Home Forums Modern The "proximity effect" and accuracy of small-arms fire in combat

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  • #46487
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Permit me a small parp on my own trumpet…

    Now available to any Tom, Dick or Harry with a web connection is a research paper I presented at ISMOR (the International Symposium on Military Operational Research) recently. It is called “Small Arms, Small Data”, and, apart from bemoaning the extreme sparsity of data on small-arms shooting in combat, it presents numerical evidence for the observation that aiming accuracy appears to get lower as the enemy gets nearer.

    My paper (there is a Powerpoint presentation and a full-blown paper) is the last one on the first day of the conference: practically all the conference papers are available at

    http://ismor.com/ismor2016_papers.shtml

    People who are serious about their wargaming might find lots of stuff of interest from this and previous years at ISMOR. I would especially recommend my pal Paul Syms’ paper “Our Chief Weapon is Surprise”, at the end of this year’s conference, on his findings from historical analysis of air assaults.

    If anyone has access to any additional sources of small-arms combat shooting data (from the last 100 years or so) which include both the range and the hitting rate obtained, I would be very pleased to add it to my small collection (contact details are on the presentation). It does, however, seem that this kind of data is as rare as rocking-horse manure. It’s almost as if people engaged in close combat have things on their mind other than data collection.

    All the best,

    John.

    #46489
    PatG
    Participant

    Well done, I shall be grabbing a copy for future reference,

    #49269
    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    John, could you comment on the 1976 tests summarised here?

    http://www.2ndbn5thmar.com/CoTTP/Suppression%20McBreen%202001.pdf

    I think I found this on a TMP thread but it didn’t seem to be discussed at the time. I’m trying to come up with a model that duplicates these results but so far without success.

    #55982
    CovIntGames
    Participant

    Excellent read! I can see you were in good company at that conference. Thanks for sharing.

    #56014
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Oops — thanks to CovIntGames for the kind remarks, which also fulfil the useful point of bringing Nick Riggs’ earlier post back to my attention.

    By way of a long-delayed response to Nick, as far as I can make out, McBreen (who I wish would give clearer references) is probably referring to the PARFOX VII trial, which was in 1976, used TESEX equipment, and included 72 exercise attacks. PARFOX was short for Parapet Foxhole, and I vaguely recall seeing a write-up a few years later in either the British Army Review or the Army Training Bulletin (the article title “Main Battle Trench 80” sticks in my mind) which gave some numbers on how the Parapet Foxhole not only reduced casualties, but was much harder to suppress than a normal open slit-trench. I do not recall any remarks about relative sizes of assault and base-of-fire elements, but I do recall some enthusiastic endorsement of the parapet foxhole with overhead cover, based on Viet Nam experience. The parapet gives complete protection from small-arms fire from the front; fire from friendly parapet foxholes on your flanks enfilades any enemy trying to advance on you, while you return the favour for them; and the overhead cover means you can call VT “fire on me” with impunity once the VC combat engineers have swarmed over the piles of their dead and are overrunning the position.

    Annoyingly, I can find no trace, on DTIC or anywhere else, of the PARFOX VII project report McBreen seems to be referring to. A whole bunch of stuff about parapet foxholes, quoting PARFOX VII results, is in TRADOC Bulletin no. 9, Infantry Fighting Positions, of Sept 1977, which should be easy enough to google up if you don’t already have a copy. Unfortunately it does not say anything about the balance between assault and covering fire parties, either.

    All the best,

    John.

    #56236
    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    Thanks for that John! I recently read The Defence of Duffer’s Drift and I think one of the points made was the need to dig parapet foxholes!

    I contacted Col. McBreen and asked what he based his article on, and he very kindly passed on two references:

    http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/SelectedPapersofGeneralWilliamDepuy.pdf

    http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/csi/docs/Gorman/06_Retired/02_Retired_1991_99/06_92_SecretFutureVictories_Feb.pdf

    In Gen. DePuy’s papers, he refers to the assault/suppression balance being a lucky find from the PARFOX results (p300).

    The Secret Future document is more specific and contains tables of results concerning the PARFOX results (p170-173).

    Now I need to study them in detail!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by Nick Riggs.
    #56253
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Great links, thanks very much for posting

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #56261
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Well sleuthed, Nick!

    I am now feeling acutely embarrassed, as I have had copies of both those documents for some time. The trouble is, I got them both while searching for specific things, extracted the droplet of juice relevent to the specific thing, put them aside with the intention of sucking the rest of the juice out of them later, and then … didn’t. I must have been distracted by a shiny thing. I will say, though that “The Secret of Future Victories” is an excellent source on the history of the doctrinal structure of the USA infantry squad, and that the paper “11 men one mind” — about the third of the collected papers of Gen DePuy — is an absolute jewel, and in a short space I think gives a very profound reason for infantry combat being different from other kinds.

    My memory is no more trustworthy than a Southern Trains timetable, but I feel fairly confident that Backsight Forethought didn’t espouse the parapet foxhole — rather, I recall that he stressed the importance a properly-constructed parapet and a parados, the latter both to prevent heads being skylined and to give cover if attacked from behind (“This, I thought, must be being taken in reverse” is a phrase I seem to recall).

    DePuy’s involvement with PARFOX would explain why the TRADOC note on infantry fighting positions says what it does, as he was the brain behind TRADOC. As Eddie Izzard said, everything in the universe is joined up at the back where you can’t see it. I remember the enthusiasm with which TRADOC reports were read in the British Army in the 70s and 80s — we had nothing so good, and I don’t think there is anything so good now, for giving soldiers (and coincidentally wargamers) useful numerical information on specific friendly or enemy capabilities in a pleasant and easily digestible form.

    All the best,

    John.

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