Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Splitting Forces

I've mentioned in some other places how the F125 project is part of a very specific effort for specific tasks. Thought I'd expand on that a bit...

The Bundeswehr, in 2003, started a transformation process. The end result of this transformation process will be essentially a three-tier military formed around specific tasks.

The first tier are the Intervention Forces, a core military force of 35,000 combat personnel that will be equipped with top notch equipment, and will be specifically trained for a peace-enforcing role. That is, overpowering an enemy, quickly, with superior technology primarily. This core military force will have about 2 divisions in ground forces available, as well as a modern full-spectrum naval taskforce, and appropriate airforce support for anything that's needed.

The second tier are the socalled Stabilization Forces, which pretty much rely on manpower, and are trained and equipped to handle peace-keeping missions. They will have about 5 divisions in ground forces, a navy taskforce specifically built up around their task, and some serious air support when needed.

The third tier are the Support Forces - pretty much anything that doesn't fit directly into the forward- or rear-echelon combat parts of the first two tiers. The wider logistics scale, infrastructure - including forward bases -, maintenance units, anything that's stationary in Germany, and, pretty important too, all training. This tier supports the other two in their operations, and also provides other, secondary functions also in the civilian world such as for example SAR or VIP transport.

It's actually a rather radical idea to put up the forces along these lines - however, for Germany, it provides the opportunity to streamline their forces their along multinational contribution requirements, to streamline the already low conscript usage by the military - by building "usable" units completely devoid of conscripts - and to streamline funding of course along priorities.

So, the F125. Well, let's first expand on what the navy contributes where according to 2003 data:

Intervention Forces: 3 F124 (AAW), 4 F123 (ASW), 5 K130 (ASuW), 4 U212A (SSK), 6 MCMV, 3 aux
Stabilization Forces: 8 F122 (ASW), 10 S143A (FAC), 4 U206A (SSK), 9 MCMV, up to 6 aux, 10 MPA
Support Forces: all civilian-manned auxiliaries

The F125 is the replacement for the F122 class. It's also the first step at redefining the outfit of the Stabilization Forces in order to make it fit its task.

The long-term plan for the Stabilization Forces is now shaping out to look like this:
  • 4 F125 as "cores" for taskforces, primary role maritime interdiction/land attack; 2014+
  • 6 K131 corvettes, role yet to be defined, replace FACs; 2020+
  • 2-4 U212A submarines, modified for recon/surveillance/SOF role; 2012+
  • 9 MCM units; from existing stock
  • 2 JSS cargo/sealift ships, design yet to be defined, new capability; 2020+
  • 2 AOR; second carrying a containerized joint command center, 2013+
  • 3-4 tenders; from existing stock
  • 8 MPA; for the medium-term, the P-3C recently bought used
These Stabilization Forces have a very broad taskset. One that doesn't really include "traditional" conventional naval warfare though - that's what the Intervention Forces fleet is for. The taskset will be to patrol embargoes, patrol coastal areas, support land-based peacekeeping forces, general littoral-only warfare, SOF support, limited tactical land attack. Within their spectrum, they're capable of dealing with ASW (via helo/MPA/subs), MW and ASuW threats, for AAW beyond self-defence land-based fighters (roughly 2-4 squadrons within the Stabilization Forces) or the Intervention Forces have to lend lateral assistance.

Within that roleset, the F125 outfit - relatively low, special armament, relatively large design, high endurance, small commando carrier - make a lot of sense. The future K131 corvette class will be used to fill holes in the concept, with the design or role to be defined sometime over the next 10 years.

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