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Mechanized Infantry

Discussion in 'Army & Security Forces' started by LondoBell, Apr 30, 2015.

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  1. LondoBell

    LondoBell New Member

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    What exactly is the difference between motorized infantry and mechanized infantry also, what sort of tactics are used by them?
     
  2. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Motorized infantry is essentially light infantry made mobile by at least trucks and in better cases by APCs.

    Mechanized Infantry uses IFVs or at least APCs which can keep up with a tank and is much nore geared towards mounted combat in conjunction with tanks.

    In short the vehicles in a motorized infantry unit serve as transports with limited self defense/fire support capabilities whereas the IFVs of mechanized units do fight while maneuvering and directly support their infantry with heavy fire support when dismounted. Mechanized units also ususally provide less boots on the ground.

    And all this theory gets muddied by nomenclature and equipment in the real world...;)
     
  3. bdique

    bdique Member

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    Yes and no. I'll start from a ground-up, 'Western' perspective. From the Mech Inf platoon commander's perspective, besides having the usual platoon of infantry under his command, he will also have a number of IFVs at his disposal. So, clearing a defended position doesn't merely mean flanking on foot. It could mean pummelling the position with whatever main gun the IFV has (often a rapid-firing cannon of sorts, but exceptions exist) while the dismounts flank. Of course, a lot of training is required to get the co-ordination right in terms of fighting with the IFV, as well as with other brigade assets i.e. MBTs, and so that's why Mech Inf battalions are often raised on their own.

    Regarding motorised infantry, well..as Waylander nicely puts it, things get muddied really quickly :) I can't speak for all nations, but most motorised infantry are trained to use their trucks, APCs, 8x8s or 6x6s to get in close to the enemy, but not necessarily close enough to engage in an assault. Get close, close enough to potentially encounter forward elements of the enemy, dismount, and fight like typical infantry while the vehicles linger behind. Often, the vehicle platforms are less well armed, functioning as the proverbial battle taxi, where the armaments are mostly for self-defense.

    Yet, increasingly I'm seeing infantry battalions being trained to fight organically with these battle taxis in a variety of combat scenarios i.e. Urban Ops. Section commanders may be taught how to co-ordinate their assault on an enemy strongpoint with the vehicle gunner, no different from them learning how to give fire orders to an MG team, for example.

    Are they organic to the vehicles? Are they not? I think you can see why Waylander made that point :)

    Which nation's army are you speaking of?
     
  4. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I think the closer coordination with and integration into the battle of APCs has it's roots in the asymetrical conflicts against low tech/low training enemies of the last years.

    Bringing an even halfway armoured APC with a HMG or AGL, probably in a RCWS, forward gives insurgents something to think about. They have a hard time to counter even these vehicles and the weapons on them add nicely to the firepower of the dismounts.

    It also brings additional ammo, water, etc. closer to the dismounts which may prove crucial in prolonged firefights. Add to that the ability to extract casualties swiftly and under armour to the rear and on can see the benefits of much closer integration of APCs into medium/motorized infantry units.

    Trying this against a competent and reasonably well equipped enemy may very well not be a healthy idea.

    And never forget that despite the focus on dismounts in many of the latest conflicts, leg infantry still seriously lacks punch. It's rather immobile, carries a light weapons load, not much ammunition and can't maneuver well in the face of enemy fire.

    Due to this normal light or medium infantry is beefed up with a pletora of supporting assets as they by themselves lack the offensive punch. They provide the boots on the ground for actually holding key points and navigating difficult terrain including structures in urban terrain.

    What gives them the ability to maneuver and what actually gets most of the kills are the big guns and supportive fires.
     
  5. LondoBell

    LondoBell New Member

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    So basically, motorized infantry act as your regular light infantry but ride "battle taxis" and Mechanized infantry just go in guns blazing Desert Storm style?
     
  6. Toptob

    Toptob New Member

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    I don't really think this is the place for questions like this. Maybe check wikipedia first next time. [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanized_infantry"]Mechanized infantry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
    But the way I always understood it is: motorized units are infantry that is moved around by motor vehicles, be it unarmored trucks and jeeps, APC's or IFV's. And mechanized infantry is a unit that moves and fights with its (armored)transports and has armor organic to the unit. I think somewhere in my head I decided that 1/4th armor and 3/4ths infantry is mechanized infantry and 1/4th infantry and 3/4ths is an armored division. At least I think that was how it was in WW2 (but I'm probably wrong).

    Cavalry these days is more of a name then a designation. Cavalry in the 'real' sense of the word is mostly ceremonial these days. They present in parades and celebrations. But nowadays horses have little real value in combat situations. Although there are some real cavalry units left, these have roles in policing rather than combat.

    So to answer your question; yes, no and maybe. It depends on how you look at it. First if you define cavalry as mounted (as in horse, or broader maybe camels or elephants), then there is no mech or aircavalry at all. But if you mean troops called cavalry in combat units then still no because these formations also contain light and motorized units. But maybe yes because most active combat formations that are called cavalry (mostly in the US army) are for the most part mechanized and/or airborne.

    BUT, the very informative responses do give rise to some questions. For one, Waylander you talk about the response against insurgent techniques in war these days. Could you shed light on the tactics mech and motor infantry would use in a modern war against an organised well equipped foe? And how do the experiences gained in counter insurgency impact on the operational techniques in such a conflict?

    And I do have an issue with your view on dismounted infantry. I think well trained, supplied and equipped infantry is still a very powerful presence on the battlefield. Granted on a plains, like the Fulda gap they'd be hard pressed to halt an armored force. But in urban, forest or mountainous terrain I see them having a real advantage against mounted and armored forces. Specialized infantry like alpine troops would be far more mobile than a tank in for example the Alps, the Tatras or the Himalayas. And presumably all infantry continuously develop new tactics. I do not disagree with you, but it does raise questions.
     
  7. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    In a war against something more akin to a peer enemy there won't be lots of fixed camps or firebases with the battle itself waging more mobile in the more open areas.

    The threat of enemy air and artillery is low in current COIN environments but an enemy with a indirect fire capability can ruin you day if you are lacking basic technics like dispersing and digging in for the lager. While moving closely together in order to defend the lager position against insurgents may be the right thing to do in a COIN environment it just presents a juicy target for enemy fire support assets.

    As I touched in my previous post infantry equipped with APCs won't be able to use their vehicles in the same way like they did in Afghanistan or Iraq. This means the APCs fall back into the more traditional role of battlefield taxis instead of direct support or they will fall prey to enemy AT assets.

    I stand by my comment that pure light infantry lacks the punh to seriously maneuver and advance in the face of a competent enemy even in restricted terrain. Remember that in restricted terrain the enemy usually sits in fairly good defensive positions. Light infantry without lots of supporting assets just lacks the firepower to overcome this with fire and maneuver.
     
  8. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd like to add, on the subject of cavalry, they are still used but not as riders on horses in combat. Horses are used as pack animals in certain mountain infantry units, and in some militaries those are designated as cavalry. I know for a fact that Russian and Chinese mountain units use small numbers of horses, in the Russian case specifically they're used to carry heavy weapons like Kord machineguns (Russian .50 cal) and 120mm mortars and ammo for them. But this has little to do with the traditional role for cavalry, as a maneuver element.
     
  9. bdique

    bdique Member

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    Just wanna add some of my thoughts on this...

    Toptob, no doubt that prepared infantry in the right places is going to give enemy armour a headache, but things never turn out to be straightforward in life. The Thunder Run of Baghdad 2003 for example simply showed how with all the right pieces in place, the prepared infantry in a supposedly challenging terrain (urban) simply got blown away.The flip side of the same coin is that if your armoured forces are well trained, they could themselves conduct defensive operations in those challenging terrain types you listed. Based on the exercises I've been on...that defense can grind an enemy armoured assault, with its supposed advantages of speed, armour and firepower to a halt very quickly. You are right that infantry tactics will change, yet so will those of mech inf/motorised inf too.

    Agree. In fact the biggest issue with light infantry is that expecting them to move on foot all over the battlefield, regardless of terrain type, then prepare defensive positions and expect to deal with an attack in a few hours time is going to stretch their endurance thin. Motorisation helps overcome the issue of battlefield movement/deployment/redeployent without excessively physically straining the dismounts who effectively are light infantry themselves too. The dismounted motorised infantry may not be able to depend on fire support from their vehicles, but that is alright if they are sufficiently rested and able to engage in fire-movement effectively.

    @Feanor,

    Really surprised, thanks for sharing! I guess there's just some terrain that is extremely challenging, yet still require the need for troops to secure those borders.
     
  10. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I want to emphasize that my comments regarding the lacking punch of light infantry without lots of support assets is mainly directed at offensive operations.

    Light infantry in restricted terrain sitting in well prepared positions is a pain to dislodge. But it's weakness also shows in defensive operations in less restricted terrain. They can dig in and may very well punish attacking formations out of their prepared positions but their lack of mobility makes it hard for them to reorientate or relocate in order to counter more mobile forces which are not directly attacking their front and their are also not able to trade space for pressure. They either win or get overrun in many situations.
     
  11. bdique

    bdique Member

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    Ah, yes. All the more I would agree that a purely infantry force does not allow for effective offensive operations. As you neatly put it, they lack mobility, and things only go downhill from there i.e. encountering obstacles.
     
  12. Toptob

    Toptob New Member

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    Is it even imaginable for a well organized modern military force to have infantry operating outside a combined arms structure against an equally well prepared enemy? I don't think so. But I still think that infantry be it motorized or mechanized has a place in this.

    Another question (getting more offtopic though); what constitutes light infantry? Is this motorized infantry, any infantry mounted in light or unarmored vehicles. Is it infantry without organic mounts. Or infantry that is expected to fight without their mounts like airborne. Or is it all non-elite infantry? With heavy infantry being marines, rangers, airborne, commando's and special forces?
     
  13. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Light infantry is usually without transports and could also be called leg infantry. Something like paratroopers jumped onto an objective.

    But one shouldn't focus too much on the means of transportation. One could ferr infantry with corps trucks to their destination (them being motorized for this) and from there on they fight as light infantry.

    The same applies for example to marines getting dropped by helicopters. After the insertion they are essentially light infantry for time to come. The same blokes sitting in an AMTRAC are motorized/mechanized infantry once they hit the beach.

    As for modern infantry fighting outside of combined arms operations. The lighter is better fever gripped many western forces and one just has to look how the situation in Afghanistan evolved.

    First it was mostly motorized infantry in APCs with some air assault elements sprinkled in. Fast air was the main contributor for fire support.

    Once the fighting began in earnest NATO nations pumped more and more Artillery, Helicopters, IFVs and tanks into the theater on order to beef up their mainly infantry focused forces. Motorized infantry was still the main pillar of operations there but one realized (again...) that operating against a determined enemy with mostly light leg infantry, some APCs and some fast movers overhead is not very effective.
     
  14. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Member

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    I believe Light Infantry retains a role in the modern battlefield whether in COIN or in P2P style conflicts. Deeper raids, defense of restricted terrain, and obviously MOUNT are all well suited to Light forces. This is assuming they'll have organic ATGMs etc. light forces, as previously mentioned, also rely on a combined arms approach with supporting FA and CAS.

    I'm pleased we've added more organic M3 Carl Gustavs to all Light IN units whereas before they only existing in the 75th. Extends lethality and range for a wide variety of uses.
    That said, The US Army has seen many of its traditional "light Infantry" units, ie 10th MTN, add motorized assets like the MRAP or even Stykers.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  15. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Sure light infantry forces retain their roles on the battlefield, especially when it comes to special terrain and/or insertion technics.

    But I am actually of the opinion that the bulk of required boots on the ground should be provided by medium/motorized infantry units with their own organic APCs and support vehicles.

    The Stryker brigades are somewhat of a role model to this as they combine protected mobility, lots of dismounts and support vehicles in a package which is well embedded into the networked force structure.

    I like the idea of having one common wheeled chassis for such a medium brigade which provides the basis for most combat and combat support roles.

    Retain some light formations for special roles and the heavy tracked brigades as the armoured fists.
     
  16. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Member

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    Agreed 100%. I believe the ACR we have in the EU is now a Styker unit. I think for Fulda etc a heavy Mech ACR would stand up far better
     
  17. FormerDirtDart

    FormerDirtDart Member

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    2nd Cavalry Regiment stationed in Vilsek, isn't an Armored Cavalry Regiment. And hasn't really been one since 1992, when it's colors were transferred to Ft. Lewis and reflagged the HMMWV based 199th IN BDE (L). Which was all that remained of the 9th IN DIV (MTR) test bed.