3rd Field Regiment RAA Association
ISSUE No.5 - 4/2002 (SPECIAL) OCTOBER 2002
CO’s HOUR (President’s report)
Presidents Report AGM 20 October 2002
Mr. Ray Bird President of The Royal Australian Artillery Association, members and guests good morning, Welcome to our third AGM.
Over the last year your committee not only has worked hard at forwarding the aims of our association, but at all times has remained conscious of the overall progress of the Gunner cause in WA. As a consequence of this we either as a committee or as individuals from the committee are involved or are present at all Gunner related activities that occur in WA.
The first of these was Gunners Day in November. The attendance from both our members and the other Gunner associations was the largest for some time. I would encourage you all to attend this year on Sunday 3 November.
Anzac Day this year started with our own Dawn Service at Hobbs Artillery Park, and it attracted over 100 gunners and friends. The service was excellently conducted and a tribute to the professionalism of the members of 7 Field Battery. Our member’s attendance at the march and the function afterward was the largest in some time, and we hope this will continue to grow.
The Battery Birthday Dinner was held on Friday 5 July, and was again well attended. On your behalf Ron Jager presented our award for the most significant contribution to the battery in the preceding year to Gnr Belson, our congratulations to him.
None of the above would have taken place if not for the total commitment of your committee. Ron Jager our vice president, Mr. fix it, from spending a huge amount of time in re drafting the constitution for the RAA Association to coordinating Gunners Day, no job seem to big for Ron. Our Secretary, what can I say, he is the glue that not only holds our Association together but the Historical Society and RAA Association as well. Les Herbert our Treasurer until recently, has ensured every dollar collected has been recorded and has ensured that we have survived financially from our inception. Peter Farrell our Take post editor, with out his contribution we would not have the excellent publication we have today. Our membership man Ted Barton, he has spent hundreds of hours seeking and locating Gunners, we would not have any where the number of members if it were not for his efforts. Gabby D’Uva, the Battery Birthday, Gunner Officer dinner, Anzac Day organizer extraordinaire, who is also the very capable Treasurer for our Association and the RAA Association. John O’Brien our web master who after a lot of work has created a site that covers all Artillery activities in WA and has some great world links as well. Ken Hepworth has also contributed to all our activities and is always available to fill in when required. The last contributor, Ray Bird, is not even on the Committee but attends our meetings and keeps us up to date on the larger Gunner picture; this really helps us remain focused.
Every activity we undertake involves some contribution from the Battery, and I would like to sincerely thank the BC Major Scott Sullivan and his members for their un stinting support for the Gunner community in WA.
Finally I would like thank Don Rae and his helpers for allowing us to utilize this wonderful Gunner facility at Buckland Hill, and to you our members and families I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Editor’s Note: The committee decided that the following essay by a serving Bty Officer should be shared with all members. It was obvious that because of it’s technical nature it was unsuited to serialisation and should be a special issue.
EXAMINING THE NEED FOR OBSCURANTS AND
ILLUMINATION ON THE MODERN BATTLEFIELD
Captain A.M. Dunjey
1. This essay will examine need for battlefield obscurants and illumination, primarily focusing on their effectiveness. Additionally, it will consider the methods of delivery, training and logistical requirements on the modern battlefield. Battlefield examples employing these weapons will illustrate their historical importance and the examination will be related to recent enhancements and operational concepts. Both obscurants and illumination will be considered individually within each heading.
2. Some specialists in the field are of the view that the need for obscurants and illumination on the modern battlefield is a forgone conclusion.1 The use of smoke for screening purposes on the battlefield or at sea has been practiced since ancient times when the only sensors to be blocked were human eyes. Smoke aids in deceiving the enemy. It conceals maneuver and increases an army’s potential force-on-force ratio, if that army’s target acquisition systems can see through the smoke and the threat’s cannot.2
3. Today, virtually every nation has access to thermal imagers (TI) and intelligence gathering surveillance systems. To counter this increasingly sophisticated sensor threat, modern day smoke generators can provide maneuver commanders the capability to control and dominate the visual through to the far infrared (IR) portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, using visual and IR obscurants (graphite flakes). IR obscurants prevent TI sights from acquiring and engaging targets.3
4. Work is presently underway for yet another generation of obscurants termed multi-spectral. These will defeat weapon guidance systems, radar systems and microwave directed high-energy weapons.4 In the close combat conflict of the future, generic target types, as is presently the case, will have certain effect requirements. Specialised targets such as observation points will require key effect options, being principally visual and IR obscuration.5
5. In recent times, smoke was employed on the Kuwaiti/Saudi Arabian border as part of the coalition’s deception plan in operation Desert Storm. Even in the close terrain of Vietnam, smoke did at times have a role. It was found to be effective in being used for blinding, screening, marking and as a navigational aid.6
6. As low-level operations appear to becoming the most appropriate and cost effective means of achieving national goals, the use of obscurants in this type of conflict needs to be considered. Smoke will also have a use in supporting counterinsurgency operations. Smoke use can protect the force in all phases of counterinsurgency operations.7 In Vietnam, smoke was extensively used to screen the aerial insertion of troops.8
7. It can restrict use of airfields or facilities and conceal movement of counter-terrorism forces. Use of smoke can be made in peacetime in support of security assistance operations, show of force and peacekeeping operations. Marking smoke is particularly effective for signaling and early warning.9 The employment of smoke during hours of darkness and limited visibility periods (rain, fog, snow) can enhance its effectiveness. Smoke will also obscure the ambient light needed to use night-observation devices (NODs).
8. In military operations in urban terrain (MOUT), there is a valid argument concerning whether obscuration favours the defender or the attacker. An opposing view is the attacker would be expect the enemy to have a defensive fire plan for selected breach sites, but they must be tied to a trigger. It could be said that obscuration can help delay or confuse the initiation of those triggers.10
9. There is certainly a continuation of the need for obscurants on the modern battlefield, however, as this weapon grows in use, commanders must understand the limitations associated with each type. Like smoke, employment of IR obscurants can be a double-edged sword.
10. It has generally been accepted that too much intense light in the field of view of a TI or NOD can cause the electro-optics to “white out”, blinding the user for several seconds and can cause permanent damage to eyesight.
11. In recent times however, the widespread fear that illumination washes out all TI and NODs appears unfounded. Present United States (US) NOD’s use more up to date technology than known Russian style systems and are not susceptible to total white out. Experience during US Army live fire exercises shows that maneuver units actually fire more accurately when they use artillery of mortar illumination.11 The US Army is presently trialing near-IR mortar delivered illumination rounds, which assist latest generation NVG’s.12
12. It could quite reasonably be expected that the type of enemy encountered in conflicts by the Australian Army over the next ten years would not have access to the latest generation NOD’s in any sizeable number. This would therefore place a more modern army at a distinct advantage at night, with this advantage being enhanced through the use of illumination.
13. It is known that the adjustment of indirect fire by human observation becomes unreliable at night. Darkness and the use of NOD’s both degrade depth perception. Illumination offset from the observer’s line of sight can be used to counter this.13 During the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, artillery observers, usually located on high ground, found targets and adjusted during the day. At night however, target acquisitions and engagements were difficult, so Soviet artillery units employed illumination offset from line of sight to detect unobserved targets.14
14. Soviet commanders also planned artillery fire in support of ground ambushes. Ground ambush planning often included artillery illumination fire on the killing zone and probable assembly areas after their withdrawal from the killing zone.15 During the Vietnam war, Australian patrols regularly made use of illumination at night in contacts with the enemy.
15. Illumination will continue to be used as a deception measure to draw attention to areas away from main effort during an attack. Conversely, in the defence, the use of illumination could be employed to deceive attackers.16 During night cordon and search missions, illumination will continue to play a key role. Missions of this nature were supported by illumination in Vietnam.17 With the modern battlefield also encompassing urban areas, these type of search missions will continue to play a part in operations and if conducted at night, will be enhanced through the support of illumination.
16. Illumination is and will also continue to be effective in the marking of boundaries through ground burst, designating objectives and signals. Should conflicts on the modern battlefield require the application of harassing fire at night, illumination will play a key role in achieving this. Illumination should always be planned for, as a non-illuminated attack plan ceases to be one with the first enemy illumination round. Battlefield commanders will need to ensure that contingency plans are made to illuminate at any point of an attack or to switch to continuous illumination.18
17. As illumination is effective across a range of operating spectrums, and the fact that it is a double edged weapon, there will be a continued need for the authority for the use of illumination to be centralised.
18. Due to the wide array of potential combat situations, obscurants can be generated using mortar and artillery rounds, naval gun support (NGS), vehicle smoke systems, pots, aviation and grenades.
19. On the modern battlefield, obscurants will have three applications to support combat operations: blinding, screening and marking. When smoke is needed in a blinding capacity, it will need to be delivered directly on or immediately in front of enemy positions to blind or degrade their vision, both within and beyond their location. Artillery, mortars, NGS, rockets and grenades are generally used in delivering blinding smoke.19 To keep pace with the speed of an armoured advance, it will be necessary to support that advance with self-propelled (SP) artillery.
20. There will continue to be a need for screening smoke to be delivered in areas between friendly and enemy forces or in friendly operational areas, to degrade enemy ground or aerial observation or both. Delivery of screening smoke is effected through artillery, mortars, smoke generators, smoke pots and grenades.
21. The US Army now makes use of motorised and mechanised chemical smoke units, which operate vehicle mounted obscurant generators. These units can selectively produce visual obscurants and IR obscurants simultaneously or separately. M113 armoured personnel carriers can be equipped with a smoke generator set and this system can provide screening support to armoured forces well forward. It is less vulnerable to small arms and indirect fire than wheeled systems due to its armoured plating.20
22. The employment of stationary smoke generators mounted on light trucks and trailers, allows for large smoke missions to be conducted in rear areas. There has been recent development of countermeasure systems, which detect when an amoured vehicle is being illuminated by a laser. Upon detection, it triggers the discharge of smoke or other obscurants to block the laser and projectile homing systems.21
23. Army aviation assets can deliver smoke rockets from attack helicopters to obscure enemy observation, degrade target acquisition and mark targets for close air support aircraft. This delivery capability will be enhanced when the Australian Army takes delivery of new rotary wing aircraft under the Air 87 project.
24. Illumination will continue to be provided through traditional delivery systems. Artillery and mortars will provide illumination for the primary purpose of supporting an attack through exposing an enemy’s first echelon, artillery fire positions and approaching reserves. Crew operated rocket launchers and aviation assets will also support offensive and defensive actions. In the defence, Russian Army doctrine shows a continued requirement for illumination posts, which are teams assigned to illuminate an area on order, using handheld flares.22
25. In the past, in preparation for night offensives, artillery units sometimes moved to within 1 to 3 km of the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA). It is considered that as the battlespace of the future may not be so well defined and with the increased proliferation of SP artillery, there is no longer a need for this to occur. Illumination flares delivered by aircraft will enable ground forces out of artillery range to make use of illumination. This method was at times used by Australian patrols in Vietnam, with the aircraft dispensing flares, whilst flying a pattern overhead for a period of time.23
26. Certain delivery systems should not be dismissed by commanders due to their age, as some tried and proven weapon systems can continue to meet that commanders needs. During the Falklands War, the British Army made extensive use of mortar illumination to support its attacks, which were predominantly carried out at night. As mortars are man portable, they were one of the few weapon systems able to be brought forward on the long advance to battle.
27. In an age where Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues are foremost in many peoples thinking, it is not surprising then that OH&S now plays a major part in the use of obscurants and illumination in the training environment.
28. In the United States, the Department of Public Health and Environment stipulate that no obscurants may be initiated within 3 km of a training area boundary and smoke generation is limited to one hour in duration.24 It is suspected that presently used smoke can have health effects and continual studies are underway to find a less harmful replacement. Red phosphorous smoke is less toxic and is presently being used by the US Army.25 The US Army requires that masks be worn when troops are participating in operations that result in exposure to visual or IR obscurants.26
29. Infantry soldiers and amoured vehicle drivers can be trained to operate in obscurants, to reduce the degredation caused by obscurants. Training reduces psychological impact such as confusion, fear and isolation on troops.27 Training will enable commanders to carefully plan operations to ensure that the use of friendly obscurants in one area does not impede activities in another. The extreme impact of obscurants on tactical operations mandates close coordination, control and planning for contingencies. Battlefield commanders and observers should train to develop an obscurant support plan to include target lists, delivery assets and, type of support required. Contingencies should be rehearsed.
30. The training requirements for illumination tend to match that of obscurants training. Soldiers may require more training than in the past to operate during illumination. Training will reduce any psychological impact on troops and at the same time make them familiar with operating NVG’s during illumination activities. The transition phase from the cessation of illumination to normal night light will also be eased through sufficient training.
31. Observers skills in ensuring a commander receives the support he is seeking, are vital to the success of the illumination plan. There will continue to be a need for observers to train to ensure height of burst is correct and that wind speed and direction are taken into account. These skills will also ensure that the illumination carrier shell falls safely and is not placing friendly forces at risk.
32. Training will also incorporate the personnel operating the delivery systems. These personnel require training to ensure full familiarization, as operating delivery systems at night can increase the likelihood of mistakes through fatigue.
33. The concept for future operations, requires effective logistic support to high-tempo, dispersed, non-linear mobile operations, underpinned by mission command and facilitated by common, near-real-time situation awareness, in a potentially hostile environment. All logistic
considerations in this environment are characterized by a trade-off between the requirements to reduce the logistic footprint while guaranteeing agreed levels of obscurant and illumination responsiveness.28
34. The wind, location and for how long a commander is willing to sustain a smoke cloud will be the key factors influencing the end logistics plan required for that support. The screening of troop movement can be very resource intensive and planners need to be aware of this to ensure that sufficient supply is made available to maintain the effectiveness of the screen. In the Vietnam War, smoke was at times used to screen troop movement across open terrain such as rice paddies. On one occasion approximately 1,200 rounds were used to screen one company.29
35. With the addition of IR smoke material, logistical support for chemical smoke units will require special consideration. Vehicle mounted generator systems can provide 90 minutes of visual obscurant and 30 minutes of infrared obscurant without resupply. One 5-ton truck is able to resupply 3 smoke generator systems.30 Planning should be based on the same factors as a tactical plan: mission, enemy situation, terrain, weather, time and distance.
36. The use of illumination ammunition can also at times be very intensive. In offensive operations, units do today, and will continue to require significantly larger quantities of illumination ammunition. It therefore follows that careful planning is necessary to ensure sufficient supplies of artillery and mortar illumination ammunition are available for all activities. This planning can be achieved through the completion illumination defensive fire (DF) plans. The reconnaissance of night objectives should include the location of illumination points to aid in the illumination DF plan.
37. The volume of ammunition required to support a night attack can be unpredictable. If an offensive becomes bogged down, the length of time illumination may be required could be far longer than was planned for. The area over which an offensive is conducted will dictate the number of fire units required and the end ammunition requirements. As with obscurants, the number of fire units and ammunition available, therefore become a limitation on a commanders plan.
38. Units in a night offensive must be resupplied before execution, as logistics activity is much tougher at night. This can be aided through pre-positioning supplies of ammunition forward to help support night attacks.31
39. This essay has examined the effectiveness of obscurants and illumination on the modern battlefield. It has shown that both of these weapons have a key role in supporting operations across the full spectrum of warfighting.
40. Obscurants provide battlefield commanders an additional element of combat power. Obscurant use supports battlefield deception and enhances friendly combat operations. Visual and IR obscurants in any operation can be employed to protect the force, screen friendly maneuvers, or to obscure and attack threat sensor and seekers.
41. With the advent of newer generation TI and NOD’s, illumination can be used in a variety of operations and can have a two fold benefit in that it will most likely white out any enemy NOD’s and at the same time enhance the capability of our own. Both obscurants and illumination are combat multipliers.
42. Provision of obscurant and illumination support, is now provided by a wide range of delivery systems, ranging from indirect fire assets, to aviation and armoured vehicles. Regular training and careful planning are required for the employment of both of obscurants and illumination to ensure that logistics needs can be met.
Brigadier Richard Lawler, Retired Dr Ken Smit, Defence Science and Technology Organisation
1. http://www.carson.army.mil/Decam/smoke%26obscurantspg.html, ‘Smoke and Obscurants’, Morton, T.M. Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management, Fort Carson, Colorado, 06 Mar 01, p 1.
1. 2. http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-50/Ch1.htm, ‘Introduction’ United States Army 2. Field Manual 3-50 Chapter 1, 06 Mar 01, p 9.
3. http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-50/Ch7.htm, ‘Visual-Infrared Obscurants’ United States Army Field Manual 3-50 Chapter 7, 06 Mar 01, p 4.
4. Introduction, op cit, p 2.
5. Combined Arms Training and Development Centre, ‘Combat Manoeuvre’, WinNow Papers 2000, p 34.
6. Discussions with Brigadier Richard Lawler, Retired, 16 Apr 01.
7. Introduction, op cit, p 10.
8. Lawler, op cit.
9. Introduction, op cit, p 14.
10. http://call.army.mil/products/newsltrs/99-16/chap5.htm, ‘Fire Support Considerations for
Military Operations in Urban Terrain’, Puckett, Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Chief of Doctrine, Unites States Army, Field Artillery School, Kansas, 19 Mar 01, p 11.
11. http://www-leav.army.mil, ‘Fire Support Lessons Learned’ Unites States Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 10 Mar 01, p 1.
12. Discussions with Dr Ken Smit, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, 03 May 01.
13. http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-123/Appc.htm, ‘Night Operations’, United States Army Training & Doctrine Digital Library, 12 Mar 01, p 6.
14. http://call.army.mil/products/spc_sdy/98-17/artly.htm, ‘Artillery and Counterinsurgency: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan’, Grau, L.W. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 19 Mar 01, p 3.
15. ibid, p 5.
16. Night Operations, op cit, p 4.
17. Lawler, op cit.
18. Night Operations, op cit, p 6.
19. Introduction, op cit, p 15.
20. Visual-Infrared Obscurants, op cit, p 2.
21. http://newsite.janes.com/defence/market_r…/electro_optic_systems_2000-2001_04.sm, Electro Optic Systems 2000-2001’, Atkin, K. 2001, Jane’s Defence, 19 Mar 01, p 1.
22. Night Operations, op cit, p 2.
23. Lawler, op cit.
24. United States Army, Military Training with Pyrotechnic Smoke Munitions and/or Obscurant Smoke Generators, Fort Carson Standard Operating Procedures, Fort Carson, Colorado, p 1.
25. Smit, op cit.
26. Introduction, op cit, p 18.
27. ibid, p 17.
28. Combined Arms Training and Development Centre, ‘Battlespace Logistics and Combat Service Support’, WinNow Papers 2000, p 77.
29. Lawler, op cit.
30. Visual-Infrared Obscurants, op cit, p 5.
31. Night Operations, op cit, p 7.
Combined Arms Training and Development Centre, ‘Combat Manoeuvre’, WinNow Papers 2000.
Combined Arms Training and Development Centre, ‘Battlespace Logistics and Combat Service Support’, WinNow Papers 2000.
http://call.army.mil/products/newsltrs/99-16/chap5.htm, ‘Fire Support Considerations for Military Operations in Urban Terrain’, Puckett, Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Chief of Doctrine, Unites States Army, Field Artillery School, Kansas, 19 Mar 01.
http://call.army.mil/products/spc_sdy/98-17/artly.htm, ‘Artillery and Counterinsurgency: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan’, Grau, L.W. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 19 Mar 01.
Optic Systems 2000-2001’, Atkin, K. 2001, Jane’s Defence, 19 Mar 01.
http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-50/Ch1.htm, ‘Introduction’ United States Army Field
Manual 3-50 Chapter 1, 06 Mar 01.
http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-50/Ch7.htm, ‘Visual-Infrared Obscurants’ United States Army Field Manual 3-50 Chapter 7, 06 Mar 01.
http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-123/Appc.htm, ‘Night Operations’, United States
Army Training & Doctrine Digital Library, 12 Mar 01.
http://www.carson.army.mil/Decam/smoke%26obscurantspg.html, ‘Smoke and Obscurants’, Morton,
T.M. Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management, Fort Carson, Colorado, 06
http://www-leav.army.mil, ‘Fire Support Lessons Learned’ Unites States Army, Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, 10 Mar 01.
United States Army, Military Training with Pyrotechnic Smoke Munitions and/or Obscurant Smoke
Generators, Fort Carson Standard Operating Procedures, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Sunday 3 Nov
St Mathews’ Church Guildford. Form up on road 1430 hrs.
Membership for the year 2002 to 2003 is now due.
Fees still $10.00
PO Box 881 Claremont WA 6910
President Peter Rowles W 9359 1280 H9246 3941 Vice President Ron Jager W 9420 2231 H9457 2166 Secretary Tom Arnautovic W9430 3428 H9332 3309 Treasurer Gabby D'Uva Mob 0407476425 H93001937 Committee Ray Bird W9380 9388 H9446 5520 Committee Ted Barton H9479 6382 Editor Peter Farrell H9246 1367 Committee Ken Hepworth Mob 0419907356 H9294 2275 Committee / Web John O’Brien W9273 7157 H9339 8615
Membership fee is $10 pa.
3 Fd Regt RAA Association
PO Box 881
CLAREMONT WA 6910
Telephone + 61 8 93323309
Members are requested to advise Secretary of contact name & addresses of former 3rd Fd Regt personnel and application for membership kits will be forwarded direct.
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