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Joint Force Arsenal

FJAG

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Let’s be honest the Air Force in Afghanistan was operating as Artillery. They didn’t have a real job and thus made one for themselves.

COIN operations can’t be used as a template for conventional operations or planning. The Taliban didn’t have higher formations and strategic depth (in the sense of actual formed units). So deep strike missions didn’t occur (albeit we should have blasted a lot of Pakistan).
I think that there is a caveat there. In 2002 the Taliban did have formed formations and the use of the air resources by the ODAs and others that went in to work with the Northern Alliance was inspired if not outright brilliant. With time the US Army and the Brits were replacing its mortars only concept with some light artillery. Effectively they continued to default to air power. Canada's M777s were certainly appreciated by both the Brits and the US SOF when deployed in support of them on several occasions. Our FOOs were very fond of the Predators followed in no particular order by the M777s and A10s. Our guns had to frequently leave the FOBs for austere desert gun positions for specific ops simply because of the vastness of the country and range issues.

The Division has to be a generalist organization and it has to have an array of tools available to it. Even if it only employs its elements as Companies and Battalions.
The question here is how we use the term "generalist". Divisions really aren't generalists hence armoured, infantry, airborne, airmobile and now penetration and heavy divisions. On one level, divisions can be quite specialized while admittedly they are aggregates of various combat and sustainment entities. If one uses aggregation as the trigger for specialization then and infantry battalion with rifles, recce, mortars, anti-armour and CSS is a generalist organization too. But it isn't. Just like a division a battalion has effectors - companies while divisions have BCTs - and enablers - combat support and combat service support companies while divisions have cavalry, artillery engineers and CSS battalions and brigades.

I think that your problem starts with this.
In the Sandbox Divisional Areas of Operation were vast. It was necessary to disperse assets. That required freeing up subordinate units and granting then responsibility and authority (autonomy) to act independently. It also required granting them budget (people, kit and consummables) to be able to act on their own recognizance.

The Division was more of an Administrative entity as it focus on operations in support of strategic objectives.
Firstly, there were no divisions in Afghanistan, they were Task Forces staffed by elements from various divisional headquarters which were specifically organized to meet certain tasks. Secondly, they did not grant "autonomy" to the subordinate brigades and units. Giving a subordinate element responsibility and authority for an AO does not equate to granting autonomy. Senior TF HQs stayed very involved in their subordinates operations as well as resource management. They were much more than mere Administrative entities.

We should not confuse "Sandbox" TFs with what is happening in the US with the refocus on specialized divisions.

You're right that there will be different scenarios in a peer-to-peer conflict that will require a different way of fighting them. This is why there are different types of divisions and a theatre or corps headquarters which will position and task the appropriate division to meet the various challenges.

As Canadians we have a natural inclination to want to form all-singing and all-dancing groupings. That gets us back to the 'Jack of all trades, master of none analogy'. Probably the best Swiss Army knife division will be the US Waypoint 2028 Standard Heavy which mixes two ABCTs with one SBCT and, assuming for the moment Canada might actually move towards a deployable division concept, its LAV based CMBGs could probably equate to a lighter version of a Standard Heavy.

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daftandbarmy

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No, it's rocket control :sneaky:

Joke Drums GIF by Bax Music
 

Kirkhill

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I think that there is a caveat there. In 2002 the Taliban did have formed formations and the use of the air resources by the ODAs and others that went in to work with the Northern Alliance was inspired if not outright brilliant. With time the US Army and the Brits were replacing its mortars only concept with some light artillery. Effectively they continued to default to air power. Canada's M777s were certainly appreciated by both the Brits and the US SOF when deployed in support of them on several occasions. Our FOOs were very fond of the Predators followed in no particular order by the M777s and A10s. Our guns had to frequently leave the FOBs for austere desert gun positions for specific ops simply because of the vastness of the country and range issues.


The question here is how we use the term "generalist". Divisions really aren't generalists hence armoured, infantry, airborne, airmobile and now penetration and heavy divisions. On one level, divisions can be quite specialized while admittedly they are aggregates of various combat and sustainment entities. If one uses aggregation as the trigger for specialization then and infantry battalion with rifles, recce, mortars, anti-armour and CSS is a generalist organization too. But it isn't. Just like a division a battalion has effectors - companies while divisions have BCTs - and enablers - combat support and combat service support companies while divisions have cavalry, artillery engineers and CSS battalions and brigades.

I think that your problem starts with this.

Firstly, there were no divisions in Afghanistan, they were Task Forces staffed by elements from various divisional headquarters which were specifically organized to meet certain tasks. Secondly, they did not grant "autonomy" to the subordinate brigades and units. Giving a subordinate element responsibility and authority for an AO does not equate to granting autonomy. Senior TF HQs stayed very involved in their subordinates operations as well as resource management. They were much more than mere Administrative entities.

We should not confuse "Sandbox" TFs with what is happening in the US with the refocus on specialized divisions.

You're right that there will be different scenarios in a peer-to-peer conflict that will require a different way of fighting them. This is why there are different types of divisions and a theatre or corps headquarters which will position and task the appropriate division to meet the various challenges.

As Canadians we have a natural inclination to want to form all-singing and all-dancing groupings. That gets us back to the 'Jack of all trades, master of none analogy'. Probably the best Swiss Army knife division will be the US Waypoint 2028 Standard Heavy which mixes two ABCTs with one SBCT and, assuming for the moment Canada might actually move towards a deployable division concept, its LAV based CMBGs could probably equate to a lighter version of a Standard Heavy.

🍻

As Canadians, or Americans, we have to adjust to suit the situation. The Americans had Cold War Divisions. They worked for the invasion of Iraq. They didn't work to police Iraq and Afghanistan. The same people had to be retasked to manage both scenarios.

And then they had to be re-retasked to meet the current perceived threat.

We have smaller numbers - roughly 1/10th.

That means that even with the same effort the Yanks put into their affairs, and manage to produce 10 to 12 divisions

2x Active Penetration Divs
3x Active Heavy Divs
6x Lt and Abn Divs

Converting that to Canada, roughly

2x Active Penetration Battalions
3x Active Heavy Battalions
6x Active Lt and Abn Battalions.

Or, effectively, 1 mixed Division.
 

FJAG

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As Canadians, or Americans, we have to adjust to suit the situation. The Americans had Cold War Divisions. They worked for the invasion of Iraq. They didn't work to police Iraq and Afghanistan. The same people had to be retasked to manage both scenarios.

And then they had to be re-retasked to meet the current perceived threat.

We have smaller numbers - roughly 1/10th.

That means that even with the same effort the Yanks put into their affairs, and manage to produce 10 to 12 divisions

2x Active Penetration Divs
3x Active Heavy Divs
6x Lt and Abn Divs

Converting that to Canada, roughly

2x Active Penetration Battalions
3x Active Heavy Battalions
6x Active Lt and Abn Battalions.

Or, effectively, 1 mixed Division.
Sorry. Your 1 in 10 ratio is way off both by divisions and personnel numbers. The Canadian Army is somewhere in the 45,000 range with RegF and ResF combined. The US Army is 485,000 Active alone with another 336k USARNG and 189k USAR for a total of just over 1,000,000 so more like 1/20 to 1/25 ratio.

Its also wrong not to count USARNG divisions and BCTs which are mobilizable entities. In total there are currently 2 Armd Divs, 3 AB Divs and 15 Inf Divs for a total of 20 divisions. One needs to remember that infantry divisions can hold any of ABCTs, SBCTs or IBCTs so "Infantry Division" is a variable term. (There are a total of 21 ABCTs, 9 SBCTs and 34 IBCTs) On top of that you are leaving out of the mix the 4 corps and 6 Theatre Sustainment Commands that the US has and most importantly the dozens and dozens of army support brigades from artillery, air defence, manoeuvre enhancement, sustainment, military intelligence, engineer etc

All that aside, one only needs to look to the strength of the Canadian Army by itself to determine if it could form a division. Between the RegF and the ResF we do have enough for one moderately equipped one. We do have three RegF brigades as a start although none could be considered having penetration, heavy or airborne battalions (and in fact there is no such thing as a penetration or even heavy battalion in the US doctrine - they are combined arms battalions or Stryker or light (of various sorts) battalions. We have 6 mech bns and 3 light (plus enough tanks for 1.5 armoured regts and 1.5-2 recce regts). We're really short of service support battalions with barely enough to form the sustainment battalions for the brigades but not for the other divisional brigades. We might have enough engineer assets but are short in artillery and air defence and CBRN and MPs and can probably cobble together and aviation brigade (wing) although the absence of attack helicopters makes them incapable of an assault role.

All that said, we would need to go a long way to put together a properly equipped division. Sure, the people are there and much of the equipment but, as you well know, we are embarrassingly short of critical gear needed to make a decent division. Mind you, I'm an aspirational sort of fellow. I think we need to form the structure so that we finally have a roadmap for a proper equipment programme.

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Kirkhill

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FJAG

As you well know, half of the US effort is in Corps, Theatre, Command and Army stuff well beyond the Division. And it includes all sorts of stuff that we would like to have.

I am a +/- 10% type of guy.

I based my numbers on the US and Canadian populations. Roughly 10:1.

I also based them on, roughly, 10 combat arms battalion to a division.

At the end of the day we both agree that the Yanks have decided to provide 10 to 12 Active Divs. 1 Active Div of 10 to 12 battalions is in our grasp if we wanted to put the effort into it.

Stop violently agreeing with me. :p
 

KevinB

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FJAG

As you well know, half of the US effort is in Corps, Theatre, Command and Army stuff well beyond the Division. And it includes all sorts of stuff that we would like to have.

I am a +/- 10% type of guy.

I based my numbers on the US and Canadian populations. Roughly 10:1.

I also based them on, roughly, 10 combat arms battalion to a division.

At the end of the day we both agree that the Yanks have decided to provide 10 to 12 Active Divs. 1 Active Div of 10 to 12 battalions is in our grasp if we wanted to put the effort into it.

Stop violently agreeing with me. :p
The Division is a maneuver unit.
Thus mixing forces inside a Div is generally a bad idea, for then it can no longer act as a Division - but just acts as separate Bde's - and is a PY sink.
 

Kirkhill

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The Division is a maneuver unit.
Thus mixing forces inside a Div is generally a bad idea, for then it can no longer act as a Division - but just acts as separate Bde's - and is a PY sink.

The Division is an administrative unit that can maneuver.

Even in the US Divisions have been assembled, disassembled and reassembled according to need.
 

KevinB

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The Division is an administrative unit that can maneuver.

Even in the US Divisions have been assembled, disassembled and reassembled according to need.
In Peacetime, yes they have - however with the goal towards making a more effective Maneuver Element.
Corps is really the Admin level.

I always figured the main part of the reason the CAF went with the very large Mini Div CMBG's was the lack of a Real Div.
IIRC RV92 (I still have a few of the Labatt Blue Rv92 beers) was the last time the CA did anything at Div level, and it required US Army support too...

I don't think there is anything wrong with the robust CBMG Concept - and tailoring them to fit with US and/or UK Divs - and Canada probably would get a decent Bang for its Buck in that setup.
 

Kirkhill

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In Peacetime, yes they have - however with the goal towards making a more effective Maneuver Element.
Corps is really the Admin level.

I always figured the main part of the reason the CAF went with the very large Mini Div CMBG's was the lack of a Real Div.
IIRC RV92 (I still have a few of the Labatt Blue Rv92 beers) was the last time the CA did anything at Div level, and it required US Army support too...

I don't think there is anything wrong with the robust CBMG Concept - and tailoring them to fit with US and/or UK Divs - and Canada probably would get a decent Bang for its Buck in that setup.

And I don't think there is anything wrong with Canada organizing 1,2,5 and 6 Brigades under one Divisional Command. In fact I think that it is made more necessary by the geographic dispersion to ensure that all Brigades and their subordinated Regiments are training to operate with a common standard. The Division may never take the field as an entity but at least all the components would be interchangeable.

Canada can't afford the Pals Battalions problem of the WWI where entire civilian communities were wiped out in one battle. We need to be able to mix and match effectively.
 

daftandbarmy

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And I don't think there is anything wrong with Canada organizing 1,2,5 and 6 Brigades under one Divisional Command. In fact I think that it is made more necessary by the geographic dispersion to ensure that all Brigades and their subordinated Regiments are training to operate with a common standard. The Division may never take the field as an entity but at least all the components would be interchangeable.

Canada can't afford the Pals Battalions problem of the WWI where entire civilian communities were wiped out in one battle. We need to be able to mix and match effectively.

One good way to make sure that those types of casualties are avoided is less about the way we organize the chess pieces and more about high quality senior leadership, of course.
 

KevinB

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And I don't think there is anything wrong with Canada organizing 1,2,5 and 6 Brigades under one Divisional Command. In fact I think that it is made more necessary by the geographic dispersion to ensure that all Brigades and their subordinated Regiments are training to operate with a common standard. The Division may never take the field as an entity but at least all the components would be interchangeable.
So an Admin HQ-- then don't call it a Div, as people expect things with a Div...


Canada can't afford the Pals Battalions problem of the WWI where entire civilian communities were wiped out in one battle. We need to be able to mix and match effectively.
The whole reason for the regular force units recruiting from all around these days.
The PRes however is a local recruiting pool, one selling point for individual augmentation I suppose - but at the end of the day, we use local recruiting in the ARNG - if you really need soldiers, the community is already in threat.
 

FJAG

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And I don't think there is anything wrong with Canada organizing 1,2,5 and 6 Brigades under one Divisional Command. In fact I think that it is made more necessary by the geographic dispersion to ensure that all Brigades and their subordinated Regiments are training to operate with a common standard. The Division may never take the field as an entity but at least all the components would be interchangeable.

Canada can't afford the Pals Battalions problem of the WWI where entire civilian communities were wiped out in one battle. We need to be able to mix and match effectively.
Let me start by saying that "division" is a word that can be given various uses and in the army vernacular is either a tactical entity when used properly in war and a mere administrative headquarters when used the way that we currently do.

The point is that one should strive for a tactical purpose for a division the way that the US Army is doing now. There is really no need for a "division" if it is a mere administrative headquarters. You can call it a "district" or "area" or "command" or whatever if all that it is is a temporary gathering together of disparate elements.

The strength of a real "division" is that it contains all the elements necessary to act as a single formation with a particular role. It's strength comes not just from its manoeuvre elements but all the CS and CSS support that it holds to enable the manoeuvre elements to perform their mission whether light or heavy. We really need to get away from this medium weight concept which really only made its debut in the US at the turn of the century and seems to be in the process of being abandoned as impractical.

I favour a divisional structure for the CA too but not by putting all the RegF eggs into one basket for the simple reasons I favour the 30/70 battalion structure - we need to build a larger more capable force by leveraging reservists. All that a unified RegF division does is leave the ResF in the dust. We effectively need two divisions, one that is organized and trained for major peer conflict with the ability to be a deployed headquarters and one an administrative formation which never deploys but manages and trains those forces for the defence of Canada and day-to-day operations in small theatres for OOTW. Continuing on with our present situation, even with all the RegF brigades consolidated but still being "flexible" and "agile" may work for the peacetime role but risks disaster for the wartime one.

The common standard of training issue is a red herring. Doctrine and training comes from the centre of the Army. You do not need a division to enforce that. Besides, what is a common standard when one mixes light and LAV battalions in the same brigade anyway?

The Pals battalions is another red herring. Canada's population was 8 million in WW1 and its army was 650,000 of which 66,000 were killed. Our whole army now, spread across its length is 45,000 give or take a few thousand. Pals battalions are not a problem.

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Kirkhill

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So an Admin HQ-- then don't call it a Div, as people expect things with a Div...

So what do people expect with 6 (UK) Div? Or 1 (UK)? Or MND (N)?

Or, for that matter the US 2nd/7th Infantry Divisions that share brigades?
 

Kirkhill

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Let me start by saying that "division" is a word that can be given various uses and in the army vernacular is either a tactical entity when used properly in war and a mere administrative headquarters when used the way that we currently do.

The point is that one should strive for a tactical purpose for a division the way that the US Army is doing now. There is really no need for a "division" if it is a mere administrative headquarters. You can call it a "district" or "area" or "command" or whatever if all that it is is a temporary gathering together of disparate elements.

The strength of a real "division" is that it contains all the elements necessary to act as a single formation with a particular role. It's strength comes not just from its manoeuvre elements but all the CS and CSS support that it holds to enable the manoeuvre elements to perform their mission whether light or heavy. We really need to get away from this medium weight concept which really only made its debut in the US at the turn of the century and seems to be in the process of being abandoned as impractical.

I favour a divisional structure for the CA too but not by putting all the RegF eggs into one basket for the simple reasons I favour the 30/70 battalion structure - we need to build a larger more capable force by leveraging reservists. All that a unified RegF division does is leave the ResF in the dust. We effectively need two divisions, one that is organized and trained for major peer conflict with the ability to be a deployed headquarters and one an administrative formation which never deploys but manages and trains those forces for the defence of Canada and day-to-day operations in small theatres for OOTW. Continuing on with our present situation, even with all the RegF brigades consolidated but still being "flexible" and "agile" may work for the peacetime role but risks disaster for the wartime one.

The common standard of training issue is a red herring. Doctrine and training comes from the centre of the Army. You do not need a division to enforce that. Besides, what is a common standard when one mixes light and LAV battalions in the same brigade anyway?

The Pals battalions is another red herring. Canada's population was 8 million in WW1 and its army was 650,000 of which 66,000 were killed. Our whole army now, spread across its length is 45,000 give or take a few thousand. Pals battalions are not a problem.

🍻

So you reckon that if all the casualties came from the Vandoos that wouldn't be an issue? I think we disagree on that.

Common standards? Doctrine and training?

The Army of the West lightly oiled their FNs. The Army of the East heavily oiled them.

The Army of the West rolled their sleeping bags. The Easterners stuffed them.

Battle drills were taught at Regimental schools.

Some battalions have experimented with 2 man LAV crews. Others are adamant on 3.

And I encourage you to go back and revisit the regimental quiffs that drove the Battle Order people, and yourself, to distraction.


Some things are silly and inconsequential - others not so much.
 

Kirkhill

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We've got those... they're called Reserve CBGs.

And, as you know, they are pretty much just very expensive mail boxes and completely ineffective as a 1* type formation HQ.


1*?

I thought our Brigade Groups were commanded by Colonels? Or have our Colonels started wearing Maple Leaf Stars?
 

FJAG

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So you reckon that if all the casualties came from the Vandoos that wouldn't be an issue? I think we disagree on that.
C'mon. What are you suggesting - every deployed battalion needs to have a provincial ratio to it. Out of ten battlegroup we sent to Kandahar three were from Quebec. Should we have added in a percentage of Anglos to help spread the casualties?
Common standards? Doctrine and training?

The Army of the West lightly oiled their FNs. The Army of the East heavily oiled them.

The Army of the West rolled their sleeping bags. The Easterners stuffed them.

Battle drills were taught at Regimental schools.

Some battalions have experimented with 2 man LAV crews. Others are adamant on 3.

And I encourage you to go back and revisit the regimental quiffs that drove the Battle Order people, and yourself, to distraction.


Some things are silly and inconsequential - others not so much.
These are all inconsequential and frequently turn on the whim of one particular CO or RSM and you'll never iron them all out. We alredy have one doctrine and one central training system for most things. There is no greater advantage to having all of the RegF brigades in one division rather than one army.

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KevinB

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I was in both the Army of the West and East (or is Pet Army Central?)
Stuffed sleeping bag in both ;)

Looking back oil was way too light even in the East ;)
 

Kirkhill

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C'mon. What are you suggesting - every deployed battalion needs to have a provincial ratio to it. Out of ten battlegroup we sent to Kandahar three were from Quebec. Should we have added in a percentage of Anglos to help spread the casualties?

These are all inconsequential and frequently turn on the whim of one particular CO or RSM and you'll never iron them all out. We alredy have one doctrine and one central training system for most things. There is no greater advantage to having all of the RegF brigades in one division rather than one army.

🍻

I believe that putting all the active brigades under one command would iron out a lot of the local interpretations of doctrine. And with the regular brigades sorted then those practices could be more easily passed on the geographically local reserve soldiers.

As to mixing and matching Regs and Reserves...

A Regular Battalion with 3 rifle coys and a CS coy. In other words a battalion able to function as an entity tonight.

To that Battalion add 3 Reserve rifle coy combat teams that are expected to field a 4th rifle coy and CS augmentees tonight and replacements in the near future.

Just make the administrative battalion bigger.
 
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