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Re-establishing a Canadian Armoured Brigade in Europe

FJAG

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An interesting aspect of Defender 2020 was that it included the 116th Armoured Brigade Combat Team from the Idaho National Guard and the 168th Engineer Brigade from the Mississippi National Guard along with the active duty 2nd ABCT from the 3rd Inf Div and the 2nd ABCT from the 1st Armd Div. In short a complete three brigade armored division.

I'll repeat it briefly:

a) the RAND studies show we need armoured brigades in Europe as a credible deterrent force;

b) our allies are basically still relying on armoured brigades;

c) we therefore need, for the time being, the equipment for at least one armoured brigade to be prepositioned in Europe; and

d) we need to develop, equip and annually practice a system, or systems, capable of deploying and sustaining at least one armoured brigade in Europe.

:cheers:
 

jeffb

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FJAG said:
d) we need to develop, equip and annually practice a system, or systems, capable of deploying and sustaining at least one armoured brigade in Europe.

:cheers:

We could always start with an armoured brigade in Canada?  :dunno:
 

GR66

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daftandbarmy said:
It's not 'just about Germany' anymore. The 'Defender' exercies sound like a more suitable, modern day version that takes into account multiple threat scenarios:

Reforger redux? Defender 2020 to be 3rd largest exercise in Europe since Cold War

The Defender 2020 in Europe is set to be the third-largest military exercise on the continent since the Cold War, according to Lt. Gen. Chris Cavoli, the U.S. Army Europe commander.

The division-scaled exercise will test the Army’s ability to deliver a force from “fort in the United States to port in the United States,” and then to ports in Europe, and from there to operational areas throughout Europe from Germany to Poland to the Baltic states and other Eastern European nations, Nordic countries and even Georgia, Cavoli told Defense News in an exclusive interview focused on the big event.

While the Army has gone into some detail about Defender 2020 in the Pacific, U.S. Army Europe has been tight-lipped during the coordination of its version.

While the drill has been compared to the Reforger exercises that happened during the Cold War, that is “not a completely apt comparison” because Reforger exercises were about getting a force into one country — Germany — “to defend a very-known location against a force that we all understood very well,” Cavoli said. He recalled hearing about Reforger exercises as a little boy when his father was an Army officer serving in Europe. “The only thing we didn’t know was what time it was going to happen.”

This time, the Army must deploy a huge force onto the continent, move across and operate in many countries, “and we don’t know what we’ll have to deter or even defend against,” he said.

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2019/10/07/reforger-redux-defender-2020-exercise-to-be-3rd-largest-exercise-in-europe-since-cold-war/

Well colour me uninformed.  I wasn't aware that Defender was going to be an annual exercise.  That's exactly the type of thing that I was thinking of but would love to see it or something similar in other regions.  I think we should be able to deploy at least a Battle Group to these kind of exercises and have the capability to deploy a full Brigade Group in fairly short order in a real crisis without completely breaking the Army.
 

MilEME09

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jeffb said:
We could always start with an armoured brigade in Canada?  :dunno:

Considering the atrocious VOR rate of our tanks, can we start with a running regiment first? We do not have enough tanks in inventory to actually have a viable force that can sustain maintenance losses, let alone combat losses.
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
Well colour me uninformed.  I wasn't aware that Defender was going to be an annual exercise.  That's exactly the type of thing that I was thinking of but would love to see it or something similar in other regions.  I think we should be able to deploy at least a Battle Group to these kind of exercises and have the capability to deploy a full Brigade Group in fairly short order in a real crisis without completely breaking the Army.

There's a bit of trouble with "other regions" and why I favour the prepositioning of equipment close to your most likely theatre of operations or, at the very least, in the area where you wish to create a deterrent effect.

A little backstory. About the time that we were switching to LAVs and building our "agile" force (i.e. the end of the last century), the US Army was working on a massive plan (US$340 billion) to replace the M1 Abrams and M2/M3 Bradley with a whole new suite of equipment under a program called "Future Combat Systems" (FCS) which, amongst other things, was working on both manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. One of the stated requirements of the program was that the US Army would:

...develop the capability to deliver a combat brigade anywhere globally in 96 hours, a division in 120 hours, and five divisions in 30 days.

That requirement fueled the need to create a set of armoured combat vehicles which would be easily transportable by the existing air force fleets of C-130s, C-5s, and C-17s. To meet this requirement of what was then called the "Objective Force" an Interim Armored Vehicle was needed to bridge the gap between the existing very light and unarmoured infantry brigades/divisions and the heavily armored brigades/divisions and as a result work went into high gear on the Stryker version of the LAV 3 and in particular the Mobile Gun System to be the "tank" of this medium weight air transportable organization. In Nov 2000, a US$8 billion contract was awarded to manufacture 2,131 Strykers to equip six rapid deployment brigades by 2008.

By 2005, it became quite clear that the US Air Forces resources were entirely unable to ever be able to meet the Army's initial 96 hour/120 hour requirement even to the closest possible deployment objective areas. The further that the area for deployment was from the continental US the worse the situation became for the Air Force because multiple lifts were always needed and the further away the objective was, the longer the travel time involved. By 2009 the entire FCS was scrapped. There's a lengthy RAND paper produced for the Army in 2012 that summed up the lessons learned from the boondoggle here.

Now put this into our terms on a question of scale and resources. If the US Air Force didn't have the resources to air deploy a brigade of Strykers in 96 hours, then what hope is there of Canada being able to deploy even a battlegroup of LAVs including all of its enablers and sustain them by air.

Basically if we preposition equipment and war stores in Europe then we can fly-on the personnel and, if needed elsewhere in Europe, use the highly developed rail networks in Europe to move them where needed, whether the North flank, or into Slovakia, or Romania or Greece or wherever. We can't preposition equipment everywhere though.

We do have special operations forces and light infantry that we can air deploy in small quantities into low risk environments relatively given sufficient time.

What we don't have is a Navy that has the capability to lift medium and heavy weight forces in a reasonably rapid and efficient manner to either sustain or reinforce the light forces. That basically leaves us out from ever deploying even a LAV force into Africa or the Pacific region unless we rent, borrow or steal a ship from a third party. To me, that's a major capability gap for the Canadian Forces and greatly interferes with our abilities to go into "other regions" in any meaningful way.

:cheers:
 

GR66

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FJAG said:
There's a bit of trouble with "other regions" and why I favour the prepositioning of equipment close to your most likely theatre of operations or, at the very least, in the area where you wish to create a deterrent effect.

A little backstory. About the time that we were switching to LAVs and building our "agile" force (i.e. the end of the last century), the US Army was working on a massive plan (US$340 billion) to replace the M1 Abrams and M2/M3 Bradley with a whole new suite of equipment under a program called "Future Combat Systems" (FCS) which, amongst other things, was working on both manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. One of the stated requirements of the program was that the US Army would:

That requirement fueled the need to create a set of armoured combat vehicles which would be easily transportable by the existing air force fleets of C-130s, C-5s, and C-17s. To meet this requirement of what was then called the "Objective Force" an Interim Armored Vehicle was needed to bridge the gap between the existing very light and unarmoured infantry brigades/divisions and the heavily armored brigades/divisions and as a result work went into high gear on the Stryker version of the LAV 3 and in particular the Mobile Gun System to be the "tank" of this medium weight air transportable organization. In Nov 2000, a US$8 billion contract was awarded to manufacture 2,131 Strykers to equip six rapid deployment brigades by 2008.

By 2005, it became quite clear that the US Air Forces resources were entirely unable to ever be able to meet the Army's initial 96 hour/120 hour requirement even to the closest possible deployment objective areas. The further that the area for deployment was from the continental US the worse the situation became for the Air Force because multiple lifts were always needed and the further away the objective was, the longer the travel time involved. By 2009 the entire FCS was scrapped. There's a lengthy RAND paper produced for the Army in 2012 that summed up the lessons learned from the boondoggle here.

Now put this into our terms on a question of scale and resources. If the US Air Force didn't have the resources to air deploy a brigade of Strykers in 96 hours, then what hope is there of Canada being able to deploy even a battlegroup of LAVs including all of its enablers and sustain them by air.

Basically if we preposition equipment and war stores in Europe then we can fly-on the personnel and, if needed elsewhere in Europe, use the highly developed rail networks in Europe to move them where needed, whether the North flank, or into Slovakia, or Romania or Greece or wherever. We can't preposition equipment everywhere though.

We do have special operations forces and light infantry that we can air deploy in small quantities into low risk environments relatively given sufficient time.

What we don't have is a Navy that has the capability to lift medium and heavy weight forces in a reasonably rapid and efficient manner to either sustain or reinforce the light forces. That basically leaves us out from ever deploying even a LAV force into Africa or the Pacific region unless we rent, borrow or steal a ship from a third party. To me, that's a major capability gap for the Canadian Forces and greatly interferes with our abilities to go into "other regions" in any meaningful way.

:cheers:

Totally agree with the highlighted portion.  I believe I posted a suggestion ages ago that the government should purchase at least two (one for each coast) high speed RO-RO ships under the national shipbuilding strategy.  These could be fitted out with the required military Comms, etc. and a modular helicopter landing pad that could be installed when required.  These ships could be made available to BC Ferries and Marine Atlantic for their use (and upkeep) with the proviso that a number of their crew positions be Class-B Navy Reserve positions and that the ships be made available for 2-weeks annually for exercises.  They would also be available for call-up for full-time service as required by the CF.

For the exercises the CF could practice road/train movement of forces to dockside and loading/unloading procedures and the ships could embark full Naval Reserve crews for training.  It would be a great opportunity for the rest of the RCN and MPA's to practice convoy escort and for the Victorias to practice anti-shipping skills.  These exercises could take place on each coast on an alternating basis.

The ships would be a positive infrastructure boost for both coasts and provide an important military capability for the CF as well.

As for pre-positioning an Armoured Brigade in Europe I'm still not convinced that it is a worthwhile investment as we disagree on the risk of a Russian conventional force invasion of the Baltics.  If anything I'd be more willing to support the pre-positioning of equipment outside the Baltic States (possibly locations being vacated by the US in Germany?).  This would avoid having the pre-positioned equipment being destroyed in place in a sudden attack before we have a chance to fly over troops.  German locations would be less provocative than Baltic or forward Polish positions, unlikely to be targeted for Russian attack in any limited land-grab by the Russians (attacking Germany directly would be a major escalation) but would still give access to the European transportation network.

All that being said, as MilEME09 noted our first priority should be to create a viable combat force in Canada, followed in my mind by a capability to transport a heavy force by sea using our own resources and only then look at pre-positioning forces overseas.

On the light end of the scale, these are the forces that we'd be looking to for rapid deployment by air to any crisis point.  Is the current Brigade structure the best way to organize such forces in light of the relatively limited air transport capabilities we have?  Would organizing our light forces into Battle Groups or Combat Teams that could be more easily be transported and supported without a bunch of ad hoc reorganizations and attachments, etc. be a better way to go?

 

daftandbarmy

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GR66 said:
If anything I'd be more willing to support the pre-positioning of equipment outside the Baltic States (possibly locations being vacated by the US in Germany?).  This would avoid having the pre-positioned equipment being destroyed in place in a sudden attack before we have a chance to fly over troops.  German locations would be less provocative than Baltic or forward Polish positions, unlikely to be targeted for Russian attack in any limited land-grab by the Russians (attacking Germany directly would be a major escalation) but would still give access to the European transportation network.

As per the two biggest wars of the 20th Century, the 'Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier' of the United Kingdom might be the obvious choice for our war stores.

The English Channel: the World's Largest Tank Trap ;)
 

reveng

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daftandbarmy said:
As per the two biggest wars of the 20th Century, the 'Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier' of the United Kingdom might be the obvious choice for our war stores.

The English Channel: the World's Largest Tank Trap ;)

Yup, good old Airstrip One.  ;D
 

LoboCanada

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GR66 said:
Totally agree with the highlighted portion.  I believe I posted a suggestion ages ago that the government should purchase at least two (one for each coast) high speed RO-RO ships under the national shipbuilding strategy.  These could be fitted out with the required military Comms, etc. and a modular helicopter landing pad that could be installed when required.  These ships could be made available to BC Ferries and Marine Atlantic for their use (and upkeep) with the proviso that a number of their crew positions be Class-B Navy Reserve positions and that the ships be made available for 2-weeks annually for exercises.  They would also be available for call-up for full-time service as required by the CF.

I like this idea. A heavily subsidized civilian-military ship, and could use them in the north to help reduce the cost of shipping things up there (since the upkeep could be subsidized too). Reduced costs and fees for food, construction and infrastructure would allow for our North to be more accessible too. Would solve a lot of issues with just one or two of these in the Atlantic.
 

Colin Parkinson

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MilEME09 said:
Considering the atrocious VOR rate of our tanks, can we start with a running regiment first? We do not have enough tanks in inventory to actually have a viable force that can sustain maintenance losses, let alone combat losses.

The fact that we can't maintain the tanks we have are a clear indicator of a broken supply and support system. Start making senior leaders accountable both on the military and Public Works side with demotion, release or lose of pay as consequence for not resolving the issues.
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
Totally agree with the highlighted portion.  I believe I posted a suggestion ages ago that the government should purchase at least two (one for each coast) high speed RO-RO ships under the national shipbuilding strategy.  These could be fitted out with the required military Comms, etc. and a modular helicopter landing pad that could be installed when required.  These ships could be made available to BC Ferries and Marine Atlantic for their use (and upkeep) with the proviso that a number of their crew positions be Class-B Navy Reserve positions and that the ships be made available for 2-weeks annually for exercises.  They would also be available for call-up for full-time service as required by the CF.

For the exercises the CF could practice road/train movement of forces to dockside and loading/unloading procedures and the ships could embark full Naval Reserve crews for training.  It would be a great opportunity for the rest of the RCN and MPA's to practice convoy escort and for the Victorias to practice anti-shipping skills.  These exercises could take place on each coast on an alternating basis.

The ships would be a positive infrastructure boost for both coasts and provide an important military capability for the CF as well.

As for pre-positioning an Armoured Brigade in Europe I'm still not convinced that it is a worthwhile investment as we disagree on the risk of a Russian conventional force invasion of the Baltics.  If anything I'd be more willing to support the pre-positioning of equipment outside the Baltic States (possibly locations being vacated by the US in Germany?).  This would avoid having the pre-positioned equipment being destroyed in place in a sudden attack before we have a chance to fly over troops.  German locations would be less provocative than Baltic or forward Polish positions, unlikely to be targeted for Russian attack in any limited land-grab by the Russians (attacking Germany directly would be a major escalation) but would still give access to the European transportation network.

All that being said, as MilEME09 noted our first priority should be to create a viable combat force in Canada, followed in my mind by a capability to transport a heavy force by sea using our own resources and only then look at pre-positioning forces overseas.

On the light end of the scale, these are the forces that we'd be looking to for rapid deployment by air to any crisis point.  Is the current Brigade structure the best way to organize such forces in light of the relatively limited air transport capabilities we have?  Would organizing our light forces into Battle Groups or Combat Teams that could be more easily be transported and supported without a bunch of ad hoc reorganizations and attachments, etc. be a better way to go?

I like the civilian ferry idea very much. IMHO the most usage by the military would probably be for the planned annual deployment exercises so a large portion of the year would be civilian usage and would keep the ships serviceable. There would obviously need to be contract arrangements that the CAF could rapidly pull a ship off contract for operational needs.

I don't disagree with prepositioning equipment elsewhere other than the Baltics. That's why I considered Poland a viable alternative after due consideration for the issues relating to the Suwalki gap transit. Available infrastructure in Germany would be a bonus although I expect those facilities will quickly be snapped up by German commercial interests.

daftandbarmy said:
As per the two biggest wars of the 20th Century, the 'Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier' of the United Kingdom might be the obvious choice for our war stores.

The English Channel: the World's Largest Tank Trap ;)

Agree re tank trap. I thought maybe the Chunnel's service tunnel might make a good one way speed-corridor across although I'm not so sure it's ventilation system could handle the traffic from thousands of heavy diesel vehicles (and might even be size restricted for some of them). I do note that one of the big issues cropping up frequently in UK defence posture articles re the UK's heavy forces is the question on how to get them onto the continent rapidly. Makes me wonder if there is a viable secret plan for the Chunnel or not.

:cheers:
 

reveng

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Colin P said:
The fact that we can't maintain the tanks we have are a clear indicator of a broken supply and support system. Start making senior leaders accountable both on the military and Public Works side with demotion, release or lose of pay as consequence for not resolving the issues.

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Anyways, if we were dead set on positioning more forces in Europe (and outside the Baltics), I also agree that Poland would be a better choice because they might actually want us there, and it would benefit them economically. Not to mention they actually spend 2% of GDP on their defence budget.

Alternatively, we could always position a well-trained light force in the UK to help cover off places such as Norway.
 

daftandbarmy

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FJAG said:
Agree re tank trap. I thought maybe the Chunnel's service tunnel might make a good one way speed-corridor across although I'm not so sure it's ventilation system could handle the traffic from thousands of heavy diesel vehicles (and might even be size restricted for some of them). I do note that one of the big issues cropping up frequently in UK defence posture articles re the UK's heavy forces is the question on how to get them onto the continent rapidly. Makes me wonder if there is a viable secret plan for the Chunnel or not.

:cheers:

When you really need help during a big conflict, remember to 'get STUFT' :)

http://www.doverferryphotosforums.co.uk/category/pastandpresent/stuft/
 

GR66

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FJAG said:
Agree re tank trap. I thought maybe the Chunnel's service tunnel might make a good one way speed-corridor across although I'm not so sure it's ventilation system could handle the traffic from thousands of heavy diesel vehicles (and might even be size restricted for some of them). I do note that one of the big issues cropping up frequently in UK defence posture articles re the UK's heavy forces is the question on how to get them onto the continent rapidly. Makes me wonder if there is a viable secret plan for the Chunnel or not.

:cheers:

The Brits tested this back in 2017 (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2650265/army-tests-sending-tanks-through-the-channel-tunnel-in-case-of-russian-crisis-in-eastern-europe-after-we-shutter-bases-in-germany/)
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:

Did you notice this part?

It  was carried out by civilian logistics contractors because the Army’s rail transport specialists were axed as a result of defence budget cuts, apart from some reservists.

:facepalm:

Don't know about other folks but loading our M109s in Germany and here in Canada was always the job for the batteries themselves with a walk down check by a railroad rep. Assuming you have the tie-down gear in stock, teaching people to load equipment is a short familiarization done in a half of an afternoon. Last time I looked the British Army probably has a few old salts around that did this too.

The place where you need some specialist skills is in the ordering and spotting of cars and train segments, segment marshalling, coordination with railroad etc., etc.

:cheers:
 

daftandbarmy

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FJAG said:
Did you notice this part?

:facepalm:

Don't know about other folks but loading our M109s in Germany and here in Canada was always the job for the batteries themselves with a walk down check by a railroad rep. Assuming you have the tie-down gear in stock, teaching people to load equipment is a short familiarization done in a half of an afternoon. Last time I looked the British Army probably has a few old salts around that did this too.

The place where you need some specialist skills is in the ordering and spotting of cars and train segments, segment marshalling, coordination with railroad etc., etc.

:cheers:

Things like logistical, medical and signals support always plays second fiddle until the real shooting starts.

I was on a course and had this kind of chubby RAOC Captain in my syndicate who tended to keep to himself. I eventually asked him what his job was. Turned out he was one of the team that ran PLUTO - the Pipeline Under the Ocean - which provided all forces in Germany with fuel. Through a giant pipeline. Under the English Channel.

Made my cheesy little 'rifle company 2IC' gig look a little pale by comparison.
 

Colin Parkinson

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The logistical infrastructure behind D-day (including the first PLUTO pipeline) is awe inspiring 
 

GR66

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daftandbarmy said:
Things like logistical, medical and signals support always plays second fiddle until the real shooting starts.

I was on a course and had this kind of chubby RAOC Captain in my syndicate who tended to keep to himself. I eventually asked him what his job was. Turned out he was one of the team that ran PLUTO - the Pipeline Under the Ocean - which provided all forces in Germany with fuel. Through a giant pipeline. Under the English Channel.

Made my cheesy little 'rifle company 2IC' gig look a little pale by comparison.

I was listening to a podcast interview with author James Holland on "History Hit" about the Normandy invasion.  One fact I found interesting was his description of the composition of the British 2nd Army.  16% Infantry, 7% Armoured, 18% Engineers and 43% Service Corps (and the balance presumably Artillery and other trades).  A good reminder that it's no use having toys if you can't support them.
 

MilEME09

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GR66 said:
I was listening to a podcast interview with author James Holland on "History Hit" about the Normandy invasion.  One fact I found interesting was his description of the composition of the British 2nd Army.  16% Infantry, 7% Armoured, 18% Engineers and 43% Service Corps (and the balance presumably Artillery and other trades).  A good reminder that it's no use having toys if you can't support them.

In WW2 3 in 5 Canadian soldiers were CSS, when you start getting past the Battalion level CSS elements get massive. A COSCOM brigade for example has an entire maintenance Battalion, with an entire Company just for recovery to haul to and from the BLP's, ECP's and to the divisional workshops, on top of supporting lower elements.
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
I was listening to a podcast interview with author James Holland on "History Hit" about the Normandy invasion.  One fact I found interesting was his description of the composition of the British 2nd Army.  16% Infantry, 7% Armoured, 18% Engineers and 43% Service Corps (and the balance presumably Artillery and other trades).  A good reminder that it's no use having toys if you can't support them.

Just on that concept, I've always liked CanadianSoldiers for WW2 establishments. It's always interesting to see the variety of units that make up the higher formations.

:cheers:
 
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