Sunday, April 9, 2017

Afghanistan '11 - The Quest for the Light Infantry Mindset

Afghanistan '11 is such a brilliant game that makes me want to put it through its paces. I am a big fan of William Lind's work and one of his recent books is just about fighting insurgencies. So here I go for a short open question.

Oh yeah. The Taliban show up in mass against my forward operating base.

In 4th Generation Warfare Handbook, Lind and Thiele argue that this type of warfare is essentially a light infantry's fight. The real life Taliban and militias, as well as the ones portrayed in Afghanistan '11 pack very nimble kits, and their firepower is limited. But according to the before mentioned book, light infantry's main asset is its mobility.

In an ideal situation, forces fighting an insurgency should mirror the enemy and adopt the so-called "light infantry mentality": be always ready, improvise to make up for the absence of massive firepower, develop an ambush mentality and (above all) be extremely mobile.

How to fight the Taliban and militias as a light infantry force? How to be mobile enough to deserve the title "light infantry"?

Although indispensable, moving troops with MRAPs is moderately demanding. In this scenario, with barely enough resources, a terrain that constrains our movement to roads (IED alleys)  and very little intelligence on the enemy (its just turn 2), I had to provide a mine/IED removal team. Not too much of a bargain considering the convoy's limited range.

In the same scenario, a Blackhawk helicopter team deployed a US Company in a remote village. This resulted in valuable intelligence gained (an enemy militia team was located and destroyed by an air strike) in record short time.
I don't mean that MARPAT-borne infantry is useless. In this case the terrain allows the US forces to move off-road (to avoid IEDs).

And furthermore, these MARPAT patrols can be useful to find out enemy forces trying to sneak on the foot infantry (visible in the village).

But when it hits the fan (note the Taliban trying to bully my forward operating base), mounting a counterattack with helicopter-borne troops can be achieved in record time.
What's your take on this?



UsF said...

So far I am relying on mine clearance vehicles for convoys and as soon as they run into trouble, the MRAPs pull up and load some infantry or spec ops, hopefully taking them down (with A10, sniper fire and then a direct attack, if still necessary). Helicopters are very useful, but consume many resources, so they usually circle around a FOB or main base only. Artillery is also very useful and I try to get a pit running quickly in a central FOB location, where I expect a lot of movement. Also don't forget your UAV drones, they are your friend.

lowenstaat said...

Using SF to spot from OPs while infantry mauever and ambush is a sound tactic, especially when you can get the ANA involved so they gain some experience prior to handover.

JC said...

Thanks for your comments.

Good points. UsF is quite right about the helicopters being so expensive to purchase and maintain.

lowenstaat: ambushes, pretty much a light infantry trait. I'm very happy to read your comment.