M113A3 Gavin Mech-Infantry air-delivered by USAF C-130s OPERATIONAL TODAY in the U.S. Army's European Immediate Ready Force (IRF)

Left: Two Soldiers with radio - Middle: Mighty M113A3 moving ahead - Right: Taking aim to engage the enemy


173d Airborne Brigade

Soldiers Magazine, the official magazine of the U.S. Army, November 2001 issue:

USAREUR's Ready Force

THE Immediate Ready Force was established to improve USAREUR's ability to rapidly respond to potential contingencies within the European Command's area of responsibility.

The cornerstone of the IRF is the Light Immediate Ready Company from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, in Vicenza, Italy. This Airborne force is deployable within 24 hours and can be quickly reinforced with additional units from SETAF's 173rd Brigade.

The remainder of the IRF is tailored into force enhancement modules that add specific capabilities in the form of combat power, communications, military police, engineers, scouts, and tactical or strategic control assets.

The FEMs can deploy separately or together, based on the mission, to provide a capable, tailorable and integrated force.

Combat power ranges from the Medium Ready Company, equipped with M113 Gavin armored personnel carriers, to the Heavy Immediate Ready Company, equipped with M1A1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

Key to the mobility of the IRF is its ability to deploy using tactical airlift assets already available in the European theater, belonging to U.S. Air Forces Europe. Every IRF FEM is C-130 deployable, with the exception of the HIRC, which requires heavy-lift capability in the form of C-17 or C-5A transport aircraft.

The successful partnership between USAREUR and USAFE, working together to meet the needs of the EUCOM commander, has been an essential part of the development and employment of the IRF.

Also key to the readiness and rapid deployment of the IRF is the prepositioning of equipment at the Deployment Processing Center.

Located at Rhine Ordinance Barracks, the DPC stocks complete equipment sets for the FEMs, maintaining them at a 100 percent readiness rate.

The location of ROB, adjacent to Ramstein Air Base, the primary aerial port of embarkation in Germany's Central Region, helps speed the delivery of IRF personnel and equipment anywhere they are needed. -- MAJ Paul Swiergosz

Also enclosed are other articles from U.S. Army Europe and Army Times showing how tracked M113A3s are already being used for an aircraft delivered Air-Mech-Strike capability NOW at a fraction of the cost of new purchase, less-capable LAV-III armored cars, that at 37, 796+ pounds are too heavy for USAF C-130s to airland them at forward landing strips (32,000 pounds is the limit for this) While HQDA "blew it" with the LAV-III as the IAV selection (under protest, hopefully over-turned by Congress when side-by-side testing proves M113A3s not only meet requirements, actually out-performs the LAV-III armored car) for the handful of IBCTs, the rest of the Army can still utilize the superior M113A3 Gavin-type vehicles readily available. Light tracked AFVs like the M113A3 do not need Heavy Equipment Transporter trucks. The Australian Army used M113A1s to take-down East Timor flown in from C-130s last year.

NATO Mobility study proves wheeled armored cars inferior to TRACKED AFVs in cross-country mobility

Someone at SETAF (General Meigs) has had the moral courage and tactical vision to bring back the 173rd Airborne BDE and the modernized M113A3 for a C-130 air-deployable mechanized infantry capability! We salute him for his courage and wisdom. Airborne, Sir!

However, the former wheeled armored car fanatic, Naylor still misses key points in his Army Times article:

1. M113A3s with 1.5 inch thick aluminum alloy armor can have extra applique' armor fitted to repel HMGs, RPGs and autocannons far more protective than the LAV-III/IAV's thin 14mm (1/2 inch) can accept--the bolts are there but the Army has yet to buy the armor panels. The lav3stryker can NEVER be RPG protected or even from small bullets because its entire lower body area where the wheels are at is UNCOVERED!!!! No "applique armor" here because the wheels have to turn to STEER. Those that say the lav3stryker can be made RPG protected are liars. These thin boxes on 8 air-filled rubber tires cannot even be protected from common rifle bullets and molotov cocktails let alone shaped-charge RPGs.

2. M113A3s are newly remanufactured from 1987, not "old" as rubber tire man Naylor insinuates to try to discredit them as a defacto paid hack, "yes-man" for the ruling HQDA wheeled armored car mafia. Naylor prints whatever the army tells him to print unless the circumstances are so obvious he grudgingly has to print the truth. But even then he put in his smart ass snide remarks and subtle digs because he's a civilian easily infatuated with what looks sexy and avant garde.

3. M113A3s by their low-ground pressure and tracked propulsion are far more cross-country-mobile and small-arms fire resistant than LAV-type wheeled armored cars rolling on air-filled rubber tires ever will be...

4. Put rubber, single-piece "band tracks" on M113A3s and they are even more "gentle" on third world country roads for peacekeeping operatiions, they are as silent and vibration free as a truck and lose a half-ton of weight and thus are easily CH-47D helicopter transportable as pointed out in the book;

Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Maneuver Warfare for the 21st century


5. M113A3s can be upgraded with all the FBCB2 C4I digital gear and weaponry the Army needs/wants, transforming the entire Army one battalion in every Brigade, leaving the other battalions with M1/M2s to create a 2-D/3-D maneuver capability at a fraction of the cost that new purchase less-capable wheeled armored cars would cost!

Small Turret or Remote Weapon Station: except for the more compact M113A3 Gavin its could be a powerful 20-40mm autocannon and still fit inside a C-130 for airland or airdrop instead of the pathetic popgun the lav3stryker shoots (when it works)

Buttoned-up Squad Leader TV display

P900 Applique Armor (see photo at top of this web page)


The question is WHEN will the rest of the Army, realize this?

"The Americans will always do the right thing... After they've exhausted all the alternatives."

-- Winston Churchill

Maybe after some lav3strykers murder some of our men?


Before you can say Jack Robinson...

Text: Lt. Sveinung Larsen -- Photos: SFC Sven Christian

Two Apache helicopters shoots rockets and machine gun for cover fire, the rockets make a shrilling sound as they knock out every target on the Ramjane Range.

When the Immediate Ready Force (IRF) moves, it really moves quickly. Less than 48 hours after their initial alert notification, they were ready to exercise Combined-Arms live fire in MNB East.

The IRF is drawn largely from the 1-18th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based in Schweinfurt, Germany. It is a fast-moving American unit specialising in rapid-response, deployment and support to European contingencies. Late August the IRF exercised on a swift and decisive response in Kosovo.

At the request of UNMIK and COMKFOR, USAREUR directed this deployment to Multinational Brigade East, under the command of Brig Gen. Dennis E. Hardy. The IRF included Infantry, Scout and Military Police assets, in addition to command, control and other support elements. The Soldiers deployed with M113A3 Armoured Personnel Carriers and High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles. The exercise is the final event of the IRF's training on rapid deployment in Kosovo.

Heavy fire

Operations officer Tom Fisher gives his briefing in a tent in Ramjane Range close to camp Bondsteel

"Our mission is to conduct a hasty defence movement to deny a paramilitary incursion in our sector," says Operations officer Tom Fisher standing in a tent in Ramjane Range close to camp Bondsteel. The IRF is waiting for the exercise to begin. First the scout locate the different targets and directs artillery fire from Camp Bondsteel. After the targets had been barraged, the scouts engage with mortars and machine guns while pulling out and giving room for a infantry company. At this point the company commander moves in with his men to engage the enemy.

Half through the exercise, the units are running low on ammunition, and requests air support from Bondsteel. Two Apache helicopters arrive and the Soldiers lie low on the ground as the helicopters drop the ammunition while shooting rockets and machine gun for cover fire. The rockets make a shrilling sound as they knock out every target on the Ramjane Range. Indeed a strong demonstration of both the projection capabilities of the IRF, and the rapid force projection capabilities available to the Task Force Falcon commander.


Immediate Ready Force Deployment

The first element of the KFOR U.S. Immediate Ready Force (IRF) arrived at Camp Able Sentry (FYROM) at 11:50 a.m. yesterday, less than 48 hours after their initial alert notification.

The IRF is drawn largely from the 1-18th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, from Schweinfurt, Germany. At UNMIK and KFOR request, the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) headquarters directed the deployment. The force will be assigned to Multi-National Brigade East under the command of Brig Gen. Dennis E. Hardy.

The IRF is composed of roughly 120 Soldiers and includes Infantry, Scout and Military Police assets; command and control; and other support elements. The Soldiers are deploying with M113A3 Armored Personnel Carriers and High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles.

The IRF's capability to rapidly deploy from Central Europe and immediately begin executing a wide range of military missions in Kosovo proves USAREUR's ability to respond swiftly and decisively to European contingencies. This IRF deployment is further evidence of the U.S. commitment to NATO's work to achieve peace in Kosovo. Its presence will add additional flexibility and force protection capabilities to MNB East.

August 22, 2000

First element of IRF arrives at Kosovo staging point CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (Aug 17, 2000) --The first element of the Immediate Ready Force (IRF) arrived at Camp Able Sentry at 11:50 a.m. today, less than 48 hours after their initial alert notification. The IRF is drawn largely from the 1-18th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, from Schweinfurt, Germany. At the JCS's direction, USAREUR deployed this force. The force will be assigned to Multi-National Brigade (East) under the command of Brig Gen. Dennis E. Hardy.

The IRF includes Infantry, Scout and Military Police assets; command and control; and other support elements. The Soldiers are deploying with M113A3 Armored Personnel Carriers and High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles. The IRF's capability to rapidly deploy and immediately begin executing a wide range of military missions proves USAREUR's ability to respond swiftly and decisively to European contingencies.

This IRF deployment is further evidence of the U.S . commitment to NATO's work to achieve peace in Kosovo. Its presence will add additional flexibility and force protection capabilities to MNB (E).

For more information about this news release, contact Task Force Falcon Operation Joint Guardian Public Affairs, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, telephone: 00-49-621-730-781-5078, SATPHONE 00-871-762-069-495, or E-mail: pao@bondsteel2.areur.army.mil

Army Times
November 6, 2000
Pg. 18

Ready - And Waiting

USAREUR's Immediate Ready Force specialty: quick to react

By Sean Naylor

SCHWEINFURT, Germany - Which new Army organization is structured for early deployment, is mostly deployable by C-130s, has a significant medium-weight component and is available for missions today?

If you answered one of the Initial Brigade Combat Teams at Fort Lewis, Wash., you'd be wrong.

The first of those isn't supposed to be ready for real-world missions until December 2001.

The real answer: U.S. Army Europe's Immediate Ready Force.

While much of the Army's attention is focused on the medium-weight brigades the service is establishing at Lewis to make itself more relevant for the 21st century, the Army's European component has quietly stood up its own quick-reaction force.

The battalion-size force combines a heavy company of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a medium-weight mechanized infantry company mounted on M113A3 tracked vehicles, and platoons of scouts, engineers, MPs and communications troops.

Strictly speaking, the IRF is not a new unit. Rather, it is a new capability, responsibility for which rotates every six months among USAREUR's four ground maneuver brigades. It is designed to be used in conjunction with SETAF, the Southern European Task Force's Vicenza, Italy-based Airborne Brigade, which functions as the Army's initial entry force in Europe.

The force is the brainchild of USAREUR commander Gen. Montgomery Meigs. [A HERO.]

"My objective was to try to create a range of capability here," he said in an Oct. 16 interview. "In some situations the may need a headquarters with a brigadier general and an MP platoon. In another he might want a brigade with a heavy component in it."

The IRF can be tailored to meet either requirement, he said.

The new force had its genesis in the deployment of Task Force Hawk from Germany to Albania last spring. That task force was built around a deep strike force of Apache attack helicopters and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. It also included armor, mechanized infantry and light infantry components, as well as much of the V Corps headquarters and other combat support and combat service support elements.

The Army was heavily criticized for taking several weeks to deploy the full task force. But much of the delay stemmed from a lack of adequate airlift, officials contend. Many of the Air Force's C-17 aircraft required to lift the heavy equipment into Albania were busy helping in refugee relief operations.

At the conclusion of Operation Allied Force, NATO's war against Serbia, Meigs sat down with then-V Corps commander Gen. John Hendrix to discuss how to fix the shortcomings. Deploy in 24 to 48 hours

Meigs said he wanted to be able to give the commander-in-chief of U.S. European Command a force he could deploy in 24 to 48 hours, "but without having too many people standing on their heads."

Hendrix, who had previously commanded the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Stewart, Ga., suggested establishing a force similar to that division's Immediate Ready Company built around Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The Army tasked 3rd Mech to provide that capability to the XVIII Airborne Corps after canceling plans to buy the Armored Gun System light tank for the 82nd Airborne Division.

"I said, OK, having a heavy immediate company makes sense, but we need a range of things to draw from because a lot of times what you're trying to put in is not necessarily a heavy force," Meigs said.

In addition, he noted that any European-based force built around Abrams and Bradleys has a significant drawback: To deploy in a hurry it needs to be airlifted on C-17s, which U.S. Air Force Europe doesn't have.

"The Army is a learning, thinking, adaptable organization,"

Gen. John M. Keane
Army Vice Chief of Staff


"One of the lessons of Allied Force was this requirement for intra-theater mobility ... We needed a capability that would move on C-130s that are organic to USAFE," Meigs said. Therefore Meigs decided to include not only a heavy company in his IRF, but also a medium-weight company based around M113A3s, the Vietnam-era armored personnel carriers no longer used by mechanized infantry [NOT TRUE, SEAN, M113A3s are of 1987 manufacture NOT FROM VIETNAM, M2 BFV MECH-INFANTRY BATTALIONS STILL HAVE M113A3s in HHC, and 1 M113A3 in EACH RIFLE COMPANY]. The Army still has thousands of them in storage [WHY YOU UPGRADE THESE SUPERIOR TRACKED VEHICLES INSTEAD OF WASTING $4 BILLION ON ROAD-BOUND, INFERIOR LAV-III wheeled armored cars].

The aluminum-hulled 113s are small and light enough to be flown by C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. But the same characteristics that make the 113 so deployable also make it more vulnerable to enemy fire than tanks and Bradleys. [IF IT GETS HIT---BY BEING MORE CROSS-COUNTRY MOBILE THAN M1s/M2s, M113A3s can AVOID GETTING HIT]

"An armor-piercing .50-caliber round will go right through it," [WHY YOU ORDER THEN PUT ON HMG/RPG RESISTANT P900 APPLIQUE ARMOR ON M113A3s] said Maj. Gen. John Craddock, commander of the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), based in Wuerzburg.

For that reason, commanders here say they have no intention of sending the medium company into a situation it cannot handle.

"One wouldn't try to put the medium company in a big tank battle," Meigs said. "But as the backbone of an Airborne force on the ground quickly, it could be very useful."

A typical mission might see the SETAF Airborne Brigade seize an airfield, with the medium company being flown in immediately afterward in C-130s to help strengthen the perimeter, officials here said. Meigs added the Army also recently had given SETAF 63 Humvees to make the Airborne force more mobile once it hits the ground.

The Army replaced its last 113s with Bradleys in the active-duty mechanized infantry force in 1989. [EDITOR: FALSE. 50% of a Heavy Brigade is M113 Gavin to INCLUDE the mechanized infantry battalions...] The boxy, tracked vehicles remain in engineer and other outfits. Preparing mech infantry forces in Europe for possible real-world missions in the 113s, however, presented something of a training challenge.

MARCH 1985 FM 7-7 Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad (APC)


"They pulled out some old manuals from the late '70s and early '80s," said V Corps planner Jack Dempsey.

Nevertheless, Craddock and other commanders here downplayed any risk in sending troops into action on the vehicles.

"A lot of our NCOs have time on a 113," Craddock said.

To get his mech troops used to fighting from 113s, Col. Pete Palmer sent them to train with the Combat Maneuver Training Center's opposing force. The Hohenfels-based outfit uses visually modified 113s in its mock battles with USAREUR units. Palmer, who previously commanded a 113 company, now commands the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade here, currently providing the IRF.

No insurmountable challenges

And even though the 113s lack a heavy, direct-fire weapon like the Bradley's 25mm chain gun, making it less of a maneuver system, Lt. Col. Mike Murray, commander of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment in Palmer's brigade, said he saw no insurmountable challenges.

"The hard piece is probably the driver's training and the weapons familiarization," he said.

In fact, USAREUR has done almost no collective maneuver training with the medium ready company. In June the IRF's MP and command and control elements deployed to Hungary for an exercise, and in August, in response to a European Command order, the medium company deployed to Kosovo. The troops deployed back to Germany, but left the 113s in Kosovo, which further complicated the ability of commanders here to train them on the older gear.

"Am I concerned that we've got to train the MRC? Yeah," said Craddock. "Am I worried? No."

Even though his medium ready company's vehicles are now sitting in Kosovo, Meigs denied that the IRF is nothing more than a quick reaction force for trouble in the Balkans.

"Nobody can tell us where the next crisis is going to be over the next 10 years," he said.

Meigs also sought to draw a sharp contrast between his IRF and the new medium-weight brigades at Lewis. "The command and control technologies in the IRF and SETAF are conventional command and control technologies, for the most part," he said. "The command and control technologies in the interim brigades and the way in which they fight are a bold step forward."

What could we do if we weren't wasting $7 BILLION on BS, inferior lav3stryker rubber-tired armored cars:

U.S. Army World-wide Strategic Operational Maneuver (AWSOM)

This is what Loeb is referring to in his article about General Meigs below.


For the U.S. Military, A Transforming View From the Maginot Line

By Vernon Loeb

Sunday, October 6, 2002; Page B02


In the dense Ardennes forest, where the Germans began their daring blitzkrieg invasion of France, Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs arrived one afternoon last month in search of answers.

The four-star commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe seemed puzzled by what had happened here in May 1940, when the Germans, having learned from their defeat in World War I, punched through this forbidding terrain, crossed two rivers, maneuvered around the supposedly "impenetrable" Maginot line and knocked France out of World War II in just six weeks.

"Why does the loser learn quicker and better than the winner?" Meigs asked as we began a drive along the Semois River, which elements of Germany's XIX Panzer Corps forded on their way through Belgium. "You've got to think about this. Because, right now, the American military is the winner. And how do we not let [what happened here] happen to us?"

Meigs was leading a group that included two dozen of his subordinates, myself and a handful of generals from Germany, Russia and Britain on what the Army calls a "staff ride," a century-old teaching device that lets up-and-coming commanders walk historic battlefields, study the terrain and ponder the decisions taken by the great and not-so-great generals of the past.

His questions also carried a subtext, questioning the latest Pentagon obsession -- military "transformation," which President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld promise will finish turning a supposedly plodding industrial-age military into a nimble information-age force. Bush's faith in transformation is based on the belief that the U.S. military is in the midst of an "RMA," or "revolution in military affairs." That idea, associated most closely with Andrew Marshall, the director of the Pentagon's in-house think tank, suggests that emerging technologies and new concepts periodically change the nature of war and produce dramatic gains in military effectiveness. This belief is guiding the Pentagon's plans for future acquisitions. Some people worry that it's also feeding overconfidence about U.S. fighting capabilities in the event of a war with Iraq.

The Ardennes forest offers a powerful lens for viewing the transformation debate because the blitzkrieg occupies a special place in RMA theory. If the United States is in the midst of the third and last RMA of the 20th century, built upon precision, stealth and high-speed data, the German blitzkrieg is generally considered the first. RMA theorists believe that the Germans fused new tactics and emerging technologies -- the internal combustion engine, the radio, the mounted machine gun and improved aircraft design -- to produce a highly mobile style of warfare that left the French, hunkered down along the Maginot line and other defensive perimeters, simply unable to cope.

Meigs is a skeptic. He doesn't subscribe to the theory that there are periodic "revolutions in military affairs." And he is downright dubious about the idea that the U.S. military must either radically "transform" itself with "skip-a-generation" technologies -- to use Bush's phrase -- or risk meeting the same fate as the French.

"Transformation," Meigs believes, has become an ideology in a Pentagon where dissenters are not particularly welcome, even though this "transformed" future force has never been clearly defined and the amount of money needed to create it could jeopardize highly effective current capabilities. He describes the prevailing Pentagon mood like this: They say, "There's an RMA [underway], we're going to use it to transform the military, and anybody who disagrees with us is a Luddite."

The M113A3 Gavin is the Army's "B-52"

Meigs is no Luddite. He has embraced technology, but he's also developed innovative ways to rapidly deploy heavy tank and armored units left over from the Cold War in a world where far-flung contingencies have become an everyday fact of life. "We ought to leverage what's changed and realize what hasn't," Meigs told me. "The new technology is not a panacea. There's still no silver bullet. What wins or loses is your ability to shatter the will of your opponent -- that's how you win wars."

Indeed, the paradoxical lesson of traipsing through the Ardennes for three days was that human factors -- leadership, tactics, training and discipline -- were the keys to success for the XIX Panzer Corps under Gen. Heinz Guderian as it sliced through the Ardennes in Belgium, crossed the Meuse River at Sedan, and pushed deep into France between the Maginot line to the south and the main French force to the north.

According to blitzkrieg mythology -- the invention of Nazi propagandists after France fell -- German technology (better tanks and airpower) were the keys to victory. In fact, it was old-fashioned German foot soldiers who fought their way across the Meuse so the tanks could follow. They took advantage of an autocratic French leadership, which based its static strategy on defensive perimeters, not rapid maneuver. The Germans actually did not hold much of a technological edge. The French had superior tanks in greater numbers and battlefield materiel that was roughly equivalent.

Indeed, it can be argued that the French fell victim to faith in technology, believing that the Maginot line would protect France's eastern border with Germany, while the forest, ravines and rivers of the Ardennes to the north would be a natural barrier. The Maginot line was the ultimate in military high-tech, with tunnels linking networks of armored bunkers and command centers. Though wildly expensive and still incomplete at the time of the German assault, it was considered impregnable -- until Guderian went around it.

Led by three military historians, Meigs's staff ride stopped at the crest of a hill to survey the ruins of a cast-iron fortress that was once the Maginot line's northernmost outpost. "This is a combination of what [World War II Gen. George S.] Patton called the false security of the fortress -- and a misapplication of technology," Meigs said, standing atop the devastated structure, which was overrun by German infantry.

Meigs has a compelling background, lending pedigree, if not weight, to his views. His great-great-uncle, another Maj. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, was Lincoln's quartermaster general during the Civil War and is credited with transforming a small, disorganized force into a large, well-organized war-fighting machine. His father, Lt. Col. Montgomery C. Meigs, was killed in France at the age of 24 on Dec. 11, 1944, commanding a tank battalion in the Lorraine region.

Meigs was born a month later in Annapolis. He graduated from West Point in 1967 and commanded an armored cavalry unit in Vietnam. In the early 1980s, he taught history at West Point. With a PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin, Meigs could have become an Army intellectual and served in senior staff jobs at the Pentagon and the National Security Council.

Instead, he took over an armored cavalry regiment in 1984. By 1991, he was a colonel leading the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade across the Iraqi desert. There, above the northwest corner of Kuwait, his brigade stumbled upon the Iraqi Madinah Division's 2nd Brigade, the last significant formation Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's military would field during the Gulf War. Meigs gave the order to fire, and 166 American M1A1 tanks destroyed 60 Iraqi T-72 tanks and dozens of personnel carriers in 40 minutes.

"I was just doing my job -- doing what I was trained to do," he said. Meigs considers his later command of the 1st Infantry Division and NATO's peacekeeping mission in the northern sector of Bosnia in 1996 and 1997 far more "abstract and difficult." Who would ever have thought, he said, that an armored unit built to stop the Soviets at the Fulda Gap could perform a peacekeeping mission in the Balkans?

That's one reason he has reservations about transformation. RMA theorists disparage the Army's so-called "legacy" forces, which Meigs says remain highly effective, particularly in the mountains of Afghanistan or the cities of Iraq, where precision strike capabilities are limited. "How much of that total capability are you willing to throw out to optimize precision strike [capability]?" Meigs asked, noting that it is impossible for Pentagon planners to predict who the nation's adversaries will be -- and what capabilities will be needed to fight them -- five or 10 years from now. A high-tech future military could be vulnerable to countermeasures and new tactics, he said, pointing out the Serbs' success in hiding and protecting their armor in Kosovo throughout the 78 days of NATO airstrikes in 1999.

"Combat and peacekeeping operations always involve risk of failure," Meigs wrote in a recent essay on the four qualities required of Army generals -- force of intellect, energy, selflessness and basic humanity. "Despite the best plans and the best training, the outcome is always subject to random factors and to error and is in doubt. The difference between winning and not winning lies often in the faith of the unit in their leader and in the ability together to persevere through the last final push that breaks enemies' will."

And that's part of the lesson I took away from my ride with Meigs. The revolution in military affairs that took place in the Ardennes was a revolution in thinking. While both sides shared new motorized tank technology, only Germany applied it with determination and innovative maneuvers to create a new way of fighting.

What does that mean for today's U.S. military? The American video-guided bombs that flew down ventilator shafts in the Persian Gulf War and the unmanned Predator drones that fired anti-tank missiles at fleeing al Qaeda leaders in four-wheel drives in Afghanistan made the saturation bombing of World War II and carpet-bombing of Vietnam look like World War I trench warfare. But how America's new technologies are applied remains critical. The single biggest mistake made by U.S. commanders in the Afghan war came in December, when they used air power to bomb the caves at Tora Bora but didn't use U.S. forces to block the escape routes into Pakistan -- and hundreds of al Qaeda fighters, and possibly Osama bin Laden himself, got away.

When revolutionary changes do happen, they flow as much from leadership and creativity as from silver bullet, "leap ahead" technologies, maybe even more. As one of Meigs's aides put it, with an eye squarely on a possible invasion of Iraq: "We may never need a tank again -- until next month." While precision strikes have changed warfare -- and hold great promise -- winning wars in the future will probably still require some old-fashioned military tools and, yes, putting American boots on the ground.

Vernon Loeb covers the Pentagon for The Post.


Key to U.S. Army strategic mobility: Cargo 747s

Another Air-Mech-Strike capability has been found........

With a "sub-floor" of 463L pallets 11-ton M113A3s can be air-transported by cargo 747s; 19-21 ton lav3stryker cannot even fit and are too heavy...the M113A3 weighs roughly the same as a 2.5 truck = 11 tons.

How many M113A3s in a B-747?

My figures are:

M113A3 = 208.5 inches long
Wiesel 1 = 137.79 inches long
Wiesel 2 = 165.35 inches long

B-747 in 33 463L pallet configuration (2 rows of 16 x 48" long pallets = 768 inches total length available)

Scrutinize this picture:


So a B-747 could carry 3 x M113A3s = 625.5 inches
and 1 x Wiesel 1 = 137.79 inches
4 Armored Fighting Vehicles!

763.29 inches total

So if the Army was smart, it would base its IBCTs around M113A3s so it could use CRAF and/or leased cargo 747s to move part of the force....as well as use Wiesels in the RSTA...

Also notice "747s with ramps" statement--there may already be ramps that M113A3s can use to roll on/off 747s without need of slow MHE loaders.....


FM 55-9 Field Manual No. 55-9
Washington, DC, 5 April 1993

FM 55-9




"Problems associated with loading CRAF aircraft are not usually encountered in loading military aircraft. The cargo compartment of a B-747, for example, is 16 feet above ground level (AGL). Standard military materials-handling equipment cannot be used to load the aircraft. Like the floors of the KC-10, the floors of all civilian aircraft are not strong enough to withstand the ground pressure of vehicles. A subfloor of 463L pallets must be installed before loading any vehicles. Despite subflooring, any vehicle heavier than a 2 1/2-ton truck cannot be loaded onto most civilian aircraft. Pallet stations may also have weight restrictions, and planners must adjust loads (see AMCP 55-41)."

"Except for some B-747 models with ramps, vehicles cannot be driven onto the aircraft as doors on the fuselage sides are relatively small."


"Just a note of clarification - This story is about the 1-18 IN (VANGUARDS). It is a Mech Battalion in 1ID. It's not part of SETAF, not part of 173rd. Although it could be used in conjunction with the Paratroopers, its a bunch of 11Ms (with whom I had the pleasure of serving for 3 years). GEN Meigs is the USAREUR Commander, so he owns both SETAF and V Corps."


The Army is merging 11B and 11M into one MOS, maybe we can end this "leg" silliness get every grunt Airborne-qualified (if they can't overcome fear to jump, what makes them think they'll do better in combat against bullets?) and start parachute dropping these M113A3s for a forced-entry Mech-Infantry capability.