (51%) and reduced the OPFOR to 9330 out of 21298 (43%). With Engineer support, the LAVs ended at an average of 4639 out of 8027 (57%) and reduced the OPFOR to 7687 / 21298 (36%) as shown in earlier sections of this study.

The difference in values when compared to the LAV-25 battalion is probably due to my increasing ability to initially deploy the battalion (although all deployments were fairly similarly) judge the best time to begin displacement of the force, and better use of artillery.

Without the 25mm cannons, units ran out of Javelins much faster. LAV-AG losses were high because I displaced them last when moving to subsequent battle positions. I found that the best time to begin moving to subsequent positions is when the enemy is at about the 2000-meter line. This of course negates the Javelin. If minefields do not delay the enemy, then displacement is a very near thing and minimizes the contribution of dismounted infantry in the delay or mobile defense.

Part 6 Observations and Recommendations

 

© 1998 - 2022 StrategyWorld.com. All rights Reserved.
StrategyWorld.com, StrategyPage.com, FYEO, For Your Eyes Only and Al Nofi's CIC are all trademarks of StrategyWorld.com
Privacy Policy