What existing military units are most likely to obsolete?

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
In responce to earlier posts, I was in a Parachute Artillery regiment and very much a shoot and scoot, but that was then. I think Drones will take over most of the tasks we used to train for. However to answer the originating question I see the demise of the Parachute unit. Whereas Paratroopers do remain highly motivated and excellent shock troops, I cannot see a future for Brigade or Division sized Airborne formations. There will still be Parachute capabilities but on a small team basis. In Britain I see the Parachute and Commando brigades merging within my lifetime. I could also probably make a case to get rid of the Guards Brigade and Battleships.
I think it would be a bad idea to merge the marine and the paras. Both have their own deployment method (the paras need to focus on air assault more than airborne which is frankly obsolete and only an emergency method of deployment now)
The Royal Marines have become alpine specialists, the paras need to add an environmental specialty like desert warfare.
Both units remain an elite.

Drones (or more correctly UAVs) won't take over the function of a battalion sized artillery fire mission. hey are tremendously useful but there's a limit to the amount of ordnance they can carry.

The British Army will never disband the brigade of guards - it's only an administrative grouping anyway - though I can see the number of foot guards battalions reducing with perhaps the Coldstream and Welsh guards regiments having to merge with the other three.

There are no serviceable/commissioned battleships any - the RN hasn't had one since IIRC 1960 when HMS Vanguard was retired.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
I wouldn't say cavalry is completely obsolete. As long as there are remote regions with underdeveloped infrastructure and open terrain, horse soldiers can be useful scout/patrol/security forces. The US and their local allies used cavalry in Afghanistan (here's a photo from 2001), and China maintains mounted troops for stuff like border patrol and logistics support along parts of their northern frontier. Neither the US nor China have what I would describe as outdated armed forces. Are horse cavalry effective frontline troops in a war between two superpowers? Most likely not. Do they still have a use for auxiliary roles in remote, guerilla-infested regions with poor transport and communication networks? I'd say yes.
In terms of horsed units, yes they're obsolete but cavalry units turned in their horses for armored vehicles (or helicopters in the US Army) many years ago.
There will always be a need for reconnaissance troops.

If a 4x4 armored jeep style vehicle can't access an area, you need infantry. ATV equipped units have proven a failure.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
If you know when, where and what you will be firing well in advance of the decided time, you can basically pack up everything beforehand and even have the command team doing their part from the back of the truck already, only the ammunition needed for your firing plan stored with the guns, nothing extra set up anymore (no tents, camofalgue etc), the guns aimed in beforehand already, all communication wireless so no cables to gather etc.

With everything 100% optimised for a hasty departure then yes, you would only spend a minute getting the guns locked in traveling positions and attached to the trucks, then everyone jumps aboard the trucks and you're off in maybe 2 minutes after the last shots are fired.

But this is not a normal situation for towed artillery, just as getting shots off asap after driving into position is not normal either, unless you have just arrived to try and stop a breakthrough. Artillery needs too much stuff setup to be prepared to get shots out fast when the calls from the spotters come in - and you don't know when those calls will be coming in or what they will be asking for.

If you need to tell them to wait 10 or 20 minutes extra because you need to prepare for a getaway before you fire, you will be useless to them in a lot of situations. For example if they request counter-battery fire, you will need to fire asap or miss the chance and if you fire asap, you are not prepared for a quick getaway.
Towed artillery only need to be used with light formations and don't really strike at opportunity targets - that is for drones, aviation and CAS
Light artillery units are for deliberate fire only and must be prepared to move after every fire mission in a general warfare scenario. But then again, when has any Western army fought a conventional battle ? The last one I can think of was in 1982 in the Falkland Islands.
 
May 2019
385
Earth
In terms of horsed units, yes they're obsolete but cavalry units turned in their horses for armored vehicles (or helicopters in the US Army) many years ago.
There will always be a need for reconnaissance troops.

If a 4x4 armored jeep style vehicle can't access an area, you need infantry. ATV equipped units have proven a failure.
Have you spent much time in the Mongolian steppe? If I had to do extended recon or patrol work on the ground out there, I'd much rather have a horse than a "4x4 armored jeep style vehicle". Grass grows for free out of the dirt, motor fuel doesn't. Horses are still more reliable means of transport in certain parts of the world where the nearest town with auto-parts might be several days journey. Same goes for those mountainous regions of Afghanistan where US 5th Special Forces Group were operating; horses were far more readily available and easier to maneuver in that terrain than motor vehicles.

"They rode trails a foot wide alongside a 1,000 feet (300 m) cliff, sometimes at night. During the next few weeks they rode from 10 to 30 kilometres (6.2 to 18.6 mi) per day."

Your "4x4 armored jeep style vehicle" wouldn't do so well in those conditions, and infantry will take longer than horses.
 
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Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,775
Towed artillery looked at in isolation seem vulnerable but then almost all the methods of making their life difficult so far have counter measures... it is a big loop and a combatant force needs to dominate several parts of that force loop to prevail.

Drones have limited ordnance and susceptible to several countermeasures- drone swarms are probably the most difficult to counter at the moment but also the least deadly on a unit basis- they can take out small targets but to be effective on a symmetrical combatant basis would require a huge amount of logistics that are also vulnerable to attack.

Maybe when AI arrives and vehicles to put that AI in command of that are sufficiently robust and can carry enough munitions and fuel for long term operations we can talk about the end of war as we know it but in my opinion that is probably at least a century away if not further. Even then I doubt vehicles than can fight for sustained periods can self-repair or restock supplies without accompanying human soldiers and the full spectrum of ordnance that has been developed- if anything it will simply increase the complexity of warfare and make wide spectrum dominance even more important. (full spectrum is not sustainable in my opinion)
 
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Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
Have you spent much time in the Mongolian steppe? If I had to do extended recon or patrol work on the ground out there, I'd much rather have a horse than a "4x4 armored jeep style vehicle". Grass grows for free out of the dirt, motor fuel doesn't.
Where is that not the case ?

...horses are still more reliable means of transport in certain parts of the world where the nearest town with auto-parts might be several days journey. Same goes for those mountainous regions of Afghanistan where US 5th Special Forces Group were operating; horses were far more readily available and easier to maneuver in that terrain than motor vehicles...
OK, special forces are different - hell they might even be trained to use camels to transport humans and/or equipment.

Horses are no bullet proof and vulnerable to IED and attack from almost any type of combat unit.
You have to take vehicle spares with you or have a good supply tail. In the 1990/91 Gulf War British SAS patrols hunting Iraqi Scud missiles were either on foot or in patrol vehicles - they didn't take animals.



Your "4x4 armored jeep style vehicle" wouldn't do so well in those conditions, and infantry will take longer than horses.
They are not horsed units. In extremely rugged mountainous territory the mule is still a good option for transportation.

You don't fight from or patrol on horses.
 
May 2019
385
Earth
Where is that not the case ?
My point was just that there are parts of the world where it's still far more practical to get horse fodder than motor fuel, which means that horses are still not a completely outmoded means of transport in those places, and if I had to run patrols in them, I'd rather use a horse than a jeep for practical reasons.

In extremely rugged mountainous territory the mule is still a good option for transportation.
Good point.

You don't fight from or patrol on horses.
Well as I said earlier, the PLA still runs border patrols in Inner Mongolia on horseback. Logistically its simpler to operate horses in that kind of region than motor vehicles, and that was the point I was trying to make about horses not being totally obsolete in areas with poor supply lines and infrastructure.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,866
Georgia, USA
My point was just that there are parts of the world where it's still far more practical to get horse fodder than motor fuel, which means that horses are still not a completely outmoded means of transport in those places, and if I had to run patrols in them, I'd rather use a horse than a jeep for practical reasons.
I don't believe that - behind the lines, special forces aside, a military formation cannot function without good supply. What is it now 1 combat soldier needs 10 soldiers in support.

If you were going to give an area for an infantry battalion to patrol, you would never issue them horses.

Well as I said earlier, the PLA still runs border patrols in Inner Mongolia on horseback. Logistically its simpler to operate horses in that kind of region than motor vehicles, and that was the point I was trying to make about horses not being totally obsolete in areas with poor supply lines and infrastructure.
That's more of a border guard role - it's not really a combat ready unit.
The USA has a mounted border guard patrol on the Mexican border:


 
May 2019
385
Earth
I don't believe that - behind the lines, special forces aside, a military formation cannot function without good supply. What is it now 1 combat soldier needs 10 soldiers in support.
This isn't just behind the lines. If the frontlines were out in Khovsgol Province, you'd still find it simpler to supply horse soldiers than motorized ones, unless you were operating near an urban center. Horses don't need jerry cans of fuel or spare tires to be brought along with them. I'm not saying you couldn't operate scout vehicles in that kind of region, just that horses are more practical.

If you were going to give an area for an infantry battalion to patrol, you would never issue them horses.
No I wouldn't, I'd use cavalry troops trained for the job ;)

That's more of a border guard role - it's not really a combat ready unit.
It's still a military role. The OP asked about military units, not specifically combat units. I already said I don't think horse cavalry can hold their own in frontline combat anymore (unless maybe for some reason they're fighting an opposing horse cavalry or light infantry force...)

The USA has a mounted border guard patrol on the Mexican border:
Isn't the US Border Patrol a civil agency? The horse troops I was talking about are actually part of the Chinese army.