King of Battle- Part 1

I was a grunt, so it pains me to admit this, but the greatest killer on the battlefield wasn’t the infantry, nor even armor, but artillery. Since it is such a dominant force on the battlefield, we fell obliged to devote some attention to it. The press of other issues has kept us from going whole hog into it but here’s a taste.

One of the problems facing artillerymen today is collateral damage. The US can ill afford to miss its targets, lest we be blamed for slaughtering a “wedding party” (which seem to have a large number of military aged males but no women, and not a casserole dish in sight).¬† That is one reason we’ve seen so many airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan- because they can use precision munitions. Artillery has had a laser guided round for decades, but it was horribly¬† expensive and not terribly destructive. It was also laborious to use.

Now, in the age of GPS and very small inertial guidance systems, a cheap guided round is a reality.


5 thoughts on “King of Battle- Part 1”

  1. When I read Tommy Franks’s memoirs about being a Div. Artillery commander in Europe, and his buying CB radios (at an Army PX in Germany? The Germans weren’t miffed at the new frequency plan? Command was worried about vacationing RVs having a front seat for WW Next?) to link his units better I wondered wether that was a good thing or was that like buying a big homing beacon to let the Czechs keep better track of him.
    How does the “King” decide how stealthy to be and how available to the battle to be?

    If they are making a Stryker Gun system, is there any thought to a Bradley version or is the current SP Artillery able to keep up?

  2. In the context of the current Georgian disagreement, remember the traditional Russian perspective (and that means Soviet & Russian, & Georgian) A tradition going back tothe thirteenth century. “Collateral casualties” is not a bug, it is a product enhancement. That is not the American way, but none of them are Americans.

  3. Rurik, I intend to address the Soviet approach to artillery if I can ever get around to writing a more in depth post on arty. Let’s just say that the approach has the same regard for mass as their view on maneuver.

  4. Actually, PJ, let me address your question right now. The Stryker Mobile Gun System is NOT artillery. It is a direct fire weapon system, designed to hit targets within the line of sight. Typical targets would be enemy armor, bunkers or a single building. Artillery is an indirect fire weapon, where typically, the firing piece can’t even see the target. They lob the shells onto targets located for them by others. Artillery also tends to be an area weapon, attacking say, a group of vehicles, troops in the open, or a series of enemy positions (such as THEIR artillery).

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