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Posture transformation to combat enemy airborne landings in offensive operations

The fight against enemy airborne landing forces in support of their units under attack can be the key, decisive battle in the war to safeguard the Homeland. Many issues must be addressed to secure victory, in which posture transformation is an inevitable requirement that deserves further consideration.

Shift of posture to engage enemy airborne landing forces in offensive operations is all of creative activities undertaken by the commander, operational division, and forces concerned in adjusting the employment and deployment of units, weapons and equipment, etc., with a view to creating a new posture suitable for current situation, evolution on the battlefield, new operational intention of the commander, and bringing into full play the combat power of all elements of force to win victory in the operation.

Posture transformation is a matter of operational art. The enemy airborne landing forces can make swift changes in terms of force size, time, and landing areas. Units in charge of combating the enemy airborne landing forces may have to fight one or some battles occurring concurrently or one after another by means of many operational plans. The initial posture will be disrupted or even altered, no matter how perfect it is. Shift of posture, therefore, is an inevitable demand and plays a decisive role in the outcome of the battle. In the context of short preparation time, small window of opportunity, enemy’s high-tech weapons, modern equipment, powerful supporting fire, extensive electronic warfare activities, high mobility, air superiority, and flexible tactics, posture transformation to combat the enemy airborne landing forces must be hurriedly conducted and will face much difficulty and complexity. This is a non-stop process from the establishment of initial posture to the end of the battle, in which direct preparation and engagement are the important stages. This article aims to discuss posture transformation to fight the enemy airborne landing forces at landing areas and on the move.

Posture transformation to fight the enemy at landing areas

Making use of superiority in weapons and equipment, especially high mobility, enormous firepower, and modern reconnaissance systems, facilitates enemy airborne landings to realise their operational, tactical intentions in a rapid, flexible manner. These operations are also less influenced by time, weather, and climate while causing much difficulty to our operational activities in general, posture transformation to directly engage the enemy landing forces in particular. Posture transformation to attack the enemy troops at landing areas when they have not taken up their battle positions, the operational command must thoroughly grasp evolution of the operation, timely adjust operational concept, and supplement units with new missions. The key matter is to quickly adjust force disposition and deploy forces, especially those directly combating the enemy landing troops, to form new posture suitable for current situation on the battlefield and opponents. First, it is necessary to quickly adjust posture of units in charge of conducting deception to encircle and isolate the enemy landing areas. The offensive forces (infantry, tanks and armour) and supporting forces of defence zones timely move from tactical assembly areas to lines of departure to form directions of attack according to intentions of the commander and operational division. They are requested to mount attacks, seize and occupy advantage terrain, actively shoot down enemy aircraft, disrupt coordination between the enemy’s air force and ground force; encircle and destroy enemy troops in each landing area to create an intertwined layout. At the same time, forces participating in combating the enemy landing forces must break the enemy link, forcing them to lengthen landing time and act in disadvantageous conditions. The artillery and air defence forces conduct maneuver to adjust disposition of weapon systems and missions, collaborate and coordinate with their higher echelons and the defence zone to form an extensive, multi-layered posture to provide effective supporting fire for deception, posture development, movement and deployment of forces to engage the enemy.

During posture transformation, despite applying concurrent or nonsynchronous attacks, the operational command must successfully settle the contradiction between concentration and dispersion of forces to ensure rapid deployment and security of forces and weaponry. Consequently, there needs to take opportunities, fully exploit the enemy’s weaknesses, especially the gaps between stages of fire, and take advantage of the terrain, outcome of each force to continually create posture and opportunities to deploy forces, generating an attacking posture conducive for taking initiative in operations. It is necessary to flexibly adjust employment of forces in areas and directions of attack in which priorities are given to the main directions of attack or areas encountering enormous difficulties.

Posture transformation to engage the enemy airborne troops expanding the combat zone

This situation occurs when we are unable to engage or miss the opportunity to attack enemy troops in the landing areas. After landing, the enemy airborne troops may expand their combat operations to attack designated targets under the support of other units (if any). Posture transformation to engage the enemy in this situation is more complex than in the landing areas. Before and during combat expansion, the enemy forces will enhance employment of ground, airborne, sea, and space-based reconnaissance systems; make full use of their own firepower and fire support to launch attacks on both sides of roads, especially the places deemed to be positions of our forces. They may also attack to seize and retain advantageous terrain to secure their maneuver corridors as well as step up electronic warfare activities, cyber operations, and deception. Under time constraints, to achieve timely shift of posture to seize and retain initiative in fighting the enemy forces on the move requires the operational command to deeply grasp situations; correctly predict the enemy’s tactics; timely adjust the operational plans, especially contents relating to selection of combat zones; strengthen combat formations; and deploy units according to new operational plans. Accordingly, it is necessary to quickly assign further tasks and put deception plans into operation. Units responsible for conducting military deception must coordinate their effort closely with units of higher echelon and of defence zone, take advantage of terrain to quickly maneuver to hold key positions, and separate and engage the enemy troops to force them to stop temporarily or deploy on disadvantageous terrain, creating an intertwined layout and firmly retaining advantageous terrain to provide a springboard for offensive forces. The artillery and air defence are requested to maneuver for new disposition of forces and hurriedly open fire on the enemy formations to suppress, neutralize, and destroy artillery, missiles, and aircraft, establishing a posture to prevent and deny their support for offensive forces. At the same time, the infantry, tank and armour rearrange their combat formations and take advantage of the posture created by deception units, supporting fire, and operations of on-site forces within defence zone to seize springboards and deploy troops and weapon systems in order to form directions of attack. The command and combat support elements regularly follow operational formation and deploy their forces and equipment to provide timely support for offensive operations. During the attack, depending on development of situations, they are requested to flexibly adjust their disposition to create the most favourable posture and make the most of capabilities and strong points of forces to facilitate their task performance and quick evacuation from the combat zones.

Posture transformation to engage the enemy airborne landing forces in offensive operations is conducted in a situation, which is difficult, highly volatile, fierce, and complex. To transform posture in a flexible, timely manner in order to seize and retain initiative in engaging the enemy at the most favourable opportunities requires the commander and operational division to assess situations of the enemy, our forces, and relevant issues sensibly. Decisions must be made resolutely, flexibly, creatively, and timely. In particular, during preparation for combating the enemy airborne landing forces, there needs to scrutinize and reach correct conclusions about terrain in combat zones, make accurate predictions about the enemy airborne landings, and establish strong, thorny, secret initial posture which enables us to engage the enemy according to various plans. Plans for posture transformation must be worked out in accordance with high volatility of enemy airborne landings. During the process of posture transformation, it is important to fully exploit the posture established by local defence zones and the operation as well as advantages of the terrain; execute close collaboration and coordination; combine adjustment of posture with maintenance and development of posture; combine establishment of our posture with destruction of the enemy posture in order to form new, favourable posture to meet operational demand. Force movement is key to posture transformation and the most difficult thing to achieve in the context of the enemy’s superiority in high-tech weapons, thus requiring the operational command to attach importance to solving this issue. Apart from proactively, actively preparing roads for troop movement, operational infrastructure in directions of attack and combat zones according to predicted scenarios, and deception operations, the operational command must work out comprehensive plans for the movement of soldiers and vehicles, and movement support. They must flexibly apply measures to move soldiers and vehicle in a swift, secret, safe, sensible manner to timely establish new thorny posture which makes it difficult for the enemy to anticipate and change the situation.

Given robust development of military science and technology, the enemy airborne landings will witness new advances in elements of forces, weapons, equipment, and tactics in the future. Shift of posture to engage the enemy airborne landing forces will be much more difficult and complex. This matter deserves further research to improve military art in the war to safeguard the Homeland.

Colonel Vu Huy Trang, MA, National Defence Academy

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