January 08, 2013
Contributor: Andrew Elwell
Posted: 12/07/2012 12:00:00 AM EST | 1
Fredrick the Great, the King of Prussia between 1740–1786, once famously told his generals, "To defend everything is to defend nothing."
Major General Anders Brännström, the Swedish Chief of Army Staff, shares a similar philosophy. In a recent interview with Defence IQ discussing future armoured vehicles requirements, Brännström explained that it's important to focus on key areas for future development. He said that the IED "definitely" presents an enduring threat and one which must be the continued focus of research and development for both industry and the military.
"Everywhere in the future where there is fertiliser and the internet, we will always face IEDs … That's the main thing – the IED is the threat that you have to handle; you have to be able to defeat the device and train your forces to go against the networks behind those IEDs."
As the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 gets closer the questions and debate about future threats will inevitably start to become more intense. For some the fear of focusing too heavily on IEDs is born out of the well-worn condition known as "next-war-itus." In a recent poll Defence IQ readers were asked: Will the IED remain the no. 1 battlefield threat over the next decade?
In a result that surprised some, 64% said "no." However, while the majority of those respondents surveyed indicated that the IED will not likely remain the top threat, this doesn't in any way mean that it won't remain a threat. The threat will endure, whether it's the key threat or not.
Major General Brännström reminds us that the IED is not a new threat either – it was not conceived in 21st Century warfare. "I remember when I was a Commander in Kosovo that there were things like IEDs, but we just didn't call them that."
On balance though Brännström was sure not to overstate the IED threat; he explained that it would be unwise to exclusively focus on any one single threat. He advocates a more comprehensive approach that appreciates the full threat landscape.
"It's dangerous to only focus on the overwhelming threat of today," says Brännström. "You should always keep to your long-term objectives."
Focusing on long-term objectives has been an effective formula for the Swedish armed forces, particularly in view of its armoured vehicle industry. Sweden offers a prescient example of how industry and government can work together to produce a vehicle that is efficient for all parties.
"CV-90 is a very good example of when a country's Armed Forces cooperate well with industry they can create a…success story."
Protection vs. mobility
While the case for greater mobility grows louder as the demand for light armoured vehicles continues to rise, Brännström warned that concentrating on either factor too much is counterproductive. The trick is to maintain a combination of different vehicles and capabilities.
"You have to have different types of vehicles. You have to have main battle tanks – you need to have them because the enemy needs to know that you'll always have them. You have to have wheeled vehicles and you have to have tracked vehicles. It's not about choosing either protection or mobility – you shouldn't separate them too much – you need to have a balance. In this respect I'm glad that the Swedish Armed Forces has different types of vehicles."
While the role of armoured vehicles is a critical one for any modern army, Major General Brännström offered a thoughtful insight to conclude our interview. He firmly believes that the calibre of the warfighter should always be the number one priority for any armed force. Maybe this sometimes gets forgotten amid the boisterous debate about capabilities, between all the concerns about budgets and priorities, and in the face of flashy new technologies and gadgets. "Always in the middle of everything is a human being," the General said.
"If they're not well trained and well disciplined it doesn't matter what equipment they have. The bottom line is they need to have the right training and right support."
Posted by Naxal Watch at 8:40 PM