Fire And Ice: Preparation And Employment Of Marine Artillery In Cold Weather AUTHOR Major Philip C. Rudder, USMC CSC 1990 SUBJECT AREA Artillery EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: Fire and Ice: Preparation and Employment of Marine Artillery in Cold Weather I. PURPOSE: To explain how Marine artillery prepares for cold weather warfare and to describe problems which must be addressed in employing artillery in cold weather conditions. II. THESIS: To provide effective fire support, Marine artillery must be prepared to defeat the effects of cold weather through detailed planning, preparation and execu- tion. III. ISSUE: Warfare in cold weather is harsh and de- manding. The impact of extreme temperatures on men and equipment can be devastating to military operations. Combat forces which are unprepared for the effects of cold weather will fail to accomplish their mission. Providing fire support is particularly difficult due to the environment and the diverse terrain of cold weather regions. Artillerymen can prepare themselves for combat in cold weather regions through detailed planning and preparation. Once properly prepared, execution of fire support responsibilities can be accomplished by using cold weather skills and techniques. Issues of specific concern to artillerymen are positioning, mobility, communications, gunnery and logistics. IV. CONCLUSION: Artillerymen can provide uninterrupted fire support in cold weather if they plan for the effects of extreme temperatures. Through the study of warfare in cold weather, artillerymen can prepare themselves by obtaining the proper equipment and by training Marines in the neces- sary skills to not only survive, but to effectively perform their duties. FIRE AND ICE: PREPARATION AND EMPLOYMENT OF MARINE ARTILLERY IN COLD WEATHER OUTLINE THESIS STATEMENT. To provide effective fire support, Marine artillery must be prepared to defeat the effects of cold weather through detailed planning, preparation and execu- tion. I. Cold Weather Conditions Described. A. Types of Cold Weather. B. Effects of Wind Chill. II. Planning Considerations. III. Preparing for Cold Weather Operations. A. Equipment. B. Training. IV. Tactical Considerations. A. Positioning. B. Mobility. C. Communications. D. Gunnery. E. Logistics. FIRE AND ICE: PREPARATION AND EMPLOYMENT OF MARINE ARTILLERY IN COLD WEATHER On the night of November 12, the first icy blasts of winter swirled down from Manchuria. The temperature dipped to -25 degrees, and the wind- chill factor was indescribable. During the interludes of cold weather that followed, the effectiveness of our fire support decreased. The combat effectiveness of the individual Marine, who had to devote an increasing portion of his energies to personal survival, also plummeted. (11:179) This account of conditions at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1951 by Colonel Francis Fox Parry, then a major commanding 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, captures the devastating effects of fighting in extremely cold condi- tions. When men fight in a cold weather environment, they fight more than each other. They also must fight the cold. History has repeatedly shown us that General Winter is a harsh, merciless adversary. (10:121) Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812 and Nazi Germany's attack on Moscow in 1941 are good examples. Unable to achieve their objectives before the Russian winter set in, these armies were subjected to the rigors of extreme temperatures and deep snowfalls.(4:89) Ultimately, both armies were in- capable of effectively continuing the fight; beaten more by the harsh winter conditions in which they found themselves than by their human opponents. (2:212-223 & 1:64-68) Warfare in cold weather or the arctic does not mean business as usual. It requires innovation and adaptability. Our own experience in Korea in 1951 provides a model to study. We were not prepared to fight in the conditions in which we found ourselves. (10:121) Ill-clothed and untrained for the weather, Marines made heroic efforts to continue to fight despite their lack of preparedness. (8:2-1 -- 2-4) Marines were forced to change their techniques in battle to achieve the same effects as when the weather was more temperate. (8:2-1) The character of warfare does not change in cold weather. Units must still effectively perform their missions. This is particularly true for Marine artillery. Inclement weather conditions may preclude air operations, making artillery the primary means of fire support. (8:2-4) Artillerymen must stand ready to deliver fires to support the infantry under all conditions. Through detailed planning, preparation and execution, artillerymen can defeat the effects of cold weather and provide timely and accurate fire support. The Marine Corps divides cold weather into types of cold weather. Four different distinctions are made: wet cold, dry cold, intense cold and extreme cold. Wet cold is characterized by varying temperatures that cause alternate freezing and thawing. Dry cold conditions are temperatures lower than 14 degrees F. Intense cold occurs when tempera- tures are between -5 degrees and -25 degrees F. Extreme cold conditions are those below -25 degrees F.(9:1-1 -- 1-2) All cold weather conditions affect the way soldiers fight. Most combat activity occurs in wet cold and dry cold conditions. Intense cold slows down the level of combat activity and extreme cold conditions inhibit full-scale combat. (9:1-2) The level of training and access to special clothing and equipment, or the lack thereof, will determine the effectiveness of a fighting force. Equipment, too, succumbs to the effects of the cold. These effects usually occur in intense and extreme weather conditions. (9:1-1) Wind chill further increases the effects of cold weather. Winds make it much colder than the ambient temperature suggests. The effects of wind chill can make Marines numb and indifferent to events occurring around them. (9:1-2) At extreme temperatures, wind chill accentu- ates the cold. The battle for personal survival becomes dominant. All other problems become insignificant to this personal struggle to survive. (9:1-2) In planning for cold weather operations, artillerymen must look carefully at the effects of the cold on people and equipment. Cold weather operations demand close attention to logistical planning and training more than any other type of military operation. (8:4-2) Severity of weather, lack of roads and lack of mobility must be considered in all phases of planning. (3:2-1) Development of logistics plans, operational plans and training requirements from the pre- deployment phase to in-theatre operations requires the close personal attention of the commander. (3:4-1) Proper prepara- tions for cold weather combat will give Marines an advantage against General Winter and possibly over the enemy as well. Historical study of warfare in cold weather regions illustrates this last point. In 1939, the Finns and the Russians fought the Winter War over territory along their border. The Finns were well prepared for winter warfare while the Russians were not. (7:45) Many Russians died that winter because they were inadequately clothed and equipped for cold weather. In 1941, the Germans experienced the same fate in the same region because they did not study the lessons that the Winter War offered to them. (5:2 & 8) More recently, the British Royal Marines, who train extensively in cold weather regions, wrest back the Falkland Islands from Argentina. In contrast, the Argentinian conscripts, who were suffering terribly from the Falkland's harsh environment, were unable to muster the will to fight. (6:321) Preparing for combat in cold weather requires attention to detail. Resupply and communications between units may be difficult. Provisions must be made for units to be largely self-sufficient and to operate autonomously if required. (3:2-1) Both Marines and their equipment must be prepared for the difficulties of operating in a hostile environment. The effects of the cold on the operational efficiency of units can be minimized if planners concentrate on two key areas; personal and special cold weather equipment for their Marines and specific cold weather training. Personal cold weather equipment has improved signi- ficantly since the Corps fought in Korea. No longer do we have bulky parkas and heavy under garments. A new system, the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System, known as ECWCS, has replaced the 1950's era clothing. ECWCS is made of synthetic materials designed to wick away moisture from a person's body. This is particulary important in cold weather when sweat soaked clothing can chill the wearer to the bone. This clothing system has proven extremely effective in all types of cold weather. (9:2-3) Artillerymen benefit from this new clothing in several ways. Moving heavy artillery pieces in snow or man-handling ammunition requires a remarkable amount of physical exer- tion. Clothing which wicks away the sweat from the can- noneers will allow them to work the guns longer before they must come out of the cold to warm themselves. Another benefit is that ECWCS keeps less physically active Marines, such as fire direction personnel or Marines on guard, warm as well. Artillerymen also must use special organizational equipment to further increase their efficiency in cold weather. Arctic tents, two hundred pound sleds, called ahkios and yukon stoves are used to augment the normal complement of organizational equipment. This additional equipment is used at the lowest level in the battery, by gun crews and communication sections, to protect Marines from the cold when resting or sleeping. Good equipment may protect us from the cold, but training will make us effective cold weather fighters. Special skills are required to fight in cold weather. Practical training to teach these skills prepares Marines to deal with the cold and overcome its effects. Individual training must be conducted before Marines deploy to cold weather regions. People need to know how to live in cold weather and how to use the special cold weather equipment that has been issued to them. Instruction on cold weather skills must begin early in the pre-deployment phase. Training must repeatedly reinforce the point that a person can not only survive in the cold, but he can remain tacti- cally and technically proficient in his duties as well. Artillerymen receive essentially the same cold weather training as that received by infantrymen. Physical con- ditioning is very important. Marines will expend a greater amount of energy keeping warm and walking through snow than they expend in temperate climates. (9:1-4) They must learn to recognize the symptoms of cold weather illnesses and how to prevent them. How to correctly wear their cold weather clothing and how to use their cold weather equipment are basic to this course of instruction. Classes on survival techniques must be taught and reinforced through practice. The basic thrust of individual training is to create a sense of confidence in each Marine that his equipment is reliable and that he can survive and operate in this harsh environment. Once his personal fears of living in cold weather are eased, a Marine can be counted on to accomplish his mission effectively. More important than individual training of Marines is the training of small unit leaders. It will be the crew chiefs and section leaders who motive an artillery battery to operate smoothly in cold weather. NCO's are the tent leaders who supervise the buddy system used in cold weather operations. They enforce the regimen for bivouac routine, personal hygiene and field sanitation. (9:6-1) Small unit leaders must learn many things before they can effectively lead their Marines in cold weather. They must learn to recognize and counter depression brought on by an over-concern for personal safety. They must learn to recognize and cure the "cocoon" syndrome, where people bundle up in successive layers of clothing, cover their heads and assume an inward focus. (9:1-4) They must learn how to maintain their equipment and weapons. Each leader must understand that to lead people in cold weather requires increased activity and vigilance on his part if his unit is to be successful in combat. (9:1-5) Unit training before deployment presents a problem. Using cold weather equipment in a temperate climate where there isn't any snow may ruin it. Marines may not fully understand how this equipment works without having snow in which to use it. Nevertheless, units must practice the additional tasks and techniques required to operate in cold weather regions. It is imperative that individual skills, survival techniques and bivouac routines are practiced once deployed to a cold weather environment. Commanders must learn that time to execute tasks is increased when operating in cold weather. (9:1-4) Tasks that are done quickly in warmer climates take much longer to execute in the cold, as cold Marines fighting fatigue grapple with equipment. This is especially true of artil- lery units where emplacement of howitzers, fire direction centers and communications sites require increased man- handling of equipment. (11:179) The time it takes to move from one position to another position increases, too. Cold weather and snow prevent rapid movement by units that are dependent on wheeled vehicles. Warming vehicles, driving over icy roads and moving through snow cause units to take longer to displace than they would in a more temperate climate. Maintenance and operation of equipment in cold weather regions must be taught. Equipment will require special maintenance and starting procedures in the cold. Drivers must learn to drive on ice and snow covered roads. Pulling artillery pieces of any size or driving heavily ladened vehicles demands concentration and quick judgement when brakes fail. The operation of bulldozers and front scoop loaders requires different techniques in snow covered areas. Vehicle operators must be aware of the hazards of working on frozen ground and ice covered surfaces. If possible, they should develop their skills before deployment or immediately upon arrival in a cold weather climate. Forward observer teams and liaison teams assigned to the infantry must receive training different from that received by the rest of the battalion. These Marines must train with their assigned infantry units. They must fully integrate themselves into the tent teams and bivouac routines the infantry use. They must be as proficient at snowshoeing and skiing as the infantrymen they support. Once properly clothed, equipped and trained for cold weather operations, artillerymen will find that their fire support responsibilities in cold weather regions are the same as in other areas. (3:3-5) Yet, the geography and climate of cold weather regions cause unique problems for artillerymen. Problems of positioning, mobility and communications are increased with the ability of the infantry to move rapidly over the snow. (3:3-5) Gunnery solutions and logistics are also affected by cold weather operations. Positioning of artillery in cold weather regions requires detailed preparation and a thorough study of the terrain. Roads may be few and unsuited to heavy vehicle movement. Traversing the terrain by cross-country movement may be limited if operating in regions where the soil is predominantly tundra. Tundra must freeze to a depth of approximately 18 inches to hold vehicles. If it doesn't, it will not hold wheeled vehicles much less howitzers. (3:3-6) The rule of thumb is to position batteries in winter only in places where you also would position them in summer. Swift occupation of firing positions is critical to effective artillery support. Time required for reconnais- sance, selection and occupation of positions in cold weather is significantly increased. Battery commanders may need snow clearing equipment to prepare positions for occupation. Snow clearing equipment does not travel as fast as HMMWVs or trucks, so the rate of march will be much slower. Clearing snow from positions will take time, especially if the snow is deep (18 inches or greater). Positions may require one or two days of preparation before they are ready for occupation. Snow clearing equipment can be a scarce commodity, as all elements of the force will require its use. Therefore, battalion commanders must carefully plan new battery loca- tions in anticipation of the infantry's movement. Close coordination with snow clearing platoons is critical to success. In the offense, once a position is secured by the infantry, no time must be lost in preparing it for occupa- tion. Organization for combat will play an important part in positioning artillery. Because of the compartmented nature of terrain in most cold weather regions, the ground com- mander may operate in regimental combat teams vice a division. (3:3-1) If this occurs, the direct support artillery battalions must take on the added task of counter- fire. (3:3-6) Additionally, the regimental commander may further task organize into battalion size task forces, which may require a battery in a dedicated battery role to an infantry battalion. (7:42) This will greatly reduce the artillery battalion's ability to mass fires. Careful discussion must precede such a decision to emphasize that fire support may be degraded to the force as a whole and that logistical burdens will increase. Mobility of artillery units must be considered by the ground commander. By its very nature, artillery must deploy with heavy vehicles and equipment to perform its mission. Movement will be slower than that in a temperate climate. In cold weather regions, this lack of mobility may hinder the ability of the infantry to advance as quickly as they are able. Positions must be planned so that batteries can range the zone of action by fire and communicate with forward observers and supported infantry units. With our current inventory of M198 155mm howitzers, artillery battalions are completely road bound. Dis- placement by helicopter will only be possible if CH-53E helicopters are also deployed with the force. Cross-country mobility will be dependent upon the depth of the perma-frost and the depth of the snow. The venerable M101A1 105mm howitzer, or its replacement, would solve a few of the artillery's mobility problems, but not all of them. (7:45) Trucks pulling guns and hauling ammunition will be the major factor to overcome in all movement schemes. Communication is the deciding factor in how successful artillery units are in accomplishing their mission. Cold weather makes great demands on communications systems. Northern regions are subject to magnetic storms, aurora borealis and ionospheric disturbances. (3:5-1) The cumula- tive effects of terrain, cold, dampness and ice on communi- cations equipment increases maintenance and supply problems. Transmission and reception of radio signals are dependent upon the full effort of operators and repairmen in the installation and operation of communications equipment. (3:5) Siting of antenna farms is perhaps the most critical element for good communications in cold weather. Antenna farms should be sited up high to maintain line of sight with maneuvering infantry units. If Marine artillery units are using over the snow vehicles, such as the Norwegian BV-206, the communications section must have priority for their use. These vehicles can get personnel and equipment up on ridges to choice locations. Radio relay sites also must be planned into the artil- lery's movement plan. Because of the lack of roads in cold weather regions and the inherent lack of mobility in artillery units, the infantry may move away faster than artillery batteries can displace. Relay sites allow the artillery battalion commander to remain in contact with the supported infantry units. Communications are normally lost with our infantry brethren long before they move out from under artillery protection. Proper planning can preclude lost communications and subsequent lack of artillery fire support. Laying wire for communications will be an exacting task in cold weather, but no less important. A more secure means by which to communicate, wire is less affected by magnetic and other natural disturbances. However, the wire section will have problems running wire over extended distances through deep snow. Wire operations may be relegated to defensive operations more than offensive operations. Nevertheless, if the occasion to run wire presents itself, artillery units should wire in. The use of snowmobiles to lay wire should be seriously considered. Solution of the artillery gunnery problem takes on added dimensions in cold weather warfare. Cold weather regions have a variety of geographic features. High mountains, deep forests and vast stretches of plains are all found in cold weather regions. These terrain features can affect the accuracy of fires and alter how fire direction officers attack targets. Forward observers may have trouble making accurate target locations due to the difficult terrain. Target location errors may be exacerbated by inaccurate maps and the inability to gauge distances or use lasers in the snow. Observation also may be limited during periods of fog, snowstorms, or blowing snow. (3:3-7) Survey operations to accurately locate positions may be difficult in cold weather. Some places where Marines may fight will have excellent survey control points already in place. Norway is a good example. However, other areas may be devoid of survey. In these areas, surveying battery positions will be difficult. The Position Azimuth Deter- mining System, PADS, will aid to a large degree. However, once surveying parties go off the beaten path, problems will arise. Traverse surveying techniques may prove impractical over large distances in the snow. (3:3-7) Instrument fog-up and other mechanical failures will be experienced. (3:3-7) Triangulation surveying techniques will become more practi- cal than traverse techniques. (3:3-7) The newly installed Global Positioning System may be the best way to determine position. This system, based upon the use of satellites, may prove extremely helpful to all units in regions where survey control and maps are inadequate. Loss of range is yet another gunnery concern. A reduc- tion as great as 100 meters per every 1,000 meters of range can be expected in extremely cold temperatures. (3:3-8) Great care must be taken in firing near friendly troops or over intervening crests. Registration of batteries should account for the decrease in range. However, the terrain may hinder the artillery's ability to register. Rounds may be lost in snow or tundra, or unobserved in deep forests or dense brush. (3:3-7) High burst registrations will be the most accurate way to register. Meterological data and muzzle velocity error methods of increasing accuracy, known as Met + VE, should be used vice registering. The selection of shell/fuze combinations to attack targets will be dictated by the terrain and cold tempera- tures. Snow and unfrozen tundra reduce the effects of high explosive rounds, improved conventional munitions and scatterable mine munitions. Variable time fuzes and illumination rounds may malfunction in extremely low temperatures. (3:3-8) Rounds may skip when the ground is frozen and there is little snow cover. High explosive air bursts will produce the best effects on the target. Experimentation must occur to find the most effective shell/fuze combinations for the conditions. Logistical support by combat service support units will be critical to the success of artillery units. Fuel, ammunition and equipment repair are of utmost importance to artillery units operating in the cold. Artillery units use greater amounts of fuel as the weather becomes colder. Once the temperature reaches 14 degrees, vehicles must run constantly or be started every hour to prevent cold soaking of engines and drive trains. Failure to keep vehicles up and running could mean the difference in moving forward to provide timely fire support or becoming ranged. Unit refuelers take on even greater importance in cold weather operations. Ammunition resupply takes longer in cold weather. Artillery ammunition of any size and amount will be cumber- some to deliver over frozen ground or deep snows. The few routes available for resupply may be blocked by traffic, enemy activity or ice and snow. Resupply by helicopter is an attractive alternative. However, its use is dependent upon good weather. Commanders must constantly monitor their ammunition count and plan well ahead for resupply. Cold weather greatly increases the maintenance problems of artillery units. Batteries, starters and seals are the first casualties of cold weather. Vehicles may become disabled due to cold soaking. When this happens, they must be warmed in a shelter for several hours before they can be restarted. Howitzers will react to the cold by losing nitrogen pressure as the cold compresses gases. Frequent checks of howitzer recoil systems and equilibrators will detect these problems before they become serious. Repairs to equipment will be harder to make in cold weather. Replacing parts on vehicles will take longer. Mechanics will be exposed to fuels and lubricants, in- creasing the chance of frostbite. Commanders must allot extra time for performing maintenance. Lack of proper maintenance of equipment will eventually decrease operation- al effectiveness. Finally, a shortage of repair parts may require the MAGTF commander to authorize cannibalization of equipment. (3:4-5) Cold weather operations are difficult and rigorous. They present artillerymen many challenges in providing timely and accurate fire support. Planning and preparing for cold weather combat requires study of the effects of the cold on men and equipment. Cold weather operations demand meticulous planning and the commander's close personal attention. Properly clothed, equipped and trained Marines will have the skills and confidence to execute their duties effectively. Fire support responsibilities remain unchanged, yet different ways in positioning units, achieving gunnery solutions and maintaining communications are required. Renewed emphasis on maintenance of equipment is essential lest a battalion degrade its ability to move or fire. History has shown us that those unprepared to fight in the cold will perish in the icy grip of General Winter. In today's Marine Corps, the experiences of the Marines who fought their way back from the Chosin Reservoir have not been forgotten. We train hard in places like Bridgeport, CA, Fort Mc Coy, WI and northern Norway to prepare ourselves for combat in cold weather regions. Now, if General Winter chances again to put us to the test, he will find us ready and able to do battle. Bibliography 1. Anders, Wladyslaw, Gen. Hitler's Defeat in Russia. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1953. 2. Belloc, Hilaire. The Campaign of 1812 and the Retreat from Moscow. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1924. 3. Dept. of the Army. Northern Operations, FM 31-71. (Washington, D.C., 1971). 4. Dept. of the Army. The German Campaign In Russia, Planning and Operations (1940-1942), Pamphlet No.20-261a. (Washington, D.C., 1955). 5. Dept. of the Army. Warfare in the Far North, Pamphlet No.20-292. (Washington D. C., 1951). 6. Hastings, Max, and Simon Jenkins. The Battle for the Falklands. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1983. 7. Kubasko, Wayne P., Col, USA. "Field Artillery Operations in the Arctic." Field Artillery Journal, (October, 1987), 42-46. 8. MCCDC, USMC. Impact of Cold Weather on MAGTF Amphibious Operations during the Mid-Range Study. (Quantico, 1980). 9. MCCDC, USMC. Small-Unit Leader's Guide to Cold Weather Operations, FMFRP 7-23. (Quantico, 1988). 10. Montross, Lynn, and Nicholas A. Canzona, Capt, USMC. U. S. Marine Corps Operations in Korea, 1950-1953, Vol III, "The Chosin Reservoir Campaign." Washington, D. C.: Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, USMC, 1957. 11. Parry, Francis Fox, Col, USMC (Ret). Three-War Marine. New York: Jove Books, 1987.
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