Index Home About Blog
X-Source: The Tankers' Forum
Subject: Re: Sargent school.....
From: Alon Harksberg
Date: 5/28/99 4:50:51 AM

First of all, what Lee suggested (a highly symmetrical defensive layout)
was generally accepted as most suitable solution for convoy scenarios
during the 60s and 70s (as in the 1860's and 1870's). It's an
anachronistic text book solution which more than anything else indicates
a narrow, unoriginal and highly predictable way of thinking (and a sure
recipe for disaster).

Lee's logic is a dead giveaway for a tanker's way of thinking - work in
pairs, don't break up the tank platoon into individual tanks.  Remember,
convoy warfare is not about charging up the ambush, counter attacking or
even inflicting casualties on the enemy - it's about bringing in the
undoubtedly much need supplies to its end user. It should be managed to
that end. Convoy warfare demands a entirely different way of thinking.

Parceling or packeting your prime firepower up front and down back only
isolates it from where the real shit will probably fly (mid center).
Alternatively, it enables the opposition to easily & quickly take out a
good portion (in this case one half) of your tanks by simply
concentrating its own firepower up on the forward prime firepower packet,
jamming up the entire convoy in the process. In the meantime, your other
prime firepower packet is stuck at the very end of the convoy and can
neither reach or support the other elements.

Prime firepower, especially tanks, should be IMMEDIATELLY brought to bear
on any attacker, even statically. Our objective is deter an attack from
ever taking place or breaking up an attack if it is indeed launched. Only
an even spread of prime firepower along the entire convoy will achieve
that and will also negate the enemy of the opportunity to take out or
isolate a good portion of your prime firepower in a single blow. It will
also prevent geographic conditions (like long winding mountain roads)
from totally isolating or separating your prime firepower packets, as a
single tank will always be able to respond. The psychological effect of
seeing a good tank & truck mix cannot be underestimated. It makes the
convoy appear much stronger than it really is and may be enough to
completely deter an attack.

This layout is correct no matter what the quality of the opposition is
(especially important since good intel is always hard to come by when
confronted with partisan / SF operations). For example, if these were
irregulars (militia, partisans, terrorists etc), then a good spread of
tanks along the entire avenue of the convoy will probably deter them from
attacking in the first place and will break up any enemy attack
immediately after it is launched (the important issue is to bring your
most serious firepower into action as soon as possible). Such opposition
tend to press an attack to the end, often disregarding its own casualties
and going for the most conspicuous targets (tanks), thereby greatly
precipitating its own total annihilation at the hands of superior

Even more so when the opposition are crack SF, which are probably well
lead, trained, equipped and motivated. These men have clear objectives
(destroy such and such, then retreat to fight another day) and only have
limited ammo available. They're not going to "rush" the convoy in the
name of Allah - they're looking to inflict specific surgical damage on
high value supplies. They cannot stay and exchange punches. A good long
firefight against a well organized enemy will usually be enough to deter
them or break up their carefully prepared plans. Such a firefight will
immediately commence if prime firepower is deployed along the entire
avenue of the convoy.

Now, for a more limited scenario, like the one confronting Eric. I agree
with much of what Simon suggested. Your logic Sir is top notch, as usual.
His thinking shows that he doesn't fall back to default text book
solutions. Rather, he toys with various alternatives, probably placing
himself in the shoes of his opposition. But, alas, not is well.

The LT in the BACK of the convoy!? The Commander at the very rear?  Heck
no! What confidence will that instill in a bunch of young and scared men?
Knowing that their platoon leader is riding at the very end of the
convoy? He's going to come to their help? Shit No! He's going to do a
sweet 180 degrees and high tail the fuck out of there! Remember that the
perceived reality is often more important and powerful than actual
reality, especially to young men. It must be taken into account.  The LT
goes right UP FRONT, from where he can both NAVIGATE the convoy and
COMMAND his men. From there he's constantly preparing alternative routes
(escape and retreat) in case of an attack and constantly keeping company
and battalion abreast of his situation and location. He's perfectly
positioned to immediately assume control of any evolving situation.

Put the PLT SGT in the MIDDLE of the convoy, where the real shit will
probably happen. The men there know they're the prime target for any
ambush attempt. They'll be scared shitless. If attacked, they'll react
slowly (if at all) and according to Simon's layout both of their
commanders are at the very ends of the convoy - a sure recipe for panic
and disaster. You need to put the PLT SGT, the most trustworthy and
experienced soldier, where the real shit is most likely going to happen.
That will install confidence and fighting spirit. Putting him, the prime
firepower & the reserve center row will also enable him to reach the
front or back the quickest if those are the areas end up being attacked.

Putting the reserve at the very end is the worst thing you could do - how
will they reach up front if the road ahead of them is blocked?  They're
isolated and the prime firepower will not be immediately brought to bear.


Alon Harksberg

Index Home About Blog