Attention, FI-RE!

Hardware often gathers more attention than doctrine or training but without knowing those it becomes impossible to determine what is good or bad. Corporal Frisk has done good job at showcasing the hardware side of FDFs artillery park so I will not repeat what he said. You can go read about that here. Down below follows a short intro into Finnish artillery doctrine.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tykistö

Scratching the surface

 

Fires are in two categories, operational and tactical. Operational fires is also known as shaping fires abroad. It is affecting enemy’s key capabilities like C2, logistics, long range rocket launchers and so forth. Combining situational awareness and targeting is key part of operational fires to ensure as many enemy target as possible is taken into account so that they can be affected at the right time. Targets are divided into predetermined targets and situational targets. Predetermined targets follow a timetable whereas situational targets don’t have one. Targets can be either hard (MBTs for example), semi hard (IFVs) or soft (infantry) and mix of these. Units and systems used for operational fires include MLRS batteries, operational units’ artillery, EW units, target designation capable sensors and heavy artillery battalions capable of using special ammo from regional units.

 

Tactical fires is basically supporting troops in contact to ensure they can achieve their targets. Firing units used for tactical fires include mortars, regionals units’ artillery, light rocket launcher batteries, AT units, organic FOs, recce units, FO batteries and target designation capable sensors.

 

Artillery utilises dispersed firing positions which for long range artillery can take up to 10-15×30-40km area. Dispersion has both pros, cover, and cons, logistics and close security. Dispersion also fights against ages old principle of concentrated fires. Do we have more dispersed positions but make concentrating fires harder or employ tighter formations and face bigger counter-battery threat? In the future fewer guns might be needed to fire a mission and still cause as many casualties as with full battalions. This is enabled by longer range and increased accuracy. A four strong K9 unit with course correcting fuzes can inflict casualties equal to 18 strong 155 K 98 battalion. This off course doesn’t mean towed 155 K 98 couldn’t be used in batteries with CCFs to great effect.

 

Forward observers also face problems due to longer distances. This leads to less reliable radio connections and larger safety distances. The FO might not know what unit conducts the firing mission or where the said unit is. Forward deployment of artillery and FOs required by current doctrine can mean losing guns and/or crews before combat in the main combat zone. For concentrated heavy fires higher echelon firing units and special ammo can be used. Bonus allows destroying enemy armor with efficiency only matched by DPICMs. Artillery group HQ can conduct operations in two separate direction, for example take part in FDF joint operation and lead fires of a regional unit.

 

The parts above are mainly translations from the sources and below are my own thoughts about the subject.

 

Numbers are dwindling but technology is progressing. After all K9 have been imported there are over 200 artillery weapons capable of firing at distances of 30km or more. This makes for a considerable artillery park. Together with CCFs there is possibility that these numbers can yield much better results than they would with regular fuzes. If we move from using full battalions to batteries we can artificially triple the amount of firing units and to some degree their combat power as well. Any casualties against artillery force utilising precision and not mass will decrease its combat power drastically. We can consolidate batteries by merging them together to remedy casualties. Longer firing range is now more important than ever before, without being able to concentrate fire from several battalions into the same region we face the threat of simply not having enough combat power to deter and defend. As seen in Ukraine mass still has its place and therefore we need to have a good balance between mass and precision. One possible method of not quite breaking the eggs nor having the omelette would be to increase battery size to eight and battalion size to 24. Eight gun batteries were considered before but the main drawback is the difficulty of finding firing positions when using dispersed firing positions. Although apparently Col Pasivirta, FDFs inspector of artillery, has said that K9s will be organised into batteries of eight guns. K9s being capable of shoot&scoot don’t face the same problems with 8 gun batteries as towed guns would.

 

Sources:

Tykistö taistelee tulellaan

Tulikomentoja 1/2018

Picture by Valtteri Nevalainen

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