This paper by Judd Finger titled ‘The Spike Non-Line of Sight (NLOS) Missile System: Restoring Operational Manoeuvre to the Modern Battlefield’ proposes that by redefining the current offensive support paradigm and equipping manoeuvre forces with Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) technology such as the Spike NLOS, the Australian Army can enable extended range Command & Control (C2) – Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) – Strike networks, facilitate distributed operations, and restore operational manoeuvre to the battlefield.
The author suggests that technological growth and the proliferation of affordable military technologies continue to degrade the asymmetric superiority once enjoyed by western militaries. Persistent battlefield surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicles, massed fires, and long-range missiles significantly threaten the Australian Army’s traditional operational advantages. So how can the Army restore operational manoeuvre on the modern battlefield? Moreover, are there any current or future technologies that can assist land forces in regaining an asymmetric technical advantage?
A leading military concept in restoring land manoeuvre is Distributed Operations, centred on lethal combined arms teams that manoeuvre independently, avoid massed fires, and concentrate at decisive points. Judd Finger indicates that the problem is that while this is necessary to counter enemy targeting, small force disaggregation significantly increases the risk of isolation and destruction. Combat elements can no longer provide direct fire mutual support once dispersed and rely heavily on offensive fires to support isolated elements. To overcome these issues, Distributed Operations rely on the integration of C2, ISR, and strike networks to facilitate manoeuvre over extended ranges. However, while the Army has invested significantly in capable C2 and ISR systems, land manoeuvre forces do not possess the integral NLOS lethality to strike at extensive ranges, enable mutual support, and facilitate concentration.
He proposes that the time has come for the Army to exploit the full potential of PGM technologies to allow distributed forces to strike at extended ranges, mass fires from across the manoeuvre force, and facilitate operational manoeuvre. One such opportunity is the highly lethal Spike NLOS system, a long-range anti-tank missile capable of destroying targets over twenty-five kilometres. While the Australian Army has traditionally viewed NLOS missiles as the domain of offensive fires, the highly versatile Spike provides a potent deep fire capability that can be used by manoeuvre elements, negating the reliance on offensive fires.
Read the attached paper in more detail and share your thoughts on whether you agree with the authors conclusions about whether the Australian Army should pursue this technology to reap the benefits of land-to-land missile technology in order to regain a technical asymmetric advantage on the future battlefield.
About the Author:
Judd Finger is an infantry officer with over 15 years military experience within the Australian Army. He is a distinguished graduate of the United States Marine Command and Staff College and School of Advanced Warfighting and is currently posted to the Future Land Warfare Branch within Army Headquarters.