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Winter Warfare Tactics

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  • #54807
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    This thread has been started after a great discussion started by @johnnymac on winter warfare which brought up lots of great gear considerations:

    Winter Warfare

    This thread will not be about gear, it will be about how the winter conditions affect your leadship decision making, your unit, and your ability to conduct missions. This will be primarily exemplified by the Finnish performance against the Russians in the Winter War of 1939-40 at the outset of World War II in the area of Ladoga Karelia.

    The Finns are especially relatable to us for a couple salient reasons:
    – Finland was invaded by Russia with Russia being the clearly larger and higher budget outfit.
    – Finnish fighters were all volunteers defending their ethnic and cultural homeland. Morale was on their side.
    – Finns did not employ or possess significant artillery
    – Vehicle use by the Finns was almost nonexistent at The Front
    – Finns demonstrated very well what great training, familiarity to the AO, and smart tactics can accomplish. Proper fundamentals.
    – The most effective defense strategy was actually offensive in operation and tactics. Some land was conceded by the end of the war, but overall the Finns repelled the Russian advance and maintained their sovereignty.

    For all of us here, chances are you resemble a similar dynamic. You’re planning a defense of your life, values, land, etc. and expecting a larger and better funded outside force coming in and trying to take over.

    For those of you who may hold a belief that you will not “fire unless fired upon” to defend yourself make sure you understand what level you’re thinking at. Strategic – Operational – Tactical. Attacking the opposing force to prevent them attacking you can be defensive – counteroffensive sound familiar? Think of it like the Jab in boxing: an offensive punch is thrown but its purpose is to keep the other guy at a certain distance and limit his ability to strike you while keeping your other hand up for protection. Throw enough jabs, keep the opponent far enough away, and he can’t hurt you. You won’t win with any single punch but eventually you’ll force a favorable decision. Same Strategy employed by the Finns although mostly out of necessity since they did not have many other tools or options!

    Going along with the boxing jab analogy, this is a very simple movement but most effective when thrown proactively at proper angles and timings. Simply standing in front of the opponent and throwing single punches won’t get you much. It must be done with movement, precision, and timing to stop the advance of the opponent. Same thing goes for Winter Warface Tactics. If the Finns had taken the Russians head on at any point (and they did try, a little bit) they faced certain defeat due to the superior numbers and armament of the Russians. Instead they attacked from the flank in short bursts at the right points and at the right time ultimately forcing the Russians to abandon this offensive.

    Edit: Here’s a basic animation of how the plan works.

    In the following posts I will catalog in greater detail how Winter Warfare affects your unit and subsequently your mission planning as a leader.

    *I’m not historian and this is not a historical account. Don’t get lost in the history sauce.

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54836
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Consideration 1/3: Supply

    Before you move your unit anywhere first you must know what they require to sustain themselves. This goes to not only gear but also food, water, and particular to Winter Warfare, heat.

    There are many personal winter specific gear requirements as brought up in the various contributions to @johnnymac‘s Winter Warefare thread:

    Winter Warfare


    Your troops will need all of these things and without them little problems can spiral into big problems.

    In the case of the Russo-Finnish Winter War, the Russians entered the war ill equipped for a sustained winter fight. Russian infantry was not sent out with proper cold weather gear in an environment where temps were sustained -35°C (-31°F). The expectation of quick advance could have provided shelter for Russian troops had they succeeded. Instead they were forced to manually dig positions for themselves and their vehicles along the roads they became trapped on.

    Russian Infantry also had no ability to maneuver without their vehicles. Of course, this particular winter happens to bring meters of snow along with the severe cold. Compound the snow and cold with the fact that this is a heavily wooded area and vehicles become quickly relegated to roads. This forces the Russians to move in a column on a known route making them easy to attack, cut-off, and isolate. The Russians did employ the Red Air Force for supply drops but it was basically their only option and often forced them to patrol on foot through the snow outside their defensive positions to recover the supply drop. As stated before the Russians were not equipped for this. They did not have even have proper clothing nevermind skis, sleds, or snowshoes like the Finns. The Finns were able to maintain regular patrols while the Russians sat in dug in positions on the road. This is a major operational disparity!

    Calorie intake in winter is elevated due to higher levels of exertion for personal movement (trudging through the snow, heavier gear, etc.) and your body is trying to generate heat. Not only is having food important but so is having the right food. The Finnish people consumed a high fat and high protein diet giving them lots of calories capable of sustaining the soldiers. Russians wrote in their journals about having tea, 30g biscuits, and eating horses they were trapped in their positions with. Of course Russian rations were severely limited because their logistics had been cut off. Imagine asking a man to do something for you while you’re feeding him 1 cup of tea, a single 30g biscuit, and barely a hotdog size piece of horsemeat daily while he’s sitting outside in -35°F temps with no jacket getting shot at. Think that guy is going to be motivated to do anything for you?

    As a leader all of this compounds into a bit of a morale problem. All your troops are now in foreign territory, freezing, hungry, isolated, and under fire all while asking themselves “why am I doing this?”. Their priorities may shift a bit from listening to your orders and simply getting fed. The Russians somewhat famously did this and earned an alternate nickname for the Winter War as the Sausage War. Story goes that the Russians attacked a Finnish position very successfully and broke through into their depth. Upon doing so they literally followed the smell to a Finnish mess area where the cooks had just finished preparing a batch of sausage. The whole attack was halted while the Russians ate the captured food instead of capitalizing on the initiative and potentially generating a major victory.

    As a commander you must keep this in mind! Without proper supply your troops may be so hungry, thirsty, or cold that they will just decide not to continue! There goes your orders, there goes your attack/defense, there goes your entire plan. Your entire unit is now combat ineffective. Napoleon Bonaparte is famously credited with saying “An army marches on its stomach”. Make sure the boys are fed before heading out.

    To the contrary, your supply points become ever more important to project in Winter Warfare for exactly the reasons enumerated above. If the enemy is able to isolate, capture, or destroy your own ability to supply your troops you become much more vulnerable than other times of year. Where the average human may be able to go 30 days in fair weather without food imagine you now have half that time due to Winter – assuming they have water and sources of heat.

    In comparison to fair weather you will need to arrange your battle plan with extra pre-programmed stops for troops to eat, drink, and warm themselves. This shortens your available time for maneuver through the day and requires extra supplies to either be ferried or carried – preferably ferried. It would be impossible to load up your troops with their life on their back, head out early in the morning with the plan of marching until dark, and have no supply line to the rear. In Winter conditions that’s an invitation for malnutrition, hypothermia, and morale problems. Because of the increased caloric requirements and the fact that you’re now moving slower more time is elapsing which means more meals are being consumed. A summertime 5 day march may now take 15 days.

    Here’s an example maneuver outline of an actual Finnish vs. Russian encounter. Quiz time – which side would you rather be on?

    Overall, having supplies of food, gear, water, and heat are critical to your battle plan. It is important to know their rate of consumption as this will often dictate the limit of your advance before you even head out. It’s probably a lot shorter than you think.

    Further information with regards to what effect Supply has directly on battle plans will come in the Movements section of this post.

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54838
    Profile photo of lovemygear
    lovemygear
    Participant

    My old boss (18 series O-6) and I had a conversation about dismounted troop movements in winter. The main topic was movement in deep snow.

    For background: during his career he was both a light infantry platoon leader in Alaska and a Company Commander of a light infantry company that was either attached or assigned to NATO that trained extensively in Norway and Sweden, he was also a team leader in 10 SFG (A). He was also an accomplished skier (both downhill and cross country.)

    His opinion was that it is much more effective for troops to move on snowshoes than on cross country skies. He stated in his experience it takes too much time and experience for the average Soldier to become a proficient enough skier to be effective militarily. Exception would be Soldiers (such as Finns mentioned above) who bring skiing experience with them.

    Something to consider for groups who plan to maneuver/patrol in areas where deep snow can be common. What will be your primary method of travel? Skis or snowshoes? Will you pull sleds? Have you trained with the gear? From personal experience my movement rates, exhaustion points and ability to maneuver are greatly impacted by snowshoes.

    #54850
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    My old boss (18 series O-6) and I had a conversation about dismounted troop movements in winter. The main topic was movement in deep snow.

    For background: during his career he was both a light infantry platoon leader in Alaska and a Company Commander of a light infantry company that was either attached or assigned to NATO that trained extensively in Norway and Sweden, he was also a team leader in 10 SFG (A). He was also an accomplished skier (both downhill and cross country.)

    His opinion was that it is much more effective for troops to move on snowshoes than on cross country skies. He stated in his experience it takes too much time and experience for the average Soldier to become a proficient enough skier to be effective militarily. Exception would be Soldiers (such as Finns mentioned above) who bring skiing experience with them.

    Something to consider for groups who plan to maneuver/patrol in areas where deep snow can be common. What will be your primary method of travel? Skis or snowshoes? Will you pull sleds? Have you trained with the gear? From personal experience my movement rates, exhaustion points and ability to maneuver are greatly impacted by snowshoes.

    That has been my experience as well.

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #54861
    Profile photo of RobRoy
    RobRoy
    Participant

    My experience in cold weather, I hunt out of a primitive camp (shipping container) with very little heat and some years the temps for the entire week ranged from 0 – 25 degrees with varying winds. I eat like wolf with plenty of fats and some carbs, sleep in two bags and after a week of miles of still hunting and hiking I lose about 5 to 10 lbs.

    Another thing is water, some nights the shipping container is not ventilated enough to vent out all the moisture from my breath. You won’t believe how much water you exhale in 10 hours under no exertion. Warm water is my friend, and lots of it.

    #54862
    Profile photo of RobRoy
    RobRoy
    Participant

    If you understand German and you have some MBTs and armored fighting vehicles this is kind of related to Finnish tactics
    http://www.snafu-solomon.com/2018/01/bundeswehr-exercises-on-lithuanias.html

    #54882
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Consideration 2/3: Logistics

    Google provides the military definition of Logistics as: “the organization of moving, housing, and supplying troops and equipment”.

    Winter weather is notoriously unpredictable and especially problematic as it impairs the ability to move. A surprise rain storm in July is not nearly as problematic as a surprise blizzard in January. If you’re the guys on The Front and you need to maintain your high caloric food and fuel requirements then getting those supplies to you is extra important and extra risky.

    Having clear supply routes is a major concern of any unit. It would be impossible to sustain a position without the ability to move reinforcements, food, fuel, munitions, and communications. For the Russians in the Winter War this was exactly the challenge they faced. With their trucks and tanks the Russians were relegated to plowed roads and unable to navigate the plentiful and surrounding wooded areas. This really limits their options for logistics and makes them easy targets. Once those road routes are cut off their are no other options.

    The supply drops by the Red Air Force mentioned previously were a problem because it meant the Russians had to leave their positions, which in fact themselves were often determined by the closest cluster of supplies. If you could figure out where the Russian supplies were stuck you could figure out where the Russian troops would be because without any significant ability to move they had to stay there to survive.

    Not only were the Russians running out of food and water, but also fuel. As they are using trucks and tanks they need fuel to run, obviously. Without the ability to refuel their vehicles the advance would halt even if the troops were perfectly fed and equipped. The Russians eventually did run out of fuel and were forced to dig their tanks into berms for defensive positions. This was effective at warding off any large scale Finnish attacks but it was still a stationary defensive position! It would not last as the people manning it got picked off by the Finnish troops and lack of resupply. To great effect the Finns used snipers to slowly pick apart Russian defenders and disable heavy equipment without destroying it.

    Conversely, the Finns did not use vehicles for their movements. The Finns used skis, sleds, and showshoes to great effect to make their positions mobile and inaccessible to the Russians. They were much faster at maneuvering and usually literally out of reach. The effect this had was that the Finns were able to move not only their troops but also their supplies with little recourse from the Russians. All they had to do to keep their supplies safe was keep sections of woods between their supplies and the Russians. Transporting supplies was over wooded terrain was relatively simple since there was no significant need for fuel or artillery munitions. Thankfully for the Finns the Ladoga region is not particularly mountainous, just wooded, so cross country skiing is a relatively simple undertaking.

    The fact that the Finns did not need fuel or roads meant that even if the Russians could stop a single route the Finns could go any direction they wanted instead. There was no large, local Finnish fuel supply depot to attack (usually a key target) so that eliminates a big option for the Russians. Without artillery or vehicles the Finns needed way less supplies to conduct their Small Unit operations. To isolate the Finns in any significant manner and cut off their logistics would require huge swaths of land to be captured and held around the Finns. That would be impossible because the Russians would outrun their resupplies and end up isolating themselves. Inability to do this meant the Finns could stay well clothed, fed, and armed in the woods surrounding the Russians while they froze, starved, and ran out of ammo on the roads.

    As a leader, considering your supply routes and ability to resupply are very important. Not only do you need to secure your actual supplies but also your ability to move them. Without supplies your unit itself will not be able to move so you must have a steady supply. Moving into an area that will pose a significant risk to being cut off from resupply and/or communication with your rear is extremely precarious in Winter. That’s asking for Murphy to dump a trifecta of hell on your unit. This can easily come in the form of terrain, weather, and/or distance. Moving your unit too far away from its supply lines in Winter, especially with a terrain feature between you, and especially in inclement weather, is in fact the trifecta of frozen hell. You and your unit will be cut off while simultaneously vulnerable to the elements and enemy attack, with no significant ability to move or repel either of them, and likely no ability to communicate with friendly forces to coordinate support – if they can even get to you!

    Returning to the image from the previous post:

    The answer is that you want to be the blue team (the Finns) in that picture. Reasons being:
    – Two roads available to the rear for maintained supply/support
    – Waterway between your line and the Russians
    – Russian tanks and vehicles can’t cross the river but Finnish skis and sleds can.
    – The single column road the Russians are on is surrounded by wooded areas available for exploit by the Finns – as displayed by their flank maneuvers.

    This tactic should look very familiar to all who have taken a CTT (HEAT 1) or higher level class. Flank maneuvers are great but in winter they with some caveats. Caption from the photo source:
    “This tactic required plowed supply routes to the units making the attack. If an attack was to be conducted in the same day, 5 km [3.1 mi] (depending of course also from the terrain) was the practical limit for a flanking maneuver.
    If a sufficient force could be sent, adequately supplied, could be given the opportunity to rest before the attack and surprise achieved, this was a very effective tactic.”

    A critical error as a leader would be to advance too far beyond logistics support. Without logistics your ability to conduct a battle is basically moot. You may start with the wrong things, but if you can’t get the right things in a timely manner your movement will grind to a halt – at best.

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54934
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Consideration 3/3: Movements

    All of this talk about Gear, Supplies, and Logistics boils down to decisions about battle plans. How are you going to move your troops most effectively? How will you attack the enemy? What do you need to defend?

    Starting at the lowest level, your men are now weighed down with winter gear and trudging through snow. They are physically slower and unable to sustain movement – cardio anyone? This means that your battle plans must now be much simpler and shorter (literal distance) than summer counterparts. You may have been able to get away with a dismounted assault on an enemy position 3 miles away from your base with an initial assault, flank maneuver, and depth maneuver all in one day in summer time. To do that now in Winter, in that timeframe, at that distance, would be extremly difficult.

    The reasons for difficulty in that maneuver in Winter are numerous. That maneuver is dangrous enough in warm weather as each time you move your troops in another direction it creates a weak point in your line. Each weak point is an opportunity for sections of your unit to be cut off. The boys are not moving as quickly as summertime and so now maneuvers don’t quite work the same as they used to. The defenders can still track, shoot, and communicate at the same speed but your unit can not move as quickly. Gear and weather make it more likely your unit will get bogged down, have equipment issues, and end up in a flailing mess.

    Winter makes maneuvers much higher risk because of the Gear, Supply, and Logistics importance. What may be a relatively short 3 mi from base in summer now might as well be an ocean with snow on the ground. What happens when you’re on this operation and all of a sudden inclement weather moves in? PFC Dipshit forgot his gloves, Private Pyle left his sleeping bag at base camp, and Cadet Tiger didn’t bring a jacket. Sending a runner could giveaway your position and you don’t have access to airdrops or vehicle support. Hypothermia sets in and you can not exfil quickly. Now your unit is a sitting, freezing duck waiting to be cut off from your rear. Your options are now either go full bore and attack without support in bad weather, wait it out and leave the enemy alive to discover you while Private Dipshit loses hands to frostbite, or wander back in the dark in bad weather.

    This all means your movements will need to be much simpler and much shorter. In the case of the Russians and Finns, the Finns opted to attack from the flanks but they did so generally with short lunges at carefully chosen points in the Russian column. There was no second maneuver, no depth positions. This simple approach minimized risk and maximized resource consumption in a lot of ways. It also made sure they have a strong, secure supply line available to their rear at all times.

    Being that the Finns were the smaller and weaker force this was great MANagement – very efficient use and conservation of manpower. This was also a relatively low energy tactic in comparison to some kind of big power-punch requiring loads of manpower, coordination, fuel (gasoline or otherwise), and firepower! Logistics, supply, and support were easy to keep secure. They were always at the Finns rear with little threat of cutoff. These singular lunges also meant there was less risk of Murphy getting involved. Because the forces remain relatively consolidated there is less chance of a unit flailing off somewhere on the flank needing rescue. All forces are consolidated and moving in the same direction making momentum easier to maintain. If anything went wrong they could either call back for help or go back out the way they came with reasonable expectation of safety.

    Originally this was by accident, but eventually on purpose and became known as “Motti” tactics. Motti is a Finnish word most notably defined as “one cubit meter of firewood” – the Finns were chopping the Russian column apart. Each isolated position would come to be loosely referred to as a Motti. Pictoral representation of that statement:

    The points chosen in the Russian column were often supply points – kitchens, communications, horse carriages (transport as well as eventually food), and then onto the harder targets like machine guns, trucks, tanks, and artillery. The Finns attacked the positions that would most amplify their effect disrupting life for the people in these positions.

    The Russians were able to dig in and mount strong defenses due to superior firepower but had no ability to counduct counter offensives. Because the Finns attacked perpendicular to the Russian line their logistic support was pretty secure. To disrupt the Finnish logistics would require Russian troop movements to the flanks, away from their supplies and/or the road – unsustainable. This was a very smart, and important advantage to the Finns.

    Once the Russian positions were isoalted into Mottis they relied on air drop resupply. The Finns used this to their advantage to get Russians to leave their base and venture into the wilderness. There the Finns would literally hunt down the Russians attempting to gather resupply. The Finns didn’t allow anybody into the Mottis but they did let people out. Eventually the force inside the Mottis would be picked apart and widdled down to the point that they can no longer man their artillery, tanks, or positions effectively. This now puts them on a level that the Finnish forces can handle with a full attack for final destruction.

    The Finns were able to identify which points in the Russian line were key points because of their ability to conduct effective patrols. Their ability to gather information was unencumbered by the Russians. The Finns could see in but the Russians could not see out. Without the ability to patrol any unit will be made obsolete rather quickly.

    In a case like this where you’re isolating a force snipers become powerful tools. Every person in that isolated position is ever more valuable and the ability to take one away with the low expense of a single rifle round is huge. Without artillery or anti-tank munitions of your own you may not be able to destroy the position but you can certainly take out the guy operating it. Don’t worry about disabling the tank, just kill the driver. The Finns did practice this to good effect.

    Overall, the idea behind Winter Warfare Tactics is keep things short and simple. The distance you can move from your supplies is much shorter. The speed and complexity with which you can move is greatly decreased. Maximize your effect on the men in the position rather than all out destruction.

    There will be 1 more post in this series to complete the thread. Pictures Pictures Pictures!

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54948
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    Mobile quick post:

    Competence in winter warfare can be achieved theough training, as shown by the Norwegian army and training by, among others, elements of the British army on the northern flank of NATO. This was specialized in by the Royal Marines.

    You need a truly winter environment to make cross country skiing practical. Using cross country skiis you can be highly mobile even with pack/pulk. RM even have specialist tracked vehicles (BVs) behind which they can tow a squad on skis by rope.

    Cross country skiing (langlauf) is an excellent means of mobility in a true snow environment. You would need to carry snow shoes for any dismounted assaults. It is not a James Bond movie and you will not be skiing downhill at the enemy firing from the hip!

    This of course requires training, PT, and a suitable arctic environment.

    #54952
    Profile photo of Robert
    Robert
    Participant

    Great thread!

    Doing this regularly in the snow would truly suck.

    www.jrhenterprises.com
    RMP, TC3, NODF, CRCD 6/14, CP 9/14. NODF, Land Nav, 6/15. Rifleman Challenge 9/15- Vanguard. FOFtactics 3/16, 10/16, 11/16, 6/17,11/17 CTT, 6/15, 11/16, , LRMC-1 9/17 GA Mobile CTT and DA 10/16, GA mobile DCH 3/18, HEAT1 3/18 Alum weekend 8/18, Opfor CLC 10/18, DA 11/18 CQBC 12/18

    #54963
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Tactical Explanation

    With all of the aforementioned in mind the raw tactical plans being used do not look much different from summer time. You can still use flanks, pincers, Mottis, tactical retreats, fire support teams, etc. The main difference is that you must conduct these operations with a lifeline back to your supplies. Take note of all of the tactical outlines below.

    Key:
    Blue = Finns
    Red = Russians

    Flank Attack against deployed enemy:

    This is the most basic tactical concept employed at various level of troop management. In winter this does require a large supply vein to the rear – denoted by the thicker blue arrow. This is a single, strong, multi-unit flank. Once the attack point on the flank is reached the forces deploy against the enemy column.

    Pincer Attack:

    Reliant on high mobility! Flank arms must also be kept to shorter distances. Each flank arm can be a smaller unit in comparison to a single strong, multi-unit, single flank maneuver as shown above. Germans would use this tactic to great effect across Europe.

    Breakthrough Attack:

    This attack is rarer, more of an opportunistic move, and requires more power behind it due to the straight forward nature. Timing for this would be if your enemy puts much stronger forces on the ends of their line to protect against flank attacks. You attack the middle and cut off the enemy’s supply to their stronger end forces, eventually nearly surrounding them.

    Keep in mind the overall goal is to break the enemy up and pick him apart – not all out destruction. You don’t have the firepower for that. If your tactical plans succeed the result should look something like this:

    Various enemy sections (Mottis), isolated, unable to support eachother or resupply.

    What you will notice in all of these diagrams is the Finns maintain connection to their rear at all times. The blue lines always lead right back the heart of their force – big artery roads providing supplies to the strong point being distributed by the veins of flank lines to forward troops.

    Moral of the story: Throw the jab.

    If you would like to learn more about the Russo-Finnish Winter War and look at some of the sources for this info:
    http://www.winterwar.com/Tactics/FINtactics.htm

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54964
    Profile photo of RampantRaptor
    rampantraptor
    Participant

    I had two Finnish guys in my unit, both good guys. I admire that Finland accepts the limitations of their budget and population and (smartly) has an entire military trained and prepared to revert to guerrilla warfare rather than trying to meet their adversaries (okay, Russia) head-on.

    #RaqqaSummer2017
    - - -
    Jîn, Jiyan, Azadî

    #54969
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    Mobile quick post: the Russian / Finnish example is an interesting tactical study from which lessons can be learned.

    However, do not let it situate your thinking. A ‘Winter Warfare’ situation will not always be so specific, and may not even inbolve a snow/arctic environment.

    Back to your mission olanning, terrain/weather is a factor as part of that. You ask yourself ‘So What?’ In order to make deductions from the factors. You can apply this to the Finnish example. You can apply it to any winter situation to shape your planning based on the tactical effect of environmental conditions.

    In many cases it comes back to the same thing winter or summer: you need logistical support and tactical mobility. You cannot plan without Intel / Recon. Ammunition (supplies) forward, casualties rear, in suitable vehicles.

    #54970
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    #54971
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    #54972
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    #54974
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    #54975
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    A couple of quotes for emphasis.

    A ‘Winter Warfare’ situation will not always be so specific, and may not even involve a snow/arctic environment.

    In many cases it comes back to the same thing winter or summer: you need logistical support and tactical mobility. You cannot plan without Intel / Recon. Ammunition (supplies) forward, casualties rear, in suitable vehicles.

    The questions asked are the same regardless of season, only the answers are different!

    Note the mention of “Intel/Recon” by Max. Haphazard Intel will cost lives, Recon updates and fills in the blanks of Intel.

    Weather is a the most overlooked part of planning for the inexperienced.

    Weather can greatly assist the underdog, it grounds air support to include drones, degrades advanced sensors, limits vehicle/armor, quiets terrain, masks noise, covers up signs of movement.

    #54984
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    You guys bring up some good points, some of which I am curious about myself but unqualified to answer properly. How does inclement winter weather affect function/use of:
    – Modern Drone ISR
    – FLIR
    – NOD use and practical range

    Note, these are tools to aid proper patrolling fundamentals. If the weather limits your standoff distance (how far away you can observe from) you will be more reliant on principles to get close and gather information.

    @firstsergeant posted a great .pdf a while back about the modern Ukraine v. Russia and there was some great info about modern drone usage. Don’t recall anything thing specific about weather considerations for them.

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #54996
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Here is some information already discussed.

    Weather considerations UAS (FMI 3-04.155):

    Weather conditions must be at or above those minimums prescribed for specific AOR‘s. The appropriate authority can waive these requirements.

    Weather/ UAS/ UAS Sensors
    Icing/ No deicing/anti-icing capability/ N/A
    Crosswinds greater than 15 kts/ Exceeds operational capabilities/ N/A
    High winds at altitude greater than 50 kts/ Creates dangerous flying conditions/ N/A
    Light rain/ UAS can operate/ N/A
    Heavy rain 2 inches or more per hour/ UAS cannot operate/ Poor, unusable imagery
    Fog and low clouds/ UAS can operate, but increases the risk to the UA during takeoffs/landings/ Cannot Penetrate heavy fog/clouds

    Additional thoughts on Weather and Terrain:

    Avalanche areas make great defenses, with some appropriate study avalanche areas can be groomed to increase effect.

    Areas prone to mudslides when supersaturated can be manipulated, water doesn’t compress.

    Flash flood zones can be historically predicted.

    Wind and rain mask sound, hooded OPFOR reduce sight and hearing even more.

    FM 34-130
    Combine the evaluation of the effects of terrain, weather, and the other characteristics of the battlefield into one integrated product. Do not focus on the factors that lead to your conclusions. Instead, focus on the total environment’s effects on COAs available to both friendly and threat forces.

    Electronics in general need lithium batteries which perform better in cold, if you are stuck with standard rechargeable batteries, fabricating a extension cord to keep batteries inbetween coat and body. Even lithium perform poorly if cold enough.

    #54997
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator
    #55004
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    Another factor not mentioned is daylight. The days were very short, I think I remember reading something like 5.5 hours of daylight. This was during a time where nightvision didn’t exist. Some effects:
    -Further mitigated Russia’s air capability, especially with respect to observation.
    -Discouraged the russian troops even further from patrolling off the road into the forest
    -Less sunlight = decreased morale in general

    #55016
    Profile photo of Trailman
    trailman
    Participant

    Mobile quick post: the Russian / Finnish example is an interesting tactical study from which lessons can be learned.

    However, do not let it situate your thinking. A ‘Winter Warfare’ situation will not always be so specific, and may not even inbolve a snow/arctic environment.

    Back to your mission olanning, terrain/weather is a factor as part of that. You ask yourself ‘So What?’ In order to make deductions from the factors. You can apply this to the Finnish example. You can apply it to any winter situation to shape your planning based on the tactical effect of environmental conditions.

    In many cases it comes back to the same thing winter or summer: you need logistical support and tactical mobility. You cannot plan without Intel / Recon. Ammunition (supplies) forward, casualties rear, in suitable vehicles.

    I think Max makes a point here and that’s the what if and the ubiquitous it all depends. Most of these examples seem to be Army’s fighting against each other. Even the Finnish Russian example. So how do you adapt small units, patrolling and tactics to winter is the question. Someone here took a ruck in the virgin snow, I assume you looked at your back trail and could tell that anyone could figure out where you came from and where you are going. (Back in the day we caught an arson that way, followed his trail right to his house) How do you compensate for that. Wooded environment? Any deer hunter knows hunting the snow is the bomb. High contrast and high visibility in the woods gives you line of sight for hundreds of yards if not miles. Its winter here in MD just like everywhere else, the other night I think it was 3 degrees out and not a lick of snow. I think it’s one thing to know the good guys are over here and the bad guys are over there and another to run small group patrols undetected and still effective in a small scale conflict environment. That’s what I constantly try and wrap my head around for my area in the winter.

    CRM, CTT 1501, CP11/15, CTT5/16, FoF, DCH, CLC Opfor, Team Minion

    Just remember, Anne Frank was a criminal because the government made her one and she died because she broke the law.

    #55068
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    You guys bring up some good points, some of which I am curious about myself but unqualified to answer properly. How does inclement winter weather affect function/use of:
    – Modern Drone ISR
    – FLIR
    – NOD use and practical range

    Note, these are tools to aid proper patrolling fundamentals. If the weather limits your standoff distance (how far away you can observe from) you will be more reliant on principles to get close and gather information.

    @firstsergeant posted a great .pdf a while back about the modern Ukraine v. Russia and there was some great info about modern drone usage. Don’t recall anything thing specific about weather considerations for them.

    Really no difference during the winter. Biggest consideration is the current weather. Is it snowing? That is going to reduce the capabilities of drones, unless they are an all weather platform.

    Cameras will be whited out. Thermals work even better I think because the background is even colder.

    The only issues with NOD’s is again the current weather. Rain can cut down on the range, same as snow. You run into the same thing we always talk about with NOD’s, do I really need them? Go outside at night after it has snowed. How well can you see? Probably pretty damned good because all that white reflects light.

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #59260
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Came across this clip from the movie “The Unknown Soldier”, a depiction of the Finnish defense against the Russians in the Winter War. Overall, clips of this movie appear to be extremely realistic. Band of Brothers, The Pacific kind of realism.

    English subtitles:
    0:03 Rokka: “Oh perkele, what a scheme!”
    0:06 Rokka: “They sent their guys to go round. What a hell of an instinct I got.”
    0:40 Rokka: “C’moon, get here already. What’s taking you so long?”
    1:00 Rokka: “The full mags are in the backpack.”
    1:05 Rokka: “I empty them and you fill them. Put the full mags in their own pile, so they don’t get mixed up.”
    1:11 Rokka: “Be quite calm, I am calm too. We have no worry here. Those there will soon be in trouble, not us.”
    1:21 Rokka: “If you can sing, hum something, it keeps the spirits up. Think whatever crazy thoughts. They’re nice in a spot like this. That’s how you manage a strategy for the mind.”
    1:37 Rokka: “The officer first. When the shadow of his head reaches that little twig, then the Grim Reaper comes for him. That’s how I’ve decided for him. And with that, the others will start getting it too.”
    1:51 Rokka: “You don’t know what’s waiting you.”
    1:54 Rokka: “Soon you will see how the Lord calls His own. If they have sinned anyhow, then forgive them, Heavenly Father. But be quick, they’re going to start coming to You right now!”
    3:22 Rokka: “Where are you going?”
    3:23 Sihvonen: “Nowhere!”
    3:24 Rokka: “Stay where you are, then. Mags run out!”
    3:33 Rokka: “That perkele there is behind that fir! You perkele won’t fool Antero Rokka! Saatana! Aaaaaaaah! Perkele! Aaaaaah!”

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #59295
    Profile photo of John D
    John D
    Participant

    The movie is based on a book by Väinö Linna called Tuntematon Sotilas, if someone needs new reading material

    #64914
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Reviving and adding useful info:

    Snowshoes

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #65021
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    Former Brit soldier sues UK Army for $190,000…

    …nobody warned Asiamah to wear proper boots and socks for the exercise, and when he complained about his feet getting numb, his commander told him to carry on.

    …the 18-hour drill, which was conducted in cold and windy weather, left him experiencing numbness and pain in his limbs. He still feels the lasting effect of the injury, which has prevented him from becoming a PE instructor. He cannot leave his home if temperatures drop below 15 degrees Celsius because this would aggravate his symptoms

    They don’t make ’em like they used to.

    #65024
    Profile photo of RobRoy
    RobRoy
    Participant

    Former Brit soldier sues UK Army for $190,000…

    …nobody warned Asiamah to wear proper boots and socks for the exercise, and when he complained about his feet getting numb, his commander told him to carry on.

    …the 18-hour drill, which was conducted in cold and windy weather, left him experiencing numbness and pain in his limbs. He still feels the lasting effect of the injury, which has prevented him from becoming a PE instructor. He cannot leave his home if temperatures drop below 15 degrees Celsius because this would aggravate his symptoms

    They don’t make ’em like they used to.

    I froze my hands in Twenty Nine Palms, CA one January in 1983 and I still have a small effect to this day, damn weird thing to see one’s fingers unmovable.

    #65025
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    I froze my hands…

    Frostbite is a common medical condition with objective findings matching its well-known anatomical and physiological basis.

    Raynaud’s Disease is an uncommon medical condition with objective findings matching its well-known anatomical and physiological basis, and is NOT caused by exposure to cold.

    Non-Freezing Cold Injury is a very uncommon, non-anatomical, non-physiological, subjective complaint found almost exclusively in malingering Africans seeking disability payments from the UK Army.

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