Recently I've been thinking about how we want our brigade's to fight. Now, that may seem laughable in some ways due to the fact that we have no recent experience in deploying an actual CMBG and our CMBG's aren't really resourced to fight as a formed formation. Having said this, the army says that a brigade is a fighting formation and we train them as such during UNIFIED RESOLVE and, depending on the year, at MAPLE RESOLVE.
In the past few weeks I've had a conversation with one of our brigade commanders on his experiences thus far, read Close Engagement, and read an article on US brigades going through JRTC (https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2018/Oct-Dec/pdf/11_Buzzard_BDE.pdf
) and compared that against an article written by MGen Julian Thompson on his time as Comd 3 Cdo Bde in the Falklands as well as my own correspondence with him.
What the Bde Comd told me was that you can fight a Bde as a big Bn or a small division. I thought that was an interesting approach to answering the question of how a Brigade should fight.
The Canadian Army view is that the Bde is the first level where JIMP actions can take place. The US article above talks about effective Bde's not getting fixated on the "shiny object" of the close fight. They should work in conjunction with Div/Corps/JTF to fight the deep battle. This deep fight sets conditions for success in the close fight and the Bde enables this success through the deep fight, provision of enablers, RAS and reconnaissance to identify the enemy main effort and vulnerabilities. Lastly the Bde should be managing transitions from tactical activity to the next. The Canadian philosophy maybe even more demanding in that the HQ needs to be able to integrate all the potential JIMP assets, and people/personalities. This in my opinion is a description of the "small Div" approach.
Alternately, once 3 Cdo Bde was landed and shed its requirement for dealing directly with the HQ back in the UK it was very much focussed on tactical execution in the close fight. It had little if any deep fight. What I think is most telling is the small size of 3 Cdo Bde's HQ, the speed of its decision making and planning, and the activities of its commander. Comd 3 Cdo Bde would move forward with a recce group, similar to a BG Comd's recce grp, to conduct personal reconnaissance of the ground and enemy before pursuing a decision making process that is fairly similar to our Battle Procedure drill. I would also look at brigades, both US and UK, in Desert Storm that advanced in formations as a formed whole and executed battle drills. I would suggest that this is an example of the "big Bn" approach.
I don't think there is any one right way. It's a matter of what is expected of that brigade and its headquarters to achieve and how large it is, particularly what enablers it has organically or attached. Theoretically, we could take away the JIMP requirements from the Bdes and place them with 1 Cdn Div. I think this approach would be more in synch with our allies, however, if we're sceptical about a deploying Bde then deploying 1 Cdn Div seems just as or even less likely. What I'm thinking right now is that the JIMP enabled Bde that integrates all these enablers and can operate dispersed over a large area of operations is likely the worst case scenario so we should aim to be prepared for that (we've been ordered to anyway). The risk of this is that Bde HQ's are likely to be too big, slow, and vulnerable to operate against a more capable opponent.