Korea Insanity

     Politicians claim we must keep American soldiers in Korea because its an unstable and dangerous place. Since South Korea is five times more powerful than North Korea, I say we must bring our soldiers home because its unstable and dangerous. Of course the Generals know the threat is bogus, which is why they have their families living like royalty in Seoul.  I recently read where the Pentagon plans to deploy more GIs for a second Korean war than we had in the first one, even though the first war involved one million Chinese and no real South Korean Army.

                                                                                           U.S. Army Sergeant

How we got the M2 Bradley

     You have to recall the context of the times when the Bradley was designed. During the Cold war, we were looking at an inverse force ratio of 1-3 at best and possibly a lot worse in armored/mechanized warfare against Soviet design armored units. In such a situation how do you massively proliferate heavy tank killing weapons without eliminating the infantry entirely? Second problem. Tankers don't like to hear this, but the M1 is so heavily optimized for anti-tank combat that it's useless as an anti-personnel weapon, especially if artillery or mortar fragments are also flying.  The commander has to button up then, the coax machinegun is not so flexible and anti-personnel engagement takes the crew's attention away from enemy tanks and heavy weapons. 

     Prior to the Bradley the mechanized M-113 infantry battalions had 12-18 TOWs depending on the size of the anti-tank platoon. After the Bradley, every squad had a TOW and we still had the 12-18 M113 hull based Improved TOW Vehicles with their excellent hull down shooting capability. The number of heavy TOW tank killers in an infantry battalion zoomed from 12-18 up to around 60+. The 12-18 TOW M-113 battalion design had zero chance against a Soviet tank regiment assault with 100 T-72s and 50 BMPs. The 60+ TOW Bradley design had a very good chance with all those missiles plus the 25mm chain gun which was lethal against anything short of a tank. 

     Is the comparison of a Bradley IFV and a Sherman tank fair?  It seems to be open to the apples and oranges criticism. Isn't the fair comparison the WWII half-track with its .50 caliber machinegun (the APC of that era) and the M2/M3 Bradley? The Bradley doesn't look so bad in that comparison.  One objection to the Bradley battalion (made before it was bought in 1979), and one reason that Shinseki wants 'medium brigades' now, is that a Bradley battalion dismounts many fewer infantry compared to the M113 battalion. At best the squad's ground pounder portion is -6- troops, assuming 100% manning.  The Bradley needs a crew of 3 compared the M-113's 2 man crew. The maintenance and logistics overhead went up also with the proliferation of heavy weapons.

     We recognized that these units had almost no urban combat capability, at least in close combat. They're not something we'd ever send to jungles of course except in limited numbers. A tough choice, eh? The bigger risk in 1978 seemed to be the Soviet tank regiment breaking through so stopping that became Job #1. The one known factor was that M-113s could not carry both TOWs and a squad or even a fire team. You can only put so many marbles in a given size can no matter how artistically you pack them in.

     The next problem was the emerging mobility gap between the M1 and the M113. The M1 is much more mobile than the M-60,.  The M-113 was contemporary to the M-60 and couldn't keep up with M1s. M2-M3 does keep up with M1s.  Is the Bradley the best possible infantry carrier for a full squad? Nope. That was the inherent trade-off given available 1970s technology for radically increasing the tank killing power of 9 man infantry units. Was the conception of increasing the tank killing power correct? Absolutely. A somewhat more compact design (but still larger than the M-113) was possible. Designs incorporating a TOW and a 20mm but no big turret were looked at and might have been better. 

     That turret is the deceptive part. The Bradley is not a tank, despite having a turret and irrespective of what Barry McCaffrey was saying in the late 1980s. Think of it as a super-gun shield better than the .50 calibers M-113s had in Vietnam. The next consideration that caused the turret to be picked was chemical warfare and the desire for a fully enclosed design to protect the crew. The last consideration is that the TOW launcher has to be pivotable however you achieve that. It's inherent to the design of the TOW guidance system. Ground mounted TOWs pivot on a tripod. Jeep and HMMWV TOWs pivot on a pintle. Cobra mounted TOWs pivot around the aircraft rotor axle. The ITV is really an M-113 hull carrying a pop-up turret. 

     The real choice was therefore between a tiny turret for the TOW only or a larger turret incorporating the TOW and guns. If one is dead-set against turrets in infantry vehicles but still wants a heavy anti-tank missile then a completely new missile was necessary. The TOW was fully developed and combat proven at An Loc in 1972 and a year later in the Sinai.  This vehicle was optimized to fight with the M1 against Soviet armored forces using chemical warfare in central Europe and the Mid-East.  To say that it's not ideal for Bosnian peacekeeping or Just Cause in Panama is true and irrelevant. I still think a better and lighter design with better amphibious capability was possible. But we certainly should not spend the money to build that better vehicle now. 

                                                          Mark Gallmeier enigma@gate.net

Huge Glide Bombs

     Carlton Meyer suggested bombs of 150,000 to 400,000 lbs that can be dropped from the rear ramps of transport aircraft. An alternate idea is to construct such a bomb in a large glider. This would allow the use of bombs too large to fit in the transport aircraft, or allow the bombs to be deployed by other types of aircraft. The giant glider bombs could be released at some distance from the target and given some mechanism of remote steering. Alternately, the wings could be jettisoned on command by explosive bolts, causing the bomb to drop immediately.

     The "guided glider" concept could be used for smaller bombs as a stealth cruise missile.  Another potential use for remote controlled gliders is as a re-supply aircraft. A cheap one-use glider could be loaded with food, water and munitions and flown towards a ground unit. Some form of auxiliary propulsion might extend the range. The final component of the glider's approach may be controlled directly by the ground unit being resupplied.

     Yet another use for a glider is as a troop transport that could be dropped from a aircraft at high altitude, such as a military version of a 747 masquerading as an commercial airliner. This will probably glide with body lift rather than that produced by wings. Naturally the aircraft is pressurized and stealthed. Depending on mission profile, troops may either land with the glider or jump from it when at low altitude. The glider itself may deploy parachutes to land vertically.

                                            Phil West    phil.west@angelfire.com


The OICW vs Body Armor

     The OICW article is interesting. The 10 year development of this gadget has a hit a dead-end. The only thing to do with OICW at this time is send it to the ordnance museum at Abeerdeen. It suffers from a terminal lack of lethality in both directions.

     The US Army is already buying 7.62mm proof body armor in the Interceptor program
What they need to do is first define where infantry protection will be 10 years from now, or technologically could be if an adversary chooses to develop this technology. Then they need to specify the projectile performance to punch through that.  Twenty years too late the US Army is buying 7.62mm chest/back bullet proof vests which are frag proof all over the torso. Now sense set in and they're buying 9mm proof helmets for everyone and not just SOCOM. But all the body armor available now was developed in response to Department of Justice specs for police armor. The fragmented and small scale market led to undercapitalized R&D efforts, which still produced effective armor. 

     WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A GOVERNMENT SOMEPLACE PUTS $1 BILLION BEHIND INFANTRY PROTECTION R&D? Imagine a squad of 80% 7.62mm proof soldiers (and 95% frag proof) charging our current infantry platoon. The rudderless course we're following has put us on a collision course with technological surprise. 

    You see where this is leading. It doesn't start or end with the OICW. Most of our current anti-personnel weapons inventory is in very serious technological trouble. HE propelled fragments will not go where 7.62mm NATO ball (or even 5.56mm ball) failed to penetrate. Short of 12.7mm we really don't have anything that is a dependable personnel killer in this emerging battlefield. And 12.7mm weapons are few enough to justify an enemy PGM. 

     This kind of defense/offense technological race is not new. In the first half of the 20th Century it was battleships and armor vs gunpower. In the second half it was tanks in that same armor/gunpower race. Now infantry is in this derby but general recognition has not yet set in. It hasn't set in the USA and I pray it hasn't set in China. In my own opinion the 'Dreadnought' race of the early 21st Century will be in the infantry.

                                                    Mark Gallmeier enigma@gate.net

M1 Troop Carrier

     The M1 APCs you mention are interesting -such vehicles were created in WW2 by commonwealth forces are were termed "kangeroos"-because of their better armor, some of these were mounted with the flamethrowing apparatus usually used on universal carriers. The Russians have already created APCs from tank chassis (as have the Israelis) and these have been termed TPCs.

                           Phil West phil.west@angelfire.com