Paper: Army Must Ready for Anti-Tank Missile Threat

Paper: Army Must Ready for Anti-Tank Missile Threat

Soldiers training
Photo by: U.S. Army

Army formations will face the threat of modern anti-tank guided missiles in any future conflict, and leaders must act now to prepare technically and doctrinally, say the authors of a new paper.

The use of modern anti-tank guided missiles has been observed in Ukraine and in 2006 during the second Lebanon War, where teams of Hezbollah fighters successfully attacked the Israeli Defense Force. The attacks spurred Israel to change its doctrine, training and combat platforms, according to the authors of “An Ode to the Sagger Drill: Addressing the Modern Anti-Tank Guided Missile Problem Set.”

Published by the Association of the U.S. Army as part of its Land Warfare series, the paper points out that while the Army has sought materiel solutions to counter modern anti-tank guided missiles, such as the Trophy system, it has not implemented a “holistic solution to the problem set.”

“Army training guidance for sections and crews needs to be updated; the last mention of any doctrinal react-to-contact drill was published in 1985,” the authors write, adding that Army doctrine “does not provide any guidance for platoon-level elements.”

The paper’s authors are Lt. Col. Michael Kim, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, in the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team; Phillip Webster, senior intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency; Capt. Ismael Orozco, military intelligence company commander in the 1st Infantry Division’s 82nd Engineer Battalion; and Sgt. 1st Class David DeSantis, a company tactical NCO at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The paper, they write, “formulates a problem statement for armored formations based on enemy capabilities and use cases, reviews the Army’s current approach to countering ATGMs, and provides doctrine and technical recommendations to remedy gaps and to address the threat.”

Asserting that “U.S. Army formations will face ATGMs in the next conflict,” the authors recommend doctrinal and technical recommendations “in order to prepare for this inevitable challenge.”

The Army, they write, “must rethink its equipment allocation and distribution, develop a react-to-ATGM platoon battle drill and update its crew and section training evaluation and outline.”

Other recommendations include updated movement to contact and offensive doctrine at all levels for mechanized forces up to the brigade level to reflect the ATGM threat; new, low-cost unmanned aerial systems with thermal imaging and simple payloads that can identify and destroy ATGM teams for scouts and infantry formations; updated methods of hindering enemy observation and laser or thermal image guided tracking; and integration of a layered system to counter direct-fire missiles.

Read the paper here.