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. Bibliography Arey, C. M., USMC LNO, Ft. Benning, Georgia. Quarterly Report on Combat Developments, January 15, 1984. Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-230. Historical Study--Russian Combat Methods in WWII. Washington, D.C., June 1953. Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-236. Historical Study: Night Combat. Washington, D.C., June 1953. Director of Infantry, British Army, Westminster, England. Letter on Operation Corporate Debrief, November 16, 1982. Dupuy, R. E. and T. N. Dupuy. The Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. English, John A. A Perspective on Infantry. New York: Praeger, 1981. Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1963. Field Artillery Journal Staff. "Japanese Tactics." Field Artillery Journal, March 1942, pp. 179-183 and April 1942, pp. 289-294. Hargraves, R. "Night Attack." The Army Quarterly and Defense Journal. October 1972 to July 1973, pp. 461-469. Hastings, M. and S. Jenkins. The Battle for the Falk- lands. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1983. Herzog, Chaim. The Arab-Israeli Wars. New York: Random House, Inc., 1982. Karnov, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: The Viking Press, 1983. Liddell Hart, B. H. "Developments of Night Action." Marine Corps Gazette, March 1955, pp. 12-17. Liddell Hart, B. H., ed. The Rommel Papers. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953. Mildren, Frank. "What Has Korea Taught Us." The Infantry School Quarterly, October 1953, pp. 7-12. Military Intelligence Service, War Department. German Tactics Doctrine--Special Series No. 8. Washington, D.C., December 20, 1942. Natkiel, Richard. Atlas of the 20th Century. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1982. Patton, George S. War As I Knew It. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1947. Rommel, Erwin. Attacks. 1st ed. Vienna, Virginia: Athena Press, Inc., 1979. Secretary of State for Defense, London, England. The Falklands Campaign: The Lessons, December 1982. U. S. Army Infantry Journal. Infantry in Battle. Richmond, Virginia: Garrett and Massie, 1939. West, Francis J. Small Unit Action in Vietnam. New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1967. Williams, M. E., USMC LNO, Ft. Benning, Georgia. Letter on The Night Attack--British Style, February 17, 1983.
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