HMMWVs even with MK-19 40mm Grenade Machine Guns couldn't break through barricades and ambushes to reach Task Force Ranger, it took ARMORED vehicles

"The Ranger platoon had been unable to break through after being badly ambushed, losing one or two vehicles and suffering several casualties......"

"It was apparent that neither the Ranger Ground Reaction Force platoon nor Company "C" was going to be able to fight through to the crash site...two helicopters had been shot down in the Bakara Market area in the heart of General Aideed's guerrilla enclave, and a company sized element of TF Ranger was surrounded and fighting for their lives, taking heavy casualties...."

"The pilots would not fire from stationary positions because of enemy ground fire, but would execute 'running' gun runs...'Running' fire is not as accurate as 'stationary' fire...Air strikes are still only suppressive fire, however, and did not completely destroy enemy positions or buildings. Many buildings that were struck were reoccupied by Somali guerrillas within minutes..."

-U.S. Army Cpt. Charles Ferry, a leader in the battle to rescue U.S. Army Rangers trapped in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993. The deadlock wasn't broken until allied nations with armored vehicles (some U.S. hand-me-downs) were begged and coerced by the 10th Mountain Division (Light) to come save the Rangers and Delta operators.

10th Mountain Division (L)

Operational maneuver successes by Army light units in places like Panama in 1989 were upsetting to the heavy tanker mentality "graybeards" as well as the light infantry narcissists who want to fight wars completely on foot. PT, marksmanship and battle drills are not going to stop enemy bullets. When faced with superior enemy firepower and numbers maneuvering against you, the answer is not more foot-sloggers with hand weapons--but an armored shield that counteracts and negates their firepower. In the latter's Psychological Human Investment-in-a-Method (PHIM) egotism; they deployed to Somalia in 1993 without any light tanks of their own--which should have been an institutional improvement made after the success in Panama. Even a 2000 presentation to a RAND Urban Warfare conference displayed a classic example of PHIM by some blue collar, enlisted FIDO stay-in-their-lane-because-of-their-pain types who can only approach problems with one favorite tool.

What's tragic is that in the book, A History of Fort Benning, on page 406 it reveals that Combat Engineers--Sappers--deployed with M113 Gavins to Somalia in September, yet the light infantry bigots on the scene didn't bother to utilize their tracked, armored mobility; resulting in the debacle on October 3, 1993 where 19 Rangers and some Delta Force operators died needlessly when surrounded and pinned down by enemy fires.

In late September, elements of 317th Engineer Battalion and other units of the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth S. Kasprisin, participated in a standard rotation deployment of troops to Somalia to provide combat and logistics support. The deployment included M-113 armored personnel carriers, utility trucks with trailers, earth movers, and other engineer equipment.

The question is what was the 317th Sappers doing on October 3, 1993 when them and their light tanks were needed to rescue the trapped Rangers?

Surely there must have been some Delta operators--or Garrison himself--who were at Panama in 1989 when a Little Bird during the Kurt Muse rescue was shot-down after lifting off from the roof of Modelo Prison and M113 Gavins came to their rescue...or the armored task force with Gavins that hunted down Noriega...

So less than 4 years afterwards, despite the clear positive examples of light tanks bringing about victory (+) and preventing defeat (-), the brass at Headquarters Department of the Army deliberately lied to the Airborne to get them to give up their M551 Sheridan light tanks, sending them to NTC while promising purchase of the new M8 Buford Armored Gun System. Once the light tanks were gone, the Army lied again and cancelled the AGS purchases and then disbanded the Airborne's light tank unit in 1997 despite the fact they could easily have been equipped with M113 Gavins and fitted with recoilless rifles and/or TOW ATGMs for firepower.

Santa Barbara of Spain's TC7 twin-106mm Recoilless Rifle cupola available off-the-shelf

A so-called "information age" U.S. Army battles a barely agrarian (can't even feed themselves) band of thugs in downtown Mogadishu. Our "High-tech", "Third wave" (1) forces get stymied by "industrial age" mass-produced AKM automatic weapons and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) firing from behind urban cover. This fire dominates the battlefield, downing helicopters, setting soft-skin vehicles and so-called "armored cars" on fire, and turning men into bleeding casualties, pinned down and unable to move. (2) How could this happen? What went wrong?

"I see a whole lot of Albanias in the future; a whole lot of Haitis and Mogadishus. That's because of this globalization of information, globalization of population, birth and migration, a certain amount of expectation and fascination"

-GEN John J. Sheehan (r)

For a detailed account of the October 3, 1993 Raid click the AH-6 "Little Bird" that helped save TF Ranger and regularly assigned to U.S. Army SOF units

What Somalia should have shown us is how our forces are poorly organized to fight the wrong pattern of war for today and the future. Today's emasculated U.S. military (Iowa class battleships mothballed, tracked light tanks, assault gun systems, armored personnel carriers proven in years of combat that can be flown directly into world hot spots and maneuver in confined third world country streets and traverse water-soaked and rubble-strewn primitive areas canceled, retired or thrown into the ocean to make reefs to feed fish in favor of rubber-tired armored cars [Would you want to go to WAR in vehicles that use RUBBER TIRES---these things can't even stay together in PEACETIME conditions---consider the Concorde airliner that crashed/burned after take-off when a tiny piece of metal shredded its tires, or the thousands of Sport Utility Vehicles whose defective rubber tires have caused hundreds of deaths and a massive recall], recoilless rifles in storage, M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles (CEVs) with building/ bunker-busting 165mm demolition guns scrapped, Bangalore torpedoes replaced with rocket line charges that cannot fly through heavily vegetated and built-up areas, vehicles not sandbagged or armed etc.) has forgotten about physical reality and mechanical advantage in favor of the "siren's song" of finding a cheap, easy, painless victory through electronic gadgetry targeting for munitions delivered from safe stand-offs, even though an alert enemy and the situation may not offer us an "Achilles Heel" to exploit or the enemy doesn't provide himself as a convenient target by camouflage, decoys and other asymetric means. By embracing a policy of sea/air derived stand-off warfare since 1947, posturing we have forgotten how to dominate on the ground in the physical plane without heavy casualties.

Sun Tzu who said;

" One cannot always avoid a fight and one cannot always choose his battlefield"

We'll be forced to shoot $75,000 missiles designed to kill tanks at hundred-dollar buildings. We've forgotten that a force with a computer screen that is stuck in a minefield is still stuck in a minefield. (3)

Digitization will be next to worthless if we neglect the physical ability to dominate the physical world we still live in. In our cultural arrogance, we've advanced ourselves to the "Third Wave" of warfare when we haven't even solved the "industrial age"-Vietnam War riddle of massed mobile irregulars with plentiful automatic weapons, shock weapons and now signature-less ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles), undetectable mines and night sensors-vision devices. Our unbalanced view of the modern and future battlefield will lead us to both further disaster and stalemate and eventual loss of super-power status if we do not "wake up" and discern the correct pattern of war, and the state of modern man which creates it. The new FM 100-5 Operations U.S. Army manual is a reported to now be removing all physical weather-environmental concerns as tactical, operational and strategic factors..... as if moving an Army through deep snow only requires the click of a computer mouse pad.


The pattern of war changes with human society as it changes. When railroads became common, the military used them for war. Ditto for computers, airplanes, ships etc. However, at the end of WWII, the atomic bomb led many to ponder the future pattern of war and to reflect if we would be able to think ahead and be better prepared than we were for WWII. British Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tucker, commanded the 4th Indian Division of the 8th Army across North Africa and Italy and wrote an amazing military book,The Pattern of War, which is now available in reprinted form as marine corps FM Reference Publication 12-27, 15 May 1989 (5).

PDFFMFRP 12-27 The Pattern of War
HTML The Pattern of War: Illustrated & Hyperlinked

General Tucker asserts that the reason why we were disastrously unready for WWII was because military service journals were run by careerist "yes-men" who would not print what needed to be said to determine the correct pattern of war. This "politically correct" fear of the truth and constructive criticism is prevalent today in U.S. military service journals that are for the most part afraid to print anything too controversial or runs counter to the current hype of "Third Wave" RMA digitization of the battlefield.

General Tucker proposes that war is always fought with maneuver if the conditions are right-if not stalemate results. (7) If the pattern of war is not thoroughly studied in peacetime, mass carnage could result-as in WWI when railroads could feed more mass of men, arms and weapons than could be maneuvered on the battlefield by pedestrian means. One of the most profound things he points out is; that once stalemate results, Armies must have siege trains-a means to break through strong points to regain maneuver. Our own Airland Battle theorist, General William DePuy said : "Maneuver must be earned"... (8) Even mongol mobile warrior, Genghis Khan had to develop siege engines, catapults, scaling ladders etc. to prevent complete disaster from bypassed enemy strongpoints that couldn't be ignored. Since today's U.S. military is in love with outflanking a rural battlefield Army (reliving Desert Storm's "Hail Mary") like the French-British generals were before WWI, they are going to run into stalemate and disaster when they blunder into cities-as they must since the world is urbanizing into one big "strongpoint" Stalingrad or Beirut. In fact, official U.S. Doctrinal manuals admit this; consider;

"....urban growth in all areas of the world has changed the face of the battlefield.........."

"The probability is great that United States forces will become engaged by enemy forces who are intermingled with the civilian population...."

"The increased population and accelerated growth of cities have made the problems of combat in built-up areas an urgent requirement for the U.S. Army. This type of combat cannot be avoided. The make-up and distribution of smaller built-up areas as part of an urban complex make the isolation of enemy fires occupying one or more of these smaller enclaves increasingly difficult. MOUT is expected to be the future battlefield in Europe and Asia.......

"Friendly and enemy doctrine reflect the fact that more attention must be given to urban combat.....

-FM 90-10-1 An Infantryman's Guide to combat in built-up areas

This was written in 1992! Not only is there no excuse for Somalia, there is no reason why "light-itis" exists in the infantry to fight in cities without AFV SHOCK ACTION. Read FM 90-10-1 online by clicking the hyperlink above. Or go to the U.S. Army Infantry Professional Development (AIPD) web site here and enroll in:

IN 0531 Combat in Built-up Areas
IN 0726 Military Operations on urban terrain (MOUT) Offense
INO 736 Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) Part II


The irony is that exactly 50 years before 1993 the 1st Ranger Battalion was annihilated at Cisterna--because it lacked any tanks of its own for armored mobility and firepower. If Rangers are going to "range" deep into enemy territory and strike at high-value targets (HVTs) they are likely to be HEAVILY DEFENDED. Its possible to achieve surprise on the way IN, but to expect it on the way out after the enemy's concentric rings of security are alerted is madness.

Even to get in you might have to FIGHT to punch through enemy defenses like the armor-plated HMS Campbeltown was in order to ram the docks at St. Nazaire with high explosives. However when the British Commandos dismounted they were cut to pieces by German fires trying to hand emplace HE satchel charges to do further damage. One of the lessons the British learned--that our light infantry narcissism refuses to learn is to have an armored tank project or place the HE charge to do the job as the success of General Percy Hobart's 79th Armored Division "Funnies" showed on D-Day and the march on to Germany afterwards.

To adapt properly to the pattern of war, American Light, Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger/Special Operations infantry needs to be LIGHT TANK AIR-MECHANIZED.


"The command and control structure of TF RANGER remains of interest. Per the Goldwater-Nicols Defense Reorganization Act, the unified commander was entitled to organize his forces as he saw fit. General Hoar [usmc] had the TF RANGER commander, Major General William Garrison, report to him directly. Thus, TF RANGER did not fall under the UNOSOM II commander, and at all times TF RANGER remained under U.S. operational command and control. Major General Garrison did, however, coordinate TF RANGER operations with Major General Thomas M. Montgomery, the commander of U.S. Forces Somalia.

By 28 August the task force had arrived in country, was conducting training exercises, and was setting up the necessary liaison and communication networks, TF RANGER was made up of Special Operations ground forces, Special Operations helicopters, Air Force Special tactics personnel, and SEALs. During August and September 1993, the task force conducted six missions into Mogadishu, all of which were tactical successes. They ran these missions both by day and night, and used both helicopters and vehicles to reach their targets. Although Aideed remained free, the cumulative effect of these missions limited his movements."

When AFVs were requested, why didn't MARINE Gen Hoar vigorously insist that they be supplied? Whats a mc General doing commanding U.S. Army troops? Read the reports of the requests for AFVs, you'll find Gen. Hoar stonewalling the issue... to create an Army mistake to enhance his own service? Why wasn't Gen Hoar made responsible for the mistakes? Lets insure light AFVs are organic to light, air-deployed troops.

What if a clever enemy chooses to hide and fight within cities instead of the rural, open battlefield which we understand and can bring all our weapons, forces to bear? Hiding behind innocent civilians are we going to wipe-out city blocks with uncontrolled fires ala Panama in 1989, the SLA shoot-out in Los Angeles in 1974, Operation MOVE in Philadelphia or the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco , Texas? We need a surgical siege capability to break the coming deadlock of combat in the cities and electronic gadgetry alone is not going to be enough. But first, we must understand the pattern of war by understanding today's pattern of society.


As much as I admire Alvin and Heidi Toffler for their intellectual courage, their central premise that man is entering an enlightened "information age" is incorrect because it assumes that man's spiritual/moral position is inexorably getting better because of it. They automatically assume that "software" is superior to "hardware"-that a society that preoccupies itself with mental tasks will automatically be superior to those closest to the physical. President Theodore Roosevelt back at the dawn of the 20th Century sought to save America's wilderness areas for the very reason that he knew the coming urbanization of the country would leave us without an avenue to challenge ourselves physically. His idea was to keep American strong physically by the character needed to interact and preserve the nation's wilderness. Today, with urban sprawl spreading from coast to coast, people are starting to feel crowded and unable to venture out into fewer wilderness areas, violence within living areas is at a high as general incivility reigns.

The U.S. military is noting a declining score on recruits taking physical fitness tests. If the U.S.military neglects physical mechanical advantage on the battlefield, it will become the "couch potato" wimps so vividly shown in the popular film, Demolition Man. A force with clever schemes but no means to execute them on the physical battlefield. "Virtual reality" has become an escape from living real reality which requires physical conditioning and character-an end unto itself and not just a "means to an end". In response, some are throwing themselves into a vain pursuit of a perfected body as if some sort of physical fitness will solve all battlefield problems; this isn't it, either. You cannot load enough high explosive on the backs of our soldiers to overcome what was built by machines unless you are willing to spill gallons of blood to get close enough and often enough- to reduce defended buildings to rubble. Robert W. Black, in his book, Rangers in World War II said the following about the disastrous Dieppe Raid planned by General Bernard Montgomery where commandos assaulted fortified positions with little fire support other than what they carried in their hands;

"68% of the 4,963 Canadian troops were casualties and 913 were killed outright.... On August 19, 1942, the Canadians did all that flesh could do against fire, but has been proven on battlefield after battlefield against an aroused, entrenched enemy, courage is not a substitute for fire support..."


Aside from the fact that even in ancient Greece their idealized "Olympians" proved weak and sickly when they went out into the field to fight or grow food, what we need is a mindset of a Rommel or a Gavin that uses all physical, mental and spiritual means-not just one's biceps to effect a positive physical, mental and spiritual result on the battlefield. When British Mathilda tanks were charging at him in the battle of France, Rommel didn't send his "HOOAH troops" to charge the tanks with hand grenades; he turned his 88mm anti-aircraft guns around and had them fire directly at the incoming tanks, saving the battle for him.

Its Colonel James M. Gavin insisting on 75mm pack howitzers and not light mortars be dropped with his men for the night parachute assault on Sicily. Then the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment Commander personally forms a defense on the reverse slope of Biazza Ridge using a pair of these 75mm pack howitzers to stop German Tiger tanks when they learn their hand-held 2.36 inch "Bazookas" are ineffective. Gavin's Paratroops stop the Herman Goering Panzer Division from reaching the invasion beaches at Sicily. Today's "laptop warrior" sending an "e-mail" message to higher headquarters isn't the same as a ground commander on the scene who can influence the battle by his personal leadership. For example; it may take a commander on the ground to "convince" a towed artillery battery or Air Defense Artillery Avenger HMMWV platoon to take 2.75" rockets and move forward and direct-fire engage a target if our current lightly equipped troops get stuck in a desperate city fight. Generally speaking, towed tube artillery wants to stay back from the front "lines" and fire indirect fire....."e-mail" on a laptop is too easy a message too ignore. It'll take a Commander on the scene....a Rommel, Chamberlain, Sherman, Lee, Patton, Ridgway or Gavin to "save the day" in a fight where our force structure is not up to the job...if the situation isn't beyond improvisations. IN 0531 Combat in built-up areas states:

"The direct-fire system is the most effective fire support in built-up areas. Once a target can be located in a building, one or two direct-fire rounds can accomplish what entire salvos of indirect-fire artillery cannot. Direct fire support is key to success in fighting in built-up areas..."

Good News

Rangers Today: Use borrowed M113A3 Gavins in Iraq--still need to permanently own these light tanks/APCs

Bad News

JSOC and Delta Force Today: Still Vanity Obsessed with BS Dismounted Air Assaults as if Blackhawk Down! Never Happened--stupidity gotten away with in Iraq due to weak Foes

General Gavin writes in On to Berlin:

"Individuals had to be capable of fighting at once against any opposition they met on landing. Although every effort was being made to develop the communications and techniques to permit battalions, companies, and platoons to organize promptly, we had to train our individuals to fight for hours and days, if necessary, without being part of a formal organization. Equipment had to be lightweight and readily transportable....

Since the beginning of recorded history, Soldiers have been drilled repetively to de-emphasize their individual behavioral traits and force them to adapt to larger combat formations. Perhaps the greatest efficiency in transforming each individual, squad, platoon, and so forth into a cog in a larger machine was demonstrated in the armies of Frederick the Great, and although machine weapons had changed all this, between World War I and World War II countless hours were spent on wheeling about and moving squads to the right and to the left, as though they were preparing to fight the wars of a century ago.

All this had to be discarded as we sought to train the Paratroopers to the highest peak of individual pride and skill. It was at this time that the use of nameplates was adopted, the purpose being to emphasize the importance of an individual's personality and reputation. To the Soldiers of another generation, it seemed to suggest too little discipline and too much initiative given to individual Soldiers. We were willing to take a chance that this would not have a disrupting effect on larger formations. It did not, and there were many occasions in combat when the Paratroop officers, and NCOs effectively took over the command of larger formations of other units. Aside from the impact of this type of training on the Airborne formations themselves, it had a tremedous significance to the Army as a whole. The morale of the Airborne units soared, especially after their first combat, when they could see for themselves the results of their training".

Are you of the "another generation" ilk? Wedded to obsolete traditions? Who says we have to use D & C to instill fighting discipline? Why not in the field like Gavin did? Learning SERE skills? To show how far behind we are, the usmc didn't start putting nametapes on their BDUs (camies) until after the Gulf War TV coverage embarassed them into it...1990s! How about that for 19th century robotics!

Think about it.

Go to Part II of the Pattern of War

Return to Paratrooper 2000, click on M4 5.56mm Carbine with M203 40mm grenade launcher