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Subject: What constitutes the ideal modern army?
Cybernuke    12/26/2009 9:51:19 PM
I want to discuss what is the ideal Modern Army? Though each country faces different threats and priorities, the discussion centers around constant conditions such as no immediate threats. I will begin this discussion with an incomplete idea what this modern army should be in rather general and vague terms. A modern army in my mind should be a flexible and mobile army. It should be light and must be able to react to a threat in a speedy timetable. A modern army should be professional and should exhibit quality over quantity. A modern army should, though light and flexible, be able to exert an incredible amount of firepower but should not be bogged down with machinery that is too heavy to move quickly. A modern army should be able to communicate securely and effectively throughout its ranks. A modern army should be able to work with intelligence to effectively figure out who they are fighting, what they are fighting, and how many they are fighting. Please expand with fresh ideas and don't be afraid to argue about my points :D.
 
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Cybernuke       12/30/2009 7:33:21 AM
I forgot to add: MBTs are incorporating new technology but one of the characteristics of new technology is to downsize equipment therefore making them lighter. Yet, we see MBTs with new technology getting heavier....it isn't right it should be going in reverse. Heavier weaponry just complicates the battle zone and offer nothing significant that a lighter unit (which requires less maintenance and less fuel) can also offer.
 
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stbretnco       12/30/2009 8:32:30 AM
You just shot holes in your own argument for lighter=better.
 
There's a REASON AFV's and MBT's are getting heavier, not lighter.
 
More protection for the combined arms team.
 
You assume your air force is winning the air battle. That is an assumption which cannot be made in battle planning. You HAVE to have a go to hell plan if your air force is getting it's ass kicked,
 
Man portable missiles are fine, but have you ever had to hump one for a significant amount of time?
 
Body armor is NOT getting lighter, not by a long shot.
 
The actual M-4 carbine is in fact lighter than the weapon it is replacing, but the weight savings is minimal and completely lost by all the gadgetry they stuff onto the rifles.
 
You can NEVER assume your communications are secure, and the more secure you make it, the more complex the gadgets involved get. More complex=more failure points. Also, the lower you push your secure comms gear the more likely it is to be compromised by Joe Snuffy forgetting to secure it when they're wiped out from hours spent humping your aforementioned man portable antitank missiles. Joe snuffy loses the AN/PRC-999, your net is compromised, and that turns into a major goat screw.
 
Like any othe rpart of the COMBINED arms team, heavy units will always have their place, and until someone invents unobtanium armor, always will have their place.
 
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Cybernuke       12/30/2009 5:01:29 PM
You twisted my argument. I didn't assume I was winning I gave several scenarios, when you ignore my arguments you make yours weaker. I agree this is hypothetical, obviously no one has done this. The question here is: do we really need all that protection the MBT gives? And I did tell you that weapon systems were getting heavier even though the technology should be making the systems lighter, more sophisticated, and mobile. When I say I don't like heavy weaponry I mean MBTs mostly. When tend to be MBT-centric when forming our armies, and I trying to argue we need to flip that on its head. I slept on this last night...Do we really need MBTs? I came to the conclusion: in great numbers no, but maybe a small core. I do see the benefits of having a small MBT core that can spear attacks. But, I love the APC, light tank, HUMVEE, UAV, Attack Copter offense/defense. 

I don't see this debate I've created ending nicely...I am not going to concede my point of lighter=better whereas tank lovers well, are being tank lovers. I just technology developing so much that MBTs are becoming irrelevant in conflicts large and small. 
 
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stbretnco       12/30/2009 6:53:19 PM
Irrelevant?
 
I suppose the M1 TUSK which was a mod completly devoted to supporting the infantry in urban combat is a waste of money?
 
I know a whole slew of 11-B's who would disagree with you on that one.
 
There are times you need a big boom NOW........and air support takes time, and air support cannot physically be everywhere on the battlefield.
 
Grunts can only carry so much for a weapons load, and can only carry so much weight.
 
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Cybernuke       12/31/2009 2:29:44 AM
I will concede this: there are holes in my theory and I think it is because technology hasn't caught up yet to my dream of a ultra light, mobile, power punching, and professional army. I think we are close though but then this recession hit.... I think the one hole I see is how does an army of APC, light tanks, and HUMVEEs without air superiority take on heavy weaponry at great distances. That's the point of this discussion...what is this ideal modern army? Is it leaning heavy weaponry (MBTs) or light weaponry (APCs, UAVs, etc) or a balance of both? Are conscripts still in favor or professional? Emphasis on secure and effect communications? Should intelligence be integrated within the military or should there be an independent branch like the CIA? Is there something I am missing the modern army should be? So, obviously we don't agree on each others arguments and we aren't going to convert each other.
 
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stbretnco       12/31/2009 3:28:33 AM
There is nothing in the offing which is going to replace the  MBT as a force on the battlefield.
 
The concept is simple in theory yet complex in execution. What's needed is a combined arms team, which is what the US Army has. There will always be arguments and discussions about how heavy or how light, but light and heavy forces both play important roles on the battlefield. To discard heavy because you're facing insurgent warfare now would be foolhardy, as would completely discarding light forces if you're fighting a mainly armored opponent. Each has it's role in both types of combat.
 
 
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Cybernuke       12/31/2009 4:58:28 AM
Would you argue the U.S. Army is THE ideal modern army? or close to?
 
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LB    US Army Organization   12/31/2009 7:31:42 AM
In my view the US Army current organization is about as bad as it can get.  A two battalion brigade means you need twice as many brigade commanders, staffs, and HQ's instead of a 4 batt brigade.  Not to mention twice as many artillery battalion HQ's, engineer batt, support batt, etc.  It's simply a ticket punchers wet dream.  Moreover, a 2 maneuver battalion "brigade" creates a unit with 2 possible formations of 1 up and 1 back or two on line.  Leaving one batt to consolidate an objective creates a brigade of 1 battalion.  It's simply ridiculous.  Moreover, the heavy brigade now has a single mech infantry batt of about 215 dismounts (on paper, in practice it will be less).  A heavy brigade with 215 dismounted rifleman is an oxymoron.
 
Leaving this aside the US Army is too small, everyone knows it, and yet the US Army argues strongly that it can not afford to have more combat units.  The most cost effective way to expand US Army combat power would have been to simply start adding maneuver battalions to the old organization until the division hits 12 batt in the heavy divisions.  Instead we cut the number of batt to 8 per div in 4 binary brigades.  We also got rid of the armored cav regiment for which somebody should have been tortured to death.
 
Before anyone comments that the recon batt is a maneuver batt please cite how many dismounts.  Just because the current binary brigade is using the recon batt as a maneuver element because it is clearly lacking enough does not magically make it a maneuver element to the actual maneuver battalions.
 
Adding more HQ's without adding more maneuver elements is what dooms armies.  See the Italian army in WWII for what happens when a binary structure designed for colonial wars has to fight a modern war.  Moreover, see Nazi Germany for what happens when one just adds more divisional units to an army instead of beefing up the existing units in favor of creating more divisional and sub unit HQ's.
 
By the end of the cold war many, including the US, West Germany, USSR, South Korea, etc., had accepted that heavy brigades needed to contain 4 battalions.  Moreover, South Korea and West Germany added a 5th maneuver batt for rear area security.  In the US one can cite Barnett, MacGregor, and myriad others who write that what is needed is a large heavy brigade.  Binary brigades are not capable of engaging in sustained heavy combat.  The entire notion of information dominance in a heavily networked force allowing for less maneuver elements is a giant fantasy with no basis in reality that is going to get our kids killed when day when we have to fight an army that knows it's business.  
 
Furthermore, much of the rest of the structure of the US Army needs improvement.  The infantry squad is too small and the number of dismounts in a mech batt is far too small.  We have too few light fighters.  The tooth to tail ratio is ridiculous.  The US Army needs to consolidate HQ's in order to free personnel for maneuver units.  On the other hand the USMC as a medium weight "army" is very close to ideal.  The US Army getting rid of the general purpose infantry division made a significant mistake. 
 
Would you argue the U.S. Army is THE ideal modern army? or close to?

 
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french stratege       12/31/2009 8:24:22 AM
I want to discuss what is the ideal Modern Army? Though each country faces different threats and priorities, the discussion centers around constant conditions such as no immediate threats. I will begin this discussion with an incomplete idea what this modern army should be in rather general and vague terms.
An army have two goals: preserve its nation and enforce foreign policy goals.
There is no universal model of army.

A modern army in my mind should be a flexible and mobile army. It should be light and must be able to react to a threat in a speedy timetable.
Mobility is indeed a universal winning factor in warfare since it allows concentration faster than adversary.
Flexibility is also a desirable figure since an army has to be robust.

A modern army should be professional and should exhibit quality over quantity.
This is 100% false.
A professional army cost much more and is inherently limited in size.
How countries like Finland or Sweden with populations of 5 and 9 millions people, and an annual budget of few billions $, could put a several hundred thousand army against a country like Russia? Same for Israel.
Moreover an infantry soldier is the less costly weapon if drafted and motivated by defense of its homeland.
With the price of a single modern tank you can equip and train a thousand men light infantry regiment.
However quality of equipment is needed for heavy weapons always in limited numbers.
For example there is no need for having 3000 T72 unable to penetrate ennemy armor or fighting in night conditions facing  400 M1A2 or Leclerc with DU APFSDS, or having 1000 Mig 21 facing 200 F22 or Eurofighter or Rafale.
There is no need to have several thousand of precision guided munitions if they are easily jammed to give an other example.

Moreover sophisticated weapons like combat aircraft or MBT cost a lot and very few countries are able to produce them, so they have to be imported, are a drain on your foreign currency balance, and make you dependant of your suppliers and their political will regarding your policy.

However a professional army or a professional component, is the best for projection far away from your territory since projection constraints, means that you are unlikely able to deploy big heavy forces, so you have to put emphasis on quality.
Also nuclear weapons are of a magnitude bigger in firepower and are a game changer.

A modern army should, though light and flexible, be able to exert an incredible amount of firepower but should not be bogged down with machinery that is too heavy to move quickly.
It depends your terrain conditions.For example it is 100% understandable that Switzerland have hundreds of Leopard2 or M109 since ennemy has to break through few moutain valleys to invade a limited territory in size.No needs for fast moving those units.However rest of Swizz army is light and rather flexible.
Flexibility as a major feature of an army seen as a system of systems, is always desirable , but can not be implemented at elementary unit level in a conscription army since limited amount of training push for specialisation of soldiers and elementary units.

A modern army should be able to communicate securely and effectively throughout its ranks.
A modern army should be able to work with intelligence to effectively figure out who they are fighting, what they are fighting, and how many they are fighting.
Those are constant needs in combat like mobility and firepower.

An ideal army has to be tailored to your country need, well managed according to your ressources and budget, and threat.
An ideal army benchmarks it self permanently to other countries and threats, and is innovative in its management.
Not always the case even in some reputated armies.
I consider Finnish, Swedish, Swizz or Israel armies as some example of world best armies considering their purposes and limited ressources of their countries.
USA, France are other example of good armies considering their needs and their country foreign policy.
However they are some constants in warfare like OODA loop, command and control, mobility and firepower, logistic, robustness...
 
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Cybernuke       12/31/2009 5:56:34 PM
French that was a very insightful post. I liked your conscript army vs. professional army analysis.

Some countries do well with the conscript army, such as Israel because they need it. But, why does Sweden and Finland need it? Russia isn't the Soviet threat anymore. I feel the conscript army is for those nations that face a larger and immediate threat. Switzerland isn't threatened at all why do they need the conscript army? 
 
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