My advocacy of getting inside security forces' range envelope of indirect-fire and close-air support weapons is not a secret to regular readers of the blog. The ready availability to security force elements of crew-served weapons with long-range capabilities (the doctrinal maximum effective range of the M249 SAW for a point target is 800M. It is the same for a tripod-mounted M240B), indirect-fire weapons systems organic to light-infantry companies (the M224 60mm mortar has a maximum effective range of over two miles), and on-call close-air support, in the form of everything from AH-64 Apaches to OH-58 Kiowas and MH-6/AH-6 Little Birds (not to mention fixed-wing assets and UAV threats) makes the "I've got a rifle that I can shoot out to 500 meters" foolish as a stand-alone option. While the precision rifle/SDM certainly has a role to play in the irregular force equation, it is not the panacea that too many want to make it out to be. While I certainly believe, and advise, that each of us should focus on our local area threats first, if you think the locals won't resort to phoning Big G for help, you're retarded.
It has been noted that the "average" security forces "rifleman" can use his weapon with varying degrees of effectiveness out to a maximum of 200-300 meters. This makes it apparently a no-brainer equation that irregular force partisans want to stay outside that distance. In a close-quarters fight, after all, quantity ends up having a quality all its own (to borrow a phrase. And yes, I know where it originated). Assaulting a "light" infantry element, armed with up-armored Humvees and APCs armed with .50BMG M2s and MK19s, in 4-6 man elements, inside that envelope means that there will be a lot more rounds incoming than outgoing, regardless of how quickly you can dump your first magazine accurately, into known, suspected, or likely areas of enemy concealment. Unfortunately, moving outside that envelope puts you squarely in the range envelope of all of the above-cited weapons systems, any one of which can wreak more havoc and destruction than you want to deal with (even Level IV stand-alone plates are not rated to stop 20mm...).
The historically proven alternative is to simply get close; intimately close. If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you may remember that, from the start, I have advocated for a return to the skillset and stealth of the classic woodsman-scout. This paradigm applies whether your likely operational environment is rural alpine, dense swamp/jungle, or built-up urban areas. The ability to leverage that primitive stealth and fieldcraft, with the modern technology we have available today, can allow an irregular force fighter to get so far inside the enemy's security cordon and OODA loop, that they can never catch up. That of course, requires much more discipline, training, and physical stamina than most "militia men" can be bothered with, but it is possible.
The reality is, it is entirely possible for a small, unconventional unit to conduct successful raids on numerically superior forces, wreak havoc and despair amongst the conventional force enemy, and slip away in the resultant confusion. In order to do so however, irregular personnel and units will have to master difficult, exacting individual and collective tasks, from mastering the use of their personal weapons, camouflage and concealment, tactical movement in daylight and low-light/no-light conditions, and more.
Ultimately, the collective task must move from the doctrinal to the unconventional.
Critical Collective Task: Conduct a Night-Time Clandestine Infiltration
Conditions: Given an alert enemy force, with established security measures, including roving patrols, LP/OPs, and STANO assets; equipped with basic fighting load and personal weapons, and a mission to infiltrate the enemy position.
Standards: Infiltrate the enemy position, with no member of the patrol being detected, close enough to preclude or restrict the enemy's ability to engage the patrol with projectile weapons (due to fratricide concerns). Upon success of given operation (raid, HVT snatch, etc), exfiltrate enemy position, with no member of the patrol being killed, wounded, or captured by enemy forces.
Enabling Learning Objectives:
- All individual patrol members must have mastered the individual task of camouflage self and equipment.
- All individual patrol members must have mastered the individual task of move tactically in daylight and no-light conditions.
- All individual patrol members must have mastered the individual task of analyzing terrain for movement route selection.
- All individual patrol members must have mastered the individual task of move under direct fire.
- Patrol sub-units (buddy teams and/or fire teams) must have mastered the collective skills task of move by buddy team bounds.
- Patrol sub-units must have mastered the individual and collective skills task of move as part of a fire team.
- Patrol sub-units must have mastered the collective skills task of conduct a patrol.
- Upon receiving, or determining the necessity of, a mission to conduct a clandestine infiltration of an enemy position, the patrol element must conduct planning of the operation, including primary, secondary, and tertiary courses of action (at a minimum), infiltration routes, and actions on the objective.
- Patrol leaders should issue an Operations Order (modified as needed) to sub-units of the mission, to facilitate sub-unit planning and preparation.
- Sub-unit leaders should conduct pre-combat inspections of personnel and equipment to ensure serviceability, function, and presence of all mission-essential equipment.
- Patrol conducts a combat patrol to the Objective Rally Point (ORP). Patrol leader(s) conduct a leader's reconnaissance of the objective, to determine any necessary last-minute changes/modifications that may be necessary to the plan. They communicate said changes to sub-unit leaders and all patrol personnel.
- Patrol leader emplaces a support-by-fire element of precision riflemen (assuming other support weapons are unavailable) to overwatch the objective and the sub-units' infiltration routes, in order to provide a mechanism to allow for the sub-units to conduct a break-contact battle drill if necessary (They may also provide a suitable diversion for the assault elements during the exfiltration phase. Overwatch personnel must have adequate STANO assets to facilitate absolutely positive target identification of friendly force personnel on the objective! They must be well-trained riflemen who can make precision hits at intermediate-distance ranges, as necessary).
- Patrol divides into suitably small sub-units to conduct decentralized infiltration, to reduce chances of compromise. Sub-units conduct clandestine infiltration to the enemy's position, and conduct the mission. Upon completion of actions on the objective, sub-units exfiltrate under their own authority, and the patrol reconsolidates at the ORP.
- Patrol moves away from the objective, utilizing the principles of patrolling and sound tactical judgment, to avoid compromise from follow-on enemy forces.
Notes: At the risk of sounding like a wanna-be Rambo, who believes martial arts are some sort of panacea to firearms and violence, individual irregular force fighters will require a trained level of ability with close-quarters, silent weapons, ranging from clubs and nightsticks, to knives and axes, or bayonets. Suppressed firearms MAY provide some value in these operations, but do not overestimate their importance. In the event the patrol's sub-units is going to be compromised, during the infiltration, by a security patrol or an LP/OP, the need to prevent this will require swift, violent action. It will be absolutely necessary to prevent any gunfire from occurring, in order to prevent an early warning to the main body of enemy personnel within the installation.
Specific missions that may require clandestine infiltration methods may include a sabotage operation, assassination of key enemy personnel, the recovery of critical friendly force personnel under custody, or a simple harassment and interdiction mission, such as utilized by irregular force units historically (lobbing hand grenades, satchel charges, or improvised explosive/incendiary munitions into enemy positions has proven to have an overwhelmingly disconcerting effect on enemy morale, even if few or no casualties occur).
Try that collective task drill on for size.....