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Archive for July 20th, 2013

Why Gulf Wars cannot be used as a basis for estimating effectiveness of beyond visual range combat

Posted by Picard578 on July 20, 2013

Introduction

Gulf wars are used as a proof that BVR combat has finally become effective. But they have been unique in many aspects, and unrepresentative of combat conditions that will be in effect against competent opponent. Thus they are not assurance than radar-guided BVR missiles will really perform as well as Western – particularly US – doctrine requires them to if there is ever a war where they will be needed to perform well.

Gulf War I

State of Iraqi military

Operation Desert Storm, which may have as many as 16 possible BVR victories, is seen as BVR turning point. But there are some issues.

Firstly, Iraqi’s armed forces, like armed forces of most – if not all – Arab states were not meant to fight a war. Arab monarchs and dictators treat armed forces as a status symbol. As a result, Arab militaries are often in possession of large quantities of modern hardware – Saudi Arabia for example recently bought 72 Eurofighter Typhoons – but do not have leadership, personnel, and logistical capabilities to keep these weapons combat-effective. As Michael Knight has noted about Saudi armed forces, they suffer from a “massive overemphasis on procurement of high technology and serious underemphasis on manpower issues, personnel selection, training, and maintenance.” Gulf militaries are regularly short on noncommissioned officers, who are actually more important for making modern militaries run than general-rank officers they have in abundance (this top-heavy nature is also characteristic of US armed forces, but unlike Arab countries US military does have enough NCOs and low-level CO-s to make military run, and these are competent and independent enough to compensate for mistakes of mostly-incompetent high-level officers during the war). They are heavily dependant on foreign support to make militaries run, with 30% of UAEs military personnell being expatriates. Like all Arab forces, Iraqi armed forces – and especially air force – suffered from poor tactical leadership, poor information management, poor weapons handling, and poor maintenance. Arab forces also have a heavily centralized system, making them inept in responding to rapidly changing battlefield conditions, and leaders are promoted not on basis of competence but on basis of family, tribal and political affiliations. Even Iran has problems in maintaining an effective military – especially an effective air force – due to lack of spares and trained technicians.

This has shown in all wars Arab conventional militaries have fought. Read the rest of this entry »

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