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Limited Visibility Operations:Where Have We Been And Where
Are We Going
CSC 1984
SUBJECT AREA Training
                        LIMITED VISIBILITY OPERATIONS:
                   WHERE HAVE WE BEEN AND WHERE ARE WE GOING
                                 Submitted to
                   Col. R. J. Berens, USA (Ret.), Instructor
                    In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements
                         for Written Communications
                  The Marine Corps Command and Staff College
                              Quantico, Virginia
                             Major M. E. Williams
                          United States Marine Corps
                                 April 6, 1984
                        LIMITED VISIBILITY OPERATIONS:
                   WHERE HAVE WE BEEN AND WHERE ARE WE GOING
                                    Outline
Thesis Statement:  The military history of the 20th
                   Century shows that ground forces of
                   the United States should place more
                   emphasis on improving its doctrine
                   and techniques for limited visibility
                   operations.
I.  Introduction
II. Historical Review
    A.  Russo-Japanese War, 1904
    B.  World War I, 1914-I918
    C.  World War II, 1939-1945
    D.  Korean War, 1950-1953
    E.  Falklands War, 1982
III.  Doctrine Today
      A. Individual Efforts of U. S. Army Units
      B. Collective Efforts of U. S. Forces
IV.   Technological Developments
      A. Sniper Night Sight
      B. 81mm Screening Cartridges
      C. TOW and Dragon Night Sights
      D. Night Imaging Therman Equipment (NITE)
      E. Night Vision Goggles
V.  Conclusions
    A.  Unified Effort on Doctrine and Tactics
    B.  Continued Effort on Technological Developments
    C.  Limited Visibility Operations Are A Combat
        Multiplier
               LIMITED VISIBILITY OPERATIONS:
        WHERE HAVE WE BEEN AND WHERE ARE WE GOING
     Sir Basil Liddell Hart wrote in 1944 that, "Darkness
is a friend to the skilled infantryman."1  This often
quoted but, unfortunately, under appreciated statement
contains even greater validity 40 years later.  We only
have to examine the superior numbers of manpower and
weapons possessed by our primary adversary to realize
that on the tactical level, we will have to refine and
practice techniques which will minimize his strengths
and maximize ours.  One of these techniques is, most
assuredly, the night attack.
	During the course of this paper, I will show that
because of the lethality of modern weaponry, coupled
with the continuous operations envisioned, there is a
definite need for U. S. Forces to further their ability
to fight during periods of limited visibility as well as
they do during the day. To assist in accomplishing this
end, I will trace the use of night operations during the
20th Century.  Then, using this information as a back-
drop, we will look at current status of U. S. doctrinal
and technological initiatives.  For the purpose of this
paper, the term night operations will encompass the
larger theme of limited visibility operations which
includes fog, rain, snow, dust, smoke and darkness.
                   WHERE HAVE WE BEEN
Russo-Japanese War, 1904
	In contrast to Western armies, both the Russian and
Japanese forces dedicated a significant amount of their
tactical thought and practice to night operations.  The
Japanese in particular, showed a particular aptitude for
this form of ground combat.  Trained by German instruc-
tors and adopting many Russian methods, they perfected
night attack techniques for operations of limited size
and objective.  Eventually, their encounters with
superior Russian manpower and weaponry convinced them
that their greatest chance of victory lay in the large
scale, limited visibility operation.  At the Battle of
San Kwai Seki San, they used no less than 23 battalions
in a single night attack.  At the end of this conflict,
they were the most formidable night fighting force in
the world.  They learned their lessons well:  a fact we
would verify during World War Il.
World War I
	The experiences of the Russo-Japanese War created a
lot of interest in Europe, particularly Germany and
England.  Both of these countries started to place more
emphasis on night operations, especially patrolling.
Neither side placed much stock in the large scale night
attack, considering it too hard to command and control.
Most students of military history, upon reviewing the
battles of World War I, tend to conclude that night
attacks were rarely attempted and those that were,
resulted in dismal failure.  Closer scrutiny reveals
that several of the most successful campaigns had
started under the cover of fog and/or darkness.  These
campaigns included the second phase of the Somme on
14 June 1916; Cambrai in 1917; all three German break-
throughs in 1918; and the penetration of the Hindenberg
Line in September 1918, which led to the end of the
war.  Because of his experiences at the two phases of
the Somme Battle, Sir Basil Liddell Hart became a strong
advocate of night operations as a means of obtaining
tactical surprise.  In his booklet, The Future of Infan-
try, he additionally recommended the development of
night fighting aids such as artificial moonlight and
fog.
	Another warrior and writer of great merit who was an
advocate of night operations during World War I was the
future Field Marshall, Erwin Rommel.  In his book,
Attacks, he outlines three particular instances when he
utilized limited visibility operations.  His lessons
learned were that to be successful, the night attack
must be thoroughly rehearsed; the use of supporting
fires must be weighed against the loss of surprise and,
if used, must be closely coordinated with the attacking
force.  Finally, he recommended that sufficient security
forces be provided to ensure the protection of the
attackers in case of early disclosure.
Between the Wars
	During the period between the World Wars, the mili-
tary of most nations went through the normal process of
preparing after action reports to glean the many lessons
learned or, more accurately, relearned.  Of particular
note was the effort produced by the U. S. Army Infantry
School called Infantry in Battle.  Chapter XXV of this
book is dedicated to night attacks and concludes that
"... extreme attention be accorded that military trinity
of the night:  direction, control and surprise."2  It
further concluded that, among the many items a commander
must take into consideration in planning night
operations, the following are particularly important:
		"    Night attacks should be undertaken by
	fresh, well trained troops in good physical
     condition.
     	The objective should be well defined and
     easily recognized in the dark.
          The units making the attack should be able
     to form opposite the objective and at no great
     distance from it.
     	Each attacking column must drive through to
     its objective without regard to the progress of
     adjacent units.
     	Routes of approach should be clearly defined
     and unmistakable in the dark.
          Subordinate leaders should be given adequate
	opportunity for daylight reconnaissance.
          The formation should facilitate the mainten-
     ance of direction and control.
          A strong leader with a few determined men
     should head the column.                                        
		Orders must be explicit.
          Security and silence are essential."3
	The British were also busy evaluating night
operations during this period.  In January 1932, the
Official History of the Somme Battle was published by
the War Office.  The shocking comparison between the
failure of the first phase and the success of the
second caused them to appoint a committee to ensure the
lessons of the war could be applied to the training
manuals and schools of the Army.  Among the conclusions
of the subsequent report were the following passages:
		"...that movement by night may often be the
	only way of obtaining a tactical surprise, and
     attack by night is the most economical way of
     crowning it by tactical victory."
		"We agreed that the great importance of a
	cloke of obscurity, darkness, fog or artificial
     smoke should be stressed, and in our training
     more attention paid to:
		(a) moving at night on wide frontages;
          (b) working in foggy weather
          (c) the use of the compass."4
World War II
	During World War II, the value of the night attack
increased steadily as the conflict and the casualty
lists grew longer.  Commanders on all sides soon
recognized that the inherent difficulties in planning
and executing operations after sundown were greatly
offset by the favorable combination of surprise and
lower attrition rates for their men.  This point was
particularly well received by the German Army in the
latter stages of the war when they experienced severe
shortages of manpower and air cover.  On both the
eastern and western fronts, night movements became the
only means to move large formations without suffering
excessive losses.  Offensively, the Germans utilized
night operations to exploit success achieved in the
daytime; as a prelude to major offensive action; to
restore a situation where the enemy had achieved a local
success; and to camouflage the execution of other opera-
tions such as a retrograde operation.  Defensively, the
Germans used the cover of darkness to strengthen out-
posts, move local reserves to the main line of resist-
ance (MLR), increase reconnaissance activities to
uncover enemy penetrations for an attack, and to
construct primary defensive positions.
	To prepare their men for night operations, German
field commanders assigned up to 50% of all training for
nighttime activities.  The most important aspects of the
weekly training schedule took place during darkness and
any field skills taught during daytime were repeated
after dark.  The training syllabus included individual
courses in night vision and navigation, infiltration
techniques, night marches, weapons training, and first
aid.  Unit training for night operations consisted of
all types of combat with emphasis on combined arms
operations.  The German goal was to produce the ideal
nightfighter--a self-reliant, fully integrated soldier
commanded by a cool, resourceful and thoughtful leader.
    The Russians, after some very hard lessons in the
Russo-Finnish War, eventually proved to be especially
adept at night operations.  This was in part due to the
nature of the Russian soldier.  He was born and raised
far from the city, closer to nature than his western
counterparts.  In an order issued in 1941, Marshall
Timoshevko exhorted his men to make more use of night
fighting, close combat and the forest, the three fortes
of the Russians.5
    Within the Russian Army, concentrations prior to a
major offensive always took place at night.  Infiltra-
tion was the most effective method of night operations
conducted, with units up to division size being able to
penetrate German positions.  Due to the lack of initia-
tive and self-reliance of most commanders, offensive
night attacks by the Russians were usually limited
objective in order to gain an advantage for the next
day's operation.  A major night offensive was only
conducted when victory expected during the day had not
been achieved.  The Russians also used night operations
to effect shifts of position, counterattacks, reconnais-
sance in force, and raids.  They displayed a particular
penchant for the latter two, conducting them normally
during periods of fog and blizzard conditions.  Though
their tactical positioning was considered primitive, by
1945, the Germans had a deep and unabiding respect for
the Russian ability to move as well at night as they did
during the day.
    The Japanese, based on their favorable experiences
in both the war with Russia in 1904, and subsequent
operations in China, displayed a strong partiality for
night operations referring to it as a traditional
Japanese method of attack.  They viewed night operations
primarily as a means to avoid manpower losses, to
conceal movement, and to close quickly with the enemy.
They divided their night attack into two classifica-
tions: the first being called the surprise or unsup-
ported attack, the second being called an attack by
force which employed all means of supporting arms.
Several defects in their techniques were apparent in the
Marine experience with the Japanese in the Pacific.
Among these defects were:  insufficient time allowed for
reconnaissance and planning, overambitious objectives,
vulnerable mass attack formations, inadequate artillery
support when contact with the enemy was effected, and
difficulty in coordinating and controlling the operation
as a whole.
    On the allied side of the war, the British are
considered by most authorities to have been the best
practitioners of night operations.  Rommel in his evalu-
ation of the British Army said, "Night attacks continued
to be the particular specialty of the British."6  This
was due for the most part to the writings of Liddell
Hart and to the efforts of Brigadier Frederick Pile.
The latter, while serving as the commander of the Canal
Brigade in Egypt prior to the war, instituted an inten-
sive training system for night operations in the
desert.  He directed that his brigade would train exclu-
sively by night and rest by day, reasoning that if his
men could fight well in the dark, they would be as good
and probably better in daylight.  During this time,
Lieutenant Colonel (later the Field Marshall) Montgomery
was one of Brigadier Pile's battalion commanders.
Commencing with his assumption of command of the Eighth
Army in 1942, Montgomery was to make the fullest use of
night attacks in all of his offenses.
    As to the American philosophy regarding night opera-
tions, General George S. Patton, Jr. said:
        "Soldiers must be taught to move and fight at
        night.  This is becoming more and more impor-
        tant, and it does not mean to make an approach
        march at night.  It means to conduct lethal
        operations in the dark.  To do this, previous
        and very accurate daylight reconnaissance is
        desirable and limited objective attacks are
        essential."7
In contrast to this advocacy for the infantry night
attack, General Patton felt that night attacks by armor
were uneconomical except under favorable terrain condi-
tions and only after extensive reconnaissance.  He also
was against retrograde movements at night because of the
negative effect the combination of darkness and rearward
movement had on the troops.
Korea, 1950-1953
    At 4:00 AM on Sunday, 25 June 1950, the North Korean
Peoples Army (NKPA), called the IMMUN Gun, launched a
surprise night attack against South Korea.  Long Ago,
Aristotle wrote, "Almost all things have been found out,
but some have been forgotten."  This was particularly
true of the American Army who had forgotten most of the
lessons of World War II.  It was not true of the North
Koreans who had been first taught by the Japanese and
then by the Russians.  Any study of the Korean conflict
shows that the majority of early reverses suffered by
the Americans were the result of night attacks.  The
North Koreans and the Chinese quickly detected our
ineptness at night operations, both offensively and
defensively.  General Lin Piao of the Chinese Peoples
Liberation Army wrote in his pamphlet, "Primary Conclu-
sions of Battle Experience at Unsan," that "...they
(Americans) specialize in day fighting.  They are not
familiar with night fighting or hand to hand combat."8
The Communists took advantage of this deficiency and, as
John A. English points out in his book, A Perspective On
Infantry:
        "Night attacks became so much the rule for them
        that any exception came as a surprise.  By this
        approach, the Chinese Army nullified to a
        substantial degree UN close air support
        capabilities and its preponderence in heavy
        weapons and combined arms."9
    Our weakensses in the area of night operations were
many and not quickly overcome.  On the Korean battle-
field in the early stages of the war, we basically
stopped all activity with the onset of darkness, failing
to keep the pressure on the enemy with even a small
combat patrol.  It is no wonder that when our men heard
the bugles blow, they would invariably find themselves
outflanked and cutoff from the rear.  Fortunately for
us, because of the Communists' lack of mechanization,
airpower, and communications, they could not effectively
exploit their success.  Our deficiencies in night
operations were eventually overcome by our use of all-
around defense, combat and reconnaissance patrols,
artificial illumination and searchlights, and most
importantly, continuing successful attacks after dark.
The major cause of our early problems was the lack of
training.  As T. R. Fehrenbach points out in his book,
This Kind of War, "It was not until the Korean War was
many months old that new Army trainees began to live
half their time in the field, and to undergo a third of
their training by night."10
Vietnam, 1960-1973
    Continuing our historical review of night opera-
tions, the next major conflict to be considered is
Vietnam.  This war has been thoroughly reported upon and
the importance of night operations within its framework
is well known.  The phrase, "Charlie owns the night," is
grudgingly used by us in acknowledgement of the exper-
tise the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army dis-
played in night operations.  To our credit, we were
eventually able to bring the enemy's hold on night oper-
ations to a stalemate.  This was accomplished by a
combination of intensive training in limited visibility
operations, aggressive nighttime combat patrols, and
technological advances to include low light level image
intensifiers, thermal viewers and electronic sensors.
If anything, Vietnam proved that a western soldier,
properly trained, equipped, and led, could match any
step made in the dark by his oriental counterpart.
Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1983
    This section will encompass the total Israeli
exposure to war.  The reason for doing so is because
their experience in this area has been continuous.
Unfortunately, as we shall see, their attitude towards
night operations has vascilated.
    Chaim Herzog, in his book, The Arab-Israeli Wars,
states that the Israeli penchant for the night attack
was pronounced.  In his view, the reason for this was:
        "The disadvantages under which the Israeli Army
        operated during the War of Independence-- its
        weakness in manpower, its lack of modern
        weapons, and the necessity to fight on many
        fronts at the same time--evolved a military
        philosophy based on flexibility, the use of sur-
        prise and innovations.  Fighting by night became
        almost second nature to the Israeli Forces,
        because darkness neutralized to a degree the
        advantages enjoyed by the Arab forces.
        ...Attacks during the War for Independence were
        nearly all mounted at night."11
    As Harry S. Truman said, "The trouble with most
people is that they forget where they came from."  By
the time the Six Day War of June 1967 came along, the
tank had suplanted the infantry and their night opera-
tions as the hallmark of the Israeli Defense Force
(IDF).  Due to the short duration of this conflict and
the predominant role airpower played in it, this imbal-
ance in ground forces was not recognized until the Yom
Kippur War in October 1973.  By this time the Israelis
had almost totally abandoned their traditional specialty
of night operations.  Their reliance on pure armor
forces forced them to initially utilize these units in
roles they were totally unsuited for.  A glaring example
was the battle of Tel Sham in Syria.  Initially, the
Israeli 7th Armored Brigade attempted to take this
position but was thrown back with heavy losses in men
and material.  The next evening, a parachute battalion,
conducting a night attack, took Tel Sham with only four
casualties.  As events in Lebanon during Operaiton Peace
for Galilee have shown, the IDF has relearned its
lessons regarding infantry and limited visibility
operations well.
Falklands War, 1982
       "One of the overwhelming lessons of the war both
        on land and at sea was that, even in the radar
        age, the night was still precious to those who
        were able to make use of it."12
    For all ground combat commanders, the Falklands War
underlined and highlighted the importance of limited
visibility operations.  The British forces emerged
triumphant in large part because of an incredible series
of successful night attacks.  During the period of 11 to
14 June 1982 alone, five night attacks were conducted in
preparation for the seizure of the final objective--Port
Stanley.  The British had not discovered revolutionary
methods.  Their techniques were basically the same as
those employed by other western armies.  What they had
done was teach these techniques extensively in their
school and ensure their continued practice during train-
ing exercises.  The only distinction they made between
the principles and tactics used for daylight attacks and
those for night attacks was that in the case of the
latter, they allowed for careful selection, limitation,
and definition of the objective.  Additionally, they
neutralized the effectiveness of enemy night fighting
aids through the use of smoke and white light.  Based on
their experience in this war, the British forces arrived
at some basic conclusions regarding night operations:
	   a. Procurement of additional second generation
night sights for all light support weapons and snipers
is essential.
        b.  Operations at night undoubtedly save casual-
ties.
        c.  Command and control is more difficult during
a silent (unsupported) attack than during a noisy (sup-
ported) attack.  The relative advantages and disadvan-
tages of each must be weighed carefully when formulating
plans.
        d.  White light is often required throughout the
fighting through the clearing phase on the objective.
        e.  A greater emphasis needs to be placed on
live firing at night.
        f.  Night attacks require a lot of ammunition
which must be stockpiled before the operations begin.
        g.  Greater emphasis must be placed on teaching
the proper methods of control of movement to the objec-
tive, fire coordination, and clearing the objective.
                   WHERE ARE WE GOING
    We have looked at where we have been regarding night
operations.  The question remains--where are we going?
To answer this, there are two areas to explore, doctrine
and technology.  Doctrinally, the U. S. Army has several
individual units which are mounting major efforts to
train their soldiers to be as proficient at night as
they are during the day.  These efforts include the 2nd
Armored Division's Night Battleproofing Program, the 3rd
Infantry Division's Foggy Strike Program, and the 9th
Infantry Division's Night Hunter Program.  While all of
these units should be commended for their efforts, their
value is diminished, because there is no central agency
pulling all this information together and then dissemi-
nating it to all U. S. forces.  If you look at the
doctrine in existence, you will find that it is
extremely slim.  Night operations are usually referred
to as an aside to information espousing normal daylight
activities.  The standard entry normally states that the
same principles for operations in the day apply for the
night except with greater difficulty.  FM 100-5, Opera-
tions, (considered by many as the bible)  contains only
a half page reference to Attacks During Limited Visibil-
ity.13  Our own FMFM 6-1, Marine Division, is a little
more generous, providing two pages for The Night Attack
out of a total of 271 pages.14
    The employment of what doctrine we have in our
training also needs more centralized emphasis.  In too
many units, while training during periods of limited
visibility is viewed as important, it is also viewed as
inconvenient and not conducive to good morale if there
is too much.  While none would dispute that the welfare
of the troops is one of our paramount duties as leaders,
neither should they dispute the fact that part of this
welfare is to train them to a standard which gives them
more than an even chance to stay alive in combat.  The
following words of General Sir Frederick Pile were used
by him to motivate his commanders to re-evaluate their
positions on night training:
        "We still regard a night operation as a very
        hazardous and uncertain thing.  We are
        frightened of losing ourselves; we are
        frightened of the confusion that will arise; and
        we are not prepared to chance it unless all the
        circumstances are favorable.  The fact is we
        have not put our whole hearts into this training
        for night operations; and yet the most difficult
        thing for an enemy to compete with is a night
        attack.  Every advantage is on the side of the
        attacker."15
    Technologically, the picture is a lot brighter.  Due
to the great strength of the American industrial base,
we enjoy the luxury of having the finest night fighting
equipment available, though not enough of it.  On the
ground side of the night fighting equipment, both the
Army and Marine Corps are jointly involved in several
programs to ensure our soldiers and Marines continue to
have the finest.  Among these programs are the following
efforts:
        a.  A sniper night sight weighing less than two
pounds and an effective range of 600 meters.
        b.  Improved 81mm smoke and infrared screening
cartridges to neutralize enemy observation devices.
        c.  Improved night sights for both the TOW and
the Dragon missile systems for operation during periods
of limited visibility and daylight.
        d.  Night Imaging Thermal Equipment (NITE) for
all individual and crew-served weapons systems.
        e.  Improved Night Vision Goggles (NVG) weighing
less than 1.5 pounds and providing near infrared viewing
out to 150 meters.
Conclusions
    Any current analysis of Warsaw Pact Forces vis-a-vis
our own show that we no longer possess a quantitative
superiority in manpower or weaponry.  Even our supposed
qualitative superiority is subject to heated debate.
The lessons of history show that when you do not enjoy a
numerical edge over your enemy in both men and machines,
you must move from the tactics of firepower dominance to
those of firepower avoidance.  Philosophically, we have
done much to accommodate these lessons with our emphasis
on the indirect approach and maneuver warfare.  What
remains to be done is to implement this philosophy more
fully into the doctrine and tactics we provide to our
forces.  One area that requires immediate attention is
operaitons in limited visibility.  Given the fullest
doctrinal and technical support, expertise in night
operations will provide us a combat multiplier which can
go a long way in negating any real or perceived inferi-
orities.  As Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember
the past are condemned to repeat it."
                        Footnotes
    1B. H. Liddell Hart, Thoughts On War (London:
Farber and Farber, 1944).
    2U. S. Army Infantry Journal, Infantry in Battle
(Richmond, Virginia:  Garrett and Massie, 1939), p. 389.
    3Ibid., p. 388.
    4B. H. Liddell Hart, "Development For Night Action,"
Marine Corps Gazette, (March 1955), p. 12.
    5Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-236, Histor-
ical Study:  Night Combat (Washington, D. C., 1953),
p. 30.
    6B. H. Liddell Hart, ed., The Rommel Papers (New
York:  Hourcourt, Brace and Co., 1953), p. 331.
    7George S. Patton, War As I Knew It (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1947), p. 352.
    8T. R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War (New York:  The
MacMillan Co., 1963), p. 300.
    9John A. English, A Perspective on Infantry (New
York:  Praeger Publishers, 1981), p. 220.
    10T. R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War (New York:  The
MacMillan Co., 1963), p. 335.
    11Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars (New York:
Random House, 1982), p. 109.
    12Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for
the Falklands (New York:  W. W. Norton and Co., 1963),
p. 147.
    13U. S. Army, Operations, FM 100-5 (Washington, D.C.,
1982), pp. 9-15 and 9-16.
    14MCDEC, USMC, Marine Division, FMFM 6-1 (Quantico,
1978), pp. 99-100.
    15B. H. Liddell Hart, "Development of Night Action,"
Marine Corps Gazette, (March 1955), p. 16.
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