Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's New In Combat?

As we know, China, Russia, and virtually every other country in the world is working hard at developing high end combat power.  Hardly a week goes by without reading about new ships, aircraft, and armored vehicles being developed and acquired.  In addition to churning out equipment at a prodigious rate, the Chinese have been training hard at carrier operations, amphibious assaults, and high end armored operations.

OK, let’s take a peek at what our own United States Marines are working on.

As reported by Marine Times, a new non-lethal mortar is under development (1).

“A new 81mm mortar can deliver a terrifying barrage of flash bangs to distances beyond a mile while minimizing collateral damage.

Grundy [manufacturer’s rep] was inspired to pursue a non-lethal mortar after a visit with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, at Camp Pendleton, California, in the summer of 2008, shortly after the unit returned from a deployment to Iraq. The unit's Marines described the harassing fires they took. Rogue mortarmen would lob rounds toward their forward operating base from civilian populated areas, the executive officer said.

‘Three-five had restrictive firing rules so they couldn't respond in kind because of the risk of non-combatant casualties,’ Grundy said.”

There’s your situation.  Marines taking mortar fire can’t respond in kind and need a non-lethal option.  The rest of the world is gearing up for high end combat and that’s what we’re working on.  Outstanding!

Seriously, if avoidance of collateral damage is the number one priority (and clearly it was in this case if Marines can’t return mortar fire) then let’s simply not be there.  Let’s stay home and then there won’t be any risk of collateral damage and we won’t have to spend money on non-lethal weapons.

Once again, ComNavOps motto:  In it to win it, or don’t get in it.

Well, that wasn’t very pleasant but let’s see what else the Marines are working on.

Another Marine Times report describes challenges facing the Marines as they integrate women into combat units (2).

“Early into weapons training at the Ground Combat Integrated Task Force, Marines with the provisional rifle platoon encountered a very gender-specific problem.

The regulation hair buns of the female Marines would cause their Kevlar helmets to slide forward over their eyes and prevent them from maintaining good visibility on targets through their rifle sights in the prone position. When the trouble persisted, female noncomissioned officers with the platoon met for an hour-long brainstorming session with the unit's male leaders. They emerged with a solution: women with the platoon would wear French braids, allowing them to stay neat and professional while keeping their helmets in place.”

So, the Marines have now come up with a woman’s hair style that is neat and professional in combat.  Outstanding!

The world is gearing up for high end combat and we’re working on looking neat and professional.

Yes, I cherry picked these articles but the fact they even exist is troublesome.  That we would spend time on non-lethal weapons given what the rest of the world is working on is just asinine.  Does anyone think China is working on non-lethal weapons?  That we would devote precious time and resources to women’s combat hair styles is beyond belief.  Seriously, women, if you want the equality that gets you into combat that badly then buzz your heads like the men and be equal.  Again, asinine.

The Marines:  The Few.  The Neat.  The Non-Lethal.

I weep for the Corps.


(1) Marine Times, "Marines, soldiers could soon carry 'flash bang' mortars", James K. Sanborn, 6-Dec-2014,

(2) Marine Times, "Marines grapple with combat integration test challenges", Hope Hodge Seck, 7-Dec-2014,

12 comments:

  1. i would rather see more advancement in infantry fireteam level , maybe add some light / disposable weapon that can increase a fireteam's firepower.. 2 RPg launcher for each 4-men fireteam would be great, in addition to rifleman and squad machine gunner. Also a squad level portable mini drone / UAV that works outdoors and indoors would be great capability..

    commy do you remember the debacle at Takhur Gar mountain ? where SEAL team 6 lost one of it's member captured and executed by taliban guards ? the SEAL assaulted the taliban position and got beaten losing more dead and wounded in the process..

    now , im thinking what kind of weapon would increase the chance of that SEAL team's success in assaulting the talibans ? should they carry RPG or Carl Gustav on their standard kit ? bear in mind the SEALs only armed with M4 and Minimi , while the taliban were in a bunker type position armed with heavy machine gun..

    this should be the focus of modern warfare, not spending $$$ on LCS / F35 / CV22 expensive white elephants, but equip all infantry / spec ops unit with adequate weapon as standard issue..

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    1. buntalanlucu,

      Rest assured that SEALS, and USSOCOM have access to every weapon they could want, and have had access to RPGs decades ago.

      Back to the USMC...

      GAB

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    2. If you add to a fireteam's equipment, you better be willing to take away equal or more weight. Infantry is chronically overburdened with equipment. This has direct, measurable and widely documented impacts on their combat performance.

      Besides, they already have LAWs, AT4s, 40mm GLs and so on. No need for inaccurate and relatively heavy RPGs (and their rounds).

      Delete
    3. you both missed the point, what im saying is why not focusing research into making a fireteam / squad level soldiers more lethal, with better / lighter weapons, smart bullets , exoskeleton to increase soldier's speed , and maybe more intelligent grenades..

      The example in takhur gar, where SEAL and ranger have difficulty assaulting taliban position , what kind of advancment in technology can alleviate that kind of situation ? Even the modern spec ops with all their gear will get slaughtered if they tried to assault an old WW2 Wermacht position with machine guns..

      so how to assault enemy position without taking horrible loss ? infantry tactics can only get you so much... an exoskeleton equipped and heavily armored suit with a SEAL inside might do the trick..

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    4. Takur Ghar was a Cluster F* from the beginning. They had supremely faulty intel on the enemy dispositions and intents. Helo assaulting a small infantry team to a mountain peak held by significant, dug-in, enemy forces is not going to end well. Period.

      Modern specops calls in an air strike, uses vehicle-mounted weapons, or hits the MG position with a Javelin, 40mm GL, or disposable weapon, just like any modern infantry. Standard combined-arms.

      Exoskeleton suits are still stuff of fantasy. There are plenty of people working on this kind of thing. Power storage is a huge problem.

      We are spending a lot on developing and buying lighter and better equipment, but there aren't any silver bullet solutions. Just a lot of iterative refinement.

      http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

      Look through all the stuff we ask infantry to carry.



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    5. "b" you make an excellent point about where the focus and spending of the military is. We don't hesitate to pour billions into highly questionable "shiny toy" projects, even ones that are largely Powerpoint based and totally unrealistic, but we don't seem to be focused on individual soldier effectiveness and lethality to anywhere near the same extent. I'm not very knowledgable about land combat so maybe we're looking at individual enhancements and I'm just not aware of it? I would hope so! I know there is/was an effort to develop an individual network of some sort.

      The idea of enhancing individual effectiveness and lethality is appealing. Of course, as pointed out, individual carry weight is a major issue.

      I've long thought that the basic assault rifle is long overdue for a revolutionary improvement. Miniature explosive bullets (shaped charge??), dual selectable rounds incorporating a shotgun-ish round, enhanced IR optics, acoustic detection "optics" (??), etc. are some spitball ideas for improvements. As I said, this is not my area of expertise!

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    6. CNO,

      There has been a ton of work on individual soldier improvements.

      OICW was meant to be your explosive bullet rifle. It was canceled due to spiraling costs and technical issues. There have been a number of programs aimed at improving the basic assault rifle including the XM8 program. However none have shown dramatic enough improvements to warrant the cost of switching.

      The biggest (relatively) recent rifle improvements have been in the area of combat sights. Things like ACOG and CCO are standard issue now. They significantly improve a soldier's ability to hit targets at range. Night vision devices are better now. Communications systems are getting better and more prevalent.

      New, lighter, body armor is being introduced all the time. However the desire to stop rifle bullets still requires weighty, ceramic inserts.

      So the field of infantry equipment is progressing at a rather rapid pace. It's just the fundamentals of physics, technology and weight hinder major innovations.

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    7. Much as I'd love to see genetically engineered soldiers wearing mk VII powered armour and carrying boltguns, its just not that practical.

      There are a lot of ideas for super rifles out there, but combat experience is that in a real war the base infantry rifle just isn't that important.

      High explosives are the largest killer, a firefight will generally be won by the side that puts the most explosives on target, not the most rifle fire.
      Whether that's 40mm grenades, 81mm mortars or fast responding 105/155 shells.

      Delete
  2. Let's pause for a moment and say that there is another war against insurgents.
    Just how naieve us the project team that says johnny foreigner will be afraid of flash bangs and give up their attack?

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  3. Using flash bang mortars may have the unintended effect of making suppression missions with high explosive rounds less effective, because the enemy may believe that all rounds are flash-bang until the enemy sees their buddy cut in half by mortar fire. We all know how much adjustment and wasted rounds it takes to go from suppressive fires to clise enough for effects on target

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  4. Chesty Puller is rolling over in his grave...

    George

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  5. The Marine Times article is poorly written. The Marines aren't introducing a new "flash-bang mortar". They are introducing a flash-bang round for their existing 81mm mortars.

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