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21 Oct 2019 3:17 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Understanding US doctrin before M1/Bradley" to "Understanding US doctrine before M1/Bradley"

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dogtail20 Oct 2019 3:26 p.m. PST

I wargame partially in order to understand history. Trying to understand fictional cold war gone hot, I have a hard time to find sources how the US Army wanted to counter highly mobile russian warfare (T-64/T-72 supported by BMPs)on a tactical level. Can anybody provide information or links/sources about that?
The Air Land Battle concept is known to me, but I look for more tactical advice for my M60/M113 combos (should I get more M901 ITV, maybe?)

Thresher0120 Oct 2019 3:42 p.m. PST

There are some good FMs on-line, for free, which detail that.

Sorry, can't recall the numbers off-hand, and lost a bunch when the last laptop died, but they are out there.

Basically, the M113s would go to ground, and troops would try to dismount before contact. The "tracks" (M113s) might provide machine gun cover (and even perhaps recoilless rifle cover, if one per platoon is so equipped before the era of the TOW missiles).

M113s are basically armored trucks, but can't stand up to direct fire from BMPs, with even their short cannons and ATGMs, so treat them as such, and keep them out of harm's way.

Even during Vietnam, the guys frequently rode on top of the "tracks" since A/T mines were a concern.

They always prefer to dismount before the real shooting starts to be safer, since being in a tin-can when that happens isn't good for survival. Decent protection from the front vs. MGs, but not from the sides or rear, in the M113s.

They are useful for keeping one safe from chemical weapons, and shrapnel from artillery rounds, as well as rifle fire, but that's about it. Once MGs and cannons come into play, it's best to get out quickly.

That's why the Bradley was invented, to be able to better keep up with the tanks, during maneuver warfare and to enhance survivability of the troops.

The USA was behind the times with IFVs. The West Germans and Soviets leading the way, with their HS-30s, Marders, and BMPs/BMDs.

Thresher0120 Oct 2019 3:44 p.m. PST

M-150s, and the later M901s are meant for anti-tank and anti-armor work, so are specialized. They support the tanks, APCs, and IFVs, but aren't meant as troop carriers.

The Bradleys combine both, but with far fewer infantry in them, which is itself another problem for the army.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2019 4:03 p.m. PST

I commanded an M113 Mech Co. '87-'89. We were often attached to an M60 MBT Bn.

Note each US Army Mech Co. has a Section of 2 M901 ITVs organic to it's TO&E. Along with the Bn had an AT Co. of 3-4 Plts of ITVs, with 4-6 M901s each[can't remember which] old fart.

So yes you need more ITVs !

Each Mech Plt had 3 M47 Dragon MAW. And M72 LAWs would be issued liberally as need.

What Thresher said is basically correct though. thumbs up

how the US Army wanted to counter highly mobile russian warfare (T-64/T-72 supported by BMPs)on a tactical level.
The A/L/B doctrine is very much combined arm mobile warfare. Integrating not just Tanks and Infantry with FA support. But also helicopter gunships [AH1s then AH64s] to hover behind cover, pop up and fire their AT missiles at the WP hordes. Along with A-10s to provide direct support at well.

Our priority target for the WP forces besides HQs, was AAA systems to make it easier for our gunships and CAS to attrite the flood from the East.

Tanks, Infantry and ITVs work in combined arms teams and TFs with heavy support from FA, gunships and CAS. Along with CE support to slow up, attrite[mines] and channelize movement of the WP Forces into Kill Zones. The MBTs, Infantry and ITVs set up.

That's the short answer.

dogtail20 Oct 2019 4:27 p.m. PST

Thanx for the quick answers. I found the Field Manual
A big thank you for all former and contemporary members of the Allied forces in Germany for securing peace. A rather unusual condition for such a long period of time around here.

dogtail20 Oct 2019 4:53 p.m. PST

Unfortunately I only found a 71-1 from 1998, but not the 71-1 from 1977, so I would appreciate if anybody could give me a link to a 1977 FM 71-1.


Steve Ford20 Oct 2019 6:30 p.m. PST

I read a book years ago about an M113 Mech Battalion with attached M60's that went to NTC. It was very interesting and always made me want to game that type of unit. Anybody can win with M1's and Bradleys, but try it with M113's. The book was called "Dragons at War" by Daniel Bolger.

Here's an Amazon link:


Steve Ford

ScoutJock20 Oct 2019 8:32 p.m. PST

Macksey's First Clash gives a good description of how the 4 CMMB planned to fight that battle as well. Basically the same weapons and doctrine although the Canucks weren't as lavishly equipped with ATGM as the US formations were, and had Leopard 1 instead of M60.

Rudysnelson20 Oct 2019 10:05 p.m. PST

Well before I lost my hearing due to 152mm back blast, I was an armored cavalry officer. I commanded an armored cavalry platoon, later a mortar 4.2" for an armored by and an xo for a HHC company.
I had M113s in all units.
The 4.2" mortar tracks fired in sections of 2, 3 or all six as one barrage. We had three M577 which were used for FDC. I also had a Jeep for users an XO. The two gun section was used when each company had direct support. The six gun was for general support ops. Smoke was the most request rounds whether on the defense for fighting withdrawals or on the attack to hide advance.

I did spend over two years as a cavalry platoon leader and went through many exercises as such including DRS tests. My platoon had three M551 Sheridans, yes we swam them across a lake, a mortar, 4.2" track, an infantry squad in a M113, two scout teams with dragons in M113, two M910 with TOWs and my command M113. So I had 10 vehicles and 43 men in the platoon. We used the bounding over watch in both delaying screens and movement to contact. The method of operation depended on the terrain. We could use section covering section, tank and scout, with the inf and mortar in reserve. Or for extended fronts we would split sections with each scout with tow covering the other scout and an infantry track plus one Sheridan working with the other two tank section. Before I left the division, they had replaced the M551 with M1 by 1980.
During the DRS test we participated in a consolidated company exercise. Mighty powerful configuration. All six scouts and six tows operated as one platoon under me, all nine M551s operated under the CO and the junior platoon leader, all three infantry squads operated as a platoon under our Ranger qualified LT. the three mortar tracks operated under the XO. We also had two Cobras in direct support from Delta Troop. In the exercise we repelled a Brigade plus assault on our position.

mckrok Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 6:09 a.m. PST

The short answer to the question is – you're basically screwed on the tactical battlefield playing Americans fighting Russians in Europe from the early '70s until about the mid-'80s. Unless you're very a knowledgeable and skilled player and/or your Russian opponent isn't and you're playing double-blind, your game probably won't be a very much fun for you (unless you have some sort of martyr complex). Skillful use of terrain and obstacles can help balance the game. The artillery delivering tactical nukes isn't a very inspiring solution to the tactical problem of how to stop Russian tanks and BMPs.

The Army fields the ITV, M1 and M2 beginning in 1979, 1980 and 1981 respectively with priority going to forces in Europe, so for the most part, the ITVs belong with M1 and M2s. The M150s belong with M60, M113 type forces.


Martin Rapier21 Oct 2019 6:14 a.m. PST

I think they main thing to bear in mind is that NATO in this era had at best a marginal superiority in equipment (and if anything was behind the curve when it came to IFVs), so had to rely on what were essentially WW2 tactics when it came to dealing with armoured attacks.

I much prefer it to the era of mid 1980s ubertanks.

The Israelis showed how to do it in 1967 and 1973, and they had even worse equipment than NATO. Training, a good command doctrine and unit cohesion make all the difference.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 6:23 a.m. PST

We read Dragons At War before we did a rotation at the NTC, my second. [It sucked, the NTC !]

During REFORGER '87 4CMMB were our OPFOR and vis versa, of course.

But let me go into more detail about Armor/Mech Co. Tm Ops.

My Mech Co had 14 M113s, 4 in each of the 3 Plts. Plus one for the Cdr and another for the XO. All had M2 .50 cals

We would cross-attach with a Tank Bn. I'd trade one of my mech Plts for an M60 MBT Plt of 4 tanks.

So my Mech Hvy Co Tm would consist of :

2 Mech Plts of 4 tracks each
1 M60 Plt of 4 MBTs

My organic 2 M901 ITVs.

2 Cmd Tracks mine & my XOs

1 M35 Cgo Trk

1 HUMMER[unarmored] We had M151 Jeeps before that.

The Tank Heavy Co. Tm would be basically the opposite

2 MBT Plts
1 M113 Mech Plt

Mech and Tank Bns would routinely cross attach to create Combined Arms Co. Tms and Bn Task Forces. That is doctrine …

Our Mech Hvy Bde consisted of:

2 Mech Bns
1 Tank Bn

1 SPFA M109 155mm, 24 tubes
1 Armored Cav Troop organized as Rudy posted [Thanks Rudy !]

1 Armored CE Co.
1 MP Plt

And the Bde HQ.

Both the Tank & Armored Bns had Bn assets of :

1 Sct Plt 3 M113s & 3 ITVs
1 M106 SP 4.2 in Mortar Plts, 4 tubes

Basically the big difference between the Tank and Mech Bn to their TOEs was the Mech Bn had an M901 ITV Co.
The Tank Bn had enough Tank killers with their MBTs and had on need for ITVs. But again they had 3 in their Sct Plt like the Mech Bn.

So to go in more details about the Bns.

The Tank Bn had 4 Cos of MBTs. Our Tank Bn in our Bde. Was unique. They had 3 M60A1 Cos and 1 M1IP Co. We were a Separate Mech Hvy Bde attached to the 18th ABN Corps.

The 2 Mech Bns were each organize as :

4 Mech Cos
1 ITV Co.

The Tank Bn as I described above.

Again both having Sct and Mortar Plts.

A Mech Plt would have 3 Mech Inf Sqds each with an M113 and the 4th track was the Plt HQ. Each Track has a .50 cal M2 MG. Each Mech Sqd had 1 M47 MAW "Dragon". It could be mounted on the track but was generally dismounted to move with the Sqd.

Each 11 man Mech Sqd would be broken down into 2 Fire Tms and a Sqd Ldr consisting of :

1st Fire Tm:

1 M47
1 M249 SAWs
1 M203 GLs
2 M16s [these lucky guys got to carry the extra M47 rd(s) or M60 MG ammo] And may also be issued M72 LAWs.

2d Fire Tm

1 M60 MG
1 M203
1 M249 SAW
2 M16s

1 Sqd Ldr w/M16

+ the .50 cal on the track which usually stayed mounted unless in a Deliberate Defense where it was dug in.

When the Troops dismounted a Driver and Track Cdr[TC] would stay with the M113. Those would come from the Fire Tms. So your dismount strength would be reduced to 9 of the 11 in the Sqd. And in many cases we rarely deployed full Sqds., with injuries, sickness, Leaves, etc. So in some cases Fire Tms were only 3 troops.

As a Mech Cdr I'd place my ITV Section as required. I was lucky to have a very good ITV Sec NCO. He would normally got to an overwatch position as the Co./Co. Tm moved/advanced. Or set to cover likely enemy Avenues of Approach. Or as I directed.

AT killing weapon of the Mech Hvy Co. Tm:

2 Mech Plts 36 Troops each
6 M47s 3/Plt Max Rg 1000m, Penetration about 460mm
4 M203s fired HEDP rounds that could penetrate about 2 inchs of armor. Rg about 300m at Area Target, 250 or less at Point Target.

Note the M2 .50 cals could take out light armor, e.g. BMPs, BTRs, BMDs, etc. from the flank or rear. At 600m Based on terrain, light & weather conditions.

1 M60 Plt[4 tanks] cross attached from Tank Bn. The 105mm gun generally could effectively engage targets at about 2500m.

Plus my 2 ITVs which have a Max Rg of 3750m again based on conditions.

The M72 LAWs were issued like ammo and could hit a target at about 100m + or even if it is rated at 250m. Could take out most Light Vehicles. With penetration of 150mm to 350mm depending on version. But for an MBT your best shot was to hit the tracks/road wheels or in the rear[if you were real "lucky" ! We practiced that with an M60 driving over our foxhole, a concrete sewer pipe. And we'd pop up and take a shot with an expended LAW to the rear. [Fun!!!]

The Bn ITV AT Co was really at the Bn Cdrs disposal along with the 4.2 Mortar Plt and Sct Plt. The ITV Plts would be place in overwatch, to cover likely avenues of approach, strengthen a sector, etc. Very rarely was one of the ITVs Plts attached to a Mech Co. And again the Mech had an organic ITV Sec of 2.

Hope that helps. Feel free to ask anything. I spent 10 + years in 4 Inf Bns[1 Air Assault, 3 Mech, in my youth, '79-'90. old fart

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 6:49 a.m. PST

The Army fields the ITV, M1 and M2 beginning in 1979, 1980 and 1981 respectively with priority going to forces in Europe, so for the most part, the ITVs belong with M1 and M2s. The M150s belong with M60, M113 type forces.
I served in a forward deployed Mech Bn in the ROK of the 2ID, for 22 months '84-'85. We still used the M113s. But our Sct Plt had 7 Jeeps until my second tour in '85. Then we had the standard Sct Plt with 3 M113s & 3 ITVs.

The 2 Tank Bns in the 2ID had M60A1s.

The Nork armor threat was no where near that of the WP's in Europe.

The 2ID was unique in that it had 2 Tank, 2 Mech and 3 Infantry Bns. 2ID was actually 2 Bns short(!). The Div also had an Armored Cav Bn.

When I rotated back to the US to Ft. Benning, GA as I said our Mech Hvy Bn still had M60s and M113s as I posted. We were part of the 18th ABN CORPS to provide heavy support to the 82d and 101[I was a Rifle Plt Ldr '80-'81 in the 101] …

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 7:00 a.m. PST

Training, a good command doctrine and unit cohesion make all the difference.
Very much so. A weapon is only as good as the troop or crew behind it. Plus capable leadership …

Patrick R21 Oct 2019 8:08 a.m. PST

1960's US Army doctrine was an expanded version of WWII.

Troops would dig in (if possible) behind defenses (mines and wire) designed to channel the enemy into killing zones. If not they would pick good defensive terrain. Ideally the troops would use mobility to outmaneuver the enemy or fall back quickly when necessary.

CP would be in touch with observers to call in artillery and air strikes. Tanks would be held in reserve to counter-attack.

The main line of defense would consist of infantry who would fight the enemy with a mix of MG's, mortars and recoilless rifles and early anti-tank missiles.

Vehicles like the M75 and M113 would be at the back providing support with the .50 cal. Anti Tank vehicles would try to flank enemy tanks.

The main difference with WWII would be better communications networks, more airpower with helicopters providing rapid mobile fire support. The fact that troops used sealed APC's to protect them against both sharpnel coming from above and various NBC threats. Another change into the 1970's was the inclusion of some form of AA capability like the Redeye missile.

By the 1970's you see the replacement of the Recoilless weapons with missiles like the Dragon, TOW and Shillelagh. They would be mounted on Jeeps and M113.

Tanks would be a mix of M60 and M48. Of course the funky M60A2 would be around in the latter half of the 1970's until the introduction of the M1.

1970's would be a really bad time for NATO as they are catching up to Soviet military developments like the BMP, T62 and T72 and increased use of cheap, but highly effective anti tank missiles.

Rudysnelson21 Oct 2019 9:30 a.m. PST

A wealth of first hand experience on here which is great.
I would like to comment on an area that is not covered well or at all in rules especially unit rules.
That area is attachments which as a commander, you do not have control over. For armor or infantry battalions, it is not as much of an issue because their fronts are solid. However as a cavalry commander, our front, positions were fluid. So such independent elements could result in friendly fire incidents.
So what am I referring to?
During my tours, I frequently had ADA tracks with red eyes/ stingers deployed among my positions. Since these were Squadron assists, as were the Cobras and Huey Delta troop, operating mainly behind our lines did not cause much havoc.
Other attachments that showed up depending on the mission, Combat Engineer, Chemical smoke tracks or trucks, MI CEWI Ground Survellience Radar or ECW tracks.
Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the issue of women in combat, near the front lines, was a bitter debate. So it was ironic to see female chemical and MI troops in front of our forward positions.

Deployment in exposed position so their equipment would have clear fields of sight, would reveal our hidden vehicles. Only once did I have an Air Force forward Observer, attached. Engineers would make noise, laying mines or clearing obstacles. Or losing an attached track because they were out and returning through gaps that were now mined.
So many isolated incidents that were more common than not.

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore21 Oct 2019 12:04 p.m. PST

Re the OP- the doc you might find worthwhile to look at is FM 100-5-76.

This Field Manual defined how USAREUR should fight during the period 1976-82. Broadly speaking it defines a doctrine known as 'Active Defense'. This is, again broadly speaking, an approach which requires US forces to place much of their strength initially covering the front. They then identify key axes of WP advance and move forces laterally (the lateral bit is important) to counter those advances with a concentration of force- outfighting the attempted breakthrough, and repeating as necessary when other axes of advance were identified. Because the combat emphasis was to get the maximum force to the vital area to outfight the most dangerous attackers- very little was in depth reserve.

It didn't work very well when tested in FTX and CPX- as contemporary British and other NATO doctrines of the time didn't work very well either, because it was too reactive to WP initiatives. Sooner or later, attrition or simply being unable to respond quickly and strongly enough to succeeding threats would be its undoing and a breakthrough would probably occur, with little in position to stop it. Another problem with creation of such concentration of force was vulnerability to area weapons, tac air, nuclear etc.

Zooming this down to the tactical wargaming level, what kind of games would you get from the 'Active Defense' era? Ideally, from the US PoV, the main lines of WP advance would have been successfully identified in time to rush combat teams from other parts of the front- so the WP would hit a strong US force head on and be defeated in something like a straight shoot out on reasonably comparable terms- although if the WP got its artillery act together against such concentration- US casualties might be quite high.

If though the US weren't able to move sufficient forces to the threatened are quickly enough, for the reasons mentioned above, the WP advance would strike a fairly weak and fairly static US front and probably roll over it, potentially causing a breakthrough. Same goes in slightly modified form for Brits and others.

Counter attacks were certainly possible but according to doctrine fairly limited- to things like retaking vital tactical ground and countering penetrations before they got really going if possible.

As is well known, Active Defense's successor doctrine AirLand battle (FM100-5-82 and 86) was much more about seizing the initiative, avoiding the big WP frontal punches, and combining rapid swaps between units conducting rapid blocking defense and partner units simultaneously conducting coordinated flank attacks, also cutting into rear echelons, etc to defeat by dislocation rather than attrition.

So tactical games of Airland battle doctrine (or at least the doctrine working to plan) would have some actions with outnumbered US defenders in position holding off WP attackers, but with a US flank/rear counter punch courtesy of notional confusion sowed in WP command/control, and the Abrams/Bradley speed/improved moving fire combo. Another game simulating AirLand battle on a good day would be a combat team slicing through a selection of WP rear area units, or shooting up an WP spearhead immobilised through lack of fuel because of other actions.

Airland battle on a bad day could see the Abrams struggling for fuel themselves, or those units still equipped with M60s and M113s wheezing along just trying to catch a WP formation in flank (not denigrating those US vehicles- a Chieftain/FV432 combo would as bad if not worse in those circs).

So to get a flavour of the historical period, you really need to weave into the scenario the prevailing doctrine, the broader factors you might expect to occur as a result, and the qualities of the tanks and troops on the table. Just changing the hardware (eg Abrams for M60s and Bradleys for M113s), but not changing the style of battle will get the US a better result but probably not a decisively better one. The main problem with recreating the Airland Battle style of fighting is that it was intended to be dispersed and expansive, so you either need quite a lot of space to get all that flanking and rear echelon stuff in, or you need to run a series of linked engagements.

Just my tuppence worth.

Lion in the Stars21 Oct 2019 1:13 p.m. PST

The Bradleys combine both, but with far fewer infantry in them, which is itself another problem for the army.

Yeah, the replacement to the Bradley is definitely going to have space for a full squad of 9, maybe even 12, in addition to the gun and missiles.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

Yes, as I said, the A/L/B doctrine is a completely mobile combined arms doctrine of both air and ground assets. Heavily relying on Gunships & CAS. To try and balance out the massive numbers of WP ground forces.

The NATO ground Cdr would have to call for firepower from the air. E.g. both US ARMY & USAF, plus FA.

When I was a Bn Air Ops Ofr[Bn S3 Air]after being a Rifle Plt Ldr. The Join Air Attack Tm [JAAT] tactic was combining both Army Gunships & AF A-10s working together. The Gunships hovering behind cover[e.g. trees, structures, low ridges, etc.] popping up, firing TOWs or Hellfires depending on aircraft and time frame. Then go back down under cover.

Followed by A-10s coming in to fire it's ordinance. Then pull up , while the Gunship pop up again, fires, goes back under cover. And then the A-10s would do gun, etc., runs again.

The A-10 was designed just for this mission to provide AFV killing capabilities. For the ground forces. To attrite and destroy WP armored and mech forces.

As I mentioned for US Tankers, Grunts, etc., WP AAA assets were priority targets. To clear the air for Gunships & CAS.

As is well known, Active Defense's successor doctrine AirLand battle (FM100-5-82 and 86) was much more about seizing the initiative, avoiding the big WP frontal punches, and combining rapid swaps between units conducting rapid blocking defense and partner units simultaneously conducting coordinated flank attacks, also cutting into rear echelons, etc to defeat by dislocation
Very much so. Gaining or regaining the initiative to get into the WP Cdrs' decision cycle. Having them trying to react to you not the other way around.

As I posted units in the defense attrite the lead WP units. Then with other NATO forces counterattacking into the flanks and pushing into the WP LOC, C3, rear, etc. Mobile Combined Arms Warfare, not attrition.

But yes the battle could probably be very costly forcing the WP back to the IGB. The NATO mission was not to push on to Berlin or Moscow. But to reestablish the IGB. And hopefully by that time no nukes, bio or chemical weapons would be used. With the politicians finding a way to broker peace between the belligerents.

As well NATO and the WP had a lot of FA. Which as we know can do a lot of damage indirectly. To not just troops and equipment but generally to infrastructure, i.e. villages, towns, bridges, etc. Creating a "moonscape" to many locations in the countryside. As well as losses to the combatants.

The Bradleys combine both, but with far fewer infantry in them, which is itself another problem for the army.
We found that a negative for the M2 vs. the M113. Albeit the M2 IFV's firepower and protection far exceeds the M113 APC's. But in many cases you may only have 6 dismounts. A little light for any serious Infantry work. Even though the firepower power the M2 provides can be very effective. But in many cases you can't take the Track everywhere. An M2's 9 man Sqd with 3 remaining in the Track again only 6 on the ground, before losses.

scouts19508a21 Oct 2019 1:26 p.m. PST

I seem to remember a lot of call for fires(83-86 E 2ACR)and maneuvering. We got our M-1's 84ish maybe 85 and had M113's when I left. I think one of the Squadrons got their M3's in 86 we were scheduled for early 87. We usually operated 2 scout sections of 1 M113 and 1 M901 and the tanks were hidden until something worth a tank shooting at appeared. 1 troop commander kept all the tanks together and the other kept them as platoon assets.
For early 80's you can never have enough M901's. I think most Infantry battalions had a AT company or 12-14 M901's

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

I too can't remember how many ITVs were in the Mech AT Co. Maybe 3 Plts of 4 tracks each ? But I'm still not sure ? As I posted each Mech Co. had it own AT Section of 2 M901s. So with 4 Mech Cos. that is 8 plus the AT Co. 901s. With the 3 in the Sct Plt also.

OK did a little research. The AT Co[Delta Co] had 3 Plts of 4 ITVs each. So that is 12 with D Co. + 8 with the Mech Cos + 3 with the Sct Plt = 23 per Mech Bn.

tactical advice for my M60/M113 combos (should I get more M901 ITV, maybe?)
So Yes dogtail as I said, you need more ITVs ! evil grin

Rudysnelson21 Oct 2019 8:11 p.m. PST

Yep our AT company for 3/10 Armor Bn, had three platoons of four tracks each. We ere part of the DRS brigade that had three tank platoons. It was not unusual to have the AT company as the anvil with the ten tank companies in support. With loss due to maintenance, it was not unusual to have eight or even seven tank companies. I thought the four tank platoons was the most effective option.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2019 2:56 a.m. PST

The ITVs' TOW missiles with that long range could do a lot of damage to advanicng WP formations.

When I was in the 101 our AT Co[Delta Co] had TOWs Jeep mounted. And later on Hummers, but I was with a Mech unit by then …

The AT Co with Mech was Echo Co. … old fart

trance22 Oct 2019 6:52 a.m. PST

First second to none 2nd all infantry brigade 2ID 1/23 infantry.Tomahawk! 1981-1982 Legion 4.
Don't forget we were way ahead of the soviet with improved conventional munitions for artillery. And years ahead with tactical integration of rotary wing aircraft. And the Russian tanks were not as good as ours and could be easily penetrated by our 105mm and antiarmor missiles. Born out by their hasty introduction of ERA.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2019 8:05 a.m. PST

2ID 1/31 Mech Polar Bears ! Jan'84- Nov'85[22 months !] thumbs up

That is true we did have those advantages vs. the WP. We would need all we could get to deal with the numbers of WP Tanks, APCs, etc.

dogtail22 Oct 2019 9:56 a.m. PST

I thought

The July 1997 issue of Jane's International Defence Review confirmed that after the collapse of the USSR, US and German analysts had a chance to examine Soviet-made T-72 tanks equipped with Kontakt-5 ERA, and they proved impenetrable to most modern US and German tank projectiles. A U.S. Army spokesperson claimed at the show, "the myth of Soviet inferiority in this sector of arms production that has been perpetuated by the failure of downgraded T-72 export tanks in the Gulf Wars has, finally, been laid to rest. The results of these tests show that if a NATO/Warsaw Pact confrontation had erupted in Europe, the Soviets would have had parity (or perhaps even superiority) in armour".

That is from Wikipedia

The NATO mission was not to push on to Berlin…

That is my hometown, and I always felt kind of sorry for the troops being trapped here. But I could watch Lakers vs. Celtics (in black and white) and listen to AFRTS on the radio…

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2019 2:38 p.m. PST

if a NATO/Warsaw Pact confrontation had erupted in Europe, the Soviets would have had parity (or perhaps even superiority) in armour".
Yes, but how many T-72s w/ERA did USSR and WP have at the time ?

There would still be a lot of T-54s/55s and T-62s or even some T-64s in many of the WP forces. Albeit the T-64 is similar to the T-72. Their production was stopped in favor of the T-72.

Estimates were around 1970, that about 50% of the USSR units in Central Europe and Western Military Districts were equipped with T-62s.

Also in much smaller number there were T34-85s, SU-100s, SU-152s and T-10Ms. But you probably wouldn't see those very near to the front lines. Save for in an emergency.

Also note the A-10 was designed for assisting with the ground forces stopping the massive USSR/WP Armor units. As I note previously. Along with working with ATGM packing Gunships. Again basically designed to kill enemy armor.

NATO/US knew they might be fighting out numbered against massive USSR/WP Armor Forces. And in many cases it might not just be localized. We were told and trained to expect and deal with this.

As well as the US and others in NATO had long ranged TOW, etc. deadly effective ATGMs*. Look at the US Army Inf Bn's number of TOWs I posted before. 23 per Bn. That is a lot of tank killing power.

*E.g. In the recent war in Syria. A few years back Free Syrian Forces/SDF with TOWs made short order of some of Assad's T72s. As did ISIS with ATGMs[not sure of types ?] vs. Turkish Leopard A4s[IIRC].

We didn't think we could go tank to tank with the large WP Armor numbers. But to again use the Combined Arms Concept. With not just MBTs, but a plethora of ATGMs carried by both ground[ e.g. ITVs] and air assets[e.g. Gunships and A-10s]. Plus a lot of FA support. It was not going to be a tank battle like Kursk. But a complete fully integrated mobile Combined Arms war. As I said, the A/L/B doctrine is a completely mobile combined arms doctrine of both air and ground assets. Heavily relying on Gunships & CAS. To try and balance out the massive numbers of WP ground forces.

I mentioned my M113 Mech Co. was frequently cross-attached to a Tank Bn. The Tank Cdrs told me and my officers, we had better optics generally. So that gave us an effective killing range of 2500m. Where many of the WP MBTs would have to close the range to 1000m to 1500m to be as effective.

That "gap" would give our MBTs, ATGMs, JAAT/CAS, etc., a lot of space/time to significantly attrite the flood of WP armor. Even if most of the T-72s w/ERA survived that gap/Kill Zone. Much of their supporting unit would be gone. E.g. like all those T-62s. They would most likely not be with the T72s, but on the flanks, etc. But in supporting attacks, etc.

As I posted, units in the defense attrite the lead WP units. Then with other NATO forces counterattacking into the flanks and pushing into the WP LOC, C3, rear, etc. Mobile Combined Arms Warfare, not attrition.

The loses to all on both sides would most likely be heavy. With a lot of infrastructure destroyed or damage, as well. Sadly Berlin may have looked like it did at the end of WWII. As well as many other locations on both side of IGB. Fortunately that didn't occur …

You quoted me it appears, "The NATO mission was not to push on to Berlin or Moscow. But to reestablish the IGB." …
I knew Army buddies who served in Berlin. They joked about like "it's the biggest POW Camp in the world", etc. grin

I'm afraid the Berlin NATO forces would either have to dig in deep in a hard core Deliberate Defense. Or if the battles worked in NATO's favor(?), there may have been a breakout [attempt] to the West(?). And link up with NATO forces. I don't know of any relief plan for NATO in Berlin, but it probably was classified anyway. Gladly we will probably never know in reality of that outcome.

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore22 Oct 2019 4:48 p.m. PST

Only about 1 in 6 front line tanks (T64s and T80s) in the GSFG were the reactive armour BV variants even in 1990-1, according to CFE returns. So they would be a rarity in the 1980s.

No T72s in GSFG of course, and T72s were lower priority for fitting ERA than the tanks in Germany- so even fewer of those probably.

T72 was originally a simpler second line version of the T64. But it ended up also as a kind of competitor to it, and because it was almost as effective, much more reliable, and cheaper to produce- it had a much longer production run. But production of the T64 was actually stopped in favour of the T80- another rather complex (by Soviet standards) and temperamental 'first line' tank. All three types were/are pretty close cousins of each other and all had totally independent upgrade programmes ongoing so it was always difficult to say that one model was 'better' than another because there were so many variants and sub variants of them with different spec in service. Actually the Soviets did not have a very standardised tank force.

Kontact 5 referenced above was really only issued in quantity well after the cold war. The type used in the cold war was the earlier Kontakt 1, which was pretty effective against chemical rounds but a lot less so if at all against kinetic rounds.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2019 6:50 a.m. PST

Yes, that is what I was getting at. Not all USSR/WP MBTs had ERA. And NATO believed that CAS, Gunships and AFVs with ATGMs would do a lot of Tank Killings. Plus we had some very good FA systems/rounds that could do the job as well. So again it was a true Combined Arms battle.

We/I knew as a Rifle Plt Ldr then M113 Mech Co Cdr. One of the most powerful weapon we had was our radios. To call in all kinds of supporting fires. E.g. Gunships, CAS, FA, etc.

I was even cross trained at USN/USMC Basic Amph. Training in '82 to call in 16in Naval Guns from Battleships. Of course I doubt they would have been in range of much of West[or even]East Germany. And probably supporting the USMC in Norway, etc., as that was one of their deployment areas, etc., if the Cold War went hot.

I'd imagine a salvo of 16inchers could have done a lot of damage to massed WP Armor/Mech formations. But IIRC '84-'85 the Battleship were gone. Because better higher tech weapons systems, i.e. SLAMs/TLAMs, etc., replaced them …

UshCha25 Oct 2019 10:19 a.m. PST

dogtail, I would be interested in what rules you use. We had to write our own as the typical Lead Pusher sets have serious flaws when it comes to simulation. We like you are trying to get a handle on how you actually do what is required. Legion4 is of course correct, the posture is a function of the terrain etc. but making that judgement is challenging and it needs plausible rules to even attempt to gain an understanding. 10 years on we are still learning and having fun. Also what ground scale do you play at?

Normally we are playing late 80's but the information here is very tempting. Creating an M150 from our current 1/144 M113 would be a simple task we already have ITV's.

Decent 1/144 US troops are out of the question, my Russians are taking a long time but there will be typical wargame US troops about for the Dragons etc I guess.

Legion 4, did yo have any anti aircraft capability at your level or was it all further up the organization?

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

Yes, well thought out and "accurate" rules allows you to game and simulate a modicum of "reality". Where real world tactics, etc., can be used, again, with a modicum of reality to the era they represent.

Ushcha We on occasion would get a 2 man Stinger Tm attached to my Mech Co. They would ride in mine or my XO'x Cmd Track.
In actual combat they would come with a number of extra Stingers. Not sure how many ?

We also had the .50s mounted on the tracks and IIRC on the Co. M35 Cgo Truck. They also could provide air defense fires as well. Along with the Sqds' M60 MGs and SAWs.

We wouldn't have to hit the attacking aircraft but lay done enough fire to cause him to take evasive action/jinx. Making him to miss his target or just abort. To get out of all that fire.

But the Stinger, there could be reasonable expectation for the missile to shoot him out of the sky. Of course with enough .50 & .30 rds hitting the attacking aircraft. We might get lucky and shoot the Bleeped text Bleeped text down …

Other ADA systems like M163 Vulcans, Stingers mount on Hummers, etc., would be further up the Chain of Cmd. From ADA Bns or Bdes. Those could do a lot of the killing of enemy air assets.

Lion in the Stars25 Oct 2019 3:35 p.m. PST

I still think the Russians had the right idea about having your AA assets as an organic part of the unit.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2019 7:45 a.m. PST

They knew NATO would have a lot of air assets so they did have more ADA at the lower unit level, etc. As I said, those ADA assets were priority targets for us. To try to keep the air clear for our CAS and Gunships to strike.

But we did have ADA in place to provide an umbrella of coverage. Coordinated at Bde and high level. Setting up kill zones for WP aircraft that were going to try to attack ground NATO assets. And those NATO ADA assets could move as needed. E.g. in a NATO counter-attack/advance.

Fortunately we'll never know whose ADA tactics would work best.

ScoutJock26 Oct 2019 9:32 a.m. PST

Plus I think NATO counted on having air superiority over the FEBA after the first couple of days so ADA wasn't that big of a priority at battalion level. That the Soviets did have so much ADA in their forward units leads me to believe they thought so too.

However, given that the continental airbases would have been smothered by persistent chemical attacks, I doubt NATO could've sustained air ops for any long period of time.

And once the VX came out, flash to bang would follow and then it was "Game over man!"

dogtail26 Oct 2019 3:35 p.m. PST

I will use "Seven days to river Rhine" for gaming, but mainly I will do a kind of solo gaming/simulation.
I am much more interested in delaying action and reconnaissance than in head to head battles, but I am not sure my gaming buddies think alike.
Just to be clear, I am still building my forces, it will take a while before my M60s will blow up my T-72s.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

Yes, once chemical WMDs were used that would be a big game changer, at all levels. With the release of Tactical Chemical weapons would Nukes be next ?

Non-persistent Chem/gas would leave the area at a later time. But once nukes are used all bets would probably be off, even if only tactical I'd think.

The other consideration would as always is Logistics. How soon before either side has supply and troop shortages ? Even if WMDs were not used.

it will take a while before my M60s will blow up my T-72s.
Again you should add some ITVs with Infantry support to those US M60s. Even if only the missions are Delay and Recon.

Rudysnelson26 Oct 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

Well the nuclear option.changed toward the end of the Cold War. Since the neutron bomb was designed to kill troops and limit damage to property.

So a question I have, is what type of nuclear fallout was designed by the neutron bomb. I remember that among the troops expressed more concern with operating in chemical environments rather than fall out areas.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP27 Oct 2019 8:45 a.m. PST

Yes, that is true … but I have heard little about the neutron bomb as of late ?

I think the use of Chemicals had a higher chance of occurring than Nukes. As the Chemical used could and probably be non-persistent. Where Nukes … that fall out will stay around …

Lion in the Stars27 Oct 2019 1:29 p.m. PST

So a question I have, is what type of nuclear fallout was designed by the neutron bomb. I remember that among the troops expressed more concern with operating in chemical environments rather than fall out areas.

It'd be about like Hiroshima or Nagasaki, not as bad as Chernobyl, but maybe as bad as Fukushima. The primary danger would actually be 'neutron activation', where neutron bombardment causes other materials to become radioactive. link

If it didn't kill you immediately (or whatever you want to call acute radiation poisoning), you can work there for a while without egregious harm. But I sure wouldn't want to work there if I didn't have to!

As I understand it, a standard hydrogen bomb has a fission starter to squeeze the fusion stage into detonation, and an outer fission stage to boost the explosive yield (which happens to absorb a lot of neutrons from the first two stages in the process of going kaboom itself).

Neutron bombs basically don't have that second fission stage, so all the neutrons that would be sucked up by the outer fission tamper go flooding out into the environment. Some even have a neutron multiplier instead of the fission tamper.

UshCha27 Oct 2019 2:14 p.m. PST

dogtail, I have to agree that basically the earlier parts of the battle are the most interesting. If you get to the final battle where you know where the Engagement area is there is no more tactics save that of scale. Tanks vs tank is over really quickly and the winner is the one with the most tanks, provided the disparity is not vast between the protagonists. However is a blow to folk who really just want an excuse to put on their latest painted toys..

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2019 7:37 a.m. PST

No matter how you say it … it comes down to playing with toys … evil grin

dogtail28 Oct 2019 11:50 a.m. PST

@Legion 4;
I think it could also be something else, you could do Kriegsspiel-like simulation, "Sandkastenspiele" (sand table games(?) ). But unfortunately, no one else in my gaming envirement thinks alike…And by using 15mm miniatures it is quite hard to represent much…so I guess you are right LOL.


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

I've been wargaming since the '60s. We played both board games and minis. Even in ROTC, '79-'90. Once on active duty on occasion we did use sand tables or large maps. When I was with a Separate Mech Bde of the 18th ABN Corps. The Bde Cdr, who was one of my Mech Bn Cdrs in the ROK.

He had me go thru the proper channels[paperwork & phone calls]. Contact GHQ and get our Mech Hvy Bde, a USSR MRR and Tank Bde in 1/285th scale. The Intel guys based them in Plts. Painted them OD for us and Brown for the USSR. We war gamed on the floor of the Bde Rec Ctr. With terrain made by our Training Aids activity on main post.

So we did play with toys back then too !

Rudysnelson28 Oct 2019 4:37 p.m. PST

GHQ provided the miniatures for all of the DUNN Kempf (named after the two deigners) combat tabletop simulation system. We had one at our Troop/Company orderly room.
The Fort Hood Simulation Center bought their 1/285 models from the Bunker which later became Martian Metals (closed when the owner went to work for FASA).
Sadly I had to sign for the kit and it cost me when, it was time to turn it in and the NEW CO had thrown away the plastic boards.
Later at the Fort Riley Simulation Center, where I had the keys since I was the MI S4, I was always ordering more micro-armor from GHQ. Bn commanders at both posts preferred to use the models for Tank ID practice which was part of every gunnery exercise.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2019 1:46 a.m. PST


thumbs up

Also to clarify my previous post. I was in ARMY ROTC '75-'79. Active duty '79-'90 and the USAR '91 … old fart

dogtail14 Nov 2020 10:10 p.m. PST

A Mech Plt would have 3 Mech Inf Sqds each with an M113 and the 4th track was the Plt HQ.

Would the M113 of the Plt HQ carry anything else than the platoon leader?
1 Armored CE Co.

What does the CE stand for?

dogtail14 Nov 2020 11:34 p.m. PST

I guess combat engineers, right?

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2020 9:31 a.m. PST

Would the M113 of the Plt HQ carry anything else than the platoon leader?

The Plt Ldr Track would carry the PLT Ldr, RTO, Medic & Driver.

1 Armored CE Co.

Yes Combat Engineer …

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