The Indonesian Military (TNI) Plays Combined Arms War Games
The Indonesian Military (TNI) is conducting a large-scale war game codenamed “Wibawa Yudha II” from May 6-29. The military drill involves tens of thousands of troops, hundreds of military vehicles, dozens of warships and planes.
The key purpose of the ongoing exercise is to evaluate military tactics, techniques and procedures and to explore strategies for joint operations. The combat drills also seek to examine the effectiveness of newly procured weapon systems, which need organizational and operational innovations within the armed forces.
Despite the notable progress in some technical areas, future warfare is likely to place more demands on the TNI.
The current geopolitical changes in East Asia along with rapid developments in defense technologies and the growing sophistication of military capabilities suggest that in the future the Indonesian military will fight in high-intensity conflicts and non-linear battlefields. The country’s defense guidelines have also underlined the importance of maneuverability and interoperability among the armed services.
All that said, the TNI must gear up for maneuver and combined-arms warfare. There are at least two major operational issues for Indonesia’s military innovators to prepare maneuver-oriented battle simulations and study the tactical interdependence among specific weapon systems.
First, maneuver warfare demands the development of war game scenarios with a proper trade-off between tactical and analytical needs.
A maneuver strategist seeks for battlefield success through dynamic movement and deception. Combat innovators are then expected to prepare a war game, in which one side employs superior tactics to dislocate, disrupt or defeat the enemy without too much direct-fire engagement. The scenario as such is not only unrealistic due to various operational constraints on the actual battlefields, but also analytically useless because it provides poor data to evaluate the combat performance of military units.
Of course, the purpose of conducting military drills is to examine and assess specific weapon systems or organizational skills. Analytical purpose demands a battle simulation that represents a maximum exchange of direct-fire. Despite a significant amount of data available, including armor resistance and rates of fires for operational research and system analysis, that typical scenario tends to mislead the military to prepare for attritional warfare, rather than developing maneuver-oriented strategies.
The employment of each weapon has to stimulate different battlefield reactions within the enemy ranks.
In that sense, the TNI’s combat innovators should strike a balance between tactical and analytical requirements in their war game planning. Robert Leonhard proposes an equal emphasis on all parts of battle management systems to minimize the typical flaws of military drills.
While tactical requirements emphasize maneuver, intelligence, command and control systems as the critical elements, analytical purpose focuses on the role of firepower, logistics and combat engineers in battle simulations. The logistical factors should serve both as material supplies to support certain courses of action and targets for destruction or neutralization.
Constructing war games with a dynamic interplay of all battle management systems will positively contribute to shape relevant combat formulas for maneuver warfare.
Second, combined-arms warfare demands a comprehensive study of combat potential of specific weapon systems and their impact on the battlefield.
Recent studies by military scholars including Edward Luttwak and Stephen Biddle, suggest that the greater lethality of one’s weapon system, the more responsive the opponent will be to lessen its impact.
The employment of combined-arms will further complicate the enemy’s combat calculus and reactions due to the multiple lethal threats it is up against.
With that logic, the procurement of new arms should be aimed at increasing the effectiveness of other weapon systems by producing exploitable reactions on the enemy’s order of battle. A specific weapon could gain benefits from another weapon through a relationship of either “supplementary” or “complementary”.
The former works if the new weapon possesses a similar attack profile that supplements or reinforces another weapon system. In effect, the latter system is available to perform other missions.
Some illustrations may suffice here. The procurement purpose of attack helicopters is to reinforce close-air-support capabilities, thereby allowing the Air Force to send combat aircraft to another critical mission. The Navy’s plans to acquire advanced anti-air warfare systems on its warships are also expected to enhance its air defense capabilities in order to relieve the operational burden of jet-fighters to repel immediate aerial threats in sea battles.
Likewise, the Army’s recent acquisition of Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles may lead to operational innovations for the future employment of Leopard-2 main-battle-tanks. As the infantry units rely on new but similar means to repel the enemy tanks, the field commander could launch a tank maneuver into the enemy’s operational depth in order to capture “soft” targets including artillery, logistical supplies, command and control assets.
This complementary relationship among weapon systems seeks to enhance or multiply their combat effectiveness. Hence, the employment of each weapon has to stimulate different battlefield reactions within the enemy ranks.
Imagine the use of beyond-line-of-sight weapons for air interdiction. Before the military commander hurls the jet-fighters to destroy specific targets — such as bridges, airstrips and fuel dumps, he could launch long-range cruise missiles to disable the enemy’s early warning radar and air defense system.
Another illustration is also observable in close-combat engagements. Rather than committing his tanks for an attrition battle, a good tactician prefers the employment of artillery and short-range rocket systems to dislocate the enemy tanks away from the critical terrain. Due to the heavy bombardments, the opponent most likely seeks for top-cover or moves to restrictive terrains. If that happens, the tactical commander may order his troops to ambush the enemy with landmines and anti-tank rockets — provided they are lethal enough.
Viewing the battlefield through the lenses of combined-arms should enable combat innovators to unlock long-standing doctrinal stalemate within the TNI. Their ability to tailor the combat potential of specific weapon systems is the key to developing reliable war-fighting concepts for future combined-arms operations.
Overall, technical level of military preparations should correspond well to strategic policy planning. For Indonesia, peace means having “a thousand friends zero enemies”. Maneuver strategists would seek for deterrence means to neutralize the enemy before the war begins. Hence, the government must build a credible deterrent force to ensure that no one seeks to destabilize regional security and stability.
Just like an old maxim says, si vis pacem para belum. If you want peace, prepare for war.
The writer is adjunct lecture on revolution in military affairs at the department of international relations, University of Indonesia and researcher at Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Source: The Jakarta Post News - 21 May 2013
Photo: Indonesian Military (TNI) is conducting a large-scale war game codenamed “Wibawa Yudha II” from May 6-29. The Indonesian Air Force CN295 will make visits to Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. (Photo by Guillermo Granger)