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"The Who" For Offensive Relief In Future MIC/HIC

"The Who" For Offensive Relief In Future MIC/HIC

 

CSC 1992

 

SUBJECT AREA National Military Strategy

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Title: "The Who" For Offensive Relief in Future

MIC/HIC

 

Author: Major B.H. Fullerton, United States Army

 

Thesis: The combat aviation brigade from the corps is

well capable and suited for providing a planned

offensive relief for division-sized forces in future

armed conflict.

 

Maintaining offensive momentum has been a

challenge for armies throughout recorded history.

Whether light or mechanized, airborne or air assault,

commanders have struggled with the requirement. The

problem has been fighting their lead units and then

passing follow-on forces through when the lead units

have reached their culminating point. The ideal

situation is to have done this without a loss of

momentum from the enemy's perspective. Over the

centuries, nothing of substance has offset the

difficulties of such a battle handoff.

 

Army Aviation forces offer the first substantial

remedy to the problem. Their ability to pass over the

lead units, press the attack in practically any weather

and visibility conditions, and defeat mechanized and

armored units represents an unprecedented opportunity.

Desert Storm dramatically illustrated the relatively

long-range lethality of Army Aviation.

 

Current doctrine acknowledges the ability of

aviation to support an offensive relief, but fails to

recognize its' ability to conduct the relief. The

Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) organic to each Corps

offers the Corps Commander a means of executing a

planned offensive relief.

 

The Corps CAB could conduct an offensive relief

for a period of eight to twelve hours. As-easily as

the brigade could fly over the relieved unit in the

assumption, it could return and simply let the relieved

units resume the fight. A cyclic repeat of this

procedure could serve to extend the staying power of

the corps almost indefinitely.

 

 

"THE WHO" FOR OFFENSIVE RELIEF IN FUTURE MIC/HIC

 

OUTLINE

 

Thesis Statement. The combat aviation brigade from the

corps, if augmented with sufficient ground maneuver

units, such as a mechanized infantry task force or a

light infantry battalion, or battalions, from

uncommitted reserve forces,, plus corps artillery

support, is well capable and suited for, providing a

planned offensive relief for division-sized forces in

future armed conflict.

 

I. Introduction

A. Maintenance of offensive momentum

B. Battle handoff

C. Future warfare

 

II. Current Doctrine

A. Airland Battle

B. Importance of depth

 

III. Historical Perspective

A. World War I

B. Momentum of heavy forces

 

IV. The Dilemma

A. SWA-Logistics Limit

B. Impact of Airland Operations on logistics

C. Converging Corps-The magnitude of maneuver

D. The pause for lead units

E. Current doctrinal options

 

V. An Available Solution

A. The Corps Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB)

B. Current capability

C. Current doctrinal handicap

D. Why the corps CAB

E. Reinforcing' the CAB

 

VI. Conclusion

A. The corps CAB can be "The Who"

B. The solution is available with no cost

 

 

"THE WHO" FOR OFFENSIVE RELIEF IN FUTURE MIC/HIC

 

by Major Brent H. Fullerton, United States Army

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Maintaining offensive momentum has been a challenge for

 

armies throughout recorded history. Whether light or

 

mechanized, airborne or air assault, commanders have

 

struggled with the requirement. The critical point in

 

retaining the initiative has been how to relieve units that

 

had reached their culminating point without a pause in the

 

offensive. Battle handoff via a passage of lines is a

 

complex undertaking; doing it without allowing the enemy

 

some respite has proved to be virtually impossible. Future

 

warfare, with its increased emphasis on maneuver, promises

 

to aggravate the problem.

 

Maneuver is the necessary ingredient for decisive

operations. Tactical units, supported by massed

tactical air, corps artillery, and attack

helicopters, will maneuver to gain positional

advantage and complete the destruction of the

enemy force. Maneuver will differ significantly

in both distance and speed from the way battalions

and brigades conduct offensive operations today.

MG Silvasy, USA (7:2)

 

 

CURRENT DOCTRINE

 

Current Army Airland Battle doctrine focuses on

 

maintenance of the initiative either by seizure or

 

retention. It seeks to throw the enemy off balance; to

 

rapidly follow up to prevent his recovery; and to conduct

 

continuous, aggressive, unpredictable, violent and

 

disorienting operations. (4:14) The emerging Army doctrine,

 

Airland Operations, retains these same basic characteristics

 

but emphasizes that the battlefield of the future will be

 

marked by wide separation of friendly units and between

 

those units and opposing forces. Maneuvering for combat

 

will require heavy divisions and corps to cover great

 

distances rapidly, form for combat, engage and destroy enemy

 

forces and then quickly disperse to avoid targeting by long-

 

range fires, either conventional or nuclear.

 

Department of The Army Field Manual 100-5 lists four

 

major tenets for Airland Battle: Initiative, Agility,

 

Depth, and Synchronization. Of the four, "depth" is the

 

most germane to this discussion. Depth is defined as the

 

extension of operations in space, time, and resources;

 

momentum in the attack and elasticity in defense derive from

 

depth. Momentum in the attack is achieved and maintained

 

when resources and forces are concentrated to sustain

 

operations over extended periods, reconnaissance is well

 

forward, the enemy is fixed and interdicted early, there are

 

adequate reserves, and follow-on, support, and logistics

 

forces move forward effectively. (4:15-18)

 

 

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

 

In World War I, both sides in the western sector were

 

desperately trying to achieve a strategic breakthrough.

 

Accomplishing a breakthrough at all proved most difficult.

 

Accomplishing a strategic breakthrough proved impossible.

 

The problem was one of not being able to maintain momentum

 

once a penetration of the opponent's trenches was made. The

 

primary reason for this was an inability to execute

 

offensive relief without a pause in the attack. On 1

 

January 1918, the Germans published The Attack in Position

 

Warfare, which became the basic document for the German

 

offensives of 1918. Unlike previous doctrine, it stressed

 

disruption through deep penetration versus destruction. The

 

doctrine emphasized keeping the enemy off balance, pressing

 

the attack continuously, and retaining the initiative.

 

(6:41)

 

To maintain the momentum of an attack, the

belligerents had tried several different methods

for relieving the leading units in the attack

during the war. The French had tried successive

waves (the first wave taking one objective, the

second wave passing through to take the next one)

and the British had used a similar leapfrog

technique in 1917. But in the new German doctrine

lead units were instructed to continue without

relief, for the doctrine considered it preferable

to maintain the attack and exhaust the lead unit,

rather than attempt a succession which would lose

time and impetus. Unfortunately, this method

resulted in severe losses for the lead units,

which would have an adverse effect on the 1918

German offensive. (6:41)

 

 

THE DILEMMA

 

Although the divisions of World War I do not compare to

 

the heavy divisions of today in their mobility and

 

firepower, the problems they had with momentum and

 

sustainment were fundamentally no different, one just has to

 

use a larger map to discuss them. For the heavy forces of

 

today, covering great distances presents enormous challenges

 

both logistically and operationally. Not only must forces

 

cover these distances quickly, once in contact they must

 

seize the initiative from the enemy with each engagement and

 

maintain the offensive momentum until victory is achieved.

 

The lead combat units of the divisions are not the only ones

 

that must move these great distances. Their combat support

 

units, combat service support units, and reserves must cover

 

the same ground and at the same rate of movement.

 

Additionally, the support and follow-on units of the corps

 

also must move accordingly. Without well orchestrated

 

planning and synchronization, the entire corps may reach its

 

culminating point simultaneously, potentially even before

 

the battle is fully developed.

 

Based on our recent experience in Southwest Asia, much

 

has been said for dramatic improvements in logistics

 

systems. Quite obviously, many improvements must be made.

 

Desert Storm dramatically validated the lethality and range

 

of our heavy, combined-arms divisions and corps. Just as

 

dramatically it demonstrated the absolute limits of our

 

logistics systems to sustain those heavy forces. The

 

dangerous point, however, would be to conclude that we must

 

build a logistics system that can run as fast as an M1-A1

 

tank and that must keep that vehicle moving at its most

 

capable speed.

 

To build a family of logistics vehicles with such

 

capability, particularly in these times of declining

 

budgets, is likely to prove impossible. What is a more

 

realistic objective is to find ways to maintain and even

 

increase the momentum of the offensive without being

 

required to develop a means of support for the M1-A1

 

equipped units that is restrained only by the governors on

 

their turbine engines.

 

The convergence of opposing corps-size forces may take

 

several days of intense maneuver before main forces come

 

into contact. The extent of maneuver required for Airland

 

Operations presents a major challenge to combat units. As

 

the opposing force approaches, much more friendly-force

 

maneuver will likely occur than would be required for a

 

direct-line approach. Current and future intelligence

 

systems may dictate extensive lateral movement and maneuver

 

in addition to the general forward movement of the forces.

 

Soldiers and equipment must push very hard to move great

 

distances quickly and to avoid premature massing in order to

 

avoid targeting by enemy long-range, operational fires.

 

Combat support and combat service support units must support

 

rapid movement of large, heavy forces. Additionally, they

 

must conduct their own movement over the sane distances in

 

order to be able to provide responsive support during the

 

movement to contact and once the battle begins.

 

Increased distances mean increased fuel requirements,

 

increased scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, and

 

enormous efforts to keep the logistics line of

 

communications from becoming stretched too thinly.

 

Conceivably, "operational reach" could be attained prior to

 

"decisive contact." Without significant planning and

 

synchronization, the culminating point of thee corps may be

 

reached before the engagement point with the opposing force

 

main body. In that case, what was intended to be a movement

 

to contact to be followed by a hasty attack, instead becomes

 

a movement without contact followed by a hasty defense. The

 

initiative has thus been relinquished to the enemy.

 

Once on the offensive, the "clock" starts on the

 

operational commander's units. The drain on unit capability

 

due to the extreme distances, durations, required speed, and

 

difficulties of movement begins in earnest. Scheduled and

 

unscheduled maintenance become a major factor in reducing

 

available combat power. Hard-pushed equipment requires

 

significantly more maintenance and equipment failure rates

 

increase.

 

The corps area of operations in future conflicts will

 

be vastly larger than in the past. Combat forces already

 

enjoy a mobility that exceeds that of their support; the

 

future battlefield will aggravate this gap. In order to be

 

able to maintain support and sustain the momentum,

 

operational commanders will be forced to provision planned

 

pauses for their lead units. Failure to do so threatens

 

maintenance of combat power and retention of the initiative.

 

Historically, the enemy has thereby been allowed to conduct

 

counterattacks and/or improve his defenses. Whether planned

 

or not, such a pause in the offense should not compromise

 

momentum.

 

A pause does not necessarily have to be recognized as

 

such by the enemy. The intent of the pause is to give

 

opportunity to committed friendly forces to rest, refuel,

 

and rearm for continued operations. A pause that allows the

 

enemy to do the same is, in effect, a hasty defense.

 

The only existing doctrinal solution to maintaining

 

offensive momentum is to pass the offensive to a follow-on

 

ground element. At the corps level, such operations involve

 

a monumental passage of lines, typically divisions passing

 

through divisions. In a high speed movement, this is

 

further complicated by the fact the relieving force has had

 

to maintain a rate of movement and sustainment virtually

 

equal to the force being relieved. What is missing in

 

current doctrine is an appreciation of the capability of

 

Army Aviation to provide a pause to committed ground

 

maneuver forces without a loss of momentum from the enemy's

 

perspective.

 

 

AN AVAILABLE SOLUTION

 

Army Aviation elements from the Corps Combat Aviation

 

Brigade, attack, assault, and assault support units, can

 

quickly and easily bound over and move ahead of the ground

 

forces in contact. Such maneuver, properly planned, can

 

conceivably afford a pause for the ground maneuver forces of

 

eight to twelve hours. Incorporating battle handoff to the

 

Corps Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) on a cyclic basis, every

 

forty-eight hours, for instance, could theoretically extend

 

the ability of the corps to maintain offensive momentum

 

almost indefinitely.

 

What would traditionally have to be planned and

 

conducted as an operational pause could instead be planned

 

and conducted as an offensive relief. FM 100-5 states that:

 

"An offensive relief is conducted to pass fresh troops into

 

the attack in order to maintain offensive momentum. Such

 

reliefs are most common as the force enters the exploitation

 

or pursuit, but also may be necessary during the attack

 

itself if previously committed units have suffered so

 

severely that they are unable to reach their objectives.

 

Offensive reliefs may be conducted as reliefs in place, but

 

ideally are conducted without a significant pause in

 

offensive tempo." (4:128) The phrase, " . . . to pass fresh

 

troops into the attack in order to maintain offensive

 

momentum.", does not represent a simple operation. FM 100-

 

15, Corps Operations, defines a passage of lines as, " . . .

 

an operation in which a force moves forward or rearward

 

through another force's combat positions with the intention

 

of moving into or out of contact with the enemy.". It

 

further points out that, "a passage of lines is extremely

 

complex and involves a degree of risk." (5:7-15)

 

Army Aviation's existing capabilities, both

 

organizational and equipment, have yet to be optimized in

 

current doctrine. This is particularly true concerning Army

 

Aviation's ability to contribute to maintaining momentum,

 

most specifically with regard to depth. The existence of

 

poor road conditions, limited avenues of approach, and

 

periods of reduced visibility (darkness or poor weather)

 

generally contribute to the potential benefit of aviation

 

resources. Optimizing the capability of current resources

 

through better doctrine can serve to extend that doctrine's

 

contributions as future acquisitions are introduced. For

 

aviation systems, this means improved aircraft range,

 

weapons lethality, navigational accuracies and aids,

 

improved limited visibility systems, enhanced ballistic

 

tolerance, reductions in crew workload, and improved systems

 

reliability.

 

Army Aviation doctrine recognizes the ability of

 

aviation forces to support offensive relief. FM 1-100, Army

 

Aviation in Combat Operations, states: "Aviation can support

 

offensive reliefs by conducting raids, feints, and

 

demonstrations to distract the enemy from these operations.

 

Attack and air reconnaissance assets can overwatch the

 

movement of both units and, if required, provide supporting

 

fires to assist the battle handover between forces." (1:3-

 

22)

 

Army doctrine acknowledges the capability of aviation

 

units to operate as maneuver forces, to include operational

 

control of ground forces by the aviation commander. (3:2-4)

 

There is, however, no doctrine that suggests use of the CAB

 

as a means of maintaining the momentum of an offensive as

 

the primary offensive relief force in order to afford ground

 

units an operational pause. The Corps CAB can, in fact,

 

provide such an opportunity.

 

It is important to appreciate the fact that the Corps-

 

level CAB is the appropriate organization for providing an

 

operational pause for the divisions. Each Army division has

 

its own CAB, with organic attack and assault units. Each

 

Army Corps has its own CAB, as well. There are also five

 

CAB at echelons-above-corps. The importance of this

 

echelonment of CAB is germane to this discussion. Although

 

the division commander has an organic CAB, his aviation

 

battalions have most likely been engaged in extensive

 

combined-arms operations with the ground maneuver brigades

 

of the division and need an operational pause as well. The

 

unique structure of Army Aviation forces, with divisional,

 

corps level, and echelon-above-corps level Combat Aviation

 

Brigades is well validated in operations such as these.

 

The Corps Commander determines when an offensive relief

 

is required and who will conduct the relief. Existing

 

doctrine would have him look to one of his divisions, when

 

in fact, his Corps CAB is also a potent and viable option.

 

The Corps Combat Aviation Brigade of the future, the

 

first of which is currently being organized at Ft. Bragg, is

 

indeed a powerful organization. The brigade has 640

 

helicopters, with 216 attack aircraft (AH-64/RAH-66), 298

 

UH-60 (120 Medevac, 178 Assault), 108 assault support (CH-

 

47D), and 24 UH-60 (C2). This brigade is sub-divided into

 

three regimental-size organizations. It has two attack

 

regiments of three battalions each, and an aviation group

 

with three battalions of assault helicopters (UH-60) and

 

three battalions of cargo helicopters (CH-47D).

 

The doctrinal mission of a heavy attack battalion, of

 

which there are six in the Corps CAB, is to destroy at least

 

50% of the combat vehicles of a tank regiment or motorized

 

rifle regiment. Under optimal circumstances, the six

 

battalions could destroy half the combat Vehicles of two

 

motorized rifle or tank divisions. The three UH-60 assault

 

battalions could simultaneously lift nine rifle companies,

 

the preponderance of an infantry brigade's maneuver

 

companies. If augmented with two of the three CH-47D

 

battalions, a battalion of M-198 howitzers, the remaining

 

infantry companies of the infantry brigade, and sufficient

 

forward arming and refueling points (Class III and V) also

 

could be moved in the initial lift. Subsequent lifts by

 

these five battalions could quickly bring forward the

 

remaining vehicles and sufficient supplies for the infantry

 

brigade to enable it to conduct an eight to twelve hour

 

mission.

 

The Corps Commander can easily augment the combat power

 

of the Corps CAB with his Corps Artillery. The long-range

 

artillery organic to the Corps is capable of providing a

 

pause for the artillery battalions of the division being

 

relieved. This can be accomplished without a complex

 

physical passage of the two forces. The Multiple Launch

 

Rocket System battalions in the Corps can be moved to an

 

area just behind the division's brigades and still range

 

well forward. Self-propelled artillery battalions of the

 

Corps also can move into similar positions and provide fire

 

support for the CAB. This would allow the division's

 

artillery to fully stand down for the relief period.

 

Some might argue that this concept is already in

 

practice with the existence of the air assault division or

 

the armored cavalry regiment (ACR). Conceivably, either

 

organization could do a similar operation. There are

 

several potential problems with these options.

 

In the case of the air assault division, there is only

 

one such division in the Army's force structure; there are

 

currently four corps. The division has substantial

 

infantry, assault aircraft, and artillery but only two

 

battalions of attack helicopters. The division is not

 

ideally designed to conduct an attack against a mechanized

 

or armored corps, although it can if required. Conversely,

 

each corps commander has his own CAB. If he happens to have

 

been task organized with the air assault division, so much

 

the better. The unique capabilities of the division,

 

however, place it in great demand by each corps involved in

 

combat operations. (2:1-11) (3:D-10)

 

In the case of the armored cavalry regiment, there are

 

two active and one reserve ACR. Again, not everybody could

 

have one. More importantly, however, is the makeup of the

 

ACR. It has the preponderance of its combat power in its

 

mechanized forces. The ACR only has an equivalent attack

 

battalion and assault company in its aviation structure.

 

The regiment has 123 M1 tanks, 116 Bradley Fighting

 

Vehicles, and 24 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Although

 

it has significant combat power, the fact that the majority

 

of it is vehicular places it in a predicament similar to the

 

heavy division; it has to move great distances and then

 

conduct a passage of lines to effect an offensive relief.

 

Doctrinally, the ACR has significant mobile, antiarmor

 

capabilities and can effectively conduct covering force,

 

flank security, or counter-attack operations. (5:2-4)

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The combat aviation brigade from the corps, augmented

 

with sufficient ground maneuver units, such as a mechanized

 

infantry task force or a light infantry battalion, or

 

battalions, from uncommitted reserve forces, plus corps

 

artillery support, is well capable and suited for providing

 

a planned offensive relief for division-size forces in

 

future armed conflict. Such a doctrine assures maintenance

 

of offensive momentum. It can serve as a vehicle for

 

planned operational pauses, avoidance of premature

 

culmination, and a resultant extension of the division's,

 

and thereby the corps' ability to sustain offensive

 

operations over a much greater time and space. Offensive

 

relief by the corps combat aviation brigade can be planned

 

and conducted without affording the enemy any respite from

 

the violence to which he is subjected.

 

Development and implementation of this doctrine can be

 

rapidly accomplished with no significant cost to the Army.

 

The required aviation forces and systems are organic to the

 

Corps of today and the planned future Corps. The supporting

 

artillery is also currently organic. Doctrine for the

 

individual attack, assault, and assault support aviation

 

battalions for their part of the battle is already a

 

reality. The CAB has sufficient command and control

 

headquarters and communications systems to conduct such

 

operations. The only missing part is a realization of the

 

existing potential of thee Corps CAB and a decision to

 

incorporate this potential into doctrine.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. Department of the Army. Doctrinal Principles for Army

 

Aviation in Combat Operations, FM 1-100. Washington, 1989.

 

2. Department of the Army. Aviation Brigades, FM 1-111.

 

Washington, 1990.

 

3. Department of the Army. Division Operations, FM 71-100.

 

Washington, 1990.

 

4.                Department of the Army. Operations, FM 100-5.

 

Washington, 1986.

 

5.                Department of the Army. Corps Operations, FM 100-15.

 

Washington, 1989.

 

6.                Lupfer, Timothy T. "The Dynamics of Doctrine: The

 

Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World

 

War." Leavenworth Papers No. 4, Ft. Leavenworth, KS, July

 

1981.

 

7. Silvasy Jr., Stephen, Major General, US Army. "Airland

 

Battle Future, The Tactical Battlefield." Military Review.

 

Ft Leavenworth, KS, February 1991.



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