Skip to comments.U.S. sending tanks to hit harder at Taliban
Posted on 11/19/2010 4:32:04 AM PST by Pan_Yan
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.
The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country's southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance - and with more of a lethal punch - than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.
Despite an overall counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes the use of troops to protect Afghan civilians from insurgents, statistics released by the NATO military command in Kabul and interviews with several senior commanders indicate that U.S. troop operations over the past two months have been more intense and have had a harder edge than at any point since the initial 2001 drive to oust the Taliban government.
The pace of Special Operations missions to kill or capture Taliban leaders has more than tripled over the past three months. U.S. and NATO aircraft unleashed more bombs and missiles in October - 1,000 total - than in any single month since 2001. In the districts around the southern city of Kandahar, soldiers from the Army's 101st Airborne Division have demolished dozens of homes that were thought to be booby-trapped, and they have used scores of high-explosive line charges - a weapon that had been used only sparingly in the past - to blast through minefields.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Most of it really isn’t tank country - its hilly, mountainous, lots of broken terrain. There’s not much of a need for tanks. What’s really needed is more mobile artillery, more tactical close air support and (especially) more helicopters.
You raise several good points. I want to respond with depth but I am traveling. Be back later; promise.
APFSDS I understand (which is even better).
There is no DoD "clear-hold-build" money being spent in Yemen.
You are correct. We have some troops in Yemen, but only as trainers. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Not quite. Petraeus had a lot of help in "fathering" this baby from James Mattis who was the co-author of the final draft of the counterinsurgency manual.
“The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.”
This line from the posted article is what prompted me to comment in the first place. Bragging about something that dated casts doubts on the reliability of the entire piece. And I am just too lazy to also take issue with the “jet engine”.
And Blueflag, My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but I think the old APDS round from the rifled 105 didn’t spin in flight either as it was also fin stabilized.
I am in no way criticizing the M1. Our military fights as a combined arms team which needs both armor and aviation. Neither is a substitute for the unique capabilities of the other.
“Watch Obama cripple the effectiveness of the tank with more ridiculous ROE.”
Something along the lines of “only engage if the source of fire is another armored vehicle”.
Originally 105mm sabots were "spin stabilized". Later on, the M900 round used what was called, IIRC, an "obturator" which minimized the rotation imparted on the actual projectile by the 105mm's rifling, and in fact allowed the penetrator to be fin stabilized.
John Nagl not only served on the team to revise the manual and served as consultant to Petreaus, but also is/was the Rhodes Scholar of COIN and wrote the book "Eating Soup with a Knife"
Also, as pointed out at the link, Nagl became president of CNAS when Flournoy left there to become DoD undersecretary for policy under Gates. In fact, there were about 10 individuals at CNAS who took jobs in Obama's administration. Nagl does get to testify at numerous congressional committee hearings, and write articles published in major media outlets.
And it is possible that he could eventually get a job at DoD.
The only thing that Petraus has over Nagl is rank. General vs Lt. Colonel.
Tanks can only elevate those tubes so far. If they are caught in a steep walled canyon, they won't be able to engage the "gomers" up in the rocks.
The M1s munitions can destroy any dwelling or structure the commander is ordered to demolish.
Ummm, yeah. Not unless they are using a HEP/HESH round. Both the HEAT and sabot rounds are meant for punching holes in armor plate, not mud huts. The sabot will make a hole approximately 2" in diameter, while the HEAT round will cause cratering on the outer walls as the jet of super-heated gasses blast through. The HEP/HESH (High-Explosive Plastic/High Explosive Squash Head) will flatten prior to exploding, giving a greater contact area and a larger breach on a building.
I'm not saying that tanks are a bad idea, but our tankers need to stay in open terrain where they can operate the tank to their advantage, or at least have infantry support on the flanks in confined area's. A tankers worst enemy is a pi$$ed off grunt (or a gomer).
The Russians learned their lesson, the hard way.
I am on the road, so my reply will be brief. To your point,
1) if the commander requests the wrong round, or the tank wasn’t loaded=out with HEP/HEsh, then we’ll be spending a lot of money making small holes in mud buildings.
2) I’ll dig deeper later to check the topography around where these tank missions will be conducted. I haven’t read carefully enough to be sure, but I think they will be employed in the wider valley/poppy-growing region. M1Ax can elevate to only + 20 degrees, so steep/close inclines are an issue. They can point the tube high enough there. If not, the tank has no business being there, and it must have been ordered there by a civilian.
3) In some ways, this *might* be a better mission for the M2s. Dunno. But the Marines will fight with what they have.
From a foxnews article “The tanks will initially be used by Marines engaged in an intense firefight with Taliban cells in the country’s southwest province of Helmand, the newspaper said, giving American ground forces the power to target insurgents with a longer range and more lethal punch than from any other U.S. military vehicle.”
Lots of maneuvering room in the Helmand/Qurya area, and modest slopes in the area. Just FYI.
Go to google maps (satellite view)and the sw corner of Afghanistan is pretty flat. Also, it is the border with Iran, and Pakistan. Seems to me like they’ll be plugging up a hole, but I always lost at Risk. :)
Air support, UAV's are often iffy because of bad weather and constant sand storms.
We had to wait to bring armor in-country because the heavy lift transports need the longer runway just finished at FOB Dwyer.
Mobility and speed will still be a problem because of the lack of roads and hard tracks wide enough for armor. Route Red is OK but off-road is a big problem due to the sponginess of the top soil, we can't drive humvees off-track.
Thanks for the info. To say I don’t know anything about driving conditions in Afghanistan would be a gross understatement.
The Rheinmetall 120mm cannon is a chrome-lined smoothbore. It is the main gun on the M1A1 series.
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