Fight Lite?

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    • #122579
      D Close
      Moderator

        Reading the SOG chronicles recently and related books, as well as SEAL operations during Vietnam, do we need to consider a higher round count for recon elements? Especially given the lack of supporting fires? Lack of grenades? Lack of claymores? I think the SOG guys had 600+ rounds plus lots of grenades and claymores. The SEALs went out with 1000! Both units had TACAIR available.

      • #122583
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
        Moderator

          No easy answer!

          What can you realistically carry?

          Where can you cut corners?

          Everything is a compromise. ;-)

          Traditionally for me the smaller the team the more ammo you need, but again what can you really carry? This will change by individual.

          What other options can you make available?

          Speed caches?

          Lastly I’ve talked about how much ammo you have in your personal logistics?

          See this Thread Ammunition Stockpiles for Contingencies.

        • #122612
          Max
          Keymaster

            Good points. You have missed First Sergeant on his way up to the VTC for CLC. Not sure when he will be able to jump in from a LRS perspective.

            There are a number of points to this and I will try to touch on them. This is partly why I always say ‘Fight Lite’ but I;m not sure many catch the nuance when I say you won’t be light, you will just be lighter than the kitchen sink. You still have to carry the equipment for the mission.

            One aspect to this is the have a support chain and communications, so that I you get into trouble on patrol, you have a QRF to come to your aid, ammo forward, casualties back.

            How much you can effectively carry and avoid being a TACTICAL NO GO also depends on the operating environment and physical fitness levels. Note that in SOG, Americans carries a far higher load than the Indig, due to body sizes. Also note that they were mostly in their early 20’s and thinking back I could do and carry anything at that age.

            The SOG piece is very interesting and I have made it a personal research project at the current time. A very important aspect is that they were conducting recon in a very specific environment, and in many cases it was not classic recon, but gathering information by fire, supported by Tac Air in order to achieve the mission. Consider this:

            – It became apparent that SOG missions were compromised at a high level (ARVN) and there was a high incident of being shot out of LZs.

            – There was a high amount of NVA in the areas around the Ho Chi Minh trail they were inserting into, and due to rates of movement, the never really went that offset, they were essentially inserting next to the trail where the NVA had a lot of troops.

            – NVA employed LZ watchers on the limited amount of LZs. Many times teams had trackers on them from the beginning.

            – Once compromised, the enemy forces were overwhelming and fanatical, also trying to ‘hug the belt’ by getting close in order to try and avoid Tac Air.

            – Due to this, the teams were only able to survive due to the system of Covey FAC and copious amounts of Tac Air.

            The upshot of this summary is that SOG was conducting ‘extreme nutso recon’ where in many cases they were already compromised. Tac Air is what kept them alive. There were some missions where they were not compromised but even in many cases if they were not detected on insertion, it was only a mater of time before they had trackers on them, and then it was a case of moving to avoid trackers and large numbers of NVA in pursuit. Without Tac Air and fearless helicopter support, none of these guys would have been alive today.

            So, in a ‘normal’ recon situation, you expect to avoid being compromised. This is primarily what recce is about. SOG was unique in that many times they operated with huge numbers of enemy while already compromised. On what we may call a more ‘standard’ patrol, if compromised, you will break contact. Depends who your enemy is how successful that will be. For SOG, really hard with battalions of NVA in close contact with them.

            The wrinkle is, if you take a casualty, and the limited options that provides you at that time 1) carry them out 2) leave them 3) strong-point until QRF arrives. 1) is often impossible in a small team harried by the enemy, unless you can break contact and you are very fit. 2) if mainly what SOG did, because they had that QRF coming, Tac Air to keep the enemy back, and helicopters to get them out, even if very dicey every time.

            So, you will need to take ammo based on METT-TC and the tactical / enemy picture. You need to be able to manage a sustained break contact and still be good for a follow up contact. Personal fitness! You may need to carry a casualty! Operational planning should take you beyond the usual prepper SHTF crap into a situation where you are running an OPs Room supported by a QRF and radio comms.

          • #122638
            DiznNC
            Participant

              I think MACV-SOG was a very unique scenario, where as Max said, due to many factors, including high level traitors/spies, many missions were compromised before they even left the ground. Once inserted, many teams were never heard from again. This was actually used against the NVA later in the war, but much of that story is still classified and still only rumor.

              For our purposes here, what are the take-aways. If you look at typical SOG load-outs, you will see they were very hardware-oriented. At least double std ammo load outs were the norm, along with frags, smoke, WP, claymores, C-4, 40mm, etc. Along with a PRC 25/77 radio, pilot survival radios, strobes, pen flares, etc. Very little in the way of provisions were usually carried. Maybe a little rice or freeze-dried and a few quarts water.

              This was in conjunction, again as Max pointed out, with air support, that could provide fire support and extraction at 30 minutes notice.

              Some of the earlier missions were quite successful, before the NVA figured out who these guys were, wondering around in their rear areas. But once they knew, went to extraordinary counter-measures to eradicate these teams. Often as not, the later missions were heavily hunted and teams were summarily executed on the spot.

              These teams heavily influenced long range reconnaissance doctrine after the war. Even to this day. In my time a double ammo load out was SOP, just as I think the 1st Sgt was taught. So at first blush, you might think this conflicts with fight light concept. But I don’t think it does. It’s a very specialized mission that may require a different load out from standard; you would still judge each piece of kit by it’s value to the mission, and the load that must be carried; if more ammo is required, so be it, but other items must be shit-canned or minimized.

              Another consideration would be that these teams more than likely chose to stand and fight, because they knew air support was coming and air extraction would be the way out. Therefore they carried inordinate amounts of firepower, to sustain them until the could be extracted. Unless you have a private little bird, your best COA will probably be to break contact; mobility will be your trump card, not firepower. So you would have to weigh the ability to lay down massive fire against the ability to move quickly away from trouble.

              And in that vein, I can tell you breaking contact with full auto, will flat go through 6-7 mags very quickly. So while SOCOM emphasizes this heavily (or at least they used to) I think for us, semi auto rapid fire will be the technique of choice.

              So really, the take-away I get from studying SOG, is that small teams of highly trained personnel can do amazing things, but you can’t follow their T,T,P’s too literally because your scenario is going to be totally different. Take that concept, but inject your own way of executing it, based on your terrain and situation.

              I might take a hard look at what a typical drill burns through at the VTC. Using that as a yard stick, plan what you might carry for a mission.

            • #122646
              Joe (G.W.N.S.)
              Moderator

                Something that factors highly into this discussion is what is the potential OPFOR?

                Are we talking armed criminal gang, evil cult militia, tyrannical government, or foreign invaders?

                Where this is happening?

                Did you get spotted by some porch sniper who fire a couple of rounds your way because you are tresspassing?

                Bump into some preper recon element trying to do the same thing you are?

                Recently activated Guard unit trying to restore order?

                What’s going on?

                Riots due to Trumps re-election?

                Disorder due to Trump impeachment? ;-)

                Full Socialist takeover?

                Having a little fun with my examples, but it does illustrate the point.

                Early days of some major disaster are quite a bit different than Red Dawn. :yes:

                Yet all of them need a recon of your AO.

              • #122655
                Andrew
                Participant

                  There is an old saying that; “The only time you can have too much ammo or fuel is if you are on fire.” Pretty sure that came from somebody in aviation, but there is some truth there.

                • #122664
                  wheelsee
                  Participant

                    There is an old saying that; “The only time you can have too much ammo or fuel is if you are on fire.” Pretty sure that came from somebody in aviation, but there is some truth there.

                    or a tanker…….

                  • #123730
                    First Sergeant
                    Moderator

                      SOG existed in a time and place that will never happen again. That is due to several reasons that I am not going to get into now.

                      Lessons learned from SOG and LRRP’s in Vietnam heavily influenced LRS units when they were first activated in the 80’s. Team size and composition, tactics, patrolling methods, Immediate Action Drills(Break Contact Drills) to name a few. Then lineage of the new LRS units was directly tied to the various LRP and LRRP companies from Vietnam and the early LRP companies in USAEUR.

                      One thing did change, the mission.

                      While SOG and LRRP’s were used to gather intelligence, they also conducted ambushes, raids and prisoner snatches. SOG also conducted sabotage missions(Project Eldest Son). That influenced the size of the teams they took out and their load out.

                      LRRP units used a 6 man team, SOG team size varied based on the mission and what the 1-0 preferred. The accounts that I have read say anywhere from 6 to 12. I think most ran with 8 man teams.

                      LRRP units decided on 6 man teams based on the first LRP units activated in USAEUR in the late 50’s. They experimented with teams as small as four and as large as eight. They figured out that 6 was a good balance between having enough people to fight and having a small enough team to hide and not be detected and to get the entire team on one helicopter. I think most of the European countries used 4 man teams. I know for sure the Germans did and I think the French did also. I think the Brits did the same, @Max can verify that.

                      The mission change I was talking about, it says so in the name of the new LRS units. Long Range Surveillance. The emphasis was on gathering intelligence and not being compromised. If you are compromised your mission is a complete failure. No more deliberate ambushes, raids or prisoner snatches.

                      One thing that a LRS Company team didn’t have was on call Tac Air. It was not in the mission profile due to the distances that we planned to operate at, which was 150 to 200 kilometers behind enemy lines.

                      The SOG and LRRP lessons learned still heavily influenced our ammo load out though. You had to have enough to get out of a fight but not have so much that you couldn’t carry it all. Our basic load was 420 rounds(14 magazines). That is double the basic load of a standard Infantryman, which is 210 rounds(7 magazines). On top of that in my ruck I carried seven 20 round magazines and 2 bandoleers of ammo still on stripper clips. So that was 560 rounds in magazines and another 280 on stripper clips for a total of 840 rounds. Think about how many magazines some of you go through on some of the drills at class. There is a reason we talk about slowing your rate of fire. We only trained to use full auto on one break contact drill that we used and that was only one magazines worth. Everything was done from semi auto to conserve ammo.

                      Then you have to take into account all of the sustainment gear that was carried. My ruck routinely weighed over 100 pounds. My belt kit weighed around 35 pounds or more. We wore no body armor and a helmet was an air item. That ain’t fighting light, but it was necessary due to the mission. The longer you are out the more sustainment gear you have to carry, the further away from the target you insert the longer it takes to get there, the more sustainment gear you have to carry, the colder the environment, the more sustainment gear you have to carry. Notice a pattern?

                      Somewhere I have a record of one of the jumps I did. They weighed us with a complete load out plus our parachutes before we got on the plane. If I remember right I weighed about 380 or 390 pounds.

                      How much ammo you carry is based on what your mission is. Most people have got so much extra shit strapped to their ass that they couldn’t even last a day carrying it.

                      There is an old saying that; “The only time you can have too much ammo or fuel is if you are on fire.” Pretty sure that came from somebody in aviation, but there is some truth there.

                      The quote I always heard was “The only time you can have to much ammo is when you are on fire or if you are on a sinking boat.”

                      FILO
                      Signal Out, Can You Identify
                      Je ne regrette rien
                      In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                    • #123753
                      Mike Q
                      Participant

                        Thanks First Sergeant.

                      • #123761
                        RobRoy
                        Participant

                          A few years ago I believe it was Diz who recced a couple books about Marine recon up about the DMZ, the two commanders of the outfits highest priorities were the men not so much the hardware. Both units though had fire support even if the arty was at its fringes and of course helo extraction, the one Marine was in love with the great men of the 101st.

                          About weight, what do the SMEs think of optics, specifically spotting scopes? I know in big game hunting a spotting scope saves miles even for the weight of the higher mag higher quality spotting scopes.

                        • #123845
                          First Sergeant
                          Moderator

                            A few years ago I believe it was Diz who recced a couple books about Marine recon up about the DMZ, the two commanders of the outfits highest priorities were the men not so much the hardware. Both units though had fire support even if the arty was at its fringes and of course helo extraction, the one Marine was in love with the great men of the 101st.

                            About weight, what do the SMEs think of optics, specifically spotting scopes? I know in big game hunting a spotting scope saves miles even for the weight of the higher mag higher quality spotting scopes.

                            Spotting scopes were part of our normal gear that we carried. They are invaluable.

                            FILO
                            Signal Out, Can You Identify
                            Je ne regrette rien
                            In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

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