Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The triangle has been flipped! Mobility first, Firepower second, Armor protection an afterthought!

Above you see the Iron Triangle...it's almost a mantra or a prayer at any of the armor or mech school houses in the US Marine Corps or Army.  If you want to do a basic comparison of vehicles (after determining their role in your force) the next step is to find out where they fall on the pyramid and compare that to your needs/wants.

Ironically the much maligned and criticized M1 Abrams is perhaps the finest
example of a vehicle that balances all three.  Firepower?  You can't beat a 120mm cannon firing depleted uranium shells.  Its been proven that it can rip thru any vehicle on the battlefield.  Mobility?  That gas turbine that everyone hates motors like none other.  It's the gold standard of maneuver over broken ground.  You want to give another vehicle high praise in the mobility category? You state that it can keep up with an M1 Abrams!  Protection.  Anti-tank missiles have everyone scrambling but I still contend that when you break it down to armor only (no active protection) that the M1 with its add on armor package is still top dog.

But what about the others you ask?  To that I say they're all fine tanks but they're not as well balanced as the Abrams.  The Leopard 2 fan club is on the verge of going crazy over that statement but an honest appraisal of that vehicle shows that mobility and firepower were the primary considerations with armor protection only being addressed in its latest models.  The same can be said of the LeClerc.  The Merkava IV differs in placing a premium on armor protection over mobility (and the same can be said of the British Challenger series).

But that's not the point of this blog post.  The point is that in the US ground combat community we're seeing a new trend.  A surprising trend after our experience with IEDs.

Mobility is now the top dog.  Firepower is second and Armor protection almost an afterthought!

Is this surprising?  Yeah kinda.  It heralds a new kind of combat for US forces...a new emphasis on speed and shock.  This new emphasis will extend all the way down to the lowest levels too.  What leads me to this conclusion? Check out the pics below...

I'm not even gonna rehash the units involved in this exercise.  All I know is that the caption said that the 173rd was involved in a forcible entry exercise and part of the photo spread shows (and I'm still trying to find the video) of Stryker ICV's rolling off a C-17 with grunts peering out the back hatches and the 50 cal mounted with optics and everything looking ready to go straight into combat.

As one person pointed out (trying to shoot down the significance of this event) they don't have cage armor applied.  It was his idea that this means that it's only a dog and pony.  I disagree.  I believe we're seeing the dream becoming reality.  Mike Sparks talked about Airborne Mech forces and baby steps are being made to finally see that come true.

I did a post on April 4th about the 82nd Airborne testing USMC LAV-25's (note that more than half the vehicles are brand new mounts straight from General Dynamics).  Why is this significant?  Because it adds to my thinking that we're seeing a sea change in the way that the Army is looking at its armor force.

Those are LAV-25A2's.  Modernized versions of the old warhorse and mounting an adequate (but not overwhelming) cannon.  Most importantly General Dynamics is working with the 82nd to develop an air droppable version.  I smell but can't prove an Urgent Operational Requirement coming that will allow an off the shelf purchase of these vehicles now....not having to wait for a competition.  

If I'm right then we're gonna see Airborne Tankers (would we call them that with these small guns) reborn post haste.  My only question is how far would they take this?  Could we see a stripped down troop carrying version armed with a 50 cal and maybe carrying 8 troops while the Airborne Tankers utilize the Anti-Tank and 25mm versions?  I think so but time will tell.

The Polaris MRZR is being bought by almost every service that carries a rifle as part of their daily work.  SOCOM, US Marines, and various Army units are all on the MRZR bandwagon.  What I find interesting is that the Marine Corps stated that these vehicles are inadequate for fast attack use, but that isn't slowing down SOCOM or Army units like the 82nd or 173rd.

Light, fast and can go almost anywhere is the new coolness.  Forget the old iron triangle.  The new "hotness" is mobility first, firepower second and armor protection an afterthought.

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