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Subject: Artillery in Iraq
redleg1    2/10/2003 1:26:38 AM
This is for those of you who havew seemed to rule out 155mm artillery in favor of smaller and supposedly more effective munitions. 155mm howizters (M198 or M105) is still the forces most effective fire support. My unit was mobilized to support an Amored Cav unit in Iraq, then told to stand down in favor of another unit out of a different state. Why they were choosen, who knows. However, it was a M105 unit. I highly doubt that a foward element such as an Amored Cav unit would choose anything but the best for their support. I'm rather disappointed in everybodies haste to do away with heavy artillery. In Desert Storm these guns were highly effective in providing the perfect amount of support for all the foward elements. Lest us not forget that ground based fire support is still the most reliable and one of the most lethal forms of fire effects in the military arsenal. I would challenge anyone to argue this point with an intellegent reply. I also have something to say about the Army's decision to scrap the Crusader. While the higher-ups opted not to use the actual self-propelled version of the cannon, the gun itself is still very much in development for use on other lighter, more logistics friendly platform. I'm all for a lighter, faster Army. Therefore, the platform in development was not the best for the transformation. All that is needed is for the force to implement a lighter, more managable track for this cannon before we see its development into a total fire support package. The liquid prop, rapid fire rates, and automatic loading system were never scraped. I believe that there is no one niave enough to just put this system on the shelf for good. Give it a couple years, and you will see the Army fully integrate this fire system into its transformation. What infantry-man doesn't love knowing that he has a 155mm battalion to support him? Granted, this is not always the best solution, however, it does have its advantages. Remember, the role of heavy artillery has always been to supply close, accurate, and massive fire support against an enemy position, and nothing in the military can provide the same level of effects with the accuracy, evasivness, mass, and cost effectiveness as a good old SP howitzer. Again, anybody who thinks they know the system is welcome to try to reply intellegently.
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redleg1    RE:Artillery in Iraq   2/10/2003 9:15:17 PM
Thank you.
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fsnco    RE:Artillery in Iraq   2/12/2003 11:04:38 AM
can't argue with reality
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macawman    RE:Artillery in Iraq   3/14/2003 2:31:47 PM
Redleg1: Here is a knowledgable response from Dunnigan on one of the conditions of the role of heavy artillery operations. The gist(my opinion) comes down to the need of quicker response times, simpler operating methods, lighter more tranportable/manuverable systems, less manpower/logistic intensive equipment replacing the heavy artillery role in todays faster, farther, & more mobile combat operations. The Curse of Technology and American Artillery by James Dunnigan February 27, 2003 There's a debate going on among U.S. Army artillery officers about the direction fire control is taking. Since the 1960s, much effort has gone into automating and computerizing fire control (the communications from front line troops to the guns and the calculations the artillerymen must do to get the shells on target.) This has not gone well, with a number of complex and unreliable systems developed, and discarded. The current collection of fire control equipment attempts to digitalize (make the process part of the "battlefield Internet) and centralize (so commanders can make more effective use of all artillery.) The most common artillery organization is the "divisional artillery." This is a brigade size force containing 60 or more self-propelled guns and rocket launchers. Troops in contact with the enemy still call in their fire requests over a radio, but a Forward Observer has to pass the request to the FDC (Fire Direction Center), and these requests quickly go "into the computer." The current set up gives the Forward Observer (the artillery guy on the front lines who is linked electronically with the artillery battalions) a bunch of neat radios and "digital devices" that, more often than not, get in the way and slow things down. The problem is that the first of these automated systems came into use after the heavy fighting in Vietnam died down, and there has not been a real battlefield test for U.S. artillery since. Even the 1991 Gulf War did not give the artillery the kind of workout they got in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. As a result, computerized systems like the much hated TACFIRE, and it's successors continue to drive commanders nuts during realistic field exercises. The main problem is that the computerized systems are too complex, unreliable and often do the wrong thing (like fire at targets that are no longer targets and ignoring current threats.) During some field exercises, the combat troops and the artillery have ignored their own fire control computer systems and gone back to the old "call in the fire over the radio" in order to get the fire where it was needed, right now. Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE) stayed in use, with many expensive updates, until 1993. In 1992, Light Tactical Fire Direction System (LTACFIRE) and Initial Fire Support Automated System (IFSAS) came into service. This was followed in 1997 by Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System. The officers and men who have to operate all this stuff, and get fire where the infantry and tankers need it, are not happy with how this has all played out. Decades of "we'll get it fixed" has left a lot of troops wondering how many American soldiers will die from artillery fire screw ups if these systems ever get used in a sustained war. At the moment, the artillery troops are, as ever, ready with a lot of improvised solutions and workarounds to their expensive fire control systems. This is all particularly sad, as it was the US Army that developed modern fire control techniques during the 1930s. In World War II, American artillery was the most effective in the world, and neither the Germans nor the Russians were able to duplicate the American methods. But since World War II, technology has triumphed over practicality and battlefield effectiveness.
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Tommy Atkins    RE:Artillery in Iraq   5/16/2003 2:57:45 PM
>>The current set up gives the Forward Observer (the artillery guy on the front lines who is linked electronically with the artillery battalions) a bunch of neat radios and "digital devices" that, more often than not, get in the way and slow things down<< Amen to that. Despite Daily technical faliures and command Fupp ups, I have to say I doubt artillery was more effective in this last war than at any time . No thanks to AGLS and DEDs etc ( And thats almost entirely due to common sense and (at last decent intel).)
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Shaka of Carthage    RE:Artillery in Iraq   5/17/2003 3:56:51 PM
I'm not a redleg, but I've used them. Combat veterans appreciate the power of artillery (and naval gunfire). My era was 'Nam. In WWII/Korea, it took about 2 to 3 minutes for US Arty to arrive. They needed accurate maps, a "computer" (ie sliderule) operator, LOTS of artillery tables and of course radios. That was a FDC in those days. I don't know the exact changes in 'Nam, but here was the important part for me. Unless there was a "political" problem, I got my shells in a couple minutes or less. And I got as many as I wanted. And just like in WWII, if it was in range and free, it was mine for the asking. So what has changed? The old Artillery tables are no doubt on computers. That makes sense. And that data should be accurate. Maps are probably on a computer as well. The FDC and the FO both need to be using the same map, so I assume one of those "digitized" boxes has the map(s). And the calculations are done by a computer, not a sliderule, so they should be as fast. I figure the old '80/20' rule applies here. Automating the old "manual" FDC still resulted in around a 2 or 3 minute response time. About the only way to make it faster, is to have the FO/FDC/tube link be as fast as possible. So maybe there are some interface problems. And don't forget GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). If the maps are wrong, or different sets, or the tables wrong, the shell is gonna land in the wrong place. Anything else is just a software and/or interface problem. They can fix that. SP artillery moves. But there in the old days, was one of the problems. Once you moved, you needed to figure out your new position on the map. Otherwise, FDC can't figure anything out. But todays arty has GPS! What does that take, few minutes to get the results back? Lets say it takes 3 minutes. That means that within 5 minutes of them stopping, SP arty should be able to deliver a shell. But here is where I figured it got screwed up. Some "politican in a uniform" decided to either: treat each tube as a battery, interface counterbattery radar with tube/battery units, accept FO info from non-FO's (ie JSTARS, UAVs, any radio, etc), automate loading (less crew), and some things I can't even imagine. Or even worse, tried to get it to do all of them. Now you have a interface nightmare, as any person who has done systems works will tell you. I can imagine the ripple effect it is having. Fix one thing, then something else that was working is now screwed up. And no one is around anymore who understand how that part works (gotta love them "black boxes"). I believe Dunnigans article makes that point. But if any of you think that means Arty is on its way out... you're being foolish. Unless you are in the Airforce, then you are supporting the party line. But let us not forget the most important part. Everything above is just a tool of delivery. The most important thing is the ammo. You need lots of it. I don't care how "accurate" it is, or even if it is PGM. You need quantity. So make sure when the Arty gets money, they buy whatever it is they haul the ammo in these days. And get alot of them. No point in being able to deliver rounds in 30 seconds, if all you have are 10. It will be worked out
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