Page 62 - Australian Defence Magazine September 2018
P. 62

“While IFV fight with tanks
and infantry in a symbiotic relationship, IFV are not tanks and should not be misconstrued as a replacement for them.”
Transporters and trailers to enhance Ar- my’s road transport assets.
Likewise, the M1 tank is transportable via the ADF’s C-17 Globemaster aircraft. The strategic airlift capability of the C-17 has been demonstrated operationally nu- merous times. In 2003 C-17s lifted five M1 tanks and five M2 IFVs from Germany to an airfield behind enemy lines in Iraq. In Afghanistan they deployed a Canadian Army 15 tank armoured squadron and an armoured engineer troop and a 17 tank USMC tank company in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Australia’s own C-17s have also demonstrated this capability lifting
Further, the Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious ships provide the ability to lift much larger quanti- ties of land forces between ports. These ships, complemented by the Landing Ship Dock (LSD) HMAS Choules, each have the ability to lift over a squadron of tanks at a time, as well as the personnel, stores and equipment to crew, support and sustain them.
As the Australian amphibious system matures the intro- duction of more and more capable ship to shore connectors and Army watercraft, such as envisioned under project Land 8710 Phase One, will provide greater flexibility to trans-
port AFVs in riverine and coastal settings. The tank is the most tactically mo- bile ground combat vehicle in the
ADF’s inventory.
The tank is deployable domestically, re-
gionally and globally by the ADF.
Third, the tank has the highest level of physical protection of any ground combat vehicle. Neither the ASLAV nor M113 have sufficient protection to accompany infantry onto an objective in a high threat environment and are at increased risk when providing static fire support. The limitations of lightly protected vehicles in
the latter role are highlighted below:
“Based on the effects of fire from an RPG [rocket propelled grenade] that landed close to an ASLAV, an impact from that round would have caused significant damage... When these munitions were fired at the overwatch position, our vehicles were forced to move to avoid being hit, often leaving dismounted infantry with no vehicle protec- tion,” Email from Cavalry Troop Leader
explaining the limitations of the ASLAV during his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011-12.
Likewise, given its primary role is to provide armoured transport, the M113’s design trades firepower and protection forgreaterinternalvolume,or‘lift’capac- ity. The lightly protected M113 APC was designed to deliver infantry to an area out ofcontact,theinfantrythenclosewiththe enemy on foot.
Consequently, the infantry devoid of ar- moured protection are not only exposed to lethal fire from rifles and machine guns as they close with an enemy, but are exposed for longer periods. For the infantry soldier fighting on the ground, the tank provides both a physical shield and a means to de- stroy targets. The infantry are protected from enemy fire by the vehicle itself as they close with the enemy and they can direct the fire of the tank to destroy targets that they cannot. This intimate support is essential in close combat as it provides the infantry sol- dier with an overwhelming advantage.
The enduring and imposing physical presence of the tank in this role provides an intangible boost to morale that instils confidence in soldiers in lethal environ- ments. One infantry commander recount- ed in his recollection of the Battle of Binh Bah, which involved close infantry-tank cooperation, that ‘... an infantryman feels invincible when standing next to a mon- ster,’ according to Brigadier Colin Khan, Commanding Officer of 5th Battalion
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