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Armoured RECCE

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Didn't find a thread on this that would not require some dark magics to resurrect from the dead.

Article in the CMJ on Armored Recce. Wanted to get some of the experienced "second-black-hatters" opinions on it.

Role of Canadian Armoured Recon...

The first para references the Armour School has made some changes since this article was researched. What changes and where are we going now?
 

RedFive

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My experience being limited to sitting through some power points and some pre-study for whatever the newest version of Armoured Crew Commander becomes this summer, I can tell you this. At it's core, the new "Cavalry" model is using tactics that in the Canadian Army reserved for heavy armour (and accompanying infantry? Well outside my lane there) of speed, aggression, firepower and mobility and applying it to medium/light forces. TAPV and G Wagon for PRes, TAPV and LAV6 (I've been told anyways, again well outside my arcs) for the RegF. No more are the tactics of sneak and peak recce kicking out dismounts and a heavy reliance on OP's.

In order to do this, there is rumour (and nothing more to my knowledge) of adding heavier armament to the TAPV, which was said to be M2 .50's to the RWS variants and adding an AT capability to the slick tops, which are right now just about useless to the RCAC. Again, rumour only and definitively outside my arcs as a mere Corporal in a PRes unit.

I am far from an expert and stand to be corrected. My attendance has been poor during the initial stages of this transition due to my civilian employment.
 

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My experience being limited to sitting through some power points and some pre-study for whatever the newest version of Armoured Crew Commander becomes this summer, I can tell you this. At it's core, the new "Cavalry" model is using tactics that in the Canadian Army reserved for heavy armour (and accompanying infantry? Well outside my lane there) of speed, aggression, firepower and mobility and applying it to medium/light forces. TAPV and G Wagon for PRes, TAPV and LAV6 (I've been told anyways, again well outside my arcs) for the RegF. No more are the tactics of sneak and peak recce kicking out dismounts and a heavy reliance on OP's.

In order to do this, there is rumour (and nothing more to my knowledge) of adding heavier armament to the TAPV, which was said to be M2 .50's to the RWS variants and adding an AT capability to the slick tops, which are right now just about useless to the RCAC. Again, rumour only and definitively outside my arcs as a mere Corporal in a PRes unit.

I am far from an expert and stand to be corrected. My attendance has been poor during the initial stages of this transition due to my civilian employment.
So referring back to the paper, it's leaning more towards US/UK style F1 Tactical Recce situation, where you fight more for your information (define function). I'm assuming that RPAS or UAS are there to provide the S echelon recce (find function)?

Where does Recce Platoon fit into this construct? They are usually in light vehicles or on foot. Are they a lower organizational level recce asset that belongs to say the Battalion Commander vice the Brigade Commander who owns the Armoured Recce elements?
1648907519414.png

*I may have just stated the entirety of my army tactical knowledge it that post... lol
 

KevinB

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So referring back to the paper, it's leaning more towards US/UK style F1 Tactical Recce situation, where you fight more for your information (define function). I'm assuming that RPAS or UAS are there to provide the S echelon recce (find function)?

Where does Recce Platoon fit into this construct? They are usually in light vehicles or on foot. Are they a lower organizational level recce asset that belongs to say the Battalion Commander vice the Brigade Commander who owns the Armoured Recce elements?
View attachment 69841

*I may have just stated the entirety of my army tactical knowledge it that post... lol
I’ve never bought into Armored Recce in the concept that Canada seems to have a fascination with. Mainly as I don’t think that a scouting/screening role can be done viably by Light Armor forces anymore.

I think that role is Nil for a high intensity conflict against even Near Peer foes.

Mud (Infantry foot borne) Recce for certain applications can still work, but even then it’s limited by terrain and Enemy capabilities.
 

Infanteer

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Digging up a similar topic from 15 years ago.

 

RedFive

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So referring back to the paper, it's leaning more towards US/UK style F1 Tactical Recce situation, where you fight more for your information (define function). I'm assuming that RPAS or UAS are there to provide the S echelon recce (find function)?

Where does Recce Platoon fit into this construct? They are usually in light vehicles or on foot. Are they a lower organizational level recce asset that belongs to say the Battalion Commander vice the Brigade Commander who owns the Armoured Recce elements?
View attachment 69841

*I may have just stated the entirety of my army tactical knowledge it that post... lol
Great questions I am entirely unqualified to answer. But I suspect we're so early on in this transition, most people cant answer those questions.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I feel we gave up capacity with the loss of the Coyote, even though it was more of a "watcher" from our own lines. With the advent of small UAV's much of the sneak and peak is obsolete. I think modern recce needs a small element good at sneak and peak, supported by a heavier element capable of fighting for information and both have integrated small UAV to probe with.
 

Kirkhill

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I was interested in some comments and how they compare with the current Ukrainian situation

Communications

If a unit conducting reconnaissance cannot communicate, it
is neutralized. Currently, information gained by reconnaissance
forces would likely not be transmittable back to headquarters
due to extensive EW jamming.
33 Communications jamming also
means that command and control methods need to be changed
(although the particular military franglais spoken in some 12 RBC
squadrons might just be the best crypto available). Reconnaissance
squadrons are notoriously chatty and too reliant on radios, out
of convenience, often forgoing more discrete communications
such as hand signals.

Jamming seems to have been a lot less of an issue than had been anticipated. Or is it that due to prior negative experiences in the last 8 years of working against the Russians the Ukrainians have adopted work arounds in tactics and technology that have rendered Russian capabilities less effective?

Massed Anti-Air

Russia is keenly aware of NATO air superiority and as a result
has integrated anti-air from strategic weapons down to the lowest
level. Russian AA systems presently cover over half of Poland34
and this means that RCAC forces will have to be far more self-reliant,
not only for close air support
, but also for resupply and
casualty evacuations.

I note he assumes friendly air superiority and is calling for his own personal air force. Presumably Loitering Munitions fill that gap but self-reliance on Air Defence also seems called for.

Tanks and Reactive Armour

Russia has been described as an artillery army with lots of
tanks. In the past few years, Russia has begun installing reactive
armour and new fire control systems on its older T series tanks,
making them once again relevant on modern battlefields
.35 Despite
all the attention the T-14 received, thousands of T-72s, T-80s
and T-90s are still the primary threat. The use of enemy armour
accentuates the lack of Canadian armour. The reality is that
the best anti-tank weapon is a better tan
k, which Canada does
have in the Leopard 2, just not in sufficient quantities due to
budgetary constraints.

Curiously he calls for AT weapons on his "scouting" platform but doesn't seem to have a lot of faith in them. He still sees the tank as an anti-tank weapon as opposed to a weapon that can also kill tanks.

If the current fracas is suggesting anything it is that his "scouting" platform, armed with medium and long-range ATGMs, including LAMs, would generate a more effective screen than the author perhaps envisions.

By far the most interesting part of the article in the current context was this one

Counter Tactics – Colonel Zabrodskyi’s Raid

The previous paragraphs may give the impression
that NATO forces are outmatched, but that is not
the case. Russia and most militaries from authoritative
cultures possess several weaknesses. They are often very
hierarchical, and decision-making power is concentrated at
the upper levels. They also have large groups of conscripts or
poorly trained soldiers, and while they do have elite regulars,
these are not in large numbers.

This certainly seems to have been an astute observation.

This means that the Russian army is most dangerous at the tip.
This fact was exploited by Col (later Major-General) Mykhailo
Zabrodskyi when he was commander of the Ukrainian 95th Air
Assault Brigade.

From19 July to 10 August 2014, the 95th, with elements from other
mechanized and air assault brigades conducted a 470 km raid

to relieve forces trapped at the border.36 They moved rapidly
and used captured enemy armor and supplies to great effect,
destroying three hostile enemy checkpoints on the way. The
speed at which they advanced neutralized much of the Russian
advantages
as they were unable to react quickly to forces
operating behind them
. In the end, the 95th air assault brigade
was able to create a corridor that permitted the evacuation of
3,000 personnel and 250 pieces of equipment, while destroying
numerous Russian checkpoints.37

That suggests an insight into how the Ukrainians were able to stymie the Russians. Yes the Russians were road bound. And the Ukrainians probably are as well. And yes the Ukrainians own the countryside and the towns with their Territorials and Volunteers with their NLAWs and Javelins.

But what if they have been employing Zabrodyski tactics all this time? Using their internal lines of communication to run roads parallel to the Russians to get into the Russian rear and then rapid strikes against those long columns? As long as the Ukrainians can contest the air, and the airwaves, then strike columns would have a chance.

Col Zabrodskyi’s method of warfare can be adapted by the
RCAC. Reconnaissance squadrons, upgraded with an AT capability
can form highly mobile raiding units that strike deep into enemy
territory to take out key objectives. The LAV 6 is well suited for
this, as the back of the vehicle can be used to store supplies to
increase the amount of time that reconnaissance troops can act
independently of their logistics echelons. A rapid counter-attack
is the best option to swing the momentum of battle in a limited
war where NATO forces are likely to start on the defensive. This
method seems riskier at first glance, but the riskiest place to be is
at the tip of the Russian spear. It is far better to accept a lack of
logistics support than to be constantly under the threat of enemy
observation and artillery fire.

Interesting concept - more autonomy for the RCAC as Long Range Raiding Squadrons. Complete with AT, Air Force and AD.

However that starts to sound to me as if it is starting to poach on turf claimed by the Infantry. Not that I disagree with the concept.

It makes more sense to me to fill the back of the LAVs with fuel, water, IMPs, bullets and missiles.
 

FJAG

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Interesting concept - more autonomy for the RCAC as Long Range Raiding Squadrons. Complete with AT, Air Force and AD.
And artillery. That's what the UK Strike concept works toward.

The issue isn't so much sneak and peak v. fighting for information. The issue is finding, communicating and having the Act capabilities to "strike" be it air or aviation or artillery or UCAVs or loitering munitions or ATGMs. The "find" components can be a suite of different systems as well.

Find and strike.

🍻
 

TangoTwoBravo

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I do not think that the ongoing war in Ukraine goes against the idea of armoured reconnaissance. At the end of the day, it is better to risk folks who are sneaking and peaking in their patrol of AFVs to a platoon or company of AFVs trundling into a kill zone. UAVs can give us all sorts of information, but they are limited by things like weather and also struggle to tell you how the going is.

Additionally, it appears that modern peer warfare involves low troop densities. Having mounted reconnaissance troops who can conduct security tasks in the gaps is still valuable.
 

PuckChaser

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UAVs, unless they are completely autonomous and can complete their mission without a rear link, are incredibly vulnerable to peer EW systems. Especially the small and COTS ones. If Russia was able to have a coherent theatre-level EW plan there would be highly different conclusions about the usefulness of UAVs over actual sneak and peek recce.
 

FJAG

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UAVs, unless they are completely autonomous and can complete their mission without a rear link, are incredibly vulnerable to peer EW systems. Especially the small and COTS ones. If Russia was able to have a coherent theatre-level EW plan there would be highly different conclusions about the usefulness of UAVs over actual sneak and peek recce.
This is why you have to have a suite of capabilities - from basic artillery to high tech systems - that can work through or around such defensive measures. EW has limits as well and is susceptible to counterstrikes.

At the moment it's quite clear that the Russians do not have a coherent theatre-level EW capability based on the Ukrainian systems that are getting through to their targets.

I'm not against sneak and peak no more than I am against strike brigade type forces or whatever cavalry is destined to become. I just want to make sure that sneak and peak recce doesn't become Canada's default armour role just because its cheap.

I'm in favour of balanced combined arms forces and especially I'm for replacing all the weapon systems that Canada's Army has pulled out of its inventory during its two decades of voluntary disarmament. We've seen systems and strategies that work against the Russians, and while I'm not one for arming to fight the last war, i.e Ukraine, Canada is currently armed to fight one we gave up on a decade ago.

🍻
 

KevinB

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UAVs, unless they are completely autonomous and can complete their mission without a rear link, are incredibly vulnerable to peer EW systems. Especially the small and COTS ones. If Russia was able to have a coherent theatre-level EW plan there would be highly different conclusions about the usefulness of UAVs over actual sneak and peek recce.
I’d argue that if Enemy EW target a UAV, that a partial aspect of the ISR platform has been fulfilled. You know that someone can see/sense/target/destroy-impede your UAV.

The Screen team could be a Tank Troop, with IFV Infantry Company - that was supported with fires and ISR - and the UAV being disabled would given sufficient notice that one wasn’t alone…

If one had ground based ISR capabilities in that Screen as well they could give you a decent direction and distance to the source of the EW activity as well (providing it wasn’t massive theatre wide issues).

I just don’t see what a LAV/Coyote Troop brings to the party in this day and age, as it can’t fight it’s way out of contact with a near peer force.
 

McG

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Canada’s cavalry concept, as explained to me, is that recce and “sabre” tasks are just activities on opposing ends of a cavalry capability spectrum; and a TAPV can do any task a tank can do while a tank can also do any task that a TAPV can do. Obviously, terrain and threat will dictate which platform is better in any given incident. But, we are now supposed to be comfortable employing either platform anywhere on the cavalry spectrum of tasks.
 

KevinB

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Canada’s cavalry concept, as explained to me, is that recce and “sabre” tasks are just activities on opposing ends of a cavalry capability spectrum; and a TAPV can do any task a tank can do while a tank can also do any task that a TAPV can do. Obviously, terrain and threat will dictate which platform is better in any given incident. But, we are now supposed to be comfortable employing either platform anywhere on the cavalry spectrum of tasks.
Yes I can totally see how they are interchangeable
:rolleyes:
TAPV.jpgPhoto-Leopard-2-1024x580.jpg
 

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UAVs, unless they are completely autonomous and can complete their mission without a rear link, are incredibly vulnerable to peer EW systems. Especially the small and COTS ones. If Russia was able to have a coherent theatre-level EW plan there would be highly different conclusions about the usefulness of UAVs over actual sneak and peek recce.
If we are talking peer, as soon as that EW lights up everyone in 10+km is going to know exactly where that EW station is. And it's going to get shelled. Constant emissions like that you might as well send up a flare. As @KevinB stated then you've probably done part of the job as a birddog (though in reverse, the bird flushes out the dog ;)).

So for tactical small UAV's I would not think that EW would actually be used, (barring close-range DEW's) by a peer adversary. T

To bring it back to Armoured Recce in a CA construct, small UAS for the Recce elements might be something to try out. Being able to take a look a few bounds ahead before moving has to be valuable. The problem is if you are moving every 10min (as per the initial article) to avoid being targeted how do you set up a UAS system to do that? Do you have one launched directly from the vehicle and then fly a set pattern, doing a burst broadcast of the data when the pattern is complete? Is it disposable because launch and recovery could give away your position?

I do not think that the ongoing war in Ukraine goes against the idea of armoured reconnaissance. At the end of the day, it is better to risk folks who are sneaking and peaking in their patrol of AFVs to a platoon or company of AFVs trundling into a kill zone. UAVs can give us all sorts of information, but they are limited by things like weather and also struggle to tell you how the going is.
But isn't the whole point of the article that S echelon tasks ( sneek and peak) aren't the way most armies do armoured recce right now? French do it a little still but the US doesn't do this at all, and the UK is moving away from it. RCAC vehicles are not designed for this S task and the doctrine is muddled.

Or am I missing something?

Additionally, it appears that modern peer warfare involves low troop densities. Having mounted reconnaissance troops who can conduct security tasks in the gaps is still valuable.
This is one of the tasks that we non-army types forget/don't know about. The security tasks, watching the flanks and gaps.

This is another argument for those elements to have ATGM so that they can blunt whatever comes their way. Right now their response to anything that isn't light vehicles and infantry is to call for help.
 

KevinB

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To bring it back to Armoured Recce in a CA construct, small UAS for the Recce elements might be something to try out. Being able to take a look a few bounds ahead before moving has to be valuable. The problem is if you are moving every 10min (as per the initial article) to avoid being targeted how do you set up a UAS system to do that? Do you have one launched directly from the vehicle and then fly a set pattern, doing a burst broadcast of the data when the pattern is complete? Is it disposable because launch and recovery could give away your position?
We are talking about Bde and Higher Recce functions - so a Bde level (or higher) UAS could be used, as well as "local" UAS.
Additionally a part of the Recce function may also be able to be controlled via RPV Ground Systems controlled by the Cbt Team on a flank - that can mount a mobile defense - or set the stage for an attack as appropriate.
But isn't the whole point of the article that S echelon tasks ( sneek and peak) aren't the way most armies do armoured recce right now? French do it a little still but the US doesn't do this at all, and the UK is moving away from it. RCAC vehicles are not designed for this S task and the doctrine is muddled.

Or am I missing something?
I think its the RCAC that is missing something IMHO.
This is one of the tasks that we non-army types forget/don't know about. The security tasks, watching the flanks and gaps.

This is another argument for those elements to have ATGM so that they can blunt whatever comes their way. Right now their response to anything that isn't light vehicles and infantry is to call for help.
An Infantry Heavy CBT Team with ATGM mounted IFV and ISR Cell with both UAS and Ground RPV can do that much better IMHO with less risk to a sole LAV/TAPV or Tank based formation -- the TAPV if it wasn't spontaneously combusting (which hopefully gets fixed shorty) would be a decent convoy escort vehicle.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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If we are talking peer, as soon as that EW lights up everyone in 10+km is going to know exactly where that EW station is. And it's going to get shelled. Constant emissions like that you might as well send up a flare. As @KevinB stated then you've probably done part of the job as a birddog (though in reverse, the bird flushes out the dog ;)).

So for tactical small UAV's I would not think that EW would actually be used, (barring close-range DEW's) by a peer adversary. T

To bring it back to Armoured Recce in a CA construct, small UAS for the Recce elements might be something to try out. Being able to take a look a few bounds ahead before moving has to be valuable. The problem is if you are moving every 10min (as per the initial article) to avoid being targeted how do you set up a UAS system to do that? Do you have one launched directly from the vehicle and then fly a set pattern, doing a burst broadcast of the data when the pattern is complete? Is it disposable because launch and recovery could give away your position?


But isn't the whole point of the article that S echelon tasks ( sneek and peak) aren't the way most armies do armoured recce right now? French do it a little still but the US doesn't do this at all, and the UK is moving away from it. RCAC vehicles are not designed for this S task and the doctrine is muddled.

Or am I missing something?


This is one of the tasks that we non-army types forget/don't know about. The security tasks, watching the flanks and gaps.

This is another argument for those elements to have ATGM so that they can blunt whatever comes their way. Right now their response to anything that isn't light vehicles and infantry is to call for help.
One criticism I have of the article is that the author uses non-doctrinal terms. In the Canadian Army for the situation that the author portrays we have medium and close reconnaissance. Medium reconnaissance works for a formation (Bde and Div) and finds the enemy. Close reconnaissance works for a unit/BG and defines the enemy. I agree that contact with a combat team will further define the enemy - all those SITREPs and additional eyes will certainly further develop the contact. They are developing that contact, though, for the Cbt Tm or perhaps BG CO. Meanwhile, Brigade recce is looking deeper to enable the Bde Comd's decision-making.

Bde Recce says in its Find role says "BMP platoons in defensive positions at Grid XXX XXX and XXX XXX with a mixed minefield running from Gr XXX XXX to XXX XXX" Later, following the handoff between Medium and Close Recce the infantry recce platoons will report where the sections are located and precise dimensions of the obstacles etc. The infantry recce will also be determining possible attack positions, firebases etc. Medium recce folks can also do that, but their attentions will likely be elsewhere.

The US Army has undergone many reorganization, but the new heavy divisions will absolutely have Div Cav and Bde Cav organizations with a mixture of tank and scouts. I took the US Army Cavalry Leader's Course some twenty years ago. There is a misconception that US Cavalry just goes in guns blazing to find the enemy. METT-T will always determine the tactics in a given situation, but the Scout Troops in M3 Bradleys still sneak around - they don't have a death wish. The tank platoons follow along to be able to create the opportunity for the Scouts to continue their tasks. The package of a Cav Tp is well suited for Guard tasks in addition to reconnaissance.

At the end of the day, a reconnaissance organization will employ the techniques required to obtain the required information in the time required for decision-making. Could a Combat Team conduct a zone reconnaissance or screen a flank/gap? Sure. Would that be an efficient use of resources? Probably not. Could a combat team be part of an unit or grouping conducting a guard? Absolutely.

There are certainly mini and micro UAS projects and capabilities for our recce organizations. While our Coyotes are being replaced there will still be LAV Recce with sensor suites in addition to the TAPVs.

So if you are a formation commander attempting to determine which axis of advance on which to send your combat elements do you want to send a combat team down each one to determine the "going" as well as enemy presence or would you rather have ground manouevre reconnaissance elements lead the way - folks who have the training to execute that task and, to be pragmatic, mean that you are risking one or two vehicles to ambush or boggy terrain rather than your combat teams?
 
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