Technique 1200 turntable repair

UPDATED 25 June 2010

The U.S. Army did learn something from the non-linear, combination sub-national conflict and nation-state Vietnam war: EVERYONE should be in the minimum an M113 Gavin armored personnel carrier to have basic 7.62mm medium machine gun KE bullet and HE bomb protection and cross-country mobility since the enemy can attack in any direction at any time.


The video above shows what happens if you DON'T HAVE light mechanized capabilities and are a straight "leg" infantry that fights the enemy at a disadvantage M16 vs. AK47 (AKM)and RPG. You get YOUR ass kicked is what happens!

Other Army Light infantry units like the 25th "Tropic Lightnings" fully employed M113 Gavins and kicked the ENEMY'S ass without having their ego evaporate because they used a LIGHT tank (machine) to help them FURTHER their dismounted powers.

Imagine that.


Read Red Thunder, Tropic Lightning: The World of a Combat Division in Vietnam by Eric M. Bergerud (Paperback - Mar 1, 1994)

Let me set the scene; it is a stinking, non-descript rubber plantation in a place that no one was much interested in, the rain is pouring down as only Asian monsoonal rain can, 108 Australians are fighting for their lives against an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 NVA troops who are on their way to wipe out the whole Australian base at Nui Dat. It is Delta Company of 6 RAR and they are in "deep shit". They have already lost a section and more. Their ammo has run out once and only an emergency resupply from a RAAF chopper has allowed them to keep firing.

Supporting artillery is firing "continuous fire" (24 guns firing 3 rounds per gun per minute) and will drop a total of 2,639 rounds of 105mm and 155 rounds of 155mm (from the Yanks). There are already about 15% of the Australian unit KIA. More are wounded. Some are missing. All are desperate. The NVA/VC are massing for the last attack. The Australian Company Commander has already told his base "If you don't come for us in half an hour, don't bother coming at all". Then through the murk, the rain and the bullets . . .a dull roar, like a couple of bulldozers, no one knew what it was. Then it struck them. The tracks had arrived.

Out of the gloom, lights blazing, .50 cal machine guns going full bore, having already swum a flooded river, with another Company of 6RAR aboard the M113s of the RAAC came roaring in almost Western movie timing to break up the NVA/VC attack and relieve the situation. The NVA/VC withdrew leaving 245 bodies that they could not retrieve.

They call the place LONG TAN.

Sgt Buick and the remnant of 11 Platoon "jumped up, yelled and waved to identify our position, just like in the movies. I felt like one of those Yankees saved from the Indians" (from the book by Lex McAulay).


This may be our most important video--and its not even a video!

Its a slide show of the May 1992, Armed Forces Journal magazine which on page 70 shows a photo of an up-engined M113A3 Gavin BEATING an up-engined M2 Bradley in a paved ROAD RACE. Can't get any more favorable terrain than this. Since then, the Bradley has only got heavier (36 tons) with greater ground pressure and is even LESS mobile (barely over 35 mph on roads) than it was back then. The Caption reads:

M-113A3 APC Beats Bradley By Four Lengths...or More

The latest version of the Army's M-113 armored personnel carrier, which was first fielded in the early 1960s, proves it can still keep up with modern maneuver forces. An M-113A3 pulls away from a Bradley M-2A2 fighting vehicle as it crosses the finish line at an Army "drag race" held March 19th at FMC Corp. in San Jose, CA. FMC builds both vehicles. The M-113A3, which weighs about one-third as much as the 33-ton M-2A2, is equipped with a 275-horsepower Detroit Diesel6V53T turbocharged engine. The Bradley has a 600-hp Cummins V-903 turbocharged diesel engine.

THE LIE that "the Bradley is more mobile than the M113A3 Gavin" has been corrected forever. Its high time for the U.S. Army to relearn WHAT RIGHT LOOKS LIKE.

Those who spread such lies don't know what they are talking about and are damaging THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that needs CLOSED TERRAIN MOBILITY capabilities that only M113 Gavin light tracks can provide for our light infantry to have transport/fire support so we fight the enemy with superior overmatch--not at a disastrous "Blackhawk Down!" M16 vs. AK47 + AKM foot-slog. Heavier vehicle forces also need a CAVALRY in M113 Gavin variant light tank/APCs moving ahead to screen the ground for mobility suitability and make first contact with the enemy so we can DEVELOP THE SITUATION to our advantage--not just slam into them with the main body in a meeting engagement and have to fight for our lives; win, lose or draw in decisive engagement--as what befell the 3rd ID (M) whose wheeled Humvee scouts couldn't be sent ahead lest they get pinned-down and destroyed as the truck-borne marines were to the east (why they were 6 days AWOL to Baghdad allowing Saddam & loyalists to escape to start rebellion against us) in their epic, "Thunder Run" into Baghdad:

The laws of physics on planet earth don't lie or bend to greedy defense contractors like FMC/UDLP/BAe (see HBO black comedy "Pentagon Wars") who want only to supply America's Army with medium-weight Bradleys for OPEN TERRAIN heavy forces who have over the years after the AFJI piece was run covered-up the fact that their up-engined M113A3 or other type Gavins as LIGHT TRACKED TANKS/APCs @ 11 tons with 300 horsepower BEAT Bradleys that are 3x times heavier with only 600 hp--do the math--in MOBILITY in ALL TERRAINS. Up-engined, low-ground pressurte, M113 Gavins are what America's LIGHT forces need--not bloated, high-ground pressure wheeled Humvee/Stryker/MRAP trucks.

BAe can keep on selling improved Bradleys for America's HEAVY units to use for 2D OPEN TERRAIN maneuver AND (read that again--AND) upgrade M113 Gavins for our light forces to be Light Air-Mechanized for 3D maneuver over and through ALL terrains. We CAN "chew bubble gum & walk"--if we are PROFESSIONAL and not bureaucrats--in an ego pyramid where only "one" thing can be on top. Life is complicated; one-size does NOT fit all in war any more than it does in peace. Bureaucrats that want to homogenize America's Army into one medium-weight platform to make their bean-counting life easier are KILLING and MAIMING our Soldiers and harming our defense.

And yes, Virginia, the up-engined M113A3 Super Gavin is not only more mobile than Bradleys its BETTER PROTECTED because its fuel tanks are OUTSIDE and thick high hardness steel or ceramic tiles and RPG pre-det caging can be added to its 1.75" THICK HULL THAT IS ALREADY THICKER THAN THE 1" Bradley's in the first place. More power-to-weight ratio in the Gavin also means more passive armor like described and ACTIVE armor like the IMI IronFist that defeats heavy tank main gun rounds as well as anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and RPGs.

You can't do this in a wheeled Stryker truck: Air/Ground Cavalry M113 Gavins in the jungles of Vietnam

The light infantry combat vehicle that can go anywhere a lightfighter can walk--to include breaking brush in closed terrain after 3D aircraft insertions---is still the TRACKED M113 Gavin, the "Green Dragon" feared by the VC/NVA and enemies today that can spit out firepower in all directions behind can't do this in a Stryker or any other wheeled truck. We also have the armor to go on the outside of Gavins to make them RPG and landmine resistant as well as stabilized, shoot-on-the-move autocannons to smother all enemies with explosive shell fire. Band tracks and hybrid-electric drive can make extended hull MTVL, regular size or reduced size "Mini-Gavins" that fit into CH-47 Chinook helicopters stealthy and go 60 mph on smooth terrain...

M113A3: greatest AFV in the world!


First video shows the excellent, speedy cross-country mobility of M113 Gavin light tracked AFV and how it can plow through water and swim. ASP-30mm autocannon HEI round explosive effects also shown.

One of the benefits of being gas-operated instead of electrically fired like the M230 version on the AH-64 Apache is ASP-30mm can be removed from the air/sea/ground vehicle and fired from a ground mount to empower highly capable light infantry:

See Swiss Army M113 Gavins firing 120mm mortars video clip! Warning: Don't try this in a Stryker truck!

Why can't Bradleys keep up with A3 Gavins?: "M-113A3 APC beats Bradley by four lengths....or more"

In the May 1992 issue of Armed Forces Journal International there is a photo of a Gavin beating a Bradley in a race and the following caption:

"The latest version of the Army's M-113 armored personnel carrier, which was first fielded in the early 1960s, proves it can still keep up with modern maneuver forces. An M-113A3 pulls away from a Bradley M-2A2 fighting vehicle as it crosses the finish line at an Army 'drag race' held March 19th at FMC Corp. in San Jose, Ca. The M-113A3, which weighs about one-third as much as the 33-ton M-2A2, is equipped with a 275 horsepower Detroit Diesel 6V53T turbocharged engine. The Bradley has a 600-hp Cummins V-903 turbocharged diesel engine...."

A3 Gavins have 1/2 the power of a Bradley but are 1/3 their weight = HIGHER POWER-TO-WEIGHT RATIO = greater speed. We already know that Gavins can FLY by C-130s, CH-47s, and swim across lakes, rivers and even in the ocean with waterjets for 3D maneuver while Bradleys and Strykers can't. Bradleys are useful in the 2D maneuver team with heavy M1 Abrams tanks in open terrain fights, but the roadbound but thinly armored Stryker trucks rolling on air-filled rubber tires that burn are worthless and dangerous as combat vehicles.


Meet the M113A3+ Super Gavin in Iraq! Far Better Protected and Mobile than Stryker trucks!

(AP) U.S. Soldiers secure the street following a bombing outside a Baghdad recruitment center on Wednesday. The suicide bomber killed at least 6 and wounded 24 others outside the main gate to the center. The attack came 10 days after another suicide bomber killed at least 21 would-be recruits waiting at the gate.

RPG pre-det bird cage all around but yet not so wide so Super Gavin can still roll-on/off USAF aircraft for 3D maneuver warfare capabilities, you can't do this in a Stryker truck!

High Hard Steel belts on sides, front, rear to increase roadside bomb and bullet protection to beyond 14.5mm HMG protection

Underbelly armor to defeat land mines

Extra spall liner inside

TAGS see-thru gunshields to protect and see enemy first to shoot & kill him

Ability to stow troop gear, sandbags on outside beneath hull and bird cage to increase ballistic protection levels

Rolls on tracks that are cross-country mobile and do not puncture and burn like Stryker truck tires

Notice that more Soldiers have died in 300 Strykers in only a few months of Iraq duty with all kinds of armor slapped onto them at the cost of millions of dollars than the few who have died in over 1,700 "vanilla" applique' armor-neglected M113 Gavins already in combat in Iraq for over 2 years!. Now with the situation desperate and the Army having wasted $BILLIONS and years of preparation time on inadequate Strykers and Humvees, the American Soldier turns to the greatest armored fighting vehicle of all time, ever--the M113 Gavin to save the day and bring him and his buddies home alive to be living not dead heroes. See the first pictures of the "Super Gavin" above!

We still have a long, long way to go to fully adapt the U.S. Army to the non-linear battlefield..our light units need M113 Gavins starting with Delta Weapons companies and supply & transportation units with XM1108 cargo carrying variants...we still have thousands of M113 Gavins in storage that need to be put into service....but it was at this moment that the tide finally turned against the wheeled madness threatening to destroy the U.S. Army and our Soldiers... American Iraq War Casualties

Army armors 700 Iraq-bound troop carriers

January 6, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan 05, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The U.S. Army is sending more than 700 newly reinforced armored personnel carriers to Iraq to boost troop protection.

It will spend million adding armor to 734 M-113/A3s and M-577s personnel carriers, making them more protected than the several thousand "soft-skinned" Humvees in use in Iraq, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., hailed the move Wednesday. He had sent a letter to the Pentagon in December asking that the old vehicles be pressed into service.

The level of armor on Army and marine vehicles has been a contentious issue since October 2003 but took center stage in December when a reserve Soldier challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about it in Kuwait.

The military says soft-sided Humvees are generally only used on military bases. However, trucks that do not carry additional armor routinely travel on Iraq's roads and are frequently targeted by roadside bombs.

United Press International

Army to upgrade armor on older personnel carriers


Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Army, beset with complaints that its troops are going into combat in inadequately armored Humvees, will send an older and less used class of armored personnel carriers to Iraq after spending million to add armor to them.

These vehicles, both veteran warhorses, are the M113/A3 armored personnel carrier and the M577 command post carrier. Both will be tougher and safer than newly armored Humvees.

Army officials who pushed hard over the last two years for getting the M113 into duty in Iraq said it was more useful, cheaper and easier to transport than the Army's new wheeled Stryker armored vehicle, which also is in use in Iraq.

The Army and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld found themselves at the center of a firestorm last month over the pace of adding armor to the Humvee, a small transport vehicle that's been pressed into service in Iraq as a combat vehicle. Critics have charged that even with armor the Humvee is too easily destroyed by rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.

An Army representative, who didn't want to be identified, said Monday that million was being spent to add armor to 734 M113/A3s and M577s.

For the M113s, that includes hardened steel side armor, a "slat armor" cage that bolts to the side armor and protects against RPGs, anti-mine armor on the bottom and a new transparent, bulletproof gun shield on the top that vastly improves gunners' vision.

The M577, nicknamed the "high-top shoe" for its tall, ungainly silhouette, will get only slat armor and anti-mine armor. Its high sides can't take the steel armor without making the vehicle unstable and even more liable to roll over.

The slat-type armor essentially is a metal cage designed to detonate RPGs before they breach the steel armor and the light aluminum wall. Similar slat armor has been added to the Stryker vehicle. The armor kits will be produced in the United States, the Army representative said, and installed in Kuwait.

The representative said the M113 upgrade was requested by Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, the ground commander in Iraq, and approved by Gen. George Casey, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq.

The M113 typically carries a driver, a commander and 11 infantry Soldiers. It can be fitted with a .50-caliber machine gun or a MK19 40mm grenade launcher. The M113/A3 version, introduced in 1987, has a bigger turbo-charged diesel engine, an improved transmission, steering and braking package, and inside liners to suppress spall, the superheated molten metal produced by RPG and tank-round hits. It has a range of 300 miles and a road speed of more than 40 mph. It also can swim.

More than 80,000 M113s in 28 configurations have been manufactured since they were introduced in 1960, and they still do yeoman duty in many of the world's armies.

At around 13 tons, the M113 is much easier to transport than the behemoth M1A2 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle or even the wheeled Stryker.

The Army has spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying armored Humvees at 0,000 each and buying and making special tempered-steel and bulletproof-glass kits to add armor protection to the thin-skinned variety. The demand for armor on the Humvees grew as insurgents began pouring RPGs onto American patrols and convoys, and detonating deadly homemade bombs in the late summer of 2003.

The current demand in Iraq is for more than 22,000 armor-protected Humvees, a goal the Army says it will meet sometime between now and March. Its prime focus has turned now to armoring the five models of trucks that travel Iraq's dangerous roads to supply American forces.

Rumsfeld recently told a Tennessee National Guard Soldier, who asked why his outfit had to scavenge dumps in Kuwait for scraps of armor for their Humvees, that "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might like to have."

One serving officer, who asked not to be identified, said Rumsfeld "didn't even let us go to war with the Army we had; he made us leave half our armored vehicles at home in pursuit of lighter, faster and cheaper."

Central America: M113 Gavins to the rescue yet again: versus jungle drug runner airstrips

1. Notice that drug runners can employ fixed-wing airplanes to "resupply" themselves landing them in airstrips cut from the jungle---so can we if we had our own fixed-wing STOL grasshoppers. We are just LAZY and don't want to do what it takes to win in the U.S. military.

2. Note that YET AGAIN its the M113 Gavin that is mechanically durable and reliable that is PRESENT FOR DUTY kicking ass and using its LIGHT tracked mobility to get there and beat the bad guys (where's the LAV/Stryker wheeled trucks?). The wheeled trucks are not there because like the drug runner's trucks they need to find roads/trails and the M113 Gavins can go wherever they need to go to get the drug runner's bases.

3. Also note the irony that Army Chief of Staff Schoomaker wants the Army in the image of his days as an advisor to the El Salvador Army and his light infantry narcissist-from-a-wheeled-truck mentality isn't even right for Central America--M113 Gavin light tracks are needed to fight well and break brush for unpredictable, cross-country mobility.

Washington Times
April 4, 2006
Pg. 17

Clandestine Airstrips Emerge As Front In Drug War

By Juan Carlos Llorca, Associated Press

EL SACRIFICIO, Guatemala -- Huddled together aboard two vintage tanks, 40 Soldiers plow through dense jungle on a four-hour journey to a little-known battlefield of the drug war. Their mission, here in Guatemala's wild north: Blow up dozens of clandestine airstrips used by planes laden with Colombian cocaine.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that 70 percent of the cocaine that ends up in the United States passes through Central America.

Guatemala's sparsely inhabited Peten region is the last stop before the drugs cross into Mexico on their way north. It is here that Guatemalan drug-trafficking organizations serve as a link between their Mexican and Colombian counterparts, unloading and splitting up tons of cocaine into smaller shipments that can be transported more easily by land.

It is an efficient operation, say army officials in Guatemala's Interinstitutional Northern Task Force:

A crew of 20 to 30 traffickers marks each airstrip with lights.

The pilot is whisked out of the plane, along with any revealing flight documents, is ferried away toward Guatemala City, and flies back to Colombia on false papers.

Meanwhile, the cocaine is loaded onto four-wheel-drive trucks that race to the nearest usable road, where other trucks wait to drive the load across the Mexican border, a half-hour away.

It is too risky to fly the plane back, so it is set on fire to destroy evidence -- a small price to pay against the millions of dollars made with each shipment.

18 secret airstrips

The entire operation takes a half-hour at most, officials say.

Soldiers based at Campo Xan, 18 miles south of the Mexican border, have discovered at least 45 abandoned airplanes scattered over 18 clandestine airstrips.

"There is one airstrip that has 31 burned-out airplanes," said Col. Mark Wilkins, the senior U.S. military official based in Guatemala. "We thought the situation was bad, but statistics like that make us reflect on just how well-established the drug traffickers are in Peten."

Peten has been insufficiently policed since the army was trimmed by two-thirds after the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996. Moreover, Interior Minister Carlos Vielman acknowledges that most government institutions are infiltrated by organized crime.

The drug-fighting police have been at the center of scandals ranging from the theft of a ton of cocaine from its warehouse in 2003 to the arrest five months ago of its chief on drug-trafficking charges.

But the onslaught against the airstrips appears to be working. Last year, U.S. officials told Guatemala their radar had detected 18 clandestine flights landing in the Peten area. But for the past three months, no flight has been spotted, the Guatemalan army said.

Runways cratered

The Guatemalan government took the initiative to go back into the region, and now is "working closely with the United States," said Deputy Interior Minister Julio Godoy.

The army sends 40 to 80 Soldiers from Campo Xan to an airstrip that is to be seeded with explosives, making craters to impede landings. But the military has to contend with antiquated equipment -- the tanks are M-113s from the mid-1970s -- as well as farmers who seem in some cases to be allied with the drug traffickers.

Thousands of farmers have established 37 squatter communities in a nature reserve near the Mexican border and have blazed a 25-mile trail for drug shipments as well as illegal aliens, officials say.

Mr. Vielman said the traffickers have enlisted the land invaders "as a buffer to maintain the areas clear."

In exchange, the traffickers provide the community with electric generators and cars to transport them to the nearest health clinic, said the task force leader in charge of eliminating the airstrips, who identified himself only as Col. Rodrigo. Fearing repercussions, task-force officers use aliases.

In the squatter village of El Sacrificio, (The Sacrifice), community members seem eager to talk about the many migrants who pass through the area, but they are mute on the subject of drug traffickers.

Mr. Vielman said the authorities worry that Guatemala will go from being a transit country for drugs to being another place where coca is grown.

"We are at a historical breaking point like that which Colombia experienced from 1985 to 1990," Mr. Vielman said. "... We have to prevent it."


We have had M113 Gavin gunshield kits for decades; here's a pic of the side ACAV gunshields TANKNET member Mike Sparks fortunately obtained from Doug Kibbey before he started to whine that General Gavin--a real armored vehicle development hero---was rightfully getting more attention than him and his lower-ranking memory-lanesters!

Memory Lane Nostalgia Club

Before becoming a self-absorbed nostalgia-monger, Kibbey was a crewman on the problem-prone, eventually vindicated then sadly and wrongly retired M551 Sheridan light tank whose demise his weak ego depended on for self-importance. Fortunately for those of us in the land of the living who need present-day answers, the reliable and easy-to-maintain M113 Gavin keeps the light tank concept alive today as a defacto machine gun "female" tank with gunshields and could be a "male" tank with a large gun turret like the BMD-3/4 has or larger caliber armaments.

SFC Smith died because the Army did not supply a GUNSHIELD to the top of his M113 Gavin tracked armored fighting vehicle (TAFV) despite us knowing from the 1963 Vietnam Battle of Ap Bac that they are needed and then they have been available for years! After Vietnam, the Army went back to non-warfighting mode as it will after Iraq is done. The 3rd ID is going back to Iraq and we had to fight to get them their shields since the current Army leadership would rather waste billions on handfuls of Stryker trucks deathtraps than on war-winning TAFVs.

Local Man To Receive Medal Of Honor

TAMPA - Raised in Tampa's Palma Ceia neighborhood, Paul Ray Smith found his home in the Army. A demanding, driven platoon leader, he worked his troops hard and brooked no excuses.

Smith was killed by enemy fire in Iraq nearly two years ago. His tenacity, passion and bravery have earned him the nation's highest award for courage in combat, the Medal of Honor.

Smith's family was informed of the decision Tuesday by an Army officer close to the process. The medal is to be presented to Smith's widow, Birgit, by President Bush at a ceremony in Washington. No date has been set.

Birgit Smith said she was asked by Pentagon officials late Tuesday not to discuss the award until it is announced formally. That was expected to happen within days.

"Obviously it's a great honor for him," close friend Greg Harris said Wednesday. "I'm very happy for his family that he'll receive the medal."

Smith, a sergeant first class, joins an exclusive group. Millions of Americans have served in combat since the Civil War, but the medal has been awarded just 3,459 times after being created in 1862, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

There are 129 living recipients, including retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell of St. Pete Beach.

"It's for an act above and beyond the call of duty." said Littrell, a Vietnam veteran. "If there's anyone who deserves the Medal of Honor, it's Paul Smith."

Smith was killed April 4, 2003, when his unit was attacked by more than 100 Iraqi troops east of Baghdad International Airport.

Serving with a team of about two dozen combat engineers, he jumped on an armored vehicle and sprayed the Iraqis with a .50-caliber machine gun. According to Soldiers who were in the battle, Smith fired for nearly 10 minutes, squeezing off as many as 500 rounds.

Behind the machine gun, he could see the enemy forces. But they could see him as well.

Smith, 33, was hit in the neck by a single gunshot. He died less than an hour later.

Smith's actions allowed injured Soldiers to be evacuated and others to escape the enemy fire, according to the Army's account of the battle.

Before Iraq, the last combat action in which the Medal of Honor was awarded was Somalia in October 1993. The medals were awarded posthumously in May 1994 to Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart, members of the Army's secret Delta Force who died protecting the crew of a downed Black Hawk helicopter.

A "Straight-Up" Guy

Smith was born in September 1969 in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Tampa. Harris, 32, met him at south Tampa's Corona Playground more than 20 years ago. They spent their time playing football, riding bikes and listening to Top 40 music on Q105.

"He was a straight-up, honest guy," said Harris, who doesn't recall Smith ever getting into trouble.

Smith was a pack rat, collecting marbles, screws, and other odds and ends. As an adult, he steered toward anything with bald eagles or Marilyn Monroe on it. He was a curious youngster, too. He would take a radio apart and then put it back together. There would be parts left over, but the radio would work.

After graduating from Tampa Bay Technical High School in 1989, Smith enlisted in the Army. Harris drove him to boot camp. After that, Harris did not see him more than once or twice a year when he would come home on leave.

The reunions weren't all fun and games, however. During one, Smith spent three of his four days off putting cabinets in a new glass and mirror shop that Harris and his father had opened on Busch Boulevard.

Harris last saw Smith in November 2002 when their families went for a day trip to Savannah, Ga. Smith said he likely would go to Iraq if there was a war, and that he would be on the front lines.

Harris learned of his friend's death when he got a call from Smith's older brother, Tony.

"Paul won't be coming home," Tony said.

"You mean anytime soon?" Harris asked.

"No, I mean not at all," Tony replied.

Life-Altering Experience

Harris said he was not surprised when he learned of Smith's heroism.

"I knew he would do whatever he needed to do to get his guys home," Harris said.

Lisa DeVane, Smith's sister, said Army life suited her brother. To him, issues were framed in black or white, right or wrong. There were no shaded areas.

Smith served during the first Persian Gulf War, and it was a life-altering experience,

DeVane said in an e-mail in June.

"I think it stripped him of any innocence he had left of boyhood, and he became a man of driven purpose," she said.

As he moved up the ranks, Smith drilled his troops incessantly on the need to be prepared, to be ready for any situation and to watch each other's backs.

Smith did not talk in detail about his first combat experience, but DeVane recalled one story he told her.

As the war began, thousands of Iraqi civilians began fleeing the country and were put up in tents. One of the refugees was a young mother who clutched her baby tight. After a few days, Smith realized the child was dead, and the woman could not bear to let it go.

"It broke his heart," DeVane said.

The fanfare surrounding the Medal of Honor is ironic. Smith, a modest man, would have had none of it.

"If there hadn't been reporters in the field that day, we probably wouldn't have known his story,'' Harris said. ``He would have considered it another day at work."


There are 1, 775 Gavins in combat in Iraq now. Time is of the essence. The Army over the years has refused to attach the spaced armor they are supposed to have. We do not have to wait any longer! There are 1, 600 old M2A0 Bradley fighting vehicles (BFVs) here in the U.S. that have thin laminate armor skirts that are of no use to them since these beat up and rotting BFVs need to be completely refurbished and fitted with thicker skirts to hold explosive reactive armor (ERA) tiles since the skirts are bolted directly to the BFV hull without separation to pre-detonate RPGs. These old BFV skirts sitting at Red River Arsenal and on decaying BFVs in other locations can be cut and fitted to Gavins for only the cost of installation. These "A0" kits can be sent forward to Iraq for Soldiers to attach to their Gavins themselves. The A0 armor kits can remain in Iraq when units rotate out to help the incoming units prevail in combat.

1. To get A0 armor kits for your Gavins, have your unit send up an Operational Needs Statement (ONS) through your chain-of-command to get the BFV skirts sret aside.

2. Contact UDLP, maker of the mighty M113 Gavin and alert them of your combat need:

UDLP Larry Clark (703) 312-6127

The A0 kit also includes extra armor plate for the front glacis of the Gavin!

Note the separation for the skirt to act as a "strike face" for incoming enemy fires. Most M113 Gavins come with mounting provision bolt attachment holes or they can be added easily.

Notice how the BFV skirt is cut by high-pressure water cutters to fit the compact M113 Gavin.

Notice the extra front armor plate attached to the Gavin's front.

Replace the hopeless Humvee, Pentagon chiefs are urged

By David Rennie in Washington
(Filed: 28/04/2004)

Armoured cars being sent to Iraq are not up to the job, according to a senior United States army general, prompting calls for Pentagon chiefs to swallow their pride and reactivate thousands of mothballed Vietnam-era armoured personnel carriers.

With improvised bombs, rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades taking an ever deadlier toll on coalition forces, the Pentagon is spending Ј225 million to replace thin-skinned versions of the Humvee, the US military's ubiquitous jeep-like transport, with an "up-armoured" model, as fast as they can be churned off the production line.

Humvees are proving easy prey on the streets of Iraq

Commanders have shuddered as troops attached home-made armour plating and even sandbags to ordinary Humvees, whose thin skin, canvas doors and shoulder height windows have made them highly vulnerable to attack.

The new, armour-plated Humvees have been touted by Pentagon chiefs as the best solution to complaints from the field about the standard version of the vehicle.

But Gen Larry Ellis, the commanding general of US army forces, told his superiors that even the armoured Humvee is proving ineffective.

In a memo leaked to CNN television, he wrote: "Commanders in the field are reporting to me that the up-armoured Humvee is not providing the solution the army hoped to achieve."

Reports from the field say that even with armour plating, the Humvee's rubber tyres can be burnt out by a Molotov cocktail, while at two tons, it is light enough to be turned over by a mob.

Gen Ellis said it was "imperative" that the Pentagon instead accelerate production of the newest armoured personnel carrier, the Stryker, which weighs 19 tons and moves at high speed on eight rubber tyres.

But the Stryker has many influential critics who say it is too big to be flown easily on the military's C-130 transport aircraft, and too cumbersome to manoeuvre in narrow streets. Instead, they want the Pentagon to turn back the clock and re-deploy thousands of Vietnam-era M-113 "Gavin" armoured personnel carriers, which are still used by support and engineering units, and are held in huge numbers by reserve units.

Gary Motsek, the deputy director of support operations for US army materiel command, said: "I have roughly 700 113-series vehicles sitting pre-positioned in Kuwait, though some are in need of repairs. I have them available right now, if they want them."

General David Grange calls for decisive action to reverse situation in Iraq: M113 Gavins to the rescue!

DOBBS: The U.S. Army is sending hundreds of armored Humvees to Iraq to protect troops from attacks by insurgents. But tonight, there are new fears that the armor on those reinforced Humvees is still inadequate to provide protection for our Soldiers.

Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has the report.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With U.S. troops still dying in deadly roadside attacks, the Pentagon is spending 0 million racing to replace the Army's basic thin- skinned Humvees with reinforced up-armored versions. But the better armor is still not providing adequate protection, writes a four-star general in a memo obtained by CNN.

"Commanders in the field are reporting to me that the up-armored Humvee is not providing the solution the Army hoped to achieve," writes General Larry Ellis, commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command, in a March 30 memo to the Army chief of staff.

Critics say, even with better armor, the Humvee's shoulder-level doors make it too easy to lob a grenade inside. Its four rubber tires burn too readily. At two tons, it is light enough to be overturned by a mob.

General Ellis wants to shift Army funds to build twice as many of the Army's newest combat vehicle, the Stryker, which has eight wheels, weighs 19 tons and when equipped with a special cage can withstand an RPG attack. "It is imperative that the Army accelerate the production of Stryker vehicles to support current operations," Ellis says.

But critics say the Army is overlooking an even cheaper, faster solution than the .3 million Stryker, the thousands of Vietnam era M-113 Gavin personnel carriers the Army has in storage which can be upgraded with new armor for less than 0,000 apiece. Neither the Stryker nor the Gavin offer 100 percent protection. Some U.S. troops have been killed in the top-of-the-line M1-A1 Abrams tank. But the more armor, the better chance of survival.


MCINTYRE: In his memo, General Ellis pleads for quick action, lamenting that, while the U.S. is at war, some in the Army seem to be in a peacetime posture. He writes: "If our actions impede the ability to train, equip or organize our Soldiers for combat, then we fail the Soldier and the nation" -- Lou.

DOBBS: And General Ellis' remarks and note come a year after that war began in Iraq. What is -- what is taking so long for the command structure of the U.S. Army, the U.S. military, to provide the equipment that our men and women need in Iraq?

MCINTYRE: Well, I think the short answer is that they misestimated the threat that they would be facing at this point. They have been trying to adapt as time went on. They have been rushing the armored Humvees into theater, but now they are realizing they don't provide enough protection either. What General Ellis wants to do is quick action to get the authority to shift some funds around and ramp up production of the Strykers, so you can get more of those into the combat theater.

But, as I said, some of the critics say they should look to some of the vehicles they already have in storage. They think they can get them there even faster. I think General Ellis is reflecting some of the frustration that the Army feels it can't act fast enough to get enough protection to its troops.

DOBBS: General Ellis, a four-star general. Who put him in charge of looking into this? What is, if you will, his portfolio?

MCINTYRE: Well, he is commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command. So his main job is training and equipping. And, of course, he's writing this memo to the Army chief of staff, who is the main person in charge of training and equipping the Army, General Schoomaker. So the right people are focused on the problem. The question is how soon will they have the solution?

DOBBS: Well, for the sake of our men and women in uniform in Iraq, let's hope very quickly.

Jamie, thank you very much -- Jamie McIntyre, our senior Pentagon correspondent.

The military believes about 2,000 insurgents and foreign fighters are now holed up in Fallujah. The marines are hoping those insurgents will surrender their heavy weapons. But the troops are preparing to assault the city if the insurgents do not disarm.

I'm joined now by our CNN military analyst, General David Grange.

General, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: I have to ask you, first, what is your reaction to Jamie McIntyre's report and the statement by General Ellis that, point blank, our command structure seems in some respects to be in a peacetime posture, while our men and women in uniform are in war in Iraq?

GRANGE: Well, Lou, I know the leadership of the Army and I don't think they are in a peacetime mind-set.

However, I do agree totally that armored vehicles need to be sent to Iraq immediately to solve some of these problems with the Humvees. First of all, the -- any armored vehicle can take a certain kind of hit and be destroyed or incapacitated. However, Humvees are not the answer. It's too light-skinned, even the up-armored, for some of these actions, whether it be reply or combat missions that the troops have.

The interim solution is to take the inventory that was just shown on the broadcast of the old '113s, armor those, and use those immediately in Iraq to protect the troops.

DOBBS: General Grange, you are talking about what was popularly known as the APC, the armored personnel carrier, thousands of them, Jamie McIntyre reported, in storage and ready to be rearmored if necessary.

Under current armor, could the APC still be serviceable, that is protect our troops in Iraq?

GRANGE: There's no 100 percent protection, but it would provide much more protection than a Humvee and they are readily available and can be up-armored quickly. The Stryker is going to take too long to produce that many. So I'd get something out there now during this very intense period in Iraq.

DOBBS: General, the question has to be asked, this is the 21st century. The U.S. military is supposed to be the most advanced and focused and technologically advantaged force in the world. Yet what appears to be at least at first blush when we have men and women without sufficient armored vests, when they don't have armored vehicles, even the old APC, it does raise a question, what in the world has gone on with our command structure? Because we've got men and women dying there.

GRANGE: Well, that's true. And it's -- when you are a commander on the ground, it's very frustrating when you don't get the things that you think, at least you think that you need. We relearn lessons from every war.


DOBBS: General, excuse me. Let me be clear in my question, if I was not. I'm not worried about the commander at the company level or the battalion level. I'm talking about the command structure of the United States military, the Pentagon.

GRANGE: Yes, the upgraded vehicles need to be sent to Iraq immediately. They should have already been there. The Humvee is not the answer. I think there was the -- the assessment that the transition after the maneuver warfare to the stability and support operations were not be as violent as it's become was off-base a little bit. But it can be fixed now. Let's do something now and at least provide the needed protection and maneuverability that can be afforded now with the assets that we have. It's still not too late to do something.

DOBBS: Twenty-two -- 2,500 Soldiers, rather, now around Najaf, the U.S. marines surrounding Fallujah. Negotiations continue, which are being honored in the breech here. What is your -- your assessment as to the risk and the necessity of entering in particular Fallujah?

GRANGE: Fallujah, I have a problem with the cease-fire. There are some people that generally want it in Fallujah, some of the civilian leaders. But the hard-core insurgents are going to continue when they want to attack coalition forces, unless they are disarmed.

The city has to be continue to be isolated. You have to separate as many of the civilians from the insurgents as possible. You have to control key terrain and the services provided to the city itself. And you have to take down enemy strongholds as you find them. It's the only way to ensure lasting peace in this particular city. I believe there's a lot of them, insurgents, in there and that's one reason they want to negotiate.

DOBBS: Do you think we should not be negotiating? Mark Kimmitt, General Mark Kimmitt, said capture or kill Muqtada al-Sadr. And the response so far has been, negotiate.

GRANGE: Well, in Fallujah, that out to be taken care of right now. I think there's some time for Sadr. Even though he's maintaining weapons, he's building up his supplies for a fight, I think that that can be worked out, I really do, with some senior Shiite clerics. But, in Fallujah, that's the immediate problem. That has to be taken care of. I think it's OK to have a cease-fire to give it a chance.

The coalition should give it a chance. But I would not test it too much with those marines. In other words, if it looks like it's not working, then be on with it and get on with it and take care of the insurgents in that town once and for all.

DOBBS: General David Grange on point, thank you.

The airdroppable light tracked armored fighting vehicle is the creation of legendary Airborne General James M. Gavin, who proposed it in his visionary book, Airborne Warfare in 1947. He wrote:

"Using a 150-foot canopy singly, or in combination with a 90-foot canopy, it is practicable to drop an artillery piece and its prime mover. Some visionary individuals have even suggested that personnel carriers be dropped in this manner. The idea has merit...

....Organizations created to fight the last war better are not going to win the next. Nor is building an airplane around the ground weapons that won the last war an assurance that we will win the next. Keeping foremost in our minds the functional purposes of our means of ground combat, these means must be developed and produced so that they can be delivered to the battlefield in sufficient quantity to gain the decision. ..not only must our airplanes be developed but our ground fighting weapons and equipment as well. Only thus will we attain a position of dominance in Airborne Warfare"

Up to that time, mechanized infiltration "maneuver warfare" or "blitzkrieg" tactics to breakthrough WWI-style linear defensive fortifications were hampered trying to exploit opportunities created by light tracked tanks transporting infantry with vulnerable open-topped half-tracks or worse unarmored, air-filled, rubber-tired trucks, both vehicles unable to go where tanks or infantry's own boots took them. The cause of this was in 1940, the Army's Chief of Cavalry, General Herr refused to mechanize and wanted to keep horse cavalry, so the Army decided to work-around him by creating an "Armor" branch with no sound battlefield function when it should have fired General Herr and made Cavalry branch mechanize so tracked tanks for infantry break-through and all-around mobile combat to include air-delivery alongside the Airborne--had a home. Furthermore, tracked tanks as Sapper siege engines should have found a home in Army Combat Engineer branch so the U.S. Army could have had an armored-protected obstacle and mine defeating capability like the British Army's 79th Armored Division ("Hobart's Funnies") had on D-Day to prevent heavy casualties from enemy fire like we experienced on Omaha Beach. After WWII, General Gavin saw the foot mobility and lack of armored protection that beset his beloved Paratroopers dropped by parachutes from fixed-wing aircraft deep into enemy territory in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Holland and Germany and did something to correct it; setting the requirements while Army Chief of Research and Development in the 1950s which later resulted in the amazing M113 in 1959. General Gavin saw the future, non-linear battlefield and wanted robust, initiative-taking Paratrooper units that could achieve decisive maneuver results. In 1954, General James M. Gavin wrote in his Harper's magazine article, "Cavalry and I don't mean horses":

"Where was the cavalry? ...and I don't mean horses.

I mean helicopters and light aircraft, to lift Soldiers armed with automatic weapons and hand-carried light anti-tank weapons, and also lightweight reconnaissance vehicles, mounting anti-tank weapons the equal or better than the Russian T-34s...If ever in the history of our armed forces there was a need for the cavalry arm--airlifted in light planes, helicopters and assault-type aircraft--this was it... Only by exploiting to the utmost the great potential of flight can we combine complete dispersion in the defense with the facility of rapidly massing for the counter-attack which today's and tomorrow's Army must possess"

John B. Wilson writes in his excellent book, available online, MANEUVER AND FIREPOWER: THE EVOLUTION OF DIVISIONS AND SEPARATE BRIGADES, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY UNITED STATES ARMY WASHINGTON, D. C., 1998 Chapter 26 "The Army and the New Look"


"To provide the weapons and equipment for the nuclear Army, scientists, engineers, and designers, among others, combined to produce a steady stream of new or improved items. From rifles, mortars, semiautomatic and automatic weapons, and recoilless rifles at the company level to powerful rockets, missiles, and artillery in the support commands, more efficient instruments of war were fashioned to increase the firepower of the combat forces. Whole new families of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles emerged, with both short- and long-range capabilities. With the emphasis on mobility, even the larger and heavier weapons and equipment were designed to be air-transportable.

A program to produce ground and air vehicles with the necessary battlefield mobility led to the development of armored personnel carriers, such as the M113 with aluminum armor, that could move troops rapidly to the scene of operations while providing greater protection for the individual Soldier. Since highways and bridges might be damaged or destroyed, dual-capability amphibious vehicles that could travel on rough terrain and swim across rivers and swamps freed the fighting units from total dependence upon roads".

Major Robert A. Doughty writes in, The Evolution of U.S. Army Tactical Doctrine, 1946-76, Combat Studies Institute U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, August 1979:

"Following the shock of the North Korean tanks in the summer of 1950, intensive efforts were devoted to developing tanks. In a remarkably short period, the Army produced the M41, M47, and M48 tanks, and it soon produced the M59 armored personnel carrier and began developing the APC M113. Such vehicles and units were considered ideal for operating on the atomic battlefield and for conducting a rapid and violent strike against a numerically superior enemy.

At the same time, armored units were 'best suited for the mobile defense or for use as the mobile reserve for a larger force.' [76] Given the specter of a dispersed atomic battlefield in which mobility provided the extra ingredient for rapid strikes and counterstrikes, the mobile defense-for the moment-seemed to provide a logical solution to the perplexing and difficult problem of balancing the need for dispersion against the need for mass.

During the same period, Major General James M. Gavin, while commander of the U.S. VII Corps in Germany ran exercises on tactics for the atomic battlefield and noted that World War II-type organizations could not 'adapt themselves to nuclear tactics. The one exception was our armored divisions.' Gavin concluded that it was necessary to redesign the infantry division into relatively autonomous and widely dispersed 'battle groups, each one capable of sustained combat on its own'. [80] Interestingly enough, Colonel Reinhardt and Lieutenant Colonel Kintner had reached the same conclusion in their 1953 book on atomic warfare. [81]

The major results of the tests were suggested by Major General Gavin in a news conference in February 1955 when he explained that the new concepts envisioned a 'cellular rather than linear' battlefield. Gavin also explained that the new standard divisions would be prepared for atomic or non-atomic warfare, but the non-atomic war was more likely. [83] The tests also indicated that improved communications permitted a division commander to control more units than the traditional three regiments, and that the 'optimum number of subordinate units' was probably five... [84]

Armored Personnel Carriers were maintained under the centralized control of the transportation battalion.

Greater emphasis was placed on strategic mobility. With the exception of the tanks, a division's equipment was supposed to be transportable by long-range aircraft, Such mobility was essential given the emerging concept of rapid employment of ground forces throughout the world in 'limited' engagements. In many ways, the emphasis on strategic mobility made the late 1950s the golden age of the Airborne units which were also organized under the pentomic concept.

According to the Army's new concept, the combat zone in an atomic war would be vastly larger in width and depth than those of previous wars. Army leaders concluded that many more ground troops would be required on the extended nuclear battlefield than on the comparatively smaller conventional battlefield.

Army leaders also believed that large massed troop concentrations could not remain in an area for an extended time without becoming an extremely lucrative target for the enemy. Combat units must be dispersed and must be organized in 'checkerboard' fashion with considerable gaps between units. Each Pentomic battle group was designed to operate and sustain itself on this 'cellular' battlefield, and each was capable of all-around defense. An atomic strike might damage a battle position or cause some disruption, but it would not result in a complete 'fracturing' of the entire position. As for tactical mobility, units were to be rapidly shifted from one position to another within a battlefield. Indeed, small, highly mobile tactical units were one of the most important elements in the pentomic concept. The division's tactical mobility ranged from foot mobility to the use of trucks, armored personnel carriers and aircraft. Army units were designed to converge rapidly from dispersed formations in order to make an attack, exploit the effects of atomic weapons or to destroy enemy forces. Then, they were to disperse rapidly to minimize their vulnerability to enemy counteraction.

Being able to concentrate or disperse quickly was the key to success and survival on the atomic battlefield. In the offense, atomic weapons could destroy major enemy concentrations while highly mobile infantry and armor forces could rapidly exploit deep into the enemy's position. In the defense, some penetration between the dispersed defensive positions by the enemy was unavoidable. However, once his attack was disrupted by the series of battle positions, he would be vulnerable to the defender's atomic weapons or to counterattacks on his flanks or rear. General C. D. Eddleman explained, 'Flexibility and rolling with the punch, rather than rigidity, will be the keynote of the defense.' [89] Flexibility was also the keynote of the offense".

After it was discovered that the command & control technology for the Pentomic concept was not up to the task, the ROAD force structure was created. Major Doughty continues:

"One of the major changes under the ROAD concept was the creation of mechanized infantry units of division, brigade and battalion size. Under this concept, mechanized units mounted their fighting elements and supporting weapons in fully tracked, lightly armored vehicles (the M113 armored personnel carrier). The vehicles provided a high degree of cross-country mobility, protection from small-arms and fragmentation, and substantial protection from the effects of nuclear weapons.

Mechanization permitted the rapid massing or dispersal of units, as well as enabling them to maneuver under enemy fire and to exploit the effects of supporting fires. Because the typical mechanized division had three tank battalions, it possessed a significant offensive as well as anti-tank capability, and the mechanized elements were better able to "complement and enhance" the capabilities of tank elements.

However, the mechanized division was distinctly different from the armor division. The mechanized division placed the greatest emphasis on the infantry while the armored division placed the greatest emphasis on the tank. This was clearly evident in FM 7-20, Infantry, Airborne Infantry, and, Mechanized Infantry Battalions, which stated: '[A] mechanized infantry battalion in an armored division is normally employed to support the advance of tank elements. In the infantry and mechanized divisions, the reverse is true-armored elements are used primarily to support the advance of infantry elements.' [103] While this might vary within normal operations since brigades could be tailored to be infantry or armor-heavy, the title 'infantry' or 'armor' usually suggested the focus of the operations.

Although all the combat arms were affected by the adoption of the ROAD concept, the doctrine for the employment of tank forces was the least affected by these changes. The artillery was only slightly affected since it had already made important steps toward increased mechanization. The infantry was the combat arms branch most affected by the new ROAD concepts which included increases in mobility and mechanization of the infantry. The formation of mechanized infantry units forced the infantry to adopt many of the practices and thinking of the armor and irrevocably linked a significant portion of its resources and intellectual energies to the mechanized battle. Tactical doctrine, nevertheless, stressed continuity rather than change.

When FM 7-20, the manual on the different types of infantry battalions, discussed the characteristics and capabilities of the various battalions, its major point was that the mechanized infantry battalion had a 'sustained capability for rapid movement' while the airborne infantry battalions had the 'capability to conduct frequent airborne assaults.' [104] Once dismounted, infantry techniques theoretically remained similar to those of the past two decades. To accomplish its mission, the infantry was still required to dismount from its vehicles which primarily were viewed as a means of allowing the Soldier to enter combat faster and better prepared to fight. Little or no emphasis was placed on the infantry fighting from its armored vehicles. A 1965 manual on the mechanized infantry battalion, for example, noted that the infantry should not remain mounted too long because of the danger of 'group destruction by short-range weapons.' [105]

The increases in mobility and firepower supposedly did not change the basic function of the infantryman; they only improved his ability to accomplish that function. Yet important doctrinal questions appeared that were not directly associated with traditional infantry doctrine. The debate over the proper dismount point for mechanized infantry units in a tank-infantry attack illustrates the increasing complexity of accomplishing infantry functions in the traditional fashion. Changes in mobility made the responsibilities of the infantry commander much broader and much more complex, forcing him to consider his 'traditional' problems in an entirely different manner. The entire realm of mechanized warfare, with all its complexities, was now added to an already long list of infantry tactical skills which would become even more complex when airmobile operations captured the attention of the Army".

Simon Dunstan writes in The M113 Series, that the Army's requirement for the M113;

"...was to provide a lightweight, armored personnel carrier for armor and infantry units capable of amphibious and airdrop operation, superior cross-country mobility and adaptation to multiple functions through applications of kits and/or modifications of its superstructure, under the designation Airborne, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle Family (AAM/PVF)".

The AAM/PVF which became the M113 Gavin was the infantry-carrying counterpart to the Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicle (AR/AAV) which eventually was fielded as the M551 Sheridan light tank. The intent of both light tracked armored fighting vehicles was to be aircraft-transportable and highly cross-country mobile which both succeeded in doing in combat, the M113 living on to the present day with no end in sight.


Operation Defensive Shield, April 2002: IDF M113A3s leading the way into enemy urban areas---4 decades after its creation, the design of the light tracked M113 is far superior to rubber-tired armored cars, would you want to send a force rolling on rubber deep into hostile lands surrounded by enemies in all directions? What about tracks "hurting" the paved roads? What about "operational mobility"? The M113 has these problems solved and more--in spades. Again, another brilliant battlefield MANEUVER by legendary General/Leader Ariel Sharon, who has saved Israel on numerous occasions; the 1956 Mitla Pass Airdrop, the 1967 seizing the Sinai, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon which ousted the PLO, and today Operation Defensive Shield where M113A3 infantry in Palestinian territories separate civilians from terrorists to stop their violence. The halls of freedom's heroes include men like Gavin, Ridgway, Patton, MacArthur, Carlson, Chamberlain, Sherman and Sharon.

Take all of the mobile formation and movement capabilities a light tracked AFV provides through the M113 Gavin which was done to avoid the effects of nuclear weapons (still a battlefield threat) and apply them to today's precision guided weapons in a surveillance strike complex (SSC)---the same cross-country go-anywhere mobility is needed TODAY, in 2002. And the vehicle that can do this is the light tracked 10.5 ton M113A3 Gavin, not bloated, overweight 20-24 ton LAV-III rubber-tired armored cars or even 33-ton tracked M2/M3 Bradleys. Only the light tracks of the M113A3 Gavin can prevail against future enemy SSCs by unpredictable, bold and decisive air/sea/land maneuver; to include world-wide rapid, mass delivery by cargo 747s to nearby staging bases then parachute airdrop, extremely short landing by small C-130 Hercules turboprop aircraft, swimming ashore from Army sealift ships and CH-47D/F Chinook helicopter sling-loads. If the battlefield is a fraction of how lethal the precision-strike, RMA firepower hubrists think it is to justify their mouse-clicking firepower constructs, then the battlefield is going to be full of civilian refugess, wrecked and burning cars, broken glass, fallen power and telephone lines, burning and demolished homes and factories, exploding bombs and missiles everywhere---in short an almost nuclear "hell" created by "precision" and non-precision "low-tech" weapons---then the U.S. Army must roll on off-road capable, obstacle-crossing light tracks not air-filled rubber tires. And the light tracked armored fighting vehicles have to be small and light enough to get there by aircraft and prepositioned sealift without needing airfields and ports to get there IN TIME or we will lose the war by default-failing to show up--the enemy wins. He who lands the first blows in SSC warfare has the advantage and there may be no recovery to the defender unless he has a SUPERIOR Surveillance Strike Maneuver Capability (SSMC).

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

-- Sir Winston Churchill

Therefore, arguably, 4 decades later, the M113 is the greatest armored vehicle of all time, ever---because its basic combat design requirements are valid and enduring. The U.S. Army just hasn't realized this yet as it wastes billions on bullshit lav3Stryker rubber-tired armored cars that are failing in field exercises and quasi-tests. Churchill's quote about the American penchant for BS until forced by circumstance to do the right thing is absolutely true. The design of the light tracked M113 Gavin meets the needs of present and future battlefields where lethal weaponry effects, man-made and natural debris are the rule; ill-conceived, vulnerable, air-filled, rubber-tired, road-bound armored cars created to just peacekeep-on-the-cheap, do not meet the requirements of the entire spectrum-of-war from stability and support operations all the way through to major nation-state warfare. The basic 1970s design of the LAV armored car is based on faulty assumptions and cannot be excused away by posturing that it was done 10 years after the sound M113 light tracked design was created. 10 years is a "drop in the bucket" time-wise in vehicle development and usually and easily wasted in vehicle fabrication and testing not necessarily any thoughtful analysis, or "revolutionary" technical progress. To think that an armored car built on faulty assumptions about the battlefield 1-10 years after a sound light tracked design enters service is anything other than faulty and is somehow more "advanced" is ludicrous and a sign of either ignorance and/or naive avant garde' human progress arrogance. A non-combat capable armored car is still a non-combat-capable armored car regardless of whether you choose to build it immediately or 10 years from now.

Definition of "Avante Garde":

The French word for vanguard.

A group or work that is innovative or inventive on one or more levels: subject, medium, technique, style, or relationship to context.

An avant-garde work pushes the known boundaries of acceptable art sometimes with revolutionary, cultural, or political implications.

U.S. Army refuses to reform its quality as Congress ponders increasing its quantity

"This is a game of wits and will. You've got to be learning and adapting constantly to survive."

---U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker


U.S. Army Self-Destructing into even more foot & truck vulnerable units under current Modularity Plans

The lightening up of America's Army into even more slow, foot-moving and truck-vulnerable "light units" is absolutely uncalled for in light of tragic combat deaths and woundings in Iraq and Afghanistan where the tactics of road, car, truck and suicide manpack bombings has increased and will be the norm for years to come. The wheeled truck by design is 28% less space/weight efficient than a tracked armored fighting vehicle (AFV); we cannot afford to slap armor onto wheels even made that way from the factory--if we want to prevail on non-linear battlefields (NLBs) where the enemy can attack in any direction at any time. We need the maximum protection and mobility possible via use of tracked platforms.

Table 1 shows the planned mobility and structure changes in the Army in terms of brigades. The Army is in the process of changing from a force that was 40% foot and partial truck-equipped (light) to a force that is 53% light-an increase of 32%. Add the Stryker truck units and 62% of the Army rides on vulnerable wheels along predictable roads/trails when the preferred enemy tactic is to ambush using roadside bombs. If the Army creates an additional 5 BCTs instead of the 43 in the initial plan and if these additional BCTs are light, the shift in the active component will be from 40% to 55% light-an increase of 34%. The most drastic change is in the Army National Guard, which demilitarizes from 39% to 68% light-an increase of 74%. Overall, Army heavy forces with light, medium and heavy tracked armored fighting vehicles and trucks decline from 59% of the force to 37%-a reduction of 37%. An American Soldier with a rifle-in-his-hand-and-a-rucksack-on-his-back moving by foot and at times in vulnerable trucks is only slightly better than a third world country Soldier similarly equipped. Do we want to fight the enemy out-numbered from a position of qualitative equality? AK-47 vs M-16?

Table 1.  Comparison of Army Maneuver Brigades over Time



Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2004

Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2011






% of total




% of total




















L/M/H Tracked









Unit Totals









Table 2, based on the Army's 77 BCT program, shows the changes in terms of Army battalions. The Army's decision to increase the number of maneuver companies in its modular heavy BCT battalions from three to four makes it necessary to consider the number of combat maneuver companies as well as the number of battalions. At the end of FY 2004, the Total Army had 233 combat battalions with 699 maneuver companies. In 2011, the Army plans to have 162[1] maneuver battalions with 544 maneuver companies. This is a 30 percent reduction in the number of battalions and a 22 percent reduction in the number of companies--the actual units that fight. Alarmingly, the number-of-Army active component maneuver battalions declines by 18 (16%) while the number of maneuver companies declines by 22 (6%). The number of Army National Guard maneuver battalions declines by 53 (44%), and the number of maneuver companies declines by 136 (37%). America's Army will be bigger but actually have less units to send into battle.

In terms of the mix of battalions, the proportion of light infantry battalions that move primarily on foot and by unarmored, unarmed trucks increases from 33% to 50%.[2] The number of battalions with light, medium, heavy tracked AFVs declines from 63% to 43%--a reduction of 32 percent. The number of companies with tracked AFVs declines from 456 to 236-a reduction of 48 percent. Stryker truck (motorized) battalions that move by wheels and minimal light armor increase from 1% to 13% of the force. In the active component, 71 tracked AFV battalions and squadrons are to be reduced to 37 "combined arms" battalions and 3 armored cavalry squadrons in vulnerable Humvee trucks. This is a 26% reduction in the number of companies in tracked AFVs capable of cross-country maneuver in the face of enemy opposition. The change in the National Guard is even more dramatic and dangerous. The proportion of light foot/truck battalions increases from 33% to 67%. Motorized forces increase from 0% to 4%. Tracked AFV battalions decline from 67% to 29%. 81 ARNG heavy battalions and squadrons are to be reduced to 40. This is a 67% reduction in the number of ARNG heavy companies.

Table 2 Comparison of Army Maneuver Battalions over Time



Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2004

Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2011






% of total




% of total


Foot/Truck Infantry



















L/M Tracked Infantry









Heavy Tracked Tank










Cavalry Sqdn









"Combined Arms"









Unit Totals















Fundamental Army Assumptions and Labels Flawed

The Army lumps M113 Gavin LIGHT tracked AFVs into its "heavy" units when these 10.5 ton vehicles weigh roughly the same as 22, 000 pound FMTV trucks in use by light units, overlooking that these vehicles are ideal to be owned and operated by light units. M113 Gavin armored tracks could transform its light units from their vulnerable and unable-to-maneuver state to equal battlefield players with heavier units in open terrain as well as their current closed terrain functions. Light forces would be used for 3D maneuvers through or over closed terrains in conjunction with heavier units operating in more open terrain for 2D maneuver. The M113's very design and purpose was to be mobility means for the Army's light Airborne units that move by aircraft to the battlefield. The program name was originally the Airborne Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle Family (AAM-PVF).

In fact the current officials in the Army are deliberately lying about tracks like the M113 Gavin to foist untruths about their egowagon Stryker trucks. If we had an Honor Code for the U.S. Army this would not be tolerated. Since we do not have a sense of honor, our moral THEMIS; the justness of our organization to order men into battle has imploded, and recruiting/retention has collapsed.

The Army has thousands of M113 Gavin light tracked AFVs in storage above the thousands in use by the heavy units that can be supplied to ALL Army light infantry Delta Weapons Companies to give their brother Headquarters, A, B, and C companies situation-dependent armored cross-country mobility to avoid road ambushes in the first place and withstand bomb attacks. Delta companies now operate 35 x Humvee trucks so their orientation is vehicles so switching to another more capable light tracked armored vehicle is not a change in mission focus.

The "M113A4" Gavin: note tremendous troop internal volume under armor. 6 roadwheels increase length by just 20% but increase mobility by larger roadwheel base by 50%. 500+hp Hybrid-Electric Drive give 60 mph speeds, stealth and 600 mile ranges.

The 10-15 troop-carrying capability on top of the Delta company Soldiers of a stretched-hull M113 MTVL Gavin creates a new mission capability to maneuver the rest of the infantry companies (350-525 men) that their Humvee trucks cannot do now. The maintenance requirements of one M113 Gavin to move one 9-man infantry squad which is an armored metal box on two sets of durable tracks and 10 roadwheels with a 200 horsepower class diesel engine are actually less than two Humvee trucks to move the same men which are flimsy metal frameworks with 8 constantly rupturing air-filled rubber tires on 8 metal rims powered by a 200 horsepower class diesel engine. Gavins without governors on and with adequate power can go just as fast as wheeled trucks, the highest clocked speed so far attained is 87.76 mph.

The 82nd, 101st, 173rd, 1-501st Airbornes have "Delta" heavy weapons (TOW anti-armor and heavy machine guns) COMPANIES easily re-equipped with M113 Gavins instead of 35 x Humvee trucks to give A, B and C companies armored mobility on the battlefield. A stretch hull MTVL can carry 10-15 men so 35 x M113A4 Gavins could carry 350-525 men per sortie. This takes care of 22 battalions in the U.S. Army today, giving them situational light mechanized capabilities.

What about the 10th, 25th and 172nd Light Infantry Battalions?

However, the 10th, 25th and 172nd Light Infantry (16 battalions) have a different organization where they just have an anti-armor PLATOON of 6 x Humvee trucks. Re-equipping them with M113A4 Gavins would move either A, B or C company-at-a-time. Therefore, we propose that the 81mm mortar platoon in 6 x Humvee trucks be re-equipped with Gavins to move another rifle company. To simultaneously move the last rifle company, we propose that the 19 battalion scouts be equipped with 4 x M113 Gavins to do their reconnaissance missions better as well as move a rifle company as needed.

What about mortars?

The 82nd and 101st infantry battalions have a single 81mm mortar platoon with 8 Humvee trucks and 6 mortars.

The 10th and 25th infantry battalions have a single 81mm mortar platoon with 6 Humvee trucks and 4 mortars.

If we replaced their Humvee trucks with M1064 series Gavins, we improve the armor protection, cross-country mobility and indirect 5 km firepower because they can shoot instantly from the vehicle using a turntable without having to run out and set up a mortar baseplate. We can increase range to over 7 km and HE firepower (vital in long range desert and mountain warfare) by using the 120mm mortar in the M1064A3 variant. If we stretch the hull there will still be troop space inside to carry 10 men for an additional lift of 60-80. If the mortars are dismounted then 105-120 men can be transported. We may want to not initially go with a turntable mounted mortar and just use the 81mm mortar laid flay in the back and keep the full 105-120 man transportation room; essentially the M113A4 Gavin as a tracked "truck".

It is absolutely critical to America's national security that either modularity plans be scrapped and light units be re-equipped with tracks under a different re-organizational plan (like retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor's 5, 000 man BattleGroups) or that light unit Delta weapons companies are re-equipped to be light mechanized with M113 Gavins with multiple armor layering. Furthermore, ALL light Supply & Transportation units need to be re-equipped with armored and armed XM1108 Gavin variants with palletized loading systems and winches to move palletized supplies on either PLS flat racks or disposable plywood skidboards. Table 3 shows how light situationally dependent mechanization would truly give America's Army the desired capabilities to prevail on the NLB.

Table 3.  Comparison of Army Maneuver Brigades Actually Transformed to Improved Armored Protection, Mobility and Firepower via Selective M113 Gavin Light Mechanization over Time



Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2004

Army Maneuver Brigades End of FY 2011






% of total




% of total




















Foot & Light Tracked









L/M/H Tracked









Total Mechanized









Unit Total









Furthermore, converting units into foot & truck units is not cheap, either. For the costs of million M119A2 towed 105mm howitzers and 0, 000 FMTV trucks, we could get more combat capability upgrading 2, 000 M113 Gavins from storage with MTVL stretched, v-hulls, larger engines, better tracks, RPG and roadside bomb armor, gunshields for a fraction of those costs.

[1] Including one battalion in the USAR.

[2] If the Army active component increases to 48 brigades, light forces will make up 52% of the force.

[3] Includes one USAR mechanized infantry battalion.

[4] New short-range M119A2 105mm towed howitzers

About million each

Just last month, the Army allocated 0 million for the production of 275 new 105mm M119A2 howitzers, to be manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. They will be an upgraded version of the current M119s, which have outdated technology and often get negative reviews from soldiers in the field. The new guns will be delivered in the next two to five years, according to a Rock Island official.

The Army needs additional 105mm cannons to equip the new brigade units of action, noted Sledge, the Army program manager for combat ammunition.

[5] New unarmored, unarmed, vulnerable, road-bound FMTV trucks

85,401 medium tactical vehicles by FY2021 at total cost of the Program would be .3 B = 0, 000 each

Colonel Douglas MacGregor's recent appearance on the Lehrer News Hour

calling for a reorganized Army is not just a "nice-to-have"; the failure of our Army to have robust and self-sufficient units like he proposes is costing us lives in Iraq. In the minds of too many Army officials, computer graphics have painted a mythical arena where wheeled trucks and armored cars can shuttle men and supplies forward to "the edge" of a linear battlefield much like Belton Cooper describes took place in WWII Europe in his book, Deathtraps. Cooper explains how allied air supremeacy was so great that trucks were driven end-to-end for miles with their headlights on to get superior numbers and mass on the enemy to overwhelm him. When its pointed out today that the 8-wheeled Stryker armored car is extremely vulnerable to RPGs, the computerized Army officials excuse this fatal flaw away by declaring "its not a combat vehicle, it will just shuttle men to the forward edge of the battlefield".

This is not 1944, its 2004.

What "forward edge" of the battlefield are Army officials talking about?

Then there is the real, non-linear battlefield taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan

The U.S. Army does not have 100 Divisions to fully control large areas and clear out all enemies to make "safe", "rear" areas for an underclass of support troops to do the dirty work for the upper social class of combat arms Soldiers on the "front lines". The Army has just 10 active-duty divisions, spread thinly around the world in Korea, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Kuwait and Iraq yet is commanded by thousands of people in several layers of bureaucracy yet wonders why simple things like enough body armor reaches the troops. In still-not-pacified Iraq/Afghanistan, the enemy is all around, and there are no "front" lines for Army troops to ride up to on the cheap in rubber-tired trucks, dismount and fight the enemy less-than-"even" M16 vs. AK47/RPG/IED but hope to overwhelm him by superior numbers and "information" about the enemy's location and condition. The Army in love with computer mental gymnastics espoused by Alvin and Heidi Tofffler, has forgotten there is a huge difference between knowing and being able to physically DO something about it. Steering firepower by mouse-clicks has not worked and you would think that the Army doing the actual physical ground maneuver would know this better than anyone else in DoD.

Army Soldiers have not forgotten this: they are being killed/maimed in the un or weakly-armored wheeled vehicles that are traveling in predictable, linear paths along roads/trails that are not safe and clear of the enemy.

Where is the Can-Do of the WWII Generation?

Non-linear warfare requires vehicles that can go anywhere not be restricted to linear roads/trails. Cooper warns us repeatedly that the Army's M4 Sherman 33-ton medium tanks needed wider tracks in order to go cross-country at will to out-maneuver the Germans. Even in WWII, the so-called "rear" areas populated by rubber-tired trucks moving along roads/trails were pummeled with enemy artillery fire which shredded and burned their tires. Cooper doesn't even refer to wheeled vehicles as combat vehicles. Yet today's Army officials are crazy about putting the ENTIRE ARMY ON RUBBER-TIRED WHEELS steered around a make-believe linear battlefield that exists only in their minds and computer screens. If wheeled vehicles didn't physically work in WWII, why are we trying in the even-more lethal 21st century send them with our men inside into "near" combat areas? What do we do when the enemy does not conform to our computer-generated "lines" and "areas" and attacks the not-ready-for-combat wheeled vehicles with our men packed inside?

Cooper describes how welders worked around the clock in 30 days to add armor patches around the ammunition holding areas of an entire armored division's 232 x M4 Sherman tanks when it was discovered they were vulnerable to enemy gunfire. Today, Army Soldiers are dying and being maimed in wheeled vehicles and all the Army says it can do is two years from now "up-armor" 3-ton HMMWV into 6-ton HMMWV trucks from the factory at great cost that will NEVER be RPG-resistant and cannot even go cross-country without getting stuck. In stark contrast, the Army today owns over 13,000 M113 Gavin 11-ton light tracked armored fighting vehicles with 1.5 to 1.75 inch thick armored walls, with most sitting in storage while Army Soldiers are driving around Iraq in the thin-skinned wheeled trucks getting blown up, shot-up and incinerated. Only the Army's heavy divisions have M113 Gavins, not the light divisions that could really use them. But the Army refuses to take even a few hundred M113 Gavins and quickly add RPG-resistant side, underbelly landmine, and upper gunshield armor as Belton Cooper's generation would have done if they had these vehicles available in great numbers to adapt and overcome the enemy.


Because the Army has "other plans" for its future; a plan where weak people ride in weak vehicles in a make-believe linear battlefield that does not exist except in the linear, bureaucratic narcisstic personality disorder (NPD) minds of several layers of bureaucracy commanded by senior Army officials who do not have to get real results in reality but can "spin" and "sound bite" lies to Congress and the American people through their PAOs. Buying new wheeled vehicles means easy power, prestige and money for the Army and defense contractors who will hire the Army officials after they leave the service. Never mind that if the Army upgraded its light tracked AFVs, for the same money that only buys a handful of armored car brigades it could TRANSFORM THE ENTIRE ARMY to new capabilities, gaining the respect of Congress, the American people, our Soldiers and sending a message to our enemies that America's Army is ready to fight.

The Army is wrong and needs to be reformed to fight non-linear warfare

The non-linear battlefield requires strong people in strong vehicles. The days of an upper class "fighting" Army and a lower class "Support" Army commanded by vast staff bureaucracies in some sort of rear area are over. Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Schoomaker has directed every Soldier be a combatant. But he must go farther than this and provide every Soldier a vehicle suitable for non-linear battle; you cannot walk everywhere you will need a motor vehicle and this means tracks not trucks. We have the M113 tracks to do this, we just need the will to face real non-linear reality and to do it as the WWII generation would if they were in our shoes today. The can-do IDF has up-armored their M113 Gavins and they don't lose a man a day in combat operations like we are.

Tracked vehicles are non-linear combat vehicles because their tracks enable them to go off roads/trails, cross-country for two-dimensional maneuver. The best non-linear combat vehicle for the walking infantry is a LIGHT tracked AFV like the 11-ton M113 Gavin because it can go anywhere the infantry can, so it has more firepower from the vehicle, staying power supplies of ammunition, food and water than can be carried on a Soldier's back. Instead of fighting enemies at a disadvantage, its our men behind M113 armored gunshields firing Heavy Machine Gun-Disposible Rockets-M16s vs. the enemy on foot with AK47s/RPGs/IEDs. When our infantry dismounts, it has more ammunition because the M113 Gavin is nearby not left far away at a road/trail junction as a wheeled vehicle should be. Enemy fires at its tracks will not mobility kill the M113 as it would shred and set fire to the wheeled vehicle's rubber tires.

Light tracked AFVs due to their compact size and light weight can be flown by fixed-wing aircraft (dropped by cargo parachutes) and helicopters into blocking positions anywhere on the non-linear battlefield to capture/kill Saddams and Bin Ladens before they escape a 2D maneuver force coming at them on the ground. These 3D air-maneuvers are not possible in overweight 19-21 Stryker and the planned 23-ton Future Combat System (FCS) wheeled armored cars because they exceed the C-130's 17-ton and the CH-47D/F's 11-ton payload limits. Larger C-17 jet transports could transport the heavier wheeled vehicles or better yet the more capable medium M2 Bradley and M1 Abrams heavy tracked AFVs by airlanding onto a runway; but if we are going to lose time seizing a runway from the enemy, the enemy will likely escape as Saddam did from Baghdad when the 173rd Airborne Brigade landed in the north.

The Army's current officials opposes strong people in strong tracked vehicles because these would be units that would not be on a short leash to several layers of higher headquarters to micromanage but could take computer awareness and ACT ON IT because they would have the physical means to do so. On the fluid, rapidly changing, non-linear battlefield this is what our Army needs to get the Bin Ladens and get the Saddams earlier so we don't suffer daily casualties in a plodding, predictable linear campaign (easily resisted by the enemy) to hunt them down after they went into hiding.

Its time the American Congress assert civilian control over the military and get involved with the future direction of its Army. It must not stand on the sidelines as our Army self-destructs in an ill-conceived all-wheeled vehicle make-over. Congress should direct the Army to upgrade its M113 Gavins with the computers they crave, but with actual physical superiority features like RPG-resistant armor, band-tracks, hybrid-electric drive for 600 mile range and stealth operation, so that THE ENTIRE ARMY IS TRANSFORMED IMMEDIATELY as the WWII generation would, we are talking days and weeks here not months and years. America's Army is at war now and it needs more upgraded M113 Gavin light tracked AFVs in the non-linear fight not trucks. Congress should begin by creating units along Colonel Macgregor's designs and get rid of staff bureaucracies so they are manned by Soldiers not paper-pushers.

Those in the U.S. Army that think that they are being "innovative" and the "advance guard" for positive change "transformation" because they want to slap a computer into an immobile, vulnerable rubber-tired armored car because it LOOKS DIFFERENT and LOOKS SEXY so they can claim that they were great "visionaries" are actually going to handicap the U.S. Army with less vehicular mobility and the resultant foot-slogging to try to protect the armored cars from destruction along roads will bring us disaster in the next war. The true visionaries were the WWII and Korea blooded combat men who created the air-transportable, amphibious, all-terrain mobile M113 for a truly "transformed" U.S. Army of thinking, smart, self-reliant warriors not current politically-correct, blind-obedient robots micromanaged from afar by top-down, stay-in-your-lane high-tech bureaucracy. If in our rush to exalt ourselves and our own ideas, our ego prevents us from recognizing the good ideas from others, especially the combat-proven and enduring culminations of many people's ideas from the past---the M113, the B-52, the M2 .50 caliber, the C-130....than the disease of arrogance reflects in our own mirror.

U.S. Army disobeying President Bush's orders to give troops what they need to survive/win In Iraq/Afghanistan

The Commander-In-Chief (CIC) of the U.S. Armed Forces is the elected President of the United States.President Bush said publicly that he would insure every servicemen gets what he needs to win the war on terrorism.Yet as Saddam capture euphoria wanes and daily casualties mount in Iraq, its become evident that our men DO NOT have what they need.Further investigation shows that our men have requested both light tanks and armored personnel carriers that are available in storage yet officials at Army HQs HAVE DENIED THEM what they need to survive and win in DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE of the CIC's orders because they are TRACKED and not wheeled to go along with current Army official's fad for rubber-tired trucks and armored cars that have clearly failed to get the job done in Iraq and are killing/maiming our men from enemy Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), Improvised Explosive Device (IED) land mine attacks and accidents due to their unwieldy designs when loaded with supplies and make-shift armored "bird cages".More troubling is these officials have also lied to Congress and the American people by falsely portraying that all they can do is up-armor existing wheeled trucks after Congress gives them 9 million more dollars and then 2 years from now our troops could have slightly better protected 0,000 each HMMWV trucks that are still vulnerable to RPGs and land mines. Our men don't need half-solutions, too late. The Army also dangles before Congress already failed-in-Iraq Canadian-made Stryker wheeled armored cars at million dollars each that also cannot protect our troops from RPGs/IEDs, either so our men wisely avoid riding in them if they can ride in anything else. The current Army "vision" of getting by on allegedly cheaper-to-operate wheeled trucks/armored cars exalting the "Third Wave" of human civilization via the mental gymnastics of a computer network has failed miserably in Iraq where the PHYSICAL "Second Wave", "Industrial Age" reality still reigns supreme as enemy RPGs, land mines/roadside bombs kill and maims our Soldiers each day shamefully obvious before the entire world that threatens a collapse of public support for the war and Bush Administration re-election in November. Rather then admit their wheeled computer fantasy has failed, Army officials have repeatedly denied our Soldiers even a handful of the tracked AFVs sitting in storage that will fully protect them and take the fight to the enemy anywhere he is hiding off the roads and trails that are strewn with mines, IEDs and thugs with AK47s and RPGs lying in ambush because the tracks that are in iraq have been highly successful and more over there would be public/congressional relations "curtains" for their wheeled trucks/armored cars.

XVIII Airborne Corps' request for the four 17-ton M8 Armored 105mm Gun System (AGS) light tanks the Army has bought that are kept in storage to provide instant firepower and show-of-force to prevail/prevent firefights in the narrow streets of Iraq without needing the constant and dangerous refueling the heavy 70-ton M1 tanks require (which light units don't have, anyway) DENIED

A company commander's request for just 10-20 of the thousands of war stock M113 Gavin light tracked Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) DENIED

Reserve truck company that fabricated their armor plates in accordance with the Army's own self-help doctrine in FM 55-30 Appendix O DENIED

Requests for RPG applique' armor that many of the world's M113 Gavins use like the Israeli Defense Force (they don't lose a man every day like we are in Iraq) DENIED

Thousands of Army Reservists and National Guardsmen are at war without flak jackets with plates to stop AK47 assault rifle bullets, requests for vests with plates DENIED

Actions that deny our Soldiers the tools they need to win and survive speak louder than words and promises of inadequate wheeled solutions later (or most probably never). The Soldiers in Iraq don't care about whose "vision of warfare" gets the limelight, they want WHAT WORKS and will kill the enemy and get them home alive to their families with all their limbs intact. Up-armoring sides, underbelly and providing gunshields on the Army's M113 Gavins light tracked AFVs would cost a mere K each and for less than 0K would make them hybrid-electric silent and stealthy to sneak up on hiding enemies TODAY instead of waiting 10 years from now for a mythical million each, Future Combat System (FCS). Hybrid-Electric M113 Gavins would have all the electrical power Soldiers could ever need to run all the computers and electronic gadgets the Army is so infatuated with. Going to band tracks while slightly reducing land mine blast resistance is countered by the fact that with Hybrid Electric drive we can put the driver/TC farther back in the hull away from over the current driver position over the left track offset from the right front engine arrangement. The reason is that HE drive can be run by wire controls so the driver can actually be ANYWHERE on or off the vehicle. Another benefit of HE drive is you can then build a "V" channel wall on the left and right of the centerline driver/TC for a secondary bulkhead against land mines.

All do-able NOW with M113 Gavins. The HE TTD already has centerline driver/TC and cut-down more sloping front. In a matter of month's the Army's 4 light divisions without ANY armored vehicles that are getting clobbered all over the world in HMMWV trucks could be have ALL of their men moved around the battlefield under armor but alert and ready to return fire behind gunshields without getting bogged down in vehicle care; each infantry battalion's Delta Weapons Companies who now own/operate dangerously vulnerable HMMWV trucks would instead use up-armored M113 Gavins to give their Alpha, Bravo and Charlie rifle company brethren transportation as needed. Army light units "transformed" with light tracked AFV capabilities could range out by aircraft and their own superior x-country mobility, armored protection and on-hand firepower anywhere in the world with weeks of supplies to flush out enemy terrorists hiding in remote areas. We could throw a cordon around wherever the Bin Ladens are hiding and stay there "tightening the noose" until he appears dead-or-alive.

Its time President Bush checks up on his Army and orders it to do the right thing and supplies its Soldiers IMMEDIATELY the light tracked AFVs sitting now unused with the extra armor, gunshields. Those that disobey his direct orders should be fired and replaced with someone who will do what it takes to win and save our troops, NPD technohubris be damned. If Bush doesn't do this HE IS GOING TO GET FIRED IN NOVEMBER by the American people once the preventable casualties caused by Army negligence rises to over 1000 dead and 4000 wounded if current rates stay the same or get worse. If we truly value our Soldiers (that's with a capital "S") as "men and women of the year" we would get them what they need pronto.

A leading defense expert writes:


The USAF transformation theorists are very keen on B-52 using it with various upgrades. It has become a case study in transformation, new weapons and tactics making it more useful in Afghanistan than shiny new F-16s and F/A-18s.

Perhaps you might consider turning the argument around and saying that an upgraded M113 is like a B-52 - through upgrades etc it is transformed. That puts the LAV into the position of a shiny new but less useful F-16 or F/A-18."

He's right!

The M113 Gavin is the Army's version of the B-52--a combat-proven, durable platform we should be upgrading to get "transformational" capabilities not pissing our money away on inferior lav3Stryker rubber-tired deathtraps:

M113 Gavin: the Army's "B-52"

General George S. Patton wrote:

"No one is thinking if everyone is thinking alike. In too many organizations, toadyism is buried like a cancer. It must be removed with the sharpest bayonet available. All sorts of suggestions, ideas, concepts, and opinions must be allowed to promote an environment of learning and imagination. A fault of many potentially fine commanders is a lack of the ability to admit that other people have good ideas. If younger Soldiers are not allowed to use and cultivate their imaginations and their abilities for abstract thought, where will we get the next generations of qualified, motivated, and confident commanders? Commanders who never ask for an opinion, never listen to suggestions, and think they have the only correct idea find that their Soldiers will stop communicating altogether. They'll begin to sit on their asses and wait for orders before doing anything. No matter how high in the ranks a man goes, he can't know everything. We can always learn from each other. Juniors must learn not only to be allowed to use their imaginations, but they must be encouraged to do so.

Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men. I cannot count the times I've seen men who should know better than to keep quiet when unjust decisions are being made, decisions that literally affect the lives of tens of thousands of Soldiers. These decisions are made, not on the basis of sound military policy, but purely to further the political and personal ambition of officers in high command. Cowardice on the battlefield is disgusting enough. Cowardice in the military planning room is repugnant. It ultimately means the unnecessary death, mutilation, and disfigurement of Soldiers for the sake of the commanders. It takes courage to stand up for what is believed to be right and just. Most men seem to lack such courage. Sycophancy for the sake of career is just as deadly as incompetence."

Thus, to the truly wise warrior who sees reality and things for what they are, not chronological or "techno" labeling, the light tracked M113 is the best combination of mobility, protection and firepower ever created that has frankly, yet to be eclipsed. The fact that many Soldiers who know-by-doing refer to the M113 as the "Gavin" in his honor is just and fitting. AF A-10 pilots refer to their aircraft as "WartHogs", so its understandable that M113 Soldiers call their trusty mounts, the "M113 Gavin".


This petition will go directly to Army channels to show that the troops already call the M113 the "Gavin" and want this name officially recognized. If necessary this petition will go to the American Senate and House of Representatives so by special act of Congress, the M113 will be officially referred to as the M113 "Gavin".

Write your Senator/Congressman today!

Outstanding Army Artist Chris Ashby created the amazing naming the M113 the "Gavin" cartoon above! To see more of her beautiful artwork and Army cartoons go to Great job, Chris! =0)

We owe the memory of General Gavin, the lives of the many men who have gone before us, and the lives that will be saved in the future by the M113 that we honor this vehicle with the respect it deserves so we can fully utilize it to defeat the enemies of freedom in the present and the future.

The amazing M113 Gavin Family of Vehicles:

Official M113 Web Site

FAS M113 Gavin web page

All the World's M113s: what SMART armies do, here's a partial listing!

New Zealand
South Korea
U.S. Army, NASA, USAF, DHS, Police/Fire Departments

RAFAEL has modified Israeli Defense Force (IDF) M113 "Zelda 2" Gavins to the "classical" configuation. Arrowhead Explosion Reactive tiles (ERA) protect against RPGs, ATGMs and heavy machine guns, the exhaust pipe is routed down to minimize heat signature, automatic smoke screen systems, and Commander has gunshields with bullet-proof windows to be able to view out and still be shielded when firing.

Passive Armor:

Active Armor:

Israeli Defense Force (IDF) "Zelda" M113A3 with reactive armor, ACAV TC gunshield with vision windows, external fuel tanks..and some other unidentified features to take the war to Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon, used by elite' red-beret Paratroopers and Brown beret-wearing "Golani Brigade" Mechanized Infantry units


The Zelda Force makes a hasty perimeter defense in the mean streets of Arab territory

Elite IDF Paratrooper (brown boots) fans out from the rear Zelda troop hatch looking for thugs and terrorists...If the IDF can have M113 light tracked AFVs and not lose their "eliteness" why can't the 82nd Airborne and Airborne Sapper Combat Engineers do the same?

The M113 "Zelda" or "Gavin" has been saving battles with its operational and cross-country maneuver capabilities since the Vietnam war, in 1962 when 32 x M113s were supplied to the ARmy of south VietNam (ARVN) being overwhelmed by VietCong (VC) guerrillas illegally, trained, advised and supplied by communist North Vietnam. The tiny force of M113s saved the free nation from being over-run and restored flagging morale in the ranks of the war-weary ARVN.

Simon Dunstan continues:

"The bald statistics representing the number of VC killed and captured were considerable, and the psychological shock effect of the M113 in areas where the ARVN had not previously operated was clearly significant.

Operational experience soon showed, however, that it was not practical to dismount the infantry from an APC until VC positions had been completely overrun. Once the troops dismounted in the water-covered rice paddies much of their advantage in mobility over the VC was lost, whereas the M113 was capable of a sustained speed of 20kph across such terrain. [Editor: try this in a LAV-III/Stryker armored car!]

By these means, constant pressure could be maintained against retreating VC forces, while the .50 cal machine gun was employed to engage and hold the enemy at long range to deter retaliation from RPG teams. To ensure an uninterrupted flow of fire, the gunner dropped the free end of the ammunition belt through the cupola while the first box was being fired. Down below a crew member linked on a new belt and feed it up to the gun. This permitted the gunner to fire without having o change ammunition boxes and reload after every 100 rounds.

Meanwhile other crew members generated further firepower from the open troop compartment hatch, while keeping constant vigil for VC attempting to hide in the water by using hollow reeds as breathing tubes. Any who were spotted were either killed by grenades or crushed in place by the M113s.

Such employment, which was contrary to the contemporary doctrine that emphasized the APC as a means of transporting infantry to the battlefield, met with disfavor among the upper echelons of MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam); but despite their protests, the concept of mounted combat became widespread and was readily adopted by American units when they arrived 'in-country'.

The mobility conferred by the M113 to government forces in formerly inaccessible areas of the Mekong Delta and elsewhere was dramatic.

American units rapidly developed the concept, and to improve fighting capabilities M113 APCs were fitted with a variety of devices, including gunshields for he .50 cal machine guns, side-mounted M60 machine guns, and sandbags or other improvised armour arranged as parapets around the troop compartment so that infantry could fire over the sides".

Even after General Gavin retired, the idea of a fast-moving Air/Ground combined-arms organization with light tracked M113 AFVs found a home in the separate Armored Cavalry Regiments (ACRs). In 1957, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), known as the "Blackhorse Regiment" was assigned to Germany as part of the NATO Forces protecting the border from communist aggression until it returned to the United States in 1964. In March of 1966, the unit was alerted for movement to the Republic of Vietnam. It then began redesigning its equipment for a new type of warfare. Learning from the Vietnamese experiences at the 1963 battle of Ap Bac, additional armor and two more (7.62mm) 30 caliber Medium Machine Guns were added to their M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) which had one .50 cal. Browning Heavy Machine Gun used by the Track Commander and the addition of protective gun shields for the crew and track commander. The gunshields came in an "A" or "B" gunshield kit; the latter just for mortar carrier M113s. Lieutenant Colonel Martin D. Howell, commander of the 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment originated the term "Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle" (ACAV), a fearsome "gun-track" that ranged across all of southeast asia and widely feared by both the VC and NVA as the vehicle with 360 degree firepower to avoid. Other M113 ACAVs had 106mm Recoilless Rifles and 7.62mm mini-Gatling guns mounted. The result was a very rapid all-terrain fighting vehicle, which could deliver devastating firepower. The M113 was rated the most terrain mobile vehicle of the war. Speeds in excess of 50 mph on paved roads was the norm.

The Blackhorse troops arrived in South Vietnam on September 7, 1966, and quickly engaged the enemy with tanks, ACAVs, artillery and helicopters. The success of the ACAV in battle prompted the U.S. Army and our allies--particularly the Australian Armored Regiment---to convert other M113s in other units in a similar fashion. Brian Ross citing General Don A. Starry in Armoured Combat in Vietnam, and Simon Dunstan's, Vietnam Tracks concludes:

"...mounted combat came to the fore for infantry in the form of the ACAV (Armoured Cavalry Assault Vehicle). Until Vietnam, the U.S. Army's doctrine had been that infantry units should dismount before assaulting an enemy position. However, as the ARVN discovered, this meant that when facing the massive amounts of firepower that the NLF or VPA could bring to bear during a firefight, the infantry was exposed to needless casualties, as well as losing the momentum of the attack. Indeed it was the ARVN which pioneered the use of mounted tactics from APC's when they first deployed the M113 in 1962. They were also the first to discover the need for increased firepower on the vehicle by mounting an extra .30 Cal. MMG beside the commander, fired by an exposed prone Soldier lying on the roof of the vehicle. Perhaps more importantly, they also discovered the vulnerability of the exposed track commander when manning the pintle mounted .50 Cal. HMG during the battle of Ap Bac where 14 out of 17 commanders became casualties.

The U.S. Cavalry units...took to the idea and improved upon it by creating the ACAV. They added armour around the commander and a gun shield for the .50 Cal., provided two extra M60 GPMG's each athwart the roof hatch (protected by shields) and installed an M79 Grenadier inside the troop compartment, firing through the roof hatch to provide close support. The result was a vehicle, which was able to go where tanks weren't, by virtue of its lighter weight and ground pressure, packed considerable firepower and was agile and reasonably well armoured. The result, when coupled with the aggressive leadership and tactics of the U.S. Cavalry's commanders was highly effective by all accounts".

M113 ACAVs fought at Tan Son Nhut air base during the 1968 Tet Offensive. That unit was the 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry, more specifically, two platoons from "C" Troop and later in the battle, "B" Troop. Glen Otis was the 3/4 Cav commander and he later became the Commanding General for USAREUR. These forces saved the day by outmaneuvering and out-fighting the enemy. The 11th ACR was also one of the first units on the scene of the massive enemy offensive, using its gunshield equipped M113 ACAVs to roam the streets of Saigon and clear them of enemy suicide commandos and sappers by their mighty omni-directional, firepower.

The 11th ACR's main operational area was the province around Saigon and up to the Cambodian border. The unit clearly demonstrated it's rapid mobility when Saigon came under siege during the 1968 Tet Offensive. In the book, Tet Offensive 1968, Turning Point in Vietnam, James R. Arnold writes:

"Half an hour after the opening barrage, the 2/47th Battalion (Mechanized) began a speed march from Bear Cat toward Log Binh. At first light, the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry airlifted into Bien Hoa air base. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse regiment, made a 12-hour forced march to arrive at Long Binh during the day. Once in position, the multiple machine guns of the mechanized unit's APCs shot apart all Viet Cong attacks."

Note that the key to this success was the M113 ACAV's ability to get OFF THE ROADS and go cross-country to hit the enemy where he was not ready. Arnold continues:

"Nearing the air base he spotted hundreds of enemy soldiers belonging to the 274th VC Regiment lining Highway 1, apparently deployed to stop any relieving column. Exploiting its mobility, the cavalry left the highway and dove a parallel route. The ACAV's machine guns shot up the unsuspecting enemy from the rear and finally reached the air base...its presence at Bien Hoa provided the narrow margin between victory and defeat. Along with the 2d Battalion, 506th Infantry, it repulsed all assaults".

M113 ACAV Gavins line the road in armor

A Cavalry officer wrote:

"Saigon, Bien Hoa and Long Binh were literally ringed in steel...Five Cavalry squadrons had moved through the previous day and night, converging on the Saigon area. When dawn broke, they formed an almost continuous chain of more than 500 fighting vehicles...we actually cheered...from that morning the outcome was never in doubt. We knew that our enemy could never match our mobility, flexibility and firepower"

In July of 1967, Colonel George S. Patton III, the son of one of our country's greatest military heroes, assumed command and soon applied his expertise in armored combat and moved the armor off the roads and into the jungles in search of the enemy. So successful was the unit's search and destroy missions within the enemy's main supply routes between Cambodia and Saigon, that the enemy could no longer move freely and were forced to seek sanctuary inside neutral Cambodia. LTC Kris P. Thompson, "Trends in Mounted Warfare, Part III: Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm", U.S. Army Armor magazine, July/August 1998 writes:

"U.S. forces involved in the operation included 1st Cavalry Division (Air Assault), 25th Division, and the 11th ACR. Brilliant use of aviation and armor in mobile warfare led to success at the level. Surprised enemy units were encircled and annihilated. Huge stocks of individual weapons, crew served weapons, ammunition, and rice were captured. The penetrating forces over-ran an extensive logistical base with a fully equipped motor park complete with grease racks and spare parts. By the end of the operation almost 10,000 tons of material and food had been destroyed and over 11,000 enemy Soldiers killed".

Essentially in Vietnam, the U.S. Army used LIGHT TRACKED vehicles (M113 Armored Cavalry or Infantry ACAV units) and helicopter gunships/troop carriers and scouts to find, fix and gain a significant mobility differential superior to that of the enemy. In operations like Task Force Remagen, air resupply was used to free the M113 ACAV forces from having to keep ground lines of supply open---to create bold, unpredictable maneuver---very similar to what Union General Sherman did on a larger scale with an entire Army of light infantry by eliminating their dependence on railroads in 1864 to roam freely across the south to rob them of their logistical means to continue their resistance, winning our own civil war. If the U.S. had done 2D ACAV and 3D Air Cav-type operations on a larger scale---a modern version of what Sherman did---but into North Vietnam to destroy its war supply infrastructure, its likely the South Vietnam would still exist as a free nation today. Nevertheless, General William C. Westmoreland, Commanding General U.S. Forces, Vietnam stated:

"The ability of mechanized cavalry to operate effectively in the Vietnamese countryside convinced me that I was mistaken in a belief that modern armor had only a limited role in Vietnam"

U.S. Army officer and M113 ACAV combat veteran then LT Dave Tooker and his men fitted M40 106mm recoilless rifles to their M113A1 ACAVs and used them to blast-through road blocks by a simple fixed mounting. He also writes about M113 operational mobility [metal track life was usually over 9,000 miles]:

"I have so many stories of the M113 about being mobile and agile.

We had mortar tracks with over 5000 miles on them and still operational. They were the original M113s, not the A1's, they were gassers. Yes, we were bound by about 35 MPH, but we didn't have the band-tracks then, even though they were on the M114 and the Sheridan. However, considering the roads we operated on (the very best were QC1, 13 and 4) when we escorted convoys, the best they could do was about 25, anyway. We were operating in a 3rd world country. Hell, there aren't autobahns in Viet Nam, even today I was there in 1997.

About maintenance... change the oil, check the track tension, and drive it 'till the tracks fall off. I had that happen on a convoy from Dong Tam (9th ID HQ, to Tan An 1st BDE HQ) we were going about 35, the track rolled off behind like a caterpillar, and the driver took his hands off the sticks and goosed it a bit to keep it straight. He was doing good until the road took a turn against the side with the gone track. Well, they ended up in the ditch, we recovered the vehicle, left the track by the side of the road and rewrapped it, and went on operations the next day. If it had been a wheelie and had rolled over, it would have been "hors de combat" for a few days.

We self-deployed in Sept. 1968 from Dong Tam to Lai Kai, about 200 miles, slept in cots that night and went on another 50 mile trip the next day and into operations near Quo Loi (look on a map for the distances) we had to recover General Ware's body when he got shot down in Cambodia (1st ID CO). The problem with M113s is you keep putting more stuff IN them, and then the torsion bars break. So the PLT LDR has to go inspect the tracks to see what all is in there. It wasn't just ammo and explosives, but the bales of concertina, piles of Engineer stakes, sides of PSP, filled sand bags (tankers don't refill no sand bag, once filled, always filled), 50-75 gallons of water (we are a thirsty and clean lot), cases of "C" rats, stoves, clothes, stereos, Claymores, LAWs, extra Ma Duces, barrels, M-60s, two or three radios per track. I cannot begin to think of all the stuff we had on board. Sometimes we had to throw out the jokers in the decks of cards just to make weight going over some of those VN bridges. (courtesy of Bill Mauldin)

Then LT [now LTC] Dave Tooker's M113 ACAV with 106mm recoilless rifle "road-block blaster"

Consider the pictures of the Vietnamese M113s that I sent you (see above) one with a 106MM recoilless rifle mounted on the top. It truly is a multi-functional piece of equipment, and so simple that even a grunt could figure it out. Trouble is, it's got moving parts, and goes faster than 4 MPH, so they are scared of it. Most grunts don't like to take both feet off the ground at the same time (Paratroops are the exception). We even had one 113 with an M106 mounted low on the right side. That one in the background has it mounted pretty high up, I wouldn't want to be onboard when they shot it. Ours was pretty good for blowing ambushes and running roadblocks. The backblast was shielded by the track, and you aimed the track where you wanted it to go. The muzzle was right even with the front of the track. Usually it was the shock effect we were after, anyway, not salvo firing. I don't know what they would do with the one in the picture. You couldn't be anywhere near the muzzle when it fired, and the backblast was fierce, too.

What we did was hang one off the right side of the vehicle with about ten inches of stand off so you could work the breech. This was when We (5/60(M), 9th ID) were operating in the Delta, with almost no brush busting. When we went to II Corps, tactics changed, a whole lot. You simply pointed the track at the target, lowered or raised the muzzle and squeezed of the round I think we had it bore sighted at 200 YDS, so not much playing around. Reloading was over the side, back at the end of the "crew hatch." The muzzle was in front of the track sprocket so all the flash and bang was away from the riders (we always rode on top see attached pictures).

Reloading was slow.

In the one in the web site, they are going to shoot from the top of the track, and they have to deal with both windage and elevation. Way too complex. It looks like they are going to use it for real direct-fire artillery. It's also a dangerous weapon to use if you aren't careful. I liked our config better, because it worked for a bunch of slow thinking and undereducated infantry types. When we had roadblocks we would simply blast into them with a little HEP and maybe a canister round, and it was all gone.

The ARVN had the 106 set up sort of like the one in the website, but theirs is a bit farther forward. I never saw one shot from up there, so I can't comment on its usefulness. In a firefight, I would not want to be clearing my backblast area, shooting over the heads of my guys, and trying to direct an attack all at the same time. If it's side mounted, you point and shoot. Yes, it's limited, but what you want is a lot of bang and gee-whiz sh happening right now, and the 106 will do it in trump spades.

We got the worst a kicking when our BN CDR ( freshly minted 05 from Benning) made us park our tracks and act like foot troops without armor support. An NVA Division scored 10% against our BN in 20 days. He got relieved, so did the BDE CDR.

Any backyard mechanic can work on a M113, not so on a M1 or a Brad. I would think also not so on the LAV with it's compoundcomplex drive system. Like I said, I have a bunch of stories about operating in paddies, jungle and even some MOUT. I started out not wanting to like it, wanted to be a "real tanker" with real tanks, but after being a cav plt leader with 10 M113s and three M48A3s, I changed my tune. I learned to hate those tanks and love the M113s".



Other Army Light Infantry units adopted M113s into their ranks, Eric Bergerud writes about the 25th Light Infantry Division "Tropic Lightnings" in his superb book, Red Thunder, Tropic Lightning: the world of a combat division in Vietnam, 1993, Penguin books, NY pages 67-71:

Lee Reynolds notes that his vehicle sported an even more unusual contraption:

"Our track was equipped with two M60 machine guns, one .50-caliber machine gun, and a minigun. That meant that our track had more firepower than a walking infantry company. It took a while to get it cranked up, but when it was cranked up, it was devastating. The enemy did not want to get into contact with us because of our firepower. The other tracks were similarly equipped. Every track had at least two M60s and a .50-caliber. At least one track in a company had a minigun; also, one would have a Super Duper. A Super Duper is based on an M79 grenade launcher, which fires a 40mm explosive shell with a kill radius of about 5 meters: a pretty devastating weapon by itself. The Super Duper was an advanced version that fired the same shell automatically, with the shells fed with a belt like a machine gun. Every line company had 81mm mortars, and our headquarters company had a 4.2-inch mortar. We also had flamethrowers, which were tracks with an 800-gallon napalm tank inside. We had one hit with mines and incoming rounds, but we never had one explode, even when pressurized. That would have been really something if it did, but it never happened. We also had an M42 tank equipped with a dual 40mm cannon that fired automatically. These are similar to the 40mm anti-aircraft gun used by the Navy in World War II. Of course, in training, I'd never seen anything like it. At night, it was very impressive. Sometimes at night, when we were in the boonies away from everybody, we would have a "mad minute," which was announced on the radio. Everybody would count down from 10 and fire everything we had. We put out so much firepower that you could read by the light of the tracers. It was a lot of firepower, really helpful, and gave you real peace of mind.

[The minigun referred to was an extremely powerful multi-barreled machine gun, normally mounted on aircraft and helicopters. I will cover them directly. -- EMB]

Despite all the clever modifications that turned a lightly armored bus into an ominous weapons carrier, the originally mounted .50-caliber machine gun was the track's most fearsome weapon. Too heavy for mobile field use by the infantry, the .50 was a good match for the APC. As Roger McGill recalls, his track, dangerously powered by gasoline in 1966 instead of the diesel fuel that was used later, derived its power to kill from the .50, with its great range and fierce punch:

"The real weapon of honor was the .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the M113 APC. This was a very powerful and awesome weapon. It could cut a tree in half if it was two or three football fields away. What it would do to humans was unbelievable. Every fifth round was a tracer. It was very powerful. It could be carried and used on a tripod mounted on the ground. It was very durable and easy to take apart and clean, and the barrel could also be changed when it got overheated".

One characteristic of the APC was that made it effective was the room inside, which allowed the vehicle to carry great amounts of ammunition. Automatic weapons are all excellent killing devices if they have unlimited ammunition at their disposal. When this is the case, the vehicles and men carried by them could create an intensely lethal killing zone in any area within range of their weapons. "Wall of lead" is not a cliche' but expresses something very close to literal truth if enough automatic weapons are in place and there is plenty of ammunition to fire. The problem in Vietnam, of course, was finding a target at which to fire. The lack of well-defined targets during a firefight made firepower all the more important. If one is being shot at, destroying the opponent is a splendid idea because dead men cannot harm you. In reality, however, it was almost as good to drive off the enemy: They may get another shot at you tomorrow, but for today, you have made it through.

Track crewman Eddie Madaris, who was in Vietnam in late 1967 through Tet, saw the war turn more violent and the demand for his weapon grow. He does not boast in his analysis of the APC's usefulness:

"The use of tracks was outstanding strategy. They did quite well in jungles, rice paddies (especially in the dry season), and on the roads. You could move the troops quite rapidly, and you had firepower with the .50s and the grenade launchers and all of the ammo. They afforded comfort to the troops: Sometimes, you were able to sleep in them. There were times when you didn't want to sleep in them. There were times when you didn't want to sleep in them because you were exposed to the profile of the ground. They were excellent for securing villages and guarding convoys. They were one of the supreme weapons, along with the artillery".

Jim Ross served on a relatively unmodified track in 1970 and recalls the great amount of ammunition they carried for the infantrymen that accompanied them:

"In addition to our own ammo, we carried maybe 15,000 rounds of M16 rifle ammunition, boxes of C4 stick explosive, boxes of hand grenades, and boxes of flares. We had a lot of everything on each of those APCs. If we had to, we could dig in and go the long term".

There were countless times in the war when the ability of the APC to, as Ross puts it, "go the long term" saved 25th Division units from annihilation. However, the APC was also vulnerable to a number of problems. First of all, as critics had foreseen, any armored vehicle is hard to maintain. Dennis Casola joined his track in January 1968, just in time for the Tet Offensive, during which the APCs had importance and were used with desperate abandon. As he remembers: "Operations never quit. We'd drive the tracks into the motor pool and tell them what was wrong with them.

"In the field, we were a lot better off having tracked vehicles than were the leg infantry. When they slept at night, they slept in a hold that they dug, if they could without getting into too much water. But we had the tracks, so we could sleep on them, or near them, plus it was easy to heat your C rations".

The APCs played a vital role in beating back the Front's great year-long General Offensive during 1968 - 1969. Larry Fontana served in the infantry during the nearly forgotten but bitter battle pitting the 25th Division and ARVN Ranger units against a large NVA offensive directed at the city of Tay Ninh. Frightened that it was a feint aimed at drawing U.S. units away from Saigon, Fontana and his comrades, though seriously outnumbered, fought a desperate battle. It proved to be one of the classic conventional military campaigns of the war, and when the smoke had cleared, the 25th had stood their ground and smashed their well-trained and highly motivated opposition. APCs played a pivotal role, and infantryman Fontana describes operating with them:

"I found being in a rifle company was different than being with a mechanized unit. You're relatively bullet-shy when all you've got between the enemy and yourself are the buttons on your shirt. We worked with a company of armored personnel carriers for two weeks around Trang Bang. These guys were confident and aggressive, and after a while, I could see why. Their type of fighting was so different from ours. When fired on, the tracks and infantry wheeled toward the enemy and charged right into them, machine guns blazing. If we tried that, we'd get murdered! Those APCs were real confidence builders. Unlike us "legs," these guys had plenty of water and food in their tracks. After we split up two weeks later, I never felt so naked and humble in my life. I would have accepted a transfer, no questions asked, in less than a second, to be with a mech outfit".

Its self-evident that in Vietnam, the U.S. Army had the world's greatest all-purpose combat force in its 2D ground and 3D Air Cavalry when the 11th ACR and the 1st Air Cav teamed up to fight.


"Find the bastards, and pile on!" by Jim Dietz


One APC from Tm RENNER hit an AT mine 200 meters east of Psn ROSE. No casualties were sustained; however, the vehicle had to be evacuated due to the extent of damage.

A med evac track of Tm RENNER hit an AT mine on Psn ROSE at 1120 that blew one track off and damaged the road wheel. No casualties were sustained and the vehicle was evacuated.

Two APC's from Tm Renner hit AT mines at 1230 while searching Psn ROSE, causing moderate damage to the APC's and three minor WIA's, who were treated and remained with the unit.

At 1520, the TF VTR hit an AT mine vic XT 640223, causing moderate damage to the track; however, no casualties were sustained.

One APC from Co A, 1/5th Mech hit an AT mine vic XT 640227. Extensive damage was done to the right track; however, no casualties were sustained.

Another APC from Tm RENNER hit an AT mine vic XT 666225 at 1825, causing minor damage to the track. The vehicle was repaired and placed into action. A tank of Tm GUTZMAN, while towing a damaged tank, hit an AT mine at 1833, causing minor damage to the track. Tm RENNER killed one VC at 1834 who emerged from a hole and threw a grenade at an APC vic XT 639217

Two command detonated mines were set off against one of Tm RENNER's APC's vic XT 643219 at 0803 hours. No damage was done to the track and the unit commenced a chase attempting to overrun the VC.

One M88 and eight M113's became inoperable. The M88 and five M113's were disabled due to a combination of mines and mechanical failure. The M88 and five of the M113's were returned to duty during the operation. All three of the M113's not returned to duty were disabled due to combat damage.


Phil West points out:

"The Communists realised that the Allies were increasing the use of armour so had to rethink their strategy. It has since been calculated that it took seven RPG hits on a M113 to obtain one penetration. Hits themselves were only reached once in every eight to ten rounds fired! For each penetration only 0.8 casualties on average occurred. so the myth of the RPG is not founded."

And that's at Vietnam-era armour levels! Put on applique' armor IDF-style and you've got a very RPG protective, small, fleeting target to hit.


Amazing what these 1,700 Gavins in Iraq are doing as-is without a dime of attention from the Army while it pours money down the rotten Stryker hole with 56 GDLS civilian contractors working overtime at 0,000-a-year salaries to keep 300 wheeled lemons running in a quiet part of Iraq. These 300 surviving Stryker lemons already need over 1 MILLION in repairs after just one sheltered tour of duty in Northern Iraq. What we could do if we up-armored deserving M113 Gavins instead of wasting billions on bullshit Strykers is clearly presented on this web page. Please read further.

If this had been a Stryker its air-filled rubber tires eager to burn would have sent the vehicle up in flames. Kind of like how this Stryker in Mosul (see photo above) which was torched when its dismounts left it alone and blind along a restricted piece of terrain.

However, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the institutional Army without visionary, thinker-doer, 2D/3D maneuver, egalitarian lead-by-example leaders like General Gavin to guide it, threw away the never-equalled combat cavalry capabilities of the 11th ACR and forced her many combat vets out of the service to enhance the careers of the heavy tankers in Europe who didn't see action in Vietnam and then tried to throw away their trusty mounts--- their light tracked M113s---in order to return to heavy tank destroyer dueling in Europe against the impending Soviet tank Army invasion. The Army should have developed the tracked tank even under a "quasi-Armored" branch---along two general paths; 2D "heavy" for armor versus armor combat and 3D "light" for a continuation of the Air/Ground Cavalry ethos through the 2nd, 3rd and 11th separate ACRs and a triple capability (TRICAP) 1st Cavalry Division instead of heavying up over 6 divisions and playing around with not-sound-for-combat, rubber-tired wheeled dune buggies in the 9th High Technology Test Bed Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Army already had the world's best rapidly C-130 air-deployable ground cavalry force in its M113A3 Gavin ACAV type units, it just needed to apply this force structure into the XVIII Airborne Corps via parachute forced-entry for the 82nd Airborne Division and up-engine its CH-47 Chinook helicopters to transport these light tracks for the 101st Air Assault Division. Unfortunately, Army decision-makers made a serious mistake in their analysis of the 1973 Yom Kippur War thinking the lesson learned was to just create very heavy tanks to survive at the platform-versus-platform level of combat; when the truth is that the Israelis overcame the enemy's surveillance strike system by COMBINING ARMS CAVALRY-STYLE via reorganized units and having a 3D air maneuver element project forces across the Suez Canal (water barrier).

However, fighting a foe like the Soviets---essentially a mirror image of ourselves---is a lot easier in a top-down, blind obedience outfit than trying to outfight the wily and asymmetric VC/NVA in Vietnam or Arabs crossing the Suez Canal in a surprise offensive, which requires decentralized warfighting and trust and confidence in junior officers and enlistedmen. That the 11th ACR M113 light tracked ACAV-type units in Vietnam succeeded and beat the enemy in Vietnam at their own "asymmetric game" yet the Army leaders of the time unwisely refused to continue this formula for success is inexcusable.

After making an American version of the WWII German heavy Tiger II 70-ton defensive tank (M1), Armor officers without a real branch doctrinal purpose decided they needed "security guards" so their tanks were not ambushed as they had to rearm/refuel constantly to feed their turbine engines and their main gun ammo to kill enemy tanks and collect notches on their gun tubes. Therefore, the Army created the "Bradley" machine gun, infantry-carrying 25-33 ton tank. Fed by paranoia about survivability against massed Soviet weapons fires, they doubled the M113 aluminum alloy armor hull thickness to get heavy machine gun protection and slapped a 2-man turret with 25mm cannon, 7.62mm medium machine gun and TOW anti-tank missiles---basically all the weaponry types they wanted for the Fulda Gap fight but couldn't fit onto the M1s which were maxed-out carrying tank-killing 105mm and later 120mm guns/ammo. In the process, they created an infantry carrier that cannot fly by C-130 or Army helicopters to get to a global fight in a hurry, cannot swim, cannot travel off-road without trepidation, is a huge target and can only carry 6-7 dismounts who are buttoned up deaf and blind in the back and cannot fight mounted like troops in M113s can. If the Army had listened to armored vehicle engineers they would have realized adding applique' armor to M113s with bigger engines would have achieved RPG-level protection without smothering vehicle air-transportability, swim capability and cross-country performance. Indeed, the stereotypical non-Airborne, non-Air Assault 2D "Legs" had taken over the Army and ruined it with a lust to fight wars in safe armored "cocoons" learning the wrong lessons from the 1973 Yom Kippur war----which is that MANEUVER through MOBILITY is the key to victory.

To make matter worse, the Army created the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle version of the M2 BFV simply to boost production numbers and soak up more budget share from Congress during the Reagen-era build-up. The M3 CFV and its brother, the M2 are not certified for parachute airdrop nor fly efficiently inside USAF C-17s to be airlanded---only 2 BFVs can fly at a time---the same disappointing number of less-capable but equally larged-sized 20-24 ton LAV-III/IAV "Stryker" armored cars that can fly at a time.

Clearly, the U.S. Army made a mistake with the overweight M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle and should have instead at the very least continued the 11th ACR Vietnam ACAV-type force structure by upgrading M113s into highly air/sea/land mobile cavalry platforms guaranteeing that Army light forces had forced-entry armored firepower as well as an all-purpose combat and reconnaissance screening force for heavy units. Fortunately the Army's M1 and M2/M3 "cash cows" were so expensive and they could not afford to equip every unit, so the many M113s were transferred to the combat support units in an Army Heavy Division, constituting 50% of all its vehicles and insuring the vehicles are updated regularly. Thus, the Army is in a unique position today to correct a mistake it make in the early 1980s and create a global Cavalry and Combat Engineering tank force using available M113s, if the fatal replay of the bloated Bradley, the 20-24 ton LAV-III is cancelled as the Interim Armored Vehicle.

Fortunately, today, U.S. Army officers are being led by world events to rediscover the capabilities and enduring design requirements of the mighty M113A3 which now serves with the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade in Europe as a C-130 air-transportable rapid-reaction force. IDF M113s are again saving the day in the fight against global terrorism while the sexy air-filled rubber SUV-tired armored cars stay home away from the rough neighborhoods of combat and beg for more and more tax dollars to fix their endless faults.

NO! Burned-out Malaysian Condor after the October 3, 1993 firefight


Lightfighters used M113, M551 light AFVs to overwhelm the enemy decisivelyYES! Victorious M113A2 Gavin during the 1989 Airborne invasion of Panama


"At 1700 19 December, the Soldiers of "B" Company 4-6th Infantry were briefed on the details of the plan to secure the Commandancia. The leaders knew they would have to maneuver through the city to reach their objectives and anticipated heavy resistance from the Panama Defense Forces (PDF). Photos and actual reconnaissance to the area revealed multi-story buildings along "B" Co's axis of advance. The PDF would be able to use these buildings as defensive positions and engage the vehicles moving down the street. To provide added protection for the infantry riding in the open cargo hatches, squad leaders supervised the sandbagging of vehicles. Sandbags were piled three deep on the tops of the M113A2s. As "B" Co crossed its line of departure and moved along its axis of advance, it was met with small-arms and anti-armor fires. The infantry engaged the targets and eventually suppressed them. When crews examined their vehicles, they found that the sandbags had absorbed several hits from small arms and shrapnel, saving several Soldiers from serious injury."

M113 Gavins air-deployed to Panama during the Operation NIMROD DANCER Build-up

"On Ancon Hill, the M113s were already started and running. M551 Sheridans were in positions overlooking the Commandancia while attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship were positioning themselves to support with direct fire. At 20 0045 Dec, the mechanized infantry of "B" Company 4-6 Inf (M) crossed the line of departure (LD) and was almost immediately confronted by a roadblock and heavy small-arms fire. Simultaneously, the M551s and Special Operations aircraft opened fire on targets of opportunity within the Commandancia complex. After an intense firefight, the M113A2s were able to break through the roadblocks and move to blocking positions which sealed off the large complex. Systematically, the Soldiers of the 5-87th Infantry began breaching holes in the outer wall and clearing the outer buildings. It would be almost 24 hours before the complex was completely cleared. It required a determined assault to break the enemy's defenses....

"The M113, M551 Sheridan and HMMWV performed well, often exceeding expectations. The M113 proved to be an excellent vehicle in MOUT. Infantry firing from the open cargo hatch, in conjunction with the pintle-mounted .50-cal machinegun, were easily able to engage targets on roof tops and maintain 360-degree surveillance as they moved through the city. The M551 in support of light infantry was a very effective gun system. It provided direct fire support from overwatch positions and blew entry holes in buildings for infantry assaults. Both the M113 and the M551 were very useful at roadblocks and for fire-power demonstrations."

---U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned, Operation Just Cause, Combat Vehicles and Heavy/Light/SOF integration

The amazing M113---named "Gavin" Airborne Armored Fighting Vehicle after the legendary Paratrooper General James M. Gavin who foretold of its creation as an air-droppable AFV in 1947. The M113A3, with increased engine power to make it faster than even the M2 Bradley IFV, spall liners, applique' armor, external fuel cells and ACAV gun shields for the troop commander to fire .50 cal or MK-19 40mm autogrenade launchers and larger weapons like the M40A2 106mm Recoilless Rifle behind cover is exactly what we need today in a world rapidly urbanizing that has to be reached quickly by AIR by a power-projection U.S. Army.

"The M113 was a very effective gun platform, armored troop carrier, evacuation and roadblock vehicle. The cargo hatch in the rear allowed troops with body armor to conduct 360-degree surveillance and engage snipers on rooftops. Its interior was large enough to be an efficient evacuation vehicle for noncombatant evacuation (NEO) and medical purposes. Mechanized units positioned concertina wire at specific points on the vehicle and perfected drills to emplace roadblocks quickly."

Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama City, December 1989

Lawrence A. Yates

Along with the harbor and airports, Downing's JSOTF had another mission in Panama City, a highly sensitive one. Timed to coincide with the attack on the comandancia, the operation involved elite assault forces freeing an American citizen incarcerated in the carcel modelo, a prison compound across the street from the PDF headquarters.

As executed, most of the rescue mission went according to plan: the assault force "neutralized" the PDF guards and, after extracting the American from his cell, placed him aboard an AH-6 helicopter on the roof of the jail. But as the chopper lifted off, it was hit by PDF fire and crashed into the street below, resulting in injuries to all aboard save the civilian. Quickly, three M113 [Gavin] armored personnel carriers (APCs) arrived on the scene to scoop up the men and rush them to safety.[25]

The M113s had been waiting nearby in case they were needed. They belonged to TF Gator, the conventional force charged with conducting the main H-Hour assault on the comandancia. The PDF headquarters, three stories high and made of concrete and reinforced steel, was the largest of ten buildings within a walled compound and had always been viewed by BLUE SPOON planners as the most critical of the organization's command, control, and communications nodes. One problem in mounting an attack on the compound was that it was located near the downtown area in el chorrillo, a poor and crowded barrio with narrow and erratic streets, buildings of various sorts and sizes (including a sixteen-story high-rise right behind the comandancia), and significant vehicular traffic, even late at night.

A subordinate element of Task Force Bayonet, TF Gator was led by Lieutenant Colonel James Reed, the commander of the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized).26 It was no accident that the battalion, which had rotated into Panama as part of the ongoing show of force President Bush had initiated earlier in the year, belonged to the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), a unit still equipped with the M113 APC. In the narrow streets and constricted terrain of downtown Panama City, U.S. planners believed, the M113's size held an advantage over that of its replacement in the Army's inventory, the larger Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Two of Reed's companies, B and D, formed the core of TF Gator. The plan called for them to set up a series of squad- and platoon-size blocking positions around the carcel modelo and comandancia compounds, designated A and B, respectively (see Map 4).

Meanwhile, Company C, 1st Battalion, 508th Regiment (Airborne), a unit attached to TF Gator from USARSO's 193rd Brigade, was to secure and clear the buildings behind the PDF headquarters in the vicinity of the high-rise. From intelligence reports, Reed knew that the ratio of American troops PDF at the comandancia would be at best 1:1 (350 U.S. to 390 PDF). Conventional wisdom, however, holds that to guarantee a successful assault, the attacker to defender ratio should be at least 3:1 and preferably higher, 4:1 or 5:1, in UO.

To compensate for the manpower shortfall, Reed, as noted, had operational control of four LAVs [25mm small autocannon on turrets] and four Sheridans [152mm large main guns on turrets] for fire support. He could also count on two AC-130s [105mm, 40mm cannon] overhead, as well as AH-6 [2.75" rockets] attack helicopters. Rounding out the task force were two MP platoons (for placing roadblocks around the combat zone), an engineer platoon broken down into 2-3 man demolition teams, and a PSYOPs team. With this force, Reed planned to isolate and pound the PDF headquarters, after which U.S. troops could enter the compound to clear the buildings. Because of the SOF-led rescue mission at the carcel modelo across from the comandancia, TF Gator would begin its attack under Downing's operational control. (The transfer of control from TF Bayonet to the JSOTF took place on Monday, well in advance of the operation.)27

As a result of a repositioning of units on the Saturday night Lt. Paz was killed, Reed had both of his mechanized companies on the east bank of the Canal, the same side as the comandancia. D was at Fort Clayton, B a few miles to the south at Corozal. Shortly before the attack, he brought the LAVs and Sheridans-labeled Team Armor-over to the east bank as well. Last-minute preparations included hydrating the troops for combat in a tropical clime, getting intelligence updates (which indicated the PDF knew the attack was coming), and applying glint tape to uniforms and equipment and disseminating passwords. Both of these latter measures were designed to reduce the risk of friendly fire, an overriding concern U.S. commanders shared throughout the theater of operations, but especially in the congested area of the comandancia.

The decision to move H-Hour ahead by fifteen minutes caused some adjustment but little disruption to TF Gator's schedule as it set out toward the target. When Team Armor reached Ancon Hill, it moved out of formation and took up firing positions on the hillside overlooking the compound. Company B settled in briefly near to Quarry Heights and waited for Company D to move into position around Balboa Avenue. Once that was done, both companies advanced in M113s toward their blocking positions. Meanwhile, Company C, 1/508, moved dismounted into the built-up area adjacent to the compound. The entire task force was now committed to the attack, a fact that caused Reed some concern. TF Gator had no combat reserve. If additional forces were needed, they would have to come from the reserve controlled by Colonel Mike Snell at brigade level, that is, at TF Bayonet.

As B and D companies set out, they immediately saw that the PDF had put its advance knowledge of the invasion to good use. Well before the two units reached their positions, they encountered roadblocks covered by intense small-arms and RPG fire, especially from the built-up area and high-rise apartment building. Reconnaissance by U.S. Special Forces had discovered a couple of the roadblocks, but a third had gone undetected. The worst was one that stacked heavy dump trucks two deep. In trying to negotiate the obstacles, both columns stalled, with Company B suffering one fatality, a corporal who was killed while providing suppressive fire against the PDF. Innocent bystanders also paid a price, as M113s, in going over vehicles in their way, could not always distinguish between empty cars and those with civilians inside.

As the columns approached the comandancia, the battle became more heated. The AC-130s and AH-6s pounded the compound, and to those watching, the 105mm howitzers of the Spectre gunships seemed to be pulverizing the main headquarters building. In reality, the damage inflicted, while extensive, was restricted largely to the top floor, the howitzer rounds failing to penetrate to the second and first floors before detonating.28 From Ancon Hill, Team Armor also opened fire, although some of the vehicles found their line of sight to the comandancia obscured either by trees on the hill or by the smoke, fire, and debris that soon engulfed the target. Consequently, the teams impact on the early part of the battle was marginal. Once Reed realized this, he moved some of the M551s off Ancon Hill, giving one to each of the two companies assaulting the PDF complex.[29] From their new positions, the Sheridans were much more effective against the compound's walls and defences.

All of the U.S. assault force initially encountered heavy firing from the compound and the built-up area around it, especially from the 16-story high-rise apartment building. Restricted somewhat by ROE designed to limit civilian casualties, the Americans generally showed remarkable discipline in returning fire, although on occasion, they could not refrain from unleashing indiscriminate suppressive fires on the assumption that, after a certain point, no uninvolved civilian would be so foolish as to stand on a balcony and risk certain injury in order to observe a war.

It took an hour for Company B in the north to secure its positions, and an hour or so longer for Company D in the south. At one point in the fighting, an AH-6 was shot down, landing inside the comandancia compound. The pilot and copilot managed to get out of the craft, hide out, then make their way to a segment of the wall, climb over, and scurry to the American lines, shouting something en route that sounded more like profanity than the password. They both made it to safety, narrowly escaping a tailor-made opportunity to become friendly fire victims. One mechanized platoon, however, was not so fortunate. As it approached the compound, one of the AC-130s tracking PDF V-300s changed the target acquisition system on the gunship in order to obtain a better image. When the gunner reacquired the target, it was the wrong one, not the V-300s, but U.S. M113s. The AC-130 hit all three of the platoon's APCs and wounded 21 of 26 of their occupants. Miraculously, no one was killed, but the unit had been put out of action. Reed had a fire support officer located with the JSOTF, and when it became apparent what was happening, communication with the AC-130 ended the firing before further damage could be inflicted. But the fears of a major friendly fire incident in a congested urban area had been realized.[30]

While this was going on, Company C, 1/508, was waiting for word to enter and clear the comandancia compound. But Reed never issued the order. In the meantime, heavy sniper fire and grenades rained down on the company, resulting in the death of three Soldiers. After that, the unit pulled back to a safer area.

Shortly before dawn, the shooting had been reduced to sporadic sniper fire. At 0430, TF Bayonet resumed operational control of TF Gator from the JSOTF. Remaining was the task of clearing the buildings. Reed had not issued the order to Company C, 1/508, to start the procedure because, after talking to Col. Snell, the TF Bayonet commander, he had decided to await the arrival of a Ranger company from the Torrijos-Tocumen operation to lead the effort. Reed felt that the Rangers had more expertise and experience in clearing rooms than did his mechanized troops, despite their pre-JUST CAUSE UO training. The company arrived around noon on the 20th. With the support of Apache helicopters requested by Reed and a platoon of TF Gator troops covering them from the roof of a nearby gymnasium, the Rangers began clearing the prison and other facilities in compound A and then moved on to buildings in compound B, which included the comandancia itself.

Why a M113 Gavin-based STUG Assault Gun is Needed

Aerospace Operations in Urban Environments: Exploring New Concepts

By: Alan J. Vick, John Stillion, David R. Frelinger, Joel Kvitky, Benjamin S. Lambeth, Jefferson P. Marquis, Matthew Waxman


"In Panama, the Hellfire missile launched from the AH-64 Apache helicopter proved ineffective against the steel-reinforced walls of La Commandancia.[25]"

Company C, 1/508, joined in. By late afternoon on the 20th, the area was secure. TF Gator had lost four Soldiers killed in action (KIA) and had had several more wounded. PDF casualties were unknown, but assumed to be substantial. Hindering an accurate account was the fact that few of the PDF fighting at the comandancia wore uniforms. Leaving a platoon to secure the PDF headquarters and its contents, TF Gator engaged in several follow-on operations. These included helping Navy SEALS clear Flamenco Island, securing a Panamanian television station near the Ancon DENI, and, potentially most challenging, securing the San Filipe DENI station without harming one of its occupants, a PDF colonel who was also a U.S. intelligence "asset." Reed wondered how he would extract the colonel if a firefight erupted while the officer was still inside the DENI. His speculation ended, however, when U.S. units arrived at the DENI to find that the PDF, with the exception of the colonel, had fled.

Looking back on the battle at the comandancia, Reed reached several conclusions. One concerned the proven value of the M113 APC in UO. Planners had wanted the M113 because of its size and, in case civilians needed to be evacuated from certain areas, its interior capacity. To these attributes, Reed added the vehicle's freewheeling .50-caliber machine gun that could be trained on the upper stories of high-rise buildings and used much more readily for suppressive fire than the Bradley's more precise 25mm cannon. He also noted that infantry in the M113 could stand and fire from the troop compartment without obstruction (in contrast with the Bradley, where they could only do so only with the turret on top pointed to the front).

While Reed praised the M113, he was lukewarm regarding the performance of Team Armor's Sheridans and LAVs from their positions on Ancon Hill. The noise and debris created by the Sheridans did have a psychological value at the outset of the fighting, he argued, and once the clearing operations got underway that afternoon, both the Sheridans and LAVs helped to suppress sniper fire. But neither of the vehicles had created much physical damage from Ancon Hill during the nighttime assault, although the Sheridans Reed pulled out of position to assign to companies B and D proved very effective against the compound walls. As for the AC-130s, he conceded that they were highly accurate and could bring devastating supporting fires to bear, a tremendous asset if they hit the right target. That they did so most of the time at the comandancia was offset by the one serious incident of friendly fire.

Other key observations offered by TF Gator dealt with a variety of issues. U.S. snipers, Reed believed, had been too constrained by the ROE, thus limiting their effectiveness against the PDF snipers who bedeviled the task force. The fact that few PDF fought in uniform also created a dilemma for U.S. troops under strict orders to avoid civilian casualties. What was a legitimate target and when to shoot at it was not always clear, although no friendly KIAs could be attributed to any indecision by the troops as to when to use deadly force. During the battle, Reed also realized that his medical station was too far away from the fighting, so he approved setting up an intermediate one closer to the battle. Finally, as will be seen, TF Gator was not prepared to cope either with the large number of refugees that appeared at dawn on 20 December or with the widespread looting in Panama City that followed within days.

The battle for the comandancia saw some of the fiercest fighting to occur during Operation JUST CAUSE. With a force-to-force ratio of 1:1 at best, TF Gator could not afford to find itself outflanked by PDF reinforcements. As Reed put it, "I had no ability within my own resources to fight the deep battle . . . ." That being the case, the Rangers, the 82nd Airborne brigade, marines, and Special Forces were to block any enemy forces coming in from distant locations. That left PDF personnel in the immediate vicinity of Ancon Hill to worry about. To make sure that none of these forces interfered in the battle downtown was largely the responsibility of Task Force Wildcat, another task-organized unit within Task Force Bayonet.31

VICTORY: Noriega Captured Within Days: M113 Gavins, M551 Sheridans PYSOPS and Delta Force Surround Him in Papal NUncio Building

29. Reed also provided two LAVs, one Sheridan, and six M113s to the JSOTF so that SOF elements would have a small task force to assist in the extrication of American personnel from the U.S. embassy. The problem for Reed, however, was that once relinquished he did not see the vehicles again for several days.

"...the U.S. Army has fielded the world's heaviest and most thickly armored tank and infantry fighting vehicle combination: the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank and the 30-ton M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. These vehicles are designed almost exclusively for dueling with other armored vehicles. The M1 mounts a massive 120mm high-velocity direct-fire cannon and the M2 Bradley carries a high-velocity 25mm auto cannon and direct-fire heavy anti-tank missiles.

The M1 tank's weight and limited main gun elevation (just 20 degrees) reduce its effectiveness in the urban, mountainous and wet terrain typically found in potential theaters of operation such as Korea. Heavy armor often requires extensive engineer assistance to cross natural and man-made obstacles. For example, it took three days of intense bridging efforts to get M1 tanks across the Sava River in Bosnia. Finally, the heavy division, with limited infantry and helicopters, is seldom tasked for operations other than war because it has difficulty projecting presence beyond road networks or valleys."

Military Review, March-April 1997, Air-Mech Strike: Revolution in Maneuver Warfare by Major Charles A. Jarnot, U.S. Army

Since its Light Forces that lead the way into battle and stability operations like in Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Somalia it behooves us to use the 10.5-ton M113A3 in lieu of road-bound, unarmored 22,000 lbs 2.5/5 ton FMTV trucks in a designated Airborne Infantry Battalion or a separate Tracked Assault Battalion in each of the 3 x Ready Brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division are vital for it to have SHOCK ACTION coming from the Drop Zone (DZ) to secure a forced-entry under possible surveillance strike complex forces. The M113A3 with its top troop hatch is an ideal way to employ the 50 pound Javelin "fire & forget" Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) using shoot 'n scoot tactics instead of trying to march with them long distances. The Javelin's forward looking infared (FLIR) seeker can detect mines ahead for the M113A3 to avoid them and detect the enemy in AFVs or on foot first---to be engaged by Javelins and/or the Airborne infantry inside or the M113A3's .50 cal or 40mm Mk-19 autogrenade launcher.

The larger 33-ton Bradley IFV is cramped with just 6-7 dismounts who are enclosed and cannot fight from their vehicle in this way, the same mistake the Russians made in Grozny. The BFV's gun system driving training focus results in dismount infantry acting as "security guards for tanks" not acting as a separate maneuver element--the same mistake the Russians made earlier in Afghanistan when they couldn't defeat the guerrillas who were in positional advantage up the side of steep mountains. The smaller 11-ton M113A3 can carry a FULL 9-13 man infantry dismount squad that can see heads out of the top troop hatch situationally aware, with weapons ready-to-fire. Applique' armor protects the M113A3 from heavy machinegun and RPG fire.


The 82nd Airborne Division and its Riggers can airdrop 3 x M113A3s at a time from the C-17 Globemaster III, or 1 at a time followed by its complete 9-13 man Paratrooper squad from the plentiful C-130 Hercules. In fact, a Wiesel 2 Air-Mech-Strike vehicle and its 7-man squad can fly with a M113A3 Gavin, too! The bloated 20-24 ton LAV-III/IAV "Stryker" rubber-tired armored car cannot be STOL airlanded or parachute airdropped by C-130s and can only fly two-at-a-time in a C-17--the same number of more capable tracked Bradleys that can fly in a C-17! The LAV-III/IAV is way too heavy for a CH-47D/F helicopter to ever lift it and has axle pressures too heavy for cargo 747s---its a mobility dud...not C-130 transportable...not efficiently C-17 transportable, not helicopter transportable, not cargo 747 transportable---it "strikes" out, no wonder why we call it the "Striker".

8 x M113A3 Gavins can fly in a C-5A/B Galaxy, 5 x M113A3s can be airlanded at-a-time from a C-17 Globemaster III, 2 x M113A3s plus troops in a C-141B Starlifter, and 1 plus troops from a C-130 Hercules. In war emergency, 2 x M113A3s can fly in a C-130. The M113A3 is simple to operate with a steering wheel and can be operated effectively with little additional training by any U.S. Army infantry squad. The M113A3 swims without preparation, is light on paved roads/highways and doesn't need a transporter to move around; is in use by over 30 allied countries, spare parts are cheap and available, can be lifted by heavy lift CH-47D/F Chinook helicopters by sling-load to any place we want on the battlefield. M113A3 Gavins are cargo 747 air-transportable to provide U.S. Army World-wide Strategic Operational Maneuver (AWSOM) capabilities to deny possible enemy anti-access strategies and achieve decisive MANEUVER that defeats enemies not just hopes for firepower bombardment to make them cry "uncle". "Hope is not a method" according to former Army Chief of Staff, retired General Gordon R. Sullivan.

IRAQ I, 1990-1991: M113 Gavins LEAD THE WAY

A dirty little secret of the war on Iraq in 1990-91 was that the fastest moving 2D ground formation, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), was lead not by 70-ton M1 tanks that needed to constantly stop to refuel, nor M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles too heavy for the marshy areas by the Tigress and Euphrates rivers, but by the lighter, more mobile M113s of the 197th Infantry Brigade!

The wise military commander does not want wheeled trucks even on roads because without any cover from enemy fires you need every ounce of protection you can get. NOT ROAD SPEED which has been proven not nearly fast enough to evade a roadside bomb explosion with fragments flying at 30,000 feet per second. In open terrain you cannot afford to squander 28% of your armor potential by using rubber tire wheels. So for roads which are actually OPEN TERRAIN you need the heaviest tracked tanks with the heaviest/best armor protection possible that with steel tracks with rubber pads or rubber band tracks can travel up/down without tearing the pavement up. As said before, a light tracked cavalry should proceed this main body to make first contact with the enemy and to hold them by the nose or at the least report back and find a cross-country route via trial/error the heavier main body vehicles can take to hit the enemy in the flanks. Up-engined M113A3 Gavins are far more mobile than 33-ton Bradleys and even under-powered A2 Gavins are more mobile in closed terrains than Bradleys to be light mechanized cavalry.

This is what the M113 Gavin-based 197th Infantry Brigade did for the 24th ID in Desert Storm so well. If this is not possible, the medium to heavy tracked tanks can go up the middle and hit the enemy frontally with the best armor and firepower possible to hopefully breakthrough.

Light Tanks Lead the Way in Desert Storm: M113 Gavin 197th Light Mechanized Infantry Brigade

The 197th Brigade in M113 Gavins because of their lower ground pressure LEAD the entire force through the marshy areas that BRADLEYS COULDN'T TRAVERSE as indicated in the history narratives below which 197th IN BDE veteran NCOs told us.

Lucky War: Third Army in Desert Storm
By Richard M. Swain, 1999

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Gulf War
By Charles Jaco, 2002

Despite the clear lessons of DESERT SHIELD/STORM, we persisted with the Humvee truck scout non-sense that clearly doesn't work even though M113 Gavins that are great cavalry scout vehicles were and ARE available! The only conclusion possible is the heavy whoppertankytards are threatened by a real light mechanized cavalry so they keep 19D scouts in a crippled, wheeled truck state. Eco-nazis on garrison post don't want any trees and woodpeckers knocked over. Troops in back can't see shit or fight mounted. Infantry flees from Bradley units into the "lightfighter" narcissist orbit. Look at their 11B and 11M career paths:

Light Narcissist Career Path

Mech Pussy Career Path

Don't let this "everyone a 11B" change fool you; if you are a mech pussy, you ain't gonna go to jump school etc. you will be stuck in death-before-dismount 2nd class citizen Bradley and Stryker mech-land and motor-land.

USMC likes the Bradley so much their new AAAV/EFV amtrack will be arranged just like it. The Lightfighters without mobility gets their asses kicked in Somalia in 1993, but nothing changes. TF Hawk airlanding of heavy M1s and medium M2s is a clusterfuck and embarrrassment, so Shinseki rather than do the right and best thing, which would be supply the infantry M113 Gavin tracks, saves institutional face by pitching thinly armored trucks (LAV-III/"Strykers") aka motorized infantry as the Army's salvation for sub-national conflicts. Garrison line Infantry loves the high road speed, comfortable ride wheeled trucks because they think they will not have to spend much time on them and are then free to play their garrison BS games with gusto. No more Bradley second-class citizenship in back. Problem is that its no better than road-bound motorized TF Smith in Korea in 1950 asking to happen all over again. A future daily road ambush disaster awaits in Iraq, it happens and nothing changes.

The root cause of all of this is GARRISON.

The desire to have 19th century trappings of rank, privilege, barracks, lawns, parades, saluting, look-at-me-shoot, look-at-me-slowly-march, me-me-me subjective narcissism; all of this chokes out ANY objective, technotactical excellence.

If we do not fix this, and get rid of the 19th century military, America will not make it into the 22nd century. Maybe you are fat and happy with the way things are and the garrison BS. You think its AOK every time we go to war its always a "gee-this-is-a-new-thing-to-me" and the learning curve is measured in dead Americans in flag-draped coffins. You want to ride to the battle, have this event completely erased since its not important and focus ALL THE ATTENTION ON YOU, THE INFANTRYMAN. You have "arrived" and will now do your Civil War/WW2 re-enactment. But the one thing you better not try to do is foist yourself as a "hero" and a "patriot" or a military "professional", since you are neither. Garrison piece-of-shit is what you are and chose to be, Mr. Line Infantry.

Humvee madness: All Clinton's Fault???

Notice the BS Humvees when superior M113 Gavins were available to field an effective cavalry!

Again, brass within the Army FEAR an effective cavalry, especially a light one that could hog up "all the action" by being air-transportable.

A great find by Mark Ash!

From the 1992 DoA Historic Summary... mil/CMH/books/ DAHSUM/1992/ ch02.htm

Force cuts, from 18 to 14 division PRIOR TO BILL CLINTON EVEN BEING NOMINATED FOR PREZ!!!!!

Under the Base Force concept, the Army inactivated four divisions and one corps, reducing its strength to pre-Korean War levels. During fiscal years 1990 and 1991 the Army had inactivated the 9th Motorized Division and the 2nd Armored Division. After its return from Southwest Asia in 1991, the VII Corps was officially inactivated on 15 April 1992. The 8th Infantry Division had already disappeared from the rolls on 17 January 1992, and the 3rd Armored Division followed on 15 August 1992. During FY 1992, U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR), also lost the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which the Army planned to reorganize as a light armored cavalry regiment. During the fourteen months prior to May 1992, the V Corps, USAREUR's major combat corps, lost fifty-six battalions and thirty-seven company-size units. The Army thus reduced its end strength in Europe by 72,500 men, close to 200 Soldiers per day, during FY 1992.

About the 2nd ACR going "light"...

Light Cavalry Regiment

In response to the lessons of DESERT STORM, the Department of the Army in September 1991 directed TRADOC to design a light cavalry regiment. The Chief of Staff had approved the concept and the reorganization of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light) using the assets of the 199th Separate Infantry Brigade (Motorized). The 2nd would serve as the light cavalry regiment for the XVIII Airborne Corps and also as the Joint Readiness Training Center's operational force. In April 1992, TRADOC prepared two designs for a light cavalry regiment. An interim design envisioned 4,354 troopers in three ground squadrons, one equipped with M1 tanks, one with M113A3 armored personnel carriers, and one with M113 armored personnel carriers with Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire command link-guided (TOW) antitank missile systems. It also called for a regimental aviation squadron containing forty-eight multiple-purpose light helicopters (MPLH).

The Army Staff and FORSCOM expressed concern about the interim design. Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), told TRADOC to reduce the light cavalry regiment to less than 4,100 officers and men, to drop the number of helicopters from forty-eight to thirty-six, and to include only one type of gun in the organization for field artillery. The regiment would use High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) with TOW until the Army fielded the armored gun system. The revised design contained 3,922 spaces in two ground squadrons, a reconnaissance squadron, and a regimental aviation squadron. During the summer the design underwent further alterations. On 7 August 1992, the Chief of Staff approved a transitional design of 4,017 spaces in three ground squadrons with HMMWV TOW and a regimental aviation squadron with thirty-three MPLHs and ten UH-60 helicopters. He also accepted the FY 1995 conversion.

Certainly Clinton didn't help the military that much, but most of the stupidity that was seen on his watch was inititiated on "What a Dick" Cheney and Dumsfeld's watch.

We need a MOBILE INFANTRY (defacto cavalry) if we want to defeat enemies today that are more mobile than us; its long overdue. The plains Indians could do it with 19th century technology. Its high time that our light infantry get the M113 Gavin light tanks needed to do 3D maneuver warfare over and through closed terrain to help our heavy forces in heavier tanks doing 2D maneuver warfare over open terrain. If we don't fix this and soon, forces like Hezbollah will not be just a nuisance to the Israelis in rocky southern Lebanon.

During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, M113 Gavins had to lead the way because Humvee trucks are too vulnerable and Bradleys not mobile enough--the U.S. Army already has its "Future Scout Vehicle" (FSV)--upgrading its M113s with high technology will make them even better! Everything Captain Tien wants for the FSV (shoot-on-move, stabilized weapons, thermal vision etc.) can be applied TODAY to existing M113 Gavins!

U.S. Army ARMOR Magazine - March-April 1993

The Future Scout Vehicle: A DESERT STORM Endorsement

by Captain John K. Tien

Having introduced three different scout vehicles since the 1970s, the Armor Center has outlined characteristics of the next scout vehicle designed to take U.S. Army reconnaissance into the next century. In its white paper, "Armor 2000 - A balanced Force for the Army of the Future," the Armor Center said this vehicle - the Future Scout Vehicle (FSV) - should have the following characteristics: (1) self-defense weapon; (2) high mobility; (3) lightweight body design, (4) area surveillance tools; (5) long-range communication assets; and (6) NBC countermeasures.[1] Based on my DESERT STORM experiences as an armor task force scout platoon leader, I endorse these six characteristics of the FSV, as well as advocate adding three more features to the vehicle's design: (1) a maintenance design which enables the operator to fix. forward without direct support assistance; (2) sufficient space on board for combat support and command and control assets; and (3) a built-in Identification of Friendly Force system to avoid fratricide incidents. Since the Armor Center published the paper on July 10, 1990, one month prior to the onset of Operation DESERT SHIELD, I believe I can now offer an updated and DESERT STORM-influenced endorsement of the Armor Center's concept of the Future Scout Vehicle.

The first Armor Center characteristic I endorse is the scout vehicle's self defense weapon. My scout platoon consisted of three M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers and three M901Al Improved TOW Vehicles. I had the

Given the mission of visual reconnaissance in the Gulf War, with little need to engage the enemy with heavy firepower, the author's M113s proved surprisingly adequate: Its mobility and ease of maintenance also proved to be assets.

M2 caliber .50 [heavy] machine gun, the Dragon [anti-tank guided missile] system, and AT-4s in our store of quick-reaction weapons. In the high-speed mobile warfare of DESERT STORM, the M901A1 TOW launchers were basically ineffective; neither could we shoot them on the move, nor could we afford the stationary engagement time. Thus, we could not have quickly destroyed even an enemy armored personnel carrier.

However, that was not our mission. In keeping with current doctrine, my DESERT STORM mission was to engage the enemy with visual reconnaissance and leave direct fire to other segments of the unit.

Therefore, although my platoon was limited in its direct-fire destruction capacity, my battalion commander ensured that we were part of an advance guard that could provide quick reaction tank support. Likewise, when we were screening the flank, the flank tank company provided us with similar support. When the enemy engaged us on the screen line, it was either by tanks that were to the direct front at ranges greater than 3,000 meters or by indirect fire. Clearly, given the proper support, I needed only self-defense weapons to accomplish my forward and flank screen missions.

The Armor Center cannot, however, make the characteristic of a self-defense weapon a stand-alone one. If the Armor Center wants the FSV to go deep and stay deep, it must couple its self-defense weapon with the ability to escape enemy detection or, if need be, evade enemy direct fire. They must ensure that the vehicle possesses high mobility. This [M113 Gavin] characteristic greatly contributed to my survivability on the DESERT STORM battlefield.

When our brigade fought on Medinah Ridge on 26 February 1991, our task force received enemy artillery across our flank. This artillery bracketed my scout screen line. The initial bursts hit 25 meters to both sides of three of my vehicles. Due to the high mobility of the M113-series vehicle, we were able to quickly push the screen line forward and then toward the main body to evade the enemy artillery. These evasion drills worked to keep the artillery from impacting too close to our thin-skinned vehicles and gave our direct support artillery enough time to use counterfire to neutralize the enemy artillery.

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The M113's high mobility also came into play during a simple vehicle recovery mission during the cease-fire.

My battalion commander tasked me to take a section of two Bradleys and one M113A2 75 miles north toward Basrah, Iraq, to recover a lost vehicle.

The Bradley led until it hit an unexploded bomblet. The driver in the Bradley was too recessed from the front of his vehicle and could not see to maneuver around the ordnance-littered battlefield. On the other hand, my M113A2 driver, who sat six inches from the front of the vehicle, was easily able to bypass the danger areas. Consequently, I put my "protection-Bradleys" behind me and led the remainder of the mission, having the Bradleys follow in my M113 tracks. High mobility, therefore, was crucial to my vehicles' surviving on the DESERT STORM battlefields.

A feature that is often linked with high mobility is a lightweight design. Such a design was key to the M113 scout series vehicle's success in my task force for two reasons, First, twice as many M113s could go on the Saudi Arabian Heavy Equipment Trucks as M1A1 combat tanks. Consequently, upon my task force's arrival in Saudi Arabia, the task force commander chose my platoon to be the first combat force to leave Al Damman port for Tactical Assembly Area Thompson in the desert. Second, the 13-ton M113 has a three mile per gallon fuel efficiency compared to the 0.7 mile/gallon efficiency of the Bradley and 0.3 mile/gallon efficiency of the M1A1 tank. As a result, my platoon refueled only once every 24 hours, whereas the Bradleys needed to refuel every 12 hours and the tanks every 6 hours. In summation, my scout platoon could have made the 300-kilometer VII Corps envelopment sweep without ever refueling. Thus, the lightweight design of the M113 gave it an advantage over the larger combat vehicles of the task force in terms of transport and fuel efficiency.

What the Bradley lacks in weight and mobility relative to the M113, the Bradley compensates in terms of night vision as an area surveillance tool. The answer to the Bradley's night sight on the M113 or HMMWV is the PVS-7. This is not a satisfactory answer. The FSV must have a thermal night sight. The thermal sight would enable the scouts to perform during limited visibility times, which is when reconnaissance is most effective.

The fog, rain, and sand during DESERT STORM all degraded the capacity of the PVS-7. The first night of the ground war, I was lead element for the task force's move to its first assault position just south of the town of Al Busayah. There was a driving rain storm throughout the night which was accentuated by fog during the early morning. The brigade commander changed brigade formations from brigade box to brigade diamond. I had to flex left of the task force trains to our front and find the left flank combat unit of that same task force. The rain

The author moved his M113s forward when his leading Bradley hit an unexploded bomblet its driver couldn't see. With a driver's position high and in the front of the hull, it was easier to spot and avoid ordnance littering the battlefield.

totally washed out my PVS-7s, requiring me to send the lead scout vehicle to move within 50 meters off the flank of the front task force in order to correctly identify when we had reached his left flank. While we made it to the left flank and ultimately the assault position, we had discovered that our area surveillance capabilities were almost nonexistent during a heavy desert downpour at night. If the old scout adage of being the "eyes and ears" of the battalion is to hold true, then the FSV must have both excellent day and night surveillance capabilities.

Linked in with being the "eyes and ears" of the battalion, the scout platoon must be able to communicate what is seen and heard over extended distances to the battalion commander. FM 17-98 states that "because of the extended frontages and distances over which the scout platoon operates, it must rely heavily on effective communication techniques." [2] While, I cannot offer any technological solutions to the problem of long-range communications, I can endorse the need for such a capability based on my DESERT STORM experiences.

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Due to the importance of staying under brigade command and control, my platoon's primary mission as we crossed the Iraq border was to screen forward and keep our task force linked with the brigade formation. On 23 February 1991, as 1st Armored Division left Forward Assembly Area Garcia north of the Tapline Road and south of the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border, a dust storm reduced our day vision capability to less than 50 meters. Within an hour, the lead tank company that was following my platoon had lost contact with my trail vehicle. For an hour I vectored the lead company commander to my position on the brigade's left flank with longitude and latitude readings.

The radio was also key at critical graphic control measure sites throughout the battalion's move. I was able to relay every phase line during the battle to the battalion commander enabling him to relay our unit's FLOT to the brigade commander. I was able to pass on key passage of lines and natural obstacle information during the battalion's movement across the Wadi Al Batin, the Tapline Road, and the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border. Our radio capabilities, however, were never challenged by any Iraqi electronic warfare; had the Iraqis jammed us, we would have been impotent in many of our missions. In short, without effective long-range communication assets, we would have failed the majority of our DESERT STORM missions.

Neither did the Iraqis challenge our NBC countermeasures during the ground battle. Similar to electronic warfare, NBC warfare would have rendered my M113-series scout platoon nonfunctional. While we could have survived a short-term MOPP4 environment, the M113 is not equipped to fight in an NBC environment, as is the M1A1 tank. Our answer to the M1A1's overpressure system was simply to go to MOPP4 as

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the NBC trigger signals hit (e.g. yellow airbursts) and begin the standard M256 kit drills. Fortunately, Saddam Hussein chose note to employ such weapons, and we had to go to MOPP4 only twice during the ground war.

Nevertheless, if the FSV is to go deep and stay deep on a future battlefield in which the laws of land warfare are ignored, the FSV must have effective NBC countermeasures on board.

In addition to the NBC countermeasures and other features the Armor Center lists in its white paper, I would advocate adding three more features to the vehicle: (1) the ability to fix forward, (2) additional load plan space, and (3) a built-in IFF capacity.

Under the current doctrine, the scout platoon will go 4-6 kilometers forward of other friendly assets and even further if employed as part of a divisional cavalry or regimental cavalry troop organization. Given such a separation from its parent unit, the crew must often fend for itself in terms of maintenance support.

During DESERT STORM, my platoon had no attached maintenance assets, and in general, this was a satisfactory arrangement in terms of how we were employed within the formation. One of my vehicles, however, became separated from the task force when its engine malfunctioned and the M113 could not continue forward.

After checking on the crew's condition and life support systems, I told them that follow-on maintenance support would recover them within 48 hours. During the next 24 hours, the sergeant track commander bypassed the electrical fault and used green duct (100 mile per hour) tape to repair the worn, fan belt in the engine. Consequently, he put his vehicle back into operation, albeit a -reduced form of operation, and moved eastward until he linked up with another friendly unit for the remainder of the war. I do not offer this example as operator-level maintenance doctrine, but rather more as a supporting argument to ensure the FSV's mechanical system is not so overly complex that the crew is stranded if just one electrical connection or computer board diode fails. The FSV's design should also allow for the task force commander to task organize the scouts with additional combat support personnel and command and control assets without adding additional vehicles to the platoon.

FM 71-2 states that the battalion commander will often task organize an engineer NCO with the scouts to assist in obstacle identification and pre-breach operations. [3] PM 71-2 also states that a single forward observer can go forward with the scouts to assist in target identification and call-for-fires. [4] My battalion commander task organized my scout platoon in accordance with both these concepts during DESERT STORM.

Consequently, I had to make room for two additional men, their personal gear, and their equipment. In the case of the engineer, I had each vehicle carrying half of a footlocker of C-4, TNT, and detonation cord. The FO brought three GVS-5s [laser target designators] and two radios.

While I was certainly pleased to have such combat support assets, I was already at full strength in terms of personnel. Moreover, I was at maximum space capacity with my own scout platoon combat load plan, which included Dragons, AT-4s, and extra Class I, III, and V. In terms of command and control assets, four of my vehicles had the LORAN positioning system mounted, and I tasked all six of my track commanders with tracking the battalion's movement on their 1:250,000 map, which at 4 x 3 feet, covered the left wall of the M113.

Given the scout platoon's mission to act as the forward security force for the task force, as well as provide accurate navigational intelligence, the FSV designers will need to attend to the space capacity and ergodynamics

The M113's resemblance to other vehicles used by the enemy in the Gulf War made fratricide a disturbingly real possibility in the heat of rapid operations. The author argues that an effective IFF system should be a must on any future scout vehicle.

of having more than what the MTOE calls for in a scout platoon in terms of men and equipment.

The FSV designers must also deal with the biggest dilemma of the Gulf War: fratricide. Of all friendly vehicles in our task force, my scout platoon most closely resembled the enemy because of two reasons: (1) the positioning of my platoon forward and on the flanks of the unit, and (2) the enemy also had M113-like vehicles. Our unit attempted several solutions to the fratricide problem. We tried using the aircraft panel markers for day recognition and thermalized number 10 coffee cans on our antennas for night recognition. Both were only mildly effective because of the general field conditions.

Their ineffectiveness was particularly evident during one "fog of war" incident which occurred on 27 February 1991. Up until this day, my platoon had been the only force on the brigade's left and northern flank since the start of the ground war. On 27 February, however, the brigade commander moved the mechanized infantry task force to the left flank for further security. He swung them around in a wide arc (at approximately 45 degrees at a distance of 3,000 meters) to ensure that the infantry task force did not become entangled with my task force.

As the mechanized infantry task force's right flank tank company/team oriented towards our M1A1 FLOT, one of the tank gunners immediately identified and lased to a column of enemy vehicles moving in from the northeast toward my task force's M1A1 FLOT. The tank commander, who was also the platoon leader, looked through his gunner's primary sight extension and identified the vehicles as definitely moving toward the friendly FLOT but could not confirm them as friendly or enemy. After calling the spot report in and closing in to a distance of 1,000 meters toward our M1A1 FLOT, the platoon leader was able to identify the vehicles as friendly. What both he and his gunner had seen was my scout platoon in an echelon left moving off the left flank of our M1A1 FLOT. This was not apparent to either Soldier because of our movement formation, our undistinguishable vehicle form, and our lack of any easily identifiable friendly identification.

Other studies have proven that DESERT STORM made fratricide more probable because of our lack of good Identification of Friendly Force (IFF) markings and the distances at which we were engaging perceived enemy vehicles. Undoubtedly, the FSV must go forward with some system of IFF marking.

The Army wants a "ground scout vehicle that can penetrate undetected into areas under enemy control" during both "forward deployed and contingency area operations." To do so, the army needs to make that vehicle light, mobile, and survivable. Survivability will depend an its ability to sustain operations independent of immediate task force support, escape enemy detection, and distinguish itself from enemy vehicles in the form of an IFF system. Based on my DESERT STORM experiences as a task force scout platoon leader, I endorse, with some additions, the Army's current direction it is heading with the Future Scout Vehicle.


1. Armor 2000 - A Balanced Force for the Army of the Future. U.S. Army Annor Center, Fort Knox. Ky., 10 July 1990, p. 14.

2. FM 17-98, Scout Platoon. HQ, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C., October 1987, p. 2-60.

3. FM 71-2, The Tank and Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force. Department of the Army, Washington, D.C., September 1988, p. 3-44.

4. Ibid.

5. Armor 2000. p. 14.


Captain John K. Tien wrote this article based on his experience as the task force scout platoon leader for 4th Battalion, 70th Armor, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, which fought in the battle of Medinah Ridge during Operation DESERT STORM.

He is a 1987 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and received a degree in Political Science from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. A graduate of the AOAC, AOBC, Airborne, and French Commando Courses, he served as a tank platoon leader, scout platoon leader, and battalion adjutant for 470th Armor in Erlangen, Germany. He is currently assigned to the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood.

Despite the clear lessons of DESERT SHIELD/STORM, we persisted with the Humvee truck scout non-sense that clearly doesn't work even though M113 Gavins that are great cavalry scout vehicles were and ARE available!

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has exposed the truth about the vulnerable LAV-III armored car and documented why the mighty M113A3 Gavin should be the Army's IAV!

Army's new wheeled vehicle criticized

1981-1993: the "Honeymoon" is over: zero casualty tolerance in a 4th Generation Warfare World (4GW)

From 1981-1993 we enjoyed a renaissance in ground maneuver--victories in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, all lead by ground forces with low casualties. The honeymoon ended Ocober 3, 1993 when Rangers went in half-cocked into Mogadishu without light tracked AFVs and got hurt. The Vietnam ground combat "monkey" went right back onto our backs again. Now we will need another drubbing like Korea to wake us up, though this time it might be too late. As I predicted, the Rumsfeld Defense Review is likely to result in significant reductions in the number of ground forces on the order of perhaps two divisions. Unfortunately, reports suggest that the forces cut are likely to be heavy, which will be a colossal error. Eliminating an additional 33% of our heavy brigades on top of the Tankless, trackless Army transformation would be short-sighted indeed. It appears that the defense reviewers have come to wrong-headed conclusions in many areas questioning the usefulness of maintaining a sizable Army, when every military strategist/historian knows that it is impossible to win a major regional contingency without ground forces. Kosovo was not a victory. Thousands of sorties resulted in only 14 Yugoslav tanks destroyed. They withdrew with their Army intact, came to a compromise peace settlement negotiated by their Russian allies, then watched as the NATO "imperialist aggressors" repudiated the terms of that peace settlement.

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: C-130s fly in M113 "Zeldas" to crush the terrorists and Ugandan MIGs at Entebbe

IDF Official Story:

"With the old terminal secure, Yoni moved back outside and headed toward an approaching Hippo to supervise the loading of the newly freed hostages. As Yoni emerged from the shadow of the building, a Ugandan sniper, perched on the nearby control tower, fired and mortally wounded the young commando leader.

Yoni's deputy arrived at his side a few seconds later and directed an Israeli Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) to eliminate the sniper in the control tower. The APC crew immediately fired captured Soviet-made rockets at the tower, and the top of the building disappeared in a blinding explosion.

The hostages were rushed aboard the lead aircraft as another team of commandos hurried to the other side of the field in an APC. With silent efficiency, they methodically blew up a line of 11 parked Ugandan MiG fighters.

UGANDA: Operation "Jonathan", the Israeli rescue operation at Entebbe

At approximately 1230 on Sunday, June 27, 1976, Air France flight number AF 139 was hijacked by four terrorists. The plane, of which nearly one-third of the passengers were Jewish, was flown to Benghazi. After a six and a half hour delay, the plane took off again and began flying east. It changed course and began flying south east; by 0300 the next morning it had arrived at Entebbe, Uganda.

Upon arrival, the four terrorists (two of which were members of the German Baader-Meinhof Gang) were joined by three others, bringing the total up to seven. The passengers were kept on the aircraft until 1200, at which point they were transported to the airfield's old terminal building.

Then President of Uganda, Idi Amin, visited the hostages in the terminal and told them he was working to achieve their release, and that Ugandan soldiers would remain at the terminal to ensure their safety. The next day at 1530, the leader of the terrorists, a Palestine named the Peruvian released the specific demands the group of terrorists were seeking. 53 terrorists: thirteen held in prisons in France, W. Germany, Kenya, and Switzerland and 40 in Israeli prisons were to be released. If they were not, hostages would be executed starting at 1400 July 1.

The Unit

Sayeret Matkal was placed on alert shortly after the Israeli government learned about the hijacking. Members of the Unit assembled at Lod Airport In Israel (The origin of flight 139), but were stood down temporarily when the aircraft landed in Benghazi. Separately from Sayeret Mat'Kal, Lt. Col. Joshua Shani of the Israeli Air Force's only C-130 squadron began conducting basic flight planning for his aircraft to fly to and back from Uganda.

When the Peruvian announced the terms for release and impending execution if they were not met, Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, convened a group of cabinet ministers; one of them was IDF Chief of Staff Motta Gur. There were serious complications in using military forces (Uganda was 2,200 miles away, the flight was from a French Company, and only 1/3 of the passengers were Jewish, and not all of these were from Israel) but the military began reviewing options.

Throughout Wednesday, June 30, intelligence information began to filter in. Idi Amin was not seeking the release of the hostages and was actually collaborating with the PFLP. This made an early plan requiring marine commandos to rescue the hostages and then surrender to Ugandan soldiers undesirable. Motta Gur reported that the IDF had no viable plan to rescue the hostages. On Thursday, July 1, Rabin's government agreed to release their prisoners.

Earlier that day, the PFLP terrorists had released 100 passengers, leaving only the Jewish population of the aircraft and the flight crew. Upon receiving word that Israel had agreed to the exchange, the terrorist moved the day of execution back, to Sunday July 4. Intelligence agents were told by the released passengers that the Ugandan soldiers were fully cooperating with the terrorists, and that the Jewish passengers were segregated from the rest. The real purpose of the hijacking was beginning to be made clear. Once again, the military was asked for options.

Jonathan Netanyahu, commander of Sayeret Mat'kal, was briefed on the roles and missions of the units in the plan that was then under development. It called for three ground elements, The Unit, members of the Elite Golani Infantry, and Paratroopers. Netanyahu and others argued for a smaller, more flexible force. Brigadier General Dan Shomron, who would ultimately command the raid, decided to go with Netanyahu's recommendation.

By Friday, July 2, a basic plan of attack had been created. Even though the military had not yet been given the mission to rescue the hostages, members of the Unit began to run through the mission. A pole and burlap mock-up of the terminal had been constructed at their base and members of the unit practiced entering and clearing it. Members of Mat'kal now new exactly how many terrorists there were and what they were armed with; a pregnant hostage who had been released had been debriefed and had given Israeli intelligence the information. 8mm film footage taken by a sergeant major formerly stationed in Entebbe was shown to familiarize the commandos with the airport.

Drivers from the Unit met with crews from the Israeli Air Force to practice off-loading all of the vehicles that were to be brought along for the mission. As further intelligence and information came in, the plan was further refined and improved. Members of The Unit continued to practice all throughout Friday as the Israeli government pondered what to do. Friday evening, a full dress rehearsal was performed for IDF Chief of Staff Motta Gur. After witnessing a successful "operation", Motta Gur told the senior officers in the unit he would recommend to the Prime Minister that the mission be approved. The Commandos, their practice session complete, attempted to rest for the mission the next day.

The Mission

The members of Sayeret Mat'Kal participating in the assault met at Lod Airport at 1130 on Saturday, July 3, six days after the terrorists had hijacked the aircraft and passengers. A final briefing was conducted and last minute details between the C-130 crews and commandos were addressed. At 1320 the aircraft took off (Heading in different directions to fool potential spies) and headed south at low levels to avoid radar detection by Russian ships and Egyptian Radar. The aircraft made a brief stop at Sharm-a-Sheikh to top off their fuel tanks and feed the troops before the four aircraft formation headed south on their 7.5 hour flight to Entebbe.

By 2230 the aircraft had reached Lake Victoria, just a short distance from Entebbe by air. The last three C-130s broke formation and circled as the lead aircraft made its approach. At 2300 on July 23 (Israeli time) the lead aircraft touched down. The commandos on board immediately sprang into action. Aircrew quickly undid the tie-downs and prepared to lower the ramp as the commandos started their vehicles. As the aircraft slowed, ten members from the elite Golani Infantry jumped out and set up landing beacons for the remaining aircraft. As the aircraft turned onto the taxiway leading to the old terminal, the rear cargo ramp was lowered and a black Mercedes and two land rovers drove out. Ugandan flags flew from the Mercedes and all 35 commandos were dressed in Ugandan uniforms.

The three vehicle convoy proceeded towards the old terminal with their lights on at a steady 40 Mph (64 KPH). The vehicles drove towards the terminal for a full minute before being challenged by two Ugandan sentries. Lieutenant Colonel Netanyahu slowed the vehicles as if to stop and, when the sentries were within range, ordered his men to fire. Israeli commandos opened fire with silenced Berettas, killing one sentry and missing another; who who stumbled backwards and opened fire. Realizing that the element of surprise might be lost, Netanyahu immediately ordered the drivers to head for the old terminal at full speed. As they approached, several soldiers and a terrorist could be seen milling about outside in confusion.

The vehicles quickly parked by the control tower adjacent to the old terminal and the commandos jumped out and began their attack. The lone terrorist seen outside ran inside yelling, "The Ugandans have gone nuts--they're shooting at us!" The Israelis had truly achieved the element of surprise.

During the initial phase of the assault, the second in command froze and refused to move forward. Netanyahu ran past him and resumed the assault. A Ugandan guard jumped up from behind some wooden crates and began to fire but was cut down. Another fired fr om within the terminal, spraying glass and bullets about. He too, is killed by Mat'Kal commandos now entering the building. The Commandos began to clear the building. Some members were darting about independently while others were clumping together, but the basic plan was being followed. Somewhere in this initial assault phase, Johnathan Netanyahu is shot and mortally wounded.

Within THREE minutes of landing, four of the seven terrorists had been killed. The troopers continued to clear the building. By this time, events have been happening so quickly that some of the Mat'kal Soldiers are disoriented. Some men are out of position or in the wrong hallways. A little girl suddenly jumped up in on of the rooms they were clearing. The commandos were able to recognize in time that she was not a terrorist and hold their fire, but two other passengers who also stood up were not so lucky.

The team assigned to assault the VIP lounge in the terminal found the outside door locked. One of them threw a grenade at the door; it bounced of and exploded, wounded one member slightly. They went inside the terminal and entered from an open door there. Inside were two men. As the members of the Unit entered, the two men stood up and began moving towards the commandos, hands raised. Unsure as to the two men's intentions, the commandos withheld their fire until one noticed a grenade belt around the waist of one of the men. Their commands to halt unheeded, they opened fire and killed the two men. As they did, one of the terrorist dropped a grenade he had been hiding in his hand.

All the terrorists were now dead. Only the Ugandan soldiers stood in the way of a safe escape. Several soldiers were holed up in the tower next to the old terminal and were firing at the Mat'kal Soldiers remaining in the landrovers. The mortally wounded Netanyahu was evacuated to a C-130 at this time. The second C-130 landed six minutes after the first and two armored personnel carriers offloaded and headed to the secured terminal. When they arrived they took it under fire and temporarily silenced it.

Two more APCs arrived on the third C-130 and joined the first two. One split off and destroyed eight MiGs stationed at the base. Members of Sayeret Golani arrived and set up a defensive perimeter. Within Fifteen minutes of the first C-130 landing, the hostages had been freed and the area secured.

Mat'kal commandos began evacuating the rescued civilians to a waiting C-130. They were hampered by passengers returning to the terminal to try and find lost property and darkness. Several of the passengers were also in shock or hysterical. Getting an accu rate headcount was difficult in the darkened aircraft. At 2352, less than an hour after the first Hercules landed, the C-130 with 106 rescued hostages took off and flew into the night.

With the hostages safe, the rest of the force began to withdraw to their aircraft. Their movements were covered by smoke and timed explosives devices. The last C-130 left Entebbe at 2429, 99 minutes after the first one had landed. The cost, one commando killed (Netanyahu) and one hostage dead (she had been moved to a local hospital after a choking incident and was not present during the rescue. She was subsequently executed in retribution for the raid).

The rescue at Entebbe is a classic example of a successful special operations. The Israelis used surprise and superior training to overcome their enemies and gain their objectives with a minimum loss of life. It was a logistically difficult mission. Thirty-five commandos in two Landrovers and a Mercedes with four APCs for firepower had to be transported over 2,200 miles and back again with over 100 hostages. The building the hostages were kept in was guarded by seven terrorists and an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers and was reported to be wired with explosives.

Originally, the Israeli military wanted to use a large force and secure the entire airfield. Netanyahu argued for, and got, a smaller force that would take only the terminal. Speed and surprise would be their main advantages. Using information about the old terminal, a mock-up was built allowing the commandos to practice beforehand, allowing them some familiarity with the terminal.

The Israeli assault of Entebbe achieved it's goals with stunning success. Any study of successful counter-terror operations would be remiss in not including this operation.

The assault on Old Terminal was completed within three minutes after the lead plane landed. Now in rapid succession, its three companions came into touch down at Entebbe. By 23:08 hours, all of Thunderball Force was on the ground. The runway lights shut down as the third plane came in to land, but it didn't matter, but it didn't matter - the beacons did the job well enough. With clockwork precision, armored personnel carriers roared off the ramp of the second transport to take up position to the front and rear of Old Terminal, while infantrymen from the first and third plane ran to secure all access to roads to the airport and to take over New Terminal and the control tower; the tower was vital for safe evacuation of the hostages and their rescuers. In a brief clash at the New Terminal, Sergeant Hershko Surin, who was due for demobilization from the army in twelve hours time fell wounded. The fourth plane taxied to a holding position near Old Terminal, ready to take on hostages. All the engines were left running. A team of Air Force technicians were already hard at work offloading heavy fuel pumps - hastily acquired by an inspired quartermaster one day earlier - and setting up to transfer Idi Amin's precious aviation fluid into the thirsty tanks of the lead transport - a process that would take well over an hour.


A/MH-6 'Little Bird' helicopter

YES, even the most "special" of our forces can use armored tracks for decisive maneuver...IF someone with wisdom (General Stiner) orders them to fight smart (lacking just 4 years later in Somalia). So why don't they have their own organic M113 Gavins that they own 24/7/365 so they can have them when they need them and upgrade them to be stealthy (band tracks, hybrid-electric drive etc.)?

Just as other world SOF units have used the M113---the Israeli Paratroops took them by C-130 airland to Entebbe to rescue hostages, the Dutch marines plowed through a school building in a M113 to rescue school children----SFOD-D "Delta Force" used a M113 to plow through the gates to support a MH-6 "Little Bird" assault on the rooftop of Modelo prison to rescue American Kurt Muse.

As the Little Bird took off with Muse and his rescuers, enemy fire hit the helicopter which had to crash land immediately into the street below.

There to save them were Soldiers in M113s that darted in, its armored shell repeling the small arms fire and bringing them all back to safety. The MH-6 was even towed to safety by a M113A2 Gavin.

Tom Clancy has a new book out he wrote in conjunction with Carl Stiner, General, U.S. Army, retired; called "Shadow Warriors: inside Special Operations He is the former COMJSOC and CINCSOC. It is a pretty good book. Apparently during Operation Just Cause, General Wayne Downing established a "Panzer Gruppe" made up of:

"...two Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicles [light tanks with 165mm guns], two U.S. marine corps LAVs [for their 25mm autocannon], five Army APCs [M113A2 Gavins to carry dismounting assault troops], four confiscated PDF two-and-a-half ton trucks, and an old yellow school bus." (page 369)

We are first introduced to the Panzer Gruppe on page 342 where the text explains how it came into being and it was in fact this unit that accomplished the rescue of Kurt Muse and his rescue force once their "Little Bird" MH-6 helicopter went down. We always knew we used M113 Gavins to rescue those folks but we had always been under the impression that it was a rescue of opportunity and not design.

Despite all of the bad press SOME hear about Just Cause we can say that this sounds like a case where "Lightitis" [hubris that men on foot do not need armored vehicles in the fight] wasn't allowed to fester. Special Mission Units weren't affected by poor judgement induced by "Lightitis" and the subsequent casualties it tends to cause re: "Blackhawk Down!" just 4 years later in Somalia.

Could this be the result of both Generals Stiner and Downing having spent time in heavy units and developing at least an appreciation for armored vehicles as tools?


October 3, 1993. Bakara Market.


Without AFVs because their "joint" commander, a marine General doesn't care to secure them any, U.S. Army Rangers and SFOD-D Soldiers are surrounded and fighting for their lives against an enemy with an unlimited supply of ammunition, unlimited numbers of gunmen and urban cover to fire behind. 2 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters have been shot down trying to support the ground force. The 1 and a quarter-ton HMMWV and 5-ton truck link-up force has been clobbered by small arms and RPG fire, and cannot reach them. They are running out of ammunition. They have no shields except their own fire.

The 10th Mountain Division (L) by threat and personal example get Pakistani M48 medium tanks and M113 Gavins light tracked AFVs to lead them while they follow in Malaysian Condor APCs to rescue the Rangers and Delta. They reach them after a bitter fight and bring them back to safety.

"Within this evolutionary climate, fiscal realities and the aging of existing systems have resulted in a significant gap in our forced/early entry capabilities. The deactivation of the 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor, coupled with the termination of the Armored Gun System (AGS), has created a critical need for enhanced direct fire assault support and anti-armor capabilities for forced/early entry forces".

Official U.S. Army ACTD web site statement

This is what happens when you fight urban terrorists without light tracked AFVs...

"Blackhawk Down" was the day's rallying cry,
Leave no man or armor behind unless we ALL die,
Nineteen brave men lost their lives that day.
That we may live in freedom, each in our own special way.


There were Rangers, Delta, Mountaineers and Aviators, too.
They fought for each other, the way heroes always do.
They took on the mission, which came from on high.
They came in low---but without armor that October 3, sky.


Things went wrong from the very beginning.
Trucks and Humvees were burnt, the omen was telling.
Shots rang out from every woman, child and man.
Then came the words "Blackhawk Down" and the killing began.


They fired back for hours to protect their dead and wounded,
They fought for each other; but the enemy bullets resounded.
They kept the faith, so when the armor finally came they were relieved.
Many walked out so their wounded brothers could be retrieved.


"Blackhawk Down", was it the end of the show?
Would they recover and perform again and where would they go?
They are fighting today in Afghanistan as I pen this short rhyme.
But Rangers still have no tracked armor, though M113A3s are ready and we have had plenty of time....


If "Blackhawk Down" is the warning, why is armor left behind?

Ironic, but the M113A3 type-AFVs from Task Force 1-64 sent in days later to reinforce TF Ranger after the firefight were from the then 24th Infantry Division could easily have been organic to the 75th Ranger Regiment in the first place....instead of given away to our Allies who had to come rescue U.S. with what was once our own vehicles! You can complain and make excuses about how SecDef Les Aspin failed to give you armor, but 9 years after Somalia, the 75th Ranger Regiment still doesn't have a tracked AFV. Its their own lightfighter "lightitis" arrogance that prevents them via a mental block to get the tracked AFVs they need. All their commanders have to do is ASK, the Army has M113 Gavins in war stocks. Some of our precious M113s are being thrown into the ocean to make reefs to feed the fish! Next, we will "feed" our men to enemy guns when they end up fighting "light" without AFV fire support.

The solution is within our grasp: all we have to do is assign a dozen M113A3s to a battalion in each of the 3 Ready Brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division which has an institutionalized appreciation for light tracked armored vehicles and their shock action. Third World Countries and private U.S. citizen collectors operate M113s, how hard can this be?

A Spanish military expert sent us three pictures of the Italian intervention in Somalia, called Operation "Ibis". Notice that their Paratroopers had VCC-1 variant M113A3s when they patrolled the mean streets of Somalia! No problems with enemy fire with them!

Otobreda Infantry Armored Fighting Vehicle VCC-1

An Italian VCC-1 in Mogadishu streets

Another applique' armor reinforced Italian M113

Italian VCC-1 variant M113A3 meets the other workhorse of the desert!

Outside the USA, some countries (sometimes due to lack of funds) are giving a new life to the M113, far beyond what their main user--U.S. Army--ever could imagine!

U.S. Army M113A3 with anti-intrusion wire draped over the sides

In fact, if you look at the MTOE of a heavy Armored Division there are more M113A3s (284) than M2 Bradleys (224)! Over 200 of each! Why can't we supply 42 to the 10th, 25th and 82nd Airborne/Light Divisions to create a Mechanized Infantry Battalion? Why are Heavy Divisions hogging up all the AFVs, while the light troops get nothing? We can and we must.


The debacle in Somalia in rubber-tired trucks came as no surprise to us. After 1st TSG (A) Director, Mike Sparks experienced first hand what a LIGHT M113 Gavin track could do, it changed his entire military perspective of what was possible! In the years prior, he had only walked or rode in medium-weight and heavier vehicles...the all-terrain mobility and agility of the Gavin was exactly what LIGHT infantry needs...he wrote a detailed proposal in the Jan-Feb 1995 issue of U.S. Army ARMOR magazine to exploit this for contingency forces during the "heavy" era of America's Army.

Read the article here:

We wrote an entire Operations PLAN (OPLAN) for a XVIII Airborne Corps M113 Gavin DESERT FORCE (sorry we can't post on www), but here is the cover letter:

And surprisingly, we got a reply from an Army Lieutenant General from a completely different agency:

We Told You So back in the 1990s: Why Are Medium Bradleys and Heavyweight Abrams Tanks Sitting in Motor Pools in the USA while American Light Infantry is Getting Creamed in Wheeled Trucks and On Foot in Afghanistan when LIGHT M113 Gavins are Available?



I am writing in response to Captain Greg Pickell's article "Designing the Next Infantry Fighting Vehicle" (INFANTRY, July-August 1996, pages 22-32).

As you're going to see in Bosnia, the 33-ton M2 and 63-ton M1A1 are too heavy for most roads and bridges in the Third World. Instead of spending 0 million now so we can have a light tank the M8 AGS (armored gun system) we're "researching" a 43-ton external gun tank to replace the M1 series.

While I appreciate Captain Pickell's idea of making a turretless M1 into an IFV in the style of the Israeli Defense Force, this is not what we need desperately in a world that moves by air. If it cannot be airdropped or STOL (short takeoff and landing) airlanded directly onto the battlefield-not a heavily defended airfield with concrete runway it will not be there in time. His 50-ton IFV is too heavy if it takes weeks or months to get to the battlefield. I know the capabilities of the C-17 aircraft; less than a dozen delivering one M1 main battle tank or turretless IFV at-a-time isn't going to deploy significant combat mass.

The United States will again become a "paper tiger," reluctant to deploy its light troops because it has given or thrown away its M113 armored personnel carriers. (See the article in the December 1996 issue of Soldiers magazine on building reefs in the Atlantic using demilitarized M113s and M60 tanks). An M113A3 with an EX-35 105mm external gun or 106mm recoilless rifle would be a better use of our money and would save lives.

An M113A3 or an M8 is better than nothing-but nothing is what we'll have if we keep pursuing 50-ton monster armored vehicles. The Army should be geared to the best fighting efficiency, not to keeping Bradley infantrymen and Abrams tankers employed. Waiting for them to airland and forcing the airborne units to seize a heavily defended airfield for them is tantamount to suicide. We've got to look past self-serving narrowness and see that the U.S. is a strategic air power, just as England was once the world's preeminent sea power. Like the Russians, we need our airborne to be a completely mobile combined arms team that after landing can converge on the enemy's vulnerable center of gravity while he's still disoriented. Waiting for anything instead of moving out at once is a recipe for disaster on the information-age battlefield. Even the "bad guys" have cell phones and watch CNN.

Except as a future replacement for the Bradley in heavy divisions, I disagree with Captain Pickell's idea. We are ignoring the force structure of the units that are going to actually fight, not languish in a motor pool in the continental United States. I, for one, do not want to see the world lost to aggression because we are dependent upon heavy vehicles to deploy a force that can fight and win. When we really have to fight somewhere in a hurry, this mindset will result in nothing-our light troops fighting with only the weapons they have in their hands because the heavy elements cannot get to the fight. We cannot afford to have our light units sacrificed because they lack the backup of heavy units and their commensurate firepower.

Somalia was only a foretaste of the future. Let's hope we can get some air-deliverable armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) to our airborne and light troops before North Korea invades or Iraq overruns Kuwait again. What would happen if Iraq seized our pre-positioned M1s and M2s in Kuwait and destroyed the airfield before we could get our tankers into theater? We have M113A3 AFVs that weigh exactly the same as vulnerable road bound five-ton trucks that can be turned into flaming wrecks by a mere burst of small-arms fire. But we take the tracked M113A3 (which can swim and protect our men from enemy fire by traveling cross-country) and throw it into the ocean to make reefs and keep the five-ton trucks, using the excuse that "we don't have enough airlift". Certainly, if all we have available is 30 to 70-ton AFVs, we'll never be able to air-deliver enough fighting vehicles to give our light troops shock

November-December 1996 INFANTRY 3

action. Our enemies mount heavy cannon on almost anything that moves, while we make excuses and rationalize. How can we expect anything but another "Task Force Smith" in our future?


Fort Bragg, North Carolina

November-December 1996 INFANTRY 4

We then suggested M113 Gavins with 106mm RRs again to the top Army General, Reimer in 1996 after the M8 Buford Armored Gun System cancellation:

Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA)

Notice General Rose CONVENIENTLY did not reply to Stan's suggestion of using M113A3 Gavins with 106mm recoilless rifles...obviously the "heavy" mafia in charge of the Army did not want the "light" parts of the Army too combat capable lest they take all the glory (typical narrow-minded, zero-sum thinking)

Stan Crist's Modernize the Airborne


Modernizing the Airborne

By Stan Crist

In the years preceding, World War II, the combat triumvirate of the U.S. Army was composed primarily of foot-mobile infantry, towed artillery, and a handful of light tanks. The onset of hostilities, however, was the catalyst for a modernization effort that would dramatically change the organization, training, and equipment of U.S. ground forces. The Army transformed itself, from a force trained and equipped for the static nature of World War I, into one well adapted to the high-mobility demands of blitzkrieg.

The increased use of truck transport allowed the infantry to be moved about the battlefield much faster, although only when out of contact with the enemy. To overcome that problem, the thinly armored M3 "half-track" was developed, which provided improved cross-country ability and some degree of protection from small arms fire, although its open-top design left it vulnerable to artillery airbursts. In the 1960s the creation of the M113 [Gavin] armored personnel carrier (APC) produced another leap ahead in mobility and protection, thanks to its full-tracked, completely enclosed configuration. Two decades later, the adoption of the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) gave the U.S. infantryman even greater combat capability.

The artillery branch evolved in a

Page 8 INFANTRY July-December 1997


similar fashion over the past six decades, going from completely unprotected, towed artillery pieces to improvised mountings of howitzers on half-tracks and tank chassis, to purpose-built self-propelled guns such as the MI09A6 Paladin. The tank force, which began with combat vehicles that were inadequately armored and woefully under-

When the 82nd Airborne Division was activated in 1942, it was primarily made up of foot-mobile infantry, with a few small-caliber, towed artillery pieces--and no tanks.

gunned, now fields the best main battle [heavy] tank (MBT) ever made-the M1A2 Abrams. The history of the airborne stands in stark contrast to the progress of the infantry, artillery, and armor. When the 82nd Airborne Division was activated in 1942, it was made up primarily of foot-mobile infantry, with a few small caliber, towed artillery pieces-and no tanks. The 82nd has changed little since its inception half a century ago. It is still mainly a light infantry force, with a small number of towed howitzers for support; it also has some additional combat power in the form of TOW missile launchers mounted on HMMWVs (high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles) and a single battalion of M551A1 Sheridan light tanks. Essentially, the paratroopers are stuck in World War II mode, while "leg" infantry is becoming a 21st Century force, having advanced from foot mobility to truck, then half-track, APC, and IFV. The traditional role of paratroopers is to drop into the enemy's rear area, seize critical objectives, and hold on until relieved by conventional ground forces.

This linkup must occur quickly to achieve mission success and paratroop survival. A prime example of the inherent weakness of this strategy is Operation Market Garden (September 1944), in which British and Polish airborne forces were annihilated by German Panzer units while attempting to capture and hold Arnhem bridge. Many paratroopers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, in large part because they were outclassed in firepower, armor protection, and mobility: They couldn't run, they couldn't hide, they had precious little with which to fight, and the relief force failed to reach them!

As a consequence of similarly bitter wartime experience---along with some thoughtful, farsighted analysis-the Russian (formerly Soviet) General Staff eventually concluded that airborne units must have the means to conduct operations without the need to link up with ground troops. Doing this meant giving the paratroops roughly the same degree of tactical and technological advantage enjoyed by the heavy forces. The result was the introduction in 1970 of the BMD airborne combat vehicle (ACV), which enabled the innovative creation of the world's first fully mechanized airborne force.

Somewhat ironically, the parachute deliverable M113 APC had entered production a decade earlier, a fact that would have permitted the modernization of U.S. airborne forces ten years before their Russian counterparts.

Curiously, the interest--and the vision-has been lacking in this country. Instead of embracing mechanization as a means of expanding and enhancing their warfighting capability, the U.S. airborne community seems to decry the concept stating two basic reasons: "There is not enough airlift," and "We can fight heavy forces, successfully in all but the most open kinds of terrain, so why make a change that would rob us of our strategic mobility?" These issues are certainly serious enough to merit examination and analysis in an effort to determine their validity and provide possible alternatives.

Not enough airlift? If this is true, the obvious answer is, "Get more!" If, however, politico-economic factors prohibit the acquisition of additional transport aircraft for this purpose, then what options are available that could be implemented with existing airlift assets?

Just how many transports would actually be required to lift a mechanized airborne force? Before answering these questions, it is first necessary to know the basic specifications of the airborne combat vehicle.

The Vehicle

Although it would be desirable to develop a state-of-the-art ACV family-an airborne combat system (ACS}---budget constraints would doubtless prevent it. Fortunately, a vehicle currently in service--the M113A3 APC (and certain of its variants) has most of the required characteristics: First, with its small size and light weight, the M113A3 is capable of transport and low-velocity airdrop (LVAD, or "heavy drop") by all four major U.S. Air Force cargo planes-the C-130, C-141, C-5, and C-17; it can also be carried a short distance as a sling load by the CH-47D helicopter. The only other full-tracked, armored vehicle now in the inventory that has the same LVAD capability is the M551A1 Sheridan tank. If the Sheridans of the 82nd's 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor (originally slated to be replaced by the now-defunct XM8 [Buford] armored gun system) are withdrawn from service as planned, M113 variants will be the Army's only tracked combat vehicles with full LVAD capability.

The M113A3 is a vast improvement over the previous M113s. A more powerful but more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine and a new transmission deliver automotive performance on a par with that of the Bradley fighting vehicle. Internal kevlar spall liners and external fuel tanks provide a great increase in crew survivability; mounting provisions for bolt-on armor packages make possible the upgrade of protection trom the basic level (small arms, artillery fragments) to 14.5mm heavy machinegun, 30mm cannon, and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds. The MI13A3's tactical mobility is further enhanced by its ability to swim across small bodies of water with little or no preparation.

While basic armament-a .50-caliber [heavy] machinegun-is rather minimal for modem warfare, the elegant simplicity of the M113A3's box-like structure makes it ideally suited to a "modular" approach to armament installation.

Weapons that can be mounted on the vehicle include the M2 .50-caliber heavy machinegun (HMG), the Mk 19 40mm grenade machinegun (GMG), the M60/M240B 7.62mm medium machinegun (MMG), the M40A2 106mm recoilless rifle, TOW, Dragon, and Javelin antitank guided missiles (ATGMs), 81mm and 120mm mortars (in the M125 and M1064 mortar carrier variants). Even the Hellfire missile has been fired from a modified M113 that was fitted with a prototype eight-shot turret assembly. With the exception of the multiple Hellfire launcher, the weapons listed can be mounted in various combinations according to mission needs. The following are some examples:

General Purpose, Urban Terrain.

One GMG or HMG, one Javelin ATGM, two MMGs, and one LMG.

Configuration allows maximum, continuous 360-degree observation and target engagement.

Direct-Fire Support (Version 1).

One 106mm recoilless rifle, one 40mm GMG, and one 7.62mm MMG-a no cost "armored gun system." Direct-Fire Support (Version 2).

Two 106mm recoilless rifles, one .50 caliber HMG. Spanish TC-7/l06 one-man turret would provide armor protection for the gunner.

Page 9 July-December 1997 INFANTRY


Incorporates a two-man turret similar to that on the French AMX-1O HOT vehicle, with four ready-to-fire ATGMs-TOW, TOW follow-on, or Javelin.

Indirect-Fire Support or Antitank.

M1064A3 self-propelled 120mm mortar has almost three times the lethality of 81mm mortar, six times that of 60mm mortar currently used by airborne. 120mm precision-guided rounds would allow engagement of enemy armor at extended range (7,000-plus meters) and in defilade.

Airlift Requirements

In addition to the paratroopers, an airborne infantry battalion has 20 x TOW HMMWVs, 36 x cargo HMMWVs, and 10 x 2.5-ton trucks [ED: these weigh 10.5 tons--exactly the same as M113s]. The artillery battery has six HMMWVs to serve as prime movers for the M1l9A1 [105mm] howitzers, the air defense platoon has four HMMWVs, and the engineer platoon has several pieces of heavy earthmoving equipment. Ten C-130s or eight C-17s would be needed to transport the 730 jumpers of the battalion task force. To airlift all of these vehicles and heavy equipment mentioned would require about 54 x C-130s or 19 x C-17s. An ACS battalion with, for instance, 45 x M1l3A3s, nine x M1064A3s, and six scout HMMWVs would need 57 x C-130s or 19 x C-17s. If the paratroopers were to "tailgate" the vehicles-jump from the same aircraft, immediately following the heavy drop load--the personnel aircraft would not be needed, thereby freeing eight to 10 airlift sorties. A mechanized force might require slightly more (C-130), the same amount (C-17), or even significantly fewer ("tailgating") aircraft for transport than does the current organization; this is quite contrary to the widely held belief that a mechanized airborne unit would require excessive airlift resources.


Two organizational approaches seem worth considering. One of these is to follow conventional practice and mechanize each battalion in all three brigades. This route would cost more to implement and would place greater administrative, logistical, and maintenance demands on the units, but it would also permit all nine battalions to be mechanized at the same time.

This configuration would have been very appropriate in August 1990 when

One organizational approach is to follow conventional practice and mechanize each battalion in all three brigades.

the entire 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Saudi Arabia. There in a landscape without cover and concealment or shade from the sweltering summer sun-and facing a mobile, armored opponent-the foot-mobile paratroopers could do no more than dig in and hold on until the heavy forces arrived. Fortunately, although the Republican Guard T-72s may have been superior to the World War II German Panthers and Tigers, the Iraqi soldiers displayed only a fraction of the competence--and none of the will to fight-that the Panzer crews showed at Arnhem, thereby avoiding a replay of that debacle.

Another factor to consider is the pending retirement of the M551A1 Sheridans. When the Sheridans are gone, the paratroopers will not have an armored gun system that can be parachuted into the drop zone alongside them. In a mechanized airborne force, however, some of the M113A3s could be equipped with recoilless rifles to provide organic direct-fire support; both the M40A2 106mm and the M3 84mm Ranger antiarmor, antipersonnel weapon system (RAAWS) could be used in this role. Although the M40A2 has greater range and lethality, the M3 is light enough for easy dismounted use should the need arise. There are a few M40A2s still in storage at Anniston Army Depot (28 serviceable, as of this writing), but the 106 has been manufactured recently by Israeli Military Industries, and the 3A-HEAT-T round made by the firm of BOFORS reportedly has twice the penetration of the conventional 106 round and can defeat explosive reactive armor. These options are clearly less than ideal, but they are still far superior to hand-held weapons such as the LAW (light anti-armor weapon) and the AT-4.

The other organizational approach is to have an autonomous ACS brigade within the 82nd Airborne functioning in much the same manner as the 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor. Indeed, the armor battalion is probably the logical choice to serve as the nucleus of the proposed ACS brigade. (This battalion could also initially serve as a battalion-size Airborne Experimental Force to test the concept in Advanced Warfighting Experiments.)

There would be a number of advantages to having a separate brigade. The infantry battalions would not be saddled with the added maintenance and supply efforts required by organic light armor, nor would the paratroopers lose their dismounted skills, because they would have the use of the M113s only for required training and maintenance and periodic operations.

This should not be viewed as simply an armored transportation brigade, however. Even though it would function in that role for operations requiring mechanized infantry, it has the potential for employment in a variety of roles and missions.

In a Desert Shield type of scenario, for example, the M113A3s could be configured as tank killers, with ATGM launchers installed for line-of-sight engagements, while M1064A3 120mm self-propelled mortars could have precision-guided mortar munitions for long-range and indirect-fire use. This configuration would need only four crewmen per M113; a substantial reduction in personnel requirements compared to the manpower-intensive infantry units.

A single ACS brigade could field as much antitank firepower as two bri-

Page 10 INFANTRY July-December 1997

gades of parachute infantry--twice the combat power, with half the troops. Class III supply (petroleum, oil, lubricants) would be about as demanding as for those same infantry brigades, but this should be mostly (if not completely) offset by the greatly reduced requirements for Class I (food) and water, the latter being as critical as fuel in a desert environment. The need for items in Classes II, IV, VI, and VIII should also be minimized because of the reduced number of Soldiers.

As for deployability, only 22 C-5 sorties would be required to transport the brigade's 170-plus armored vehicles. A force of armored, high mobility, high-lethality weapon systems could maneuver according to the evolving situation-instead of just sitting and waiting behind a "line in the sand" hoping the enemy would attack at the most favorable time and place.

During World War II, the available technology did not permit the mechanization of parachute infantry. The workhorse of the air fleet--the legendary C-47-was not designed for parachute delivery of light armor; and the existing APC-the M3 half-track-was too big and heavy to be airdropped.

With the post-war development of the C-130 and other, larger transport aircraft, and the adoption of the aluminum-hulled M113, the technological aspects of the situation changed. Unfortunately, the U.S. airborne community failed to take advantage of these new circumstances. Other nations have been more adaptive, however. Israeli paratroopers readily incorporate the M113 into their operations, making full use of the vehicle's tactical mobility and armor protection. The German airborne has recently added a mechanized antitank battalion-armed with the ultralight, helicopter-transportable Wiesel (TOW and 20mm cannon versions}-to its force structure. And, of course, the Russians have equipped several divisions with BMD variants.

These countries have taken the lead in adding a new dimension to airborne warfare. By combining the superior tactical potential of mechanization with the inherently unique advantages of vertical envelopment, they are creating parachute-deliverable forces capable of employment across the entire operational continuum. Since 1989 the U.S. Army has been downsized from 18 divisions to ten, and there is talk that end strength could be reduced even further. This smaller Army of the 21st century cannot afford large, special-purpose units. Every division needs to be equipped and trained to fight and win on all types of terrain, and across the entire spectrum of ground combat scenarios. If the 82nd Airborne Division is to become a full-spectrum force, it must mechanize; failure to do so is an open invitation to military obsolescence and battlefield defeat.

Stanley C. Crist served in the 3rd Battalion, 185th Armor. He has written numerous articles on small arms testing and evaluation, some of which have appeared in INFANTRY.

Nevertheless, we never give up (Compare WW2 "Greatest Generation" adage: "If you first don't succeed, try, try again!" To current slacker generation: "If you can't win, don't try")--so we tried again in 1997...

Here was the pass-the-buck, non-responses we got from:

Fort Benning

USSOCOM General Shelton

We have never gotten a reply from either Fort Benning, the Rangers or USSOCOM to our reasonable and urgently needed improvements to Airborne/Special Operations/Light forces....

We know now that the 1st TSG (A) warned everyone in the Army quietly through letters and externally through web pages and magazine articles...and EVEN BOOKS...that the coming non-linear combats would require the services of the mighty Gavin and that the flimsy Humvee and Stryker trucks would not over 4, 000 men are dead and 60, 000 wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan...and America is still at risk from moslem terrorist attack...HOW MANY MORE MEN WILL HAVE TO DIE BEFORE WE ADAPT CORRECTLY TO NON-LINEAR COMBAT WITH THE M113 GAVIN LIGHT TRACKED AFV?


Not only are we supplying the Bosnian Army old model M113A2s, the NATO and allied peacekeeping forces there are using them extensively. Above is an up-armored M113, wish we could do the same to U.S. Army M113A3s! LTC Antonio J. Candil Munoz, director of the Spanish Army CORAZO 2000 program writes in the March 1997, Military Technology magazine:

"JOINT ENDEAVOR also witnessed the widespread use of the "classical" M113 many versions and variants which were used by Canadian, Malaysian, Turkish and even U.S. Army units, which on several occasions did prefer it to the Bradley in order to stress the stated low intensity nature of their deployment. Indeed, the M113 proved to be nearly optimal solution; as a tracked vehicle, it offers better protection and higher mobility than wheeled AFVs, although its road speed is slower."

[Editor's note: A3 model M113 with band tracks are just as fast as rubber-tired armored cars!]


New Zealand up-armored M113A1 Gavin loading into USAF C-130 to fly to East Timor. While RAAF C-130s were flying in compact, tracked M113s, the sexy wheeled LAVs (ASLAVs) that the Australian Army also have were trudging along in ships for a port to offload. When they ASLAVs were put on duty, they got stuck in the mud. While the ASLAVs were unable to free themselves from the mud, M113s roamed through the countryside finding and arresting bandits. An American exchange officer reports:

"Just returned from Australia. While there, the Australian officers to include their senior leadership outlined the problems they encountered with the LAVs in East Timor. Apparently, the LAVs were never able to operate off the roads and when the rains washed out the asphalt road surfaces, the LAVs bellied out and the Australians became entirely dependent on the M113s for operations in the interior. They have decided that the LAVs are useful on roads inside Australia where the requirement to cross the northern deserts quickly make them useful. However, for deployments, they are inclined to restrict the use of LAVs to urban areas where the roads are good and rely otherwise exclusively on the new upgraded M113s that they are purchasing. Apparently, the ground pressure exerted by the LAVs is very high indeed and this was a problem on East Timor's poor roads as well. Plus the LAVs provide little or no protection against mines. Australian Generals like MG Abigail and Brigadier Quinn along with a host of Australian Majors and Lieutenant Colonels left me with the impression that the LAVs could be useful in the context of home defense, but should not be the first consideration for use in the deployable formations of the active army. Not sure this is really news, but in view of the language in the QDR that urges acceleration of the U.S. Army's 3400 man LAV-equipped motorized infantry brigades called IBCTs, the side-by-side testing with tracked vehicles is more critical than ever."

"Timor" Part 2 by Chris Nally, Airborne Quarterly, Summer 2000, Volume 13, No. 2, page 21

"As the combined Aussie/Kiwi/Brit Special Forces Group secured Komoro Airport and its environs, the bulk of the 3d Brigade operatonal deployment force was already inbound. 2d RAR which had been waiting in full combat order on a patch of grass at RAAF base Townsville since the previous evening was loaded into RAAF C-130s for a 4 hour direct flight fron Townsville into Dili. Inside the Herks the 2d RAR Digs were packed like sardines, unable to remove their packs or webbing for the duration of the flight. The arrival of the Battalion in Dili just before lunch was greeted with great relief by the 2 RAR Diggers who, along with a few M113A1 APCs from "B" Squadron 3/4 Cavalry Regiment were quickly deployed around the strip to secure it for following troops and supplies.

"After the securing the airport, members of the Special Forces Group moves into Dili proper, the city was almost deserted (except for groups of refugees huddling along the beach and thousands of Indonesian Soldiers) and complete disarray. Plumes of smoke rose from hundreds of burning homes and buildings."

Date: September 20, 1999
Unit: Australian Airborne SAS, Para-Commandos, New Zealanders, British Gurkhas
Operation: Stabilize
Troopers: 2,500 Peacekeepers
Country: East Timor, Indonesia
Dropzone: Dili airport
Aircraft: Airfield secured by UH-60 Blackhawks carry SAS troops, 37 sorties x 6 C-130 RAAF Hercules
Equipment/supplies air-delivered: Ammunition, Food (MREs), water, medical supplies
Type Air delivery: STOL airland troops, M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers, airdrop of foodstuffs to refugees in mountains

An international peace force airlifted more than 1,000 Soldiers to East Timor by nightfall today, seeking to take control of the provincial capital from pro-Indonesian militias who burned, looted and killed in a rampage that left Dili in smoking in ruins.

Dozens of Hercules transport planes from northern Australia landed at 20-minute intervals carrying the tools of war - vehicles and tons of ammunition, explosives, land mines and supplies.

Mark Colvin:

"Soldiers are moving around everywhere, Hercs are flying in every, you know, within half an hour sometimes, they're offloading quickly, they're walking off in full combat gear and then I've just seen two armoured personnel carriers, quite imposing vehicles, driving out of the airport, which is the first serious armoury we've seen turn up in Dili today."

Securing the airport, some commandos waded into high grass and palm trees and others crouched near the tarmac, guns at the ready, while the planes landed, swiftly unloaded, and took off for another sortie.

As the peacekeeping force spread across Dili toward the wharf, columns of black smoke from burning houses billowed over the city, apparently from fresh fires. Despite the arrival of the peacekeepers, it was still too dangerous to walk freely around the capital to investigate. More fires could be seen outside Dili and along the coast.

Flights were to continue through the night, and 500 more troops set sail from Darwin, Australia, aboard the Australian navy's seacat HMAS Jervis Bay. By daybreak Tuesday, operation commanders said they hoped to have 2,300 troops in East Timor.

Within hours of beginning the operation at dawn, heavily armed combat troops from Australia, New Zealand and Britain were in control of the airport and the harbor, the two vital links to Dili.

Indonesian soldiers watched in apparent bemusement as the force moved into position, outfitted in heavy battle fatigues, armored vests, packs and ammunition belts in the sweltering tropical heat.

Men wearing the red and white bandanas of anti-independence militias were among hundreds of people at the garbage-strewn harbor who watched the armed and helmeted Soldiers take positions near destroyed warehouses.

The chaotic port area was crowded with thousands of refugees waiting to escape after more than two weeks of violence. Throngs of people tried to clamber aboard a passenger ferry and Indonesian naval supply ship, which many believed were the last ships out.

Pro-Indonesia militias rejected East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence on Aug. 30 and went on a rampage in collusion with Indonesian security forces. Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

As the peacekeeping forces poured into East Timor, the militia groups opposed to independence have banded together to form a coalition called the United Nation Front, a news report said today.

''We won't attack the U.N. peacekeeping troops. We only want to defend our ground,'' coalition chief Joao da Silva Tavares said in a report broadcast on Indonesia's SCTV television.

The coalition was formed Sunday near the East Timorese town of Balibo. Indonesian military veterans from East Timor are also among the members, SCTV said.

So far, the troops ''met absolutely no resistance'' as they spread through the shattered capital, according to the peacekeeping force commander, Australian Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove. Despite reports of shooting Sunday night, ''by and large it has been a cordial reception,'' he said in Dili.

Peacekeeping officers shook hands with the Indonesian commanders, but the Indonesian presence at the airstrip was light, and it quickly became obvious who was in charge.

Before the first plane approached, Indonesian forces chased a herd of goats off the airstrip.

Peacekeepers disarmed two men who rode into the port area on a motorbike. They offered no resistance and sped away after troops ordered them to leave.

Many of the Australian troops took an intensive language program and speak Indonesian. A large majority of Dili's residents speak no English.

The peacekeeping mission, named Operation Stabilize, got under way five days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the force under Australia's command to quell the chaos.

The huge air operation deprived the United Nations of the planes it was using to drop of food to starving refugees in East Timor's mountains.

''There's a massive amount of relief ready to go,'' said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the U.N. Mission to East Timor, or UNAMET. ''The question is getting it in as soon as possible.''

In a report made available today, the U.N. Children's Fund estimated 190,000 to 300,000 refugees were hiding in East Timor, in addition to 141,000 who fled to West Timor. Fears were rising of epidemics in overcrowded refugee camps from the lack of water and sanitation, UNICEF said.

Sadako Ogata, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, met Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to discuss her visit Sunday to camps in West Timor, where independence supporters were herded by the militias in an attempt to evict the secessionists from East Timor and nullify the referendum.

She said she had to trust the Indonesian police to safeguard the refugees in West Timor, as well as operations the UNHCR hopes to set up there.

Here is a combat pic of the Australian 4th Armored Regiment patrolling through a river in search of fleeing East Timor terrorists in TRACKED M113s that got there by C-130 aircraft while the air-filled rubber tire WHEELED LAV 8x8 armored cars sat in the HMS Jervis Bay catamaran waiting for a port to offload...

Look through the several hundred pics of the Aussies in action like I did, and you will see the wheeled LAVs on the roads while the TRACKED M113s are doing the dirty work hunting down the terrorists in INFANTRY terrain...

Which would you fight in?

More Australian twin Medium Machine-Gun turret equipped M113A1s on combat patrol in East Timor, 1999...


Unlike some stupid armies and stupid marine corps that lust for rubber-tired armored cars, the Australian Army has learned its lesson and is upgrading their M113 light tracked WAR machines:

TENIX company M113 upgrade for Australian Army

Good job, Diggers!


The fix was in from the beginning that the LAV-III would "win" the competition with many of the senior officers who made this decision now retired and working for General Dynamics: Heebner, Keane, Abrams and others. The Soldiers who now suffer in the road-bound Stryker truck deathtrap have been fed a daily diet of lies about "how much better they are than walking" to smokescreen the FACT that the mighty M113 Gavin beat the LAV-III in ALL tests and the Army's officials not only lied and covered this up to preserve their "meal ticket" they could be better protected, more mobile and dozens of them ALIVE and not maimed today if the BEST vehicle was chosen to equip the new brigade combat teams.

We warned the Army brass with an entire book, laying out ALL of the exact details in 2 editions of "Air-Mech-Strike" and even delivered a copy onto Army Chief General Shinseki's desk. The preponderance of evidence backs a tracked transformation as even the Future Combat System (FCS) will be on band tracks as announced recently in 2005. We also wrote many letters and articles like the April 2000 one below in Armed Forces Journal "Its the weight not wheels" by 1st TSG (A) Director, Mike Sparks in good faith that the Army's officials were also acting in good faith in the best interests of our country and our Soldiers and not their egos and pocket books.

We were wrong about our officials being open to the truth and putting service before self, but we have been 100% right all along about what's BEST for America's Soldiers, our mission and our future: to fully exploit the greatest AFV of all time, ever: the M113 Gavin!

IRAQ II: 2002-PRESENT: victory liberating from Saddam, holding bad situation together during the occupation

173rd Airborne Brigade jumps into Northern Iraq: follow-on echelon of 4 platoons of M113A3 Gavins, M2 Bradleys and M1 Abrams airland afterwards

Now if we had only parachute airdropped the M113A3 Gavins and their infantry to get into blocking positions sooner....we might have gotten Saddam before losing 500+ dead Soldiers. We should follow up this success in the 173rd ABN BDE by placing their IRF-M into parachute jump status with M113A3 Gavins to rapidly fan out from drop zones and execute decisive 3D air-ground maneuvers.

M113 Gavins Airlanded in closing days of Iraqi Freedom attack Phase

Interesting, check out this article in the last issue of MILITARY REVIEW:

Seems that 4 platoons of M113 Gavins WERE airlanded as part of the Northern Front, along with a platoon of Brads and of Abrams. Would love to see the logistic AAR for that operation. The article also says an innovative e-mail based logistic system located and moved parts to the airhead with a 24 hour turn around time, without moving mountains of stuff to theater. The young sergeants and officers are doing real logistic transformation with the tools they have, without waiting for DA to do it top-driven.


M113A3 Super Gavins in Iraq combat by 1st Cavalry

This is a pic from a recent Fort Benning BAYONET newspaper showing a heavily up-armored M113A3 Super Gavin in Iraq being used as a HOOAH! backdrop showing its still a vehicle beloved by Soldiers in the Army; in this case, the Cavalry---who should have had these light tracks all along!

We thought Saddam Hussein was killed in the first "Shock and Awe" USAF air strike firepower?

What is infuriating is that 500 dead and 2000 wounded, 8 months later it took 2D GROUND maneuver by the U.S. Army's mechanized 4th ID and some SF troops to get him, even though the RMA/Tofflerians are constantly badgering Congress for more funding for sexy aircraft bombs. What should be learned from the U.S. Army--and will be missed until the gloating is over----is that had we used 3D air-mech maneuver like we did when we parachuted troops and light tracked AFVs in Panama in 1989 when we quickly got Manuel Noriega---we could have surrounded Baghdad quickly before Saddam could have fled to home town Tikrit. This means we should get upgraded M113 Gavins and M8 Buford AGS light tanks quickly into service in a parachute forced-entry unit ASAP so they next time we get the Bin Laden and Saddams before they can flee---and early to save American and civilian lives.

The heavy combats in Iraq have been done from the Army's light M113 Gavins, medium M2/M3 Bradleys and heavy M1 Abrams tanks....not "Stryker" rubber-tired armored cars....but the wheeled HMMWV and FMTV trucks used there have been clobbered by the enemy as the Strykers tragically soon will be. The Army's Shinsekiite senior leaders in love with their own Tofflerian mentalism hubris have wasted $$$BILLIONS of dollars on vehicles that are flaming coffins for our men and neglected the actual combat-proven light, medium and heavy tracked AFVs that have kicked enemy ass. For example EVERY U.S. Army M113 Gavin should have RPG-resistant applique' armor and gunshields fitted as well as belly armor:

Belly Armor Kit / Cage No. 80212, P/N 4240277

Chapter III: Growth of U.S. Armored Forces in Vietnam

"To reduce mine damage to M113's, 'belly armor' kits arrived in 1969. When this supplemental armor was applied to M113's and Sheridans, it protected them from mine blast rupture, saved many lives, and gave the crews added confidence"

What current Army leaders do not understand is the way you achieve excellence in life and win battles and wars is by doing EVERYTHING in your power to win. We do not have the time or the M1/M2s to outfit the Army Soldiers running around in Iraq on foot and in HMMWV/FMTV trucks; BUT WE DO HAVE 13,000+ M113 Gavins. If we harden our supply convoys, stop running around naked when doing city raids AND clear the Main Supply Route (MSR) with the Engineer Cavalry (ECAV) troops the SUM TOTAL of these improvements is greater than the whole of its parts looked at in isolation. Synergism. Everybody fights, everybody works.

We cannot afford the fuel costs (tactical and human life) of more M1s even if we could remove turrets and make "Tank Fighting Vehicles":

Estimate 400 x M1/M2s are in just one 4th ID BDE over there now. 200 x M1s with diesel need complete fill-up once a day. Round fuel capacity to 500 gallons thats 100,000 gallons a day for M1s. M2s only need refuelling every two days; so 200 x M2s need 100 gallons a day = 20,000 gallons for a grand total of 120, 000 gallons a day.

The HEMMT can carry 2,500 gallons of fuel.

To carry 120,000 gallons requires 48 x HEMMT trucks.

These are big, vulnerable targets. I'd say it ends up creating 48 x convoys so each convoy doesn't have a rolling molotov cocktail to incinerate everyone involved.

Least risk per convoy = 1 HEMMT tanker per convoy = 48 convoys along the MSR

2 x HEMMT tankers per convoy = 24 convoys....and so on.

48 x POL plus other supply convoys forces us to if we disperse run 1 convoy every 30 minutes. Running all 48 at one time would be suicidal.

The answer is to realize the modern battlefield is NON-LINEAR and stop having troops riding around in wheeled vehicles in COMBAT AREAS.

U.S. ARMY'S 3rd INFANTRY DIVISION (MECHANIZED): Soldiers in TRACKS BEATS marines-in-trucks to Baghdad; triumph of 4GW ground maneuver over Tofflerian RMA mental firepower hubris

This is the story of the tracked, mechanized "Thunder Run" into Baghdad that collapsed the Iraqi resistance. It looks like the "Thunder Run" will replace the Battle of 73 Easting as the most studied ground engagement in U.S. History.

Los Angeles Times Magazine
December 7, 2003

The Thunder Run

The most successful combat vehicle in Iraq has been the M113 Gavin

'Are you kidding, sir?': Fewer than 1,000 Soldiers were ordered to capture a city of 5 million Iraqis. Theirs is a story that may become military legend.

By David Zucchino

Nine hundred and seventy-five men invading a city of 5 million sounded audacious, or worse, to the U.S. troops assigned the mission outside Baghdad last April 6. Ten years earlier, in Mogadishu, outnumbered American Soldiers had been trapped and killed by Somali street fighters. Now some U.S. commanders, convinced the odds were far better in Iraq, scrapped the original plan for taking Baghdad with a steady siege and instead ordered a single bold thrust into the city. The battle that followed became the climax of the war and rewrote American military doctrine on urban warfare.

Back home, Americans learned of the victory in sketchy reports that focused on the outcome-a column of armored vehicles had raced into the city and seized Saddam Hussein's palaces and ministries. What the public didn't know was how close the U.S. forces came to experiencing another Mogadishu. Military units were surrounded, waging desperate fights at three critical interchanges. If any of those fell, the Americans would have been cut off from critical supplies and ammunition.

Embedded journalists reported the battle's broad outlines in April, but a more detailed account has since emerged in interviews with more than 70 of the brigade's officers and men who described the fiercest battle of the war-and one they nearly lost.

Times staff writer David Zucchino, who was embedded with Task Force 4-64 of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), returned to the United States recently to report this story.

On the afternoon of April 4, Army Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz was summoned to a command tent pitched in a dusty field 11 miles south of Baghdad. His brigade commander, Col. David Perkins, looked up from a map and told Schwartz he had a mission for him.

"At first light tomorrow," Perkins said, "I want you to attack into Baghdad."

Schwartz felt disoriented. He had just spent several hours in a tank, leading his armored battalion on an operation that had destroyed dozens of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles 20 miles south. A hot shard of exploding tank had burned a hole in his shoulder.

"Are you kidding, sir?" Schwartz asked, as he waited for the other officers inside the tent to laugh.

There was silence.

"No," Perkins said. "I need you to do this."

Schwartz was stunned. No American troops had yet set foot inside the capital. The original U.S. battle plan called for Airborne Soldiers, not tanks, to take the city. The tankers had trained for desert warfare, not urban combat. But now Perkins, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), was ordering Schwartz's tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles on a charge into the unknown.

Schwartz's "thunder run" into the city the next morning was a prelude to the fall of Baghdad. It triggered a grinding three-day battle, the bloodiest of the war-and dismissed any public perception of a one-sided slaughter of a passive enemy. Entire Iraqi army units threw down their weapons and fled, but thousands __`Э______ф1S+__9щ`О_щG`1ЗOВ"'rrillas fought from bunkers and rooftops with grenades, rockets and mortars.

The 2nd Brigade's ultimate seizure of Baghdad has few modern parallels. It was a calculated gamble that will be taught at military academies and training exercises for years to come. It changed the way the military thinks about fighting with tanks in a city. It brought the conflict in Iraq to a decisive climax and shortened the initial combat of the war, perhaps by several weeks.

But when Eric Schwartz got the mission that would prime the battlefield for the decisive strike on Baghdad, he had no idea what he had taken on. Task Force 1-64, a battalion nicknamed Rogue, rumbled north on Highway 8 toward Baghdad. The column seemed to stretch to the shimmer panicked and leaped out, breaking his leg. A Bradley cr squat tan forms bathed in pale yellow light. It was dawn on April 5, a bright, hot Saturday.

Schwartz's battalion had been ordered to sprint through 10 1/2 miles of uncharted territory. The column was to conduct "armored reconnaissance," to blow through enemy defenses, testing strengths and tactics. It was to slice through Baghdad's southwestern corner and link up at the airport with the division's 1st Brigade, which had seized the facility the day before.

In the lead tank was 1st Lt. Robert Ball, a slender, soft-spoken North Carolinian. Just 25, Ball had never been in combat until two weeks earlier. He was selected to lead the column not because he had a particularly refined sense of direction but because his tank had a plow. Commanders were expecting obstacles in the highway.

The battalion had been given only a few hours to prepare. Ball studied his military map, but it had no civilian markings-no exit numbers, no neighborhoods. He was worried about missing his exit to the airport at what fellow officers called the "spaghetti junction," a maze of twisting overpasses and offramps on Baghdad's western cusp.

Ball's map was clipped to the top of his tank hatch as the column lumbered up Highway 8. He had been rolling only about 10 minutes when his gunner spotted a dozen Iraqi soldiers leaning against a building several hundred yards away, chatting, drinking tea, their weapons propped against the wall. They had not yet heard the rumble of the approaching tanks.

"Sir, can I shoot at these guys?" the gunner asked.

"Uh, yeah, they're enemy," Ball told him.

Ball had fired at soldiers in southern Iraq, but they had been murky green figures targeted with the tank's thermal imagery system. These soldiers were in living color. Through the tank's sights, Ball could see their eyes, their mustaches, their steaming cups of tea.

The gunner mowed them down methodically, left to right. As each man fell, Ball could see shock cross the face of the next man before he, too, pitched violently to the ground. The last man fled around the corner of the building. But then, inexplicably, he ran back into the open. The gunner dropped him.

The clattering of the tank's rapid-fire medium machine gun seemed to awaken fighters posted along the highway. Gunfire erupted from both sides-AK-47

automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, followed minutes later by recoilless rifles and antiaircraft guns.

Iraqi soldiers and militiamen were firing from a network of trenches and bunkers carved into the highway's shoulders, and from rooftops and alleyways. Some were inside cargo containers buried in the dirt. Others were tucked beneath the overpasses or firing down from bridges.

In the southbound lanes, civilian cars were cruising past, their occupants staring wide-eyed at the fireballs erupting from the tank's main guns and the bright tracer flashes from the rapid-fire medium and .50-caliber machine guns. From onramps and access roads, other cars packed with Iraqi gunmen were attacking. Mixed in were troop trucks, armored personnel carriers, taxis and motorcycles with sidecars.

The crews were under strict orders to identify targets as military before firing. They were to fire warning shots, then shoot into engine blocks if a vehicle continued to approach. Some cars screeched to a halt. Others kept coming, and the gunners ripped into them. The crews could see soldiers or armed civilians in some of the smoking hulks. In others, they weren't sure. Nobody knew how many civilians had been killed. They knew only that any vehicle that kept coming was violently eliminated.

As the column lurched forward, buses and trucks unloaded Iraqi fighters.

Some were in uniform, some in jeans and sports shirts. Others wore the baggy black robes of the Fedayeen Saddam, Hussein's loyal militiamen. To the Americans, they seemed to have no training, no discipline, no coordinated tactics. It was all point and shoot. The machine guns sent chunks of their bodies onto the roadside.

The Americans were suffering casualties, too. A Bradley was hit by an RPG and disabled. The driver panicked and leaped out, breaking his leg. A Bradley commander stopped and dragged the driver to safety.

At a highway cloverleaf, a tank was hit in its rear engine housing and burst into flames. The column stopped as the crew tried desperately to put out the fire. But the flames, fed by leaking fuel, spread.

The entire column was now exposed and taking heavy fire. Two suicide vehicles packed with explosives sped down the offramps. They were destroyed by tank cannons. After nearly 30 minutes of fighting, Perkins ordered the tank abandoned. To keep the tank out of Iraqi hands, the crew destroyed it with incendiary grenades.

By now the resistance was organizing. Fighters who appeared to be dead or wounded were suddenly leaping up and firing at the backs of American vehicles. Schwartz ordered his gunners to "double tap," to shoot anybody

they saw moving near a weapon. "If it was a confirmed kill, they'd let it go," Schwartz said later. "If it wasn't, they'd tap it again. We were checking our work."

At the head of the column, Ball was approaching the spaghetti junction. His map showed the exit splitting into two ramps. He knew he wanted the ramp to the right. He had been following blue English "Airport" signs, but now smoke from a burning Iraqi personnel carrier obscured the entire cloverleaf.

In the web of overpasses, Ball found the ramp he wanted and stayed right. He was halfway down when he realized he should have taken a different one. Now he was heading east into downtown Baghdad, the opposite direction from the airport. The entire column was following him.

He told his driver to turn left, then roll over the guardrail and turn back onto the westbound lanes. The rail crumbled, the column followed, and everyone rumbled back toward the airport.

Behind Ball, a tank commanded by Lt. Roger Gruneisen had fallen behind. Some equipment from the crippled tank had been dumped onto the top of Gruneisen's tank, obstructing his view from the hatch. With the emergency addition of Staff Sgt. Jason Diaz, commander of the burning tank, and Diaz's gunner,

Gruneisen now had five men squeezed into a tank designed for four.

The gunner had swung the main gun right to fire on a bunker. In the loader's hatch, Sgt. Carlos Hernandez saw that the gun tube was headed for a concrete bridge abutment. He screamed, "Traverse left!" But they were moving rapidly. The gun tube smacked the abutment. The entire turret spun like a top. Inside, the crewmen were pinned against the walls, struggling to hold on as the turret turned wildly two dozen times before stopping. It was like an out-of-control carnival ride.

The crew was dizzy. Hernandez looked at the gunner. Blood was spurting from his nose. His head and chest were soaked with greenish-yellow hydraulic fluid. The impact had severed a hydraulic line. Except for the gunner's bloody nose, no one was hurt.

The main gun was bent and smashed. It flopped to the side, useless. The tank continued up Highway 8, Gruneisen on the .50-caliber and Hernandez on a medium machine gun. They rolled up to the spaghetti junction into a curtain of black smoke-and missed the airport turn. They were headed into the city center.

Hernandez saw that they were approaching a traffic circle. As they drew closer, he saw that the circle was clogged with Iraqi military trucks and soldiers. It was a staging area for troops attacking the American column.

From around the circle, just a block away, a yellow pickup truck sped toward the tank. Hernandez tore into it with the machine gun, killing the driver. The tank driver slammed on the brake to avoid the truck, but it was crushed beneath the treads. The impact sent Hernandez's machine gun tumbling off the back of the tank.

The tank reversed to clear itself from the wreckage, crushing the machine gun. A passenger from the truck wandered into the roadway. The tank pitched forward, trying to escape the circle, and crushed him.

The crew was now left with just one medium machine gun and the .50-caliber. Firing both guns to clear the way, the crewmen helped direct the tank driver out of the circle. As they pulled away, they could see a blue "Airport" sign. They were less than five miles from the airport.

They caught up with the column. They passed groves of date palm trees and thick underbrush, and everyone worried about another ambush.

In the lead platoon, Staff Sgt. Stevon Booker was leaning out of his tank commander's hatch, firing his M-4 carbine because his .50-caliber machine gun had jammed. Enemy fire was so intense that Booker had ordered his loader, Pvt. Joseph Gilliam, to get down in the hatch. As Booker leaned down, he told Gilliam: "I don't want to die in this country." As he resumed firing, he shouted down to Gilliam and the gunner, Sgt. David Gibbons: "I'm a baad mother!"

Gilliam, 21, and Gibbons, 22, idolized Booker, who, at 34, was experienced and decisive. He was a loud, aggressive, extroverted lifer. His booming voice was the first thing his men heard in the morning and the last thing at night.

As Gibbons, in the gunner's perch at Booker's feet inside the turret, fired rounds, he felt Booker drop down behind him. He assumed he had come down to get more ammunition. But then he heard the loader, Gilliam, scream and curse. He looked back at Booker and saw that half his jaw was missing. He had been hit by a machine-gun round.


The turret was splattered with blood. As Gibbons crawled up in the commander's hatch, he saw that Booker was trying to breathe. He radioed for help and was ordered to stop and wait for medics. Gibbons and Gilliam tried to perform "buddy aid" to stop the bleeding.

The medics arrived and, under fire, lifted Booker's body into the medical vehicle. The driver sped toward a medevac helicopter at the airport, just as the physician's assistant radioed that Booker was gone. The assistant covered the sergeant's bloodied face and, not knowing what else to do, held his hand. Booker's body arrived just ahead of the rest of the column, which rolled onto the tarmac in a hail of gunfire. Some of the tanks and Bradleys were on fire and leaking oil, but they had survived the gantlet.

At the airport that morning, Col. Perkins spoke on the tarmac with his superior, Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, the 3rd Infantry Division commander. Rogue battalion had lost a tank commander and tank, but they had killed almost 1,000 fighters and torn a hole in Baghdad's defenses.

Blount wanted to keep the pressure on Saddam's forces. He had seen intelligence suggesting that Saddam's elite Republican Guard units were being sent into Baghdad to reinforce the capital. But, in truth, he really didn't have good intelligence. It was too dangerous to send in scouts. Satellite imagery didn't show bunkers or camouflaged armor and artillery. Blount had access to only one unmanned spy drone, and its cameras weren't providing much either.

Prisoners of war had told U.S. interrogators that the Iraqi military was expecting American tanks to surround the city while infantry from the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne cleared the capital. And that was the U.S. plan-at least until the thunder run that morning altered the equation.

Blount told Perkins to go back into the city in two days, on Monday the 7th. Blount wanted him to test the city's defenses, destroy as many Iraqi forces as possible and then come out to prepare for the siege of the capital.

Perkins was eager to go back in, but not for another thunder run. He wanted to stay. He had just heard Mohammed Said Sahaf, the bombastic information minister, deliver a taunting news conference, claiming that no American forces had entered Baghdad and that Iraqi troops had slaughtered hundreds of American "scoundrels" at the airport.

When Perkins got back to the brigade operations center south of the city, he told his executive officer, Lt. Col. Eric Wesley: "This just changed from a tactical war to an information war. We need to go in and stay."

The brigade was exhausted. It had been on the move day and night, rolling up from Kuwait and fighting Fedayeen and Republican Guard units-sprinting 435 miles in just over two weeks, the fastest overland march in U.S. military history. Their tanks and Bradleys were beat up. The crews had not slept in days. Now they had just one day to prepare for the pivotal battle of the war.

The charge up Highway 8 on April 7 was similar to the sprint by Rogue Battalion two days earlier. Fedayeen and Arab volunteers and Republican Guards fired from roadside bunkers and from windows and alleys on both sides of the highway. Suicide vehicles tried to ram the column.

Gunners pounded everything that moved, radioing back to trailing vehicles to kill off what they missed. It took only two hours to blow through the spaghetti junction and speed east to Saddam's palace complex. Schwartz's

lead battalion, Rogue, rolled to Saddam's parade field, with its massive crossed sabers and tomb of the unknown Soldier. Rogue also seized one of Saddam's two main downtown palaces, the convention center and the Rashid Hotel, home to the Baath Party elite.

Lt. Col. Philip deCamp's Task Force 4-64, the Tusker battalion, swung to the east and raced for Saddam's hulking Republican Palace and the 14th of July Bridge, which controlled access to the palace complex from the south.

The targets had been selected not only for their strategic value, but also because they were in open terrain. The palace complex consisted of broad boulevards, gardens and parks-and few tall buildings or narrow alleyways. The battalions could set up defensive positions, with open fields of fire.

The Tusker battalion destroyed bunkers at the western arch of the Republican Palace grounds, blew apart two recoilless rifles teams guarding the arch and smashed through a metal gate. The palace had been evacuated, but there were soldiers in a tree line and along the Tigris River bank. The infantrymen killed some, and others fled, stripping off their uniforms.

At a traffic circle at the base of the 14th of July Bridge, Capt. Steve Barry's Cyclone Company fought off cars and trucks that streaked across the bridge, some packed with explosives. There were three in the first 10 minutes, six more right after that. The tanks and Bradleys destroyed them all.

By midmorning, Perkins was meeting with his two battalion commanders on Saddam's parade grounds. They gave live interviews to an embedded Fox TV crew. Lt. Col. DeCamp and one of his company commanders, Capt. Chris Carter-both University of Georgia graduates-unfurled a Georgia Bulldogs flag. Capt. Jason Conroy toppled a massive Saddam statue with a single tank round.

As his tankers celebrated, Perkins took a satellite phone call from Wesley, his executive officer. Wesley ran the brigade's tactical operations center, a network of radios, computers, satellite maps and communications vehicles set up on the cement courtyard of an abandoned warehouse 11 miles south of the city center.

It was hard for Wesley to hear on his hand-held Iridium phone; a high-pitched whine sounded over his head. He thought it was a low-flying airplane.

Wesley shouted into the phone: "Congratulations, sir, I-" and at that instant an orange fireball blew past him and slammed him to the ground. The whine wasn't an airplane. It was a missile. The entire operations center was engulfed in flames. Wesley still had the phone. "Sir," he said. "We've been hammered!"


"We've been hit. I'll have to call you back. It doesn't look good."

Rows of signal vehicles were on fire and exploding. A line of parked Humvees evaporated, consumed in a brilliant flash. Men were writhing on the ground, their skin seared. A driver and a mechanic were swallowed by the fireball, killed instantly. Another driver, horribly burned, lay dying. Two embedded reporters perished on the concrete, their corpses scorched to gray ash. Seventeen Soldiers were wounded, some seriously.

The brigade's nerve center, its communications brain, was gone. The entire mission-the brigade's audacious plan to conquer a city of 5 million with 975 combat Soldiers and 88 armored vehicles in a single violent strike-was in jeopardy.

It got worse. As Wesley and his officers tended to the dead and wounded, Perkins was receiving distressing reports from Lt. Col. Stephen Twitty, a battalion commander charged with keeping the brigade's supply lines open along Highway 8. One of Twitty's companies was surrounded. It was "amber" on fuel and ammunition-a level dangerously close to "black," the point at which there is not enough to sustain a fight.

[EDITOR: why M1s need diesel engines not turbine engines]

The Baghdad raid, launched at dawn, was now approaching its sixth hour-well past the Hour Four deadline Perkins had set to decide whether to stay for the night. That benchmark was critical because his tanks, which consume 56 gallons of fuel an hour, had eight to 10 hours of fuel. That meant four hours going in and four coming out.

To conserve fuel, Perkins ordered the tanks set up in defensive positions and shut down. They couldn't maneuver, but they could still fire-and each hour they were turned off bought Perkins another hour. Even so, time was running out for Twitty, whose outnumbered companies were clinging to three crucial interchanges.

"Sir, there's one hell of a fight here," Twitty told Perkins. "I'll be honest with you: I don't know how long I can hold it here."

Even after Twitty received reinforcements, tying up the brigade's only reserve force, his men had to be resupplied. But the resupply convoy was ambushed on Highway 8; two sergeants were killed and five fuel and ammunition trucks were destroyed. The highway was a shooting gallery. If Perkins lost the roadway, he and his men would be trapped in the city without fuel or ammunition.

American combat commanders are trained to develop a "decision support matrix," an analytical breakdown of alternatives based on a rapidly unfolding chain of circumstances. For Perkins, the matrix was telling him: cut your losses, pull back, return another day. His command center was in flames. He had spent his reserve force. And now his fuel and ammunition were burning on the highway.

On the parade grounds, Perkins stood next to his [M113 Gavin] armored personnel carrier, map in hand, flanked by his two tank battalion commanders. The air was heavy with swirling sand and grit. Black plumes of oily smoke rose from burning vehicles and bunkers.

Perkins knew the prudent move was to pull out, but he felt compelled to stay. His men had fought furiously to reach the palace complex. It seemed obscene to make them fight their way back out, and to surrender terrain infused with incalculable psychological and strategic value.

Sahaf, the delusional information minister, was already claiming that no American "infidels" had breached the city's defenses. Perkins had just heard Sahaf's distinctive rant on BBC radio: "The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad." A retreat now, Perkins thought, would validate the minister's lies. It would unravel the brigade's singular achievement, which had put American soldiers inside Saddam's two main palaces and American boots on his reviewing stand.

Perkins turned to his tank battalion commanders. "We're staying."

Lt. Col. Stephen Twitty is right-handed, but early that morning he found himself drawing diagrams with his left hand. He was crouched in a Bradley hatch, holding a radio with his right hand while he tried to diagram an emergency battle plan.

Over the radio net, Twitty had heard the tank battalions in the city celebrating and discussing the wine collections at Saddam's palaces. He was only a few miles away, at a Highway 8 interchange code-named Objective Larry, but he was in the fight of his life. Twitty had survived the first Gulf War, but he had never encountered anything like this.

His men were being pounded from all directions-by small arms, mortars, RPGs, gun trucks, recoilless rifles. The two tank battalions had punched through Highway 8, but now the enemy had regrouped and was mounting a relentless counterattack against Twitty's mechanized infantry battalion.

As he scratched out his battle plan, Twitty spotted an orange-and-white taxi speeding toward his Bradley. A man in the back seat was firing an AK-47.

He realized how absurd he sounded. So he shouted at his Bradley gunner: "Slew the turret and fire!" The gunner spotted the taxi and fired a blast of 25mm rounds. The taxi blew up. It had been loaded with explosives.

Twitty's China battalion, Task Force 3-15, would destroy dozens of vehicles that day, many of them packed with explosives. They would blow up buses and motorcycles and pickup trucks. They would kill hundreds of fighters, as well as civilians who inadvertently blundered into the fight. Twitty ordered his engineers to tear down highway signs and light poles and pile up charred vehicles to build protective berms. But several suicide cars crashed through, and Twitty's men kept killing them. Twitty was astonished. He hadn't expected much resistance, but the Syrians and Fedayeen were relentless, fanatical, determined to die.

Twitty saw a busload of soldiers pull straight into the kill zone. A tank round obliterated the vehicle-burning alive everyone inside. The driver of a second busload saw the carnage, yet kept coming. The tanks lit up his bus, too.

From Objective Moe, about two miles north, and from Objective Curly, about two miles south, Twitty received urgent calls requesting mortar and artillery fire-"danger close," or within 220 yards of their own positions. Mortars and artillery screamed down, driving the Syrians and Fedayeen back. But at Curly, a stray round wounded two American infantrymen, and the artillery was shut down there.

At Curly, Capt. Zan Hornbuckle had enemy fighters inside his perimeter. He sent infantrymen to clear the ramps and overpasses. It was dangerous, methodical work. The infantrymen crept up behind a series of support walls, tossed grenades into trenches, then gunned down the fighters inside as they rose to return fire.

The Americans were killing fighters by the dozens, but the infantrymen were getting hit, too. Their flak vests protected vital organs, but several men were dragged back with bright red shrapnel wounds ripped into their arms, legs and necks.

Dr. Erik Schobitz, the battalion surgeon, treated the wounded. Capt. Schobitz was a pediatrician with no combat experience. He had never fired an automatic rifle until a month earlier. Schobitz wore a stethoscope with a yellow plastic rabbit attached-his lucky stethoscope. It was hanging there when a sliver of shrapnel hit his face, wounding him slightly.

With Schobitz was Capt. Steve Hommel, the battalion chaplain. He moved from one wounded man to the next, talking softly, squeezing their hands. Hommel had been a combat infantry sergeant in the first Gulf War, but even he was alarmed. He feared being overrun-there were hundreds of enemy fighters bearing down on just 80 combat Soldiers, who were backed by Bradleys but no tanks. Hommel tried to appear calm while comforting the wounded.

Enemy fighters were firing on the medics, and some of them fired back. The chaplain grabbed one medic's M-16 and shot at muzzle flashes east of the highway. Hommel didn't know whether he hit anyone, and he didn't want to know. He was a Baptist minister.

Several miles north, at Objective Moe, Capt. Josh Wright was struggling to keep his perimeter intact. Two of Wright's three platoon sergeants were wounded, and two engineers went down with shrapnel wounds. A gunner was hit with a ricochet. An infantryman dragging a wounded enemy soldier to safety was hit in the wrist and stomach. One Bradley's TOW missile launcher was destroyed. Another Bradley had a machine gun go down. One of the tanks lost use of its main gun.

Wright radioed Twitty and asked for permission to fire on a mosque to the north. Through his sights, he could see an RPG team in each minaret and another on the mosque roof. Under the rules of engagement, the mosque was now a hostile, nonprotected site. Twitty granted permission to fire. All three RPG teams were killed, leaving smoking black holes in the minarets.

By now, Wright had managed to get infantrymen and snipers into buildings north of the interchange. They were able to kill advancing fighters while mortar rounds ripped into soldiers hiding in the palm grove.

Then the mortars stopped. The platoon mortar leader at Objective Curly radioed Wright and apologized profusely. He was "black"-completely out of mortar rounds. He couldn't fire again until the resupply convoy was sent north.

Wright's own men were now telling him they were "amber" on all types of ammunition. Wright wasn't certain how much longer he could hold the interchange.

At Objective Curly, Hornbuckle tried to sound positive on the radio but Twitty could hear the stress in his voice. He asked the captain to put on the battalion command sergeant major, Robert Gallagher. A leathery-faced

Army Ranger of 40, Gallagher had survived the battle at Mogadishu, where he had been wounded three times. Twitty knew Gallagher would be blunt.

"All right, sergeant major, I want the truth," Twitty said. "Do you need reinforcements?"

"Sir, we need reinforcements," Gallagher said.

Twitty radioed Perkins and told him he could not hold Curly without reinforcements.

"If you need it, you've got it," Perkins assured him.

Twitty called Capt. Ronny Johnson, commander of the reserve company defending the operations center, which was still burning.

"How fast can you get here?" Twitty asked.

"Sir, I can be there in 15 minutes," Johnson said. It was only about two miles from the operations center to Curly.

"That's not fast enough. Get here now."

Johnson and his platoon raced north on Highway 8, fighting through a withering ambush. With 10 Bradleys and 65 infantrymen, the convoy bulked up the combat power at Curly. They plunged into the fight, stabilizing the perimeter.

At the burning operations center, executive officer Wesley was directing casualty evacuation and trying to build a makeshift command center, combining computers and communications equipment that had escaped the fireball with gear salvaged from burning vehicles. Within an hour, they had fashioned a temporary communications network across the highway from the scorched ruins.

Back in radio communication, Wesley resumed helping Perkins direct the battles. He offered to send the rest of Johnson's company to Curly to solidify the interchange. That left the stripped-down operations center virtually unprotected.

At Objective Larry, Twitty's men were beginning to run low on ammunition. He could hear his gunner screaming, "More ammo! Get us more ammo!"

Twitty had to get the supply convoy to the interchanges, a dangerous endeavor. The fuel tankers were 2,500-gallon bombs on wheels. The ammunition trucks were portable fireworks factories. In military argot, they were the ultimate "soft-skin" vehicles. Worse, there were no tanks or Bradleys to escort them; they were all fighting in the city or at the three interchanges.

Twitty called Johnson at Curly and asked for an assessment.

"Sir," Johnson said, "what I can tell you is, it's not as intense a fight as it was an hour ago but we're still in a pretty good fight here."

Twitty asked to hear from Gallagher. "Boss," Gallagher said, "I'm not going to tell you we can get 'em through without risk, but we can get 'em through."

Twitty put the radio down and lowered his head. He had to make a decision. And whatever he decided, American Soldiers were going to die. He knew it. They would die at one of the interchanges, where they would be overrun if they weren't resupplied. Or they would die in the convoy.

He picked up the radio. "All right," he said. "We're going to execute."

Just north of the burning operations center, Capt. J.O. Bailey was in a command armored personnel carrier, leading the supply convoy-six fuel tankers and eight ammunition trucks. He felt vulnerable; he had no idea where he was going to park all his combustible vehicles in the middle of a firefight.

The convoy had gone less than a mile when Bailey spotted a mob of about 100 armed men across railroad tracks. He was on the radio, warning everyone, when the convoy was rocked by explosions.

Near the head of the convoy, Sgt. 1st Class John W. Marshall opened up with a grenade launcher in the turret of his soft-skin Humvee. Marshall was 50-one of the oldest men in the brigade-and had volunteered for Iraq. Marshall had just sent grenades crashing toward the gunmen when the top of the Humvee exploded. In the front seat, SPC. Kenneth Krofta was stunned by a flash of light. Black smoke was blowing through the Humvee. Krofta looked up into the turret. Marshall was gone. He had been blown out of the vehicle by a grenade blast. {GUNSHIELDS?]

The driver, PFC. Angel Cruz, stopped and got out, looking for Marshall. He saw gunmen approaching and squeezed off a burst from his rifle. Bullets ripped into the Humvee.

The radio squawked. Cruz was ordered to move out. Soldiers in another vehicle had seen Marshall's body. He was dead. The convoy was speeding up, trying to escape the kill zone. A week would pass before the battalion was able to retrieve Marshall's corpse.

As the convoy raced through the ambush, an RPG rocketed into a personnel carrier. Staff Sgt. Robert Stever, who had just fired more than 1,000 rounds from his .50-caliber machine gun, was blown back into the vehicle, killed instantly. [GUNSHIELDS?] Shrapnel tore into Chief Warrant Officer Angel Acevedo and Pfc. Jarred Metz, wounding both.

Metz was knocked from the driver's perch. His legs were numb and blood was seeping through his uniform. He dragged himself back into position and kept the vehicle moving. Acevedo was bleeding, too. Screaming instructions to Metz, he directed the vehicle back into the speeding column with Stever's body slumped inside.

Riddled with shrapnel, the convoy limped into the interchange at Curly-and directly into the firefight. Bailey was trying to move his convoy out of harm's way when something slammed into a fuel tanker. The vehicle exploded. Hunks of the tanker flew off, forming super-heated projectiles that tore into other vehicles. Three ammunition trucks and a second fuel tanker exploded. Ammunition started to cook off. Rounds screamed in all directions, ripping off chunks of concrete and slicing through vehicles. The trucks were engulfed in orange fireballs.

Mechanics and drivers sprinted for the vehicles that were intact. They cranked up the engines and drove them to safety beneath the overpass, managing to save five ammunition trucks and four fuel tankers-enough to resupply the combat teams at all three intersections.

Fuel and ammunition were unloaded under fire. The surviving vehicles headed north to Objective Larry, escorted by Bradleys, breaking through the firefight there and arriving safely.

Twitty felt overwhelming relief. He knew he could break the enemy now, and so could the combat team at Objective Curly. But he still had to resupply Capt. Wright at Objective Moe.

Capt. Johnson, whose Bradleys had escorted the convoy to resupply Twitty, headed north toward Moe. By radio, Johnson arranged with Wright to have Highway 8 cleared of obstacles so that the convoy could pull in, stop briefly and let the resupply vehicles designated for Wright peel off. Then Johnson's vehicles were to continue on, obeying a new order from Perkins to secure the mile-long stretch of highway between Objective Moe and Perkins' palace command post in the city center.

The convoy broke through the battle lines and stopped at the cloverleaf at Moe. But there had been a communication breakdown. The full convoy, including the supply vehicles, pulled away under heavy fire, leaving Wright's company still desperate for fuel and ammunition.

Wright's heart sank. He had been forced to tighten his perimeter to save fuel, giving up ground his men had just taken. Now he watched his fuel and ammo disappear up the highway. But the smaller perimeter also meant Wright could afford to send two tanks to a supply point a mile away that Johnson set up near the palace. There the tanks refueled as their crews stuffed the bustle racks with ammunition. A second pair of tanks followed a half-hour later, bringing back more fuel and ammunition. Wright's men were set for the night.

In the city center, the tank battalions led by Schwartz and DeCamp were holding their ground but still desperately low on fuel and ammunition. With the combat teams at all three interchanges able to hold their ground, two supply convoys were now sent up Highway 8 toward the city center. It was a high-speed race. Every vehicle was hit by fire, but the convoys rolled into the palace complex just before dusk, fuel and ammunition intact. Tankers at the 14th of July circle cheered, and there were high-fives and handshakes when the trucks set up an instant gas station and supply point next to the palace rose beds. Perkins was convinced now that Baghdad was his. He didn't need to control the whole city. He just needed the palace complex and a way to get fuel and ammunition in.

Now he had both.

"We had come in, created a lot of chaos, lots of violence and momentum all at once," Perkins said later. "We had speed and audacity. And now with the resupply, we were there for good and there was nothing the other side could do about it."

The next morning, Capt. Phil Wolford's Assassin tank company would repel a fierce counterattack at the Jumhuriya Bridge across the Tigris River. Rogue battalion would engage in running firefights throughout central Baghdad. At the three interchanges on Highway 8, Syrians and Fedayeen mounted more attacks for much of the day, bringing the China battalion's casualties to two dead and 30 wounded. But the American forces now fought from a position of strength. On the third day, April 9, Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed.

On the night of April 7, after a long day of sustained combat, there had been an extended lull at the palace complex and up and down Highway 8. The tankers and the infantrymen sensed a shift in momentum. Some dared to speak of going home soon, for they now believed the war was nearly over. There would be two more days of fierce fighting before Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed. But on the night of April 7, theirs would be a decisive victory, the last one in Iraq for a long time.

David Zucchino is a Times national correspondent based in Philadelphia.

3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) and Special Forces Soldiers say M113 Gavins with infantry facing out from top troop hatches behind gunshields are best for non-linear, urban combats

3rd ID lessons learned from the nation-state conflict

From Chapter 7 at:

"As the Army fields Stryker Brigades and continues transformation, the OIF experience will influence combat development. Tanks and Bradleys performed brilliantly in OIF, but they did not meet all of the operational requirements. Despite their advantages in armor, tanks and Bradleys evinced a number of disadvantages --they could not elevate their weapons far enough to fire at the upper floors of buildings from close range. But as 3rd ID discovered, the lowly M113, full of engineers armed to the teeth, could engage the second and third stories. Clearly no weapon system is perfect for all environments, and even the superbly equipped forces that fought OIF have..."

Army Special Forces Soldier in Iraq NOW during the sub-national conflict writes:

"You betcha. Brads are great for rolling around like a turtle and knowing nothing can touch you, but the problem with the insurgents here is that every time they take a shot at you and no one shoots back, they get bolder.

Now, take my boys in 91st engineers. We roll around with a gun in the tub, the back top open and guys hanging out with ARs and optics.

Go ahead, step out from behind that building against riflemen who are excellent snap shooters.....and can engage 360 degrees and up and down almost 180 degrees.....pretty much wherever they can point the rifle.

In a M113, this is almost everywhere.

Just my firsthand experience day after day in Gazalea and Abu Graib.




TC Gunshield
Diagonal view M113 Gavin ACAV
Close-up TC's Gunshield
Front-View Close-Up
Rear Ramp up
Troop Interior
Engine Area
Rear Ramp Down
Gavin TC Gunshield
Top-View Side Gunshields

"Sandbags improve the survivability of thin-skinned and armored vehicles in MOUT. Sandbags protect Soldiers from ricochets, sniper rounds and fragments. Sandbagging vehicles also gave a limited standoff protection from RPG rounds fired from above."

"Gunner protection for HMMWV crews, similar to the old A-CAV kit for M113s, is desirable for MOUT and convoy escort operations."

M113As Gavin with applique' armor and ACAV gunshields

Good idea for armed HMMWVs, but why not just get better armored and armed M113A3s and put applique' armor and ACAV kits on them and do it right? Look at Canadian M113 w/gunshields above Bosnia section! Also, 3 layers of sandbags stops RPGs cold, not the "limited" protection CALL describes above.


Track Commander's Cupola

Shield Kit, Machine Gun / 2510-00-121-8990
Shield, Protective / 2510-01-006-4587

TC's cupola gunshields + side gunshields for the two troop hatch MGs

M60 Medium Machine Gun only interface Side Gunshield

The Mighty M113 Gavin ACAV! Infantry firepower and vigilance in all directions!

The NSN number for the complete Gun Shield Kit including the cargo hatch side shields for M60 MMGs is NSN 2590-00-121-8990. AMDF price is ,708.00. Check the Army supply system for availability(?)


Click on picture for full-size version!


SARCO Inc. of New Jersey offers a M113 Gavin gunshield with cradle assembly and ammo can holder for just 5! If I were in Iraq and my life were on the line I'd order this ASAP. I would also use my own money to cut through the Army BS to make it happen. If you die NOTHING FOLLOWS.

Part # MNT010

323 Union Street
POB 98
Stirling, NJ 07980
(908) 647-3800
FAX: -9413


If the "system" doesn't have the shields (likely) the DSC bids for someone to make them like they did in 1999:



Defense Supply Center Columbus, PO Box 16595, DSCC-PBAB, Columbus, OH 43216-6595

25 -- SHIELD KIT, MACHINE GUN SOL SP075000R2737 DUE 121799 POC For Information Only, Point of Contact -- Carol Black Phone:614-692-1346 Fax: 614-692-1577 NSN: 2590-00-121-8990, YPC99201000244. Shield Kit, Machine Gun. Made in accordance with Army drawing 11660854 and all current related data. Full and open competition applies. Quantity is 52 each to be delivered within 150 days after date of award to Richmond, Va. All responsible sources may submit an offer which shall be considered. See note(s) 12 and 26. Copies of this solicitation are available at the address above or by faxing 614-692-2262 or e-mailing: incoord @ and will not be available until 15 days after this notice is published in the CBD. Requests should include the company name, address and solicitation number(s). The small business size standard is 750 employees. Technical drawings/bid sets are available from DSCC-VTCD via one of the following medias: internet at; facsimile at 614-692-2344; e-mail at drawings @ or by mail at Defense Supply Center Columbus, ATTN: DSCC-VTCD, P O Box 3990, Columbus, OH. 43216-5000. Requests should include theRFP number, opening/closing date, NSN, Purchase Request number (e.g. YPC), Buyer's name and your complete name and address. FEDERAL, MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL SPECIFICATIONS CANNOT BE PROVIDED BY DSCC. Proposed procurement contains a 100% option for increase quantities. This is an unrestricted acquisition. While price may be a significant factor in the evaluation of offers, the final award decision will be based upon a combination of price, delivery, past performance and other evaluation factors as described in the solicitation. Estimated issue date is 18 Nov 99. Posted 10/27/99 (W-SN395719). (0300)

Loren Data Corp. (SYN# 0194 19991029-0001.SOL)

25 - Vehicular Equipment Components Index Page

However if you don't want to waste months playing with DSC because your men are getting shot at in places like Iraq/Afghanistan, United Defense, the maker of the M113 Gavin can deliver 44 kits in 20-22 weeks. Their price would be around ,000 per kit, saving you about 4K per kit. Understand that cost does not come into play when we are talking about the safety of our troops but 6,000 buys a hell of a lot of beans and bullets...or better yet more gunshields!


Mr. Tom Reuter
United Defense
M113 Field Service & Spares
(800) 235-0015 Ext: 825
cell @ 256-453-7049


UDLP has now made several hundred clear gunshields for the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division returning to Iraq.

The Standard M113A3+ Super Gavin TAGS will mount outside the Cargo Hatch. pn 80212-4265690. Comes with a universal pintle for M240B medium machine gun or M249 light machine gun interface.

Even if you don't have machine guns for the sides, your two Soldiers at the top cargo hatch could use the protection of a TAGS gunshield!

Compared all of these M113-unique features to the LAV-III's measley 14mm thick steel (little more than 0.5 of an inch), the M113A3 has rolled 5083/5086 H32 aluminum alloy armor that varies from 1.5 to 1.75 inches (38.1mm to 44.45mm thick), not to mention spall liners inside the hull. We have not even talked about applique' armor yet.

So the M113A3 as-is has armor that is 3 times thicker and is thus much stronger and lighter than the LAV-III's thin steel.

We can work with this and get a far greater level of protection against RPGs, 30mm autocannon and ATGMs using M113A3 Gavins!

If you want to be in a thin-walled, air-filled rubber-tired LAV-III in a a shooting war, then the fitting nickname for the LAV-III would be the "Custer".

The following idea could be done at our own level without need of bureaucratic approval and funding to buy from an outside contractor. YOU can give the vehicle the respect it deserves by calling the M113 family the "Gavin" after General James M. Gavin, legendary U.S. Army combat leader who advocated the light, air-dropable tracked vehicle for troop mobility/firepower in his book, "Airborne warfare" in 1947 which eventually resulted in the M113's development and legendary service. Just imagine what could be accomplished with a little contractor help and effort from the U.S. Army instead of wasting BILLIONS on road bound rubber-tired LAV-III armored cars!

RPG, autocannon-resistant applique armor
Remote weapons and or gun turrets
Quiet Band-tracks
Infared camouflage
Stealthy Hybrid-Electric drive (600 mile range)
FBCB2 C4I digital comms
Lightweight hatches to facilitate air transport


Here is a do-it-yourself upgrade for the M113A3!

External storage volume needed: acts as spaced armor against RPGs

The M113A3 is a superb light tracked Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) with more internal space than other AFVs for troop gear by its external fuel tanks. However, it does not have external side storage provisions and even the M113A3's volume is soon used up by a Combat Engineer or Infantry unit. This has led to the MTVL stretched variant with more internal volume for both Soldiers and gear. However there are some items of Soldier equipment that clearly are too big and shouldn't be kept inside for safety reasons. Mines, demolitions and long bangalore torpedo sections would be better carried OUTSIDE the M113A3, if detonated they would exploded out and away from the vehicle hull whereas if set off INSIDE the vehicle it would be disastrous for the men.

Outside storage bins
The M113A3 has bolt-on armor points that are currently not being utilized.

U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Gregory T. Dean (now Retired) in Bosnia used these bolts to attach unused ammo cans he wrote in the March/April issue of U.S. Army ARMOR magazine:

The ACAV Bosnia

These bolts could be used to attach a metal framework with thick metal mesh to create storage area all along the length of the vehicle. These storage bins could be created by local units as per TM specifications for very low cost. The long nature of the bins would allow long bangalore torpedo sections to be carried securely outside the vehicle, stretchers, spine boards for Medical M113A3s, as well as a huge supply of land mines, ammunition, demolitions and/or even Soldier rucksacks.

Applique' armor is what applique' armor does...

We realize the powers-that-be hate the M113A3 and have consistantly blocked attempts to buy the applique' armor that was always intended for it to have to protect it from landmines, RPGs and weaponry up to 30mm autocannon. Do not list this side benefit of external storage bins if these biased individuals will veto the local modification. Perhaps later on Soldiers will figure the following out or we could "discover" the application and advocate it after the storage bin becomes officially accepted. Ammo cans and storage bins could be filled with dirt, sand or even concrete to bolster armor protection as the situation demands.

But in Vietnam, Soldiers erected chain-link fencing around their M113A1s and M48 tanks to pre-detonate Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). In Chechnya, Russians today have placed wire screens around ther vehicles to defeat RPGs. The metal mesh M113A3 storage bins would act as RPG screens. This is just the beginning.

BURNED-UP STRYKER IN IRAQ: NOTE THE GAPS BETWEEN THE TILES (click on picture for larger version)

The reason the ceramic tiles on Stryker do not work well is that they are made of inexpensive aluminum oxide ceramics. GD put out a price bogey for the ceramics and a company from Germany, IBD, claimed that their armor could do more than it can. This is why the Stryker ceramic tiles failed to stop 14.5mm heavy machine gun bullets in testing last year and had to be reinforced with steel. This ceramic is much lower quality and capability than the silicon carbide ceramics being tested for FCS. The other problem as you can see from the above photo is that the Stryker ceramic tiles have big spaces between them.

In contrast, the M113 Gavin light tracked AFV is composed of 1.5" to 1.75" thick armor and is only 10.5 tons empty. This weight savings results in the ability to add up to 7,000 pounds of extra armor. M113 Gavins in IDF and other armies often have:

1.) external storage racks to hold troop gear that can pre-detonate RPGs,
2.) a layer of spaced or reactive armor
3.) peel 'n stick ceramic tiles and kevlar-type ballistic panels (that work) tightly placed together on the hull outsides
4.) the vehicle's 1.5" to 1.75" hull and
5.) internal kevlar spall liners and
6.) lots of sandbags.
7.) gunshields

That's 7 layers of protection rolling on steel tracks with rubber pads and solid metal road wheels, STILL LIGHTER than the 19-21 Stryker armored car which struggles to carry a mere 5,000 pound "bird cage". Since the Army bureaucracy does not supply this extra armor to make the mighty M113 Gavin more "vincible" units and Soldiers need to do-it-yourself: get your welders to create external storage racks and bolt them to the outside after buying and applying peel 'n stick armor panels:

Peel n stick armor panels defeat .50 cal @3000 FPS, AP proven in U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground Tests

Armor Systems International
110 Columbia Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
phone: (360) 993-5181
toll free: (866) 993-5181
fax: (360) 737-0743

The picture above from Vietnam shows a crafty crew that has hung 30 sandbags (900 pounds of weight) on the outside of each side of their flamethrower M113 Gavin and covered it with mesh fencing to help pre-det RPGs and boost protection from heavy machine gun bullets.

Sadly, you may not even have a M113 Gavin to fight with. You might be lucky and have one, but not have the "mother Army" up-armoring them into M113A3+ SuperGavin configuration...what do you do?

If you have welders, external storage racks can hold troop gear and sandbags to pre-det RPGs..if you don't....HANG SANDBAGS! or add a layer of sandbags or MRE cases filled with dirt into the M113A3 side storage bins to add additional armor protection---applique' armor by field expedient. A layer of sandbags stops all 7.62mm/.30 cal MG bullets cold. Combined with the M113A3's 1.5 inch thick hull armor and spall liners, you would have 7 layers of protection. The outside storage bin screen: pre-detonates RPGs, breaks up bullets, the sandbags absorb shaped charge effect of RPGs/ATGMs, decelerate bullets, put some on the driver's floor area. The M113A3 Gavin has a crushible driver's seat with foot rests. The hull armor hard plate stops fragments/bullets already slowed that are not stopped by previous layers. The M113A3 Gavin spall liner stops the fragments (if any) that penetrate beyond this. The cumulative effect of the storage bins would be greater mission effectiveness by greater amounts of weaponry, equipment being carried and greater Soldier protection via the side benefits of adding outside layers to the vehicle itself. Adding steel or titanium applique' armor to stop 30mm autocannon fire would bolster this even more though Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) to defeat hollow-charge RPGs and ATGMs is another option. This kind of protection is not possible with an overweight Stryker or HMMWV wheeled vehicle.


Gavins with "band tracks" are lighter on roads than rubber-tired vulnerable wheeled armored cars, while still able to go cross-country that would be no-go terrain for LAVs.

Mighty M113A3 Gavin versus LAV-III Custer armored car FACT SHEET

M113A3 vs. LAV-III Detailed specifications

FYI: The actual wheeled [Interim Armored Vehicle] "IAV" based on the LAV-III armored car is going to have computer gadgets, a remote machine gun weapons station and applique' armor at its body that will make a 19-ton armored car an even heavier and immobile 20-24 ton death trap. A medium-weight vehicle with light, thin armor and armament. Even the WWII "1942" M4 Sherman tank had 4 inches of armor, the "2003", "modern" LAV-III/IAV Stryker is a mere 1/2 inch of thin metal and unable to accept satisfactory applique' armor to protect against autocannon and RPGs.

Is this forward progress?

Is this "transformation" or "trance-formation"?

How about suicide?

Superb comparison of Tracks and Wheeled Drivetrains explains why:

Tracked and Wheeled Drivetrain power point show

British weapons researcher Phil West writes:

"... A military operation has tempo -- an M113 that can cross a paddy field > and flank a position in a minute is more use than a vehicle that must drive > all the way around the field's edge -- that will only work if the wheeled vehicle has a very significant turn of speed. ..."

Another good study on wheels and tracks by Bill Fisher:

The Fisher Report

He's right on except regarding fuel consumption, he should be informed about the hybrid-electric M113 system, band tracks and the FSCS/Tracer study that showed tracks actually have better fuel consumption in some scenarios because they can take a much shorter path from point A to point B. In fact, fuel-miserly M113A1/M48 medium tanks were completely resupplied by the air in Vietnam, freeing them from having to secure road main supply routes (MSRs) that are often mined/ambushed.

Regarding reliability, the flaw in most analyses is that they compare LAV's operating largely on improved roads, with M113 operating in a full-spectrum mission profile (go where you have to for combat missions, including cross-country). It is not clear when both vehicles are operated under the same mission profile, that wheels are more reliable at all, in fact the tracks may be the far more reliable and lower O&S cost choice. Compare the complexity of a wheeled drivetrain, with the simplicity of a modern tracked one!


Swiss mechanized infantry dismount from their up-armored, autocannon-equipped M113A3 Gavin: why can't the U.S. Army do this to its own M113A3s? Screening infantry to destroy top-attack ATGMs will be critical in the future.

Some think we should emulate the Navy/AF and drop guns and armor in favor of missiles and no armor protection using electronic gadgets as our only protection, rolling on air-filled rubber tires restricted to predictable roads/trails. In an integrated enemy surveillance strike complex (SSC), enemy guided and missile fires will make it fatal to even venture on anything but robust tracks, which can operate in thick concealing vegetation to evade targeting. However, like the USN, we still need "battleships" (heavily armored platforms; some with guns).

Analogy analysis

1. USN simply changed its battleships from guns to aircraft carrier armored decks

2. Other USN missile combatants wrongly have no guns capable of massed shore fire support to support ground forces and are incapable of taking many missile hits nor are "stealthy" to avoid being hit = the worse of all possible situations

Analogy applied

1. Sea warfare is not land warfare, because unless you go under the water, the sea does NOT offer natural concealment nor cover. On land you have vegetation, folds in the terrain, buildings etc. etc. so threats can appear suddenly far closer than at a safe stand-off. Closest naval analogy would be submarine catching surface ships unawares and firing, though still not close enough because sensors could detect the sub if the conditions are right. Hidden land targets are far more hidden.

2. Iconoclasm for avante garde': top-attack missiles are not the only threats a land force has to overcome; close-in attacks require a vehicle that can take a main gun hit and all types of infantry weapons from ALL ANGLES to:

Survive surprise direct line-of-sight meeting engagements
Prevail in MOUT
Defile fights
Heavy mines from below

20 tons will not do. In fact 20 tons is too heavy for the 3D capable force, it should be under 17 tons so a C-130 can fly it. The current FCS at 20 tons "cookie-cutter" (too heavy for C-130s) to replace ALL Army vehicles, even if tracked is fatal non-sense. Land forces do not have the option to think they will encounter/detect the enemy at a safe, convenient stand-off as being on the water handicaps you. C4I situational awareness is a fatal crutch that should be avoided. We should embrace the fact that land forces have more cover/concealment instead of longing to be handicapped like the Navy/AF are in the open and have to rely on just measures and countermeasures gadgets to survive.

Better Analysis

1. There are 2 ways to optimize vehicles for land combat, 2D and 3D.

2. 2D is the maximum effort we can achieve at protection, firepower at a mobility that is still functional across the earth. I say over 50 tons even on tracks is the limit because I want to be able to go cross-country in soft soils. Obviously 40 tons is better than 50 and so on for mobility at ever increasing limits in terms of protection. I also caveat that whatever the 2D tank is, it needs to fly at least 2 at a time in a C-5A/B so it can to to the fight across the oceans from the air because sealift will be interdicted against a smart enemy with mines, covered by Surveillance Strike Complex observation and fires. The inability of the Navy/marines to clear Iraqi mines in Desert Storm resulted in several ships severely damaged by mines and a suicidal amphibious assault cancelled by wiser heads.

2D optimized forces are capable of gaining maneuver along routes that we must take to open MSRs, gain openings in enemy lines and act as a "battering ram" in MOUT. The low-tech fires encountered in MOUT cannot be countered just by high-tech gadgets designed to counter high tech weapons in the open, robustness is needed. Think close-range multiple RPG hits and demolitions attacks. 20-tons is not going to be as good as what 30/40/50 tons could achieve in the way of protection. 2D forces should have a big gun to point/shoot/kill enemy tanks and blast buildings/bunkers decisively for infantry, missiles will not suffice. Cost issues are also a consideration, even a LOSAT, if its so expensive that none can be shot in training, then they are almost worthless. Firepower has to be affordable enough so Soldiers can train on them BEFORE battle takes place to arrive at effective TTPs.

3. 3D optimized forces are the maximum armor/firepower we can have at different yardsticks of aircraft delivery to fly over the earth to then maneuver from an unexpected and vulnerable to the enemy location. They automatically if made at the C-130 "yardstick" and under, possess excellent cross-country mobility if on tracks. These are the forces that you should use to;

a. force-an-entry
b. make first contact with the enemy to act as a covering force
c. encircle a city
d. cut-off retreating enemies
e. lead the way into a city only if no other options will work (2D forces not available, are too big to fit due to rubble etc.)
f. Fight heavy 2D AFV enemies only if the 3D force is the "only game in town" not by choice due to a handicapped force structure that tries to make medium a "cookie-cutter" for everything

The Next "Desert Storm" with upgraded M113A3/4s and M8 AGSs?

1. One size fits-all missile-age Future Combat System (FCS) "Cookie-Cutters":

Unlike most heavyists, we believe we would still have out-shot the Iraqi Army had we used all 3D capable vehicles (M113A3s, M8 AGS light tanks) even in a 2D mode, but we would have had several vehicles hit by overmatching main gun rounds and destroyed, raising the casualty figures higher.

2. BOTH 2D/3D forces:

However, had we been smart and had a more global, offensive optimized Army with 2D/3D capable forces, 2D forces with 50 ton tanks that can survive main gun hits and diesel engines via unmanned turrets that can pursue without having to stop constantly to refuel and 3D forces that could have flown ahead and blocked the Iraqi Army from escaping the result would have been complete destruction of the Iraqi Army as a regional threat.

3. Too many too-heavy 2D Forces:

This is where we are today.

The Army should reorganize. The reason why the M1 and M2 are so heavy is because they are DEFENSIVE tanks designed for only 24 hours of combat against massed Russian armor hordes at Fulda Gap. Think 1973's Yom Kippur War where over 1,000 tanks were destroyed in just a few days of combat. There is no tomorrow. There is no resupply, you win with your "hand" right then and there or you lose. This is why ammo and fuel resupply is not a worry with the M1/M2. They will live or die with what's onboard. These defensive tanks were not designed for offensive warfare--invading another country and/or pursuing a retreating enemy. If the Russians fled after being beaten----we wouldn't go after them.

So the answer is NO. We don't want to go to "Future Combat System" 20-tons one-size fits-all even if we had unlimited funds; we want a heavier 2D part at the limits I described. We need a "FCS-2D" and a "FCS-3D" and these should be a system of vehicles based on EXISTING tracked Army armored vehicles.


Chuck Spinney's "Death Spiral"

1. We will NEVER be able to afford to fully replace all our Cold War era M1/M2s in an age where Americans think ground warfare is obsolete (they don't know what maneuver is, they just think its just a way to blow things up but from the ground)
2. Even if we had unlimited funds, the way we build weapons they will cost so much that we will only be able to buy a handful and NOT achieve force replacement

Re-think the missile age hubris

Knowing now what we want 2D/3D optimization to defeat possible enemy SSCs with SSMC is there a way to achieve this in the current death spiral budgetary and zero-casualty/stand-off firepower political environment?

We think the answer is YES.

Two moves available?

If we squeezed out the inefficiencies of the M1/M2 to lighten them up (turrets), we can achieve the 2D force we need while getting them better able to rapidly deploy, move off roads and not burn up so much log. If we use primarily existing upgraded M113s for the 3D force backed by some M8 AGS light tanks for fire support and M973A2 armored SUSVs for recon/101st Air Assaults we can achieve the 3D force.

Only one "move" available?

We also realize that resources are short. If we have only one move to make, that move would be as outlined in the book, Air-Mech-Strike: 3-Dimensional Phalanx to reorganize and create 3D SSMC forces and leave the M1/M2s "as is".

If the Army is gutted to pay for National Missile Defense and other precision firepower fantasies, maybe this will be enough of a "wake-up call" to change the transformation from Clinton administration peacekeeping on LAV-III wheels, to Bush administration be-ready-for-COMBAT capabilities using upgraded light tracks like the M113 upgraded to be "stealthy" (band tracks, applique' armor, FLIR camouflage coverings) and the purchase of some M8 AGS light tanks to enable decisive ground maneuver? Or is the Bush Administration seduced by mouse-clicking firepower to "spin" conflicts under the hubris of RMA and "trance-formation"?

Throughout the entire U.S. Army, 1 Battalion in each Brigade can be 3D maneuver capable as proposed in the Air-Mech-Strike book. If we separated the dismounting infantry from their BFV crews to insure a light infantry skills focus, we would have defacto transformed 2/3ds off our Army to air-deployability regardless of what Rumsfield/Marshall want to do. If necessary, the BFV dismounting infantry can deploy as light infantry or be supplied M113A3s from war stocks if their BFVs as-is are too heavy to meet the mission requirements. By leasing 50 cargo 747s converted from unused passenger 747s, we can put Brigade M113A3/4-M8 AGS sets inside in a fly-away condition and not be dependant on the charity of the USAF to get ground maneuver forces to a fight after they first try to bomb the enemy into submission. The remaining Brigade 1/3--the Armor Battalion in 44 x M1s would need just 44 x C-5A/B or C-17 sorties to get them to the fight. We have got our Army to the "ball game" on the cheap.

2/3ds of the Army transformed NOW beats none of the Army transformed with just 1 expensive Brigade on SUV tires for out-of-vogue peacekeeping. Then, when the missile and air strike firepower approaches fail, we will be ready when our Nation calls to pull victory from the "jaws of defeat" as the U.S. Army always has to do when air strikes and stand-off firepower fail us.

One of the observations that is true about using "vanilla" M113 Gavins with manually-operated machine guns behind gunshields is that if you have to "button up" to protect against bursting artillery/mortars you can no longer "fight" ie; fire weapons. This is an easy problem to fix using small 1-man turrets and external guns. A large 2-man turret smothers the infantry in the back, creating "Bradley Disease", but it can be added to a M113 if you wish like the Danish and Egyptian armies have done. Another option is to add firing ports for the infantry inside to fire weapons with the caveat that it doesn't presevent additional armor from being fitted or requires the hassle/complexity of a special weapon like the old BFV M231 firing port weapon. The M734 variant represents the easiest way to get firing ports.

The AIFV approach of cutting down the rear troop area to fit firing ports and have the dismount squad leader alongside the TC in his own cupola/hatch is used by Korea, Beligium, Italy is another option.

The Singapore Army "ULTRA" M113 has mounted on its roof an external gun like the German Marder IFV has. A power-operated Rafael Armament Development Authority Overhead Weapon Station (OWS), armed with a 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon and a 7.62mm coaxial medium machine gun, has the gunner aiming the weapons via a day/night sighting device located in the hull.

The Rafael OWS has been in volume production for some years for installation on armoured fighting vehicles of the IDF, as well as for many export customers such as Romania (armed with Oerlikon Contraves 25mm cannon) fitted on the MLI-84, and Singapore (armed with 25mm M242 cannon) mounted on an M113. As an option, an externally mounted anti-tank guided missile can be fitted.

The standard vehicle provides protection through a full 360 degrees against 7.62mm armour-piercing attack and through a 30 degree frontal arc against 12.7mm attack. With the optional Rafael passive add-on armour kit it has protection through a full 360 degree arc against 12.7mm attack. Rafael has also developed a new hybrid add-on insensitive explosive reactive armour pack which provides protection against weapons such as the RPG-7 as well as 14.5mm armour-piercing attack.

The Raphael Remote Control Weapon Station had been selected by the Canadian Armed Forces for installation on its upgraded Bison and enhanced M113 series APC "T-LAVs". A lower profile version was evaluated for the U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team .50 caliber Heavy Machine Gun application but the Army for absurd reasons chose a remote weapon system from another company that is so slow you could hand traverse a machine gun on a ball-bearing ring mount faster. Its rather ironic that Canada makes the dismal LAV-3/Stryker armored car yet its Army choses to use upgraded M113 Gavin MTVLs for dangerous duty in Afghanistan.

One turret does it all? The unobtrusive autocannon/missile combination

The AV-30 High Performance One-Man Turret

Legendary tanker and small arms expert Stan Crist recently proposed M113 Gavins with AV-30 autocannon turrets in issue #26 of Special Weapons for Military and Police magazine. He supplied 1st TSG (A) with the following information and photos. Thanks, Stan!

The AV-30 turret is a growth version of the Up-Gunned Weapon Station (UGWS II) turret which has been in production by AV Technology for the U.S. marine corps' AAV-7s since 1988. The AV30 turret was also selected for the Army Military Police XM1117 Army Security Vehicle until it got its funds taken away to buy Canadian Stryker armored cars.


To show a little of the 30mm firepower possible, we have this video gun camera footage from Iraq of a 224th Attack Aviation Battalion AH-64 Apache lighting up some Iraqi terrorists in soft-skin trucks using the M230 30mm autocannon. This cannon can also be mounted on M113 Gavin light tracked AFVs in an AV30 turret or a gas-operated ASP-30 version can be mounted on the existing .50 caliber cupola.

30mm Chain Gun in action (MPA) file

If the U.S. Army stopped wasting $BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars on rubber-tired Stryker deathtraps it could discover like the USMC an affordable 1-man turret upgrade that could be fitted to create advanced M113A3/4 Gavin light infantry fighting vehicles superior to anything else in the world. When the U.S. Army decides to get serious about combat capabilities instead of Tofflerian/RMA computer technohubris we might see common sense upgrades like AV-30 turrets on M113 Gavins.

AV Technology, LLC, has developed the combination AV-30mm/12.7mm (.50 caliber heavy or 7.62mm machine gun) turret for the world-wide market. Featuring a 30mm cannon, a day/night sight and high performance digitally controlled stabilized drives, this turret offers a substantial upgrade in firepower over other turrets in its class. The 30mm ammunition family used on AH-64 Apaches and AV-8B Harrier IIs is extremely powerful and long-ranged.

The high-performance turret drives, produced by Lockheed Martin, features high accuracy, rapid acceleration and smooth tracking. Combined with the turret's automated fire control suite, these drives assure a high probabilty of first round hit, even while shooting-on-the-move.

The former McDonnell Douglas (now Alliant TechnoSystems--ATK) 30mm M230 autocannon in the primary armament. In production for the U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter program, this gun provides a substantial increase in firepower and survivability to a broad range of lightly armored vehicles, especially the M113 Gavin which could optimize the AV-30 1-man turret because it would not smother the infantry squad riding in the back as takes place with the overly large 2-man turret on the M2 Bradley.

The Kollsman Day/Night Range Sight (DNRS) allows the acquistion of targets at extreme ranges. At night and in inclement weather, the gunner has a view of the battlefield which is superior to that of any comparaby priced FLIR or night vision technology.


Standard Interface
Weight combat ready: <2,350 pounds
Power: nominal 24vDC; max re. 150 amps, 30 amps under normal stabilization, 1 dome and 1 utility light
Armor protection: standard NATO 7.62mm ball 0 degrees at 0 meters
Optional 14.5mm HMG protection


Crew-served blower and filters
Crew systems: 3-speed blower with C2 filter supplies M28 face mask


Toxic gas compliant
Heat: 130 degrees F; Cold: -30 degrees F
Humid and wet conditions
EMI shielded
RAD hardened stabilization


GPS available
Standard AN/VRC-12 family of radios and intercom ready radios
Smoke dischargers: M257, 8 ready rounds
All ammo boxes fitted with low ammo sensors

FIRE CONTROL (Kollsman DNRS System)


<.5 mrad accuracy
Two-speed system
Digital computer control (standard Bradley system baseline)
Three-Gyro control (hull reference not needed) ABIT (Advanced Built-In Test) standard
Traverse speed: >60 degrees/second, <.05 mils/second
Elevation +45 degrees, -8 degrees depression
Traverse: continuous


Main armament: 30mm M230 Chain Gun, 175 ready rounds

Co-ax 7.62mm medium Chain Gun, 440 ready rounds or: Co-ax .50 cal (12.7mm), 200 ready rounds 30mm penetration: 50mm (2 inches) RHA @ 2000 meters M789 HEDP

Andy MacDougall's 30mm Autocannon Turret Proposal

NOTE: the picture dosn't show the second Javelin tube, which reduces the height and allows "a second shot". The modified CLU/Combined Sighting Unit then looks down the center of this triangle. Also mounting it above allows greater depression of the gun tube, and full 360 traverse and so troops in the top hatch can reload-on-the-move.

The gas-operated ASP-30 autocannon fires with low-recoil and shock forces such that it can be fired by the crewman unbuttoned---in other words his head can be outside the turret. This is true for the M230 electrically-operated 30mm autocannon used on the AV30 but the ASP-30mm is simpler and lighter so it can be removed and fired on a tripod on the ground. This is why the ASP-30 is offered as a replacement for the .50 cal HMG on M113A3 TC cupolas. The heavier (unable to fly by Army helicopters) BFV's 25mm M252 high-velocity gun is lethal to friendlies who have their heads out from concussion and noise effects.

The ASP-30 will kill enemy personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles as handily as the BFV's 25mm chain gun can, ask AH-64A Apaches pilots from Desert Storm who have the M230 on their aircraft.

LW ASP-30 30mm Ammunition

Outstanding armor penetration and fragmentation characteristics provide multi-role, multi-target capability

Alliant Techsystems provides the United States and its allies with a multi-service family of lightweight 30mm (LW30mm) ammunition. Developed and fielded for the electrically-fired M230 "chain gun" on the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the ammunition is also fully interoperable with the Boeing Phantom Works "ASP-30" gas-operated gun system. Combat proven in operations Just Cause and Desert Storm, the LW30mm has demonstrated excellent armor penetration at ranges from 150 to 4,000 meters, effectively defeating the BMP fighting vehicle threat. Because of its light weight, small volume, and moderate recoil, LW30mm ammunition is ideal for helicopters, light ground vehicles (such a the HMMWV), and shipboard applications. Proven effective against light armor and materiel targets, it provides suppressive firepower at ranges equal to those of the Hellfire or TOW missile, making it the ammunition of choice for applications requiring both armor defeat and wide-area lethality. The LW30mm ammunition features a spin-compensated, shaped-charge liner, providing superior armor defeat plus additional growth potential. It also incorporates a high-performance, mechanical point-detonating fuze with impressive long-range performance and graze sensitivity. Outstanding armor penetration, combined with blast concussion and fragmentation characteristics, give the LW30mm ammunition superior multi-role, multi-target capabilities.

A family of LW30mm ammunition consists of two rounds: M789 High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) and M788 Target Practice (TP). A High-Explosive Incendiary Tracer is also being fielded. The M789 HEDP is the main combat round. It has a heat-treated steel body loaded with 27 grams of PBXN-5 explosive and a fluted copper shaped-charge liner. This advanced design ensures superior performance against threat armored vehicles.

Alliant Techsystems designed and developed the M759 fuze used on the HEDP round. Point-detonating, the M759 offers advanced performance features such as dual safety, longer arming delay, shallow graze function, and greater long-range impact functioning.

The M788 TP is a low-cost, ballistically matched, inert training round. It is produced from the same quality materials and with the same exacting processes as the combat round.

NSN: 1305-01-268-7274/B129 1305-01-268-7274/B118

The Javelin is a "fire & forget" missile that has no backblast--its "soft launch". If anyone's head is out of the vehicle when the Javelin fires, no problem. The Javelin missile at 35 pounds is difficult to man-pack so various human powered mobility devices are being used like SKEDCO and ATACS. However, a light tracked armored vehicle like the M113A3 Gavin with Javelin mounting would protect gunners from enemy artillery fires and provide more missiles to fire at higher ground speeds. A HMMWV/Javelin mount has already been successfully fired and can be adapted to the M113A3 Gavin. The Javelin kills tanks from the top-down, enemy helicopters or bunkers as the missile guides itself on the heat signature--the vehicle doesn't have to be stopped and the Gunner DOES NOT HAVE TO track the missile all the way to the target, he fires and the missile guides itself all the way to the target. The vehicle can be driven to "shoot" and then "scoot" to protective cover or a different firing position. Javelin mounts for the HMMWV 4x4 truck fitted to designated M113A3s supplied to the "Delta" Companies of U.S. Army Airborne, Air Assault and Light Infantry Divisions would give them mounted, armored anti-tank and precision urban combat target destruction capabilities.

Both systems would be aimed by a Forward Looking InfaRed (FLIR) sight.

You can see the pay-off----M113A3, Wiesel 2 and BFV infantry can have the top troop hatch OPENED so they can fire their weapons and give greater vigilance and situational awareness than if they are closed up in the back. If artillery fire is received, everyone buttons up and the dismount infantry "see" with a large TV screen. Both the 30mm and the Javelins can be fired without risk of infantry in the back being harmed as the "blind" BFV set-up has us now. We make the M113A3 (Infantry Battalions) and the Wiesel 2 or BV-206S M973A2 SUSV (RSTA) as the baseline vehicles for the Army's new IBCTs and equip them with 30mm/Javelin turrets.

AMS-SG member Andy Drakonok's latest list (19 items) for the "AMS object force" modifications to the standard M113A3:

ACAV gun kit for TC and two Wing Gunners
ASP-30 main gun in TC's 1-man turret with fold-down gunshields
2x Javelin ATGMs coax to ASP-30 with CLU as system sights
Spaced appliquй armor
2x vehicle, 4x individual SINCGARS ASIP radios with helmet radios for dismount infantry/wire kit
Diesel-electric hybrid drive
HEAB, HEDP, APERS, WP, CS, FAE dumb rounds for Javelin
HE, HEAT, WP, CS, SP, FBLL, FKLL Bullet Catch Rifle Hand Grenades
Anti-mine titanium belly armor
Sand-bagged interior floor and exterior roof
Assortment of spare parts, ruck sacks, extra water/fuel mounted on sides for independant operations ala Ralph Zumbro, TANK SERGEANT
Kevlar band tracks
IR camouflage paint and thellie netting
All main weapons fed by large internal magazines through feed chutes
Ground Surveillance Radar with artillery/mortar location (when you establish a data link with another track)
Separate Camo net against visual, IR, thermal, RF (dual sided woodland / desert)
Chain-link RPG fence for static positions
Articulatable strait/vee mine-clearing, self-entrenchment dozer blade
Like-vehicle and self-recovery winch

Replaces 106mm RR with one-time-use 140mm jumbo AT-4
FBLL; Flash Bang Less Lethal, FKLL; Foam Kinetic Less Lethal


See the PowerPoint presentation: Click here to start

Contrary to popular internet mythology, Colonel David Hackworth and 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) Director, Army and marine enlisted/officer veteran Mike Sparks were friends. When Hack died suddenly this year, it was a surprise to all of us since he seemed so young. Mike had missed meeting Hack in person at a local book signing by just a few minutes a few years ago and always thought their differences of opinion could be worked out. When the internet kicked in around 1997, Mike emailed Hackworth from Fort Benning and got a request to go find all of his articles he wrote for U.S. Army INFANTRY magazine, which he promptly did. It was only later, when Sparks refused to jump on Hackworth's worship-the-USMC bandwagon--an outfit Hack had never served in---that the two had a "falling out". No human organization deserves to be put on any pedestals, we are all fallible and the minute anyone thinks otherwise is a dangerous mistake. After scouring through 4 decade's worth of articles, he came upon this 1966 INFANTRY magazine article by Captain Kehoe reprinted in the British Army Journal on the TRUTH about M113 Gavin firing ports that has added urgency today on the non-linear battlefield (NLB) where enemies are attacking our troops with roadside, car and truck bombs and EVERY ounce and means of protection must be exploited to prevail (this means TRACKS not wheeled trucks).

The Superb American AIFV upgrade has yet to be applied to the U.S. Army's fleet of M113 Gavins

The revelation is that FIRING PORTS CAN WORK, and work well as the American made Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) upper hull modification of the trusty M113 Gavin has been put into service and/or copied by indigenous M113 designers of Belgium, Holland, Italy, Portugal and recently Pakistan to name just a few.

Pakistani "Talha" M113 upgrade

With today's embedded micro-cameras used in tanks like the Merkava 4 and Leopard 2, vision for infantry mounted inside a tracked armored fighting vehicle is almost as good as fighting with your head out unbuttoned--so if firing ports with just vision block periscopes could work in 1966, they could work even better today.

Furthermore, the "conventional wisdom" that firing ports can only be offered by radically altering the vehicle hull is simply not true---you can offer a "tail-gunner" firing port easily by changing the rear troop exit door and changing the top troop cargo hatch to one that has a "hump" for two standing Soldiers to have left and right facing firing ports. It would be VERY EASY to replace the rear troop exit door inside the rear ramp of the M113 Gavin and switch out the top cargo hatch with a new design cargo hatch with firing ports both with vision blocks/embed cameras, which our Weapons Hatches power points describe below on this web page:

The M113 Armored Porcupine


"FIGHTING from their personnel carriers, the Infantrymen laid down a volume of fire heavy enough to impair the enemy's ability, or desire, to return effective fire as the task force advanced toward its objective against sporadic enemy resistance."

Was this incorrect or proper employment of armored personnel carriers? Today's commander of a mechanized Infantry unit would logically hesitate to use tactics such as those described above, but combat experience in World War II indicated that fighting from half-tracks was a role frequently assigned to, or assumed by, armored Infantry units.

Is today's armored personnel carrier so under-armed and outgunned as to be ineffective except as a means of transportation to the battle area; are we merely allowing our capabilities to be influenced by our current hardware?

Sure, the M113 has a .50-caliber [heavy] machine gun mounted at the cupola and has adequate periscopes for the driver and track commander to observe while "buttoned up". Certainly, one or two men can observe and fire from the opened cargo hatch, but what happens when the cargo hatch must be closed? And what about the rest of the squad?

Consider the individual rifleman, riding to battle in an armored personnel carrier. He cannot know where he has been, or what the ground looks like around him. Should his vehicle come under surprise fire, he cannot return that fire. When the ramp is lowered and his squad leader commands, "Let's go" he is inadequately oriented for an immediate fire fight. No wonder I commanders adhere to the cautious doctrine of dismounting at least two terrain features back. They fear any other choice!

While the success of our armored Infantry battalions in World War II was frequently spectacular, their half-tracks often were unable to operate satisfactorily over difficult terrain. Commanders recognized that greater cross-country mobility was needed-a mobility which would allow armored personnel carriers to keep pace with tanks. As a result a full-tracked personnel carrier,

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the M39, Armored Utility Vehicle (AUV), was designed, and saw limited service prior to the end of World War II and during the Korean conflict. But a serious drawback was noted early in the production of this vehicle-it lacked overhead armor. With the introduction of the VT fuse to the battlefield this consideration was of prime importance.

Our first full-tracked armored personnel carrier with overhead armor was the M44 Armored Utility Vehicle which carried 25 Soldiers plus a two-man crew. This vehicle was lightly armored and mounted .50-caliber machine gun which fired from its rear cupola, a .30-caliber [medium] machine gun, ball-mounted forward of the assistant driver's station, and another .30-caliber machine gun designed to be fired from one of four support brackets located at the top corners of the vehicle's side door frames. The M44 also had four observation ports mounted in each of its side walls from which personnel being transported could observe to their flanks. Although standardized, this vehicle was never produced in significant numbers. Late in 1945 the Army Ground Forces requested the development of an armored carrier capable of transporting 10 men in addition to its crew. From this requirement grew the M75 Armored Personnel Carrier.

The M75 was capable of transporting 12 men in addition to the driver. Protection for the M75 was furnished by all-round armor plate. It was armed with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted at the commander's cupola. Whereas the various models of half-tracks, the M39 AUV, and even the M44 AUV had afforded the transported squads a means of observing the terrain through which they were passing, as well as a limited fighting capability, the design of the M75 APC failed to provide these characteristics. Successor vehicles, the M59 APC and the M113/M113A1 APC, likewise failed to offer the squad a [buttoned-up] fighting capability or a means of observing the terrain through which they were passing, or in which they might have to fight.

It has now been 13 years since the standardization of the M75. These 13 years have seen the Army's inventory of armored personnel carriers reach new heights. Time has also caused many commanders of mechanized Infantry outfits to forget that we once fought from our armored personnel carriers when necessary. While Infantry doctrine tells us that "The mechanized rifle company may attack either mounted or dismounted. . . mounted operations include attacks against light or discontinuous enemy resistance and the exploitation of the success of other units or the effects of nuclear and chemical weapons; furthermore, they facilitate the expeditious employment of reserves to exploit success," the M113/M113A1 is not fully responsive to such opportunistic missions.

Today's M113 has performed admirably in Europe and in Vietnam. Indeed, it has covered itself with laurels wherever and whenever used. Our troops are confidant that the M113 will get them to their destination, but it's how they get there that counts! When they are confined inside this carrier, they are ineffective. Except for the driver, the track commander, and the air guard(s) no one knows much of what is going on around the vehicle. Further, no squad can fire a weapon from a position inside the vehicle. Men cannot be expected to fight effectively when they dismount into a tactical environment totally unfamiliar to them. Small wonder that commanders of mechanized infantry units hesitate to use this vehicle on fully mounted operations. Yes, our thinking has been influenced by our hardware!

Today's mechanized Infantrymen can neither see what is going on around their APCs nor fire their organic weapons from within the M113 troop compartments. We need not accept these "design limitations." Indeed, the XM701 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle, an armored Infantry fighting vehicle now undergoing test, is provided with both firing and observation ports. So you

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see, we are analyzing once again the idea of giving the mechanized Infantryman this extra capability. Can this forward-thinking be applied to our current M113 APC? . Let's return two capabilities that were inherent in past APCs and which may also be provided with our future APCs.

This idea is not as "far fetched" as it might appear. "Design limitations" which have been accepted for too long a period of time, can be remedied. The capability of the M113 for mounted operations can be improved.

Soon after he arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia, Major General John Heintges, Commanding General, U.S. Army Infantry Center, expressed the belief that the combat effectiveness of the M113 APC could be increased by providing firing observation ports in its sides and rear. This item came up for further discussion at an Infantry Team meeting in late 1964. It was then decided that the idea should be explored. At that meeting, Colonel Robert C. Williams, President of the U.S. Army Infantry Board, agreed to construct a full-scale mockup of the right half of the troop compartment of an M113 APC and to conduct experiments to determine whether members of a squad could deliver fire effectively from various types of firing/observation ports located in its side. Limited firing tests were conducted with this mockup mounted on a lowboy trailer.

Results of these tests were favorable enough for the Infantry Team to decide that additional tests of the concept should be conducted using an M113 APC modified with firing/observation ports. General Heintges then secured permission from General Frank Besson, Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command, to make appropriate modifications to an M113 APC. He also arranged for the Infantry Board to conduct the additional testing as a military potential test. An M113 APC was delivered to Anniston Ordnance Depot where sections were cut out of its right and left sides. The vehicle was then returned to Fort Benning, where the Maintenance Section of the Infantry Center fabricated various panels for insertion into the cut-out areas. Later, Infantry Board personnel also removed the ramp of the M113 and installed a wooden ramp containing panels similar to those constructed for the sides. Each of these panels had one or more firing/observation ports of various configurations. The most suitable of these was composed of a covered, one-man firing port designed to accept the M14 [main battle] rifle, M14E2 automatic rifle, Ml6 [assault] rifle, M79 grenade launcher, and M60 [medium] machine gun. Directly above each port was a vision block through which Soldiers could observe. The covered firing port was opened only to engage targets. An M113 APC thus equipped would permit nine members of the squad (four on the right side, two in the rear, and three on the left side) to observe and fire from within the vehicle. While the right-side wall and ramp of the M113 APC were readily adaptable to these modifications, some minor adjustments had to be made on the left-side wall. [2005 EDITOR: FYI today's M113A3 Gavins have external fuel tanks so there is no fuel tank on the left today]

To position Soldiers more adequately within the M113, several different seating arrangements were examined. Of these, the most suitable was a composite arrangement in which two Soldiers seated themselves along each side, wall (standard location) on benches adjacent to the track commander's station. To observe or fire they merely rotated into a position from which they could I best see through their ports and employ their weapons. The jump seat was removed from its location and folding benches constructed in the center of the vehicle to accommodate six men, three on each side. This arrangement afforded good observation and fields-of-fire to the flanks and rear, most nearly conformed to the human engineering of the standard M113 APC, and afforded room on the center seats for two additional Soldiers.


The Infantry Team is the collective name applied to the U.S. Army Infantry School, U.S. Army Infantry Agency, and U.S. Army Infantry Board at Fort Benning, Georgia. The heads of these organizations and selected members of their staffs meet periodically to discuss and take action on matters of importance to the Infantry.

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A progression of firing exercises was conducted to determine whether members of the squad, using squad weapons and machine guns, could deliver effective fire from within the carrier. In the first phase of these exercises they attempted to identify any safety hazards, while acquainting the test Soldiers with the techniques of firing their weapons from within the vehicle. In this phase Soldiers experienced no difficulty in learning the techniques of firing from, and observing through, the firing/observation ports. The possibility of an excited Soldier withdrawing his weapon from the firing port and inadvertently discharging it within the vehicle was considered. While the consequences of such an incident might have to be accepted in combat, during testing a rod-like device was attached at a right angle to the muzzle of each weapon to prevent unintentional withdrawal.

The second phase consisted of series of firing exercises conducted while the carrier traveled over level terrain at speeds of 7 to 8 miles per hour. The gunners fired at a lateral array of silhouette targets at various ranges of 25 to 250 meters. Phase three was a series of firing exercises conducted with the vehicle moving cross-country, over rolling and rough terrain, at speeds of 5 to 25 miles per hour. The results of these last two phases indicated that:

1. Test Soldiers firing Ml4 rifles, M14E2 automatic rifles, and M60 machine guns, singly or in various combinations could deliver fire and hit targets through all types of firing/observation ports tested.

2. The effectiveness of fire, measured in terms of the number of target hits in proportion to the number of rounds fired, diminished as the range of the targets and the speed of the vehicle increased, as the terrain over which the test vehicle traveled became rougher, and as targets were positioned diagonally (as opposed to perpendicularly) to the test vehicle's route of advance or departure.

3. The fire effectiveness obtained with the M16 rifle in the limited firings I conducted was approximately equal to that obtained with the M14 rifle. Grenadiers firing the M79 grenade launcher were able to place approximately half their rounds within the target area (approximately 10 x 50 meters) when firing at ranges from 100 to 250 meters.

The final phase was conducted on a field firing range in which various pop-up type silhouette targets had been placed at ranges of 50 to 350 meters. This phase was included in testing primarily to confirm the suitability of the firing port/vision block configurations and the composite seating arrangement to the tactical employment of the vehicle. In this phase, test supervisory personnel confirmed that the firing port/vision block configurations and the composite seating arrangement were suitable and superior to all other port configurations or seating arrangements tested.

Two 30-mile, mounted, cross-country marches were conducted to determine if firing/observation ports increased the ability of Soldiers being transported in the modified M113 APC to maintain a sense of terrain orientation and to acquire targets. Data collected were compared with similar data acquired from standard M113 APC making the same two marches.

Since the standard vehicle had no firing/observation ports, and all doors and hatches were closed, the members of the squads riding in the standard APC were unable to maintain a sense of terrain orientation. As they dismounted from their vehicle they required several moments to accustom themselves to the daylight conditions and to acquire a sense of terrain orientation. The firing/observation ports in the modified M113 APC provided daylight within its troop compartment. The members of the squads maintained a

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sense of terrain orientation by observing through the firing/observation ports. In addition, they were able to pick out likely targets as the vehicle traveled. At the completion of the motor marches they immediately adjusted to the outside light conditions and to the terrain around them.

Target-acquisition exercises were also conducted wherein the ability of a fire team to pick up and engage targets while mounted in the modified APC was compared with a dismounted fire team's ability to acquire and engage the same surprise, targets. In this exercise, members of the dismounted fire team and, members of the mounted fire team acquired and fired at targets at approximately the same time.

From these exercises it was determined that firing/observation ports in the M113 APC substantially increased the ability of Soldiers being transported to maintain a sense of terrain orientation and to acquire surprise targets.

To determine whether provision of firing/observation ports and center seating, in the APC adversely affected the stowage capabilities of the vehicle, modified and unmodified M1l3s were loaded with troops, supplies, and equipment for three days of operations. While both the vehicles could accommodate such loading, the personnel compartment was quite crowded in each case. The crowding in the modified M113 was considerably greater than in the unmodified vehicle, due to the loss of stowage space along the side walls. [2005 Editor: today's M113 Gavins can employ external stowage racks and we need not lose internal volume by sloping the hull for firing ports because we can mount firing ports in the rear troop door and top cargo hatches. And of course we can and should stretch the M113 Gavin hull by 1 roadwheel into "MTVL" configuration to increase mobility by 50% as well as internal under-armor volume]

The amount of supplies carried in each M113 APC was then reduced to provide for one day's operation. Both vehicles were relatively uncrowded when so loaded. The Soldiers kept their prescribed "on individual" ammunition in pouches on their pistol belt and stored additional ammunition directly in front of them without undue crowding. While center seating did not contribute to the reduction in the stowage capability of the modified M113, it did limit the amount of leg room available to the Soldiers.

The troop and command acceptability of the firing/observation port concept was evaluated by soliciting the opinions of all 41 Soldiers who participated in the test, and by inviting members of the staff and faculty of the Infantry School who observed, rode in, and fired from the modified vehicle-to express their opinions as to the overall value of the concept. All personnel expressed favorable opinions as to the increased combat effectiveness that firing/observation ports would contribute to the MIl3/M113A1 APC.

From the Infantry Board's testing I am convinced that considerable merit is to be found in this concept of correcting "design limitations" of the M113. While all testing was conducted by firing through ports cut in wooden panels, and observing either through open ports or plexiglass vision blocks, Infantry Board personnel ascertained that actual ports could be fabricated with vision blocks that provide protection equal to the M113 aluminum armor, and firing ports could be sealed prior to the vehicle's water entry. Once sealed, the firing port's armored cover would also provide protection equal to the MI13's aluminum armor.

Having discussed the advantages of modifying our standard M113/M113A1 vehicles, mention must be made that these modifications are not entirely without problem areas. So far I have spoken only in terms of a concept. Actual firing/observation ports have not yet been produced. Secondly, our Infantrymen have not been trained in how to fire from a moving vehicle, or what formations such vehicles should assume as a result, the training implications to this modification must be recognized. Finally, we must ask ourselves whether mechanized Infantry can accept a reduced stowage capability for our standard M113 APC. [2005 EDITOR: WOW! Mr. otherwise Open-Minded Infantry dude! Rethink. External stowage bins, c'mon now.] The logistical aspects of these modifications have yet to be explored. They must be the subject of further study.

Analysis of this project is continuing through various command channels. It is possible that in the near future we will have an M113 capable of permitting the Infantry to fight mounted, should it be required to do so.

(Reproduced by courtesy of the Editor, INFANTRY Magazine, Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A.).

Some Background: They Shoot Bad Guys, Don't They? U.S. Army Weapons Hatches

Mike Sparks writes:

My favorite scene in the movie, The Dirty Dozen is at the end when Lee Marvin--himself a WW2 combat veteran---and his men are trying to escape with a German half-track as they all face enemy armored cars and pour streams of submachine fire into them to blast their way through. Unfortunately, they lose some of their men who are firing exposed from the open-top half-track. Life is sometimes well represented by "art" as this was true in Vietnam which was raging when the movie was made (1967) as it is true today, whether you are "thunder running" to take a Baghdad with the 3rd Infantry Division and you are hosing swarms of enemy troops down with your .50 caliber "Ma Deuce" as Medal of Honor Winner, U.S. Army Combat Engineer, SFC Paul Smith did or in a convoy in Iraq during our current occupation. Had SFC Smith been properly equipped with a track commander's (TC) gunshield he might be living here among us today instead of a dead hero. Even though we started adding gunshields shortly after the Battle of Ap Bac in 1963, the message to have ALL vehicles armed and armored has still NOT been received by the garrison U.S. military mind which is not about warfighting but infighting for personal advancement. Simply put, American Soldiers and marines do not have their head-in-the-game until they are actually being shot at, where they realize that their buddies getting shot are not "John Cassavettes" but a real person who will never be alive again. So now gunshields that should have always been on our tracked combat vehicles in the first place are now being installed. The question is for how long will they remain installed once the war in Iraq is over and we can return to garrison BS full force? Fascinatingly, the fact that the Army attracts egomaniacs with no persuasive leadership or concern for the men or combat toughness and adaptability is also depicted in The Dirty Dozen by Major Reisman's fighting petty bureaucrats just to get his men trained, equipped and ready for their parachute raid behind enemy lines.

The Best Way to Fight Mounted?

One of the reasons in WW2, fighting from open-topped half-tracks was initially not seen as a problem, is because you could fire hand weapons from them Dirty Dozen-style. This is OK as long as the enemy is horizontal to you. However, war is not a gunslinger's "duel" where the enemy fights "fair" and right away in North Africa, the Germans began to drop mortars and air burst artillery upon our half tracks and M3 White scout cars shredding rubber tires and setting them on fire. One American General said he could see where his men were by the littered hulks of half tracks and scout cars across the desert. Fully enclosing enough volume to carry a 9-man infantry squad in a fully tracked armored fighting vehicle (TAFV) with steel at least thick enough to stop bullets (1/2 inch) has always been difficult and the U.S. Army lead the world when in 1953 it fielded the world's first fully enclosed TAFV, the M75 in combat in Korea. There has much chest beating by the USMC that it somehow "invented" helicopter Air Assaults by their small-scale troop movements by helicopters in Korea when the Germans actually had troop carrying helicopters in WW2 in action. I'm sure the Germans also had a fully enclosed tracked AFV in prototype form in WW2 as one of their "secret weapons" but it was the U.S. Army that created the first suitable mechanized infantry vehicle and fielded it in numbers in combat. Mechanized infantry has been at least as if not more important than heliborne infantry in the years since, so this Army triumph should get some press even if its only within our own ranks. In fact, our Air Assault, Light, and Airborne troops need their own air-transportable light tanks by replacing current Delta Weapons company vulnerable Humvee trucks with plentiful M113 Gavin tracks, but this is another problem and we are getting ahead of ourselves a bit. After the Korean war, General Gavin continued to press for a lighter TAFV than the M75 that would be more mobile, amphibious and air-transportable by parachute airdrop to fight non-linear post-nuclear exchange wars. With the advent of aluminum alloy armor, the M113 now called the Gavin was fielded in 1960. It was sent to Vietnam where it changed the way we think of mechanized infantry; with gunshields troops could fight mounted all the way to and even beyond the objective and not be limited to just dismounting short of the objective and fighting on foot. However, once mortars or artillery began to burst the troops inside had to button up top hatches and they could not fire hand weapons anymore.

Now we can and we should modify the top cargo hatches of our M113 Gavins to stand upright like or even using the Bradley's top cargo hatch to provide rear protection as a defacto shield, we have since the 1960s thought about adding firing ports to the Gavin's hull and actually did it with the Bradley. The Russians stunned the world after The Dirty Dozen hit movie theaters with the BMP-1 "infantry fighting vehicle" which had not only a turret with a 73mm cannon and anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), but bristled with firing ports. The Army over-reacted with the XM723 BMP-clone oversized so strapping 6 foot 4 American farm boys could fit inside. Then came the 1973 Arab-Israeli War where the Egyptian and Syrian BMPs were incinerated by long-range Israeli tank main gunfire as their firing ports had no effect to the battle's outcome. Again, the Army over-reacted and placed an oversized 2-man 25mm autocannon/7.62mm medium machine gun/TOW ATGM turret on an already too large XM723 creating the medium-weight Bradley infantry and cavalry fighting vehicles we use today. Personal experience in long-range desert wars in Desert Storm later lead the Army to armor over the Bradley's side firing ports with armored skirts to stop autocannon fires but were not set off from the hull to pre-det RPGs because explosive reactive armor (ERA) tiles were expected. When the second Iraq war began, and the Army garrison mentality and cheapskate bureaucracy had not supplied ANY of the ERA tiles, so troops in Bradleys began to die from RPGs. 1-800-OBVIOUS. 2 years into Iraq, Soldiers in close range battle against insurgents with AKMs, RPGs and roadside bombs are now attaching gunshields just to get us to where we should have been all along had we not threw out everything that reminded us of Vietnam just because it made us feel bad. The IDF on the other hand, has simply gotten better and better as battle lessons are learned making better and better gun and side shields from watching us in Vietnam and from their own close combat experiences in Lebanon beginning in 1978.

American TAFVs need firing port weapons but not from the hull

The point of all of this is to not REACT but be pro-active and adapt to the reality that in combat you might have to fight either at long or close range from both open and closed terrain types using both 2D and 3D maneuver; and that if the enemy can combine his arms and get explosive bursting munitions into the fight, our men in tracked AFVs will have to "button up" and fight on through. In WW2, we knew this might happen and actually had a "firing port" weapon, as did most other armies---its the bow-mounted machine gun in a ball mount in the hull of the M4 Sherman tank. As far back as WW2 professionals knew that those in a 360 degree swiveling turret could only see and fire upon the threats they were FACING at that time. With the armor thickest at the TAFV's front, sound tactics always face the vehicle front towards the greatest enemy threat. Since this was always going to happen, why not have a machine gun operated by an extra driver to mow down the enemies sure to come from that direction? As bad as the Sherman was at killing other enemy tanks due to its inadequate main cannon, the one thing it was good at was infantry fire support at close range (under 1000 meters), since it had a 5-man crew with a bow machine gunner and a 75mm gun suitable for blasting Japanese bunkers in the Pacific. The Russians to this day still wisely have two bow machine guns in their BMD family of air-droppable TAFVs for their Airborne.

Since money and time is short, we must create a firing port capability in our M113 Gavins but without cutting the hull up and getting in the way of adding additional armor layers to defeat roadside bombs and RPGs. The way to do this ironically was considered by the Army in the 1960s but not acted upon as Hunnicutt shows in his brilliant book, Bradley: A History of American Fighting and Support Vehicles (see page 253 for inspiration)---use the M113 Gavin's hatches!

For the driver, to get a hull mounted "bow machine gun" capability we modify his top hatch so one of the thousands of M231 5.56mm firing port weapons we have is fitted inside with a C-MAG holding 100 rounds and a brass catcher, so he can fire it with his arm over his head like a WW1 Se5 fighter plane which had its machine guns on the top biplane wing so its bullets could clear the spinning propeller and not have to fire through the propeller and have a slower rate of fire. The leading allied aces in WW1 flew Se5s so this arrangement has to be deemed successful. With a driver's top hatch 5.56mm light machine gun wherever the nose of the Gavin is facing, suppressive fires can emanate and cut down any Saving Private Ryan wannabes.

If we use the Bradley cargo hatch or something similar in the back, its already got a bulge for those 6 foot 4 inch farm boys and vision periscopes. All we need is to add two firing ports for two standing infantrymen to fire M231s or if we use an open universal port captured enemy AKMs. Extra vent fans should be built into this modified cargo hatch for expelling weapons firing gases.

In the rear, the rear door should have the M901 Improved TOW vehicle (ITV) ballistic vision window added with a Bradley rear ramp M231 FPW socket ball. To prevent unauthorized access into the rear door, a CBP lock that only opens when designated Soldiers key in their security number on key ring touchpads will end this padlock-on-the-outside non-sense which killed some Stryker truck Soldiers when they overturned and drowned in a canal in Iraq.

3 Hatches Modified = 360 Degree Close Range Firepower without cutting a hull

There you have it--for a very low cost of changing 3 hatches with 3 improved ones with firing port weapons capabilities we have created a 360 degree buttoned up close combat capability for the M113 Gavin without sacrificing the preferred open hatch, behind gunshield mounted warfare capability. Adding a 1-man 20-30mm autocannon turret to the M113 Gavins our light infantry should have is important and finishes the job of creating an optimized light-medium infantry fighting vehicle that is still air-transportable for 3D maneuver. We could use this buttoned up mounted warfare capability when we go into "war mode" clearing Iraqi cities of rebels or if/when we fight another nation-state foe with artillery, mortars and when we reach operational objectives like city centers, WW2-style infantry teams with RPGs and AKMs. The time to correctly adapt our TAFVs to non-linear, close or far ranged battle is NOW not after we realize we need it.


Armored VertAssault


Winning City Fights

Sapper Tank Ethos

Steve Hartov's Special Operations report magazine, Fall 2004 on pages 34 and 35 show pictures of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps BBE Counter-Terrorist unit's M113 Gavin AIFVs which are fitted with assault ladders on top to take-down urban buildings and airliners:

What's the excuse for our narcissistic egomaniac SOF units for not using M113 Gavin light tracks?

M113 GAVIN ASSAULT GUNS: AIR-MECH-STRIKE BY EVEN PAYLOAD-LIMITED HELICOPTERS: Mobility Firepower and Protection: Where's the "Male" Tank Version of the M113 "Gavin"?

Assuming we can overcome Cost, Time and Mentality (CTM) obstacles and get the 101st's infantry air-mechanized with Bv206S Ridgways or M113 Mini-Gavins with fold-down gunshields and firing ports we now have part of a 3D "thunder run" force that can spray small-arms fire in all directions. What's missing is the shoot-on-the-move, tank meeting engagement killer and building/bunker blaster--the fatal flaw that doomed the 9th HTTB division in the 1980s/90s. The M8 Buford/Thunderbolt has a stabilized gun with a recoiling mass to achieve 4km+, shoot-on-move accuracy and range with 105mm to 120mm high explosive and armor piercing firepower. The weight of this in a turret is around 5 tons--far too much weight for integration on the as-is Bv206S Ridgway even if it could fit into a CH-47D/F. Cutting the Bv206S infantry carrying volume off to just chassis and mounting an exposed gun has been done before---it was the M56 Scorpion with a 90mm gun and shield that nobody liked because Soldiers could be easily killed by enemy bullets and exploding shells. To make a "male tank" with a big gun that fits inside a CH-47D/F or existing CH-53E is difficult--but not impossible. In fact, its already almost been done except it was too wide and a bit too heavy (needs to be under 12 tons): the AAI "RDF Light tank" from the 1980s could be externally sling-loaded under a CH-47:

Retired Army Colonel Charles Lehner writes:

"Mike, when I was chief of the Land System Division at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), I started a project called Armored Combat Vehicle Technology. ACVT was soon embraced by GEN Bernard Rogers, C/S Army, and BG Al Gray, Director of Combat Developments at Quantico. Our primary objective was the development of a helicopter-transportable light tank. I contracted with Gene Stoner at Ares for the development of a 75mm High Velocity Automatic Cannon, and with Win Barr at AAI Corp for the development of the 75mm telescoped ammunition (a depleted uranium Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot round and a High Explosive Air Defense round with Navy Mark-404 IR proximity fuze).

AAI also built a 14.5 ton light tank using a cut down M113A3 chassis. We put on a demo at the Boeing Plant in Philadelphia carrying the light tank under a CH-47D helicopter on a short sling flying nap-of-the earth at 110 knots. The gun fired at a rate of 1 shot per second. A burst of 4 shots was enough to bring down a jet fighter flying evasively at about 4000 meters range and kill a Hind or Havoc Helicopter at about 4000 meters range (both with a probability of a kill of about 90%. A 3-shot burst with APFSDS rounds would kill a T-72 Tank head-on at about 2000 meters range with a probability of kill at about 90%. I believe that the light tank is in a combat vehicle museum in Manassas, VA. I also believe that Ares still has a 75mm cannon at Port Clinton, Ohio, along with a number of rounds of ammunition. TRASANA at White Sands ran a Force-on-Force Carmonette simulation that showed the Light tank performing better than the M-1 tank in a delaying action scenario in the Fulda Gap in Germany.

I contacted the Asst. Commandant at the Air Defense School at Fort Bliss who was very much interested in the 75mm gun, but the missile advocates picked the Martin Air Defense Anti-tank (ADATS) system which turned out to be too expensive; so the Air Defense guys wound up with a Stinger mounted HMMWV instead. The multi-purpose 75mm gun is by far the most cost-effective anti-tank/assault/anti-aircraft weapon system!"

Very Respectfully,

Charlie Lehner

This took place during a very troubling time period in the Army's history where the heavy invincible tank duelers ran the Army and they hated the light infantry and anything that would help them. Now the pendulum has swung the other way with light egomaniacs running HQDA who don't want to do anything that smacks of the heavy tracked tankers!

Other possible options that would be external sling-loadable under a CH-47...

If you want a simpler solution just fit a 90mm to 105mm gun turret on top of an as-is M113A3 Gavin...a M8 Buford/Thunderbolt Armored 105mm Gun System is more compact, but if time and $$$ are short, modifying your M113s into fire support light tanks will work...Australian 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment FSC/MRV M113s with 76mm Scorpion gun turrets lead the way into East Timor in 1999.

60mm High-Velocity Gun Turret

60mm high-velocity gun is reported to have beeter armor piercing power than the 105mm round.

90mm High-Velocity Gun Turret

Phil West on his "Tankita" web pages describes in excellent detail the many options we have to create "male" tanks that would indeed be helicopter air-transportable:

Shock Action: German Infantry Had It, We Had it, then Lost It

Studying the German and American armies in WW2 you will note that the former had DIRECT-FIRE high explosive fire support "embedded" into its infantry formations thanks to General Manstein creating turretless light tanks that would be organic to the infantry operated by field artillery units. American infantry got clobbered in WW2 because it never had anything armored and mobile like the German turretless STUGs and had to hope turreted tanks and tank destroyers from other units would provide fire support for them and not go off on killing enemy tank sprees in tank duels. In the Pacific, there were few Jap tanks, tankers in Sherman medium tanks were very successful with few losses having adequate mobility if they were carefully driven and protected from close-range enemy infantry attacks as war researcher Emery Nelson has noted. In Europe, when not fire supporting for infantry, the Shermans as exploitation tanks suffered heavy losses against German STUGs, and medium to heavy tanks when acting as a breakthrough tank. America lacked a breakthrough heavy tank to combat other enemy tanks and this Tiger tank terror obsession has resulted in the 70-ton M1 Abrams heavy tank suitable only for combats in firm soil open terrains and our light infantry without its own STUG equivalent.

American artillery with the M107 "Priest" self-propelled howitzer with a 105mm gun could provide direct fire support STUG-style but had an open top and high silhouette making it very vulnerable. Thus, the tendency of American field artillery was to pulverize generalized areas using INDIRECT FIRE directed by organic STOL "grasshopper" observation planes that they owned & operated co-located at positions back to the rear of the front lines where maneuver units were making contact with the enemy. To help American light infantry that had to deploy by aircraft for 3D maneuver or mules in closed terrain, 75mm pack howitzers (short barrel, low-velocity) and 57mm anti-tank guns (long barrel, high-velocity) were fielded and these projectors of high explosives saved the day on Sicily, D-Day, Holland and at the Battle of the Bulge. However, the question arises why didn't 57mm and 75mm guns get attached to some Bren gun ultra-light tankettes "mini-STUGs" deployed by gliders to punch through German resistance to reinforce the German paras at Arnhem bridge? Stopping to unlimber a towed 57mm/75mm gun to fire is not the shock action of a STUG.

Today, several futurists are calling for STUGs but to save weight advocate using RECOILLESS rifles, rockets and missiles. This is a proven concept as the German paras at Crete overcame their lack of firepower by hand-towing LG40 75mm recoilless guns to blast through allied positions leading to a rout. Americans fitted M40 106mm recoilless rifles to the M113 Gavin defacto STUG chassis in Vietnam. Before the backblast whiners start their hypocritical rants against RRs but go silent when ATGMs kick back huge backblasts, essentially the problem of ANY recoilless weapon to date is a lack of loading faster than 1 shot-at-a-time. This is how turreted tanks are mostly loaded, so I don't see what the whine is about, its the EXPOSED nature of this reloading that is what is at fault---not the backblast---because ANY gun is going to have huge FRONT BLAST so let's not be hypocritical here. Blast is blast seen by the enemy. American light infantry units today fire TOW ATGMs from exposed positions on top of unarmored, vulnerable, road/trail-bound Humvee wheeled trucks. Replacing these with M113 Gavins would be a quantum leap in capabilities providing armored, cross-country and amphibious mobility.

Recoilless Rifle STUGs

So let's return to the very premise of recoilless weapons to save weight. Many have long advocated 106mm RRs because a 0 shell can be actually afforded to be trained on and shot again and again. If the 106mm ammo is black-listed by the bureaucracy as too-hard to find in our vast ammo dumps or buy new from Bofors, then certainly the smaller 84mm Carl Gustav RR family of rounds in use by dozens of countries and our own Rangers could be developed into a simple M113 Gavin STUG pedestal launcher, as suggested by Stan Crist. Emery Nelson pointed out the Pakistanis have a twin-tube 106mm RR mount on an M113. And with the new fire control systems, the maximum effective range could be over 2km, at least, instead of 1100m, the .50 cal tracer burn-out range.

Rocket STUGs

Another idea is to already have a lot of 2.75" rockets in pods on top of your STUG as suggested by retired LTC Larry Altersitz. The beauty of the Hydra 70mm rockets is that they are cheap and now have a laser-guided version, too. Carlton and I have suggested to both the Army and USMC air defenders with Avenger Humvee trucks to exploit their ability to fire Hydra 70mm rockets to no avail. Current air defenders' unwillingness to contribute to the ground fight is shameful compared to their WW2 predecessors who in some cases (discarded/exchanged their)

AA weapons and employed 57mm AT guns to be useful. Another beauty of the Hydra 70mm rocket is its small sized, at least 100 could fit inside a M113 Gavin rocket STUG and give us direct fire as well as indirect barrage fire capabilities we lost when we retired our 4.5" rocket launchers.

Missile STUGs

Former USMC Captain Carlton Meyer for his HELLCAT would like to shoot dumb Hellfire missiles, Phil West's "Tankita" with Starstreak SAM/AT missiles, retired Army LTC Chuck Jarnot and war futurist Victor O'Reilly propose LOSAT-Juniors called C-KEMs the concern being to save weight for helicopter air transportability because the missiles launch themselves and don't need a heavy metal tube to "spit" them out and a recoilling mechanism. Both concepts would work great with the M113 Gavin STUG each having about 20 killing rounds on-board though exposed reloading is a problem that can be solved in varying degrees of cost/capability. The simplest and cheapest is a "TOW CAP" a kevlar dome over the gunner/reloader good to just KE bullets and small blast effects to the side, front and rear are still exposed. Having the launcher on a retracting pedestal that sinks down into the hull when empty for reloading there seems the best but will require some costly engineering. Another alternative might be to have the launcher pivot to a vertical or near-vertical position via the elevation mechanism and lower itself via a hydraulic electric or pneumatic piston to a loading position, with flip-up armored panels that cover the loaders from small arms fire. This does away with the retracting pedestal mount engineering problem for both a dumb/smart ATGM or 70mm rockets and actually has been employed by the Euro HOT ATGM. Phil West writes:

My idea was more concerned with the mounting of multi-use pylons on AFVs rather than specifically for Starstreak. These could mount TOW, Dumb-TOW, Hellfire, Starstreak, FFAR or any other weapon system that might be needed, such as podded grenade launchers.

I've suggested this modification for everything from M113s to MBTs. A related idea was what was effectively a "one shot assault gun" Recoilless weapons.

"Established wisdom" is that the backblast of a RCLR will give away its position. Ralph has argued that this is not a significant factor given the muzzle blast of the weapons and that a shot from a RCLR is no more noticable than that from a conventional gun of similar calibre. Watching the videos of RCLRs firing on confirms this. As a side note flash is mainly caused by partially burnt propellant being exposed to oxygen and some formulaes of powder seem to be more prone to this than others. I have an article in my possession discussing the phenomon that certain pistol and rifle ammo brands produce virtually no flash when the same loadings from other manufacturers produce a lot. If I recall Israeli Samson brand was noted for being virtually flashless, as was wartime japanese rifle ammo (combined with the relatively long barrel of the service rifle). Calibration of powder volume might also contribute here. See here for old article on pop-up mounts for RCLRs and mention of the Japanese type 60 vehicle that actually had something like this

Probably closest idea I had to a STUG was

The crucial element of the German Assault Gun concept was not the actual configuration of the vehicle (L/24 75mm Pz1Vs were sometimes used by PzGr Divisions instead) but the organisational innovation of placing these vehicles under infantry control

...which helped preserve their distinct role. It is with that in mind I've suggested that the AGM be placed in the Mortar platoon of Armoured Infantry battalions

Our nagging concern with the dumb/smart ATGM approach is the sad reality that if things are too costly you will NEVER GET TO TRAIN ON THEM. The , 000 TOW ATGM is so rare that we drew lots in my NG unit to see who got to go to Florida and shoot the handfuls allocated for our ENTIRE BN to shoot. If you cannot shoot your weapons you cannot get very good at using them.

Gun or Howitzer STUGs

In 1977 the Gratzl concept was revived by a consortium consisting of German Krauss Maffei, Rheinmetall and U.S. FMC. The vehicle was modified by replacing the original Abbott gun with the Rheinmetall developed version of the U.S. M101 105mm gun and moving it close to the centreline of the vehicle. The vehicle was fitted with a new aluminum armor enabling it to resist 14.5mm Heavy Machine Gun rounds at the front and 7.62mm AP/artillery-mortar shell fragments at the sides and rear. The roles envisioned for the vehicle include Anti-tank, Artillery fire support, Mechanised infantry combat vehicle, Personnel carrier and Reconnaissance vehicle. It is capable of carrying seven crew and additional personnel could be carried by removing some of the ammunition racks. The Commander's hatch can be fitted with a gunshield covered machine gun or light autocannon for 360 degree security firepower.

Why not just place a 105mm tank gun or a 105mm light howitzer tube into a turretless M113 Gavin STUG-style and live with the weight/recoil as retired LTC Larry Altersitz has suggested? Is this extra weight going to make a reduced size "Mini-Gavin" unable to be flyable inside a CH-47? Wouldn't the 9-man squad's absence in weight (2700 pounds) pay for most of the 105mm gun weight? "Spitting" out shells through metal tubes is far cheaper than any ATGM dumb or "smart". Less propellant is needed to shoot the shells through a tube so they are smaller than rockets and missiles so you might be able to get 100 shells in a M113 Gavin STUG compared to at most 20 ATGMs.

We can certainly have a lighter gun turret than the RDF's 75mm ARES autocannon to be much lighter than its 14 tons on either a cut-down M113 Gavin or Bv206S hull (see UDES-XX-20 pics further down on the AMS web page: The problem is again, CTM.

For the 101st, a RECOILLESS firepower means will be required to save precious weight and cost--this means either rockets, missiles or recoilless rifles.

However, the simplest and easiest solution is to attach a M40A1 106mm recoilless rifle (RR) with a TAGS-type shield to the top of a designated Bv206S Ridgway after it rolls off the CH-47D/F helicopter, and using the troop volume to carry lots of new 106mm rounds obtained from Bofors or Israel if our 250,000 rounds of old ammo will not suffice. Stan Crist has proposed the smaller Carl Gustav 84mm RR be used on a vehicle mount. This solves the building/bunker blasting problem but at a cost of gunners dying from exposure to enemy fires. It doesn't shoot on move to kill enemy tanks or buttoned up. Spain makes a TC7 turret with a twin 106mm RR firing arrangement that can be fired under armor but the rifles have to be reloaded TOW-style with someone popping a hatch and exposing himself. There are myriad mounting options of 106mm RRs to M113A3s; the dual 106mm RR TC turret that keeps the gunner under armor protection is available from CETME in Spain. The TC-7/106 turret means only one crew member has to briefly expose his upper body to reload the weapons. The gunner aims the rifles within the vehicle with the reloading carried out through the troop hatch. Both traverse and elevation are hydraulic with the gunner's handle having fast target search at 15 degrees a second. The turret also has a .50 caliber Heavy Machine Gun and the .50 cal spotting rifle on the right hand RR.

Empressa Nacional Santa Barbera
Julian Camarillo 3
28037 Madird, Spain
Telephone: (91) 585-0100
Telex: 44466 ENSB E
Fax: (91) 585-0268

Pakistan has a twin 106mm RR mount on their M113s with a laser range-finder that extends effective range out to 1500 meters using old ammunition.

Wah Cantonnement, Pakistan
Telex: 5840 POPAC PK.

Its clear that the best solution is to design a 106mm autoloader turret that interestingly enough the Army had in 1954 called the T114 and place it on a cut-down Bv206S or M113 Mini-Gavin hull with stabilization. The R&D for the Bv206S Mini-106mm RR Assault Gun autoloader turret variant would probably cost around M and cost M per modified Bv206S Ridgway for a M total price tag. Depending on how many M8 Bufords/Thunderbolts the other light infantry RSTA squadrons got (either a 4 vehicle platoon or 14 vehicle troop) the 101st would need either 12 or 42 total at a cost of either -84M.

Another option would be to have 2 x 19-rocket 2.75 inch (Hydra 70mm) rocket pods in an armored turntable on a Bv206S or Mini-Gavin and firing them since 38 shots is almost the 42 shots of a M8 Buford/Thunderbolt AGS light tank. It would be sort of like the M50 Ontos which compensated for not having under-armor reloading by having 6 x 106mm recoilless rifles on the outside of the hull and turning the whole vehicle to fire. In both cases, when a resupply vehicle comes, someone has to get out and reload the entire vehicle one time before heading back to the battle area. During battle, no one would have to get out of the vehicle to reload--certainly not with 38 x Hydra 70mm rockets available. A laser guided warhead on the Hydra 70mm makes it a guided missile that can fly to where a laser designator "paints" the target.

Together, the Bv206S or Mini-Gavin infantry carriers and American STUG 106mm RR assault guns or Hydra 70mm rocket launchers would form a 3D maneuver element that could fight its way through to city centers of gravity like the M113 Gavin/M8 Buford light-to-medium fixed-wing aircraft delivered force could except it would do so with less MFP because they had to fit inside CH-47D/F helicopters, but they could overcome enemies with RPGs, their own RRs, small arms, barricades and even some medium/heavy tanks.


Our recommendation is to develop a 84mm Carl Gustav or 106mm RR depressing pedestal reload under-armor launcher, or Hydra 70mm rocket launcher for recoilless weaponry for a M113 Gavin-based STUG because these are affordable rounds we can shoot and the Hydra 70mms can be guided if they need to be.

SPECIAL OPERATIONS M113s: High-Technology Special Operations Force Direct-Action, Recon and Stealth Armored Fighting Vehicle: the Gavin

VIDEO: High Technology M113 Gavins

6-roadwheel, M113 Gavin MTVL hybrid-electric drive demonstrator shows 60+ mph speeds as well as silent, stealthy mobility in addition to the cross-country mobility that can avoid road/trail ambushes that damn wheeled trucks. With HED 300 mile range is doubled to 600 miles and sensors can be employed all night without having to crank engines and revealing your position. Details:

Phil West writes of M113-type tracks for use in special operations:

"Vehicles such as the Millenibren will prove to be particularly useful for Heli-mobile forces since these units are often used in a counter-insurgency role. Insurgents often deliberately locate their strongholds and training camps in areas where the operation of conventional military ground vehicles is difficult. Moving troops by helicopter is an option but Insurgent air defences may prevent units being landed close to the objective. Such a force is reduced to foot mobility and is limited in the weapons and equipment that it can carry. The addition of light helicopter-transportable high mobility ground vehicles that can move across the same terrain as infantrymen will greatly increase a unit's combat capability by allowing the movement of heavier weapons and greater ammunition loads."

Yet this common sense and clear wisdom doesn't permeate the narcissistic U.S. military.

Weak "Special" Victims in Trucks/on Foot Beg for Firepower Salvation resulting in Economic Disaster for Iraqi Civilians to Fuel Rebellion


VIDEO: SAS Team Bravo 20 Debacle

PART 1: BS program narration assumes world SF units are competent when this and other incidents show they have serious problems, nice footage of Iowa battleship firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, airstrikes can't find and destroy mobile SCUD SSM TELs, 8 men ON FOOT for 10 days behind enemy lines, actual interview with team leader Andy McNab, no map or photos to go by, LUP mentality overly dependant upon not being detected, typical we'll-get-you-by-helicopter-at-location-X-if-plan-A-goes-to-shit violates SAS motorization self-sufficiency unit was based on

PART 2: all of this "experience" yet no one thought whole foot-slogging CONOPS was unsound? Now Ryan says everyone thought it was an "one way ticket"? Why didn't they DO SOMETHING so it wouldn't be suicidal (get motor vehicles)? unarmed helos? crews with no SERE training? are the Brits that poor? air attack nearby as diversion to get to recon site, 445 am arrival---not enough time to dig hide site before dawn, solid rock undiggable---if they had Mini-Gavins with digging tools they could have been under camouflage before dawn, switch to dry river bed as quasi-hide site, no cold weather gear? WTFO? this the same SAS that won in the Falklands? Again Mini-Gavins would keep men warm inside, radio filled with wrong encryption frequencies hops, where's the visual back-up? Google maps satellite can zoom in to 100 feet resolution, don't we have a spy satellite that can monitor SF teams that lose radio comms?

PART 3: if radio comms not established helo automatically flies to RV spot with new radio, no insight into how fiber-optic cable was in or on the ground, stumble into AA gun, white stakes = buried cable underneath? Again, why not have a Mini-Gavin with digging tools to reach it? AA unit moved to within 400m of their hide site, no local security posted feeling safe deep within their country, goat herder boy discovers them, some goats have bells, screams and runs to AA unit

PART 4: team displaces, flanked by tracks obviously faster moving than them, can't shake them, decisively engaged, AA gun opens fire on them, breaks contact with mediocre Iraqi unit and are 8 miles away by nightfall or just 8 minutes of driving time away from motorized/mechanized enemy, ditched their rucksacks to gain some speed perhaps 4 mph instead of 1 mph, why was RV location due south in obvious direction enemy would expect team to flee? no war gaming during planning, no helicopter rescue due to enemy proximity, decide to go NW 120 miles to Syrian border ETA 3 nights (macho over-estimation?), no water, no vegetation to hide in, no landmarks--AGAIN--WTFO are you doing inserting men on foot into the desert? 30 miles into the escape run, minor injury in leg of one member becomes immobilizing, another is dehydrated, why not bikes or carts?

PART 5: no cold weather gear lost in their rucksacks, sweaty men start to get hypothermia, use downed pilot radios to try to contact a passing jet, did try to get them to turn back north to stay in signal contact but fast jets can lose signal too fast, TL thinks allies now know their plight and last location, 3 of team vanish without GPS, pitfalls of single file movement is those in front could keep going if leader in rear decides to stop, zero visibility conditions, Chris Ryan and two wounded men sleep in old tank berm how ironic, Andy's group huddled by a burial mound: everyone should always carry at least a poncho-tent on them at all times as a sun/wind break, Iraqi troops all around them, troops warm and rested in vehicles stopping and getting out to look for them

PART 6: Vince has hypothermia yet they don't stop to warm him they lose him why didn't they tie a rope to each other to stay together? he dies, Andy commandeers an Iraqi civilian car, NOW they want to be motorized, why didn't they keep the Iraqi civilians inside for deception purposes? Chris confronts a goat herder but doesn't know ANY Arabic? WTFO? Stan leaves his web gear/weapon with Chris to go with shepherd, Chris says be back at 0630 or he's gone, two vehicles approach, he lights them up, Andy's taxi stopped at line-up at border, shoot way out to Euphrates river

PART 7: firefight scatters team trying to find point on river they can cross on foot, Bob gunned down, Legs/Dinger swim across, Mark wounded, Andy on his own, Legs dies of hypothermia, Dinger captured, Andy found in culvert, taken to Baghdad prison camp to be tortured, Stan and Dinger in prison with him

PART 8: 180 miles in 7 nights = 25 miles/day, Chris makes it to Syria, Andy after 8 days of torture admits to being a close observation platoon etc., M113 Gavin footage crossing into Iraq ironic since these vehicles in SAS use could have prevented the debacle, war ends and they are released, DB Sweeney good narrator

The British even knew better than to strand men on foot in the desert....they were created in WW2 to be vehicle-mobile!

Must we be "Special" to Have a Cavalry?

The videos shown here begs us to reflect on Slim's warning about "special" units, is this necessary to get a cavalry more mobile than the main body? Must we set apart a group of snobs in order to get no-non-sense functionality? Must the main body be crack-the-whip assholes and an intolerable place to be to get MASS on planet earth? You set up a pecking order pyramid of narrow individualist ego and this ends up devaluing the other more vital functions that needs to be done quantitatively in a larger way to effect enough of planet earth. Must one go through a snob process to "earn" the right to have common sense and a flexibility of the mind? Didn't the Germans have a high state of initiative within their large main body? Can't we have 3D and 2D maneuver working together without the us vs. them snobfest? What happened to the SAS that knew in WW2 to be vehicle-mobile yet 48 years later to have lost their brain and tried to foot slog in the desert? Are they that hard up economically? How much would bikes and carts cost?

PART 1 intro

PART 2: Problems keeping wheeled trucks mobile in the desert, make-shift sand channels, wheel carpets etc,. Tommy infantry backed by Mathilda medium tanks route Italians, Germans send Rommel, note ALL his tanks were LIGHT, ability to repair on vehicles in desert, Sterling goes to the top general with his idea for raiding force, Layforce and LT. Jock Lewis, SAS parachute training, railcar for PLFs, small jump tower, moving trucks to practice PLFs, training tent camp by Suez Canal, Fitzroy McClean, author, NOTE: jumping with no reserves!!, SAS jump wings, insignia, motto

PART 3: Operation Crusader airfield raids in 1941, parachutes too windy in desert, opt for LRDG transport SAS to raids, 10 x Lewis bombs each raider to take-out aircraft, Jock Lewis killed in his unarmored truck by German airplane, road watches to ascertain enemy strength/intentions, airfield raids to relieve attacks on Malta, Germans can't counter LRDG/SAS, Rommel creates German version of LRDG to get intel on Monty's 8th Army inserting spies into Egypt but ULTRA secret tipped Brits off who arrested all of them, 88mm guns in action, American Willys Jeep easy to conceal, sun compass, stronger "Jerry" fuel cans, condensors to retain engine coolant

PART 4: Communal chow concoctions, mg jeep raids on airfields, self-sufficiency in each vehicle, E&E kit if vehicle disabled, 4-man building blocks NOONE commanded it, all 4 took turns co-operating, some raids ended in disaster in the vulnerable wheeled trucks, they had their own STOL liaison aircraft!

PART 5: using captured allied trucks painted in German markings, 200 raids, one patrol out at all times, LRDG/SAS destroyed more German aircraft on ground than RAF did in air and on ground!

We can begin by fixing American SOF units by supplying them with high-technology M113 Gavins. MAKING THEM GROW UP AND DO OPERATIONS IN AIR-DELIVERED M113 GAVIN ARMORED TRACKS so if they run into the enemy they can SOLVE THEIR OWN BATTLEFIELD PROBLEMS with their own firepower and armored mobility (not get decisively engaged) and not beg for others to do their dirty work.

BEFORE 9/11: Armored vehicles don't get "dented fenders": fixing American SOF units


Why American SOF units need High Technology, hybrid-electric-drive, band-tracked M113A4 Gavin light tracked armored fighting vehicles to defeat global terrorists

A seasoned Special Operations Force (SOF) expert comments on why America's commandos didn't get Al Queda before the 9/11 attacks:

"Special Operations was never given the mission. It was very, very frustrating. It was like having a brand-new Ferrari in the garage, and nobody wants to race it because you might dent the fender."

---General Peter Schoomaker, current U.S. Army Chief of Staff and former Delta Force member

One of the reasons why civilian politicians are reluctant to send in Special Operations Forces (SOF) to surround and raid terrorists in remote areas is because they operate on foot and vulnerable wheeled trucks against more numerous, dug-in, well-protected enemies with more automatic weapons, mortars, rockets and RPG firepower. As American SOF closes in for the kill on foot; they are vulnerable to intense enemy fires and likely to suffer heavy casualties. Military futurist John Poole will tell you "that last 1,000 yards" is the most difficult ground to cross.

The recent encirclement of terrorists by the Pakistani Army that failed highlights this as their troops in trucks and on foot were unable to press home their attacks to get the enemy before he escaped using underground tunnels. The Pakistani Army used air strikes and artillery on the suspected enemy locations but could not follow these suppressive fires to reach the enemy locations because their men on foot/trucks were unprotected.

Here is yet another reason for the Green Berets and Rangers to get off their asses and get their own M113 Gavin light tracked AFVs...if they want to contribute to the nation-state fight and have freedom of maneuver during sub-national conflicts...

Unclassified After Action Report From Iraq
September 12, 2003
24 APRIL 2003

SUBJECT: Operation Iraqi Freedom After Action Review Comments

1. The purpose of this document is to provide after action review comments after combat operations conducted by TM C/3-15 Infantry, Task Force 1-64 Armor "Desert Rogues" during "Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Discussion: Throughout this operation, special operations forces brought no information, which was of any value to the unit. In fact, never at one time did this unit have any special operations forces forward in zone or along an axis of attack providing critical information or intelligence. In fact, the situation was just the opposite. The special operations forces, hid or moved behind the protection of armored forces throughout the operation. This became especially evident during the transition from hostilities to SASO as this unit was tasked at least daily to provide either a QRF or transport to special operations forces into areas of the city to meet contacts or conduct "snatches".

Recommendation: Conventional ground commanders, the backbone of the army, cannot expect to receive any timely information from special operations forces during combat operations such as those experienced by this unit during "OIF". Additionally, the United States Army should review its current doctrine or lack of doctrine reference the integration of SOF and armor and mechanized infantry forces.

The solution is to immediately supply U.S. Army SOF units in Afghanistan/Iraq, modernized M113A4 Gavins light tracked armored fighting vehicles (TAFVs) because their armored bodies, and tracked but stealthy 600-mile range hybrid-electric mobility would enable them to encircle high-value, heavily defended targets, catching the terrorists by surprise and holding them by suppressive fires. As suppressive fires from aircraft, artillery and from the M113A4 Gavin vehicles themselves pin down the terrorists, the SOF Soldiers inside the moving armored hulls (which can lay smoke screens) can exploit these fires to close to within assault and blocking positions so the terrorists are finished off and not allowed to escape. If the high-value targets are surrounded by civilians and you cannot bomb them to suppress them firing back, then light TAFVs enable SOF units to move in the face of enemy fire via armored vehicle protection to encircle and assault.


Former Terrorism Leader Richard Clarke reveals that no SF units were sent after Bin Laden (!); how Neo-Con take-over of Bush White House hampered war on terrorists in Afghanistan

(Richard Clarke Interview = RC)

RC: That option was included in the plan, and the Clinton people had never rejected it. Yes it was there. But when they finally did the ground invasion they kind of botched it, because all they did initially was send special forces with the northern alliance. They did not insert special forces to go in after Bin Laden. They let Bin Laden escape. They only went in two months after.

JB: Did the Pentagon and the office of special plans play an important role in the processing of intelligence?

RC: Certainly. The people in Rumsfeld's office and in Wolfowitz's operation cherry-picked intelligence to select the intelligence to support their views. They never did the due diligence on the intelligence that professional intelligence analysts are trained to do. [The OSP] would go through the intelligence reports including the ones that the CIA was throwing out. They stitched it together they would send it out, send it over to Cheney. All the stuff that a professional would have thrown out. As soon as 9/11 happened people like Rumsfeld saw it was opportunity. During that first week after September 11, the decision was made. It was confirmed by president We should do Afghanistan first. But the resources necessary to do a good job in Afghanistan were withheld. There was not enough to go in fast, to go in enough to secure the country. Troops were held back. There were 11,000 troops in Afghanistan. There were fewer in whole country than police in the borough of Manhattan

RC: If you look at the so-called Vulcans group [Bush's pre-election foreign policy advisors] talked about publicly in seminars in Washington. They clearly wanted to go after Iraq and they clearly wanted to do this reshaping of the middle east and they used the tragedy of 9/11 as an excuse to test their theories.

JB: Do you think President Bush was already on board when he came to office?

RC: I think he was. He got his international education from the Vulcans group the previous year. They were people like Richard Perle, Jim Woolsey, Paul Wolfowitz. They were all espousing this stuff. So he probably had been persuaded. He certainly wasn't hearing any contrary view during this education process.

Terrorism expert Richard Shultz outlines in a superb article why American SOF is thought to be too fragile to use pre-emptively:

Showstoppers: Nine reasons why we never sent our Special Operations Forces after al Qaeda before 9/11

By Richard H. Shultz Jr.
01/26/2004, Volume 009, Issue 19

SINCE 9/11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly declared that the United States is in a new kind of war, one requiring new military forces to hunt down and capture or kill terrorists. In fact, for some years, the Department of Defense has gone to the trouble of selecting and training an array of Special Operations Forces, whose forte is precisely this. One president after another has invested resources to hone lethal "special mission units" for offensive--that is, preemptive--counterterrorism strikes, with the result that these units are the best of their kind in the world. While their activities are highly classified, two of them--the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Team 6--have become the stuff of novels and movies.

Prior to 9/11, these units were never used even once to hunt down terrorists who had taken American lives. Putting the units to their intended use proved impossible--even after al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, bombed two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, and nearly sank the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. As a result of these and other attacks, operations were planned to capture or kill the ultimate perpetrators, Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, but each time the missions were blocked. A plethora of self-imposed constraints--I call them showstoppers--kept the counterterrorism units on the shelf.

I first began to learn of this in the summer of 2001, after George W.Bush's election brought a changing of the guard to the Department of Defense.

Training the new team as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict was Bob Andrews, an old hand at the black arts of unconventional warfare. During Vietnam, Andrews had served in a top-secret Special Forces outfit codenamed the Studies and Observations Group that had carried out America's largest and most complex covert paramilitary operation in the Cold War. Afterwards, Andrews had joined the CIA, then moved to Congress as a staffer, then to the defense industry.

I'd first met him while I was writing a book about the secret war against Hanoi, and we hit it off. He returned to the Pentagon with the new administration, and in June 2001 he called and asked me to be his consultant. I agreed, and subsequently proposed looking into counterterrorism policy. Specifically, I wondered why had we created these superbly trained Special Operations Forces to fight terrorists, but had never used them for their primary mission. What had kept them out of action?

Andrews was intrigued and asked me to prepare a proposal. I was putting the finishing touches on it on the morning of September 11, when al Qaeda struck. With that blow, the issue of America's offensive counterterrorist capabilities was thrust to center stage.

By early November, I had the go-ahead for the study. Our question had acquired urgency: Why, even as al Qaeda attacked and killed Americans at home and abroad, were our elite counterterrorism units not used to hit back and prevent further attacks? That was, after all, their very purpose, laid out in the official document "Special Operations in Peace and War" (1996). To find the answer, I interviewed civilian and military officials, serving and retired, at the center of U.S. counterterrorism policy and operational planning in the late 1980s and 1990s.

They included senior members of the National Security Council's Counterterrorism and Security Group, the interagency focal point for counterterrorism policy. In the Pentagon, I interviewed the top leaders of the offices with counterterrorism responsibility, as well as second-tier professionals, and their military counterparts in the Joint Staff. Finally, the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for planning and carrying out counterterrorism strikes, and I interviewed senior commanders who served there during the 1990s.

Some were willing to speak on the record. Others requested anonymity, which I honored, in order to put before the top leadership of the Pentagon the detailed report from which this article is drawn. My findings were conveyed to the highest levels of the Department of Defense in January 2003.

Among those interviewed, few were in a better position to illuminate the conundrum than General Pete Schoomaker. An original member of the Delta Force, he had commanded the Delta Force in 1991-92, then led the Special Operations Command in the late 1990s. "Counterterrorism", by Defense Department definition, is "offensive," Schoomaker told me during a discussion we had over two days in the summer of 2002. "But Special Operations was never given the mission. It was very, very frustrating. It was like having a brand-new Ferrari in the garage, and nobody wants to race it because you might dent the fender."

AS TERRORIST ATTACKS escalated in the 1990s, White House rhetoric intensified. President Clinton met each successive outrage with a vow to punish the perpetrators. After the Cole bombing in 2000, for example, he pledged to "find out who is responsible and hold them accountable." And to prove he was serious, he issued an increasingly tough series of Presidential Decision Directives. The United States would "deter and preempt...individuals who perpetrate or plan to perpetrate such acts," said Directive 39, in June 1995. Offensive measures would be used against foreign terrorists posing a threat to America, said Directive 62, in May 1998. Joint Staff contingency plans were revised to provide for offensive and preemptive options. And afteral Qaeda's bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, President Clinton signed a secret "finding" authorizing lethal covert operations against bin Laden.

These initiatives led to the planning of several operations. Their details rest in the classified records of the National Security Council's Counterterrorism and Security Group. Its former coordinator, Dick Clarke, described them as providing the White House with "more aggressiveoptions," to be carried out by Special Operations Forces (or SOF, a category that includes the Green Berets, the Rangers, psychological operations, civilian affairs, the SEALS, special helicopter units, and special mission units like the Delta Force and SEAL Team 6).

Several plans have been identified in newspaper accounts since 9/11. For example, "snatch operations" in Afghanistan were planned to seize bin Laden and his senior lieutenants. After the 1998 embassy bombings, options for killing bin Laden were entertained, including a gunship assault on his compound in Afghanistan.

SOF assaults on al Qaeda's Afghan training camps were also planned. An official very close to Clinton said that the president believed the image of American commandos jumping out of helicopters and killing terrorists would send a strong message. He "saw these camps as conveyor belts pushing radical Islamists through," the official said, "that either went into the war against the Northern Alliance [an Afghan force fighting the Taliban in northern Afghanistan] or became sleeper cells in Germany, Spain, Britain, Italy, and here. We wanted to close these camps down. We had to make it unattractive to go to these camps. And blowing them up, by God, would make them unattractive."

And preemptive strikes against al Qaeda cells outside Afghanistan were planned, in North Africa and the Arabian Gulf. Then in May 1999, the White House decided to press the Taliban to end its support of bin Laden. The Counterterrorism and Security Group recommended supporting the Northern Alliance.

These examples, among others, depict an increasingly aggressive, lethal,and preemptive counterterrorist policy. But not one of these operations--all authorized by President Clinton--was ever executed. General Schoomaker's explanation is devastating. "The presidential directives that were issued," he said, "and the subsequent findings and authorities, in my view, were done to check off boxes. The president signed things that everybody involved knew full well were never going to happen. You're checking off boxes, and have all this activity going on, but the fact is that there's very low probability of it ever coming to fruition. . . ." And he added: "The military, by the way, didn't want to touch it. There was great reluctance in the Pentagon."

FROM MY INTERVIEWS, I distilled nine mutually reinforcing, self-imposed constraints that kept the special mission units sidelined, even as al Qaeda struck at American targets around the globe and trumpeted its intention to do more of the same. These showstoppers formed an impenetrable phalanx ensuring that all high-level policy discussions, tough new presidential directives, revised contingency plans, and actual dress rehearsals for missions would come to nothing.

1. Terrorism as Crime

During the second half of the 1980s, terrorism came to be defined by theU.S. government as a crime, and terrorists as criminals to be prosecuted. The Reagan administration, which in its first term said that it would meet terrorism with "swift and effective retribution," ended its second term, in the political and legal aftermath of Iran-contra, by adopting a counterterrorism policy that was the antithesis of that.

"Patterns of Global Terrorism," a report issued by the State Department every year since 1989, sets forth guidance about responding to terrorism. Year after year prior to 9/11, a key passage said it was U.S. policy to "treat terrorists as criminals, pursue them aggressively, and apply the rule of law." Even now, when President Bush has defined the situation as a war on terrorism, "Patterns of Global Terrorism" says U.S. policy is to "bring terrorists to justice for their crimes."

Criminalization had a profound impact on the Pentagon, said General Schoomaker. It came to see terrorism as "not up to the standard of our definition of war, and therefore not worthy of our attention." In other words, militaries fight other militaries. "And because it's not war," he added, "and we don't act like we're at war, many of the Defense Department's tools are off the table." The Pentagon's senior leadership made little if any effort to argue against designating terrorism as a crime, Schoomaker added derisively.

"If you declare terrorism a criminal activity, you take from Defense any statutory authority to be the leader in responding," a long-serving department official agreed. Whenever the White House proposed using SOF against terrorists, it found itself facing "a band of lawyers at Justice defending their turf." They would assert, said this old hand at special operations, that the Pentagon lacked authority to use force--and "lawyers in the Defense Department would concur. They argued that we have no statutory authority because this is essentially a criminal matter."

In effect, the central tool for combating terrorism would not be militaryforce. Extradition was the instrument of choice. This reduced the Pentagon's role to providing transportation for the Justice Department.

To be sure, Justice had its successes. With the help of the Pakistani government, it brought back Mir Amal Kansi, the gunman who opened fire outside CIA headquarters in 1993; with the help of the governments of the Philippines and Kenya, it brought several of the terrorists responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing and the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa back to stand trial. But those were lesser al Qaeda operatives. Against the group's organizational infrastructure and leadership, there were no such successes. Law enforcement had neither the access nor the capability to go after those targets.

2. Not a Clear and Present Danger or War

Since terrorism had been classified as crime, few Pentagon officials were willing to call it a clear and present danger to the United States--much less grounds for war. Any attempt to describe terrorism in those terms ran into a stone wall.

For instance, on June 25, 1996, a truck bomb killed 19 Americans and wounded another 250 at the U.S. military's Khobar Towers housing facility near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath, a tough-minded subordinate of Allen Holmes, then the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, asserted that the Defense Department needed a more aggressive counterterrorism policy to attack those responsible for these increasingly lethal terrorist attacks. Holmes told him, "Write it down, and we'll push it."

The aide laid out a strategy that pulled no punches. Khobar Towers, the World Trade Center bombing, and other attacks were acts of war, he wrote, and should be treated as such. He called for "retaliatory and preemptive military strikes against the terrorist leadership and infrastructure responsible, and even against states assisting them." In his strategy, he assigned a central role for this to SOF.

Holmes ran the proposal up the flagpole. A meeting to review it was held in the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy. As the hard-charging aide explained his recommendations, a senior policy official blurted out: "Are you out of your mind? You're telling me that our Middle East policy is not important and that it's more important to go clean out terrorists? Don't you understand what's going on in terms of our Middle East policy? You're talking about going after terrorists backed by Iran? You just don't understand." And that was that.

In the wake of Khobar Towers, Secretary of Defense William Perry asked retired General Wayne Downing to head a task force to assess what had happened. Formerly the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Downing had been in counterterrorism a long time. He was more than willing to pull the trigger and cajole policymakers into giving him the authority to do so. Interviewed in 2002 during a year-long stint as President Bush's deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, he reflected on his report: "I emphasized that people are at war with us, and using terrorism as an asymmetrical weapon with which to attack us because they can't in a direct or conventional manner." It was war, he told the department's senior leadership; they needed to wake up to that fact. But his plea fell on deaf ears. He lamented, "No one wanted to address terrorism as war."

Even after bin Laden declared war on America in a 1998 fatwa, and bombed U.S. embassies to show his followers that he meant business in exhorting them to "abide by Allah's order by killing Americans . . .anywhere, anytime, and wherever possible," the Pentagon still resisted calling terrorism war. It wasn't alone. A CIA assessment of the fatwa acknowledged that if a government had issued such a decree, one would have had to consider it a declaration of war, but in al Qaeda's case it was only propaganda.

During the late 1990s, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism was Mike Sheehan. A retired Special Forces officer who had learned unconventional warfare in El Salvador in the late 1980s, he was considered one of the most hawkish Clinton officials, pushing for the use of force against the Taliban and al Qaeda. His mantra was "drain the Afghan swamp of terrorists."

I visited Sheehan at his office at the U.N. building in New York, where he had become assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping. He recounted how aggressive counterterrorism proposals were received in the Defense Department: "The Pentagon wanted to fight and win the nation's wars, as Colin Powell used to say. But those were wars against the armies of other nations--not against diffuse transnational terrorist threats. So terrorism was seen as a distraction that was the CIA's job, even though DOD personnel were being hit by terrorists. The Pentagon way to treat terrorism against Pentagon assets abroad was to cast it as a force protection issue."

"Force protection" is Pentagon lingo for stronger barriers to shield troops from Khobar Towers-type attacks. Even the attack on the USS Cole did not change that outlook. As far as causing anyone to consider offensive measures against those responsible, "the Cole lasted only for a week, two weeks," Sheehan lamented. "It took a 757 crashing into the Pentagon for them to get it. "Shaking his head, he added: "The near sinking of a billion-dollar warship was not enough. Folding up a barracks full of their troops in Saudi Arabia was not enough. Folding up two American embassies was not enough."

Of course, Washington continued to try to arrest those who had carried out these acts. But the places where terrorists trained and planned--Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, and Yemen--remained off-limits. Those were not areas where the Defense Department intended to fight. A very senior SOF officer who had served on the Joint Staff in the 1990s told me that more than once he heard terrorist strikes characterized as "a small price to pay for being a superpower."

3. The Somalia Syndrome

In the first year of his presidency, Bill Clinton suffered a foreign policy debacle. The "Fire Fight from Hell," Newsweek called it. The Los Angeles Times described it as culminating in "dozens of cheering, dancing Somalis dragging the body of a U.S. Soldier through the city's streets." Those reports followed the 16-hour shootout portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down," pitting SOF units against Somali warriors in the urban jungle of Mogadishu on October 3-4,1993. The American objective had been capturing Mohammed Aidid, a warlord who was interfering with the U.N.'s humanitarian mission. The new administration had expected a quick surgical operation.

The failure caused disquieting questions and bad memories. How could this happen? What had gone wrong? Some Clinton officials recalled that the last time the Democrats had held the White House, similar forces had failed in their attempt to rescue American hostages in Tehran ("Desert One"), a catastrophe instrumental in President Carter's 1980 re-election defeat.

Some senior generals had expressed doubts about the Mogadishu operation, yet as it had morphed from a peacekeeping mission into a manhunt for Aidid, the new national security team had failed to grasp the implications. The Mogadishu disaster spooked the Clinton administrationas well as the brass, and confirmed the Joint Chiefs in the view that SOF should never be entrusted with independent operations.

After Mogadishu, one Pentagon officer explained, there was "reluctance to even discuss pro-active measures associated with countering the terrorist threat through SOF operations. The Joint Staff was very happy for the administration to take a law enforcement view. They didn't want to put special ops troops on the ground. They hadn't wanted to go into Somalia to begin with. The Joint Staff was the biggest foot-dragger on all of this counterterrorism business."

Another officer added that Somalia heightened a wariness, in some cases outright disdain, for SOF in the senior ranks. On the Joint Staff, the generals ranged from those who "did not have a great deal of respect" for SOF, to those who actually "hated what it represented, . . . hated the independent thought process, . . . hated the fact that the SOF guys on the Joint Staff would challenge things, would question things."

During Desert Storm, for example, General Norman Schwarzkopf was reluctant to include SOF in his war plan. He did so only grudgingly, and kept SOF on a short leash, wrote the commander of all Special Operations Forces at the time, General Carl Stiner, in his book "Shadow Warriors." But SOF performed well in Desert Storm, and afterwards Schwarzkopf acknowledged their accomplishments. In 1993, Mogadishu turned back the clock.

4. No Legal Authority

August 1998 was a watershed for the White House. The embassy bombings led to the reexamination of preemptive military options. President Clinton proposed using elite SOF counterterrorism units to attack bin Laden, his lieutenants, and al Qaeda's infrastructure.

Also considered was unconventional warfare, a core SOF mission very different from counterterrorism. The Special Operations Command's "Special Operations in Peace and War" defines unconventional warfare as "military and paramilitary operations conducted by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, and directed by an external source." For the White House, this meant assisting movements like the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Both the Special Operations Command's counterterrorism units and Special Forces training for and executing unconventional warfare operate clandestinely. That is what their doctrine specifies. But because such operations are secret, the question arose in the 1990s whether the department had the legal authority to execute them.

This may seem baffling. If these missions are specified in the military doctrine of the Special Operations Command, and actual units train for them, isn't it obvious that the Department of Defense must have the authority to execute them? Perhaps, yet many in government emphatically deny it.

A gap exists, they believe, between DOD's capability for clandestine operations and its authority under the United States Code. In the 1990s, some Pentagon lawyers and some in the intelligence community argued that Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which covers the armed forces, did not give Defense the legal authority for such missions, Title 50, which spells out the legal strictures for covert operations, gave this power exclusively to the CIA.

Title 50 defines covert action as "an activity of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly." Covert action and deniability go hand-in-hand. If a story about a covert action hits the newspapers, the president must be able to avow that the United States is not mixed up in it.

But is it the case that only the CIA has this authority? Title 50, Chapter 15, Section 413b of the U.S. Code stipulates: "The President may not authorize the conduct of a covert action by departments, agencies, or entities of the United States Government unless the President determines such an action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States and is important to the national security of the United States, which determination shall be set forth in a finding that shall meet each of the following conditions." The key condition is: "Each finding shall specify each department, agency, or entity of the United States Government authorized to fund or otherwise participate in any significant way in such action." Title 50 leaves the choice of agency to the president and does not exclude the Pentagon.

At the heart of this debate, said a former senior Defense official, was "institutional culture and affiliation." The department took after all, their very purpose, laid out in the official document" Special Operations in Peace and War" 1996). To find the answer, I interviewed civilian and military officials, serving and retired, at the center of U.S. counterterrorism policy and operational planning in the late 1980s and 1990s.

The position that it lacked the authority because it did not want the authority--or the mission. He told me, "All of its instincts push it in that direction."

One senior member of the National Security Council's counterterrorism group recalled encountering this attitude during deliberations overcounterterrorism operations and clandestine support for the Northern Alliance. To the Joint Staff, neither was "in their minds a military mission. It was a covert action. The uniformed military was adamant that they would not do covert action." And, he added, if you presented them with "a legal opinion that says 'You're wrong,' then they would say, 'Well, we're not going to do it anyway. It's a matter of policy that we don't.'"

The authority argument was a "cop-out," said a retired officer who served in the Pentagon from 1994 to 2000. Sure enough, the Defense Department could have bypassed Title 50 by employing SOF on a clandestine basis. While both clandestine and covert missions are secret, only the latter require that the U.S. role not be "acknowledged publicly," which is Title 50's key requirement. Using SOF to preempt terrorists or support resistance movements clandestinely in peacetime is within the scope of Title 10, as long as the U.S. government does not deny involvement when the mission is over.

But this interpretation of Title 10 was considered beyond the pale in the 1990s. The Pentagon did not want the authority to strike terrorists secretly or to employ Special Forces against states that aided and sheltered them.

5. Risk Aversion

The mainstream military often dismisses special operations as too risky. To employ SOF requires open-minded political and military leadership willing to balance risks against potential gains. Supple judgment was in short supply in the Pentagon in the 1990s.

Walter Slocombe served as Clinton's undersecretary of defense for policy, and took part in all counterterrorism policy discussions in the Department of Defense. "We certainly looked at lots of options which involved the possible use of SOF," he stressed. But in the end they were never selected because they seemed too hard to pull off, he acknowledged. Options that put people on the ground to go after bin Laden were "much too hard." It was much easier and much less risky to fire off cruise missiles.

During Clinton's first term, someone would always find something wrong with a proposed operation, lamented General Downing. The attitude was: "Don't let these SOF guys go through the door because they're dangerous. . . . They are going to do something to embarrass the country." Downing recalls that during his years in command, he "sat through the preparation of maybe 20 operations where we had targeted people who had killed Americans. Terrorists who had done bad things to this country, and needed either to be killed or apprehended and brought back here, and we couldn't pull the trigger." It was too risky for the Pentagon's taste.

The other side of the risk-aversion coin is policymakers' demand for fail-safe options. A general who served in the Special Operations Command in the 1990s encountered "tremendous pressure to do something," he said, but at the same time, the requirement was for "perfect operations, no casualties, and no failure." There were some "great opportunities" to strike at al Qaeda, "you couldn't take any risk in doing so. You couldn't have a POW, you couldn't lose a man. You couldn't have anybody hurt." It was Catch-22. There were frequent "spin-ups" for SOF missions, but "in the end, the senior political and military leadership wouldn't let you go do it."

In the mid-1990s, and again at the end of the decade, the Clinton administration flirted with supporting the Iraqi resistance and then the Northern Alliance. An officer who served on the Joint Staff recounted how the senior military leadership put the kibosh on these potentially bold moves.

The CIA ran the Iraqi operation. But its unconventional warfare capabilities were paltry, and it turned to the military for help, requesting that SOF personnel be seconded to bolster the effort. The Joint Staff and its chairman wanted nothing to do with it, he said. "The guidance I got from the chairman's director of operations was that we weren't going to support this, and do everything you can to stall or keep it in the planning mode, don't let it get to the point where we're briefing this at the National Security Council or on the Hill."

Later, the National Security Council's counterterrorism group proposed supporting the Northern Alliance. They pushed the proposal up to the "principals" level. But attached to it was a "non-concurrence" by the Joint Staff, opposing it as too complex and risky. That was the kiss-of-death.

None of this was new to the Joint Staff officer, who had been in special operations for a long time. "Risk aversion emerges as senior officers move into higher positions," he explained. "It's a very common thing for these guys to become non-risk takers. They get caught up in interagency politics and the bureaucratic process, and get risk-averse."

A member of the counterterrorism group in the late 1990s noted that General Hugh Shelton, a former commander of the Special Operations Command, considered the use of SOF for counterterrorism less than anyone when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The official said Shelton directed the Joint Staff "not to plan certain operations, I'm sure you've heard this from others." In fact, I had. "It got to the point," he said, where "the uniforms had become the suits, they were more the bureaucrats than the civilians."

6. Pariah Cowboys

When events finally impelled the Clinton administration to take a hard look at offensive operations, the push to pursue them came from the civilians of the National Security Council's Counterterrorism and Security Group.

One of the hardest of the hard-liners was the group's chief, Dick Clarke. For nearly a decade, this career civil servant began and ended his workday with the burgeoning terrorist threat to America. He knew in detail the danger the bin Ladens of the world posed, and it worried him greatly. Defensive measures were just not enough. "Clarke's philosophy was to go get the terrorists," one former senior Pentagon special operations official told me, "Go get them anywhere you can."

Asked if that meant using SOF, he replied: "Oh yeah. In fact, many of the options were with special mission units." But "Dick Clarke was attempting to take on a Pentagon hierarchy that wasn't of the same philosophical mindset."

Clarke was not alone. Mike Sheehan also pushed for assisting the Northern Alliance and striking al Qaeda with SOF. Such measures worried the senior brass, who proceeded to weaken those officials by treating them as pariahs. That meant portraying them as cowboys, who proposed reckless military operations that would get American Soldiers killed.

Sheehan explained: Suppose one civilian starts beating the drum for special operations. The establishment "systematically starts to undermine you. They would say, 'He's a rogue, he's uncooperative, he's out of control, he's stupid, he makes bad choices.' It's very damaging. .. . You get to the point where you don't even raise issues like that. If someone did, like me or Clarke, we were labeled cowboys, way outside our area of competence."

Several officials who served on the Joint Staff and in the Pentagon's special operations office remembered the senior brass characterizing Clarke in such terms. "Anything Dick Clarke suggested, the Joint Staff was going to be negative about," said one. Some generals had been vitriolic, calling Clarke "a madman, out of control, power hungry, wanted to be a hero, all that kind of stuff." In fact, one of these former officials emphasized, "when we would carry back from the counterterrorism group one of those SOF counterterrorism proposals, our job was to figure out not how to execute it, but how we were going to say no."

By turning Clarke into a pariah, the Pentagon brass discredited precisely the options that might have spared us the tragedy of September 11, 2001. And when Clarke fought back at being branded "wild" and "irresponsible," they added "abrasive" and "intolerant" to the counts against him.

7. Intimidation of Civilians

Another way the brass stymied hard-line proposals from civilian policymakers was by highlighting their own military credentials and others' lack of them. One former defense official recounted a briefing on counterterrorism options given the secretary of defense by senior civilians and military officers. "The civilian, a political appointee with no military experience, says, 'As your policy adviser, let me tell you what you need to do militarily in this situation.' The chairman sits there, calmly listening. Then it's his turn. He begins by framing his sophisticated PowerPoint briefing in terms of the 'experience factor,' his own judgment, and those of four-star associates. The 'experience factor' infuses the presentation. Implicitly, it raises a question intended to discredit the civilian: 'What makes you qualified? What makes you think that your opinion is more important than mine when you don't have the experience I have?' 'Mr. Secretary,' concludes the chairman, 'this is my best military advice.'" In such situations, the official said, civilians were often dissuaded from taking on the generals.

Wayne Downing, the former special operations commander, had plenty of experience providing such briefings. "Occasionally you would get a civilian champion," he said, who would speak up enthusiastically in favor of the mission being presented. "And then the chairman or the vice chairman would say, 'I don't think this is a good idea. Our best military judgment is that you not do this.' That champion is not going any further."

During the 1990s, the "best military advice," when it came to counterterrorism, was always wary of the use of force. Both risk-aversion and a deep-seated distrust of SOF traceable all the way back to World War II informed the military counsel offered to top decision makers. Almost all those I consulted confirmed this, and many, including General Stiner, have described it in print.

When President Clinton began asking about special operations, one former senior official recounted, "those options were discussed, but never got anywhere. The Joint Staff would say, 'That's cowboy Hollywood stuff.' The president was intimidated because these guys come in with all those medals, [and] the White House took the 'stay away from SOF options' advice of the generals."

Another former official during both Clinton terms described several instances where "best military advice" blocked SOF options under White House review. "The Pentagon resisted using Special Forces. Clinton raised it several times with [Joint Chiefs chairmen] Shalikashvili and Shelton. They recommended against it, and never really came up with a do-able plan."

Occasionally, policymakers kept pushing. When support for the Northern Alliance was on the table after the embassy bombings in Africa, the senior military leadership "refused to consider it," a former counterterrorism group member told me. "They said it was an intelligence operation, not a military mission."

The counterterrorism group at the National Security Council pushed the proposal anyway, but the Joint Staff strongly demurred and would not support it. They argued that supporting the Northern Alliance would entangle the United States in a quagmire. That was the end of the line. Let's suppose, said the former counterterrorism group member, that the president had ordered a covert strike "despite the chairman going on record as opposing it. Now, if the president orders such an operation against the best military advice of his chief military adviser, and it gets screwed up, they will blame the president who has no military experience, who was allegedly a draft dodger." The Northern Alliance was left to wither on the vine.

8. Big Footprints

The original concept for SOF counterterrorism units was that they would be unconventional, small, flexible, adaptive, and stealthy, suited to discreet and discriminate use, say those "present at the creation" following the Desert One disaster. Force packages were to be streamlined for surgical operations. The "footprint" of any operation was to be small, even invisible.

By the 1990s, this had dropped by the wayside. One former official recalled that when strikes against al Qaeda cells were proposed, "the Joint Staff and the chairman would come back and say, 'We highly recommend against doing it. But if ordered to do it, this is how we would do it.' And usually it involved the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The footprint was ridiculous." In each instance the civilian policymakers backed off.

To some extent, SOF planners themselves have been guilty of this. "Mission-creep," one official called it. Since you can't "totally suppress an environment with 15 guys and three helicopters," force packages became "five or six hundred guys, AC-130 gunships, a 900-man quick-reaction force ready to assist if you get in trouble, and F-14s circling over the Persian Gulf." The policymakers were thinking small, surgical, and stealthy, so they'd take one "look at it and say that's too big."

One original Delta Force member traced this problem back to Desert One. "We took some bad lessons from that," he said. ". . . One was that we needed more. That maybe it would have been successful if we'd had more helicopters. That more is better. And now we add too many bells and whistles. We make our footprint too large. We price ourselves out of the market."

It's a way of dealing with the military's aversion to risk. "One way we tend to think we mitigate risk," he said, "is by adding more capabilities for this contingency and that contingency." Asked if this thinking had found its way into the Special Operations Command, he replied, "Yes. Absolutely."

9. No Actionable Intelligence

A top official in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the 1990s described the intelligence deficit with respect to targeting Osama bin Laden: "If you get intelligence, it's by definition very perishable. He moves all the time and he undoubtedly puts out false stories about where he's moving, "making it extremely difficult" to get somebody from anyplace outside of Afghanistan into Afghanistan in time. The biggest problem was always intelligence."

But if the target had been broadened to al Qaeda's infrastructure, the intelligence requirements would have been less demanding, noted Dick Clarke. "There was plenty of intelligence. We had incredibly good intelligence about where bin Laden's facilities were. While we might never have been able to say at any given moment where he was, we knew half a dozen places that he moved among. So there was ample opportunity to use Special Forces."

In effect, to turn the need for "actionable intelligence" into a showstopper, all you have to do is define the target narrowly. That makes the intelligence requirements nearly impossible to satisfy. Broaden the picture, and the challenge of actionable intelligence became more manageable.

Special Operators are actually the first to seek good intelligence. But according to an officer on the Joint Staff at the time, "no actions [were] taken to pre-position or deploy the kinds of people that could have addressed those intelligence shortfalls"--people who could have provided the operational-level intelligence needed for SOF to deploy rapidly against fleeting targets in the safe havens where terrorists nest.

What was essential for counterterrorism operations was to establish intelligence networks in places harboring targets. This "operational preparation of the battle space" is accomplished by infiltrating special operators who pass for locals. Their job includes recruiting indigenous elements who can help SOF units enter an area of interest, and organize, train, and equip local resistance and surrogate forces to assist them.

But no such preparation took place in the 1990s in terrorist havens like Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, and Sudan. Operating in those lands "would have taken official approval that prior to 9/11 would have never been given to us," one knowledgeable individual explained." Prior to 9/11 there was no willingness to put Department of Defense personnel in such places. No such request would have been authorized."

Why? Because it's dicey, was the bottom line for a former senior Clinton appointee at the Pentagon. Asked if there were proposals at his level for it, he said: "Not that I remember," adding, "I can understand why. It raises a lot of questions. Without saying you shouldn't do it, it is one of those things that is going to cause concern. . . . You're talking not just about recruiting individuals to be sent, but recruiting whole organizations, and you think about it in the context of Somalia. I'm sure that would have raised a lot of questions. I can see why people would have been reluctant."

DURING CLINTON'S SECOND TERM, then, the possibility of hunting down the terrorists did receive ample attention at the top echelons of government. But somewhere between inception and execution, the SOF options were always scuttled as too problematic.

War and tragedy have a way of breaking old attitudes. September 11, 2001, should have caused a sea change in SOF's role in fighting terrorism. To some extent, it has. Consider the stellar contribution of Special Operations Forces to the campaign in Afghanistan in 2001-02. In the early planning stages, SOF was only ancillary to the war plan; but by the end of October 2001, it had moved to center stage. It played a decisive role in toppling the Taliban and routing al Qaeda.

Since then, SOF have deployed to places like Yemen and the Philippines to train local militaries to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates. And last year, Secretary Rumsfeld ordered the Special Operations Command to trackdown and destroy al Qaeda around the globe. In effect, he ordered a global manhunt to prevent future 9/11s, including attacks with weapons of mass destruction.

In the war against terrorism, a global SOF campaign against al Qaeda is indispensable. Happily, our special counterterrorism units are tailor-made for this. And now that the United States is at war, it should be possible to overcome the showstoppers that blocked the "peacetime" use of those forces through the 1990s.

It should be--but will it? The answer is mixed. Some showstoppers have been neutralized. While law enforcement still has a role to play, we are clearly fighting a war, in which the Department of Defense and the armed forces take the lead. Thus, there should be far less latitude for turning advocates of tough counterterrorism missions into pariahs. September 11 and the president's response to it changed the terms of the policy discussion.

Yet the other showstoppers have not ceased to matter. Competing power centers continue to jockey for influence over counterterrorism policy. In a war in which the CIA may feel it has both a role to play and lost ground to regain, the Title 10/Title 50 debate and arguments over actionable intelligence are likely to persist. In our democratic society, fear of another Somalia remains. And the conventional military's mistrust of SOF has not evaporated.

Once again, a civilian is pushing for greater use of Special Operations Forces. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wants the Special Operations Command, for the first time in its history, to play the role of a "supported command," instead of supporting the geographic commands, as it has in the past. Neither those commands nor their friends on the Joint Staff are likely to welcome a reversal of the relationship in order to facilitate SOF missions. "Who's in command here?" could become a new wartime showstopper. Some in SOF believe it already has.

Once again, the problem involves institutions, organizational cultures, and entrenched ways of thinking. "Rumsfeld might think we're at war with terrorism," observed one former general, "but I'll bet he also thinks he is at war within the Pentagon....The real war's happening right there in his building. It's a war of the culture. He can't go to war because he can't get his organization up for it."

Donald Rumsfeld may believe that Special Operations Forces should be in the forefront of the global war on terrorism. But for that to happen, he will have to breach what remains of the phalanx of resistance that blocked the offensive use of special mission units for over a decade--and he'll have to overcome the new showstoppers as well.

For now, it appears that the most powerful defense secretary ever has failed in his attempt to do this. In a disquieting October 16, 2003, memo to the Pentagon elite in the war on terror--General Dick Meyers, Joint Chiefs chairman; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; General Pete Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Doug Feith, under secretary of defense for policy--Rumsfeld laments that progress has been slow and the Defense Department has not "yet made truly bold moves" infighting al Qaeda. And he wonders whether his department "is changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment."

It's a good question. As al Qaeda regroups and deploys to new battlefields in Iraq and elsewhere, our special mission units--the Delta boys, the SEALs, and the rest--remain on the shelf. It's time to take them off.

Richard H. Shultz Jr. is director of international security studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and director of research at the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence in Washington, D.C.

Shultz explains how a series of "show stoppers" prevented America's SOF units from pre-emptively striking at Al Queda before 9/11. While he lists compelling arguments that civilians at DoD are risk-averse, are intimidated by the service chiefs who want only to fight big wars against nation-states employing their blind obedience co-dependant minions and how everyone that wants to get the bad guys before they get us, are "torpedoed" by nit-picking legal arguments from Justice and Defense Department lawyers-----------he fails to lay any blame at all on America's SOF units for not significantly improving themselves tangibly so missions are not at such great risk of becoming another "Black Hawk Down!" fiasco where troops on foot and in unarmored, vulnerable wheeled trucks and helicopters in easy-to-shoot-down "Fulda Gap" dark green camouflage paint were clobbered by an enemy in superior numbers with local RPG firepower and urban building cover superiority. 11 years after Somalia, Army Rangers still don't use M113A3 Gavin light tracked AFVs that would have prevented the debacle entirely by their bust barricades and shrug off enemy fires mobility even though the Army has thousands of them and all they have to do is ASK FOR THEM. When its all said and done, victory is everyone's and defeat an unwanted "orphan" no one wants to talk about and learn lessons from. American SOF units are to blame for not employing light tracked armored fighting vehicles into permanent SOF unit organizations to provide local superiority on the ground after special insertion techniques are employed as other world SOF units like Israel and Russia do. American SOF units are overly dependant upon surprise via foot movement after special insertions and lack the humility to admit that after the shooting starts surprise is lost and PHYSICAL SUPERIORITY in firepower, protection and mobility must be in hand. Driven by egotistical hubris that covert SOF Soldiers are "better" than conventional, overt Soldiers American SOF units have dismissed out-of-hand employing light tracked AFVs into their mission profiles that would answer civilian fears of "another Somalia" type blood bath and improve chances for SOF mission success. Today's light tracked AFVs can be propelled silently by hybrid-electric drives and using quiet band tracks to be the most stealthy and cross-country unpredictable vehicles on earth after air/sea insertions yet American SOF because of their egotistical hubris and narrow-mindedness refuses to employ them to decisive advantage.

American SOF on occasion has successfully used light tracked AFVs in special missions on an ad hoc basis--namely when someone with clout like a General Officer (GO) likes Generals Wayne Downing and Carl Stiner put together a "panzer group" that was extremely effective in Panama urban combat. But after the success, American SOF because of ego doesn't want to admit that it needed tracked armored vehicles and to date has not incorporated them into permanent force structures for the next conflicts. So 4 years after, Panama Army Rangers did not have any tracked AFVs and the preventable Somalia debacle ensued.

The modern non-linear battlefield demands non-linear, tracked AFVs that can be inserted by air, land or sea. SOF units with a reputation for function over form have yet to overcome their own pecking order existentialist hubris to become all they need to be then wonder why Washington and the Pentagon are not eager to send them into risky, direct action missions against "high value" targets that will likely be HEAVILY DEFENDED(?) and require AFV SHOCK ACTION to overcome them, vehicles they don't have.

SOF Fishing Line Paradigm fails to catch the big fish: cast a bigger net using M113A4 Gavin light tracked AFVs

Currently American SOF works around the fundamental foot-mobility weakness of its direct action (DA) units instead of getting rid of their "glass jaw" which makes National Command Authorities reluctant to use them to get sub-national terrorist groups before they can do 9/11 attacks. American SOF will pool resources so when a DA unit is inserted it can be "reeled in" if it is discovered and "compromised" on the ground by the enemy usually by way of V/TOL helicopters. The emergency extraction of WO Ballwantz's team by helicopter and the British SAS Team Bravo Two-Zero's ordeal by foot evasion in Iraq during the first Gulf War after they were discovered, warns us that the non-linear battlefield requires self-sufficiency beyond what can be carried on a man's back. The forgotten lessons from the Vietnam war where entire battalions of North Vietnamese "head hunters" went after small American LRRPs and MACV-SOG units on foot, denying us intelligence dominance on the ground in the enemy's backyard must be heeded.

This "fishing pole" paradigm that DA units are on a fragile, radio communications dependant "umbilical cord" at all times limits the areas and number of targets that can be struck at the same time resulting in the "big fish"--terrorist leaders getting away. Asking for intelligence to pinpoint a high-value enemy target so only a single thrust can get the big fish is unrealistic and may simply never happen. Limiting ourselves to only DA vehicles that are wheeled restricts us on the ground where we can and cannot go; so again the asymmetric-advantage-seeking enemy can hide in no-go terrain for wheels and keeps SOF fragile to ANY enemy contact which will compromise the mission resulting in an abort-by-helicopter. High value enemy targets are likely to be heavily defended so superior overmatching armored mobility and shock action not possible by wheeled vehicles will be required to keep friendly casualties down and insure mission success.

We propose that instead, American SOF fixes its "glass jaw" on the ground to enable a wider "net" to be cast so multiple targets can be hit at the same time with multiple teams so we can get the fortunes of war favoring our boldness. To do this, we must have DA units that are mobile on the ground by hybrid-electric, band-tracked upgraded M113A4 Gavin amphibious, light tracked armored fighting vehicles (TAFVs) that can go cross-country at will with greater stealth than current diesel engined and road/trail-limited wheeled trucks. These Non-Linear Special Operations (NLSOF-TAFVs) or simply "Gavins" would have 600 mile range and armor protection so DA units on the ground can if need be, can FIGHT their way back to friendly bases and continue their operational maneuver/intelligence gathering deep inside enemy territory even if they brush up against enemy security forces. By carrying superior amounts of ammunition, water, food and electrical power, Gavin DA units could cut their fishing pole "umbilical cord" of helicopter insertion/extraction means and be parachute airdropped en masse simultaneously striking several named areas of interest (NAIs) with local, on-the-ground superiority. Just like the Rhodesian Fire Forces did so well--but better with light mechanized capabilities.

We have plenty of USAF C-130 turboprop STOL aircraft, parachutes, riggers and Airborne-operation qualified SOF personnel to insert multiple DA Gavin teams to throw down a large net and snare enemy terrorist leaders with surprise and superior violence of action by heavy vehicle-mounted weaponry in addition to the dismounted weaponry and firepower of rested SOF shooters. The model to study is the most successful POW rescue operation ever conducted: the WWII Los Banos prisoner of war camp raid that featured American Paratroopers swarming the camp guards and then reinforced by a link-up of amphibious tracked armored vehicles. Size does matter in DA missions against enemies hiding amongst difficult terrain and populations; and to get this size without becoming cumbersome and alerting the enemy, the QUALITY of the forces involved must be dramatically improved so overmatching capabilities are thrust at the enemy not just more-of-the-same foot-mobile shooters. After the multiple raids are done, the DA Gavin teams need not run away for immediate helicopter extraction but can stay inside enemy held territory using their vehicle's extreme stealth and supply carrying capability to keep "eye's on" the enemy as he regroups from the strikes. This information can then be exploited immediately by the Gavin DA team using organic weaponry or precision air strikes called in by long-range C4I means.

Using 10-11 ton M113A4 Gavin NLSOF-TAFVs does not prevent helicopter extractions since the CH-47D can sling-load them distance of around 50 miles. A DA Gavin Team of 4 x M113A4 NLSOF-TAFVs could secure a short section of road/highway and have 4 x C-130 Hercules aircraft exploit their STOL capabilities and pick them up to fly back to base. ESTOL capabilities by MC-130Js Combat Talon IIIs using tracked and/or air cushion landing gear and pantobase skis for water landings could expand mission options further. The Gavin DA SOF mission profile by enabling multiple forms of insertion/extraction gets SOF out of the predictable small foot-mobile team insertion/extraction methodology which is easily countered by the enemy.

The cost to upgrade M113 Gavins now in storage to M113A4 NLSOF-TAFV configuration is just 8,000.

PLAN A: NLSOF-TAFV capabilities

Supply M113A3/4 Gavin tracked AFVs to current Army Special Forces Groups to use in lieu of their HMMWV wheeled trucks for DA missions. Create a 18H MOS skill specialty of SF Heavy/Light Vehicle Sergeant.


Put the 173rd Airbone BDE's IRF-M (Airborne) from the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) personnel and M113A3 Gavins on parachute jump status. Ditto that for the IRC taken from the 3rd Infantry Division that supports the 82nd Airborne Division. No longer restricted to airland delivery of TAFVs, the IRF-M (A) and IRC (A)---fully "Air-Mech-Strike" (AMS) capable could then parachute force-entry simultaneously with their Paratroopers to provide vital shock action, fire support and armored mobility/maneuver.

Its also conceivable that if SOF is unwilling to employ the NLSOF-TAFV concept that the Airborne's defacto AMS Forces available to the 173rd and 82nd Airbornes could be sent deep into enemy territory as the modern equivalent of the still thriving "LGOPS" ethos; Little Groups Of Paratroopers operating as maneuver groups bringing destruction wherever they go. The pros are the Airborne already is half-way there to AMS capabilities with M113A3 Gavins; the IRF-M has combat experience, the cons are these folks are still constrained by being part of the unimaginative, stay-in-your-lane conventional Army and may not be bold and independent of spirit enough to be used as small AMS LGOPS to work alongside SOF to strike multiple sub-national enemy targets at the same time. Also, their M113A3 Gavins are still noisy and would need to be upgraded to HE drive M113A4 configuration to effect a covert operational maneuver while deep in enemy territory.


Washington Times writers, Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough write in their "Inside the Ring: Notes from the Pentagon" column about recent Afghanistan U.S. Army "Green Beret" lessons learned:

Some [U.S.] Army Special Forces Soldiers (the Green Berets) are saying that while their mission in Afghanistan has gone extremely well, some "lessons learned" must be addressed for future unconventional warfare.

But Soldiers say the operations revealed flaws. There is not enough training in direct fire. They also lack vehicles to move around in harsh terrain, such as Afghanistan's mountains and deserts.

We obtained one Green Beret's lessons-learned list:

[Special Operations Command] "stopped developing SOF-unique [unmanned aerial vehicles] a couple of years ago as a policy decision, a shortsighted and bad decision." Such a spy system, the Soldier said, would help Green Beret "A teams" of 12 troops see the enemy first and direct fire.

Green Berets need a special inventory of vehicles from which to draw depending on the terrain.

"Our guys need to be able to move," the Green Beret said. "Need pre-stocked 'tool kit' of ground transportation in every theater, and at home station for training, for the Kosovos, the Afghanistans, the whatever. Mix of Humvee platforms, Toyota 4-by-4s, whatever, with configurable armor, weapons, sensors, must be available fast. Cannot tell you how much mobility has become critical factor. Also need air transport independent of multi-million-dollar helos and fixed-wing."

The Vehicle

Unprotected U.S. Army SOF Soldiers have been killed by errant B-52 strikes improperly rendering Close Air Support (CAS) and enemy small-arms fire. While its true that USAF A-10s can fly in close proximity and with direct coordination with SOF units on the ground to get accurate CAS without fratricide, Senior USAF leaders hate the A-10 and play their "favorites" in a war to later brag on them to Congress to get increased budgets. So AFSOC or Army SF Aviation (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment-160th SOAR) should own some A-10s to insure CAS, but don't hold your breath. What Army SOF needs is a "ground spectre" gun platform for on-the-spot firepower and to transport them under armor protection, with maximum ground mobility and stealth---that can be delivered by round and ram-air parachutes and helicopters.

A M113A3 Gavin as-is or width-reduced (Lynx), could roll-on/off 160th SOAR MH-47E Chinook helicopters and be paradropped and airlanded by AFSOC MC-130 Combat Talons. The "Mini-Gavin" would be propelled by stealthy hybrid-electric drive (HE) and quiet, vibration-less band-tracks for maximum unpredictable, cross-country and amphibious movement.

An option would be to build the entire Gavin body of ceramic composites to make it less visible to ground surveillance radars. In the 1980s, FMC built two M113s and two M2s Bradleys. The ceramic could defeat .50 caliber heavy machine gun rounds at 50 feet while weighing that same as the thick, aluminum armored hull which can as-is defeat (7.62mm x 51mm AP) .30 caliber.

The HE drive large reserve battery capacity would power electro-optical sensors and laser target designators for long duration surveillance "eyes-on-target". The Mini-Gavin would be covered in thermal camouflage to be both optically and infared-sensor invisible. Armament packages would range from Javelin fire/forget ATGMs to hunt/kill SCUD-type ballistic missiles from long ranges deep behind enemy lines, to ASP-30mm autocannon and 7.62mm Gatling mini-guns, 106mm recoilless rifles to blast heavily defended enemy targets. Some Mini-Gavins could have 120mm mortars with 7 kilometer plus ranges, over-the-horizon targeting provided by quiet Pointer electric, hand-launch UAVs providing infared day/night TV imagery. Guided 120mm mortar bombs are also available to take out key targets with fewer rounds of ammunition.

Having Mini-Gavins organic to the SF A-Team insures tracked armored vehicles to bust through possible enemy fire, obstacles will not be denied special operations during direct action missions against high-value, defended targets like what ruined the Ranger/Delta helicopter air assault operation to catch Somali warlords in 1993 ("Blackhawk Down!").

The Course

Proxy forces advised by Army SOF that use tracked armored fighting vehicles like the Afghan Northern Alliance need the best mounted warfare (tracked, wheeled vehicles, horses, mules, bikes, carts) advice possible; SOF must create a Mounted Operations Course to teach and pass on these skills to its Soldiers to effect Coalition and/or Unconventional Warfare.

The Military Skill Identifier

Graduates of the SOF Mounted Operations Course would maintain and operate the various ground vehicle force packages as needed in training and real-world missions. Those with 18A, 180A, B, C, D, E and F MOSes would receive an Additional Skill Identifier (ASI). But what is crucial is that a new SF Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) "Special Forces Mounted Operations Sergeant" 18H be created to expand the A-Team to include a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who would be responsible for mounted operations of the team.

The Stealth Transport Aircraft (MCX)

Lastly, there is much expressed Army SF dissatisfaction with the availability of complex rotary and fixed-wing aircraft provided by separate units subject to politics if they deploy or not (playing political favorites again). At one time, Army SOF had an air component with robust UV-18 TwinOtter STOL fixed-wing, twin-turboprop engined aircraft. A Twin Otter can be armed and drop Paratroopers. A Twin Otter was flown into Desert One in Iran to mark the landing strip with infared lights for the larger USAF C-130s to later land on. The existing C-12 turboprop transport plane could be modified to be an attack/STOL transport for SOF. Its reasonable to assume a creative designer like Burt Rutan could create a stealthy extremely short take-off and landing aircraft with long ranges using the Burnelli MCBY-100 fuselage aerofoil design that can deliver a SOF half an A-Team and their Mini-Gavin to anyplace in the world. Legendary X-1 pilot and Burnelli design advocate Chalmers Goodlin was recently on CNN's Lou Dobb's Moneyline TV program detailing the need for crash-worthy aircraft. For the SOF mini-Gavin mission, we'd change the MCBY-100's turboprops to turbofans mounted over the wings to get 400+ mph speeds and exploit the Coanda effect to get extremely short take-offs and landings like used on the YC-14 and Russian AN-72 and AN-74 STOL transports. The civilian airliner Burnelli design with this arrangement is called the GB-108. Replacing vulnerable and high ground pressure air-filled rubber tires with Tracked landing gear would allow landings on grassy fields and rural areas--a near V/TOL capability that General Gavin advocated in his book, Airborne Warfare. The MCBY-100 as a STOL transport could airdrop or short field airland with tracked landing gear an Army mini or full-sized M113A3 Hybrid-Electric "stealth" armored vehicle and a 12-man Special Forces "A" team. Also, Army Aviation has suffered when it lost the CV-2 Caribou which though a superb conventional STOL design of course is inferior to the MCBY-100.. The USAF demanded they be given the Army's Caribous and flew them for a short time into Vietnam's short base camp runways, but as soon as no one was looking, retired the Caribous!, leaving the Army without a fixed-wing transport aircraft to supply its forward bases!

A "stealthy"...."MCBY-2000" made of non-metallics could be the ideal way for Army SF to self-insert/extract much faster than their 100 mph helicopters at greater ranges and without the unsafe hazards of the V-22 abomination...The Burnelli design is fully crash-resistant, an important design criteria for a combat aircraft and tragically, a non-existant priority in civilian air travel where profits matter more than human lives which has resulted in thousands of needless deaths.

A less visionary approach would be to use a CASA 212 or C-27J Spartan twin-engined STOL aircraft could be upgraded to meet SOF needs to air-deliver them and their Mini-Gavins. Flying these small, austere stealth transport aircraft would be a 160th SOAR pilot/co-pilot bearing the new SF MOS of 18J. The now 15-man A-Team can self-deploy itself anywhere in the world by either air or ground organic vehicles. Another 18J task would be the operation of UAVs/U/MCAVs when on the ground and not conducting air operations with their stealth transport aircraft.

Another Airborne/Special Operations application would to form a separate transportation M113A3 Gavin Battalion that would be tasked to high-altitude stand-off, precision parachute themselves and their vehicles from above 15,000 feet and most enemy air defenses; a defacto return of the "stealthy" ASSAULT GLIDER. The stand-off airdrop of armored vehicles is the creation of creative RAND researcher Peter Wilson.

Ocean-Going Amphibious Gavins: the shocker.

1. In 1983, the Mc could have rejected buying LAV-1 rubber-tired death traps and obtained 10.5 ton M113A2s from the Army or the manufacturer at a very low cost to create its own "Cavalry" type force that can fight as well as gain reconnaissance.

The M113s could swim ashore a short distance from their landing craft like LSTs, LCUs, LCACs as several world armies do: Israel, Italy, Brazil and Australia (see photos above from East Timor). By being aluminum alloy armor they do not rust like steel. This is how LAV-1s get ashore since they are not surf-zone swim capable, the difference is that the light tracked M113s would not get stuck in the loose sand like the LAV-1s often do.

And by being lighter than the 14-ton LAV-1 thin-skinned deathtraps, the Mc could have also sling-loaded better-protected and armed M113s ashore by CH-53D/E helicopters, as well as by C-130 fixed-wing aircraft from shore bases.

2. Then, using the monies saved from not buying new armored cars that are steel and rust from getting wet with salt water and are now falling apart, they could have upgraded their M113s to "A3" standards with RPG-resistant applique' on the outside, and a superior weapons turret, 25mm autocannon, TOW/Hellfire ATGMs, 81-120mm mortars, even a 90mm assault gun etc. Certainly a force more formidable than the wimpy LAV armored cars they have now.

3. Then with just a little R&D money a kit could have been developed to make the M113 surf-zone capable via a new nose section and it could swim itself to shore from 4-5 miles out, easing the need/workload of LCAC/LCU landing craft while still remaining HELICOPTER TRANSPORTABLE.

Italian Surf-Zone Capable M113 Kit

An Italian M113A2 conversion by the Italian company ARIS, developed as a cheap alternative for the more expensive amphibious AFV's like the LVTP-7 or AAAV. Besides the floatation kit and water jet propulsion system the M113 is unchanged and it can still transport the normal 11 men. Only 2 prototypes existed by July 1998 and they were used for trials & demonstrations.

In contrast, the huge, bloated 30+ ton AAAV (EFV) will NEVER be helicopter transportable, and will be extremely expensive to buy and possible impossible to maintain its complicated retractable tracks to do its 30-knot swim speeds....a feature of doubtful utility if sea mines are not cleared.

A Vietnam combat veteran and retired Lieutenant Colonel writes:

"I think any comparison of the FCS/AAAV to an AmphiGavin must revolve around several factors:

1. Cost per vehicle: an AmphiGavin company would cost less than one AAAV, I'm sure. Probably buy 2 companies worth. The FCS won't be here for a while, so I don't even count on it.

2. Vehicle utility once ashore: The USMC won't risk high-value vehicles in the brush going after bad guys [Nelson platform loss combat avoidance paradigm] . A 4-vehicle AmphiGavin platoon could have 2 x 40mm HVGLs and 2 x .50s at the commander positions, and go Vietnam ACAV-style with a pair of M240Bs [7.62mm MMGs] off the rear corners of each top hatch, behind gun shields. The same marine platoon would have to be carried in a pair of AAAVs, with much more limited firepower. Let's not mention 120mm mortars, TOWs, 106mm Recoilless Rifles, Javelins, mini-guns, Engineers, etc., which can all be (or already are) standard for M113 series vehicles. The armored MEDEVAC vehicle is also M113-based.

3. Size: To quote from the Godzilla 2000 movie trailer, "size does matter", but in this instance, the smaller size is more useful. Smaller target, more firepower, less noise, LESS REPLACEMENT COST, able to travel in tighter areas.

4. Mobility: A marine CH-53E could lift an AmphiGavin and two squads into a blocking position quickly, even from an assault ship deck. Mobility, firepower, ammo; a real 3D move for the marines, even if it's only a few klicks from the shore.

5. Maintenance: Much simplified over an AAAV (EFV).

But the real question the NAVY must answer is: Why won't you get close to shore? The marines (and potentially, the Army) end up with the smelly end of the stick because the NAVY can't get close to shore with their poorly armed/armored "cruisers" to support a contested landing. A bozo on shore with a three-barrel 23mm ADA gun in an untouched bunker would eat a Tico CG alive in 20 seconds. Some jokers with a 107mm 12-pack launcher, fed data from an FDC, would make life exciting for the Navy very quickly.

Imagine that a dozen 23mm guns and 20 rocket launchers aren't neutralized by USAF and Navy/marine Air. The AAAVs lumber ashore and get chewed by half the guns. 4 x LCACs get smacked by a dozen launchers. If the Navy has to put a big ship close to shore, several reserve guns and rocket launchers wait for it to get close, then hit it. Not a good scenario for a Service that doesn't like to get ship's paint marred.

The AAAV keeps the Navy out of harm's way and supports lofty "Operational Maneuver From The Sea" and "Over-The-Horizon" assaults. The whirring sound in the basement crypt of the USNA Chapel is John Paul Jones spinning. A whole lot of people in the Pentagon better pray I never get elected President; property values in the DC area will take a decided drop".

An Army transportation official writes about how AmphiGavins could be used to speed Logistics Over The Shore (LOTS) operations from the Army's Prepositioned Set (APS-3) TAKR Large Medium Speed Roll-on/roll-off sealift Ships loaded with a heavy brigade set of vehicles--M1s, M2s, M113A3s....if the latter were upgraded to be able to swim themselves ashore...

M113 Gavin rolls off side TAKR RO/RO ramp
Stern ramp used to off-load M113 Gavins
M113 lifted onboard top deck by crane
Mighty M113 Gavins roll-off a sealift ship-delivered powered lighter onto the beach

"It is a concept that should be explored as a near-term improvement to throughput during a LOTS operation. Remember, the LMSR has three ramps during LOTS operations. With a little judicious ship loading, two of the ramps can be used for cargo that requires lighterage (tanks, wheels & trailers) and the third for APCs that have learned to swim. Bottom line is that this would reduce the lighterage requirement for small tracks and place more combat power in the hands of the commander faster."

Additionally, the light M113A3 Amphibious Gavin could be FLOWN OVER THE SEA MINES by both Army and Mc helicopters from sealift ships. THAT is "Over-The-Horizon" assault.

So the M113A3 AmphiGavin should replace LAVs, AAV-7s and AAAVs in the marine corps, the latter program cancelled. M113A3s stored in Army APA sealift ships should be upgraded to AmphiGavins, with users provided upgrades to their M113A3s to train on. The amphibious capability could also be applied to M113A3/IAV IBCTs.

If the harbor is shallow, like in Somalia and Albania, its hard to put anything ashore by sea landing craft and the ships draw too much water to. In some areas there will be no ports at all. If you have just a few hostiles with guns, like the Haiti embarrassment, M113 AmphiGavins could be lowered over the side run them off.

During the Sava River crossing a few years back a mighty 2D heavy armor brigade was stuck in Hungary for several days as engineers tried to bridge a river, in peacetime. Let's not forget operation MARKET GARDEN, where the paras where chewed up because the Germans blew up a bridge ("A Bridge Too Far") and stalled a non-amphibious tank army. With AmphiGavins, the Combat Engineers can swim across ANY body of water, secure the far side and rapidly emplace any bridging needed to get the heavy 2D forces across. The operational mobility of an M113A3 AmphiGavin force could be decisive as PT-76 light tanks were in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War. Captain Adam Geibel writes about this in the May/June 2001 issue of U.S. Army ARMOR magazine:

PT-76 Light Tank in the Indo-Pakistani Wars: the amphibious armor advantage

Today, we could put a 20-90mm gun stabilized turret system on the M113A3 AmphiGavin and have an even better capability than the PT-76! ...from the ocean.....too....restoring the bunker-busting capability we lost when the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV) was retired and not replaced. There are already on board Army APS-3 sealift ships over 100 x M113A3s that could be upgraded to be AmphiGavins that could also be operated by a designated Tracked Assault Battalion as proposed by LTC Mike Robel.

Another thing M113 AmphiGavins could do is water insertions from fixed-wing C-130 seaplanes, flying low over the water, under-the-horizon to evade enemy radar detection exploiting the curvature of the earth..

This would be easy from C-130 floatplanes since they could slow to a taxi in the water to allow the AmphiGavins to drive off the back ramp (extended to touch the water with floats) into the water. Imagine a flight of 48 C-130s dumping 48 M113s into the Tigris River outside Baghdad---an entire Infantry Battalion (44) plus a 120mm turreted mortar platoon for heavy fire support. A perfect cavalry or combat engineer force to secure terrain ahead for a 2D overland advance.

The M113A3 is the standard Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV) of the U.S. Army's heavy divisions but should be organic to ALL of it Light, Airborne and Air Assault Divisions.

Light Mechanized Sapper Company (Airborne) power point presentation

M113A3 Gavin ESV with MICLIC rocket-mice-clearing charge tracked trailer

M113A3 with trailer deploying robotic mine flail tracked vehicle

Strykers don't swim: Amphibious M113 Gavins would have prevented 3 Soldiers dying

Soldiers in boat were trying to stop Iraqis firing at them from small sand bars in river. Their wheeled Strykers don't swim. They used a boat, it capsized, killing a Soldier. Then dispatched a scout helicopter to find him, it crashes and/or gets shot down and we lose two more Soldiers.

In contrast, M113 Gavins are amphibious, and could have been used to attack the Iraqis in the river. We did this in Vietnam. But we are too fascinated with computer screens inside Strykers doing mental gymnastics to PHYSICALLY swim armored vehicles to attack a cunning and adaptive enemy. We have the M113 Gavins, but do we have the will to use them? - News - Reward Offered For Recovery Of Missing Stryker Brigade Soldiers

POSTED: 6:01 AM PST February 9, 2004

TACOMA, Wash. -- The Army is offering rewards for information leading to the recovery of two Soldiers missing in the Tigris River, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported. The Stryker brigade from Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, will advertise on Iraqi television and radio, in newspapers and in leaflets for help in finding Staff Sgt. Christopher Bunda and 1st Lt. Adam G. Mooney, missing since Jan. 25, the newspaper reported Sunday. The paper has an embedded reporter in Mosul, Iraq, with the brigade, the first to be deployed with the Army's new Stryker combat vehicles.

The reward offer, prepared by an Army psychological operations team, includes up to ,000 for information leading to recovery of either Soldier's body and up to 0 for tips leading to recovery of their gear." The families of these Soldiers will be grateful for your help in their return," the messages say. Bunda, 29, of Bremerton, a squad leader, fell into the Tigris when an Iraqi police boat capsized. At least two Iraqi police officers also are missing and presumed dead. Mooney, 28, of Cambridge, Md., a helicopter pilot, and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick D. Dorff, 32, of suburban Minneapolis, disappeared hours later when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior crashed into the river during the search for Bunda. Both were from the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Drum, N.Y. Navy divers recovered Dorff's body Jan. 29 in the crash area. His comrades at the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, in Qayyarah were planning a memorial service Monday.

Airborne! From the Sea! By Container! ISO Sea/Air/Land Container Ship delivery of M113 Gavin Light Tracked Armored Fighting Vehicles (TAFVs)

AJ Wagner in writes:

Commando Container Ship Conversion

February 4, 2004: The U.S. Navy, spurred on by Special Operations Command, is studying the idea of modifying a container ship for use as a "sea-basing" platform for Special Forces units. Twice in the past ten years, Haiti in 1996 and Afghanistan in 2001, the Navy has stripped an aircraft carrier of most of its air wing and replaced it with Army or Special Operations helicopters. While this tactic shows a tremendous flexibility for the traditionally rigid Navy, in many ways, it squanders a valuable and limited asset: the Navy's carriers and their busy crews.The proposed solution is to buy, or more likely lease, a container ship and paint it gray. The hull would be fitted out as crew quarters, (similar to those used by oil platform crews) for up to 800 special operators and 200 support troops. A command post, medical and recreation facilities, a hardened armory for Soldiers' weapons, ammunition and explosives, and so forth, would all be built into standard modular containers. Because the ships' power generating capacity was originally designed to support the high demand of refrigerated cargo, they should have no trouble providing ample power in their new role. In its new configuration, the deck would be covered with one level of modular containers that would bolt together to serve as a helicopter hangar and flight deck with two elevators. It would be able to simultaneously launch a dozen MC-47E Chinook-sized helicopters and carry 1 million gallons of aviation fuel. Options include V-22 Osprey variants, Harrier or STOVL F-35 fighters, and up to half a dozen 40-foot rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB). The concept has several great advantages over traditional approaches. Commercial vessels, even ones the size of aircraft carriers, typically require crews that number in the dozens, rather than thousands. A large container ship could be operated by as few as 20 Sailors, compared to 1,100 on an LHD or 3,200 on a Nimitz-class carrier. It would also be easier to upgrade, as the modules could be removed and replaced independently. The plan is for the Military Sealift Command to own and operate these ships with civilian crews. If the concept works, the Navy might keep one or two configured at all times and have a reserve of containers on land for MSC-owned ships leased to commercial users. This flexible concept opens up a range of other missions for such containerized cargo carriers, including replacing the current aging underway replenishment fleet, the Navy's two hospital ships, and the Afloat Pre-positioning Ships parked at various locations around the world. Five vessels of this type can be acquired at the cost of one LPD-17 and they can be available, converted, from the Maersk shipping company within one year of the decision to go ahead.

We have "re-discovered the "Arapaho" concept already used by the British in combat in the Falklands in 1982.

The M113 Gavin is 98" wide at its tracks; its needs at least 8 feet 6 inches (102" total) to give 2 inches of play on the left and right when driving into the container. You can't go by just track width though, that's the catch with containers. You have to take the complete 106" wide body into account, including add-ons like antenna mounts in particular. This is an exciting concept if the right containers can be acquired, especially if that container can be compatible with PLS trucks. The concept is far reaching. Could be M113 Gavin, could be British SEP/FRES, could be FCLV. Why in this day and age would you procure a vehicle that doesn't get inside ISO containers? What about using a logistics system that was container based as well? One set of containers carry the vehicle. The others have all the fuel, another the ammo, workshops, etc. Appliquй armor sets can be unbolted for transit and re-attached on deployment.

A Container based Army! The UK already has a container-based field hospital.

20' containers, below 11,000 kg can be underslung from a CH-47D/UK Mk 3.

Basically, if you are in the Rapid deployment business, there's no point in being anything other than an ISO Army.

In a nutshell, yes, that is exactly the idea. The real strength of the containerization idea is that the containers can be sealed and could, in theory, protect anything inside from the elements. This might even resolve many of the problems associated with prepositioning of vehicles and systems because you can control the environment in the container. Throw in the transport flexibility and this could be an outstanding idea. Even if the right containers don't exist today, they aren't expensive at all to design and build. This has got some serious potential in a variety of ways.

For the record, the U.S. Army is currently in the process of achieving a true ISO compatibility in its logistics systems. One of the key design criteria of the Future Tactical Truck System is operability with ISO standard containers of 20 feet in length. Unfortunately, the rest of FTTS (and the Smart Distribution program) is pretty much complete crap but they are at least beginning to recognize the need. On the strategic side of logistics, we've been using ISO containers for years but this has mainly been for secured storage in garrison locations and for moving bulk goods. The Army calls them a "CONEX" but these are actually ISO shipping containers. Like they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. CONEX dates back to the mid '60's. This is certainly nothing new or original in this. It's just adopting the mindset that makes it work. The horse will drink. You just got to hold it's head under!! What is new is the transportation side of the equation, particularly at the tactical level. As you note, we've had the containers literally for decades but only now are the log folks seriously considering using them as part of a transport system with the FTTS. Even with the PLS system, compatibility with ISO containers was a complete afterthought, they made an adapter for the PLS to handle ISO containers after the fact - they made the flatracks capable of fitting inside the container but didn't bother allowing the PLS to carry the container without using a separate add-on. Quite frankly, we think if we held this particular horse's head under water, we'd be giving it an enema by default.

Most sources list the Gavin as being just under 106" wide across its body. Can still fit into a container, but it limits the applique' armor on options. Length may be an issue with some models as would the height. Again, doesn't rule out the concept but you're going to need a high cube container, preferably in the 9 ft. width and ideally with a length of about 24' or else you're going to have too many headaches with loading and unloading. The main thing is to be sure to account of the various add-ons you want on the vehicle, like cupolas, armor upgrades, and such when taking the measurements. Scott Miller says he'd still rather see the Army just head straight to the Skycat 1000 LTA airship like CPT John Wilson proposes and be done with it. You could damned near fit an entire battalion in a single load and it can operate from any open area - load them up on the post parade field and deliver to just outside the AO wherever on the planet that may be. The container idea does have merit though, especially if you can come up with a container to carry the Gavin that is compatible with the existing PLS vehicles - then you can pack up the vehicles at home station and carry out the entire deployment without vehicle operators, not to mention that a single PLS truck with trailer could carry two. Definitely worth looking into.

We also wonder what it would take to stuff a helicopter into something like this? Helicopters as you know are plastic shrink-wrapped etc. and LO/LOed by cranes gingerly onto the deck. If we had ISO-type containers for the CH-47D/F, the UH-60 and the OH-58D or A/MH-6 we'd be in business! The ISO container if sealed would better protect the helicopter which wouldn't need to be shrink-wrapped, and could be rapidly moved by TRUCKS to the SPOD. This goes to the issue of the availability of ro-ro ships with cranes to lo-lo. As stated, the helicopters are placed in plastic cocoons and lo-lo-ed aboard the ro-ro's. If ro-ro's aren't available, then containers become a worthwhile consideration. A container is slightly smaller than the cargo compartment of a C-130.

We usually count 18' long, 12' wide and 12' tall as the external measurements for an ideal M113. It may be closer to 13' wide now that I've reassessed the width of appliquй and the side-mounted RRs. This is a better size to shoot for than hoping all M113s will be 9' wide (no spaced appliquй then! that's for sure!).

A complete force that could be effectively containerized would be very deployable on a cost effective basis. 120" is more than enough....the M113 Gavin is only 98" at the tracks...If you made the M113A4 into a Hybrid-Electric drive you could easily drive via electric motor power in/out of sealift ship containers slightly wider than 8 foot (96 inches) ISO standards without fear of engine exhaust suffocation dangers. The photo below shows two wide stackable sealift containers that each could hold 1 x M113A4 Gavin!

ISOs for M113 Gavins

European domestic containers:

Many domestic European container operators use 2.5-meter wide containers. This is to accomodate slightly larger European pallets. Although these containers sometimes have an ISO-assigned size code, they are not considered a world standard size. Some containers also have special lengths...7.15 meters (23.5 feet), 7.45 meters (24.4 feet) and 13.60 meters (44.6 feet) are common.

ALNU 7452706; registered owner is ECR Gordijn Containers BV. This is a 7.45m long ISO type D5G1 container. Note the stacking posts at 20' to allow it to stack with standard 20' ISO containers. This is also a high-cube container (9'-6" tall). (Photo by Cor Rood)

AXIS 13.60x2.5x2.5m container. ISO class KDG1. (Photo by A. Lindner)

Some CDH bulk containers used for carrying cocoa beans in Europe. They look like they're 20' long, but the ISO code of 7280 suggest that they're longer. Cor Rood indicates that they are 8'-6" wide. (Photo by Cor Rood)

Top view of these CDH containers - note how the ISO corner castings are inset to allow the containers to be lifted with standardized cranes. (Photo by Cor Rood)

A Containerships European-spec 45' container. This is built to slightly-different dimensional specifications than standard ISO 45' containers. (Containerships photos courtesy of Juha Leskinen)

A Containerships 20' container that is 8'-6" wide.

A Containerships 20' container that is 9'-0" wide.

European Freight Services open-sided container, probably 13.60m long. (Photo by Michael McGowen)

Here's a couple Groupo Leche Pascual containers of ISO type 4MG3 (40' long, >2.5m wide, 9'-0" tall). GLPU 401009, GLPU 4020765, GLPU 4030104. (Photos by Cor Rood)

Danzas container, probably 13.60m long. It almost looks like the sides are removable. (Photo by Michael McGowen)

DHL 45' European domestic container. (Photo by Michael McGowen)

A European Containers 13.60m corrugated-side dry van container. This container is 13.60 meters long and 2.50 meters wide, which makes it slightly smaller than an American 45' domestic container. (Photo by Cor Rood)

NEW! IBTU 1310197. ISO code AMT5. This is a 7.15m extra-wide (>2.5m) tank container operated by IBT. (Photo by Ari Elenius)

IMTU 7001957. ISO code 4CG1. From a distance it looks like a typical 40' standard ISO container but this one is 2.5m wide. Here's a close-up of the end doors. (Photos by A. Lindner)

JSV "curtain-side" containers. These are probably longer than 20'. They are definitely high-cubes. (Photo by Cor Rood)

MMSU 100015. Owned by Mosca Maritima of Spain. This is a 40' long, 2.5m wide, 9'-6" tall container. (Photo by Cor Rood)

Nizzi tarped half-height flat rack. I can't determine the dimensions of this container. (Photo by A. Lindner)

NPWU 4000340. Owned by Navieras Pinillos of Spain. Another 40' long, 2.5m wide, 9'-6" tall container. ISO code is 4EG0. (Photo by Cor Rood)

FMBU 0011150 - operated by P&O Ferrymasters. A 13.60m European domestic container. (Photo by Michael McGowen)

Two P&O Ferrymasters European domestic containers. FMBU 0010852 is a 13.60m container similar to the ISO 45' boxes. FMBU 4000209 looks like a 40' long container but is probably 2.50m wide. (Photos by Cor Rood)

RDLU 9610403. Owned by Rodella Transport. This is an ISO type ADTS, indicating it is 7.15m long - about 23'-5 1/2". (Photo by Michael McGowen)

RNFU 4-7150495. Owned by RENFE (Spanish Railway). 40' long, 2.5m wide, 9'-6" tall. ISO code is 4410-2. (Photo by Cor Rood)

Here are some United Container Systems 7.15m "curtain-side" containers: UXXU______, UXXU 6000346, UXXU 6000515. These are 2.55m wide to carry European pallets. Photos courtesy of Carsten Seier.

More UXXU swap bodies from Europe. These are 7.45m long, 2.55m wide, and between 2.60 and 3.15m tall. Note the roll-up doors. Photos: UXXU 6217835, UXXU 6216799. (Photos by Carsten Seier)

Standard ISO - SeaCell Specifications - 20ft

Complete intermodal capability SeaCell is fully intermodal, suitable for use on deep-sea as well as short-sea vessels and for overland. Unlike most other overwidth, palletwide containers, the SeaCell is designed for both worldwide and regional applications. It can be seamlessly integrated into any existing operation without the need for additional investment in handling and intermodal transport equipment. SeaCell can be stowed with all types of ISO container, lifted by existing container spreaders and carried on standard road vehicles and rail wagons.

802 Industrial Highway
East Riverton, NJ 08077
Tel. (856) 303-1101
Fax. (856) 303-1501

499 Hollywood Ave.
South Plainfield, NJ 07080

On a very tight budget we have surpassed the U.S. Army's large roll-on and off sealift ships that need lots of drivers to drive them off onto a pierside! With M113 Gavins inside a sea-air-land container, cranes could rapidly load/off-load the mighty M113 Gavin force without needing a driver for each vehicle, dramatically speeding pierside off-load. Though the U.S. Army doesn't realize and appreciate that they have the world's greatest AFV of all time, ever--the M113 Gavin in their ranks, someday soon real-world pressures will force objective professionals to exploit the M113 Gavin to its full potential.

An Army sealift expert writes:

"The use of ro-ro ships, especially some of the older ones that lack the ramp capacity for a heavy force and have a slightly shallower draft, would offer competitive bang for the buck. I'm a bit confused about how these containers would be discharged from the container ships and un-stuffed, and I'm equally confused about how this would result in a savings of time. Yes, I'm aware of the existing crane ships. Several are berthed in Newport News. Disharging containers in-stream to RRDF complicates breakbulk operations.

Dishcharging containers pierside makes good sense, but implies adequate draft alongside the pier, the usual problem in such operations. Like I say, I don't understand the concept of operations. American President Lines (APL) has done the most comprehensive work with containerization, but their concept of operations was that the containers would be used in a re-supply operation, where discharge times are not a consideration.

The beauty of an M113-equipped force is the relative lack of weight. Bradleys weigh around 30 Short Tons (2,000 pounds) and the Abrams weighs twice that amount. Weight means increased draft in sealift operations. The draft of a Fast Sealift Ship increases one inch for @173 Short Tons (This varies depending on the type of FSS) loaded. The older ro-ro's have immersion rates over 100 short tons per inch. The largest sub-class of Large, Medium Speed Roll-On / Roll-Off vessel gets 368 STON per inch of immersion. And the M113 Gavin force if fitted with waterjets can swim itself ashore without need of a pier at all! Perhaps the real solution to the problem of Army deployment is reinventing a family of vessels for the LOTS mission, so that we have a broad-based capabilities set.

Like I said, I didn't understand the concept. APL has done the most work with military containerization. The stuff that they do with laying out container yards and accounting for the "boxes" is worth checking in to."

1st TSG (A): The containership M1123 Gavin idea is primarily for the British Army who don't have access to RO/RO ships.

We are just showing another aspect of the light tracked AFV to get the Army to wake up to the full potential of its M113 Gavins.

SHINSEKIITE FRAUD, WASTE & ABUSE: "Cracks" in the U.S. Army's MENTALITY results in the FULL capabilities of the M113 Gavin Family unfulfilled

A crack in something is generally a cleavage in the surface structure, a void into which things may fall. Cracks are not generally thought of as good things, because stepping on one might break your mother's back. That refers to a particularly vicious nursery rhyme, but come to think of it, almost all nursery rhymes seem to involve some sort of social mayhem, from falling off walls to stealing oatmeal to devouring small female pedestrian's grandmothers. But I digress .

The M113 Gavin has fallen through a "crack" in the Army's management structure because its so damn effective it doesn't need constant pampering and "fixes" as other allegedly more "advanced" systems require. Actually, it has fallen through several, no, many cracks. Some of these cracks developed as rotating Army Chiefs of Staffs (CSAs) departed and arrived, each with their "sweeping", "new" acquisition strategy (as in Army of Excellence, Army 2000, Division XXI, Army After Next, Digitization, Force XXI, and Transformation). As a distinctly "not-new" item, the M113 Gavin has not been a part of any of the CSA's initiatives where spending lots of money for less capability is a major priority. The 10.5 ton tracked M113 Gavin is still going to be in the motor pool for the next 28 years and is one of the few Army vehicles that is actually C-130 air-transportable (the "new" 19-21 ton LAV-III/Stryker armored car is too heavy), can be parachute airdropped, swims, be lifted by helicopters and made fully autocannon and RPG protected with its own lethal autocannon/missile turret but the "visionary" CSAs didn't see the wisdom to spend any actual money on it to get NEW CAPABILITIES as part of their initiatives. Even today, with the light tracked M113A3 Gavin besting the expensive LAV-III/Stryker medium-heavy armored car newcomer in comparison mobility tests, the Generals would rather waste money than switch to the more capable Gavin to make the new Brigade combat teams more capable....they can't admit a mistake even if its in the best interest of their pet "transformation visions". Let's call this the initiative crack.

As more expensive systems were developed, they were categorized as "major systems", and DoD wrote many directives to instruct the component departments on the intricacies of major system management. If your's was a major system, you got it all - Logistic Support Analysis Records, Milestone Reviews, Cost-Effectiveness Analyses, Operating and Support Cost Analyses, dedicated cost gathering mechanisms (MRIS), Selected Acquisition Reports, and a lot of attention on all fronts. Your system was "ERC A", and the entire chain of command got reports on the readiness of every one of your systems.

The M113 Gavin was categorized as something other than a major system and accordingly got no attention, gathered no data, was asked no questions, and slowly passed into the shadows of visibility, which allowed many to assume that they were no longer in the Army. Let's call this the "management crack".

Each system has a program/project manager, and within the acquisition community this person is the developer for the system. For priorities and the fulfillment of legitimate requirements, someone in the user community is assigned as the proponent. The user community is represented by TRADOC, and normally a schoolhouse is assigned as the proponent.

The M113 Gavin is different, as every school in TRADOC is the proponent for some form of this incomparable, versatile Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV), with the predictable result that nobody is the proponent for the entire fleet. So a "notional" proponent was assigned - the Infantry School - but that was a problem because many think "real" infantrymen jump from planes and walk into battle at 1-4 mph exposed to all kinds of enemy fires (and think they don't need the armor protection and 1-55 mph stealthy mobility of M113 Gavins with hybrid-electric drives and band tracks, the M551 Sheridan and M8 AGS light tank firepower needs quickly forgotten in lightfighter hubris) or if they realize they must ride to war over large open areas like deserts it'll be done at a liesurely deployment pace without aircraft using overweight 33-ton Bradleys, which compete in the same budget line as the lighter, more air transportable M113. I forgot, the National Guard still has infantrymen in M113 Gavins, but then again, who cares? They want overweight Bradleys, too because they don't plan to jump from aircraft and de-rig airdropped M113 and fight with them. Folks that would fight mobile warfare using air-delivered light tracked AFVs would be called CAVALRY; and there is no branch by that name anymore in the U.S. Army with budgetary power. The M113 Gavin suffers from the "proponent crack".

Some facts may be in order here:

1. The first Division XXI initiative had 27 modernization systems, and when they were all installed, the 4th Mechanized Division rolled to the field to test the concept, with none of its M113 Gavins converted to the A3 configuration. All the command post vehicles were A2, as were the mortars, medical vehicles, smoke vehicles, engineer vehicles, and others. Is this a valid test?

2. The Army's Counter-ATtacK Force (CATK) has lots of M113 Gavins (about 2,100), and the readiness of this fleet is hovering around 84%. It is the force that would be deployed first, yet most of its combat vehicles are not at the 90% minimum deployable level of readiness. Everybody comfortable with that?

3. In FY02 the Army is closing the PM-M113 office and has budgeted exactly zero funding for retro-fits, overhauls, conversions, replacement vehicles or anything else for the M113. The vehicles in the motor pools today will still be there in 2030, only they will have 28 more years of wear on them. See any problem here?

There is no outrage that our Soldiers may have to fight in M113 Gavins that have been abandoned in the Army's motor pools. But this was predictable, since nobody is responsible for the fleet, nobody is monitoring the fleet, and maintenance/readiness/upgrade of the current fleet costs money, which otherwise could be used for someone's new strategic initiatives.

And the Soldiers in the motor pools what do you tell them? "Boy, just wait until you get your (fill in the name of an "exciting" "new" system in the current strategy, but which will never replace the M113 Gavin, the greatest AFV of all time, EVER, period)! In the meantime, be careful not to drive your M113 Gavin into any cracks ..., since the Army thinks it can skimp and not supply it with any spare parts...and one other thing...quit reading nursery rhymes.

Summary and Conclusion: 4th GW Non-Linear Warfare demands we fully exploit our M113 Gavins

M113 Gavins tracks leading vulnerable HMMWV trucks in Iraq: notice they are not "hurting" the pavement and they are travelliing fast down the highway amongst Iraqi civilian cars without problems. The M113 Gavin is actually HMMWV-sized and a bit taller while being much more armor protected. With 1,300 Gavins in Iraq the question is WHY ARE WE MOVING 100,000 TROOPS IN 10,000 HMMWV TRUCKS WHEN WE HAVE ENOUGH M113 GAVINS HERE IN STORAGE IN THE U.S. TO MOVE EVERY SOLDIER UNDER TRACKED ARMORED MOBILITY MEANS?

We are in 4th Generation War (4GW) where the enemy bypasses traditional armies and strikes directly at the will of the people themselves. This can be done by a sub-national terrorist group and/or a nation-state. Those that think we are in some new "enlightened age of warfare" where firepower replaces ground maneuver and thus we can dismantle our military and just chase down terrorists would have us make the exact same mistakes the pacifists did in England and France in the 1920s and '30s---except when the nation-state threat appears the "Pearl Harbor" might be nuclear and fatal. There may be no time to recover and "get our act together", mobilize war industries, build new tanks and planes. We win, lose or die with what's already on hand.

Air-Mech-Strike Force (AMS) structure using M113A3-type Gavin or redesignated "M113A4" light tracked AFVs is what we need in the U.S. Army to defeat 4GW because it can cut through a harboring nation-state, find the sub-national group, surround it and kill it, Roman Legion-style through MANEUVER. Not "mouse-clicking firepower" to hope we can bombard the enemy into submission and peaceably occupy him afterwards. "AMS" is another name for the general-purpose, 3D mobile armored combat Cavalry force the U.S. Army has lacked since Vietnam, though the deficiency began in WWII. If a nation-state tyrannical threat appears (hint: Red China) trying to do a land grab by pummeling an ally with SSC fires while taking out sea and airports to deny us access to the fight, we can force-entry and defeat their SSC and their maneuver by AMS surveillance-strike-maneuver capabilities. Everything we want to chieve in the FSCS Tracer program can be achieved by upgrading M113 Gavins at a lower cost and faster.

NEW! IDF M113 Gavins in combat on roads not harming them at all--What a surprise! (NOT)

Funny how the wheeled armored car fanatics are always saying M113 Gavin light tracks cannot do stability operations on paved roads when they have been doing them for years and are doing so as we speak. So while U.S. Army Soldiers are getting killed/maimed in Iraq/Afghanistan, Army leaders sit on thousands of thick-skinned, M113 Gavins that are sitting in storage and at National Guard armories while they beg for millions of dollars from Congress to buy vulnerable, road-bound thin-skinned HMMWV trucks rolling on air-filled rubber tires. "That dog don't hunt."


How the M113A3/4 Gavin can create U.S. Army World-wide Strategic Operational Maneuver (AWSOM) capabilities by air, land and sea

Parachute airdroppable

C-130 STOL airland

Cargo 747 air-transportable

CH-47D/F Chinook and larger helicopter transportable

Ocean amphibious swim capable with ARISGATOR kit

Can splash into the water from C-130 seaplanes to effect operational and tactical surprise to attack or defend from unexpected places

RPG and ATGM protected with armor applique'

River and lake amphib crossings

Can rumble over obstacles, crush car barricades

Fully cross-country mobile in mud, swamps, jungles, snow, rain, mountains

Excellent interface with light infantry not security guards for tanks

No flat tires

Band-tracks for 50+ mph road speeds, low-vibration, quietness

Can be fitted with 20-90mm cannon weaponry without major modification and still be air-transportable

Can be fitted with every combat-arms branch equipment type to create combined-arms teams using the same vehicle type

Does not need truck transporters for operational mobility

Hybrid-Electric drive for 600 mile stealthy range possible today

Any kind of digital equipment and commo gear can be applied

Thellie infared camouflage applicable to render vehicle invisible to thermal sights

Low-cost: for a few hundred thousands of dollars per vehicle we get "Future Combat System" leap-ahead technology capabilities TODAY not in 2010, not million each for inferior LAV-III rubber tired armored cars


Traditional military structures regardless whether you cut them down from Divisions to Brigades---is by CULTURE dehumanizing blind obedience based---cannot effect the kind of robustness and initiative needed to make a 3D AMS force prevail to win the real victories (not media spin) America needs. It needs to be a force of "straight-shooters" who can tell it like it is ALL THE TIME, 24/7/365 and not have to be concerned with individual egos and career survival. Clear thinking, all the time. Most power-hungry military existentialists do not want to treat people as equals even for information's sake. They are in the military for the ego trip, NOT TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN. America doesn't need them or their smug attitudes, we need winning attitudes and Soldiers equipped with winning vehicles.


OPTION #1. Cancel purchase of wheeled LAV-III as unworkable IAV; upgrade M113s, use M8 AGS light tanks for General Shinseki's IBCTs

This will transform the following units:

3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
1st Brigade, 25th Light Infantry Division
172nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Light Infantry Division
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps
56th Brigade, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard (already has M113s better vehicles than the LAV-III/IAVs being forced on them!)

Three light tracked IBCTs would be on the west coast to respond to crisis in the Pacific, two IBCTs on the east coast to respond across the Atlantic, with the 2nd ACR on parachute jump status to force-entry along with the 82nd Airborne Division as the covering force for the XVIII Airborne Corps

LAV-III/Strykers the Army is stuck with due to contract limitations form a MP peacekeeping brigade at Fort Drum, New York, while the rest of the 10th Mountain Division relocates to Fort Carson, Colorado to be a high-altitude, snow mountain division again; to be better prepared for combats like Afghanistan.

Note the rest of the Army's Light, Airborne and Air Assault Divisions are not transformed via IBCT force structure. There are several ways to fix this:

OPTION #2. Create LTC Robel's M113A3 Tracked Assault Battalion (1989) which is General Gavin's Pentomic separate transport unit to preserve lightfighter ethos (1959) + General Wickham's LIDs (1986) = brilliantly transformed Army light forces

A handful of TABs could on a case-by-case basis enable 10th Mountain, 25th LID, 82nd and 101st Airbornes to fight in open, desert, MOUT and jungle terrains. If the IBCTs cannot be saved from being damned with LAV-III/IAV armored cars, at least one of the TABs could be on parachute jump status to augment the 82nd Airborne for forced-entries. Eventually this unit would pioneer stand-off guided parachute delivery of M113A3 Gavins above 15,000 feet to defeat enemy air defenses. The 101st Air Assault Division could use a TAB based on the M973A2 armored SUSV that fits inside CH-47D/F Chinook helicopters for helicopter AMS assaults. Or:

OPTION #3. Dave Tooker's M113A3 ACAV Mech-Infantry (1968) embedded into one of the Light/Airborne/Air Assault Brigade's Infantry Battalion + aircraft delivery = as proposed in retired General David Grange's book, Air-Mech-Strike (1999)

Supplying M113A3s or M973A2s to a designated infantry battalion in every Light/Airborne/Air Assault brigade in the Army would be easy since no changes to personnel manning would be required, just some on-the-job training to operate the vehicles.

OPTION #4. A variation of Tooker's M113A3 ACAV Mech-Infantry Battalion with 106mm Recoilless Rifles is LT Mike Sparks' National Guard M113A3 Air Contingency Force (1995) so the active duty Army need not have to spend any money maintaining the vehicles since they are co-located with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

OPTION #5. Stan Crist's M113A3 transport battalion for a situation designated infantry battalion coupled with a M8 AGS light tank battalion (1997) to create an Airborne 73rd Armored Brigade.

OPTION #6. LTC Martin Stanton's M113A3/Javelin platoon in every BFV company in every Heavy Division (1998)and/or a M113A3/Javelin platoon in every "Delta" Weapons Company in every Light, Airborne, Air Assault Division.

OPTION #7. Designating at least one Light Mechanized Sapper Company (Airborne) in each Light/Airborne/Air Assault Division and supplying them with M113A3 Gavin Engineer Squad Vehicles to provide armored mobility/counter-mobility capability against land mines, obstacles and enemy strongpoints.

LMSC (Airborne)

OPTION #8. Designating at least one Light Mechanized Sapper Company (Amphibious) in each Army Heavy Armored/Mechanized Divisions and supplying them with Carlton Meyer's M113A3 AmphiGavins (2002) capable of vigorous ocean, lake and river swimming operations as well as normal combat engineering. The LMSC (Amphibious) would forward deploy with Army APS-3 sealift ships to expeditite the offload by swimming M113A3 AmphiGavins ashore en masse.

LMSC (Amphibious)

OPTION #9. Ranger historian LTC John Locke ("To Fight with Intredity") proposed to the 1st TSG (A) creating a Ground Cavalry Troop/Squadron with M113A3 Gavins as a part of the "Air Cavalry" Troops of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) to provide armored vehicle protection, mobility and firepower for Special Forces missions to prevent being left without such capabilities like what took place in Somalia and ruined an otherwise successful mission with needless U.S. casualties. A Ground Cavalry Squadron could also be formed in the XVIII Airborne Corps Aviation Brigade or using a designated 2nd ACR Squadron, then placed on parachute jump status to assist the 82nd Airborne Division.

OPTION #10. Create a new "Devil's Brigade" using Air-Mech-Strike or Colonel Douglas MacGregor's "Breaking the Phalanx" Airborne-Air Assault Group with integral Light Recon Strike Group or combinations of the force structure options above by special act of Congress if the institutional Army continues to refuse to do the right thing; drawing on volunteers from all the services, and commanded by the BEST combat leaders America has recalled to active-duty. The "Devil's Brigade" would after being fielded with unlimited resources fight against all other ground combat formations in simulated combat exercises and be used to drive all future force structure decisions instead of the way it is now, service budget politics driving how we are equipped and organized to fight. The Devil's Brigade would be stood up immediately to fight in the war on terrorists as its primary mission, with combat as its ultimate "test".

OPTION #11. Replace impotent HMMWV trucks in Delta Heavy Weapons Companies in the Army's 4 Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain and Light Infantry Divisions

It Maneuvers a Battalion

OPTION #12. Upgrade existing Delta Companies and Scout HMMWV units in both Army Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain, Light and Heavy Divisions with Combat Engineers and upgraded M113A4 Gavins reforming them into "Engineer Cavalry" (ECAV) troops

Simple math and Spinney's "Death Spiral".


The model above shows one low-cost variation of a M113A3 Gavin with clear ballistic shields for its Driver and Kasman shields with vision ports for the infantry in the rear top troop hatch. The Track Commander/Gunner has a clasic ACAV full round shield kit. The vehicle itself has AO Bradley armor skirts with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) tiles. The top troop hatch has a Javelin fire & forget ATGM pedestal mount.

CSA Gen Schoomaker's emasculated vision still has the light infantry lacking an armored mobility means which they can fight from while mounted and be employed to conduct precision urban raids. So while the Army wastes $BILLIONS on handfuls of Stryker lemons that they have to hide in a quiet part of Iraq and pour millions of dollars into repairs and civilian contractors, the rest of the Army actually stuck doing the fighting and dying doesn't get shields for its Bradleys, Abrams and Gavins or the armor that is supposed to be attached to the outside of their vehicles. The ones in even worse shape ride around in SUV trucks in Iraq.

The 20-25 ton FCS is too heavy and will come too late to help us in the fight we are in in Iraq. At million each FCS will be too costly to supply to the entire Army; a 300 vehicle Brigade would cost BILLION each; CSA wants 48 mini-BDEs, 48 x 3 = 4 BILLION dollars! Even America can't afford this. Its likely FCS would only replace the M1/M2s in the force again,leaving the majority of the Army exposed on foot and in unarmored trucks.


How much would it cost to create an upgraded "M113A4" Gavin Infantry Urban Raid Route Security Vehicle (GI-URSV) with FCS capabilities now as in within the next 12 months?

Current figures are 8,000 to create a "M113A4" FCS-Now.

M113A4 Gavin "FCS Now" Infantry Fighting Vehicle

1. Convert to hybrid-electric drive, stretch hull to MTVL standard 0,000

UDLP doesn't price these two items separately. A round number for the changing of an A2 or A3 to a stretched hybrid-electric is about 0K.

2. Better suspension system $ 0

Don't need this, because in the changeover to the MTVL, the final drive and roadarms are adjusted to provide greater road wheel travel, which is directly related to cross-country mobility. The MTVL will outrun the Bradley cross country.

3. Band tracks ,000 in production quantity.

You can take off ,000 from the cost of the hybrid-electric given above, because it included T-130/T-150 steel tracks with rubber pads.

4. RPG applique armor all around (from Rafael) ,000

I have heard ,000, but UDLP is uneasy about this number. Since that is what UDLP-West is doing for the Stryker now, the stretch M113 will be about 70% of the cost of putting the armor on the Stryker (flatter surfaces and less area on the MTVL)

5. Underbelly armor (from government NSN) 00

6. Tan infared/optical camouflage on-vehicle netting ,000

7. 3-gunshield kit for Track Commander and 2 troop hatch wing machine gunners $ 4,000

TOTAL $ 478,000 per vehicle


8. FBCB2 C4I is already in M113 Gavins in 4th ID. Could be Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) for the digital RMA panacea and cum-by-ya the Tofflerians want so desperately. Since all this digital mental situational awareness hasn't panned out in Iraq the PHYSICAL situational awareness of troops fighting out behind gunshields and the PHYSICAL armor protection and mobility is more important.


309 x Strykers = @ million each = 7 per SBDE
6 x SBDEs = .56 BILLION dollars
Only 5 BDEs out of 33 Army BDEs "changed" (for worse not better)

1 SBDE is Pennsylvania ARNG to buy off Senator Santorum who initially opposed Canadian-made Stryker armored cars since the far superior M113 Gavins are made in York, PA

Current Army has 33 BDEs, 19 are "heavy" and 14 are "light".

To mechanize the light BDEs only requires 44 x armored vehicles in each battalion. There are 3 battalions in each BDE for a total of 132 total vehicles per BDE.

The heavy BDEs already have 50% of their vehicles as M113 Gavins, or about 200 per BDE.

14 Light BDEs x 132 M113A4 FCS Now Gavins = 1, 848 M113A4 FCS-Now Gavins

19 Heavy BDEs x 200 M113A4 FCS-Now Gavins = 3, 800 M113A4 FCS-Now Gavins


TOTAL: 5,648 x M113A4 FCS-Now Gavins

@8, 000 each = $ 2.69 BILLION

In other words, for 1/2 the cost of a handful of impotent Stryker wheeled armored car BDEs, we could TRANSFORM THE ENTIRE U.S. ARMY IN A MATTER OF MONTHS TO SUPERIOR TRACKED FCS CAPABILITIES NOW. To include saving lives/limbs in Iraq and winning the war there with a stealthy hunter/killer infantry fighting vehicle. The non-linear battlefield lessons that should be learned from Iraq is that NO SOLDIER should ride in a wheeled truck if we can avoid it.

The foundational non-linear battlefield concept that General Gavin used when he created the M113 is as sound today as it was when it was created: maximum air/sea/land mobility in a lightweight armored platform. The full potential of this amazing vehicle has yet to be fully exploited. 12 easily do-able courses-of-action (COA) are presented above to transform the U.S. Army to unheard of combat capabilities. The course taken and the next chapter in the saga of the mighty M113 Gavin is up to us to write.

One thing is certainly clear, the mighty M113A3 Gavin is the combat proven winner that can take us to victory. Do we want to WIN or do we want to make excuses and dream about a rosy transformation future that never arrives?

Save your own life: the Army won't

The Army has THOUSANDS of M113 Gavin tracks sitting in storage that could be used as non-linear warfare vehicles and the ARMY REFUSES TO SUPPLY THESE EN MASSE TO REPLACE TRUCKS IN IRAQ TO DRAMATICALLY REVERSE THE SITUATION IN IRAQ.

Its the Army's fault because our senior leaders are anti-tracked vehicle afflicted with the wheels 'n computer sickness I described earlier. Below is a form letter we've written to help several Soldiers run up through the chain of command pleading for M113 Gavins which lists the specific locations of M113s in CENTCOM, other war stocks and where they are in storage in CONUS. (e-mail us for these facts).

Sample Letter to your Chain of Command (where M113s are in CENTCOM etc.)


XXXXX 17 January 2004

SUBJECT: Immediate M113 vehicle plus-ups for xxxxxxx deployment to Iraq


1. ____ x M113 light tracked armored fighting vehicles and ____ x M2 .50 caliber heavy machine guns be supplied to my unit in addition to our existing equipment in light of our new mission as provisional infantry. These equipments are in Army war-stocks and I request in writing an answer to this request. If FORSCOM receives this request I am confident it will be supplied to my men to accomplish the mission and save lives. The following explains why this additional equipment is needed.

2. Why is our Army accepting daily casualties in Iraq, Soldiers in Arlington Cemetary and walking around Walter Reed missing limbs when we have thousands of 11-ton M113 thick-skinned, tracked armored vehicles sitting in storage that could prevent these deaths and maimings? We have strong national backing behind the troops, but we're slowly pissing away national will (center-of-gravity) to casualties we didn't have to sustain. The current thinking for remedying casualties is to don more heavy gear, operate in larger units, buy more up-armored HMMWVs, put Stryker into the fray and slap make-shift armor kits again on vulnerable rubber-tired vehicles. EXPENSIVE, slow-to-field, doesn't protect the majority of our troops. NOT A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS. The solution for the non-linear battlefield where the enemy can attack in any direction at any time is not more Balkan-style "presence patrols" in inadequately or unprotected HMMWVs/Stryker wheeled vehicles. We are taking dozens of casualties simply "driving to contact". Even up-armor HMMWVs cannot sustain an RPG. What can? Is cheap? What'll work---Now?

M113 Gavins---tracked armored fighting vehicles.

3. Our Army has thousands of 1.5" to 1.75" thick-skinned, 11-ton, metal road wheels, steel-tracked M113A3s are widely availability in war stocks to include CENTCOM and older M113A2s are unused storage here in CONUS (attached excel spreadsheet) and can be made land mine/RPG resistant. This information is compelling and should be forwarded with our request to FORSCOM.

M113s in war stocks (Army Prepositioned Sets)

[M113 Gavins in war stock data write to us if you are a Soldier needed it: ]

4. Cost to to add underbelly and RPG protection to M113 is small; less than ,000. Much of this add-on armor is already in the supply system.

M113 Gavin RPG resistant applique' armor

Passive Armor:

Active Armor:

M113 Gavin underbelly armor

Belly Armor Kit / Cage No. 80212, P/N 4240277

Chapter III: Growth of U.S. Armored Forces in Vietnam

"To reduce mine damage to M113's, "belly armor" kits arrived in 1969. When this supplemental armor was applied to M113's and Sheridans, it protected them from mine blast rupture, saved many lives, and gave the crews added confidence" M113 Gavin Gunshields

NSNs Track Commander's Cupola Shield Kit, Machine Gun / 2510-00-121-8990 Shield, Protective / 2510-01-006-4587

TC's cupola gunshields + side gunshields for the two troop hatch MGs

The NSN number for the complete Gun Shield Kit including the cargo hatch side shields is NSN 2590-00-121-8990. AMDF price is ,708.00. Check the Army supply system for availability(?) If the "system" doesn't have the shields (likely) the DSC bids for someone to make them like they did in 1999: 25 - SOL:SHIELD KIT, MACHINE GUN (10/29/99) COMMERCE BUSINESS DAILY ISSUE OF OCTOBER 29,1999 PSA#2465 Defense Supply Center Columbus, PO Box 16595, DSCC-PBAB, Columbus, OH 43216-6595 25 -- SHIELD KIT, MACHINE GUN SOL SP075000R2737 DUE 121799 POC For Information Only, Point of Contact -- Carol Black Phone:614-692-1346 Fax: 614-692-1577 NSN: 2590-00-121-8990, YPC99201000244. Shield Kit, Machine Gun. Made in accordance with Army drawing 11660854 and all current related data. Full and open competition applies. Quantity is 52 each to be delivered within 150 days after date of award to Richmond, Va. All responsible sources may submit an offer which shall be considered. See note(s) 12 and 26. Copies of this solicitation are available at the address above or by faxing 614-692-2262 or e-mailing: incoord @ and will not be available until 15 days after this notice is published in the CBD. Requests should include the company name, address and solicitation number(s). The small business size standard is 750 employees. Technical drawings/bid sets are available from DSCC-VTCD via one of the following medias: internet at; facsimile at 614-692-2344; e-mail at drawings @ or by mail at Defense Supply Center Columbus, ATTN: DSCC-VTCD, P O Box 3990, Columbus, OH. 43216-5000. Requests should include theRFP number, opening/closing date, NSN, Purchase Request number (e.g. YPC), Buyer's name and your complete name and address. FEDERAL, MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL SPECIFICATIONS CANNOT BE PROVIDED BY DSCC. Proposed procurement contains a 100% option for increase quantities. This is an unrestricted acquisition. While price may be a significant factor in the evaluation of offers, the final award decision will be based upon a combination of price, delivery, past performance and other evaluation factors as described in the solicitation. Estimated issue date is 18 Nov 99. Posted 10/27/99 (W-SN395719). (0300) Loren Data Corp. (SYN# 0194 19991029-0001.SOL) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 25 - Vehicular Equipment Components Index Page However if you don't want to waste months playing with DSC because your men are getting shot at in places like Iraq/Afghanistan, United Defense, the maker of the M113 Gavin can deliver 44 kits in 20-22 weeks. Their price would be around ,000 per kit, saving you about 4K per kit. Understand that cost does not come into play when we are talking about the safety of our troops but 6,000 buys a hell of a lot of beans and bullets...or better yet more gunshields!

POC: Mr. Tom Reuter
United Defense
M113 Field Service & Spares
(800) 235-0015 Ext: 825
cell @ 256-453-7049

5. M113s are simple to operate and maintain. You could train a Soldier in a week quite well. You don't have 1 DA or civilian contractor per company running around like in SBCTs. The class IX is already in our supply system. The M113 is a multi-purpose vehicle: CSS, INF, ENG, MED. If you want to understand urban ops with a permissive and non-permissive environment blurring, and how to operate in it, look at Israel which oprerates thousands of up-armored M113s and doesn't lose a man a day in combat operations like we are in Iraq. Things Israelis know:

a. Tracked "Tanks rule"!
b. Tanks rule only when working well with infantry
c. Helicopters are great killers: but fly high, fly irregular patterns to avoid shoot-downs. The Longbow is great for precision interdiction. Paint them light tan or gray so they are harder to detect, track and hit during the day time.
d. HUMINT is decisive.
e. Snipers are far more crucial than home station training, manning, employment lend them to be
f. Muslim culture: if it looks bad ass- it is bad ass! Current enemy thinking: "Attack it if it has wheels, if it has tracks, leave it alone, it will shoot back and kill you"
g. That ugly, primitive, simple tracked IDF M113 still is ubiquitious and highly successful: it's heavily armored, it dismounts SOF and infantry, engineers to achieve decisive effects

Are we willing to lose more men than the Beirut barracks to IEDs and RPGs because our leaders are too worried about careers or the funding of Stryker to ask the hard questions of a caring Combat Commander: Why can't I have M113s? They are sitting in storage awaiting a use. Would we rather have me and my men die than weld or strap plates to the side of my HMMWV or wait for expensive and inadequate kits? A Ford Explorer SUV has better armor!

SSG Paul Johnson, 1-505 was KIA in Iraq from an IED.

He didn't die right away.

He died after a few minutes from burns. His HMMWV was blasted and burned. An up-armored M113 would have kept rolling and he'd be alive today.

6. HQDA PAO spokesman, Major Tallman recently stated in a DEFENSE WEEK article "that no ground commander has requested M113s". This is not accurate,

WE and many others ARE REQUESTING more M113s to fully equip our Soldiers with armored mobility and a means to aggressively fight back behind gunshields. Our men are going into harm's way and do not need to be put off with bureaucratic excuses about "MTOEs" and "TRADOC procedures"; we need the tools we require to accomplish the mission and get our men home alive and well.

If combat commanders knew M113s were available even more would request them. However, there is no reason why upgraded M113s couldn't be supplied immediately to us as a "test case" that could be expanded to be applied to the rest of the Army.

7. Iraqi Freedom Key Facts to Date

400 Soldiers killed by RPGs and IEDs in unarmored 3-ton HMMWV, 10-ton FMTV and thin-skinned 20-ton Stryker trucks or on foot that could have been saved had they been in up-armored M113s

4000 Soldiers wounded and maimed from all types of attacks, specific causes not known, but at same ratio as KIAs would likely mean 1000 Soldiers could have been saved disfigurement had they been in up-armored M113s

Rebuilding up-armored but still thin-skinned 4+ ton HMMWVs will require two years which at current casualty rates will mean 250 more dead and 500 more wounded by next June's planned major troop reductions

Up-armored HMMWVs severely stressed by weight their engine and suspension systems are not designed to handle will be even more road-restricted than current HMMWVs and will incur drastically higher operations and maintenance costs negating any desired cost advantages

M113A3 tracks and engines can easily accept the extra armor/gunshield weights necessary to attain land mine/IED and RPG protection without excessive O & M costs

Enemy is not targeting up-armored HMMWVs with weapons mounts, it's not accurate to assume up-armoring will protect our Soldiers when we know vehicle is too light to not be tossed into air by land mines/IEDs and cannot be armored to protect against RPGs

If we up-armor all our HMMWV trucks at a cost of 0,000 each, the enemy will be forced to discover that they are NOT adequately landmine/IED and RPG protected and incur more friendly casualties despite 2 years and 9 million dollars

Up-armoring M113s will cost ,000 per vehicle and make them far more protected from land mines/IEDs and resistant to RPGs than any existing Army wheeled vehicle and this can be done in a matter of weeks

The up-armored M113s are far more cross-country mobile than any wheeled vehicle to fully traverse the entire desert-urban terrain of Iraq to render more effective pre-emptive convoy security clearing of land mines/IEDs and small-arms/RPG ambushes

M113s have a lower center-of-gravity than Army wheeled vehicles. M113s can swim and at least float if they should drive into an Iraqi river or marsh saving Soldier lives now being lost in roll-overs.

8. There may be built-in resistance to upgrading M113s within those that prescribe to the former CSA's wheeled vision but their private agendas should not matter when we can and should save lives and limbs with upgraded or even as-is M113s. It would be highly embarrassing to the Army that Soldiers were killed/maimed just because a mere 10 more M113 armored vehicles were denied a commander headed for combat.

9. Upgraded M113s would have a "home" in our Army after Iraq for non-linear war

The Stryker armored car purchase is very expensive at million per vehicle and only affects 5 brigades out of 33 in the active Army. If a larger number of M113s were upgraded to get the majority of our troops out of trucks in Iraq, there is an easy "home" for them in the current/future force post-Iraq: supply them to the Delta Weapons Companies and Scout platoons in our light/heavy Divisions who now use inadequate HMMWV trucks for anti-tank and security missions. M113s are fully C-130 air-transportable, combat-loaded to include parachute air-drop. Furthermore, Light Sapper Combat Engineer units with HMMWV trucks transformed to upgraded M113s would be able for the first time to breach under armor using rocket line clearing charges and greater safety. Their brethren, Heavy Division Sappers use old M113s now and need upgraded M113s, too. These M113s could be fitted with hybrid-electric drives, band tracks and the full C4I digital networking features now only resident in the 4th ID and a handful of Stryker wheeled brigades, transforming the rest of our Army to "Future Combat System" capabilities.

10. Specific Requirements


11. POC for this memorandum is (xxx) xxx-xxxx

unit XXXX


A noted Armor combat leader writes:

"Having been retired for 22 years, I'm somewhat out of touch with the details of current programs, though I'm aware of GEN Ski's desire to be able to insert a force of infantry and wheeled LAVs by air to be followed by heavier forces by sea. Actually, we did the former in Viet Nam in 1966 to put down the Buddhist Mutiny in the crack ARVN 1st Div. I was Sr Advisor to the ARVN Chief of Armor when Prime Minister Ky asked us to airlift a troop of M41 (76mm gun) light tanks to DaNang. We did this using three sorties by three C133s ("stretch C130s) each carrying two tanks fully combat loaded with crews mounted. They went into action immediately upon arrival and put an end to the foolishness.

I can't agree fully that we're reluctant to maneuver because of heavy casualties in 'Nam. We did a pretty good job in Panama, Haiti, and especially Desert Storm where we pretty much destroyed the Iraqi Army. I believe it was a tragic error to fail to Seize Bagdhad and depose Sadam, but that's water over the dam.

As to the M113 ACAV's ability to withstand multiple RPG hits, I would take that to be well established. We sustained multiple penetrations without catastrophic results unless the round hit the fuel tank or ignited on-board explosives. ARVN countered this by 'refusing' the fuel tank mounted on the left rear by presenting the right front to the enemy. We suffered an average of 0.8 personnel casualties per penetration on ACAVs often carrying a dozen or more people. Later, quite by accident, we discovered that a three- or four-inch layer of styrofoam on the wooden trim vane used for swimming completely stopped penetrations by igniting the RPG too far from the actual armor.

Based on all this, I would argue that a force of ACAVs backed by M41's would still suffice for anything short of World War III against China. I'm not sure whom we should contact to promote this concept since my impression is that the overwhelming majority of current flag officers got there by kissing ass rather than standing on any principle."

An Armor officer on active-duty writes:

"I like your site about the bikes in military use. I am a recreational mountain biker and feel that there are uses for these systems. As a straight-leg tanker (last I checked, no airborne armor units, just some poor Humvee driving scouts that jump) I don't know much about jumping with the folding bike but I would take your reservations to heart. I think that using non-folding bikes is better - less to go wrong with the bike, lighter, stronger, etc. Also, palletized drops have gotten more accurate, haven't they?

Hmm, anyway, with 5 guys in a vehicle, two can set a short term OP or combine with 2 others from the section and set a long OP. The other two vehicles set their own OPs out. I know about the reservations of using wheeled vehicles. I wonder if you have any info on the band-tracks specifically referencing noise. I know a 113 is noisy, especially when turning and I have heard SUSVs on the road at JRTC - not exactly quiet! Anyway, that is my key reservation against using 113s for recon missions. We were roadmarching back from an NBC exercise (yes tankers know how to place one foot after the other over long distances) and some Foxes were waiting in line to get on the wash rack. I was literally two feet away or less and carrying on a quiet conversation with my CO while the Fox was idling. Talk about quiet, better than a Humvee by far.

Well, enough rambling, like what you guys are doing and I might soon start showing you my ideas on a few systems that ALREADY EXIST and would augment us in a great way! Such as turreted mortar tracks for MOUT ops, Engineers making a breach, etc. Gotta go..."

Our reply:

Some of us were at JRTC last April and the German Airborne Wiesels were there with band tracks. WOW! Shhhhhhhhhhhhh they were silent. Just think of a rubber tire stretched over road wheels--without the air to hold its shape and steel inner cables so bullets don't harm them.

M113 on band tracks:

Noise - Reduced by 6 dB (A), interior and exterior (reduction to level comparable to heavy truck)

Vibration Reduced by 30%

I'm not into that "leg" non-sense, you are warrior. USAREUR has a M113A3 IRF that airlands by C-130s, wish they airdropped, but its a start.

And consider hybrid-electric drive------near silent operation. And FLIR camouflage.

Another insider writes:

"Yeah, I've never understood why they didn't use the '113 for this role.

As far as I can tell, TACOM's wanted the M113 to go away and stop being so doggone useful and reliable since about 1969. It gets in the way of all the neat new development initiatives, and someone-usually foreign- is always coming up with neat aftermarket stuff to cover evolving missions that the Army wants to deal with on a blank-sheet-of-paper basis. A cynic might point out that PM M113 is a lieutenant colonel and PM ASM is a brigadier general."


The Army wouldn't be in this inability-to-rapidly-air-deloy mess if it had kept a portion of its forces based on the M113 family and supplied them a light tank. Kind of like what I proposed in the January/February 1995 issue of U.S. Army ARMOR magazine.

Someday when everything is falling apart and the outlook is grim, they will turn to the greatest AFV of all time to save the day--the M113 Gavin--and it will be ready---as it always is to save the fools that occupy our fad conscious republic from themselves.

Don't be fooled..while the Canadians sell us junky LAV-III SUV-tired armored cars to get our cash, they upgrade their tracked M113s to A3 standards...the Aussies boast of their ASLAVs yet they are doing the same thing, upgrading their tracked M113s...when their C-130s landed in East Timor it wasn't ASLAVs rolling off the rear ramp....this was no accident....its a capability only the M113 has.

Airborne Armor!


A combat U.S. Army Ranger veteran writes:

"Read your piece on the Rangers need for armor.

I was with 2/75 during Urgent Fury when the jeep team got blasted. I remember the SEAL who E&Ed to Pt. Salines to beg for help for his guys surrounded in the radio station. We got a convoy of gun jeeps lined up to go to the rescue. However, air recon showed armed road block points on the highway. Without armor, the CO had to make the hard decision to leave them to their fate. I have had the opportunity to work with the WIESEL armored vehicle in use by the German Parachute Regt. Three will fit on a C-130, It can be carried internally in a CH-47. It can be air dropped. I wrote a letter to the Regiment to invite them to try out the ones located at Ft. Benning in use by the Battle Lab there. They looked at them, but that was it. Seems there is much prejudice among the hooahs for anything with tracks on it, especially if its not made in the US.

I think that SOCOM should form a separate Special Ops Airborne Cavalry Troop to support their operations".

MY REPLY: Have 160th SOAR get some M113A3 Gavins (cost = zero) to form a Ground Cav Troop to their defacto "Air Cav troop"!!

"Great article..

I cannot wait to pass it to my 1SG upon his return from leave.

I am the current commander for X/X-CAV (Brigade Reconnaissance Troop (light) in the XX ID (M);

Man, the number of times I've said out loud what I would do for a Troops worth of 113's and toss the HMMWV's I currently own.

The truth is in the pudding, I just hope the light vs. heavy mentality doesn't cost any of my Troopers lives in the not so distant future.

Keep the faith and the good info. flowing!

XXXXXXXXXXX Captain of Cavalry Commanding

Vietnam Armored combat veteran and distinguished author, Ralph Zumbro writes:

"Mike. it gets worse.

There is a precedent for what is happening to the Gavin.

Back in the 1840s, the old Mounted Riflemen (we didn't have cavalry yet) rode captured and broken Spanish Mustangs. Rodgers and Clarke bought them from the tribes. Just after the Mexican War, a troop of mounted riflemen who'd just ridden up from Mexico, were ordered to go from Ft Leavenworth, Mo. to Walla Walla Washington...They just mounted up and went.

The point being belabored here is that there was no forage provided and no horseshoes provided. Those animals are still in existance and I have seen them do incredible things.

When 9-11 hit. I was right in the middle of a wild horse roundup in Montana, outside the Crow indian reservation. Those animals are like the Gavin. Incredible range and reliability and low maintainence. While the Rifle Regiments were riding them, they could keep up with and catch the Indians.

Then came the Civil War, and we got CAVALRY, who thought that they had to have large blooded mounts. Thoroughbreds, Tennissee walking horses, Morgans, etc. OK, they made nice copy, did pretty charges, but right there, the Cavalry began to lose the capability to march 100 miles in 10 hours about once a week or make the tradtional "40 miles a day on beans and hay".

After the war, the Cavalry, mounted on large blooded horses were regularly outrun and out maneuvered by the tribes on Mustangs that could live off prairie grass and did not require steel shoes.

Mike, I can document most of this. We've been this way before. To check me, just turn on Google and type in Endurance Horse Races. Then try Spanish Mustangs and Iclandic Horses...I just may bring back the cavalry. I know some of this is a repeat, but your last two essays triggered the current blast. It makes a real good comparision."

My reply:

The Bradleys and LAV-IIIs are the look-goods but less capable FORMS while the M113 Gavin is their FUNCTIONAL superior. The M1 Abrams LOOKS GOOD with a turbine engine to dart around the battlefield for short distance tank-on-tank gun duels. However, its horrendous 7 gallons per-mile fuel consumption makes it conk-out if we are on the march to seize a Baghdad---had we been less vain and used a less vain diesel engine we'd have a heavy OFFENSIVE maneuver capable tanks, like the campaign-winning horses you describe. The LAV-III/Stryker looks great at NTC where there is no MILES sensors on its 8 rubber tires to simulate them getting shredded by artillery, mortar and small-arms fire as always occurs when armored cars try to survive in COMBAT. The LAV-III/Stryker's 8 air-filled rubber tires will need constant replacing if they try to take the overloaded, high-ground pressure monster off-road. Its already a high-maintenance nightmare, ask the marines who have been suffering since 1987 with smaller LAV-Is! The Bradley bristles with turret armament THAT LOOKS GOOD ON PAPER, CAPABILITY DEMOS AND PARADES but smothers the dismounting infantry in back so they cannot fight heads-out or be in sufficient numbers to be anything more than short-range "security guards".

This is what you get when you have an Army that doesn't DO THINGS enough so the value of FUNCTION takes precedence over BS vanity!


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