Friday, July 05, 2019

Is the Australian Army being configured for its most probable missions or is Plan Beersheba a bust?

via Defense Connect.
Plan Beersheba was launched in 2011 with the objective of reorganising the Australian Army’s three dissimilar brigades (mechanised, motorised and light infantry) into three similar combined-arms multi-role combat brigades (MCBs) compromised of two standard infantry battalions (SIBs), an armoured cavalry regiment (ACR) with organic armoured, cavalry and mounted combat lift capabilities, along with the usual supporting elements of artillery, signals, combat engineers and combat service support units.

This reorganisation was based on both an analysis of combined arms warfare throughout the 20th century and the Australian Army’s experience of practising combined arms warfare in both low and high-intensity combat operations. This allows for a 36-month ready-readying-reset cycle in which one brigade in constantly ready for operations, another readying to replace it, and the third in reset after its ready cycle.

Cognisant of recent experience in low-intensity combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has been widely recognised that even in lower-threat environments, insurgent and terrorist actors have available to them weaponry that poses a serious threat to forces that lack protected mobility.

The bottom line, Australian forces deployed with armour protected vehicles stand a better chance of minimising casualties across all conflict scenarios, whilst better-armed and protected AFVs and tanks operating in concert will increase the protection, firepower and mobility of MCBs engaged in offensive operations. LAND 400 was initiated in order to provide this capability, with four phases covering: 1) project definition, 2) acquisition of combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV), 3) acquisition of infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and 4) support and training.

However, as Coleman points out, the Australian Army is more likely to be called upon for lower-intensity regional scenarios such as peacekeeping or stabilisation operations requiring a higher degree of strategic deployability and flexibility rather than high-intensity coalition warfare scenarios. This is where the 2017 changes to Plan Beersheba present significant challenges to developing a force structure that will be flexible, deployable and effective for the majority of likely deployment scenarios, whilst still maintaining a credible Army capability to engage in high-intensity warfare if called upon to do so.

These changes saw the original Plan Beersheba force structure of two standard infantry battalions, supported by an APC squadron in the ACR and a protected mobility vehicle platoon in the combat service support battalion restructured into two dissimilar infantry battalions, one mechanised and one motorised, with the ACR restructured with one armoured and two reconnaissance squadrons.

Although this restructure would lessen training demands and streamline command and control of mechanised and motorised battlegroups, this presents problems for the strategic and operational flexibility of the MCBs standing ready battle group (RBG) formed around one of its infantry battalions, if it is called upon to conduct either low or high-intensity combat operations.

If the RBG was the brigade’s mechanised battalion and is called upon to for low-intensity scenarios, its strategic and operational deployability may constrain its ability to do so, due to the heavy weight of projected LAND 400 AFVs, both for their strategic deployment and tactical mobility in areas lacking the transport infrastructure to support their weight. Conversely, if the RBG was the brigade’s motorised battalion, and deployment into a major combat operation was required, its capacity to execute such operations would be limited by their reduced conventional warfighting capability.
Story here. 

My personal opinion?  I don't consider this critique valid.  As usual, people will sit on the sidelines and attempt to punch holes in every effort and we're seeing that here.

I think the Aussies are doing something brilliant.  To be a homer, I think they're trying to build in the type of scalability found in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force into their force.  With a bit of amusement on my part, the US Army tried the same and for the most part failed in their effort.

The Aussies seem to be getting it right.

Lastly I cringe at the emphasis on low end warfare.  It is MUCH easier to scale down to fight terrorist than to scale up to fight a peer opponent.

Yean.  It's easy to punch holes but the reality is that Plan Beersheba appears to have been well thought out and has been executed nicely up to this point. Even more stunning is the fact that a small nation like Australia is setting the standard for modernization in the West.  I LIKE IT!

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