Promises, promises

@ Small Wars there is a new article by Wilf Owen rather provocatively proposing that a ‘horde’ of 4WD armed with modern guided weapons could inflict significant damage to an Anglospheric brigade size force i.e. a Stryker Brigade or Armoured Cavalry Squadron. I’m not convinced – we have always been susceptible to myths of uber-weapons from the other side of the fence – remember the Hind super-helicopter killing machine that was going to sweep all before it in the 80s? – and think that we shouldn’t be selling ourselves short…

Wilf’s article is well-written and if the aim was to promote professional discussion, then it is probably successful and more power to anyone prepared to publicly put pen to paper rather than just lip off in the Mess/ O Club (if such things still exist).

If however, the aim was to actually promote a viable capability, then it has a long way to go. What really got my back up was the comment “…if any officer reading this cannot conceive of ways to inflict significant damage to a Stryker Brigade, or Armoured Cavalry Squadron; given 100 SUVs, 100 x ATGM + MANPADS and maybe 500 men; then they probably have no place in their chosen profession…” To me this is an unnecessary and somewhat arrogant (ignorant?) throwaway line that adds no value whatsoever. To turn it around, any officer that would allow such a force to do significant damage to a Anglospheric brigade probably needs to be relieved immediately, as does any unit commander in one of those formations that could wipe the floor with a Toyota horde.

The horde, if successful at all, would be a one hit wonder (anyone remember ‘Promises‘and Baby It’s You from the 70s – not just the lead singer’s ‘attributes’?) that would be easily countered. The terrain necessary for the horde to have any sort of practical mobility would also act against it and unless it could shelter behind the skirts of a large non-combatant population, it would be vulnerable to both ISR and engagement systems. Where the horde might be employable, would be a follow-on force to a more conventional ‘hammer’ to mop small outposts and stay-behind forces.

There is/will most likely be a place for swarming in near/far future conflicts but, at the moment, the concept still awaits some conceptual and technical developments. Ultimately, it could take us a number of steps closer to Heinlein’s Mobile Infantry concept that we aspired to in the mid-90s with the Empty Battlefield et al…

I had a long discussion with a compadre last night and one of the topics we touched on was the paucity of professional papers, other than those extracted by force as part of staff college compliance rituals, on topics of contemporary relevance, from authors down under – certainly there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of serving and former officers prepared to launch themselves into the arena in the Northern Hemisphere and the US Army probably leads in the development and publication of professional discussion, regardless of whether the concepts espoused follow political or doctrinal party lines. Having been privileged enough to have been invited to attend the Chief of Army’s Seminar at Massey University last year and corresponding with some of the speakers and attendees, I wonder, of the 200 or so uniformed attendees, how many have progressed any of the subjects discussed at the Seminar? It probably doesn’t help that the Massey web page for the Seminar exhibits a rather minimalist design philosophy and only links to recordings of the presentations with no transcripts or even speaker bios, let alone forums for further discussion – come on, guys, I think you need to up your game for the contemporary environment and the information age…!!!! It might be an interesting experiment, as I assume planning for the 2010 Seminar looms, to ask all the attendees for their two most enduring memories of the 2009 Seminar…

Oh, what to do…?

It’s all so confusing…I’m looking around for a portable computing device that lets me make notes and sketches away from the desktop PC in the study e.g. when I am away from home, even just popping down to the shop, or watching TV in the lounge so that the notes and sketches can be ported/synced directly back into the main PC. At the moment, I make a lot of my review notes on the good old legal pad and then manually transcribe them which takes more time that I have and eats significantly into productivity. I often forget to take a notebook with me when I leave the house as it always ends up back by the PC for transcription and stays there for my next foray out into the world…

I had thought that perhaps the iPad might be the answer but following up a link from Paper Modelers I’ve found that there are a range of new and impending technologies that might meet my needs…my gut feeling is that I’d be better off with something closer to a tablet than an iPhone so that I can read papers in closer to a traditional page format (am I turning into a fuddy-duddy?) and also so that I can also have a decent-sized work area for graphics…


Those from the Wellington IPMS community especially will know that I am a bit of an attention-seeker in my modelling procurements…in 2007, I was allowed to buy the Soar Art 80cm Railway Gun in 1/35 scale. It is very big and impressive – I can only just manhandle the box on my own – and I have been slowly assembling it. Like most people, I built the barrel first…

Yes, folks, the breech block is really the same size as a contemporary tank!! The barrel assembly is now painted and as complete as it needs to be for now and I have psyched myself up to start on the railway trucks that bear this monster but…somewhere in the course of domestic re-orgs that comprehensive instruction manual has gone west – no doubt it has been placed somewhere ‘safe’ – and I went to the Soar Art site to ask for a new manual. While there, I surfed through some of their partnered companies and stumbled into the world of Dust, a “…what-if world, a fictionary world based on our true history and mixed-up with science fiction…” and found this…

KV-152I Fury of Ivan – WOOF!!!!

…and I want one!!! Damn New Year’s resolutions….

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