Feb1

THE NETWORKS WAR II.

(continuation)

The urban effective guerrilla war. Another principal domain for the swarming groups in the networks war theory.

It is not easy to use and defend the urban zones of repulse. Its employment demands high requirements to the rebel combatants:

An enough motivation, which encourages them to follow the arms way and risking their lives for their cause. And appeases and rationalizes them the inevitable fear of the fighting in the close distances with a superior enemy, until the seniority offers to them new impulses.

A good training in the infantry fighting, which gives them trade and confidence. A successful cooperation between the small units that garrison the zones, that guarantees them a cohesion without fissures in their tenuous and lean deployment. And that allows and facilitates the command conduction and the accomplishment of his plans. To get iron nerves tempered by everything previous, that accustom them to fight in solitary or in small groups, refusing to flee in face of the implacable threat of the military heavy fire. For all this, among the few tens of thousands of armed rebels existing, not more than 15% of them can in these moments use this kind of defensive fight. The military networks and the swarming of «small sections» have in these two operational characteristics, their major deficiencies.

These urban irregular enemies are protected extending their defensive positions beyond the necessary in a conventional defense, covering this way a major occupied surface. In the defense zone they establish delaying points, more or less reinforced. These protect the most critical positions of the zone, that incorporate in the defense the buildings with steel structure, specially resistant, and form fire bags to trap the enemy that gets through. The resistance nests have here more importance, provided that the occupation of the zone of defense is more tenuous, that they cannot strengthen the positions too much for covered reasons, the sights are more short and exist numerous approximation routes. They depend on the delaying points and to them they fall back if are invaded or destroyed. Numerous alternative or extras positions exist, more of the habitual in the urban fighting. This allows to deceive the military enemy about the forward limit of the defense position, its real extension, the limits of the sectors that form it, the intentions of the rebel command of the zone about its defense and to disperse the heavy fire of the attacker. In the edges of the urban zones they never establish these fixed positions. Those are occupied by combat advanced parties, which mission is to receive the possible explorers or civil observers, to avoid surprises and to deceive about the tracing of the defensive zone. The occupants of combat advanced positions, distributed in pairs of sentries and some very small mobile patrols, fall back in their moment towards the more interiors delaying points.

These «fortresses» are diffuse, secret and imperceptible to strangers. In a few hours the previous works are reinforced and occupied. Its communication routes need more working time to get done, but also are less evident. It is necessary to enter the houses to detect perforated walls and to find alleys under a furniture or a carpet. These positions are not complex. They need a few interlaced firing sectors, an immediate protection against the enemy irruption in mass or with elite commands, some covers against the heavy normal fire and a sufficient concealment that covers them from the sights of the enemy probable successive positions and his approximation avenues. The obstacles and the mines, even false in certain percentage and always distantly to not betray them, will serve to break the enemy assault and to offer to them more static targets, for example for the mortars, which will have registered its fires. The destruction that generates the wide heavy fire support without aiming a precise target, reinforces the rebel combat positions, surrounding them with debris that divide and impede the accesses of the military, except when they are reached by a ordnance direct impact. To operate this defensive structure the rebels have prepared numerous and narrow tunnels, dragging trenches and gaps in garden walls and interior walls of the buildings. In such a way that, away from the enemy sights, allow them to occupy the combat and observation positions at wish, to defend them more or less time or not, to move among them and to reinforce the most threatened or pressed places.

Generally they try to shoot from the front, with isolated or couples snipers armed with the SVD or M-14 sniper rifles, at individual and small groups of enemies. And to attack from the flank or the rear at the enemy units that penetrate in their defensive zone, which already are disintegrated in squads or sections with one or two armored vehicles. Those prepared communications allow them to appear, always in small number, behind or at the flanks of the units, while these stop, regroup, ask or receive instructions, or decide where to advance, and to erode them, causing some casualties. For example, from a basement or a floor, through an irregular hollow in a yard or garden wall, under a parked or destroyed vehicle in the street, where it emerges a narrow tunnel with a covered and disguised exit. From these positions the armed rebels throw some RPG-7V rockets or several short blasts, always aiming, of the RPK light machine gun or the obsolete RPD. The interior houses courts serve them to place the mortars, which constitute their the only «heavy fire» source, protected by an infantry position. They fired them with the maximum angles on the abundant, large and always excessive military concentrations. The usual mortar is the 82 mm. Russian modern M-1937 model. Here that the attacker presents three times more men (in means the proportion must be 20 to 1) neither favors nor facilitates their labor. But this offers the persecuted defender more targets to be able to use his exiguous fire power. Especially because, in a given moment, is small the attackers’ proportion that are putting in real distress the defenders.

Also they possess an effective and increasing anti-aircraft defense of short range. From other courts and roofs, always protected by a nearby infantry resistance nest, several teams of light anti-aircraft rocket shoulder launchers carriers are arranged. Their location in the deployment is done depending on the most probable and most dangerous aircraft approximation directions for the defense. If they are sufficient and shoot skilful, they could use two nearby, but not contiguous launchers, whom form a team, and that shoot successively and rapidly (the SAM-18 flies at 2 Mach) against an aircraft or towards an enemy air formation in immediate approximation to its target. A typical rocket would be the SAM 7, called «grail» and «strela» (arrow) in not Cyrillic Russian. It had successive improvements and today is replaced in the military arsenals by the SAM 18 former mentioned, that has a useful attack height of 3,5 km (the double). And guides, a fuel rocket, an explosive head and a bait detector, all improved. The shoulder shooter limits himself to direct the launcher already loaded towards its target, wait until the missile confirms the target’s acquisition and then squeeze again the trigger. And to get hide.

The crucial moment for the defense comes when the zone commander decides to evacuate it, after having stopped and delayed the enemy for some time. Trying to cause him losses as high as possible, but without been exposed excessively to a fighting at the close distances, or to be outflanked or to lose his freedom of action. This is inexorably tied to the transfer of space to the military enemies. For it the rebels avoid in opportune moment the direct assault of their enemy, not his extensive or vague bombardment. The rebels must have sufficient exit tunnels directed to not very nearby buildings (often official and even respectable (mosques), offices, companies and some houses) or not evident dry riverbeds (wadis) and bushes in the open land. From there they could disperse through the ground in very small groups towards friends reception positions, in the first moments. The protection of the evacuation is therefore vital and both entrances or exits from these tunnels are always covered by resistance nests, which take to end their rigid defense.

All this cohesion, discipline, formation, training and firm and effective command of the irregular classic units, are distant of those of a military lax structure of networks or of the swarming of independent groups over an enemy or defending itself from him. Where are in this new theory, the center of gravity or the reiteration of efforts or the saving and optimization of the material and human means?

The effective operability of the units and small military units.

The war of networks tends to a too extensive subdivision of the military units. Turning out the «little group» or the net «knot», as tactical independent effective unit (TIEU). With them they would seek to extend the front (so the actions) on a more awkward or passive enemy, to disturb to his command and to alter his plan of fires.

But this is not practical in the operational level of the war.

The subunits tactically related need to have and keep a strip of advance or, at least, the little ones, a direction; a protected and concealed support fires (antitank and anti-aircraft defense and for neutralization and blinding of the enemy); the operational and permanent nearness of a logistic vehicles team, at least for health and to re-put ammunitions; a depth of the deployment, with a certain reserves; and his protection towards the exposed flanks and rear. All this supposes a minimal «tactical entity united and commanded», to keep both his security and resistance to the surprises, his combative efficiency, his deployment and his capacity of tactical movement.

And that they have to share with their companion units, a part of the fulfillment of the aim of their high command. And to have a combat mission directed on the enemy, as part of the gravit center of the efforts of the «major unit» of her. To avoid that these “group or nude” type units roam through the operational field, without a clear, effective and operatively transcendent intention.

All this reduces capacity and possibilities of employment to the networks and to the clusters of multiple «micro or small independent units», within the spectrum of the «situations of efficiency» that are raised and offered by the theory.

Here is an example of the correct employ of modern conventional military units. Against a reinforced infantry position that has advanced antitank weapons, a typical defensive zone, if it cannot be outflanked, an enemy dismounted infantry can break through or destroy it. It can be follow by tanks advancing by covered bounds to offer protection and direct fire support. The defender’s antitank will look for a relatively large and protected target, that it can hit from covered positions or, at least, from well-camouflaged positions, that are flanking the armored vehicles. And will fire by batteries with dispersed guns, so that the same enemy heavy fire can not incapacitate them. The infantry’s heavy weapons (machine guns in tripods) neutralize by «sweeping and searching» a more or less narrow frontal zone, that is occupied in depth by small, soft, dispersed targets such as an infantry platoon.

Attacking tanks can use H.E. and H.E.S.H. shells to overcome infantry strong positions and their infantry squads can attack with light machine guns the enemy antitank weapons, to prevent them from sighting or fix a target. All this destruction and neutralization, once irruption is achieved, proceeds in worm-like movements deep into the tactical zone of the assault sector of the interarms unit. Other parts of the enemy’s position that could collaborate in the rejection are blocked by smoke and/or neutralized by indirect fire.

At the same time, advanced observers from artillery and aviation corps will be defining new targets to its units, in addition to those found by assault units along the flanks and deep (through combat exploration) in the advance sector. The criterion of the gravity center of the fire of support at least will be neutralize all the targets that are opposed to the advance towards the enemy position, to the irruption and to the struggle inside the defense position of in the assigned sector. This will facilitate the direct fire and shock produced by the ground attackers, by means of concentrated and precise fire blows.

This optimizes effective action in a given environment at the level of the tactical groups of action or combined arms systems, whose complementariness has been described. In broken, undulating, wooded or urbanized (housings and factories) areas (not necessarily mountainous), the lack of sight control and the abundant “concealing relative heights” reduce the sector of “interfaces of action” with the enemy.

The suitably-sized “combined arms system” continues to be the element of effective action. The action is effected by companies or reinforced interarms platoons, with heavy fire support provided by battalions (medium and heavy mortars). Except in areas that are very flat and with few “sight obstructions”, ground “transitability” (more than simply “ground on going”), which physically limits the possible “interfaces of action” with the enemy, can prevent the fight using concentrated resources that are beyond those of a company. The battalion role will be to reinforce the efforts and distributing supports.

In these cases, existing communication ways, especially those more or less perpendicular to the front, are critical to land actions. Blockading these ways affects tempo (the total speed of the operation) enormously, by the difficulty presented by sloping or obstructed areas that surrounds them (forests, gullies, constructions, un-reinforced fords). The advance slows down or the forces have to be dispersed onto parallel available routes, forcing them to enter other difficult bordering areas.

Otherwise, contingency plans for units must provide for overcoming four types of unforeseen situations that can impede or endanger a mission. These include:

a) Possible direct action by the enemy in using or recovering initiative. This might take the form of an interdiction bombardment or counterattack. The solution is to tactically neutralize his action, without compromising the mission.

b) Possible encounter with the enemy. This could occur during combat exploration patrols or could be confronted by sentries, advanced security forces and advanced detachments and deep exploration patrols. It is necessary to submit or push back the enemy and to rapidly and temporarily change positions or direction, to not compromise the mission.

c) Possible unforeseen obstacles. These could be ditches, slopes of more difficult soil, blown-up bridges, floods, and storms that affect an area’s transitability. It is important to overcome these as rapidly as possible, while maintaining security and extending exploration.

d) Possible defensive/passive action of the enemy. These can take the form of an ambush, minefield, reinforced cut defended by fire, rejection fires of a defense position or antitank obstacles. These must be overcome as soon as possible, as in the case of natural obstacles, to avoid being moved by the enemy in a direction that is favorable to a counterattack or toward a zone covered by artillery or by convergent fires (bag fires zones).

In general terms, including in the commander’s plan, these must always be pursued:

1) To overcome or repel the enemy and/or unforeseen obstacles which hinder one’s forces and provide information to the enemy.

2) Avoid losing resources (or resources that are neutralized, detached or repulsed) that are important for fulfilling the mission. The surviving enemy can use compromising information, but he may receive it too late to be effective intelligence for him.

3) Resources necessary for the mission must be available for its execution. This multiplies efficiency, after commotion and the incident losses, to maintain a high momentum of execution: this being the product of combat capacity by the average speed of movement in a given period and in a certain direction.

The example of the preparation and action of General Patton’s 3rd American army in counterattacking the German penetration in the Ardennes illustrates the difficulties (its «incident» was a sudden change of mission, direction and execution) and the possibilities gave by the «momentum» of execution.

None of this is improvised. It is the result of practice and is the fruit of frequent training, the organization of work and the coordination of the H.Q. and all commands. These sayings remind us of this: «it is performed as it is trained» and «the man is an animal of habit».

In practice the degree of general military obtained efficiency, will be determined by the idiosyncrasy of the nation, the character more or less gregarious or independent of her peoples, both her military doctrine and tradition, the defense budgets, her » national moral», which feeds and holds her «will of defense», the political national and international situation, the integration of her institutions and national organisms in the regional or international area, etc.


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Enrique Alonso nació en La Habana. Tras el establecimiento del régimen comunista se trasladó a España, licenciándose en Ciencias Químicas en la Universidad de Oviedo.

Es titulado por la Universidad Complutense en Química y Tecnología del Petroleo (dos cursos) y en Logística por la Cámara de Comercio de Madrid (un curso). Ha realizado su labor profesional durante más de 30 años en REPSOL y empresas anteriores, absorbidas posteriormente. Su trabajo se centró en la investigación de lubricantes (Centro de Investigación de la calle Embajadores), el área comercial y la logística de lubricantes (unas 100 mil Tm. al año de productos a granel y envasados, con un presupuesto total de unos 1000 millones de ptas).

Ha sido colaborador en la década de los 80, del diario Pueblo y, a través de la agencia EFE, de diversos diarios españoles e hispanoamericanos en temas de política internacional y militares.

Es autor de la novela “Operación Elefante”, publicada en 1982, que trata minuciosa y extensamente de las operaciones y tácticas de las guerrillas y contraguerrillas en la Angola socialista prosoviética de Agostinho Neto, apoyada desde 1975 por tropas cubanas. 

En 2005 publicó en inglés el ensayo “On the Nature of War”, que es una teoría de la guerra basada en el desarrollo y la aplicación práctica de 10 “sistemas operativos”.

Actualmente es colaborador permanente de la revista española War Heat International.

En la sección de Enlaces pueden ver datos sobre la oferta actual de estos libros.