posted on Jan, 25 2006 @ 11:34 PM
I feel Tanks are no longer useful
Wrong, for the wrong reasons. If you treat the tank as an 'untouchable' asset then yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to develop and deploy
weapons system which are entirely proofed against all weapons on particularly the uncoventional/urban battlefield.
OTOH, if you treat tanks as patrol vehicles, supporting infantry operations by denying freedom of mobility and fires to guerillas.
Or 'Wave' vehicles designed to break up as much as out of fixed, linear, defenses by grinding them down.
Then typically what kills one tank will die by the gun of another.
I disagree. In the combat in which the US is now involved, you are correct. Tanks aren't very useful against guerilla operations. However, I think
it has been shown time and time again that there are still situations in which tanks are quite necessary.
Bradleys and Abrahms are /vastly/ more survivable than even the 1114 Hummers. They equal the Stryker in some areas, better it in others. If you ever
go to Baghdad and are given a choice of vehicles to 'take the tour' in, go with a track. It's just so much simpler to add uparmor packages (TUSK)
and make them hardier against mine/IED threats that it's not even funny.
The only reason we don't ALL ride around in heavy vehicles (M113 with Zelda+ ERA) is fad and fuel. Nobody cares about tearing up Iraqi streets and
we certainly have sufficient 113s still in the inventory to readily accomplish the mission. But it would cost fuel and 'mystique' as 'the trend'
towards medium/objective brigade in a big-wheels configuration is now well and truly commited to and many peoples reputation is on the line now.
Look at gulf war I. Or the onset of the war in Iraq.
Be aware, we were 'in Iraq', _both_ times. PGW-II (Desert Saber) and PGW-III (Iraqi Freedom) are less about the efficacy of tanks in maneuver
warfare than the presence or lack thereof of adequate targeting and delivery systems for alternative methods of engagement to the traditional maneuver
In 1991, we failed to drive hard enough and so ran into Tanks where we didn't think there were any and then again where we knew they were but could
not catch them as we tried to shorten the radius of the loop-around.
In both instances (73 Easting and the big Oil Field battle) Iraqi forces outnumbering U.S. ones by almost 2:1 were defeated by precision fires and
shock of contact. But in NEITHER case was the total engagement size or loss BY EITHER SIDE anywheres near /half/ the vehicles obliterated on the
Highway of Death. And the USAF quit there before they brought in the CEM BUFFs.
What this indicates, is that the Iraqi ground forces /in/ Kuwait (as occupational troops) were readily put into flight by the mere approach of U.S.
troops. And probably had been that way ever since their own pillaging, coupled with the interdiction of supplies, had assured that they could not
afford to be captured so much as engaged.
OTOH, the IRG and Army armor units occupying block force positions in the KTO or detailed to intercept U.S. units in it's surrounds were largely
crippled by their fear of the desert more than coallition air or armorand this is what threw them into a fixed defensive mindset. And once there,
they could have been taken out by any number of means unrelated to LOS heavy tube.
Because there was nowhere to hide once they started turning earth to prep fighting redoubts.
Indeed, it should be remembered that the A-10 was sent North to bust up various 'Home Depot' 'The Villas' and similar arms storage facilities, as
well as hunt SCUDs _because the F-16 couldn't loiter at range_. Had the A-10 been used, as a full force CASBAI team rather than FOL 'cajun'
Detachment system, frontally as was originally intended, Iraqi losses in armor would have been vastly greater.
i.e. The entire mad rush by units to kill X number of enemy vehicles in weeks or hours of comparitive competition was purely a reflection of the
theater commanders' desire to play each off the other with intent to show up all the elements of combined arms. Rather than any true illustration of
what Mech forces can do 'once off the leash'.
If there is another major war in the world that doesnt involve nukes, tanks, in conjunction with air superiority, are going to be quite a valuable
'Major Wars' run 300 billion to fight, 500 billion to clear up the aftermath. We cannot afford 'Major Wars' where we don't get to own the
Such is the preeminent inefficiency of armor that it must:
1. Be massed with multiple other vehicle types so that it's own force protection is assured.
2. Be supported 'en-masse' with logistics ton-miles that are up in the 2000 ton day for a division.
3. Cannot leverage value with standoff, either in protecting itself. Or in engaging threats trying to deny contact in flight or maneuver.
4. Be deployed in such terrain as to allow it to move at speed without becoming bogged down. This includes not only the active theater but the
marshalling/leap off one.
5. Account for an existing force model (tank vs. tank) both in justifying it's presence and in layering protective vs. lethality vs. mobility
Whereby THE NATURE of a 'Major War' (MTW/MRC) is thus defined by how bad things get before you can bring in the force components necessary to
reverse and/or stop as much as win it. As a function of time.
If you want to fight a 'sophisticated' (high intensity in small dollops) war, you may well find yourself using lighter vehicles than you do a COIN
op. Because a Shadow RSTV can drag a Netfires CLU trailer with upwards of 10-12 shots around the north forty, engaging targets that it would take an
equivalent of six A-10's to match with Maverick. While the Warthog would have to share the same horizonline with it's target (I kill, You kill) the
Netfires (Hellfire and/or LOCAAS on a booster) can strike from over 60km away.
Under these conditions (my 250,000 vehicle and 2.5 million dollar U-Haul trailer, dumped out the back of a V-22; your 100 million dollar investment in
an armored division), signature means more than firepower and any threat which masses just dies quicker.
While any system which can go 1v.Many 'and come back tomorrow' to finish what it lob-snipe started, can be deployed as soon as the first elements
reach theater which means that Dictator X can begin losing a company's worth of vehicles per day within 2-3 days (instead of 120+) from the moment we
decide to stop him.
THAT is how you win major wars. By not giving your enemy the time or the massed force to roll over his neighbors, let alone fortify his position.
And it will always be so because, even with APS/Dazzler/Reactive type systems; the value of the ATGW will never match the value of the tank and so you
can afford to saturate each vehicle with multiple kill vectors on a very short (missile:target) horizon.
It's even competitive with the air delivery mission because it doesn't pay to develop surface to surface DEW like it does Surface To Air on a
technology scaling vs. value basis.
The Army knows all this but as usual they are thinking backwards because they are 'looking out a very small aperture' as the world goes by in the
And the Air Services just laugh it up at their poor little retarded gruntian cousins. Because they can hold up Key West as their get out of jail free
card. While the Army has done nothing but deemphasize the NLOS mission in everything from ATACMS II to Crusader and HIMARS. Heck, even Netfires is
more or less on technology coal-bed life support at the moment.