The Minuteman’s Guide to Countering Armored Vehicles *(For Educational Purposes Only)*

The Minuteman’s Guide to Countering Armored Vehicles

 

Since the first tanks and armored cars appeared on the battlefields of WWI Europe, infantrymen have been forced to find ways to deal with them. The modern minuteman is no different, and any prolonged civil conflict in the United States is bound to see armored vehicles used in one form or another. I’m not even talking about fighting a professional military, partisan groups and gangs/cartels have ways of getting or making armored vehicles for use in a prolonged period of conflict/disorder. Some examples are below;

  • In 2020 alone, there were at least two police MRAPs and one National Guard humvee stolen in California during the rioting. The humvee and one MRAP have since been recovered.

  • Mexican Cartels such as the CJNG frequently weld makeshift armored plating onto trucks and install turrets onto them. They call these vehicles “monstruos”, meaning “monsters.”

  • Private ownership of military surplus armored vehicles is perfectly legal as long as the weapons are disabled or removed. For about the same price as a new car you can own an OT-64 SKOT (Polish wheeled amphibious APC). For much less you can buy a surplus humvee. There are many such vehicles in the hands of private citizens for collecting, war re-enacting, etc.

I predict that in a prolonged civil conflict, WROL scenario, etc, it will only take a few weeks before people with access to these vehicles start to roll them out for whatever purpose. For this reason and the hypothetical Chinese invasion, any serious minuteman should be thinking about how to deal with armored vehicles. In this article I will cover the types of armored vehicles, the threat they pose, and how you can fight them or mitigate their effectiveness.

 

The Lessons of Debaltseve: Armored Vehicles Still Matter

 

<> on March 11, 2015 in Donetsk, Ukraine.

After nearly fifteen years of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, American advocates of heavy armored forces interpreted Ukrainian forces’ defeat at the battle of Debaltseve as an indication that “tanks still matter.” But the key lesson of the Debaltseve fight is a broader one: Combat vehicles of whatever kind must provide the mobility, protection, and lethality that commanders require in order to best integrate armor, infantry, and artillery in a combined arms fight.

On February 18, 2015, after several weeks of heavy fighting in and around Debaltseve, pro-Russian forces surrounded the city. Cut off from friendly forces, government troops withdrew from the city in a manner which the Guardian called “anything but orderly.” In the aftermath of the battle, many reports highlighted one particular aspect of the fighting: The separatists’ use of Russian-supplied armored vehicles to drive home their attack.

In a sense, the separatists’ use of armor to achieve battlefield success could be interpreted as a vindication of the continued need for “heavy” forces in contemporary warfare. Several accounts reported the presence of T-72s and T-80s in eastern Ukraine. In late January, pro-Russian armored columns fought entrenched Ukrainian forces outside Debaltseve. Although the Ukrainians reportedly achieved some successes, separatist forces used their tanks’ mobility and firepower to break the Ukrainian defenses and force government troops to withdraw. But focusing on the use of tanks misses the greater significance of the fighting.

Although armored vehicles played an important role in the fighting, the separatists’ success actually was achieved through the effective use of combined arms operations — that is, the coordinated employment of tanks, infantry, artillery, and other battlefield assets to achieve military objectives. Rebel artillery disrupted Ukrainian vehicle columns withdrawing from the city, forcing many soldiers to leave their vehicles behind and evacuate on foot. The Guardian quoted one Ukrainian soldier: “Guys are running out on foot through the fields because [rebels] are shelling vehicles.” The ability to exercise effective command and control by communicating orders and coordinating actions — an essential element in combined arms operations — also proved vital to the separatists’ success. The separatists coordinated their actions better than Ukrainian forces. As Ukrainian commander Semyon Semyonchenko said: “What hindered us in Debaltseve? We had enough men and material… the problem was with the leadership and coordination of actions.” According to Semyonchenko, the Ukrainian defeat was “the result of incompetent management of our troops.”

Read the Remainder at Foreign Policy