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Old February 22, 2007, 06:04 PM   #1
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Modern Warhorse. Could the Cavalry come back?

This is just something that crossed my mind during a long 3 hour drive back to Houston last week.

Cavalry went out because riflemen were able to easily cut them down as they crossed the battlefield during the War Between the States. Apart from that, especially if they were armed with pistols and shotguns, were very effective raiders when you consider Forrest's Cavalry, Terry's Rangers, JEB Stuart's Cavalry etc. Then you have the Texas Rangers of the 1840s-90s. With machineguns today, they would be gunned down easily.

Well, with the advancment of body armor (isn't class III body armor the strongest?) couldn't the horse be covered from head to toe as in the middle ages with the material used in modern body armor but not have to suffer the weight of middle age steel mail armor weighing him down in addition to the rider? They would be protected from most modern rifle rounds and all handgun rounds.
As I see it, horses, if their vunerablity were accounted for, would still have the advantage of not having to use fuel and they can go certain places where modern vehicles cannot go.

I'm sure there is a "Yes but it still wouldn't work because _____________" or "it's not practical with _____________"

Just something that crossed my mind.
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Old February 22, 2007, 06:19 PM   #2
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IIRC, when we went into Afghanistan our special forces who went to assist the warlord factions against the Taliban were often mounted on horse back. This one of the only good ways to get around in really mountainous area such as Afghanistan. I remember seeing photos of bearded U.S. SF with M-4s sitting on horses in calvary style charges.

Not sure about the armor issue, I don't think that would work all that well.
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Old February 22, 2007, 08:12 PM   #3
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couldn't the horse be covered from head to toe as in the middle ages with the material used in modern body armor but not have to suffer the weight of middle age steel mail armor weighing him down in addition to the rider?
One thing that chain mail had going for it was that it allowed heat to dissipate. I don't think a horse would get too far covered head to toe in modern soft armor without heat prostration becoming an issue.
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Old February 22, 2007, 08:40 PM   #4
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Doug -- Avoid the long drives. It gives you way too much time to think.

The only way that I could forsee the horse making a comeback is in some kind of Mad Max, post apocalyptic world, where there is no fuel or real vehicles.
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Old February 23, 2007, 05:05 AM   #5
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And even under kevler, a machine gun would really beat the hell out of your horse.
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Old February 23, 2007, 05:07 AM   #6
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horses are good for difficult terrain... and broke back mountain scenarios * coughs* but even in the 40's the french realised cavalry were outdated against machines.

if the US army does start using them to charge again... we're going to have plenty of glue
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Old February 23, 2007, 05:14 AM   #7
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Putting a horse (Mule) in modern armor would overheat the animal in short order. A saddle and saddle blanket alone puts an enormous stress on the animal. The spine area of a horse provides a large cooling area and when suppressed with a saddle/blanket that cooling can't take place.

The last time I worked with mounted troops was with the USMC at the Mountain Warfare Center at Pickle Meadows, CA. They had/have the last mounted unit/pack animal unit in the US.

I was an Air Force guy and the Marine Sgt Major lived down the street from me. The SGM was cadre at the Meadows and a real horse guy. We had long discussions about the viability of horses and mules while riding together in the Sierra Mountains. The two of us would ride four days a week on average.

We both agreed that horses/pack animals had a limited role in modern warfare but not in a cavalry function.

The SGM quite often called on me as Guest Instructor in regards to horses and mules. This was more than 20 years ago.

For moving equipment into an area that denies vehicles, the pack animal is a viable option. Keep in in mind you must feed, water and quarter the animals. Add 20% to your force just to take care of the animals.

In Afganistan, limited mounted forces are used, but very limited. When mounted, your target profile is more than eight feet above the ground.

Just my thoughts.
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Old February 23, 2007, 05:22 AM   #8
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They had/have the last mounted unit/pack animal unit in the US.
Maybe in the Marines, the army has least one other unit in DC/VA that is also the oldest in the country, part of the old guard. Just FYI
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Old February 23, 2007, 07:49 AM   #9
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Well this thread does bring to mind part of a horse to me.
Use your most powerful weapon first, your brain.....
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Old February 23, 2007, 10:54 AM   #10
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Supposedly during WWI, more fodder or animal feed was shipped from Britain to France than ammuntion, by weight. So they do require fuel, in a manner of speaking. Even if used as dragoons, you loose a trooper as a horse holder when dismounted. Still, there might be something to say for it. They were used in Rhodesia a few years ago and for a time just after WWII, they were used by the army in the Constabulary in Europe. But a horse still makes a big target.
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Old February 23, 2007, 02:46 PM   #11
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There are, of course, numerous times throughout history when a light cavalry made all the difference. That's numerous times.... throughout history.

I'm a horse nut. I've owned, wrangled, trained, and rode 'em for over 40 years, and I'm even more passionate about 'em than I am... *gasp!*... guns! .

I could follow threads like this forever, but it just isn't viable for a defensive tactics & training forum. As much as it pains me to do so, this just isn't on topic here.

Sorry as I am, it's closed.
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