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Bundeswehr Recce

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Can anyone lead me in the right direction to read up on German recon battalion tactics and really anything out there on this organization? Let's say, anything mid-60's through current, but 80's would be most pertinent. Was reading an old higher-level ORBAT and noted this interesting composition:

"11th Recon Battalion: 34 Leopard 1, 10 Luchs, 18 Fuchs (9 with ground radar)"

Lots of tanks there for recon so, piqued my curiosity as to how they would have (still would?) operate. Lots of fighting serials in general for a battalion.

I guess I'm looking for more of a "cold war" explanation of how they would have operated.

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Maybe you should ask at PzBtl911. There are at least two guys, who served as recon soldiers. Ask for "Aufklärer" (served on Leopard1) and "Sturmtiger (he was on Luchs). And "Abraxas" was a former Batallioncommander, but I don´t know if he was in an recon btl.

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As a quick primer - up to the mid-1990s the recce battalions came in "light" and "heavy" flavor (the former with emphasis on the Luchs as the primary platform since the 1970s, the latter with Leopard 1). While the Luchs would operate in pairs up to 150km deep into enemy territory for periods of up to a week, the heavy companies had their role similar to the American approach to fight for intelligence (penetrate light defenses to locate the main body of the enemy, or to expose weakly defended areas ... quite similar to the Russian concept of the Advance Guard, actually - at least while on the attack.)

In delaying or defense operations the PzAufklBtl might serve as the brigade reserve.

Today's reconnaissance units are now exclusively "light", with the Fennek as their primary platform (with elevatable sensor mast, and a 40mm AGL).

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Awesome little thing that Fennek. Thank you both for your responses. I guess I need to sit down and take a little time to be more specific with my requests before I post to the 911 site. but, will do. time to delve into the tactical.

Ssnake, you gave me a real good idea of their general tasking. for the heavy recce companies, this explains the tank-heavy unit i was seeing as well. Advance guard type units of that size, the heavy PzAufklBtl, remind me of the old Wehrmacht tank regiments -- a little bit of everything needed; mini-divisions but with a shorter logistics trail than say a battalion as part of a U.S. Army ACR. But the operational comparison seems to better fit a Russian advance guard detachment when on the offense. Would that be accurate?

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Awesome little thing that Fennek...

Yes, but with the phasing out of Leo1 and Luchs the Reccon troops are not longer classed as armoured combat troops. They are now command support troops.

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oh, you guys are the frigin' best! will stop by PzBtl911 tomorrow to (finally) post my specific questions so far unanswered. the best, you guys are...

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Sorry missed this Thread so far.

But it isn´t that easy, since 1980 structure of German mechanized Recce Battalions change, let me count, 7 times !!

We start 1980 with Heeresstruktur 4 (IV1), to Heeresstruktur 4 (IV2) in 1982, over to Heeresstruktur 5 in 1990 and Heeresstruktur 5N in 1992 to Heeresstruktur 2000 in 1995. Then we have "Neues Heer für neue Aufgaben" beginning 1997 (New Army for new Challenges LOL) and now the so called "Transformation" since 2001.

It´s easier to "transform" ever 2 Year instead of making new Structures ;-)

Biggest Problem are the independent Recce Platoons witch are, in War times, attached to the mechanized Brigades. In Peace they were attached to the Recce Battalions, as a Part of the Division Troops. But not always, thats to easy....!

Last Change is to get all heavy Elements (Leopards and Luchs) out and get UAV´s and Fennek in.

So they are not longer Armour, but keep their Black Berrets, what a shame !!

Here are some "Structure Plates", I hope it´s what you are looking for.

PzAufklBtlHSt4.jpg.205f083faf4eb9150b372

PzAufklBtlHSt4V1.jpg.f3c72d0e037cffadbfc

PzAufklBtl2000.JPG.1f8d2e7e6e5851cb33d70

PzAufklBtlHSt5.jpg.4c3a9486776cf186cdb69

PzAufklBtlNHfNA.JPG.a6bcc31de805bcafc9a2

PzAufklBtlHSt4.jpg.205f083faf4eb9150b372

PzAufklBtlHSt4V1.jpg.f3c72d0e037cffadbfc

PzAufklBtl2000.JPG.1f8d2e7e6e5851cb33d70

PzAufklBtlHSt5.jpg.4c3a9486776cf186cdb69

PzAufklBtlNHfNA.JPG.a6bcc31de805bcafc9a2

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A Bundeswehr training film from 1957 about armoured recce: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8uBE_VMRRo

those films are excellent DemoMan! my knowledge of German is rudimentary at best, but i get the salient points of what is being taught. any more of those lying around you tube? this film set reminds me that we really could use the ability to dismount the TC from a tank or AFV for a short distance -- I believe Archangel and others made great arguments for this a million years ago when discussing the use of F8.

Thank you, Eisenschwein! that helps as well. i'm looking for information on tactics as well, if you have anything along those lines.

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awesome DemoMan! Wini500, is that your profile on youtube? i was watching the artillery and brigade maneuver videos on that user's site last night. excellent stuff. i cannot t(h)ank you enough. it looks like i'll keep busy for a while. thanks again. :biggrin:

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You´re welcome, and no that´s not my account on youtube. Nonetheless enjoyable. Wish there would be more Bundeswehr Lehrfilme from the 70s and 80s...love that Cold War stuff.

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no, wini... you are cooler than him. :biggrin:

very nice set of uploads you have there~! watched them all and intend to go back again, and again. i really wish i'd learned more German though. my fault :)

you wouldn't happen to have more on cold war Bundeswehr recce would you? the video set that's uploaded is very good but only focuses on the platoon/section level it seems (even though it's a larger unit at play tying the gap between the two divisions (Btln?).

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Well, it's broad and weak reconnaissance in a broad move to contact. The purpose of the whole operation is to find out the actual location of the enemy, its strength and intent. It is not an attempt to plug the open gap between the adjacent formations to the north and south.

To that extent, even if it is a reconnaissance battalion performing the operation, it can be treated as four an action of small units that are simultaneously performing a similar task - move forward 'til you blow up and while on the way report what you're seeing.

Deep penetrations was would be done with Luchs teams are a different matter entirely. Their task was to gather intelligence behind enemy lines, up to 150km deep, at a time when satellite surveillance and aerial reconnaissance wasn't possible or at least not available for a prolonged time and with near real-time capability.

To that extent one can say that the Luchs has been made obsolete by technological progress in other areas, and a change of the overall strategic situation and the resulting operational requirements.

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but the role of the Luchs strikes me as rather optimistic. Any idea how viable that would have been if war broke out?

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but the role of the Luchs strikes me as rather optimistic. Any idea how viable that would have been if war broke out?

aaah-ha! this is NOT hijacking! you're merely speculating on the success or failure of one of the pieces of equipment and the tactics associated with it which would have been used by them. :biggrin:

thank you Ssnake for a clear overview on that video. poor buggers were fodder for info (sounds like a typical recce mission to me :) ).

So, regarding the light recce vehicles (Luchs, Fuchs & Fennek), does anyone have more on the types of missions Ssnake is describing (some fine detail, small unit tactics, etc.)? standing by with my popcorn and a German/English dictionary.

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but the role of the Luchs strikes me as rather optimistic. Any idea how viable that would have been if war broke out?

Well, they certainly knew they were up to a challenge. Basic rules of their employment:

Move at night mostly. The Luchs may not be small, but it is extremely silent. Really. I couldn't locate it one night in a forest, and it was a mere 20m away (yes, it was dark) - were it not for the snapping of twigs under its wheels. The engine was audible but impossible to locate since it gave away only deepest bass noise. At dawn, hide the vehicle and perform your recce dismounted.

Penetrate enemy lines in two ways - exploit a (limited) counterattack of our own forces, if they achieve a breakthrough, especially if it is a night attack (quite feasible in times of thermal imagers, but just as well before when night vision was limited to a few hundred meters with active searchlights).

Or, if the enemy is on the assault, hide and wait 'til they are past you, then dodge the stragglers and supply units, and disappear.

Getting back was more of a challenge, I think. It certainly had to be coordinated with the own troops - either to be near the objective of their own attack or to perform the passage of lines with the help of artillery smoke screens (and finding a suitable spot somewhere).

It wasn't easy, but I don't think the Bundeswehr would have kept an armored cavalry battalion in every armor or mech brigade if their mission had be considered futile. After all, we had plenty of free-wheeling exercises from the 1960s ... end of 1980s to test the validity of the concept in practice.

The Luchs had a front and rear driver (who also was the radio operator) and could go at full speed in either direction. It was silent, and it was fast (about 110kph top speed). All in all I think it was the best reconnaissance vehicle design based on successful WW2 design principles, but of course it eventually became obsolete because of technological advances in other areas.

Keep in mind that it was designed in the 1960s when there were no thermal imagers and satellite surveillance was limited to strategic missions (finding ballistic missile launch sites etc.). And you cannot possibly man a several thousand kilometer long front line with enough men that there will be no gaps, not even if you have boatloads of god- and faceless commie bastards ;)

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It probably didn't hurt that with a fleeting and cursory glance it looks 'a bit like' a BTR (or OT64) either...

Well - that definitely is a double-edged sword, if you think about it.

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Yes, if you are on the FEBA... but not really when you are 100km on the wrong side of it... there any 8x8 will 'be' a BTR unless you act really aggressive, or someone is being uncommonly alert.

Getting back without getting shot could be fun though... :cul:

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better to wait out the NATO counter-attack thrust for Berlin and beyond...

(throws another handful of popcorn in mouth)

Ssnake, regarding the long range recce and commo: would the team typically radio in on some regular reporting schedule? both to keep higher aware the element is intact and active as well as pass info? or would the elements continuously transmit their take? I imagine they would need a powerful transmitter to reach higher HQ; that the recce guys would be carrying a more powerful transmitter and antennae than normally found on a vehicle. i imagine something like we used in M577s for ARTY commo would be used. Am I way off base?

Secondly, would they perform any "direct action" while behind lines, i.e. attack targets of opportunity. i'm thinking about Spetsnaz and how i've read that even if on a stealthy recce mission their doctrine dictated to attack specific types of high-priority targets such as nuclear-armed Lance missiles when encountered.

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