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This is a true After Action report (AAR).  I played this game last year against one of my most skilled opponents (ScoutPL).  The scenario was Green Hell, my goal was to protect the Farm and Cafe objectives, and if possible, try to take the la Madeleine objective.  Simple no?  This was the first time I had played this scenario and the scenario and sides were chosen by my opponent.

I will give a general overview along with a quick and dirty METT-T analysis, then I'll get right into the action.  A word of warning though, there will be no long range tank fights in this AAR, it will be a tough costly mainly infantry slug-fest for both sides.  I do hope however that I can at least show my philosophy when on the defense.  I will be honest, I struggle the most with the defense, I am very offensive minded and just can't help myself sometimes and overextend, right Baneman?  ;)

MISSION

The mission is simple, hold the enemy at bay and force him to waste his combat power on the drive to my objectives, so that when he arrives he will have a spent force.  My main goal is to protect the two objectives in my zone, and preserve my force as much as possible.

01-TAC.PNG

ENEMY

I have been told to expect German FJ troops in unknown strength, though if I go by the tactical map above I can expect a combined force of infantry and armor.  All I really know is that they should be entering around the a Madeleine objective area... if the tactical map above is correct.

TERRAIN

My force is sitting on a ridge-line, so I should have good lines of sight across the entire map.  Whether that means I will be able to spot much is another matter.  The map is also broken up by bocage lined fields.  However they are easily penetrated, so will be easily flanked, also those fields will mask movement wonderfully, for both sides.

02.png

TROOPS

I command Baker Company, with a weapons company (Dog) in support.  I will get into my initial plans for this battle in a future post.  Initial deployments are shown below.. Baker is spread across the entire ridge-line and Dog has been broken up evenly to support Baker's Platoons.

03.png

04.png

TIME

I have 1 hour and 20 minutes to hold off the enemy.  That is a long time, but will also mean that ammo supply could be the deciding factor at the end.

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I've played this PBEM on both sides.  It is a really well done scenario and I am anxious to see how you approach it.   Been too long since you've done an AAR. Huzzah!

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Thanks fellas.

For some of my philosophy you can read my two part blog post on playing a defensive game:  PLATOON DEFENSE Part 1 and PLATOON DEFENSE Part 2

A quote from part 1:

Quote

There is precious little written about how to properly conduct a defense in Combat Mission games. Even most of my writings have been on maneuver and attack. I must confess that I find playing the defensive role in these games can be a serious challenge. Primarily because of the attacker’s main advantages:

  • The attacker almost always has a numerical superiority
  • The attacker often holds a massive combat power disparity over the defender
  • The attacker can choose where to attack, the defender has to account for all possibilities, which in most cases is an impossible task
  • The attacker has the initiative, he decides where and when any activity, movement or attacks, will occur

Many times those advantages are simply too great to overcome, but our goal, as defenders, is to make the attacker’s job more difficult and to take away at least some of his advantages, by:

  • Attriting the attacking force, ideally to a point where the attack is no longer viable, but at least to a point that forces the attacker to slow his advance
  • Keeping the attacker on his toes, in short, wrestle the initiative away from him and force him to react to our actions
  • Keeping the attacker at arm's length with picket forces, keeping the main combat power in reserve for counter-attacks or spoiling attacks
  • Ambushing enemy forces whenever possible, then getting out of the area as quickly as possible to reset in the next ambush position
  • Counter-attacking with a force large enough to cause serious damage
  • Conducting spoiling attacks on targets of opportunity whenever possible
  • Delaying - trade space for time, make the attacker bleed for every meter gained, make him get cautious, or so frustrated he gets careless
  • Maintaining a positive exchange ratio - try not to lose more than the attacker does, if that starts to happen your defense will unravel
  • Maintaining patience - trying to “make something happen” is almost always a recipe for disaster
  • Identifying the attacker’s schwerpunkt (if he has one), and planning ways to deal with it through counter-attacks, spoiling attacks, ambushes, etc.  
  • NEVER engaging the enemy strength with your strength, always look for opportunities to inflict pain by a thousand cuts, one small enemy unit at a time
  • Ensuring the attacker maintains a cautious approach and runs out of either enough combat power or enough time to complete his mission

I think of myself as an active player, so a static defense really goes against my grain and in my opinion leaves the defending player open to having his force taken apart one piece at a time.  Frederick the Great put it best when he said, “He who defends everything defends nothing”. I prefer an active defense, one that allows counter-attacks, spoiling attacks, and an active mobile force with which to react to and to interdict enemy movements.  

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”George S. Patton

I will, hopefully, illustrate some of the items I have bolded above in this AAR, and hopefully will throw in a surprise or two along the way.

Bil

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Posted (edited)

Yay, @Bil Hardenberger is back with a vengeance.

14 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

I will be honest, I struggle the most with the defense,

Oh man same here.

Quote

I am very offensive minded and just can't help myself sometimes and overextend, right Baneman?  ;)

LOL for me its just because I suck :): poor patience, poor judgment of when to pull back. I am looking forward to this read.

Edited by IanL
spelling

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TERRAIN ANALYSIS

Okay, for this AAR I am going to provide several maps to help orient you to the terrain.  Here is the base map with elevations turned on:

TERRAIN-+BASE.PNG

That is clear as mud isn't it?  You can loosely make out the road net, but the bocage map and even the elevations are tough to decipher.  I added the 100 meter grid in Photoshop. 

ELEVATION TEMPLATE

This map was created specifically to highlight the elevation on this map.  Blue indicates low ground, while red is high, you can clearly see that the terrain rises from the bottom left corner to the top right.  My forces are arrayed on this ridge and will have great visibility.

Elevation+Template.PNG

OBSTACLE TEMPLATE

This map clears up the terrain and clearly shows the obstacles in this scenario.  I will use this map periodically to help you orient the actions throughout this AAR. This template includes the general location of my initial dispositions in blue.

TERRAIN-+OBSTACLE.PNG

BOCAGE TEMPLATE

This map clearly shows the road net, and the bocage map.  It helps to keep these types of maps clear of clutter for planning and for analysis throughout a game.  

TERRAIN-+BOCAGE+MAP.PNG

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

I added the 100 meter grid in Photoshop. 

OBSTACLE TEMPLATE

This map clears up the terrain and clearly shows the obstacles in this scenario.  I will use this map periodically to help you orient the actions throughout this AAR. This template includes the general location of my initial dispositions in blue.

TERRAIN-+OBSTACLE.PNG

NICE!!! I really like the 100 meter grid.  With the obstacle template you can see the likely avenues of approach.  Of course if he has engineers he may create some different avenues.   

Edited by MOS:96B2P

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Looking at the OBSTACLE TEMPLATE it seems like the scenario designer have included a rather large amount of 'gap-tiles' and other openings in the bocage...

It does not look like movement will be all that restricted...atleast not for infantry...armour might be a bit more restricted though...lots of gates around but they look a bit tricky...providing a way in...but perhaps not out.

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Looking forward to this. :) Looks like an interesting scenario and an interesting test for your defence guidelines Bill.

Reviewing the map looks like a good way to figure out where those obscure 'gap-tiles' are amongst other things.

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This will be the final analysis post, if these posts are the appetizer, then after this post I will be jumping into the main course.  I hope these aren't too boring for you.  ;) 

ENEMY AXIS OF APPROACH (AOA) ANALYSIS

After looking at the map I thought my opponent had three main options for his attack.  I think that he will use the road network for his armor, they allow longs fields of fire and he can clear the bocage lined shoulders with his infantry and armor.  Anyway, that is how I would attack on this map, and I would do it on more than one axis while maintaining at least a third of my combat power for a breakthrough attack, penetration and exploitation at the location he looks weakest: stretch him, identify weak point(s), penetrate weak point(s), exploit.  To find out whether that is what my opponent does or not, you will have to stay tuned!

AOA+Analysis.png

AOA 1 (AXIS RED) - to me seemed the most likely AOA - it contains a good road network for his armor, and is the shortest route to my objectives. 

AOA 2 (AXIS ORANGE) - another highly likely AOA as it also contains a strong road network, however this route would be costly in time and ammo supply due to the length of road he would need to clear.

AOA 3 (AXIS YELLOW) - a very unlikely AOA in my opinion.  This route is not armor friendly, and it would mean clearing bocage field after bocage field on the way to my objectives.

The drawback for all of these AOAs is that I will see him coming and can take action to block his path.  

The following screenshots show the map from his perspective... thought they might help set the scene.

AXIS RED SECTOR:06.png

AXIS ORANGE SECTOR:05.png 

 

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Those overhead views really help (me at least)  visualize what is so clear to you on the other maps you’ve posted. Are the sightlines from your positions giving you good view of the approaches? To me it appears that you’d only be able to see to the next hedgerow. 

 Not boring at all, Bil! 

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What does your set-up zones look like ? Could you perhaps post a screenshot showing them ? 

Is turn 1 bombardment allowed in this fight ?

If so...Are you concerned about a linear barrage hitting your frontline hedgerow ? That could be painful.

Maybe your opponent don't considder waisting artillery on a 'chans' target is a good idea...but if he does...and get's it right...ouuchh !

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RepsolCBR said:

What does your set-up zones look like ? Could you perhaps post a screenshot showing them ? 

Is turn 1 bombardment allowed in this fight ?

If so...Are you concerned about a linear barrage hitting your frontline hedgerow ? That could be painful.

Maybe your opponent don't considder waisting artillery on a 'chans' target is a good idea...but if he does...and get's it right...ouuchh !

As for an opening turn artillery strike... that could indeed happen, but how would he know what my setup zone actually is and be able to take advantage of it?  I setup right to the boundaries of my setup zone with as much of my force as possible to get as many eyes looking down hill as possible.

SETUP+ZONE.PNG

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INITIAL MOVES

I moved a small portion of my units into picket positions, and a small scout force of two jeeps down what I identified as AOA RED.  The intention with my pickets, which are very small units made from splitting squads, is to get close if possible to the enemy's lines and setup listening and observation posts to identify movements.  My scout force is a bit stronger and the idea is for them to be my first defense along AOA RED, they have one bazooka on hand.  They are meant to be a speed bump and to slow, not stop, any enemy advance down this approach.

001-A.png

Scouts disembarking:

001-B.PNG

ENEMY CONTACTS

It didn't take long for me to start identifying enemy units, and with these contacts and subsequent movements I will put together an intelligence picture of my opponent's intent.  The intial enemy contacts were two STuGs and one UI infantry unit, which was moving, otherwise I doubt I would have seen it. 

One STuG (identified as STUG 01) is sitting on the AXIS ORANGE road and facing my ridge-line.  Right now it appears to be a support by fire asset, but more information is needed.  Also along AXIS ORANGE is the moving UI Infantry unit.  I can't make any assumptions about what he is intending on this axis yet.  I will await further information. 

On the AXIS RED road sits another STuG (STUG 02), this vehicle did not move this turn, but just sat facing up the road.  The white carrots in the following image indicates facing for the enemy armored vehicles.

001-C.png

STUG 01:

001-D.png

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Posted (edited)

Definitely not boring. The last image clearly shows the extent of the hill your opponent has to overcome.

Are you intending to have a reserve to counter attack if the situation presents itself?

Edited by Josey Wales

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Josey Wales said:

Are you intending to have a reserve to counter attack if the situation presents itself?

From my post above, when playing on the defense I always try to find opportunities for:

  • Counter-attacking with a force large enough to cause serious damage
  • Conducting spoiling attacks on targets of opportunity whenever possible

I am not saying whether or not an opportunity presents itself for either of the above in this battle, but yes, I am prepared to act if it does.  It is too early in this fight to start thinking that way right now.

Edited by Bil Hardenberger

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21 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

STUG 01:

001-D.png

Did that Stug Fire on you? Normally AFV's don't adjust their gun elevation unless they are aiming to fire (and then they don't adjust them back again until it is needed for another target).

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