Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 56

These technologies are currently taught in military schools but have yet to be assigned across all cavalry squadron MTOEs in the scout role. As Lt. Col. Eric Lowry wrote in a 2014 article, “Ten years of war in the Middle East fighting an enemy that can blend into the population have demonstrated the need for a more thorough ability to find and positively identify that enemy. The identification and destruction of enemy support networks … [is a] vital aspect that supports the Army of 2020.”15 The aforementioned sensors and other unmanned surveillance technologies are examples of available capabilities that would allow detachments from light cavalry squadrons to more effectively identify and target these enemy networks. They would also greatly enhance a cavalry unit’s ability to fulfill information requirements in future asymmetric warfare settings. Cavalry squadrons of the future. The ideal light cavalry squadron of the future will be prepared to operate in a decentralized manner, detaching teams of reconnaissance enablers to comparatively robust infantry units. This recommendation fits well into the paradigm of regionally aligned forces and small-unit deployments for foreign internal defense. Teams and squads of light cavalry scouts equipped with surveillance control systems and specialized light vehicles—such as, perhaps, the light tactical all-terrain vehicle currently in use by certain airborne units, or, further in the future, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s proposed Ground X Vehicle—could add unique value to infantry companies as currently provided by highly coveted sniper teams.16 Rather than simply operating an LRAS3 (typically used on an infantry vehicle such as the Stryker or the mine-resistant ambush-protected [MRAP] vehicles), these teams would include personnel qualified as joint fire observers and trained through attendance at the Army Reconnaissance Course, Pathfinder School, and Air Assault Schools. With light vehicles and emerging technology, these teams can provide a capability outside the means of infantry. Rath er than passively consuming sensor information through viewing terminals, such teams could instead use sensor and unmanned platform control systems to increase reconnaissance coverage and produce complementary surveillance value. With a new MTOE, our light cavalry squadrons could train and prepare these teams along with fellow 50 information-collection assets, such as an unmanned aerial surveillance platoon, a human intelligence team, and interpreters, all readily available for detachment to infantry companies. However, our current light formations err too far toward heavy and contiguous employment to operate along these lines. Decentralizing our light cavalry squadrons would allow the above-mentioned technology and training capabilities to be distributed across the entire maneuver force as opposed to being condensed within one formation. While bearing this in mind, the Army of 2025 also demands a combined arms maneuver capability—one that is best provided by heavy cavalry. Combined arms heavy cavalry. Current cavalry squadrons equipped to provide armored warfighting capabilities include those within the ABCT and the SBCT. However, the lighter SBCT cavalry squadron is less effective in this role for a number of reasons. First, as practical experience has shown, the function of this squadron performing standoff reconnaissance as the tip of the spear for the SBCT and follow-on ABCTs does not survive first contact with commonly templated enemies. Employed within varied terrain, the cannon and antitank guided missile systems of even a small number of legacy Soviet systems, such as the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle, contain sufficient range and firepower to attrit an entire Stryker cavalry squadron and thus degrade the operational tempo of follow-on armored forces. This employment dilemma calls to mind the similar invalidation of the pre-OIF brigade reconnaissance troop concept, in which light cavalry scouts equipped with high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles failed to maintain heavy brigade combat team operating tempo due to sustaining unacceptable losses.17 Second, couple this lack of Stryker cavalry survivability with the absence of robust, organic maintenance or fueling capabilities—such as those provided by a forward support company—and you have a formation unlikely to be able to sustain operating tempo in a future conventional, forcible-entry fight. It would be far more effective to set unambiguous priorities, to integrate this functionally light cavalry force into a follow-on, dispersed, wide area security role, and to employ more heavily armored ABCT assets in a hunter-killer role at the forefront. In this November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW