Re: MIL: Warfare Basics

Michael Lorrey (
Wed, 24 Mar 1999 02:22:42 -0500

Billy Brown wrote:

> wrote:
> > That's weird: I've seen LAW rockets for sale for $250, which won't buy
> > you a particularly good modern rifle. Admittedly they won't do much
> against
> > a $20million main battle tank, but they'll be perfectly good against an
> > costing a thousand times as much as the missile.
> A LAW rocket isn't an anti-tank missile. Its a completely unguided, short
> ranged rocket designed primarily for blowing holes in walls. It is also
> effective against unarmored vehicles and obsolete APCs, if you can get close
> enough to hit them. It is cheap, simple, and completely ineffective against
> any modern armored vehicle.

Any projectile which can blow a hole in a couple feet of concrete can do the same for a tank. You don't need specially machined warheads. Simply designed and built focused charge rockets and mortars can do the job. What is complex and expensive are the guidance systems to make such warheads accurate.

> > And this is the point: it doesn't matter if an anti-tank missile costs
> > $10,000 in bulk, if it has a 50% chance of knocking out a $20million
> tank..
> > No nation can afford to lose a billion dollars of tanks to a million
> > dollars of missiles; or an entire army to a single million-dollar nuke..
> By the same logic, a single bullet can take out a soldier that costs
> $100,000 to train. Does that mean soldiers are obsolete?

Depends on how much a country is willing to spend in soldiers. The Isrealis, for example, go into hissy fits when even more than one soldier is killed. The allied losses in the Gulf War were only a couple hundred, yet the Iraqis lost allegedly around 50,000. If we had lost more than a couple thousand, we would have seen a lot of anti-war sentiment develop pretty early, But Saddam is still in power in Iraq, so apparently he didn't spend enough on his side.

> Of course not. You will never see a battlefield where the tanks all line up
> to let your militia take pot shots at them. Instead you'll see all kinds of
> complex maneuvers where each weapon system covers for the weaknesses of the
> others. The infantry work their way towards your position on foot, sweeping
> the underbrush for enemy troops as they go. The APCs and tanks hang back
> and provide fire support - their heavy weapons can take out buildings,
> weapon pits and armored vehicles that would be a threat to the infantry.
> The artillery bombards your suspected position to keep you pinned down, and
> the air force scouts the whole area to see what your buddies are up to. If
> you try to assemble in large numbers the air force and artillery bombard you
> until you scatter. If you don't assemble you get picked off one by one by
> enemy infantry.

Hardly. I suggest you study up on unconventional warfare before you make any more comments.

> BTW, tanks don't cost $20 million (try $1 million or less), and you can't
> take out an entire army with a nuke (maybe a battalion or two, but no more
> unless you're bombing their bases in peacetime).

An M-1A Abrams tank, of the latest generation, does indeed cost that much.

> This may seem new to you, but every serious military organization on the
> planet has been thinking about it for 60 years now. Nukes don't mean the
> end of warfare, they just demand some changes in tactics.
> First off, despite certain popular Hollywood themes, you can't build a
> nuclear device in your basement out of used refrigerator parts. Nuclear
> bombs are complex devices, requiring exotic materials and large capital
> investments. If you could buy them on the open market today, prices would
> range from a few hundred thousand dollars up into the low millions. Not
> many people are going to buy one at those prices, and no individual or small
> group is going to be building their own.

Russia has already sold several hundred suitcase pony nukes on the black market. They have no idea where they went.

> Second, bombs aren't much use without a delivery vehicle. The obvious
> methods are missiles and aircraft, but those obviously won't work in this
> case. Your 'small group' probably can't afford them, and besides they
> aren't likely to penetrate an aggressor's air defenses. That leaves mines,
> truck bombs, and similar terrorist-type strategies.

Delivery vehicle for one pony nuke to New York City: A 40 foot Cigarette race boat, fueled from a tanker. Total cost of delivery system on the used market: $50,000.


you pointedly ignored other weapons of mass destruction. biological and chemical weapons are relatively easy to develop compared to nuclear weapons. Imagine what several pounds of LSD in a city's drinking water will do, for starters. Ad to that things like anthrax and legionnaire's disease, which are easy to deploy

> > [In another message]
> > >With the invention of gunpowder, this began to change. Now a group of
> > >well-trained soldiers could easily defeat a much larger mob of civilians.
> >
> > This is silly. Gunpowder brought the end of feudalism because now a single
> > individual with a gun could kill the best mounted knight, and a small army
> > with a cannon could bring down the best defensive walls. Just as
> widespread
> > ownership of nukes and other mass destruction weapons will bring down
> > modern authoritarian government..
> Gunpowder meant the end of the age of feudalism because it meant that a king
> could buy cannons capable of breaching any castle wall. The cannons were so
> expensive that only kings could afford them, so the nobility was unable to
> return the favor. This created a one-sided situation that favored larger
> power blocks over small ones.

Feudalism ended because armor was no longer protection against the wrath of the peasants and the merchants. The crossbow previously had made good inroads here, as they could penetrate armor as well, which is why the Pope outlawed the weapon.

> Your quote about knights isn't true. Guns were not capable of reliably
> penetrating plate armor until well into the Renaissance. What ended the era
> of the mounted knight was the appearance of well-trained infantry units
> armed with a complex mix of pikes, assorted pole arms, crossbows and
> primitive firearms. Charging across an open field, while under fire, into a
> wall of pikes, proved not to be a viable tactic.

As I said above, crossbows could and did penetrate armor. Early guns could do so as well when used to shoot wrought iron nails (frequently done). (Ref: W.W. Greener: _The Gun and Its Development_)

   Michael Lorrey, President
                        Lorrey Systems
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