Military Aviation => Air Power => Topic started by: shawn a on July 11, 2009, 01:57:16 AM

Title: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: shawn a on July 11, 2009, 01:57:16 AM
What do you think of "Show of Force" passes by aircraft supporting ground troops who are taking fire? The aircraft makes a low, fast pass over enemy positions, without releasing ordinance. Is this a valid humanitarian gesture, or a counterproductive military tactic?
I'll give my own opinion after I hear replies from others (if any).
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: F-111 C/C on July 11, 2009, 05:15:06 AM
I think if you're going to make a pass, potentially putting yourself and your aircraft in harm's way, you should be putting bullets and/or bombs on target(s). The lesson we hopefully learned in Vietnam is that a humanitarian, politically correct war DOES NOT WORK. When your troops are taking fire, I disagree with the 'pussyfoot' flyby to try to intimidate the enemy.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: AVIATOR on July 11, 2009, 02:33:42 PM
Well those military aircraft are there to do a specific job. To support the troops on the ground. They aren't there as some social exercise in diplomacy whilst the guys on the ground are in danger. Use all the resources at your disposal to defeat the enemy.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: Webmaster on July 12, 2009, 03:07:35 AM
It's a good tactic when you don't know exactly where the enemy is or whether the enemy is about, and you don't have the assets or manpower on the ground to find out or they are in a vulnerable position. But otherwise, it is probably counterproductive...and make it less effective for those cases in which dropping ordnance is really not an option.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: shawn a on November 22, 2009, 06:28:34 AM
OK-- It's a counterproductive manifestation of the "politically correct" crap that is killing America's resolve!

who the hell thought this up, anyhow?
Does anyone for one minute think the enemy is throwing down their weapons and getting employment building hospitals, schools, or water supplies?
Or are they running away with their weapons determined to fight another day?
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: RecceJet on November 22, 2009, 08:06:38 AM
A show of force isn't much of a humanitarian gesture, but that's not to say it's counter productive. As Niels alludes to, this tactic been used effectively in modern times to identify locations of enemies.

In one example, a B-1 doing a low pass caused the bad guys to shit themselves and this led to a bit of confused radio traffic which was monitored and used to determine enemy force size and location, etc.

A valid tactic, but not one that would cause the enemy to drop their weapons and run when they've closed with the good guys and have started exchanging projectiles.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: shawn a on November 22, 2009, 09:16:24 AM
Good response, I just worry about enemies seeing the forces arrayed against them, and deciding "tomorrow is another day" WHEN THERE SHOULD BE NO TOMORROW FOR THEM!!!
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: shawn a on February 19, 2010, 08:06:48 AM
Well, we're still going down this idiotic path of "political correctness".
Brig. Gen Steve Kwast said--if someone is shooting at us from a village, let's leave, and return at a later time to win the hearts and minds of that village"
Did he flunk history?  Can he say "Vietnam"? Those tactics DID bring about a total victory.
An F-16 pilot said--"an IED went off where I was watching-a whole platoon was hit. I went down... to let the bad guys know we're here; 'now stop what your doing or we're going to kill you'. Our show of presence made them leave.
Yeah, I'm sure they threw down their weapons, got jobs in the private sector building roads, schools, hospitals and the like, became christians, or converted to Judaism, and started saving for college.
THEY LEFT LAUGHING AT THE WEAK-WILLED INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FORCES!!!!!! And then they taught their young acolytes how best to take advantage of that tactic.
A negotiated settlement is what gave the world north korea.
The most inhumane thing to do is to lose this fight.
Shawn A.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: F-111 C/C on February 19, 2010, 04:06:18 PM
Good points all. Our enemies have been using our F'd up ROE against us since the Korean War! Think how many of our 'our guys' have been killed because they had their hands tied by Bureaucratic ROE instead of allowing the use of proper Military tactics.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: Webmaster on February 22, 2010, 02:21:06 PM
Just read an interview by AFM (March 2010) with the commander of the Tornado GR force's second tour in Afghanistan, especially Helmand. If you kill 10, you're not down 10 enemies, but you create 100 more. He was quite pleased about the shift towards show of force / show of presence. Since they are flying under ISAF ROE they are not allowed to use their weapons offensively in support of OEF, but with these show of force / show of presence tactics they can still provide support for OEF operations. Having read this and other articles since this topic, I want to comment again.

Despite all concerns that the enemy has become familar with the tactics, it's still effective. Don't forget, bombs are still being dropped and howitzers are also still firing away, they can't do show of force or show of presence, the jets can. There's no garantee for them that bombs won't be falling down. Show of force / Show of presence is a good way of providing security for the troops on the ground. It's not about scaring the enemy, or having them throw down their weapons, it has become of way of denying them the fight. That's important, as more and more Taliban are not even Afghan.

Also, I'd like to say, that it's in most cases the JTAC or forward air controller on the ground who decides to call for a show of force or a bomb. In the media, it sometimes sounds as if the pilots can't use their weapons anymore. That may be true for some situations per the strict ISAF ROE, or the even stricter rules of for example yesteryear's German air, but often it's a case of units being in trouble, that is self-defence, allowing weapons to be fired. and US planes are still flying in support of OEF offenses I'd imagine. But the guy on the ground asks for a show of force or bomb.

We've had quite some blue-on-blue situations, including one where the JTAC passed on the coordinates of his unit instead of the enemy, because he was in-contact. We get to see quite some footage with the controller calmly talking the jets in and the troops enjoying the fireworks, but in other instances, you can hear the radiochatter being very distressed. If a show of force can defuse such situations instead of dropping a bomb and killing your own or innocent people, it really is a valid tactic.

"Let them go and fight another day", it may look like that, but it's never that simple. For example, the guys hit by the IED, how did you expect them to fight? The complexity of the war means you can't just level the surrounding villages. Show of force is a good tactic, as it allows the aircraft to even protect small units, who are on a different mission than fighting. "... two-ship Tornado flight to support French convoys ... spent an hour or so covering them... during the mission, call on 'Guard' informing him of a Troops in Contact situation about 30 miles away. to the TiC in under three minutes, show of force/show of presence... After this situation had been settled and the troops were happy, both Tornados returned to their original task of supporting the French convoy, So the pair had only been off station for 20 minutes. " That's some fast and effective use of air power.

Somebody always mentions Vietnam when there's talk about hearts and minds. It's very simplistic to say it didn't work there, so it won't work here, because Vietnam was a very poorly executed hearts and minds campaign with very different circumstances. Sure, the fighters will with 99.9% probability not throw down their weapons, but you can fight them when the odds are not against you. Several days preparation, several trips to visit a village and talk to the people, then comes the day where you can deliver the waterpump, but there are Taliban in the village now. Drop a bomb on the village now? In other situations, it means you can carry out the operation and establish control over an important area, which can strategically be more than killing 10 Taliban. Even though they ran and can fight another day, they've lost the battle. This can be very important, especially if it concerns green zones where the Taliban makes their money.

Due to the examples I've given, it might seem I'm naive to the nature of the fighting going on. Don't worry, I'm also aware of the situations where both coalition troops and Taliban come out to fight, over some useless area, fire their guns, each side going 'home' when night falls, or running home when they get surprised by an IED or RPG attack, or the Taliban running home when a jet shows up. Frustrating as it is, this war in all its unconventionality, is often still fought in a very conventional way. If show of force allows the coalition to fight the war more unconventionally, and according to its rules, it's valid.

Some people here / or just reading this have been to Afghanistan, so this armchair major will shut up now, but this is how I see it.
Title: Re: "Show of Force" passes-- valid, or counterproductive?
Post by: F-111 C/C on February 22, 2010, 04:19:53 PM
Just another reason to cut our losses, pick up our 'toys' and go home. Either fight the war 100% (which means Tactical AND Strategic, which unfortunately includes Civilian casualty) or don't fight it at all. I still believe we have nothing to gain there. That region can't be changed. Just my $.02 :-\