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Re: Re: [GZG] Small thought re: Orbital Assault

From: John Atkinson <johnmatkinson@g...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 08:42:49 +0100
Subject: Re: Re: [GZG] Small thought re: Orbital Assault

On 11/23/05, John Tailby <> wrote:

> In a fight where you want to capture the territory all the defenders
have to do is let the attackers come into the city areas and a lot of
the technological advantages will be removed. Longer range weapons and
tanks are not much good in built up or rugged terrain.

People who try to stand and fight in any terrain against a modern
professional military get dead, quick, unless they are on a par with
them in both training and equipment.  Urban is just another rough
terrain, and both artillery and armor have their roles to play.

> The experience in the last 30 years suggests that lower tech forces
with the will to sustain casualties can make it uneconomic for the
higher tech invader to stay.


The experience of the last 30 years has unequivocably demonstrated
that low-tech forces are incapable of standing in front of high tech
forces in conventional battle.	There are no counter-examples.

The method of the low-tech defender is that of guerilla warfare. 
Guerilla warfare requires sanctuary and support both internal and

> For a SF example the B5 universe has the Centauri arrive at the Narn
homeworld conqure the planet and then get driven off by the local
resistance. A simliar thing happened in the Star Trek universe.

The Star Trek universe is about as unrealistic as possible, from a
military standpoint.  The B5 example is also fictional.

> I am also not convinced that space bourne weaponry would be that
effective in attacking ground targets or local space fighters. The
planets atmoshpere will attenuate energy beams and or cause heat blooms
to block futher fire. Missiles and kinetic projectiles suffer from
reentry problems and would need special shielding to penetrate the
planetary atmosphere.

If you can see it, you can kill it.  Surviving an assault with orbital
fire support will depend on one of three factors.

Getting danger close to the enemy so that he can't use his fire
support.  Of course, then he can kill you direct fire.	It's an
expensive tactic.  Ask the Vietnamese.

Getting close enough to an objective important enough that the fire
support won't be used for fear of collateral damage.

Getting into terrain/foliage so dense that it partially or totally
defeats the orbital sensors.  And if you are doing that, you are
1)dispersed and 2)probably not close to the vital objectives on your

The point of orbital fire support, like air support, is not that it is
a cure-all.  It is part of a combined arms dilemma.  The point of
combined arms is to provide the enemy with a dilemma so that any
solution to one part of it increases his vulnerability to the other

If Napoleonic infantry forms square to defend against cavalry, they
are better artillery targets.

Machine guns force you to keep your head down and under cover so that
the men with rifles can maneuver to kill you at close quarters.

If you disperse and erect camoflage systems to defeat air/space
support, then the ground forces rolling in will pick you off in penny
packets--defeat in detail.  If you concentrate to defeat the ground
forces, you have provided a wonderful target for the air.

This was forgotten in Kosovo when air power was used as a panacea
which was supposed to be all-singing and all-dancing.  Didn't quite
work out that way because there was not even a credible threat of a
ground attack to force the Serbian Army to concentrate to fight
battles or to maneuver using easily interdicted roads.

> Also the starships will have problems staying on station in low orbit.
They will be travelling over the planetary surface at high speed and so
can't "stay on station" over a given point of the planetary surface.

That's why you have multiple small gunboats doing support rather than
One Big Ship.

> While a planet might be a big place to defend there are likley to be
only a few viable places to land a big ground force. The place would
need to be on or near the equator and not water, mountains, heavy
vegetation or other hazardous terrain. On Earth the best place would
probably somwehere in central africa.

On or near the equator?  Why?

Besides which, I don't need a truly huge area to stage out a single

"Thousands of Sarmatians, Thousands of Franks, we've slain them again
and again.  We're looking for thousands of Persians."
--Vita Aureliani

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