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Agreed. Because of SB Pro PE, I have a more robust admiration of Soviet AFV's. Only at a simulation level could I really experience actually getting smoked in my M1A1 (HA) by a T-72 or a BMP. I have read most of the accounts of the Abrams in combat with Soviet tanks but it was always in the desert against a poorly trained opponent. We all know the results of Desert Storm and OIF.


This problem is endemic to the US military. The US Air Force believes that the poorly operated SAM systems of Iraq demonstrate the capability of any Soviet or later Russian SAM design. Likewise for their combat aircraft and their horrible performance. This is utter crap; Soviet SAMs take a considerable amount of skill and coordination to operate effectively. An excellent demonstration of this is available through this link.

On "Greatest Tank Battles" series premiere, when I had some hopes that the series would be more than the standard Discovery/History/Military Channel sensationalist crap, they covered 73 Easting. I was surprised to hear one veteran TC describe the Iraqis he encountered as "manual T-72s," which he then went on to explain were T-72 tanks with manually traversed turrets. Clearly, the T-72s operated by Iraq were not comparable to the T-72B tanks operated by Group of Soviet Forces Germany.

It is vitally important not to underestimate your adversary, especially in modern war. In modern war, the tempo is so quick that there is no time to absorb a defeat, retool, and come back swinging hard as many combatants did in the Second World War. You will fight with what you have, and if your perceptions of enemy capabilities are vastly below their actual capabilities, you're probably not going home.

You would think the Americans would understand this, given that their AirLand Battle doctrine is essentially Tukachevsky/Triandafillov's thinking on Deep Battle and Deep Operations (Soviet Field Service Regulations PU-36) with helicopters. Of course, the perception is also that because the Dirty Communists can't do anything right, they also don't have good doctrine, and therefore blitzkrieg is not simply Guderian mimicking Deep Battle concepts... despite Guderian saying that is exactly what he did in Achtung Panzer. That however is a sidebar.

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Of course, combat in SB Pro usually amounts to worst case scenarios - fully competent enemy, enemy equipment in perfect condition, often with numerical superiority, and a perfect supply situation - and I haven't even started to discuss morale and other "soft" factors that can have a tangible impact on the overall outcome.

What this shows to me is that the quality of the hardware is just one among many factors that contribute significantly to overall success. Industrialized warfare is the highest form of teamwork, in a "game" with ultimate stakes. The margin of error is very small if the enemy is competent.

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On "Greatest Tank Battles" series premiere, when I had some hopes that the series would be more than the standard Discovery/History/Military Channel sensationalist crap

In fairness, it was better than most. You don't see many of those documentaries these days interviewing the partipants.

they covered 73 Easting. I was surprised to hear one veteran TC describe the Iraqis he encountered as "manual T-72s," which he then went on to explain were T-72 tanks with manually traversed turrets. Clearly, the T-72s operated by Iraq were not comparable to the T-72B tanks operated by Group of Soviet Forces Germany.

I had a manual M1 Abrams for a while. Not the fault of the designer, just the hydraulic system decided to turn into a lubrcation system for the gunner's lap. Or maybe it was the fault of the designer, it seemed to happen on more than one tank.


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Operation Desert Storm is notorious for its strange, lopsided results and persistent myths, that is to say, that the ground phase was a mop up after the air campaign for all practical purposes delivered the coup de grace, or that the Iraqis for the most part didn't fight but surrendered.

No single piece of the puzzle about numbers or quality explains what happened there, but rather it's the whole being greater than the sum-

Can't simply be numbers, the myth of the collapse of the Iraqi army ignores some statistics which point in the direction that the best of the Iraqi units in the RG divisions remained on average about 75 % intact by the time the air war concluded and the ground phase began. And unlike the image of under equipped Iraqi troops surrendering in southern Kuwait, most of the heavy Army units and RG divisions deployed in the way to block the left hook by VII Corps going around the Saddam line fought bravely and ferociously, albeit not so effectively, and died in place. There's no lack of opponent there.

Simple qualitative disadvantages don't explain it either- from a historical point of view when looking at other tank battles in desert campaigns or similar terrain, you still don't get these lopsided results, even when you had equipment that weren't developed in the same generation. Stranger still, lighter, leaner Marine units equipped with M60 tanks actually suffered less casualties against the Iraqis than heavy, US M1A1 equipped units. Anyone with tanks of the same generation, including Kuwaities with M-84s (T-72 clone) pretty much achieved the same results against the Iraqis, even during the initial phases of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. If for example the Iraqi Army could inflict proportional casualties as the Arabs did on Israelis in earlier wars, you should have had thousands more Allied casualties. Furthermore, not in every case were the Iraqis completely surprised at all by the unexpected left hook through the West- as evidenced by the way the cream of the Republican Guards, the Tawalkana division, or the Luminous Medina division was arrayed to meet it in some battles when Iraqi intelligence could locate where the Coalition lines were generally. In a few cases, the Iraqis managed to pull a few surprises and could have really done far more damage than what actually happened but for questions why this wasn't the case.

A report I once read surmised several things combined plus something else seemed to happen- for one, the Iraqi artillery never came into play in any serious way. You've already removed a major component of OPFOR or for any modern army for that matter, something the Soviets wouldn't have had a problem with. Also- Iraqi units seemed to be in slow motion, never getting into the battle, when the shooting starts, Coalition forces are already past the security line and security screens, already shooting up the main body. This might be in part because Iraqi crews routinely got out of their vehicles during the first signs of violence- which usually meant an air raid. After several weeks of that in the beginning, Iraqis would instinctively leave their vehicles as before during an air attack, which they should, however, when the first shooting started in the ground war, thinking it was an air raid like before, they may have left their vehicles, which they shouldn't. By the time they realized what was really going on and could get mounted up, the battle was underway to practically over and it was too late.

This might explain the mystery why their commanders seemed to be in the dark all the time- their outposts weren't reporting the evidence of an enemy attack, they were already being wiped out before they could do that. On the other hand, this doesn't explain why however the simple rule of thumb that units which don't report in at an agreed upon synchronized time should be assumed destroyed and evidence of an attack coming.

All these problems together just threw off Iraqi decision cycles and timetables, they couldn't put much together and it seemed to amplify any and every problem. Sometimes had less to do with equipment as it did 'fortune'- like the way it was said that God is on the side of the heaviest battalions, any little problem could interact with another while both seem to create ever more disasterous conditions. The conclusion was 'over-determined.'

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Desert Storm, IMO, showed the effect of force multipliers ... or their absence.

  1. Strategic intelligence
    Iraqis rarely knew where the enemy was with sufficient time to prepare; Coalition was rarely taken by surprise. Exceptions like 73 Easting notwithstanding. All this partly due to feigns, taking out the communications grid, and taking advantage of satellite navigation ... and due to the fact that Saddam always considered his own forces as the greatest risk to himself, not the US. Consequently, no unified command for Army, Republican Guards, Fedayeen, Security Police. Radios that were deliberately modified to prevent using common frequencies.
  2. Equipment readiness
    While tanks almost constantly are in a state of disrepair, there are different states from superficial issues like a broken braking light to "the rust almost falling apart". It isn't unheard of that some Iraqi units were equipped with target practice ammunition
  3. Preparedness
    While the Iraqis had plenty of experience fighting the revolutionary volunteer hordes of Iran, they had none with an army of an industrialized superpower that was tailored to deal with exactly the kind of opponent that they presented - lots of armored vehicles in open ground battle
  4. Air supremacy
    There simply was no air threat against coalition ground forces
  5. Artillery
    Lots of artillery for the coalition, little that could be brought to bear against it
  6. Thermal imagers, GPS receivers, latest munitions
    It may be that superior tactics can overcome certain disadvantages in technology, but only up to a point. And it is very much the question whether the Iraqis actually had superior tactics.
  7. Superior training
    NTC, MILES, and simulators vs ... well, subcaliber rounds fired on sticks and stones, and calling that "training"
  8. Warrior ethos ...
    vs elitism, nepotism, and favoritism throughout rank and file of the Iraqi army.
  9. Superior battlefield medicine
    Historically one third of battlefield casualties died. Today only about 10% of all casualties of western armies will not survive. Maybe we should compare injured western personnel with Iraqi casualty figures. Still lopsided, but maybe just 10,000:1 instead of 100,000:1

None of these factors in isolated analysis is a war-winner. But combine the factors and you get not just a sum; with superiority or at least parity in practically every field you get more of a multiplication effect.

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It wasn't THAT much of an inefficiency as the original M1 Tank Platoon manual made it to look like. What the writers (and "the West" as a whole) didn't fully understand at the time of its writing was that despite Socialism and all, there were COMPETING manufacturers in the Soviet Union with similar design goals but different solutions for different purposes.

The T-55 was made for 3rd world client states and second line units of WP client states.

The T-62 was a short-term solution to bridge a technological gap until a more modern solution would reach full scale production.

The T-64 was full of new gadgets and concepts and hence had the biggest teething problems as a technology testbed. However, both T-72 and T-80 profited immensely from it. Both T-64 and T-80 were intended for first line Soviet units only, and never to be given to client states.

The T-72 was supposed to be a T-64 derivative tailored to reduce production costs and to be given to first rate 3rd world clients as well as first line units of WP client states. It fulfilled that role very well.

Keeping the T-64 in production next to the T-80 simply was a result of industrial politics, to maintain two competing "companies" for better overall results. The T-64 couldn't be given up for T-72 exclusive production as the T-72 wasn't quite as capable as the T-64. To that extent it actually made sense to have both production lines running parallel to each other.

Now, five MBT models in four decades, for a nation the size of a continent. Compare that with the plethora of tank models in European production during the same period. Leo 1 and AMX-30, Centurion, Chieftain, Challenger, Leopard 2, add to that M47, M48, M60 and M1 if you will. That's twice as many tank models in the same period.

Now, which solution was more efficient?

Well one of the reason why communism could not compete with capitalism was the empty shells(Although it is against common belief that they had money but there was not many things to spend it) and lack of competitiveness. Obviously central planning economy did not do well. So in the Western world if you had money you would buy what ever you wish but in communism you would buy whatever they give you.

Edited by Bekro
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