Strengthening the intellectual foundation for our profession of arms.
November 16th, 2016 by James Alexander
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has fulfilled a wide range of tasks across the spectrum of conflict and military operations. This is not likely to change in the future and therefore it is incumbent upon the ADF to train and arm itself appropriately.
The post will argue that due to the ADF’s history of conducting, and likelihood of its future to conduct, stability operations and limited policing roles there will be a requirement to employ precise, less than lethal (LTL) weapon systems. This post will focus specifically on the in-service tactical shotgun, the Remington 870, and the range of LTL ammunition that may be employed by this system.
The in-service tactical shotgun, Remington 870, is the only small arms weapon system that is capable of delivering lethal and LTL effects without modifications between ammunition transitions. That is to say, it is the only small arms weapon system the ADF has that allows the soldier to easily switch between lethal and less than lethal ammunition natures. Some of the LTL ammunition natures that can be provided include Bean Bag rounds, airburst CS Gas rounds, both short and long ranging, fin stabilised rubber projectiles, rubber buckshot, signal flare rounds , thunder-flash/distraction rounds. These ammunition natures’ effects can be applied in crowd control, target marking, and close quarter battle situations.
There currently exists a gap within ADF doctrine on the training of the application of shotgun fire. This includes the application of LTL fires. The development and training on the tactics, techniques and procedures for the transition between lethal and less than lethal fires is not linked to any formal or informal training program for those expected to use the weapon system.
The current range of LTL ammunition within the ADF is limited and held within niche units that are not reflective of the broader ADF community that could use LTL effects on operations.
The ADF already has the majority of the components that can fill the capability gap. The corporate knowledge to develop training and doctrine for the tactics, techniques and procedures for the use of LTL ammunition exists. Current advanced marksmanship training practices can be adapted to suit the use of the tactical shotgun.
The development of the tactical shotgun capability within the ADF requires a formalised training and doctrine development program to capitalise on the experience of serving members. Based on the current allocation of the Remington 870, practise base, and likely tactical application the responsibility for this development should reside within the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP). There are several individuals within the RACMP who have received formal training and developed a wide experiential base in the use of LTL ammunition use. This program should involve the development of a less than lethal ammunition training course, similar to those conducted by the US Military. The 1st Military Police Battalion would be the centre for excellence for this capability with the ability to export training packages based upon demand.
The ADF needs to acquire a comprehensive range of less than lethal ammunition that is suited to the range of tasks likely to be conducted across the spectrum of conflict in the future. This acquisition would also need to be supported by the purchase of bespoke ammunition carriage pouches that are suitable for a combination of lethal and LTL ammunition natures.
The ADF will have a holistic tactical shotgun capability for use on operations across the spectrum of conflict. A deliberate approach to the training and doctrine will ensure the base level of this capability matches the standards of other small arms capabilities within the ADF.
About the Author:
J. Alexander enlisted as a soldier in 2003. He graduated from RMC in 2015 and is posted as an LT to 1MP BN D Coy.
Grounded Curiosity is a platform to spark debate, focused on junior commanders. The views expressed do not reflect any official position or that of any of the author’s employers – see more here.