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Re: Horses in the Modern Battle

From: Tony Corbet
Date: 1/9/2002
Time: 4:09:00 PM
Remote Name:


Thank you Xile for your intelligent and considered appreciation of the TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops) that I put forward. For those who may not be familiar with a TEWT it is a common tool used in the military to propose a question for discussion and analysis. There is no definitively correct answer, just a basis where discussion of a particular military question can be explored.

Xile has proposed that in certain conditions horse forces could be used in the following situations: 1. Recon./Scout role accessing areas that may not be available to mech./soft skinned vehicles due to terrain or seasonal conditions i.e. “The Big Wet” 2. Supporting role with small configuration units such as long range recon. (Inf.) or infiltration/sabotage (Cmdo) in a resup. Role where aviation or vehicle support may draw unnecessary or unwanted attention.

My feeling is that horse forces could possibly be used very effectively in a recce role in support of an Inf Brigade to supplement the traditional armoured recce formations equipped with M113s and AUSLAV25s. Xile makes the valid point that horse based troops can at times access areas that are not accessible by wheeled or tracked vehicles. During the dry season this area is reduced and during the wet season this is greatly expansed. My personal experience in the outback and mustering is that, in general activities that are horse mounted require a smaller logistical support than those that are vehicle based. Conventional recce forces are resupplied primarily by ground (UNIMOGs, Land Rovers and TLCs) and occasionally by air. Both methods can be conducted over long distanced with high levels of concealment with well trained personnel. SAS troops in Iraq were regularly resupplied by ground on deep penetration missions with almost complete secrecy.

An AUSLAV, although an extremely capable all round recce vehicle, has the disadvantage of a very high profile and large dust signature. The Land Rover and M113 have a lower profile but again have large dust signatures. These are characteristics that can be dealt with via sound movement discipline but they are still there. Having had to personally look for mounted groups from both a helicopter and wheeled vehicles, it is much more difficult to find them as opposed to vehicles.

My feeling is that there is possibly a role for horse forces in the stated scenario in a recce support role. Further discussion on formation, logistics, equipment and specific role is invited. Thanks to Xile for your input.


Last changed: January 09, 2002