12 April 2005


Steven Den Beste argues something that I've long suspected, that since it turns out that we won't have to fight the battle of the Fulda Gap, the era of tank warfare is ending.
In response to increasing battlefield firepower, horse cavalry reduced the armor it used. Have we reached the point where mechanized armor should do the same?

The US Marines have a saying: Killing tanks is fun and easy.

I'm enough a dilettante to know that I only know a little bit about this sort of thing. There are plenty of smart people in the US Army who seem to think that the tank has a bright future, and I don't really understand their thinking.

But Den Beste's argument is certainly fascinating and compelling. Basically, he says that it's easier to build better weapons to attack tanks than it is to create stronger tanks, so that we've now crossed the threshhold where it makes sense to use tanks against a well-equipped force. He also observes that air power has completely eclipsed tanks' role as mobile artillery. His prescription: lighter, faster, less armoured fighting vehicles.


Indri said...

Maybe our governor can be convinced to donate some of his Hummers to the cause.

Anonymous said...

It is easy for the US to kill tanks. It is easy for the US to have air superiority. I haven't heard of any M1 killed yet. Foes of the US no doubt find the usefulness of tanks limited, (esp tanks built in 1954), but I doubt the US will be getting rid of tanks until our foes can kill them as easily as we can.

Jonathan Korman said...

You're exactly right, Anonymous --- and Den Beste says as much: "The enemies we face right now don't generally have [tank-killing weapons] but in future they will. Our current tank-heavy army can still fight effectively but only because the enemy forces it's facing are using weapons and combat doctrine which is at least 30 years out of date. That won't last, though, and if in future we end up fighting an enemy which does have modern doctrine and modern weapons, then tanks won't be able to operate." He's talking long term.