UPDATED 14 September 2009

MILES Simulations leading us to the wrong conclusions about the battlefield


"Quite clearly does our system realize, that will is a unknown quantity, for our regulations are never tired of reminding us that the supreme object in war is to impose our will upon our enemy; but in peace time this imposition is the perquisite of the few to the utter detriment of the many, and again very largely because of the canonization of the regulations. If what is written is holy writ, then it stands outside criticism and cannot be questioned. Those in control will not be asked awkward questions, and those under control, having to follow the regulations, do so automatically with the minimum appeal to their brains, 'How comforting,' they all instinctively cry, 'here is a book which spares us the trouble of thinking!' Thus are brains ossified and thus are battles lost, for only in the Spartan theory of war can a general know with any certainty what his opponent is going to do. 'This is why military thought always tends to get back to the 'push of pike' idea - it is as simple its pushing a 'pram' or a wheelbarrow -- the tactics of the nursery and of a primitive agricultural age.

What does imposition of will demand? Reason; for in war each of the opposing wills is attempting to express a reason in order to gain an end. 'There must be a reason for each action carried out during a war, and ... it must be a good reason or a bad reason; and if we have no reason at all, which has frequently happened in war, we reduce ourselves to the position of lunatics.

'If we understand the true reason for any single event, then we shall be able to work out the chain of cause and effect, and, if we can do this, we shall foresee 'events and so be in a position to prepare ourselves to meet them. Our reason is the director of our actions and also the spirit of our plan.... We must analyze its motive and discover where it has failed us; thus we shall turn errors to our advantage by compelling them to teach us.' [The Foundation of the Science of War, Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, p. 94 (1926).]

Why do we so persistently fail to do so? Not only because we lack imagination, but because we suppress the little that we have. The reasoning of our tactics is not based on the possibilities, or even probabilities, of the next war, not even on the actualities of the last, but on the impossibilities of the one before it. If we wish to think clearly, we must cease imitating; if we wish to cease imitating, we must make use of our imagination. We must train ourselves for the unexpected in place of training others for the cut and dried. Audacity, and not caution, must be our watchword. Safety first may make a good midwife, but it will never make a good general."

---British Army General and reformer, JFC Fuller, Generalship: its Diseases and their Cure

DECISIVE GROUND MANEUVER is the correct strategy to win wars because people live on the ground, not in the air. We HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO WIN "KOSOVOS" ON THE GROUND, and with zero/low casualties---as the air power firepower option always boasts of being able to do. Conveniently saying its "unwinnable" is running away from the problem. The future face of war is in dirty, closed terrain fights like Kosovo, Chechnya, Haiti, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Philippines not necessarily clearly separated armies in the open as in Desert Storm (Iraq). Its going to take technotactical thinking by smart, morally-sound, empowered men on the ground to keep freedom alive in the 21st century.


The reports of battle experiences from recent conflicts are not favorable to the current U.S. style of infantry-based ground warfare embodied in its current rifle/machine gun dominated Tactics, Techniqes and Procedures (TTP). The reason is that our TTP technotactics are being driven primarily by the lessons learned at Combat Training Centers (CTCs) like NTC and JRTC which use the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) or "laser tag" simulation system to replicate NON-EXPLOSIVE DIRECT-FIRE WEAPONS. MILES does not simulate artillery and mortar bursts, explosions from Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) guns, RPGs, Grenades and rockets. The Chinese are mass-producing a one-man portable 35mm automatic grenade launcher, the W-87. In a few decades we are being promised a 20mm exploding shell/5.56mm Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) from U.S. Army small arms R&D. THESE are the main Soldier casualty-producing weapons according to U.S. Army battle studies. Yet, we do not simulate them adequately. And because of NO simulations of the vulnerability of air-filled rubber tires at fantasy places like NTC where they get to rumble around like hot rods free of enemy artillery and fire effects, the Army is unwisely wanting to buy vulnerable LAV-III armored cars to equip its air-deployable IBCTS instead of tactically-sound, mobile in the face of enemy fire tracked M113A3/4s and M8 Armored Gun Systems.

Careers are made or broke at CTCs.

Officer Evaluation Reports (OERs) are written according to the outcomes of the laser tag "garden hose" type of war we wage at the CTCs. Our training stresses making every Soldier a "Sergeant York" capable of precision-aimed fire with his M16A2 rifle or 5.56mm M4 carbine. Thus, a generation of Army combat leaders walk away from the CTCs with an over-emphasis on small caliber, suppressive fire weaponry which perpetuates itself in Army weapons Research and Development (R&D) and purchases when they become controllers of the Army's purse strings. The tragedy and bottom line is that it doesn't work in combat against an able foe who uses explosives effect weaponry in a close fight (VC/NVA, Chechans, Somali, Afghan gunmen) and hide behind cover impenetrable by our 5.56mm and 7.62mm bullets.

Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Shock Action/Firepower not appreciated

Combining arms is the key to victory, and its not just a heavy force thing

When MILES is attached to an AFV, it fires a narrow laser beam that can hit another MILES equipped AFV and disable/kill it, but the EXPLOSIVE effect of the large caliber shell blasting open a hole in a building or wiping out a bunker or dug-in enemy position is not replicated. Our Soldiers playing the role of enemy OPosing FORces (OPFOR) in a fighting position are impervious to fire as long as no laser beams reach into their firing holes and strike their MILES helmet/harness detector circles. Thus, Light Infantry Division commanders in field exercises maneuver on these positions using foot troops with their own hand-held weapon MILES fire, resulting in lots of simulated casualties. More dangerous is that MANY Light fighters due to MILES coloring their thinking, overlook the benefits of having a light AFV with a big cannon firing once and taking out the enemy position without need of bloody infantry frontal assaults. Many are "anti-AFV". This is how light AFVs like the M8 Armored Gun System get cancelled and the M113A3 which has been around for years--do not get adopted by LIDs like the 82nd Airborne Division which need them desperately for air-droppable, parachute-forced-entry armored mobility and firepower now that the M551 Sheridan light tank battalion has been retired to NTC/JRTC to be OPFOR war props. We learned the need for things like a 106mm Recoilless rifle on a vehicle in places like Vietnam where the explosive effects were real and could not overlooked as the casualties were real. Will we have to re-learn these lessons again? Or were our casualties in Somalia written off as an aberration due to politicians sending us on a "wrong mission"? Using poor political decisions hinders correcting our own military force structure and TTP mistakes.


Do Combat Engineers shoot bunkers anymore?

MILES "lessons learned" has harmed Combat Engineers by over the years marginalizing the utility of the 165mm demolition gun on the now retired M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle, which has no gun-equipped replacement. Instead, the institutional success of the Desert Storm AFV stampede in the open deserts of the Middle East has made mine breaching/clearing the main emphasis instead of the more likely urban conflict obstacles/building demolition. A generation of Soldiers is being taught to run up to an obstacle to hand emplace a demolition charge because Armor branch hasn't fielded a high explosive plastic round for its tanks, and CTCs will not simulate the explosive effect regardless. Engineers are the main way to reduce casualties in maneuver warfare. they have the ability to protect units in the defense and overcome terrain that is not favorable to maneuver. When we use them just in breaching operations we have already failed. Obviously we can't always bypass strong defenses but where possible we should and we can do that by using Engineers to move us over and through unfavorable terrain at night and in bad weather. There couldn't possibly be anything more satisfying than pinning an enemy unit against there own strong defenses by attacking them from the rear. The British having to retreat through there own mine fields in North Africa after being out maneuvered by the Afrika Corps comes to mind. Sherman using two "Flying Columns" to sweep through the south in the U.S. civil war to destroy the enemy's logistical ability to wage war and going to ground when he actually had to fight is another example. Engineers preparing strong defensive positions (RPG Screens in the ground?) on short notice can reduce our casualties and increase theirs.

Rocket volley/barrage fire not done in training, not a viable tactic

MUST READ! RPG Operator's Manual:


Combat in Somalia "Blackhawk Down!", on Robert's Ridge Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda and the 3rd Infantry Division's Thunder Run to take Baghdad have highlighted the asymmetric disadvantage U.S. forces are in against enemies with dozens of Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).

The RPG (15 lbs.) is derived from the highly successful disposable WWII German Panzerfaust, nothing is better for infantry in the sense that it's easily man-portable, accurate and "ROBUST"; reusable. The Russians have improved on it in several important ways. Try getting one squad to carry six disposable M136s ("AT4s" for 84mm; 6 x 15 lbs = 90 pounds) or even M72 LAWs (6 x 5 lbs. = 30 lbs). AT4s are as big as a house (over 36" long) and weighs as much as a reusable, loaded RPG. It's OK if you're not on the move but for maneuver the name of the game is the RPG-7, which doesn't have to be opened, and can be run and carried into battle, ready-to-fire with a pistol grip. The RPG family shoots a wide range of ammunition; comparable to the the IDF B-300 or Mk153 SMAW (83mm) or the M3 RAAWS Carl Gustav (Same 84mm rocket as AT4 but in smaller package that connects into launcher tube), including a tandem warhead that can defeat single-layer ERA and the OG-7V thermobaric round, and it does this as a lighter package overall.

In the mid-1980s we made an effort to wean the Mujahideen off of their RPGs and arm them with disposable 66mm LAWs, and heavier 84mm Carl Gustavs. The thinking was that we could more give them "better" weapons and more mobility (we tried to get them to use many western weapons and had some successes like the Stinger MANPADS but were mostly unsuccessful). The Muj didn't like our choices and kept their RPGs but asked for Pakistani/PLA versions which were lighter and more accurate than the Soviet version. See:

Les Grau's Report on Afghan Weapons

An interesting thing was going on about this same time. The Soviet Spetznaz in Afghanistan was issued the Soviet version of LAW called the RPG-18 as TO&E. They also switched to the Paki/PLA version of the RPG because it was light, more accurate, easier to carry and delivers more firepower than any throw-away rockets. The rockets self-destruct at 1100 hundred meters which makes it great for use against aircraft and for airburst on area targets.

During the Vietnam war, we used disposable 66mm LAWs which have to be opened to fire and the VC/NVA used RPGs which are carried ready-to-fire. The RAND Corporation interviewed thousands of prisoners through 1970 and it came back time and time again that they regarded the RPG as central to their ability to maneuver while U.S. forces were hindered in both maneuver and assault on fixed positions (bunkers) because we lacked them (of course you also have to want to maneuver in the first place which we didn't). Everything considered there's no better infantry weapon in the world and we should put a handful in every infantry squad. We should not allow any U.S. weapons designer or service to make any changes at all to the basic weapon, only a bracket to fit current night vision devices. We need them before the next millennium. Of course the U.S. military doesn't agree because its still tries to suppress the enemy with the "garden hose" paradigm of bullets and ignores the shock effects of multiple rockets..or worse thinks distant aircraft can be called in, flown by strangers and bomb the enemy for us.

The way U.S. infantry does business is deficient and we should do things differently than the way current FMs describe. We should lose a M249 LMG from the Rifle Squad replaced with a RPG. The RPG can facilitate maneuver by taking out opposing MGs. If you just intend to go to ground on contact and not maneuver however, which happens at times even if you have RPGs, then don't adopt them. Much of our preference for MGs over RPGs has lots to do with Vietnam but goes back to WWI. American infantry gets pinned down easily enough because we prefer to bring in firepower from other than organic squad, plt, and company assets on contact, and use it as a SHIELD. This is seen as producing less casualties and it's solidly ingrained in our infantry. We believe that we could maneuver using company squad, plt and company RPGs to attack MG swept battlefield (first seen in the Boer War!) and save our fire support for use on hard targets instead of as a shield. A squad cannot easily maneuver against bunkers without something like an RPG providing its base of SHOCK ACTION fire. During WWII, 3rd U.S. Army (the Germans originated this in WWI using flame throwers to achieve shock action) perfected this technique using the 2.36 inch "Bazooka" (rocket launcher) to destroy "pillboxes" on the Siegfried Line. The point is that infantry in the open is getting to be a rarity and we need a way to deal with dug-in infantry to enhance our maneuver but in the case of the NVA, a way to make the enemy maneuvering infantry go-to-ground for us to decisively maneuver on them: flank, encircle, collapse and cut-off.

A couple years ago one of the authors sought to redress the lack of simulators for disposable rockets like the LAW and AT4 by a suggestion to the Army Ideas for Excellence Program (AIEP) that we field a simple, low-cost device that would fire a pyrotechnic from an empty rocket tube since dry firing them is not taken seriously. The Bureaucratician wrote back saying "we already have VIPER MILES simulators". His excuse for inaction doesn't hold because the VIPER MILES fires a narrow laser beam and is good only against another vehicle with MILES fitted. So leaders view them as ways to volley-fire to kill enemy AFVs, not buildings, bunkers and dug-in enemy positions or even helicopters like our enemy does. We draw the wrong lessons on the utility of disposable rockets because of this. Next, we do not have very many of the VIPER MILES simulators. Not enough to achieve a RPG-like volley fire effect that each Soldier having several LAWs or rifle grenades would have. Not enough for every unit in the Army to home station train on them. The disposable rocket is a round of ammunition and doesn't sit in the arms room requiring annual qualification as rifles/machine guns do. It gets ignored as a weapon system. Most of the time the empty tubes are turned in and destroyed. We cannot even keep the empties to provide a TOW tube to practice reloading the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) launcher or an empty M136 AT4 to get ready for EIB. A special TOW dummy round has to be ordered from the "supply system" and there is always some excuse about not having enough money or none in stock. You then offer to pay for the thing yourself and that isn't acceptable either. The "system" doesn't want you to be combat ready or "be all that your unit can be".

To be a viable tactic, units must practice the technique of firing disposable rockets en masse in ALL tactical training. They need LOTS of them to do this, and sadly a pyrotechnic is needed to reward them for their effort with a simulation. Thus, most U.S. Army leaders overlook the disposable rocket as a point target destructive means or for a base-of-fire.

A Company Commander of 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" writes:

"I enjoyed the piece on the RPGs/LAWs in combat (MOUT). I have been a firm believer and practitioner of the same when I was a commander. My friend was able to convince his OC about the use of Vipers to breach/clear the toehold during a MOUT exercise at FT Campbell. The results were superb. It only requires good OC coverage and adjudication. Most guys don't think to ask for it though."


"The difference between cover and concealment is clear to any infantryman. At the CMTC [Editor: A CTC in Germany], however, concealment IS cover. I quickly found that it is futile to fire the 25mm gun at an OPFOR RPG team behind a bush. The foliage itself provided a MILES berm, giving the advantage to the well-trained OPFOR. The same may be done with BFVs. Actually it is proper doctrine to use concealment of the brush in masking movements; the side effect just happens to be cover as well. Inadvertently, hand-held smoke also creates a MILES berm. I believe this is cheating with MILES and teaching BFV crewmen bad habits."

"Combat Maneuver Training Center Lessons from the Platoon leader's perspective", May-August 1998 Infantry magazine, LT Ross Lightsey and SFC George Brooks

Inevitably, our tactics are skewed in favor of using non-explosive bullets to create bases-of-fire using the "garden hose" effect of rifles/machine guns. Thanks to MILES, we have turned infantry tactics into a gunfighter's paradise. Fire itself is being used to keep the enemy at bay. Because vegetation can stop the MILES laser beam, it is teaching a generation of Soldiers that cover and concealment are the same thing. In Somalia, TF Ranger went in without armored vehicles thinking it could shoot its way in and out of the battle. It worked until the enemy began hitting our men, wounding them into bleeding casualties requiring immediate medical attention. Then the force, unable to move with maximum bi-pedal efficiency (walk/run) became pinned down, unable to move by enemy fire. Their only shield was the fire from their rifles/machine guns, and ammunition quickly began to run out. Soldiers manning machine guns from the roofs of HMMWV wheeled vehicles were hit and killed as bullets reached exposed upper torsos. TF Ranger was finally rescued when a "shield" on wheels/tracks: allied AFVs were fought into them by the 10th Mountain Division (L), but even then they were reluctant to mount them!

A noted Retired U.S. Army combat-experienced General writes:

"[MG Robert] Scales next book has some interesting data. As I recall, Infantry are 10% of the force and suffer 40-50% of the casualties. More than half of the Americans killed in combat over the last 50 years were killed by the lowly mortar. I.E. they move disperse and take cover quickly. That's how they survive. When infantrymen are caught by a rapid response, reasonably accurate weapon of high lethality, they die in large numbers and the assault is over. That is the reason for armored infantry-- to sustain the momentum of the offense. Light infantry has to be delivered quickly and dispersed or committed into the kind of terrain that affords them survivability. In your concept critical friendly zones would be set up on the LZ and massive counterfires placed on hair-trigger. Nothing is risk free, but your way is much easier to manage.

On scouts, stealth is survival only to a point. That's fine if two Brigades are trying to establish contact across 1,000 miles of desert. But things change when they close to 25, 10, 5 or 2 Km. Scout organization has to be able to adapt from passive surveillance to fighting for tactical intelligence when necessary. That is why the current Humvee setup in armor and infantry units is ludicrous. They need a mix of wheel/track/armored gun - with integrated fire support. Building recon elements in maneuver brigades separate from Colts in Divarty and ADA recon in the ADA Battalion is one of the dumber things we have done. Once again branch primacy in TRADOC has taken us to a stovepipe serving solution that is deliberately handicaps the commanders efforts to integrate combined arms for combat effects."


When we actually go into a conflict, and experience a close-in fight, we are stunned and pinned down by the massed use of RPGs against us as their explosive effects rip into the bodies of our men. In contrast, our enemies fire RPGs like they were water. RPGs demolish buildings, soft-skin vehicles, they air-burst them to down Blackhawk helicopters in Somalia. In the Falklands war, British SAS troops used disposable rockets to demolish Argentine buildings and raid airfields. The cause of this is MILES, bad TTP being used, prejudicial thinking of our commanders and poor force structure/design.


The acceptance that ground maneuver that encounters close range infantry fighting will inevitably result in friendly deaths is a lie. This misconception is based on our own incompetence not what the actual potential of ground maneuver is. Its only because we have not created SIGNIFICANT SUPERIORITY IN OPEN AND CLOSED TERRAIN WARFARE in our ground forces that we continue to sell them short. If you looked at the battlefield OBJECTIVELY, one would see there is MORE to work with on the ground than in the air/sea. In the air or on the sea, there is really no cover, the only protection is that humans do not live in the medium of the air or the sea and are not physically there to launch weapons at ships/aircraft. However, sensors can reach out into the air/sea and strike ships/planes. In contrast, there are all kinds of terrain and vegetation to shield/hide ground forces on the ground if they can prevent the enemy from reaching into a firing position at all---then we have achieved decisive maneuver capability. We are rapidly "digitizing" our Army so it can have "situational awareness" to see through the fog of war and maneuver at the enemy's weakest spots and destroy his centers of cohesion. Once these are destroyed or blocked from him, the enemy can no longer continue to fight. But we cannot exploit digitization if we are pinned down with a computer screen. As Gen Depuy said: "Maneuver must be earned".


What an RPG can do to the human body! We must stop this narcissistic foot infantry crap and employ light tracked AFVs as minimum standard shielding and armored mobility means for light infantry NOT TRUCKS!!

To do this, we need ground forces that do not rely on Close Air Support (CAS) and/or inorganic supporting arms as their "crutch" to regain maneuver when the enemy IS encountered in close battle-usually with the massed use of Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and AKM automatic weapons fire from 300 meters that irregular units like the Serbian/Taliban forces are equipped with. In general, as our forces move in, we must keep the enemy 300 meters away, and this "straight arm" (akin to a football running back in the open field) must be organic to the ground force on the move, not just temporary from a CAS aircraft. Combine digital "situational awareness" with a light tracked, Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV), the M113A3 with a 120mm heavy mortar and 40mm Grenade Machine Gun (M1064A3 with MK-19) and make them organic to the light infantry divisions of the U.S. Army. The light AFV must be the base-of-fire (BOF) element in the air-deployed Light Infantry Divisions (LIDs) now just Brigades because a weapons or machine gun squad (men on foot) firing bullets in a "garden hose" manner cannot fire if they are being pulverized themselves by enemy explosive weapons effects. M1064A3s with 120mm mortars/MK-19 GMGs need to become habitual members of the "Company Team" used by heavy divisions. A MK-19 40mm GMG mount on the outside of the BFV BC's hatch should be fielded throughout the M2A3 force to redress the heavy division's lack of indirect fire capability in uneven and urban terrains. The light AFV with indirect fire mortar and GMG can keep a steady pressure on the enemy as it maneuvers under armor protection from the enemy's explosive effects and small arms fire.

This can be easily accomplished by assigning existing XVIII Airborne Corps 3rd Infantry division M1064A3 120mm units to the Army's 82nd Airborne and 101st Air Assault Divisions that would be used to rapidly maneuver on an enemy that hides in the closed terrain like the Serbs in Kosovo. Replacing the M2 .50 cal HMG with the MK-19 GMG on selected M1064A3 Gavinss could also be done immediately without cost to the Army.

The 120mm mortar can range out to 7 kilometers; we could then control the high ground by our physical PRESENCE and we could reach into the low ground the enemy would have to travel across. This prevents the force from having to be on the forward, exposed slope of terrain or have to "bait" the enemy into a close-range decisive engagement (less than 1 km) just so its organic infantry weapons can reach. The enemy can be reached without us coming to him, he must come to us to dislodge us.


OUR OWN RPGs: LAW Rocket and Rifle Propelled Grenades

If the enemy does get into a close range RPG/AKM fight, we need our own explosives effect dominating weapons, NOW not 10 years from now by OICW. The quick solution is to buy immediately the best, most lethal family of bullet-thru Rifle Propelled Grenades (OSHA regulations be damned) and get the men firing them on the live fire range ASAP. Lots of them to see their explosive effects on various targets to appreciate their benefits and perfect aiming.


Complimenting this would be an immediate buy of lightweight, compact M72A3/4/5/6 enhanced warhead LAW disposable rockets and firing them on the range for barrage effects to counter the RPG scourge as LTC Harris advocated in the Infantry magazine 2 years go. The current AT4 is superb, but at 14.8 pounds cannot be carried en masse by each Soldier to achieve RPG-like massed explosive effects. Disposable rockets should have a pistol grip so they can be run and carried ready-to-fire. Eventually we will need reusable RPGs.

The Russians could have eliminated that massed RPG fire in Grozny if they had these things. After the Israeli's adopted bullet-trap rifle grenades, they became widespread and the latest versions have the bullet shoot THROUGH feature and have the same explosive power as a 60mm mortar. Every Infantryman with a massed LAW and rifle grenade fire capability would gain confidence while our enemies would lose confidence in massed RPGs by a few selected gunners. We would have more RPGs than the enemy would. Keeping RPGs beyond the 300 meter line but having the lead element on foot get inside the 50 meter RPG arming line ahead of the AFVs and suppressing RPG gunners from there are good Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) to negate the enemy. Many ground tacticians like the RPG but report it's weakness is the gunner always ended up being exposed and given away by it's signature. This is anecdotal but we can see video footage of the Mujahideen firing RPGs at the Russians and seeing the wisdom of this observation.

Empty LAW rockets, TOW tubes should be accessible by a simple written request of unit commanders to the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) after they are satisfied that the live round was fired out of the tube.


We need a run-and-shoot capability for SMAW-D like the RPG with pistol grips has.

We need to be able to extend SMAW-D and then run short distances with it on our shoulder, ready-to-fire. We lose too many valuable seconds opening up disposable rocket tubes and unfolding sights and the enemy pins us down with his RPGs fired first.

EXCLUSIVE! M72 LAAW Firing Video

Notice how long it takes to get ready to fire....how unlikely you are to hit anything with it, either!

You'll have to be James Coburn "Cross of Iron" close to hit anything with it:


Why didn't our disposable rockets defeat the RPGs in Somalia?

Who can fire faster?

CHICOM disposable rockets like the PF-89 above have firing grips to run into firing position ready to launch

We need:

a. CHICOM PF-89 or RPG-like forward pistol grip on our M136 AT4 and M141 SMAW-D disposable rockets
b. A secure shoulder stop not the current flimsy one

1. Running ready-to-fire (sights can be closed or open, not armed):

SMAW-D or AT4 on shoulder extended
Right hand on forward pistol grip

2. Firing

Firing controls do not have to change!!!

a. Soldier arms weapon
b. Opens sights if not open already
c. Instead of grasping the sling (Soldiers will forget!!) they grasp the forward pistol with their left hand
d. fire with their right hand

We must stop being outgunned by RPGs!


We need to stop the BS and the excuses. In addition to the run and shoot capability we need a sub-caliber training device using SIMUNITION's non-lethal soap bullets so we can shoot the SMAW-D simulator ANYWHERE to include force-on-force as long as the men are wearing eye goggles etc.

Let's contact SIMUNITION Company and get a FX (what they call their non-lethal soap bullet) and get it to shoot through SMAW-D, AT4, Carl Gustav M3 RAAWS tubes and be ballistically matched to its rocket.


Recently, I got to spend a day shooting the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) virtual reality simulator for bullet-shooting small-arms at Fort Bragg, NC.


Everyone was very impressed and happy with the experience. However, it was apparent that while rifles, pistols and machine guns of the current garden-hose mentality were present, NO ROCKETS WERE SIMULATED. Though later I found out the M136 AT4 is a weapon simulated by EST. We didn't know this or request to shoot it.

Anyone who has seen the film "Blackhawk Down!" will notice how America's enemies can run into and out of firing position with RPGs on their backs which are in a ready-to-fire mode with pistol grip and shoulder stop. In contrast America's disposable rockets have to be extended and/or opened to fire and have no grips except he tube itself. Throughout the movie depicting the actual events of October 3, 1993, only one U.S. AT4 rocket was fired, while the bad guys shot down helicopters, blasted our Humvee and 5 ton trucks and pinned our men down.

I don't know about you, but as a Soldier I am SICK AND TIRED OF BEING OUTGUNNED ON THE MODERN BATTLEFIELD. We need improved rockets NOW that can be run in a ready-to-fire manner and we need these weapons simulated on the EST system pronto. This non-sense that since disposable rockets are not a TOE weapon and tested annually for promotion points/unit readiness they get ignored must STOP.

We must field a M141 SMAW-D, and M3 RAAWS rocket simulation capability to the otherwise excellent EST system.


Our vehicles--ALL OF THEM---need wire screen fitted to their outsides to pre-detonate RPGs as retired LTC Lester Grau writes in the May-Aug 1998 Infantry magazine. This needs to be done NOW on a crash basis. ALL wheeled vehicles should be armed with at least a machine gun and a SHIELD to protect the gunner. Troops riding in back face outward and the rear tail gate can open instantly (redesign the current screw in closing mechanism) or is removed completely. All vehicles sandbagged or hardened with armor panels before entering a war zone.

We need to develop and field a lightweight gunshield that would attach to the end of our garden-hose weapons (rifles, machine guns) so they CAN be fired in the face of enemy fire and regain fire superiority. Trying to stop bullets at the chest with body armor is too late. We need MISSION MOBILITY in the face of enemy fire, not just KIA protection.



The "fire marker" system at JRTC has the potential to solve the AFV gun explosive effects problem by having a person run to the area an AFV gun aims at and using simulation charges "mark" a building/bunker/fighting position/obstacle as being blasted to bits. Artillery fire makers should be at NTC and not just JRTC.

For the close-range combat at Shughart-Gordon MOUT site, we should at the "pausex" turn in our weapons bolts/magazines and place SIMUNITION FX bolts and magazines. These are means to fire LIVE but non-lethal ammunition that on impact leaves a red or blue paint mark on the unlucky person. OWWW. Soldiers wear body armor and protective goggles. SIMUNITION FX needs to be developed to shoot through RPG, SMAW-D, Carl Gustav and AT4 training aids with a large green color mark to simulate explosive weaponry effects against buildings and vehicles. We should invest in paintball Claymore mines, grenades, grenade launchers and mortars to make our Soldiers respect these weapons in training. Some sort of AFV main gun paint round needs to be developed, too. The Tippman Ordnance Company already has these devices ready-to-go. There are many paint-ball grenades, grenade launchers, Claymore mines, mortar launchers in use to better create the indirect fire and grenade effects that MILES-type laser "tag" systems cannot replicate. The U.S. Army should as soon as possible develop paintball launching adapters to interface with its existing M120 120mm mortars and M203 40mm grenade launchers to increase training realism to compliment the urban combat advances made possible by SIMUNITION FX rounds. It may be a pyrotechnic or a compressed air propelling system. The paintball grenades and Claymore mines are good-to-go as-is and just need to be widely purchased for Army MOUT training. When Soldiers realize the realism that paintball type technology offers to Army urban and close combat training, being a Soldier will become "fun" again while the deadly need for high levels of proficiency will not be lost on them. Getting hit by a SIMUNITION FX round hurts and serves as a reminder of what a real bullet could do and is a catalyst to quicken the training efforts of everyone.

Paintball Experts (Claymores, mortars, Grenade launcher paint balls)




Tippmann Ordnance Co.
1000 S. Lincoln, Unit T
Loveland, CO 80537
Toll Free 1-888-315-5270


If you haven't already found out by a welt on your skin than read on!

Click here:

Description of the System

Uses clear plastic magazines to clearly indicate SIMUNITIONS are being fired


Division SNC Technologies Inc.
Canada and overseas Tel: (450) 581-5999 Fax: (450) 581-0231
USA Tel: 1-800-465-8255

E-Mail: technical@simunition.ca

Lou Solis
Tel: (678) 482-8174
Fax: (678) 482-7988
Cell. : (404) 915-6807
E-mail: simusalou@earthlink.net
Regional Manager, East Coast:
Connecticut - Delaware - District of Columbia - Florida - Georgia - Maine - Maryland - Massachusetts New Hampshire - New Jersey - New York - South - Carolina - North Carolina - Pennsylvania - Rhode Island - Vermont - Virginia

Randy Clifton
Tel.: (952) 997-3856
Fax: (952) 997-3884
Cell. : (612) 817-6560
E-mail: rcsimusa@aol.com
Regional Manager, Central United States:
Alabama - Arkansas - Illinois - Iowa - Indiana - Kansas - Kentucky - Louisiana -Michigan Minnesota Mississippi - Missouri - New Mexico - North Dakota - Ohio - Oklahoma - South Dakota Tennessee Texas - Wisconsin - Nebraska

UPDATE 2002: grenade fix

Buy Tippman Paintball grenades to properly replicate M67 and other type hand grenades in training. Cost is $5 each (suck it up and be a professional).


The Patented Tippmann "Squad Buster" non-toxic paint grenade adds a new dimension to the game. Just pull pin and throw. Upon impact, the "Squad Buster" releases a swirling fury of non-toxic, water-soluble paint with a 30 foot plus "marking zone"


Technical Information

Model : M.S.R.P Tippmann "Squad Buster"

Height : 6.25 Inches

Width : 3.25 Inches

Weight : 11 Ounces

Paint : Blue, Non-Toxic, Water Soluable



Rifle-Launched Entry Munitions (RLEM) (see above) allow a remote ballistic breach of an exterior door or window without having the assault or breaching element physically present at the breach (entry) point. This allows the assault element to assume a posture for entry in the last covered and concealed position before the breach. The RLEM firer is not normally part of the assault element, but rather a part of the breaching or support element. This allows the RLEM to be fired from one position while the assault element waits in another position. In the event that the first round does not affect the breach, either the firer should prepare a second round for the breach or a second firer should be prepared to engage the target.

The RLEM is very similar to the bullet-trap Launched Grappling Hook (LGH) Company "A" used to breach mines for its JRTC rotation last year.

The U.S. Army is trying to procure munitions from Israel that can blow open doors from 20 meters away.

by SFC Connie E. Dickey
U.S. Army News Service

The Rifle Launched Entry Munition (RLEM) can allow assault teams to blow open doors without compromising their position, which can increase a Soldier's survivability.

The request for 450 for rapid acquisition forces is pending receipt of funding with Urgent Materiel Release expected in January 2000. "We began preparing for its procurement in September-October of last year," said Peter Errante, ammunition team leader with the Army's small arms office at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

"The capability it has of allowing Soldiers to engage a target without having to be right up on the door, is a real advantage." He said the weapon was one of several seen during an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD)held in January-February 1998. "Because of its technology and capability it seemed to be worthwhile in pursuing," he said.

The Picatinny Arsenal office is analyzing shared technology data received from Israel as well as conducting its own testing of the weapon. "We are responsible for the testing and the Army will decide who will get the weapon and when and where it will be used," Errante said. He said once funding is received and the ammunition is delivered, initial tests would be done at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., with selected military units doing some operational testing.

Even though an Urgent Materiel Release is expected, that doesn't mean the RLEM will be in Soldiers' hands any time soon. "Additional technical and operational testing will still be required and the ammunition is not expected to be type classified standard (meeting all the technical, operational, logistics and safety criteria required for fielding) until fiscal year 01," Errante said. But once fielded "it would be ideal for MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) applications," Errante said.

That capability could be used during peacekeeping operations, although Errante could not say if the Army would be using the munition in its peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo or elsewhere in the Balkans.

The RLEM is actually an aluminum rod that attaches to a 150-gram (5.25 ounces) explosive. The projectile can be attached to an M16 rifle or an M4 carbine and is launched using a standard bullet.

According to Errante, the explosive detonates when the rod hits the door creating an overpressure (pressure that is significantly above the normal). "The overpressure will buckle a metal door."

The munition is also effective against a wooden or a thinly constructed door. "Additionally, if the door is booby trapped, the RLEM will be able to destroy them too," said Alan Li, of the small arms office. According to a fact sheet on the RLEM, since there is very little collateral damage, assault teams can be in close proximity of the door and would be able to quickly enter the facility.

Errante said the applicability for the munition could be extended to civilian law enforcement agencies, although he knows of none in the United States that are using the RLEM now.

The munition is made by Rafael Armament Development Authority in Haifa, Israel and is called the Simon Door Broaching Rifle Grenade. It was developed for and has been used by Israeli Special Forces for the past seven years.


The Israeli Special Forces Home Page: Tactical Gear: Simon Door Breaching Rifle Grenade

The Simon Door Breaching Rifle Grenade (a.k.a. Rifle Launched Entry Munition - RLEM) is a ground breaking device in the areas of Counter Terror (CT), hostage rescue and any other military, paramilitary or law enforcement scenario that requires the use of hot/dynamic entry (entering a building using explosives). Prior to the invention of the Simon, if a such scenario occurred (usually involving lock and barricaded doors) the operators from the designated unit had to personally approach the door and place the explosives, hence not only compromising the vital surprise element of the raid, but also physically risking themselves as well as potential hostages.

The Simon, however, solved all this problems. The Simon is remotely operated and therefore totally eliminates the risk to the operator and reduces the probability of detection. It's made of two main parts: shaped explosive charge (back part, similar in shape to a standard rifle grenade) and a stand off road (front part). Both parts are in plastic housing which makes the Simon a light and therefore very portable device. The Simon can be fired only few meters away from the targeted door and blast open most types of conventional doors. After it's fired (using standard rifle grenade ammunition), the Simon automatically self armed itself. When the stand off road impact the door, the explosive charge blow, causing the door to slam in, making clear path for the entry team. Since the door slamming is a result of the impact wave rather then a direct contact with the explosives (due to the stand off road), the door depart form its axis as a one intact part, rather then breaks into several pieces (that can risk any hostages present), like often happen when using manually set explosives.

Another major advantage of the Simon is preventing the operator for estimating how much explosives should be used on a specific door. Since, as mentioned above, the door slams in due to the impact wave rather then a direct contact with the explosive, the Simon is effective against most door types. This enable the assault team more tactical freedom, because it doesn't requires a demolition expert to use the Simon but instead each and every operator can perfectly use the Simon with minimum practice. However, this doesn't mean the demolition craft is no more needed in entry teams. Its still needed in situations when the Simon can't be used such as one small room parameters and when there is not enough safety distance to launch it.

The only drawback to the Simon is his high-penetration power. The Simon was design to break through all types of conventional doors including barricaded steal doors. When the Simon is being used against a light and not barricaded door, the door will slams in very strongly. Thus, if there is a hostage right behind the door, or even few meters behind it, he is going to take a major hit, most probably a lethal one. Hence, in such situations (i.e. one-room apartments) the more conventional approach of placing the explosives manually is due. This is a tactical limitation that should be taken into consideration prior to the utilization of the Simon. However, if there aren't any hostages present and the operation is a military style one, hence the mission is killing rather then saving lives, then this disadvantage immediately turn into an advantage adding to the killing potential of the entry team.

Unfortunately this was vividly displayed in the Nachshon Vaxman incident. In October 14, 1994 Vaxman, a Soldier in the Golani Infantry Bridge, was kidnapped by three Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists and their hostage barricaded themselves in a house located in a village near the Ramala City in the Occupied Territories. Sayeret MATKAL (the IDF's primary Special Forces unit akin to U.S. Army's SFOD-D or "Delta Force") was selected to carry out the assault and conducted the raid. During the raid the entry element arrived at a steal door leading to a small room in which the hostage and the terrorists where. Sayeret MATKAL's Soldiers under-estimated the strength of the door and therefore placed under-power explosives. The charges failed to blast open the door and the Soldiers had to replaced new and more powerful charges. The surprise element was of course lost, the terrorists exulted the hostage and were later gunned down by the entry team.

Tragically, this was the exact scenario in which the Simon can't be used. not only were the rooms in the house too close together to enable safe usage of the Simon, but the hostage was also right behind the door acting as a human shield. Any attempt to use the Simon would have caused the steal door to strongly slam against in the room and against his head, inflicting severe if not fatal injury.

The Israeli Armament Development Authority (RAFAEL) developed the Simon in the late 1980's. It entered service in the Israeli Special Forces (SF) in 1992 and like most other Israeli security/defense products was offered for export few years later in the late 1990's. To this date the non-Israeli countries who bought the Simon are the U.S (since 2000) and France, at a cost of around 1500$ per one Simon RLEM.

The following series of photos show the Simon used by a unit YAMAM's (Israel's elite domestic CT unit) operator during a part testing part demonstration of the device. Those photos not only give a rare view to this unique device, but also provide a comprehensive look on unit YAMAM's state of art arsenal. Due to its almost unlimited budget, unit YAMAM is the best equipped SF unit in Israel, even more then the rich IDF's Takeover units Sayeret MATKAL and Shayetet 13 (the IDF's Naval Commando unit). Unit YAMAM is in fact the only unit in Israel that is equipped in western standards.

Unit YAMAM operator using the Simon. Note that the rifle is a 14.5 inch barrel M4 (the carbine version of the M16A2) rather then standard issue primary weapon of unit YAMAM - a 11.5 inch barrel Colt Commando. The reason for this different choice of weapons is that extreme short barrel weapon, like the Colt Commando, don't built enough gas pressure in their barrels to safely fire rifle grenades, and in some cases the barrel is even too short to properly mount such grenades. The M4 is also fitted with a rubber but stock, an Aimpoint 5000 red dot optic and a handguards Rail Interface System (RIS), which allows locating, removal and relocating of optics and other accessories without losing aim.

The Israeli civilian SF units are the only ones Israeli who use the M4. The IDF's Units had a financial problem switching from their CAR-15 (the carbine version of the M16A1) to the M4. So instead they created a half-breed, mounting a 1 in 7 twist heavy barrel on the CAR-15 and drilled 1-2 additional holes in the CAR-15's stock (same as the M4 four position stock).

The sidearm is Glock 17 9mm, which is the standard sidearm of unit YAMAM. Note that in combat situation unit YAMAM's operators hold their sidearm in easy to reach thigh tactical holsters. However, since this is only a demonstration, the operator placed the handgun in his vest's empty magazine pouch (which is empty because the magazine is now inserted in the M4). Note that the Glock is only use by unit YAMAM. The rest of the Israeli civilian SF units use the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Jericho 941 9mm, and the IDF units use either the Sig Sauer P226 or the FN High Power handguns.

The operator is wearing a standers unit YAMAM's entry element vest made by the Israeli company Kata, YAMAM gray Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and a Oakley protective eyewear.

Note the unique helmet mounted accessory - it's a flashlight used when no flashlight is mounted on the primary weapon (like In this case). However, usually unit YAMAM's operators have a Visible Light Illuminator (VLI) flashlight device attached to under their Colt Commando's handguards. Therefore their helmet-mounted accessories are either a fiber optic mini cameras or a monocular Night Vision Goggles (NVG). Note the looped electric cable around the flashlight base. During operational usage this cable is connected to a massive battery located in the back of the operator vest, which allows long hours of illumination without adding additional weight to the already heavy helmet.

Mounting the Simon on the M4/M16


Few Seconds after firing, The Simon on its way to the targeted door. Note the short distance from which the Simon is being fired. Take into consideration that this close range includes fire range safety distance. Hence, in real situation the Simon can be fired from much shorter range. This allows great tactical flexibility including using the Simon against inner doors, rather then external ones, once the entry team has already entered the parameter.

Moment of impact.

After the impact

Note the clear, almost surgical removal of the door, with minor if any collateral damage to the structure. Also, note the red color writing on the right side on back of the operator vest. The writing says "Kata", an Israeli based company formed by two ex-Israeli SF Soldiers, which makes excellent tactical gear, especially vests.


The old adage, "You fight as you train" is a warning to the wise that we have to be as realistic as possible or else pay for it when the bullets are for real. We are unfortunately not doing this due to the limitations on the amount of destructiveness we can apply to training structures and our people. The key weakness has been that we cannot use live ammunition, but this has been recently solved by using less powerful ammunition with non-lethal plastic bullets filled with paintball type colors like SIMUNITION. The realism now matches the firepower effects of real bullets and our tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) can develop in more realistic ways at least for the close ranges in an urban setting where SIMUNITIONs are effective (under 100 meters).

One area where we are still weak is in team entry into a room through a predictable door using predictable "stacking" techniques. This may be ok for police SWAT situations but it's a disaster waiting to happen in urban combat where its live or die not freedom or arrest. The solution has always been in a combat situation to enter a building or a room at a point of our choosing where booby-traps and enemy fires are not likely to be in place using a breach hole. Breach holes can be made by the explosive effects of a tank main gun, autocannon fired in a continuous stream, demolitions charges or today with an infantryman firing a breaching charge from a safe stand-off.

The U.S. Army is proceeding with the Rifle Launched Entry Munition (RLEM), which is a bullet-trap rifle grenade that upon contact after launch creates a breach hole in building walls. We need to be able to simulate it in training or else our TTP will not reflect the reality of its existence and capabilities and we will continue to execute the increasingly risky predictable door-entry TTP.

FM 7-8 Change 1

LREM Picture:

How to simulate the RLEM?

I propose we take the currently type-classified U.S. Army Launched Grappling Hook (LGH) and remove or cover its snag wires with a soft plastic cap holding paintball pellets. Upon launch using a full-power blank, the RLEM simulator flies towards the wall and upon impact splatters paint ball pellets marking where the breach hole is. The team then gets to proceed through the nearest door to that spot via referee (Observer/Controller: O/C) and "enter" the building from that unexpected point on. Obviously if holes are cut-out of MOUT buildings and covered with plywood the plywood could be removed to simulate a breach hole being created.

What we need is get the LGH maker (SAA Intnl), the RLEM maker (Rafael, Israeli company) and Tippman (Paintballs) to join together to make the RLEM simulator for the U.S. Army to mass produce it and make it available for all Army units to better train as we need to fight.


IDF in action in combat TODAY photo album



FM 7-8 Rifle Squad, Change 1: URBAN OPERATIONS

FM 7-30 Infantry Brigade; Appendix J: URBAN OPERATIONS




Where the draft manuals are located:


What you find under Interim Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) at the TRADOC web site:

FM 7-4 The Interim Brigade Reconnaissance Platoon (Coordinating Draft)
FM 7-5 The Interim Brigade Infantry Squad and Platoon (Coordinating Draft)
FM 7-12 The Interim Brigade Infantry Company (Preliminary Draft)
FM 7-22 The Interim Brigade Infantry Battalion (Preliminary Draft)
FM 7-32 The Interim Brigade Combat Team (Preliminary Draft)

To get a TRADOC doctrine password:


To get a .mil domain email address needed to get that password.....

U.S. Army Knowledge Online (AKO)



Another danger of the MILES illusion is that direct fire "gunslinger" tactics result in our men using forward slope defenses which expose them to early enemy observation, and constant enemy pummeling by artillery and mortars long before the enemy even gets within organic infantry weapons range!!! The British Army use of the reverse slope defense was KEY TO THEIR VICTORY in the Falklands war, while the Argentine use of the forward slope defense allowed naval gunfire, 105mm light gun howitzers and MILAN ATGMs to destroy their lines of defense, which hastened their defeat.


One of this pages' authors writes. The 1st Cav took the credit for opening the road but it was actually done by elements of the 11th ACR and some Armored Cav Bns attached to the 1st Cav. Of course the Mc and 1st Cav took all the credit. I served with many of the men who participated in that operation and they were very proud of it. That as one of the few times they got a chance to do their jobs and they loved it. They made hooks into the surrounding jungle and would pop up a klick down the road and the engineers would work the area in between. That was where I first heard of using mortars in mobile operations. One of my Recon Plt leaders was a Troop Commander there and he used three 4.2 inch heavy mortars (saw the pictures) and a lead element of M113 mounted Vulcan 20mm miniguns (saw the pictures) to fix ambushing NVA.

Too bad the M163 ADA Vulcans were not transferred to U.S. Army Light Infantry units to give them air-deliverable fire support, huh?

Then -113s and Sheridans would crash into the jungle and attack them from behind. The NVA were not able to deal with that and they kept up the pressure (means go fast) until they reached what the official Mc history called a "link up from the Khe Sanh side". The Story I heard was they linked up about a mile and a half outside the main gate and that was only because the Cav units were ordered to halt and wait for the marines. This was supposedly to prevent a friendly fire accident but some people believe different.

One of the unusual things about this operation is the desperation to relieve the marines was so great the AC units were allowed for one of the first times to fight as they saw fit. Up until that time an ambushed Cav unit would turn online and make a frontal attack into the ambush. The NVA would mine the front of their positions and dig in deep. The result would be the tracks hitting mines and being destroyed by RPGs. They would use air burst from the mortars in front of the Ambush to destroy mines. Not always successful but definitely helpful.

It takes a THINKING military to do air/ground maneuver

General JFC Fuller writes about tactical inflexibility:

"Normally, in a higher command exercise, a scheme is set in which it is the rule and not the exception for the staff of each formation concerned to work out each problem, and every detail of each problem, whilst its general, the one man who should be tested, sits aside, often taking a dolce far niente interest in proceedings. When the pow-wow takes place, there is usually a prolonged discussion on the official form of the operation orders (incidentally a form seldom used in war), orders made out by the staff. This frequently leads to these humble servants being flayed alive whilst their masters frown opprobrium upon them even if they are not quite certain what all the trouble is about.

I have worked out scores of exercises, and taken part in dozens of staff tours, and though I am of opinion that my various generals seldom satisfied their intellectual hunger, I anyhow learnt this: that exercises set to bring out definite tactical lessons are not worth the setting. What an exercise should bring out is the personality and common sense of the generals. What do they know and what do they not know; what will they dare to do and what will they not dare to do? On such things will future victory and defeat depend, far more so than on dotting the t's and crossing the i's of operation orders."

Like the French generals who we learned from in WWI, the U.S. military is based on blind obedience to regiment large groups of men to march to their deaths synchronized to massive amounts of firepower. The Generals/Admirals in charge now resist empowerment and creating a thinking military because its easier to control people in the dark than it is to have them knowledgeable and making their leaders stay on their toes by having to continue to lead the way with new tactics, techniques and procedures. Its better to deal with Article 15s and drunk/disorderly conduct than the E4 aware of his naval service professional history (USS Maine, Pearl Harbor) asking you why your deck machine guns are not being manned to repel suicide boats as you steam into a Moslem fundamentalist country? Basically, General officers realize the enlisted man brutalized in basic training cannot be trusted with live ammunition because they know his head is NOT in the game and cannot be trusted. Trust takes too long and is too hard, and you can't have trust with rank-has-its-privileges (RHIP). This is why U.S. military personnel weaned on a draftee blind-obedience culture continue to get blown up by asymmetric enemy attacks, because they are not thinking warriors who can be trusted with live ammunition to defend themselves.

Those that say we do not need a professional, thinking, alert military culture because we can bomb enemies into submission from a distance forget that it has never worked that way and men on the ground or water's surface always are needed afterwards to block and search the enemy to insure he complies.

Short answer:

At JRTC last year HUMINT provided a very detailed map of OPFOR positions at Shughart-Gordon (S-G) MOUT site at Fort Polk's JRTC. I still have the presentation-sized poster. It clearly showed that the soccer field adjacent to S-G was UNDEFENDED, yet we drove by Army helicopters, rotors bent and unused to our 2D deaths, even though we had German Wiesel AFVs that could have fit inside the CH-47Ds! And M113A3s that could have been underslung and flown the 7-8 clicks to the objective OVER the mines and ambushes, road blocks using 3D maneuver.

My point is that even if we got the "HUMINT", we wouldn't ACT ON IT any differently than our rigid TTP.

Why is this?

Long answer:

The Old Men/Young Men Paradigm

The U.S. military is run by old men, decisions executed by young men.

General Fuller writes about the "age" problem:

"Lastly, to turn to the moral sphere. Here the problem, or the main problem, is a dual one, namely, to imbue a general with a sense of responsibility, which is the mainspring of decision, determination and resolution, and to free him from the trammels of his headquarters and so enable him to mix with his men, to show himself to them, to speak to them, and advertise that he is a live, a human, and a personal factor.

The first of these two problems depends upon a remodeling of our system of discipline, which is still largely eighteenth - century. In war, as in peace, individuality Is far more important than uniformity; personality than congruity, and originality than conventionality. 'War', writes Clausewitz, 'is the province of chance. In no sphere of human activity is such a margin to be left for this intruder.' As this is largely true, no regulations and no rules can cover the art of generalship. Like the great artist the general should possess genius, and if he does not, then no effort should be spared to develop his natural abilities, in place of suppressing them. Our existing system is, so I think, based on suppression, suppression to a large extent of an unconscious order. The old are often suspicious of the young and do not welcome criticism, yet without criticism, both destructive and constructive, there can be no progress. As I have already mentioned, the easiest course to adopt is to lay down rules and regulations which must be implicitly obeyed; yet chance knows no compulsion, and such rules and regulations are apt to cramp intelligence and originality. This is seen clearly from the frequent use with which 'Bolshevik' is applied to anyone who dares to think independently; yet if this 'vice' will teach us how to rely upon our common sense and how to speak frankly and without fear, what matters a name if common sense and self-reliance will help us win the next war. In place, so it seems to me, our present system of discipline, which is so truly Prussian and so untruly English, is responsible for creating what I will call the 'Cringe-viki', those knock-kneed persuasive tacticians who gut an army not with a knife but with a honeyed word."

When we "fight" at a CTC like JRTC or NTC, neither are realistic enough to be like combat. If we truly played to win and made beating OPFOR the goal (as it should be) the old men are afraid "gamemanship" would be employed by the young men using the loopholes of an unrealistic setting that in a shooting, combat setting could get people killed and be disastrous.

For example, in 1982, young marine radio operator (me) was monitoring his AN/PRC-77 FM radio in the clear at Camp Pendleton, Ca during the Mc's vaunted "MCRESS" evaluation. It was all really half-ass against a half-ass OPFOR with no radio-electric combat capabilities (notice later the Mc's PRC-77s were jammed at Khafji in 1990 and 26 men died to rescue the surrounded Mc force recon unit there). Dug-in on the forward slope of a hilly mass adjacent to a paved-road ("hardball") we sat for hours as we watched OV-10 Broncos a couple clicks away pull up and discharge Mc force recon paratroopers to gain "HUMINT". When not watching the "air show", I flipped the channel of my radio and found OPFOR's radio net. Learning that they were massing to attack us, I deepened my voice and masqueraded as their Colonel and told them the attack was called off and to proceed to a hill mass 3 clicks away. Suffice it to say they never attacked us!

The point is, that the "old men" running the event would have been furious as we had traveled all the way from Wisconsin to do MCRESS, the reputation of the marine reserves were on the line and time was short. The old men would want "the maximum use of training time, resources" and want the "maximum combat training" ie; OPFOR to attack us. If they had found out about it, I would have received an Article 15 for not "being uniform" like everyone else not an achievement medal "attaboy" for good initiative. Bad judgment? What's smart or not smart to do has to be taught/learned, if your organization is built on NOT thinking, not learning and blind obedience is it any wonder it selects LAV armored cars that cannot get themselves off sandy beaches and V-22 converti-helicopters that cannot fly and continually crash? When the old men learn to think, then they will be capable of teaching the young men to think...

The truth is that both the old and young men are right to a degree on this issue.

In real war the enemy can "play" to win, and if we do not realize that, he can get an "asymmetric" advantage on us, it could go very badly against us and it could be extremely one-sided (Khafji). Had more RTOs like myself had messed up more exercises it would have revealed the short-comings of our single-channel radios sooner and they could have been replaced before 26 men had to die in battle. [A USAF AC-130 Spectre gunship aircraft stayed overhead into the daytime to save the trapped marines but was later shot down by a SA-16 and the selfish marines never even said a "thank-you" for this unselfish sacrifice that saved their asses. Of late, since USAF AC-130Us have been getting media attention the usmc has publicly boasted that they would buy their own.] The old men are right in that we have to make maximum use of training opportunities but NOT at the expense of lessons learned. Basically, the old men of the Mc don't think there is anything wrong with the Mc needing fixing, so they thought one exercise done "right" would be enough. This is amateurism. The truth is that we needed dozens of exercises to find out exactly what's wrong against an alert, living OPFOR not a canned, by-the-book "strawmen" who does what we expect----because we ARE @#$%^ up, we just don't know it yet until its too late.

Men-against-fire "vapor lock"

So now we fast forward years later to myself in Army uniform at NTC and JRTC where living OPFORs "play". The problem is that "BlueFOR" is not allowed to play, because its not desired that they beat OPFOR. The old men who run the Army are afraid that if BlueFOR played to beat OPFOR they would be like me at MCRESS; find some tactically unsound trick and use it to win, and would try later under fire and men would die. Think of the movie, "The Dirty Dozen" and their use of the enemy's arm bands to infiltrate and capture the enemy headquarters. This is why at the end of every NTC/JRTC the AARs don't result in a flood of calls for improved TTP posted on the www for all the Army to share. We don't want our men to use adaptive tactics out of the old men's fears of the men-against-fire "vapor lock".

Before I left the half-assed Mc, we did go to their vaunted Combined Arms eXercise (CAX) twice in the 29 Palms, Desert. This is a live-fire exercise using live bullets from men and aircraft and ground vehicles. Its extremely rigid and scripted for safety reasons or so they say. We went twice and went to exactly the same hills and places ("Dime Dingo") for both exercises and attacked WWI-style rigidly online without any sub-unit fire/movement. There is no living OPFOR, just tires and hulks of wrecked vehicles to shoot at. The most difficult sub-set exercise is the attack of a dug-in enemy at Range 400. Our plan: engage the enemy at maximum weapons ranges to suppress and then fire/move into the kill. Our 2 x M60 7.62mm Medium Machine Guns on tripods positioned on top of the flanking safety berm and opened fire at 1,000 meters. My rifle squad and I moved into the low ground below and began firing and moving while maintaining a rigid single-rank line in a direct frontal assault towards the trenchlines 1 click away. We started out with a full load of ammunition, 7 magazines of 30 rounds for our new M16A2 5.56mm assault rifles.

At about 300 meters everyone had run out of ammunition. To include the M60s.

Our Platoon "Commander" was not thrilled to see us silently moving in rushes to the trenchline. I knew this was going to happen and had conserved my firing rate and entered the trenchline with my RTO who was the only other man with some ammo left and we finished the assault. Yeah, right. We entered the trench line and turned towards the rear of the trench with an Observer/Controller at our backs to "fire". All ammo expended, the range was declared safe, and the exercise declared over and a smashing success: we had followed Mc "doctrine" for the desert. Maximum firepower at maximum ranges. "Send a bullet and not a man".

The point?

When real bullets are being fired people get scared. The shit is for real. A certain "ultra-conservative" thought process takes place, and invariably Americans chose the frontal assault every time for myriad reasons to include safety concerns. Without real trust, confidence and control measures born of competence from multiple field exercises REALISTICALLY SIMULATED, sending an enveloping assault force while a base-of-fire (BOF) suppresses is asking for trouble. If the BOF doesn't cease or shift, the assault force can get hit by "friendly fire". Men can die and it's the end of that Commanding Officer's career.

So when the "old men" set up places like JRTC and NTC they do not want innovative, flexible tactics used, because they think in shooting war you will not and should not use them.

This is totally wrong.

All of these experiences should show the difficulty on the fire-swept battlefield of getting the positional advantage needed to defeat an enemy by direct-fire weapons. That difficulty only gets worse when its live bullets. Thus, the plan of action, MUST BE BOLD to overcome the fog of war, the limitations of men, and the "friction" of an enemy fighting for his life. If the course of action is not SIGNIFICANTLY BOLD, unexpected, "plays" upon the enemy's weakness with our strengths (asymmetric) its likely to be a frontal, firepower-attrition blood bath, as it was when we did slam into the wire, mines blocking the roads into S-G MOUT site at JRTC or ran out of ammo 300 meters short of the trenches at range 400.

General Fuller writes about the need for imaginative tactics:

"Other factors were, I believe, more important. I have mentioned size and complexity of organization, and to these I now add age. Old generals have always existed, but in the Napoleonic Wars, the average age of the higher commanders was under forty; at Waterloo, Napoleon was forty-six and so was Wellington. In the American Civil War it was much the same. In my book - The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant - I pointed out that, in 1861, the average age of twenty Federal and Confederate officers who as generals, played leading parts in the war, was thirty-eight and a half years. In the Franco-Prussian War, the age was more advanced, but this war was so brief that little opportunity was offered for the younger men to rise in rank. It was so successful, and its success could so clearly be traced to superior organization, superior tactics and superior strategy, that after the war it was overlooked that colonels still led their battalions into action, and that all but the highest grades of generals were on the battlefield and within the bullet zone. Some years ago now, I visited the battlefield of Rezonville, and a little west of the village I came across a small bench upon which the King of Prussia was seated on the evening of August 18th, 1870, when he received a message from Moltke announcing the victory of Gravelotte. At the time it struck me that for so august a personage it was extraordinarily near to the front. Today, the King would have been at least fifty miles further back, or more likely in Berlin. [The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, p. 5 (1929).]

In war it is almost impossible to exaggerate the evil effects of age upon generalship, and through generalship on the spirit of an army. In peace time it may be otherwise, but in war time the physical, intellectual and moral stresses and strains which are at once set up immediately discover the weak links in a general's harness. First, war is obviously a young man's occupation; secondly, the older a man grows the more cautious he becomes, and thirdly, the more fixed become his ideas. Age may endow a man with experience, but in peacetime there can be no moral experience of war, and little physical experience. Nothing is more dangerous in war than to rely upon peace training; for in modern times, when war is declared, training has always been proved out of date.

Consequently, the more elastic a man's mind is, that is the more it is able to receive and digest new impressions and experiences, the more commonsense will be the actions resulting. Youth, in every way, is not only more elastic than old age, but less cautious and far more energetic. In a moment youth will vault into the saddle of a situation, whilst old age is always looking round for someone to give it a leg up."

If our CTCs are not sufficiently realistic enough for our units to come there with the expectation to adapt and innovate ("play") to win out of fear of drawing the wrong TTP conclusions, then its time we fix them. At S-G, we could turn in our blanks and blank adapters during the PAUSEX and put in SIMUNITION adapters, done goggles and body armor and shoot real bullets with non-lethal paint marks at each other so there some serious pain inflicted if one gets hurt and perhaps after awhile this "realism" will force the players to start doing the unexpected, BOLD actions to get the upper hand to win.

The real reason we don't use adaptive tactics is because the old men have created a dumb-shit military which dehumanizes the young men and does not teach them what and how to think about the modern battlefield because its easier and more ego-gratifying to control/manipulate them if they are in the dark. Maybe this is just the in-your-face-all-the-time marines? But it seems rampant everywhere I go. The U.S. military is not about warfighting and getting the sharpest "cutting edge" to win, its an ego trip of rank, power and prestige-Commanders go to CTCs to get a stamp of approval for promotion---if they try something innovative---and it backfires, they will be considered "suspect" and not promoted. Thus, the CTCs are not real places to learn by trial/error what works/does not to raise the TTP and perfect the force structure/organization of our Army to the level it needs to be to win the first battles and not have to go through a TF Smith-type "learning event".

And the driving force behind this is that we are a firepower-materiel' type U.S. military that DOES NOT believe in maneuver (got this from the French-our "mentors" from WWI). Maneuver requires TRUST and human empowerment---a thinking egalitarian military that listens to its young men and self-corrects-that can trust its men with live ammo (teaching to get maturity/good judgment) so they can defend themselves and not get blown up like the marines in Beirut or the sailors on the USS Cole. Such a professional military would require the older men to mature, mentor and teach the younger men, and this takes time, patience and LOVE, most want to call it quits at the end of the day and go to the O-Club because the lesser ranks are "lesser" beings. The young men want to call it quits as soon as possible and hit the e-club, too to get away from the environment that is not professionally satisfying (to put it mildly). All think that America's supremacy in machines to deliver firepower will make ground maneuver and ground control unnecessary, so its not vigorously perfected in an open, let's-find-a -better-way learning environment. We can play whatever military pomp and circumstance type games makes us feel good, we can play sadistic "Drill instructor" and we can play dumb jock all day long admiring our physiques and equating them to military capability. Instead of adapting, the U.S. military is permeated by "us" and "them" and "who the hell are YOU?" type hubris and egotism concerning any issue; personal existentialism instead of objective, cause/effect, problem/solution that realistic force-on-force combat field training could provide. Even if you are "somebody" the BlueFOR will not listen and goes to its deaths by-the-book-not realizing at one time there was no "book" and someone found out what worked at that time and tried to pass it on in a book to HELP not strangle initiative. For example our O/Cs repeatedly told our Airborne Infantry Battalion to move with our M1s and M2s, using them to crush the wire and act as "moving shields", but they rejected that advice and died in the wire on their own in a separate attack. Then we went in without enough infantry and died. But all was forgotten as the CO did it "by-the-book" and will get a good OER and a promotion to the next rank. The personalities in the unit will change, and months later the unit will return and make the same mistakes all over again.

Realizing that machine-firepower always fails and that our Republic is ALWAYS saved at the last minute by bandaged, bleeding, Soldiers in the mud, in the rain, who stand across a forgotten hell-hole miles away from home...just like the opening scene in the epic film, Gladiator. OR TODAY IN THE BALKANS. Their leader, informs his men that they are all "dead men" but however that he would be there with them to share their fate and lead them by personal example in a desperate attack. Knowing-by-doing, this leader opens fire with his stand-off weapons while pressing ahead with shielded infantry. Knowing that this in itself will not win the issue because after numerous failed frontal assaults he knows his enemy is fierce in close combat and more numerous; he does the BOLD and the UNEXPECTED, and leads a circuitous flanking attack deep into the fierce German warrior's rear in order to crack them as its their only chance to survive.

Perhaps we maneuver only out of desperation because we lack the HUMILITY to think that the enemy may be more capable than us on any issue. The frontal attack mindset feels that we are vastly superior to the enemy and can trounce him with minimal extra effort---all products of the egotistical, existentialist U.S. military culture we have adopted wholesale from the French in WWI whose old men lead-from-a-farm-house-miles-to-the rear taught that methodical battle combined with firepower executed by young men full of blind obedience and vigor could carry out. (See WWI French veteran-based film, "Paths of Glory" starring Kirk Douglas) That this military culture is morally and tactically a failure never seems to get in the way of ourselves emulating it today with increased vigor using the computer.

So what?

If our computer screen displays that the soccer field adjacent to the S-G MOUT site is undefended, and there are Army helicopter "icons" sitting unused at our assembly area? And Wiesel and M113A3 helicopter-transportable AFV "icons" in our "blue arrow" force moving towards the town is there any evidence that we will take this "situational awareness" now that its on a computer screen and not a paper color chart and do anything but the wimpy frontal attack?

I propose and demand that when units arrive at a CTC, their leaders war game their entire battle plans with the OPFOR on a sand table or JANUS computer simulation for the first 3 days as the troops settle in and do PCIs. THEN----before they go out and do it with real troops, weapons and vehicles THEY ARE FORCED TO COME UP WITH AND USE ADAPTED TTPs/PLANs. You lose, YOU CHANGE. They WILL employ the O/Cs advice. No exceptions or else you FLUNK (are replaced by the next subordinate Commander). CTC rotations cost the Army "big dollars" and its high time we "maximize the training opportunities". At the end of the rotation, combat TTPs are collected and posted onto the www for EVERY SOLDIER IN THE ARMY TO REFLECT/CONSIDER/EMPLOY. This can be done with a restrictive access password to keep the CHICOM bastards from studying what we do.

We had best transform our military culture to a professional, thinking, self-correcting joint force that can employ ground maneuver, blocking and presence in asymmetric ways to achieve decisive results and not fatally depend on machine firepower---or else the enemy will be at our gates and their will be no one capable of stopping them from "WMD-ing" (look the acronym up, break a sweat) an American city to ashes.



"Thanks for your note. You put a lot of work into those webpages. Congratulations. I'll be using them.

Couple of thoughts:

1. In Vietnam, I was in the Delta. I usually carried an M79 with a shotgun round in the open chamber. It wasn't a rifle, but for the dense brush, it was nice. The Swedish K was another nice brush gun. When you broke into the open, the M79 was remarkably accurate. I could never get as good with the M203. The VC had the RPG-2 and the AK--which were a tough combination to beat. The 40mm was no match for the RPG.

2. The problem with the M1 and M14 rifle grenades was that the firer needed a special round to fire it. When bullets are flying close by, it was too easy to screw up. Another common problem with the cage-type stick grenades was that folks would forget to arm the grenade before firing. The rifle-trap grenade solved both these problems but probably came on the scene after we had bought into the 40mm concept.

3. A real whizz-bang weapon for the urban fight (or any close fight) is the Russian RPO flame-thrower. It can reach out a kilometer away with a flame round, smoke round or a thermobaric (fuel-air) round. We are still horsing around with the four-shot projecter that nevers gets out of the arms room and no one knows how to use. And we still have some back-pack flame throwers somewhere in the inventory. Smoke and flame are big in the urban fight and fuel-air makes a tremendous bunker buster. I feel that flame warfare is an area that we aren't really thinking too hard about--probably due to the bad press that napalm received.

4. Some of the recent Soviet/Russian hand grenades are impressive. They have done some great stuff with fragmentation patterns and capabilities."

An Army Colonel combat veteran writes:

"No disagreement on your basic points. However, consider this. JRTC (like NTC) creates too much artificiality. The illusion that a few people on the ground will be decisive in any terrain is dangerous. For instance, at NTC the effects of air burst artillery and mortar fire on volcanic rock is ignored and little men with rifles are allowed to run through the rocks as though they would survive such an experience. Today's automatic weapons are extraordinarily lethal. Having been under automatic fire in a dismounted mode, I gained tremendous respect for the killing power of such weapons even in the hands of the incompetent. Finding ways to position dismounted infantry to survive is critical. Dismounted infantry is simply too easy to kill with aid of today's targeting, acquisition and stand-off attack technology. We will not learn that at the training centers."