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Georgie

What does "Conscript" mean in CM terms?

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Someone mentioned recently that conscripts have pathfinding problems. Has that been confirmed?

Michael

I can't say I've noticed conscript drivers having any more trouble getting about the map than other levels of experience, at least while not under threat.

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I think it's fair to say that the US had troops in WWII who would definitely have met the definition of conscripts. But they were salted in with more experienced troops - I also think it's fair to say that the US didn't have any companies made up entirely of conscripts, and probably not any platoons.

Here's a former artilleryman's recollection of being used as infantry at Bastogne.

After we were there for a day or two, the 101st Airborne Division took charge of us, organizing us into groups. They told us what we had to do and where we had to go. We became infantrymen instead of artillerymen.

Our roadblock was the second of three lines of defense. The 101st guys with their tanks were in front of us -- they were clever boys, the real fighters. Behind us was a field with artillery that fired over us.

It was a pretty good unit on our roadblock, 75 to 100 guys. Some were 101st guys, and there were some Army engineers and stragglers from other units mixed in there, too. We all had M-1 rifles, and some had carbines. But we had cooks and bakers who hadn't fired a gun in years.

We spent four or five days at the roadblock in the cold and snow. We were off to the side of the road and had trees, stone walls and foxholes for protection.

The Germans shelled us to soften us up and made several runs at us. They would first run into the 101st guys farther out. And the gunners behind us would fire their howitzers to the point where they were told to slacken off because we didn't have that much ammo.

We could see the Germans and their tanks. We'd crouch down, hold fast and hope they'd get stopped before they got to us.

That was crunch time -- fear and anxiety time. But they never quite got up to us at the roadblock.

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It's fair to say that the US troops who hit the beaches in North Africa or came in later as reinforcements were all green. That is, they had had as much training as the Army establishment could give them, but that was not really adequate to prepare them for combat against a first rate army such as the Heer in 1942, and the number of vets among them would have been very few indeed...and among the vets, almost none would have faced WW II Germans. So it was learning on the job, and some of the lessons were very tough indeed. Since all this applied to their officers as well, it was made doubly hard.

The troops who hit the beaches on D-Day were a different story. Except in the 1st. Inf. Div. and the 82nd. Airborne, those divisions also had not experienced combat as units. But they were heavily salted with veterans, and their training had better prepared them for the tasks they would have to face. It was still hard and there was still learning on the job, but they were vastly more efficient than their brethren of a year and a half earlier.

Michael

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I recall back awhile ago Steve once instructing scenario designers to never make U.S. troops 'conscripts'. Even a buck private had gone through boot camp and spent time on the rifle range at some point. The worst of 'em would at least be 'green', even cooks and graves registry. 'Conscript' would be for the shop keeper handed a gun and told to go fight. Which way do you point the rifle and make it fire? ;)

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'Conscript' would be for the shop keeper handed a gun and told to go fight. Which way do you point the rifle and make it fire? ;)

That's worth keeping in mind. But it's also worthwhile to examine the attributes of the different grades of troops as they are represented in the game to see if they are consistent with their defined capabilities. The feeling is in some quarters that they might be overrated in some attributes, such as morale, which leads some players to use lower-rated troops than the histories might record in order to obtain more "realistic" outcomes. Speaking for myself, I am not entirely comfortable with that technique as it may also impact other areas in ways that are not realistic.

Michael

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The troops who hit the beaches on D-Day were a different story... those divisions also had not experienced combat as units. But they were heavily salted with veterans

Is that true - did 29th and 4th Inf Divs really contain drafts pulled out of their units in the Med and inserted into 4 and 29 to provide a leavening of experience? I know some of the senior commanders had been punted about a bit - Bradley had been getting jiggy wit' it in the Med, for example, and Joe Collins had been driving The Electric Strawberry around Guadalcanal. But how far down the food chain did that kind of thing extend?

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The 29th. of course began as National Guard division and was therefore highly regional in its composition. However, as it prepared to ship overseas it received drafts from other part of the country. I would have to look a Balkowsky again to see what he says about them receiving veteran NCOs and officers after arriving in England, but ISTR him mentioning it.

The 4th. I know little about except that they fought reasonably well from the beginning. The 2nd. Armored of course had some combat experience, but I am not sure what proportion of their personnel had been in the division more than a few months.

In any event, my sense of it is that the veteran personnel doing the salting would have been in most cases senior NCOs and field grade officers.

Michael

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I would be very careful about giving any one in Normandy a conscript rating which, to me, would indicate soldiers who have not completed their basic training or who have been rushed through it as US soldiers in particular were in the autumn of 1944 and sent to their units as replacements, To represent a US company fightingg in the Hurtgen Forest I would rate the unit as Regular overall but with many squadseither Green or Conscripts. Remember also you can fine tune a unnit by manipulating Leadership Ratings and Motivation.

In Normandy the worst units such as the Ostruppen I would give a rating of Green to their front line troops but if I wanted a unit to contain their support staff sent in as replacements these would be rated as Green. Same principle applies to higher grade units. Thei support troops, used as replacements ought to be a grade or two worse than usual eg a Regular Divison might have the support troops graded as green or even conscript.

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<snip> To represent a US company fightingg in the Hurtgen Forest I would rate the unit as Regular overall but with many squadseither Green or Conscripts.

<snip>In Normandy the worst units such as the Ostruppen I would give a rating of Green to their front line troops but if I wanted a unit to contain their support staff sent in as replacements these would be rated as Green.

Really? I'd see it the other way around. Ost Truppen would be more like conscripts - after all many surrendered right away. Others did fight bitterly. The US troops repple deppled were definitely very poor quality and died awfully fast - but still I'd rate them green. If there was somewhere between green and conscript they'd get that - but green -2 leadership, morale. regular fitness. After all US troops still got basic, etc and were fed reasonably well until they hit the very front lines. Different than some of the utterly chaotic situations Wehrmacht troops were pressed into service in.

Of course once the US troops hit France and the Repple Depple center things get crazy. Then they end up in a unit somewhere, alone, and tended to die fast. If you lasted a couple days maybe they'd learn your name.

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Remember at a certain level a lower experience level has its advantages. 'Too stupid to take cover' could be charitably interpreted as 'willing to cover more ground under fire'. I recall an anecdote, a couple veteran G.I.s fighting in France are huddling in a fold the the terrain avoiding mg fire. A young lieutant fresh out of officer training school runs up to them yelling "Get on your feet! Go after than machinegun ne..." and is cut down instantly right in front of them.

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Remember at a certain level a lower experience level has its advantages. 'Too stupid to take cover' could be charitably interpreted as 'willing to cover more ground under fire'. I recall an anecdote, a couple veteran G.I.s fighting in France are huddling in a fold the the terrain avoiding mg fire. A young lieutant fresh out of officer training school runs up to them yelling "Get on your feet! Go after than machinegun ne..." and is cut down instantly right in front of them.

Heck, that should be a new experience level: Butterbar. :D

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Really? I'd see it the other way around. Ost Truppen would be more like conscripts - after all many surrendered right away. Others did fight bitterly. The US troops repple deppled were definitely very poor quality and died awfully fast - but still I'd rate them green. If there was somewhere between green and conscript they'd get that - but green -2 leadership, morale. regular fitness. After all US troops still got basic, etc and were fed reasonably well until they hit the very front lines. Different than some of the utterly chaotic situations Wehrmacht troops were pressed into service in.

Of course once the US troops hit France and the Repple Depple center things get crazy. Then they end up in a unit somewhere, alone, and tended to die fast. If you lasted a couple days maybe they'd learn your name.

You would also consider the leadership and morale alongside that. Give your conscripts good leadership and male them well motivated and give them a good defensive position and they might put up a decent fight,

Regarding the US in Hurtgen Forest I did say "Green or Conscript" depending on how bad they are and there is nothing to stop you grading some squads as conscript, some as gree, some as regular. In this case a conscript rating would mean rushed through training and sent to the front line as replacements into a squa where there were no surviving veterans to tell them what to do (The only survivors f the last battle were a couple of very lucky rookies who don't rreally know what they are doing themselves yet. A green rating would be a lot of new replacements go to a squad where someone knows what they are doing. You can fine tune this with a good leader. Or of course you might give the squad a poor leader just out of trainng school himself and something of an incompetent. That squad is really unlcky and probably won't survivve.

Then of course there are the German Volksgrenadiers but we probably won't see them until Market Garden (though perhaps it would be better to entitle the game "West Wall" or "Siegfried Line" f t is going to deal with the autumn/early winter battles on GGermany's Western border.:D

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In this case a conscript rating would mean rushed through training and sent to the front line as replacements into a squa[d] where there were no surviving veterans to tell them what to do...

My emphasis.

This highlights that the ratings of a given element are an "average" of the element's consituent pTruppen's individual ratings. I don't know how much variation there is, or whether a Green squad could, at the ends of the probability spectrum contain 1 Elite and 7 Conscript pTruppen, but I'm sure BFC have asserted that there is some variation within elements.

I'd rate OstBatallions as Green, exceptionally Regular or Conscript, just with a maximum morale in any non-Cadre element of "Low", with many being "Poor". They'd been under arms for long enough to not be Conscripts, mostly.

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My emphasis.

This highlights that the ratings of a given element are an "average" of the element's consituent pTruppen's individual ratings. I don't know how much variation there is, or whether a Green squad could, at the ends of the probability spectrum contain 1 Elite and 7 Conscript pTruppen, but I'm sure BFC have asserted that there is some variation within elements.

I'd rate OstBatallions as Green, exceptionally Regular or Conscript, just with a maximum morale in any non-Cadre element of "Low", with many being "Poor". They'd been under arms for long enough to not be Conscripts, mostly.

Green sounds about rightthouh they could have an occasional regular and several coscript squads, I don't think an elite or veteran rating is justified. Remember we can still tweak the morale and leadership ratings if we need to. In principle we could have a conscript squad with a +2 leadership and fanatic morale. The squad leader is very skilful tactician and very capable in motivatinghisrawrecruits. Assumming they survive long enough their rating will risedue to succesful combat experience with this leader.

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Michael, others on whether US forces in Normandy were "all green".

In many units, perhaps, but there were definitely exception. The experience level of the parts of the US force in Normandy was above that of many of the German units opposite, depsite the Germans having been in the war much longer.

82nd airborne was a veteran division that had fought in Sicily. 101 was new to combat, but its cadre were veterans from the 82nd, the men were picked and highly trained. It's combat performance was not behind that of the 82nd.

2nd and 3rd armored were the first US ADs ashore. 2nd was a veteran division, which had fought in Tunisia and Sicily. 3rd was new to combat.

Of the beach infantry divisions, 1st was the most experienced unit in the US army, veterans of North Africa and Sicily. 4th was new to combat, but was one of the few peacetime regular divisions in the army (activated 1940), and had been training as a unit since 1941, before the US entered the war - between green and regular. Of the US D-Day force, only the 29th was truly green, a national guard division, and it had 20 months of training in England before the invasion.

The follow on infantry divisions, 2nd was another prewar regular division like the 4th, without prior combat experience but with years of training. 5th was similar (it had occupied Iceland before US war-entry, though first formed in 1939). The 9th was new to combat as a full division but elements of it had fought in North Africa.

In comparison, the static German IDs defending the coast were all green and contained Ost battalions that might merit "conscript" raitings. 352 on Omaha was the exception, a veteran division, and the toughest on D-Day. The first German mobile units into action were 21st Panzer, which despite its storied unit number was not a veteran of North Africa, since the entire original division of that number was destroyed there. It was entirely new as a unit; at best it had some veteran cadre. 17th SS was the first major mobile unit faced on the US part of the front - and it was entirely green. Despite its later reputation, so was 12SS when it first met the Canadians - and in addition it had only half its allowed TOE of NCOs, so its cadre was notably thin. Only a few of the field grade and higher officers were long service veterans. Many of the FJ formations that fought so well on the US part of the front were likewise completely green at the start of the battle.

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Michael, others on whether US forces in Normandy were "all green".

In many units, perhaps, but there were definitely exception. The experience level of the parts of the US force in Normandy was above that of many of the German units opposite, depsite the Germans having been in the war much longer.

82nd airborne was a veteran division that had fought in Sicily. 101 was new to combat, but its cadre were veterans from the 82nd, the men were picked and highly trained. It's combat performance was not behind that of the 82nd.

2nd and 3rd armored were the first US ADs ashore. 2nd was a veteran division, which had fought in Tunisia and Sicily. 3rd was new to combat.

Of the beach infantry divisions, 1st was the most experienced unit in the US army, veterans of North Africa and Sicily. 4th was new to combat, but was one of the few peacetime regular divisions in the army (activated 1940), and had been training as a unit since 1941, before the US entered the war - between green and regular. Of the US D-Day force, only the 29th was truly green, a national guard division, and it had 20 months of training in England before the invasion.

The follow on infantry divisions, 2nd was another prewar regular division like the 4th, without prior combat experience but with years of training. 5th was similar (it had occupied Iceland before US war-entry, though first formed in 1939). The 9th was new to combat as a full division but elements of it had fought in North Africa.

In comparison, the static German IDs defending the coast were all green and contained Ost battalions that might merit "conscript" raitings. 352 on Omaha was the exception, a veteran division, and the toughest on D-Day. The first German mobile units into action were 21st Panzer, which despite its storied unit number was not a veteran of North Africa, since the entire original division of that number was destroyed there. It was entirely new as a unit; at best it had some veteran cadre. 17th SS was the first major mobile unit faced on the US part of the front - and it was entirely green. Despite its later reputation, so was 12SS when it first met the Canadians - and in addition it had only half its allowed TOE of NCOs, so its cadre was notably thin. Only a few of the field grade and higher officers were long service veterans. Many of the FJ formations that fought so well on the US part of the front were likewise completely green at the start of the battle.

Of the divisions that were well trained but lacking combat experience i think Regular would be appropriate. Hitler Jugund going into its first battle at Buron shoud IMHO be rated as Regular bit would tend to have very good leaders (many small unit leaders came from Liebstandarte) and very high morale. Morale would start falling slightly due to casualties and +2 squad leaders might become less common after two or three weeks but the overall quality of units would rise. But headcount can and should be reduced due to combat losses and the nature of the German replacement system

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What about tank crews where a veteran or regular trooper was make a tank crewman with just a few days training? Seems to me like he would be conscript and if there was more than two or so "conscript" crewman then the entire tank crew would be conscript till the trained part of the crew got them up to speed.

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Hitler Jugund going into its first battle at Buron shoud IMHO be rated as Regular...

It may have performed as well as a "regular army" division, but it hadn't exactly got years of combat exercises under its belt. Green with High or better Morale and good leadership at the squad level, with some of the HQ and other "organisational" elements at Veteran with good leadership scores would characterise it better in those first months. Regular squads would be an exception, in that formation, I reckon, representing the rare concentration of "natural soldiers" who've internalised their training better than their equally keen comrades.

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... SNIP ...

Then of course there are the German Volksgrenadiers but we probably won't see them until Market Garden (though perhaps it would be better to entitle the game "West Wall" or "Siegfried Line" f t is going to deal with the autumn/early winter battles on GGermany's Western border.:D

I don't believe it would be correct to consider Volksgrenadiers as generally being at conscript level if that was your intended implication. Many of the Volksgrenadier divisions were reformed from previous Heer formations and certainly had their share of veterans in their ranks.

Perhaps you were thinking of Volksturrn instead. There'd be absolutely no argument on that point.

Regards

KR

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It may have performed as well as a "regular army" division, but it hadn't exactly got years of combat exercises under its belt. Green with High or better Morale and good leadership at the squad level, with some of the HQ and other "organisational" elements at Veteran with good leadership scores would characterise it better in those first months. Regular squads would be an exception, in that formation, I reckon, representing the rare concentration of "natural soldiers" who've internalised their training better than their equally keen comrades.

Their training methods were different, more akin to those used by moddern armies only tougher. Some 2000 officers from the Liebstandarte were trssferred yo the new HJ division in 1943. The recrits had already had some pre military training in shooting and field craft and this was built upn furtherwith pririty placedon physical fitness, character and weapons training. Training was, and this is important conducted under conditions as close as possible to combat conditios. Sport was used to improve physiacl fittness (this would also develop team work) and marksmanship training was undertaken uin the countryside, not in barracks The recruits got to know the officers and NCOs who would lead them into battle (Steel Inferno Michael Reynolds)

So, while the division as a whole lacked combat experience other many officers and NCOshad seen intensive combatwith iebstandarte and knew whatthey were doing. These skills were taught to the new recruits. Plu of course a very high esprit de corps was developed though various methds including political indoctrinaton. Hence, while the HJ had not seen combat prio to 7 June 1944 they wre very well tained under combat cnditions and were a vbery str=ong team with high elan. Hence the ratings suggested. And, unlike many new divisions HJ performed well intheir first combat. 9th and10th SS, Herman Goering 9the replacement who first fought at Gela) and severl Panzer Divisions. They also learned quickly and performed very well in Normandy despite taking heavy losses(many veteran German units including Liebstandarte also suffered similar casualty rates)

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I don't believe it would be correct to consider Volksgrenadiers as generally being at conscript level if that was your intended implication. Many of the Volksgrenadier divisions were reformed from previous Heer formations and certainly had their share of veterans in their ranks.

Perhaps you were thinking of Volksturrn instead. There'd be absolutely no argument on that point.

Regards

KR

Not my intended implication. Some fought well and mihht well be classed as Regular. Others were lousy and might be considered as conscripts. Mosthwever I would regard as Green

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What about tank crews where a veteran or regular trooper was make a tank crewman with just a few days training? Seems to me like he would be conscript and if there was more than two or so "conscript" crewman then the entire tank crew would be conscript till the trained part of the crew got them up to speed.

Nothing to stop us rating individual tank crews if we wish. We could have a Tank Ace like Wittmann and his crew with very high ratings all round.

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