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Armored Warfare - a History

SvenSvensonov

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Oct 15, 2014
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@me_itsme - hope this helps!

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ARMOURED WARFARE

It's been over 100 years since the tank was first used on the 15th September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Since those first tentative steps, the design and development of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles has continued unabated, and has culminated in such advanced designs as the U.S. M1A2 Abrams, the German Leopard 2A6, the British Challenger 2, the French Leclerc and the Israeli Merkava Mk4. Even now these same AFVs are undergoing continued development work to upgrade them, and to keep them competitive on the modern battlefield.

One can't help but wonder what the likes of Swinton, Elles, Fuller and Broad, the original architects of Armoured Warfare, would think if they were still alive to see these macines, so different to the ones that were in use during their lifetimes.

THE GREAT WAR - THE FIRST TENTATIVE STEPS

In February 1915, the Landships Committee was established to design and develope a machine that could break the deadlock of trench warfare, it was headed by the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. The Landships Committee came about after Colonel Maurice Hankey took Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton's proposals for an armoured trench crossing vehicle to Churchill, who then became a strong advocate of this new type of vehicle. The result was 'Little Willy'. However, it didn't have the wide trench crossing capability that was required, so a new version was designed. This went on to become the Mark 1 Tank, or 'Mother' as it was known. The Mark 1 was built in two variants, the Male that was armed with two 6 Pounder guns, and the Female that was armed with 4 machine guns.

It was the Mark 1 Tank that saw the very first use of Tanks in combat, during the Battle of the Somme. However, it only saw limited success as it was used in 'penny packets' and not en-masse. It wasn't until the Battle of Cambrai, that the British first used tanks en masse in a Combined Arms Assault, coordinating the Infantry, Artillary, Tanks and Aircraft. By this time the new Mark IV Tank had been developed. This had a number of upgrades in an attempt to overcome the Mark 1's deficiencies. It had external fuel tanks between the rear track horns, the rear wheels were removed (these had been intended to aid in steering the tank, but were in fact useless) and the side sponsons that the guns were mounted in, were made retractable so that the tank was more suitable for rail transport. It still, however, took three men to steer, a problem that wasn't resolved until the Mark V Tank, which only required one man to drive and steer.

The first ever Tank vs Tank battle took place on the 12th April 1918, at the village of Villers Bretonneux. During the German Spring Offensives, 3 groups of Infantry, accompanied by A7V Tanks attacked the British lines between Cachy and Villers Bretonneux. It was the attack by the 3rd group that encountered British MkIV tanks and Medium Whippet tanks. The outcome of this first Tank vs Tank was inconclusive, the German A7vs managed to hit a number of MkIV Females and Whippets, whilst the British managed to hit some of the A7Vs.

The first Armoured Personnel Carrier was a lengthened Mk V Male Tank, that could carry an Infantry Machine Gun Section, however, it proved to be a failure, as the Infantry inside were rendered useless by the Tank's fumes!

THE EXPERIMENTS OF THE INTER-WAR YEARS

After the Great War, the Army's Cavalry Traditionalists increasingly tried to get the Tank units disbanded, claiming that they were't necessary during peacetime, and that the British Empire's land frontiers could be affectively policed by Armoured Cars and the newly formed R.A.F. This was in part prevented by the Tank units being given the Royal Seal of Approval and being formed into The Royal Armoured Corps.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the British started to experiment with their newly formed Royal Armoured Corps, developing the tactics that they would use with the new formation. They ran a series of experimental exercises on Salisbury Plain in the south of England. These early experiments consisted of Armoured Divisions, using the then standard British tank, the Vickers Medium, along with Carden Lloyd carriers used as scouts, manoeuvring against traditional Cavalry and Infantry Divisions. On each occasion, inspite of attempted interference by biased umpires, the Armoured Divisions 'won'.

During the later part of the 1930's, for whatever reasons (and I don't have the space to go into them), the British decided that they needed three types of Tank to fulfill the different roles of Armour. These three types of Tank were;

The Light Tank; Small, fast, lightly armed and armoured and used for Reconnaisance duties.

The Cruiser Tank; Fast, medium weight tanks, used to exploit the initial breakthrough.

The Infantry Tank; Slow, heavy tanks, used to support the Infantry during the initial breakthrough.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Heinz Guiderian, inspired, in part, by the earlier British tank experiments (and not by Basil Liddell Hart as Liddell Hart himself later claimed), was developing the tactics that would later become known by the name 'Blitzkrieg', or Lightning War. Blitszkrieg pioneered the close integration of Tanks, Panzer Grenadier Infantry, Artillery and Aircraft (especially the dreaded JU87 Stuka Dive Bomber), in fast, hard hitting strikes. These strikes would thrust deep into enemy territory causing widespread panic and confusion and at the same time, they would bypass pockets of Infantry. Meanwhile, slower moving Infantry Divisions would follow up behind and take out the bypassed Infantry. However, the success of Blitzkrieg came about more by the luck and skill of the German Generals, than by any superiority of theory or design.

WORLD WAR 2 - ARMOURED WARFARE COMES OF AGE

In September 1939 the German Panzer Divisions swept through Poland, overcoming the Polish Army in a matter of weeks. Blitzkrieg was born. Time and time again, throughout those early years of WW2, the German Panzer Divisions would, by the skill of their Generals, and the superior training of their soldiers, sweep all opposition before them. Time and time again Allied armies would collapse, unable to find any kind of answer to these lightning thrusts.


On the 22nd June, 1941, the Germans launched the largest military invasion in history; Operation Barbarossa. Once again Blitzkrieg swept all before it. The Russian Red Army was overwhelmed and came close to being completely annihillated. However the Red Army was able to gradually stiffen its defences the closer the Germans got to Moscow. In fact the Germans were eventually stopped right at the gates of Moscow itself, and the Red Army was able to go on the offensive at last. It was during Barbarossa that the Germans encountered the Red Army's new Medium Tank, the T-34, probably the best Medium Tank of WW2. The T-34 directly led to the Germans hastening their development of the Panzer Mk V Panther Medium Tank, and the Panzer Mk VI Tiger Heavy Tank.

Hitler then switched his attentions to Stalingrad and the Caucasus Region. Once again the German Blitzkrieg swept the Red Army away, but once again, the Red Army gradually stiffened its resistance. This led to the brutal battle for Stalingrad itself. The Red Army was squeezed into an ever shrinking pocket inside the city. However, to the East of the city, General Georgy Zhukov was building up a huge force of tanks (T-34 Mediums and KV-1 Heavies) ready for a counter-attack against the German 6th Army. When this counter-attack was launched, the 6th Army found itself surrounded to the west of Stalingrad. German losses became so great that the commander of 6th Army, General Friedrich von Paulus asked Hitler for permission to surrender. As usual Hitler refused, ordering von Paulus to fight to the last man, and promoting him to Field Marshall (Hitler's thinking behind this promotion was purely cynical, as it was known that no German Field Marshall had ever surrendered). Paulus However disobeyed, knowing that the battle for Stalingrad was lost, and himself and 91,000 men (all that remained of 6th Army) surrendered to the Red Army. Of those 91,000 men, only 6,000 ever returned home to Germany. This was the turning point of the war on the Eastern Front.

In the Meantime, In the Western Desert of North Africa, the British 8th Army faced first the Italian Army, then later Rommel's Deutsch AfrikaKorps, DAK, more commonly known as the Africa Corps. After Rommel first arrived On the 14th February 1941, he quickly made his mark in March of that year by launching an offensive that retook most of Cyrenaica. The rest of the Western Desert campaign saw the Allied and Axis forces involved in a series of seesaw offensives, which included the British offensives Operation Battleaxe and Operation Crusader. These two offensives saw the British committing their Armour to near suicidal frontal attacks (in the tradition of the Cavalry Charges of old) against lines of German Anti-Tank Guns, which included the dreaded FLAK 88s. The main British Tanks during this period were the Infantry Tank Mk 2 Matilda 2, and the A15 Crusader Cruiser Tank. The Matilda 2 was well armoured but slow moving and, until the Germans started to use Their FLAK 88s in the Anti-Tank role, nothing could penetrate its armour. However its 2 Pounder main gun was useless for Infantry Support as it only fired solid shot. The Crusader tank meanwhile was a disastrously unreliable tank. It was constantly breaking down due to mechanical failure. However, when used en-mass it did enjoy some success during Operations Battleaxe and Crusader.

It wasn't until the 2nd Battle of El Alamein that the tide of the Western Desert Campaign turned in favour of the Allies. This was in large part due to the arrival in theatre of the British Lieutenant-General Bernard Law Montgomery, who took over command of the British 8th Army from General Harold Alexander, who in turn replaced General Claude Auchinleck as Commander-In-Chief, Middle East. It was during this part of the Western Desert Campaign that the Allies started to use the new U.S. M4 Medium tank, the famous Sherman. The M4 was equal in capabilities to the German Panzer Mk III and IV, and was a big factor in turning the tide in favour of the Allies.

A lot has been said about how Montgomery was the hero of El-Alamein, but his victory wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the unsung hero that was General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck laid the foundations of Montgomery's victory of 2nd El-Alamein, during his heroic defense at the 1st battle of El-Alamein.

Unfortunately, after 2nd El-Alamein, Montgomery declared that the 75mm gun on the Sherman was the only tank gun the Allies would need, so impressed was he by the Sherman's performance. This statement was taken as gospel by the Army's Chiefs of Staff and the Allies were saddled with an underpowered tank gun at a time when the Germans were developing bigger and more powerful tank guns of their own. This also led, later on, to the Americans deciding to continue to mass produce Shermans, even though the M26 Pershing, with its 90mm gun, was available later on.

After the Allied victory at El Alamein, the Axis forces were pushed all the way back to Tunisia, where they were finally defeated after the Allied Torch Landings. This stage of the war also saw the first use of the new German heavy tank, the Tiger 1, a heavily armoured tank that was armed with the same 88mm gun as the FLAK 37 88mm Anti-Tank gun.

After Stalingrad the Russians continued their Offensive, pushing the Germans back to Kharkov. The Germans meanwhile launched their last major offensive on the Eastern Front. At the city of Kursk, the Russian line formed a salient, bulging into the German lines. The Germans needed to push the Russians back to shorten their lines and hopefully turn the war back round in Germany's favour.

The resulting Battle of Kursk would see the largest ever Tank vs Tank battle at the town of Prokharovka, where some 1393 German and Russian tanks and assault guns faced each other. The Russians suffered greater losses, but they could replace these easier than the Germans could, so although Prokharovka was a tactical defeat for the Russians, it was also a strategic victory, as they managed to halt the Germans and prevent a breakthrough. This was the last chance for Germany to snatch victory on the Eastern Front, from then on they were in retreat, all the way back to Berlin.

Kursk was also the first time the new Panther medium tank was used, however, at this early stage of its operational career, it proved to be extremely unreliable and spent more time in the workshops than it did fighting.

On the 6th June, 1944, the greatest ever Amphibious landings took place. This was Operation Overlord, or D-Day.

The Landings took place on 5 beaches in the Normandy region of France. The Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, whilst the British and Canadians landed on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. In spite of heavy losses on Omaha Beach, by the end of the first day the Allies had landed over 150,000 men and their equipment. Amongst the first units to reach the beaches were 'Hobart's Funnies', specially adapted Tanks that were designed specifically for the Normandy landings.

'Hobart's Funnies' were named after General Sir Percy Hobart, who led 79th Armoured Division on D-Day, and who had helped develop the special vehicles used by the division. Amongst these specially adapted tanks was the Sherman Crab Mine Flail Tank, which had a heavy frame attached to the front of the tank. Between the two halves of the frame was a roller to which heavy chains had been attached all around its circumferance. These chains had balls on the ends, and as the roller rotated, these balls would beat the ground in front of the advancing tank, detonating any mines that were buried in its path.

Another adaptation was the Sherman DD Tank. The Duplex Drive had been invented by Hungarian born Nicholas Straussler. It consisted of 2 propellors at the back driven by the tank's tracks, and a waterproof canvas flotation screen. This screen was raised when in use so that the tank could float and propel itself onto the beach it was headed for. When the DD Tank arrived at the beach, the flotation screen was lowered and the tank would resume its conventional fighting role. Whilst the DD Tanks enjoyed some success on the beaches, many were swamped by the rough seas, and their crews drowned.

There was also an adaptation of the British Churchill MkVII Infantry Tank called the Churchill Crocodile. This had its bow M.G. replaced by a Flame Thrower. The fuel was contained in an armoured trailer towed by the tank, this held enough fuel for 80 one second bursts of flame. Another Churchill adaptation was the Churchill AVRE, or Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers. This was armed with the bunker busting 290mm Petard Spigot Motar and could carry fascines which were used to fill ditches so that other tanks could cross them. After lessons were learnt from the disastrous Dieppe landings, another Churchill adaptation was designed. This was the Churchill ARK, or Armoured Ramp Karrier. This consisted of a Churchill hull fitted with ramps at either end and allowed other tanks to drive across the top of the ARK, to cross either ditches, or climb beach walls.

After the successfull landings, the Allies found themselves in the Bocage country of north western France. The Bocage was perfect defensive country, as it consisted of a patchwork of fields seperated by sunken lanes with almost impeneratable hedgerows either side. The Allied tanks were forced to follow these sunken lanes and came under constant fire from well dug in German Anti-Tank guns. The lanes became dreadfull killing grounds for the Allied Tanks and their crews. It was in this Bocage country that another famous Tank vs Tank encounter took place.

On the Allied left flank, the British needed to secure the town of Caen. In order to do this they first had to capture a place called Villers Bocage. However, it was here that advancing units of the 7th Armoured Division (the 7th Armoured Division had been recalled from Italy on the orders of its former commander, Field Marshall Montgomery), encountered a single Tiger 1 Heavy Tank commanded by Michael Wittman, the famous German Tank Ace. The resulting Battle of Villers Bocage has gone down in history as an example of the supreme tactical knowledge and skill of a single Tank Commander who went on to destroy a whole regiment of Tanks and Tracked Carriers. Wittman himself was later killed when his tank, and 2 others were ambushed by Shermans of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry. The actual kill has since been credited to Joe Ekins, a gunner in a Sherman Firefly, who scored all three Tiger kills during the ambush, before having to bail out of his own tank. He served the rest of the war as the radio operator of another Firefly.

Over on the Allied extreme right flank, whilst the British were drawing German forces onto their side of the frontline, General George S. Patton, commanding the U.S. Third Army, advanced his tank forces more than 60 miles in two weeks, from Avranches to Argentan, before famously running out of fuel! Patton was renowned both for his fast, hard hitting Armoured Thrusts, and his controversial personalilty. He was however, a strong advocate of Armoured Warfare, before, during and after World War 2.

In July 1944, the Canadians and British needed to break out East of Caen. The resulting tank action, known as 'Operation Goodwood' became the biggest tank offensive in British history. 3 Armoured Divisions were involved; the 7th, 11th and Guards Armoured Divisions. The plan was for the 3 divisions to cross the Caen Canal and the River Orne, and advance, or at the very least, to draw the German Armoured reserves towards the British sector, and away from the Americans, who were also planning a break out of their own. The terrain, however, proved to be the undoing of the Operation. With only 4 hastily erected 'Bailey Bridges' over which the tanks could cross the canal and the river, the routes became heavily congested with armoured vehicles. Rain had also turned the battlefield into a swamp. As a result, the Operation was only partially successfull. The British advance did indeed draw the Germans towards the British sector, but a breakthrough wasn't achieved. Only a small advance was gained, with heavy casualties on both sides.

After 'Operation Goodwood', the British were involved in only one other major armoured engagement, and that was 30 Corps' advance in support of 'Operation Market Garden'. A lot has already been said about Montgomery's controvertial airborne landing operation. So I'll just quote from the man himself (I paraphrase here) "Operation Market Garden was 90% successfull"!

Just prior to the Allied Rhine Crossings, the British had introduced a new Heavy Cruiser Tank, the A34 Comet. The Comet was, without a doubt, Britain's best all round tank of WW2. It was armed with a modified version (shortened breech block and barrell) of the famous 17 Pounder OQF Anti-Tank Gun. With this gun it could easily penetrate the frontal armour of the Panther and Tiger 1 from 1000 yards. It could also, theoretically, penetrate the frontal armour of the new Tiger 2, or King Tiger Heavy Tank. However, Comet was introduced too late to have any real impact on the final tank battles of WW2.

Another tank to be developed right at the end of WW2 was the superb Centurion Heavy Cruiser Tank. The Centurion was intially armed with the 17 Pounder, then was later upgunned with a 20 Pounder. In turn, this was bored out to 105mm and became the famous L7 105mm Rifled Gun that became N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and '80s. Although developed at the end of WW2, the Centurion played no part whatsoever during the war. It did however, pave the way for a new generation of Main Battle Tanks, that blended firepower, protection and mobility into one machine. In fact it wasn't until Centurion, that Montgomery's suggestion that the roles of the Cruiser and Infantry tanks should be amalgamated into one type of tank that could fulfill all the roles of armour (except stealthy reconnaissance), was fully realised.

If one could sum up British World War 2 tank development in one sentance, it would be something like this; Too many different models clogging up the production lines, under gunned, under armoured and, with the odd exception, well below the standards of Germany's tank designs.

The last great tank battle of the war was the Battle of Manchuria, which took place from August 9th to August 20th, 1945, in which the Russians attacked the Japanese in the far east, where Russia borders with Manchuria, in a classic Russian 'Deep Battle' operation. 'Deep Battle' was the Russian equivalent of Blitzkrieg; however it was different in its tactics and execution. It involved a massed Armour and Infantry advance on a wide front, preceded by a massive artillery bombardment.

THE COLD WAR – EAST AND WEST FACE OFF IN GERMANY

During the Cold War, N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact faced off against each other across the plains ofGermany. The N.A.T.O. forces were based in West Germany, whilst the Warsaw Pact forces were based inEast Germany. The British Component of the N.A.T.O. forces was the B.A.O.R. or British Army Of the Rhine. The B.A.O.R. was headquartered in the Northern Plains of West Germany and from the 1960’s was equipped with the Chieftain M.B.T. Although the Centurion was the ancestor of all modern M.B.T.s, the Chieftain was the first true M.B.T.

N.A.T.O.’s role in West Germany was to defend against any attack by Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. The tanks that the West developed during this period were generally of a higher quality than the Russian equivalents. The Russians on the other hand relied on sheer numbers of tanks to overcome N.A.T.O. if war ever occurred.

Western tanks developed during the Cold War included; the U.S.’s Patton series (M47, M48, M60 etc), West Germany’s Leopard 1, France’s AMX30, and as already mentioned, Britain’s Chieftain. The Russians meanwhile, developed the T55, T62, T72 and T80 tanks. Whilst the majority of other countries built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Mobility; Britain, traumatised by being outgunned so often during WW2, built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Protection. In fact, Britain designed and built the gun that would become N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and ‘80s; the famous Royal Ordnance L7 105mm Rifled Gun.

Russian T-72 Main Battle Tank

During the Cold War, two conflicts occurred in the Far East and South East Asia; Korea from 1950 to 1953 andVietnam from 1965 to 1975. Both wars were ideological wars; The Communist East against the Capitalist West. Both wars involved the North of each country invading the South. Both wars saw the West intervening in an attempt to prevent Communism from spreading.

However, both wars also saw very limited use of Armour. The Korean War saw the use of still mainly WW2 tanks, e.g. The North Koreans used the Soviet T-34 tank, whilst the Western nations (fighting under the umbrella of the United Nations) used the old M4 Sherman, whilst the British used their new Centurion tank, as well as their WW2 Churchill tank. The hilly terrain made it impossible to use Armour en masse; in fact, the British parked their Centurions on top of hills and used them as static pill boxes, firing down on Communist forces below them!

During the Vietnam War, the Jungle terrain limited the use of Armour; however the Americans were able to use their M48 Medium tanks, and M41 Light tanks in support of the Infantry travelling in M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers.


THE SIX DAY WAR – ISRAEL TAL GOES ON TO TAKE COMMAND

In May 1967 the Egyptians started amassing their troops in the Sinai, whilst the Syrians and Jordanians threatened to join hostilities. Egypt had in its armoured units 1000 tanks, including 60 JS-3s, 450 T-54s and T-55s and about 30 Centurions. The Syrians had 400 tanks and the Jordanians had 200 tanks and tank destroyers. Facing these forces, the Israelis had in their possession 1000 tanks, of which a third were Centurions, a third were M48 Pattons and the rest were a mix of Shermans and AMX13s.

Alarmed by this build up of Arab forces on their southern border, the Israelis launched a pre-emptive aerial strike against Egypt’s air force. This strike virtually wiped out the Egyptian air force on the first day. At the same time the Israeli army (the IDF, or Israeli Defence Force) launched an attack on the Egyptian defensive lines, which ran from the Gaza Strip to Kusseima. The Egyptians had arranged their defences according to Russian doctrine; Fortified Infantry positions with JS3 tanks and heavy artillery support. Mobile forces consisting of T-54 and T-55 tanks were held in the rear, waiting to counter attack any Israeli breakthrough, or to exploit any invasion of Israel should one be launched.

In the meantime, Israel intended to take a defensive stance against Syria and Jordan. On the 5th June 1967, Israel launched a three pronged attack against the Egyptians. On the left, General Arial Sharon attacked Kusseima and Abu Ageila, in the centre, Avraham Yoffe attacked Bir Kahfan, while on the right, Israel Tal advanced along the coast towards El Arish. Each prong of the attack was able to support the others and made good progress.

On the right, Israel Tal attacked through the El Jiradi Pass; with only a relatively small force of tanks and infantry, he managed to defeat the Egyptians who were waiting in ambush in the Pass. He then went on to advance all the way to the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Yoffe and Sharon were able advance towards the GiddiPass and the Mitla Pass respectively. At the same time, Israeli forces defeated Jordanian forces and took Jerusalem on the 7th. With the withdrawal of the surviving Jordanian units, the Israelis were able to advance towards and take the Golan Heights after defeating the Syrians in a combined Infantry and Armour assault.

Israel Tal, who commanded the right hand prong of the Israeli attack, was renowned for his strict discipline and enthusiasm for the tank and its high power gun. He had studied Guderian’s tactics and adopted them for his own units. As commander of the IDF’s Armoured Corps from 1964 onwards, he demanded high gunnery skills and discipline from his tank commanders. His greatest moment was, without a doubt, his attack throught the El Jiradi Pass on the 5th June 1967. However, he dismissed the potency of the Anti Tank Guided Missile in favour of the tank gun and this would lead directly to the initial Israeli set backs at the start of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In spite of this, he became the advisor to the Israeli Minister of Defence and went on to play a leading role in the design and development of Israel’s first indigenously designed tank, the Merkava.

DESERT STORM - PERFECT TANK TERRAIN

On the 2nd of August 1990, Iraq invaded its tiny oil rich neighbour, Kuwait. After Iraq ignored United Nations resolutions and demands for its immediate withdrawal, a coalition of Western and Arab armed forces gathered on the other side of the border in Saudi Arabia. This became known as Operation Desert Shield, for it was believed that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia next, and upset the balance of power in the region. After Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, ignored further demands for Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm was launched on the 17 January 1991, beginning with a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq's armed forces and infrastructure.

The ground offensive was launched on the 23rd of February 1991 and involved the United States Marine Corps, together with the Arab coalition partners, advancing north across the border with Kuwait, heading towards Kuwait City, in a diversionary attack. In the meantime, the main thrust, consisting of the U.S. Army, together with the British contingent, was launched as a ‘left hook’ towards the Iraqi Army to the west ofKuwait, before it could reinforce units inside Kuwait itself.

The Iraqi Army was the 4th largest army in the world at the time, but had a mixed bag of hardware. All of its tanks were of Russian origin, with a mixture of older T-54s and T-55s and some of the more modern T-72s belonging to the much vaunted Republican Guard.

The Coalition, by and large, had more modern equipment, including the superb American M1A1 Abrams tank and the British Challenger 1 MkIII. These two Main Battle Tanks swept the Iraqi tanks before them, the latter standing no chance at all against the better equipped and trained U.S. and British Armies. Operation Desert Storm was reminiscent of the Western Desert campaign of WW2, in that it took place across vast, flat desert terrain which was perfect for fast moving, hard hitting mobile warfare. It also helped that the Iraqi Army, mostly made up of conscripts, was severely demoralized by the Coalition's aerial bombardment.

It was during Operation Granby (the title given to British operations during Desert Storm) that a British Challenger scored the longest ever tank vs tank kill at over 5km with a HESH round. (HESH is short for High Explosive Squash Head). This is a world record that still stands to this day.

Both the U.S. Abrams M.B.T. and the British Challenger M.B.T. are described as being proven battle winners, however, when you look at the tanks they faced, i.e. aging T54s and T55s, I think this is a little unrealistic. Had the Iraqi army been equipped with more modern armour, and its tank crews better trained, then yes, this would be a fair thing to say. Whilst these two M.B.T.s are undoubtedly amongst the best in the world, wait until they have faced more worthy opponents before calling them ‘proven battle winners’!

THE FUTURE…….

So, what does the future hold for Armoured Warfare? Every few years ‘experts’ declare that the M.B.T. has had its day, and yet here they still are! Whilst the world political climate may have completely changed since the Cold War, there are still plenty of potential dissident states that occasionally rattle their sabres, and threaten world peace. Also, while most conflicts of the last few years have been counter-insurgency conflicts, armour, in my opinion, still has its place. There is nothing quite like a 70 ton Main Battle Tank coming at you at full speed to scare the bejesus out of you! The role of the M.B.T; that is, to carry direct firepower across the battlefield, will always exist. Maybe tanks will be smaller and lighter to reflect the modern army's expeditionary nature, but the fact remains, tanks will always have their place in a world of seemingly constant upheaval and conflict.



From a Soviet Point of View - Soviet armored doctrine

*And Yes, this is missing some equipment. Deal with it!!! The Emphasis was doctrine and tactics, not individual systems.


From the mid 1950s the Arab nations were equipped by the Soviet Union. In the absence of good data on the Arabs themselves here’s a description of the Soviets. As my main interest is company level infantry actions I will focus on motorised infantry battalions and below.

Doctrine

The Regiment is seen as the smallest independent unit, as smaller units lack the necessary headquarters and support elements. None-the-less a Soviet battalion is expected to operate independently 20-30 km away from its regiment for 5-15 hours.

Frontages and distances

Each level of unit has deployment frontages and depths. These distances apply regardless of the formation the unit has adopted, e.g. a defending company must cover 1-1.5km of frontage regardless of whether it is in line, wedge, or “V”.

Distance Platoon (m) Company (m) Battalion (km)

Defence frontage 400-500 1,000-1,500 4-7

Defence depth 150-600 500-1,000 1-3

Operational attack frontage 750 1-2

Attack frontage 1,000 2-3

Depth of attack (immediate objective) N/A N/A 2-4

Depth of attack (subsequent objective) N/A N/A 8-15

The Defence frontage combined with the defence depth define the area the unit is responsible for defending.

The Attack frontage is the distance the unit is responsible for when attacking, although the troops only operate within the Operational attack frontage. That means there will be gaps in the attack.

Depth of attack only applies to battalions and above. It is the distance to the unit’s immediate objective and the subsequent objective.

Battalion formations

Formations above battalions will attack in echelons; battalions have the option of doing so, but can also adopt line, wedge or “V” formation. A battalion can have 1, 2 or even 3 echelons, although 1 and 2 are most common. The same formations are used in defence, although line and “V” are most common.

Although I focus on battalion formations, it is worth mentioning that a company will typically attack and defend in line, but can also adopt wedge or “V” formations especially in defence.

One echelon / Line

The most common Soviet small unit formation is the line; for a battalion this means one echelon and a reserve. A battalion in line has all three companies in line 400-800m apart in attack, and 1,000-1,500 in defence. The headquarters, reserve and support weapons follow the central company; 1,000m behind the front when in defence. The reserve will only be one motorised rifle platoon. When defending in line the battalion may also have a one platoon battle outpost 1,000m in front of their main positions.

A one echelon attack will be chosen if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If the battalion:
    • Must cover a wide frontage.
    • Must deliver a concentrated attack with two companies.
    • Has limited time to reach objectives.
    • Has objectives that are close at hand.
  • If the enemy is
    • Surprised.
    • Outmanoeuvred.
    • Unable to defend a broad front.
Two echelon / “V”

Echelon attacks are mandatory for regiment and above, but optional for battalions. Normally a battalion using an echeloned attack will have two echelons and a reserve. It may also have a separate anti-tank reserve.

The first echelon will contain two reinforced companies advancing in line abreast 400-800m apart.

The battalion will have a platoon in reserve. The reserve is the counter-attack force and has no specific role in an attack. It will normally be with the battalion commander behind the second echelon.

Some battalions will also have a separate mobile anti-tank reserve behind the first echelon. Not surprisingly its role in both attack and defence is to counter armoured threats. In larger units the anti-tank reserve includes tanks, engineers, and field artillery as well as standard anti-tank weapons; this may well be true of battalion reserves as well.

The second echelon will have the remaining troops – typically a weak company as at least one platoon will form the reserve. It follows the first echelon by 300-1,000m, and is spread across the same frontage. The purpose of the second echelon:

  • Take over the offensive if the first echelon can’t continue – allowing the first echelon to rest and resupply.
  • Exploit successes of the first echelon, i.e. if the first echelon takes the battalion’s immediate objective, the second echelon will be committed to the attack on the subsequent objective.
  • Mop up bypassed strong-points.
  • Defeat counter-attacks.
  • Attack in a different sector or direction.
A “V” formation is pretty similar to a two echelon formation. The main differences are, in a “V” formation the lead companies are 600-800m apart, and the rifle company of the second echelon is centred behind the lead companies.

Three echelon

The Soviets will opt for a three echelons when attempting break-through attacks on prepared defences.

Wedge

One company leads the rest of the battalion by 300-1,000m. The support weapons follow the lead company, with the other two companies 400-800m to either side.

Types of Attack

The Soviets recognise three basic forms of offensive action:

  • The meeting engagement where both sides are on the move.
  • The breakthrough attack against enemy defending in place.
  • The pursuit of enemy attempting to move away.
Meeting engagement

The Soviets see the meeting engagement as the most likely form of combat in the modern era.

Although capable of cross-country travel, Soviet units will normally travel by road. A battalion will follow a single track. The average speed in is 30-40 km/h; 2/3 of that at night or in bad weather. Vehicle spacing is 15-50 m on roads and 50-100 m cross-country. The battalion will be lead by an advance guard of about 1/3 of its full strength. The flanks will be defended by squads.

The point of the advance is the a combat reconnaissance patrol. It will be 5-10 km (10-30 min) ahead of the main body of the advance guard, and its main purpose is to locate enemy positions, and routes to outflank or envelop the enemy. It includes:

  • A motorised rifle platoon.
  • 2 tanks.
  • A a squad of engineers.
The main body of advance guard is also a combined arms force and is 5-10 km (20-30 min) ahead of the battalion. It includes:

  • Battalion headquarters.
  • 2 motorised rifle platoons
  • remainder of tanks (usually 2)
  • remainder of engineer squads.
  • 1/2 the battalion 120mm mortars.
  • Attachments from regiment including heavy weapons and additional engineers.
The battalion commander may form a second combat reconnaissance patrol from the advance guard to operate 1 km ahead of the rest of the advance guard. It will have the same composition as the first patrol.

If the advance guard encounters enemy it will attack immediately. The aim is to eliminate opposition that might block the advance of the main body. If the advance guard can break through then the main body will not deploy. If more serious opposition is encountered, the advance guard will attempt to pin the enemy to allow the main body to deploy and/or outflank the enemy. Failing that the advance guard will will fight until reinforced by the main body, where upon both groups will assault together.

If information on the enemy is scarce, the advance guard may launch a probing attack. The aim is to either infiltrate the enemy, or to launch a hasty company assault. One platoon, along with the artillery and mortars will be on over-watch. The remainder of the company will attack on a 400m frontage making maximum use of cover. The tanks will lead the APCs/BMPs by 100m; the latter will advance in pairs. If opposition is too strong the company will retire.

If the advance guard and main body launch an assault this can be either a hasty attack from march or an attack from march. In a hasty attack from march the companies are fed into the attack as they arrive. In this situation fire support is provided by over-watching tanks or artillery that can fire direct and by mortars using indirect fire.

In an attack from march the troops are deployed along the line of departure before assaulting. It takes 25-60 min from the moment of contact for a battalion to prepare an attack. This can be supported by a 10-20 min artillery offensive.

If the combine attack of the advance guard and main body fails, the battalion will call upon the second echelon to resume the offensive. Failing that, the regiment will take over, etc.

The breakthrough attack

The aim of a breakthrough attack is to defeat enemy in prepared defences and penetrate their positions. Often they are launched from contact under cover of darkness. They will usually be supported by 10-40 min artillery offensives, and can involve air strikes, parachute drops and helicopter insertions.

The pursuit

First echelon troops will typing frontally pursue the troops they dislodged, while second echelon troops are committed to parallel pursuit – trying to cut the enemy off.

The combined arms assault

Advance in Company Columns: A Soviet battalion column will deploy into company columns 4-6 km from the enemy. It is at this point that the attack formation is adopted, for example, if a company is to form the second echelon then it will take up the proper spacing at this point.

The companies will advance at 12-15 km/h depending on whether the tanks fire at the short halt (for accurate fire) or on the move (for suppressive fire).

Advance in Platoon Columns: The companies will form platoon columns at 1,500-4,000m from the enemy depending on the intensity of the enemy’s indirect fire. Obstacles and minefields will be cleared by specialised tanks or engineers; troops pass through gaps in platoon column. The motorised rifle platoons within a company will normally form line abreast about 500m apart; echelon, “V” or wedge formations are also possible. The tank platoon assigned to each company will normally lead the motorised rifle platoons by 150-200m; the order is reversed In rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Platoon lines: Against weak opposition the platoons will stay in platoon columns, however, normally the platoons will deploy into line at about 1,500m from the enemy. All platoons – rifle and tank – will form line with BMPs or APCs 50-100 apart, and tanks about 100-150m apart. The riflemen are still mounted at this point.

Artillery offensive: In Soviet thinking the primary purpose of artillery is the suppression of enemy anti-tank weapons before and during the attack. Battalion artillery assets will be 500-1,000m behind the combat line, and regimental assets will be 500-4,000m behind the line, however, both will advance to support the advancing attackers. The artillery offensive is divided into three phases: the preparation, fires in support, and fires through the depths of the defence.

Preparatory fire: If there is time, supporting artillery, and possibly artillery from higher levels, will be used for preparatory fire. Preparatory fire is at a sustained rate but starts and ends with a burst of rapid fire at maximum rate. Preparatory fire lifts when the attacking force leaves the departure line, or when the tanks enter direct fire range of the enemy.

Fires in support: From the point preparatory fire lifts attached artillery (possibily including regimental assets) is used to support the attack. Where possible artillery will use direct fire to shoot through the gaps between advancing companies. Supporting fire will continue to shoot until they endanger their own tanks; for indirect fire this is when the tanks are 100-200m from the enemy, but it is closer for direct fire.

Fires through the depths of the defence: Once supporting artillery fire has lifted from the enemy front line positions the supporting artillery fire through the depth of the enemy positions, in other words, it will target enemy rear positions to support the breakthrough.

Tank assault: Normally the tanks lead the assault. They have to enter the enemy positions as soon after the artillery fire lifts as possible. The Soviets believe the tanks have about 3 min to do this before the enemy mans their weapons. Once in the enemy positions the tanks use suppressive fire to cover the advance of the infantry. The tanks will let the infantry lead the assault when in rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Dismounted infantry assault: Normally the infantry will dismount 300-400m from the enemy. However, the infantry will dismount 500-1,000m from the enemy if the enemy is unsuppressed, well entrenched, strong in anti-tank weapons, or in terrain unsuitable for vehicles. Once dismounted the riflemen form skirmish lines and continue to advance, about 200m behind the tanks. Dismounted squads, platoons, and companies all attack in a single skirmish line. The Soviet infantry will attempt to advance as fast as possible, partly to keep the momentum of the attack, and partly to support the advancing tanks. If the skirmish lines are forced to ground, they will alternate fire and short rushes; entire companies will either move or fire, not combine the two Once at 25-30m from the enemy the Russians will charge. The APCs or BMPs follow 300-400m behind the dismounted infantry using direct fire through the gaps between rifle squads (from the short halt).

Mounted infantry assault: BMP equipped infantry are expected to to stay mounted in combat, and to fight from their vehicle. Similarly if APC equipped infantry are facing suppressed enemy the regimental commander has the option to keep the riflemen mounted throughout the attack.

Objectives: The aim of the assault is to overrun the position and keep going, leaving the second echelon to mop up. The Soviets assume there will be sufficient suppressing fire from the tanks, APCs or BMPs, artillery, and the infantry’s own marching fire to make this relatively bold attack feasible. Of course, they might be wrong.

Order of Battle

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion in 1979, and what I know about earlier organisations. I’ve also listed the Soviet support equipment used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation for any particular period.

Motorised Rifle Battalion

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion and its usual supports. I have ignored the numbers of men, and also assumed that all men are equipped with the appropriate small arms. Battalions are either BMP or APC equipped. The organisation described is that of the late 1970s, although I’ve mentioned earlier variations where I know them. Subsequent sections describe the equipment used post WWII, including years the weapons were introduced, so you can make you own conclusions about earlier TO&E. .

1 x Battalion Headquarters (Major, Captain or Lt-Colonel)

1 x Commanders Vehicle = APC or Scout Car or BMP (possibly a command version)

1 x Reconnaissance Vehicle = APC or BMP (or Jeep or Scout car) ***

1 x Truck

1 x Tank Company Headquarters (Snr Lt or Capt) *

1 x Headquarters Tank

1 x Truck

3 x Motorised Rifle Companies (Snr Lt)

1 x Company Headquarters

1 x BMP or APC

2 x light machine guns **

2 x AGS-17 grenade launchers to be fired from tripod or vehicle mounts

1 x Tank Platoon (Jnr Lt, Warrant Officer or Sergeant) *

4 x Tanks

3 Motorised Rifle Platoons (Jnr Lt or Sergeant)

1 x Platoon commander

1 x SA-7 gunner – actually part of the Company HQ but always assigned down to the platoons, and presumably from there to one of the squads.

1 x Sniper in one of the squads

3 x Motorised Rifle Squads (Sergeant)

1 or 2 light machine guns **

1 x RPG-7 ****

1 x BMP or APC ***

1 x Anti-tank platoon – not in the BMP-equipped battalions.

2 x Suitcase Saggers

2 x SPG-9 73mm recoilless anti-tank gun

2-4 x RPG-7s

2 x APCs

1 x Mortar Battery *****

1 x Battery Headquarters

1 x Jeep

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x FO/reconnaissance section

1 x Communications section

3 x Mortar Platoons

2 x Mortar Squads

1 x 120mm Mortar

1 x RPG-7

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x Communications platoon

1 x Command Vehicle

1 x Motorcycle

1 x Truck or Jeep

1 x Airdefence sub-unit

3 x SA-7 sections

1 x Supply section

1 x Medical aid section

1 x Repair workshop

* A tank company from the motorised rifle regiment’s tank battalion was attached to each rifle battalion within the regiment. Similarly one tank platoon from the tank company was assigned to each motorised rifle company. Tank platoons integral to a motorised rifle regiment had 4 tanks; in contrast tank regiments had only 3 tanks per platoon.

** Pre-1979 squads had 1 x RPK light machine gunner. After that BMP-equipped squads had 2 x PKM gunners, and BTR-60PB-mounted squads had 1 x RPK and 1 x PKM gunners. All squad weapons are bipod mounted.

*** The Soviets phased out the older half-platoon APC organinisation in the 1970s, although it was used by Warsaw Pact countries at least into the 1980s so might have been used by the Arabs. Under this organisation all APCs belonged to a central APC platoon, but were attached to companies as needed. Each motorised rifle platoon had only 2 APCs with half the platoon (1.5 squads) in each. The battalion HQ had a jeep or scout car instead of the APC. Units organised in half-platoons were expected to dismount to attack.

**** In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad.

***** Isby (1981) provided contradictory evidence for the composition of the Mortar battery. He says three platoons of two squads of two mortars, but this would give 12 mortars and 12 tows. As the whole battery only has 6 mortars and 6 tows I have assumed each squad has one weapon and tow. The other thing that confuses me is that he gives artillery batteries two platoons of three weapons; I’m not sure why mortar battery has the numbers reversed, in fact in one place he mentions that “two platoons” of the mortar battery.

Soviet APCs and Infantry Combat Vehicles

Here’s a quick summary of the APCs and BMP used by Soviet Motorised Riflemen post WWII. I’ve ignored command versions, and vehicles used by artillery, etc. Unless specified as “Open topped” all vehicles are enclosed. I believe they are all amphibious except the BTR-152 series.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now

BTR-152, BTR-152V1, BTR-152V2, BTR-152V3 Open topped wheeled APC 1950 Basically an armoured truck. Started as half-platoon APC, but by late 1970s only used in certain support roles. Used by the Arabs in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Israeli Border Police used captured vehicles from 1967.

BTR-50P Open topped, tracked APC 1957 Half-platoon APC.

BTR-152K Wheeled APC 1961 Enclosed BTR-152V3; half-platoon APC. Used by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973, but less than the open topped versions.

BTR-50PK Tracked APC Pre-1967 Squad APC that saw service with Egypt in 1967 and 1973 , and with Israel after 1967. Still in use by motorised rifle regiments within Soviet tank divisions in 1979.

OT-62 TOPAS Tracked APC Pre-1967 A Czech version of the BTR-50 that saw service along side the BTR-50PK in the middle east (1967-73) and was still in use by Warsaw Pact armies in 1979.

BTR-60P Wheeled APC 1961 Wheeled half-platoon APC. Either BTR-60P or BTR60-PK saw limited service with Arabs in 1967.

BTR60-PK (BTR-60PA) Wheeled APC 1963
BMP Tracked Infantry Combat Vehicle 1967 Squad Infantry Combat Vehicle. Used by Syrians in 1973.

BTR60-PB Wheeled APC 1966 Squad APC. Standard Arab APC in 1973, and was still standard APC in front line Soviet units in 1979.

MT-LB APC and artillery tractor 1970 Only assigned to cold climates.
BTR70 Wheeled APC 1978 Improved BTR60-PB; squad APC.

Soviet Scout Cars

I’ve listed the Soviet scout cars used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now

BTR-40 1951 Has various versions. Used by Arabs in 1965 (Egypt) and 1967. Many captured by the Israelis and used by their Border Police after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.

BRDM-1 1959 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Many captured and used by the Israelis after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.

BRDM-2 Pre-1967 Main scout car of Soviets in 1979. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

Soviet Anti-tank weapons

I’ve listed the Soviet anti-tank weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now

BS-3 M-1944 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1944 Used in WWII and by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

D-44 85mm anti-tank gun 1953 WWII vintage weapon with some upgrades. Could be used in direct fire artillery role. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; possibly still in use in 1979. Used in south Lebanon in 1979 by Israeli supplied Christian militia. In Soviet service the D-44 was replaced by recoilless weapons (presumably B-10 and B-11), ATGM (presumably AT-1 Snapper) and 100mm weapons (presumably M-1944 or M-1955) although two Soviet low readiness regiments still had D-44 in early 1970s.

B-10 Tripod mounted 82mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank platoon of rifle battalion. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; still in use in 1979. Not considered a success due poor performance in 1967.

B-11 Tripod mounted 107mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank company of rifle regiment. Used by Arabs in 1973; still in use in 1979.

SD-44 Mobiile 85mm anti-tank gun 1954 Has probably never been used in action, but was still used in some Soviet airborne units in 1979.

BS-3 M-1955 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1955 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

AT-1 Snapper Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). Late 1950s Small numbers used by Egypt in 1967.

RPG-7 Man portable rocket propelled grenade launcher 1962 Assigned to squads. Used in by Arabs in 1967 and 1973 and still used extensively today. In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad. In 1973 Egyptian front line units were lavishly equipped with RPG-7s – at the expense of rear units.

T-12 100mm smoothbore anti-tank gun 1965 Assigned to a rifle division’s anti-tank reserve.
SPG-9 Tripod mounted 73mm recoilless rifle 1969 Assigned to anti-tank units of rifle battalion and regiment. Replaced B-10 and B-11 in these roles. Reportedly supplied to Syria but possibly never used.

AT-3 Sagger ATGM Pre-1969 Used extensively by Arabs in 1973.

Soviet Artillery

I’ve listed the Soviet artillery weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

The normal use of artillery was described in the combine arms assault section, however, it is also worth noting that the Soviets will use artillery as direct fire anti-tank weapons, and will use even heavy artillery at close range (200-300m) against enemy positions in urban settings. They have found that direct fire is about 8 times for effective in demolishing buildings that indirect fire.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now

A-19 122mm towed field gun 1931, 1937 WWII vintage gun, it was a corps level long range counter-battery weapon. Used by Arabs throughout Middle Eastern wars. Replaced by M-46 and D-74 in Soviet service, but likely to see continue service elsewhere.

M-30 122mm towed howitzer 1938 WWII vintage gun still in use by Soviets in 1979, although being replaced by D-30. A regimental and divisional asset. Standard Egyptian howitzer in 1967. Subsequently the Israelis fielded their own battalions of captured M-30s.

ML-20 152mm gun-howitzer 1937 WWII vintage long range weapon. Used in the Middle East. Replaced in Soviet service by D-20.

82mm mortar 1937, 1941, 1942 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Used by Soviet airborne and naval battalions. Towed.

120mm mortar 1938, 1943 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Standard Soviet mortar assigned to motorised rifle battalions. Towed.

D-1 152mm towed heavy howitzer 1943 One of the last WWII vintage weapons still in use. Used in considerable numbers by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.

SU-100 100mm Self-propelled guns Early 1940s WWII vintage self-propelled guns used by Egypt in the 1956 war.

240mm mortar 1952 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but has seen combat in Lebanon. May have been used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Towed.

160mm mortar 1943, 1953 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but was used by Arabs since 1967 war including Lebanese Civil War. Towed.

M-46, M1954 130mm towed field gun 1954 A divisional level asset that is excellent for both in counter-battery or direct fire anti-tank roles. Used by Egyptians in an army level counter-battery role in 1973 war. Subsequently the Israelis formed their own M-46 battalions.

D-74 122mm towed gun 1955 Used at divisional level in place of the D-30 when long range is necessary.

D-20 152mm towed gun-howitzer 1955 Standard Soviet heavy howitzer. Used at divisional level in place of the D1 when long range is necessary. Used by Egyptians in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.

S-23 180mm towed heavy gun-howitzer Mid 1950s A divisional and front asset. Used by Egyptians in 1973.

D-30 122mm towed gun-howitzers 1967 The standard Soviet divisional and regimental howitzer in 1979. One of the mainstays of the Arab field-artillery in 1973. Sometimes used in a direct fire anti-tank role. Being replaced by SAU-122 self-propelled howitzers in all Soviet BMP and half the BTR-60 equipped motorised rifle regiments.

76.2mm mountain gun 1938, 1969 Used as regimental artillery for mountain units in place of the 122mm howitzers.

BM-14 140mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1959 Replaced by BM-21.

BM-24 240mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). Pre-1967 Standard Arab MRL in 1967 war. In 1973 the Israelis fielded an upgrade version. Now withdrawn from Soviet front-line service.

BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1964 Standard Arab MRL in 1973 war.

SAU-122 122mm self-propelled howitzer 1974 .

SAU-152 152mm self-propelled howitzer 1973 .

Soviet Tanks

I’ve listed the Soviet tanks used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now

T-34/85 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
IS-3 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in very small numbers during the 1956 war.
T-54 1947 The T-54/55 was standard Arab main battle tank in both 1967 and 1973. Some original T-54s supplied to Syria and used successfully against Jordan in 1970. T-55A was most common of the T-55s. Still used by Soviets in 1979, in category II and III tank units and Naval infantry.

T-54A 1955
T-54B 1957
T-54C
T-55 1961
T-55A 1963

PT-76 1955 Amphibious reconnaissance light tank. Egypt used PT-76s in 1967 without much success. Israel used captured versions after that. Arabs used them again in 1973, including with the Egyptian 130th Mechanised Infantry Brigade.

T-62 1961 Dominated Soviet armoured units during 1970s, and saw action with the Arabs in 1973.

T-62A 1970
T-62M Late 1970s
T-67 1967 T-54/55s captured in 1967 by Israelis, modified and used in 1973.
T-64 1973
T-72 1975
T-80 1980 ??

Soviet Trucks, Tractors, Jeeps and Motorcycles

I’ve listed the Soviet trucks, tractors, jeeps and motorcycles used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period. Tractors are fully tracked vehicles usually intended for towing artillery; they could also haul cargo and some had specialised roles, e.g. ferries. Trucks are also often used for towing artillery.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now

M-72 Motorcycle Early .
GAZ-69A Jeep 1950s First generation of post-WWII tractors. Not too successful, the ZIL-151 in particular (replaced by ZIL-157). ZIL-157 was the standard Soviet truck until replaced by the URAL-375D. ZIL-157 and ZIL-151 were still being used by Soviets in 1979.

GAZ-63A Truck
ZIL-164 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-151 Truck
ZIL-157 Truck and Tractor versions
BAV Amphibious truck
MAV (GAZ-46) Amphibious jeep
AT-P Tractor
AT-S Medium artillery tractor
AT-L Light tractor
AT-T Heavy artillery tractor
UAZ-469 Jeep Early 1960s Second generation of trucks and tractors. GAZ-66 and URAL-375 were particularly successful. ZIL-130, ZIL-131, KrAZ-255B, and MAZ-543 were less successful. URAL-375D series was the standard Soviet truck in 1979.

GAZ-66 Light truck
URAL-375 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-130 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-131 Truck and Tractor versions
KrAZ-255B Truck
ZIL-135 Truck
MAZ-543 Truck
ATS-59 Medium artillery tractor
K-61 Amphibious tractor ferry
PTS-M Amphibious tractor ferry
MAZ-500 Tank transporter Late 1960s
MAZ-535 Tank transporter
MAZ-537 Truck used as heavy artillery tow
GT-T Amphibious tractor 1970s ??
GT-SM Amphibious tractor
KrAZ-214 Truck ?? Used by Egyptians as a gun tow.
GT-S Amphibious tractor ??

Other comments on Soviet versus Arab tactical doctrine

Andrew Tippman on AIW-Wargaming forum

In case you’re interested, the accepted wisdom of the mid 1980s (when I was an instructor) was that, although the Middle Eastern conflicts may produce evidence of equipment capabilities, the armies involved were too divorced from the European standard to offer many lessons in the NATO vs WP theatre at a low level. Israeli armies were regarded as too highly motivated to represent NATO troops, Arab armies as lacking the discipline required to make sense of Soviet tactical doctrine. I must admit I was never entirely convinced of the latter part of that argument. I believed that we, in NATO, tended to stereotype WP soldiery as suicidal automatons and Arabs as cowardly incompetents – broad generalisations with little evidence in their support.

Soviet tactics relied heavily on speed, firepower and discipline and heavy losses were expected and taken into account. They only make sense if you consider that a Soviet commander would deploy the highest possible concentration of fighting power in the smallest area during the smallest time to achieve overwhelming superiority and that “conservation of effort” is a NATO principle of war, not a Soviet one.

Was Arab doctrine the same during the AIWs? Opinions, please!

Mures Arad in personal communication on “Soviet Doctrine Arab Armies”

No Arab army has ever utilized Soviet Tactical Military Doctrine. The reason being that Soviet “Military Advisors” never taught doctrine or tactics. When one hears the phrase “Military Advisor,” one generally thinks of US Special Forces or British SAS. Soviet “Military Advisors” were not Spetnatz, in fact, many were non-military. The Soviets were Technical Advisors, many being civilians employed by the contractor who built the weapons system, much in the same way that Martin-Marietta provided civilian advisors to the US Army for the Lance and Pershing I, IA and II missile systems. Soviet Technical Advisors provided advice on training and maintenance to the host nation, not tactics.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war was the genesis for the creation of the US Army’s AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. It had always been assumed that the Arabs used Soviet tactics and the Israelis used Western tactics. A captain at one of the war colleges wrote a paper identifying the Arab armies as using classic Western Style warfare and the Israelis using a modified version of standard Wehrmacht tactics. A review of all Arab-Israeli conflicts confirmed this and led to the question: What exactly is Soviet Tactical Doctrine?

The US began collecting books written in the Soviet Union about WWII and interviewing surviving German officers in the east and west and Warsaw Pact military defectors. To their horror, the US realized that it had completely misunderstood Soviet tactical warfare and began reviewing and rewriting their own doctrine, leading to the AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. The Israelis were discovered to be using a combination of Wehrmacht and Soviet doctrine.




The Future of Armored Warfare


We miss our animals. Since history closed the mounted arm's stables, soldiers have compensated by naming their units after dragons, lions, panthers and their great lost love, the horse. Tankers, especially, like to associate themselves with the sleek and ferocious. Unfortunately, the armored vehicles of the next century are apt to resemble hedgehogs, snakes, and caterpillars. Perhaps, someday, a hard-bitten NCO will slam down his beer mug, stand up and declare, "I'm from the Woolly-Bears, mister, and we don't like that kind of talk . . . ."

Armored vehicles will be around for a long time to come. But their shapes, sizes, weights, armor, armaments, propulsion, connectivity, battlefield awareness, and crewing will change profoundly. The continuity will be in the mission: to deliver local killing power and allow protected maneuver. The evolution of armored vehicles will be driven by technology and strategic requirements, but, above all, by the changing environment of combat: the increasing urbanization of warfare, and the growing transparency of traditional non-urban operations--in which we will be able to monitor the activities of enemy forces in real time. Far from being the twilight of the tank, the new era could become a great age of armor, but only if proponents and practitioners of mounted combat are willing to engage the future in a spirit of honest inquiry.

The hints that Armor needs to reform itself grow ever harder to ignore. First, in the Gulf War, it took an Infantryman to recognize that the ground battle had opened in the pursuit phase. Too many armored commanders sought to fight textbook battles--and the textbooks were outdated editions that elevated secure flanks above knock-out blows. Then came the Russian experience in Grozny. Our reaction was to mock Russian incompetence and repeat the old saw that you don't send armor into cities. We failed to recognize the future, just as Europeans, content to assume American military incompetence, failed to appreciate the killing power of rifled weapons demonstrated in our Civil War. Half a century later, the Europeans reprised Cold Harbor on a vast scale on the Somme. Will we re-enact the Battle of Grozny?

Yes, the Russians were militarily incompetent in Chechnya. On the other hand, they had no choice but to use armored vehicles in city streets--like all advanced armies, they lacked the infantry strength to reduce the city building by building. Between these two examples, our soldiers found themselves in deadly combat in Mogadishu under conditions that begged for armor. Apart from the political considerations that denied our troops the tools they needed to overwhelm their opponents, the military itself was guilty of relying on traditional approaches to urban operations that are no longer feasible when domestic elites panic in the face of casualties (friendly or enemy).

The lessons of these examples are many, but the core challenges come down to a few points. Mounted warfare in non-urban environments goes very fast, and will go faster. Traditional control measures are inadequate. Battlefields quickly become cellular and multi-directional, and therein lies more opportunity than danger for the force with informational superiority and a leadership unafraid of the initiative of subordinates. While rigorous training and equipment quality are essential, the key variable is situational awareness--both the practical kind that means seeing the enemy tank before it sees you, and the deeper sort of command visualization that allows a leader to understand not only the physical reality of the enemy situation, but, more important, the situation as the enemy perceives it.

In the future, formations will operate far more swiftly and in smaller increments than in even the most successful divisional attacks during Desert Storm, but this is the reborn paradigm: Go fast, hit the enemy's weaknesses, keep on hitting him, and don't stop moving. This is very old military wisdom. Somehow, somewhere between the National Training Center and Carlisle, many of us forgot it. Too often, we elevate safety of decision over decisiveness. We may admire Jackson, but we imitate McClellan.

The lessons of Chechnya are even more relevant than those of our incomplete victory on the banks of the Euphrates. In the lethal urban canyons of Grozny--rather a small city, by world standards--the Russian military urgently needed means of protected fire and movement. They were forced to use what they had, and what they had was wrong. Equipment designed for war in the European countryside, flawed tactics, and grossly inadequate training and command and control led to disaster. The Russian experience does not prove that armor was the wrong answer, only that the Russians had the wrong kind of armor--and used that badly.

The key to the future of armored warfare lies in disregarding what we expect a tank to be in order to focus on what we need the tank of the future to do.

Tomorrow's Armored Force

On those disappearing battlefields that do not center on urban environments and complex terrain, tanks will remain recognizable for at least a generation. We will see changes in lethality, protection, propulsion and weight, but the greatest advance will be in battlefield awareness. On-board, remote, and even strategic sensors will give our tankers a commanding view of the battlefield, and there will be a window of frustration as their vision outstrips their engagement range. Eventually, tanks will gain a much deeper, indirect-fire capability, and sensing munitions will make an increasing proportion of land engagements resemble over-the-horizon naval warfare. These extra-urban tanks will become lighter, and will go faster. Miniaturization of components, from engines through communications gear to ammunition, will pace advances in armor to make systems more rapidly deployable. Eventually, the tank's primary "armor" may be electromagnetic or may otherwise take advantage of physical principles we are only beginning to exploit. We can imagine developments from "battles of conviction," in which opposing combat systems struggle to "convince" each other's electronics to enter vulnerable configurations, to weapons that literally stop opponents in their tracks by manipulating the local environment. Many experiments will fail, but some--possibly the most radical--will succeed.

Despite protection advances, crews will remain the most vulnerable link in the armored warfare system. This will be compounded by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Eventually we will see a variant of remote-control tanks operated by displaced crews that remain well apart from the advance--perhaps as much as a continent away. Rather than merely requiring a private with a toggle switch, the complexity of decisionmaking will probably call for at least a two-man "crew" (per shift) even for robotic tanks. Virtual reality control environments will keep things lively. It is also possible that future tanks will be dual capability--normally directly crewed, but capable of remote operation under extreme threat conditions.

To complement the tanks, we will develop hyper-protective troop carriers to facilitate those dismounted activities indispensable to land warfare. But even here robotics will play a role so that we can operate under conditions created by weapons of mass destruction without soldiers present (although a human battlefield presence will always remain desirable--and usually essential). We may have to rethink mounted operations in the outyears: remotely-crewed vehicles can maneuver through intervening, high-threat terrain while soldiers are air-delivered to link-up points in or near populated areas or complex terrain we cannot ignore. Tangentially, we are likely to develop vehicles with a come-when-I-call robotic capability, as well as specially-intelligent tanks and troop carriers and, further along, "self-healing" vehicles that can repair and even remold themselves in response to battle damage.

"Flying tanks" have long been objects of speculation, but it is likely that fuel-logic and the psycho-physical dynamics of battle will demand grounded systems for many years to come. While attack helicopters already incorporate many of the characteristics previously imagined for flying tanks, we have found them a complement to, not yet a substitute for, armored vehicles. If we do work toward flying tanks--in the interests of systems economy--the more successful approach would probably be to ask how helicopters could change so that they can move, shoot, and survive on the ground. Aircraft are conceptually more mutable than ground systems, and, if the flying tank proponents are right, this might become the back-door means to change the parameters of armored warfare. A very real danger, however, is asking any system to do too many things, resulting in a system that does nothing especially well. Striking a proper balance between specificity of purpose and flexibility of application is a fundamental systems-design problem.

The relationship between direct and indirect fire means will also change. As noted above, tanks will acquire a longer-range precision capability. At the same time, aircraft and then orbital platforms will deliver an ever greater proportion of the firepower we apply to combat in open areas. Great advances are on the horizon for fire coordination, and we are likely to see simultaneous joint attacks on complex targets by tanks, satellites, and hunter-killer computers. As with the Armor branch, Field Artillery needs to break from means- centered models and focus on the required ends. The alternative is to decline into the role of niche player--too heavy to deploy rapidly, too clumsy for urban operations, and a non-player in the information battle. While the goal of warfare will always be to destroy the enemy, the first step today is to inflict systems paralysis on conventional opponents, from air defense systems to command and control--and, increasingly, to national information infrastructures. What will tomorrow's "artillery" look like?

The long-term trend in open-area combat is toward overhead dominance by US forces. Battlefield awareness may prove so complete, and precision weapons so widely-available and effective, that enemy ground-based combat systems will not be able to survive on the deserts, plains, and fields that have seen so many of history's great battles. Our enemies will be forced into cities and other complex terrain, such as industrial developments and inter-city sprawl, where our technical reconnaissance means cannot penetrate or adequately differentiate and our premier killing systems cannot operate as designed. We will become victims of our success. We are becoming so powerful at traditional modes of warfare that we will drive our enemies into environments where our efficiency plummets, our effectiveness drops, and close combat remains the order of the day. We will fight in cities, and we need tanks that can fight and survive in their streets.

The Changing Nature of Cities

Urban operations--the tanker's nightmare--will be the growth area for armored warfare. The world is becoming a network of cities with marginalized hinterlands. Increasingly, cities transcend statehood. In this contradictory world, where nationalism has returned in plague force, nation-states are softening. Cities as diverse as Vancouver, Frankfurt, Moscow, Miami, and Shanghai are growing apart from their parent states, for reasons that range from ethnic shifts in the population base to wealth concentration. Vancouver doesn't need the rest of Canada. Moscow doesn't much want the rest of Russia, except as an ornament of power and a looting ground. Shanghai may not be able to "afford" China indefinitely. Miami has become the shadow capital of Latin America--a focal point of information, culture, investment, banking, society, and exile. Frankfurt am Main is well on the way to becoming a "German" city with an ethnic German minority. An ancient paradigm is reversing: while cities long sucked strength from the diverse resources of the state, the state is increasingly becoming a parasite on the world's more-successful cities. This shift does not apply to cities such as Washington, D.C., or Marseilles, which would collapse entirely without state support, but it is very much the case in boom towns such as Hyderabad, Ho Chi Minh City, and Seattle. In the post-modern American model of dispersed cities, Silicon Valley has to foot the bill for failed governmental models in yesterday's cities--and every useful federal function performed in Washington, D.C. could be transferred profitably to Northern Virginia, were it not for habit and sentimentality. Suburbia is becoming "posturbia," and even in Ireland and Britain, the industries of the future are moving toward capable populations, instead of expecting the hands and minds to relocate to cities where the quality of life is abysmal. In this tiered construct, boom cities pay for failed states, post-modern dispersed cities pay for failed cities, and failed cities turn into killing grounds and reservoirs for humanity's surplus and discards (guess where we will fight).

Human clustering has left behind the village (the primary node of human organization until the middle of the 20th century and humanity's moral arbiter) and is concentrating in these three models: boom cities(Munich, Bangkok, Seoul); reservoir cities, where humanity is held in suspension (Lagos, Johannesburg, Lima, Karachi, Calcutta, Los Angeles proper, Paris); and dispersed cities (the Washington area without the city of Washington, Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles region without the city of Los Angeles). Of note, the dispersion of America's success functions, with the transition of suburbia to a wonderfully livable workplace, is as misunderstood as American culture--decried by elitists, it creates the highest, healthiest, and most desired standard of living in history--just as American culture is the world's all-time bestseller, despite condescending reviews. We're winning again.

We live in the most dynamic age in human history. The city--capstone of human organization--is growing, changing, producing fantastic wealth, and rotting. While numerous factors are involved, the primary catalyst of change is the information revolution. In this Age of Contradiction, the value of information has inflated, while the cost of information has plummeted. Information always generated power; today, it generates wealth at a breathless pace--and cities (including America's "dispersed cities") are humanity's information banks. If we possessed the data to calculate an "information deposit coefficient" for the populations of cities such as the greater Boston area (winner) and Bombay (loser), we would probably be astonished at the per capita informational advantage in Boston. Compounding the problem, the information that is available in the world's loser cities is not only scarce, but generally inaccurate, episodic, and deformed by local prejudice.

While many cities and post-cities are growing richer, more powerful, and more efficient, others--especially in societies with information disorders--are becoming poorer (on a per capita basis), weaker in their ability to self-regulate, and unable to deliver the most basic services that allow human beings to coexist in great densities. Many of these reservoir cities are anarchies attenuated by apathy, and the apathy of the masses can transform itself very quickly into violence. We are entering a period when we will increasingly judge the success of cities and their environs before we concern ourselves with their moldering states. This will not be a global model--countries such as the United States (for all our urban problems) manage to maintain a symbiotic dynamism between city and countryside, bridged by "third way" development: those dispersed cities coalescing from culturally chaste suburbs, satellite enclaves of production, and the workload diffusion characteristic of information mastery. Foreign actors will have to contend with the USA, not just L.A., for the rest of our lifetimes.

But who cares about Upper Egypt if Cairo is calm? We do not deal with Indonesia--we deal with Jakarta. In our recent evacuation of foreigners from Sierra Leone, Freetown was all that mattered. For decades, we dealt not with the government of Zaire, but with the emperor of Kinshasa--and in the recent civil war in that vast African state (now renamed as yet another Congo), military progress was measured not in jungle traversed, but in cities conquered. India is well on the way to becoming a confederation of city-states disguised as a political unity. Hong Kong will be a fascinating laboratory for the relative power of the city versus the state.

There is no global village. The village is dying as a model, and it is dead as a source of power. Instead, a global network of cities and post-cities is emerging, of both the healthy and the faltering, whose elites interact across borders more efficiently and effectively than they interact with the populations of their own hinterlands. Our elites will be inclined to defend foreign elites, even at the expense of our own population (this is already the paradigm of US- Mexican relations and US-Saudi relations). Our future military expeditions will increasingly defend our foreign investments, rather than defending against foreign invasions. And we will fight to subdue anarchy and the violent "isms" because disorder is bad for business. All of this activity will focus on cities.

In the future, the term "urban warfare" will be a redundancy.

New Armor for Urban Warfare

Where does armor fit in? Today's armor, designed for a war that--blessedly--never was, is ill-designed for urban combat. Yet, until better designs reach our soldiers, we will need to make do with what we have. Ideally, that would lead to reassessments of our tactics and reorganization of our units. We have begun to accept the inevitability of urban operations, but the truth is that we are likely to resist significant preparations until a sizable number of our service members have been killed and our nation embarrassed. That is the price we pay for any military paradigm shift following a period of successful organizational performance: the world may have changed, but we won't "mess with success." At a time when the pace of technological and social change is without precedent in human history, our military is clinging to the past. We are behaving like a blue-collar union in a smokestack industry.

We can affect the out-years, though. If you catch decisionmakers on a good day, they can be persuaded to sign up for changes that will not begin to remold the force on their watch. We have a free conceptual environment for anything beyond a decade, and we need to take advantage of it by asking ourselves practical questions about the future employment of armor in urban environments: What do we need that armor to do? How would we like it to do it? What are the extremes of the possible?

Regarding firepower, armor for urban environments will need two types of guns--or one gun that can do a variety of jobs. We will need a crude blasting capability, and we will need maneuverable munitions that can follow an assigned target beyond the limits of pure ballistic trajectories. We need old-fashioned flechette-type munitions--or an innovative substitute--and we need rounds that can penetrate multiple layers of steel and concrete before exploding or otherwise "blooming" a follow-on destructive capability. "Boomerang" weapons that respond instantly to attack and track the assailant until he or it is eliminated would be an especially powerful deterrent. We will need a counter-electronics capability and crowd control "weaponry." It is important not to limit conceptualizing to traditional guns; an ammunition-free technique that achieves the desired effect could become part of our weapons suite. Any means we could develop to isolate portions of the urban battlefield would offer a tremendous advantage. Again, it is essential to focus on the task, not the known means for performing that task.

But the primary job of armored vehicles in urban areas will be to protect maneuver, movement, and resupply. Because urban environments promise endless ambushes, we need new forms of armored protection--not just layers of steel, or laminate, or ceramics, or even reactive armor as it presently exists. Tomorrow's layers of armor will begin with spoofing techniques that complicate target detection on the part of enemy systems, before proceeding to environmental or atmospheric modification capabilities that defeat mines, distort the enemy's perceptions, and disrupt the trajectory and integrity of enemy munitions. Instead of today's rigid hulls and turrets, tomorrow's armor may be malleable, capable of reshaping itself in response to changing threat environments. Self-repair, and, in the following generation, self-healing of battle damage, are logical goals. Finally, "living" armor, with its principles based on biological models, may allow new levels of interaction among man, machine, and environment.

Armored vehicles for urban warfare must also be nimble. While long-range sustained speeds are not a requirement, a sprint capability is essential. The vehicles must be highly maneuverable--at least in some variants. Deployment requirements and the varieties of urban operations suggest a modular approach, either to total armored fighting systems, or at least to troop carriers. The ability to "task organize" vehicle size, power units, armaments, electronic warfare (EW) suites, and battlefield awareness capability is worth pursuing. Vehicles that could operate as compact individual entities or join together to form moving fortresses or to "circle the wagons" offer new flexibility. Armored "mother ships" could "feed" or harbor smaller vehicles and robotic devices. Robotic scouts might climb through rubble, navigate corridors, or explore sewers, followed by team carriers with human decisionmakers and actors. These would be backed up by caterpillar mini-fortresses that hustle through streets and possess not only offensive and defensive environmental controls, but segmentation and self-repair capabilities. The visual signature of our armored systems, to the extent we do not obscure them, should be composed to psychologically disarm the enemy, exploiting research on instinctive reactions to shapes, colors, sounds, and smells. Our systems should be sensually terrifying to opponents and intimidating to populations.

Urban warfare is three-dimensional. Armored vehicles, using drones or ground robotics or hyper-sensors, must not only be able to see into multi-story structures and down into sewers, subways, and service tunnels, but must be able to introduce soldiers--in a protected manner--to upper-story or subterranean zones of operation. Ideally, armored vehicles would be able to caterpillar above or snake below ground level, gripping the lower portions of structures, or entering subterranean passageways. This might be done with deployed subcomponents, such as team-capsule vehicles, or with extensions from master vehicles. The ability to cross exposed "ground" will be essential. A well-designed vehicle or extension might seal against a second story window, "sanitize" the immediate interior, and release soldiers from an armored gate. To some extent, the soldier himself might become an armored entity.

Secured areas might be outposted by robotics and picketed by soldiers cued by local fusion centers that combine intelligence from sources as diverse as miniature roaming sensors and national-level systems. Population control might be established by electronically registering every inhabitant with whom the force comes in contact and alerting in response to any human concentrations that do not fit habitation profiles. Eventually, body signature sensors should identity fear, hostility, or positive demeanors on the part of the locals. Any means that can be developed to separate the hostile actor from the "sea of the people" is highly desirable, since, in urban operations, the enemy's ultimate camouflage is his humanity.

A model urban operation of the future might begin with a massive information operations effort that attacks not only systems but souls. Air and space forces would then isolate the city electronically and through fires, attack pre-selected targets with precision munitions, suppress air defenses, and impose barriers between urban sub-sectors. Army robotics parachute in to secure airfields and landing zones, followed by air-delivered troops with light armored vehicles to extend the perimeter. The next wave includes heavier ground systems and more personnel delivered by air and, in littoral cities, by Navy-Marine operations. Robotic systems push deeper into the urban area, followed by armored reconnaissance "moving fortresses," or combinations of separate vehicles, delivering firepower and dismountable forces to hostile zones. Behind the fighters, military police and intelligence personnel process the inhabitants, electronically reading their attitudes toward the intervention and cataloging them into a database immediately recoverable by every fire team in the city (even individual weapons might be able to read personal signatures, firing immediately upon cueing).

Wherever the enemy resists, joint operations isolate and reduce the threat zone. Smart munitions track enemy systems and profiled individuals. EW actions veil the movement of armored vehicles, remotely exploding mines as the vehicles move forward. Tanks and tank segments deliver direct and smart fires in a final barrage as troop carriers advance. The unit commander designates points of entry, and images of exteriors and interior layouts appear in the carriers for orientation. Carriers leech against buildings and subterranean passage entry points, collapsing the atmosphere at the points of entry to kill or disable any present enemies, before discharging troops. In extremely vertical environments, robotics and troops are air-delivered by systems that can spoof enemy sensors and vision into registering multiple images or completely false images. As soldiers clear the buildings--preceded by their individual sensors--they push their individual weapon's selector switch to "Inhabited," and, upon entering a room, the weapon does not discharge if pointed at a noncombatant without violent intent. Most friendly casualties are lost to enemy suicide attacks or come as the result of physical injuries received during fire and movement within buildings, such as broken limbs. When particularly stiff pockets of resistance develop, smart armor moves in to destroy them or soldiers cue stand-off precision weapons.

Other armored units move swiftly through the city to establish a mobile presence and seize control of line-of-communication nodes and routes of ingress to and egress from the city. In vast conurbations, lightweight, electronically armored systems are airlifted by rotary wing (or post-rotary wing) assets. Satellites monitor the city for any air defense fires, cueing immediate responses from near-space orbiting "guns." Drones track processed inhabitants who have been "read" as potentially hostile and "tagged." Any suspect concentrations draw immediate intervention. Non-lethal weapons control crowds and manage POWs. Operations continue 24 hours a day until the city is cleared of hostiles. When the environment is deemed acceptably safe, United Nations peacekeepers arrive to conduct the long-term operations necessary to restore or create an acceptable government and civil functions. US intelligence and electronic support continues, but US troops return to the United States or to forward bases to prepare for subsequent expeditionary actions.

Many of the hypotheses contained in this essay will never be realized--not because they are too far-fetched, but because they will prove inadequately imaginative. We will develop far more appropriate, incisive, and interesting solutions than those offered here. Yet, even if every avenue of development here proposed is wrongheaded, the urban operations challenge is real, immediate, and growing. We willfight in cities. Even when we are not fighting, we will operate in urban areas and in complex terrain on a variety of missions.

What guidelines will help us to accomplish those missions successfully? In future urban operations, whether in 1997 or 2027, the US military should strive to follow tenets such as these:


  • 1. Extract a clear mission statement from decisionmakers.

    2. Tell the American people there will be friendly casualties.

    3. Establish unity of command and purpose.

    4. Impose rules of engagement that favor US forces, not the enemy.

    5. Deploy more combat power than you think you need, then increase it.

    6. Operate offensively, never passively or defensively, and operate continuously.

    7. Never allow local inhabitants to congregate in mass.

    8. Do the job fast. If the job can't be done fast, get somebody else to do it.

    9. Hand off the pacified city to non-US peacekeepers as soon as possible.

    10. From first to last, fight and win the information war--on all fronts.
The physical contours of warfare have changed dramatically in our time, and they will continue to evolve. Thinking about the problem is a first step. The next step is to begin to prepare our remarkable military for reality.
 
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Bagha

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@me_itsme - hope this helps!

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ARMOURED WARFARE
It's been over 90 years since the tank was first used on the 15th September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Since those first tentative steps, the design and development of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles has continued unabated, and has culminated in such advanced designs as the U.S. M1A2 Abrams, the German Leopard 2A6, the British Challenger 2, the French Leclerc and the Israeli Merkava Mk4. Even now these same AFVs are undergoing continued development work to upgrade them, and to keep them competitive on the modern battlefield.

One can't help but wonder what the likes of Swinton, Elles, Fuller and Broad, the original architects of Armoured Warfare, would think if they were still alive to see these macines, so different to the ones that were in use during their lifetimes.

THE GREAT WAR - THE FIRST TENTATIVE STEPS

In February 1915, the Landships Committee was established to design and develope a machine that could break the deadlock of trench warfare, it was headed by the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. The Landships Committee came about after Colonel Maurice Hankey took Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton's proposals for an armoured trench crossing vehicle to Churchill, who then became a strong advocate of this new type of vehicle. The result was 'Little Willy'. However, it didn't have the wide trench crossing capability that was required, so a new version was designed. This went on to become the Mark 1 Tank, or 'Mother' as it was known. The Mark 1 was built in two variants, the Male that was armed with two 6 Pounder guns, and the Female that was armed with 4 machine guns.

It was the Mark 1 Tank that saw the very first use of Tanks in combat, during the Battle of the Somme. However, it only saw limited success as it was used in 'penny packets' and not en-masse. It wasn't until the Battle of Cambrai, that the British first used tanks en masse in a Combined Arms Assault, coordinating the Infantry, Artillary, Tanks and Aircraft. By this time the new Mark IV Tank had been developed. This had a number of upgrades in an attempt to overcome the Mark 1's deficiencies. It had external fuel tanks between the rear track horns, the rear wheels were removed (these had been intended to aid in steering the tank, but were in fact useless) and the side sponsons that the guns were mounted in, were made retractable so that the tank was more suitable for rail transport. It still, however, took three men to steer, a problem that wasn't resolved until the Mark V Tank, which only required one man to drive and steer.

The first ever Tank vs Tank battle took place on the 12th April 1918, at the village of Villers Bretonneux. During the German Spring Offensives, 3 groups of Infantry, accompanied by A7V Tanks attacked the British lines between Cachy and Villers Bretonneux. It was the attack by the 3rd group that encountered British MkIV tanks and Medium Whippet tanks. The outcome of this first Tank vs Tank was inconclusive, the German A7vs managed to hit a number of MkIV Females and Whippets, whilst the British managed to hit some of the A7Vs.

The first Armoured Personnel Carrier was a lengthened Mk V Male Tank, that could carry an Infantry Machine Gun Section, however, it proved to be a failure, as the Infantry inside were rendered useless by the Tank's fumes!

THE EXPERIMENTS OF THE INTER-WAR YEARS

After the Great War, the Army's Cavalry Traditionalists increasingly tried to get the Tank units disbanded, claiming that they were't necessary during peacetime, and that the British Empire's land frontiers could be affectively policed by Armoured Cars and the newly formed R.A.F. This was in part prevented by the Tank units being given the Royal Seal of Approval and being formed into The Royal Armoured Corps.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the British started to experiment with their newly formed Royal Armoured Corps, developing the tactics that they would use with the new formation. They ran a series of experimental exercises on Salisbury Plain in the south of England. These early experiments consisted of Armoured Divisions, using the then standard British tank, the Vickers Medium, along with Carden Lloyd carriers used as scouts, manoeuvring against traditional Cavalry and Infantry Divisions. On each occasion, inspite of attempted interference by biased umpires, the Armoured Divisions 'won'.

During the later part of the 1930's, for whatever reasons (and I don't have the space to go into them), the British decided that they needed three types of Tank to fulfill the different roles of Armour. These three types of Tank were;

The Light Tank; Small, fast, lightly armed and armoured and used for Reconnaisance duties.

The Cruiser Tank; Fast, medium weight tanks, used to exploit the initial breakthrough.

The Infantry Tank; Slow, heavy tanks, used to support the Infantry during the initial breakthrough.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Heinz Guiderian, inspired, in part, by the earlier British tank experiments (and not by Basil Liddell Hart as Liddell Hart himself later claimed), was developing the tactics that would later become known by the name 'Blitzkrieg', or Lightning War. Blitszkrieg pioneered the close integration of Tanks, Panzer Grenadier Infantry, Artillery and Aircraft (especially the dreaded JU87 Stuka Dive Bomber), in fast, hard hitting strikes. These strikes would thrust deep into enemy territory causing widespread panic and confusion and at the same time, they would bypass pockets of Infantry. Meanwhile, slower moving Infantry Divisions would follow up behind and take out the bypassed Infantry. However, the success of Blitzkrieg came about more by the luck and skill of the German Generals, than by any superiority of theory or design.

WORLD WAR 2 - ARMOURED WARFARE COMES OF AGE

In September 1939 the German Panzer Divisions swept through Poland, overcoming the Polish Army in a matter of weeks. Blitzkrieg was born. Time and time again, throughout those early years of WW2, the German Panzer Divisions would, by the skill of their Generals, and the superior training of their soldiers, sweep all opposition before them. Time and time again Allied armies would collapse, unable to find any kind of answer to these lightning thrusts.


On the 22nd June, 1941, the Germans launched the largest military invasion in history; Operation Barbarossa. Once again Blitzkrieg swept all before it. The Russian Red Army was overwhelmed and came close to being completely annihillated. However the Red Army was able to gradually stiffen its defences the closer the Germans got to Moscow. In fact the Germans were eventually stopped right at the gates of Moscow itself, and the Red Army was able to go on the offensive at last. It was during Barbarossa that the Germans encountered the Red Army's new Medium Tank, the T-34, probably the best Medium Tank of WW2. The T-34 directly led to the Germans hastening their development of the Panzer Mk V Panther Medium Tank, and the Panzer Mk VI Tiger Heavy Tank.

Hitler then switched his attentions to Stalingrad and the Caucasus Region. Once again the German Blitzkrieg swept the Red Army away, but once again, the Red Army gradually stiffened its resistance. This led to the brutal battle for Stalingrad itself. The Red Army was squeezed into an ever shrinking pocket inside the city. However, to the East of the city, General Georgy Zhukov was building up a huge force of tanks (T-34 Mediums and KV-1 Heavies) ready for a counter-attack against the German 6th Army. When this counter-attack was launched, the 6th Army found itself surrounded to the west of Stalingrad. German losses became so great that the commander of 6th Army, General Friedrich von Paulus asked Hitler for permission to surrender. As usual Hitler refused, ordering von Paulus to fight to the last man, and promoting him to Field Marshall (Hitler's thinking behind this promotion was purely cynical, as it was known that no German Field Marshall had ever surrendered). Paulus However disobeyed, knowing that the battle for Stalingrad was lost, and himself and 91,000 men (all that remained of 6th Army) surrendered to the Red Army. Of those 91,000 men, only 6,000 ever returned home to Germany. This was the turning point of the war on the Eastern Front.

In the Meantime, In the Western Desert of North Africa, the British 8th Army faced first the Italian Army, then later Rommel's Deutsch AfrikaKorps, DAK, more commonly known as the Africa Corps. After Rommel first arrived On the 14th February 1941, he quickly made his mark in March of that year by launching an offensive that retook most of Cyrenaica. The rest of the Western Desert campaign saw the Allied and Axis forces involved in a series of seesaw offensives, which included the British offensives Operation Battleaxe and Operation Crusader. These two offensives saw the British committing their Armour to near suicidal frontal attacks (in the tradition of the Cavalry Charges of old) against lines of German Anti-Tank Guns, which included the dreaded FLAK 88s. The main British Tanks during this period were the Infantry Tank Mk 2 Matilda 2, and the A15 Crusader Cruiser Tank. The Matilda 2 was well armoured but slow moving and, until the Germans started to use Their FLAK 88s in the Anti-Tank role, nothing could penetrate its armour. However its 2 Pounder main gun was useless for Infantry Support as it only fired solid shot. The Crusader tank meanwhile was a disastrously unreliable tank. It was constantly breaking down due to mechanical failure. However, when used en-mass it did enjoy some success during Operations Battleaxe and Crusader.

It wasn't until the 2nd Battle of El Alamein that the tide of the Western Desert Campaign turned in favour of the Allies. This was in large part due to the arrival in theatre of the British Lieutenant-General Bernard Law Montgomery, who took over command of the British 8th Army from General Harold Alexander, who in turn replaced General Claude Auchinleck as Commander-In-Chief, Middle East. It was during this part of the Western Desert Campaign that the Allies started to use the new U.S. M4 Medium tank, the famous Sherman. The M4 was equal in capabilities to the German Panzer Mk III and IV, and was a big factor in turning the tide in favour of the Allies.

A lot has been said about how Montgomery was the hero of El-Alamein, but his victory wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the unsung hero that was General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck laid the foundations of Montgomery's victory of 2nd El-Alamein, during his heroic defense at the 1st battle of El-Alamein.

Unfortunately, after 2nd El-Alamein, Montgomery declared that the 75mm gun on the Sherman was the only tank gun the Allies would need, so impressed was he by the Sherman's performance. This statement was taken as gospel by the Army's Chiefs of Staff and the Allies were saddled with an underpowered tank gun at a time when the Germans were developing bigger and more powerful tank guns of their own. This also led, later on, to the Americans deciding to continue to mass produce Shermans, even though the M26 Pershing, with its 90mm gun, was available later on.

After the Allied victory at El Alamein, the Axis forces were pushed all the way back to Tunisia, where they were finally defeated after the Allied Torch Landings. This stage of the war also saw the first use of the new German heavy tank, the Tiger 1, a heavily armoured tank that was armed with the same 88mm gun as the FLAK 37 88mm Anti-Tank gun.

After Stalingrad the Russians continued their Offensive, pushing the Germans back to Kharkov. The Germans meanwhile launched their last major offensive on the Eastern Front. At the city of Kursk, the Russian line formed a salient, bulging into the German lines. The Germans needed to push the Russians back to shorten their lines and hopefully turn the war back round in Germany's favour.

The resulting Battle of Kursk would see the largest ever Tank vs Tank battle at the town of Prokharovka, where some 1393 German and Russian tanks and assault guns faced each other. The Russians suffered greater losses, but they could replace these easier than the Germans could, so although Prokharovka was a tactical defeat for the Russians, it was also a strategic victory, as they managed to halt the Germans and prevent a breakthrough. This was the last chance for Germany to snatch victory on the Eastern Front, from then on they were in retreat, all the way back to Berlin.

Kursk was also the first time the new Panther medium tank was used, however, at this early stage of its operational career, it proved to be extremely unreliable and spent more time in the workshops than it did fighting.

On the 6th June, 1944, the greatest ever Amphibious landings took place. This was Operation Overlord, or D-Day.

The Landings took place on 5 beaches in the Normandy region of France. The Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, whilst the British and Canadians landed on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. In spite of heavy losses on Omaha Beach, by the end of the first day the Allies had landed over 150,000 men and their equipment. Amongst the first units to reach the beaches were 'Hobart's Funnies', specially adapted Tanks that were designed specifically for the Normandy landings.

'Hobart's Funnies' were named after General Sir Percy Hobart, who led 79th Armoured Division on D-Day, and who had helped develop the special vehicles used by the division. Amongst these specially adapted tanks was the Sherman Crab Mine Flail Tank, which had a heavy frame attached to the front of the tank. Between the two halves of the frame was a roller to which heavy chains had been attached all around its circumferance. These chains had balls on the ends, and as the roller rotated, these balls would beat the ground in front of the advancing tank, detonating any mines that were buried in its path.

Another adaptation was the Sherman DD Tank. The Duplex Drive had been invented by Hungarian born Nicholas Straussler. It consisted of 2 propellors at the back driven by the tank's tracks, and a waterproof canvas flotation screen. This screen was raised when in use so that the tank could float and propel itself onto the beach it was headed for. When the DD Tank arrived at the beach, the flotation screen was lowered and the tank would resume its conventional fighting role. Whilst the DD Tanks enjoyed some success on the beaches, many were swamped by the rough seas, and their crews drowned.

There was also an adaptation of the British Churchill MkVII Infantry Tank called the Churchill Crocodile. This had its bow M.G. replaced by a Flame Thrower. The fuel was contained in an armoured trailer towed by the tank, this held enough fuel for 80 one second bursts of flame. Another Churchill adaptation was the Churchill AVRE, or Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers. This was armed with the bunker busting 290mm Petard Spigot Motar and could carry fascines which were used to fill ditches so that other tanks could cross them. After lessons were learnt from the disastrous Dieppe landings, another Churchill adaptation was designed. This was the Churchill ARK, or Armoured Ramp Karrier. This consisted of a Churchill hull fitted with ramps at either end and allowed other tanks to drive across the top of the ARK, to cross either ditches, or climb beach walls.

After the successfull landings, the Allies found themselves in the Bocage country of north western France. The Bocage was perfect defensive country, as it consisted of a patchwork of fields seperated by sunken lanes with almost impeneratable hedgerows either side. The Allied tanks were forced to follow these sunken lanes and came under constant fire from well dug in German Anti-Tank guns. The lanes became dreadfull killing grounds for the Allied Tanks and their crews. It was in this Bocage country that another famous Tank vs Tank encounter took place.

On the Allied left flank, the British needed to secure the town of Caen. In order to do this they first had to capture a place called Villers Bocage. However, it was here that advancing units of the 7th Armoured Division (the 7th Armoured Division had been recalled from Italy on the orders of its former commander, Field Marshall Montgomery), encountered a single Tiger 1 Heavy Tank commanded by Michael Wittman, the famous German Tank Ace. The resulting Battle of Villers Bocage has gone down in history as an example of the supreme tactical knowledge and skill of a single Tank Commander who went on to destroy a whole regiment of Tanks and Tracked Carriers. Wittman himself was later killed when his tank, and 2 others were ambushed by Shermans of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry. The actual kill has since been credited to Joe Ekins, a gunner in a Sherman Firefly, who scored all three Tiger kills during the ambush, before having to bail out of his own tank. He served the rest of the war as the radio operator of another Firefly.

Over on the Allied extreme right flank, whilst the British were drawing German forces onto their side of the frontline, General George S. Patton, commanding the U.S. Third Army, advanced his tank forces more than 60 miles in two weeks, from Avranches to Argentan, before famously running out of fuel! Patton was renowned both for his fast, hard hitting Armoured Thrusts, and his controversial personalilty. He was however, a strong advocate of Armoured Warfare, before, during and after World War 2.

In July 1944, the Canadians and British needed to break out East of Caen. The resulting tank action, known as 'Operation Goodwood' became the biggest tank offensive in British history. 3 Armoured Divisions were involved; the 7th, 11th and Guards Armoured Divisions. The plan was for the 3 divisions to cross the Caen Canal and the River Orne, and advance, or at the very least, to draw the German Armoured reserves towards the British sector, and away from the Americans, who were also planning a break out of their own. The terrain, however, proved to be the undoing of the Operation. With only 4 hastily erected 'Bailey Bridges' over which the tanks could cross the canal and the river, the routes became heavily congested with armoured vehicles. Rain had also turned the battlefield into a swamp. As a result, the Operation was only partially successfull. The British advance did indeed draw the Germans towards the British sector, but a breakthrough wasn't achieved. Only a small advance was gained, with heavy casualties on both sides.

After 'Operation Goodwood', the British were involved in only one other major armoured engagement, and that was 30 Corps' advance in support of 'Operation Market Garden'. A lot has already been said about Montgomery's controvertial airborne landing operation. So I'll just quote from the man himself (I paraphrase here) "Operation Market Garden was 90% successfull"!

Just prior to the Allied Rhine Crossings, the British had introduced a new Heavy Cruiser Tank, the A34 Comet. The Comet was, without a doubt, Britain's best all round tank of WW2. It was armed with a modified version (shortened breech block and barrell) of the famous 17 Pounder OQF Anti-Tank Gun. With this gun it could easily penetrate the frontal armour of the Panther and Tiger 1 from 1000 yards. It could also, theoretically, penetrate the frontal armour of the new Tiger 2, or King Tiger Heavy Tank. However, Comet was introduced too late to have any real impact on the final tank battles of WW2.

Another tank to be developed right at the end of WW2 was the superb Centurion Heavy Cruiser Tank. The Centurion was intially armed with the 17 Pounder, then was later upgunned with a 20 Pounder. In turn, this was bored out to 105mm and became the famous L7 105mm Rifled Gun that became N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and '80s. Although developed at the end of WW2, the Centurion played no part whatsoever during the war. It did however, pave the way for a new generation of Main Battle Tanks, that blended firepower, protection and mobility into one machine. In fact it wasn't until Centurion, that Montgomery's suggestion that the roles of the Cruiser and Infantry tanks should be amalgamated into one type of tank that could fulfill all the roles of armour (except stealthy reconnaissance), was fully realised.

If one could sum up British World War 2 tank development in one sentance, it would be something like this; Too many different models clogging up the production lines, under gunned, under armoured and, with the odd exception, well below the standards of Germany's tank designs.

The last great tank battle of the war was the Battle of Manchuria, which took place from August 9th to August 20th, 1945, in which the Russians attacked the Japanese in the far east, where Russia borders with Manchuria, in a classic Russian 'Deep Battle' operation. 'Deep Battle' was the Russian equivalent of Blitzkrieg; however it was different in its tactics and execution. It involved a massed Armour and Infantry advance on a wide front, preceded by a massive artillery bombardment.

THE COLD WAR – EAST AND WEST FACE OFF IN GERMANY

During the Cold War, N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact faced off against each other across the plains ofGermany. The N.A.T.O. forces were based in West Germany, whilst the Warsaw Pact forces were based inEast Germany. The British Component of the N.A.T.O. forces was the B.A.O.R. or British Army Of the Rhine. The B.A.O.R. was headquartered in the Northern Plains of West Germany and from the 1960’s was equipped with the Chieftain M.B.T. Although the Centurion was the ancestor of all modern M.B.T.s, the Chieftain was the first true M.B.T.

N.A.T.O.’s role in West Germany was to defend against any attack by Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. The tanks that the West developed during this period were generally of a higher quality than the Russian equivalents. The Russians on the other hand relied on sheer numbers of tanks to overcome N.A.T.O. if war ever occurred.

Western tanks developed during the Cold War included; the U.S.’s Patton series (M47, M48, M60 etc), West Germany’s Leopard 1, France’s AMX30, and as already mentioned, Britain’s Chieftain. The Russians meanwhile, developed the T55, T62, T72 and T80 tanks. Whilst the majority of other countries built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Mobility; Britain, traumatised by being outgunned so often during WW2, built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Protection. In fact, Britain designed and built the gun that would become N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and ‘80s; the famous Royal Ordnance L7 105mm Rifled Gun.

Russian T-72 Main Battle Tank

During the Cold War, two conflicts occurred in the Far East and South East Asia; Korea from 1950 to 1953 andVietnam from 1965 to 1975. Both wars were ideological wars; The Communist East against the Capitalist West. Both wars involved the North of each country invading the South. Both wars saw the West intervening in an attempt to prevent Communism from spreading.

However, both wars also saw very limited use of Armour. The Korean War saw the use of still mainly WW2 tanks, e.g. The North Koreans used the Soviet T-34 tank, whilst the Western nations (fighting under the umbrella of the United Nations) used the old M4 Sherman, whilst the British used their new Centurion tank, as well as their WW2 Churchill tank. The hilly terrain made it impossible to use Armour en masse; in fact, the British parked their Centurions on top of hills and used them as static pill boxes, firing down on Communist forces below them!

During the Vietnam War, the Jungle terrain limited the use of Armour; however the Americans were able to use their M48 Medium tanks, and M41 Light tanks in support of the Infantry travelling in M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers.


THE SIX DAY WAR – ISRAEL TAL GOES ON TO TAKE COMMAND

In May 1967 the Egyptians started amassing their troops in the Sinai, whilst the Syrians and Jordanians threatened to join hostilities. Egypt had in its armoured units 1000 tanks, including 60 JS-3s, 450 T-54s and T-55s and about 30 Centurions. The Syrians had 400 tanks and the Jordanians had 200 tanks and tank destroyers. Facing these forces, the Israelis had in their possession 1000 tanks, of which a third were Centurions, a third were M48 Pattons and the rest were a mix of Shermans and AMX13s.

Alarmed by this build up of Arab forces on their southern border, the Israelis launched a pre-emptive aerial strike against Egypt’s air force. This strike virtually wiped out the Egyptian air force on the first day. At the same time the Israeli army (the IDF, or Israeli Defence Force) launched an attack on the Egyptian defensive lines, which ran from the Gaza Strip to Kusseima. The Egyptians had arranged their defences according to Russian doctrine; Fortified Infantry positions with JS3 tanks and heavy artillery support. Mobile forces consisting of T-54 and T-55 tanks were held in the rear, waiting to counter attack any Israeli breakthrough, or to exploit any invasion of Israel should one be launched.

In the meantime, Israel intended to take a defensive stance against Syria and Jordan. On the 5th June 1967, Israel launched a three pronged attack against the Egyptians. On the left, General Arial Sharon attacked Kusseima and Abu Ageila, in the centre, Avraham Yoffe attacked Bir Kahfan, while on the right, Israel Tal advanced along the coast towards El Arish. Each prong of the attack was able to support the others and made good progress.

On the right, Israel Tal attacked through the El Jiradi Pass; with only a relatively small force of tanks and infantry, he managed to defeat the Egyptians who were waiting in ambush in the Pass. He then went on to advance all the way to the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Yoffe and Sharon were able advance towards the GiddiPass and the Mitla Pass respectively. At the same time, Israeli forces defeated Jordanian forces and took Jerusalem on the 7th. With the withdrawal of the surviving Jordanian units, the Israelis were able to advance towards and take the Golan Heights after defeating the Syrians in a combined Infantry and Armour assault.

Israel Tal, who commanded the right hand prong of the Israeli attack, was renowned for his strict discipline and enthusiasm for the tank and its high power gun. He had studied Guderian’s tactics and adopted them for his own units. As commander of the IDF’s Armoured Corps from 1964 onwards, he demanded high gunnery skills and discipline from his tank commanders. His greatest moment was, without a doubt, his attack throught the El Jiradi Pass on the 5th June 1967. However, he dismissed the potency of the Anti Tank Guided Missile in favour of the tank gun and this would lead directly to the initial Israeli set backs at the start of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In spite of this, he became the advisor to the Israeli Minister of Defence and went on to play a leading role in the design and development of Israel’s first indigenously designed tank, the Merkava.

DESERT STORM - PERFECT TANK TERRAIN

On the 2nd of August 1990, Iraq invaded its tiny oil rich neighbour, Kuwait. After Iraq ignored United Nations resolutions and demands for its immediate withdrawal, a coalition of Western and Arab armed forces gathered on the other side of the border in Saudi Arabia. This became known as Operation Desert Shield, for it was believed that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia next, and upset the balance of power in the region. After Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, ignored further demands for Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm was launched on the 17 January 1991, beginning with a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq's armed forces and infrastructure.

The ground offensive was launched on the 23rd of February 1991 and involved the United States Marine Corps, together with the Arab coalition partners, advancing north across the border with Kuwait, heading towards Kuwait City, in a diversionary attack. In the meantime, the main thrust, consisting of the U.S. Army, together with the British contingent, was launched as a ‘left hook’ towards the Iraqi Army to the west ofKuwait, before it could reinforce units inside Kuwait itself.

The Iraqi Army was the 4th largest army in the world at the time, but had a mixed bag of hardware. All of its tanks were of Russian origin, with a mixture of older T-54s and T-55s and some of the more modern T-72s belonging to the much vaunted Republican Guard.

The Coalition, by and large, had more modern equipment, including the superb American M1A1 Abrams tank and the British Challenger 1 MkIII. These two Main Battle Tanks swept the Iraqi tanks before them, the latter standing no chance at all against the better equipped and trained U.S. and British Armies. OperationDesert Storm was reminiscent of the Western Desert campaign of WW2, in that it took place across vast, flat desert terrain which was perfect for fast moving, hard hitting mobile warfare. It also helped that the Iraqi Army, mostly made up of conscripts, was severely demoralised by the Coalition's aerial bombardment.

It was during Operation Granby (the title given to British operations during Desert Storm) that a British Challenger scored the longest ever tank vs tank kill at over 5km with a HESH round. (HESH is short for High Explosive Squash Head). This is a world record that still stands to this day.

Both the U.S. Abrams M.B.T. and the British Challenger M.B.T. are described as being proven battle winners, however, when you look at the tanks they faced, i.e. aging T54s and T55s, I think this is a little unrealistic. Had the Iraqi army been equipped with more modern armour, and its tank crews better trained, then yes, this would be a fair thing to say. Whilst these two M.B.T.s are undoubtedly amongst the best in the world, wait until they have faced more worthy opponents before calling them ‘proven battle winners’!

THE FUTURE…….

So, what does the future hold for Armoured Warfare? Every few years ‘experts’ declare that the M.B.T. has had its day, and yet here they still are! Whilst the world political climate may have completely changed since the Cold War, there are still plenty of potential dissident states that occasionally rattle their sabres, and threaten world peace. Also, while most conflicts of the last few years have been counter-insurgency conflicts, armour, in my opinion, still has its place. There is nothing quite like a 70 ton Main Battle Tank coming at you at full speed to scare the bejesus out of you! The role of the M.B.T; that is, to carry direct firepower across the battlefield, will always exist. Maybe tanks will be smaller and lighter to reflect the modern army's expeditionary nature, but the fact remains, tanks will always have their place in a world of seemingly constant upheaval and conflict.



From a Soviet Point of View - Soviet armored doctrine

From the mid 1950s the Arab nations were equipped by the Soviet Union. In the absence of good data on the Arabs themselves here’s a description of the Soviets. As my main interest is company level infantry actions I will focus on motorised infantry battalions and below. Most details are taken from Isby (1981).

Doctrine
The Regiment is seen as the smallest independent unit, as smaller units lack the necessary headquarters and support elements. None-the-less a Soviet battalion is expected to operate independently 20-30 km away from its regiment for 5-15 hours.

Frontages and distances
Each level of unit has deployment frontages and depths. These distances apply regardless of the formation the unit has adopted, e.g. a defending company must cover 1-1.5km of frontage regardless of whether it is in line, wedge, or “V”.

Distance Platoon (m) Company (m) Battalion (km)
Defence frontage 400-500 1,000-1,500 4-7
Defence depth 150-600 500-1,000 1-3
Operational attack frontage 750 1-2
Attack frontage 1,000 2-3
Depth of attack (immediate objective) N/A N/A 2-4
Depth of attack (subsequent objective) N/A N/A 8-15
The Defence frontage combined with the defence depth define the area the unit is responsible for defending.

The Attack frontage is the distance the unit is responsible for when attacking, although the troops only operate within the Operational attack frontage. That means there will be gaps in the attack.

Depth of attack only applies to battalions and above. It is the distance to the unit’s immediate objective and the subsequent objective.

Battalion formations
Formations above battalions will attack in echelons; battalions have the option of doing so, but can also adopt line, wedge or “V” formation. A battalion can have 1, 2 or even 3 echelons, although 1 and 2 are most common. The same formations are used in defence, although line and “V” are most common.

Although I focus on battalion formations, it is worth mentioning that a company will typically attack and defend in line, but can also adopt wedge or “V” formations especially in defence.

One echelon / Line
The most common Soviet small unit formation is the line; for a battalion this means one echelon and a reserve. A battalion in line has all three companies in line 400-800m apart in attack, and 1,000-1,500 in defence. The headquarters, reserve and support weapons follow the central company; 1,000m behind the front when in defence. The reserve will only be one motorised rifle platoon. When defending in line the battalion may also have a one platoon battle outpost 1,000m in front of their main positions.

A one echelon attack will be chosen if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If the battalion:
    • Must cover a wide frontage.
    • Must deliver a concentrated attack with two companies.
    • Has limited time to reach objectives.
    • Has objectives that are close at hand.
  • If the enemy is
    • Surprised.
    • Outmanoeuvred.
    • Unable to defend a broad front.
Two echelon / “V”
Echelon attacks are mandatory for regiment and above, but optional for battalions. Normally a battalion using an echeloned attack will have two echelons and a reserve. It may also have a separate anti-tank reserve.

The first echelon will contain two reinforced companies advancing in line abreast 400-800m apart.

The battalion will have a platoon in reserve. The reserve is the counter-attack force and has no specific role in an attack. It will normally be with the battalion commander behind the second echelon.

Some battalions will also have a separate mobile anti-tank reserve behind the first echelon. Not surprisingly its role in both attack and defence is to counter armoured threats. In larger units the anti-tank reserve includes tanks, engineers, and field artillery as well as standard anti-tank weapons; this may well be true of battalion reserves as well.

The second echelon will have the remaining troops – typically a weak company as at least one platoon will form the reserve. It follows the first echelon by 300-1,000m, and is spread across the same frontage. The purpose of the second echelon:

  • Take over the offensive if the first echelon can’t continue – allowing the first echelon to rest and resupply.
  • Exploit successes of the first echelon, i.e. if the first echelon takes the battalion’s immediate objective, the second echelon will be committed to the attack on the subsequent objective.
  • Mop up bypassed strong-points.
  • Defeat counter-attacks.
  • Attack in a different sector or direction.
A “V” formation is pretty similar to a two echelon formation. The main differences are, in a “V” formation the lead companies are 600-800m apart, and the rifle company of the second echelon is centred behind the lead companies.

Three echelon
The Soviets will opt for a three echelons when attempting break-through attacks on prepared defences.

Wedge
One company leads the rest of the battalion by 300-1,000m. The support weapons follow the lead company, with the other two companies 400-800m to either side.

Types of Attack
The Soviets recognise three basic forms of offensive action:

  • The meeting engagement where both sides are on the move.
  • The breakthrough attack against enemy defending in place.
  • The pursuit of enemy attempting to move away.
Meeting engagement
The Soviets see the meeting engagement as the most likely form of combat in the modern era.

Although capable of cross-country travel, Soviet units will normally travel by road. A battalion will follow a single track. The average speed in is 30-40 km/h; 2/3 of that at night or in bad weather. Vehicle spacing is 15-50 m on roads and 50-100 m cross-country. The battalion will be lead by an advance guard of about 1/3 of its full strength. The flanks will be defended by squads.

The point of the advance is the a combat reconnaissance patrol. It will be 5-10 km (10-30 min) ahead of the main body of the advance guard, and its main purpose is to locate enemy positions, and routes to outflank or envelop the enemy. It includes:

  • A motorised rifle platoon.
  • 2 tanks.
  • A a squad of engineers.
The main body of advance guard is also a combined arms force and is 5-10 km (20-30 min) ahead of the battalion. It includes:

  • Battalion headquarters.
  • 2 motorised rifle platoons
  • remainder of tanks (usually 2)
  • remainder of engineer squads.
  • 1/2 the battalion 120mm mortars.
  • Attachments from regiment including heavy weapons and additional engineers.
The battalion commander may form a second combat reconnaissance patrol from the advance guard to operate 1 km ahead of the rest of the advance guard. It will have the same composition as the first patrol.

If the advance guard encounters enemy it will attack immediately. The aim is to eliminate opposition that might block the advance of the main body. If the advance guard can break through then the main body will not deploy. If more serious opposition is encountered, the advance guard will attempt to pin the enemy to allow the main body to deploy and/or outflank the enemy. Failing that the advance guard will will fight until reinforced by the main body, where upon both groups will assault together.

If information on the enemy is scarce, the advance guard may launch a probing attack. The aim is to either infiltrate the enemy, or to launch a hasty company assault. One platoon, along with the artillery and mortars will be on over-watch. The remainder of the company will attack on a 400m frontage making maximum use of cover. The tanks will lead the APCs/BMPs by 100m; the latter will advance in pairs. If opposition is too strong the company will retire.

If the advance guard and main body launch an assault this can be either a hasty attack from march or an attack from march. In a hasty attack from march the companies are fed into the attack as they arrive. In this situation fire support is provided by over-watching tanks or artillery that can fire direct and by mortars using indirect fire.

In an attack from march the troops are deployed along the line of departure before assaulting. It takes 25-60 min from the moment of contact for a battalion to prepare an attack. This can be supported by a 10-20 min artillery offensive.

If the combine attack of the advance guard and main body fails, the battalion will call upon the second echelon to resume the offensive. Failing that, the regiment will take over, etc.

The breakthrough attack
The aim of a breakthrough attack is to defeat enemy in prepared defences and penetrate their positions. Often they are launched from contact under cover of darkness. They will usually be supported by 10-40 min artillery offensives, and can involve air strikes, parachute drops and helicopter insertions.

The pursuit
First echelon troops will typing frontally pursue the troops they dislodged, while second echelon troops are committed to parallel pursuit – trying to cut the enemy off.

The combined arms assault
Advance in Company Columns: A Soviet battalion column will deploy into company columns 4-6 km from the enemy. It is at this point that the attack formation is adopted, for example, if a company is to form the second echelon then it will take up the proper spacing at this point.

The companies will advance at 12-15 km/h depending on whether the tanks fire at the short halt (for accurate fire) or on the move (for suppressive fire).

Advance in Platoon Columns: The companies will form platoon columns at 1,500-4,000m from the enemy depending on the intensity of the enemy’s indirect fire. Obstacles and minefields will be cleared by specialised tanks or engineers; troops pass through gaps in platoon column. The motorised rifle platoons within a company will normally form line abreast about 500m apart; echelon, “V” or wedge formations are also possible. The tank platoon assigned to each company will normally lead the motorised rifle platoons by 150-200m; the order is reversed In rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Platoon lines: Against weak opposition the platoons will stay in platoon columns, however, normally the platoons will deploy into line at about 1,500m from the enemy. All platoons – rifle and tank – will form line with BMPs or APCs 50-100 apart, and tanks about 100-150m apart. The riflemen are still mounted at this point.

Artillery offensive: In Soviet thinking the primary purpose of artillery is the suppression of enemy anti-tank weapons before and during the attack. Battalion artillery assets will be 500-1,000m behind the combat line, and regimental assets will be 500-4,000m behind the line, however, both will advance to support the advancing attackers. The artillery offensive is divided into three phases: the preparation, fires in support, and fires through the depths of the defence.

Preparatory fire: If there is time, supporting artillery, and possibly artillery from higher levels, will be used for preparatory fire. Preparatory fire is at a sustained rate but starts and ends with a burst of rapid fire at maximum rate. Preparatory fire lifts when the attacking force leaves the departure line, or when the tanks enter direct fire range of the enemy.

Fires in support: From the point preparatory fire lifts attached artillery (possibily including regimental assets) is used to support the attack. Where possible artillery will use direct fire to shoot through the gaps between advancing companies. Supporting fire will continue to shoot until they endanger their own tanks; for indirect fire this is when the tanks are 100-200m from the enemy, but it is closer for direct fire.

Fires through the depths of the defence: Once supporting artillery fire has lifted from the enemy front line positions the supporting artillery fire through the depth of the enemy positions, in other words, it will target enemy rear positions to support the breakthrough.

Tank assault: Normally the tanks lead the assault. They have to enter the enemy positions as soon after the artillery fire lifts as possible. The Soviets believe the tanks have about 3 min to do this before the enemy mans their weapons. Once in the enemy positions the tanks use suppressive fire to cover the advance of the infantry. The tanks will let the infantry lead the assault when in rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Dismounted infantry assault: Normally the infantry will dismount 300-400m from the enemy. However, the infantry will dismount 500-1,000m from the enemy if the enemy is unsuppressed, well entrenched, strong in anti-tank weapons, or in terrain unsuitable for vehicles. Once dismounted the riflemen form skirmish lines and continue to advance, about 200m behind the tanks. Dismounted squads, platoons, and companies all attack in a single skirmish line. The Soviet infantry will attempt to advance as fast as possible, partly to keep the momentum of the attack, and partly to support the advancing tanks. If the skirmish lines are forced to ground, they will alternate fire and short rushes; entire companies will either move or fire, not combine the two Once at 25-30m from the enemy the Russians will charge. The APCs or BMPs follow 300-400m behind the dismounted infantry using direct fire through the gaps between rifle squads (from the short halt).

Mounted infantry assault: BMP equipped infantry are expected to to stay mounted in combat, and to fight from their vehicle. Similarly if APC equipped infantry are facing suppressed enemy the regimental commander has the option to keep the riflemen mounted throughout the attack.

Objectives: The aim of the assault is to overrun the position and keep going, leaving the second echelon to mop up. The Soviets assume there will be sufficient suppressing fire from the tanks, APCs or BMPs, artillery, and the infantry’s own marching fire to make this relatively bold attack feasible. Of course, they might be wrong.

Order of Battle
I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion in 1979, and what I know about earlier organisations. I’ve also listed the Soviet support equipment used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation for any particular period.

Motorised Rifle Battalion
I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion and its usual supports. I have ignored the numbers of men, and also assumed that all men are equipped with the appropriate small arms. Battalions are either BMP or APC equipped. The organisation described is that of the late 1970s, although I’ve mentioned earlier variations where I know them. Subsequent sections describe the equipment used post WWII, including years the weapons were introduced, so you can make you own conclusions about earlier TO&E. .

1 x Battalion Headquarters (Major, Captain or Lt-Colonel)

1 x Commanders Vehicle = APC or Scout Car or BMP (possibly a command version)

1 x Reconnaissance Vehicle = APC or BMP (or Jeep or Scout car) ***

1 x Truck

1 x Tank Company Headquarters (Snr Lt or Capt) *

1 x Headquarters Tank

1 x Truck

3 x Motorised Rifle Companies (Snr Lt)

1 x Company Headquarters

1 x BMP or APC

2 x light machine guns **

2 x AGS-17 grenade launchers to be fired from tripod or vehicle mounts

1 x Tank Platoon (Jnr Lt, Warrant Officer or Sergeant) *

4 x Tanks

3 Motorised Rifle Platoons (Jnr Lt or Sergeant)

1 x Platoon commander

1 x SA-7 gunner – actually part of the Company HQ but always assigned down to the platoons, and presumably from there to one of the squads.

1 x Sniper in one of the squads

3 x Motorised Rifle Squads (Sergeant)

1 or 2 light machine guns **

1 x RPG-7 ****

1 x BMP or APC ***

1 x Anti-tank platoon – not in the BMP-equipped battalions.

2 x Suitcase Saggers

2 x SPG-9 73mm recoilless anti-tank gun

2-4 x RPG-7s

2 x APCs

1 x Mortar Battery *****

1 x Battery Headquarters

1 x Jeep

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x FO/reconnaissance section

1 x Communications section

3 x Mortar Platoons

2 x Mortar Squads

1 x 120mm Mortar

1 x RPG-7

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x Communications platoon

1 x Command Vehicle

1 x Motorcycle

1 x Truck or Jeep

1 x Airdefence sub-unit

3 x SA-7 sections

1 x Supply section

1 x Medical aid section

1 x Repair workshop

* A tank company from the motorised rifle regiment’s tank battalion was attached to each rifle battalion within the regiment. Similarly one tank platoon from the tank company was assigned to each motorised rifle company. Tank platoons integral to a motorised rifle regiment had 4 tanks; in contrast tank regiments had only 3 tanks per platoon.

** Pre-1979 squads had 1 x RPK light machine gunner. After that BMP-equipped squads had 2 x PKM gunners, and BTR-60PB-mounted squads had 1 x RPK and 1 x PKM gunners. All squad weapons are bipod mounted.

*** The Soviets phased out the older half-platoon APC organinisation in the 1970s, although it was used by Warsaw Pact countries at least into the 1980s so might have been used by the Arabs. Under this organisation all APCs belonged to a central APC platoon, but were attached to companies as needed. Each motorised rifle platoon had only 2 APCs with half the platoon (1.5 squads) in each. The battalion HQ had a jeep or scout car instead of the APC. Units organised in half-platoons were expected to dismount to attack.

**** In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad.

***** Isby (1981) provided contradictory evidence for the composition of the Mortar battery. He says three platoons of two squads of two mortars, but this would give 12 mortars and 12 tows. As the whole battery only has 6 mortars and 6 tows I have assumed each squad has one weapon and tow. The other thing that confuses me is that he gives artillery batteries two platoons of three weapons; I’m not sure why mortar battery has the numbers reversed, in fact in one place he mentions that “two platoons” of the mortar battery.

Soviet APCs and Infantry Combat Vehicles
Here’s a quick summary of the APCs and BMP used by Soviet Motorised Riflemen post WWII. I’ve ignored command versions, and vehicles used by artillery, etc. Unless specified as “Open topped” all vehicles are enclosed. I believe they are all amphibious except the BTR-152 series.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now
BTR-152, BTR-152V1, BTR-152V2, BTR-152V3 Open topped wheeled APC 1950 Basically an armoured truck. Started as half-platoon APC, but by late 1970s only used in certain support roles. Used by the Arabs in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Israeli Border Police used captured vehicles from 1967.
BTR-50P Open topped, tracked APC 1957 Half-platoon APC.
BTR-152K Wheeled APC 1961 Enclosed BTR-152V3; half-platoon APC. Used by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973, but less than the open topped versions.
BTR-50PK Tracked APC Pre-1967 Squad APC that saw service with Egypt in 1967 and 1973 , and with Israel after 1967. Still in use by motorised rifle regiments within Soviet tank divisions in 1979.
OT-62 TOPAS Tracked APC Pre-1967 A Czech version of the BTR-50 that saw service along side the BTR-50PK in the middle east (1967-73) and was still in use by Warsaw Pact armies in 1979.
BTR-60P Wheeled APC 1961 Wheeled half-platoon APC. Either BTR-60P or BTR60-PK saw limited service with Arabs in 1967.
BTR60-PK (BTR-60PA) Wheeled APC 1963
BMP Tracked Infantry Combat Vehicle 1967 Squad Infantry Combat Vehicle. Used by Syrians in 1973.
BTR60-PB Wheeled APC 1966 Squad APC. Standard Arab APC in 1973, and was still standard APC in front line Soviet units in 1979.
MT-LB APC and artillery tractor 1970 Only assigned to cold climates.
BTR70 Wheeled APC 1978 Improved BTR60-PB; squad APC.
Soviet Scout Cars
I’ve listed the Soviet scout cars used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now
BTR-40 1951 Has various versions. Used by Arabs in 1965 (Egypt) and 1967. Many captured by the Israelis and used by their Border Police after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.
BRDM-1 1959 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Many captured and used by the Israelis after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.
BRDM-2 Pre-1967 Main scout car of Soviets in 1979. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.
Soviet Anti-tank weapons
I’ve listed the Soviet anti-tank weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now
BS-3 M-1944 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1944 Used in WWII and by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.
D-44 85mm anti-tank gun 1953 WWII vintage weapon with some upgrades. Could be used in direct fire artillery role. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; possibly still in use in 1979. Used in south Lebanon in 1979 by Israeli supplied Christian militia. In Soviet service the D-44 was replaced by recoilless weapons (presumably B-10 and B-11), ATGM (presumably AT-1 Snapper) and 100mm weapons (presumably M-1944 or M-1955) although two Soviet low readiness regiments still had D-44 in early 1970s.
B-10 Tripod mounted 82mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank platoon of rifle battalion. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; still in use in 1979. Not considered a success due poor performance in 1967.
B-11 Tripod mounted 107mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank company of rifle regiment. Used by Arabs in 1973; still in use in 1979.
SD-44 Mobiile 85mm anti-tank gun 1954 Has probably never been used in action, but was still used in some Soviet airborne units in 1979.
BS-3 M-1955 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1955 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.
AT-1 Snapper Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). Late 1950s Small numbers used by Egypt in 1967.
RPG-7 Man portable rocket propelled grenade launcher 1962 Assigned to squads. Used in by Arabs in 1967 and 1973 and still used extensively today. In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad. In 1973 Egyptian front line units were lavishly equipped with RPG-7s – at the expense of rear units.
T-12 100mm smoothbore anti-tank gun 1965 Assigned to a rifle division’s anti-tank reserve.
SPG-9 Tripod mounted 73mm recoilless rifle 1969 Assigned to anti-tank units of rifle battalion and regiment. Replaced B-10 and B-11 in these roles. Reportedly supplied to Syria but possibly never used.
AT-3 Sagger ATGM Pre-1969 Used extensively by Arabs in 1973.
Soviet Artillery
I’ve listed the Soviet artillery weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

The normal use of artillery was described in the combine arms assault section, however, it is also worth noting that the Soviets will use artillery as direct fire anti-tank weapons, and will use even heavy artillery at close range (200-300m) against enemy positions in urban settings. They have found that direct fire is about 8 times for effective in demolishing buildings that indirect fire.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now
A-19 122mm towed field gun 1931, 1937 WWII vintage gun, it was a corps level long range counter-battery weapon. Used by Arabs throughout Middle Eastern wars. Replaced by M-46 and D-74 in Soviet service, but likely to see continue service elsewhere.
M-30 122mm towed howitzer 1938 WWII vintage gun still in use by Soviets in 1979, although being replaced by D-30. A regimental and divisional asset. Standard Egyptian howitzer in 1967. Subsequently the Israelis fielded their own battalions of captured M-30s.
ML-20 152mm gun-howitzer 1937 WWII vintage long range weapon. Used in the Middle East. Replaced in Soviet service by D-20.
82mm mortar 1937, 1941, 1942 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Used by Soviet airborne and naval battalions. Towed.
120mm mortar 1938, 1943 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Standard Soviet mortar assigned to motorised rifle battalions. Towed.
D-1 152mm towed heavy howitzer 1943 One of the last WWII vintage weapons still in use. Used in considerable numbers by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.
SU-100 100mm Self-propelled guns Early 1940s WWII vintage self-propelled guns used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
240mm mortar 1952 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but has seen combat in Lebanon. May have been used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Towed.
160mm mortar 1943, 1953 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but was used by Arabs since 1967 war including Lebanese Civil War. Towed.
M-46, M1954 130mm towed field gun 1954 A divisional level asset that is excellent for both in counter-battery or direct fire anti-tank roles. Used by Egyptians in an army level counter-battery role in 1973 war. Subsequently the Israelis formed their own M-46 battalions.
D-74 122mm towed gun 1955 Used at divisional level in place of the D-30 when long range is necessary.
D-20 152mm towed gun-howitzer 1955 Standard Soviet heavy howitzer. Used at divisional level in place of the D1 when long range is necessary. Used by Egyptians in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.
S-23 180mm towed heavy gun-howitzer Mid 1950s A divisional and front asset. Used by Egyptians in 1973.
D-30 122mm towed gun-howitzers 1967 The standard Soviet divisional and regimental howitzer in 1979. One of the mainstays of the Arab field-artillery in 1973. Sometimes used in a direct fire anti-tank role. Being replaced by SAU-122 self-propelled howitzers in all Soviet BMP and half the BTR-60 equipped motorised rifle regiments.
76.2mm mountain gun 1938, 1969 Used as regimental artillery for mountain units in place of the 122mm howitzers.
BM-14 140mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1959 Replaced by BM-21.
BM-24 240mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). Pre-1967 Standard Arab MRL in 1967 war. In 1973 the Israelis fielded an upgrade version. Now withdrawn from Soviet front-line service.
BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1964 Standard Arab MRL in 1973 war.
SAU-122 122mm self-propelled howitzer 1974 .
SAU-152 152mm self-propelled howitzer 1973 .
Soviet Tanks
I’ve listed the Soviet tanks used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now
T-34/85 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
IS-3 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in very small numbers during the 1956 war.
T-54 1947 The T-54/55 was standard Arab main battle tank in both 1967 and 1973. Some original T-54s supplied to Syria and used successfully against Jordan in 1970. T-55A was most common of the T-55s. Still used by Soviets in 1979, in category II and III tank units and Naval infantry.
T-54A 1955
T-54B 1957
T-54C
T-55 1961
T-55A 1963
PT-76 1955 Amphibious reconnaissance light tank. Egypt used PT-76s in 1967 without much success. Israel used captured versions after that. Arabs used them again in 1973, including with the Egyptian 130th Mechanised Infantry Brigade.
T-62 1961 Dominated Soviet armoured units during 1970s, and saw action with the Arabs in 1973.
T-62A 1970
T-62M Late 1970s
T-67 1967 T-54/55s captured in 1967 by Israelis, modified and used in 1973.
T-64 1973
T-72 1975
T-80 1980 ??
Soviet Trucks, Tractors, Jeeps and Motorcycles
I’ve listed the Soviet trucks, tractors, jeeps and motorcycles used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period. Tractors are fully tracked vehicles usually intended for towing artillery; they could also haul cargo and some had specialised roles, e.g. ferries. Trucks are also often used for towing artillery.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now
M-72 Motorcycle Early .
GAZ-69A Jeep 1950s First generation of post-WWII tractors. Not too successful, the ZIL-151 in particular (replaced by ZIL-157). ZIL-157 was the standard Soviet truck until replaced by the URAL-375D. ZIL-157 and ZIL-151 were still being used by Soviets in 1979.
GAZ-63A Truck
ZIL-164 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-151 Truck
ZIL-157 Truck and Tractor versions
BAV Amphibious truck
MAV (GAZ-46) Amphibious jeep
AT-P Tractor
AT-S Medium artillery tractor
AT-L Light tractor
AT-T Heavy artillery tractor
UAZ-469 Jeep Early 1960s Second generation of trucks and tractors. GAZ-66 and URAL-375 were particularly successful. ZIL-130, ZIL-131, KrAZ-255B, and MAZ-543 were less successful. URAL-375D series was the standard Soviet truck in 1979.
GAZ-66 Light truck
URAL-375 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-130 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-131 Truck and Tractor versions
KrAZ-255B Truck
ZIL-135 Truck
MAZ-543 Truck
ATS-59 Medium artillery tractor
K-61 Amphibious tractor ferry
PTS-M Amphibious tractor ferry
MAZ-500 Tank transporter Late 1960s
MAZ-535 Tank transporter
MAZ-537 Truck used as heavy artillery tow
GT-T Amphibious tractor 1970s ??
GT-SM Amphibious tractor
KrAZ-214 Truck ?? Used by Egyptians as a gun tow.
GT-S Amphibious tractor ??
Other comments on Soviet versus Arab tactical doctrine
Andrew Tippman on AIW-Wargaming forum
In case you’re interested, the accepted wisdom of the mid 1980s (when I was an instructor) was that, although the Middle Eastern conflicts may produce evidence of equipment capabilities, the armies involved were too divorced from the European standard to offer many lessons in the NATO vs WP theatre at a low level. Israeli armies were regarded as too highly motivated to represent NATO troops, Arab armies as lacking the discipline required to make sense of Soviet tactical doctrine. I must admit I was never entirely convinced of the latter part of that argument. I believed that we, in NATO, tended to stereotype WP soldiery as suicidal automatons and Arabs as cowardly incompetents – broad generalisations with little evidence in their support.

Soviet tactics relied heavily on speed, firepower and discipline and heavy losses were expected and taken into account. They only make sense if you consider that a Soviet commander would deploy the highest possible concentration of fighting power in the smallest area during the smallest time to achieve overwhelming superiority and that “conservation of effort” is a NATO principle of war, not a Soviet one.

Was Arab doctrine the same during the AIWs? Opinions, please!

Mures Arad in personal communication on “Soviet Doctrine Arab Armies”
No Arab army has ever utilized Soviet Tactical Military Doctrine. The reason being that Soviet “Military Advisors” never taught doctrine or tactics. When one hears the phrase “Military Advisor,” one generally thinks of US Special Forces or British SAS. Soviet “Military Advisors” were not Spetnatz, in fact, many were non-military. The Soviets were Technical Advisors, many being civilians employed by the contractor who built the weapons system, much in the same way that Martin-Marietta provided civilian advisors to the US Army for the Lance and Pershing I, IA and II missile systems. Soviet Technical Advisors provided advice on training and maintenance to the host nation, not tactics.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war was the genesis for the creation of the US Army’s AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. It had always been assumed that the Arabs used Soviet tactics and the Israelis used Western tactics. A captain at one of the war colleges wrote a paper identifying the Arab armies as using classic Western Style warfare and the Israelis using a modified version of standard Wehrmacht tactics. A review of all Arab-Israeli conflicts confirmed this and led to the question: What exactly is Soviet Tactical Doctrine?

The US began collecting books written in the Soviet Union about WWII and interviewing surviving German officers in the east and west and Warsaw Pact military defectors. To their horror, the US realized that it had completely misunderstood Soviet tactical warfare and began reviewing and rewriting their own doctrine, leading to the AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. The Israelis were discovered to be using a combination of Wehrmacht and Soviet doctrine.




The Future of Armored Warfare


We miss our animals. Since history closed the mounted arm's stables, soldiers have compensated by naming their units after dragons, lions, panthers and their great lost love, the horse. Tankers, especially, like to associate themselves with the sleek and ferocious. Unfortunately, the armored vehicles of the next century are apt to resemble hedgehogs, snakes, and caterpillars. Perhaps, someday, a hard-bitten NCO will slam down his beer mug, stand up and declare, "I'm from the Woolly-Bears, mister, and we don't like that kind of talk . . . ."

Armored vehicles will be around for a long time to come. But their shapes, sizes, weights, armor, armaments, propulsion, connectivity, battlefield awareness, and crewing will change profoundly. The continuity will be in the mission: to deliver local killing power and allow protected maneuver. The evolution of armored vehicles will be driven by technology and strategic requirements, but, above all, by the changing environment of combat: the increasing urbanization of warfare, and the growing transparency of traditional non-urban operations--in which we will be able to monitor the activities of enemy forces in real time. Far from being the twilight of the tank, the new era could become a great age of armor, but only if proponents and practitioners of mounted combat are willing to engage the future in a spirit of honest inquiry.

The hints that Armor needs to reform itself grow ever harder to ignore. First, in the Gulf War, it took an Infantryman to recognize that the ground battle had opened in the pursuit phase. Too many armored commanders sought to fight textbook battles--and the textbooks were outdated editions that elevated secure flanks above knock-out blows. Then came the Russian experience in Grozny. Our reaction was to mock Russian incompetence and repeat the old saw that you don't send armor into cities. We failed to recognize the future, just as Europeans, content to assume American military incompetence, failed to appreciate the killing power of rifled weapons demonstrated in our Civil War. Half a century later, the Europeans reprised Cold Harbor on a vast scale on the Somme. Will we re-enact the Battle of Grozny?

Yes, the Russians were militarily incompetent in Chechnya. On the other hand, they had no choice but to use armored vehicles in city streets--like all advanced armies, they lacked the infantry strength to reduce the city building by building. Between these two examples, our soldiers found themselves in deadly combat in Mogadishu under conditions that begged for armor. Apart from the political considerations that denied our troops the tools they needed to overwhelm their opponents, the military itself was guilty of relying on traditional approaches to urban operations that are no longer feasible when domestic elites panic in the face of casualties (friendly or enemy).

The lessons of these examples are many, but the core challenges come down to a few points. Mounted warfare in non-urban environments goes very fast, and will go faster. Traditional control measures are inadequate. Battlefields quickly become cellular and multi-directional, and therein lies more opportunity than danger for the force with informational superiority and a leadership unafraid of the initiative of subordinates. While rigorous training and equipment quality are essential, the key variable is situational awareness--both the practical kind that means seeing the enemy tank before it sees you, and the deeper sort of command visualization that allows a leader to understand not only the physical reality of the enemy situation, but, more important, the situation as the enemy perceives it.

In the future, formations will operate far more swiftly and in smaller increments than in even the most successful divisional attacks during Desert Storm, but this is the reborn paradigm: Go fast, hit the enemy's weaknesses, keep on hitting him, and don't stop moving. This is very old military wisdom. Somehow, somewhere between the National Training Center and Carlisle, many of us forgot it. Too often, we elevate safety of decision over decisiveness. We may admire Jackson, but we imitate McClellan.

The lessons of Chechnya are even more relevant than those of our incomplete victory on the banks of the Euphrates. In the lethal urban canyons of Grozny--rather a small city, by world standards--the Russian military urgently needed means of protected fire and movement. They were forced to use what they had, and what they had was wrong. Equipment designed for war in the European countryside, flawed tactics, and grossly inadequate training and command and control led to disaster. The Russian experience does not prove that armor was the wrong answer, only that the Russians had the wrong kind of armor--and used that badly.

The key to the future of armored warfare lies in disregarding what we expect a tank to be in order to focus on what we need the tank of the future to do.

Tomorrow's Armored Force

On those disappearing battlefields that do not center on urban environments and complex terrain, tanks will remain recognizable for at least a generation. We will see changes in lethality, protection, propulsion and weight, but the greatest advance will be in battlefield awareness. On-board, remote, and even strategic sensors will give our tankers a commanding view of the battlefield, and there will be a window of frustration as their vision outstrips their engagement range. Eventually, tanks will gain a much deeper, indirect-fire capability, and sensing munitions will make an increasing proportion of land engagements resemble over-the-horizon naval warfare. These extra-urban tanks will become lighter, and will go faster. Miniaturization of components, from engines through communications gear to ammunition, will pace advances in armor to make systems more rapidly deployable. Eventually, the tank's primary "armor" may be electromagnetic or may otherwise take advantage of physical principles we are only beginning to exploit. We can imagine developments from "battles of conviction," in which opposing combat systems struggle to "convince" each other's electronics to enter vulnerable configurations, to weapons that literally stop opponents in their tracks by manipulating the local environment. Many experiments will fail, but some--possibly the most radical--will succeed.

Despite protection advances, crews will remain the most vulnerable link in the armored warfare system. This will be compounded by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Eventually we will see a variant of remote-control tanks operated by displaced crews that remain well apart from the advance--perhaps as much as a continent away. Rather than merely requiring a private with a toggle switch, the complexity of decisionmaking will probably call for at least a two-man "crew" (per shift) even for robotic tanks. Virtual reality control environments will keep things lively. It is also possible that future tanks will be dual capability--normally directly crewed, but capable of remote operation under extreme threat conditions.

To complement the tanks, we will develop hyper-protective troop carriers to facilitate those dismounted activities indispensable to land warfare. But even here robotics will play a role so that we can operate under conditions created by weapons of mass destruction without soldiers present (although a human battlefield presence will always remain desirable--and usually essential). We may have to rethink mounted operations in the outyears: remotely-crewed vehicles can maneuver through intervening, high-threat terrain while soldiers are air-delivered to link-up points in or near populated areas or complex terrain we cannot ignore. Tangentially, we are likely to develop vehicles with a come-when-I-call robotic capability, as well as specially-intelligent tanks and troop carriers and, further along, "self-healing" vehicles that can repair and even remold themselves in response to battle damage.

"Flying tanks" have long been objects of speculation, but it is likely that fuel-logic and the psycho-physical dynamics of battle will demand grounded systems for many years to come. While attack helicopters already incorporate many of the characteristics previously imagined for flying tanks, we have found them a complement to, not yet a substitute for, armored vehicles. If we do work toward flying tanks--in the interests of systems economy--the more successful approach would probably be to ask how helicopters could change so that they can move, shoot, and survive on the ground. Aircraft are conceptually more mutable than ground systems, and, if the flying tank proponents are right, this might become the back-door means to change the parameters of armored warfare. A very real danger, however, is asking any system to do too many things, resulting in a system that does nothing especially well. Striking a proper balance between specificity of purpose and flexibility of application is a fundamental systems-design problem.

The relationship between direct and indirect fire means will also change. As noted above, tanks will acquire a longer-range precision capability. At the same time, aircraft and then orbital platforms will deliver an ever greater proportion of the firepower we apply to combat in open areas. Great advances are on the horizon for fire coordination, and we are likely to see simultaneous joint attacks on complex targets by tanks, satellites, and hunter-killer computers. As with the Armor branch, Field Artillery needs to break from means- centered models and focus on the required ends. The alternative is to decline into the role of niche player--too heavy to deploy rapidly, too clumsy for urban operations, and a non-player in the information battle. While the goal of warfare will always be to destroy the enemy, the first step today is to inflict systems paralysis on conventional opponents, from air defense systems to command and control--and, increasingly, to national information infrastructures. What will tomorrow's "artillery" look like?

The long-term trend in open-area combat is toward overhead dominance by US forces. Battlefield awareness may prove so complete, and precision weapons so widely-available and effective, that enemy ground-based combat systems will not be able to survive on the deserts, plains, and fields that have seen so many of history's great battles. Our enemies will be forced into cities and other complex terrain, such as industrial developments and inter-city sprawl, where our technical reconnaissance means cannot penetrate or adequately differentiate and our premier killing systems cannot operate as designed. We will become victims of our success. We are becoming so powerful at traditional modes of warfare that we will drive our enemies into environments where our efficiency plummets, our effectiveness drops, and close combat remains the order of the day. We will fight in cities, and we need tanks that can fight and survive in their streets.

The Changing Nature of Cities

Urban operations--the tanker's nightmare--will be the growth area for armored warfare. The world is becoming a network of cities with marginalized hinterlands. Increasingly, cities transcend statehood. In this contradictory world, where nationalism has returned in plague force, nation-states are softening. Cities as diverse as Vancouver, Frankfurt, Moscow, Miami, and Shanghai are growing apart from their parent states, for reasons that range from ethnic shifts in the population base to wealth concentration. Vancouver doesn't need the rest of Canada. Moscow doesn't much want the rest of Russia, except as an ornament of power and a looting ground. Shanghai may not be able to "afford" China indefinitely. Miami has become the shadow capital of Latin America--a focal point of information, culture, investment, banking, society, and exile. Frankfurt am Main is well on the way to becoming a "German" city with an ethnic German minority. An ancient paradigm is reversing: while cities long sucked strength from the diverse resources of the state, the state is increasingly becoming a parasite on the world's more-successful cities. This shift does not apply to cities such as Washington, D.C., or Marseilles, which would collapse entirely without state support, but it is very much the case in boom towns such as Hyderabad, Ho Chi Minh City, and Seattle. In the post-modern American model of dispersed cities, Silicon Valley has to foot the bill for failed governmental models in yesterday's cities--and every useful federal function performed in Washington, D.C. could be transferred profitably to Northern Virginia, were it not for habit and sentimentality. Suburbia is becoming "posturbia," and even in Ireland and Britain, the industries of the future are moving toward capable populations, instead of expecting the hands and minds to relocate to cities where the quality of life is abysmal. In this tiered construct, boom cities pay for failed states, post-modern dispersed cities pay for failed cities, and failed cities turn into killing grounds and reservoirs for humanity's surplus and discards (guess where we will fight).

Human clustering has left behind the village (the primary node of human organization until the middle of the 20th century and humanity's moral arbiter) and is concentrating in these three models: boom cities(Munich, Bangkok, Seoul); reservoir cities, where humanity is held in suspension (Lagos, Johannesburg, Lima, Karachi, Calcutta, Los Angeles proper, Paris); and dispersed cities (the Washington area without the city of Washington, Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles region without the city of Los Angeles). Of note, the dispersion of America's success functions, with the transition of suburbia to a wonderfully livable workplace, is as misunderstood as American culture--decried by elitists, it creates the highest, healthiest, and most desired standard of living in history--just as American culture is the world's all-time bestseller, despite condescending reviews. We're winning again.

We live in the most dynamic age in human history. The city--capstone of human organization--is growing, changing, producing fantastic wealth, and rotting. While numerous factors are involved, the primary catalyst of change is the information revolution. In this Age of Contradiction, the value of information has inflated, while the cost of information has plummeted. Information always generated power; today, it generates wealth at a breathless pace--and cities (including America's "dispersed cities") are humanity's information banks. If we possessed the data to calculate an "information deposit coefficient" for the populations of cities such as the greater Boston area (winner) and Bombay (loser), we would probably be astonished at the per capita informational advantage in Boston. Compounding the problem, the information that is available in the world's loser cities is not only scarce, but generally inaccurate, episodic, and deformed by local prejudice.

While many cities and post-cities are growing richer, more powerful, and more efficient, others--especially in societies with information disorders--are becoming poorer (on a per capita basis), weaker in their ability to self-regulate, and unable to deliver the most basic services that allow human beings to coexist in great densities. Many of these reservoir cities are anarchies attenuated by apathy, and the apathy of the masses can transform itself very quickly into violence. We are entering a period when we will increasingly judge the success of cities and their environs before we concern ourselves with their moldering states. This will not be a global model--countries such as the United States (for all our urban problems) manage to maintain a symbiotic dynamism between city and countryside, bridged by "third way" development: those dispersed cities coalescing from culturally chaste suburbs, satellite enclaves of production, and the workload diffusion characteristic of information mastery. Foreign actors will have to contend with the USA, not just L.A., for the rest of our lifetimes.

But who cares about Upper Egypt if Cairo is calm? We do not deal with Indonesia--we deal with Jakarta. In our recent evacuation of foreigners from Sierra Leone, Freetown was all that mattered. For decades, we dealt not with the government of Zaire, but with the emperor of Kinshasa--and in the recent civil war in that vast African state (now renamed as yet another Congo), military progress was measured not in jungle traversed, but in cities conquered. India is well on the way to becoming a confederation of city-states disguised as a political unity. Hong Kong will be a fascinating laboratory for the relative power of the city versus the state.

There is no global village. The village is dying as a model, and it is dead as a source of power. Instead, a global network of cities and post-cities is emerging, of both the healthy and the faltering, whose elites interact across borders more efficiently and effectively than they interact with the populations of their own hinterlands. Our elites will be inclined to defend foreign elites, even at the expense of our own population (this is already the paradigm of US- Mexican relations and US-Saudi relations). Our future military expeditions will increasingly defend our foreign investments, rather than defending against foreign invasions. And we will fight to subdue anarchy and the violent "isms" because disorder is bad for business. All of this activity will focus on cities.

In the future, the term "urban warfare" will be a redundancy.

New Armor for Urban Warfare

Where does armor fit in? Today's armor, designed for a war that--blessedly--never was, is ill-designed for urban combat. Yet, until better designs reach our soldiers, we will need to make do with what we have. Ideally, that would lead to reassessments of our tactics and reorganization of our units. We have begun to accept the inevitability of urban operations, but the truth is that we are likely to resist significant preparations until a sizable number of our service members have been killed and our nation embarrassed. That is the price we pay for any military paradigm shift following a period of successful organizational performance: the world may have changed, but we won't "mess with success." At a time when the pace of technological and social change is without precedent in human history, our military is clinging to the past. We are behaving like a blue-collar union in a smokestack industry.

We can affect the out-years, though. If you catch decisionmakers on a good day, they can be persuaded to sign up for changes that will not begin to remold the force on their watch. We have a free conceptual environment for anything beyond a decade, and we need to take advantage of it by asking ourselves practical questions about the future employment of armor in urban environments: What do we need that armor to do? How would we like it to do it? What are the extremes of the possible?

Regarding firepower, armor for urban environments will need two types of guns--or one gun that can do a variety of jobs. We will need a crude blasting capability, and we will need maneuverable munitions that can follow an assigned target beyond the limits of pure ballistic trajectories. We need old-fashioned flechette-type munitions--or an innovative substitute--and we need rounds that can penetrate multiple layers of steel and concrete before exploding or otherwise "blooming" a follow-on destructive capability. "Boomerang" weapons that respond instantly to attack and track the assailant until he or it is eliminated would be an especially powerful deterrent. We will need a counter-electronics capability and crowd control "weaponry." It is important not to limit conceptualizing to traditional guns; an ammunition-free technique that achieves the desired effect could become part of our weapons suite. Any means we could develop to isolate portions of the urban battlefield would offer a tremendous advantage. Again, it is essential to focus on the task, not the known means for performing that task.

But the primary job of armored vehicles in urban areas will be to protect maneuver, movement, and resupply. Because urban environments promise endless ambushes, we need new forms of armored protection--not just layers of steel, or laminate, or ceramics, or even reactive armor as it presently exists. Tomorrow's layers of armor will begin with spoofing techniques that complicate target detection on the part of enemy systems, before proceeding to environmental or atmospheric modification capabilities that defeat mines, distort the enemy's perceptions, and disrupt the trajectory and integrity of enemy munitions. Instead of today's rigid hulls and turrets, tomorrow's armor may be malleable, capable of reshaping itself in response to changing threat environments. Self-repair, and, in the following generation, self-healing of battle damage, are logical goals. Finally, "living" armor, with its principles based on biological models, may allow new levels of interaction among man, machine, and environment.

Armored vehicles for urban warfare must also be nimble. While long-range sustained speeds are not a requirement, a sprint capability is essential. The vehicles must be highly maneuverable--at least in some variants. Deployment requirements and the varieties of urban operations suggest a modular approach, either to total armored fighting systems, or at least to troop carriers. The ability to "task organize" vehicle size, power units, armaments, electronic warfare (EW) suites, and battlefield awareness capability is worth pursuing. Vehicles that could operate as compact individual entities or join together to form moving fortresses or to "circle the wagons" offer new flexibility. Armored "mother ships" could "feed" or harbor smaller vehicles and robotic devices. Robotic scouts might climb through rubble, navigate corridors, or explore sewers, followed by team carriers with human decisionmakers and actors. These would be backed up by caterpillar mini-fortresses that hustle through streets and possess not only offensive and defensive environmental controls, but segmentation and self-repair capabilities. The visual signature of our armored systems, to the extent we do not obscure them, should be composed to psychologically disarm the enemy, exploiting research on instinctive reactions to shapes, colors, sounds, and smells. Our systems should be sensually terrifying to opponents and intimidating to populations.

Urban warfare is three-dimensional. Armored vehicles, using drones or ground robotics or hyper-sensors, must not only be able to see into multi-story structures and down into sewers, subways, and service tunnels, but must be able to introduce soldiers--in a protected manner--to upper-story or subterranean zones of operation. Ideally, armored vehicles would be able to caterpillar above or snake below ground level, gripping the lower portions of structures, or entering subterranean passageways. This might be done with deployed subcomponents, such as team-capsule vehicles, or with extensions from master vehicles. The ability to cross exposed "ground" will be essential. A well-designed vehicle or extension might seal against a second story window, "sanitize" the immediate interior, and release soldiers from an armored gate. To some extent, the soldier himself might become an armored entity.

Secured areas might be outposted by robotics and picketed by soldiers cued by local fusion centers that combine intelligence from sources as diverse as miniature roaming sensors and national-level systems. Population control might be established by electronically registering every inhabitant with whom the force comes in contact and alerting in response to any human concentrations that do not fit habitation profiles. Eventually, body signature sensors should identity fear, hostility, or positive demeanors on the part of the locals. Any means that can be developed to separate the hostile actor from the "sea of the people" is highly desirable, since, in urban operations, the enemy's ultimate camouflage is his humanity.

A model urban operation of the future might begin with a massive information operations effort that attacks not only systems but souls. Air and space forces would then isolate the city electronically and through fires, attack pre-selected targets with precision munitions, suppress air defenses, and impose barriers between urban sub-sectors. Army robotics parachute in to secure airfields and landing zones, followed by air-delivered troops with light armored vehicles to extend the perimeter. The next wave includes heavier ground systems and more personnel delivered by air and, in littoral cities, by Navy-Marine operations. Robotic systems push deeper into the urban area, followed by armored reconnaissance "moving fortresses," or combinations of separate vehicles, delivering firepower and dismountable forces to hostile zones. Behind the fighters, military police and intelligence personnel process the inhabitants, electronically reading their attitudes toward the intervention and cataloging them into a database immediately recoverable by every fire team in the city (even individual weapons might be able to read personal signatures, firing immediately upon cueing).

Wherever the enemy resists, joint operations isolate and reduce the threat zone. Smart munitions track enemy systems and profiled individuals. EW actions veil the movement of armored vehicles, remotely exploding mines as the vehicles move forward. Tanks and tank segments deliver direct and smart fires in a final barrage as troop carriers advance. The unit commander designates points of entry, and images of exteriors and interior layouts appear in the carriers for orientation. Carriers leech against buildings and subterranean passage entry points, collapsing the atmosphere at the points of entry to kill or disable any present enemies, before discharging troops. In extremely vertical environments, robotics and troops are air-delivered by systems that can spoof enemy sensors and vision into registering multiple images or completely false images. As soldiers clear the buildings--preceded by their individual sensors--they push their individual weapon's selector switch to "Inhabited," and, upon entering a room, the weapon does not discharge if pointed at a noncombatant without violent intent. Most friendly casualties are lost to enemy suicide attacks or come as the result of physical injuries received during fire and movement within buildings, such as broken limbs. When particularly stiff pockets of resistance develop, smart armor moves in to destroy them or soldiers cue stand-off precision weapons.

Other armored units move swiftly through the city to establish a mobile presence and seize control of line-of-communication nodes and routes of ingress to and egress from the city. In vast conurbations, lightweight, electronically armored systems are airlifted by rotary wing (or post-rotary wing) assets. Satellites monitor the city for any air defense fires, cueing immediate responses from near-space orbiting "guns." Drones track processed inhabitants who have been "read" as potentially hostile and "tagged." Any suspect concentrations draw immediate intervention. Non-lethal weapons control crowds and manage POWs. Operations continue 24 hours a day until the city is cleared of hostiles. When the environment is deemed acceptably safe, United Nations peacekeepers arrive to conduct the long-term operations necessary to restore or create an acceptable government and civil functions. US intelligence and electronic support continues, but US troops return to the United States or to forward bases to prepare for subsequent expeditionary actions.

Many of the hypotheses contained in this essay will never be realized--not because they are too far-fetched, but because they will prove inadequately imaginative. We will develop far more appropriate, incisive, and interesting solutions than those offered here. Yet, even if every avenue of development here proposed is wrongheaded, the urban operations challenge is real, immediate, and growing. We willfight in cities. Even when we are not fighting, we will operate in urban areas and in complex terrain on a variety of missions.

What guidelines will help us to accomplish those missions successfully? In future urban operations, whether in 1997 or 2027, the US military should strive to follow tenets such as these:


  • 1. Extract a clear mission statement from decisionmakers.

    2. Tell the American people there will be friendly casualties.

    3. Establish unity of command and purpose.

    4. Impose rules of engagement that favor US forces, not the enemy.

    5. Deploy more combat power than you think you need, then increase it.

    6. Operate offensively, never passively or defensively, and operate continuously.

    7. Never allow local inhabitants to congregate in mass.

    8. Do the job fast. If the job can't be done fast, get somebody else to do it.

    9. Hand off the pacified city to non-US peacekeepers as soon as possible.

    10. From first to last, fight and win the information war--on all fronts.
The physical contours of warfare have changed dramatically in our time, and they will continue to evolve. Thinking about the problem is a first step. The next step is to begin to prepare our remarkable military for reality.
Awesome read ! I love your these kind of posts. Do such more.
 

SvenSvensonov

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@SvenSvensonov you really want us to read all that ? :o:

can i have a small conclusion :kiss3:
Yes I expect you to read all of it:pissed:. How else will you learn?

Ok, here's a summary

...

tanks are cool and blow stuff up. They used to be small, slow and poorly utilized. Now they are fast, accurate, and used to support infantry assaults.

They still blow things up:partay:.

Here's a summary without words.

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Copperhead_and_tank_(explosion).JPEG


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rockstar08

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Yes I expect you to read all of it:pissed:. How else will you learn?

Ok, here's a summary

...

tanks are cool and blow stuff up. They used to be small, slow and poorly utilized. Now they are fast, accurate, and used to support infantry assaults.

They still blow things up.
Yes Teacher you are right , :yes4:

and they blow things up , that is cool :triniti:

i will surely read it , but give like ..... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa like .................. 100 years i guess :kiss3:
 

BDforever

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@me_itsme - hope this helps!

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ARMOURED WARFARE

It's been over 90 years since the tank was first used on the 15th September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Since those first tentative steps, the design and development of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles has continued unabated, and has culminated in such advanced designs as the U.S. M1A2 Abrams, the German Leopard 2A6, the British Challenger 2, the French Leclerc and the Israeli Merkava Mk4. Even now these same AFVs are undergoing continued development work to upgrade them, and to keep them competitive on the modern battlefield.

One can't help but wonder what the likes of Swinton, Elles, Fuller and Broad, the original architects of Armoured Warfare, would think if they were still alive to see these macines, so different to the ones that were in use during their lifetimes.

THE GREAT WAR - THE FIRST TENTATIVE STEPS

In February 1915, the Landships Committee was established to design and develope a machine that could break the deadlock of trench warfare, it was headed by the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. The Landships Committee came about after Colonel Maurice Hankey took Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton's proposals for an armoured trench crossing vehicle to Churchill, who then became a strong advocate of this new type of vehicle. The result was 'Little Willy'. However, it didn't have the wide trench crossing capability that was required, so a new version was designed. This went on to become the Mark 1 Tank, or 'Mother' as it was known. The Mark 1 was built in two variants, the Male that was armed with two 6 Pounder guns, and the Female that was armed with 4 machine guns.

It was the Mark 1 Tank that saw the very first use of Tanks in combat, during the Battle of the Somme. However, it only saw limited success as it was used in 'penny packets' and not en-masse. It wasn't until the Battle of Cambrai, that the British first used tanks en masse in a Combined Arms Assault, coordinating the Infantry, Artillary, Tanks and Aircraft. By this time the new Mark IV Tank had been developed. This had a number of upgrades in an attempt to overcome the Mark 1's deficiencies. It had external fuel tanks between the rear track horns, the rear wheels were removed (these had been intended to aid in steering the tank, but were in fact useless) and the side sponsons that the guns were mounted in, were made retractable so that the tank was more suitable for rail transport. It still, however, took three men to steer, a problem that wasn't resolved until the Mark V Tank, which only required one man to drive and steer.

The first ever Tank vs Tank battle took place on the 12th April 1918, at the village of Villers Bretonneux. During the German Spring Offensives, 3 groups of Infantry, accompanied by A7V Tanks attacked the British lines between Cachy and Villers Bretonneux. It was the attack by the 3rd group that encountered British MkIV tanks and Medium Whippet tanks. The outcome of this first Tank vs Tank was inconclusive, the German A7vs managed to hit a number of MkIV Females and Whippets, whilst the British managed to hit some of the A7Vs.

The first Armoured Personnel Carrier was a lengthened Mk V Male Tank, that could carry an Infantry Machine Gun Section, however, it proved to be a failure, as the Infantry inside were rendered useless by the Tank's fumes!

THE EXPERIMENTS OF THE INTER-WAR YEARS

After the Great War, the Army's Cavalry Traditionalists increasingly tried to get the Tank units disbanded, claiming that they were't necessary during peacetime, and that the British Empire's land frontiers could be affectively policed by Armoured Cars and the newly formed R.A.F. This was in part prevented by the Tank units being given the Royal Seal of Approval and being formed into The Royal Armoured Corps.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the British started to experiment with their newly formed Royal Armoured Corps, developing the tactics that they would use with the new formation. They ran a series of experimental exercises on Salisbury Plain in the south of England. These early experiments consisted of Armoured Divisions, using the then standard British tank, the Vickers Medium, along with Carden Lloyd carriers used as scouts, manoeuvring against traditional Cavalry and Infantry Divisions. On each occasion, inspite of attempted interference by biased umpires, the Armoured Divisions 'won'.

During the later part of the 1930's, for whatever reasons (and I don't have the space to go into them), the British decided that they needed three types of Tank to fulfill the different roles of Armour. These three types of Tank were;

The Light Tank; Small, fast, lightly armed and armoured and used for Reconnaisance duties.

The Cruiser Tank; Fast, medium weight tanks, used to exploit the initial breakthrough.

The Infantry Tank; Slow, heavy tanks, used to support the Infantry during the initial breakthrough.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Heinz Guiderian, inspired, in part, by the earlier British tank experiments (and not by Basil Liddell Hart as Liddell Hart himself later claimed), was developing the tactics that would later become known by the name 'Blitzkrieg', or Lightning War. Blitszkrieg pioneered the close integration of Tanks, Panzer Grenadier Infantry, Artillery and Aircraft (especially the dreaded JU87 Stuka Dive Bomber), in fast, hard hitting strikes. These strikes would thrust deep into enemy territory causing widespread panic and confusion and at the same time, they would bypass pockets of Infantry. Meanwhile, slower moving Infantry Divisions would follow up behind and take out the bypassed Infantry. However, the success of Blitzkrieg came about more by the luck and skill of the German Generals, than by any superiority of theory or design.

WORLD WAR 2 - ARMOURED WARFARE COMES OF AGE

In September 1939 the German Panzer Divisions swept through Poland, overcoming the Polish Army in a matter of weeks. Blitzkrieg was born. Time and time again, throughout those early years of WW2, the German Panzer Divisions would, by the skill of their Generals, and the superior training of their soldiers, sweep all opposition before them. Time and time again Allied armies would collapse, unable to find any kind of answer to these lightning thrusts.


On the 22nd June, 1941, the Germans launched the largest military invasion in history; Operation Barbarossa. Once again Blitzkrieg swept all before it. The Russian Red Army was overwhelmed and came close to being completely annihillated. However the Red Army was able to gradually stiffen its defences the closer the Germans got to Moscow. In fact the Germans were eventually stopped right at the gates of Moscow itself, and the Red Army was able to go on the offensive at last. It was during Barbarossa that the Germans encountered the Red Army's new Medium Tank, the T-34, probably the best Medium Tank of WW2. The T-34 directly led to the Germans hastening their development of the Panzer Mk V Panther Medium Tank, and the Panzer Mk VI Tiger Heavy Tank.

Hitler then switched his attentions to Stalingrad and the Caucasus Region. Once again the German Blitzkrieg swept the Red Army away, but once again, the Red Army gradually stiffened its resistance. This led to the brutal battle for Stalingrad itself. The Red Army was squeezed into an ever shrinking pocket inside the city. However, to the East of the city, General Georgy Zhukov was building up a huge force of tanks (T-34 Mediums and KV-1 Heavies) ready for a counter-attack against the German 6th Army. When this counter-attack was launched, the 6th Army found itself surrounded to the west of Stalingrad. German losses became so great that the commander of 6th Army, General Friedrich von Paulus asked Hitler for permission to surrender. As usual Hitler refused, ordering von Paulus to fight to the last man, and promoting him to Field Marshall (Hitler's thinking behind this promotion was purely cynical, as it was known that no German Field Marshall had ever surrendered). Paulus However disobeyed, knowing that the battle for Stalingrad was lost, and himself and 91,000 men (all that remained of 6th Army) surrendered to the Red Army. Of those 91,000 men, only 6,000 ever returned home to Germany. This was the turning point of the war on the Eastern Front.

In the Meantime, In the Western Desert of North Africa, the British 8th Army faced first the Italian Army, then later Rommel's Deutsch AfrikaKorps, DAK, more commonly known as the Africa Corps. After Rommel first arrived On the 14th February 1941, he quickly made his mark in March of that year by launching an offensive that retook most of Cyrenaica. The rest of the Western Desert campaign saw the Allied and Axis forces involved in a series of seesaw offensives, which included the British offensives Operation Battleaxe and Operation Crusader. These two offensives saw the British committing their Armour to near suicidal frontal attacks (in the tradition of the Cavalry Charges of old) against lines of German Anti-Tank Guns, which included the dreaded FLAK 88s. The main British Tanks during this period were the Infantry Tank Mk 2 Matilda 2, and the A15 Crusader Cruiser Tank. The Matilda 2 was well armoured but slow moving and, until the Germans started to use Their FLAK 88s in the Anti-Tank role, nothing could penetrate its armour. However its 2 Pounder main gun was useless for Infantry Support as it only fired solid shot. The Crusader tank meanwhile was a disastrously unreliable tank. It was constantly breaking down due to mechanical failure. However, when used en-mass it did enjoy some success during Operations Battleaxe and Crusader.

It wasn't until the 2nd Battle of El Alamein that the tide of the Western Desert Campaign turned in favour of the Allies. This was in large part due to the arrival in theatre of the British Lieutenant-General Bernard Law Montgomery, who took over command of the British 8th Army from General Harold Alexander, who in turn replaced General Claude Auchinleck as Commander-In-Chief, Middle East. It was during this part of the Western Desert Campaign that the Allies started to use the new U.S. M4 Medium tank, the famous Sherman. The M4 was equal in capabilities to the German Panzer Mk III and IV, and was a big factor in turning the tide in favour of the Allies.

A lot has been said about how Montgomery was the hero of El-Alamein, but his victory wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the unsung hero that was General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck laid the foundations of Montgomery's victory of 2nd El-Alamein, during his heroic defense at the 1st battle of El-Alamein.

Unfortunately, after 2nd El-Alamein, Montgomery declared that the 75mm gun on the Sherman was the only tank gun the Allies would need, so impressed was he by the Sherman's performance. This statement was taken as gospel by the Army's Chiefs of Staff and the Allies were saddled with an underpowered tank gun at a time when the Germans were developing bigger and more powerful tank guns of their own. This also led, later on, to the Americans deciding to continue to mass produce Shermans, even though the M26 Pershing, with its 90mm gun, was available later on.

After the Allied victory at El Alamein, the Axis forces were pushed all the way back to Tunisia, where they were finally defeated after the Allied Torch Landings. This stage of the war also saw the first use of the new German heavy tank, the Tiger 1, a heavily armoured tank that was armed with the same 88mm gun as the FLAK 37 88mm Anti-Tank gun.

After Stalingrad the Russians continued their Offensive, pushing the Germans back to Kharkov. The Germans meanwhile launched their last major offensive on the Eastern Front. At the city of Kursk, the Russian line formed a salient, bulging into the German lines. The Germans needed to push the Russians back to shorten their lines and hopefully turn the war back round in Germany's favour.

The resulting Battle of Kursk would see the largest ever Tank vs Tank battle at the town of Prokharovka, where some 1393 German and Russian tanks and assault guns faced each other. The Russians suffered greater losses, but they could replace these easier than the Germans could, so although Prokharovka was a tactical defeat for the Russians, it was also a strategic victory, as they managed to halt the Germans and prevent a breakthrough. This was the last chance for Germany to snatch victory on the Eastern Front, from then on they were in retreat, all the way back to Berlin.

Kursk was also the first time the new Panther medium tank was used, however, at this early stage of its operational career, it proved to be extremely unreliable and spent more time in the workshops than it did fighting.

On the 6th June, 1944, the greatest ever Amphibious landings took place. This was Operation Overlord, or D-Day.

The Landings took place on 5 beaches in the Normandy region of France. The Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, whilst the British and Canadians landed on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. In spite of heavy losses on Omaha Beach, by the end of the first day the Allies had landed over 150,000 men and their equipment. Amongst the first units to reach the beaches were 'Hobart's Funnies', specially adapted Tanks that were designed specifically for the Normandy landings.

'Hobart's Funnies' were named after General Sir Percy Hobart, who led 79th Armoured Division on D-Day, and who had helped develop the special vehicles used by the division. Amongst these specially adapted tanks was the Sherman Crab Mine Flail Tank, which had a heavy frame attached to the front of the tank. Between the two halves of the frame was a roller to which heavy chains had been attached all around its circumferance. These chains had balls on the ends, and as the roller rotated, these balls would beat the ground in front of the advancing tank, detonating any mines that were buried in its path.

Another adaptation was the Sherman DD Tank. The Duplex Drive had been invented by Hungarian born Nicholas Straussler. It consisted of 2 propellors at the back driven by the tank's tracks, and a waterproof canvas flotation screen. This screen was raised when in use so that the tank could float and propel itself onto the beach it was headed for. When the DD Tank arrived at the beach, the flotation screen was lowered and the tank would resume its conventional fighting role. Whilst the DD Tanks enjoyed some success on the beaches, many were swamped by the rough seas, and their crews drowned.

There was also an adaptation of the British Churchill MkVII Infantry Tank called the Churchill Crocodile. This had its bow M.G. replaced by a Flame Thrower. The fuel was contained in an armoured trailer towed by the tank, this held enough fuel for 80 one second bursts of flame. Another Churchill adaptation was the Churchill AVRE, or Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers. This was armed with the bunker busting 290mm Petard Spigot Motar and could carry fascines which were used to fill ditches so that other tanks could cross them. After lessons were learnt from the disastrous Dieppe landings, another Churchill adaptation was designed. This was the Churchill ARK, or Armoured Ramp Karrier. This consisted of a Churchill hull fitted with ramps at either end and allowed other tanks to drive across the top of the ARK, to cross either ditches, or climb beach walls.

After the successfull landings, the Allies found themselves in the Bocage country of north western France. The Bocage was perfect defensive country, as it consisted of a patchwork of fields seperated by sunken lanes with almost impeneratable hedgerows either side. The Allied tanks were forced to follow these sunken lanes and came under constant fire from well dug in German Anti-Tank guns. The lanes became dreadfull killing grounds for the Allied Tanks and their crews. It was in this Bocage country that another famous Tank vs Tank encounter took place.

On the Allied left flank, the British needed to secure the town of Caen. In order to do this they first had to capture a place called Villers Bocage. However, it was here that advancing units of the 7th Armoured Division (the 7th Armoured Division had been recalled from Italy on the orders of its former commander, Field Marshall Montgomery), encountered a single Tiger 1 Heavy Tank commanded by Michael Wittman, the famous German Tank Ace. The resulting Battle of Villers Bocage has gone down in history as an example of the supreme tactical knowledge and skill of a single Tank Commander who went on to destroy a whole regiment of Tanks and Tracked Carriers. Wittman himself was later killed when his tank, and 2 others were ambushed by Shermans of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry. The actual kill has since been credited to Joe Ekins, a gunner in a Sherman Firefly, who scored all three Tiger kills during the ambush, before having to bail out of his own tank. He served the rest of the war as the radio operator of another Firefly.

Over on the Allied extreme right flank, whilst the British were drawing German forces onto their side of the frontline, General George S. Patton, commanding the U.S. Third Army, advanced his tank forces more than 60 miles in two weeks, from Avranches to Argentan, before famously running out of fuel! Patton was renowned both for his fast, hard hitting Armoured Thrusts, and his controversial personalilty. He was however, a strong advocate of Armoured Warfare, before, during and after World War 2.

In July 1944, the Canadians and British needed to break out East of Caen. The resulting tank action, known as 'Operation Goodwood' became the biggest tank offensive in British history. 3 Armoured Divisions were involved; the 7th, 11th and Guards Armoured Divisions. The plan was for the 3 divisions to cross the Caen Canal and the River Orne, and advance, or at the very least, to draw the German Armoured reserves towards the British sector, and away from the Americans, who were also planning a break out of their own. The terrain, however, proved to be the undoing of the Operation. With only 4 hastily erected 'Bailey Bridges' over which the tanks could cross the canal and the river, the routes became heavily congested with armoured vehicles. Rain had also turned the battlefield into a swamp. As a result, the Operation was only partially successfull. The British advance did indeed draw the Germans towards the British sector, but a breakthrough wasn't achieved. Only a small advance was gained, with heavy casualties on both sides.

After 'Operation Goodwood', the British were involved in only one other major armoured engagement, and that was 30 Corps' advance in support of 'Operation Market Garden'. A lot has already been said about Montgomery's controvertial airborne landing operation. So I'll just quote from the man himself (I paraphrase here) "Operation Market Garden was 90% successfull"!

Just prior to the Allied Rhine Crossings, the British had introduced a new Heavy Cruiser Tank, the A34 Comet. The Comet was, without a doubt, Britain's best all round tank of WW2. It was armed with a modified version (shortened breech block and barrell) of the famous 17 Pounder OQF Anti-Tank Gun. With this gun it could easily penetrate the frontal armour of the Panther and Tiger 1 from 1000 yards. It could also, theoretically, penetrate the frontal armour of the new Tiger 2, or King Tiger Heavy Tank. However, Comet was introduced too late to have any real impact on the final tank battles of WW2.

Another tank to be developed right at the end of WW2 was the superb Centurion Heavy Cruiser Tank. The Centurion was intially armed with the 17 Pounder, then was later upgunned with a 20 Pounder. In turn, this was bored out to 105mm and became the famous L7 105mm Rifled Gun that became N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and '80s. Although developed at the end of WW2, the Centurion played no part whatsoever during the war. It did however, pave the way for a new generation of Main Battle Tanks, that blended firepower, protection and mobility into one machine. In fact it wasn't until Centurion, that Montgomery's suggestion that the roles of the Cruiser and Infantry tanks should be amalgamated into one type of tank that could fulfill all the roles of armour (except stealthy reconnaissance), was fully realised.

If one could sum up British World War 2 tank development in one sentance, it would be something like this; Too many different models clogging up the production lines, under gunned, under armoured and, with the odd exception, well below the standards of Germany's tank designs.

The last great tank battle of the war was the Battle of Manchuria, which took place from August 9th to August 20th, 1945, in which the Russians attacked the Japanese in the far east, where Russia borders with Manchuria, in a classic Russian 'Deep Battle' operation. 'Deep Battle' was the Russian equivalent of Blitzkrieg; however it was different in its tactics and execution. It involved a massed Armour and Infantry advance on a wide front, preceded by a massive artillery bombardment.

THE COLD WAR – EAST AND WEST FACE OFF IN GERMANY

During the Cold War, N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact faced off against each other across the plains ofGermany. The N.A.T.O. forces were based in West Germany, whilst the Warsaw Pact forces were based inEast Germany. The British Component of the N.A.T.O. forces was the B.A.O.R. or British Army Of the Rhine. The B.A.O.R. was headquartered in the Northern Plains of West Germany and from the 1960’s was equipped with the Chieftain M.B.T. Although the Centurion was the ancestor of all modern M.B.T.s, the Chieftain was the first true M.B.T.

N.A.T.O.’s role in West Germany was to defend against any attack by Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. The tanks that the West developed during this period were generally of a higher quality than the Russian equivalents. The Russians on the other hand relied on sheer numbers of tanks to overcome N.A.T.O. if war ever occurred.

Western tanks developed during the Cold War included; the U.S.’s Patton series (M47, M48, M60 etc), West Germany’s Leopard 1, France’s AMX30, and as already mentioned, Britain’s Chieftain. The Russians meanwhile, developed the T55, T62, T72 and T80 tanks. Whilst the majority of other countries built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Mobility; Britain, traumatised by being outgunned so often during WW2, built tanks that emphasised Firepower and Protection. In fact, Britain designed and built the gun that would become N.A.T.O. standard during the 1970s and ‘80s; the famous Royal Ordnance L7 105mm Rifled Gun.

Russian T-72 Main Battle Tank

During the Cold War, two conflicts occurred in the Far East and South East Asia; Korea from 1950 to 1953 andVietnam from 1965 to 1975. Both wars were ideological wars; The Communist East against the Capitalist West. Both wars involved the North of each country invading the South. Both wars saw the West intervening in an attempt to prevent Communism from spreading.

However, both wars also saw very limited use of Armour. The Korean War saw the use of still mainly WW2 tanks, e.g. The North Koreans used the Soviet T-34 tank, whilst the Western nations (fighting under the umbrella of the United Nations) used the old M4 Sherman, whilst the British used their new Centurion tank, as well as their WW2 Churchill tank. The hilly terrain made it impossible to use Armour en masse; in fact, the British parked their Centurions on top of hills and used them as static pill boxes, firing down on Communist forces below them!

During the Vietnam War, the Jungle terrain limited the use of Armour; however the Americans were able to use their M48 Medium tanks, and M41 Light tanks in support of the Infantry travelling in M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers.


THE SIX DAY WAR – ISRAEL TAL GOES ON TO TAKE COMMAND

In May 1967 the Egyptians started amassing their troops in the Sinai, whilst the Syrians and Jordanians threatened to join hostilities. Egypt had in its armoured units 1000 tanks, including 60 JS-3s, 450 T-54s and T-55s and about 30 Centurions. The Syrians had 400 tanks and the Jordanians had 200 tanks and tank destroyers. Facing these forces, the Israelis had in their possession 1000 tanks, of which a third were Centurions, a third were M48 Pattons and the rest were a mix of Shermans and AMX13s.

Alarmed by this build up of Arab forces on their southern border, the Israelis launched a pre-emptive aerial strike against Egypt’s air force. This strike virtually wiped out the Egyptian air force on the first day. At the same time the Israeli army (the IDF, or Israeli Defence Force) launched an attack on the Egyptian defensive lines, which ran from the Gaza Strip to Kusseima. The Egyptians had arranged their defences according to Russian doctrine; Fortified Infantry positions with JS3 tanks and heavy artillery support. Mobile forces consisting of T-54 and T-55 tanks were held in the rear, waiting to counter attack any Israeli breakthrough, or to exploit any invasion of Israel should one be launched.

In the meantime, Israel intended to take a defensive stance against Syria and Jordan. On the 5th June 1967, Israel launched a three pronged attack against the Egyptians. On the left, General Arial Sharon attacked Kusseima and Abu Ageila, in the centre, Avraham Yoffe attacked Bir Kahfan, while on the right, Israel Tal advanced along the coast towards El Arish. Each prong of the attack was able to support the others and made good progress.

On the right, Israel Tal attacked through the El Jiradi Pass; with only a relatively small force of tanks and infantry, he managed to defeat the Egyptians who were waiting in ambush in the Pass. He then went on to advance all the way to the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Yoffe and Sharon were able advance towards the GiddiPass and the Mitla Pass respectively. At the same time, Israeli forces defeated Jordanian forces and took Jerusalem on the 7th. With the withdrawal of the surviving Jordanian units, the Israelis were able to advance towards and take the Golan Heights after defeating the Syrians in a combined Infantry and Armour assault.

Israel Tal, who commanded the right hand prong of the Israeli attack, was renowned for his strict discipline and enthusiasm for the tank and its high power gun. He had studied Guderian’s tactics and adopted them for his own units. As commander of the IDF’s Armoured Corps from 1964 onwards, he demanded high gunnery skills and discipline from his tank commanders. His greatest moment was, without a doubt, his attack throught the El Jiradi Pass on the 5th June 1967. However, he dismissed the potency of the Anti Tank Guided Missile in favour of the tank gun and this would lead directly to the initial Israeli set backs at the start of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In spite of this, he became the advisor to the Israeli Minister of Defence and went on to play a leading role in the design and development of Israel’s first indigenously designed tank, the Merkava.

DESERT STORM - PERFECT TANK TERRAIN

On the 2nd of August 1990, Iraq invaded its tiny oil rich neighbour, Kuwait. After Iraq ignored United Nations resolutions and demands for its immediate withdrawal, a coalition of Western and Arab armed forces gathered on the other side of the border in Saudi Arabia. This became known as Operation Desert Shield, for it was believed that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia next, and upset the balance of power in the region. After Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, ignored further demands for Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm was launched on the 17 January 1991, beginning with a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq's armed forces and infrastructure.

The ground offensive was launched on the 23rd of February 1991 and involved the United States Marine Corps, together with the Arab coalition partners, advancing north across the border with Kuwait, heading towards Kuwait City, in a diversionary attack. In the meantime, the main thrust, consisting of the U.S. Army, together with the British contingent, was launched as a ‘left hook’ towards the Iraqi Army to the west ofKuwait, before it could reinforce units inside Kuwait itself.

The Iraqi Army was the 4th largest army in the world at the time, but had a mixed bag of hardware. All of its tanks were of Russian origin, with a mixture of older T-54s and T-55s and some of the more modern T-72s belonging to the much vaunted Republican Guard.

The Coalition, by and large, had more modern equipment, including the superb American M1A1 Abrams tank and the British Challenger 1 MkIII. These two Main Battle Tanks swept the Iraqi tanks before them, the latter standing no chance at all against the better equipped and trained U.S. and British Armies. Operation Desert Storm was reminiscent of the Western Desert campaign of WW2, in that it took place across vast, flat desert terrain which was perfect for fast moving, hard hitting mobile warfare. It also helped that the Iraqi Army, mostly made up of conscripts, was severely demoralized by the Coalition's aerial bombardment.

It was during Operation Granby (the title given to British operations during Desert Storm) that a British Challenger scored the longest ever tank vs tank kill at over 5km with a HESH round. (HESH is short for High Explosive Squash Head). This is a world record that still stands to this day.

Both the U.S. Abrams M.B.T. and the British Challenger M.B.T. are described as being proven battle winners, however, when you look at the tanks they faced, i.e. aging T54s and T55s, I think this is a little unrealistic. Had the Iraqi army been equipped with more modern armour, and its tank crews better trained, then yes, this would be a fair thing to say. Whilst these two M.B.T.s are undoubtedly amongst the best in the world, wait until they have faced more worthy opponents before calling them ‘proven battle winners’!

THE FUTURE…….

So, what does the future hold for Armoured Warfare? Every few years ‘experts’ declare that the M.B.T. has had its day, and yet here they still are! Whilst the world political climate may have completely changed since the Cold War, there are still plenty of potential dissident states that occasionally rattle their sabres, and threaten world peace. Also, while most conflicts of the last few years have been counter-insurgency conflicts, armour, in my opinion, still has its place. There is nothing quite like a 70 ton Main Battle Tank coming at you at full speed to scare the bejesus out of you! The role of the M.B.T; that is, to carry direct firepower across the battlefield, will always exist. Maybe tanks will be smaller and lighter to reflect the modern army's expeditionary nature, but the fact remains, tanks will always have their place in a world of seemingly constant upheaval and conflict.



From a Soviet Point of View - Soviet armored doctrine

*And Yes, this is missing some equipment. Deal with it!!! The Emphasis was doctrine and tactics, not individual systems.


From the mid 1950s the Arab nations were equipped by the Soviet Union. In the absence of good data on the Arabs themselves here’s a description of the Soviets. As my main interest is company level infantry actions I will focus on motorised infantry battalions and below.

Doctrine

The Regiment is seen as the smallest independent unit, as smaller units lack the necessary headquarters and support elements. None-the-less a Soviet battalion is expected to operate independently 20-30 km away from its regiment for 5-15 hours.

Frontages and distances

Each level of unit has deployment frontages and depths. These distances apply regardless of the formation the unit has adopted, e.g. a defending company must cover 1-1.5km of frontage regardless of whether it is in line, wedge, or “V”.

Distance Platoon (m) Company (m) Battalion (km)

Defence frontage 400-500 1,000-1,500 4-7

Defence depth 150-600 500-1,000 1-3

Operational attack frontage 750 1-2

Attack frontage 1,000 2-3

Depth of attack (immediate objective) N/A N/A 2-4

Depth of attack (subsequent objective) N/A N/A 8-15

The Defence frontage combined with the defence depth define the area the unit is responsible for defending.

The Attack frontage is the distance the unit is responsible for when attacking, although the troops only operate within the Operational attack frontage. That means there will be gaps in the attack.

Depth of attack only applies to battalions and above. It is the distance to the unit’s immediate objective and the subsequent objective.

Battalion formations

Formations above battalions will attack in echelons; battalions have the option of doing so, but can also adopt line, wedge or “V” formation. A battalion can have 1, 2 or even 3 echelons, although 1 and 2 are most common. The same formations are used in defence, although line and “V” are most common.

Although I focus on battalion formations, it is worth mentioning that a company will typically attack and defend in line, but can also adopt wedge or “V” formations especially in defence.

One echelon / Line

The most common Soviet small unit formation is the line; for a battalion this means one echelon and a reserve. A battalion in line has all three companies in line 400-800m apart in attack, and 1,000-1,500 in defence. The headquarters, reserve and support weapons follow the central company; 1,000m behind the front when in defence. The reserve will only be one motorised rifle platoon. When defending in line the battalion may also have a one platoon battle outpost 1,000m in front of their main positions.

A one echelon attack will be chosen if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If the battalion:
    • Must cover a wide frontage.
    • Must deliver a concentrated attack with two companies.
    • Has limited time to reach objectives.
    • Has objectives that are close at hand.
  • If the enemy is
    • Surprised.
    • Outmanoeuvred.
    • Unable to defend a broad front.
Two echelon / “V”

Echelon attacks are mandatory for regiment and above, but optional for battalions. Normally a battalion using an echeloned attack will have two echelons and a reserve. It may also have a separate anti-tank reserve.

The first echelon will contain two reinforced companies advancing in line abreast 400-800m apart.

The battalion will have a platoon in reserve. The reserve is the counter-attack force and has no specific role in an attack. It will normally be with the battalion commander behind the second echelon.

Some battalions will also have a separate mobile anti-tank reserve behind the first echelon. Not surprisingly its role in both attack and defence is to counter armoured threats. In larger units the anti-tank reserve includes tanks, engineers, and field artillery as well as standard anti-tank weapons; this may well be true of battalion reserves as well.

The second echelon will have the remaining troops – typically a weak company as at least one platoon will form the reserve. It follows the first echelon by 300-1,000m, and is spread across the same frontage. The purpose of the second echelon:

  • Take over the offensive if the first echelon can’t continue – allowing the first echelon to rest and resupply.
  • Exploit successes of the first echelon, i.e. if the first echelon takes the battalion’s immediate objective, the second echelon will be committed to the attack on the subsequent objective.
  • Mop up bypassed strong-points.
  • Defeat counter-attacks.
  • Attack in a different sector or direction.
A “V” formation is pretty similar to a two echelon formation. The main differences are, in a “V” formation the lead companies are 600-800m apart, and the rifle company of the second echelon is centred behind the lead companies.

Three echelon

The Soviets will opt for a three echelons when attempting break-through attacks on prepared defences.

Wedge

One company leads the rest of the battalion by 300-1,000m. The support weapons follow the lead company, with the other two companies 400-800m to either side.

Types of Attack

The Soviets recognise three basic forms of offensive action:

  • The meeting engagement where both sides are on the move.
  • The breakthrough attack against enemy defending in place.
  • The pursuit of enemy attempting to move away.
Meeting engagement

The Soviets see the meeting engagement as the most likely form of combat in the modern era.

Although capable of cross-country travel, Soviet units will normally travel by road. A battalion will follow a single track. The average speed in is 30-40 km/h; 2/3 of that at night or in bad weather. Vehicle spacing is 15-50 m on roads and 50-100 m cross-country. The battalion will be lead by an advance guard of about 1/3 of its full strength. The flanks will be defended by squads.

The point of the advance is the a combat reconnaissance patrol. It will be 5-10 km (10-30 min) ahead of the main body of the advance guard, and its main purpose is to locate enemy positions, and routes to outflank or envelop the enemy. It includes:

  • A motorised rifle platoon.
  • 2 tanks.
  • A a squad of engineers.
The main body of advance guard is also a combined arms force and is 5-10 km (20-30 min) ahead of the battalion. It includes:

  • Battalion headquarters.
  • 2 motorised rifle platoons
  • remainder of tanks (usually 2)
  • remainder of engineer squads.
  • 1/2 the battalion 120mm mortars.
  • Attachments from regiment including heavy weapons and additional engineers.
The battalion commander may form a second combat reconnaissance patrol from the advance guard to operate 1 km ahead of the rest of the advance guard. It will have the same composition as the first patrol.

If the advance guard encounters enemy it will attack immediately. The aim is to eliminate opposition that might block the advance of the main body. If the advance guard can break through then the main body will not deploy. If more serious opposition is encountered, the advance guard will attempt to pin the enemy to allow the main body to deploy and/or outflank the enemy. Failing that the advance guard will will fight until reinforced by the main body, where upon both groups will assault together.

If information on the enemy is scarce, the advance guard may launch a probing attack. The aim is to either infiltrate the enemy, or to launch a hasty company assault. One platoon, along with the artillery and mortars will be on over-watch. The remainder of the company will attack on a 400m frontage making maximum use of cover. The tanks will lead the APCs/BMPs by 100m; the latter will advance in pairs. If opposition is too strong the company will retire.

If the advance guard and main body launch an assault this can be either a hasty attack from march or an attack from march. In a hasty attack from march the companies are fed into the attack as they arrive. In this situation fire support is provided by over-watching tanks or artillery that can fire direct and by mortars using indirect fire.

In an attack from march the troops are deployed along the line of departure before assaulting. It takes 25-60 min from the moment of contact for a battalion to prepare an attack. This can be supported by a 10-20 min artillery offensive.

If the combine attack of the advance guard and main body fails, the battalion will call upon the second echelon to resume the offensive. Failing that, the regiment will take over, etc.

The breakthrough attack

The aim of a breakthrough attack is to defeat enemy in prepared defences and penetrate their positions. Often they are launched from contact under cover of darkness. They will usually be supported by 10-40 min artillery offensives, and can involve air strikes, parachute drops and helicopter insertions.

The pursuit

First echelon troops will typing frontally pursue the troops they dislodged, while second echelon troops are committed to parallel pursuit – trying to cut the enemy off.

The combined arms assault

Advance in Company Columns: A Soviet battalion column will deploy into company columns 4-6 km from the enemy. It is at this point that the attack formation is adopted, for example, if a company is to form the second echelon then it will take up the proper spacing at this point.

The companies will advance at 12-15 km/h depending on whether the tanks fire at the short halt (for accurate fire) or on the move (for suppressive fire).

Advance in Platoon Columns: The companies will form platoon columns at 1,500-4,000m from the enemy depending on the intensity of the enemy’s indirect fire. Obstacles and minefields will be cleared by specialised tanks or engineers; troops pass through gaps in platoon column. The motorised rifle platoons within a company will normally form line abreast about 500m apart; echelon, “V” or wedge formations are also possible. The tank platoon assigned to each company will normally lead the motorised rifle platoons by 150-200m; the order is reversed In rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Platoon lines: Against weak opposition the platoons will stay in platoon columns, however, normally the platoons will deploy into line at about 1,500m from the enemy. All platoons – rifle and tank – will form line with BMPs or APCs 50-100 apart, and tanks about 100-150m apart. The riflemen are still mounted at this point.

Artillery offensive: In Soviet thinking the primary purpose of artillery is the suppression of enemy anti-tank weapons before and during the attack. Battalion artillery assets will be 500-1,000m behind the combat line, and regimental assets will be 500-4,000m behind the line, however, both will advance to support the advancing attackers. The artillery offensive is divided into three phases: the preparation, fires in support, and fires through the depths of the defence.

Preparatory fire: If there is time, supporting artillery, and possibly artillery from higher levels, will be used for preparatory fire. Preparatory fire is at a sustained rate but starts and ends with a burst of rapid fire at maximum rate. Preparatory fire lifts when the attacking force leaves the departure line, or when the tanks enter direct fire range of the enemy.

Fires in support: From the point preparatory fire lifts attached artillery (possibily including regimental assets) is used to support the attack. Where possible artillery will use direct fire to shoot through the gaps between advancing companies. Supporting fire will continue to shoot until they endanger their own tanks; for indirect fire this is when the tanks are 100-200m from the enemy, but it is closer for direct fire.

Fires through the depths of the defence: Once supporting artillery fire has lifted from the enemy front line positions the supporting artillery fire through the depth of the enemy positions, in other words, it will target enemy rear positions to support the breakthrough.

Tank assault: Normally the tanks lead the assault. They have to enter the enemy positions as soon after the artillery fire lifts as possible. The Soviets believe the tanks have about 3 min to do this before the enemy mans their weapons. Once in the enemy positions the tanks use suppressive fire to cover the advance of the infantry. The tanks will let the infantry lead the assault when in rough, close or built-up terrain, when attacking at night or across a water obstacle.

Dismounted infantry assault: Normally the infantry will dismount 300-400m from the enemy. However, the infantry will dismount 500-1,000m from the enemy if the enemy is unsuppressed, well entrenched, strong in anti-tank weapons, or in terrain unsuitable for vehicles. Once dismounted the riflemen form skirmish lines and continue to advance, about 200m behind the tanks. Dismounted squads, platoons, and companies all attack in a single skirmish line. The Soviet infantry will attempt to advance as fast as possible, partly to keep the momentum of the attack, and partly to support the advancing tanks. If the skirmish lines are forced to ground, they will alternate fire and short rushes; entire companies will either move or fire, not combine the two Once at 25-30m from the enemy the Russians will charge. The APCs or BMPs follow 300-400m behind the dismounted infantry using direct fire through the gaps between rifle squads (from the short halt).

Mounted infantry assault: BMP equipped infantry are expected to to stay mounted in combat, and to fight from their vehicle. Similarly if APC equipped infantry are facing suppressed enemy the regimental commander has the option to keep the riflemen mounted throughout the attack.

Objectives: The aim of the assault is to overrun the position and keep going, leaving the second echelon to mop up. The Soviets assume there will be sufficient suppressing fire from the tanks, APCs or BMPs, artillery, and the infantry’s own marching fire to make this relatively bold attack feasible. Of course, they might be wrong.

Order of Battle

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion in 1979, and what I know about earlier organisations. I’ve also listed the Soviet support equipment used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation for any particular period.

Motorised Rifle Battalion

I’ve outlined the organisation and major equipment of a Soviet Motorised Rifle Battalion and its usual supports. I have ignored the numbers of men, and also assumed that all men are equipped with the appropriate small arms. Battalions are either BMP or APC equipped. The organisation described is that of the late 1970s, although I’ve mentioned earlier variations where I know them. Subsequent sections describe the equipment used post WWII, including years the weapons were introduced, so you can make you own conclusions about earlier TO&E. .

1 x Battalion Headquarters (Major, Captain or Lt-Colonel)

1 x Commanders Vehicle = APC or Scout Car or BMP (possibly a command version)

1 x Reconnaissance Vehicle = APC or BMP (or Jeep or Scout car) ***

1 x Truck

1 x Tank Company Headquarters (Snr Lt or Capt) *

1 x Headquarters Tank

1 x Truck

3 x Motorised Rifle Companies (Snr Lt)

1 x Company Headquarters

1 x BMP or APC

2 x light machine guns **

2 x AGS-17 grenade launchers to be fired from tripod or vehicle mounts

1 x Tank Platoon (Jnr Lt, Warrant Officer or Sergeant) *

4 x Tanks

3 Motorised Rifle Platoons (Jnr Lt or Sergeant)

1 x Platoon commander

1 x SA-7 gunner – actually part of the Company HQ but always assigned down to the platoons, and presumably from there to one of the squads.

1 x Sniper in one of the squads

3 x Motorised Rifle Squads (Sergeant)

1 or 2 light machine guns **

1 x RPG-7 ****

1 x BMP or APC ***

1 x Anti-tank platoon – not in the BMP-equipped battalions.

2 x Suitcase Saggers

2 x SPG-9 73mm recoilless anti-tank gun

2-4 x RPG-7s

2 x APCs

1 x Mortar Battery *****

1 x Battery Headquarters

1 x Jeep

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x FO/reconnaissance section

1 x Communications section

3 x Mortar Platoons

2 x Mortar Squads

1 x 120mm Mortar

1 x RPG-7

1 x Truck (or APC)

1 x Communications platoon

1 x Command Vehicle

1 x Motorcycle

1 x Truck or Jeep

1 x Airdefence sub-unit

3 x SA-7 sections

1 x Supply section

1 x Medical aid section

1 x Repair workshop

* A tank company from the motorised rifle regiment’s tank battalion was attached to each rifle battalion within the regiment. Similarly one tank platoon from the tank company was assigned to each motorised rifle company. Tank platoons integral to a motorised rifle regiment had 4 tanks; in contrast tank regiments had only 3 tanks per platoon.

** Pre-1979 squads had 1 x RPK light machine gunner. After that BMP-equipped squads had 2 x PKM gunners, and BTR-60PB-mounted squads had 1 x RPK and 1 x PKM gunners. All squad weapons are bipod mounted.

*** The Soviets phased out the older half-platoon APC organinisation in the 1970s, although it was used by Warsaw Pact countries at least into the 1980s so might have been used by the Arabs. Under this organisation all APCs belonged to a central APC platoon, but were attached to companies as needed. Each motorised rifle platoon had only 2 APCs with half the platoon (1.5 squads) in each. The battalion HQ had a jeep or scout car instead of the APC. Units organised in half-platoons were expected to dismount to attack.

**** In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad.

***** Isby (1981) provided contradictory evidence for the composition of the Mortar battery. He says three platoons of two squads of two mortars, but this would give 12 mortars and 12 tows. As the whole battery only has 6 mortars and 6 tows I have assumed each squad has one weapon and tow. The other thing that confuses me is that he gives artillery batteries two platoons of three weapons; I’m not sure why mortar battery has the numbers reversed, in fact in one place he mentions that “two platoons” of the mortar battery.

Soviet APCs and Infantry Combat Vehicles

Here’s a quick summary of the APCs and BMP used by Soviet Motorised Riflemen post WWII. I’ve ignored command versions, and vehicles used by artillery, etc. Unless specified as “Open topped” all vehicles are enclosed. I believe they are all amphibious except the BTR-152 series.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now

BTR-152, BTR-152V1, BTR-152V2, BTR-152V3 Open topped wheeled APC 1950 Basically an armoured truck. Started as half-platoon APC, but by late 1970s only used in certain support roles. Used by the Arabs in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Israeli Border Police used captured vehicles from 1967.

BTR-50P Open topped, tracked APC 1957 Half-platoon APC.

BTR-152K Wheeled APC 1961 Enclosed BTR-152V3; half-platoon APC. Used by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973, but less than the open topped versions.

BTR-50PK Tracked APC Pre-1967 Squad APC that saw service with Egypt in 1967 and 1973 , and with Israel after 1967. Still in use by motorised rifle regiments within Soviet tank divisions in 1979.

OT-62 TOPAS Tracked APC Pre-1967 A Czech version of the BTR-50 that saw service along side the BTR-50PK in the middle east (1967-73) and was still in use by Warsaw Pact armies in 1979.

BTR-60P Wheeled APC 1961 Wheeled half-platoon APC. Either BTR-60P or BTR60-PK saw limited service with Arabs in 1967.

BTR60-PK (BTR-60PA) Wheeled APC 1963
BMP Tracked Infantry Combat Vehicle 1967 Squad Infantry Combat Vehicle. Used by Syrians in 1973.

BTR60-PB Wheeled APC 1966 Squad APC. Standard Arab APC in 1973, and was still standard APC in front line Soviet units in 1979.

MT-LB APC and artillery tractor 1970 Only assigned to cold climates.
BTR70 Wheeled APC 1978 Improved BTR60-PB; squad APC.

Soviet Scout Cars

I’ve listed the Soviet scout cars used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now

BTR-40 1951 Has various versions. Used by Arabs in 1965 (Egypt) and 1967. Many captured by the Israelis and used by their Border Police after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.

BRDM-1 1959 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Many captured and used by the Israelis after 1967. Still used by Soviets in 1979.

BRDM-2 Pre-1967 Main scout car of Soviets in 1979. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

Soviet Anti-tank weapons

I’ve listed the Soviet anti-tank weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now

BS-3 M-1944 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1944 Used in WWII and by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

D-44 85mm anti-tank gun 1953 WWII vintage weapon with some upgrades. Could be used in direct fire artillery role. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; possibly still in use in 1979. Used in south Lebanon in 1979 by Israeli supplied Christian militia. In Soviet service the D-44 was replaced by recoilless weapons (presumably B-10 and B-11), ATGM (presumably AT-1 Snapper) and 100mm weapons (presumably M-1944 or M-1955) although two Soviet low readiness regiments still had D-44 in early 1970s.

B-10 Tripod mounted 82mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank platoon of rifle battalion. Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973; still in use in 1979. Not considered a success due poor performance in 1967.

B-11 Tripod mounted 107mm recoilless anti-tank gun Early 1950s Assigned to anti-tank company of rifle regiment. Used by Arabs in 1973; still in use in 1979.

SD-44 Mobiile 85mm anti-tank gun 1954 Has probably never been used in action, but was still used in some Soviet airborne units in 1979.

BS-3 M-1955 100mm rifled anti-tank gun 1955 Used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973.

AT-1 Snapper Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). Late 1950s Small numbers used by Egypt in 1967.

RPG-7 Man portable rocket propelled grenade launcher 1962 Assigned to squads. Used in by Arabs in 1967 and 1973 and still used extensively today. In 1967 Egyptian platoons only had one RPG-7, not one per squad. In 1973 Egyptian front line units were lavishly equipped with RPG-7s – at the expense of rear units.

T-12 100mm smoothbore anti-tank gun 1965 Assigned to a rifle division’s anti-tank reserve.
SPG-9 Tripod mounted 73mm recoilless rifle 1969 Assigned to anti-tank units of rifle battalion and regiment. Replaced B-10 and B-11 in these roles. Reportedly supplied to Syria but possibly never used.

AT-3 Sagger ATGM Pre-1969 Used extensively by Arabs in 1973.

Soviet Artillery

I’ve listed the Soviet artillery weapons used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

The normal use of artillery was described in the combine arms assault section, however, it is also worth noting that the Soviets will use artillery as direct fire anti-tank weapons, and will use even heavy artillery at close range (200-300m) against enemy positions in urban settings. They have found that direct fire is about 8 times for effective in demolishing buildings that indirect fire.

Weapon Type Introduced Use then and now

A-19 122mm towed field gun 1931, 1937 WWII vintage gun, it was a corps level long range counter-battery weapon. Used by Arabs throughout Middle Eastern wars. Replaced by M-46 and D-74 in Soviet service, but likely to see continue service elsewhere.

M-30 122mm towed howitzer 1938 WWII vintage gun still in use by Soviets in 1979, although being replaced by D-30. A regimental and divisional asset. Standard Egyptian howitzer in 1967. Subsequently the Israelis fielded their own battalions of captured M-30s.

ML-20 152mm gun-howitzer 1937 WWII vintage long range weapon. Used in the Middle East. Replaced in Soviet service by D-20.

82mm mortar 1937, 1941, 1942 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Used by Soviet airborne and naval battalions. Towed.

120mm mortar 1938, 1943 Saw service in WWII and almost all wars of insurgency since. Standard Soviet mortar assigned to motorised rifle battalions. Towed.

D-1 152mm towed heavy howitzer 1943 One of the last WWII vintage weapons still in use. Used in considerable numbers by the Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.

SU-100 100mm Self-propelled guns Early 1940s WWII vintage self-propelled guns used by Egypt in the 1956 war.

240mm mortar 1952 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but has seen combat in Lebanon. May have been used by Arabs in 1967 and 1973. Towed.

160mm mortar 1943, 1953 Seen only limited front line service with Soviets, but was used by Arabs since 1967 war including Lebanese Civil War. Towed.

M-46, M1954 130mm towed field gun 1954 A divisional level asset that is excellent for both in counter-battery or direct fire anti-tank roles. Used by Egyptians in an army level counter-battery role in 1973 war. Subsequently the Israelis formed their own M-46 battalions.

D-74 122mm towed gun 1955 Used at divisional level in place of the D-30 when long range is necessary.

D-20 152mm towed gun-howitzer 1955 Standard Soviet heavy howitzer. Used at divisional level in place of the D1 when long range is necessary. Used by Egyptians in 1967 and 1973. Being replaced by SAU-152 self-propelled howitzers.

S-23 180mm towed heavy gun-howitzer Mid 1950s A divisional and front asset. Used by Egyptians in 1973.

D-30 122mm towed gun-howitzers 1967 The standard Soviet divisional and regimental howitzer in 1979. One of the mainstays of the Arab field-artillery in 1973. Sometimes used in a direct fire anti-tank role. Being replaced by SAU-122 self-propelled howitzers in all Soviet BMP and half the BTR-60 equipped motorised rifle regiments.

76.2mm mountain gun 1938, 1969 Used as regimental artillery for mountain units in place of the 122mm howitzers.

BM-14 140mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1959 Replaced by BM-21.

BM-24 240mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). Pre-1967 Standard Arab MRL in 1967 war. In 1973 the Israelis fielded an upgrade version. Now withdrawn from Soviet front-line service.

BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL). 1964 Standard Arab MRL in 1973 war.

SAU-122 122mm self-propelled howitzer 1974 .

SAU-152 152mm self-propelled howitzer 1973 .

Soviet Tanks

I’ve listed the Soviet tanks used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period.

Vehicle Introduced Use then and now

T-34/85 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in the 1956 war.
IS-3 Early 1940s WWII vintage tanks used by Egypt in very small numbers during the 1956 war.
T-54 1947 The T-54/55 was standard Arab main battle tank in both 1967 and 1973. Some original T-54s supplied to Syria and used successfully against Jordan in 1970. T-55A was most common of the T-55s. Still used by Soviets in 1979, in category II and III tank units and Naval infantry.

T-54A 1955
T-54B 1957
T-54C
T-55 1961
T-55A 1963

PT-76 1955 Amphibious reconnaissance light tank. Egypt used PT-76s in 1967 without much success. Israel used captured versions after that. Arabs used them again in 1973, including with the Egyptian 130th Mechanised Infantry Brigade.

T-62 1961 Dominated Soviet armoured units during 1970s, and saw action with the Arabs in 1973.

T-62A 1970
T-62M Late 1970s
T-67 1967 T-54/55s captured in 1967 by Israelis, modified and used in 1973.
T-64 1973
T-72 1975
T-80 1980 ??

Soviet Trucks, Tractors, Jeeps and Motorcycles

I’ve listed the Soviet trucks, tractors, jeeps and motorcycles used post WWII so you can deduce the probable organisation at any particular period. Tractors are fully tracked vehicles usually intended for towing artillery; they could also haul cargo and some had specialised roles, e.g. ferries. Trucks are also often used for towing artillery.

Vehicle Type Introduced Use then and now

M-72 Motorcycle Early .
GAZ-69A Jeep 1950s First generation of post-WWII tractors. Not too successful, the ZIL-151 in particular (replaced by ZIL-157). ZIL-157 was the standard Soviet truck until replaced by the URAL-375D. ZIL-157 and ZIL-151 were still being used by Soviets in 1979.

GAZ-63A Truck
ZIL-164 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-151 Truck
ZIL-157 Truck and Tractor versions
BAV Amphibious truck
MAV (GAZ-46) Amphibious jeep
AT-P Tractor
AT-S Medium artillery tractor
AT-L Light tractor
AT-T Heavy artillery tractor
UAZ-469 Jeep Early 1960s Second generation of trucks and tractors. GAZ-66 and URAL-375 were particularly successful. ZIL-130, ZIL-131, KrAZ-255B, and MAZ-543 were less successful. URAL-375D series was the standard Soviet truck in 1979.

GAZ-66 Light truck
URAL-375 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-130 Truck and Tractor versions
ZIL-131 Truck and Tractor versions
KrAZ-255B Truck
ZIL-135 Truck
MAZ-543 Truck
ATS-59 Medium artillery tractor
K-61 Amphibious tractor ferry
PTS-M Amphibious tractor ferry
MAZ-500 Tank transporter Late 1960s
MAZ-535 Tank transporter
MAZ-537 Truck used as heavy artillery tow
GT-T Amphibious tractor 1970s ??
GT-SM Amphibious tractor
KrAZ-214 Truck ?? Used by Egyptians as a gun tow.
GT-S Amphibious tractor ??

Other comments on Soviet versus Arab tactical doctrine

Andrew Tippman on AIW-Wargaming forum

In case you’re interested, the accepted wisdom of the mid 1980s (when I was an instructor) was that, although the Middle Eastern conflicts may produce evidence of equipment capabilities, the armies involved were too divorced from the European standard to offer many lessons in the NATO vs WP theatre at a low level. Israeli armies were regarded as too highly motivated to represent NATO troops, Arab armies as lacking the discipline required to make sense of Soviet tactical doctrine. I must admit I was never entirely convinced of the latter part of that argument. I believed that we, in NATO, tended to stereotype WP soldiery as suicidal automatons and Arabs as cowardly incompetents – broad generalisations with little evidence in their support.

Soviet tactics relied heavily on speed, firepower and discipline and heavy losses were expected and taken into account. They only make sense if you consider that a Soviet commander would deploy the highest possible concentration of fighting power in the smallest area during the smallest time to achieve overwhelming superiority and that “conservation of effort” is a NATO principle of war, not a Soviet one.

Was Arab doctrine the same during the AIWs? Opinions, please!

Mures Arad in personal communication on “Soviet Doctrine Arab Armies”

No Arab army has ever utilized Soviet Tactical Military Doctrine. The reason being that Soviet “Military Advisors” never taught doctrine or tactics. When one hears the phrase “Military Advisor,” one generally thinks of US Special Forces or British SAS. Soviet “Military Advisors” were not Spetnatz, in fact, many were non-military. The Soviets were Technical Advisors, many being civilians employed by the contractor who built the weapons system, much in the same way that Martin-Marietta provided civilian advisors to the US Army for the Lance and Pershing I, IA and II missile systems. Soviet Technical Advisors provided advice on training and maintenance to the host nation, not tactics.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war was the genesis for the creation of the US Army’s AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. It had always been assumed that the Arabs used Soviet tactics and the Israelis used Western tactics. A captain at one of the war colleges wrote a paper identifying the Arab armies as using classic Western Style warfare and the Israelis using a modified version of standard Wehrmacht tactics. A review of all Arab-Israeli conflicts confirmed this and led to the question: What exactly is Soviet Tactical Doctrine?

The US began collecting books written in the Soviet Union about WWII and interviewing surviving German officers in the east and west and Warsaw Pact military defectors. To their horror, the US realized that it had completely misunderstood Soviet tactical warfare and began reviewing and rewriting their own doctrine, leading to the AirLand Battle 2000 doctrine. The Israelis were discovered to be using a combination of Wehrmacht and Soviet doctrine.




The Future of Armored Warfare


We miss our animals. Since history closed the mounted arm's stables, soldiers have compensated by naming their units after dragons, lions, panthers and their great lost love, the horse. Tankers, especially, like to associate themselves with the sleek and ferocious. Unfortunately, the armored vehicles of the next century are apt to resemble hedgehogs, snakes, and caterpillars. Perhaps, someday, a hard-bitten NCO will slam down his beer mug, stand up and declare, "I'm from the Woolly-Bears, mister, and we don't like that kind of talk . . . ."

Armored vehicles will be around for a long time to come. But their shapes, sizes, weights, armor, armaments, propulsion, connectivity, battlefield awareness, and crewing will change profoundly. The continuity will be in the mission: to deliver local killing power and allow protected maneuver. The evolution of armored vehicles will be driven by technology and strategic requirements, but, above all, by the changing environment of combat: the increasing urbanization of warfare, and the growing transparency of traditional non-urban operations--in which we will be able to monitor the activities of enemy forces in real time. Far from being the twilight of the tank, the new era could become a great age of armor, but only if proponents and practitioners of mounted combat are willing to engage the future in a spirit of honest inquiry.

The hints that Armor needs to reform itself grow ever harder to ignore. First, in the Gulf War, it took an Infantryman to recognize that the ground battle had opened in the pursuit phase. Too many armored commanders sought to fight textbook battles--and the textbooks were outdated editions that elevated secure flanks above knock-out blows. Then came the Russian experience in Grozny. Our reaction was to mock Russian incompetence and repeat the old saw that you don't send armor into cities. We failed to recognize the future, just as Europeans, content to assume American military incompetence, failed to appreciate the killing power of rifled weapons demonstrated in our Civil War. Half a century later, the Europeans reprised Cold Harbor on a vast scale on the Somme. Will we re-enact the Battle of Grozny?

Yes, the Russians were militarily incompetent in Chechnya. On the other hand, they had no choice but to use armored vehicles in city streets--like all advanced armies, they lacked the infantry strength to reduce the city building by building. Between these two examples, our soldiers found themselves in deadly combat in Mogadishu under conditions that begged for armor. Apart from the political considerations that denied our troops the tools they needed to overwhelm their opponents, the military itself was guilty of relying on traditional approaches to urban operations that are no longer feasible when domestic elites panic in the face of casualties (friendly or enemy).

The lessons of these examples are many, but the core challenges come down to a few points. Mounted warfare in non-urban environments goes very fast, and will go faster. Traditional control measures are inadequate. Battlefields quickly become cellular and multi-directional, and therein lies more opportunity than danger for the force with informational superiority and a leadership unafraid of the initiative of subordinates. While rigorous training and equipment quality are essential, the key variable is situational awareness--both the practical kind that means seeing the enemy tank before it sees you, and the deeper sort of command visualization that allows a leader to understand not only the physical reality of the enemy situation, but, more important, the situation as the enemy perceives it.

In the future, formations will operate far more swiftly and in smaller increments than in even the most successful divisional attacks during Desert Storm, but this is the reborn paradigm: Go fast, hit the enemy's weaknesses, keep on hitting him, and don't stop moving. This is very old military wisdom. Somehow, somewhere between the National Training Center and Carlisle, many of us forgot it. Too often, we elevate safety of decision over decisiveness. We may admire Jackson, but we imitate McClellan.

The lessons of Chechnya are even more relevant than those of our incomplete victory on the banks of the Euphrates. In the lethal urban canyons of Grozny--rather a small city, by world standards--the Russian military urgently needed means of protected fire and movement. They were forced to use what they had, and what they had was wrong. Equipment designed for war in the European countryside, flawed tactics, and grossly inadequate training and command and control led to disaster. The Russian experience does not prove that armor was the wrong answer, only that the Russians had the wrong kind of armor--and used that badly.

The key to the future of armored warfare lies in disregarding what we expect a tank to be in order to focus on what we need the tank of the future to do.

Tomorrow's Armored Force

On those disappearing battlefields that do not center on urban environments and complex terrain, tanks will remain recognizable for at least a generation. We will see changes in lethality, protection, propulsion and weight, but the greatest advance will be in battlefield awareness. On-board, remote, and even strategic sensors will give our tankers a commanding view of the battlefield, and there will be a window of frustration as their vision outstrips their engagement range. Eventually, tanks will gain a much deeper, indirect-fire capability, and sensing munitions will make an increasing proportion of land engagements resemble over-the-horizon naval warfare. These extra-urban tanks will become lighter, and will go faster. Miniaturization of components, from engines through communications gear to ammunition, will pace advances in armor to make systems more rapidly deployable. Eventually, the tank's primary "armor" may be electromagnetic or may otherwise take advantage of physical principles we are only beginning to exploit. We can imagine developments from "battles of conviction," in which opposing combat systems struggle to "convince" each other's electronics to enter vulnerable configurations, to weapons that literally stop opponents in their tracks by manipulating the local environment. Many experiments will fail, but some--possibly the most radical--will succeed.

Despite protection advances, crews will remain the most vulnerable link in the armored warfare system. This will be compounded by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Eventually we will see a variant of remote-control tanks operated by displaced crews that remain well apart from the advance--perhaps as much as a continent away. Rather than merely requiring a private with a toggle switch, the complexity of decisionmaking will probably call for at least a two-man "crew" (per shift) even for robotic tanks. Virtual reality control environments will keep things lively. It is also possible that future tanks will be dual capability--normally directly crewed, but capable of remote operation under extreme threat conditions.

To complement the tanks, we will develop hyper-protective troop carriers to facilitate those dismounted activities indispensable to land warfare. But even here robotics will play a role so that we can operate under conditions created by weapons of mass destruction without soldiers present (although a human battlefield presence will always remain desirable--and usually essential). We may have to rethink mounted operations in the outyears: remotely-crewed vehicles can maneuver through intervening, high-threat terrain while soldiers are air-delivered to link-up points in or near populated areas or complex terrain we cannot ignore. Tangentially, we are likely to develop vehicles with a come-when-I-call robotic capability, as well as specially-intelligent tanks and troop carriers and, further along, "self-healing" vehicles that can repair and even remold themselves in response to battle damage.

"Flying tanks" have long been objects of speculation, but it is likely that fuel-logic and the psycho-physical dynamics of battle will demand grounded systems for many years to come. While attack helicopters already incorporate many of the characteristics previously imagined for flying tanks, we have found them a complement to, not yet a substitute for, armored vehicles. If we do work toward flying tanks--in the interests of systems economy--the more successful approach would probably be to ask how helicopters could change so that they can move, shoot, and survive on the ground. Aircraft are conceptually more mutable than ground systems, and, if the flying tank proponents are right, this might become the back-door means to change the parameters of armored warfare. A very real danger, however, is asking any system to do too many things, resulting in a system that does nothing especially well. Striking a proper balance between specificity of purpose and flexibility of application is a fundamental systems-design problem.

The relationship between direct and indirect fire means will also change. As noted above, tanks will acquire a longer-range precision capability. At the same time, aircraft and then orbital platforms will deliver an ever greater proportion of the firepower we apply to combat in open areas. Great advances are on the horizon for fire coordination, and we are likely to see simultaneous joint attacks on complex targets by tanks, satellites, and hunter-killer computers. As with the Armor branch, Field Artillery needs to break from means- centered models and focus on the required ends. The alternative is to decline into the role of niche player--too heavy to deploy rapidly, too clumsy for urban operations, and a non-player in the information battle. While the goal of warfare will always be to destroy the enemy, the first step today is to inflict systems paralysis on conventional opponents, from air defense systems to command and control--and, increasingly, to national information infrastructures. What will tomorrow's "artillery" look like?

The long-term trend in open-area combat is toward overhead dominance by US forces. Battlefield awareness may prove so complete, and precision weapons so widely-available and effective, that enemy ground-based combat systems will not be able to survive on the deserts, plains, and fields that have seen so many of history's great battles. Our enemies will be forced into cities and other complex terrain, such as industrial developments and inter-city sprawl, where our technical reconnaissance means cannot penetrate or adequately differentiate and our premier killing systems cannot operate as designed. We will become victims of our success. We are becoming so powerful at traditional modes of warfare that we will drive our enemies into environments where our efficiency plummets, our effectiveness drops, and close combat remains the order of the day. We will fight in cities, and we need tanks that can fight and survive in their streets.

The Changing Nature of Cities

Urban operations--the tanker's nightmare--will be the growth area for armored warfare. The world is becoming a network of cities with marginalized hinterlands. Increasingly, cities transcend statehood. In this contradictory world, where nationalism has returned in plague force, nation-states are softening. Cities as diverse as Vancouver, Frankfurt, Moscow, Miami, and Shanghai are growing apart from their parent states, for reasons that range from ethnic shifts in the population base to wealth concentration. Vancouver doesn't need the rest of Canada. Moscow doesn't much want the rest of Russia, except as an ornament of power and a looting ground. Shanghai may not be able to "afford" China indefinitely. Miami has become the shadow capital of Latin America--a focal point of information, culture, investment, banking, society, and exile. Frankfurt am Main is well on the way to becoming a "German" city with an ethnic German minority. An ancient paradigm is reversing: while cities long sucked strength from the diverse resources of the state, the state is increasingly becoming a parasite on the world's more-successful cities. This shift does not apply to cities such as Washington, D.C., or Marseilles, which would collapse entirely without state support, but it is very much the case in boom towns such as Hyderabad, Ho Chi Minh City, and Seattle. In the post-modern American model of dispersed cities, Silicon Valley has to foot the bill for failed governmental models in yesterday's cities--and every useful federal function performed in Washington, D.C. could be transferred profitably to Northern Virginia, were it not for habit and sentimentality. Suburbia is becoming "posturbia," and even in Ireland and Britain, the industries of the future are moving toward capable populations, instead of expecting the hands and minds to relocate to cities where the quality of life is abysmal. In this tiered construct, boom cities pay for failed states, post-modern dispersed cities pay for failed cities, and failed cities turn into killing grounds and reservoirs for humanity's surplus and discards (guess where we will fight).

Human clustering has left behind the village (the primary node of human organization until the middle of the 20th century and humanity's moral arbiter) and is concentrating in these three models: boom cities(Munich, Bangkok, Seoul); reservoir cities, where humanity is held in suspension (Lagos, Johannesburg, Lima, Karachi, Calcutta, Los Angeles proper, Paris); and dispersed cities (the Washington area without the city of Washington, Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles region without the city of Los Angeles). Of note, the dispersion of America's success functions, with the transition of suburbia to a wonderfully livable workplace, is as misunderstood as American culture--decried by elitists, it creates the highest, healthiest, and most desired standard of living in history--just as American culture is the world's all-time bestseller, despite condescending reviews. We're winning again.

We live in the most dynamic age in human history. The city--capstone of human organization--is growing, changing, producing fantastic wealth, and rotting. While numerous factors are involved, the primary catalyst of change is the information revolution. In this Age of Contradiction, the value of information has inflated, while the cost of information has plummeted. Information always generated power; today, it generates wealth at a breathless pace--and cities (including America's "dispersed cities") are humanity's information banks. If we possessed the data to calculate an "information deposit coefficient" for the populations of cities such as the greater Boston area (winner) and Bombay (loser), we would probably be astonished at the per capita informational advantage in Boston. Compounding the problem, the information that is available in the world's loser cities is not only scarce, but generally inaccurate, episodic, and deformed by local prejudice.

While many cities and post-cities are growing richer, more powerful, and more efficient, others--especially in societies with information disorders--are becoming poorer (on a per capita basis), weaker in their ability to self-regulate, and unable to deliver the most basic services that allow human beings to coexist in great densities. Many of these reservoir cities are anarchies attenuated by apathy, and the apathy of the masses can transform itself very quickly into violence. We are entering a period when we will increasingly judge the success of cities and their environs before we concern ourselves with their moldering states. This will not be a global model--countries such as the United States (for all our urban problems) manage to maintain a symbiotic dynamism between city and countryside, bridged by "third way" development: those dispersed cities coalescing from culturally chaste suburbs, satellite enclaves of production, and the workload diffusion characteristic of information mastery. Foreign actors will have to contend with the USA, not just L.A., for the rest of our lifetimes.

But who cares about Upper Egypt if Cairo is calm? We do not deal with Indonesia--we deal with Jakarta. In our recent evacuation of foreigners from Sierra Leone, Freetown was all that mattered. For decades, we dealt not with the government of Zaire, but with the emperor of Kinshasa--and in the recent civil war in that vast African state (now renamed as yet another Congo), military progress was measured not in jungle traversed, but in cities conquered. India is well on the way to becoming a confederation of city-states disguised as a political unity. Hong Kong will be a fascinating laboratory for the relative power of the city versus the state.

There is no global village. The village is dying as a model, and it is dead as a source of power. Instead, a global network of cities and post-cities is emerging, of both the healthy and the faltering, whose elites interact across borders more efficiently and effectively than they interact with the populations of their own hinterlands. Our elites will be inclined to defend foreign elites, even at the expense of our own population (this is already the paradigm of US- Mexican relations and US-Saudi relations). Our future military expeditions will increasingly defend our foreign investments, rather than defending against foreign invasions. And we will fight to subdue anarchy and the violent "isms" because disorder is bad for business. All of this activity will focus on cities.

In the future, the term "urban warfare" will be a redundancy.

New Armor for Urban Warfare

Where does armor fit in? Today's armor, designed for a war that--blessedly--never was, is ill-designed for urban combat. Yet, until better designs reach our soldiers, we will need to make do with what we have. Ideally, that would lead to reassessments of our tactics and reorganization of our units. We have begun to accept the inevitability of urban operations, but the truth is that we are likely to resist significant preparations until a sizable number of our service members have been killed and our nation embarrassed. That is the price we pay for any military paradigm shift following a period of successful organizational performance: the world may have changed, but we won't "mess with success." At a time when the pace of technological and social change is without precedent in human history, our military is clinging to the past. We are behaving like a blue-collar union in a smokestack industry.

We can affect the out-years, though. If you catch decisionmakers on a good day, they can be persuaded to sign up for changes that will not begin to remold the force on their watch. We have a free conceptual environment for anything beyond a decade, and we need to take advantage of it by asking ourselves practical questions about the future employment of armor in urban environments: What do we need that armor to do? How would we like it to do it? What are the extremes of the possible?

Regarding firepower, armor for urban environments will need two types of guns--or one gun that can do a variety of jobs. We will need a crude blasting capability, and we will need maneuverable munitions that can follow an assigned target beyond the limits of pure ballistic trajectories. We need old-fashioned flechette-type munitions--or an innovative substitute--and we need rounds that can penetrate multiple layers of steel and concrete before exploding or otherwise "blooming" a follow-on destructive capability. "Boomerang" weapons that respond instantly to attack and track the assailant until he or it is eliminated would be an especially powerful deterrent. We will need a counter-electronics capability and crowd control "weaponry." It is important not to limit conceptualizing to traditional guns; an ammunition-free technique that achieves the desired effect could become part of our weapons suite. Any means we could develop to isolate portions of the urban battlefield would offer a tremendous advantage. Again, it is essential to focus on the task, not the known means for performing that task.

But the primary job of armored vehicles in urban areas will be to protect maneuver, movement, and resupply. Because urban environments promise endless ambushes, we need new forms of armored protection--not just layers of steel, or laminate, or ceramics, or even reactive armor as it presently exists. Tomorrow's layers of armor will begin with spoofing techniques that complicate target detection on the part of enemy systems, before proceeding to environmental or atmospheric modification capabilities that defeat mines, distort the enemy's perceptions, and disrupt the trajectory and integrity of enemy munitions. Instead of today's rigid hulls and turrets, tomorrow's armor may be malleable, capable of reshaping itself in response to changing threat environments. Self-repair, and, in the following generation, self-healing of battle damage, are logical goals. Finally, "living" armor, with its principles based on biological models, may allow new levels of interaction among man, machine, and environment.

Armored vehicles for urban warfare must also be nimble. While long-range sustained speeds are not a requirement, a sprint capability is essential. The vehicles must be highly maneuverable--at least in some variants. Deployment requirements and the varieties of urban operations suggest a modular approach, either to total armored fighting systems, or at least to troop carriers. The ability to "task organize" vehicle size, power units, armaments, electronic warfare (EW) suites, and battlefield awareness capability is worth pursuing. Vehicles that could operate as compact individual entities or join together to form moving fortresses or to "circle the wagons" offer new flexibility. Armored "mother ships" could "feed" or harbor smaller vehicles and robotic devices. Robotic scouts might climb through rubble, navigate corridors, or explore sewers, followed by team carriers with human decisionmakers and actors. These would be backed up by caterpillar mini-fortresses that hustle through streets and possess not only offensive and defensive environmental controls, but segmentation and self-repair capabilities. The visual signature of our armored systems, to the extent we do not obscure them, should be composed to psychologically disarm the enemy, exploiting research on instinctive reactions to shapes, colors, sounds, and smells. Our systems should be sensually terrifying to opponents and intimidating to populations.

Urban warfare is three-dimensional. Armored vehicles, using drones or ground robotics or hyper-sensors, must not only be able to see into multi-story structures and down into sewers, subways, and service tunnels, but must be able to introduce soldiers--in a protected manner--to upper-story or subterranean zones of operation. Ideally, armored vehicles would be able to caterpillar above or snake below ground level, gripping the lower portions of structures, or entering subterranean passageways. This might be done with deployed subcomponents, such as team-capsule vehicles, or with extensions from master vehicles. The ability to cross exposed "ground" will be essential. A well-designed vehicle or extension might seal against a second story window, "sanitize" the immediate interior, and release soldiers from an armored gate. To some extent, the soldier himself might become an armored entity.

Secured areas might be outposted by robotics and picketed by soldiers cued by local fusion centers that combine intelligence from sources as diverse as miniature roaming sensors and national-level systems. Population control might be established by electronically registering every inhabitant with whom the force comes in contact and alerting in response to any human concentrations that do not fit habitation profiles. Eventually, body signature sensors should identity fear, hostility, or positive demeanors on the part of the locals. Any means that can be developed to separate the hostile actor from the "sea of the people" is highly desirable, since, in urban operations, the enemy's ultimate camouflage is his humanity.

A model urban operation of the future might begin with a massive information operations effort that attacks not only systems but souls. Air and space forces would then isolate the city electronically and through fires, attack pre-selected targets with precision munitions, suppress air defenses, and impose barriers between urban sub-sectors. Army robotics parachute in to secure airfields and landing zones, followed by air-delivered troops with light armored vehicles to extend the perimeter. The next wave includes heavier ground systems and more personnel delivered by air and, in littoral cities, by Navy-Marine operations. Robotic systems push deeper into the urban area, followed by armored reconnaissance "moving fortresses," or combinations of separate vehicles, delivering firepower and dismountable forces to hostile zones. Behind the fighters, military police and intelligence personnel process the inhabitants, electronically reading their attitudes toward the intervention and cataloging them into a database immediately recoverable by every fire team in the city (even individual weapons might be able to read personal signatures, firing immediately upon cueing).

Wherever the enemy resists, joint operations isolate and reduce the threat zone. Smart munitions track enemy systems and profiled individuals. EW actions veil the movement of armored vehicles, remotely exploding mines as the vehicles move forward. Tanks and tank segments deliver direct and smart fires in a final barrage as troop carriers advance. The unit commander designates points of entry, and images of exteriors and interior layouts appear in the carriers for orientation. Carriers leech against buildings and subterranean passage entry points, collapsing the atmosphere at the points of entry to kill or disable any present enemies, before discharging troops. In extremely vertical environments, robotics and troops are air-delivered by systems that can spoof enemy sensors and vision into registering multiple images or completely false images. As soldiers clear the buildings--preceded by their individual sensors--they push their individual weapon's selector switch to "Inhabited," and, upon entering a room, the weapon does not discharge if pointed at a noncombatant without violent intent. Most friendly casualties are lost to enemy suicide attacks or come as the result of physical injuries received during fire and movement within buildings, such as broken limbs. When particularly stiff pockets of resistance develop, smart armor moves in to destroy them or soldiers cue stand-off precision weapons.

Other armored units move swiftly through the city to establish a mobile presence and seize control of line-of-communication nodes and routes of ingress to and egress from the city. In vast conurbations, lightweight, electronically armored systems are airlifted by rotary wing (or post-rotary wing) assets. Satellites monitor the city for any air defense fires, cueing immediate responses from near-space orbiting "guns." Drones track processed inhabitants who have been "read" as potentially hostile and "tagged." Any suspect concentrations draw immediate intervention. Non-lethal weapons control crowds and manage POWs. Operations continue 24 hours a day until the city is cleared of hostiles. When the environment is deemed acceptably safe, United Nations peacekeepers arrive to conduct the long-term operations necessary to restore or create an acceptable government and civil functions. US intelligence and electronic support continues, but US troops return to the United States or to forward bases to prepare for subsequent expeditionary actions.

Many of the hypotheses contained in this essay will never be realized--not because they are too far-fetched, but because they will prove inadequately imaginative. We will develop far more appropriate, incisive, and interesting solutions than those offered here. Yet, even if every avenue of development here proposed is wrongheaded, the urban operations challenge is real, immediate, and growing. We willfight in cities. Even when we are not fighting, we will operate in urban areas and in complex terrain on a variety of missions.

What guidelines will help us to accomplish those missions successfully? In future urban operations, whether in 1997 or 2027, the US military should strive to follow tenets such as these:


  • 1. Extract a clear mission statement from decisionmakers.

    2. Tell the American people there will be friendly casualties.

    3. Establish unity of command and purpose.

    4. Impose rules of engagement that favor US forces, not the enemy.

    5. Deploy more combat power than you think you need, then increase it.

    6. Operate offensively, never passively or defensively, and operate continuously.

    7. Never allow local inhabitants to congregate in mass.

    8. Do the job fast. If the job can't be done fast, get somebody else to do it.

    9. Hand off the pacified city to non-US peacekeepers as soon as possible.

    10. From first to last, fight and win the information war--on all fronts.
The physical contours of warfare have changed dramatically in our time, and they will continue to evolve. Thinking about the problem is a first step. The next step is to begin to prepare our remarkable military for reality.
i asked you to do military outloook on Bangladesh :mad: ......:cry:
 

BDforever

ELITE MEMBER
Feb 12, 2013
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Don't even know where Bangladesh is:p:!

...

Joking, I'm joking, seriously... It's in Africa right:lol:?

But in all seriousness, I'm working on it. I don't really know too much about Bangladesh's military, artillery, Navy or anything else, save for it's used to keep India and Myanmar at bay. Give me some time.



And yes, I actually do know where Bangladesh is. Encompassed by India on three sides (two if you ask the Chinese), the Indian Ocean to the South. North-West of Myanmar - going across the ocean
little correction, Bay of Bengal to the south :D
 

Bagha

FULL MEMBER
Jan 16, 2015
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Don't even know where Bangladesh is:p:!

...

Joking, I'm joking, seriously... It's in Africa right:lol:?

But in all seriousness, I'm working on it. I don't really know too much about Bangladesh's military, artillery, Navy or anything else, save for it's used to keep India and Myanmar at bay. Give me some time.



And yes, I actually do know where Bangladesh is. Encompassed by India on three sides (two if you ask the Chinese), the Indian Ocean to the South. North-West of Myanmar - going across the ocean
Still two if you ask the Chinese, Arunachal Pradesh has no direct border with Bangladesh.:p:
Won't comment here if their claim is right !

little correction, Bay of Bengal to the south :D
And little connection with Myanmar in south east :p:
 

Armstrong

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Don't even know where Bangladesh is:p:!

...

Joking, I'm joking, seriously... It's in Africa right:lol:?

But in all seriousness, I'm working on it. I don't really know too much about Bangladesh's military, artillery, Navy or anything else, save for it's used to keep India and Myanmar at bay. Give me some time.



And yes, I actually do know where Bangladesh is. Encompassed by India on three sides (two if you ask the Chinese), the Indian Ocean to the South. North-West of Myanmar - going across the ocean
Bangladesh...whats that ? :what:

@BDforever Oh does he mean East Pakistan ! :whistle:
 

BDforever

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SvenSvensonov

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The Silent One

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Be nice, I'm just an ignorant American:enjoy:. I can't be bothered to learn geography on other nations. I barely even know my own country!



Probably:partay:. I'm not too familiar with the region. East Pakistan. West India, It's all the same from my perspective.
He was joking :P, at one point Bangladesh was part of Pakistan (and was called "East Pakistan").

I Always found it confusing because Pakistan (the name) is suppose to be an Acronym of all the constituent countries/ethnic groups that compose Pakistan. but there's no B for Bangladeshi :'(
 

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