Light, Medium, and Heavy Ground Units - Pros, Cons, and Controversies

Discussion in 'Professional Discussions' started by Norfolk, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    Yesterday SampanViking made the observation in a post on the Rifle Squad/Section Thread that the PLA seems to reserve its best trained and equipped infantry for its mechanized infantry in order to be used as Shock Troops, while using most (excepting of course PLAAN Marines, PLAAF Paratroops, and PLA Special Forces and certain Light Infantry) of the rest of its lesser trained and more lightly equipped motorized and foot infantry in order to hold ground and infiltrate into the enemy's own ground in order to keep him off-balance while aforementioned elite mechanized infantry (as part of armoured forces) struck the decisive blow.

    There has been a lot of controversy over the last 30 years about the usefulness or otherwise of light, medium, and heavy ground forces in general and foot, motorized, and armoured infantry in particular. Those of us old enough to remember the Energy Crisis in the 1970's and subsequent events in and around the Middle East will also remember the controversy (which rages to this day) over the then new "Light Infantry Divisions" that the US Army began to raise for the Rapid Deployment Force (now Central Command). The US Army even raised an experimental Motorised Infantry Division intended to fill a gap in between the Light Infantry and the Mechanized Infantry/Armoured Divisions.

    Their proponents claimed that the Light Infantry could get anywhere they nedded to be fast enough to beat the enemy to the punch, easy to supply by airlift, and able to hold off the enemy (because of their training) until Heavy Forces (ie US Armoured and Mechanized Infantry Divisions) arrived in strength to deal the knock-out blow.

    Alternatively, their opponents claimed that the Light Infantry Divisions were "too light to fight" as they lacked the necessary equipment and heavy weapons to beat off enemy armour, and that they required a great deal more airlift than their proponents admitted that they required in order to keep them sufficiently supplied until their relief-in-place by Heavy Forces.

    While the US model differed from the PLA model mentioned at the beginning of this post in that US Light Infantry Division were supposed to feature better-trained and led foot infantry than the more heavily armed and equipped armoured infantry of the US Mechanized Infantry and Armoured Divisions, they both share the making off a real distinction in quality between light, medium, and heavy ground force units.

    The Russians, on the other hand, favour the bulk of their army to consist of heavy ground force units (Tank and Motorized Rifle Divisions, Unified Army Corps) with large numbers of armoured infantry to do most of the fighting, and a much smaller proportion of light and medium ground forces - Naval Infantry (also motorized), Airborne (with some light armour), Air Assault (helicopter-borne infantry), and Spetsnaz (commando infantry and special forces) - to operate in support of the heavy units.

    Another distinction that has been made between light, medium, and heavy ground force units is the number of infantry that each possess, and for what purpose. Yesterday SampanViking even raised the question of was there a difference in the size and composition of Rifle Squads/Sections between light, medium, and heavy units - and the short answer is yes, no, sometimes, not necessarily. And, not to forget, mountaineers, marines, paratroops, commandos, and even special forces are involved here.

    The broader issue originally raised by SampanViking and that is being presented for discussion in this thread is are such distinctions being made by many armies between light, medium, and heavy forces really necessary in that each has a viable role on the battlefield that complements the others, or are such distinctions largely illusory or mistaken, and say, heavy ground units with substantial proportions of armoured infantry should form the bulk of most armies, with a few light ground units made up of mainly of commando-trained light infantry (and even smaller numbers of special forces) for rapid-reaction and specialized climatic and terrain conditions operations, or to operate in support of heavy ground units at the operational level by raiding or seizing beachheads, airfields, enemy headquarters, depots, road junctions and critical terrain features, artillery emplacements, coastal and air defense sites, etc., as heavy ground units follow up to relieve them and carry on the rest of the campaign? Is the Russian approach more practical, or are the US and the PLA on to something - even if in different ways?
     
    #1 Norfolk, Aug 15, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2007
  2. SampanViking
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    SampanViking The Capitalist
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    Thanks Norfolk for starting this thread, I think having somebody who can really examine Infantry structures and doctrine is going to be a real boon, especially if Bombardier Gollevainen can add his Artillery expertise as well.

    I fail to see how you can have any serious discussion of the PLA without understanding how it uses its Infantry. They might be the least sexy of units, but Infantry remains; without a doubt the most vital for war winning. The PLA is always going to be an Infantry Army; especially its lighter Infantry, it is China’s main military resource and that is not going to change. Infantry means force and if force did not matter, then other countries would not treat force multipliers as so critical to their strategies.

    Since GW1 in 1991 the emphasis of military adulation has been cantered on Advanced Aircraft, Heavy Armour and Smart, Stand Off munitions. Since 2003 however the cold light of day has filtered back through after the Mega Metal Fest and the lesson being learned today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, is that light Infantry carries a punch that cannot be ignored.

    Further, although the above are Irregular Insurgents, I think that only goes to prove the central point. Insurgents have a natural camouflage that Light Infantry would not enjoy, but Light Infantry enjoy greater numbers, better organisation and Intelligence, periodic support from Heavier Weapons, Air Cover and Occasional Air Support. In Addition they will know that somewhere, their own Heavy Divisions will be operating and so they are not isolated.

    My very non professional take on the PLA Regular Infantry splits down into the following:

    Professional A Division (Including Marines, Paratroopers etc)

    Professional B Divisions

    Reservists

    Volunteers

    Conscripts

    No surprises in Professional A, in comprising your Heavy Mechanised and Elite Light Divisions

    Professional B is more interesting. They are equipped with the older and legacy Armour and probably fit the Medium Infantry role, being able to follow up after an A Divison Assault, or simply provide stiffening to Light Infantry on the Lines.

    Reservists – Former Professionals who could either be used to swell the ranks of A & B Divisions or (more likely I suspect, especially for older troops) to be used as instant NCO’s for Volunteers and Conscripts.

    I doubt if China would need to draft in a major conflict straight away as I suspect calls for Volunteers would produce all the manpower in required for any early stages of a conflict which needed to draw on more than its Professionals.

    As previously stated, I believe that China’s use of Light Infantry is crucial in any major conflict. They are easy and quick to train, relatively inexpensive to equip and likewise, quick and easy to deploy.

    Large bodies of men equipped with modern Light Arms, Grenade Launchers, Mortars and Shoulder Pad Weapons, are by no means harmless and certainly cannot be ignored. China has the ability to open huge and multiple fronts and to simply exhaust the manpower and firepower of its enemies and prevent them from concentrating against the Critical Heavy Divisions.

    In short the Light Infantryman does not need to do very much, he simply needs to be there and once there is capable of capitalising on soft targets of opportunity as and when they arise, causing mayhem in the flanks and rear and diverting enemy Ground units, Air Cover and Artillery Fire Missions from more critical parts of the Battlefield.

    Maybe I should stop here and wait for the input of others.
     
  3. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    SampanViking - Quote:

    Since GW1 in 1991 the emphasis of military adulation has been cantered on Advanced Aircraft, Heavy Armour and Smart, Stand Off munitions. Since 2003 however the cold light of day has filtered back through after the Mega Metal Fest and the lesson being learned today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, is that light Infantry carries a punch that cannot be ignored.

    Further, although the above are Irregular Insurgents, I think that only goes to prove the central point. Insurgents have a natural camouflage that Light Infantry would not enjoy, but Light Infantry enjoy greater numbers, better organisation and Intelligence, periodic support from Heavier Weapons, Air Cover and Occasional Air Support. In Addition they will know that somewhere, their own Heavy Divisions will be operating and so they are not isolated.

    -Unquote

    Yes, mechanization encourages many to become fixated upon seeking high-tech solutions to strategic, operational, and even tactical problems, and in some cases this is good, and in others cases its wasteful and unnecessary. While many armies from WWII to the present have used standard foot infantry divisions (and since then motorized infantry divisions as well) to hold ground in while armoured divisions were (ideally at least) reserved for offensive operations or for counter-attacks in mobile defensive operations, many armies seem to resort to a segregration between the two.

    The US Army, for example, since it has eliminated its standard foot infantry divisions in favour of light infantry (and if I may designate Stryker infantry units as motorized units) and motorized infantry (as well as airborne and air assault infantry), had, until the insurgency in Iraq gotten out of hand, appeared reluctant to mix light and medium divisions with heavy divisions. The US Army tended to view the light and medium divisions as being suitable for low and mid intensity warfare, while the heavy divisions werre intended for high intensity warfare. Only in the case of a large heavy division force arriving to relieve a previously-deployed rapid-reaction light or medium division force (such as in the Middle East oilfields, and as took place in GW1) were to two to mix. And in the event, GW1 featured the spectacle of I MEF and US VII Corps (including of course UK 1st ArmDiv) arriving to relieve XVIII Airborne Corps (curiously, none of the Light Infantry or Motorized Divisions [9th Motorized Infantry Division being disbanded] were present, although 24th Mechanized Infantry Division arrived as soon as possbile to bolster 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions) stealing the show while 101st Airborne Division used its helicopter infantry to establish forward operating bases and resupply points and 82nd Airborne Division rode on trucks behind the French Daquet Light Armoured Division deep into the Iraqi desert to act as a screening force. US Third Army (with the exception of the hard-driving 24th Division under Barry McCaffrey, chomping at the bit the whole way), subject to self-imposed delays, did not even attempt to take Basra or even the al-Hammar causeway over the Euphrates/Tigris river system in order to cut off the Iraqi Army retreating from Kuwait (in which the Airborne and Light Divisions could have proved their worth), and most of the Republican Guard and much of the Iraqi Army got away. If the US Army really thought their Airborne or Light Divisions were what they claimed they were, competent senior commanders would have used them to do just that. The US Army appeared to operate almost Soviet-style in the First Gulf War.

    The PLA by contrast, appears to follow German practice in using Foot and Motorized Infantry Divisions to hold ground and tfor two purposes. The first is to use that ground as a pivot point from which to both canalize (ideally) the enemy into seeking routes of least resistance and subsequently to launch counter-attacks against attacking enemy forces using those routes by their Armoured and Mechanized Divisions during defensive operations. And the second is to use the Light and Medium Divisions to hold ground, and to "gnaw" so to speak at the enemy's defenses while holding ground to provide a base from which the Heavy Divisions may concentrate to launch a decisive attack during offensive operations. It would appear that the motorized divisions (Medium Divisions) at least, maybe foot infantry divisions as well, might follow in the wake of the Heavy Divisions to mop-up resistance and to hold newly-won ground. The Germans in WWII used Foot Infantry Divisions for these purposes while their Armoured and Motorized Divisions were (where possible) ideally reserved for offensives and counter-attacks. The foot infantry divisions themselves rarely engaged in large-scale offensive operations themselves.

    Until recently, the Bundeswehr followed the Wehrmacht in this regard, with Armoured and Mechanized (and an Airborne) Divisions manned by full-time troops intended to be used for decisive operations while the Motorized Divisions of the, manned by part-time TA troops, held ground, engaged in dismounted operations in close country, and otherwise freed up the Armoured and Mechanized Divisions for decisive maneouvre. I see in the current PLA organization a similar concept of operations.

    That said, one of the salient developments that have occurred in the Iraq War has been the striking success, from the first days of the invasion to the present, of Partisan warfare. Iraqi guerrillas proved troublesome even as USA 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division and USMC 1st Marine Division advanced to Baghdad. The partisans, the lightest of light infantry, have often successfully harassed US Forces (as well as others), often maintaining continuous close surveillance of US Forces whereever they are and go, striking them at will, disrupting US operations, and holding and controlling ground (and populations) until such time as the US has to withdraw troops from one area (thus leaving it vulnerable to Partisans recapturing it) in order to try to take (or re-take) that area now controlled by the Partisans. I see in the PLA Militia a similar potential. It leaves one to wonder what the former Iraqi Army could have accomplished (provided of course that it was professionally competent and adequately equipped) with its heavy and medium divisions viv-a-vis Coalition Forces with such Partisan support (bearing in mind though, that the Iraqi Militias in reality are more at war with each other than with the US; the ideal situtation I am speaking of envisions a united militia under a single command).

    I suspect many countries have been watching the events and taking noted with care. It may appear that Light, Medium, and Heavy ground forces may complement each other quite well, but I have a monkey to throw in that wrench. Next time - I've written enough for now.
     
  4. Gollevainen
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    Well my few cents to this discussion comes to point out that I think we are focusing too much here in Desert fighting, where heavy armour and tank units have their natural "Play ground" aviable and all pro/and con arguments rolls beguns from the difficulty to "choose" rigth troops when all can theorethically do the task.
    As A finnish perspective, there is no guestion at all to wheter heavy or ligth units, as the natural conditions here dictates the most. Unlike in world's recent conflicts here armour and heavy units have really little optimal manouvring area. Most of our country outside of urban concentrations are covered by vast wilderness in wich countless of miles of wood-economy roads (small path like roads for tractors to travell in their log-collection trips) and large and open rural areas are also limited. In such enverioment, tank units seldomly can engage each other beyond the range where the enemy can be taken out before they even reach their firing range. In almoust everywhere, the armour units needs to operate in distances where even small and "ligth" AT weapons can deliver killing hit and in tank vs. tank combats, the one with better reflex wins, no matter if its old T-72 or brand new Leo2 in guestion.

    So in ligth of that, its no suprise that in our army, there are only four brigades that could be descriped as "heavy" and 12 or so "ligth" mechanised infantry brigades, with no armour, and bulk of the forces, some 20 and odd brigades (plus countless ind. battalions) are ligth infantry in sense of foot and occasional truck or Bv-206 type of Tracked vhechile transport. This is not becouse we could not afford better, but becouse our army is solely mented to be used in defence of our own soil, by using Areal-defence doctrine, wich (in short) is something like centralised led gurrellia warfare with regular army units done by using the vast area in favor in order to force the enemy to split its troops into large difficoultly reached areas and with extended supply routes.
    In some sense, one could say that all of our groud forces are "climate" units in larger worlds perspective.

    Also In here, all units are manned by reservist or "militia" type of personel, so this type of composition supports the sociological factor of our army. Like myself in example, untill im 25 and if war should come, I will be part of the heavy mechanised infantry brigade with modern 155mm Gun/howitzer, then untill Im about 35 or so, I would be in ligth motorised brigade and after that, in some independent artillery battalion, in all with old 122mm howitzer.

    Like its mentioned in this thread allready, US army currently experiences difficoulties with gurrelia/partisan opponent, So in my perspective, wich is purely for how to defend one's nation, infantry composition should be that most versitile and ligth units are to tie the enemy, and then the main bulk of the forces are the ones that engage the enemy pockets and destroys them, and the heavy units are to preserved for most crucial direction, or for counter attacks and to operate in the two or three major highways that travels from east to west near our coast and all the biggest cities.

    I will return to the issue of "ligth/Heavy" from artillery's point of view later after I have had something to eat. (those who knows me, can prepare another tracked SP unit bashing and loathing meanwhile by reading some of my other post in this forum:D :D )
     
  5. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    Well, here's my monkey(s) in the wrench, and I guess Gollie might not be too happy about it(them) (despite my bashing of Western mechanization, I'm really just a Panzer-Grenadier at heart.) - Tactical Nukes, Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE), and mechanization (and this is what I think Gollie probably won't like in the first place, especially heavy armour and self-propelled artillery - if you hear screams (mine or his) while you read through this thread, ignore them - Gollie's a super-mod and you can't stop him anyway). Here goes:

    1. Tactical Nukes -

    Very, very, very bad - forces an infantry company on the defense to become mechanized so that it can disperse sufficiently to avoid being vapourized and/or irradiated/contaminated etc. and spread out over a defensive frontage of up to 4,400 metres (rather than an otherwise more normal, and sane half-mile or so, but since when do nukes and sanity go together...Oh yeah, MAD! - Sorry, I'm a child of the Cold War.) Being spread out over such a long frontage means you need a few (2-6) TOW Dets attached to each coy and at least a platoon of tanks, because with such a long frontage and gaps between platoons big enough to drive a Motor-Rifle Division through (almost), you've got to kill at a distance wherever you can.

    Unfortunately, of course, if the enemy here knows that your side have tactical nukes too, and comes at you in wave after wave after wave of heavy armour and armoured infantry arranged in spaced-out echelons (they're mechanized too because it's the only way they have a chance of avoiding vapourization and/or irradiation/contamination by your sides' tactical nukes by allowing them to be spread out) and converging together when they're close enough to your positions so that if your side nukes them, you get it too. There are also the effects of EMP to consider, especially if your troops are heavily dependent upon electronics and wireless communications- if your equipment is not EMP hardened (or at least you're stilll using vaccuum tube technology - them Russkies were smarter than NATO sometimes made them out to be) all your solid-state electronics and communications are toast.

    This time-honoured tactic that dates back at least to the Korean War is called "Hugging the Belt", and works just as well for mechanized troops (heavy armour and armoured infantry) against nukes as it did for NKPA, PLA, VC, and NVA foot infantry against superior Allied conventional firepower in Korea and Vietnam in situations where those troops had managed to get close enough to Allied positions such that the latter were either compelled to call down artillery and air strikes on their own positions, or to fight off the attackers with infantry weapons.

    Entrenched Foot Infantry may be able to withstand a certain degree of conventional bombardment with minor effects, but tactical nukes can take out entire foot infantry units because of their necessary concentration along narrow frontages (perhaps 800-1000 metres or so for an infantry company). Without mechanization, they have a great deal of difficulty both dispersing far enough apart to avoid the total destruction of a unit by one tac nuke strike, and in holding their positions with just portable infantry weapons that just don't have the range (or usually firepower) to hit the enemy at long range to either their front or in the gaps between platoons or companies.

    And unless Foot Infantry are also at least Motorized as well, they may not be able to withdraw quickly enough if their position becomes untenable without risking envelopment and subsequent destruction by enemy follow-on forces.
    Motorized Infantry also risk relatively easy destruction by Armoured forces, as Motorized forces carry nothing like the heavy armour and weapons that Armoured forces do, and Armoured forces tend to possess superior cross-country mobility (though Motorized forces are much faster on roads.)

    2. Fuel Air Explosives (FAE) -

    I would say that FAE pose a similar, though on a smaller scale, problem to that of tactical nukes (minus the radiation and contamination). FAE can generate EMP, kill the best and deepest dug-in infantry, and can do so over a good-sized area. Dispersal, and therefore Mechanization is still the best antidote to this problem. The only problem with FAE is that it is very dependent upon weather conditions, and the windier or damper it is, the less complete the aerosol's ignition and detonation will be.

    3. Mechanization -

    As in the previous two points, I have asserted that dispersal is necessary in order for troops (especially infantry) to have a chance of success in the face of tactical atomic weapons and fuel air explosives, and that such dispersion necessarily requires mechanization in order to provide the speed, protection, and firepower necessary to avoid, survive, and defeat opponents with such weapons. Moreover, when one opponent is mechanized and another is not, the mechanized opponent (usually) has, with all other things being equal, the advantage of speed, protection, and firepower over the unmechanized opponent.

    However, there is both a problem and an opportunity for mechanization. The problem for mechanization is this: heavy armour and armoured infantry are critically restricted and even prohibited by conditions of terrain or climate in certain areas from operating successfully or even at all. Very rugged mountains or hill country, swamps and river deltas, deep forest and jungle, and polar regions are such areas. Light infantry typically operate with advantage in such conditions, and due to the natural environment which in itself frequently restricts or prohibits large concentrations of troops on the scale possible in open country, also contributes to a certain level of dispersion as well.

    But this is also mechanization's opportunity: As John Keegan has written in "A History of Warfare", most military operations occurr in the most open areas, and these tend also to be the areas that host the largest populations. Those areas that are by nature the most hostile to mechanized operations are also those that are both the least-populated and the most out-of-the-way, so to speak. Warfare tends to be concentrated in open country and populated areas. Not too many wars are fought over for the possession of the Alps, but a lot of wars have been over the North German Plain. And a lot more wars have been fought in the great plains and river valleys of India and China than in the Himalayas and the Altai. And these are the areas most conducive to mechanized warfare.

    As such, I suggest that the Light, Medium, and Heavy Ground Force distinctions should be made more along former Soviet lines than current US/PLA or even German lines, the former holding that Heavy Divisions (Armour and Armoured Infantry) should form the bulk of one's Army with a relatively small proportion of Light and Medium Divisions (Commando infantry for Light, Motorized infantry for Medium) normally operating in support at the operational level, with Commandos (and with Special forces operating at the Strategic level) raiding or seizing vital points ahead of the main Heavy (Armoured/Armoured Infantry) forces, and Foot (Light) or Motorized (Medium) infantry in modest numbers to handle out-of-the-way areas that feature especially difficult terrain or climate.

    There should be two qualifications to this however. The first is that, as argued above, Heavy ground units or of little or no use in areas that are "Out-of-the-Way" due to extremes of climate or terrain, and thus Light and /or Medium groud units should form the bulk of armies in such areas. The second, which I have deliberately ignored in this post until now, is Partisan warfare. Partisans, or Militias as they are properly called when organized and regulated, can in almost any conditions of climate, terrain, and population effectively operate, adjusting themselves to local conditions. They can be an effective threat even to Heavy ground units (though they can rarely,, if ever defeat them on the basttlefield per se), and in the absence of stronger enemy forces, can effectively control terrain and populations, operate in partial or complete secrecy, and observe the enemy without being observed, blending into the terrain or population and striking the enemy when the opportunity presents itself, and receding into the background when faced with greater force.

    In conclusion, I first propose that Regular Armies that are largely not in the "out-of-the-way" areas that I have described should be composed in the main of Heavy ground units (Tanks, Armoured Infantry, Self-Propelled Artillery, Armoured Engineers, etc.), with relatively small proportions of Light and Medium ground units in the form of Commandos operating in support of Heavy forces at the operational level or for duty in those areas that are out of the way. In the face of Tactical Atomic weapons, FAE, and mechanization itself, dispersal is the best remedy. In areas that do not consists of exteremes of of terrain or climate, mechanization alone provides this dispersal. This should include most countries; for those countries on the other hand that are predominately in out of the way areas, their Regular Armies should consist in the main Light and/or Medium ground units suited to such extremes of terrain and climate, in which disperal is made possible by natural factors alone. Secondly, I propose that all Armies should maintain Militias, probably composed of Partisans, for direct self-defense of their own territory, and in addition to their own operations, to provide both a base of operations, and a pivot point for, Regular Armies (either Heavy in the main or Light or Medium in the main) to deal the decisive blow to the enemy when the opportunity arises.
     
    #5 Norfolk, Aug 17, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
  6. zraver
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    I think people are reading to much into the effectiveness of modern partisans. The US's problems in Iraq are do to systemic problems within the Army itself not due to the partisans strength.

    1- The US did not commit enough boots to the occupation and let order degenerate into civil war. Part of the reason was typical American over confidence "All ur base are belong to us" but part of it has to do with the fact that the US Army and USMC combined did not have enough infantry and MP's for the job.

    2- The US was fixated on offensive operations and had neglected the study of how to control what is effectively a captive hostile population.

    3- Bush inc, the presidents meddling cannot be overstated. He wanted a war that has proven impossible. He wanted to win without cost, but war costs blood and you either pay the piper up front or you pay him later with interest.

    When those things are factored in the insurgents have not done well at all. the most effective weapons are IEDs and snipers and not once have the "light infantry" partisans been able to force the US from a piece of ground.

    If we look at Lebanon we see a similar situation. A modern highly mechanized force committed without a clear understanding of the objectives, poorly trained for the mission at hand, and too few in numbers. Hezzbollah never showed an ability to maneuver or even an ability to take the fight to the IDF other than rocket attacks. Hezzbollah forces would be better described as fortress troops akin to the defenders at Verdun of IJA troops in the Pacific.

    I think the danger is that in order to save money, think tanks are creating a mission that doesn't exist, knowing full well that when the brown stuff hits the spinning stuff these under equipped forces will be pressed into service. A prime example is the Stryker brigade concept. There is not a single significant military operation these units can do better than a heavy mech brigade. The missions they do excel at like convoy escort and raids on insurgent strong holds are more properly defined as police duties.

    There is a reason that outside of a few very narrowly defined roles, the light infantry went the way of the Dodo in the US Military after 1941. Excepting airborne/air mobile roles, mountain/arctic warfare, commando missions etc anything a rifle team can do, a rifle team with a heavy IFV can do better.

    I am not a PLA watcher per se, but I doubt the PLA plans to use its leg infantry other than mountain or naval troops in a war. China lacks a credible threat hat would require a large number of infantry other than its own population. It is my take that the CCP is copying the Soviet model and holding up the military as China. Thus the man in uniform becomes a sign of strength, a unifying influence, and the most visible picture of national pride. It is also a very visible reminder of the Iron fist every goverment posses under neath the velvet glove.

    The lack of credible combat training or even modern weapons for these formations would seem to back this up. They are not so showy but none the less show troops. They also serve the PLA's political-industrial cantonments.

    This model served the Soviets, and now Russia very well. This is one reason the USSR had such a preponderance of infantry formations. Empires need a unifying influence*. They made them heavy because they knew that anything a rifle team could do, a rifle team with a BTR could do better, and a rifle team with a BMP could even beat that. The massive losses of WW2 showed them just how fragile unsupported infantry attacks could be. Plus all that production kept people employed and served political purposes.

    * China may be Han dominated, but it still has resistive populations making it an empire as well.
     
  7. crobato
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    I don't see this Soviet model here. The PLA has evolved into a highly mechanized and now increasingly digitalized force. I think every country uses its soldiers as a kind of unifying image of solidarity and patriotism and the US is certainly no exception to that either. Lately the PLA, at least for its mechanized units, don't seem to lack any modern equipment either.

    The PLA should not be confused with the PAP, which is a 1.5 million police army on its own that handles all internal security matters.

    Resistive populations will that make you an empire? By the same token, these countries would also be empires because of resisting elements in their indigenous populations---the United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Iraq, Serbia, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the list goes on. Well, practically every country in the world, practically, all the African countries, all the South American countries, all the Middle East countries, all the South East Asian countries.
     
  8. crobato
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    Partisans or insurgent warfare were never meant to hold ground and you can find that in every example of insurgent or partisan warfare for the last century or so. Rather their main purpose is to make you bleed. They don't intend to play fair (neither should you) and that means fighting up and facing odds where they will surely lose. I don't see the point of criticizing the Hezbollah for not taking the fight to the Israeli Army. They shouldn't. That would be stupid.

    It is not because of the number of boots. Its what the US should have done in the first place. They should never have broken up the Iraqi Army. Once they have decapitated the heads of the government, they should have it made it clear to the Iraqi Army, they're not out to remove them but rather request that the Army should play a vital part in the reconstruction by keeping the peace.
     
  9. zraver
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    Tito, Mao, Castro, Giap allhad to use irregular force vs conventional forces.


     
  10. Gollevainen
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    Gnah, I like good heated discussion, expecially, when the participants actually knows what they are talking about:D :D

    But here is few counter thougths for the points you raised.

    1. Tactical nukes.
    The usage of Tactical nukes shouldn't be called automatically something that is as normal in the battle field as are normal artillery fire consentrations. There are huge political factors to be considered in use of them, so in any case, if tactical nukes are used, the targets would have to really be worth of the enveriomental/political/ and sociological effects of such strike. A small concentration of enemy units in some disperse woods aren't the first that comes to my mind. Like here in finland, only few such targets would exist, along with areas where I allready suggested that "heavy" units would operate.

    Where as I offered ligth infantry to be used as partisan mode you have to remember that part of partisan warfare is dispersion of your own troops so that the large and heavy enemy cannot force them to figth on their way and therefore destroy such units in setpiece engagements. Using nukes directly against partisans would not in my mind suffice the use of such controversal weapons.

    2. The FAE
    There I have to admit that you are rigth. During our training, the emphasis of areal thread always conentrated on possiple use of such weapons and we had lots of training of how to operate under such attack, how to shut out the fires and give first aid to burned casualties. However as you pointed out the climatical conditions takes lots of effect out of them, I think finland's climatical and also geographical conditions are not most favorable to use of FAE, as there is always windy and rainy, along with deep winter periods with considerable moisture always present.

    3. The mechanisation.
    As you said mechanised units will come handicapped in special terrain or climatical conditions, but In my perspective, these are always present like I posted in my first reply. Also you mentioned that "battle" seeks itself into open terrains, wich I agree is true, but atleast here, in order to reach such areas, not to mention supply the troops operating there, needs to go trough areas where mechanisation isent the most flexible way to be.

    But Im speaking of "out of the way" type of warfare, as In here, it is the only way to figth and we have to adjust ourselves to the conditions that we have.
    Partisanwarfare, wich you said is the parade march of the ligth infantry (and I agree) should not be looked so easily as irregular's way of figthing but should be considered as good alternative to any nation that has the aviability to exploid it as main defence doctrine. When regular army figths in partisan way, they will bring command, control & communication networks, heavy fire-support in form of artillery and even airsupport (the swedish Base-60 concept) into the partisan warfare that allready poses difficoulties to heavy mechanised troops.

    Thats why my point is that if your armed forces are fore defence, the emphasis should not be so blindly towards all heavy and only special ligth units.
     
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